Allan Kardec

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1. The modern spirit-phenomena have called attention to the facts of a similar character that have taken place at all epochs, and never has history been so thoroughly ransacked in search of those facts, as during the last few years. From the similarity of effects, men and women have inferred the action of one and the same cause. With regard to all extraordinary facts of which the cause is unknown, ignorance has assumed the supernatural nature of the phenomena referred to, and superstition has amplified them by the addition of various absurdities; hence the mass of legends which, for the most part, are a mixture of a small amount of truth with a much larger amount of falsehood.

2. The doctrines concerning the devil, which have held sway for so long a period over the minds of human beings, so enormously exaggerated the power he was supposed to possess, that they caused humankind to lose sight of God; for which reason, human beings gave the devil the credit for anything that seemed to surpass the possibilities of human power. People saw the hand of Satan in everything; the most excellent innovations, the most useful discoveries, and especially those that tended to draw people out of their ignorance and to enlarge the circle of their ideas, have often been regarded as diabolical. Spirit phenomena, being at once of more frequent occurrence at the present day, and also – with the aid of sharper reason and increased scientific knowledge – more intelligently observed than was the case in former times, have confirmed, it is true, the belief in the intervention of occult intelligences in the affairs of human life, but they have shown us that these intelligences always act within the limits of the laws of nature and reveal, by their action, the existence of a force and of laws hitherto unknown to us. The question is therefore narrowed to the ascertainment of the order to which these intelligences belong.

While men and women possessed only vague or empirical notions regarding the spirit-world, error, as to the nature of that world, was inevitable; but now that careful observation and experimental investigation have thrown new light on the nature of spirits, on their origin and destiny, on the part played by them in the universe, and on their mode of action, the question of their nature is answered by facts, and we know with certainty, that spirits are simply the souls of those who have lived upon the Earth. We also know that the various categories of good and evil spirits are not composed of beings of different species, but of spirits at various degrees of advancement. According to the rank which they occupy in virtue of their intellectual and moral development, those who manifest themselves do so under widely different aspects; but this does not prevent their having all issued from the great human family, as is the case with the savages, the barbarians, and the most highly civilized nations of the Earth.

3. Upon this point, as upon so many others, the Church maintains her ancient beliefs, in regard to demons. As we have already remarked, the mistake of the Church is precisely that of taking no account of the progress of human ideas, and of supposing God to be so deficient in wisdom as to fail to proportion revelation to the development of intelligence, and to continue to address, to the more advanced minds of the present day, the same language as that in which He spoke to the humans of the primitive periods. If, while the human mind is marching onwards, the ministers of religion cling obstinately to past errors, in regard to spiritual matters as in regard to physical science, there necessarily comes a time when they are overwhelmed by the rising flood of incredulity.

4. We have now to see how the Church explains its assertion that the modern spirit- manifestations are exclusively due to the intervention of demons. *

“In their intervention in the things of the outer world, the demons are no less careful to dissimulate their presence, in order to avoid rousing the suspicion of those to whom they address themselves. Always cunning and perfidious, they draw men and women into their snares before binding them in the chains of oppression and servitude. Here, they awaken curiosity by puerile phenomena and feats of little moment; there, they strike with astonishment and subjugate the mind by the attraction of the marvelous. If the supernatural quality of their action betrays itself, if the nature of their power is unmasked, they calm alarm and appease apprehension, solicit confidence and invite familiarity. ,They will, on occasion, pass themselves off as divinities and good genii; and sometimes, they borrow the names and even the traits of those of the dead who have retained a place in the memory of the living. With the aid of these frauds, worthy of the serpent of old, they speak, and are listened to; they dogmatize and are believed; they mingle a few truths with their falsehoods and cause every form of error to be accepted by their victims. This is the aim of the pretended revelations from beyond the grave; it is to obtain this result that wood, stone, forests and fountains, the sanctuary of idols, the legs of tables, the hands of children, deliver oracles; it is for this that the pythoness prophesies in her delirium, and that the ignorant, in his mysterious sleep, is suddenly transformed into a doctor of science. To deceive and to pervert – such is, in all places and at all epochs, the sole aim of these strange manifestations.

