Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1


Chapter 87—Recreation for Christians

I was shown that Sabbathkeepers as a people labor too hard without allowing themselves change or periods of rest. Recreation is needful to those who are engaged in physical labor and is still more essential for those whose labor is principally mental. It is not essential to our salvation, nor for the glory of God, to keep the mind laboring constantly and excessively, even upon religious themes. There are amusements, such as dancing, card playing, chess, checkers, etc., which we cannot approve, because Heaven condemns them. These amusements open the door for great evil. They are not beneficial in their tendency, but have an exciting influence, producing in some minds a passion for those plays which lead to gambling and dissipation. All such plays should be condemned by Christians, and something perfectly harmless should be substituted in their place. 1T 514.1

I saw that our holidays should not be spent in patterning after the world, yet they should not be passed by unnoticed, for this will bring dissatisfaction to our children. On these days when there is danger that our children will be exposed to evil influences, and become corrupted by the pleasures and excitement of the world, let the parents study to get up something to take the place of more dangerous amusements. Give your children to understand that you have their good and happiness in view. 1T 514.2

Let several families living in a city or village unite and leave the occupations which have taxed them physically and mentally, and make an excursion into the country to the side of a fine lake or to a nice grove where the scenery of nature is beautiful. They should provide themselves with plain, hygienic food, the very best fruits and grains, and spread their table under the shade of some tree or under the canopy of heaven. The ride, the exercise, and the scenery will quicken the appetite, and they can enjoy a repast which kings might envy. 1T 514.3

On such occasions parents and children should feel free from care, labor, and perplexity. Parents should become children with their children, making everything as pleasant for them as possible. Let the whole day be given to recreation. Exercise in the open air for those whose employment has been withindoors and sedentary will be beneficial to health. All who can, should feel it a duty to pursue this course. Nothing will be lost, but much gained. They can return to their occupations with new life and new courage to engage in their labor with zeal, and they are better prepared to resist disease. 1T 515.1

I saw that but few realize the constant, wearing labor of those who are bearing the responsibilities of the work in the office. They are confined withindoors day after day and week after week, while a constant strain upon the mental powers is surely undermining their constitutions and lessening their hold on life. These brethren are in danger of breaking suddenly. They are not immortal, and without a change they must wear out and be lost to the work. 1T 515.2

We have precious gifts in Brethren A, B, and C. We cannot afford to have them ruin their health through close confinement and incessant toil. Where can we find men with their experience to supply their places? Two of these brethren have been fourteen years connected with the work in the office, laboring earnestly, conscientiously, and unselfishly for the advancement of the cause of God. They have had scarcely any variation except what fevers and other sickness have given them. They should have a change frequently, should often devote a day wholly to recreation with their families, who are almost entirely deprived of their society. All may not be able to leave the work at the same time; but they should so arrange their work that one or two may go, leaving others to supply their places, and then let these in their turn have the same opportunity. 1T 515.3

I saw that these brethren, A, B, and C, should as a religious duty take care of the health and strength which God has given them. The Lord does not require them just now to become martyrs to His cause. They will obtain no reward for making this sacrifice, for God wants them to live. They can serve the cause of present truth far better by their lives than by their death. If any one of these brethren should be suddenly prostrated by disease, no one should regard it as a direct judgment from the Lord. It will be only the sure result of the violation of nature's laws. They should take heed to the warning given, lest they transgress and have to suffer the heavy penalty. 1T 515.4

I saw that these brethren could benefit the cause of God by attending, as often as practicable, convocation meetings at a distance from their place of labor. The work committed to them is important, and they need healthy nerves and brains; but it is impossible for their minds to be enlivened and invigorated as God would have them, while they are incessantly confined at the office. I was shown that it would be a benefit to the cause at large for these men, standing at the head of the work at Battle Creek, to become acquainted with their brethren abroad by associating with them in meeting. It will give the brethren abroad confidence in those who are bearing the responsibilities of the work, and will relieve these brethren of the taxation upon the brain, and will make them better acquainted with the progress of the work and the wants of the cause. It will enliven their hope, renew their faith, and increase their courage. Time thus taken will not be lost, but will be spent to the very best advantage. These brethren have qualities which render them in the highest degree capable of enjoying social life. They would enjoy their stay at the homes of brethren abroad, and would benefit and be benefited by interchange of thought and views. 1T 516.1

Especially do I appeal to Brother C to change his course of life. He cannot exercise as others in the office can. Indoor, sedentary employment is preparing him for a sudden breakdown. He cannot always do as he has done. He must spend more time in the open air, having periods of light labor of some special nature, or exercise of a pleasant, recreative character. Such confinement as he has imposed upon himself would break down the constitution of the strongest animal. It is cruel, it is wicked, a sin against himself, against which I raise my voice in warning. Brother C, more of your time must be spent in the open air, in riding or in pleasant exercise, or you must die, your wife become a widow, and your children, who love you so much, become orphans. Brother C is qualified to edify others in the exposition of the word. He can serve the cause of God and benefit himself by going out to the large gatherings of Sabbathkeepers and bearing his testimony for the edification of those who are privileged to hear him. This change would bring him more out of doors, into the open air. His blood flows sluggishly through his veins for want of the vivifying air of heaven. He has done well his part in the work at the office, but still he has needed the electrifying influence of pure air and sunlight out of doors to make his work still more spiritual and enlivening. 1T 516.2

