« AnteriorContinuar »
11. Use those advices, which are prescribed as instruments to suppress voluptuousness, in the foregoing section.
Of Chastity. READER, stay, and read not the advices of the following section, unless thou hast a chaste spirit; or desirest to be chaste; or at least art apt to consider, whether you ought or no. For there are some spirits so atheistical, and some so wholly possessed with a spirit of uncleanness, that they turn the most prudent and chaste discourses into dirty and filthy apprehensions; like choleric stomachs, changing their very cordials and medicines into bitterness; and in a literal sense, turning the grace of God into wantonness. They study cases of conscience in the matter of carnal sins, not to avoid, but to learn ways how to offend God and pollute their own spirits; and search their houses with a sun-beam, that they may be instructed in all the corners of nastiness. I have used all the care I could, in the following periods, that I might neither be wanting to assist those that need it, nor yet minister any occasion of fancy or vainer thoughts to those that need them not. If any man will snatch the pure taper from my hand, and hold it to the devil, he will only burn his own fingers, but shall not rob me of the reward of my care and good intention, since I have taken heed how to express the following duties, and given him caution how to read them.
Chastity is that duty, which was mystically intended by God in the law of circumcision. It is the circumcision of the heart, the cutting off all superfluity of naughtiness and a suppression of all irregular desires in the matter of sensual or carnal pleasure. I call all desires irregular and sinful, that are not sanctified : 1. By the holy institution, or by being within the protection of marriage; 2. By being within the order of nature; 3. By being within the moderation of Christian modesty. Against the first, are fornication, adultery, and all voluntary pollutions of either sex. Against the second are all unnatural lusts and incestuous mixtures. Against the third is all immoderate use of permitted beds; concerning which judgment is to be made, as concerning
meats and drinks: there being no certain degree of frequency or intention prescribed to all persons; but it is to be ruled as the other actions of a man, by proportion to the end, by the dignity of the person in the honour and severity of being a Christian, and by other circumstances, of which I am to give account.
Chastity is that grace, which forbids and restrains all these, keeping the body and soul pure in that state, in which it is placed by God, whether of the single or of the married life. Concerning which our duty is thus described by St. Paul, “ 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, even as the gentiles which know not God 9.”.
Chastity is either abstinence or continence. Abstinence is that of virgins or widows : continence of married persons. Chaste marriages are honourable and pleasing to God : widowhood is pitiable in its solitariness and loss, but amiable and comely, when it is adorned with gravity and purity, and not sullied with remembrances of the passed licence, nor with present desires of returning to a second bed. But virginity is a life of angels, the enamel of the soul, the huge advantage of religion, the great opportunity for the retirements of devotion": and, being empty of cares, it is full of prayers: being unmingled with the world, it is apt to converse with God; and by not feeling the warmth of a tooforward and indulgent nature, flames out with holy fires, till it be burning like the cherubim and the most extasied order of holy and unpolluted spirits.
Natural virginity, of itself, is not a state more acceptable to God: but that which is chosen and voluntary, in order to the conveniences of religion and separation from worldly encumbrances, is therefore better than the married life, not that it is more holy, but that it is a freedom from cares, an opportunity to spend more time in spiritual employments; it is not allayed with businesses and attendances upon lower affairs : and if it be a chosen condition to these ends, it con
À 1 Thess. iv. 3_5.
Virginitas est, in carne corruptibili, incorruptionis perpetua meditatio. St. Aug. l. de Virg. c. 13.
taineth in it a victory over lusts, and greater desires of religion, and self-denial; and therefore is more excellent than the married life, in that degree in which it hath greater religion, and a greater mortification, a less satisfaction of natural desires, and a greater fulness of the spiritual: and just so is to expect that little coronet or special reward, which God hath prepared (extraordinary and besides the great crown of all faithful souls) for those,“ who have not defiled themselves with women, but follow the virgin Lamb for evers.”
But some married persons, even in their marriage, do better please God, than some virgins in their state of virginity: they by giving great example of conjugal affection, by preserving their faith unbroken, by educating children in the fear of God, by patience and contentedness and holy thoughts, and the exercise of virtues proper to that state, do not only please God, but do in a higher degree than those virgins, whose piety is not answerable to their great opportunities and advantages.
However, married persons, and widows, and virgins, are all servants of God and coheirs in the inheritance of Jesus, if they live within the restraints and laws of their particular estate, chastely, temperately, justly and religiously. .
