Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)


Chapter 6—(1864) Learning to Practice Health Reform

In the vision of June 6, 1863, not only was there opened up to Ellen White the basic principles of healthful living but a solemn commission was given to her that would have a bearing on her work and that of her husband for many years to come. She and James were to be teachers of health reform. Taking up her pen after the vision, she wrote: 2BIO 73.1

I saw that it was a sacred duty to attend to our health, and arouse others to do their duty.... We have a duty to speak, to come out against intemperance of every kind—intemperance in working, in eating, in drinking, in drugging—and then point them to God's great medicine, water, pure soft water, for diseases, for health, for cleanliness, and for a luxury.... I saw that we should not be silent upon the subject of health, but should wake up minds to the subject.—Manuscript 1, 1863. (Italics supplied.) 2BIO 73.2

But before they could teach, they must know what to teach. They were adults, and parents; alert, but their knowledge in health lines was but little different from the average—and these were days of general ignorance. The Review and Herald, edited by James White and Uriah Smith, occasionally carried items on rest, fresh air, exercise, et cetera, selected from other journals or from the writings of a Dr. Dio Lewis. Quite often articles and admonitions discouraging the use of tobacco, tea, and coffee were included. But as we have seen in connection with the scourge of diphtheria in the winter of 1862 and 1863, although the obituary notices kept before its readers the death of many children, up to February, 1863, the Review had little to offer to terrified parents but the application of a poultice of “Spanish flies and turpentine.” Then there came to the attention of James and Ellen White Dr. James C. Jackson's method of treatment of diphtheria, embodying simple, rational methods in the proper use of water, fresh air, and rest. Earnestly employed, these remedies saved two of the White boys when stricken, and also Moses Hull's boy, but upon the recovery of the children the experience was soon forgotten. Then in the vision of June 6, 1863, among a number of situations and matters opened up to Ellen White, health was an important one. Many of its features were to her so revolutionary that she was for a time bewildered. 2BIO 73.3