SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XLIII. TERTULLIAN, Ad Uxorem, ii. 3-6.


Inconveniences of a mixed Marriage


Recenseamus nunc cetera pericula et vulnera, ut dixi, fidei ab apostolo provisa non carnis tantum verum etiam ipsius spiritus molestissima. ... Domino certe non potest pro disciplina satisfacere, habens in latere diaboli servum, procuratorem domini sui ad impedienda fidelium studia et officia: ut si statio facienda est, maritus de die condicat ad balneas; si ieiunia observanda sunt, maritus eadem die convivium exerceat; si procedendum erit, nunquam magis familiae occupatio obveniat. Quis enim sinat coniugem suam visitandorum fratrum gratia vicatim aliena et quidem pauperiora quaeque tuguria circuire? quis nocturnis convocationibus, si ita oportuerit, a latere suo adimi libenter feret? quis denique sollemnibus Paschae abnoctantem securus sustinebit? quis ad convivium dominicum illud quod infamant sine sua suspicione dimittet? quis in carcerem ad osculanda vincula martyris reptare patietur? lam vero alicui fratrum ad osculum convenire? aquam sanctorum pedibus offerre? de cibo, de poculo invadere, desiderare, in mente habere? si et peregre frater adveniat, quod in aliena domo hospitium? si cui largiendum erit, horreum, proma pfaeclusa sunt. ... Moratur dei ancilla cum laboribus alienis, et inter illos omnibus honoribus daemonum, omnibus sollemnibus regum, incipiente anno, incipiente mense, nidore thuris agitabitur. Et procedet de ianua laureata et lucernata, ut de novo consistorio libidinum publicarum; discumbet cum marito in sodalitiis, saepe in popinis; et ministrabit nonnunquam iniquis, solita quondam sanctis ministrare; et non hine praeiudicium damnationis suae agnoscet, eos observans, quos erat iudicatura?

Let us now recount the other dangers and wounds, as I said, of faith foreseen by the Apostle as not to the flesh only, but likewise even to the spirit very grievous. ... Without doubt she cannot satisfy the Lord according to discipline, when she has at her side a servant of the devil, an agent of his lord to hinder the works and duties of believers; so that if there is a meeting to attend, her husband the first thing in the morning makes her an appointment for the baths; if there are fasts to be observed, her husband that same day gives a dinner; if she has to go out [on charitable errands], never is household business more in the way. For who would let his wife go round from street to street to other men's houses, and indeed to all the poorer cottages, for the sake of visiting the brethren? Who will willingly allow her to be taken from his side for nocturnal meetings, if her duty be so? Who in short will bear without anxiety her absence all night for the ceremonial of Easter? Who will let her go without suspicion of his own to that Lord's Supper which they defame? Who will suffer her to creep into a prison to kiss a martyr's bonds? or indeed to meet one of the brethren for the kiss? to offer water for the feet of the saints? to seize [for them] from her food or from her cup, to long for them, to keep them in mind? If a brother on a journey come, what welcome is there for him in an alien house? If there is a case for liberality, the granary and the larder are shut up. ... The handmaid of God dwells with alien labours, and amongst them she will be persecuted with the odour of incense at all the festivals of demons, all the ceremonials of kings, the beginning of the year, the beginning of the month. She will come forth too from a laurelled gateway hung with lanterns as from some new abode of public lusts. She will dine with her husband in clubs, often in taverns, and sometimes she will minister to the unjust, who was used to minister to saints; and will she not recognize in this a sentence that carries her damnation, as she attends on those whom she was to judge hereafter?


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