Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6 (1889-1890)


Lt 13, 1890

Gibbs, Brother and Sister

Battle Creek, Michigan

October 1, 1890

Previously unpublished. +Note

Doctor and Sister Gibbs,

I appreciate your invitation to come to your place and be at home. I thought for a time I could do this, but circumstances have prevented me. I received your message asking when you could come to visit me, but was so weak, so dangerously sick even, in consequence of feeble action of the heart, that I could not bear one additional tax. On the day when I designed to write to you, a letter was received from W. C. White, stating Mary’s condition. I knew that her symptoms were what might be expected just before her life closed, and I hastened to Healdsburg, then to Oakland. I had overtaxed my strength, and here had another chill, followed by fever; but nevertheless we started on our way to Colorado. I was very weak; for two days of the journey I thought I must be left by the wayside. Although the weather was cool, and everything favorable, I could scarcely breathe. The third day the Lord strengthened me. We entered New Mexico, and I grew a little stronger. This gave me courage, and I completed the journey. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 1

I am grieved to hear of Sister Gibbs’ affliction, and was shocked to learn of the death of your mother, which must have been a severe affliction to you. I had great respect for your mother. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 2

Bro. Gibbs, I am glad to learn that you are prospering. I hope you will not let go where you are, but hold fast. If you put your whole trust in God, He will be your helper, your front-guard, and your rereward. He will not leave you nor forsake you. If you walk humbly before God, you can be a means of great good. You can show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 3

I mean to watch every day, to pray and believe; for I know that the end is near, our battles will soon be over, and if faithful, we shall see the King in His beauty. Home, sweet home! If we can only be overcomers through the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, we shall have all the treasures of heaven; we shall have a place at the right hand of God, and shall praise Him with an immortal tongue. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 4

What do you think of the climate where you are? What are its advantages? and what [are] its drawbacks? According to what I can learn, you have extra advantages. Not only do you have a favorable climate, but you can secure a good location at a reasonable price. If so, do not let go your hold there, but put all your tact and strength and energy into your work, and let nothing divert you from making a success. I believe you will do this if you keep your will on the side of God’s will, if you feel the need of His presence and rely fully upon Him for counsel. I felt sorry to have you leave the Health Retreat, but perhaps it was for the best. I cannot tell. I hope you will succeed where you are. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 5

Dr. Burke’s great success is largely due to his giving attention to his patients. Here I know that you lacked. You have ability, but you allowed other things to take up your mind, when the patients needed your time, your care, your undivided attention. I know that in this you needed to reform. You neglected to speak words of tender sympathy and assurance to suffering ones. You said too little. Comforting words were often needed, but they were left unsaid. Dr. Burke carries into the sick room a heart full of sympathy, and words that are necessary for the patients. You are too reticent. It is in your power to bind the sick to your heart; and if you do not obtain the confidence of your patients, it is because you do not see the great need of tact and ingenuity in ministering to the soul as well as to the body. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 6

You have no right to shut yourself up within yourself and say scarcely anything to patients. You should not keep a patient waiting for your decision in his case. Every case deserves immediate attention in its turn and according to its necessity. It is not right to cause patients suffering of mind by delay. Negligence in this respect has hurt you from the very first of your medical practise. It need not be; it should not be. I have been shown that this defect in your character has caused men and women to curse you in their hearts, and almost to blaspheme God. Now if I thought this could not be corrected, I would not write as I do. It is your duty, as a Christian physician, to educate your manners and your habits for the sick room, and to be cheerful and affable, to show tender sympathy, to converse freely on the subjects essential to your patients who come within the sphere of your practice. You can reach a high standard in your practice. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 7

Do not, I beg of you, lay blame on others. Your mind has pondered over disagreeable matters altogether too much; there are many things that you do not view in a correct light. Now cease to think of the disagreeable things; cease to talk of them; fix your mind on Jesus, your Helper, and work in faith and confidence. Disappoint those who have prophesied that you will fail. By disciplining yourself you can have greater success than you have ever yet had. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 8

While at the Health Retreat you were too reticent in religious exercises. You must bear with me while I present these things before you. You need to educate the soul religiously. You need to pray and believe, to hang your helpless soul on Jesus. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 9

