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hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to
Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way
when he came up from Egypt ; now. go, and



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78 THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL.

smite Anialek, and utterly destroy all they
have, and spare them not," &c, ("ox and
sheep ** being specially among the things not
to be spared). But Saul and the people
spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and
of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the
lambs, and all that was good, and would not
utterly destroy them ; but everything that was
vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

The whole passage is so deeply instruc-
tive that, at the risk of some incumbering
of this paper by long citations from the
narrative, which I meant to avoid, it must not
be mutilated : " Then came the word of the
Lord unto Samuel saying, It repenteth me
that I have set up Saul to be king, for he is
turned back from following me, and hath not
performed my commandments ; and it grieved
Samuel ; and he cried unto the Lord all night.
And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul
in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying,
Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him
up a place, and is gone about, and passed on,
and gone down to Gilgal : and Samuel came
to Saul ; and Saul said unto him, Blessed be
thou of the Lord; I have performed the
commandment of the Lord. And Samuel



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THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL. 79

said, What meaneth then this bleating of the
sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the
oxen which I hear? And Saul said. They
have brought them from the AmaJekites ; for
the people spared the best of the sheep and of
the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God ;
and the rest we have utterly destroyed."'
Saul can make excuses ; but shows that he
but too well undei'stood the command, by
throwing upon the people the sparing, while
joining himself in the destruction, so far as it
went. But he dealt with the representative
of One with whom vain excuses could not
avail. Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay,
and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said
to me this night : and he said unto him. Say
on. And Samuel said, "When thou wast
little in thine own sight, wast thou not made
the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord
anointed thee king over Israel? And the
Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go,
and utterly destroy the sinners the Amale-
kites, and fight against them until they be
consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not
obej the voice of the Lord ? " Saul repeats
the assertion that he has obeyed, but that the
people spared " the chief of the things, which



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80 THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL,

should have been utterly destroyed, to sacri-
fice unto the Lord." And Samuel said, Hath
the Lord as great delight in bumt-ofierings
and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the
Lord ? Behold, to obey is better than sacri-
fice ; and to hearken, than the fat of rams.
For rebellicm is as the sin of witchcraft, and
stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry : be-
cause thou hast rejected the word of the
Lord he hath also rejected thee firom being
king. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have
sinned; for I have transgressed the com-
mandment of the Lord, and thy words ; be-
cause I feared the people and obeyed their
voice (1 Sam. xv. 10-24). He then entreats
Samuel to turn with him to worship, but he
refuses, and turns from him, whereupon Saul
lays hold of the skirt of his mantle, but only
procures unto himself an adverse and signi-
ficant sign ; for the mantle rent, and Samuel
said, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of
Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to
a neighbour of thine that is better than thou.
Samuel seems, however, not to have lost
his regard for Saul, nor his yearning over
him, though constrained to such severity ;
for, on his renewed entreaty, Samuel turned



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THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL. 81

again after Saul, and though, after this day,
he came no more to see Saul until his death,
yet it is added, Samuel mourned for Saul ;
even so that the Lord said unto him. How
long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have
rejected him from reigning over Israel ? fill
thine horn \Nath oil, and go, I will send thee
to Jesse the Bcthlehemite ; for 1 have pro-
vided me a king among his sons. From this
time it appears that Saul, having forsaken
the commandment of his God, was forsaken
of Him. For after Samuel had anointed
David, upon whom " the Spirit of the Lord
came from that day forward," we read, " But
the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul,
and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled
him." This was evidently a judicial visita-
tion, sealing his rejection and condemnation.
Here, as in other places in the Old Testament,
we see the absolute subjection of the spirits
of evil to God, who could make, even of these,
His ministers to do His pleasure. And Sauls
servants said unto him. Behold, now, an evil
spirit from God troubleth thee. They could
see that this access of evil was both super-
natural and penal ; and proposed a remedy,
strange enough, in the harp of David him-



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82 THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL.

