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).
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).