« PrécédentContinuer »
prevents then our defining any lim. by Dr. Percival, in remarking on its, within which deception shall be the maxim, that we must not do evil bounded. We can make no accu- that good may come, says, “ Must rate distinctions, which will enable one do nothing for a good purpose, us to say, that it can be beneficially which would have been evil without employed in one case, while in an this reference? It is evil to hazard other it will be inexpedient.
life without a view of some good; I have now finished the examina. but when it is necessary for a public tion of the various considerations, interest, it is very lovely and honwhich have been suggested to my orable. It is criminal to expose a mind in relation to this subject. And good man to danger for nothing; I think that they setile the question but it is just even to force him into as to the expediency of deception the greatest dangers for his country. beyond all doubt. I think it per. It is criminal to occasion any pain fectly evident, that the good, which to innocent persons, without a view may be done by deception in a few to some good; but for restoring of cases, is almost as nothing, compar. health we reward chirurgeons for ed with the evil which it does in scarifyings, burnings and amputamany cases, when the prospect of tions." its doing good was just as promising I would remark on this that the as it was in those in which it suc infliction of pain is not in itself a ceeded. And when we add to this moral act, but the purpose for which the evil which would result from a it is done gives it all the moral chargeneral adoption of a system of de- acter that it has. Aside from this, ception, the importance of a strict it affects no moral principle, as the adherence to truth in our intercourse infliction of an injury upon truth with the sick, even on the ground certainly does, independent of the of expediency, becomes incalculably object for which it is done. The great.
infliction of pain then for a good In the passage, which I quoted in purpose can not be said to be doing the beginning of this article from evil that good may come--it is doPercival's Medical Ethics, the wri. ing good. ter makes I conceive, a false issue The sacrifice of life which the on the question under consideration. writer speaks of, is the sacrifice of He assumes that the injury, which a less good for a greater one simply, results from a sacrifice of the truth and not the sacrifice of any princi. for the good of the sick, comes upon ple. But when the truth is sacri. him who practices the deception, ficed for what is deemed to be a and that in doing it, “ he generously greater good, it is in fact the sacrirelinquishes every consideration re fice of a greater good, for not only ferable only to himself.” But the a less, but an uncertain good-a considerations that I have presented sacrifice of the eternal principle, show, that the injury is very far which binds together the moral unifrom being thus confined. Often verse in harmony, for a mere tem. the very person intended to be ben. porary good, which after all may efited is injured, perhaps deeply, prove to be a shadow instead of a in some cases even fatally. And reality. then the indirect effects can not be I can not leave this subject withestimated.
out making some explanations of a There are many illustrations, used few points, in order to guard against by those who advocate deception, some erroneous inferences to which which are plausible but fallacious. the sentiments that I have advanced I will cite a single example. Dr. might otherwise be liable. Hutcheson of Glasgow, as quoted I wish not to be understood as
saying that we should never take can not decide clearly what the propains to withhold knowledge from babilities are in many cases. And the sick, which we fear might be if he thinks that he can do so, he injurious to them. There are cases may be very much mistaken. Esin which this should be done. All timates are often made most unwarthat I claim this—that in withhold: rantably. An exactness is often ing the truth no deception should be aimed at which is impracticable. practiced, and that if sacrifice of The patient in many cases has no the truth be the necessary price for right to such an estimate, for while obtaining the object, no such sacri- it may be a mere guess, he may fice should be made. In the pas- look upon it as a well founded estisage which I have quoted from Dr. mate, made upon a real knowledge Percival, he states a case in which of his case. He will therefore draw he very properly says, that the pa- false inferences from it, and this the tient's right to the truth is suspen. physician is bound to prevent, and ded; but I do not agree with him, in so doing he actually prevents dethat in with holding the truth we ception. have the right to put absolute false. The physician should always rehood in its place.
member that though he may be It is always a question of expe. aware himself of his liability to err diency simply, whether the truth in making any such estimate, the ought to be withheld. And it is a patient may have such confidence question that depends, for its proper in his judgment, that he will condecision, upon a variety of consid- sider the opinion which he may exerations in each individual case. It press to be of course a correct oneis very often decided injudiciously. almost beyond the possibility of a There is generally too great a read- mistake. So that however guarded iness to adopt an affirmative decis. he may be in expressing an unfavorion. It is too easily taken for grant- able opinion of the probable issue of ed, that the knowledge in question any case, that opinion may have too will do harm to the patient if it be much weight in the patient's mind. communicated to him. The obvi. It is by no means true that all dious rule on this subject is this—that rect questions on the part of the the truth should not be withheld un- sick, must be directly and fully anless there be a reasonable prospect swered. For example, suppose the of effectually preventing a discovery patient asks the physician, “ Do you of it, and that too by fair and hon- think on the whole that I shall reest means.
cover” -a question that is sometimes It has often been said that the asked under very embarrassing cirphysician has no right to excite too cumstances. If the physician thinks much hope in the mind of a patient that he will probably not recover, by directing his attention, as is often he has no right to say to him that done, to any favorable symptoms he will, for this would be falsehood. that may appear in his case. But But he has a right, and it is his duty I ask, how is it known that too much if he thinks it for the good of the hope is excited ? The physician is patient, to withhold his opinion from fallible, and is by no means an him, if he can do it without false. swerable for putting just the right hood or equivocation. He may say degree of hope into the patient's to him something like this. “It is bosom. It is not to be expected of difficult to decide that question. him that he shall always tell each Perhaps it is not proper for me at patient just how his case stands. this stage of your case to attempt His own mind is often filled with to do it. You are very sick, and the conflicting hopes and fears, and he issue of your sickness is known only
to God. I hope that remedies will knowledge. It is very common for do so and so (pointing out somewhat persons to recover, particularly in the effects ordinarily to be expect- cases of acute disease, when the ed) but I can not tell.” Something physician had supposed that they of this kind, varied according to the would die. This fact should make nature of each case, especially in him somewhat cautious in giving the amount of hope communicated, definite opinions to the sick in reit is perfectly consistent with truthlation to the probable final result of and good faith to say; and very of their sickness. ten when more is said, even in very There are some other points that dangerous cases, the physician goes we should like to dwell
upon, but beyond the limits which infinite wis- this article is already too long, and dom has thought best to set to his we forbear.
