Obedience to physical law
Since the laws of nature are the laws of God, it is plainly our duty to give these laws careful study. We should study their requirements in regard to our own bodies and conform to them. Ignorance in these things is sin.
"Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?" "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:15, 19, 20. Our bodies are Christ's purchased property, and we are not at liberty to do with them as we please. Man has done this. He has treated his body as if its laws had no penalty. Through perverted appetite its organs and powers have become enfeebled, diseased, and crippled. And these results which Satan has brought about by his own specious temptations he uses to taunt God with. He presents before God the human body that Christ has purchased as His property, and what an unsightly representation of his Maker man is! Because man has sinned against his body and has corrupted his ways, God is dishonored.
When men and women are truly converted, they will conscientiously regard the laws of life that God has established in their being, thus seeking to avoid physical, mental, and moral feebleness. Obedience to these laws must be made a matter of personal duty. We ourselves must suffer the ills of violated law. We must answer to God for our habits and practices. Therefore the question for us is not, "What will the world say?" but, "How shall I, claiming to be a Christian, treat the habitation God has given me? Shall I work for my highest temporal and spiritual good by keeping my body as a temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or shall I sacrifice myself to the world's ideas and practices?"
Healthful living must be made a family matter. Parents should awake to their God-given responsibilities. Let them study the principles of health reform and teach their children that the path of self-denial is the only path of safety. The mass of the inhabitants of the world by their disregard of physical law are destroying their power of self-control and unfitting themselves to appreciate eternal realities. Willingly ignorant of their own structure, they lead their children in the path of self-indulgence, thus preparing the way for them to suffer the penalty of the transgression of nature's laws. This is not taking a wise interest in the welfare of their families.
The Church and Health Reform
There is a message regarding health reform to be borne in every church. There is a work to be done in every school. Neither principal nor teachers should be entrusted with the education of the youth until they have a practical knowledge of this subject. Some have felt at liberty to criticize and question and find fault with health reform principles of which they knew little by experience. They should stand shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, with those who are working in right lines.
The subject of health reform has been presented in the churches; but the light has not been heartily received. The selfish, health-destroying indulgences of men and women have counteracted the influence of the message that is to prepare a people for the great day of God. If the churches expect strength, they must live the truth which God has given them. If the members of our churches disregard the light on this subject, they will reap the sure result in both spiritual and physical degeneracy. And the influence of these older church members will leaven those newly come to the faith. The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts? Would they not make of no effect the God-given message which His people are to bear?
Let all examine their own practices to see if they are not indulging in that which is a positive injury to them. Let them dispense with every unhealthful gratification in eating and drinking. Some go to distant countries to seek a better climate; but wherever they may be, the stomach creates for them a malarious atmosphere. They bring upon themselves suffering that no one can alleviate. Let them bring their daily practice into harmony with nature's laws; and by doing as well as believing, an atmosphere may be created about both soul and body that will be a savor of life unto life.
Brethren, we are far behind. Many of the things which the church should do in order to be a living church are not done. Through the indulgence of perverted appetite many place themselves in such a condition of health that there is a constant warring against the soul's highest interests. The truth, though presented in clear lines, is not accepted. I wish to set this matter before every member of our churches. Our habits must be brought into conformity to the will of God. We are assured, "It is God which worketh in you," but man must do his part in controlling appetite and passion. The religious life requires the action of mind and heart in harmony with the divine forces. No man can of himself work out his own salvation, and God cannot do this work for him without his co-operation. But when man works earnestly, God works with him, giving him power to become a son of God.
When persons are spoken to on the subject of health, they often say: "We know a great deal better than we do." They do not realize that they are accountable for every ray of light in regard to their physical well-being, and that their every habit is open to the inspection of God. Physical life is not to be treated in a haphazard manner. Every organ, every fiber of the being, is to be sacredly guarded from harmful practices.
Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number whom the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world. These are His peculiar people, zealous of good works. God has spoken in His word. In the case of Daniel and his three companions there are sermons upon health reform. God has spoken in the history of the children of Israel, from whom for their good He sought to withhold a flesh diet. He fed them with bread from heaven; "man did eat angel's food." But they encouraged their earthly appetite; and the more they centered their thoughts upon the fleshpots of Egypt, the more they hated the food which God gave them to keep them in health physically, mentally, and morally. They longed for the fleshpots, and in this they did just as many in our own time have done.
