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But that such excesses should be endured by Christian governments, while the backs of the poor are almost naked, and their bellies miserably pinched with hunger, is almost as great a shame to our pretences to policy, as those (I fear) we unwarrantably 'make to religion. O! that we were fit to receive that beavenly exhortation of the apostle, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit,” (which, God knows, is mocked at ! he goes on)" speaking to yourselves,” (not in lampoons nor obscene songs, that exeite lust, but) “ in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Sect. III. Of the Sin of Whoredom and Fornication. The next crying sin is that of whoredom and fornication, From one of the cleanest people under heaven, I fear, we are become one of the most unchaste, at least in and about London. The French have sufficiently revenged themselves upon us, by the loose manners they have brought amongst us, of which this makes a great part. But I must needs say, to their credit, but our reproach, they keep their wits in their debaucheries; whilst we, by over-doing them, in the imitation of them, lose both. What is become of the ancient education of the kingdom? Our integrity, gravity, and manhood, which gave our men so great reputation in the world? Is it not turned into swearing and drinking, fiddling and dancing, fine clothes, a duel and a wench? Their profaneness must pass for wit, and their base crafts be called policy.
But where is that retired breeding, which made our women as famous for their virtue, as they were always held for their beauty? Alas! there hath been a sort of industry used to subdue their native modesty, as if it were ill breeding to have it; and arts practised to make them hardy against their own blusues, and master their shy and bashful disposition (so peculiar to chastity) into an unconverted confidence: as if to be insensible of ill were their perfection, and to be tame at all things a virtue. Strange! that sobriety should be turned into levity! and lust called love! and wantonness, good humour! to introduce which, nothing has been so pernicious as the use of plays and romances amongst us, where the warm and uneven passions of our youth, easily transported beyond the government of their reason, have been moved and excited to try that in earnest, which they have heard or seen in jest.
But which way soever this ungodly latitude came in, certain it is, that what forty years ago was not fit to be named in conversation, is now practised without any scruple. Marriage, which is God's ordinance, and as lovely to chaste minds as lawful, is now grown a dull thing, old and clownish, kept up only for issue, and that because the law will have it so; a sort of formality, not yet thought fit to be abrogated : so that what was once ordained of God for many other helps and comforts, and permitted by the holy apostle to prevent lust, “(better marry than burn)” is by the extravagant growth of vice turned to quite the contrary. For some men, and (wbich is worse) some women too, have said, • They could love their wives and husbands, if they were not their wives and husbands;' though that be the true reason why they ought to love them. It is, in short, to say, if they were in that condition in which they ought not to love them, they could love them ; but being in that condition in which they ought to love them, they declare they.cannot love them : yet, alas ! they must be called Christians, and children of God: what a shame is this; and what scandal to society? But, for God's sake, let this impiety be. laid to heart! let not the marriage-bed be so horribly defiled; let not our virgins be so basely abused: it destrays honour, fortitude, health : it pollutes houses, and makes the issue of the nation spurious : it occasions. great unkindnesses, rents, confusions, and divisions in families, between husband and wife, parents and children, masters, mistresses, and servants : it spots their name: but, above all, the poor children are unhappy, that wear an ignominy they never deserved. In fine, it teaches young men to slight marriage, and married men to break their contracts. If religion were not interested in it, yet the very breed of the nation is vi. sibly injured by it: good horse-men are more nice and careful in their steeds: the policy of these kingdoms is concerned in preventing the mischiefs, that follow such licentious practices.
But if we will consider the share that religion has both in virginity and in marriage, we shall find many severe sentences past upon the violators of them.* 66 Thou shalt not commit adultery,” saith God. « The adulterer shall be put to death,”+ saith the same God. “I will be a swift witness against the adulterer,” saith the Lord. “ Know ye not, that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor • Exod. xx. 14.
