Section VII - The Christian Physician
Pages 321 - 386
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Psalm 111:10. Professional men, whatever their calling, need divine wisdom. But the physician is in special need of this wisdom in dealing with all classes of minds and diseases. He occupies a position even more responsible than that of the minister of the gospel. He is called to be a colaborer with Christ, and he needs stanch religious principles and a firm connection with the God of wisdom. If he takes counsel of God, he will have the Great Healer to work with his efforts and he will move with the greatest caution, lest by his mismanagement he injure one of God's creatures. He will be firm as a rock to principle, yet kind and courteous to all. He will feel the responsibility of his position, and his practice will show that he is actuated by pure, unselfish motives and a desire to adorn the doctrine of Christ in all things. Such a physician will possess a heaven-born dignity and will be a powerful agent for good in the world. Although he may not be appreciated by those who have no connection with God, yet he will be honored of Heaven. In God's sight he will be more precious than gold, even the gold of Ophir.
The physician should be a strictly temperate man. The physical ailments of humanity are numberless, and he has to deal with disease in all its varied forms. He knows that much of the suffering he seeks to relieve is the result of intemperance and other forms of selfish indulgence. He is called to attend young men and men in the prime of life and in mature age, who have brought disease upon themselves by the use of the narcotic tobacco. If he is an intelligent physician, he will be able to trace disease to its cause; but unless he is free from the use of tobacco himself, he will hesitate to put his finger upon the plague spot and faithfully unfold to his patients the cause of their sickness. He will fail to urge upon the young the necessity of overcoming the habit before it becomes fixed. If he uses the weed himself, how can he present to the inexperienced youth its injurious effects, not only upon themselves, but upon those around them? . . .
Of all men in the world, the physician and the minister should have strictly temperate habits. The welfare of society demands total abstinence of them, for their influence is constantly telling for or against moral reform and the improvement of society. It is willful sin in them to be ignorant of the laws of health or indifferent to them, for they are looked up to as wise above other men. This is especially true of the physician, who is entrusted with human life. He is expected to indulge in no habit that will weaken the life forces. . . .
The question is not, What is the world doing? but, What are professional men doing in regard to the widespread and prevailing curse of tobacco using? Will men to whom God has given intelligence, and who are in positions of sacred trust, be true to follow intelligent reason? Will these responsible men, having under their care persons whom their influence will lead in a right or a wrong direction, be pattern men? Will they, by precept and example, teach obedience to the laws which govern the physical system? If they do not put to a practical use the knowledge they have of the laws that govern their own being, if they prefer present gratification to soundness of mind and body, they are not fit to be entrusted with the lives of others. They are in duty bound to stand in the dignity of their God-given manhood, free from the bondage of any appetite or passion.
The man who chews and smokes is doing injury, not only to himself, but to all who come within the sphere of his influence. If a physician must be called, the tobacco devotee should be passed by. He will not be a safe counselor. If the disease has its origin in the use of tobacco, he will be tempted to prevaricate and assign some other than the true cause, for how can he condemn himself in his own daily practice?
There are many ways of practicing the healing art, but there is only one way that Heaven approves. God's remedies are the simple agencies of nature, that will not tax or debilitate the system through their powerful properties. Pure air and water, cleanliness, a proper diet, purity of life, and a firm trust in God, are remedies for the want of which thousands are dying, yet these remedies are going out of date because their skillful use requires work that the people do not appreciate. Fresh air, exercise, pure water, and clean, sweet premises, are within the reach of all with but little expense; but drugs are expensive, both in the outlay of means and the effect produced upon the system.
The work of the Christian physician does not end with healing the maladies of the body; his efforts should extend to the diseases of the mind, to the saving of the soul. It may not be his duty, unless asked, to present any theoretical points of truth; but he may point his patients to Christ. The lessons of the divine Teacher are ever appropriate. He should call the attention of the repining to the ever-fresh tokens of the love and care of God, to His wisdom and goodness as manifested in His created works. The mind can then be led through nature up to nature's God, and centered on the heaven which He has prepared for those that love Him.
The physician should know how to pray. In many cases he must increase suffering in order to save life; and whether the patient is a Christian or not, he feels greater security if he knows that his physician fears God. Prayer will give the sick an abiding confidence; and many times if their cases are borne to the Great Physician in humble trust, it will do more for them that all the drugs that can be administered.
Satan is the originator of disease, and the physician is warring against his work and power. Sickness of the mind prevails everywhere. Nine tenths of the diseases from which men suffer have their foundation here. Perhaps some living home trouble is, like a canker, eating to the very soul and weakening the life forces. Remorse for sin sometimes undermines the constitution and unbalances the mind. There are erroneous doctrines also, as that of an eternally burning hell and the endless torment of the wicked, that, by giving exaggerated and distorted views of the character of God, have produced the same result upon sensitive minds. Infidels have made the most of these unfortunate cases, attributing insanity to religion, but this is a gross libel, and one which they will not be pleased to meet by and by. The religion of Christ, so far from being the cause of insanity, is one of its most effectual remedies; for it is a potent soother of the nerves.
The physician needs more than human wisdom and power that he may know how to minister to the many perplexing cases of disease of the mind and heart with which he is called to deal. If he is ignorant of the power of divine grace, he cannot help the afflicted one, but will aggravate the difficulty; but if he has a firm hold upon God, he will be able to help the diseased, distracted mind. He will be able to point his patients to Christ and teach them to carry all their cares and perplexities to the great Burden Bearer.
There is a divinely appointed connection between sin and disease. No physician can practice for a month without seeing this illustrated. He may ignore the fact; his mind may be so occupied with other matters that his attention will not be called to it; but if he will be observing and honest, he cannot help acknowledging that sin and disease bear to each other the relationship of cause and effect. The physician should be quick to see this and to act accordingly. When he has gained the confidence of the afflicted by relieving their sufferings and bringing them back from the verge of the grave, he may teach them that disease is the result of sin, and that it is the fallen foe who seeks to allure them to health-and-soul-destroying practices. He may impress their minds with the necessity of denying self and obeying the laws of life and health. In the minds of the young especially he may instill right principles. God loves His creatures with a love that is both tender and strong. He has established the laws of nature; but His laws are not arbitrary exactions. Every "Thou shalt not," whether in physical or moral law, contains or implies a promise. If it is obeyed, blessings will attend our steps; if it is disobeyed, the result is danger and unhappiness. The laws of God are designed to bring His people closer to Himself. He will save them from the evil and lead them to the good, if they will be led; but force them He never will. . . .
Physicians who love and fear God are few compared with those who are infidels or openly irreligious; and these should be patronized in preference to the latter class. We may well distrust the ungodly physician. A door of temptation is open to him, a wily devil will suggest base thoughts and actions, and it is only the power of divine grace that can quell tumultuous passion and fortify against sin. To those who are morally corrupt, opportunities to corrupt pure minds are not wanting. But how will the licentious physician appear in the day of God? While professing to care for the sick, he has betrayed sacred trusts. He has degraded both the soul and the body of God's creatures and has set their feet in the path that leads to perdition. How terrible to trust our loved ones in the hands of an impure man, who may poison the morals and ruin the soul! How out of place is the godless physician at the bedside of the dying!
The physician is almost daily brought face to face with death. He is, as it were, treading upon the verge of the grave. In many instances familiarity with scenes of suffering and death results in carelessness and indifference to human woe and recklessness in the treatment of the sick. Such physicians seem to have no tender sympathy. They are harsh and abrupt, and the sick dread their approach. Such men, however great their knowledge and skill, can do the suffering little good; but if the love and sympathy that Jesus manifested for the sick is combined with the physician's knowledge, his very presence will be a blessing. He will not look upon his patient as a mere piece of human mechanism, but as a soul to be saved or lost.
The duties of the physician are arduous. Few realize the mental and physical strain to which he is subjected. Every energy and capability must be enlisted with the most intense anxiety in the battle with disease and death. Often he knows that one unskillful movement of the hand, even but a hair's breadth in the wrong direction, may send a soul unprepared into eternity. How much the faithful physician needs the sympathy and prayers of the people of God. His claims in this direction are not inferior to those of the most devoted minister or missionary worker. Deprived, as he often is, of needed rest and sleep, and even of religious privileges on the Sabbath, he needs a double portion of grace, a fresh supply daily, or he will lose his hold on God and will be in danger of sinking deeper in spiritual darkness than men of other callings. And yet often he is made to bear unmerited reproaches and is left to stand alone, the subject of Satan's fiercest temptations, feeling himself misunderstood, betrayed by his friends.
Many, knowing how trying are the duties of the physician, and how few opportunities physicians have for release from care, even upon the Sabbath, will not choose this for their lifework. But the great enemy is constantly seeking to destroy the workmanship of God's hands, and men of culture and intelligence are called upon to combat his cruel power. More of the right kind of men are needed to devote themselves to this profession. Painstaking effort should be made to induce suitable men to qualify themselves for this work. They should be men whose characters are based upon the broad principles of the word of God--men who possess a natural energy, force, and perseverance that will enable them to reach a high standard of excellence. It is not everyone who can make a successful physician. Many have entered upon the duties of this profession every way unprepared. They have not the requisite knowledge, neither have they the skill and tact, the carefulness and intelligence, necessary to ensure success.
A physician can do much better work if he has physical strength. If he is feeble, he cannot endure the wearing labor incident to his calling. A man who has a weak constitution, who is a dyspeptic, or who has not perfect self-control, cannot become qualified to deal with all classes of disease. Great care should be taken not to encourage persons who might be useful in some less responsible position, to study medicine at a great outlay of time and means, when there is no reasonable hope that they will succeed.