self, which was permitted to succeed ; and it
came to pass, when the evil spirit from Grod
was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and
played with his hand, so Saul was refreshed,
and the evil spirit departed from him (1 Sam.
xvi. 23). If, as is probable, David's voice, in
holy psalm, accompanied his hand, we may the
less wonder at the power given to his harp to
scatter evil, and refresh with Divine melody.
David having become the attendant of
Saul, who "loved him greatly, and he be-
came his armour-bearer," — it is surprising
that Saul should not have recognized him in
the memorable conflict with Goliath of Gath,
when we find Saul inquiring, " Whose son is
this youth ? '* unless indeed his absence (for
" David went and returned from Saul to feed
his father's sheep at Bethlehem ") had been a
very long one. But having recognized him,
" Saul took him that day, and would let him
go no more home to his fathers house."
Soon, however, Sauls feelings toward him
became utterly changed : jealousy and hatred
to<:)k hold of him when he heard the women,
who came out of all the cities of Israel, after
Davids slaughter of Goliath, to meet Saul
with tabrets, answering one another as they



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THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SADL. 83

played, and saying, Saul has slain his thou-
sands, and David his ten thousands. And
Saul was very wroth, and the saying dis-
pleased him, and he said. They have ascribed
unto David ten thousands, and to me they
have ascribed but thousands ; and what can
he have more but the kingdom ? " And Saul
eyed David from that day and forward ''—
we may be sure with an evil eye, for now
the spirit of evil possessed him. David, on
the morrow, played before Saul, as at other
times, and there was a javelin in Saul's hand,
which he cast, for he said, I will smite David
even to the wall with it : and David avoided
out of his presence twice ; and Saul was afraid
of David, because the Lord was with him, and
* was departed from Saul (1 Sam. xviii 6-12).
But full of interest as is the course of
David, it is not in this paper that it must
be set forth, further than as it was so inter-
mingled with that of Saul, as to compel
notice in any sketch of the case of Saul.
His fear of his unoflFending armour-bearer
was that of the wicked who fleeth when no
man pursueth ; and the various stratagems
whereby he sought to destroy David show
that the evil spirit not only troubled but in-



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84 THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL.

stigated him. He would even make his'own
daughter the prize for such a personal en-
(*ounter by David with the Philistines as Saul
thought would insure his destruction ; as he
said, " I will give him her that she may be a
snare to him, and that the hand of the Philis-
tines may be against him." But being dis-
appointed, "Saul spoke to Jonathan bis son,
and to all his servants, that they should kiU
David." What signal folly as well as sin !
Jonathan "delighted much in David," and
''all Israel and Judah loved David," — "he
l)ehaved himself more wisely than all the
servants of Saul, so that his name was much
set by ; " and it was not likely, as the result
proved, that such an unreasonable and shame-
ful command should bear any other fruit than
due notice to David of his danger.

Upon Jonathan's pleading for David there
was a temporary cessation of Sauls active
hostility; he "hearkened unto the voice of
Jonathan, and Saul sware, As the Lord liveth
he shall not be slain." The renewed success,
however, of David in subduing the Philistines,
seems to have afresh stirred up the envy
and animosity of Saul. Blinded by passion
and resentment, David s valour against the



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THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL. 85

enemies of Saul only provoked the cruel in-
justice of another attempt "to smite David
even to the wall with the javelin ;" and upon
his escape " Saul also sent messengers (assas-
sins) unto David's house to watch him, and
to slay him in the morning." David fled to
Samuel in Kamah, and told him all that Saul
had done to him : Saul pursues him ; and
here we have the extraordinary episode, from
which arose the saying, " Is Saul also among
the prophets?" and which may now be no
further intelligible to us than as the signifi-
cant token that gifts are not graces.