“Since it is impossible that the surprising results of these observances or actions, which are, for the most part, eccentric and absurd, should be due either to any intrinsic virtue of their own or to the order established by God, they can only be produced with the help of occult powers. Such are, especially, the extraordinary phenomena obtained, at the present day, through the processes, seemingly inoffensive, of mesmerism and the intelligent organ of talking tables. By means of these operations of modern magic, we now witness the reproduction, among ourselves, of the evocations, oracles, consultations, cures, and other prodigies that formerly gave renown to the temples of idols and the dens of Sybils. As in ancient times, human beings impose their commands on wood, and the wood obeys them; they question it, and it replies to their queries in every tongue and on every subject; they find themselves in the presence of invisible beings who usurp the names of the dead, and whose pretended revelations bear the stamp of contradiction and falsehood; vaporous forms without consistency suddenly appear and show themselves to be endowed with superhuman force.

“What are the secret agents of these phenomena and the real actors in the inexplicable scenes? The angels would not play a part so unworthy, nor lend themselves to the caprices of a vain curiosity. The souls of the dead, whom God has forbidden us to consult, are in the realm of sojourn assigned to them by His justice, and cannot, without God’s permission, subjugate themselves to the commands of the living. The mysterious beings who thus respond to the call of the heretical and the impious as readily as to that of the faithful, and of the criminal as of the innocent, are neither envoys of God nor the apostles of truth and of salvation, but are the tools of error and of Hell. Despite the pains they take to hide their real nature under the most venerable names, they betray themselves by the hollowness of their doctrines, no less than by the baseness of their doings and the incoherence of their utterances. They strive to efface from the sum of religious belief, the dogmas of original sin, of the resurrection of the body, of eternal punishment, and of the Divinity of the Sacred Scriptures, in order to deprive the law of its sanction, and to open the gates to the influx of every vice. If it were possible for their suggestions to obtain the upper hand, they would form a convenient religion, just the thing for socialism and for all those who feel the notion of duty and conscience to be troublesome. The incredulity of our age has prepared the way for this new creed. May all Christian peoples, by a sincere return to the Catholic faith, escape the danger of this new and formidable invasion!”

* The quotations of the present chapter are taken from the same Pastoral from which we have taken those of the preceding chapters.

5. This explanation of the spirit-phenomena of the present day is based entirely on the assumption that angels and demons are beings distinct from the souls of men, and that the latter are the product of a special creation, inferior, even to the demons, in intelligence, knowledge, and faculties of all kinds; and it attributes, to the exclusive intervention of the “fallen angels,” all the manifestations, both ancient and modern, that spiritists attribute to the souls of the dead.

The possibility for the souls of the departed of entering into communication with the living is a question of fact, and one that is to be decided by observation and experience. Having fully treated of this question elsewhere, we shall not discuss it in this place. But admitting, for argument’s sake, the assumption that constitutes the basis of the argument just quoted, let us see whether it does not destroy itself with its own weapons.

6. Of the three categories of angels, according to the Church, one occupies itself exclusively with Heaven; to another is confided the government of the universe; the third takes charge of the Earth, and in its ranks are found the guardian-angels appointed to the protection of each human being. A portion, only, of the angels of this category took part in the revolt and was changed into demons. If God has granted permission to the latter to urge humanity on to their perdition by suggestions of all kinds and the facts of spirit-manifestation, why, since God is supremely just and good, should God have accorded to these tempters the immense power they possess and a freedom of action of which they make so pernicious a misuse, without also granting permission to the good angels to act as a counterpoise to the evil ones, by means of manifestations of the same kind, directed towards a good end? Admitting that God had given an equal amount of power to the good angels and to the bad ones – which, of itself, would constitute an enormous favor to the latter – human beings would, at least, have been free to choose between them; but, to give to the bad angels the monopoly of temptation, with the faculty of simulating goodness so perfectly as to deceive the most wary, in order the more surely to seduce those whom they seek to influence, would be to lay a snare for human weakness, inexperience, and trustfulness; in addition, it would be to betray humanity’s confidence in God. Reason refutes to admit, on the part of the Divine Being, such a partiality towards evil. Let us look into the facts of the case.

7. The Church attributes to demons the possession of transcendent faculties; “they have lost nothing of their angelic nature;” they possess the knowledge, perspicacity, foresight, clear vision of the angels, and, moreover, keenness, cleverness, and cunning in the highest degree. Their aim is to turn humankind from goodness, and especially to draw them away from God and to draw them down into Hell, of which they are the purveyors and recruiters.

