1. The time appointed by God has arrived, is said to us on all sides, where great events have been accomplished for the regeneration of humanity. In what sense is it necessary to understand these prophetic words? To the incredulous they are of no importance; to their eyes, it is only the expression of a puerile belief without foundation; for the greater number of the believing, they have something mysterious and supernatural, which seems to be the harbinger of the overturning of the laws of nature. These two interpretations are equally erroneous, – the first, in that which implies a denial of Providence; the second, in that these words announce no perturbation of the laws of nature, but their accomplishment.
2. All is harmony in creation. All reveals a foresight, the effects of which are wanting neither in the smallest nor largest of God’s works. We must then, firstly, discard irreconcilable caprice with the divine wisdom. Secondly, if our epoch is marked for the accomplishments of certain things, it is because there is a reason for their accomplishment in the onward march of all things.
Our globe, like all which exists, is submitted to the law of progress. It progresses physically by the transformation of the elements which compose it, and morally by the purification of the incarnated and discarnated spirits who people it. The progress of the two is a parallel one; for the habitation becomes perfected according to the degree of perfection of its inhabitant. Physically, the globe has been submitted to transformations, ascertained by science, which have successively rendered it habitable for beings more and more perfected; morally, humanity progresses by the development of intelligence of the moral sense and gentleness of manners. At the same time, as the improvement of the globe has been accomplished under the empire of material forces, men have concurred in it by the efforts of their intelligence. They have learned how to make unwholesome localities healthy, rendering communications with one another easier and the soil more productive.
This double progress is accomplished in two ways, one slow, gradual, and insensible; the other by sudden changes, to each one of which has been operated a more rapid upper movement, which mark, in distinct characters the progressive periods of humanity. These movements, subordinate in details to the free will of man, are in a measure necessary or inevitable in their relation to the whole, because they are submitted to laws like those operated in the germination, growth, and maturity of plants. This is why the progressive movement is sometimes partial – that is to say, limited to a race or one nation – at other times general.
The progress of humanity is effected then by virtue of a law. Now, as all laws of nature are the eternal work of wisdom and divine prescience, all which is the effect of these laws is the result of the will of God – not of an accidental, capricious will, but an immutable one. Then, when humanity is ripe to take a higher degree in progression, one can say that the time appointed by God has arrived, as one speaks of the harvest season as having arrived with the maturity of its fruit.
3. While this progressive movement of humanity is inevitable, because it is natural, it does not follow that God is indifferent to it, and that, after having established laws, he is now in an inactive state, leaving things to take care of themselves. His laws are eternal and immutable without doubt, but only because his will itself is eternal and constant, and that his thought animates constantly all things. His thought which penetrates all things is the intelligent and permanent force which keeps all in harmony. If this thought should one moment cease to act, the universe would be like a clock without a pendulum. God watches, then, incessantly over the execution of his laws; and the spirits who populate space are his ministers charged with the details according to the unfoldment of their functions in their degree of advancement.
4. The universe is at the same time an incommensurable mechanism, conducted by a number no less incommensurable of intelligences, an immense government, where every intelligent being has his active part assigned him under the eye of the Sovereign Master, whose unique will maintains unity everywhere. Under the empire of this vast regulating power, all moves, all operates in perfect order. That which seems like perturbations to us are partial and isolated movements, which appear irregular only because our sight is circumscribed. If our vision could embrace the whole, we would see that these irregularities are only apparent, and that they harmonize with all.
5. Humanity has already accomplished incontestable progress. Men by their intelligence have attained to a knowledge of the sciences, arts, and material comforts never reached before. An immense progress still remains for them to realize, which is to make charity, fraternity, and union reign among them in order to assure to them their moral well-being. They could never accomplish this progress with their present beliefs, their superannuated institutions, which are remains of another age, good for a certain epoch, sufficient for a transitory state, but which, having given all that it has to give, would only be a hindrance now. It is not only the development of intelligence which is necessary to men, it is the elevation of sentiment; and for that reason it is necessary to destroy all that which excites in them undue selfishness or pride.
