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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

Basil reduced the objects of cloathing to two


The

first outward fact that presents itself to us, is the fact of the origin of the Quaker-dress, if the early Quakers, when they met in religious union, had met to deliberate and fix upon a form or standard of apparel for the society, in vain could any person have expected to repel this charge. But no such standard was ever fixed. The dress of the Quakers has descended from father to son in the way that has been described. There is reason therefore to suppose, that the Quakers as a religious body, have deviated less than others front the primitive habits of their ancestors, rather from a fear of the effects of unreasonable changes of dress upon the mind, than from an attachment to lifeless forms.

The second outward fact, which may be resorted to as furnishing a ground for reasonable conjecture, is the doctrine of the Quakers upon this subject. The Quakers profess to follow christianity in all cases, where its doctrines can be clearly ascertained. I shall state therefore what christianity says upon this point. I shall shew that what Quakerism says is in unison with it. And I shall explain more at large the principle, that has given birth to the discipline of the Quakers relative to their dress.

Had christianity approved of the make or colour of any particular garment, it would have approved of those of its founder and of his apostles. We do not, however, know, what any of these illustrious personages wore. They

were probably dressed in the habits of Judean peasants, and not with any marked difference from those of the same rank in life. And that they were dressed plainly, we have every reason to believe, from the censures, which some of them passed on the superfluities of apparel. But christianity has no where recorded these habits as a pattern, nor has it prescribed to any man any form or colour for his clothes.

But christianity, though it no where places religion in particular forms, is yet not indifferent on the general subject of dress. For in the first place it discards all ornaments, as appears by the testimonies of St. Paul and St. Peter before quoted, and this it does evidently on the ground of morality, lest these, by puffing up the creature, should be made to give birth to the censurable passions of vanity and lust. In the second place it forbids all unreasonable changes on the plea of conformity with the fashions of the world: and it sets its face against these also upon moral grounds; because the following of the fashions of the world begets a worldly spirit, and because, in proportion as men indulge this spirit, they are found to follow the loose and changeable morality of the world, instead of the strict and steady morality of the gospel.

That the early christians understood these to be the doctrines of christianity, there can be no doubt. The Presbyters and the Asceticks, I believe, changed the Palluim for the Toga in the infancy of the christian world; but all other christians were left undistinguished by their dress. These were generally clad in the sober manner of their own times. They observed a medium between costliness and sordidness. That they had no particular form for their dress beyond that of other grave people, we team from Justin Martyr. "They affected nothing fantastic, says he, but, living among Greeks and barbarians, they followed the customs of the country, and in clothes, and in diet, and in all other affairs of outward life, they shewed the excellent and admirable constitution of their discipline and conversation." That they discarded superfluities and ornaments we may collect from various authors of those times. Basil reduced the objects of cloathing to two, namely, "Honesty and necessity," that is, to decency and protection. Tertullian laid it down as a doctrine that a Christian should not only be chaste, but that he should appear so outwardly. "The garments which we should wear, says Clemens of Alexandria, should be modest and frugal, and not wrought of divers colours, but plain." Crysastum commends Olympias, a lady of birth and fortune, for having in her garment nothing that was wrought or gaudy. Jerome praises Paula, another lady of quality, for the same reason. We find also that an unreasonable change of cloathing, or a change to please the eye of the world, was held improper. Cyril says, "we should not strive for variety, having clothes for home, and others for ostentation abroad." In short the ancient fathers frequently complained of the abuse of apparel in the ways described.


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