A spirit who presented himself spontaneously, to the medium, accustomed to manifestations of this nature on the part of inferior spirits brought to him, by his Guide, for his own instruction and for their amendment.
Q. Who are you? Is this name that of a man or a woman?
A. Of a man, and one who is utterly miserable. I am undergoing all the torments of hell.
Q. Hell does not exist. How, then, can you be undergoing its torments?
A. A useless question.
Q. If I understand what you mean, an explanation of your words may be useful for others.
A. I don’t care for them.
Q. Is not selfishness among the causes of your suffering?
Q. If you wish to be relieved from your misery, you must begin by getting rid of your evil tendencies.
A. Don’t trouble yourself about them; they are no business of yours. Begin by praying for me, as you do for the others; we will see about the rest, by and by.
Q. If you do not help me by your repentance, prayer will avail you very little.
A. If you talk instead of praying, you will not do much towards helping me to advance.
Q. Do your really wish to advance?
A. Perhaps I do; I don’t know. Let me see whether prayer relieves suffering; that’s the essential thing.
Q. Well, then, join your mental action to mine, with the firm determination to obtain relief.
(After a prayer by the Medium.)
– Q. Are you satisfied?
A. Not as I wish to be.
Q. A remedy, when first employed, cannot cure a disease of long standing.
A. Maybe so.
Q. Would you like to come again?
A. Y es, if you call me.
The Medium’s Guide. – You will have a good deal of trouble with this hardened spirit; but there would not be much glory in saving those who are not lost. Courage! Persevere, and you will succeed. There are none so bad that they cannot be brought back into the right road by persuasion and example; for the most perverse must necessarily end by amending in course of time: if you do not succeed, at once, in bringing them back to better sentiments, which is often impossible, the labor you have bestowed on them is never lost. The ideas you have suggested to them stir their minds and make them reflect, in spite of themselves; they are seeds that will grow and fructify, sooner or later. A rock is not broken down by the first stroke of the pickaxe.
And what I have just said is equally true of spirits incarnate, and explains how it is that Spiritism, even among its firmest believers, does not always make people perfect all at once. Belief is the first step; the application of that belief comes next, and the transformation of character follows in its turn: but, in many cases, this transformation will only be accomplished, even by believers, after a new return into the spirit-world.
Among obdurate spirits, all are not entirely perverted and actively wicked. A great many of them, without trying to do much harm, lag behind through pride, indifference, or apathy. They are nonetheless unhappy, for they suffer all the more from their inertia because they have not the interests of the earthly life. The prospect of infinity renders their position intolerable, and yet they have neither the strength, nor the will, to change it. It is the spirits of this class who, when incarnated, lead idle and aimless lives, useless alike to themselves and to others, and who often end by committing suicide, without any serious motive, and simply from weariness and disgust of life.
Spirits of this character are usually more difficult to bring back to the path of progress than those who are decidedly and actively bad, because these latter, at least, possess energy, and, when once they have been made to see the truth, they are as ardent in the pursuit of goodness as they have been in the service of evil. Inactive spirits will doubtless need a good many existences before they can accomplish any marked amount of progress; but, little by little, vanquished by weariness, as others are vanquished by suffering, they will seek for sources of interest in active occupation which, in course of time, will become for them a necessity.