Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)

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Ms 159, 1899

The Privileges and Duties of a Christian Physician

NP

December 13, 1899 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in 2SM 284; MM 41; CS 66-67; 5MR 133-134. +Note

Honesty, integrity, justice, mercy, love, compassion, and sympathy are embraced in medical missionary work. In this work the religion of the Bible is to be practiced. The Lord does not want any one to work as His representative who follows the wrong customs and practices of worldly physicians in treating suffering humanity. There are those who follow worldly policy in order to accumulate means, as they say, for God’s service. God does not accept such offerings. He says, “I hate robbery for burnt offering. Those who deal unjustly with their fellow men while professing to believe My Word, I will judge for thus misrepresenting Me.” Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary, higher and still higher. Act on the principles opened before us in the Word of God. Let everything be done with justice and equity. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 1

God calls for a doing of practical, Christlike work. Those who have accepted the truth are to practice it because it is the truth. The patients who come to our sanitariums are to see carried out the principles laid down in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. The truth is to be preserved in all its sacred influence in the work of God in our institutions. When the time comes that physicians cannot do this, the Lord would have no more medical institutions established. The medical practitioner should in all places keep his religious principles clear and untarnished. Truth should be paramount in his practice. He is to use his influence as a means of cleansing the soul by the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness. If Christ abides in his heart, his thoughts will ever be directed to the great Healer of soul and body. He will lead the minds of sufferers to Him who can restore, who when here 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.] 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 2

Every opportunity of working as Christ worked is to 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.] But we lose the most precious opportunities by neglecting to speak a word in season. Too often a precious talent which ought to produce a thousandfold is left unused. If the golden privilege is not watched for, it will pass; something stood in the way of that physician doing his appointed work as a minister of righteousness. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 3

The physician can accomplish a noble work if he is connected with the great Physician of soul and body. To the relatives of the sick, whose hearts are full of sympathy for the sufferer, the physician may find opportunity to speak the words of life. He need not mention his religious beliefs, but he can soothe and uplift the mind of the sufferer, leading him to look to the One who can save to the uttermost all who come to Him for salvation. Thus he is sowing seed which will spring up and bear fruit unto holiness. On the sickbed Christ is often acknowledged 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 make the impression on minds, watering the seed sown, and causing it to bring forth fruit unto eternal life. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 4

On the sickbed secrets are sometimes disclosed which should be sacredly held by those to whom they are told. They should not be repeated unless it is positively necessary. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 5

Let me tell you, as one who loves and fears God, that only those physicians who are genuine Bible Christians can discharge aright the high duties of their profession. The physician who understands the responsibilities and accountabilities of his position will feel the necessity of Christ’s presence with him in his work for those for whom such a sacrifice was made. He will subordinate everything tot he higher interests, which concern the life that may be saved unto life eternal, to live forever with the Lord where there is no sin, no suffering, no pain, no death. He will do all in his power to save the body and the soul. He will try to do the very work 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 of the tree of life. He will try to break the bread of life to the sufferer. Notwithstanding the obstacles and difficulties which may crowd in, this is the solemn, sacred work of the medical missionary. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 6

True missionary work is that work 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. Never are physicians to neglect to direct the minds of their patients to Christ, the great Physician of soul and body. That which physicians only attempt to do, Christ accomplishes. The human agent strives to prolong life. Christ is life itself. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 7

He who passed through death to destroy him who had the power of death, is the Source of all vitality, all life. There is balm in Gilead, there is a physician there. Christ endured a most 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 lain down heard His words with triumphant joy as He stood above the rent sepulcher of Joseph, proclaiming, “I am the resurrection and the life.” [John 11:25.] 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 8

The question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” has been answered. [Job 14:14.] By bearing the penalty of sin, by going down into the grave, Christ has brightened the tomb for all who die in the triumph of 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. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 9

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 saviour of the 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. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 10

The physician who is truly converted will not gather to himself responsibilities which interfere with his work for souls. It is a mistake to lay upon the Christian physician, whom God has appointed to represent Him in his own way, so many responsibilities that he has no time to commune with God by reading His Word and by prayer. Christ declares, “Without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] How then can a medical missionary engage successfully in his important work without earnestly seeking the Lord in prayer? Prayer and a study of the Word brings life and health to the believing worker. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 11

The surgeon most truly successful is he who loves God, who sees God in His created work, and worships Him as he traces His wise arrangement in the human machinery. The most successful physician is he who fears God from his youth, as did Timothy, who feels that Christ is his constant companion, a friend with whom he can always commune. Such a physician would not change his position for the highest office the world could give. He is not anxious to secure the patronage of worldlings or churchmen. He who depends on men for strength and influence leans on a broken reed and dishonors God. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 12

Depending on men has been the great weakness of the church. Men have dishonored God by failing to appreciate His sufficiency, by coveting the influence of men. Thus Israel became weak. The people wanted to be like the other nations of the world, and they asked for a king. They desired to be guided by human power which they could see rather than by the divine Theocracy, the invisible power which till then had led and guided them, and given them victory in battle. They made their own choice, and the result was seen in the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the nation. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 13

