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Title: A Sermon: Thou shalt not commit Adultery

Author: Joseph Phillimore

Release Date: April 26, 2020  [eBook #61940]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from an undated copy in Kensington and Chelsea local studies, bound with pamphlets by Rev. Joseph Phillimore.  Many thanks to Kensington and Chelsea local studies for making it available for transcription.

Public domain cover


Exodus, xx. 14.

Thou shalt not commit Adultery.

Nothing is more serious than religion, and this Commandment, which God himself hath taught us, nothing is less seriously considered; religion teacheth us our duty to our Creator, our fellow creatures, and ourselves, shewing us the way to escape future misery, and present trouble, and to obtain everlasting happiness.  In the present æra, the crime of adultery seems much to prevail, to the great dishonour of what I have just mentioned; let me implore the attention of this congregation to enquire into the causes of it, pointing out p. 2the fatal and dreadful consequences attendant on this course of living, and if haply, we can find them, eradicate the same, as an evil apparently spreading in the world, it becometh the professors of christianity to condemn and discourage it, as well as the preacher of the Gospel to intimidate his hearers, in order to suppress the progress of it in future, as a crime that must undermine all the social virtues the heart possesses, and all the real enjoyment and hope of happiness, here and hereafter.  My first endeavour is to find out the origin or cause of this most melancholy evil, to prevent its present as well as future extent, and save the souls of many who are at a very critical time just entering into life, big with the prospect of enjoying every comfort, innocency and pureness of heart can receive, till art and delusive sin make their various attacks; for if we enter into life void of sin, void of hypocrisy, and of a deceitful heart, with minds desirous of being informed with every requisite perfection that adorns and animates the human race, to perform virtuous and laudable actions, it is to be acquired at a time when we are supposed to have arrived at mature age, and reason p. 3directs us, and are judged proper and fit to be accountable only to our conscience for the loss of our souls, and not owing to ignorance and inattention to those instructive commandments, we ought to have had engraved and written in our hearts the ten Commandments, as the guide of our youth, and the great comfort of old age; the world in general wants a thorough reformation, and all ranks and degrees of people whatever, and whensoever any societies private or public meet or assemble, and encourage or countenance such neglect of duty, and the breaking of any one single commandment of our blessed Saviour’s as trifling or of immaterial consequence, they ought to be informed of the great danger they stand in here in this life of trial and approbation, and of the little hopes of futurity, for scripture assures us God can as soon destroy whole nations and cities, as he has done, for continuing in wicked and abandoned courses, as he can take away the life of a single individual, therefore let the world be warned of and desist from its error, as it will encrease in the displeasure of the Almighty, and let not this cause be advanced, that any one commits it through inattention, p. 4or having had examples which apparently are not immediately corrected by the hands of providence, yet God knoweth the very secrets of all our hearts.  The next reason to be advanced for the origin, or cause, I am afraid on examination more like to be, than the preceding one, therefore weigh them both deeply in your minds, all ye that this day hear my text and discourse, and which ever you think most likely to prevail forsake it—This then, I am fearfully, wonderfully and sorely afraid is the source, the disturbed and impure spring from whence the mind is tainted while young, and very susceptible of receiving the first impressions whether good or bad, is idolized, neglected, or flattered, and for want of examination either, from an affectionate father, guardian, or conductor, whether she improved as she grows mature, in virtue, steadiness, discretion, and understanding the commandments of our blessed Redeemer, the full meaning, the full intent and design of them, as our fond father wished, and hoped every one would in whatsoever sphere of life, either male or female, moved in, that they were to be the great foundation from whence every comfort p. 5present and future should flow, and bring salvation at the last great day of universal judgment to our immortal souls: but many have been taught them insignificantly, and at a time long ere they come into the world have forgot the great use of them, thinking they were to be learnt while very young, and of no consequence to be attended to hereafter, and that other ornaments and qualification were far more requisite, and more desirable, all qualifications and improvements are highly laudable in any one to obtain: but yet may you all remember the commandments of your God are the sole protectors of innocency, religion and virtue, and when all others fade they will remain, and plead for the broken and contrite heart at the throne of grace, for Satan misses no opportunity of pursuing the ignorant and neglected, and is continually on the watch seeking whom he may devour like a ramping and roaring lion greedy of his prey, laying his snares, and while young the heart is soon tempted and led astray, and instantly as the incautious and giddy enter into the large and spacious world surrounded with gaiety and pleasure, they fall a sacrifice to infamy and disgrace p. 6which let succeeding years let ever so quick, ever so many, can never entirely wipe away or extinguish.  If there are any among you chosen as examples of virtue, be religious and let not this be laid against you, who ought to have been examplary in every thing that is praiseworthy behaved quite contrary to morality and decency.  Think on the fond parent who watches the infant, with every tender thought, with every affectionate look, folds him in his arms, with transports of the greatest love and joy, reflecting within himself can I but support my child, with industry will I labour night and day, till it is able to secure comfort to itself, I am determined it shall not want food for its maintenance, or raiment for its body to protect it from the inclemency of severe and nipping winter, and every improvement for its mind that is to be acquired; all these advantages for a beloved child will I eagerly seek after, even suffer adversity rather than it should be neglected, and a denial of many wonted comforts, for I shall be rewarded by it hereafter when it arrives at years of discretion, and judgment: but, alas after all these warm, these most pleasing feelings; the time comes for these virtues p. 7and all this affection, and accomplishments to shine forth, and to be returned to the aged parent declining with years and almost bending to the brink of the grave, to bid a long farewell to the world, and receive the last comforts of worn out and decrepid old age, this darling object in which all his delight and happiness for many past years had been placed and vainly thought to be innocent, is led forth, accused, and condemned by the great council of the nation of the most horrid crime of adultery; oh, miserable state, lost innocence and fallen virtue truly lamentable, never to be restored or recovered.

