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
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 substantiality [142] 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. Fear [143] 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," [144] do not [145] dissociate in (the way of) penalty from the actual commission of fornication, [146] I know not whether He allows impunity to him who [147] 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, [148] perishes; and you have been made [149] 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 shalt love thy neighbour as thyself?" [150] "Care not merely about your own (things), but (about your) neighbour's?" [151] 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. [152] 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 know [153] 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, [154] as being a bodily happiness, as being an additional outlay of the divine plastic art, as being a kind of goodly garment [155] of the soul; yet it is to be feared, just on account of the injuriousness and violence of suitors: [156] which (injuriousness and violence) even the father of the faith, [157] Abraham, [158] greatly feared in regard of his own wife's grace; and Isaac, [159] by falsely representing Rebecca as his sister, purchased safety by insult! [160]

[142] Substantia. Comp. Hebrews 11:1, esti de pistis elpizomenon hupostasis .

[143] Timor.

[144] Matthew 5:17. Comp. de Or., c. xxii. mid.; de Pa., c. vi. mid.; de Pæn., c. iii. sub fin.

[145] The second "non," or else the first, must apparently be omitted.

[146] Matthew 5:28. See de Idol., c. ii.; de Pa., c. vi.; de Pæn., c. iii.

[147] "Qui," Oehler; "quæ," Rig.

[148] Comp. de Pæn. c. iii.((latter half).

[149] Tu facta es.

[150] Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; xxii. 39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8.

[151] Comp. 1 1 Corinthians 10:24; xiii. 5; Philippians 2:4.

[152] Comp. 2 Pet. i. 20.

[153] Jam...sciatis.

[154] Accusandus.

[155] Comp. Genesis 27:15.

[156] Sectatorum.

[157] Comp. Romans 4:11, 16.

[158] Genesis 12:10-20, and xx.

[159] Genesis 26:6-11.

[160] "Salutem contumelia redemit;" the "insult" being the denial of her as his wife.

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