Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History
Patrick speaks often about the direction he received from God through dreams in the night. He speaks of a dream in which he was directed to escape after six years of slavery (Confession, sec. 17), it was by a dream also that he was directed to come back to Ireland as a missionary. In that dream he saw Victoricus and heard the “voice of the Irish” crying, “We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us” (Confession, sec. 23).
If you are tempted to think of Patrick as a mystic or fanatic, think again. We ought not to dismiss these dreams as spurious. Throughout the history of the church there have been many great men influenced spiritually by dreams. John Newton testified, “I have had people awakened by dreams.” Alexander Duff, the Scottish missionary to India, was converted after a dream of judgment day. John Bunyan was disturbed by dreams for many years before his conversion as was also Dugald Buchannan, the Scottish poet (1716–1780). Dr. Henry Cooke of Belfast was emboldened to take on the heresy of Arianism in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland after a violent and vocal dream which wakened him and his wife.
This is not mysticism. It is the Lord, through His Word and the natural processes of the mind, awakening sinners and strengthening and directing the saints as He has throughout history. If God can and does direct the mind in things spiritual in the waking hours, why would we doubt that He can do the same in the sleeping hours? Dear Christian, seek with all your heart to live like Patrick with a God-consciousness in the waking hours that is reflected in the sleeping hours. Pray for a mind and heart that are led by the Spirit of God and hear the Lord say, “Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
“If you sweeten your last thoughts with the love of Christ, and the remembrance of your former mercies, or the foresight of eternal joys, or can confidently cast yourselves upon some promise, it will tend to the quietness of your sleep, and to the savouriness of your dreams.”—Richard Baxter