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Chapter III.—Grant that Beauty Be Not to Be Feared:  Still It is to Be Shunned as Unnecessary and Vainglorious.

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;161161    Conjunctis. let it be thought (to be) not exposed to temptations, not surrounded by stumbling-blocks:  it is enough that to angels of God162162    Angelis Dei.  Comp. the opening sentence of the book. 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.163163    Comp. ad Ux., b. i. c. iv.  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”164164    See Gal. vi. 13 and 1 Cor. iii. 21; v. 6. 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,165165    Stuporata. 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 graces166166    Bonis. of the Spirit, not in the flesh; because we are “suitors”167167    Sectatores. 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,168168    Comp. 2 Cor. xi. 18; xii. 10; Phil. iii. 3, 4. 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.169169    Non adjuvare, sed etiam impedire, debet.

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