HEAVEN AND HELL OR THE DIVINE JUSTICE ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM

Allan Kardec

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Chapter III

SPIRITS IN A MIDDLING CONDITION


JOSEPH BRE

Died in 1840; evoked at Bordeaux, in 1862, by his granddaughter.
Uprightness in the sight of God, and uprightness according to the judgment of humanity.

1. Dear grandfather, will you tell me how you are situated in the spirit-world, and give me such details concerning your present life as may be useful for our advancement?

A. Most willingly, my dear child. I am expiating my want of faith; but the mercy of God is great, and makes allowance for circumstances. I suffer; not as you understand suffering, but from regret that I did not make a better use of my time upon the Earth.

2. How can you say that you did not make a good use of it? You always lived the life of an upright man.

A. Yes, as human beings judge of uprightness; but there is an abyss between what passes for uprightness amongst humanity, and the uprightness that is approved as such by God. I will try, for your instruction, to make you understand the difference between them.

Among you, human beings are looked upon as upright if they respect the laws of their country (although this respect is, with many, extremely elastic), and if they abstain from robbing their neighbors of their property, although these same individuals may rob them of their honor, of their happiness, provided these vile hypocrites do so in ways that escape the action of the law and of public opinion. Once the long list of praises and apparent virtues are engraved on the flat stone, they believe that they have paid their debt to humanity. What a mistake! To be upright in the sight of Heaven, it is not enough to have abstained from transgressing the laws of humanity; it is necessary, above all, not to have transgressed the laws of God!

Those who are upright in the sight of God are those who, filled with devotion and charity, spend their lives in doing good, in helping forward the progress of their fellow-creatures; individuals who, being animated with a zeal that is kindled by the foresight of the end to be obtained, are perpetually active in all the business of life; active in fulfilling the duties imposed upon them by their worldly positions, for they should inculcate the love of labor among their brothers and sisters; active in every good work, for they must not forget that they are servants of whom the Master will by-and-by demand an account of the way in which they have spent their lives, inculcating by their example the love of God and of neighbor. Those who would be upright in the sight of God must carefully avoid cutting remarks, and insidious suggestions, which destroy reputations and ruin positions, by dishonoring their victims or by making them objects of ridicule. The hearts of those who would be judged upright by God must be free from the least taint of pride, envy, and ambition. Such individuals must be patient and gentle with those who attack them; they must forgive, from the very depths of their hearts, without effort and without ostentation, all those who have wronged them; They must love the Creator in all God’s creatures; They must, in short, put in practice the summary of human duties – so concise and yet so complete! – “Thou shalt love God above all things and thy neighbor as thyself.”

Such, dear granddaughter, is an imperfect outline of what constitutes uprightness in the sight of God. I ask you; candidly, did I fulfill all these conditions? No, I was very far from doing so; I confess the fact without hesitation. I was not active in all good works, as I ought to have been; my forgetfulness of God led me into other sorts of forgetfulness which, though not punishable by human laws, are nonetheless offences against the law of God. I suffered much when I came to perceive this fact; and therefore I am able now to hope, with the consoling hope that is born of faith in the mercy of God, who sees my repentance. Tell this to others, my dear child; repeat it to all those who are burdened by a heavy conscience. Let them atone for past remissness by doing good to the very utmost of their power; and the Divine pity will accept their expiations and wipe out the memory of their faults.


MRS. HELEN MICHEL

She died suddenly, in her home, at the age of twenty-five, without pain, from some cause not ascertainable by science. She was rich, rather frivolous, and, owing to the frivolity of her disposition, more intent on the trifles of life than on more serious matters; yet, notwithstanding this defect, she was good-hearted, gentle, benevolent, and charitable.

Evoked, three days after her death, by people who had known her, she expressed herself as follows: –

“I don’t know where I am!...What a state of confusion I am in!...You have called me, and I come...but I cannot understand why I am not in my home. They are weeping for my absence, and yet I am among them, but I cannot make any of them see me! My body no longer belongs to me, and yet I feel it cold and icy. I try to get away from it, and yet I am riveted to it. I keep coming back to it. I am two persons...Oh, when shall I be able to understand what has happened to me? I must go there! My other ME, what would become of it, if I stayed away?....Farewell!”