We can understand that the demons should address themselves to those who are pursuing the upward path and who will be lost to them if they continue to follow it; we can understand that the demons should address themselves to such, and that they should employ every imaginable seduction and even the false veneer of goodness to draw them into their nets; but what we cannot understand is that these invisible agents should address themselves to those who are already given up, body and soul, to evil, and should urge them to return to God and to goodness. Can any human beings be more completely and thoroughly within the grip of the Devil’s claw than those who deny and blaspheme God, and who have plunged, headlong, into all the vices and disorders of unbridled passions? Are not such already on the high road to Hell? Is it comprehensible that the demons, when sure of their prey, should incite the latter to pray to God, to submit themselves to God’s will, to renounce evil; that they should hold up before them the delights that await the virtuous in the other life, and should horrify them with frightful pictures of the miseries that await the wicked? Who ever saw a tradesman praising up the wares of his rival to the disparagement of his own and urging his customers to go to that rival’s shop? Who ever heard a recruiting-sergeant lecturing on the hardships of a soldier’s life and the charms of domestic happiness, telling the recruits that, if they enlist, they will have a life of fatigue and privation, and that, ten chances to one they will be killed, or have a leg or an arm shot away in their first battle?

Such, however, is the stupid part which our adversaries make the demons play, by attributing to their intervention the spirit-manifestations of our time, for it is a well-known fact that, every day, through the instructions emanating from the invisible world, skeptics and atheists are brought back to belief in God, those who never prayed before are seen to pray with fervor, and the most vicious are induced to work ardently for their own moral improvement. To say that all this is a piece of cunning on the part of the devil is to make him out to be a conglomeration of multiple idiocies. And as the cases we instance are not suppositions but facts, and as no denial can undo the reality of a fact, we are compelled to conclude, either that the demons are the stupidest of bunglers – in which case they are neither so cunning nor so clever as they are said to be, and, consequently, not so much to be feared as is pretended, seeing that they are working against their own interests – or else that all the manifestations alluded to are not of their producing.

8. “They cause every form of error to be accepted; it is to obtain this result that wood, stone, forests and fountains, the sanctuary of idols, the legs of tables, the hands of children, deliver oracles.” But, if this were so, what weight can be attached to these words of the prophet Joel, quoted in the Acts of the Apostles, chap. II. 17 and 18: – “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your young men shall have visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my spirit on my servants and on my hand-maidens; and they shall prophesy.” Are not these words the prediction of the bestowal of the gift of mediumship upon all, even upon children, a prediction that is being fulfilled at the present time? Did the Apostles hurl an anathema against this faculty? No, they announced its generalization as a favor from God, and not as the work of the Devil. Do the theologians of our day know less of this matter than was known by the Apostles? Should they not recognize the finger of God in the accomplishment of this prediction?

9. “By means of these operations of modern magic, we witness the reproduction among ourselves of the evocations, oracles, consultations, cures, and other prodigies that formerly gave renown to the temples of idols and the dens of sibyls.” What operations of magic are to be found in spiritist evocations? There was a time when certain magical formulae, signs, and modes of proceeding were supposed to possess special efficacy in evoking spirits, but these are now regarded as ridiculous; nobody believes in their supposed power to conjure and control, and Spiritism condemns them. At the period during which magic flourished, the world had but a very imperfect idea of the nature of spirits, who were regarded as beings endowed with superhuman power; they were never evoked excepting by those who wished to obtain from them, were it even at the price of their souls, the favors of fortune, the discovery of hidden treasures, the foreknowledge of future events, or love potions. Magic was supposed to furnish, through its cabalistic signs, formulae, and operations, the means of working prodigies by constraining spirits to put themselves under the orders of human beings and to satisfy their desires. At the present day, we know that spirits are nothing but the souls of men and women; and they are evoked by us only for the sake of obtaining counsel from them, if they are good, for the purpose of moralizing them, if they are ignorant or vicious, or in the interest of continuing our relationship with the souls of those whom we have loved in the earthly life. The following quotations leave no doubt as to the teachings of Spiritism in regard to evocation and the communication between humankind and spirits.

