There was one case in Montcalm County, Michigan, to which I will refer. The individual was a noble man. He stood six feet and was of fine appearance. I was called to visit him in his sickness. I had previously conversed with him in regard to his manner of living. “I do not like the looks of your eyes,” said I. He was eating large quantities of sugar. I asked him why he did this. He said that he had left off meat, and did not know what would supply its place as well as sugar. His food did not satisfy him, simply because his wife did not know how to cook. Some of you send your daughters, who have nearly grown to womanhood, to school to learn the sciences before they know how to cook, when this should be made of the first importance. Here was a woman who did not know how to cook; she had not learned how to prepare healthful food. The wife and mother was deficient in this important branch of education; and as the result, poorly cooked food not being sufficient to sustain the demands of the system, sugar was eaten immoderately, which brought on a diseased condition of the entire system. This man’s life was sacrificed unnecessarily to bad cooking. When I went to see the sick man I tried to tell them as well as I could how to manage, and soon he began slowly to improve. But he imprudently exercised his strength when not able, ate a small amount not of the right quality, and was taken down again. This time there was no help for him. His system appeared to be a living mass of corruption. He died a victim to poor cooking. He tried to make sugar supply the place of good cooking, and it only made matters worse.
I frequently sit down to the tables of the brethren and sisters, and see that they use a great amount of milk and sugar. These clog the system, irritate the digestive organs, and affect the brain. Anything that hinders the active motion of the living machinery affects the brain very directly. And from the light given me, sugar, when largely used, is more injurious than meat. These changes should be made cautiously, and the subject should be treated in a manner not calculated to disgust and prejudice those whom we would teach and help.
Our sisters often do not know how to cook. To such I would say: I would go to the very best cook that could be found in the country, and remain there if necessary for weeks, until I had become mistress of the art, an intelligent, skillful cook. I would pursue this course if I were forty years old. It is your duty to know how to cook, and it is your duty to teach your daughters to cook. When you are teaching them the art of cookery you are building around them a barrier that will preserve them from the folly and vice which they may otherwise be tempted to engage in. I prize my seamstress, I value my copyist; but my cook, who knows well how to prepare the food to sustain life and nourish brain, bone, and muscle, fills the most important place among the helpers in my family.
Mothers, there is nothing that leads to such evils as to lift the burdens from your daughters, and give them nothing special to do, and let them choose their own employment, perhaps a little crochet or some other fancywork to busy themselves. Let them have exercise of the limbs and muscles. If it wearies them, what then? Are you not wearied in your work? Will weariness hurt your children, unless overworked, more than it hurts you? No, indeed. They can recover from their weariness in a good night’s rest and be prepared to engage in labor the next day. It is a sin to let them grow up in idleness. The sin and ruin of Sodom was abundance of bread and idleness.
We want to work from the right standpoint. We want to act like men and women that are to be brought into judgment. And when we adopt the health reform we should adopt it from a sense of duty, not because somebody else has adopted it. I have not changed my course a particle since I adopted the health reform. I have not taken one step back since the light from heaven upon this subject first shone upon my pathway. I broke away from everything at once,—from meat and butter, and from three meals,—and that while engaged in exhaustive brain labor, writing from early morning till sundown. I came down to two meals a day without changing my labor. I have been a great sufferer from disease, having had five shocks of paralysis. I have been with my left arm bound to my side for months because the pain in my heart was so great. When making these changes in my diet, I refused to yield to taste and let that govern me. Shall that stand in the way of my securing greater strength, that I may therewith glorify my Lord? Shall that stand in my way for a moment? Never! I suffered keen hunger. I was a great meat eater. But when faint, I placed my arms across my stomach and said: “I will not taste a morsel. I will eat simple food, or I will not eat at all.” Bread was distasteful to me. I could seldom eat a piece as large as a dollar. Some things in the reform I could get along with very well, but when I came to the bread I was especially set against it. When I made these changes I had a special battle to fight. The first two or three meals, I could not eat. I said to my stomach: “You may wait until you can eat bread.” In a little while I could eat bread, and graham bread, too. This I could not eat before; but now it tastes good, and I have had no loss of appetite.
When writing Spiritual Gifts, volumes three and four, I would become exhausted by excessive labor. I then saw that I must change my course of life, and by resting a few days I came out all right again. I left off these things from principle. I took my stand on health reform from principle. And since that time, brethren, you have not heard me advance an extreme view of health reform that I have had to take back. I have advanced nothing but what I stand to today. I recommend to you a healthful, nourishing diet.
I do not regard it a great privation to discontinue the use of those things which leave a bad smell in the breath and a bad taste in the mouth. Is it self-denial to leave these things and get into a condition where everything is as sweet as honey; where no bad taste is left in the mouth and no feeling of goneness in the stomach? These I used to have much of the time. I have fainted away with my child in my arms again and again. I have none of this now, and shall I call this a privation when I can stand before you as I do this day? There is not one woman in a hundred that could endure the amount of labor that I do. I moved out from principle, not from impulse. I moved because I believed Heaven would approve of the course I was taking to bring myself into the very best condition of health, that I might glorify God in my body and spirit, which are His.
