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ing to them; intangling vows of single life; undue delay of marriage, having more wives or husbands than one, at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company, lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays, and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.
HIS Commandment respects, more especially, the government of the affections, and the keeping our minds and bodies in such an holy frame, that nothing impure, immodest, or contrary to the strictest chastity, may defile, or be a reproach to us, or insinuate itself into our conversation with one another. And, in order thereunto, we are to set a strict watch over our thoughts and actions, and avoid every thing that may be an occasion of this sin, and use those proper methods that may prevent all temptations to it. Therefore we ought to associate ourselves with none but those whose conversation is chaste, and such as becomes Christians, to abhor all words and actions that are not so much as to be named among persons professing godliness. As for those who cannot, without inconveniency, govern their affections, but are sometimes tempted to any thing that is inconsistent with that purity of heart and life, which all ought religiously to maintain, it is their duty to enter into a married state; which is an ordinance that God has appointed, to prevent the breach of this Commandment. And this leads us to consider the sins forbidden therein, together with the occasions thereof.
I. Concerning the sins forbidden in this Commandment. And,
1. Some are not only contrary to nature, but inconsistent with the least pretences to religion; which were abhorred by the very Heathen themselves, and, by the law of God, punished with death; which punishment, when it has not been inflicted, God has, by his immediate hand, testified his vengeance against sinners, by raining down fire and brimstone from heaven, as he did upon the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha, Lev. xviii. 22,-25. chap. xx. 13, 15, 16. Rom. i. 24, 26, 27, 28. Gen. xix. 24. These sins are called in this answer, incest, sodomy, and unnatural lusts. To which we may add, offering violence to others, and thereby forcing them to do what they could not even think of, but with abhorrence; this is called rape; and, by the law of God, the guilty person was punished with death, Deut. xxii. 25.
2. There are other sins, whereby this Commandment is violated; which, though more common, are, nevertheless, such as are attended with a very great degree of guilt and impurity. These are either, such as are committed by those who are un
married, viz. fornication, or by those who are married, as adultery; the latter of which, by the law of God, was punished with death, Lev. xx. 10. as contained in it several aggravating circumstances; inasmuch as hereby the marriage contract is violated; that mutual affection, which is the end of that relation broken; and thereby the greatest injury is done to the innocent as well as ruin brought on the guilty. However, both these sins agree in this, that they proceed from a corrupt heart; as our Saviour says, Mat. xv. 19. and argue the person that is guilty of them, alienated from the life of God. And to this we may add,
3. That, another sin forbidden in this Commandment is, polygamy, or a having more husbands, or wives, than one, at the same time; together with that which often accompanies it, viz. concubinage. It is beyond dispute, that many good men have been guilty of this sin, as appears by what is recorded, in scripture, concerning Abraham, Jacob, David, &c. and we do not find that they are expressly reproved for it, which has given occasion to some modern writers, to think that it was not unlawful in those ages, but was afterwards rendered so by being prohibited under the gospel-dispensation *. This, indeed, cuts the knot of a very considerable difficulty; but it contains another that is equally great; inasmuch as hereby it does not appear to be contrary to the law of nature; and therefore I would rather chuse to take another method to solve it, viz. that many bad actions of good men are recorded in scripture, but not approved of, nor proposed for our imitation. Of this kind I must conclude the polygamy and concubinage of several holy men, mentioned in scripture, to have been. And that it may appear that this practice was not justifiable, let it be observed,
(1.) That, some sin or other is often expressly mentioned, as the occasion hereof. Thus Abraham's taking Hagar, was occasioned by Sarah's unbelief; because the promise of her having a son was not immediately fulfilled, Gen. xvi. 1, 2. And Jacob's taking Rachel to wife after Leah, and his own discontent arising from it, was occasioned by Laban's unjust dealing with him, and his going in unto Bilhah, was occasioned by Rachel's unreasonable desire of children; and his taking Zilpah, by Leah's ambitious desire of having pre-eminence over Rachel, by the number of her children, chap. xxix, and
(2.) This was generally attended with the breach of that peace, which is so desirable a blessing in families, and many disorders that ensued hereupon. Accordingly, we read of an
Vid. Grot. de jur. bell. & pacis, Lib. ¡¡. cap. v. § 9.
irreconcilable quarrel that there was between Sarah and Hagar; and Ishmael's hatred of Isaac, which the apostle calls persecution, Gal. iv. 39. And to this we may add, the contentions that were in Jacob's family, and the envy expressed by the children of one of his wives, against those of another; and the opposition which one wife often expressed to another as that of Peninnah, one of the wives of Elkanah, to Hannah, the other. Therefore we must conclude, that Isaac's example is rather to be followed in this matter, who had but one wife, and he loved her better than many of the patriarch's did theirs; whose love was divided among several.
Object. 1. If polygamy was a sin against the light of nature, it is strange, that it should be committed by good men; and, that they should live and die without repenting of it, nor be, in the least, reproved for it; as we do not find that they were, in scripture.
Answ. It was indeed, a sin, which they might have known to be so, had they duly considered it, in all its circumstances and consequences; but this they did not; and therefore it was not so great a sin in them, as it would be in us, who have clearer dicoveries of the heinous nature of it. Therefore, if we suppose they repented of all sin agreeably to the light they had, they might be saved; and this, though unrepented of, was no bar to their salvation, supposing they knew it not to be a sin; and God's not having explicitly reproved them for it, argues only his forbearance, but not his approbation of it.
