While traveling in the State of Maine, not long since, we became acquainted with Sister A, a lady who accepted the truth while at the sanitarium. Her husband was once a wealthy manufacturer; but reverses came, and he was reduced to poverty. Sister A lost her health and went to our sanitarium for treatment. There she received the present
truth, which she adorns by a consistent Christian life. She has four fine, intelligent children, who are thorough health reformers and can tell you why they are so. Such a family can do much good in a community. They exert a strong influence in the right direction.
Many who come to the sanitarium for treatment are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and thus not only are they healed in body, but the darkened chambers of the mind are illuminated with the light of the dear Saviour's love. But how much more good might be accomplished if all connected with that institution were first connected with the God of wisdom and had thus become channels of light to others. The habits and customs of the world, pride of appearance, selfishness, and self-exaltation, too often intrude, and these sins of His professed followers are so offensive to God that He cannot work in power for them or through them.
Those who are unfaithful in temporal affairs will likewise be unfaithful in spiritual things. On the other hand, a neglect of God's claims leads to neglect of the claims of humanity. Unfaithfulness is prevalent in this degenerate age; it is extending in our churches and in our institutions. Its slimy track is seen everywhere. This is one of the condemning sins of this age and will carry thousands and tens of thousands to perdition. If those who profess the truth in our institutions at Battle Creek were living representatives of Christ, a power would go forth from them which would be felt everywhere. Satan well knows this, and he works with all power and deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, that Christ's name may not be magnified in those who profess to be His followers. My heart aches when I see how Jesus is dishonored by the unworthy lives and defective characters of those who might be an ornament and an honor to His cause.
The temptations by which Christ was beset in the wilderness--appetite, love of the world, and presumption--are the three great leading allurements by which men are most frequently overcome. The managers of the sanitarium will often
be tempted to depart from the principles which should govern such an institution. But they should not vary from the right course to gratify the inclinations or minister to the depraved appetites of wealthy patients or friends. The influence of such a course is only evil. Deviations from the teachings given in lectures or through the press have a most unfavorable effect upon the influence and morals of the institution, and will, to a great extent, counteract all efforts to instruct and reform the victims of depraved appetites and passions, and to lead them to Christ, the only safe refuge.
The evil will not end here. The influence affects not only the patients, but the workers as well. When the barriers are once broken down, step after step is taken in the wrong direction. Satan presents flattering worldly prospects to those who will depart from principle and sacrifice integrity and Christian honor to gain the approbation of the ungodly. His efforts are too often successful. He gains the victory where he should meet with repulse and defeat.
Christ resisted Satan in our behalf. We have the example of our Saviour to strengthen our weak purposes and resolves; but, notwithstanding this, some will fall by Satan's temptations, and they will not fall alone. Every soul that fails to obtain the victory carries others down through his influence. Those who fail to connect with God, and to receive wisdom and grace to refine and elevate their own lives, will be judged for the good they might have done but failed to perform because they were content with earthliness of mind and friendship with the unsanctified.
All heaven is interested in the salvation of man and is ready to pour upon him her beneficent gifts if he will comply with the conditions Christ has made: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean."
Those who bear the responsibility at the sanitarium should be exceedingly guarded that the amusements shall not be of a character to lower the standard of Christianity, bringing this institution down upon a level with others and weakening the
power of true godliness in the minds of those who are connected with it. Worldly or theatrical entertainments are not essential for the prosperity of the sanitarium or for the health of the patients. The more they have of this kind of amusements, the less will they be pleased unless something of the kind shall be continually carried on. The mind is in a fever of unrest for something new and exciting, the very thing it ought not to have. And if these amusements are once allowed, they are expected again, and the patients lose their relish for any simple arrangement to occupy the time. But repose, rather than excitement, is what many of the patients need.
As soon as these entertainments are introduced, the objections to theatergoing are removed from many minds, and the plea that moral and high-toned scenes are to be acted at the theater breaks down the last barrier. Those who would permit this class of amusements at the sanitarium would better be seeking wisdom from God to lead these poor, hungry, thirsting souls to the Fountain of joy, and peace, and happiness.
