The Advent Movement | Survey 5, Part 2

In our last study of The Advent Movement, Survey 5 (part 1), we learned how the message of health reform was first given to us through the founding Advent Pioneers. Inspiration refers to the message and work of medical missionaries as “the right hand of the gospel”. As co-laborers working together with God, we must never lose sight of the purpose of God in giving us these truths; neither shall the methods to be used in accomplishing this great work be forgotten… Join us, as we conclude with part 2 of this week’s Survey*.

As the right hand of the third angel’s message, God’s methods of treating disease 

will open doors for the entrance of present truth.–Testimonies, Vol. 7, p. 59. 


–Unhealthful Ingredients and Practices–

“Tobacco is a poison of the most deceitful and malignant kind, having an exciting then a paralyzing influence upon the nerves of the body. It is all the more dangerous because its effects upon the system are so slow, and at first scarcely perceivable.” – Spiritual Gifts, Volume 4, pg.128

Back then, I don’t suppose that anybody knew the relationship between tobacco and lung cancer, but the suggestion here that tobacco is a poison of the most deceitful and malignant kind, and how that it takes years to bring about its full results, is very interesting. [Sis. White, in her early vision on health, written in the book Spiritual Gifts ] goes on to speak of tea and coffee and the results of using these poisons. Then, on highly seasoned foods, the use of mustard and pepper and spices and other irritating and exciting, stimulating ingredients. She speaks of the danger of using rich food, rich cakes, pies, and puddings.

Now, today, in just the last few years, we have an abundance of light from scientific research on the great harm that rich cakes, rich pies, rich pastries are doing to America… Thousands of Americans are killing themselves just because they’re eating too much fat, especially animal fat, and too many calories of any kind. That’s it. Well, here you see, without any word concerning the particular substance cholesterol, and without any knowledge of that on the part of the prophet herself, the Lord laid down through His messenger great principles to save our people from these afflictions that are filling up the world with sickness, and making a vast hospital.

It is a fact today that because of at least some adherence to these principles, Seventh-day Adventists are much more free from coronaries, heart trouble, hardening of the arteries, than the rank and file of the Americans around them. Aren’t we thankful for these wonderful principles? Wonderful principles. Then she spoke of the importance of simplicity. Simplicity in diet. She spoke of how that would keep from wearing out women, the wives and mothers who spend all their time over the cook stove, trying to just make things to tempt the appetite. She spoke about the importance of children learning to control their appetites, and that a failure to do that predisposed them to indulging vile passions. She spoke definitely of the relationship between the indulgence of appetite and secret vice, and urged mothers to give their children a simple diet and teach them self-control. Then on page 133, she begins to deal at some length with the drugging problem. Some very strong statements are found here. For instance this statement:

I was shown that more deaths have been caused by drug taking than from all other causes combined. – Spiritual Gifts, Volume 4, pg. 133

Doubtless, that statement needs to be read in the light of the background of the practice at that time, such as I have indicated. I would like to suggest, however, that it’s quite unlikely that the enemy has allowed the world to get clear away from the things which he has used so successfully in past ages. So we need to be acquainted with these principles and have wisdom in applying them. You will be interested in reading her detailed statements concerning nox vomica, opium, mercury, and calomel. On page 140 she makes this sweeping statement:

Every poisonous preparation in the vegetable and mineral kingdoms, taken into the system, will leave its wretched influence, affecting the liver and lungs, and deranging the system generally. – Spiritual Gifts, Volume 4, pg. 140

Sometimes, when these things are discussed, people put forth the question, “Well, what is a drug, anyway? Well, here it is, dear friends. When the Spirit of Prophecy uses the word drug, as far as I know, always the use that’s made of that expression is to deal with something which is poisonous. In fact, often the expression is used “poisonous drugs.” There are medicines which the Spirit of Prophecy, of course, speaks of that are helpful. So to use the statements in the Spirit of Prophecy to do away with all medicine is to go beyond what inspired language teaches. On the other hand:

Every poisonous preparation in the vegetable and mineral kingdoms, taken into the system, will leave its wretched influence, affecting the liver and lungs, and deranging the system generally. – Spiritual Gifts, Volume 4, pg. 140

Beginning on 140, the subject of cleanliness of person and premise is given careful coverage. The importance of frequent changing of the clothing (especially the underclothing), of bathing, of exposing the rooms and clothing to air and sunlight. All that is covered. The danger of decaying substances in the yard outside, such as piles of garbage, piles of leaves, or in other ways, anything decaying, refuse of any kind, all that’s pointed out.

Then on 145, some most interesting statements, just think, they were written over a hundred and fifty years ago, friends, on the importance of willpower, the power of the mind in dealing with disease. You know, its only in recent years that the term psychosomatic medicine has come into general use. But, way back then, God gave this people light from heaven, wonderful light on the great importance of using willpower on the side of health, instead of putting it on the side of disease. Also with that, the importance of exercise. Now, I might tell you that many back there, many physicians thought, and even some of these so called health reformers that weren’t Adventists, some that were, they thought that when people were sick, they ought to rest, rest, rest. Well, now she speaks here of rest as a remedy, but she speaks of the importance of exercise, and warns against the views of that time, that invalids should just rest and do nothing in body or mind. She speaks of the importance of invalids being helped to venture out and do something. Those who believed that it was light from heaven, had the benefit of that light.