Some have been singled out as men who might be useful as physicians, and they have been encouraged to take a medical course. But some who commenced their studies in the medical colleges as Christians, did not keep the divine law prominent; they sacrificed principle and lost their hold on God. They felt that singlehanded they could not keep the fourth commandment and meet the jeers and ridicule of the ambitious, the world-loving, the superficial, the skeptic, and the infidel. This kind of persecution they were not prepared to meet. They were ambitious to climb higher in the world, and they stumbled on the dark mountains of unbelief and became untrustworthy. Temptations of every kind opened before them and they had no strength to resist. Some of these have become dishonest, scheming policy men and are guilty of grave sins.
In this age there is danger for everyone who shall enter upon the study of medicine. Often his instructors are worldly-wise men and his fellow students infidels who have no thought of God, and he is in danger of being influenced by these irreligious associations. Nevertheless, some have gone through the medical course and have remained true to principle. They would not continue their studies on the Sabbath, and they have proved that men may become qualified for the duties of a physician and not disappoint the expectations of those who furnish them means to obtain an education. Like Daniel, they have honored God, and He has kept them. Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not adopt the customs of kingly courts; he would not eat of the king's meat nor drink of his wine. He looked to God for strength and grace, and God gave him wisdom and skill and knowledge above that of the astrologers, the soothsayers, and the magicians of the kingdom. To him the promise was verified, "Them that honor Me I will honor." Samuel 2:30.
The young physician has access to the God of Daniel. Through divine grace and power he may become as efficient in his calling as Daniel was in his exalted position. But it is a mistake to make a scientific preparation the all-important thing, while religious principles, that lie at the very foundation of a successful practice, are neglected. Many are lauded as skillful men in their profession, who scorn the thought that they need to rely upon Jesus for wisdom in their work. But if these men who trust in their knowledge of science were illuminated by the light of Heaven, to how much greater excellence might they attain! How much stronger would be their powers, with how much greater confidence could they undertake difficult cases! The man who is closely connected with the Great Physician of soul and body has the resources of heaven and earth at his command, and he can work with a wisdom, an unerring precision, that the godless man cannot possess.
Those to whom the care of the sick is entrusted, whether as physicians or nurses, should remember that their work must stand the scrutiny of the piercing eye of Jehovah. There is no missionary field more important than that occupied by the faithful, God-fearing physician. There is no field where a man may accomplish greater good or win more jewels to shine in the crown of his rejoicing. He may carry the grace of Christ, as a sweet perfume, into all the sickrooms he enters; he may carry the true healing balm to the sin-sick soul. He can point the sick and dying to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. He should not listen to the suggestion that it is dangerous to speak of their eternal interests to those whose lives are in peril, lest it should make them worse, for in nine cases out of ten the knowledge of a sin-pardoning Saviour would make them better both in mind and body. Jesus can limit the power of Satan. He is the physician in whom the sin-sick soul may trust to heal the maladies of the body as well as of the soul.
Every medical practitioner may through faith in Christ have in his possession a cure of the highest value--a remedy for the sin-sick soul. The physician who is converted and sanctified through the truth is registered in heaven as a laborer together with God, a follower of Jesus Christ. Through the sanctification of the truth, God gives to physicians and nurses wisdom and skill in treating the sick, and this work is opening the fast-closed door to many hearts. Men and women are led to understand the truth which is needed to save the soul as well as the body.
This is an element that gives character to the work for this time. The medical missionary work is as the right arm of the third angel's message which must be proclaimed to a fallen world; and physicians, managers, and workers in any line, in acting faithfully their part, are doing the work of the message. Thus the sound of the truth will go forth to every nation and kindred and tongue and people. In this work the heavenly angels bear a part. They awaken spiritual joy and melody in the hearts of those who have been freed from suffering, and thanksgiving to God arises from the lips of many who have received the precious truth.
Every physician in our ranks should be a Christian. Only those physicians who are genuine Bible Christians can discharge aright the high duties of their profession.
The physician who understands the responsibility and accountability of his position will feel the necessity of Christ's presence with him in his work for those for whom such a sacrifice has been made. He will subordinate everything to the higher interests which concern the life that may be saved unto life eternal. He will do all in his power to save both the body and the soul. He will try to do the very work that Christ would do were He in his place. The physician who loves Christ and the souls for whom Christ died will seek earnestly to bring into the sickroom a leaf from the tree of life. He will try to break the bread of life to the sufferer. Notwithstanding the obstacles and difficulties to be met, this is the solemn, sacred work of the medical profession.
True missionary work is that in which the Saviour's work is best represented, His methods most closely copied, His glory best promoted. Missionary work that falls short of this standard is recorded in heaven as defective. It is weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and found wanting.
Physicians should seek to direct the minds of their patients to Christ, the Physician of soul and body. That which physician can only attempt to do, Christ accomplishes. The human agent strives to prolong life. Christ is life itself. He who passed through death to destroy him that had the power of death is the Source of all vitality. There is balm in Gilead, and a Physician there. Christ endured an agonizing death under the most humiliating circumstances that we might have life. He gave up His precious life that He might vanquish death. But He rose from the tomb, and the myriads of angels who came to behold Him take up the life He had laid down heard His words of triumphant joy as He stood above Joseph's rent sepulcher proclaiming, "I am the resurrection and the life."
The question, "If a man die, shall he live again?" has been answered. By bearing the penalty of sin, by going down into the grave, Christ has brightened the tomb for all who die in faith. God in human form has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. In dying, Christ secured eternal life for all who believe in Him. In dying, He condemned the originator of sin and disloyalty to suffer the penalty of sin--eternal death.
The possessor and giver of eternal life, Christ was the only one who could conquer death. He is our Redeemer, and blessed is every physician who is in a true sense of the word a missionary, a savior of souls for whom Christ gave His life. Such a physician learns day by day from the Great Physician how to watch and work for the saving of the souls and bodies of men and women. The Saviour is present in the sickroom, in the operating room; and His power for His name's glory accomplishes great things.
The physician can do a noble work if he is connected with the Great Physician. To the relatives of the sick, whose hearts are full of sympathy for the sufferer, he may find opportunity to speak the words of life; and he can soothe and uplift the mind of the sufferer by leading him to look to the One who can save to the uttermost all who come to Him for salvation.
When the Spirit of God works on the mind of the afflicted one, leading him to inquire for truth, let the physician work for the precious soul as Christ would work for it. Do not urge upon him any special doctrine, but point him to Jesus as the sin-pardoning Saviour. Angels of God will impress the mind. Some will refuse to be illuminated by the light which God would let shine into the chambers of the mind and into the soul temple; but many will respond to the light, and from these minds deception and error in their various forms will be swept away.
Every opportunity of working as Christ worked should be carefully improved. The physician should talk of the works of healing wrought by Christ, of His tenderness and love. He should believe that Jesus is his companion, close by his side. "We are laborers together with God." 1 Corinthians 3:9. Never should the physician neglect to direct the minds of his patients to Christ, the Chief Physician. If he has the Saviour abiding in his own heart, his thoughts will ever be directed to the Healer of soul and body. He will lead the minds of sufferers to Him who can restore, who, when on earth, restored the sick to health and healed the soul as well as the body, saying, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." Mark 2:5.
Never should familiarity with suffering cause the physician to become careless or unsympathetic. In cases of dangerous illness, the afflicted one feels that he is at the mercy of the physician. He looks to that physician as his only earthly hope, and the physician should ever point the trembling soul to One who is greater than himself, even the Son of God, who gave His life to save him from death, who pities the sufferer, and who by His divine power will give skill and wisdom to all who ask Him.
When the patient knows not how his case will turn is the time for the physician to impress the mind. He should not do this with a desire to distinguish himself, but that he may point the soul to Christ as a personal Saviour. If the life is spared, there is a soul for that physician to watch for. The patient feels that the physician is the very life of his life. And to what purpose should this great confidence be employed? Always to win a soul to Christ and magnify the power of God.
When the crisis has passed and success is apparent, be the patient a believer or an unbeliever, let a few moments be spent with him in prayer. Give expression to your thankfulness for the life that has been spared. The physician who follows such a course carries his patient to the One upon whom he is dependent for life. Words of gratitude may flow from the patient to the physician, for through God he has bound this life up with his own; but let the praise and thanksgiving be given to God, as to One who is present though invisible.
On the sickbed Christ is often accepted and confessed; and this will be done oftener in the future than it has been in the past, for a quick work will the Lord do in our world. Words of wisdom are to be on the lips of the physician, and Christ will water the seed sown, causing it to bring forth fruit unto eternal life.
We lose the most precious opportunities by neglecting to speak a word in season. Too often a precious talent that ought to produce a thousandfold is left unused. If the golden privilege is not watched for it will pass. Something was allowed to prevent the physician from doing his appointed work as a minister of righteousness.
There are none too many godly physicians to minister in their profession. There is much work to be done, and ministers and doctors are to work in perfect union. Luke, the writer of the Gospel that bears his name, is called the beloved physician, and those who do a work similar to that which he did are living out the gospel.
Countless are the opportunities of the physician for warning the impenitent, cheering the disconsolate and hopeless, and prescribing for the health of mind and body. As he thus instructs the people in the principles of true temperance, and as a guardian of souls gives advice to those who are mentally and physically diseased, the physician is acting his part in the great work of making ready a people prepared for the Lord. This is what medical missionary work is to accomplish in its relation to the third angel's message.
