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be a true Christian, and among the unto death. As soon as she perhappy number of those who love ceived the tendency of my observaChrist in sincerity!” She had, now tions, she looked earnestly at me, and then, complained of not feeling and asked, “ Do you think, then, quite well ; but little or no attention that I am really in any danger of was paid to this, either by herself death ? and do you, indeed, think it or others. I left her house to spend probable that I may not recover?” some time with one of my old friends, I replied, “ I would not deceive you at a distance of fifteen miles from for the world. Feeling, affection, her. I had been there, I think, not duty, and conscience, bid me tell more than ten days, when one morn- you the truth of your state, the fears ing I received a letter, which inform- of your friends, and the judgment of ed me that my relative now lay on your medical attendant. May the the bed of sickness, most danger. God of all grace prepare your mind ously ill, and that there was little to receive the painful intelligence of or no hope of her recovery. The your imminent danger, and by his medical attendant, it was added, had Holy Spirit make your soul ready advised her husband by no means to for his presence in glory!” For a send for me, or to let me know of few moments she was silent and his wife's severe illness ;“ as,” he ob- thoughtful. Then, looking at her served, “ it can be of no use to her; husband and her sister, she said, and his talking and praying would “ Could none of be kind enough only disquiet her mind, and probably to tell me this great truth? Why hasten her departure.” Immedi- did you fill me with vain hopes of ately on the receipt of this letter I recovery, if you knew that it was returned, and found my dear relative the opinion of Mr. P. that I should rapidly sinking into the arms of death, not recover ?” Then, turning to me, though quite unconscious that her she said, “ I consider you indeed end was so near. Before I went into my kind friend, in dealing thus faithher room, I inquired of her husband, if fully with me; as I might, but for it were correct, as stated to me, that you, have been allowed to die withthe medical attendant had advised out any knowledge that I was dying. him not to send for me, or to let me Oh teach me how to die; and pray know of his wife's illness, from the for me, that all my sins may be forapprehension of my only causing her given, and my soul prepared to meet uneasiness of mind, and doing her God.”
God.” I will not minutely detail more injury than benefit. He said, the deeply affecting and interesting “ It was quite true ; and he did not particulars of the many happy hours like to send for me, after such an ex- we passed in religious reading, conpress opinion of one on whose skill versation, and prayer. She survived and judgment they so confidently only a few days after my return. I relied. But,” he added, “I am did not leave the house till her de. happy that you are now come, as cease ; but spent most of my time my dear wife has very often ex- by the side of her sick bed. She pressed a wish to see you.” On my was most humble, and meekly subentering the sick room, I was much missive. She had a blessed hope. struck at the very great alteration She clung to the cross of her Sawhich disease had occasioned in her viour, and there lay, as a weeping, features; and she had all the ap- humbled penitent, looking unto Jesus pearance of a person hastening to only for pardon, peace, and glory. the grave. After inquiring how she A third instance of the good effect was, and expressing my sorrow at of visiting the sick and dying, in reseeing her so ill, I endeavoured, with moving ignorance and prejudice from all practicable delicacy, to draw her the mind, occurred while I officiated mind to think and to feel the pos- in a parish in the county of Bsibility that this sickness might be Anopulent farmer, who had been decidedly hostile to my ministry, was taken if ever I felt love for the soul of a dying suddenly and seriously ill. The very sinner, it was then. I had mentally day on which I heard of his illness prayed for Divine direction as I I called at his house. Soon after ascended the stairs, and that the my entering, his eldest son came to God of all grace and consolation would me. I might be wrong in construing enable me to speak a word in season a forbidding austerity and gloom on to the dying man, and accompany it his countenance into a cold recep- with power and blessing to his soul. tion. I said, that, “having heard of I sat down by his bed, and, taking the sudden and serious illness of his him by the hand, expressed my sinfather, I called to inquire how he cere sorrow at seeing him, lately so did, and also to see him, and to pray vigorous and robust, now lying on with him, if he had no objection. the couch of affliction. He looked He replied, that “ his father was stedfastly at me while I spoke to him, very