DISSERTATIONS BY SPIRITS. On Spiritism. - Mediums. - Meetings. - Apocryphal Communications.
We have brought together, in this chapter, various communications spontaneously made, by various spirits, through the involuntary writing of different mediums, completing and confirming the principles laid down in the present work. We might quote a much greater number of such communications, but we confine ourselves to those which refer more particularly to the future of spiritism, to mediums, and to Spiritist Societies. We give them, both for the sake of the instruction they convey, and as specimens of the kind of communications which may justly be called "serious." We conclude with a few apocryphal communications, followed by remarks intended to assist the reader in recognizing them as such.
"Have confidence in the goodness of God, and endeavor to open your eyes to the comprehension of the influences that are ushering in a new life for the inhabitants of your globe. You will not enjoy this new life in your present incarnation; but will you not rejoice, even though you should not have to live again upon the earth, to contemplate, from some higher sphere, the development of the work begun by you in your present existence? Let a firm and unwavering faith nerve your arms against the obstacles which threaten to impede the building of the edifice of which you are laying the foundations. That edifice will be indestructible; for Christ has laid its cornerstone. Courage, builders who are working out the plan of the Divine Architect ! Work on; God will crown your labor. But remember that Christ denies the pretended disciples whose charity is only of the lips. It is not enough to believe; you must set an example of kindness, helpfulness, disinterestedness, or your faith will prove sterile, and you, yourselves, will reap from it no advantage."
"It is Christ Himself who is directing the labors of every kind that are being accomplished for bringing in the approaching era of renovation and elevation which your spirit-guides predict for your earth. If you look beyond these spirit-manifestations to the events that are occurring around you, you cannot fail to perceive, in the progress of all kinds now being made in your earth, the precursory signs which should convince you that the time predicted for that renovation has arrived.
"Communications are being opened, by land and sea, between all countries and peoples; and, when the physical barriers between them shall have been overthrown, the moral barriers of political and religious prejudices which kept them apart will also disappear, and the reign of fraternity will be firmly and durably established. The sovereigns themselves, impelled by an invisible hand, are seen, at the present day - a thing hitherto unheard of in your world-taking the lead in the inauguration of reforms; and reforms that are thus spontaneously begun from above will be at once more rapidly accomplished, and more durable, than those which are begun from below and by violence. Despite the prejudices of my childhood and education, despite my reverent affection for the past, I had a presentiment of the present epoch; I rejoice in it, and I rejoice still more to be able to come to you and to say:
Courage, brothers! Work for your own future, and for that of those you love; work, above all, for your own personal improvement, and you will enjoy, in your next existence, a happiness which it would be as difficult for me to describe as for you to understand."
"It appears to me that spiritism may be regarded as a philosophical study of the secret springs and inner movements of the soul, that have hitherto bee so little understood. It explains even more than it reveals. Its assertion of reincarnation, and of the necessity of the trials through which we attain the supreme aim, is not a revelation, but an important confirmation of doctrines always, though vaguely, held in the past. I am particularly struck by the utility of spiritism as a means of bringing new light to bear on old truths; and I use the word 'means' designedly, because, in my opinion, spiritism is a lever which overthrows the barriers of mental blindness. Interest in the study of moral questions is still to be created. People discuss political questions which deal with general interests; they discuss private interests, and attack or defend personalities with passion; scientific theories have their partisans and their detractors; but the moral truths which are the soul's nutriment, its bread of life, are left in the dust of ages. Every amelioration is considered useful by the generality of mankind, excepting the amelioration of the soul; its education, its elevation, are regarded as chimeras, fit, at best, to occupy the leisure of priests, poets, and women, as a matter of fashion, or as a branch of merely dogmatic teaching.
"If spiritism should resuscitate spiritualism, it will have rendered an immense service to society, by awakening the aspiration which gives, to some, internal dignity, to others, resignation, to all, the desire to raise themselves towards the Supreme Being, lost sight of and forgotten by His ungrateful creatures."
"J. J. ROUSSEAU."
"If God now permits the open communication of spirits with men, it is in order to enlighten men in regard to their duties, and to show them the road which will shorten their trials by hastening their advancement; for, as fruit arrives at maturity, so must man at length arrive at perfection. But, besides the spirits of high advancement who desire your welfare, there are imperfect spirits who try to do you harm; while the first urge you forwards, the others would fain pull you back. You must therefore give your utmost attention to the work of distinguishing between them, and this you will easily do if you bear in mind that nothing hurtful can proceed from a good spirit, and that whatever is evil can only proceed from an evil one. If you turn away from the wise counsels of the spirits who desire your good, if you take offence at the home-truths they sometimes tell you, it is evident that you have evil spirits for your counselors. Pride alone prevents men from seeing themselves as they are; but, if they do not see this for themselves, others see it for them, and they are contemned, both by their fellow-men, who laugh at them behind their back, and by the spirits who have helped to lead them astray."
"A FAMILIAR SPIRIT."
