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The Benedictine's Voices






My friend, as a lad, was in a strait between the choice of two
professions. He prayed for enlightenment, and soon afterwards heard
an _internal_ voice, advising a certain course. "Did you act on it?"
I asked.

"No; I didn't. I considered that in my circumstances it did not
demand attention."

Later, when a man grown, he was in his study merely idling over some
books on the table, when he heard a loud voice from a corner of the
room assert that a public event of great importance would occur at a
given date. It did occur. About the same time, being abroad, he was
in great anxiety as to a matter involving only himself. Of this he
never spoke to any one. On his return to England his mother said,
"You were very wretched about so and so".

"How on earth did you know?"

"I heard ---'s voice telling me."

Now --- had died years before, in childhood.

In these cases the Benedictine's own conjecture and his mother's
affection probably divined facts, which did not present themselves as
thoughts in the ordinary way, but took the form of unreal voices.

There are many examples, as of the girl in her bath who heard a voice
say "Open the door" four times, did so, then fainted, and only escaped
drowning by ringing the bell just before she swooned.

Of course she might not have swooned if she had not been alarmed by
hearing the voices. These tales are dull enough, and many voices,
like Dr. Johnson's mother's, when he heard her call his name, she
being hundreds of miles away, lead to nothing and are not veracious.
When they are veracious, as in the case of dreams, it may be by sheer
accident.

In a similar class are "warnings" conveyed by the eye, not by the ear.
The Maoris of New Zealand believe that if one sees a body lying across
a path or oneself on the opposite side of a river, it is wiser to try
another path and a different ford.





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