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DENUNCIATIONS OF FALSE PROPHETS.
dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies ? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams, which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream: and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat ? saith the Lord, Is not my word like as a fire ? saith the Lord ; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces ? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord” (Jer. xxiii. 16, 25—32). Many other passages of like purport might be cited from Jeremiah, who, however, does not stand alone in the grave sorrow of his admonitions to alienated Israel. The prophet Zechariah has the following: “For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain” (Zech. x. 2).
Now if the dreams suggested by God or by good angels were obnoxious to the liability of being counterfeited by the deyil and his confederates, it was necessary to have certain recognized principles by which their divine or their satanic suggestion could be determined. These principles, as laid down by Moses Amyraldus, were few and simple. This author, it may be parenthetically remarked, had a very decided penchant for considering the ordinary dreams of men as the effects of angelic operation, good or evil, on the mind of the dreamer; an opinion in which he is much favoured by Bishop Ken and others. Amyraldus, paraphrasing and groupįng together the tests given in the Bible, ruled that one proof
of a dream being of divine authenticity, whether directly communicated or by angelic ministration, was that it conveyed intimations of such things as it was competent for God only to know and to reveal.
The dreams, again, of which good angels were the patrons, necessarily conduced to piety. “The images imprinted by good angels upon the fancy never contained anything of idolatry or pagan superstition, whereas those which proceeded from evil ones were commonly full of it; for in these there was always some representation of false gods, or something which concerned their worship, or some other vision of that nature, which denoted the author of the dream to be willing to authorize idolatry or superstition, from which the inclination of good angels was always very distinct.”
The dreams caused by evil angels did always, or for the most part, induce to some evil actions, which those originating with good angels could never do. “That which might render the discovering between these two more doubtful or more difficult is, that upon various occasions, angels of darkness might transform themselves into angels of light, and endeavour to impose upon the credulity of the faithful” by causing them to have dreams, seemingly good or indifferent, but subtilely and secretly having some evil tendency or capability of being used for evil purposes.
(3.) Of the third class of dreams we have said that they are to be judged indifferently, being barely and indifferently narrated. It
may be well at once to qualify this indifference as a verbal and formal one. The word is intended to express only that the sacred text does not announce for these dreams anything Divine about their external mechanism; and that their claims to Divine anthenticity must rest upon their internal evidence. Thus the dream of Jacob (Gen. xxviii. 10—15), remarkable as it is for the encouraging truth of its pregnant and magnificent symbolism, may, in default of an express declaration of its origin, be judged indifferently by, so to say, a secular canon, and one altogether different from
that applicable to those dreams of which it is stated that “the Lord” or “the angel of the Lord” appeared in them. It would be a long task fully and minutely to discuss the illustrious vision of the fugitive and sleeping patriarch. It is nearly sufficient to insist upon the fact that it is the mind of the dreamer, and not God or his angels, that takes the initiative in the pageant. For aught that appears, the reality of the vision was a subjective rather than an objective one. God does not appear, but is seen; it is discovery rather than mani. festation. Under what influence or guidance soever it might be that the imagination of the dreamer, unfettered by will, was called out to act, there would seem to have been an effort, in some way God-originated, on the part of the lower to ascend to the higher, and not of the higher, in the first instance, to let itself down to the lower. The ladder is set up on earth and reaches to heaven; whereas the method of pure revelation demands a proceeding the converse of this—that the ladder should be suspended from above; for, although the safer method of man be the inductive, the grander method of the Infinite God is ever, if not necessarily, deductive.
The dreams of Joseph, while yet at home with his family, though they were afterwards seen to have foreshadowed his future advancement, rested at the time of their occurrence with no other effect than that of inflaming and perpetuating the envy of his brethren and the uncertain speculations of his father (Gen. xxxvii.) Yet upon these dreams, as afterwards apon
the dreams of the chief butler and the chief baker of the king of Egypt, and the dream of Pharaoh himself, depended the plans which God had elected to observe for the trial, the ed ion, and the government generally, of his people Israel. Of the foregoing dreams, as of those by the interpretation of which Daniel distinguished himself over the wise men of Babylon, it will be observed that they were not sent capriciously or without a purpose; and that, if not to the dreamer, then to some other more worthy person, the solution of the
PERTINENCE OF SCRIPTURE DREAMS.
dream was given at, for practical purposes, the same time as the dream itself. Further, they bore this mark of divinity, that no rules of the quasi-science of interpretation could avail to exhibit or to detect their meaning; God was “his own interpreter,” and Himself made plain their message and significance.
ON DREAMS AS BEING SENT BY GOD.
“Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream” (Num. xii. 6).
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel ii. 28).
“Dreams descend from Jove” (Iliad, book i. 63).
“In the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers ranities” (Eccles. v. 7).
“Songes sont mensonges” (French Proverb).
It will be seen that the foregoing quotations range between the opposite poles of faith and infidelity as to the significance of dreams, so far as that depends on their presumed origin. But none of the propositions, except the medium or indifferent one from Ecclesiastes, are universal ones, or intended to be so. Neither did any generation ever hold the divine origin of all dreams, to the exclusion of every other theory. In all times there have been men severally characterized by credulity, by unbelief, and by a philosophical scepticism which refused to commit itself. We bave seen that inspired saints of the old Jewish dispensation knew how to recognize the worthlessness of the mere flitting brain-clouds, which Solomon understood to arise from the “multiplicity of business." And Homer was aware of the necessity of distinguishing between the õvap or the övelpos, the messenger of Jove, and itself a subordinate divinity, and the mere meaningless évÚTvioV which was incidental to any sleeping individual. In all ages some men have