Ministers and physicians are to work harmoniously with earnestness to save souls that are becoming entangled in Satan's snares. They are to point men and women to Jesus, their righteousness, their strength, and the health of their countenance. Continually they are to watch for souls. There are those who are struggling with strong temptations, in danger of being overcome in the fight with satanic agencies. Will you pass these by without offering them assistance? If you see a soul in need of help, engage in conversation with him even though you do not know him. Pray with him. Point him to Jesus.
This work belongs just as surely to the doctor as to the minister. By public and private effort the physician should seek to win souls to Christ.
In all our enterprises and in all our institutions God is to be acknowledged as the Master Worker. The physicians are to stand as His representatives. The medical fraternity have made many reforms, and they are still to advance. Those who hold the lives of human beings in their hands should be educated, refined, sanctified. Then will the Lord work through them in mighty power to glorify His name.
Precious light has been given me concerning our sanitarium workers. These workers are to stand in moral dignity before God. Physicians make a mistake when they confine themselves exclusively to the routine of sanitarium work, because they consider their presence essential to the welfare of the institution. Every physician should see the necessity of exerting all the influence the Lord has given him in as wide a sphere as possible; he is required to let his light shine before men, that they may see his good works and glorify the Father who is in heaven.
The head physicians in our sanitariums are not to exclude themselves from the work of speaking the truth to others. Their light is not to be hidden under a bushel, but placed where it can benefit believers and unbelievers. The Saviour said of His representatives: "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden underfoot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:13-16. This is a work that is strangely neglected, and because of this neglect, souls will be lost. Wake up, my brethren, wake up!
Our leading physicians do not glorify God when they confine their talents and their influence to one institution.
It is their privilege to show to the world that health reformers carry a decided influence for righteousness and truth. They should make themselves known outside of the institutions where they labor. It is their duty to give the light to all whom they can possibly reach. While the sanitarium may be their special field of labor, yet there are other places of importance that need their influence. To physicians the instruction is given: Let your light shine forth among men. Let every talent be used to meet unbelievers with wise counsel and instruction. If our Christian physicians will consider that there must be no daubing with untempered mortar and will learn to handle wisely the subjects of Bible truth, seeking to present its importance on every possible occasion, much prejudice will be broken down and souls will be reached....
We are not to be an obscure church, but we are to let the light shine forth, that the world may receive it. "I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people," God declares through His servant Isaiah. Isaiah 65:19. These words will be proved true when those who are capable of standing in positions of responsibility let the light shine forth. Our leading physicians have a work to do outside the compass of our own people. Their influence is not to be limited. Christ's methods of labor are to become their methods, and they are to learn to practice the teachings of His word. Everyone who stands at the head of an institution is under sacred obligation to God to show forth the light of present truth in increasingly bright rays in every place where opportunity offers.
The workers in our sanitariums are not to think that the prosperity of the institution depends upon the influence of the head physician alone. There should be in every institution men and women who will exert a righteous, refining influence, and who are capable of carrying responsibilities. The chief responsibilities should be shared by several workers, in order that the leading physician may not be confined too closely to his practice. He should be given opportunity to go where there is need of words of counsel and encouragement to be spoken. As a representative of the Chief Physician, now in the heavenly courts, he is to speak to new congregations, to broaden his experience. He needs to be constantly receiving new ideas, constantly imparting of his store of knowledge, constantly receiving from the Source of all wisdom. We need ever to keep ourselves in a position where we can receive increased light, have new and deeper thoughts, and obtain clearer views of the close relation that must exist between God and His people. And we obtain these views and these ideas by association with those to whom we are called to speak words of mercy and pardoning grace.
In all our work there should be kept in view the value of the exchange of talents. Strenuous efforts are to be put forth to reach souls and win them to the truth. We are required to make known the principles of health reform in the large gatherings of our people at our camp meetings. A variety of gifts is needed on these occasions, not only for the work of speaking before those not of our faith, but to instruct our own people how to work in order to secure the best success. Let our physicians learn how to take part in this work--a work by which they give to the world bright rays of light.
The Lord will hear and answer the prayer of the Christian physician, and he may reach an elevated standard if he will but lay hold upon the hand of Christ and determine that he will not let go. Golden opportunities are open to the Christian physician, for he may exert a precious influence upon those with whom he is brought in contact. He may guide and mold and fashion the lives of his patients by holding before them heavenly principles.
The physician should let men see that he does not regard his work as of a cheap order, but looks upon it as high, noble, elevated work, even that to which is attached the sacred accountability of dealing with both the souls and the bodies of those for whom Christ has paid the infinite price of His most precious blood. If the physician has the mind of Christ, he will be cheerful, hopeful, and happy, but not trifling. He will realize that heavenly angels accompany him to the sickroom and will find words to speak readily, truthfully, to his patients, that will cheer and bless them. His faith will be full of simplicity, of childlike confidence in the Lord. He will be able to repeat to the repenting soul the gracious promises of God and thus place the trembling hand of the afflicted ones in the hand of Christ, that they may find repose in God.
Thus, through the grace imparted to him, the physician will fulfill his heavenly Father's claims upon him. In delicate and perilous operations he may know that Jesus is by his side to counsel, to strengthen, to nerve him to act with precision and skill in his efforts to save human life. If the presence of God is not in the sickroom, Satan will be there to suggest perilous experiments and will seek to unbalance the nerves, so that life will be destroyed rather than saved.
A physician occupies a more important position, because of dealing with morbid souls, diseased minds, and afflicted bodies, than does the minister of the gospel. The physician can present an elevated standard of Christian character, if he will be instant in season and out of season. He is thus a missionary for the Lord, doing the Master's work with fidelity, and will receive a reward by and by.
Let the Christian keep his own counsel and divulge no secret to unbelievers. Let him communicate no secret that will disparage God's people. Guard your thoughts, close the door to temptation. Do your work as in the sight of the divine Watcher. Work patiently, expecting that, through the grace of Christ, you will make a success in your profession. Keep up the barriers which the Lord has erected for your safety. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life, or of death.
A physician should attend strictly to his professional work. He should not allow anything to come in to divert his mind from his business, or to take his attention from those who are looking to him for relief from suffering. An assuring and hopeful word spoken in season to the sufferer will often relieve his mind and win for the physician a place in his confidence. Kindness and courtesy should be manifested; but the common, cheap talk which is so customary even among some who claim to be Christians, should not be heard in our institutions. The only way for us to become truly courteous, without affectation, without undue familiarity, is to drink in the spirit of Christ, to heed the injunction, "Be ye holy; for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16. If we act upon the principles laid down in the word of God, we shall have no inclination to indulge in undue familiarity.
The workers in our institutions should be living examples of what they desire those to be who are patients in the institution. A right spirit and a holy life are a constant instruction to others. The hollowhearted courtesy of the fashionable world is of no value in the sight of Him by whom actions are weighed. There should be no partiality and no hypocrisy. The physician should be ready for every good work. If his life is hid with Christ in God, he will be a missionary in the highest sense.
When they are together, Christian physicians will conduct themselves as sons of God. They will realize that they are engaged to work in the same vineyard, and selfish barriers will be broken down. For each other they will feel a deep interest, untainted with selfishness. He who is himself a reformer can accomplish good in seeking to reform others. By precept and example he can be a savor of life unto life. Would that the curtain could be rolled back, and we could see how interestedly the angels of God are looking upon the institutions for the treatment of the sick. The work in which the physician is engaged --standing between the living and the dead--is of special importance.
God has given a great work into the hand of physicians. The afflicted children of men are in a degree at their mercy. How the patient watches him who cares for his physical welfare. The actions and words, the very expressions of the physician's countenance, are matters of study. What gratitude springs up in the heart of the suffering one when his pain is relieved through the efforts of his faithful physician. The patient feels that his life is in the hands of him who thus ministers to him, and the physician or the nurse can then easily approach him on religious subjects. If the sufferer is under the control of divine influences, how gently can the Christian physician or nurse drop the precious seeds of truth into the garden of the heart. He can bring the promise of God before the soul of the helpless one. If the physician has religion, he can impart the fragrance of heavenly grace to the softened and subdued heart of the suffering one. He can direct the thoughts of his patient to the Great Physician. He can present Jesus to the sin-sick soul.
How often the physician is made a confidant, and griefs and trials are laid open before him by the sick. At such a time what precious opportunities are afforded to speak words of comfort and consolation in the fear and love of God, and to impart Christian counsel. Deep love for souls for whom Christ died should imbue the physician. In the fear of God I tell you that none but a Christian physician can rightly discharge the duties of this sacred profession.
Our sanitariums are to be established for one object --the proclamation of the truth for this time. And they are to be so conducted that a decided impression in favor of the truth will be made on the minds of those who come to them for treatment. The conduct of each worker is to tell on the side of right. We have a warning message to bear to the world, and our earnestness, our devotion to God's service, are to bear witness to the truth.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 200 (1904).
The relation that exists between the mind and the body is very intimate. When one is affected, the other sympathizes. The condition of the mind affects the health to a far greater degree than many realize. Many of the diseases from which men suffer are the result of mental depression. Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt, distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death.
Disease is sometimes produced, and is often greatly aggravated, by the imagination. Many are lifelong invalids who might be well if they only thought so. Many imagine that every slight exposure will cause illness, and the evil effect is produced because it is expected. Many die from disease, the cause of which is wholly imaginary.
Courage, hope, faith, sympathy, love, promote health and prolong life. A contented mind, a cheerful spirit, is health to the body and strength to the soul. "A merry [rejoicing] heart doeth good like a medicine." Proverbs 17:22.