The course of Saul grows rapidly in its in-
famous career ; for, on Jonathan's making ex-
cuse for David 8 absence from the feast of the
new moon, Saul's anger was kindled against
Jonathan, and he said, "Now send and fetch
him unto me, for he shall surely die ; and
Jonathan answered Saul his father, Where-
fore shall he be slain ? what hath he done ?
and Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him ;
whereby Jonathan knew that it was deter-
mined of his father to slay David; so
Jonathan arose from the table in fierce
anger." Doeg the Edomite tells Saul (who
makes bitter complaint against his servants,



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86 THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL.

as if conspiring with David, seeing that he
was still at large), " I saw the son of Jesse
coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of
Ahitub, and he inquired of the Lord for him,
and gave him victuals, and gave him the
sword of Goliath the Philistine." Then Saul
called Ahimelech, and all his father's house,
the priests that were in Nob, and upbraided
him. But Ahimelech, not feven knowing
that David was out of favour, answered,
" And who is so faithful among all thy ser-
vants as David, who is the king's son-in-law ?
... let not the king impute anything unto
his servant, nor to all the house of my father ;
for thy servant knew nothing of all this less
or more" (1 Sa. xxii. 9-15). Saul, only
aggravated by this favourable allusion to
David by the innocent Ahimelech, says unto
his servants, "Turn and slay the priests of
the Lord." He had set at naught, as we
have seen, his own solemn oath that David
should not be slain. He now sets at naught
the immunity of the sacred order, while
giving his blameless victims their honourable
title as " priests of the Lord." But his ser-
vants, even the "footmen that stood about
him," would not obey the sacrilegious and



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THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL. 87

cruel order ; so lie said to the vile informer
Docg, " Turn thou, and fall upon the priests ;
and Doeg the Edomite turned and fell upon
the priests, and slew on that day fourscon^
and five persons that did wear a linen ephod ;
and Nob, the city of the priests, smote he
with the edge of the sword, both men and
women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and
asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword."
Yet the iniquity of Saul, flagrant and im-
pious as it was, still increases, not being yet
full. He continues to seek David to kill
him : after a brief intermission, through an
invasion of the Philistines, "he took three
thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and
went to seek David and his men upon the
rocks of the wild goats.'* It was in this
pursuit that David, to show his innocence
of all disposition to recriminate, cut off the
skirt of Sauls robe privily, when, unobserved,
he came upon him in the cave. Such, indeed,
was the tenderness of David's conscience in
regard to Saul, his king and father-in-law,
that afterward " David's heart smote him,
because he had cut off Saul's skirt, and he
said unto his men. The Lord forbid that I
should do this thing unto my master, the



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88 THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL.

Lord's anointed, to stretch forth my hand
against him, seeing he is the anointed of the
Lord." Saul himself was moved for the
moment, when, leaving the cave, he went on
his way, and David also arose, and " cried
after Saul, saying. My lord the king," and
bowed himself, making such tender expos-
tulation with him and showing the skirt of
his robe in evidence how recently Saul had
been entirely at David's mercy, and how
loyally his life had been held sacred. " And
it came to pass, when David had made an end
of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul
said, Is this thy voice, my son David ? and
Saul lifted up his voice and wept ; and he
said to David, Thou art more righteous than
I ; for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas
I have rewarded thee evil : " a fresh and
aflFecting proof in this case of Saul, that con-
fession is not repentance ! He also acknow-
ledges, " I know well that thou shalt surely be
king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be
established in thy hand," which being by divine
appointment, it is but too plain that Saul was
fighting against God in these persistent at-
tempts to cut off the Lord s anointed.

There wa^ but brief respite from his impious



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THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL. 89

purpose ; for in 1 Sa. xxvi. we find that Saul
arose, and went down to the wilderness of
Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of
Israel with hira, to seek David, but was again
to be moved to the acknowledging of David's
magnanimity in afresh sparing his life, when
he had taken the spear and the cruse of water
from Saul's bolster in the camp at night,
though he would do no more against one
upon whom the Lord's anointing had been
shed. He saw, however, that in Saul there
was no real and abiding change, and said,
I shall one day fall by the hand of Saul ;
there is nothing better for me than that I
should speedily escape into the land of the
Philistines, and Saul shall despair of me, to
seek me any more in any coast of Israel :
and it was told Saul that David was fled to
Gath ; and he sought no more again for him.
It appears that David had judged rightly
that Saul would now cease from what he
would regard as a vain pursuit; not that Saul's
purpose had else been changed. The climax
of his miserable impiety approached : Samuel
was dead : and when Saul's heart greatly
trembled in view of an impending attack
from the Philistine host, and he sought to



