Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

September 18, 1879

Christian Temperance

By Mrs. E. G. White

“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, 19, 20.

We are not our own. We do not belong to ourselves. But we have been purchased with a dear price. We have cost an immense sum, even the suffering and death of the Son of God. If we can understand this, and fully realize it, then shall we feel great responsibility resting upon us to keep ourselves in the very best condition of health, that we may render to God perfect service.

But when we take any course which decreases our strength, expends our vitality, beclouds the intellect, and destroys the powers of the mind, we sin against God. In pursuing this course we are not glorifying him in our bodies and spirits which are his; but are committing a great wrong in his sight.

Has Jesus given himself for us? Has this dear price been paid to redeem us? And is it so, that we are not our own? Is it true that all the powers of our being our bodies, our spirits, all that we have, and all we are, belong to God? Is this so? It certainly is. And when we realize this, what obligation does it lay us under to God to preserve ourselves in that condition that we may honor him upon the earth in our bodies and in our spirits which are the Lord's.

We believe without a doubt that Christ is soon coming. This is not a fable to us. It is a reality. We have no doubt, neither have we had a doubt for years, that the doctrines we hold today are present truth, and that we are preparing for the Judgment. We are preparing to meet Him who is to appear in the clouds of heaven with the holy retinue of angels, to escort Him on his way, to give the faithful and the just the finishing touch of immortality. When he comes he is not to cleanse us of our sins. He is not then to remove from us the defects in our characters. He will not then cure us of the infirmities of our tempers and dispositions. He will not do this work then. Before that time this work will all be accomplished, if wrought for us at all. Then those who are holy will be holy still. They are not to be made holy when the Lord comes. Those who have preserved their bodies, and their spirits, in holiness, and in sanctification, and honor, will then receive the finishing touch of immortality. And when he comes, those who are unjust, and unsanctified, and filthy, will remain so forever. There is then no work to be done for them which shall remove their defects, and give them holy characters. The Refiner does not then sit to pursue his refining process, and remove their sins, and their corruption. This is all to be done in these hours of probation. It is now that this work is to be accomplished for us.

We embrace the truth of God with our different organizations, and as we come under the influence of truth, it will accomplish the work for us which is necessary to be accomplished, and give us a moral fitness for the kingdom of glory, and for the society of the heavenly angels. We are now in God's work-shop. We are, many of us rough stone from the quarry. As we lay hold upon the truth of God, its influence must affect us. It must elevate us. It must remove from us every imperfection. It must remove from us sins of whatever nature. And it must fit us, that we may be prepared to see the king in his beauty, and finally to unite with the pure and heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory. This work is to be accomplished for us here. Here we are, with these bodies and spirits, which are to be fitted for immortality.

We are in a world that is in opposition to righteousness, holiness, a growth in grace, and to purity of character. Everywhere we look we see deformity and sin. We see corruption. We see defilement on every hand. And what is the work that we are to undertake here just previous to immortality? It is to preserve our bodies holy, our spirits pure, that we may stand forth unstained amid the corruptions teeming around us in these last days. And if this work is to be performed for us, we need to engage in it heartily, and engage in it at once. We want to take hold of the work now. We want to understand it just as it is. Selfishness should not come in here to control us. We want the Spirit of God to have perfect control of us. It should influence us in all our actions. And if we have a right hold on Heaven, a right hold of the power that is from above, we shall feel the sanctifying influence of the Spirit of God upon our hearts.

When we have tried to present to the people the health reform, and have spoken of the importance of their eating, and drinking, and in all that they do, to do it to the glory of God, many, by their actions, have said, “It is nobody's business whether I eat this or that. Whatever we do we are to bear the consequences ourselves.” Dear friends, you are greatly mistaken. You are not the only sufferers from a wrong course. The society you are in bears the consequences of your wrongs, in a great degree, as well as yourselves. If you are suffering from your intemperance in eating or in drinking, we that are around you, or associated with you, are affected by your infirmities. We have to suffer on account of the course you pursue, which is wrong. If it has an influence to lessen your powers of mind or body, we are affected by it. We have to feel it. When in your society, instead of your having a buoyancy of spirit, you are gloomy, and cast a shadow upon the spirits of all around you. If we are sad, and depressed, and in trouble, you could, if in right conditions of health, have a clear brain to show us the way out, and speak a comforting word to us. If your brain is so benumbed by your wrong course of living that you cannot give us the right counsel, do we not meet with a loss? Does not your influence seriously affect us? We may have a good degree of confidence in our own judgment, yet we want to have counsellors; for in many counsellors there is safety. We desire that our course should look consistent and proper to those we love, and we wish to seek their counsel, and have them able to give it with a clear brain. But what care we for your judgment, if your brain nerve power has been taxed to the utmost to take care of improper food, or an enormous quantity of even healthful food’ placed in your stomachs, and the vitality withdrawn from the brain? What care we for the judgment of such persons? They see through a mass of undigested food. Therefore your course of living affects us. It is impossible for you to pursue any wrong course without others suffering beside yourself.