dangerously ill indeed, and the with evidently more pleasure than doctor did not think that he would aversion. I still held his hand in be alive' many days; but he had mine, and said all I could, not so particularly desired that nobody much to alarm him at once, as to should visit him, or talk to him.” “If draw his mind “ with the cords of his end is so very near,” said I,“ it love" to serious thoughtfulness, which will be most unkind to deprive him might lead his soul to earnest inof that support and consolation quiry, self-examination, penitence, which my conversation and prayers prayer, and preparation, through the might, under the blessing of God, grace of his Saviour, for his deimpart.” He said, that “ he thought parture. I spoke with the tenderest very differently from me, and was of feelings of Christian sympathy, and opinion, and in this the doctor agreed with all due delicacy; but I endeawith him, that I was the worst per- voured to rise gradually in my stateson who could visit him, as my dis- ments of Divine truth,—of God's free course would only make his mind mercy, the love of Christ, the need uneasy and uncomfortable.” I was of true repentance, the promise of sorry that he should conclude so un- the Holy Spirit, the value of the soul, favourably of my object, and was so the great importance of a living faith utterly mistaken as to the nature and in the only Saviour to prepare us for probable effects of religious conver- the kingdom of glory. The time sation and prayer. I assured him passed rapidly to me, and did not that his opinion was completely er- seem long or tedious to the father roneous; and that my only view in or the son. A profusion of tears desiring to see his father was to do bedewed the old man's cheeks; and, him all the good in my power, and on my proposing prayer, he pressed to impart such counsel and comfort my hand, and replied, “ Yes, I hope as his state might require. I en- you will ; it will do me good.” I treated him, therefore, by the love, offered up such a prayer as his state affection, and duty that he bore to seemed to me to require ; and inhis parent, to go to him, and say cluded in it some suitable ideas, which that I was now in the house, and I had not ventured at the commencewished to see him, if he had no very ment of my visit to mention in conparticular objeetion. He then left versation. On rising from prayer, me for ten minutes, or more. On the father said, “What a beautiful his return, he said, “ You may go prayer! God bless you;” and “Thank up and see my father ; but you must you ;” to which the son assented, as stay but a few minutes in the room.” Í saw him wipe away some falling I went up, and saw lying on his tears; and both said, and in all ap
dying bed one who had often and pearance with altered feelings and in • severely reprobated my ministry; and sincerity, "You will come again ?” I did repeat my visits several times, spiritual consolation to one lying on during the short period that he sur- a dying bed.—Cases that are widely vived, and was always received by different will require different treatthe family with evident pleasure and ment. A very great difference must cordiality. I cannot speak of any be made, between those who have particular change in the mind of this constantly heard the Gospel of Christ dying man ; but he appeared to listen preached in all its fulness of grace with attention to the word of God; and blessing, and those who have confessed that his past life had been lived in almost entire ignorance of sinful; seemed at times to feel concern its doctrines and the Scripture plan for his soul; joined in prayer with me of salvation. The want of skill to experience the mercy of a gracious and experience in these points has God and Saviour, and to die prepared often led to complete failure in our for heaven. A stupor overpowered expectations from ministerial fidelity, his faculties for the last few days of and, humanly speaking, is the only life, and he departed at a moment cause of ill success in our visits to quite unexpected. It is with heart- the beds of the sick and the dying. felt pleasure that I am able to state, It would be, I conceive, highly useful that one decidedly good effect, re- to your clerical readers, and espesulting from my visit to the dying cially to our younger brethren in the bed of the father, was the removal ministry, if some of your able and of a long and deeply rooted prejudice judicious correspondents would kindly against my ministry from the mind state their own views on this subject, of his son, who succeeded his parent founded on facts, and strengthened by in the occupation of a large farm, experience of the best mode of treatand ever afterwards treated me with ment in all such cases ; and what is marked respect and kindness. the most likely, or what they have
These facts speak volumes ; and found, to be most successful in their they speak for themselves. I will visits to the sick room and the dying only add a few observations. In bed.
