Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene


Chapter 11—General Hygiene

God designed that man should be active and useful; yet the life of many is little more than mere existence. They never brighten the path of others, never bless those around them; on the contrary, they are only a burden. On the side of right their influence is little more than a cipher. Scarcely an instance of disinterested benevolence brightens their life record. No pleasant memory survives them at their death; for there was no true goodness to leave a loving impress, even on the hearts of their friends. Such a life is a sad failure. It is the life of an unfaithful steward, who forgets that his Creator has claims upon him. Selfish interests attract his mind, and lead to forgetfulness of God, and of his purpose in the creation of man. CTBH 96.1

God placed Adam and Eve in Paradise, and surrounded them with everything that was useful and lovely. He planted for them a beautiful garden, in which no herb or flower or tree was lacking that might be for use or ornament. Paradise delighted their senses, but this was not enough; they must have something to call into play the wonderful machinery of the human system. Had happiness consisted in doing nothing, man in his state of holy innocence would have been left unemployed. But he who formed man, knew what would be for his best happiness, and he no sooner created him than he gave him his appointed work. A life of useful labor is indispensable to the physical, mental, and moral well-being of man. CTBH 96.2

God has given us all something to do; and in the discharge of various duties, our lives will be made useful, and we shall be blessed. “Not slothful in business,” [Romans 12:11.] is the injunction of the apostle Paul. A person might as well expect a harvest where he has not sown, as to expect to be saved while living in indolence. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, yet “he shall become poor that dealeth with a slack hand.” [Proverbs 10:4.] Those who are diligent in business may not always be prospered; but drowsiness and idleness are sure to grieve the Spirit of God, and destroy true godliness. A stagnant pool becomes offensive; but a pure, flowing brook spreads health and gladness over the land. CTBH 96.3

Riches and idleness are thought by some to be blessings indeed; but those who are always busy, and who cheerfully go about their daily tasks, are the most happy, and enjoy the best health. The healthful weariness which results from well-regulated labor secures to them the benefits of refreshing sleep. The sentence that man must toil for his daily bread, and the promise of future happiness and glory, both came from the same throne, and both are blessings. CTBH 97.1

Those who are in possession of wealth and leisure, and yet have no purpose in life, have little to arouse them to either mental or physical activity. Thus many a woman loses her health, and is driven to seek some medical institution for treatment. Here attendants are hired, at great expense, to rub, stretch, and exercise the muscles which have become powerless by inaction. She hires servants, that she may live a life of idleness, and then hires other servants to exercise the muscles enfeebled by disuse. What consummate folly! How much wiser and better for women, young or old, to brave the sneers of fashion's votaries, and obey the dictates of common sense and the laws of life! By the cheerful performance of domestic duties, the idle daughters of our land might become useful and happy members of society. For many, such labor is a more effective and profitable “movement cure” than the best inventions of the physicians. CTBH 97.2

Young men, as well as young women, often manifest a sad lack of earnest purpose and moral independence. To dress, to smoke, to talk nonsense, and to indulge their passion for amusement, is the ideal of happiness, even with many who profess to be Christians. It is painful to think of the time thus misspent. Hours that should be given to the study of the Scriptures or to active labor of Christ, are worse than wasted. Life was given for a true and holy purpose. It is too precious to be thus squandered. I entreat you who have taken the name of Christ, Examine your hearts, and pass sentence upon yourselves. Do you not love pleasure more than you love God or your fellow-men? There is work to be done; there are souls to save; there are battles to fight; there is a heaven to win. The mind, with all its capabilities, must be strengthened, and stored with the treasures of divine wisdom. In the strength of God you may do noble work for the Master. CTBH 97.3

God designed that all should be workers. Upon those whose abilities and opportunities are the greatest, rest the heaviest responsibilities; and upon them will fall the heaviest condemnation if they are unfaithful to their trust. Even beasts of burden put to shame the do-nothing, who, endowed with reason and a knowledge of the divine will, refuses to perform his part in God's great plan. CTBH 98.1

The indolence of the many, occasions the overwork of the few. A large class refuse to think or act for themselves. They have no disposition to step out of the old ruts of prejudice and error; by their perversity they block up the way of advancement, and force the standard-bearers of the right to more heroic efforts in their march forward. Earnest and devoted laborers are failing for want of a helping hand, and are sinking beneath their double burden. Their graves are way-marks along the upward path of reform. CTBH 98.2

The true glory and joy of life are found only by the working man and woman. Labor brings its own reward, and sweet is the rest that is purchased by the fatigue of a well-spent day. But there is a self-imposed toil which is injurious and utterly unsatisfying. It is that which gratifies unsanctified ambition, which seeks display for notoriety. The love of possession or appearance leads thousands to carry to excess that which, in itself, is lawful—to devote all the strength of mind and body to that which should occupy but a small portion of their time. They bend every energy to the acquisition of wealth or honor, making all other objects secondary; they toil unflinchingly for years to accomplish their purpose; yet when the goal is reached, and the coveted reward secured, it turns to ashes in their grasp; it is a shadow. They have given their life to that which profiteth not. CTBH 98.3

