ON THE VICE OF IMPURITY
Consider first, that the lust of the flesh, or the inordinate love of the unclean pleasures of the flesh, is another raging plague that has spread itself over the whole earth, and as it once brought down from heaven the waters of the deluge which drowned all the world, and another time fire and brimstone, which consumed whole cities, with all their inhabitants, so it daily calls down the vengeance of heaven, executed by visible and invisible judgments upon thousands, who are cut off before their time in the midst of their sins, and cast down headlong into the bottomless pit. The scripture has abundantly declared how detestable this vice is in the sight of God, by positively assuring us in many places, that such as are guilty of it in any of its kinds, shall never enter the kingdom of heaven, (Rom. i., I Cor. vi., Gal. v., Eph. v., Apoc. xxi., and xxii.,) and in particular, in the account it gives of the causes of the deluge, Gen. vi., by informing us that the general wickedness of men in this line was so odious in the sight of their maker, that he was grieved with it to the heart, and even ‘repented him that he made them,’ ver. 5, 6, 7. By which strong figures of speech, the Holy Spirit would have us to understand, how enormous this vice of impurity is in the eyes of God, seeing that he who by nature is incapable of grief, or repentance, or any other passion, was determined by the hatred he bore to it, to destroy all these his creatures, whom before he had so much favoured and loved.
Consider 2ndly, that what makes the vice of the lust of the flesh so odious in the sight of God, is its particular opposition to his purity and sanctity, by it defiling in a most shameful and beastly manner that temple which he has sanctified for himself, and this more especially with regard to Christians, whose bodies and souls have both of them been dedicated and consecrated to him in their baptism, both of which, by yielding to impurity, are shamefully violated and profaned, are brought down to the resemblance of brute beasts, and given up to be the hold of unclean devils. ‘Know you not that you are the temple of God,’ saith St. Paul, speaking to all Christians, 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17, ‘and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him will God destroy.’ And again, chap. vi. 15, ‘Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ,’ & c. and (v. 19,) ‘the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God. And you are not your own, for you are bought with a great price; glorify and carry God in your body.’ O Christians, attend to this heavenly doctrine, and see you never more presume to be guilty of so crying sacrilege, as to profane and defile the temple of the living God; to drive him out of his temple, and to set up filthy idols in his place; see you never bring in the devil thither, and sacrifice your soul to him, for the sake of a base, filthy, carnal satisfaction, that can last but for a moment.
Consider 3rdly, the dreadful consequences of yielding to the vice of impurity, and the dismal slavery to which it reduces the soul. One act presently begets a habit or violent inclination; this drags the poor soul on to new crimes, and by indulging these a custom is formed, which turns into a second nature, infinitely hard to be overcome, and which, without ceasing, exercises a most cruel tyranny upon the soul. Hence follow all those worst of evils, which St. Gregory (l. xxvi. Morl. c. 31) calls the daughters of luxury, or lust, as being the usual effects of a habit of impurity, viz., a blindness and hardness of heart; a running headlong into the worst of dangers; a thoughtlessness and insensibility with regard to the judgments of God and the truths of eternity; an inconstancy with regard to everything that is good; an aversion to God and to his service, and a perpetual love and seeking of one’s self; a strong attachment to this world, and a horror or despair with regard to the world to come. Such is the unhappy offspring of lust – a train of evils not to be matched on this side of hell. Sweet Jesus, deliver us from this detestable vice.
Conclude to fly from all impurity more than death, and from all the dangerous company or other occasions that may expose thee to temptations in this kind more than from a house infected with the plague. The pestilence can only take away the temporal life of the body, but impurity will kill the soul for eternity.