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story, it is needful to observe here also, that as it has pleased God to appear in this manner, and to cause angels to appear also in the same manner, and upon special occasions, so I make no question but the Devil often appears in dreams too: and I might give but too many examples of it, as particularly one in the Scripture.
It is apparent that God gave Satan a kind of general license to afflict Job, only not to kill him ; with such a terrible commission it might be expected the Devil would fall upon him with the utmost fury he was capable of, or at least that he was allowed to take; he ruined his fortunes, reduced him to misery, murdered his children, tormented him with boils and sores; in short, left him nothing but potsherds, and an ill wife, to relieve him; and as he had worried him, to use a modern phrase, within an inch of his life, he followed him in the night with apparition, lest he should recruit nature with rest, and be a little refreshed with sleep. Job himself complains of it; Job vii. 14, Thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me with visions. Not that God appeared to Job in any frightful or terrible form ; but the Devil, to whom God was pleased to give a liberty of afflicting Job, took that liberty, and exerted his malice to the utmost in such a manner. We are not indeed told what methods the Devil took to scare and terrify
sed sufferer; but as he can show us nothing uglier and more frightful than himself, so it is very likely he appeared to him in person, and that in the most surprising manner possible, with all the circumstances of horror that he was able.
It is thought by some, who critically note that part of the text where Pilate's wife warned her husband to have nothing to do in condemning Christ to be crucified, that it was the Devil that stirred her up to oppose it. Satan, as soon as he perceived that the death of Christ, however intended for mischief
by the Jews, and pursued violently by them in their rage and malice at our Lord personally, was yet a thing appointed by the determinate counsel of God, for the salvation of mankind; I say, as soon as he perceived that part, which it is probable he did not know before, he strove all he could to prevent it; and as fierce as he had been to irritate the Jews before, and raise their fury and malice
up to a pitch, even to almost caballing the governor into it, now he underhand strove to prevent it, and used this stratagem among others, by attacking Pilate's wife in the night, and setting her to persuade her husband that he was going to deliver up an innocent person to gratify the Jews; and that he should have a care what he did, Matt. xxvii. 19. When he was set down on the judgment-seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream, because of him.
Whether it was so or not, it is very probable the many things she suffered must be from the Devil; because Heaven, by whose determinate counsel and foreknowledge the death of Christ was appointed, would have done nothing to have prevented or interrupted his own appointment.
Now as the dreams in those days, and our dreams at this time, are exceeding different; and that as our heads are so full of impertinent thoughts in the day, which in proportion crowd the imagination at night, so our dreams are trifling and foolish ; how shall we do to know when they are to be taken notice of, and when not? when there is a real apparition haunting us, or showing itself to us, and when not? in a word, when an angel, or when a devil, appears to us in a dream ?
It is a nice question, and as it does not particularly relate to the present inquiry, so it would require too long a digression to discourse critically
upon it: but I shall dismiss it with this short answer; We must judge, as I said before in the case of open apparitions, by the weight, and by the nature of the message or errand which the apparition comes about; evil messengers
of good errands, and angels good or bad seldom come on trifling messages.
Trifling dreams are the product of the mind being engaged in trilling matters ; a child dreams of its play, a housewife dreams of her kitchen, a nurse of the children, a tradesman of his shop; these have nothing of apparition in them; nothing of angels or spirits, God or devil ; but when dream comes up to vision, and the soul is embarked in a superior degree, to a commerce above the ordinary rate, then you may conclude you have had some extraordinary visiters, that you have been in some good or bad company in the night, and you are left to judge of what kind, by the substance or tenor of the vision. If it be to open the understanding, to increase knowledge, to seal instruction; in a word, if it is for direction to good actions, or stirring up the soul of man to perform his duty to God or man, it is certainly from above; it is an apparition from God, it is a vision of angels and good spirits. Job xxxiii. 15. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed.
If it be an allurement to vice, laying before you an opportunity to steal, presenting an object of beauty, an enticement to commit an unlawful action ; depend upon it it is from the dark regions, it is an apparition of the Devil, and he employs his agents and perhaps attends in person to draw you into mischief.
N. B. Here it is worth a wise man's considering, whether the Devil representing a temptation to any person in a dream, and the person complying, he is not guilty of the fact as really as if he had been
awake; I leave it only as a head of reflection : for example,
The Devil, subtle in his contrivance, as well as vigilant in application of circumstances, knows a man to be in perplexed circumstances, distressed for want of money, a perishing family, a craving necessity; he comes in his sleep and presents him with a little child dressed up with jewels of a great value, and a purse of gold in its hand, and all this as happening in a place perfectly opportune for the purpose, the nurse having negligently left the child out of her sight.
As he presents the temptation, he stands at the person's elbow; prompts him; says, Take away that chain or string of pearl, and the purse, the child is alone, it can tell no tales, take it quickly; are not you in distress, and do you not want it at this me to an extremity, and can any one ever discover it ? the child's friends are rich, it will do them no hurt ; if they valued such things, they would never have put them about a little child, it is no great matter to them; besides it is due to their vanity and ostentation, which was the only reason of dressing up a little child in such a manner. Come, come, take it up quickly, it may save you from ruin, and as soon as you are able, you may make them satisfaction again, and so discharge your conscience. The man, unable to resist the snare, consents, strips the innocent child of its ornaments, and goes away unseen ; but in a moment or two wakes with the surprise, sees it is a cheat, and looks back on it with a double regret. lst, That he is disappointed of the prize which he wanted, and fancied himself relieved by. 2ndly, That the Devil triumphs over him, and he is both deluded into the crime, and deceived in the expectation of its reward.
I could give this in the form of a relation of fact, and give evidence of the truth of it; for I had the
account of it from the person's own lips, who was attacked in sleep, and (as he said with a sincere affliction) yielded to the temptation ; and I committed the barbarous robbery, said he, with the utmost resentment; I plundered and stripped the poor smiling infant, who innocently played with me when I took off its ornaments, gave me the purse of gold out of its little pocket, and bid me keep it for her to play with. I robbed it, says he, in my imagination, and deserve as much to be hanged for it, as if I had actually committed the horrid fact at noon-day; Ay, says he, with a kind of tremor in his conscience from the horror of the fact, I ought to be hanged for it, and to be damned for it too, for I as really and effectually did it, as if I had been apprehended and carried to Newgate for it.
It is true it gave him a particular satisfaction with respect to his personal safety, that he had not committed the fact; but it gave him no less trouble in his conscience, than if he had been actually guilty.
What was this but an apparition of the Devil, a real, visible apparition ; visible to the mind, though not to the body? and that in a double capacity too, the Devil without in the temptation, and the Devil within yielding to it.
I know another living example of this kind, and I had that part too from the person himself: he was a sober, religious gentleman; he was, in the letter of it, a single man; for though he had been unhappily married, he lived in a separate state from his wife, and, to say no more of it, upon a justifiable occasion, namely, that his wife was wickedly gone away, as he supposed, with another man.
Before he was married to the unhappy woman, he had loved a very handsome, beautiful lady, and had gone so far as to court her a long time for marriage ; but some difficulty in their circumstances