Ladies and gentlemen, all of you, my dear good brothers and sisters in Spiritism,
If there are circumstances when one can regret the insufficiency of our poor human language is when one does need to express certain feelings, and that is my position at this very moment. What I feel now is at the same time a very pleasant surprise when I see the immense terrain that the Doctrine has gained among you in just one year, and I am also impressed by the works of the Providence; it is an indescribable joy given the good produced here and the consolations cast upon so much disclosed or hidden sufferings from which I can foresee the future that lies ahead; I cannot express my happiness for being amidst this family that in a short time became so large and that still grows on a daily basis; finally and more importantly, it is with a profound and sincere gratitude that I receive your touching demonstrations of sympathy.
This gathering has a special character. I believe we are all good spiritists here, thank God, so that we don’t see but the pleasure of being together and not that of the good table. By the way, I should add in-passing that a spiritist party would be contradictory. I also presume that when you invited me with such grace and persistence to come here nobody thought that the feast would attract me. That was what I promptly clarified with my good friends Mr. Rey and Mr. Dijoud, at the time when they apologized for the simplicity of the reception. You must rest assured that what is a real honor to me in this event and something that I can rightly be proud of is the warmth and sincerity of your reception, something that is not easily found in the pageantry of the feasts, since here faces are not covered by masks.
If there is something that can diminish my happiness for being here with you, is the fact that I can only stay for such a short time. It would really please me to be able to stay longer in one of the largest and most dedicated centers of Spiritism; nevertheless, considering that you were willing to receive instructions from me you will certainly understand that I will utilize every moment and stay away from the common banalities of similar events and that my discourse will show certain gravity given the seriousness of the matter that brings us together. It would certainly be uncalled for to speak about souls, death and future life if this were a wedding or a ceremony of baptism. But, I insist, we are here more to learn than to eat and for sure not to have fun. Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen; the spontaneity that brought you together here is not just a purely personal matter. Have no doubt about it, this meeting is special and providential. It was motivated by a superior plan. Invisible hands have guided you here and they shall perhaps one day take part in the celebrations of Spiritism.
May our future brothers remember this remarkable day in which the spiritists of Lyon, giving an example of union and concord, planted the first milestone of allegiance in this banquet that must exist among all spiritists of the world for Spiritism, by reestablishing the true role of the spirit in the Creation and attesting the superiority of intelligence against matter, naturally suppresses any distinction established among human beings due to material and mundane advantages of classes and the stupid prejudices of color, all founded on pride. By enlarging the circle of family through the plurality of the existences Spiritism establishes a more rational human fraternity than the one only founded on the fragile bonds of matter since those bonds are perishable while the spirit is eternal.
Once well understood such bonds shall influence social relationships by the force of things and later on influence social legislation that shall be founded on the immutable laws of love and charity. The anomalies that today shock people of common sense will then disappear like the laws of the Middle Ages which shock us today. But that is the work of time. Let God take care of it and each thing will come at the appropriate time.
We can expect all that from God’s wisdom and let us praise God for having allowed us to witness the rising dawn of humanity and for having chosen us as the pioneers of the great work that is in preparation. May this assembly have God’s blessings, the first one in which the followers of Spiritism are gathered in such large numbers with a true feeling of fraternity. I say that because I am positive that nobody here carries a different feeling. But make no mistake there are flocks of spirits among us that hear us right now; that come from all nations; that probe each one of our thoughts and each one of our strengths or moral weaknesses. Their feelings and motivations are very disparate. If some are very happy with this gathering there are others I assure you that are incredibly envious. Leaving this place they will try to spread discord and dissension. It is up to all of us, good and sincere spiritists, to prove to them that they waste their time and that they are mistaken in believing that they will find here minds that are accessible to their perfidious suggestions. You must then eagerly invoke the assistance of your guardian angels to keep every bad thought away from you. Now, since good cannot be sourced out of evil the simple common sense indicates that every bad thought cannot come from a good spirit; a thought is necessarily bad when it is contrary to the law of love and charity; when it is driven by envy or jealousy, by a pride that is hurt or even by a puerile susceptibility of self-love, the twin brother of pride, making people look down on their brothers with disdain. Love and charity to all, Spiritism says; you shall love your brother like thyself, says Jesus. Aren’t these synonym expressions?
My friends, I have commended you for the progress of Spiritism among you and I could not be happier than I am now by witnessing it. Besides, you must also congratulate yourselves because the same progress takes place everywhere. Yes, this past year we saw Spiritism growing in every country in a proportion beyond expectations. It is in the air, in everybody’s aspirations, finding echo and a mouth that relays it everywhere. Here is a demonstration of what we were waiting for; here is what a hidden voice led me to foresee.