Yet all the lawful pursuits of life may be safely followed, if the spirit is kept free from selfish hopes and the contamination of deceit and envy. The business life of the Christian should be marked with the same purity that held sway in the workshop of the holy Nazarene. It is the working men and women—those who are willing to bear responsibilities with faith and hope—who find that which is great and good in life. Patient laborers, remember that those were sturdy workmen whom Christ chose from among the fishermen of Galilee and the tent-makers of Corinth, to labor with him in the work of salvation. From these humble men went forth a power that will be felt through all eternity. CTBH 99.1

The angels are workers; they are ministers of God to the children of men. Those slothful servants who look forward to a heaven of inaction, have false ideas of what constitutes heaven. The Creator has prepared no place for the gratification of sinful indolence. Heaven is a place of interested activity; yet to the weary and heavy laden, to those who have fought the good fight of faith, it will be a glorious rest; for the youth and vigor of immortality will be theirs, and against sin and Satan they will no longer have to contend. To these energetic workers a state of eternal indolence would be irksome. It would be no heaven to them. The path of toil appointed to the Christian on earth may be hard and wearisome, but it is honored by the footprints of the Redeemer, and he is safe who follows in that sacred way. CTBH 99.2

The idea that those who have overtaxed their mental and physical powers, or who have broken down in body or mind, must suspend activity in order to regain health, is a great error. In a few cases, entire rest for a time may be necessary; but such instances are rare. In most cases the change would be too great to be beneficial. CTBH 100.1

Those who have broken down by intense mental labor, should have rest from wearing thought; yet to teach them that it is wrong, or even dangerous, for them to exercise their mental powers at all, leads them to view their condition as worse than it really is. They are nervous, and finally become a burden to themselves, as well as to those who care for them. In this state of mind, their recovery is doubtful indeed. CTBH 100.2

Those who have overtaxed their physical powers should not be advised to forego labor entirely. To shut them away from all exercise would in many cases prevent their restoration to health. The will goes with the labor of the hands; and when the will-power is dormant, the imagination becomes abnormal, so that it is impossible for the sufferer to resist disease. Inactivity is the greatest curse that could come upon one in such a condition. CTBH 100.3

Nature's fine and wonderful mechanism needs to be constantly exercised in order to be in a condition to accomplish the object for which it was designed. The do-nothing system is a dangerous one in any case. Physical exercise in the direction of useful labor has a happy influence upon the mind, strengthens the muscles, improves the circulation, and gives the invalid the satisfaction of knowing how much he can endure, and that he is not wholly useless in this busy world; whereas, if this is restricted, his attention is turned to himself, and he is in constant danger of exaggerating his difficulties. If invalids would engage in some well-directed physical exercise, using their strength but not abusing it, they would find it an effective agent in their recovery. CTBH 100.4

When the weather will permit, those who are engaged in sedentary occupations, should, if possible, walk out in the open air every day, summer and winter. The clothing should be suitable, and the feet well protected. Walking is often more beneficial to health than all the medicine that can be prescribed. For those who can endure it, walking is preferable to riding; for it brings all the muscles into exercise. The lungs also are forced into healthy action, since it is impossible to walk in the bracing air of a winter morning without inflating them. CTBH 100.5

Exercise aids the dyspeptic by giving the digestive organs a healthy tone. To engage in deep study or violent exercise immediately after eating, hinders the digestive process; for the vitality of the system, which is needed to carry on the work of digestion, is called away to other parts. But a short walk after a meal, with the head erect and the shoulders back, exercising moderately, is a great benefit. The mind is diverted from self to the beauties of nature. The less the attention is called to the stomach, the better. If you are in constant fear that your food will hurt you, it most assuredly will. Forget your troubles; think of something cheerful. CTBH 101.1

More people die for want of exercise than from overwork; very many more rust out than wear out. In idleness the blood does not circulate freely, and the changes in the vital fluid, so necessary to health and life, do not take place. The little mouths in the skin, through which the body breathes, become clogged, thus making it impossible to eliminate impurities through that channel. This throws a double burden upon the other excretory organs, and disease is soon produced. Those who accustom themselves to exercising in the open air, generally have a vigorous circulation. Men and women, young or old, who desire health and who would enjoy life, should remember that they cannot have these without a good circulation. Whatever their business or inclinations, they should feel it a religious duty to make wise efforts to overcome the conditions of disease which have kept them in-doors. CTBH 101.2