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There is not a more fruitful source of superstition to weak minds than dreams. Such are elated beyond measure when they think they have had a propitious dream! and again, how are they terrified and dejected when they inagine it to portend some evil!.. This is an abuse indeed: how much more rational would it be to live dependent upon the care and goodness of our heavenly Father, submitting all our concerns to his providence, and making his word our daily rule of action. Thus we should avoid many follies and many anxieties of mind: we should neither be elated without reason, nor be depressed without cause.
The great reason why people pay such regard to dreams as to make them a rule of action, is, their earnest wish to be acquainted with futurity. Such a wish is not only vain, but wicked, because it evidently betrays a want of confidence in God, and of submission to his government. Besides, it is evidently happy for us that we are ignorant of futurity, as the knowledge of it would often greatly depress our spirits, and unfit us for the various active duties of life. Nothing can be more futile and vain than the common mode of interpreting dreams, namely, by the rule of contraries. The words of the prophet apply fully to this point; · Let not your diviners that be in the midst of you deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams, which ye cause to be dreamed; but ye shall seek me, saith the Lord, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jer. xxix. 8-13.
There are very few dreams worth telling; how unfit and unprofitable is it, then, to relate them in company, and eagerly to listen to some senseless interpreta tion of them: yet this is too often the case with many religious persons. Rather, let our words be seascned with the salt of wisdom, administering instruction to the hearers.
Notwithstanding, God may, and I think does, at times, give a warning hint in' a dream; yet this is comparatively not often. And if at any
tiine we have had such a dream, yet we are never to depart from that rule of truth which God has given us in the Sacred Scriptures. It is an abuse of dreams, which has brought even such of them as are rational or divine into disrepute with many people.
I think it is a philosophical abuse of dreams which soine have fallen into, who, on account of the wildness and extravagancy of them, have concluded that thinking is merely a bodily action, being, as they say, the proper operation of the brain: hence they infer the materiality of the soul. It may be granted that rational thinking does depend upon a right disposition of the body, as an instrument; but surely a right disposition of the body is not the efficient cause of rational thinking. The state of the body may help or hinder thought, but cannot effect it. Light may be obscured or reflected by an interposing body, according to the nature of such body, but what body will cause light? Again, , some
would infer that ihere is no such thing as material substance in nature.;. because, say they, in our dreams, we have as strong impressions made upon our minds as when we are awake, yet it is granted that we have no bodily objects thet before us to cause these impressions, therefore there is no more reality in one case than in the other it is all visionary, -7 li jogi ?
The use of dreams is various, and chiefly of a practical nature. The difficulty of accounting for the cause of them has been already granted, and what has been said on that part of the subject has been advanced as probable rather than certain. I ain not averse to any thing better that may be said to elucidate the subject farther.
If so common a thing as a dream is attended with such difficulties as 10 divide phi'osophers in their sentiments upon it, so that none of them are certain of its cause, we may surely infer that our understandings are very weak and imperfect, and not, in all cases, capable of compassing the causes of things; for however clear facts may appear, yet their causes are so far out of our sight, that we at most can only guess at them: let this teach us modesty and humility, both in our conclusions and in our commerce with men : let it also act as a stimulus to our researches, to add diligence to our inquiries; but never let us come to positive conclusion without certain evidence.
While the senses are inactive, and the avenues of the body closed up, the soul is endowed with sense and perception : we have ofter. images ad impressions of a more lively nature when asleep, than when awake: may we not, therefore, conclude that the soul is immaterial and immortal? It is certain the soul is in a great measure independant on the body; for though the body be asleep, and not at all affected by the objects around it, the soul is often surprisingly active. Are they not, then, of distinct and different substances? Else why shall one be heavy, and wearied by the labours of the day, and the other be still disposed to action? Why does the one stand in need of such frequent help by rest and sleep, and the other disdain all rest, and want no restoratives? The soul has her distinct joys and sorrows, pleasures and pains, while the body is senseless and asleep; why then may she not have her enjoyments, pains, and employments when the body is in the grave ?
But the best use which we can make of our dreams, is, that they do in a great measure make known to us our own character. They not only discover much of our natural disposition, but also much of our moral tempers. In dreams we have no disguise, nature appears as it is; we wear, so to speak, our own natural colours. However we may restrain our strongest propensities when awake; yet in our visions we are off our guard. Ambition or humility, covetuousness or generosity, lust or chastity, revenge or forgiveness, will then be discovered without disguise : and the ruling passion of our souls will be made manifest. Here then a method offers itself of some improvement even of our sleeping hours; and if we will but mark the usual tenor of our dreams, we shall considerably increase in self knowledge.
A guilty conscience is the worst of evils. I pity that man who, when he retires to rest, is afraid of himself. His sleep is broken and disturbed. His dreams tormenting, and his retirements distressing: let such an one forsake the wickedạess of his way, and the unrighteousness of his thoughts, and let him return to God that he may find mercy, sq shall his days be virtuous, his nights serene, and his dreams pleasant.
Lastly, by night and by day let us reverence Jelovah. When we lie
down and when we arise, let us commit ourselves to him. He is about our path and about our bed, and spyeth out all our ways, and he is acquainted with all our thoughts; nothing is hidden from his eye. Let us realize his presence always; then, whether sleeping or waking. living or dying, we shall be always his.
P. S. The curious reader may consult, on the subject of dreams, Mr. Baxter's Inquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul-Bishop Newton's Dissertation on Dreams-Hartley on Man and Dr. Beattie's Essay on Dreams.
