Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Handmaids of the living God, my fellow-servants and sisters, the right which I enjoy with you-I, the most meanest1 in that right of fellow-servantship and brotherhood-emboldens me to address to you a discourse, not, of course, of affection, but paving the way for affection in the cause of your salvation. That salvation-and not (the salvation) of women only, but likewise of men-consists in the exhibition principally of modesty. For since, by the introduction into an appropriation2 (in) us of the Holy Spirit, we are all" the temple of God,"3 Modesty is the sacristan and priestess of that temple, who is to suffer nothing unclean or profane to be introduced (into it), for fear that the God who inhabits it should be offended, and quite forsake the polluted abode. But on the present occasion we (are to speak) not about modesty, for the enjoining and exacting of which the divine precepts which press (upon us) on every side are sufficient; but about the matters which pertain to it, that is, the manner in which it behoves you to walk. For most women (which very thing I trust God may permit me, with a view, of course, to my own personal censure, to censure in all), either from simple ignorance or else from dissimulation, have the hardihood so to walk as if modesty consisted only4 in the (bare) integrity of the flesh, and in turning away from (actual) fornication; and there were no need for anything extrinsic to boot-in the matter (I mean) of the arrangement of dress and ornament,5 the studied graces of form and brilliance:-wearing in their gait the self-same appearance as the women of the nations, from whom the sense of true modesty is absent, because in those who know not God, the Guardian and Master of truth, there is nothing true.6 For if any modesty can be believed (to exist) in Gentiles, it is plain that it must be imperfect and undisciplined to such a degree that, although it be actively tenacious of itself in the mind up to a certain point, it yet allows itself to relax into licentious extravagances of attire; just in accordance with Gentile perversity, in craving after that of which it carefully shuns the effect.7 How many a one, in short, is there who does not earnestly desire even to look pleasing to strangers? who does not on that very account take care to have herself painted out, and denies that she has (ever) been an object of (carnal) appetite? And yet, granting that even this is a practice familiar to Gentile modesty-(namely, ) not actually to commit the sin, but still to be willing to do so; or even not to be willing, yet still not quite to refuse-what wonder? for all things which are not God's are perverse. Let those women therefore look to it, who, by not holding fast the whole good, easily mingle with evil even what they do hold fast. Necessary it is that you turn aside from them, as in all other things, so also in your gait; since you ought to be "perfect, as (is) your Father who is in the heavens."8
Chapter II.-Perfect Modesty Will Abstain from Whatever Tends to Sin, as Well as from Sin Itself. Difference Between Trust and Presumption. If Secure Ourselves, We Must Not Put Temptation in the Way of Others. We Must Love Our Neighbour as Ourself.
You must know that in the eye of perfect, that is, Christian, modesty, (carnal) desire of one's self (on the part of others) is not only not to be desired, but even execrated, by you: first, because the study of making personal grace (which we know to be naturally the inviter of lust) a mean of pleasing does not spring from a sound conscience: why therefore excite toward yourself that evil (passion)? why invite (that) to which you profess yourself a stranger? secondly, because we ought not to open a way to temptations, which, by their instancy, sometimes achieve (a wickedness) which God expels from them who are His; (or, ) at all events, put the spirit into a thorough tumult by (presenting) a stumbling-block (to it). We ought indeed to walk so holily, and with so entire substantiality9 of faith, as to be confident and secure in regard of our own conscience, desiring that that (gift) may abide in us to the end, yet not presuming (that it will). For he who presumes feels less apprehension; he who feels less apprehension takes less precaution; he who takes less precaution runs more risk. Fear10 is the foundation of salvation; presumption is an impediment to fear. More useful, then, is it to apprehend that we may possibly fail, than to presume that we cannot; for apprehending will lead us to fear, fearing to caution, and caution to salvation. On the other hand, if we presume, there will be neither fear nor caution to save us. He who acts securely, and not at the same time warily, possesses no safe and firm security; whereas he who is wary will be truly able to be secure. For His own servants, may the Lord by His mercy take care that to them it may be lawful even to presume on His goodness! But why are we a (source of) danger to our neighbour? why do we import concupiscence into our neighbour? which concupiscence, if God, in "amplifying the law,"11 do not12 dissociate in (the way of) penalty from the actual commission of fornication,13 I know not whether He allows impunity