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that their spiritual functions imposed upon them no obligation to afford bodily succour to the "wounded, halfdead man,”—so, my friend, may we be in danger of resting satisfied in withholding our spiritual aid from our dying patients, on the hollow and untenable ground that our responsibility extends only to the body and to time. Oh! let us be rather like the good Samaritan, and, without hesitation or delay, endeavour to pour into the wounded spirit the wine and oil of heavenly consolation,—thus adopting our blessed Lord's special application of the parable" Go, and do thou likewise!" Surely we may confidently hope that in rendering this obedience, we shall experience super-human aid; and though our path may be dark and rugged, and the obstacles many and powerful, yet may we cheerfully and implicitly rely on that Almighty God, who is "a Sun and a Shield" to those who put their trust in Him.
May I not add, as a collateral encouragement, that while thus aiming to promote the honour of the Divine Emanuel, we may humbly hope that he will be" with us,” in granting efficiency to our strictly professional exertions ? When it is considered that the skilful or unskilful decision of a moment may save or lose a valuable life, and that even a well-selected remedy may prove salutary or detrimental as the Divine benediction is vouchsafed or withheld, how inconceivably important must we regard the guidance and the smile of Him, "in whom we live and move, and have our being," and in whom are all our springs of intelligence and of usefulness! By "seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness" in the way we have
described, we may be rendered the happy instruments of giving occasion to our grateful patients, to unite with the sweet singer of Israel, in ascribing, from their inmost souls, blessing and praise to Jehovah, for having not only "forgiven all their iniquities," but also "healed all their diseases."
One especial ground of encouragement yet remainsthat which rests upon the actual success with which the God of all grace has been pleased to crown similar efforts. He, who hath all power in heaven and on earth, has given efficiency to such exertions; and while, with "a single eye to His glory," they are "begun, continued, and ended in Him," we cannot doubt that the ardent desire and persevering endeavour to rescue immortal souls from endless perdition will be accompanied by those gracious influences which can at once direct, and animate, and bless. Thus, 66 our labours shall not be in vain in the Lord."
It has already been remarked that, in aiming to subserve the spiritual as well as temporal interests of our patients, we shall usually retain if not increase, their confidence and regard. Sometimes, however, it may prove otherwise; especially in reference to the relatives and friends of the sick. This was strikingly evinced in the experience of an aged and eminent, but now deceased physician, then practising in Westminster, as communicated by him to the writer of this letter. The veteran practitioner was called to the bedside of a young lady, whom he found passing to her long home, yet destitute of hope, unacquainted with the way to Christ, and peace, and heaven, and surrounded by relatives equally ignorant with herself. He placed in the hands of her attentive and (as it after
wards appeared) pious nurse, a volume of the “ Sermons," requesting that a portion might be occasionally read to the youthful patient. On getting out of his carriage at the next visit, he was met by the mother, and thus abruptly accosted-" I will not trouble you, doctor, to go up stairs;" assigning no motive for so unceremonious a dismission, except such as might be read in a countenance of high displeasure. My sagacious friend at once penetrated her mind, and retired. After some time had elapsed, the nurse informed him that the young lady lived but a few days after his visit, yet long enough to afford a delightful evidence of having obtained pardon and peace through a crucified Redeemer. The very volume, it appeared, that excluded the physician from the family, was rendered instrumental in introducing the dying patient into spiritual life. And never can I forget the pious elevation and the grateful emphasis, with which my venerable friend closed his affecting narrative; "cheerfully," said he, "would I lose the best family in my professional connection, if by my feeble instrumentality I could be the means of saving another soul from death."
Thus, my dear friend, I have endeavoured to set before you the principal encouragements for the endeavour. have still to accomplish the most difficult part of my taskthat of submitting to you a few suggestions on the mode of communicating serious counsel to the sick. This I must attempt in a future letter.
Believe me, with esteem,
Your very faithful friend,
Tilford, Jan. 28th, 1836.
T. H. B.
ON THE MOST ELIGIBLE METHODS TO BE PURSUED.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
In accordance with your request I now proceed to offer a few suggestions derived from personal observation, on the methods which appear to me best calculated to secure the important object of our present correspondence. You will remember that, even at a distance, I doubted my ability for properly executing this part of the undertaking; and I candidly own that my consciousness of inadequacy has not diminished on a nearer view of the attending difficulties. Should, however, the plain remarks you are about to receive possess little value in themselves, they may, I am willing to hope, prove indirectly useful, by engaging your own attention more closely and continuously to the subject.
You are too well aware, how deeply the feeling of medical responsibility has pressed upon myself, to suppose for a single moment, that I would inconsiderately superadd to a similar burthen upon you any unnecessary weight of obligation as connected with the spiritual condition of your patients. I cannot, indeed, relinquish the opinion I have deliberately formed, and which has been before avowed, namely, that the peculiar facilities afforded to the medical practitioner entail upon him a proportionate responsibility; yet am I very solicitous not to endanger the peace of a conscientious mind by incautious or exaggerated statements, or by urging the adoption of any doubtful or impracticable
measures. On a subject of such manifest delicacy, as well as difficulty, it is highly important that our views should be well defined, and our opinions of the duties and obligations involved, most carefully guarded and qualified, otherwise, we may not only inflict a needless wound on a pious mind, but may actually defeat the very object we desire to promote, by the disheartening influence of plans of operation unfeasible in themselves, or inconsistent with our proper, indispensable, and untransferable duties. Allow me,
therefore, to request your attention to two preliminary observations.
First, I would remark that the desire of promoting the patient's religious welfare should never be allowed to interfere with the thorough performance of medical duties. These cannot be superseded by any other claims. this decided impression I would suggest, as a general rule, the propriety of giving your sole, undivided attention to the relief of the patient's malady, as well as to every circumstance and arrangement which his bodily condition may demand, before you permit yourself to advert to his spiritual exigencies. You will kindly observe, that I recommend this as a general rule, which may possibly admit of some exceptions. For example, I can conceive that some highly-gifted individuals may have the power of interspersing, in an unobjectionable manner, a few religious hints among their medical inquiries and directions, and without materially distracting their attention, or endangering the temporal well-being of their charge. Yet, even with such facilities, there would sometimes, I apprehend, be a risk of dispersing those energies of mind which the physician ought assuredly, in the first place, to concentrate