HEAVEN AND HELL OR THE DIVINE JUSTICE ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM

Allan Kardec

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Chapter V

SUICIDES

THE SUICIDE AT THE SAMARITAINE

On the 7th April, 1858, about seven o’clock in the evening, a man of some fifty years of age, respectably dressed, entered the great bathing establishment of the Samaritaine, in Paris, and ordered a bath. The waiter on duty, after an interval of a couple of hours, finding that the individual in question did not ring for him, determined to enter his bathroom, to see if he were ill. On doing this, he beheld a hideous spectacle; the unhappy stranger had cut his throat with a razor, and his blood had mingled with the water of his bath. The identity of the stranger not having been established, the corpse was conveyed to the Morgue.

The spirit of this man, evoked six days afterwards at a meeting of the Paris Society, replied as follows: –

1. Evocation – (The Medium’s Guide) Wait a moment; he is here.

2. Where are you now?

A. I don’t know. Tell me where I am.

3. You are in an assembly of persons who take part in investigations about spirits, and who feel kindly towards you.

A. Tell me if I am alive…I am stifled in this coffin!
His soul, though separated from the body, is still entirely plunged in what may be termed the vortex of corporeal matter; his terrestrial ideas are still strong; he does not suppose himself to be dead.

4. Who advised you to come to us?

A. I felt that I should be relieved by coming.

5. What motive led you to commit suicide?

A. Am I dead?…Not at all!…I inhabit my body…You cannot imagine how much I suffer!…I am stifling…Oh, that some compassionate hand would finish killing me!

6. Why did you not leave some indication to show whom you were?

A. I was abandon by everybody; I fled from suffering to find torture!

7. Have you still the same motives for remaining unknown?

A. Yes, do not force the red-hot iron into a bleeding wound!

8. Will you tell us your name, your age, your profession, your residence?

A. No, nothing.

9. Had you a family, a wife, children?

A. I was abandon by all; no one loved me.

10. What had you done, that no one loved you?

A. How many are like me! A man may be abandoned in the midst of his family, if no one cares for him.

11. At the moment when you committed suicide, did you feel no hesitation?

A. I thirsted for death…I expected to find myself at rest.

12. How could the thought of the future have failed to turn you from your project?

A. I had ceased to believe in a future; I was without hope. Belief in a future means hope!

13. What reflections passed through your mind at the moment when you found your life becoming extinct?

A. I did not reflect; I only felt…But my life is not extinct…My soul is linked to my body…I feel the worms that are devouring me.

14. What feeling did you experience at the moment when your death had taken place?
A. Has it done so?

15. Did you suffer pain at the moment when your life became extinct?

A. Less than I suffered afterwards. It was the body only that suffered at that moment.

16. (To the spirit of Saint Louis.) What does he mean by saying that the moment of his death was less painful than afterwards?

A. The spirit was throwing off a load of which he was weary; the pain he suffered in doing so was therefore a source of satisfaction to him.

17. Does suicide always lead to such a state as that in which he is?

A. Yes, he who commits suicide is linked to his body to the end of the period appointed for his earthly life. Natural death is the freeing of the soul from the bonds of the earthly life; suicide leaves the links between the soul and body intact.

18. Is this state the same in cases of accidental death, from causes independent of the will that shorten the natural duration of a life?

A. No. Such deaths are very different from suicide. The spirit is only responsible for his
voluntary actions.

This doubt concerning the fact of their death is very common among those whose decease is recent, especially if, during life, they have not raised their affections above material things. This phenomenon appears strange at first sight, but is easily explained. When a subject is thrown, for the first time, into the somnambulistic state, he almost always, on being asked whether he is asleep, reply “No,” and his reply is perfectly natural; the seeming error is with the questioner, who has employed a wrong term in putting his question. The term sleep, in ordinary parlance, implies the suspension of all the sensitive faculties; consequently, the somnambulist, who thinks, sees, feels, and has the consciousness of his moral freedom, does not suppose himself to be asleep, and, in fact, he is not asleep in the usual acceptation of that term. He therefore replies by a negative until he has become familiarized with the special use of the term in question. It is the same with one who has recently died. For him, death means the annihilation of his being; but, like the somnambulist, he sees, feels, speaks; to himself, therefore, he does not seem to be dead, and he denies being dead, until he has acquired the comprehension of his new state of being. This state of illusion is always more or less painful, because it is not a true, complete state of existence, but a hybrid one, causing the spirit to feel more or less uncertainty and anxiety about himself and his position. In the example just cited, it is a terrible torture, through the spirit’s sensation of the worms that are devouring his body, and through its persistence, which will continue until the end of the time to which the man would have lived if he had not cut short the normal union of his soul and body. This state is frequent among those who have committed suicide, but it does not present the same conditions in all cases; it varies in duration and in intensity according to the circumstances that aggravate or attenuate the crime. The sensation of worms and of bodily decomposition, moreover, is not confined exclusively to those who have committed suicide; it is frequent among those who have lived with the bodily life rather than with the life of the soul. It may be laid down, as a principle, that no fault goes unpunished; but there is no uniform and absolute rule in the methods of providential punishment.


THE FATHER AND THE CONSCRIPT

At the beginning of the war in Italy, in 1859, a tradesman of Paris, the father of a family, and much esteemed by all his neighbors, had an only son who had been taken by the conscription. Not having the money necessary for purchasing a substitute for him, he killed himself in order to procure for the conscript the exoneration from the military service that is granted by French law to only sons of widows. He was evoked, a year afterwards, by the Spiritist Society of Paris, at the request of a person who had been acquainted with him, and who wished to learn of his state in the spirit-world.

(To Saint Louis) Please tell us if we may evoke the spirit of whom our friend has been
speaking?

A. Yes, he will be glad to reply, for it will be a relief to him.

1. (Evocation.) – Oh, thank you for speaking to me! I suffer greatly, but…is just. He will forgive me.

The spirit wrote with much difficulty. His writing was irregular and ill done; after the word but, he stopped, making vain efforts to write, but tracing only dots and illegible strokes. It was evidently the word God that he was unable to write.

2. Fill up the gap you have left.

A. I am unworthy to do so.

3. You say that you suffer; and you undoubtedly did very wrong in committing suicide. But has not the motive that led you to the act obtained for you some indulgence?

A. My punishment will be shortened on that account; but the action itself was, nonetheless, reprehensible.

4. Can you describe to us the punishment you are undergoing?

A. I suffer doubly, in my soul and in my body; I suffer in the latter, although no longer possessing it, as one who has been amputated suffers in his absent limb.