QUINQUAGENARIUS. regard to the first case, I believe that nothing but a scriptural and consolatory exhibition of Divine truth—the To the Editor of the Christian Observer. mercy of God to all truly humbled
readers will penitents, and the love of Christ to pardon me for accepting your inall who anxiously desire, from heart- vitation to consider, in reference to felt conviction of sin, to partake of Sir Henry Halford's Lecture, " what the grace and blessing of his great ought to be the conduct of a medical salvation—would, humanly speaking, man, in acquainting his patient with have saved her life, or have so power- the degree of danger attaching to his fully tranquillized her mind as to maladies;”—a question concerning give any probability of success to which there exists a great diversity of skill or medicine. In the second opinion. This inquiry is not withinstance, it is most decidedly clear out its difficulties; but these will best that the patient conceived it to be an be solved, not by an appeal either to act of cruelty to keep her in igno- the religious feelings of the physician, rance of her approaching end ; and if such he has, or to his lamented of kindness to inform her of it, that indifference to this great anchor of she might become, through Divine his soul, but to the principles of his grace, prepared for death and glory. art. I apprehend that his first duty In the third case, it is evident how is, to employ all lawful means within erroneous were the apprehensions of his power for the preservation of life ; the medical attendant and the dying that he cannot be allowed to have man's own son, as to what would be recourse, under any circumstances, the effect of religious counsel and to remedies which in his judgment might prove immediately destructive fully acknowledge his conviction, that to it, or which might even remotely this force done to nature saved him shorten its duration; that, however he from the severest domestic calamity, may form an opinion as to the probable at a time when the consolations of result of his patient's case, he is not reason and religion would have been gifted with prescience, and would act unavailing. most guiltily if in any way, directly or Far, very far, be it from me to indirectly, by the means employed, justify, or even palliate, the too comhe were to hasten the fulfilment of mon cruelty of studiously keeping a his own predictions : moreover, that patient in profound ignorance of his he has not done his duty when he state, and of presenting to his mind has merely prescribed medicine for onlythe glowing prospects of recovery: his patient, has overlooked his com- wherever such conduct is pursued, I pound nature, and has forgotten to ad- would stigmatize it as purely selfish or minister medicine to the mind; that, thoughtless, inhuman or demented, on this ground, he has no right, or antichristian or infatuated, the offeven excuse, for deceiving his patient spring of ignorance or irreligion. as to the probable result ;—but that. But there is a wide difference bein stating that probability, he should tween a proceeding of this kind and always exercise a sound discretion; the exercise of those Christian printhat he should cling to the side of ciples which render it imperative hope, rather than of fear; that he upon the medical man“ not to kill ;” himself should never know any thing that is, to employ all lawful means of despondency; and that in all these for the preservation of life. things he should seek to be guided It may be said here, in reply, that by the assistance of Unerring Wisdom. if it please God to restore health he
I trust you
Probably some persons may not be will find the means of doing so; and satisfied with these principles; and, that if he hath otherwise determined, in the warmth of their anxious zeal the best-appointed means will fail in for the soul's health, will say that in producing the expected result. This every instance the patient should be is most fully granted; but we have made acquainted with his danger. nothing to do with the government If this be at all admitted, it must be of the Almighty ; neither can we received with considerable allowance. know that, in the order of that Hope is one of the most powerful vernment, we are not the appointed medicines we can employ, and one agents of effecting a restoration, or of the most certain in its effects; the criminal agents of accomplishing and grafted upon this will be confidence the purposes of God, through our in the medical attendant. Now, if neglect: it is ours only to employ we destroy both the one and the the means which have been graciously other, and we become limited to the placed at our disposal ; and the meemployment of the very inferior bodily dical man is involved in deep cri. agents of medicine, we do not do our minality, if he voluntarily omit the duty. An anxious countenance from zealous employment of these means. a medical attendant will often be Some individuals, I am aware, will sufficient to destroy the slender thread say that the prospects of Christion which life hangs suspended. Over anity afford the best source of hope. and over again has the writer of the And so they do, to those who can present article been told, “ Nothing embrace it ; to those who have“ laid but your cheerful countenance has hold of the hope set before them ”in saved
