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sition of a supernatural agency. We shall subjoin some facts upon this subject, extracted from a recent popular work by Mr. Fraser; and whoever has read the works of the Ettrick Shepherd and Mrs. Grant will remember many similar.
“I resided in Skye, where, in addition to the glebe which was attached to my residence, I rented a small farm. A friend from abroad, who had lately returned to Britain, had promised me a visit, and I had just stepped down to the public-house of a little toon, or village, hard by, and near the sea, to inquire whether any tidings of him had been yet received. There was a group of country people seated by the fire, who made way at my approach, and, rising up with the usual Highland salutation, invited me to be seated. Just as I was complying, one of them, the servant of a neighbouring gentleman, suddenly started, gave a heavy convulsive shudder, his eyes rolled, and he dropped on the ground. His companions ran to him, picked him up, and eagerly commenced their inquiries as to what had happened. One of them, who knew that the man was a tuishtear, desired them all to be quiet, and not to attempt rousing him from the fit, until the dark hour should be past. They accordingly desisted; but the seer himself exclaimed, that he saw the deevil lying a weet corpse by the side of an honest man, in the middle of the floor. All who were present looked round with considerable horror and apprehension. Nothing of course was to be seen ; and the man coming soon to himself, no more was said at the time. Three days afterwards, a boat coming from Loch Alsh, in which the servant and part of my friend's luggage had embarked for Skye, was upset in a squall; the servant, a Negro man, and one of the boatmen, were drowned, and, their bodies being washed ashore, were brought to the public-house, and laid down upon the floor, just on the spot to which the seer had pointed. The gentleman himself, having come to the shorter ferry of Kyle-rea, reached my house in safety. Now the remarkable circumstance in this instance is, that the man, having never seen a Negro, could not possibly have conceived the idea of one being laid out there, and we see that he consequently imagined him to be the evil spirit, from his sable hue: even I was ignorant that my friend had a Negro servant, so that it was perfectly impossible there could have been collusion or imposture in the business.”
In this instance the information was communicated in a trance; in the following example, from another part of the country, the mode of instruction is not related.
“ The old road from one part of the parish, where I resided, some years ago, to the church which I attended, had fallen into disuse, in consequence of the substitution of a new road in a better line. To complete this road, a bridge had been formed over a stream, which cut off a considerable circuit; and this road
had been for many years in general use by all the inhabitants of the parish. In spite of this notorious fact, a seer, who dwelt in a neighbouring hamlet, declared, that, returning late one evening towards home, he had seen corpse-lights arise from a cluster of houses about two miles distant, and proceed by the old line of road to the churchyard. He was circumstantial enough in his account of the matter, and assured those to whom he mentioned it, that he could distinguish the dusky habiliments of the bearers, and even the coffin itself, borne along and covered with a plaid. As I was well known to be a curious inquirer into these matters, the affair was immediately reported to me. I took the pains to examine a little into the circumstances, and remonstrated with the seer upon the improbability that a burial would take any other than the customary highway for getting to the churchyard. But he persisted in his prediction, adding, that I should myself ere long be compelled to acknowledge its truth. Strange as it may seem, that very evening I was requested to go and see a very decent man, å dry-stone-mason, who some time before had injured himself so seriously as that his life was despaired with. I found him in a hopeless state; a vessel had burst in his lungs; and before the night closed he was suffocated in his own blood. The funeral took place after the lapse of the customary time; but it was still more remarkable, that on the preceding day a fall of rain caused so heavy a flood in the stream, as not only to carry off the bridge, but to tear up the new road so grievously that the funeral was absolutely forced to proceed by the old one, as the most practicable of the two; while I waited near the church to witness the procession, and saw it winding along the path described by my prophetic friend, the seer.
One other anecdote must suffice.
“ The climate of Skye is so rainy, that farmers there are always anxious to take advantage of a blink of sunshine to gather in their harvest. One autumn I had gathered together a large band of shearers; and as I was watching the riggs of corn falling fast before them, my attention was particularly attracted by one young woman, who was advanced far a-head of her companions, and was laughing and cheering them on. The old hands were all loud in her applause, and I could not help remarking to an old banster who was near me, What an excellent shearer that girl is—how clean and how well she does her work !'
« « If she shears weel the day,' replied the man, she'll never shear again.'
Why that?' said I ; 'the woman seems in excellent health : why should she not come to work again ?'
Weel, sir, whatever ye may think, its truth I'm saying; I ken that ye dinna put much belief in thae things; but mind my
words, for ye'll see they're true—'ore this day eight days that lassie 'll be a corpse-I seed the winding-sheet high above her middle it's no an hour syne; and I never seed that, and ken't them living a week.'
“Well,' said I, all that may be, and yet you never a bit the better prophet: I have often heard you foretel such things, and no doubt some of them have come to pass; but, as you say, I have little belief in this rare power of second sight. Now here's an opportunity to convince me, perhaps: this woman may die, as you have said, but how am I to know that you really foresaw it? give me some token by which I may be made sure of this.'
“ The man paused, and his face assumed an anxious expression. Weel, sir,' replied he at last, I dinna just like playing wi' sic things—its no just canny-but it's no for the like o' me to deny what ye require ; so by this token ye'll ken that I tell nothing but what I see. When they go to lift the corpse, to bring it out o' the house, such a man will be at the head, and such and such others will take the right and left shoulders,' mentioning the names of the individuals, with whom I was well acquainted. His solemn warning respecting the poor girl made a stronger impression upon me than I cared to admit, even to myself and assuredly it was not lessened, when I learned that its unfortunate object, whether from over-exertion on that very day, and being over-heated, or from some other cause, had been taken ill the same night on her return home. I saw her soon after, and nothing in my power was neglected to relieve her; but, in spite of every effort to check the fever, it increased so rapidly, that the poor girl was, as the taishtear predicted, a corpse.
