Allan Kardec

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Chapter XXIX
Of Reunions in General. — Of Societies Proper. — Sub jects of Study. — Rivalry between Societies.

Of Reunions in General.

324. Great advantages may be derived from spirit ist reunions, through reciprocal interchange of thought, questions and remarks that each one may make, and from which- all may profit ; but in order to draw from them all desirable fruit, they require special condi tions, which we will examine, for it is wrong to liken them to ordinary societies. Reunions being collective wholes, consequently the preceding instructions natu rally concern them ; they should take the same pre cautions and guard against the same dangers as indi viduals : therefore we have placed this chapter last.
Spiritist reunions have very different characters, according to the end therein proposed, and'their qual ity must, for the same cause, also differ. According to their nature, they may be frivolous, experimental, or instructive.
325. Frivolous reunions are composed of persons who see only the jesting side of the manifestations, who are amused with the humor of the trifling spirits, who are very fond of these assemblies, where they have full liberty to say what they please, and are not considered at fault. In these reunions nonsense of all kinds is asked ; here is where they expect fortunetelling of the spirits, where they put their perspicacity to the proof to guess ages, what they have in .their pockets, to detect little secrets, and a hundred other things of like importance.
These reunions are of little consequence ; but as the trifling spirits are often very intelligent, and are usually in an easy and jovial mood, they often produce in them very curious things, from which an observer may draw profit ; he who has seen only that, and should judge the world of spirits from that sample, would have as false an idea of it as one who should judge the whole society of a great city by the inhabit ants of a certain part of it. Simple good sense tells us that elevated spirits cannot enter such reunions, where the spectators are no more serious than the actors. If persons desire to engage in futile things, they must frankly call trifling spirits, as they would call jesters, to amuse a society ; but there would be profanation in inviting thither venerated names, — to mingle the sacred with the profane.
326. Experimental reunions have more especially for their object the production of physical manifesta tions. For many persons this is a more amusing than instructive spectacle ; skeptics come from them more astonished than convinced, when they have seen nothing else, and their whole thoughts are turned toward seeking out frauds, for, not understanding any of it, they willingly suspect subterfuges. It is other wise with those who have studied ; they already un derstand the possibility, and positive facts afterward achieve or finish their conviction ; if there should be fraud, they would be safe to discover it.
Yet there is a use in these experiments that no one should despise, for they were the means of discovering the laws that rule in the invisible world ; and for many they.are certainly a powerful means of conviction ; but we maintain that they alone could no more initiate the science of Spiritism, than an ingenious piece of mech anism could make us understand mechanics, were we unacquainted with its laws ; if they were always con ducted with method and prudence, better results would be obtained. We shall return to this subject.
327. Instructive reunions have quite another char acter, and as these are where true instruction can be received, we shall insist strongly on the conditions they ought to fill.
The first of all is, to be- serious in the full accep tation of the word. We should remember that the spirits addressed are of a very special nature ; that the sublime cannot be allied to the trivial, nor the good to the bad ; if we desire to obtain good things, we must address good spirits ; but to ask good spirits is not sufficient ; express conditions are necessary, to be in propitious conditions, so that they may want to come ; but superior spirits will no more come into the assem blies of trifling and superficial persons than they would have come there during their lives.
A society is truly serious only on condition of being engaged in useful things, to the exclusion of all others ; if it aspire to obtain extraordinary things, for curiosity or pastime, the spirits who produce them will come, but the others will withdraw. In a word, whatever may be the character of a reunion, it will always find spirits ready to second its tendencies. A serious re union turns aside from its end, if it leaves instruction for amusement. Physical manifestations, as we have . said, have their use ; let those who wish to see them go to experimental reunions : let those who desire to understand go to reunions for study; thus both will be able to complete their spirit teachings, as, in the study of medicine, some take the course, others clinics.
328. Spirit instruction comprises not only the moral teachings given by the spirits, but, still more, the study of facts ; here belong the theory of all the phenomena, the inquiry into causes, and consequently, the verifica tion of what is possible and what is not ; in a word, the observation of all that can advance science. But it would be a mistake to suppose that the facts are limited to the extraordinary phenomena; that those which strike the senses most forcibly are alone worthy of attention ; at every step in the intelligent commu nications, which men united for study must not neglect, are met these facts, impossible to enumerate, springing from a host of unforeseen circumstances ; though less salient, they are none the less of the highest interest for the observer, who finds therein either the confir mation of a known principle, or the revelation of a new one, which brings him still further into the mys teries of the invisible world : there also is philosophy.
