The Spiritist Review - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1861

Allan Kardec

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Speech Given by Mr. Sabò

“Ladies and gentlemen,

Let us pay tribute to God with our sincere acknowledgement for having cast upon us a paternal and benevolent glance, giving us the precious favor of receiving the teachings of the good spirits who, in turn, come every day to help us to distinguish between the truth and the mistake; to give us assurance of future happiness; show us that the punishment is proportional to the offense, but not eternal, helping us to understand this fair and equitable law of reincarnation, the key to the vault of the spiritist building, serving our purification and helping our progress towards good.

I said reincarnation! But to make it more understandable, let us give in a moment to speak with one of our spiritual guides who out of pure kindness will give us instructions about this serious matter and interesting subject for our poor humanity. He says: ‘Reincarnation is hell; reincarnation is purgatory; reincarnation is atonement; reincarnation is progress. Finally, it is the sacred ladder that every man must climb. The steps are the phases of the several existences to cover to get to the top, for God has said that to get there one needs to be born, die and born again until the limits of perfection are reached and that nobody will reach it if not purified by reincarnation.’

Spiritism, being still new to science, we had only good will and enthusiasm to propagate it. A pleased God blessed our efforts by germinating in the hearts of some of our brothers from Bordeaux the seed of the divine word. In fact we have been involved with the practical science since January and we have seen a number of brothers establishing a link with us, brothers who were doing it in isolation; others who heard about it through the voice of the press, or the fame, this far-reaching trumpet, which is responsible for knowing the arrival at all points of our city of this consoling faith, indisputable testimony of God’s benevolence towards His children.

Despite the difficulties we encountered on the way, strong of purity and righteousness of our convictions, supported by the advices of our beloved and venerable leader, Mr. Allan Kardec, we have the rewarding satisfaction after nine months of apostolate and with the help of some of our brothers to meet today in your presence to inaugurate this Society that, I hope, will continue to bear fruits abundantly and spread like a benevolent dew onto the hearts dried by materialism, hardened by selfishness, full of pride, and will take the balm of resignation to those in suffering and affliction, to the poor and disinherited of earthly goods, saying: ‘Have trust and courage! Earthly trials are a short duration compared to the eternity of happiness that God reserves for you.’

Yes, I confess out loud that I am happy for being the interpreter of a large number of members of the Spiritist Society of Bordeaux, reaffirming our fidelity in following the road that is drawn to us by our dear missionary present here, since we understand that to be consistent, progress must take place gradually and that fighting certain ideas that come from centuries ago we would only send away our spiritual emancipation. It is possible that we may find divergent opinions about it among us. We respect them. In our opinion we must advance step by step following the wisdom of the nations: chi va piano va sano. It is possible, we will arrive later but we will have more certainty because we will not have broken from the faith of our ancestors, always sacred to us, whatever it may be. Let us use the light of Spiritism not to abate but for our own betterment, for our progress. Withstanding with courage and resignation the vicissitudes of this life in which we are only passing through and will merit the favor at the end of our trials, of being led by the Spirits of the Lord to enjoy immortality for which we were created.

Allow me, dear master, in the name of the members of this Society who surround you, to thank you for the honor of having come in person to inaugurate this family reunion, that is a party to all of us and that will make history, no doubt, in the archives of Spiritism. Also, may you equally receive that this day remains stored in our hearts and in a very special way the most sincere expression of our recognition for the paternal kindness with which you have encouraged our feeble work. You were the one who drawn the path which we gladly followed, convinced beforehand that your mission is to make our beautiful France advance spiritually which at the same time will incite other nations of on the earth, helping them to reach happiness, little by little, through moral and intellectual progress.”

Some Considerations about Spiritism Read at the general session on the occasion of the visit of Allan Kardec to Bordeaux

by Dr. Bouché de Vitray

There are certain times when an idea leads the world, preceding those cataclysms that transform people and nations. Even more than an idea that presides over the material interests, the religious idea also takes part in the big picture of the social movement. Frequently absorbed by material concerns, it happens suddenly or unnoticeably. Sometimes it is the lightning that escapes from the clouds, sometimes, the volcano that silently mines the mountain before crossing the crater. It affects another type of manifestation these days. After having shown up as an almost imperceptible point in the horizon of ideas, it ended up by invading the atmosphere. The air is impregnated by it. It crosses the spaces, fertilizes intelligences and touches the whole world. No, I am not using metaphors as an expression of reality. No. It is a phenomenon that one is aware of but that is difficult to translate into words. It is like a fluid that compresses us from all sides, something vague and fuzzy whose influence is felt by everyone, and that impregnates the brain and frequently comes out of the mind as if intuition, rarely formulated as a thought. The religious idea, I mean the spiritist idea, finds its place at the office of the businessman, of the doctor, of the lawyer, the general attorney, in the workshop of the worker, in the fields as in the barracks. The name of our great, our dear spiritist missionary is on everyone’s lips, as his image is in every heart and all eyes are now staring at this pinnacle, honorable interpreter of our Lord’s ministers. Wouldn’t this idea that spreads all over the place, that excites all human brains, that exists even instinctively in the most obstinate incarnate spirits, wouldn’t that be the work of this crowd of intelligences that surrounds us, preceding and facilitating our apostolic works?

