Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto.
~ 2 Chronicles 21:11
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
~ Matthew 5:32
Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty.
~ Leviticus 5:3
But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
~ 2 Peter 2:10
Directions against Fornication and all Uncleanness, by Richard Baxter. The following contains an excerpt from Volume One his work, “The Christian Directory”.
Title 1. Directions against Fornication and all Uncleanness
THOUGH as they are sins against another, adultery and fornication are forbidden in the seventh commandment, and should there be handled, yet as they are sins against our own bodies, which should be members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Ghost, as 1 Cor. 6:15. 18, 19., so it is here to be handled among the rest of the sins of the senses: and I the rather choose to take it up here, because what I have said in the two last titles, against Gluttony and Drunkenness serve also for this. The same arguments and convincing questions, and directions, will almost all serve, if you do but change the name of the sin: and as the reader loveth not needless tediousness, so I am glad of this means to avoid the too often naming of such an odious, filthy sin, yet something most proper to it must be spoken. And 1. I shall shew the Greatness of the sin; and 2. Give Directions for the cure.
1. There is no sin so odious, but love to it, and frequent using it, will do much to reconcile the very judgment to it: either to think it lawful, or tolerable and venial; to think it no sin, or but a little sin, and easily forgiven. And so with some brutish persons it doth in this. But 1. It is reason enough against any sin, that it is forbidden by the most wise, infallible, universal King of all the world. Thy Maker’s will is enough to condemn it, and shall be enough to condemn those that are the servants of it. He hath said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery. Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind—shall inherit the kingdom of God. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What! know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body: for two (saith he) shall be one flesh: but he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication: every sin that a man doth is without the body: but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” (Mark that he speaketh not this to fornicators: for their bodies are not temples of the Holy Ghost; but to them that by filthy heretics in those times were tempted to think fornication no great sin.) “But fornication, and all uncleanness, and covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints: neither filthiness, not foolish talking, nor jesting.—For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience: be not ye therefore partakers with themg.” “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,—of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the lust of concupiscence, as the Gentiles which know not Godi.” “Marriage is honourable, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” The abominable,—and whoremongers— shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstonel.” “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers.”—”Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal firen.” I shall add no more lest I be tedious.
2. ‘Besides Scripture, God hath planted in nature a special pudor and modesty to restrain this sin: and they that commit it do violate the law of nature, and sin against a witness and condemner that is within them.’ And scarce any one of them ever committeth it boldly, quietly, and fearlessly, till first they have hardened their hearts, and seared their consciences, and overcome the light of nature, by frequent, wilful sinning. Nature hideth the obscene parts, and teacheth man to blush at the mention of any thing that is beyond the bounds of modesty. Say not that it is mere custom, for the vitlated nature of man is not so over precise, nor the villany of the world so rare and modest, but before this day it had quite banished all restraints of this sin, above most others, if they could have done it, and if God had not written the law which condemneth it very deep in nature, with almost indelible characters. So that in despite of the horrid wickedness of the earth, though mankind be almost universally inelined to lust, yet there be universally laws and customs restraining it; so that except a very few savages and cannibals like heasts, there is no nation on the earth where filthiness is not a shame, and medesty layeth not some rebukes upon uncleanness. Ask no further then for a law, when thy nature itself is a law against it. And the better any men is, the mere doth he abhor the lusts of uncleanness. So than “among saints,” saith the apostle, it is not to be named;”: (that is, not without need and detestation.) “Forit is a shame even to speak of those things that are done of them is secret.” And when drunkenness had uncovered the shame of Noah, his son Ham is cursed for beholding it, and the other sons blest for their modest and reverent covering him.
3. And that God hath not put this law into man’s nature without very great cause, albeit the implicit belief and submission due to him should satisfy us, though we know not the means particularly, yet much of them is combine to common observation: as that if God had not restrained lust by laws, it would have made the female sex most contemptible and miserable, and used worse by men than dogs are. For, first, rapes and violence would deflower them, because they are too weak to make resistance: and if that had been restrained, yet the lust of men would have been unsatisfied, and most would have grown weary of the same woman whom they had abused, and taken another, at least, when she grew old they would choose a younger, and so the aged woman would be the most calamitous creatures upon earth: Besides that lust is addicted to variety, and groweth weary of the same; the fallings out between men and women, and the sicknesses that make their persons less pleasing, and age, and other accidents, would expose them almost all to after misery. And men would be law-makers, and therefore would make no laws for their relief, but what consisted with their lusts and ends. So that half the world would have been ruined, had it not been for the laws of matrimony, and such other as restrain the lusts of men.
