Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)
Winchester Row, Dec. 4, 1784.
Dear Brother in Christ Jesus,
GRACE, mercy, and peace, be with thee. I am willing to comply with your request, in shewing you my opinion on the matter referred to; but I think there is an abler hand, that lives near you, of whom yon might get satisfaction about that matter. I own the devil's raising of Samuel is a singular history; and when I first set off in the ways of God, is was very puzzling and terrible to me. I have read it till my hair has moved on my head; and; when I inquired of some professors, they told me it really was Samuel the prophet that the witch of Endor brought up. But for my part, I cannot believe it; for God has promised that his people shall be gathered in peace; and that their bodies shall rest in their beds; and I cannot think that it is in the power of the devil to break the promise of God. It is said of those who died m faith, that they yielded or gave up the ghost. And those souls that are committed into the hands of Christ must be safe; the wicked cease from troubling them in that state, and the weary are at rest. I have disputed with people who have laboured with the Hebrew text in favour of the opinion that it was Samuel, but I was never convinced by their arguments.
If Satan can bring a soul out of paradise who departed in faith, and raise a body out of the grave that was once a temple of the Holy Ghost, he is not only the god of this world, but a rifler of the next. However, Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life; and he is too jealous of this honour to give it to his enemy. I do not see any great difficulty arise from his being called Samuel. Men possessed with the devil are called sometimes prophets, when the adjective, false, is left out. Satan you know is called an angel of light when he has transformed himself; and if he can counterfeit the rays of an angel, why not the mantle of a prophet?
What the pretended Samuel said to Saul, does not seem at all to disprove what I have said; Satan can easily predict the ruin of a man, when a just God has left him in full possession of him. And for the devil to own that the kingdom was given to David, was nothing difficult; for the Lord was with David, and that Satan knew; because all his plots to take away his life had proved abortive.
It was no great difficulty for Satan to predict the fall of Israel; a diligent devil is not idle in a field of battle; and he knows it will go bad with any host, if the God of armies is departed from it.
Saul owned that God was departed from him, and that he answered him no more, neither by prophets nor by dream. And this Satan well knew; for an evil spirit from the Lord had possessed him long before that; and I believe it was that evil spirit from the Lord that led him to the witch of Endor; and, by the permission of God, it was the same that answered him when he came there. You know the scriptures tells us, that if a man rejects the word of Lord, or receives not the truth, in the love of it, that God will send him a strong delusion, that he may believe a lie; and I believe this to be the case here; nor have I a single doubt of Saul's faith in it.
That which seems to puzzle you most, is his saying, "Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me," 1 Sam. xxviii. 19. If you suppose that that means they were to be with Samuel in the grave, it is false, for they were not buried on the morrow; or if you think that the supposed Samuel meant they should be with him in heaven, that cannot be credited; for Saul declares that God was departed from him, and you know the blessing is to them that die in the Lord, but not to them who are without God, and have no hope in the world.
The Holy Ghost says, "So Saul died for his transgressions 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 hath a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; and inquired not of the Lord; therefore he slew him," 1 Chron. x. 13, 14. Now, if it be granted that the witch really raised Samuel, doubtless it was the Lord that spoke by Samuel: but the above cited passage says, that he inquired not of the Lord, but of the familiar spirit. They therefore that try to prove that phantom to be Samuel, make Samuel an evil spirit, ascending out of hell. I shall say no more about hellish phantoms; only add, that if we keep up a close walk with the dear Redeemer, and enjoy the Spirit's testimony in our consciences, we shall certainly die in faith; and if we make this blessed end, I believe we shall get far enough out of the reach of either devils or witches.
I believe that evil spirits usually appeared to their familiars in the shape of a brute, as appears by the idols that were worshipped. But the devils in that shape would not have done for Saul; Saul says, "Bring me up Samuel;" he wanted counsel from a devil in the shape and garb of a prophet. The woman seeing the devil come up as an angel of light, cried out, I see gods ascending, and I do not wonder at it; for I dare say she had never seen her sweetheart in the rays of an angel and with the gravity of a prophet before. Be not offended at the word sweetheart; God says, they sacrificed to devils, Deut. xxxii. 17; and went a whoring after devils, Levit. xvii. 7.Farewell; thine to serve,
W. H. S. S.William Huntington