To His Wife - Tertullian
Translated by the Rev. S. Thelwall.
Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and
first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional
introductionary material and notes provided for the American
edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.
Chapter I. Design of the Treatise. Disavowal of Personal Motives in Writing
I Have thought it meet, my best beloved fellow-servant in the Lord, even
from this early period,  to provide for the course which you must
pursue after my departure from the world,  if I shall be called before
you; (and) to entrust to your honour  the observance of the provision.
For in things worldly  we are active enough, and we wish the good of
each of us to be consulted. If we draw up wills for such matters, why ought
we not much more to take forethought for our posterity  in things
divine and heavenly, and in a sense to bequeath a legacy to be received
before the inheritance be divided,'(the legacy, I mean, of) admonition and
demonstration touching those (bequests) which are allotted out of (our)
immortal goods, and from the heritage of the heavens? Only, that you may be
able to receive in its entirety  this feoffment in trust  of my
admonition, may God grant; whom be honour, glory, renown, dignity, and
power, now and to the ages of the ages!
The precept, therefore, which I give you is, that, with all the constancy
you may, you do, after our departure, renounce nuptials; not that you will
on that score confer any benefit on me, except in that you will profit
yourself. But to Christians, after their departure from the world,  no
restoration of marriage is promised in the day of the resurrection,
translated as they will be into the condition and sanctity of angels. 
Therefore no solicitude arising from carnal jealousy will, in the day of the
resurrection, even in the case of her whom they chose to represent as having
been married to seven brothers successively, wound any one  of her so
many husbands; nor is any (husband) awaiting her to put her to confusion.
 The question raised by the Sadducees has yielded to the Lord's
sentence. Think not that it is for the sake of preserving to the end for
myself the entire devotion of your flesh, that I, suspicious of the pain of
(anticipated) slight, am even at this early period  instilling into
you the counsel of (perpetual) widowhood. There will at that day be no
resumption of voluptuous disgrace between us. No such frivolities, no such
impurities, does God promise to His (servants). But whether to you, or to
any other woman whatever who pertains to God, the advice which we are giving
shall be profitable, we take leave to treat of at large.
Chapter II. Marriage Lawful, But Not Polygamy.
We do not indeed forbid the union of man and woman, blest by God as the
seminary of the human race, and devised for the replenishment of the earth
 and the furnishing of the world,  and therefore permitted, yet
Singly. For Adam was the one husband of Eve, and Eve his one wife, one
woman, one rib.  We grant,  that among our ancestors, and the
patriarchs themselves, it was lawful  not only to marry, but even to
multiply wives.  There were concubines, too, (in those days.) But
although the Church did come in figuratively in the synagogue, yet (to
interpret simply) it was necessary to institute (certain things) which
should afterward deserve to be either lopped off or modified. For the Law
was (in due time) to supervene. (Nor was that enough:) for it was meet that
causes for making up the deficiencies of the Law should have forerun (Him
who was to supply those deficiencies). And so to the Law presently had to
succeed the Word  of God introducing the spiritual circumcision.
 Therefore, by means of the wide licence of those days, materials for
subsequent emendations were furnished beforehand, of which materials the
Lord by His Gospel, and then the apostle in the last days of the (Jewish)
age,  either cut off the redundancies or regulated the disorders.
Chapter III. Marriage Good: Celibacy Preferable.
But let it not be thought that my reason for premising thus much concerning
the liberty granted to the old, and the restraint imposed on the later time,
is that I may lay a foundation for teaching that Christ's advent was
intended to dissolve wedlock, (and) to abolish marriage talons; as if from
this period onward  I were prescribing an end to marrying. Let them
see to that, who, among the rest of their perversities, teach the disjoining
of the "one flesh in twain; "  denying Him who, after borrowing the
female from the male, recombined between themselves, in the matrimonial
computation, the two bodies taken out of the consortship of the self-same
material substance. In short, there is no place at all where we read that
nuptials are prohibited; of course on the ground that they are "a good
thing." What, however, is better than this "good," we learn from the
apostle, who permits marrying indeed, but prefers abstinence; the former on
account of the insidiousnesses of temptations, the latter on account of he
straits of the times.  Now, by looking into the reason thus given for
each proposition, it is easily discerned that the ground on which the power
of marrying is conceded is necessity; but whatever necessity grants, she by
her very nature depreciates. In fact, in that it is written, "To marry is
better than to burn," what, pray, is the nature of this "good" which is
(only) commended by comparison with "evil," so that the reason why"
marrying" is more good is (merely) that "burning" is less? Nay, but how far
better is it neither to marry nor to burn? Why, even in persecutions it is
better to take advantage of the permission granted, and "flee from town to
town,"  than, when apprehended and racked, to deny (the faith).
 And therefore more blessed are they who have strength to depart (this
life) in blessed confession of their testimony.  I may say, What is
permitted is not good. For how stands the case? I must of necessity die (if
I be apprehended and confess my faith.) If I think (that fate) deplorable,
(then flight) is good; but if I have a fear of the thing which is permitted,
(the permitted thing) has some suspicion attaching to the cause of its
permission. But that which is "better" no one (ever) "permitted," as being
undoubted, and manifest by its own inherent purity. There are some things
which are not to be desired merely because they are not forbidden, albeit
they are in a certain sense forbidden when other things are preferred to
them; for the preference given to the higher things is a dissuasion from the
lowest. A thing is not "good" merely because it is not "evil," nor is it
"evil" merely because it is not "harmful."  Further: that which is
fully "good" excels on this ground, that it is not only not harmful, but
profitable into the bargain. For you are bound to prefer what is profitable
to what is (merely) not harmful. For the first place is what every struggle
aims at; the second has consolation attaching to it, but not victory. But if
we listen to the apostle, forgetting what is behind, let us both strain
after what is before,  and be followers after the better rewards.
Thus, albeit he does not "east a snare  upon us," he points out what
tends to utility when he says, "The unmarried woman thinks on the things of
the Lord, that both in body and spirit she may be holy; but the married is
solicitous how to please her husband."  But he nowhere permits
marriage in such a way as not rather to wish us to do our utmost in
imitation of his own example. Happy the man who shall prove like Paul!
