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Manuscript Releases, vol. 16 [Nos. 1186-1235]

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    MR No. 1194—The Value of Health Reform in Our Homes and Institutions

    (Written August 5, 1892, from North Fitzroy, to Dr. J. H. Kellogg.)

    All that you have written in your last letter I read with great interest. That which you say in regard to the matter of physicians having professional badges, I fully endorse. Christian physicians need no badge except that of Christianity. The use of drugs is not in accordance with God's plan. Physicians should understand how to treat the sick through the use of nature's remedies. Pure air, pure water, healthful exercise, should be employed in the treatment of the sick.16MR 57.1

    On special occasions a great deal has been said in regard to the violation of the laws of health through indulgence of pernicious habits. But though a few have been burdened to speak of these things, many of the shepherds of the flock have failed to give plain warnings to those who were under their charge, who were ruining themselves through evil habits. They have not educated the ignorant, aroused the careless and inattentive to a sense of their responsibility to properly care for the body, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost. As a consequence of criminal neglect many have defiled themselves, and have imperiled their physical, mental, and moral being, and have brought upon themselves sickness, suffering, and death.16MR 57.2

    We have duties to perform toward all those with whom we associate, and those who claim to be Christ's delegated representatives are to watch for souls, knowing that they must give an account. Christ manifested a deep interest in suffering humanity. He was ever touched with human woe, and His true witnesses are to work as He worked. They are not to be heedless in regard to the important principles of health and life. The true minister is to educate and discipline himself, and to obtain knowledge as to how to keep himself in health. Then he will not be merely a novice, but an imparter of the knowledge which he has searched out and put into practical effect.16MR 57.3

    We are sorry to say that there are those who have barricaded themselves with their prejudices; they cling to their own habits and customs and practices, and persistently use their influence against health reform. By this class those who would follow the light God has given, are called narrow, bigoted, and fanatical. And many who hear them have not the moral courage to stand in defense of that which they know to be true and right. They know that a large class do not care to be reproved concerning their perverted appetites and ruinous indulgences. They do not wish to be stirred up on these points.16MR 58.1

    But shall we be silent? The sinner does not wish to have facts presented to him that condemn his practices, for he must either resist the pleadings of God through the human agent, or surrender his way and will to the ways and will of God. But although he does not desire to be warned, the work of warning goes on, that those who are spiritually sick, poor, blind, and naked, may be aroused to their condition. As we warn the spiritually lost, so continuous efforts must be put forth for the salvation of the slaves of appetite, and passion, and overwork.16MR 58.2

    Many indulge in unhealthful practices until the physical vitality is undermined, and the mental and moral powers are enfeebled. When they fall a prey to disease they resort to drugs, and if these afford them temporary relief, they seem to be satisfied to continue in transgression. They do not bring their habits and practices in review to see what is wrong, and correct the evils by removing the causes. As the drugs are a mere stimulant, after a time they realize that they are in a worse condition than before they used the remedies. To use drugs while continuing evil habits, is certainly inconsistent, and greatly dishonors God by dishonoring the body which He has made. Yet for all this, stimulants and drugs continue to be prescribed and freely used by human beings, while the hurtful indulgences that produced the disease are not discarded. They use tea, coffee, tobacco, opium, wine, beer, and other stimulants and give to nature a false support.16MR 58.3

    In the recovery of health, nature calls for our cooperation. We are to bring our habits of life into harmony with right principles; but if we continue to eat and drink and dress and work in violation of her laws, the time will surely come when the skill of the whole medical profession will not avail to restore us to health, or even to preserve life. Those who claim to be reformers, to be Bible Christians, above all others should eat and drink and work for the glory of God.16MR 59.1

    Those who are shepherds of the flock should impress upon the people the importance of acting upon right principles in eating, drinking, and dressing. They should warn the people to forsake every practice, restrain every appetite that endangers health and life. No teacher of truth should feel that his education is completed till he has studied the laws of health, and knows the bearing of right practices on the spiritual life. He should be qualified to speak to the people intelligently in regard to these things, and to set them an example that will give force to his words.16MR 59.2

    The teaching of correct habits is a part of the work of the gospel minister, and the minister will find many opportunities of instructing those with whom he comes in contact. As he visits from house to house, he should seek to understand the needs of the people, presenting right principles and giving instruction as to what is for their best good. To those who have a meager diet, he should suggest additions, and to those who live extravagantly, who load their tables with unnecessary and hurtful dishes, rich cakes, pastry and condiments, he should present the diet that is essential for health and conducive to spirituality.16MR 60.1

