THE MEDIUMS’ BOOK

Allan Kardec

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CHAPTER XXIV
IDENTITY OF SPIRITS.
Possible Proofs of Identity. — Distinction of Good and Bad Spirits. — Questions on tlie Nature and Identity of Spirits.
Possible Proofs of Identity

255. THE question of the identity of spirits is one that has given rise to the greatest controversy, even among the believers of Spiritism ; spirits do not bring us letters of introduction, and it is well known with what facility some of them take borrowed names ; so that, obsession aside, it is one of the greatest difficulties in the practice of Spiritism ; yet, in many cases, absolute identity is a secondary question, and without real importance.
The identity of the spirit of ancient personages is the most difficult to verify, often even impossible, and we are reduced to a purely moral valuation. Spirits, like men, are judged by their language; if a spirit presents himself under the name of Fdnelon, for instance, and gives us trivialities or puerilities, it very surely cannot be he; if he says only things worthy the character of F (melon, and which he would not disavow, there is, if not material proof, at least a moral probability, that it must be he. In such case, particularly, the real identity is an accessory question: if the spirit says only good things, it matters little under what name they are given.
It will, doubtless, be objected that the spirit who would take an assumed name, even to say only good, would not the less commit a fraud, and thus could not be a good spirit. Here there are delicate shades quite difficult to seize, but which we shall try to develop.
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.
257. The identity of contemporaneous spirits is much more easily proved, those whose character and habits are known, for it is precisely these habits, which they have not yet had time to throw aside, by which they can be recognized; and let us say here, that in these very individual habits we find one of the most certain signs of identity. Without doubt, the spirit can give the proofs if asked, but he does not always do so unless it is agreeable to him, and generally the asking wounds him ; for this reason it should be avoided. In leaving his body, the spirit has not laid aside his susceptibility ; he is wounded by any question tending to put him to the proof. It is such questions as one would not dare to propose to him, were he living, for fear of overstepping the bounds of propriety; why, then, should there be less regard after his death ? Should a man enter a drawing-room and decline to give his name, should we insist, at all hazards, that he should prove his identity by exhibiting his titles, under the pretext that there are impostors ? Would he not, assuredly, have the right to remind his interrogator of the rules of good breeding ? This is what the spirits do, either by not replying or by withdrawing. Let us make a comparison. Suppose the astronomer, Arago, during his life, had presented himself in a house where no one knew him, and he had been thus addressed: " You say you are Arago; but as we do not know you, please prove it by answering our questions: solve this astronomical problem; tell us your name, your Christian name, those of your children, what you did such and such a day, at such an hour, &c." What would he have answered ? Well, as a spirit, he will do just what he would have done during his lifetime ; and other spirits do the same.
258. While spirits refuse to answer puerile and impertinent questions, which a person would have hesitated to ask during their lives, they often spontaneously give irrefutable proofs of their identity by their character, revealed in their language, by the use of words that were familiar to them, by citing certain facts, particularities of their life sometimes unknown to the assistants, and whose truth has been verified. Proofs of identity will spring up in many unforeseen ways, which do not present themselves at first sight, but in the course of conversations. It is better, then, to wait for them without calling for them, observing with care all that may flow from the nature of the communications. (See the fact given, No. 70.)
259. One means employed, sometimes with success, to be assured of identity when the spirit who communicates is suspected, consists in making him affirm, in t/te name of Almighty God, that he is the one he pretends to be. It often happens that he who usurps a name would recoil before a sacrilege, and after having begun to write, / affirm, in the name of—, he stops, and traces some insignificant lines, or breaks the pencil in anger : if he is more hypocritical, he eludes the question by a mental reservation, writing, for instance, / certify that I have told you the truth ; or, / attest, in tlie name of God, tluxt it is I who speak to you, &c. But there are some not so scrupulous, and who swear whatever you want. One of them communicated to a medium, calling himself God; and the medium, highly honored by so high a favor, did not hesitate to believe him. Invoked by us, he did not dare sustain his imposture, and said, " I am not God, but I am His son." " You are, then, Jesus ? That is not probable; for Jesus is too high to employ subterfuge. Dare then to affirm, in the name of God, that you are the Christ." " I do not say I am Jesus: I say I am the son of God, because I am one of His creatures."
