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Thank God, we can say that, and more; and we will say it. But we must bear in mind, that the Gospels, which are the very parts of Scripture which speak most concerning disease, omit almost entirely that cheering and comforting view of it.
And why? Only to force upon our attention, I believe, a view even more cheering and comforting: a view deeper and wider, because supplied not merely to the pious sufferer, but to all sufferers ; not merely to the Christian, but to all mankind. And that is, I believe, none other than this : that God does not only bring spiritual good out of physical evil, but that he hates physical evil itself: that he desires not only the salvation of our souls, but the health of our bodies; and that when he sent his only begotten Son into the world to do his will, part of that will was, that he should attack and conquer the physical evil of disease-as it were instinctively, as his natural enemy, and directly, for the sake of the body of the sufferer.
Many excellent men, seeing how the healing of disease was an integral part of our Lord's mission, and of the mission of his apostles, have wished that it should likewise form an integral part of the mission of the Church : that the clergy should as much as possible be physicians; the physician, as much as possible, a clergyman. The plan may be useful in exceptional cases—in that, for instance, of the missionary among the heathen,
But experience has decided that in a civilized and Christian country it had better be otherwise : that the great principle of the division of labour should be carried out: that there should be in the land a body of men whose whole mind and time should be devoted to one part only of our Lord's work, the battle with disease and death. And the effect has been not to lower but to raise the medical profession. It has saved the doctor from one great danger
-that of abusing, for the purposes of religious proselytizing, the unlimited confidence reposed in him. It has freed him from many a superstition which enfeebled and confused the physicians of the Middle Ages. It has enabled him to devote his whole intellect to physical science, till he has set his art on a sound and truly scientific foundation. It has enabled him to attack physical evil with a single-hearted energy and devotion which ought to command the respect and admiration of his fellow-countrymen. If all classes did their work half as simply, as bravely, as determinedly, as unselfishly, as the medical men of Great Britain-and, I doubt not, of other countries in Europe—this world would be a far fairer place than it is likely to be for many a year to come. It is good to do one thing, and to do it well. It is good to follow Christ in one thing, and to follow him utterly in that. And the medical man has set his mind to do one thing,—to hate calmly, but with an internecine hatred, disease and death, and to fight against them to the end.
The medical man is complained of at times as being too materialistic—as caring more for the bodies of his patients than for their souls. Do not blame him too hastily. In his exclusive care for the body, he may be witnessing unconsciously, yet mightily, for the soul, for God, for the Bible, for immortality.
Is he not witnessing for God when he shows by his acts that he believes God to be a God of Life, not of death; of health, not of disease ; of order, not of disorder; of joy and strength, not of misery and weakness ?
Is he not witnessing for Christ when, like Christ, he heals all manner of sickness and disease among the people, and attacks physical evil as the natural foe of man and of the Creator of man?
Is he not witnessing for the immortality of the soul when he fights against death as an evil to be postponed at all hazards and by all means, even when its advent is certain ? Surely it is so. How often have we seen the doctor by the dying bed, trying to preserve life, when he knew well that life could not be preserved ! We have been tempted to say to him, “ Let the 'sufferer alone. He is senseless. He is going. · We can do nothing more for his soul ; you can 'do nothing more for his body. Why torment him needlessly for the sake of a few more
' moments of respiration? Let him alone to die
in peace. How have we been tempted to say that. We have not dared to say it; for we saw that the doctor, and not we, was in the right; that in all those little efforts, so wise, so anxious, so tender, so truly chivalrous, to keep the failing breath for a few moments more in the body of one who had no earthly claim upon his care, that doctor was bearing a testimony, unconscious yet most weighty, to that human instinct of which the Bible approves throughout, that death in a human being is an evil, an anomaly, a curse ; against which, though he could not rescue the man from the clutch of his foe, he was bound, in duty and honour, to fight until the last, simply because it was death, and death was the enemy of man.
But if the medical man bears witness for God and spiritual things when he seems exclusively occupied with the body, so does the hospital. Look at those noble buildings which the generosity of our fellow-countrymen have erected in all our great cities. You may find in them, truly, sermons in stones; sermons