Onania; or, The heinous sin of self-pollution, and all its frightful consequences, in both sexes, considered. With spiritual and physical advice to those, who have already injur'd themselves by this abominable practice. : And seasonable admonition to the youth (of both sexes) and those whose tuition they are under, whether parents, guardians, masters, or mistresses. : To which is added, a letter from a lady (very curious) concerning the use and abuse of the marriage bed. With the author's answer thereto. : [Six lines from Genesis]
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SELF POLLUTION is that unnatural Practice, by which Persons of either Sex, may defile their own Bodies, without the Assistance of others, whilst yielding to filthy Imaginations, they endeavour to imitate and procure to themselves that Sensation, which God has order'd to attend the carnal Commerce of the two Sexes, for the continuance of our Species.

IT is almost impossible to treat of this Subject so as to be understood by the meanest Capacities, without trespassing at the same time against the Rules of De∣cency, and making Use of Words and Expressions which Modesty forbids us to utter. But as my great Aim is to promote Vertue and Christian Purity, and to discourage Vice and Uncleanness, without giving Offence to any, I shall chuse rather to be less intelli∣gible to some, and leave several things to the Consi∣deration of my Readers, than by being too plain, run the Hzard of raising in some corrupt Minds, what I would most endeavour to stfie and destroy: And that every Body, who would write profitably against any sort of Uncleanness whatever, and not do more Page  2 Harm than Good by his Endeavours, ought to be very careful and circumspect as to this Particular, we may learn from Bishop Taylor in his Rules and Exercises of Holy Living: 'Tis too plain, says that Learned Pre∣late, that there are some Spirits so Atheistical, and some so wholly possess'd with a Spirit of Un∣cleanness, that they turn the most prudent and chaste Discourses into Dirt and filthy Apprehen∣sions; like Cholerick Stomachs, changing their very Cordials and Medicines into Bitterness, and in a literal sense, turning the Grace of God into Wan∣tonness. They study Cases of Conscience (as he pro∣ceeds) in the Case of carnal Sins, not to avoid, but to learn Ways how to offend God, and pollute their own Spirits, and search their Houses with a Sun-Beam, that they may be instructed in all the Cor∣ners of Nastiness.

I am perswaded, that those who have defil'd them∣selves by this Practice already, or else by wicked Thoughts are tempted so to do, must understand what I mean by SELF-POLLUTION, as I have defin'd it, without any farther Interpretation. To them it is that I chiefly recommend these Pages, with my hearty Desire of their most serious Consideration on what is contain'd in them: And as to such who never con∣tracted this Guilt, and being perhaps of small Expe∣rience may be wholly ignorant of the Sin I would warn them against, I think them happy in their Inno∣cence; assuring them withal, that they shall meet here with nothing but what shall more and more in∣cite them to Chastity, and deter them from all man∣ner of Uncleanness.

SELF-POLLUTION we see remarkably punish'd in Onan, by a particular Stroke from Almighty God, for it is not to be thought that his Guilt lay totally in Page  3 not raising up Seed to his Deceased Brother Er, tho' we'll own that this was an aggravation of it, but the Way he took to prevent it would have been highly culpable at any other Time; and from the Words of the Text, which informs us of this Part of Sacred History, it is reasonable to imagine, that the greatest Part of the Offence lay in the act of defiling himself, rather than in the Neglect of his Duty; the thing which he Did displeased the Lord, wherefore he slew him also, Gen. 38. ver. 10. It was therefore the thing he Did, rather than the thing he omitted, which most displeas'd the Lord, as may be further seen in, Deut. Chap. 25. from ver. 5, to 10. Be that as it will, this is certain, that as it was, it prov'd so in∣tollerable a Provocation, that Almighty God could not bear with it, and therefore immediately cut him off by Reason of it.

SOME easy Casuists notwithstanding the Exem∣plary Punishment that has attended this Sin, have made slight of it, and shamefully deceiv'd those who con∣sulted them, several of them perhaps to their Ruin. Others, by being too open though severe enough, have treated this matter so grosly in the learned Lan∣guages, that it is impossible to translate any part of them, wihout offending Chastity.

