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TO THE REV. H. A. BOARDMAN, D. D.
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, Nov. 26, 1844. REVEREND AND DEAR SIR :
At a meeting of the Medical Class of the University of Pennsylvania, held yesterday afternoon, the undersigned were appointed a Committee to present their grateful acknowledgements for your impressive and eloquent discourse upon - The claims of Religion upon Medical Men,” and to request a copy of it for publication.
We have the honor to be,
Your ob't servants,
WM. J. LEARY, N. C.
JOHN M. LANGHORNE, Va.
ROBERT M. PORTER, Tenn.
DOUGLASS CASE, Ohio.
J. E. TYLER, Mass.
PHILADELPHIA, 26th November, 1844. To the Rev. Mr. Boardman.
REVEREND AND DEAR SIR :—The undersigned, a Committee from the Medical Class of Jefferson Medical College, appointed for the purpose, beg leave respectfully to tender to you the thanks of the students whom we represent, for the able and useful discourse on the religious duties of medical men, delivered on Sunday evening last. We are also directed to ask you to furnish us with a copy of that discourse, that by committing it to the press we may make it more extensively useful.
With sentiments of respect,
We are yours, &c.,
S. G. WHITE, Ga.
JNO. DRAUCHAN, La.
C. C. CAMPBELL, Ga.
D. R. ROACH, Ala.
H. Y. WEBB, Ala.
J. H. LEFEVERE, Pa.
B. C. SNOWDEN, Pa.
A. H. HOFF, New York.
PHILADELPHIA, November 26th, 1844.
To the Committees of the University and Jefferson Meilical Classes :
GENTLEMEN— Nothing could have been more gratifying to my feelings, than the favor with which the large and intelligent body of Medical Students at present in this city, have received my humble effort to serve them, on Sunday evening. The discourse which you have done me the honor to request for publication, was written amidst the varied and arduous duties incident to the pastoral care of a large congregation; but, as you have been pleased to express the opinion that its circulation, in a printed form, may conduce to the object for which it was prepared, I do not feel at liberty to withhold it. A copy of the discourse is herewith placed at your disposal.
I remain, gentlemen,
Your friend and servant,
H. A. BOARDMAN. PROF. CHAPMAN.
WM. J. LEARY, N. C. Thos. King LEONARD, Fla.
John P. LITTLE, Va. E. DUFFIELD, Md.
JOHN M. LANGHORNE, Va. JAMES MORROW, South Carolina.
J. WARREN ROYER, Pa. MATTHEW P. WALLER, Va.
JAMES E. ROBERTSON, Va. P. P. CLUFF, Mo.
ROBERT M. PORTER, Tenn. J. S. WELLFORD, Va.
DOUGLASS CASE, Ohio. J. W. DULLES, Pa.
J. E. TYLER, Mass. TIMOTHY THORP, Ala.
Committee of the University
Committee of the Jefferson
S. G. WHITE, Ga.
THE CLAIMS OF RELIGION UPON MEDICAL MEN.
COLOSSIANS, 4; 15. LUKE, THE BELOVED PHYSICIAN.
The individual here named in so honorable a manner, is commonly believed to have been the Evangelist Luke, the author of one of the Gospels, and of the Book of Acts. He was the intimate friend and travelling companion of the Apostle Paul, and was evidently held in high estimation among the Christians of that age. It would be foreign from my present purpose to dwell upon the imperfect record we have of his life and labors. The mention of him by the Apostle as a “ Physician," affords me an opportunity of saying (what, indeed, it may be superfluous to state here) that we must be careful, in reading the Bible, not to suffer the force of our modern associations to mislead us as to the precise import of its medical terms. Medicine had no existence under the Hebrew Theocracy, and among the cotemporaneous nations, as a science; and even as an art, it prevailed only in a very rude form. It was the general feeling that diseases were inflicted by a supernatural power, and that the same power must be looked to for the removal of them-an opinion, it may be added, which is still very common in the East. Diseased persons were in the habit of resorting to the priests and prophets, not merely to avail themselves of their medical skill, but to ascertain through them from Jehovah, or the false gods, as the case might be, whether they were to recover or not. This gave rise to "a class of pretenders, who professed, by means of certain secret charms, incantations and powerful rites or applications, to draw down and fix the healing power of the god.” By this means, medicine came to be associated with soothsaying, astrology and witchcraft, and was regarded by many of the devout Jews as an abominable thing. The Rabbins entertained so bad an opinion of "physi-. cians,” that they said “the very best of them deserved hell;" and they advised “faithful Jews not to live in a city where thechief man was a physician." The art remained in this ele- ..
