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the artful adaptation to their circumstances of the idolatrous abominations that they had seen in Egypt no doubt originated in the same quarter: while the continual outbursts of discontent, disobedience, strife, and open rebellion against their leader, that marked the progress of the rescued tribes through the wilderness, all bear witness to his influence among them. Recollecting, as it has already been observed, that the Holy Ghost declares idol-worship to be devil-worship, we have positive proof that Satan and his legions presided over the heathen nations who surrounded the camp of Israel ; and all the seductive arts practised by Balaam and others, to ensnare the Lord's people into forbidden paths, were certainly of his devising. Moses, when writing, as he is supposed to have done, the book of Job, must have received a very clear revelation concerning the power and activity of this fearful foe, although the record that he was commissioned to leave of his own people's history, makes precise mention of the evil one, as personally interfering with them: but he says, in the Lord's name, of the Israelites, “ They shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring ;" Lev. xvii. 7; and again, " They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.” Deut. xxxii. 17. While against the sin of witchcraft, the acquirement of power or knowledge by means of Satanic communications, the law was very strict. "A man, also, or woman, that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.” Lev. xx. 27. By this we see, that Satan had contrived to obtain a footing among God's peculiar people; that he had seduced them into holding intercourse with his subordinates for the purpose of shår. ing such supernatural gifts as he could impart; and secretly, by fraud and cunning, maintained this ground in the bosom of the visible Church. Most earnestly were they warned against this, the great condemning sin of the nations of Canaan : “There shall not be found among you any one...that useth divination, or an ob. server of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or à 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 doth drive them out from before thee." Deut. xviii. 10-12. That this peculiar mode of destroying God's people was persisted in by the crafty enemy to the very time of our Lord's appearance in the flesh, we have constant proof. When Abimelech, the son of Gideon, by a cruel conspiracy with the men of Shechem, slew his brethren, and obtained the chief power, the Lord defeated and punished both the guilty parties by sending an evil spirit to embroil them to their mutual destruction-a business well suited to the malignant subtlety of a devil ; to whose suggestions, no doubt, or to those of one like him, the young man owed his successful progress in treachery so far. When Saul greatly offended the Lord, his chastisement was heavy: “The
Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” 1 Sam. xvi. 14. Thus commissioned, the evil spirit gave that unhappy king no rest, during the period of his visitations; but alternately depressed with melancholy, cankered with envy, and inflamed with murderous rage the mind of his victim ; impelling him even to hurl a javelin at the loving, dutiful son, whose generosity interposed between him and the ill-requited minstrel, from whose holy strains of music the tormenting devil had so often fled. When the same monarch, in the near prospect of his last fatal battle, consummated his offences by seeking one who had a familiar spirit, and requiring of her the exercise of what he, as the Lord's vicegerent, was solemnly bound to suppress, and if detected, to punish with death, we find him answered according to his folly, and driven to utter despair by the seeming success of an accursed spell. 1 Sam. xxviii.
Much has been written to elucidate, and not a little 10 explain away that extraordinary scene at En-dor; but when all has been said that man can say, there the brief, plain record stands, exactly as they found it, and all the wisdom of the wise fails to throw light on what God has left obscure. The word of God expressly declares that it was Samuel. 6 And Samuel said to Saul
-verse 15. “ Then said Samuel" -16. Saul "was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel ”_20. The terror, too, of the woman, and her remarkable expression, “I saw gods ascending out of the earth,” v. 13, would plainly imply, that her
incantations had been followed by something wholly different from what she anticipated; she had invoked devils, but “ gods," probably bright angelic beings, made visible to her for some wise purpose, appeared, hearing with them the resuscitated body of the buried seer, commissioned to assure the king that he and his sons should, on the morrow, be numbered with Sam. uel and the rest of the dead. We have no reason to suppose that the inspired narrative is otherwise than simply true: indeed, there is a daring presumption in questioning it: “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Rom. iii. 4. Least of all may we listen to those who would, in this case, as in that of Pharaoh's enchanters, represent witchcraft as a mere juggling imposition on the senses of the credulous; and ascribe the woman's astonishment, not to the angelic character of those who came at the call, but to the appear. ance of any spiritual being whatever when she had only meant to play off a deception on the king. We ought rather to hail it as a glorious proof of the Lord's watchful care over the dust, yea, over the names of his own people, which he will not suffer devils to tam. per with ; and whatever difficulties remain to baffle our inquisitiveness, let them teach us humility, and remind us that “ secret things belong unto the Lord our God;" Deut. xxix. 29; and that it is not to believers the description ought to apply, “intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshy mind.” Col. ii. 18.
That devils continued to pollute the land of Canaan, and to exercise their wicked ingenuity in leading the
Lord's people to transgress, we have sufficient testimony. Ezekiel sets before us an awful picture of the abominations committed in Jerusalem by those practices which the Lord had denounced as sacrificing unto devils. In the eighth chapter of his prophecy, he relates what he saw in the “chambers of imagery :" followed by a description of the vengeance to be taken : and Zechariah, prophesying of mercy to be shown when the Lord shall heal the breach of his people, has this promise : “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I will cut off the names of idols out of the land, and they shall be no more remembered : and also, I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirits to pass out of the land.” Zech. xiii. 2. By what artifices these evil creatures opposed the work of God, we are, however, far more distinctly shown in the New Testament, where we find their nature, operations, and objects laid open in a wonderful manner by Him who came upon the strong man, took away his armour wherein he trusted, and divided his spoils.
One specimen of deep cunning is given in the very first instance, particularly related of a case of possession : it occurs in the eighth chapter of St. Matthew's gospel. “And when he was come to the other side of the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass
And behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was