As God does nothing in vain, it is reasonable to believe that these faculties were made to be exercised. According the Sacred Record informs us that when the Creator had formed man, he took him and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Genesis 2:15. SLH 47.3

Physical labor was appointed before the fall, and must have been designed to meet the wants of men. The organization of man is such that he needs to exercise his working faculties; and he cannot neglect to do this without sustaining a loss. It does not require a labored argument to prove this. Reason, common sense and experience teach that the digestive organs demand the exercise of the working powers, and that proper physical exercise helps in conveying the nutritive properties of food into the different parts of the system, and in imparting vigor, strength, and health to the body and the mind. Hence as a general thing, the laboring classes, especially those who exercise out of doors, are stronger physically, and enjoy better health, than persons of sedentary habits. SLH 47.4

But notwithstanding this, it is a lamentable fact that there is in the masses of the present age, an inclination to shun physical labor. It is by many considered a disgrace to engage in manual labor or other physical exercise. Many would be ashamed to be seen working with their hands as old-fashioned people used to do. And strange to say that in many instances even those who have labored hard to get above want, will partake of this spirit and encourage the same in their children. Under this influence children think that they cannot be gentlemen and ladies if they work physically, and they will either spend their time in idleness, and grow up as it were in the shade, without getting the power of endurance, and without obtaining the experience they so much need, and which would prove a blessing to themselves and to others; or they will select a vacation that does not require physical exertion, but calls into exercise the mental faculties. Some of these delicate children are encouraged to engage in literary pursuits. They are perhaps told that it will be better for their health. They engage in their studies, overtax the mind, and are very careful to exercise as little as possible with their physical powers. The result is that some die before they have completed their studies, and not a few of those who gain their object are left with shattered nerves and a ruined constitution. And how much benefit and comfort can they derive from all their knowledge? It is of but little use to them, and they lack the very thing they need to communicate it to others, vis., vigor and strength of body and mind. SLH 48.1

In the name of reason and Scripture, we enter our protest against such a spirit and such a course. We would not lightly esteem knowledge, or discourage in others a desire to pursue proper studies. Let useful knowledge be eagerly pursued and cherished. But the most useful knowledge is that which pertains to our duty, and we cannot understand our whole duty unless we have a certain knowledge of the nature and functions of the prominent faculties of our beings and the relations they sustain to each other. Let the mind be cultivated, but let not the body be neglected. In order that we may excel in the study of any subject and advance in knowledge, it is necessary that we possess health and vigor of mind. Now the health of the mind depends much on that of the body, and physical exercise assists in promoting the health of the body. Hence the greatest and most useful men that have lived have been careful to cultivate and exercise their physical faculties. SLH 49.1

Ashamed to labor physically, while physical labor is appointed by the Creator, and is so beneficial to man! It would be far better to be ashamed of the least inclination to shun physical labor, and of the shameful consequences resulting from idleness. Better be ashamed of leaving the way marked out by God and approved by reason and experience, to pursue a course opposed to God, reason, and common sense, and destructive of health and happiness. SLH 49.2

Those who think it a disgrace to labor with their hands would doubtless be ashamed of Christ, and many holy men and women spoken of in the Scriptures; for they engaged in manual labor. Christ was a carpenter, and we understand that this was one reason why the Jews were offended at him. They said, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary? .... And they were offended at him.” Mark 6:3. SLH 50.1

The great apostle to the Gentiles was a tent-maker, and was not ashamed to work with his hands. Physical labor was not a hindrance to him in his work, but rather made him more successful in advancing the cause of truth. As he labored with his hands, or traveled on foot in imitation of the example of his divine Master before him, he showed that he was actuated by unselfish principles, set an example for his brethren to follow, and had the satisfaction that he did what he could to supply his wants and the wants of others. He could say, I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yes, ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” “For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail; for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable to any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.” “Neither did we eat any man’s bread for naught; but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: not because we had not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” Acts 20:33-35; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 9. SLH 50.2

When man had fallen, God cursed the earth, thus making it necessary for man to labor more to maintain his existence. The solemn mandate from God was, “Cursed is the earth for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it, all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat of the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground.” Genesis 3:17-19. SLH 51.1

This judgment was mixed with mercy. It was a blessing to man that God added to his labor after he sinned. As man labored in the sweat of his face, he would be more apt to remember his shameful fall, and would be less inclined to devise and practice wickedness. On the same principle it is wiser for people now to labor than to remain in idleness. If children generally were taught to delight more in manual labor, their minds would not be so liable to wander from the path of virtue, and they would be more easily kept from pursuing a course that has ruined thousands of promising children and youth, and brought so many parents and guardians to shame. SLH 51.2

And would not the same principle work well with older persons who do not love industrious labor? Think of the base and enormous crimes which are practiced in this generation to avoid labor. Think of the extremes to which many go in speculation. To many of this class the following good advice of Paul would apply well: “Let him that sole, steal no more, but rather let him labor working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” Ephesians 4:28. SLH 51.3

Idleness and effeminacy are forbidden, while labor and industry are encouraged, by the word of God. Paul exhorted his brethren to not be slothful in business, to learn to maintain good works (or profess honest trades, margin,) that they be not unfruitful, and commanded that if any man would not work neither should he eat. Romans 12:11; Titus 3:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:10. He also declared that no effeminate shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9. SLH 52.1

Says Solomon, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son; but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” “The soul of the sluggard desireth and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.” “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold: therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.” “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and lo, it was all grown over with thorns; and nettles had covered the face thereof; and the stone-wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well: I looked upon it and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth; and thy want as an armed man.” Proverbs 10:4, 5; 3:4; 19:15; 20:4; 24:30-34. SLH 52.2

Solomon’s advice to the sluggard is as follows: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise; which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?” Proverbs 11:6-9. SLH 52.3

Ezekiel 16:49, 50. “Behold this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before me; therefore I took them away, as I saw good.” SLH 53.1

The above scripture supports the oft-repeated saying that a lazy person cannot be a Christian. He that is indolent and slack in temporal matters, is liable to be so in spiritual matters. He is not fully prepared to plow through the hardships connected with the Christian warfare, and cannot be successful in overcoming. SLH 53.2

It is a source of encouragement to those who labor with their hands, that they can with industrious labor act an important part in advancing the cause of their Master. But pains should be taken to not overtax the body. While proper physical exercise is strengthening and invigorating to the body and the mind, excessive physical labor exhausts the physical and mental energies and unfits us to engage in the worship of God. SLH 53.3

The idea that we are living near the end does not constitute a sufficient reason to refrain from labor, as some have contended. It is rather a strong motive to induce us to do that which is conducive to our present well being, and helps forward the cause of truth. We should not labor and plan to lay up treasures on earth; but we should labor and plan with reference to the end near, and to push forward the solemn work of the last message. Is health a blessing to be prized, and is it our duty to do what we can to preserve it? Then should we exercise our working faculties. Will the saints in the future state possess literal bodies, and strong physical powers to be used in performing delightsome and is it a fact that the future state is soon to be ushered in? Then is it reasonable and consistent to cherish physical labor, and exercise the working faculties here. SLH 53.4