The Signs of the Times


February 17, 1888

“Your Reasonable Service”

[Sermon at Great Grimsby, England, September 24, 1886.]


“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” ST February 17, 1888, par. 1

In the time of ancient Israel the priests critically examined every offering that was brought as a sacrifice. If any defect was discovered in the animal presented for the service of the sanctuary, it was refused, for the Lord had commanded that the offering should be “without blemish.” We are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God; and should we not seek to make the offering as perfect as possible? God has given us every instruction necessary for our physical, mental, and moral well-being, and it is the duty of every one of us to bring our habits of life into conformity with the divine standard, in every particular. Will the Lord be pleased with anything less than the best we can offer? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” If you do love him with all your heart, you will desire to give him the best service of your life, and you will be constantly seeking to bring every power of your being into harmony with the laws that will promote your ability to do his will. You will not feel satisfied to present to your merciful heavenly Father an offering enfeebled by indulgence of appetite and passion. You will plead for divine help and healing. And the grace of Christ will enable you to overcome your perverted appetites, and begin a work of reformation in your life. You are not to follow the customs of the world. “Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ST February 17, 1888, par. 2

Every faculty of our being was given us that we might render acceptable service to our Maker. When, through sin, we perverted the gifts of God, and sold our powers to the prince of darkness, Christ paid a ransom for us, even his own precious blood. “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them.” And shall we waste the energies that he has ransomed at such infinite cost, by disregarding the laws of life and morality? ST February 17, 1888, par. 3

Look at the world today. Misery and pain exist on every side; and the heart grows sick, beholding the untold suffering of humanity. The dead and the dying are continually before our eyes; but we cannot charge this to our heavenly Father. Man has brought this upon himself through sinful disregard of the laws of God. The most reckless habits are formed and practiced by the world, in regard to eating, drinking, and dressing. Suffering, disease, and premature death follow in the train of lawless, inconsiderate customs. In these matters of vital importance, men and women follow their impulses, without consulting reason, or considering the experiences of others. What a perverted appetite may crave, that they must have. Whatever the fashion may be, that they must follow, no matter how disastrous the result; but God would have us live in accordance with law, so that, whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we may glorify God and benefit our fellow-men. ST February 17, 1888, par. 4

If we are the servants of Christ, we must fight against the evils of this degenerate age. While lawlessness of all kinds is sweeping over our world like a flood, we must take a decided stand on the requirements of the Bible, or we shall be swept away into moral and physical ruin. We must have moral strength to place ourselves, with firm determination, in opposition to the iniquity that abounds, or we shall be overcome. It is our privilege to understand the laws of this wonderful structure, the human habitation, that God has given us. Mind and body should be preserved in the best possible state of health that we may take up our work in the world. I know that much can be done toward building up a good condition of health. I have had five shocks of paralysis, and God, in his mercy, has raised me up, to take my place in the work he has given me to do, and to try to benefit others by my experience. Light was given me, and I saw the reason for my feeble health. I was astonished that I had so long remained in ignorance in regard to the laws of life. My habits were out of harmony with the conditions that are necessary to health. My food had not been of a proper kind to give vitality and strength to the system. It was highly seasoned, and stimulating rather than nutritious. The physicians said that I might die at any time, and I resolved that if I died, I would die in attempting to correct my injurious habits of life. I resolved to place myself on a platform of strictest temperance. I did not use tea or coffee or any kind of intoxicating wine or liquor, so I did not have these habits to overcome; but I had used flesh and spices, eating hearty meals three times a day. I had to educate myself to enjoy the simple, healthful grains and fruits that God has provided for the wants of man. But I found that all the sacrifice I had to make was doubly repaid in renewed health of body and mind. I had used pepper and mustard in my diet; but these should not be put into the human stomach. The delicate membrane becomes inflamed, the healthy tone of the stomach is lowered, and the appetite is perverted, the taste loses its discernment, and the delicious flavors of grains, vegetables, and fruits become insipid and unpalatable. ST February 17, 1888, par. 5

