Politeness is a good thing, but it may be carried to excess, or rather perverted. It is simply Christian kindness for a man to give way to a fellow man, and in honour to prefer another; but when it comes to stepping aside and giving a hog the first place, the matter has quite a different aspect. God made man to be the head of creation, giving him dominion over every other living thing, and no one can without sin despise his birthright. Whenever a man takes a place second to any four-footed beast or creeping thing, he shows not simply lack of proper respect for himself, but indifference to God, in whose image he was made.  

     That which led to these thoughts was the sight of the advertisements of "pea-fed bacon," conspicuously posted in every tram, telling how delicious and free from disease such meat is. There can be no question but that a hog fed wholly on peas would be healthier than one fattened on garbage; but a hog fed even on manna would be a hog still, and not fit to rank with a man, to say nothing of taking first place.    

     "But what do you mean by intimating that the hog is given first place?" someone asks. Just this: The advertisers of "pea-fed bacon" recognise, and expect that all others will likewise recognise that an animal's health depends on what it eats; that the best kind of food will make the healthiest flesh. They also know that all will agree that peas are healthful and nourishing, and withal a clean food. What they doubtless do not think of is the fact that it was just for this reason that God in the beginning gave man the finest and most highly developed form of the products of the earth as food, and to the beasts the coarser products. To man were given fruits, and the seeds of all trees and plants, which of course includes grains, while the green herb itself, coarse vegetables, were given to the beasts, who were not expected to have a spiritual nature, and whose mental, and even physical, development was to be far inferior to that of man. See Genesis 1:29, 30. Flesh foods were not included in the original dietary of either man or beast. 

     Now everything is perverted. Fruits and grains occupy a secondary place in the diet which man provided for himself, and flesh is reckoned as the staple article. Thus man virtually says to the beast: "After you, Sir; you go first, and take the best and choicest bits that God's bountiful hand provides; fatten yourself on the nuts and the grains, and I will come and take them after you have finished with them." As for ourselves, we do not think it at all presumptuous to count ourselves worthy to take precedence of any beast, and entitled to the best that God has provided, at first hand, too. 

     It must be remembered that the food which God assigned to man is perfectly adapted to his requirement, and ready for digestion, and that the food material undergoes no change in the body of an animal, which makes it more easy of digestion by the human being. When man eats his peas after the hog, he simply takes them minus the amount of nourishment that has gone to supply the hog's waste, and plus the degeneration that they have undergone in the hog's system. Such "politeness" indicates a sad blunting of spiritual sensibility. Why should the hog or any other beast have the freshness of God's gifts, and man take that which is left?  

     But this is not by any means the worst. A few weeks ago one of the daily papers contained the following item:-  

     "Fifty tons of condemned tinned milk were sent from Limehouse Docks yesterday to a farm in Essex. It will be used as food for pigs." 

     The item was appropriately headed, "And the pigs feed us!" People seem go think that no amount of filth or poison can harm them, provided they do not see it. They would not think of eating the spoiled condensed milk, but they will feed it to the pigs and then eat it without a wry face, and will call it wholesome. Now if they know that wholesome peas tend to improve the quality of pork, why can they not see that unwholesome milk must make it correspondingly worse?

     But a short time ago Public Opinion had a paragraph entitled, "Making pork out of Snakes," telling how in some parts of Europe pigs have killed out the vipers; and that in West Virginia portions of country almost uninhabitable by reason of the great number of rattle snakes, have now become profitable, because farmers are fattening hogs on them, so that "hundreds of pigs are sold from the valley every year, that have literally became fat on snakes." People who shudder at the thought of savages eating snakes will eat them together with even more loathsome things without a grimace if only their form is altered. Is it not a fearful thing to think of man taking a place second to that of the lowest creatures?

     This is a serious matter, and not one of mere sentiment. It is a fact, which even pork dealers recognise, that an animal's food has much, indeed, nearly everything to do with its condition. Even so with man. It is true that "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," and that no one can by any method of eating and drinking bring the Holy Spirit into his heart; but it is equally true that one may by his evil habits of life crowd the kingdom out. It is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." 1Cor. 3:16, 17. Think of asking the Spirit of God to take up His abode in a lodging built of and devoted to hogs, snakes, etc. Is it not horrible? Surely it must be plain that the excessive politeness to beasts of which we have spoken is nothing else than an insult to the Lord.

January 10, 1901 EJW, PTUK 22.7