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Another very common prejudice among those who have the care of the sick, is that of avoiding any reference to religious subjects. The Bible, and other good books, must be put out of sight; no religious person must be permitted to visit the sick person, nor prayer be offered in his hearing, lest he should be alarmed with the apprehension of death and eternity. These cruel prejudices have kept good Mr. and Mrs. Sutton out of many a sick chamber, where their visits would have been a real blessing; but as Mr. Sutton used to say, “ Does any person die the sooner for being prepared to die? and is it not of infinitely greater importance, that we be prepared for death, than preserved in life ? Prayer calls in the aid of Him who can do infinitely more both for body and soul than the kindest and best earthly friend, and danger cannot be averted by being kept out of sight. Now," observed Mr. Sutton,the sick person is one of three characters, to either of which, the visits of a pious, prudent Christian, the holy word of God, and the throne of grace must be seasonable. It may be he is a pious person; one who has been accustomed to think of death ; one who has felt himself a guilty, perishing sinner, and has fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before him in the gospel; he has believed on the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world ; the Holy Spirit has been operating on his heart, making him a new creature in Christ Jesus, daily more and more weaned from the world, and fitted for heavennow to such a one, the Bible, and prayer, and Christian conversation, will afford a delightful solace and refreshment. Some precious promise whispered in his ear, só far from distracting his mind and aggravating his disease, will be as a cordial to his heart: and by tranquillizing and cheering his spirits, will tend to aid the efforts of the physician in alleviating his bodily malady. Besides, why should he be checked in those expressions of his feelings, which may be made a great blessing to others ? Such a man is not likely to die from fear of death ; and whether he live or die, it will be his ardent desire, and his chief happiness, that Christ may be magnified in his body, whether by life or by death.
But suppose the sick person to be one who has lived in ignorance, carelessness, and neglect of religion; and suppose that now some anxious forebodings oppress his mind. Death is at hand, and I am not prepared for it! How dreadful I find it to think about death, and judgment, and eternity, which yet I cannot avoid ! Is there any hope for a wretch like me? What must I do to be saved ? Now is it not a most cruel and wicked thing to treat these solemn inquiries as the vagaries of a disordered imagination ? to keep back from the poor creature those who would lead him to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only way of salvation, the only foundation for a dying sin
ner's hope; and deny him the use of the appointed means for ministering to a mind diseased ?
"Even human reason alone would suggest the propriety of yielding to his wishes, and soothing his mind by satisfying his anxious inquiries, not by evading or stifling them; and the part of common humanity, if those around the sick person are strangers to bis alarm, and know not how to meet his feelings, would be, to inquire after and give access to those who know how to speak a word in season to him that is distressed. But there is a still higher consideration. Which of the surrounding friends is willing to inour the dreadful guilt of depriving one so dear to them of the means of his soul's everlasting salvation? Which can bear the thought of his perishing in his sins, and his blood being required at their hands?
6 But should the person be still in a state of hardened indifference, then the criminality of concealing from him his real estate, and suffering him to pass unconsciously into an awful eternity, is dreadfully aggravated indeed! To amuse him with assurances of recovery, and to keep away from him every means of awakening conviction, when it is but too évident that there is but a step between him and death; and unless he be convinced of sin, and brought to Christ for salvation, but another between him and endless misery! Surely there can be no kindness so false and so cruel as that of concealing truths so infinitely important, however
unwelcome; and no circumstances of a sick person, except a state of unconsciousness or delirium, can excuse the suppression of those things that make for his everlasting peace, and which are about to be hid from his eyes."
From the same. If ever an accident happened in our village, people were sure to run to Mr. Sutton's to know what was to be done ; and sure enough they always knew of some proper remedy, and thought of it at the right time; but they used to say, “ People should not depend on them, but get a habit of knowing what to do themselves; as some things happen so suddenly that a person might be dead before help could be obtained, if no one present knew what to be at."
I remember the case of a milliner's apprentice in our village swallowing a pin. Her mistress told her to eat some bread, and so force it down into her stomach ; but another young woman had happened to hear Mrs. Sutton say that it was better swallow an egg. So they broke an egg or two into a glass, and the young woman drank it. A few minutes afterwards they gave her an emetic, and she soon brought up the pin without difficulty.
Early one morning, as Mr. Sutton was at work in his garden, the clergyman's footman came running in a great fright, and begged to borrow a horse to fetch the doctor to his master, who had taken a dose of wrong medicine, and was in a most dangerous state. Two phials of nearly the same size and colour had been sent over night, one' was a draught to be taken early in the morning, the other contained a composing medicine, of which only a few drops were to be taken at night. The servant who administered the medicine, either could not read, or neglected to read the label, and gave the wrong medicine, the whole of which his master swallowed before the mistake was perceived ; and as no one in the house had any notion what to do, the only resource was to send for the doctor : as he lived three miles off, some time must needs elapse before he could arrive. Mr. Sutton readily lent the horse, and then hastened himself to the rectory. He found the clergyman sinking into a stupor, and perceived that in a very short time he would be too far gone to take any thing. So, not having a proper emetic at hand, he got a large spoonful of flower of mustard, which he mixed in a glass of vinegar, and then suddenly dashed two or three basins of cold water at the patient's head. This roused him a little, and he was persuaded to swallow the mustard and vinegar, which soon made him very sick; and then the principal danger was over. When the doctor came he of course administered the proper medicines; but he said the cure would have been hopeless, if nothing had been done before he arrived.