Volume. XXXV, No. 43
Sunday, 25 April 2021

From the Pastor’s Heart: Dress? Code? (1)

There are some unexpected subjects that the Bible teaches us about.  One example is the subject of our dress code.  It was a pleasant surprise for me to find an excellent message delivered by a well-known preacher, William Perkins (1558-1602), on this very topic in the book, Cases of Conscience.  Though the preacher died more than 400 years ago, what he said about the subject is still relevant.  It will be delivered as four consecutive articles.

What is the right, lawful, and holy use of apparel?

Answer: In the use of apparel, two things are to be considered: the preparation of it, when it is to be worn; and the wearing, when it is prepared.


SECTION I: In the right preparation of our apparel, two rules are propounded in Scripture, for our direction.

1st Rule: Our care for apparel, and the ornaments of our bodies, must be very moderate.  This our Savior Christ teacheth at large, Matt 6:28-31, where commanding men to take no thought for apparel, he forbids not all care, but the curious & immoderate care.  The reason is added, because they which walk in their callings, and do the duty thereof with diligence, shall have by God’s blessing, all things needful, provided and prepared for them.  He that dwells in a borrowed house, will not fall a trimming of it, and suffer his own hard by, to become ruinous.  In like manner, our body is the house of our soul, borrowed of God, and by him lent unto us for a time, and we are but his tenants at-will: for we must depart out of it, at his commandment.  And therefore, our greatest care must be employed upon our souls; and the other which concerneth the adorning of our body, must be but moderate.  Again, God in his providence, clotheth the very herbs of the field, therefore much more is he careful for man. And Paul saith, If we have food and raiment, we must therewith be content, I Tim.6:8, that is, if we have food, and raiment necessary for us and ours, we ought to quiet our hearts, and have no further care for our apparel.


It will be said, How shall we know what is necessary?

Answer: A thing is necessary two ways: first, in respect of nature, for the preservation of life and health: secondly, in respect of place, calling, and condition, for the upholding and maintenance thereof.  Now we call that Necessary raiment, which is necessary both these ways. For example: that apparel is necessary for Scholar, the Tradesman, the Countryman, the Gentleman; which serveth not only to defend their bodies from cold, but which belongs also to the place, degree, calling, and condition of them all.


If it be asked, Who shall determine and judge, what is necessary to these persons and purposes?  I answer: Vain and curious persons are not to be competent judges hereof; but in these things, we must regard the judgement and example of modest, grave, and frugal persons in every order and estate; who upon experience and knowledge, are best able to determine, what is necessary, and what is not.  Again, though we must not seek for more than necessary apparel; yet if God of his goodness, give us ability to have and maintain more, we must thankfully receive it, and become good stewards of the same, for the good of men.  But some will say; It seems, that we ought not to keep abundance, when God gives it, because we may not have above one coat.  For John gives this rule, Luke 3:11, Let him that hath two coats give to him that hath none.  Answer: John’s meaning must needs be this: He that hath not only necessary raiments, but more than necessary, he must give of his abundance to them that want.  For otherwise, his rule should not agree with Christ’s own practice, who had himself two coats, an inner, and an upper garment, which he kept and wore.  Nor with S. Pauls, who had both a cloak and a coat.

This rule discovers the common sinful practice of many men in the World. The greater sort of men are exceedingly careful, by all means and ways to follow the fashion, and to take up every newfangled attire, whensoever it comes abroad.  A course flat contrary to Christ’s doctrine, which commandeth an honest care, only for necessary ornaments, and condemneth the contrary, and that upon special reason; because this inordinate and affected care, is commonly a great pick-purse.  It fills men’s heads, and hearts with vain and foolish thoughts: it makes them wastefully to abuse the blessings of God given unto them, whereby they are disabled, from helping others that are in need.  Whereas the first and principal care, ought to be for the adorning of the soul with grace, and putting on the Lord Jesus: and this is it, which will yield more comfort to the mind and conscience, than any external formality to the outward state of man.


2nd Rule: All apparel must be fitted to the body, in a comely and decent manner; such as becometh holiness, Tit 2:3.  If it be here demanded, How we should thus frame and fashion our attire?  The answer is, by observing the rules of decency and comeliness, which are in number seven.


First, that it be according to the sex: for men must prepare apparel for men, women for women.  This rule is not ceremonial, but grounded upon the law of nature, and common honesty, Deut. 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to unto man, neither shall a man put on womans raiment; for all that do so, are abomination to the Lord thy God.

Secondly, our apparel must be made according to our office; that is, such as may be fit and convenient for us, in respect of our calling; that it may not hinder or disable us, in the performance of the duties thereof.  Whereupon comes justly to be condemned the kind of apparel (specially of women) that is used in this age.  For it makes them like to an image in a frame, set bolt upright; whereby it comes to pass, that they cannot go well, and with ease or conveniency, about any good business, but must of necessity either sit, or stand still.

Thirdly, our attire must be according to our ability, and maintenance, either in lands, or in goods and substance.  We must (as the common proverb is) shape our coat according to our cloth, that so we may not be in want, but have sufficient wherewith to maintain our families, and to release the poor.  Which also serveth to condemn the sin of many persons, who lay upon their backs, whatsoever they can scrape and gather together; in the meanwhile, neglecting the honest maintenance of their own estate for time to come, and the necessary relief of them that are in distress and want.

Fourthly, it must be answerable to our estate and dignity, for distinction of order and degree in the societies of men. This use of attire stands by the very ordinance of God; who, as he hath not sorted all men to all places, so he will have men to fit themselves and their attire, to the quality of their proper places, to put a difference between themselves and others.  Thus we read, that Joseph being by Pharaoh set over all the land of Egypt, was arrayed with garments of fine linen, and had a golden chain put upon his neck, to put a difference between him and the inferior Princes of Pharaoh, Gen 41:42.  Thus in ancient times, the captains and chief of the armies did wear fine garments of diverse colors of needlework, to distinguish them from others, Judg. 5:30.  [We may find some cultural and historical differences from William Perkins’ days during the late 16th and early 17th centuries].  Thus in king’s courts they went in soft raiment, and the poor people in baser and rougher attire, Matt. 11:8. By which it appears, that many in these days do greatly offend. For men keep not themselves within their own order: but the Artificer commonly goes clad like the Yeoman: the Yeoman like the Gentleman: the Gentleman as the Nobleman: the Nobleman as the Prince: which bringeth great confusion….  To be continued….

William Perkins


More Lively Hope



  • Verse memorisation will restart next Lord’s day. Please note that pre-service singspiration will now begin at 40am, followed by verse memorisation at 9.50am.
  • Integrated Fellowship Hike will be on Monday, 26th April, from Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty. 
  • Please be seated in your designated area in the Sanctuary and as directed by the Ushers & Welcomers.
  • Mother’s Day Brunch, Sat, 8 May @ Eastern Garden Chinese Restaurant. Cost: $10 for mothers & free for senior ladies (70 & above). Please register if coming.



  • Healing: Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore) & others who are unwell.
  • COVID-19 pandemic & all affected.
  • Missions: Rev & Mrs Johnson George.
  • Journey mercies: Elder Colin & Sis Grace Gan (Ceduna) & all others who are travelling.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence for the past week.
  • Church activities in the past week.
  • Improving COVID-19
  • Journey mercies: all who have travelled.




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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041