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Temperance in Apparel.


Temperance in Apparel.

James Dodson

[extracted from The Whole Duty of Man (1659)]

[Apparel designed for covering of shame.] 8. The last part of Temperance is that of APPAREL, which we are again to measure by the agreeableness to the ends for which clothing should be used. Those are especially these three: first, the hiding of nakedness. This was the first occasion of apparel, as you may read, Gen. 3. 21. and was the effect of the first sin; and therefore when we remember the original of clothes, we have so little reason to be proud of them, that on the contrary we have cause to be humbled and ashamed, as having lost that innocency which was a much greater ornament then any the most glorious apparel can be. From this end of clothing we are likewise engaged to have our apparel modest, such as may answer this end of covering our shame: And therefore all immodest fashions of apparel, which may either argue the wantonness of the wearer, or provoke that of the beholder, are to be avoided.

[Fencing from cold.] 9. A second end of Apparel, is the fencing the body from cold, thereby to preserve the health thereof, and this end we must likewise observe in our clothing; we must wear such kind of habits, as may keep us in that convenient warmth, which is necessary to our healths. And this is transgrest, when out of the vanity of being in every phantastick fashion, we put our selves in such clothing, as either will not defend us from cold, or is some other way so uneasie, that it is rather a hurt then a benefit to our bodies to be so clad. This is a most ridiculous folly, and yet that which people that take a pride in their clothes are usually guilty of.

[Distinction of persons.] 10. A third end of Apparel is the distinguishing or differencing of persons, and that first in respect of Sex; Secondly, in respect of qualities. First, clothes are to make difference of Sex; this hath been observed by all Nations, the habits of men and women have always been divers. And God himself expresly provided for it among the Jews, by commanding that the man should not wear the apparel of the woman, nor the woman of the man. But then secondly, there is also a distinction of qualities to be observed in apparel; God hath placed some in a higher condition then others, and in proportion to their condition, it befits their clothing to be; Gorgeous apparel, our Saviour tells us, is for Kings Courts, Luke 7. 25. Now this end of apparel should also be observed. Men and women should content themselves with that sort of clothing, which agrees to their Sex and condition, not striving to exceed, and equal that of a higher rank, nor yet making it matter of envy, among those of their own estate, vying who shall be finest, but let every man cloth himself in such sober attire, as befits his place and calling, and not think himself disparaged, if another of his neighbours have better then he.

[Too much sparing a fault as well as excess.] 11. And let all remember that clothes are things, which adde no true worth to any, and therefore it is an intollerable vanity to spend any considerable part either of their thoughts, time or wealth upon them, or to value themselves ever the more for them, or despise their poor brethren that want them. But if they desire to adorn themselves, let it be as S. Peter adviseth the women of his time, 1 Pet. 3. 4. In the hidden man of the heart, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. Let them cloth themselves as richly as is possible with all Christian vertues, and that is the raiment that will set them out lovely in Gods eyes, yea, and in mens too, who, unless they be fools and Idiots will more value thee for being good, then fine, and sure one plain Coat thou puttest upon a poor mans back will better become thee, then twenty rich ones thou shalt put upon thine own.