DOGMATIC AND SCHOLASTIC - THE VARIOUS QUESTIONS CONNECTED WITH IT CONSIDERED AND PROVED.
CHAPTER XIII. THE PLACE WHERE PURGATORY IS. Part 4.
II. The limbus of the fathers is proved to be under the earth. cont.
There are other places in the sacred books, in which God anticipated the soothsayer, as he did in causing Samuel to appear before the woman exercised her dark craft. In the Fourth Book of Kings (Ch. i. 16.), there is a description of how, when Ochozias, king of Israel, had sent messengers to consult Beelzebub, the god of Accaron, as to whether he should recover from his illness, God anticipated the Accaronite idol, by sending an angel to command the prophet Elias to go and tell the sick ruler that he should not rise out of the bed on which he lay, but that he should surely die. It is also related in the Book of Numbers(Ch. xxii. 32.), that when Balaam, the sooth sayer, would consult the devil on behalf of Balac, king of Moab, he was prevented by an angel of the Lord to do so; and, instead thereof, he uttered a sublime prophecy about Israel and her long-expected Messias, whom she was to slay.
But, Samuel complained to Saul: " Why hast thou disturbed my rest, that I should be brought up?" It does not follow from this mode of speech that he was brought up by the witch of Endor. The rest of the prophet may be said to be disturbed, because, as Cornelius a Lapide and Menochius observe, he was moved to anger, according to our way of thinking, at the unworthy manner in which Saul endeavoured to raise him up, and to learn his fate from him. Or we can hold again with the same two interpreters, that he may be said to be disturbed, because he was called forth from the state of rest and peace which he enjoyed, and asked to implicate himself in the troublesome affairs of this world. But that Saul may be said to have disturbed the rest of Samuel, and brought him up, it is enough that his profane curiosity was the occasion of his coming up. Nothing more than this is required. It is not required that the witch should be the efficient cause of it.
However, there would be nothing indiscreet or absurd in our concession, were we to allow that the demon resuscitated Samuel. There is nothing more remarkable or impossible in his doing this, than in his bearing Jesus Christ, the Lord of Samuel and all the prophets,to the pinnacle of the temple, or to the top of the mountain. Hence, St. Augustine *, speaking on the matter, says : " If this causes alarm, that it may have been allowed to the malicious spirit to raise the soul of a just person, and as if to call forth from the hidden receptacles of the dead, is it not more wonderful that Satan took our Lord Him self, and placed Him upon the battlement of the temple ? The manner in which he may have done this is hidden to us ; just as is also the manner in which it happened that Samuel was raised up. Unless by chance some one may say, that the liberty to take the living Lord whence he wished, and to place him where he wished, came easier to the devil, than to raise up from his abode the spirit of the dead Samuel."
2. The opinion which maintains that the true Samuel appeared is strengthened by the authority of many Fathers, who hold it, although it must be admitted that other Fathers take an opposite view.
The first we shall name as in favour of the real apparition of Samuel, is Origen. He accepts it in this sense, and proves it to be so, by many arguments, when treating on the twenty-eighth chapter of the First Book of Kings.
Justin the Martyr, in his dialogue with Tryphon, proving the immortality of the soul, speaks thus : " That souls survive (the body) could prove even from this, that the ventriloquous Pythoness called up the soul of Samuel, such as Saul had requested."(Ita ut Saul petierat.) In the opinion of St. Justin, the true Samuel was called up. If it was a demon, under his spectre, that came forth, Justin could not adduce this fact as a proof of the immortality of the soul. In addition, it will strike the reader, that Justin states the soul of Samuel rose, " such as Saul had requested." But Saul requested to have brought before him the soul of Samuel, and not a demon representing him or assuming his appearance. Then Justin the Martyr was under the conviction that the true soul of Samuel appeared.
St. Augustine was of the same opinion. This is evident from the following quotation, which is taken from one of his works. (De Cura pro mortuis gerenda, Ch. 15) "The divine Scripture testifies that some of the dead have been also sent to the living, as on the contrary Paul from among the living was taken up into paradise. For Samuel, the dead prophet, even foretold the things that were about to happen to the living king Saul (although some may think it was not he who could have been called up by magic arts, but that some spirit, fit for such evil works, had formed his likeness) since the book of Ecclesiasticus, which Jesus the son of Sirach, is handed down to have written . . . contains, in praise of the Fathers, that Samuel even after death, prophesied," &c.
St. Ambrose too, holds, that it was Samuel in person who appeared, and foretold his unhappy, but merited, fate to Saul. This holy Father (In C. I. S. Luc.) says: "Samuel after death according to the testimony of Scripture, was not silent as to future events."
Other Fathers may be quoted in defence of the true apparition of Samuel. But it would be superfluous to do so; because when the Fathers disagree on any subject, we should attend not to their authority, but to the arguments by which the subject is sustained.
* Lib. 2 de diversis quaestionibus a Simpliciane propositis, q. 4.