The Ministry Of Pain -- By: Edward M. Merrins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 069:276 (Oct 1912)
Article: The Ministry Of Pain
Author: Edward M. Merrins


The Ministry Of Pain

Edward M. Merrins, M.D.

The first article on this subject indicated the great importance of the susceptibility to pain in connection with the development and nurture of the body, and the value of pain in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and injury. To guard against exaggeration, it also pointed out that pain is not always so dreadful as it seems, as proved by the actual experiences of the sick and wounded, even death itself, in the great majority of cases, being accompanied by little or no physical pain.

In a second article it was shown in connection with the development of mind that the faculty of memory, which makes education possible, was primarily the registration of painful impressions, and that the hardships and pains of the struggle for existence were a powerful stimulus to the acquisition of speech and mental power and to the development of the mechanical arts. Pain was also an aid to man’s moral development on the parallel lines of the masculine and feminine virtues. Taking the narrative of Elijah’s meeting with God in Horeb as a parable of the experiences of life which, through the emotions, the intellect, and the will, prepare the soul to hear the Divine voice, the slow and painful development of man’s spiritual nature was next considered, special points being the lowly beginnings of religion, the modern interpretation of the “fall,” the origin of prayer and sacrifice, the place of austerities in human life, the purificatory value

of pain which yet is not to be sought for its own sake, and the spiritual power which comes through the conquest of pain.

(2) And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. A movement towards religion commences in the desire of primitive man to discover the cause or the author of every external event or phenomenon. As the only source of activity with which he is acquainted is the action of the will, all objects which move, or which he believes capable of moving, — the heavenly bodies, clouds, winds, rain, fire, rivers, trees, corn, grass, — he concludes are animated by unseen beings or influences. Hence the personification of the forces of nature, and the origin of such myths as that of the earth-bearer, who supports the earth, and from time to time shakes it in anger or amusement. For man, in his ignorance and simplicity, thinks all these nature-beings are endowed, like himself, with will, passions, and feelings. Some of them appear to be friendly, but as he suffers much and in various ways, most of them appear to be unfriendly, and these he tries to propitiate by prayer and sacrifice.

The next step, the perception of the necessity of a Maker, is borne ...

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