Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1


Chapter 85—The Health Reform

In the vision given me in Rochester, New York, December 25, 1865, I was shown that our Sabbathkeeping people have been negligent in acting upon the light which God has given in regard to the health reform, that there is yet a great work before us, and that as a people we have been too backward to follow in God's opening providence as He has chosen to lead us. 1T 485.2

I was shown that the work of health reform has scarcely been entered upon yet. While some feel deeply and act out their faith in the work, others remain indifferent and have scarcely taken the first step in reform. There seems to be in them a heart of unbelief, and, as this reform restricts the lustful appetite, many shrink back. They have other gods before the Lord. Their taste, their appetite, is their god; and when the ax is laid at the root of the tree and those who have indulged their depraved appetites at the expense of health are touched, their sin pointed out, their idols shown them, they do not wish to be convinced; and although God's voice should speak directly to them to put away those health-destroying indulgences, some would still cling to the hurtful things which they love. They seem joined to their idols, and God will soon say to His angels: Let them alone. 1T 486.1

The health reform, I was shown, is a part of the third angel's message and is just as closely connected with it as are the arm and hand with the human body. I saw that we as a people must make an advance move in this great work. Ministers and people must act in concert. God's people are not prepared for the loud cry of the third angel. They have a work to do for themselves which they should not leave for God to do for them. He has left this work for them to do. It is an individual work; one cannot do it for another. “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.” Gluttony is the prevailing sin of this age. Lustful appetite makes slaves of men and women, and beclouds their intellects and stupefies their moral sensibilities to such a degree that the sacred, elevated truths of God's word are not appreciated. The lower propensities have ruled men and women. 1T 486.2

In order to be fitted for translation, the people of God must know themselves. They must understand in regard to their own physical frames that they may be able with the psalmist to exclaim: “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” They should ever have the appetite in subjection to the moral and intellectual organs. The body should be servant to the mind, and not the mind to the body. 1T 486.3

I was shown that there is a much greater work before us than we as yet have any idea of, if we would ensure health by placing ourselves in the right relation to life. Dr. A has been doing a great and good work in the treatment of disease and in enlightening those who have all their lives been in ignorance in regard to the relation that eating, drinking, and working sustain to health. God in His mercy has given His people light through His humble instrument that in order to overcome disease they must deny a depraved appetite and practice temperance in all things. He has caused great light to shine upon their pathway. Shall those who are “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” be behind the religionists of the day who have no faith in the soon appearing of our Saviour? The peculiar people whom He is purifying unto Himself to be translated to heaven without seeing death, should not be behind others in good works. In their efforts to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, they should be as far ahead of any other class of people on the earth as their profession is more exalted than that of others. 1T 487.1

Some have sneered at this work of reform and have said it was all unnecessary, that it was an excitement to divert minds from present truth. They have said that matters were being carried to extremes. Such do not know what they are talking about. While men and women professing godliness are diseased from the crown of their head to the soles of their feet, while their physical, mental, and moral energies are enfeebled through gratification of depraved appetite and excessive labor, how can they weigh the evidences of truth and comprehend the requirements of God? If their moral and intellectual faculties are beclouded, they cannot appreciate the value of the atonement or the exalted character of the work of God, nor delight in the study of His word. How can a nervous dyspeptic be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him, with meekness and fear? How soon would such a one become confused and agitated, and by his diseased imagination be led to view matters in altogether a wrong light, and by a lack of that meekness and calmness which characterized the life of Christ be caused to dishonor his profession while contending with unreasonable men? Viewing matters from a high religious standpoint, we must be thorough reformers in order to be Christlike. 1T 487.2

I saw that our heavenly Father has bestowed upon us the great blessing of light upon the health reform that we may obey the claims which He has upon us and glorify Him in our bodies and spirits which are His and finally stand without fault before the throne of God. Our faith requires us to elevate the standard and take advance steps. While many question the course pursued by other health reformers, they as reasonable men should do something themselves. Our race is in a deplorable condition, suffering from disease of every description. Many have inherited disease and are great sufferers because of the wrong habits of their parents, and yet they pursue the same wrong course in regard to themselves and their children which was pursued toward them. They are ignorant in regard to themselves. They are sick and do not know that their own wrong habits are causing them immense suffering. 1T 488.1

