« AnteriorContinuar »
Medical men, generally, both at home and abroad, allow the justness of the eulogium passed upon it as a work which, from the elegance of its composition, the wide range and intellectual cast of its illustrations, and the vast fund of its practical information, will be alike valued by the man of letters, the philosopher, and the medical practitioner.
It would be beside the purpose of the present article to attempt an account of Dr. Good's minor productions, many of which were elegant and instructive. His last published work, was "The System of Nature," in three octavo volumes. He has left in manuscript a work probably composed under the strong impression that it would be his last, namely, "A Translation of the Book of Psalms, intended to be accompanied by Historical, Chronological, Critical, and Theological Dissertations." This production is entirely ready for the press. A most competent critic has stated that the translation of some of the Psalms, which he had perused, is "truly exquisite."
Having thus noticed the literary character of this eminent man, it is time that we should proceed to exhibit to the reader a few traits relative to his higher character, as "a member of Christ, a child of God," and now, through faith in the merits of his Saviour "an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven."
Dr. Good, as we have observed, at one period of his life had imbibed the opinions of the Socinian school. He rejected the doctrines of the Divinity of Christ, his atoning sacrifice, and his mediatorial government; and received the tenets which distinguish that sect. At a more advanced period of his life he relinquished those sentiments, and in process of time adopted the general system of doctrines stated and maintained in the established church.
order," says Mr. Jerram, "to see the full importance of this essential change of sentiment in Dr. Good,
and its practical bearing on the great question which it involves, it will be necessary to take a short view of his literary character, and the causes which led him to renounce his former creed." "All, who knew Dr. Good," continues Mr. Jerram, "will allow that he was a scholar of no ordinary attainments; but the extent of his talents and erudition is known perhaps by few. He possessed so quick and retentive a memory, that whatever he heard or read with interest became his own; and hence his memory was a store-house, in which were deposited the riches which others, as well as himself, had collected from the vast sources of the natural, moral, and intellectual world. His perception of things was remarkably prompt, clear, and discriminate; so that he almost intuitively saw the nature and bearing of things, as soon as presented to him. His mind was large and comprehensive; so that he could generally take in the whole of a subject, as well as distinguish its minute parts: and hence he possessed, in a more than ordinary degree, the rare talent of correctly classifying and placing facts in a luminous order. The versatility
of his talents and the extent of his erudition were truly extraordinary. He seemed to be capable of fixing his mind with equal intenseness on the most opposite subjects; and there is scarcely a single department of literature, of philosophy, of the arts, or of taste, which has not in its turn received his attention, and been enlarged by his genius. Those who intimately knew him, and indeed his published works attest the fact, say, that he had a critical knowledge of many of the ancient and modern languages, and a competent acquaintance with not fewer than twelve. It is supposed that his published works, if collected, would fill upwards of twenty thick and closely printed octavo volumes, seventeen or eighteen of which are standard works, many of them on deep and recondite sub
jects, and all of them enriched with various knowledge, drawn up with great correctness of style, and adorned with the imagery of a vivid imagination."-Mr. Jerram proceeds to notice, what has been already mentioned, that among his various professional, classical, and scientific pursuits, he found time to attend to biblical literature: in proof of which, Mr. Jerram refers not only to his publications, but to his interleaved Bible, which he has illustrated by whatever he could collect from the copious stores of ancient and modern literature. "It is quite evident," therefore, adds Mr. Jerram, "that our departed friend was competent to examine the grounds upon which each system rests; that he was not likely to make such a change, without mature deliberation; and that the course of his studies naturally led, as well as eminently qualified him, to go fully into the whole subject: and the fact that he did, under all these circumstances, relinquish his ⚫ former tenets, and ultimately em-brace the orthodox faith, is very important."
The causes which led to this change were various: some, we have already noticed; but the principal, no doubt, was, that he found the tenets of Socinianism inconsistent with the plain import of Scripture, and its uniform texture. It is about twenty years since he entirely withdrew himself from all connexion with Unitarians. Previous to this decisive step, his mind had appeared dissatisfied with many of their statements, as being repugnant to the clear testimony of Scripture. But one discourse, in particular, which he heard, seemed to him so entirely at variance with the Bible, that he determined, on that very Sunday evening, to write a statement of his own views, with a declaration of his intention to discontinue his attendance at his ac customed place of worship. The authority of the Divine word, and the doctrines he had embraced, he
clearly saw could not be held together; and as he had no alternative, but the rejection of one, he surrendered the last;" a course of conduct," remarks Mr. Jerram, "which is not always pursued; for it far more frequently happens, in similar dilemmas, that the Scriptures become the sacrifice, and infidelity the retreat;-a result indeed so natural, where Socinianism has been identified with Christianity, and found at length to be untenable, that it is somewhat surprising that it does not universally take place. It does however occur with sufficient frequency, greatly to swell the number of infidels from the deserted ranks of Socinianism."
