THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM

Allan Kardec

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CHAPTER 10

BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL

Forgive others so that God may forgive you. Reconciliation with your adversaries. - The sacrifice most agreeable to God. - The mote and the beam in the eye. Do not judge others if you do not wish to be judged in return. He that is without sin, let him be the first to cast a stone. - INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS: The pardoning of offences. - Indulgence. -Is it permitted to reprehend, observe imperfections or to comment on the evil in others?



FORGIVE OTHERS SO THAT GOD MAY FORGIVE YOU


1. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew, 5: 7).

2. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew, 6: 14 & 15).

3. Moreover if they brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus said unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but until seventy times seven (Matthew, 18:15, 21 & 22).

4. Mercy is a complement to mildness, because the person who is not merciful cannot be mild and pacific. Mercy consists of being able to forget and forgive all offence. Hate and rancour denotes a Spirit without any elevation or magnanimity. Being able to forget offences is the mark of an elevated soul, which does not perturb itself with the blows it may be dealt. The one is always anxious, of a dark susceptibility and full of bitterness; while the other is calm, full of sweetness and charity.

Woe to those who say they will never forgive! If these people are not already condemned by mankind, then God will surely condemn them. What right has a person to demand forgiveness for their own faults if they are unable to forgive those of others? Does not Jesus teach that mercy must have no limits when He says that each one must forgive their brothers and sisters not merely seven times, but seventy times seven?

However, there are two very different ways of forgiving: the first is noble and great, truly generous without any hidden thoughts, which delicately avoids hurting the self-esteem and susceptibility of the adversary, even when that same adversary has no justification for his or her acts. The second, on the other hand, is when someone who has been offended, or thinks they have been offended, imposes humiliating conditions on the supposed adversary, making felt the weight of the pardon, which can only cause further irritation instead of calming; where, upon offering a hand to the offended, this is not done with benevolence, but rather with ostentation, so that the person may say to others - look how generous I am! In these circumstances a sincere reconciliation is quite impossible for either one. No, here there is no generosity, only a form of satisfying pride. In every dispute the one who shows him or herself to be more conciliatory, who demonstrates more disinterest, charity and real greatness of soul will always attract sympathy from those who are impartial.


RECONCILIATION WITH YOUR ADVERSARIES


5. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing (Matthew, 5:25 & 26).

6. In the act of pardon, as in general practice of good, there is not only a moral effect but also a material effect. As is already known, death does not liberate us from our enemies; vengeful Spirits in the after life frequently pursue with great hate all those for whom they bear rancour. From this we understand the falsity of the proverb: The poison dies with the beast, when it is applied to mankind.

The evil Spirit waits for the other whom he does not like to return to a physical body, where he or she is partially captive, in order to more easily torment, hurt interests or harm affections. The cause of the majority of cases of obsession lies within this fact, especially those cases which present some gravity, such as subjugations and possession. The person who is either obsessed or possessed is almost always a victim of vengeance. The motive will be found in their past lives, in which the one who is suffering gave cause for this result. God allows this to happen in order to punish the evil which was originally committed or, if this is not the case, for the lack of indulgence and charity through the refusal to grant a pardon. Consequently, from the point of view of future tranquility, it is important that each person makes amends for all grievances which may have been caused to neighbours as soon as possible.

Before death reaches us, it is necessary that we pardon all our enemies, thereby eradicating all motives for dissension, as well as all causes for ulterior animosity. In this manner it is quite possible to make a friend in the next world out of an enemy in this world. At least all those who proceed in this manner put themselves on the right side of the Law. God will not consent to anyone who has pardoned being made to suffer from vengeance.

When Jesus recommends that we should reconcile ourselves with our adversaries as soon as possible, this is not merely with the object of pacifying any discords during the actual existence, but principally to avoid their perpetuation into the future life. Jesus said: " No one can leave this prison until the last cent of their debt has been paid," that is to say, not until God's justice has been completely satisfied.


THE SACRIFICE MOST AGREEABLE TO GOD


7. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift (Matthew, 5: 23 & 24).

