If all personal ornament is not evil and inconsistent with scripture teaching, it is easily liable to excess and abuse. It is not safe to infer that moral goodness is always connected with apparent sensible beauty, because of the frequent deception practiced by the immoral and inwardly corrupt, who perfume, and paint and deck the outward person with profuse ornamentation and the semblance of beauty. There are many artful people in the world – people full of shrewd arts and cunning devices, who would win your admiration and heart by unfair means. They make it their study to appear beautiful in person and character when they know that they lack both physical and moral beauty. Hence, appearances are often deceitful. The following is an unrepealed law of New Jersey, passed while the state was a British colony: “That all women of whatever age, rank, profession, or degrce, whether virgins, maids or widows, who shall after this act impose upon, seduce, and betray into matrimony any of His Majesty’s subjects by virtue of scents, cosmetics, washes, paints, artificial teeth, false hair or high-heeled shoes, shall incur the penalty of the law now in force against witchcraft and like misdemeanors.” We leave the reader to make his own comment on this law.
How much of art and adornment is good and fitting depends on occasion, place, or circumstance. An elderly lady tries to make herself look younger than she is by various arts-curls and cosmetics, “beautifiers of the complexion.” Is she justified in her efforts at deception? We hesitate not to say that a woman of genuine refinement, to say nothing of religion, will never paint or powder the face that God has given her. False colors and false smiles on the face are always wrong, because intended to deceive. They are too apt to betray a false spirit beneath the guise.
The silly user of cosmetics is self-deceived, too, because they do not add to the real beauty of the human face divine, but cause the bloom of youth to flee the faster, while they are a positive injury to health by stopping up the pores of the skin. Paint an animal or a person all over and they will soon die. The lilies and violets do not need painting, nor does an innocent person. Painted gold will not enrich, nor will a pocketful of spurious coin make a poor man better off. Paint on the face adds no grace, but disgrace. Every one despises a man of two faces. “Haven’t I seen that face somehere?” said he. The reply was: “I think not. I don’t think she put it on more than an hour since.” A modern scoffer pretends to have discovered that the reason why Mother Eve yielded to the serpent was because he told her that apples were good for the complexion. If men waste powder after elections, do not women do the same thing on their complexions?
An attempt is made now-a-days to cover up with paint a great many defects, and not in buildings alone. Did not Christ call the false Pharisees painted sepulchres,” beautiful outwardly, but within full of all uncleannes! The girl in the song says of herself, ” My face is my fortune,” but her face is apt to prove her misfortune when a sensible man discovers that she paints that face. You may depend upon it that she who worships her face in a glass, neglects her heart. Turn away from your looking-glass, ye worshipers of self-of mere :physical beauty, of blue eyes and blushes, of curls and cosmetics, and seek to possess the spirit of beauty within, treasures of loveliness that will last when the glass is vanished and youth is past. Ben Jonson sings of beauty:
“Give me a look, give me a face, That makes simplicity a grace; Robes loosely flowing, hair as free! Such sweet neglect more taketh me, Than all the adulteries of art, That strike mine eyes, but not mine heart.”