Archive for the ‘Separation & Nonconformity’ Category
By Dean Taylor
As news reports from Iran leak stories concerning their growing political unrest, pictures of protests, demonstrations, and riots reveal a sad condition. Among the complaints—one that has caught a lot of the American attention—is the discrimination of women. Notable figures from within Iran have begun to speak out openly about some of the problems. CNN recently reported, “Increasingly, women’s voices are gaining power as their numbers rise and their demands grow louder. Even the granddaughter of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the architect of the Islamic Republic, voiced frustration at the way women are treated.” This kind of talk has certainly taken over in common conversation. It seems nowadays that everywhere you go people speak about what they see as injustice in the treatment of the Muslim women. That word—injustice—seems to be the common cry. What I have most often heard expressed is not so much a complaint about the Muslim veil or their conservative dress, but the complaints about the glaring inconsistencies people see between Muslim men and women. “The men,” they say, “look like everyone else, while the women are covered from head to toe.” I tend to chuckle a bit and shake my head in agreement with this glaring contradiction. But lately, as I look around Lancaster County, I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t rather ironic that I should be so amused at their inconsistency. I recently read though the Quran. In so doing I noticed that, similar to the New Testament, the Quran has more specific things to say about the dress of women than it does the dress of men. I assume that Muslim men, noticing the absence of a “law” concerning dress, interpret this as a license to dress however they want. This caused me to ponder … “In what way are we Christians different?” Admittedly, the New Testament is more specific about the dress of women than it is of men. But aren’t Christians supposed to be led by the spirit of the law more than the letter of the law? As the spiritual leaders of our homes, I feel we men ought to be able to discern this conspicuous inconsistency more readily than a people who are living by law. Coming from a culture that thought very little of modesty, my wife and I had to struggle our way through what the Bible had to say about the modesty of women. From the start, the mere thought of having my wife wear dresses really stretched me. And while my wife had always had long hair since we were married, coming to terms with what the Bible says about women having long hair was yet another stretch for me. And then, of course, the teaching we found in 1 Corinthians 11 on the covered head was the toughest biblical concept of all to accept. Because of my pride, I had a lot harder time accepting all of it than my wife did. She was the one who had to make all the changes, such as no longer styling her hair, not wearing her makeup and jewelry, and then disposing of almost every single piece of her wardrobe in exchange for more modest and feminine dresses. Looking back, I’m ashamed to admit I was more embarrassed being seen with someone who was dressed in biblical attire, than my wife who was actually making such profound changes. Eventually, when I finally surrendered to the words of Scripture, we both found great peace together. After I finally surrendered, I remember wishing that I could be the one who had to do the “hard part.” Coming from my background, making a change like putting on a head covering was as about as hard as going to the mall in a clown suit. One of our local sisters here, Christine Lamicela, described her experience by saying that when she first put on the covering, “The way people looked at me, it was like going out in public sporting a big green nose.” I wonder how many of our sisters can relate to her experience? As we continued to look deeper into the issue, I realized that, while the Bible might certainly have more specifics mentioned for my wife, those same biblical principles should be as applicable to me as they are to her. Moreover, as I consciously chose to embrace these biblical principles as the leader of my home, I was also hit with the profound sense of responsibility that my wife needed me to lead out in this area as much as any other.
Biblical principles summed up in three biblical words
In 1 Timothy 2:8-10, we find three words that can act as a tremendous guide to discipline the way we dress as men: adorn, shamefacedness, and sobriety. Paul writes: “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 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.” While the clothing issues addressed in this passage are specifically directed toward women, as the spiritual leaders of our homes they certainly can be used as a guide for men as well. Men, let’s not miss an important parallel that the Apostle makes here: the women’s dress guidelines, such as shamefacedness and sobriety, are given in the context of being “in like manner” to the holy/worshipping behavior of the men. If we could just take those three words—adorn, shamefacedness and sobriety—and cause everything in our closet to pass through this filter, I wonder what effect that alone would have on our wardrobe? The word “adorn” is an interesting one. It comes from the Greek word kosmeo. This is where we get our word for the cosmos or universe. It means “to put in order, arrange, make ready.” Our God is a God of order, and it is significant that He employed this word to describe how he wants His saints to dress. The other two words are pretty self-explanatory: shamefacedness and sobriety. Ask yourself … do these three words describe your wardrobe? Do these three words guide your manner of speaking? What about your hairstyle?