In the treatment of the sick, the effect of mental influence should not be overlooked. Rightly used, this influence affords one of the most effective agencies for combating disease.
There is, however, a form of mind cure that is one of the most effective agencies for evil. Through this so-called science, one mind is brought under the control of another, so that the individuality of the weaker is merged in that of the stronger mind. One person acts out the will of another. Thus it is claimed that the tenor of the thoughts may be changed, that health-giving impulses may be imparted and patients may be enabled to resist and overcome disease.
This method of cure has been employed by persons who were ignorant of its real nature and tendency, and who believed it to be a means of benefit to the sick. But the so-called science is based upon false principles. It is foreign to the nature and spirit of Christ. It does not lead to Him who is life and salvation. The one who attracts minds to himself leads them to separate from the true Source of their strength.
It is not God's purpose that any human being should yield his mind and will to the control of another, becoming a passive instrument in his hands. No one is to merge his individuality in that of another. He is not to look to any human being as the source of healing. His dependence must be in God. In the dignity of his God-given manhood, he is to be controlled by God Himself, not by any human intelligence.
God desires to bring men into direct relation with Himself. In all His dealings with human beings He recognizes the principle of personal responsibility. He seeks to encourage a sense of personal dependence, and to impress the need of personal guidance. He desires to bring the human into association with the divine, that men may be transformed into the divine likeness. Satan works to thwart this purpose. He seeks to encourage dependence upon men. When minds are turned away from God, the tempter can bring them under his rule. He can control humanity.
The theory of mind controlling mind was originated by Satan to introduce himself as the chief worker, to put human philosophy where divine philosophy should be. Of all the errors that are finding acceptance among professedly Christian people, none is a more dangerous deception, none more certain to separate man from God, than is this. Innocent though it may appear, if exercised upon patients it will tend to their destruction, not to their restoration. It opens a door through which Satan will enter to take possession both of the mind that is given up to be controlled by another, and of the mind that controls.
Fearful is the power thus given to evil-minded men and women. What opportunities it affords to those who live by taking advantage of other's weaknesses or follies! How many, through control of minds feeble or diseased, will find a means of gratifying lustful passion or greed of gain!
There is something better for us to engage in than the control of humanity by humanity. The physician should educate the people to look from the human to the divine. Instead of teaching the sick to depend upon human beings for the cure of soul and body, he should direct them to the One who can save to the uttermost all who come unto Him. He who made man's mind knows what the mind needs. God alone is the one who can heal. Those whose minds and bodies are diseased are to behold in Christ the restorer. "Because I live," He says, "ye shall live also." This is the life we are to present to the sick, telling them that if they have faith in Christ as the restorer, if they co-operate with Him, obeying the laws of health and striving to perfect holiness in His fear, He will impart to them His life. When we present Christ to them in this way, we are imparting a power, a strength, that is of value; for it comes from above. This is the true science of healing for body and soul.
I was shown that the physicians at our Institute should be men and women of faith and spirituality. They should make God their trust. There are many who come to the Institute who have, by their own sinful indulgence, brought upon themselves disease of almost every type. This class do not deserve the sympathy that they frequently require. And it is painful to the physicians to devote time and strength to this class, who are debased physically, mentally, and morally.
But there is a class who have, through ignorance, lived in violation of nature's laws. They have worked intemperately and have eaten intemperately, because it was the custom to do so. Some have suffered many things from many physicians, but have not been made better, but decidedly worse. At length they are torn from business, from society, and from their families; and as their last resort, they come to the Health Institute, with some faint hope that they may find relief. This class need sympathy. They should be treated with the greatest tenderness, and care should be taken to make clear to their understanding the laws of their being, that they may, by ceasing to violate them, and by governing themselves, avoid suffering and disease, the penalty of nature's violated law. . . .
Remember Christ, who came in direct contact with suffering humanity. Although, in many cases, the afflicted had brought disease upon themselves by their sinful course in violating natural law, Jesus pitied their weakness, and when they came to Him with disease the most loathsome, He did not stand aloof for fear of contamination; He touched them and bade disease give back.
"And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And He said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole." Luke 17:12-19.
Here is a lesson for us all. These lepers were so corrupted by disease that they had been restricted from society lest they should contaminate others. Their limits had been prescribed by the authorities. Jesus comes within their sight, and in their great suffering, they cry unto Him who alone has power to relieve them. Jesus bids them show themselves to the priests. They have faith to start on their way, believing in the power of Christ to heal them. As they go on their way, they realize that the horrible disease has left them. But only one has feelings of gratitude, only one feels his deep indebtedness to Christ for this great work wrought for him. This one returns praising God, and in the greatest humiliation falls at the feet of Christ, acknowledging with thankfulness the work wrought for him. And this man was a stranger; the other nine were Jews.
For the sake of this one man, who would make a right use of the blessing of health, Jesus healed the whole ten. The nine passed on without appreciating the work done and rendered no grateful thanks to Jesus for doing the work.
Thus will the physicians of the Health Institute have their efforts treated. But if, in their labor to help suffering humanity, one out of twenty makes a right use of the benefits received and appreciates their efforts in his behalf, the physicians should feel grateful and satisfied. If one life out of ten is saved, and one soul out of one hundred is saved in the kingdom of God, all connected with the Institute will be amply repaid for all their efforts. All their anxiety and care will not be wholly lost. If the King of glory, the Majesty of heaven, worked for suffering humanity, and so few appreciated His divine aid, the physicians and helpers at the Institute should blush to complain if their feeble efforts are not appreciated by all and seem to be thrown away on some. . . .
To deal with men and women whose minds as well as bodies are diseased is a nice work. Great wisdom is needed by the physicians at the Institute in order to cure the body through the mind. But few realize the power that the mind has over the body. A great deal of the sickness which afflicts humanity has its origin in the mind, and can only be cured by restoring the mind to health. There are very many more than we imagine who are sick mentally. Heart sickness makes many dyspeptics, for mental trouble has a paralyzing influence upon the digestive organs.
In order to reach this class of patients, the physician must have discernment, patience, kindness, and love. A sore, sick heart, a discouraged mind, needs mild treatment, and it is through tender sympathy that this class of minds can be healed. The physicians should first gain their confidence and then point them to the all-healing Physician. If their minds can be directed to the Burden Bearer and they can have faith that He will have an interest in them, the cure of their diseased bodies and minds will be sure.
There will ever be things arising to annoy, perplex, and try the patience of physicians and helpers. They must be prepared for this and not become excited or unbalanced. They must be calm and kind, whatever may occur. . . . They should ever consider that they are dealing with men and women of diseased minds, who frequently view things in a perverted light and yet are confident that they understand matters perfectly.
Physicians should understand that a soft answer turneth away wrath. Policy must be used in an institution where the sick are treated, in order to successfully control diseased minds and benefit the sick. If physicians can remain calm amid a tempest of inconsiderate, passionate words, if they can rule their own spirits when provoked and abused, they are indeed conquerors. "He that ruleth his spirit" is better "than he that taketh a city." Proverbs 16:32. To subdue self and bring the passions under the control of the will is the greatest conquest that men and women can achieve.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 182, 183 (1872).
The Christian physician is to be to the sick a messenger of mercy, bringing to them a remedy for the sin-sick soul as well as for the diseased body. As he uses the simple remedies that God has provided for the relief of physical suffering, he is to speak of Christ's power to heal the maladies of the soul.
How necessary that the physician live in close communion with the Saviour! The sick and suffering with whom he deals need the help that Christ alone can give. They need prayers indited by His Spirit. The afflicted one leaves himself to the wisdom and mercy of the physician, whose skill and faithfulness may be his only hope. Let the physician, then, be a faithful steward of the grace of God, a guardian of the soul as well as of the body.
The physician who has received wisdom from above, who knows that Christ is His personal Saviour, because he has himself been led to the Refuge, knows how to deal with the trembling, guilty, sin-sick souls who turn to him for help. He can respond with assurance to the inquiry, "What must I do to be saved?" He can tell the story of the Redeemer's love. He can speak from experience of the power of repentance and faith. As he stands by the bedside of the sufferer, striving to speak words that will bring to him help and comfort, the Lord works with him and through him. As the mind of the afflicted one is fastened on the Mighty Healer, the peace of Christ fills his heart, and the spiritual health that comes to him is used as the helping hand of God in restoring the health of the body.
Precious are the opportunities that the physician has of awakening in the hearts of those with whom he is brought in contact a sense of their great need of Christ. He is to bring from the treasure house of the heart things new and old, speaking the words of comfort and instruction that are longed for. Constantly he is to sow the seeds of truth, not presenting doctrinal subjects, but speaking of the love of the sin-pardoning Saviour. Not only should he give instruction from the word of God, line upon line, precept upon precept; he is to moisten this instruction with his tears and make it strong with his prayers, that souls may be saved from death.
In their earnest, feverish anxiety to avert the peril of the body, physicians are in danger of forgetting the peril of the soul. Physicians, be on your guard, for at the judgment seat of Christ you must meet those at whose deathbed you now stand.
The solemnity of the physician's work, his constant contact with the sick and the dying, require that, so far as possible, he be removed from the secular duties that others can perform. No unnecessary burdens should be laid on him, that he may have time to become acquainted with the spiritual needs of his patients. His mind should be ever under the influence of the Holy Spirit, that he may be able to speak in season the words that will awaken faith and hope.
At the bedside of the dying no word of creed or controversy is to be spoken. The sufferer is to be pointed to the One who is willing to save all who come to Him in faith. Earnestly, tenderly, strive to help the soul that is hovering between life and death.
