Avoidance of Wanton Objects

Richard Baxter writes (this is not a blanket-endorsement of Baxter, nor a promotion of him as a true Christian; like many writings, we chew the meat, and spit out the bones):

“Direct. IX. Avoid all wanton stage-plays and dancings, which either cover the odiousness of lust, or produce temptations to it. As God hath his preachers, and holy assemblies and exercises, for the communion of saints, and the stirring up of love and holiness; so these are Satan’s instruments, and assemblies, and exercises, for the communion of sinners, and for the stirring up of lust and filthiness. They that will go to the devil’s church deserve to be possessed with his principles, and numbered with his disciples. The ancient christians were very severe against the seeing of these spectacula, shows or plays; especially in any of the clergy. …

Direct. XI. Think on thy tempting object as it is within, and as it shortly will appear without. How ordinary is it for that which you call beauty to be the portion of a fool; and a fair skin to cover a silly, childish, peevish mind, and a soul that is enslaved to the devil. And as Solomon saith, Prov. xi. 22, ‘As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman without discretion.’ And will you lust after such an adorned thing? Think also what a dunghill of filth is covered with those ornaments; that it would turn thy stomach if thou sawest what is within them. And think what a face that would be, if it were but covered with the pox; and what a face it will be when sickness or age hath consumed or wrinkled it; and think what thy admired carcass will be, when it hath lain a few days in the grave: then thou wouldst have little mind of it; and how quickly will that be! O man, there is nothing truly amiable in the creature, but the image of God; the wisdom, and holiness, and righteousness of the soul. Love this then, if thou wilt love with wisdom, with purity and safety; for the love of purity is pure and safe.”