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Though Saul still occupied the throne, he felt— u the meanest sinner in his realm might feel— the goadings of a guilty conscience, and heard hia approaching downfall in the low but awfully distinct mutterings of the Divine wrath which his folly and rebellion had provoked. A heavy load lay upon his heart. His rest was disturbed when he sought his couch at night, and the reflections of his waking hours were poignant and harassing. His eye had lost its brightness, his countenance its calm, his step its buoyancy, his spirit its confidence and courage. Shadows of, he knew not what coming catastrophe, awaited him. And while he saw the necessity for determined action, to retrieve, if it were possible, his waning affairs, and revive the drooping energies of the men, who still shouted "God save the King," his conscience made sucli a coward of him, that the wisest counsels became void through his trembling indecision. The secret to this painful condition is found in these words: "The spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him."
The literal import of this passage need not trouble us. Nor is it greatly important to inquire curiously, whether the evil spirit which possessed Saul, proceeded in fact "from the Lord," in a sense any different from that in which Satan proceeded from the Lord, when permitted to smite and torture Job, or whether the "spirit" itself were an actual demoniac, like those which cowered and fled before the voice and presence of the Nazarene. It is enough to know, that when the spirit of the Lord departs from a man, he is left to himself—harrowed by his own evil thoughts, stung by remorse, scourged by unsanctified passions, which are often fiercer than the lacerating fiends which exhausted their malignity upon the poor wretch "possessed among the tombs." A man deserted of God becomes possessed of the devil. The evil spirit enters the heart when the good Spirit leaves it; and enters it because no barrier is left to shut out its baneful approach. Its presence is soon manifest . The
works of the flesh, fruits which are "earthly, sensual, devilish," quickly appear. The guilty bosom becomes its own tormentor. Happiness, which can only spring from a mind at peace with God, cannot live amid the jar and tumult of the passions. The man goes about seeking rest and finding none. He is abandoned to the power of the adversary, who has promised to reward freely all who bow down to him and serve him, but who exhibits his true character "a liar from the beginning," by dealing out to his dupes, the moral death which is " the wages of sin."
It was thus with the royal Saul. God's spirit had left him on account of his transgressions, and with it had gone the cheering sense of the Heavenly Father's smiles. The spirit of darkness had entered his bosom, making him morose, gloomy, irascible, and wretched. He needed ease for the agitation of his mind, repose for a tossed and troubled spirit. He sighed for relief from the upbraidings of conscience. Joseph us thus characterizes Saul's unhappy condition, "As for Saul, some strange and demoniacal disorders came upon him, and brought upon him such suffocations as were ready to choke him; for which the physicians could find no other remedy but this, that if any person could charm those passions by singing, and playing upon the harp, they advised him to inquire for such a one, and observe when these demons came upon him and disturbed him, and to take care that such a person might stand over him, and play upon the harp and recite hymns to him." These "demoniacal disorders" were probably nothing more than Saul's evil passions, which appear at this time to have gained the perfect mastery. They were foul fiends indeed to oppress and torture the royal victim, or throw him into a state of profound melancholy which poisoned his peace. Can a physician be found skilful enough to stanch the wound of this bleeding breast? Is there any adequate remedy to calm the ruffled spirits, and bring back to this torn mind the ease and tranquillity of a former day I
THE EXORCISM WROUGHT BY DAVID'S HARP
A simple remedy is proposed. The advice is couched in these words, spoken to the sufferer, "Seek out a man who is a cunning player on an harp, and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand and thou shall be well." The counsel is considered good, and is followed at once. David is pointed out to Saul as possessing the requisite qualifications for an office of this kind. He is sent for and comes. His countenance is boyish, frank, and fair, his manners are winning, and he pleases the king. He strikes his tuneful harp at the proper signal, and lol the evil spirit flies, not able to abide the potent charm of the melodious instrument, accompanied, as Josephus says, by the recitation or chanting of appropriate hymns. Thus "David's music became Saul's physic," as quaint Matthew Henry expresses it. While every other remedy to abate the king's disorder had been perhaps unavailing, there was a balm residing in the harp-strings of the boy shepherd, which, applied in proper measure and at the right interval, refreshed the king's heart and made him well, driving far off for the time the hateful epirit that harrassed him. No wonder that Saul found pleasure in a physician who cured him so gently, with a remedy which it was so delicious to take, and which, instead of weakening him, made him stronger from the first moment of its operation.
What was the nature of this spell that David exerted over Saul? Was it magic, or witchcraft, or sorcery, or divination in any of their forms f Was it any supernatural energy, exerted through a human medium, at God's will, to quiet the passions and restore peace to a man, once honored and still exalted as the chosen king of his chosen people? The question needs no such interpretation. It was none of the causes mentioned; it was, in fact, no extraordinary cause at all, that produced so wholesome an effect upon the condition of Saul. The mere power of sacred music—a power, elevating, soothing, tranquillizing, touching to the quick the refined sensibilities of the Boul, though they had lain long dormant—is alone able to account for it. Granting to Saul the keen susceptibility to the influence of music, which his nation possessed in no small degree, and all mystery, as to the effects upon him, of David's cunningly-struck harp-strings, at once vanishes. His heart, stubborn and stony as it was, could not resist the sweet insinuating strains of the youthful player, any more than the snow Or the ice can resist the searching beams of a vernal sun.