We know that the testimony of legitimacy of our Doctrine goes back to the dawn of time; that the sacred books, fundamental basis of Christianity, report them and that several fathers of the Church like Tertullian and Saint Augustine, among others, attest its reality. The contemporary books themselves mention that and I cannot resist the temptation of citing a passage from a book published in 1843 that seems to publically expose the whole quintessence of Spiritism: ‘Some people doubt the existence of superior intelligences, incorporeal, the otherwise geniuses who preside over the administration of the world, and that entertain a private exchange with some privileged beings. The lines below are addressed to them. I hope it helps to convince them. In all kingdoms of nature there is a law that scales the species, from the infinitely small to the infinitely large. It is through imperceptible levels that one transitions from the insect to the elephant; from the grain of sand to the largest cosmic body. Such regular gradation is evident in every sensible work of the Creator; thus it must also be present in his masterpiece so that the scale is continual and leads to him! The prodigious distance between inert matter and rationality seems to be occupied by the organic world but deprived from the noble prerogative. In the infinite distance between people and the Creator there is the dwelling of the pure spirits. Their existence is indispensable for the accomplishment of creation in all senses. Thus, there is also the world of the spirits whose variety is as wide as the shining stars in the skies; there is also the universe of intelligences that through their subtleness, service and broadness, get gradually closer to the sovereign intelligence. His design, already manifested in the organization of the visible world, continues up until the final completion in the invisible world. Every religion proclaims the existence of these immaterial beings. They all represent them involved with human matters, as their secondary agents. Denying their intervention in the human’s incidents is evidently denying the facts upon which the beliefs of all peoples rest, all philosophers and all wise people since ancient times.’

There is no doubt that the person who painted this image was a spiritist from the bottom of his soul. This incomplete drawing lacks the dogma of reincarnation as well as the moral consequences that the teaching of the spirits has brought to the followers of Spiritism. The Doctrine existed as intuition in the minds and hearts. You came, Sir, as the elected of God. The Almighty added righteousness and a privileged mediumship to a vast erudition, to an elevated spirit. All elements of the eternal truths were disseminated in space. It was necessary to establish the Science; take conviction to the still undecided minds; compile the inspirations coming from the Almighty into a substantial body of doctrine. The work progressed and the pollen escaping from that intellectual stem produced the fertilization. Your name is the flag under which we position ourselves. Today you come in support of the children of Spiritism who are only beginning to pronounce the principles of this Science but to whom a large number of benevolent spirits do not deny their favors with their celestial inspirations. Amidst the congress of intelligences from the two worlds – and we congratulate ourselves for that – the bad passions rebel before the works of regeneration. The false knowledge, pride, egotism and human interests stand up against Spiritism, in a demonstration of power, while God, the great engine of this ascending progress towards heavenly regions, hidden behind the clouds of hateful and chimeric theories, remains calm and continues his work.

The work is in progress and spiritist centers are formed in all corners of the planet. Young people abandon the illusions of infancy that entails so much deception at a later stage; more mature people learn to take life seriously; older people who spend their emotions in the frictions of life fulfill their immense emptiness with more realistic pleasures than those left behind; and from all these heterogeneous elements the groups are formed, radiating to infinity. Our beautiful city was not the last one to take part in this intellectual movement. One of those righteous and sensible men took the initiative. His appeal was heard by other intelligences in harmony with his; around this luminous center the many other Spiritist circles gravitated.

Multiple communications appear from everywhere with the seal of the author: it is the mother that communicates with her beloved son from glorious spheres and with a myriad of details out of her infinite kindness; it is the father, or the grandfather, that adds the severity of the form to the paternal love; it is Fénelon speaking about charity and showing the beautiful hallmark of former times in the melody and prose of his language; it is the touching spectacle of a son that becomes a happy spirit revealing the echo of his elevated teachings to the very one who brought him to life; it is the mother who reveals herself to her son with her head crowned by stars, leading him from trial to trial to the place that he must occupy by her side in God, through the eternities (sic); it is the Archbishop of Utrecht whispering his eloquent inspirations to his protégé, submitting them to the impediments of orthodoxy; it is a certain angel Gabriel, homonymous of the great archangel, spontaneously taken upon him and with God’s permission the mission of guiding his brother, following him step by step and adding to his fraternal love the divine love of a superior spirit; it is the pure spirits, the saints, the archangels covering their sublime instructions with the seal of divinity; and finally the physical manifestations after which anyone’s doubt is just absurd if not profanation. After having raised our eyes to the superior levels of the scale of creatures, allow me dear colleagues, to look down to the infinitely small who will still give you lessons.