8. With the words "First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift," Jesus teaches that what is most agreeable to God is the sacrifice of our resentments and that before Man asks for pardon he should first have pardoned others and made good any damage caused to his fellow beings. Only then will the offerings be acceptable to God because they will come from a heart expunged of all evil thoughts. Jesus explains this in the material sense of offering gifts because the Jews of those days offered sacrifices, so it was necessary that His words conform to the customs of the time. The true Christian however, does not offer material gifts to God, since all sacrifice has been spiritualism, and with this the precept has gained even more strength. He offers his soul to God and his soul has to be purified. Thus, upon entering the temple of God, Man should leave all feelings of hate and animosity outside, including evil thoughts against his fellow men.

Only in this manner will the angels take his prayers and place them at the Feet of the eternal Father. This is what Jesus was teaching when He said: "Leave then thy gift before the altar and go first and be reconciled with thy brother if you wish to be agreeable to the Lord."

THE MOTE AND THE BEAM IN THE EYE

9. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye (Matthew, 7: 3-5).

10. One of the follies of humanity consists in seeing wrong-doing and evil in others before seeing it in ourselves. In order to be able to judge ourselves, it is first necessary that we see ourselves intimately reflected, as in a mirror. To be permitted, as it were, to look at oneself from the outside, as if we were someone else, so that we can ask ourselves what we would think if we saw someone doing what we do. Beyond all doubt pride is what induces us to disguise all our faults, both moral and physical, even from ourselves. Such folly is essentially against charity seeing that true charity is always modest, unadorned and indulgent. Prideful charity is a contradiction, as these two sentiments neutralize one another. With effect, how can someone who is sufficiently conceited as to believe in the importance of their own personality and the supremacy of their own qualities, at the same time possess abnegation? That is to say sufficient abnegation so as to be able to cause the goodness in others to stand out, knowing that this would eclipse them: instead of extolling the evil which only casts false glory upon themself. Pride, being the father of many vices, is also the negation of many virtues. It is found to be the motive and base for almost all human actions. Therefore, it was because pride is the principle obstacle to progress, that Jesus tried so hard to combat it.


DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE JUDGED IN RETURN. HE THAT IS WITHOUT SIN, LET HIM BE THE FIRST TO CAST A STONE


11. Judge not; that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you again (Matthew, 7:1 & 2).

12. And the scribes and the Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst; they say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such should be stoned; but what sayest Thou? This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His fingers wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself and said unto them, he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it being convicted by their own consciences, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest; even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst When Jesus had lifted up Himself and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more (John, 8: 3-11).

13. With the sentence: "He that is without sin amongst you, let him cast the first stone," Jesus makes indulgence the first duty towards others because there is no one who does not need it for themself. He also teaches that we must never judge others with more severity than we would wish to be judged, nor condemn in others that which we condone in ourselves. Before chastising someone for a fault, first let us see if that same censure could be applied to ourself.



Reproach may be launched against a person for two reasons: to suppress evil or to discredit the person whose acts are criticised. In this last intention there is absolutely no excuse, because here exists only malice and slander. The first may be laudable and even becomes a duty in certain cases as good may come of it, and without it the evil in society would never be restrained. Furthermore, is it not the duty of all mankind to help every fellow creature towards progress? Therefore it is important that the principle 'Do not judge others if you have no wish to be judged,' should not be taken literally as this could be destructive, whereas the spirit of these words gives life to the concept.

It is not possible that Jesus could have prohibited the overthrowing of evil, seeing that He gives examples of having done just that Himself, in no uncertain terms. What He wished to say was that the right to censure is to be found in the moral authority of he who censures. To become guilty of that which one is condemning in another person is to renounce this authority, so depriving oneself of the right to restrain.

Furthermore, our inner conscience denies respect and voluntary submission to any person who, having been invested with some kind of authority, violates the laws and principles of which they were put in charge. There is no legitimate authority in the eyes of God but that which is based on the examples of goodness it offers. Likewise, this is what is emphasized by the words of Jesus.


INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS

THE PARDONING OF OFFENCES


14. How many times must I forgive my brothers and sisters? Not just seven times, but seventy times seven. Here we have the teaching of Jesus which should most strike the intelligence, and speak most loudly to our hearts. If these words of mercy are compared with the prayer He taught to His disciples, that prayer so simple, so concise, yet so great in its aspirations, you will always encounter the same thought. Jesus, the pre-eminently just One, replies to Peter with these words: "You must forgive without limit; you must forgive each offence as many times as it is done to you; your brothers and sisters on Earth must be taught that it is forgetfulness of self which makes a person invulnerable to attack, misbehaviours and insults; your heart must be mild and humble without measuring out your gentleness; in short, you must do whatever you wish the Celestial Father to do for you. Is He not frequently forgiving you? Have you by any chance counted how many times His pardon has come down to erase your shortcomings?"

So pay attention to the reply given by Jesus, and like Peter apply it to yourself. Forgive freely, use your indulgence, be charitable and generous, even be lavish with your love. Give and the Lord will make restitution; forgive and the Lord will forgive you; lower yourselves and the Lord will raise you up; humble yourselves and the Lord will take you to sit on His right hand.


Dearly beloved, go forth to study and comment on these words which I have spoken on the part of He, Who, from the heights of celestial splendor is always watching over you. Proceed lovingly in the thankless task which began eighteen centuries ago. Forgive your fellow men as you would wish that they forgive you. If their acts cause you personal harm, then this is just one more motive for your indulgence, since the merit of forgiveness is in proportion to the seriousness of the wrongdoing. You will gain no merit by overlooking the errors of your fellow men if they are nothing more than simple scratches.

Spiritists, never forget that the pardoning of wrongdoing must not be an empty expression, be it either by word or by action. Since you call yourselves Spiritists, then be so with all fervour. Forget all evil that has been done to you and think of nothing save one thing: the good that you can do. Those who follow this path must not stray from it even in thought, which is known to God, seeing that each one is responsible for their thoughts. Take care therefore, to expunge from yourselves all rancorous sentiments. What remains at the bottom of the hearts of each one of His children is known to God. So happy is he who can sleep at night saying: I have nothing against my neighbour. - SIMON (Bordeaux, 1862).

15. To forgive one's enemies is to ask for forgiveness for oneself. To forgive one 5 friends is to give them proof of your friendship. To be able to forgive offences is to show yourself better than you were. So then, my friends, forgive others in order that God may forgive you, since if you are hard, demanding, inflexible, or if you use severity even against a small offence, how can you expect God to forget that each day you have even greater necessity of indulgence? Oh! Woe to those who say: "I will never forgive," for they pronounce their own condemnation! Moreover, if you searched deeper down inside, perhaps you would find that it is yourself who is the aggressor. In the fight which began as a pinprick and ended in rupture, who knows if the first blow was not cast by you, being the one who let escape harsh words of offence, or perhaps you did not proceed with all the necessary moderation? Without doubt your adversary behaved badly by showing himself to be exceedingly susceptible, but this is yet another reason for being indulgent, so as not to allow yourself to become deserving of the tirade which was launched against you. Let us admit, for the moment, that in a given circumstance you were really offended; who is able to tell if you would not further poison the matter by means of reprisals, or that you would not cause the situation to degenerate into a grave quarrel, when in actual fact the whole matter could easily be forgotten? If the prevention of the consequences of this fact depended on you, and you did nothing to impede them, then you are truly guilty. Finally, let us admit that you do not consider yourself to be deserving of any censure; in this case your merit would be even greater if you showed yourself to be clement.

