This section is from the book "Health Without Medicine. A Treatise On The Laws Of The Human System", by Larkin B. Coles. Also available from Amazon: Philosophy Of Health.
Obedience to the laws of health should he made a matter of individual and personal duty. It is every individual's duty to study the laws of his being and to conform to them. Ignorance or inattention on this subject is sin; and the injurious consequences of such a course make it a case of gradual suicide. The idea that we may do what we please with ourselves, is not only bad policy, and bad economy, but to do so is positively wrong: it is sin against the Author of our being. And when persons knowingly or wantonly expose themselves to disease and death by violating the laws of life and health, instead of calling the result a visitation of Providence, it should be called a suicidal act.
The laboring man who eats quick and works immediately after, is not only pursuing a course of bad economy, but is doing wrong to himself and to his Creator. He is diminishing his power and durability for doing good. When a man of intellectual habits neglects to live in accordance to the laws of mind and body, he pursues not only a bad policy, but secures for himself the punishment due to his criminal conduct. The man who lives unnaturally instead of naturally, who allows his system to come under the influence of stimulating drinks, or unnatural excitants, or narcotic and poisonous drugs, does a material and important wrong to himself, and must expect to give account for his course on the day of final judgment.
The strange abandonment of principle which characterizes this generation in their treatment of themselves, is almost enough to dishearten the most sanguine hopes of reform. Instead of seeking after a true knowledge of themselves -- the laws which sustain and govern their own animal existence -- and what course of living they ought to adopt to secure for themselves a sound state of health and long life, they foolishly and wickedly inquire, "What shall I eat, and wherewithal shall I enjoy the present hour?."
If we tell the devotee to the alcoholic draft, or the more poisonous and filthy narcotic, tobacco, that his daily potations, or the essences of the deadly weed, are secretly gnawing the tender cords that bind his soul and body together, he heeds us not. He will probably acknowledge the facts in the case, and, at the same time, with most perfect indifference to consequences, and insensibility to personal obligations, will answer, that he chooses rather to enjoy life while he does live, than to prolong life by curtailing present gratification.
But what is duty -- what is right -- in the case? Have we a right to prefer present gratification to permanent good.? Have we any right to open a vein and let the blood gradually run away because we are delighted with the crimson stream? We have just as much right to do this, as we have to use rum, tobacco, tea, coffee, or any other hurtful agent, for mere gratification, against the highest earthly interests of our own bodily constitutions.