20. According to the Spiritist doctrine, neither “angels” nor “devils” are beings apart from the rest of the creation; all the intelligent beings of the universe are of one and the same nature. United to material bodies, they constitute the human race which populates the Earth and other inhabited worlds of the universe; freed from those bodies, they constitute the spirit-world, or the spirits who people space. God has created them perfectible; God has given them an aim, viz., the attainment of perfection and of the happiness that is the consequence of perfection; but God has not given them perfection; God has willed that they should owe it to their own personal efforts, so that they might have all the merit of its acquisition. From the first moment of their creation, they progress incessantly, either in the state of incarnation or in the life of the spirit-world; once arrived at the culminating point of their purification they become pure spirits, or angels, according to the common expression; so that, from the embryo of the intelligent being to the angel, there is an uninterrupted chain, each link of which marks a degree in the scale of progress.
It follows, therefore, that there are spirits at every degree of moral and intellectual advancement, according as they are at the top, the bottom, or the middle, of the ladder; and that, consequently, there are, among them, spirits of every degree of knowledge and ignorance, of goodness and of badness. In the lower ranks of spirits there are some who are still deeply imbued with the love of evil and who take pleasure in doing wrong; spirits who may perfectly well be called demons, for they are capable of all the misdeeds attributed to the latter. If Spiritism abstains from giving them that name, it is because the world has attached to it the idea of beings distinct from the human race, of a nature essentially bad, doomed to evil for all eternity, and incapable of progressing in goodness.
21. According to the doctrine of the Church, the demons were created good, and have become bad through their disobedience are “fallen angels;” they were placed by God at the top of the ladder, and they have fallen from that elevation. According to Spiritism, they are imperfect spirits who will grow better in the course of time; they are still at the foot of the ladder, but they will reach the top sooner or later.
Those who, through their carelessness, their obstinacy, or their perversity, remain longer in the lower ranks, incur the penalty of their persistence in evil, for the habit of wrong- doing renders their return to goodness all the more difficult; but there comes a time when they grow weary of the misery of such an existence and of the suffering which is its consequence; they begin to compare their own existence with that of the good spirits, they understand that it is in their own interest to return to the path of rectitude, and they endeavor to become better; but they do this of their own free will, and without being constrained to do so. They are placed under the law of progress by the fact of their being capable of progressing, but they are not compelled to progress in spite of themselves. God furnishes them unceasingly with the means of progressing; but they are free to use or not use the means thus furnished. If progress were obligatory, there would be no merit in progressing, and God wills that each should have the merit of his or her actions; God does not place any one of them on the front rank as a matter of privilege, but that highest rank is open to all, and no one reaches it otherwise than through his or her own efforts. The highest angels have won their grade, like all others, and have traveled up to their present elevation by the same road.
22. Spirits, when they have reached a certain degree of purification, are entrusted with missions proportioned to their advancement; they fulfill all those that have been attributed to angels of different orders. God having created from all eternity, it follows that there have been, from all eternity, spirits competent to the discharge of all the duties involved in the government of the universe. A single species of intelligent beings, all alike submitted to the law of progress, suffices to produce the infinite variety of attainment, aptitude, and usefulness. This unity of the creation – in virtue of which all beings have the same starting-point, follow the same road, and raise themselves to higher and higher elevations as the result of their own merits – is far more in accordance with the justice of God than the creation of different species of beings, more or less favored in the way of natural gifts, which would, practically speaking, be the creation of so many privileges.
23. The common doctrine concerning the nature of angels, demons, and the human soul, not admitting the existence of the law of progress, and observation having shown the existence of beings at different degrees of elevation, human beings have been led to conclude that these differences were the product of so many different creations. This view of the subject portrays God as an unjust and partial father, bestowing all his favors on some of his children, while imposing the hardest labors and privations on the others. It is not strange that during a long period the human race should have seen nothing objectionable in these assumed preferences, for they were guilty of the same injustice through their enforcement of the laws of entitlement and the various privileges accorded to so-called noble birth; could they believe they were capable of committing more errors than God? But, at the present day, the circle of ideas has become wider; human beings see more clearly; they have sounder notions of justice, they demand it for themselves, and, although they do not always find it upon the Earth, they hope, at least, to obtain it in Heaven; and, consequently, any doctrine, which does not show the Divine Justice in all its resplendent purity, is rejected by the human mind as repugnant to both conscience and reason.