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functions, and proper business, upon our globe. By this means, a conclusion may be ultimately drawn fatal to the existence of that world of spirits, which Superstition has depicted from no other source than its own wild, fallacious, and morbid phantasy.
A question, however, may now be started by some few individuals, if this inquiry can with propriety be conducted on the general preconceived supposition, that every well-attested instance, where a communication with apparitions of various kinds is supposed to have been held, ought to be regarded in no other light than as a pathological case? To any such objection I would reply, that there is only one line of demarcation, beyond which researches of this kind cannot meet with any application. This is to be found in the pages of sacred history. Concerning the manner in which the Deity, for signal purposes, has formerly chosen to hold an immediate communion with the human race, it would be irrelevant to offer any observations. At the same time, it may
be necessary to observe, that as we are not warranted, for many reasons, which may be defended on scriptural grounds, to suppose that any direct converse with good or evil spirits, connected with either the Jewish or the Christian dispensation, has extended beyond the Apostolic age, there will be no hesitation on my part to proceed on the hypothesis, that all the subsequent visitations of this nature which have been recorded, deserve a medical rather than a theological investigation.
REMARKS ON THE APPARITIONS OF GOOD SPIRITS,
RECORDED IN POPULAR NARRATIVES.
Spirits, when they please,
The present chapter will be devoted to the consideration of benignant spirits, and the apparitions to which they have given rise.
From the evidence of the Holy Scriptures, we are authorised to infer nothing more respecting those spiritual beings named angels, but that they are ministers whom the Deity has employed to execute his special commissions. And happy would it have been, if the early Christians and Jews had been contented with this simple information, without framing a system on the subject, which, as a learned divine of the church of England has remarked, savours more of some heathen mythology than of Christianity.* The Egyp
* Wilson's Archæological Dictionary, article Angels. The same doctrine has likewise met with a successful exposure from Bishop Horsley.
tians, for instance, believed in the constant attendance of three angels upon every individual. The Romans supposed, that such genii, as they named them, were messengers between the gods and the human race ; conceiving, therefore, with the Pythagoreans, that two were sufficient for any single individual, one was supposed to be of a good and the other of an evil quality.
These," as Sheridan has remarked in his notes to Persius, “were private monitors, who, by their insi. nuations, disposed each man to good or evil actions; they were not only reporters of his crimes in this life, but registers of them against his trials in the next.” The Jews founded their belief in good and evil spirits, partly from the evidence of the Scriptures, and partly from the notions of the Pagans. Some of their angels were created out of the elements of fire, and others out of the wind. Whenever they issued from their allotted place, they forfeited their immortality. They instructed mankind in wisdom and knowledge. Every thing in the world was under their government. Even to the various herbs of the field, supposed at that time to be twenty-one thousand in number, presiding angels were affixed. Other good spirits had their respective dominion over plants, trees, rain, hail, thunder, lightning, fire, fishes, reptiles, animals, men, cities, empires, and nations.* Such a notion, unfortunately for the Christian world, very early accompanied the spreading of the Gospel. And, indeed, during a very long period afterwards, evident traces might be discovered of the prevalence of the same
* Stehelins' Traditions of the Jews, vol. ii. p. 71.
popular opinion which is mentioned by Symmachus, namely, “that the Divine Being had distributed to cities various guardians, and that as souls were communicated to infants at their birth, so particular genii were assigned to particular societies of men."
When the church of Papal Rome prevailed throughout Christendom, this belief was so far modified, that the functions of ministering angels were assigned to the spirits of departed saints, who at length became so numerous, as to very materially obstruct the ordi. nary current of human affairs. Hence the very just declamation against so overwhelming an interference from the pen of the dauntless Reginald Scot, who compares it to that of heathen deities; this writer not making the distinction at the time, that the saints of the Roman calendar were the proper successors of the tutelar angels of the Jewish talmud. Surelie," says he, in a strain of most bitter irony,
" there were in the Popish church, more of these antichristian gods in number, more in common, more private, more publicke, more for lewd purposes, and more for no purpose, than among all the heathen, either heretofore or at this present time; for I dare undertake, that for everie heathen idol I might pronounce twentie out of the Popish church. For there were proper idols of every nation, as St George on horseback for England, St Andrew for Burgundie and Scotland, St Michael for France, St James for Spain, St Patrike for Ireland, St Davie for Wales, St Peter for Rome and some part of Italie. Had not every citie in all the Pope's dominions his severall patrone: as Paule for London, Denis for Paris, Ambrose for Millen, Louen
for Gaunt, Romball for Mackline, St Marks Lion for Venice, the three Magician Kings for Cullen, and so of other? Yea, had they not for everie small towne and everie village and parish (the names whereof I am not at liberty to repeat) a several idol ; as St Sepulchre, for one; St Bride for another; St All Hallowes, All Saints, and our Ladie for all at once? Had they not hee idols and shee idols, some for men, some for women, some for beasts, and some for fowles ? And doo you not thinke that St Martine might be opposed to Bacchus ? If St Martine be too weake, we have St Urbane, St Clement, and manie other to assist him. Was Venus and Meretrix an advocate for whores among
the Gentiles ? Behold, there were in the Romish church to encounter them, St Aphra, St Aphrodite, and St Maudline. Was there such a traitor among the heathen idols as St Thomas Becket? or such a whore as St Bridget ? I warrant you, St Hugh was as good a huntesman as Anubis. Was Vulcane the protector of the heathen smithes ? Yea forsooth, and St Euloge was patron for ours. Our painters had Luke, our weavers had Steven, our millers had Arnold, our tailors had Goodman, our souters had Crispine, our potters had St Gore with a devil on his shoulders and a pot in his hand. Was there a better horseleech among the gods of the Gentiles than St Loy? or a better sow-gelder than St Anthonie ? or a better tooth-drawer than St Apolline? I believe that Apollo Parnopeius was no better a rat-catcher than St Gertrude, who hath the Pope's patent and commendation therefore. The Thebans had not a better shepherd than St Wendeline, nor a better gissard to