The feeling of duality, which has not yet been destroyed by complete separation, is very evident here. Her naturally frivolous disposition had been rendered still more frivolous by her wealth, which had enabled her to gratify her caprices. It is therefore not strange that the separation, in her case, should have been slow, and that, three days after her death, she should still feel herself linked to her physical body. But, as she had no vice and was overall a good woman her situation was not a very painful one and did not last for very long. Evoked again, a few days later, her ideas were found to have changed very considerably. Here is what she said: –

“Thank you for praying for me. I recognize the goodness of God in sparing me all suffering and apprehension at the moment of the separation of my body and soul. My poor mother will find it very difficult to be resigned to my loss; but she will be sustained, and what, to her eyes, appears as a terrible misfortune, was indispensable to her good, in order that the things of the other life might be seen by her in their true light, as the only things of real worth. I shall be near her until the end of her earthly trial, and I shall help her to bear it. I am not unhappy; but I have still much to do in order to raise myself towards the sojourn of the blessed. I shall pray to be permitted to return upon this Earth, for I shall have to make up for the time I wasted in my last existence. Let your faith sustain you, my friends; have confidence in the efficacy of prayer, when it truly comes from the heart: God is kind.”

Q. Were you long in recovering your consciousness?

A. I came to understood that I was dead,on the day you prayed forme.

Q. Was your state of confusion a painful one?

A. No, I did not suffer, I thought I was dreaming, and I expected to awaken. My life was not exempt from pain; all who are incarnated on Earth must suffer: I was resigned to the will of God, and He has counted it in my favor. I am grateful to you for the prayers that helped me to regain consciousness. Thanks; I shall always come to you with pleasure. Farewell. HÉLÈNE”


THE MARQUIS OF SAINT-PAUL

Died in 1860, evoked, at the request of his sister, a member of the Paris Society, the 16th of May, 1861

1. (Evocation.) – A. Here I am.
2. Your sister has asked us to evoke you; although a medium, she is not sufficiently developed to have confidence in herself.

A. I will do my best to reply to you.

3. She wishes, in the first place, to know whether you are happy.
A. I am in erraticity; and in that state I am neither very happy nor very unhappy.

3. Were you long in recovering consciousness?

A. I remained for a considerable time in a state of confusion; and I only emerged from it to bless the charity of those who had not forgotten me, and who had prayed for me.

Q. Can you say how long the confusion lasted in your case?
A. No.

5. Who were the spirits first recognized by you?
A. My father and mother, both of whom received me on my waking and initiated me into the new life.

6. How was it that, at the end of your illness, you seemed to be conversing with those whom you had most loved during your life?

A. The world I was about to enter was revealed to me before my death. I became clairvoyant before I died; but my spirit-sight was clouded at the moment of my definitive separation from the body, because the links between my body and soul were still very vigorous.

7. Why were your remembrances mainly those of your childhood?

A. Because the beginning of a life is nearer to its end than is the middle of it.

Q. What do you mean by that statement?
A. I mean that the dying recall, and see, in a sort of consoling mirage, the innocent years of their childhood.

It is probably through a Providential ordaining of a similar nature that the old, as they near the end of their life, regain so clear a remembrance of the smallest details of their early days.

8. Why, in speaking of your body, did you always allude to it in the third person?

A. Because, being clairvoyant, as I told you just now, I had a clear perception of the duality of my physical and moral being; the difference between these, though lost sight of by us while they are united by the vital fluid, is distinctly visible for those who, in dying, become clairvoyant.

The perception of duality, here alluded to, was very marked in the case of this gentleman. In his last moments, he invariably said: – “He is thirsty; give him something to drink.” “He is cold, warm him.” “He is suffering in such and such a part,” and so on. And when those about him remarked, “But it is you who are thirsty,” or” It is you who want something warm,” etc., he always replied, “No, it is he.” In this case, the two existences were clearly defined. The thinking me is in the spirit and not in the body; the spirit, already partly disengaged from the body, saw the latter as another individual, as something that was not really himself; and consequently it was not to him, the spirit, but to his body, that drink was to be given. This same perception of the duality of the soul and body is frequently manifested by somnambulists.

9. What you have said of being in erraticity, and of the prolongation of your state of confusion, would seem to imply that you are not happy; yet your many excellent qualities would have led us to infer the contrary. It is true that, among errant spirits, some are happy, while others are unhappy.

