The Review and Herald


December 13, 1881

Longevity, and Habits of Life


The book of Genesis gives quite a definite account of social and individual life during the first twenty-five hundred years of man's history, and yet we have no account of an infant born blind, deaf, crippled, deformed, or imbecile. There is not an instance upon record in that book, of a natural death in infancy, childhood, or early manhood. There is no account of men and women dying of disease. Obituary notices in the book of Genesis run thus: “And all the days of Adam were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.” “And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.” Concerning others, the record states, “He lived to a good old age, and he died.” It was so rare for a son to die before the father that such an occurrence was considered worthy of record. “And Haran died before his father Terah.” Yet Haran himself was a father before his death. RH December 13, 1881, par. 1

The violation of physical law, and human suffering as the consequence, has so long prevailed, that many look upon the present state of sickness, suffering, debility, and premature death, as the appointed lot of humanity. But God did not create the race in its present feeble condition. This is not the work of Providence, but the work of man. It was brought about by violation of the laws of God. Through the temptation of appetite, Adam and Eve first fell from their holy and happy estate. Through the same temptation have the race become enfeebled. They have permitted appetite and passion to take the throne, and to bring into subjection reason and conscience. RH December 13, 1881, par. 2

Man came from the hand of his Creator perfect in organization, and beautiful in form. The fact that he has for six thousand years withstood the ever-increasing weight of disease and crime, is conclusive proof of the power of endurance with which he was first endowed. And although the antediluvians generally gave themselves up to sin without restraint, it was more than two thousand years before the violation of natural law was sensibly felt. Had Adam originally possessed no greater physical power than men now have, the race would ere this have become extinct. RH December 13, 1881, par. 3

With few exceptions, the patriarchs from Adam to Noah lived nearly a thousand years. Upon succeeding generations the burden of disease and suffering continued to rest more heavily, and the length of life greatly diminished. So rapidly had the race degenerated at the time of Christ's first advent, that from every town, city, and village, the sick were brought to him to be healed. Since that time, physical deterioration has steadily progressed. And because of the continued violation of the laws of life, the years of man have been shortened, so that the present generation are passing off to the grave at an earlier age than that at which the antediluvians came upon the stage of active life. RH December 13, 1881, par. 4

Not only has disease been transmitted from generation to generation, but parents bequeath to their children their own wrong habits, their perverted appetites, and corrupt passions. Men are slow to learn wisdom from the history of the past. The strange absence of principle that characterizes the present generation, the disregard of the laws of life and health, is astonishing. Although a knowledge of these things can be readily obtained, a deplorable ignorance prevails. With the majority, the principal anxiety is, “What shall I eat? what shall I drink? and wherewithal shall I be clothed?” Notwithstanding all that has been said and written upon the importance of health and the means to preserve it, appetite is the great law which governs men and women generally. RH December 13, 1881, par. 5

What can be done to stay the tide of disease and crime that is sweeping our race down to ruin and to death? As the great cause of the evil is to be found in the indulgence of appetite and passion, so the first and great work of reform must be to learn and practice the lessons of temperance and self-control. To effect a permanent change for the better in society, the education of the masses must begin in early life. The habits formed in childhood and youth, the tastes acquired, the self-control gained, the principles inculcated from the cradle, are almost certain to determine the future of the man or woman. The crime and corruption occasioned by intemperance and lax morals might be prevented by the proper training of the youth. RH December 13, 1881, par. 6

One of the greatest aids in perfecting pure and noble characters in the young, strengthening them to control appetite and refrain from debasing excesses, is sound physical health. And, on the other hand, these very habits of self-control are essential to the maintenance of health. RH December 13, 1881, par. 7

It is of the highest importance that men and women be instructed in the science of human life, and the best means of preserving and acquiring health. Especially is youth the time to lay up a stock of knowledge to be put in daily practice through life. Youth is the time to establish good habits, to correct wrong ones already contracted, to gain and to hold the power of self-control, and to lay the plan, and accustom one's self to the practice, of ordering all the acts of life with reference to the will of God and the welfare of our fellow-creatures. Youth is the sowing time, that determines the harvest both of this life and the life beyond the grave. RH December 13, 1881, par. 8

The youth of our time should be patiently instructed by both parents and teachers in the laws of health, and the means provided for its restoration when once impaired. Jesus did not ignore the claims of the body. He had respect for the physical condition of man, and went about healing the sick and restoring their faculties to those suffering from their loss. How incumbent, then, is it upon us to preserve the natural health with which God has endowed us, and to avoid dwarfing or weakening our powers. RH December 13, 1881, par. 9

Parents should impress upon their children the fact that all their powers are from God; that he has claims upon every faculty; that in sinning against their bodies, by abusing health in any manner, they sin against God, and slight one of his choicest blessings. God gives us health to use in his service; and the greater physical strength we possess, and the stronger our powers of endurance, the more we should do for the Master. Instead of abusing and overtaxing our strength, we should sacredly preserve it for his use. RH December 13, 1881, par. 10

The young should be shown that they are not at liberty to do as they please with their lives. Now is their day of trust, and by and by will come their day of reckoning. God will not hold them guiltless for treating lightly his precious gifts; the world's Redeemer has paid an infinite price for them, and their lives and talents belong to him; and they will finally be judged according to the faithful or unfaithful stewardship of the capital which God has intrusted to their care. They should be taught that the greater their endowment of means and opportunities, the more heavily does the responsibility of God's work rest upon them, and the more are they required to do. If the youth are thus brought up to feel their responsibility to their Creator, and the important trust given them in their own lives, they will hesitate to plunge into the vortex of dissipation and crime that swallows up so many of the promising young men of our age. RH December 13, 1881, par. 11

Parents, let the work of reform begin at home; train up the child to habits of industry, and serious reflection; present life to him as a grave reality; show him his duty to his God, his neighbor, and himself; inculcate moral and religious principles; give him a suitable education, the means of earning an honest living; let him know you are ever ready to give him tender sympathy and sound advice, to help him if he stumbles, and to encourage him onward; and he will not be likely to go far astray, or miss of being a blessing to the world. RH December 13, 1881, par. 12

In conclusion, let all, both old and young, give diligent heed to the words of the Lord penned by the wise man three thousand years ago: “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments. For length of days, and long life, and peace shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee. Bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart. So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.” RH December 13, 1881, par. 13