Without question, one of the most forgotten New Testament teachings in the modern American church is the doctrine of separation. You know how it goes … when a discussion on separation comes up, most Christians today will promptly reach for their favorite misquotation of Paul’s ministry to the Greeks and Jews (i.e. Greeks to the Greeks, and Jews to the Jews). However, even a casual look at the passage reveals that Paul was not speaking about a proclamation of his newfound liberties, but of the renunciation of his own comforts. One honest look at this doctrine can be life changing. Paul addresses this issue numerous times to the Gentile converts of Corinthians. Let’s take a look at another such passage in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13. In this instance, Paul begins his teaching on separation with a rebuke: Ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. What Paul is saying here is that he has a heart full of things to say to them. But in saying these things, he wants them to know that he is not trying to restrict them or spoil their fun. However, he lets them know that their real restriction is actually coming from their passions, not from godly disciplines. To get through this mental block, he challenges them to open their mind to hear what he has to say. Then he spells it out for them more specifically (vss. 14-16): Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. If that is not powerful enough, he goes on to link this teaching of separation with a wonderful promise (vss. 17-18): Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Finally, he sums up his teaching with an accent on the promise and summarizes that our response to this promise should affect both the inside and the out (2 Co. 7:1): Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Wow!
The restrained strength of meekness
Perhaps the most appropriate word we could use to define the behavior of a Spirit-filled man of God would be the word “meek.” Numbers 12 tells us that “Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” Unlike the modern rendering of the word meek, the ancient usage of the word, praos, is full of powerful meaning. Instead of painting a picture of being weak, mild, and cowed, it instead portrays a picture of power—power that is directed, self-controlled, and disciplined. Gerald Heard, speaking of the ancient Greek word praos says: They used it for wild animals which had been tamed, trained; for wild horses which had been made able to work with men. There is then in this definition nothing weak or spiritless, but rather the description of energy which, instead of exploding, is now channeled and directed. The tamed are not the tame … The trained are those whose powerful impulses have been put into understanding service. None of these definitions should be an exact rule or law to us; but if we would allow ourselves to be led by the spirit behind the words, they should at least serve as a guide. Perhaps we have more to go on than we originally thought when we ponder these forgotten spiritual concepts: Meekness, as being strength in control. Adorn as representing setting things in order. Shamefacedness and sobriety, as taking them at face value: i.e. shamefacedness and sobriety mean shamefacedness and sobriety. Considering the general concepts of being “in order, “separated” and “sober,” may I suggest a simple application that I have found useful: • If it is unzipped—zip it. • If it is hanging out—tuck it in. • If it is untied—tie it. • If it is unbuttoned—button it. • If it is sticking up—comb it down. • If it is hanging down—pull it up. • If it is flashy—subdue it. • If it is revealing something that it shouldn’t—cover it up. • If it looks like the world, smells like the world, and sounds like the world—separate from it. You probably get the idea. This not an exact science, but, at the very least, it is a pretty basic discipline that engages the concepts of orderliness, discipline, and separation (which, by the way, is the very definition of the word “holiness”). We know it is the heart of God that we be a special people, set apart and clearly distinguishable from the world around us—for we know God desires a holy people.
Since the time of the New Testament, the Spirit of God has inspired godly men to look at the principles in God’s word and apply them to every aspect of their lives—including the way they dressed. The church has never invented some kind of universal pattern, but godly men in every age have taken the way they dressed very seriously. As the world further twists God’s pattern, and continually tries new angles for us to copy, the church must be on guard—prepared and willing to stand apart. In the early church, Tertullian (A.D. 150-220) made an interesting remark that revealed that as things in the world were growing more and more immodest, the Christians were increasingly starting to stand out from the world around them. Apparently, the simple, modest design of the mantle was growing out of style; and more and more people were adapting the more immodest style of the toga. Because of this, Tertullian said that the mantle had, by default, “begun to be a Christian’s vesture.” Cyprian, writing in the later 200s, noted that when a person was truly born again, it would require a reexamination of all parts of their life—including their manner of dress. Speaking about his conversion, Cyprian said: I used to regard it as a difficult matter, and especially as difficult in respect of my character at that time, that a man should be capable of being born again … When does he learn thrift, who has been used to big banquets and sumptuous eating? And he who has been glittering in gold and purple, and has been noted for his expensive clothes, when does he reduce himself to mundane and simple clothing?