5. Was your anxiety for your son the sole motive of your deed? Were you tempted by any other cause?

A. Paternal affection was my sole guide, though a guide that led me astray; in consideration of my motive, my punishment will be abridged.

6. Do you foresee the end of your suffering?

A. I do not know when its end will come; but I know that it will have an end, and this is a consolation for me.

7. A few moments ago, you were unable to write the name of God; but we have seen it written by spirits who were very unhappy; is that inability part of your punishment?

A. I shall be able to write it when I have sufficiently repented.

8. Well, then, make the effort to repent heartily, and try to write it; we are convinced that, if you succeed in doing this, you will find relief in it.

The spirit succeeded, at last, in writing, in very large, shaky, irregular letters, “God is very good.”

9. We thank you for having come to our call, and we will pray for you, in order to invoke upon you the mercy of God.

A. Yes, please do so.

10. (To Saint Louis.) We beg to know your personal opinion of the act of the spirit we have just evoked.

A. He suffers justly, for he lacked confidence in God, which is a fault that always deserves punishment; his punishment would be terrible and very long, if he had not in his favor a praiseworthy motive, that of preventing his son from being sent to his death; God, who sees the bottom of the heart, and who is just, only punishes him according to the measure of his fault.

Observation - At the first glance, this suicide seems to be almost excusable, because it may be considered as an act of devotion; it was such, in fact, but not merely such. As was remarked by the spirit of Saint Louis, this man had lacked confidence in God. He may, also, by his action, have prevented his son’s destiny from being accomplished. It is not certain that his son would have been killed in the war; and it is quite possible that the military career was intended to furnish him with the occasion of doing something that would have been useful for his advancement. The father’s intention was undoubtedly good; and, accordingly, it is counted to him as such; the intention attenuates the fault and merits indulgence, but it cannot prevent what is wrong from being wrong; otherwise, all misdeeds might claim to be excused by the plea of good intentions, and men might murder one another under the pretext of rendering a service by so doing. If a woman kills her child in the belief that she thus sends it straight to Heaven, is she less faulty because she has acted from a good motive? The plea of good intentions, if admitted, would justify all the crimes that have been committed by blind fanaticism in what are improperly termed “religious wars.”

Man has no right to dispose of his life, because it has been given him in view of the duties which he ought to accomplish upon the Earth; for which reason he should not shorten it voluntarily on any pretext whatsoever. As he has his free-will, he cannot be prevented from doing so if he will; but he has always to undergo the consequences of the deed. The suicide that is most severely punished is that which is prompted by despair and the hope of avoiding the troubles of life; because these troubles being both trials and expiations, to shirk them is to draw back from a task that had been previously accepted, and, sometimes, from a mission which ought to have been fulfilled.

Suicide does not consist simply in the voluntary act that produces instantaneous death; it comprises everything that is done, knowingly, to bring about a premature extinction of the vital forces. The devotion of him who exposes himself to a danger of death, in order to save the life of a

fellow-creature, is not to be confounded with suicide; first, because, in such a case, there is no premeditated intention to withdraw one’s self from life, and, secondly, because there is no peril from which Providence cannot save us, if the hour appointed for our quitting the earth has not come. When death takes place under such circumstances, it is a meritorious sacrifice, for it is an act of abnegation for the good of others. (“The Gospel According to Spiritism,” chap. V., Nos. 53, 65, 66, 67)


FRANÇOIS SIMON LOUVET (OF LE HAVRE)

The following communication was given spontaneously at a spiritist meeting, at Le Havre, on February 12th:

“Have pity on a poor wretch who has so long been suffering such terrible tortures! Oh! Emptiness...space...I am falling! I am falling! Help me!... My God, my life was so miserable! I was very poor; I was so often hungry in my old age; it was for that, that I took to drinking, and so grew ashamed and sick of my life... I wanted to die, and I threw myself...Oh, my God! what a moment! Why could I not have waited a little longer, since I was so near the end of my days? Pray for me, that I may not always have this dreadful void underneath me! I shall be dashed to pieces on the stones!...I beseech you, help me, you who know the horrors that are suffered by those who are no longer on the Earth; I address myself to you although you do not know me, because I suffer so much...Why ask me for proofs? I am wretched, is not that enough? If I were hungry, instead of having to bear this horrible misery, so much more terrible, though invisible for you, you would not hesitate to relieve me by giving me a morsel of bread. I ask you to pray for me...I cannot stay any longer...Ask the happy ones who are here, and you will know whom I was. Pray for me.”


FRANÇOIS SIMON LOUVET

(The Medium’s Guide). – He, who has just communicated to you, my child, is a poor wretch who had to undergo the trial of poverty upon the Earth; but he took disgust to life; his courage failed him, and the unfortunate creature, instead of looking upwards as he should have done, gave himself up to drunkenness. Having reached the lowest depth of despair, he put an end to his ill-borne trial by throwing himself from the Tower of Francis the First, on July 22nd, 1857. Take pity on his miserable soul, that has advanced but little, but that has acquired, nevertheless, sufficient knowledge of the future life to suffer and to desire a new trial. Pray to God that this favor may be granted him, and you will do a good deed.

Researches having been made, there was found, in the Journal du Havre of July 23rd, 1857, an article of which the substance was as follows: –

“Yesterday, at 4 p.m., the persons on the pier were painfully affected by a frightful incident; an individual threw himself from the Tower and was dashed to pieces on the stones. It was an old hauler, whose habits of drunkenness had led him to commit suicide. His name is Francois Simon Louvet. His body was carried to the house of one of his daughters, in the Rue de la Corderie; he was sixty-seven years of age.”

This man, who had been dead for six years, still saw himself falling from the Tower and being dashed to pieces on the stones. He was terrified at the void beneath him; he shuddered at the shock that was awaiting him...and, all this, for six weary years! How much longer will his agony continue? He knows not; and this uncertainty increases his anguish. Is not this state as horrible as Hell and its flames? Who has revealed these punishments? Have they been invented by human imagination? No; it is they who are enduring them who come and describe them, as others come and describe their joys. And they often do this spontaneously, without anyone having thought of them, which exclude all idea of their narratives being due to the fancy of the medium.


A MOTHER AND HER SON

In March 1865, the son of Mr. C—, in business in a little town near Paris, had come home to his parents, dangerously ill. This young man, in his twenty-first year, feeling that his last moment had come, called his mother to him, and found the strength to kiss her once more. The mother, bathed in tears, replied to his kiss by saying, “Go before me, my son; I shall not be long in following you!” As she said this, she rushed out of the room, her face hidden in her hands.