THE Learned Ostervald, in his useful Treatise on Uncleanness in all its Branches, has through an excess of Modesty, pass'd over this abominable Sort of Im∣purity in Silence, or at least spoke of it in such gene∣ral Terms, blending it with lesser Trespasses of Un∣cleanness, that he has fail'd of Representing the Hei∣nousness that is in it. Having hinted at the Sins of Sodom, and spoke at large of Adultery and Forni∣cation, he adds, That, besides those, there are many Actions contrary to Modesty and Chastity, some Page  4 whereof, says he, by the Violence of the Passion, and full Consent of the Will, or by Reason of the Ma∣lignity and Infamy of the Action, almost equal the Crime to which thy tend; for some unhast Per∣sons are hurried by their Lust, to try in every thing to gratify their Brutal Passion, as far as they can conceive to do it, without committing the Fact. But here, continues he, I must be very wary, and leave to my Readers, the Trouble of considering with them∣selves, what I may not say, and apply to all the Actions of Impurity, what I may but just touch upon very briefly, and only in general Terms — And lower he says, Now forasmuch as I cannot well repeat all those Actions which are hurtful to Purity, and yet my Readers may be doubtful of some of them, and may question whether this or that be un∣lawful, I shall lay down this one general Rule in this Place, whereby these Doubts may be easily resolv'd. Let Natural Chastity and Modesty be first consul∣ted; because, provided a Habit of Wickedness has not quite extinguish'd in us the sense of Modesty, which is natural to us as Men, we shall readily discern whether an Action be unchaste or no. Next; this principle is to be attended to, that a Christian is bound to shun whatever sensualizes the Soul, whatever tends only to satisfie the Passions, and whatever is wont to excite them in us, or other.

AND again, Enquiry should be made what is necessary, or at least, what is expresly allowed. I say then, that whensoever we are asham'd of what we do, and dare not venture upon it in the sight of others, when it is only the Effect of a disorderly Passion, and aims only at indulging Sensuality, and kindling impure Desires, either in our own, or others Hearts; and when moreover it is neither ne∣cessary nor expresly allow'd, we should be sure to ab∣stain from it.

Page  5THIS is admirable Advice, and excludes not the least Act of Impurity; but there is wanting that Hor∣ror, with which the Reader ought to be fill'd against SELF POLLUTION, above other Acts of Unclean∣ness less criminal. But that this Author only forbore to pronounce his just Censure against this sort of Im∣purity in particular, for no other Reason than his be∣ing too scrupulously modest, is manifest from his own Confession, that he was forc'd to be defective in many particulars. Some Points, says he, in his Preface, should have been more enlarg'd upon; and some Ob∣jections more particularly consider'd; but this would have necessitated me to touch upn some Things, which Decency forbids. There are also divers Things, which I am obliged to express only in general Terms; others which I dare but just hint; and others again that I am forc'd totally to suppress.

THERE have been other Casuists again, who treating of this Subject, have been neither too plain, nor too remiss, but by too much Subtilty strain'd their Arguments beyond their natural Force, and done an In∣jury to Truth and good Sense, by being too Sophistical. One of these having premised, that Lusts of Unclean∣ness are committed first with ones self: Secondly with others, expresses himself in the manner following: First, says he, we will begin with those committed with ones self, which are greater in themselves (ab∣stract them from all other Circumstances) than with any other, as Self-Murder is worse than the Murder of any other; so in and of it self, this is worse than polluting of another. For the ule is, that the Sin that doth break the Order of Love most is the worst, Love being the keeping of the Commandments. I must not defile my Neighbour, because I am to love my Neighbour's Chastity, but I am to love my self, and Page  6 my own Chastity, before the Chastity of any else; and this is a foul Sin, much against Nature, and there∣fore the worse; for the more unnatural the Sin is, the greater the Guilt is still in that respect; and whereas it is thought, that there is not that wrong in it, as in taking away the Chastity of another, I urge it, that there is most Wrong when a Man doth Wrong to himself; and as the Thief doth in the Can∣dle, so these Self-Defilements do ot and weaken the Body by the Curse of God exceedingly. Besides, (as in all such inordinate Practices) there is a secret kind of Murder, what if not in the intention of the Doer, yet in the Condition of the thing done; wherefore God is much displeased with these kind of Sins.

