Such Outward Adornments Meretricious, and Therefore Unsuitable to Modest Women.
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 age [253] 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 appropriate [254] to bodily prostitution. That powerful state [255] which presides over [256] the seven mountains and very many waters, has merited from the Lord the appellation of a prostitute. [257] 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, [258] 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 associations [259] 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) my ears? Grant that it be lawful to assume the appearance of a modest woman: [260] to assume that of an immodest is, at all events, not lawful.


[253] Sæculi.

[254] Debita.

[255] Or, "city."

[256] Or, "sits on high above."

[257] Comp. Revelation 17.p>[258] Comp. Genesis 38:12-30.

[259] Congressus.

[260] Videri pudicam.

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