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The deportment of the Socinians, says his biographer, with regard to religion, their obvious want of fairness in conducting many of their arguments, their intellectual pride, and the sceptical turn of mind manifested by some of them, tended considerably to produce the desired change.
The forced and unnatural criticisms in which his theological friends indulged, and the sceptical spirit which some of them manifested, by shocking his uprightness, contributed almost daily to his ultimate emancipation.
Disgusted and alarmed, at the bold scepticism and infidelity, publicly taught and encouraged at the Socinian chapel; and regarding the Socinian system as fundamentally defective, and unsafe to rest the soul upon, he assigned his reasons publicly for changing his place of worship, and for the future became a constant attendant at a church where his soul could be fed and nourished with evangelical truth.
About this time he formed an intimate acquaintance with the Rev. S. Marsden, senior chaplain of the colony of New South Wales, then just returned to England; and through his instrumentality he became ardently devoted to the promotion of the missionary enterprise. The cause of bible and missionary societies he advocated publicly with his voice, and enforced and defended with his pen.
His biblical researches and labors were for the most part subsequent to the change in his religious sentiments; he wrote also a great variety of essays on religious subjects, doctrinal, practical, and poetical, and consecrated his faculties and acquisitions as a living sacrifice to God. He spent much time in prayer and in communing with his own heart; and when abroad took great delight in the company of pious men. When he prescribed or administered medicine, he usually looked up for divine direction, and very frequently prayed with his patients. To the poor he rendered assistance gratuitously, and his purse was always open for any charitable object. For several of the last years of his life, he was severely tried the furnace of affliction, but he came out as gold. Some account of the last moments of this great and good man is contained in the following extracts from a letter directed by his daughter to Dr. Gregory.
Sunday, December 31st, was a day of intense agony and frequent wanderings of mind; yet with intervals of perfect recollection and composure. About noon Dr. Good sent for his little grand-son, and after solemnly blessing him, 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:" shewing by this last remark a perfect self-recollection, a state of mind which continued for several hou In intervals of composure, and when not suffering from extreme exacerbations of pain, some of Dr. G's
family endeavored to repeat occasionally short texts of scripture, to which he always listened with pleasure, appearing, however, much more struck with some than with others. On one occasion without any suggestion or leading remark from those around, he was heard to repeat distinctly with quivering convulsive lips, “ All the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus.” “What words for dying lips to rest upon!" At another time, as one of his family was sitting by, he uttered some expression not accurately remembered, of deep sorrow for sin. This text was then mentioned, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He repeated, “ faithful; yes, nothing can be more suitable.”
The same evening one of his family, kneeling over him said, “may I pray; can you bear it?" the reply was, “ I am not sure, I am in great pain; but try and pray.” Accordingly a few words were offered up, imploring that the Savior would reveal more of his loving kindness, his exceeding glory, to him ; he listened attentively, and uttered something expressive of his feeling that these petitions were suitable to him, and of his deeply joining in them.
On Monday, January 1st, his sufferings increased, and his mind wandered. At 7 o'clock on the morning of this day, his youngest daughter proposed repeating a well known text of scripture, as the likliest means of recalling him to himself. She was answered that this, in his present weakness, would only confuse him more. A text of scripture, however, was repeated, and the effect was wonderful; it seemed a perfect calling back of the mind; he listened with manifest pleasure, and concluded it himself. Many .were the texts which were repeated at different intervals throughout this day, and to which he listened with more or less pleasure, as they more or less seemed to strike his feelings as suitable to his own case. Some of these were,“ The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.” “ Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” “The Lord is my shepherd.” “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Mr. Russell (the vicar of the parish] being about to quit the room, Dr. Good called out, begging him not to go. It was most strikingly impressive to hear his quivering lips uttering the words of scripture, at a time when intense agony occasioned such convulsive motions of the whole body, that the bed often shook under him. His youngest daughter, who was then holding his poor cold hands, said to him, “Do you remember your favorite hymn?” “ There is a fountain filled with blood;" he had repeated it in the earlier part of his illness, and told Mr. Russell that sometimes when walking through the streets of London, he used to repeat it to himself. In one instance he altered it unintentionally, but still strictly preserving the sense.