A. I am in a state of transition; what are considered as virtues among human beings, are appraised, in this world, at their true value. My present state is a thousand times preferable to that of terrestrial incarnation; but, as I have always aspired after the highest truth and the highest beauty, my soul will not be satiated until it has reached the feet of the Creator.

DR. CARDON, DOCTOR


Dr. Cardon had passed a good many years on board of a whaling-vessel, to which he was attached in his medical capacity; and he had acquired, in that rough and adventurous existence, ideas and habits savoring strongly of materiality. Having retired from the seafaring life, he settled in the village of J...., where he exercised the modest profession of a country doctor. In course of time, he became aware that he was attacked with hypertrophy of the heart; knowing this disease to be incurable, the idea of death preyed upon his mind and plunged him into a state of gloomy depression from which nothing could rouse him. Two months before he died, he predicted the day of his death; and, when that day arrived, he called all his family around him to bid him farewell. His wife, his mother, his three children, and a few other relatives, were all assembled at his bedside. At the moment when his wife attempted to raise him from his pillow, he sank on one side, his face became blue and livid, his eyes closed, and he appeared to be dead; his wife placed herself before him, to hide the painful spectacle from their children. But, in the course of a few minutes, he opened his eyes; his face became illuminated, so to say, with an expression of radiant beatitude, and he exclaimed: “Oh, my children, how beautiful it is! How sublime! Oh, death! What a blessing! What a delight! I was dead; and I felt my soul rising up very high; but I am permitted to come back to say to you, ‘Have no fear of death; death is deliverance.’ Would that I could depict for you the magnificence that I have seen and the impressions that have spread throughout my entire being! But you could not understand them. ...Oh, my children! Conduct yourselves always in such a way as to deserve this ineffable felicity, reserved for those who have become good; conform your lives to the dictates of charity; of whatever you possess, give a part to those who are in want...My dear wife! I leave you in a position that is far from what I could have wished. A good deal of money is owing to us, but I entreat of you, do not worry those who owe it. Many of them are straitened, themselves; wait until they are able to pay, and, in the case of those who cannot do so, make the sacrifice of the claim; God will reward you! You, my son, must work hard to support your mother; be always honest and upright! And take care to do nothing that could dishonor our family. Take this cross, which was my mother’s; never lay it aside; and may it always remind you of my last words to you...My children! Aid and sustain one another. Let there be always harmony between you. Be neither vain, nor proud. Forgive your enemies, if you would obtain forgiveness from God.”...Then, having signed to his children to come closer to him, he extended his hands towards them, saying: “My children! I give you my blessing!” As he uttered these words, his eyes closed again; and, this time, it was forever. But his face preserved an expression so imposingly beautiful that, up to the moment of his funeral, crowds of people came to see the corpse, contemplating it with admiration.

These interesting details having been communicated to us by a friend of the family, we thought that an evocation of the deceased might be instructive for us, as well as useful to the spirit himself.

  1. (Evocation.) – A. I am near you.

  2. We have been informed of the circumstances attending your death and we have been

greatly interested by those details. Will you have the kindness to describe to us, as fully as may be, what you saw in the interval between what may be called your two deaths?

A. What I saw, could you comprehend? I know not; but I could not find words capable of rendering comprehensible, for you, what I beheld in the few moments during which it was possible for me to quit my mortal envelope.

3. Can you tell where you went? Was it far from the Earth? Was it in some other planet? Or was it in space?

A. The spirit does not measure distances as you do. Carried away by some wonderful current, I beheld the splendors of a sky such as not the most ecstatic dream could foreshadow. This journey through infinity was accomplished so rapidly that I cannot tell how many moments were thus employed by my spirit.

4. Are you now in the enjoyment of all the happiness of which you obtained a glimpse?

A. No, I should be rejoiced indeed if such were my present lot; but God could not grant me a reward so far above my merits. I rebelled too often against the wise suggestions made to my mind, for death seemed to me to be an injustice. A skeptical physician, I had imbibed, from the exercise of the healing art, an aversion to the idea of the second nature which is our intelligent and divinely-given motor; I regarded the immortality of the soul as a fiction fit for minds of little elevation; nevertheless, the prospect of annihilation filled me with horror, for the mysterious agent, that I had so often cursed, continued to knock at the door of my heart. But the vain philosophy, to which I had accorded my confidence, had failed to show me the greatness of the Eternal, whose wisdom distributes joy and sorrow for the improvement of mankind.

