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    FOOD, AIR, AND EXERCISE

    THE Bible was given for the well-being of man in this life, as well as a rule by which he may attain to immortal life. And the first grand hygienic rule laid down was that which prescribed man’s diet. God said to Adam, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” 1Genesis 1:29. To every tree of the garden, excepting one, our first parents were to have free access. 2Genesis 2:16, 17.BHY 169.1

    The very general belief that the Bible sustains flesh-eating, swine’s flesh not excepted, makes it difficult to impress the minds of Christian men and women with the importance of adopting the vegetarian diet, until this false notion is removed. We are aware, however, that it is no small task to remove prejudice from minds, especially on subjects in which appetite is concerned.BHY 169.2

    There are certain facts which have an important bearing upon the subject of flesh as an article of food. These we will briefly notice.BHY 169.3

    It was not the plan of God in creation that the life of any of his creatures should be taken. Death, in man or beast, wherever it might exist, came in consequence of sin, and this whole mammoth custom of taking the life of God’s creatures to sustain human life, is simply the fruit of transgression. Had our first parents maintained their Eden innocence, had the curse never fallen upon man or beast, the earth would never have been stained with a drop of blood; the almost universal custom of flesh-eating, with its attendant pain and death, would never have been known.BHY 169.4

    The Creator, in definitely stating what should constitute food for man, did not mention flesh. If he had formed the human teeth to tear the flesh of animals, as some urge, and designed that we should subsist largely upon animal food, flesh would have been at least mentioned in Adam’s bill of fare. The word meat, as used in the Bible, means simply food, and is so defined by the best authorities. The American Tract Society’s Bible Dictionary says: “Meat, in the English Bible, usually signifies food, and not merely flesh. Genesis 1:29, 30; Matthew 15:37. So in Luke 24:41: ‘Have ye here any meat?’ literally, anything to eat? The meat-offerings of the Jews were made of flour and oil. Leviticus 2.” William Smith, classical examiner of the University of London, in his Dictionary of the Bible, says of the word meat: “It does not appear that the word meat is used in any one instance in the authorized version of either the Old or the New Testament in the sense which it now almost exclusively bears of animal food. The latter is denoted uniformly by flesh.” Animal food, then, did not constitute any part of the bill of fare of the holy pair in Eden. As true as the book of Genesis, that first venerable gentleman, who lived nine hundred and thirty years, without either the dyspepsia or the gout, was a vegetarian.BHY 169.5

    So far as we can learn from the sacred record, it was not until after the flood, a period of more than sixteen hundred years from the expulsion from Eden, that permission was given man to eat flesh. Its use had then become a matter of necessity. The waters of the flood had been upon the earth more than a year. By this time the patriarch’s stock of provisions must have been very low, and the desolated earth could furnish nothing until it could be produced from the seed preserved in the ark. In this state of things, God said to Noah, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” 1Genesis 9:3. The very language of this permission conveys the idea that, up to that time, the green herb, or that which grew out of the ground, — vegetables, fruits, and grains, — constituted man’s diet.BHY 170.1

    And certainly, judging from the sacred record, that was a time of remarkably good health. From Adam to Noah, a period of more than sixteen hundred years of vegetarian living, no mention is made of the sickness and death of children, of feebleness in youth or middle age, or of fevers, dyspepsia, gout, or consumption. All lived in the full enjoyment of health nearly one thousand years, or until the springs of life, at last grown weary, stood still. Obituary notices of that time do not mention local diseases, which in our day are caused by the breaking down of certain organs of the system while others remain strong. We read of no sufferings long drawn out, no excruciating agonies in death. The record simply gives the measure of each life, and its cessation.BHY 170.2

    “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.”BHY 171.1

    “And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died.”BHY 171.2

    “And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years; and he died.”BHY 171.3

    “And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years; and he died.”BHY 171.4

    “And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years; and he died.”BHY 171.5