to him who14 has been the cause of perdition to some other. For that other, as soon as he has felt concupiscence after your beauty, and has mentally already committed (the deed) which his concupiscence pointed to,15 perishes; and you have been made16 the sword which destroys him: so that, albeit you be free from the (actual) crime, you are not free from the odium (attaching to it); as, when a robbery has been committed on some man's estate, the (actual) crime indeed will not be laid to the owner's charge, while yet the domain is branded with ignominy, (and) the owner himself aspersed with the infamy. Are we to paint ourselves out that our neighbours may perish? Where, then, is (the command), "Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself? "17 "Care not merely about your own (things), but (about your) neighbour's? "18 No enunciation of the Holy Spirit ought to be (confined) to the subject immediately in hand merely, and not applied and carried out with a view to every occasion to which its application is useful.19 Since, therefore, both our own interest and that of others is implicated in the studious pursuit of most perilous (outward) comeliness, it is time for you to know20 that not merely must the pageantry of fictitious and elaborate beauty be rejected by you; but that of even natural grace must be obliterated by concealment and negligence, as equally dangerous to the glances of (the beholder's) eyes. For, albeit comeliness is not to be censured,21 as being a bodily happiness, as being an additional outlay of the divine plastic art, as being a kind of goodly garment22 of the soul; yet it is to be feared, just on account of the injuriousness and violence of suitors:23 which (injuriousness and violence) even the father of the faith,24 Abraham,25 greatly feared in regard of his own wife's grace; and Isaac,26 by falsely representing Rebecca as his sister, purchased safety by insult!27
Let it now be granted that excellence of form be not to be feared, as neither troublesome to its possessors, nor destructive to its desirers, nor perilous to its compartners;28 let it be thought (to be) not exposed to temptations, not surrounded by stumbling-blocks: it is enough that to angels of God29 it is not necessary. For, where modesty is, there beauty is idle; because properly the use and fruit of beauty is voluptuousness, unless any one thinks that there is some other harvest for bodily grace to reap.30 Are women who think that, in furnishing to their neighbour that which is demanded of beauty, they are furnishing it to themselves also, to augment that (beauty) when (naturally) given them, and to strive after it when not (thus) given? Some one will say, "Why, then, if voluptuousness be shut out and chastity let in, may (we) not enjoy the praise of beauty alone, and glory in a bodily good? "Let whoever finds pleasure in "glorying in the flesh"31 see to that. To us in the first place, there is no studious pursuit of "glory," because "glory" is the essence of exaltation. Now exaltation is incongruous for professors of humility according to God's precepts. Secondly, if all "glory" is "vain" and insensate,32 how much more (glory) in the flesh, especially to us? For even if "glorying" is (allowable), we ought to wish our sphere of pleasing to lie in the graces33 of the Spirit, not in the flesh; because we are "suitors"34 of things spiritual. In those things wherein our sphere of labour lies, let our joy lie. From the sources whence we hope for salvation, let us cull our "glory." Plainly, a Christian will "glory" even in the flesh; but (it will be) when it has endured laceration for Christ's sake,35 in order that the spirit may be crowned in it, not in order that it may draw the eyes and sighs of youths after it. Thus (a thing) which, from whatever point you look at it, is in your case superfluous, you may justly disdain if you have it not, and neglect if you have. Let a holy woman, if naturally beautiful, give none so great occasion (for carnal appetite). Certainly, if even she be so, she ought not to set off (her beauty), but even to obscure it.36
As if I were speaking to Gentiles, addressing you with a Gentile precept, and (one which is) common to all, (I would say, ) "You are bound to please your husbands only."37 But you will please them in proportion as you take no care to please others. Be ye without carefulness,38 blessed (sisters): no wife is "ugly" to her own husband. She "pleased" him enough when she was selected (by him as his wife); whether commended by form or by character. Let none of you think that, if she abstain from the care of her person,39 she will incur the hatred and aversion of husbands. Every husband is the exactor of chastity; but beauty, a believing (husband) does not require, because we are not captivated by the same graces40 which the Gentiles think (to be) graces:41 an unbelieving one, on the other hand, even regards with suspicion, just from that infamous opinion of us which the Gentiles have. For whom, then, is it that you cherish your beauty? If for a believer, he does not exact it: if for an unbeliever, he does not believe in it unless it be artless.42 Why are you eager to please either one who is suspicious, or else one who desires it not?
