More than half a dozen Democrats and Republicans on the Iran-contra panels turned the tables on former White House aide Oliver L. North yesterday, lecturing him on God, patriotism and the constitutional duties of the president in conducting foreign policy.

After four days of listening while the personable Marine lieutenant colonel expressed his opinion that the president has almost unlimited power to conduct secret activities abroad -- and suggested it is Congress' patriotic duty not to interfere -- North's critics on the committee, some eloquent, others simply angry, had their day.

"You asked that Congress not cut off aid to the contras 'for the love of God and for the love of country,' " Sen. George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) said. "Please remember that others share that devotion {to this country} and recognize that it is possible for an American to disagree with you on aid to the contras and still love God, and still love this country, just as much as you do."

Sen. Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.), cochairman of the Senate panel, took issue with an earlier North statement that Congress "must accept the blame" for the White House's secret aid for the contras because of its "fickle" funding policies.

Rudman, who has supported U.S. aid to the contras, pointed out that public opinion polls have consistently shown that a majority of the American people have been against such assistance since 1981. "The American people have the constitutional right to be wrong," he said. "And what Ronald Reagan thinks, or what Oliver North thinks, or what I think, or what anybody else thinks makes not a whit if the American people say 'enough.' And that's why this Congress has been 'fickle' and has vacillated."

North's defenders, however, were equally fervent. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) told North: "I don't want you prosecuted. I don't. I don't think many people in America do. And I think there's going to be one lot of hell raised if you are."

At the same time, Hatch said, the hearings had convinced him that mistakes had been made. He said he disapproves of the U.S.-Iran arms sales, covert operations run by the National Security Council, lying to Congress, and the diversion of arms sale funds to the Nicaraguan rebels, which he said was a "neat idea" -- but not right.

Hatch was also troubled by North's view of the relationship between Congress and the executive branch. When Hatch asked North whether he thinks Congress should play any role in foreign policy, North responded: "There is a role, and that is the appropriation of monies to carry out that policy."

Hatch, and several other committee members, were taken aback. "Well," Hatch said, "we can look at the policy and determine if we think it's good or bad."

Rep. William S. Broomfield (R-Mich.) echoed Hatch's statement that North should not be prosecuted. "I don't want to see you go to jail because I think you're a great patriotic American, and I'm proud of what you've tried to do," Broomfield said. But he said he also opposes the arms-for-hostages dealings with Iran, believes Congress should be informed of covert operations, and thinks they should be run by the Central Intelligence Agency, not the NSC.

In other developments yesterday:

Senate panel Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) announced that, in response to a request from former national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane, the committees have agreed to recall him for additional questioning today "in light of certain statements made by Col. North."

In his earlier sworn testimony, McFarlane made statements that conflict with those of North on a number of key issues. For example, North testified that McFarlane sanctioned his fund-raising activities on behalf of the contras. McFarlane testified May 11 that he made "a special point of stressing to my staff" that they were not to "solicit, encourage, coerce or otherwise broker financial contributions." North also testified that he arranged for a contra bank account to be set up in the Cayman Islands -- with McFarlane's knowledge or approval.

Their testimony also is in conflict on whether McFarlane knew that North had asked retired major general Richard V. Secord to help set up a private network to supply arms to the contras in 1984. North said he acted with McFarlane's concurrence; McFarlane said he did not know about Secord's involvement until November 1985.

North also testified that McFarlane was aware that his letters to Congress in 1985 had misrepresented the nature of his activities in support of the contras. McFarlane, whose signature was on the letters, testified that he signed them even though he had "suspicions" that they went too far and were too categorical in denying that North engaged in activities outside the Boland Amendment.

Rep. Peter W. Rodino Jr. (D-N.J.) revealed yesterday that North's former deputy at the NSC, Robert L. Earl, had given private testimony to the effect that North sought a delay of between 24 hours and 48 hours in the Justice Department's review of NSC files relating to the Iran arms sales.

North said he recalled discussions with Attorney General Edwin Meese III's office, and "maybe the attorney general himself" last Nov. 21, but said the discussion was about a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of Southern Air Transport company, which had provided services in support of the contras and the Iran arms sales.

The FBI investigation had been delayed since last Oct. 30 as a result of a phone call from then-national security adviser John M. Poindexter, who Meese has said was concerned that the people the FBI wanted to interview were then involved in a final U.S.-Iran arms transfer that led to the release of a hostage.

