תמונות בעמוד

4. It is certain, that many who sincerely fear God have cordially embraced this opinion. And their practice is suitable thereto: they make no scruple of conformity to the world; by putting on, as often as occasion offers, either gold, or pearls, or costly apparel. - And indeed they are not well pleased with those that think it their duty to reject them; the using of which they apprehend to be one branch of Christian liberty. Yea, some have gone considerably farther; even so far, as to make it a point to bring those who had refrained from them for some time, to make use of them again; assuring them, that it was mere superstition to think there was any harm in them. Nay, farther still: a very respectable person has said, in express terms, “I do not desire that any who dress plain, should be in our society.” It is, therefore,. certainly worth our while to consider this matter thoroughly: seriously to inquire, whether there is any harm in the putting on of gold, or jewels, or costly apparel ? 5. But before we enter on the subject, let it be observed, that slovettliness is no part of religion: that neither this, nor any text of Scripture, condemns neatness of apparel. Certainly this is a duty; not a sin. “Cleanliness is, indeed, next to godliness.” Agreeably to this, good Mr. Herbert advises every one that fears God; “Let thy mind's sweetness have its operation Upon thy person, clothes, and habitation.” And surely every one should attend to this, if he would not have the good that is in him evil spoken of 6. Another mistake, with regard to apparel, has been common in the religious world. It has been supposed by some, that there ought to be no difference at all in the apparel of Christians. But neither these texts, nor any other in the book of God, teach any such thing, or direct that the dress of the master or the mistress should be nothing dif ferent from that of their servants. There may, undoubtedly, be a moderate difference of apparel between persons of different stations. And where the eye is single, this will easily be adjusted by the rules of Christian prudence. 7. Yea, it may be doubted, whether any part of scripture forbids (at least I know not any) those in any nation that are invested with supreme authority, to be arrayed in gold and costly apparel; or to adorn their immediate attendants, or magistrates, or officers, with the same. It is not improbable, that our blessed Lord intended to give countenance to this custom, when he said, without the least mark of censure, or disapprobation, “Behold, those that wear gorgeous [splendid] apparel, are in kings' courts,” Luke vii, 25. 8. What is then the meaning of these scriptures? What is it which they forbid? They manifestly forbid ordinary Christians, those in the lower or middle ranks of life, to be adorned with gold, or pearls, or costly apparel. But why? What harm is there herein” This deserves our serious consideration. But it is highly expedient, or rather absolutely necessary, for all who would consider it to any purpose, as far as is possible to divest themselves of all prejudice, and to stand open to conviction: is it not necessary likewise, in the highest degree, that they should earnestly beseech the Father of lights, that, “by his holy inspiration they may think the things that are right, and, by his merciful guidance, perform the same 1” Then they will not say, no, not in their

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hearts, (as I fear too many have done,) what the famous Jew said to the
Christian, “Thou shalt not persuade methough thou hast persuaded me.”
9. The question is, What harm does it do, to adorn ourselves with
gold, or pearls, or costly array; suppose you can afford it? That is,
suppose it does not hurt or impoverish your family 1. The first harm it
does is, it engenders pride; and where it is already, increases it. Who-
ever narrowly observes what passes in his own heart, will easily discern
this. Nothing is more natural than to think ourselves better, because
we are dressed in better clothes. And it is scarce possible for a man
to wear costly apparel, without, in some measure, valuing himself upon
it. One of the old heathens was so well apprized of this, that when he
had a spite to a poor man, and had a mind to turn his head, he made
him a present of a suit of fine clothes.
“Eutrapelus, cuicunque nocere volebat,
Westimenta dabat pretiosa.”
He could not then but imagine himself to be as much better, as he was
finer than his neighbour. And how many thousands, not only lords
and gentlemen, in England, but honest tradesmen, argue the same way?
Inferring the superior value of their persons from the value of their
clothes :
10. “But may not one man be as proud, though clad in sackcloth,
as another is, though clad in cloth of gold 7”. As this argument meets
us at every turn, and is supposed to be unanswerable, it will be worth
while to answer it once for all, and to show the utter emptiness of it.
“May not, then, one in sackcloth,” you ask, “be as proud as he that
is clad in cloth of gold 1’” I answer, certainly he may : I suppose no
one doubts of it. And what inference can you draw from this? Take
a parallel case. One man that drinks a cup of wholesome wine, may
be as sick as another that drinks poison: but does this prove that the
poison has no more tendency to hurt a man than the wine? Or does
it excuse any man for taking what has a natural tendency to make him
sick 1 Now to apply this: experience shows that fine clothes have a
natural tendency to make a man sick of pride. Plain clothes have not.
Although it is true, you may be sick of pride in these also, yet they have
no natural tendency, either to cause or increase this sickness. There-
fore, all that desire to be clothed with humility, abstain from that
11. Secondly: the wearing gay or costly apparel, naturally tends to
breed and to increase vanity. By vanity I here mean, the love and
desire of being admired and praised. Every one of you that is fond of
dress, has a witness of this in your own bosom. Whether you will con-
fess it before man or not, you are convinced of this before God. You
know in your hearts, it is with a view to be admired, that you thus
adorn yourselves; and that you would not be at the pains, were none
to see you but God and his holy angels. Now the more you indulge
this foolish desire, the more it grows upon you. You have vanity
enough by nature; but by thus indulging it, you increase it a hundred
fold. Oh stop Aim at pleasing God alone, and all these ornaments
will drop off.
12. Thirdly: the wearing of gay and costly apparel, naturally tends
to beget anger, and every turbulent and uneasy passion. And it is on
this very account that the apostle places this “outward adorning” in