There are but few as yet who are aroused sufficiently to understand how much their habits of diet have to do with their health, their characters, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny. I saw that it is the duty of those who have received the light from heaven and have realized the benefit of walking in it, to manifest a greater interest for those who are still suffering for want of knowledge. Sabbathkeepers who are looking for the soon appearing of their Saviour should be the last to manifest a lack of interest in this great work of reform. Men and women must be instructed, and ministers and people should feel that the burden of the work rests upon them to agitate the subject and urge it home upon others. 1T 488.2

I was shown that we should provide a home for the afflicted and those who wish to learn how to take care of their bodies that they may prevent sickness. We should not remain indifferent and compel those who are sick and desirous of living out the truth to go to popular water cure institutions for the recovery of health, where there is no sympathy for our faith. If they recover health it may be at the expense of their religious faith. Those who have suffered greatly from bodily infirmities are weak both mentally and morally. As they realize the benefit derived from the correct application of water, the right use of air, and a proper diet, they are led to believe that the physicians who understood how to treat them so successfully cannot be greatly at fault in their religious faith; that as they are engaged in the great and good work of benefiting suffering humanity, they must be nearly or quite right. And thus our people are in danger of being ensnared through their efforts to recover health at these establishments. 1T 489.1

Again I was shown that those who are strongly fortified with religious principles and are firm to obey all God's requirements cannot receive that benefit from the popular health institutions of the day that others of a different faith can. Sabbathkeepers are singular in their faith. To keep all God's commandments as He requires them to do in order to be owned and approved of Him is exceedingly difficult in a popular water cure. They have to carry along with them at all times the gospel sieve and sift everything they hear, that they may choose the good and refuse the bad. 1T 489.2

The water cure establishment at —— has been the best institution in the United States. Its managers have been doing a great and good work as far as the treatment of disease is concerned. Yet we cannot have confidence in their religious principles. While they profess to be Christians, they recommend to their patients card playing, dancing, and attending theaters, all of which have a tendency to evil, or, to say the very least, have the appearance of evil, and are directly contrary to the teachings of Christ and His apostles. Conscientious Sabbathkeepers who visit these institutions for the purpose of regaining health cannot receive the benefit they would if they were not obliged to keep themselves constantly guarded lest they compromise their faith, dishonor the cause of their Redeemer, and bring their own souls into bondage. 1T 490.1

I was shown that Sabbathkeepers should open a way for those of like precious faith to be benefited without their being under the necessity of expending their means at institutions where their faith and religious principles are endangered, and where they can find no sympathy or union in religious matters. God in His providence directed the course of Dr. B to —— that he might there obtain an experience he would not otherwise have gained, for He had a work for him to do in the health reform. As a practicing physician he had for years been obtaining a knowledge of the human system, and God would now have him by precept and practice learn how to apply the blessings placed within the reach of man. He would have him become prepared to benefit the sick and instruct those who do not understand how to preserve the strength and health they already have, and how to prevent disease by a wise use of heaven's remedies—pure water, air, and diet. 1T 490.2

I was shown that Dr. B was a cautious and strictly conscientious man, a man whom God loves. He has passed through many trials which have worked for his good, although while passing through them he could not at all times see how he was to be benefited by them. Dr. B is not a man who will become exalted while he believes the truth and follows in its path. He is not a man who will be arbitrary or overbearing. He is too fearful of putting on that dignity which his position would allow him to maintain. He will counsel with others and is easy to be entreated; his great danger will be a willingness to take on burdens which he ought not to bear. He sees and feels what ought to be done, and will be in danger of doing too much. He is extremely sensitive and sympathetic, and will feel to the very depth for all his patients; and if he is permitted, will carry so heavy a load of responsibility as to be crushed under its weight. 1T 491.1

Men and women of influence should help Brother B by their prayers, their sympathy, their hearty cooperation, their cheering, hopeful words, and their counsel and advice—all of which will be appreciated by him. His position cannot be an enviable one. If he assumes so great responsibilities it will not be from choice or to obtain a livelihood, for he can procure this in a much easier way and avoid the care, anxiety, and perplexity which such a position would bring upon him. Duty alone will lead him; and when once convinced where the path of duty lies, he will follow it and stand at his post, let the consequences be what they may. He should have the sympathy and co-operation of those who have influence, those whom God would have stand by his side and sustain him in his laborious work. 1T 491.2

