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and Endeavours. But if we are but still half resolved, and at our shall 1, shall 1? the Weight of our sinful Habits will easily retard and frustrate all our good Resolutions.
I shall conclude with a Word of Advice, to such as are resolved heartily to encounter those Vices, and have done at this Time; for the following Directions concerning the plucking out of the of fending Eye, and cutting off the offending Hand, and for preserving the Marriage Vow inviolable, without putting away the Wife, will afford some further Advice in this Matter. At present I shall content myself to conclude with a few very short Directions, towards facilitating the Duties I have been recommending:
1. First then, begin at the Root, as our Saviour here advises, and restrain all Mental Impurities; for besides their own Pollution, which will be hereby prevented, if the Heart be clean, the Tongue and Eyes and Hands will be kept chaste, and all gross Acts will be much more easily avoided, for out of tke Heart are the isues of Life.
In order to this there are two Things carefully to be avoided ; first the ripping up the Memory of our former finful Actions with Pleasure and Delight. For every Time we do that, we shew 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 Curiosity 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 very Thing which, as you heard, the Apostle fays, is Enmity against God.
2. According to another Advice of my Text, carefully avoid all Occasions of this Sin. By Odcasions 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 Personableness, or even from their Virtue itself; 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 constant Sobriety. Beware of
every Thing that
either inflame the Blood, aggravate the Body, or discompose the Mind. And as this unclean Spirit is much harder to be cast out of some than of others, remember what our Saviour faid of an unclean Spirit which the Disciples could not cast out; This Kind, said he, goeth not out but by Prayer and Fasting. Devotion and Mortification are the best Remedies in this Case.
4. Of all Things avoid Idleness, 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 some honest Study, or some 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 Idlenefs, when a Man does just nothing; but when he does nothing of what he ought to mind at that Time: When he invents some 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 Idleness ; and commonly opens a Door to Drunkenness and Uncleanness.
5. When Temptations present, do not go to argue or parley with them ; do not tamper or meddle in the least, do not lie still and muse upon them ; but flee from them. This is your only Safety in such a Case. Stop your Ears to the Voice of this Charmer, if he charm never so sweetly. And get to some lawful innocent Employ as fast as you can.
6. The best way to conquer Lust, which is an unlawful Inclination of the Soul to the Love of inferiour Things, is to keep ourselves 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 Exercise of Devotion, and in the Contemplation of the Vanity of the World, and the Four last Things, Death and Judgment, Heaven and Hell. The Thoughts of Eternity have a mighty Efficacy in them, to cast a Damp on all Carnal Pleatures; and therefore, whenever thy Mind offers to run out into any forbidden Pleasures, remember, as Solomon says, that for all these Things God will bring thee to Judgment.
7. Lastly, There is another Remedy of Lust prescribed by God Almighty, the Remedy of Marriage, which, when it is cultivated with that true Love and Friendihip that is required, which
Mental, &c. [SERM. makes it an Union of Souls, as well as of Bodies and Estates and Interests, doth easily keep Lust within due Bounds; the Parties having that mutual Comfort in one another, that there is no Occasion to look for that Satisfaction elsewhere, which they have at Home: But by the Crossness, and mutual Jealousies and Animosities of some 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 Lust: 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 Transgressions of the seventh Commandment. If ye know these Things, happy are ye if ye do them. Now to conclude in the Words of St Paul, The God of Peace sanctify you wholly : And I pray God your whole Spirit and Soul and Body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Chrift. To Him with the Father, &c.
S E R M.
MATT. V. 29. And if thy right Eye offend thee, pluck it out, and
cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy Members should Perish, and not
that thy whole Body Mould be cast into Hell. Ver. 30. And if thy right Hand offend thee, cut it
off; and cast it from thee : for it is profitable for thee that one of thy Members should Perish, and not that thy whole Body Mould be cajt into Hell.
The First Sermon on this Text.
HESE Words have a clear Connexion with, and Dependance upon,
went immediately before, concerning the avoiding Adultery and all Uncleanness, not only in the grofs Ac, but the Uncleanness of the Eye and Heart. And this Dependance is yet plainer in the Original than in our Translation, which instead of And if thy right Eye offend thee, runs thus, if then thy right Eye Scandalizes thee, or causes thee to offend. But though Interpreters agree that there is a clear Connexion, they do not all inake it out the same way, but variously, according to the different Interpretations they give of the Words.