10. It is not possible to compel a spirit to present itself against its will, if the spirit is your superior, or even your equal, in morality, because you have no authority over such a one; but, if that same spirit is your inferior in morality you can constrain it, provided your evocation is intended to promote its welfare, for, in that case, your action will be seconded by other spirits. (“The Mediums’ Book,” Part II, chap. XXV, No. 10)

– The most essential of all states of feeling, when you wish to communicate with spirits of higher degree, is seriousness and concentration of purpose. Faith in God and the aspiration after goodness are the most powerful of all evocations as regards superior spirits. By raising the soul towards the higher spheres, through a few moments of serious thought, before evoking, you identify yourselves with spirits of correspondingly higher degrees, and thus dispose them to come to you. (Idem, No. 12)

– No talisman has the property of attracting or repelling spirits, for matter has no influence over them. Be sure that no good spirit ever inculcated any such absurdity, and that the virtue of talismans has never existed, except in the imagination of the credulous. (Idem, No. 17)

– There is no special formula for the evocation of spirits; and whoever should pretend to give such a formula may be safely charged with charlatanism, for forms are nothing to spirits. But we hold, nevertheless, that evocations should always be made with seriousness and in the name of God. (Idem, chap. XVII)

– Spirits who make appointments in lugubrious places and at unseasonable hours amuse themselves at the expense of those who listen to them. It is always useless, and often dangerous, to conform to such suggestions; useless, because you gain absolutely nothing by so doing, except being hoaxed; dangerous, not from any harm the spirits may do you, but from the effect they may have upon your own weak brains. (Idem, No. 18)

– No days or hours are more propitious than others for evocations. Physical conditions are not considered to be of any importance to spirits, and to believe in the influence of days and hours is mere superstition. The most propitious time is that in which the thought of the evoker is least preoccupied with his daily affairs, and in which he enjoys the greatest calmness of mind and of body. (Idem. No. 19)

– Malevolence has taken pleasure in representing the modern communication of humanity with spirits as being surrounded with the ridiculous and superstitious practices of magic and necromancy. If those who speak thus of Spiritism without understanding it had given themselves the trouble to study the subject before talking about it, they might have spared themselves their outlay of imagination and of allegations which prove only their ignorance or ill-will. For the edification of those who are unacquainted with the subject, we declare that, for communicating with spirits, no days, hours, or places are specially favorable; that, for evoking them, no special formulae, no cabalistic or consecrated signs, no initiation or preparation, are needed; that the employment of any outward sign or material object is powerless to attract or to drive them away, and that, for evoking them, the action of our thought suffices; and, finally, that mediums receive the verbal communications of spirits without quitting their normal state, and as simply and naturally as though they were dictated by a living person. Charlatanism alone could affect, in regard to these communications, to assume airs of eccentricity or to accompany their reception with nonsensical accessories. (“What is Spiritism?” Chap. II, No. 49)

– As a general rule, the future is hidden from human beings; it is only in rare and exceptional cases that God allows it to be foretold. If people knew what the future is destined to bring forth, they would neglect the present, and, moreover, would not act with the same freedom because they would be influenced by the idea that, if a thing is fated to happen, there is no need for them to take any trouble about it, or they would seek to prevent its happening. God has willed that this should not be the case, in order that each may concur in the working out of His designs, even of those that they would have opposed if they had known of them beforehand. God permits the revelation of the future when this foreknowledge will facilitate the accomplishment of a given event instead of hindering it, by leading those, who are to bring it about, to act in some other way than that in which they would otherwise have acted. (“The Spirits’ Book,” Parts I, III, chap. X)

– Spirits cannot guide us, ostensibly, in the work of scientific research and discovery. The ascertainment of scientific truth is the work of genius; knowledge can only be obtained through labor and effort, for it is through work alone that the human race advances on its way. Where would be the merit if they had only to interrogate spirits in order to arrive at the possession of knowledge? Every fool, in that case, might become a beacon of science at small cost to him or herself. It is the same with regard to industrial discoveries and inventions.

When the time for a discovery has come, the spirits charged with the direction of human progress seek out a person capable of seconding their action, and suggest to that individual’s mind the necessary ideas for bringing that discovery to light, but in such a way as to leave to him or her all the merit of the achievement; for it is this person who must elaborate, and bring to bear, the ideas thus suggested. All the great achievements of the human intelligence have been suggested in this way. But spirits leave each human being in his or her own sphere. They do not impart divine secrets to one who is only fit to till the ground; but they draw out of obscurity the one who is capable of seconding the divine designs. You should not allow yourselves to be tempted, by curiosity or ambition, into inquiries that are foreign to the purpose of Spiritism, and that can only lead to mystifications and disappointments. (“The Mediums’ Book,” Part II, chap. XXVI)

