Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Lt 8, 1867

Aldrich, Brother

Greenbush, Michigan

August 20, 1867

Portions of this letter are published in 5MR 389. See also 1T 553-568.

Dear Brother Aldrich:

Brother Amadon informed me that you desired him to converse with me in regard to the Health Institute. I hardly know what to write; there is much I might say, but have not time, in regard to what has been shown me. In addition to what has already been written of what was shown me, I wish I were better prepared to write. I am not well, have been poorly for a few weeks; will do the best I can. In regard to the health reform, may the Lord assist me to write plainly upon paper that which I have spoken to Brother Amadon. The health reform is a great enterprise and is a part of the truth [as] closely connected with present truth as the arm is connected with the body. And all who are earnestly engaged in it should realize that they are connected with a most solemn work. The great Apostle Paul, inspired of God, has placed this subject on the right basis. Please read carefully and prayerfully 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 1

In no case should those engaged in this enterprise pattern after the [Dansville] Health Reform Institute. Yet there would be danger of following in this track and losing sight of the exalted character of the work. I was shown that if those connected in this enterprise should descend from the pure, exalted principles of truth to imitate the theories and practices of those engaged in other institutions, where invalids are treated merely for disease, not working from a high religious standpoint, God’s special blessing will not, cannot, rest upon us any more than upon them. The Health Reform Institute is to be one of the efficacies to prepare a people to be perfect before God, to have physical and mental clearness, and strength to appreciate the elevated truths of God’s Word, and be brought into a position where with clear and sanctified judgment they will be able to discern the imperfections upon their moral character and reform so as to have friendship with God. “Without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 2

If the truth is placed at all in the background, and there is a departing from its holy principles, that which God has given us in the Old and New Testament Scriptures, we separate from God. He cannot minister to unrighteousness. If the standard of truth and holiness is lowered, then is the design of God turned aside and the managers walk in the sparks of their own kindling. I was shown that the Health Reform Institute needs ever to move cautiously, to walk softly before God, rendering to God all reverence and honor. There are some who would be in favor of moving too fast. [I was shown] that all should wait the leading of Providence and not get in ahead of God’s Providence, making plans and seeking to execute them in their own human power; that a large work would be done, but could not be accomplished in a short time, for it is not an easy matter to find chosen men whom God could approve, who will keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment, to work together harmoniously, zealously, disinterestedly for the benefit of suffering mortals. Those who do this are missionaries in the highest sense. The object is to be kept prominent, always the Lord first and His righteousness, the perfection, the holiness to be attained through the channel of vital truth. And this high state of perfection could not be attained while wrong habits were bringing disease upon bodies and minds, neither could the object be attained through the body alone being treated for disease and working from the worldly standpoint. Satan has his agents and he will use them to make suggestions and to lead the mind in false ways. While our institutions will in their patrons have the worldly wise men to present better methods and ways, hear them respectfully, but seek your counsels of God, and ever lay out all your plans before those who love God and keep His commandments, because the secret of the Lord is with them who fear Him. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 3

God will raise up men qualified to engage in the work, not to be merely physicians of the body but of the sin sick soul, who will be spiritual fathers to engage in this important, solemn work, enlightening the Christian world what they can do through Christ, in practicing temperance in all things, in running the Christian race successfully, that they may obtain the crown of life awarded to the overcomer. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 4

I was shown that the ideas present of some, in regard to pleasure and work, were not wholly correct. The very amusements they recommended hindered the recovery of many where one might receive benefit. Physical labor was condemned which proved a great injury to very many, while the amusements such as playing cards, chess, and checkers, were recommended. This was not wise, for all these plays excite and weary the mind that should not be thus excited and taxed. Light employment and physical labor for usefulness, would occupy the time and be decidedly beneficial for the invalid in the recovery of health. Take away all labor and there is a restlessness, a discontent, looking to themselves, useless in the world, imagining their condition far worse than it really is, and the result tends to imbecility. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 5

For years I have had instruction that the sick should not be taught that all exertion or labor must be suspended if they would realize health, for in doing this the will becomes dormant, the blood in the veins becomes sluggish, and there is a tendency of imagining their case very much worse than it is. Indolence will be most sure to produce the most unhappy results. Checkers, cards, or dancing, or any plays of this description, will not, cannot, take the place of well regulated and judicious employment, giving the invalids to realize that they are not useless in the world and must live only to amuse themselves, but are of some benefit. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 6

The theory that because persons have overworked, abused the physical and mental powers, that now in order to recover both must be idle, is a great mistake in very many cases. The change is too great and the effect injurious upon the invalid, even to loss of life. In a very few individuals the suspension of all labor for a short period of time, and the entire rest of the system for a short time, is necessary; but the cases are few. The change would be so great that with laying aside the active labor entirely, the will power goes with the labor, and such are mere machines. The imagination is diseased to a high degree, and controlling the invalids [brings] great annoyance and suffering of those who are any way connected with them. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 7

Inactivity to such is the greatest curse that can come upon them. Inactivity keeps the powers so dormant that it is impossible for them to resist the languor which they must resist in order to recover from physical and mental debility. And yet another point, some physicians are wide of the mark. In all these [matters] Sabbathkeeping health reformers should avoid making the same blunders. We must be guarded not to copy the errors of others. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 8

