Fragments translated from the English by Ms. Clémence Guérin *
Spiritism in America accounts for a number of very renowned individuals who have assessed its scope from the beginning and have seen in it something more than merely manifestations. Among them we find Judge Edmonds, from New York, whose writings on these important subjects are much appreciated and still not known enough in Europe due to lack of translation. We are grateful to Ms. Guérin for giving us an idea about these writings based on some fragments that were published in her brochure, and at the same time we regret the fact that she had not finished the work in a more comprehensive translation. She also adds some not less remarkable extracts from Dr. Hare, of Philadelphia; who was also one of the first to make a statement of faith regarding the new revelations. Ms. Guérin lived in America for a long time where she saw the production and development of the first manifestations, and she is one of those sincere and conscientious spiritists, judging everything with calmness, coolly and without enthusiasm. We have the honor of having met her in person and we gladly give her here the much deserved testimony of our profound admiration. By the fragment of her preface transcribed below one can see that our opinion is thoroughly justified.
“Like the Americans, we have a deep faith and radiant hope that this Doctrine, so eminently based on charity (not alms, but love), is the one that will regenerate and pacify the world. Never before has fraternal solidarity been so clearly demonstrated and more seductively. The spirits come to reassure us, help us, teach us and indicate to us the best use of our faculties, in seeing to the future; the spirits are evidently so much altruistic that one cannot hear them without feeling the need to imitate them; without reaching out to others, willing to share the benefits that we have so generously been given. The human being does so with much more good will when he finally understands that it is the price to pay for his own advancement and that he only enjoys the merit of his own actions in the great book of God, aiming at the moral or material well-being of his brothers and sisters. What the spirits are successfully at doing right now has already been attempted several times on Earth by noble hearts and courageous souls but who were and still are unknown or ridiculed. People now have an idea about their devotion but this only happens when they disappear and then have a chance of being assessed with impartiality. That is why God allows them to continue their work after what we call death. It is an opportunity to repeat from Andrew Jackson Davis: ‘Brethren, fear Not: for Error is mortal and cannot live; Truth is immortal and cannot die!’
The passage below from Judge Edmonds will show how accurately he had foreseen the consequences of Spiritism. One must not forget that he wrote it in 1854, a time when Spiritism was new in America as it was in Europe.
“Others will evaluate if my deductions are true or false. My objective will be achieved if by speaking about the effects produced in my spirit by these revelations I give rise to the desire in some people to also investigate them, and thus bring new light into the study of these phenomena since up until now the most vehement adversaries, who hout against the imposture, these are also the most obstinate in their resolution to not hear or read anything about this subject; the most adamant to remain in complete ignorance about the nature of the facts. People that uphold the reputation of knowledge, if not Science, are not ashamed for providing explanations that satisfy no one, based on superficial observations carried out with such a light-heartedness that would make a young student blush. However, this new power connected to the human being is not something indifferent and it will undoubtedly have a considerable influence on good or evil.”
“And we can already see that since its origin just five years ago the spiritualist idea propagated with a speed that the Christian religion did not equal in a hundred years. It does not seek deserted places, is not surrounded by mysteries, but comes openly to people inviting a detailed examination, not demanding a blind faith but recommending the exercise of reason and free judgment at all times.”
“We saw that the attack of the philosophers could not shake a single believer; that the sarcasm of the press and the anathemas of the Academy are equally powerless to stop its progress and, most importantly, we can already attest its moralizing influence. The true believer always becomes a wise and better person because it was demonstrated to him or her that the existence after death has been positively proven. All of those, who have carried out serious and sincere investigations on the subject, have found irrefutable proof. How could it be otherwise? Here you have an intelligence that speaks to us every day. It is a friend (In general, Americans begin by talking to relatives or friends.) He proves his identity by a thousand circumstances, leaving no room for doubts and through recollections that only he may have. He speaks about the consequences of the Earthly life and paints the future life with such rational colors giving an assurance that he is telling the truth since it agrees with our innermost ideas of divinity and the duties imposed on us.”
“Our loved ones are not separated from us after death and they are often close to us, we are helped and consoled through the hope of a certain reunion. How many times have I heard them, through me or through others! How many desolated people I have seen calmed by the gentle certainty that the beloved relative ‘brought back by the bonds of love is around them, whispering in their ear, gazing upon their soul, conversing with their spirit?’
“Consequently, death is stripped from the entourage of mysterious and undefined terrors with which it was surrounded by those who expect more from the degrading passion of fear than from the noble feeling of love. Note that in passing, regardless of the variations in the teachings of the new philosophy, every disciple agrees that death is not a threatening specter but a natural phenomenon; a transition to an existence that is free from a thousand ailments of the material life and from the barriers that confine them to a single planet, the spirit may travel the infinity of the worlds and set flight to the regions where the Glory of God is actually visible.”
“It is equally demonstrated that our most secret thoughts are known by those who were our loved ones and that continue to watch over us. It is in vain to try to escape this terrible inquisition by its benevolence. One cannot doubt it even if they wanted too. Often I was stunned and shuddered at the unforeseen but irrefutable revelation that our most intimate thoughts and conscience may be examined by the very ones from whom we wanted to hide our weaknesses.”
“Isn’t that a healthy obstacle against having bad thoughts, criminal acts that in their majority are carried out because the guilty mind was assured by these words: ‘Nobody will know...’? If anything can confirm this truth so terrifying to some, it is the memory that all of us experience after a good deed, even when it was a secret: an inner satisfaction that cannot be compared to anything else. They know well because the left hand ignores what the right hand did. It is then rational to assume that if our friends may congratulate us, they can also reproach us; if they see our meritorious actions they also see our mistakes.”
“By this we do not hesitate in attributing the incontestable and uncontested fact that there is not a single believer that has not become a better person. Our future destiny depends on our conduct. Not on our adhesion to this doctrine or other particular religious sect, but on our submission to this great precept: LOVE GOD AND THY NEIGHBOR… We must not postpone our conversion. We have to work towards our own salvation, not later but now; not tomorrow but today.”
“There is nothing more reassuring, more strengthening to a virtuous soul in the trials and vicissitudes of this life than the thorough assurance that one’s future happiness depends on one’s actions, actions that can be guided. On the other hand, the wicked, the vicious, the cruel, the selfish and especially the selfish will endure self and mutual torments, torments that are worse than a material hell, something that even the most deranged imagination could ever imagine.”
* Large brochure, 18-in, price 1 franc. Dentu Edition, Palais Royal, Galerie D’Orléans