A Just and Seasonable REPREHENSION OF NAKED Breasts AND SHOULDERS. Written by a Grave and Learned Papist. Translated by Edward Cooke, Esquire. With a Preface by Mr. Richard Baxter.

LONDON, Printed for Jonathan Edwin, at the three Roses in Ludgate-street. 1678.

LICENSED,

RO. L'ESTRANGE.
October 25. 1677.

THE BOOKSELLER TO THE LADIES.

Ladies,

THE Prerogative of your Sex, together with the indulgent Civility of England, which entitles you to the greatest Respect and Deference, obliges me to the Ceremony of this little Address; both as a vindication of my self from any Design of affronting you, and a demonstration that the following Dis­course is the pure Effect of the most real Tenderness for your Honour, Fame, and Reputation.

I cannot conceive (my intentions being wholly innocent) that this will displease the Vertuous, who must of necessity abhor both the Infamy and the Reproaches of those who are the blemishes of their Sex, from which this is intended to secure them. And for the Vitious, my Concern as well [Page] as Esteem runs too low to afford them any Apology, since I am satisfied, that however they may admire their own Nakedness and Undress, they are not capable of a Passion for the greatest Beauty in the World, Naked Truth.

And now, fair Ladies, that my Vi­sit may not importune you, I submit the following Papers to your censure, with some degrees of confidence, that your own Innocence will approve them, and their Innocence and great Devotion to serve you, will at least ob­tain a pardon for their want of what the World calls Courtship, but what is in truth most commonly designing Flattery, as well as for the Confi­dence of,

Ladies,
Your most humble Servant, Jonathan Edwin.

THE PREFACE.

IT will be perhaps objected, upon the first view of this following Treatise, why does this man Pre­face to that which is written by a Papist? I answer, Both because it is not Popery, but Gods truth; and be­cause it shall shame you the more if you disobey. Will any of you now that pro­fess the Protestant Reformation, and pure Christian Religion, at once cry out against Popery, and all that you think doth savour of it, and also wilfully con­tinue in such shameful Practises as Pa­pists thus honestly write against? Will any that pretend to Christian Disci­pline, and to have Church-Communi­on to be kept pure, come thither in such a Dress a Papists drive men for from their Communion! O, self-condemna­tion is commoner than many think!

[Page] I have been long blamed my self, for not preaching and writing more against such sinful Fashions. My Reason was, that our Hearers have still greater things to hear of; and most that are guilty of these, are guilty of so much greater heart-distempers, as must or­derly be first healed. Could we bring them to the true fear and love of God, and sense of their everlasting concerns, and the Vanity of the World, they would easilier correct their Fashions of themselves. And we have so many quarrelsome Hearers, that I am still a­fraid of so preaching, as may tempt the ungodly to think, that such Fashions are the chief matter in which we differ from them: It is to the Faith of Christ in seriousness, and to the love of God and Holiness, and to the practical Belief of the life to come, to the contempt of the opposing tempting World, and the mor­tifying of sinful fleshly Lusts, and to love and do good to all men to their power, and all their life to prepare for death and judgment; it is to this that we earnestly perswade men. And I am [Page] afraid, lest when I mention some Fashion, Recreation, or controverted thing, they should think that this is all our diffe­rence.

But yet no sin is to be made light of, especially when it is grown common; and more, when people otherwise sober are defiled by it; and yet more, when it is grown into the reputation of Innocent, and defended against all motions to re­pentance; and most of all, after God's dreadful judgments, yea and while they still continue.

I confess I have said and written over and over abundance more against mens greater and more dangerous Pride, viz. Pride of seeming Wisdom, of seem­ing Holiness, and of worldly Greatness, Wealth, and Honours, than of these little feminine and childish sorts of Pride of Fashions and Apparel: For I thought these below the temptations of such as pretend much to Reason; and it irked me to talk much of this in Books or Pulpits, to persons of such childish toy­ing dispositions, while they and others wanted the deep sense of those greater [Page] matters, which would best call off their minds from these. But being invited to preface this Treatise (translated by another out of French) I shall trye your patience with my (in this kind) unusual freedom of speech.

I must say, that had I my will, four sorts of Fashions should be altered: viz. 1. The nakedness of Women, treated of in this Book. 2. Their monstrous super­fluity of Cloth or silk that must drag af­ter them, or be carried by another, or fardelled behind them. 3. Their inor­dinate late Pride and laced gaudiness. 4. And especially the monstrous Periwigs of men, with somewhat like them now also used by Women.

As to the three first as set together, besides what is said in the following Trea­tise, I humbly desire all that believe the sacred Scriptures, seriously to think of these things following.

1. How unlike is such a Garb to that of Christ and his old Disciples? Is it the Badge of one that taketh up the Cross, or ever well knew a crucified Christ?

2. It is not the discovery of a sinfully [Page] diseased mind? It is not without a cause. And what inward cause would you have men think that it proceeds from? Out of the abundance of the heart come out actions as well as our words: Doth your inordinate gaudery signifie mortificati­on, gravity, a continual regard to the eye of God, or a regard to grave and ho­ly persons, more than to the eyes of the proud, worldly, or lascivious? I know young people will say, They must be mar­ried, and therefore may invite desires: and I know that God hath put some de­grees of natural lust into Men and Wo­men for the continued propagation of Mankind: But our highest Faculty, Rea­son, with all wise men, will here claim the last judgment, and the mastery of sense, and therefore you should recom­mend your selves principally to mens Reason: and our highest interest (holi­ness and salvation) must make all fleshly interest vail: And therefore if you would be desirable to any wise man, it must be most by wisdom, meekness, and a holy frame of mind and life; and not by any thing contrary hereto.

[Page] 3. Let but your own consciences judge of those words, 1 Pet. 3. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Wives be in subjection to your own Hus­bands, that if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of their Wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear; whose adorning let it not be that outward a­dorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of Gold, and of putting on of Apparel, (that is a curious Dress) but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corrupti­ble, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price: For after this man­ner in the old time, the holy Women also who trusted in God adorned them­selves.

4. Do you not cross your own designs; which is, to be valued? If pride and vanity be a disgrace, why will you pub­lickly disgrace your selves? If you hear one say of you, Yonder goeth a proud, a vain, or an empty person, you would take it ill: And have Actions, your own [Page] Actions, no tongues nor sense? Say not that of your selves which you cannot bear from others: Pin not such a re­proach on your own backs or breasts: Or if you will needs go your selves a wooing, keep to these few reasonable Rules: 1. Let it not be your every days work, and that in the open Streets and Churches. 2. Let not married Wo­men go so, that are provided already. 3. Teach not your Children to go so, that are not marriageable.

5. Poor souls, you lay snares (as this Treatise tells you) for your selves as well as others! If you become a bait to sensual men, they will gape after you, and become also snares to you: and when their flatteries have won upon your pas­sion and facil minds, what have you got­ten by it? If you escape the damning sin of Fornication, perhaps you have won a sensual Husband, who may shortly hate you, and make you weary of your life, or by the like allurement grow as fond of others, as he was of you.

6. Will you but think what that Flesh is which you are adorning? When the [Page] Surgeon shall dissect your Corps, and open your loathsome Entrails, or when it is laid out for the Coffin, or laid to rot in a darksome Grave, where then is Naked Beauty, or the glory of your Ornaments? Do you not still foresee this day? How can you be so blinded, or cast asleep, as to forget it? What a change will the Small Pox, or a consuming sickness make of that body that you so proudly dress? Cry, saith the Lord to Isaiah, All flesh is grass! and yet flesh will not know it self, nor foresee its end.

7. Do you think that this visible Pride is suitable to Gods late dealings with us? and is it any where less excu­sable than in London? Hath God brought down your Pomp and Wealth so dreadfully by Plague and Flames, and yet are your minds no more brought down? Can you remember what a sight London was in its Ruines; can you think how the Carcasses of men and wo­men were heaped one upon another in Pits, and yet be as vain and proud as ever? Is there not more general gaw­dry in London, more vanity of Fashion, [Page] than there was before these dreadful Judgments? Do you not yet cry out of Common Poverty? and is all this no­thing to take us down? Doth not God rather call us to humbling, and fasting, and sackcloth in our repentance?

8. Are not you (among other unhum­bled persons) the Prognosticks of our continued or increased miseries? putting considerate men in fear, lest so impeni­tent a City should be yet more misera­ble?

9. Do not the very Quakers shame you, that have so long cryed down your pride? and though they mix their er­rours and follies, may not they join with the many years warning of faithful Preachers in witnessing against you.

10. And is it not a horrid aggrava­tion of Pride and Superfluities, that at the same time, and in the same Cities, thousands of poor Christians are ready to perish for want of necessary food? Me­thinks all, or some of these Considerati­ons, should quickly and easily resolve all sober serious Christians, to be no more conformable to the Pride of sinners, nor [Page] to desire to wear the Badge of their enor­mity or folly.

Were I not very backward to say much of such matters, I should fully tell, at least our ordinary Citizens, my mind; that will presume to imitate the Great ones and Gallants, in the Fashion of monstrous Periwigs. I speak not against the use of such as are like a modest mans hair, worn for any necessary lawful use. But I confess I think that ordinary Citi­zens should bethink them in a time when thousands are in distressing wants, whether the price of these Periwigs, and such other vanities, would not be more comfortably reviewed at last, if it had been given to relieve the needy.

Most of the Objections that you use to make are answered in the following Book. One only I will adde, and answer. I hear some say, If religious people go not in the common Fashions of the Times, they will be taken for humou­rists; and worse than so, for such as are distinguishing themselves from o­thers, to make a Party.

Answ. 1. There can no duty be done, [Page] or sin avoided, which some men may not turn to matter of Calumny. 2. There is no Reason for this Objection here: As the Bishops and conformable Clergy go in a Dress that's plain and grave, and countenance none of these immodest or monstrous Fashions, so many of the Lai­ty go soberly and gravely, without any note of differing Parties. 3. The truth of the case I fear is here, Pride maketh men loth to be accounted of the lower or poor­er sort; and therefore what ever Fa­shion the Richer and Ruling sort take up, is imitated as far as they are able by the Lower; even by Servants, and by some that are in want.

And if any should be guilty of this sin­ful Excess, who borrow and live on other mens Money, it is a heinous aggravati­on of their sin and shame. And if any such fall into poverty, it greatly harden­eth men against compassionating or re­lieving them, when they lived in the Garb of the rich before. And its just with God, that they that must needs have Superfluities, should want Neces­saries.

[Page] I wish the Readers to make so much use of this Treatise of a sober Papist, as the evidence of truth therein be speaketh. And I humbly offer these two Motions to all that regard my judgment.

1. That all religious sober persons, men and women will agree to avoid all immo­dest Fashions, and gross Superfluities and Gawdery, and not to affect Conformity in Apparel with them that are contrary minded; but imitate the ancient decent Gravity.

2. That yet none take occasion by this to expect that all Persons should be attired alike: nor grow too censorious of those that continue some Fashions which we could wish they did reform, because we may be ignorant of their case and reasons; and if they are insufficient, we must remember that Education, Prejudice, Company, and o­ther Temptations, may seduce well-mean­ing Persons in such Matters. But a Soul truly devoted to God, and willing to know his Will, and to do it when we know it, is of absolute necessity to our Salvation.

R. BAXTER.

The First Part. That Naked Breasts and Shoulders are much blame-worthy and of­fensive.

I.

IT IS sufficient ground for any good man, when he sees the sensual sort of men allow and approve of a doubtful thing, to conclude, that a Christian ought much to suspect it, if not to avoid and condemn it: For certainly▪ none in Europe can be ignorant that the world is an irreconcileable Ene­my to Jesus Christ, and that his sen­itments are so opposite to its Max­imes, that it is above possibility to observe the laws of one, and not to violate those of the other. [Page 2] And as the Christian should only be animated by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, as the world does alwayes follow the spirit of the Devil, it is evident that Christians ought to fly from what the sinful world most eagerly pursues, blame what it Authorizes, and have the ex­treamest aversion for that, to which it does most passionately make its Court.

II.

WE find indeed by lamen­table, if I may not say fatal, experience, that the world too much allowes of nakedness in women; and therefore we may the more boldly disapprove of it, or rather we ought to condemn it, and with so much the greater zeal set our selves against this faulty abuse, as it is strength'ned through a long use, and now pass'd into a custom so general, that it is become common almost to all women, and maids of all [Page 3] sorts of conditions; and hath spread it self abroad into most parts of the Earth, and also into all manner of places.

III.

IT IS not only in particular ses, in Balls, in Chambers of en­tertainment, and in the walks, that Women do appear with na­ked Breasts, but there are those, who, by a strange kind of temeri­ty, do even come to triumph as it were over Jesus Christ himself, at the feet of his Altars: and as if the Devil was resolv'd to be serv'd by them, not only to Strike at the Sanctity of Churches; but likewise to violate the immunity and priviledge of them: they come thither to wound the eyes of the most innocent and just, and to give death to those who are yet but weak and staggering in Vertue. Men do retire themselves in Temples, as in Asylum's, where Satan scarce dares to attacque [Page 4] them, and where he can very sel­dom get any conquest over them; but that which he cannot do by himself, he effects by the women he brings thither▪ and who by the shameful nakedness of their necks, arms, and shoulders, at­tack, wound, and vanquish those who think themselves in safety, and thus make the Devil triumph even in those places that are de­stin'd to the triumph of Jesus Christ.

IV.

THE very Tribunals of Penance, which ought to be wet with the tears of those worldly women, are prophaned by their nakedness; and the Angels, who with respect and fear assist at the Holy Table, do tremble through indignation and horror to see them come thi­ther in a posture not only immo­dest, but sometimes impudent and lascivious.

V.

I DO not marvel that the world applauds this disorder, because it is its self the Author of it; but I cannot conceive how Persons of an honest and sincere integrity are able to remain in silence, and suf­fer it without speaking, and with­out pouring forth their laments, as if they had neither mouth, nor Piety. Will it not be said, that there is a publick prohibition to be scandalized at such indecent objects? or will it not be thought that our God can see no more than those false Divinities of the Hea­thens, who had eyes, but yet could not behold those who came to pay their adorations to them in their Temples? From whence spring we! and what can we hope for from our silence, and our weak­ness! since we do know the greatness of the evil, why do we not endeavour to apply the reme­dy?

VI.

IF it be true, as it is I think be­yond any to doubt, that a modest woman is equally agreeable to God and men; it is not less certain, that a woman without modesty must needs displease men, as she is her self displeasing to Almighty God. Or to speak in the language of the Apocrypha, Ecclesiasticus 26. 15. Gratia super gratiam mulier sancta & pudora­ta. if it be true, that it is grace upon grace for a woman to be modestly cloathed, and to shew forth the marks of her holiness by her decent purity; 'tis questionless then a double crime for a woman to be fashion'd after the mode of this world, and so to bring her In­nocence into dispute through her immodest nakedness; because she her self not only sins against shame, but causes others also to sin against purity, and at the same time that she renders her self suspected, she is labouring with the Devil to make them so too.