These suggestions are not made to you, of course, to be developed into an entire crudity and wildness of appearance; nor are we seeking to persuade you of the good of squalor and slovenliness; but of the limit and norm and just measure of cultivation of the person. There must be no overstepping of that line to which simple and sufficient refinements limit their desires-that line which is pleasing to God. For they who rub43 their skin with medicaments, stain their cheeks with rouge, make their eyes prominent with antimony,44 sin against Him. To them, I suppose, the plastic skill45 of God is displeasing! In their own persons, I suppose, they convict, they censure, the Artificer of all things! For censure they, do when they amend, when they add to, (His work; ) taking these their additions, of course, from the adversary artificer. That adversary artificer is the devil.46 For who would show the way to change the body, but he who by wickedness transfigured man's spirit? He it is, undoubtedly, who adapted ingenious devices of this kind; that in your persons it may be apparent that you, in a certain sense, do violence to God. Whatever is born is the work of God. Whatever, then, is plastered on47 (that), is the devil's work. To superinduce on a divine work Satan's ingenuities, how criminal is it! Our servants borrow nothing from our personal enemies: soldiers eagerly desire nothing from the foes of their own general; for, to demand for (your own) use anything from the adversary of Him in whose hand48 you are, is a transgression. Shall a Christian be assisted in anything by that evil one? (If he do, ) I know not whether this name (of "Christian") will continue (to belong) to him; for he will be his in whose lore he eagerly desires to be instructed. But how alien from your schoolings49 and professions are (these things)! How unworthy the Christian name, to wear a fictitious face, (you,) on whom simplicity in every form is enjoined!-to lie in your appearance, (you,) to whom (lying) with the tongue is not lawful!-to seek after what is another's, (you,) to whom is delivered (the precept of) abstinence from what is another's!-to practise adultery in your mien,50 (you,) who make modesty your study! Think,51 blessed (sisters), how will you keep God's precepts if you shall not keep in your own persons His lineaments?
I see some (women) turn (the colour of) their hair with saffron. They are ashamed even of their own nation, (ashamed) that their procreation did not assign them to Germany and to Gaul: thus, as it is, they transfer their hair52 (thither)! Ill, ay, most ill, do they augur for themselves with their flame-coloured head,53 and think that graceful which (in fact) they are polluting! Nay, moreover, the force of the cosmetics burns ruin into the hair; and the constant application of even any undrugged moisture, lays up a store of harm for the head; while the sun's warmth, too, so desirable for imparting to the hair at once growth and dryness, is hurtful. What "grace" is compatible with "injury? "What "beauty" with "impurities? "Shall a Christian woman heap saffron on her head, as upon an altar?54 For, whatever is wont to be burned to the honour of the unclean spirit, that-unless it is applied for honest, and necessary, and salutary uses, for which God's creature was provided-may seem to be a sacrifice. But, however, God saith, "Which of you can make a white hair black, or out of a black a white? "55 And so they refute the Lord! "Behold!" say they, "instead of white or black, we make it yellow,-more winning in grace."56 And yet such as repent of having lived to old age do attempt to change it even from white to black! O temerity! The age which is the object of our wishes and prayers blushes (for itself)! a theft is effected! youth, wherein we have sinned,57 is sighed after! the opportunity of sobriety is spoiled! Far from Wisdom's daughters be folly so great! The more old age tries to conceal itself, the more will it be detected. Here is a veritable eternity, in the (perennial) youth of your head! Here we have an "incorruptibility" to "put on,"58 with a view to the new house of the Lord59 which the divine monarchy promises! Well do you speed toward the Lord; well do you hasten to be quit of this most iniquitous world,60 to whom it is unsightly to approach (your own) end!
