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Health, or, How to Live

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    VENTILATION OF CHURCHES

    THE particles of matter which compose the human body are constantly changing. None of us possess to-day exactly the same bodies that were ours yesterday. A portion of their substance has been cast off and replaced by new. In the muscles, the bones, all the tissues which enter into our structure, particles which are worn out and can no longer subserve the purposes of life, are being taken up and passed in fluid form into the blood, by the circulation of which they are carried to those organs whose office it is to separate them from it and excrete, or throw them out of the system. These organs are the lungs, liver, kidneys, the lining membrane of the intestines and the external skin. This waste is made good by new particles, which are also carried by the blood to every minute portion of the body, wherever it circulates, and appropriated as they are needed. It is thus that food nutrifies and builds up the body after passing through the various processes of digestion, and being converted into blood. But the lungs act a not less important part in the animal economy as organs of nutrition, than the stomach. Atmospheric air is absolutely necessary to the continuance of life because a portion of its substance is being constantly taken into the system through the lungs, digested as it were, and assimilated. Without it a man can live but a very short time. When we consume air in this way we do not create a vacuum. We expire air from the lungs as often as we inspire it; but that which is expired is quite different in its nature from that which is inspired. The oxygen, that property of air, which contributes to the support of life, is removed in large degree, and the place supplied by a gas which has no nutritient qualities whatever. The atmosphere in its natural state is exactly adapted to the wants of man. That is, the different gases which make it up are mixed in just such proportion as is adapted when breathed by him to keep him alive and in health. For he cannot live and breathe pure oxygen. — It has to be diluted, and is mixed with a gas which seems neutral in its character, or to serve no other purpose than as a diluent. But the moment that the character of the air becomes changed it is unhealthful, and its unwholesomeness is in proportion to the change. If a person should go into a room filled with atmospheric air, and close it tightly, as soon as he had performed the act of respiration once, he would have changed the character of the air, but by no means to that degree that it would become changed in half an hour. He would gradually exhaust the oxygen till the quantity he could get by breathing would be too small to support life, and then he would die.HHTL 208.3

    Here is an explanation of much of the drowsiness, stupidity and headache felt in church gatherings, and the lassitude and exhausted feeling felt afterward. Men are blamed for sleeping in church when the atmosphere of the place absolutely forbids their keeping awake, for some constitutions and temperaments more than others, yield with readiness to this influence. Men and women blame themselves for stupidity and indifference in meeting, when the quality of their blood is such from lack of air that it is impossible for them to be attentive and interested. Ministers are criticised for lack of originality of thought, force and earnestness in the delivery of their sermons, when the condition of their brains is such, for want of oxygenation of the blood which passed through them, that clearness of thought cannot be had. No matter how talented a man my be abstractly, his mind and body are so related that while he goes directly counter to the laws which God has established for the sustainment of his body, it cannot be a good medium for his mind to operate through.HHTL 210.1

    It is almost impossible to find a well ventilated church. Intelligent congregations sit Sunday after Sunday in an atmosphere which it is a shame to breathe. And if they did not realize what they are doing, it would be absolutely wicked. Besides, it is filthy. From one to five hundred persons sit from two to three hours every Sabbath and breathe over and over again the impurities which are exhaled from each other’s lungs and skin, without an opening so large as a knitting needle to allow their escape from the room. There is great need of reform in this matter. It is very easy, if there is no other means of ventilation, to drop each window a few inches from the top, thus securing a free circulation of pure air all through the house. — I wish every minister in the country would preach one sermon on the sinfulness of abusing God’s gift of air, and then insist henceforward on having plenty of it to breathe during his public ministrations. By doing so he would remove one cause of ill health, and take a step toward teaching his people to honor God in their physical habits. — Letter Box, Jan., 1859.HHTL 210.2

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