Chapter IV. Of the Infirmity of the Flesh, and Similar Pleas.
But we read "that the flesh is weak; "  and hence we soothe 
ourselves in some cases. Yet we read, too, that "the spirit is strong; "
 for each clause occurs in one and the same sentence. Flesh is an
earthly, spirit a heavenly, material. Why, then, do we, too prone to
self-excuse, put forward (in our defence) the weak part of us, but not look
at  the strong? Why should not the earthly yield to the heavenly? If
the spirit is stronger than the flesh, because it is withal of nobler
origin, it is our own fault if we follow the weaker. Now there are two
phases  of human weakness which make marriages  necessary to
such as are disjoined from matrimony. The first and most powerful is that
which arises from fleshly concupiscence; the second, from worldly
concupiscence. But by us, who are servants of God, who renounce both
voluptuousness and ambition, each is to be repudiated. Fleshly concupiscence
claims the functions of adult age, craves after beauty's harvest, rejoices
in its own shame, pleads the necessity of a husband to the female sex, as a
source of authority and of comfort, or to render it safe from evil rumours.
To meet these its counsels, do you apply the examples of sisters of ours
whose names are with the Lord,  'who, when their husbands have
preceded them (to glory), give to no opportunity of beauty or of age the
precedence over holiness. They prefer to be wedded to God.To God their
beauty, to God their youth (is dedicated). With Him they live; with Him they
converse; Him they "handle"  by day and by night; to the Lord they
assign their prayers as dowries; from Him, as oft as they desire it, they
receive His approbation  as dotal gifts. Thus they have laid hold for
themselves of an eternal gift of the Lord; and while on earth, by abstaining
from marriage, are already counted as belonging to the angelic family.
Training yourself to an emulation of (their) constancy by the examples of
such women, you will by spiritual affection bury that fleshly concupiscence,
in abolishing the temporal  and fleeting desires of beauty and youth
by the compensating gain of immortal blessings.
On the other hand, this worldly concupiscence (to which I referred) has, as
its causes, glory, cupidity, ambition, want of sufficiency; through which
causes it trumps up the "necessity" for marrying,'promising itself,
forsooth, heavenly things in return'to lord it, (namely,) in another's
family; to roost  on another's wealth; to extort splendour from
another's store to lavish expenditure  which you do not feel! Far be
all this from believers, who have no care about maintenance, unless it be
that we distrust the promises of God, and (His) care and providence, who
clothes with such grace the lilies of the field;  who, without any
labour on their part, feeds the fowls of the heaven;  who prohibits
care to be taken about to-morrow's food and clothing,  promising that
He knows what is needful for each of His servants'not indeed ponderous
necklaces, not burdensome garments, not Gallic mules nor German bearers,
which all add lustre to the glory of nuptials; but "sufficiency," 
which is suitable to moderation and modesty, Presume, I pray you, that you
have need of nothing if you "attend upon the Lord; "  nay, that you
have all things, if you have the Lord, whose are all things. Think often
 on things heavenly, and you will despise things earthly. To widowhood
signed and sealed before the Lord nought is necessary but perseverance.
Chapter V. Of the Love of Offspring as a Plea for Marriage.
Further reasons for marriage which men allege for themselves arise from
anxiety for posterity, and the bitter, bitter pleasure of children. To us
this is idle. For why should we be eager to bear children, whom, when we
have them, we desire to send before us (to glory)  (in respect, I
mean, of the distresses that are now imminent); desirous as we are
ourselves, too, to be taken out of this most wicked world,  and
received into the Lord's presence, which was the desire even of an
apostle?  To the servant of God, forsooth, offspring is necessary!
For of our own salvation we are secure enough, so that we have leisure for
children! Burdens must be sought by us for ourselves which are avoided even
by the majority of the Gentiles, who are compelled by laws,  who are
decimated  by abortions;  burdens which, finally, are to us
most of all unsuitable, as being perilous to faith! For why did the Lord
foretell a "woe to them that are with child, and them that give suck,"
 except because He testifies that in that day of disencumbrance the
encumbrances of children will be an inconvenience? It is to marriage, of
course, that those encumbrances appertain; but that ("woe") will not pertain
to widows. (They) at the first trump of the angel will spring forth
disencumbered'will freely bear to the end whatsoever pressure and
persecution, with no burdensome fruit of marriage heaving in the womb, none
in the bosom.
Therefore, whether it be for the sake of the flesh, or of the world, 
or of posterity, that marriage is undertaken, nothing of all these
"necessities" affects the servants of God, so as to prevent my deeming it
enough to have once for all yielded to some one of them, and by one marriage
appeased  all concupiscence of this kind. Let us marry daily, and in
the midst of our marrying let us be overtaken, like Sodom and Gomorrah, by
that day of fear!  For there it was not only, of course, that they
were dealing in marriage and merchandise; but when He says, "They were
marrying and buying," He sets a brand  upon the very leading vices of
the flesh and of the world,  which call men off the most from divine
disciplines'the one through the pleasure of rioting, the other though the
greed of acquiring. And yet that "blindness" then was felt long before "the
ends of the world."  What, then, will the case be if God now keep us
from the vices which of old were detestable before Him? "The time," says
(the apostle), "is compressed.  It remaineth that they who have
wives  act as if they had them not."
Chapter VI. Examples of Heathens Urged as Commendatory of Widowhood and
But if they who have (wives) are (thus) bound to consign to oblivion what
they have, how much more are they who have not, prohibited from seeking a
second time what they no longer have; so that she whose husband has departed
from the world should thenceforward impose rest on her sex by abstinence
from marriage'abstinence which numbers of Gentile women devote to the memory
of beloved husbands! When anything seems difficult, let us survey others who
cope with still greater difficulties. How many are there who from the moment
of their baptism set the seal (of virginity) upon their flesh? How many,
again, who by equal mutual consent cancel the debt of matrimony-voluntary
eunuchs  for the sake of their desire! after the celestial kingdom!