In an unusually candid sermon preached by John Wesley in 1789, insightfully entitled “Causes of Inefficacy of Christianity,” we get a rare glimpse into the heart of an older and experienced man of God. In a portion of this sermon, there is a cry that, quite frankly, gives me chills. Speaking almost as though he was a defeated minister, he humbly confesses that he fears that it was way too late to make any of the changes he felt were necessary in regard to dress. In his sermon, Wesley takes a look back, and—surprisingly—states that it would have been better to have had some kind of church guideline on the matter. I think it is very important that we listen to what he said: I am distressed. I know not what to do. I see what I might have done once. I might have said peremptorily and expressly, “Here I am: I and my Bible. I will not, I dare not vary from this book, either in great things or small. I have no power to dispense with one jot or tittle of what is contained therein. I am determined to be a Bible Christian, not almost, but altogether. Who will meet me on this ground? Join me on this, or not at all.” With regard to dress in particular, I might have been as firm (and I now see it would have been far better,) as either the people called Quakers, or the Moravian brethren; I might have said, “This is our manner of dress, which we know is both Scriptural and rational. If you join us, you are to dress as we do; but you need not join us unless you please.” But, alas! the time is now past; and what I can do now, I cannot tell. Later, in another sermon entitled “On Dress,” based on 1 Peter 3:3-4, Wesley cries out, almost pathetically: Let me see, before I die, a Methodist congregation, full as plain dressed as a Quaker congregation.
Charles G. Finney (1792-1875), the revivalist and president of Oberlin College, boldly wrote: “Christians are bound to be singular. They are called to be a peculiar people, that is, a singular people, essentially different from the rest of mankind. To maintain that we are not to be singular is the same as to maintain that we are to be conformed to the world. “Be not singular,” that is, be like the world. In other words, “Be ye conformed to the world.” This is the direct opposite to the command in the text. But the question now regards fashion, in dress, equipage, and so on. And here I will confess that I was formerly myself in error. I believed, and I taught, that the best way for Christians to pursue was to dress so as not to be noticed, to follow the fashions and changes so as not to appear singular, and that nobody would be led to think of their being different from others in these particulars. But I have seen my error, and now wonder greatly at my former blindness. It is your duty to dress so plain as to show to the world that you place no sort of reliance in the things of fashion, and set no value at all on them, but despise and neglect them altogether. But unless you are singular, unless you separate yourselves from the fashions of the world, you show that you do value them. There is no way in which you can bear a proper testimony by your lives against the fashions of the world, but by dressing plain.”
From the start of the Anabaptist movement, this doctrine has been of continual concern. Interestingly, the Roman Catholic theologian Franz Agricola, writing way back in 1582, wrote a book affectionately entitled “Against the Terrible Errors of the Anabaptists.” He said: “Among the existing heretical sects there is none which in appearance leads a more modest or pious life than the Anabaptist. As concerns their outward public life they are irreproachable. No lying, deception, swearing, strife, harsh language, no intemperate eating and drinking, no outward personal display, is found among them, but humility, patience, uprightness, neatness, honesty, temperance, straightforwardness in such measure that one would suppose that they had the Holy Spirit of God.” Finally, I leave you with a defining quote from Menno Simons, where he is speaking of the hypocrisy of the Catholics and Evangelicals who claim a biblical faith, yet ignore these elementary biblical principles concerning dress: “They say that they believe, and yet there are no limits nor bounds to their accursed wantonness, foolish pomp, show of silks, velvet, costly clothes, gold rings, chains, silver belts, pins, buttons, curiously adorned shirts, handkerchiefs, collars, veils, aprons, velvet shoes, slippers and such like foolish finery; never regarding that the enlightened apostles, Peter and Paul, have in plain and express words forbidden this to all Christian women.” After making his point about dress—mainly in reference to women—Menno concludes with a punch for the men: “If this is forbidden to women, how much more then should men abstain from it, who are the leaders and heads of their women. Notwithstanding all this, they still want to be called the Christian Church.” Oh, brethren, let’s remember that friendship with the world is still enmity with God! If our dress, hairstyle, music, and conversation is like the world, how long can we continue in this direction and still flatter ourselves with the great, New Age deception of “At least my heart is right!” The biblical principles we have received as followers of Christ clearly state that we are called by God to draw a distinct line between the church and the world. Your line may not be the same as my line, but there should be a line. At the very least, we should consider what kind of testimony it is when we have our wives dressed modestly, with dresses and head coverings, and we go around sporting jeans, the latest “moussed” hair fashions, and T-shirts which thoughtlessly propagate trite worldly slogans. Brethren, let us remember to take our place of leadership even in the small things, like the way we dress. Our wives need our support, and the world needs an example. ~