4. Also there would be a confused mixture in procreation, and no men would well know what children are their own: which is worse than not to know their lands or houses.
5. Hereby all natural affection would be diminished or extinguished: as the love of husband and wife, so the love between fathers and children would be diminished.
6. And consequently the due education of children would be hindered, or utterly overthrown. The mothers, that should first take care of them, would be disabled and turaed away, that fresh harlots might be received, who would hate the offspring of the former. So that by this means the world and all societies, and civility would be ruined, and men would be made worse than brutes, whom nature had either better taught, or else made for them some other supply. Learning, religion, and civility would be all in a manner extinct, as we see they are among those few savage cannibals that are under no restraint. For how much all these depend upon education, experience telleth us. In a word, this confusion in procreation, would introduce such confusion in men’s hearts, and families, and all societies, by corrupting and destroying necessary affection and education, that it would be the greatest plague imaginable to mankind, and make the world so base and beastly, that to destroy mankind from off the earth would seem much more desirable. Judge then whether God should have left men’s lusts unrestrained.
Object. ‘But (you will say) there might have been some moderate restraint to a certain number, as it is with the Mahometans, without so much strictness as Christ doth use.’
Answ. That this strictness is necessary, and is an excellency in God’s law, appeareth thus. 1. By the greatness of the mischief which else would follow: to be remiss in preventing such a confusion in the world, would be an enmity to the world. 2. In that man’s nature is so violently inclined to break over, that if the hedge were not close, there were no sufficient restraining them; they would quickly run out at a little gap. 3. The wiser and the better any nation or persons are, even among the heathens, the more fully do they consent to the strictness of God’s laws. 4. The cleanest sort of brutes themselves are taught by nature to be as strict in their copulations: though it be otherwise with the mere terrestrial beasts and birds, yet the aerial go by couples: those that are called the fowls of the heavens, that fly in the air, are commonly taught this chastity by nature; as if God would not have lust come near to heaven. 5. The families of the Mahometans that have more wives than one, do shew the mischief of it in the effects, in the hatred and disagreement of their wives, and the great slavery that women are kept in; making them like slaves that they might keep them quiet. And when women are thus enslaved, who have so great a part in the education of children, by which all virtue and civility are maintained in the world, it must needs tend to the debasing and brutifying of mankind.
7. Children being the most precious of all our treasure, it is necessary that the strictest laws be made for the securing of their good education and their welfare. If it shall be treason to debase or counterfeit the king’s coin, and if men must be hanged for robbing you of your goods or money, and the laws are not thought too strict that are made to secure your estates; how much more is it necessary that the laws be strict against the vitiating of mankind, and against the debasement of your image on your children, and against that which tendeth to the extirpation of all virtue, and the ruin of all societies and souls.
8. God will have a holy seed in the world, that shall bear his image of holiness, and therefore he will have all means fitted thereunto. Brutish, promiscuous generation tendeth to the production of a brutish seed. And though the word preached is the means of sanctifying those that remain unsanctified from their youth; yet a holy marriage, and holy dedication of children to God, and holy education of them, are the former means, which God would not have neglected or corrupted, and to which he promiseth his blessing: as you may see, 1 Cor. 7:14. Mal. 2:15. “Did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth: for the Lord hateth putting away.”
9. Yea, lust corrupteth the mind of the person himself, if it be not very much restrained and moderated. It turneth it from the only excellent pleasure, by the force of that brutish kind of pleasure. It carrieth away the thoughts, and distempereth the passions, and corrupteth the fantasy, and thereby doth easily corrupt the intellect and heart. Pleasure is so much of the end of man, which his nature leadeth him to desire, that the chief thing in the world to make a man good and happy, is to engage his heart to those pleasures which are good, and make men happy. And the chief thing to make him bad and miserable, is to engage him in the pleasures which make men bad and end in misery. And the principal thing by which you may know yourselves or others, what you are, is to know what your pleasures are; or at least, what you choose and desire for your pleasure. If the body rule the soul you are brutish, and shall be destroyed: if the soul rule the body, you live according to true human nature and the ends of your creation. If the pleasures of the body are the predominant pleasures which you are the most addicted to, then the body ruleth the soul, and you shall perish as traitors to God, that debase his image, and turn man into beast: if the pleasure of the soul be your most predominant pleasure, which you are most addicted to, (though you astain as yet but little of it,) then the soul doth rule the body, and you live like men: and this cannot well be, till faith shew the soul those higher pleasures in God and everlasting glory, which may carry it above all fleshly pleasures. By all this set together you may easily perceive that the way of the devil to corrupt and damn men, is to keep them from faith, that they may have no heavenly, spiritual pleasure, and to strengthen sensuality, and give them their fill of fleshly pleasures, to imprison their minds that they may ascend no higher: and that the way to sanctify and save men, is to help them by faith to heavenly pleasure, and to abate and keep under that fleshly pleasure that would draw down their minds. And by this you may see how to understand the doctrine of mortification, and taming the body, and abstaining from the pleasures of the flesh: and you may now understand what personal mischief lust doth to the soul.