direct opposition to the “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.” How remarkably does he add, “which is in the sight of God of great price;”

“Than gold or pearls more precious far,

And brighter than the morning star.” None can easily conceive, unless himself were to make the sad experiment, the contrariety there is between the “outward adorning,” and this inward “quietness of spirit.” You never can thoroughly enjoy this, while you are fond of the other. It is only while you sit loose to that “outward adorning,” that you can in “patience possess your soul.” Then only when you have cast off your fondness for dress, will the peace of God reign in your hearts.

13. Fourthly: gay and costly apparel directly tends to create and inflame lust. I was in doubt whether to name this brutal appetite. Or, in order to spare delicate ears, to express it by some gentle circumlo. cution. (Like the dean, who, some years ago, told his audience at Whitehall, “If you do not repent you will go to a place, which I have too much manners to name before this good company.”) But I think it best to speak out: since the more the word shocks your ears, the more it may arm your heart. The fact is plain and undeniable: it has this effect both on the wearer and the beholder. To the former, our elegant poet, Cowley, addresses those fine lines:— “The adorning thee with so much art Is but a barbarous skill; Tis like the poisoning of a dart, Too apt before to kill.” That is, (to express the matter in plain terms, without any colouring,) “you poison the beholder, with far more of this base appetite, than other. wise he would feel.” Did you not know, this would be the natural consequence of your elegant adorning " To push the question home, did you not desire, did you not design it should? And yet all the time, how did you “Set to public view, A specious face of innocence and virtue?” Meanwhile you do not yourself escape the snare which you spread for others. The dart recoils, and you are infected with the same poison with which you infected them. You kindle a flame, which, at the same time, consumes both yourself and your admirers. And it is well, if it does not plunge both you and them into the flames of hell. 14. Fifthly: the wearing costly array is directly opposite to the being

adorned with good works. Nothing can be more evident than this: for the more you lay out on your own apparel, the less you have left to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to lodge the strangers, to relieve those that are sick and in prison, and to lessen the numberless afflictions to which we are exposed in this vale of tears. And here is no room for the evasion used before: “I may be as humble in cloth of gold, as in sackcloth.” If you could be as humble, when you choose costly, as when you choose plain apparel; (which I flatly deny ;) yet you could not be as beneficent, as plenteous in good works. Every shilling which you save from your own apparel, you may expend in clothing

the naked, and relieving the various necessities of the poor, whom ye

“have always with you.” Therefore every shilling which you needlessly spend on your apparel, is, in effect, stolen from God and the poor! And how many precious opportunities of doing good have you defrauded