But if, while the marriage-tie is still intact, abstinence is endured, how
much more when it has been undone! For I believe it to be harder for what is
intact to be quite forsaken, than for what has been lost not to be yearned
after. A hard and arduous thing enough, surely, is the continence for God's
sake of a holy woman after her husband's decease, when Gentiles,  in
honour of their own Satan, endure sacerdotal offices which involve both
virginity and widowhood!  At Rome, for instance, they who have to do
with the type of that "inextinguishable fire,"  keeping watch over
the omens of their own (future) penalty, in company with the (old) dragon
 himself, are appointed on the ground of virginity. To the Achaean
Juno, at the town Aegium, a virgin is allotted; and the (priestesses) who
rave at Delphi know not marriage. Moreover, we know that widows minister to
the African Ceres; enticed away, indeed, from matrimony by a most stem
oblivion: for not only do they withdraw from their still living husbands,
but they even introduce other wives to them in their own room'the husbands,
of course, smiling on it'all contact (with males), even as far as the kiss
of their sons, being forbidden them; and yet, with enduring practice, they
persevere in such a discipline of widowhood, which excludes the solace even
of holy affection.  These precepts has the devil given to his
servants, and he is heard! He challenges, forsooth, God's servants, by the
continence of his own, as if on equal terms! Continent are even the priests
of hell!  For he has found a way to ruin men _ even in good pursuits;
and with him it makes no difference to slay some by voluptuousness, some by
Chapter VII. The Death of a Husband is God's Call to the Widow to
Continence. Further Evidences from Scripture and from Heathenism.
To us continence has been pointed out by the Lord of salvation as an
instrument for attaining eternity,  and as a testimony of (our)
faith; as a commendation of this flesh of ours, which is to be sustained for
the "garment of immortality,"  which is one day to supervene; for
enduring, in fine, the will of God. Besides, reflect, I advise you, that
there is no one who is taken out of the world  but by the will of
God, if, (as is the case,) not even a leaf falls from off a tree without it.
The same who brings us into the world  must of necessity take us out
of it too. Therefore when, through the will of God, the husband is deceased,
the marriage likewise, by the will of God, deceases. Why should you restore
what God has put an end to? Why do you, by repeating the servitude of
matrimony, spurn the liberty which is offered you? "You have been bound to a
wife,"  sap the apostle; "seek not loosing. You have been loosed from
a wife;  seek not binding." For even if you do not "sin" in
re-marrying, still he says "pressure of the flesh ensues." 
Wherefore, so far as we can, let us love the opportunity of continence; as
soon as it offers itself, let us resolve to accept it, that what we have not
had strength  (to follow) in matrimony we may follow in widowhood.
The occasion must be embraced which puts an end to that which necessity
 commanded. How detrimental to faith, how obstructive to holiness,
second marriages are, the discipline of the Church and the prescription of
the apostle declare, when he suffers not men twice married to preside (over
a Church  ), when he would not grant a widow admittance into the
order unless she had been "the wife of one man; "  for it behoves
God's altar  to be set forth pure. That whole halo  which
encircles the Church is represented (as consisting) of holiness. Priesthood
is (a function) of widowhood and of celibacies among the nations. Of course
(this is) in conformity with the devil's principle of rivalry. For the king
of heathendom,  the chief pontiff,  to marry a second time is
unlawful. How pleasing must holiness be to God, when even His enemy affects
it!'not, of course, as having any affinity with anything good, but as
contumeliously affecting what is pleasing to  God the Lord.
Chapter VIII. Conclusion.
For, concerning the honours which widowhood enjoys in the sight of God,
there is a brief summary in one saying of His through the prophet: "Do
thou  justly to the widow and to the orphan; and come ye,  let
us reason, saith the Lord." These two names, left to the care of the divine
mercy, in proportion as they are destitute of human aid, the Father of all
undertakes to defend. Look how the widow's benefactor is put on a level with
the widow herself, whose champion shall "reason with the Lord!" Not to
virgins, I take it, is so great a gift given. Although in their case perfect
integrity and entire sanctity shall have the nearest vision of the face of
God, yet the widow has a task more toilsome, because it is easy not to crave
after that which you know not, and to turn away from what you have never had
to regret.  More glorious is the continence which is aware of its own
right, which knows what it has seen. The virgin may possibly be held the
happier, but the widow the more hardly tasked; the former in that she has
always kept "the good,"  the latter in that she has found "the good
for herself." In the former it is grace, in the latter virtue, that is
crowned. For some things there are which are of the divine liberality, some
of our own working. The indulgences granted by the Lord are regulated by
their own grace; the things which are objects of man's striving are attained
by earnest pursuit. Pursue earnestly, therefore, the virtue of continence,
which is modesty's agent; industry, which allows not women to be "wanderers;
"  frugality, which scorns the world.  Follow companies and
conversations worthy of God, mindful of that short verse, sanctified by the
apostle's quotation of it, "Ill interviews good morals do corrupt." 
Talkative, idle, winebibbing, curious tent-fellows,  do the very
greatest hurt to the purpose of widow-hood. Through talkativeness there
creep in words unfriendly to modesty; through idleness they seduce one from
strictness; through winebibbing they insinuate any and every evil; through
curiosity they convey a spirit of rivalry in lust. Not one of such women
knows how to speak of the good of single-husbandhood; for their "god," as
the apostle says, "is their belly; "  and so, too, what is neighbour
to the belly.
These considerations, dearest fellow-servant, I commend to you thus early,
 handled throughout superfluously indeed, after the apostle, but likely
to prove a solace to you, In that (if so it shall turn out  ) you
will cherish my memory in them.
Chapter I. Reasons Which Led to the Writing of This Second Book.
Very lately, best beloved fellow-servant in the Lord, I, as my ability
permitted, entered for your benefit at some length into the question what
course is to be followed by a holy woman when her marriage has (in whatever
way) been brought to an end. Let us now turn our attention to the next best
advice, in regard of human infirmity; admonished hereto by the examples of
certain, who, when an opportunity for the practice of Continence has been
offered them, by divorce, or by the decease of the husband, have not only
thrown away the opportunity of attaining so great a good, but not even in
their remarriage have chosen to be mindful of the rule that "above all 
they marry in the Lord." And thus my mind has been thrown into confusion, in
the fear that, having exhorted you myself to perseverance in single
husbandhood and widowhood, I may now, by the mention of precipitate 
marriages, put "an occasion of falling"  in your way. But if you are
perfect in wisdom, you know, of course, that the course which is the more
useful is the course which you must keep. But, inasmuch as that course is
difficult, and not without its embarrassments,  and on this account is
the highest aim of (widowed) life, I have paused somewhat (in my urging you
to it); nor would there have been any causes for my recurring to that point
also in addressing you, had I not by this time taken up a still graver
solicitude. For the nobler is the continence of the flesh which ministers to
widowhood, the more pardonable a thing it seems if it be not persevered in.