10. Your own experience and consciences will tell you, that if it be not exceedingly moderated, it unfitteth you for every holy duty. You are unfit to meditate on God, or to pray to him, or to receive his word or sacrament: and therefore nature teacheth those that meddle with holy things to be more continent than others; which Scripture also secondeth. Such several things and sacred things do not well agree too near.
11. And as by all this you see sufficient cause why God should make stricted laws for the bridling of lust, than freshly, lustful persons like; so when his laws are broken by the unclean, it is a sin that conscience (till it be quite debauched) doth deeply accuse the guilty for, and beareth a very clear testimony against. O the unquietness! the horror! the despair that I have known many persons in, even for the sin of self-pollution, that never proceeded to fornication! And how many adulterers and fornicators have we known that have lived and died in despair, and some of them hanged themselves! Conscience will condemn this sin with a heavy condemnation, till custom or infidelity have utterly seared it.
12. And it is also very observable, that when men have once mastered conscience in this point, and fornieation it so this sin of fornieation, it is an hundred to one that they are utterly hardened in all abomination, and scarce make conscience of any other villatty whatsoever. If once fornication go for nothing, or a small matter with them, usually all other sin is with them of the same account: if they have but an equal comptation to it, lying, and swearing, and perjury, and theft, you and murder, and treason would seen small too: I never know any one of these but he was reconcileable and prepared for any villany that the devil set him upon: and if I know such a man, I would no more trust him than I would trust a man that wants nothing but interest and opportunity to commit any heinoun sin that you can name. Though I confess I have known divers of the former sort, that have committed this sin under barrier and despair, that have retained some good in other points, and have been recovered; yet of this latter sort, that have reconciled their consciences to fornication, I never knew one that was recovered, or that retained any thing of conscience or honesty, but so much of the show of it as their pride and worldly interest commanded them: and they were mallgnant enemies of goodness in others, and lived according to the unclean spirit which possessed themu. They are terrible words, Prov. 2:18, 19., “For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead none that go unto her return again, neither take they hold on the paths of life.” Age keepeth them from actual filthiness and lust (and so may hell, for there is no fornication): but they retain their debauched, seared consciences.
13. And it is the greater sin because it is not committed alone; but the devil taketh them by couples. Lust inflameth lust: and the fuel set together makes the greatest flame. Thou art guilty of the sin of thy wretched companion, as well as of thine own.