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90 THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL.

inquire of the Lord, the Lord answered liim
not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by
prophets. He must have known that Samuel,
notwithstanding his having been the instru-
ment of the Lord s rebukes, had always been
his faithful friend, and strongly desired to be
able in this severe exigency to have recourse
to his counsel. Then he said to his servants,
Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit,
that I may go to her, and inquire of her.
They replied, Behold, there is a woman that
liath a familiar spirit at Endor. It is not
for us in these days to understa.nd all that
belongs to such mysterious permissions of
the overruling providence of God : but as in
our Saviour's day a manifest presence of evil
spirits served to attest his power over them,
so in the Old Testament, where so many
condemnations of witchcraft appear, it may
have been seen meet that the occasion for
them in the evident reality of the crime
should be openly displayed upon the record.
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



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THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL. 91

whom I shall name unto thee. What must
have been his feelings, and what those of the
companions he had made his accomplices,
and introduced to such a scene, when the
woman replied, 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 ? He
swears that she shall be secure, and says,
Bring me up Samuel. And when the woman
saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice, and
said. Why hast thou deceived me ? for thou
art Saul : and the king said unto her, Be not
afraid, for what sawest thou ? and she said,
An old man cometh up, and he is covered
with a mantle ; and Saul perceived that it
was Samuel. The whole chapter (1 Sa.
xxviii) and chap, xxxi., the last of 1 Sam.,
almost requires to be quoted for the full
illustration of these closing scenes in the
teaching history of Saul. Here space only
allows to be told that Samuel distinctly
prophesies the impending ruin of Saul and
deliverance of Israel into the hands of the
Philistines, with express reference to the dis-
obedience which had brought upon him such



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92 THE TEACHING IN THE CASE OF SAUL.

a penal doom. It is, however, remarkable
enough, that though Saul's iniquities were
to be made full even by self-murder, lest
he should be abused by the victorious foe ;
Samuel says. To-morrow shalt thou and thy
sons be with me. There is a trace, after all,
of some dying sense of God and his people in
his distracting horror of falling into the hand
of "these uncircumcised f and Jonathan, one
of the sons to be thus " with Samuel," was,
we know, one of the most admirable of Scrip-
ture characters: we have to observe these
things, to ponder them, and to lay the hand
upon the mouth.

One thing is, however, clear — that the
teaching in the case of Saul invites us to
mark the danger of the first disobedience,
especially when against the favour of God
and his gracious visitation ; to note the down-
ward course of resistance to His will ; to be-
hold, not only the goodness, but the severity
of God.



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"MINISTERS AND MEN IN THE
FAR NORTH."

** Ministers and Men in the Far North." By Alex-
ander Auld, Olrig. Wick : W. Rae. London :
James Nisbet & Co. Edinburgh : Menzies & Co.
1868. Pp. 400.

It is not because this periodical* dates from
"the north" that this notice appears in its
pages. Remote as this " far north " is from
our southern friends, it is also remote from-
ourselves ; but this volume contains informa-
tion respecting some devoted " ministers and
men " in that ** far north " of Scotland that
we think would interest those of our readers
who, amid the many books of our day,
should find time to take it up.

