Those who have made a wrong use of means dedicated to God will be required to give an account of their stewardship. Some have selfishly grasped means because of their love of gain. Others have not a tender conscience; it has become seared through long-cherished selfishness. They view sacred and eternal things from a low standpoint. Through their long continuance in a wrong course their moral sensibilities seem paralyzed. It seems impossible to elevate their views and feelings to the exalted standard clearly brought to view in the word of God. Unless there is a thorough transformation by the renewing of the mind, this class will find no place in heaven. Those who have pursued a course of selfishness and wrong, not regarding even the treasury of God as sacred, could not appreciate the purity and holiness of the sanctified in the kingdom of heaven, or the value of the rich glory, the eternal reward, reserved for the faithful overcomers. Their minds have so long run in a low, selfish channel that they cannot appreciate eternal things. They do not value salvation. It seems impossible to elevate their minds to rightly estimate the plan of salvation or the value of the atonement. Selfish interests have engrossed the entire being; like a loadstone they hold the mind and affections, binding them down to a low level. Some of these persons will never attain to perfection of Christian character because they do not see the value and necessity of such a character. Their minds cannot be elevated so that they will be charmed with holiness. Self-love and selfish interests have so warped the character that they cannot be made to distinguish the sacred and eternal from the common. God’s cause and His treasury are no more sacred to them than common business or means devoted to worldly purposes.
Duties in this direction are binding upon all who profess to be followers of Christ. God’s law specifies their duty to their fellow men: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” By a disregard of justice, mercy, and benevolence to their neighbor, some have so hardened the heart that they can go still further, and even rob God without compunctions of conscience. Do such close their eyes and their understanding to the fact that God knows, that He reads their every action and the motive which impelled them to it? His reward is with Him, and His work before Him, to give to every man according as his work shall be. Every good and every wrong act, and its influence upon others, is traced out by the Searcher of hearts, to whom every secret is revealed. And the reward will be according to the motives which prompted the action.
Notwithstanding the repeated warnings and reproofs which the Lord has sent them, those who have occupied responsible positions have followed their own ways and been guided by their own unsanctified judgment, and, in consequence, the cause of God has suffered, and souls have been turned from the truth. All who are thus guilty will have a fearful record to meet in the day of final retribution. If they are ever saved, it will be by no common effort on their part; their past life must be seen by them and redeemed. If this work be entered upon with sincerity, and followed with perseverance and untiring earnestness, it will be wholly successful; but many will not succeed because the earnestness with which they commence the work dies down to listlessness and carelessness. Their efforts are right at first, as they have some sense of their condition; but they seek to forget the past, and pass over it without taking up the stumbling blocks and making thorough work. Their repentance is not genuine sorrow that through their influence God has been dishonored and souls for whom Christ died have been lost. They make spasmodic efforts and show great feeling; but the fact that the efforts cease, that this feeling soon passes off and is succeeded by listless indifference, evinces that God was not fully in the work. The feelings were for a time wrought upon; but the work did not reach deep enough to change the principles which governed their actions. They are as liable to be led again into the same wrong course as they were at first; for they have not strength to withstand the wiles of Satan, but are subject to his devices.
The life of a true Christian is ever onward. There is no standing still nor going back. It is your privilege to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”
I entreat all, especially those who minister in word and doctrine, to make an unreserved surrender to God. Consecrate your lives to Him, and be indeed ensamples to the flock. Be no longer content to remain dwarfs in spiritual things. Let your aim be nothing short of perfection of Christian character. Let your lives be unselfish and blameless, that they may ever be a living rebuke to those who are selfish and whose affections seem to be upon their earthly treasure. God grant that you may be strengthened according to the riches of His glory, “with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Chapter 62—Exercise and Air
In the creation of man the Lord designed that he should be active and useful. Yet many live in this world as useless machines, as though they hardly existed. They brighten the path of none, they are a blessing to none. They live only to burden others. So far as their influence on the side of right is concerned, they are mere ciphers; but they tell with weight upon the wrong side. Search the lives of such closely, and scarcely an act of disinterested benevolence can be found. When they die, their memory dies with them. Their names soon perish; for they cannot live, even in the affections of their friends, by means of true goodness and virtuous acts. With such persons life has been a mistake. They have not been faithful stewards. They have forgotten that their Creator has claims upon them and that He designs them to be active in doing good and in blessing others with their influence. Selfish interests attract the mind and lead to forgetfulness of God and of the purpose of their Creator.
All who profess to be followers of Jesus should feel that a duty rests upon them to preserve their bodies in the best condition of health, that their minds may be clear to comprehend heavenly things. The mind needs to be controlled, for it has a most powerful influence upon the health. The imagination often misleads, and when indulged, brings severe forms of disease upon the afflicted. Many die of diseases which are mostly imaginary. I am acquainted with several who have brought upon themselves actual disease by the influence of the imagination.