For it is then when things are difficult that their pardon is easy. But in
as far as marrying "in the Lord" is permissible, as being within our power,
so far more culpable is it not to observe that which you can observe. Add to
this the fact that the apostle, with regard to widows and the unmarried,
advises them to remain permanently in that state, when he says, "But I
desire all to persevere in (imitation of) my example: "  but touching
marrying "in the Lord," he no longer advises, but plainly  bids. 
Therefore in this case especially, if we do not obey, we run a risk, because
one may with more impunity neglect an "advice" than an "order; "in that the
former springs from counsel, and is proposed to the will (for acceptance or
rejection): the other descends from authority, and is bound to necessity. In
the former case, to disregard appears liberty, in the latter, contumacy.
Chapter II. Of the Apostle's Meaning in I Cor. VII. 12-14.
Therefore, when in these days a certain woman removed her marriage from the
pale of the Church, and united herself to a Gentile, and when I remembered
that this had in days gone by been done by others: wondering at either their
own waywardness or else the double-dealing  of their advisers, in that
there is no scripture which holds forth a licence of this deed,'"I
wonder," said I, "whether they flatter themselves on the ground of that
passage of the first (Epistle) to the Corinthians, where it is written: If
any of the brethren has an unbelieving wife, and she consents to the
matrimony, let him not dismiss her; similarly, let not a believing woman,
married to an unbeliever, if she finds her husband agreeable (to their
continued union), dismiss him: for the unbelieving husband is sanctified by
the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife by the believing husband; else
were your children unclean."  It may be that, by understanding
generally this monition regarding married believers, they think that licence
is granted (thereby) to marry even unbelievers. God forbid that he who thus
interprets (the passage) be wittingly ensnaring himself! But it is manifest
that this scripture points to those believers who may have been found by the
grace of God in (the state of) Gentile matrimony; according to the words
themselves: "If," it says, "any believer has an unbelieving wife; "it does
not say, "takes an unbelieving wife." It shows that it is the duty of one
who, already living in marriage with an unbelieving woman,  has
presently been by the grace of God converted, to continue with his wife; for
this reason, to be sure, in order that no one, after attaining to faith,
should think that he must turn away from a woman  who is now in some
sense an "alien" and "stranger."  Accordingly he subjoins withal a
reason, that "we are called in peace unto the Lord God; "and that "the
unbeliever may, through the use of matrimony, be gained by the believer."
 The very closing sentence of the period confirms (the supposition)
that this is thus to be understood. "As each," it says, "is called by the
Lord, so let him persevere."  But it is Gentiles who "are called," I
take it, not believers. But if he had been pronouncing absolutely, (in the
words under discussion,) touching the marriage of believers merely, (then)
had he (virtually) given to saints a permission to marry promiscuously. If,
however, he had given such a permission, he would never have subjoined a
declaration so diverse from and contrary to his own permission, saying: "The
woman, when her husband is dead, is free: let her marry whom. she wishes,
only in the Lord."  Here, at all events, there is no need for
reconsidering; for what there might have been reconsideration about, the
Spirit has oracularly declared. For fear we should make an ill use of what
he says, "Let her marry whom she wishes," he has added, "only in the
Lord," that is, in the name of the Lord, which is, undoubtedly, "to a
Christian." That "Holy Spirit,"  therefore, who prefers that widows
and unmarried women should persevere in their integrity, who exhorts us to a
copy  of himself, prescribes no other manner of repeating marriage
except "in the Lord: "to this condition alone does he concede the
foregoing  of continence. "Only," he says, "in the Lord: "he has
added to his law a weight'"only." Utter that word with what tone and manner
you may, it is weighty: it both bids and advises; both enjoins and exhorts;
both asks and threatens. It is a concise,  brief sentence; and by its
own very brevity, eloquent. Thus is the divine voice wont (to speak), that
you may instantly understand, instantly observe. For who but could
understand that the apostle foresaw many dangers and wounds to faith in
marriages of this kind, which he prohibits? sad that he took precaution, in
the first place, against the defilement of holy flesh in Gentile flesh? At
this point some one says, "What, then, is the difference between him who is
chosen by the Lord to Himself in (the state of) Gentile marriage, and him
who was of old (that is, before marriage) a believer, that they should not
be equally cautious for their flesh?'whereas the one is kept from marriage
with an unbeliever, the other bidden to continue in it. Why, if we are
defiled by a Gentile, is not the one disjoined, just as the other is not
bound? "I will answer, if the Spirit give (me ability); alleging, before all
(other arguments), that the Lord holds it more pleasing that matrimony
should not be contracted, than that it should at all be dissolved: in short,
divorce He prohibits, except for the cause of fornication; but continence He
commends. Let the one, therefore, have the necessity of continuing; the
other, further, even the power of not marrying. Secondly, if, according to
the Scripture, they who shall be "apprehended"  by the faith in (the
state of) Gentile marriage are not defiled (thereby) for this reason, that,
together with themselves, others  also are sanctified: without doubt,
they who have been sanctified before marriage, if they commingle themselves
with "strange flesh,"  cannot sanctify that (flesh) in (union with)
which they were not "apprehended." The grace of God, moreover, sanctifies
that which it finds. Thus, what has not been able to be sanctified is
unclean; what is unclean has no part with the holy, unless to defile and
slay it by its own (nature).