Such is the period upon which they are entering, and which will mark one of the most important phases of humanity. This phase, which is being elaborated at this moment, is the necessary complement of the preceding state, as the manly age is that of youth. It could then be foreseen and predicted in advance, and thus they say that the times appointed by God have come.
6. In these times a partial change is not being enacted, a renovation limited to one country, to one people or nation, or one race. It is a universal movement which is operating in moral progress. A new order of things is being established, and the men the most opposed to it are in their ignorance working for it. The future generation, rid of the dross of the old world, and formed of purer elements, will find itself animated with ideas and sentiments entirely different from the present one, which is passing away with gigantic strides. The old world will die, and live in history, as that of the Middle Ages, with its barbaric customs, is remembered in the present.
Each one knows that we all desire something different from the present order of things. After having exhausted in some respects the good which is the product of intelligence, one comes to comprehend that the complement of this well-being can be only in moral development. The more one advances, the more one feels that which is missing, without, however, being able to define it clearly. It is the effect of the interior work which is being effected for regeneration. We have desires and aspirations which are the prelude to a better condition.
7. But change as radical as that which is being elaborated cannot be accomplished without commotion. There will be an inevitable conflict in ideas. From this conflict will forcibly arise temporary perturbations, until the rubbish be cleared away, and the equilibrium be re- established. It is, then, from a battle of ideas that these grave events will arise, and not from cataclysms, or purely material catastrophes. The general cataclysms were the consequence of the state of formation of the Earth. Now it is no more the center of the globe which is agitated, but that of the humanity.
8. If the Earth no longer has to fear general cataclysms, it is nevertheless still subject to periodical revolutions; their causes, from a scientific point of view, are explained by the following instructions given by two eminent spirits: *
“In addition to obeying the ordinary laws that preside over the division of days and nights, seasons, and the like, each celestial body is subject to revolutions that require thousands of centuries to reach full completion. Analogous to brief revolutions, these long-term upheavals pass through all periods, from birth until those phases of utmost effect. After reaching such potential a decrease to the lowest limit occurs; then the cycle starts all over again.
Humanity only apprehends the phases of relatively short duration whose periodicity can be proved. Some of these revolutions, however, embrace lengthy creations of beings and even successions of races; consequently, their effects have the appearance of novelty and spontaneity. But if man could project his vision back some thousands of centuries he would see amidst these causes and effects a correlation he could hardly anticipate. Nevertheless, these periods, which confound the human imagination due to their relatively long duration, last only instants in the everlasting duration of eternity.
In a planetary system each body that constitutes the system reacts with the others, and all physical influences are mutually dependent of each other. In fact, there aren’t any effects that you would consider as great disturbances that are not the consequence of the set of influences of the system as a whole.
I go further and say that planetary systems also react with each other; this is because of the proximity or distance resulted from their orbital movement through the myriads of systems comprising our nebula. In addition, our nebula, which is like an archipelago in the immensity of space, having also its own orbital movement through a large number of other nebula, is also subject to the influences of those nebula it approaches.
Therefore, nebula react on nebula and systems react on systems; planets react on planets, and the elements of each planet react with each other; and thus successively down to the atom. Whence in each world we have local or general revolutions that do not appear to be disturbances only because life’s brevity allows us to perceive only their partial effects.
Organic matter could not escape these influences; the disturbances it suffers can thus alter the physical state of living beings and, in general, determine some of the diseases that attack plants, animals and humanity. We remark that these diseases, like all plagues, act as stimulants to propel the human intelligence, by need, to search for means to combat them and to discover the laws of nature.