What service, again, does all the labour spent in arranging the hair render to salvation? Why is no rest allowed to your hair, which must now be bound, now loosed, now cultivated, now thinned out? Some are anxious to force their hair into curls, some to let it hang loose and flying; not with good simplicity: beside which, you affix I know not what enormities of subtle and textile perukes; now, after the manner of a helmet of undressed hide, as it were a sheath for the head and a covering for the crown; now, a mass (drawn) backward toward the neck. The wonder is, that there is no (open) contending against the Lord's prescripts! It has been pronounced that no one can add to his own stature.61 You, however, do add to your weight some kind of rolls, or shield-bosses, to be piled upon your necks! If you feel no shame at the enormity, feel some at the pollution; for fear you may be fitting on a holy and Christian head the slough62 of some one else's63 head, unclean perchance, guilty perchance and destined to hell.64 Nay, rather banish quite away from your "free"65 head all this slavery of ornamentation. In vain do you labour to seem adorned: in vain do you call in the aid of all the most skilful manufacturers of false hair. God bids you "be veiled."66 I believe (He does so) for fear the heads of some should be seen! And oh that in "that day"67 of Christian exultation, I, most miserable (as I am), may elevate my head, even though below (the level of) your heels! I shall (then) see whether you will rise with (your) ceruse and rouge and saffron, and in all that parade of headgear:68 whether it will be women thus tricked out whom the angels carry up to meet Christ in the air69 If these (decorations) are now good, and of God, they will then also present themselves to the rising bodies, and will recognise their several places. But nothing can rise except flesh and spirit sole and pure.70 Whatever, therefore, does not rise in (the form of)71 spirit and flesh is condemned, because it is not of God. From things which are condemned abstain, even at the present day. At the present day let God see you such as He will see you then.
Of course, now, I, a man, as being envious72 of women, am banishing them quite from their own (domains). Are there, in our case too, some things which, in respect of the sobriety73 we are to maintain on account of the fear74 due to God, are disallowed?75 If it is true, (as it is,) that in men, for the sake of women (just as in women for the sake of men), there is implanted, by a defect of nature, the will to please; and if this sex of ours acknowledges to itself deceptive trickeries of form peculiarly its own,-(such as) to cut the beard too sharply; to pluck it out here and there; to shave round about (the mouth); to arrange the hair, and disguise its hoariness by dyes; to remove all the incipient down all over the body; to fix (each particular hair) in its place with (some) womanly pigment; to smooth all the rest of the body by the aid of some rough powder or other: then, further, to take every opportunity for consulting the minor; to gaze anxiously into it: -while yet, when (once) the knowledge of God has put an end to all wish to please by means of voluptuous attraction, all these things are rejected as frivolous, as hostile to modesty. For where God is, there modesty is; there is sobriety76 her assistant and ally. How, then, shall we practise modesty without her instrumental mean,77 that is, without sobriety?78 How, moreover, shall we bring sobriety79 to bear on the discharge of (the functions of) modesty, unless seriousness in appearance and in countenance, and in the general aspect80 of the entire man, mark our carriage?