    “And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years; and he died.”BHY 171.6

    “And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years; and he died.”BHY 171.7

    “And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years; and he died.” 1See Genesis 5.BHY 171.8

    As the second hygienic principle in the ample provision for man’s happy existence, we notice the natural beauties with which the Creator surrounded him. “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight.” 2Genesis 2:9. If after the three-fold curse on account of sin — first, that which followed the sin of Adam; second, that which followed the first murder; and, third, the terrible curse of the flood, which left a large portion of the earth’s surface in its present broken and barren condition — if after six thousand years of the blighting, dwindling, deforming influence of the curse, there remains real beauty in the trees, vines, shrubs, and flowers, — a beauty more exquisite than can be found in the finest works of art, — what must have been the grandeur and glory of the trees and flowers of Paradise, fresh from the hand of the Infinite Artist!BHY 171.9

    And the Son of God, in addressing the “innumerable multitude,” pointed them to the delicate lily, declaring that “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” 1Matthew 6:29. The superiority of the works of nature over those of art, was not a matter of debate with the Son of God. A single lily in his day, from the soil which had long felt the blight and mildew of the curse, possessed more glory than Solomon in all his royal array. If this be true of a single lily of the field four thousand years from the original glory of creation, what must have been the delights of our first parents as they stood in Eden before sin had paralyzed their senses, or the curse had touched a single leaf!BHY 172.1

    Man’s employment, as seen in the original design, is also worthy of notice. “The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” 2Genesis 2:15. Man was designed for activity in the open light of the sun and the free air of heaven. These conditions were important to the joys of his existence. The subsequent curse upon Adam was not in that he should labor, but that his labors should be attended with difficulties. 3Genesis 3:17-19.BHY 172.2

    The natural habits of the people for the first generations after the fall were evidently conducive to longevity and health. There is no mention of houses until the flood. Before that event, and long after it, many of the people, at least, dwelt in tents. Hiding away from sunlight and pure air, behind closed doors, together with other artificial habits, has well-nigh ruined the race. None but those worthy of death, or the next thing to it — close confinement in prison — should be made to suffer such wretched treatment. We admire that simple wisdom which said, “Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.” 1Ecclesiastes 11:7.BHY 172.3

    Proper exercise in the open air and genial sunshine, ranks among God’s highest and richest blessings to man. It gives form and strength to the physical organism, and, all other habits being equal, is the surest safeguard against disease and premature decay. Being man’s natural condition, it also gives buoyancy and strength to thought, and the mind maintains a healthful balance, free from the extremes resulting from artificial life.BHY 173.1

    It is true that artificial habits, which are in almost everything wrong, have so far perverted and enfeebled our nature that we are ill-prepared to enter at once upon the natural habits of the worthy patriarchs. We cannot begin where they did. Something may be done, but it is vain to talk of regaining all that has been lost in size, strength, health, and length of days. For this, however, we earnestly plead, that the spirit of reform in habits of life may get hold of the minds of sensible men and women, and that the rapid downward current may be checked.BHY 173.2

    The tendency to feebleness and premature decay in American women, is too evident to admit of a doubt, and to no one thing is it so clearly traceable as to their habit of staying so closely in-doors. The aboriginal women of our country are as strong as the men. And why? — Simply because their habits are so nearly like those of the men, — spending, as they do, so much of their time in the open air. This is also true, to a large extent, of European women who labor side by side with their husbands in the field.BHY 173.3

    Every room, and especially every sleeping-room, in the house, should be well-ventilated throughout the year, both by day and by night. The amount of out-door air that should be admitted, must be regulated by its temperature, and by the ability of the inmates to endure. Every man, woman, and child should enjoy as much of God’s good sunshine as the circumstances will possibly allow. Admit the light and air, friends, into your houses, and let these grand medicines, wisely mixed by our gracious God, make you strong, healthy, and happy.BHY 173.4

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