The Hartlib Papers

Title:Letter, [John Beale] To [Hartlib]
Dating:28 May 1657
Ref:25/5/1A-12B
Notes:Transcribed in logical sequence.
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              1     Dreames &c: May. 28. 1657.
Dearest Sir
         I have now spent a whole day in meditating upon the right honorable the Lady Ranalaghs discourse & proposalls concerning Dreames, To which I doe hastily returne the abstract of an answere, which shall God Willing one day bee more compleated: But desiring[altered] this discourse may not bee comunicated to any irreverend or unworthy persons. My chase after all kinds of literature, did (at last) caste mee, (by Gods sweete providence,) into a very diligent inquiry into the Wisedome of the Easte, which is recorded 1. King. 4. 29 & 33. to bee eminent in Solomon: And is mentioned Act 7. 22 to bee the education of Moses: & is more anciently found in Ioseph Gen 44. 5. & 15. And in the foregoing Patriacks, Iacob, Isaac, Abraham, Noah, Enoch &c. This wee see comended, as a part of Daniels divine skill. Dan. 1. 20 & 2. 13 which draw him into the liste of danger. Dan 2. 24 Hee pleads for the professors & students of it, & distinguisheth the art from extraordinary revelation And c. 2. 48 Hee is made chancellor, & prefers provosts over their Colledges. Some
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very profound men do make use of that difficult text 1 Sam. 5. 2 &c to this purpose, & in the newe Testament Mat. 2. 2. But I could recite very many Texts clearely sheweing the fullnes of Omens, Emblems, praesignifications, & helpes to advance the imagination, & to make the spirite of Men by divine assistance operative to wonderfull effects. I dare not presume upon leave to disclose all these high mysteryes, slightly, & rashly.
     But whilst with much humiliation, fasting, & prayer I sought the Lord for his heavenly wisedome & instructions, & closely adherd to the revelations of the holy worde, & weighed all the kinds of wisedome there particularised, recited, or exemplifyed, I found those depths that made mee very much despise all other kinds of humane learneing. I found the beste points of knowledge not to bee obtained by reading multitudes of bookes, but by wayting upon God, observing his workes newe & old. Thence I collected a Treatise out of all historyes holy
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& of best accompt amongst the Prophane of all religious, Concerning Divine prognostiques of publique or Private iudgements. The Manifestation, & <maner of> gouernement of the world by Ministring spirits. of the continued series of Porphesyes at all times to all nations, as well since our Lord christe came (whereof some are recorded in the holy writings of the Apostles) as before. Allso of the most emergent miracles, & their importance. Allso I drew from the holy records much light & many rules to discerne divine & important dreames from such as are vaine. To thiese, & other branches of this profound Wisedom, I have collected confirmations from the all the first & holy founders of Christianity in the purest times of Martyrdome, when the whole busines of religion was purity & sanctity, manifested in fayth, hope, love, & in good workes. yea from the best & wisest in all ages downe to the reformation, & from the wisest of the reformers both in England & in other forreigne churches.
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Thiese writings I doe reserue for a better day of clearer light. Many rayes must breake foorth at once, That one may beare witnesse & giue lustre to another. Some particulars I have formerly imparted to you, & I have instanced examples, which may easily bee examined by you. But in thiese things I must not surcharge any man. This I can safely clayme, That by Gods mercy I have not yet deceiued any man. & you do now knowe how to trace out my beginnings, & may heare what others will testify concerning mee. I thinke fewe will say That I am a customary spermalogue, or a trumpeter of pretended mysteryes. My education, & the growth of my observations & improvements from time to time are intended to bee abbreviated in my following[altered from followings] epistles, Concerning Schooles & literature, & I doe rather recite the discoveryes made to others than to my selfe, & especially when the issue agreed with the predictions in the evidence of many witnesses. In greate distresses I have had very singular directions, & my reasone opened to discerne their force, & all circumstances have concurred in the confirmation, That they were from God, & the evidences of his goodnes & Mercy to a worthlesse Creature [left margin: vale, Vir clarissime!]