LIFE AND CHARACTER OF REV. DR. NETTLETON.*
AsaheL NETTLETON was a gen- began to think it possible that he uine “ New Englander,” as well in might have passed from death unto thought, feeling and manners, as in life. The more he examined himthe place of his birth, education, self, the more evidence he found that and usual residence. He was born a great change had been wrought of reputable parents, April 21, 1783, in his views and feelings respecting at North Killingworth in Connecti- divine things. Old things had passed cut. Here he spent his early years away-all things had become new. with his father in the laborious bu. The character of God now appear. siness of agriculture. In his eigh- ed lovely. The Savior was exceedteenth year, at a time of special ingly precious; and the doctrines religious interest in his native town of grace, toward which he had felt and extensively in New England, such bitter opposition, he contemhe became deeply anxious for his plated with delight. He had now soul. After about ten months of no doubt of their truth. He saw mental trouble, in which his con. clearly, that if there was any good victions of sin were at times very thing in him towards the Lord God clear and pungent, he found relief. of Israel, it was not the result of Now, in the words of his biographer, any efforts of his own, but of the
“A sweet peace pervaded his soul. sovereign and distinguishing grace The objects which had given him of God. He was ready to say with so much distress, he now contem the Apostle, by the grace of God, I plated with delight. He did not, am what I am." however, for several days suppose In this extraordinary way did God that he had experienced a change begin to prepare the retired young of heart; but finding at length that farmer for the extraordinary work his views and feelings accorded with before him. This preliminary was those expressed by others whom he soon followed by “most intense de. regarded as friends of Christ, he sires to be instrumental in the sal.
vation of his fellow men.
While * Memoir of the Life and Character laboring in the field he would often of Rev. Asahel Nettleton, D. D. By say to himself, if I might be the Bennet Tyler, D. D., President and Pro. means of saving one soul, I should fessor of Christian Theology in the Theological Institute of Connecticut. Hart- prefer it to all the riches and honors ford, Robins & Smith, 1844. pp. 372.
of the world.” His purpose was
pp. 24, 25.
soon formed to exchange the plough arm in the college yard, before evefor the pulpit. At the age of twenty ning prayers, conversing upon the two he entered Yale College, and great interests of the soul. I obin 1809 took his first degree. The served, that so soon as he became following statements by his class. acquainted with a student under mate and room-mate, the Rev. Jon. religious impressions, his company athan Lee, show the steady and and counsel were sought and greatly bright flame of his piety, with the prized; and it was manifest, that increasing strength of his ruling pas. his conversation with such individsion, love to souls, amid the unfa. uals, his silent and unostentatious vorable influences of college life. labors in connection with his Chris.
“ On becoming more particularly tian brethren in their meeting for acquainted with Nettleton, I per- prayer and conference, held a very ceived that he was one who feared prominent and important place in God. Ever kind, courteous, con that memorable and joyful season. scientious, exemplary, unassuming His feelings were more deeply in. and unostentatious, his words and terested in the whole progress of actions bore the most powerful tes. the revival, and it seemed almost timony to my conscience, to the to absorb his mind by day and by genuineness of his religious princi- night.” p. 38. ples. He evidently had a taste for At the close of his academic the spiritual themes and exercises course, he had a strong desire to be pertaining to religion, so predom- a missionary to the heathen. Even inant and controlling, as to leave before this time he had made the small space for mere literary ambi- acquaintance of Samuel J. Mills, tion. His best loved place was the and their yearnings of heart over chapel, listening with devout solem. benighted pagans were quite simnity to the prayers and preaching of ilar. Yet neither of these ardent of the venerated Dwight. His best youth became a foreign missionary. loved book was the Bible. His best In the wise ordering of Providence, loved day was the Sabbath-and his however, each of them probably best loved friends were those who did far more for poor heathen, than knew the joys and sorrows of a pious if the first desire of his heart had heart. He was intimate with only received gratification ; one, by an a few select companions of con extensive agency in founding sogenial spirit, and who felt most cieties of most kindly bearing on interested in communing together some of the darkest places of the upon the topics of doctrinal and ex. earth—the other, as an honored inperimental religion.” p. 34.—“ In strument in the conversion of many, the winter of 1807-8, a revival of who afterward went in person to religion began in New Haven and preach the gospel in pagan lands, in Yale College. The first subjects and of thousands more whose hearts of it among the students were in the Lord inclined to become effi. the Freshman class. Nettleton was cient and liberal helpers in the misno indifferent spectator, but among sionary cause. the first to discover indications of Mr. Nettleton received license to special religious impressions, and preach the gospel from the West to seek out persons in a state of re Association of New Haven County, ligious anxiety. Then, contrary to May 28, 1811. In the summer of what I had before witnessed of inti. 1817, he was ordained as an evanmacy between the upper and lower gelist. The reasons why he never classes, often did I see him with became a missionary are thus given one or two heart-burdened youth of in the Memoir. • Soon after he the youngest class, walking arm in began to preach, his labors were