HOMILY AGAINST WHOREDOM AND ADULTERY
A SERMON AGAINST
whoredome and vncleannesse.
ALthough there want not (good Christian people) great swarmes of vices worthy to be rebuked (vnto such decay is true Godlinesse and vertuous liuing now come:) yet aboue other vices, the outragious seas of adulterie (or breaking of wedlocke) whoredome, fornication and vncleannesse, haue not only burst in, but also ouerflowed almost the whole world, vnto the great dishonour of GOD, the exceeding infamie of the name of Christ, the notable decay of true Religion, and the vtter destruction of the publike wealth, and that so abundantly, that through the customable vse thereof, this vice is growne into such an height, that in a manner among many, it is counted no sinne at all, but rather a pastime, a dalliance, and but a touch of youth: not rebuked, but winked at: not punished, but laughed at.
Wherefore it is necessary at this present, to intreat of the sinne of whoredome and fornication, declaring vnto you the greatnesse of this sinne, and how odious, hatefull, and abominable it is, and hath alway beene reputed before GOD and all good men, and how grieuously it hath beene punished both by the law of GOD, and the lawes of diuers Princes.
Againe, to shew you certaine remedies, whereby yee may (through the grace of GOD) eschew this most detestable sin of whoredome and fornication, and lead your liues in all honesty and cleannesse, and that yee may perceiue that fornication and whoredome are (in the sight of GOD) most abominable sinnes, yee shall call to remembrance this commandement of GOD, Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20.14): by the which word, adultery, although it bee properly vnderstood of the vnlawfull commixtion or ioyning together of a married man with any woman beside his wife, or of a wife with any man beside her husband: yet thereby is signified also all vnlawfull vse of those parts, which bee ordeyned for generation. And this one commandement (forbidding adultery) doeth sufficiently paint and set out before our eyes the greatnesse of this sinne of whoredome, and manifestly declareth how greatly it ought to be abhorred of all honest and faythfull persons. And that none of vs all shall thinke himselfe excepted from this commandement, whether wee bee old or yong, married, or vnmarried, man or woman, heare what GOD the Father sayth by his most excellent Prophet Moses: There shall bee no whore among the daughters of Israel, nor no whoremonger among the sonnes of Israel (Deuteronomy 23.17).
Heere is whoredome, fornication, and all other vncleannesse forbidden to all kindes of people, all degrees, and all ages without exception. And that wee shall not doubt, but that this precept or commandement pertaineth to vs indeede, heare what Christ (the perfect teacher of all trueth) sayth in the new Testament, Yee haue heard (sayth Christ) that it was sayd to them of olde time, Thou shalt not commit adulterie: but I say vnto you, Whosoeuer seeth a Woman, to haue his lust of her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5.27-28). Heare our Sauiour Christ doeth not onely confirme and stablish the law against adulterie, giuen in the olde Testament of GOD the Father by his seruant Moses, and make it of full strength, continually to remaine among the professours of his Name in the new law: but hee also (condemning the grosse interpretation of the Scribes and Pharisees, which taught that the foresaid commandement onely required to abstaine from the outward adulterie, and not from the filthie desires and vnpure lustes,) teacheth vs an exact and full perfection of puritie and cleannesse of life, both to keepe our bodies vndefiled, and our heartes pure and free from all euill thoughts, carnall desires, and fleshly consentes. How can we then be free from this commandement, where so great charge is layd vpon vs?
May a seruant doe what hee will in any thing, hauing commandement of his master to the contrary? Is not Christ our Master? Are not wee his seruants? How then may wee neglect our Masters will and pleasure, and follow our owne will and phantasie? Yee are my friendes (sayth Christ) if you keepe those things that I command you (John 15.14).