VII.

THE Apostle Saint Paul foresaw all this,1 Tim. 2. 9. Similiter & mulieres in habitu ornato cum verecun­dia & sobrietate or­nantes se, & non in tortis crinibus, aut au­ro, aut margaritis vel veste pretiosa: sed quod decet mulieres promit­tentes pietatem per o­pera bona. and for a Remedy, he exhorts the VVo­men not to appear in the Churches but in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and so­briety, not with broi­dered Hair, or Gold, or Pearls, or costly Array, but (which becom­eth Women professing godliness,) to have such Garments as may te­stifie their Piety, and such a Car­riage and Behaviour as may be a proof, or at least a mark of the holiness of their Actions. With­out doubt, the Women ought to study how to follow exactly the counsel of the Apostle, and the Men ought to take care that it be observed, since it is no less profitable to the one, than to the other. Nevertheless the Women violate it without any scruple, [Page 8] and the Men see them do so with­out emotion.

VIII.

BUT however, let us labour to imitate the zeal of Saint Chryso­stome, Chrysos. in cap. 2. 1. ad tim. and if we cannot prevent this disorder, let us strive with him to make these Women know how great their fault is, in com­ing to Church in such undecent Habit; and, if I may presume to say so, as it were half naked. Do you come into the House of God as to a Ball, sayes that great man to them? do you come into the Sanctuary to make your Con­quests there, and there to satisfie your sensuality? do you come thither to attaque God or men? and don't you think that you must once be carried thither in a Coffin to serve for food to worms? VVhat? does this pomp, this soft and wanton Delicacy, this affe­cted Nakedness any whit suit with, or become the state of Sup­pliants [Page 9] and Criminals? Are they befitting persons that ought to beg for Grace and Mercy? and are these good dispositions to weep for your sins, and to ob­tain the pardon of them?

IX.

Retrieve your selves then, and get out of this besotted blindness, ye vain and worldly VVomen! Slaves to the Age, and Idolizers of Vanity, Remember Satan is the Prince of this World, and you become his Subjects and Votaries, so far as you conform to the Ma­ximes which the World proposes to you, and follow those abuses that it has introduced. Alas! how has only the magnificence of your Apparel, and your superfluous Or­naments made all the Saints to sigh and groan, who have been Eye-witnesses and Spectators of them! What would they say now, if they saw that all this pompous Gayety did not onely [Page 10] tend to flatter your Vanity and your Pride, but also to engender Lust and Impurity, and to inspire those who are your Spectators, with unlawful Desires, and sen­sual Thoughts! Must you needs be at such riotous expense to co­ver your Bodies, and yet for all that to leave them half naked! Is it not in some manner to sacri­fice them to the Men of the Age, thus to expose them to their sight and lust?

X.

INDEED ought they not to fear lest we reproach them for too much loving the World, and for being too passionately desirous to be beloved of it? what do not they do to please it? they consume the goods of Fortune; and when by their splendour and immodesty they sollicit Liber­tines and profligate Wretches to behold them, may it not be said that they are become like to that [Page 11] Woman whom Ezekiel speaks of,Ezek. 16. 33. Omni­bus meretricibus dantur mercedes: tu autem dedisti mercedes cunctis a­matoribus tuis, &c. that by her care and costliness in­deavour'd to gain the Friendship of those that regarded her: and if it may be allow'd me to make use of those terms to express the thought of that Prophet, who bought her Prostitution, whereas others took gifts, and made a sale of theirs.

XI.

THINK, think, that in your Baptism you have renounced the Pomp and Vanities of the World; and make some reflexion with your selves, how that by your unprofitable Ornaments & shame­less Nakedness, you practise that which the World teaches, and which is most dangerous and im­pious. Alas! do not believe it, it is a deceitful Syren that labours only to seduce you, and that can never make you happy nor con­tented, [Page 12] whatever promise it makes you. You ought not to join your Alliance with it, since that it is your Enemy. And if you are so weak, and so unfortunate, as to consent to what it demands of you against your Selves, if you cannot resolve intirely to quit your Luxury, and to cover your nakedness; at least make some difference betwixt the House of your Lord, which is consecrated by the Celebration of our Myste­ries, and those which are profa­ned by the Libertinism of the Age; between places destin'd and set a­part for Prayer & devotion, & such as are peculiarly appropriated to mirth and gallantry, joy and di­vertisement. Wherefore will you so extend the Empire of the Prince of this world beyond his prescri­bed limits? he can only have ju­risdiction over places that are pro­phane, and you by your immo­desty make him to Reign even in sacred Places.

XII.

WHO IS there but knows that God is jealous of the respect one ought to have for his Temples, and that the zeal of his house, by which he is as it were devoured, sayes the Prophet,Psalm 68. Zelus do­mus tuae comedit me. will not per­mit him, to let those go unpunish­ed who prophane it? what seve­rity did he not use against those trafficking Merchants that made it legitimate to buy and sell in the Temple of Jerusalem such beasts as were to be employed in their Sa­crifices? and what chastisement ought not those Women to expect who are vain and loose, and who, (far from doing any thing that may contribute to sacrifices, and favour the zeal of those who come to pay their devout adorations to Almighty God, as did those Mer­chants whom Jesus Christ drove out of the Temple) do dishonour the most solemnly to be remem­bred of all Sacrifices, and do di­vert [Page 14] or corrupt the intention of those who are assistant at it, and sometimes too of those that cele­brate it: who expose all their beauty in the Churches in so inde­cent a manner, that they do as it were hold a kind of impure and unchaste commerce between them­selves and those that behold them; In a word, who, more guilty than those very sellers in the Temple, that only designed at getting mo­ney without doing any injury to the Divine Worship, do only aim at the acquisition of hearts, to ra­vish them even from God himself.

XIII.

BUT let me not only pour out my laments for those who appear vain and light in Sacred Places, where they should discover con­trition and humility; but also let me shew my fear for them who do not fly their company, or who turn away their eyes from those places where God more immedi­ately [Page 15] bestowes his gracious pre­sence, to cast them upon those Idols that are so gaudily and im­modestly dress'd up. There is al­wayes danger in attentively look­ing upon a naked Breast; and there is not only a great danger, but a kind of crime in beholding it with attention in the Churches, then, when we are most seriously commemorating the Passion and Death of our dear Saviour: for Jesus Christ being then in so emi­nent a manner to be remembred by us, methinks, to prefer a Wo­man to him, or at least to divide our attention, and perhaps our vows, between him and her, and to remain, as it were in suspence, to whom we were best to give our desires and mind, is without doubt a great injury.

XIV.

YET alas! once more, if we can­not hinder and put a stop to this nakedness, however let us not neg­lect [Page 16] to shew our disallowing of it in our taking heed to shun even the very sight thereof. If the ho­nour of Jesus Christ obliges us to it, our duty and our interest does likewise ingage us: the sight of a fair neck, and pretty swelling breasts, is no less dangerous for us than that of a Basilisk; and it is then we may say with the Scripture, that the De­vil makes use of the windowes of our bo­dies,Jerem. 9. 21. Ascen­dit mors per fene­stras nostras. for Death by Sin to enter into our Souls; if it be true, as sayes the Prophet Jere­miah, that our eyes do sometimes commit a rape upon the Soul,thr. 3. Oculus meus depraedatus est ani­mam meam. it is then without doubt when they are fastened upon the attractive beauties of a be­witching Face, and when they do also in some manner fix there our mind and heart, in bringing to it with our looks our affe­ctions and desires. And I believe [Page 17] that the Patriarch Job had a mind to teach us this Truth,Job 31. 1. Pepigi foe­dus cum oculis meis, ut ne cogitarem qui dem de virgine, quam enim partem haberet in me Deus. when he declares that he had made a Covenant with his Eyes, to the end that he might not think on the Beauty of a Maid; for it is not the Eyes that think and desire, but it is the Heart or Mind: wherefore, sayes he then, that he might remove from his Mind and Heart the Idea and illegitimate Love of Women, he made a Covenant with his Eyes, rather than with his Mind and with his Heart; to hint to us that it is easie not to think of Women, when once we have got beyond the prospect of seeing them; but that it is next to an impossibility for them not to fill our Minds and Hearts, if we doe not make a compact and agree­ment with our Eyes not to look upon them.

XV.

AND it is so much the more necessary for us to turn away our Eyes from beholding Women whose Necks and Shoulders are naked and bare, as, according to the thoughts of the same Patri­arch, it is difficult to conceive what place God can find in a Soul which the Eyes have betray­ed, and into which those impure objects are entred, that do pos­sess and trouble all its powers. Let us remember that Maxime of the Great St. Gregory, Greg. In­tueri non decet quod non licet con­cupiscere. that it is a mighty piece of imprudence to look upon that which we are not permitted to desire; and if we will resolve to conserve the tran­quillity of our mind, and the in­nocence of our heart, let us ne­ver voluntarily and out of choice look upon those nakednesses, in what places soever we are, but especially in the Church.

XVI.

IF Christians ought to make themselves to be known by their modesty, according to the Do­ctrine of the Apostle, it is principally then,Ad Phil. 4. 5. Mode­stia vestra nota sit om­nibus hominibus. Do­minus prope est. when they are in the House of God, where they do not come but because they are Christians: it is there that they ought to make a Covenant with their Eyes, not only not to look upon Women, but not to look upon any thing, but to resemble him that runs at the Ring, who never turns his Eyes either one way or other, but keeps them always fixed and direct at the mark; he who prayes in the Church, (for we ought not to come thither but to pray, as none ought to enter into the Lists but to run) he, Isay, who prayes in the Church, ought to be so very attentive on what [Page 20] he is doing, that he should refrain from looking upon those objects which are nearest to him, for fear lest his Heart should run after his Eyes, and his Mind insensibly straggle from the work he is a­bout, and forget whom he is pray­ing to.

XVII.

WE do greatly deceive our selves, if we think we are not ob­liged to regulate our Looks by a wise and modest circumspecti­on, and we deceive others if we say that one may indifferently and innocently behold all things. David sinned for being too pro­digal and free of his Looks, and one single glance sufficed to make him fall into sin. That Prince was holy, and Bathsheba, on whom by accident he cast his Eyes, was innocent, but she was naked: David saw her in that posture, and there needed no [Page 21] more to make David lose his Ho­liness, and Bathsheba her Inno­cence. Who is this proud One, that will refuse to be instructed by so great an Example, and who after this example will not avoid with care the sight and ad­dress of a Woman, that openly exposes all those Charms which she thinks are most beautiful and surprising? Who is that confi­dent Man, that will believe him­self in safety, when he is in the same danger wherein David was lost? And who will not be afraid to be overcome by the same Arms wherewith he was vanquished?

XVIII.

THE Great St. Basil teaches all the Faithful, in instructing one of his Disciples, with what care they ought to turn away their Eyes from a Woman that mightily affects to appear daze­ling and glorious. Take you [Page 22] heed,Basilii Ep. Cave omni­bus modis falsas intu­eri pulchritudines & pernitiosas; quia de­turpatur anima si ea­rum decorem atten­das. Christus non in corporis decore, sed in animâ delectatur, &c. Caveto ergo, fili, spe­cies per quas plurimos cernis periisse, &c. sayes he, as much as ever you can, of considering those false and pernitious Beau­ties; Jesus Christ was only pleased with the Beauty of the Soul, and despised that of the Body, and you ought only to esteem those things which are pleasing to Jesus Christ. Know likewise, that that Beauty which they present to you, if you behold it with attention, will sully your Soul, and render it deformed; do not credit the report that your Eyes make of it, but believe that which Reason and Faith does say to you of it, and be you careful that you do not split your selves upon that Rock whereon many persons more wise than your self have run upon and perished.

XIX.

LET Men therefore indea­vour to make good use of this Advice, and let Women know that these instructions and these counsels that are given to Men, are for a true reproach, and se­vere reprehension to them: let them know that if men do run the hazard of offending God in looking upon them, they also do offend him in effect by present­ing themselves to men in a man­ner which may, and which in all probability will tempt them or scandalize them. In truth when Ecclesiasti­cus advertized us not to gaze upon a Woman that desires to please all the world,Ecclesiasticus 9. 5. Ne respicias in muli [...]rem multivolam, ne sor [...] incidas in laqueos il­lius. for fear lest we should fall into her snares, may we not say that he accuses and blames Women for exposing to the Eyes of all the World all [Page 24] those Beauties that are any ways capable to ravish hearts and gain them Lovers; that he condemns them for wounding that bashful­ness and modesty that is so natu­ral to them; that he accuses them of laying Snares to our inno­cence, in losing their own. For it is with reason that the Pro­phet Ezechiel hath told us that a naked and discovered Breast was a Bed whereon impurity re­pos'd and became fruitful in cor­rupting her who laid it open,Chap. 23. 17. Cubi­le mam­marum, &c and him that beheld it.

XX.

THERE is not any Woman or Maid but knows that Eves nakedness, which the Scripture makes mention of, was a conse­quence and mark of her Crime; she perceived her self naked, be­cause she had sinned, and she knew that she had sinned when she saw her self naked. Why then [Page 25] will they judge otherwise of themselves than of their common Mother? and why will they not infer that from their own naked­ness which they conclude from hers? that it is a mark of the de­pravation of their Souls: why do they not conclude that they dis­please God, since they see them­selves naked? Surely they do not care at all how much they are displeasing to God, since they do so please and prank up them­selves in their nakedness. For in that I think they are more guilty than Eve, as criminal as she was; for she was ashamed of her na­kedness, and delayed not to co­ver her self.

XXI.

CAN they be ignorant that it is of them principally that the Apostle speaks,Ad Rom. 6. 19. Ex­hibuistis membra vestra servire immunditiae & iniquitati, &c. when he condemns [Page 26] those persons who uncover one part of their Body to yield their Members servants to un­cleanness, and to iniquity. They are servants to uncleanness be­cause with what pretence soever they cover it, or what excuse so­ever they flatter themselves with­all, the grand motive and design that makes them to be in Love with nakedness is never pure, they cannot do it with an inten­tion to please God; and therefore necessarily it must be to please the world; they cannot do it out of modesty, nor from a principle of Piety, therefore it must pro­ceed from a want of Shame, or from a Spirit of of Vanity, and oftentimes of uncleanness and im­purity. They are servants also to iniquity, according to the sense of the Apostle, since that they stir up their disorderly motions of Concupiscence; and they become the Instruments of the Devil, in making men to yield to sin.

XXII.