About ten years ago the clarity of Spiritism reached my eyes but it was Spiritism in its rudimentary state, stripped from the main documentation and without the characteristic know-how. It was a reflection, a few rays of fine radiation. It was not light yet. Instead of using the pencil to obtain quick communications through a simplified method, one was still resorting to rapping’s at the table and indirect writing. The table was not but an appendix of the hand and such means of communication were generally rejected by superior spirits, keeping them away. Thus I only found mystification, trivial or obscene answers, and I therefore stayed away from those mysteries from beyond the grave, converted into things that were much below my expectations, or even better, into something that terrified me. Several trials were carried out leading to similar results. However, those apparent deceptions were not but temporary tests that had the definitive consequence of rooting my convictions. Despite all that, the positivism of my studies had affected my philosophical beliefs. I was skeptical but not ‘pyrrhonic’ since I doubted with great sorrow, uselessly making efforts to repel the materialism that had unexpectedly taken over my soul and my heart. How impenetrable are God’s designs! It was precisely that moral setting that served my transformation. I had the immortality of the soul before my eyes presenting itself like a material fact and to establish this new faith why bother if the manifestations would come from a superior or an inferior spirit, as long as coming from a spirit! Didn’t I know already that an inert body like a table can be the instrument and not the cause of an intelligent manifestation? That it was not absolutely in the sphere of my own ideas and that no fluid theory was good enough to explain?

Hence, I had shaken off those materialistic tendencies against which I fought unsuccessfully with a desperate energy and would have frankly explored those intellectual regions that were just envisaged had it not been for the devil phobia of Mr. de Mirville and the profound impression it had left in my soul. To counter that it was necessary to have this unbelieving luminous, substantial work, full of reassuring truths, dictated by celestial intelligences to an incarnated spirit, but an outstanding spirit to whom his mission on Earth has since been revealed.

Today my recognition obliges me to write on this page the name of one of my good friends who opened my eyes to the light, Mr. Roustaing, a distinct and particularly conscientious attorney, destined to an important role in the history of Spiritism. I owe him this short tribute of acknowledgment and friendship. If I were not afraid of abusing the time in this ceremony I would certainly cite numerous communications of unquestionable interest. However, in this purely intellectual activity and above our unstoppable communications with the world of the spirits there are two facts that exceptionally protest against an absolute silence. The first one is about intimate and touching details that led us to tears; the second, given the strange nature of the phenomenon, belongs to the clairvoyant mediumship, constituting such a tangible proof that we would have to deny the good faith of the mediums if we wanted to deny the reality of that fact.

I and some eager spiritists get together weekly to study and take broader advantage of the teachings given by the Doctrine of the spirits. Plentiful of faith and the similarity of studies and education of the majority of the group gave rise to a reciprocal sympathy and a communion of thoughts, therefore leading to the most favorable moral and intellectual dispositions to receive serious communications.

In one of those sessions someone endowed by a remarkable level of mediumship wanted to evoke the spirit of a little girl that had died of croup, I believe, when she was six years old. He served as the medium and I as the evoker. The evocation had just finished when we heard some percussion in a piece of furniture in an adjacent room; it excited our attention leading us to question if the uncommon noise was provoked by natural causes or if it was originated by a spiritist cause. The guides responded that it was caused by Estelle’s (the girl’s name) companions that came to introduce themselves to her friend. In our minds we followed that graceful entourage floating in space. We were given the name Antonia, a young lady among them who had just passed through Earth and whose life had been taken by a wrongly committed murder when she had just turned four. Predicting that they would complete their trials in a new existence, I prayed to my guardian angel, that good mother whose kindness never failed me, to take them under her care and to clearly show them their heavenly protection. It did not take long for the help to arrive but God allowed her to show up to one of them only and she chose Antonia:

• What do you see my little friend – I asked evoking the latter.

• Oh! What a beautiful lady! She is resplendent of lights!

• And what is the beautiful lady telling you?

• She says: ‘Come to me, my dear, I love you!”

That is why I represented this kind mother with a head crowned by stars. If this touching story that belongs to the world of the spirits seems to be a chapter of a novel to you, then one must deny every communication.

The other fact may be summarized in two words: I was with one of my spiritist colleagues. It was eleven thirty at night and we were praying to God for the suffering spirits when I vaguely saw a shadow moving away from a corner of my office, following a diagonal line extending up to my bed in the adjacent room. When the path was covered we heard a very distinct crack and the shadow moved on to the library, forming an acute angle with the initial direction. I was taken by emotion but given that I was involved by emotions and mystery, I initially thought that it was hallucination or optical illusion and said to myself that I should keep quiet about the fantastic apparition when my companion of continuous studies looked at me and asked if I had not seen anything. I was confused but decided to wait for a better opportunity thus limiting myself to question him the reason for his question. He then described the strange phenomenon that he had also witnessed and with such accuracy that it was impossible for me to doubt it and to let go the confirmation of the reality of that apparition. Two days after that we had the presence of a great medium with us. Consulting with the guides they confirmed the fact adding that the spontaneous apparition was that of a spirit that when on Earth had the name Maria de los Angeles. We were allowed to evoke her and responding to our questions she said that she had been born in Spain where she was a nun; her life had been censored for a long time, but a serious mistake, that death had not given her a chance to atone was the cause of her suffering in the world of the spirits. A few days later by chance, or even rather, God’s will, gave us a second observation of that strange event. A spiritist, a young mechanic of remarkable intelligence, had spent the latter part of the afternoon with me. While I was speaking with him I noticed that his eyes were remarkably fixated. He did not wait for the question to explain the situation: ‘While you were looking at me I clearly saw the silhouette of a woman moving from the window to the couch nearby, then kneeling. She had the appearance of twenty five years of age; she was dressed in black; her torso was covered by a cape; her head was covered by some sort of handkerchief or bonnet’

The description matched perfectly well with the idea I had of the Spanish nun and the place where she kneeled was more or less the place where I usually pray to God for the dead. To me it was Maria des los Angeles. I have no doubt that the unbelievers and the false spiritists will laugh at my certainty and will identify three visionaries in the event, instead of one. As for the sincere spiritist those will believe me particularly when I give my word for that. I give nobody the right to doubt similar testimony.