Now hath Christ our Master commanded vs that wee should forsake all vncleannesse and filthinesse both in body and spirit: this therefore must wee doe, if wee looke to please GOD. In the Gospel of Saint Matthew wee reade, that the Scribes and Pharisees were grieuously offended with Christ, because his disciples did not keepe the traditions of the forefathers, for they washed not their handes when they went to dinner or supper (Matthew 15.1-2): And among other things, Christ answered and said, Heare and vnderstand; Not that thing which entreth into the mouth defileth the man, but that which commeth out of the mouth defileth the man (Matthew 15.10-11). For those things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceede euill thoughts, murders, breaking of wedlocke, whoredome, theftes, false witnesse, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man (Matthew 15.19-20, Mark 7.21). Here may we see, that not onely murder, theft, false witnesse, and blasphemie, defile men, but also euill thoughts, breaking of wedlocke, fornication, and whoredome. Who is now of so little witte, that hee will esteeme whoredome and fornication to bee things of small importance, and of now waight before GOD? Christ (who is the trueth, and can not lie) saith that euill thoughtes, breaking of wedlocke, whoredome, and fornication defile a man, that is to say, corrupt both the body and soule of man, and make them, of the temples of the holy Ghost, the filthie dunghill, or dungeon of all vncleane spirits, of the house of GOD, the dwelling place of Satan (Titus 1.15).
Againe in the Gospel of Saint Iohn, when the woman taken in adulterie, was brought vnto Christ, said not hee vnto her, Goe thy way, and sinne no more (John 8.11)? Doth not he here call whoredome sinne? And what is the reward of sinne, but euerlasting death (Romans 6.23)? If whoredome be sinne, then it is not lawfull for vs to commit it. For Saint Iohn sayth, He that committeth sinne is of the deuill (1 John 3.8). And our Sauiour saith, Euery one that committeth sinne, is the seruant of sinne (John 8.34). If whoredome had not beene sinne, Surely Saint Iohn Baptist would neuer haue rebuked king Herod for taking his brothers wife, but he told him plainely, that it was not lawfull for him to take his brothers wife. Hee winked not at the whoredome of Herod, although hee were a king of power, but boldly reprooued him for his wicked and abominable liuing (Mark 6.18), although for the same hee lost his head. But he would rather suffer death (then see GOD so dishonoured, by the breaking of his holy precept and commandement) then to suffer whoredome to be vnrebuked, euen in a king. If whoredome had beene but a pastime, a dalliance, & not to be passed off, (as many count it now a dayes) truely Iohn had beene more then twise mad, if hee would haue had the displeasure of a king, if hee would haue beene cast in prison, and lost his head for a trifle. But Iohn knew right well how filthy, and stinking, and abominable the sinne of whoredome is in the sight of GOD, therefore would not hee leaue it vnrebuked, no not in a king, If whoredome bee not lawfull in a king, neither is it lawfull in a subiect. If whoredome bee not lawfull in a publique or common officer, neither is it lawfull in a priuate person. If it bee not lawfull neither in king, nor subiect, neither in common officer, nor priuate person, truely then it is lawfull in no man nor woman of whatsoeuer degree or age they be.
Furthermore in the Actes of the Apostles wee reade that when the Apostles & Elders with the whole Congregation, were gathered together to pacifie the hearts of the faithfull dwelling at Antioch, (which were disquieted through the false doctrine of certaine Iewish preachers) they sent word to the brethren, that it seemed good to the holy Ghost, and to them, to charge them with no more then with necessary things: among other, they willed them to abstaine from idolatry and fornication, from which (said they) if ye keepe your selues, ye shall do well (Acts 15.28-29). Note heere, how these holy and blessed Fathers of Christs Church, would charge the congregation with no moe things then were necessary. Mark also how among those things, from the which they commanded the brethren of Antioch to abstaine, fornication and whoredome is numbred. It is therefore necessary, by the determination and consent of the holy Ghost, and the Apostles and Elders, with the whole Congregation that as from idolatrie and superstition, so likewise we must abstaine from fornication and whoredome. It is necessary vnto saluation to abstaine from idolatrie: So is it to abstaine from whoredome. Is there any nigher way to leade vnto damnation, then to be an idolater? No. Euen so, neither is there any neerer way to damnation, then to be a fornicator and a whoremonger. Now where are those people, which so lightly esteeme breaking of wedlocke, whoredome, fornication and adulterie. It is necessarie, saith the holy Ghost, the blessed Apostles, the Elders, with the whole Congregation of Christ, it is necessary to saluation (say they) to abstaine from whoredome. If it be necessary vnto saluation, then woe be to them which neglecting their saluation, giue their minds to so filthy and stinking sinne, to so wicked vice, and to such detestable abomination.
THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON AGAINST ADULTERIE.
YOU haue beene taught in the first part of this Sermon against Adulterie, how that vice at this day raigneth most aboue all other vices, and what is meant by this word (Adulterie) and how holy Scripture disswadeth or discounsaileth from doing that filthy sinne, and finally what corruption commeth to mans soule through the sinne of Adultery. Now to proceed further, let vs heare what the blessed Apostle Saint Paul sayth to this matter, writing to the Romanes hee hath these words. Let vs cast away the workes of darkenesse, and put on the armour of light. Let vs walke honestly as it were in the day time, not in eating and drinking, neither in chambering and wantonnesse, neither in strife and enuying, but put yee on the Lord Iesus Christ, and make not prouision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts of it (Romans 13.12-14). Here the holy Apostle exhorteth vs to cast away the workes of darknesse, which (among other) he calleth gluttonous eating, drinking, chambering, and wantonnesse, which are all ministers vnto that vice, and preparations to induce and bring in the filthy sinne of the flesh.
Hee calleth them the deedes and workes of darkenesse, not onely because they are customably in darkenesse, or in the night time (for euery one that doeth euill, hateth the light, neither commeth hee to the light, lest his workes should bee reprooued, John 3.20) but that they lead the right way vnto that vtter darkenesse, where weeping and gnashing of teeth shall be (Matthew 25.30). And hee saith in an other place of the same Epistle, They that are in the flesh, cannot please GOD: We are detters, not to the flesh, that we should liue after the flesh, for if yee liue after the flesh, ye shall die (Romans 8.8, 12-13). Againe hee saith, Flee from whoredome, for euery sinne that a man committeth, is without his body: but whosoeuer committeth whoredome, sinneth against his owne body. Doe ye not know, that your members are the Temple of the holy Ghost which is in you, whom also ye haue of GOD, and yee are not your owne? For yee are dearely bought: glorifie God in your bodies, &c. And a little before he saith, Doe yee not know that your bodies are the members of Christ: Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a whore? GOD forbid. Doe ye not know, that he which cleaueth to a whore, is made one body with her? There shall be two in one flesh (saith he) but he that cleaueth to the Lord, is one spirit (1 Corinthians 6.15-17). What godly words doeth the blessed Apostle Saint Paul bring foorth here, to disswade and discounsell vs from whoredome and all vncleannes? Your members (saith he) are the Temple of the holy Ghost, which whosoeuer doeth defile, GOD will destroy him, as saith Saint Paul. If we be the Temple of the holy Ghost, how vnfitting then is it, to driue that holy Spirit from vs through whoredome, and in his place to set the wicked spirits of vncleannesse and fornication, and to be ioyned, and doe seruice to them?