Organic matter in turn has an effect on the spirit; through its contact and inner connection with the material elements, the spirit also suffers influences that modify its dispositions. This fact, however, does not deprive it of its free will, but rather accelerates or attenuates its activities, thus contributing to its development. The effervescence manifested from time to time in a population, among people of the same race, is neither a fortuitous occurrence nor the result of a whim, but has its origin in the laws of nature. This effervescence, which is unconscious at first and only a vague desire, a non-definite aspiration towards something better or a need for change, is characterized by a silent agitation; later on, however, it brings about acts that lead to social revolutions. As everything is interconnected in the universe, be certain that these revolutions, like physical revolutions, also have their periodicity. If your spiritual vision were not restricted by the veil of matter, you would see the fluidic currents that, like thousands of conductive wires, links together things of the spiritual world to those of the material world.
When you are told that humanity has arrived at a period of transformation, and that the Earth must rise within the hierarchy of worlds, do not find anything mystical in these words but, on the contrary, see it as the fulfillment of one of the greatest fatal laws of the universe, against which all ill-disposition of humanity collapses.” Arago
* Extracted from two communications given at the Société de Paris and published in the “Revue Spirite,” October 1868, pg. 313. They are consequence of Galileo’s message, reproduced in Chapter VI and complementary of Chapter IX about the Globe’s revolutions.
9. Yes, certainly, humanity changes, as it has changed at other times; and each transformation is marked by a crisis which is, for mankind, similar to the crises of the growth of individuals. These transformations are frequently sorrowful and painful, and take along with them generations of people and institutions; nevertheless, they are always followed by a phase of material and moral progress.
“Because earthly Humanity has reached one of these periods of growth, it has been working vigorously at its transformation for nearly a century. Whence we see it stirring from side to side, as if captured by some kind of fever and propelled by an invisible force. In such a state it will remain until it has again stabilized itself on its new foundation. Whoever shall see it then will find it greatly changed in its habits and character, in its laws and beliefs; in short, in all its social state.
One thing that will seem strange to you, although it is the absolute truth, is that the world of the spirits, a world that surrounds you, experiences the aftershocks of all commotions that agitate the world of incarnate beings. I even say that the former takes an active role in these commotions. This fact should bring no surprise to those who know that the Spirits comprise of one body with humanity; that they may leave it, but must eventually return to it. It is thus natural that they should take an interest in the movements that occur among mankind. Be certain that when a social revolution takes place on Earth, it agitates the invisible world alike, wherein all passions, good and bad, are intensified. Just as it happens among yourselves, inexpressible effervescence starts to reign among the community of spirits that still belong to your world and that await the moment to return to it.
As everything is linked together in Nature, to the agitation of incarnate and discarnate beings, quite often, it is added the disturbances of the physical elements as well. Whence, for a while there exists a true general confusion, which passes through like a hurricane. Henceforward heaven reacquires its usual serenity and Humanity, reconstituted on its new basis and imbued with new ideas, proceeds with its new phase of progress.
It is within this period that is now in progress that Spiritism will flourish and bear its fruits. Thus, you are working more for the future than for the present. Still, it was necessary to prepare the work in advance, as it prepares the way for regeneration, through unification and rationality of beliefs. Blessed are those who profit from it today. So much will be gained and so many sorrows avoided.” Dr. Barry
10. From what precedes above we conclude that in consequence of their orbital movement through space, the celestial bodies exert upon each other a greater or lesser influence, according to their mutual proximity and respective positions; and that this influence can cause momentary disturbances to their constituent elements and modify the conditions of vitality for their inhabitants. Additionally, the regularity of these movements determines the periodical return of the same causes and effects; that while some periods are too short to be perceived by men, other periods go through generations and races who do not perceive them and consider them to be the normal state of things. In contrast, generations contemporary to these transitions suffer their effect and feel that everything is beyond the ordinary laws; they believe them to have a supernatural, marvelous, and miraculous cause, albeit they are simply the fulfillment of the laws of Nature.
If by the sequence and reciprocity of causes and effects these periods of moral renovation of Humanity shall also coincide with the physical revolutions of the globe, as everything leads us to think, then such periods can be accompanied or preceded by natural phenomena, which appear strange to those who are not accustomed to them, by the appearance of strange meteors and by the recrudescence and unusual intensification of deadly plagues. Still, these occurrences are neither a cause nor a supernatural omen; instead, they are the result of the general movement that takes place on the physical and moral world.
