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ries require no description. We all know how they will come to a christening and fix the infant's destiny, not seldom mixed with a dash of spite. As man's faith in, and respect for, the supernatural influence has dwindled, so has the realization of the beings exercising it. Diana, the dreaded Artemis, granddaughter of the first and greatest of the Titans, and sprung from Jove himself, and who was also one of the twelve great Olympian deities, has dwindled down to Titania, the fairy queen, who despatches her subjects with the command

Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds;
Some war with rear-mice for their leathern wings,
To make my small elves coats.?

Whilst the fays and elves and all the varied streams of beings, which have contributed to their pedigrees, have now shrunk into one small common stream, fast drying up in the sands of thought, some of the conceptions froin which they sprang, at an early date diverged and struck root independently. This new departure produced a most luxuriant growth, which has since become as important in the world's history as the other has faded into insignificance.

Starting from the general principle that everything in heaven and earth had its spirit, we can at

1 “Midsummer Night's Dream," Act ii. sc. 3.

F

once understand how good things and beneficent phenomena had good and beneficent spirits. When the expanse of heaven was regarded as the most sublime object that could be presented to the senses, the great spirit of the heavens was looked upon as the Supreme God, the originator of all other spirits, and the creator of all things in heaven and earththe Father in Heaven. The sun and moon, and the five other planets come next in the order of sublimity ; far beyond the reach of man, moving about the heavens, of apparent set purpose, and not like the other stars; their spirits therefore came next in order in the heavenly hierarchy, and amongst the star-gazing people of Chaldea, imposed a veneration for the number seven, which has reverberated throughout the world, and is still instinct with life in our midst at the present day: we thus have amongst the Chaldeans seven gods of the seven planets, and among the ancient Persians or Zends, Ahura-Mazdu associated with the seven Amshaspands, immortal saints who assisted him in the government of the world. The Jews had their archangels, each one with a host of angels under his command : the Egyptians had good genii in the service of Osiris : and in the Apocalypse we read of the seven lamps before the throne of God, which have their seven angels, the watchers,—or unsleeping ones,—to whom was committed the care of the seven Christian Churches.

One star after another was seen to dart across the heavens; these were messengers sent on special missions of mercy or retribution. Or the falling star, apparently torn from its place and suddenly cast down into darkness, had its spirit, which in like manner was cast out of heaven; one of the wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. 1

The innumerable stars, the host of heaven, each one with its attributed spirit, most naturally furnished the Great Spirit and the archangels with messengers and attendants; and so we find them continually described both in sacred and secular literature. These angels are perfectly pure spirits, without sin and invisible ; they are “messengers” and ministers of God's will and purposes, nothing is too great or too insignificant for them to perform ; they will destroy Sodom with fire and brimstone, or tend the growth of a wayside herb. Their number is beyond computation, outnumbering the inhabitants of the world in the proportion of a million to one.” These hosts of angels passed on from the Jewish faith into the Christian creed: no wonder that in view of such a wealth of beneficent spirits, man should have concluded that one of their number was specially commissioned to guard and defend him

1 Jude 13

? Farrar's “Life of Christ," ii. 466.

from danger, and that each man, woman and child should have a guardian angel, or even more than one. The Chaldeans had each a guardian god and goddess living in him as his protectors : the ancient Persians, as well as all the stars, animals, and even angels themselves, had each his “ Fravishi,” who was invoked in prayers and sacrifices, and was the invisible protector who watched untiringly over the being to whom he was attached. Each Jewish child had his guardian angel, who always beheld the face of his Father who was in Heaven.' And these guardian angels have passed on into Christian times, and have only yielded to the more material but perhaps more easily recognized saint, who, having done battle with human infirmities, is felt to be more accessible to the wants of a struggling mortal. The Latin “Genius” and the Egyptian “Ka,” both variants of the same ideal, were spiritual beings which seem to have been on the border land between the individual soul and the individual's guardian spirit, and it is difficult now to determine which of these two characters they more resembled.

It will thus be seen that the belief in angels, and in guardian angels, brought down to the present day, and still widely held with all the sanctions of accepted religions, is but a branch from the same

1 Lenormant's "Chaldean Magic," 199.

2 Matt. xviii. 10.

root :-the existence of spirits associated with each material object or person,—which gave birth to the belief in nymphs, fairies, and elves, and all the other spiritual denizens of mythology and folk-lore.

Another branch of the world of spirits was developed into the great class of cosmical spirits, represented as being in some form or other the offspring of the earth, as having made war upon the gods of Heaven, and having been conquered and thrust down to the lowest depths of Hell, to Tartaros, there to undergo punishment for their rebellion.

The Chaldeans had seven “ensnarers” whom they called “ Maskim;" demons dwelling in the bowels of the earth, and surpassing all others in power and in terror: these cause convulsions of the earth, disturb the motion of the stars,

They violently attack the dwellings of man, They wither everything in the town or in the country. They oppress the free man and the slave. They pour down like a violent tempest in heaven and earth." These are the seven “rebellious spirits,” powers of evil, which in the “days of storms,” against high heaven plotted evil ;. they are the dreaded enemies, against whom the highest and most potent gods are invoked with the reiterated wild cry :

They are seven, they are seven !
Twice over they are seven !

1

Lenormant's “ Chaldean Magic,” 29. 2 “Records of the Past,” v. 163.

3 Ib. iii. 143.

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