Those who witnessed this painful scene supposed the mother’s exclamation to have been only the outburst of a grief that would be softened by time and reason; and, the young man having expired immediately afterwards, they tried to find her, to inform her of the event. She was found dead in the garret, where she had hanged herself on quitting her son. The funeral of the two took place together.

(Evocation of the Son, several days after the event)
Q. Are you aware of the death of your mother, who killed herself in despair at losing you? A. Yes, and but for the grief which has been caused me by her fatal act, I should be perfectly

happy. My poor dear mother! She could not bear the trial of this momentary separation, and she has taken, in the hope of being reunited with the son she loved so dearly, the road which must necessarily keep her far from him, and, alas! for a long, long time! She has thus delayed, indefinitely, the reunion that would have so soon taken place if her soul had been filled with submission to the designs of the Almighty, and if she had resigned herself, with humility and repentance to the trial that she had to undergo, and the expiation that would have purified her!

Pray, oh pray for her! And you, mothers, who are touched by the sad recital of her death, take care not to imitate her fault! Do not imagine that her love, for the son who was her joy and her pride, was greater than that of other mothers; no, it was not that she loved more than others, but she lacked courage and resignation. Mothers, who hear me, when you behold the eyes of your children closed in death, remember that, like Christ, they have climbed to the top of the Calvary from which they will rise into the glory of the higher life! Benjamin C –.

(Evocation of the Mother) – I must see my son! Have you the power to give him back to me?...How cruel they are!...they have taken him from me, to carry him away into the light, and they have left me in darkness!...I must and will have him...he belongs to me!...is a mother’s love nothing?...What! To have carried him nine months in my bosom, to have nourished him with my milk, building up his flesh, his blood with my blood...to have guided his first steps...to have taught him to lisp the holy name of God and the sweet name of mother...to have made of him a man, full of activity, intelligence, honesty, uprightness, and filial affection...and to lose him just when he was beginning to fulfill the hopes we had cherished in regard to him, and when a brilliant career was opening before him! No; God is not just; He is not the God of mothers; He understands nothing of their despair and their sorrow...and when I killed myself, that I may not quit my child, they take him from me a second time!...My son! My son! Where are you?

The Evoker - Poor mother! We feel for your sorrow; but you have taken the worst of all means for rejoining your son. Suicide is a crime in the sight of God, and you ought to have foreseen that He punishes every infraction of His laws. Your punishment is to be deprived of the sight of your child.

The Mother - I thought that God was more merciful than men! I did not believe in His Hell, but in the eternal reunion of souls who have loved as we loved. I was mistaken...He is not a just and good God, for He has not understood the immensity of my grief and of my love! Ah! Who will give me back my son? Have I lost him forever? Take pity on me, O God!”

The Evoker - You must try to be calmer. Remember, if there is any way of obtaining a sight of your child, it is not through blaspheming God, as you are doing. Instead of attracting to yourself the Divine pity, you are preparing still severer punishment for yourself.

The Mother - They told me I should never see him again; I understood that they were taking him away to Paradise. Am I, then, in Hell?...the Hell of mothers?...It exists; I see it but too plainly!

The Evoker - Your son is not lost to you forever. Believe me, you will certainly see him again; but you must deserve this favor by your submission to the Divine will, whereas, by your rebellion, you must delay that moment indefinitely. Listen to me; God is indefinitely good, but He is infinitely just. He never punishes without a cause; and, if He visited you with a great sorrow in your earthly life, it must have been because you had deserved it. Your son’s death was a trial of your resignation; unhappily you succumbed to it during your life, and now you are succumbing to it again, after your death! How can you suppose that God will favor His children while they rebel against Him? But He is not inexorable; He always welcomes the repentance of the guilty. If you had accepted, without murmuring and with humility, the trial imposed on you by a momentary separation, and if you had patiently awaited the time appointed for you to quit the Earth, you would at once have seen your son, on entering the world in which you are. He would have come to meet you with open arms, and you would have had the delight of seeing him radiant with joy at meeting you again after a period of absence. What you did, and what you are still doing, puts a barrier between you and him. Don’t imagine that he is far off, in the depths of space - no - he is nearer to you than you suppose; but he is hidden from you by an impenetrable veil. He sees you; he loves you still; he is grieved for the painful position in which you are placed by your want of confidence in God; he longs, with all the force of his affection for you, for the happy moment when he will be permitted to show himself to you; it depends entirely on yourself to hasten or to delay that moment. Raise your heart to God, now, repeating the prayer I am going to say for you: “Forgive me, O my God! for having doubted Your justice and Your goodness! I acknowledge that, if You have punished me, I must have deserved the punishment. Deign, O my God! to accept my repentance and my submission to Your holy will!”

The Mother - What a blessed gleam of hope you have made to shine into my soul! It has lighted up the night in which I was plunged! Thanks; I will continue to pray. Farewell. C ––.

In the case of this spirit, suicide did not produce the illusion that leads one who is dead to think himself still living. On the contrary, the mother’s soul is perfectly aware of its situation. In some cases, the punishment of suicide consists on that illusion, in the persistence of the links that attach the spirit to the body. The woman in question voluntarily quitted the Earth to follow her son into the other life; it was, therefore, necessary that she would know herself to be in that other life, in order that she might be punished by her inability to find him. Her punishment was, precisely, to know that she was no longer living the life of the flesh, and to have the consciousness of her real position. We see, therefore, that each fault is punished by the special circumstances which accompany its punishment, and that there is no uniform and unvarying chastisement for faults of the same kind.


A DOUBLE SUICIDE FROM LOVE AND FROM A SENSE OF DUTY

A newspaper of June 13th, 1862, contained the following narrative:

“Mademoiselle Palmyra, residing with her parents, was equally charming and amiable. She was, therefore, much sought after in marriage. Among those who aspired to her hand, she preferred Mr. B——, who was deeply attached to her. Although equally attached to him, she thought herself obliged, out of regard for her parents, to yield to their wish by marrying Mr. D—, whose social position was superior to that of Mr. B——.