Then on 146 beginning, she deals with the meat question. She speaks of the danger from disease. She speaks of the way in which animals were prepared for slaughter and the diseased conditions prevailing in those processes…. Finally, she comes to the importance of working in cooperation with Christ in the matter of health and disease, and closes this wonderful chapter with the matter of miracles, and the fact that just because we are challenged to work miracles shouldn’t in any way divert us from being true to these principles. That Jesus in the wilderness was challenged to work a miracle, but He held to the word of God rather than accept the devil’s suggestion.


–How to Live–

Well, that’s a brief review of this early vision. And really, that’s quite a comprehensive survey of health, as we know it today. Isn’t it friends? And all in that great vision at the home of Aaron Hilliard in 1863. Not long after this, James and Ellen White got out another book. This one was called How to Live. It first came out in six pamphlets, and then they were bound together. Each pamphlet consisted of an article by Sister White, relating what the Lord had revealed to her in vision, and then, along with it, statements from medical authorities and others back then, that would help to show the agreement on certain points.

Thus the writings of Dr. Jackson and Dr. Trall and others, that I have mentioned, were used along with the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. Thus, we see that James and Ellen White were glad to put with the light from heaven, statements from doctors from the world that would tend to support that. And so today, it is a good thing in our health education work to be watching for statements from authorities in the medical and scientific world rather than quoting from food faddists, and others, that leave a bad taste in the minds of intelligent people. The six articles by Sister White in this, are in this book, Selected Messages, Book 2. The last part of Selected Message, Book 2 is a verbatim reprint of all that Sister White wrote in this book How to Live, and that begins on page 409. You have here all the inspired part of it, right here. And of course, this is interesting, shall I say as a curiosity, but really it’s amazing how antiquated some of the things are, that the medical men wrote back then, and how up to date the inspired instruction of Sis. Ellen G. White is. That’s the amazing thing.

Now, in these six articles, in “Disease and It’s Causes”, Sister White covered much the same ground as in this Volume 4 of Spiritual Gifts, but much of it is handled more at length, and there are other things brought in. For instance, there is a whole chapter in this on dress, and there are other things quite at length. So if you want to get a presentation of health reform as Sister White started to teach it back from 1863, 1864, 1865, and 1866, read these last six chapters in Selected Messages, Book 2, and there you will have it just as Sister White wrote it back then in the 1860s.

The question came, naturally, did Sister White get the material that she wrote, did she get it from physicians like Dr. Trall and Dr. Jackson and others, or did she get it from the Lord? She answers that herself, and you will find that on page 70 and 71 of Robinson’s book. Sister White was asked in 1867 that very question. The reason she was asked it was because several months after the vision, she went to Dansville, New York, where Dr. Jackson had his, what we’d now call a sanitarium, and there she and her husband spent some time. Some months later they went again for special treatment for Elder White. And so the question came, did what she wrote in those early days, did it reflect what Dr. Jackson and Dr. Trall taught, or was it really light from heaven? She answers that as follows:

It was at the house of Brother A. Hilliard at Otsego, Michigan, June 6,1863, that the great subject of health reform was opened before me in vision. I did not visit Dansville till August 1864, fourteen months after I had the view. I did not read any works upon health until I had written Spiritual Gifts, Volume 3 and 4, Appeal to Mothers, and had sketched out most of my six articles in the six numbers of How to Live. – Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 8, 1867

So, you see, she says that what we have in these early books was material that she got from heaven before she ever went near Dansville. She said:

I did not know that such a paper existed as the Laws of Life, published at Dansville, New York. – Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 8, 1867

She said that as she began to introduce the subject of health reform after the vision, and as different people heard her speak, some of them said:

You speak very nearly the opinions taught by Drs. Trall, Jackson, and others. Have you read their works? – Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 8, 1867

She says that she had not and:

Neither should I read them till I had fully written out my views lest it should be said that I had received my light upon the subject of health from physicians and not from the Lord. – Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 8, 1867

So, she was careful to make sure that she had it written out before she ever even looked at their books. But after she had done it, then she says as she looked at what Jackson and Trall and others had written, some of the things that they wrote were so much in harmony with what the Lord had showed her, that they decided to publish this little book How to Live, where she had extracted from some of their works, and put that along with what God had showed her in vision. So there we have the answer to that question.


–A Clear Distinction–

Now, let’s keep a balance on this, for this is important. Did Sister White get the light on health reform in vision? Yes. Nevertheless we must be careful not to say, for this is not true, that everything that Sister White wrote on health was unknown until she wrote it. That’s an extreme statement, and untrue. Many of the things that she wrote had been spoken and written by others, not Seventh-day Adventists.