Having given you two reasons from whence this unhappy sin arises.  I shall proceed to inform mankind why God instituted marriage, and prove it the most solemn engagement on this side of the grave concluding with some useful reflections on my text.  Providence’s delight, pleasure, and satisfaction, is, was, and ever will be to consult and provide every comfort for man void of sin, during his short and uncertain passage on earth, knowing very well when he created p. 8him, he could not live alone, and it was highly necessary the human race should be spread into different parts of the earth and of God’s large and spacious dominions in order that the whole earth might be inhabited and that a knowledge of a future state should be delivered down to posterity, that religion should flourish; that God should be worshipped in spirit and in truth, that man should have a due sense of his nature, how wonderful he was in all his works, that he made the heavens, and the earth, and the stars; and the sun to rule by day, and the moon by night, that learning should flourish, that an eager desire of improvement in every art and science should enter into the mind of man according to the abilities nature had endowed him with; some men should turn their thoughts to lofty and sublime contemplations, others to the various sorts of husbandry and agriculture, and that the earth should be tilled and at a proper season, man for his earnest endeavours of industry and integrity should be paid for his trouble, and expence in his respective employment, whether high or low; for God loveth the good in every situation: p. 9that he should look round about him and be thoroughly satisfied with these blessings, but all these things could not be accomplished and brought to perfection without man was to have a mate and partner in life; accordingly, that nothing should be deficient or wanting for man’s real happiness, God, instituted this holy and solemn ceremony that by living together in pureness and love the world should be peopled, this was the only means Providence in his great wisdom and mercy to a fallen generation condescended to prevent sin and secure to himself a peculiar people free from corruption and disobedience, shewing at the same time how manifestly, and how greatly he wished the salvation of his beloved children he ordained this commandment, thou shalt not commit adultery, for as Isaac and Rebecca lived together soberly and quietly and as Sarah obeyed Abraham in calling him Lord, so ought all ye as long as ye live together, in sickness and in health, in adversity as well as prosperity, till death either the one or the other takes away.  Yet this sacred, this wonderful affection and love of our great and fond father, creator and redeemer p. 10is like the rest of his most valuable precepts and institutions in these our sinful days very frequently broken, therefore be cautious all ye who are about to approach, the sacred altar of God and come not irreverently, I mean either male or female disinterested in your choice having made it either for lucre or splendor, but pay due attention to what you then hear and are about to perform, a ceremony, which must give God the greatest pleasure if you adhere to your commandments and as you call upon God to witness the truth of your intention, you ought previously to have revolved serious thoughts in your minds in order not to be negligent or inattentive to what you then hear and ought to understand, never intending to fulfil your promise faithfully, you act the most wicked and unfeeling of all human actions, for whoever breaks this commandment is sure to bring unhappiness and misery on one side, and most likely destruction and a broken heart on the other; adultery induceth sinful man to do what is wrong to his fellow creature, but God is not thus to be dealt with, and without allowing a single moment’s thought or reflection, on future punishment, p. 11for wicked deeds; by this crime his own feelings must plunge him into trouble and unhappiness in the day time, and in the calm and serene hour of sleep and refreshment awaken him with the guilt of a wicked conscience, having disunited by subtility and hypocrisy, the hearts of those who had been once endeared to each other and knitted together in the bonds of friendship and in the tenderest and dearest ties of affection and love.  Present time and youth may make sinners inattentive to such wickedness, but depend upon it, the serious departing hour and a death bed repentance will renew all these sad and melancholy actions to our view, when the broken heart is overwhelmed with grief, and the tongue too feeble to pray to its God.

