Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6 (1889-1890)


Ms 59, 1890

Hygienic Reform: Our Present Work



Formerly Undated Ms 9. Portions of this manuscript are published in 3SM 292; Te 169; CTBH 117-122. +Note

Let it ever be borne in mind that the great object of hygienic reform is to secure the highest possible development of mind and soul and body. Its aim is not merely physical health, but perfection of the whole being, including holiness of the spirit, a condition which cannot be attained with diseased bodies and minds. All the laws of nature which God has planted in our being are divine and are designed for our good. Obedience to them is a part of true godliness; it not only promotes health, peace, and happiness, but aids in a preparation for the future life. But to every transgression is affixed a penalty, which must sooner or later be realized. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 1

When God led the children of Israel out of Egypt, it was His purpose to establish them in the land of Canaan a pure, happy, healthy as well as righteous, people. Let us look at the means by which He would accomplish this. He subjected them to a course of discipline, which, had it been cheerfully followed, would have resulted in good, both to themselves and to their posterity. He removed flesh food from them in a great measure. He had granted them flesh in answer to their clamors, just before reaching Sinai, but it was furnished for only one day. God might have provided flesh as easily as manna, but a restriction was placed upon the people for their good. It was His purpose to supply them with food better suited to their wants than the feverish diet to which many of them had been accustomed in Egypt. The perverted appetite was to be brought into a more healthy state, that they might enjoy the food given to Adam and Eve in Eden. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 2

Had they been willing to deny appetite in obedience to His restrictions, feebleness and disease would have been unknown among them. Their descendants would have possessed physical and mental strength. They would have had clear perceptions of truth and duty, keen discrimination, and sound judgment. But they were unwilling to submit to God’s requirements, and they failed to reach the standard He had set for them and to receive the blessings that might have been theirs. They murmured at God’s restrictions, and lusted after the flesh-pots of Egypt. God let them have flesh, but it proved a curse to them. “With many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” 1 Corinthians 10:5. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 3

“Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” “And they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 4

As we approach the close of this earth’s history, selfishness, violence, and crime prevail, as in the days of Noah. And the cause is the same—the excessive indulgence of the appetites and passions. A reform in the habits of life is especially needed at this time, in order to fit a people for the coming of Christ. The Saviour Himself warns the church: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” [Luke 21:34.] 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 5

Hygienic reform is a subject that we need to understand in order to be prepared for the events that are close upon us. It is a branch of the Lord’s work which has not received the attention it deserves, and much has been lost through neglect. It should have a prominent place; it is not a matter to be trifled with, to be passed over as non-essential, or to be treated as a jest. If the church would manifest a greater interest in this reform, their influence for good would be greatly increased. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 6

For those who are looking for the coming of the Lord, for those who are called to be laborers in His vineyard—for all who are fitting themselves for a place in the everlasting kingdom—how important that the brain be clear and the body as free as possible from disease. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 7

The Word of God declares: “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other.” [Galatians 5:17.] We are on the battlefield today, where the two great forces of vice and virtue are contending for the mastery. The discordant elements of the one and the pure principles of the other are at work, striving for the conquest of every human soul. Satan approaches each one with some form of temptation on the point of appetite. As Bible believers, we need to take a position for righteousness and truth on this subject as well as on all others. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 8

The tendency in dietetic reform is to bring us back, step by step, to God’s original design that men should subsist on the natural products of the earth. But some do not understand the true principles of reform. Their knowledge is partial, and their views are distorted. They think that it consists in abandoning the use of injurious articles and subsisting on a diet which is really meager and insufficient. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 9

There is another class who do not realize the importance of health principles. They have had abundance of opportunities for becoming acquainted with these principles. They understand the necessity of eating and dressing with simplicity, in obedience to moral and physical laws; but they do not appreciate the privilege of knowledge, and they shrink from the self-denial that a right course involves. I have heard such persons say, I know that I have wrong habits that are injuring my health; but my habits have been formed, and it is next thing to impossible to change and do even as well as I know. These persons are working against their own interest and happiness in this life and are disqualifying themselves to obtain the future life. They are enlightened transgressors of natural law, and God is not responsible for the suffering which they bring upon themselves. Such persons will shun duty in other things. By refusing to practice self-denial in these every-day matters, they blunt the conscience. They cannot, they will not, be susceptible to the sanctifying influence of Bible truth and of the Spirit of God; and to avoid reproach they will violate God’s moral law. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 10

There are many others who are lamentably ignorant on health subjects. Among these are not a few whose profession of Christ requires them to be “temperate in all things.” [1 Corinthians 9:25.] There are also educated men, who can explore the depths of the earth with the geologist, or traverse the heavens with the astronomer, but who take not the slightest interest in the wonderful mechanism of their own bodies. There are yet others who can name and describe the bones and organs of the human body, but are as ignorant of the laws of health and the cure of disease as if life were controlled by blind fate instead of definite and unvarying laws. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 11

