Deuteronomy 5:18

We prefer the arrangement which regards the fifth commandment as the last of the first table - honor to parents being viewed as honor to God in his human representatives.

I. PARENTS STAND TO THEIR CHILDREN IN THE RELATION OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE DIVINE. They represent God as the source of their offspring's life; they have a share of God's authority, and ought to exercise it; but much more ought they to represent God to their children in his unwearied beneficence, his tender care, his exalted rectitude, his forgiving love. With what intelligence or comfort can a child be taught to think of a Father in heaven, if its earthly parent is wanting in dignity, kindness, truthfulness, or integrity? How many fathers are thus spoiling for their children their whole conceptions of God! And with what anxiety and care should earthly parents study to leave such an impression on their children's minds as will make the idea of God delightful and consolatory to them, while inspiring them towards him with proper feelings of reverence!

II. PARENTS ON THIS ACCOUNT ARE TO BE HONORED BY THEIR CHILDREN. They are to be regarded with affection, treated with respect and deference, promptly and cheerfully obeyed, and, where needful, liberally supported (Matthew 15:4-7; 1 Timothy 5:8). Even the failure of parents to do all their duty to their children does not exonerate the children from the obligation of treating them with respect. Young people need to be reminded that failure in this duty is peculiarly offensive to God. We are told that when Tiyo Soga visited this country, a particular thing which astonished him was the deficiency in respect for parents compared with the obedience which prevailed in the wilds of Kaffraria.

III. THE HONORING OF PARENTS HAS ATTACHED TO IT A PECULIAR PROMISE. Length of days and prosperity. The promise is primarily national, but it has fulfillments in individuals.

1. A special blessing rests on the man who shows his parents due respect. That has often been remarked.

2. There is also a natural connection between the virtue and the promise. Respect for parents is the root at once of reverence for God and of respect for the rights of others. Hence the place of the commandment in the Decalogue. It engenders self-respect, and forms the will to habits of obedience. It is favorable to the stability, good order, and general morals of society. It therefore conduces to health, longevity, and a diffusion of the comforts of life, furnishing alike the outward and the inward conditions necessary for success. - J.O.

Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
The original word which our translators restrain to committing adultery is of a large signification, and comprises all kinds of uncleanness and lewdness. So that all unlawful lust and carnal pleasure is here forbidden, and we are enjoined to preserve chastity in every kind and degree. I begin with the sins forbidden.

1. Polygamy, or having more wives and husbands than one at one time, is here condemned; for this is contrary to the primitive institution and law in Genesis 2:24.

2. Divorce, as we learn from our Saviour's interpretation of this commandment in Matthew 5:31, 32.

3. Incest, that is, lewdness committed with those that are our near kindred. That we may particularly know who these are, they are set down distinctly in Leviticus 18:4. Fornication, which is the defiling of an unmarried woman.

5. Adultery is a direct sin against this commandment, and is the particular kind of uncleanness which is expressly named in it. This sin is extremely heinous, because there is not only an injury done to the woman, by setting her into a course of unfaithfulness and even downright perjury, and thereby hazarding the salvation of her soul, but to the man also in whom she is concerned, by robbing him of the incommunicable right he hath in his wife. This proves it to be the highest injustice; and it might be added that this injury admits of no reparation. On which score perhaps death was inflicted on the adulterer by the Mosaic law (Leviticus 20:10). And other lawgivers, even among the Pagans, punished this notorious offence with the loss of life. There are other lewd practices forbidden by this commandment, among which rape, or ravishing of a woman, is one. Here is forbidden voluntary self-pollution, or persons committing folly alone on their bodies. For which kind of disorder Onan was punished by the hand of God: the Lord slew him (Genesis 38:10). Here is likewise forbidden all immoderate use of carnal pleasure. And lastly, here is condemned all unnatural lust, as sodomy and bestiality, which are both mentioned together, and branded with the titles of abomination and confusion in Leviticus 18:22, 23. Thus far I have spoken of the actual sins of uncleanness which are comprehended in this commandment.

1. This commandment strikes at all unclean thoughts and desires. Our Saviour acquaints us that there is the adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:28). Namely, when the thoughts and inward inclinations of the mind are corrupted, and are a preparative to outward defilements.

