Page images

he was at last destroyed, deserve much attention. There is no reason to doubt that when he was chosen by Jesus, he possessed, like the rest, the capacity of being saved, and was endued with gifts which might have made him an able minister of the New Testament. But the innate worldliness and covetousness were not purged out from him. His practical talents made him a kind of steward of the slender resources of that society, and no doubt he conceived the wish to use the same gifts on a larger field which the realization of the “Kingdom of Heaven” would open out before him. These practical gifts were his ruin. Between him and the rest there could be no real harmony. His motives were worldly, and theirs were not. They loved the Savior more as they knew him better. Judas, living under the constant tacit rebuke of a most holy example, grew to hate the Lord; for nothing, perhaps, more strongly brings out evil instincts than the enforced contact with goodness, and when he knew that his Master did not trust him, was not deceived by him, his hatred grew more intense. But this did not break out into overt acts until Jesus began to foretell his own crucifixion and death. If these were to happen, all his hopes that he had built on following the Lord would be dashed down.

If they should crucify the Master they would not spare the servants; and in place of a heavenly kindom he would find contempt, persecution, and probably death. It was high time therefore to treat with the powers that seemed most likely to prevail in the end; and he opened a negotiation with the high priests in secret, in order that, if his Master were to fall, he might be the instrument, and so make friends among the triumphant persecutors. And yet, strange contradiction, he did not cease wholly to believe in Jesus; possibly he thought he would so act that he might be safe either way. If Jesus was the prophet and mighty one that he had once thought, then the attempt to take him might force him to put forth all his resources and to assume the kingdom to which he laid claim, and then the agent in the treason, even if discovered, might plead that he foresaw the result; if he were unable to save himself and his disciples, then it were well for Judas to betake himself to those who were stronger. The bribe of money,

not very considerable, could not have been the chief motive; but as two vicious appetites could be gratified instead of one, the thirty pieces of silver became a part of the temptation. The treason was successful and the money paid; but not one moment's pleasure did those pieces of silver purchase for their wretched possessor; not for a moment did he reap any fruit from his detestable guilt. After the crucifixion, the avengiog belief that Jesus was what he professed to be rushed back with full force upon his mind. He went to those who had hired him; they derided his remorse. He cast away the accursed silver pieces, defiled with the "innocent blood" of the Son of God, and went and hanged himself (Matt. XXVI: 14:16; Mark XIV: 10-11; Luke XXII: 1-6).


O Time! O Death! I clasp you in my arms,

For I can soothe an infinite cold sorrow,
And gaze contented on your icy charms

And that wild snow-pile which we call tomorrow.
Sweep on, O soft and azure-lidded sky,
Earth's waters to your gentle gaze reply,
I am not earth-born, tho' I here delay;

Hope's child, I summon infiniter powers;
And laugh to see the mild and sunny day

Smile on the shrunk and chill autumnal hours,
I laugh, for hope hath happy place with me,
If my bark sinks, 'tis to another sea.


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

There are differences of opinion as to the facts narrated in the Bible concerning the visit of Saul, King of Israel, to the Witch of Endor and her purported interview with the spirit of the departed Prophet Samuel. The popular view of this matter is that the witch, at the request of King Saul, “brought up" the spirit of Samuel and that Saul conversed with him and learned from him the fate which awaited him in his coming battle with the Philistines. But the question arises, how could a witch, who under the law of Moses was not to be permitted to live, and with whom consultation was forbidden by the Lord, have power to bring forth at her bidding the spirit of a holy prophet? In answer to this query it has been suggested that the woman was not really a witch, but a prophetess who was in hiding. Why she was under the necessity of concealing her whereabouts is not made to appear. It has been alleged that the "prophetess" theory has been held by persons supposed to understand the question thoroughly. Be that as it may, careful investigation of the history of the event will show that there has been great misunderstanding of the subject. Let us first see what the historian relates:

"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 unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a fa

[ocr errors]

miliar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

"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.

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 bast thou deceived me? For 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, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

And Samuel said to Saul, why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? 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, as he spake by me: for the Lord bath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbor, even to 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 tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines. (I Samuel XXVIII: 4-19.)

From the foregoing it is clear that the woman whom Saul visited was one of the class placed under ban, by the commandment of God, because they practiced divination with familiar spirits. Neither prophets nor prophetesses were then banished from the land or held in disrespect. It was only persons condemned by the Mosaic law who had to


hide from the effects of its enforcement. Saul had tried every legitimate means to obtain supernatural guidance, but, as he had departed from the Lord, the Lord had departed from him. There was no answer from heaven to his inquiries; there was no word of the Lord by prophets; there was no communication through the Urim and Thummim, there was no manifestation by vision or by dream; there was no whispering of the divine spirit. In his desperation, Saul turned to the opposite power.

In that he sinned. He knew that he was violating the law of the Lord. When he was serving God, he "put away those that had familiar spirits and the wizards out of the land," but when he fell into darkness he sought the ways of darkness and sealed his own doom. It is written:

"So Saul died for his transgression, which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it." (I Chronicles X: 13).

The law of God concerning these forbidden arts was given through the prophet Moses, and forms part of the Mosaic code: As for instance:

"Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. XIX: 31).

"There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer; for all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord, and because of these abominations, the Lord thy God shall drive them out from before thee." (Deut. XVII: 10-12).

The Witch of Endor, then, instead of being a prophetess of the Lord, was a woman that practiced necromancy; that is, communication or pretended communication with the spirits of the dead; but she was led by a familiar spirit. In other words, she was a spiritual medium, similar to those modern professors of the art, who claim to be under the control of some departed notable, and through him or her to be able to communicate with the dead. It should be observed that in the seance with the king of Israel, Saul did not see Samuel or anybody but the medium or witch. She declared that she saw an old man coming up and that he was covered with a mantle. It was she who told Saul what Samuel was

« PreviousContinue »