“Mr. B—— and Mr. D—— were intimate friends. Although in no way connected, they were always together. The mutual affection of Mr. B—— and Palmyra (now become Madame D——) so far from being weakened by her ill-omened marriage, seemed to grow stronger in proportion to the efforts made by both of them to repress it. Hoping to root out his unfortunate passion by so doing, Mr. B—— married a charming and excellent girl, whom he tried to force himself into loving; but he soon found that this heroic remedy was powerless to change the current of his thoughts. Unhappily for all parties, Mr. D——, who was sincerely attached to his friend and utterly unsuspicious of the state of the case, added to the suffering both of Mr. B—— and of his wife, by constantly bringing the former into his house, thus keeping them within the circle of danger from which they were vainly endeavoring to escape. Nevertheless, during the four years of this mortal torture, they remained strictly faithful, in act, to their marriage vows.

“One day, however, the two lovers having accidentally met and having revealed to each other the persistence of their mutual affection, they made up their minds that death was their only safeguard against the dangers of their position. They accordingly resolved to die together; and, as Mr. D—— was to be absent during the greater part of the next day, they determined to take advantage of that circumstance to put their project into execution. Having made their preparations for the act on which they had resolved, they wrote a long and touching letter, explaining the motive of the suicide to which they had determined to have recourse as the sole means of enabling them to remain faithful to duty; they wound up their letter by asking to be forgiven and to be buried in the same grave.

“When Mr. D—— returned home, he found them dead, from asphyxia, in the room in which they had shut themselves up with a pan of burning charcoal. Respecting their last wish, he buried them together as they desired.”

This occurrence having been brought to the knowledge of the Spiritist Society of Paris, the following statement was made by a spirit in regard to it made the following statement:

“The two lovers who committed suicide are not yet able to reply to you. I see them; they are plunged in confusion and terrified by the perception of eternity. They will be punished, by the moral results of their fault, during successive migrations in which their souls, kept apart from each other, will seek incessantly after one another and will undergo the double torture of presentiment and disappointment. When their expiation is accomplished, but only then, they will be united in a higher mode of affection. A week hence, at your next meeting, you can evoke them. They will come, but they will not see one another. The darkness of night will hide them from each other for a long time to come.”

(Evocation of Madame D——)
1. Do you see your lover, with whom you committed suicide?

A. I see nothing. I do not even see the spirits who are wandering, like me, in the place where I am. Oh, what night! What darkness! And what a thick veil is drawn over my eyes!

2. What sensation did you feel when you wakened, after your death?
A. It was very strange! I was cold and yet I was burning; my veins were full of ice, and my forehead seemed to be on fire! Strange, unheard-of mixture! Ice and fire seeming to strive in me for mastery! I thought I was going to die a second time.

3. Do you feel any physical pain?

A. All my suffering is there, and there.

Q. What do you mean by saying “there, and there?”

A. There, in my brain, there, in my heart. If we could have seen the spirit, we should probably have seen her place her hand, first on her forehead, and, next, on her heart.

4. Do you suppose that you will always remain in the same situation?

A. Yes, always! Always! I sometimes hear infernal laughter, horrible voices that howl at me, saying, “Thus will it be with you forever!”

5. No; we can assure you that it will not be forever; by repenting, you will obtain forgiveness.

A. What did you say? I did not hear you.

6. I repeat what I said, — your sufferings will have an end that you can hasten by your repentance, and we will aid you to do this with our prayers.

A. I have heard vague sounds, but only one word, mercy. Was it of mercy that you spoke? For I heard the word “mercy;” but you were no doubt speaking to the soul that has just passed beside me; a poor child who weeps and who hopes.

A lady present remarked that she had just offered a prayer for this unhappy spirit, and that it was, no doubt, this prayer that had struck her consciousness, since she had mentally implored for her the mercy of God.

7. You say you are in the dark; do you not see us?

A. I am permitted to hear a few of the words you say; but I see nothing, except a black crape upon which, at certain times, there appears a face, weeping.

8. If you do not see your lover, do you not feel his presence near you? For he is here.

A. Ah, do not speak of him to me! I must forget him, at present, in order that the image I see on the crape might be effaced!

9. What is this image?

A. It is that of a man in pain, and whose moral progress upon the Earth I have retarded for a long time to come.
On reading the foregoing recital one is disposed, at first sight, to extenuate the fault committed by the two unfortunate lovers, and to regard it almost as a heroic action, since it was prompted by the double sentiment of love and duty. But we see that it has been judged otherwise on the other world; and that the punishment of these spirits will be long and terrible for having voluntarily sought a refuge, in death, from the struggle imposed upon them. Their determination not to fail in their duty was undoubtedly honorable and will be counted to them as such, by and by; but their true course would have been to vanquish the temptation to wrongdoing, whereas, in fact, they enacted the part of the deserter who runs away from the enemy instead of meeting him.

The punishment of these two wrongdoers will consist, as we see, in seeking each other for a long time without being allowed to meet, both in the spirit-world and in their future incarnations upon the Earth. Their punishment is rendered still more severe, for the time being, by their belief that their present state will be prolonged forever; this belief forming part of their punishment, they have not been allowed to hear the words of hope that have been addressed to them. To those who may consider this punishment as very severe and very long – especially as it is only to cease after several reincarnations – we may say that its duration is not absolute, but will depend on the way in which they bear their future trials, and that they may be aided in bearing them by the prayers of those who take an interest in their fate; like all other guilty spirits, they will be the arbiters of their own destiny. And, however painful their punishment may be, is it not better than to be damned eternally, according to the judgment of the Church, which considers them as being so irrevocably condemned to hell-fire forever, that it refused them Christian burial, no doubt, because it regarded prayer as being useless in their case?


LOUIS AND THE BOOT STITCHER (VICTORINE)

A young man, named Louis G—– a shoemaker, was on the point of marrying Victorine R—– a boot stitcher. This marriage was so fully resolved upon, by both parties, that the banns of the young couple were in course of publication, and Louis G—– as a matter of economy, took his meals, everyday, with his betrothed.

One day, however, a dispute occurred between the young people, relative to some trifling matter; they both grew quite angry, and the quarrel became so violent that Louis G—– quitted the table, and went away, vowing that he would never come back.

Next day, however, the young bookmaker returned to his betrothed, and begged her to forgive him. “Night,” says the proverb, “brings counsel;” the young woman, possibly alarmed that similar scenes should occur when it would be too late to escape them, refused to make peace with him, and broke off their engagement. The protestations, tears, and despair of the young man failed to shake her resolution to have nothing more to do with him. Several days passed; Louis G—– hoping that his sweetheart would have got over her displeasure, went again to her room. He knocked at the door in such a way as to let her know who it was; but she refused to open the door. He begged and prayed to be admitted, but she was implacable, and the door remained shut.