5. When your death had really occurred, did you recover your consciousness immediately?

A. I had recovered my consciousness during the transition undergone by my soul in order to visit the ethereal regions; but, after my real death, it was several days before I awakened to consciousness.

God had granted me a favor; I will tell you why.

My former incredulity no longer existed; I had begun to believe, before my death; for, after having scientifically probed the dangerous illness which was killing me, I could assign no other reason for it than the decree of a power superior to nature; this conviction had inspired and consoled me, and had given me a courage that was stronger than my suffering. I blessed what I had formerly cursed; the end, which was approaching, appeared to me as deliverance. The thought of God is as vast as the universe! Ah! What admirable consolation do we find in the ineffable influences of prayer! The instinct of prayer is the surest element of our immaterial nature. Through prayer I had comprehended; I had arrived at a firm, unwavering conviction; and it was for this reason that God, weighing my actions, granted me this reward before the end of my incarnation.

6. Would it be correct to say that, during your absence from your body, you were already dead?

A. Yes, and no; the spirit having left the body, the life of the flesh was necessarily becoming extinguished; but, when I again took possession of my terrestrial dwelling, life came back to the body, which had undergone a transition, a sleep.

7. Did you, at that moment, feel the links that connected you with your body?

A. Undoubtedly; those links are hard to break; the spirit has to wait for the last shudder of the flesh, before it can return to its normal life.

8. How was it that, at the time of your apparent death and for some minutes afterwards, your spirit was able to disengage itself instantaneously and without confusion, while your real death was followed by a period of confusion extending over several days? It would seem that, as the links between soul and body were stronger in the former case than in the latter, your disengagement ought to have been slower; yet it is the contrary that occurred.

A. You have often evoked incarnate spirits, and you have received replies that were really made by them.76 I was in the position of those spirits. God called me; His servants said, “Come!” I obeyed the call; and I thank God for the special favor accorded to me, and which enabled me to see and to understand the infinity of His greatness. I also thank the spirits who, before my real death, assisted me to give my last counsels to my children, and to urge them to goodness and rectitude during their present incarnation.

9. What prompted those good and beautiful counsels that, on returning to the earthly life, you addressed to your family?

A. They were the reflexes of what I had seen and heard during my absence from the body. My spirit-friends inspired my voice and influenced my countenance.

10. What impression do you believe your statements made upon your family and your children in particular?

A. They were all profoundly affected by them. The assertions of a dying man cannot be suspected of deceit; and his children, even the most ungrateful, respect the voice of the parent who is passing away. If you could scrutinize the hearts of children, beside the open grave of a parent, you would see that they are only moved, at such a moment, by true and worthy feelings, excited in their minds by the occult action of the good spirits about them, who say, in whispers addressed to their thought: – “Tremble, if you have not a clear conscience. Death is either a reward, or a punishment; for God is just!” I can assure you that, notwithstanding the incredulity too general in the world, my family and my friends will retain their belief in the statements I made to them before I died. I was the mouthpiece of the other world.

11. You say that you are not yet in the enjoyment of all the happiness of which you had a glimpsed; do you mean to say that you are unhappy?

A. No, for I believed before dying, sincerely and deeply. Pain, so hard to bear, in the earthly life, adds to our advancement in the spirit-world. The Divine Judge has taken account of my prayers and my entire confidence in His goodness; I am on the road to perfection, and I shall reach, in time, the goal of which I was permitted to obtain a glimpse. Pray, my Friends, for you thus render more operative your union with the beings of this other world who preside over the destinies of the Earth. Prayer is a force that brings the spirits of all worlds into communion with one another.

12. Would you like to send a few words to your wife and children?

A. I beseech all those who love me to believe in God, the all-powerful, just, unchangeable; in prayer, which consoles and relieves; in charity, which is the holiest product of human incarnation. Let them remember that even the poorest can find something to give, and that the mite of the poor is the most noble of all gifts in the sight of God, who knows that the poor give much in giving little, and that the rich can only equal the charitableness of the poor by giving very largely, and very often.

