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4. Would you have a further rule with respect to both? Then take one, which you may always carry in your bosom: “ Do every thing herein with a single eye;" and this will direct you in every circumstance. Let a single intention to please God prescribe, both what clothing you shall buy, and the manner wherein it shall be made, and how you shall put it on and wear it. To express the same thing in other words, let all you do, in this respect, be so done, that you may offer it to God a sacrifice acceptable through Christ Jesus : so that, consequently, it may increase your reward, and brighten your crown in heaven. And so it will do, if it be agreeable to Christian humility, seriousness, and charity.
5. Shall I be more particular still? Then I exhort all those who desire me to watch over their souls, Wear no gold, (whatever officers of state may do, or magistrates; as the ensign of their office ;) no pearls, or precious stones; use no curling of hair, or costly apparel, how grave soever. I advise those who are able to receive this saying, Buy no velvets, no silks, no fine linen, no superfluities, no mere ornaments, though ever so much in fashion. Wear nothing, though you have it already, which is of a glaring colour, or whích is, in any kind, gay, glistering, or showy; nothing made in the very height of the fashion; nothing apt to attract the eyes of the by-standers. I do not advise women to wear rings, ear-rings, neck-laces, lace, (of whatever kind or colour,) or ruffles, which, by little and little, may shoot easily out from one to twelve inches deep. Neither do I advise men to wear coloured waistcoats, shining stockings, glittering or costly buckles or buttons, either on their coats, or in their sleeves, any more than gay, fashionable, or expensive perukes. It is true, these are little, very little things, which are not worth defending; therefore, give them up, let them drop, throw them away without another word. Else a little needle may cause much pain in your flesh, a little self-indulgence much hurt to your soul.
III. 1. For the preceding exhortation I have the authority of God in clear and express terms. “I will that women," (and by parity of reason men too,)“ adorn them
selves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not broidered curled) hair, or gold, or pearls," (one kind of precious stones, which was then most in use, put for all,) " or costly apparel, but” (which becometh women professing godliness,)*% with good works,” 1 Tim. ii. 9, 10. Again, « Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting (curling) the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on apparel. But let it be the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is, in the sight of God, of great price,” 1 Pet. iii. 3, 4. Nothing can be more express. The wearing of gold, of precious stones, and of costly apparel, together with curling of hair, is here forbidden by name : nor is there any restriction made, either here, or in any other scripture. Whoever, therefore, says, There is no harm in these things, may as well say, There is no harm in stealing or adultery!
2. There is something pecularly observable in the manner, wherein both St. Peter and St. Paul speak of these things : “Let not your adorning,” says St. Peter, “be that outward adorning; but let it be the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.” The latter clause is not added barely to fill up the sentence, but with strong and weighty reason. For there is a direct contrariety, (as little as we may suspect it,) between that outward and this inward adorning; and that both with regard to their source, and with regard to their tendency. As to their source, all that adorning springs from nature; a meek and quiet spirit from grace. The former from conforming to our own will, and the will of man; the latter from conformity to the will of God. 'And, as to their tendency, nothing more directly tends to destroy meekness and quietness of spirit, than all that outward adorning, whereby we seek to commend ourselves to men, and not to God: for this cherisheth all those passions and tempers, which overthrow the quiet of every soul wherein they dwell.
3. Let them “adorn themselves,” saith St. Paul, “ not with curling of hair, or with gold, pearls, or costly apparel, but” (which becometh women professing godliness,) with good works.”. The latter elause is here, likewise, added for plain and weighty reasons: for, 1, That kind of adorning cannot spring from godliness, from either the love or fear of God, from a desire of conforming to his will, or from the mind which was in Christ. 2, It no way tends to increase godliness: it is not conducive to any holy temper. But, 3, It manifestly tends to destroy several of the tempers most essential to godliness. It has no friendly influence on humility; whether we aim at pleasing others or ourselves hereby. Either in one case or the other, it will rather increase pride or vanity, than lowliness of heart. It does not at all minister to the seriousness which becomes a sinner born to die. It is utterly inconsistent with simplicity: no one uses it merely to please God. Whoever acts with a single eye, does all things to be seen and approved of God; and can no more dress than he can pray, or give alms, to be seen of men.