But this change in his theological opinions, important as it was, was not the whole transformation which, by the blessing of God, he eventually underwent. It might not be easy to trace the exact date or progress of his spiritual renewal of character; but certain it is, that he experienced a most momentous change of heart and life. He truly verified the declaration of the Apostle, "If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature; old things have passed away, and all things are become new." There was a gradual, yet to those who knew him intimately, a very perceptible increase of real piety and Christian affection manifesting itself in his whole conduct, for some years past; but especially during the latter years of his life. In evidence of this might be mentioned the increasing ardour and intense spirituality of mind with which he conducted the devotions of his family every morning and evening. The punctuality of his attendance upon public worship also was for some years past very remarkable; and the more so, considering his important professional engagements, which so many medical practitioners make a plea for absenting themselves from the house of God. For many years he made a point of greatly exerting himself on the Saturday,
that he might be able to attend the worship of God on the Sunday, and have the day as quiet as possible for its sacred and delightful duties; and he exercised much self-denial for this purpose. It was rarely also that he did not present himself at the altar when the dying love of his Saviour was to be commemorated. His self-denying kindness to the poor was also very great; and he evinced a growing benevolence of character, and willingness to embrace every opportunity of doing good, professionally or otherwise. It would be unnecessary to allude to the various works of Christian charity in which he was actively engaged; among which the Church Missionary Society was especially dear to him. His advice both pro fessional and paternal to the mission aries of that society, and his services in the committee, have for some years been found peculiarly valuable. To spare the feelings of his family he avoided speaking particularly of himself, and of those sufferings which it is now known he must have endured for some time previous to his departure. He had of late been much engaged in looking over his affairs and arranging his papers, not apparently from any apprehension of the rapid progress of the disease he laboured under, or of the nearness of his departure, but in a spirit of watchfulness, that he might be habitually ready for that day and that hour in which the Son of man cometh. During his last illness, extreme pain incapacitated him for speaking much, but he was sometimes heard to utter broken sentences, such as "O the folly of putting off religion to a dying bed!" but without seeming to have any immediate reference to his own case, because he expected, at this time, to recover from the present attack. Again: "O the vanity of human learning!" The nurse, who sat up with him in an earlier part of this illness, says, that great part of the night was spent by him in prayer. Sometimes he would speak
to her; and the purport of his observations, there is reason to believe, was an exhortation not to put off religion. Unwilling, as we have said, to grieve his family by any expressions of the agony he endured, his very delirium served to shew the kind feelings of his mind. He had alternate seasons of self-collection and mental wandering; and he was exceedingly anxious lest, during the latter which he seems to have attributed, in part at least, to the opiates which his disorder rendered necessary, he should speak unadvisedly with his lips. Thus, on one occasion, after solemnly blessing his grandson in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, he added instantly, "Now, no more:-go, I dare not trust myself." This conscientious watchfulness over himself gives to his deliberate statements of his views and feelings the same weight which they would have deserved, had they been delivered whilst he was in possession of his entire health and vigour of mind.
Dr. Good gave public evidence that he had not received the grace of God in vain." Numerous illustrations of this have already appeared in the preceding details; but a few additional notices may not be unacceptable or without profit to the reader. He had always been a kind husband and affectionate father; but Christianity greatly quickened and refined all his feelings, and gave them a more holy direction. The same observation is applicable to the manner in which he discharged the offices of friendship and Christian charity. He was, as before remarked, highly disinterested and affectionate. His purse was always ready to promote any charitable object, and his professional talents to administer gratuitous relief to such as needed it. Among his manuscripts have been found some papers entitled "Occasional Thoughts," written generally on texts of Scripture, and discovering great originality of thinking,
point in expression, and, above all, fervent piety and devotion of heart. One of them contains the following interesting paper, dated July 27, 1823. These occasional thoughts and the subjoined prayer were unknown even to his family.
"Form of Prayer,
"Which I propose to use, among others, every morning, so long as it may please God that I shall continue in the exercise of my profession; and which is here copied out, not so much to assist my own memory, as to give a hint to many who may perhaps feel thankful for it, when I am removed to a state where personal vanity can have no access, and the opinion of the world can be no longer of any importance. I should wish it to close the subsequent editions of my 'Study of Medicine.'
"O thou great Bestower of health, strength, and comfort! Grant thy blessing upon the professional duties in which I may this day engage. Give me judgment to discern disease, and skill to treat it; and crown with thy favour the means that may be devised for recovery: for with thine assistance the humblest instrument may succeed, as without it the ablest must prove unavailing. Save me from sordid motives, and endue me with a spirit of pity and liberality towards the poor, and of tenderness and sympathy towards all: that I may enter into the various feelings by which they are respectively tried;-may weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice.