2. There is the adultery of the eye, which we learn from the Saviour's exposition of this commandment (Matthew 5:28), where looking on a woman to lust after her, because the heart or mind which gives denomination to all moral actions is engaged here; and this it is which diffuses the defilement into the outward senses.

3. There is the adultery and uncleanness of the tongue; for if wanton looks are adulterous, then obscene words are of the same nature. Wherefore the apostle commands the Colossian Christians to put away filthy communication out of their mouths (Colossians 3:8). As he had before left this prohibition with the Ephesians, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth" (Ephesians 4:29). And again, the very mentioning of lewd things is forbid (Ephesians 5:3, 4, 12).

4. Next, there is the adultery of the ear, that is, listening to such kind of discourse as is filthy, delighting to be entertained with lascivious talk, with obscene songs, and unchaste poems, with which this age abounds.

5. And so it doth that of lascivious gestures, and whatsoever tends to the promoting of lust — as lascivious dresses, and all manner of enticements to unchaste practices. I will in the next place propound the reasons and arguments which we are to make use of against it. And some of these are proper to Christianity; that is, they were never used by heathen moralists, but are to be found only in the apostolical writings; as those three which we meet with together in 1 Corinthians 6:6, 15, 18-20. Then again, there are arguments against this sinful practice, taken from the spiritual, the temporal, and the eternal evil which attends it. Thus I have been all this time in pursuit of the negative part of this commandment. I proceed now to the affirmative, which is the plain reverse of what hath been said, and may be comprised in few words. We are enjoined here to be chaste and pure in our minds. We are enjoined likewise to preserve our bodies pure, and all parts of them, the tongue, the eye, the countenance, the ear, and all the avenues or organs of bodily sense of perception. We are to take care that our deportment be modest and grave, and so well regulated and ordered that we discover nothing of wantonness. Moreover, this commandment requires that we use all the means and helps which are useful in order to the preservation of our chastity, and the preventing of uncleanness. Sobriety and temperance in eating and drinking. Avoiding occasions of provocation to lascivious thoughts or actions. Diligence in the calling which Providence has placed us in. Solemn resolutions and vows. A deep sense and great dread of the Almighty, and of His judgments. All these particulars contain in them the most sovereign remedies against lust, and helps to the exerting of the contrary virtue. But there is one yet behind, and that is this: in order to chastity and purity lead a conjugal life.

( J. Edwards, D. D..)

I. THE COMMAND. The command is a simple, unqualified, irrevocable negative. "Thou shalt not!" No argument is used, no reason given, because none is required. The sin is of so destructive and damning a nature that it is in itself sufficient cause for the stern forbidding.

1. It is a sin against the individual. This needs no proof. Nature visits the sin with the heaviest penalties in every department of the complex being of man. The terrible results of unchaste life in the purely physical realm are such as cannot be named here. Every man of science will bear his testimony to the awful demand that nature makes for purity, and will assert that she has no pity for the unclean.

2. It is a sin against the family. The sacredness of motherhood and childhood, and the demands they make upon the care and thought of all, are secured and met in the Divine institution of marriage. Wherever the rights of the marriage relationship are violated and set aside, God's provision for both is broken down, and the disastrous result of the breakdown of the family circle and entity results. When the family is destroyed as a perfect whole by the sin of unchastity, an incalculable harm is done to the children. There is no more. heart-breaking announcement in the newspapers than that which declares that in the granting of a decree nisi, the charge of the children has been given to one parent. Therein lies the destruction of the family after the Divine pattern, and the sin that leads to it is indeed terrible for this reason also.

3. It is a sin against society. Society is a union of families. Every attempt to create society upon any other basis is wicked, and ends in disaster. The sin which blights the marriage relation and destroys the family is the enemy of all true socialism. All the things that may be had in common can only so be shared, as it is forever understood that communism in the realm of sex is the most damnable sin against the commonwealth.

4. It is a sin against the nation. The greatness of a people depends upon the purity and strength of the people, and in every nation where the marriage relation is violated with impunity the virus of death is surely and certainly at work.

