Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 4b, 1885

Words of Counsel to Young Physicians


July 27, 1895

This manuscript is drawn largely from Ms 4a, 1885. +Note

We are in need of physicians, but the plan of sending young men <away from our institutions> to a medical college to obtain a knowledge of how to treat the sick is a questionable one. It is similar to that of sending our children to the schools of the world for an education, where they will come in contact with every class of minds, and have the companionship of skeptics, infidels, and profligates, and where <few> escape contamination. They do not come forth uncorrupted as did Joseph and Daniel, because they have not purposed in their hearts to remain undefiled by the habits and customs to which they are exposed. They have not put their will on the side of the Lord’s will, to stand firm as a rock to principle. These students may receive their diplomas, but their education has barely commenced. “This is life eternal,” Christ said, “that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” [John 17:3.] 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 1

Often those who know the least of what it means to bear individual responsibility, who have not taken upon themselves the burden of thinking, of caretaking, of studying complicated cases, are most willing to buckle on the armor and feel that they are capable of handling any case. It is because they know so little that they think they know so much. If they knew more, they would have a deeper sense of their own inability. The man who knows himself best will walk in all humility of mind. He will make no proud boasts. He will feel a weight of responsibility as he sees the woes of his fellow men. He will not take human life into his hands to experiment upon. He will counsel with experienced physicians, regarding them as fathers and himself as an unlearned child, to be admonished, corrected, and, if in wrong, set right. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 2

This is the light in which our medical students should regard Dr. Kellogg. Even if our young physicians from the medical school have obtained their diplomas, they must not feel that they are on an equal with Dr. Kellogg. They have but just commenced their education. They cannot expect to be lifted to the side of Dr. Kellogg, who for years has devoted the energies of mind and soul to this work, unless in their daily practice they shall give evidence of capability and intelligence. They must be content to come up gradually, proving their ability for the work by showing that they sense the responsibility laid upon them in the smallest matters. They are to work <to gain an> experience, beginning at the lowest round of the ladder, and by careful, earnest, thoughtful exertion climb to the top. Religion, Bible religion, is to be the spring of their action. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 3

There are but few who carry the load that Dr. Kellogg has carried, and there is not one who has from the first carried the heavy burden of care that he has borne. Many do not love the taxing, burden-bearing part. Self-denial and hard application are not agreeable to them. They are willing to deal with the sick, but they refuse to lift the load. They take everything in an easy, matter-of-fact way. When the suffering one approaches the last crisis, the doctor's heart is wrung with intense pain because a human life is going out, and he can devise no means of saving it; but these easygoing ones who are connected with him in the work do not sense the danger. When they should be pressed as a cart beneath sheaves, they are calm as a summer evening and take it all as a matter of course, something that must be. Had they the intensity of feeling which the doctor has, they would not throw off the burden for an instant. By sharp thinking and earnest prayer they would devise means yet untried, and by untiring vigilance seek to save not only the body, but the soul of the sufferer. The Lord will not accept shabby work from any soul. He asks for the heart, that He may mold it after the divine similitude. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 4

Dr. Kellogg is a discerning man, and he can read the characters of his fellow workers. When he sees in them a disposition to be free and easy, a willingness to have the mind drawn off to unimportant things, a readiness to engage in selfish pleasure, a disposition to occupy the precious hours that should be employed in close application to study or business, in matters of no consequence, how can he trust them with grave responsibilities? Everything they do, their deportment, their light and chaffy spirit, their careless attitude show that they are not burden-bearers, that they have no connection with God. Dr. Kellogg has felt afraid to trust responsibilities with these physicians, because he saw them to be inefficient. Men of intelligent minds are greatly to blame when they make the same mistakes over and over again, for by so doing they involve serious consequences. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 5

How carefully Dr. Kellogg marks the bearing of the student fresh from the medical college. He reads failure or success in the course that is pursued. If the student is ready to question the rules and regulations, and consider himself exempted from them; if he pursues a course of self-indulgence, and by his example encourages a spirit of rebellion, he will have a demoralizing influence upon the institution, and the sanitarium might far better close its doors than to allow this spirit to leaven the workers and break down the barriers which cost thought, effort, and prayer to erect. If students bring polluting breezes from their college life into the institution, give them no place. The students would be well to heed the words of the apostle Paul to Timothy, his son in the gospel: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. ... Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy: that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate: laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” [1 Timothy 6:12-14, 17-19.] 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 6

If the youth would lay up a good foundation against the time to come, they must build upon the only sure foundation, which is Jesus Christ. Their building can never be reared in strength and symmetry unless Jesus Christ is the chief corner stone. The reliance of every soul must be upon God. Let every student seek for a character that will give to the world a correct influence. Let him like Daniel learn to improve his talents; for this the Lord expects from every soul. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 7

Young men, if you think a certain course will help you ever so much, and there is a possibility that your motives for taking that course will be misjudged, do not venture <to carry out your plans> until you have established yourself in the confidence of those <whom you have reason to respect, and whose confidence you desire.> You may wish for much, but you can only secure that which you labor for wisely, and for which you give evidence that you deserve commendation. All who would become competent physicians must build a good character, diligently laying stone upon stone, until the structure has become a beautiful temple for the Lord. Work and pray and believe, adding to your virtue knowledge. Be learners <even after you suppose> you have gained an experience. If you are too self-sufficient to be instructed by one who has had an experience, one who has made a success, you are in danger. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 8

