The Health Reformer

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February 1, 1872

Words to Christian Mothers—No. 6

EGW

My sisters, there is need of a dress reform among us. There are many errors in the present style of female dress. It is injurious to health, for females to wear tight corsets, or whalebones, or to compress the waist. The health of the entire system depends on the healthy action of the respiratory organs. Thousands of females have ruined their constitutions, and brought upon themselves various diseases, in their efforts to make a healthy and natural form unhealthy and unnatural. They are dissatisfied with nature's arrangements, and in their earnest efforts to correct nature, and bring her to their ideas of gentility, they break down her work, and leave it a mere wreck. HR February 1, 1872, par. 1

Many females drag down the bowels and hips by hanging heavy skirts upon them. These were not formed to sustain weights. In the first place, heavy quilted skirts should never be worn. They are unnecessary, and a great evil. The female dress should be suspended from the shoulders. HR February 1, 1872, par. 2

It would be pleasing to God if there was greater uniformity in dress among Christians. The style of dress formerly adopted by the Friends is commendable. Many of them have backslidden, and although they may preserve the uniformity of color, yet they have indulged in pride and extravagance, and their dress has been of the most expensive material. Still their selection of plain colors, and the modest and neat arrangement of their clothing, is worthy of imitation by all Christians. HR February 1, 1872, par. 3

The children of Israel, after they were brought out of Egypt, were commanded to have a simple ribbon of blue in the border of their garments, to distinguish them from the nations around them, and to signify that they were God's peculiar people. The people of God are not now required to have a special mark placed upon their garments. But in the New Testament we are often referred to ancient Israel for examples. If God gave such definite directions to his ancient people in regard to their dress, will not the dress of his people in this age come under his notice? Should there not be in their dress a distinction from that of the world? Should not the people of God, who are his peculiar treasure, seek even in their dress to glorify God? And should they not be examples in point of dress, and by their simple style rebuke the pride, vanity, and extravagance of worldly, pleasure-loving professors? God requires this of his people. Pride is rebuked in his word. HR February 1, 1872, par. 4

But there is a class who are continually harping upon pride and dress, who are careless of their own apparel, and who think it a virtue to dress without order or taste; and their clothing often looks as though it flew and lit upon their persons. Their garments are filthy, and yet such ones will ever be talking against pride. They class decency and neatness with pride. Had they been among that number who gathered around the mount to hear the law spoken from Sinai, they would have been chased from the congregation of Israel, because they had not obeyed the command of God—“And let them wash their clothes,”—preparatory to listening to his law given in awful grandeur. HR February 1, 1872, par. 5

The ten commandments, spoken by Jehovah from Sinai, cannot live in the hearts of persons of disorderly, filthy habits. If ancient Israel could not so much as listen to the proclamation of that holy law, unless they had obeyed the injunction of Jehovah, and had cleansed their clothing, how can that sacred law be written upon the hearts of persons who are not cleanly in person, in clothing, or in their houses? It is impossible. Their profession may be as high as Heaven, yet it is not worth a straw. Their influence disgusts unbelievers. Better if they had ever remained outside the ranks of God's loyal people. If there are worthy persons who, with their whole heart would honor the Lord of the Sabbath, and the worship of God, and who cannot obtain a change of clothing, let those who are able, donate to such a Sabbath suit, that they may appear in the house of God with cleanly, fitting apparel. Those who expend means on costly apparel and extra fixings, can by a little self-denial exemplify pure religion, by simplicity of clothing, and then use the means they have usually expended needlessly in aiding the poor to obtain neat and modest apparel. HR February 1, 1872, par. 6

Some receive the idea that in order to carry out that separation from the world which the word of God requires, they must be neglectful of their apparel. This class, if they had an engagement to meet a friend honored by the world, and they wished to be especially favored by him, would exert themselves to appear in his presence with the best apparel that could be obtained; for this friend would feel insulted were they to come into his presence with hair uncombed, and garments uncleanly, and in disorder. Yet these persons think that it is no matter in what dress they appear, or what is the condition of their persons, when they meet upon the Sabbath to worship the great God. They assemble in his house, which is as the audience-chamber of the Most High, where heavenly angels are in attendance, with but little respect, or reverence, as their persons and clothing indicate. Their whole appearance typifies the character of such men and women. HR February 1, 1872, par. 7

The favorite theme of this class is pride of dress. Decency, taste, and order, they regard as pride. And according to the dress of these mistaken souls will be their conversation, their acts, and their deal. They are careless, and often low, in their conversation at their homes and before the world. The dress, and its arrangement upon the person, is generally found to be the index of the man or the woman. Those who are careless and untidy in dress are seldom elevated in their conversation, and possess but little refinement of feelings. They sometimes consider oddity and coarseness, humility. HR February 1, 1872, par. 8

Christians should not take pains to make themselves gazing-stocks by dressing differently from the world. But if, in accordance with their faith and duty in respect to their dressing modestly and healthfully, they find themselves out of fashion, they should not change their dress in order to be like the world; but they should manifest a noble independence and moral courage to be right, if all the world differ from them. If the world introduce a modest, convenient, and healthful mode of dress, which is in accordance with the Bible, it will not change their relation to God, or to the world, to adopt such a style of dress. Christians should follow Christ, and conform their dress to God's word. They should shun extremes. They should humbly pursue a straightforward course, irrespective of applause or of censure, and should cling to the right because of its own merits. HR February 1, 1872, par. 9

E. G. W.