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Health, or, How to Live

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    PERSONAL OBLIGATIONS

    When conversing with men on the consequences of want of intelligence and practical interest in the laws of physical life, and the importance of waking up to our responsibility in the matter, they will often apologize for their neglect and disregard for the subject during the past, and their indifference and apathy toward any future improvement, by a wholesale, unmeaning condemnation of the conduct of the world on this subject. They say, “We” — meaning all the world — “we know a great deal better than we do — if we were more enlightened, we would not regard it.” This subterfuge, miserable as it is, sums up their excuse for a further neglect of the subject. Because the mass of the people are destroying the true basis of their highest earthly interest, they feel feel justified in letting themselves and children suffer on, under the penalties of ignorance and neglect of organic law.HHTL 341.2

    If the majority of men were steeping themselves in alcoholic liquors, would this afford a valid reason why my feet should tread the same beaten path? The main question is not, what will the world do in this matter? but, what is our duty and our interest, as single individuals — what will we ourselves do in this case? Will we act in accordance with our highest temporal good, and receive the reward, which is as sure as the promise of salvation to the righteous, or will we recklessly pass on and be punished? These are questions for every man and woman and child to settle according to the law of self-love and self-protection, written upon the tablet of every human soul. If we are suffering the ills of violated law, we suffer for ourselves, — a suffering world cannot relieve a single pain; and if we die, we die for ourselves, and the death of others cannot save us. Will we also, as individuals, attend on the duty of taking care of those whom Heaven has committed to our charge? Or will we say, because the rest of the world take no interest in the welfare of their children, we will also let our own go on in the way of suffering and ruin?HHTL 342.1

    Obedience to the laws of health, should be made a matter of individual and personal duty. It is every individual’s duty to study the laws of his being and to conform to them. Ignorance or inattention on this subject is sin; and the injurious consequences of such a course, make it a case of gradual suicide. The idea that we may do what we please with ourselves, is not not only bad policy, and bad economy, but to do so is positively wrong; it is sin against the Author of our being. And when persons knowingly or wantonly expose themselves to disease and death, by violating the laws of life and health, instead of calling the result a visitation of Providence, it should be called an act of suicide.HHTL 342.2

    If a man chew or smoke tobacco till the electric forces of his nervous system are undermined, or the vital properties of his blood are corrupted, or the secreting energies of his liver and kidneys are destroyed, and be consequently be laid upon a premature dying couch, would his sickness and death be properly considered visitations of Providence? To send a note to church in such a case, as it is the custom to do, if the nature of the case were understood, would be insulting to Heaven. And there are thousands of similar notes offered at church, where the disease that has become the burden of prayer, is no more a matter of Providence than is the State-prison for highway robbery, or the hangman’s rope for murder.HHTL 343.1

    If a man has gormandized on meats for a series of years, till his blood and flesh are filled with cancerous or scrofulous humor, shall this infliction of penalty be called a Providence? As well might we call delirium tremens a dispensation of Heaven for the sanctification of the soul. If men will sin against themselves, they must meet the punishment made due by the laws of their own organization. If they will rebel against nature, they must abide the righteous decisions of nature’s court; and from these decisions there is no appeal. The Almighty himself, without a miracle cannot save a man from burning his flesh when it comes in contact with living fire. If he would trust in Providence to save him from suffering, he must himself keep within the limits of divine law, written on the human constitution.HHTL 343.2

    If the path of duty pass through a region of danger, we may trust in Providence; but when we recklessly throw ourselves under the car of Juggernaut, we must be crushed. An American gentleman was suffering severely from ill health. He had consulted the most skillful of American physicians, some of whom told him his sufferings were occasioned by tobacco, and he became himself satisfied that this opinion was correct; but, unwilling to relinquish this enslaving habit, he went to Paris, France, to take the advice of Dr. Broussais, to see if he could not institute some method of recovery which would allow him to continue his habit. Oh, what folly! Why did he not get up a petition, — for a long list of signers could have been obtained, — and send it to the court of Heaven, praying that law, touching this indulgence, might be repealed? Such a step was the only one which could possibly have afforded the slightest hope; for, while law remains as it is, the transgressor must suffer.HHTL 343.3

    The laboring man who eats quick and works immediately after, is not only pursuing a course of bad economy, but is doing wrong to himself and to his Creator. He is diminishing his power and durability for doing good. When a man of intellectual habits neglects to live in accordance with the laws of mind and body, he pursues not only a bad policy, but secures for himself the punishment due to his criminal conduct. The man who lives unnaturally instead of naturally, who allows his system to come under the influence of stimulating drinks, or narcotic and poisonous drugs, does a material and important wrong to himself, and must expect to give account for his criminal conduct on the day of final judgment.HHTL 344.1

    The strange abandonment of principle which characterizes this generation in their treatment of themselves, is almost enough to dishearten the most sanguine hopes of reform. Instead of seeking after a true knowledge of themselves, — the laws which sustain and govern their own animal existence, — and what course of living they ought to adopt to secure for themselves a sound state of health and long life, they foolishly and wickedly inquire, “What shall I eat and wherewithal shall I enjoy the present hour?”HHTL 344.2

    If we tell the devotee to the alcoholic draught, or the more poisonous and filthy narcotic, tobacco, that his daily potations, or the essences of the deadly weed, are secretly gnawing the tender cords that bind his soul and body together, he heeds us not. He will probably acknowledge the facts in the case, and, at the same time, with most perfect indifference to consequences, and insensibility to personal obligations, will answer that he chooses rather to enjoy life while he does live, than to prolong life by curtailing present gratification.HHTL 344.3

    But what is duty — what is right — in the case? Have we a right to prefer present gratification to permanent good? Have we any right to open an artery, and let the blood gradually run away, because we are delighted with the crimson stream? We have just as much right to do this, as we have to use rum, tobacco, tea, coffee, or any other hurtful agent, for mere gratification, against the highest earthly interests of our own life. If we would reach a high attainment in morals or in piety, we must live for it. So, too, if we would have firm and enduring health, we must live for it.HHTL 345.1

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