    Every organ has its function, and our Creator has pledged Himself to keep our organs in a healthful condition if we will obey the laws implanted in our nature. The laws governing the physical nature are as truly divine in their origin and character as the laws of the ten commandments. Man is fearfully and wonderfully made; for Jehovah has inscribed His law by His own mighty hand on every part of the physical structure. Many are sick who might be well if they would but cooperate with God, surrendering soul, body, and spirit to His control. For in order to have health, we must keep ourselves in harmony with God's law. To have clean hands and a pure heart is to have peace and contentment of mind, and this is conducive to health.16MR 60.2

    “Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit which are His.” In view of this fact, should not the principles of truth so transform the character of professed Christians that they should live as seeing Him who is invisible? This is the way that all those who are professing godliness should live. In every place they should act as the representatives of Jesus, knowing that an influence is going forth from them that will affect others. “Ye are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.”16MR 60.3

    Those who would be ensamples of self-denial, of cross bearing, of piety, of single-hearted devotion to God, will have to look well to their habits and their ways, lest by their works they contradict their faith and through their inconsistencies become a positive hindrance to others. They should constantly watch lest they lose confidence in themselves. When light and grace are imparted by the Lord, but not appreciated by those whom He would bless, they become self-indulgent, and please perverted appetite, and gratify passion. Moral force often resisted will finally lose its power to control, and self-respect is lost and confidence in God is shaken. The backslider hesitates to lay claim to the precious promises of the gospel, for he knows that every promise is fulfilled upon conditions, and that he has failed to meet the conditions. The Holy Spirit is grieved, and the rebellious one is left in the darkness that he has chosen.16MR 61.1

    Great light has been shining upon our pathway, not to be hidden under a bushel or under a bed. Through unjust business transactions and indulgence of passion, the light of the Christian burns dim. But God has given the light to be set high above sensuality in thought or action. Many lights burn low and go out for the want of the oil of grace. But let the Christian's life shine forth in clear, steady rays, illuminating the surrounding darkness. We cannot grow in grace until we purify our souls by obeying the truth. Obedience to the truth includes obedience to physical law.16MR 61.2

    Many transgress physical law, and seemingly pass on uninjured; but is it so? In truth God has spoken, “That which ye sow, ye shall also reap.” Disease of such a character will come upon the transgressor that he will be forced to admit that he is reaping the result of previous habits, which have weakened his power of resistance. When our churches plant their feet firmly upon the principles of health reform, and respect the physical [laws] which God hath instituted, they will stand where God will give them His grace, and will make them an influence for good upon the community in which they move.16MR 61.3

    Christ said, “I sanctify Myself that they also may be sanctified.” Those who follow His example will be men of power. They will be “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” Ignorance in regard to the subject of health and purity is sinful, and yet we are far behind the light that has been given. The strange abandonment of principles which should have a vital connection with physical health, is simply appalling. Instead of seeking for more knowledge on this subject, some seem to desire to stop every crevice through which light might come to them.16MR 62.1

    Parents have backslidden, and have instituted a warfare against health reform. Mothers suffer their children to eat irregularly and to dress unhealthfully, and through indulgence in unwholesome diet they are educating them for more pernicious things. Children and youth should not be underfed in the least degree; they should have an abundance of healthful food; but this does not mean that it is proper to place before them rich cakes and pastries. They should have the best of exercise, and the best food, for these have an important bearing upon the condition of the mental and moral power. A proper, wholesome diet will be one of the means whereby healthful digestion may be preserved.16MR 62.2

    Students should eat to live, not live to eat. Those who indulge in overeating will never develop into patient, deep-thinking students. Let the diet be simple, and after the meal let an hour's rest be taken in order that they may resume their studies with safety. By heeding this precaution students can accomplish more in one hour than they could in six through its neglect.16MR 63.1

    We have seen those who advocated health reform who made grave mistakes in the preparation of their food. Some prepared porridge for every meal, and insisted upon the students partaking of it in the school, or, when in charge of a family, compel the children to eat of this dish. But soft food is not always the best food for all persons. Some children have been forced by their parents to eat porridge when they loathed the very sight of it, and have been told that unless they ate the porridge, they could have neither fruit nor any other dish on the table. Such treatment will not help the children to understand the principles of health reform. That which is wholesome food for some is unpalatable and unwholesome for others. Why is it necessary to make a certain dish a staple article of diet when it is not grateful to the taste or beneficial to health? Why not vary the provision, and make a healthful and pleasant change? It is not just or wise to compel anyone to eat that which is distasteful.16MR 63.2

    Everything upon the table should be prepared in a way that will make it enjoyable. The table is not a place where rebellion should be cultivated in the children by some unreasonable course pursued by the parents. The whole family should eat with gladness, with gratitude, remembering that those who love and obey God will partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb in the kingdom of God, and Jesus Himself will serve them.16MR 63.3