Wherefore, with regard to clothing also, and all the remaining lumber of your self-elaboration,81 the like pruning off and retrenchment of too redundant splendour must be the object of your care. For what boots it to exhibit in your face temperance and unaffectedness, and a simplicity altogether worthy of the divine discipline, but to invest all the other parts of the body with the luxurious absurdities of pomps and delicacies? How intimate is the connection which these pomps have with the business of voluptuousness, and how they interfere with modesty, is easily discernible from the fact that it is by the allied aid of dress that they prostitute the grace of personal comeliness: so plain is it that if (the pomps) be wanting, they render (that grace) bootless and thankless, as if it were disarmed and wrecked. On the other hand, if natural beauty fails, the supporting aid of outward embellishment supplies a grace, as it were, from its own inherent power.82 Those times of life, in fact, which are at last blest with quiet and withdrawn into the harbour of modesty, the splendour and dignity of dress lure away (from that rest and that harbour), and disquiet seriousness by seductions of appetite, which compensate for the chili of age by the provocative charms of apparel. First, then, blessed (sisters), (take heed) that you admit not to your use meretricious and prostitutionary garbs and garments: and, in the next place, if there are any of you whom the exigencies of riches, or birth, or past dignities, compel to appear in public so gorgeously arrayed as not to appear to have attained wisdom, take heed to temper an evil of this kind; lest, under the pretext of necessity, you give the rein without stint to the indulgence of licence. For how will you be able to fulfil (the requirements of) humility, which our (school) profess,83 if you do not keep within bounds84 the enjoyment of your riches and elegancies, which tend so much to "glory? "Now it has ever been the wont of glory to exalt, not to humble. "Why, shall we not use what is our own? "Who prohibits your using it? Yet (it must be) in accordance with the apostle, who warns us "to use this world85 as if we abuse it not; for the fashion86 of this world87 is passing away." And "they who buy are so to act as if they possessed not."88 Why so? Because he had laid down the premiss, saying, "The time is wound up."89 If, then he shows plainly that even wives themselves are so to be had as if they be not had,90 on account of the straits of the times, what would be his sentiments about these vain appliances of theirs? Why, are there not many, withal, who so do, and seal themselves up to eunuchhood for the sake of the kingdom of God,91 spontaneously relinquishing a pleasure so honourable,92 and (as we know) permitted? Are there not some who prohibit to themselves (the use of) the very "creature of God,"93 abstaining from wine and animal food, the enjoyments of which border upon no peril or solicitude; but they sacrifice to God the humility of their soul even in the chastened use of food? Sufficiently, therefore, have you, too, used your riches and your delicacies; sufficiently have you cut down the fruits of your dowries, before (receiving) the knowledge of saving disciplines. We are they "upon whom the ends of the ages have met, having ended their course."94 We have been predestined by God, before the world95 was, (to arise) in the extreme end of the times.96 And so we are trained by God for the purpose of chastising, and (so to say) emasculating, the world.97 We are the circumcision98 -spiritual and carnal-of all things; for both in the spirit and in the flesh we circumcise worldly99 principles.
Chapter X.-Tertullian Refers Again to the Question of the Origin of All These Ornaments and Embellishments.100
It was God, no doubt, who showed the way to dye wools with the juices of herbs and the humours of conchs! It had escaped Him, when He was bidding the universe to come into being,101 to issue a command for (the production of) purple and scarlet sheep! It was God, too, who devised by careful thought the manufactures of those very garments which, light and thin (in themselves), were to be heavy in price alone; God who produced such grand implements of gold for confining or parting the hair; God who introduced (the fashion of) finely-cut wounds for the ears, and set so high a value upon the tormenting of His own work and the tortures of innocent infancy, learning to suffer with its earliest breath, in order that from those scars of the body-born for the steel!-should hang I know not what (precious) grains, which, as we may plainly see, the Parthians insert, in place of studs, upon their very shoes! And yet even the gold itself, the "glory" of which carries you away, serves a certain race (so Gentile literature. tells us) for chains! So true is it that it is not intrinsic worth,102 but rarity, which constitutes the goodness (of these things): the excessive labour, moreover, of working them with arts introduced by the means of the sinful angels, who were the revealers withal of the material substances themselves, joined with their rarity, excited their costliness, and hence a lust on the part of women to possess (that) costliness. But, if the self-same angels who disclosed both the material substances of this kind and their charms-of gold, I mean, and lustrous103 stones-and taught men how to work them, and by and by instructed them, among their other (instructions), in (the virtues of) eyelid-powder and the dyeings of fleeces, have been condemned by God, as Enoch tells us, how shall we please God while we joy in the things of those (angels) who, on these accounts, have provoked the anger and the vengeance of God?
