You should keep before the minds of patients the fact that in suggesting reforms of their habits and customs you are presenting before them that which is not to ruin but to save them; that, while yielding up what they have hitherto esteemed and loved, they are to build on a more secure foundation. While reform must be advocated with firmness and resolution, all appearance of bigotry or an overbearing spirit should be carefully shunned. Christ has given us precious lessons of patience, forbearance, and love. Rudeness is not energy; nor is domineering, heroism. The Son of God was persuasive. He was manifested to draw all men unto Him. His followers must study His life more closely and walk in the light of His example, at whatever sacrifice to self. Reform, continual reform, must be kept before the people; and your example should enforce your teachings.
The case of Daniel was presented before me. Although he was a man of like passions with ourselves, the pen of inspiration presents him as a faultless character. His life is given us as a bright example of what man may become, even in this life, if he will make God his strength and wisely improve the opportunities and privileges within his reach. Daniel was an intellectual giant; yet he was continually seeking for greater knowledge, for higher attainments. Other young men had the same advantages; but they did not, like him, bend all their energies to seek wisdom–the knowledge of God as revealed in His word and in His works. Although Daniel was one of the world’s great men, he was not proud nor self-sufficient. He felt the need of refreshing his soul with prayer, and each day found him in earnest supplication before God. He would not be deprived of this privilege even when a den of lions was opened to receive him if he continued to pray.
Daniel loved, feared, and obeyed God. Yet he did not flee away from the world to avoid its corrupting influence. In the providence of God he was to be in the world yet not of the world. With all the temptations and fascinations of court life
surrounding him, he stood in the integrity of his soul, firm as a rock in his adherence to principle. He made God his strength and was not forsaken of Him in his time of greatest need.
Daniel was true, noble, and generous. While he was anxious to be at peace with all men, he would not permit any power to turn him aside from the path of duty. He was willing to obey those who had rule over him, as far as he could do so consistently with truth and righteousness; but kings and decrees could not make him swerve from his allegiance to the King of kings. Daniel was but eighteen years old when brought into a heathen court in service to the king of Babylon, and because of his youth his noble resistance of wrong and his steadfast adherence to the right are the more admirable. His noble example should bring strength to the tried and tempted, even at the present day.
A strict compliance with the Bible requirements will be a blessing, not only to the soul, but to the body. The fruit of the Spirit is not only love, joy, and peace, but temperance also. We are enjoined not to defile our bodies, for they are the temples of the Holy Ghost. The case of Daniel shows us, that, through religious principle, young men may triumph over the lust of the flesh and remain true to God’s requirements, even though it cost them a great sacrifice. What if he had made a compromise with those heathen officers, and had yielded to the pressure of the occasion by eating and drinking as was customary with the Babylonians? That one wrong step would probably have led to others, until, his connection with heaven being severed, he would have been borne away by temptation. But while he clung to God with unwavering trust, the spirit of prophetic power came upon him. While he was instructed of man in the duties of court life, he was taught of God to read the mysteries of future ages.
Chap. 57 – Economy and Self-Denial
Economy in the outlay of means is an excellent branch of Christian wisdom. This matter is not sufficiently considered by those who occupy responsible positions in our institutions. Money is an excellent gift of God. In the hands of His children it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, and raiment for the naked; it is a defense for the oppressed and a means of health to the sick. Means should not be needlessly or lavishly expended for the gratification of pride or ambition.
In order to meet the real wants of the people, the stern motives of religious principle must be a controlling power. When Christians and worldlings are brought together, the Christian element is not to assimilate with the unsanctified. The contrast between the two must be kept sharp and positive. They are servants of two masters. One class strive to keep the humble path of obedience to God’s requirements,–the path of simplicity, meekness, and humility,–imitating the Pattern, Christ Jesus. The other class are in every way the opposite of the first. They are servants of the world, eager and ambitious to follow its fashions in extravagant dress and in the gratification of appetite. This is the field in which Christ has given those connected with the sanitarium their appointed work. We are not to lessen the distance between us and worldlings by coming to their standard, stepping down from the high path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. But the charms exhibited in the Christian’s life–the principles carried out in our daily work, in holding appetite under the control of reason, maintaining simplicity in dress, and engaging in holy conversation–will be a light continually shining upon the pathway of those whose habits are false.
There are weak and vain ones who have no depth of mind or power of principle, who are foolish enough to be influenced and corrupted from the simplicity of the gospel by the devotees of fashion. If they see that those who profess to be reformers
are, as far as their circumstances will admit, indulging the appetite and dressing after the customs of the world, the slaves of self-indulgence will become confirmed in their perverse habits. They conclude that they are not so far out of the way after all, and that no great change need be made by them. The people of God should firmly uphold the standard of right and exert an influence to correct the wrong habits of those who have been worshiping at the shrine of fashion, and break the spell which Satan has had over these poor souls. Worldlings should see a marked contrast between their own extravagance and the simplicity of reformers who are followers of Christ.