Ye are dearely bought (saith he) therefore glorifie GOD in your bodies. Christ that innocent Lambe of GOD, hath bought vs from the seruitude of the deuil, not with corruptible gold & silver, but with his most precious and deare heart blood (1 Peter 1.18-19). To what intent? That we should fall againe into our old vncleannesse and abominable liuing? Nay verily: but that wee should serue him all the dayes of our life (Isaiah 38.20, Luke 1.74-75), in holinesse and righteousnesse, that we should glorifie him in our bodies, by puritie and cleannesse of life. He declareth also that our bodies are the members of Christ: How vnseemely a thing is it then to cease to be incorporate or imbodyed and made one with Christ, and through whoredome to bee enioyned and made all one with a whore? What greater dishonour or iniury can wee doe to Christ, then to take away from him the members of his body, and to ioyne them to whores, deuils, and wicked spirits? And what more dishonour can we doe to our selues, then through vncleannesse, to loose so excellent a dignitie and freedome, and to become bondslaues, and miserable captiues to the spirits of darkenesse? Let vs therefore consider, first the glorie of Christ, then our estate, our dignitie, and freedome, wherein GOD hath set vs, by giuing vs his holy Spirit, and let vs valiantly defend the same against Satan, and al his craftie assaults, that Christ may be honoured, and that we loose not our libertie or freedome, but still remaine in one Spirit with him.
Moreouer, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, the blessed Apostle willeth vs to be so pure and free from adultery, fornication, and all vncleannesse, that we not once name them among vs (as it becommeth Saints) nor filthinesse, nor foolish talking, nor iesting, which are not comely, but rather giuing of thankes: for this yee know (sayth hee) that no whoremonger, neither vncleane person, or couetous person (which is an idolater) hath any inheritance in the kingdome of Christ and of GOD (Ephesians 5.3-5, 1 Corinthians 6.9-10). And that we should remember to be holy, pure, and free from all vncleannesse, the holy Apostle calleth vs Saints, because we are sanctified and made holy by the bloud of Christ, through the holy ghost.
Now if we be Saints, what haue wee to doe with the maners of the Heathen? Saint Peter sayth, as he which called you is holy, euen so bee ye holy also in your conuersation, because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy (1 Peter 1.15-16, Leviticus 19.4, 19.2). Hitherto haue we heard how grieuous a sinne fornication and whoredome is, and how greatly GOD doeth abhorre it throughout the whole Scripture: How can it any otherwise be then a sin of most abomination, seeing it may not once be named among the Christians, much lesse it may in any point be committed. And surely if wee would weigh the greatnesse of this sinne, and consider it in the right kinde, wee should finde the sinne of whoredome, to be that most filthy lake, soule puddle, and stinking sinke, whereunto all kindes of sinnes and euils flow, where also they haue their resting place and abiding.
For hath not the adulterer a pride in his whoredome? As the Wise man sayth, They are glad when they haue done euill, and reioyce in things that are starke naught. Is not the adulterer also idle, and delighteth in no godly exercise, but only in that his most filthy and beastly pleasure? Is not his minde pluckt, and vtterly drawen away from all vertuous studies, and fruitfull labours, and onely giuen to carnall and fleshly imagination? Doeth not the whoremonger giue his minde to gluttonie, that he may be the more apt to serue his lusts and carnall pleasures? Doeth not the adulterer giue his minde to couetousnesse, and to polling and pilling of other, that hee may bee the more able to maintaine his harlots and whores, and to continue in his filthy and vnlawfull loue? Swelleth hee not also with enuy against other, fearing that his pray should bee allured and taken away from him? Againe is hee not yrefull, and replenished with wrath and displeasure, euen against his best beloued, if at any time his beastly and deuilish request bee letted? What sinne, or kind of sinne is it that is not ioyned with fornication and whoredome? It is a monster of many heads: it receiueth all kindes of vices, and refuseth all kindes of vertues. If one seuerall sinne bringeth damnation, what is to bee thought of that sinne, which is accompanied with all euils, and hath waiting on it whatsoeuer is hatefull to GOD, damnable to man, and pleasant to Satan.
