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was much surprised to find himself so remote from his family, and in pursuit of no object. He now hastened home, and his health was improved as well as his mind restored to its usual tone. Such an alienation of mind as this could have been occasioned by nothing but disease, which affecting those organs by which the mind performs its operations of reasoning, judging, remembering, and leaving it, without their control, to become the sport of every vain imagination which for the time could take possession. As soon as that irregular action in the system was correcteil, the mind returned to the performance of its functions. Dr. Rush, in his excellent work upon the diseases of the mind, relates from Dr. Hunter, the case of a sea-faring man, who from unespectedly sustaining a heavy loss at sea, was thrown into a total alienation of mind, insomuch that all its powers seemed to be completely suspended. When received into the lunatick asylum at York, in Great Britain, he was in a state of perfect insensibility. For five years he continued in this condition, never expressing any desire for nourishment, so that it became necessary at first, to feed him in the manner of an infant. A servant undressed him at night, and dressed him in the morning; after which he was conducted to his seat in the common parlour, where he remained all day with his body bent, and his eyes fixed upon the ground. From all circumstances of his behaviour, he did not appear to be capable of reflection. Every thing was indifferent to him; and from the fairest judgment that could be formed, he was considered by all about him as an animal converted nearly into a vegetable. In this state he remained nearly five years, when, upon entering the parlour one morning, he saluted the recovering patients with “ a good morrow to you all.” He then thanked the servants of the house in the most affectionate manner, for their tenderness to him; of which, he said, he began to be sensible some weeks before, but had not till then the resolution to express his gratitude. Talking with him about what he felt during the suspension of reason, he said that his mind was totally lost; but that about two months before his return to himself, he began to have thoughts and sensations; these, however, only served to convey to him fears and apprehensions, especially in the night time.” Here we see an example of a total alienation of mind, from an effect produced, no doubt, upon those organs hy which its operations are performed, by a sudden shock occasioned by a great loss at sea.
Deliriums, no doubt, are a species of waking and sometimes sleeping dreams, occasioned by violent actions in the organs, so that our ideas pass through the mind in quick succession, and with so much vivacity as to give them strong. ly the appearance of reality, insomuch that we sometimes talk in that state, as we do ordinarily about the transactions of life.
Somnambulism, is also a species of dreaming, in which the pictures formed in the mind become so extremely vivid, and assume so much the appearance of reality, that we are stimulated to act under the impression as if awake. Dr. Rush, in the work above referred to, after remarking that in some cases, persons affected in this way, will resume their former occupations, the scholar will return to his studies, the poet to his pen, and the artisan to his labour; relates a singular instance in Dr. Blacklock of Edinburgh. “The Dr.," he informs us, has been known to rise from his bed to which he had retired at an early hour, come into the room where his family was assembled, converse with them, and afterwards entertain them with a pleasant song, without any of them suspecting that he was asleep, and without his retaining after he awoke, the least recollection of what he had done.” A tendency to somnambulism, which is most likely to appear in children of ardent temperaments and delicate constitutions, might I am convinced, be checked and overcome, if duly attended to upon its first appearance. My el
dest son, when about ten years of age, was in the habit, soon after he had fallen asleep at night, of rising out of bed apparently in great distress, walking about the room in pur. suit of some object, of which he would often speak, and sometimes take possession, uttering all the time the stran. gest and most incoherent language. If spoken to, he would return answers, open his eyes, but remain fast asleep, and with difficulty would be awakened. I always ascribed this appearance to the delicacy of his constitution, which prevented him from perfectly digesting the food that he had received in the day, and whose crudities, of consequence would be more likely to act upon the system, and occasion dreaming immediately after he fell asleep than at any other time. Such tendencies in children should be speedily and effectually checked in the commencement, or they will soon contract habits which it is impossible to subdue. If gentle means will not answer the purpose, more violent ones should be resorted to. I am convinced that men become sleepwalkers and stutterers, only from the want of attention in parents and guardians, in the formation of their habits. In the case of stuttering, I am able to decide from some experience, that harsh expedients should never be adopted.