"Your doctrine is beautiful and excellent; its first landmarks are firmly set. You have but to go forward in the broad and noble road now opened before you. Blessed is he who shall reach the goal; and the more numerous the proselytes he shall have made on the way, the greater will be his reward. But, in order to do this, you must give to your doctrine something more than the cold assent of the intellect; you must practice it with the ardor of a hearty conviction, and this ardor will double your strength, for God is always with those who seek to bring others into the right road. Be sure that there is, in the heart of the most skeptical, the most atheistical, a little corner that he would fain hide, if possible, even from himself. That little corner is his vulnerable point; attack him there: it is a narrow breach kept purposely open by God, in order that a ray of His love may gain admission, sooner or later, into the heart that has been so long closed against Him."
"Be not alarmed by obstacles or controversies. Torment no one by persisting in the effort to enlighten him against his will; the incredulous will he persuaded by your disinterestedness, patience, and charity, more effectually than by any argument. You should especially avoid doing violence to opinion, either by your words or by any public demonstration. The greater your modesty, the sooner will you as spiritists be justly appreciated. Let no selfish motive influence your action, and seek only to possess the attractive force that comes from kindness. Spirits, by God's command, are working for the progress of all without exception; you, spiritists, must do likewise"
"What institution, human or divine, has not had obstacles to surmount, and schisms to strive against? If you had only a weak and moribund existence, your enemies would not take the trouble to attack you, for they would know that you must succumb sooner or later; but as your vitality is strong and active, as the spiritist tree is strongly rooted, and likely to live and flourish, they bring their hatchets to bear against it. What will they gain by their hatred and violence? They will, at most, succeed in lopping off a few branches, which will shoot out again, full of fresh sap, and stronger than ever."
"Let me speak to you of the resolution and perseverance with which you should follow up your spiritist labors; for, just as Saint Paul was persecuted, so will you be also not physically, but morally. The unbelievers and the Pharisees of the day will blame and revile you; but fear nothing, for opposition is a trial which strengthens when patiently borne from devotion to the Highest. Your efforts will at length be crowned with success, and will have won for you great triumph in the life to come, besides the happiness you will feel in remembering that you have aided in opening up a fount of consolation for all who, upon the earth, have lost friends and relatives, and who may thus communicate with them, and know that they are happy. Go boldly forwards; accomplish the mission appointed for you, and great will be your reward when you appear before the Almighty."
"All men are mediums; all have a spirit-guide who, if they listen to him, directs them in the right way. It matters little that some men communicate directly with their spirit-guide by means of their own medianimity, while others only receive the counsels of their guide through his occult action on their heart or on their mind; in either case, it is their familiar spirit who gives them counsel. Call it as you will - your familiar spirit, inspiration, reason, intelligence -it is always a voice that answers the inner voice of your soul, and addresses to you wise counsel, though you do not always profit thereby. All men are not yet able to follow the suggestions of reason; I refer, not to the reason that grovels and crawls in its devotion to worldly things, and that loses itself in the care of gross material interests, but to the reason which raises a man above himself; the reason which transports him to unknown regions, the sacred flame which inspires the artist and the poet, the divine thought which elevates the mind of the philosopher, the vital impulsion which carries forward not only individuals but peoples, the reason which the vulgar cannot comprehend, but which lifts man ever nearer and nearer to God, the reason which leads him on from the known to the unknown, and enables him to achieve the sublimest results. Listen to the monitions which come to you incessantly, and your perceptions will gradually be opened to the voice of your guardian-angel, who holds out to you a helping hand from the celestial heights. The inner voice which speaks to the heart of every man is the voice of the good spirits around him; and, from this point of view, it may be truly said that all men are mediums."
"The medianimic faculty is as old as the world. The prophets were mediums; the mysteries of Eleusis were founded on medianimity; the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Egyptians, and all the peoples of antiquity, had their mediums Socrates was directed by a spirit whose voice he heard, and who inspired him with the admirable principles of his philosophy; the inspirations of Joan of Arc were the voices of the beneficent spirits who guided her. This faculty, which is now becoming generalized, was comparatively rare in the Middle Ages; but it has never ceased to exist. Swedenborg has had many successors.
"The France of the last few centuries - irreverent, carried away by philosophical systems which, aiming at the destruction of the abuses of religious intolerance, stifled under ridicule all aspiration after the ideal - could not but repel spiritism, which, nevertheless, did not cease to maintain itself in the North. This struggle of Positivism against Spiritualism was permitted by Providence, because Spiritualism had become fanatical; but now that the progress of industry and science has developed the arts of life to such a point that material tendencies have become predominant, God wills that interest in the soul should be re-awakened in the minds of the spirits incarnated upon the earth, and that the perfecting of the moral being should become, as it ought to be, the recognized end and object of human life. The human spirit follows a foreordained and necessary line of march, image of the gradations undergone by all the beings that people the visible and invisible universe. Each new step of progress is accomplished at the appointed time; the epoch fixed for the moral elevation of the human race has now come; and, although this elevation will not be fully accomplished in your present life-time, you may be thankful that you are permitted to witness the dawn of the glorious new day."