A physician needs to be daily in communion with God, that he may be a constant channel of light to his patients. He should be an imitator of the Lord Jesus Christ. While daily conversant with death, working for those on the verge of the grave, he requires a constant supply of the grace of God, for there is danger that the mind will become indifferent to eternal realities. His only safety is in keeping the Lord ever before him, his mind constantly under the influence of the Spirit of God. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 10

The physician should be governed by a strict sense of propriety in the sick room, and at all times and on all occasions, else he will unguardedly shock sensitive patients, who are pure, modest, and refined. Above all other men filling positions of responsibility and trust, he needs to be connected with God, to be taught constantly by God, else there is danger that, under temptation, he will become coarse and profligate. I speak plainly because I know that it is my duty to do this. He needs pure and undefiled religion, and those who are by his side as assistants should be wise and calm, nurses who fear God. You cannot be too chaste in your words or too modest in your examination of patients. Coarseness or indelicacy in the operating room or by the bedside of the suffering is a sin in the sight of God, and in the minds of patients it will tell with power against the operator. You are safe only when connected with the Source of all power, all purity and elevation of character. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 11

There are coarse and even sensual minds among physicians. God forbid that this should be the character of one who claims to believe sacred truth. The Spirit of God will shield us from all evil, and will give us an appreciation of the reality and importance of spiritual things. The solemn truths which we profess will sanctify the soul if we bring them into the inner sanctuary of the heart. O that every physician would be what God would have him—pure, holy, undefiled, barricaded by the grace of Christ, knowing that Christ is his personal Saviour. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 12

Ever bear in mind, Dr. Gibbs, that the sick room is a place where Christian courtesy, delicacy, and politeness should always be manifested. There should be no approach to commonness. The actions of the physician are making their impressions; the tones of his voice, the expression of his countenance, the words he speaks, are weighed by the patient. Every movement is scrutinized. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 13

If the invalid is relieved from pain, and brought back, as it were, from death to life, he is inclined almost to worship the one who he thinks has saved his life. He seldom thinks that it is God who does this work through the human agents. And now is the opportune moment for Satan to come in and lead the physician to exalt self instead of Christ. You should lead the patient to behold Jesus as the physician of the body as well as of the soul. If the physician has the love of Christ in his own heart, he will use his influence to set the mighty Healer before the afflicted one. He can direct the thoughts, the praise and gratitude to the Source of all mercy and power and goodness. If he fails to do this, he is neglecting the most precious opportunities. O, what a chance for the Christian physician to exercise his talents to the glory of God, and thus put them out to the exchangers to be reproduced, and send back to heaven a flood of light in praise and thanksgiving to God for His mercy and His love. O, what opportunities to drop in the heart the seed which will bear fruit unto holiness. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 14

He who loves God supremely, with all the heart, with all the soul, mind, might and strength, will love his neighbor as himself, and will strive for his highest good. He will not lose an opportunity of setting the Lord before the afflicted one. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 15

There are false ideas of consistency and etiquette which lead to neglect of sacred duties. Worldly etiquette, which stands in the way of saving men’s souls and of seeking to do them good, is to be discarded. It should be our constant study to learn how the example of Christ may be best copied and the Saviour’s glory best promoted. Connection with God is everything. What physicians aim to do, Christ accomplished in the fullest sense. The physician labors with zeal to prolong life. Who gives him his reason and intelligence? He who is the truth and life itself. He applies the Balm of Gilead. He is the great restorer. He is the One who repeatedly vanquished death. He is the Giver of life. He is the one who grants eternal life—God over all. If the physician has learned in the school of Christ, he will, while ministering to the diseased bodies, watch for the souls as one who must give an account. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 16

Christian physicians need to pray, to watch unto prayer. Before them is opened a door to many temptations, and they need to be awakened to a lively sense that there is a Watcher by their side assuredly as there was a Watcher in that sacrilegious feast of Belshazzar, when men praised the gods of silver and gold, and drank from the sacred vessels of the temple of God. When men take honor to themselves, God is dishonored. Whenever one by any action leads men to be forgetful of God, the unseen Watcher testifies as in the writing on the wall of the palace, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” [Daniel 5:27.] 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 17