Ecstacies and trances are to be referred to the same class of phenomena as those beforementioned, and are the result of some singular but irregular actions in the corporeal organs, which more immediately minister to the purposes of thinking. In the discussion of subjects of this nature, we would wish to be considered as referring in all cases to the ordinary, and not the extraordinary, operations of nature. God, who has originally contrived and arranged the whole system, both of the physical and moral world, can surely contravene at his pleasure, those laws which he has established in it, and make any portion of it subservient to his purposes. If it be his will, he surely possesses the power of revealing his designs to mankind by dreams and visions, by ecstacies and trances, and
no doubt he can accompany such disclosures and immediate revelations, with decisive evidences of their being the operation of his hand; insomuch that the person to whom these. favours are vouchsafed, cannot entertain a doubt of the divine agency. St. Paul, in his rapture, ecstacy, trance, or heavenly vision, call it what we may, seems to have been sure that Paradise was unfolded to him, in which he distinctly perceived those joys which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and of which it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive; but he does not appear to have been certain, whether this revelation was made to him while his soul was within or without the body. Now, no rational man can doubt, that he who is the great Fountain of light and knowledge, could have shed abroad such light through the spirit of the blessed Apostle; and of this miraculous communication to him, he gave sufficient demonstration in his works, the only authentic seals of a divine mission. That God also during the progress of the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations did make known his counsels, as well by dreams, visions, and immediate illapses of his spirit, as by signs and wonders innumerable, none but infidels disbelieve. But we are speaking at this time, not of the miraculous but the ordinary operations of nature. The first ceased as soon as the necessities of the Church no longer demanded their continuance, the last will be as permanent as the system of the universe. Those ecstacies, trances and visions, which are now witnessed in the world, may be explained upon the same principles upon which we have before endeavoured to account for dreams, delirium and somnambulism. Medical treatises are full of recitals of the effects which are produced upon the human mind by fear, joy, despair, grief, and all the strongest passions. In the case before referred to of the sea-faring man, we have seen despair, by a sudden shock, suspend all the powers of the mind, and deprive its victim of every attribute that distinguishes the human race, except
the functions of animal life. Fear, joy, grief, have an equally powerful operation, leading the subjects of their influence to a train of diseases, and even to madness and death. Now, let us suppose, that a christian soul who has liyed a life of indifference to religious duty, or even of positive and atrocious guilt, is, from some circumstance, suddenly awakened to a pungent sense of his guilt and wretchedness, and of the extreme danger to which he was exposed in a state of impenitence. Is there any thing wonderful or even extraordinary, if in such a case, religious terror seizing upon the mind, so operates upon the organs of the body by which it acts, as to produce a strange and disordered action in the whole system, absorb the whole energy of the soul to itself, and suspend all the powers of it save those which are exercised in its religious feelings? Such states of ecstacy, trance or rapture, are as naturally the result of excessive religious fear or joy, as those which are produced by any other strong passion or emotion. In this state of excitement, no other ideas float through the mind but those which relate to God, the Saviour, the joys and pains of futurity. If the penitent soul is just smitten with contrition, alarmed for his safety, and stung with a sense of guilt, his reflections are sad and gloomy, if he is conscious of having obtained pardon and made his peace with God, his ecstacy translates him to hea. ven, and unfolds to him all its glories and beatitudes. Nothing can be more natural than all results of this kind. There is no necessity for supposing the immediate and miraculous interference of God on such occasions, as these are effects which flow from the operation of principles known to exist in the constitution of human nature.
Idiocy may arise from some original defect in the nature and properties of the mind, or what is more probable, from a mal-conformation and adjustment of the component parts of the body, and more especially, of those parts which are made use of by the mind in discharging its higher func