Object. 2. It is farther objected, that God says, by Nathan, to David, I gave thee thy master's wives into thy bosom, 2 Sam. xii. 8. therefore, that which God gives, it is not unlawful for man to receive.
Answ. The meaning of that scripture in general, is, that God made him king; and then, according to the custom of the easterrings, he took possession of what belonged to his predecess consequently of his wives. Therefore God might be s give David Saul's wives providentially, in giving him the rdom; so that they were his property, that he might take the for his own, according to custom, if he was inclined so to u And this the kings of Judah generally did; though it does no. .ollow from hence that God approved of it; in like manner as tyrants may be said to be raised up by God's providence and permission; nevertheless, he does not approve of their tyranny.
All that we shall add, under this head, to what has been suggested, concerning the disorders that polygamy has occasioned in families, is, that it is contrary to the first institution of marriage. God created but one woman as an help-meet for Adam; though, if ever there were any pretence for the
necessity of one man's having more wives, it must have been in that instance, in which it seemed necessary for the increase of the world; but he rather chose that mankind should be propagated by slower advances, than to give the least dispensation, or indulgence to polygamy, as being contrary to the law of nature, Gen. ii. 22,-24. And the prophet, in Mal. ii. 15. takes notice of God's making but one; though he had the residue of the Spirit; and therefore could have given Adam more wives than one. And the reason assigned for this was, that he might seek a godly seed, i. e. that the children that should be born of many wives, might not be the result of the ungodly practice of their father, as it would be, were this contrary to the law of nature; which we suppose it to be. This I rather understand by a godly seed, and not that the character of godly refers to the children; for these could not be said to be godly, or ungodly, as the consequence of their parents having one or more wives.
There is one scripture more that I cannot wholly pass over, which, to me, seems a plain prohibition of polygamy, in Levit. xviii. 18. Thou shalt not take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, besides the other in her life-time. This respects either incest or polygamy; one of which must be meant by taking a wife to her sister. Now it cannot be a prohibition of incest; because it is said, Thou shalt not do it in her life-time; which plainly intimates, that it might be done. after her death. Whereas it is certainly contrary to the law of God and nature, for a person to take his wife's sister after her decease, as well as in her life-time. Therefore the meaning is, Thou shalt not take another wife to her whom thou hast married; by which means they will become sisters. And here is another reason assigned hereof, viz. the envy, jealousy, and vexation that would attend such a practice, as the taking another wife would be a means of vexing, or making her uneasy. And therefore the sense is, as is observed in the marginal reading; Thou shalt not take one wife to another; or, Thou shalt not have more wives than one. This is a plain prohibition of this sin; but whether some holy men, in following ages, understood the meaning of this law, may be questioned; and therefore they were not sensible of the guilt they hereby contracted. Thus we have considered some of the sins forbidden in this Commandment. Every particular instance of the breach hereof, would exceed our intended brevity, on the subject we are treating of. Therefore,
We shall proceed to consider the aggravations, more especially, of the sins of fornication and adultery; which may also with just reason, be applied to all other unnatural lusts; which
have been before considered as a breach of this Commandment. And,
[1.] They are opposite to sanctification, even as darkness is to light, hell to heaven; thus the apostle opposes fornication and uncleanness, to it, 1 Thes. iv. 3, 7.
[2.] These sins are inconsistent with that relation, we pretend to stand in, to Christ, as members of his body; inasmuch as we join ourselves in a confederacy with his profligate enemies, 1 Cor. vi. 15, 16. And to this we may add, that they are a dishonour to, and a defilement of our own bodies, which ought to be the temples of the Holy Ghost, and therefore should be consecrated to him.
[3.] They bring guilt and ruin on two persons at once, as well as a blot and stain on each of their families, and a wound to religion by those who make any profession of it, as it gives occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, Prov. vi. 33. 2 Sam. xii. 14.
[4.] They bring with them many other sins; as they tend to vitiate the affections, deprave the mind, defile the conscience, and provoke God to give persons up to spiritual judgments, which will end in their running into all excess of riot.
And to this we may add, that many sad consequences will ensue on the commission of these sins; as they tend to blast and ruin their substance in the world, Job xxxi. 9, 11, 12. debase and stupify the soul, and deprive it of wisdom, Hos. iv. 11. Prov. vi. 32. chap. vii. 22. wound the conscience, and expose the person who is guilty hereof, to the utmost hazard of perishing for ever, chap. vi. 33. chap. vii. 13, 19, 26, 27. And if God is pleased to give him repentance, it will be attended with great bitterness, Eccl. vii. 26.
II. We are now to consider the occasion of these sins to be avoided by those who would not break this Commandment ; and these are,
1. Intemperance, or excess in eating or drinking; the former of which is a making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof; the latter confounds and buries the little reason a person was master of, and makes him an easy prey to temptation. This was Lot's case, who kept his integrity in Sodom; yet being made drunk by his daughters in Zoar, he committed the abominable sin of incest with them, Gen. xix. 31.
2. Idleness, consisting either in the neglect of business, or indulging too much sleep, which occasions many temptations. Thus David first gave way to sloth, and then was tempted to uncleanness; and it is observed, that at the time when kings go forth to battle, 2 Sam. xi. 1, 2. and he ought to have been with his army in the field, he tarried at Jerusalem, and slept in the middle of the day; for in the evening tide he arose from