"Why do you not begin your sittings with a general invocation, a sort of appeal to the higher spheres, that may dispose your minds to serious thought? Without seriousness of thought and purpose, only frivolous communications will be obtained. Good spirits come only to those who attract them by their fervour and sincerity; a fact which is not yet sufficiently comprehended in your world. We see your labours with pleasure, and are ready to aid you, but on condition that you second our action by the action of your wills, and that you show yourselves equal to the mission you are called upon to fulfil. Be united; you will thus be too strong for evil spirits to prevail against you. God approves the simple-minded; we do not mean simpletons, but those who make a voluntary abnegation of self; and who devote themselves to His service without vanity. If you would become a focus of light for all mankind, you must learn to distinguish truth from error. Be careful to sow only good seed, unmixed with tares; for tares stifle the good seed and prevent it from growing up, and they who have sown them will be held responsible for the mischief done by them; in other words, you, who are called to spread the truth, will have to answer for the false doctrines you may have propagated. Let all mediums, therefore, pray to God unceasingly for assistance and guidance." "SAINT AUGUSTINE" (Saint Augustine, having been requested to dictate a general formula of evocation, replied as follows :-)
"We cannot give you any fixed and absolute formula God is too great to attach importance to words; He looks only to the though. You must not suppose that the pronouncing of certain words can suffice to keep off evil spirits, or that there can be any virtue in verbal forms that are recited as a mere matter of habit. The efficacy of any prayer, whether clothed in impromptu language or in an accepted form, depends on the sincerity of the sentiment it expresses, and the unanimity of those by whom it is offered; no one whose heart is not in his prayer could profit by it, or make it profitable to others. Draw up a formula, if you will, and then submit it to me; and I will help you."
Remark. - Acting upon the advice thug given, the following formula was accordingly drawn up, with the aid of Saint Augustine and other spirits; it has met with wide approval, and has been generally adopted for the opening of spiritist meetings: - "We pray Almighty God to send good spirits to assist us, to keep away those who might lead us Into error, and to give us the light we need for distinguishing truth from imposture. May all malevolent spirits who might create disunion among us he kept away; should any such obtain entrance here, we adjure them, in the name of God, to retire.
"Good spirits who preside over our labours, deign to come to us and instruct us! Render us docile to your counsels, and aid us to subordinate all personal sentiments to the general weal.
"We especially request the spirit of ... our spirit-protector; to be with us and to give us his help."
"My friends, let me give you a piece of advice, for you are on new ground. You have been told with truth that the aim of spiritism is to give a new sanction to morality, and that it must not overstep the limits of a philosophical system, under pain of becoming a mere matter of curiosity. Leave aside questions in relation to scientific subjects; our mission is not to answer such inquiries, thereby sparing you the trouble of research, but to aid you to become better, for that is the way in which you will really advance." "SAINT LOUIS."
"People have laughed at 'table-turning;' but they will never laugh at the philosophy, the wisdom, the charity, which shine forth in the communications given by spirits of high degree. Physical manifestations are the vestibule of spiritism, intended to enable you, on entering it, to lay aside your prejudices, as you lay aside your cloak. I cannot insist too strongly upon the duty of making of your meetings a serious centre for the obtaining of instructions in regard to truth and duty. Let those who would obtain physical manifestations seek for them, but elsewhere; elsewhere let them see; elsewhere let them hear; but do you, here, seek after understanding and charity. What do you suppose you are, in the eyes of the higher spirits, when you have made a table turn or rise from the ground? Schoolboys. Does a man pass his time in going again over the A B C of his subject? But when we see you united in the desire to obtain instructive communications, we look upon you as men, and as men who are seriously in search of truth." "SAINT LOUIS"
(To the inquiry addressed by us to Saint Louis as to whether, by the above remarks, he intended to disparage physical manifestations, he replied: -)
"I could not intend to disparage physical manifestations, because they take place by God's permission and for a useful purpose; but, in saying that they are the vestibule of spiritism, I assign to them their true place, and acknowledge their special utility. I blame only those who make, of physical manifestations, an object of amusement and curiosity, an end rather than a means; and who fail to draw from them the moral teachings which they are intended to enforce. They may be said to stand in the same relation to the philosophy of spiritism that grammar does to literature; he who has advanced in the latter does not lose his time in studying over again the elements of the former."