We may conclude that the refusal on the part of a spirit to affirm his identity in the name of God, is always a manifest proof that the name is an imposture, but that the affirmation is only a presumption, and not a certain proof.
260. Among the proofs of identity may also be classed the similarity of the writing and the signature, but, as it is not always given to all mediums to obtain this result, it is not always a sufficient guarantee ; there are forgers in the world of spirits as in this ; so that this is but presumptive evidence, which acquires value only by accompanying circumstances. It is the same with all material signs that some give as talismans that cannot be imitated by lying spirits. For those who dare perjure themselves in God's name, or counterfeit a signature, no material sign whatever will offer an obstacle. The best of all the proofs of identity is in the language and in casual circumstances. 261. It will be said, doubtless, that if a spirit can imitate a signature, he can as well imitate the language. That is true: we have seen those who had the effrontery to take the name of the Christ, and in order to delude, simulated the evangelical style, constantly introducing at hap-hazard the well-known words, Verily, verily, I say unto you ; but when the whole was studied without prejudice, the depth of the thoughts, the bearing of the expressions, scrutinized, — when, by the side of fine maxims of charity, ridiculous and puerile recommendations were 'seen, — he would needs be fascinated to mistake it. Yes, certain parts of the material form of the language can be imitated, but not the thought: never will ignorance imitate true knowledge, never will vice imitate true virtue; some part will always show, if but the tip of the ear; the medium, as also the invocator, need all their perspicacity, all their judgment, to unravel the truth from the falsehood. They must remember that the perverse spirits are capable of every stratagem, and the more elevated the name under which a spirit announces himself, the more it should inspire distrust. How many mediums; have had apocryphal communications signed Jesus, Mary, or a venerated saint!

Distinction of Good and Bad Spirits.

262. If the absolute identity of the spirits is, in many cases, a secondary question, one of little importance, it is not the same with the distinction of good and bad; their individuality may be indifferent to us, their quality never. In all instructive communications, it is on this point the whole attention should be concentrated, because it alone can give us the degree of confidence we may accord to the spirit, whatever may be the name under which he manifests himself. Is the spirit good, or bad ? To what degree of the spirit scale does he belong? That is the grand question. (See Spirit Scale in the Book on Spirits, No. ioo).
263. The spirits are judged, we have said, as men are judged, by their language. Suppose a man should receive twenty letters from as many unknown persons : from the style, from the thoughts, from many signs, he will decide who are educated or ignorant, polished or ill-bred, superficial, profound, frivolous, vain, serious, light, sentimental, &c. It is the same with spirits: they should be considered as unknown correspondents, and we should ask ourselves what we should think of the knowledge and character of a man who should write such things. It may be given as an invariable rule, and one without exception, that the language of the spirits is always in accordance with the degree of their elevation. Not only do the really superior spirits say only good things, but they say them in terms which exclude in the most absolute manner all triviality ; however good these things may be, if they are tarnished by a single expression that savors of lowness, it is an indubitable sign of inferiority; still more if the whole of the communication outrages propriety by its grossness. The language always betrays its origin, whether by the thought it renders, or by its form ; and if a spirit should desire to delude us as to his pretended superiority, a little conversation suffices for us to estimate him at his proper value.
264. Goodness and benevolence are the essential attributes of purified Spirits ; they have no hatred, neither for men nor for other spirits ; they pity weaknesses, they criticise errors, but always with moderation, without anger and without animosity. If it be admitted that truly good spirits can will only good, and say only good things, it must thence be concluded that anything which, in the language of the spirits, betrays a want of goodness and benevolence, cannot emanate from a good spirit.
265. Intelligence is far from being a certain' sign of superiority, for intelligence and morality do not always keep step. A spirit may be good and benevolent, and have very limited knowledge, while an intelligent and educated spirit may be very inferior in morality.
It is quite generally believed that in interrogating the spirit of a man who was learned in a speciality on the earth, the truth will be more certainly obtained: this is logical, yet not always true. Experience shows that savants, as well as other men, especially those who have but lately left the world, are still under the dominion of the prejudices of corporeal life; they do not immediately rid themselves of the spirit of system. It may, then, be that, under the influence of the ideas they have cherished during their lives, and which have made for them a glorious title, they see less clearly than we think. We do not give this principle as a rule; far from it; we say only that it shows for itself, and that, consequently, their human science is not always a proof of their infallibility as spirits.