Behold the gloomy monarch—it is a striking picture of which he forms the foreground; behold him here upon his lofty seat which none but majesty may press. His brow is dark, his countenance is lowering, bis words are few and stern, his whole appearance denotes the unrest of his mind, the inward laceration caused by the unruly demons of passion that hold him in their 11 thrall. His servants tremble as they approach him, and shrink from any attempt to soothe his chafed spirits, or conciliate bis morose mood. The boy minstrel is ushered into the royal presence, and, taking his appointed place with his harp before him, prepares to "minister to a mind diseased." He touches the responsive strings with a bold and practised hand. Softly, soothingly, sweetly gush forth the liquid notes, now swelling into lofty strains, which express gratitude, praise, confidence, hope, joy,—and now sinking into soft, low cadences, which seem to speak the plaintive utterance of a heart sighing for the pardon of the sins it deplores, and at the same time rejoicing in the heavenly forbearance and mercy. The execution is wonderfully varied, and each modulation of the skilful harpist touches some chord in the royal hearer's breast, and heightens the power of the charm that is beginning to work upon him visibly. The voice of the player, with its rich tones, accompanies the animating strains; the whole set off, and made more intensely impressive, by a countenance beaming with the unmistakable emotions of a devout and living soul. He not only "plays skilfully with a loud noise," but sings the while "unto the Lord a new song"—for the utterance of the heart's deep gratitude and love, though repeated never Bo often, is ever to the Lord's ears a song fresh and new. And lo I the effect of this medicine upon the royal patient Gradually his features relax. Their cold, desponding, repulsive expression vanishes. His heart acknowledges the epell of the musical charmer. Tears course their way down his cheeks. The fire of genial sympathy, of devout enthusiasm, glows in his eye. His spirit revives. And if Saul is not actually among the prophets once more, he is at least a man amongst his fellowmen, "alive to the humanities," and confessing that the Boul within him is not wholly lost to the sway of those nobler sentiments, which were not dead but sleeping. David's harp has, for the time at least, exorcised the unclean spirit, and Saul rejoices with his rejoicing friends.
The effect of the departing of the evil spirit out of Saul, was twofold, he "was refreshed and
was well." The former might have been produced without the latter. The far-reduced sick man may be greatly refreshed by some soothing draught or opiate, while his disorder, untouched, remains in all its strength, ready to return with fiercer rigor after the brief interval of alleviation. The weary and worn spirit may find transient reat, from various external appliances, only to sink into a worse condition, when the short-lived palliative shall have ceased its work. Saul might have been refreshed by David's minstrelsy, while it lasted, only to relapse into deeper despondency when the tones of the music ceased to vibrate on his ear. Such is often the case. The mind preying on itself, is beguiled from its harrowing reflections by the sights of the world's pageantry, or the sounds of its varied merriment and gaiety. No sooner does it shut out the glare and the din and retire within itself, than it collapses, and the same grim phantom of desolation aspires to haunt it. Not thus was Saul refreshed. His rest was the index not of a quick relapse but a quick restoration. His was the refreshment of one who having long wrestled with scorching fever or racking pain, and falling at length into profonndest sleep, with deep-drawn respiration and pulses calmly beating, awakes at length to find his worst symptoms gone, and health just before him His being refreshed was the step taken from feebleness to strength. He was well, for the evil spirit that goaded him sore had departed from him—not finally it may be—not barred out so absolutely that return was impossible, but liable to come back as soon as Saul should again swerve from duty and lapse into rebellion. He could remain well only while he remained loyal to God and true to his trusts. While the evil spirit now banished, might reenter through the open door »f a heart reckless and defiant,— faith, truth, devout dependance, the consciousness of strength in God only, would form ramparts which Satan himself would not have the hardihood to scale nor the power to break down.
Such was the effect of David's harp upon Saul. It refreshed him and made him well It wrought a cure for the time that would have been a lasting one, but for the mad passions which hurried the royal convalescent into fresh excesses. The rich tones of the music melted the hard heart of Saul within him, brought back by the power of association "the former times which were better than these,"—the times when God was with him, and His service was sweet, and His frowns dreadful,—when his own conscience was tran
quil and Israel's true honor was his highest joy, and her prosperity his constant aspiration. It filled him with tenderness—this soft music—as he thought upon all God's mercy, so long lavished, so often abused, and his monstrous folly in forsaking the Rock, which had been both fountain and foundation to him, and seeking elsewhere for comfort and support. It raised his swimming eyes toward the hills,—this melting minstrelsy,—whence every good and perfect gift flows down, leading him to long for a return of that blessed communion between the upright soul of the creature and the Creator who succors and upholds, the interruption of which his own waywardness had occasioned, the restoration of which his own deep penitence could alone secure.
These and kindred sentiments might easily be begotten in the soul of Saul by the tuneful strings of David's harp. That they would refresh him greatly will readily be supposed. That they would relieve him of the malady of a sour and embittered temper, grim and boding fancies, and a heart scourged by the mocking fiends who had entered there in the guise of friends, will not be doubted, at least by any who, haggard and starving from feeding on the " husks " of dissipation and folly, have known the rapture of the resolve, "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight'" Ah, precious effect of the witchery of sweet sounds; potent medicament for a mind diseased 11 Would that the noble patient, refreshed and made well by a charm so effective, had heeded thenceforth the lessons suggested both by his malady and cure. He would have been saved thus from a fatal relapse, and God, who is the friend and refuge of His trusting ones, would have become "the health of his countenance and his God" for ever.
THE DOUBLE-SIDED MAN.
BY PARSON QUILL.
Human nature is indeed a Proteus,—certainly in many eases,—changing itself into all manner of shapes as occasion requires, and if seized and held fast, must, like the fabled Deity, be seized in sleep by some one disguised in seal skins. The Germans have a word which they apply to their great men when they wish to express their capacity for universal and comprehensive excellence. But many-sidedness may have a moral