"And sanctify their souls as well as heal their bodies. Let faith and patience and every Christian virtue they are called upon to exercise, have their perfect work: so that in the gracious dealings of thy Spirit and of thy Providence, they may find in the end, whatever that end may be, that it has been good for them that they have been afflicted. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the love of that adorable Redeemer, who while on earth went about do
ing good, and now ever liveth to make intercession for us in heaven. Amen!"
Still, notwithstanding his many excellencies, Dr. Good deeply lamented that he had not taken a higher standard, and aimed at greater Christian attainments. The truly humble and spiritual frame of his mind in this respect will be best seen in a few brief notices relative to his last days and hours. On the Saturday night, three days before his death, he woke from sleep remarkably composed, and expressed great pleasure on seeing his friend, the minister of the parish where he died, enter the room. Mr. R. said to him, I am come to implore the blessing of the Redeemer upon you. Dr. Good inquired if his family were present; and on being answered in the affirmative, replied, "I cannot say I feel those triumphs that some Christians have experienced. But I have, I trust, resigned myself to the will of God. I have endeavoured to perform the duties of religion; but I have unhappily done what too many Christians do,-I have taken the middle walk of Christianity: I have lived below my privileges. I believe all the articles of the Christian faith as contained in our church." Some remark being made respecting the righteousness of Christ, he replied, with great energy, "No man on earth can be more convinced than myself of the necessity of Christ's righteousness, and that there is nothing good in ourselves. If I know myself, I neither presume nor despair. There is a certain sense in which St. Paul's expression chief of sinners applies to all; but there are some to whom it applies particularly, and I fear it does so to me. I have had large opportunities given me; but I have not improved them as I might have done. I have been led astray by the vanity of human learning, and by the love of human applause." He was agitated and almost overcome by his feelings in saying these words. The grace of the Saviour being again
mentioned, he replied, "O do not think that I despair. I trust I neither presume nor despair: but my whole constitution is sanguine: I am sanguine in every thing, and this makes me afraid of myself." Mr. R. read John i. 16, dwelling upon the words "of his FULNESS." He then asked him if he should pray. Dr. Good again inquired if all his family were present, and said, "I have given you a transcript of my mind, not as a matter of form, but in the sight of God." Mr. R. asked if there were any thing in particular that he would wish him to pray for: "I want," he replied, "to be more humbled under a sense of sin; I want more spirituality, more humility." The family then knelt down, and Dr. Good, greatly fatigued, fell into a sweet sleep. He was not at this time considered in very imminent or immediate danger. Throughout his illness, with the exception of mental wanderings, he evinced an unruffled and truly Christian composure.
"No man living," said he the day preceding his death, "can be more sensible than I am that there is nothing in ourselves in which to trust, and of the absolute necessity of relying on the merits of Jesus Christ." "All the promises" (he again remarked with great emphasis) "are yea and amen, in Christ Jesus." When one who was holding his cold convulsed hands, said to him, Do you remember your favourite hymn, "There is a fountain filled with blood, &c.?" he repeated the first five verses with quivering lips, and when the exhausted powers of nature seemed scarcely capable of such exertion. The circumstance deserves the rather to be noticed, because it affords satisfactory evidence of his complete renunciation of Socinian principles, and his entire reliance for salvation on the blood and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This faith in his Saviour yielded him a well grounded hope of everlasting life. His hope did not in
deed rise to that degree of assurance which fills the soul with joy, as well as peace: he observed, "I cannot say that I feel those triumphs which some Christians have experienced;" and he seemed rather to check than indulge what might lead to them; for, according to his own words, he thought his constitution sanguine, and he was afraid of trusting himself. But he often repeated that text, and dwelt upon it with evident satisfaction; "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" and even after the power of distinct articulation was gone, on the very morning of his decease, when a clerical friend said to him, "Behold the Lamb of God," he added, with an effort that surprised those around him, "who taketh away the sin of the world." These were the last words he intelligibly uttered. He soon after fell asleep, and his spirit ascended up to God who gave it, there to join with kindred spirits, in ascribing "unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.".
The lesson, as Mr. Jerram has justly remarked, which this narrative seems peculiarly calculated to teach is the insignificance of the highest intellectual endowments and the most extensive erudition, when compared with Christian character, and an experimental knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The greatest attainment of man is a conformity to the Divine image, and his highest destiny is to be "partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light." Whoever comes short of this standard, forfeits his claim to that heavenly inheritance: he is poor in the midst of his mental wealth, and without resource for the day of need. A death-bed will expose both his poverty and wretchedness; and the opening of a world, where nothing can be admitted that does not bear the character of holiness and the stamp of the Divine image, will