The physician should never lead his patients to fix their attention on him. He is to teach them to grasp with the hand of faith the outstretched hand of the Saviour. Then the mind will be illuminated with the light radiating from the Sun of Righteousness. What physicians attempt to do, Christ did in deed and in truth. They try to save life; He is life itself.
The physician's effort to lead the minds of his patients to healthy action must be free from all human enchantment. It must not grovel to humanity, but soar aloft to the spiritual, grasping the things of eternity.
The physician should not be made the object of unkind criticism. This places on him an unnecessary burden. His cares are heavy, and he needs the sympathy of those connected with him in the work. He is to be sustained by prayer. The realization that he is appreciated will give him hope and courage.
The intelligent Christian physician has a constantly increasing realization of the connection between sin and disease. He strives to see more and more clearly the relation between cause and effect. He sees that those who are taking the nurses' course should be given a thorough education in the principles of health reform; that they should be taught to be strictly temperate in all things, because carelessness in regard to the laws of health is inexcusable in those set apart to teach others how to live.
When a physician sees that a patient is suffering from an ailment caused by improper eating and drinking, yet neglects to tell him of this, and to point out the need of reform, he is doing a fellow being an injury. Drunkards, maniacs, those who are given over to licentiousness--all appeal to the physician to declare clearly and distinctly that suffering is the result of sin. We have received great light on health reform. Why, then, are we not more decidedly in earnest in striving to counteract the causes that produce disease? Seeing the continual conflict with pain, laboring constantly to alleviate suffering, how can our physicians hold their peace? Can they refrain from lifting the voice in warning? Are they benevolent and merciful if they do not teach strict temperance as a remedy for disease?
Physicians, study the warning which Paul gave to the Romans: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:1, 2.
Physicians should not be overworked, and their nervous systems prostrated; for this condition of body will not be favorable to calm minds, steady nerves, and a cheerful, happy spirit. . . .
The privilege of getting away from the Health Institute should occasionally be accorded to all the physicians, especially to those who bear burdens and responsibilities. If there is such a scarcity of help that this cannot be done, more help should be secured. To have physicians overworked and thus disqualified to perform the duties of their profession is a thing to be dreaded. It should be prevented if possible, for its influence is against the interests of the Institute. The physicians should keep well. They must not get sick by overlabor, or by any imprudence on their part.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 182 (1872).
To Our Sanitarium Physicians--
My brethren, the Lord calls upon you to examine the heart closely. He calls upon you to adorn the truth in your daily practice, and in all your dealings with one another. He requires of you a faith that works by love and purifies the soul. It is dangerous for you to trifle with the sacred demands of conscience, dangerous for you to set an example that leads others in a wrong direction.
Christians should carry with them, wherever they go, the sweet fragrance of Christ's righteousness, showing that they are complying with the invitation, "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:29, 30. Are you learning daily in the school of Christ--learning how to dismiss doubt and evil surmisings, learning how to be fair and noble in your dealings with your brethren, for your own sake and for Christ's sake?
Present truth leads onward and upward, gathering in the needy, the oppressed, the suffering, the destitute. All that will come are to be brought into the fold. In their lives there is to take place a reformation that will constitute them members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. By hearing the message of truth, men and women are led to accept the Sabbath and to unite with the church by baptism. They are to bear God's sign by observing the Sabbath of creation. They are to know for themselves that obedience to God's commandments means eternal life.
Means and earnest labor may be safely invested in such a work as this, for it is a work that will endure. Thus those who have been dead in trespasses and sins are brought into fellowship with the saints and are made to sit in heavenly places with Christ. Their feet are placed on a sure foundation. They are enabled to reach a high standard, even the loftiest heights of faith, because Christians make straight paths for their feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way.
Every church should labor for the perishing within its own borders and for those outside its borders. The members are to shine as living stones in the temple of God, reflecting heavenly light. No random, haphazard, desultory work is to be done. To get fast hold of souls ready to perish means more than praying for a drunkard, and then, because he weeps and confesses the pollution of his soul, declaring him saved. Over and over again the battle must be fought.
Let the members of every church feel it their special duty to labor for those in their neighborhood. Let each one who claims to stand under the banner of Christ feel that he has entered into covenant relation with God, to do the work of the Saviour. Let not those who take up this work become weary in well-doing. When the redeemed stand before God, precious souls will respond to their names who are there because of the faithful, patient efforts put forth in their behalf, the entreaties and earnest persuasions to flee to the Stronghold. Thus those who in this world have been laborers together with God will receive their reward.
The ministers of the popular churches will not allow the truth to be presented to the people from their pulpits. The enemy leads them to resist the truth with bitterness and malice. Falsehoods are manufactured. Christ's experience with the Jewish rulers is repeated. Satan strives to eclipse every ray of light shining from God to His people. He works through the ministers as he worked through the priests and rulers in the days of Christ. Will those who know the truth join his party, to hinder, embarrass, and turn aside those who are trying to work in God's appointed way to advance His work, to plant the standard of truth in the regions of darkness?
The third angel's message, embracing the messages of the first and second angels, is the message for this time. We are to raise aloft the banner on which is inscribed, "The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." The world is soon to meet the great Lawgiver over His broken law. This is not the time to put out of sight the great issues before us. God calls upon His people to magnify the law and make it honorable.
When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy, the Sabbath was given to the world, that man might ever remember that in six days God created the world. He rested upon the seventh day, blessing it as the day of His rest, and gave it to the beings He had created, that they might remember Him as the true and living God.
By His mighty power, notwithstanding the opposition of Pharaoh, God delivered His people from Egypt, that they might keep the law which had been given in Eden. He brought them to Sinai to hear the proclamation of this law.
By proclaiming the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel with His own voice, God demonstrated their importance. In awful grandeur He made known His majesty and authority as Ruler of the world. This He did to impress the people with the sacredness of His law and the importance of obeying it. The power and glory with which the law was given reveal its importance. It is the faith once delivered to the saints by Christ our Redeemer speaking from Sinai.
By the observance of the Sabbath, the children of Israel were to be distinguished from all other nations. "Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep," Christ said, "for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you." "It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed." "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant." Exodus 31:13, 17, 16.
The Sabbath is a sign of the relationship existing between God and His people--a sign that they are His obedient subjects, that they keep holy His law. The observance of the Sabbath is the means ordained by God of preserving a knowledge of Himself and of distinguishing between His loyal subjects and the transgressors of His law.
This is the faith once delivered to the saints, who stand in moral power before the world, firmly maintaining this faith.
Opposition we shall have as we voice the message of the third angel. Satan will bring in every possible device to make of no effect the faith once delivered to the saints. "Many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." 2 Peter 2:2, 3. But in spite of opposition, all are to hear the words of truth.
The law of God is the foundation of all enduring reformation. We are to present to the world in clear, distinct lines the need of obeying this law. Obedience to God's law is the greatest incentive to industry, economy, truthfulness, and just dealing between man and man.
The law of God is to be the means of education in the family. Parents are under a most solemn obligation to obey this law, setting their children an example of the strictest integrity. Men in responsible positions, whose influence is far-reaching, are to guard well their ways and works, keeping the fear of the Lord ever before them. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Psalm 111:10. Those who hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord and cheerfully keep His commandments will be among the number who see God. "The Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He hath commanded us." Deuteronomy 6:24, 25.
Our work as believers in the truth is to present before the world the immutability of the law of God. Ministers and teachers, physicians and nurses, are bound by covenant with God to present the importance of obeying His law. We are to be distinguished as a people who keep the commandments. The Lord has stated explicitly that He has a work to be done for the world. How shall it be done? Let us seek to find the best way and then perform the will of the Lord.
The physicians of the Health Institute should not feel compelled to do work that helpers can do. They should not serve in the bathroom or in the movement room, expending their vitality in doing what others might do. There should be no lack of helpers to nurse the sick and to watch with the feeble ones who need watchers. The physicians should reserve their strength for the successful performance of their professional duties. They should tell others what to do. If there is a want of those whom they can trust to do these things, suitable persons should be employed and properly instructed, and suitably remunerated for their services.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 177, 178 (1872).
The physician stands in a difficult place. Strong temptations will come to him, and unless kept by the power of God, that which he hears and sees in his work will discourage his heart and pollute his soul. His thoughts should be constantly uplifted to God. This is his only safety.
Countless are the opportunities that a physician has for winning souls to God, for cheering the discouraged and relieving the despair that comes to the soul when the body is tortured with pain.
But some who have chosen the medical profession are too easily led away from the duties resting upon the physician. Some by misuse enfeeble their powers, so that they cannot render to God perfect service. They place themselves where they cannot act with vigor, tact, and skill, and they do not realize that by disregard to physical laws they bring upon themselves inefficiency, and thus they rob and dishonor God.
Physicians should not allow their attention to be diverted from their work; neither should they confine themselves so closely to professional work that health will be injured. In the fear of God they should be wise in the use of strength that God has given them. Never should they disregard the means that God has provided for the preservation of health. It is their duty to bring under the control of reason every power that God has given them.
Of all men, the physician should, as far as possible, take regular hours for rest. This will give him power of endurance to bear the taxing burdens of his work. In his busy life the physician will find that the searching of the Scriptures and earnest prayer will give vigor of mind and stability of character.
Seek to meet the expectations of Jesus Christ. He will help in every effort in the right direction. Remember that there is not an action of life, nor a motive of the heart, that is not open to the grace of the Saviour.