Chapter III. Remarks on Some of the "Dangers and Wounds" Referred to in the
If these things are so, it is certain that believers contracting marriages
with Gentiles are guilty of fornication,  and are to be excluded from
all communication with the brotherhood, in accordance with the letter of the
apostle, who says that "with persons of that kind there is to be no taking
of food even."  Or shall we "in that day"  produce (our)
marriage certificates before the Lord's tribunal, and allege that a marriage
such as He Himself has forbidden has been duly contracted? What is
prohibited (in the passage just referred to) is not "adultery; "It is not
"fornication." The admission of a strange man (to your couch) less violates
"the temple of God,"  less commingles "the members of Christ" with
the members of an adulteress.  So far as I know, "we are not our own,
but bought with a price; "  and what kind of price? The blood of
God.  In hurting this flesh of ours, therefore, we hurt Him
directly.  What did that man mean who said that "to wed a
'stronger' was indeed a sin, but a very small one? "whereas in other cases
(setting aside the injury done to the flesh which pertains to the Lord)
every voluntary sin against the Lord is great. For, in as far as there was a
power of avoiding it, in so far is it burdened with the charge of contumacy.
Let us now recount the other dangers or wounds (as I have said) to faith,
foreseen by the apostle; most grievous not to the flesh merely, but likewise
to the spirit too. For who would doubt that faith undergoes a daily process
of obliteration by unbelieving intercourse? "Evil confabulations corrupt
good morals; "  how much more fellowship of life, and indivisible
intimacy! Any and every believing woman must of necessity obey God. And how
can she serve two lords  'the Lord, and her husband'a Gentile to
boot? For in obeying a Gentile she will carry out Gentile
practices,'personal attractiveness, dressing of the head, worldly 
elegancies, baser blandishments, the very secrets even of matrimony tainted:
not, as among the saints, where the duties of the sex are discharged with
honour (shown) to the very necessity (which makes them incumbent), with
modesty and temperance, as beneath the eyes of God.
Chapter IV. Of the Hindrances Which an Unbelieving Husband Puts in His
But let her see to (the question) how she discharges her duties to her
husband. To the Lord, at all events, she is unable to give satisfaction
according to the requirements of discipline; having at her side a servant of
the devil, his lord's agent for hindering the pursuits and duties of
believers: so that if a station  is to be kept, the husband at
daybreak makes an appointment with his wife to meet him at the baths; if
there are fasts to be observed, the husband that same day holds a convivial
banquet; if a charitable expedition has to be made, never is family business
more urgent. For who would suffer his wife, for the sake of visiting the
brethren, to go round from street to street to other men's, and indeed to
all the poorer, cottages? Who will willingly bear her being taken from his
side by nocturnal convocations, if need so be? Who, finally, will without
anxiety endure her absence all the night long at the paschal solemnities?
Who will, without some suspicion of his own, dismiss her to attend that
Lord's Supper which they defame? Who will suffer her to creep into prison to
kiss a martyr's bonds? nay, truly, to meet any one of the brethren to
exchange the kiss? to offer water for the saints' feet?  to snatch
(somewhat for them) from her food, from her cup? to yearn (after them)? to
have (them) in her mind? If a pilgrim brother arrive, what hospitality for
him in an alien home? If bounty is to be distributed to any, the granaries,
the storehouses, are foreclosed.
Chapter V. Of Sin and Danger Incurred Even with a "Tolerant" Husband.
"But some husband does endure our (practices), and not annoy us." Here,
therefore, there is a sin; in that Gentiles know our (practices); in that we
are subject to the privity of the unjust; in that it is thanks to them that
we do any (good) work. He who "endures" (a thing) cannot be ignorant of it;
or else, if he is kept in ignorance because he does not endure (it), he is
feared. But since Scripture commands each of two things'namely, that we work
for the Lord without the privity of any second person,  and without
pressure upon ourselves, it matters not in which quarter you sin; whether in
regard to your husband's privity, if he be tolerant, or else in regard of
your own affliction in avoiding his intolerance. "Cast not," saith He, "your
pearls to swine, lest they trample them to pieces, and turn round and
overturn you also."  "Your pearls" are the distinctive marks 
of even your daily conversation. The more care you take to conceal them, the
more liable to suspicion you will make them, and the more exposed to the
grasp of Gentile curiosity. Shall you escape notice when you sign your bed,
(or) your body; when you blow away some impurity;  when even by night
you rise to pray? Will you not be-thought to be engaged in some work of
magic? Will not your husband know what it is which you secretly taste before
(taking) any food? and if he knows it to be bread, does he not believe it to
be that (bread) which it is said to be? And will every (husband), ignorant
of the reason of these things, simply endure them, without murmuring,
without suspicion whether it be bread or poison? Some, (it is true,) do
endure (them); but it is that they may trample on, that they may make sport
of such women; whose secrets they keep in reserve against the danger which
they believe in, in case they ever chance to be hurt: they do endure
(wives), whose dowries, by casting in their teeth their (Christian) name,
they make the wages of silence; while they threaten them, forsooth, with a
suit before some spy  as arbitrator! which most women, not
foreseeing, have been wont to discover either by the extortion of their
property, or else by the loss of their faith.
Chapter VI. Danger of Having to Take Part in Heathenish Rites, and Revels.
The handmaid of God  dwells amid alien labours; and among these
(labours), on all the memorial days  of demons, at all solemnities of
kings, at the beginning of the year, at the beginning of the month, she will
be agitated by the odour of incense. And she will have to go forth (from her
house) by a gate wreathed with laurel, and hung with lanterns, as from some
new consistory of public lusts; she will have to sit with her husband
ofttimes in club meetings, oft-times in taverns; and, wont as she was
formerly to minister to the "saints," will sometimes have to minister to the
"unjust."  And will she not hence recognise a prejudgment of her own
damnation, in that she tends them whom (formerly) she was expecting to
judge?  whose hand will she yearn after? of whose cup will she
partake? What will her husband sing  to her, or she to her husband?
From the tavern, I suppose, she who sups upon God  will hear
somewhat! From hell what mention of God (arises)? what invocation of Christ?
Where are the fosterings of faith by the interspersion of the Scriptures (in
conversation)? Where the Spirit? where refreshment? where the divine
benediction? All things are strange, all inimical, all condemned; aimed by
the Evil One for the attrition of salvation!
Chapter VII. The Case of a Heathen Whose Wife is Converted After Marriage
with Him Very Different, and Much More Hopeful.