Progress now shows another phase, though: it is the phase of courage that did not exist some time ago. One would only speak about it through whispers and in secrecy. Today we confess to be spiritist as openly as one confesses to be Catholic, Jew or Protestant. Mockery is confronted with courage, courage that is imposed upon the deriders who are like little yappy dogs that chase people when people run away and in turn, run away when chased by people. That mockery gives courage to the timid and in many places it reveals spiritists who did not know one another. Can such a movement stop? Can they stop it? I say that out loud: No! They tried it with everything: sarcasm, mockery, science, and anathemas. Spiritism outshined them all and was not delayed a single second in its stride. Blind is the one who cannot see God’s finger on it. They may be able to hinder but never stop Spiritism, for if it cannot run its course on the right it will find its way on the left.
Observing the moral benefits, the consolations, and the crimes avoided by Spiritism we ask ourselves: who is interested in combating it? To begin with we have the unbelievers that try to ridicule Spiritism. Those are not to be feared for they have seen their sharpened spears breaking against their own armors. The ignorant that fight against it without knowing it are in larger numbers but the truth of Spiritism has never been afraid of ignorance for the ignorant combat themselves unwillingly as we gather from the testimony of Mr. Louis Figuier in his “Histoire du Merveilleux”.
The third category of adversaries is more dangerous since it is tenacious and deceitful. All those whose material interests may be harmed forms it. They fight in the shadow and have no lack of poisonous darts. These are the true enemies of Spiritism as they have been of every progressive idea at all times, and found in all ranks and echelons of society. Will they win? No, because it is not up to us to oppose the march of nature and Spiritism is in the natural order of things. Sooner or later they will have to change sides and follow what everybody else accepts. No, they shall not win. They shall be defeated. A new element now comes to join forces with the legion of spiritists: the working class. One must notice the wisdom of the Providence in this. Spiritism started its propagation in the educated classes, at the highest social echelons. This was necessary in the beginning to give credibility to Spiritism and to have it elaborated and stripped from the superstitious ideas that could be introduced by a lack of education and then be confused with superstition. Just after been established, if that can be said of a new science, it touched the working classes and now quickly spreading among them. Ah! That is why there is so much consolation to give, so much courage to reestablish, so many tears to dry, so much resignation to inspire that it was welcomed like an anchor of salvation, like an aegis against the temptations of need.
Wherever I saw it penetrating in the working classes I saw its moralizing effects. Cheer up workers of Lyon who hear me now for you have spiritist brothers in other cities like Sens, Lille and Bordeaux, brothers that like yourselves that have abandoned their shameful hope for disorder and their criminal desires for vengeance. You must continue to demonstrate through your example the constructive results of this Doctrine. To those who ask you what is to be expected of such a Doctrine you must answer: In my desperation I thought of killing myself, but that was curtailed by Spiritism since now I know the cost of voluntarily abbreviating one’s life and the God chosen trials to humankind. I used to get drunk to become numb but I understood how despicable it was to voluntarily erase my reason, precluding me from winning the family bread. I was divorced from all religious feelings. Today I pray to God and rest my hope on God’s mercy. My only belief was the nothingness as the supreme remedy to all my miseries. My father came back to me and said: Son, have courage! God sees you. A little bit more effort and you shall be saved! I kneeled before God and asked for God’s forgiveness. I used to accuse Providence when I saw the rich and the poor, people with everything and others with nothing. Today I know that God balances everything in the scale of justice and I wait for God’s judgment. If it is in God’s design that I must succumb to suffering, I will then succumb but with a pure conscience and without the remorse of having stolen the alms of someone that could have saved my life. Tell them: That is what Spiritism is good for, that madness, that chimera as you call it.
Yes, my friends, continue to preach Spiritism through the example. Make it understood by its healthy consequences and when it is finally understood it will no longer be feared by them. Much to the contrary, it will be received as a guarantor of the social order and the unbelievers themselves will be forced to treat it with respect.
I mentioned the progresses of Spiritism. In fact there is no example of a doctrine, whatever it may be, that has propagated with such a speed, including Christianity itself. Does it mean that Spiritism is superior? No. But this is the place to establish its true character so as to destroy a much generalized prevention among those who don’t know it.