SAINT Jerome re­proached Jovinian for having Amazons in his party,Lib. 2. advers. Jovi. habet in castris Ama­zonas, viros ad libidi­nem provocantes mam­mâ exertâ & brachio nudo. who with their naked Necks, & Sleeves of their Arms tuck'd up almost to their Shoulders, did ex­cite men to Libertinisme to make them their followers. And may not we say with as much justice, that our Women, whose Arms, Breasts, and Shoulders are naked and bare, are the true Amazons of the Devil, who combate and labour as much for him as for themselves? and who scarce ever overcome but for him? who im­ploy the beauty of their Body to pervert Souls, and to subject them to Satan? and in a word, who after they have rang'd them­selves on the side of the Prince of this world, industriously strive to suborn those who follow the party of Jesus Christ.

XXIII.

I COULD wish that all Maids and VVomen were well perswaded of the truth of what St, Chrysostome hath said,Chrysost. in Psalm. 113. figu­rae nudae Daemon assidet. and which has been justified by ma­ny Authentique Histories; that a naked Image and Statue is the Devils chair, they would from thence conclude, that by their nakedness they do not only be­come the Seat, but the Throne of Satan; that he does not only re­pose himself upon their Breasts and Shoulders exposed to the view of men; but that he reigns and has an absolute dominion there, and there he triumphs; they would then know that their Bodies almost half naked did as much allure Devils as they did the eyes of men. And as there are commonly many men who will be looking upon their Breasts, Shoulders, and naked Arms; so [Page 29] there are also many Devils on e­very one of those parts taking their possession, and, if I may so speak, making there their retreat, their harbour, and their castle. And possibly being convinced that they are incompassed, beset and covered with many of those Monsters, according as they ap­pear in publick more or less na­ked; possibly, I say, that this Idea would make them have a just fear, and a holy horrour at their na­kedness.

XXIV.

IF IT be true that St. John teaches us in his Apocalypsis, Apoc. c. 16. v. 15. Beatus qui vigilat, & custodit vestimenta sua, ne nudus ambulet, & videant turpitudinem ejus. that those persons are blessed who watch and take heed after what manner they dress themselves, and who do so adjust their Garments, as never to ap­pear bare, and so discover their shame and immodesty by their [Page 30] nakedness; may not we then say by the same reason vice versâ, that those people are not blessed, who do only dress and adjust them­selves to appear half naked, and who by their affected nakedness discover, let them do what they can, their little bashfulness and immodesty, and do make mani­fest the secret defects of their Soul by the Grace and Beauty of their Bodies: for what man is there that has ever much relyed upon a VVomans vertue, because she has gone with a naked Neck? nay, who are those Christians, or Hea­thens indeed that this nakedness has not made to doubt of the In­nocence of their behaviour, or at least of the sincerity of their intention?

XXV.

NONE scarce are ignorant, how that before the Advent of Jesus Christ, the greatest Liber­tines [Page 31] of the Jewish VVomen, nay, even the very idolatrous VVo­men themselves,Cornel. in cap. 11. 1. ad Corinth made use of Vails to cover their Faces, their Arms, and their Shoulders, every time that they were seen abroad, and appear'd in publick: and it is ve­ry well known that an Illustrious Roman did repudiate his VVife, only because he had met her without a Vail out of his Palace. VVhat shame is it then for Chri­stian VVomen to have less reser­vedness and modesty than those debauched and idolatrous VVo­men?C. Sulpit. apud Va­ler. Max. those would not be seen in publick, but they would be vailed, to the end that none might have reason to suspect their ver­tue; these will appear with their naked Necks without any con­cern for the hazarding their ver­tue, and giving persons a just oc­casion to believe they scornfully laugh at the Maxims of their Re­ligion. Both of them are sensible that it is a mark of purity for [Page 32] them, to be seen with covered and inclosed bosomes, the idola­trous VVomen hide them, but the Christian VVomen lay them as open as they can to view; what can be from thence infer­red, except it be as to this parti­cular, that the idolatrous VVo­men appear Christians, and the Christians Idolaters? VVhat can we conclude, except it be what Tertullian hath already concluded of them,Lib. de veland. Virg. Judicabunt Arabiae foe­minae ethnicae, quae non caput, sed faciem quoque ita totam te­gnnt, ut uno oculo liberato, contentae sint dimidiam frui lucem, quàm totam faciem prostituere. that at the last Judgement, the Heathen VVomen will rise up against our Christian VVomen, to accuse them, and convince them of immodesty, to demand their condemnation, and perad­venture to obtain it?

XXVI.

IT IS high time then that these vain and earthly VVomen [Page 33] should be delivered from their error, and leave off their sinful, foolish custom; if they are not touched with a deep and serious repentance, seeing the injury they do to their Religion, and the hurt they cause to their Neigh­bour; if they have not any scru­ple of conscience at displeasing God, and exposing themselves to lose their Innocence; in a word, if they neglect the Beauty and the Health of their Souls, yet let them at least take care of conser­ving the Health and Beauty of their Bodies, of which they are such Idolizers. Are not they to be blamed, for putting themselves upon the wrack and torture, on­ly because they would appear to be drest up in the Mode, and to give some Charm and Grace to their Breasts, because they would have them seen? to how many Infir­mities & distempers do they not ex­pose themselves in their overlacing their Gown-bodies, and so thrust­ing [Page 34] up their Breasts, on purpose that they might shew them half na­ked? how cold soever the wea­ther be, and sharp the Air, yet they endure it without com­plaining, provided it does not al­ter or prejudice the Beauty of their Necks, or bring upon them Fluxes and Rheums, which are the ordinary effects of their go­ing naked; they support with a resolute courage and constancy the rigour and severity of all Sea­sons, to have the pleasure of be­ing seen, and the hopes of being able to please.

XXVII.

ALAS! It is but too true, that the VVorld and the Devil have their Martyrs; and might not I say of them what the great Chan­cellor of England did; that God would be too blame to refuse them Hell, seeing that they took so much pains to deserve it? it is [Page 35] with justice, saith that Great Man, that so fearful and tremendous a recompence should be given them, for their being at such unreason­able and criminal pains to make themselves appear charming by those naked postures: but also it is with an extream injustice that those Women should be content to endure those wracks and tor­tures to damn themselves, and will not be persuaded to suffer the least thing in the World for their own Salvation.

XXVIII.

HISTORY acquaints us, that formerly a great Princess was so wrought upon by the counsel and persuasion that a Holy Per­son gave her to abolish the Mode of naked Necks, that she was the first who began to cover hers; and that joining her Authority to her Example, she obliged and persuaded all at once the Ladies [Page 36] of her Court not to come into her Presence, but with modest ha­bits, or at least with such Orna­ments as might not wound the bashfulness of their Sex, although they made the greatness of their Birth conspicuous. Would to Hea­ven this Treatise might have the same effect as that Counsel, since they both do tend but to one and the same end. But if the Rea­sons and Authorities that I have made use of are not powerful enough to persuade the Women of this Age to condemn the abuse of naked Necks, I wish that the Example of this Princess, and of so many Illustrious Personages, who advanced their Dignity by their Modesty, might inspire them with a holy desire of imitating them.

XXIX.

THESE Ladies of the Times are very much deceived, if they [Page 37] think to derive any real honour from their Beauty, which they disclose with so much artifice and address; for those Aiery Gallants of theirs which com­mend their Beauties to the Skies, do suspect them for their want of innocence; their reason oft-times disapproves what is pleasing to their Eyes, and at the same time that they are praising the pretty powting Breasts which they are shewing to them, they do despise or condemn even those that shew them. Wise and judi­cious men, who know that the reputation of a Maid or Woman depends principally upon her re­servedness and modesty, are ama­zed to see 'em so inconsiderately expose themselves to lose and for­feit their esteem in endeavouring to acquire it, and are much more surprised at their imprudence, than at their Beauty. Pious and devout persons have a secret in­dignation at the sight of such na­nakedness, [Page 38] and are forced to de­ny their approbation to a Mode so diametrically opposite to the Piety and Spirit of Christianity, to a Mode that Religion detests, that Reason blames, and even which Libertinisme it self laughs at, at the same time that it autho­rises it.

XXX.

I WOULD willingly ask these fair Virgins and Women, whom do you pretend to please? whom do you desire to be estee­med of? is it of wise and devout men? they do not at all ambition to see that naked Neck which you present to them, no, they turn away their Eyes from it: Is it of these young, foppish worldlings? You know very well their appro­bation is not much considerable, and likewise you are not ignorant that they commonly set light by what is offered them, and but [Page 39] very little esteem that which be­comes common to all the world. What is then your conduct and choice? to do a thing that is dis­pleasing to one part of those who behold you, and that does not gain you the absolute esteem of the others? whereas you are assured that both the Young, vain Citts of the Town, and the wise and devout men would have an equal respect and esteem for you, if you did appear before them with covered Necks, and with that modesty which Na­ture inspires into your Sex, and which Religion prescribes to you.

XXXI.

BUT I will suppose that you may possibly meet with some brave blustring Gallant, who at the sight of your Breasts gives you all his approbation, and with it all his Heart; can you from thence derive such a satisfaction [Page 40] as to make you proud of that which ought to fill your face with shame and blushes? And is it not rather for you a ground of confusion than of joy, not to be commended by any, but by those whose praises are not only to be suspected of flattery, but in themselves are contemptible, and to be scorn'd? no, it is not a glory, but a kind of dishonour only to be approved of by loose and profligate wretches, because they approve of nothing but what they love, or what they do; and their perverse Habits carry them to love, and do nothing but that which flatters and in­dulges them in their Lust, and which is conformable to their wicked inclinations.

XXXII.

YOUR Nakedness is plea­sing and agreeable to Libertines and Sinners, and therefore there [Page 41] needs no more to conclude that it excites and stirs up to sin, and that it bears the mark and chara­cter of Libertinism. But without your Conscience hath told you thus much before now, and this weak glimmering light of origi­nal Innocence which still remains in you, hath made you know in spight of your selves, that if it be modesty to cover your Necks, it is then just the contrary to go with them bare and naked. Our first Parents did only continue naked so long as they remained in a kind of ignorance and blind­ness; and as soon as they had ta­sted of the fruit of the knowledge of Good and Evil,Tertul. lib. de Vela. Virg. Principes gene­ris Adam & Eva quam­diu intellectu carebant nudi agebant, at ubi de arbore agnitionis gustaverunt, nihil pri­mum senserunt quam erubescendum. Itaque sui qui (que) sexus intelle­ctum tegmine notave­runt. the first evi­dence they gave of their knowledge and under­standing, was in their being asham'd of their nakedness, and present­ly going to cover it. Make use then of your [Page 42] Reason, and it will teach you that you ought to avoid a naked­ness, from whence you cannot derive any good to your selves, and which may be the cause of many evils and mischiefs to you. Hearken to the instructions of your Conscience, and it will make you understand that you cannot, with­out a kind of Crime, affect to be seen so naked as now adays you go, since that Nature it self in­spires you with fear, aversion, and even with horror too for na­kedness.

XXXIII.

AND if you will but consult your Religion, it will teach you that all that is done out of a Spi­rit of Vanity and Concupiscence, out of a motive of self-love, and self-complaisance, cannot be a­greeable to God, who commands us to be chaste, and to be hum­ble; and who requires of us to [Page 43] despise, and even to hate our selves. It will teach you, that a Christian Maid and Woman ought to make themselves be known as much by their bashfulness, shame, and modesty, as by their Faith: and as they ought to think more how to please God than men, they ought to conceal themselves from men, and to lay themselves open before God: it will tell you, that if all the glory of the world is vain and idle, and to be despi­sed; that which you seek for by the nakedness of your Breasts, is more so than any other, not on­ly because it is founded meerly upon the beauty of the Body; but also because you seek it by a way that is base, and unworthy of a noble and generous Soul. You sollicit, and beg, if I may so say, the approbation of men, to whom you discover that which Nature, Reason, and Piety coun­sel and oblige you to conceal.

XXXIV.

RELIGION will tell you that you are the Temple of God, and that Purity ought to be the Portress of that Temple, which is obliged to acquit her self well of her duty, not onely in driving from your minds all impure thoughts; but also to remove from your bodies all the lascivi­ous regards of wanton and disso­lute persons, who dishonour your Chastity, though they do not sully it, and render you guilty at least of a strange impurity. To conclude, it will tell you, that it is not sufficient for a Christian wo­man to be pure and chaste, but that she ought to appear what she is; that her Chastity, to be perfect, ought equally to shine forth and shew it self in her Mind, & in her Body; in her Thoughts, and in her Words; and to re­bound, as I may so speak, upon [Page 45] her Actions, her Looks, her Be­haviour, and her Apparel▪ For if the Fashion in which she is drest does bely the manner in which she lives, one may truly say that she is chaste but in part, and that neglecting to acquire and pra­ctise that which is wanting in her to have a true purity, she puts her self in hazard of losing what she has of pure and inno­cent, and of corrupting and de­basing her Soul in her indiscreet shewing of her Body.

XXXV.

IF YOU make but a serious reflection upon what the Holy Scriptures say,Prov. 22. Finis mo­destiae ti­mor Dei. That the fear of God is the end of Modesty, that is to say, that outward Modesty gives birth to the fear of God in our Soul, or keeps it and aug­ments it there: And if you re­member at the same time that the same Scripture instructs us, That [Page 46] the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and the principal cause of Salvation, ought you not to avow that that Woman truly fears God, and seriously thinks how to save her own Soul, who out of shame covers both her Arms and Neck, who dresses her self in such a manner, as neither to de­rogate from her Birth, nor her Dignity, nor from the quality of a Christian? but who discovers by her Modesty, that her Vertue is correspondent to her Birth, her Dignity, and her Religion? But also ought you not to confess, that a naked Neck, bare Arms, and uncovered Shoulders do con­vince a Woman of her want of Modesty? and so by consequence accuse her of not having the fear of God before her eyes? or of not being concerned whether she lose it or no? as also of forget­ting her Salvation, or at least of neglecting it? for if Modesty in­duces us to fear God, Immodesty [Page 47] certainly persuades to the contra­ry: if modesty work in us a great disposition to a Christian life, im­modesty then must needs be a powerful obstacle against it; and methinks the Learned African had Reason in him, in giving the name of Daughters of God to those Women who went not to any Publique Places, and especi­ally to Churches, but with their Breasts covered, and their Faces vailed, but in calling those the Daughters of men, who affected to have their Faces and their Breasts exposed to the common view of all men.

XXXVI.

WE read in Genesis, Gen. 3. 21. that God himself made unto Adam, and to Eve his Wife, Coats of Skins, and did cloath them, thereby to let us know that their nakedness was displeasing to him. We learn also from Ecclesiastical History, that [Page 48] many Saints, not by any means induring to pull their cloaths off of any part of their Bodies, when they were to go thorough little Rivers, Almighty God has mira­culously transported them on the other side, to shew to us how greatly he approved of their mo­desty. What may we then inferr from thence, but that those Wo­men who study how they may modestly cover their Breasts, and Arms, and Shoulders, are anima­ted by the Spirit of God; and that those who affect such naked and indecent going, are seduced by a contrary spirit, to wit, by that of the Devil, or of the World, which is his Disciple? that God condemns all nakedness of Body, and that the Devil approves of it; that God blesses and recompences those who Scarf up, or other­wise cover their Shoulders, and that the Devil abuses and de­ceives those whom he persuades to lay open theirs? in a word, [Page 49] that God has an aversion to all kind of nakedness about the Bo­dy, and that the Devil is most pleased and delighted with it?