TO all the latter Part of these Assertions I could readily agree; but in the beginning of them this Casuist hath been grosly overseen in his way of Rea∣soning. The Difference he states between the Murder of another, and that of ones self, is very just; but then he has forgot to consider, that that difference ceases, when the Murder of another necessarily includes the Murder of ones self: Thus by endeavouring to prove too much, his Argument has not proved what it might have done. At this rate, SELF-POLLUTI∣ON would be more criminal than the most unnatural Abomination with others, which is false, because it is impossible to defile others without defiling ones self at the same time in as high a Degree.

TO condemn and expose a Sin so displeasing to God, so detrimental to the Publick, and so injurious to our selves, requires no Flights of Wit, nor any other way of arguing, than what is agreeable to the plainest Truth, and can stand the Test of the severest Reason. To prove the many Injuries it may do to our selves, as it is the whole Business of the next Chapter, so I refer Page  7 the Reader to it; and that it is very detrimental to the Publick, will soon appear, if we consider what is undeniable, that it hinders Marriage, and puts a full stop to Procreation. What remains, is to demonstrate, that it is displeasing to God; and that it is so in a very high Degree, is evident both from the Holy Scripture, and our own Reason.

THERE is not a Place either in the Old or New Testament, where Uncleanness, the Lusts of the Flesh, or the Abominations of Sodom are condemn'd, but this Sin is hinted at among others; and there is no doubt, but those who are guilty of it, are compre∣hended among the Abominable, who shall have their Part in the Lake, which burneth with Fire and Brimstone, Rev. 21. v. 8. What! know ye not, says St. Paul, that your Body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which you have of God? And this is a very powerful Consideration to disswade from Uncleanness, being taken from the Glory where∣to God has rais'd us, even in regard as to our Bodies. They are the Temples of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and pours forth his Be∣nefits upon us, sanctifies us, and consecrates us to the Service of God; wherefore our Bodies partaking of this Honour, we are bound to preserve them in purity, and to employ them to holy Purposes; for if the Tem∣ples dedicated to the Worship of God, may not be prophan'd by any POLLUTION, but must be kept pure and undefiled, how great ought the Holiness of our Bodies to be, seeing God has condescended to make them the Temples of His Holy Spirit? This Reflection of St. Paul lets us see plainly, that when∣ever any give themselves over to Uncleanness, they cease to be the Temples of the Holy Spirit, just as the Apostle had said before, that they cease to Page  8 be the Members of Jesus Christ, which shews this Sin to be the Occasion that the Holy Spirit of God withdraws from the Hearts of such as are guilty of it, because his Spirit cannot dwell with POLLUTION. He tells us afterwards in the same Chapter, Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a Price, there∣fore glorifie God in your Bodies, and in your Spirits which are God's.

THE same Apostle affirms of the Heathens, that being given up to Uncleanness, they dishonoured their own Bodies between themselves. And in another Place, that it is the Will of God, that we abstain from Uncleanness. But it would be endless to quote all the Texts, which tend to the same Purpose. Let any Man examine all the Places of the New Testament, where mention is made of Vices and Sins, and he will find, there is not any one other Crime so many times named as Uncleanness; and how can a Person be more superlatively unclean, than when he is guilty of SELF-POLLUTION.

BUT if it was not reveal'd to us that God is highly offended at all manner of Uncleanness; when we reflect on the End of Marriage in all Countries, and in all Societies, and the manner after which God has ordain'd that our Species should be continu'd, na∣tural Religion, and our own Reason would in∣struct us, that to destroy that End, must be very offensive to God, if there is one; for whether we commit Abomination with those of our own Sex, as the Scripture says, Men with Men; or with Beasts; or that we defile our own Bodies our selves with this shameful Action, the Consequences are the same to the Society and our Species; and what a learned Divine has said of the first, is equally ap∣plicable Page  9 to all three, That the Crime in it self is monstrous and unnatural; in its Practice filthy and odious to Extremity; its Guilt is crying, and its Consequences ruinous; It destroys conjugal Affectin, perverts natural Inclination, and tends to extinguish the Hopes of Posterity.