"PIERRE JOUTY." (The Medium's Father.)
"Sent by the Highest with a message to those who are favored with the gift of medianimity, I come to remind them that the greater the favors which have been granted them by His Providence, the greater is the danger they will incur by any misuse of their gift. The faculties possessed by mediums attract to them the admiration, adulation, and felicitations of men; therein lies their danger. Let all mediums remember their primitive incapacity, and let them never attribute to their own personal merit what they owe to God alone. When mediums lose sight of this truth, they are abandoned by good spirits, and, having no longer a guide to direct them, they become the sport of evil ones. Those who attribute to themselves a value which is not theirs, are punished by the withdrawal of a faculty which could only be fatal to them.
"I cannot too strongly urge upon all mediums the necessity of maintaining a constant communication with their guardian-angel, that he may be able to help them to keep clear of the pride which is their worst enemy. Bear constantly in mind, O you who have the happiness of being the interpreters between spirits and men, that, without the support of our Divine Master, you are in danger of laying up for yourselves punishment that will be severe in proportion to the greatness of the medianimic faculty that has been confided to you. May this communication have the effect of inducing all mediums to avoid the rock of offence on which they are in danger of making shipwreck - pride."
"If you would receive communications from superior spirits, you must prepare yourselves for this favor by concentration of thought, purity of intention, and sincere desire to help forward the cause of progress; for selfishness is a barrier between you and them. Remember that, if God permits you to receive the inspiration of those of His children who have earned the happiness of comprehending His infinite goodness, it is in order that you may advance, and aid others to advance, on the appointed path of progress. Therefore, O mediums! it is incumbent on you to make only a good use of the faculty that has been given you. Confiding in, and emulating, our Master's kindness, let your charity, your tolerance for all about you, be inexhaustible. By scrupulously regulating your action according to your conscience, you will increase a hundred-fold your own happiness in your quickly-fleeting earthly life, and you will have prepared for yourselves a thousand-fold greater happiness in the life to come. "Let every medium, who does not feel in himself the moral strength that will enable him to consecrate his faculty to the noblest use, withdraw altogether from the work of mediumship; for he who, being favored with special light, allows himself to enter upon a wrong path, incurs the heavier retribution reserved for those who have gone willfully astray."
"Bear with me while I call your attention to the disinterestedness which, with modesty, should be the characteristic accompaniment of medianimity. God has given to mediums the faculty which enables them to be the intermediary between spirits and men, in order that they may employ that faculty in spreading the truth, but not that they make it a matter of traffic. And, in saying this, I refer, not merely to those who turn their medianimity to pecuniary account as they would any ordinary talent, and who set up as mediums just as others set up as dancers or singers, but to all who use their medianimic faculty for the furtherance of personal ends. Is it reasonable to suppose that spirits of high degree, who condemn cupidity in the ratio of their elevation, would consent to be shown off as a spectacle, putting themselves, like so many play-actors, into the hands of a contractor for spirit-phenomena? And is it in any respect more reasonable to suppose that such spirits would favor the views of vanity and ambition? God permits spirits to communicate with men in order that they may help men to raise themselves out of the mire of materiality, but not that they may serve as the instruments of mundane passions and those mediums who pervert the faculty bestowed upon them by God will be punished for such a desecration with a severity proportioned to the heinousness of their offence."
"DELPHINE DE GIRARDIN."
"All mediums are called to serve the cause of spiritism in the measure of their faculty; but so few of them escape the wiles of self-love that, out of a hundred mediums, hardly one is to be found, no matter how slight his medianimic gift, who does not, especially in the early days of his mediumship, believe himself to be destined to the accomplishment of some great mission. Those who fall into the snare of this vainglorious belief-and they are many-become the prey of obsessing spirits, who subjugate them by flattering their pride; and, the greater has been their ambition, the more pitiable is their fall.
"Great missions are only confided to picked men, who are placed, not by any seeking of their own, but by the leadings of Providence, in the position in which their action will be most efficacious. Inexperienced mediums cannot be too distrustful of what may be said to them, by flattering spirits, as to the importance of the part they are called to play; for, if they take all this flattery seriously, they will reap disappointment, both in this world and in the next. Let mediums remember that they can do good service, even in the most obscure and modest sphere, by helping to convince the incredulous, or by giving consolation to the afflicted. If it be their mission to go beyond this narrower range of medianimic action, they will be guided onwards, into a wider sphere of activity, by an invisible hand that will open their way before them and bring them forward, so to say, in spite of themselves. Let all mediums bear in mind these words: 'He that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.' "
"THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH."
On Spiritist Societies.
Remark. - Of the following communications, some were obtained at the meetings, or for the use, of the Parisian Society for Psychologic Studies; others have been transmitted to us, from various quarters, by different mediums. We give them in this place as containing general advice in regard to the formation of Spiritist Societies and the special difficulties connected with them.