14. Lastly, the miserable effects of it, and the punishments that in this life have attended it, do tell us how God accounteth of the sin: it hath ruined persons, families, and kingdoms: and God hath borne his testimony against it, by many signal judgments, which all histories almost acquaint you with. As there is scarce any sin that the New Testament more frequently and bitterly condemneth, (as you may see in Paul’s Epistles, 2 Pet. 2., Jude, &c.) so there are not many that God’s providence more frequently pursueth with shame and misery on earth: and in the latter end of the world, God hath added one concomitant plague not known before, called commonly, the ‘lues venerea,’ so that many of the most brutish sort go about stigmatised with a mark of God’s vengeance, the prognostic or warning of a heavier vengeance. And there are none of them all (that by great repentance be not made new creatures) but leave an infamous name and memory when they are dead, (if their sin was publicly known.) Let them be never so great, and never so gallant, victorious, successful, liberal, and flattered or applauded while they lived, God ordereth it so, that truth shall ordinarily prevail with the historians that write of them when they are dead; and with all sober men their names rot and stink, as well as their bodies. “The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot.” So much of the greatness of the sin. Boniface archbishop of Mentz, writing to Ethilbald an English king that was a fornicator, Epist. 19. saith, ‘Fornication is a reproach, not only among Christians, but Pagans— For in old Saxony if a virgin had thus stained her father’s house, or a married woman, breaking the marriage covenant had committed adultery; sometimes they force her to hang herself with her own hand, and over her ashes when she is burnt they hang the fornicator: sometimes they gather a band of women, they lead her about, scourging her with rods; and cutting off her clothes at the girdle, and with small knives cutting and pricking all her body, they send her from village to village, thus bloody and mangled with little wounds; and so more and more, incited by a zeal for chastity, do meet her and scourge her again, till they leave her either dead or scarce alive, that others may fear adultery and luxury. And the Wineds, which are the filthiest and worst sort of men, do keep the love of matrimony with so great a zeal, that the woman will refuse to live when her husband is dead. And after some reproofs of the fornicating king, he addeth these further stories. Ceolred, your Highness’ predecessor, as they witness who were present, he being splendidly banqueting with his earls, was by the evil spirit that drew him to violate God’s law, suddenly distracted in his sin; so that without repentance and confession, being raging mad and talking with the devil, and abominating God’s priests he departed out of this life, no doubt to the torments of hell. And Osred (king of the Deiri and Bernicii) the spirit of luxury carried in fornication and defiling the sacred virgins in the monasteries, till such time as by a vile and base kind of death, he lost his glorious kingdom, together with his youthful and luxurious life. Wherefore most dear son, take heed of the ditch into which thou hast seen others fall before thee.—’ Vid. Auct. Bib. Pat. tom. ii. p. 55, 56.
And how great sufferings were laid on priests, monks, and nuns that had committed fornication, by several years imprisonment and scourging, see ibid. p. 84. in an edict of Carloman, by the advice of a council of bishops.
And Epist. lxxxv. p. 87. Boniface writeth to Lullo that he was fain to suffer a priest to officiate, baptize, pray, &c. that had long ago committed fornication, because there was none but he alone to be had in all the country, and he thought it better to venture that one man’s soul, than let all the people perish, and desireth Lullo’s counsel in it. By all which we may see how heinous a sin fornication was then judged.
Object. ‘But (say the filthy ones,) did not David commit the sin of adultery? Did not God permit them many wives among the Jews? How many had Solomon? Therefore this is no such great sin as you pretend.’ Thus every filthiness a little while will plead for itself.
Answ. David did sin: and is the sin ever the less for that? It is easier to forbear it, than undergo the tears and sorrows which David did endure for his sin! Besides the bitterness of his soul for it, his son Absalom rebelleth and driveth him out of his kingdom, and his own wives are openly defiled; and yet God leaveth it as a parpetual blot upon his name. Solomon’s sin was so great that it almost ruined him and his kingdom: though experience caused him to say more against it than is said in the Old Testament by any other, yet it is a controversy among divines whether he was ever recovered and saved: and ten tribes of the twelve were therefore taken from his line, and given to Jerebeam. And is this any encouragement to you to initate him? Christ telleth you in the case of divorcement, that God permitted (not allowed, but forbore) some such sins in the Jews, because of the “hardness of their hearts;” but from the beginning it was not so; but one man and one woman were conjoined in the primitive institution. And the special reason why plurality was connived at among the Jews, was for the fuller peopling of the nation; they being the only covenanted people of God, and being few among encompassing enemies, and being separated from the people of the earth, their strength, and safety, and glory lay much on their increased number, and therefore some inordinacy was connived at for their multiplication, but never absolutely allowed and approved of. And yet fornication is punished severely, and adultery with death.
II. The Directions against Fornications
Direct. I. ‘If you would avoid uncleanness, avoid the things that dispose you to it’ as gluttony, or fulness of diet, and pampering the flesh, idleness, and other things mentioned under the next title, of subduing lust. The abating of the filthy desires, is the surest way to prevent the filthy act; which may be done if you are but willing.
Direct. II. ‘Avoid the present temptations.’ Go not where the snare lieth without necessity. Abhor the devil’s bellows that blow up the fire of lust; such as enticing apparel, filthy talk and sights, of which more also under the next title.