“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.” In running the race, in order to obtain that laurel which was considered a special honor, those who engaged in running were temperate in all things. They where temperate, that their muscles, and their brains, and every part of them, should be in the very best condition to run. If they were not temperate, they would not have that elasticity that they would have if they were temperate in all things. If temperate, they could run that race successfully. They were more sure of receiving the crown. But notwithstanding all their efforts in the direction of temperance, and to subject themselves to a careful diet, in order to be in the best condition, yet they only ran at a venture. They might do the very best they could, and yet after all not receive the token of honor; for another might be a little in advance of them, and take the prize. One only received the prize. But we can all run in the heavenly race, and all receive the prize. It is not an uncertainty. It is not to run at a risk. We must put on the heavenly graces, with the eye directed upward to the crown of immortality, keeping the Pattern ever before us. He was a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. The self-denying life of our divine Lord we are to keep constantly in view. His life of poverty, humbleness, and self-denial, we must not forget. And then as we seek to imitate him, keeping our eye upon the mark of the prize, we can run this race with certainty, knowing that if we do the very best we can we shall certainly secure the prize. Men ran to obtain a corruptible crown, one that would perish in a day. All this self-denial practiced by those who ran these races was to obtain a corruptible crown, which was only a token of honor from mortals here.

But we are to run the race, at the end of which is a crown of immortality and everlasting life. Yes, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory will be awarded to us as the prize when the race is run. “We,” says the apostle, “an incorruptible.” And if they could be temperate in all things, who engaged in this race here upon earth for a temporal crown, cannot we be temperate in all things, who have in view an incorruptible crown, an eternal weight of glory, and a life which measures with the life of God? When we have this great inducement before us, cannot we run, with patience, this race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith? He has pointed out the way for us. He has marked it for us by his own footsteps all the way along. It is the path that he traveled. You may, with Christ, experience the self-denial, and the suffering, and walk in this pathway imprinted by his own blood.

“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.” There is work to do here, for every man, woman, and child. Satan is constantly at work, that he may have control of your bodies and spirits. But Christ has bought you, and you are his property. And now it is for you to work in union with Christ, in union with the holy angels that minister unto you. It is for you to keep the body under, and bring it into subjection. Unless you do this, you will certainly lose everlasting life, and the crown of immortality.

And yet some will say, “What business is it to anybody what I eat? or what I drink?” I have shown you what relation your course has to others. You have seen that it has much to do with the influence you exert in your families. It has to do with your manner of acting. It has much to do with moulding the characters of your children.

As I said before, it is a corrupted age in which we live. It is a time when Satan seems to have almost complete control of minds that are not fully consecrated to God. Therefore there is a very great responsibility resting upon parents and guardians who have children to bring up. Parents have taken the responsibility of bringing these children into existence. And what now is their duty? Is it to let them come up just as they may? and just as they will? Let me tell you, a weight of responsibility rests upon these parents. Whether you eat, or whether you drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Do you do this when you are preparing food for the table, and when you place it upon your tables, and call your family to partake of it? Are you placing only the food before these children that you know will make the very best blood? Is it that food that will preserve their systems in the least feverish condition? Is it that which will place them in the very best relation to life and health? Is this the food that you are studying to place before your children? Or are you careless and reckless of their future good? and provide for them unhealthful, stimulating, irritating food? Let me tell you that the children from their very birth are born to evil. Satan seems to have control of them. He seems to take possession of their young minds, and they are corrupted. Why do fathers and mothers act as though a lethargy was upon them? They do not mistrust that Satan is sowing evil seed in their families. They are as blind, and careless, and reckless, in regard to these things as it is possible for them to be. Why do they not awake, and study these things? Why are they not reading up? Says the apostle, “Add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience,” etc. Here is work resting upon every one who professes to follow Jesus Christ.

From Report of an Address.

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