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Chapter IX.—Veiling Consistent with the Other Rules of Discipline Observed by Virgins and Women in General.

Let us now see whether, as we have shown the arguments drawn from nature and the matter itself to be applicable to the virgin as well (as to other females), so likewise the precepts of ecclesiastical discipline concerning women have an eye to the virgin.

It is not permitted to a woman to speak in the church;307307    1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35; 1 Tim. ii. 11, 12. but neither (is it permitted her) to teach, nor to baptize, nor to offer, nor to claim to herself a lot in any manly function, not to say (in any) sacerdotal office.  Let us inquire whether any of these be lawful to a virgin.  If it is not lawful to a virgin, but she is subjected on the self-same terms (as the woman), and the necessity for humility is assigned her together with the woman, whence will this one thing be lawful to her which is not lawful to any and every female?  If any is a virgin, and has proposed to sanctify her flesh, what prerogative does she (thereby) earn adverse to her own condition?  Is the reason why it is granted her to dispense with the veil, that she may be notable and marked as she enters the church? that she may display the honour of sanctity in the liberty of her head?  More worthy distinction could have been conferred on her by according her some prerogative of manly rank or office!  I know plainly, that in a certain place a virgin of less than twenty years of age has been placed in the order of widows! whereas if the bishop had been bound to accord her any relief, he might, of course, have done it in some other way without detriment to the respect due to discipline; that such a miracle, not to say monster, should not be pointed at in the church, a virgin-widow! the more portentous indeed, that not even as a widow did she veil her head; denying herself either way; both as virgin, in that she is counted a widow, and as widow, in that she is styled a virgin.  But the authority which licenses her sitting in that seat uncovered is the same which allows her to sit there as a virgin:  a seat to which (besides the “sixty years”308308    1 Tim. v. 9. not merely “single-husbanded” (women)—that is, married women—are at length elected, but “mothers” to boot, yes, and “educators of children;” in order, forsooth, that their experimental training in all the affections may, on the one hand, have rendered them capable of readily aiding all others with counsel and comfort, and that, on the other, they may none the less have travelled down the whole course of probation whereby a female can be tested.  So true is it, that, on the ground of her position, nothing in the way of public honour is permitted to a virgin.


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