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apparel, and bearing his testimony against the terous and fluctuating apparel of the world.
In the various papers, which he wrote or gave forth upon this subject, he laid it down as a position, that all ornaments, superfluities, and unreasonable changes in dress, manifested an earthly or worldly spirit. He laid it down again, that such things, being adopted principally for the lust of the eye, were productive of vanity and pride, and that, in proportion as men paid attention to these outward decorations and changes, they suffered some loss in the value and dignity of their minds. He considered also all such decorations and changes, as contrary both to the letter and the spirit of the scriptures. Isaiah, one of the greatest prophets under the law, had severely reproved the daughters of Israel on account of their tinkling ornaments, cauls, round tires, chains, bracelets, rings, and ear-rings. St. Paul also and St. Peter had both of them cautioned the women of their own times, to adorn themselves in modest apparel, and not with broidered hair, or go'd, or pearls, or costly array. And the former had spoken to both sexes indiscriminately not to conform to the world, in which latter expression he evidently included all those customs of the world, of whatsoever nature, that were in any manner injurious to the morality of the minds of those who followed them.
By the publication of these sentiments, George Fox shewed to the world, that it was his opinion, that religion, though it prescribed no particular form of apparel, was not indifferent as to the general subject of dress. These sentiments became the sentiments
of his followers. But the society was coming fast into a new situation. When the members of it first met in union, they consisted of grown up persons; of such, as had had their minds spiritually exercised, and their judgments convinced in religious matters; of such in fact as had been Quakers in spirit, before they had become Quakers by name. All admonitions therefore on the subject of dress were unnecessary for such persons. But many of those, who had joined the society, had brought with them children into it, and from the marriages of others, children were daily springing up. To the latter, in a profligate age, where the fashions were still raging from without, and making an inroad upon the minds and morals of individuals, some cautions were necessary for the preservation of their innocence in such a storm. For these were the reverse of their parents. Young, in point of age, they were Quakers by name, before they could become Quakers in spirit. Robert Barclay therefore, and William Penn, kept alive the subject of dress, which George Fox had been the first to notice in the society. They followed him on his
scriptural ground. They repeated the arguments, that extravagant dress manifested an earthly spirit, and that it was productive of vanity and pride. But they strengthened the case by adding arguments of their own. Among these I may notice, that they considered what were the objects of dress. They reduced these to two, to decency, and comfort, in which latter idea was included protection from the varied inclemencies of the weather. Every thing therefore beyond these they considered as superfluous. Of course all ornaments would become censurable, and all unreasonable changes indefensible, upon such a system.
These discussions, however, on this subject never occasioned the more ancient Quakers to make any alteration in their dress, for they continued as when they had come into the society, to be a plain people. But they occasioned parents to be more vigilant over their children in this respect, and they taught the society to look upon dress, as a subject connected with the christian religion, in any case, where it could become injurious to the morality of the mind. In process of time therefore as the fashions continued to spread, and the youth of the society began to come under their dominion, the Quakers incorporated dress among other subjects of their discipline. Hence no member, after this period, could dress him
self preposterously, or follow the fleeting fashions of the world, without coming under the authority of friendly and wholesome admonition. Hence an annual inquiry began to be made, if parents brought up their children to dress consistently with their christian profession. The society, however, recommended only simplicity and plainness to be attended to on this occasion. They prescribed no standard, no form, no colour, for the apparel of their members. They acknowledged the two great objects of decency and comfort, and left their members to clothe themselves consistently with these, as it was agreeable to their convenience or their disposition.
A new æra commenced from this period. Persons already in the society, continued of course in their ancient dresses: if others had come into it by convincement, who had led gay lives, they laid aside their gaudy garments, and took those that were more plain. And the children of both, from this time, began to be habited from their youth as their parents
But though the Quakers had thus brought apparel under the disciplinary cognizance of the society, yet the dress of individuals was not always alike, nor did it continue always one and the same even with the primitive Quakers. Nor has it continued one and the same with their descendants. For decency
and comfort having been declared to be the true and only objects of dress, such a latitude was given, as to admit of great variety in apparel. Hence if we were to see a groupe of modern Quakers before us, we should probably not find any two of them dressed alike. Health, we all know, may requ r alteration in dress. Simplicity may suggest others. Convenience again may point out others; and yet all these various alterations may be consistent with the objects before specified. And here it may be observed that the society, during its existence for a century and a half, has without doubt, in some degree, imperceptibly followed the world, though not in its fashions, yet in its improvements of cloathing.
It must be obvious again, that some people are of a grave, and that others are of a lively disposition, and that these will probably never dress alike. Other members again, but particularly the rich, have a larger intercourse than the rest of them, or mix more with the world. These again will probably dress a little differently from others, and yet, regarding the two great objects of dress, their cloathing may come within the limits which these allow. Indeed if there be any, whose apparel would be thought exceptionable by the society, these would be found among the rich. Money, in all societies, generally takes the liberty of introducing exceptions. Nothing, however