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  • Tertullian Refers Again to the Question of the Origin of All These Ornaments and Embellishments.

    Chapter X.—Tertullian Refers Again to the Question of the Origin of All These Ornaments and Embellishments.233

    233 Comp. i. cc. ii. iii. v. vii. viii.

    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,234

    234 Universa nasci.

    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,235

    235 Veritate.

    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 lustrous236

    236 Illustrium.

    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,237

    237 De conchylio.

    represses no coil,238

    238 κοσύμβους.  Isa. iii. 18 (in LXX.).

    reprobates no crescent-shaped neck ornaments;239

    239 Lunulas = μηνίσκους, ib.

    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 provided240

    240 Or, “foreseen.”

    at the beginning and placed in the world241

    241 Sæculo.

    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 servants242

    242 Or, “slaves.”

    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 fear243

    243 Timuerit.

    even of his lord’s indulgence!  Thus, therefore, the apostle too:  “All things,” says he, “are lawful, but not all are expedient.”244

    244 1 Cor. x. 23.

      How much more easily will he fear245

    245 Timebit.

    what is unlawful who has a reverent dread246

    246 Verebitur.

    of what is lawful?


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