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It is not a crime (believe me) to corrupt a boy. And lest any one should say this was spoken in the person of Mitio, he will find the same, according to Horace, to have been the opinion of the rigid Cato; who, when he observed a youth entering a brothel, said, Hither it is right that young men should descend; as though that were an argument of probity and honesty. This opinion had taken deep root in the minds of almost all the Heathen, that fornication was either lawful, or at least to be tolerated. This error, therefore, the Apostle in the first place meets, and asserts that fornication should be utterly repelled by Christians; for if this be proved, it easily follows, that other kinds of pleasure which incur heavier guilt are much more to be avoided. · As to this vice; 1. We shall shew from the Holy Scriptures how pernicious it is : 2. We shall overturn those excuses which are usually brought by the patrons of lust. It will be manifest that this is indeed a heavy sin, if it be weighed in the standard of the sanctuary.
1. Because it is always reckoned up, not among lawful pleasures, but among the most loathsome and detestable impurities. The Apostle, in Rom. i. 29, writes, that those who are delivered to a reprobate mind are filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, &c. And in Ephes. v. 3, Fornication and all uncleanness let it not be named among you, &c.
2. Because they are judged to be excluded from the intercourse of faithful Christians who follow fornication : but no one is to be cast out of the Church for light errors. We have this broad sentence of Paul against fornication, 1 Cor. v. 9, 11, I wrote unto you not to company with fornicators : if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, &c. with such an one no not to eat.
3. Because for this crime men are excluded from the kingdom of heaven, and are subjected to the Divine wrath and indignation. 1 Cor. vi. 9, Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, &c. shall inherit the kingdom of God. And in Heb. xiii. 4, Whoremongers and adulterers God shall judge.
It is very easy to add many other reasons to these, which may also demonstrate the weight of this crime.
4. Because it more especially pollutes the body than other vices: but our bodies are members of Christ and tenples of the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. vi. 15, &c. It is, therefore, no light crime to make the members of Christ members of harlots, or to make the temple of the Holy Spirit an abode of lust.
5. Because it peculiarly blinds the mind and understanding. The wise Solomon, being blinded by this vice, proceeded to idolatries; Women turned away his heart, 1 Kings xi. 3. Neither, indeed, did this escape the philosopher. Eth. vii. 10, 'Oux auce Oporimov nai anpatn EvdeXETAL EVA TOY autov; Wisdom and incontinence in the same man are incompatible. Gregory the Great, in Moral 33, says, that blindness of the mind is the eldest daughter of luxury.
6. Because not only does it constitute the fornicator himself guilty of eternal death, but those miserable beings also with whom he sins. This greatly augments the aggravation of this sin: for it is not so in other crimes. If a man steals the goods of a woman, if he bears false testimony against her, if, finally, he should kill her, he does her an injury; but he does not involve her in damnable guilt, because he does not make her a partaker of his sin: but the fornicators defile them with their sins; so that, although they themselves repent, yet they are of necessity tormented in mind, because as much as is in them they have precipitated other souls into hell by the contagion of their crime. Thus much as to the enormity of this sin. • Now let us hear, secondly, what is wont to be alleged by those who deny that simple fornication (for I would use their own words) is a mortal sin : and also by those who, when they have admitted that it is a mortal sin, yet contend that brothels and prostitutes must be retained. The former was not only an error of the heathen, but (if we believe Albertus*) of certain Christians: for he writes that the Greeks openly defended this, and that it was refuted
• Vide Vol. i. p. 148.
by the Latins in the Council of Lyons, Part. 2. tract 18. quæst. 122. Alfonsus de Castro* relates the same from Guido, lib. 7. tit. Fornicatio. The other is the error of the Papists, who stiffly maintain that brothels are not to be removed from cities: which is inferred as well from their writings, as from their practice (for they are not attempted to be done away).
1. They who deny that fornication is a mortal sin, thus argue from Acts xv. 20. The things there enumerated seem to be placed on one footing ; but fornication is there enumerated with certain indifferent things: They should abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
I answer, that fornication is not always reckoned in the Scripture with things in their nature indifferent, but sometimes with things simply evil, as we have shewn. And the reason why, in this place, it is enumerated with certain things indifferent, is not, because they are of the same nature, or of equal guilt; but because all these things equally prevailed to disturb the Church, and to excite dissention between the Gentile converts, and the Jews who were yet weak.