Because the principles of health and temperance are so important and are so often misunderstood, neglected, or unknown, we should educate ourselves that we may not only bring our own lives into harmony with these principles, but teach them to others. The people need to be educated, line upon line, precept upon precept. The matter must be kept fresh before them. Nearly every family needs to be stirred up. The mind must be enlightened and the conscience aroused to the duty of practicing the principles of true reform. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 12

Ministers, especially, should become intelligent on this question. As shepherds of the flock, they will be held accountable for willing ignorance and disregard of nature’s laws. Let them find out what constitutes true hygienic reform and teach its principles, both by precept and by a quiet, consistent example. They should not ignore their duty in this matter nor be turned aside because some may call them extremists. At conventions, institutes, and other large and important meetings, instruction should be given upon health and temperance. Bring into service all the talent at command, and follow up the work with publications on the subject. “Educate, educate, educate,” should be the watchword. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 13

In all health institutions instruction in regard to the laws of nature should be made a special feature. The principles of hygienic reform should be carefully and thoroughly set before all, both patients and helpers. The conscientious physician will not fail to talk to his patients plainly of the ruinous effects of self-indulgence in eating, drinking, and dressing, and of the overtaxation of their vital forces—things which have destroyed their health. He will not increase the evil by administering drugs till exhausted nature gives up the struggle, but will aid nature in her work of restoration by a wise use of her own simple remedies. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 14

A great amount of good may be done by teaching the sick how to prevent suffering and disease in the future by the formation of correct habits. This will often be up-hill work, and requires moral courage, for while many will be profited by such efforts, others will be offended. But the God-fearing physician or nurse will not shrink from this work. He will seek to lead the mind away from the prevailing and fashionable errors, and to reform the practice. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 15

One reason why many have become discouraged in practicing health reform is that they have not learned how to cook so that proper food, simply prepared, would supply the place of the diet to which they have been accustomed. They become disgusted with the poorly prepared dishes, and next we hear them say that they have tried health reform and cannot live that way. Many attempt to follow out meager instruction in health reform and make such sad work that it results in injury to digestion and to discouragement to all concerned in the attempt. If you adopt the reform, you should become good cooks. Those who can avail themselves of the advantages of properly conducted hygienic cooking schools, will find it a great benefit, both in their own practice and in teaching others. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 16

In all missions, both home and foreign, women of intelligence should have charge of the domestic arrangements—women who are practical cooks and know how to prepare food palatably and healthfully. The table should be abundantly supplied with food of the best quality. If any have a perverted taste that craves tea, coffee, condiments, and unhealthful dishes, enlighten them. Seek to arouse the conscience. Set before them the principles of the Bible upon hygiene. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 17

This work will require the most delicate tact, the most thoughtful consideration, the most earnest prayer that heavenly wisdom may be imparted. There are many who try to correct the lives of others by attacking what they regard as wrong habits. They go to those whom they think in error and point out their defects, but do not seek to direct the mind to true principles. Such a course often comes far short of securing the desired results. When we make it evident that we are trying to correct others, we too often arouse their combativeness and do more harm than good. And there is danger to the reprover also. He who takes upon himself to correct others, is likely to cultivate a habit of fault-finding, and soon his whole interest will be in picking flaws and finding defects. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 18

Do not watch others to pick at their faults or expose their errors. Do not catch hold of isolated ideas and make them a test, criticizing others whose practice may not agree with your opinion; but study the subject broadly and deeply, and seek to bring your own ideas and practices into harmony with the principles of Christian temperance. Educate others to better habits by the power of your own example. If we move from principle in these things, if as Christian reformers we educate our own taste and bring our diet into harmony with the original plan, we shall not only be benefitted ourselves, but we shall exert an influence upon others by which God will be pleased and honored. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 19

There is something better to talk about than the faults and weaknesses of others. Talk of God and His wonderful works. Study into the manifestations of His love and wisdom in all the works of nature. Study that marvelous organism, the human system, and the laws by which it is governed. Those who perceive the evidence of God’s love, who understand something of the wisdom and beneficence of His laws and the blessings that result from obedience, will come to regard their duties and obligations from an altogether different point of view from that of a hard duty. Instead of looking upon an observance of the laws of health as a matter of sacrifice or self-denial, they will regard it, as it really is, an inestimable blessing. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 20

There is work to be done in the cause of reform—stern, earnest work. Those who engage in it heartily will meet perplexities and difficulties. Yet none should be discouraged because of this or cease their efforts. The prophet says of one characteristic of Christ, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth.” Isaiah 42:4. Then let not His followers talk of failure or discouragement, but persevere, remembering the price paid to rescue man, that he might not perish, but have eternal life. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 21

We cannot be too earnest in seeking to raise the fallen and to shield the weak from temptation. Our human hands are feeble; but we have an unfailing Helper. We must not forget that the arm of Christ can reach to the very depths of human woe and degradation. He can enable us to conquer even the terrible demon of appetite. 6LtMs, Ms 59, 1890, par. 22