Monday, December 21, 2015
The Witch of Endor by Rev. Thomas Mitchell 1880
THE WITCH OF EN-DOR by Rev. Thomas Mitchell 1880
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The witch of En-dor was supposed to have raised the prophet Samuel from the dead. This practice was prohibited by such divine statutes as the following: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (Ex. 22: 18). "When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that useth divination, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a wizard, or a necromancer, or a consulter with familiar spirits: for all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord." (Deut. 18: 10-12.)
Here we see that the inhibition was as much against those who consulted the familiar spirits as those who possessed them; and that these terms comprehend every imaginable phase and feature of Spiritualism, which in all ages of the world have been practised by the priests of idolatry, to give a mysterious and false dignity to their various forms of man-degrading superstition and folly. We also see that the modern charmers have selected from this nomenclature "Spiritualism," as the badge of their profession. Notwithstanding this practice was thus prohibited, and by a law of his own kingdom, yet it is recorded of Saul the king, after he found the Lord had forsaken him and he could obtain no more answers, neither by dreams nor by Urim and Thummim (God's appointed method of communication), nor by the prophets, said, "Seek me out a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may inquire of her." It is the women who generally possess the familiar spirit. Saul's servants came and reported that they had found such a woman, who dwelt at a place called En-dor, who was probably a witch of great celebrity. So at night (the season most appropriate for the dark business) Saul and his servants went and held a seance at the house of the Spiritualist. The exact account is as follows:
"Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa. And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. Then said Saul to his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said unto him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor. And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up whom I shall name unto thee. [The Spiritualists had not yet learned the notion afterwards taught by Socrates, that the spirit was the intelligent part of man, and that it went up to heaven at the event the Bible calls death; but Socrates taught that there is no death, only a separation; and therefore they associated their spirit communications with dead and buried men, which could only be received by raising them from the dead. 'Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.'] And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die? And Saul sware to her by the Lord, saying, As the Lord liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing. Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said. Bring me up Samuel. And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul. [Here we see that the moment the medium went into the electric trance by whose agency she could read the images of her own brain, and gliding upon it, had entered the nerves and brain of Saul, as the negative passes to the positive, she saw the image of Samuel, and instantly that also of Saul himself, photographed upon the brain of the living king. 'Thou art Saul'] And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel. [It will be noticed that Saul did not see Samuel, but knew it to be him by the description the medium gave. While Samuel was living he was God's mouth-piece to Saul. He had anointed him to be king, under the inspiration of God. Samuel had stood in the place of God, and reproved Saul for his wickedness; and before whom he had often stood in awe and trembling. Saul had therefore come to view Samuel with the same reverence as though he were God. Hence the Spiritualist read this conception imprinted on the brain of Saul, and she said, 'I saw gods ascending out of the earth.'] And he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed him
[Saul was now a full believer in Spiritualism. She had given him the test of discovering him to be the king, calling him by name, which his disguise rendered impossible for her to know in the ordinary way. She had also described Samuel the prophet to his entire satisfaction; which therefore confirmed his conviction that in some way "divinity" was connected with these revelations. Hence he had said unto her, "Divine unto me, I pray thee." In such presence therefore he bowed himself to the ground. The clairvoyant now puts Saul in communication with Samuel, and the medium read from the brain of Saul his thoughts, convictions, and apprehensions, and returned them to the king in the shape of communications from the dead prophet.]
"And Samuel said unto Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? [This would naturally be the first reproof Saul anticipated.] And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do. Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? And the Lord hath done to him [to Saul, showing that the communication was about Saul, but through the medium], as he spake by me: for the Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbor David; because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the Lord done this thing unto thee this day. Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me; the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines. [It will be seen that the medium only told Saul what he already knew and what he anticipated in the future. Then follows the description of the effect this supposed divination had upon the king.]
"Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night. And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me. Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee; and eat, that thou mayest have strength when thou goest on thy way. But he refused, and said, I will not eat. But his servants, together with the woman, compelled him; and he hearkened unto their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed. And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof: and she brought it before Saul, and his servants; and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night" (1 Sam. 28 : 3-25).
So powerful was this supposed revelation from the dead prophet, that it wrought out its own fulfilment. From that moment Saul could see nothing before him but discomfiture, defeat, and death. On the one hand every source of encouragement presented to his bewildered imagination dwindled into insignificance as he contemplated it, while on the other the least unfavorable occurrence was magnified into a dark and hideous omen. Thus was the abandoned king rendered an easy prey to his enemies. So confidently did he credit the supposed prediction of Samuel, that long before the day passed he is found soliciting his armor-bearer to slay him; and failing, madly throws himself upon his own sword, and suffered a death which might have been averted, had he not consulted the infamous witch.
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