329. Reunions for study are especially useful for mediums, for intelligent manifestations, particularly for those who desire to perfect themselves, and who do not go to them with a foolish presumption of infalli bility. One of the greatest dangers of mediumship is, we have said, obsession and fascination ; they can thoroughly delude the medium as to the merit of what he obtains, and it may well be understood that the deceiving spirits have full scope when their interpreter is blinded ; for this reason, they remove their medium from all criticism : if necessary, they produce in him an aversion even to being enlightened ; by means of isolation and fascination, they can make him accept anything they choose.
We cannot too often repeat it, here is not only the stumbling-block, but the danger ; yes, we say it, a real danger. The only means of escaping it is the censorship of disinterested and kind-hearted persons, who, judg ing the communications with coolness and impartiality, may open his eyes, and make him see what he cannot see of himself. Every medium who fears this judgment is already on the road to obsession ; he who believes the light is made only for him, is completely under the yoke ; if he takes remarks in ill part, repulses, is irri tated by them, there can be no doubt of the bad nature of the spirit who assists him. We have said, a medi um may lack the knowledge necessary to understand errors ; he may be deluded by big words and preten tious language, be led astray by sophisms, and that in all sincerity ; therefore, in default of his own light, he should modestly have recourse to that of others, ac cording to these two adages, that four eyes see better than two, and that no one is a good judge for his own cause. In this point of view, reunions are of very great utility for a medium, if he is sufficiently sensible to listen to advice ; because he may find in them per sons more clairvoyant than himself, who can seize the most delicate shades by which a spirit may betray his inferiority.
Every medium who sincerely desires not to be the plaything of a lie, should try to be developed in seri ous reunions, and bring there what he obtains in pri vate ; accept with gratitude —solicit even — critical examination of the communications he receives ; if he is the dupe of deceiving spirits, it is the surest means of getting rid of them, and of proving to them that they cannot delude him. It is so much the worse for a medium who is irritated by criticism, as his self-love is not at all engaged, since what he says is not his own, and he is no more responsible for it than if he should read the verses of a bad poet.
We have insisted on this point, because, a stum bling-block for mediums, it is also one for reunions, to which it is of great importance not lightly to confide in all the interpreters of the spirits. The assistance of any obsessed or fascinated medium would be more injurious than useful ; it should not be accepted. We think we have so fully entered into their development, that it will be impossible to mistake the characteris tics of obsession, if the medium cannot recognize it himself; one of the most salient points is the supposi tion that he alone of all the world is right. Obsessed mediums, who will not be convinced, are like those sick persons who are deluded as to the state of their health, and are lost for want ofsubmitting to salutary regimen.
330. A serious reunion should propose to itself, especially, to drive away lying spirits ; it would be an error to suppose its aim and the quality of its mediums a safeguard from them ; nothing will save it unless it be itself in favorable conditions.
In order perfectly to comprehend what happens under these circumstances, we beg the reader to turn to what has been said, No. 331, on the Influence of the Surroundings. Each individual is surrounded by a certain number of invisible acolytes, who are identified with his character, his tastes, and his inclinations : thus, each person who enters a reunion brings with him spirits who are in sympathy with him. Accord ing to their number and nature, these acolytes may exercise a good or bad influence on the assembly, and on its communications. A perfect reunion would be that in which all the members, animated by an equal love of good, would bring with them only good spirits ; in default of this perfection, the better would be where the good would preponderate over the evil. This is too logical to need that we should insist upon it.
331. A reunion is a collective being, whose qualities and properties are the result of those of its members, and form, as it were, a bundle, and this bundle will have as much more force as it may be more homogeneous. If our readers have thoroughly understood what has been said (No. 282, Question 5) on the manner in which spirits are warned of our call, they easily com prehend the power of the association of thought in the assistants. If the spirit is, in some sort, struck by the thought as we are by the voice, twenty persons, being united in the same intention, will necessarily have more force than one alone ; but that all these things may tend toward the same end, they must vibrate in unison ; let them be commingled, as it were, in a one, which cannot be done without concentration of thought.