The evil consequents of Uncleanness.
· The blessings and proper effects of chastity we shall best understand, by reckoning the evils of uncleanness and carnality.
. 1. Uncleanness of all vices is the most shameful, “The eye of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me; and disguiseth his face. In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the day-time; they know not the light: for the morning is to them as the shadow of death. He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth; he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards.” Shame is the eldest daughter of uncleanness u.
2. The appetites of uncleanness are full of cares and trouble, and its fruition is sorrow and repentance. The way of the adulterer is hedged with thorns"; full of fears and
jealousies, burning desires and impatient waitings, tediousness of delay, and sufferance of affronts, and amazements of discovery".
3. Most of its kinds are of that condition, that they involve the ruin of two souls; and he that is a fornicator or adulterous, steals the soul, as well as dishonours the body, of his neighbour; and so it becomes like the sin of falling Lucifer, who brought a part of the stars with his tail from heaven.
4. Of all carnal sins it is that alone, which the devil takes delight to imitate and counterfeit; communicating with witches and impure persons in the corporal act, but in this only.
5, Uncleanness with all its kinds is a vice, which hath a professed enmity against the body. “ Every sin which a man doth, is without the body; but he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body.
6. Uncleanness is hugely contrary to the spirit of governmenty by embasing the spirit of a man, making it effeminate, sneaking, soft and foolish, without courage, without confidence. David felt this after his folly with Bathsheba, he fell to unkingly arts and stratagems to hide the crime; and he did nothing but increase it, and remained timorous and poor-spirited, till he prayed to God once more to establish him with a free and princely spirit?. And no superior dare strictly observe discipline upon his charge, if he hath let himself loose to the shame of incontinence.
7. The Gospel hath added two arguments against uncleanness, which were never before used, nor indeed could be : since God hath given the Holy Spirit to them that are baptized, and rightly confirmed, and entered into covenant with him, our bodies are made temples of the Holy Ghost, in which he dwells ; and therefore uncleanness is sacrilege and defiles a temple. It is St. Paul's argument, “ Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost a?" and " He that defiles a temple, him will God destroy b. Therefore glorify God in your bodies," that is, flee fornication. To which, for the likeness of the argument, add, “that our bo
Appetitus fornicationis anxietas est, satietas verò pænitentia. S. Hieron. * I Cor. vi. 18.
plaprirai tão ágxão 2 Spiritu principali me confirma. Psal. li. • 1 Cor. vi. 19. bi Cor. iii. 17.
dies are members of Christ; and therefore God forbid, that we should take the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot.” So that uncleanness dishonours Christ, and dishonours the Holy Spirit: it is a sin against God, and in this sense a sin against the Holy Ghost.
8. The next special argument, which the Gospel ministers especially against adultery, and for the preservation of the purity of marriage, is that marriage is by Christ hallowed in a mystery, to signify the sacramental and mystical union of Christ and his church. He therefore that breaks this knot, which the church and their mutual faith have tied, and Christ hath knit up into a mystery, dishonours a great rite of Christianity, of high, spiritual, and excellent signification.
9. St. Gregory reckons uncleanness to be the parent of these monsters, blindness of mind, inconsideration, precipitancy or giddiness in actions, self-love, hatred of God, love of the present pleasures, a despite or despair of the joys of religion here, and of heaven hereafter. Whereas a pure mind in a chaste body is the mother of wisdom and deliberation, sober counsels and ingenious actions, open deportment and sweet carriage, sincere principles and unprejudicate understanding, love of God and self-denial, peace and confidence, holy prayers and spiritual comfort, and a pleasure of spirit infinitely greater than the sottish and beastly pleasures of unchastity. “ For to overcome pleasure is the greatest pleasure; and no victory is greater than that, which is gotten over our lusts and filthy inclinations."
10. Add to all these, the public dishonesty and disreputation, that all the nations of the world have cast upon adulterous and unhallowed embraces. Abimelech, to the men of Gerar, made it death to meddle with the wife of Isaac : and Judah condemned Thamar to be burnt for her adulterous conception : and God, besides the law made to put the adulterous person to death, did constitute a settled and constant miracle to discover the adultery of a suspected woman f, that her bowels should burst with drinking the waters of jealousy. The Egyptian law was to cut off the nose of the adulteress, and the offending part of the adulterer. The Locrians put out the adulterer's both eyes. The Germans (as Tacitus