If these things may happen to those women also who, having attained the
faith while in (the state of) Gentile matrimony, continue in that state,
still they are excused, as having been "apprehended by God"  in these
very circumstances; and they are bidden to persevere in their married state,
and are sanctified, and have hope of "making a gain"  held out to
them. "If, then, a marriage of this kind (contracted before conversion)
stands ratified before God, why should not (one contracted after conversion)
too go prosperously forward, so as not to be thus harassed by pressures, and
straits, and hindrances, and defilements, having already (as it has) the
partial sanction of divine grace? "Because, on the one hand, the wife
 in the former case, called from among the Gentiles to the exercise of
some eminent heavenly virtue, is, by the visible proofs of some marked
(divine) regard, a terror to her Gentile husband, so as to make him less
ready to annoy her, less active in laying snares for her, less diligent in
playing the spy over her. He has felt "mighty works;  he has seen
experimental evidences; he knows her changed for the better: thus even he
himself is, by his fear,  a candidate for God.  Thus men of
this kind, with regard to whom the grace of God has established a familiar
intimacy, are more easily "gained." But, on the other hand, to descend into
forbidden ground unsolicited and spontaneously, is (quite) another thing.
Things which are not pleasing to the Lord, of course offend the Lord, are of
course introduced by the Evil One. A sign hereof is this fact, that it is
wooers only who find the Christian name pleasing; and, accordingly, some
heathen men are found not to shrink in horror from Christian women, just in
order to exterminate them, to wrest them away, to exclude them from the
faith. So long as marriage of this kind is procured by the Evil One, but
condemned by God, you have a reason why you need not doubt that it can in no
case be carded to a prosperous end.
Chapter VIII. Arguments Drawn Even from Heathenish Laws to Discountenance
Marriage with Unbelievers. The Happiness of Union Between Partners in the
Faith Enlarged on in Conclusion.
Let us further inquire, as if we were in very deed inquisitors of divine
sentences, whether they be lawfully (thus condemned). Even among the
nations, do not all the strictest lords and most tenacious of discipline
interdict their own slaves from marrying out of their own house?'in order,
of course, that they may not run into lascivious excess, desert their duties
purvey their lords' goods to strangers. Yet, further, have not (the nations)
decided that such women as have, after their lords'  formal warning,
persisted in intercourse with other men's slaves, may be claimed as slaves?
Shall earthly disciplines be held more strict than heavenly prescripts; so
that Gentile women, if united to strangers, lose their liberty; ours conjoin
to themselves the devil's slaves, and continue in their (former) position?
Forsooth, they will deny that any formal warning has been given them by the
Lord through His own apostle! 
What am I to fasten on as the cause of this madness, except the weakness of
faith, ever prone, to the concupiscences of worldly  joys?'which,
indeed, is chiefly found among the wealthier; for the more any is rich, and
inflated with the name of "matron," the more capacious house does she
require for her burdens, as it were a field wherein ambition may run its
course. To such the churches look paltry. A rich man is a difficult thing
(to find) in the house of God;  and if such an one is (found there),
difficult (is it to find such) unmarried. What, then, are they to do? Whence
but from the devil are they to seek a husband apt for maintaining their
sedan, and their mules, and their hair-curlers of outlandish stature? A
Christian, even although rich, would perhaps not afford (all) these. Set
before yourself, I beg of you, the examples of Gentiles. Most Gentile women,
noble in extraction and wealthy in property, unite themselves
indiscriminately with the ignoble and the mean, sought out for themselves
for luxurious, or mutilated for licentious, purposes. Some take up with
their own freedmen and slaves, despising public opinion, provided they may
but have (husbands) from whom to fear no impediment to their own liberty. To
a Christian believer it is irksome to wed a believer inferior to herself in
estate, destined as she will be to have her wealth augmented in the person
of a poor husband! For if it is "the pour," not the rich, "whose are the
kingdoms of the heavens,"  the rich will find more in the poor (than
she brings him, or than she would in the rich). She will be dowered with an
ampler dowry from the goods of him who is rich in God. Let her be on an
equality with him. on earth, who in the heavens will perhaps not be so. Is
there need for doubt, and inquiry, and repeated deliberation, whether he
whom God has entrusted with His own property  is fit for dotal
endowments?  Whence are we to find (words) enough fully to tell the
happiness of that marriage which the Church cements, and the oblation
confirms, and the benediction signs and seals; (which) angels carry back the
news of (to heaven), (which) the Father holds for ratified? For even on
earth children  do not rightly and lawfully wed without their
fathers' consent. What kind of yoke is that of two believers, (partakers) of
one hope, one desire,  one discipline, one and the same service? Both
(are) brethren, both fellow servants, no difference of spirit or of flesh;
nay, (they are) truly "two in one flesh."  Where the flesh is one,
one is the spirit ton. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves,
together perform their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, 
mutually sustaining. Equally (are they) both (found) in the Church of God;
equally at the banquet of God; equally in straits, in persecutions, in
refreshments. Neither hides (ought) from the other; neither shuns the other;
neither is troublesome to the other. The sick is visited, the indigent
relieved, with freedom. Alms (are given) without (danger of ensuing)
torment; sacrifices (attended) without scruple; daily diligence (discharged)
without impediment: (there is) no stealthy signing, no trembling greeting,
no mute benediction. Between the two echo psalms and hymns;  and they
mutually challenge each other which shall better chant to their Lord. Such
things when Christ sees and hears, He joys. To these He sends His own I
peace.  Where two (are), there withal (is) He Himself.  Where
He (is), there the Evil One is not.
These are the things which that utterance of the apostle has, beneath its
brevity, left to be understood by us. These things, if need shall be,
suggest to your own mind. By these turn yourself away from the examples of
some. To marry otherwise is, to believers, not "lawful; "is not
Marriage lawful, p. 39.
St. Peter was a married apostle, and the traditions of his wife which
connect her married life with Rome itself render it most surprising that
those who claim to be St. Peter's successors should denounce the marriage of
the clergy as if it were crime. The touching story, borrowed from Clement of
Alexandria, is related by Eusebius. "And will they," says Clement, "reject
even the apostles? Peter and Philip, indeed, had children; Philip also gave
his daughters in marriage. to husbands; and Paul does not demur, in a
certain Epistle, to mention his own wife, whom he did not take about with
him, in order to expedite his ministry the better." Of St. Peter and his
wife, Eusebius subjoins, "Such was the marriage of these blessed ones, and
such was their perfect affection." 
