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CH A 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 Trust in God.
T is a received Tradition among the VulIgar, That at the Time of Cock-crowing, the Midnight Spirits forsake these lower Regions, and go to their proper Places. They wander, say 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 sooner, they are apt to imagine every Thing they fee or hear, to be a wandring Ghost. 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
This present Object made Probation.
Some say that e'er against that Season comes,
So gracious and so hallowed is that Time. Now to shew what Truth there is in this vulgar Opinion, I shall consider, 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 assent 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 those * ministring Spirits, which are sent out to minister to the Heirs of Salvation ; the other the roaring Lion, and his Instruments, t who wander too and fro in the Earth; theje I unclean Spirits who wander through dry Places, seeking Rest and finding none.
Nor, I believe, will it be question'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.
Disciples, have been offrighted and cried out, not only with supposing they had seen, but really with seeing a Spirit. Of this the Testimony of all Ages, and Scripture it self are a sufficient Demonstration.
What then could these have ordinarily been, but the Appearances of some of those Angels of Light, or Darkness ? For I am far from thinking that either the Ghosts of the Damn'd or the Happy, either the Soul of a Dives or ą Lazarus, returns here any more. For as St. Athanafus obferves, * These Visions 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 Sumuel, 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 these 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. .
. . Apa
Apparition, would almost perswade us, that the Night is the most proper Time for such Appearances. Whether it is, that the Fables of Nurses, * as an ingenious Author imagines, " have so associated the Idea of Spirit to the “ Night, that the one never appears with"out the other;" or whether there is something in the Presence of Night, fome Awfulness and Horrour, which naturally dispose the Mind of Man to these Reflections. I am indeed very inclinable to believe, that these Legendary Stories of Nurses and old Women, are the Occasion of much greater Fears, than People without them, would generally have of these Things; but I cannot help thinking, that the Presence of Night, would naturally lead a Man to fome Reflection of Spirits, without any such Cause as that learned Author mentions. There are some particular Times, which will naturally raise some particular Thoughts: Thus on a bright sunny Day we are naturally disposed to Mirth and Gaiety; when the Day over-casts, 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 sudden Death: And thus also the Night, as it inclines us to grave and serious Thoughts, raises in us
* Lock, on Human Unders.
Horrour and Dismay, and makes us afraid, even when our Judgment tells us there is no Fear; so it may of it self be look'd upon as a natural Cause of such Reflections.
But however this be, we must necessarily own, that Spirits have frequently appeared in the Night, or we must give the Lye to the Traditions of all Ages, to Historians prophane and sacred, and the wisest and best in the Generations of Men.
In the Heathen World there are many Instances, of which I shall only mention this one out of Plutarch: “* One Night, before Brutus, “ passed out of Afia, he was very late all alone “ in his Tent, with a dim Light burning by “ him, all the Rest of the Army being husht 66. and silent; and musing with himself, and “ very thoughtful, as he turn'd his Eye to the “ Door, he saw a strange and terrible Appear. sance, of a prodigious and frightful Body “ coming towards him without speaking. Bru“ tus boldly asked him, What art thou? Man, “ or God? Or upon what Business do'st thou “ come to us? The Spirit answer'd, I am thy “ Evil Genius, thou shalt see me at Philippi; “ to which Brutus not at all disturbed, re“ ply'd, Then I will see thee there.
* In Vit. Mar. Brut. Trans. Duke.