Manuscript Releases, vol. 5 [Nos. 260-346]


MR No. 316—Temperate Living and Health Reform

If you would engage in the work of saving souls, the knowledge of God and of His word must circulate in your heart, as the vital current of life circulates through your body.—Letter 103, 1896, p. 4. (To the workers in Sydney, July 17, 1896.) 5MR 220.1

I am more and more burdened as I see young men coming from the school at Battle Creek deficient in the education they should have. It pains me as I realize how many who should be instructed have not the privilege. From the light given me from the Lord, I know that four or five successive years of application to book study is a mistake. Those who encourage this close application to books, working the brain, and neglecting the education they should gain by using the muscles proportionately with the brain, are simply incapable of retaining the lessons they endeavor to learn. If one third of the time now occupied in the study of books, using the mental machinery, were occupied in learning lessons in regard to the right use of one's own physical powers, it would be much more after the Lord's order, and would elevate the labor question, placing it where idleness would be regarded as a departure from the word and plans of God. The right use of one's self includes the whole circle of human obligations to one's self, to the world, and to God. Then use the physical power proportionately with the mental powers. 5MR 220.2

While studying authors and lesson books parts of the time, students should study with the same application the human machinery, and at the same time demonstrate the fact by using the physical organs in manual labor. Thus they answer the purpose of their Creator. They become self-made men and women.—Letter 103, 1897, pp. 1, 2. (To E. A. Sutherland, July 23, 1897.) 5MR 220.3

God has claims upon all who are engaged in His service. He desires that every power and endowment shall be under the divine control, and that they shall be as healthy as careful, strictly temperate habits can make them. We are under obligation to God to make an unreserved consecration of ourselves to Him, body and soul, with all the faculties appreciated as God's entrusted gifts, to be employed in His service. All our energies and capabilities are to be constantly strengthened and improved during this period of probationary time. 5MR 221.1

But those who have occupied positions of influence have not appreciated the work which has been so long neglected. They have not become interested and diligent students of the building which God has made for His habitation. They consider it far more important to become learners upon subjects of less consequence to the human agent. Thousands upon thousands know nothing of the body, and how to care for it. David declared, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And when God has given us such a habitation, why should not every apartment be critically examined. The chambers of the mind and the heart apartment are the most important. Why should men and women continue in ignorance, and live in the basement of the house, enjoying sensual and debasing pleasures?—Manuscript 3, 1897, 2, 3. (“Health Reforms,” January 11, 1897.) 5MR 221.2

The mother is to teach her children that as members of the household, they are to act their part in cheerfully carrying the burdens of the home. She is also to explain to them the construction of the muscles of the body, and their connection with the nerves, which our wise heavenly Father has provided as the means whereby the human machinery is kept in motion. Every organ of the body is a servant to the mind, and has its part to perform. David exclaimed, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”; and yet how few have any special interest in the construction of the human habitation.... 5MR 222.1

The mother may feel that it would be easier to avoid the duty of educating her children to find their chief exercise and recreation in bearing burdens. She may think it hard to open before them the knowledge of their own bodies. But she does her children great harm if she neglects to give them this education. Their Creator furnished them with this wonderful machinery that it might be exercised, and strengthened by use. The muscles are dependent on the brain and nerves for the power of action. The mind wills to move the limbs. To keep this machinery in working order, it is essential that brain, bone, and muscle be brought into action. The exercise of the muscles quickens the circulation of the blood. How important then that parents understand the philosophy of the healthful action of brain, bone, muscles, and nerves and how needful that they educate their children in this line. 5MR 222.2

Simple lessons in the use of the various organs of the body should be given to children to commit to memory. The idea that it is physical exercise that strengthens every organ and gives new life and nourishment to every part of the living machinery, should be firmly imprinted on the mind. This is the law that God has ordained shall govern the body. Every part must be exercised. The harmonious working of the whole is required in order for the members of a family to do service in the home, and help each other to acquire education and discipline. The brain must plan and devise, and the muscles must carry out the will of the brain. 5MR 222.3

