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Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2

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    Chapter 53—Extremes in Health Reform

    At the time of the yearly conference at Adams Center, New York, October 25, 1868, I was shown that the brethren in ----- were in great perplexity and distress because of the course pursued by B and C. Those who have the cause of God at heart cannot but feel jealous for its prosperity. I was shown that these men were not reliable. They were extremists and would run the health reform into the ground. They were not pursuing a course which would tend to correct or reform those who were intemperate in their diet; but their influence would disgust believers and unbelievers, and would drive them further from reform, instead of bringing them nearer to it.2T 377.1

    Our views differ widely from those of the world in general. They are not popular. The masses will reject any theory, however reasonable it may be, if it lays a restriction upon the appetite. The taste is consulted instead of reason and health. All who leave the common track of custom, and advocate reform, will be opposed, accounted mad, insane, radical, let them pursue ever so consistent a course. But when men who advocate reform carry the matter to extremes, and are inconsistent in their course of action, people are not to blame if they do become disgusted with the health reform. These extremists do more injury in a few months than they can undo in their whole lives. By them the entire theory of our faith is brought into disrepute, and they can never bring those who witness such exhibitions of so-called health reform to think that there is anything good in it. These men are doing a work which Satan loves to see go on.2T 377.2

    Those who advocate unpopular truth should be most consistent in their lives, and should be extremely careful to shun everything like extremes. They should not labor to see how far they can take their position from other men; but, otherwise, to see how near they can come to those whom they wish to reform, that they may help them to the position which they themselves so highly prize. If they feel thus, they will pursue a course which will recommend the truth they advocate to the good judgment of candid, sensible men and women. These will be compelled to acknowledge that there is a consistency in the subject of health reform.2T 377.3

    I was shown the course of B in his own family. He has been severe and overbearing. He adopted the health reform as advocated by Brother C, and, like him, took extreme views of the subject; and not having a well-balanced mind, he has made terrible blunders, the results of which time will not efface. Aided by items gathered from books, he commenced to carry out the theory he had heard advocated by Brother C, and, like him, made a point of bringing all up to the standard he had erected. He brought his own family to his rigid rules, but failed to control his own animal propensities. He failed to bring himself to the mark, and to keep his body under. If he had had a correct knowledge of the system of health reform he would have known that his wife was not in a condition to give birth to healthy children. His own unsubdued passions had borne sway without reasoning from cause to effect.2T 378.1

    Before the birth of his children he did not treat his wife as a woman in her condition should be treated. He carried out his rigid rules for her, according to Brother C's ideas, which proved a great injury to her. He did not provide the quality and quantity of food that was necessary to nourish two lives instead of one. Another life was dependent upon her, and her system did not receive the nutritious, wholesome food necessary to sustain her strength. There was a lack in the quantity and in the quality. Her system required changes, a variety and quality of food that was more nourishing. Her children were born with feeble digestive powers and impoverished blood. From the food the mother was compelled to receive, she could not furnish a good quality of blood, and therefore gave birth to children filled with humors.2T 378.2

    The course pursued by the husband, the father of these children, deserves the severest censure. His wife suffered for want of wholesome, nutritious food. She did not have sufficient food or clothing to make her comfortable. She has borne a burden which has been galling to bear. He became God, conscience, and will to her. There are natures which will rebel against this assumed authority. They will not submit to such surveillance. They become weary of the pressure and rise above it. But it was not so in this case. She has endured his being conscience for her and tried to feel that it was for the best. But outraged nature could not be so easily subdued. Her demands were earnest. The cravings of nature for something more nourishing led her to use entreaty, but without effect. Her wants were few, but they were not considered. Two children have been sacrificed to his blind errors and ignorant bigotry. Should men of intelligent minds treat dumb animals as he has treated his wife in regard to food, the community would take the matter into their own hands and bring them to justice.2T 379.1

    In the first place, B should not have committed so great a crime as to bring into being children that reason must teach him would be diseased because they must receive a miserable legacy from their parents. They must have a bad inheritance transmitted to them. Their blood must be filled with scrofulous humors from both parents, especially the father, whose habits have been such as to corrupt the blood and enervate his whole system. Not only must these poor children receive a scrofulous tendency in a double sense, but what is worse, they will bear the mental and moral deficiencies of the father, and the lack of noble independence, moral courage, and force in the mother. The world is already cursed by the increase of persons of this stamp, who must fall lower in the scale of physical, mental, and moral strength than their parents; for their condition and surroundings are not even as favorable as were those of their parents.2T 379.2

    B is not capable of taking care of a family. He cannot sustain one as it ought to be sustained, and should never have had one. His marriage was all a mistake. He has made a life of misery for his wife, and has accumulated misery by having children born to them. Some of them exist, and that is about all.2T 380.1

