There's a significant sentence in the Book, "the blood is the life." There is much said all through the Scriptures about blood. And there is the deep spiritual significance in much of it referring to the sacrifice of Christ.
But quite apart from that teaching just now, there is here a great truth for our bodily health. The blood is indeed the life of our bodies.
The stomach makes it, the heart pumps it, the lungs purify it, proper exercise keeps it in proper circulation. The whole bodily rhythm is concerned with the blood, its quality and quantity and its being kept moving just as planned.
Good blood, in right quantity, kept moving naturally through the body, means full vigorous life. Poor blood, not enough blood, means a poor defective quality of life. Bad blood means diseased life. Congested blood, too much in one part and too little somewhere else, means disorder, disease.
Enough blood, not too much, of the right quality, not too rich, in normal circulation, gives vigorous abundant physical life. Any slip at any point means either defective or diseased life. And the sort of food decides the sort of blood.
There are two purposes in bathing. The common use, of course, is for cleansing. The other purpose is to help circulation of the blood, and so through that affect the health in a radical way.
An old German priest years ago became famous for his so-called water cure. And water cures sprang up everywhere. The dear old man thought it was simply some virtue in the water. And of course that part is true.
But the thing goes much deeper than that. It is the application of varying temperatures to the body through the medium of water. This affects the disturbed congestion of blood.
Cold water drives the congested blood away. Hot water draws it to where it is needed. The skilful application of various temperatures radically changes the circulation of the blood. And it is astonishing how long a list of bodily ills can be quite removed in this way.
There's a lot of natural healing and of health in our bath tubs if one knew how to use them in this way.
On the same principle walking in the bare feet on the grass in the dew of the morning acts as a stimulant.
Nature hurries warm blood to the feet to relieve the sense of cold. The excess of blood in the head or somewhere else is relieved.
There is no filler tonic for tired brain or over-wrought nerves than walking in bare feet on the cool dewy grass. Care should be taken not to let the feet be cold afterward.
All this sort of talk may seem rather trivial and homely to some good saintly folk. But, but, if the tired-out preacher Sunday night finds that dipping his feet in sharply cold water, repeatedly, for a few minutes, and then drying thoroughly, and maybe a bit of friction on the soles.
If, I say, he finds this steadies his nerves and refreshes his brain, plainly he can be of more service to his congregation. Their sleep can be postponed until after the church service is over.
For the shortest road to a nervously tired, aching head is usually through the feet. The two ends may meet helpfully in that case. Proper care of the feet is often the surest way to help the head. And this includes easy natural sort of shoes.
If that same preacher finds that the habitual daily scrubbing of the soles of his feet with a stiff nail-brush full of lather clears the cobwebs out of his weary head.
And so, makes the sermon better, the sentences clearer and sharper, the words simpler, the illustrations bite in better, and the people helped for the morrow's task, he is surely likely to wear that nail-brush out at a lively rate, and then get another.
He's glad to do it for Jesus' sake, and for the sake of the crowd, too, that needs help for the daily round.
If a Christian man finds that plunging his head repeatedly into a deep bowl of cold water, doing it cautiously till he gets somewhat used to it, and being sure the hair is bone-dry afterward, if he finds that that sends the excess of blood in his head elsewhere, where it is needed, and there's a sense of refreshment, isn't he likely to do it? Just because he's a Christian?
He's an easier man to live with now. He makes a better father and husband, and worker and neighbour. He becomes a better Christian in his daily contacts. Surely anything that will help like that, he'll do, for Christ's sake.
These are the six things suggested by those two old models of personal life, food, air, exercise, sleep, cleansing, and posture. They come under the head of obedience, the second of the two main things we are talking of just now.