FOR Fornication and Adultery it self, tho' hei∣nous Sins, we have Frailty and Nature to plead; but SELF-POLLUTION is a Sin, not only against N∣ture, but a Sin, that perverts and extinguishes Nature, and he who is guilty of it, is laouring at the De∣struction of his Kind, and in a manner strikes at the Creation it self. That this Sin, and all the Mischiefs that may attend it, are equally ruinous in either Sex, in regard to the civil Society, as well as themselves, shall be demonstrated in the following Chapter. In the Remainder of this, I shall examine into the Cau∣ses of SELF-POLLUTION, and offer some Thoughts to prevent at least the Frequency of it.

I Shall not here meddle with the Causes of Un∣cleanness in general, such as Ill-Books, Bad Compa∣nions, Love-Stories, Lascivious Discourses, and other Provocatives to Lust and Wantonness; as these are sufficiently treated of in most Books of Devotion and Practical Divinity, so I refer the Reader to them, and design only to speak of those peculiar Causes, which belong to this Sin, and hardly any other.

THE first Cause is Ignorance: There are Thou∣sands among the Youth of both Sexes Ingenious, Docile, Diligent, and Tractable, who either by the Example of their Intimates; through their own Wan∣tonness; or by being idle and alone; and some by meer Accident, have learn'd to Pollute themselves Page  10 after this manner, that would have abhorred the Thoughts, had they understood the Nature of the Sin, and been acquainted with the Heinousness of the Crime. There are likewise many adult Persons, both Men and Women, who are guilty of this Sin, and perhaps Reprobates enough to Commit any, as to Religious Fears, that would never have ventur'd upon this, if they had known what Bodily Suffrings and Infirmities it may be, and often is the Occasion of.

THE Second, is the Secrecy, with which SELF-POLLUTION may be committed: All other Actions of Uncleanness must have a Witness, this needs none. Some lustful Women of Sense, have made all the outward Shew of Virtue and Morality that can be required; they have had Prudence enough, in the midst of strong Desires, to refuse disadvantageous Matches, and yet have abandon'd themselves to this Vice, when at the same time, they would rather have died, than betray'd a Weakness to any Man living, as afterwards becoming Penitents they have confess'd themselves. And again some young Men of vicious Inclinations, have either naturally, or for want of a liberal Education, been shamefac'd to Excess; they have not dar'd to look upon a Woman, and their Bash∣fulness has secur'd them from every Act of Impurity, but This. From all which, it is evident, that the Secrecy of this Sin has betray'd many into it, whom hardly any thing else would have tempted.

THE third and last Cause I shall alledge, is Im∣punity. Tho' the Laws against Fornication and A∣dultery, are in many Places either very remiss, or ill executed, yet the Dread of them keeps the fear∣ful in Awe. The Punishment for unnatural Impuri∣ties committed with others, is Capital. But the Laws Page  11 are not the only thing which vicious Persons are afraid of. Some are with-held from Prostitutes by their Covetousness only. Others again abstain from Fornication for nothing else but the fear of Diseases, or the having of Children. Lascivious Widows, who understand the World, have reason to scruple second Marriages, on many Ac∣counts; some love their Liberty; others their Mo∣ney; and if they value their Reputation, they'll not dare to venture on unlawful Embraces; whereas in SELF-POLLUTION, neither the cautious, nor the covetous, imagine that they have any thing to fear.