    Those professing to be Christians should not enter the marriage relation until the matter has been carefully and prayerfully considered from an elevated standpoint to see if God can be glorified by the union. Then they should duly consider the result of every privilege of the marriage relation, and sanctified principle should be the basis of every action. Before increasing their family, they should take into consideration whether God would be glorified or dishonored by their bringing children into the world. They should seek to glorify God by their union from the first, and during every year of their married life. They should calmly consider what provision can be made for their children. They have no right to bring children into the world to be a burden to others. Have they a business that they can rely upon to sustain a family so that they need not become a burden to others? If they have not, they commit a crime in bringing children into the world to suffer for want of proper care, food, and clothing. In this fast, corrupt age these things are not considered. Lustful passion bears sway and will not submit to control, although feebleness, misery, and death are the result of its reign. Women are forced to a life of hardship, pain, and suffering because of the uncontrollable passions of men who bear the name of husband—more rightly could they be called brutes. Mothers drag out a miserable existence, with children in their arms nearly all the time, managing every way to put bread into their mouths and clothes upon their backs. Such accumulated misery fills the world.2T 380.2

    There is but little real, genuine, devoted, pure love. This precious article is very rare. Passion is termed love. Many a woman has had her fine and tender sensibilities outraged, because the marriage relation allowed him whom she called husband to be brutal in his treatment of her. His love she found to be of so base a quality that she became disgusted.2T 381.1

    Very many families are living in a most unhappy state because the husband and father allows the animal in his nature to predominate over the intellectual and moral. The result is that a sense of languor and depression is frequently felt, but the cause is seldom divined as being the result of their own improper course of action. We are under solemn obligations to God to keep the spirit pure and the body healthy, that we may be a benefit to humanity, and render to God perfect service. The apostle utters these words of warning: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” He urges us onward by telling us that “every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” He exhorts all who call themselves Christians to present their bodies” a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” He says: “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”2T 381.2

    It is an error generally committed to make no difference in the life of a woman previous to the birth of her children. At this important period the labor of the mother should be lightened. Great changes are going on in her system. It requires a greater amount of blood, and therefore an increase of food of the most nourishing quality to convert into blood. Unless she has an abundant supply of nutritious food, she cannot retain her physical strength, and her offspring is robbed of vitality. Her clothing also demands attention. Care should be taken to protect the body from a sense of chilliness. She should not call vitality unnecessarily to the surface to supply the want of sufficient clothing. If the mother is deprived of an abundance of wholesome, nutritious food, she will lack in the quantity and quality of blood. Her circulation will be poor, and her child will lack in the very same things. There will be an inability in the offspring to appropriate food which it can convert into good blood to nourish the system. The prosperity of mother and child depends much upon good, warm clothing and a supply of nourishing food. The extra draft upon the vitality of the mother must be considered and provided for.2T 381.3

    But, on the other hand, the idea that women, because of their special condition, may let the appetite run riot, is a mistake based on custom, but not on sound sense. The appetite of women in this condition may be variable, fitful, and difficult to gratify; and custom allows her to have anything she may fancy, without consulting reason as to whether such food can supply nutrition for her body and for the growth of her child. The food should be nutritious, but should not be of an exciting quality. Custom says that if she wants flesh meats, pickles, spiced food, or mince pies, let her have them; appetite alone is to be consulted. This is a great mistake, and does much harm. The harm cannot be estimated. If ever there is need of simplicity of diet and special care as to the quality of food eaten, it is in this important period.2T 382.1

    Women who possess principle, and who are well instructed, will not depart from simplicity of diet at this time of all others. They will consider that another life is dependent upon them, and will be careful in all their habits, and especially in diet. They should not eat that which is innutritious and exciting, simply because it tastes good. There are too many counselors ready to persuade them to do things which reason would tell them they ought not to do.2T 382.2

    Diseased children are born because of the gratification of appetite by the parents. The system did not demand the variety of food upon which the mind dwelt. Because once in the mind it must be in the stomach, is a great error, which Christian women should reject. Imagination should not be allowed to control the wants of the system. Those who allow the taste to rule, will suffer the penalty of transgressing the laws of their being. And the matter does not end here; their innocent offspring also will be sufferers.2T 383.1

    The blood-making organs cannot convert spices, mince pies, pickles, and diseased flesh meats into good blood. And if so much food is taken into the stomach that the digestive organs are compelled to overwork in order to dispose of it and to free the system from irritating substances, the mother does injustice to herself and lays the foundation of disease in her offspring. If she chooses to eat as she pleases, and what she may fancy, irrespective of consequences, she will bear the penalty, but not alone. Her innocent child must suffer because of her indiscretion.2T 383.2