 Common misinterpretation of 1 Co. 9:19-23  Numbers 12:3  The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, p. 12  The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V, pp. 275  Sermons, Volume 2, Sermon 116, The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M., Cincinnati and New York, p. 439. Can be read at: http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/116/  Sermon 88, The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M., Cincinnati and New York. Available to read at: http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/88/ Or an audio version: http://www.elcristianismoprimitivo.com/english/john-wesley-on-dress.mp3  Finney, Charles, In Regards to Fashion: http://www.elcristianismoprimitivo.com/finneyondress.htm
Originally published in The Heartbeat of the Remnant July/August 2010, 400 W. Main Street Ste. 1, Ephrata, PA 17522.
By Adoniram Judson
Dear Sisters in Christ, Excuse my publicly addressing you. The necessity of the case is my only apology. Whether you will consider it a sufficient apology for the sentiments of this letter, unfashionable, I confess, and perhaps unpalatable, I know not. We are sometimes obliged to encounter the hazard of offending those whom of all others we desire to please. Let me throw myself at once on your mercy, dear sisters, allied by national consanguinity, professors of the same holy religion, fellow pilgrims to the same happy world. Pleading these endearing ties, let me beg you to regard me as a brother, and to listen with candor and forbearance to my honest tale. In raising up a church of Christ in this heathen land (Burma), and in laboring to elevate the minds of the female converts to the standard of the Gospel, we have always found one chief obstacle in that principle of vanity, that love of dress and display (I beg you will bear with me), which has, in every age and in all countries, been a ruling passion of the fair sex, as the love of riches, power, and fame has characterized the other. That obstacle lately became more formidable, through the admission of two or three fashionable females into the church, and the arrival of several missionary sisters, dressed and adorned in that manner which is too prevalent in our beloved native land. On my meeting the church, after a year’s absence, I beheld an appalling profusion of ornaments, and saw that the demon of vanity was laying waste the female department. At that time I had not maturely considered the subject, and did not feel sure what ground I ought to take. I apprehended, also, that I should be unsupported, and perhaps opposed by some of my coadjutors. I confined my efforts, therefore, to private exhortation, and with but little effect. Some of the ladies, out of regard to their pastor, took off their necklaces and ear-ornaments before they entered the chapel, tied them up in a corner of their handkerchiefs, and on returning, as soon as they were out of sight of the Mission-house, stopped in the middle of the street to array themselves anew. On the Mission Field In the mean time, I was called to visit the Karens, a wild people, several days’ journey to the north of Maulmain, Burma. Little did I expect there to encounter the same enemy, in those “wilds, horrid and dark with overshadowing trees.” But I found that he had been there before me, and reigned with a peculiar sway from time immemorial. On one Karen woman I counted between twelve and fifteen necklaces, of all colors, sizes, and materials. Three was the average. Brass belts above the ankles, neat braids of black hair tied below the knees, rings of all sorts on the fingers, bracelets on the wrists and arms, long instruments of some metal, perforating the lower part of the ear, by an immense aperture, and reaching nearly to the shoulders; fancifully constructed bags, enclosing the hair, and suspended from the back part of the head—not to speak of the ornamental parts of their clothing—these constituted the fashions and the ton of the Karenesses. The dress of the female converts was not essentially different from that of their countrywomen. I saw that I was brought into a situation that precluded all retreat—that I must fight or die. For a few nights, I spent some sleepless hours, distressed by this and other subjects, which will always press upon the heart of a missionary in a new place. I considered the spirit of the religion of Jesus Christ. I opened to 1 Tim. 2: 9, and read those words of the inspired apostle; “I will also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.” I asked myself, can I