GENESIS THE MIRACLES AND THE PREDICTIONS ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM

Allan Kardec

Back to the menu
CHAPTER I

CHARACTER OF THE SPIRITIST DOCTRINE


1. Can one consider Spiritism as a revelation? If it be such, what is its character? Upon what is its authenticity founded? By whom, and in what manner has it been given? Is the doctrine of Spiritism a revelation in the liturgical sense of the word? That is to say, is it in all points the product of occult teaching from on high? Is it absolute or capable of mystifications? In conveying to men perfect truth, would not revelation have the effect of hindering them from employing their faculties, since it would save them the work of research? What can be the authority of the teachings of the spirit if they are not infallible, and superior to those of humanity? What is the utility of the morality that they preach if this is other than that of the Christ whom men acknowledge? What are the new truths that they bring to us? Has man need of a revelation and can he find himself and in his conscience all that is necessary to lead him aright? These are the questions which are important for us to focus.

2. Let us define at first the sense of the word. “Revelation,” to reveal, derived from the word “veil,” from the Latin velum, signifies literally to take away the veil, and, figuratively, to uncover, to make the acquaintance of a secret or unknown fact. In its most general sense it is employed with reference to every unknown thing which is brought to light, to every new idea which is given to man.

Indeed, all the sciences which have revealed the mysteries of nature are revelations; and one can well say that there is for us a constant revelation. Astronomy has revealed to us the astral universe of which we were ignorant; geology, the formation of the Earth; chemistry, the law of affinities; physiology, the functions of the organism, etc. Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Laplace, and Lavoisier are revealers.

3. The essential character of all revelation must be truth. To reveal a secret is to make known a fact. If the thing is false, it is not a fact, and consequently not a revelation. All so- called revelation contradicted by facts is not revelation even if attributed to God. He not being able to tell an untruth or to deceive, we know it cannot emanate from him. It is necessary to consider it as merely a human conception.

4. What is the attitude of the professor to his pupils if it is not that of a revealer? He teaches them that which they do not know, that which they would have neither the time nor the possibility to discover for themselves, because science is the collective work of centuries, and of a multitude of men who have each contributed the results of their observations, by which those who come after them profit. Teaching is, then, in reality the revelation of certain scientific or moral, physical or metaphysical truths given by men who know them, to others who know them not, and who, without their aid would have remained ignorant of them.

5. But the professor teaches that which he has learned; he is a revealer of the second order. The man of genius teaches that which he has found for himself; he is the primitive revealer; he carries the light which from one place to another, makes itself known. Where would be humanity without the revelations from men of genius who appear from time to time?

But what are men of genius? Why are they men of genius? Whence do they come? What becomes of them? Let us observe that the greater part of them is born with transcendent faculties, and innate knowledge that a little work suffices to develop. They belong really to humanity since they are born, live and die like mortals. Where, then, have they obtained this knowledge which comes so mysteriously to them? Will one say with the materialist that chance has given to them cerebral matter in greater quantity and better quality? In this case they would have no more merit than one vegetable greater and more savory than another.

Will one say that God awarded spiritists with a more favored soul or mind than those of common men? – A supposition also entirely illogical, since it accuses God of partiality. The only rational solution of this problem is in the pre-existence of soul, and in a plurality of existences. The man of genius is a spirit which has lived a longer time, who has consequently acquired more and progressed more, than those who are less advanced. In becoming incarnate he brings to Earth what he knows; and, as he is much wiser than others without the necessity of learning, he is that which one calls a man of genius. But that which he knows is the fruit of an anterior work, and not the result of divine preference. Before entering anew into Earth-life, he has an advanced spirit. He is reincarnated; it may be for the purpose of benefiting others, or possibly for the opportunity of acquiring more knowledge himself.

Men progress incontestably by themselves by means of their intelligence; but, left to their own forces, progress is very slow, if they are not aided by more advanced minds, as the scholar is by his professors. All nations have among them men of genius who appeared at diverse epochs to impel and draw men from their inertia.

6. If we admit the solicitude of God for his creatures, why should we not also admit that the spirits are capable, by their energy and superior knowledge, to assist humanity to advance; that they are reincarnated at the desire of God, with the view of aiding progress in a definite manner; that they receive a mission as an ambassador receives one from his sovereign? Such is the role of the great geniuses. What come they to do, if not to teach to men truths of which they are ignorant, and of which they would not acquire the knowledge during still longer periods of time, had they not come to give the stepping-stone by which men are enabled to elevate themselves more rapidly? These geniuses who appear at different epochs like brilliant stars, leaving after them a long, luminous track for humanity, are missionaries, - or, better, Messiahs. The new facts they bring to light, be they of a physical or philosophical order, are revelations.

If God ordains revealers of scientific truths, he can, for a stronger reason, create them for moral truths, which are an essential element of progress, such as the philosophers whose ideas have lived through the ages.

7. In the special sense of religious faith, revelation informs us more particularly of spiritual facts which man cannot know of himself, that he cannot discover by means of his senses, and of which the knowledge is given him by God or by his messengers in direct word or by inspiration. In this case revelation is always made to favored men, designated under the names of prophets or Messiahs; viz., ambassadors, - missionaries having a mission to transmit truths to men. Considered from this point of view, revelation implies absolute passivity. One accepts it without examination, without discussion.

8. All religions have their revealers; and, although all are far from having known the whole truth, they sustained their claim for being providential. They were appropriate to the time and place where they lived, to the particular genius of the people to whom they spoke, and to whom they were relatively superior. Notwithstanding the errors of their doctrines, they have at least awakened minds. By so doing they have sown seeds or germs of progress, which later unfolded, or will yet blossom into the brighter light of Christianity. It is then wrong to anathematize the name of orthodoxy; for the day will come when all beliefs, however diverse in form, but which in reality repose upon the same fundamental principles, God and the immortality of the soul, will form themselves into a grand and vast unity, when reason shall have triumphed over prejudice.

Unhappily, religious systems through all time have been instruments of domination. The role of prophet has tempted the ambitious among those in subordinate positions. A multitude of pretended revealers, or Messiahs, who, by reason of the prestige of this name, have taken advantage of credulity to satisfy their pride, their cupidity, or their indolence, finding it easier to live at the expense of their dupes than in any other way. Christian religion has been a shelter for these parasites. In this subject let us call serious attention to Chap. XXI of “The Gospel According to Spiritism,” “There will be false Christs and false prophets.”

9. Are these direct revelations from God to men? This is a question which we dare not settle either affirmatively or negatively in an absolute manner. The thing is not radically impossible; but nothing gives certain proof of it. That which need not be doubted is that the spirits nearest God in perfection enter into his thoughts, and can transmit them. As to incarnated revealers, according to the hierarchical order to which they belong and to the degree of their personal knowledge, they can draw their instructions from their own knowledge, or receive them from spirits more elevated, from messengers ordained of God. The former, speaking in the name of God, have been taken for God himself.

These kinds of communications are not strange to those who are acquainted with spiritual phenomena between incarnates and discarnates. Instructions can be transmitted by diverse means, - inspiration pure and simple, by the hearing of the word, by seeing spirit-teachers in visions or apparitions, be it in dreams or in a state of wakefulness, of which one finds many examples in the “Bible,” the Gospel, and in the sacred books of all nations. It is then, rigorously exact to say that the greater part of revealers are inspired mediums, hearing or seeing. It does not follow that all are revealers, and still less intermediaries direct from God or his special messengers.