When there has been a departure from the right path, it is difficult to return. Barriers have been removed, safeguards broken down. One step in the wrong direction prepares the way for another. A single glass of wine may open the door of temptation which will lead to habits of drunkenness. A single vindictive feeling indulged may open the way to a train of feelings which will end in murder. The least deviation from right and principle will lead to separation from God and may end in apostasy. What we do once, we more readily and naturally do again; and to go forward in a certain path, be it right or wrong, is more easy than to start. It takes less time and labor to corrupt our ways before God than to engraft upon the character habits of righteousness and truth. Whatever a man becomes accustomed to, be its influence good or evil, he finds it difficult to abandon.
The managers of the sanitarium may as well conclude at once that they will never be able to satisfy that class of minds that can find happiness only in something new and exciting.
To many persons this has been the intellectual diet during their lifetime; there are mental as well as physical dyspeptics. Many are suffering from maladies of the soul far more than from diseases of the body, and they will find no relief until they shall come to Christ, the wellspring of life. Complaints of weariness, loneliness, and dissatisfaction will then cease. Satisfying joys will give vigor to the mind and health and vital energy to the body.
If physicians and workers flatter themselves that they are to find a panacea for the varied ills of their patients by supplying them with a round of amusements similar to those which have been the curse of their lives, they will be disappointed. Let not these entertainments be placed in the position which the living Fountain should occupy. The hungry, thirsty soul will continue to hunger and thirst as long as it partakes of these unsatisfying pleasures. But those who drink of the living water will thirst no more for frivolous, sensual, exciting amusements. The ennobling principles of religion will strengthen the mental powers and will destroy a taste for these gratifications.
The burden of sin, with its unrest and unsatisfied desires, lies at the very foundation of a large share of the maladies the sinner suffers. Christ is the mighty healer of the sin-sick soul. These poor afflicted ones need to have a clearer knowledge of Him whom to know aright is life eternal. They need to be patiently and kindly yet earnestly taught how to throw open the windows of the soul and let the sunlight of God's love come in to illuminate the darkened chambers of the mind. The most exalted spiritual truths may be brought home to the heart by the things of nature. The birds of the air, the flowers of the field in their glowing beauty, the springing grain, the fruitful branches of the vine, the trees putting forth their tender buds, the glorious sunset, the crimson clouds predicting a fair morrow, the recurring seasons--all these may teach us precious lessons of trust and faith. The imagination has here a fruitful field in which to range. The
intelligent mind may contemplate with the greatest satisfaction those lessons of divine truth which the world's Redeemer has associated with the things of nature.
Christ sharply reproved the men of His time because they had not learned from nature the spiritual lessons which they might have learned. All things, animate and inanimate, express to man the knowledge of God. The same divine mind that is working upon the things of nature is speaking to the minds and hearts of men, and creating an inexpressible craving for something they have not. The things of the world cannot satisfy their longing. To all these thirsting souls the divine message is addressed: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
The Spirit of God is continually impressing the minds of men to seek for those things which alone will give peace and rest--the higher, holier joys of heaven. Christ, the Lord of life and glory, gave His life to redeem man from Satan's power. Our Saviour is constantly at work, through influences seen and unseen, to attract the minds of men from the unsatisfying pleasures of this life to the priceless treasure which may be theirs in the immortal future.
God would have His people, in words and in deportment, declare to the world that no earthly attractions or worldly possessions are of sufficient value to compensate for the loss of the heavenly inheritance. Those who are truly children of the light and of the day will not be vain or frivolous in conversation, in dress, or in deportment, but sober, contemplative, constantly exerting an influence to attract souls to the Redeemer. The love of Christ, reflected from the cross, is pleading in behalf of the sinner, drawing him by cords of infinite love to the peace and happiness found in our Saviour. God enjoins upon all His followers to bear a living testimony in unmistakable language by their conduct, their dress and conversation, in all the pursuits of life, that the power of true
godliness is profitable to all in this life and in the life to come; that this alone can satisfy the soul of the receiver.
The glory of God is displayed in His handiwork. Here are mysteries that the mind will become strong in searching out. Minds that have been amused and abused by reading fiction may in nature have an open book, and read truth in the works of God around them. All may find themes for study in the simple leaf of the forest tree, the spires of grass covering the earth with their green velvet carpet, the plants and flowers, the stately trees of the forest, the lofty mountains, the granite rocks, the restless ocean, the precious gems of light studding the heavens to make the night beautiful, the exhaustless riches of the sunlight, the solemn glories of the moon, the winter's cold, the summer's heat, the changing, recurring seasons, in perfect order and harmony, controlled by infinite power; here are subjects which call for deep thought, for the stretch of the imagination.