2. They object, that which is mortal sin, and morally evil in itself, is understood to be so by the light of nature; but the Heathen, who were averse to the more flagitious crimes, as adultery, rape, and incest, thought that fornication should be imputed to no one as a vice; viz. because nature did not point it out as a sin.
I answer, first, we must not decide concerning things according to the opinion of the ungodly, as we must not about the tuste of things according to the estimation of the sick, as Aquinas has well remarked. Therefore, although a corrupt and blinded mind does not judge fornication to be sin, yet it is by no means on that account not to be regarded as a sin : for, by the confession of the Orator, Cic. De legib. 1, so corrupting is the habit of evil that by it the small sparks issued from nature are extinguished, and contrary vices spring up. But neither do we admit, that fornication was not condemned by the wiser Heathens. Alcmena in Plautus says, With a womun whom thou judgest to be immodest thou wilt not converse, either in jest or in earnest, unless thou be the most foolish of all men. Tacitus also observes, There is nothing pure in a mind corrupted by lust.
* Alphonsus (Peter) a Spanish Jew of the twelfth Century, who be·came a convert to Christianity, and wrote, first, a “ Dialogue between a Jew and a Christian;" and afterwards, a Treatise on “ Science and Philosophy;" he was eminent for his knowledge of sacred and profane litera.
3. It is objected, Sin cannot come by a Divine command; but God commanded Hosea the prophet, Go take unto thee a wife of whoredoms, and make to thyself children of whorcdoms, &c. Cap. i. 11. It is not a sin, therefore, to commit fornication. · I answer, the word fac, make, which is added in the Vulgate version, is neither in the Hebrew, nor the Greek; but the prophet is commanded to take to himself for a wife that harlot, and bring home to his house even the children which were born to her in fornication. Whether this were a true fact, or was proposed in a figure only, to express the spiritual fornication of the Jews whom God had espoused to himself; it in no way helps those patrons of fornication. If we assert with Origen, Jerome, the Chaldæ paraphrast, Tremellius, and many others, that this was done in vision only, then it is altogether irrelevant to the point. If we admit with Irenæus, Basil, Augustine, Cyril, and others, that it was done in reality; yet it argues nothing in defence of fornication : for the prophet was not commanded to .commit fornication, but to take to himself a wife formerly addicted to fornication. Hence says Augustine, versus Faustus, lib. 22, cap. 80, What is there, I ask, inimical to the Christian faith, if a harlot, abandoning her fornication, becomes a chaste wife ? But that which follows in the Vulgate version, and make to thyself children of fornication, is not repugnant to this opinion, which supposes the prophet to have married this prostitute : for either those were called children of fornication whom she had had before, as appears from the original context; or, if it be referred to
those whom she was to conceive by the prophet, they also were called children of fornication; because following the example of their mother they would most likely become fornicators. Lastly, whichever of these be the fact, it may be answered, That God can specially command a thing which may be forbidden by the ordinary law: thus he commanded Abraham to slay his innocent son, and the Jews to carry away the goods of the Egyptians : Therefore, by the intervention of a special and extraordinary command, the obligation of an ordinary one ceases ; because the condition of the case is changed.
4. They object, Fornication is not contrary to charity; therefore it is not a sin. For thus these points are argued by Augustine, Tom. 9, De decem chord. cap. 10, When I go to a harlot, to whom do I do what I am unwilling to suffer? How do I violate that maxim, What you would not have done to you, you should not do to another ? If I lust after my neighbour's wife, I am unwilling that any one should lust after mine. If I covet my neighbour's goods, I am unwilling that he should take away mine : I do therefore what I am unwilling to suffer. But when I go to an harlot, to whom do I do what I am unwilling to suffer ?
I reply, it is repugnant to charity even in the highest degree. 1. Inasmuch as it is repugnant to the good of the offspring that may be born, whose instruction and education is neglected, seeing that it is the conception of promiscuous concubinage. 2. Inasmuch as it is repugnant to the good of the woman who is corrupted, and to the good of the fornicator himself; whilst the body and mind in each is polluted, and a deadly guilt is incurred. 3. Inasmuch as it is repugnant to the Divine love; whilst the image of God is destroyed by this foul lust, and the command of God is violated. Neither does it help them to affirm that that rule, What you wish not to be done to you, you should not do to another, is not violated by fornication. For what a man would wish to be done to by others is not to be regarded simply : but what he would wish in a regnlated and sound will. If a man should wish his own daughter to be delloured, it will not, therefore, be lawful