Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 3, 1884

Friends at the Health Retreat

Healdsburg, California

February 5, 1884

Portions of this letter are published in CD 173, 405-409; 2SM 283; 4MR 383.

Dear Friends at the [Rural] Health Retreat:

I have arisen this morning at four-o’clock to write you a few lines. I have been thinking much of late how the institution over which you preside could be made all God would have it, and I have a few thoughts to suggest. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 1

We are health reformers, seeking to come back, as far as possible, to the Lord’s original plan of temperance. Temperance does not consist merely in abstaining from intoxicating liquors and tobacco; it extends further than this. It must regulate what we eat. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 2

You are all acquainted with the light upon the subject of health reform. But when I visit the Retreat, I see that there is a very marked departure from health reform on the matter of meat eating, and I am convinced that there must be a change, and at once. Your diet is largely composed of meat. God is not leading in this direction. The enemy is seeking to establish the diet question upon a wrong basis by leading those in charge of the institution to accommodate the diet to the appetite of the patients. When the Lord led the children of Israel from Egypt, He purposed to establish them in Canaan a pure, happy, healthy people. Let us study the plan of God and see how this was accomplished. He restricted their diet. To a large degree, He took flesh food from them. But they hankered after the flesh-pots of Egypt, and God gave them flesh, and with it <the sure result.> 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 3

The Health Retreat was established at a great cost to treat the sick without drugs. It should be conducted on hygienic principles. Drug medication should be <worked away from as fast as possible until> entirely discarded. Education should be given on proper diet, dress, and exercise. Not only should our own people be educated, but those who have not received the light upon health reform should be taught how to live healthfully, according to God’s order. But if we have no standard in this respect ourselves, what is the need of going to such large expense to establish a health institute? Where does the reform come in? 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 4

I cannot <admit> that we are moving in God’s order. We must have a different order of things, or give up the name Health Retreat; for it is wholly inappropriate. The Lord has shown me that the health institute must not be moulded to meet <the> appetite or any person’s ideas. I am aware that the excuse for the meat-eating allowed in the institution has been that the pleasure-seekers who come are not pleased with any other diet. Then let them go where they can obtain the diet they wish. When the institution cannot be conducted, even for guests, according to right principles, then let it drop the name it has assumed. But the excuse that has been urged does not now exist, for outside patronage is very small. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 5

A positive injury is done to the system by continuous meat-eating. There is no excuse for it but a depraved, perverted appetite. You may ask, “Would you do away entirely with meat-eating?” I answer, “It will eventually come to this, but we are not prepared for <this step> just now.” Meat-eating will eventually be done away. The flesh of animals will not longer compose a part of our diet, and we shall look upon a butcher’s shop with disgust. Again and again I have been shown that God is bringing His people back to His original design, that is, not to subsist upon the flesh of dead animals. He would have us teach people a better way. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 6

We are built up from that which we eat. Shall we strengthen the animal passions by eating animal food? In the place of educating the taste to love this gross diet, it is high time that we were educating ourselves to subsist upon fruits, grains, and vegetables. This is the work of all who are connected with our institutions. Use less and less meat, until it is not used at all. If meat is discarded, if the taste is not educated in that direction, [and] if a liking for fruits and grains is encouraged, it will soon be as God in the beginning designed it should be. No meat will be used by His people. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 7

When meat is not used as it has been, you will learn a more correct way of cooking and will be able to supply the place of meat with something else. Many healthful dishes can be prepared which are free from grease and from the flesh of dead animals. A variety of simple dishes, perfectly healthful and nourishing, may be provided aside from the meat. Hearty men must have plenty of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Occasionally some meat may have to be given to outsiders who have so educated their tastes that they think that unless they have meat, they cannot keep up their strength. But they will have greater powers of endurance if they abstain from meat than if they subsist largely upon it. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 8

The principal objection with physicians and helpers at the Health Retreat to discarding a meat diet is that they want meat and <they plead> they must have meat. Therefore they encourage its use. But God does not want those who come to the Health Retreat educated to live on a flesh diet. By parlor talks and example, educate in the other direction. This will call for great skill in the preparation of wholesome food. More labor will be required, but nevertheless, it must gradually be done. Use less meat. Let those who do the cooking and those who bear the responsibility, educate their own tastes and habits of eating in accordance with the laws of health. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 9

