(Written August 25, 1897, at "Sunnyside," Cooranbong, N.S.W., Australia.)
I have many things to say, but I do not know that I can say them now. My left eye is so weak that I may have to refuse to write till it is stronger. Be assured that I am praying in regard to this afflicted member. The Lord has been very gracious to me. Again and again He has answered my prayers in regard to my eyesight. His loving kindness faileth not, so I shall urge my petition to the throne of grace till an answer comes.
Your letter to me, under date of February 12, is received. Your question is, "Is it advisable to employ a good, Christian physician, who treats his patients on hygienic principles? In urgent cases, should we call in a worldly physician, because the sanitarium doctors are all so busy that they have no time to devote to outside practice? Some say that when the sanitarium doctors do use drugs, they give larger doses than ordinary doctors."
If the physicians are so busy that they cannot treat the sick outside of the institution, would it not be wiser for all to educate themselves in the use of simple remedies, than to venture to use drugs that are given a long name to hide their real qualities? Why need anyone be ignorant of God's remedies--hot water fomentations and cold and hot compresses? It is important to become familiar with the benefit of dieting in case of sickness. All should understand what to do themselves. They may call upon someone who understands nursing, but everyone should have an intelligent knowledge of the house he lives in. All should understand what to do in case of sickness.
Were I sick, I would just as soon call in a lawyer as a physician from among general practitioners. I would not touch their nostrums, to which they give Latin names. I am determined to know, in straight English, the name of everything that I introduce into my system.
Those who make a practice of taking drugs sin against their intelligence and endanger their whole afterlife. There are herbs that are harmless, the use of which will tide over many apparently serious difficulties. But if all would seek to become intelligent in regard to their bodily necessities, sickness would be rare instead of common. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
You say, "The reason why I advise with you is because there are some who have never heard of the principles of health reform. Converts in
the S.D.A. faith, whom one would naturally suppose would be easily led to see the beauty of hygienic remedies for the sick, are being taught to take the Lord for their Healer, without even using simple means and Heaven-blessed agencies for the recovery and preservation of health. These agencies are excluded by close rooms and a neglect to procure pure water."
We find the same sinful neglect wherever we go. When we first established ourselves in the locality where we now are, we lived in tents while the men cleared the land. There was no rain from February till the next December, except a few light showers. The men drank from a water hole on the ground. As far as taste was concerned, the water was good. It was cool, but insects were plainly visible in it. Because of drinking this water, some of the students attending the school became sick with bowel complaint.
We knew that we would be obliged to use this water, but we obtained a boiler which held several gallons. In this we boiled the water, and after letting it cool, let it run through a canvas filter. Our family of boarders was large, but none of them were sick. Many would say that such conveniences cost money, and that it would not pay, but sickness and doctors' bills cost time and money. To be particular in the beginning saves many a serious ending.
I then began to devise for the workmen employed by the school in making a road. I told them that I forbade them taking one cup of water from the creek on my premises. I then told my cook to prepare hygienic coffee, putting it in kerosene tins that had been nicely cleaned. To this coffee was added milk from my cows. This the workmen were given every day when they ate their lunch. After this no one suffered from bowel complaint. True, it made my housekeeper more work, but the words were constantly in my mind, "Help us to help each other, Lord; each other's woes to bear."
You say again, "They are not educated in regard to the injurious effects of meat eating and of using sugar and vinegar, tea and coffee. That is, they depend for their herb drink on tea from China and coffee from Java. These things are injurious and deleterious to the human system. Tea and coffee are stimulants and poisons, and their effects have been presented before them."
You speak of cake and pastry, saying that the harmful effects of these things are not kept before the people as in former years, and that many have not learned the harm of eating between meals. All these subjects are treated upon in our health literature. Why not see if you cannot
get them to read and become intelligent on these subjects? Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Why should not those who are accepting the light of present truth become intelligent upon the subjects which concern the habitation the Lord has given them, walking in the light as it shines upon their pathway? Eating between meals places a tax upon the stomach that will surely bring disease upon the digestive organs.