June 5, 1863, I was shown that my husband should preserve his strength and health, for God had yet a great work for us to do. In His providence we had obtained an experience in this work from its very commencement, and thus our labors would be of greater account to His cause. I saw that my husband's constant and excessive labor was exhausting his fund of strength, which God would have him preserve; that if he continued to overtask his physical and mental energies as he had been doing, he would be using up his future resources of strength and exhausting the capital, and would break down prematurely, and the cause of God would be deprived of his labor. Much of the time he was performing labor connected with the office which others might do, or was engaged in business transactions which he should avoid. God would have us both reserve our strength to be used when specially required to do that work which others could not do, and for which He has raised us up, preserved our lives, and given us a valuable experience; in this way we could be a benefit to His people. 1T 517.1

I did not make this public, because it was given specially to us. If this caution had been fully heeded, the affliction under which my husband has been so great a sufferer would have been saved. The work of God was urgent and seemed to allow of no relaxation or separation from it. My husband seemed compelled to constant, wearing labor. Anxiety for his brethren liable to the draft, and also concerning the rebellion in Iowa, kept his mind continually strained, and the physical energies were utterly exhausted. Instead of his having relief, burdens never pressed heavier; and care, instead of lessening, was trebled. But there certainly was a way of escape, or God would not have given the caution He did and would not have permitted him to break down under the taxation. I saw that had he not been specially sustained by God he would have realized the prostration of his physical and mental powers much sooner than he did. 1T 518.1

When God speaks, He means what He says. When He cautions, it becomes those noticed to take heed. The reason why I now speak publicly is that the same caution which was given to my husband has been given to others connected with the office. I saw that unless they change their course of action, they are just as liable to be stricken down as was my husband. I am not willing that others should suffer as he has done. But that which is most to be dreaded is, they would be lost for a time to the cause and work of God, when the help and influence of all are so much needed. 1T 518.2

Those connected with the office cannot endure the amount of care and labor that my husband has borne for years. They have not the constitution, the capital to draw upon, which my husband had. They can never endure the perplexities and the constant, wearing labor which have come upon him and which he has borne for twenty years. I cannot endure the thought that any in the office should sacrifice strength and health through excessive labor, so that their usefulness should prematurely end and they be unable to work in the vineyard of the Lord. It is not merely the gatherers of the fruit that are the essential laborers; all who assist in digging about the plants, watering, pruning, and lifting up the drooping, trailing vines, and leading their tendrils to entwine about the true trellis, the sure support, are workmen who cannot be spared. 1T 518.3

The brethren in the office feel that they cannot leave the work for a few days for a change, for recreation; but this is a mistake. They can and should do so. Even if there were not as much accomplished, it would be better to leave for a few days than to be prostrated by disease and be separated from the work for months, and perhaps never be able to engage in it again. 1T 519.1

My husband thought it wrong for him to spend time in social enjoyment. He could not afford to rest. He thought that the work in the office would suffer if he should. But after the blow fell upon him, causing physical and mental prostration, the work had to be carried on without him. I saw that the brethren engaged in the responsible labor in the office should work upon a different plan and make their arrangements to have change. If more help is needed, obtain it, and let relief come to those who are suffering from constant confinement and brain labor. They should attend convocation meetings. They need to throw off care, share the hospitality of their brethren, and enjoy their society and the blessings of the meetings. They will thus receive fresh thoughts, and their wearied energies will be awakened to new life, and they will return to the work far better qualified to perform their part, for they will better understand the wants of the cause. 1T 519.2

Brethren abroad, are you asleep to this matter? Must your hearts be made faint by the fall of another of God's workmen, whom you love? These men are the property of the church. Will you suffer them to die under the burdens? I appeal to you to advise a different order of things. I pray God that the bitter experience that has come upon us may never be allowed to come to any one of the brethren in the office. Especially do I commend Brother C to your care. Shall he die for want of air, the vitalizing air of heaven? The course he is pursuing is really shortening his life. Through his confinement indoors his blood is becoming foul and sluggish, the liver is deranged, the action of the heart is not right. Unless he works a change for himself, nature will take the work into her own hands. She will make a grand attempt to relieve the system by expelling the impurities from the blood. She will summon all the vital powers to work, and the whole organism will be deranged, and all this may end in paralysis or apoplexy. If he should ever recover from this crisis, his loss of time would be great; but the probabilities of recovery are very small. If Brother C cannot be aroused, I advise you, brethren, who have an interest in the cause of present truth, to take him, as Luther was taken by his friends, and carry him away from his work. 1T 520.1

Since writing the above, I learn that most of Thoughts on the Revelation, was written in the night, after the author's day's work was done. This was the course which my husband pursued; I protest against such suicide. The brethren whom I have mentioned, who are so closely confined in the office, would be serving the cause of God by attending meetings and taking periods of recreation. They would be preserving physical health and mental strength in the best condition to devote to the work. They should not be left to feel crippled because they are not earning wages. Their wages should go on and they be free. They are doing a great work. 1T 520.2