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I proceed, in the next place, to set before you some of those declarations against it which are to be found in Scripture. I could produce a great deal out of the Book of Proverbs, from the Book of Wisdom, and the prophets, but I shall confine myself to what Christ and his apostles have said, as being of the higher authority with us, and that according to which we shall be judged. "Out of the heart," says our Saviour himself, "proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies these are the things which defile a man." This is what our Saviour himself says; and one word from him decides the point. You will observe also with what company fornication is classed-with murders, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. I do not mean that these crimes are all to be reckoned equal, because they are all mentioned together; but it proves that they all are crimes. The Apostles are more full; and for this reason, that they had to do with the heathens, who made very light of this crime. Saint Peter enforces the duty of chastity upon the new Christians in the following very strong terms:
Dearly beloved," says he in his first epistle, "I beseech you as pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." And again, in his second epistle : "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgement to be punished; but chiefly 'them that walk after the flesh, in the lust of uncleanness." These are very plain and affecting words:
"the Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgement to be punished; but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness." Saint Paul also has treated this subject very largely; as indeed he had occasion, being that to which the people he wrote to were before their conversion much addicted: "but fornication, and all uncleanness, let it not be once named amongst you, as becometh saints." Saint Paul shows here very plainly his sense of the heinousness of this vice. He not only says, let it not be practised, but "not once named amongst you, as becometh saints."-This to the Ephesians. To the Corinthians he sets forth the guilt of this vice in this way: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy." And that the defiling here spoken of is intended of fornication is pretty plain from what he says more fully in the sixth chapter of his epistle-" Flee fornication; every sin that a man doth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body in the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God; and ye are not your own."
I do not want to explain the argument here used by Saint Paul, or all the expressions contained in it; because I produce it only to show what it says without any explanation-that Saint Paul condemned fornication as absolutely and peculiarly inconsistent with the Christian profession. In his Epistle to the
Colossians (for I think there is hardly one of his epistles which does not take notice, more or less, of this), he charges them as follows: "Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence; for which things' sake," he adds, "the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience." For which things' sake; that is, for the sake of fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence. This is a very awakening rebuke to these vices; we find that they call down upon them the wrath of God. Once more also, in his Epistle to the Thessalonians: "This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication." Had the Apostle stopped here, he had told us every thing we wanted of the will of God. "This is the will of God; and to know that will and do it is the whole of our business here:" but he proceeds, " that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel (namely, his own body) in sanctification and honour: not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles, which know not God; for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." There are two very remarkable passages to our purpose in the Revelation of St. John, in which you cannot fail to take notice both of the terrible sentence denounced against fornication amongst some other crimes, and also with what other crimes it is classed: "The fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have
their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." And again, speaking of those who shall be excluded from the divine presence, he says:"Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." The words of the text I reserve for the conclusion, because it is both positive, and withal so short as to be easily carried in memory. It is in the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews and the fourth verse: "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."
I shall make no sort of remark on what has been said, but this one; that if you are satisfied, partly from the harm it does, but principally from these places of Scripture, that whoredom is really contrary to the will of God, and will draw down his wrath upon it, it matters not how light the world may in general make of it; because it is by the rules of Scripture and reason that we shall be judged at last, and not by the opinion of the world.
HEBREWS XIII. 4.
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
I HAVE in a former discourse set forth the effects of lewdness as we see them in this world; and also the consequences that we are to expect to ourselves in the next world, if the threats and declarations of Scripture are to be depended on. I made no other observation upon these effects or these declarations than simply this that if we saw reason to believe from either of them, or both of them together, that a course of unlawful lewdness was inconsistent with our hopes of salvation, not to suffer ourselves to be led away by the opinion of the world, or expect that these things would pass for trifles hereafter, because they are amongst many accounted trifles here. If, then, this be a vice of that serious nature, and which may have such serious effects upon our everlasting condition, the next great consideration will be, what are the proper preservatives and precautions against it.