Jeremy Taylor’s “Rules and Exercises of Holy Living,” 1650

Jeremy Taylor

Rules for Married Persons, or Matrimonial Chastity:

“In their permissions and licence, they must be sure to observe the order of nature and the ends of God. He is an ill husband that uses his wife as a man treats a harlot, having no other end but pleasure… Married persons must keep such modesty and decency of treating each other that they never force themselves into high and violent lusts with arts and misbecoming devices; always remembering that those mixtures are most innocent which are most simple and most natural, most orderly and most safe… And it is a sad truth that many married persons, thinking that the floodgates of liberty are set wide open, without measures or restraints (so they sail in the channel), have felt the final rewards of intemperance and lust by their unlawful using of lawful permissions. Only let each of them be temperate, and both of them be modest. Socrates was wont to say that those women to whom nature hath not been indulgent in good features and colours should make it up themselves with excellent manners, and those who were beautiful and comely should be careful so that a fair body be not polluted with unhandsome urges. To which Plutarch adds, that a wife, if she be unhandsome, should consider how extremely ugly she should be if she wanted modesty; but if she be handsome, let her think how gracious that beauty would be if she superadds chastity.”

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