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We ought ever to retain a sense of our own weakness, and of our aptitude to fall into temptations when they are presented to us. Were we properly concerned for our own most important interest, that of our immortal souls, this sense would lead us to avoid, and not to run into, temptation. How much those amusements are either evils themselves, or temptations to evil, it cannot be necessary to point out at large to those who exercise serious reflection. How necessary is it, therefore, to attend to the apostolic exhortation : “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil!"*
On Dress and address.
Our principle for regulating dress.--Scripture passages in support of it. An objection answered.-Nonconformity to the world to be accompanied with the transformation of the mind.-Our peculiarities of address supported by reason, by propriety, and by religion.--On not taking off the hat.--Custom too much admitted in the conduct of Christians.
ON the first of these subjects, our principle is, to let decency, utility, and simplicity, be our chief guides; and not to conform to the changeable fashions of a vain and fluctuating world; though we may occasionally adopt alterations, which are convenient or useful. This is a principle, the propriety of wbicb, I apprehend, no one will deny ; and it is easy to suppose, that such a rule must make those who adopt it, generally singular in their appearance. It is not, however, for the sake of singularity, that we appear different from others; yet we bave reason to believe, that even this singularity is not without its use. It
is, in some respects, like a hedge about us; which, though it does not make the ground it encloses rich and fruitful, yet frequently prevents those intrusions, by which the labour of the husbandman is injured or destroyed.
The conduct which we have adopted in this respect, is supported by many passages in holy writ. “Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,”* was the advice of the apostle to the Christians, who dwelt at the seat of Roman grandeur and luxury; and at a time, when this grandeur and luxury had perhaps attained to their greatest height. As the female sex has generally been accounted most prone to excesses of this kind, the apostles, in writing on this subject, have more particularly addressed their advices to them : thus Paul says: “I will that women adorn themselves with modest apparel; with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array, but, which becometh women professing godliness, with good works.”* The following is extracted from the apostle Peter's advice to Christian wives: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward
* Rom. xii. 2. , " + 1 Tim. ii. 9, 10.
adorning of plaiting the hair, or of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that wbich is not corruptible; even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."*
It has been objected to us that we connect religion too much with dress. This, I conceive, arises from a misapprehension of our principles. We consider simplicity of apparel, and a nonconformity to vain fashions, as a moral virtue, in the same manner, though not to the same degree, as we do tempérance and sobriety. In these it is possible a man may be very exemplary, and yet be a stranger to true religion : but, because this man wants that which should be the moving spring of all our good actions, and, perhaps, in some other parts of conduct, is even deficient in morality, no one, surely, would recommend such a man to lay aside that part of moral conduct, which he is already in the practice of. Thus it is with our apparel. We need not lay aside what is right in one part of our practice, because we are not thought right, or do not think ourselves so, in every thing. A man's
. : :.* 1 Peter jii. 3, 4 1..
pretension to religion or virtue, should not be estimated from the plainness of his dress and outward appearance, any more than from his possessing some other moral virtues, into which true religion would, no doubt, lead him.
It is, however, highly important to us, to maintain something more than the form of godliness; and, whilst we avoid a conformity to this world, to be careful to seek after that Divine Power, which will enable us to comply with the other part of the exhortation : “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind; that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”* Thus, having our minds and conduct rightly regulated, we shall fulfil another important apostolic injunction: “Let not then your good be evil spoken of.”'t ,
In our address also, there are some peculiarities, which it will be proper to explain; as, our using the singular number in speaking to a single person; our disuse of the appellations of master, mistress, &c. in a complimentary manner, to those who do not stand in these
* Rom. xii. 2.
+ Rom. xiv. 16.