The minister of the gospel is charged with a solemn responsibility. In accepting his sacred work, he stands as the oracle of God, as a steward of divine truth. This is emphasized in the call of the Lord to Ezekiel, as brought to view in the second and third chapters of his prophecy. Ezekiel was to proclaim to Israel of old the message of the Lord, "whether they will hear or whether they will forbear." And only in executing faithfully this commission would he be able to clear his own soul.
The minister of the gospel preaches not alone by the message he gives from the desk, but even more effectively by the life he lives, by the manner in which he represents his teaching in his own practice. The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy:
"Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. . . Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim. 4:12-16.
In the concrete application. of these principles to our own work and ministry, we may say this: The one who tells others effectively of a Saviour from sin, must know the power of forgiveness and cleansing in his own heart. The one who preaches the observance of the Sabbath should himself be a Sabbathkeeper in the true spirit of Sabbath observance. The one who preaches the nearness of the coming of the Lord, in order for his words to have their designed effect, must show by a well-ordered life that he believes in the imminence of the Lord's return. If in careless deportment, in his business transactions, in his life plans and purposes, he shows that he is putting off the coming of Christ, his pulpit utterances will have but little effect. The one who teaches the Bible plan for the support of the gospel ministry must himself faithfully tithe his own personal income. Otherwise, his own practice will nullify the truth he teaches to others.
At the Autumn Council
There was a striking recognition of this principle at the recent Autumn Council held in Fort Worth, Texas. The principle was applied partieula-Efto the question. of health principles, and emphasis was placed not only upon the need of our workers' teaching these principles as a part of the gospel message for this day, but of their being living examples of their own instruction.
In the meeting of conference presidents immediately preceding the Autumn Council, Elder M. N. Campbell, vice-president for the North American Division, placed special emphasis upon. the value of these principles. In his opening address, and in later statements at the Council, Elder J. L. McElhany, president of the General Conference, added further emphasis to the great importance of this question.
And it was indeed gratifying to observe that practically the entire delegation were in accord with these sentiments. There was a very general feeling on the part of the delegates that they themselves, in their own personal experience should be true to the principles of healthful living which have come to us through the Spirit of prophecy, and which have been attested by scientific demonstration.
A committee was appointed by the presidents' council to draw up a resolution relative to the subject of health-reform principles. This cornthittee formulated the accompanying statement, which through the plans committee was presented to the Council and adopted by vote of the delegates.
As will be observed, this resolution is an appeal to our workers throughout the world field to place their influence strongly upon the positive side of this question, both in their teaching and in their own personal practice. This is but an echo of the appeal which has come to our ministers through the years in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy. The messenger of the Lord urged that our ministers become informed regarding the principles of health, not alone for their own personal benefit, but in order that they might intelligently present these principles to others. It will be appropriate in this connection to read these statements:
"Our ministers should become intelligent on health reform. They need to become acquainted with physiology and hygiene; they should understand the laws that govern physical life, and their bearing upon the health of mind and soul."—"Testimonies," Vol. VI, p. 376.
"Our ministers should become intelligent upon this question. They should not ignore it, nor be turned aside by those who call them extremists. Let them find out what constitutes true health reform, and teach its principles, both by precept and by a quiet, consistent example. At our large gatherings, instruction should be given upon health and temperance. Seek to arouse the intellect and the conscience. Bring into service all the talent at command, and follow up the work with publications upon the subject. 'Educate, educate, educate,' is the message that has been impressed upon me."—"Christian Temperance," p. 117.
The importance of the observance of health principles in their relation to fitting the people of God for translation, is clearly set forth in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy. We are told:
"I saw that we as a people must make an advance move in this great work [of health reform]. Ministers and people must act in concert. God's people are not prepared for the loud cry of the third angel. . . . In order to be fitted for translation, the people of God must know themselves. They must understand in regard to their own physical frames, that they may be able with the psalmist to exclaim, 'I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.' "—"Testimonies," Vol. I, p. 486.
The resolution recognizes that healthful living embraces many and various phases. It embraces not alone the question of eating and drinking, but of breathing, work, exercise, rest, proper home conditions, clothing,--the-state of the mind, and everything that influences the physical welfare of man. As the question of diet, however, forms such a vital part, the importance of this feature was particularly stressed. The great danger attending the use of flesh foods was pointed out. It was believed by those present that under all conditions where a balanced vegetarian dietary could be secured, that flesh food should not be used.
The Danger From Flesh Foods
Much has been said in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy regarding a proper dietary. A definite warning has been sounded against the use of flesh foods. The following statements are worthy of special consideration:
"If we could be benefited by indulging the desire for flesh foods, I would not make this appeal to you; but I know we cannot. Flesh foods are injurious to the physical well-being,
and we should learn to do without them. Those who are in a position where it is possible to secure a vegetarian diet, but who choose to follow their own preferences in this matter, eating and drinking as they please, will gradually grow careless of the instruction the Lord has given regarding other phases of the present truth, and will lose their perception of what is truth; they will surely reap as they have sown."—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 156.
"There are many who feel that they cannot get along without flesh foods; but if these would place themselves on the Lord's side, resolutely resolved to walk in the way of His guidance, they would receive strength and wisdom as did Daniel and his fellows."—Id., p. 157.
"The liability to take disease is increased tenfold by meat eating. The intellectual, the moral, and the physical powers are depreciated by the habitual use of flesh meats. Meat eating deranges the system, beclouds the intellect, and blunts the moral sensibilities. . . . Your safest course is to let meat alone."—Id., Vol. II, P. 6.
"Flesh was never the best food; but its use is now doubly objectionable, since disease in animals is so rapidly increasing. Those who use flesh foods little know what they are eating. . . . People are continually eating flesh that is filled with tuberculous and cancerous germs. Tuberculosis, cancer, and other fatal diseases are thus communicated.—"Ministry of Healing," p. 313.
"The effects of a flesh diet may not be immediately realized; but this is no evidence that it is not harmful. Few can be made to believe that it is the meat they have eaten which has poisoned their blood and caused their suffering. Many die of diseases wholly due to meat eating, while the real cause is not suspected by themselves or by others."—"Ministry of Healing," p. 315.
Special instruction has been given also as to the danger of an impoverished or unbalanced dietary. The messenger of the Lord recognizes that there might exist unusual conditions, particularly in some countries where it might be necessary to use flesh at times as an emergency food.
Some, of course, will be inclined to make of this exception a more liberal application in their own personal experience than the circumstances warrant. But, after all, this must be left with each person to work out for himself in the fear of the Lord. Though our workers should practice in their own lives the principles of healthful living, and though they should faithfully present these principles to our churches, urging upon them the great importance of this question, they should recognize that it must be left for everyone to apply the principles in his own individual experience as the Lord may give him wisdom.
Everyone should remember the question raised by the apostle Paul: "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth." "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."
And in connection with this question, he should consider well, as applied to his own personal experience, the further word by the apostle Paul, when he said: "If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth."
The discussion of the question of healthful living at the recent Autumn Council was a very profitable one, and we believe that immeasurable good will come from it, not alone to our workers, but to our people everywhere in every land.