Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Ms 7, 1874

Temperance Test in Battle Creek



Portions of this manuscript are published in Te 200-202; 7MR 347-348.

I dreamed that there was a large company assembled together in the open air, and a tall young man that I have often seen in my dreams, when important matters are under consideration, was sitting near the chairman of the meeting. This young man arose and passed [something] to the men that seemed to be at the head of the company and said, “Here is a paper I wish you to attach your names to, every one of you.” He presented it to Brother A first. He looked at it and read aloud, “You here pledge yourselves to abstain from all fermented wines and spirituous liquors of any kind, and use your influence to induce all others that you can to follow your example.” 2LtMs, Ms 7, 1874, par. 1

I thought Brother A shook his head, saying it was not necessary for him to attach his name to the paper. He understood his duty and should advocate the cause of temperance all the same, but felt not called upon to bind himself, for there were exceptions in all these things. 2LtMs, Ms 7, 1874, par. 2

He handed the same paper to Brother B, who took the paper, looked it over carefully, and said, “I am of the same mind of Brother A. Sometimes I feel the need of something to stimulate me when I am weak and nervous, and I don’t want to pledge myself that under no circumstances will I use wine or liquors.” 2LtMs, Ms 7, 1874, par. 3

There was a sad, grieved look expressed in the countenance. He passed on to others. There were above twenty or thirty who followed the example of Brethren A and B. He then returned to the first two and handed them the paper and said in a firm, decided manner, yet a low tone, “You, both of you, are in the greatest danger of being overcome upon the point of appetite. The work of reformation must commence at your tables and then be carried out conscientiously in every place under all and every circumstance. Your eternal destiny depends upon the decision you now make. You both have strong points of character and are weak in some directions. See what your influence has done.” I saw the names of all who have refused to sign written upon the back of the pledge. “You plead conscientious scruples in regard to attaching your names to this article, for it is uniting or linking to co-operate with the world.” He (the tall young man) looked searchingly upon them. “Where were you,” he said, “a few weeks since, with your families? Where were your scruples then? Oh, where was the dignity of your position? On which side was your influence then mingling—with the lovers of pleasures, disgracing your faith and profession by countenancing an existing curse, and in so doing, closing your lips that you should not utter a reproof to the follies of the young? You are men that are growing grey, men whom God has placed in responsible positions, but men who are controlled by strong passions and set ideas, men who are severe and exacting with others.” 2LtMs, Ms 7, 1874, par. 4

Again he presented the paper and in an authoritative manner said, “Sign this paper or resign your positions. Not only sign, but upon your honor carry out your decisions. Be true to your principles. As God’s messenger I come to you and demand your names. Neither of you has seen the necessity of health reform, but when the plagues of God shall be all around you, you will then see the principles of health reform and strict temperance in all things—that temperance alone is the foundation of all the graces that come from God, the foundation of all victories to be gained. Refuse to sign this, and you will never have another solicitation. You both need your spirits humbled, softened, and let mercy, tender compassion, and dutiful tenderness take the place of coarseness, harshness, set and determined will to carry out your ideas at any cost. 2LtMs, Ms 7, 1874, par. 5

“You flatter yourselves it was your love for the cause of God that actuated you. You need to be converted,” said he, addressing the first. “Your works are not pleasing to God.” 2LtMs, Ms 7, 1874, par. 6

I thought, with trembling hands the names were given and the entire thirty signed their names. 2LtMs, Ms 7, 1874, par. 7

Then one of the most solemn addresses was given upon temperance. The subject was taken up from the table. “Here,” said the speaker, “is the appetite created for love of strong liquor. Appetite and passion are the ruling sins of the age. Appetite, the way it is indulged, influences the stomach and excites the animal propensities. The moral powers are depressed and become the slave to appetite. The use of flesh meats stimulates and inflames; the flesh of dead animals produces disease of almost every type, and the afflicted think and talk as though God’s providence had something to do with it when the cause of their sufferings was what they placed upon their own tables in butter, in spices, in cheese, in flesh meats and a variety of dishes that are not hygienic, which tempt constantly to eat too much. The stomach becomes diseased, then the appetite is morbid and continually craving something to stimulate, something to ‘hit the spot!’ Some acquire the disgusting habit of tea and coffee, and go still further using tobacco, which benumb the tender organs of the stomach and lead them to crave something stronger than tobacco. They go still further to the use of liquor. 2LtMs, Ms 7, 1874, par. 8

But the first great evil is at our tables. There appetite is indulged to gluttony; and when the mass of food placed in the stomach is disposed of, there is a sense of exhaustion which they call a weakness and feel the need of something stronger than food, something that will enliven and touch the spot. 2LtMs, Ms 7, 1874, par. 9