You say that "a married lady who has embraced the truth has been taught the lessons connected with divine healing, and, as they seem very proper and right, she has accepted them. She would not think it necessary to change her wrong habits of diet for healthful practices. Self-denial in the matter has not been presented to her from a Bible standpoint."
We are very sorry that the converting power of God has not reached this sister's table habits, because all connected with her will feel the influence of this half conversion. In all such families there are those who are invalids because of their erroneous manner of eating. Should this sister advance, and walk in the light in reference to eating and drinking, she would be a great blessing to the members of her family. If she will be led, God will certainly lead her into that knowledge that it is her privilege to gain in regard to her habits and practices.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, "writes the apostle Paul, "by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" [Rom. 12:1, 2]. The Lord requires a living sacrifice of mind, soul, body, and strength. All that we have and are is to be given to Him, that we may answer the purpose of our creation. But unless we take heed to the light and instruction given us in the Word of God, that in the matter of eating and drinking we may speak and act intelligently, we shall bring feebleness upon our selves.
"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" [Rom. 6:11-13]. For Christ's sake, let
those that live in the last days of this world's history walk in the light.
"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 unto subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away" [1 Cor. 9:24-27].
"Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.... 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 Cor. 6:15, 19, 20].
It is necessary for every believer to be strictly temperate. The people of our world indulge pernicious habits, thus destroying their God-given susceptibility and the power of discerning sacred things. The moral sense of many of those living at the present day is clouded by wrong habits. With many appetite is the law that governs.
There is need of a better understanding of the principles of health reform. Temperance in eating, drinking, and dressing is essential. The advocates of temperance should place their standard on a broader platform. They would then be laborers together with God. With every iota of their influence they should encourage the spread of reform principles. Let appetite rule instead of principle, and the whole human machinery will be implicated. The violation of physical law is a violation of the law of God. Those who eat too much, and whose food is of an objectionable quality, are easily led into dissipation. In proportion to the darkness of their minds will they give license to their appetites and passions.
Tea and coffee are neither wholesome nor necessary. They are of no use as far as the health of the body is concerned. But practice in the use of these things becomes habit. When men and women are truly converted, they will conscientiously regard their habits of eating, drinking, and dressing. They will seek to avoid physical, mental, and moral feebleness.
Tobacco produces an effect on the system fully as harmful as liquor drinking. It stimulates for the time being, but when its immediate influence is gone, those who use it sink as far below par as they have been
elevated above it. All who cling to this habit, who refuse to practice health reform by placing themselves on the platform of temperance in all things, must bear the consequences of their course of action.
In this place a fisherman has recently been converted to the truth. Although formerly a habitual user of this poisonous weed, he has, by the grace of God, determined to leave it alone for the future. The question was asked him, "Had you a hard struggle in giving it up?" "I should think I did," he answered, "but I saw the truth as it was presented to me. I learned that tobacco was unhealthful. I prayed to the Lord to help me to give it up, and He has helped me in a most marked manner. But I have not yet decided that I can give up my cup of tea. It embraces me, and I know that I should have a severe headache did I not take it."
The evils of tea drinking were laid before him by Sister Sara McEnterfer. She encouraged him to have moral courage to try what giving up tea would do for him. He said, "I will." In two weeks he bore his testimony in meeting. He said, "When I said that I would give up tea, I meant it. I did not drink it, and the result was a most severe headache. But I thought, Am I to keep using tea to ward off the headache? Must I be dependent on it that when I let it alone I am in this condition? Now I know that its effects are bad. I will use it no more. I have not used it since, and I feel better every day. My headache no longer troubles me. My mind is clearer than it was. I can better understand the Scriptures as I read them."