Great is the damnation that hangeth ouer the heades of fornicators and adulterers. What shall I speake of other incommodities, which issue and flowe out of this stinking puddle of whoredome? is not that treasure, which before all other is most regarded of honest persons, the good fame and name of man and woman, lost through whoredome? What patrimony or liuelode, what substance, what goods, what riches doth whoredome shortly consume and bring to nought? What valiantnesse and strength is many times made weake, and destroyed with whoredome? What wit is so fine, that is not besotted and defaced thorow whoredome? What beauty (although it were neuer so excellent,) is not disfigured through whoredome? Is not whoredome an enemie to the pleasant floure of youth, & bringeth it not gray haires and old age before the time? What gift of nature (although it were neuer so precious) is not corrupted with whoredome? Com not many foule and most loathsome diseases of whoredome? From whence come so many bastardes and misbegotten children, to the high displeasure of GOD, and dishonour of holy wedlocke, but of whoredome? How many consume all their substance and goods, and at the last fall into such extreme pouerty, that afterward they steale, and so are hanged, through whoredome? What contention and manslaughter commeth of whoredome? How many maidens be defloured, how many wiues corrupted, how many widowes defiled through whoredome? How much is the publique and common weale impouerished, and troubled through whoredome? How much is GODS word contemned and depraued through whoredome & whoremongers? Of this vice commeth a great part of the diuorces which (now adayes) be so commonly accustomed and vsed by mens priuate authority, to the great displeasure of GOD, and the breach of the most holy knotte and bond of matrimonie. For when this most detestable sinne is once crept into the breast of the adulterer, so that hee is intangled with vnlawfull and vnchast loue, streightwayes his true and lawfull wife is despised, her presence is abhorred, her company stinketh, and is loathsome, whatsoeuer shee doeth is dispraised: there is no quietnesse in the house, so long as shee is in sight: therefore to make short worke, shee must away, for her husband canne brooke her no longer. Thus through whoredome, is the honest and harmelesse wife put away, and an harlot receiued in her steed: and in like sort, it happeneth many times in the wife towards her husband. O abomination! Christ our Sauiour, very GOD and man, comming to restore the Law of his heauenly Father, vnto the right sense, vnderstanding, and meaning (among other things) reformed the abuse of this Law of GOD. For where as the Iewes vsed a long sufferance, by custome, to put away their wiues, at their pleasure, for euery cause, Christ correcting that euill custome, did teach, that if any man put away his wife, and marieth another, for any cause, except onely for adultery, (which then was death by the law) hee was an adulterer (Matthew 19.9), and forced also his wife so diuorced, to commit adultery, if shee were ioyned to any other man, and the man also so ioyned with her, to committe adultery.
In what case then are these adulterers, which for the loue of an whore put away their true and lawfull wife, against all law, right, reason and conscience? O how damnable is the estate wherein they stand! Swift destruction shall fall on them, if they repent not, and amend not: For GOD will not suffer holy wedlock thus to bee dishonoured, hated and despised. Hee will once punish this fleshly and licentious maner of liuing, and cause that this holy ordinance shall bee had in reuerence and honour. For surely wedlocke (as the Apostle sayth) is honourable among all men, and the bedde vndefiled: But whoremongers and fornicators God will iudge, that is to say, punish and condemne (Hebrews 13.4). But to what purpose is this labour taken, to describe and set foorth the greatnesse of the sinne of whoredome, and the discommodities that issue & flowe out of it, seeing that breath and tongue shall sooner faile any man, then hee shall or may bee able to set it out according to the abomination and heinousnesse thereof? Notwithstanding this is spoken to the intent that all men should flee whoredome, and liue in the feare of GOD: GOD grant that it may not be spoken in vaine.
THE THIRD PART OF THE SERMON AGAINST ADULTERIE.