The way to the throne of God is always open. You cannot always be on your knees in prayer, but your silent petitions may constantly ascend to God for strength and guidance. When tempted, as you will be, you may flee to the secret place of the Most High. His everlasting arms will be underneath you. Let these words cheer you, "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy." Revelation 3:4.
When Christ is formed within, the hope of glory, you will be well balanced, and you will not be changeable, but will rise above the influences that discourage and discompose those who are not stayed upon Christ. You will be able to prove that it is possible to be a wise, successful physician, and at the same time an active Christian, serving the Lord in sincerity. Godliness is the foundation of true dignity and completeness of character.
Unless the physicians in our sanitariums are men of thorough habits, unless they attend promptly to their duties, their work will become a reproach and the Lord's appointed agencies will lose their influence. By a course of negligence to duty the physician humiliates the Great Physician, of whom he should be a representative. Strict hours should be kept with all patients, high and low. No careless neglect should be allowed in any of the nurses. Ever be true to your word, prompt in meeting your appointments, for this means much to the sick.
Among Christian physicians there should ever be a striving for the maintenance of the highest order of true refinement and delicacy, a preservation of those barriers of reserve that should exist between men and women.
We are living in a time when the world is represented as Noah's time, and as in the time of Sodom. I am constantly shown the great dangers to which youth, and men and women who have just reached manhood and womanhood, and also men and women of mature years, are exposed, and I dare not hold my peace. There is need of greater refinement, both in thought and association. There is need of Christians' being more elevated and delicate in words and deportment.
The work of the physician is of a character that if there is a coarseness in his nature, it will be revealed. Therefore, the physician should guard carefully his speech and avoid all commonness in his conversation. Every patient he treats is reading the traits of his character and the tone of his morals by his actions and conversation.
The light given me of the Lord regarding this matter is that as far as possible lady physicians should care for lady patients, and gentlemen physicians have the care of gentlemen patients. Every physician should respect the delicacy of the patients. Any unnecessary exposure of ladies before male physicians is wrong. Its influence is detrimental.
Delicate treatments should not be given by male physicians to women in our institutions. Never should a lady patient be alone with a gentleman physician, either for special examination or for treatment. Let the physicians be faithful in preserving delicacy and modesty under all circumstances.
In our medical institutions there ought always to be women of mature age and good experience who have been trained to give treatments to the lady patients. Women should be educated and qualified just as thoroughly as possible to become practitioners in the delicate diseases which afflict women, that their secret parts should not be exposed to the notice of men. There should be a much larger number of lady physicians, educated not only to act as trained nurses, but also as physicians. It is a most horrible practice, this revealing the secret parts of women to men, or men being treated by women.
Women physicians should utterly refuse to look upon the secret parts of men. Women should be thoroughly educated to work for women, and men to work for men. Let men know that they must go to their own sex and not apply to lady physicians. It is an insult to women, and God looks upon these things of commonness with abhorrence.
While physicians are called upon to teach social purity, let them practice that delicacy which is a constant lesson in practical purity. Women may do a noble work as practicing physicians; but when men ask a lady physician to give them examinations and treatments which demand the exposure of private parts, let her refuse decidedly to do this work.
In the medical work there are dangers which the physician should understand and constantly guard against. Truly converted men are the ones who should be employed as physicians in our sanitariums. Some physicians are self-sufficient and consider themselves able to guard their own ways; whereas if they but knew themselves, they would feel their great need of help from above, a higher intelligence.
Some medical men are unfit to act as physicians to women because of the attitude they assume toward them. They take liberties until it becomes a common thing with them to transgress the laws of chastity. Our physicians should have the highest regard for the direction given by God to His church when they were delivered from Egypt. This will keep them from becoming loose in manners and careless in regard to the laws of chastity. All who live by the laws given by God from Sinai may be safely trusted.
It is not in harmony with the instructions given at Sinai that gentlemen physicians should do the work of midwives. The Bible speaks of women at childbirth being attended by women, and thus it ought always to be. Women should be educated and trained to act skillfully as midwives and physicians to their sex. It is just as important that a line of study be given to educate women to deal with women's diseases, as it is that there should be gentlemen thoroughly trained to act as physicians and surgeons. And the wages of the woman should be proportionate to her services. She should be as much appreciated in her work as the gentleman physician is appreciated in his work.
Let us educate ladies to become intelligent in the work of treating the diseases of their sex. They will sometimes need the counsel and assistance of experienced gentlemen physicians. When brought into trying places let all be led by supreme wisdom. Let all bear in mind that they need and may have the wisdom of the Great Physician in their work.
We ought to have a school where women can be educated by women physicians, to do the best possible work in treating the diseases of women.
Among us as a people, the medical work should stand at its highest. Physicians should bear in mind that it is their work to fit souls as well as bodies for heavenly lives. Their service for God is to be uncorrupted by evil practices.
Every practitioner should study carefully the word of God. Read the story of the sons of Aaron in the tenth chapter of Leviticus, verses 1-11. Here was a case where the use of wine benumbed the senses. The Lord demands that the appetite and all the habits of life of the physician be kept under strict control. While dealing with the bodies of their patients, they are to constantly remember that the eye of God is upon their work.
The most exalted part of the physician's work is to lead the men and women under his care to see that the cause of disease is the violation of the laws of health and to encourage them to higher and holier views of life. Instruction should be given that will provide an antidote for the diseases of the soul as well as for the sickness of the body. Only that sanitarium will be a healthful institution where right principles are established. The physician who, knowing the remedy for the diseases of the soul and body, neglects the educational part of his work, will have to give an account of his neglect in the day of judgment. Strict purity of language and every word and action is to be guarded.
It is a dangerous age for any man who has talents which can be of value in the work of God; for Satan is constantly plying his temptations upon such a person, ever trying to fill him with pride and ambition; and when God would use him, in nine cases out of ten he becomes independent, self-sufficient, and feels capable of standing alone. This will be your danger, Dr. ----, unless you live a life of constant faith and prayer. You may have a deep and abiding sense of eternal things and that love for humanity which Christ has shown in His life. A close connection with Heaven will give the right tone to your fidelity and will be the ground of your success. Your feeling of dependence will drive you to prayer and your sense of duty summon you to effort. Prayer and effort, effort and prayer, will be the business of your life. You must pray as though the efficiency and praise were all due to God, and labor as though duty were all your own. If you want power you may have it, as it is awaiting your draft upon it. Only believe in God, take Him at His word, act by faith, and blessings will come.
In this matter, genius, logic, and eloquence will not avail. Those who have a humble, trusting, contrite heart, God accepts and hears their prayer; and when God helps, all obstacles will be overcome. How many men of great natural abilities and high scholarship have failed when placed in positions of responsibility, while those of feebler intellect, with less favorable surroundings, have been wonderfully successful. The secret was, the former trusted to themselves, while the latter united with Him who is wonderful in counsel and mighty in working to accomplish what He will.
Your work being always urgent, it is difficult for you to secure time for meditation and prayer; but this you must not fail to do. The blessing of Heaven, obtained by daily supplication, will be as the bread of life to your soul and will cause you to increase in spiritual and moral strength, like a tree planted by the river of waters, whose leaf will be always green, and whose fruit will appear in due time.
Your neglect to attend the public worship of God is a serious error. The privileges of divine service will be as beneficial to you as to others and are fully as essential. You may be unable to avail yourself of these privileges as often as do many others. You will frequently be called, upon the Sabbath, to visit the sick, and may be obliged to make it a day of exhausting labor. Such labor to relieve the suffering was pronounced by our Saviour a work of mercy and no violation of the Sabbath. But when you regularly devote your Sabbaths to writing or labor, making no special change, you harm your own soul, give to others an example that is not worthy of imitation, and do not honor God.
You have failed to see the real importance, not only of attending religious meetings, but also of bearing testimony for Christ and the truth. If you do not obtain spiritual strength by the faithful performance of every Christian duty, thus coming into a closer and more sacred relation to your Redeemer, you will become weak in moral power.
God would have all who profess to be gospel medical missionaries learn diligently the lessons of the Great Teacher. This they must do if they would find peace and rest. Learning of Christ, their hearts will be filled with the peace that He alone can give.
The one book that is essential for all to study is the Bible. Studied with reverence and godly fear, it is the greatest of all educators. In it there is no sophistry. Its pages are filled with truth. Would you gain a knowledge of God and Christ, whom He sent into the world to live and die for sinners? An earnest, diligent study of the Bible is necessary in order to gain this knowledge.
Many of the books piled up in the great libraries of earth confuse the mind more than they aid the understanding. Yet men spend large sums of money in the purchase of such books and years in their study, when they have within their reach a Book containing the words of Him who is the Alpha and Omega of wisdom. The time spent in a study of these books might better be spent in gaining a knowledge of Him whom to know aright is life eternal. Those only who gain this knowledge will at last hear the words, "Ye are complete in Him." Colossians 2:10.
Study the Bible more and the theories of the medical fraternity less, and you will have greater spiritual health. Your mind will be clearer and more vigorous. Much that is embraced in a medical course is positively unnecessary. Those who take a medical training spend a great deal of time in learning that which is worthless. Many of the theories that they learn may be compared in value to the traditions and maxims taught by the scribes and Pharisees. Many of the intricacies with which they have to become familiar are an injury to their minds.
These things God has been opening before me for many years. In our medical schools and institutions we need men who have a deeper knowledge of the Scriptures, men who have learned the lessons taught in the word of God, and who can teach these lessons to others, clearly and simply, just as Christ taught His disciples the knowledge that He deemed most essential.
