THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT.
FORTY-FIRST LORD’S DAY.
Question 109. Doth God forbid, in this command, only adultery, and such like gross sins?
Answer. Since both our body and soul are temples of the Holy Ghost, he commands us to preserve them pure and holy; therefore he forbids all unchaste actions gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatever can entice men thereto.
God in this commandment enjoins and sanctions the preservation of chastity and marriage, and hence authorises marriage itself; for whenever God forbids any thing, he at the same time commands and authorises the observance of that which is opposite thereto. God, now, in this commandment forbids adultery, which is a violation of conjugal fidelity. When God singles out adultery as the most shocking and debasing vice of all the sins which are repugnant to chastity, he at the same time prohibits and condemns all wandering and wanton lusts, whether they be found in married or unmarried persons, and prohibits all other sins and vices contrary to chastity, together with their causes, occasions, effects, antecedents, consequents, &c. And, on the other hand, he enjoins all those virtues which contribute to chastity. The reasons of this are these: 1. When one thing is specified, all those are understood which are closely allied or connected with it. Therefore, when adultery is prohibited, as the most shocking and debasing form of lust, we are to understand all other forma of lust as forbidden at the same time. 2. Where the cause is condemned, there the effect is also condemned; and where the effect is condemned, there the cause is condemned. Hence the antecedents as well as the consequents of adultery are here forbidden and condemned. 3. The design of this commandment is the preservation of chastity amongst men, and the guarding of marriage, or keeping it holy. Whatever, therefore, tends to the preservation of chastity, and the protection of marriage, is enjoined by this commandment, whilst that which is opposed thereto is forbidden. There are three virtues which we may speak of under the seventh commandment: chastity, modesty and temperance.
1. CHASTITY, in general, is a virtue contributing to the purity of body and soul, agreeing with the will of God, and shunning all lusts prohibited by God, all unlawful intercourse and inordinate copulation in connection with all the desires, causes, effects, suspicions, occasions, &c., which may lead thereto, whether in holy wedlock or in a single life. The term chastity comes, according to some, from the Greek xazw, which means to adorn, because it is an ornament, both of the whole man, and also of all the other graces or virtues. The name has, therefore, been given to this virtue by way of pre-eminence, inasmuch as it is one of the principal virtues which constitute the image of God, according as it is said, God is chaste, and will be called upon by those who are of a chaste mind, and has regard to such prayers.
Chastity is of two kinds one of single life, the other of holy wedlock. The former is a virtue shunning all wanton lusts without marriage. Conjugal chastity is to preserve in holy wedlock the order instituted by the wonderful counsel and wisdom of God.
The causes of chastity are, 1. The command of God, “This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication; that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor.” “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (1 Thes. 4:3, 4. Heb. 12:14.) 2. The preservation of the image of God. 3. A desire to avoid defacing or mar ring the image of God, and the union between Christ and the church, of which Paul speaks when he says, “Flee from fornication. Know ye not 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.” (1 Cor. 6:15.) 4. Rewards and punishments.
We may mention as being in opposition to chastity, a dissembled chastity, an impure single life, whoredom, concubinage, incest, adultery, and all wanton and hateful lusts, in connection with their causes, occasions and effects.
All the various species of lust may be referred to these three classes:
The first class or kind are those which are contrary to nature, and from the devil such as are even contrary to this our corrupt nature, not only because they corrupt and spoil it of conformity with God, but also because this our corrupt nature shrinks from them and abhors them. The lusts of which the apostle Paul speaks in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, are of this class, as the confounding of sexes, also abuses of the female sex. The magistrate should punish these heinous sins and abominable transgressions with extraordinary punishments. Incest is greatly opposed to this our corrupt nature, although examples of it occurred in our first parents. These examples, however, were of necessity, or by a divine dispensation, and are, therefore, to be regarded as exceptions to the general rule.