Nevertheless, there are two very different ways of forgiving, the one being of the lips and the other of the heart. Many people say to their adversary "I forgive you" while inwardly rejoicing at the evil that has returned to them, commenting that he or she has only received what they deserved. How many others say "I forgive you," hastening to add "But I will never be reconciled nor do I ever want to see you again in this life!" Is this then forgiveness according to the Gospel? Surely not! True Christian forgiveness is that which casts a veil over the past and seeing that God is not satisfied with appearances alone, this can be the only kind of forgiveness to be taken into consideration. He listens to the innermost recesses of our hearts, to our most secret thoughts and is never satisfied with mere words or pretence. Complete and absolute forgiveness of all offences is peculiar to great souls, whereas rancour is always a sign of baseness and inferiority. So then, do not forget that true pardon is recognisable for its acts, rather than by the use of mere words. - PAUL, the Apostle (Leon, 1861).


INDULGENCE


16. Spiritists, today we wish to speak of indulgence, that sweet fraternal sentiment which everyone should harbour towards their fellow creatures, but which in fact is so little used. Indulgence does not see the defects of others, or if it does, it avoids speaking of them or divulging them. On the contrary, it seeks to hide them with the object of becoming the sole possessor of this knowledge, and if malevolence discovers it, then indulgence will always have a ready and plausible excuse. However, we do not mean those excuses which only have the appearance of lessening the failing, while in actual fact making it more evident, with perfidious intention.

Indulgence will never occupy itself with the evil actions of others, unless it is to offer help. But even in this case it will take care to lessen the fault as much as possible. It will never make shocking observations, nor offer censure, but only advise and even then usually in a veiled manner.

When you criticise, what consequences should be deduced from your words? That the one who censures be not guilty of that which is being reproved, so that they may be worth more than the culprit Humanity! When will you judge first your own hearts, thoughts and actions, without occupying yourselves with what your brothers and sisters are doing? When will you have stern eyes only for yourselves?

So then, be severe with yourselves, but indulgent to others. Remind yourself of He Who judges in the last instant, Who sees the innermost movements of each heart, consequently forgiving many times the failings which you censure and often condemning that which you condone because He knows the motive behind all action. Remember also that those who clamour in loud voices for others to be excommunicated, have perhaps themselves committed those very same faults, if not even greater ones.

Therefore my friends, always be indulgent seeing that indulgence attracts the like, calms and uplifts; whereas inclemency only disanimates, drives away all calm and causes irritation. - JOSEPH, a Protecting Spirit (Bordeaux, 1863).


17. Be indulgent with regard to the faults of others whatever these may be. Do not judge with severity any actions but your own. Then the Lord will be indulgent towards you according to the manner in which you have shown it to others.

Uphold the strong, so stimulating them to perseverance. Strengthen the weak by showing them the goodness of God, Who takes into consideration even the smallest degree of repentance. Show to all the Angel of Penitence, stretching out her white wings over the shortcomings of humanity, veiling them from the eyes of He who cannot tolerate that which is impure. Let all understand the infinite mercy of the Father, never forgetting to say to Him, through thought, and above all through actions: "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." Understand well the meaning of these sublime words, wherein not only is the literal sense admirable, but most of all the teachings enclosed therein.

What is it you ask the Lord for when you implore His pardon? Is it only the oblivion of your offences? An oblivion which would leave you with nothing, if God limited Himself to merely forgetting your shortcomings. It is true that He would not punish, but neither would He offer compensation. A recompense cannot be offered for the good which has not been done, nor even less for the evil which has been done, although this evil may have been forgotten. When you ask God to pardon your transgressions, you are asking for the favour of His grace not to fall into relapse, together with the necessary strength so as to be able to turn into other pathways, like those of submission and love, which should then be joined to those of repentance and reparation.

When you forgive a fellow creature do not be content merely to extend a veil of oblivion across the failings, seeing that in most cases this veil is quite transparent in your eyes. Instead, simultaneously sweep away the failings with forgiveness and love. Do for all your brothers and sisters what you would have the Celestial Father do for you. That is to say, substitute anger which only defiles, with love which purifies. Preach as Jesus taught, by exemplifying active and ceaseless charity. Preach as He did during all the time He remained visible to physical eyes on this planet. Preach as He continues to do unceasingly since He became visible only to the eyes of spirit. Follow this divine Example! Walk in His footsteps, for they will conduct you to a refuge offering rest after the fight. Carry all of your crosses as He did, painfully but with courage, and go up to your Calvary upon whose peak you will find glorification. - JOHN, Bishop of Bordeaux (1862).