10. Pure spirits alone receive the word of God, with the mission of transmitting it; but one knows now that all spirits are far from being perfect, and there are those who give false appearances. That is why St. John has said. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John IV, 1)

There are serious, true, and deceitful communications, examples of which are found in Apocryphal Scriptures. The essential character of divine revelation is eternal truth. All revelation attained with error, or subject to change, cannot emanate from God. It is truth that the law of the Decalogue still maintains all its original importance; while other Mosaic laws that are essentially transitory, often in contradiction with the law of Sinai, are the personal and political work of the Hebrew legislator. The customs of the people becoming milder, their laws improved. These laws have of themselves fallen into disuse, whilst the Decalogue has remained standing like a beacon-star to humanity. Christ has made it the base of his edifice, whilst he has abolished the other laws. If they had been the work of God, they would have remained standing. Christ and Moses are the two great revealers who have changed the face of the world, and there is the proof of their divine mission. A work purely human could have no such power.

11. An important revelation is being given at this present epoch. It is that which shows to us the possibility of communication with beings of the spiritual world. This knowledge is not new, without doubt; but it had remained until our day in a state of dead letter; that is to say, without profit for humanity. Ignorance of the laws which ruled these communications has stifled them by superstition. Man was incapable of drawing from them any salutary deduction. It was reserved for our day to rescue them from their ridiculous accessories, to comprehend the power, and to cause to shine the light which is destined to illuminate the future.

12. Spiritism, having taught us of the invisible world which surrounds us and in the midst of which we live without doubt, the laws which govern it, its connection with the visible world, the nature and state of the beings who inhabit it and tracing the destiny of man after death, is a veritable revelation in the scientific acceptance of the word.

13. By its nature, the spiritual revelation has a two fold character: it is at the same time a divine and a scientific revelation. It is the first in that its coming is providential, and not the result of the initiative and premeditative design of man. The fundamental points of the doctrine being the fact of the teaching given by spirits commissioned by God to enlighten men concerning things whereof they were ignorant, - things they could not learn by themselves and which it is important for them to know today, as they are ready to comprehend them. It is the second because it informs us that this teaching is a privilege granted to no one individual, but that it is given to all the world by the same means (or in the same way) that those who transmit and those who receive it are not passive beings, excused from the work of observation and research; that they are not called upon to abnegate their judgment and their free will, that their control of themselves is not interdicted but on the contrary, recommended; and, finally, that the whole doctrine has not been enunciated in every part, nor imposed upon blind belief, but is deduced by the work of man, by the observation of facts that the spirits place before us. The instructions that they give to us to compel us to study, comment, compare, until we arrive at a knowledge of consequences and applications. In short, that which characterizes the spiritual revelation is the divine source from which it proceeds: - that the initiative belongs to the spirits and that the elaboration is the work of man.

14. As a mean of elaboration, Spiritism proceeds in exactly the same course as the exact sciences; that is to say, it implies the experimental method. Some facts of a new order present themselves, which cannot be explained by known laws. It teaches us to observe, compare, analyze them, and from effects, arrive at causes; it reveals the laws which govern them; it then deduces the consequences, and seeks for useful applications; it establishes no one preconceived theory. Thus it has not presented as a hypothesis either the existence or intervention of spirits, neither the existence of the perispirit, or reincarnation, or any one principle of the doctrine. It has proved the existence of spirits in the beyond, and with it the other principles connected with the spiritual life. These are not facts which are revealed after a theory has been formed to confirm them; but the theory has subsequently arisen to explain the facts, and make a summary of them. It is rigorously exact to declare that Spiritism is a science of observation, and not the product of the imagination. Not until its studies were based on experimental methods did the sciences begin to make serious progress. Although it was believed that this method could only be applied to matter, it is just as well applied to metaphysical things.

15. Let us cite an example: there happens in the world of spirits a very singular occurrence, and one that assuredly no one would have imagined. It is that some spirits think they are still incarnated. However, the superior spirits, who know it well, do not tell us, in response to our anticipation, “There are some spirits who believe that they still live in the Earth- life, who have preserved their tastes, their habits, and their instincts.” We have invoked the manifestation of this category of spirits in order that we may observe them. Having then seen spirits uncertain of their state, or affirming that they were yet of this world, attending to their ordinary occupations, the example has proved the fact. The multiplicity of similar facts has proved that it was not an exception, but one of the phases of spirit-life. We have been permitted to study all the varieties and causes of this singular illusion; have recognized that this situation is characteristic of those but little advanced morally, and that it is peculiar to certain kinds of death; that it is not necessarily of very short duration, but can continue for months and even years. It is thus that theory is born of observation. It is the same of all other principles of the doctrine.

16. Just as science, properly speaking, has for object the study of the laws of material principles, the special object of Spiritism is the knowledge of the laws of spiritual principles. As this latter class of principles is one of the forces of nature, as it acts incessantly and reciprocally upon the material principles, the result of it is that knowledge of one cannot be complete without knowledge of the other; that separated, they are incomplete; that science without Spiritism finds itself utterly powerless to explain certain phenomena by laws of matter alone; - while Spiritism without science would lack support and control. The study of the material laws should precede that of the spirituality, as it is matter that first touches the senses. If Spiritism had appeared before the scientific discoveries, it would have been rejected, as is the case with all that comes before its time.

17. All sciences are joined to and succeed one another in rational order. One is born of the other, according as they find support in anterior knowledge and ideas. Astronomy, one of the first which might have been cultivated, has remained in the infancy of its errors till the moment when physics came to reveal the law of the forces of the natural agents. Chemistry, being unable to do anything without physics, must come next in succession, in order that they should walk together, and learn upon one another. Anatomy, physiology, zoology, botany, and mineralogy have been recognized as veritable sciences only by the aid of the lights carried by physics and chemistry. Geology, born of yesterday, without astronomy, physics, chemistry, and others, would have failed to possess true elements of vitality. It could not be born until they had been recognized.

18. Modern science has done justice to the four primitive elements of the ancients, and from observation to observation it has arrived at the conception of one generative element alone in all the transformations of matter; but matter by itself is inert, it has neither life, thought, nor sentiment; its union with the spiritual principle is a necessity. Spiritism has not invented this principle, but was the first to demonstrate it by undeniable proofs. It has studied it, analyzed it, and revealed it in evident action. To the material element it has come to add the spiritual element. The material and spiritual elements are the two living principles or forces of nature. By the indissoluble union of these two elements, we can explain without difficulty a crowd of facts hitherto inexplicable.* In its essence simply, and as having for object the study of one of these two constituent elements of the universe, Spiritism lays forcible hold of the greater part of the sciences, and, above all, after they had exhibited their powerlessness to explain all things by the laws of matter alone.

_________________________
* The word element is not herewith taken to mean simple elementary body, consisting of primitive molecules, but to mean a constituent part of a whole. Accordingly, it can be said that the spiritual element has an active part in the economy of the universe; as one can say that both, the civil and the military elements are part of the statistics of a population; or that the religious element partakes in the education; or that there exists both the Arab and the European elements in Argelia.




19. Spiritism is accused by some to be in alliance with magic and sorcery; but men forget that astronomy has for her elder sister astrology, which is not totally discarded from among the beliefs of today; that chemistry is the daughter of alchemy, with which no scientific man would dare to occupy himself today. No one denies, however, that there were in astrology and alchemy the germs of truth, from which have sprung actual sciences; and, that, notwithstanding its ridiculous formulas, alchemy has revealed the law of affinity between material bodies. Astrology was supported by its knowledge of the position and movement of the stars it had studied, but, owing to ignorance of the true laws which ruled the mechanism of the universe, the stars were, for ordinary people, mysterious beings ruling the destinies of men, superstition lending to them a moral influence and prophetic meaning. When Galileo, Newton, and Kepler had demonstrated the laws from which the telescope had withdrawn the veil, and given to men that glance into the depths of space which certain people considered so indiscreet, the planets appeared to us as simple worlds, similar to our own; and all the lattice-work of the marvelous crumbled away.