"Why do you not begin your sittings with a general invocation, a sort of appeal to the higher spheres, that may dispose your minds to serious thought? Without seriousness of thought and purpose, only frivolous communications will be obtained. Good spirits come only to those who attract them by their fervor and sincerity; a fact which is not yet sufficiently comprehended in your world. We see your labors with pleasure, and are ready to aid you, but on condition that you second our action by the action of your wills, and that you show yourselves equal to the mission you are called upon to fulfil. Be united; you will thus be too strong for evil spirits to prevail against you. God approves the simple-minded; we do not mean simpletons, but those who make a voluntary abnegation of self; and who devote themselves to His service without vanity. If you would become a focus of light for all mankind, you must learn to distinguish truth from error. Be careful to sow only good seed, unmixed with tares; for tares stifle the good seed and prevent it from growing up, and they who have sown them will be held responsible for the mischief done by them; in other words, you, who are called to spread the truth, will have to answer for the false doctrines you may have propagated. Let all mediums, therefore, pray to God unceasingly for assistance and guidance."
(Saint Augustine, having been requested to dictate a general formula of evocation, replied as follows:-)
"We cannot give you any fixed and absolute formula God is too great to attach importance to words; He looks only to the though. You must not suppose that the pronouncing of certain words can suffice to keep off evil spirits, or that there can be any virtue in verbal forms that are recited as a mere matter of habit. The efficacy of any prayer, whether clothed in impromptu language or in an accepted form, depends on the sincerity of the sentiment it expresses, and the unanimity of those by whom it is offered; no one whose heart is not in his prayer could profit by it, or make it profitable to others. Draw up a formula, if you will, and then submit it to me; and I will help you."
Remark. - Acting upon the advice thug given, the following formula was accordingly drawn up, with the aid of Saint Augustine and other spirits; it has met with wide approval, and has been generally adopted for the opening of spiritist meetings: - "We pray Almighty God to send good spirits to assist us, to keep away those who might lead us Into error, and to give us the light we need for distinguishing truth from imposture. May all malevolent spirits who might create disunion among us he kept away; should any such obtain entrance here, we adjure them, in the name of God, to retire. "Good spirits who preside over our labors, deign to come to us and instruct us! Render us docile to your counsels, and aid us to subordinate all personal sentiments to the general weal. "We especially request the spirit of ... our spirit-protector; to be with us and to give us his help."
"My friends, let me give you a piece of advice, for you are on new ground. You have been told with truth that the aim of spiritism is to give a new sanction to morality, and that it must not overstep the limits of a philosophical system, under pain of becoming a mere matter of curiosity. Leave aside questions in relation to scientific subjects; our mission is not to answer such inquiries, thereby sparing you the trouble of research, but to aid you to become better, for that is the way in which you will really advance."
"People have laughed at 'table-turning;' but they will never laugh at the philosophy, the wisdom, the charity, which shine forth in the communications given by spirits of high degree. Physical manifestations are the vestibule of spiritism, intended to enable you, on entering it, to lay aside your prejudices, as you lay aside your cloak. I cannot insist too strongly upon the duty of making of your meetings a serious center for the obtaining of instructions in regard to truth and duty. Let those who would obtain physical manifestations seek for them, but elsewhere; elsewhere let them see; elsewhere let them hear; but do you, here, seek after understanding and charity. * What do you suppose you are, in the eyes of the higher spirits, when you have made a table turn or rise from the ground? Schoolboys. Does a man pass his time in going again over the A B C of his subject? But when we see you united in the desire to obtain instructive communications, we look upon you as men, and as men who are seriously in search of truth."
(To the inquiry addressed by us to Saint Louis as to whether, by the above remarks, he intended to disparage physical manifestations, he replied: -)
"I could not intend to disparage physical manifestations, because they take place by God's permission and for a useful purpose; but, in saying that they are the vestibule of spiritism, I assign to them their true place, and acknowledge their special utility. I blame only those who make, of physical manifestations, an object of amusement and curiosity, an end rather than a means; and who fail to draw from them the moral teachings which they are intended to enforce. They may be said to stand in the same relation to the philosophy of spiritism that grammar does to literature; he who has advanced in the latter does not lose his time in studying over again the elements of the former."
"My friends, I am always happy to direct you on the path by which alone you can advance; to do so is a mission that has been confided to me, in which I rejoice and of which I am proud, for the power to be useful is always a reward. Let the spirit of charity unite you; the charity which loves, as well as that which gives. Show yourselves patient under the ill-will of your detractors; be firm in the right; and, above all, be humble, for it is humility alone that elevates, because it constitutes the sole greatness recognized by the Most High. Only through your humility will you attract good spirits to you, and you must remember that, if good ones do not come to you, bad ones will take the place left vacant by them. Let your sole care be to stand well in the eyes of your Creator; you will grow in the favor of men, while seeking only to grow in that of God."
"Union is strength; be united, in order that you may be strong. If you would render yourselves invulnerable to the poisoned arrows of calumny and to the attacks of the dark phalanx of ignorant, selfish, and hypocritical spirits, you must let the flame of a sincere and noble friendship unite, enlighten, and warm your hearts, and you will then be able to withstand the assaults of evil, as the rock withstands the fury of the waves."
"SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL."
"My friends, you desire to form a Spiritist Society, and I approve of your doing so, for mediums should not remain isolated. This sublime faculty has been given to them, not for themselves alone, but for the general good. By their intercourse with others, they are enabled to form a truer judgement in regard to the value of the communications they themselves receive; whereas, if they remain alone, they are more easily brought under the power of deceptive spirits, who are delighted at having no one to judge their statements. This is my advice to you in reference to mediums, who, unless they are swayed by pride, will understand and profit by it. And, now, in reference to other points. "Do you really understand what a spiritist meeting should be? No; for, in your zeal, you think the best thing to be done is to bring together as many persons as possible, in order to convince them. Undeceive yourselves; the fewer you are, the more valuable will be the results you will obtain. It is by your moral ascendancy that you will bring the incredulous to your side, much more surely than by the exhibition of physical phenomena which people come to see from curiosity, and not only do not always believe, but often laugh at. On the other hand, if they find among you only persons worthy of esteem, though they may perhaps not at once accept your belief, they will, at any rate, respect you; and respect always predisposes to confidence. You know that the mission of spiritism is to bring about a moral reform of the human race; let all spiritist societies, then, set an example of Christian virtue; and, in these days of selfishness, let such gatherings always offer the spectacle of friends united by a true and noble kindness."
"You ask whether a multiplicity of groups in the same locality might not engender rivalries injurious to spiritist doctrine? To this I reply that those who are imbued with the true principles of our doctrine regard all spiritists not as rivals but as brothers, and that none could be jealous of other societies unless influenced by self-love rather than by the love of truth. True spiritism has for its motto 'Good-will and charity to all' it excludes every species of rivalry excepting emulation in doing right. All the groups on whose banner this motto is inscribed can hold out a friendly hand to each other. Let your only rivalry be one of greatness of soul, of abnegation, kindness, and humility He who should throw stones at another would prove himself to be under the dominion of evil spirits. The nature of the sentiments manifested by two persons towards each other is an unerring indication of the nature of the spirits who consort with them."
"Silence and concentration of thought are conditions essential to the obtaining of serious communications, and no conversation should be carried on while spirits are being interrogated. You often receive communications suggesting serious questions on your part, and requiring answers no less serious on the part of the spirits evoked; and, if the medium who is writing is disturbed by those about him, his medianimic action is impeded thereby, and his usefulness proportionally impaired."
"Let me urge upon you the necessity of conducting your meetings with as much order as possible, so that you may avoid confusion and divergence of ideas, which furnish evil spirits with facilities for substituting themselves for the good ones, and for replying to the questions brought forward for consideration. When a meeting is composed of persons unknown to each other, how is it possible for them to avoid contradictoriness of ideas, inattention, or indifference? I would fain discover some efficacious means of doing this. Possibly, it might be done by the concentration of fluids around the mediums. It is they alone, and especially those who are most beloved, who keep good spirits in the assembly; but their influence hardly suffices to repel the mob of foolish and fantastic ones who seek to find ingress. Examine carefully all the communications you receive; weigh well beforehand all the questions you propose to ask, and meditate no less thoughtfully on the answers you receive. Error is frequent, even on the part of well-intentioned spirits. The slowness of the operation of writing is wearisome to the spirit, who is apt to turn from a subject which, for him, is exhausted as soon as he has brought his thought to bear on it. His mobility and indifference to the ordinary conventionalisms of human life, and many other conditions of which you are already aware, make it your duty to accord only a limited confidence to the communications you receive, and to submit them all to the test of examination and reason, even when presenting the most satisfactory appearances of authenticity."
"GEORGE (A familiar spirit)."
"What is usually your object in endeavoring to obtain communications from spirits? Is it to get specimens of fine writing that you may show to your acquaintances as samples of our talent, and that you may preserve carefully in your albums, but that have no place in your hearts?
"Do you imagine that we consider it an honor to show ourselves off in your assemblies, and to contest with one another the palm of eloquence, in order that you may say: 'We have had a very interesting meeting?' How much do you retain, with a view to putting its teachings into practice, of communications that you have declared to be admirable? Do you suppose that we care for your applause? Be not deceived by any such notion. Our sole object is to improve you morally. Therefore, when we find that our words bear no fruit, that they excite only a sterile approbation, we seek out other souls who are more docile to our suggestions; and our places are then taken by spirits who desire nothing better than to mislead you, and who rarely fail to do so. You have therefore only yourselves to thank when you are deceived.
"Spiritism should be a preservative against discord and dissension, which can gain no entrance among those who understand and practice the law of charity. Be on your guard, all you who are animated by the love of truth keep the doors of your hearts, that the enemy may not find a traitor among you. Dissensions can only be the work of evil spirits; therefore, let those among you who feel most strongly the duty prescribed by urbanity as well as by true spiritism, set an example of patience, dignity, and consistency. Good spirits may sometimes permit a contest to arise, in order to allow, to good as well as to evil sentiments, an opportunity of manifesting themselves, and to sift the wheat from the tares; but they will always be on the side of those who display the truest humility and the most genuine charity."
"SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL."
"Repel all spirits who counsel exclusiveness, division, isolation. Such spirits are always vain and shallow; they impose on the weak and credulous by exaggerated praises, in order to fascinate and to domineer over them. They are generally spirits who, having been public or private despots while on earth, still desire to have victims to tyrannize over after their death. As a general rule, distrust all communications of a mystic or fantastic character, as well as those which prescribe ceremonies or eccentric actions.
"Absurdities and errors are best got rid of by submitting all spirit-statements to a critical examination. A medium may be fascinated, a group may be imposed upon; but a careful examination of communications, by other groups, with the aid of knowledge already acquired by them and the moral influence of their presidents, and their comparison with those obtained by their principal mediums from spirits of high advancement, will suffice to expose the false statements made, by malevolent or deceptive spirits, to individual mediums or to isolated groups."
"ERASTES (Disciple of Saint Paul)"
Remark. - Spirits who wish to make us accept unfounded theories usually pretend that, if we only agree with them, we shall be wiser than everybody else. They do their utmost to avoid the discussion of their theories; but, if worsted in argument, they disdainfully refuse to reply, and induce their mediums to keep away from the groups by whom their ideas are examined and criticized. Isolation is therefore especially dangerous for mediums, because it leaves them at the mercy of obsessors, who first blind them, and then, too often, lead them astray.
"It is not among incarnates only that false prophets are to be found; they exist, and in far greater numbers, among the self-conceited spirits who, under the mask of love and charity, sow dissension, and retard the emancipation of the human race, by the absurd statements which they cause to be made through their mediums; assuming, in order the more effectually to fascinate and to mislead, names which command general veneration and respect, and even daring in some cases to call themselves by the name of God. But you have only to pass the theories of such spirits through the sieve of reason and common sense, and you will see what remains of them! No spirit by whom puerile ideas and impracticable schemes, opposed to the simplest facts of science, are brought forward as truth, as the panacea for human ills, or as a means of suddenly transforming society, can be anything but an ignoramus or a liar.
"Truth is not always seen to be such by individuals, but it is always recognized by the common sense of the majority. If two statements clash, you can measure their relative value by ascertaining which of the two meets with the widest sympathy; for it would evidently be unreasonable to admit that a doctrine of which the partisans were diminishing could be nearer the truth than one of which the acceptance was steadily increasing. God wills that the light of truth shall reach all minds; He therefore does not shut it up in a narrow circle, but makes it shine forth in all directions, in order that darkness may be everywhere dissipated."
Remark. -The best guarantee of the truth of any principle is its simultaneous inculcation in different places, by different spirits, through different mediums who are unknown to one another, and, above ail, its confirmation by reason, and by the Sanction of general acceptance. Truth alone can enable a doctrine to take root. Erroneous theories may certainly recruit adherents for a time, but, as they lack the primary condition of vitality, they can have only an ephemeral existence, and we therefore need not be disquieted about them. Error is killed by its own erroneousness, and will therefore inevitably disappear under the action of reason.
Spirit-communications are sometimes so absurd, although signed by great names, that the simplest common sense suffices to detect their falsity; but there are others in which error, being mixed up with truth, is not detected at first sight, though it cannot fail to be perceived on further examination. We give a few specimens of communications of this character, in order to aid inquirers in judging of the communications which may be made to them, or which may come under their notice."
"The perpetual and incessant creation of worlds is, for God, a perpetual pleasure, because He incessantly sees His rays become each day more luminous in happiness. Number does not exist for God any more than time. This is why, for Him, hundreds or millions are neither more nor less, in His sight, one than the other. He is a father whose happiness is formed of the collective happiness of His children; and, at each second of the creation, He finds a new happiness coming and melting into the general happiness. There is neither stoppage nor suspension in this perpetual movement, this great, incessant happiness, which renders fertile the earth and the heavens. As regards the earth, you know only a very small fraction of it, and you have brothers who live under latitudes that man has not yet been able to penetrate. What signify the terrifying heat and the mortal cold which stay the efforts of the boldest? Do you believe, in your simplicity, that there is the limit of your world, when, with your small means, you can advance no further? You fancy you can measure your planet exactly, do you? Do not believe it. There are upon your planet more places that you are ignorant of than places that you know. But, since it is useless to propagate any further all your evil institutions, all your bad laws, actions, and lives, there is a limit which stops you here and there, and which will stop you until you are able to transport thither the good seed which your free will shall have made. No; you do not know this world which you call the earth. You will see, in your present existence, a great beginning of proofs of this communication. The hour is about to strike when there will be another discovery besides the last that has been already made, and that will enlarge the circle of your known earth; and when the press everywhere sings this Hosanna in all tongues, you, poor children who love God and seek His way, you will have known all about it, before the very people who will give their name to the new land."
"VINCENT DE PAUL."