"My friends, I am always happy to direct you on the path by which alone you can advance; to do so is a mission that has been confided to me, in which I rejoice and of which I am proud, for the power to be useful is always a reward. Let the spirit of charity unite you; the charity which loves, as well as that which gives. Show yourselves patient under the ill-will of your detractors; be firm in the right; and, above all, be humble, for it is humility alone that elevates, because it constitutes the sole greatness recognised by the Most High. Only through your humility will you attract good spirits to you, and you must remember that, if good ones do not come to you, bad ones will take the place left vacant by them. Let your sole care be to stand well in the eyes of your Creator; you will grow in the favour of men, while seeking only to grow in that of God." "SAINT LOUIS."
"Union is strength; be united, in order that you may be strong. If you would render yourselves invulnerable to the poisoned arrows of calumny and to the attacks of the dark phalanx of ignorant, selfish, and hypocritical spirits, you must let the flame of a sincere and noble friendship unite, enlighten, and warm your hearts, and you will then be able to withstand the assaults of evil, as the rock withstands the fury of the waves." "SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL."
"My friends, you desire to form a Spiritist Society, and I approve of your doing so, for mediums should not remain isolated. This sublime faculty has been given to them, not for themselves alone, but for the general good. By their intercourse with others, they are enabled to form a truer judgement in regard to the value of the communications they themselves receive; whereas, if they remain alone, they are more easily brought under the power of deceptive spirits, who are delighted at having no one to judge their statements. This is my advice to you in reference to mediums, who, unless they are swayed by pride, will understand and profit by it. And, now, in reference to other points.
"Do you really understand what a spiritist meeting should be? No; for, in your zeal, you think the best thing to be done is to bring together as many persons as possible, in order to convince them. Undeceive yourselves; the fewer you are, the more valuable will be the results you will obtain. It is by your moral ascendency that you will bring the incredulous to your side, much more surely than by the exhibition of physical phenomena which people come to see from curiosity, and not only do not always believe, but often laugh at. On the other hand, if they find among you only persons worthy of esteem, though they may perhaps not at once accept your belief, they will, at any rate, respect you; and respect always predisposes to confidence. You know that the mission of spiritism is to bring about a moral reform of the human race; let all spiritist societies, then, set an example of Christian virtue; and, in these days of selfishness, let such gatherings always offer the spectacle of friends united by a true and noble kindness." "FÉNÉLON."
"You ask whether a multiplicity of groups in the same locality might not engender rivalries injurious to spiritist doctrine? To this I reply that those who are imbued with the true principles of our doctrine regard all spiritists not as rivals but as brothers, and that none could be jealous of other societies unless influenced by self-love rather than by the love of truth. True spiritism has for its motto 'Good-will and charity to all' it excludes every species of rivalry excepting emulation in doing right. All the groups on whose banner this motto is inscribed can hold out a friendly hand to each other. Let your only rivalry be one of greatness of soul, of abnegation, kindness, and humility He who should throw stones at another would prove himself to be under the dominion of evil spirits. The nature of the sentiments manifested by two persons towards each other is an unerring indication of the nature of the spirits who consort with them." "FÉNÉLON."
"Silence and concentration of thought are conditions essential to the obtaining of serious communications, and no conversation should be carried on while spirits are being interrogated. You often receive communications suggesting serious questions on your part, and requiring answers no less serious on the part of the spirits evoked; and, if the medium who is writing is disturbed by those about him, his medianimic action is impeded thereby, and his usefulness proportionally impaired." "SAINT LOUIS."
"Let me urge upon you the necessity of conducting your meetings with as much order as possible, so that you may avoid confusion and divergence of ideas, which furnish evil spirits with facilities for substituting themselves for the good ones, and for replying to the questions brought forward for consideration. When a meeting is composed of persons unknown to each other, how is it possible for them to avoid contradictoriness of ideas, inattention, or indifference? I would fain discover some efficacious means of doing this. Possibly, it might be done by the concentration of fluids around the mediums. It is they alone, and especially those who are most beloved, who keep good spirits in the assembly; but their influence hardly suffices to repel the mob of foolish and fantastic ones who seek to find ingress. Examine carefully all the communications you receive; weigh well beforehand all the questions you propose to ask, and meditate no less thoughtfully on the answers you receive. Error is frequent, even on the part of well-intentioned spirits. The slowness of the operation of writing is wearisome to the spirit, who is apt to turn from a subject which, for him, is exhausted as soon as he has brought his thought to bear on it. His mobility and indifference to the ordinary conventionalisms of human life, and many other conditions of which you are already aware, make it your duty to accord only a limited confidence to the communications you receive, and to submit them all to the test of examination and reason, even when presenting the most satisfactory appearances of authenticity." "GEORGE (A familiar spirit)."
