Allan Kardec

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14. We have said, and with truth, that the Hell of the Christians is more hideous than that of the Pagans. In Tartarus, we see the souls of the guilty, tortured by remorse, perpetually confronted with their crimes and their victims; we see them fleeing from the light which transpierces them, and seeking in vain to hide themselves from the sight of those whose glance follows them wherever they go. Their pride is abased and mortified; each of them bears the stigma of his past; each is punished by the recoil of his own evil deeds, and so certainly that for a great number of them, it is judged to be quite enough to leave them to themselves, without adding any other chastisements. But they are shades, that is to say, souls clothed with their fluidic bodies only, images of their terrestrial existence; we do not see, in the Pagan Hell, men re-clothed with their fleshly body, in order that they may be harrowed with the additional misery of physical suffering, nor any material fire “penetrating under their skin and saturating them with physical agony to the very marrow of their bones,” nor the lavish variety and ingenious refinements of the tortures that constitute the basis of the Christian Hell. We find, in Tartarus, judges who are inflexible but just, and who apportion the severity of the punishment to the degree of the faultiness for which it is inflicted; whereas, in the empire of Satan, all are subjected to the same tortures, and all these tortures are based on physical suffering; everything else is banished, including equity.

Undoubtedly there are, at the present day, and even in the churches themselves, many sensible men who do not accept these descriptions of Hell as literally true, and who regard them as being only allegories which are to be interpreted in a spiritual sense; but the opinion of such persons is merely individual, and is not the rule. The belief in a physical Hell, with all the consequences implied in that belief, is nonetheless, even at the present day, an article of the Christian creed.

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