XXXVII.

GOD hates nakedness, because he is purity it self; the Devil loves it, because he is impure: God hates nakedness, because it is a sign of our defeat and over­throw; and the Devil loves it, because it is a mark of his Tri­umph: God hates nakedness, be­cause it is the cause of sin; and the Devil loves it, because it is a proof of our misery, and at the same time discovers our indigen­cy, and our Crime: God hates nakedness, because he cherishes us, and that obliges him to turn away his Eyes from us; the De­vil loves it, because he hates us, and makes that instrumental to our destruction: in short, God hates nakedness of Body, because [Page 50] it is a Figure of that of the Soul, and it represents to him continu­ally our inward poverty; and the Devil loves nakedness of Body, because it makes him remember, that by his address and subtilty we have been dispoyled of all the Graces which did adorn our Soul; so that those who love na­kedness with the Devil, do in some manner presage that they shall be deprived of those Gra­ces which they possess, and seem to consent to it; they, as it were, joyn hands with the Devil to un­doe and destroy themselves, and they do mostly hate themselves through their too much self-love; they applaud the victory that the Devil obtained over Eve, and in some sort renew her crime in con­forming themselves to the estate in which she lived, as soon as ever she became a Criminal.

XXXVIII.

AH! Since that by the naked­ness of their Bodies they become the Images of guilty Eve, why do not they labour to be like unto her by the movements of their Hearts? Eve acknowledg'd her fault, and detested it in co­vering her nakedness; why do not they likewise cover their Arms, their Shoulders, and their Bosoms, to shew that they ac­knowledge the fault they have committed in going with them bare and naked? Eve durst not appear before God, till all her Body was covered, and they at least ought to be somewhat scru­pulous how they present them­selves to God in the Churches with their naked Arms and Necks. In a word, Eve could not without shame and blushes suffer even her Husband to be the Spectator of her nakedness; and they do seek [Page 52] out Witnesses of theirs, and such Witnesses as cannot behold them without danger, or without a Crime, and wherewith they en­deavour to surprise, and to per­vert the inclinations, in their stri­ving to please them.

XXXIX.

IF they would but attentive­ly consider all these things, I am certain they would themselves disapprove of their conduct, which has been condemned by the first of Sinners, and which apparently adds something to the malignity of corrupted Nature. But we must indeavour to con­vince them by their own proper judgement. Is it not true that they would blame a Woman whose cunning and artificiall words lead to filthiness and im­purity, and who would declare her self in such a loose and open manner, though sly and witty, [Page 53] that she should engage those in a prophane Love, who would but hearken to her Discourse? how then can they be exempt from blame, who do show their Breasts and Shoulders at so ex­tream a rate, since they cannot possibly be ignorant, that that nakedness must needs be much more powerful than words, to excite the motions of Concupi­scence? for who does not know that the Eyes are the guides of Love; and that it is through them, that it most commonly steals into our Souls? If the De­vil sometimes makes use of the Ear to seduce our Reason, he does almost alwayes make use of the Eyes to disarm it, and to be­witch our hearts. Who is there but knows, that Words vanish with their sound in an instant, and whatever efficacy they have to inspire into us dishonest sen­timents, yet they want duration to be able to engrave them deep [Page 54] into our minds? But a naked Breast and bare Shoulders are continually speaking to our hearts in striking and wounding our Eyes; and their language as dumb as it is, is so much the more dan­gerous, as it is not understood, but by the mind, and the mind is pleased with the understanding it. To conclude, who knows not that the Discourses of a Woman, if they are a shock to purity, do yet shock us against our wills, and give us a secret disgust, and a kind of aversion and contempt for her that utters them? But the beauty of a Neck which is pre­sented to our Eyes hath nothing which repells it, hath nothing but what attracts and allures us. We begin to look upon it with­out repugnance, we continue to behold it with pleasure, we see it afterwards with emotion: and as it does not cease speaking to us in its way and manner, nor cease solliciting us, and being pleasing [Page 55] to us, it at last triumphs over our liberty, after it has abused and betrayed our senses.

XL.

SO that we may boldly con­clude, that those Young Ladies and Women who make themselves to be seen in that posture, are more blameable than those who by their impure and lascivious Discourses endeavour to seduce men to Libertinisme, not onely because they surprise more per­sons by laying indifferently their snares to all the VVorld, which the most debauched Women dare not do by their Discourses; but also because, to get them Adorers, they make use of an address that is so much the more dangerous, as it is more engaging and proper to inspire Love, to which wise and prudent persons are exposed by hazard, what precaution so­ever they take to avoid it, which [Page 56] those that are simple do not in the least mistrust, and to which almost all young people are plea­sed to yield.

XLI.

AFTER this, I do not won­der that God in his Prophets re­proaching his people for the greatness and multitude of their crimes,Ezek. 16. 7, & 8. Per­venisti ad mundum mulibroum ubera tua intumuerunt, &c. E­ras nuda & confusione plena, & transivi & vi­di te, & ecce tempus tuum tempus amanti­um. tells them, that they are become like to a Woman who delights to appear naked, and to make her self be belo­ved; who clothe themselves with pomp, and study how to make their Breasts to rise and swell, that so they might seem more charming and graceful, who knew not indeed any time but the time of Loves; that is to say, who did not believe they could better im­ploy their time, than in so adorn­ing and trickifying their Bodies, as [Page 57] that thereby they might be able to make their conquests. In truth, it is a time of their Loves, because 'tis then that men begin to love them, being surprised and smit­ten with the nakedness of their Bodies; and it is also their time, because they are satisfied with the hopes, or the pleasure they have to see themselves beloved.

XLII.

LET us therefore judge from thence, if a Maid or Woman, who does not cover one part of her Body, but to show and advance the beauty of the other, be an object very pleasing and agreeable to Almighty God; and who, ex­posing to the view of all men what she ought to keep reserv'd and hid, gives us just ground to more than think that she does conceal and cover by constraint what she does not let them see? since God represents them to us [Page 58] in this estate as the Image & Mo­del of great Sinnes, ought not she to fear least this estate be an estate of sin to her? and ought she to know that it is a State of sin to others? fatal Estate, which contains all malignity, and which expresses all the misery of sinners, who destroy themselves by too great a self-love, and contribute to the destruction of others, ei­ther by their malice, or by their address! fatal Estate, in which the Women do not engage them­selves, but through a defect of modesty, or of purity! An Estate which ought to make them blush with shame, and which ought to be punished with the extreamest confusion. Therefore was it, with­out doubt, that after Almighty God had compared the sinner to a VVoman richly adorn'd and na­ked, he adds, that she was full of confusion; she has not been asham'd to appear publickly with her body half naked, she shall be [Page 59] covered with shame at the last Judgement, when the vileness of her Conscience will appear un­vail'd, and without a covering, and her Soul will find it self void and naked of all Vertue and Grace.

XLIII.

YOU see then what will be the consequence of that Naked­ness which you affect, O vain and worldly Women! you see what it presages to you, it renders you now criminal, it will render you one day miserable; it now begets you Lovers, it will raise you one day Enemies; and even those per­sons that now caress and flatter you with praises, will reproach you with injuries and blasphe­mies, in that you have been the cause of their Damnation; they will become your Accusers and your Executioners; and for the compleat aggravation of your mi­series, [Page 60] possibly those Arms, those Shoulders, and those Necks, which you and they so much did ido­lize, will prove the Instruments of your punishment, and will be the eternal object of your rage, and of your despair.

XLIV.

BUT yet notwithstanding I do not intend to place in one and the same rank all Women, who use to go with naked Necks, I very well know that they are not all equally guilty, and that the va­rious motives by which they Act, and the ends they propose to themselves, may put a great dif­ference between those persons who commit one and the same fault. But if there may be found any that is exempt from a great Crime, there is not one, that is not worthy of blame; and what­soever reason they may alledge in their defence, whatsoever ex­cuse [Page 61] they may serve themselves withall for their justification, they will never appear intirely inno­cent. For how is it possible for them to unite Innocence with Nakedness, since that Naked­ness was the first mark of the loss of Innocence?

The End of the First Part.

The Second Part. Concerning the vain and frivo­lous excuses that those Wo­men make, who go with their naked Necks and Shoul­ders.

I.

IF IT be certain that our first Parents have transmitted their Crime to all their Posterity, and have communicated to their descending Generations a natural propensity, and a strong inclination to sin; it is not less indisputable, that they have in­spired into us a violent desire of extenuating and excusing all our [Page 64] faults and miscarriages, and of appearing Innocent, even then when we are indeed most guilty. We are born Criminals from cri­minal Adam, we sin as he sinn'd; and as he did, we endeavour to justifie our selves before God and men: and in the same manner▪ sayes St. Gregory, as he would have covered his nakedness with the Leaves of a Tree, so we do vainly labour to hide and perdue our sins by studied words and frivolous Discourses.

II.

I DO not therefore wonder that the Women who are pleas'd with going so naked about their Necks and Shoulders, should stu­dy how to justifie their proce­dure, or at least to excuse it. But before I shall make them see that all their excuses are unjust and unprofitable, I think it my duty to advertise them how that they [Page 65] augment and double their sin in so obstinately setting themselves to excuse it, and that they ren­der themselves so much the more guilty, as they say they are in­tirely innocent. There are four degrees of malice in all sins, sayes the Abbot Rupert; Rupert. lib. 1. in lib 1. Reg. c. [...]2. The first is when we consent to it: The se­cond, when we do it: The third, when we persevere in it: The fourth, and the most dangerous, when we excuse our selves, and defend our sin. It is by this that we make sometimes a Crime of a simple Fault, and a Crime so dis­agreeable to Almighty God, that it is according to the opinion of that great Doctor, that fourth sin for which God sayes that he will abandon the inha­bitants of Damascus to their evil conduct,Amos c. 1. v. 3. Haec dicit dominus super tribus sceleribus Da­masci, & super quatu­or non convertam eam▪ af­ter he had forgave them their three sins, of thoughts, of actions, and of habits.

III.

IS IT not true, that when they endeavour to excuse and justifie their fault, they labour to purchase, and to give them­selves the Liberty of failing? is it not true that they testifie they are pleased with the evil they de­fend, and that they excite and stir up others to imitate their irregu­larity, in maintaining that they do nothing which can be disappro­ved? thus from their particular disorder would they make a pub­lick licentiousness, and after they had joined obstinacy to sin, they add scandal to obstinacy; and thus it is, that they pervert the Women, after they have seduc'd the men, and render themselves incapable, and unworthy of com­ing out of their error, in endea­vouring to communicate it.

IV.

BUT I hope they will acknow­ledge it and condemn it too, after the reading of this little Treatise, and knowing that an humble and sincere confession of our faults is always follow'd with pardon, be­cause it is an assured mark and testimony of our repentance; they will ingenuously confess that they have done ill so openly to shew their naked Necks and Shoul­ders. And to facilitate for them the means to do it, I am resolved to examine with them the Rea­sons which they alledge for their defence, that so they may acknow­ledge with me, that the Devil to this present time has put upon their minds the veil which they ought to have put upon their Necks and Shoulders, and that he has hindered them from discover­ing the Truth, in persuading them to expose their bodies half naked to publick view. [Page 66] [...] [Page 67] [...]

V.
The First Excuse.

AND among the Excuses they bring to their defence, there are some that are common to Maids and Women, and there are some that are to be particularly ap­propriated to the one and the o­ther. The first, and the most ge­neral is, the Mode and Custom. It is permitted us, say they, to do what others do, and it is not on­ly in one Town or City, but it is in divers Kingdoms, that Maids and Women do go in publick with their naked Necks and Shoul­ders, and this usage is not such a one that has been introduced with­in these few years, but has been known for many Ages; so that one cannot condemn it without drawing up a Bill of Indictment against whole Nations and Gene­rations.It seems it is not so new in France as in England.

VI.

IF this Reason be receivable, there is not any disorder which ought not to be approv'd of, and authorized, because all abuses are necessarily introduced by usage contrary to Reason and to Law, which by succession of time pas­ses insensibly into Custom. Thus Custom only is so far from being a proof of the Justice of the U­sage, that it is a presumption that it is unjust; and when this Usage is evidently opposite to what Rea­son counsels us, and the Law pre­scribes us, it cannot serve for an excuse to the evil which we do in following it, and it only proves that in following it we Continue to do evil.

VII.

JESƲS CHRIST, sayes Tertul­lian, is not called the Custome, but [Page 70] the Truth; and we may say that the World is not call'd the Truth, but the Custom; it cannot esta­blish its Maximes but upon Custom, because they are not strengthned but by Error; but Jesus Christ hath establish'd his Lawes with­out the succour, and contrary to the Authority of Custom, because they are founded upon Truth. Upon Truth, against which not any Cu­stom can prescribe, which Men and Devils may attaque, but are not able to destroy; and to which neither length of Time, nor au­thority of Persons, nor difference of Places can do any prejudice. So that as we cannot without a Crime quit a Custom which Rea­son and Truth have introduced and authorized, we ought to set our selves against a Custom which Truth and Reason both condemn; otherwise 'tis less to approve of Custom than Error, it is to ac­custome our selves to do ill. In­stead of diminishing our fault, it [Page 71] is to augment the number of guil­ty Souls in imitating those who have before us observed this evil Custome.

VIII.

IT was upon this Foundation that the great St. Chry­sostome, Chrysost. Hom. 12. in 1. ad Corinth. Noli mihi adducere consue­tudinem: nam si ma­lum est ne semel qui­dem faciendum, itaque sic ornanda sponsa est, ut si malum est, ne se­mel quidem fiat, &c. Sed propter hoc ma­ximè deflendum est quod in consuetudinem haec traxit Diabolus. condemning the manner of the dresses of new-married people of his time, as being contrary to Christian modesty, answer'd those that objected to him that they followed the Custom; that the De­vil being the Author of this Custome, they ought to sigh and groan to see it establish­ed, and not to continue in the practice of it; that since it was an evil to be apparell'd in the Mode and Fashion of those Brides, they should be so far from conti­nuing in doing it, that they ought [Page 72] to desire it had never been done, and to believe that an ill mode is but too much observed, when it is but one time followed.

IX.