It is the same with Spiritism in regard to magic and sorcery; the two latter were supported truly by spiritual manifestations, as astrology was upon the movement of the stars. In the ignorance of the laws which rule the spiritual world, however there were joined to these communications ridiculous practices and beliefs, to which modern Spiritism, the fruit of experience and observation, has done justice. Assuredly the distance which separates Spiritism from magic and sorcery is greater than that which divides astronomy from astrology, and chemistry from alchemy. The desire to confound them proves that one knows not the first thing about them.

20. The simple fact that is possible to communicate with beings of the spiritual world opens up to us incalculable consequences of the highest gravity and importance. Here a new world is revealed to us, and one which is so much the more important in that it awaits all men without exception! Knowledge concerning it cannot fail to produce, in a general sense, a profound modification in the customs, character, habits, and beliefs which exert so great an influence upon man’s social life. It has caused a revolution in ideas, a revolution so great and powerful that it is not circumscribed to any one people, much less to one caste, but reaches simultaneously the heart of all classes, all nationalities, all civilizations.

For the best of reasons, Spiritism is considered the third grand revelation. Let us see wherein the revelations differ, and how they are attached to one another.

21. Moses, as a prophet, has revealed to men the knowledge of the only true God, Sovereign Master of all things. He has promulgated the law of Sinai, and laid the foundation of true faith. As a man he has been the legislator of the people, through whom this primitive faith has exerted an influence over all the Earth.

22. Christ, taking from the ancient laws all that is eternal and divine, rejecting only that which was transitory, because purely disciplinary and of human conception, also adds a revelation of the future life of which Moses had not spoken, - with its retributions and recompenses which await all mankind after physical dissolution. (See “Revue Spirite,” 1861, pp. 90 and 280).

23. The most important part of the revelation of Christ, the primary source, the cornerstone of his whole doctrine, is the entirely new character he ascribes to divinity. God is no more the vindictive, jealous, and terrible God of Moses, the cruel and unmerciful God who bathes the Earth with human blood, who orders massacre and extermination of nations, without excepting women, children, and the aged; who chastises those who spare the victims. He is no more the unjust God who punishes a whole community for the faults of its chief, even punishing the innocent instead of the guilty, visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children, but a merciful God, sovereignly just and good, full of tenderness and mercy, who pardons the repentant sinner, and rewards everyone according to his works. He is no more the God of a favored people, the God of armies, presiding at combats in order to sustain his own cause against the gods of other nations, but the common Father of humanity, who extends his protection over all his children, and calls them all his own. He is no more the God who recompenses or punishes by giving or withholding earthly goods, who makes glory and good fortune to consist in conquering rival nations, and placing them in a state of slavery, or in the multiplicity of progeny; but he is the God who says to men: “Your true country is not of this world; it is in the celestial kingdom; it is there that the lowly in heart shall be elevated, and the proud abased.” He is no more the God who makes a virtue of vengeance, ordering us to exact “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” but the God of mercy, who says, “Forgive if you would be forgiven; return good for evil; do to others what you would have them do to you.” He is no more the exacting and tyrannical God who imposes the most rigorous laws upon us in regard to the ceremonies by which he desires to be adored, who is offended with the inobservance of a formula, but the great and good God who is honored not by the form or ceremony, but by the sincere, heartfelt thought. He is no more the God to be feared, but the God to be loved.

24. God being the pivot of all religious beliefs, the base of all civilizations, the character of all religions conform to the idea they give of God. Those which make him vindictive and cruel think they honor him by acts of cruelty, by butcheries and tortures; those who make him a partial and jealous God are intolerant, over-scrupulous in forms, according as they believe him to be more or less tainted with weaknesses and human errors.

25. The whole doctrine of Christ is founded upon the character he attributes to divinity. With an impartial God, perfectly just, good, and merciful, he has been able to make of the love of God and charity toward one’s neighbor the express conditions of salvation, and to say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Upon this belief alone he has been able to base the principle of the equality of men before God, and of universal fraternity. Yet, would it be possible to love this God of Moses? No; one could but fear him.

This revelation of the true attributes of divinity, joined to that of the immortality of the soul and of man’s future life, deeply modified the mutual relations of men, imposed upon them new obligations, caused them to view the present life under another light. It effected a marked change for the better in the manners and social relations of humanity. It is incontestably, in its consequences, the most important point in the revelation of Christ, of which one can never fully appreciate the importance. Sad to say, it is the point least commented upon, - the one which has been misconstrued in a greater degree than all his other teachings.

26. However, Christ adds, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Consoler, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Consoler to be with you forever” (John, 14: 16, 25 and 26). If Christ did not impart all the truth which he was capable of giving, he thought it better to leave some truths in shadow until men should be capable of comprehending them. From his own acknowledgement, his teachings were then incomplete. Since he announces the coming of the spirit who should add unto them, he prophesied that they would deviate from his teachings; in a word, that they would deteriorate from that which he had done for them, but everything he declared should be reestablished. Now, one reestablishes only that which has been defective.

27. Why did he call the new Messiah, the Consoler? This significant name, without ambiguity, is a revelation in itself. It predicted that men would have need of consolation, implying that there was an insufficiency of consolation in the new belief being formed. Scarcely ever has Christ been so clear and explicit as in these last words, which have gained the particular attention of but few people, perhaps because teachers have failed to place them in the right light to deepen their prophetic sense.

28. If Christ has not been able to develop his teachings in a complete manner, it is because men were so ignorant, and they could acquire knowledge only with time. He talked of things which appeared to them visionary and unreal in their undeveloped state. In order to complete his mission, it was only necessary to explain and develop truths already given. It was unnecessary to add new truth; for the germ of all was found in his words; the key was needed which should unlock their meaning.

29. But who dares to attempt to change the meaning of the Holy Scriptures? Who has the right? Who possesses the necessary light, if not the theologians?

Who will dare to undertake it? Science first, which asks permission of no one to make known the laws of nature. It crushes under its feet the most beloved errors and prejudices. What man has this right? In this age of intellectual emancipation and of liberty of conscience the right of examination belongs to the entire world; and the scriptures are no more the holy ark upon which one fears to lay a finger in the expectation of being crushed thereby. We need not contest the Theologians of the Middle Ages, and particularly the Fathers of the Church, who were brilliant in regards to special necessary knowledge. They were not, however, strong enough to condemn as heresy the movement of the Earth and belief in the antipodes; but, from all known periods of the world’s formation till the present time, they have thrown the anathema at every new revelation.

Men have not been able to explain the scriptures by the exclusive aid of that knowledge which they, mixed with false or uncertain ideas, possessed concerning the laws of nature, revealed later by science. That is the reason why theologians themselves have really mistaken the sense of certain words and facts in the Gospel. Determined, at any price, to find the confirmation of a preconceived thought, they remained always in the same circle, without changing their point of view, in such manner that they saw only that which they wished to see. Wise theologians as they were, they could not comprehend facts depending upon laws of which they knew nothing.

