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Remedies against Uncleanness.

1. When a temptation of lust assaults thee, do not resist it by heaping up arguments against it and disputing with it; considering its offers and its dangers, but fly from it;106106Contra libidinis impetum apprehende fugam, si vis obtinere victoriam.—St. Aug. Nella guerra d’ armr chi fuge vince. that is, think not at all of it, lay aside all consideration concerning it, and turn away from it by any severe and laudable thought of business. Saint Jerome very wittingly reproves the Gentile superstition, who pictured the virgin-deities armed with a shield and lance, as if chastity could not be defended without war and direct contention. No; this enemy is to be treated otherwise. If you hear it speak, though but to dispute with it, it ruins you; and the very arguments you go about to answer, leave a relish upon the tongue. A man may be burned if he goes near the fire, though but to quench his house; and by handling pitch, though but to draw it from your clothes, you defile your fingers.

2. Avoid idleness, and fill up all the spaces of thy time with severs and useful employment; for lust usually creeps in at those emptinesses where the soul is unemployed, and the body is at ease. For no easy, healthful, and idle person was ever chaste, if he could be tempted. But of all employments bodily labour is most useful, and of greatest benefit for the driving away the devil.

3. Give no entertainment to the beginnings, the first motions and secret whispers of the spirit of impurity: for if you totally suppress it, it dies;107107Quisquis in primo obsitit Repulitqua amorem, tutus ac victor fuit: Qui blandiendo dulce nutrivit malum, Sero recusat ferre, quod subiit, jugum.—Senec. Hippol. 134. if you permit the furnace to breathe its smoke and flame out at any vent, it will rage to the consumption of the whole. This cockatrice is soonest crushed in the shell; but if it grows, it turns to a serpent, and a dragon, and a devil.

4. Corporal mortification, and hard usages of our body, hath, by all ages of the church, been accounted a good instrument, and of some profit against the spirit of fornication. A spare diet, and a thin course table, seldom refreshment, frequent fasts, not violent, and interrupted with returns to ordinary feeding, but constantly little, unpleasant, of wholesome but sparing nourishment: for by such cutting off the provisions of vectorial, we shall weaken the strengths of our enemy. To which if we add lyings upon the ground, painful postures in prayer, reciting our devotions with our arms extended at full length, like Moses praying against Amalek, or our blessed Saviour hanging upon his painful bed of sorrows, the cross, and (if the lust be upon us, and sharply tempting) by inflicting any smart to overthrow the strongest passion by the most violent pain, we shall find great ease for the present, and the resolution and apt sufferance against the future danger. And this was St. Paul’s remedy. ‘I bring my body under;’ he used some rudenesses towards it. But it was a great nobleness of chastity which St. Jerome reports of a son of the king of Nicomedia,108108In vita S. Pauli. who, being tempted upon flowers and a perfumed bed with a soft violence, but yet tied down to the temptation, and solicited with circumstances of Asian luxury by an impure courtesan, lest the easiness of his posture should abuse him, spit out his tongue into her face; to represent that no virtue hath cost the saints so much as this of chastity.109109Benedictus in spinis se volutavit; S. Martinianus faciem et manus. S. Johanes, cognomento Bonus, calamos acutos inter ungues et carnem digitorum intrusit. S. Theoctistus in silvia more ferarum vixit, ne inter Arabes pollueretur.

5. Fly from all occasions, temptations, loosenesses of company, balls and revellings, indecent mixtures of wanton dancings, idle talk, private society with strange women, starings upon a beauteous face, the company of women that are singers, amorous gestures, garish and wanton dresses, feasts and liberty, banquets and perfumes,110110Venus rosam amat propter fabellam, quam recitat.—Labanius. Venter mero awstuanus cito despumatur in libidines.—St Hieron. Il fuoco che non mi scalda, non voglio che mi scotti. — numquid ego a te Magno prognatam deposco consule — Velataque stola mea cum conferbuit ira?—Hobat. Serm 1.1. Sat 2. wine and strong drink, which are made to persecute chastity; some of these being the very prologues to lust, and the most innocent of them being but like condited or pickled mushrooms, which if carefully corrected and seldom tasted may be harmless, but can never do good: ever remembering, that it is easier to die for chastity than to live with it; and the hangman could not extort a consent from some persons from whom a lover would have entreated it. For the glory of chastity will easily overcome the rudeness of fear and violence; but easiness and softness and smooth temptations creep in, and, like the sun, make a maiden lay by her veil and robe, which persecution, like the northern wind, makes her hold fast and clap close about her.

6. He that will secure his chastity must first cure his pride and his rage. For oftentimes lust is the punishment of a proud man, to tame the vanity of his pride by the shame and affronts of unchastity; and the same intemperate heat that makes anger does enkindle lust.

7. If thou beest assaulted with an unclean spirit, trust not thyself alone; but run forth into company whose reverence and modesty may suppress, or whose society may divert thy thoughts: and a perpetual witness of thy conversation is of especial use against this vice, which evaporates in the open air like camphier, being impatient of light and witnesses.

8. Use frequent and earnest prayers to the King of purities, that first of virgins, the eternal God, who is of an essential purity, that he would be pleased to reprove and cast out the unclean spirit. For beside the blessings of prayer by way of reward, it hath a natural virtue to restrain this vice: because a prayer against it is an unwillingness to act it; and so long as we heartily pray against it our desires are secured, and then this devil hath no power. This was St. Paul’s other remedy: ‘For this cause I besought the Lord thrice.’ And there is much reason and much advantage in the use of this instrument; because the main thing that in this affair is to be secured is a man’s mind. He that goes about to cure lust by bodily exercises alone(as St. Paul’s phrase is) or mortifications, shall find them sometimes instrumental to it, and incitations of sudden desires, but always insufficient and of little profit: but he that hath a chaste mind shall find his body apt enough to take laws; and let it do its worst, it cannot make a sin, and in its greatest violence can but produce a little natural uneasiness, not so much trouble as a severe fasting-day, or a hard night’s lodging upon boards. If a man be hungry he must eat; and if he be thirsty he must drink in some convenient time, or else he dies; but if the body be rebellious, so the mind be chaste, let it do its worst, if you resolve perfectly not to satisfy it, you can receive no great evil by it. Therefore the proper cure is by application to the spirit and securities of the mind, which can no way so well be secured as by frequent and fervent prayers, and sober resolutions, and severe discourses. Therefore,

9. Hither bring in succor from consideration of the Divine presence and of his holy angels, mediation of death, and the passions of Christ upon the cross, imitation of his purities, and of the Virgin Mary, his unspotted and holy mother, and of such eminent saints, who, in their generations, were burning and shining lights, unmingled with such uncleannesses, which defile the soul, and who now follow the Lamb, withersoever he goes.

10. These remedies are of universal efficacy, in all cases extraordinary and violent; but in ordinary and common, the remedy which God hath provided, that is, honourable marriage,111111Danda est opera at matrimonio devincianur, quod est tutissimum juventutis vinculum.—Plut. de Educ. Lib. hath a natural efficacy, besides a virtue by Divine blessing, to cure the inconveniences which otherwise might afflict persons temperate and sober.

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