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Are not divers of the colours made use of in dying, supposed by some who have knowledge herein, to be injurious to the lasting value of the cloths and other things we use? Whether the hearts and desires of too many, even those who are deemed sober people, be not incautiously induced to join with the present customs of having cloths and garments dyed, or such colouring attended to, without considering whether the practice tends to real benefit, sound policy and pure religion, or not? Let us think, whether by such a prevailing practice, many a good piece of cloth, &c. be not really injured, as to their value for wearing, to what might have been the case were they left in a simple state? Whether, or not, it be a proper way of pleading for their usefulness, to say that colours hide dirt? Or, doth any part of real cleanliness consist in hiding dirt in this way? Is the hiding of our faults, and of our transgressions of the law of purity, in any way conducive to cleansing us from sin, so as to be acceptable in the sight of him whose will is, that his people should be altogether holy? If that be not the consequence in things of the highest importance,-how can hiding earthly dirt in our clothes or garments, in any degree remove the filth which tends rather to defile? Whether it can be supposed, on good grounds, that an equal quantity of dirt with the same degree of wearing, would not gather on the coloured garments or cloth, as would on those not coloured? If this be not an unsound way of reasoning, and comparing things, let us ruminate further:-If the value of the expense, and of the injury or loss which is brought on by colouring, were to be laid out in washing our garments, bed-clothing, &c. whether we should not
be in a state of more real cleanliness? And if so, in a situation better resembling that outward and inward holiness, which is to be the happy state of a true christian, who thoroughly passeth the laver, and submits to the washing of regeneration? And doth not colouring cloth or garments resemble the staining of pure innocency?-even as the gratifying of sensual desires, and the propensities of our corrupt natures, tends to feed the lusts and pride of life.-Lastly, whether giving way, too inconsiderately, to indulgences in outward matters and things, according to the degree of impurity when brought into the scale which weighs with a just precision,-hath not more or less a tendency to check, suppress, or wear off those quiet, inward sensations, through which, as in a still small voice, is communicated the pure language of the spirit of Truth to the attentive soul of a true christian ?
Under such considerations as the foregoing, my exercise became weighty, and increased so much that at length I believed the peace of mind which I had been induced to pursue for several years past, would now be lessened, if I should refuse to submit to further singularities, relating to my outward appearance in dress. But the cross seemed very great, even more than I thought I should be able to bear, if I gave up to wear white or uncoloured garments.In this state, I pleaded in secret with my heavenly Father who knew my condition, that I was insufficient for a trial of such an uncommon nature: and I did not see how I could bear the reproach that I should be likely to undergo, by becoming in this simple matter, so singular from my beloved brethren, in general. But my exercised soul seemed not
likely to obtain ease, until I submitted to what I really believed was required of me, in making some alterations in my dress. Yet, as I kept my exercise in a great measure to myself, the Lord was pleased to deal with me as a tender father, and to lay no more on me than I could bear in my weak state. – To get a white hat, and to wear white stockings, was going as far into a change of my dress, as I could clearly see to be right at that time.
After wearing my old hat until it began to look too mean, I went to Philadelphia, intending to get a white one; but returned without letting my exercise be known, by obtaining it. Not attending to the pointings of the inward monitor, the first time, I had to make another trial: then, again, through weakness, my resolution failed me, and I procured * a black hat. This pretty soon brought on me such trouble for my disobedience to Him who waited to be gracious, that I thought I felt the terrors occasioned by guilt both day and night, until I became willing to be accounted a fool, and to confess my fault to the man I got the hat of; which I did, and offered to pay him for the damage done, if he would take it again, and inform me where I could get a white one; which he complied with. My mind was then much humbled, but not low enough yet; for again I returned home without buying a white hat. But I again felt the righteous chastisements of the Lord, under which my supplication was that he might have mercy upon me, a poor weak creature. Then, deeply in the cross, I went to the place I had been informed of, and bought a white hat; with which I returned in the enjoyment of sweet peace of mind. I also procured stockings made of white wool, and
wore them, and also my new hat; and so far I felt easy in mind.
After this I saw there was an inconsistency in my dress, until a further step was taken. My gracious Master dealt kindly with me, and as I kept quiet, and attended to his gift within, he furnished me with strength, and enabled me to give up to what I believed required of me, so that I declined wearing dyed garments. Although my reproach now seemed great, yet the Lord was my hiding-place and my refuge. He knew my heart, and that my change to a white dress was in obedience to what believed to be his will, though much in the cross to my own. Thus I was enabled in sincerity to adopt the language, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth; because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
I likewise believed I saw with clearness, that there was an inconsistency in the use of East India tea; and that it was not the dictates of the blessed Truth, which introduced it here. I considered that our fields and gardens were, or might be, in country parts especially, plentifully stored with herbs and shrubs, that might suit our constitutions better than those herbs and shrubs which grow in so distant, and very different climates; and especially as they come hither to us at so very great expense.
I thought, that at first foreign teas were introduced in some families to honour great folks, because it was deemed genteel to have a dish of tea, &c. And now, alas! how universal is the practice, even amongst those who scarcely know where to get the next meal. So powerful is this custom! and some seem to suppose they cannot do without it twice a day.
I have indeed mourned, I believe in bowels of love, on account of the captivity of those who seem blinded, and bound to prevailing customs. Vanity of vanities, I have been ready to say, while seriously contemplating many popular customs; and is there not almost a flood of vanity in these things? How can any whose eyes are anointed with the pure eyesalve, forbear mourning for the lack of temperance and humility! Even amongst a people whose high profession, if rightly considered, would lead to lowliness of mind, how do we see tea-tables set, conformably to fashion, with curious cups, saucers, tongs of bright metal, &c. &c. Are not needless eating and drinking sometimes encouraged through this custom ? In many instances, is not paleness of face introduced, with weakness of nerves, and a train of other injurious effects, which perhaps might have been escaped through a humble observation of becoming temperance?
I kept to my little gift in the ministry, desiring I might faithfully discharge it, though in a stammering unpolished way; having had little knowledge in the learning of schools. I had often to testify against the spirit of the world, to which I feared too many were wedded. Sometimes, I was ready to compare myself to a simple shrub among many tall cedars, whose appearance seemed comely and topping. – But, fearing lest I should fall away, I was instructed not to look backward nur forward, but to keep my eye single to my inward Guide, who gave counsel superior to all the counsel of man, or the wisdom of this world. I also was favoured to see that the foundation of God standeth sure; and that if I was preserved in building thereon, nothing could harm me.