5. It is a sin against the race. No man can deny his accountability for a share in the development or destruction of the race. The solidarity of humanity is more than a dream of visionaries. It is an indisputable fact. Every life is contributing its quota of force to the forces that make or mar. All are hindering or hastening the perfect day. The crime of prolonging sorrow and agony lies at the door of every impure human being.

6. It is a sin against the universe. The life of the universe is love. The origin of all is love, for "God is love." The propagation of all is love. From the highest form, that of the unity of the marriage relation, through all the lower spaces of action, love is the law of growth. The lair of the wild beast is fiercely guarded by the love that holds it sacred. The nesting of the birds is token of the impulse of the love life that throbs through all creation. The bee that carries the pollen from flower to flower is the messenger of the same instinct. Love is everywhere. The sin of lustful unchastity is the violation of love, blighting and destroying it.

7. It is a sin against God. (Revelation 21:8.)

II. APPLICATION OF THE COMMAND TODAY. There are certain signs of the times which point to the necessity for a re-statement of this commandment. The first of these is the tendency, which is only too apparent, to loosen the binding nature of the marriage tie. There seems to be an increasingly popular notion that the marriage relation is a civil one only. This is a vital error. It is wholly Divine. Another sign of the times in this direction is the filthy fiction which has polluted the realm of literature in recent years, fiction in which the marriage relation is treated with amused pity, and whoremongers and adulterers are pitied and excused, if not defended. Then, again, is there not a growing danger of ministering to impurity in the multiplication on every hand of callings for women which throw them among men and give them wages which are insufficient? Then holy one would thank God if some word that was not prudish or narrow might be spoken to the women of this country about their dress. The half dress of the society woman is surely a sign of reversion to type, and has in it the pandering to animalism which has for ages been the curse of the marriage relation. And yet once more. There is an anomaly that dies hard in the distinction that is being made between the guilt of man and woman in this matter of unchastity. When General Booth issued that remarkable book, Darkest England, he said, in defence of his using the word "fornication," "Why not say prostitution? For this reason: prostitution is a word applied to one half of the vice, and that the most pitiable. Fornication hits both sinners alike." The importance of that statement cannot be over-estimated. Until the man who sins is branded with as deep a scar as is the woman, that public opinion which shields him is guilty of complicity with this vice which is deadly and damning.

III. THE CHRISTIAN ETHIC. After all that has been said, there yet remains the most searching, withering words of all to repeat. They fell from the lips of the Incarnate Purity in that manifesto of His kingdom which He gave to His disciples during the days of His sojourn on the earth "I say unto you, that everyone that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart, etc. (Matthew 5:28-32.)

(G. Campbell Morgan.)

As we are men, and so the one part of our composition is body, we have all animal appetites in common with other sensitive creatures; hunger, thirst, and the like, are common to us with all the animal world. But then, seeing we are reasonable beings also, and should be religious, God will have these animal appetites kept in due subjection, and directed according to the measures He has prescribed for that purpose: that is to say, no animal appetite must be allowed to usurp a place that does not belong to it, but must be kept within such bounds, and ordered by such rules as God hath set it. And so it is regarding that animal appetite more specially designed in this commandment.

I. It requires us to be CHASTE.

1. Inward chastity is keeping the heart for God, not suffering it to be defiled by any unchaste and filthy delights.

2. Chastity is also outward, expressive of that purity of heart which lodges within.

II. TEMPERANCE is the other duty required by this commandment. By temperance is meant a holy moderation concerning meat, drink, sleep, and relaxation.

1. Intemperance is prohibited for its own sake.

2. Intemperance is not only prohibited as it is sinful in itself, but also as it gives occasion to and nourishes lust. And this a life of indolence does: it is the very food of lust (Ezekiel 16:49, 50; Jeremiah 5:7, 8). Thus what made the Sodomites so wanton but fulness of bread? What made Lot commit such dreadful incest with his own daughters but drunkenness? (Genesis 19:31-36.) Or what filled David, or his son Amnon after him, with so much lust but a fit of sloth and idleness? (2 Samuel 11:2; 2 Samuel 13:1-14.) "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection," saith St. Paul (1 Corinthians 9:27).Well, and how did he do this?

1. Be moderate in the use of meats and drinks, and, as need is, give yourselves to fasting and abstinence.

2. Be diligent in your calling. Labour keeps the mind employed, and the body under; whereas sloth both genders lust and gives it opportunity.