'TIS then in vain that Maids and Women do labour to excuse their nakedness by the Authority of Custom; and the more they pre­tend that the Custom is ancient, the more they contribute, with­out thinking of it, to augment their faults; It is ancient 'tis true, and so ancient that it was before Christianity it self. It is a Custom that many Idolaters have at all times approved of, and which the Devils themselves have taught the Women, according to the opini­on of Tertullian, and some other Fathers of the Church. So that the Women who would fain make the Antiquity of this Custom serve for their Iustification, im­prudently accuse themselves to [Page 73] be the Disciples of the Devil, and and the Apes of Heathen Women, to prefer the disorders of Pagan­isme to the rules of the Gospel, and to be willing to continue the abuse which Jesus Christ came with a design to destroy.

X.

WE may likewise assure them, that when they presume to lessen their Sin, in saying it is but a con­sequence and an ordinary effect of a long Custom, that they confess against their Intention, they ex­pose themselves to a punishment that is both more hasty and great: for who is ignorant that the more an evil Custom is ancient, the more it hath irritated God's wrath? And who knows if God at last being wearied with seeing for so long a time the Christian Maids and Wo­men, who are a shame and scan­dal to their Religion by their nakedness, and who do labour to [Page 74] renew a piece of Idolatry in get­ing to themselves Adorets, and in shewing themselves in the Tem­ples and places of worship a­dorn'd and naked just as Idols; who knows, I say, if God being weary with all these disorders, will not convert his patience into fury; and if after he hath pardon­ed even to this present time those who have committed them, he will not sacrifice to his Justice those who go on to commit them fur­ther?

XI.

WELL then, once more I say it is in vain that those Maids and Women who make a profession of Christianity, alledge as an ex­cuse for their nakedness, the Ex­ample and Custom of many Ages. If they think the Authority of Cu­stom can justify them, they must then confess in spight of all resi­stance, that the Authority of Custom [Page 75] can condemn them; and upon this foundation, it is easie to con­found them, and to convince them of Errour. They alledge a cri­minal custom, there is opposite to it a holy custom; They alledge a custom which is repugnant to the Maximes of our faith, the opposite to it is a Custom conformable to the precepts of Jesus Christ; They alledge a Custom which the worldly and licentious Women have practis'd according to the Examples of Idolaters; The op­posite to it is a Custom which the true Christians have always fol­low'd, to distinguish them from I­dolaters. Since that they will re­gulate themselves upon Custom, they must of necessity choose one of the two, and by their Choice they range themselves either on the side of Heathen Women, and those that are past all sense of shame and modesty, who have ap­proved of the use of naked Necks and Shoulders, or else on [Page 76] the side of Christian and modest women who have allways had a horror to appear half naked. Alas! will not they be asham'd to let all the world know that they have no respect for a Custom but when it is an ingagement to a Crime, and that they do disapprove it when it does set us at a distance from vice, and leads us on to pi­ety?

XII.
The second Excuse.

THEY say for a second Excuse, that it is not expressly forbid in Scripture to uncover ones neck, and therefore they don't think they do amiss in going so. We must confess that lust is very in­dustrious, as ignorant and as blind as it is! Sometimes it hinders us from knowing vertue in darken­ing to us the illuminations of rea­son and faith; Sometimes it per­suades [Page 77] us that vice is unknown to us although we have a perfect knowledge of it, and making an equal use of those darknesses to conceal from us the good that we ought to do, and the evil which we have done: It makes us fall into Sin, either by a gross ignorance, or by an ignorance that is voluntary. And to which of these two ignorances shall we impute, or rather to which of them shall we not impute those Maids and Women, who say that they do not believe they have done amiss in shewing their nak­ed Necks so as they have done?

XIII.

ARE not they guilty of a gross and criminal ignorance, if after all that the Ministers do continually preach in their Pulpits, after all that the learned Doctors do teach in their books, after all that the Confessors say in their tribunals, [Page 78] after what they have promised in their baptism, after what Jesus Christ and the Apostles have com­manded them, and after what the Church hath prescribed them, they do not know that it is their duty to be and appear chast, and to justify the Innocence of their manners by an Exteriour mode­sty? are not they guilty of an af­fected ignorance, which is with­out doubt the fatallest of all igno­rances, if to the prejudice of the promise they have made to God in their Baptism, and knowing that Jesus Christ, the Apostles, the Church, the Ministers, the Con­fessors, the Doctors and gener­ally all persons of Piety do con­demn this nakedness, they ima­gine themselves to be able with­out a crime to approve of them by their deportments and by their conduct?

XIV.

WHEN the holy Scripture teaches them, that the first Wo­man as Criminal as she was, was a­sham'd to see her self naked,Gen. c. 3. does not she teach them that they can­not be innocent, and take a pride in making themselves to appear in such a naked and indecent po­sture? when the Scripture pro­poses to us a worldly Woman, who goes with uncovered breasts,Ezek. c. 16. as the model of Sinners, does not she reproach them for the sin they commit in showing their snowy and mountainous hills to all spe­ctators? when the Scripture com­mands Maids and Women to cover their heads, and faces with a veil, does it not then by an argument à fortiori command them to hide their Necks and their Shoulders? In a word, when the Scripture ex­horts them to be modest, and a­dorned with shame,1 Tim. c. 2. rather than [Page 80] with gold, and pearl, and preti­ous stones, does it not point out to them that they ought no less to avoid immodesty than impurity, and by consequence that they ought carefully to avoid going with naked Necks and Shoulders, which is no less an effect of impu­rity than of immodesty? how can they then without abusing them­selves, and putting a vile cheat up­on their reason and their senses, excuse the abuse of nakedness, un­der pretence that it is not ex­pressly forbid by the holy Scrip­ture?

XV.

BUT also how can they say, without belying themselves, that they do not believe they do ill in discovering one part of their bodies, since that the attractions of Grace which they resent, the rules of their faith which they know, the Maximes of their Reli­gion [Page 81] which they are not ignorant of, and the movements of nature it self, the secret impressions of which they are sensible of in spight of themselves, do reproach them for their doing ill? They have enough to do to indeavour to stifle the voice of their Consci­ence, it will continually tell them that modesty and bashfulness are the natural appavage and portion of Women, that they betray the interests and the glory of their sex when they suffer themselves to be seen with their bodies half naked, that all Women are as to this regard naturally Christians, and that they ought to do some violence to the instinct and incli­nation to hide their breasts, which nature inspires them with, to fol­low the irregularity of the mode which sollicites and stirrs them up to uncover them.

XVI.

THE world it self to which they would be conformed, con­tributes to convince them of their evil faith, and to make them see that they do know the evil which they commit: for it is certain that the cajoling complaisance and gallantry (wherein consists the most innocent Air and Spirit of that which they call the world and the age,) it is certain, I say, that the most innocent cajoling complaisance and gallantry, either of worldly men, or women, is most usually terminated in the praising of the beauty of those parts which are most open and exposed to common view. And both of them know by a fatal ex­perience that prophane Love pla­ces it self upon a fair Neck as up­on an Eminence, from whence it attacques us with advantage; that it remains there as upon a [Page 83] throne where it pleasurably exer­cises its domination; that it takes its repose there as upon a bed were it combates without pain, and where it triumphs without imploying any other arms than Softness it self.

XVII.

MEN do very well know how dangerous it is to look upon a naked bosome; and your vain and light Women are sensible how advantagious it is to them to show it; Men say and say again to the women, how much they are smit­ten at the sight of their Necks and Shapes; the Women know the pernicious effects which the beau­ty of their Shapes and Necks pro­duce in the minds of men; and af­ter that, they dare to say they do not believe they do amiss, when they study as much as they can how they may bare all their necks and shoulders, and so show at the [Page 84] same time, and by one and the same address, all the beauty of their shapes. Ought they not ra­ther acknowledge that they are seduced by the world which they love, and ingenuously confess that after it has instructed them of the danger to which they are expos'd themselves, and to which they expose others by their nakedness, it hides from them that danger, when any occasion presents it self to satisfy their vanity, and to cap­tivate any heart? that to render them the more Criminal, it obli­ges them to feign that they are ignorant of the evils they are the cause of, and to indeavour to hide their faults under the umbrage of a false and pretended ignorance?

XVIII.
The third Excuse.

THEY will answer me, with­out doubt, that they have not [Page 85] any evil Intention when they make bare their Necks and Shoul­ders: that if there happens from thence any inconveniences, they come from the weakness or the incontinence of men. And to ju­stify that their design is not to please the world, nor to create to themselves any Lovers from those that behold them: It is suf­ficient, they say, to remark that those who have resolv'd not to go out of their doores, and who know that they shall see no bo­dy; that those who are retired into Cloysters, where they com­monly converse with none but with their Nuns and Abbesses, do yet usually go with their Arms and Breasts uncovered,

XIX.

WE MUST confess that all Love which hath only the crea­ture for its object, is blind, wheth­er it be that whereby we love o­thers, [Page 86] or that whereby we love our selves. But if ever there be any one love in the world more blind than another, it is most cer­tainly that of self-love, for it does not only hinder us from blaming our defects, but it also does hin­der us from knowing them. It sees nothing in us but what is pleasing to it, and it does still ap­prove of both what we say or do, because it does never disco­ver any imperfection to us in ei­ther of them. 'Tis this alone which hath given these Maids and Women this third excuse; and which after it has falsly per­suaded them that they may with­out Scandal and Sin appear as it were half naked to the view of all the world, makes them believe it is a good reason to say that they have no evil intention.

XX.

THEY dare not maintain that their Intention is good, and that the end they propose to themselves is pious and holy, since that what they do excites to impurity, and is repugnant to all the Maxims of Christian Piety and holiness; they cannot say that their Intention is indifferent, since that not ha­ving any design either to render themselves agreeable to God, who has testified his extream aversion to the nakedness which they af­fect, nor to observe the Precepts of the Scripture which they vio­late, nor to conform themselves to the Cannons of the Church, which they despise, nor to follow the sentiments of the Saints which they condemn. They must then necessarily think, either of plea­sing others, or of satisfying them­selves, unless they will ingenu­ously confess that they are in that [Page 88] point more deprived of Reason than the brute Beasts, and that what they do, they do it with­out any motive, and without knowing wherefore.

XXI.

IT IS difficult to conceive, that they are not desirous either to please Men or Women, and that indifferently shewing their nakedness to all the World, they do not at all care whether they have the approbation of any or no. But yet for all this I will be­lieve it, that so I may please them, and suppose with them that it is not so simply, but to satisfie themselves. Do they think they are less guilty by it? and if it be ap­parently a vanity or sensuality in being willing to make ones own self be beloved, or esteemed by the nakedness of one particular part of their body, is it not also a se­cret vanity and sensuality to take [Page 89] a delight and pleasure in this na­keness? Shame, honesty, and chastity are repugnant to it, and therefore this pleasure can't be neither pure, honest, nor chaste; so much the more as it is impos­sible that she, who is pleas'd with looking upon her own Bosome, should not be at all concerned that others should admire it too; she accustoms her self, without thinking of it, to be seen, and so insensibly is disposed to desire, that the complaisancy she has for her own Beauty, should be con­firmed by the whole World; so that we may boldly conclude, that with what thoughts soever the Women do flatter themselves, who love to have their Necks bare, their Intention can never be good, but is always much worse than they imagine.

XXII.

AND though it should be [Page 90] granted that their intention might be really innocent, yet would they not thereby be exempt from blame; either because whatso­ever intention they have, we are always to be blamed when we do a thing which we know is con­demned by the holy Scriptures,1 Thes. c. 5. v. 22. ab omni specie ma­la abstine­te vos. by Reason, and by the very in­stinct of Nature: or because ac­cording to the Doctrine of the Apostle, we ought to avoid not only all that is evil, but likewise all that hath any appearance of evil. And they cannot deny, that, doing the same thing which ev­en the shameless and licentious Women do, their conduct does not bear also the Character of Shamelesness and Libertinisme, and that one may without too much rashness, suspect them for being of the number of those whose Example they follow.

XXIII.

BUT they do not only expose themselves to the loss of their Re­putation, but they do greatly run the hazard of losing their In­nocence too; their Chastity is even struck and wounded by e­very glance of a loose and wan­ton Eye, and their modesty is shockt by the vain approbations which are given them; the Idea of their Breasts does not less en­ter into their imagination, than into that of the men, who con­sider it attentively, and commend it; and, as they most commonly do, joyn the Idea of all the bo­dy to that of their Breasts, being persuaded that they shew the Beauty of the one, to make that of the other be better judged of, they easily cause them to be of those sentiments they would in­spire them with, and so only fill their minds with their own image, [Page 92] but with an Image that is sensual, which imprints in their Souls by little and little the Inclinations of those Libertines that behold them. The Chastity of a Woman,Tertul. lib. de Virg. Vela. Vera & tota & pura virginitas nihil magis timet quam se­ipsam, etiam foemina­rum oculos pati non vult, confugit ad vela­men. sayes Tertul­lian, when it is true and perfect, does not fear any thing so much as her self, she cannot endure the eyes of o­ther Women; she trem­bles when she meets with those of men, and she does so much more apprehend her own eyes, as according as she is habituated to see her self naked, she loses the liberty of being able with Justice to blame those who take pleasure in seeing her naked­ness; and in the same manner as Libertines do onely imitate her, in being pleas'd to behold her uncovered Breasts, so does she imitate the Libertines, and beholds them, as they do, with sensuality.

XXIV.

I DOUBT not but many among them may tell me they do sufficiently know themselves not to fear any such thing. But I will answer them, that this very con­fidence they have of their vertue, is a great disposition to them not to be much longer vertuous: she that does not fear to lose her In­nocence, will not be over curious and watchful to preserve it, and the less precaution she takes, the greater danger she runs, and the more she neglects the danger to which she exposes her self, she is the less capable to get out of it with success. But how can they without presumption believe they will not consent to any thought that shall be against purity, when by the nakedness of their Breasts, they labour to imprint impure sentiments in the hearts of many persons? One always participates [Page 94] a little of the fault which one causes others to be guilty of, and therefore they cannot be perfect­ly chaste, if they favour impuri­ty at the same time as they make their boasts of having a horror for it. Do not they know by their own experience, that corporal Beauty is only fit to awaken Lust in us, that it easily excites and augments all the Ardours of it; and to speak the Language of the Fathers, that it invites us to sin­ful Volupty, and provokes us to dishonest Love? and are they ignorant that their own Beauty may become as fatal to them in inspiring and swelling them up with vanity, as to those who thereby are inflamed with Love? for who can believe that a Wo­man shews her Neck and Breasts for any to despise them?

XXV.

'TIS most certain then that [Page 95] they do run the hazard of losing their Innocence, when by the nakedness of their necks they lay snares for the Innocence of others: and whatever they may say, it is very plain that they do expose themselves to Sin by either a mo­tion of pride, or of impurity. Pos­sibly some may be found who by a particular happiness are able to secure themselves from either of these Sins; but yet they shall not exempt themselves from the re­proach of being too hazardously expos'd to commit them. And though, as it is impossible, their Intention should be good, and their self-nakedness irreprehensi­ble, though they should remain pure and humble among the vain applauses, and unchast regards of dissolute Libertines, yet they would still be guilty of those bea­stly and nauseous thoughts which they inspire them withall, and of those evils which they cause.

