Of Chastity and its Branches

From James Ussher’s A Body Of Divinity: Being the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion (not a blanket-endorsement of James Ussher):

“‘How is the wantonness of the heart manifested by the countenance, gestures, and carriage of the body?’

  1. By impudency or lightness in countenance, gesture, or behavior (Proverbs 6:13 and 7:10).

2. By wanton looks: when the eye (which is the seat of adultery, or of chastity) is suffered to wander without regard; and either giveth occasion to others to commit adultery, or is so fixed to behold the beauty of another, or else lascivious and wicked pictures (wherein many set their delight) and the like things, that the heart is inflamed to lust, and allured to filthiness thereby (2 Peter 2:14; Matthew 5:28; Genesis 39:7; Job 31:1; Ezekiel 23:14).

3. By uncovering of the nakedness of the breasts, and other parts of the body, for the allurement of others. …

4. By painting the face, and counterfeiting the complexion: as wicked Jezebel did, who was afterwards (by the just judgement of God) eaten up of dogs.

5. By mincing and tinkling with the feet; by wanton dancing of men and women together, (which is a great enticement to this lust) and all other lascivious motions (Isaiah 3:16; Mark 6:22).

6. By dalliance; and abuse of any parts of the body to the provocation of others unto lust, or suffering them to wander in wantonness.

What be the contrary virtues here commanded?’

Chastity in the eyes, countenance, and all the parts of the body; modesty, and gravity in behavior (Titus 2:2-3); that we make a covenant with our eyes (Job 31:1) and pray that the Lord would turn them away from seeing vanity (Psalm 119:37). Finally, that we so carry and direct all the members of the body, as that they be not weapons of uncleanness (Romans 6:13, 19).

How is this commandment broken by evil words?’

1. By vain and wanton speeches, corrupt, and rotten communication whereby not only the speaker’s heart, but also the hearts of the hearers are inflamed (Ephesians 4:29, 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 15:33).

2. By giving ear to filthy words, and taking delight in hearing unhonest things; although (for our credit) we will not speak them (1 Corinthians 15:33).

3. By making of love epistles, amorous books, lewd songs and ballads, and such like.

4. By reading or hearing of wanton poems, naughty songs, and bad books; and much more by learning of them whereby the memory is cloyed, and so better things kept forth.

What is contrary to this?’

Chastity in tongue and ears: speech favoring of sobriety and grace, modest and chaste talk (1 Thessalonians 4:23). Where we are to follow the example of the Holy Spirit, who speaking (by necessity) of matters unseemly to be spoken plainly of, useth chaste speech: as, ‘he knew her,’ ‘he covered his feet,’ (1 Samuel 1:19; Judges 3:24).”

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