Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1


Chapter 110—The Health Institute

In former numbers of Testimonies for the Church I have spoken of the importance of Seventh-day Adventists’ establishing an institution for the benefit of the sick, especially for the suffering and sick among us. I have spoken of the ability of our people, in point of means, to do this; and have urged that, in view of the importance of this branch of the great work of preparation to meet the Lord with gladness of heart, our people should feel themselves called upon, according to their ability, to put a portion of their means into such an institution. I have also pointed out, as they were shown to me, some of the dangers to which physicians, managers, and others would be exposed in the prosecution of such an enterprise; and I did hope that the dangers shown me would be avoided. In this, however, I enjoyed hope for a time, only to suffer disappointment and grief. 1T 633.1

I had taken great interest in the health reform and had high hopes of the prosperity of the Health Institute. I felt, as no other one could feel, the responsibility of speaking to my brethren and sisters in the name of the Lord concerning this institution and their duty to furnish necessary means, and I watched the progress of the work with intense interest and anxiety. When I saw those who managed and directed, running into the dangers shown me, of which I had warned them in public and also in private conversation and letters, a terrible burden came upon me. That which had been shown me as a place where the suffering sick among us could be helped was one where sacrifice, hospitality, faith, and piety should be the ruling principles. But when unqualified calls were made for large sums of money, with the statement that stock taken would pay large per cent; when the brethren who occupied positions in the institution seemed more than willing to take larger wages than those were satisfied with who filled other and equally important stations in the great cause of truth and reform; when I learned, with pain, that, in order to make the institution popular with those not of our faith and to secure their patronage, a spirit of compromise was rapidly gaining ground at the Institute, manifested in the use of Mr., Miss, and Mrs., instead of Brother and Sister, and in popular amusements, in which all could engage in a sort of comparatively innocent frolic—when I saw these things, I said: This is not that which was shown me as an institution for the sick which would share the signal blessing of God. This is another thing. 1T 633.2

And yet calculations for more extensive buildings were made, and calls for large sums of money were urged. As it was then managed, I could but regard the Institute, on the whole, as a curse. Although some were benefited healthwise, the influence on the church at Battle Creek and upon brethren and sisters who visited the Institute was so bad as to overbalance all the good that was done; and this influence was reaching churches in this and other states, and was terribly destructive to faith in God and in the present truth. Several who came to Battle Creek humble, devoted, confiding Christians, went away almost infidels. The general influence of these things was creating prejudice against the health reform in very many of the most humble, the most devoted, and the best of our brethren, and was destroying faith in my Testimonies and in the present truth. 1T 634.1

It was this state of matters relative to the health reform and the Health Institute, with which other things were brought to bear, that made it my duty to speak as I did in Testimony No. 13. I well knew that that would produce a reaction and trial in many minds. I also knew that a reaction must come sooner or later, and, for the good of the Institute and the cause generally, the sooner the better. Had matters been moving in a wrong direction, to the injury of precious souls and the cause generally, the sooner this could be checked, and they be properly directed the better. The further the advance, the greater the ruin, the greater the reaction, and the greater the general discouragement. The misdirected work must have such a check; there must be time to correct errors and start again in the right direction. 1T 634.2

The good work wrought for the church at Battle Creek last fall, the thorough reform and turning to the Lord by physicians, helpers, and managers at the Health Institute, and the general agreement of our brethren and sisters in all parts of the field relative to the great object of the Health Institute and the manner it should be conducted, to which is added the varied experience of more than one year, not only in the wrong course, but also in a right direction, give me more confidence that the health reform and the Health Institute will prove a success than I ever had before. I still fondly hope to see the Health Institute at Battle Creek prospering and in every respect the institute shown me. But it will take time to fully correct and outgrow the errors of the past. With the blessing of God this can and will be done. 1T 635.1

The brethren who have stood at the head of this work have appealed to our people for means, on the ground that the health reform is a part of the great work connected with the third angel's message. In this they have been right. It is a branch of the great, charitable, liberal, sacrificing, benevolent work of God. Then why should these brethren say: “Stock in the Health Institute will pay a large per cent,” “it is a good investment,” “a paying thing”? Why not as well talk of stock in the Publishing Association paying a large per cent? If these are two branches of the same great, closing work of preparation for the coming of the Son of man, why not? Or why not make them both matters of liberality? The pen and the voice that appealed to the friends of the cause in behalf of the publishing fund held out no such inducements. Why, then, represent to wealthy, covetous Sabbathkeepers that they may do great good by investing their means in the Health Institute, and at the same time retain the principal, and also receive large per cent for the simple use of it? The brethren were called upon to donate for the Publishing Association, and they nobly and cheerfully sacrificed unto the Lord, following the example of the one who made the call, and the blessing of God has been upon that branch of the great work. But it is to be feared that His displeasure is upon the manner in which funds have been raised for the Health Institute, and that His blessing will not be upon that institution to the full, till this wrong shall be corrected. In my appeal to the brethren in behalf of such an institution, in Testimony No. 11, page 492, I said: 1T 635.2

