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  • 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.

    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:261

    261 Comp. John v. 34; 1 Cor. iv. 3.

      God is the inspector of the heart.”262

    262 Comp. 1 Sam. xvi. 7; Jer. xvii. 10; Luke xvi. 15.

      (That) we all know; provided, however, we remember what the same (God) has said through the apostle:  “Let your probity appear before men.”263

    263 See Phil. iv. 5, 8; Rom. xii. 17; 2 Cor. viii. 21.

      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?”264

    264 See Matt. v. 16; and comp. de Idol., c. xv. ad init.

      Why, moreover, does the Lord call us the light of the world; why has He compared us to a city built upon a mountain;265

    265 Matt. v. 14.

    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,266

    266 Matt. v. 15; Mark iv. 21; Luke viii. 16; xi. 33.

    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,267

    267 See John iii. 21.

    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,268

    268 Supellectilem.

    —(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 manliness269

    269 Effeminari virtus.

    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 ruined your fathers; what was adored by them who were forsaking God.270

    270 Comp. Ex. xxxii.

      Even then (we find) gold is food for the fire.271

    271 Ex. xxxii. 20.

      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 adornedBusy 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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