The large gatherings of our people afford an excellent opportunity of illustrating the principles of health reform. Some years ago at these gatherings much was said in regard to health reform and the benefits of a vegetarian diet; but at the same time flesh meats were furnished at the tables in the dining tent, and various unhealthful articles of food were sold at the provision stand. Faith without work is dead; and the instruction upon health reform, denied by practice, did not make the deepest impression. At later camp meetings those in charge have educated by practice as well as by precept. No meat has been furnished at the dining tent, but fruits, grains, and vegetables have been supplied in abundance. As visitors ask questions in regard to the absence of meat, the reason is plainly stated, that flesh is not the most healthful food.
As we near the close of time we must rise higher and still higher upon the question of health reform and Christian temperance, presenting it in a more positive and decided manner. We must strive continually to educate the people, not only by our words, but by our practice. Precept and practice combined have a telling influence.
At the camp meeting, instruction on health topics should be given to the people. At our meetings in Australia, lectures on health subjects were given daily, and a deep interest was aroused. A tent for the use of physicians and nurses was on the ground; medical advice was given freely, and was sought by many. Thousands of people attended the lectures, and at the close of the camp meeting the people were not satisfied to let the matter drop with what they had already learned. In several cities where camp meetings were held, some of the leading citizens urged that a branch sanitarium be established, promising their co-operation. In several cities the work has been started, with good success. A health institution, rightly conducted, gives character to our work in new fields. And not only is it a benefit to the people, but the workers connected with it can be a help to the laborers in evangelistic lines.
In every city where we have a church there is need of a place where treatment can be given. Among the homes of our church members there are few that afford room and facilities for the proper care of the sick. A place should be provided where treatment may be given for common ailments. The building might be inelegant and even rude, but it should be furnished with facilities for giving simple treatments. These, skillfully employed, would prove a blessing not only to our people, but to their neighbors, and might be the means of calling the attention of many to health principles.
It is the Lord's purpose that in every part of our world health institutions shall be established as a branch of the gospel work. These institutions are to be His agencies for reaching a class whom nothing else will reach. They need not be large buildings, but should be so arranged that effective work may be done.
Beginnings might be made in every prominent place where camp meetings are held. Make small beginnings, and enlarge as circumstances may demand. Count the cost of every undertaking, that you may be sure of being able to finish. Draw as little as possible from the treasury. Men of faith and financial ability are needed to plan economically. Our sanitariums must be erected with a limited outlay of means. Buildings in which to begin the work can often be secured at low cost.