But who could judge between the diverse and often contradictory interpretations given outside of theology? As new facts and laws are revealed, we will be enlightened in the logic and good sense and use these to distinguish utopia systems from those based in reality. Now science has revealed certain laws; Spiritism brings others to light. Collectively they are indispensable to the correct understanding of the sacred texts of all religions, - those of Confucius and Buddha equally with those of Christianity. As to theology, it cannot know how to judiciously plead an exception for the contradictions of science, since it is not always in accord with itself.

30. Spiritism, taking its starting-point at the words of Christ, as Christ has taken his from Moses, is a direct consequence of his doctrine.

To the vague ideas of the future life it adds a revelation of the existence of the invisible world which surrounds us and occupies all space; thus defining the belief, by giving it body, consistence, and a reality to the idea.

It defines the connection between the soul and the body, and raises the veil which conceals from men the mysteries of life and death.

By Spiritism man knows whence he comes, where he goes, why he is upon the Earth, why he suffers temporarily, and can see, above all, the justice of God.

He learns that souls progress unceasingly through a series of progressive existences until they shall have attained to that degree of perfection in which God only reigns.

He learns that all souls, having the same starting-point, are created equal, with the same opportunity to progress in virtue of their own free will, that all are of the same essence, and that there is between them only a difference of accomplished progress; that all have the same destiny, and will attain the same end more or less promptly according to their labor and desire to progress.

He learns that there are no disinherited ones, no lost souls, neither one more favored than another; that God has not created some favored ones who are excused from the work which is imposed upon others to facilitate their progression; that there are no creatures perpetually condemned to unhappiness and suffering; that those designated under the name of demons are spirits yet undeveloped and imperfect, who do wrong in the world of spirits as they did here upon Earth, but who will advance and improve their condition; that the angels are not beings distinct from the rest of creation, but spirits who have attained that height through the same earthly sufferings and temptations as others undergo; that thus there are not varied creations of different classes among intelligent humanity, but that all creation springs from the great law of unity which rules the universe, and that all beings gravitate towards a common end, which is perfection, without one being favored at the expense of the others, all holding the thread of their destiny in their own hands.

31. By the communications that man can now establish with those who have left the Earth, he receives not only the material proof of the existence and individuality of the soul, but he comprehends the solidarity which joins the living and the dead in this world, and those of this world with those of other worlds. He knows their situation in the world of spirits; he follows them in their migrations; he can testify of their joys and sorrows; he knows why they are happy or unhappy and the end which awaits all, according to the good or evil they accomplished. These communications introduce him to a future life, which he can observe in all its phases and conditions. The future is no more a vague hope; it is a positive fact, a mathematical certitude. Thus he has no more fear of death; it is for him a deliverance, the gate of true life.

32. By the study of the situation of the spirits, one learns that happiness or unhappiness in the spiritual life is experienced according to the degree of perfection or imperfection one has obtained; that each one suffers the direct and natural consequences of his own faults; in other words, that he is punished where he has sinned; that these consequences last as long as the cause which has produce them; that thus the culprit would suffer eternally if he persisted eternally in his fault, but that suffering ceases with repentance and reparation. Now, as our joy and sorrow are within our own grasp, each one can, by virtue of his free will, prolong or shorten his sufferings, as the sick suffers from his excesses as long as he indulges in them.

33. If reason repels, as incompatible with the goodness of God, the idea of everlasting punishment, perpetual and absolute, often inflicted for one fault alone, - the tortures of hell, which no repentance, however ardent or sincere, can lessen, - it acknowledges this distributive impartial justice which is extended to all; never shutting the door of return to goodness, and extending unceasingly the helping hand to the shipwrecked one, instead of allowing him to sink without aid into the abyss.

34. The plurality of existences, of which Christ established in the Gospel, though merely touching upon it, is one of the most important laws revealed by Spiritism, as it reveals its reality and necessity for one’s progress. By this law can be explained all the apparent anomalies which human life presents, - its differences of social position; the premature deaths, which, without reincarnation, would render abridged lives useless for souls; the inequality of intellectual and moral aptitudes, owing to the antiquity of the spirit, who has lived a longer or a short time, and has become more or less learned and progressed, and who, being reborn, brings into requisition the knowledge of anterior existences. (See item n° 5)

35. With the doctrine of the creation of a soul at every birth, one falls necessarily into the belief in beings favored of God. Men are strangers to one another. Nothing unites firmly; the ties of family are purely physical. They are not solidarities of a past in which they did not exist. With the doctrine of nothingness after death or annihilation all relationships of life cease; there are no unions for the future. By reincarnation they form solidarities of the past and the future, their connection perpetuating itself in the spiritual and material world. Fraternity has for base the changeless laws of nature. Goodness has an objective existence, while there is no reversal of inevitable consequences.

36. With belief in reincarnation, the prejudices of races and castes fall dead, since the same spirit can be reborn rich or poor, lord or beggar, master or subordinate, free or enslaved, man or woman. Of all the arguments brought against the injustice of servitude and slavery, against the subjection of the weaker to the rule of the stronger, there is no one of them which expresses so logically the reason therefore as the law of reincarnation. If, then, reincarnation is founded upon a law of nature which is the source of universal brotherhood, it is based upon the same law as that of the equality of social rights and of freedom.

37. Take away from man the free, independent spirit surviving matter, and you make of him an organized machine, without will or responsibility, without other restraint than the civil law, simply an intelligent animal. Expecting nothing after death, nothing hinders him from augmenting the joys of the present. If he suffers, he has in perspective only despair and annihilation for refuge. With certainty of a future, of seeing again those whom he has offended, all his ideas change. Had Spiritism only drawn man from the sad doubt of a future life, it would have done more for his moral improvement than all the disciplinary laws which have bridled him sometimes, but changed him never.

38. Without pre-existence of the soul, the doctrine of original sin is not only irreconcilable with the justice of God, who would render all men responsible for the fault of one, but is senseless; while the penalty cannot be justifiable, because the soul did not exist at the epoch where it is pretended its responsibility commenced. With pre-existence and reincarnation man carries into his new incarnation the germ of his past imperfections, the defects of which he has not been cured, which betray themselves in his native instincts, in his propensity for this or that vice. It is his veritable original sin, to the consequences of which he is naturally submitted, but with this capital difference: that he carries the burden of his own faults, and not that of the fault of another. This difference at one and the same time consoles, encourages, and honors sovereign equity, each separate existence offering to man the means of making reparation for sins committed, and of progress either by overcoming some imperfection, or by acquiring some fresh knowledge until he becomes sufficiently purified to have no more need of earthly experience, when he will live exclusively a glorious, eternal life of spirit.

For the same reason, he who has progressed morally upon rebirth carries his moral qualities with him just as he who had progressed intellectually carries his intelligent ideas with him. The former is identified with goodness, which he practices without effort, without calculation; that is to say, without thinking about it. While he who is obliged to combat low tendencies is always in a battle with them. The first is already conqueror, the second on the way to victory. There is, then, original virtue, as there is original knowledge, and original sin, or, more correctly, imperfection.

39. Experimental Spiritism has studied the properties of spiritual fluids, and their action upon matter. It has demonstrated the existence of a fluidic body, in which the ancients had a partial belief, designated by St. Paul under the name of “spiritual body;” that is to say, the gaseous body of the soul, which remains after the destruction of the material body. It is known today that this envelope is inseparable from the soul; that it is one of the constituent elements of a human being; that it is the vehicle for the transmission of thought; and that during earthly life it serves as a connection between spirit and matter. This spiritual body or perispirit, plays such an important part in the organism and in a multitude of productions, that there needs to be allied to physiology and psychology.