266. By subjecting all communications to a scrupulous examination, by scrutinizing and analyzing the thought and the expressions, as we should do were we judging a literary work, by unhesitatingly rejecting everything that sins against logic and good sense, everything that contradicts the character of the spirit reputed to be manifested; the deceiving spirits are discouraged, and end by withdrawing, once thoroughly convinced that they cannot deceive us. We repeat it, this is the only means, but it is infallible, because no bad communication can resist a rigorous criticism.
The good spirits are never offended by it, for they themselves advise it, and because they have nothing to fear from the examination ;• the bad alone take offence, and try to dissuade from it: this of itself proves what they are.
We give the advice of St. Louis on this subject: —
" However great may be the confidence with which the spirits who preside over your labors inspire you, it is a recommendation we cannot too often repeat, and which you should always bear in mind when you give yourself to your studies — to weigh and mature, that is, submit to the censorship of the severest reason, all the communications you receive ; as long as one point appears suspicious, doubtful, or obscure to you. not to neglect to ask the explanations necessary to satisfy you."
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.
268. Questions on the Nature and Identity of Spirits.
1. "By what signs can we discern the superiority or inferiority of spirits ?"
" By their language, as you distinguish a trifler from a man of sense. We have already said, the superior spirits never contradict themselves, and say only good things ; they will nothing but good: it is their whole thought
" The inferior spirits are still under the dominion of material ideas ; their discourses show their ignorance and imperfection. It is given only to the superior spirits to know all things, and to judge without passion."
2. " Is scientific knowledge always a certain sign of a spirit's elevation ?"
" No, for if he is still under the influence of matter, he may have your vices and your prejudices. There are persons who, in this world, are excessively jealous and vain: do you believe that as soon as they leave here they lose these defects ? There remains, after the departure from here, especially to those who have had very decided passions, a kind of atmosphere that envelops them, and leaves them all these bad things.
" These semi-imperfect spirits are more to be dreaded than bad spirits, because most of them combine astuteness and pride with intelligence. By their pretended knowledge they impose on simple people and on the ignorant, who accept without criticism their absurd and lying theories ; though these theories cannot prevail against the truth, they none the less do temporary harm, for they hinder the progress of Spiritism, and mediums are willingly blind to the merit of what is communicated to them. This is what demands great study on the part of enlightened spiritists and mediums ; all their attention should be given to distinguish the true from the false."
3. " Many spirit protectors designate themselves by the names of saints or well-known personages ; what should we believe on this subject ?"
" All the names of saints and of well-known personages would not suffice to furnish a protector to each man; among the spirits are few who have a name known on the earth ; this is why very often they give none ; but almost always you want a name; then, to satisfy you, they take that of a man you know and respect."
4. " May not this borrowed name be considered a fraud?"
" It would be a fraud on the part of a bad spirit who might want to deceive; but when it is for good, God permits it to be so among spirits of the same order, because there is among them a solidarity and similarity of thought."
5. " So, when a spirit protector calls himself St. Paul, for instance, it is not certain to be the spirit or soul of that apostle ?"
" Not at all, for you find thousands of persons to whom it has been said that their guardian angel is St. Paul, or some other ; but what matters it, if the spirit who protects you is as elevated as St. Paul ? I have said, you want a name; they take one to be called, and recognized by, as you take a baptismal name to distinguish you from the other members of your family. They can just as well take those of the archangel Raphael, St. Michael, &c, and it would be a matter of no consequence.
" Besides, the more elevated the spirit, the more multiple his radiation; believe that a spirit protector of a superior order may have under his tutelage hundreds of incarnated beings. With you, on the earth, you have notaries who have charge of the affairs of one or two hundred families: why should you suppose that we, spiritually speaking, would be less capable of directing men morally than those of directing their material interests ?"
6. " Why do the spirits who communicate so often take the names of saints ?"
"They identify themselves with the habits of those to whom they speak, and take the names calculated to make the strongest impression on the man by reason of his belief."
7. " Do superior spirits, when invoked, always come in person ? or, as some think, do they come only by mandataries charged to transmit their thought?"
