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ing it, however, seems naturally to arise in the mind, Could M. Nicolai, although afflicted with the same complaint, ever have experienced the same visions, if he had been born blind? We are assured that he could not, but we may deduce from these facts this useful and important reflection. It is evideut, that in our perception of the outward objects of sight, by the action of the rays of light upon the nervous coat and the brain, there is some change produced upon the mind, which enables it afterwards to occasion those objects to appear to be present when they are really not so, although without this previous action upon the mind, it could not have a single perception of the kind. Had M. Nicolai been blind from his birth, not one of :hese spectres could have been exhibited to him. Our perceptions, therefore, must in all cases commence in the action of outward objects upon the senses.

But besides furnishing us with a key that completely opens the door to all mysteries of this kind, froin experiments of this nature, I conceive we may arrive at a solution of two very singular facts which are upon record, and, of course, of all events of a similar description; I mean the circumstances which led to the conversion of Constantine, the first Roman emperor who embraced christianity, and of colonel Gardiner, a distinguished English officer, in more recent times. We shall state the facts which are related in both these cases, and with a few remarks about them shall conclude this article. As the

emperor Constantine the Great was on his march to attack Maxentius, his rival in the Roman empire, he is said to have been led to embrace christianity by a miraculous cross displayed to him in the air at noon day, with this inscription upon it, “hac vince," under this conquer.

Without supposing with some writers that this miraculous appearance of the sign of the cross, was a mere fiction of Constantine, resorted to as an artifice by which to animate his troops to the contest which was approaching, or with

Dr. Mosheim, the learned author of the ecclesiastical history, that it was displayed to the emperor only in a dream, when he himself solemnly averred, as we are informed by Eusebius, that it took place in the presence of the whole army; may we not relieve ourselves from the difficulties which have been raised during the controversy about this matter, by concluding that the emperor was himself deceived in the phenomenon which presented itself on that occasion to his view? His mind must have been in a state of deep solicitude and suffering, not only about the general affairs of the empire, which were in extreme confusion and danger, but more especially about the result of his approaching battle with Maxentius. His fate and that of the empire hung upon the issue of that contest. Agitated and disquieted from conflicting emotions, probably many days had been spent amidst toils and anxiety, and his nights in sleepless vigilance. Religion too, it seems, had some considerable share in his meditations. The contest raged between the pagans and christians. They pursued each other in a spirit of extermination. Constantine had as yet declared himself in favour of neither side. He was anxiously reflecting upon the matter. In this state of mind it would be by no means unexampled, if any extraordinary appearance in the heavens, a solar halo, or a cloud singularly shaped and strongly illuminated by the beams of the sun, had been mistaken by him for a miraculous cross, and when nature presented to him the outlines, imagination could easily fill up the details, so that the inscription upon the cross, hac vince, like the pits of the small-pox in the face of the lady beforementioned, may have been distinctly perceptible. This solution of the matter would at once exonerate the emperor from the charge, not only of inventing a falsehood to accomplish a great purpose at the time, but from the still deeper guilt of coolly and solemnly persevering in declaring it as a fact; and at the same time account for the circumstance which has been mentioned as a difficulty in the case, viz, that although Eusebius lived in the time of Constantine, and might have heard the story from many other persons belonging to that army, who were alleged to have been present, yet he rests it solely upon the testimony of the emperor. It is more than probable, that whatever may have been the celestial appearance exhibited to the army, none of them saw it in the same light with their emperor.

CHAPTER IX.

The same Subject Continued.

WHATEVER We may be disposed to think of the fact related, concerning the conversion of Constantine, the Roman emperor to Christianity, and I have thrown out the explanation given in the last chapter, merely as a conjecture; in regard to the circumstances, which are said to have attended that of colonel Gardiner, I think no rational mind should hesitate in forming a most decided opinion. The facts, as stated by Dr. Doddridge, in his life of that officer, are the following.“ This memorable event, (his conversion) happened towards the middle of July, 1719; but I cannot be exact as to the day. The colonel had spent the evening, and, if I mistake not, it was the Sabbath, in some gay company, and had an unhappy assignation with a married woman, of what rank or quality I did not particularly inquire, whom he was to attend exactly at twelve. The company broke up about eleven, and not judging it convenient to anticipate the time appointed, he went into his chamber to kill the tedious hour, perhaps, with some amusing book, or some other way. But it very accidentally happened, that he took up a religious book, which his good mother or aunt, had, without his knowledge, slipped into his portmanteau. It was called the “ Christian Soldier, or Heaven taken by Storm.” Guessing by the title of it, that he should find some phrases of his own profession spiritualized, in a manner which he thought, might afford him some diversion, he resolved to dip into it; but he took no serious notice of any thing he read in it; and yet while this book was in his hand, an impression was made upon his mind, perhaps, God only knows how, which drew after it a train of the most important consequences. There is, indeed, a possibility, that while he was sitting in this attitude, and reading in this careless and profane manner, he might suddenly have fallen asleep, and only dreamt of what he apprehended he saw. But nothing can be more certain than that when he gave me this relation, he judged himself to have been as broad awake during the whole time, as he ever was in any part of his life; and he mentioned it to me several times afterwards, as what undoubtedly passed, not only in his imagination, but before his eyes.

“ He thought he saw an unusual blaze of light, fall on the book while he was reading, which he at first imagined might happen by some accident in the candle. But lifting up his eyes, he apprehended to his extreme amazement, that there was before him, as it were, suspended in the air, a visible representation of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, surrounded on all sides with a glory; and was impressed as if a voice, or something equivalent to a voice, had come to him to this effect, for he was not confident as to the very words; “Oh! sinner, did I suffer this for thee, and are these the returns?" But whether this were an audible voice, or only a strong impression on his mind equally striking, he did not seem very confident; though to the best of my remembrance, he rather judged it to be the former. Struck with so amazing a phenomenon as this, there remained hardly any life in him, so that he sunk down in the arm-chair in which he sat, and continued, he knew not exactly how long, insensible; which was one circumstance that made me several times take the liberty to suggest, that he might possibly be all this while asleep, but however that was, he quickly after opened his eyes, and saw nothing more than usual.”

The circumstances here related, were the immediate cause of that happy change which took place afterwards in the character and conduct of Col. Gardiner, when, from having been

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