Then, again, the spirit, entering a completely sym pathetic circle, is more at his ease ; finding there only friends, he comes more willingly, and is more disposed to answer. Any person who has attentively watched intelligent spirit manifestations, must have become convinced of this truth.
If the thoughts are divergent, the result will be a clashing of ideas disagreeable for the spirit and injuri ous to the manifestations. It is the same with a man addressing an assembly ; if he feel all the thoughts to be sympathetic and kindly to him, the impression he receives will react on his own ideas, and give them more fervor ; the .unanimity of the assembly exercises on him a kind of magnetic action, which doubles his means, while indifference or hostility troubles or para lyzes him ; so actors are inspired by plaudits ; and spirits, being much more impressionable than human beings, are very much more sensitive to the influence of the surroundings.
Every spiritist reunion should tend as much as pos sible to homogeneity ; of course it is understood that we speak of those that would achieve serious and truly useful results ; if they desire simply to receive com munications, without caring for the quality of those who give them, it is evident that all these precautions are not necessary ; but then they should not complain of the quality of the product.
332. Concentration and communion of thought be ing the essential conditions of every serious reunion, it can be seen that too many assistants must be one of the causes most directly adverse to homogeneity. There is, certainly, no absolute limit to this number ; and a hundred persons, sufficiently collected and atten tive, will be better than ten inattentive and noisy ; but it is also evident that the greater the number the more difficult to comply with the conditions. It is, besides, a fa>:t proved by experience, that the small private circles are always more favorable for beautiful commu nications, for reasons already mentioned.
333. There is still another not less necessary point : the regularity of the reunions. In all there are always spirits that may be called habitues : we do not mean those spirits that may be found everywhere, and min gling themselves in everything ; but those who are either spirit protectors, or those who are most often interrogated. It must not be supposed that these spirits have naught else to do but to listen to us ; they have their occupations, and may, besides, be in conditions unfavorable for invocation. When the re unions take place on fixed days and hours, they man age accordingly, and are rarely absent. There are some who are extreme in punctuality ; they take offense at a quarter of an hour's delay, and if they themselves set the time of beginning, it is in vain to call them even a few minutes sooner. Let us add that, as well as the spirits prefer regularity, those who are truly superior are not tenacious on this point. The exaction of a rigorous punctuality is a sign of inferior ity, like everything puerile. Beyond the devoted hours, they can come, and do come, even willingly, if the end is useful ; but nothing is more injurious to good com munications than to call them at random, when the fancy takes us, and especially without a serious mo tive ; as they are not bound to submit to our caprices, they might very well not trouble themselves ; then others are sure to take their places.

Of Societies Proper.

334. All that we have said of reunions in general applies to regularly-constituted societies, which, be sides, have to contend with some special difficulties, which are born of the very tie that unites the members.
Advice on their organization having been asked of us" several times, we will here recapitulate it in a few words.
Spiritism, but lately born, is still too diversely ap preciated, too little understood in its essence, by a great number of believers, to afford a powerful bond between the members of what may be called an association.
This bond may exist between those who perceive its moral end, understand it, and apply it to themselves. Between those who see only facts more or less curious, there can be no serious bond ; putting facts above principles, a simple divergence in the manner of view ing them may be a cause of division. It is not the same with the first mentioned, for there cannot be two ways of looking at moral questions : also, it must be remarked, that wherever they meet a reciprocal confi dence attracts them to each other ; the mutual benev olence that reigns among them banishes the uneasi ness and constraint born of sensitiveness, of the pride that is offended at the least contradiction, of the ego tism that takes everything to itself. A society where such sentiments reign supreme, where all are united for the purpose of being instructed by the teachings of the spirits, and not in the hope of seeing things more or less interesting, or to make one's own opinion pre vail, — such a society, we say, would not only contain the elements of life, but would be indissoluble. Again, the difficulty of bringing together numerous homoge neous elements for this purpose, moves us to say that, in the interest of study, and for the good of the thing even, spirit reunions should be multiplied in small groups, rather than in large agglomerations. These groups, corresponding, visiting, transmitting their ob servations, may now form the nucleus of the great spiritist family, that will, some day, bring together all opinions, and unite all men in one sentiment of frater nity, sealed by Christian charity.
