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In speaking to this commandment it is proper to begin with observing, that as in the sixth, where murder is forbidden, every thing which tends to it, or proceeds from the same bad principle with it, is forbidden too: so here, in the seventh, where adultery is prohibited, the prohibition must be extended to whatever else is criminal in the same kind. And therefore, in explaining it, I shall treat, first of the fidelity which it requires from married persons, and then of the chastity and modesty which it requires from all persons.

First of the fidelity owing to each other from married persons.

Not only the Scripture account of the creation of mankind is a proof to as many as believe in Scripture, that the union of one man with one woman was the original design and will of Heaven; but the remarkable equality of males and females born into the world is an evidence of it to all men. Yet notwithstanding it must be owned, the cohabitation of one man with several wives at the same time was practised very anciently in the darker ages, even by some of the patriarchs, who were otherwise good persons;

but, having no explicit revealed rule concerning this matter, failed of discerning the above-mentioned purpose of God, and both this error and that of divorce on slight occasions, were tolerated by the law of Moses. But that was only as the laws of other countries often connive at what the lawgiver is far from approving. Accordingly God expressed, particularly by the prophet Malachi*, his dislike of these things. And our Saviour both tells the Jews, that Moses permitted divorces at pleasure, merely because of the hardness of their hearts, and peremptorily declares, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery. Now certainly it cannot be less adulterous to marry a second without putting away the first.


Nor is polygamy (that is, the having more wives than one at once) prohibited in holy writ alone, but condemned by many of the heathens themselves, who allege against it very plain and forcible reasons. is inconsistent with a due degree of mutual affection in the parties, and due care in the education of their children. It introduces into families perpetual subjects of the bitterest enmity and jealousy; keeps a multitude of females in most unnatural bondage, frequently under guardians fitted for the office by unnatural cruelty; and tempts a multitude of males, thus left unprovided for, to unnatural lusts. In civilized and well-regulated countries therefore, single marriages have either been established at first, or prevailed afterwards on experience of their preferableness; and a mutual promise of inviolable faithfulness to the marriage-bed hath been understood to be an essential part of the contract: which promise is with us most solemnly expressed in the * Mal. ii. 14, 15, 16. + Matth. xix. 8, 9.

office of matrimony, by as clear and comprehensive words as can be devised. And unless persons are at liberty in all cases to slight the most awful vows to God, and the most deliberate engagements of each to the other; how can they be at liberty in this, where public good and private happiness are so deeply interested?

Breaches of plighted faith, as they must be preceded by a want of sufficient conjugal affection in the offending party, so they tend to extinguish all the remains of it; and this change will be perceived, and will give uneasiness to the innocent one, though the cause be hid. But if it be known, or merely suspected by the person wronged, (which it seldom fails to be in a little time) it produces, from the make of the human mind, in warmer tempers, a resentment so strong, in milder, an affliction so heavy, that few things in the world equal either. For love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave, the coals thereof are coals of fire*. And with whatever vehemence they burn inwardly or outwardly, it can be no wonder; when perfidious unkindness is found in that nearest relation, where truth and love were deliberately pledged, and studiously paid on one side in expectation of a suitable return; and when the tenderest part of the enjoyment of life is given up beyond recall into the hands of a traitor, who turns it into the acutest misery. To what a height grief and anger on one side, and neglect ripened into scorn and hatred on the other, may carry such calamities, cannot be foreseen: but at least they utterly destroy that union of hearts, that reciprocal confidence, that openness of communication, that sameness of interests,

* Cant. viii. 6.

of joys and of sorrows, which constitute the principal felicity of the married state. And besides, how very frequently do the consequences of these transgressions affect, and even ruin, the health or the fortune, it may be both, of the blameless person in common with the other; and perhaps derive down diseases and poverty to successive generations!

These are fruits which unfaithfulness in either party may produce. In one it may produce yet


A woman, guilty of this crime, who, to use the words of Scripture, forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God*, brings peculiar disgrace on her husband, her children, and friends and may bring an illegitimate offspring to inherit what is the right of others: nor is the infamy and punishment, to which she exposes herself, a less dreadful evil for being a deserved one. And if falsehood on the men's 'part hath not all the same aggravations, it hath very great ones in their stead. They are almost constantly the tempters: they often carry on their wicked designs for a long time together: they too commonly use the vilest means to accomplish them. And as they claim the strictest fidelity, it is ungenerous, as well as unjust, to fail of paying it. All men must feel how bitter it would be to them to be injured in this respect; let them think then what it is to be injurious in it: and since the crime is the same when committed by them, as when committed against them, let them own that it deserves the same condemnation from the Judge of the world. The Lord hath been witness, saith the prophet, between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou dealest treacherously; yet is she thy companion, and

Prov. ii. 17.

the wife of thy covenant. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth*.

It will be safest, but I hope it is not necessary, to add, that an unmarried man or woman, offending with the wife or husband of any one, being no less guilty of adultery than the person with whom the offence is committed, is consequently an accomplice in all the wickedness and all the mischief abovementioned; and this frequently with aggravating circumstances of the greatest baseness and treachery, and ingratitude and cruelty, that can be imagined. Whatever some may plead, surely none can think such behaviour defensible; and most surely they will not find it so; for marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adul terers God will judge†.

The crime of adultery being so great, it follows, that all improper familiarities, which, though undesignedly, may lead to adultery, and all imprudent behaviour, which may give suspicion of it, is to be avoided as matter of conscience; that all groundless jealousy is to be checked by those who are inclined to it, and discouraged by others, as most heinous injustice; and that every thing should be carefully observed by both parties, which may endear them to each other. No persons therefore should ever enter into the marriage bond with such as they cannot esteem and love and all persons who have entered into it, should use all means, not only to preserve esteem and love, but to increase it: affectionate condescension on the husband's part, cheerful submission on the wife's; mildness and tenderness, prudence and attention to their common interest, and that of their * Mal. ii. 14, 15. + Heb. xiii. 4.

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