We read in Scripture of one of the best of men having been guilty of this crime, but God suffered him not to go unpunished, for king David very much displeased the Lord for the treatment of Uriah the Hittite for the sake of Bathsheba, and besides the crime of adultery he was hypocritical and perfidious and ungrateful, and for this very purpose it is mentioned so very strong in holy writ, to prevent p. 12in future, the very best of men in every other respect from committing this crime.  David became penitent and sorrowful, for having displeased the Lord, for as his crime was of the highest nature, it called aloud for his severe vengeance, and he punished him in the most feeling manner, for the little child which he had born unto him in which his soul delighted, the Lord struck with sickness and it died: this is scripture evidence of temporal punishment, but what makes this crime the greater, it is generally attended with hypocrisy, for the very person that performs it pretends to be the most sincere friend, to him, in whose heart he pierces the most sharp pointed dart, and secretly bereaves him of that peace of mind the world can never restore, and that confidence the greatest of all happiness, which he vainly thought no time or circumstances could ever remove; remember this, O ye dealers in iniquity, it was not an open enemy that had done me this dishonor, but it was even thou my companion, mine own familiar friend.  Men are exhorted in scripture to love their wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for her, and to forsake father and mother, and p. 13cleave to their wives; as for the female part of the creation, let them remember, a virtuous woman is a crown of glory to her husband, but she that maketh him ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.  Be wise now therefore, O ye sons and daughters of Abraham and attend to the proverbs of Solomon, the Lord giveth wisdom and discretion unto thee, to preserve thee, from the ways of the evil man, whose ways are darkness and sorrow, and from the strange woman, which flattereth with her words, and forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God; whose house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead, none that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the path of life.  Marriage is reduced by our Saviour to its original institution, as it was in the beginning, before the passions of men had broken through the rules, which right reason prescribed, and by polygamy had brought poverty and discord into houses, and many troubles and wickedness into the world, to which had been added another evil, that of frequent divorces.  The Gospel requires of all those who enter into this holy state, that p. 14they pass their days together in sacred love, fidelity, and friendship, and in a joint care of their families.

