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too earnestly desired to remove every stumbling block which is impeding their approach to the fold of Christ? But this matter having been elsewhere touched upon by me, * I proceed to state, that much as I have had at heart the promotion of sound religious views in the present volume, I have, nevertheless, devoted myself to their consideration not without a certain degree of consciousness that this is not my appropriate province; and it will accordingly be found that my more extended object, in the principal memoir, has been to do Mr. Abernethy justice, as one of the brightest ornaments of the profession to which he belonged. He was, moreover, not a mere surgeon, in the usual acceptation of the term, but it was his conspicuous merit to have established the fact, insisted upon by John Hunter, but still not sufficiently regarded, that without a competent acquaintance with medical treatment, surgery must be defective; so that in attending his lectures, or perusing his writings,
* " Scripture Notices and Proofs." the medical student could not fail of acquiring principles calculated to be of the greatest service to him in the practice of physic. At the same time he shrunk from the assumption of the physician's part, and, in cases strictly medical, did not even take upon himself the treatment of his own family. So closely, nevertheless, were his surgical maxims connected with the preservation of the general health, that his writings have afforded me an opportunity of dwelling on the subject of Diet, and Regimen, with more particularity and advantage than I could have done without their assistance.
Still there is nothing like a diffuse dissertation set forth by me. Popular works abound on the subject of health and longevity, not to mention the valuable stores of statistical matter, relative to the health of the community, which have lately come before the public. So that T regard my own reflections purely as the offering of a mind grateful for favours enjoyed through a long professional life, and desirous of enforcing the golden maxim,—
"None but the good and temperate find
Among Mr. Abernethy's characteristics, that of strict punctuality in keeping professional appointments was prominent. Yet he contrived never to disappoint his pupils by being absent from his lecture-room at the stated hour; and I have little doubt of there being some foundation for an anecdote, very generally circulated, about his declining to avail himself of a summons to be present at an operation for the removal of a wen from the royal scalp of his Majesty George IV., because the hour appointed would have interfered with his usual lecture. He was censured for so doing: but, without a correct knowledge of facts, it is unfair to pass judgment. He may have thought that the hour might have been easily altered; and the communication may have been made privately through Sir Astley Cooper, who was the operator on the occasion, and in such a manner as not to have come in the form of a command; but, be this as it may, I avail myself of this illustration of the fact, of Mr. Abernethy's invariable punctuality in lecturing, to show how delusive must be the pretence, too frequently made by medical men, of their inability, on account of their professional engagements, to devote to the public service of their maker that portion of the Sunday required of them.*
No dictum of the pious and learned Sir Matthew Hale is truer than that which he delivered on the faith of his own experience, That The HallowIng INFLUENCE OF THAT BLESSED DAY, WELL OBSERVED, NEVER FAILS OF BEING SHED OVER THE ENSUING WEEK.
Before I close this preface, I must be allowed very briefly to revert to the subject of Materialism.
It will be seen how earnestly Mr. Abernethy strove to protect the Materialists of his day from
* In the " Reminiscences of Sir Astley Cooper," Mr. Abernethy's name does not appear in connection with the above operation on the King; nor do I see, under the supposed circumstances, how it could, with delicacy, have been introduced by the author of them.
the dangerous error of supposing that, because the mind and body of man are so intimately associated, the former may not be essentially distinct from the latter. I go a step farther, and endeavour to show the futility of attempting to draw any precise knowledge respecting man's future destiny from his present condition and circumstances. We are in the hands of a Being whose existence all nature, animate and inanimate, irresistibly proclaims; yet so incomprehensible to our present limited faculties are the Divine attributes, abstractedly considered, that we quickly lose ourselves in the contemplation of them, and fly for relief to the humble but truly wise and pious exclamation, "Lord! what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him ?" * When, therefore, the Materialists, or even the pure Rationalists, are groping their way they know not whither, it is to little purpose that they are for ever say
Ps. viii. 4.