The work of Spiritism in Bordeaux, regardless of how modest and reserved they may be, are not less subjected to public curiosity and not a single day goes by that I am not questioned about it. Every profane person impressed by the spiritist phenomena insistently demands the favor of a trial; his soul floats between his own doubts and the conviction of followers.

I introduced one person into a serious meeting of spiritists who showed profound worship and reverence, showing the seriousness of the circumstance. What would be the reaction? Will an experienced medium be able to make that person accept the message inspired by a superior spirit? I had one of those embarrassing experiences. If the message has the seal of a divine inspiration the person will attribute it to the merit of the medium. If the message of God’s ministers takes the nuances of that of the medium to whom it is revealed, it will certainly look like something purely human.

In such a case here is my rule of conduct. It was previously outlined by this providential man, by this missionary of ideas that we momentarily have among us and who will from his habitual center of activities irradiate upon us the celestial treasures that a special grace has made him the source. To the curious one who comes to inquiry about the reality of the facts or request an audience as a distraction or an emotion that passes through the heart but does not stay, I limit myself to expose the seriousness of the subject. To the pseudo-wise spirit that in my opinion represents well those of the 8th class, 3rd order of the spiritist scale, I answer with no intention of allowing that person in, but the one who may still be obsessed by doubts but who foresees the truth in its germinal state, showing a goodwill to have faith, I then advise the theoretical studies which will soon lead to the practical studies or experimentation. Hence, as soon as a new fact stems out of a new idea that person keeps that side by side with the fact; then the spiritist science gradually penetrates his mind and his heart; these are works and trials that alternate in the two existences in a shiny eternity that takes place before the eyes of God, the source of life and happiness!

Bouché de Vitray,
doctor in Medicine

Speech by Mr. Allan Kardec
October 14th, 1861

“Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with pleasure that I have accepted your invitation and the warm welcome that I have received from you is one of those moral satisfactions that leave a deep and unforgettable impression in the heart. If I feel happy with this cordial reception it is because I see in it a tribute to the Doctrine that we profess and to the good spirits that teach it to us much more than to me personally who is only a mere, simple instrument in the hands of Providence. Convinced about the truth of this Doctrine and the good that it is destined to do, I worked towards the coordination of its components; striving to make it clear and understandable to all. That is all I am supposed to do and I have never considered myself its author. The honor is entirely due to the spirits. You must then address your testimonies of gratitude to them. I don’t accept the praises that you in good faith address to me but only as encouragement to continue my task with perseverance.

I was certainly helped by the spirits to do the work I had to do to achieve the previously established objective, as they had told me themselves several times, but without any signs outside of mediumship. Thus, I am not a medium in the vulgar sense of the word and today I see that as reason for celebration that it is so. With an effective mediumship, I would have written under the same influence; I would have been led to accept as true only what had been given to me and perhaps mistakenly, whereas in my position it was convenient that I had absolute freedom to learn what was good wherever it came from and regardless of its source. Therefore I was able to make a selection among the many teachings without prevention and with complete impartiality. I saw a lot, I studied a lot, I observed many things but always with impassible eyes and my desire was nothing more than to see the experience that I was able to acquire working to the benefit of others to whom I am happy to help in avoiding the hurdles that are inseparable of any initiation.

If I worked a lot and if I still work daily I am rewarded by the fast advancement of the Doctrine whose progresses far beyond any expectation, by the moral results that it produces, and I feel happy for seeing the city of Bordeaux is not behind in this movement but prepares to progress at the head, given the number and the quality of its followers. If we consider the fact that Spiritism advances on its own strength without the support of any means that normally gives good results, and despite the struggles of a systematic opposition, or even better, due in reality to such efforts, I cannot help it but to see the finger of God in all that. If its enemies are dangerous but were not capable of paralyzing its development, one must realize that Spiritism is more powerful than those and like the serpent in the fable it is useless to apply their teeth against a steel plate.

If we say that the secret of its power rests on God’s will those who don’t believe in God will laugh. There are also many people who don’t deny God but consider themselves more powerful than God. Those don’t laugh but oppose barriers that they consider impassable; nonetheless Spiritism defeats them every day and before their eyes. Fact is that Spiritism takes an irresistible force from its very nature, its true essence. What is then the secret of such a force? Do we have to hide it for being afraid that once it is revealed its enemies can defeat Spiritism like what happened to Samson? Absolutely not. There are no mysteries in Spiritism. Everything is done outside in day light and can be fearlessly and openly revealed. Although I have already said that, it might not be inconvenient to repeat here so that everyone will know that if we reveal the secret of our strength to our adversaries it is because we also know their weak spot.

The strength of Spiritism has two fundamental causes: the first one is that it makes people happy, those who get to know it, whom understand and practice it; now, since there are lots of people unhappy it recruits a true army among those in suffering. Do they want to subtract Spiritism from such a means of propagation? They must then make people as much happy materially and morally and they will no longer wish anything else both in this world as well as in the next one. We don’t ask for more since the objective would have been achieved.