In regard to a religious experience, religious excitement, etc., Dr. [Jackson] presents dancing and playing cards a class of amusements as healthful, but presents religion as deleterious and dangerous to health. Religion is not detrimental to the health of the body or of the mind. The exaltation of the Spirit of God is the very best medicine that can be received by a sick man or woman. Heaven is all health, and the more deeply the heavenly influences are brought into the daily life the more sure will be the recovery of the believing invalid. This has been presented in such a manner that the invalids would be led through this instruction to think their recovery depended upon their having as few thoughts of God and heaven as possible, and to be strangers to experimental religion and vital godliness. This theory is not correct. There are ill-balanced minds that imagine themselves very religious and impose upon themselves rigorous fasting, which God has nothing to do with, and this is the reason that they are not sustained. They have a pharisaical righteousness which springs not from Christ, but has foundations in themselves alone. They are trusting to their own good works for salvation. They are thinking they are buying heaven by their own meritorious acts instead of relying, as every sinner should, alone upon the blood of a crucified, risen Saviour. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 9

Christ’s righteousness is true godliness today and forever will be health to the body and strength to the soul. The more God is interwoven with our thoughts or business, or our actions, the more firm will be the health. Let invalids do something instead of occupying their minds with a simple play which lowers them in their own estimation and leads them to think their life useless. Keep the powers of the will awake, for the will aroused and rightly directed is a mighty soother of the nerves. Invalids are far happier with employment and their recovery more easily effected. I was instructed while in Rochester, New York, that the greatest evils that had ever come upon my husband and others were the instructions they received in regard to doing nothing, but remaining inactive. They were terrorized that if they should have physical exercise, it would be their ruin. Some thought it dangerous to exercise. The imagination of both were diseased and their inactivity resulted in the thought and feeling that it would be dangerous to health and life to exert themselves, especially if in doing so they became weary. The machinery was put so seldom in motion that when they did exercise themselves, joints and muscles were not pliable, elasticity was gone, and every move required great effort and, of course, occasioned great weariness. Yet this very weariness would have proved a blessing, had they, irrespective of feeling or of unhappy symptoms, braved the matter through and resisted the disposition to follow their inclinations of inactivity. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 10

Sister Lay, some invalids have a diseased imagination, and a life of inactivity is the greatest possible injury to such. They are constantly brooding over themselves. It would be far better for invalids to feel some responsibilities resting upon them to awaken or call into life their dormant energies. I saw that the broken-up state of their family was ruinous to the education and training of their dear children. Children, for their own good, should learn to bear their responsibility in household labor and feel that some burdens in life rested upon them. Then there will not be so many broken-down mothers. The mother engaged in the education and training of her children is doing the very work which God has assigned her. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 11

The sick should shun intemperance in labor, but above all shun a life of inactivity. When the Lord gave me the vision at Rochester, I saw that it would be far better for mother, father, and children to form a family by themselves, the children each doing a part, bearing a share in the family labor, and thus obtaining a valuable education which could not be obtained in any other way. I saw that the life at Dansville or any other place, surrounded with helpers and being waited upon, was the greatest possible injury to mother and children. Reading for mother or children should not be indulged in to any great extent. The mother has a diseased imagination which she has brought on by reading fictitious, highly wrought tales. In her imaginations she aspires to that [which] she cannot attain. Her imagination is unhealthy and morbid and therefore will never be realized. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 12

Jesus speaks to Sister Lay to find rest in Him, to be meek and lowly of heart, and let her imagination receive a healthy tone by dwelling upon heavenly things, and earnestly seeking to bring up her little flock in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; [to] help her husband and never depress and hinder him by making him feel that she is the object for all his attention, care, and sympathy. If she rids herself of this view of matters and realizes that God has other burdens for her husband to bear, and that she must help him to do the work assigned him, never murmur, never complain, never censure, but feel that it is her privilege to rejoice in the Lord, to be thankful, to be humble, then will she realize such blessings, such peace, such happiness as she has not experienced for years and which come only upon the hopeful, believing, trusting Christian. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 13

God has especially blessed Sister Lay, and she has a reason for constant gratitude that she has a treasure, a valuable treasure, in her children. How carefully should she watch lest their minds become poisoned by evil seed being sown in their young hearts. They cannot live as God would have them, surrounded with influences such as were in Dansville. You should withdraw them from a promiscuous company, where they see and hear that which will prove an injury to them while they live. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 14

I must speak. I have felt disappointed in the way the Health Reform Institute has been conducted. In regard to some classes of amusements, I could not harmonize them with that light which has been given me. In regard to exercise and moderate, useful labor being dangerous, I could not harmonize this with the light given me for years back in regard to invalids, that they should in the name of God arise and resist disease. In regard to Christian experience and religious devotion and spiritual exaltations, I could not harmonize the tone of the institution at [Dansville] with what I know to be in accordance with the will of God upon this point. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 15

In regard to the large calculations for building at the present time, you are moving faster than God directs. When God raises up men capable of engaging in a large business, as you are preparing to do, then it is time to begin to branch out; but now you have all that you can well do with the present help in that institution, if invalids have all the attention they require. Dr. Lay is not qualified to carry on so large a business as you are laying out for him. His health will not admit of it, and he is not qualified to sustain and manage large interests with increase of burdens. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 16

If his wife possessed physical and mental health he would be better prepared to bear the burdens already resting upon him. Sister Lay sways a powerful influence over her husband, and when under the influence of the Spirit of God she can help him; when she is not, she can be as heavy a weight as mortal man ever bore up under. With these burdens upon Dr. Lay I feel compelled to say, You should know what you are about. You should not suffer Dr. Lay to urge you, Dr. Byington, or any other doctor under the sun, to move in the dark. There is too much backwater now to make any very extensive moves. Dr. Lay has well done to move out in this great work, but he can bear no heavier burdens. In his desire to see the work grow he may urge matters faster than can be well carried forward with the best results to the glory of God. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 17

In love to all. 1LtMs, Lt 8, 1867, par. 18