3. We must be aware of the recreations we use, and how we use them.

(S. Walker, B. A.)

I. THE AGGRAVATIONS, MORE ESPECIALLY, OF THE SINS OF FORNICATION AND ADULTERY; which may also with just reason be applied to all other unnatural lusts.

1. They are opposite to sanctification, even as darkness is to light, hell to heaven.

2. These sins are inconsistent with that relation we pretend to stand in to Christ as members of His Body, inasmuch as we join ourselves in a confederacy with His profligate enemies.

3. They bring with them many other sins, as they tend to vitiate the affections, deprave the mind, defile the conscience, and provoke God to give persons up to spiritual judgments, which will end in their running into all excess of riot.

II. THE OCCASIONS OF THESE SINS, to be avoided by those who would not break this commandment; and these are —

1. Intemperance, or excess in eating or drinking (Genesis 19:31).

2. Idleness, consisting either in the neglect of business, or indulging to much sleep, which occasions many temptations (2 Samuel 11. I, 2).

3. Pride in apparel, or other ornaments, beyond the bounds of modesty (Isaiah 3:16, etc.; 2 Peter 2:7, 8).

4. Keeping evil company (Proverbs 6:27, 32).

III. As for THE REMEDIES AGAINST IT, these are: as exercising a constant watchfulness against all temptations thereunto; avoiding all conversation with those men or books which tend to corrupt the mind, and fill it with levity, under a pretence of improving it; but more especially a retaining a constant sense of God's all-seeing eye, His infinite probity and vindictive justice (Genesis 39:9).

(Thomas Ridglet, D. D.)

In the Sixth Commandment God takes under His protection the body and life of man. But a man should also love his wife as himself, etc. (Ephesians 5). Here, then, God takes the married spouse under His protecting care, and honours marriage; and as the enemy of souls calls up some passion which militates against each of these commands, against this he sends the serpent of the lust of the flesh which creeps softly into men's hearts. More, he turns the breaking of this command into a jest — a jest likely to end where the laughter is turned into "weeping and gnashing of teeth." Consider —


1. Those in our day who desire to overturn the Divine order of things begin by attacking Christian marriage. Their aim is so clearly evidenced that none can mistake it. But there are others, even in the Christian Church, who, knowingly or not, support this outrage by seeking to make marriage an entirely civil contract. God forces His blessings on none; but Christians will not consider this a proper view of marriage. They will regard it as a Divine order (Genesis 2:18), ill which man and wife are bound in Him in love and faithfulness till death shall separate them.

2. Marriage is to be regarded as an holy estate, and blessed. The children of parents who thus think of marriage will rise and call them blessed, whilst men shrink from the adulterers as promise breakers, perjurers, faithless; and if anyone thinks there is not much in an adulterous act, if it be not known, he or she acts like a heathen and despises this Divine order.

3. It sometimes happens that where a time of wickedness in a nation has been followed by a period of punishment it is found that the downward course was begun by a disregard of the honour of marriage, e.g., the Greek and Roman people, and France before the Revolution. Where marriage is no more honoured judgment is near at hand. Then unchastity becomes shameless; the number of children born out of wedlock increases; sin, shame, disorder, etc., prevail, and judgment at last descends (Hebrews 13:4).


1. Our forefathers said three things were necessary — to begin well, continue well, end well. How shall we begin well? The proverb says, "Marriages are made in heaven"; and certainly to begin well we must begin with God. What Eliezer of Damascus did for his master's son we must each do ourselves — begin with God. If we do not, then there is little wonder if the proverb comes true, "Marry in haste, repent at leisure." Begin with the wise counsel of Christian parents also.

2. How shall men best continue in this state? Let each love and honour his (or her) partner in life (Ephesians 5:28, 29). In this relationship we need to have wisdom, self-denial, patience, forbearance, submission; but all these are comprehended in love. But each must also honour the other. Where such honour is there will be love — as Christ loved the Church.

