21. The dogma of eternal punishment is therefore irreconcilable with the doctrine of the progress of the soul, to which it would constitute an insuperable obstacle. These two doctrines mutually annihilate each other; if either one of them be true, the other must necessarily be a fiction. Which of them is the true one? That progress is a law of nature, divine, incontrovertible, and not a mere theory, is evident; for progress is a fact, the reality of which is attested by experience; and since, on the one hand, progress exists, while, on the other hand, its existence is irreconcilable with the dogma of eternal punishment, we are compelled to admit that this dogma is false, and that eternal punishment has no existence. Moreover, the utter absurdity of such a dogma becomes at once apparent when we reflect that Saint Paul, Saint Augustine, and half the saints of the ecclesiastical calendar, would never, if that dogma were true, have been admitted into “heaven,” if they had happened to die before the occurrence of the various incidents which led to their conversion!
To this last remark it will be replied by some that the conversion of those saintly personages was a result, not of any progress due to the spontaneous action of their soul, but of divine “grace,” accorded to them from on high, and by which their conscience was miraculously touched.
But such a reply is a mere trifling with words. If they began by doing wrong, and, afterwards, took to doing right, their change of action shows that they had become better, in other words, that they had progressed. Why should such a favor have been granted to them and not granted to everyone else? Why should we attribute to God a favoritism incompatible with God’s justice, and with the equal love, which, being just, God necessarily bears to all God’s creatures?
Spiritism, in accordance with the express teachings of the Gospel, with reason, and with justice, shows us that each soul is the artisan of its fortunes, both during life and after death; that it owes its progress and happiness to its own efforts, and not to any favoritism; that God rewards its endeavors to advance in the path of progress, and chastises its negligence as long as it continues to be negligent.