The men connected with the institutions of God’s appointment are to be careful to acknowledge God in all their ways. They are to show that they owe to Him their intellect and all their capabilities. As did Abraham, they are to pay tithe of all they possess and all they receive. A faithful tithe is the Lord’s portion. To withhold it is to rob God. Every man should freely and willingly and gladly bring tithes and offering into the storehouse of the Lord, because in so doing there is a blessing. There is no safety in withholding from God His own portion. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 14

Again, let no man, because he is physician, feel at liberty to do those things which God has said he should not do. He should not travel on the Sabbath because he is a physician unless to relieve suffering humanity. He should plan his work so as to meet God’s requirements and obey the truth. God says, “Verily, my sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations.” [Exodus 31:13.] When there is real suffering to be alleviated, the Sabbath is not desecrated by physicians travelling upon it; but unimportant cases should be deferred till after the Sabbath. God sanctified and blessed the seventh day, and it is to be kept as His sacred memorial. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 15

God created the world in six days, and rested upon the seventh. “Wherefore,” He declared, “the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant.” [Verse 16.] We have established sanitariums because He would not be mingled with those who, though they have had the light, are not willing to come out from the world and let all know that they are Seventh-day Adventists. Those who keep God’s commandments may claim the promises contained in Exodus 31:12-18. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 16

The instruction given in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah is full and full and decided. Those who refrain from labor on the Sabbath may claim every comfort and consolation. Shall we not believe God? Shall we not call holy the day which He calls holy? Man is not to be ashamed to own as sacred that which God calls sacred. He is not to be ashamed to do what God has told him to do. Obedience will bring him a knowledge of what constitutes true sanctification. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 17

There is to be no robbery of God in tithes and offerings, no desecration of God’s holy time. Man is not to do his own pleasure on God’s day. He has six days in which he may work at his secular business, and God claims the seventh as His own. “In it,” He says, “thou shalt not do any work.” [Exodus 20:10.] The servant of God will call sacred that which the Lord calls sacred. Thus he will show that he has chosen the Lord as his leader. The Sabbath was made in Eden, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. God has placed it in our charge. Let us keep it pure and holy. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 18

Subtle, dangerous temptations will come to the physician who believes the truth for these last days. That which would be condemned in a worker of another class is supposed to be admissible for a physician. Thus a multitude of sins are covered up, sins which are registered in the books of heaven as a departure from Bible principles. These temptations the physician may overcome if he understands his peril, and stands fast by his Saviour. If true to the gospel of Christ, we stand under the shield of Omnipotence. We are on the side of Christ, on the side of the loyal, holy angels. Of whom, then, should we be afraid? 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 19

The Lord requires truth in the inward parts. He will give the Holy Spirit to all who ask Him in faith. God calls for men to act as gospel ministers, for men to act as physicians, whom no flattery can cause to swerve from the truth. Ministers and doctors are to be under the rule of God. Familiarity with sickness and death will never harden the heart of the Christian physician, never cause him to become less susceptible to the suffering of humanity. He in whose heart the Spirit of God bears rule will follow the example of Christ. The life, the character, will be so Christlike that he will roll back the unjust reproach from the pure truth of Christ. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 20

There are those who cannot appreciate the gospel of Christ sufficiently to practice it in every line of their work. These will criticize. Those who are superficial and selfish do not know God and Jesus Christ by an experimental knowledge, and they are always faithless. In their eyes small obstructions appear as mountains. There is always a lion in the way. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 21

There are none too many godly physicians to minister in their profession. There is much work to be done, and the Lord has specified that medical missionary work should be connected with the gospel ministry as the arms are connected with the body. Neither part of the work is complete without this union. God designs medical missionary work to be bound up with the gospel ministry, joined closely to it, because it is the gospel in illustration. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 22

Ministers and doctors are to work in perfect union. Luke is called the beloved physician, and those who do a work similar to that which he did are living out the gospel. The Lord would have wise, intelligent medical men attend our camp meetings, men who respect the ministry of the Word, who are not victims of unbelief. These men are the guardians of the health of the people, and they are to be recognized and respected. They are to fill a position as teachers of the people, presenting the dangers of intemperance. This evil must be more boldly met than it has been in the past. Ministers and doctors should set forth the evils of intemperance. Both should work in the gospel with power to condemn sin. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 23

As the physician instructs the people in the principles of true temperance, and as a guardian of souls gives advice to those who are sick in mind and body, the medical missionary work, as the right arm of the body, is doing its work. Countless are the opportunities which come to the physician to warn the careless, cheer the disconsolate and hopeless, and wisely prescribe for the health of the suffering. He is to point his patients to the great Physician, who can heal both soul and body. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 24

In our camp meeting practical physicians can give instruction line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. Those ministers or doctors who do not open their lips to make personal appeals to the people are remiss in their duty. They fail to do the work God has appointed them. Ministers and physicians are both to work with earnestness to save the souls who are being bound up in Satan’s snare. They are to speak words which 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 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. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 25

This work belongs just as surely to the doctor as to the minister. The Lord designs that the influence of doctors and ministers shall harmonize. By public and private efforts the physician is to seek to win souls to Christ. 14LtMs, Ms 159, 1899, par. 26