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tion of ordinary natural laws, or to the direct action of a supernatural Power, still the finger of God must equally be recognised by every candid mind as having overruled them to accomplish his providential purposes.
The phenomenon of dreams, for example, has been a fertile subject for discussion. Undoubtedly dreams, in the generality of instances, must be regarded as nothing more than new combinations of previously existing ideas-reflections of the past, rather than intimations of tlie future. Whatever be their origin, however, they have unquestionably, as will be proved by the following example, been the means, even in modern times, of conveying warnings of impending danger.
At Newark-upon-Trent, a custom we are informed was wont to be observed, and possibly is still retained, of distributing penny loaves to the poor on the 11th of March in each year, when a sermon on Providence was preached by the vicar in the parish church. The origin of this practice was as follows :-During the wars between king Charles and his parliament, the town of Newark was bombarded by the troops of the latter body. In the course of the siege, an alderman of the name of Clay
dreained for several nights in succession that his house was burned down. He at length resolved upon removing his family from it. Scarcely had he done so, when at dead of night it took fire, and burned with such fury that if his family had still inhabited it, they would alınost inevitably have perished. In token of gratitude for this marvellous preservation, and that this signal instance of Divine guardianship might not pass out of remembrance, he bequeathed two hundred pounds, the interest of which was to be divided between the vicar and the poor of the parish, on each recurring anniversary of his escape.
The late Dr. Abercromby of Edinburgh, whose piety, medical skill, and philosophical acumen secured for him a deservedly high reputation, details a dream which was attended with results no less remarkable than those just inentioned. “A clergyman," he says, “had come to the Scottish metropolis from a short distance in the country, and was sleeping at an inn, when he dreamed that he saw a fire, and one of his children in the midst of it. He awoke with the impression, and instantly left town to return home. When he arrived within sight of his house, he found it on fire, and got there
in time to assist in saving one of his children, who, in the alarm and confusion, had been left in a situation of danger."
The following anecdote, he adds, “I am enabled to give as entirely authentic :-A lady dreamed that an aged female relative had been murdered by a black servant; and the dream occurred more than once. She was then so impressed by it, that she went to the house of the lady to whom it related, and prevailed upon a gentleman to watch in an adjoining room during the following night. About three in the morning, the gentleman hearing footsteps on the stair left his place of concealinent, and met the servant carrying up a quantity of coa Being questioned as to vhere he was going, he replied, in a hurried and confused manner,
that he was about to mend his mistress's fire, which at that hour, in the middle of the summer, was evidently impossible; and on further investigation, a strong knife was found concealed beneath the coals."
In our first chapter we have mentioned the remarkable manner in which, through a dream, Mr. Tyerman's life was preserved, and devoted to missionary duties. Another example of an equally striking character is recorded in the
life of Mr. Kirchener, who laboured as an Evangelist in Africa. Upon one occasion he was visited at his station in Caffraria by a man of bad character, but who affected deep religious concern, and by that means induced Mr. Kirchener to allow him to remain for the night, that they might converse together in the morning. They retired to rest, but after sleeping some time, the missionary started up with a loud cry. He had been awoke by a frightful dream, and found his visitor standing by his bed-side with an uplifted knife in his hand, and on the point of murdering him. The man, startled by the sudden awakening of his intended victim, drew back and slunk away, He afterwards confessed that his design was to murder his unsuspecting host, and then ransack the premises.
Though the incident which follows refers to a deliverance from a danger of a different character from those just referred to, yet it illustrates in a remarkable manner the truth now under review, and bears upon itself the stamp of genuineness.
Thomas Hownham lived in a lonely house or hut upon Barmour Moor, about two miles from Doddington in Northumberland. He was
a very poor man, and had no means to support a wife and two children except the scanty earnings obtained by keeping an ass to carry coals from Barmour coal-mill to Doddington and Wooler; or by making brooms of heath, and selling them about the country. But he was one of those poor who are “rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him." He was a man of prayer. “My parents "-says the relater "
"of the circumstances about to be detailed “ lived at a village about a mile and a half from his hut. I had frequent interviews with Hownham, and on one occasion he was very anxious to know whether
father or mother had sent him any relief on the night before. I answered himn in the negative as far as I knew, at which he seemed to be uneasy. I then pressed to know what relief he had found, and how? Hownham then (after requesting secresy, unless I should hear of it from some other quarter) related the following remarkable particulars:—He had been disappointed of receiving some money he had expected for coals on the day before, and on
* They will be found quoted at length from the Cottage Magazine in the Church of England Magazine, vol. i. p. 268.