“Farewell, cruel girl!” he exclaimed, at length, “farewell forever! Try to find a husband who will love you as truly as I do!” Victorine, who was listening inside, heard a stifled groan, followed by a sound as of something heavy slipping against the door; then all was silent. Supposing that the young man had planted himself on the ground, at her door, to wait for her coming out, she determined to stay in until he had gone away.

A quarter of an hour had hardly elapsed, when another tenant of the house, coming down the stairs with a light in his hand, uttered a loud cry, and shouted for help. The neighbors rushed in, and Victorine R—– having opened her door, was horrified at seeing her dismissed lover stretched before her, pale and lifeless. Medical aid was sought for him without delay; but he was quite dead. The unhappy youth had plunged his awl into his heart, and the tool was sticking in the wound.

(The Spiritist Society of Paris, August 1858)

1. (To the spirit of Saint Louis.) Is the young woman, who was the involuntary cause of the death of her betrothed, responsible for the event?

A. Yes,for she did not love him.

2. Ought she, to prevent the catastrophe, to have married him, despite her repugnance for this union?

A. She was seeking an occasion for breaking off the match. She did, at the beginning of their intimacy, what she would have done later, had she married him.

3. You mean, then, that her culpability consists in having encouraged an affection that she did not share and of having thus been, unintentionally, the cause of the young man’s death?

A. Yes, that was it.

4. In that case, her responsibility must be less than it would have been if she had caused his death intentionally?

A. Evidently so.

5. Is the suicide of Louis G—– excused by the sort of insanity onto which he was thrown by the obstinacy of Victorine’s refusal to forgive him?

A. Yes, for his suicide, prompted by the violence of disappointed affection, is less criminal in the sight of God than is the suicide of him who casts away his life from a sentiment of cowardice.

The spirit of Louis G—– having been evoked subsequent meeting, the following conversation was held with him: –

1. What do you now think of your action?

A. Victorine is an ungrateful creature. It was very foolish of me to kill myself for her; she was not worth the sacrifice!

2. Did she not love you?

A. No, she fancied that she did, but she deceived herself. The scene I provoked opened her eyes, and she was glad to seize on that pretext for getting rid of me.

3. Did you really love her?

A. I was passionately in love with her; but I think that was all. If I had loved her with a pure and true affection, I should not have been willing to cause her pain.

4. If she had known that you would really kill yourself, would she have persisted in her refusal?

A. I don’t know; I think not, for she is not bad-hearted; but she would have been unhappy; it is better for her that the thing ended as it did.

5. On coming to her door, had you the intention of killing yourself if she refused to receive you?

A. No, I had no such though; I did not think she would be so obstinate. It was only when I saw her obstinacy that a sort of madness took hold of me.

6. You seem only to regret your suicide because Victorine was not worth it; is that the only feeling you have about it?

A. Just now, yes, for I am still in a state of confusion. It seems to me that I am still outside her door. But I feel something else that I cannot define.

7. Will you understand it in course of time?

A. Yes, when my mind becomes clearer...What I did was wrong...I ought to have left her in peace...I was weak, and I am suffering the consequences...Anger blinds a man and makes him do many foolish things. He understands this when it is too late!

8. You say you are suffering the consequences of your weakness; what is your suffering?

A. I did wrong in shortening my life; I ought not to have done so; I ought to have borne everything rather than put an end to it before the proper time. And, besides, I am unhappy; I suffer; and it is still she who makes me suffer; I seem to be still there, at her door; the ungrateful girl! Don’t speak of her; I don’t want to think of her; it pains me too much, Farewell.

We here behold a new proof of the distributive justice that regulates the punishment of the guilty according to the degree of his culpability. In the case we are considering, the beginning of the wrongdoing was with the young woman, who encouraged on the part of Louis G—— an affection that she did not share and with which she trifled; she will therefore bear the heaviest part of the responsibility of his fault. As for the young man, he is punished also by the sufferings he endures; but his penalty is comparatively light, because he only yielded to a sudden impulse in a moment of strong excitement, very different from the cool premeditation of those who kill themselves for the express purpose of shirking the appointed trials of their lives.


AN ATHEIST

Mr. J. B. D—— was a man of considerable learning, but imbued with materialistic ideas, and believing neither in God nor the soul. He was evoked, a couple of years after his death, by the Paris Society, at the request of one of his relatives.

1. Evocation. – A. I suffer! I am damned.

2. We have been asked to call you by relatives of yours, who wish to know your state; please tell us whether our evocation is agreeable to you or painful?

A. Painful.

3. Your death was voluntary?

A. Yes.
The spirit wrote with great difficulty; his writing was large, irregular, convulsive, and almost illegible. At first, he betrayed anger, breaking the pencil, and tearing the paper.

4. Calm yourself. We will pray to God for you.

A. I am forced to believe that God exists.

5. What motive led you to destroy yourself?

A. The utter weariness of a life without hope.

We can understand that one who is without hope should be tempted to commit suicide, which appears to offer to him, who is unhappy, an escape from misfortunes that he has no motive for continuing to bear; but Spiritism, which reveals to us a future and gives us a firm foundation of hope, not only destroys all temptation to self-destruction, but shows us that, through suicide, we only escape a minor ill to fall into trouble a hundred times more severe. For this reason, Spiritism has removed numbers of people from the road of self-destruction. Great is the guilt of those who endeavor, by scientific sophistries and shallow reasoning, to give credence to the profoundly discouraging idea, source of so much evil and of so many crimes, that everything is ended with our present life! They will be held responsible, not only for their own errors, but for all the evils of which they will have been the cause.

6. Have you desired to be liberated from the vicissitudes of life? Have you gained something from it? Are you happier now?

A. Why is it that a state of nothingness does not exist?

7. Would you be kind enough to describe your present situation to the best of your ability?

A. I suffer when I feel obliged to believe in everything that I used to deny. My soul is in pain, horribly tormented.

8. How have you arrived at the materialistic ideas that you had during your life time?

A. In another existence I had been evil and my spirit was condemned to suffer the torments of doubt, during my life, under these impulses I committed suicide. Here you have a series of ideas. Many times, we ask ourselves, how can there be materialists, since having lived in the spiritual world, they should have the intuition of this. Well, it is precisely that intuition that is denied to certain spirits who still maintain pride within and have not repented from their errors. The trials of those spirits consist in acquiring during their corporeal existence, and from their personal reasoning, proof of the existence of God and of a future life, and who incessantly have before their eyes; more frequently, the insolence of not admitting to anything that contradicts their personal ideas and their knowledge still predominates, and they suffer this sorrow until their pride is overcome and finally surrender under the evidence.