One sister was carried by her husband from chair to bed, and from room to room, because she thought that she was too feeble to walk. But as the case was afterward presented to me, she could have walked as well as myself if she had thought so. Had an accident occurred,—had the house taken fire, or one of her children been in imminent danger of losing life by a fall,—this woman would have been aroused by the force of circumstances, and would have walked quite readily and briskly. She could walk, so far as physical strength was concerned; but diseased imagination led her to conclude that she could not, and she did not arouse the power of the will to resist this deception. The imagination said: You cannot walk, and you had better not try. Sit still; your limbs are so weak that you cannot stand. Had this sister exerted her will power and aroused her benumbed and dormant energies, this deception would have been exposed. In consequence of yielding to the imagination, she probably thinks, to this day, that when she was so helpless she was so of necessity; but this was purely a freak of the imagination, which sometimes plays strange tricks upon diseased mortals.
Some are so afraid of air that they will muffle up their heads and bodies until they look like mummies. They sit in the house, generally inactive, fearing they shall weary themselves and get sick if they exercise either indoors or out in the open air. They could take habitual exercise in the open air every pleasant day, if they only thought so. Continued inactivity is one of the greatest causes of debility of body and feebleness of mind. Many are sick who ought to be in very good health and thus in possession of one of the richest blessings they could enjoy.
I have been shown that many who are apparently feeble, and are ever complaining, are not so badly off as they imagine themselves to be. Some of these have a powerful will, which, exercised in the right direction, would be a potent means of controlling the imagination and thus resisting disease. But it is too frequently the case that the will is exercised in a wrong direction and stubbornly refuses to yield to reason. That will has settled the matter; invalids they are, and the attention due to invalids they will have, irrespective of the judgment of others.
I have been shown mothers who are governed by a diseased imagination, the influence of which is felt upon husband and children. The windows must be kept closed because the mother feels the air. If she is at all chilly, and a change is made in her clothing, she thinks her children must be treated in the same manner, and thus the entire family are robbed of physical stamina. All are affected by one mind, physically and mentally injured through the diseased imagination of one woman, who considers herself a criterion for the whole family. The body is clothed in accordance with the caprices of a diseased imagination and smothered under an amount of wrappings which debilitates the system. The skin cannot perform its office; the studied habit of shunning the air and avoiding exercise, closes the pores,—the little mouths through which the body breathes,—making it impossible to throw off impurities through that channel. The burden of labor is thrown upon the liver, lungs, kidneys, etc., and these internal organs are compelled to do the work of the skin. Thus persons bring disease upon themselves by their wrong habits; yet, in the face of light and knowledge, they will adhere to their own course. They reason thus: “Have we not tried the matter? and do we not understand it by experience?” But the experience of a person whose imagination is at fault should not have much weight with anyone.
The season most to be dreaded by one going among these invalids is winter. It is winter indeed, not only outdoors, but in, to those who are compelled to live in the same house and sleep in the same room. These victims of a diseased imagination shut themselves indoors and close the windows, for the air affects their lungs and their heads. Imagination is active; they expect to take cold, and they will have it. No amount of reasoning can make them believe that they do not understand the philosophy of the whole matter. Have they not proved it? they will argue. It is true that they have proved one side of the question,—by persisting in their own course,—and yet they do take cold if in the least exposed. Tender as babies, they cannot endure anything; yet they live on, and continue to close the windows and doors, and hover over the stove, and enjoy their misery. They have surely proved that their course has not made them well, but has increased their difficulties. Why will not such allow reason to influence the judgment and control the imagination? Why not now try an opposite course, and in a judicious manner obtain exercise and air out of doors, instead of remaining in the house from day to day, more like a bundle of drygoods than an active being?
The chief if not the only reason why many become invalids is that the blood does not circulate freely, and the changes in the vital fluid, which are necessary to life and health, do not take place. They have not given their bodies exercise nor their lungs food, which is pure, fresh air; therefore it is impossible for the blood to be vitalized, and it pursues its course sluggishly through the system. The more we exercise, the better will be the circulation of the blood. More people die for want of exercise than through overfatigue; very many more rust out than wear out. Those who accustom themselves to proper exercise in the open air will generally have a good and vigorous circulation. We are more dependent upon the air we breathe than upon the food we eat. Men and women, young and old, who desire health, and who would enjoy active life, should remember that they cannot have these without a good circulation. Whatever their business and inclinations, they should make up their minds to exercise in the open air as much as they can. They should feel it a religious duty to overcome the conditions of health which have kept them confined indoors, deprived of exercise in the open air.
