Manuscript Releases, vol. 20 [Nos. 1420-1500]


MR No. 1441—The Effects of Intemperance; Advancing the Cause of Temperance

(Written August 4, 1903, to “Dear Brother and Sister Kress,” from “Elmshaven,” Sanitarium, California.)

I received a letter from you about a week ago, and was most interested in the good news that it contained. I also received cheering, encouraging letters from others. These letters did me good. I needed something of the kind. There is so much misunderstanding in our world, and I so often hear the dark side presented. “The heart knoweth its own bitterness.” It would be well if we were more careful not to pour our sorrows into the hearts of others. 20MR 80.1

Yesterday I had a two-hour conversation with Dr. T. S. Evans and his wife, who are working at the Sanitarium here. I think that the interview was a profitable one. They spoke of a plan that they have in mind—to have a banquet at the Sanitarium, and to invite the prominent residents of St. Helena, lawyers, bankers, and ministers. They hope that thus they can do something to remove the impression that seems to be held by some in St. Helena—that this institution is a place where only imbeciles and decrepit people are cared for. Brother Fulton, manager of the San Francisco Vegetarian Cafe, will come up to take charge of the preparation of the banquet. 20MR 80.2

I saw no objection to this plan. When the light of health reform first came to us, we used, on holiday occasions, to take cooking stoves to the grounds where the people were assembled, and right there bake unleavened bread—gems and rolls. And I think that good was the result of our efforts, though, of course, we had not the health food preparations that we now have. At that time we were just beginning to learn how to live without using flesh-meat. 20MR 80.3

Sometimes we gave entertainments, and we took great care that all that we prepared for the table was palatable and nicely served. In fruit season we would get blueberries and raspberries fresh from the bushes, and strawberries fresh from the vines. We made the table fare an object lesson which showed those present that our diet, even though it was in accordance with the principles of health reform, was far from being a meager one. 20MR 80.4

Sometimes a short temperance lecture was given in connection with these entertainments, and thus people became acquainted with our principles of living. As far as we knew, all were pleased and all were enlightened. We always had something to say about the necessity of providing wholesome food and of preparing it simply, and yet making it so palatable and appetizing that those eating it would be satisfied. 20MR 80.5

The world is full of the temptation to indulge appetite, and words of warning, earnest and right to the point, have made wonderful changes in families and in individuals. 20MR 81.1

To deny appetite requires decision of character. For want of this decision multitudes are ruined. Weak, pliable, easily led, many men and women fail utterly of becoming what God desires them to be. Those who are destitute of decision of character cannot make a success of the daily work of overcoming. The world is full of besotted, intemperate, weak-minded men and women, and how hard it is for them to become genuine Christians. 20MR 81.2

What does the great Medical Missionary say?—“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” It is Satan's work to tempt men to tempt their fellow men. He strives to induce men to be laborers together with him in his work of destruction. He strives to lead them to give themselves so wholly to the indulgence of appetite and to the exciting amusements and follies which human nature naturally craves, but which the Word of God decidedly forbids, that they can be ranked as his helpers—working with him to destroy the image of God in man. 20MR 81.3

Through the strong temptations of principalities and powers, many are ensnared. Slaves to the caprice of appetite, they are besotted and degraded. 20MR 81.4

The young man who is determined to keep his appetite under the control of God, and who refuses the first temptation to drink intoxicating liquor, saying courteously but firmly, “No, thank you,” is the one who is worthy of honor. Let young men take their stand as total abstainers, even though the men standing high in the world have not the moral courage to take their stand boldly against a habit that is ruinous to health and life. 20MR 81.5

Fathers and mothers should be united in standing firmly for temperance in all things. Such temperance means much. It means respect for every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. It means respect for the laws of nature. It means also respect for the perfection displayed in the natural world. Look at the lofty trees! Look at the lovely flowers, growing in profusion over mountain and valley! God has clothed the earth with tokens of Eden's loveliness. He loves to look upon the flowers, and He has provided them for us in endless variety, to minister to our happiness, and to teach us that He is a lover of the beautiful. 20MR 81.6

In His sermon on the mount Christ called attention to the flowers, drawing from them a lesson of simplicity and quiet trust. “Consider the lilies of the field,” He said; “they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 20MR 82.1

“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? ... for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” 20MR 82.2

If we would only see and appreciate the Lord's goodness and love and His unceasing care for us, how changed this world would be. 20MR 82.3

If we would seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, the principles of righteousness would guide our lives, and self-seeking would find no place in our hearts. The desire to do our own will would be submerged in the desire to do the will of God. 20MR 82.4

We need to cherish a constant realization of God's love and goodness. We need to remember that He holds us accountable for the use that we make of the gifts that He has bestowed on us. We have been bought with a price; therefore we are to glorify God in our body and in our spirit, which are His. We are not to deny him by one act of intemperance, because the only begotten Son of God has purchased us at an infinite cost, even the sacrifice of His life. He did not die for us in order that we might become slaves to evil habits, but that we might become the sons and daughters of God, serving him with every power of the being. 20MR 82.5

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 20MR 82.6

“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” 20MR 82.7

Those who have a constant realization that they stand in this relation to God will not place in the stomach food which pleases the appetite but which injures the digestive organs. They will not spoil the property of God by indulging improper habits of eating, drinking, or dressing. They will take great care of the human machinery, realizing that they must do this in order to work in co-partnership with God. He wills that they shall be healthy, happy, and useful. But in order for them to be this, they must place their wills on the side of His will. 20MR 82.8

Those who indulge in the use of tobacco or intoxicating liquor fill the tissues of the body with poison, and weaken the nerve-power. They allow Satan to rob them of the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Through a course of their own pursuing, their reason passes under the enemy's control. 20MR 83.1

Those who frequent the saloons that are open to all who are foolish enough to tamper with the deadly evil they contain, are following the path that leads to eternal death. They are selling themselves, body, soul, and spirit, to Satan. Under the influence of the drink they take, they are led to do things from which, if they had not tasted the maddening drug, they would have shrunk in horror. When they are under the influence of the liquid poison, they are in Satan's control. He rules them, and they cooperate with him. 20MR 83.2

The appetite that is indulged creates an inflammation in the stomach and in the brain. The victim has no control of himself. He may take the lives of his wife and children, or the life of a friend or neighbor, without knowing what he is doing. 20MR 83.3

The one who sells the drunkard the liquid poison should be the one held responsible for the evil deeds that the drunkard commits under the influence of the fiery draught. 20MR 83.4

I have a message from the Lord for the tempted soul who has been under the control of Satan, but who is striving to break free. Go to the Lord for help. Go to those who you know love and fear God, and say, “Take me under your care, for Satan tempts me fiercely. I have no power from the snare to go. Keep me with you every moment, until I have more strength to resist temptation.” 20MR 83.5

To those who are working for such ones I would say, Open the Bible before the tempted, struggling soul, and over and over again read to him the promises of the living God. Hold fast to him until he has given himself, body, soul, and spirit, to God. In the past he has been ruled over by Satan, but by prayer and faith rescue him from this cruel power. Place his hand in the hand of Christ. Again and again the poor victim will be almost overcome by the craving for strong drink, but do not let him go. Labor for him as a true medical missionary, and God will bless your efforts. 20MR 83.6

Brother and Sister Kress, I have written this because I am intensely interested in the subject of temperance. I hope that all who have any responsibilities to bear in the Sanitarium will do all in their power against the great evil of intemperance. Invite all, old and young, to sign the pledge. The Lord will bless in this good work.—Letter 166, 1903. 20MR 83.7

Ellen G. White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

March 2, 1989.

Entire Letter.