Ellen G. White Writings

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The Health Reformer

November 1, 1877

Importance of Preserving Physical Health

By Mrs. E. G. White

It may seem strange to some that, while all is stir and activity in the Temperance cause, I should, in discussing that question, enter so fully into the home life, and the development of character in the child, as it progresses from infancy to maturity. My apology is that the work of temperance reform must begin at home, and with the early training of the child, in order to be thoroughly successful. The moral sensibilities of parents must be roused to appreciate the responsibility incumbent upon them in rearing their children with the strength of character, and integrity of purpose to resist temptation, and to present a firm front against the attacks of popular vice, in all its seductive and dangerous phases.

I am thoroughly convinced that to realize a permanent change for the better in the morals of society, the education of the masses must begin with their early lives. The mother must be the first teacher through that stage of life in which the foundation of character is laid. The guidance of the child, in its first years, is almost wholly committed to her. And, as a rule, she has the essential elements to be the best teacher it can possibly have; she has the deep love and sympathy for the child, the earnest desire for his welfare, the skill in his management which no other can possess to so great a degree. If, in her efforts to mold the character of her child, she keeps a firm hold upon God, and seeks by prayer and consecration to follow the divine will, in training the charge he has given to her, she can almost insure for him an honorable and upright future.

The habits formed in early youth, the tastes acquired, the powers of mind expanded, the self-control gained, the principles inculcated from the cradle, are almost certain to determine the future of the man or woman. Therefore, I have felt an intense earnestness in bringing before the mother, subjects which it is not fashionable to discuss in connection with the great cause of Temperance, now agitating the public more than ever before, because of the crime and corruption occasioned by intemperance and lax morals, which might have been prevented by the proper training in youth of the present generation.

One of the greatest aids in the perfecting of pure and noble characters in the young, and strengthening their capacity to resist temptations to do evil, to indulge appetite or to fall into any debasing excesses, is the possession of sound physical health. The mind and body are intimately connected. If the former is to be firm and well-balanced, the latter should be in the best possible condition. Conscience and right principles of life should be sustained by firm, quiet nerves, a healthful circulation, and the activity and strength of general health.

It is of the highest importance that men and women be instructed in the science of human life, and in the best means of preserving and acquiring physical health. Especially is youth the time to lay up a stock of knowledge to be put in daily practice through life. Youth is the time to establish good habits, to correct wrong ones already contracted, to gain and to hold the power of self-control, and to lay the plan, and accustom one's self to the practice of ordering all the acts of life with reference to the will of God, and the welfare of our fellow-creatures. Youth is the sowing time, that determines the harvest both of this life and the life beyond the grave.

The youth of our time should be patiently instructed by both parents and teachers in the laws of physical health, and the means provided by the providence of God for the restoration of that health when once impaired by voluntary or involuntary violation of Nature's laws. Jesus did not ignore the claims of the body. He had respect for the physical condition of man, and went about healing the sick, and restoring their faculties to those suffering from their loss. How incumbent then is it upon us to preserve the natural health with which God has endowed us, and to avoid dwarfing or weakening our powers.

Parents should impress upon their children the fact that all their powers are from God; that he has claims upon every faculty; that in sinning against their bodies, by abusing their physical health in any manner, they sin against God, and slight one of his choicest blessings. God gives us health to use in his service; and the greater physical strength we possess, the stronger our powers of endurance, the more we should do for the Master; and instead of abusing and overtaxing our strength, we should sacredly preserve it for his use.

The young should be shown that they are not at liberty to do as they please with their lives; that now is their day of trust, and by and by will come their day of reckoning; that God will not hold them guiltless for treating lightly his precious gifts; that the world's Redeemer has paid an infinite price for them, and their lives and talents belong to him; that they will be finally judged according to the faithful or unfaithful stewardship of the capital which God has intrusted to their care. They should be taught that the greater their endowment of means and opportunities, the more heavily does the responsibility of God's work rest upon them, and the more are they required to do.

The moral sensibilities of the youth must be aroused to the fact that their physical, mental, and moral powers are not their own, to use for their own selfish gratification, but lent them of God, to use in his service; and that his displeasure is visited upon those who develop and indulge injurious appetites and passions, and debase their God-given powers to their own sinful pleasures. If the youth are thus brought up to feel their responsibility to their Creator, and the important trust given them in their own lives, they will hesitate to plunge into the vortex of dissipation and crime that swallows up so many of the brilliant, promising young men of our age.

Let the work of reform begin at home; train up the child to habits of industry, and serious reflection; present life to him as a grave reality; show him his duty to his God, his neighbor, and himself; inculcate moral and religious principles in his mind; give him a suitable education, the means of earning an honest living; let him know you are ever ready to give him tender sympathy and sound advice, to help him if he stumbles, and to encourage him onward; and he will not be likely to go far astray, or miss being a blessing and ornament to the world.

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