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Chapter XI.—Christian Women, Further, Have Not the Same Causes for Appearing in Public, and Hence for Dressing in Fine Array as Gentiles.  On the Contrary, Their Appearance Should Always Distinguish Them from Such.

Moreover, what causes have you for appearing in public in excessive grandeur, removed as you are from the occasions which call for such exhibitions?  For you neither make the circuit of the temples, nor demand (to be present at) public shows, nor have any acquaintance with the holy days of the Gentiles.  Now it is for the sake of all these public gatherings, and of much seeing and being seen, that all pomps (of dress) are exhibited before the public eye; either for the purpose of transacting the trade of voluptuousness, or else of inflating “glory.”  You, however, have no cause of appearing in public, except such as is serious.  Either some brother who is sick is visited, or else the sacrifice is offered, or else the word of God is dispensed.  Whichever of these you like to name is a business of sobriety247247    Gravitatis. and sanctity, requiring no extraordinary attire, with (studious) arrangement and (wanton) negligence.248248    Et composito et soluto.  And if the requirements of Gentile friendships and of kindly offices call you, why not go forth clad in your own armour; (and) all the more, in that (you have to go) to such as are strangers to the faith? so that between the handmaids of God and of the devil there may be a difference; so that you may be an example to them, and they may be edified in you; so that (as the apostle says) “God may be magnified in your body.”249249    See Phil. i. 20.  But magnified He is in the body through modesty:  of course, too, through attire suitable to modesty.  Well, but it is urged by some, “Let not the Name be blasphemed in us,250250    Comp. de Idol., c. xiv. if we make any derogatory change from our old style and dress.”  Let us, then, not abolish our old vices! let us maintain the same character, if we must maintain the same appearance (as before); and then truly the nations will not blaspheme!  A grand blasphemy is that by which it is said, “Ever since she became a Christian, she walks in poorer garb!”  Will you fear to appear poorer, from the time that you have been made more wealthy; and fouler,251251    Sordidior. from the time when you have been made more clean?  Is it according to the decree252252    Or “pleasure:”  placitum. of Gentiles, or according to the decree of God, that it becomes Christians to walk?


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