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CLASSIFICATION OF PHILO.
from which we may by and by find it convenient to quote, has his own peculiar theory and classification; and Philo Judæus, to go back for more than a decade and a half of centuries, in his treatise “ On Dreams being sent from God,” where he confines his attention to such Biblical revelations as seemed to him to come under that category, discriminated them as follows:-"The first kind of dream was that which proceeded from God, as the author of its motion, and, in some invisible manner, prompted us what was indistinct to us, but well known to Himself. The second kind was when our own intellect was set in motion simultaneously with the soul of the universe, and became filled with divine madness, by means of which it is allowed to prognosticate events which are about to happen; and for this reason the interpreter of the sacred will very plainly and clearly speaks of dreams, indicating by this expression the visions which appear according to the first species, as if God, by means of dreams, gave suggestions which were equivalent to distinct and precise oracles. visions according to the second species Moses speaks neither very clearly nor very obscurely; an instance of which is afforded by the vision which was exhibited of the ladder reaching up to heaven-for this vision was an enigmatical one; nevertheless, the meaning was not hidden from those who were able to see with any great acuteness.
“The third species of dreams exists whenever, in sleep, the mind being set in motion by itself, and agitating itself, is filled with frenzy and inspiration, so as to predict future events by a certain prophetic power. But these visions which are afforded according to the third species of dreams, being less clear than the two former kinds, by reason of their having an enigmatical meaning deeply seated and fully coloured, require the science of an interpreter of dreams. At all events, all the dreams of this class which are recorded by the lawgiver, are interpreted by men who are skilled in the aforesaid art.
“Whose dreams, then, am I here alluding to ? Surely,
every one must see to those of Joseph, and of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and to those which the chief baker and the chief butler saw themselves.”
(1.) The first class of Scripture dreams, according to our arrangement, varied as they were illustrated by a divine or by an angelic manifestation. Of the former, or theophanic variety, an instance occurs in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Genesis, where, after Abimelech, king of Gerar, had taken Sarah, the wife of Abraham, on that patriarch's representation that she was his sister, “God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man,
for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife.” Here the dignus vindice nodus was that of preventing a just man from committing, in the integrity of his heart, a heinous but involuntary offence.
In the same manner it is recorded (Gen. xxxi. 24) that “God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.” This was an instance of the tutelary care of God over his servant Jacob against the mustered family and retainers of his father-in-law, who righteously figures in the contextual narrative as an outwitted shuffler.
“In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee" (1 Kings iii. 5). Upon which the young king, passing by the temptation to petition for material advantages, pleaded the responsibilities of his royal position, and prayed, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may
discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great people ? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing ” (1 Kings iii. 9, 10).
In these cases there seems to have been no hesitation or deliberation on the part of the dreamer to accept the matter of the dreams as coming directly from God as an actual interlocutor. In the case of Solomon we observe that he accepts as already in his enjoyment the blessings-riches unprecedented
and length of days—which God promises shall accompany that wisdom which he has, with most wise humility, demanded at His hands. The king waits for no confirmation, but, supremely confident of the authenticity of the promises made to him in his dream, “came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants” (1 Kings, iii. 15). It is argued by Moses Amyraldus, that all divine communications in this kind carry with them their own authentication, as being self-discriminating from everything else. “We may boldly affirm,” he says, “ both that those dreams had some marks by which they might be known to be Divine, and also that it was necessary that they should have such marks; although we do not certainly know wherein those marks consisted.” The dream and its divine origin and sanction seem to have been given together in consciousness, so that there was no place left for the intervention of any operation of the judgment; like as the wind and its direction are simultaneously discovered.
The other variety of the divine dream is that which is effected mediately through the presence and instrumentality of celestial messengers; where the theophanic manifestation is substituted by an angelic apparition. “And the angel of God,” says Jacob, in explaining to his wives the necessity of their flight from Padan-aram, “spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob; and I said, Here am I” (Gen. xxxi. 11). After this declaration the patriarch proceeds to narrate the command which had followed for his departure.
When Joseph, espoused to Mary, was debating how he might avoid the scandal of publicly proclaiming the suspected frailty of his betrothed, and "was minded to put her away privily. . . . behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. i. 19, 20).
PRETENSIONS OF THE DEVIL.
These dreams seem to have been their own credentials in as eminent a degree, practically, as those of which it is said “God appeared,” or “the Lord appeared ;” and to have met with an acceptance as completely free from doubt or demur as they. Indeed, looking especially to the dream of Joseph, the transcendently important object of which was to defend the purity of the conception of Jesus, it may not be improper to infer that the only cause for differencing it from the others which, with a greater degree of verbal explicitness, are said to have been consecrated and even organized by a manifestation of the Deity, was an accidental difference of the phraseology employed in its narration. Joseph was a second time “warned of God in a dream,”—an expression by which the alternatives of Divine or angelic presence are left undecided, and which, in fact, does not necessarily include either; and still a third time a revelation from heaven was vouchsafed, when “the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him” (Matt. ii. 12, 13).
It will be remarked that neither God nor good angel ever informed a dream which was not to answer some moral, didactic, benevolent, or grand economical purpose. The aimless prurience that would pry into futurity, the impertinent curiosity that irrationally set itself up as. an end to itself, never received any the slightest honour or encouragement, nor ever set in motion the meanest of the heavenly hierarchy.
(2.) But as most good things, just in proportion to their value and dignity, give rise to counterfeits, and as the devil is unresting in his endeavours to subvert or distract the kingdom of God, it was natural that designing men, his agents, ambitious of personal aggrandisement, or greedy of material emolument, should set up as interpreters of the Divine will and purposes on the strength of their own inventions, tact, or foresight, or in
GOODNESS OF NECESSITY AND OF CHOICE.
reliance on the false pretensions of evil spirits, to a knowledge of futurity and a power over destiny. The tendency to such a profession had already been made apparent in fact, or seen ae a future probability by the distance-searching eye of Moses, when he cautioned the people of Israel against those prophets who, so long after as the time of Jeremiah, exercised their profession as vendors of dreams, visions, and divinations. "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. xiii. 1–3). The words in italics call to mind the apostolic injunction : “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John iv. 1). An undiscriminating goodness, a goodness of necessity and without an alternative, is a comparatively insipid virtue; and that is most real which, after essaying to disentangle the right from the wrong, elects to abide by the former. Thus, while we as men confess ourselves lower than our fellow-servants the angels, it is a proud thing, amidst our hazards, 'to think that we, although in a less magnificent service, are probably in a more picturesque position than they, and one which gives an opportunity of demonstrating, under fierce and chronic temptations, rectitude of character and conduct of a kind morally more grand than theirs.
The second class of dreams are chiefly to be found stated abstractly, or by way of allusion and warning; and scarcely ever emerge above the horizon in the shape of particular instances. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you; they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the moath of the Lord. . . . I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have