Many are suffering, and many are going into the grave, because of the indulgence of appetite. They eat what suits their perverted taste, thus weakening the digestive organs and injuring their power to assimilate the food that is to sustain life. This brings on acute disease, and too often death follows. The delicate organism of the body is worn out by the suicidal practices of those who ought to know better.
The churches should be stanch and true to the light which God has given. Each member should work intelligently to put away from his life practice every perverted appetite.
Extremes in Diet
I know that many of our brethren are in heart and practice opposed to health reform. I advocate no extremes. But as I have been looking over my manuscripts I have seen the decided testimonies borne and the warnings of dangers that come to our people through imitating the customs and practices of the world in self-indulgence, gratification of appetite, and pride of apparel. My heart is sick and sad over the existing state of things. Some say that some of our brethren have pressed these questions too strongly. But because some may have acted indiscreetly in pressing their sentiments concerning health reform on all occasions, will any dare to keep back the truth on this subject? The people of the world are generally far in the opposite extreme of indulgence and intemperance in eating and drinking; and, as the result, lustful practices abound.
There are many now under the shadow of death who have prepared to do a work for the Master, but who have not felt that a sacred obligation rested upon them to observe the laws of health. The laws of the physical system are indeed the laws of God, but this fact seems to have been forgotten. Some have limited themselves to a diet that cannot sustain them in health. They have not provided nourishing food to take the place of injurious articles; and they have not considered that tact and ingenuity must be exercised in preparing food in the most healthful manner. The system must be properly nourished in order to perform its work. It is contrary to health reform, after cutting off the great variety of unwholesome dishes, to go to the opposite extreme, reducing the quantity and quality of the food to a low standard. Instead of health reform this is health deform.
The apostle Paul writes: "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
There are many in the world who indulge pernicious habits. Appetite is the law that governs them, and because of their wrong habits the moral sense is clouded and the power to discern sacred things is to a great extent destroyed. But it is necessary for Christians to be strictly temperate. They should place their standard high. Temperance in eating, drinking, and dressing is essential. Principle should rule instead of appetite or fancy. Those who eat too much or whose food is of an objectionable quality are easily led into dissipation and into other "foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." 1 Timothy 6:9. The "laborers together with God" should use every jot of their influence to encourage the spread of true temperance principles.
It means much to be true to God. He has claims upon all who are engaged in His service. He desires that mind and body be preserved in the best condition of health, every power and endowment under the divine control, and as vigorous as careful, strictly temperate habits can make them. We are under obligation to God to make an unreserved consecration of ourselves to Him, body and soul, with all the faculties appreciated as His entrusted gifts, to be employed in His service. All our energies and capabilities are to be constantly strengthened and improved during this probationary period. Only those who appreciate these principles, and have been trained to care for their bodies intelligently and in the fear of God, should be chosen to take responsibilities in this work. Those who have been long in the truth, yet who cannot distinguish between the pure principles of righteousness and the principles of evil, whose understanding in regard to justice, mercy, and the love of God is clouded, should be relieved of responsibilities. Every church needs a clear, sharp testimony, giving the trumpet a certain sound.
If we can arouse the moral sensibilities of our people on the subject of temperance, a great victory will be gained. Temperance in all things of this life is to be taught and practiced. Temperance in eating, drinking, sleeping, and dressing is one of the grand principles of the religious life. Truth brought into the sanctuary of the soul will guide in the treatment of the body. Nothing that concerns the health of the human agent is to be regarded with indifference. Our eternal welfare depends upon the use we make during this life of our time, strength, and influence.
David declared: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." When God has given us such a habitation, why should not every apartment be carefully examined? The chambers of the mind and heart are the most important. Then, instead of living in the basement of the house, enjoying sensual and debasing pleasures, should we not open these beautiful chambers and invite the Lord Jesus to come in and dwell with us?
Our ministers should become intelligent on health reform. They need to become acquainted with physiology and hygiene; they should understand the laws that govern physical life and their bearing upon the health of mind and soul.