"What is usually your object in endeavouring to obtain communications from spirits? Is it to get specimens of fine writing that you may show to your acquaintances as samples of our talent, and that you may preserve carefully in your albums, but that have no place in your hearts?
"Do you imagine that we consider it an honour to show ourselves off in your assemblies, and to contest with one another the palm of eloquence, in order that you may say: 'We have had a very interesting meeting?' How much do you retain, with a view to putting its teachings into practice, of communications that you have declared to be admirable? Do you suppose that we care for your applause? Be not deceived by any such notion. Our sole object is to improve you morally. Therefore, when we find that our words bear no fruit, that they excite only a sterile approbation, we seek out other souls who are more docile to our suggestions; and our places are then taken by spirits who desire nothing better than to mislead you, and who rarely fail to do so. You have therefore only yourselves to thank when you are deceived (See 268, quests. 19, 20)." " MASSILLON."
"Spiritism should be a preservative against discord and dissension, which can gain no entrance among those who understand and practise the law of charity. Be on your guard, all you who are animated by the love of truth keep the doors of your hearts, that the enemy may not find a traitor among you. Dissensions can only be the work of evil spirits; therefore, let those among you who feel most strongly the duty prescribed by urbanity as well as by true spiritism, set an example of patience, dignity, and consistency. Good spirits may sometimes permit a contest to arise, in order to allow, to good as well as to evil sentiments, an opportunity of manifesting themselves, and to sift the wheat from the tares ; but they will always be on the side of those who display the truest humility and the most genuine charity." "SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL."
"Repel all spirits who counsel exclusiveness, division, isolation. Such spirits are always vain and shallow ; they impose on the weak and credulous by exaggerated praises, in order to fascinate and to domineer over them. They are generally spirits who, having been public or private despots while on earth, still desire to have victims to tyrannise over after their death. As a general rule, distrust all communications of a mystic or fantastic character, as well as those which prescribe ceremonies or eccentric actions.
"Absurdities and errors are best got rid of by submitting all spirit-statements to a critical examination. A medium may be fascinated, a group may be imposed upon; but a careful examination of communications, by other groups, with the aid of knowledge already acquired by them and the moral influence of their presidents, and their comparison with those obtained by their principal mediums from spirits of high advancement, will suffice to expose the false statements made, by malevolent or deceptive spirits, to individual mediums or to isolated groups." "ERASTES (Disciple of Saint Paul)"
Remark. - Spirits who wish to make us accept unfounded theories usually pretend that, if we only agree with them, we shall be wiser than everybody else. They do their utmost to avoid the discussion of their theories ; but, if worsted in argument, they disdainfully refuse to reply, and induce their mediums to keep away from the groups by whom their ideas are examined and criticised. Isolation is therefore especially dangerous for mediums, because it leaves them at the mercy of obsessors, who first blind them, and then, too often, lead them astray.
"It is not among incarnates only that false prophets are to be found; they exist, and in far greater numbers, among the self-conceited spirits who, under the mask of love and charity, sow dissension, and retard the emancipation of the human race, by the absurd statements which they cause to be made through their mediums; assuming, in order the more effectually to fascinate and to mislead, names which command general veneration and respect, and even daring in some cases to call themselves by the name of God. But you have only to pass the theories of such spirits through the sieve of reason and common sense, and you will see what remains of them! No spirit by whom puerile ideas and impracticable schemes, opposed to the simplest facts of science, are brought forward as truth, as the panacea for human ills, or as a means of suddenly transforming society, can be anything but an ignoramus or a liar.
"Truth is not always seen to be such by individuals, but it is always recognised by the common sense of the majority. If two statements clash, you can measure their relative value by ascertaining which of the two meets with the widest sympathy; for it would evidently be unreasonable to admit that a doctrine of which the partisans were diminishing could be nearer the truth than one of which the acceptance was steadily increasing. God wills that the light of truth shall reach all minds; He therefore does not shut it up in a narrow circle, but makes it shine forth in all directions, in order that darkness may be everywhere dissipated." "ERASTES."
Remark. -The best guarantee of the truth of any principle is its simultaneous inculcation in different places, by different spirits, through different mediums who are unknown to one another, and, above ail, its confirmation by reason, and by the Sanction of general acceptance. Truth alone can enable a doctrine to take root. Erroneous theories may certainly recruit adherents for a time, but, as they lack the primary condition of vitality, they can have only an ephemeral existence, and we therefore need not be disquieted about them. Error is killed by its own erroneousness, and will therefore inevitably disappear under the action of reason.