9. When you had drowned yourself, what did you suppose was going to become of you? What reflections passed through your mind at the moment?

A. None at all; I seemed to be in the midst of nothingness. Afterwards, I saw that, not having undergone the whole of my punishment; I should still have to suffer severely.

10. Are you now convinced of the existence of God, of the soul, of the future life?
A. Alas! The torments I suffer have convinced me of all that, only too surely!

11. Have you seen your brother?

A. No.

12. Why not?

A. Why should we bring our torments together? Happiness unites, but unhappiness separates, alas! share the opinions you then held; have you anything to say to them on that subject?

A. Ah! The unfortunate fellows! May they learn to believe in another life! It is the very best

thing I can possibly wish them! If they could see my sad position, it would set them thinking!

(Evocation of the brother, who had professed the same atheistic principles during his life, but who did not commit suicide. Although unhappy, he was calm; his writing was clear and legible.)

18. Evocation. – May the picture of our sufferings be a useful lesson for you, convincing you that there is another life, in which we expiate our faults and our incredulity.

19. Do you and your brother see one another?

A. No, he hides himself from me.


It may be asked how it can be possible for spirits to hide themselves from one another, as there are, in the spirit-world, no physical obstacles, no hiding-places, in which they can shut themselves off from each other’s sight. It must be remembered that everything, in the spirit-world, is in keeping with the fluidic nature of the beings by whom it is inhabited. It is only the higher spirits whose perceptions are unlimited; among spirits of lower degree, they are restricted, and fluidic obstacles produce, upon them, the same effect, as do material obstacles upon men. Spirits remove themselves from one another’s sight by an action of their will upon their perispiritual envelope and the fluids around them. But Providence, which watches over individuals, leaves, or takes from them this faculty, according to the moral qualities of each. It is for them a punishment or a reward, as the case may be.

20. You are calmer than your brother; can you give us a more precise idea of your sufferings?

A. Upon the Earth, do you not suffer in your self-love, in your pride, when you are compelled to acknowledge your mistakes? Does not your mind revolt against the idea of humiliating yourself before him who proves to you that you are in error? What, then, must be the suffering of the spirit who, having believed through an entire existence that nothing exists for us after death, finds himself brought face to face with the reality of the other life? He is overwhelmed with shame, with anxiety, and with remorse, for having so long lost sight of the existence of a Being so good, so indulgent! His state of mind is unbearable; he finds neither calm nor repose; and he only regains a little peace when the love of God has begun to touch him. For pride takes such hold of our unhappy spirit that it covers us as with a winding sheet; and it is only after a long time, and with the help of the prayers of our brothers, that we can throw off this fatal covering.

21. Do you mean your brothers of the Earth or of the spirit-world?

A. Both.

22. While we were talking with your brother, one of the persons present prayed for him; has this prayer been of use to him?

A. It will not be thrown away. If he rejects its help at present, he will have recourse to it by and by, when he is ready to profit by the mercy of the Almighty, that divine panacea.

We see, here, another kind of punishment, but which is not the same in the case of all skeptics; viz., besides the suffering he endures, the mortification of admitting truths that he denied while alive. The spirit’s present ideas show a certain amount of progress, in comparison with other spirits who persist in denying the existence of God. It is something, and a beginning of humility, to admit that one was mistaken; and it is highly probable that, in his next incarnation, the incredulity of this spirit will have given place to an innate belief in God and immortality.

The result of these two evocations having been transmitted to the person who had asked us to make them, we received from him the following reply:

“You cannot imagine how much good has been done by the evocation of my father-in-law and my uncle. We fully recognize their identity; the writing of the former is strikingly like what it was in life, especially during the last few months he spent with us, when it was jerky and illegible; the long strokes, many of the letters, and the signature, are exactly like his. The similarity of words, expressions, and style, is even more striking; for us, the authenticity of the communication is absolutely certain; the only change is his belief in God, the soul, and eternity, which he formerly denied. His brother’s identity is equally evident; there is the immense difference between the atheist and the believer, but we recognize his character, his style, and the turn of his sentences. One word, especially, has struck us most forcibly, viz., ‘panacea`; he constantly employed it, to everybody, and about everything. We are, therefore, fully convinced of the authenticity of these communications; our faith in spiritist truths will thus be strengthened, and many of our friends will be benefited by them, for I have shown them to several persons, all of whom have been greatly struck with their evident veracity. But some of our skeptical friends, who share the former opinions of my two relatives, would like to have some more categorical replies; they would like Mr. D—— for instance, to say where he drowned himself, where he is buried, etc. To satisfy and convince them, could you not evoke him again, and, if so, would you have the goodness to ask him the following question? – Where and how did you commit suicide? How long did his body remain in the water? At what place was it found? Where was it buried? And what were the circumstances of his funeral? Etc.

“I beg you to get him to reply, categorically, to these questions, essential for those who still hesitate to believe; such replies will do an immense deal of good. I write in haste, that my letter may reach you on Friday, so that you may make this evocation at the séance of the Society which will take place on that day.”

We have given this letter on account of the affirmation of identity contained in it. We add our reply, for the information of those who are not familiar with the subject of spirit-communication:

“The questions you request us to ask of the spirit of your father-in-law are dictated by a laudable desire to convince unbelievers; since we cannot see in you any manifestation of doubt or curiosity; but a fuller acquaintance with the subject of evocation would have shown you that it is not possible to obtain, from a spirit, the categorical replies you desire, unless he, himself, is willing to give them. We have no power over spirits; they reply to us if they will, as they will, and, as often as they can. Their freedom of action being greater than it was in life, they are still better able, than they then were, to elude the moral pressure we may attempt to bring to bear upon them. The best proofs of the identity of a spirit are those that he gives spontaneously, of his own accord, or which are furnished by circumstances; and it is, in general, useless to try to obtain otherwise. Your relative has proved his identity to your satisfaction; it is therefore probable that he would refuse to reply to questions which he might well regard as superfluous, and as being intended to satisfy the curiosity of people about whom he cares but little. Just as other spirits on such occasions he could respond: “Why ask me about things you already known?” The state of suffering and confusion in which he still is would naturally render him unwilling to make such an effort; it would be like trying to make a sick man think and speak, and recount the details of his life, which would certainly show a want of consideration for his position.