But in a memo for the record dated Nov. 14, 1986, North referred to the delayed FBI investigation as focusing on "Secord's involvement" in support of the Nicaraguan resistance. This could be a significant distinction because the memo raises the question that the FBI was asked to delay an inquiry into the central private-sector figure in the Iran-contra operations.

In April 1986, when North was reporting to his superiors at the NSC that the situation for the contras was "very dismal unless a new source of bridge funding can be identified," there was $4.6 million in proceeds from the U.S.-Iran arms transactions sitting in foreign bank accounts, according to Sen. Paul S. Trible Jr. (R-Va.). Trible said the funds were under the control of North's private-sector collaborators, Secord and Albert A. Hakim. North said he was unaware such large sums were being held by the Secord-Hakim "enterprise."

North, when questioned by Sen. William S. Cohen (R-Maine) about a report in Washingtonian magazine, denied that he had direct access to the president on at least one occasion without being logged in. "I have never made any surreptitious visits to the president, sir," he said.

Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, director of the National Security Agency, denied telling Inouye in a recent telephone conversation that there had been no leaks of classified information by the Iran-contra panels. Inouye had mentioned the phone call from Odom to refute the implication he said some had from North's testimony that "members of Congress cannot be trusted with the secrets of this land."

In a letter reprinted in full yesterday in The Washington Times, Odom commended Inouye for doing an "excellent job" of containing leaks of specific signal intelligence, but said in reference to the committee's handling of classified intelligence material, "I simply do not know whether or not that is true."

North's testimony and documents provided by him have set the stage for the committees to examine more closely the question of a "lost" White House document: the November 1985 presidential authorization for the CIA's involvement in an arms transfer that month from Israel to Iran.

North testified that he had seen a copy of the document, called an intelligence finding, in Poindexter's office. North said the document was signed by President Reagan, but Reagan has said he cannot recall signing it, and White House officials say it cannot be located. The committees have a draft copy of the finding, which it obtained from CIA files.

When Reagan first appeared before the Tower review board, he said he could not recall how the shipment came about and had, in fact, objected to it. However, McFarlane has testified he informed the president of the shipment ahead of time. North's notes, released yesterday, carry a handwritten entry for a Nov. 26, 1985, meeting with Poindexter. It begins, "RR directed op to proceed," an apparent reference to Ronald Reagan's direction that the arms transfer operation proceed.

The finding became a major problem for the administration last November when the story of the arms transfers broke, because it bluntly describes them as an arms-for-hostages deal -- a politically loaded description heightened by Reagan's own initial denials of such a linkage.

A Nov. 14 North message to Cmdr. Paul B. Thompson, NSC legal officer, on the subject "finding on Iran" contains a cryptic note that it would be "best to have Ken's office do this through their normal channels rather than have North's fingerprints on it." "Ken" apparently refers to Kenneth E. deGraffenreid, whose NSC intelligence directorate managed sensitive document security.

Yesterday the committee announced it would take public testimony, possibly today, from James R. Radzimski, who was the security officer under deGraffenreid for the sensitive documents.

The questioning of North is expected to end today. Most of yesterday's session was characterized by tough speeches and ringing defenses; little new information emerged.

Sen. David L. Boren (D-Okla.), who is also chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a critic of last week's detailed questioning of North by staff attorneys, gave North a chance to agree with his view that top CIA officials, other than the late Director William J. Casey, had been "insulated" from the Iran-contra activities.

In contrast, Rep. Jack Brooks (D-Tex.), who was one of the few committee members to vote against granting North limited immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony, appeared irritated by the charismatic Marine. "If you felt so strongly that you hadn't {broken any laws}, I had a little difficulty understanding your reluctance to testify without immunity."

That led to a shouting match between Brooks and North's attorney, Brendan V. Sullivan Jr., who said he was "shocked" at the statement.

Brooks read from a Dec. 6, 1986, radio address in which the president said, "We live in a country that requires we operate within rules and laws."

"That lofty principle appears to have gotten caught in somebody's shredder," Brooks snapped.

House Majority Leader Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) also clashed with Sullivan, who objected to a question that he said was too hypothetical. Foley had asked North whether it would have been a problem for the NSC chain of command if it turned out the president had not authorized various Iran-contra activities for which North thought he had presidential approval.

When Sullivan objected, an obviously angry Foley stormed at the attorney: "We have a suggestion here that while we can take advice from Col. North in response to questions about what our policy should be in Central America, on legal questions of the constitutionality of certain acts, and a variety of other things, through counsel's objections, we're not going to get his answers {on this question}."