Monday, June 14, 2010

Clothing ourselves and sanctifying the Lord's Day

John Willison - A Treatise Concerning the Sanctification of, and Meditations on, the Lord's Day

When you are up, hasten to put on your clothes, and spend as little time this day in dressing yourself as possible, that you may have time for secret duties, and retired converse with God. But, since the body must be clothed this day, let your thoughts be well employed in the time you are doing it: Think on sin, that was the cause of your soul's nakedness, and of your body's need of apparel. Remember from whom you have your clothes, to cover, keep warm, and adorn your bodies: even from God, it is his wool and his flax; therefore give thanks to him for your raiment, as well as your food. And though your clothes be not so fine as you would wish, yet mind, "that these of whom the world was not worthy, wandered about in sheeps skins and goats skins." And, if you be not so outwardly splendid as others, seek that decking which will "make you all glorious within." When others are following vain fashions seek ye to be "covered with the robes of Christ s righteousness." And, since you are this day to make a solemn appearance before God your heavenly Father, you must be sure, like Jacob, to come in the garments of your elder Brother, otherwise you cannot expect your Father's blessing. Put no confidence in your own righteousness; for it is no better than rags, or a garment full of holes, the least whereof is sufficient to let in the curse of God upon you. Therefore "put on the Lord Jesus," if you would this day appear before God, and be accepted of him. Take care also, that your bodies this day be gravely and decently appareled, and beware of pride and vanity this way, if ye would have God to own you; the adorning which he recommends, is not that "of plaiting the hair, wearing of gold, and putting on of apparel, but 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," 1 Pet. iii. 3, 4.

Most people on the Sabbath are concerned to adorn their bodies with their best clothes; but, alas ! who among you is careful to attire his soul as he ought on this day, when he is going
to meet the blessed Redeemer of souls, the King of glory?

Vanity and gaudiness of apparel is opposite to the sanctification of the Sabbath. Some dress up themselves this day in such vain attire, and indecent fashions, as tend to draw the eyes of others to gaze upon them, and so their hearts to wander from God and his worship. Think what guilt you hereby draw upon yourselves, of the sins of others as well as your own. The practices of some heathens may put many professed Christians among us to the blush. Valerius Maximus tells of a heathen young man, named Sparina, who was exceeding beautiful ; but observing that many fixed their eyes on him, and fearing the consequences of it, he disfigured his face, lest his beauty should prove a snare to others. May not this heathen condemn such, who are so far from disfiguring themselves lest they should prove a temptation to others, that they disfigure their faces by painting and patching, to seem more beautiful than God has made them, without fearing
whatever the consequences of it may prove. Is not this a shewing a dislike of God s workmanship, and a desire to mend it? Jezebel was infamous for this art, and no sober woman should desire to follow her fashion. A Christian should be so far from being proud or vain of his apparel, that the sight of his garments should humble him, and keep him in mind how he came to need them: Was it not sin that stript man of his glory, covered him with shame, and put him to seek clothes for to hide it ? Would it not be distraction in a malefactor to pride himself in a stigma which he had got for a foul crime? Consider also the garments you are proud of, what they are: The beasts have the same naturally to cover them, and will you be proud of a beast s covering? It was the saying of a heathen to a vain gallant, "Why art thou proud of that which a sheep wore before thee?" Or, what though they be finer than wool? yet their original is no better, but rather worse: What are velvets, silks, and satins, but the excrements of a vile worm? and is that a matter to be vain of? Remember, that ere long God will cause thee to wear another suit thou wilt have small reason to be proud of ; he will even clothe thee with worms and putrefaction. May not the thoughts hereof keep you humble, and teach you to come to the church gravely and decently appareled? especially since you come into the presence of that God who resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.