3. How shall men end the married state best? When they say, "We shall continue it in God until He shall end it in death." There is a way by which marriage can be dissolved before death — the only way — through adultery. This really disannuls marriage in the very fact; and even if it be hidden, God Himself will take it in hand (Hebrews 13:4). Many an adulteress or adulterer goes abroad with bold forehead and bids defiance to the world. But Scripture simply places them with the godless, thieves, etc., and says such shall not inherit the kingdom of God.


1. We must fear and love God, so that we may live virtuously and chastely in word and deed. Remember that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. Young men and women should seek to enter this state in an unblemished manhood and womanhood. Avoid unchaste thoughts, words, looks, unchaste songs or jests, etc. The heart and thoughts should be clean. "Blessed are the pure in heart."

2. "There are two things unheard of in the world," said a famous pious man, "unrewarded virtue and unpunished vice." Young men and maidens, flee occasions to vice. "Where wine goes in shame goes out," etc. Avoid evil companionship. "Better alone than in bad company." Opportunity makes thieves; so, too, it makes adulterers. Avoid those whose tongues are unchaste. Often a word is like a spark to powder. "If a worm is at the heart the tree will fall." Do not be ashamed of shamefacedness. "If you blush it is God warning you." "Shame prevents disgrace." Flee from idleness. It is a root of much evil. Guard your youth. Virtue and a good name are a rich dowry to which God will add much interest.

(K. H. Caspari.)

When I look, he said, at the iniquities which abound in the present day in our cities, I feel the time has come to cry aloud and spare not. If it be necessary for men to live in adultery, and if they must go to the house of the harlot, I don't know a quicker way down to hell than that is. Any man who can give up his virtue, and turn away from a home of purity, and stoop so low as to go the way of the strange woman, his ruin will be sure and very quick. How many a young man who follows her path goes down quicker than that! He must have money, and he soon begins by robbing his employer, as one crime leads to another, and at last his conscience becomes so seared that he tries to make it out to be a necessity. But does God make a mistake when He says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," and excuse you because you cannot control your passions? It may be that you ruin some man's daughter or wife: then some man will probably ruin yours by and by. There was one place in America where I touched upon this sin; and a man of violent temper said if his wife had been there she would have slapped me in the face. But within a week it transpired that he was actually living with the wife of another. Oh, adulterer! what will you do when God shall bring you into judgment? The sins committed in darkness and in secret He will bring unto light. Do not, therefore, believe that God will not bring you into judgment, for it is only a question of weeks or months, or at most a few short years.

(D. L. Moody.)

Christian Herald.
There has recently died in the South of England a captain who in years past was engaged in watching the coast of Africa in order to the stoppage of the slave trade. He had been successful in capturing several cargoes of slaves., These, consisting largely of young African girls, were taken on board the captain's vessel. For liberty! Yes; so it was heralded to the world — but according to the commander's own confession, for "shameful treatment in his cabin." A gentleman well known thus describes the captain's confession at the close of his shameful life: "I am afraid to be alone at night. The faces of those black girls, with their eyes of fire and shrieks of despair, fill my room and my vision. And in this miserable state he died. Who need affect surprise that there is a hell to localise such monsters in? These awful confessions were made in the vain attempt to alleviate the fearful agony of a conscience whose torment anticipated the coming judgment before the bar of Christ.

(Christian Herald.)

Of late years, I am afraid, there has been a distinct retrogression in the conscience of the nation, so far as national purity is concerned. For example, some of the novels published today deal largely, if not entirely, with subjects of which no pure-minded man or woman ever speaks. Not long ago a certain novel was issued from the press that was as poisonous in its effects on the soul as sewer gas is on the body. It was one of those books, as Mr. Lowell once said, which if read make you feel that you need to be sprinkled with some disinfecting fluid in order to get rid of the infection. Some years ago a distinguished public man said that when he was a boy at one of our public schools he had put into his hand by an evil companion a bad book, and that for years after reading it lie could not get rid of the stain it had left on his mind. It is impossible to exaggerate the evil done by such an unclean publication. "Art for art's sake" is their watchword, and the result of this debased conception is works which are not literature and not art, which smell of the sewer, and are only fit to be burned. The man who writes a book that incites to impure thought is on the same moral level as the man who makes adultery easy. It tends by a swift and easy path to the violation of this Seventh Commandment.

(G. S. Barrett, D. D.)

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