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     2.          Dreames
If the holy writings of the newe Testament had not frequently borne Witnesse to them, That they were used in the Embasy of Angells, in the greatest affayres of our Lord Christe, & of the Gospell, & of the church, for directions for consolation, for intimation, & for conviction; Then I should have beene affrayd to have had soe much reguard to them, & to have spent soe much time in finding out that way of holding a safe, humble, & holy intercourse with the Allmighty. If any one holy writer of old accompt had forbidden <it>, if all had not generally acknoweledged it, I should have beene timourous to crosse the streame of soe many Godly protestants of late ages. But the convictions of many of the most learned & most religious of them, & the experiences, which my selfe & many others which in mine owne observation have obtained, doe bind mee to confesse &
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to the prayse of God to declare, That Hee hath not forsaken his old methodes, doth but doth still continue to converse with them that feare his greate Name, & tremble at his Worde, by Visible acts of his glorious providence, which are drawne in such fayre characters, That they that run by may reade them, & wakeing, & with open eyes behold them & allso in the dead of the night when the outward organs of our earthly frame are chaind up & when the spirite alone is awakened to attend unto his Oracles. Reasons & furthr prooffes I doe now forbeare. Three things I would nowe briefely say. First, Tis a grosse sin & <very> well agreeable to the Atheisme of this adulterated age, if wee shall neglect & despise thiese visits of the most high. Secondly, There may be more learnt[altered from learnd] in our reste & sleepe, & præ-
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-parations of sanctity, [word deleted] perteining to the depths of true wisedome, charitable arts, & practicall knowledge, than by any other long studyes humane arts, or voluminous bookes. Thirdly, Wee may have <as> certaine & cleare discovery of <the difference> what is from God, & what is from Satan in thiese secrete Councells, as[altered] in any other affayres of our spirites or life, whilst wee are wakeing. yea the same rule, by which Abraham knewe, That it was God & not Satan, That comanded him to off sacrifice the sonne of his promise, will suffice to discover, whether the dreame bee from God, or a Satanicall Temptation. This I have explained in a peculiar treatise. I adde for brevity, & that I may have leave to retaine my writings for some longer time, That noe writings, That I ever yet sawe, doe doe clearely direct the Interpretation of dreames, as what wee find of thiese things, & of prophesyes in the old & newe Testament, if wee will exa-
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-mine them diligently in a continued series, & comparing them one with another allso comparing prophesyes & prophetique Emblemes with the events, & with dreames. It was a true & deepe note That Mr Mead discovered, That the Most ancient Egyptian, Arabique & Indian interpretors of dreames are a kind of [explicatioe?] parallell or a greate helpe to the interpretation of the Revelations of St. Iohn. And thence wee may allso apprehend, That <if> the ancient & holy prophesyes are all of them impressed in our spirite, They will give a generall light to the Interpretation of dreames, which by infinite circumstances, experiences, & occurrences wilbe dayly more & more liquidly explained. And hence in time wee come to find the peculiar ideas of our owne spirits. For as our complexions differ to an individuall propriety, soe anothers rules cannot in all things bee mine, nor mine anothers. Even this is a Mystery. To explaine this by one particular, as oft as I dreame, That I walke in some cloyster or church with Sir H Wotton, it forenotes the death of [left margin:] some neere friend. In greate advertisements, I have a peculiar & emphaticall signe given to mee. &c
   Vale iterum
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                    3   Dreames
    To satisfy all the contemners of thiese ancient & holy studyes, Let Iewes & christians well examine the old & newe Testament; The Rabbins, & all the holy Fathers of the church. Let Heathens & Gentiles reade Val. Maximus, his 4 first chapters de Insomnijs, de Prodigijs, de Miraculis <De omnibus> &c Let And all historyes Greeke, Romane &c. Let Antiquaryes reade Mr Meades forementiond Authors, Arabian, Egypt: Indian. Let Atheists read Matchiavel, & others recited by Dr Tho Iackson, the late unhappy Kings Chapleine, in those prognostique Sermons, in which hee foretold the English Courte, The ruin ruines, which are since fallen out, & opened the Signes of the times. Briefely, let every sensible persone reviewe his owne advertisements, & compare his esperiences. Some fewe I will instance, as an example. [left margin:] Vide Mead Coment Apoc: ad cap 6. appendix pag. 45. & ad cap. 8 corollarium pag. 74 et ad cap. 9. pag. 90. &c Vide, Lege, perpende [obsecra?].