Dr. Good repeated it as given in the St. John's collection of hymns, with this exception; instead of
“When this poor lisping stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave,” he substituted,
“When this decaying, moldering frame
Lies crumbling in the dust.” Sometimes when those around could not remember the exact words of the passage of scripture, intended to be quoted, he corrected the error, and repeated them accurately. One of the texts he appeared to dwell upon with most earnestness and delight was, “ JESUS CHRIST, the same yes
terday, and to-day, and forever.” When Dr. Good's former Unitarian views are remembered, the dwelling upon this particular text could not but be consolatory to his family. Another text, which, without any suggestion or leading remark, he repeated several times, was, “Who art thou, O great mountain, before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain; and He shall bring forth the head stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it," dwelling with peculiar emphasis upon the words, “ Grace, grace unto it."
On the afternoon of this day, (Monday,) Dr. Good perfectly knew every one, again expressed himself thankful to be placed in the midst of his family, and to be near Mr. Russell. When Mr. Travers arrived in the evening, he immediately recognized him, addressed him by name, and submitted to the means used for his relief, though painful. Upon the last opiate draught being given, he would not rest satisfied until told the precise quantity, which consisted of fifty drops of laudanum;,
and considering the great quantity administered at different times, it is indeed surprizing that his memory and mental powers should, up to this period, have been so little impaired. Mr. Travers, having employed all the means which surgical skill could devise, seeing they were of no avail, did not remain long with Dr. Good. After this time he was constantly convulsed, and uttered but one or two connected sentences. Seeing one of his family standing by, he made use his frequent appellation, “ dearest.”. But his power of comprehension appeared to last much longer, than his power of articulation or expression. His hearing now became greatly affected. Mr. Russell called to him in a loud voice, “ Jesus Christ the Savior;" he was not insensible to that sound. His valuable clerical friend, then repeated to him, in the same elevated tone, “ Behold the Lamb of God;" this roused him, and with energy, the energy of a dying believer, he terminated the sentence," which taketh away the sin of the world;" which were the last words he intelligibly uttered, being about three hours before his death. Mr. Russell twice commended the departing spirit into the hands of him who gave it. The last time was about one o'clock on the morning of Tuesday the second of January, 1827, and at four o'clock the same morning, the breath, wbich had gradually become shorter and shorter, ceased entirely. pp. 307–310.
In looking back on the life and labors of Dr. Good, there is nothing which strikes the mind with greater surprize, than the amount of intellectual exertion which he was able to endure. So extensive was his medical or surgical practice, from an early period after his removal to London, that he walked, in his ordinary round of visits, from ten to fifteen miles, every day. The pressure of these duties would have been thought by most men, to furnish an abundant apology for the neglect of every other. When we add to these, the immense research which was requisite in collecting from every quarter the materials of his great work on medical science, and reflect on the still greater difficulty of reducing to order this chaotic mass; it is with feelings of absolute amazement, that we see him adventuring in the field of biblical criticism, exploring every department of knowledge to illustrate the pages of Lucretius, and performing the labor of half a score of ordinary writers in magazines and reviews. Yet it is not, we believe, to any very extraordinary force of genius, that we are to ascribe this almost mi
raculous rapidity of intellectual effort. The secret of Dr. Good's prodigious powers in this respect lay in his early habits—in the exact distribution of his time, the perfect order which prevailed in the arrangement of all the knowledge he acquired, and his invariable practice of filling up every moment of time with some definite object of pursuit.