IN the second part of this Sermon against adultery that was last read, you haue learned how earnestly the Scripture warneth vs to auoyde the sinne of adulterie, and to imbrace cleannesse of life: and that through adultery, we fall into all kindes of sinne, and are made bond-slaues to the deuill: through cleannesse of life wee are made members of Christ: and finally, how farre adultery bringeth a man from all goodnesse, and driueth him headlong into all vices, mischiefe, and misery. Now will I declare vnto you in order, with what grieuous punishments GOD in times past plagued adultery, and how certaine worldly Princes also did punish it, that yee may perceiue that whoredome and fornication bee sinnes no lesse detestable in the sight of GOD, to all good men, then I haue hitherto vttered. In the first booke of Moses, wee reade that when mankind beganne to bee multiplied vpon the earth, the men and women gaue their mindes so greatly to fleshly delight, and filthie pleasure, that they liued without all feare of GOD. GOD seeing this their beastly and abominable liuing and perceiuing that they amended not, but rather increased dayly more and more in their sinfull and vncleane manners, repented that euer hee had made man: and to shew how greatly hee abhorreth adultery, whordome, fornication, and all vncleannesse, he made all the fountaines of the deepe earth to burst out, and the sluces of heauen to bee opened, so that the raine came downe vpon the earth by the space of fourty dayes and fourty nights, and by this meanes destroyed the whole world, and all mankinde, eight persons onely excepted, that is to say, Noe the preacher of righteousnesse, (as S. Peter calleth him) and his wife, his three sonnes and their wiues. O what a grieuous plague did GOD cast here vpon all liuing creatures for the sin of whoredom! For the which GOD, tooke vengeance, not onely of man, but of all beastes, foules, and all liuing creatures. Manslaughter was committed before (Genesis 4.8), yet was not the world destroyed for that: but for whoredome all the world (few onely except) was ouerflowed with waters, and so perished. An example worthy to be remembred, that ye may learne to feare GOD.
We reade againe, that for the filthy sinne of vncleannesse, Sodome and Gomorrhe, and the other Cities nigh vnto them, were destroyed by fire and brimstone from heauen (Genesis 19.24), so that there was neither man, woman, childe, nor beast, nor yet any thing that grew vpon the earth there left vndestroyed. Whose heart trembleth not at the hearing of this historie? Who is so drowned in whoredome and vncleannesse, that will not now for euer after leaue this abominable liuing, seeing that GOD so grieuously punisheth vncleannesse, to raine fire and brimstone from heauen, to destroy whole Cities, to kill man, woman, and childe, and all other liuing creatures there abiding, to consume with fire all that euer grew? What can be more manifest tokens of GODS wrath and vengeance against vncleannesse and impuritie of life? Marke this history (good people) and feare the vengeance of GOD. Doe you not reade also, that GOD did smite Pharao and his house with great plagues, because that he vngodly desired Sara the wife of Abraham (Genesis 12.17)? Likewise reade wee of Abimelech king of Gerar, although he touched her not by carnall knowledge (Genesis 20.4). These plagues and punishments did GOD cast on vpon filthy and vncleane persons, before the Law was giuen (the law of nature onely reigning in the hearts of men) to declare how great loue hee had to Matrimony and wedlocke, and againe, how much he abhorred adulterie, fornication, and all vncleannesse. And when the Law that forbade whoredome was giuen by Moses to the Iewes, did not GOD command that the breakers thereof should be put to death? The wordes of the law be these: Who so committeth adultery with any mans wife, shall die the death, both the man and the woman, because he hath broken wedlocke with his neighbours wife (Leviticus 20.10). In the Law also it was commanded, that a damosell and a man taken together in whoredome should bee both stoned to death. In another place we also reade, that GOD commanded Moses to take all the head Rulers, and Princes of the people, and to hang them vpon gibbets openly, that euery man might see them, because they either committed, or did not punish whoredome (Numbers 25.4). Againe, did not GOD send such a plague among the people for fornication, and vncleannesse, that they dyed in one day three and twenty thousand? I passe ouer for lacke of time many other histories of the holy Bible, which declare the grieuous vengeance, and heauy displeasure of GOD against whoremongers and adulterers. Certes this extreme punishment appointed of GOD, sheweth euidently how greatly GOD hateth whoredome. And let vs not doubt, but that GOD at this present abhorreth all maner of vncleannesse, no lesse then he did in the olde law, and will vndoubtedly punish it, both in this world, and in the world to come. For he is a GOD that can abide no wickednesse: therefore ought it to bee eschewed of all that tender the glory of GOD, and the saluation of their owne soules (Psalms 5.4).