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   My father was a very wise & very learned Man, & had a deepe sense of thiese matters. When I was a childe not above foure or five yeares old Hee called all his children together, & sollemnly enquird of them, what profession of life they would choose, each for himselfe, first opening to us, what kinds of life were eligible, pointing out the conveniences & inconveniencyes appendent. I was then the youngest sonne, the 7th in order, & at that age uncapeable of a iudicious answere. But I chose the life which hee embraced as an omen, & annexed his blessing upon it. And when hee deceased, which was within fewe yeares, Hee left mee some speciall helpes towards it. By which, & by other singular providences I was by my Uncle Sir Robert Pye recommended to the father <favour> of the greate Duke of Buck: who requested Sir H Wotton to take mee into
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his speciall charge. Assoone as I was placed into Eton College, The plague was hot amongst us, which dissolved the College My friends were at distance about 80 miles, & the plague was in the next house; & I had much sorrowe, That none of my friends knowe my distresse. Then I dreamt That a brother was sent for mee, a blac mastiffe fell on his man on the way, by which assault his mans horse bruised my brothers leg &c This dreame I told to all the family. Within 3 dayes my brother came, his leg sorely bruised, all circumstances punctually agreeing, as I had foretold. This stuc in my head then, That I might as well beleeve with the old Epicures, That the world was governd by the casuall dashes of atomes, as that 30 or 40 circumstances could agree together without the hand of God in it. The color of dog, & horses, the place where done, the sorenes of the bruise, the cutting
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the bootes off &c. Afterwards I observed deepe inportances in some expressions of dying persons, & of such as seemed aliened of reasone, & in very phantasticall persons, & in very young children, & in others dreames. Like advertisements I had when the plague scatterd us in Cambrige. Sometimes I had præadvertisements to decline very sore temptations. Sometimes by dreames my eyes were opened to see that iniquity, which otherwise I had not discerned. In the Before the beginning of thiese wars I left an impression among some very considerable persons, which will not bee forgotten. My selfe had very peculiar favours from the late King, & Archbishop Laud & others, but I had a checque to decline it, & therein I declined my utter ruine. My friends much blamed mee, but they sawe not with my eyes. Once, in a very greate distresse of religion, I had a most remarkable dreame, giving mee a Signe, which in many strange circumstances, was compleated: By this dreame I was diverted from most dangerous [left margin:] disputations, & vaine speculations. This I record to the prayse of the most High. But I desire not to overcharge anothers fayth.
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                   4. Dreames.
    I well know, That this discourse will seeme to some ridiculous, to other odious. But I could never yet heare a holy reasone why the interpretation of dreames should bee a considerable art in the dayes of the Patriarches, & amongst the wise men of the East, & nowe bee iustely contemptible. Yet wee find the good Patriarke Iacob in some passion at one of his sonnes dreames. Gen 37. 10 And his father rebuked him, saying, what is this dreame that thou hast dreamed. Shall I, & thy mother, & thy brethren indeed come to bow downe our selves to thee to the earth? Notwithstanding that his brethren envyed him, His ob father observed the saying. verse 11. His father observed the saying, but his brethren reproached him, & they said one to another behold the dreamer cometh verse 19. I aske whether Wee Christians may not do well to take at least as much notice of a Monitory dreame, as Pilots wiefe did Math: 27. 19. I refer it to the Wise to
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consider what wee read Act 16. 9. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night, There stood a man of Macedonia, & prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia & helpe us. And after hee had seene the vision, imediatly hee endevoured to goe into Macedonia, assuredly gathering, That the Lord had called us to preach the Gospell unto them. Note assuredly gathering. May not other christians gather the like inferences from the like visions? See an encouragement to preach the gospell, in the night by a vision Act 18. 9. Soe againe Act 27. 23 Paul sayth, For there stood by mee this night the Angell of the Lord God &c.
   By a former discourse I shewd you, That the Angells have as much to doe with us & for us nowe, as ever they did for our forefathers.
   And when our dreames are as theirs are, tis probable they well hav the like importance.
    Last foregoing sumer I had two, or three very troublesome dreames, & by the impressions I found the importance. The first signe opened my eyes to make a very narrowe escape from a Mad-dog, which destroyd many cattle &
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a mayde in the neighbourhood: another signe discovered the treachery of a wicked & false man.
   By another dreame I had a discovery, who stole a horse from mee. It was mine owne man, a persone never suspected eyther by mee or by others. I observed the forme of the dreame, & it procurd a confession of the fact.
   Thiese are as trifles. But if you shall please to deale clearley & plainely with mee, to let mee knowe, Howe far, you assent or dissent from what is here said, I am very confident That in the end you will not say You abusd your time, or were iniurd. For I must say much lesse than I knowe, of the Worth, & excellency, & power of the worke, which I have in hand. The severall kinds & effects of this ancient wisedome you may see at large in the 7. 8 & 9th chapters of the Apocryphall booke of Wisedome, a booke in the next <true> accompt <next> to the Canonicall Worde of God.
   I told you in former letters, Howe in Eton College, when I was a young scholar there, my chamber fellowe Mr
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Tho Stile, brother to Sir Humf Style the Kings Cupbearer had in his first sleepe raving raptures very frequently. And never fayld by his dreames to foretell us all the greate accidences in his family. The death of many alliances, the visits of friends.