4. “O but one may be as humble in velvet and embroidery, as another is in sackcloth.” True; for a person may wear sackcloth, and have no humility at all. The heart may be filled with pride and vanity, whatever the raiment may be. Again, women under the yoke of unbelieving parents or husbands, as well as men in office, may, on several occasions, be constrained to put on gold or costly apparel. And, in cases of this kind, plain experience shews, that the baneful influence is suspended : so that, wherever it is not our choice, but our cross, it may consist with godliness, with a meek and quiet spirit, with lowliness of heart, with Christian seriousness. But it is not true, that any one can choose this from a single eye to please God; or, consequently, without sustaining great loss, as to lowliness and every other Christian temper.
5. But however this be, can you be adorned at the same time with costly apparel, and with good works? That is, in the same degree as you might have been, had you bestowed less cost on your apparel ? You know this is impossible: the more you expend on the one, the less you have to expend on the other.
Costliness of apparel, in every branch, is, therefore, immediately, directly, inevitably destructive of good works. You see a brother, for whom
Christ died, ready to perish for want of needful clothing. You would give it him gladly: but, alas! “ It is corban, whereby he might have been profited.” It is given already, not indeed for the service of God, not to the treasury of the temple; but either to please the folly of others, or to feed vanity, or the lust of the eye in yourself. Now, even suppose these were harmless tempers, yet, what an unspeakable loss is this, if it be really true, that “ every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour! If there be indeed a reward in heaven for every work of faith, for every degree of the labour of love!
IV. i. As to the advice subjoined, it is easy to observe, that all those smaller things are, in their degree, liable to the same objections as the greater. If they are gay, showy; pleasing to the eye, the putting them on does not spring from a single view to please God. It neither flows from, nor tends to advance a meek and quiet spirit. It does not arise from, nor any way promote real, vital godliness.
2. And if they are in any wise costly, if they are purchased with any unnecessary expense, they cannot but (in proportion to that expense,) be destructive of good works : of consequence, they are destructive of that charity, which is fed thereby; hardening our heart against the cry of the poor and needy, by inuring us to shut up our bowels of compassion toward them.
3. At least, all unnecessary expenses of this kind, whether small or great, are senseless and foolish. This we may defy any man living to get over, if he allows there is another world. For there is no reward in heaven for laying out your money in ornaments, or costly apparel : whereas you may have an eternal reward, for whatever you expend on earth.
4. Consider this more closely. Here are two ways pro-. posed of laying out such a sum of money. I may lay it out in expensive apparel for myself, or in necessary clothing for my neighbour. The former will please my own eye, or that of others : the latter will please God. Now suppose there were no more harm in the one than in the other, in that which pleases man, than in that which pleases God : is there as much good in it? If they were equally innocent, are they equally wise? By the one, I gratify the desire of the eye, and gain a pleasure that perishes in the using: by the other, I gain a larger share of those pleasures that are at God's right hand for evermore. By the former, I obtain the applause of men; by the latter, the praise of God. In this way, I meet with the admiration of fools. in that, I hear from the Judge of all, “ Well done, good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
5. Brethren, whatever ye are accounted by men, I would not have you fools in God's account. “Walk ye circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise;" not in those ways which God may possibly forgite, (to put things in the most favourable light :) but in those which he will certainly reward. “In wickedness be ye children" still; “ but in understanding be ye men.” I want to see a visible body of people, who are standing examples of this wisdom; patterns of doing all things, great and small, with an eye to God and eternity.
V. 1. But we may be assured, the wisdom of the world will find out abundance of objections to this. Accordingly, it is objected, first, “ If God has given us plentiful fortunes, if we are placed in the higher ranks of life, we must act suitably to our fortune. We ought then to dress according to our rank, that is, in gold and costly apparel." Not to insist, that none of you are of this rank, I answer, Where is this written? Our Saviour once occasionally said, “ Behold they who wear gorgeous (splendid) apparel are in kings' courts :” but he does not say, they ought to be even there: he neither enjoins, nor countenances it. And where is this either enjoined or allowed by him or any of his Apostles ? Bring me plain, scriptural proof for your assertion, or I cannot allow it.
2. “But did not God give express command by Moses, that some even among his chosen people should be adorned in the most exquisite manner, with gold and precious stones and costly array ?” Indeed he did; he expressly commanded