If our medical missionary workers would follow the Great Physician's prescription for obtaining rest, a healing current of peace would flow through their souls. Here is the prescription: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30.
When our medical missionary workers follow this prescription, gaining from the Saviour power to reveal His characteristics, their scientific work will have greater soundness. Because the word of God has been neglected, strange things have been done in the medical missionary work of late. The Lord cannot accept the present showing.
Study the word, which God in His wisdom and love and goodness has made so plain and simple. The sixth chapter of John tells us what is meant by a study of the word. The principles revealed in the Scriptures are to be brought home to the soul. We are to eat the word of God; that is, we are not to depart from its precepts. We are to bring its truths into our daily lives, grasping the mysteries of godliness.
Pray to God. Commune with Him. Prove the very mind of God, as those who are striving for eternal life, and who must have a knowledge of His will. You can reveal the truth only as you know it in Christ. You are to receive and assimilate His words; they are to become part of yourselves. This is what is meant by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God. You are to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God; that is, what God has revealed. Not all has been revealed; we could not bear such a revelation. But God has revealed all that is necessary for our salvation. We are not to leave His word for the suppositions of men.
Obtain an experimental knowledge of God by wearing the yoke of Christ. He gives wisdom to the meek and lowly, enabling them to judge of what is truth, bringing to light the why and wherefore, pointing out the result of certain actions. The Holy Spirit teaches the student of the Scriptures to judge all things by the standard of righteousness and truth and justice. The divine revelation supplies him with the knowledge that he needs.
And the needed knowledge will be given to all who come to Christ, receiving and practicing His teachings, making His words a part of their lives. Those who place themselves under the instruction of the great Medical Missionary, to be workers together with Him, will have a knowledge that the world, with all its traditionary lore, cannot supply.
Make the Bible the man of your counsel. Your acquaintance with it will grow rapidly if you keep your mind free from the rubbish of the world. The more the Bible is studied, the deeper will be your knowledge of God. The truths of His word will be written in your soul, making an ineffaceable impression.
Not only will the student himself be benefited by a study of the word of God. His study is life and salvation to all with whom he associates. He will feel a sacred responsibility to impart the knowledge that he receives. His life will reveal the help and strength that he receives from communion with the word. The sanctification of the Spirit will be seen in thought, word, and deed. All that he says and does will proclaim that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Of such ones the Lord Jesus can indeed say, "Ye are laborers together with God."
I was shown that physicians and helpers should be of the highest order, those who have an experimental knowledge of the truth, who will command respect, and whose word can be relied on. They should be persons who have not a diseased imagination, persons who have perfect self-control, who are not fitful or changeable, who are free from jealousy and evil surmising; persons who have a power of will that will not yield to slight indispositions, who are unprejudiced, who will think no evil, who think and move calmly, considerately, having the glory of God and the good of others ever before them. Never should one be exalted to a responsible position merely because he desires it. Those only should be chosen who are qualified for the position. Those who are to bear responsibilities should first be proved and given evidence that they are free from jealousy, that they will not take a dislike to this or that one, while they have a few favored friends and take no notice of others. God grant that all may move just right in that institution.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 567 (1867).
In the matter of praying for the sick . . . I have been considering many things that have been presented to me in the past in reference to this subject.
Suppose that twenty men and women should present themselves as subjects for prayer at some of our camp meetings, this would not be unlikely, for those who are suffering will do anything in their power to obtain relief and to regain strength and health. Of these twenty, few have regarded the light on the subject of purity and health reform. They have neglected to practice right principles in eating and drinking and in taking care of their bodies, and some of those who are married have formed gross habits and indulged in unholy practice, while of those who are unmarried, some have been reckless of health and life, since in clear rays the light has shone upon them; but they have not had respect unto the light, nor have they walked circumspectly. Yet they solicit the prayers of God's people and call for the elders of the church.
Should they regain the blessing of health, many of them would pursue the same course of heedless transgression of nature's laws unless enlightened and thoroughly transformed. . . .
Sin has brought many of them where they are--to a state of feebleness of mind and debility of body. Shall prayer be offered to the God of heaven for His healing to come upon them then and there, without specifying any conditions? I say, No, decidedly no. What, then, shall be done? Present their cases before Him who knows every individual by name.
Present these thoughts to the persons who come asking for your prayers: We are human; we cannot read the heart or know the secrets of your life. These are known only to yourself and God. If you now repent of your sin, if any of you can see that in any instance you have walked contrary to the light given you of God and have neglected to give honor to the body, the temple of God, but by wrong habits have degraded the body which is Christ's property, make confession of these things to God. Unless you are wrought upon by the Holy Spirit in special manner to confess your sins of private nature to man, do not breathe them to any soul.
Christ is your Redeemer; He will take no advantage of your humiliating confessions. If you have sin of a private character, confess it to Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1. If you have sinned by withholding from God His own in tithes and offerings, confess your guilt to God and to the church, and heed the injunction that He has given you: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse." Malachi 3:10. . . .
Praying for the sick is a most solemn thing, and we should not enter into this work in any careless, hasty way. Examination should be made as to whether those who would be blessed with health have indulged in evilspeaking, alienation, and dissension. Have they sowed discord among the brethren and sisters of the church? If these things have been committed they should be confessed before God and the church. When wrongs have been confessed the subjects for prayer may be presented before God in earnestness and faith, as the Spirit of God may move upon you.
But it is not always safe to ask for unconditional healing. Let your prayer include this thought: "Lord, Thou knowest every secret of the soul. Thou art acquainted with these persons; for Jesus, their advocate, gave His life for them. He loves them better than we possibly can. If, therefore, it is for Thy glory and the good of these afflicted ones to raise them up to health, we ask Thee in the name of Jesus, that health may be given them at this time." In a petition of this kind, no lack of faith is manifested.
The Lord "doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men." Lamentations 3:33. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." Psalm 103:13, 14. He knows our heart, for He reads every secret of the soul. He knows whether or not those for whom petitions are offered would be able to endure the trial and test that would come upon them if they lived. He knows the end from the beginning. Many will be laid away to sleep before the fiery ordeal of the time of trouble shall come upon our world. This is another reason why we should say after our earnest petition; "Nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done." Luke 22:42. Such a petition will never be registered in heaven as a faithless prayer.
The apostle was bidden to write, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." Revelation 14:13. From this we can see that all are not to be raised up; and if they are not raised to health they should not be judged as unworthy of eternal life. If Jesus, the world's Redeemer, prayed, "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup from Me," and added, "nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39), how very appropriate it is for finite mortals to make the same surrender to the wisdom and will of God.
In praying for the sick, we are to pray that, if it is God's will, they may be raised to health; but if not, that He will give them His grace to comfort, His presence to sustain them in their suffering.
Many who should set their house in order neglect to do it when they have hope that they will be raised to health in answer to prayer. Buoyed up by a false hope, they do not feel the need of giving words of exhortation and counsel to their children, parents, or friends, and it is a great misfortune. Accepting the assurance that they would be healed when prayed for, they dare not make a reference as to how their property shall be disposed of, how their family is to be cared for, or express any wish concerning matters of which they would speak if they thought they would be removed by death. In this way disasters are brought upon the family and friends, for many things that should be understood are left unmentioned because they fear expression on these points would be denial of their faith. Believing they will be raised to health by prayer, they fail to use hygienic measures which are within their power to use, fearing it would be a denial of their faith.
I thank the Lord that it is our privilege to co-operate with Him in the work of restoration, availing ourselves of all the possible advantages in the recovery of health. It is no denial of our faith to place ourselves in the condition most favorable for recovery.
In such cases of affliction, where Satan has control of the mind, before engaging in prayer there should be the closest self-examination to discover if there are not sins which need to be repented of, confessed, and forsaken. Deep humility of soul before God is necessary, and firm, humble reliance upon the merits of the blood of Christ alone. Fasting and prayer will accomplish nothing while the heart is estranged from God by a wrong course of action. Read Isaiah 58:6, 7, 9-11.
It is heart work that the Lord requires, good works springing from a heart filled with love. All should carefully and prayerfully . . . investigate their motives and actions. The promise of God to us is on condition of obedience, compliance with all His requirements. Read Isaiah 58:1-3....
I was shown that in case of sickness, where the way is clear for the offering up of prayer for the sick, the case should be committed to the Lord in calm faith, not with a storm of excitement. He alone is acquainted with the past life of the individual and knows what his future will be. He who is acquainted with the hearts of all men knows whether the person, if raised up, would glorify His name or dishonor Him by backsliding and apostasy. All that we are required to do is to ask God to raise the sick up if in accordance with His will, believing that He hears the reasons which we present and the fervent prayers offered. If the Lord sees it will best honor Him, He will answer our prayers. But to urge recovery without submission to His will is not right.
What God promises He is able at any time to perform, and the work which He gives His people to do He is able to accomplish by them. If they will live according to every word He has spoken, every good word and promise will be fulfilled unto them. But if they come short of perfect obedience, the great and precious promises are afar off and they cannot reach the fulfillment.
All that can be done in praying for the sick is to earnestly importune God in their behalf, and in perfect confidence rest the matter in His hands. If we regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord will not hear us. He can do what He will with His own. He will glorify Himself by working in and through them who wholly follow Him so that it shall be known that it is the Lord, and that their works are wrought in God.
Said Christ, "If any man serve Me, him will My Father honor." When we come to Him we should pray that we might enter into and accomplish His purpose, and that our desires and interests might be lost in His. We should acknowledge our acceptance of His will, not praying Him to concede to ours. It is better for us that God does not always answer our prayers just when we desire and in just the manner we wish. He will do more and better for us than to accomplish all our wishes; for our wisdom is folly.