Direct. III. ‘Carefully avoid all opportunity of simting.’ “Come not near the door of her house,” saith Solomon. Avoid the company of the person thou art in danger of. Come not where she is: this thou canst do if thou art willing; none will force thee. If thou wilt go seek for a thief, no wonder if thou be robbed. If thou wilt go seek fire to put in the thatch, no wonder if thy house be burnt. The devil will sufficiently play the tempter; thou needest not help him; that is his part, leave it to himself; it is thy part to watch against him: and he will find thee work; if thou watch as narrowly and constantly as thou canst, it is well if thou escape. As thou lovest thy soul, avoid all opportunities of sinning: make it impossible to thyself: much of thy safety lieth in this point. Never be in searet company with her thou art in danger of; but either not at all, or only in the sight of others: especially contrive not such opportunities, as to be together in the night, in the dark, or on the Lord’s day when others are at church (one of the devil’s seasons for such works), or any such opportunity, leisure and secresy: for opportunity itself is a strong temptation. As it is the way to make a thief, to set money in his way, or so to trust him as that he can easily deceive or rob you and never be discovered; so it is the way to make yourself unclean, to get such an opportunity of sinning, that you may easily do it without any probability of impediment or discovery from men. The chief point in all the art or watch is, to keep far enough off. If you touch the pitch you will be defiled. “Whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.” “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burnt? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burnt? So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife.” Bring not the fire and the gunpowder too near. If thou canst not keep at a distance, nor forbear the presence of the bait, thou art not like to forbear the sin.
Direct. IV. ‘Reverence thy own conscience.’ Mark what it speaketh now, for it will shortly speak it in a more terrible manner: hear it voluntarily; for it is terrible to hear it when thou canst not resist: treat with conscience in the way while it is reconcileable; for thou knowest not how terrible a tormentor it is. I doubt not but it hath given thee some gripes for thy very lust, before it ever came to practice: but the sorest of its gripes now, are but like the playing of the cat with the mouse, before the killing gripe is given. Doth no man see thee? Conscience seeth thee: and thou art a wretch indeed if thou reverence not conscience more than man: as Chrysostom saith, ‘Supper no man know the crime but himself and the woman with whom he did commit it! How will he bear the rebukes of conscience; when he carrieth about with him so sharp and bitter an accuser? For no man can overrun himself; and no man can avoid the sentence of
this court within him: it is a tribunal not to be corrupted with money, nor perverted by flattery; for it is divine, being placed in the soul by God himself: the less the adulterer now feeleth it, the more he hasteneth to the perdition of his soul.’ Dost thou not feel a sentence passed within thee? A terrible sentence, telling thee of the wrath of a revenging God! Bless God that it is not yet an irreversible sentence; but sue out thy pardon quickly lest it come to that. Dost thou not feel, that thou art afraid and ashamed to pray or to address thyself to God? Much more afraid to think of dying, and appearing before him? If thy sin make thee ready to fly from him now, if thou knewest how, canst thou look him in the face at last; or canst thou hope to stand with comfort at his bar? Art thou fit to live in heaven with him, that makest thyself unfit to pray to him? Even lawful procreation (as I said before) doth blush to come too near to holy exercises: as Chrysostom saith, ‘Die quo liberis operam dedisti legitime, quamvis crimen illud non sit, orare tamen non audes—Quod si ab incontaminato lecto resurgens times ad orandum accedere; quum in diaboli lecto sis, cur horribile Dei nomen audes invocare?’ Conscience is a better friend to, thee than thou dost imagine when it would reclaim thee from thy sin: and will be a sharper enemy than thou canst now imagine, if thou obey it not.
Direct. V. ‘Suppose thou sawest written upon the door of the house, or chamber where thou enterest to sin, “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” And write that, or such sentences upon thy chamber door, or at least upon thy heart.’ Keep thy eye upon the terrible threatenings of the dreadful God. Darest thou sin, when vengeance is at thy back? Will not the thought of hell-fire quench the fire of lust, or restrain thee from thy presumptuous sin? Dost thou not say with Joseph, “How shall I do this great wickedness and sin against Godf?” As it is written of a chaste woman that being tempted by a fornicator, wished him first at her request to hold his finger in the fire: and when he refused, answered him, ‘Why then should I burn in hell to satisfy you?’ So ask thyself, can I more easily overcome the flames of hell, than the flames of lust?