" Why should they not come in person, if they can ? but if the spirit cannot come, it will surely be a mandatary."
8. " Is the mandatary always sufficiently enlightened to answer as the spirit would who sends him ?"
" The superior spirits know to whom they confide the care of replacing them. Besides, the more elevated the spirits, the more they are commingled in one common thought, in such manner that they are indifferent to personality; and it ought to be the same for you. Do you think that, in the world of superior spirits, there are only those you have known on the earth capable of instructing you ? You are so prone to consider yourselves types of the universe, that you always believe out of your world there is nothing. Truly you are like those savages, who, never having left their own island, fancy the world does not go beyond it."
9. " We comprehend that this may be the case when it is a question of serious teaching; but how is it that the superior spirits permit spirits of a low class to avail themselves of respectable names to lead into error by perverse maxims ?"
" It is not with their permission ; does it not happen the same among you ? Those who thus deceive will be punished, believe me, and their punishment will be in proportion to the gravity of the imposture. Besides, if you were not imperfect, you would have around you only good spirits, and if you are deceived, you should blame no one but yourselves. God permits it to be so to make trial of your perseverance and your judgment, and to teach you to distinguish truth from error; if you do not, it is that you are not sufficiently elevated, and still need the lessons of experience."
10. " Are not spirits, slightly advanced but animated by good intentions and a desire to progress, sometimes delegated to replace a superior spirit, in order that they may exercise themselves in teaching ? "
" Never in great circles ; I mean serious circles for general instruction; those who present themselves there do it from their own desire, and, as you say, to exercise themselves ; this is the reason their communications, though good, always bear traces of their inferiority. Where they are delegated, it is for communications of little importance, and those that may be called personal."
11. " Ridiculous spirit communications are sometimes intermingled with very good maxims: how reconcile this anomaly, which would seem to indicate the simultaneous presence of good and bad spirits ?"
" Bad or frivolous spirits mingle thus to make sentences, without much concern as to their bearing or signification. Are all those among you superior men ? No ; the good and bad spirits do not mingle ; it is the constant uniformity of good communications by which you may recognize the presence of good spirits."
12. "Do the spirits that lead persons into error always do it purposely ?"
" No ; there are spirits, good, but ignorant, who might deceive in all sincerity; when they are conscious of their insufficiency, they say so, and tell only what they know."
13. "When a spirit makes a false communication, does he always do so with a malicious intention ?"
" No ; if it is a trifling spirit, he amuses himself by mystifying, and has no other motive."-
14. "As certain spirits can deceive by their language, can they also, to the eyes of a seeing medium, take a false appearance ?"
" That may be done, but with great difficulty. In all cases it never takes place, unless with an aim that the bad spirits themselves do not know. They serve as instruments to give a lesson. The seeing medium can see frivolous and lying spirits, as others hear them, or write under their influence. Frivolous spirits may profit by this disposition in order to abuse him by deceitful appearances; that depends on the qualities of his own spirit."
15. "Is it sufficient that we are actuated by good intentions, not to be deceived ; and are perfectly serious men, who mingle no sentiment of vain curiosity with their studies, as liable to be deceived ?"
" Less than others, evidently ; but man has always some hobby which attracts mocking spirits ; he thinks himself strong, and often is not; he should beware of the weakness born of pride and prejudices. These two causes, by which spirits profit, are not sufficiently taken into consideration; by flattering whims they are sure to succeed."
16. " Why does. God permit bad spirits to communicate and say evil things ? "
" Even in what is worst there is instruction ; it is for you to know how to extract it. There must be communications of all kinds, for you to learn to distinguish good spirits from bad, and to serve as mirrors to yourselves."
17. " Can spirits, by means of written communications, inspire unjust suspicions against certain persons, and embroil friends ?"
" Perverse and jealous spirits can do in evil all that men can do ; it is, therefore, necessary to beware of them. The superior spirits are always prudent and reserved when they are obliged to blame; they never speak evil; they warn with caution. • If they desire, for the interest of two persons, that they should never see each other, they will bring about incidents that shall separate them in a perfectly natural manner. Language calculated to sow trouble and discord is always from a bad spirit, whatever may be the name he assumes. Therefore receive with the greatest circumspection the evil that a spirit may say of one of you, especially when a good spirit has said good to you of the same; and also mistrust yourselves and your own prejudices. In communications from spirits, take only what is good, great, rational, and what your conscience approves."