baptize a Karen woman in her present attire? No. Can I administer the Lord’s Supper to one of the baptized in that attire? No. Can I refrain from enforcing the prohibition of the apostle? Not without betraying the trust which I have received. I considered that the question concerned not the Karens only, but the whole Christian world; that its decision would involve a train of unknown consequences; that a single step would lead me into a long and perilous way. Again I considered Maulmein and the other stations; I considered the state of the public mind at home. But “what is that to thee? follow thou me,” was the continual response, and weighed more than all. I renewedly offered myself to Christ, and prayed for strength to go forward in the path of duty, come life or death, come praise or reproach, supported or deserted, successful or defeated in the ultimate issue. Soon after coming to this conclusion, a Karen woman offered herself for baptism. After the usual examination, I inquired whether she could give up her ornaments for Christ. It was an unexpected blow! I explained the spirit of the gospel. I appealed to her own consciousness of vanity. I read her the apostle’s prohibition. She looked again and again at her handsome necklace, (she wore but one,) and then, with an air of modest decision that would adorn, beyond all outward ornaments, any of my sisters whom I have the honour of addressing, she took it off, saying, “I love Christ more than this.” The news began to spread. The Christian women made but little hesitation. A few others opposed, but the work went on. At length the evil which I most dreaded came on me. Some of the Karen men had been to Maulmein, and seen what I wished they had not. And one day, when we were discussing the subject of ornaments, one of the Christians came forward in my face, and declared, that at Maulmein he had actually seen one of the great female teachers wearing a string of gold beads around her neck! Lay down this paper, dear sisters, and sympathize a little with your fallen missionary. Was it not a hard case? Was it not cruel for that sister thus to smite down to the dust her poor brother, who, without that blow, was hardly able to keep his ground? But she knew it not. She was not aware of the mischief she was doing. However, though cast down, I was not destroyed; though sorely bruised and wounded, I endeavored to maintain the warfare as well as I could; after some conflict the enemy fled the field, and, when I left those parts, the female converts were, generally speaking, arrayed in modest apparel. On arriving at Maulmein, Burma and partially recovering from a fever, which I had contracted in the Karen woods, the first thing I did was to crawl out to the house of the patroness of the gold beads. To her I related my adventures—to her commiseration, I commended my grief. With what ease and truth, too, could that sister reply, “Notwithstanding these beads, I dress more plain than most ministers’ wives, and professors of religion, in our native land. These beads are the only ornament I wear; they were given me when quite a child, by a dear mother, whom I never expect to see again” (another hard case). She enjoined it on me never to part with them as long as I lived, but to wear them as a memorial of her. Oh, ye Christian mothers, what a lesson you have before you! Can you, dare you, give injunctions to your daughters, directly contrary to apostolic commands? But, to the honor of my sister, be it recorded, that when she understood the merits of the case, and the mischief done by such an example, off went the gold beads; and she gave decisive proof that she loved Christ more than father or mother. Her example, united with the efforts of the rest of us at this station, is beginning to exercise a redeeming influence in the female department of the church. But, notwithstanding these favorable signs, nothing, really nothing, is yet done!—And why? This mission and all others must necessarily be sustained by continual supplies of missionaries, male and female, from the mother-country. Your sisters and daughters will continually come out, to take the place of those who are removed by death, and to occupy numberless stations, still unoccupied. And, when they arrive, they will be dressed in their usual way, as Christian women at home are dressed. And the female converts will run around them, and gaze upon them with the most prying curiosity, regarding them as the freshest representations of the Christian religion, from that land where it flourishes in all its purity and glory. And when they see the gold and jewels pendent from their ears, the beads and chains encircling their necks—the finger rings set with diamonds and rubies—the rich variety of ornamental hair dress—“the mantles and the wimples and the crisping pins,” (see the rest in Isaiah, 3rd chap.) Then they will cast a bitter, reproachful, triumphant glance at their old teachers, and spring with fresh avidity to repurchase and resume their long-neglected elegancies. The cheering news will fly up to the Dahgyne, the Laing-bwai, and the Salwen. The Karenesses will reload their necks, and ears, and arms, and ankles. And when, after another year’s absence, I return, and take