The Review and Herald


December 6, 1881

Simplicity in Dress


“Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel, but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” RH December 6, 1881, par. 1

Human reasoning has ever sought to evade or set aside the simple, direct instructions of the word of God. In every age, a majority of the professed followers of Christ have disregarded those precepts which enjoin self-denial and humility, which require modesty and simplicity of conversation, deportment, and apparel. The result has ever been the same,—departure from the teachings of the gospel leads to the adoption of the fashions, customs, and principles of the world. Vital godliness gives place to a dead formalism. The presence and power of God, withdrawn from those world-loving circles, are found with a class of humbler worshipers, who are willing to obey the teachings of the Sacred Word. Through successive generations, this course has been pursued. One after another, different denominations have risen, and, yielding their simplicity, have lost, in a great measure, their early power. RH December 6, 1881, par. 2

As we see the love of fashion and display among those who profess to believe present truth, we sadly ask, Will the people of God learn nothing from the history of the past? There are few who understand their own hearts. The vain and trifling lovers of fashion may claim to be followers of Christ; but their dress and conversation show what occupies the mind and engages the affections. Their lives betray their friendship for the world, and it claims them as its own. RH December 6, 1881, par. 3

How can one that has ever tasted the love of Christ be satisfied with the frivolities of fashion? My heart is pained to see those who profess to be followers of the meek and lowly Saviour, so eagerly seeking to conform to the world's standard of dress. Notwithstanding their profession of godliness, they can hardly be distinguished from the unbeliever. They do not enjoy a religious life. Their time and means are devoted to the one object of dressing for display. RH December 6, 1881, par. 4

Pride and extravagance in dress is a sin to which woman is especially prone. Hence the injunction of the apostle relates directly to her: “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.” RH December 6, 1881, par. 5

We see steadily gaining ground in the church an evil which the word of God condemns. What is the duty of those in authority, in regard to this matter? Will the influence of the church be what it should be, while many of its members obey the dictates of fashion, rather than the clearly expressed will of God? How can we expect the presence and aid of the Holy Spirit, while we suffer these things to exist among us? Can we remain silent while the teachings of Christ are set aside by his professed followers? These things bring grief and perplexity to those who have the oversight of the church of God. Will not my Christian sisters themselves reflect candidly and prayerfully upon this subject? Will they not seek to be guided by the word of God? The extra time spent in the making up of apparel according to the fashions of the world should be devoted to close searching of heart and the study of the Scriptures. The hours that are worse than wasted in preparing unnecessary adornings, might be made more valuable than gold if spent in seeking to acquire right principles and solid attainments. My heart aches as I see young ladies professing to be followers of Christ who are practically ignorant of his character and his will. These youth have been satisfied to feed on husks. The glittering tinsel of the world appears more valuable to them than the eternal riches. The mental powers, that might be developed by thought and study, are suffered to lie dormant, and the affections are undisciplined, because the outward apparel is considered of more consequence than spiritual loveliness or mental vigor. RH December 6, 1881, par. 6

Will the followers of Christ seek to obtain the inward adorning, the meek and quiet spirit which God pronounces of great price, or will they squander the few short hours of probation in needless labor for display? The Lord would have woman seek constantly to improve both in mind and heart, gaining intellectual and moral strength that she may lead a useful and happy life,—a blessing to the world and an honor to her Creator. RH December 6, 1881, par. 7

I would ask the youth of today who profess to believe present truth, wherein they deny self for the truth's sake. When they really desire an article of dress, or some ornament or convenience, do they lay the matter before the Lord in prayer to know if his Spirit would sanction this expenditure of means? In the preparation of their clothing, are they careful not to dishonor their profession of faith? Can they seek the Lord's blessing upon the time thus employed? It is one thing to join the church, and quite another thing to be united to Christ. Unconsecrated, world-loving professors of religion are one of the most serious causes of weakness in the church of Christ. RH December 6, 1881, par. 8

In this age of the world, there is an unprecedented rage for pleasure. Dissipation and reckless extravagance everywhere prevail. The multitudes are eager for amusement. The mind becomes trifling and frivolous, because it is not accustomed to meditation, or disciplined to study. Ignorant sentimentalism is current. God requires that every soul shall be cultivated, refined, elevated, and ennobled. But too often every valuable attainment is neglected for fashionable display and superficial pleasure. Women permit their souls to be starved and dwarfed by fashion, and thus they become a curse to society, rather than a blessing. RH December 6, 1881, par. 9

I have seen poor families struggling under a weight of debt, and yet the children were not trained to deny themselves to remove this burden. They had never learned to practice self-denial in order to aid their parents. In one family where I visited, the daughters expressed a desire for an expensive piano. Gladly would the parents have gratified this wish, but they were embarrassed with debt. The daughters knew this, and had they been taught to practice self-denial, they would not have given their parents the pain of denying their wishes. But although told that it would be impossible, they did not permit the matter to end there. The desire was expressed again and again, thus continually adding to the heavy burden of the parents. On another visit I saw the coveted instrument of music in the house, and some hundreds of dollars were added to the burden of debt. I hardly knew whom to blame most, the indulgent parents or the selfish children. Both are guilty before God. RH December 6, 1881, par. 10

This one case will illustrate many. These young persons, although they profess to be Christians, have never taken the cross of Christ; for the very first lesson to be learned is the lesson of self-denial. Said our Saviour, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.” In no way can we become disciples of Christ, except by complying with this condition. RH December 6, 1881, par. 11

