S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
For my own part, I am apt to join in the opinion with those who believe that all the regions of nature swarm with spirits; and that we have multitudes of spectators on all our actions, when we think ourselves most alone; but, instead of terrifying myself with such a notion, I am wonderfully pleased to think that I am always engaged with such an innumerable society in searching out the wonders of the creation, and joining in the same consort of praise and adoration.
Milton has finely described this mixed communion of men and spirits in paradise; and had doubtless his eye upon a verse in old Hesiod, which is almost word for word the same with his third line in the following passage:
Nor think, though men were none,
That heavn would want spectators. God want praise:
All objects of the senses which are very offensive do cause the spirits to retire; and upon their flight the parts are in some degree destitute, and so there is induced in them a trepidation and horror.
If these powers of cogitation, volition, and sensation are neither inherent in matter as such, nor acquirable to matter by any motion and modification of it, it necessarily follows that they proceed from some cogitative substance, some incorporeal inhabitant within us, which we call spirit.
The term spirit properly denotes a being without a [material] body. A being that never had a [material] body is a pure spirit. A human soul, when it has left the body, is a disembodied spirit. Mind or soul is incorporated spirit.
You are to honour, improve, and perfect the spirit that is within you: you are to prepare it for the kingdom of heaven, to nourish it with the love of God and of virtue, to adorn it with good works, and to make it as holy and heavenly as you can.
If we arise to the world of spirits, our knowledge of them must be amazingly imperfect, when there is not the least grain of sand but has too many difficulties belonging to it for the wisest philosopher to answer.
There are things in the world of spirits wherein our ideas are very dark and confused; such as their union with animal nature, the way of their acting on material beings, and their way of converse with each other.