I thought of this man, poor as far as worldly possessions are concerned, but with moral courage to cut loose from smoking and tea drinking, the habits of his boyhood. He did not plead for a little indulgence in wrong doing. No; he decided that tobacco and tea were injurious, and that his influence must be on the right side. He has given evidence that the Holy Spirit is working on his mind and character to make him a vessel unto honor.
Shall those who have had more opportunities and much precious light, who enjoy the advantages of education, make the plea that they cannot cut away from unhealthful practices? Why do not those who have excellent reasoning powers reason from cause to effect? Why do they not advocate reform by planting their feet firmly on principle, determined not to taste alcoholic drink or to use tobacco? These are poisons, and their use is a violation of God's law.
Some say, when an effort is made to enlighten then on this point, "I will leave off by degrees." But Satan laughs at all such decisions. He says,
"They are secure in my power. I have no fear of them on that ground." But he knows that he has no power over the man who, when sinners entice him, has moral courage to say No, squarely and positively. Such a one has dismissed the companionship of the devil, and as long as he holds to Jesus Christ, he is safe. He stands where heavenly angels can connect with him, giving him moral power to overcome. He can truly advocate temperance; for, with a tobacco pipe in his mouth, he will not urge a liquor drinker to abstain from alcohol.
No man can be a true minister of righteousness and yet be under the inspiration of sensual appetites. He cannot indulge the habit of using tobacco yet win souls to the platform of true temperance. The cloud of smoke coming from his lips has no salutary effect upon liquor drinkers. The gospel sermon must come from lips undefiled by tobacco smoke. With pure, clean lips God's servants must tell the triumphs of the cross. The practice of using liquor, tobacco, tea, and coffee must be overcome by the converting power of God. There shall nothing enter into the kingdom of God that defileth.
The life that men live is not half what it ought to be. Light is shining upon the subject of temperance, and much labor has been put forth to instruct people on this point, but the dietetic habits of those who live for selfish gratification, who do not wish to be corrected, and refuse to practice health reform, leave them diseased and enfeebled. They may ask the Lord to heal them, but will He who caused the light to shine out of darkness heal them of that which is the result of not heeding the light, but continuing to eat, drink, and dress unhealthfully? Shall we not seek to do all that is possible for us to do by placing ourselves in the right relation to health reform? Then we can say, "Father in heaven, I have now done all I can to place myself in a correct position by denying appetite and following the light given in regard to health. Heal me of disease that I may glorify Thee."
It is labor lost to teach people to go to God as a healer of their infirmities unless they are educated also to lay aside every wrong practice, and cease to indulge perverted appetite. They must be taught to use the provisions God has given. To refuse the remedies which they may as well have as not without paying a doctor's fee, to neglect to let into every room in the house God's pure air and sunshine, shows a lack of faith in Him. Faith in God's power to heal infirmities is dead unless the one diseased improves the light God has given him by bringing his habits into harmony with right principles.
The grace of God is always reformatory. Every human being is in a
school where he is to learn to give up hurtful practices, and obtain a knowledge of what he can do for himself. Those who ignore these things, who take no precautions in regard to getting pure air to breathe and pure water to drink, cannot be free from disease. Their systems are defiled, and the human structure injured.
Such people are careless, reckless, presumptuous, and self-destroying. Knowledge is strewn along their pathway, but they refuse to gather up the rays of light, saying that they depend on God. But will God do those things that He has left for them to do? Will He supply their neglect to cooperate with Him? Will He wink at their ignorance, and do great things for them by restoring soul, body, and spirit, while they ignore the most simple agencies, the use of which would bring them their health? While day by day they indulge their appetite by eating that which brings disease, can they expect the Lord to work a miracle to restore them? This is not the Lord's way of working. By doing this, they make the Lord altogether such an one as themselves. Faith and works go together.
I beseech my brethren and sisters to lay aside their darling luxury of tea and coffee, the use of which creates an unnatural state of mind and body. "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments" [Rev. 3:4]. How are their garments defiled? By eating of that which brings disease and infirmity. "And they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels" [verses 4, 5].