“As for the results you hope for, they would most likely not be obtained. The proofs of identity already furnished are of much greater value, because they were spontaneous, and because there was nothing that could have suggested them to the medium’s mind; if the skeptics you allude to are not convinced by them, they would be still less so by answers to questions decided on beforehand, and which they might regard as due to connivance. There are people whom nothing can convince; if they saw your relative, in person, with their own eyes, they would think themselves the sport of hallucination.

“As to your wish to have this evocation made the day your letter has come to hand, I must remind you that spirits do not always answer to our call. They only come when they will and can, when the medium suits them, when the place, the surroundings, and the persons present, are agreeable to them; and we can never be sure beforehand of all these conditions, which, nevertheless, are indispensable to the success of an evocation.”

MR. FELICIEN

He was rich, well educated, a poet of mark, good-tempered, obliging, courteous, and perfectly honorable. Ruined by unlucky speculations, at an age too advanced to allow of his repairing the loss of his fortune, he gave way to discouragement and committed suicide, in December 1864, by hanging himself in his bedroom. He was neither a materialist nor an atheist; but he lacked seriousness and thought little of a future life. Having known him intimately, we evoked him four months after his death, from personal sympathy.

Evocation – I regret the Earth; I had many disappointments there, but less than here. The world of spirits contains a very mixed company, and would need a good deal of sifting to render it bearable. I am in a constant state of amazement. What sketches of spirit-doings might be made here! Balzac ought to take the work in hand; it would be difficult, even for him. But I have not seen him. Where can they be, the clever minds that so strongly flagellate the vices of the human race? They ought to remain here as I am doing, before going higher. It is a curious pandemonium, which it amuses me to observe; and so I stay here.

Although the spirit confessed that he was in “a very mixed company,” consequently among inferior spirits, his language caused us some surprise, because he made no allusion to the nature of his death; and although it was a faithful reflex of his character, this omission caused us some doubt of his identity.

Q. Can you tell us what you died of?

A. What I died of? Of the kind of death I had chosen; I had meditated long enough as to the way I should take for getting rid of life. I confess I have not gained much by so doing. I have freed myself from the cares of Earth, but only to find myself tormented by others far more serious and painful in this life, and of which I cannot foresee the end.

Q. (To the Medium’s Guide) Is it really the spirit of Mr. Felicien who is replying? This careless way of talking seems very strange on the part of one who has committed suicide.

A. Yes, but from a feeling excusable in his position, he did not care to reveal the manner of his death to the medium. It was for this reason that he rattled on as he did. Pressed by your question, he ended by making the avowal; but he is much disturbed at having to do so. He suffers terribly for his regrettable folly; and he avoids, as much as he can, whatever would remind him of it.

Q. (To the spirit) We were all the more grieved by your death, because we foresaw the melancholic consequences to which it would lead, and because of our esteem and attachment for you. For myself, I have not forgotten how kind and obliging you always were to me; and I should be very glad if I could be of use to you in any way.

A. And yet I had no other way of escaping from the embarrassments of my pecuniary position! Now, I need your prayers. Pray, especially, that I may be delivered from the horrible companions who are around me, who persecute me with their laughter, their cries, and their infernal jeers. They call me a coward, and they are right; it is cowardice to quit the earthly life. This makes four times that I have succumbed to the same trial. And yet I had promised myself, so positively, that I would not succumb again...what a fatality...Ah! Pray for me, what tortures I am undergoing! How wretched I am! You will do more for me, by doing so, than I did for you when I was upon the Earth. But the trial that I have so often failed to bear rises before me as a necessity from which I cannot escape; after a certain time, I must undergo it again; shall I have the strength to bear it to the end? Ah! How sad to have to begin the earthly life so often! To struggle so long and yet to be drawn, by the course of events, into new failures, despite one’s resolutions to the contrary, it drives one to despair! It is for this that I need strength. They say that prayer gives strength; pray for me! I, too, will pray.

The case of suicide, though committed under the most common-place circumstances, presents to us, nevertheless, a special phase of that crime, for it shows us a spirit who has succumbed several times to the same temptation, which is renewed in each successive existence and will be renewed until he had acquired sufficient strength to resist it. This case is a conformation of the principle that, when we fail to accomplish the special amendment for which we were incarnated, we have suffered in vain, for we shall have to recommence the same trial until we come out victorious from the struggle.

To the spirit of Mr. Felicien – I beg of you to weigh well what I am about to say to you. What you call “fatality” is nothing else than your own weakness; there is no such thing as “fatality,” for, if there were, man would not be responsible for his actions. Man is always free, and this freedom is his noblest privilege; God has not made him a machine, acting and obeying, blindly, a foreign impulsion. This liberty, it is true, renders him fallible; but it also renders him perfectible, and it is only through the attainment of perfection that he arrives at the supreme happiness. It is his pride that leads him to attribute his earthly mishaps to destiny; for, in general, he has only his own carelessness to thank for them. You were, in your last existence, a striking proof of this fact. You then possessed everything that constitutes what the world calls good fortune; you had intelligence, talent, wealth, and general esteem; you had no ruinous vices, on the contrary, you possessed many excellent qualities; how was it, then, that your earthly position was so seriously compromised? Simply, through your want of foresight. If you had acted more prudently, if you had been content with the handsome share of worldly wealth in your possession, instead of trying to add to it unnecessarily, you would not have been ruined. There was, then, no “fatality” in your case, since you might have avoided the misfortunes that you drew upon yourself. Your trial consisted in a chain of circumstances that were intended to furnish you, not with the compulsion, but with the temptation, to suicide; unhappily for you, notwithstanding your intelligence and mental acquirements, you failed to rise superior to those circumstances, and you have now to pay the penalty of your weakness. This trial, as you foresee, correctly, will again be renewed; in your next existence, you will be exposed to the action of events that will again excite your mind the thought of suicide, and it will be thus with you until you have conquered the temptation. So far from accusing fate for what is of your own doing, you should admire the goodness of God, who, instead of condemning you eternally for a first failure, offers you, perpetually, the means of turning over a new leaf. You will continue to suffer, not eternally, but as long as you continue to yield to the temptation you have to vanquish. It rests entirely with yourself to cultivate, in the spirit-state, resolutions so energetic, repentance for past wrongdoing so sincere, and a desire for the help of higher spirits so intense, that you will return to the Earth fully armed against temptation. When once you have won the victory over your special weakness, you will advance towards happiness all the more rapidly because, in other respects, your advancement is already very considerable. It is, therefore, just a single step that you have to take; we will help you to take it with our prayers, but these will be powerless unless you second them by your own efforts.


