256. In proportion as spirits are purified and elevated in the hierarchy, the distinctive characters of their personality are, in some sort, obliterated in the uniformity of perfection, and yet they do not the less preserve their individuality :• this is the case with the superior and with the pure spirits. In this condition, the name they had on the earth, in one of their thousand ephemeral corporeal existences, is quite an insignificant thing. Let us remark again that spirits are attracted to each other by the similarity of their qualities, and that they thus form sympathetic groups or families. Again, if we consider the immense number of spirits who, since the beginning of time, have reached the highest rank, and compare them with the very-restricted number of men who have left a great name on the earth, it will be understood that, among the superior spirits who can communicate, the greater part must have no name for us; but as names are necessary to us to fix our ideas, they can take that of any known personage whose nature is best identified with their own ; thus our guardian angels most often make themselves known under the name of one of the saints we venerate, and generally under his name for whom we have the most sympathy. It thus follows that if a person's guardian angel gives his name as St. Peter, for instance, there is no actual proof that it is the apostle of that name ; it may be he, or it may be an entirely unknown spirit, belonging to the family of spirits of which St. Peter makes a part: it also follows that under whatever name the guardian angel is invoked, he comes to the call that is made, because he is attracted by the thought, and the name is indifferent to him.
It is always the same when a superior spirit communicates spontaneously under the name of a known personage; nothing proves that it is precisely the spirit of that personage; but if he says nothing that discredits the elevation of character of this latter, there is presumption that it is he, and, in all cases, it may be said that, if it is not he, it must be a spirit of the same degree, or, perhaps, one sent by him. In recapitulation, the question of name is secondary; we may consider the name as a simple indication of the rank the spirit occupies in the spirit scale.
The position is. quite different when a spirit of an inferior order borrows a respectable name to give credence to his words, and this case is so frequent that we cannot too carefully guard against these substitutions ; for it is under cover of these borrowed names, and with the help of fascination, that certain spirits, more vain than learned, seek to gain credence for the most ridiculous ideas.
The question of identity, then, is, as we have said, nearly a matter of indifference in regard to general instructions, for the best spirits can be substituted the one for the other without its being of any consequence. The superior spirits form, so to say, a collective whole, whose individualities are, with few exceptions, totally unknown to us. The matter of interest to us is, not their person, but their teachings: now, if this teaching be good, it matters little whether he who gives it calls himself Peter or Paul; we judge by his quality, and not by his signature. If a wine is bad, the trade-mark will not make it better. It"is otherwise with private communications, because it is the individual, his very person, that interests us ; and it is right that, in this case, we should be particular to assure ourselves that the spirit who comes at our call is really he whom we wish.