We must know more of Jesus and his love than of the fashions of the world. In the name of my Master, I call upon the youth to study the example of Christ. When you wish to make an article, you carefully study the pattern, that you may reproduce it as nearly as possible. Now set to work to copy the Divine Exemplar. Your eternal interest demands that you possess the Spirit of Christ. You cannot be like Jesus, and cherish pride in your heart. You cannot give any place to envy or jealousy. You must consider it beneath the character of a Christian to harbor resentful thoughts or indulge in recrimination. Let the law of kindness be sacredly observed. Never comment upon the character or the acts of others in a manner to injure them. In no case make their failures or defects the subject of ridicule or unkind criticism. You lessen your own influence by so doing, and lead others to doubt your sincerity as a Christian. Let peace and love dwell in your soul, and ever cherish a forgiving spirit. RH December 6, 1881, par. 12

I repeat, Study the fashions less, and the character of Jesus more. The greatest and holiest of men was also the meekest. In his character, majesty and humility were blended. You will find this to exist today in the greatest minds. The Majesty of Heaven came to earth, veiling his divinity with humanity. He had the command of worlds, he could summon the hosts of Heaven at his will; yet he for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. The attractions of this world, its glory and its pride, had no fascination for him. Meekness and humility he makes prominent in the cluster of Christian graces. He would have his disciples study these divine attributes, and seek to possess them. “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” RH December 6, 1881, par. 13

Of how little value are gold or pearls or costly array, in comparison with the meekness and loveliness of Christ. Natural loveliness consists in symmetry, or the harmonious proportion of parts, each with the other; but spiritual loveliness consists in the harmony or likeness of our souls to Jesus. This will make its possessor more precious than fine gold, even the golden wedge of Ophir. The grace of Christ is indeed a priceless adornment. It elevates and ennobles its possessor, and reflects beams of glory upon others, attracting them also to the Source of light and blessing. RH December 6, 1881, par. 14

Said the apostle Paul, “Our conversation is in Heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour.” While others are dwarfing the intellect, hardening the heart, and robbing their Maker by devoting themselves to the service of the world, the true Christian is lifting his soul above the follies and vanities of earth, seeking God for pardon, peace, and righteousness; for glory, immortality, and eternal life. And he seeks not in vain. His fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ. Through this close intercourse with God, the soul becomes transformed. By beholding we are changed into the divine image, while those who seek only to gratify the desires of the unconsecrated heart, will float with the current of worldliness and fashion. They talk of what they love the most, give study and thought to that, until by beholding they are changed to the same image. Their conformity to worldly customs holds them in captivity to Satan, the god of this world. “His servants ye are to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey.” RH December 6, 1881, par. 15

The dress worn by many of our sisters testifies against them,—professors in name, but lovers of the world by practice. We propose that the means which is needlessly expended in dress and display, be made to flow in a different channel. Let all that has heretofore been expended to obliterate the line of demarkation between Christians and the world be now used to provide food and clothing for the Lord's poor, and to send the truth to those who are in darkness. Means are needed for the various enterprises connected with the work of God. Our sisters can do much to supply this want. If saved with care, the means that has been worse than wasted in the indulgence of pride, will amount to more than they imagine. My sisters, dress as Christians should dress,—simply, plainly; adorn yourselves as becometh women professing godliness, with good works. Let your tea and coffee money flow into the Lord's treasury. Let the means expended for every other hurtful indulgence of appetite also be placed there. You can do much for the cause of God by practicing self-denial in what seems to you little things. God will bless you in this work. RH December 6, 1881, par. 16

We have each an individual responsibility. No friend or neighbor can be a criterion for us. Jesus is the only safe pattern. Have you not, my sisters, given to the world a wrong example in your dress and in your selfish indulgence? Will you not have to render an account to God for the influence you have exerted in favor of needless adornment and display? Our faith must be tested in this world. Christ overcame in our behalf, and thus made it possible for us also to overcome. We must endure trial and temptation here, and then, if faithful, we shall receive the crown. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive a crown of life.” We shall be exposed to manifold temptations, but these, if rightly borne, will refine and purify us, even as gold is purified in the fire. Yet when exposed to the allurements of the world, that which we had thought to be gold, proves to be but dross. Our Redeemer sees the situation, and he counsels all to buy of him gold tried in the fire; which is true faith and genuine love, the grace that will not be destroyed by fierce temptations. RH December 6, 1881, par. 17

The apostle exhorts Christians, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” Compare your character with the mirror of God's word, see if that law condemns you. If so, wash your robe of character in the blood of the Lamb. Whether we do or do not try ourselves by God's law, we may be sure that he will try us. He will bring us through the furnace. Trials do not come upon us to inform God of what we are, for his eye reads the intents and purposes of the heart; but it is for our own enlightenment, that we may learn our own defects, and remedy them before it is too late. We cannot tell what we are, whether our graces are true or false, until brought to the test. RH December 6, 1881, par. 18

The life of Christ was one continuous experience of privation, self-denial, and sorrow. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Seeing that our Saviour has endured all this for us, what will we endure for him? Will we show our love and gratitude by self-denial in obeying his words, and manifesting his spirit? There is work to be done for the Master. How many souls might be saved, if each professed follower of Christ would do all that lay in his power to do! My brother, my sister, there are all around us the poor, who may receive from you the words of Christ, after you have fed and clothed them. There are the sick, whom it is your duty to visit. There are sorrowing ones to be comforted and prayed for. If the Lord has blessed you with this world's goods, it is not that you may greedily hoard it, or expend it in the indulgence of pride. Remember that he will one day say, “Give an account of thy stewardship.” Let us invest our means in the bank of Heaven by using it to supply the wants of the needy or to advance the cause of God. Then the Master at his coming, having found us faithful over a few things, will make us each ruler over “many things” in the kingdom of glory. RH December 6, 1881, par. 19