IT is not easy to determine, whether it be more monstrous or unaccountable, that rather than commit a Sin before others, who would be their Accomplices, and uphold them in it, Men should chuse to be guilty of a greater before God, who has vow'd to revenge it. To say that this proceeds from Atheism, and want of Faith, is contrary to Experience, for let us take a thousand People to task, that shall have all been guilty of this or any other the most Heinous Crime, and we shall hardly find one, but what will not only acknow∣ledge a Deity, but likewise tell us, that he is con∣vinc'd of his Ubiquity and Omniscience, his Wisdom, Justice, and Omnipotence, and that he is ready to subscribe to every Article of Christianity. What can be said of this, is, that Man contradicts himself, and acts directly against his own Principle. What could be more absurd in humane Affairs, than that a Thief de∣signing to steal a Horse, should endeavour to shun the Eyes of all the World but the Owners; especially if he was fully perswaded, that this Owner could catch him whenever he would, and instict what Punishment upon him he pleas'd? What Spiritual darkness must surround Man, that should be stark blind in his great∣est Concerns, and clear sighted only in Trifles? When Page  12 a Man shews Bashfulness, and the utmost Cowardice to the most impotent Wretch of his Fellow Creatures, is it not unconceivable he should behave himself with gi∣antick Boldness and Impudence, to affront the Almigh∣ty Creator of Heaven and Earth? Yet there is one thing more contradictory still, which is, that at the same time he'll affect to be thought Brave as to Princi∣ple, and a Christian as to Religion.

IT is the general Opinion, that the Shameless are the worst of People; yet Shame when ill plac'd, has often wrought worse Effects than the Reverse alone has ever been able to produce. When a Bastard Infant is found dead, and the Mother lately deliver'd without Witness, is not able to prove either that she had made Provision for it, or during her Pregnancy, imparted the Secret to another besides the Father, our English Law, without any other Evidence, presumes the Wo∣man to have Murder'd the Child. From whence it is evident the Legislators must have suppos'd that some Women may have Cruelty enough to commit the ut∣most unnatural Murder of all, and at the same time want Courage to bear Shame: But is there no Reme∣dy to be found against this preposterous Shame? Is it impossible to imbue Youth with better Notions of it than are commonly received either by Example or Instruction?

WOMEN for the generality, are more Bashful and reserv'd than Men, and there are things that a Man of the strictest Morals shall not scruple to do in Pub∣lick, which yet would shock most Women, even after Prostitution: From hence to imagine, that Women are naturally more modest than Men, is a Mistake; all the Difference between them, depends upon Custom and Education; and I am much mistaken, if this great Power of Fashions and Instruction does not point at a Page  13 Remedy, that would be very serviceable against SELF-POLLUTION. It is a Rule I know among the most prudent People, never to mention any thing concern∣ing this Vice, to the Youth of either Sex, for fear that either the Desire after Things forbidden, or else Curiosity itself, might prompt the Pupils to what per∣haps they never might have thought on, had it not been for the too instructive Caution of the Teachers. But there are other Methods: The Instruction of Youth I hint at, should commence from their Infancy. If Children were strictly forbid, never to touch their Eyes or Nose, but with their Handkerchief, and that only upon very urgent Necessities; if likewise they saw every Body comply with this Custom, and it was counted abominable to touch them with their naked Hards, I can't see why this might not be so shocking to 'em when grown up, as now the most guilty Denuda∣tions are to well-bred People.

I Would have the Reader reflect on the Matter I treat of, which differs much from other Points of Mo∣rality; for in handling other Topicks, a Man may safely say whatever he thinks any way advantageous to his Design; and has nothing to hinder him from rallying together whatever he apprehends necessary, and proposing his Arguments in their utmost Extent and Force, making them as plain as possible, and ans∣wering all Difficulties imaginable. But in arguing a∣gainst Uncleanness, especially this sort of it, which of all, as it is the most loathsome, the same Liberty is not to be taken, but a Man is extremely confin'd, and is oblig'd to express himself with the utmost Circum∣spection and Caution, for fear of intrenching upon Modesty; which as I promis'd I would not be Guilty of doing, I shall all along with the greatest strictness observe, as knowing I should be oblig'd to name some Page  14 Things that might betray my Readers into the remem∣brance of what it is much better that they should for ever forget, as they would not then be able to set such a watchful Guard upon their Thoughts and Fan∣cies, but that some soul or filthy Desires would in Spight creep in; the least imagination only of which, would render them Odious in God's sight, who seeth the Heart, and Delights in none but those who are pure and upright there; with which Apology, hoping it will be thought sufficient for what Omissions and Obscurity I have been guilty of, I conclude this Chapter.