40. The study of the properties of the perispirit, of the spiritual fluids, and of the physiological attributes of the soul, opens new horizons to science, and gives the key to a great number of unknown phenomena, the laws which rule them being until now unknown. Phenomena are denied by materialism because they are linked with Spiritism, and, because called by another name than miracles or supernatural occurrences, are ignored by those of supernatural belief. Among others are the phenomena of double sight, visions of objects at a distance, natural and artificial somnambulism, psychic effects of catalepsy and lethargy, prescience, presentiments, apparitions, transfigurations, the transmission of thought, fascination, instantaneous cures, obsessions and possessions, etc. In demonstrating that these phenomena repose upon laws as natural as the electrical, and that there exist normal conditions in which they can be reproduced, Spiritism destroys the empire of the marvelous and supernatural, and consequently the source of the greater part of superstition. If it founds a belief in the possibility of certain things regarded by some as chimerical, it precludes one from believing in others of which it has demonstrated the impossibility and irrationality.

41. Spiritism, very far from denying or destroying the Gospel, on the contrary comes to confirm, explain, and prove it. By the new laws of nature that it reveals, it throws light upon the obscure points of the teachings of Jesus, upon all that he has done and said, in such a way that those to whom certain parts of the Gospel were formerly unintelligible, or seemed inadmissible, comprehend them without trouble by the aid of Spiritism, accept them, and better understand their importance as they are able to separate the reality from the allegory. Christ appears to them in a grander light. He is no longer simply a philosopher: he is a divine Messiah.

42. Besides the moral power that Spiritism wields is the importance that it gives to all actions of life. It points with its finger at the consequences of goodness and wickedness; gives moral force and courage; gives consolation in afflictions by inducing unalterable confidence in the future, by the thought of having near one the beings that one has loved, the assurance of seeing them again, the possibility of speaking to them, the certainty that all one has accomplished, all one has acquired, of intelligence, science, or morality till the last hour of life, nothing is lost, that all yields advancement. One finds that Spiritism realizes all the promises of Christ in regard to the Consoler that he promised to send. Now, as it is the Spirit of Truth who presides over the great work of regeneration, the promise of his coming is thus accomplished as he is, in fact, the true Consoler.*

___________________________
* Many fathers of families deplore the premature death of children on account of the education for which they have made great sacrifices, and say that it is totally lost. With a belief in Spiritism, they do not regret these sacrifices, and would be ready to make them, even with the certainty of seeing their children die; for they know that, if the latter do not receive the benefits of such education in the present life, it will serve, first, to advance them as spirits, then as so much of intellectual property for a new existence, so that when they shall return they will have intellectual capital which will render them more apt in gaining new knowledge. Examples of this are those children who are born with innate ideas, who know, as one might say, without the trouble of learning. If, as fathers, they have not the immediate satisfaction of seeing their children put this education to profit, they will enjoy it certainly later, be it as a spirit or earthly beings. Perhaps they can be again the parents of the same children that they call happily endowed by nature, and who owe their aptitude to a former education; as also, if some children do wrong on account of the negligence of their parents, the latter may have to suffer later by troubles and grieves which will be caused by them in a new existence. (“The Gospel According to Spiritism,” chap. 5, n° 21: Premature Deaths.)




43. If to these facts one adds the unheard of rapidity of the propagation of Spiritism, notwithstanding all which has been done to combat it, one cannot deny that its coming is providential, since it triumphs over all the forces of allied human antagonism. The facility with which it is accepted by such a large number of persons, and that without constraint, without other pressure than the power of the idea, proves that it responds to a need, - that of believing in something after the belief in nothing, which skepticism caused; and consequently it has come at the right time.

44. Afflictions are many in number. It is not then surprising that so many men accept a doctrine which comforts them in preference to one which gives no reasonable hope of a future; for it is to the unhappy more than to the happy of Earth that Spiritism addresses itself particularly. The sick person welcomes a physician with more joy then he who is well. Now, the afflicted are the sick patients, and the Consoler is the physician.

You who combat Spiritism, if you desire that one leaves it to follow you, give something more than it supplies, and something better; cure soul’s wounds more surely; give more consolation, more satisfaction to the heart, more legitimate hopes, greater certitudes; paint for the future a more attractive picture, more rational; but think not to gain your end, you with the perspective of annihilation, you with the alternative of the flames of hell, or useless, sanctimonious, perpetual contemplation!

45. The first revelation was personified in Moses, the second in Christ, the third in no one individual. The two first are individuals; the third is collective, which is an essential character of great importance. It is collective in the sense that it has been made in favor of no one person: consequently, no one can be called the prophet of it. It has been given simultaneously in all parts of the Earth to millions of persons, of all ages, of all faiths, of all conditions, from the lowest to the highest according to the prediction given by the author of the Acts of the Apostles: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” (Acts, Chap. II, v. 17, 18) It has not sprung from any one special civilization, but serves as a rallying point for all.*

________________________
* Our special role in the grand movement of ideas which is produced by Spiritism, and which is already operating, is that of an attentive observer who studies facts to seek their cause, and to draw from them definite results. We have confronted all those whom we could possibly gather around us; we have compared and commented upon instructions given by the spirits from all parts of the globe; then we have arranged the whole methodically. In a word, we have studied, and given to the public the fruit of our researches, without attributing to our labors other value than of a philosophical work deduced from observation and experience, never desiring to put ourselves in the place of a chief of doctrine, or desiring to thrust our ideas upon any one. In publishing them, we have used a common right, and those who have accepted them have done so freely. If these ideas have found numerous sympathizers, it is that they have had the advantage of responding to the aspirations of a great number; of this we are not vain, as their origin belongs not to us. Our greatest merit is that of perseverance and devotion to the cause we have espoused. We have only done that which others also can do. That is why we have made no pretension of being a prophet or Messiah, and do not believe ourselves such.





46. The two former revelations, being the product of a personal teaching, have been forcibly localized; that is to say, they have taken place in the locality from which knowledge has extended gradually; but centuries were necessary in order for it to reach the extremities of the globe, and even then without encompassing it altogether. The third has the peculiarity, that, not being personified in one individual, it is rained down simultaneously upon thousands of different points, which have become centers or focuses of radiation. These centers multiplying themselves, their rays meet again little by little, like circles formed by a multitude of stones thrown into the water, in such a manner that in a given time they will have covered the entire surface of the globe.

Such is one of the causes of the rapid propagation of the doctrine. If it had surged upon a single point, if it had been the exclusive work of one man, it would have formed a sect around him; but a half century might have passed before it have passed the limits of the country where it would have taken root, while Spiritism, after a period of ten years, had planted its beacon- lights from pole to pole.

47. This unheard of circumstances in the history of teachings gives to it exceptional force, and an irresistible power of action. Indeed, if anything checks it at one point in one country, it is literally impossible to curb it in all points in all countries. For one place where it will be disregarded, there will be a thousand where it will flourish. As no one can reach it in an individual, one cannot attain to the spirits who are the source of it. Now, as spirits are everywhere, it is impossible that they could be made to disappear from the globe. They are always appearing; and the belief in them reposes upon a fact in nature, and one cannot suppress a law of nature. This fact alone should convince those who are not quite persuaded to become believers (“Revue Spirite,” February, 1865, p. 38: “Perpetuity of Spiritism”).

48. However, these different centers might have remained for a long time isolated from one another, situated as are some in far distant countries. A connection was necessary between them, which should place them in communion with their brothers in belief by teaching them that which was done elsewhere. This union of thought, which would have been impossible to the Spiritism of antiquity, is accomplished by the numerous publications which are now found everywhere; which condense, under a unique, concise, and methodical form, the teaching given everywhere through multiplied methods of expression, and in diverse languages.

