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Chapter XVI.—Tertullian, Having Shown His Defence to Be Consistent with Scripture, Nature, and Discipline, Appeals to the Virgins Themselves.

Herein consists the defence of our opinion, in accordance with Scripture, in accordance with Nature, in accordance with Discipline.  Scripture founds the law; Nature joins to attest it; Discipline exacts it.  Which of these (three) does a custom founded on (mere) opinion appear in behalf of? or what is the colour of the opposite view?  God’s is Scripture; God’s is Nature; God’s is Discipline.  Whatever is contrary to these is not God’s.  If Scripture is uncertain, Nature is manifest; and concerning Nature’s testimony Scripture cannot be uncertain.329329    See 1 Cor. xi. 14, above quoted.  If there is a doubt about Nature, Discipline points out what is more sanctioned by God.  For noth37ing is to Him dearer than humility; nothing more acceptable than modesty; nothing more offensive than “glory” and the study of men-pleasing.  Let that, accordingly, be to you Scripture, and Nature, and Discipline, which you shall find to have been sanctioned by God; just as you are bidden to “examine all things, and diligently follow whatever is better.”330330    See 1 Thess. v. 21.

It remains likewise that we turn to (the virgins) themselves, to induce them to accept these (suggestions) the more willingly.  I pray you, be you mother, or sister, or virgin-daughter—let me address you according to the names proper to your years—veil your head:  if a mother, for your sons’ sakes; if a sister, for your brethren’s sakes; if a daughter for your fathers’ sakes.  All ages are perilled in your person.  Put on the panoply of modesty; surround yourself with the stockade of bashfulness; rear a rampart for your sex, which must neither allow your own eyes egress nor ingress to other people’s.  Wear the full garb of woman, to preserve the standing of virgin.  Belie somewhat of your inward consciousness, in order to exhibit the truth to God alone.  And yet you do not belie yourself in appearing as a bride.  For wedded you are to Christ:  to Him you have surrendered your flesh; to Him you have espoused your maturity.  Walk in accordance with the will of your Espoused.  Christ is He who bids the espoused and wives of others veil themselves;331331    See 1 Cor. xi. (and,) of course, much more His own.


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