All may become intelligent if they will. Those who worship God in the beauty of holiness will work in harmony with God by striving to supply the best conditions for worship. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock," Christ says. "If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" [Rev. 3:20]. Those who follow God's directions will be prepared to receive the heavenly Guest; for they have listened to the voice of God, speaking through His Word and His messengers.
But those who do not hear and obey the warnings and instructions of God cannot understand what sanctification of soul and body means. What word has God for those who ignore the light that is flashing around them, and then ask to be prayed for that they may be sanctified and healed? The same word that He had for Cain: "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?
and if thou doest not well sin lieth at the door."
Let all examine their own hearts to see if they are not cherishing that which is a positive injury to them, and in the place of opening the door of the heart to let Jesus, the Sun of righteousness, in are complaining of the dearth of the Spirit of God. Let these search for their idols, and cast them out. Let them cut away every unhealthful indulgence in eating or drinking. Let them bring their daily practice into harmony with nature's laws. By doing, as well as believing, an atmosphere will be created about the soul that will be a savor of life unto life.
The Lord calls upon all who think they know what faith is, to be sure that they are not pulling with only one oar, that their little bark is not going round and round, making no progress at all. Faith without intelligent works is dead, being alone. Faith in the healing power of God will not save unless it is combined with good works. Good works and faith are the two oars we need to use.
Many are made sick by the indulgence of their 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. So many varieties are introduced into the stomach that fermentation is the result. This condition brings on acute disease, and death frequently follows. Sin indeed lies at the door. The door is the mouth, and the stomach is made to do at one meal the work of two or three meals. Thus the delicate machinery is worn out by the suicidal practices of those who ought to know better.
Let all heed the instruction given on this subject. Let them strive to bring appetite under the control of reason. Mothers and fathers, God calls upon you to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. When you do for yourselves what as faithful servants of God you should do, you will be prepared to lead your children step by step in safe, healthful paths, and in ways of righteousness.
Physical life cannot be treated in a haphazard manner. Wake up to your responsibilities. When speaking to persons on the subject of health, they often say, "We know a great deal better then 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 bears the inspection of God. He made the human being. We are His property, bought with a price, and what a price!
Every organ, every fiber of the being, is to be sacredly guarded from every harmful practice, if we would not be among the number that Christ represents as walking in the same
dishonorable path as did the inhabitants of the world before the flood. Those in this number will be appointed to destruction, because they have persisted in carrying lawful habits to extremes, and have created and indulged habits that have no foundation in nature and that become a warring lust.
Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number that the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world. These are His peculiar people, zealous of good works.
The mass of the inhabitants of this world are destroying for themselves the true basis of the highest earthly interest. They are destroying their power of self-control, and making themselves incapable of appreciating eternal realities. Willingly ignorant of their own structure, they lead their children in the same path of self-indulgence, causing them to suffer the penalty of the transgression of nature's laws. They go to distant countries to seek a better climate, but their stomach will create for them a malarious atmosphere wherever they may locate. They bring upon themselves sufferings that no one can alleviate.
God calls upon us to stand upon the broad platform of temperance in eating, drinking, and dressing. Parents, will you not awaken to your God-given responsibilities? Study the principles of health reform, and teach your children that the path of self-denial is the only path of safety. Take an interest in their welfare.
Obedience to the laws of life must be made a matter of personal duty. We must answer to God for our habits and practices. The question for us to answer 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?
We must ourselves suffer the ills of violated laws. If we die, we die for ourselves. Is it not best to live for the future eternal life, and die in Christ? It is our duty to study the laws that govern our being and conform to them. Ignorance in these things is sin. We cannot do as we please with our bodies, for they are God's property. "Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." [1 Cor. 6:20].--Ms 86, 1897. Ellen G. White Estate Washington, D. C. October 20, 1988. Entire Ms.