my seat before the Burmese or the Karen church, I shall behold the demon of vanity enthroned in the centre of the assembly, more firmly than ever, grinning defiance to the prohibitions of apostles, and the exhortations of us who would fain be their humble followers. And thus you, my dear sisters, while sitting quietly by your firesides, or repairing devoutly to your places of worship, do, by your example, spread the poison of vanity through all the rivers, and mountains, and wilds of this far distant land; and, while you are sincerely and fervently praying for the upbuilding of the Redeemer’s kingdom, are inadvertently building up that of the devil. If, on the other hand, you divest yourselves of all meretricious ornaments, your sisters and daughters who come hither will be divested of course; the further supplies of vanity and pride will be cut off; and, the churches at home being kept pure, the churches here will be pure also. Dear sisters, having finished my tale, and therein exhibited the necessity under which I lay of addressing you, I beg leave to submit a few topics to your candid and prayerful consideration. 1. Motives Let me appeal to conscience, and inquire, what is the real motive for wearing ornamental and costly apparel? Is it not the desire of setting off one’s person to the best advantage, and of exciting the love and admiration of others? Is not such dress calculated to gratify self-love, to cherish the sentiments of vanity and pride? And is it not the nature of those sentiments to acquire strength from indulgence? Do such motives and sentiments comport with the meek, humble, self-denying religion of Jesus Christ? I would here respectfully suggest, that these questions will not be answered so faithfully in the midst of company as when quite alone kneeling before God. 2. Scripture Consider the words of the apostle quoted above from 1 Tim. 2: 9; “I will also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.” I do not quote a similar command recorded in 1 Peter 3: 3, because the verbal construction is not quite so definite, though the import of the two passages is the same. But cannot the force of these passages be evaded? Yes, and nearly every command in Scripture can be evaded, and every doctrinal assertion perverted, plausibly and handsomely, if we set about it in good earnest. But preserving the posture above alluded to, with the inspired volume spread open at the passage in question, ask your hearts, in simplicity and godly sincerity, whether the meaning is not just as plain as the sun at noon-day. Shall we then bow to the authority of an inspired apostle, or shall we not? From that authority, shall we appeal to the prevailing usages and fashions of the age? If so, please to recall the missionaries you have sent to the heathen—for the heathen can vindicate all their superstitions on the same ground. 3. Pride In the posture you have assumed, look up and behold the eye of your benignant Saviour ever gazing upon you, with the tenderest love—upon you, his daughters, his spouse, wishing, above all things, that you would yield your hearts entirely to him, and become holy as he is holy, rejoicing when he sees one and another accepting his pressing invitation, and entering the more perfect way; for, on that account, he will be able to draw such precious souls into a nearer union with himself, and place them at last in the higher spheres, where they will receive and reflect more copious communications of light from the great Fountain of light, the uncreated Sun. 4. Future Happiness Anticipate the happy moment, “hastening on all the wings of time”, when your joyful spirits will be welcomed into the assembly of the spirits of the just made perfect. You appear before the throne of Jehovah; the approving smile of Jesus fixes your everlasting happy destiny; and you are plunging into “the sea of life and love unknown; without a bottom or a shore.” Stop a moment—look back on yonder dark and miserable world that you have left; fix your eye on the meager, vain, contemptible articles of ornamental dress, which you once hesitated to give up for Christ, the King of glory; and on that glance decide the question instantly and forever. Decision Surely, you can hold out no longer. You cannot rise from your knees in your present attire. Thanks be to God, I see you taking off your necklaces and earrings, tearing away your ribbons, and ruffles, and superfluities of headdress, and I hear you exclaim, “What shall we do next?