XXVI.

'TIS THE Doctrine of Ter­tullian, and of the great St. Cy­prian, Tertul. Lib. de cultu foem. Perit ille ut tuam formam concupierit, & fa­cta es tu gladius illi, ut si culpâ vaces ab invidia non libereris. Cyprian. Lib. de habit. & discipl. Virg. Si tu sumptiosius co­mas te & oculos in te ju­ventutis illicias ut etsi ip­sa non pereas alios ta­men perdas & velut gla­dium te & venenum prae­beas videntibus, excusari non potes quasi mente ca­sta sis & pudica redargu­it te cultus improbus & impudicus ornatus after whom I may certainly with Justice address these words to them. If your gait be too full of pride, if you ad­just your self with too much artifice, if you do dress your self in such a manner as to draw upon you the eyes of young wantons; know that you, having given them the killing glance, and the venome that poi­sons them, are not innocent of their loss, although you have not at all desired it. You are criminal although you have not committed any crime your selves, under pre­tence that your Soul hath not [Page 95] been sullied with any impure thought, since that your undecent garb and cloaths accuse you, and your nakedness so fatal to many young men does condemn you. You are the sword which hath given death to that man, who seeing your naked breasts, hath fell under the temptation, and yielded to the Sin: you are as the stains and corruption of his blood; wherefore then do you flatter your selves with the thoughts that you are not tainted, but are innocent? will it be per­mitted you after you have been advertised of the dreadful effects which your nakedness causes, to render your selves voluntarily the homicides and murtherers of a Christian Soul, without our be­ing able to impute any fault to you, whilest that those are taxed as Criminals who are but the Mur­therers of bodies, and who do it only through imprudence, and without any design?

XXVII.

PRAY Remember that God heretofore ordained by the mouth of Moses, Exod. c. 22. v. 6. that if any one kindled a fire, which by an un­expected accident, and against his Intention, did burn the corn and fruits of his neighbour, he should be oblig'd to give him a full satisfaction for his dammage; and therefore consider and ac­knowledge your selves to be al­ways responsible for all the evils which the fires you kindle by your nakedness, do cause in the hearts of those who behold and admire you.

XXVIII.

SAINT Jerome goes further; and in his Commentary upon I­saiah, he assures us, that if a Maid or Woman dresses her self in so extravagant and vain a manner as [Page 97] to attract the Eyes of Men, and stirr up unlawful desires,Hieron. in Isa. Quia ve­nenum at­tulit si fu­isset qui bi­bisset. she com­mitts a Crime which sometimes deserves a severe punishment, al­though indeed she does not actu­ally her self commit any crime; because she prepares and presents a poison that may give death, and it is otherwise than she in­tended, or at least contrary to all probability, if no body drinks of it.

XXIX.

ALAS! according to the Do­ctrine of St. Clemens Alexandrinus, there are many occasions in which a Christian sins,Lib. 7. Strom. nam si ita se ges­sisset, ut jubet ver­bum seu ratio, ejus vitam ita esset re­veritus vicinus, ut non peccaret. only because he does not live in such a strict and mo­dest manner, as might be sufficiently exemplary to restrain and curb the liber­tinisme of Sinners, and to inspire in them a shame and horror of their crimes, or a fear of the [Page 98] Judgments of Almighty God. What can we think of those Maids and Women, who by their immodest nakedness do become a very strong and pressing occasion of Sin? who, far from going a­bout by their modesty to suppress the impure and filthy sentiments which their sight may beget in the hearts of Men, do renew and bring a double accession to them by their immodesty? who, far from doing any thing to shew their repugnancy to Libertinism, do favour and cherish it by shew­ing themselves so shamlessly nak­ed?

XXX.

AS THERE is nothing more divine and spiritual than to put men at a good remove from vice, and to bring them over to vertue; so there is nothing more Diabolical than to tempt and pro­voke them to Sin; and yet this [Page 99] do those Women who pretend to so much innocence. And in the same manner as the Devil is not less a Devil, that is to say, less a Deceiver, less agreeable and pleas­ing to God, and less worthy of punishment, when his temptati­ons and efforts are unprofitable to him, and he endeavours in vain to seduce us; so may not we say with proportion, that those Women, who tempt us with shew­ing their naked necks and shoul­ders, are not less guilty, when they do not stir up in us any dis­honest and wanton affection, as when they do inspire with a pro­phane love those who cast their eyes upon them?

XXXI.

LET not them then cast up­on the weakness and incontinence of men, the sins of which they are the principal cause; that men are weak, it must be confess'd; but [Page 100] therefore in all sober opinions they ought not to tempt them. That men are incontinent it can­not be denied; but then they are in that so much the more guilty, as not being ignorant of their in­continence, they yet do stir them up to Impurity. Do they think that the Precept of Loving their Neighbour, and of interessing themselves for their Safety, was only given to the men? do they pretend that this fundamental Law of Christianity, was not a Law too for them, but that they are permitted to violate it with impunity? they know, they own, and publish that the men do give themselves up to the Flames of an unchaste Love, and they ima­gine that it does not wound Chri­stian Charity, and Natural Ho­nesty, when they voluntarily set themselves out in such a loose and inticing manner, as may ex­cite illegitimate Fires in their Hearts. Is it not a deplorable [Page 101] blindness, and such a blindness as does so much the more become fatal to those Maids and Women, as it conceals from them their own weakness and their own in­continence?

XXXII.

LET them know, that if men are weak, They are so likewise, and that they are not less incon­tinent than them. Let them con­sider, that at the same time they tempt men, they expose them­selves to be tempted by men. They tempt them by the Beauty of their Necks, they expose them­selves to be tempted by their Flatteries and Complements; they inspire them with a dishonest pas­sion; the other express to them the ardour of their passion they resent; They have charm'd them with their Eyes; the Men bewitch them by the Ears: They return them, as I may so phrase it, their [Page 102] own Coin of Love again; and then they always receive it with pleasure, and without repugnance, as a thing which originally pro­ceeds from themselves as well as from the Men, and which is an effect of their merit, and of their Beauty.

XXXIII.

BOAST then as much as you please of your strength of Vertue and your Chastity, ye Women of the Times! who so freely and so boldly uncover your Breasts; ma­gnifie you selves for your being insensible of the bonne mine, the Gallantry, the Rhetorick, the Janty Dress, the Magnificence, and in one word, of all that is charming to men. It is enough that you are sensible of your own Charms to be in danger of perish­ing, since it is by them that they tempt you; and you cannot dis­cover but that you have, not on­ly [Page 103] a sensibility; but a particular Reverence and Value for your own Charmes, since you cannot resolve to conceal them: and not­withstanding all the reproaches which Nature, Reason, Religion and Piety make you, you will make them all appear by the nak­edness of your Armes, your Necks and Shoulders. But if you are not concern'd for the Salvation of others, at least be wise and think of your own: if you make no scruple to tempt men, take heed, and fear the temptations of men, and cover that half naked Body by which you tempt them, and which serves them for a Sub­ject and a Pretence to tempt you.

XXXIV.

BUT without doubt, these vain and worldly Women doe con­fess in spight of all their resistance, that the peril wherein they en­gage the men is common with [Page 104] them; and when they appear half naked, they do the office of the Devil's Champion-Wrestlers, and as I may say, they enter into the Lists to combate for his Glory: They ought not less to think of defending themselves than of at­tacquing, and indeed they ought so much the more to fear lest they fall and are worsted in this Combat, as they do not attacque men but with the Armes of Impu­rity, and they, as I may say, do re-attacque them with those of Impurity and of Vanity both to­gether.

XXXV.

'TIS likewise for their secu­rity as well as for ours; 'tis for their Salvation, as well as for the Salvation of men, that the Fathers of the Church and the great men have from age to age declaimed against Balls, Playhouses and o­ther publick Spectacles where [Page 105] Women shew their Necks and Breasts with the greatest liberty and advantage. How innocent soever those Spectacles be in them­selves, they become in some man­ner criminal, in that they are so dangerous both for Women and Men. For the men, because they give them an absolute libertie, and also a mighty opportunity of considering leisurely and with at­tention the naked Breasts of Wo­men. For the Women, because they meet with a most fatal in­convenience there, and they do often find there an unavoidable necessity to hear the lewd and di­shonest discourses of dissolute men, who under pretence of ap­plauding their good Grace and their Beauty, lay Snares whereby to intangle their Vertue, to wound also, and weaken their Shame and Immodesty.

XXXVI.

THIS is what the Heathens themselves have acknowledged, if we may believe one of the great­est Libertines of their Poets; Ovid. Fast. and Tertullian Censors of Rome, Tert. Lib. de spect. Saepe Censores nascen­tia cum maxime The­tra destruebant mori­bus consulentes, quo­rum, scilicet perículum ingens de lascivia pro­videbant. who by the duty of their charge were obliged to remedy the corruption of manners, and to hinder it, if it were possible, did often­times destroy the new Theatres which they had erected to hold the people that assem­bled to them, foreseeing, sayes he, that the free commerce the Men had with the Women in those sorts of Assemblies, would become a commerce of impurity and defilement, and that they would corrupt one the other, not coming thither but appa­rently for this design, because they dress themselves with so much curiousness and pompous art.

XXXVII.

FROM thence comes it, sayes the same Tertullian, that the Great Pompey, after he had caus'd a ve­ry magnificent Theatre to be built, fearing lest it might bring a ble­mish upon his Reputation, and the people would accuse him for having favour'd Unchastity and Libertinisme, called his Theatre the house of Venus, and made it to be consecrated as a Temple, to veil his fault under the covert of Religion. But in that he con­secrated his Edifice to the Goddess of unchaste Love, he seem'd, me­thinks, to hint to us, that his brave Structure should be as the Asylum and Fortress of Impurity; and if I may be permitted to use the expression, as the Amphitheatre, and Scaffold, where Innocence, Honesty, and Chastity should be sacrificed. So difficult is it for men to keep themselves innocent [Page 108] among Women that are so glori­ous in their Dresses, and naked in their Bodies; and for Women to conserve all their purity in the company of wild Sparks, who make it all their study and busi­ness to flatter and please them, and who entertain them freely with the violence of their passi­ons. Both the Men and the Women do study their pleasure and di­vertisement in those As­semblies,Nemo ad voluptatem venit sine affectu, ne­mo affectum sine casi­bus suis patitur. Tert. de Spect. and both of them therefore esteem and love pleasure: and how can they avoid those lamentable consequences of the irregular affection of volupty at the same time, when they only think of satisfying it?

XXXVIII.

I HAVE not forgot that there are Maids and Women who think they are allow'd to go with nak­ed Necks, at least when they are [Page 109] in their house, where there are none but those of their own fa­mily, and when they are in a Cloyster where they only converse with Nuns & Abbesses: for in those two cases, they say, we cannot have any design to please men; and we can neither cause scandal, nor in­spire any evil thoughts. It is ve­ry easie to answer them, that though it should be true, that in those two occasions their naked­ness cannot prejudice any person, it is sufficient that it may be of fa­tal consequence to themselves. A woman truly chast does not only fear and avoid both strangers and domestick eyes; but even her own; and she who accustoms her self to go with deep naked Necks, by her usual habit comes not to have any shame of her nakedness, and by consequence prepares her self to make others see her without any scruple. It is not necessary that she be desir­ous to please men in discovering [Page 110] her bosome, to make her self guil­ty, It is sufficient that she desires to please her self to become so; for since the value she hath for her own beauty is not of a nature different from that which she may have for the beauty of o­thers, she is not less sensual, nor does she excite any motions that are more Innocent.

XXXIX.

MOREOVER, if these Maids and Women do not ex­pose their nakedness to the view of men, it is only by accident; and I dare say that it is apparently a­gainst their Intention: for what likelyhood is there, that the de­sire and indeed the habit they have to shew their Necks, should be destroy'd and vanish, when they think a man ought to see them? and at the same time there­fore that this habit and desire ought in all probability to be re­newed [Page 111] and increas'd? what like­lyhood is there that they should refuse any opportunity to hear themselves commended for those breasts they are so strangely charm­ed with, and which they do not discover, but only to con­serve, augment, or shew the Beauty of them? in a word, what likelyhood is there that those who cannot resolve with thems [...]lves to have their necks covered, when they are alone, should take care to hide them, when volupty, self-love, and vanity most powerful­ly sollicite them to shew 'em most bare and naked?

XL.

BUT FROM whence have they learnt, except it be from error, and a lye, or dream, that they cannot do any hurt to their family, although they do go with their breasts and shoulders naked? may not I say to them [Page 112] with Tertullian: Oro te sive ma­ter, sive soror, si­ve filia, virgo, vela caput; si mater, propter filios; si soror, propter fratres; si filia, propter patres; omnes in te aetates periclitantur. Tert. Lib. de Virg. veland. whether you are a mother, or daughter, or Sister; if you are a mother, be vail'd be­cause of your children, be not any cause of temptati­on to your Sons, do not give any ill example to your Daughters: If you be a daughter, be vail'd, be­cause of your Father: if you are a Sister, cover your Neck and Breasts because of your brothers: and whatever you be, Sister, Daughter, or Mother, be vail'd because of your Servants. There is no age, nor quality which ex­empts a man from being tempted by the sight of a naked Neck; and the Inclination that Nature inspires into us for our Neigh­bours proves oftentimes a disposi­tion to the dishonest love which the Devil suggests to us.

XLI.

OF WHOM could they have learnt, but of the Father of Lyes and Errors, that they did not scandalize any person by their nakedness, under pretence that they are retired into Monasteries, where they have scarce any so­ciety but with Virgins consecra­ted and devoted to God? Could they be the cause of a greater scandal in the Church, than of com­ing to attacque Innocence even in its Asylum, and Chastity even in its strongest Castle; the Nuns are shut up in Cloisters, the bet­ter to be able to resist the Devil, and the Charms of voluptuous­ness; these Maids and Women insinuate themselves into the Cloy­sters, and by their naked Necks do become the very Devils, and tempters of these Nuns, the very Ministers and furtherers of sensu­ality. Those Religious Votaries [Page 114] for Heaven have preferr'd a per­petual prison to the criminal Li­berty which the world inspires, and have rendred themselves ca­ptive to Jesus Christ, that so they might be free from the tyranny of sin; but these Maids and Wo­men enter half naked into those Sacred Cloysters to introduce there the Libertinisme of the Age, and to shake even the Devotion of those holy Nuns, to change the Captivity of those happy Vestals, and to make them the Slaves of the Vanities of the World, where­as they are now Servants to the Law of Jesus Christ. They sollicit those Spouses of our God to be unfaithful to him; they renew in their minds the Idea of the pleasures they have renounced, and seem to give them a secret re­proach for having left the world for God, and a private Lesson to quit God for the World. Do they not think they scandalize our [Page 115] Religion as well as those holy Nuns? and can they doubt but that they serve as a scandal to those Religious persons that have any solid Piety, and that they are not the cause of your irregu­larities, and it may be too of the destruction of those that have but a weak, and staggering Devotion?