    Great care should be exercised to have the surroundings of the mother pleasant and happy. The husband and father is under special responsibility to do all in his power to lighten the burden of the wife and mother. He should bear, as much as possible, the burden of her condition. He should be affable, courteous, kind, and tender, and specially attentive to all her wants. Not half the care is taken of some women while they are bearing children that is taken of animals in the stable.2T 383.3

    B has been very deficient. While in her best condition of health, his wife was not provided with a plenty of wholesome food and with proper clothing. Then, when she needed extra clothing and extra food, and that of a simple yet nutritious quality, it was not allowed her. Her system craved material to convert into blood, but he would not provide it. A moderate amount of milk and sugar, and a little salt, white bread raised with yeast for a change, graham flour prepared in a variety of ways by other hands than her own, plain cake with raisins, rice pudding with raisins, prunes, and figs, occasionally, and many other dishes I might mention, would have answered the demand of appetite. If he could not obtain some of these things, a little domestic wine would have done her no injury; it would have been better for her to have it than to do without it. In some cases, even a small amount of the least hurtful meat would do less injury than to suffer strong cravings for it.2T 383.4

    I was shown that both B and C have dishonored the cause of God. They have brought upon it a stain which will never be fully wiped out. I was shown the family of our dear Brother D. If this brother had received proper help at the right time, every member of his family would have been alive today. It is a wonder that the laws of the land have not been enforced in this instance of maltreatment. That family were perishing for food, the plainest, simplest food. They were starving in a land of plenty. A novice was practicing upon them. The young man did not die of disease, but of hunger. Food would have strengthened the system and kept the machinery in motion.2T 384.1

    In cases of severe fever, abstinence from food for a short time will lessen the fever and make the use of water more effectual. But the acting physician needs to understand the real condition of the patient and not allow him to be restricted in diet for a great length of time until his system becomes enfeebled. While the fever is raging, food may irritate and excite the blood; but as soon as the strength of the fever is broken, nourishment should be given in a careful, judicious manner. If food is withheld too long, the stomach's craving for it will create fever, which will be relieved by a proper allowance of food of a right quality. It gives nature something to work upon. If there is a great desire expressed for food, even during the fever to gratify that desire with a moderate amount of simple food would be less injurious than for the patient to be denied. When he can get his mind upon nothing else, nature will not be overburdened with a small portion of simple food.2T 384.2

    Those who take the lives of others in their hands must be men who have been marked as making life a success. They must be men of judgment and wisdom, men who can sympathize and feel to the depths, men whose whole being is stirred when they witness suffering. Some men who have been unsuccessful in every other enterprise in life take up the business of a physician. They take the lives of men and women in their hands, when they have had no experience. They read a plan which somebody has followed with success, and adopt it, and then practice upon those who have confidence in them, actually destroying the last spark of life; yet after all they do not learn anything, but will go on just as sanguine in the next case, observing the same rigid treatment. Some persons may have a power of constitution sufficient to withstand the terrible tax imposed upon them, and live. Then the novices take the glory to themselves, when none is due them. Everything is due to God and to a powerful constitution.2T 385.1

    Brother C has been occupying an unworthy position in standing as a prop for B. He has been mind for him, and has stood by to sustain and back him up. These two men are fanatics on the subject of health reform. Brother C knows much less than he thinks he does. He is deceived in himself. He is selfish and bigoted in carrying out his views; he is not teachable. He has not had a subdued will. He is not a man of humble mind. Such a man has no business to be a physician. He may have gained some little knowledge by reading, but this is not enough. Experience is necessary. Our people are too few to be sacrificed so cheaply and ingloriously as to submit to being experimented upon by such men. Altogether too many precious ones would fall a sacrifice to their rigid views and notions before they would give up, confess their errors, and learn wisdom by experience.2T 385.2

    Brother C is too set and willful, and too unteachable for the Lord to use to do any special work in His cause. He is too stubborn to let a few sacrificed lives change his course. He would maintain his views and notions all the more earnestly. These men will yet learn to their sorrow that they might better be teachable, and not drive their extreme views, whatever the result may be. The community will be just as well off, and a little safer upon the whole, if both these men obtain employment in some other business where life and health will not be endangered by their course of action.2T 386.1

    It is a great responsibility to take the life of a human being in hand. And to have that precious life sacrificed through mismanagement is dreadful. The case of Brother D's family is terrible. These men may excuse their course; but that will not save the cause of God from reproach, nor bring back that son who suffered and died for the want of food. A little good wine and food would have brought him up from a bed of death and given him back to his family. The father also would soon have been numbered with the dead if the same course had been continued which had been pursued toward the son, but the presence and timely counsel of a doctor from the Health Institute saved him.2T 386.2