my life :" and yet that coun- the Gospel, as “an anchor of the tenance has been often cheerful when soul both sure and stedfast.” But there the heart was in its saddest mood. are many states of disease in which And why was it thus cheerful, but the veil of physical infirmity is drawn from a sense of duty ? and, as a over these prospects; in which it is means under God, does he now grate, impossible to realize a distant good,
or even to think two consecutive rations of a gracious Providence, ideas; when the physical impression which moves in nature in a mysof hope and of cheerfulness may be terious way, yet in a way in which made upon the nervous system, and goodness, mercy, and love are always may sustain that system through its to be distinguished as the prevailing almost desperate struggle. And sup- attributes. Many proofs of the great pose the case were different, and advantages of this principle are before that the patient cannot rest in hope me. It has pleased God to bless me of futurity; suppose a very common with a large share of the confidence case,—that, to the best of our judg- of the neighbourhood in which I ment, present hope and confidence reside : I hope that time, and talent, will bring him through, and that and opportunity have been devoted without this, or such-like props, he to the study of disease, and its means sinks inevitably ;-is it for us to cut of relief; but it is my conviction short his day of grace, by extinguish- that a considerable proportion of the ing hope ; or, by employing the usual successful results of my practice is means so graciously vouchsafed by mainly attributable to the influence Infinite Goodness, to endeavour to of this principle: and is such a powersave the life committed to our charge, ful agent of good to be voluntarily that the goodness and mercy of God abandoned, nay, to be refused emmay lead him to repentance, and to ployment, because of a possible or an acceptance of the offers of mercy, probable result, remaining to us unthrough faith in the great atoning known, and resting in the hands of sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ ? Almighty Power, whose purposes will Surely the latter is the only safe be accomplished ? but, if accomplished conduct, consistent with the prin- through our voluntary neglect, we ciples of our art, which are, to save are not the less criminal for that life, not to kill ; and in compliance omission. with that Divine command, which Far, very far, be it from me, to certainly involves, in its uncompro- justify the absurd system of ever mising prohibition, the employment keeping a patient in ignorance of of all possible means for the extension his state, and studiously alienating and preservation of life.
his attention from the great subjects This line of conduct is not to be of religion, and drawing an impepursued at the expense of truth; be- netrable veil over his prospects for cause we may not commit one sin futurity, on the principle of not disunder the excuse of avoiding ano- turbing his present peace, and of ther, and that can be no moral duty crying Peace, peace, where there which involves the forfeiture of ano- is no peace.” Nothing can be more ther moral duty. But, by an in- dangerous in morality; nothing more telligent observer of human nature, subversive of all sound reasoning, of the progress of disease, and of good practice, or religious principle. the patient's individual character and But when the trembling balance, held present condition, both physical and by the medical man, is so wisely admoral, the two duties will be found justed that the slightest weight to possess in themselves nothing ir- thrown into the one scale will imreconcileable; and a very little tact mediately sinkit beyond the possibility will enable the medical attendant to of vibration, then I would not only perform the one while he does not consider it as sinful to throw in that infringe the other. In fact, the pa- weight, but I would earnestly, sintient is not to be kept in ignorance cerely, conscientiously, seek to introby a system of mendacious assurance; duce
my share of influence into the but the dark edges of the evening opposite scale, so as to maintain cloud are to be gilded by the sun- power, while the struggle against shine of hope and of cheerfulness: the destroying cause was continued. and thus are to be imitated the ope- A distinction must here be made