The second reason is the fact that Spiritism is not founded on the head of any person that may be knocked to the ground; that there isn’t a single focal point to be extinguished; that its focus is everywhere for there are mediums all over the place that can communicate with the spirits; that there isn’t a single family that could not have them in their heart and that may these words from Jesus become reality: ‘Your sons and your daughters will prophesize and they will bear visions’; finally because Spiritism is an idea and there is no impassible barrier to ideas and not even high enough so that they cannot be transposed. Christ was killed; his apostles and disciples were killed but Christ had issued the Christian idea to the world and such idea triumphed over the persecution of the omnipotent Caesars. Why then Spiritism that is no more than the development and application of the Christian idea would not triumph over some mockers and antagonists who, up until now and despite their efforts, were only able to oppose a sterile reaction? Is there a chimeric pretension on that? The dream of a reformer? There you have the facts to respond: despite everything and against everything Spiritism spreads everywhere. Like the fecund pollen of the flowers it is taken by the winds and set root in all corners of the world, because it finds fecund soil everywhere in the suffering and upon which it spreads its consoling balm.

Suppose, therefore, the most absolute imaginable state that recruits every possible means of stopping the spread of an idea; Does it prevent the spirits from entering the premises of a home and there manifesting spontaneously? Does it prevent the formation of mediums in the intimacy of the families? Suppose it to be strong enough to prevent any writing, to prohibit the reading of books; can it stop people from hearing, since there are hearing mediums? Does it prevent the father from receiving the consolations of his lost son? You then see that this is impossible and that I was right by saying that Spiritism can fearlessly reveal the secret of its strength to its enemies.

Be it, they will say. When something is unavoidable one must accept it. However, if it is a false and bad idea, isn’t there reason to block it? To begin with one would need to prove that it is false. Well, up until now what do the adversaries oppose? Mockery and denial that, in good logic, have never been taken as arguments. But a serious and solid refutation; a categorical and evident demonstration, where can you find it? Nowhere. Not even in the criticism of Science or elsewhere.

On another hand when an idea propagates with the speed of light; when it finds a large number of echoes in the most educated classes of society; when it has roots in all peoples and since there is people on Earth; when the greatest philosophers, sacred and profane proclaim it then it is logical to suppose that it is not only founded on lies and illusions. Every sensible person or that is not blindfolded by passions or personal interests will say that there must be something true about it and that it is sensible to at least suspend one’s judgment before the denial.

Is the idea bad? If it is true, or just the application of the laws of nature then it seems difficult that it is something bad unless one admits that God makes bad things in creation. How can it be a bad doctrine when it makes people who profess it better; that it consoles the afflicted, that it appeases the effervescence of passions and precludes suicide? Some say that it is contrary to religion. That is the big word they use to try to scare away the timid and those who don’t know it. How can a doctrine that makes people better; that teaches the Christian moral; that only preaches charity, forgetfulness of offenses and submission to God’s will, how can that be contrary to religion? It would be nonsense. Affirming such a thing would be the same as condemning religion itself. That is why I say that those who say such things don’t know the Doctrine. If that were the outcome why then it would lead those who believe in nothing to religious ideas? Why would it lead to prayer someone who had forgot it since their infancy?

In fact there is another peremptory answer: Spiritism opposes every dogmatic issue. To the materialistic it demonstrates the existence of the soul; to those who believe in nothing it demonstrates the eternal life; to those who believe that God does not get involved with people’s businesses it demonstrates the future penalties and rewards. By destroying materialism Spiritism destroys the most important social ulcer. That is its very objective. With respect to particular beliefs Spiritism does not deal with that and gives total freedom for their individual choice. Materialism is the greatest enemy of religion. By leading people to spiritualism, Spiritism covers three quarter parts of the way to get to the heart of the Church. It is up to the Church to do the rest. But if people are rejected by their religion of choice then it is not strange that another one is sought. By saying these things, ladies and gentlemen, I am preaching to the choir and you know that, as well as I do. But there is another point about which is useful to say a few words.

If the external enemies cannot do anything against Spiritism, that is not the case with those inside. I refer to those who are more spiritist by name than in fact, not to mention those who just use the mask of spiritists. The most beautiful side of Spiritism is the moral side. It is through its moral consequences that it will triumph since that is the realm of its strength and invulnerability. Its banner reads: Love and Charity and before such palladium even more powerful than that of Minerva since it comes from Jesus, even incredulity bends over. What can be opposed to a Doctrine that leads people to love one another like brothers? If the cause is not admitted one must at least respect the effect. Well, the best way to test the reality of the effect is by applying that to oneself; it is demonstrating to the enemies of the Doctrine, by example, that it has really made you better. But how can one convince that an instrument may produce harmonious sounds if its sounds are dissonant? Thus, how can one persuade others that Spiritism must lead to concord if those who profess it or supposedly profess it which to the adversaries is the same thing throw stones on one another? If a simple susceptibility of self-love, of hierarchy is enough to divide them? Isn’t that a way of destroying ones’ argument? The worst enemies of Spiritism are then those who lie to themselves, not practicing the law that they announce. It would be puerile to create dissidence based on nuances of opinion. Dissidence for personal reasons reveals evident malevolence by forgetting the first duty of a true spiritist, knowing that the exaltation of personality is the fruit of pride and selfishness.