The happiness of the future is contained in charity, in universal benevolence, in the conviction that all human beings are brothers and sisters, in the absence of all selfishness and childish vanity.

My beloved family! You will have to undergo heavy trials; but draw courage, for bearing them, from the thought that God takes note of your resignation.

Repeat, often, this prayer: – God of love and of goodness, Eternal Giver! Give us firmness so that we do not draw back from confronting any sorrow; make us kind, gentle, charitable; if we are but little, in point of fortune, make us great in the qualities of our hearts. May we be thoroughly enlightened by the truths of Spiritism during our earthly life, so that we may be better able to understand and to love Thee in the spirit-world. May Thy name, O God! Emblem of freedom, be the consoling aim of all those who feel the need of loving, forgiving, and believing. CARDON”



ERIC STANILAS

Spontaneous communication; Spiritist Society of Paris; August 1863:


“How much happiness do we derive from the communicated emotions of kindly hearts! Beautiful principles that open a path of salvation for all that lives, for all that breathes, physically and spiritually, may your balmy influences be largely spread abroad over the people of the Earth, and over us, in the spirit-world! What words, dear friends, could express the delight of your brothers beyond the grave, in witnessing the unselfish affection by which you are all united?

Ah! Brothers and sisters, of how much good, of how much elevated conviction, is your doctrine destined to sow the seed! And what a harvest of blessing will you reap, even for yourselves, from the good you will thus have accomplished!

I have been with you all the evening; I have listened, I have comprehended, and I shall now be able, in my turn, to do my duty in giving instructions to imperfect spirits in the other life.

Listen: – I was far from being happy; lost in the vastness of immensity, of infinity, my sufferings were all the more acute because I could not exactly understand their nature. God be thanked! God’s goodness has permitted me to enter a sanctuary that cannot be approached with impunity by the wicked. How grateful I feel to you, my friends! How much strength I have gained from you!

Meet often, you who are animated by hope and charity; for you cannot imagine how fruitful of good are the earnest and serious meetings that take place among you. Spirits who have still much to learn, those who have remained voluntarily inactive, idle, and forgetful of their duties, may be brought fortuitously, or otherwise, among you; struck by a terrible shock, they may be led (and this often happens) to fall back upon themselves, to perceive their own state, to see the aim which they have to attain, and, strengthened by the example which you set them, many seek the means of deliverance from the painful state in which they find themselves. I am very happy to serve as the spokesperson of those suffering souls; for I am speaking to women and men who have hearts, and I know that I shall not be repelled by them.

Once more, then, O generous humanity! Let me assure you of my own personal gratitude, and that of all your friends in this other life, to whom you have done so much good, of which, perhaps, you have not been aware. ERIC STANISLAS”

The Medium’s Guide. – My children, the spirit who dictated the message you have just received was, in the past, very unhappy, because he remained for a long time on the wrong road. He has now understood his mistake, repented of his wrongdoing, and, at length, turned towards God, from whom he had turned away. His position is not yet a happy one; but he aspires to happiness, and he no longer suffers. He is now permitted to come and listen to the instructions that are given to you by your spirit-friends; and he will soon be allowed to enter into a lower sphere, in which he will instruct, and help forward, other spirits who, like him, have transgressed the laws of the Eternal; this is the reparation demanded of him. He will now be able to win happiness, because he has now the will to do so.


MADAME ANNA BELLEVILLE

She died at the age of thirty-five, after a long and very painful illness. Vivacious, witty, endowed with rare intelligence, of clear judgment, and high moral excellence, a devoted wife and mother, she also possessed uncommon strength of character, and a mind so fertile in resources that she was never at a loss to decide as to what was the best to be done in the most critical moments of her life. Without rancor toward those of whom she had the most cause to complain, she was always ready to render service to them. Having been intimately acquainted with her for many years, we had followed with interest all the phases of her life and all the incidents of its close.

