posted by Phil Johnson
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from the sermon "A Word with Those Who Wait for Signs and Wonders," preached 31 October 1869
here are some, and these are generally the most uneducated, who expect to experience remarkable dreams or to behold singular visions.
I am sometimes astonished that there should linger amongst our population still a notion that a certain kind of dream, especially if it be repeated a number of times, and if it be so vivid as to remain upon the imagination for a long period, is an index of the divine favor. Nothing can be more grossly untrue, nothing can be more baseless and without the shadow of evidence to back it up; and yet many imagine that if they, I was about to say, suffered so grievously from indigestion that their sleep was spoiled by vivid dreams, then they could put their trust in Jesus Christ.
The notion is so absurd that if it be but mentioned to rational men they must ridicule it, and yet I have known many who have been, and still are, slaves to this delusion.
Not very long ago, after preaching in a remote country village, I was earnestly sought for as a spiritual adviser by an importunate letter from a woman who ascribed to me much greater wisdom than I ever claimed to possess. I wondered what her spiritual difficulty was, and when I went to her house and found her very sick, I was saddened to find her the victim of a superstition, in which I fear her minister had comforted and so confirmed her. She solemnly informed me that she had seen something standing at night at the bottom of her bed; she was in hopes that it was our blessed Lord, but she could not see his head; as I knew so much of spiritual things, could I tell her who it was?
I said I thought she must have hung up her dress on a peg on the wall at the bottom of her bed, and in the dark had mistaken it for an apparition.
Of course, that did not satisfy her; I fell at once in her estimation to the dead level of a very carnal-minded man, if not a scoffer, but I could not help it, I could not dally with such ridiculous superstition; I was obliged to tell her it was all nonsense for her to hope for salvation because she was silly enough to fancy that she saw Jesus with her bodily eyes, for the saving sight was a spiritual one.
As to the question of the supposed apparition having a head or not, I told her if she would but use her own head and heart in meditating upon the word of God, she would be in a far more hopeful condition.
There may have been, I will not deny itfor stranger things have beenthere may have been dreams, and even apparitions, which have aroused the conscience, and so led to the commencement of spiritual life, in some rare cases where God has chosen specially to interfere, but that these are to be looked for, and to be expected, is a thing as far from truth as the east is from the west. What if you did see anything, or dream anything, what would that prove? Why, prove nothing whatever except that you were in an ill state of health, and that your imagination was morbidly active.
Put such things away, they are superstitions fit for the uncivilized, but they are not fit for Christians of the nineteenth century: I do but mention them, not because, I think: any of you may have fallen into them, but that you may deal with them always very rigidly wherever you meet with them. They are superstitions not to be tolerated by Christian men; yet there are some who actually will not believe Christ's simple gospel unless some such absurdity as this can be joined into it.
God deliver you from such unbelief.