XLII.

WHAT fellowship can there be, sayes the great Apostle, be­tween Jesus Christ and Beliel? and what communion ought there to be between the Spouses of Jesus Christ, and those of Beliel: that is to say, of the world, which re­fuses to bear the yoke of Jesus Christ? If the loose VVomen of the Age will live Nuns, they ought to live then as becomes Nuns; they ought to imitate their mo­desty, so far should they be from wounding their bashfulness; they ought to learn from them to live [Page 116] like Christians, so far should they be from teaching them to live like worldlings; they ought to ima­gine that if there be not any men in Cloysters, yet the Angels are there in the room of men; and that if they do not tempt the An­gels by their nakedness, they dis­please them, they offend them, and they provoke them.

XLIII.
The Fourth Excuse.

AFTER this, what can there be alledg'd for the justification of those Maids and VVomen, who affect going with naked Necks? will they say that they ought to be suffered to uncover their bo­some, since it is allowed that they should go with their Faces bare, and that it is principally by the beauty of the countenance, that they are surprizing to the eyes, and do touch the heart? It may [Page 117] be answer'd them, It is only through condescention that the Church allows them to go without a veil over their heads, and that this relaxing of the modesty of the first Christians, cannot serve for a reason to give them greater li­berty, and to conform themselves wholly to the vanities of the age.

XLIV.

BUT, Suppose it has been e­ver been held lawful and becom­ing for Christian Maids and Wo­men to appear in publick with their Faces unveiled, we may not conclude from thence, methinks, that they may publickly shew their Necks quite naked also. On the contrary, we ought to inferr, that the Church, having only permit­ted them to make a discovery of their Faces, hath tacitly forbid­den them to let any of their breasts be seen: and certainly, there is a great deal of difference [Page 118] between baring their breasts, and shewing their Faces. The natu­ral Society and civil communion which one has with the other, do require that we should be able mutually to know one another; and as we cannot be known but by the face, they have given a just foundation to introduce the custom both among men and wo­men to go with their Faces bare and uncovered, though the wo­men ought to use it with a great deal more precaution than the Men. But what necessity is there that they should discover their Necks and Breasts? what motive can oblige them to it which is not criminal? what can they make known by that, except it be what they ought to conceal?

XLV.

AGAIN FURTHER, There is nothing that is repugnant to the retreating bashfulness and mode­sty [Page 119] of their Sex, in going with their Faces unveil'd; and if a Maid or a Woman appears modest in veiling her face, she may make it much more apparent, in disco­vering a holy shamefac'dness upon her brow. She shews only that she is discreet in covering her face; but she may in a better manner instruct us of her wisdom, when she gives us the liberty to look upon that face, wherein the charms of a natural sweetness are as it were sanctified by a prudent gravity, and a Christian reserve. In short, nothing is more capable to beget a respect and esteem for their Sex, than this chaste shame­fulness and blushing modesty which is conspicuous in a lovely Face: it stifles all the sensual sen­timents which beauty may possi­bly create in our hearts, and it makes it serve as an Instrument to Grace, to moderate and qualifie our illegitimate ardours, whereas the Devil pretended to fortifie the [Page 120] concupiscence of it, the more to inflame us. The eyes of a beau­tiful Woman, modestly inclin'd to the ground, condemns the indis­creet liberty, and licence which the young men take of viewing her all over, and we may say that they suppress and put a stop, do what they can, to the lascivious­ness of their looks. In a word, there is nothing more fit to in­spire modesty into such men as are most fleshly and licentious, than a prudent and a modest Wo­man, because they know that to please her, they must make them­selves like unto her, and nothing can better convince them of her Wisdom than the modesty that appears on her face.

XLVI.

THOSE Maids and Women then are not to be disapproved of who walk with their Faces un­veil'd, since it is by that princi­pally [Page 121] that they may appear what they ought to be. But by this same reason we ought to blame those who shew their naked Necks, be­cause they are repugnant to the natural bashfulness of Women, and hinder not only a Woman from being truly modest, but even from appearing so. It is alwayes to be suspected, that her reserved­ness is feigned, when she will shew those marks that make her seem to be lost to all shame, and her affected gravity will pass for an hidden hypocrisie, whil'st that she'll be endeavouring to make men fall in love with her, in pre­tending to neglect and despise their approbation: For there is this third difference between a Face unveiled and a naked Neck, that the beautiful face most com­monly causes surprize, and does not give less respect and admira­tion than tenderness: but a beau­tiful breast seldome or never be­gets other than sensual thoughts [Page 122] and dishonest sentiments, either because there cannot appear there either modesty, reservedness, or shame, as there does upon the face; or because it only presents to the mind a Corporeal and flesh­ly Idea, which cloggs it, and so straight carries it out to sensuali­ty; and that the face being the exteriour Seat of the Soul, and as its table, it sufficiently possesses, recreates, and satisfies the mind, and thereby oft-times diverts it from forming any criminal thoughts: or lastly, because God, having a regard to this almost in­evitable necessity wherein young Maids and Women are cast, of ap­pearing sometimes with their faces uncovered, either to make them­selves to be known, or to approach the Sacred Table, hinders the beauty of the face from becom­ing either so ordinary, or so pres­sing an occasion for men to sin, as the beauty of their Necks, which they discover without any [Page 123] necessity, and almost always out of a motive of self-love, of sensu­ality, or of vanity.

XLVII.
The fifth Excuse.

AFTER we have examin­ed the Excuses that are common to Maids and Women who have accustomed themselves to go with naked Necks, it is easie to answer the reason which both of them bring separately. The principal or rather the only one that is proper and peculiar to Maids, consists in saying that God and their own inclination calling them to marriage, they may in­nocently make use of all their beauty to inspire love, and to in­gage some young man in his Courtships to them, so much the more as they are most an end led by their senses, and are most ea­sily smitten by the eyes.

XLVIII

THIS Reason might be pos­sibly receivable from the mouth of a Heathen Maid, who knows nor acknowledges any other Laws than those of corrupt Na­ture, and of a prophane Religi­on. Though it may be objected to her with Justice that she Ecclips­es the glory of her virginity, which makes her so highly to be valued, when she renounces mo­desty, which is as the Gardian­ness of that virginity. Though it may be answered her, that her own proper self betrays her self, and she does a wrong to her Cha­stity by her own beauty; since that a Virgin ceases in some sort to be so, when but by her own fault she may be otherwise,Ex illo e­nim virgo desinit ex quo potest non esse Tert. de vela Virg. and that the naked neck she shews in­differently to all the world, gives others occasion to believe that if she be chast of body, possibly she [Page 125] is not so in mind. To conclude, though it may be said by way of reproach, that the too earnest de­sire she discovers to be a Woman, may make one presume that she is not an intire virgin, and that she has already given her self ma­ny husbands before any one hath offered to be so to her.

XLIX.

BUT can a Christian Maid, without forgetting what she is, say that she seeks a husband by the nakedness of her body? This is to bring to the marriage a dis­position absolutely contrary to the purity that it demands: since it being a perfect Image of the u­nion of Jesus Christ with his Church, it ought not only to be contracted without impurity, but to bring it about by ways that are intirely pure and innocent. These are the Virgins which chief­ly adorn the Church, & it belongs [Page 124] [...] [Page 125] [...] [Page 126] to the Church principally to a­dorn them; It belongs to Her, and to her Ministers, rather than to the Mode and the persons of the age, to regulate their habits, and their Ornaments, their meen and conduct, because it is Jesus Christ they ought to please, rather than the world. It is for him that they ought to demand a hus­band, and it is from him that they ought to receive him.

L.

THERE is not one among them but say Marriages are made in Heaven, before they are con­cluded on, on Earth; But yet they will take care that Heaven shall have no hand (as we say) in their Marriage, if they can pos­sibly help it, when they make use of so impure a means to get them­selves Married as that of naked­ness: and methinks, it is not from the hands of Jesus Christ, but [Page 127] from those of the friend of Leach­ery, Asmodeus, that they resolve to take a husband. They have recourse to the only Charms of their beauty inst ad of address­ing themselves to prayer; and from thence no doubt it comes that they lose the esteem and affe­ction of their husbands accord­ingly as their beauty diminishes. How proud and haughty soever they appear, yet they discover a baseness and submission, when they reduce themselves even to go half naked, and all that they may be able to please a man. And therefore it is possibly, that God, to whom this nakedness is so displeasing, permitts them to find in that man a Master who treats them ill, and not a husband who loves and cherishes them.

LI.

'TIS from God only, says So­lomon, that men can receive [Page 128] a wise and prudent Woman for their wife,Domus & Divitiae dantur à paren­tibus, à Domino autem propriè uxor prudens Prov. 19. 14. and so it is he only that can give a woman a rich, a loving, and faithful man for her hus­band. and if you demand of me what a Maid ought to do to obtain of God this husband, and so to lead a happy life in mar­riage, I will answer you with the same Solomon, that she both ought to be, and to appear modest.

Finis Modestiae divitiae & gloria & vita. Prov. 22. 4.

LII.

WHAT then do you think on, Christian Maidens, when you wound modesty by your naked Necks? do you not know that when God makes marriages, it is but for the mutual happiness of both the married parties? and e­ven as he gave a woman to the first Innocent man, to have a care of him; and to assist him in [Page 129] his labour; to lessen his troubles, by partaking of them, and to augment his pleasures, by partici­pating with him: so most com­monly he gives a wise and modest Maid a Husband to be a comfort and support to her, to be her Pro­tector, and her Father. Can you be ignorant that Marriages are al­most alwayes unfortunate, when the World is the Author of them, when Voluptuousness or vanity have been, as I may so speak, the Factors, and makers up of them, and that the men have not been engaged to them but by some sen­sual passion which the nakedness of your bodies have stirr'd up in them?

LIII.

YOU have only then to choose either to be in all probability hap­py, if you will be mindful to please God by your restrain'd garb and carriage, that so you may [Page 130] please a Man, and make him the witness and approver of your mo­desty, before he be your husband: or of evidently exposing your self to be miserable, if without ever taking any heed to gain the e­steem of those whom you desire for your husbands, you endea­vour only to beget in them a fool­ish love, which most an end goes out of the mind as easily as it en­tred into it, and which is almost as soon over, as the enjoyment of the pleasure which is proposed?

LIV.

IT IS no difficult thing to judge which side they ought to follow, if they are but reasonable creatures, and mean to be happy in the Marriages they aspire to. And we may be sure of this, that they may be so, they ought to keep their Arms covered, their breasts conceal'd, and their shoul­ders not exposed to the view of [Page 131] men, so far should they be from shewing them as now they do. Men make a great deal of diffe­rence between a Curtisan, or a light woman, and a Wife; they love that nakedness in those whom they look upon as the former, but do extremely disapprove of it in those whom they desire to make their Wives. Nothing more plea­ses them in a Maid, than a modest gravity, and a natural beauty, without Art, and studied wayes of setting it out. 'Tis only their irregularity and their passion that sometimes approves of Womens naked breasts and shoulders; their reason and their prudence always condemns it; they know that that proceeds from one and the same principle of being desirous to look upon a fair Neck, and of affecting to shew it: and as they are sensible by themselves that it is most difficult to behold it inno­cently and with pleasure, they judge that Maid who is so pleas'd [Page 132] with having it seen by them, not to be so innocent as she would fain appear, and be thought for. And as they cannot doubt but this is a great sign of piety and devo­tion in a young man, when he blushes at the sight of a naked neck, and avoids the looking on it, they are convinc'd that a Maid is pious and devout, when she is asham'd to uncover her breasts, and therefore keeps it equally from her own sight, and that of others too.

LV.

O PRUDENCE of the Flesh, how blind art thou, and how de­ceiving! the Maids of this Age pretend to secure and advance their Marriages by the nakedness of their Necks; and it is by that they deferr them, or it may be totally hinder them; they are not careful in pleasing God, through the hopes of their being able to be [Page 133] pleasing to man; and God suffers them to appear less amiable to that man, by that means, by which they labour so much to please him; they lose his approbation and esteem, in desiring to surprize his affecti­on, and they discourage him to marry any of them, by their am­bition to engage him to it.

LVI.

THEY know as well as men, that the beauty of the bosome hath this property, that it almost con­tinually inspires dishonest Senti­ments: why will they then excite that in others which they profess themselves not to resent? or why don't they believe that the men suspect them for having the same sentiments as they would inspire into them? and if they do believe it, what is their blindness, to ima­gine that from their naked breasts should arise a legitimate Love? and to perswade themselves that a [Page 133] man loves such a disposition in a woman which is proposed to him for his Wife.

LVII.

MOREOVER, when they do so extremly affect to shew what e­ver they have of beautiful, and to heighten the loveliness of their fa­ces, in discovering the regular from of their bosomes, the whitness and the delicacy of their necks, do not they make a plain indication that they place all their confidence in the sole beauty of their body, and that they have neither wit enough, nor a sufficient Vertue, to make themselves be admired and loved; or that they despise Vertue and Wit in compare with their beauty? do they account this a very Judici­ous way to perswade a man that their possession will be his felicity, and that they will be so reserv'd and prudent, so discreet and pious as a Woman ought to be to render her husband happy?

LVIII.

THERE are almost none in the Christian world but know that Virgins are the spouses of Jesus Christ: and when we consi­der them in that quality, we may say that they in some manner are entring into their Second Nupti­als, the very first time that they are actually married. And as we Judge of a womans conduct in her second marriage, by that which she has observed during the time of her first, we common­ly do infer in what manner a Maid will live with her husband, by that in which she used to live during her virginity to Jesus Christ her first spouse. If when she is a Maid, she appear wise, modest, and reserved; It is pre­sum'd that she will not cease be­ing so when she is become a wife; if when she is a Maid, she only studies to be pleasing by her cu­rious [Page 136] and artificial dress, and to get a vain reputation of Beauty by the nakedness of her body; we may then justly fear she will not change her humour, in chang­ing her condition; and we may persuade our selves that having a much less reason to love and fear her husband than Jesus Christ, she will not be very faithful to man since she is unfaithful to God, who would willingly acknowledge her for his spouse.

LIX.

TERTƲLLIAN has thought that Virgins, no more than other Christians could not get any glory and honour from their bodies, but in mortifying their flesh by repentance, and making it to re­semble that of Jesus Christ, which was torne and wounded for our salvation. But methinks they have this advantage over other Christians, that in glorifying of [Page 137] God by their flesh, in conserving it pure and chast for his sake, they may by that means make their bodies tend to their own glory: for what can be more glo­rious for a Christian, than to con­tribute to the glory of Jesus Christ? But to enjoy this great advantage, and to offer up to God a body that is well pleasing and acceptable to him, a body perfectly pure and chast, a Maid ought not to expose it to the view and to the desires of all men, as the body of a shameless and impudent Woman, but she ought to cover it with modesty; and not being able wholly to a­void the danger there is of seeing men, and being seen by them, she ought at leastwise to avoid the evil there is in tempting them by her nakedness.