Dr. Kellogg has been placed in a most trying situation. His adversary has an establishment close by, and here those who are disaffected can obtain sympathy and credence and have his every act magnified and embellished, misconstrued and falsified. The standard of this institution run by Fairfield <will be leveled> with the dust. It is founded on wrong theories and principles, and yet the perverse human heart will crave to be built up in its perversity even by such an influence as this. Can we greatly wonder that Dr. Kellogg is worn? He must feel the grossness of the rival who will use any means, however unfair and iniquitous, to cast a reproach upon him. He must brave the assaults of those who have grown hardened in guilt. He must brace himself to resist those who have trampled upon conscience, and forgotten that there is a God who sees, a God who registers their deeds in the books of heaven. What will give the tempted, tried soul the victory?—A firm reliance upon God, a continual trust in Him. The truth of God must regulate his life. It must be planted in the heart. As Dr. Kellogg places himself on the side of God, God will be his defense. But he must trust continually, firmly grasping the promises by the hand of faith. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 9

There are chapters in the experience of Dr. Kellogg that few have read and which have resulted in a surrender to God. If Dr. Kellogg will trust himself wholly with God, He will give him tact and perception and skill as a practitioner that has seldom been excelled. Angels of God will stand by his side when human life is in peril, and wisdom from above will be given him. God designs that Dr. Kellogg shall still advance. He has only begun to climb the ladder. The Lord will give him grace that he is now ignorant of, and he will see as he has never seen before. He will realize that there is to be an intelligent discarding of all drugs. Skill and knowledge is to be given him which he is in no case to keep to himself. He is to educate, educate, educate. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 10

Many things will come up to divert Dr. Kellogg’s mind from the main thing, but he must hold himself in the place that God has appointed him. He is not to be loaded with burdens which others can carry. Notwithstanding all the difficulties in the way, he is to devote much time and venture much in order to keep his students under his <own watchful> eye, teaching them how to perform operations. Who can better given them this instruction? If he allows them to leave, having obtained their diplomas, and yet has not had them practice under his <superior wisdom, they> cannot do faithful work; for they are not prepared to act in emergencies that may arise. Let him be assured that their education is in every sense a practical one. He should try to lead the students to obtain all the knowledge they can in every department. If he finds that they are deficient in caretaking, in a comprehension of their work, he should lay the matter frankly before them, giving them an opportunity to correct their wrong habits and reach a higher standard. There are many who are in such haste to climb to distinction that they skip some of the rounds of the ladder and in so doing lose an experience which is essential. In their zeal, the knowledge of many things does not seem important to them. They fail to do deep and thorough work. They are to climb, by a slow and painful process, round after round of the ladder of progress. This will teach them how to help others to ascend. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 11

Those who have but a short time in which to study should not be allowed to lose any time. Let the student be carried forward and upward by doing intelligent, practical work in the lines in which he expects to devote his time and tact and skill. Some have become wearied because they have been kept at work in lines of which they had no need. These have no time to be set at cheap, <inferior> things; <time is too short.> Their time must be well employed <in grasping the knowledge of medical science,> that they may obtain the knowledge essential for them in their work as physicians. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 12

Students are generally willing to work under Dr. Kellogg. You should heed his suggestions and follow his advice. Go as far as you possibly can in intelligent enterprise, but never infringe upon one rule, never disregard one principle. A disregard of regulations is natural to the heart inclination to self-gratification. It is much easier to criticize and tear to pieces than it is to build up. One man by lax, careless ideas can do more toward letting down the standard than ten men can accomplish in staying the demoralizing influence. An easygoing religion is not acknowledged by God. It is to Him as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 13

We want thorough men and thorough women, who feel it their duty to improve every talent lent them, that they may in the end double their entrusted capital. There is nothing of which God will require a more strict account than of our time. Every one is accountable to God for these few golden moments of probation. God has not given us the precious boon of life to be devoted to selfish gratification. Time is too short to seek for fame. O if men would only stop where God has set the bound, what a different service would be rendered to Him! 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 14

There is only one power that can make these students what they ought to be and keep them steadfast. It is the grace of Christ. The power of the truth exerting a saving influence upon life and character. God’s truth must be cherished in the heart, and held in the strength of God, or the power of Satan will wrench it from you. The students who intend to deal with suffering humanity will find no graduating place this side of heaven. Every item of knowledge possible should be acquired, while the seeker daily acknowledges that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Every experience that will strengthen the mind should be brought into the life. Unless they are guided by wisdom from above, they will become an easy prey to the deceptive power of Satan. In their high estimation of themselves and their own wisdom, they will become pompous and self-sufficient. Students, you need to be self-reliant and yet teachable. Then you will have strength to do faithful work. To trust to your own resources and wisdom is folly. You will be brought to confusion if you do this. You can walk securely only when you follow the counsel of God. 4LtMs, Ms 4b, 1885, par. 15