The secret of life’s success is in a careful, conscientious attention to the little things. God makes the simple leaf, the tiny flower, the blade of grass, with as much care as He creates a world. The symmetrical structure of a strong, beautiful character is built up by individual acts of duty. All should learn to be faithful in the least as well as in the greatest duty. Their work cannot bear the inspection of God unless it is found to include a faithful, diligent, economical care for the little things.
All who are connected with our institutions should have a jealous care that nothing be wasted, even if the matter does not come under the very part of the work assigned them. Everyone can do something toward economizing. All should perform their work, not to win praise of men, but in such a manner that it may bear the scrutiny of God.
Christ once gave His disciples a lesson upon economy which is worthy of careful attention. He wrought a miracle to feed the hungry thousands who had listened to His teachings; yet after all had eaten and were satisfied, He did not permit the fragments to be wasted. He who could, in their necessity, feed the vast multitude by His divine power, bade His disciples gather up the fragments, that nothing might be lost. This lesson was given as much for our benefit as for those living in Christ’s day. The Son of God has a care for the
necessities of temporal life. He did not neglect the broken fragments after the feast, although He could make such a feast whenever He chose. The workers in our institutions would do well to heed this lesson: “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” This is the duty of all; and those who occupy a leading position should set the example.
Those whose hands are open to respond to the calls for means to sustain the cause of God and to relieve the suffering and the needy are not the ones who are found loose and lax and dilatory in their business management. They are always careful to keep their outgoes within their income. They are economical from principle; they feel it their duty to save, that they may have something to give.
Some of the workers, like the children of Israel, allow perverted appetite and old habits of indulgence to clamor for the victory. They long, as did ancient Israel, for the leeks and onions of Egypt. All connected with these institutions should strictly adhere to the laws of life and health, and thus give no countenance, by their example, to the wrong habits of others.
It is transgression in the little things that first leads the soul away from God. By their one sin in partaking of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve opened the floodgates of woe upon the world. Some may regard that transgression as a very little thing, but we see that its consequences were anything but small. The angels in heaven have a wider and more elevated sphere of action than we, but right with them and right with us are one and the same thing.
It is not a mean, penurious spirit that would lead the proper officers to reprove existing wrongs and require from all the workers justice, economy, and self-denial. It is no coming down from proper dignity to guard the interests of our institutions in these matters. Those who are faithful themselves, naturally look for faithfulness in others. Strict integrity should govern the dealings of the managers and should be enforced upon all who labor under their direction.
Men of principle need not the restriction of locks and keys;
they do not need to be watched and guarded. They will deal truly and honorably at all times, alone, with no eye upon them, as well as in public. They will not bring a stain upon their souls for any amount of gain or selfish advantage. They scorn a mean act. Although no one else might know it, they would know it themselves, and this would destroy their self-respect. Those who are not conscientious and faithful in little things would not be reformed were there laws and restrictions and penalties upon the point.
Few have moral stamina to resist temptation, especially of the appetite, and to practice self-denial. To some it is a temptation too strong to be resisted to see others eat the third meal; and they imagine they are hungry, when the feeling is not a call of the stomach for food, but a desire of the mind that has not been fortified with firm principle and disciplined to self-denial. The walls of self-control and self-restriction should not in a single instance be weakened and broken down. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, 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.”
Those who do not overcome in little things will have no moral power to withstand greater temptations. All who seek to make honesty the ruling principle in the daily business of life will need to be on their guard that they covet “no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.” While they are content with convenient food and clothing, it will be found an easy matter to keep the heart and hands from the defilement of covetousness and dishonesty.
The habits formed in childhood and youth have more influence than any natural endowment in making men and women intellectually great or dwarfed and crippled; for the very best talents may, through wrong habits, become warped and enfeebled. To a great extent the character is determined in early years. Correct, virtuous habits formed in youth will generally mark the course of the individual through life. In most cases those who reverence God and honor the right will
be found to have learned this lesson before the world could stamp its images of sin upon the soul. Men and women of mature age are generally as insensible to new impressions as is the hardened rock; but youth is impressible, and a right character may then be easily formed.
Those who are employed in our institutions have, in many respects, the best advantages for the formation of correct habits. None will be placed beyond the reach of temptation, for in every character there are weak points that are in danger when assailed. Those who profess the name of Christ should not, like the self-righteous Pharisee, find great pleasure in recounting their good deeds, but all should feel the necessity of keeping the moral nature braced by constant watchfulness. Like faithful sentinels they should guard the citadel of the soul, never feeling that they may relax their vigilance for a moment. In earnest prayer and living faith is their only safety.
Those who begin to be careless of their steps will find that, before they are aware of it, their feet are entangled in a web from which it is impossible for them to extricate themselves. It should be a fixed principle with all to be truthful and honest. Whether they are rich or poor, whether they have friends or are left alone, come what will, they should resolve in the strength of God that no influence shall lead them to commit the least wrong act. One and all should realize that upon them, individually, depends in a measure the prosperity of the institutions which God has established among us.
