commit violence against the image of God in the person


of our brethren; so neither in our As we are not to rob the society to which we belong, or any part of it, of the service which any other of its members might do it; we are not to rob it either of what we might do. As we are not to send any one else out of the world prematurely, we are not to send ourselves : but " wait “ (with patience) all the days of our appointed “ time, till our change come. 4. If the sins which persons have committed, prompt them to despair, they, of all others, instead of rushing into the presence of God, by adding this dreadful one to them, should earnestly desire “ space to repent;": which, by his grace, the worst of sinners may do, and be forgiven. If their misfortunes, or sufferings, make them weary of life; he hath sent them these with design, that they should not by unlawful means evade them, but go through them well; whether they be inflicted for the punishment of their faults, or the trial of their virtues. In either case, we are to submit quietly to the discipline of our heavenly Father ; which he will not suffer to be heavier than we can bear, whatever we may imagine, but will support us under it, improve us by it, and, in due time, release us from it. But, in any case, for persons to make away with themselves, is to arraign the constitution of things which he hath appointed; and to refuse living, where he hath put them to live, a very provoking instance of undutifulness, and made peculiarly fatal by this circumstance, that leaving usually no room for repentance, it leaves none for pardon ; always excepting where it proceeds from a mind so disordered by a bodily disease, as to be incapable of judging or acting reasonably. For God knows, with certainty, when this is the cause, and when not; and will, accordingly, either make due allowances, or make none.


(4) Job xiv. 14.

(5) Rev. ii. 21.

And if destroying ourselves be a sin, doing any thing wilfully or heedlessly, that tends to our destruction, must in proportion be a sin. Where, indeed, necessity requires great hazards to be run by some persons, for the good of others—as in war in extinguishing dangerous fires, in several cases which might be named ; or where employments and professions, which somebody or other must undertake-or such diligence in any employment as men are, by accidents, really called to use, impair health, and shorten life; there, far from being thrown away, it is laudably spent in the service of God and man. But for any person to bring on himself an untimely end, by adventurous rashness--by ungoverned passion-by immoderate anxiety, or by an obstinate or careless neglect of his own preservation, is unquestionably sinful. And above all, doing it by debauchery, or immoral excess, is a most effectual way of ruining soul and body at once.

Let us, therefore, be conscientiously watchful against every thing which may provokė, or entice us to be injurious, either to others or ourselves. And God grant that we may so regard the lives of our fellow.creatures, and so employ our own, that we may ever please the Giver and Lord of life; and, having faithfully lived to him here; may eternally live with him hereafter ; through Jesus Christ our only Saviour. Amen.


Seventh Commandment.

IN speaking of this Commandment, it is proper to begin with observing, that, as in the Sixth, where murder is forbidden, every thing which tends to it, or proceeds from the same bad principle with it, is forbidden too; so here, in the Seventh, where adultery is prohibited, the prohibition must be extended to whatever else is cri. minal in the same kind. And, therefore, in explaining it, I shall treat, first, of the fidelity which it requires from married persons, and then of the chastity and modesty which it requires from all persons.

First; of the fidelity owing to each other from married persons.

Not only the Scripture account of the creation of mankind, is a proof to as many as believe in Scripture, that the union of one man with one woman, was the original design and will of heaven; but the remarkable equality of males and females born into the world is an evidence of it to all men. Yet, notwithstanding, it must be owned, the cohabitation of one man with several wives at the same time was practised very anciently in the darker ages, even by some of the Patriarchs, who were otherwise good persons; but, having no explicit revealed rule concerning this matter, failed of discerning the above-mentioned purpose of God. And both this error, and that of divorce on slight occasions, were tolerated by the law of Moses. But that was only as the laws of other countries often connive at what the law-giver is far from approving. Accordingly God expressed, particularly

by the Prophet Malachi, his dislike of these things. And our Saviour both tells the Jews, that Moses permitted divorces at pleasure, merely 66 because of the hardness of their hearts," and peremptorily declares, that “whosoever shall put

away his wife, except it be for fornication, and “ shall marry another, committeth adultery."2 Now, certainly, it cannot be less adulterous to marry a second, without putting away a first.

Nor is polygamy (that is, the having more wives than one at once) prohibited in Holy Writ alone, but condemned by many of the heathens themselves, who allege against it very plain and forcible reasons. It is inconsistent with a due degree of mutual affection in the parties, and due care in the education of their children. It introduces into families perpetual subjects of the bitterest enmity and jealousy ; keeps a multitude of females in a most unnatural bondage, frequently under guardians fitted for the office by unnatural cruelty ; and tempts a multitude of males, thus left unprovided for, to unnatural lusts. In civilized and well-regulated countries, therefore, single marriages have either been established at first, or prevailed afterwards on experience of their preferableness ; and a mutual promise of inviolable ..faithfulness to the marriage-bed hath been understood to be an essential part of the contract; which promise is, with us, most solemnly expressed in the office of matrimony, by as clear and comprehensive words as can be devised. And unless persons are at liberty, in all cases, to slight the most awful vows to God, and the most deliberate engagements of each to the other; how can they be at liberty in this, where public good, and private happiness, are so deeply interested ? i Breaches of plighted faith, as they must be

(1) Mal. ii. 14, 15, 16.

(2) Matt. xix. 8, 9.

preceded by a want of sufficient conjugal affection in the offending party, so they tend to extinguish all the remains of it, and this change will be perceived, and will give uneasiness to the innocent one, though the cause be hid. But if it be known, or merely suspected by the person wronged, (which it seldom fails to be in a little time) it produces, from the make of the human mind, in warmer tempers, a resentment so strong, in milder, an affliction so heavy, that few things in the world equal either. - For love is strong as “ death, jealousy is cruel as the grave, the coals " thereof are coals of fire.”3 And with whatever vehemence they burn inwardly or outwardly, it can be no wonder, when perfidious unkindness is found in that nearest relation, where truth and love were deliberately pledged, and studiously paid on one side, in expectation of a suitable return; and when the tenderest part of the enjoyment of life is given up beyond recal into the hands of a traitor, who turns it into the acutest misery To what a height grief and anger on one side, and neglect ripened into scorn and hatred on the other, may carry such calamities, cannot be foreseen; but, at least, they utterly destroy that union of heart-that reciprocal confidence that openness of communication that sameness of interests, of joys, and of sorrows, which constitute the principal felicity of the married state. And, besides, how very frequently do the

consequences of these transgressions affect, and even ruin, the health or the fortune, it may be both, of the blameless person, in common with the other ; and, perhaps, drive down diseases and poverty to successive generations !

These are fruits which unfaithfulness in either party may produce. In one it may produce yet

(3) Cant. viii. 6.

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