By Dr. J.M. Tyler
When the good Lord sets out to develop a child, the first organ with which He starts is the stomach. The stomach is the foundation of all greatness. It is a matter of daily observation if not of experience that a man can get along very well with very few brains, but a man can’t get along at all without a good digestive system. The digestive system furnishes all the material for growth and the fuel which is continually burned or consumed in our nerves and muscles. Now, any furnace requires besides fuel, a good draught. When we burn the fuel, by uniting it with the oxygen thus brought in, we get the energy which draws our locomotives and our great ships. Similarly in our bodies, our lungs bring in the oxygen and the heart and blood-vessels carry the fuel and the oxygen to every part of the body. But every furnace requires a smoke-stack to carry off the waste, and, similarly, we must have in our bodies an excretory system to remove the waste of the burned-up material and of the used-up tissue of the heart, muscles and nerves. This constitutes the digestive system; the lungs, the excretory system and the circulatory system are absolutely necessary to support the combustion which is going on in nerve and muscle and without which energy is impossible.
All productive labor manifests itself through the muscles. Our muscles directly write the book, speak the word, build the railroads, do the deeds. Our muscles are of very different ages. In the child the trunk muscles are developed first; the shoulder muscles next; the arm muscles next; the finger muscles last of all. The heavy muscles of trunk, shoulder and thigh require but a small amount of nervous impulse or control, and they react strongly on all the vital organs, as is shown every time that we take a walk. The finest and youngest muscles of the fingers require a very large amount of nervous control for a very small output of muscular energy and their exercise stimulates the very highest centers in the brain, and this is the great argument for physical training, that through one muscle or another you can stimulate and develop as you choose either any vital organ or the highest center in the brain.
Never forget the maxim of the old German physiologist that “Health comes in through the muscles and flows out through the nerves.” The nervous system was created for good and wise ends, but in many people it has become a nuisance. Its use is to insure that every stimulus from the external world shall call forth a response suited to the emergency. A fly lights upon my face; I wave my hand and drive him away. The fly has tickled my face; there is the external stimulus. A sensory impulse travels to the brain or to some other center and a motor impulse goes from there to a certain muscle in my arm which moves my hand and drives away the fly. The impulse has called out a response suited to that emergency. You watch a cat walk across the lawn; you will think that fool cat is going to fall down, it is going so slowly and it can hardly raise one foot above the other, but watch it when it sees its prey; every muscle seems to turn to steel; it is ready for the spring. When that spring is made there is no energy wasted. After that the cat does not move for two hours; no wasting energy there. Wasting of energy is a sin.