335. We have seen the importance of uniformity of sentiment for obtaining good results ; the greater the number, the more difficult, necessarily, will it be to obtain this uniformity. In small committees they know each other better, and are more sure of the ele ments introduced ; silence and concentration are more easy, and all are like one family. Large assemblies exclude intimacy by the variety of the elements of which* they are composed ; they require special loca tions, pecuniary resources, and an administrative ma chinery useless in small groups : diversity of character, of ideas, of opinions, is better displayed, and offers to the meddling spirits greater facility for sowing discord. The more numerous, the more difficult to satisfy every one ; each one wants the work directed according to his liking, that the society should prefer those subjects most interesting to him : some think that their mem bership gives them the right to have everything their own way ; thence disagreements, a sensation of unea siness, which, sooner or later, leads to disunion, then dissolution — the fate of all societies, whatever their object. Small committees are not subject to the same fluctuations ; the fall of a large society would be an apparent check to the cause of Spiritism, and its ene mies would not fail to take advantage of it ; the disso lution of a small group would pass unnoticed ; and then, if one is dispersed, twenty more would be formed beside it : also, twenty groups, of from fifteen to twen ty, will obtain more and do more for propagation than an assembly of three or four hundred persons.
It will, doubtless, be said that the members of a society who would act in such a manner would not be real spiritists, since the first duty the doctrine imposes is charity and benevolence. That is perfectly true ; those who do this are spiritists in name rather than in fact ; they do not assuredly belong to the third category (see No. 28) ; but who can say they are not in some sense spiritists ? This consideration is not without gravity.
336. Let us not forget that Spiritism has enemies interested in opposing it, and who view its success with anger : the most dangerous are not those who attack it openly, but those who act in the dark —those who caress with one hand and mangle with the other. These malevolent beings creep in wherever they hope to do harm ; as they know that union is strength, they endeavor to destroy by throwing in brands of discord. Who, then, can say that those who, in reunions, sow trouble and dissension, are not agents of those who are interested in disorder ? Certainly they are neither true nor good spiritists ; they can never do good, but they can do much harm. It may easily be seen that they have infinitely greater facilities to insinuate themselves into large reunions than into small committees, where all know each other ; under cover of their secret plots, they sow doubt, distrust, and disaffection ; under an appearance of hypocritical interest, they criticise every thing, form conventicles and coteries, which soon break up the harmony of the whole : this is what they desire. To appeal to sentiments of charity and fraternity with such persons is like talking to persons willfully deaf, for their aim is precisely to destroy those sentiments, the greatest obstacles to their plots. This state of things, grievous in all societies, is still more so in those of spiritists, because, if they do not lead to a rupture, they cause a preoccupation incompatible with concen tration and attention.
337. It may be said, if the reunion is on the wrong road, have not discreet and well-intentioned men the right of criticism ? and should they let the evil go on saying nothing, by their silence approving ? Without doubt it is their right ; more, it is a duty ; but if their intention be really good, they will offer their advice in a seemly and kindly manner, openly, and not in secret ; if it is not followed, they withdraw ; for one cannot imagine a well-intentioned person remaining in a so ciety where things are done that do not suit him.
It may, then, be established as a principle, that who ever, in a spiritist reunion, causes disorder or disunion, openly or secretly, by any means whatever, is either a designing agent, or, at least, a very bad spiritist, of whom they cannot too soon rid themselves ; but the obligations that bind the members are often obstacles to this ; and for this reason it is best to avoid all indis soluble engagements : good men are always sufficiently bound, bad men always too much so.
338. Besides men notoriously malevolent who in trude into reunions, there are those who, by their character, bring trouble with them wherever they are ; so that we cannot be too circumspect with regard to the new elements introduced. The most troublesome, in such cases, are not those ignorant of the matter, nor even those who do not believe; conviction is acquired only by experience, and there are persons who sin cerely desire to be enlightened. Those of whom it is necessary to beware are systematists, skeptics who doubt everything, even the evidence ; the vain, who think they alone have the true light, wish to impose their opinion on every one, and look with disdain on all who do not think like themselves. Do not allow yourselves to be deceived by their pretended desire for enlightenment ; more than one would be sorry to be forced to acknowledge himself deceived ; beware, especially, of those insipid talkers, who always want the last word, and of those who are only pleased when contradicting ; both waste the time for others, while not profiting by it themselves : spirits do not like use less words.
