Thomas Watson on Adultery

That I may deter you from adultery, let me show you the great evil of it.

(1) It is a thievish sin. It 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.

(2) Adultery debases 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.’ Jer 5: 8. Nay, it is worse than brutish; for some creatures that are void of reason, yet by the instinct of nature, observe some decorum and chastity. The turtle dove is a chaste creature, and keeps to its mate; and the stork, wherever he flies, comes into no nest but his own. Naturalists write that if a stork, leaving his own mate, joins with any other, all the rest of the storks fall upon it, and pull its feathers from it. Adultery is worse than brutish, it degrades a person of his honour.

(3) Adultery pollutes. The devil is called an unclean spirit. Luke 11: 24. The adulterer is the devil’s first-born; he is unclean; he is a moving quagmire; he is all over ulcerated with sin; his eyes sparkle with lust; his mouth foams out filth; his heart burns like mount Etna, in unclean desires; and he is so filthy, that if he die in this sin, all the flames of hell will never purge away his uncleanness. And, as for the adulteress, who can paint her black enough? The Scriptures calls her a deep ditch. Prov 23: 27. She is a common drain; whereas a believer’s body is a living temple, and his soul a little heaven, be spangled with the graces, as so many stars. The body of a harlot is a walking dung hill, and her soul a lesser hell.

(4) Adultery is destructive to the body. ‘And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed.’ Prov 5: 11. It brings into a consumption. Uncleanness turns the body into a hospital, it wastes the radical moisture, rots the skull, and eats the beauty of the face. As the flame wastes the candle, so the fire of lust consumes the bones. The adulterer hastens his own death. ‘Till a dart strike through his liver.’ Prov 7: 23. The Romans had their funerals at the gate of Venus’s temple, to signify that lust brings death. Venus is lust.

(5.) Adultery is a drain upon the purse; it wastes not the body only, but the estate. ‘By means of a whorish woman, a man is brought to a piece of bread.’ Prov 6: 26. Whores are the devil’s horse-leeches, sponges that suck in money. The prodigal son spent his portion when he fell among harlots. Luke 15: 30. The concubine of King Edward III, when he was dying, got all she could from him, and even plucked the rings off his fingers, and so left him. He that lives in luxury, dies in beggary.

(6) Adultery destroys reputation. ‘Whoso committeth adultery with a woman, a wound and dishonour shall he get, and his reproach shall not be wiped away.’ Prov 6: 32, 33. Some, when they get wounds, get honour. The soldier’s wounds are full of honour; the martyr’s wounds for Christ are full of honour; but the adulterer gets wounds, but no honour to his name. ‘His reproach shall not be wiped away.’ Wounds of reputation no physician can heal. When the adulterer dies, his shame lives. When his body rots underground, his name rots above ground. His base-born children are living monuments of his shame.

(7) This sin impairs the mind; it steals away the understanding; it stupefies the heart. ‘Whoredom and wine take away the heart.’ Hos 4: 11. It cats out all heart for good. Solomon besotted himself with women, and they enticed him to idolatry.

(8) This sin incurs temporal judgements. The Mosaic law made adultery death. ‘The adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to death;’ and the usual death was stoning. Lev 20: 10; Deut 22: 24. The Salons commanded persons taken in this sin to be burnt. The Romans caused their heads to be stricken off. Like a scorpion, this sin carries a sting in its tail. The adultery of Paris and Helen was the death of both, and the ruin of Troy. ‘Jealousy is the rage of a man.’ Prov 6: 34. The adulterer is often killed in the act of his sin. Adultery cost Otho the emperor, and Pope Sixtus IV their lives. Laeta venire Venus, tristis abire solet [Lust’s practice is to make a joyful entrance, but she leaves in misery]. I have read of two citizens in London, in 1583, who, having defiled themselves with adultery on the Lord’s-day, were immediately struck dead with fire from heaven. If all who are now guilty of this sin were to be punished in this manner, it would rain fire again, as on Sodom.

(9) Adultery, without repentance, damns the soul. ‘Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, shall enter into the kingdom of God.’ I Cor 6: 9. The fire of lust brings to the fire of hell. ‘Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.’ Heb 13: 4. Though men may neglect to judge them, yet God will judge them. But will not God judge all other sinners? Yes. Why then does the apostle say, ‘Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge’? The meaning is, he will judge them assuredly; they shall not escape the hand of justice; and he will punish them severely. ‘The Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust to the day of judgement to be punished, but chiefly them that walk in the lust of uncleanness.’ 2 Pet 2: 9, 10. The harlot’s breast keeps from Abraham’s bosom. Momentaneum est quod delectat, auternum quod cruciat [The delight lasts a moment, the torment an eternity]. Who for a cup of pleasure would drink a sea of wrath? ‘Her guests are in the depths of hell.’ Prov 9: 18. A wise traveller, though many pleasant dishes are set before him at the inn, forbears to taste, because of the reckoning. We are all travellers to Jerusalem above; and when many baits of temptation are set before us, we should refrain, and think of the reckoning which will be brought in at death. With what stomach could Dionysius eat his dainties, when he imagined there was a naked sword hung over his head as he sat at meat? While the adulterer feeds on strange flesh, the sword of God’s justice hangs over his head. Causinus speaks of a tree growing in Spain, that is of a sweet smell, and pleasant to the taste, but the juice of it is poisonous. This is an emblem of a harlot; who is perfumed with powders, and fair to look on, but poisonous and damnable to the soul. ‘She has cast down many wounded, yea, many strong men have been slain by her.’ Prov 7: 26.

(10) The adulterer not only wrongs his own soul, but does what in him lies to destroy the soul of another, and so kills two at once. He is worse than the thief; for, suppose a thief robs a man, yea, takes away his life, the man’s soul may be happy; he may go to heaven as well as if he had died in his bed. But he who commits adultery, endangers the soul of another, and deprives her of salvation so far as in him lies. Now, what a fearful thing is it to be an instrument to draw another to hell!

(11) The adulterer is abhorred of God. ‘The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein.’ Prov 22: 14. What can be worse than to be abhorred of God? God may be angry with his own children; but for God to abhor a man, is the highest degree of hatred.

How does the Lord show his abhorrence of the adulterer?
In giving him up to a reprobate mind, and a seared conscience. Rom 1: 28. He is then in such a condition that he cannot repent. He is abhorred of God. He stands upon the threshold of hell; and when death gives him a push, he tumbles in. All this should sound a retreat in our ears, and call us off from the pursuit of so damnable a sin as uncleanness. Hear what the Scriptures say: ‘Come not nigh the door of her house.’ Prov 5: 8. ‘Her house is the way to hell.’ Prov 7: 27.

(12) Adultery sows discord. It destroys peace and love, the two best flowers that grow in a family. It sets husband against wife, and wife against husband; and so causes the ‘joints of the same body to smite one against another.’ This division in a family works confusion; for ‘A house divided against a house falleth.’ Luke 11: 17. Omne divisibile est corruptibile.

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    • Dan Richardson
    • December 7th, 2007

    Thanks for putting this one up Jon. Gives me more reason to RUN!

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