   Allso How Mr Tho Page my deare friend of Kings in Cambr: had an impressive advertisement of all hard thoughts that another conceivd against him.
    When I first enterd into thiese [word deleted] Inquyryes one Mr Oinon in Kyderminster, about 25 yeares agoe, by many Witnesses provd to mee, Howe his father had beene many yeares bedrid which by a lamenesse which tooke him in his Thighes. In a dreame[altered from dreames], Hee was directed to gather a leafe, to make an oyle of it, & annoint his thighes with it. Hee pursued his dreame, & suddenly had a miraculous recovery. The herbe was adders tongue: Hee knewe not the name, nor the nature. When you have seene what God hath bestowed upon mee towards the recovery of thiese divine arts, then weigh seriously, what Wonders might bee done by Colledges & Academyes of them that knowe soe much of this Art, as my selfe doe [left margin:] knowe: who doe dayly learne something, & doe learne more by conference with others, than of my selfe. The Secrete of the Lord is with them that feare Him.
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               5   Dreames visions Prophesy.
 I do not affect oppositions against that excellent enthusiasme of Parrhesiastes. Only as more willing to helpe him out at a dead lift, than to blame him, I note, That his observation upon such as have spoken most very raysedly, & divinely a little before they have growne stark mad, <That it> was like an earthquake to one in a dungeon, which for a small moment makes the very walles gape & cleare, & so lets in light for a while at those chinks, sic 56. pag. 55. This was fayrely interpreted, But I do not thinke it well concluded, That this was a chance in nature, & not a gracious visite of the spirite of God. Neyther yet would I have it allwayes hastily concluded That it was a visite of Gods holy spirite; But whethr seeming mad, or only aliened from vulgar conference I advise the spirite may bee tryed & the words layd up in our hearts as possibly bearing relation to some spirituall information, which in time, & by other circumstances may hereafter bee usefull.
   Sec 57. Thus hee begins, Hereunto you may allso ioyne the luck of prophesy, bee it sleeping or wakeing: For such things have hapned to mad men & [catchword: fooles]
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fooles. I aske whether Prophesye is more a matter of luck in our dayes, than in former dayes. Dr Iackson in a greate amazement hath let fall such a sentence to make the lot of more importance to Ionas & the marriners <in those dayes>, than can now bee expected. But elsewhere Hee finds it out That our Atheisme & later infidelity hath made the only difference.
   And if this luc belongs to fooles & madmen & children; Then it becomes wisemen to humble their reguard to Him, That hath ordained strength or victory in the mouthes of babes & sucklings: & who hath sent ideots & madmen as fittest Messengers to a foolish & mad world.
   Howe much light Humility may by Gods favour confer upon a weake & simple creature, I take his owne wordes sec 53 thus, Hee that is thus humbled, as hee seekes noe knoweledge to please himselfe, soe hee cannot avoyd beeing the most knowing man that is. For hee is surrounded with the beames of divine wisedome, as the lowe depressed earth with the rayes of the stars,
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his deepely & profoundly humbled soule, beeing as it were the center of all heavenly illuminations as this little globe of the earth is of those celestiall influences. I confesse I stand amazed while I consider the ineffable advantages of a mind thus submitted to the divine will, howe calme, howe comprehensive howe quic & sensible shee is, howe free, howe sagacious, of howe tender a touch & iudgement shee is in all things. Thus hee, & who could confesse it or describe it better
   yet may <wee> mistake, if wee deny the spirites of God to be in any minde That is not perfectly ca calmed. The old prophets had sometimes the appearance of phrensyes, & wee <should> not bee soe rigourous against the passions of Elias, & Elisha, & Ieremy, & David. For as St. Hierome & other learned fathers give us notice, The holy spirits did not allwayes alter our complexions, no more then our stile & language, & as St Paul & St Iohn had a different stlye soe they had a different Conceipt, & different deportments under the same spirite, & sometimes the nature of the Message, or prophesy, or discovery required more violence, & rage in
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the instrument, by whom it is sent.
   Therefore it hath more shewe of piety then true ground of charity, where to discriminate the spirite from specious complexion. Sec. 60 pag. 58 hee affirmeth That that piety & goodnes which is from the spirit of God is universall exstirpating evry vice, & omitting nothing, that is truely a divine vertue. That it conteineth, a beleefe of those oracles comprehended in the old & newe Testaments they beeing rightly interpreted. & an universall prudence whereby a man admits, nor[altered from not] acts nothing but what is sollidly rationall at the bottome; & of which hee can give a good accompt, let the successe bee what it will.