First of all it gives memoirs of five
eminent ministers — Alexander Gunn of
Watten ; John Munro of Halkirk ; the
brothers Finlay Cook of Reay, and Archi-
bahl Cook of Bruan and Daviot; and John
Sinclair of Bruan. Then it memorializes
seventeen of those holy "men " who, without

***The British Friend : " published at Glasgow.

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94 " MINISTERS AND MEN

any regular training or ordination, became
faithful labourers for Christ, and favoured
instruments in gathering souls unto Him.
There are also "brief notices" of twelve good
men, and five good women, who served their
Lord and his people in their day; followed
l)y three sermons, one by each of the brothers
Cook, and the other by John Sinclair ; and by
letters from both the " ministers and men " at
the conclusion. Perhaps these additions to
such lively though rapid sketches of varied
Christian character and usefulness do not
much increase the interest

In the peculiarities of tjrpe and diversities
of service among the individuals thus com-
memorated, all of the far north of North
Britain, there is much that is ^quaint and
racy, and more that is animating and in-
structive. The blessed oneness in the truth
as it is in Jesus, that consists with great
variety of temperament and training, is sig-
nally illustrated. There is something in the
panting of so many members of the Scotch
Kstablishment, unknown to each other, for
deliverance from its trammels, some of which
certain of them lived to see broken in the
great Disruption — much akin in its measure



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IN THE PAR NORTH." 95

to those struggles for freedom from ecclesias-
tical usurpation which were among the
exercises of our first Friends, before they
knew that the same yearnings for deliverance
were at work in the hearts of those to whom,
upon the mutual discovery of their conflicts
and convictions, they afterwards become so
closely united in the fellowship and in the
bonds of the gospel. But our space forbids
more than a mere outline of the design and
contents of this recent volume. At p. 110
we find an expression of Fiulay Cook, which,
while we must deem a simple dependence
upon the renewed putting forth, and leading,
in ministry, the more excellent way, we would
yet willingly believe could be accepted by
many who diflfer from us in thinking it right
to prepare their addresses to the congregation.
"The writer said to him (Finlay Cook), when
he was confined by illness, *You don't need
to study now, the old study will do.' *No,
no,' he replied, *I study every day diligently,
Ac. ; but after all, what is our study but dry
bones, unless the Holy Ghost breathe on it
from on high.' "

A very few other extracts must close this
brief notice. "Illustrative of Mr (Archibald)



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96 " MINISTERS AND MEN

Cooks uniform watchfulness of spirit, we
may mention that he and some friends were,
on the evening of a communion season at
Halkirk, enjoying pleasant and profitable
intercourse, when, to their regret and surprise,
Mr C. suddenly withdrew; next day, how-
ever, they discovered the cause — Mr Cook,
in preaching, made this remark, * You, the
people of God, may and ought to enjoy one
another's society, but when you feel the
Spirit of God departing from your spirits, it
is time for you to separate ' '' (p. 126).

"John Tait (one of the 'men') brought
his friend Francis Swanson with him, &c.
Francis' only utterance was (the question
being marks of the true fear of God), *I think
that a man who had the true fear of the Lord
would, were he alone in a cave in the heart
of the earth, there dread sin as much as in
the presence of his fellow-men'" (p. 178).
John Tait's trial (of sore soul-desertion, after
long close communion with the Lord) was
so deep and so prolonged that it undermined
his bodily health, and laid him low. Mr
Munro, Halkirk, who often visited him, used
to say, "All the doctors in the world cannot
cure John until the Sun of Righteousness



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IN THE FAR NORTH." 97

anew rise on his soul with healing in his
wings." He did not specie much of his ex-
perience at that time, but to two friends who
went to see him he said, " Many seas have
passed over my soul of late, and although I
would not wish to discourage you, let me tell
you that much that passes in the worid for
religion will not be found to be so under the
light of eternity" (p. 176). It is pleasant
that the author can add, " At length, when
the trial of his faith was complete, its victory
was made known to him by the Lord Him-
self, and the peace of God anew filled his soul."

Joseph Mackay said, "The day of grace
is not past with any who rejoice to meet
with any of the Lord s people ; nor would 1
give over hope regarding any who say, ' I
wish I were like them'" (p. 215).

Donald Miller, during a severe illness, "was
visited by a professor of religion, who seemed
to think believing in Christ an easy matter,"
and said, "Pious persons were gloomy people."
"I would not," said Donald, "give their gloom
for your faith. You are the author of your
own faith, and will get leave to be the finisher
of it, for Christ will not be the finisher of any
faith of which he is not the author" (p. 265).

G



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