Before I conclude, there is one rank of people, I most feelingly address myself unto, in order to prevent adultery, and that is, parents of every condition, being as such myself, most affectionately interested for the future race avoiding disgrace, and ignominy, as well as the present.  My advice and recommendation to one and all, is to consider the weighty and important characters they support, and maintain it in dignity and being patterns of virtue themselves, and governing their children by good examples, rather than threatenings or punishment, for the truly affectionate and virtuous parents, God in his great mercy in all probability will grant obedient and affectionate children, as a recompence, that will honour them while on earth and reverence their name after their departure, remembering there is no advantage to speak evil of the dead especially he who hath walked uprightly, walketh surely, but he that perverteth the ways of the good shall be known.  Two qualifications for the mind p. 15are incumbent on all parents, who are capable, which few are not, in these our enlightened and improved days, to learn their children, at least if not to learn them, to examine them frequently, and hear them when instructed, and particularly on the sabbath day, that is their prayers and the church catechism, which may appear to the giddy and inconsiderate an arduous and irksome task, yet to the truly pious and religious, must be laudable, and meet with approbation: this will be building their posterity on a rock which will not easily be moved, and when the vices of the age which have ruined, and I am afraid will continue to shorten the lives of many of their cotemporaries, they will stand fast, having prayed to God night and morning for his peculiar care and protection, wherefore Providence having carried them through the many casualties of infancy, and safely guided them against, and turned them aside from the perpetual dream and pressing torrent of unruly and raging passions swollen with intemperance and excess, at a maturer age he will crown them with virtue at the end.  Children are not looked upon by many p. 16parents as the greatest of all blessings, and as a gift and heritage that cometh of the Lord, many treat them not as the first and principal object of man’s heart, remembering what our blessed Saviour saith, suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven, but train up a child in the way he shall go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it; this is of the highest moment to all parents, and let them remember, not to deserve the rebuke and chastisement of that all merciful and most affectionate father of the universe, who wishes not that the least of all these his little children should perish, but live, be happy, and be immortal.

I will now point out a method, which I hope will prevent this crime, as for man, let him marry a woman purely for her virtue, and the woman the hidden man of the heart, preferring one another, concealing nothing from each other which concerns mutual affection, remembering, we are all imperfect beings, yet we are the noblest objects of God’s thoughts, and each sex as valuable in its respective situation, in the sight p. 17of God, the one as the other, therefore as God was without spot and blemish, let us imitate him and become as pure as our frail nature will admit of, let us obey the text, and turn not from the path of righteousness.  We should do all that is in our power for the mutual advantages of one another, and if either is guilty of any trifling fault, look upon it as accidental, and not a designed intention of disobliging, by which means we shall never have cause to dispute one with another, for frequently from very trifling circumstances, inattention first begins, succeeded with dislike, and then successive faults on both sides, the one grows careless and inattentive to the other, till at last a thorough dislike arises on each side, and for revenge, this unhappy sin takes its origin, attended on one part with all the disgrace and dishonour the female has to boast of, and on the other, dissatisfaction and inquietude at home, from whence, man becomes restless, and uneasy in his mind, for as soon as he is deprived of comfort in his own dwelling, in vain will he hunt for peace in the whole world p. 18besides.—Therefore in order to preserve virtue and chastity, let all make trial at a proper season of life of this divine blessing, instituted and ordained by Providence, and those that are joined together in God’s presence, by obedience in their situation, let not man have it in his power to put asunder, but by living together in harmony, faithfulness and constancy, in adversity as well as prosperity, for the school of adversity which we all wish to escape, is the great trial of our faith and obedience, and in vain let the sycophant boast at that period, the unhappiness, woe, and misery he hath caused the innocent to experience and frustrate all the mischievous and insinuating attempts of artful and deceitful men, which, let them be ever so long secreted from man during his passage here, at the last great day, God will disclose them, and the secrets of the libertine and adulterer brought forth to condemn him.

Thus have I endeavoured to prove how highly culpable, every person is and how daring to presume to break through: a commandment descended from so great an author; p. 19the disadvantages accompanying this disobedience I have already fully described, and am persuaded, must be unhappiness continually while we are here, for reason before mentioned and observed, but still there is worse punishment and inconveniencies to fear, and greater sufferings to undergo, and that is not man’s displeasure only, but Almighty God’s just and severe correction, remembering he will grant his most gracious pardon to all those who ignorantly do wrong and by that means fall into error, but this is one of his most express commandments, and he adds, happy are ye when ye know them, if ye do them, but if ye continue to break them, your future salvation, will be insecure when you quit this scene of life, resting assured there is not a greater crime to be committed by man than this, therefore write it in your hearts, that perfect obedience to the divine will of our father which is in heaven, is the only spring, the only fountain from whence peace in this present world can be obtained, and the only method of receiving pardon and forgiveness p. 20in the world to come, in those blessed mansions where the pure alone will see God.

Remember this, O ye wives, as St. Paul saith to the Ephesians, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord, and let every man in particular, says the same apostle, so love his wife as himself, and the wife that she reverence her husband.

Be ye followers of God as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and sacrifice for a sweet smelling favour.




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