– Spirits cannot enable us to discover hidden treasures. Spirits of high degree take no interest in such matters; but mocking spirits often pretend to indicate treasures which do not exist, or which are in some other place than that in which they cause you to see them. Such deceptions, however, are sometimes useful, by showing you that the true source of fortune is work. If Providence designs a hidden treasure to be found by someone, it will be found by that someone in what will appear to him or her as a natural way; otherwise, it will not be found at all. (Idem, chap. XXVI, No. 30)

– Spiritism, by enlightening us in regard to the properties of the fluids that are the agents and means of action of the invisible world, gives us the key to a host of things hitherto unexplained, and that are inexplicable by any other theory; things which in the olden times have passed for prodigies. Spiritism, like magnetism, reveals to us a law which, though not wholly unknown, has been hitherto imperfectly understood; a law of which, while its effects were known, the world was ignorant, and the ignorance of which engendered superstition. This law being known, the marvelous disappears; and phenomena, formerly regarded as miraculous or supernatural, are brought into the category of natural things. Spiritists no more perform miracles by causing a table to rap, or the so-called dead to write, than does a physician when he restores a sick man to health, or the electrician, when he produces artificial lighting. Whoever should pretend to perform miracles by the aid of Spiritism would prove him or herself an ignoramus or a charlatan by the mere fact of such a pretension. (Idem, Part I, chap. II, No. 15)

– Among the many who have formed a very false idea of evocations, there are some who fancy that they consist in bringing back the dead, with all the lugubrious accessories of the grave! But it is only in romances, in fantastic ghost stories, and upon the stage, that the skeletons of the dead are seen coming out of their sepulchers, draped in their winding-sheets, and rattling their fleshless bones. Spiritism, which has never worked miracles, has never brought a dead body to life; when the body is once placed in the grave, there it definitively remains; but the spiritual being, fluidic and intelligent, was not buried with its gross outer envelope; it separated from that envelope at the moment of death, and when once that separation has been effected, it has no further connection with it. (“What is Spiritism?” Chap. II, No. 48)

11. We have multiplied our quotations in order to show that the principles of Spiritism have nothing in common with those of magic. In Spiritism, there are no spirits under the command human beings, no means of constraining them to come to us, no cabalistic signs or formulae, no discoveries of treasures or of means of enriching ourselves, no miracles or prodigies, no divination or fantastic apparitions, nothing, in short, of what constitutes the essential elements and aim of magic. Spiritism not only keeps clear of all these things, but it shows them to be both inefficacious and impossible. There is, then, no analogy whatever between the methods and aim of magic and those of Spiritism; to represent them as similar can only be attempted from ignorance or malevolence; and as there is nothing secret about the principles of Spiritism, which are formulated in terms that are perfectly clear and unambiguous, such misrepresentations can only be short-lived.

As to the cures affected by spirit aid, and acknowledged to be real in the Pastoral that we have been examining, they are ill chosen as evidence of the evils resulting from communication with spirits! The restoration of health is, perhaps, of all the blessings of life, the one which touches us all most nearly, the one which each of us is best able to appreciate at its true value; and very few would be disposed to renounce such a benefit (especially if obtained after all other means of cure have been employed without success), from the fear of being cured by the devil; in fact, most people would rather be inclined to say that, if the devil has cured them, he has done a good deed! *

* By the endeavor to persuade those who have been cured by spirits that they have been cured by the Devil, a great many persons, who had previously no intention of leaving the Church, have been led to withdraw entirely from it.

12. “What,” asks the author of the Pastoral in question, “are the secret agents of these phenomena and the real actors in these inexplicable scenes? The angels would not play a part so unworthy, nor lend themselves to the caprices of a vain curiosity.”

The author here alludes to the physical manifestations of spirits; among these, there are undoubtedly many that would be but little worthy of spirits of high degree; and if, instead of the word angels, we substitute the term pure spirits, or superior spirits, his assertion is exactly identical with the statements of Spiritism in regard to this point. But it is impossible to place such manifestations on the same level with intelligent communications, made by writing, speaking, or hearing mediums, and which are no more unworthy of good spirits than of eminent men, since these apparitions, cures, and a host of other manifestations of spirit-power are precisely analogous to those which are met with in profusion in Holy Writ, and asserted, therein, to be due to the intervention of “angels” or of “saints.” And if “angels” and “saints” have produced, in former times, phenomena of this character, why should they not produce similar phenomena at the present day? Why should certain facts, occurring at the present day and through the intermediary of certain persons, be set down as being the work of the Devil, when the same facts occurring through the intermediary of other persons are cried up as holy miracles? To sustain such a thesis is to bid defiance to all the rules of logical reasoning.

