Vegetarian Diet And Longevity
( Originally Published 1921 )
The diet originally planned for man, and that enabled him to attain to the age of nearly a thousand years, is outlined by the pen of inspiration in the first chapter of Genesis, twenty-ninth verse : "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, . . . and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food." (A. R. V.) Thus the One who created man, and who understands his every need, appointed Adam his food, consisting of grains and nuts. After the fall, when the ground was cursed for man's sake, the herb of the field was added to his diet. (Genesis 3: 17, 18.) After the Flood, when all vegetation had been destroyed by water, God permitted man to eat flesh. (Genesis 9: 3, 4.)
It is interesting at this point to note the comparison of the length of life of men who lived before the Flood, and who subsisted upon fruits and grains, with that of the generations living immediately after the Flood, who subsisted upon the flesh of animals, at least as part of their daily food. The following figures show that the average length of life for nine generations before the Flood, as recorded in Genesis 5: 3-32; and 9:29, was 912 years. The average for ten generations after the Flood, when flesh meats were used as food, was but 317 years. (Genesis I I : 10-32 ; 25:7, 8.)
"And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity." Genesis 11: 28. One would infer, from this scripture, that until about the tenth generation after the Flood, it was so unusual a thing for a child to die before its father, that mention is made of the fact in Holy Writ.
Following on, we briefly trace the history of the chosen people in their march down into Egypt, where they came under heavy bondage to the Egyptians until the time of their deliverance. When the prophetic period had expired, and the time for their release had come, God brought them out with a strong hand, to make them the depositaries of the Holy Oracles, and His peculiar treasure above all people. It was designed that through them, all the world should come to a knowledge of the true God. Their health was jealously guarded, and a fleshless diet was given them. (Exodus 16:35; Joshua 5:12.) But they despised "the corn of heaven," and cried for flesh; so He permitted them to eat "clean" flesh. (Numbers 11 : 4-6; Deuteronomy 14: 3-20.)
It is recorded in "A Prayer of Moses the Man of God," that the years of man were "threescore and ten"— an evidence that the race was not benefited in the least by a diet of flesh. (Psalm 90:10.)
Later, in apostolic days, when the gospel was preached to the gentiles, the message of physical holiness was again proclaimed as a part of the gospel of salvation, in the words: "Ye are the temple of God. . . . If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." 1 Corinthians 3: i6, 17. Then follows the statement of a great principle, defining the motive which should actuate the recipients of grace in the exercise of Christian temperance in all things, and which will prove a safe guide to follow in the selection of the kind and quantity of food best suited to the keeping of the body in a state of health : "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." I Corinthians 10:31.
This principle, if heeded, will control in all matters pertaining to the diet, as in every act of life, preserving us from intemperance in all its varied forms. "Every practice which destroys the physical, mental, and spiritual energies is sin. The laws of nature, as truly as the precepts of the Decalogue, are divine; and only in obedience to them can health be recovered and preserved."
The desire of God for every human being is expressed in the words, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." 3 John 2. Here, as ever, inspiration places the health of the body on an equality with the health of the soul, as indeed they are dependent one upon the other.
To the chosen people, the laws relating to both spiritual and physical well-being were made plain; and on condition of obedience, they were assured, "The Lord will take away from thee all sickness." Deuteronomy 7: 15. "Ye shall serve the Lord your God, and He shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee." Exodus 23: 25. These promises are likewise for us today; and it is the privilege of every child of God, through obedience, to know the meaning of His promise, "I am the Lord that healeth thee." Exodus 15: 26.