An accident led to the terrible disease that carried her off, after keeping her for three years confined to her bed, a prey to the most frightful sufferings, which she bore, to the last, with heroic courage, and in the midst of which her natural cheerfulness never abandoned her. She believed firmly in the existence of the soul and of the future life; but she did not think much about them; all her thoughts were concentrated on the present life, to which she was strongly attached, without, however, having any dread of death, and without caring for material enjoyments, but, on the contrary, living very simply, and easily doing without whatever she had not the means of procuring; but she had an instinctive taste for the commodious and the beautiful and she displayed this taste in the smallest details. She longed to live, less for herself than for her children, to whom she felt herself to be necessary; for their sake, she clung to life with extraordinary tenacity. She knew something of Spiritism, but without having made it a subject of study; she took a certain amount of interest in its postulates and yet it failed to give her a fixed basis of conviction concerning the future. She regarded it as being true, but it made no deep impression on her mind. The good that she did was prompted by a natural, spontaneous tendency on her part, and not by any thought of the rewards and penalties of the future.

Her life had been, for a long time, despaired of, and those about her were prepared to witness her departure at any moment; she herself no longer cherished any illusion in regard to her state of health. One day, her husband being absent, she felt her strength leaving her, and understood that her hour had come; her sight became clouded, her mind became confused, and she experienced all the distress of the separation. But the idea of dying before her husband returned was very painful to her. Rousing all the energy she could muster, she said to herself, “No, I will not die.” As she formed this resolution, she felt her life coming back to her, and she recovered the full possession of her faculties. When her husband returned, she said to him, “I was dying, but I determined to wait until you came back to me, for I have still a good many things to say to you.” This struggle between life and death was kept up by her for three months, which lapse of time was, in her case, only a prolonged and most painful dying.

(Evocation: the day after her death)

Thanks, dear friends, for thinking of me; but you have always been to me like parents. Rejoice with me, for I am happy. Assure my poor husband of this, and watch over my children. I went to them as soon as my deliverance had taken place.

Q. It would appear that the confusion has not lasted long in your case, since you reply to us with so much clearness.

A. You know how much I suffered, and that I bore my sufferings with resignation. My trial is ended. I cannot say that I am, as of yet, completely disengaged; but I no longer suffer, and this is for me such an immense relief! This time, I am, indeed, thoroughly cured; but I still need the help of your prayers, that I may be able, afterwards, to come and work with you.

Q. What could have been the cause of your long sufferings?
A. Aterriblepast.
Q. Can you tell us about that past?
A. Oh,letmeforgetitforawhile;Ihavepaidsuchaheavypriceforit!


(A MONTH AFTER HER DEATH)

Q. As you must now be completely free and better able to describe your situation, we should be very glad to receive some more explicit statement from you. Can you tell us what was the cause of your prolonged death-agony? For you were, for three months, between life and death.

A. Thanks, dear friends, for your remembrance and your prayers! How much good they have done me, and how powerfully they contributed to my release! I still need to be supported; continue to pray for me. You understand what prayer should be! Your prayers are no commonplace forms, like those of so many who know nothing of the effect of a true prayer. My sufferings were great; but they are amply rewarded; and I am permitted to be often with my children, whom I quitted with so much regret!

I prolonged my sufferings by my own determined wish to live; my ardent desire to remain with my children caused me to cling to matter with the clutch of a drowning man; I stiffened myself in my determination and I would not abandon the unhappy body from which it was, nevertheless, necessary for me to tear myself away, and which was for me the instrument of such dreadful torture. Such was the true cause of my long death-struggle. My illness, and the sufferings I endured, was an expiation of the past, one more debt paid off and done with.

Ah, dear friends, if I had hearkened to you, how very different would be my present life! What consolation I should have had in my last moments, and how much easier this separation would have been to me, if, instead of opposing it, I had given myself up, confiding in the will of God, to the current that was carrying me away! But, instead of looking forward to the future that was awaiting me, I looked only to the present that I was quitting!

When I come back upon the Earth, I promise you I shall be a spiritist! What an immense unfolding! I often come to your meetings, to listen to the instructions that are given by you. If I could have understood all this while I was upon the Earth, my sufferings would have been greatly lessened; but my hour had not come. I now comprehend the goodness of God and His justice; but I am not yet sufficiently advanced to refrain from occupying myself with the things of the earthly life; my children, especially, draw me back to the Earth, no longer with the desire to spoil them, but to watch over them and to lead them to follow the road traced out by Spiritism. Yes, my friends; I still have serious anxieties; one especially, for my children’s future depends on it.

