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If you could be as humble when you choose rich apparel (which I flatly deny), yet you could not be as beneficent, as plenteous in good works. Therefore every shilling that you needlessly spend on your apparel is in effect stolen from the poor! For what end do you want these ornaments? To please God? No!—but to please your own fancy or to gain the admiration and applause of those who are no wiser than yourself. If so, what you wear you are in effect tearing from the back of the naked; and the costly and delicate food you eat, you are snatching from the mouth of the hungry. For mercy, for pity, for Christ's sake, for the honor of his gospel, stay your hand! Do not throw this money away. Do not lay out on nothing, yea worse than nothing, what may clothe your poor, naked, shivering fellow creatures.
Many years ago, when I was at Oxford, on a cold winter's day, a young maid (one of those we keep at school) called on me. I said, "You seem half starved. Have you nothing to cover you but that thin gown?" She said, "Sir, this is all I have." I put my hand in my pocket, but found no money left, having just paid away all that I had. It struck me, "Will thy Master say, 'Well done, good and faithful steward. Thou hast adorned thy wall with the money which might have screened this poor creature from the cold'? O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of the poor maid? See thy expensive apparel in the same light; thy gown, hat, head-dress!"
Everything about thee which costs more than Christian duty required thee to lay on, is the blood of the poor! Oh, be wise for the time to come! Be more merciful; more faithful to God and man; more abundantly clad (like men and women professing godliness) with good works.
It is stark, staring nonsense to say, "Oh, I can afford this or that!" If you have regard to common sense, let that silly word never come into your mouth. No man living can afford to throw away any part of that food or raiment into the sea which was lodged with him on purpose to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. And it is far worse than waste to spend any part of it in gay and costly apparel. For this is no less than to turn wholesome food into deadly poison. It is giving so much money to poison both yourself and others as far as your example spreads, with pride, vanity, anger, lust, love of the world, and a thousand "foolish and hurtful desires" which tend to "pierce them through with many sorrows." O God, arise and maintain thy own cause! Let not men and devils any longer put out our eyes and lead as blindfolded into the pit of destruction.
God demands of his people that they dress modestly as becomes people who profess holiness. The putting on of apparel for adornment and the wearing of jewelry are not consistent with Christian modesty. The nude and lewd art of dressing which is becoming so prevalent among professors of Christ is an abomination in the sight of God, and a practise which no virtuous man or woman can countenance. If professors would stop and consider the character of women who invent popular fashions of the age they might well blush with shame at their eager attempts to follow the modern styles of dress invented by the wicked leaders of fashion in London and Paris, whence the latest styles of this country generally emanate. It is indeed sad to behold the young of to-day making themselves unfit to fulfil the sacred functions of wife and mother by the use of the modern corset, as well as laying a foundation for years of misery, dragged out in this life by diseases brought upon them by catering to the creed of millions who worship at the shrine of Fashion. The pride of their hearts, pampered and fed by the foolish practises of the age, blinds them to their obligations to God as a Creator and Savior; and amid the whirl of earthly vanity they hasten to the awful doom that awaits all who fail to obey the gospel of Christ.
The Word of God gives plain directions to Christians as to how they should dress. In olden times God permitted his people to wear some jewelry; that is, there was no law against it; but there came a time when he promised that he would cleanse the hearts of his people from all pride and vanity, and they should find no pleasure in putting on ornamental dress and jewelry, and costly array. In Isa. 3:16-23 we have a clear prophecy of the gospel age, and how God was going to have his people dress modestly in accordance with their profession. We shall quote from the LXX: "Thus saith the Lord, because the daughters of Sion are haughty, and have walked with an outstretched neck, and with winking of the eyes, and motion of the feet: ... therefore the Lord will humble the chief daughters of Sion, and the Lord will expose their form in that day; and the Lord will take away the glory of their raiment, the curls and the fringes, and the crescents, and the chains, and the ornaments of their faces, and the array of glorious ornaments, and the armlets, and the bracelets, and the wreathed work, and the finger-rings, and the ornaments for the right hand, and the earrings, and the garments with scarlet borders, and the garments with purple grounds, and the shawls to be worn in the house, and the Spartan transparent dresses, and those made of fine linen, and the purple ones, and the scarlet ones, and the fine linen, interwoven with gold and purple, and the light coverings for couches."
We shall now quote from the New Testament: "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." 1 Tim. 2:9,10.
"Likewise, ye 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 the 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, or of putting on of apparel; 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." 1 Pet. 3:1-4.
The wearing of feathers, artificial flowers, frills, flounces, unnecessary tucks and trimmings, is not in harmony with the gospel standard of modest apparel. Queer-shaped hats, such as we see worn by the people who follow the fashions of the world, should be avoided by the saints as they would every other thing unbecoming to a Christian; not fashioning themselves according to their former lusts in their ignorance. "But as he which hath called you is holy, so he ye holy in all manner of conversation." 1 Pet. 1:15.
The all-wise God who gave these commands knows what is for the good of his people, and if we love him, we will obey. When the heart is cleansed from all pride there will be no difficulty in measuring up to the gospel on the matter of modest apparel. We trust all who read this may realize it is truth.
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