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.