We must not forget, ladies and gentlemen, that the enemies of Spiritism belong to two orders. From one side you have the jokers and the incredulous. These are contradicted daily by the facts. You must not be afraid of them. They unwillingly serve our cause and we must thank them for that. At the other end are those who have interest in combating the Doctrine. Don’t expect to persuade them since they don’t seek enlightenment. It is useless to unfold the evidence of the Sun before their eyes. They are blind because they don’t want to see. They don’t attack you because you are mistaken but because you are with the truth and right or wrong they believe that Spiritism is harmful to their material interests. If they were persuaded that it is a chimera they would leave it alone. Hence, their bloodthirsty behavior worsens in proportion to the progress of the Doctrine so that one can measure its importance by the violence of their attacks. While people only saw Spiritism as pass time of turning tables they said nothing and counted on the shortness of fashionable things. Now that they see the insufficiency of their mockery, despite their bad will, the try other means. Those means, whatever they are, have demonstrated their impotence. Nonetheless one cannot muffle the voice that becomes loud in all parts of the world and if they cannot stop this torrent that invades them from all sides they will do everything they can to create hurdles and if they are able to force progress to move backwards for a single day they will still say that the game is over in their favor.

You should then expect that the terrain would be disputed inch by inch since the material interest is the most tenacious. For that interest the most sacred rights of humankind are nothing. You have a proof of that in the American struggle. The union that was our glory may fall but not our interests! That is what the proslavery say. That is what the enemies of Spiritism say since the humanitarian question is the last of their concerns. What can we oppose them with? A flag that makes them pale once they know it comes from Jesus: Love and Charity, and these words are his ruling. May all spiritists unite around this flag and they will be strong for union is power. You will then recognize the true defenders of your cause not by words that cost nothing but by the practice of the law of love and charity; by the abnegation of personality. The best soldier is not the one who raises the sword higher but the one who has the courage to sacrifice his own life. Everyone who tries to spread among you the poison of discord is joining the ranks of the enemy and voluntarily or involuntarily is supplying them with weapons against you. In any case don’t count on them more than on those bad soldiers who run away at the first shot.

However, you will say, if the opinions about some points of the Doctrine are divided how can we know on which side is the truth? This is the most difficult thing. To begin with have your judgment by weight and a healthy and inflexible logic by measure. Then you will have the support of the majority. Rest assured that the growing or decreasing number of followers of a given idea gives a measure of its value. If it were false it would not conquer more followers than the truth since God would not allow it to be. He may allow the mistake here or there in order to observe our attitudes and to teach us to recognize them. Without that where would our merit be if there were no choices to be made? Would you like another criterion of truth? Here you have an infallible one. Considering that the flag of Spiritism is love and charity, you will recognize the truth by the practice of that maxim, and be sure that the one who throws stones on someone else cannot be with the absolute truth. If there would be divergences among you – God forbid – I tell you with sadness that I would openly distance myself from those who had left behind the flag of fraternity because to my eyes they could not be seen as true spiritists.

In any case don’t be concerned with some transient dissidence. You will soon have the proof that they don’t have serious consequences. These a trials to your faith and to your judgment; they are often means allowed by God and the good spirits to check the right measure of sincerity and to get to know those that they can really count on if necessary, thus avoiding having them in the vanguard. These are little stones spread on our way so that you can create the habit of verifying your supports.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I still have to talk about the Society. Since you would like to take my advices I will tell you what I said in Lyon last year. The same reasons lead me to discourage you with all my strength from the project of forming a single society, comprising all spiritists in town, something that would not be practicable given the growing number of followers. It won’t be long until you to feel the limitations of the material obstacles and also the moral difficulties which are even greater, and all that would show you the actual impossibility. It is better not to initiate something that you would be forced to renounce. Every consideration that support this opinion are thoroughly developed in the new edition of The Mediums’ Book that I invite you to verify. I will only add a few words about that.

Something that is difficult to obtain in a session with a large number of members is much less difficult in private groups. These are formed by affinity of tastes, feelings and habits. Two separate groups may have different ways of seeing some details but that is not a reason to have disagreements whereas if they were all together the divergence of opinions would bring unavoidable disturbances.

The system of multiplication of groups still has the advantage of stopping the disputes for supremacy and presidency. Each group is naturally presided by the owner of the house or by designation and everything takes place in a family-like environment. If the high direction of Spiritism in a given city needs someone then that person will be called by the force of things and a tacit agreement will designate her very naturally as a consequence of personal merit; of her conciliatory qualities; of her enthusiasm and devotion that she must have given proof of; of the real services done in favor of the cause. That person even not seeking it will then acquire a moral strength that nobody will contest because it will be recognized by everyone, whereas someone that tried to impose herself based on a private authority or who were dragged by a lobby would find strong opposition from all of those who did not acknowledge such moral qualities in that person. There you have an avoidable cause of divisions. It is something really serious to trust someone with the direction of the Doctrine. Before doing that one must be really sure about that person from every point of view; with wrong ideas the Society could be dragged down onto a slippery ramp and even perhaps its ruin. In the private groups each one can demonstrate their skills and be designated later by peers’ vote, if needed. But nobody can become a general without the experience of the soldier. Like the good general that is known for his courage and talents the true spiritist is recognized by his or her qualities. Well, the first quality that must be proven is the abnegation of personality. Hence it is more by acts than words that such a person will be recognized. What one needs for such direction is a true spiritist and the true spiritist is not moved by ambition or self-love. With that respect, ladies and gentlemen, I call your attention to the several categories of spirits whose distinctive characters are clearly defined in The Mediums’ Book (#28).