LX.

THEY ought to do so with­out [Page 138] doubt; and we may say that their particular interest obliges them to it, since by their want of modesty, they do not so much inspire love, as they do disgust, and mistrustfullness, into judici­ous and wise men whom they de­sire to make their husbands: and that only creating a passion in loose, and dissolute, and sensual men, they industriously labour to make themselves miserable by the husbands that those naked in­decencies procure to them. They ought to do so, since prudence requires it, Religion commands it, honesty and piety exact it. They ought to do so, since that according to the opinion of the Apostle St. Paul, God hath giv­en long hair unto Maids and Women for no other end than to serve as a natural veile to cover their Necks & Shoul­ders;Nonne ipsa natura docet vos quod vir si comam nutriat ignominia est illi, mulier vero si comam nutriat gloria est illi. 1. Cor. c. 11. and that Nature it self imprints into [Page 139] them a great desire to keep the length of their hair for that pur­pose, that so they may always be provided with somewhat where­with to veile themselves, when ever they shall be suprised by the regards of any curious Inqui­sitor.

LXI.
The last Excuse.

THESE Reasons appear to me to be sufficiently power­ful to be able to persuade Women as well as Maids, to cover their naked necks; But yet notwithstanding there are many of them that will not acqui­esce and submitt to them but do pretend that they may without a­ny scruple go with their bare necks, under pretence that it is to please their husbands. But they do not consider, that having [Page 140] recourse to this last excuse, they do thereby tacitely acknowledge in spight of all resistance, that all the others are unprofitable and supervacaneous: and being oblig­ed to justifie their procedure, to alledge the obedience or com­plaisance which they owe to those whom God hath given them for their superiours, they confess, without thinking of it, that they do a thing which their reason cannot defend, though their pas­sion may excuse it. When Adam said to God, that it was to please his wife, that he had eaten of the forbidden fruit; he confessed his Crime in going to excuse himself in that manner. And when Women say that they go with naked necks to please and satisfie their husbands, they acknowledge and confess their fault in desiring to cast it upon another.

LXII.

MOREOVER, I would fain have them to consider, that to the end this excuse might be le­gitimate, they ought in the first place to be assured that it is the will and pleasure of their hus­bands to have them go so; which is not a thing so easie as they i­magine. A husband is not less jealous of the purity of his wife, than of his own honour; and as, if he be prudent, he does never indanger himself to lose his ho­nour, so there is not any likely­hood that he should desire his wife to run the risque of losing her Innocence. A husband is al­ways interessed for the Reputa­tion of his Wife; and if he be ju­dicious, he may very well see that she is much to blame, when she dresses her self according to the vain modes of those women who wholly give up themselves [Page 142] to sensuality and fleshyness. A husband, says Tertullian, does ve­ry well know what are the charms of his wife; and there is no necessity for her to shew him them every hour; and perhaps he ought to wish that she does not by her naked breasts discover to all the world those which ought not to be common but to him a­lone.

LXIII.

THERE is likewise a vast difference between what a hus­band suffers and allows of, and what he desires. A husband that is honest, and has a kindness and affection for his wife, may permit her without any inquietude, or complaint to go with her neck bare; but it does not follow therefore that he desires and com­mands it. And yet if this hus­band does not declare expressly to his wife that he will have her go so uncovered, but he only to­erates [Page 143] it, she is to blame to al­edge for her defence the will of her husband, since that instead of conforming her self through re­spect to his desires, as she would fain have the world believe of her, it is he that through his ten­derness and love lets himself be carried over to her humour.

LXIV.

IN THE second place, if it be only to please her husband, that she goes with naked breasts, why does she unveil and disco­ver them in any other presence than in that of her husband? In the third place, we will suppose also that her husband should com­mand her to go in publick with her naked neck, she ought to do so through pure obedience to make herself innocent; but she ought to do it with some secret repugnance, knowing the danger to which she exposes her self: and [Page 144] those who behold her. But if, on the contrary, she does it with Joy and pleasure, it is an evident sign that she is less thoughtfull of obeying the will of her husband, than of satisfying the passion she has to appear beautiful, and so to inspire love. When her husband commands her something that thwarts and crosses her Inclinati­on, she finds out many ways to make him change his mind; and it is very probable, she would not obey him with so much rea­diness and felicity, if he should command her to cover her breasts.

LXV.

LET HER not therefore any more alledge for a pretence of her nakedness, the complai­sance she has for her husband; and if she considers it but as much as she ought, she will affect to ap­pear with her neck and face too [Page 145] vail'd, since by that means,Ideo debet mulier potesta­tem habere supra caput. 1. Cor. C. 11. id est velamen signum potestatis mariti. se­cundum Tertull. ch. conc. Gangrense &c. nunquid ob­liviscetur Virgo ornamenti sui aut sponsa sasciaepectoralis suae? Hier. c. 2. 32. says the great Apostle, she will shew that she is truly and voluntarily sub­missive to the Au­thority of her hus­band: for in St. Paul's time when a Maid was married, she had a vail put over her head, and shoulders, to te­stifie that she was under the power of her husband, and that she hid from all other then him her face and bosome. From thence it happened that God himself in the prophet Jeremiah, says that a married Woman ought never to forget the vaile wherewith she hides her bosome, no more than a Maid ought to forget her orna­ments.

LXVI.

IF WOMEN would but refresh their memories with the [Page 146] councel that St. Peter gives them, to labour the conversion of their husbands by their outward mo­desty, by their pure and chast con­versation, that I may make use of his terms, they would not desire to foment the fires of their concupis­cence, in appearing before them in the habit and posture of Curti­sans. If they did but reflect how they flattered or cherished the li­bertinisme of their husbands, how they accustomed themselves to please them, and to invite 'em to shew them the like nakedness in shewing them their naked necks and shoulders they would leave off doing it out of interest, for fear lest they dispos'd them to become unfaithful to them, by indeavour­ing more and more to ingage them. To be short, if they would consider that their real glory de­pended more upon their Vertue, than their beauty, they would more covet to appear modest in covering their bosoms, than beau­tiful [Page 147] in uncovering them, and pos­sibly likewise, the reputation of their beauty would be more highly celebrated, if they would make it but less common, if they would but veil some part of it. At least, their beauty would be less suspected of artifice, and the praises that should be given them would be more pure; because there would not then be found a­ny thing to shock modesty, but all would be fair and beautiful.

LXVII.

IF ALL that I have said was not sufficient to prove that the na­kedness of Breasts is blameable and offensive, and to answer the excuses which Maids and Women bring, it would not be very diffi­cult for me to convince them by new Arguments, and by more Authorities. But because I would not swell this Treatise to too large a Volume, but would make it profitable without having [Page 148] it over-troublesome, I will close up all in conjuring those, who do so much boast of their honesty and vertue, to take heed lest by their nakedness they conform themselves so mightily to the Cur­tisans, as to have scarce any but God alone to be able to know the difference that is between them: why will they imitate those in their manner of dressing, whose actions they condemn? or rather, why do they imitate the actions, and outward carriage of those, whose disorderly conduct they so much blame? they are like them in what appears, and yet pretend to be very unlike them in what does not. What Judgment can men make of them, who do not Judge but by what they see?

LXVIII.

OUGHT they not to tremble, knowing that from time to time many Prelates have given order, that the Sacrament should be de­ny'd all Maids and Women indif­ferently [Page 149] who came with naked arms, and necks, and shoulders; and that they have forbidden them, under pain of Excommuni­cation, to come in that posture to the Holy Table, and indeed, so much as to enter into the Church?

LXIX.

OUGHT they not to shake with fear, considering that most of the Curtisans did not become un­chaste in their manners, but only from the immodesty of their ha­bits? that they began to Shew their bodies before they offered to Give them; and if I may be permitted to speak so, that they had not ex­pos'd themselves to sale, but be­cause they have too freely let themselves be seen by Libertines, and dissolute persons?

LXX.

'TIS TRUE, Christian Religion does allow Maids and Women to [Page 150] adorn themselves, and to go ac­cording to their quality and con­dition; but it would not then have it be to inordinacy and ex­cess, but in modest apparel, and not for luxury:Similiter & Mulie­res in habi­to ornato. it has alwayes forbid them to make their orna­ments serve and be instrumental to libertinism and immodesty,1 Tim. c. 2. v. 9. the use of which it has approved of, the better to make their shame and bashfulness be conspi­cuous; and it has alwayes testi­fied an aversion and horrour for the extreme nakedness of the Arms, Neck and Shoulders, which are equally repugnant to natural honesty, and Christian piety, to the illuminations of Reason, and of Grace, and to the Laws of the Gospel, and those of Politie, to the sentiments of Honour, to the instinct of Nature, and in a word, to the glory, reputation, and be­nefit even of those Maids and Women.

AN ORDER OF THE Vicars General of the Arch-Bi­shoprick of Tholouse, the See be­ing Vacant. Against naked Arms, Shoulders, and Necks, and the indecency of Maids and Womens apparel.

THE Vicars General of the Arch-Bishoprick of Tho­louse the See being vacant: to all those whom these presents shall come, greeting. Among all the irregulari­ties and abuses whereby the evil Spi­rit hath indeavoured in the first Ages of the Church, to corrupt the purity of the customs of the faithful, there hath been none against which the ho­ly Fathers have exercised their Elo­quence, and spoken with so much heat and vigour, as against the vain Or­naments [Page] and indecent dresses of Maids and Women. Those very same irregularities have descended to us, and as if the succession had purchased them a right and privi­ledge to shew themselves, they appear with an Audaciousness as is only be­longing to ancient crimes. We still behold Christian Maids and Wo­men, who forgetting the Renuntia­tion they have made in their Baptism, before the face of the Church, of all the pomps and vanities of Satan, and violating all the Laws of Mode­sty, do employ their whole address, and time to bedeck their heads with borrowed hair, and sollicitously to be laying snares, by the nakedness of their Arms and Necks, to catch and ruin those Souls which Jesus Christ hath redeemed by his blood. We see them with an excess of Luxury, and with an immodesty we would con­demn even in Heathens, to appear in publick after so scandalous and shameless a manner, that to Judge of their Intentions by the Liberty of [Page] their wanton and languishing Re­gards, by the form and dress of their habits, and by all those other vain, and bewitching braveries, we cannot refrain but we must judge them cri­minal; since that according to the opinion of one of the Fathers of the Church, they are as so many fatal swords that give a spiritual death to the Souls of Libertines, who are smitten and wounded by their Eyes, and who become the miserable vi­ctimes of defilement and uncleanness. As this Spirit accompanies them eve­ry where, they are not contented (ac­cording to the Language of a Pro­phet) to lift up the Ensign of their prostitutions in the streets, in the walks, and in other publick places; but they likewise come by an insup­portable temerity and blindness, to brave even Jesus Christ at the feet of his Altars, and to violate as it were the immunity of Churches, darting by the nakedness of their Arms and Necks the fire of an im­pure Love into the hearts of the [Page] faithful who are retired there, as in­to a Sanctuary consecrated to prayer and holiness.

THOSE very Tribunals of penance, which ought to be wet with their tears; and the holy Table, where the food of Angels ought not to be distributed but to those that are cloathed with the nuptial Robes of Innocence and Humility, are shame­lessly profaned by those pompous gay­eties of the Devil, And by the world's Liveries, which they make to tri­umph over Christian modesty.

ALL these disorders, which are but too publick, joyned to the voice of Ministers, whose complaints are great and loud to us, not suffering us any longer to remain in silence, we have judg'd it fit, and to be our Du­ty, to stop an evil which every day grows and gets new ground among us.

FOR these causes therefore, and to keep from this Diocess the pu­nishments with which the Justice of God does commonly chastise publick [Page] Scandals, and the propharation of holy things, we injoyn all Secular and Regular Confessors upon pain of suspension, to deny the Sacraments to those who come thither with their naked Necks, and Arms, and Shoul­ders, and whose nakedness shall not be modestly conceal'd by such scarfes or other dresses that are not to be seen through: of which nakedness of arms, or neck or shoulders, as of a publick Sin and Scandal, we reserve to our particular selves the Absolu­tion, as to those who after this Or­der, shall continue in so damnable a custom as that is.

WE forbid likewise both maids and women of all conditions, upon pain of Excommunication, to come into the Churches, and to present themselves at the Sacraments in that immodest and indecent habit, to cause their gowns to be held up there, and to place themselves among the Priests. And because the Laws of Holy Church are so little observed, and oftentimes prove ineffectual, by [Page] reason of the stubbornness of her chil­dren, most of whom are less touched with the motives of their duty, than with the fear of temporal punish­ments; we exhort and conjure, by the mercy of God, those to whom his Providence hath committed the sove­raign Authority of Justice for exte­riour Discipline, to renew the force and efficacy of those Decrees, which their zeal and piety have oftentimes caused them to make upon the like occasions for the better observance of the Orders of the Church; that so not only the material Temples may not be prophaned by those indications of Luxury and Vanity; but also that the living Temples of the Holy-Ghost may be edified in every place, by the example of a truly Christian modesty and humility.

WE further Order all the Cu­rates and Ecclesiastical superiours of the Secular and Regular houses of the City and Diocess, to be strict in their Churches, and careful to put in execution this our present Or­der, [Page] by such ways and means as they shall judge most convenient.

AND lastly we enjoyn the Pro­curer Fiscal to publish this our pre­sent Order at all the Parish-Chur­ches of our Town and Diocess, du­ring the three Sundays preceeding the Feast of Easter, and to make a spee­dy distribution of Copies to the Su­periours of the Secular and Regu­lar Houses of the Diocess. Given at Tholouse the 13 day of March. 1670. Sign'd, CIRON, vi­car General, DU FOUR, Vi­car General, DE LA FONT, Vicar General, DESTOPI­NYA, Vicar General.

By the Command of the said Vicar Generals.
BAUVESTRE, Secretary.
FINIS.

ERRATA.

PAg. 3. l. 6. ses, r. houses. p. 30. l. 9. immodesty, r. modesty. p. 33. l. 15. their, r. the. p. 40. l. 20. [not] too much. p. 58. l. 5. she, r. she not. p. 81. l. 11. Appa­vage, r. Appanage. p. 83. l. 4. were. r. where. p. 84. l. 4. ra­ther, r. rather to. p. 85. l. 3. happens, r. happen. p. 92. l. 15. more, r. the more. p. 105. l. 9. them, r. themselves. p. 117. l. 10. [been] too much. p. 144. l. 15. fecility, r. facility.

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