We have united in earnest prayer around the sickbed of men, women, and children, and have felt that they were given back to us from the dead in answer to our earnest prayers. In these prayers we thought we must be positive, and if we exercised faith, that we must ask for nothing less than life. We dared not say, "If it will glorify God," fearing it would admit a semblance of doubt. We have anxiously watched those who have been given back, as it were, from the dead. We have seen some of these, especially youth, raised to health, and they have forgotten God, become dissolute in life, causing sorrow and anguish to parents and friends, and have become a shame to those who feared to pray. They lived not to honor and glorify God, but to curse Him with their lives of vice.
We no longer mark out a way, nor seek to bring the Lord to our wishes. If the life of the sick can glorify Him, we pray that they may live, nevertheless, not as we will but as He will. Our faith can be just as firm, and more reliable, by committing the desire to the all-wise God and, without feverish anxiety, in perfect confidence trusting all to Him. We have the promise. We know that He hears us if we ask according to His will.
Our petitions must not take the form of a command, but of intercession for Him to do the things we desire of Him. When the church are united, they will have strength and power; but when part of them are united to the world and many are given to covetousness, which God abhors, He can do but little for them. Unbelief and sin shut them away from God. We are so weak that we cannot bear much spiritual prosperity, lest we take the glory and accredit goodness and righteousness to ourselves as the reason of the signal blessing of God, when it was all because of the great mercy and loving-kindness of our compassionate heavenly Father and not because any good was found in us.
In praying for the sick, it is essential to have faith; for it is in accordance with the word of God. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16. So we cannot discard praying for the sick, and we should feel very sad if we could not have the privilege of approaching God, to lay before Him all our weaknesses and our infirmities, to tell the compassionate Saviour all about these things, believing that He hears our petitions. Sometimes answers to our prayers come immediately; sometimes we have to wait patiently and continue earnestly to plead for the things that we need, our cases being illustrated by the case of the importunate solicitor for bread. "Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight," etc. This lesson means more than we can imagine. We are to keep on asking, even if we do not realize the immediate response to our prayers. "I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Luke 11:9, 10.
We need grace, we need divine enlightenment, that through the Spirit we may know how to ask for such things as we need. If our petitions are indited by the Lord they will be answered.
There are precious promises in the Scriptures to those who wait upon the Lord. We all desire an immediate answer to our prayers and are tempted to become discouraged if our prayer is not immediately answered. Now, my experience has taught me that this is a great mistake. The delay is for our special benefit. We have a chance to see whether our faith is true and sincere or changeable like the waves of the sea. We must bind ourselves upon the altar with the strong cords of faith and love, and let patience have her perfect work. Faith strengthens through continual exercise. This waiting does not mean that because we ask the Lord to heal there is nothing for us to do. On the contrary, we are to make the very best use of the means which the Lord in His goodness has provided for us in our necessities.
I have seen so much of carrying matters to extremes, in praying for the sick, that I have felt that this part of our experience requires much solid, sanctified thinking, lest we shall make movements that we may call faith, but which are really nothing less than presumption. Persons worn down with affliction need to be counseled wisely, that they may move discretely; and while they place themselves before God to be prayed for that they may be healed, they are not to take the position that methods of restoration to health in accordance with nature's laws are to be neglected.
If they take the position that in praying for healing they must not use the simple remedies provided by God to alleviate pain and to aid nature in her work, lest it be a denial of faith, they are taking an unwise position. This is not a denial of faith; it is in strict harmony with the plans of God. When Hezekiah was sick, the prophet of God brought him the message that he should die. He cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard His servant and worked a miracle in his behalf, sending him a message that fifteen years should be added to his life. Now, one word from God, one touch of the divine finger, would have cured Hezekiah instantly, but special directions were given to take a fig and lay it upon the affected part, and Hezekiah was raised to life. In everything we need to move along the line of God's providence.
The human agent should have faith and should cooperate with the divine power, using every facility, taking advantage of everything that, according to his intelligence, is beneficial, working in harmony with natural laws; and in doing this he neither denies nor hinders faith.
How often those who are in health forget the wonderful mercies that are continued to them day by day, year after year. They render no tribute of praise to God for all His benefits. But when sickness comes, God is remembered. The strong desire for recovery leads to earnest prayer, and this is right. God is our refuge in sickness as in health. But many do not leave their cases with Him; they encourage weakness and disease by worrying about themselves. If they would cease repining and rise above depression and gloom, their recovery would be more sure. They should remember with gratitude how long they enjoyed the blessing of health; and should this precious boon be restored to them, they should not forget that they are under renewed obligations to their Creator. When the ten lepers were healed, only one returned to find Jesus and give Him glory. Let us not be like the unthinking nine whose hearts were untouched by the mercy of God. --Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 315 (1885).
I have been shown that the physicians should come into a closer connection with God and stand and work earnestly in His strength. They have a responsible part to act. Not only the lives of the patients, but their souls also, are at stake. Many who are benefited physically, may, at the same time, be greatly helped spiritually. Both the health of the body and the salvation of the soul are in a great degree dependent upon the course of the physicians. It is of the utmost consequence that they are right, that they have not only scientific knowledge, but the knowledge of God's will and ways. Great responsibilities rest upon them.
My brethren, you should see and feel your responsibility, and, in view of it, humble your souls before God and plead with Him for wisdom. You have not realized how much the salvation of the souls of those whose bodies you are seeking to relieve from suffering, depends upon your words, your actions and deportment. You are doing work which must bear the test of the judgment. You must guard your own souls from the sins of selfishness, self-sufficiency, and self-confidence.
You should preserve a true Christian dignity, but avoid all affection. Be strictly honest in heart and life. Let faith, like the palm tree, strike its penetrating roots beneath the things which do appear, and obtain spiritual refreshment from the living springs of God's grace and mercy. There is a well of water which springeth up into everlasting life. You must draw your life from this hidden spring. If you divest yourselves of selfishness and strengthen your souls by constant communion with God, you may promote the happiness of all with whom you come in contact. You will notice the neglected, inform the ignorant, encourage the oppressed and desponding, and, as far as possible, relieve the suffering. And you will not only point the way to heaven, but will walk in that way yourselves.
Be not satisfied with superficial knowledge. Be not elated by flattery nor depressed by faultfinding. Satan will tempt you to pursue such a course that you may be admired and flattered; but you should turn away from his devices. You are servants of the living God.
Your intercourse with the sick is an exhausting process and would gradually dry up the very springs of life if there were no change, no opportunity for recreation, and if angels of God did not guard and protect you. If you could see the many perils through which you are conducted safely every day by these messengers of Heaven, gratitude would spring up in your hearts and find expression from your lips. If you make God your strength, you may, under the most discouraging circumstances, attain a height and breadth of Christian perfection which you hardly think it possible to reach. Your thoughts may be elevated, you may have noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, and purposes of action which shall raise you above all sordid motives.
Both thought and action will be necessary if you would attain to perfection of character. While brought in contact with the world you should be on your guard that you do not seek too ardently for the applause of men and live for their opinion. Walk carefully, if you would walk safely; cultivate the grace of humility and hang your helpless souls upon Christ. You may be, in every sense, men of God. In the midst of confusion and temptation in the worldly crowd you may, with perfect sweetness, keep the independence of the soul.
If you are in daily communion with God, you will learn to place His estimate upon men, and the obligations resting upon you to bless suffering humanity will meet with a willing response. You are not your own; your Lord has sacred claims upon your supreme affections and the very highest services of your life. He has a right to use you in your body and in your spirit, to the fullest extent of your capabilities, for His own honor and glory. Whatever crosses you may be required to bear, whatever labors or sufferings are imposed upon you by His hand, you are to accept without a murmur.
Those for whom you labor are your brethren in distress, suffering from physical disorders and the spiritual leprosy of sin. If you are any better than they, it is to be credited to the cross of Christ. Many are without God and without hope in the world. They are guilty, corrupt, and degraded, enslaved by Satan's devices. Yet these are the ones whom Christ came from heaven to redeem. They are subjects for tenderest pity, sympathy, and tireless effort, for they are on the verge of ruin. They suffer from ungratified desires, disordered passions, and the condemnation of their own consciences; they are miserable in every sense of the word, for they are losing their hold on this life and have no prospect for the life to come.
You have an important field of labor, and you should be active and vigilant, rendering cheerful and unqualified obedience to the Master's calls. Ever bear in mind that your efforts to reform others should be made in the spirit of unwavering kindness. Nothing is ever gained by holding yourselves aloof from those whom you would help. You should keep before the minds of patients the fact that in suggesting reforms of their habits and customs you are presenting before them that which is not to ruin but to save them; that, while yielding up what they have hitherto esteemed and loved, they are to build on a more secure foundation. While reform must be advocated with firmness and resolution, all appearance of bigotry or an overbearing spirit should be carefully shunned. Christ has given us precious lessons of patience, forbearance, and love. Rudeness is not energy; nor is domineering, heroism. The Son of God was persuasive. He was manifested to draw all men unto Him. His followers must study His life more closely and walk in the light of His example, at whatever sacrifice to self. Reform, continual reform, must be kept before the people, and your example should enforce your teachings.
Let it ever be kept before the mind that the great object of hygienic reform is to secure the highest possible development of mind and soul and body. All the laws of nature--which are the laws of God--are designed for our good. Obedience to them will promote our happiness in this life and will aid us in a preparation for the life to come.--Christian Temperance, page 120 (1890).