The Preservation of Health.
“I wish, above all things,
that thou mayest prosper, and be in
health.”—3 John, 2.
MY DEAR SISTER,
If we feel suitably grateful to him who hath died for us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, we shall desire to make ourselves useful in his vineyard to the highest degree of which our natures are capable. But, to be so, we must preserve our bodies in a healthy and vigorous state. No farmer would think of employing a weak and sickly man in his field, upon full wages. The nature of the service which God requires of us is such as to call for vigor of body as well as strength of mind. Most of our efforts to benefit our fellow-creatures are attended with labor of body and sacrifices of personal ease. And these efforts are greatly impeded by a feeble state of health. Again, bodily feelings have a great influence upon the mind. When the animal powers are prostrated, the mind almost uniformly suffers with them. Hence, a feeble state of the body may be a very great hindrance to us, in maintaining the Christian warfare. I know that some individuals have lived very devoted lives, and been eminently useful, with frail and sickly bodies. But this does not prove that, with the same degree of faithfulness, and a sound body, they might not have made much higher attainments. If you have read the lives of Brainerd, Martyn, and Payson, I think you will be convinced of this. Yet, I do not say that the affliction of ill health might not have been the means which God used to make them faithful. But if they had been equally faithful, with strong and vigorous bodies, I have no doubt they would have done much more good in the world, and arrived at a much higher degree of personal sanctification. During much of their lives, they were borne down and depressed by feeble health, and they all died in the prime of life. Now, suppose them to have been as devoted as they were, with strong and vigorous constitutions, until they had arrived at the period of old age; might they not have brought forth much more fruit? If so, then God would have been so much more glorified in them; for our Lord says, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.”
If the foregoing remarks are correct, it then becomes the duty of every Christian to use all proper means to maintain a sound, healthful, and vigorous bodily constitution. And this is much more within the power of every individual than many imagine. It is true, that life, and health, and every blessing, come from God. But he does not give these things without the intervention of second causes. He has made our animal nature subject to certain fixed laws; and even when his own children violate these laws, he will work no miracle to preserve their health or save their lives. I am satisfied that the