Dr. John Cheyne, while rising to a high point in his profession, did not forget his obligations to God. He once wrote to a friend, “You may wish to know the condition of my mind. I am humbled to the dust by the thought that there is not one action of my busy life which will bear the eye of a holy God. But when I reflect on the invitation of the Redeemer, ‘Come unto me,’ and that I have accepted this invitation, and, moreover, that my conscience testifies that I earnestly desire to have my will in all things conformed to the will of God, I have peace, I have the promised rest,—[the rest] promised by Him in whom was found no guile.” 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 18

This man was an eminent physician. Before his death he ordered a column to be erected near the spot where his body was to lie, on which were to be inscribed these texts, as voices from eternity: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have eternal life.” [John 3:16.] “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11:28.] “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” [Hebrews 12:14.] 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 19

And while Dr. Cheyne thus strove, even from the tomb, to beckon sinners to the Saviour and to glory, he concealed his own name, withholding it from the column entirely. He was not less careful, however, to say, as speaking to the passer-by, “The name and profession and age of him whose body lies beneath are of little consequence, but it may be of great importance to you to know that by the grace of God he was brought to look to the Lord Jesus as the only Saviour of sinners, and that this looking unto Jesus gave peace to his soul.” “Pray to God, pray to God,” it says, “that you may be instructed in the gospel; and be assured that God will give the Holy Spirit, the only teacher of true wisdom, to them that ask him.” This memorial was to turn the attention of all to God, and cause them to lose sight of the man. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 20

This man brought no reproach upon the cause of Christ. I tell you, dear brother, in Christ we may do all things. “Without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] It is a consolation to remember that there have been physicians who were consecrated to God, who were led and taught by God; and there may be such in this age,—physicians who do not exalt self, but who walk and work with an eye single to the glory of God, true to principle, true to duty, <ever looking unto Jesus for His light.> When we shall have finished our work here, let it be with joy, and not with grief, that we meet our life record. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 21

Dr. Gibbs, may the Lord bless you, is my earnest prayer. Be of good courage, faint not, but be strong in the Lord, yea, be strong. The Lord will open the way before you if you will keep His way and walk humbly before Him. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” [James 4:8.] 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 22

One writer has said: “In ancient times it was proverbially true or alleged, that wherever there were three physicians, there were two atheists; that is, the majority of that profession were then deemed atheist or atheistic. How changed now!” 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 23

“William Hay, a surgeon of eminence, is described as one of those who fear God in youth, who walk with him through life, and to whom the hoary head is therefore a crown of glory. Arrested by the words, ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature’ [2 Corinthians 5:17], and affected by the love of God in the Saviour, he devoted himself to that which God puts first in the soul. The holy duties and pleasures of the Sabbath rest were zealously cultivated by Hay: in short, he escaped from the dangers of his profession because he was afraid of them, and adopted the divine means of safety. His support and comfort were found in believing views of the atonement made by Jesus; and resting therein he was blessed and made a blessing. As we examine the records of the past, physician after physician rises up before us qualified to minister to the soul as well as the body, and some of them actually doing so. Driven by the perils of their profession, they sought the wisdom of ‘God only wise,’ and were guided by His Spirit in the path whose end is glory.” 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 24

The Christian physician is a minister after the highest order. He is a missionary. He is where he can exert an influence for the Master. Those who through their skill and faithful, earnest effort, by wisdom from God, can relieve bodily pain, place themselves in such a relation to their patients that they can point them to the Soul-Healer, who can say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” [Matthew 9:2.] The God-fearing, God-loving physician longs to reveal Jesus to the sin-sick soul, and tell him how free, how complete, is the provision made by the sin-pardoning Redeemer. “His tender mercies are over all his works” [Psalm 145:9]; but for humanity more ample provision is made, and the promise is full which points to Jesus as the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. What can make a heart so light, what can spread so much sunshine through the soul, as the sense of sin forgiven? The peace of Christ is health and peace. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 25

Then let the physician realize his accountabilility, and improve his opportunities to reveal Christ as a forgiving Saviour. Let him have a high esteem for souls, and do all in his power to win them to the truth. May the Lord put His Spirit upon the physician, and help him to work intelligently for the Master, because he loves Jesus, and all the souls for whom Christ has died. 6LtMs, Lt 13, 1890, par. 26