Health and Spirituality.
I BEGIN this evening with a thought which is closely connected with what was said last evening. The one thing that I am anxious to get before you is that God is in this human form of ours, and that it is our duty, and that of every person that lives, to accomplish the very best purpose with these bodies. I desire to show you how pure blood will affect character through eternity. Suppose a man's blood is impure, then the liquid that bathes the brain cells has poison in it. These cells are paralyzed. I met a man at the Sanitarium a day or two ago, and I said to him, What are your symptoms? How do you feel? He said, "Doctor, I feel terribly, and sometimes I feel like taking my life almost - it seems as though my life was not worth living." What was the matter? - He was poisoned just as much as though he had taken strychnine or arsenic or some other poison. But these poisons were produced within his own stomach - were produced by that process that causes the coated tongue, that bad taste in the mouth, and he was being poisoned all the time. We sometimes hear of a person suffering from Bright's disease. Such a person is liable to die at any time, and sooner or later he will die. Again, we hear of a person complaining of nervous and one-sided headache. This is only the same thing manifested in another form. The only difference is that one is farther along than the other. One's stomach is in a bad condition, and a man in that condition is laying the foundation for true Bright's disease, also many other diseases, such as rheumatism, insanity, sick headache, nervous headache, and a whole family of kindred diseases, epilepsy, hysteria, and nervousness.
A man suffering from nervousness is simply poisoned, and cannot help being nervous; it is the result of the poison. The great majority of maladies are the result of poisons in the human system. A person whose stomach is poisoned, is not a perfectly sane man; he is living under a cloud, he is in an incubus all the time. He cannot think clearly, cannot be as good a Christian as he ought to be, cannot discern moral principles as well as he ought. The brain is not able to work with great quickness, clearness, and accuracy. Certainly if a man cannot add up a column of figures without making a mistake, he does not have that moral clearness which he ought to have in distinguishing between right and wrong. It is absolutely impossible. If the blood is poisoned, it paralyzes the brain and nerve cells, and we cannot be the men and women we ought to be, because we cease to be as susceptible to the influences of the divine Spirit upon our brains and nerves. Therefore it is very important that we keep our brains in health, in order that we may be able to think the mighty thoughts that God may give us. We cannot possibly indulge in low living and do high thinking. High thinking comes with high living. The man who eats grossly, lives grossly, is certain to think grossly, and cannot possibly be a clear, clean, high thinker.
One point I wish to mention here, and it seems to me to be one of the most important things we have to consider at all: it is that our very characters are born of what we eat. What is character? - It is simply the mode of thinking. A mode of acting is developed as a result of our general habit of living. I met a man not long ago that had come from the slums, and he burst into a perfect torrent of oaths. The night before, he had borne a good testimony in meeting. He said, afterward, Did I swear? And he could hardly be made to believe that he did. The cause of this was that he had formed such a habit of swearing, that he became like the little boy who said he did not lie; it simply told itself. It simply swore itself, it was so easy, so natural an act with him. His tongue uttered the oath before he began to think: there was no premeditation about it. It is this which reveals one's character.
We do a thing before we stop to think. When we do a thing after thinking, it may not be the natural thing; our natural character comes out when we do not think. We think, What would men think of us? What would the Lord think? and we restrain ourselves from doing what we otherwise would do. If we thought we would not receive punishment for an act, we would frequently do it. Just as I heard a man talking about its being enjoyable to commit sin to a certain extent; that it was simply having a good time. Such a man is not necessarily, by nature, more perverse than many others. The man may refrain from doing wrong, from a perverse will, just as much as another does wrong on account of the perverse will. Somebody said that the only difference between a wise man and a fool is, that the fool tells all he thinks, and the wise man keeps it in. The wise man thinks just as much, but keeps it to himself, and does not let other people know what he thinks; but that man is not a truly wise man. The truly wise man is the one who does not think bad things. It requires more than human wisdom, it requires more than human power, to get into that position.
The food we eat, which we take into our stomach, colors, so to speak, our brains and our thoughts. I examined a patient one time. I talked with her about her tastes, examined her stomach, etc. Finally she burst into tears, and began to sob, "Doctor, do tell me what is the matter with me; am I sick or am I wicked?" She said, "I am cross. I scold my husband, I scold my children, I scold my neighbors all the day long, and I have no occasion for it. Now, am I sick, or am I wicked?" I looked at her tongue, examined her stomach, and found a lot of decayed food there, and her breath smelled of decay, and her stomach was the hold of every unclean and hateful germ. There was abundant reason why the woman should be cross and irritable, for every nerve was just strained to the utmost tension. When anything was going to happen, there was such a tension on her nerves that she would scream out. But this poor woman I made perfectly happy by simply telling her that her case was not a case of total depravity, but a case of total indigestion; and we cured her in a week's time by washing out her stomach, and thus she had a clean conscience. It was all done by simply getting her stomach clean. And so we ought to be able to control ourselves with God's help. She was able to control herself. When she was violating the laws of nature, and eating unwholesome things, she might pray as much as she liked, and the Lord could not give her patience and a clean conscience, because that was not in his order. The Lord could not make her a patient woman, while she was taking a sure course to make herself impatient; but by eating proper food that would give her proper nourishment, she could have a clean brain. That is the reason why God has given us so much instruction about diet, - so that he might by and by say to us, "Here is the patience of the saints."