339. In view of the necessity of avoiding every cause of trouble and distraction, a spiritist society about to organize should turn its attention especially to meas ures that will deprive the fomentors of discord of the means of doing injury, and give the greatest facility for their removal ; small reunions need only a very simple disciplinary rule for the order of the stances; regulai ly constituted societies require a more complete organization : the best will be where the wheels are the least complicated.
340. Small and large societies, and all reunions, whatever be their importance, have to contend with another danger. The fomentors of discord are not only within them, they are in the invisible world as well. As there are spirit protectors for societies, cities, and nations, so bad spirits attach themselves to groups as to individuals ; they first attack the weakest, the most accessible, of whom they endeavor to make instruments, and gradually try to circumvent the masses ; for their wicked joy increases according to the number they can subjugate. So, whenever one person of a group has fallen into a snare, say at once, an enemy is in the camp, —a wolf in the sheepfold, — and we must be on our guard, for it is most probable he will multiply his attempts ; if he is not discouraged by an energetic resistance, the obsession then becomes like a contagious disease, which is manifested among the mediums by pertuibation of mediumship, and among others by hostility of sentiment, perversion of the moral sense, and a breaking up of the harmony. As the most powerful antidote to this poison is charity, it is charity they will seek to stifle. No waiting until the evil has become incurable in order to bring a remedy for it, no waiting even for the symptoms, but by every means endeavor to prevent it ; for this there are two efficacious means, that may be well employed : prayer from the heart, and the attentive study of the least signs that reveal the presence of deceiving spirits ; the first attracts good spirits who zealously assist those who second them by confidence in God ; the other proves to the bad ones that they have to do with persons clear-sighted and sensible enough not to allow themselves to be deceived. If one of the members yields to the influence of the obsession, every effort, from the first symptoms, should tend to open his eyes, lest the evil should increase, then to convince him that he is deceived, and lead him to desire to second those who wish to help him.
341. The influence of the surroundings is the conse quence of the nature of spirits, and of their mode of action on living beings ; of this influence each can, for himself, deduce the conditions most favorable for a society that aspires to conciliate the sympathy of good spirits, and to obtain only good communications. These conditions are entirely in the moral characters of the assistants ; they may be recapitulated as to the following points : —
Perfect community of views and sentiments.
Reciprocal kind feeling among all fhe members.
Abnegation of every sentiment adverse to true Chris tian charity.
Sole desire for instruction, and to advance through the teachings of good spirits, and to profit by their advice. Whoever is convinced that the superior spirits manifest themselves with the view of making us pro gress, and not for our pleasure, will understand why they should withdraw from those who are limited to admiration of their style, without extracting the fruit of their teachings, and who prize the seances only for the greater or less interest they offer to their own in dividual tastes.
Exclusion of everything that, in communications asked of the spirits, has only curiosity for its end.
Concentration and respectful silence during the in terviews with the spirits.
Associations of all the assistants by thought, in the appeal made to the spirits invoked.
Concurrence of the mediums in the assembly, with abnegation of every sentiment of pride,- self-love, and supremacy, in the one desire to be useful.
Are these conditions so difficult to fulfill that it can not be done ? We think not ; on the contrary, we hope that truly serious reunions, as there are many already in different localities, will be multiplied, and we do not hesitate to say that it is to them that Spiritism will owe its most powerful propagation ; in bringing unto it honest and conscientious men, they will silence criticism ; and the purer their intentions, the more re spected they will be, even by their adversaries ; when ridicule attacks the good, it no longer amuses, it becomes despicable. Among reunions of this kind a true bond of sympathy, a mutual solidarity, will be established by the force of events, and will contribute to the general progress.
342. It would be an error to think that this fraternal concert is unnecessary in reunions for physical mani festations more especially, and that they exclude all serious thought ; if they do not require so rigorous conditions, it is not with impunity that they are under taken with levity, and . a person would be deceived should he suppose that the concurrence of the assist ants is absolutely null ; we have the proof of this in the fact that often manifestations of this kind, even called out by powerful mediums, can produce nothing in some places. There is some reason for it, and it can only be in the divergency or hostility of sentiment which paralyzes the efforts of the spirits.