A. Thanks, thanks for your wise exhortations! I need them greatly, for I am unhappier that I was willing to show. I promise you that I will profit by them; I will prepare myself so thoroughly for my next incarnation that I shall not fail again; for I long to escape from the base surrounding by which I am now tormented. FELICIEN


ANTHONY BELL

A bank clerk in Canada, committed suicide on February 28th, 1865
One of our correspondents, a physician (who was also an apothecary) in the same town, gave us the following information concerning him:

“I knew Bell for over twenty years. He was a man of blameless life, and the father of a numerous family. Some time back, he took it into his head that he had bought poison in my shop and had killed someone with it. He repeatedly entreated me to tell him the date of this imaginary purchase, and, never failed, on these occasions, to go off into a terrible fit of excitement. He lost his sleep, accused himself of murder, and gave himself up to despair. His family was in a continual state of anxiety from 4 p.m. when he returned home, to 9 a.m. when he went back to the Bank, where he kept his books with perfect correctness, never making the slightest error in his accounts. He frequently said that a being that he felt inside him made him keep his books with order and regularity. My assurances that he had never bought any poison in my shop would stagger him for a moment; but, when he seemed to be convinced of his error, he was sure to cry, again, ‘No, no! You want to deceive me...but I remember...and what I say is true!’”

He was evoked, in Paris, on April 17th, 1865, at the request of his friend.

1. Evocation – A. What do you want with me? To cross-question me? It is unnecessary; I am ready to confess everything.

2. We have no wish to trouble you with indiscreet questions. We only wish to know what your position in the spirit-world is, and whether we can be of use to you.

A. Ah! If you could, how thankful I should be! I have my crime in horror, and I am dreadfully unhappy!

3. Our prayers, I trust, will soften your suffering. You appear to us to be on the right road, for you repent; and repentance is the beginning of rehabilitation. God, whose mercy is infinite, always takes pity on the wrongdoer who repents. Pray with us. (Here, we say the prayer for those who have committed suicide, in “The Gospel According to Spiritism.”) Will you, now, tell us what the crime you alluded to is? That avowal, made with humility, will be counted in your favor.

A. Let me thank you, first of all, for the hope you have given me! Long ago, alas! I lived in a town whose walls are washed by the Mediterranean. I loved a beautiful girl who responded to my affection; but I was poor, and her family rejected my suit. She announced to me her approaching marriage with the son of a merchant whose trade exceeded beyond the two seas, and I was dismissed. Maddened with grief, I determined to kill myself after having glutted my vengeance by assassinating my abhorred rival. Violence, however, was repugnant to me; I shuddered at the thought of my intended crime, but my jealousy carried the day. On the evening before the marriage that was to give him my beloved, he died of poison administered by me, as an easier vengeance. Thus are explained the reminiscences that haunted me on my last life. Yes, I had lived already, and I must live again...O my God! take pity on my weakness and my tears!

4. We deplore the mistake that has delayed your advancement, and we heartily pity you; but you may be sure that, since you repent, God will have mercy on you. Please, tell us, did you carry out your intended suicide?

A. No, I confess, to my shame, hope awoke in my heart. I wished to enjoy the fruit of my crime, but my remorse betrayed me. I expiated a moment of bewilderment by the most terrible punishment, for I was hung.

5. Had you any consciousness of that wicked deed in your last existence?

A. In the last years of that life, only, as I will explain. I was well-intentioned by nature; and, after having been subjected, in the spirit-world, like all homicides, to the torture of the incessant sight of my victim, which pursued me like an embodied remorse, I was delivered from it, after many long years, by my prayers and repentance. I then began a new earthly life (my last one), and lived it peacefully and timidly. I had a vague intuition of my native weakness and of my former fault, of which I had retained a latent remembrance. But an obsessing and vindictive spirit, the father of my victim, had little difficulty in getting me under his control, and in reviving in my mind, as in a magic mirror, the remembrance of the past. Influenced, alternately, by him and by the guide who watched over me, I was now the poisoner or the father of a family earning by his labor his children’s bread. The occult action of this obsessing demon pushed me on to suicide. My guilt is great; but less than it would have been had I acted entirely of my own will. Self-killers of my class, who are too weak to resist obsessing spirits, are less guilty and less punished than those who take their own life from the sole prompting of their own will. Pray with me for the spirit who has influenced me so disastrously, that he may renounce his thirst of vengeance; and pray also for me, that I may acquire the strength and energy which will enable me to vanquish the temptation to voluntary suicide to which, I am told, I shall be subjected in my next incarnation.

6. (To the Medium’s Guide) Can an obsessing spirit really drives a man to suicide?

A. Assuredly he can; for obsession, which is, itself, a mode of trial, may assume all forms; but this is no excuse for the deed. Man has always his free-will, and he is consequently free to yield to, or to resist, the suggestions to which he is exposed; when he succumbs, he does so of his own will. The spirit, however, is right in saying that he who does wrong at the instigation of another is less reprehensible and less punished than he who does wrong of his own movement; but he is not therefore acquitted of all blame, because, if he can be turned aside from the right road, it shows that he is not yet thoroughly grounded in rectitude.

7. How is it that, notwithstanding the prayers and repentance that had delivered this spirit from the torturing sight of his victim, he was subsequently pursued by the vengeance of the obsessing spirit in his last incarnation?

A. Repentance, as you know, is only the indisputable preliminary to rehabilitation; it does not suffice to deliver the guilty from the punishment of his wrongdoing. Providence does not content itself with promises; he who repents must prove, by his acts, the thoroughness of his return to goodness; it is for this reason that the spirit is subjected to new earthly trials that fortify its good resolutions while increasing his merits if he comes out of them victorious. He is exposed to the attacks of evil spirits until the latter feel that he is strong enough to resist them; when this is the case, they let him alone, because they know that their attempts would be useless.

The two last examples show us the renewing of the same trial, in successive incarnations, so long as the spirit fails to bear up against a given temptation. Anthony Bell shows us, moreover, a fact not less instructive, viz. that of a man pursued by the remembrance of a crime committed in a former existence, as remorse and a warning. We thus see that our successive lives are part and parcel of each other; the justice and goodness of God are visibly manifested in the possibility of gradual amendment accorded to the wrongdoer, against whom the door of self-redemption is never shut. The guilty one is punished by his fault itself; and his punishment, so far from being a vengeance on the part of the Almighty, is the means employed for ensuring his progress.


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