If the frivolous and pleasure-seeking will allow their minds to dwell upon the real and true, the heart cannot but be filled with reverence, and they will adore the God of nature. The contemplation and study of God's character as revealed in His created works will open a field of thought that will draw the mind away from low, debasing, enervating amusements. The knowledge of God's works and ways we can only begin to obtain in this world; the study will be continued throughout eternity. God has provided for man subjects of thought which will bring into activity every faculty of the mind. We may read the character of the Creator in the heavens above and the earth beneath, filling the heart with gratitude and thanksgiving. Every nerve and sense will respond to the expressions of God's love in His marvelous works. Satan invents earthly allurements, that the carnal mind may be placed on those things which cannot elevate and refine and ennoble; its powers are thus dwarfed and crippled, and men and women who might attain to perfection of character become narrow, weak, and defective.
God designed that the sanitarium which He had established should stand forth as a beacon of light, of warning and reproof. He would prove to the world that an institution conducted on religious principles as an asylum for the sick could be sustained without sacrificing its peculiar, holy character; that it could be kept free from the objectionable features that are found in other institutions of the kind. It was to be an instrumentality in His hand to bring about great reforms. Wrong habits of life should be corrected, the morals elevated, the tastes changed, the dress reformed.
Disease of every type is brought upon the body through the unhealthful fashionable style of dress, and the fact should be made prominent that a reform must take place before treatment will effect a cure. The perverted appetite has been pampered until disease has been produced as the sure result. The crippled, dwarfed faculties and organs cannot be strengthened and invigorated without decided reforms. And if those connected with the sanitarium are not in every respect correct representatives of the truths of health reform, decided reformation must make them what they should be, or they must be separated from the institution.
The minds of many take so low a level that God cannot work for them or with them. The current of thought must be changed, the moral sensibilities must be aroused to feel the claims of God. The sum and substance of true religion is to own and continually acknowledge, by words, by dress, by deportment, our relationship to God. Humility should take the place of pride; sobriety, of levity; and devotion, of irreligion and careless indifference.
Those who have had many years of experience in the cause of God should, above all others, put to the highest use the talents entrusted them by the Master. But the example of some has been too much on the side of conformity to the world, rather than of maintaining the distinct and separate character of God's peculiar people. They have had an influence to indulge rather than deny the appetite and the inclination to dress according to the world's standard. This is all
in opposition to the work which God and angels are seeking to do for us as a people to bring out, to separate, to distinguish us from the world. We should sanctify ourselves as a people and seek strength from God to meet the demands of this time. When iniquity prevails in the world, God's people should seek to be more closely connected with heaven. The tide of moral evil comes upon us with such power that we shall lose our balance and be swept away with the current unless our feet stand firmly upon the Rock Christ Jesus.
The prosperity of the sanitarium is not dependent alone upon the intelligence and knowledge of its physicians, but upon the favor of God. If it is conducted in a manner that God can bless it will be highly successful and will stand in advance of any other institution of the kind in the world. Great light, great knowledge, and superior privileges have been given. And in accordance with the light which has been received, but has not been improved and therefore is not shining forth upon others, will be the condemnation.
The minds of some are being turned into the channel of unbelief. These persons think they see reason to doubt the word and the work of God, because the course of some professed Christians looks questionable to them. But does this move the foundation? We are not to make the course of others the basis of our faith. We are to imitate Christ, the perfect Pattern. If any allow their hold on Him to be weakened because men err, because defects are seen in the characters of those who profess the truth, they will ever be on sliding sand. Their eyes must be directed to the Author and Finisher of their faith; they must strengthen their souls with the assurance of the great apostle: "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." God cannot be deceived. He reads character correctly. He weighs motives. Nothing escapes His all-seeing eye; the thoughts, the intents and purposes of the hearts--all are discerned by Him.