yourself of: How often have you disabled yourself from doing good, by

purchasing what you did not want! For what end did you buy these

ornaments? To please God? No; but to please your own fancy, or to gain the admiration and applause of those that were no wiser than yourself. How much good might you have done with that money : And what an irreparable loss have you sustained by not doing it, if it be true that the day is at hand, when “every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour !” 15. I pray consider this well. Perhaps you have not seen it in this light before. When you are laying out that money in costly apparel, which you could have otherwise spared for the poor, you thereby deprive them of what God, the proprietor of all, had lodged in your hands for their use. If so, what you put upon yourself, you are, in effect, tearing from the back of the naked; as the costly and delicate food which you eat, you are snatching from the mouth of the hungry. For mercy, for pity, for Christ's sake, for the honour of his gospel, stay your hand I Do not throw this money away. Do not lay out on nothing, yea, worse than nothing, what may clothe your poor, naked, shivering, fellow creature | 16. Many years ago, when I was at Oxford, in a cold winter's day, a young maid (one of those we kept at school) called upon me. I said, You seem half starved. Have you nothing to cover you but that thin linen gown 7 She said, “Sir, this is all I have l’” I put my hand in my pocket; but found I had scarce any money left, having just paid away what I had. It immediately struck me, Will thy Master say, “Well done, good and faithful steward | Thou hast adorned thy walls with the money which might have screened this poor creature from the cold!” Oh justice Oh mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid! See thy expensive apparel in the same light: thy gown, hat, head dress | .. thing about thee, which cost more than Christian duty required thee to lay out, 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 adorned (like men and women professing godliness) with good works! 17. It is true, great allowance is to be made for those who have never been warned of these things, and perhaps do not know that there is a word in the Bible which forbids costly apparel. But what is that to you ? You have been warned over and over; yea, in the plainest manner possible. And what have you profited thereby ? Do not you still dress like other people of the same fortune? Is not your dress as gay, as expensive as theirs, who never had any such warning As expensive as it would have been, if you had never heard a word said about it! Oh how will you answer this, when you and I stand together at the judgment seat of Christ! Nay, have not many of you grown finer as fast as you have grown richer ? As you increased in substance, have you not increased in dress? Witness the profusion of ribands, gauze, or linen about your heads ! What have you profited then by bearing the reproach of Christ? by being called Methodists? Are you not as fashionably dressed as others of your rank that are no Methodists? Do you ask, “But may we not as well buy fashionable things as unfashionable?” I answer, Not if they give you a bold, immodest look, as those huge hats, bonnets, head dresses do. And not if they cost more. “But


I can afford it.” Oh lay aside for ever that idle, nonsensical word! No Christian can afford to waste any part of the substance which God has entrusted him with. How long are you to stay here 1 May not you to morrow, perhaps to night, be summoned to arise and go hence, in order to give an account of this and all your talents to the Judge of quick and dead? x 18. How then can it be, that after so many warnings, you persist in the same folly? Is it not hence 1 There are still among you, some that neither profit themselves by all they hear, nor are willing that others should : and these, if any of you are almost persuaded to dress as Christians, reason, and rally, and laugh you out of it. Oh ye pretty triflers, I entreat you not to do the devil's work any longer | Whatever ye do yourselves, do not harden the hearts of others! And you that are of a better mind, avoid these tempters with all possible care; and if you come where any of them are, either beg them to be silent on the head, or quit the room. - 19. Sixthly: the putting on of costly apparel is directly opposite to what the apostle terms, “the hidden man of the heart:” that is, to the whole “image of God,” wherein we were created, and which is stamped anew upon the heart of every Christian believer;-opposite to “the mind which was in Christ Jesus,” and the whole nature of inward holiness. All the time you are studying this outward adorning, the whole inward work of the Spirit stands still: or rather goes back; though by very gentle, and almost imperceptible degrees. Instead of growing more heavenly minded, you are more and more earthly minded. If you once had fellowship with the Father and the Son, it now gradually declines; and you insensibly sink deeper and deeper into the spirit of the world,—into foolish and hurtful desires, and grovelling appetites. All these evils, and a thousand more, spring from that one root, indulging yourself in costly apparel. 20. Why then does not every one that either loves or fears God, flee from it, as from the face of a serpent? Why are you still so conformable to the irrational, sinful customs of a fraritic world? Why do you still despise the express commandment of God, uttered in the plainest terms ? You see the light: why do not you follow the light of your own mind? Your conscience tells you the truth: why do you not obey the dictates of your own conscience 1 21. You answer, “Why, universal custom is against me; and I know not how to stem the mighty torrent?” Not only the profane, but the religious world, run violently the other way. Look into, I do not say, the theatres, but the churches, nay, and the meetings of every denomination; (except a few old fashioned Quakers, or the people called Moravians;) look into the congregations, in London or elsewhere, of those that are styled gospel ministers; look into Northampton chapel: yea, into the Tabernacle, or the chapel in Tottenham Court Road; nay, look into the chapel in West street, or that in the City Road; look at the very people that sit under the pulpit, or by the side of it; and are not those that can afford it, (I can hardly refrain from doing them the honour of naming their names,) as fashionably adorned, as those of the same rank in other places? 22. This is a melancholy truth. I am ashamed of it: but I know not how to help it. I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that it

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