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“ liar spirits, wizards, and necromancers o. These practices are said to be “the abominations of the “ heathen";" and we know they were continued, lower down, among the Greeks and Romans, whose philosophers were sometimes puzzled how to determine concerning them. With the idolatry of their neighbours the Israelites frequently adopted these its appendages. That there was in them much of juggling and imposture, may be true; but that all was so, is more than many wise and learned men have thought proper, upon a due consideration of the matter, to assert; because, that there are no evil spirits, or that mankind never had any communication with them, are negatives, not easily proved.
Respecting the transaction at Endor, the case, in few words, stands thus. Convinced by proper evidence of the authority of the book in which it is related, we of course believe (having, as we judge, good reason to believe), that the several incidents happened as they are there said to have happened. By what power or agency they were brought about, or how the business was conducted, is another ques. tion, which we must endeavour to solve, if we can do it; if not, it must remain as it is, being confessedly to us, at this distance, of an obscure and difficult nature.
That God should permit evil spirits, employed by a wretched woman, to summon, at pleasure, his departed servants from the other world, is not to be
• Deut. xviii. 10.
d Ver. 9. 12.
imagined. It remains, therefore, either that the whole affair of Samuel's appearance was a contrivance: or that, by the interposition of God, there was a real appearance, which the enchantress did not expect, nor 'could have effected. The surprise and alarm occasioned in her seem to point us this way, and there are two instances recorded in Scripture of a proceeding somewhat similar.
When king Balak had recourse to sorceries and divinations, hoping to procure some relief, or fair promises at least, from them, God himself interposed, and so overruled Balaam and all his divinations, that Balak could obtain no favourable answer from them, but quite the reverse.
In like manner, when king Ahaziah had sent to consult Baalzebub, the demon of Ekron, to know whether he should recover of the sickness he then lay under, hoping, no doubt, to obtain a favourable answer there, as probably he might have done; God himself took care to anticipate the answer by Elijah, the prophet, who assured the messengers, meeting them by the way, that their master Ahaziah should not recover, but should surely die'.
Thus, probably, was it in the case of Saul: when he hoped for a kind answer from Samuel, and, it is likely, would have had a very favourable one from some pretended Samuel, God was pleased to disappoint both the sorceress and him, by sending the truc Samuel, with a true and faithful message, quite contrary to what the woman and Saul had expected :
e Numb, xxiii,
f 2 Kings, i. 4.
which so confounded and disordered him, that he instantly fell into a swoon, and could no longer bear up against the bitter agonies of his mind.
The sense of the Jewish church, about three hundred years before Christ, is given by the author of the book of Ecclesiasticus, when, speaking of Samuel, he says thus : “ After his death he prophesied, and “showed the king his end, and lifted up his voice “from the earth in prophecy, to blot out the wicked“ness of the people 8.” This author plainly enough supposed that it was Samuel himself who appeared in
person, and prophesied to king Saul.
g Ecclus. xlvi. 20.
WE come now to some observations on the cha. racter and conduct of David. . And here, the extracts are more scanty than one should have expected, from Messrs. Bayle, Morgan, and Co. or rather from the last retailer of this kind of ware, the Historian of the man after God's own heart.
Page 21. David is scoffed at for his cruelty towards the Ammonites, shown by "putting them un“ der saws and under harrows of iron", &c.”
Whatever the words in the original may signify, it seems but reasonable to conclude, that if David inflicted on these people punishments extraordinarily severe, there must have been an extraordinary cause. We read in the book of Judges, that the men of Judah“ pursued after Adonibezek, and caught him, " and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.”. Had nothing more been related, this would have appeared a strange instance of savage and wanton barbarity. But what says the suffering prince himself? “Three
score and ten kings, having their thumbs and great “ toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table;
as I have done, so God hath requited me'.” The cruelties practised by the Ammonites upon others
1 2 Sam. xii. 29.
i Judg. i. 6,7
might be returned, by the just judgement of Heaven, upon themselves. There is no ground for supposing that David treated them worse than they would have treated the Hebrews, or than prisoners of war were treated in those times : and Dr. Chandler, it is apprehended, has given very good reasons why the passage should be rendered in the manner following: “ He brought forth the inhabitants, and put them to “the saw, and to iron mines, and iron axes, and “ transported them to the brick-kiln,” or rather “to “the brick-frame and hod, to make and carry “ bricks;" that is, he reduced them to slavery, and put them to the most servile employments. See Chandler's Life of David, vol. ii. p. 227.-a book, which should be carefully perused by those who are disposed to favour us with any fresh disquisitions on the subject of it. But we must proceed to David's sentence on the Amalekite.
The two accounts of the manner of Saul's death, one given in the course of the history, at the close of the first book of Samuel, the other by the Amalekite, at the beginning of the second, are so different, that
one of them (the infidels say, page 26), must be “ false.” Very well; suppose it so to be, and what then? Why then, they put the following resolution of the difficulty into the mouth of their Tom Fool of a Christian, as they call him.
- To this we can only answer, as it becomes the faithful in all such cases " of seeming contradiction; namely, that they were “ both written by the pen of inspiration, conse
quently must both be true, however contradictory