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    IN the record of God’s providential dealings with the race, the Hebrews hold a high rank. These descendants of the worthy patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were proud of the blood in their veins, and in the days of Christ were heard to say boastfully, “We have Abraham to our father.” 1Matthew 3:9.BHY 177.1

    Abraham was a truly grand character. “I know him,” says the great God, “that he will command his children and his household after him.” 2Genesis 18:19. He is called the father of the faithful. The reason his children were to be in number as the dust of the earth, or as the sand upon the sea-shore, or as the stars of heaven, is given thus: “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” 3Genesis 26:4, 5.BHY 177.2

    There is much of thrilling interest in the sacred sketches of Isaac, of Jacob and his twelve sons, of the bondage of Joseph and his elevation in Egypt, and of the subsequent slavery of the Hebrews and their miraculous deliverance. God designed to do great things for his people; hence it was his purpose, in his dealings with them, to restrict appetite, and to provide for them the most healthful food.BHY 177.3

    During centuries of slavery in a heathen land, the habits of the Hebrews had become more or less corrupted. And as their moral powers grew weak, in the same degree, appetite and passion grew strong. With a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, God led them from the land of servitude into the wilderness, where he proposed to reform them. Their wrong habits in Egypt had made them irritable, and had disqualified them to endure the pangs of thirst, or the gnawings of perverted appetite.BHY 177.4

    In their journeying they soon came to Marah. The water here was bitter, and a cry of murmuring ran through the host, “What shall we drink?” A certain tree cast into the waters made them sweet. This quieted the murmuring of the people for the time. The Lord “made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, and said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord that healeth thee.” 1Exodus 15:24-26.BHY 178.1

    The candid reader will not fail to see that the gracious God of the Hebrews regarded the health of his people as a matter of great importance. He promised them health if they would obey him. Indeed, no fact appears more distinct in the sacred record than this, that in the great work of reforming them, and restoring them from wrong habits contracted in Egypt, — habits which affected the physical, the moral, and the spiritual nature, — God commenced with the appetite.BHY 178.2

    God did not propose to work miracles for the health of his people, while they were indulging habits injurious to health. He was soon to take the Israelites to the land he had promised them, — a second Eden, marred somewhat by the curse, — and to establish them there a healthy, happy, holy people. But before doing this, he would reform them in their dietetic habits, by taking them back, step by step, as near as possible to the purity of his original purpose when he provided the simple fruits, grains, and vegetables as the best food for man.BHY 178.3

    Thirty days after the departure from Egypt, the Hebrews were encamped in the wilderness of Sin, and there the circumstances of their position tested their trembling faith. It was evident that the chances for food were against them, unless God should work a perpetual miracle. And the infidel question was murmured through the camp, “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?” The whole congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 1God was about to repeat his law in the hearing of all the people. Would they obey? Their appetites and passions were such that their obedience was a matter of doubt. This, however, seems to have been established in the Divine Mind, that unless they could control appetite, they could not be controlled by law. God proposed to prove their moral power, and he did it by testing them on the point of appetite.BHY 178.4

    The case was an urgent one. Something must be done. The people must have food. The necessity of his people was God’s opportunity. Food came in abundance from heaven, and lay round about the camp. The God and Father of his people being judge in the case, he most certainly gave them that food which was best adapted to their wants. Well, did he send down to them cattle, sheep, swine, lobsters, oysters, clams, eels, and the like, tea, coffee, and tobacco? This he could, and would, have done, if these were necessary to life and health. But none of these were given. What did the God of Israel provide as food for that vast host? The following simple language gives the answer:—BHY 179.1

    “Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.” 1Exodus 16:3, 4. God was about to repeat his law in the hearing of all the people. Would they obey? Their appetites and passions were such that their obedience was a matter of doubt. This, however, seems to have been established in the Divine Mind, that unless they could control appetite, they could not be controlled by law. God proposed to prove their moral power, and he did it by testing them on the point of appetite.BHY 179.2