When predicting the era of restoration that would open to Humanity and mark the end of the old world, Jesus affirmed that it would be announced by extraordinary phenomena and by earthquakes, by a variety of plagues and by signs from the skies – these being simply meteors, without any abrogation of the natural laws. Nevertheless, ordinary and unaware people saw in these words a prediction of miraculous facts. *
* An extraordinary and abundant rain of shooting stars occurred in 1866 which terrified the inhabitants of Maurice Island. This occurrence preceded the terrible epidemic that from 1866 to 1868 decimated the population of the Island. The illness that was spreading in a benign way for a few months developed into a devastating plague. This was a real sign from the skies; it is perhaps in this meaning that we must understand the phrase “stars falling from the sky,” which is said in the Gospel as being one of the signs of the times. (Details of the epidemic of Maurice Island: Revue Spirite of July of 1867, pg. 208, and November of 1868, pg. 321).
11. The prediction of Humanity’s progressive movements offers no surprise for dematerialized beings who foresee the purpose and tendency of all things; considering, still, that some of them have direct knowledge of God’s thoughts. Through partial movements these beings are able to predict the time that such generalized movements could occur; like a man can calculate beforehand the time a tree will take to bear fruits; and an astronomer can predict the time of an astronomical phenomenon by the time a celestial body takes to achieve its revolution.
12. Humanity is a collective being, in whom is operated at the same moral revolutions as in each individual being, with this difference: one is accomplished from year to year, the other from century to century. Let one follow it in its evolutions through time, and one will see the life of the diverse races marked by periods which give to each epoch a particular physiognomy.
13. The progressive march of humanity is operated in two ways – the gradual, slow, and insensible, if one considers well the epochs which have drawn to a close, which is expressed by successive ameliorations in manners, laws, and customs, which do not fully unfold themselves until after a long space of time, like the changes which currents of water bring to the face of the globe; the other, by movements relatively sudden and rapid, similar to a torrent breaking its barriers, which enables it to jump over in a few years the time which it otherwise would have taken centuries to go over. It is, then, a moral cataclysm which engulfs in a few instants the institutions of the past, and to which succeed a new order of things which little by little become fixed by measure as tranquility reestablishes itself, and becomes positive.
To him who lives long enough to embrace the two sides of the new phase, it seems that a new world is sprung from the ruins of the ancient one. The character, manners, customs, all are changed. It is true that new men, or better still, regenerate ones, have sprung up. The ideas swept away by the generation which is extinct have made place for new ideas in the generation which is being educated.
14. Humanity is becoming adult. With new needs, more elevated and larger aspirations, it comprehends the emptiness of the ideas with which it has been fed and the insufficiency of its institutions for its well-being. It finds no more, in the existing state of things, the legitimate satisfactions to which it has been called. For this reason it shakes off its swaddling-clothes, and bounds, aided by an irresistible force, towards unknown shores to the discovery of new horizons less limited.
It is one of those periods of transformation, or of moral growth, which has reached humanity. From adolescence it passes to the manly or virile age. Past ideas cannot suffice for its new aspirations, for its new needs. It can no more be led by the same means. It pays no more for illusions and magical unrealities. For its ripe reason something more substantial is necessary. The present is too ephemeral. It feels that its destiny is more vast, and that corporeal life is too restrained to enclose it entirely. For this reason it looks deeply into the past, and into the future also, to discover the mystery of its existence, and draw from it a consoling security.
It is at this moment, when its material sphere is too narrow for it, when the intellectual life outruns it, when the sentiment of spirituality expands itself, that men calling themselves philosophers hope to fill up the void left by belief in nothing beyond this life and in materialism, strange aberration! These same men, who pretend to be pushing on in advance, are striving to circumscribe the limits of the narrow circle of matter from whence humanity aspires to extricate itself. They shut off the view of the infinite life, and say to it, as they point to the tomb: “There is nothing beyond.”
