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rushing into the Presence of God by adding this dread. ful 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 Cafe, 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.
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 fome Persons for the Good of others; as in War, in extinguishing dan. gerous Fires, in several Cales which might be named; or where Employments and Profeflions which somebody or other muft 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 obftinate or careless Neglect of his own Preservation, is unquestionably finful. 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 provoke, or entice us, to be injurious, either to others or ourselves. 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 bim here, may eternally live with him hereafter, through Jesus Christ our only Saviour. Amen.
And God grant,
L E C T URE XXV.
The Seventh Commandment.
N speaking to 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: fo here, in the Seventh, where Adultery is prohibited, the Prohibition must be extended to whatever else is criminal 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 Chaltity 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 remark
able 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 gocd Persons; but, having no explicit revealed Rule concerning this Matter, failed of discerning the abovementioned, Purpose of God. And both this Error and that of Divorce on Night Occasions, were tolerated by the Law of Moses. But that was only as the Laws of other Countries often connive at what the Lawgiver is far from approving. Accordingly God exprefled, particularly by the Prophet Malachia, his Dillike of these Things. And our Saviour both tells the Jews, that Moles permitted Divorces at Pleasure, merely because of the Hardness of their Hearts, and peremptorily declares, that whosoever Mall put away his Wife, except it be for Fornication, and fall marry angther, committeth Adultery. Now certainly it cannot be less adulterous to marry a Second without putting away the 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 deathens themselves, who alledge 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 bittereft Enmity and Jealousy; keeps a Multitude of Females in 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 wellregulated 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
Mal. ii. 14, 15, 16.
Matth, xix, 8, 9.
hath been understcod to be an eflential Part of the Contract: which Promile is with us most folemnly exprefled in the Office of Matrimony, by as clear and comprehenfive Words as can be devised. And unles Persons are at Liberty in all Cafes to fight the moft aweful 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?
Breaches of plighted Faith, as they must be preceded by a Want of sufficient conjugal Affection in the offending Party, so they tend to extinguith 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 feldom fails to be in a little Time) it produces, from the Make of the human Mind, in warmer Tempers, a Refentment so strong, in milder, an Afiction 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. 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 studioully paid on one Side in Expectation of a suitable Return; and when the tenderest Part of the Enjoyment of Life is given up beyond Recall 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 Hearts, 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 befides, 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 derive down Diseases and Poverty to fucceffive Generations !
These are Fruits which Unfaithfulness in either Party may produce. In one it may produce yet more. A Woman, guilty of this Crime, who, to use the Words of Scripture, for jaketh the Guide of her Youth, and forgetteth the Covenant of her God", brings_peculiar Disgrace on her Husband, her Children, and Friends; and may bring an illegitimate Offspring to inherit what is the Right of others : nor is the Infamy and Punishment, to which she exposes herself, a less dreadful Evil for being a deserved one. And if Falsehood on the Mens Part hath not all the fame Aggravations, it hath very great ones in their Stead. They are almost constantly the Tempters: they often carry on their wicked Designs for a long Time together : they too commonly use the vilest Means to accomplish them. And as they claim the strictest Fidelity, it is ungenerous, as well as unjust, to fail of paying it. All Men must feel how bitter it would be to them to be injured in this Respect; let them think then what it is to be injurious in it: and since the Crime is the same when committed by them, as when committed against them, let them own that it deserves the same Condemnation from the Judge of the World. The Lord hath been Witness, faith the Prophet, between thee and the Wife of thy Youth, against whom thou dealeft treacherously; yet is she thy Companion, and the Wife of thy Covenant. Therefore take Heed to your Spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the Wife of his Youtho.
It will be safest, but I hope it is not neceffary, to add, that an unmarried Man or Woman, offending with the Wife or Husband of any one, being no less guilty of Adultery than the Person with whom the Offence is committed, is consequently an Accomplice in all the Wickedness and all the Mischief abovementioned ; and