This section is from the book "Faith - Healing. Christian Science And Kindred Phenomena", by James Monroe Buckley. Also available from Amazon: Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena.
If the foregoing attempt at explanation covered all the actual phenomena of dreams, there is no reason to doubt that it would be satisfactory to readers of intelligence ; but it is claimed by many that in dreams premonitions of future events are given, especially of death; that events which have taken place, of interest to the recipient of the communication, are made known; and that the knowledge of current events is frequently imparted when the dreamer is at a great distance.
An acquaintance of mine, a young man, nineteen years of age, a student in a large seminary about sixty miles from New York, was strongly attached to a teacher who died, to the great grief of the student. Some time afterward the young man dreamed that the teacher appeared to him and notified him that he would die on a certain day and hour. He informed his mother and friends of the dream, and expressed a firm belief that when that time came he should die. They considered it a delusion ; and as no alarming change took place in his health, they were not anxious. When the day arrived they noticed nothing unusual; but after dining and seeming to enjoy the meal and to be quite cheerful, he went to Lis room, lay down, and died without a struggle.
The following case is said to be authentic: The lather of a certain lady died. About a year afterward she aroused her husband by sobbing and trembling violently, while tears ran down her cheeks. She explained that she had just had a vivid dream, in which she had seen her father assemble all his children in his room in the old house, and tell them that the family heirlooms were being disposed of to strangers. The same dream recurred the next night. A day or two afterward this lady, while walking in the town where she lived, saw her father's walking-stick, with a gold band bearing an inscription, a gift from all his children, in the hands of a stranger. The sight so affected her that she fainted. Later inquiries proved that the stick had changed hands on the day previous to her first dream.
The case of William Tennent is in point. Mr. Tennent, a remarkable preacher of Freehold, N. J., zealous in promoting revivals, had a particular friend, the Rev. David Rowland, who was also exceedingly successful. A notorious man named Thomas Bell, guilty of theft, robbery, fraud, and every form of crime, greatly resembled Mr. Rowland. Passing himself off for him, he imposed upon citizens of Hunterdon County, N. J., robbed them and fled, everywhere representing himself as the Rev. Mr. Rowland. At the time he perpetrated this robbery in Hunterdon County, "Messrs. Tennent and Rowland, accompanied by two laymen, Joshua Anderson and Benjamin Stevens, went into Pennsylvania or Maryland to conduct religious services. When Mr. Rowland returned, he was charged with the robbery committed by Bell. He gave bonds to appear at the court of Trenton, and the affair made a great nois< throughout the colony.
Tennent, Anderson, and Stevens appeared, and swore that they were with Mr. Rowland and heard him preach on that very day in Pennsylvania or Maryland. He was at once acquitted." But months afterward Tennent, Anderson, and Stevens were arraigned for perjury. Anderson was tried and found guilty. Tennent and Stevens were summoned to appear before the next court. Stevens took advantage of a flaw in the indictment and was discharged. Tennent refused to do that, or to give any assistance to his counsel, relying upon God to deliver him. The authorized "Life of Tennent" now gives the particulars:
Mr. Tennent had not walked far in the street (the bell had rung summoning them to court) before he met a man and his wife, who stopped him, and asked if his name was not Tennent. He answered in the affirmative, and begged to know if they had any business with him. The man replied, " You best know." He told his name, and said that he was from a certain place (which he mentioned) in Pennsylvania or Maryland; that Messrs. Rowland, Tennent, Anderson, and Stevens had lodged either at his house, or in a house wherein he and his wife had been servants (it is not now certain which), at a particular time which he named; that on the following day they heard Messrs. Tennent and Rowland preach ; that some nights before they left home, he and his wife waked out of a sound sleep, and each told the other a dream which had just occurred, and which proved to be the same in substance: to wit, that he, Mr. Tennent, was at Trenton, in the greatest possible distress, and that it was in their power, and theirs only, to relieve him. Considering it as a remarkable dream only, they again went to sleep, and it was twice repeated, precisely in tho same manner, to both of them. This made so deep an impression on their minds, that they set off, and here they were, and would know of him what they were to do.
On the trial the evidence of these persons, and of some others who knew Bell, and were acquainted with his resemblance to Mr. Rowland, was sufficient to secure Mr. Tennent's acquittal.
To explain such dreams as these some introduce a supernatural element, claiming that they are sent by God to warn his people; others adopt the hypothesis now known as telepathy; while still others content themselves with vague references to " clairvoyance".
Close investigation of a large number of alleged premonitions of death, revelations of current and past facts, and predictions of the future has afforded me no ground for a scientific presumption either of supernatural interference, of telepathy, or of clairvoyance. That is, authentic cases can be more reasonably explained without than with any of these assumptions.
The English Society of Psychical Research was founded in 1882, and has pursued its investigations since that time. The names of its president, vice-presidents, corresponding members, and council include men justly distinguished in various fields of scientific investigation, and some occupying high religious positions; the list of members is also imposing. The investigations, as usual in such cases, have been left to a few members whose tastes and opportunities are favorable, and many of the most learned and conservative members of the body appear, from the reports of all the proceedings, to have taken no active part in the work. President G. Stanley Hall, of Clark University, formerly Professor of Psychology and Pedagogics in Johns Hopkins University, who is one of the corresponding members, regrets, in an elaborate review of the experiments and their results, the absence from the investigations of the most celebrated alienists. Certain active members, by the frequency of their contributions, have practically, in the public mind, committed the Society to telepathy, or the ability of one mind to impress, or to be impressed by, another mind otherwise than by means of the recognized channels of sense. Of course dreams have a bearing upon this subject, and to them the Society has paid a great deal of attention.