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These Hints were printed in the year 1788, without the Author's name, and without being regularly published: in order to be distributed by a benevolent person among the patients in several Hospitals to which he was a liberal benefactor. They are now published with some alterations and additions, in the hope that other persons of the same character may think them suited to similar designs, and promote their circulation in some of our numerous hospitals and infirmaries.-With very few and obvions variations, they may equally apply to the case of patients attending dispensaries, or to sick persons of every description, especially such as are receiving any kind of charitable assistance.—The reader is desired to peruse carefully the several scriptures recommended at the bottom of the pages, as peculiarly suited to explain and enforce the instructions which are given.- Advertisement to edition of 1797.
The word of God requires us, “ in the day of ad“ versity to consider.”! This is with you, my friends, a day of adversity; and I shall be happy if you will permit me to lead you to the due consideration of those subjects, which are more immediately seasonable and profitable in your present situation.
You cannot but observe the eagerness with which the diseased apply for relief from their bodily complaints. Though the condition of patients in hospitals, or indeed of the sick when under cure in other places, cannot be rendered agreeable; and though the means of recovery are often very irksome and painful ; yet the dread of death, and the desire of health, render men in general earnest to put themselves under the care of physicians, or to procure letters of admission into hospitals ; and willing to submit to those methods of cure which are deemed necessary. But, after all, how uncertain and transient is the expected relief ! how vain and troublesome the life thus prolonged ! how soon must we all yield to the stroke of death! The continuance of our lives is sure to be the lengthening of our
Eccles. vii. 14. See Job v. 6-8.
temporal sufferings; and too often men so employ returning health, that by means of it they only “ treasure up for themselves wrath against the day “ of wrath.”
But an eternal state awaits us! a future judgment, and its dreadful or delightful consequences : and who is there that has not committed many sins, or does not feel a proneness to that which is evil and a backwardness to that which is good ? Yet with what indifference do men receive the instructions of heavenly wisdom ! how little pains are they willing to bestow, in learning or walking in the way which leads to everlasting life ! nay, how negligent are they about fleeing from the wrath to come, and seeking deliverance from endless misery!
The aim and intention of physicians, surgeons, and other medical assistants are readily understood; and they who refuse to comply with their directions, however painful and self-denying, are deemed obstinate enemies to themselves : but the design of those who by counsel or books, would promote the eternal good of the sufferers, is scarcely perceived; their labour of love is thought needless, if not impertinent! Too often men turn away with disgust or resentment ; and seldom do they give themselves much trouble, or bestow a tolerable measure of pains, about those infinitely important concerns ! “But, beloved, I hope better things of
you ;" and must beg you to consider, that I am as certainly using the proper means, which, by God's blessing, may be effectual for your eternal salvation, as your kind and humane physicians are using the proper means of restoring your health
and prolonging your lives. Let me then propose to your most serious attention the following short hints on a subject of infinite importance.
1. You should consider ” that affliction is not a thing which comes of course, or by chance : it springs from the holy and righteous abhorrence with which God beholds iniquity, and is under his immediate direction and appointment.
When God had created man“ in his own image,” and pronounced him very good ; in addition to the law written in his heart, he laid on him one single restraint, amidst those blessings with which he was surrounded ; adding this threatening, “ In the day “ that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” When, through Satan's temptation, he had eaten the forbidden fruit, the sentence in part was pronounced in these words, “ Dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return.” The consequence evidently proves our concern in this transaction.'
By one man sin entered into the world, and “death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, , “ for that all have sinned.” At that awful season man became a distempered dying creature: his sentence is executed in a gradual manner ; and every pain and disease which we feel forms a part of that execution, is the beginning of death, and the forerunner of the last fatal stroke. - We should therefore, under afflictions, “ consider,” submit to, and adore, the justice of God in them ; reflect upon his holy hatred of sin displayed in these dispensations, and endeavour to affect our hearts with a sense of its malignity, that we may deeply repent,
Read Gen. iii. and Rom. v.
and abhor our own iniquities. And, as in Christ, “ the second Adam," “ the Lord from heaven," we are dealt with as under a dispensation of mercy, we ought also to consider the goodness of God in our sufferings; his patience in bearing so long with us ; his kindness in warning us by merciful chastisements, instead of cutting us off in our sins ; and his tenderness in chastising us so gently, in comparison of our deservings, and of the sufferings which many others endure.
2. You should from your present affliction take occasion “ to consider," if these first fruits of sin are so bitter, what will be the misery, in another world, of those who die in their sins. The pains which you feel, the death which you fear, and the scenes of misery and mortality around you, loudly proclaim the displeasure of God: but the body, the seat of sickness and the prey of death, is merely the instrument of unrighteousness; the soul is the contriver and the agent in sin. The curse upon the serpent, by which the devil tempted our first parents, was only the outward token of God's vengeance upon Satan himself: nor is the pain and death of the body more than a visible token of the invisible effects of “ God's wrath against every “ soul of man that doeth evil.” “ It is appointed “unto men once to die, and after death the judg“ ment.” It is “the wrath to come,” from which we are warned to flee, and from which Jesus delivers us : we are exhorted « not to fear them who “ kill the body, and after that have no more that “they can do; but to fear him whois able to destroy
Read Rom. vii ] Thess. i.'