We can have a variety of good, wholesome food, cooked in a healthful manner, so that it can be made palatable to all. And if you, my sisters, do not know how to cook, I advise you to learn. It is of vital importance to you to know how to cook. There are more souls lost from poor cooking than you have any idea of. It produces sickness, disease, and bad tempers; the system becomes deranged, and heavenly things cannot be discerned. There is more religion in a loaf of good bread than many of you think. There is more religion in good cooking than you have any idea of. We want you to learn what good religion is, and to carry it out in your families. When I have been from home sometimes, I have known that the bread upon the table, and the food generally, would hurt me; but I would be obliged to eat a little to sustain life. It is a sin in the sight of Heaven to have such food. I have suffered for want of proper food. For a dyspeptic stomach, you may place upon your tables fruits of different kinds, but not too many at one meal. In this way you may have a variety, and it will taste good, and after you have eaten your meals you will feel well.
I am astonished to learn that, after all the light that has been given in this place, many of you eat between meals! You should never let a morsel pass your lips between your regular meals. Eat what you ought, but eat it at one meal, and then wait until the next. I eat enough to satisfy the wants of nature; but when I get up from the table, my appetite is just as good as when I sat down. And when the next meal comes, I am ready to take my portion, and no more. Should I eat a double amount now and then, because it tastes good, how could I bow down and ask God to help me in my work of writing, when I could not get an idea on account of my gluttony? Could I ask God to take care of that unreasonable load upon my stomach? That would be dishonoring Him. That would be asking to consume upon my lust. Now I eat just what I think is right, and then I can ask Him to give me strength to perform the work that He has given me to do. And I have known that Heaven has heard and answered my prayer when I have offered this petition.
Again, when we eat immoderately, we sin against our own bodies. Upon the Sabbath, in the house of God, gluttons will sit and sleep under the burning truths of God’s word. They can neither keep their eyes open, nor comprehend the solemn discourses given. Do you think that such are glorifying God in their bodies and spirits, which are His? No; they dishonor Him. And the dyspeptic—what has made him dyspeptic is taking this course. Instead of observing regularity, he has let appetite control him, and has eaten between meals. Perhaps, if his habits are sedentary, he has not had the vitalizing air of heaven to help in the work of digestion; he may not have had sufficient exercise for his health.
Some of you feel as though you would like to have somebody tell you how much to eat. This is not the way it should be. We are to act from a moral and religious standpoint. We are to be temperate in all things, because an incorruptible crown, a heavenly treasure, is before us. And now I wish to say to my brethren and sisters, I would have moral courage to take my position and to govern myself. I would not want to put that on someone else. You eat too much, and then you are sorry, and so you keep thinking upon what you eat and drink. Just eat that which is for the best, and go right away, feeling clear in the sight of Heaven, and not having remorse of conscience. We do not believe in removing temptations entirely away from either children or grown persons. We all have a warfare before us and must stand in a position to resist the temptations of Satan, and we want to know that we possess the power in ourselves to do this.
And while we would caution you not to overeat, even of the best quality of food, we would also caution those that are extremists not to raise a false standard and then endeavor to bring everybody to it. There are some who are starting out as health reformers who are not fit to engage in any other enterprise, and who have not sense enough to take care of their own families, or keep their proper place in the church. And what do they do? Why, they fall back as health reform physicians, as though they could make that a success. They assume the responsibilities of their practice, and take the lives of men and women into their hands, when they really know nothing about the business.
My voice shall be raised against novices undertaking to treat disease professedly according to the principles of health reform. God forbid that we should be the subjects for them to experiment upon! We are too few. It is altogether too inglorious a warfare for us to die in. God deliver us from such danger! We do not need such teachers and physicians. Let those try to treat disease who know something about the human system. The heavenly Physician was full of compassion. This spirit is needed by those who deal with the sick. Some who undertake to become physicians are bigoted, selfish, and mulish. You cannot teach them anything. It may be they have never done anything worth doing. They may not have made life a success. They know nothing really worth knowing, and yet they have started up to practice the health reform. We cannot afford to let such persons kill off this one and that one. No; we cannot afford it!
We want to be just right every time. We want to bring our people up to the right position on the health reform. “Let us,” says the apostle, “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” We must be right in order to stand in the last days. We need clear brains and sound minds in sound bodies. We should begin to work in earnest for our children, for every member of our families. Shall we take hold and work from the right standpoint? Jesus is coming; and if we pursue a course to blind ourselves to the soul-elevating truths of these last days, how can we be sanctified through the truth? How can we be prepared for immortality? May the Lord help us that we may commence to work here as never before.
We have spoken of having a series of meetings in this place, and of taking hold to labor for the people. But we dare not put our arms under to lift you. We want you to commence this work of reformation in your own houses. We want those that have been in the background to come up. You must begin to work. And when we see that you have commenced to labor for yourselves, we will come in and lift. We hope to reform your children, that they may be converted to Christ, and that the spirit of reformation may spread all through your midst. But when you appear twice dead, and ready to be plucked up by the roots, we dare not undertake the work. We would rather go to an unbelieving congregation where there are hearts to receive the truth. The burden of the truth is upon us. There are enough to hear the truth; and we long to be where we can speak it to them. Will you help us by going to work for yourselves?
May the Lord help you to feel as you never felt before. May He help you to die to self, and get the spirit of reformation in your homes, that the angels of God may come into your midst to minister unto you, and that you may be fitted for translation to heaven.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 369-378