Dr. B could, so far as this world is concerned, do better than in the position he now occupies. I was shown that this position would be most difficult. Many who have no experience would have no idea of the magnitude of the enterprise and would want things to go according to their ideas. Some would wonder why the poor could not come and be treated for nothing, and would be tempted to think that it was a money-making enterprise after all; and this one and that one would wish to have something to say, and would have just about so much fault to find, let matters go as they might; for I was shown that some would consider it a virtue to be jealous and stand out and oppose. They pride themselves on not receiving everything just as soon as it comes. Like Thomas, they boast of their unbelief. But did Jesus commend unbelieving Thomas? While granting him the evidence he had declared that he would have before believing, Jesus said unto him: “Thomas because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” 1T 491.3

I was shown that there is no lack of means among Sabbathkeeping Adventists. At present their greatest danger is in their accumulations of property. Some are continually increasing their cares and labors; they are overcharged. The result is, God and the wants of His cause are nearly forgotten by them; they are spiritually dead. They are required to make a sacrifice to God, an offering. A sacrifice does not increase, but decreases and consumes. Here, I was shown, was a worthy enterprise for God's people to engage in, one in which they can invest means to His glory and the advancement of His cause. Much of the means among our people is only proving an injury to those who are holding on to it. 1T 492.1

Our people should have an institution of their own, under their own control, for the benefit of the diseased and suffering among us who wish to have health and strength that they may glorify God in their bodies and spirits, which are His. Such an institution, rightly conducted, would be the means of bringing our views before many whom it would be impossible for us to reach by the common course of advocating the truth. As unbelievers shall resort to an institution devoted to the successful treatment of disease and conducted by Sabbathkeeping physicians, they will be brought directly under the influence of the truth. By becoming acquainted with our people and our real faith, their prejudice will be overcome and they will be favorably impressed. By thus being placed under the influence of truth, some will not only obtain relief from bodily infirmities, but will find a healing balm for their sin-sick souls. 1T 492.2

As the health of invalids improves under judicious treatment, and they begin to enjoy life, they have confidence in those who have been instrumental in their restoration to health. Their hearts are filled with gratitude, and the good seed of truth will the more readily find a lodgment there and in some cases will be nourished, spring up, and bear fruit to the glory of God. One such precious soul saved will be worth more than all the means needed to establish such an institution. Some will not have enough moral courage to yield to their convictions. They may be convinced that Sabbathkeepers have the truth, but the world and unbelieving relatives stand in the way of their receiving it. They cannot bring their minds to the point to sacrifice all for Christ. Yet some of this last-mentioned class will go away with their prejudice removed and will stand as defenders of the faith of Seventh-day Adventists. Some who go away restored or greatly benefited will be the means of introducing our faith in new places and raising the standard of truth where it would have been impossible to gain access had not prejudice been first removed from minds by a tarry among our people for the object of gaining health. 1T 493.1

Others will prove a source of trial as they go to their homes. Yet this should not discourage any or hinder them in their efforts in this good work. Satan and his agents will do all they can to hinder, to perplex, and to bring burdens upon those who heartily engage in the work of advancing this reform. 1T 493.2

There is a liberal supply of means among our people, and if all felt the importance of the work, this great enterprise could be carried forward without embarrassment. All should feel a special interest in sustaining it. Especially should those who have means invest in this enterprise. A suitable home should be fitted up for the reception of invalids that they may, by the use of proper means and the blessing of God, be relieved of their infirmities and learn how to take care of themselves and thus prevent sickness. 1T 494.1

Many who profess the truth are growing close and covetous. They need to be alarmed for themselves. They have so much of their treasure upon the earth that their hearts are on their treasure. Much the larger share of their treasure is in this world and but little in heaven; therefore their affections are placed on earthly possessions instead of on the heavenly inheritance. There is now a good opportunity for them to use their means for the benefit of suffering humanity and also for the advancement of the truth. This enterprise should never be left to struggle in poverty. These stewards to whom God has entrusted means should now come up to the work and use their means to His glory. To those who through covetousness withhold their means, it will prove a curse rather than a blessing. 1T 494.2

Those to whom God has entrusted means should provide a fund to be used for the benefit of the worthy poor who are sick and not able to defray the expenses of receiving treatment at the institution. There are some precious, worthy poor whose influence has been a benefit to the cause of God. A fund should be raised to be used for the express purpose of treating such of the poor as the church where they reside shall decide are worthy to be benefited. Unless those who have an abundance give for this object, without calling for returns, the poor will be unable to avail themselves of the benefits derived from the treatment of disease at such an institution, where so much means is required for labor bestowed. Such an institution should not in its infancy, while struggling to live, become embarrassed by a constant expenditure of means without realizing any returns. 1T 494.3