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he compares him with them, only to set him above them; as sufficiently appears by the passage quoted: "The Lord is a great God, and a great king above
"all gods"." In the heathen world there were gods many, and lords many.' An Israelite acknowledged one only God, the maker of heaven and earth, and of all the supposed deities that were therein. "All the gods of the heathen (so styled by them) are but idols; but it is the Lord that made "the heavens."
Such, as an Israelite, must have been the sentiments of Jephthah, as well as David; and therefore the citation from his address to the king of the Ammonites will avail nothing to the purpose for which it is adduced: "Wilt thou not possess that, which "Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So "whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out "from before us, them will we possess." It cannot be seriously thought that Jephthah, a judge in Israel, intended to acknowledge the real divinity of the Ammonitish idol, Chemosh. No: the argument is evidently of the kind which logicians style argumentum ad hominem, an argument formed upon. the principles of the adversaries, and therefore conclusive to them. "You deem yourselves entitled to
any possession acquired, as you imagine, by the "assistance of him whom you call your god, and can"not reasonably expect us to yield that which we "know the Lord our God has awarded to us." Jephthah, in a negotiation with the Ammonites, had
a Judg. xi. 24.
z Page 19.
no occasion to discuss the subject of their idolatry, or tell them what he thought of Chemosh; but states the matter according to their own ideas, supposing them, for a moment, to be true, though he believed them to be false; as is done every day.
Voltaire has amused himself much with this text, and between one and another of his manifold publications, kept it up like a shuttle-cock. He struggles hard for it—but in vain. "The words of Scripture," says he, "are not, Thou thinkest thou hast a right "to possess, &c. but expressly, Thou hast a right to possess, &c. for that is the true interpretation of "the Hebrew words, otho thirasch"." Ay, my little man, so it is, according to the Vulgate-" Ti"bi jure debentur." But any modern schoolboy would have informed thee better, and told thee, that the words, in very deed, denote neither more nor less than, "Thou wilt possess it." Are we to give up our Bible, and pin our faith upon the sleeve of such a man as this?
After Balaam's Ass, the Canaanites, and Chemosh, one naturally expects-and lo, she is at hand
THE WITCH OF ENDOR.
It was not unusual among us here in England some years ago, for an old woman, if she had the misfortune to live at the corner of a common, to be suspected of witchcraft, and tossed into a horsepond, to see whether she would sink or swim. To put an
wn n Treatise on Toleration, chap. xii.
end to such ridiculous barbarities, as well as some others of a more serious and solemn kind, the legislature of Great Britain very wisely ordained, by an Act of 9 G. II. ch. 5. that no person should in future be vexed or prosecuted under that notion; and that whoever pretended to any thing of the kind, should, on conviction, be adjudged to the pillory. These gentlemen have their fears upon this occasion, for the authority of the Bible. I cannot say, for my part, that I feel any such apprehensions.
Page 23. "The witch of Endor and the Jewish law, both prove by divine argument (whatever "that may be), the existence of such professors, "though, like miracles, they have now ceased to "appear."
But the non-existence of miracles at present is no proof that they never existed; for they most certainly once did exist, if evidence be evidence. The argument therefore is full in their own teeth; and there might be witches, as well as possessed persons, formerly, though there may be none now. The Bible may yet be true, and (blessed be God) the parliament not infidel. They "deplore the infidelity of "that parliament." Bold words these, indeed! I would not have said such things of any parliament, for the world-They are apprehensive of persecution -Let them take care another time.
It appears by the Jewish law, that there were then men and women, who, in the language of our translation, are styled "diviners, observers of times, en"chanters, witches, charmers, consulters with fami
"liar spirits, wizards, and necromancers "." 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 question, 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
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 true Samuel, with a true and faithful message, quite contrary to what the woman and Saul had expected:
• Numb. xxiii.
f 2 Kings, i. 4.