—An important question, deserving serious consideration. The ornaments you are removing, though useless, and worse than useless, in their present state, can be so disposed of as to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, relieve the sick, enlighten the dark minded, disseminate the Holy Scriptures, spread the glorious gospel throughout the world. Little do the inhabitants of a free Christian country know of the want and distress endured by the greater part of the inhabitants of the earth. Still less idea can they form of the awful darkness which rests upon the great mass of mankind in regard to spiritual things. During the years that you have been wearing these useless ornaments, how many poor creatures have been pining in want! How many have languished and groaned on beds of abject wretchedness! How many children have been bred up in the blackest ignorance, hardened in all manner of iniquity! How many immortal souls have gone down to hell, with a lie in their right hand, having never heard of the true God and the only Savior! Some of these miseries might have been mitigated; some poor wretch have felt his pain relieved; some widow’s heart been made to sing for joy; some helpless orphan have been taught in the Sabbath school, and trained up for a happy life here and hereafter. The Holy Bible and valuable tracts might have been far more extensively circulated in heathen lands had you not been afraid of being thought unfashionable, and not “like other folks”; had you not preferred adorning your persons, and cherishing the sweet seductive feelings of vanity and pride. O Christian sisters, believers in God, in Christ, in an eternal heaven, and an eternal hell, can you hesitate, and ask what you shall do? Bedew those ornaments with the tears of contrition; consecrate them to the cause of charity; hang them on the cross of your dying Lord. Delay not an instant. Hasten with all your might, if not to make reparation for the past, at least to prevent a continuance of the evil in future. Two Principles And for your guidance allow me to suggest two fundamental principles: the one based on 1 Tim. 2: 9, “all ornaments and costly dress to be disused”: the other on the law of general benevolence—the avails of such articles, and the savings resulting from the plain dress system, to be devoted to purposes of charity. Some general rules in regard to dress, and some general objects of charity, may be easily ascertained and settled. Minor points must, of course, be left to the conscience of each individual. Yet free discussion will throw light on many points at first obscure. Be not deterred by the suggestion, that in such discussions you are conversant about small things. Great things depend on small; and, in that case, things which appear small to short-sighted man are great in the sight of God. Many there are who praise the principle of self-denial in general, and condemn it in all its particular applications, as too minute, scrupulous, and severe. Satan is well aware, that if he can secure the minute units, the sum total will be his own. Think not anything small, which may have a bearing upon the kingdom of Christ, and upon the destinies of eternity. How easy to conceive, from many known events, that the single fact of a lady’s divesting herself of a necklace for Christ’s sake may involve consequences which shall be felt in the remotest parts of the earth, and in all future generations to the end of time—yea, stretch away into a boundless eternity, and be a subject of praise millions of ages after this world and all its ornaments are burned up. False Humility Beware of another suggestion made by weak and erring souls, who will tell you that there is more danger of being proud of plain dress and other modes of self-denial, than of fashionable attire and self-indulgence. Be not ensnared by this last, most finished, most insidious device of the great enemy. Rather believe that he who enables you to make a sacrifice is able to keep you from being proud of it. Believe that he will kindly permit such occasions of mortification and shame as will preserve you from the evil threatened. The severest part of self-denial consists in encountering the disapprobation, the envy, the hatred, of one’s dearest friends. All who enter the strait and narrow path, in good earnest, soon find themselves in a climate extremely uncongenial to the growth of pride. The gay and fashionable will, in many cases, be the last to engage in this holy undertaking. But let none be discouraged on that account. Christ has seldom honored the leaders of worldly fashion, by appointing them leaders in his cause. Wait not, therefore, for the fashionable to set an example; wait not for one another; listen not to the news from the next town; but let every individual go forward, regardless of reproach, fearless of consequences. The eye of Christ is upon you. The Final Day Death is hastening to strip you of your ornaments, and to turn your fair forms into corruption and dust. Many of those for whom this letter is designed will be hid in the grave before it can ever reach their eyes. We shall all soon appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be tried for our conduct, and to receive the things done in the body. When placed before that awful bar, in the presence of that Being, whose “eyes are as a flame of fire,” and whose irrevocable fiat will fix you forever in heaven or in hell, and mete out the measure of your everlasting pleasures and pains, what course will you wish you had taken? Will you then wish, that in defiance of his authority you had adorned your mortal bodies with gold, and precious stones, and costly attire, cherishing self-love, vanity, and pride? Or, will you wish that you had chosen a life of self-denial, renounced the world, taken up the cross daily and followed him? And as you will then wish you had done, do now. Dear Sisters, your affectionate brother in Christ, A. JUDSON Maulmein October, 1831