Saint Paul saith, All these things are written for our example, and to teach vs the feare of GOD, and the obedience to his holy Law (1 Corinthians 10.11). For if GOD spared not the naturall branches, neither will hee spare vs that be but grafts, if we commit like offence. If GOD destroyed many thousands of people, many cities, yea the whole, world for whoredome, let vs not flatter our selues, and thinke we shall escape free, and without punishment. For hee hath promised in his holy Law, to sende most grieuous plagues vpon them that transgresse, or breake his holy commandements. Thus haue we heard, how GOD punisheth the sinne of adultery: let vs now heare certaine lawes, which the Ciuill Magistrates deuised in their countreyes, for the punishment thereof, that wee may learne how vncleannesse hath euer beene detested in all well ordered cities and commonwealths, and among all honest persons.
i Lawes deuised for the punishment of whoredome. The law among the Lepreians was this, that when any were taken in adultery, they were bound and caried three dayes thorow the Citie, and afterward as long as they liued, were they despised, and with shame and confusion counted as persons voyde of all honestie. Among the Locrensians the adulterers haue both their eyes thrust out. The Romanes in times past, punished whoredome, sometime by fire, sometime by sword. If any man among the Egyptians had bene taken in adultery, the law was, that he should openly in the presence of all the people be scourged naked with whippes, vnto the number of a thousand stripes, the woman was then taken with him, had her nose cut off, whereby shee was knowen euer after, to be a whore, and therefore to be abhorred of all men. Among the Arabians, they that were taken in adultery, had their heads striken from their bodyes. The Athenians punished whoredome by death in like maner. So likewise, did the barbarous Tartarians. Among the Turkes euen at this day, they that be taken in adultery, both man and woman are stoned straightway to death, without mercy. Thus we see what godly actes were deuised in times past of the high powers, for the putting away of whoredome, and for the mainteining of holy Matrimony, or wedlocke, and pure conuersation. And the authours of these actes were no Christians, but the Heathen: yet were they so inflamed with the loue of honestie and purenesse of life, that for the maintenance and conseruation or keeping vp of that, they made godly Statutes, suffering neither fornication or adultery to reigne in their Realmes vnpunished. Christ sayd to the people, The Nineuites shall rise at the iudgement with this Nation (meaning the vnfaithfull Iewes) and shall condemne them: for they repented at the preaching of Ionas, but behold (saith he) a greater then Ionas is heere, (meaning him selfe) and yet they repent not (Matthew 12.41). Shall not (thinke you) likewise the Locrensians, Arabians, Athenians, with such other, rise vp in the iudgement, and condemne vs, for as much as they ceased from the whoredome at the commandement of man, and wee haue the Law, and manifest precepts and commandements of GOD, and yet forsake wee not our filthy conuersation? truely, truely, it shalbe easier at the day of iudgement, to these Heathen, then to vs, except we repent and amend. For though death of body seemeth to vs a grieuous punishment in this world for woredome: yet is that paine nothing in comparison of the grieuous torments which adulterers, fornicators, and all vncleane persons shall suffer after this life. For all such shall be excluded and shut out of the Kingdome of heauen, as S. Paul saith, Bee not deceiued, for neither whoremongers, nor worshippers of Images, nor adulterers, nor effeminate persons, nor Sodomites, nor theeues, nor couetous persons, nor drunkards, nor cursed speakers, nor pillers, shall inherite the Kingdome of GOD (I Corinthians 6.9-10, Galatians 5.19, Ephesians 5.5). And S. Iohn in his Reuelation saith, That whoremongers shall haue their part with murderers, sorcerers, enchaunters, lyers, idolaters, and such other, in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelations 21.8). The punishment of the body, although it be death, hath an ende: but the punishment of the soule, which S. Iohn calleth the second death, is euerlasting, there shall be fire and brimstone, there shal be weeping and gnashing of teeth, the worme that there shall gnaw the conscience of the damned, shall neuer die (Matthew 13.42, Mark 9.44). O whose heart distilleth not euen drops of blood, to heare and consider these things? If wee tremble and shake at the hearing and naming of these paines, oh what shall they doe that shall feele them, that shall suffer them, yea, and euer shall suffer, worlds without end: GOD haue mercy vpon vs. Who is now so drowned in sinne, and past all godlinesse, that he will set more by filthy and stinking pleasure, (which soone passeth away) then by the losse of euerlasting glory? Againe, who will so giue himselfe to the lustes of the flesh, that hee feareth nothing at all the paine of hell fire? But let vs heare how wee may eschew the sinne of whoredome, and adultery, that wee may walke in the feare of GOD, and bee free from those most grieuous and intolerable torments, which abide all vncleane persons.