The second class of lusts are those which proceed from this our corrupt nature; as fornication committed by such as are unmarried, adulteries by persons that are both married, and intercourse between such as are married and unmarried. If a married person have connection with another person that is unmarried, it is simple adultery. But if one married person have intercourse with another person that is married, it is a double adultery; for he violates his own marriage, and also that of the other person, fornication takes place when those that are unmarried have connection with each other. Magistrates ought by virtue of their office to punish severely fornication and adultery. God appointed and required capital punishment to be inflicted upon adulterers. And although he did not appoint death as the punishment of fornicators; yet, when he frequently declared in his word that no whore should be found among his people, he signified that it should be punished according to its heinousness and aggravated nature. There are other lusts which are committed by this our corrupt nature with an evil conscience; such as those evil desires to which we give indulgence, or with which we are delighted, and which we do not study and endeavor to avoid, which, although they are not punished by civil power, are nevertheless joined with an evil conscience, and punished by God. The third class of lusts are the corrupt inclinations, to which good men give no indulgence, but which they resist, and from which they cut off all occasions, so that their consciences are not troubled, because they call upon God, seek the grace of resistance, and have in their hearts the testimony that their sins are graciously forgiven them. Marriage was instituted after the fall as a remedy against these sins. It is therefore said, in view of these inclinations, “It is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Cor. 7:9.) Yet Paul does not in these words approve of such marriages as are premature, injurious to the state, entered into before a suitable age, or which are against good customs and manners.
II. MODESTY, or shamefacedness, is a virtue abhorring all uncleanness, joined with shame, grief and sadness, either on account of past impurity, or on account of fear of future uncleanness; having also a desire and purpose to avoid not only uncleanness itself, but everything that might lead to it. It is called by the Greeks aiowq, which means bashfulness or shame, which Aristotle defines to be a fear of disgrace. This virtue is necessary for chastity, as a help, a cause, effect, consequent and sign of chastity.
The extremes, or vices which are repugnant to modesty, are: 1. Immodesty, or imprudence, which makes light of impurity. 2. Stupidity, or unrefined and perverse bashfulness, when any one is ashamed of that of which he ought not to be ashamed, as of a thing proper and becoming,, which calls for no shame. 3. Obscenity and scurrility.
III. TEMPERANCE is a virtue observing such limits as are becoming to nature, propriety, sound reason and the order of persons, places and tunes, according to the law of nature in things pertaining to the body; as meat, drink, &c. This is the mother and nurse of all the other virtues, and is the cause of chastity without which there can be no chastity; for without temperance we cannot be chaste. “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess.” “Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wanton ness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.” (Luke 21:34. Eph. 5:18. Rom. 13:13, 14.)
The extremes of temperance are: 1. Intemperance in meat and drink, gormandizing, gluttony, drunkenness, inebriation; which signifies properly not the excess itself of drinking, but the nausea and reeling of the head, which are felt the day following. 2. Luxury, which is too much prodigality and profusion in food, clothing, equipage, &c. 3. Hurtful temperance, or too great abstinence, and such as does not agree with our nature, as the temperance of hermits and superstitious fasts.
Since this commandment sanctions and authorizes marriage, it is proper we should here introduce some remarks in reference to it: and in doing BO, we shall consider:
Marriage is a lawful and indissoluble union between one man and one woman, instituted by God for the propagation of the human race, that we may know him to be chaste, and to hate all lust, and that he will gather to himself out of the whole human race, thus lawfully propagated, an ever lasting church, which shall rightly know and worship him; and that it may be a society of labors, toils, cares and prayers, between persons living in a state of matrimony.
II. WHY WAS MARRIAGE INSTITUTED?
God himself is the author of marriage. It is, therefore, no human device or invention, but was instituted by God himself in Paradise, before the fall of man. The causes on account of which it was instituted are, as we may learn from the definition which we have just given: 1. That it might be the means of perpetuating and multiplying the human race in a lawful manner. 2. The gathering of the church. 3. That it might be an image or resemblance of the union between Christ and the church. 4. That wanton and wandering lusts might in this way be avoided. 5. That there might be a society of labor and prayer between those who are married. This society or connection is closer and more intimate than that which exists between men generally. Hence, the prayers of those who are living in this state are more ardent, inasmuch as we more earnestly desire to help those by our prayers to whom we are united in the closest relations of life; as parents pray more fervently for their children, than the children do for their parents, for the reason, as it is commonly said, Love descends, not ascends.
III. WHAT MARRIAGES ARE LAWFUL?
That the union constituted by marriage may be lawful, the following things are necessary: 1. That it be a union contracted between persons fit to be joined together. 2. That it be contracted by the consent of both parties. 3. That it meet the approbation of parents, or those who are “in the place of parents, and whose consent is required by the law. 4. That no mistake or error be made in the persons. 5. That suitable conditions, propriety and lawful means, be observed in the contract. 6. That it be contracted between two persons only. “The twain shall be one flesh.” (Gen. 2:23. Matt. 19:5.) The fathers who lived under the Old Testament had many wives; but we must judge of the propriety and lawfulness of a thing not by examples, but by law. 7. That it be contracted in the Lord: that is, between the faithful, and with prayer. 8. That it be not contracted between persons who are forbidden, or who are of such near relationship, or degrees of kindred, as are forbidden by God and wholesome laws.