We have been going back to Egypt rather than on to Canaan. Shall we not reverse the order of things? Shall we not have plain wholesome food on our tables? Shall we not dispense with hot biscuits, which only cause dyspepsia? Those who elevate the standard as nearly as they can to the order of God, according to the light God has given them through His Word and the testimonies of His Spirit, will not change their course of action to meet the wishes of the friends or relatives, be they one or two or a host, who are living contrary to God’s wise arrangement. If we move from principle in these things, if we observe strict rules of diet, if as Christians, we educate our tastes after God’s plan, we shall exert an influence which will meet the mind of God. The question is, Are we willing to be true health reformers? 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 10

It is essential that continuous sameness in diet be avoided. The appetite will be much better if changes in the food are made. Be uniform. Do not have several kinds of food on the table at one meal and no variety the next. Study economy in this line. Let people complain if they will. Let them find fault if there is not enough to suit them. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 11

The Israelites always complained of Moses and of God. It is your duty to maintain the standard of health reform. More can be accomplished for sick people by regulating their diet than by all the baths that can be given them. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 12

Let the same amount of money expended for meat be used to purchase fruit. Show the people a right way of living. Had this been done from the first at the institution at Crystal Springs, the Lord would have been pleased and would have approved the effort. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 13

Be uniform in your hours for eating. Two meals are far better than three. We have tried both, and the result is that two meals are better. But some maintained that they cannot get along on two meals a day; they must have something at night. If anything be taken in the evening, let it be very light, and let it be eaten some hours before retiring. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 14

It is the custom and order of society to take a slight breakfast. But this is not the best way to treat the stomach. At breakfast time the stomach is in a better condition to take care of more food than at the second or third meal of the day. The habit of eating sparing breakfast and a large dinner is wrong. Make your breakfasts correspond more nearly to the heartiest meal of the day. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 15

Care and skill should be used in the preparation of food. I hope that Dr. Chamberlain will fill the position assigned her, that she will counsel with the cook, so that the food placed on the tables at the Health Retreat may be in accordance with health reform. Because one is inclined to indulge his appetite, he must not argue that this is the best way to live; he must not by his course of action seek to mould the institution to suit his tastes and practices. Those who bear the responsibility of the institution should frequently counsel together. They should move in perfect harmony. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 16

Do not, I beg of you, argue that meat-eating must be right, because this one or that one, who is a slave to appetite, has said that he could not live at the Health Retreat without meat. Subsisting on the flesh of dead animals is a gross way of living, and as a people, we should be working a change, a reform, teaching the people that there are healthful preparations of food that will give them more strength and better preserve their health than meat. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 17

The sin of this age is gluttony in eating and drinking. Indulgence of appetite is the god which many worship. Those who are connected with the Health Institute should set a right example in these things. They should move conscientiously in the fear of God and not be controlled by a perverted taste. They should be thoroughly enlightened in regard to the principles of health reform, and under all circumstances <should> stand under its banner. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 18

I hope, Dr. Burk, that you will learn more and more how to cook healthfully. Provide an abundance of good, wholesome food. Do not practice economy in this direction. Restrict your meat bills, but have plenty of good fruit and vegetables, and then you will enjoy seeing the hearty appetites with which all will partake of your preparations. Never feel that the good, hygienic food that is eaten is lost. It will make blood and muscle and give strength for daily duties. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 19

Dr. Chamberlain, do not administer drugs. True, drugs may not be as dangerous wisely administered as they usually are, but in the hands of many they will be hurtful to the Lord’s property. Teach tea drinkers to let tea alone. Do not give it to them at the table. If, in some circumstances, it is deemed necessary, let it be taken in a private room, that all cause of stumbling may be removed. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 20

I feel impelled to write this to you this morning. Do not set it aside as unworthy of your attention. I plead for a change in the programme. Educate away from the world’s standard and worldly customs. The work of restoration must go forward. The Lord claims obedience from each one. We are His by creation and by redemption, and we are to render perfect obedience to His wise arrangements. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 21

“I beseech you, therefore, my 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.” [Romans 12:1, 2.] It is the solemn duty of every intelligent being to be doers of His Word. “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.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.] 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 22

The apostle urges obedience to God in appetite and in all our practice. Man is bought with a price, and he is to bring his habits and practices into conformity to the will and mind of Christ, that soul, body, and spirit may be renewed and the moral image of God be restored. But meat-eating means animalism just to that degree in which we indulge in it. Our sensual passions need to be starved to death, not stimulated, that Christ may occupy the soul-temple. This is God’s claim of love. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 23

I have written this in great haste. I hope the peace and grace of Christ may rule in your hearts and throughout your house and beautiful borders. 4LtMs, Lt 3, 1884, par. 24