18. " By the facility with which bad spirits mingle in communications, it appears that one is never sure of the truth ?"
" Yes, if you have judgment to appraise them. In reading a letter, you know how to judge if it is a hod man or a refined person, a fool or a savant, who has written to you: why can you not do the same when spirits write to you? If you receive a letter from a far-off friend, what proves to you it is really from him ? His writing, you will say: but are there not forgers who imitate all writing, rascals who might know your affairs ? Yet there are signs in which you cannot be mistaken. It is the same with spirits. Imagine, then, that it is a friend writing to you, or that you are reading a literary work, and judge by the same means."
19. " Could superior spirits prevent bad spirits from taking false names ?"
" Certainly they could do so; but the worse the spirits, the more headstrong they are, and they often resist injunctions. You must also know that there are persons in whom the superior spirits are more interested than they are in others ; and when they deem it necessary, they know how to preserve them from the injury of the lie : against these persons the deceiving spirits are powerless."
20. " What is the motive of this partiality ?"
" It is not partiality ; it is justice : the good spirits are interested in those who profit by their advice, and labor seriously in their own improvement: these are their preferred ones, and they help them; but they trouble themselves little about those with whom they lose their time in vain words."
21. "Why does God permit spirits to commit sacrilege, by falsely taking venerated names ?"
" You should also ask why God permits men to lie and blaspheme. Spirits, as well as men, have their free will, in good as in bad; but to neither will the justice of God be wanting."
22. " Is there any formula that will drive away deceiving spirits ?"
" Formula is matter ; good thought toward God is of more value."
23. "Some spirits have said they have inimitable graphic signs, a kind of emblems, by which they may be recognized and their identity established. Is that true?"
" The superior spirits have no other signs, by which they may be recognized, than the superiority of their ideas and of their language. Any spirit can imitate a material sign. As to the inferior spirits, they betray themselves in so many ways, that one must be blind to be deceived."
24. "Cannot deceiving spirits counterfeit thought, also ?"
" They counterfeit thought,, as theatrical decorators counterfeit nature."
25. " It appears, then, that it is always easy to detect fraud by an attentive study."
" Never doubt it; spirits deceive only those who allow themselves to be deceived. But it is necessary to have the eyes of diamond merchants to distinguish the true stone from the false ; he who knows not how to distinguish one from the other goes to the lapidary."
26. " There are persons who allow themselves to be seduced by emphatic language, who think more of words than of ideas, who take false and common ideas for sublime: how can these persons, who are not even capable of judging the works of men, judge those of spirits ?"
" When these persons have sufficient modesty to know their own inefficiency, they will not trust to themselves ; when, through pride, they think themselves capable, when they are not, they must bear the penalty of their silly vanity. The deceiving spirits know whom they address : there are simple, uninstructed persons more difficult to deceive than others who have wit and learning. By flattering his passions they make a man do as they please."
27. " In writing, do not bad spirits often betray themselves by involuntary material signs ?"
" The skillful do not; maladroits go astray. Any useless or puerile sign is a certain indication of inferiority ; elevated spirits do no useless thing."
28. " Many mediums recognize good and bad spirits by the agreeable or painful impression they experience at their approach. We ask if any disagreeable impression, convulsive agitation, any uneasiness, in short, are always indications of the evil nature of the spirits who manifest themselves ?"
" The medium experiences the sensations of the state in which the spirit is who comes to him. When the spirit is happy, he is tranquil, easy, sedate; when he is unhappy, he is agitated, feverish, and this agitation naturally passes into the nervous system of the medium. It is the same with men on the earth; he who is good is calm and tranquil, he who is wicked is constantly agitated."
Remark. There are mediums of greater or less nervous impressibility, so that the agitation cannot be regarded as a general rule; as in all other things, we must, in this, take into account the circumstances. The painful and disagreeable character of the impression is an effect of contrast; for if the spirit of the medium sympathizes with the bad spirit who manifests himself, he will be little or not at all affected by it. The rapidity of the writing, which pertains to the extreme flexibility of some mediums, must not be confounded with the convulsive agitation that the slowest mediums may experience from contact with imperfect spirits.

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