His father had been particularly solicitous to impress upon his mind, at an early period, that, to a successful pursuit of knowledge, five things are necessary; "a proper distribution and management of time; a right method of reading to advantage; the order and regulation of his studies; the proper way of collecting and preserving useful sentiments from books and conversation; and the improvement of the thoughts when alone.” Dr. Good had these fundamental principles wrought, as it were, into his constitution; and we cannot wonder, that a rigid adherence to his father's principles on this subject, made hiin one of the most dislinguished scholars of the age. Why is it that men so often complain of want of time and means of study, and that they are found, at the age of forty or fifty, at the same point of acquisition, where they stood at twenty? Why is it, but that, wanting energy and decision of character, they engage in study in an indolent, hesitating manner, with no definite object in view, and finally waste their lives in laboriously doing nothing? This subject, we believe, is far better understood in Europe than in this country. The waste of time on the part of our professional men, even those who are industrious and devoted to study, is astonishingly great. The habits of society among us are adverse to study; they are the habits of a people who have an abundance of time upon their hands. As yet, we know but little, take our country at large, of that directness in coming to the point, that instantaneous rejection of all extraneous topics, that prompt decision on the case presented, which mark the intercourse of professional and business men abroad. All the executive business of the greatest Tract Society in the world, is despatched in the space of twenty or thirty minutes, while the directors breakfast together at the Tract House, once a week. Until our professional men have the firmness to say with Mather, not only to those who visit them, but to themselves likewise, be short, we can never hope to see
them rearing such monuments to their industry, as were left by Dr. Good.
The memoir of Dr. Good suggests another topic of reflection, viz. the high responsibility attached to the office of a physician. No class of men have greater facilities, or more favorable opportunities for doing good. Many, in the hour of sickness or distress, will eagerly listen to religious conversation, to which they would close their ears in health; they will also open their hearts to a physician, while through pride or other causes, every avenue of
access would be barred to others. His opinion, too, at such a time, has great influence. He has opportunity for imparting instruction to multitudes when their minds are peculiarly susceptible of serious impressions; for it is the effect of sickness and pain to soften prejudices, subdue stubbornness, induce serious reflection, and prepare the mind for a reception of the truths and consolations of the gospel. He is called too, under these favorable circumstances, to visit many who have seldom, perhaps never, appeared in the house of God, and who till now have steeled their hearts against the momentous truths of religion. He sees them near the threshold of eternity, when their probation is about to close. If he is a man of decided piety, and fearless in the discharge of his duty, how many a soul may he save from eternal death. While with the hand of christian kindness, he wipes away the cold sweat from the decaying body, he may administer the healing balm of salvation to the immortal spirit. With the voice of prayer, he may soothe the agonies of the departing soul, and not only point with assurance to celestial mansions, but may aid the upward fight of the child of God. A grateful community can scarcely award too high a meed of praise to our physicians, for the noble stand they have taken in the temperance reformation. At no small sacrifice of interest, they have stood forth as honest men, and sounded the note of alarm against the use of ardent spirits. Let them go one step further. Let them use their influence to save the souls of their fellow-men. Under a deep sense of their responsibility, let them diligently employ every opportunity in their power, to save the soul as well as the body. Then may the church of the Redeemer hail them as powerful coadjutors in the cause of benevolence, and God himself reward them with his peculiar blessing here and hereafter.
ART. V.-REVIEW OF ADVICE TO A YOUNG CHRISTIAN.
Advice to a Young Christian on the importance of aiming at an elevaled
standard of piety. BY A VILLAGE PASTOR. With an introductory essay; by the Rev. Dr. Alexander, of Princeton, New-Jersey. 1 vol. duodecimo; pages 196: New-York, 1830.
The author of this modest and unpretending little volume, has done well in giving it to the world, though originally designed, it would seem, only for the eye of private friendship. He has done well, because it is adapted, we think, beyond most books of its size that we have seen, to serve the cause of evangelical piety among those to whom it is addressed, the young. We know of few books, Vol. II.