John Ploughman on robes and gowns...
[This is contributed by Pastor Jacob Mentzel. It's been in the queue awaiting publication for many weeks, now, and I've delayed at least partly out of respect for the dead. I've not wanted the Prince of Preachers to get his comeuppance when he's nowhere able to to defend himself. But then there are some things here worth considering. Note particularly his urgency against Rome. We have none of that, now. Also his dig at the effeminacy of it all. He's right on both counts.
Please don't be offended by Spurgeon's vehemence. We need more of it in our day when the Gospel preaching most admired by Reformed men is hedge words, suggestions, and drab tonality in the service of grace patter. - TB]
. . . Forever away with surplices and gowns and all those nursery doll dresses—men should put away childish things... A cross on the back is the sign of a devil in the heart; those who do as Rome does should go to Rome and show their colors. If priests suppose that they get the respect of honest men by their fine ornamental dresses, they are much mistaken, for it is commonly said, "Fine feathers make fine birds," and "An ape is never so like an ape, As when he wears a Popish cape."
Among us dissenters the preacher claims no priestly power, and therefore should never wear a peculiar dress. Let fools wear fools' caps and fools' dresses, but men who make no claim to be fools should not put on fools' clothes. None but a very silly sheep would wear wolf's clothing. It is a singular taste which makes honest men covet the rags of thieves. Besides, where's the good of such finery? Except a duck in pattens, no creature looks more stupid than a dissenting preacher in a gown which is of no manner of use to him. I could laugh till I held my sides when I see our doctors in gowns and bands, puffed out with their silks, and touched up with their little bibs, for they put me so much in mind of our old turkey when his temper is up, and he swells to his biggest. They must be weak folks indeed who want a man to dress like a woman before they can enjoy his sermon, and he who cannot preach without such milliner's tawdry finery may be a man among geese, but he is a goose among men.
- C. H. Spurgeon, John Ploughman's Talks