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“ Children of an idle brain,
Turning his face to the dew-dropping south." We can hardly, therefore, think so ill of the intelligence of our readers, as to suppose that they will attach serious importance to the wild and fantastic wanderings of the thoughts in sleep, or that they will allow their dreaming fancies seriously to influence their waking conduct. Yet we have seen, on unquestionable evidence, that dreams have sometimes a premonitory and providential character.
* It would be difficult perhaps to state more clearly the rules which prudence and piety alike dictate in this matter than has been done by Mr. Sheppard, in his “Essay on Dreams.”
“One would say generally-Be very slow in permitting any dream to prompt or guide your conduct. And yet we cannot contend that this rule admits of no exception. For a dream may be so striking and monitory, by its peculiar distinctness, and still more by its reiteration; and the act or precaution it prompts may be of so lawful and blameless a character, as to make the adoption of it more than justifiable. We cannot censure the lady at Edinburgh, who procured a friendly sentinel for her aged relative; and we commend the clergyman who hastened home in the night to save his children from flames.
“But we should of course say most decidedly-Wherever the dream counsels or enjoins what is contrary to the supreme rule of Scripture, or what is at variance with sound reason and prudence, or favours the dictates of passion or fancy, discard it utterly as a vain and dangerous illusion. Indeed
We now proceed to adduce a few out of the numerous well-attested instances in which peril has been warded off by some remarkable impression on the mind, giving a presentiment of danger.
This subject, like the phenomenon of dreams, is invested, when viewed as a metaphysical question, with many difficulties. Nothing apthere is all reason to conclude, that the dreams of some ardent minds were first prompted and created by the ruling passion, and then stirred and impelled that passion itself into strenuous and confident action. Such, perhaps, were the dreams of Hannibal, prompting him to invade Italy, and of Timur urging him on in his career of devastating war.
These men, both when awake and in their slumbers, were under the influence of a restless ambition; it produced their visions, an:1 then seized on them to stimulate and justify its own acts.
“Thus examples give great weight to the general rule, that it is, usually, most unsafe and unwarrantable to act on such suggestions. When dreams are so extraordinary, and so linked with ensuing events as to be distinguished from the throng of those which are “vanities,” they are mainly to be regarded in the light of corroborative enforcements to the great doctrine of God's overruling providence and the dictates of his word. Like miracles and prophecies, such dreams are primarily meant to induce that livelier persuasion of the Divine government, which gives increased force to all the monitions of conscience and of Scripture. If there be a sequence of events whose undeniable accordance with your dream compels you to assign to it a predictive or premonitory character,-then take, thoughtfully and thankfully, the privilege of this added confirmatory indication that a hidden but omniscient Power governs our faculties and the events around us; suggests ideas and imagery to the mind; foresees and guides in wisdom the intricate and countless diversities of human affairs."
pears at first sight more irregular or less subject to law than the human thoughts, rising as they do apparently at random, and following often a discursive course. Yet undoubtedly thought is subject to laws as perfect as those which govern any other portion of the Creator's kingdom. What we call sudden thoughts and impressions may therefore often proceed from some mental associations, the links of which we do not at the instant perceive. But, as in the case of dreams, whether we give to such thoughts a natural or supernatural origin, they are unquestionably at times employed by God to work out a providential design, and have been frequently in his hands the means of deliverance froin danger.
Among the many remarkable escapes of John Knox, the Scottish reformer, from death, one occurred in the following manner. his habit to occupy a 'chair at the head of the table at supper, whilst his family and guests sat down the sides. A window which opened into the street was just behind the accustomed seat. One night Knox refused to sit there himself, nor would he allow any one else to
For this singular deviation from his ordinary custom he could assign no particular
reason, but so he would have it; the chair which was placed there for him as usual, was, however, allowed to remain. As they were at supper, a bullet came through the window, grazed the top of the chair, and pierced the candlestick which stood before it. If he had followed his almost invariable custom, and occupied the place at which the assassin aimed, the ball must have passed through his head.
Stilling relates the following very curious fact, as having happened to Böhm, professor of mathematics at Marburg, who being one evening in company, was seized with a sudden, irresistible persuasion that he ought to go home. As, however, he was spending the evening very pleasantly with soine friends, and had nothing to do at home, he resisted the impression ; but it returned with such force that at length he was obliged to act upon it. On reaching his house he found everything as he had left it; but he now felt a strong desire to remove his bed from the place where it ordinarily stood to the other side of the room. As this new impulse seemed more vain and absurd than the former, he resisted this also, but at length yielded to it likewise. Summoning the maid, they together removed the bed, and then the professor returned to join his friends for the remainder of the evening. The party broke up and Böhm retired to rest. In the middle of the night he was awakened by a loud crash ; starting up in bed, he saw that a large beam had fallen, bringing part of the ceiling with it, on the exact spot where he would have been lying, but for the impulse of the previous evening.
Credulous and superstitious as Stilling may have been, no one will question his veracity; and the foregoing narrative is so circumstantially given, and with so much precision of detail, that we can hardly reject it without at the same time denying the truthfulness of the narrator. The improbability of the incident is greatly diminished by a somewhat similar case, for the authenticity of which the writer can vouch.
Towards the close of the last century, in Birmingham, during a very heavy gale of wind, a large stack of chimneys fell, carrying with them the side of a house. On a narrow slip of flooring, in a corner of one of the demolished rooms, stood a young girl, a servant in the family, who stated that a mysterious and inexplicable impulse had led her to fly there the