But, now we come to a very important point, nowhere was there anybody that had all that she was presenting, and all those who had some of it had mixed with it certain errors. For instance, as you will read here in these early chapters in Robinson’s book, when Elder and Sister White visited this wonderful health institution at Dansville, New York, which was making a wonderful use of hydrotherapy and diet and fresh air and these things, she said that they  had to take along with them a sieve, to sift out what they heard in the lectures. Some of the errors were things like these: They had dancing and card playing there. They thought those things would divert the minds of the patients. Another thing, they didn’t have salt. Sister White soon found that her food didn’t digest as it should without any salt at all, and so finally, Dr. Jackson let her have her meals in her room with some salt.

Sister White was approached in the ladies bathroom one day. Somebody was taking up a collection to pay the fiddler of the dance, but she didn’t contribute, and she didn’t miss the opportunity to express herself on the matter. Nevertheless, Dr. Jackson felt that the Whites were too serious and too religious, and that was one trouble with Elder White; that he had just run himself to death religiously and so he didn’t want so many seasons of special prayer for Elder White, neither did he want Elder White to do any work, either with his mind or body. Well, you’ll find those points covered here as you read it. You will find them in Volume 1, too, very interesting.

The point is, that while Jackson and Trall and those other men had some wonderful points on diet and hydrotherapy and fresh air and sunshine, and some of those things, they erred on certain points, on the amusement question, with some patients on the lack of exercise, and with some patients warning them against religious influences. Although in general some of them believed in religion.

It is interesting, my dear friends, that there are some men today, that claim to be dealing with minds in the right way, that are very jealous of any spiritual influence being brought to bear upon patients, at times, and so we are not over that difficulty.

Now, in 1865, this second visit of Elder and Sister White, where James White went for treatment, resulted in a most interesting sequel. After they had been there for some time, and Sister White felt that James White was not going to get the help he needed, because of the lack of religious influence and some of these other things, she decided that she would leave. And Dr. Jackson said, “Well, if you must leave, don’t go too far away.” So they went just forty-five miles away to Rochester, New York. There they gathered a number of the brethren to pray for Elder White. For ten days, day after day, they pled with God to raise Elder White up. He had had a stroke and he was all run down, physically and mentally. He needed the power of God. And they kept praying, but finally, some of them had to go, but they kept up. For three weeks they prayed, and on Christmas day the answer came; Christmas day 1865.

And again the answer came in giving an answer, not merely for James White, but for hundreds and thousands of other people. There, on that Christmas day, Jesus sent His angel to Ellen White and said, “Tell My people that they must establish an institution of their own. A home where the sick can be treated and where they can learn how to get well and keep well.” I want you to give careful attention and study to two chapters in Volume 1, on this. One, starting on page 489 and the other, on page 553. Study carefully these two wonderful chapters. See what this vision of Christmas day called for. And shall I tell you something phenomenal, almost unprecedented? That was Christmas day. By September of the following year, 1866, the Battle Creek Sanitarium, called then The Western Health Reform Institute, had opened its door in Battle Creek. In those few months our people had rallied, subscribed money, bought a property, remodeled a home, and added rooms for hydrotherapy and had a water system. They had two doctors there, a man doctor and a lady doctor and some helpers, and had opened for patients by September of 1866. Read the story in Robinson’s book.

Not only that; they had established a health journal that came out with its first issue, August of 1866, called The Health Reformer. I think that’s wonderful. Don’t you friends? Isn’t that fast work? Ah, yes. Right at that time a warning was sounded as to what would be the greatest danger in this work. You will find it on page 560 in one of these chapters I gave you. Please note it:

I saw that in an institution established among us the greatest danger would be of its managers departing from the spirit of present truth and from that simplicity which should ever characterize the disciples of Christ. – Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1, page 560

Oh, what prophetic foreknowledge is indicated there, when you think that the time finally came when the great Battle Creek sanitarium went clear out from us, because of those two points, a failure to stick with present truth and a departing from the simplicity of Christ; a losing sight of the purpose of evangelism. The great object of receiving unbelievers into the institution is to lead them to embrace the truth. Evangelism was the keynote in God’s program.

So as we study this early history, let us remember that God is seeking now to bring His people back to the blueprint, back to the blueprint.

A friend of mine in another state was helping to build a church. One morning he came on the job and said to the pastor, “Pastor, it looks to me that the front part of this wall is out of plumb.” Well”, the pastor said, “Well, let’s see.” So they got a plumb line and dropped it, and sure enough, it was out of line.

Presently the foreman of that part of the work came on the job, and he called his attention to it. He said, “Well, let’s see”. They dropped the plumb line, and sure enough, it was out of line. What do you suppose they said, friends? Do you suppose they said, “Oh, well, the wall is nearly up. We’ll just leave it that way”? Do you think they did? No, no. They took it down and made it plumb.

Let’s be sure that what we build is according to the blueprint.


-Continue on to the next study-

* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.