Now, granting that God did foresee these things; that God permitted them; that Esaias finds fault with no garment of purple,104 represses no coil,105 reprobates no crescent-shaped neck ornaments;106 still let us not, as the Gentiles do, flatter ourselves with thinking that God is merely a Creator, not likewise a Downlooker on His own creatures. For how far more usefully and cautiously shall we act, if we hazard the presumption that all these things were indeed provided107 at the beginning and placed in the world108 by God, in order that there should now be means of putting to the proof the discipline of His servants, in order that the licence of using should be the means whereby the experimental trials of continence should be conducted? Do not wise heads of families purposely offer and permit some things to their servants109 in order to try whether and how they will use the things thus permitted whether (they will do so) with honesty, or with moderation? But how far more praiseworthy (the servant) who abstains entirely; who has a wholesome fear110 even of his lord's indulgence! Thus, therefore, the apostle too: "All things," says he, "are lawful, but not all are expedient."111 How much more easily will he fear112 what is unlawful who has a reverent dread113 of what is lawful?
Chapter XI.-Christian Women, Further, Have Not the Same Causes for Appearing in Public, and Hence for Dressing in Fine Array as Gentiles. On the Contrary, Their Appearance Should Always Distinguish Them from Such.
Moreover, what causes have you for appearing in public in excessive grandeur, removed as you are from the occasions which call for such exhibitions? For you neither make the circuit of the temples, nor demand (to be present at) public shows, nor have any acquaintance with the holy days of the Gentiles. Now it is for the sake of all these public gatherings, and of much seeing and being seen, that all pomps (of dress) are exhibited before the public eye; either for the purpose of transacting the trade of voluptuousness, or else of inflating "glory." You, however, have no cause of appearing in public, except such as is serious. Either some brother who is sick is visited, or else the sacrifice is offered, or else the word of God is dispensed. Whichever of these you like to name is a business of sobriety114 and sanctity, requiring no extraordinary attire, with (studious) arrangement and (wanton) negligence.115 And if the requirements of Gentile friendships and of kindly offices call you, why not go forth clad in your own armour; (and) all the more, in that (you have to go) to such as are strangers to the faith? so that between the handmaids of God and of the devil there may be a difference; so that you may be an example to them, and they may be edified in you; so that (as the apostle says) "God may be magnified in your body."116 But magnified He is in the body through modesty: of course, too, through attire suitable to modesty. Well, but it is urged by some, "Let not the Name be blasphemed in us,117 if we make any derogatory change from our old style and dress." Let us, then, not abolish our old vices! let us maintain the same character, if we must maintain the same appearance (as before); and then truly the nations will not blaspheme! A grand blasphemy is that by which it is said, "Ever since she became a Christian, she walks in poorer garb!" Will you fear to appear poorer, from the time that you have been made more wealthy; and fouler,118 from the time when you have been made more clean? Is it according to the decree119 of Gentiles, or according to the decree of God, that it becomes Christians to walk?
