Selected writings of John M. Scudder.
Wishing and praying alone will not elevate the standard of medicine or any other form of education. Faith without works availeth not. Dr. Scudder taught that work, work, everlasting work, was the way to medical salvation. This may well be considered by those who do little, but say much. Prayer alone will do little; but work may yield an answer to prayer. There are many who hope for things, who pray for them, who are ready to give advice (wise, they think) how to conduct a college or how to promote Eclecticism, yet never work for the things advocated. Sometimes they talk themselves into trouble. They are in the relation of the whale and Jonah, to whose biographies have been added the following anecdote. When Jonah was comfortably seated in the whale's belly and had time to reflect he turned to his host and said, "Your big mouth got me into this."—Ed. Gleaner.
EFFECTUAL PRAYER.—And probably the reader will want to know if we propose to teach theology as well as medicine, and if so, why? As Bret Harte would put it, "we don't go very much on theology," but we do know something of "effectual prayer," especially in its relation to medicine. Ye editor is not likely to die of piety, and he belongs to a queer persuasion, all of which must be taken into account.
But our Church believes that all men "pray without ceasing," both wicked and good, for what is prayer but the desire of the heart. And they go further than this and believe that all prayers are answered—for as is the desire of the heart, so will the man be eventually. It is just as true in the affairs of this world as it is in the next, just as applicable to the practice of medicine as the practice of theology.
If we as individuals and as a body of physicians desire to have a better and more certain practice of medicine—we will have it. If we desire to occupy a better position in public estimation, and work for it—we will get it. If we want to elevate the standard, and put our hands to the work—it will be elevated.
As a body of physicians, and as individual men, we hold the future in our hands. If we are satisfied with the polypharmacy and crudities of the past, polypharmacy and crudities will be our recompense. If we want specific diagnosis and positive medication, we will get them.
I supplement this short exhortation by a paragraph from a sermon on my desk:
"And the same law is as uniform and unvarying in its operation upon the understanding, or intellectual faculties, as it is upon the will, or affections. 'For he that seeketh findeth.' Every intellectual faculty of the mind is developed by exercise, is strengthened by use. And this use is seeking and finding. Men do not always find the outward thing for which they seek, and if they did it would form no portion of their permanent possessions, for it could not become a part of themselves. But they do find, in the very act of seeking, that which is of infinitely more importance to them, which is the increase and strengthening of the faculties employed in the search. And this is a permanent possession because it is a part of themselves, and does not pass away at !death as all external things necessarily do. "We know that all the faculties, whether of the body or of the mind, not only increase with exercise, but diminish and die if not exercised at all. Or perhaps it would be more exactly correct to say that the powers of the faculties unused become absorbed into those that are used most actively. Thus the blind are at least partially compensated by the exquisite delicacy of the senses of touch and sound, into which the powers of the faculty of seeing seem to be measurably absorbed. If the eyes were never used at all, their powers of seeing would become extinct, but other faculties called into greater activity would increase, to supply in a measure the deficiency. And the same is true of all the faculties and organs of the body and mind alike."
Some of our readers may doubt our piety, and think that "the prayers of the wicked availeth little." But we beg to remind them that "all men pray without ceasing," the wicked as well as the good, and they are very sure to get what they earnestly work for. In medicine, at least, ours have had an abundant and tangible answer.—SCUDDER, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1873.