mentary state for ages. The people, in the time of the Saviour, seem to have had but little confidence in their medical guides, and brought their sick to him in great numbers to be healed. Lightfoot, in commenting on the case of the poor woman* who, after spending all that she had upon physicians, to no purpose, stole a blessing from Christ by touching the hem of his garment, states, that the practice of that day was restricted to a series of simple or compound medicines for each disease, which were to be tried successively, as one after another failed. This series, in the disorder with which this woman was afflicted, extended to fourteen changes. All the medicines were to be taken in wine. Each was in turn abandoned, after a short trial. "If the case was found to be stubborn, superstitious practices were resorted to, in order to aid the medicine, and were gradually increased, till at last medicine was altogether relinquished, and the cure sought by other means." This identical system is still in vogue among some of the Oriental nations. In Christian countries, however, medicine has thrown off the superstitions and puerilities with which it was so long deformed and paralyzed, and taken its appropriate place among the sciences. This is neither the time nor the place to detail the steps by which it has vindicated its claim to the elevated position it now occupies. It is more to my purpose to observe that there is no science, theology excepted, which opens a nobler field of inquiry to the human intellect—none which is more intimately associated with our earthly happiness-none which is more entitled to the respect and veneration of society. The benevolent design of medicine is, indeed, its leading characteristic. While a large portion of mankind, even in civilized countries, are employed in avocations which are either destructive to human life, or which aim only at “multiplying the pleasures of the opulent, giving a higher zest to the fruitions of luxury, and gratifying the caprices of vanity and pride,” the physician "interposes in the moment of exigence, and obeys the call of distress; he administers the cordial to the fainting spirit, re-kindles the expiring lamp of hope, and often decks the countenance with smiles, which death, under the ravages of disease, had marked for his victim, and covered with his shade. He leaves it to others to accompany the human race in their revelry and their triumphs;
* Mark 5; 25—34.
while they bask on the bosom of the ocean, or spread their sails to the wind, he presents himself on the shore, and rescues the shipwrecked mariner from the waves. With a silent and invisible energy he contends with the powers of destruction, and often rescues from the grave him that seemed 'appointed to death
A profession charged with so lofty and benign a ministration, and whose responsibilities are of so delicate and weighty a character, demands eminent qualifications, both of the head and heart, on the part of those who would assume its duties. Most of these qualifications, perhaps all, in a greater or less de. gree, are set forth with admirable ability and skill in the daily instructions of our medical schools. There is one, however, which is usually inculcated in the class-room only in an incidental way, and which, on every account, deserves your most candid and serious attention-I mean, PERSONAL RELIGION. The topic, then, I propose to bring before you, in the present discourse, is, THE IMPORTANCE OF PERSONAL RELIGION TO
The theme would better suit a volume than
I shall confine myself to a few hints on the more obvious aspects of the subject.
You will not understand me as meaning by the phrase "personal religion," either a bare intellectual assent to the truths of Christianity, or a rigid conformity to all the peculiarities of any particular denomination of Christians. I use the expression as synonymous with true piety. This consists, in general, in the renewing and sanctifying of the heart by the Holy Spirit, a cordial reliance upon the merits of Jesus Christ as the only ground of acceptance with God, and an habitual desire and aim to lead a holy life, and walk according to the pure morality of the Scriptures.
It is very obvious to remark, as a reason why medical men should give their attention to religion, that they are involved in the common degeneracy and ruin of the ruce, and are, equally with other men, dependent upon Christianity for spiritual life and salvation. The fundamental truths of the Gospel apply to all alike. We are all depraved-helpless-condemned
- lost; and doomed to be lost eternally, except we repent of our sins, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a com
* Robert Hall.