Remedies whereby toauoide fornication and adultery. Now to auoide fornication, adultery, and all vncleannesse, let vs prouide that aboue all things, we may keepe our heartes pure and cleane, from all euill thoughtes and carnall lustes: for if that bee once infected and corrupt, wee fall headlong into all kinde of vngodlinesse. This shall wee easily doe, if when wee feele inwardly, that Satan our olde enemie tempteth vs vnto whoredome, we by no meanes consent to his craftie suggestions, but valiantly resist and withstand him by strong faith in the word of GOD, alleadging against him alwayes in our heart, this commandement of GOD: Scriptum est, non múchaberis. It is written, Thou shalt not commit whoredome. It shall bee good also for vs, euer to liue in the feare of GOD, and to set before our eyes the grieuous threatnings of GOD against all vngodly sinners, and to consider in our minde, how filthy, beastly, and short that pleasure is, whereunto Satan continuallie stirreth and mooueth vs: And againe, how the paine appointed for that sinne is intolerable and euerlasting. Moreouer, to vse a temperance and sobrietie in eating and drinking, to eschew vncleane communicatition, to auoide all filthie company, to flee idlenesse, to delight in reading the holy Scriptures, to watch in godly prayers and vertuous meditation, and at all times, to exercise some godly trauailes, shall help greatlie vnto the eschewing of whoredome.
And heere are all degrees to bee monished, whether they be married or vnmarried, to loue chastitie and cleannesse of life. For the married are bound by the law of GOD so purely to loue one another, that neither of them seeke any strange loue. The man must onely cleaue to his wife, and the wife againe onely to her husband: they must so delight one in anothers company, that none of them couet any other. And as they are bound thus to liue together in all godlinesse and honesty, so likewise it is their duty, vertuously to bring vp their children, and prouide, that they fall not into Satans snare, nor into any vncleannesse, but that they come pure and honest vnto holy wedlocke, when time requireth. So likewise ought all masters, and rulers to prouide that no whoredome, nor any point of vncleannesse be vsed among their seruants. And againe, they that are single, and feele in themselues that they cannot liue without the company of a woman, let them get wiues of their owne, and so liue godly together: For it is better to marry then to burne (1 Corinthians 7.9).
And to auoyde fornication, saith the Apostle, let euery man haue his owne wife, and euery woman her owne husband. Finally, all such as feele in themselues a sufficiencie and habilitie (through the working of GODS Spirit) to leade a sole and continent life, let them prayse GOD for his gift, and seeke all meanes possible to maintaine the same: as by reading of holy Scriptures, by godly meditations, by continuall prayers, and such other vertuous exercises. If we all on this wise will endeauour our selues to eschew fornication, adultery, and all vncleannes, and lead our liues in all godlinesse and honestie, seruing GOD with a pure and cleane heart, and glorifying him in our bodyes by the leading an innocent and harmelesse life, we may be sure to be in the number of those, of whom our Sauiour Christ speaketh in the Gospel on this maner, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see GOD (Matthew 5.8): to whom alone be all glory, honour, rule, and power, worldes without end. Amen.
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