The Easterns to this day perpetuate the marriage of the clergy, and enjoin
it; but unmarried men only are chosen to be bishops. Even Rome relaxes her
discipline for the Uniats, and hundreds of her priesthood, therefore, live
in honourable marriage. Thousands live in secret marriage, but their wives
are dishonoured as "concubines." It was not till the eleventh century that
the celibate was enforced. In England it was never successfully imposed;
and, though the "priest's leman" was not called his wife (to the disgrace of
the whole system), she was yet honoured (see Chaucer), and often carried
herself too proudly.
The enormous evils of an enforced celibacy need not here be remarked upon.
The history of Sacerdotal Celibacy, by Henry C. Lea  of Philadelphia,
is compendious, and can be readily procured by all who wish to understand
what it is that this treatise of Tertullian's orthodoxy may best be used to
teach; viz., that we must not be wiser than God, even in our zeal for His
 [Written circa a.d. 207. Tertullian survived his wife; and we cannot
date these books earlier than about the time of his writing the De Pallio,
in the opinion of some.]
 Jam hinc.
 Posteritati; or, with Mr. Dodgson, "our future."s1.v4.a1.w4.b1.f7
 Doldium; alluding to certain laws respecting a widow's power of
receiving "in its entirety" her deceased husband's property.
 Fidei commissum.
 Luke xx. 36.
 Nulla neminem ' two negatives.
 See Matt. xxii. 23-33; Mark xii. 18-27; Luke xx. 27-40.
 Jam hinc. See beginning of Chapter.
 Orbi. Gen. i. 28.
 Gen. ii. 21, 22.
 "Fas," strictly divine law, opp. to "jus," human law; thus
"lawful," as opp. to "legal."
 Plurifariam matrimoniis uti. The neut. pl. "matrimonia" is
sometimes used for "wives." Comp. c. v.ad fin. and de Paen., c. xii. ad fin.
 Sermo, i.e., probably the personal Word. Comp. de Or., c. i. ad
 Rom. ii. 28, 29; Phil. iii. 3; Col. ii. 11.
 Saeculi. The meaning here seems clearly to be, as in the text, "the
Jewish age" or dispensation; as in the passages referred to ' 1 Cor. x. 11,
where it is ta telē tōn aiōnōn; and Heb. ix. 26, where again it is tōn
aiōnōn, the Jewish and all preceding ages being intended.
 "Jam hinc," i.e., apparently from the time of Christ's advent.
 Matt. xix. 5, 6.
 1 Cor. vii.
 Matt. x. 23; perhaps confused with xxiii. 34.
 Comp. de Idol., c. xxiii., and the note there on "se negant."
 i.e., in martyrdom, on the ground of that open confession.
 Non obest.
 Phil. iii. 13, 14.
 Laqueum = brochon (1 Cor. vii. 35), "a noose," "lasso" ("snare,"
Eng. ver.). "Laqueo trahuntur inviti" (Bengel).
 See note 13.
 Matt. xxvi. 41.
 Adulamur: "we fawn upon," or "caress," or "flatter." Comp. de
Paen., c. vi. sub init.: "flatter their own sweetness."
 "Firmum," opp. to "infirmam" above. In the passage there referred
to (Matt. xxvi. 41) the word is prothumon.
 Tuemur. Mr. Dodgson renders, "guard not."
 i.e., apparently second marriages: "disjunctis a matrimonio" can
scarcely include such as were never "juncti;" and comp. the "praemissis
 Comp. Phil. iv. 3; 2 Tim. ii. 19; Mal. iii. 16; and similar
 1 John i. 1; Luke xxiv. 39; John xx. 17.
 Or, "temporary."
 Caedere sumptum.
 Matt. vi. 28-30.
 Matt. vi. 26.
 Matt. vi. 31, 34.
 Comp. Phil. iv. 19; 1 Tim. vi. 8.
 Comp. 1 Cor. vii. 35, exp. in Eng. ver.
 Comp. c. iv. above "praemissis maritis;" "when their husbands have
preceded them (to glory)."
 Phil. i. 23; comp. de Pa., c. ix. ad fin.
 i.e., to get children.
 "Parricidiis." So Oehler seems to understand it.
 Luke xxi. 23; Matt. xxiv. 19.
 "Expiasse" ' a rare but Ciceronian use of the word.
 Luke xvii. 28, 29.
 Saeculi. Comp. 1 Cor. x. 11; but the Greek there is, ta telē tōn
aiōnōn. By the "blindness," Tertullian may refer to Gen. xix. 11.
 Or, "short" (Eng. ver.); 1 Cor. vii. 29. o kairo
 ""Matrimonia", " neut. pl. again for the fem., the abstract for the
concrete. See c. ii., "to multiply wives," and the note there. In the Greek
(1 Cor. vii. 29) it is : but the ensuing Chapter shows
that Tertullian refers the passage to women as well.
 Comp. de Pa., xiii., and Matt. xix. 12. Comp. too, de Ex. Cast., c.
 i.e., Gentile women.
 Oehler marks this as a question.
 Matt. iii. 12.
 Comp. Rev. xii. 9, and de Bapt., 1.
 Gehennae; comp. de Paen., c. xii. ad init.
 i.e., eternal life; comp. "consecutio aeternitatis," de Bapt., c.
 1 Cor. xv. 53; 2 Cor. v. 4.
 "Matrimonio," or "by matrimony." Comp. 1 Cor. vii. 27: dedesai
rendering, it will be seen, is not verbatim.
 "Matrimonio," or "by matrimony." Comp. 1 Cor. vii. 27: dedesai
rendering, it will be seen, is not verbatim.
 1 Cor. vii. 28.
 Or, "been able" ' valuminus. But comp. c. vi.
 See c. iii., "quod autem necessitas praestat, depretiat ipsa," etc.
 1 Tim. ii. 2; Tit. i. 6.
 1 Tim. v. 9, 10.
 Comp. de Cor., c. i., "et de martyrii candida melius coronatus, "
and Oehler's note.