Chap. 58 – Position and Work of the Sanitarium
While traveling in the State of Maine, not long since, we became acquainted with Sister A, a lady who accepted the truth while at the sanitarium. Her husband was once a wealthy manufacturer; but reverses came, and he was reduced to poverty. Sister A lost her health and went to our sanitarium for treatment. There she received the present
truth, which she adorns by a consistent Christian life. She has four fine, intelligent children, who are thorough health reformers and can tell you why they are so. Such a family can do much good in a community. They exert a strong influence in the right direction.
Many who come to the sanitarium for treatment are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and thus not only are they healed in body, but the darkened chambers of the mind are illuminated with the light of the dear Saviour’s love. But how much more good might be accomplished if all connected with that institution were first connected with the God of wisdom and had thus become channels of light to others. The habits and customs of the world, pride of appearance, selfishness, and self-exaltation, too often intrude, and these sins of His professed followers are so offensive to God that He cannot work in power for them or through them.
Those who are unfaithful in temporal affairs will likewise be unfaithful in spiritual things. On the other hand, a neglect of God’s claims leads to neglect of the claims of humanity. Unfaithfulness is prevalent in this degenerate age; it is extending in our churches and in our institutions. Its slimy track is seen everywhere. This is one of the condemning sins of this age and will carry thousands and tens of thousands to perdition. If those who profess the truth in our institutions at Battle Creek were living representatives of Christ, a power would go forth from them which would be felt everywhere. Satan well knows this, and he works with all power and deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, that Christ’s name may not be magnified in those who profess to be His followers. My heart aches when I see how Jesus is dishonored by the unworthy lives and defective characters of those who might be an ornament and an honor to His cause.
The temptations by which Christ was beset in the wilderness–appetite, love of the world, and presumption–are the three great leading allurements by which men are most frequently overcome. The managers of the sanitarium will often
be tempted to depart from the principles which should govern such an institution. But they should not vary from the right course to gratify the inclinations or minister to the depraved appetites of wealthy patients or friends. The influence of such a course is only evil. Deviations from the teachings given in lectures or through the press have a most unfavorable effect upon the influence and morals of the institution, and will, to a great extent, counteract all efforts to instruct and reform the victims of depraved appetites and passions, and to lead them to Christ, the only safe refuge.
The evil will not end here. The influence affects not only the patients, but the workers as well. When the barriers are once broken down, step after step is taken in the wrong direction. Satan presents flattering worldly prospects to those who will depart from principle and sacrifice integrity and Christian honor to gain the approbation of the ungodly. His efforts are too often successful. He gains the victory where he should meet with repulse and defeat.
Christ resisted Satan in our behalf. We have the example of our Saviour to strengthen our weak purposes and resolves; but, notwithstanding this, some will fall by Satan’s temptations, and they will not fall alone. Every soul that fails to obtain the victory carries others down through his influence. Those who fail to connect with God, and to receive wisdom and grace to refine and elevate their own lives, will be judged for the good they might have done but failed to perform because they were content with earthliness of mind and friendship with the unsanctified.
All heaven is interested in the salvation of man and is ready to pour upon him her beneficent gifts if he will comply with the conditions Christ has made: “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean.”
Those who bear the responsibility at the sanitarium should be exceedingly guarded that the amusements shall not be of a character to lower the standard of Christianity, bringing this institution down upon a level with others and weakening the
power of true godliness in the minds of those who are connected with it. Worldly or theatrical entertainments are not essential for the prosperity of the sanitarium or for the health of the patients. The more they have of this kind of amusements, the less will they be pleased unless something of the kind shall be continually carried on. The mind is in a fever of unrest for something new and exciting, the very thing it ought not to have. And if these amusements are once allowed, they are expected again, and the patients lose their relish for any simple arrangement to occupy the time. But repose, rather than excitement, is what many of the patients need.
As soon as these entertainments are introduced, the objections to theatergoing are removed from many minds, and the plea that moral and high-toned scenes are to be acted at the theater breaks down the last barrier. Those who would permit this class of amusements at the sanitarium would better be seeking wisdom from God to lead these poor, hungry, thirsting souls to the Fountain of joy, and peace, and happiness.
When there has been a departure from the right path, it is difficult to return. Barriers have been removed, safeguards broken down. One step in the wrong direction prepares the way for another. A single glass of wine may open the door of temptation which will lead to habits of drunkenness. A single vindictive feeling indulged may open the way to a train of feelings which will end in murder. The least deviation from right and principle will lead to separation from God and may end in apostasy. What we do once, we more readily and naturally do again; and to go forward in a certain path, be it right or wrong, is more easy than to start. It takes less time and labor to corrupt our ways before God than to engraft upon the character habits of righteousness and truth. Whatever a man becomes accustomed to, be its influence good or evil, he finds it difficult to abandon.
The managers of the sanitarium may as well conclude at once that they will never be able to satisfy that class of minds that can find happiness only in something new and exciting.