The author of the Pastoral makes a great mistake in qualifying the phenomena in question as “inexplicable”; at the present day they are, on the contrary, perfectly explicable, and it is for this very reason that they have ceased to be regarded as miraculous or supernatural; but even if they were still unexplained, it would be no more reasonable to attribute them to the devil, than it was, formerly, to do him the honor of attributing to him all the natural phenomena of which science had not yet discovered the cause.

By an “unworthy part” must be understood any absurd or mischievous action on the part of spirits; but such action cannot be attributed to spirits who do good and who bring men and women back to God and to virtue. Spiritism declares expressly that no low or unworthy action can be attributed to spirits of high degree, and presents the following statements as proof:

13. The quality of spirits is known from their language; that of spirits who are truly good and of superior degree is always dignified, noble, logical, free from contradictions; it breathes wisdom, benevolence, modesty, and the purest morality; it is concise and without verbiage. Among inferior, ignorant, and pretentious spirits, the dearth of ideas is almost always accompanied by a superabundance of words. Every false statement, every maxim at variance with true morality, every piece of unwise advice, every gross, trivial, or merely frivolous expression, and, finally, every trace of malevolence, presumption, or arrogance, are incontestable signs of inferiority on the part of the communicating spirit.

Spirits of high degree confine their action to the giving of intelligent communications with a view to our instruction; physical manifestations are more especially the work of spirits of lower degree, commonly designated as rapping spirits; just as, among ourselves, feats of muscular strength and agility are performed by tumblers rather than by scientific men. It would be absurd to suppose that spirits possessing a high degree of elevation would spend their time in performances of that kind. (What is Spiritism? Chap. II, Nos. 37, 38, 39, 40, 60. “The Spirits’ Book,” Book Second, Chap. I, Different Orders of Spirits; Spirit Hierarchy. “The Mediums’ Book,” Part Second, Chap. XXXIV; Identity of Spirits; Distinguishing between Good and Evil Spirits)

What fair-minded man could see in these statements any shred of logic attributing an “unworthy part” to spirits of elevated degree? Spiritism not only does not confound the various ranks of spirit- elevation, but, moreover – while the Church attributes to demons a degree of intelligence equal to that of the angels – it has ascertained from the observation of facts, that the lower orders of spirits are stupid and ignorant, that their moral horizon is narrow, their mental acuity slight, their idea of the economy of things false and incomplete, so that they are incapable of solving certain problems; and that they are consequently unable to perform the marvels with which demons are credited by the Church and by common belief.

14. “The souls of the dead, whom God has forbidden us to consult, are in the realm of sojourn assigned to them by God’s justice, and cannot without God’s permission place themselves at the order of the living.”

Spiritism fully admits that they cannot come without the permission of God; but it goes still further, for – while the Church attributes to the demons the power of doing without that permission – it asserts that no spirit, whether good or bad, can come without having received it, and that, even when spirits are thus permitted to respond to the call of the living, it is not “to place themselves at their orders.”

When a spirit is evoked, does it come voluntarily, or is it constrained to do so? It obeys the will of God, that is to say, the general laws that govern the universe; it judges whether it is useful to come, and, in so doing, exercises its free will. A superior spirit always comes when it is called for a useful purpose; it only refuses to answer those who evoke it as an amusement. (“The Mediums’ Book,” Part Second, chap. XXV)

Can a spirit refuse to come when evoked? Certainly it can; where would be its freewill if it could not? Do you suppose that all the beings of the universe are at your orders? Would you consider yourself bound to reply to everyone who should pronounce your name? When I say that a spirit can refuse to come, I mean, at the demand of the evoker; for an inferior spirit may be constrained by a superior spirit to present itself. (Idem, No. 9)

Spiritists are so fully convinced that they have no direct power over spirits and can obtain nothing from them without the divine permission, that when they desire to make a general evocation, they do so in some such terms as the following: – “I pray Almighty God to permit a good spirit to communicate with me by writing (or otherwise, as the case may be), and I also beg my Guardian- Angel to assist me, and to keep away evil or troublesome spirits;” or, if they wished to evoke a given spirit, fixed on beforehand, they employ some such words as these: – “In the name of Almighty God, I beg the spirit of So-and-so to communicate with me;” or, “I pray Almighty God to permit the Spirit of So-and-so to communicate with me.” (Idem, Part Second, chap. XVII. 203)

15. The accusations hurled by the Church against the practice of evocation do not touch Spiritism, since they are mainly directed against the operations of magic, with which spiritist evocations have nothing in common. Spiritism is in accordance with the Church in condemning those operations and whatever would seem to imply the attributing to superior spirits of a part unworthy of them; and it declares, moreover, that nothing is to be asked, or can be obtained, without the permission of God.

