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tain predictions of future events, which could only be known by supernatural means, and shall now receive attention.
1st, It is alleged Samuel's ghost predicted, that “the kingdom of Israel should be taken from Saul and given to David.” Answer: Samuel had publicly declared this before his death, 1 Sam. ch. 14,15. He had also anointed David to be king in presence of all his brethren, 1 Sam. 15: 13. Jonathan knew David was to be king, and so did Saul himself. This was even known at the court of Achish, 1 Sam. 21: 11. It was a fact of public notoriety, 1 Sam. 23: 17. It required neither ghost nor God to predict what before Samuel's death was so well known.
2d, It is also said, Samuel's ghost predicted, that God would deliver Saul and the armies of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.” Answer; who that saw
Saul's age; his distressed condition, the desperate state of the Jews, long borne down by the Philistines; and knew the numerous hosts he had to contend with, would have predicted a favorable issue? Moreover, this woman had just heard Saul say, that God had forsaken him, and did not answer him in any way. If this woman wished to maintain respectability in her profession, it would have been madness to predict any other result. Allowing her to be a heathen, it was well known, if the gods were not propitious, but had abandoned a man or a people, no better fate could be expected for Saul and Israel.
3d, It is also said, “how could this woman predict that on the morrow Saul and his sons should be with Samuel in the state of the dead ?" Answer; the words rendered “to morrow,” are used in other places to express the idea of time future indefinitely, and may be rendered “hereafter shalt thou and thy sons be with me." See Gen. 30: 33. Exod. 13: 14. Josh. 4: 6. But, passing this; any person of ordi
nary sagacity, from a knowledge of Saul's situation, could not well have predicted otherwise. Saul, an old nan, subject to hypochondria, comes to this woman faint and weary, the night before a pitched battle with the numerous and mighty hosts of the Philistines. She sees his terrified condition, she learns from himself, that God had forsaken him, and knew that he and the Jewish nation had revolted from their bondage under the Philistines. If he and his sons did not fall in the battle, yet if taken alive, death was their fate. From these, and other circumstances, there could be little risk in foretelling such a fate to Saul and his family, and that the time had arrive ed when David should be king. Who under such circumstances would have insured their lives ? All bis sons did not die on the morrow.
In concluding our remarks, it ought to be observed, that this account is not given in honor of Saul's character, but to show the wicked, superstitious course he pursued when he forsook Jehovah and his laws. It is delivered to us in the popular language of the times. If the facts were communicated by Saul or any of his servants, we must expect them given, according to their own superstitious notions which influenced them on this occasion. If furnished by the woman herself, no one could expect her to expose her art, and tell us it was all a piece of deception. Should we receive this account as supernatural, and that Samuel's ghost actually appeared and conversed with Saul, it involves very serious consequences. It destroys the criterion of judgment between a true and false prophet. It also teaches, that God gave countenarice to an impostor on this occasion, against whom he had denounced the most severe judgments, see Lev. 20: 27. Deut. 8: 11. We must also believe, that though God refused to consult with Saul at his camp at Gilboa in any shape, yet answered him at Endor by a ghost, brought up from the dead by a heathen impostor, whom he by God's express commandment had banished from Canaan, verse 4. Admit what many build on this passage, and no good man is allowed to rest from his labors in peace. Admit what they say, and ghosts not only visit our world, but some persons have the power to bring them here at their pleasure. Admit it, and we are carried back to all the superstitious notions of the heathen, and yet are commanded by God to have nothing to do with them.
Job 4: 15. 6 Then a spirit passed before me; the hair of my flesh stood up.” It is conceded, this passage does not refer to the ghost or spirit of a man. But if it did, Eliphaz did not see this ghost in the day time, nor even in the night while awake, but while he was asleep. He even could not tell what it was like, but a silence ensued and he heard what is related verses 17-21. Some suppose Job, chap. 7: 14, alludes to this, which shows in what light he viewed it.
Matt. 14: 26,66 And when the disciples saw him walk on the sea they were troubled, saying, it is a spirit (fantasma) and they cried out for fear.” See Mark 6: 49, where the same thing is related. It is a plain case here, that the fears of the disciples were unfounded, as the fact of the case showed. See verse 27. There was no fantasma or false appearance, for the Saviour whom they saw walking on the sea was a reality. It was the disciples' previous prejudices which produced their fears on this occasion.
Luke 24: 37, “ But they were terrified and affrighted and supposed that they had seen a spirit,” (pneuma.) See also verses 38, 39. Nothing is said about this spirit being the ghost of a dead person.
Indeed there was no ghost or spirit of any kind. It is only said, that the disciples supposed they had seen a spirit. The fact of the case convinced them, that it was entirely a supposition ; and that they “were terrified and affrighted” at a mere bugbear created by their own imaginations and educational prejudices. It will be seen from the next Section, that our Lord's disciples on this occasion, showed how deeply they were imbued with the superstitious notions about ghosts and spirits, which prevailed among the heathen nations.
It may perhaps be objected, “if Jesus Christ did not believe in the doctrine of ghosts, or disembodied spirits being seen of men, why did he not correct this superstitious notion in his disciples ?" Answer; Christ used the popular language of the day in which he lived on many other occasions. For example, he spoke of demons, as real beings; of mammon, as a god; of Beelzebub, as the prince of the devils or demons; and of satan, or the devil, as an evil being. He did no more in this case, than we do every day. We speak of Saint Anthony's fire, and of Saint Vitus' dance, but do we believe those saints produce such disorders? We also speak of the rising and setting of the sun, and so do the greatest philosophers. It would be considered a silly affectation to do otherwise. In short, our Lord had no choice left him, but to speak in the popular language of the day, be silent altogether, or appear ridiculous in correcting the popular pbraseology on all occasions.
These are all the texts usually referred to in proof of the doctrine of ghosts. It has no foundation in Scripture, and is opposed by reason and common sense,
For 1st. If the ghost or spirit of a dead person, can be seen and conversed with after death, yea, many
years after it, why is it never seen to leave the body at death, or converse with people at its departure for another world? But was an instance of this nature ever known? who can say he ever saw the soul or spirit of a person leave the body at death? Or what man ever conversed with a spirit or ghost on such an occasion ? But what is the reason it does not show itself then ? And why not console weeping friends in the chamber of death, and warn hardened sinners before it ascends to heaven, or sinks to hell beneath, as well as return years afterward to perform services of far less importance! The fact is, man has no such soul or ghost to be seen.
2d. How comes it to pass, that seeing and conversing with ghosts, are so rare things now, but in former days were quite common occurrences ? To see a ghost now, is as rare a thing as the return of a comet. But formerly, hardly a town or village could be found which had not some houses haunted with them; and scarcely a night passed, but some persons saw them. Are ghosts now prohibited from visiting our world? Or, are they more shy in rendering themselves visible? Is the eyesight of men now not so quick to discern them as formerly? Or, have ghosts all gone off to some other part of the world, where people are more disposed to credit their existence and be frightened at them? The study of the Bible, seems of late years to have frightened away both ghosts and witches. Students of this book, are seldom troubled with such visitants, for it is the study of it which cures them of all such superstitious notions.
3d. If the ghost or spirit of a dead man can be seen and conversed with, must it not be material to be seen by mortal eyes? God is a spirit, but we are assured, no man hath seen or can see him. He the invisible God. If ghosts are pure spirits, why are