15. Whoever has meditated upon Spiritism and its consequences, and circumscribes it not to the production of a few phenomena, comprehends that it opens to humanity a new way, and unrolls to it infinite horizons. By initiating it into the mysteries of the invisible world, it shows to it its true role in creation, a perpetually active one, as well to the spiritual state as to the corporeal one. Man marches blindly no more. He knows from whence he came, where he is going, and why he is on Earth. The future show its reality to him, rid of the prejudice of ignorance and superstition. It is no more a vague hope; it is a palpable truth, as certain to him as the succession of day and night. He knows that his being is not limited to a few instants of an ephemeral existence; that the spiritual life is not interrupted by death; that he has already lived, that he will live again, and that of all he has acquired in perfection by labor nothing has been lost. He finds in his anterior existences the reason for that which now he is; and, by that which man is doing now, he can conclude that which he will be someday.
16. The idea that individual cooperation and activity in the general work of civilization have been limited to the present life, that one has been nothing and will be nothing, gives to man no incentive for the present or future. What matters it to him that in the future man will be better governed, happier, more enlightened, kinder to one another, since it bears no fruit for him? Is not this progress lost upon him? What good will it do him to work for posterity if he will never be acquainted with it, if it is composed of strangers who will, after a little, enter themselves into nothingness? Under the empire of a denial of a future for the individual, all forcibly shrinks to the narrow proportions of the moment and of personality.
But, on the contrary, what amplitude is given to the thought of man by a certainty of the perpetuity of his spiritual being? What can be more rational, grander, more worthy of the Creator, according to which the spiritual and corporeal life are only two modes of existence which alternate themselves for the accomplishment of progress? What can be more just, more consoling, than the idea of the same beings progressing without ceasing, at first through generations on the same Earth, afterwards, from world to world onward and upward to perfection, without solution of continuity? All actions have, then, an object; for, by working for all, one works for himself, and reciprocally. As long as individual or general progress is never sterile in its results, it is profitable to future generations and individuals, who are none other than the past generations and individualities arrived at a higher degree of advancement.
17. Fraternity must be the cornerstone of the new social order. But there is no real, solid, and effective fraternity if it has not been supported upon an unchangeable base. This base is faith, – not the faith in such and such particular dogmas, which change with time and people, and at which the stone is cast, and in anathematizing it they sustain the antagonism to it, but the faith in fundamental principles which all the world can accept, – God, the soul, the future, individual progress as well as indefinite, the perpetuity of connection between individuals. When all men shall be convinced that God is the same to all; that this God, sovereignly just and good, can will no injustice; that evil comes from men, and not from him – they will regard themselves as children of the same Father, and will extend to him the hand.
It is this faith which is given to Spiritism, and which will henceforth be the pivot upon which human beings will move, whatever be their mode of adoration and their particular beliefs. 18. The vast proportion of intellectual progress which has been accomplished is a great step, and marks the first phase of humanity; but alone, it is impotent to regenerate it. So long as man will be governed by pride and selfishness he will use his intelligence and his knowledge for the profit of his passions and personal interests. For this reason he applies them to the perfection of means for injuring others and of destroying them.
19. Moral progress alone can assure the happiness of men upon the Earth by putting a rein upon their bad passions. It alone can make harmony, peace, and fraternity reign between them.
It is this which will break down the barriers between them, which will destroy the prejudices of caste, silence the antagonisms of sects, by teaching men to regard themselves as brothers called to aid one another, and not to live at the expense of one another.
It is moral progress, seconded by the progress of intelligence, which will lead men to one belief established upon the eternal truths, not subject to discussion; and for this accepted by all.
The unity of belief will be the most powerful bond of union, the most solid foundation for universal fraternity, which has always been broken by religious antagonisms, which divides people and families, which makes one see in a neighbor a person to avoid – one to combat, exterminate – instead of a brother whom we should love.