49. The two first revelations could have only been the result of a direct teaching; they were imposed on the mind by the authority of the word of the Master, men being too undeveloped to join in the work of their elaboration.

Let us remark at the same time a very sensible shade of resemblance between them, important to the progress of morals and ideas; it is that they were given to the same people in the same locality, but at in interval of nearly eighteen hundred years. The doctrine of Moses is absolute, despotic; it admits no discussion, but imposes itself upon all people by force. That of Jesus is essentially that of counsel and advice; it is freely accepted, and gains its advocates by persuasion; it is discussed by the living person of its founder, who disdains not to argue with its adversaries.

50. The third revelation comes at an epoch of emancipation and of intellectual maturity, where developed intelligence cannot agree to play a passive role; where man accepts nothing blindly, but wishes to see where one conducts him; to know the why and the how of everything. It claims to be at the same time the product of a teaching, and the fruit of labor, of research, and of free examination. Spirits teach us only that which is necessary to put us in the way of truth; but they abstain from revealing to man that which he can discover by himself, leaving to him the care of discussing, controlling, and submitting all to the crucible of reason, leaving him often to learn the lesson at his own expense. It gives to him the principal, the materials from which to draw the interest and to put it in use. (See item n°13).

51. The elements of spiritual revelation having been given simultaneously at a multitude of points to men of all social conditions and of different degrees of knowledge, it is very evident that observations could not have been made everywhere with the same effect; that the sequences drawn from them, the relation of the laws which govern this order of phenomena, - in a word, the conclusion which ought to establish ideas, - could proceed only from the harmony and correlation of facts. Now, every isolated center, circumscribed in a limited circle, seeing most often only a particular order of manifestations, sometimes in appearance contradictory, having communications generally with the same category of spirits, and, moreover, blocked by the local influences and by the spirit of party, finds it materially impossible to embrace the whole, powerless to join isolated observations to a common principle. Each one judging facts according to his knowledge and his anterior beliefs, or by the particular opinions of the spirits manifesting, there would soon be as many theories and systems as centers, of which no one would be complete, in default of elements of comparison and of control. In a word, each one would remain content with his partial revelation, believing it to include all the truth, for want of knowledge that in a hundred other places one could obtain more or better.

52. It is well to observe further, that nowhere has spiritual teaching been given in a complete manner. It touches upon so great a number of observations, upon subjects so diverse, requiring knowledge and special mediumistic aptitudes, that it is simply impossible to unite at the same point all the necessary conditions. Teaching having become collective, and not individual, the spirits have divided the labor by disseminating the subjects of study and observation, as in certain factories different parts of the object manufactured are divided among different workman.

Revelation is thus partially given in diverse places and by a multitude of intermediaries; and it is in this manner still to be followed up, for all is not revealed. Every center finds in the other centers the complement of that which obtains, and it is only the joining together of all the instructions which can constitute the doctrine of Spiritism.

It is, moreover, necessary to group the facts gleaned, in order to see their corresponding similarity, to gather the different documents, instructions given by spirits upon all points and all subjects, in order to compare them and analyze them by studying their analogy and difference. Communications being given by spirits of all orders more or less clearly, it is necessary to learn the degree of confidence reason would accord to them; to distinguish the systematic, individual, and isolated ideas from those which had the sanction of the general teaching of the spirits; to separate the utopian from the practical; to cut away those which were notoriously contradictory, judged by positive science and healthy logic; to utilize the errors even the information given by spirits of the lowest sphere, for a knowledge of the invisible world; and to form of it a homogeneous whole. In a word, a center of elaboration is necessary, independent of all preconceived ideas, of all prejudice of sect, resolved to accept a self-evident truth, though it be contrary to one’s personal opinion. This center forms itself by the force of things, and without premeditated design.*

_______________________
* The first work which took a philosophical view of the doctrine was “The Spirits’ Book.” It deduced moral sequences from facts, which had approached all parts of the belief, in touching upon the most important question that it raised, has been since its appearance, the rallying-point towards which the individual works have spontaneously converged. It is worthy of note that from the publication of this book dates the era of the Spiritist philosophy, previously coming under the head of curiosities of experience. If this book (“The Spirits’ Book”) has gained the sympathies of the majority, it is because it was the expression of the sentiments of this same majority, and that it responded to its aspirations. It is also because each one found there the confirmation, and a rational explanation of that which he in particular obtained. If it had disagreed with the general teachings of the spirits, it would have received no favor, and would have promptly fallen into oblivion. Now, around whom is one to rally? It is not man, who is nothing by himself, only a master-workman, who dies and disappears, but around an idea which perishes not when it emanates from a source superior to man.

This spontaneous concentration of scattered forces has given place to an immense connection, a unique monument to the world, a living picture of the true history of modern Spiritism; reflecting, at the same time, partial works, the multiplication of sentiments which has developed the doctrine, the moral results, the devotion and the weakness, - precious archives for posterity, who will be able to judge men and things by authentic documents. In the presence of these unexceptional testimonies, what will become in the time of all false allegations, defamations of envy and jealousy?


53. From this state of things rises a double current of ideas; some going from the extremity to the center, others returning from the center to the circumference. It is thus that the doctrine has promptly marched towards unity, notwithstanding the diversity of sources from which it has emanated; that the divergent systems have little by little fallen, on account of their isolation, and failure to obtain the sympathy of the majority. A communion of thought is now established between different centers. Speaking the same spiritual language, they comprehend and sympathize with one another from one end of the world to the other.

The spiritists have been found to be stronger; they have battled with more courage; they have marched with a more assured step, now that they are no more alone, and have found a support, a link which attaches them to the great family. The phenomena of which they were witnesses are no longer strange, abnormal, contradictory, since they are found to agree with the general laws of harmony; since, glancing at it as a whole, they see the grand humanitarian object. *

But how is one to know if a principle is taught everywhere, or if it is the result of an individual opinion only? Isolated societies not having the knowledge of that which was said elsewhere, it was necessary that a central one should gather all the information, ascertain the opinion of the majority, and send the knowledge to all.**

________________________
* A significant testimony, as remarkable as touching, of this communion of thought which is established between Spiritists by conformity of belief, are the prayerful demands which come to us from far-distant lands, from Peru to the extremities of Asia, from persons of diverse nationalities and religions, whom we have never seen. Is it not the prelude of the establishment of the one great church which is preparing itself, the proof of the firm stand Spiritism is taking everywhere?

It is remarkable that of all the societies formed with premeditated intention of withdrawal by proclaiming divergent principles, - as those who, by reason of self-love or otherwise, wishing not to have the appearance of sustaining the common law, have believed themselves strong enough to go alone, to have enough light to pass as counselors, - not one has succeeded in establishing a long-lived or popular idea; all have died out or vegetated in the shade. How could it be otherwise, since, in order to distinguish themselves, instead of endeavoring to give the greatest amount of benefit to the world, they rejected those principles of the doctrine which give to it the most powerful attraction, those which are the most consoling, encouraging, and rational? If they had comprehended the power of the moral elements which alone induce unity, they would not have been rocked in a chimerical illusion; but, mistaken their little circle for the universe, they have seen in the adherents only a society which could easily be overthrown by one entertaining contrary opinion. They strangely misapprehended the essential character of the doctrine, and this error could lead only to deception. In place of destroying unity, they destroyed the connection which could give them strength and life. (See “Revue Spirite,” April, 1866, pp.106 and 111: Spiritism without Spirits; Independent Spiritism.)

