God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,…
I. DREAMS were a frequent mode by which the future was opened up to the minds of the prophets. There is something peculiarly solemn in the thong it of these revelations of the future made to the mind, whilst the body is in a state of repose and temporary insensibility. They illustrate the capabilities and susceptibilities of the human mind, independent of the corporeal frame: the power of the Most High and His grace and condescension in thus communicating to man H s counsels and purposes. They prove the fact of God's interest in what concerns the human race, and His constant intercourse with a family of His intelligent creatures, perhaps the most unworthy of His notice. The state of the body, too, when these revelations were made, may be regarded as a type of the respective conditions of the mind and body, when death has severed the bond that unites them. The body asleep in the grave, the mind conversant with the plans of the Almighty, and blessed with the vision of His glory. The body at rest — the cares of life, its scenes, its passions all hushed — its conflicts and struggles succeed, d by repose; the mind released from its attention to what was immediate and temporary; but in that solemn hour of release, God, its Creator, appears; the future is unveiled, and truth revealed leaves its right and unqualified impression.
II. The second class of prophetical announcements may be ranged under the head of VISIONS. Dreams and visions are not always distinguished in sacred scripture. Sometimes the same revelation is said to be made by a dream and a vision. Thus Nebuchadnezzar's dream is called the visions of his head (Daniel 2:28). A vision, then, may be defined as a representation of things made to the mind of the prophet while he was awake. The eyes rest on the object, the impression is not only as distinct and vivid as if the object were present to the senses in an ordinary way, but more so, from the extraordinary manner, of its appearance. The most terrible elements of nature — the most beautiful of its inanimate objects — all that is magnificent and costly in art, all that is dignified in personal form, formed scenes surpassing in splendour the conceptions of the most brilliant fancy. They were fitted and intended to produce a due measure of impression on minds like ours, necessarily more affected by what is thus clothed and presented to the eye and the imagination in vivid forms, in order to its awakening attention, and giving a just conception of the importance of the events thus represented. Our responsibility is great, and our gratitude ought to be intense.
III. Another method in which these announcements were made, and to which we must advert, is AN AUDIBLE VOICE. Moses at bush. Giving of law. Elijah in cave.
IV. But although it pleased the Lord to communicate His will to men, and the knowledge of His purposes, by such direct addresses to the senses, or to the imagination, yet a great part of the sacred Scriptures was written under A MORE DIRECT INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY GHOST, communicating immediately to the mind, the doctrines and facts to be recorded.
1. From. them all we learn that the communications thus made, various as they were — sometimes judgments, and at others most signal mercies — all furnish striking illustrations of the providence and government of God.
2. The condescension of God.
3. Our responsibilities.
4. The unbroken continuity of the Divine government, and unity of God's purposes.
Parallel VersesKJV: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,