Now, my friends, if ever we want to get where the Lord can call attention to our patience, where he can say, These people are saints, look at their patience, - there are trials and tribulations coming, - if we ever get the patience that is necessary for that time, we will have to get it in the Lord's way. There is no other way we can get it. That poor woman could not be patient to save her life, or to save her soul. She was troubled about it; and there are some of you troubled in that way - because you cannot be patient. That is one of my troubles, too. It is hard to be patient. I am naturally a very impatient person, and it is exceedingly hard to be patient. I have to pray for that more than for anything else. Now I know that I have to live on a plain, simple diet, in order to be the least bit patient, so that any person could live with me. If I lived on the diet that some people live on, I do not believe that I would be patient at all. The Lord will always supplement what we do, but we have to do our duty. Before we can ask God to do something for us that we have not done, we have to do all we can do. If we try to put it off, try to get rid of it, this way, that way, and the other way, we find that we are losing time. We cannot get goodness by simply praying for it; we have to work, as well as pray. We have to exercise faith, and we have to obey; and it is not only faith, it is obedience as well, that God exacts of us. He exacts of us willing obedience; not simply obedience, but willing obedience. So long as we do a good thing merely from a sense of duty, it will not do us any good.
I believe that a man who undertakes to live out health reform from a sense of duty, will make a total failure of it. He will make a failure of it every time. He will do very much as a man in England did some years ago. Elder Loughborough met a brother, and recommended him to eat oatmeal. A year after that he met him again, and asked him how he liked oatmeal, and he said, "My wife does not seem to like it very well. I like it pretty well myself, but my wife wants to know if it would do to cook it. Do you think it would be proper to cook the oatmeal before we eat it?" The poor man had been eating raw oatmeal all the time, because he thought that was health reform, and he liked it pretty well - from a sense of duty, I suppose. So, as long as we undertake to do things from a sense of duty, we will do just some stupid thing like that, that will upset everything, and entirely negative and destroy all the good our obedience might do us.
Now, if we undertake to go about this thing in a willing way, God will enlighten our minds, and he will lead us into right ways; he will help us, and direct us, bringing the right sort of knowledge to our minds, and will bring us in contact with the people who will aid us in a variety of ways to get light and truth that will help us out of our difficulties, so that we shall know just what to do, and how to do it. I think that people years ago tried to live out health reform from a sense of duty, and just as soon as they would begin to backslide a little, they would abandon it altogether. We want to be health reformers because it is a privilege, and because God has implanted this in our bodies; and he is trying to work to the best ends for us. What a privilege it is to think straight in that way; and if we do it in that way, we will get a blessing in doing it.
I want to say a word further about the way it affects the character. Here are these poisons in a person's blood contaminating his brain, so that he cannot think clearly; he cannot be a patient man, he cannot sleep when every nerve is strained to such a tension that it is ready to snap. It would be nothing but a miracle every moment that he should be patient. If he can get in a quiet state of mind, he can control his nerves.
To illustrate that point: I remember some years ago I was in an audience where there was a speaker who was somewhat flowery in his eloquence, and as he swept his hand along across the pulpit, he upset a glass of water, or at least knocked it over, so that it went rolling across the desk. There was a good sister in the audience who saw that tumble and roll along there, and she sprang upon her feet, and screamed, "O!" It made a great deal more disturbance than the glass did. She did not mean it; it came right out before she had time to restrain it. Everybody looked around to see what was the matter with the woman. Now that is the condition of a person who is living in a state of chronic indigestion. He has a lack of self-control, and this lack may be manifested in one way or in another way. It may be in the emotional nature, it may be the excitable propensities of the man, or it may be his lower nature, - it may be any part of the man that becomes excited by these poisons that are found in his body; and he may be led down and down to destruction, to the very lowest depths, to humiliation and debasement. These are all the results of a bad diet.
Now I said that this influence upon the character may have an effect upon the man to all eternity, because day by day we are making our future; our very souls are being molded from day to day. The man's soul is simply his individuality that is wrought out by the co-operation of God's Spirit. It is God working within me, co-operating with his own will, and working out my own individuality; and that individuality depends upon the formation of a man's will. If his mind is bound by disease, so that he cannot act freely, then you can see what the result will be. He will be a poor specimen. Whereas, if the mind and will are free to act, then we have worked out a beautiful individuality, and this individuality when the resurrection comes, is restored in the representation of him again, and that is the resurrection.
I said it affects a man to all eternity, because we are told that we have to begin in the next world where we leave off here. We have to begin very much where we leave off here. But it may be asked that if we have all eternity to live in, why cannot we learn all there? But you might have been very much further along. Life is one school, and eternity is another school, an extension of this earthly school, and we begin there where we leave off here. Now we want to have a little heaven below, and begin to do the things that we expect to do in heaven by and by; and the Lord demands of us the very same things that he did of Adam, so far as we are capable of doing them. Then why shall we not begin here to comply with those same laws and principles, as far as we can with our limitations? When we get over to the new earth, it is going to be Eden restored; for we read that the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like an ox - and that is the one reason why it will be safe for the lamb to lie down with him, because he will eat straw. And a little child shall lead him - a little child can lead him, because the lion eats straw like an ox. The ferocious character that has grown out of their diet departs from them. When Noah brought all these animals into the ark, they were not ferocious. We have no account that Noah took into the ark a whole lot of sheep to feed the lions, or a lot of rabbits for the panthers and bears. He carried in there only the food that God had provided, and it was a natural kind of food which was provided for them, - a food fit for them, the food which God had created for them. So, as I said before, why should we not have a little heaven here below - not simply in the matter of meat-eating, but in everything conform to God's laws as far as we can?