If in early years children were thus trained to habits of usefulness in the home, they would obtain an education far superior to that gained by close confinement in the schoolroom. But if part of the muscles are unused, it will soon be seen that the blood does not nourish these muscles. The limbs do not increase in size and strength as they would if they were used. Students who have but little exercise in the open air soon grow weak and lose flesh. The brain is overworked, while the physical organs are left to rust with inaction. Inactivity is not the law the Lord has ordained for the human body, and if this law is followed, feebleness, debility, and disease will come as the result. But nerves and muscles will increase and strengthen if they are exercised. 5MR 223.1

We lose or gain physical strength just in accordance with the way in which we treat the body. When the largest portion of time is devoted to brain work, the organs of imagination lose their healthy tone. The brain is morbidly excited by being constantly exercised, while the muscular system is weak from lack of exercise. There is a manifest loss of strength and increase of debility, which in time makes its influence felt on the brain. As far as possible harmony should be preserved between the mental and physical powers. This is necessary for the health of the entire system.... 5MR 223.2

The exercise gained in mere play does not give the inspiration that quickens every organ of the body. Exercise merely for exercise soon becomes uninteresting. Let children take exercise by performing the duties of the home, thus relieving the overtaxed mother. If daughters would follow this plan instead of allowing their time to be occupied by a round of selfish pleasure, they would enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that they had done their duty and borne their share of the home duties.... 5MR 224.1

Temperance is to be practiced in eating as well as in drinking. Many people eat more food than nature requires. The vital powers are exhausted in the effort to throw off the excess. The liver and kidneys become diseased. Less food would have nourished the system, and its powers would not have been taxed by overwork. The gastric juice works on the amount that the system can assimilate, and the surplus remains undigested, to decay, making the breath offensive, and causing a disagreeable taste in the mouth.... 5MR 224.2

Wealth cannot secure a relish for food that is eaten at irregular periods, when the system does not require it. The stomach is taxed with the effort to grind up this food. It has no time to rest. Often when a large variety of food is placed before people, they eat because the food tastes good. The blood is called from all parts of the body to dispose of this food, and cold hands, cold feet, and cold limbs are the consequence. The digestive organs are deprived of their power to do good work. They have used the full amount of food demanded by the systems, and the remainder is left to decay.—Letter 53, 1898, pp. 1-7. (“To the Teachers and Students in Our Schools,” typed June 12, 1898.) 5MR 224.3

The Lord has a work for every one to do. There are those who suppose that they can be saved by merely assenting to the truth. But this cannot be. True conversion acts like leaven, permeating every part of the being, filling the man with a desire to serve Christ. Received into the heart, the truth transforms the entire being, bringing it into conformity to the Spirit of Christ. There is a development of all the powers; for the heart is changed.... 5MR 225.1

The Lord calls for volunteers to enter His army. Sickly men and sickly women need to become health reformers. Eat fewer kinds of food at one meal. Discard pastries, cakes, and the dishes prepared to tempt the appetite. Eat simple, wholesome food, and eat it with thanksgiving. God will cooperate with you in preserving your health if you eat with care, refusing to put unnecessary burdens on the stomach. God has graciously made the path of nature sure and safe, wide enough for all who will walk in it. He has given for our sustenance the wholesome and health-giving productions of the earth. 5MR 225.2

Let the physicians who are burdened with ill health take time to study from cause to effect. Take your meals as regularly as you can, and eat slowly. I beseech ministers and physicians not to dig their graves with their teeth. Remember that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that it is to be kept pure and undefiled, fit for a dwelling place for Christ.—Letter 152, 1901, pp. 3, 4, 7, 8. (To the brethren in Iowa, typed October 29, 1901.) 5MR 225.3

Released March 7, 1973.