The Seventh Commandment
Exodus 20:14
You shall not commit adultery.

I. SOMETHING IMPLIED — that the ordinance of marriage should be observed; "let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband," "marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled." Marriage is a type and resemblance of the mystical union between Christ and His Church. Special duties belonging to marriage are love and fidelity.

1. Love. Love is the marriage of the affections.

2. Fidelity. Among the Romans, on the day of marriage, the woman presented to her husband fire and water: fire refines metal, water cleanseth; hereby signifying, that she would live with her husband in chastity and sincerity.

II. SOMETHING FORBIDDEN — the infecting ourselves with bodily pollution and uncleanness: "thou shalt not commit adultery." The fountain of this sin is lust. Since the fall, holy love is degenerated to lust. Lust is the fever of the soul. There is a twofold adultery:

1. Mental; "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." As a man may die of an inward bleeding, so he may be damned for the inward boilings of lust, if they be not mortified.

2. Corporal adultery, when sin hath conceived, and brought forth in the act.Wherein appears the heinousness of this sin of adultery?

1. In that adultery is the breach of the marriage oath.

2. The heinousness of adultery lies in this, that it is such a high dishonour done to God.

3. The heinousness of adultery lies in this, that it is committed with mature deliberation. First, there is the contriving the sin in the mind, then consent in the will, and then the sin is put forth in act. To sin against the light of nature, and to sin deliberately, is like the dye to the wool, it gives sin a tincture, and dyes it of a crimson colour.

4. That which makes adultery so heinous is, that it is a sin after remedy. God hath provided a remedy to prevent this sin; "to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife." Therefore after this remedy prescribed, to be guilty of fornication or adultery, is inexcusable; it is like a rich thief, that steals when he hath no need. It is matter of lamentation to see this Commandment so slighted and violated among us. Now, that I may deter you from adultery, let me show you the great evil of it. First, it is a thievish sin. Adultery is the highest sort of theft; the adulterer steals from his neighbour that which is more than his goods and estate, he steals away his wife from him, "who is flesh of his flesh." Secondly, adultery debaseth a person; it makes him resemble the beasts; therefore the adulterer is described like a horse neighing: "every one neighed after his neighbour's wife." Nay, this is worse than brutish; for some creatures that are void of reason, yet, by the instinct of nature, observe a kind of decorum of chastity. The turtle-dove is a chaste creature, and keeps to its mate; the stork, wherever he flies, comes into no nest but his own. Naturalists write, if a stork, leaving his own mate, joineth with any other, all the rest of the storks fall upon him and pull his feathers from him. Adultery is worse than brutish, it degrades a person of his honour. Thirdly, adultery doth pollute and befilthy a person. The body of a harlot is a walking dunghill, and her soul a lesser hell. Fourthly, adultery is destructive to the body. Uncleanness turns the body into a hospital, it wastes the radical moisture, rots the skull, eats the beauty of the face. As the flame wastes the candle, so the fire of lust consumes the bones. Fifthly, adultery is a purgatory to the purse: as it wastes the body, so the estate, by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread. Sixthly, adultery blots and eclipseth the name; "whoso committeth adultery with a woman, a wound and dishonour shall he get, and his reproach shall not be wiped away." Some while they get wounds, get honour. The soldier's wounds are full of honour; the martyr's wounds for Christ are full of honour; these get honour while they get wounds: but the adulterer gets wounds in his name, but no honour: "his reproach shall not be wiped away." Seventhly, this sin doth much eclipse the light of reason, it steals away the understanding, it stupefies the heart; "whoredom takes away the heart." It eats out all heart for good. Solomon besotted himself with women, and they enticed him to idolatry. Eighthly, this sin of adultery ushers in temporal judgments. This sin, like a scorpion, carries a sting in the tail of it. The adultery of Paris and Helena, a beautiful strumpet, ended in the ruin of Troy, and was the death both of Paris and Helena. "Jealousy is the rage of a man"; and the adulterer is oft killed in the act of his sin. Ninthly, adultery, without repentance, damns the soul. How may we abstain from this sin of adultery? I shall lay down some directions, by way of antidote, to keep you from being infected with this sin.

1. Come not into the company of a whorish woman; avoid her house, as a seaman doth a rock; "come not near the door of her house."

2. Look to yon eyes.

3. Look to your lips.

4. Look in a special manner to your heart.

5. Look to your attire. A wanton dress is a provocation to lust.

6. Take heed of evil company.

7. Beware of going to plays. A play-house is oft the preface to a whore-house.

8. Take heed of mixed dancing. Dances draw the heart to folly by wanton gestures, by unchaste touches, by lustful looks.

9. Take heed of lascivious books and pictures.

10. Take heed of excess in diet. The flesh pampered is apt to rebel.

11. Take heed of idleness. When a man is out of a calling, now he is fit to receive any temptation.

12. To avoid fornication and adultery let every man have a chaste, entire love to his own wife. It is not the having a wife, but the loving a wife makes a man live chastely. He who loves his wife, whom Solomon calls his fountain, will not go abroad to drink of muddy, poisoned waters.

13. Labour to get the fear of God into your hearts, "by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil." As the banks keep out the water, so the fear of the Lord keeps out uncleanness. Such as want the fear of God, want the bridle that should check them from sin.

14. Set a delight in the Word of God. "Let the Scriptures be my chaste delights." The reason why persons seek after unchaste, sinful pleasures is because they have no better. He that hath once tasted Christ in a promise, is ravished with delight; and how would he scorn a motion to sin!

15. If you would abstain from adultery, use serious consideration. Consider,

(1) God sees thee in the act of sin.

(2) Few that are entangled in the sin of adultery, recover out of the snare; "none that go to her return again." Soft pleasures harden the heart.

(3) Consider what the Scripture saith, that it may lay a bar in the way to this sin, "I will be a swift witness against adulterers."(4) Consider the sad farewell this sin of adultery leaves: it leaves a hell in the conscience (Proverbs 5:3, 4).

16. Pray against this sin. If the body must be kept pure from defilement, much more the soul of a Christian must be kept pure.

( T. Watson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

WEB: "You shall not commit adultery.

The Seventh Commandment
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