    Let our institutions guard against employing those who are not skillful in the preparation of food. To prepare dishes that will recommend health reform requires tact and knowledge. There are some who are called good cooks who understand only how to prepare meat and vegetables and the general round of diet used in the world. But we need cooks who are educated in hygienic methods, so that they can prepare dishes that will be both palatable and wholesome. There is a great dearth of cooks of this character, and I know that many of our most precious, able men have died because of improper diet. There was placed upon their tables hot saleratus biscuits, and dishes of a similar character. The students in our schools should be educated so that they can prepare food in a tasteful, healthful manner. They should know how to make good, sweet, thoroughly baked bread; but it is not essential that they understand how to make a great variety of cake and be able to prepare knickknacks to tempt the appetite.16MR 64.1

    The science of cooking is an essential science in practical life, and this science must be taught in such a way that the poorer classes can be benefited. Simple articles of diet should be prepared in a simple manner and yet be found all the more palatable and wholesome because of their simplicity. In Australia the people depend almost solely on baker's bread, and meat is used at breakfast, dinner, and supper. So baker's bread, meat, fruits, and vegetables generally compose the diet of the people. Now, if the health reform diet is presented to them in such a way that they think it will cost more money, time, and labor than the diet to which they are accustomed, I fear we shall make very poor headway in correcting their habits. What we need here is the labor of persons who have a knowledge of practical and domestic economy, who can instruct as to how to prepare a simple, nutritious, palatable diet for the common people.16MR 64.2

    Those who are employed as teachers should become intelligent in regard to the philosophy of health, that they may know how to preserve their own health, and to help others. Through the overloading of digestive organs the brain is made to suffer. When a great variety of food is taken into the stomach at one meal, the result is that there is confusion of thought, inability to retain ideas, or to understand instruction. Many teachers and pupils, for this cause, feel that they are overworked. But their overwork was caused by the unnecessary burden of food which was placed upon the stomach, and which taxed the entire forces of the system. When teachers are in this condition they are in danger of making unwise decisions, which do much harm. Through the overloading of the digestive organs, the teacher becomes dyspeptic, and manifests impatience toward the pupils.16MR 65.1

    If there is any institution on the face of the earth where the principles of health reform should be practiced, it is in a college boarding house or a sanitarium. If the diet of students and teachers is composed largely of meat, their health will suffer in a disastrous way. A gross diet will dull the comprehension and set the animal passions into activity. The animal nature will struggle for victory over the moral and spiritual nature.16MR 65.2

    Professional men cannot afford to disregard the laws of their own being, for it will not only injure themselves but do injustice to those who are placed in their care. Physicians are guardians of the sick, pledged before God to make the most of their God-given ability to meet the responsibility placed upon them. Every talent entrusted should be guarded as a precious treasure. To use up all the strength we have, and leave nothing from which to draw in times of emergency, is the height of folly. Matters will be forced upon the attention unexpectedly which cannot be set aside, and unless the physician has complete control of himself he will make serious blunders, which he can never remedy. When the physical power is lowered, self is more likely to exhibit itself, and through an unadvised word or an impatient manner souls may be turned aside from the path of right.16MR 65.3

    Physicians and teachers should ever be upon their guards, and students should not be stuffed and crowded in their studies in such a way as to leave no time for the study of the Bible or meditation and prayer. The great Teacher can prepare minds and hearts by His Holy Spirit for the highest kind of attainment.16MR 66.1

    In selecting teachers for our schools we should use every precaution, knowing that it is as solemn a matter as selecting men for the ministry. Let wise men who can discern character make the selection, choosing those who are calm and kind, who have the love of God in their hearts, for in every sense teachers are to be missionaries. Their course of action, like that of teachers in the Sabbath school, should tend to the winning of their pupils to Jesus. If teachers have not love in their hearts, they will give a wrong mold to the character of their pupils. Kindness and love will induce obedience where arbitrary authority, strict rules, and an overbearing, commanding manner will work utter failure in the management of pupils.16MR 66.2

    Christian consistency should be manifested toward your children in the home and in the church, in a pleasant, courteous manner. To place over young children in a church school teachers who are proud and unloving, is wicked. A teacher of this stamp will do more harm to those who are just developing character than all the influence of one of a different character can counteract. If the teacher is not submissive to God, and has not love for the children over whom he presides, he should be dismissed. Or if he shows partiality to those who please his fancy and manifests indifference to those who are less attractive, to those who are restless and nervous, he should not be employed, for the result of his work will be a loss of souls to Christ.16MR 66.3

    Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost, but teachers do not always follow His example. They do not manifest love and forbearance to the very ones who most need it. Do not place teachers over the young who have no managing ability, for their efforts will tend to disorganization. Those who have mental resources and physical energies, who are well balanced by the grace of God, and can bring all their qualifications into active, practical use, relying wholly upon God, can be a power for good in our schools. The influence of this class will be as lasting as eternity.—Letter 19, 1892.16MR 67.1

    Ellen G. White Estate

    Washington, D. C.,

    May 1, 1986.

    Entire Letter.