    It is time that something was done to prevent novices from taking the field and advocating health reform. Their works and words can be spared; for they do more injury than the wisest and most intelligent men, with the best influence they can exert, can counteract. It is impossible for the best qualified advocates of health reform to fully relieve the minds of the public from the prejudice received through the wrong course of these extremists and to place the great subject of health reform upon a right basis in the community where these men have figured. The door is also closed in a great measure, so that unbelievers cannot be reached by the present truth upon the Sabbath and the soon coming of our Saviour. The most precious truths are cast aside by the people as unworthy of a hearing. These men are referred to as representatives of health reformers and Sabbathkeepers in general. A great responsibility rests upon those who have thus proved a stumbling block to unbelievers.2T 386.3

    Brother C needs a thorough conversion. He does not see himself. If he possessed less self-esteem and more humility of mind, his knowledge could be put to a practical use. He has a work to do for himself which no one else can do for him. He will not yield his views or judgment to any man living, unless compelled to do so. He has traits of character which are most unfortunate and which should be overcome. He is more accountable than B, and his case is worse than his; for he possesses more intellect and knowledge. B has been the shadow of his mind.2T 387.1

    Brother C has a set will; his likes and dislikes are very strong. If he starts on a wrong track, and follows the bent of his mind, not moving in wisdom, and his error is presented before him, even if he knows he is not right, he is so reluctant to acknowledge that he has been in error and has pursued a wrong course that he will frame some kind of excuse to make others believe that he is, after all, about right. This is the reason why he has been left to follow his own judgment and wisdom, which are foolishness.2T 387.2

    In his father's family he has not been a blessing, but a cause of anxiety and sorrow. His will was not subdued in childhood. He had such a reluctance to acknowledge frankly that he had made mistakes and done wrong that, to get out of the difficulty, he would set the powers of his mind at work to invent some excuse that he flattered himself was not a direct lie, rather than humble himself sufficiently to confess his wrong. This habit has been brought with him into his religious experience. He has a peculiar faculty of turning away a point by pleading forgetfulness, when, many times, he chooses to forget.2T 387.3

    His relatives and friends might have been brought into the truth had he been what God would have him to be. But his set ways have made him disagreeable. He has used the truth as a subject to quarrel over. In spite of his father's opposition he has talked Bible subjects in his father's family, and has used the most objectionable subjects to quarrel over, instead of seeking in all humbleness of mind, and with an undying love for souls, to win to the truth and bring to the light.2T 388.1

    When he has pursued a wrong course, evidently unbecoming a disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus, and has known that his words and acts were not in accordance with the sanctifying influence of truth, he has mulishly stood in his own defense, until his honesty has been questioned. He has made the most precious truth for these last days disgusting to his friends and relatives; he has proved a stumbling block to them. His evasions, his bigotry, and the extreme views he has taken have turned more souls away from the truth than his best endeavors have brought into it.2T 388.2

    His combativeness, firmness, and self-esteem are large. He cannot bless any church with his influence until he is converted. He can see the faults of others, and will question the course of this one and that one if they do not fully endorse what he may present; but if anyone receives what he advocates, he cannot and will not see their faults and errors. This is not right. He may be correct upon many points, but he has not the mind which dwelt in Christ. When he can see himself as he is, and will correct the defects in his character, then he will be in a position to let his light so shine before men, that they, by seeing his good works, may be led to glorify our Father who is in heaven. His light has shone in such a manner that men have pronounced it darkness and turned from it in disgust. Self must die, and he must possess a teachable spirit, or he will be left to follow his own ways and be filled with his own doings.2T 388.3

    “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers [not talking the truth in a boasting, triumphant manner], but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.” “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”2T 389.1

    Brother C wants his mind to control others, and unless he can have this privilege he is dissatisfied. He is not a peacemaker. His course will cause more confusion and distrust in a church than any ten persons can counteract. His peculiar temperament is such that he will be picking flaws, and finding fault with all but himself. He will not prosper until he learns the lesson that he ought to have learned years ago, humbleness of mind. At his age he will learn this lesson at much cost to self. All his life he has been trying to build himself up, to save himself, to preserve his own life; and he has lost his labor every time.2T 389.2

    What Brother C needs is to have the deceptive gloss taken from his eyes, that he may look, with eyes enlightened by the Spirit of God, into his own heart, and test and weigh every motive, and not let Satan put a false coloring upon his course of action. His position is extremely perilous. He will soon turn decidedly to the right, or he will go on deceiving others and deceiving himself. He needs to have his inmost soul converted, and to be subdued and transformed by the renewing of his mind. Then he can do good. But he can never come into the light until he encourages a spirit of humble confession and takes hold with decision to right his wrongs and, as far as he can, to do away the reproach he has brought upon the cause of God.2T 389.3


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