    From the description of the manna, one might safely conclude that it would be quite as disagreeable to a morbid taste as graham bread. Its shape, color, taste, and the manner in which it was prepared for food, are thus given: “The manna was as coriander seed, and the color thereof as the color of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.” 1God gave them flesh, not because it was best for them, but to teach them that he best knew their real needs. As other means of instruction had failed, he let them have their own way this time, to humble them, and bring them to submission.BHY 179.3

    It appears from the record that the people were not at first restricted to manna alone. In the morning they were to eat of the manna, and in the evening they were to eat of the flesh of quails. Whether flesh was given them once a day at first, that the change of their habits might be more gradual, or because of their frenzied murmurings, may be a matter of debate. But at a later period they were restricted to manna alone, as the following statement shows:—BHY 180.1

    “The mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting; and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic; but now our soul is dried away. There is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes.” 1Numbers 11:7, 8, 4-6, 18-20. God gave them flesh, not because it was best for them, but to teach them that he best knew their real needs. As other means of instruction had failed, he let them have their own way this time, to humble them, and bring them to submission.BHY 180.2

    The leader of murmuring Israel was instructed to say to the people: “Ye shall eat flesh; for ye have wept in the ears of the Lord, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt; therefore the Lord will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; but even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you; because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?” 2Numbers 11:7, 8, 4-6, 18-20.BHY 180.3

    We are sometimes gravely informed by those knowing gentlemen who give their influence on the side of indulgence of morbid taste, that the appetite indicates what is best adapted to the wants of the system. On the same ground, men may justify the drunkard, the opium inebriate, and the tobacco slave. Thousands are acting the glutton, and hastening to a wretched end, over this miserable untruth. How terribly false it was in the case of the Hebrews!BHY 180.4

    The great God, in his dealings with the Hebrews in the wilderness, not only restricted their diet to the simple manna, but he also taught them cleanliness. Both these restrictions were designed to promote health. Gluttony and filth are base companions; while temperance and cleanliness are congenial friends.BHY 181.1

    The excellent maxim, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” is not found in the Scriptures, as many suppose, but in the Jewish Talmud. Yet he who reads the books of Moses attentively will not fail to observe that in those moral lessons which were given to the people through Moses, cleanliness holds a high rank among the acts preparatory to acceptance with God.BHY 181.2

    When the Hebrews were about to assemble at the base of Sinai, to witness the grandeur of Jehovah as he should descend upon the mount, wrapped in a cloud of glory, to speak the ten precepts of his holy law, the following was one of the preparations which the Lord directed Moses to make for the occasion: “Go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their clothes.” 1Exodus 19:10. This act of cleanliness, given so specifically in the sacred record, was one of importance. It was not commanded simply because our heavenly Father was pleased to see his children dressed in clean apparel; but it was simply to impress them with the purity of God, and to show them that he cared for their physical as well as their moral well-being.BHY 181.3

    While the vast hosts of the Hebrews were in the wilderness, it was necessary for their physical and moral good that they should be neat and cleanly in their common habits. The particulars of the command given them are recorded in Deuteronomy 23:10-14.BHY 181.4

    That holy God of the Hebrews, who could not view moral or physical impurities with complacency, is the Christian’s God. The death of his Son for the sins of men, and the world-wide proclamation of his glorious gospel, were never designed to give the idea that the Christian should be less particular and cleanly in the common habits of life than the Hebrew. Such habits were necessary to physical and moral health, and, from the very nature of the case, the same necessity exists in our time.BHY 182.1

    It is the most degrading and miserable fanaticism to suppose that the freedom of the gospel consists in slovenly dress, in rough, clownish, irreverent words and actions, or in careless, filthy habits of life. It is painful to state that there is much which passes with certain classes as plain, humble religion, that is a living disgrace to the Christian name. This results from the erroneous idea that God has abolished the rules of cleanliness found in the books of Moses, and that the gospel frees us from their restraint.BHY 182.2

    God is the same, yesterday, to-day, and forever. The same practical instructions which he gave to the Hebrews through Moses, for their physical and moral benefit, he also impressed upon the minds of the inspired writers of the New Testament. Paul exhorts his readers: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 12 Corinthians 6:17, 18. Acceptance and heirship are the greatest blessings that God can offer on conditional promise to mortal men. Paul continues in the very next verse: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” In these impressive words the purity (or impurity) of the physical nature is connected with that of the moral nature. The one is dependent upon the other. Filthy habits tend to moral impurity. The man who obtains real purity of spirit, will be led to cleanly habits of life. Cleanliness, health, and purity of spirit, are from the same source, and are priceless adornments of the Christian.BHY 182.3