In fact whatever the nature of the meeting, large or small, the conditions that must be fulfilled to reach the objective are the same. There is where we have to concentrate our attention and those who fulfill that will be strong because they will necessarily have the support of the good spirits. Such conditions are in The Mediums’ Book (#341). A very frequent mistake made by the new followers is that of judging themselves masters after a few months of study. Spiritism is a great science, you know well, and experience in its practice cannot be acquired in a short time as with everything else. Such pretension of not needing advice and considering themselves above everybody else is a proof of insufficiency as it runs away from one of the first precepts of the Doctrine: modesty and humility.

When the bad spirits find similar dispositions in an individual they always stimulate and super-excite them, persuading that person that she is the only one with the truth. It is one of the hurdles that may be met and against which I thought convenient to forearm you, adding that it is not enough to be spiritist as it is not enough to call oneself Christian. It is necessary to prove that in practice.

If by the formation of groups individual rivalries are avoided couldn’t such rivalry exist between the groups that walking a little bit divergent paths could produce dissent whereas in a unique society we would have the unity of principles? I respond that such inconvenient would not be avoided for those who did not adopt the principles of the society would stay away from that and there would not be anything that would preclude them from spinning off, forming another group. The groups are other small societies that will certainly march on the same avenue if all adopt the same flag and the foundations of the Science, consolidated by experience. I also call your attention to item 348 of The Mediums’ Book. As a matter of fact there is nothing precluding delegates from the several private groups to form a central group and a direct correspondent with the Parisian Society. Then, every year a general assembly could gather all followers and then rendering a true party of Spiritism. I have prepared a detailed instruction about those several points that I will have the honor of sending you later both about the organization and the order of the works. Those who follow it will naturally remain in the unity of principles.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are my advices to you since you were kind enough to request them from me. I am happy to add that I found here in Bordeaux excellent elements and a much greater progress than I expected. I found here a large number of true and sincere spiritists and I take away from my visit the founded hope that our Doctrine will develop on the most ample bases and in excellent conditions. I promise you that my support will never fail you in anything that I can do to help the efforts of those who are sincere and consciously devoted in their hearts to this noble cause that is the cause of humanity.

The spirit of Erastus that you already know, ladies and gentlemen, for his remarkable dissertations that you have already read, he also wants to give you the tribute of his advices. Before I left Paris he dictated through his habitual medium the following communication that I have the honor of reading to you.”

First Epistle of Erastus, Humble Servant of God, to the Spiritists of Bordeaux
October 14th, 1861

“May the Lord’s peace be with you my dear friends, so that nothing may ever disturb the harmony that must rule in a center of sincere spiritists!

I know how profound is your faith in God and how eager followers you are of the new revelation. That is why I tell you with my warmest affection towards you that I would be devastated, we would all be devastated if under the auspices of the Spirit of Truth and as initiators of Spiritism in France we saw harmony disappearing from your environment, a harmony that you have so far demonstrated so brilliantly. Had you not given examples of a solid fraternity and if you were not a serious and important center of the great spiritist communion in France I would have left this issue in the shadow of forgetfulness. However, if I have brought that issue up is for having plausible reasons to invite you to the maintenance of union, peace and unity of the Doctrine among your several groups.

Yes, my dear disciples, I enthusiastically take this opportunity that we ourselves prepared to show you how dismal the news of a fissure would be for the development of Spiritism and the scandal that it would generate among your brothers of other regions, such news about a center that up until now has delightfully been used as an example of the spirit of fraternity to all other already formed centers or in formation. I don’t ignore the fact as you should not ignore either that everything will be done to spread division among you; that traps will be prepared; that you will find ambushes of all sorts along the way; that you will be incited one against the other to feed division thus entailing an always regrettable rupture. However, you can avoid all that by practicing the sublime precepts of the law of love and charity, first to yourselves and then to everybody else. I am convinced that you will not give the enemies of our sacred cause the satisfaction of saying: ‘Look at those spiritists from Bordeaux, who were presented to us as the vanguard of the march of the new believers! They cannot even agree with themselves!’ There you have it my friends; that is what is waiting for you and for all of us. Your excellent guides have already told you: ‘You will have to fight not only against the proud, selfish, materialistic and all of those unfortunate ones representing the spirit of the century, but also and more importantly against the flock of deceiving spirits that will find a group of mediums among you, since you have plenty of those, and soon will come to assault you, some with wisely prepared dissertations in which they will insinuate heresy or some acidic principle; other communications openly hostile to the teachings given by the true messengers of the Spirit of Truth. Ah! Believe me, don’t be afraid of unmasking the impostor that, like new Tartuffe, mingle with you covered by the mask of religion.