** Such is the object of our publications, which can be considered as the result of this. All opinions are discussed there; but the questions are arranged as principles only after having received the sanction of the controls, who alone can give them lawful strength and affirmation. That is why we do not accept, without due thought, any one theory; therefore the doctrine proceeding from general instructions is not the product of a preconceived system. It is largely this fact which gives it strength, and assures its future.



54. There is no science which has in all its parts proceeded from the brain of one man. All, without exception, are the product of successive observations, leaning upon preceding ones, as upon a known point, in order to arrive at an unknown one. It is thus that the spirits have proceeded with Spiritism. That is why their teaching is gradual. They approach questions only in proportion and in measure, as the principles upon which they ought to lean are sufficiently elaborated, and as opinion is prepared to assimilate them. It is remarkable that, each time particular centers have wished to approach premature questions, they have obtained only contradictory responses, and never conclusive ones. When, however, the favorable moment arrives, the instruction is given universally at nearly the same moment of time.

There is, at the same time, between the march of Spiritism and that of the sciences, a capital difference. It is that the latter have attained their present advancement only after long intervals of time, whilst only a few years have sufficed for Spiritism, not to gain the culminating point, but at least to gather a sum of facts to constitute a doctrine. That is obtained by innumerable manifestations of spirits, who, by the will of God, manifest simultaneously; each one bringing the contingent of their knowledge. The result is, that all parts of the doctrine, instead of being successively elaborated during many centuries, have been concocted almost simultaneously in a few years, and that this has sufficed to group them in order to form a whole.

God has willed it thus, firstly, in order that the edifice should progress more rapidly; secondly, in order that it should have a permanent and immediate control in the universality of the teaching, each part having value as well as authority only by its connection with the whole; all becoming harmonious, finding their place in the general edifice, and each one arriving in due time.

In confiding, not to one spirit alone, the care of the promulgation of the doctrine, God has willed that the lowest, as well as the highest among the spirits, as well as among men, should carry each his stone to the edifice, in order to establish between them a structure of cooperative solidarity, which has failed to all doctrines springing from one source alone.

On the other hand, every spirit, the same as every man, having only a limited sum of knowledge, they were incapable of treating ex-professo the innumerous questions which Spiritism touches. That is why the doctrine, in order to fulfill the desires of the Creator, could not be the work of one spirit alone, nor of one medium. It could proceed only from the united work of the many, - the one controlled by the other.*


_______________________
* See in “The Gospel According to Spiritism,” Introduction, item 6, and “Revue Spirite,” April, 1864, p. 90: Authority of the Spiritual Doctrine; Universal Control of the Teaching of the Spirits.




55. A later character in the spiritual revelation, which is drawn from the conditions in which it is produced, is that, leaning upon facts, it is, and ever must be, essentially progressive, like all sciences based upon observation. In its essence it is allied to science, which, being a revelation of the laws of nature by a certain order of facts cannot be contrary to the will of God, the author of these laws. The discoveries of science glorify, instead of demeaning God. They destroy only that which men have built upon the false ideas they have formed of God.

Spiritism is based then only upon absolute principle, - that which is demonstrated by proof, or that which results logically from observation. Touching all the branches of social economy, to which it lends the aid of its own discoveries, it will assimilate itself always with all progressive doctrines, of whatever order they may be. It has arrived at a state of practical truth, and discarded the utopian ideas which would have destroyed it. In ceasing to be that which it is, it would deceive in regard to its origin and its providential object. Spiritism, marching hand in hand with progress, will never be overthrown, because, if new discoveries should demonstrate that it is in error upon a point, it would modify itself in regard to it. If a new truth is revealed, it accepts it.*


________________________
* In face of so clear and categorical declarations as those herein present in this chapter, all allegations of tendencies to absolutism and autocracy of the principles fall down, as well as all the false assimilations that some forewarned or not well informed people lend to the doctrine. These declarations, however, are not new; we have been repeating them many times in our writings, so that no doubt persists in respect to them. Moreover, they mark the true role that fits us, the only one we desire: of being a simple worker.



56. What is the utility of the moral doctrine of the spirits, since it is no other than that of Christ? Has man need of a revelation? And can he find all that within himself which is necessary to guide him?

God has without doubt given to man a guide in his conscience, which says to him, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” This moral philosophy is certainly inscribed in the heart of man; but do all know how to read it there? Have men never misconstrued these wise precepts? What have they done with the ethics of Christ? Do those who teach them practice them? Have they not become a dead letter, a beautiful theory, and good for others but not for one’s self? Would you reproach a father for repeating a hundred times the same instructions to his children if they did not profit by them? Why should God do less than a father of a family? Why should he not send from time to time special messengers to men, charged with recalling them to their duties, and with reinstating them in that “narrow path” from which they have wandered, with opening the eyes of those who are blind to wisdom, as the most advanced men are sent as missionaries to the savage and barbarous?

The spirits teach no other morality than that of Christ, for the reason that there is no better. But, then, of what good is this instruction, since it teaches that which we know? One could say the same of the ethical teachings of Christ, which were taught five hundred years before he lived by Socrates and Plato in almost identical words; also by all moralists who repeat the same thing under many forms and words. The spirits come simply to augment the number of moralists, with the difference, that, manifesting themselves everywhere, they are heard in the hut as well as in the palace by the ignorant as well as the learned.

That which the teaching of the spirits adds to that of Christ is the knowledge of the laws which bind the living to the dead, which complete the vague ideas which he gave of the soul, its past and future, and which the laws of nature give as sanction to his doctrine. By the aid of the new lights carried by Spiritism and the spirits, man comprehends the solidarity which binds all beings together. Charity and fraternity become social necessities. Man does from conviction that which he did only for duty’s sake; and this is better when men will practice the moral teachings of Christ.

Then alone will they be able to say that they have no more need of incarnate or discarnate moralists; then God will send them no more of them.

57. The latter is one of the most important questions which is based upon the title of this chapter: what is the authority of the spiritist revelation, since it emanates from beings whose light is limited, and who are not infallible?

The objection would be serious if this revelation consisted only of the spirit instructions, - if we should hold it as from them exclusively, and accept it with closed eyes. It is without value until man carries to it the cooperation of his knowledge and judgment, as the spirits are constrained from putting it in the way of deductions which he can draw from observation of facts. Now, the manifestations in their innumerable variety are facts. Man studies them, and seeks in them the law. He is aided in this work by spirits of all orders, who are collaborators rather than revealers in the usual sense of the word. He submits their sayings to the control of logic and good sense. In this way he benefits by some special knowledge which is derived from their position, without abdicating the use of his own reason.

The spirits being none other than the souls of men, in communicating with them we do not go away from humanity, which is a capital circumstance to consider. Men of genius who have been the beacon-lights of humanity have come to us from the spirit world, as they have re- entered it on quitting the Earth. Since spirits can communicate with men, these same geniuses can give us instructions under a spiritual form, as they have done in a corporal one. They can instruct us after death, as they did in life. They are invisible, instead of visible, which is all the difference. Their experience and knowledge ought not to be less; and if their word, like that of man’s, had authority, it ought not to have less because that they are in the land of spirits.

58. But there are not only superior spirits which manifest: there are also those of all orders. This is necessary in order to initiate us into the true character of the spiritual world, by showing it to us in all its phases. By this means the relations between the visible and invisible world are more intimate, the connection is more evident. We see more clearly whence we came, and where we go. Such is the essential object of these manifestations. All spirits, in whatever degree to which they may attain, teach us something; but, as they are more or less enlightened, it is left to us to determine whether they are good or evil, and to profit by their teaching as it permits. Now all, whomsoever they may be, can teach and reveal to us facts of which we are ignorant, and which but for them we should never know.