Undoubtedly, there may be those who misuse evocation, who make an amusement of it, who turn it from its Providential aim to serve their own personal ends, and who, through ignorance, frivolity, vanity, or cupidity, depart from the true principles of spiritist doctrine; but true Spiritism disowns them, just as true religion disowns the excesses of bigots and fanatics. It is therefore neither fair nor reasonable to impute to Spiritism the abuses that it condemns, or the misdeeds of those who do not rightly understand its teachings. Before bringing forward an accusation, the accusers should be quite sure that their accusation is just. The blame of the Church is directed against charlatanism, mercenary mediumship, and the practices of magic and sorcery; and in this the church is in the right. When criticism, whether religious or skeptical, condemns abuses and stigmatizes charlatanism, it renders a service to the doctrine that it helps rid of its impurities; by so doing it aids us in the fulfillment of our task. But criticism ceases to be legitimate when it confounds the good with the bad, the thing itself with the improper use that may be made of it, as is done by some from ignorance of the subject criticized, by others, from dishonesty; but this distinction, though the critic may ignore it, is made, in the long run, by the public. Nevertheless, this criticism, which is embraced by every sincere spiritist if applied to evil, cannot harm the doctrine.

16. “The mysterious beings who thus respond to the first call of the heretical and the impious as readily as to that of the faithful, of the criminal as of the innocent, are neither envoys of God nor apostles of truth and salvation, but are the tools of error and of Hell.”

Thus, according to the Church, God does not permit good spirits to approach the heretical, the impious, and the criminal, to win them back from their error and to save them from everlasting perdition! God only sends to them “the tools of Hell,” to drag them down and yet more deeply into the mire of damnation! Furthermore, God sends only the most degraded and malicious of beings to the innocent, to pervert them! But are there, then, among the “Angels,” who are the privileged favorites of the Creator, none who are compassionate enough to come to the assistance of the souls thus being drawn to perdition? What is the use of the brilliant qualities with which they are endowed, if those qualities serve only to secure their own personal enjoyment? Can they really be as good as they are declared to be, if, while immersed in the delights of contemplation, they see all these souls on the road to Hell without hastening to lead them into the road to salvation? Are they not, rather, like the wealthy egotist who, possessing all the elements of physical comfort in abundance, leaves the beggar to die of starvation, without pity, at his door? And is not such a doctrine the exaltation of selfishness into a virtue, and a placing of it, as such, at the very feet of the Eternal?

You are astonished that good spirits should come to seek out the “heretical” and the “impious;” but, if so, you must have forgotten the saying of Christ: – “It is not they who are whole that need the physician, but they who are sick.” Your point of view, then, is no higher than that of the Pharisees of his day? And you, yourselves, if a repentant criminal solicited your assistance, would you refuse to aid him in returning into the path of virtue?

Good spirits only do what is done by the ministers of religion and by all good men and women, who go to the victims of impiety to move them with the eloquence of truth and kindness. Instead of anathematizing the communications from beyond the grave, you should gratefully recognize the channels thus opened by the Providence of the Almighty and should admire this new evidence of God’s infinite power and God’s inexhaustible goodness!

17. The Church admits the existence of Guardian Angels; but, when these angelic guardians are unable to influence their human wards through the mysterious voice of conscience or of inspiration, why should they not make use of other means of action, more direct and more physically capable of striking the senses, since such means exist? Is it credible that God restricts the employment of these means, which are God’s work, – since everything is of God and nothing can happen without God’s permission, – exclusively to evil spirits, refusing to allow good spirits to employ them also? If such were the case, we should be forced to conclude that God gives greater facilities to the demons for compassing the perdition of humankind, than God gives to their Guardian-Angels for securing their salvation!