18. Dear friends, be severe with yourselves, but ever indulgent with the weaknesses of others. This is the practice of saintly charity; alas, observed by so few! All have evil tendencies to be overcome, defects to correct and bad habits to modify. Everyone has a burden, more or less heavy, which must be got rid of in order to be able to ascend to the summit of the mountain called Progress. Why then have you shown yourself to be so clairvoyant with regard to your neighbour and yet so blind with regard to yourself?


When will you cease to see the small mote which troubles your brother's eye and instead, pay attention to the beam in your own eye, which is blinding you and causing you to go from one fall to another'? Believe what your spiritual brothers are telling you! Every man or woman sufficiently full of pride as to judge themself superior in matters of virtue and merit to their incarnate brothers and sisters, is both foolish and guilty and will therefore suffer castigation by God on their day of judgement. The true character of charity is always modesty and humility, which consists in not seeing the superficial defects of others, but rather in striving to cause their goodness and virtues to predominate. Although the human heart is an abyss of corruption, there too is always the embryo of good sentiments, which are in fact the living sparks of the spiritual essence, hidden away in its innermost folds.

Spiritism! Oh! Blessed doctrine of consolation! Happy are those who know it and take profit from the edifying teachings coming from the Spirits of the Lord! For them the pathway is illuminated and along their way they are able to read these words which will indicate how it is possible to reach the end of their journey. This can only be done by putting charity into practice, meaning charity from the heart, charity to your neighbour and to yourself. In short, charity towards every living creature and above all, love for God, because this summarizes all of mankind's obligations, thus making it impossible to really love God without practising charity, and so He has made it the Law for all creatures. - DUFÊTRE, Bishop of Nevers (Bordeaux).

19. As no one is perfect; does it follow that no one has the right to reprehend their neighbour?

This is certainly not the right conclusion to arrive at, seeing that each one of you must work for the progress of everyone, and above all, especially for those who have been placed in your care. But for this very reason it should be done in moderation in order to obtain a useful end and not, as is so often the case, for the mere pleasure of reviling. In this event the reprehension would be wickedness, whereas in the previous instant it is a duty demanded by charity, which must be accomplished with all possible care. For the rest, the censure that is made of others should also be directed at oneself, so trying to find out if you too are not deserving of the same reprimand. - SAINT LOUIS (Paris, 1860).

20. Is it reprehensible to make note of the imperfections of others when this cannot result in any benefit for them, seeing that it will not be disclosed to them?

Everything depends on the intention. For sure it is not forbidden to see evil where it exists. It would also be really inconvenient to see only good in all places. This illusion would prejudice progress. The mistake would be in making the observation result in the detriment of your neighbour, so discrediting him before general opinion without need. It would be equally reprehensible to do this simply in order to give vent to a sentiment of spite and the satisfaction of catching others at fault. However, the complete opposite occurs when, on extending a veil over an evil so that the public do not see it, the person who noted the defect in his neighbour does this for his own personal gain. That is to say, in order that he or she may discipline themself to avoid what has been reproved in another. Incidentally this observation is of benefit to the moralist. How else can human defects be painted if the models are not first studied? - SAINT LOUIS (Paris, 1860).

21. Are there cases when it is right to disclose the evil in others?

This is a very delicate question. In order to be able to reach a conclusion it is necessary to appeal to the true understanding of charity. If a person's imperfections only cause prejudice to themself then there can be nothing useful in disclosing these facts. If however it might cause harm to others, then it is preferable to attend to the interests of the majority. According to the circumstances, it may become a duty to expose hypocrisy and lies because it is better that one person fall rather than many become his or her victims. In this case it is necessary to weigh the total sum of the advantages and disadvantages. - SAINT LOUIS (Paris, 1860).


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