“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.” 1T 636.1

My view of this matter of means was that there should be “a sacrifice to God, an offering;” and I never received any other idea. But if the principal is to be held good by stockholders, and they are to draw a certain per cent, where is the decrease, or the consuming sacrifice? And how are the dangers of those Sabbathkeepers who are accumulating property decreased by the present plan of holding stock in the Institute? Their dangers are only increased. And here is an additional excuse for their covetousness. In investing in stock in the Institute, held as a matter of sale and purchase like any other property, they do not sacrifice. As a large per cent is held out as an inducement, the spirit of gain, not sacrifice, leads them to invest so largely in the stock of the Institute that they have but little if anything to give to sustain other and still more important branches of the work. God requires of these close, covetous, worldly persons a sacrifice for suffering humanity. He calls on them to let their worldly possessions decrease for the sake of the afflicted ones who believe in Jesus and the present truth. They should have a chance to act in full view of the decisions of the final judgment, as described in the following burning words of the King of kings: 1T 636.2

Matthew 25:34-46: “Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me. Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, and fed Thee? or thirsty, and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or naked, and clothed Thee? Or when saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto Thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me. 1T 637.1

“Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in: naked, and ye clothed Me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me not. Then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee anhungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee? Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.” 1T 637.2

Again on page 494 of Testimony No. 11, I said: “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 638.1

“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 638.2

In what I have been shown and what I have said, I received no other idea, and designed to give no other, than that the raising of funds for this branch of the work was to be a matter of liberality, the same as for the support of other branches of the great work. And although the change from the present plan to one that can be fully approved of the Lord may be attended with difficulties and require time and labor, yet I think that it can be made with little loss of stock already taken, and that it will result in a decided increase of capital donated to be used in a proper manner to relieve suffering humanity. 1T 638.3

Many who have taken stock are not able to donate it. Some of these persons are suffering for the very money which they have invested in stock. As I travel from state to state, I find afflicted ones standing on the very verge of the grave, who should go to the Institute for a while, but cannot for want of the means they have in Institute stock. These should not have a dollar invested there. One case in Vermont I will mention. As early as 1850 this brother became a Sabbathkeeper, and from that date he contributed liberally to the several enterprises that have been undertaken to advance the cause, till he became reduced in property. Yet when the urgent, unqualified call came for the Institute, he took stock to the amount of one hundred dollars. At the meeting at —— he introduced the case of his wife, who is very feeble, and who can be helped, but must be helped soon, if ever. He also stated his circumstances, and said that if he could command the one hundred dollars then in the Institute, he could send his wife there to be treated; but as it was, he could not. We replied that he should never have invested a dollar in the Institute, that there was a wrong in the matter which we could not help, and there the matter dropped. I do not hesitate to say that this sister should be treated, a few weeks at least, at the Institute free of charge. Her husband is able to do but little more than to pay her fare to and from Battle Creek. 1T 639.1

The friends of humanity, of truth and holiness, should act in reference to the Institute on the plan of sacrifice and liberality. I have five hundred dollars in stock in the Institute, which I wish to donate, and if my husband succeeds with his anticipated book, he will give five hundred dollars more. Will those who approve this plan please address us at Greenville, Montcalm County, Michigan, and state the sums they wish to donate, or to invest in stock to be held as the stock in the Publishing Association is held. When this is done, then let the donations come in as needed; let the sums, small and large, come in. Let means be expended judiciously. Let charges for patients be as reasonable as possible. Let brethren donate to partly pay the expenses at the Institute of the suffering, worthy poor among them. Let the feeble ones be led out, as they can bear it, to cultivate the beautifully situated acres owned by the Institute. Let them not do this with the narrow idea of pay, but with the liberal idea that the expense of the purchase of them was a matter of benevolence for their good. Let their labor be a part of their prescription, as much as the taking of baths. Let benevolence, charity, humanity, sacrifice for others’ good, be the ruling idea with physicians, managers, helpers, patients, and with all the friends of Jesus, far and near, instead of wages, good investment, a paying thing, stock that will pay. Let the love of Christ, love for souls, sympathy for suffering humanity, govern all we say and do relative to the Health Institute. 1T 639.2

