PHILIP DODDRIDGE’S DREAM
Dr. Doddridge was on terms of intimate friendship with Dr. Samuel Clarke of St. Albans, and the two men often spent a happy hour together. One evening they conversed on the subject of death, and the departure of the soul from the body. Dr. Doddridge retired to rest with his mind full of the subject; and in the visions of the night his ideas were shaped into the following beautiful form: He dreamed that he was at the house of a friend, when he was suddenly taken dangerously ill. By degrees he seemed to grow worse, and at last to expire. In an instant he was sensible that he exchanged the prison house and sufferings of mortality for a state of liberty and happiness. Embodied in a splendid aerial form, he seemed to float in a region of pure light. Beneath him lay the earth, but city and village, mountain and valley, forest and sea:
all alike were invisible. There was nought to be seen below save the group of friends, weeping around his remains.
Himself thrilled with delight, he was surprised at their tears, and attempted to inform them of his change, but, by some mysterious power, utterance was denied; and, as he anxiously leaned over the mourning circle, gazing fondly upon them, and struggling to speak, he rose silently upon the air; their forms became more and more distant, and gradually melted away from his sight. He found himself swiftly mounting the skies with a venerable figure at his side guiding his mysterious movement, and in whose countenance he marked youth and age blended together with an intimate harmony and majestic sweetness. They travelled through a vast region of space, until at length a glorious edifice shone in the distance, and as its form rose brilliant and distinct among the shadows that flitted across their path, the guide informed him that the palace he beheld was for the present to be his mansion of rest. Gazing upon its splendour, he replied that while on earth he had heard that eye had not seen, nor had the ear heard, nor could it enter into the heart of man to conceive the things which God had prepared for those who love Him, and that although the building to which they were then rapidly approaching was superior to anything he had ever before seen, yet its grandeur had not exceeded the conceptions he had formed. The guide made no reply. They were already at the door, and entered.
The guide introduced him into a spacious apartment, at the extremity of which stood a table covered with a snow-white cloth, a golden cup, and a cluster of grapes, and there he said he must remain, for he would receive in a short time a visit from the Lord of the mansion, meanwhile the apartment would furnish him with sufficient entertainment and instruction. The guide vanished, and he was left alone.
He began to examine the decorations, and observed that the walls were adorned with a number of pictures. Upon nearer inspection he found, to his astonishment, that they formed a complete biography of his own life.
Here he saw upon the canvas angels, who, unseen, had ever been his familiar attendants, and, sent by God, had sometimes preserved him from immediate peril. He beheld himself first as an infant just expiring, when his life was prolonged by an angel gently breathing into his nostrils.
Most of the occurrences here delineated were perfectly familiar to his recollection, and unfolded many things which he had never before understood, and which had perplexed him with many doubts and much uneasiness. Among others, he was particularly struck with a picture in which he was represented as falling from his horse, when death would have been inevitable had not an angel received him in his arms, and broken the force of his descent. These merciful interpositions of God filled him with joy and gratitude, and his heart overflowed with love as he surveyed in them all an exhibition of goodness and mercy far beyond all that he had imagined.
Suddenly his attention was arrested. The Lord of the mansion had arrived, the door opened, and He entered. So powerful and so overwhelming, and, withal, of such singular beauty was His appearance, that he sat down at his feet, completely overcome by His majestic presence. His Lord gently raised him from the ground, and, taking his hand, led him forward to the table. He pressed with His fingers the juice of the grapes into the cup, and after having drunk Himself presented it to him, saying, “This is the new wine in My Father’s Kingdom”. No sooner had he partaken than all uneasy sensation vanished. Perfect love had cast out fear, and he conversed with his Saviour as an intimate friend. Like the silver rippling of the summer sea, he heard fall from His lips the graceful approbation, “Thy labours are over, thy work is approved, rich and glorious is thy reward”. Thrilled with unspeakable bliss that glided into the very depths of his
soul, he suddenly saw glories upon glories bursting upon his view.
The doctor awoke. Tears of rapture from his joyful interview were rolling down his cheeks. Long did the lively impressions of this dream remain upon his mind, and never could he speak of it without emotions of joy and tenderness.