Q. Can you tell us anything of the past that you deplore?

A. I am quite ready to make my confession! I was once, in a former life, so indifferent to suffering that I was perfectly capable of watching my mother suffer without feeling any pity for her; I treated her sufferings as only imaginary. As she was not obliged to keep her bed, I fancied that she did not really suffer, and I laughed at her misery. You see how Providence enacts correction!


(SIX MONTHS AFTER HER DEATH)


Q. Now that a tolerably long time has elapsed since you quitted your terrestrial envelope, be kind enough to depict to us your situation and your occupations in the spirit-world.

A. During my terrestrial life, I was what was considered, in a general way, a good woman; but I prized my own comfort above everything else. Although I was naturally compassionate, I am sure that I should have been capable of making any painful sacrifice to relieve another’s misfortune. At present, all that is changed; I am still myself, but the person I was in former days has undergone modifications. I have still made some gains; I see that there are no other differences of rank and condition, in the spirit-world, than those of personal merit, where the charitable, though poor, are above the haughty rich who humiliated them in giving them alms. I watch especially over those who are afflicted with family-troubles, the loss of relatives, or of fortune; my mission is to console and to encourage them, and I am happy to be doing so.

ANNA”

An important question is suggested by the foregoing facts: can a human being, by an effort of the will, delay the definitive separation of the soul and the body?

Reply of the spirit of Saint Louis:

This question, if replied to in the affirmative and without restriction, might give rise to erroneous suppositions. An incarnated spirit may, under certain circumstances, prolong its corporeal existence in order to finish the giving of some directions which it considers to be absolutely necessary; such a one may be allowed to do so, as in the case referred to, and in many others. But this prolongation could only be, in any case, of short duration, for no one can be allowed to invert the order of nature, or to effect a real return to the earthly life, when the latter has reached its appointed term. Moreover, you must not infer, from the possibility of such an action, that it could be general, or that every individual spirit would be able to prolong its own corporeal existence in this way. As a trial for the spirit, or in the interest of a mission to be accomplished, the worn-out organs may receive a supplement of vital fluid that allows of their adding a few instants to the corporeal manifestation of thought; but such cases are the exceptions and not the rule. You must regard such a momentary prolongation of life not as a derogation from the unchangeableness of the laws of God, but as a consequence of the freedom of the human soul, which, at the last moment, is conscious of the mission that has been imposed upon it, and fervently desires, in defiance of death, to accomplish what it has not been able to finish. It may also be, in some cases, a correction imposed on a spirit who doubts the fact of a future life; such a prolonging of vitality bringing with it a prolongation of suffering.

SAINT LOUIS

Some surprise may be felt at the rapidity with which the disengagement of this spirit was effected, notwithstanding her attachment to the earthly life; but it must be remarked that this attachment was neither sensual nor material; it was even, in some sense, a virtuous feeling, for it was prompted by anxiety for the welfare of her children, who were very young. The lady in question, it must also be remembered, was a spirit of considerable advancement both in intelligence and in morality; one degree more and she would have been among the “happy spirits.” In her case, therefore, the perispiritual links had nothing of the tenacity which results from the spirit’s self-identification with material things; it may be said, moreover, that, her physical life being weakened by her long illness, her soul was only held to the body by a few threads; it was these threads that she tried to prevent from breaking. But she was repaid for this resistance by the prolongation of her sufferings, which were due to the nature of her illness and not to any difficulty of disengagement; and therefore, when the latter had taken place, the mental confusion was of short duration.

Another point, equally important, that is rendered evident by the results of this evocation – as in the greater number of evocations of any given spirit, made at various times, more or less distant from the moment of death – is the change which gradually takes place in the ideas of the spirit, and of which we are able to follow the progress; in the case now under notice, this change is shown, not by the awakening of better feelings, but by more correct appreciation of the facts of existence. The progress of the soul after death is, therefore, a fact proven by experience; life in the flesh is the practical application of the progress thus made by the soul in the other world, the test of its new resolves, the arena in which it accomplishes a new degree of its purification.

If the soul progresses after death, it is clear that its fate is not irrevocably fixed at death, for the fixation of its fate would be, as we have already shown, the negation of progress. It being impossible that fixation and progress can exist simultaneously, we must accept, of these two alternatives, the one that has the double sanction of reason and of experience.


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