267. The means of recognizing the quality of the spirits may be recapitulated in the following principles : —
1. Good sense is the sole criterion by which to discern the value of the spirits. Every formula given for this purpose by the spirits themselves is absurd, and cannot emanate from superior spirits.
2. The spirits are judged by their language and by their actions. The actions of spirits are the sentiments they inspire and the advice they give.
3. It being admitted that good spirits can say and do only good, nothing bad can come from a good spirit.
4. The superior spirits have a language always worthy, noble, elevated, with not the least tincture of triviality ; they say everything with simplicity and modesty, never boast, never make a parade of their knowledge or their position among others. That of the inferior or ordinary spirit has always some reflex of human passions; every expression that savors of vulgarity, self-sufficiency, arrogance, boasting, acrimony, is a characteristic indication of inferiority, or of treachery if the spirit presents himself under a respected and venerated name.
5. We must not judge spirits by the material form and the correctness of their style, but probe its inmost sense, scrutinize their words, weigh them coolly, deliberately, and without prejudice. Any digression from logic, reason, and wisdom leaves no doubt of their origin, whatever may be the name under which the spirit is disguised. (224.)
6. The language of elevated spirits is always identical, if not in form, at least in the inmost. The thoughts are the same, whatever be the time and place; they may be more or less developed, according to circumstances, to the needs and to the facilities of communicating, but they will not be contradictory. If two communications bearing the same name are in opposition, one of the two is, evidently, apocryphal, and the true one will be that where NOTHING contradicts the known character of the personage. For instance, between two communications signed by St. Vincent de Paul, of which one should preach union and charity, and the other should tend to sow discord, no sensible person could mistake.
7. Good spirits tell only what they know ; they are either silent or confess their ignorance of what they do not know. The bad speak of everything with boldness, without caring for the truth. Any notorious scientific heresy, any principle that shocks good sense, shows fraud, if the spirit pretends to be an enlightened spirit.
8. Again, we recognize trifling spirits by the facility with which they predict the future and material facts not given us to know. The good spirits may presage future things when, that knowledge is useful for us to know, but they never fix dates ; any announcement of an event at a fixed date is indicatory of mystification.
9. The superior spirits express themselves simply, without prolixity ; their style is concise, without excluding the poetry of ideas and expressions, clear, intelligible to all, and requires no effort for its comprehension ; they have the art of saying much in a few words, because each word has its signification. The inferior spirits, or false savants, hide under inflated language and emphasis the emptiness of their thoughts. Their language is often pretentious, ridiculous, or obscure, by way of wishing to seem profound.
10. Good spirits never command ; they do not force themselves on any one ; they advise, and if they are not listened to, they withdraw. The bad are imperious; they give orders, wish to be obeyed, and remain, whether or no. Every spirit who forces himself on any one betrays his origin. They are exclusive and absolute in • their opinions, and pretend that they alone have the privilege of truth. They exact a blind belief, and make no appeal to reason, because they know that reason will unmask them.
11. Good spirits do not flatter; they approve when we do well, but always with reserve; the bad give exaggerated eulogiums, stimulate pride and vanity,' while preaching humility, and seek to exalt the personal importance of those with whom they would curry favor.
12. The superior spirits are above the puerilities of form in everything. Only ordinary spirits attach importance to petty details, incompatible with truly ele vated ideas. Any overparticular prescription is a certain sign of inferiority and treachery on the part of a spirit who takes an imposing name.
13. The odd and ridiculous names some spirits take, who wish to impose on credulity, should be distrusted ; it would be exceedingly absurd to take these names seriously.
14. It is also necessary to distrust those who present themselves easily under extremely venerated names, and to accept their words with the utmost reserve ; in this case a severe censorship is indispensable, for it, is often but a mask they assume to gain credit for their pretended intimate relations with spirits beyond them. -By this means they flatter the vanity of the medium, and make use of it often to draw him into doing ridiculous things, or things to be regretted.
15. The good spirits are very careful as to the steps they advise; they never have any but a serious and eminently useful aim. We should, then, regard with suspicion alL motives that are not of this character, or that would be condemned by reason, and should deliberate seriously before undertaking them, for we might be exposed to disagreeable mystifications.
16. We recognize good spirits by their prudent reserve on all subjects that might prove compromising; they dislike to unvail evil; light or malevolent spirits are pleased with displaying it. While the good seek to smooth over injuries and preach indulgence, the bad exaggerate them, and stir up discord by perfidious insinuations.
17. Good spirits advise only good. Any maxim, any advice, which is not strictly conformable to pure evangelical charity, cannot be the work of a good spirit.
18. Good spirits advise only perfectly rational things.
Any recommendation which departs from the right line of good sense, or from the immutable laws of nature, shows a narrow spirit, and is, consequently, little worthy of confidence. ,
19. Again, bad or simply imperfect spirits betray themselves by material signs which cannot be mistaken. Their action on the medium is sometimes violent, and provocative of sudden and jerking movements, a feverish and convulsive agitation, totally opposed to the calm and gentleness of the good spirits.
20. Imperfect spirits often use the means of communication opened to them to give perfidious advice; they excite distrust and animosity against those who are antipathetic to them; those who could unmask their imposture are especially the objects of their animadversion. Weak men are their best game; to induce them to evil. Employing by turns sophisms, sarcasms, insults, even material signs of their occult power the better to convince them, they strive to turn them from the path of truth.
21. The spirits of men who have had, in the world, a special preoccupation, whether material or moral, if they are not disengaged from the influence of matter, are still under the dominion of terrestrial ideas, and retain a part of their prejudices, of their predilections, and even of the fancies they had here below. This is easily discerned in their language.
22. The learning that some spirits display, often with a kind of ostentation, is not a sign of their superiority. Unalterable purity of moral sentiment is the true touchstone.
23. The simple interrogation of a spirit is not sufficient to know the truth. We should, before all things know whom we address ; for the inferior spirits, themselve ignorant, treat with frivolity the most serious questions. Neither does it suffice that a spirit should have been a great man on the earth to have supreme science in. the spirit world. Virtue alone, in purifying him, can bring him nearer to God and extend his knowledge.
24. On the part of superior spirits pleasantry is often fine and piquant, but never trivial. Among the joking spirits who are not gross, biting satire is often full of meaning.
25. In carefully studying the character of the spirits who present themselves, especially from a moral point of view, their nature and the degree of confidence to be accorded them is easily ascertained. Good sense cannot be deceived.
26. In order to judge spirits, as in order to judge men, one should know how to judge one's self. There are, unhappily, many men who take their personal opinion as exclusive'measure for good and bad, for true and false ; all that contradicts their mode of seeing, their ideas, the system they have conceived or adopted, is bad in their eyes. Such persons evidently lack the first requisite for a healthy appreciation — rectitude of judgment; but they do not suspect it; in the very defect is their greatest delusion.
All these instructions flow from experience and the teachings of the spirits ; we complete them by answers given by them on the most important points.