   This is the great & fundamentall mistake of most men & many partyes in this age. If in some things they find an evidence of Gods spirite, they swallowe up <all> in that accompt: & make their example a rule in all things by misapplying our Lords directions Matth: 7. 15 &c Others shut their eyes against all, & stop their eares because they see some defects. But it is our duety as sometimes to trye the spirits, & to keepe good distance from seducing spirits assoone as wee can discerne them to proceede from the father of lyes: soe allso in all Mortalls to distinguish the [left margin:] motions of Gods holy spirite from the infirmityes of Men: For Men are as Men, whilst they are in this fleshly tabernacle.
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            6 Dreames, Visions, Prophesy.
   Wee see David, after hee was endued with a greater measure of Gods Spirite, even amongst the Prophets, was for some time an adulterer, & a murderer of his neighbour, his true friend & faythfull servant. neyther can wee iustify the execrations of the day of their birth, & their mothers wombe, in Iob & Ieremy. And Elias was mistaken in the fervency of his prayer, when hee said, I & only I &c And Moses had his offensive passions, in the midst of his Miracles, & Ionas provd faynt hearted. Briefly they were all subiect to like passions as wee are. Even to weakenesses, & buffetings of Satan in the time of their Prophesyes. And that a wicked mans words may bee weighed as sometimes of importance, St Paul will tell us of heathen Poets instead of prophets, & delivering the enderements of Gods spirite; & the H Priest shall deliver an Oracle, even whilst hee decrees against our Lord. Theese are depths that deserve a further explication, but I have said enough to note a dangerous errour of most in this age.
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   Likewise it is imperfectly required sec. 54 That Propheticall informations should bee confined to the Test of Reasone agreeable to comon notions or the evidence of [sens?] <of> outward sense, or else a cleere & distinct deduction[altered] from thiese. This I take to bee a very greate mistake, and expressely contradictory to very many Collections of his owne, which were[altered] ioyntly confirmed by him & Causabone.
   I will answere it in his owne excellent expressions sec. 57. first authenticated with the name of Aristotle thus, An alienation[altered from aleenation] of mind and rest from our owne motions fits us for a reception of impressions from something else, & so by a quic sense & touch, wee may bee advertised through a comunication of motion from the spirite of the world what is done at a distance, or what cause is conspiring to bring this or that to passe. Can Aristotle say this. Hee <is> not noted for any Enthusiaste. How much more would hee have sayd, if hee had beene as well skild in the Wisedome of the East as Plato & Apollonius of Thyana were. Here, of his owne hee addes, That Prophesy may arise from on this side of the pure & infallible deity. Both
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he & Casaubone are very full in devising, Howe from the secrete & imperceptible emanation of things distant & from other meanes, Impressions of things absent or future may bee made upon our spirits without the intervention of organs, yea then best, when the inter functions of the organs are most suspended, To wit, sayth Cas: c. 3. pag. 82 because their senses being discharged from their owne proper motion operations, they are more exposed to externall expressions. This I hinted, but was unwilling to adventure upon a cleare explication in my discourse of the Weatherglasse. I there shewe Howe the spirite of Man may have a far more delicate & quic perception than by the organs of sense. Hence are many mysteryes medicall, & chirurgicall & of miraculous comunications of thoughts & secrets are <at> distance whereof some have appeard to the world of late yeares, & more are dayly (as God pleaseth) breaking abroad. No man hath had it more open than Casaubone, but I aske, If the Spirite of man by naturall frame can transcend the use of Organs, must [dionic?]
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prophesy submit to the Test of Organicall conduct & <to> reasone deduced from those pipes? Can witches doe greater matters towards sanation, & in prædictions, Then the wisest of humble christians? Are the profundityes of Art & Wisedome which are gi more fit for Satanicall abuses, then for holy & charitable operations?
   One more depth I will here open to you. Parrhesiastes assumes it That evry true prophete must certainely forknowe, That the event will infallibly answere to the prophesy. This is allso a double errour. For prophets did not allwayes undrstand their owne Prophesyes, Neyther the High Priest nor Daniel till it was interpreted. And sometimes by Gods Mercy the Event was suspended, as to Nineveh in the dayes of Ionas. And therefore for such advertisements as are not expressely from God, but the effect of thiese deepe arts, no wonder if some times they come not to passe, & the cause is most perfectly rendred by Parrhes: SEC 57 For (sayth hee) the present conspiracy of causes that shoote into the vacant mind may corrupt & alter & bee blowne away like wind clouds that at first seeme to assure the husbandman of a following raine.
   Wee are too peremptory with the most High, if [left margin:] wee can put no value upon any secrets that are not unalterable.