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But if we are but ftill half resolved, and at our shall I, shall 1? the Weight of our finful Habits will eafily retard and fruftrate all our good Refolutions.
I shall conclude with a Word of Advice, to fuch as are refolved heartily to encounter those Vices, and have done at this Time; for the following Directions concerning the plucking out of the offending Eye, and cutting off the offending Hand, and for preferving the Marriage Vow inviolable, without putting away the Wife, will afford fome further Advice in this Matter. At present I shall content myself to conclude with a few very fhort Directions, towards facilitating the Duties I have been recommending.
1. First then, begin at the Root, as our Saviour here advises, and reftrain all Mental Impurities; for befides their own Pollution, which will be hereby prevented, if the Heart be clean, the Tongue and Eyes and Hands will be kept chafte, and all grofs Acts will be much more easily avoided, for out of the Heart are the fues of Life.
In order to this there are two Things carefully to be avoided; firft the ripping up the Memory of our former finful Actions with Pleasure and. Delight. For every Time we do that, we fhew that we have never yet throughly repented of those Sins; or if we have, by that delightful Remembrance and Approbation of them, we do as it were recall our Repentance, and commit the Sins anew. Secondly, the giving Way to the Curiofity of a filthy Imagination and Invention which, if it be indulged, will multiply the wicked Objects of Mental Uncleanness in our Hearts, till the Heart and Mind becomes altogether Carnal; the
the very Thing which, as you heard, the Apostle fays, is Enmity against God.
2. According to another Advice of my Text, carefully avoid all Occafions of this Sin. By Occafions of it I mean, bad Books, impure Plays and Ballads, lewd Company; nay indeed all tempting Objects, whether the Temptation proceed from their Wit, or Beauty, or Perfonableness, or even from their Virtue itfelf; for if what is good in them proves a Snare to us, their Company is to be declined and avoided.
3. Keep the Body under by Labour and Temperance, and conftant Sobriety. Beware of every Thing that may either inflame the Blood, aggravate the Body, or difcompofe the Mind. And as this unclean Spirit is much harder to be caft out of fome than of others, remember what our Saviour faid of an unclean Spirit which the Disciples could not caft out; This Kind, faid he, goeth not out but by Prayer and Fafting. Devotion and Mortification are the best Remedies in this Cafe.
4. Of all Things avoid Idlenefs, and take care to have your Time fo prudently distributed, that when you are not employed in the Duties of Devotion, it may be spent in your handy Labour, or the Business of your Calling, or fome honeft Study, or fome innocent Company or Recreation, that the Devil may not find an Opportunity to throw in his Temptations.
And it is not only to be reckoned Idleness, when a Man does juft nothing; but when he does nothing of what he ought to mind at that Time: When he invents fome idle ways of spending his Time, purely out of Sauntring and Laziness to
keep himself from his Duty. The chief Design of Recreation is to refresh the Spirits weary with Labour, that they may be the better fitted to return to Duty. But when Recreation is turned into Business, and takes up great Portions of our Time, it is then plain Idlenefs; and commonly opens a Door to Drunkenness and Uncleannefs.
5. When Temptations prefent, do not go to argue or parley with them; do not tamper or meddle in the leaft, do not lie ftill and mufe upon them; but flee from them. This is your only Safety in fuch a Cafe. Stop your Ears to the Voice of this Charmer, if he charm never fo fweetly. And get to fome lawful innocent Employ as faft as you can.
6. The best way to conquer Luft, which is an unlawful Inclination of the Soul to the Love of inferiour Things, is to keep ourfelves in the Love of God, and for that End to be much in the Meditation of his Works of Creation, Providence, Redemption and Grace; much in the Study of the Holy Scriptures, much in the Exercife of Devotion, and in the Contemplation of the Vanity of the World, and the Four laft Things, Death and Judgment, Heaven and Hell. The Thoughts of Eternity have a mighty Efficacy in them, to caft a Damp on all Carnal Pleafures; and therefore, whenever thy Mind offers to run out into any forbidden Pleafures, remember, as Solomon fays, that for all thefe Things God will bring thee to Judgment.
7. Lastly, There is another Remedy of Lust prefcribed by God Almighty, the Remedy of Marriage, which, when it is cultivated with that true Love and Friendship that is required, which makes
makes it an Union of Souls, as well as of Bodies and Eftates and Interefts, doth easily keep Luft within due Bounds; the Parties having that mutual Comfort in one another, that there is no Occafion to look for that Satisfaction elsewhere, which they have at Home: But by the Croffnefs, and mutual Jealoufies and Animofities of fome Married Parties, Love is turned into Hatred, and Friendship into Enmity, and the want of Contentment at Home makes them run abroad, to the Ruin of their Conjugal Chastity, as well as the Neglect of their House and Family. The Way to Remedy this is not by crying down that Divine Institution, and giving a Loose to Luft: But by restoring to the Institution, that Love and Peace and true Friendship, and mutual Forbearance, which may make it answer all the Ends for which it was appointed, and particularly this of being a Preservative against the Tranfgreffions of the feventh Commandment. If ye know thefe Things, happy are ye if ye do them. Now to conclude in the Words of St Paul, The God of Peace fanctify you wholly: And I pray God your whole Spirit and Soul and Body be preferved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jefus Chrift. To Him with the Father, &c.
MATT. V. 29.
And if thy right Eye offend thee, pluck it out, and caft it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy Members should Perish, and not that thy whole Body should be cast into Hell. Ver. 30. And if thy right Hand offend thee, cut it off, and caft it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy Members fhould Perish, and not that thy whole Body Should be cast into
The First Sermon on this Text.
HESE Words have a clear Connexion with, and Dependance upon, what went immediately before, concerning the avoiding Adultery and all Uncleannefs, not only in the grofs Act, but the Uncleanness of the Eye and Heart. And this Dependance is yet plainer in the Original than in our Tranflation, which inftead of And if thy right Eye offend thee, runs thus, if then thy right Eye Scandalizes thee, or cautes thee to offend. But though Interpreters agree that there is a clear Connexion, they do not all make it out the fame way, but varioufly, according to the different Interpretations they give of the Words.