Be also ruthless with the devouring wolves hidden under the skin of sheep. With the help of God, who you must never invoke in vain and with the assistance of the good spirits for their protection you will be unbreakable in your faith. The bad spirits will find you invulnerable and when they see their darts torn apart by the love and charity, the drivers of your hearts, they will leave in astonishment after a campaign that only unveiled their impotence and shame. You will be invariably united by looking at any doctrine contrary to the moral of the Gospels and the general principles of the Ten Commandments as subversive, all summarized by this concise law: ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind and you must love your neighbor as yourself’. In fact one must comply with the common law in everything: nobody is supposed to subtract or impose their opinion and feelings when they are not accepted by other members of the same spiritist family. For that reason I strongly recommend that you mirror the practice and regulations of the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies where nobody, whatever his or her position, age, service rendered or acquired authority may utilize their own initiative in place of that of the Society to which they belong and with a greater reason engage the Society into something through maneuvers that were not approved. Having said that it is incontestable that the followers of the same group must show great respect towards the acquired wisdom and experience. Experience is not an exclusive attribute of the oldest or the wiser but of the one who has given more time and energy to our reassuring philosophy and with more benefit to all. As for the wisdom it is up to us to identify those among you that follow and practice the precepts and the laws in the best way.

However, my friends, before you follow your own inspirations don’t forget your advices and do consult with your ethereal guardians who will never fail you whenever you invoke them with your heart and with an objective that is of general interest. For that you need good mediums and the ones I see here are excellent; it is just a matter of choice. I know well that Mrs. and Ms. Cazemajoux and some others have mediumistic faculties of the highest degree and I repeat that there isn’t any other region better equipped than Bordeaux in that regard. I had to make some tough comments given the great expectation that the Spirit of Truth, the master of all of us, has on you. Remember that you are part of the spiritist vanguard and that the vanguard, like the Joint Chiefs of Staff, owes everybody an absolute submission to the established discipline.

Ah! Your work is not easy considering that you are assigned with the task of holding the axe with a strong hand and take it to the somber forests of materialism and move on to the last shelters of material interests. New Jasons march on to conquer the real brook of gold, the new and fecund ideas that must regenerate the world, but in that case you no longer march with the private interest and not even with that of the current generation but more importantly in the interest of future generations to whom you pave the way. There is a level of abnegation and greatness in this work that will be acknowledged by the centuries to come and believe me God will take that into account. I had to speak as I did because I talk to people who listen to reason; to persons who pursue an eminently useful objective: the betterment and emancipation of humankind; to spiritists that at the end of the day teach and preach through example and the best way to do that is by practicing the truly Christian virtues.

I had to tell you these things because it was necessary to show and forewarn you against a danger. I am doing my duty. I can now look at the future with confidence because I am convinced that my words will have an effect on everyone and each one of you and that selfishness, pride or vanity from now on will have no power upon your hearts where there will only be true fraternity.

You will remember spiritists of Bordeaux that your union is the true path to a universal union and fraternity. I feel really happy to clearly see that Spiritism has pushed you a step forward on its own. Our congratulations to you and I speak here in the name of all spirits that preside over the great work of human regeneration since your initiative has opened up a new field of exploration and a new safe mode in the studies of the phenomena from beyond the grave, based on your request for membership, not as isolated individuals but as a group, to the pioneering Society of Paris. Given the importance of this step I acknowledge the great wisdom of your main guides and I thank our kind Fenelon and his loyal supporters Georges and Marius that together preside over your devoted 40 Greek mythology (NT) study groups. I also take this opportunity to pay a sound tribute to the spirits Ferdinand and Felicia that you all know. Although these honorable co-workers have only done well for the good, you should know that it is due to these humble pioneers, seconded by the humble Marcelin that our sacred Doctrine has prospered so much in Bordeaux and in the South West of France. Yes, my loyal believers, your remarkable initiative will be followed; I know that well, by every seriously established spiritist group. Hence, it is a huge step forward. You understood, and others will do too, the advantages, the advancement and the propaganda that will result from the adoption of a uniform program for the works and studies of the Doctrine that we have revealed to you. Yet, it must be well understood that each group will preserve their originality and particular initiative, but outside their private works they will have to get involved with matters of general interest, submitting themselves to the exam of the central Society, thus resolving several difficulties whose solution have not yet been given by the spirits for reasons that would be useless to elaborate here.

I believe I would offend you by pointing out the consequences resulting from simultaneous work. Then, who would dare contest one truth when it is confirmed by unanimity or by the majority of the mediumistic responses obtained simultaneously in Lyon, Bordeaux, Constantinople, Metz, Brussels, Sens, Mexico City, Marseille, Toulouse, Mâcon, Sétif, Alger, Oran, Cracow, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Paris?

I spoke to you with the same unpolished sincerity with which I do to your brothers from Paris. Yet, I will not leave you before attesting my sympathies legitimately conquered by this kind family where excellent spirits in charge of your spiritual direction have had their eloquent words heard. I mentioned the Sabò family which endured the painful trial that God brought upon them with stability and unchangeable benevolence to elevate them higher and bring them up to the level of their present mission. I must also mention the dedicated support of all those who have contributed to the propagation of our reassuring Doctrine, in their respective spheres of action. My friends, keep up with your resolute march on the open path. It will certainly lead you to the ethereal spheres of perfect happiness where I will certainly meet you. In the name of the Spirit of Truth that loves you I bless you all, spiritists of Bordeaux.

Erastus


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