Direct. VI. ‘Remember man that God stands by.’ If he were not there, thou couldst not be there: for in him thou livest, and movest, and art. He that made the eye must see, and he that made the light and darkness, doth see as well in the dark as in the light: if thou imagine that he is absent or ignorant, thou believest not that he is God: for an absent and ignorant God, is no God. And darest thou, I say darest thou, commit such a villany and God behold thee? What! that which thou wouldst be ashamed a child should see! which thou wouldst not do if a man stood by! Dost thou think that thy locks, or secresy of darkness, have darkened or shut out God? Dost thou not know that he seeth not only within thy curtains, but within thy heart? O what a hardened heart hast thou that in the sight of God, thy maker and thy judge, darest do such wickedness! Ask thy conscience man, would I do this if I were to die to-morrow, and go to God? would I do this if I saw God, yea, or but an angel in the room? If not, shouldst thou do it, when God is as sure there as if thou sawest him? O remember man that he is a holy God, and hateth uncleanness, and that he is a consuming fire!
Direct. VII. ‘Suppose all the while that thou sawest the devil opening thee the door, and bringing on thy mate, and driving on the match, and persuading thee to the sin?’ What if he appeared to thee openly to play his part, as sure as he now playeth it unseen? would not thy lust be cooled? and would not the devil cure the disease which he hath excited in thee? why then dost thou obey him now, when he is as certainly the instigator as if thou sawest him? Why man, hast thou so little reason, that seeing and not seeing will make so great a difference with thee? What if thou wert blind, wouldst thou play the fornicator before all the company, because thou seest them not? when thou knowest they are there? If thou know any thing, thou knowest God is there: and thou mayst feel by the temptation that satan is in it. Wilt thou not be ruled by the laws, unless thou see the king? Wilt thou not fear the infection of the plague unless thou see it? Use thy reason for thy soul as well as thy body; and do in the case as thou wouldst do if thou saw the devil tempting thee, and Christ forbidding thee.
Direct. VIII. ‘If thou be unmarried marry,’ if easier remedies will not serve. “It is better to marry than burn.” It is God’s ordinance partly for this end. “Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiledi.” It is a resemblance of Christ’s union with his church, and is sanctified to believers. Perhaps it may cast thee upon great troubles in the world, if thou be unready for that state (as it is with apprentices). Forbear then thy sin at easier rates, or else the lawful means must be used though it undo thee. It is better thy body be undone than thy soul, if thou wilt needs have it to be one of them: but if thou be married already thou art a monster and not a man, if the remedy prevail not with thee: but yet the other directions may be also serviceable to thee.
Direct. IX. ‘If less means prevail not, open thy case to some able, faithful friend, and engage them to watch over thee; and tell them when thou art most endangered by the temptation.’ This will shame thee from the sin, and lay more engagements on thee to forbear it. If thou tell thy friend, Now I am tempted to the sin, and now I am going to it; he will quickly stop thee: break thy secresy and thou losest thy opportunity. Thou canst do this if thou be willing: if ever thy conscience prevail so far with thee, as to resolve against thy sin, or to be willing to escape, then take time while conscience is awake, and go tell thy friend: and tell him who it is that is thy wicked companion, and let him know all thy haunts, that he may know the better how to help thee. Dost thou say, that this will shame thee? It will do so to him that it is known to: but that is the benefit of it, and that is the reason I advise thee to it, that shame may help to save thy soul. If thou go on, the sin will both shame and damn thee: and a greater shame than this is a gentle remedy in so foul and dangerous a disease.
Direct. X. Therefore, if yet all this will not serve turn thy ‘Tell it to many, yea rather tell it to all the town than not be cured:’ and then the public shame will do much more: confess it to thy pastor, and desire him openly to beg the prayers of the congregation for thy pardon and recovery. Begin thus to crave the fruit of church discipline thyself; so far shouldst thou be from flying from it, and spurning against it as the desperate, hardened sinners do. If thou say, this is a hard lesson, remember that the suffering of hell is harder. Do not say that I wrong thee, by putting thee upon scandal and open shame: it is thou that puttest thyself upon it, by making it necessary, and refusing all easier remedies. I put thee on it, but on supposition that thou wilt not be more easily cured: almost as Christ puts thee upon “cutting off a right hand;” or “plucking out a right eye lest all the body be cast into hell.” This is not the way that he commandeth thee first to take: he would have thee avoid the need of it: but he tells thee that it is better to do so than worse; and that this is an easy suffering in comparison of hell, And so I advise thee, if thou love thy credit, forbear thy sin in a cheaper way; but if thou wilt not do so, take this way rather than damn thy soul. If the shame of all the town be upon thee, and the boys should hoot after thee in the streets, if it would drive thee from thy sin, how easy were thy suffering in comparison of what it is like to be? Concealment is satan’s great advantage. It would be hard for thee to sin thus if it were but opened.