20. Such a state of things supposes a radical change in the sentiment of the masses, a general progress which could be accomplished only by departing from the circle of narrow ideas, and quitting the ground which fosters pride. At different epochs superior men have sought to lead men into this way; but humanity, yet too young, has remained deaf, and their teachings have been like good seed fallen among stones.
Now humanity is capable of looking higher then it has done, in order to assimilate larger ideas, and comprehend that which it had never before comprehended.
This generation which will disappear will carry with it its prejudices and errors; the generation which is being educated has drunk at a purer spring, is imbued with healthier ideas, will impress on the world the ascensional movement by way of moral progress, which must mark the new phase of humanity.
21. This phase is already revealed by unmistakable signs, by attempts at useful reforms, by grand and generous ideas which are brought to light, and which commence to find echoes. Multitudes of protective, civilizing, and emancipating institutions are founded under the management and by the introductory movement of men evidently predestined to the work of regeneration; while each day the penal laws seem to be impregnated with a more humane sentiment. The prejudices of race are weakened. Nations commence to regard themselves as members of one great family. By the uniformity and facility of the means of transaction, they abolish the barriers which divide them. In all parts of the world they unite in universal assemblages for pacific interchange of sentiments.
But to those reforms a base is missing to complete, develop, and consolidate them – a more general moral predisposition in order to bear fruit, and to be accepted by the masses. It is no less a characteristic sign of the time, the prelude of that which will be accomplished upon a larger ladder by measure, as the ground will become more propitious.
22. A sign no less characteristic of the period upon which we enter is the evident reaction in spiritualistic ideas. An instructive repulsion is manifested against materialistic ideas. The spirit of unbelief, which was carrying away the masses, ignorant or enlightened, and had made them reject with the form even the true basis of all faith, seems to have been asleep, on the awakening from which one experiences a need of breathing a more life giving air. Involuntarily, where the void has been made, one seeks something, a support, a hope.
23. If one supposes the majority of men imbued with these sentiments, one can easily figure the changes it would bring on social relations – charity, fraternity, kindness towards all, and tolerance for all beliefs: such will be their motto. It is the end towards which humanity is evidently tending without being very sure of the means of realizing them, it tries, it counts the pulse, but is arrested by active resistance, or the force of the inertia of the prejudices of stationary beliefs which are opposed to progress. These are resisting forces, which it must vanquish; and it will be the work of the new generation. If one follows the present course of things, one will recognize that all seems predestined to prepare the way for it. There will be the double power of number and of ideas, and, moreover, the explosion of the past.
24. The new generation will march them to the realization of all compatible humanitarian ideas with the degree of advancement to which it will have reached. Spiritism marching towards the same end, and realizing its views, they will meet each other in the same ground. Men of progress will find in the ideas of the spiritists a powerful lever, and Spiritism will find in men new minds entirely disposed to welcome it. With this state of things, what will those do who would desire to place an obstacle in its way?
25. It is not Spiritism which creates social renovation; it is the maturity of humanity which makes this renovation a necessity. By its moralizing power, by its progressive tendencies, by the liberality of its views, by the generality of the questions which it embraces, Spiritism is, more than any other doctrine, qualified to second the regenerative movement; for that reason it is contemporary with it. It has come at the moment when it could be useful; for it also is the time arrived. Sooner, at an earlier date, it would have encountered insurmountable obstacles. It would have inevitably succumbed, because men, satisfied with that which they had, had not experienced a need for that which it brings. Now, born with the movement of fermenting ideas, it finds the Earth prepared to receive it. Spirits, tired of doubt and of incertitude, frightened by the gulf that opens before them, welcome it as an anchor of salvation and a supreme consolation.
26. The number of those who have not joined our ranks is still great without doubt; but what can they do against the rising wave, except to throw a few stones at it? This wave is the generation which is being educated by it, while those who do not believe will disappear with the generation which is rapidly passing away. Until that they will defend every step of the ground. There is then an inevitable contest, but an unequal one; for it is that of a decrepit past, which falls into fragments against the juvenile future; of stagnation against progress; of the creature against the will of God – for the times appointed by him are come.