In the middle of the night of the fourteenth of March, Caesar awoke in his bed, and looking down upon Calpurnia, who lay sleeping in the moonlight by his side, he heard her utter in a dream indistinct words and inarticulate groans. When the day dawned, Calpurnia told Caesar how in her dream she had held him bleeding and dying in her arms. She besought him not to stir out of the house, but to adjourn the meeting of the senate fixed for the fifteenth, the Ides of March, to another day.
Caesar was impressed by this dream of his wife, and resolved not to go to the senate on that day. But the conspirators employed one of Caesar's closest friends, Decius Brutus—but not the famous Brutus—to persuade him to go to the meeting. This Brutus asked Caesar what his enemies would say if he sent a messenger to the senate telling them to adjourn for the present and meet again when Calpurnia should have a better dream. Caesar then changed his mind and set out for the senate. On his way through the street a friend who knew of the conspiracy thrust a paper into his hand saying, "Read this, Caesar, alone and quickly, for it contains matter of great importance which concerns you." Caesar thought it a petition and, without reading it, placed it among his other papers. Thus "the fate of the empire hung upon a thread, but the thread was not broken." Had Caesar heeded the dream of Calpurnia, the thread would have been broken and his life would have been spared.
There was another faithful wife who had a dream of immense significance. Pilate's wife, whose name we suppose to have been Claudia, sent a message to him during the trial of Jesus, in which she said, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him" (Matt. 27:19).
On a July day in 1491 the dean of the church at Seville assembled the chapter in the Court of the Elms and said, "Let us build a church so great that those that come after us may think us mad to have attempted it." The result of that dream was the glorious cathedral at Seville.
No great cathedral was ever reared except on the foundation of a great dream, and no great life was ever built except upon the foundation of a dream. Joseph dreamed greatly, and a great life was the result.
The highest and most beautiful dream of all is possible for all; for the Holy Spirit, through whom we reach the goal, is ready to help all and to guide all. What can compare with a Christlike man? What book can compare with the book of a good life? What speech is like the golden eloquence of a pure and Christlike heart? What Titian, or Rembrandt, or Rubens, or Velazquez, or Raphael, or El Greco, can hang alongside that masterpiece of the Holy Spirit, a true Christian life? That is the real goal, that is the high ambition. Dream of that. When we stand yonder by the throne, how poor and mean even the highest dreams of this world will seem in comparison. Here none dreams too late. Even your old men shall dream dreams. The thief dreamed that dream when he hung dying on his cross, and Christ told him that it was not too late. But do not wait till then! Dream now! Make God the chief end of your life.
How sad is the shipwreck of the vessel of one's honorable dreams! In his Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens describes in unforgettable language the man who once had great and beautiful dreams, but was separated from them by his own follies and transgressions. Sidney Carton, the gifted barrister, who ended his life with a glorious act of self-sacrifice, taking the place of Charles Darnay at the guillotine, had wasted the substance of his gifted life in intoxication. Dickens describes him as he goes one morning at the breaking of the day up to his dismal lodgings, sodden with drink after an all-night carousal. "Waste forces within him, and a desert all around, this man stood still on his way across a silent terrace, and saw for a moment, lying in the wilderness before him, a mirage of honorable ambition, self-denial, and perseverence. In the fair city of this vision, there were airy galleries from which the loves and graces looked upon him, gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening, waters of hope that sparkled in his sight. A moment, and it was gone. Climbing into a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears."
Shortly before the death of Senator Matthew Stanley Quay—not only one of the most powerful politicians that the American system has produced, but a man of genius—he was visited by Senator Beveridge from Indiana, a much younger man, opposed to many of the policies of Quay, but with great admiration for Quay's personality and the brilliancy of his intellect. Frail and haggard, Quay sat by the window in his apartment. As Beveridge rose to go, Quay, looking out of the window, said to him, "In a few months I shall be dead, and the papers will say, 'Matt Quay, boss, is dead.' Had I lived my life differently they would say, 'Death of Matthew Stanley Quay, statesman.' Take warning by me, young man."
Then, taking up a copy of Peter Ibbetson, he wrote upon the flyleaf the enigmatic words "Dream true," and gave it to Beveridge as a parting gift.
To dream true, to hitch one's wagon to a star, is the first equipment for the battle of life. General Grant as a cadet at West Point hated the army, and when a bill was pending in Congress for the dissolution of the academy, the young cadet eagerly read the newspapers, hoping that he would find that the academy had been abolished. But one day he saw Winfield Scott, a lieutenant general of the army and the hero of two wars, ride by in a review at West Point; and when he saw that, he thought to himself, "How wonderful it would be if I one day were in Scott's place." Thus even the homesick cadet, weary with his military drill and duties, had his dream of future distinction.
Our dreams are the golden ladder by which we climb to heavenly places. They are the mountain peaks of vision whence we see afar off the country toward which we travel. They are the lantern by whose light we pass safely through dark valleys. They are the inner flame that gives us strength and energy for the struggle. They are the two-edged sword by which we cleave the steaming head of the dragon of temptation, and leave him dying at our feet.
During some revival meetings a woman under deep conviction of sin could not find peace. She asked the preacher and heard from him the way of peace, but was still in deep distress of soul. As friend, converted at the meetings, told her: 'I did nothing, Christ has done all. He "made peace by the blood of His cross.’"
But she could not understand, and still thought she must do something for her own salvation. She went home, kneeled in prayer, fell asleep on her knees, and dreamed. In her dream she was falling over a precipice and clutched at a twig to save herself. A voice said, 'Let go the twig,' but still she clung to it with all her might. 'I cannot save you unless you let go the twig,' came the voice again. With strength almost spent, she let go and found herself in the arms of the Savior. Then she awoke and saw how God in her dream had showed her clearly the way of salvation.
(Job 33. 14-16)
The group of dwellers at the seaside was discussing the subject of dreams and their significance. During a pause, one of the party turned to a little girl who had sat listening intently, and asked:
"Do you believe that dreams come true?"
"Of course, they do," the child replied firmly. "Last night I dreamed that I went paddling—and I had!"