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So thought on thought is piled, till some great truth
Shaken to their roots, as do the mountains now. Thus it is that our advance in knowledge comes by means of crises—by sudden changes gradually prepared for—truer apprehensions to which the very piling up of false thoughts conducts. Wherever ignorance lies at the root, knowledge comes life-wise—by nutrition and function.
And when we advance to the moral life, we see the same laws ruling there also. As we glance back over history, what is more striking than the false laws with which man has bound himself—the false thoughts of right to which he has made himself a slave ? When we look at His life to whom our highest life is due, what do we see but the casting aside of needless, hurtful laws, and the grand teaching of a new simplicity of right, one and the same in every changing form? And that He who so taught us gave the true key to life, Nature herself bears witness. As ignorance imposes falsity, and makes the very powers of truth work error, so by a parallel necessity does lack of true goodness in the soul compel man to lay upon himself false laws, and make the very powers of good
The highest life of some other nations has been given them through the instrumentality of various men; but it is clearly to be seen, in respect to many of these, that they were also deliverers from false laws.
work an intenser evil. Nor arbitrarily is this done, nor wastefully; but-through the same beneficence of life that rules in his body and his mind—to work the same end also for the soul, and by the toil of the nutrition to bring the gladness of the function. False laws, that make a tension in the life and set the soul at variance with itself, as they fall, bring into the heart of man a truer and better goodness; and even the darkness of superstition is preparation for the light.
Thus we see in a fresh light why it is that the student of medicine must be the student of all knowledge; he studies life, and life is all.
But never yet was task imposed on man that did not bring its recompense; never yet did difficulty confront him, but Nature stood at hand with a secret, waiting for him to learn it—the secret of converting difficulty itself into ease. If to know life aright all things must be known, then by life also shall all things be known. Like an heir just come of age, the physician of the present day is distracted with the wealth of his inheritance. It is for you to enter on its full and unembarrassed use. To the whole world-of nature and of man--the human body is the key, unlocking all its treasures. The physician stands at the centre, and sees all roads diverge—all roads clear and straight to him, because he holds in his hands a map of every land. His eye is fixed upon the pattern to which all things conform ; into the very substance of his thought have grown, by long and loving search, the laws which speed the progress of the human soul, and breathe into the dust of earth the breath of life.
So much is life the key to all things, and the human frame the key to life, that we may fairly say there is no department of human knowledge in which the quickening influence of the physician must not and will not be felt. The laws of physics and of chemistry are but too partially perceived till we see them, as it were completed and in their perfect cycle, in the organic body. And, turning to the other direction, how vaguely are the mind and soul of man apprehended until, by aid of the revelations of organic life, a clue to their history and the significance of their processes is grasped! Seeing them thus, we enter upon them with a new understanding. We perceive that the results man first gains with so much effort are valuable, not for themselves, but for the truer good they are destined to bring, and which comes to us in their seeming loss; that we first possess our own labours truly when we have them in their fruits; our truths in fuller truths, our rights in deeper rights.
Nor is the advantage one of thought alone, but eminently one of practice. Interpreted thus by life,
the mental and moral experience of man would itself become more truly living, and the supple vigour of an organic process replace more fully the mechanical rigidity with which we still seek vainly to supply its want. As of the living frame, so the true excellence and the true stability of the mental and moral life of man are in its perpetual change, its fluency to Nature, its unity with her.
And thus, perchance, there dawns on us a truer vision of the place which the student of medicine should rightly occupy in human life-shall in the future occupy. Holding in his hands the chief key to life, it will be from him, if he worthily fulfils his part, that all men must derive their best suggestions. Of all sciences, of all arts, his art and science must be the rallying point and centre; by its facts all theories be judged, by his successes or failures all other efforts guided.
Only when the thought of a Life in them makes them luminous, shall any work of man's hand or labour of his brain be rightly transparent to his eye. Only when the task of rightly dealing with the human body, duly achieved, has marked out the path, shall man with a true success apply his energy to any other toil. Let me take one instance (and I take it by preference from our failures) ;—the now acknowledged excess to which bloodletting was carried in former days. As lovers of the art of healing, we must look back with regret to a practice by which life was hurt instead of aided. Yet, if we could learn aright its lesson, we might find that the error had been a boon to man. For why was it that physicians, fully the 'equals in zeal and intelligence of any that have succeeded them, persisted so long in a practice which thwarted their own end? This chiefly: that depletion did attain the ends for which it was employeddid quiet the pulse, relieve pain, and transfer the patient from a condition of intense distress and obvious danger to one of manifest relief. The success deceived: the immediate end was gained, and it seemed as if, could the means be carried out with sufficient zeal, it would secure everything. There was the visible demonstrable good : how should it not have been pursued? What our fathers too little regarded was the fact that the human body is a living thing, with infinite reactions.
Medicine has repented of its error; has carried, as some think, its repentance also to excess. At any rate it has learnt to look with more reverence upon the mysterious living thing with which it has to deal, and to understand that the direct results it can secure by its interference embrace but a small part of the pro