    God pity the poor! They labor under disadvantages, but they can be cleanly, neat, and orderly. While we admit that poverty, in some cases, tends to make people slack, disorderly, and filthy, we deny that this is necessarily the case. The log cabin, with its rude, scanty furniture, may show marks of tidiness, as well as the mansion of the wealthy. And the scanty clothing may be clean. Though patch may be put upon patch, all may show the rough beauty and cleanliness of a hand and heart moved by the true spirit of reform.BHY 183.1

    But what can we say of the criminal carelessness of many professing Christians relative to their outhouses? We know of no language that will fully meet the case. We may write the words unhealthful, pestilential, terrible, horrible; but when compared with what the itinerant sometimes meets in August or September, such words really mean nothing. The sense of smell can sometimes recognize the existence of the poisonous, demoralizing abominations at a great distance.BHY 183.2

    By means of improper food, bad water, and impure air, diseases are received into the system. The food and water may be pure, but if the air is corrupt, the system will be poisoned, and, sooner or later, sickness must follow. In our frequent tours in New England, and throughout the Middle and North-western States, we have visited many sick persons. When searching for the cause of their ill health, if we failed to trace it to heredity, or to improper diet or impure water, we have usually found it in a bad condition of the outhouses. Whole families are often prostrated with fever, sometimes resulting in death to one or more of them, and yet the good people gravely and tearfully talk of the mysterious providence of God that has caused so much sickness, and removed kindred and neighbors, when the chief cause is in their own yard.BHY 183.3

    Often the barn and poultry yard are near the house, and the emanations from them, in connection with the vault usually found on the premises, are so foul that it is a wonder that any escape typhoid fever, which more frequently owes its origin to this cause than to all others. But what is worse, these abominations are sometimes so located that the drainage from them finds its way into the well. Among those so surrounded, health seems an impossibility. If a vault is used, it should be far from the well, and not too near the house; and dry earth or wood ashes, used as a covering, will absorb the foul emanations. The directions given to the Hebrews concerning cleanliness, show how careful God was that the camp should not become contaminated, and should lead us to the utmost care as to the healthfulness of our surroundings.BHY 183.4

    We wish to arouse the people upon the subject of securing health, moral elevation, and happiness by providing themselves with the most healthful food, good water, and pure air. If they will do this, and be temperate in all their habits, they may give drugs to the dogs, save pain and money, and be able to say, “I am well.”BHY 184.1

    Personal cleanliness by proper bathing is not only a healthful luxury, but a virtue. Again we quote Paul, where he connects physical and moral cleanliness: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” 1Hebrews 10:22. The derivation of the word here rendered “washed,” seems to have exclusive reference to washing from physical impurities. The effort of immersionists to press this text into the service of their mode of baptism, is an utter failure. Baptism by immersion does not wash the body.BHY 184.2

    Another apostle says of Christian baptism, It is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.” 21 Peter 3:21. The expression of Paul, then, “Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water,” refers to moral and physical cleanliness.BHY 184.3

    Between the altar of burnt-offering and the tabernacle of the congregation was the brazen laver, containing water in which the Jewish priests were to wash themselves before putting on the pure linen garments, preparatory to entering the sanctuary to minister before God, and it is distinctly stated that they must do this “that they die not.” Here we are again impressed with the purity of God, and how particular he was to instruct the Hebrews that cleanliness was, to say the least, closely connected with acceptable worship.BHY 184.4

    Has the change of dispensations changed the character and mind of God in this respect? Has the death of his Son given license to Christians to pollute their bodies and souls with filthy indulgences, which in the former dispensation would have been prohibited on pain of death? — No! no!! God is the same in all dispensations. And those moral teachings found in the books of Moses, which contain rules to secure cleanliness, justice, holiness, and the favor of God, are as changeless as the eternal throne.BHY 185.1

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