Let us only wish that we may be no cause for just blasphemy! But how much more provocative of blasphemy is it that you, who are called modesty's priestesses, should appear in public decked and painted out after the manner of the immodest? Else, (if you so do,) what inferiority would the poor unhappy victims of the public lusts have (beneath you)? whom, albeit some laws were (formerly) wont to restrain them from (the use of) matrimonial and matronly decorations, now, at all events, the daily increasing depravity of the age120 has raised so nearly to an equality with all the most honourable women, that the difficulty is to distinguish them. And yet, even the Scriptures suggest (to us the reflection), that meretricious attractivenesses of form are invariably conjoined with and appropriate121 to bodily prostitution. That powerful state122 which presides over123 the seven mountains and very many waters, has merited from the Lord the appellation of a prostitute.124 But what kind of garb is the instrumental mean of her comparison with that appellation? She sits, to be sure, "in purple, and scarlet, and gold, and precious stone." How accursed are the things without (the aid of) which an accursed prostitute could not have been described! It was the fact that Thamar "had painted out and adorned herself" that led Judah to regard her as a harlot,125 and thus, because she was hidden beneath her "veil,"-the quality of her garb belying her as if she had been a harlot,-he judged (her to be one), and addressed and bargained with (her as such). Whence we gather an additional confirmation of the lesson, that provision must be made in every way. against all immodest associations126 and suspicions. For why is the integrity of a chaste mind defiled by its neighbour's suspicion? Why is a thing from which I am averse hoped for in me? Why does not my garb pre-announce my character, to prevent my spirit from being wounded by shamelessness through (the channel of) nay ears? Grant that it be lawful to assume the appearance of a modest woman:127 to assume that of an immodest is, at all events, not lawful.
Chapter XIII.-It is Not Enough that God Know Us to Be Chaste: We Must Seem So Before Men. Especially in These Times of Persecution We Must Inure Our Bodies to the Hardships Which They May Not Improbably Be Called to Suffer.
Perhaps some (woman) will say: "To me it is not necessary to be approved by men; for I do not require the testimony of men:128 God is the inspector of the heart."129 (That) we all know; provided, however, we remember what the same (God) has said through the apostle: "Let your probity appear before men."130 For what purpose, except that malice may have no access at all to you, or that you may be an example and testimony to the evil? Else, what is (that): "Let your works shine? "131 Why, moreover, does the Lord call us the light of the world; why has He compared us to a city built upon a mountain;132 if we do not shine in (the midst of) darkness, and stand eminent amid them who are sunk down? If you hide your lamp beneath a bushel,133 you must necessarily be left quite in darkness, and be run against by many. The things which make us luminaries of the world are these-our good works. What is good, moreover, provided it be true and full, loves not darkness: it joys in being seen,134 and exults over the very pointings which are made at it. To Christian modesty it is not enough to be so, but to seem so too. For so great ought its plenitude to be, that it may flow out from the mind to the garb, and burst out from the conscience to the outward appearance; so that even from the outside it may gaze, as it were, upon its own furniture,135 -(a furniture) such as to be suited to retain faith as its inmate perpetually. For such delicacies as tend by their softness and effeminacy to unman the manliness136 of faith are to be discarded. Otherwise, I know not whether the wrist that has been wont to be surrounded with the palmleaf-like bracelet will endure till it grow into the numb hardness of its own chain! I know not whether the leg that has rejoiced in the anklet will suffer itself to be squeezed into the gyve! I fear the neck, beset with pearl and emerald nooses, will give no room to the broadsword! Wherefore, blessed (sisters), let us meditate on hardships, and we shall not feel them; let us abandon luxuries, and we shall not regret them. Let us stand ready to endure every violence, having nothing which we may fear to leave behind. It is these things which are the bonds which retard our hope. Let us cast away earthly ornaments if we desire heavenly. Love not gold; in which (one substance) are branded all the sins of the people of Israel. You ought to hate what mined your fathers; what was adored by them who were forsaking God.137 Even then (we find) gold is food for the fire.138 But Christians always, and now more than ever, pass their times not in gold but in iron: the stoles of martyrdom are (now) preparing: the angels who are to carry us are (now) being awaited! Do you go forth (to meet them) already arrayed in the cosmetics and ornaments of prophets and apostles; drawing your whiteness from simplicity, your ruddy hue from modesty; painting your eyes with bashfulness, and your mouth with silence; implanting in your ears the words of God; fitting on your necks the yoke of Christ. Submit your head to your husbands, and you will be enough adorned. Busy your hands with spinning; keep your feet at home; and you will "please" better than (by arraying yourselves) in gold. Clothe yourselves with the silk of uprightness, the fine linen of holiness, the purple of modesty. Thus painted, you will have God as your Lover!
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