The Signs of the Times


February 2, 1882

Among the Mountains


The Health Retreat at St. Helena is situated upon a mountain side commanding an extensive view of the surrounding country. During my stay here, the sublime and beautiful scenery spread out before me, was a source of increasing interest and delight. In the valley are dwellings and cultivated lands. Beyond are the mountains, rising peak above peak until they seem to touch the blue ether of the heavens. There from age to age they have stood, like silent sentinels, directing our eyes upward, and telling us of the unchanging power and glory of the infinite God. His word of promise is more immutable than the everlasting hills. “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but his kindness shall not depart, neither shall the covenant of peace be removed from those that put their trust in him.” Oh that we could ever cast fear and anxiety from our hearts, and find secure, satisfying rest in Jesus! And we can do this, if we will look upward to God with constancy and faith, as the mountain heights forever look to the clouds and the sky. ST February 2, 1882, par. 1

The morning sun pours its new glories upon these mountains of God, while in the valley, mists and clouds are rolling like the billows of the sea. In the distance they appear white as the drifted snow in the noonday sun. Soon they roll swiftly up the mountain steeps, until they reach the summit, and shut out from us the bright rays of the sun. A few moments, and all is clear again, and the sunlight rests on the bald mountain tops. There is enough to feast the imagination in the scenes of nature. Surely, no one who loves the sublime and the beautiful could be lonely among these grand old mountains. ST February 2, 1882, par. 2

The mountain heights and rocky fastnesses have ever been the friendly refuge of God's people when oppressed and hunted by their enemies. For hundreds of years the Waldenses worshiped God amid the mountain solitudes, and there defied the armies of kings and emperors. On their rocky heights, in sight of their enemies, they sang the praise of Him who made the hills; and no opposing power could silence their hymns of lofty cheer: ST February 2, 1882, par. 3

“For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
Our God, our fathers’ God!
Thou hast made thy children mighty
By the touch of the mountain sod.
ST February 2, 1882, par. 4

“Thou hast fixed our ark of refuge
Where the spoiler's foot ne'er trod;
For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
Our God, our fathers’ God!”
ST February 2, 1882, par. 5

Among the blessings of the lot of Ephraim and Manasseh, Moses enumerated “the chief things of the ancient mountains, and the precious things of the lasting hills.” In his last prophetic words to the tribes of Israel, he dwelt with peculiar earnestness upon the precious things of the hills. While the chosen people were wandering in the desert, he encouraged them by describing their promised inheritance as a land of hills and valleys; a land that drinketh water of the rain of heaven; a land upon which the eyes of the Lord rest for good throughout the year. To those who have lived in a level country, there is something peculiarly inspiring in the sight of the mountains. And all who have dwelt amid their wild and romantic scenery must ever long for the high places of the earth. I have never enjoyed the privilege of gazing upon the hills of Palestine, but I can look upon the mountains of our own land, and behold the wisdom and love of the Creator. ST February 2, 1882, par. 6

As I stood among the hills, I thought how centuries ago our Saviour came to the groves and mountains to worship God. The most costly and beautiful structure which man can devise is not to be compared with the solemn grandeur of these mountain sanctuaries. To such retreats Jesus often led his disciples. With the beautiful scenes of nature, he associated lessons of divine truth. Afar from the bustle and strife of the haunts of men, he strove to turn the hearts of rich and poor from the perishable treasures of earth to the unfading glories of the world to come. ST February 2, 1882, par. 7

The hills and forests furnish a blessed retreat for those who, weary of the din and confusion of city life, desire to enjoy communion with nature. And the invigorating air and sunshine bring new life to the over-tasked and weary. In all my journeyings, east and west, north and south, I have seen no place which offered so many and so great advantages as are offered at St. Helena. Here the hills pour forth their treasures in streams and fountains of the purest water. The atmosphere is mild and balmy, the surrounding heights seeming to modify the temperature, shutting off storms and chilling currents. While in many parts of our country the trees are in winter stripped of their foliage, and the bare, skeleton-like frames speak of death and decay, the trees here are green throughout the year. The bright sunbeams, pouring their glory on the living verdure of the madrona, the manzanita, the fir, the pine, and the California laurel, delight the senses, and fill the heart with gratitude to God. ST February 2, 1882, par. 8

Many have gladly availed themselves of the advantages for rest and recreation afforded by the mountain home at this place. We found here one family, eight in number, comprising three generations, mother, daughters, and granddaughters. For five months they have here enjoyed freedom from the claims of society and the restrictions of fashionable life. All were indisposed when they left Oakland, some suffering from continual colds, and others from general debility; but during their stay in the mountains they have greatly improved in health. In the city they thought it a task to walk even a short distance; but as they enjoyed the fresh, mountain air, the pure water, and the restful quiet of this home, they were soon able to climb the steep ascents, and daily to walk miles without inconvenience. ST February 2, 1882, par. 9

I could but think of the large sums paid annually in doctors’ bills, or in the purchase of hurtful or poisonous drugs. If the means thus often worse than wasted could be spent in visiting such a resort as is afforded in this delightful place, how many might be benefited physically and mentally. Our people should purchase this establishment, and make of it a Hygienic Institute, as was the original intention of its founders. New buildings ought to be erected, and all needed facilities added to make it in all respects a first-class institution. It should be opened in the spring for the reception of patients. ST February 2, 1882, par. 10

“The groves were God's first temples;” and still he speaks to us in the fields, the forests, and the mountains, as verily as in the house of prayer. The prophets and poets of the Bible were keenly susceptible to the beauty of the leafy woods. The psalmist calls upon the trees to praise the Lord; and the prophet Isaiah declares that all the trees of the field shall clap their hands in that day when the word of the Lord shall have accomplished its work of salvation among men. ST February 2, 1882, par. 11

When Israel marched out of Egypt, they made their first encampment under the shelter of green boughs at Succoth. And for more than fifteen hundred years the Hebrew nation by the command of God left their houses, and dwelt one whole week in tabernacles of green boughs, to commemorate the encampment of their fathers under the palm branches of Succoth. These seasons of sacred recreation were fraught with both physical and spiritual blessings to Israel. God's people still need seasons of quiet and reflection—seasons in which the soul may undisturbed commune with its Maker. The great work which has been committed to our hands cannot be best carried forward in excitement and confusion. That calm deliberation so essential to sound judgment can often be best secured in some quiet retreat where the thoughtful mind and pure heart can be prompted by the still, small voice. These forest and mountain homes have great blessings for those who are wearied physically or mentally. Wisely has an American poet counseled: ST February 2, 1882, par. 12

“If thou art worn and hard beset
With trials that thou wouldst forget.
Go to the fields and hills; no tears
Dim the sweet look that Nature wears.”
ST February 2, 1882, par. 13

Mrs. E. G. White