Physical manifestations, as we have said, are of great utility ; they open a vast field to the observer, for it is an entire order of unusual phenomena unfolded to his view, whose consequences are incalculable. Thus, an assembly may be occupied with very serious views, but may not attain its end, whether of study or means of conviction, if it is not placed in favorable conditions : the first of all is, not faith in the assistants, but their desire to be enlightened, without subterfuge, or deter mination to reject the evidence ; the second is the re striction of their number, to avoid the bringing together of heterogeneous elements. If physical manifestations are, in general, produced by the less advanced spirits, they have none the less a providential end, and good spirits always favor them when they can have a useful result.

Subject for Study.

343. When a person has invoked his relations and friends, some celebrated personages, to compare their opinions as spirits with those they had during their lives, he is often embarrassed to sustain a conversation without falling into trivialities. Many persons think that the Book on Spirits has exhausted the series o questions on morals and philosophy : this is an error ; for this reason it may be useful to indicate the source whence almost illimitable subjects for study may be drawn.
344. If the invocation of illustrious men, of superior spirits, is eminently useful for the instruction they give us, that of ordinary spirits is not less so, though they may be incapable of solving questions of high bearing : by their inferiority they depict themselves, and the smaller the distance that separates us, the greater relation we find to our own situation, without reckon ing that they often give us characteristic traits of the highest interest, as we have explained above, No. 281, in speaking of the utility of special invocations. Here is an inexhaustible mine of observations, taking only those whose lives 'present some peculiarity in regard to their kind of death, age, good or bad qualities, their happy or unhappy position in the world, their habits,' mental state, &c.
With elevated spirits, the range of study is enlarged ; besides the psychological questions, which are limited, there may be proposed to them a great number of moral problems, which extend to infinity on all the po sitions of life, on the best conduct under certain given circumstances, on our reciprocal duties, &c. The value of the instruction we receive on any subject, moral, historical, philosophical or scientific, depends entirely on the state of the spirit interrogated ; it is for us to judge.
345. In addition to invocations proper, spontaneous dictations offer innumerable subjects of study. They consist in waiting for whatever subject it may please the spirits to treat. Several mediums, in such cases, can work simultaneously. Sometimes an appeal may be made to a designated spirit ; more ordinarily those who choose to come are awaited, and often come in the most unexpected manner. These dictations may give rise to a crowd of questions whose theme is thus found already prepared. They should be scanned with care, to study all the thoughts they contain, and to judge if they bear the seal of truth. This examina tion, made with severity, is, as we have said, the best guarantee against the intrusion of deceiving spirits. From this motive, as well as for the instruction of the whole, knowledge of the communications obtained outside of the reunion should be given. There, as may be seen, lies an inexhaustible source of elements, eminently serious and instructive.
346. The occupations of each stance may be regu lated as follows : —
1. Reading of communications obtained in the last seance, correctly drawn up.
2. Varieties. — Correspondence. — Reading of com munications obtained outside of the seances. —Rela tion of interesting facts of Spiritism.
3. Works of Study. — Spontaneous dictations. — Various moral questions and problems proposed to the spirits. — Invocations.
4. Conference. — Critical and analytical examination of the various communications. — Discussion on the various points of spirit science.
347. Circles are often stopped in their very birth from want of mediums. Mediums are, assuredly, one of the essential elements of spirit reunions ; but they are not an indispensable element, and one would be wrong in supposing that, lacking them, there is nothing to do. Doubtless those who come together simply for experimentation, can no more do without mediums than musicians in a concert can do without instru ments ; but those who have serious study in view have a thousand subjects to occupy them, all as useful and profitable as if they could operate them for themselves. Besides, the reunions that have mediums, might be accidentally deprived of them, and it would be a pity should they, for that reason, feel that nothing is left for them but to retire. The spirits themselves may, occasionally, place them in such a condition in order to teach them to do without. We will say, further, that it is necessary, in order to profit by the teach ings, to consecrate a certain time to their meditation. Scientific societies have not always instruments of observation at hand, and yet they are never at a loss for subjects of discussion ; in the absence of poets and orators, literary societies read and comment on ancient and modern authors ; religious societies medi tate on the Scriptures ; spiritist societies should do the same, and they would draw great profit for their advancement by establishing conferences in which they may read and comment upon all that may relate to Spiritism, either for or against. From this discus sion, where each could bring the tribute of his reflec tions, might spring rays of light that might have passed unperceived in an individual reading ; special works, journals swarming with facts, recitals, events, traits of virtue or vice, raising grave moral problems which Spiritism alone can solve —a proof that it is suited to every branch of social order.