There is no excuse for doubt or skepticism. God has made ample provision to establish the faith of all men, if they will
decide from the weight of evidence. But if they wait to have every seeming objection removed before they believe, they will never be settled, rooted, and grounded in the truth. God will never remove all seeming difficulties from our path. Those who wish to doubt may find opportunity; those who wish to believe will find plenty of evidence upon which to base their faith. The position of some is unexplainable, even to themselves. They are drifting without an anchor, beating about in the fog of uncertainty. Satan soon seizes the helm and carries their frail bark wherever he pleases. They become subject to his will. Had these minds not listened to Satan, they would not have been deceived by his sophistry; had they been balanced on the side of God they would not have become confused and bewildered.
God and angels are watching with intense interest the development of character and are weighing moral worth. Those who withstand Satan's devices will come forth as gold tried in the fire. Those who are swept off their feet by the waves of temptation, imagine, as did Eve, that they are becoming wonderfully wise, outgrowing their ignorance and narrow conscientiousness; but, like her, they will find themselves sadly deceived. They have been chasing shadows, exchanging heavenly wisdom for frail human judgment. A little knowledge has made them self-conceited. A more deep and thorough knowledge of themselves and of God would make them again sane and sensible men, and would balance them on the side of truth, of angels, and of God.
The word of God will judge every one of us at the last great day. Young men talk about science and are wise above that which is written; they seek to explain the ways and work of God to meet their finite comprehension; but it is all a miserable failure. True science and Inspiration are in perfect harmony. False science is a something independent of God. It is pretentious ignorance. This deceptive power has captivated and enslaved the minds of many, and they have chosen darkness rather than light. They have taken their position on the
side of unbelief, as though it were a virtue and the sign of a great mind to doubt, when it is the sign of a mind too weak and narrow to perceive God in His created works. They could not fathom the mystery of His providence should they study with all their power for a lifetime. And because the works of God cannot be explained by finite minds, Satan brings his sophistry to bear upon them and entangles them in the meshes of unbelief. If these doubting ones will come into close connection with God, He will make His purposes clear to their understanding.
Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. The carnal mind cannot comprehend these mysteries. If questioners and doubters continue to follow the great deceiver, the impressions and convictions of God's Spirit will grow less and less, the promptings of Satan more frequent, until the mind will fully submit to his control. Then that which appears to these bewildered minds as foolishness will be the power of God, and that which God regards as foolishness will be to them the strength of wisdom.
One of the great evils which has attended the quest of knowledge, the investigations of science, is that those who engage in these researches too often lose sight of the divine character of pure and unadulterated religion. The worldly-wise have attempted to explain upon scientific principles the influence of the Spirit of God upon the heart. The least advance in this direction will lead the soul into the mazes of skepticism. The religion of the Bible is simply the mystery of godliness; no human mind can fully understand it, and it is utterly incomprehensible to the unregenerate heart.
The Son of God compared the operations of the Holy Spirit to the wind, which "bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth." Again, we read in the Sacred Record that the world's Redeemer rejoiced in spirit and said: "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."
The Saviour rejoiced that the plan of salvation is such that those who are wise in their own estimation, who are puffed up by the teachings of vain philosophy, cannot see the beauty, power, and hidden mystery of the gospel. But to all those who are of a humble heart, who have a teachable, honest, childlike desire to know and do the will of their heavenly Father, His word is revealed as the power of God to their salvation. The operation of the Spirit of God is foolishness to the unrenewed man. The apostle Paul says: "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
The success of the sanitarium depends upon its maintaining the simplicity of godliness and shunning the world's follies in eating, drinking, dressing, and amusements. It must be reformatory in all its principles. Let nothing be invented to satisfy the wants of the soul and take the room and time which Christ and His service demand; for this will destroy the power of the institution as God's instrumentality to convert poor, sin-sick souls, who, ignorant of the way of life and peace, have sought for happiness in pride and vain folly.
"Standing by a purpose true," should be the position of all connected with the sanitarium. While none should urge our faith upon the patients or engage in religious controversy with them, our papers and publications, carefully selected, should be in sight almost everywhere. The religious element must predominate. This has been and ever will be the power of that institution. Let not our health asylum be perverted to the service of worldliness and fashion. There are hygienic institutions enough in our land that are more like an accommodating hotel than a place where the sick and suffering can obtain relief for their bodily infirmities and the sin-sick soul can find that peace and rest in Jesus to be found nowhere else.
Let religious principles be made prominent and kept so; let pride and popularity be discarded; let simplicity and plainness, kindness and faithfulness, be seen everywhere; then the sanitarium will be just what God intended it should be; then the Lord will favor it.