REBELLION AGAINST JEHOVAH
SUBJECTION TO HIM,
"The second Adam shall restore
QUOTATIONS. "If the blessed God should at any time, in consistence with his
glorious and incomprehensible perfections, release those wretched creatures from their acute pain and long imprisonment in hell, I think I ought chearfully and joyfully to accept of this appointment of God for the good of millions of my fellow creatures, and add my joys and praises to all the songs and triumphs of the heavenly world, in the day of such a divine and glorious release of prisoners.
“ The ways, indeed, of the great God, and his thoughts, are far above our thoughts and our ways, as the heavens are above the earth, yet I must rest and acquiesce where our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father's chief minister, both of his wrath and of his love, has left me in his divine revelation of Scripture, and am constrained, therefore, to leave thesc unhappy creatures under the chains of everlasting darkness, into which they have cast themselves by their wilful iniquities, till the blessed God shall see fit to release them : this would, indeed, be such a new, such an astonishing and universal jubilee, both for devils and wicked men, as must fill heaven, earth, and hell with hallelujahs of joy."
Dr. Watts, Pref. to Vol. ü. of The World to Come.
“ Acts, iii. 21. Whom the heavens must receive until the restitution of all things or restoration of all things, when all things shall be restored to that condition from which sin put them."
Eph.i. 10: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth, even in him.-—The meaning of the whole seems to be, that whereas the order and harmony of God's principal workınanship, intellectual creatures, angels and men, have been disturbed and broken by the entrance of sin into the world, all mankind, and many of the angels apostatized from hin, God would, in his appointed time, give Christ, the heir of all things, the honour of being the repairer of the breach, by gathering together again the disjointed members of the creation in and under Christ as their head."
“1 Tiin. ii. 6. He gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. The word here translated ransom signifies the laying down one's life to save another's; he paid a ransom worthy, to obtain the salvation of all men."
“ Heb. ii. 9. That he by the grace of God should taste death for erery man.—To render sin remissable to all men, and them salvable; God punishing man's sins in him, laying on him the iniquities of us all; and so God became propitious to all."
« We inay as well expect all the clocks in the town to strike at once, as that all good people will be of the same mind; it is not so much our differences, as our imprudent way of managing them, that produces the mischief."
Mr. Philip Henry.
* They bave rebelled against me." Isa. I. 2.'
Tiese words are a weighty sentence : the manner in which they are introduced calls for our serious attention. Jehovah, by the mouth of his servant the prophet, proclaiins, “ Hear, O heavens, and give ear, 0 earth ; for the Lord haih spoken : I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” The first verse informs us, that the text relates to the vision, which the prophet saw, concerning Judah and Jerusalem; and truly they were a rebellious people before the Lord, as is plain from the history of the nation of the Jews.
But it is my design to take up the subject in a more extensive point of view; and consider rebellion, not only as it relates to Israel, but attend to the subject at large. I shall therefore take notice,
1. Against whom this rebellion is.
And while I am employing my thoughts on this awful subject, eternal spirit, by thy blessed intluence, suitably impress my mind. The person, against whom this rebellion is, I
purpose first to consider. “ They have rebelled against Me," saith the Lord. Jehovah is the rightful sovereign of the universe. To him the intire right of sovereignty belongs, and in him ALL the perfections of sovereignty centre. He is infinitely perfect: there in no imperfection in him. His law, or rule of liis government, is in perfect unison with his nature ; it is holy just, and good. All its coinmands are perfectly wise and good; they are not like the commands of many wicked monarchs, which are better broken than kept, in which case a rebellion may be justifiable ; but the law of Jehovah is grounded on eternal principles of equity and truth.
This law is binding on All rational creatures which God has created. This is perfectly reasonable, tecause ALL had their being from him; “ in him we live, and move, and have our being.". And was it not for his upholding cạre we should return again to earth. It is impossible that there should be a creature without law to God: the worst absurdities would follow. A creature, under no obligations to God, could not be a creature of God: yea, such a creature would be a God itself. As every rational creature is under law to God, it follows, that a perfect obedience to the law of God is the proper duty of every creature. All the powers of the soul and body ought to be consecrated to Jehovah: the whole service of All creaturesis his due.
I proceed, secondly, to consider the nature of this rebellion. It is a rejection of the sovereignty of Jehovah; the language of it is, “we will not have him to reign over us." It is to oppose his government, to cast off his law, and instead of loving the Lord God, with all the powers of soul and body, it is to hate him, and place the affections on other things. llence wicked men are emphasically said to be, “ Haters of God." Instead of yielding that obedience to him which his righteous law demands, it is to reject his service, and, in fact, to declare for independance : or, what is worse, to oppose him, and trample underfoot his authority.
Suppose a king, whose laws were just and good, and who had a just right go the throne, should have subjects who cast off all allegiance to hiin, and seek to dethrone and destroy him : such subjects we should consider were intirely out of their proper place.. So in the case now under consideration, the creature leaves his proper place where he ought to be, and where God placed him, and casts off all allegiance to Jehovah; yea, does all in his power to dethrone him.
Thus the angels kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation; they broke the bond of union in which they stood, and instead of serving, honouring, and worshipping God their maker, they despised his authority, cast aside his law, and rebelled against him.
Man also trod in the same steps; the Almighty created him holy and happy : told him what he might, and what he might not do. He, instead VOL. IV. .