Bible Hygiene




[HYGIENE from a Bible standpoint has always been a favorite theme with Mrs. White. Her husband, Elder James White, was also especially interested in the study of Bible hygiene, and took great pleasure in showing the wonderful harmony between true science and the Scriptures. His intimate acquaintance with the views of his wife, and his own experience with disease during several attacks of grave illness, by which he was led to a most careful consideration of the various phases of the health question, qualified him in a peculiar manner to write and speak intelligently upon this subject. The reader will be both interested and instructed by the perusal of the following collation of the more important writings of Elder White on the subject of hygiene from a Bible standpoint.] BHY 163.1

The eccentric Lorenzo Dow once truthfully said that prejudice is like a cork in a bottle; it does not let anything out, neither does it let anything into the bottle. So blind prejudice will blockade the mind, and not allow errors to pass out of it, nor the plainest truths to enter in. It is asking too much when we say to men, “Give up your prejudices.” But few could do this, should they try. In fact, they have a right to their prejudices, if held subordinate to reason. Hence we do not ask men to surrender their prejudices; but we do invite Christians, in the name of reason and religion, to so far waive their prejudices as to weigh evidence in the scales of reason and justice. BHY 163.2

With a large portion of the people, the Bible is the highest and safest authority in all matters of truth and duty. Prove to Christian men and women, who fear God and tremble at his word, that existing reformatory movements are in strict harmony with the teachings of the Sacred Scriptures, and they will no longer regard them as unworthy of their notice. But the very general impression that the restrictions of hygienic practice are not sustained by the word of God, has placed many sincere Christians where it is difficult to reach them. BHY 163.3

It is a painful fact that vain philosophy, driveling skepticism, and the extremes of some who have been connected with the health reform movement, have done much to prejudice sincere persons against the true philosophy of health. But those who revere God and his holy word can be reached with the plain declarations of Scripture. We hope to make it appear that the Bible does not justify Christians in many of the common and fashionable habits of our time, — habits which sustain a close relation to life and health, — but that it does demand of them changes from these injurious practices. If we succeed in doing this, it will be considered highly proper, by all Bible Christians, that the attention of the Christian public should be called to the subject of Bible Hygiene. BHY 164.1

“God is love;” and his revealed will relates to man’s well-being in this life, as well as in that which is to come. Our heavenly Father does not take pleasure in the miseries of this mortal state. He delights in the happiness of obedient intelligences in this world to come. The Bible teaches how to so live in this life as to promote that health and happiness so favorable to the securing of eternal life. True godliness does not blindly overlook and stupidly neglect the laws of our present existence, and try to view (however dimly) the immortal state only. Godliness is profitable unto all things. It gives promise of the life that now is, and also of that which is to come. BHY 164.2

The religion of the Bible was not intended simply as a garment to cover moral and physical impurities. It was designed to convert the entire man, — soul, body, and spirit, — that he might be pure without and within. That bogus piety which would give license to consecrated gluttony, devoted lust, and sanctified filthiness, is simply a burlesque upon the religion of the Bible. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 1 This is Bible religion. This is true godliness. It proposes to elevate in this life, make fallen beings real men, pure without and within here, and glorified saints in the world to come. BHY 164.3

The record of man’s creation, the ample provisions made for his comfort, his glorious surroundings, — all these attest the love of God to created intelligences in this life. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” 2 BHY 165.1

Of all the creatures that God made, man was his best work. He was formed in the image of his Creator, and was made lord over the Creator’s works. Physically considered, Adam must have been a noble being. “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” 3 In its highest sense, this was true of the first man, both intellectually and physically. From Adam to the flood the patriarchs each lived nearly a thousand years. And may we not suppose that the race has fallen off in size and physical strength, in proportion to the average length of life then and now? Noah lived nine hundred and fifty years. For a time he and his sons must of necessity have eaten flesh as food, and from that point of time the race rapidly declined in length of days. The original curse, with all its accumulated weight of transgression and violation of natural law, has bowed down the race, and caused man to dwindle to his present brief period of existence, marked with disease, decrepitude, and imbecility. BHY 165.2

With this view of the subject, we see Adam in Eden, standing in the glory of his manhood, a grand specimen of the perfect work of God. Earth has long since forgotten the grandeur, the beauty, the perfect symmetry, which characterized the first man before there fell upon him the blight of the curse. And there is so close a connection between matter and mind, that when we consider him intellectually, we are carried up in contemplation of what an intellect might have been, unaffected by the extremes incident to the curse and the depraving and depressing influence of continued transgression, until we are well-nigh lost in conjecture. We behold happy Adam, in holy Eden, walking and talking with God, the great originator of thought, and communing face to face with his Son and with the holy angels, the companion of the highest order of intelligences. BHY 166.1

Has man been progressing for six thousand years? — Verily, downward, downward! We have only to look back to our parents as they were in the strength of their noon of life, and to our grandparents as their still nobler frames were bowed with the weight of years, to be impressed with the fact that each successive generation suffers under greater physical feebleness than the one before it. This is especially true of American women. It has finally come to this, that by reason of artificial habits and in-door life, and the feebleness thus engendered, not one woman in ten, in our country, is capable of bearing well-developed offspring. BHY 166.2

And while we admit that, in the providence of God, the present is an age of discovery and invention, — and many of these things are a necessity to the very existence of this enfeebled generation, — we cannot but regard the popular idea of the increase of mental strength as at war with sound philosophy and the facts in the case. BHY 166.3

“But what will you do with the text,” says some old fogy, who has for a quarter of a century been dreaming of the golden age of mental progression, “that declares that every generation grows weaker and wiser?” We reply that the Sacred Scriptures contain no such text. This saying can be found only among those maxims that are about one half true and the other half false. Facts compel us to admit the weakness of the present generation, and seriously to question its superior wisdom. Those who have listened to the words of the eloquent Wendell Phillips, in his lecture upon the Lost Arts, must have been impressed with the fact that wisdom has not been especially reserved for the present generation. BHY 167.1

“A sound mind in a sound body,” is a maxim worthy of a place in the writings of Moses, Solomon, or Paul. Natural and correct habits of life result in health, physical force, mental clearness, and mental strength. Artificial and incorrect habits always tend to physical and mental enfeeblement. We call in question the sanity of those writers who blow hot and cold, in first representing that the bad habits of the present generation are ruinous to body and soul, to physical, mental, and moral strength; and then, by way of change in the exercises, strike up the popular siren song of grand progression! BHY 167.2

But we turn from the sad picture of degeneracy to contemplate again the first man. God in love created him to enjoy the delights of taste, and to feast the eye on the beautiful. To this end his senses were perfect. “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” The God of the Bible is the author of all that is really beautiful; and we please him best when we, within proper limits, love that which he has made lovely. The great God has prepared a feast for the sight, as well as for the taste. We should provide for the proper gratification of both. The thousands who build large pig-pens and extensive hen-parks, and yet grumble over the labor and expense required to produce the sweet adornments of flowers, shrubs, and ornamental trees, are hardly within speaking distance of the Christian’s beautiful heaven. But, thank God, we may not only feast the eye with the beauties of nature, but by returning to more natural habits of eating and drinking, we may educate and restore the appetite so as to enjoy much of the original delights of taste. Contemplating the good things which God has made for the happiness of men, and the present enjoyment which they may afford a sanctified sight and taste, we look back over six thousand years of transgression of divine and natural law, — during which time the curse has been rending the earth, man has been degenerating, and moral darkness, like the pall of death, has enveloped groaning creation, — and exclaim, What must have been the delights of Eden before sin entered! BHY 167.3