We would warrant that a spiritist society that would organize its work in this way, procuring the necessary materials, would scarcely find time to give to the direct communications of spirits ; for this rea son, we call the attention to this point of truly serious circles, those who have self-instruction more at heart than 'pastime. (See No. 207, chapter on the Formation of Mediums)

Rivalry between Societies.

348. Reunions exclusively engaged in intelligent communications, and those devoted to the study of physical manifestations, have each their mission ; neither could have the true feeling of Spiritism if viewing each other with unfavorable ayes, and casting a stone by either would be proof of its being governed by evil influences ; all should agree, though by different ways, in the common end — the research and propa gation of truth ; their antagonism, an effect of over excited pride, by furnishing arms to detractors, could not fail to injure the cause they pretend to defend.
349. These last reflections apply equally to all circles that might differ on small points of doctrine. As we have said in the chapter on Contradictions, these diver gencies, being mostly only on the accessories, often only on simple words, it would be very trifling to separate for not thinking exactly the same. It would be worse if the different circles in the same city should be jealous of each other. Jealousy between persons who may be prejudicial to each other materially, is easily understood ; but when there is no speculation, jealousy is only a silly rivalry from self-love. As it is certain there is no society that can contain within itself every believer, those who are animated with a true desire to propagate the truth, whose end is solely moral, should be pleased to see reunions multiply ; and if there should be rivalry among them, it should be to see which would do the most good. Those who pre tend to have the truth, to the exclusion of the others, should prove it by taking for their device, Love and Charity ; for such is the device of every true spiritist. Do they wish to prove the superiority of the spirits who assist them ? Let them prove it by the superi ority of the teachings they receive, and by the applica tion they make of them to themselves : this is an infallible criterion by which to distinguish those who are in the better way.
Certain spirits, more presumptuous than logical, sometimes impose strange and impracticable systems under the venerated names they borrow, Good sense soon disposes of these ; but in the mean time, they may sow doubt and uncertainty among believers, whence arise temporary dissensions. In addition to the means we have given to know them, there is another criterion to measure their value ; it is the number of partisans they recruit. Reason tells us that the system which finds the loudest echo in the masses must be nearer truth than that which is repulsed by the majority ; so, hold for certain that, when spirits forbid discussion on their teachings, it is because they are aware of their weakness.
350. If Spiritism, as has been announced, is to lead to the transformation of humanity, it can be only through the amelioration of the masses, which can only come gradually, and one after another, by the amelioration of individuals. What does it matter to believe in the existence of spirits, if the belief makes us no better, no more benevolent, and no more indulgent to our kind, no more humble, no more patient in adversity ? Of what use is it for the miser to be a spiritist, if he still continues a miser ? for the, proud, if he is always full of himself? for the envious, if he is always jealous ? All men may believe in the manifestations, and yet humanity remain stationary ; but these are not the designs of God. All spiritist societies should tend toward the providential end, collecting around them all who partake of the same sentiments ; then there will be union, sympathy, fraternity, and not a vain and puerile antagonism of self-love, of words rather than things ; then they would be strong and powerful, be cause they would rest on a firm foundation, good for all ; then they would be respected, and would impose silence on foolish ridicule, because they would speak in the name of evangelical morality, respected by all.
Such is the path into which we are bound to conduct Spiritism. The flag we bear aloft is that of Christian and humanitary Spiritism, around which we are happy already to see so many men rally, in all parts of the globe, because they understand that here is the anchor of safety, the safeguard of public order, the signal of a new era for humanity. We call upon all spiritist societies to concur in this grand work ; that from one end of the world to the other, they may stretch out the fraternal hand, and enclose the evil in an inextricable network.

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