59. Wise, incarnated spirits are powerful individualities, - indisputably so; but their action is restrained and necessarily slow in propagating itself. Allowing that one among them should come alone, - be it even Elias, Moses, Socrates, or Plato, - to reveal to us in these latter days the state of the spiritual world, which one among them would have proved the truth of his assertions in this time of skepticism? Would not men have regarded him as a dreamer or utopist? And, admitting that his teachings were accepted as the absolute truth, centuries would pass away before they would be accepted by the masses. God in his wisdom has not obtained it thus; he has willed that the instruction be given by the spirits themselves, and not by the incarnates, in order to convince men of their existence, and that it might take place simultaneously over all the Earth, which may have been to propagate it the more rapidly, or that we might find in the coincidence of the teaching a proof of its truth, each one having thus the means of convincing himself.

60. The spirits come not to free man from work, study, or research; they bring no ready- made science; they leave him to his own strength in that which he can discover for himself. The spirits know perfectly well today that for a long time experience has demonstrated the error of the opinion which attributed to spirits the possession of all knowledge and wisdom, and that it was sufficient to address one’s self to the first spirit which came; in order to know all things. After leaving the Earth, spirits occupy one out of many spiritual planes, as upon Earth there are superior and vulgar persons. Many spirits then know scientifically and philosophically less than certain men; they tell no more, and often less, than they know. As among men, the most advanced can teach us more, and give us more judicious advice, than those less advanced. To demand counsel of spirits is not to address supernatural powers, but persons like ourselves, - those to whom we would turn for counsel in their earthly life, as parents, friends, and individuals more enlightened than ourselves. Here is an important fact for those who are ignorant of Spiritism, and have formed a false idea of the nature of the world of spirits and of the condition of affairs beyond the tomb.

61. What is then the utility of these manifestations, or, as we may say, this revelation, if the spirits know no more than ourselves, or if they do not tell us all they know?

Firstly, as we have said, they abstain from giving us that which we can acquire through labor. Secondly, there are facts which they are not permitted to reveal, because we are not sufficiently advanced to receive them. But, aside from this, the conditions of their new existence extend the circle of their perceptions. They see that which they saw not upon Earth, freed from the trammels of matter. Delivered from the cares of the corporeal life, they judge things from a more elevated point, from a healthier one; their perspicuity embraces a broader horizon; they perceive their errors, and rid themselves of human prejudices.

It is in this that the superiority of spirits over incarnates consists; therefore their counsel will be, according to their degree of advancement, more judicious and disinterested than that of the incarnates. Conditions are found by which they can instruct us in principles of which we are ignorant. Until now men had created only suppositions in regard to the future. That is why beliefs upon this point have been divided into systems so numerous and so divergent, - from a belief in nothing to fantastic ideas of hellfire and paradise. Today we have ocular demonstration; the actors themselves from the life beyond the tomb, who alone can give us knowledge of it, come to tell us what it is. These manifestations serve, then, to give us knowledge of the invisible world which surrounds us, of which, without them, we should not be aware of the existence. This knowledge alone should be considered of the highest importance, even supposing that the spirits were incapable of teaching us anything more.

If you should go into a strange country by yourself, would you reject the teachings of the most humble peasant whom you chanced to encounter? Would you refuse to interrogate him about the state of the land because he was only a peasant? You would not expect from him, certainly, intelligence of a very high character; but such as it is, and in his sphere, he will be able, upon certain points, to give you better than a wise man who does not know the country. You will draw from his indications sequences which you could not do of yourself. He will have been at least a useful instrument for your observations, had he served only to make known to you the customs of the peasants. It is the same in connection with the spirits, where the lowest can teach us something.

62. A common incident will explain the matter better.

A ship loaded with emigrants departs for a far-distant locality. It carries men of all conditions, the relatives and friends of whom remain at home. One learns that the ship has been wrecked. No trace remains of it; no news is obtained in regard to its fate. It is thought that all passengers have perished; and mourning is in all the families. However, the entire company, without the loss of a single soul, has landed upon an unknown soil, which is abundant and fertile, where all live happily under favoring skies; but their friends are ignorant of their fate. Now, one happy day another ship reaches their shore; it finds all the shipwrecked ones safe and well. The happy news spreads with lightning-like rapidity. Each one says, “Our friends are not lost;” and they give thanks to God. They cannot see each other; but they correspond, exchange testimonies of affection, and joy succeed to sadness.

Such is terrestrial life and life beyond the grave before and after modern revelation. The latter, like the second ship, carries to us the good news of the survival of those who are dear to us, and the certitude of one day rejoining them. Doubt in regard to their fate and our own exists no more; discouragement is effaced by hope.

But other results are added to enrich this revelation. God, judging humanity mature enough to penetrate the mystery of its destiny and to contemplate with composure new marvels, has permitted the veil between the known and the unknown worlds to be raised. The fact of the manifestations has nothing supernatural about it: it is the spiritual humanity that comes to talk to humanity in the flesh, and to say to it:

“We exist; nothingness exists not. Behold that which we are, and that which you will be; the future is the same for you as to us. You walk in darkness; we come to throw light upon your way, and to prepare it before you. Terrestrial life was all you could comprehend, because you saw nothing beyond. We come to say to you, in showing the spiritual life to you, the earthly life is as nothing. Your sight was arrested at the tomb; we come to show you the splendid horizon beyond it. You knew not why you suffer upon Earth; now, in suffering you see the justice of God. Goodness was unfruitful for the future; it will have henceforth an object, and will be a necessity. Fraternity was only a beautiful theory; it is now firmly established as a law of nature. Under the empire of the belief that death ends all, immensity is void, egotism reigns master among you, and your watchword is, “Each one for himself.” With certitude of the future, infinite space is peopled with infinitude. Emptiness and solitude do not exist; solidarity joins all beings both this side and beyond the tomb together. It is the reign of charity with the device, “One for all and all for one.” Instead of bidding an eternal farewell to dear friends at the close of life, you will now say, “Good bye till I see you again.”

Such are the results of the law of the new revelation. It has come to fill the void which incredulity has deepened, to revive hope where it is withering into doubt and a perspective of annihilation, to give to everything a reason for existing. Is this result, then, without importance because the spirits come not to solve scientific problems, and to give to the indolent the means of enriching themselves without trouble? However, the fruits which man ought to gather from it are not only those for a future life; he will extract good from the transformation that these new beliefs ought to work in his character, his tastes, his tendencies, and, in pursuance of which, upon his habits and social relations. In putting an end to selfishness, pride, and incredulity, the way is paved for the blessing, which is the reign of God announced by the Christ. *



__________________________
* The use of the article before the word Christ (originating from the Greek Christos, anointed), employed in the absolute sense is more correct, as this word is not the name of the Messiah of Nazareth, but a quality considered substantial. One would then say: Jesus was Christ; he was the Christ announced. The death of the Christ, and not of Christ. Conversely, one can say: the death of Jesus and not of the Jesus. Together the two words Jesus Christ form one single noun. For this same reason one can say: The Buda Gautama acquired the dignity of Buda due to his virtues and his austerities; the life of the Buda. Just as one can say: army of the Pharaoh, and not of Pharaoh; Henry IV was king, the title of king; the death of the king, and not of king.

Related articles

Show related items
Wait, loading...