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.”