Why should the Christian physician, who is believing, expecting, looking, waiting, and longing for the coming and kingdom of Christ, when sickness and death will no longer have power over the saints, expect more pay for his services than the Christian editor or the Christian minister? He may say that his work is more wearing. That is yet to be proved. Let him work as he can endure it, and not violate the laws of life which he teaches to his patients. There are no good reasons why he should overwork and receive large pay for it, more than the minister or the editor. Let all who act a part in the Institute and receive pay for their services, act on the same liberal principle. No one should be suffered to remain as helper in the Institute who does it simply for pay. There are those of ability who, for the love of Christ, His cause, and the suffering followers of their Master, will fill stations in that Institute faithfully and cheerfully, and with a spirit of sacrifice. Those who have not this spirit should remove and give place to those who have it. 1T 640.1

As nearly as I am able to judge, one half of the afflicted among our people who should spend weeks or months at the Institute are not able to pay the entire expense of the journey and a tarry there. Shall poverty keep these friends of our Lord from the blessings which He has so bountifully provided? Shall they be left to struggle on with the double burden of feebleness and poverty? The wealthy feeble ones, who have all the comforts and conveniences of life, and are able to hire their hard work done, may, with care and rest, by informing themselves and taking home treatment, enjoy a very comfortable state of health without going to the Institute. But what can our poor, feeble brethren or sisters do to recover health? They may do something, but poverty drives them to labor beyond what they are really able. They have not even all the comforts of life; and as for conveniences in houseroom, furniture, means of taking baths, and arrangements for good ventilation, they do not have them. Perhaps their only room is occupied by a cookstove, winter and summer; and it may be that all the books they have in the house, excepting the Bible, could be held between the thumb and finger. They have no money to buy books that they may read and learn how to live. These dear brethren are the very ones who need help. Many of them are humble Christians. They may have faults, and some of these may reach far back and be the cause of their present poverty and misery. And yet they may be living up to duty better than we who have the means to improve our own condition and that of others. These must be patiently taught and cheerfully helped. 1T 641.1

But they must be willing and anxious to be taught. They must cherish a spirit of gratitude to God and their brethren for the help they receive. Such persons generally have no just ideas of the real expense of treatment, board, room, fuel, etc., at a Health Institute. They do not realize the magnitude of the great work of present truth and reform, and the many calls for the liberalities of our people. They may not be aware that the numbers of our poor are many times larger than the numbers of our rich. And they may not also feel the force of the frightful fact that a majority of these wealthy ones are holding on to their riches and are in the sure road to perdition. 1T 641.2

These poor afflicted persons should be taught that when they murmur at their lot and against the wealthy on account of their covetousness, they commit a great sin in the sight of heaven. They should first understand that their sickness and poverty are misfortunes most generally caused by their own sins, follies, and wrongs; and if the Lord puts it into the hearts and minds of His people to help them, it should inspire in them feelings of humble gratitude to God and His people. They should do all in their power to help themselves. If they have relatives who can and will defray their expenses at the Institute, these should have the privilege. 1T 642.1

And in view of the many poor and afflicted ones who must, to a greater or less extent, be objects of the charity of the Institute, and because of the lack of funds and the want of accommodations at the present time, the stay of such at the Institute must be brief. They should go there with the idea of obtaining, as fast and as far as possible, a practical knowledge of what they must do, and what they must not do, to recover health and to live healthfully. The lectures which they hear while at the Institute, and good books from which to learn how to live at home, must be the main reliance of such. They may find some relief during a few weeks spent at the Institute, but will realize more at home in carrying out the same principles. They must not rely on the physicians to cure them in a few weeks, but must learn so to live as to give nature a chance to work the cure. This may commence during a few weeks’ stay at the Institute, and yet it may require years to complete the work by correct habits at home. 1T 642.2

A man may spend all that he has in this world at a Health Institute, and find great relief, and may then return to his family and to his old habits of life, and in a few weeks or months be in a worse condition of health than ever before. He has gained nothing; he has spent his limited means for nothing. The object of the health reform and the Health Institute is not, like a dose of “Painkiller” or “Instant Relief,” to quiet the pains of today. No, indeed! Its great object is to teach the people how to live so as to give nature a chance to remove and resist disease. 1T 643.1

To the afflicted among our people I wish to say, Be not discouraged. God has not forsaken His people and His cause. Make known your state of health and your ability to meet the expenses of a stay at the Institute to the physicians, addressing Health Institute, Battle Creek, Michigan. Are you diseased, running down, feeble, then do not delay till your case is hopeless. Write immediately. But I must say again to the poor: At present but little can be done to help you, on account of capital already raised being invested in material and buildings. Do all you possibly can for yourselves, and others will help you some. 1T 643.2