Kindred, or relation by blood, is either consanguinity or affinity. There are some, however, who regard kindred and consanguinity as one and the same thing. Consanguinity is between persons having sprung from the same stock or family, being closely allied by blood. Affinity is the relation between a man and his wife s kindred, arising from marriage. The stock is the person from whom the rest proceed or spring. Those, now, who are related by blood, are distinguished by lineage and degree. Lineage is the order or line of kinsfolk descending from one stock. The degree which distinguishes them is the distance of kinsfolk, whether on the side of the father or mother, from the original stock. This common rule is to be ob served in reference to these degrees: There are as many degrees as there are persons who have sprung from the stock. The law of God forbids the second degree in marriage; wise and wholesome political laws forbid also the third degree. Lineage is either of ascendants, or of descendants, or of collaterals. Ascendants include the ancestors. Descendants include all the posterity. Collaterals are those who are not born one from another, but from the same persons. The lineage of collaterals is either equal or unequal. It is equal when the distance from the common stock is equal; and unequal when the distance is unequal. The degrees of consanguinity which God forbids to be united in the marriage relation may be found in the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus. And that these degrees are natural and moral, is proven: 1. Because the Gentiles are said to have committed abominations on account of having violated them, and to have been rejected of God on this account. The Gentiles now had not the civil and ceremonial laws of Moses. 2. Because God punished or destroyed the world by the waters of the deluge for the violation of these laws, or for indulgence in wanton lusts and incestuous marriages. 3. From the design of this commandment, which is the prohibition of incest, which design is universal, perpetual and moral. 4. Paul most severely reproved the incestuous man, who had married his father's wife, of whom we have an account in the fifth chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, and commanded that he should be excommunicated. So John the Baptist also reproved Herod for having married his brother s wife, in that it was unlawful for him so to do. (Mark 6:18.)
IV. IS MARRIAGE A THING INDIFFERENT?
Marriage is lawful for all who are fit or proper persons to enter into this state. It is a thing indifferent, by which we mean that it is neither commanded, nor prohibited by God, but left to the will and pleasure of those who possess the gift of continency. It is different, however, with those who do not possess this gift to them it is not merely permitted, but commanded by God himself, that they marry in the Lord. Hence to these persons it is not a thing indifferent, but necessary, as is evident from what the Apostle says: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman; nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” “I say to the unmarried and widows it is good for them, if they abide, even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Cor. 7:1, 2, 8, 9.) A proper regard should be had to time, both in first and second marriages; nor should we give loose reins to our lusts and passions; but rather curb and restrain them by prayer, and earnest efforts to the extent of our power, so as not to wound our consciences or violate that which is proper and just. Plutarch, in his life of Numa, testifies how carefully the Romans guarded against this, and all improprieties in reference to marriage, when he says, “Woman remained widows ten months after the death of their husbands; and that if any one married before the expiration of ten months, the laws of Numa required her to sacrifice a cow heavy with calf, &c. The want of a proper regard to time in marriages, is a cause of many evils both in civil and ecclesiastical affairs. Yet those who have once lawfully and in the Lord contracted marriage, may not break or violate their vow, except for adultery.
V. WHAT ARE THE DUTIES OF MARRIED PERSONS?
The common and mutual duties of married persons include, 1. Mutual love. 2. Conjugal fidelity, which requires that each one love the other only, and that constantly. 3. A community of good, together with sympathy in each other s sorrows and misfortunes. 4. The training and education of children. 5. Bearing each other’s infirmities with a desire to remove them.
It is the duty of the husband, 1. To nourish and cherish his wife and Children. 2. To govern them. 3. To defend them. It is the duty of the wife, 1. To assist her husband in providing and preserving what pertains to the family. 2. To obey and reverence her husband. When these duties are not performed, there is a great breach of what tends to the lawful use of marriage.
VI. WHAT THINGS ARE CONTRARY TO MARRIAGE?
The things which are contrary to marriage are the same as those which conflict with chastity. 1. Fornication and adultery, by which conjugal faith and chastity are violated by one, or both parties. Also incest, unlawful copulation, and abuse of marriage. 2. Hasty and rash divorces, which in former times were common among the Romans and Jews, and which are even at this day frequent among uncivilized nations. The divorces of which we here speak are not such as take place on account of adultery, but from one person deserting or leaving the other. 3. Forbidding to marry.
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