Cleanliness is necessary for health. Dirt is the mother of disease. A person who never washes, who wears dirty clothes, and keeps his house dirty, will soon suffer in health. If the skin is not kept clean by regular washing and bathing, the blood will become impure, and bad health will be the result. And as the germs which cause disease breed in the dirt, dirty people are sure to get dangerous, and perhaps fatal, diseases, sooner or later. If we want to keep well, we must keep our body, our clothes, and our house, very clean.
Cleanliness is necessary, also, to self-respect, and for keeping the respect of others. A man who does not wash and who wears soiled clothes, cannot feel very proud of himself: and certainly, other people cannot respect him very much. In fact, it is insulting to decent people to expect them to be friendly with a man whose hands and face and hair are grimy, and whose old clothes smell of dirt. Even if he is learned and clever, we shall despise him for his dirty habits.
And yet there have been times when some people thought that dirtiness was a sign of holiness: and the more filthy and evil-smelling a saint was, the more saintly they thought him to be. What a strange idea! To think that the more dirty a man was the nearer he was to the pure and holy God! They forgot that “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
So much for the cleanliness of the body, but there is also the cleanliness of mind and soul, and this is even more important. If we must keep our bodies clean, still more we must keep our minds and hearts clean. Sin is dirt. Goodness is cleanliness. So when the prophet was sorry for his sin, he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God”; “Cleanse Thou me from secret faults”; “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow”. We must not allow dirty thoughts in our minds, nor foul sins in our hearts. We must be clean within, as well as without.