Christianity had to fight a terrible force since its inception: Paganism that was universally spread in those days. There wasn’t any possible alliance between them as there isn’t between light and darkness. In one word, Christianity could not propagate but through the destruction of what was there before. Thus, the fight was long and dreadful and the persecutions are a proof of that. Spiritism, on the contrary, has nothing to destroy since it sits on the foundations of Christianity and on the Gospels of which Spiritism is a simple application. You must understand the circumstantial advantage and not superiority. Hence, it is not a new religion as some people pretend it to be because they don’t know it, or a new sect that is formed by taking advantage of older ones. It is a purely moral Doctrine with no dogmas and that allows each person the entire freedom of religion since it imposes none. A demonstration of that is the fact that its most enthusiastic followers are among the most devoted Catholics as among Protestant, Jews and Muslims.
Spiritism is based on the possibility of communication with the invisible world that is with the souls. Well, since the Jews, the Protestant, the Muslims they all have souls like we do, it follows that the souls can communicate with them as they do with us and that consequently they can be spiritists as we are. It is not a political sect as it is not a religious one. It is the verification of a fact that does not belong more to a particular party than electricity or the railroads do. It is, I repeat, a moral doctrine and as such it is in all parties and in all religions. Is such moral good or bad? Is it subversive? That is the question. One must study to learn about it. Now, since it is the development and application of the moral of the Gospels its condemnation would be the condemnation of the Gospels.
Has it done good or bad? Study it and it shall be unveiled. What has it done? It has precluded innumerous suicides; it has reestablished peace and harmony in a large number of homes; it has tamed and taught patience to many violent and raged people; it has given resignation to those who lacked it and consolation to the ones in suffering; it has led to God those who did not know him, destroying their materialistic ideas, a true social ulcer that annihilates the moral responsibility of a person. That is what Spiritism has done and does every day and will do even more in the future as it spreads out.
Could that be the result of a bad doctrine? I am not aware of anyone who has attacked the moral of Spiritism. The only thing they say is that religion can produce it all. I agree perfectly with that. But then why hasn’t religion always produced that? The reason is that not everyone understands it. Well, since Spiritism makes it clear and intelligible to all what is not clear and intelligible and turns obvious what was doubtful, it then leads to the application, whereas nobody feels compelled to doing something that is not understood. Therefore, far from being antagonistic to religion, Spiritism supports it. A proof of that is that it leads people to religious ideas, people who had repelled those ideas. In summary, Spiritism has never advised anyone to change religion or sacrifice their beliefs. It does not really belong to any religion or better still, it is present in all of them.
Ladies and gentlemen, still a few words, please, about an absolutely practical question. The growing number of spiritists in Lyon shows the utility of the advice I gave you last year with respect to the formation of the groups. Gathering every follower in a single society today would be something physically impossible given the distances to cover, the size of the cities, as well as the differences in habits given the different social positions. For those reasons and many others that would take long to develop here, a single society is an impracticable chimera. You must multiply the groups as much as possible. Let there be a hundred if needed and rest assured that you will get there faster and safer.
There would still be here important things to be said about the unity of principles; about the divergence that there could be among them with respect to some points but I stop here to avoid abusing your patience in listening to me, patience that has already been tested at length. If you wish I can prepare a special instruction about it and send that to you soon.
I conclude, ladies and gentlemen, this speech, which I allowed myself to be carried away given the rarity of this occasion and that, I am fortunate enough to share that with you. I will carry with me the memory of your benevolent welcome, a memory that I will never forget you must be assured. Still once more, my friends, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for the signs of sympathy that you have demonstrated to me; thank you for the kind words addressed to me by your interpreters and from which I only accept those that refer to the duty imposed upon me and that I still have to accomplish but not the praises. May this ceremony be the landmark of the union that must exist among all true spiritists!
I propose a toast to the spiritists of Lyon and to all of those distinguished persons among you for their dedication, their devotion and their abnegation, those who were pointed out by you yourselves without the need of my indication.
To the spiritists of Lyon, without distinction of opinion, those present and those absent!
Ladies and gentlemen, the spirits also wish to participate in this family like gathering and have a say. Erastus that you know from his remarkable dissertations published in our Review has spontaneously dictated in your intention and before my departure the following communication, putting me in charge of reading it to you in his name. I accomplish that mission with pleasure. You will then have the proof that the spirits who communicate with you, are not the only ones concerned with you and with your problems. Such certainty must reinforce your faith and trust seeing that the watchful eyes of the superior spirits reach everyone and that without any shadow of doubt you are also the object of their solicitude.