Our Apparel is a Badge of Shame

When you arise in the morning and dress yourself, do not waste that precious time—when your mind is freshest—with impertinent and fruitless thoughts, as is the custom of too many to do. This is a fit time to think upon the reason why you have need of apparel—namely, the fall and sin of your first parents, which you have derived from them. For before their fall, their nakedness was appropriate, and seeing it, they were not ashamed (Genesis 1:31; 2:25).

It will likewise be to good purpose to consider what the wise providence of God has appointed to be the substance of your apparel—the rinds of plants, the skins, hair, or wool of brute beasts, and the bowels of the silkworm—the very excretions and superfluous apparel of unreasonable creatures! Which, as it magnifies the wisdom, power, and goodness of God in choosing and turning such mean things to such excellent use, so it should humble and suppress the pride of man. For what man in his senses would be proud of the badge of his shame, even of that apparel for which he is, under God, indebted even to plants and beasts!

General Rules for Apparel

Now also is a good time to call to mind what rules are to be observed, that you may dress yourself as is proper for one who professes godliness:

  1. That your apparel, for matter and fashion, corresponds with your general and special calling (1 Timothy 2:9-10), and with your estate, sex, and age (Deuteronomy 22:5).

  2. That your apparel be consistent with health and decency (1 Corinthians 11:14-15; 12:23).

  3. That you rather go with the lowest, as opposed to the highest, of your state and place.

  4. That the fashion be neither outlandish, immodest, deviant, nor ridiculous (Zephaniah 1:8).

  5. That you be neither overly meticulous nor prolonged, taking up too much time in putting it on.

  6. Neither the making nor wearing of your apparel must savor of pride, frivolity, eccentricity, lasciviousness, extravagance, or base covetousness (Isaiah 3:18-24), but such as corresponds to holiness, wisdom, and honesty, and such as is well reported of (Philippians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 11).

  7. Follow the example of those of your rank and means who are most sober, frugal, and discrete.

Reflections While Dressing

While dressing yourself, it will be appropriate and profitable also, by this occasion, to raise your thoughts and fix them upon that apparel which clothes and adorns your inward man (Revelation 3:18; 1 Peter 3:4), which is spiritual and of a divine matter, is never out of fashion, and never wears out, but is always the better for the wearing. Think such thoughts as this:

If I go naked without bodily apparel, it will be to the shame of my person and hazard of my health and life. But how much more will the filthy nakedness of my soul appear to the eyes of men, angels, and God Himself (Revelation 3:17; 16:15; Exodus 32:25), whose pure eyes cannot tolerate filthiness (Habakkuk 1:13), whereby my soul will be exposed to most deadly temptations, and my whole person to God's most severe judgments—unless I have put on and keep on the white linen of Christ's spouse, the righteousness of the saints (Revelation 19:8), that is, justification by faith in Christ, and sanctification by the Spirit of Christ?

And since you will be assaulted every day by the world, the flesh, and the devil, you will do well to consider whether you have put on and improved your coat of mail—that complete armor prescribed in Ephesians 6:11-18.

When you use your mirror (James 1:23-25), considering how you use it to discover and reform what is unseemly and out of order with your body, you may hereby remember the necessity and admirable use of the mirror of God's Word, and the gospel of Christ, both read and preached, for the good of your soul. For this being understood and believed not only shows what is amiss in the soul and how it may be amended, but in some measure will enable you to amend; for it not only shows you your own face, but the very face and glory of God in Christ Jesus, which by reflection upon you will, through the Spirit, work on you a more excellent effect than on Moses' face on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:29-30), which yet was so glorious that the people could not endure to behold it. For it is by this glory of God—which by faith you behold in the Word—that you will be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Reflections While Undressing at the Close of the Day

When you see yourself without your apparel, consider what you were at your birth and what you shall be at your death when you put off this earthly tabernacle, as concerning your outward estate—how that you brought nothing into this world, nor shall you carry anything out (1 Timothy 6:7); naked you came from your mother's womb, and naked you shall return (Job 1:21). This will be an excellent means to give you sweet contentment in anything you have, though never so little, and in the loss of what you have had, though never so much (1 Timothy 6:8; Job 1:21).

Concerning these things which I have directed to be thought upon when you put on your apparel in the morning and when you put it off at night, my meaning is not to urge them as necessary—as if it would be sin to omit any of these particulars—but rather to be used, except better come in place, as most convenient.

Adapted and edited from Henry Scudder's The Christian's Daily Walk (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1984), pp. 30-32, 95.

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