Remark. - In point of style, this communication, with its inaccuracies, redundancies, and eccentric terms of expression, is evidently very faulty; but these faults alone would prove nothing against its authenticity, because such imperfections might arise from the incapacity of the medium, as we have already shown. What the communicating spirit gives, is the idea; and therefore, when the author of this message tells us that there exist on our planet more places that we are ignorant of than places that are known, and that a new continent is about to be discovered, he gives indisputable proof of his ignorance. Certain tracts of land, as yet undiscovered, may very probably exist beyond the ice-barriers around the poles; but to say that those tracts are peopled, and that God has hidden them from us in order that we may not transport evil institutions thither, shows the folly of the spirit who could seek to palm off such absurdities on mortal listeners. Contrast the foregoing with the following, obtained in the same group and signed with the same name, but presenting as evident marks of authenticity as the foregoing presents of substitution.
"Your material world and the spiritual world (which so few of you know as yet) form the two plates of a pair of scales. Your religions, your laws, your customs, and your passions, have caused the scale of evil so far to outweigh that of good, that evil has reigned as a sovereign over the earth. For ages, the same plaint has exhaled from the lips of man, and he has necessarily been led by suffering to call in question the justice of God, while some men have even been led to deny His very existence. You see the things of your world; but you see nothing of the spirit world, and you therefore cannot understand the conditions of your earthly life, in which you see superfluity jostling want, gold and clay in close proximity, the contrasts of vice and of virtue which should prove to you the fact of your double nature, but which you cannot explain. Whence comes this state of things? Whose fault is it? This question you should try to answer with calmness and impartiality, remembering that the sincere desire to find a remedy is the first step towards its discovery. Notwithstanding the domination of evil over good, which occurs through your own fault, do you not perceive that all the forces of Nature run steadily in the groove appointed for them by God? Do you ever see the seasons coming out of their time, heat and cold clashing with each other? the sun forgetting to light up the earth? the earth forgetting the grain which man has deposited in its bosom? Is there any cessation of the countless miracles that are constantly taking place under your eyes, from the birth of the blade of grass to the birth of the child, the future man? All that is done by God is well-done; all that is done by man is ill-done. What is the remedy for all this? Something very simple. Let men return to God; let them be united together, and follow the road which, to the eyes of faith and conscience is already marked out."
"VINCENT DE PAUL."
Remark - This communication was obtained "as stated above" in the same circle as the preceding one; but what a difference is observable between them, not only in style, but also in thought! This one is clear, profound, sensible, and such as Vincent de Paul would not disavow; and we may therefore safely assume that it is from him.
"Go forward, children! Close up your ranks! That is to say, union is strength. You who are working at the foundations of this great edifice, watch and work to consolidate its base, and you will be enabled to raise it high, very high! Progress is immense throughout our globe; an innumerable crowd of proselytes are drawing round our flag; many skeptics, even of those who are most incredulous, are approaching; yes, they too are approaching!
"Go forward, children, march forward with elated hearts, full of faith; the road you follow is a beautiful one; do not slacken your pace; always follow the straight line; serve guides to those who are coming after you; they will be happy, very happy!
"March forward, children! You do not need the aid of bayonets to sustain your cause, all you want is faith. Belief fraternity, and union; these are your arms; with these you are strong, more powerful than all the great potentates of as the universe united, notwithstanding their armies, their fleets, their cannon, and their grape-shot!
"You who combat for the liberty of peoples and the regeneration of the great human family, come on, children! Courage and perseverance! God will aid you! Good night; I shall see you again."
Remark. - If ever there were a grave and serious man, Napoleon, while living, was such an one; his brief, concise style of utterance is known to all, and he must have strangely degenerated since his death, if he could have dictated a communication so verbose and ridiculous as this, which, however, may perhaps be from the spirit of some trooper named "Napoleon."
"No; one cannot 'change one's religion,' when one does not possess a religion which can at the same time satisfy one's common sense and intelligence, and which can, above all, give present consolation to man. No! one does not change one's religion; what one does is to fall from folly and domination into wisdom and liberty. Come on, come on, our little army! come on, and do not fear the enemy's bullets! Those which will kill you are not yet cast, if you are always, from the bottom of your heart, in the way of God; that is to say, if you will always combat, pacifically and victoriously, for ease and liberty."
"VINCENT DE PAUL"
Remark. - Who could recognize the excellent and beneficent man called Saint Vincent de Paul in language so loose and in thoughts so void of common sense, as the foregoing? What does the spirit mean by saying "No, one does not 'change one's religion,' ""one falls from folly and domination into wisdom and liberty?" With his "bullets which are not yet cast," this spirit would seem to be the same as that of the trooper who signed Napoleon in the preceding communication.
In regard to the two following quotations, the absurdity of signing such messages with such a name, is too obvious to call for comment.