And, strange to say! What the Guardian-Angels of humankind, according to the Church, are unable to do, the “demons” do for them; for, with the aid of these communications, denounced by the Church as infernal, they bring back to the worship of God those who denied God, to the practice of virtue those who were plunged in vice; and they thus present to us the amazing spectacle of millions of men and women who have been led to believe in God through the power of the Devil, when the Church had proved itself powerless to effect their conversion! How many, as already remarked, who formerly never prayed, now pray with faith and fervor, thanks to the teachings of these same “demons!” How many, who were formerly proud, selfish, and dissolute, have thus been rendered humble, charitable, and less sensual! And we are to be told that this is the work of demons! If this were so, it would have to be admitted that the Devil had rendered them a much greater service, and had given them much more effectual help than the Angels. But those who can imagine that such an idea could be blindly accepted, at the present day, must have a poor opinion of the judgment of humankind in this century. A religion that makes such a doctrine its cornerstone, which declares its foundations to be undermined if it is deprived of its demons, its Hell, its eternal punishment, and its pitiless God, is a religion that is committing suicide.

18. “But, since God has sent Christ to save humankind,” it is asked, “has God not proved God’s love for them, and has God left them without protection?” Undoubtedly, Christ is the Divine Messiah, sent to teach the truth to humankind and to show them their true path; but if we consider only the period of time that has elapsed since his day, counting up the number of those who have died and of those who will die in the future without knowing anything of those teachings; and even considering those who have heard his message, how many are there who have actually put his precepts into practice? Why should not God, out of solicitude for the well-being of God’s children, send them other messengers to come upon the Earth, entering the humblest abodes, going among the rich and the poor, the learned and the ignorant, the skeptical and the believer, to teach the truth to those who know it not, to explain it to those who do not understand it, to make up by their direct and multiple teaching for the insufficiency of the propagation of the Gospel, and thereby to hasten the coming of the kingdom of heaven? And when these messengers are arriving among us in vast numbers, opening the eyes of the blind, converting the irreligious, healing the sick, and consoling the afflicted, after the example of Jesus, you repulse them, you repudiate the good they are doing, and you say they are demons! Such was also the language of the Pharisees in regard to Jesus, for they, too, said that he performed good works through the power of the devil. But what did Jesus reply to their denunciations? “Judge the tree by its fruit; a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit.”

But, in the estimation of the Pharisees of his day, the fruit produced by Jesus was bad, because he came to destroy abuses and to proclaim the principle of human freedom that was destined to put an end to their authority; had he come to flatter their pride, to sanction their prevarications and to sustain their power, he would have been accepted by them as the Messiah so long awaited by the Jews. He was alone, poor, and defenseless; they killed him and thought they had also killed his message; but his message was divine and has survived him. Nevertheless, that message has been propagated but slowly; after the lapse of eighteen centuries it has become known to scarcely a tenth part of the human family and numerous schisms have broken out among those who call themselves his disciples. It is in this state of things that God mercifully sends spirits to confirm and to complete the message brought by Jesus, to bring it within reach of all, and to spread it abroad over the whole Earth. But the message thus repeated is not incarnated in one single man, whose voice would have reached only to a comparatively short distance; the messengers now being sent to the Earth are innumerable, they go everywhere, and no one can seize them; for which reason their teaching is spreading with the rapidity of lightning; they address themselves to the heart and to the reason, and they are therefore understood by the humblest minds.

19. “But is it not unworthy of celestial messengers,” some will say, “to transmit their teachings, by means of a vehicle so common-place as “talking tables?” Is it not an outrage to their dignity to suppose that they would occupy themselves with trivialities, and that they would leave their brilliant dwelling place to themselves at the disposal of the first person that comes in their way?

Did not Jesus leave the dwelling of his Father to be cradled in a manger? And when has Spiritism ever been known to attribute trivialities to spirits of superior degree? Spiritism asserts, on the contrary, that trivialities can only be the product of trivial spirits. But, by their very simplicity, certain spirit-manifestations have exercised a powerful influence over the minds of a certain class; and, moreover, they have served, while proving the existence of the spirit-world, to show that it is altogether different from what it had hitherto been supposed to be. The phenomena produced with the aid of tables were only the beginning of the great spiritist-movement of our day; this beginning was simple and small, like all beginnings; but though the shoot is small when it issues from the acorn, the oak, nonetheless, sends out its branches widely in course of time. Who would have thought that from the humble manger of Bethlehem would go forth a voice that should shake the world?

Yes; Christ is the Divine Messiah; his word is truth, and the religion founded on that word will be immoveable, provided that those who claim to be Christians follow and practice its sublime teachings, and do not make of the just and good God revealed to us in those teachings, a God who is unjust, vindictive, and without pity.

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