 Or, "Pontifex maximus."
 Or, "has been decreed by."
 So Oehler reads, with Rhenanus and the mss. The other edd. have the
plural in each case, as the LXX. in the passage referred to (Isa. i. 17,
 So Oehler reads, with Rhenanus and the mss. The other edd. have the
plural in each case, as the LXX. in the passage referred to (Isa. i. 17,
 Desideraveris. Oehler reads "desideres."
 Comp. c. iii.
 1 Tim. v. 13.
 A verse said to be Menander's, quoted by St. Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 33;
quoted again, but somewhat differently rendered, by Tertullian in b. i. c.
 i.e., here "female companions."
 Phil. iii. 19.
 Comp. c. i.
 i.e., if I be called before you; comp. c. i.
 Potissimum; Gr. "monon," 1 Cor. vii. 39.
 Ps. lxix. 23 (according to the "Great Bible" version, ed. 1539. This
is the translation found in the "Book of Common Prayer"). Comp. Rom. xiv.
 1 Cor. vii. 6-8.
 Exerte. Comp. the use of "exertus" in de Bapt., cc. xii. and xviii.
 1 Cor. vii. 39, where the monon en Kuriō is on the same footing as
comp. c. ix. and
Rom. vii. 1 (kn the Eng. ver. 2).
 Praevaricationem. Comp. de Paen., c. iii.: "Dissimulator et
praevaricator perspicaciae suae (Deus) non est."
 1 Cor. vii. 12-14, in sense, not verbatim.
 Comp. Eph. ii. 12, 19.
 Comp. 1 Cor. vii. 15, 16, and Phil. iii. 8, in Vulg., for the word
 1 Cor. vii. 17, inexactly given, like the two preceding citations.
 1 Cor. vii. 39, not verbatim.
 i.e., St. Paul, who, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, is regarded by
Tertullian as merged, so to speak, in the Spirit.
 "Exemplum," a rarer use of the word, but found in Cic. The
reference is to 1 Cor. vii. 7.
 Districta (? = dis-stricta, "doubly strict").
 Comp. Phil. iii. 12, and c. vii. ad init.
 See 1 Cor. vii. 14.
 Comp. Jude 7, and above, "an alien and stranger," with the
 Comp. de Pa., c. xii. (mid.), and the note there.
 Comp. 1 Cor. v. 11.
 The translator has ventured to read "die illo" here, instead of
Oehler's "de illo."
 1 Cor. iii. 16, comp. vi. 19.
 1 Cor. vi. 15.
 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20.
 See the last reference, and Acts xx. 28, where the mss. vary
between Theou and Kuriou.
 De proximo. Comp. de Pa., cc. v. and vii. "Deo de proximo
amicus;" "de proximo in Deum peccat."
 Comp. b. i. c. viii. sub. fin., where Tertullian quotes the same
passage, but renders it somewhat differently.
 Comp. Matt. vi. 24; Luke xvi. 13.
 For the meaning of "statio," see de Or., c. xix.
 1 Tim. v. 10.
 Comp. Matt. vi. 1-4.
 Matt. vii. 6.
 Comp. de Idol., c. xi. sub fin.
 "Speculatorem;" also = "an" executioner. Comp. vi. 27.
 Comp. Luke i. 38, and de Cult. Fem., b. ii. c. i. ad init.
 Nominibus; al. honoribus.
 Sanctis ' inquis. Comp. St. Paul's antithesis of adikōn and agiōn
in 1 Cor. vi. 1.
 See 1 Cor. vi. 2,3.
 See Eph. v. 19.
 So Oehler understands (apparently) the meaning to be. The
translator is inclined to think that, adopting Oehler's reading, we may
perhaps take the "Dei" with "aliquid," and the "coenans" absolutely, and
render, "From the tavern, no doubt, while supping, she will hear some
(strain) of God," in allusion to the former sentence, and to such passages
as Ps. cxxxvii. 4 (in the LXX. it is cxxxvi. 4).
 Comp. Phil. iii. 12, and c. ii. sub fin.
 Comp. 1 Cor. vii. 16, and 1 Pet. iii. 1.
 Tertullian here and in other places appears, as the best editors
maintain, to use the masculine gender for the feminine.
 Magnalia. Comp. 2 Cor. xii. 12.
 Comp. de Or., c. iii. (med.), "angelorum candidati;" and de Bapt.,
c. x. sub fin., "candidatus remissionis."
 Oehler refers us to Tac., Ann., xii. 53, and the notes on that
passage. (Consult especially Orelli's edition.)
 The translator inclines to think that Tertullian, desiring to keep
up the parallelism of the last-mentioned case, in which (see note 1) the
slave's master had to give the "warning," means by "domino" here, not "the
Lord," who on his hypothesis is the woman's Master, not the slave's, but the
"lord" of the "unbeliever," i.e., the devil: so that the meaning would be
(with a bitter irony, especially if we compare the end of the last Chapter,
where "the Evil One" is said to "procure" these marriages, so far is he from
"condemning" them): "Forsooth, they" (i.e., the Christian women) "will deny
that a formal warning has been given they by the lord:" (of the unbelievers,
i.e., the Evil One) "through an apostle of his!" IF the other interpretation
be correct, the reference will be to c. ii. above.
 Matt. xix. 23, 24; Mark x. 23, 24; Luke xviii. 24, 25; 1 Cor. i.
 Matt. v. 3; but Tertullian has omitted "spiritu," which he inserts
in de Pa., c. xi., where he refers to the same passage. In Luke vi. 20 there
is no tō pneumati.
 Invecta. Comp. de Pa., c. xiii. ad init.
 Comp. de Or., c. v. ad fin.; de Pa., c. ix. ad fin.; ad Ux., i. c.
v. ad init.
 Gen. ii. 24; Matt. xix. 5; Mark x. i; Eph. v. 31.
 Col. iii. 16.
 Eph. v. 19; Col. iii. 16.
 Comp. John xiv. 27.
 Matt. xviii. 20.
 Comp. 1 Cor. x. 23.
 Eccl. Hist., Book III. cap. xxx.
 Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, Co., second edition, enlarged, 1884.
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