The Medical Missionary, vol. 13

The Medical Missionary, Vol. 13


January 1904

“Address to the Graduating Class of Missionary Nurses” The Medical Missionary, 13, 1, pp. 302-305.



(December 22, 1903.)

IN the little time through the busy affairs of the day that I had in which to think of what would be best to say to you to-night, it occurred to my mind that somewhere in one of Paul’s letters, the nurse had been mentioned, and I took up my Bible to find the place where the nurse is mentioned, and I found that it gives such an excellent description of what the nurse is, what the character of the nurse must be, that I concluded I could do nothing better to begin my address this evening than to read that description, and if any remarks need to be made a little further upon it afterward, then let that follow. And, by the way, this is a description, you will see as I read, of the missionary nurse, the Christian nurse. It is in First Thessalonians, second chapter, fourth verse to the eighth:— MEDM January 1904, page 302.1

“But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.” MEDM January 1904, page 302.2

All that they were not; this is what they were: “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse.” MEDM January 1904, page 302.3

There is what the nurse is not, and there is what the nurse it; what the nurse does not do, and, with the following words, what the nurse does do; what the nurse is not in the world for, and what the nurse is in the world for. Let me read again: MEDM January 1904, page 302.4

“For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children; so”—even as a nurse—“being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.” MEDM January 1904, page 16.1

That shows the care, the affectionate air, the devotion, that characterise the nurse—such devotion as stops not for life; such devotion as will wear out the life and given even the life itself for others, helping them in the way, and working that they may be benefited. I know of no profession, apart from that of the physician, that calls for such absolute devotion of the whole being, all the time, as does the profession of the nurse. The profession of the physician requires such devotion as that the call of need, the call of humanity, the call of the wick, the call of the suffering, takes precedence of everything else; and it can never be refused for any reason short of absolute inability to go. The physician who is called at night, or at all hours of the night, must go if he is at all able to go. So with the nurse; no nurse can any more refuse the call of sickness or suffering than can the physician. And the profession of the nurse, as the profession of the physician, calls for just such devotion as that, when the profession is taken up. MEDM January 1904, page 16.2

And now that these persons have taken the profession of the nurse, have finished the course that prepares you to be nurses, now is the time that you have to put yourselves, and are putting yourselves, on record before the public that you in taking that profession have devoted yourselves absolutely to the calls of the suffering and the needy. You never can refuse a call to go, when it is possible for you to go. To do so would be unfaithfulness to the extent of treason to the profession to which you have given yourselves. And this being so of the nurse, whatever his standing may be as a Christian, that is the call that is made upon the person who takes upon himself the profession of the nurse. MEDM January 1904, page 16.3

But who can fulfil that call of devotion that devolves upon the profession of the nurse, but the Christian? As I read here, the very symbol, the very chief characteristic that is given to the nurse, is gentleness. Oh, how gently must the hand be moved; how gently must every motion be made in the sick room. As one dying of consumption, who had called me to visit and to pray with her in the long period of suffering, in her last talk said: “Oh, I would like to recover from this sickness; I would like to be made well; for if I could I would give myself to be a nurse. I should know so well just how to do. I should know just where to put my hand. I should know so well just how to lift a person in my condition, for instance. It seems to me I could do it so well, since knowing where the aches are and where the tired place is, and I could put my hand there and soothe it.” MEDM January 1904, page 16.4

Now that was the right conception of the place of the nurse. It has been an illustration to me ever since, of just what is the nurse’s work. And, as I say, when I read here, the very symbol of the nurse, and the only fit phrase that the Bible could use is “gentle among you even as a nurse” is gentle and cherishes, gently touches, kindly smoothes and soothes the brow, moves about gently, kindly, with all Christian spirit—who can be so true a nurse as the Christian who is connected with the very Fountain of gentleness, the very chief, yes, the One of whom it is written that He “loved the church and gave Himself for it, and nourisheth it and cherisheth it” in the same way. MEDM January 1904, page 16.5

You may have almighty power at your disposal, at your call, to assist you, to aid you, to carry you through, in your devotion to the needs of humanity. And so I can ask no better thing for you than this which I read:— MEDM January 1904, page 16.6

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ... that he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the length, and breadth, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Never for a moment forget that this is your gift; this is the wish of God for each one of you, that you may be equipped, made strong, and supplied always and in every crisis with that which will carry you through without failing, and to make you efficient, thorough helpers all the time and in every time of need. MEDM January 1904, page 16.7