Some invalids become willful in the matter and refuse to be convinced of the great importance of daily outdoor exercise, whereby they may obtain a supply of pure air. For fear of taking cold, they persist, from year to year, in having their own way and living in an atmosphere almost destitute of vitality. It is impossible for this class to have a healthy circulation. The entire system suffers for want of exercise and pure air. The skin becomes debilitated and more sensitive to any change in the atmosphere. Additional clothing is put on, and the heat of the room increased. The next day they require a little more heat and a little more clothing in order to feel perfectly warm, and thus they humor every changing feeling until they have but little vitality to endure any cold. Some may inquire: “What shall we do? Would you have us remain cold?” If you add clothing, let it be but little, and exercise, if possible, to regain the heat you need. If you positively cannot engage in active exercise, warm yourselves by the fire; but as soon as you are warm, lay off your extra clothing and remove from the fire. If those who can, would engage in some active employment to take the mind from themselves, they would generally forget that they were chilly and would not receive harm. You should lower the temperature of your room as soon as you have regained your natural warmth. For invalids who have feeble lungs, nothing can be worse than an overheated atmosphere.
Invalids too often deprive themselves of sunlight. This is one of nature’s most healing agents. It is a very simple, therefore not a fashionable remedy, to enjoy the rays of God’s sunlight and beautify our homes with its presence. Fashion takes the greatest care to exclude the light of the sun from parlors and sleeping rooms by dropping curtains and closing shutters, as though its rays were ruinous to life and health. It is not God who has brought upon us the many woes to which mortals are heirs. Our own folly has led us to deprive ourselves of things that are precious, of blessings which God has provided and which, if properly used, are of inestimable value for the recovery of health. If you would have your homes sweet and inviting, make them bright with air and sunshine. Remove your heavy curtains, open the windows, throw back the blinds, and enjoy the rich sunlight, even if it be at the expense of the colors of your carpets. The precious sunlight may fade your carpets, but it will give a healthful color to the cheeks of your children. If you have God’s presence and possess earnest, loving hearts, a humble home made bright with air and sunlight, and cheerful with the welcome of unselfish hospitality, will be to your family, and to the weary traveler, a heaven below.
Many have been taught from childhood that night air is positively injurious to health and therefore must be excluded from their rooms. To their own injury they close the windows and doors of their sleeping apartments to protect themselves from the night air which they say is so dangerous to health. In this they are deceived. In the cool of the evening it may be necessary to guard from chilliness by extra clothing, but they should give their lungs air.
On an autumn evening we were once traveling in a crowded car, where the atmosphere was rendered very impure by the mingling of so many breaths. The exhalations from lungs and bodies caused a most sickening sensation to come over me. I raised my window and was enjoying the fresh air, when a lady, in earnest, imploring tones, cried out: “Do put down that window. You will take cold and be sick, for the night air is so unhealthy.” I replied: “Madam, we have no other air, in this car or out of it, but night air. If you refuse to breathe night air, then you must stop breathing. God has provided for His creatures air to breathe for the day, and the same, made a little cooler, for the night. In the night it is not possible for you to breathe anything but night air. The question is: Shall the night air we breathe be pure, or is it improved after it has been breathed over and over? Is it for our health to breathe the polluted night air of this car? The exhalations thrown off by the lungs and bodies of men steeped in tobacco and alcohol, pollute the air and endanger health; and yet nearly all the passengers sit as indifferent as though inhaling the purest atmosphere. God has wisely provided for us, that in the night we should breathe night air, and in the day, the air of the day. If we fail to answer the plan of God, and the blood becomes impure, our wrong habits have made it thus. But the air of night, breathed in the night, will not of itself poison the current of human life.” Many are suffering from disease because they refuse to receive into their rooms at night the pure night air. The free, pure air of heaven is one of the richest blessings we can enjoy.
Another precious blessing is proper exercise. There are many indolent, inactive ones who are disinclined to physical labor or exercise because it wearies them. What if it does weary them? The reason why they become weary is that they do not strengthen their muscles by exercise, therefore they feel the least exertion. Invalid women and girls are better pleased to busy themselves with light employment, as crocheting, or embroidering, or making tatting, than to engage in physical labor. If invalids would recover health, they should not discontinue physical exercise; for they will thus increase muscular weakness and general debility. Bind up the arm and permit it to remain useless, even for a few weeks, then free it from its bondage, and you will discover that it is weaker than the one you have been using moderately during the same time. Inactivity produces the same effect upon the whole muscular system. The blood is not enabled to expel the impurities as it would if active circulation were induced by exercise.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 519-528