Thousands upon thousands know little of the wonderful body God has given them or of the care it should receive; and they consider it of more importance to study subjects of far less consequence. The ministers have a work to do here. When they take a right position on this subject, much will be gained. In their own lives and homes they should obey the laws of life, practicing right principles and living healthfully. Then they will be able to speak correctly on this subject, leading the people higher and still higher in the work of reform. Living in the light themselves, they can bear a message of great value to those who are in need of just such a testimony.
There are precious blessings and a rich experience to be gained if ministers will combine the presentation of the health question with all their labors in the churches. The people must have the light on health reform. This work has been neglected, and many are ready to die because they need the light which they ought to have and must have before they will give up selfish indulgences.
The presidents of our conferences need to realize that it is high time they were placing themselves on the right side of this question. Ministers and teachers are to give to others the light they have received. Their work in every line is needed. God will help them; He will strengthen His servants who stand firmly and will not be swayed from truth and righteousness in order to accommodate self-indulgence.
The work of educating in medical missionary lines is an advance step of great importance in awakening man to his moral responsibilities. Had the ministers taken hold of this work in its various departments in accordance with the light which God has given, there would have been a most decided reformation in eating, drinking, and dressing. But some have stood directly in the way of the advance of health reform. They have held the people back by their indifference or condemnatory remarks, or by pleasantries and jokes. They themselves and a large number of others have been sufferers unto death, but all have not yet learned wisdom.
It has been only by the most aggressive warfare that any advancement has been made. The people have been unwilling to deny self, unwilling to yield the mind and will to the will of God; and in their own sufferings, and in their influence on others, they have realized the sure result of such a course.
The church is making history. Every day is a battle and a march. On every side we are beset by invisible foes, and we either conquer through the grace given us by God or we are conquered. I urge that those who are taking a neutral position in regard to health reform be converted. This light is precious, and the Lord gives me the message to urge that all who bear responsibilities in any line in the work of God take heed that truth is in the ascendancy in the heart and life. Only thus can any meet the temptations they are sure to encounter in the world.
Why do some of our ministering brethren manifest so little interest in health reform? It is because instruction on temperance in all things is opposed to their practice of self-indulgence. In some places this has been the great stumbling block in the way of our bringing the people to investigate and practice and teach health reform. No man should be set apart as a teacher of the people while his own teaching or example contradicts the testimony God has given His servants to bear in regard to diet, for this will bring confusion. His disregard of health reform unfits him to stand as the Lord's messenger.
The light that the Lord has given on this subject in His word is plain, and men will be tested and tried in many ways to see if they will heed it. Every church, every family, needs to be instructed in regard to Christian temperance. All should know how to eat and drink in order to preserve health. We are amid the closing scenes of this world's history, and there should be harmonious action in the ranks of Sabbathkeepers. Those who stand aloof from the great work of instructing the people upon this question do not follow where the Great Physician leads the way. If any man will come after Me," Christ said, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:24.
The Lord has presented before me that many, many will be rescued from physical, mental, and moral degeneracy through the practical influence of health reform.
Health talks will be given, publications will be multiplied. The principles of health reform will be received with favor, and many will be enlightened. The influences that are associated with health reform will commend it to the judgment of all who want light, and they will advance step by step to receive the special truths for this time. Thus truth and righteousness will meet together.
Life is a holy trust, which God alone can enable us to keep and to use to His glory. But He who formed the wonderful structure of the body will take special care to keep it in order if men do not work at cross-purposes with Him. Every talent entrusted to us He will help us to improve and use in accordance with the will of the Giver. Days, months, and years are added to our existence that we may improve our opportunities and advantages for working out our individual salvation, and by our unselfish life promoting the well-being of others. Thus may we build up the kingdom of Christ and make manifest the glory of God.
The gospel and the medical missionary work are to advance together. The gospel is to be bound up with the principles of true health reform. Christianity is to be brought into the practical life. Earnest, thorough reformatory work is to be done. True Bible religion is an outflowing of the love of God for fallen man. God's people are to advance in straightforward lines to impress the hearts of those who are seeking for truth, who desire to act their part aright in this intensely earnest age. We are to present the principles of health reform before the people, doing all in our power to lead men and women to see the necessity of these principles, and to practice them.