I see that in this country wine and beer, as well as tea and coffee, are placed upon your tables. Could you realize the injurious effects of these things, you would banish them from your board. Luxurious living and the use of wine and beer corrupt the blood, inflame the passions, produce disease, and hasten you to your graves. The faculties are benumbed. The moral perception is blunted, and the mind becomes incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong; the animal passions are strengthened, and gain supremacy over the intellectual and spiritual nature. ST February 17, 1888, par. 6

This fact is illustrated in the case of Nadab and Abihu. The Lord had kindled a sacred fire, from which the priests were to take coals, for the burning of incense before the Lord. They were not to use strange fire in the services of the sanctuary; but, under the effects of strong drink, the sons of Aaron lost all sense of sacred things. They kindled their incense from common fire, and disregarded the commandment of God. The Lord did not excuse their sin because they had unfitted themselves for their sacred duties by indulgence in drink. They were cut off from the congregation of Israel. God's dealing with these transgressors should be a warning to the children of men today. You are to offer to God a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. As these intoxicants are used, the same effects will follow as in the case of these priests of Israel. The conscience will lose its sensibility to sin, and a process of hardening to iniquity will most certainly take place, till the common and the sacred will lose all difference of significance. ST February 17, 1888, par. 7

I have been invited here and there to come and take tea with certain families. I was glad to have an opportunity to talk with these friends; but I could not countenance their hurtful practice of tea-drinking, I could not partake of this beverage with them, or give my influence to encourage this unnecessary and injurious habit. After freely partaking, the effects of tea-drinking may be discovered. The face becomes flushed, the eyes brighten, a new vigor is manifested, and the mind seems unnaturally active. Tea is a stimulant, and its exhilarating effects are neither lasting nor beneficial. The same is true of coffee. I have heard people declare that they could not live without their coffee. They were languid and dispirited, and were unfit to take up the tasks of the day, but after they had had their coffee they felt revived and encouraged; but this feeling of strength was only due to the stimulant they had taken. They were, in reality, just as unfit for their tasks as before and had only spurred up their flagging energies. When the influence of coffee had passed away, they were left as much in need of another cup as before they had taken the first cup. ST February 17, 1888, par. 8

We want a work of reformation in our land. There are thousands who can testify to the benefits of discarding these luxuries, and drinking from nature's pure fountain. Why should we go to China and Japan for the products of a backward civilization? Why not banish the narcotic bean and the poisonous herb, and come into harmony with the sanitary laws of the Bible? If we are pursuing a course of action that brings weakness upon us, how can we present to God a holy offering, a living sacrifice? We are required to love God with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves; but we are failing of this high requirement, if we are unfitting ourselves by hurtful habits for rendering acceptable service to our Maker and to our fellow-men. How can we think deeply and seriously on the plan of salvation, if our minds are clouded, our nerves unstrung, and our bodies full of pain and disease? If we are knowingly transgressing the laws of health, God cannot sustain and comfort us with his grace. This would only encourage us in wrong-doing. We must put our feet in the path of righteousness, and make all the efforts we can to walk uprightly, and then we may appropriate the rich promises, and we shall realize that we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. ST February 17, 1888, par. 9

We must be fitting up for the society of Heaven. We want to have a right to the tree of life. We want to enter that city where nothing that defileth shall ever come. Our characters must reach the standard of holiness. Every thought and habit must be brought into harmony with the will of God. Jesus came to our world to be our Saviour and example, and it is in his name alone, that we may gain the victory over perverted nature. He overcame in man's behalf, and through his grace we may become “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” He “suffered, being tempted” for forty days, in the lonely wilderness, he endured fasting and temptation that man might have help to overcome the cravings of appetite, and live, not by bread alone, “but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” He stood in his integrity, a conqueror, and through him the sons of Adam may also be overcomers. Those who put their energies against the sinful indulgence of appetite, will have his divine aid and sympathy, and “he that endureth unto the end shall be saved.” ST February 17, 1888, par. 10