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CHA P. VI.
Of the Time of Cock-crow: Whether evil Spirits wander about in the Time of Night; and whether they fly away at the Time of Cock-crow. Reflections upon this, encouraging us to have Faith and Truft in God.
T is a received Tradition among the Vulgar, That at the Time of Cock-crowing, the Midnight Spirits forfake these lower Regions, and go to their proper Places. They wander, fay they, about the World, from the dead Hour of Night, when all Things are buried in Sleep and Darkness, till the Time of Cock-crowing, and then they depart. Hence it is, that in Country-Places, where the Way of Life requires more early Labour, they always go chearfully to Work at that Time; whereas if they are called abroad fooner, they are apt to imagine every Thing they fee or hear, to be a wandring Ghoft. Shakespear hath given us an excellent Account of this vulgar Notion, in his Tragedy of Hamlet.
Ber. It was about to speak, when the Cock crew.
Upon a dreadful Summons. I have heard,
The extravagant and erring Spirit hyes
Some fay that e'er against that Seafon comes,
Now to fhew what Truth there is in this vulgar Opinion, I fhall confider, First, What Truth there is in the Roaming of Spirits in the Night. And, Secondly, Whether they are obliged to go away at Cock-crow.
I believe none who affent to the Truth of Divine Revelation, deny that there are good and evil Angels attending upon Men; the one to guard and protect them, and the other to harm and work their Ruin; that the one are thofe * miniftring Spirits, which are fent out to minister to the Heirs of Salvation; the other the roaring Lion, and his Inftruments, † who wander too and fro in the Earth; these ‡ unclean Spirits who wander through dry Places, Seeking Reft and finding none.
NOR, I believe, will it be queftion'd, that there have been Apparitions of good and evil Spirits, and that many, with our SAVIOUR'S
* Heb. i. 14. † Job. ii. 2,
+ Matt. xii. 43.
Difciples, have been affrighted and cried out, not only with fuppofing they had feen, but really with feeing a Spirit. Of this the Teftimony of all Ages, and Scripture it self are a fufficient Demonstration.
What then could thefe have ordinarily been, but the Appearances of fome of thofe Angels of Light, or Darkness? For I am far from thinking that either the Ghofts of the Damn'd or the Happy, either the Soul of a Dives or a Lazarus, returns here any more. For as St. Athanafius obferves, Thefe Vifions and Shades of the Saints, which appear in the Temples and at the Tombs, are not the Souls of the Saints themselves, but the good Angels appearing in their Shapes. Not that GOD could not remand the Ghost of Samuel, and order it again to visit the Earth, as he made Mofes and Elias to appear at our SAVIOUR'S Transfiguration; but that a Thing of this Nature was very uncommon, and seldom happen'd.
Taking it therefore for granted, that there have been Apparitions of Angels, I believe it will also be owned, that thefe Apparitions have frequently happen'd in the Night. And truly, was there no direct Proof of this, yet the Notion of their appearing in the Night, being as it were link'd and chained to our Idea of an
* Hai en tois naois, &c. Athan. Tom. 2. P. 34.
Apparition, would almost perfwade us, that the Night is the most proper Time for fuch Appearances. Whether it is, that the Fables of Nurses, * as an ingenious Author imagines, "have fo affociated the Idea of Spirit to the "Night, that the one never appears with
out the other;" or whether there is fomething in the Presence of Night, fome Awfulnefs and Horrour, which naturally difpofe the Mind of Man to thefe Reflections. I am indeed very inclinable to believe, that these Legendary Stories of Nurfes and old Women, are the Occafion of much greater Fears, than People without them, would generally have of thefe Things; but I cannot help thinking, that the Prefence of Night, would naturally lead a Man to fome Reflection of Spirits, without any fuch Cause as that learned Author mentions. There are fome particular Times, which will naturally raise fome particular Thoughts: Thus on a bright funny Day we are naturally disposed to Mirth and Gaiety; when the Day over-cafts, or the Weather is hazy, we then turn indolent and dull, and footh our felves in Melancholly; if it Thunder and Lighten, we think of the Day of Judgment and fudden Death: And thus alfo the Night, as it inclines us to grave and ferious Thoughts, raises in us Lock, on Human Underft.
Horrour and Dismay, and makes us afraid, even when our Judgment tells us there is no Fear; fo it may of it felf be look'd upon as a natural Caufe of fuch Reflections.
But however this be, we must neceffarily own, that Spirits have frequently appeared in the Night, or we must give the Lye to the Traditions of all Ages, to Hiftorians prophane and facred, and the wifeft and beft in the Generations of Men.
In the Heathen World there are many Inftances, of which I fhall only mention this one out of Plutarch: “* One Night, before Brutus paffed out of Afia, he was very late all alone "in his Tent, with a dim Light burning by "him, all the Reft of the Army being husht “and filent; and musing with himself, and very thoughtful, as he turn'd his Eye to the Door, he saw a strange and terrible Appearance, of a prodigious and frightful Body "coming towards him without fpeaking. Bru"tus boldly asked him, What art thou? Man, or God? Or upon what Bufiness do'ft thou "come to us? The Spirit anfwer'd, I am thy "Evil Genius, thou fhalt fee me at Philippi; to which Brutus not at all difturbed, reply'd, Then I will fee thee there.
* In Vit. Mar. Brut. Tranf. Duke.