† Lev. xx. 10. | Mal, iii. 5.
adulterers, nor effeminate persons, nor abusers of them. selves with mankind."'* And the holy apostle gives the reason, t. “ The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body: know ye not," saith he; " that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid ! Flee fornication : he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body. What?” saith he, “know ye not, your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” O can men profess to believe these things, and lead that wretched life they live! But yet again hear this man of God: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named amongst you, as becometh saints ; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience : be not ye therefore partakers with them, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness ; but rather reprove them : see then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”+ I shall conclude with these two passages; the first is this, “ Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge!"| This is the other, “But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” This alone ought to deter all people, who have any respect for holy scripture, and do believe the mind of God to be declared therein. Let then both cities, courts, towns, and houses, be swept of such iniquity; let the law have its course upon those inmoral transgressors; let not God be provoked to destroy us, and let all such turn to God by unfeigned repentance; that sobriety, chastity, and virtuous conversation, may return again among us. So shall we escape the wrath, that
+ I Cor. vi. 9, 13, 15, 18, 19, 20. + Ch. iii. 17.
for this, with other enormities, is ready to break out yet farther against us.
Sect. IV. Of the Sin of Luxury, or excess in Living. The third crying sin of this land, is great luxury and voluptuousness, and that in several respects : in apparel, in furniture, in feasting: in these things there is great excess. An excess is the immoderate use of any thing. That which is lawful in itself, may be abused in the use of it. What is more allowable, yet what is more abused, than clothes and victuals ? The end of apparel is to cover nakedness, keep people warm, distinguish sexes; but the end is perverted, It is now used more for ornament, for pride, for lust; to beget esteem, and to draw respect to the person that wears it, than any real benefit: a mean, an effeminate, a wretched way to honour; yet such is the folly of the age, that few things are more reverenced. It opens doors, gets access, obtains dispatches, carries away the cap and the knee from most other pretences. The truth is, this vanity abuses, the reason of just respect; for true quality, if plain, is not to be known among fine clothes. But it does not only confound all reasonable distinction, and thuse civil degrees that are among people, but it begets pride: they think themselves somebody, if they are fine; plain clothes must give them the way and the wall, and keep the distance too. It introduces effeminacy, and excites to wantonness; it provokes to pro digality, and leads people to idleness. But there is a sort of madness in it too; for it is not so much the apparel, as the trimming; not the clothes, but the cut, the mode, the figure, that prevails : and as often as this changes, clothes grow useless, that are not half worn out. This is an iniquity against the good of the government, as well as against God and his creatures, and there is so strong a temptation in it, that not a few turn naught to be fine, as well as that the fine turn naught. In short, there is no good, no advantage, prudence or conveniency in this excess: the law of God and of the land rebuke it: the third chapter of Isaiah is almost intirely employed against it,* in which God does not only rebuke the Haughty looks, the wanton eyes, and enticing mein and behaviour of the women of those times;" but declares his resolution too, “ that he would take away the bravery of their ornaments, chains, bracelets, rings, jewels, and changeable suits of apparel, and that their perfume should be turned into a stink; and instead of a girdle there should be a rent, and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. Tby men,” said God, “shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war; and her gates shall lament and mourn; she being desolate, shall sit upon the ground.”
This was also the sin of Tyrus, as we may see, Ezek. xxvii. For pomp and pride she excelled in those days : she boasted in her splendour and sumptuous living; her buildings were lofty, her furniture stately, her apparel costly, but her end was trouble, and her destruction very great. And God expressly threatens by his propbet Zephaniah ; “I will punish the princes and the kings children, and all that are clothed with strange apparel.” What is this strange apparel? Is it new fashions? Then we are guilty with a witness. Or is it the fashions of strange countries? It is still our own case.
We have been more careful to receive the law from France for our clothes, than from Christ for our conversation; and so prevalent is the humour of that country with us, and powerful the ascendant it hath over us, that we seem to be Frenchmen living in England. But in this, as also in all other things, the Christian religion excels, and that for the good of civil society. It reproves this excess, limits the vain mind of man, and teaches that decent plainness, which becomes the providence and gravity of civil government.
Hear the language of the holy apostles, whose doctrine we all pretend to believe :* “I will, therefore," saith Paul, " that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broidered hair, or gold, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” The same doctrine is repeated by the apostle Peter, speaking to the Christian women, to whom he wrote, “ Let not your adorning be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is, in the sight of God, of great price: for after this manner in the old time, the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned them- . selves." Would to God I could say for the women of our age, that they trusted in God too, and adorned themselves with no other ornaments, than what agreed with the modest and humble plainness of those Christian times !
But the laws of the land, as well as the Christian law, reprove this excess. They only want to be refreshed and
* I Tim. ï. 9, 10. + 1 Pet. iii. 3, 4, 5.