“ So remarkable a coincidence was of itself sufficiently startling; but I resolved to carry the proof to the uttermost; and for this purpose I conceived the idea of putting the taishtear in the wrong, at least in one respect. I determined to attend the funeral myself; and as such a compliment would necessarily give me some influence in the arrangements of the ceremony, I purposed to use it in frustrating the
predicted position of the bearers. I offered myself as one of the mourners, to take up the right shoulder of the corpse, when they should carry it from the hearse. My offer was accepted with gratitude, and we all awaited the moment of lifting. Just before the signal was given, however, I observed a large dog, belonging to one of the party, fly furiously upon a favourite terrier of mine, which had accompanied me to the house, and, alarmed for his safety, I ran to part them. When I returned, I found the corpse had already been lifted, and the very persons named by the seer at their respective places, among whom was the man at the right shoulder, who had actually taken the position I purposed to occupy.”
The author, in a note to p. 120, vol. ii. vouches for the authenticity of these narratives, and offers to give reference to many unimpeachable witnesses to the truth of the facts recorded.
It is not easy to distinguish between visions given by the Lord, as one mean by which his Spirit pleads with men, and those given by Satan, when there is nothing to shew their subsequent bearing upon the lives and characters of the persons who witnessed them. But it is generally to be inferred, where they are of no application to the interests of God's church, and where the individuals themselves are not persons dwelling much in God's counsels, that they proceed from a lying spirit of divination. There is also great reason to doubt whether evil spirits do know things to come. The Lord seems to challenge confidence to himself upon this very ground. Isai. xli. 21 : “ Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the God of Jacob; let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen : let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come : shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know ye are gods. Athanasius observes, “Non enim ea quæ non dum fieri cæpta sunt referunt dæmones, quia Dominus solus est conscius futurorum, sed quorum conspicuerent in actu initium eorum, tanquam fures sibi vindicunt notionem.” (In vita Anto.) There is a curious old volume written by Henry Howard earl of Northampton, who is said by Walpole to be " the learnedest amongst the nobility, and the most noble amongst the learned,” in which the author maintains that devils are able to foretel future events only in the same manner that old men can discern, from their experience of many past occurrences, the probable issue of other trains of circumstances which they see in progress; which opinion appears to coincide with that of Athanasius above mentioned.
Satan seems to labour hard, with men of every variety of natural disposition, to procure for himself the first place in their thoughts. If they are of a sceptical turn, he persuades them more easily of his own non-existence than of atheism : if they are of a fearful and superstitious turn, then he gets himself to be the great object of their alarms: if they are of a light and joyous temperament, then he contrives to get himself and his deeds laughed at, and considered an object of mirth and drollery : in each case he has the pre-eminence. In the present days he has induced, amongst every class, whether philosophers or religionists, a practical disbelief of his existence as a distinct person; whereas he is not only this, but the leader of many legions of distinct persons, all full of power and malignity, perpetually used against the bodies and souls of men.
It would not be difficult to shew that the power of Satan has been manifested, in every age and country, in direct proportion to the ignorance which has prevailed of the power of Jesus of Nazareth. Hence, when modern infidelity has succeeded in banishing from the present generation all belief in the Lord's power, and has done this upon a wide and systematic scale, the people will be in the same, or perhaps in a worse, condition than they are now in Africa or China. Symptoms of this are not wanting already in France, where magic and sorcery are shewing themselves in many quarters. A French clergyman lately informed us, that he was present at a party where a conjuror, after reading certain passages of Holy Scripture, made a key turn round by which answers were given to various questions proposed by the company. Naturally supposing some trick, he requested that the key might be placed in his own hand, when, to his great surprize and horror, the same phenomenon occurred; upon which he left the assembly.
The practical reflection to be made from the preceding instances, is the fearful condition in which the Evangelical opposers of the work of the Spirit now in the church are placed, by their avowal of making it rest upon the display of working signs and wonders : since it follows, that so soon as any highly intellectual and naturally gifted person, such as Napoleon-a great mathematician, scholar, statesman, linguist, philosopher, and soldier -shall arise with miraculous powers, he has the present rulers of the religious classes ready to bow down, and to call upon their followers to bow down, before him, as a true manifester of the Spirit of God.
The opposers of the present manifestations of the Holy Spirit amongst us are divided into two classes. The first deny any supernatural work whatever: these are either wilfully ignorant, or dishonest; because the cases of the possessed children, alluded to in a former Number of this Journal; the testimony of Mr. Baxter; and several other cases at Oxford, Manchester, Gloucester, London, and elsewhere; are directly contrary : and therefore such disputants are unworthy of notice. The second class admit the supernatural character, but fear to be brought into contact with it, from a supposed difficulty of ascertaining its nature, and fearful apprehension of becoming a prey to evil spirits. This is not the place to enter into the subject at any length; but we entreat all such persons to consider, that this fear is very derogatory to the honour of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has conquered Šatan, and by union with whom all his members have power to bid him defiance. It is “the shield of faith" by which “ the fiery darts of the wicked one
are to be resisted : confidence in the Captain of our salvation, who