"Children of my faith, Christians of my doctrine forgotten through the interests of the floods of the philosophy of the materialists, follow me on the road of Judea, follow the passion of my life, contemplate my enemies of the present, contemplate my sufferings, my torments, and my blood shed for my faith! "Children, spiritualists of my new doctrine, be ready to suffer, to brave the waves of adversity, the sarcasms of your enemies. Faith will march forward incessantly in following your star, which will guide you on the road to eternal happiness, as the star led the Magi of the East, by faith, to the Cradle. Whatever your adversaries may be, whatever your trials, whatever the tears that you have shed in this sphere of exile, take courage, be sure that the joy which will overwhelm you in the world of spirits will be far above the torments of your passing existence. The valley of tears is a valley which must disappear to give place to the brilliant sojourn of joy, of fraternity and union, which you will reach through your dutiful obedience to the holy revelation. This life, my dear brothers of this terrestrial sphere, merely preparatory though it be, can only endure for the time necessary for living well prepared for that life which can never end. Love one another, love one another as I have loved you, and as I love you still; brothers, Courage, brothers! I bless you; in heaven I await you."
"From these brilliant and luminous regions which human thought can scarcely penetrate, the echo of your words and of mine has come to me and touched my heart. "Oh! with what joy do I feel inundated by the sight of you, you, the continuers of my doctrine! No, nothing approaches the testimony of your good thoughts! You see it, my children, the regenerating idea cast by me long since into the world, persecuted, stayed, for a moment, by the oppression of tyrants, is going on now without obstacles, lighting the ways of humanity so long plunged in darkness. "Every great and disinterested sacrifice, my children, has borne fruit sooner or later. My martyrdom proved this to you; my blood poured out for my doctrine will save humanity and efface the faults of great criminals! "Blessed be ye, ye who this day take your place in the regenerated family! Go forward, courage, children!"
Remark. - There is certainly nothing evil in these two communications; but did Christ ever express Himself in such an awkward, pretentious, stilted, and ridiculous style?
All the communications now quoted as apocryphal were obtained in the same circle. We notice in them a sort of family-likeness, similar turns of phraseology, the frequent repetition of the same expressions, such as, for example, "Go forward, children!" etc., from which we may conclude that the same spirit probably dictated them all, under different names. It is to be remarked that in the circle alluded to - and which was a very conscientious one, though somewhat too credulous - they never made evocations nor asked questions, nor waited for communications to be made spontaneously; yet we see that their doing so did not suffice to ensure the authenticity of the messages received by them. A series of home-questions would have put this spirit into his proper place; but, as they asked him nothing, and accepted, blindly and unhesitatingly, everything he said, he knew that he had nothing to fear, and seems to have amused himself accordingly by playing on their credulity.
"How beautiful is nature! how prudent is Providence in its foresight! but your blindness and your human passions hinder your having patience with the prudence and goodness of God. You lament over the smallest cloud, the least delay in the realization of your previsions; know then, impatient doubters, that nothing happens without a motive that is always foreseen, always premeditated, for the profit of all. The meaning of what precedes is to set at naught men of false apprehensions, all your previsions of a bad year for your harvests.
"God frequently inspires men with uneasiness about the future, to urge them to foresight; see how great are the means for exciting your fears, sown designedly, and which, most frequently, cover avaricious thoughts rather than the idea of a wise provisioning inspired by a feeling of humanity for the advantage of the poor. Behold the relations of nations with nations that will grow out of your uneasiness; see the transactions to which it will lead; what methods will work together to disappoint your fears for, as you know, every thing is linked together, and great and small will cooperate in the work.
"And do you not already see, in the whole of this movement, a source of wellbeing for the more laborious class of society, that truly interesting class which you, the great, you, the omnipotent of this earth, regard as people to be taxed at your pleasure, created for your satisfaction?
"And what comes of all this going and coming from one pole to the other? It is that, once well provided for, the weather has often changed; the sun, obeying the thought of its Creator, ripens your harvest in a few days; God brings abundance where your covetousness meditated a lack, and in spite of you the humble can live; and, without your suspecting it, you have been, unknown to yourselves, the cause of abundance.
"Nevertheless it happens-God permits this sometimes - that the evil ones succeed in their avaricious projects; but then it is a teaching that God wills to give to all; it is human foresight that He would stimulate; it is that infinite order which reigns in nature, it is courage in view of events, which men should imitate, and should bear with resignation.
"As to those who, calculatingly, profit by disasters, you may be sure that they will be punished for it. God wills that all His creatures should live; man should neither tamper with necessity nor make a traffic of superfluity. Just in His benefits, great in His clemency, too good for our ingratitude, God is impenetrable in His designs."
"BOSSUET ALFRED DE MARIGNAC."
Remark. - This communication assuredly contains nothing objectionable; on the contrary, notwithstanding its defects of style, it contains profound and philosophical ideas, and sagacious advice, which might deceive illiterate readers in regard to the identity of its author. The medium who obtained it, having submitted it to the examination of the Spiritist Society of Paris, the latter declared unanimously that it could not be the production of Bossuet. Saint Louis, on being consulted respecting this communication, gave the following answer: - "This communication is intrinsically good, but you must not believe that it came from Bossuet. The spirit who dictated it may perhaps have done so, in some degree, under the inspiration of the great Bishop, and may have put the Bishop's name at the end of it, in order to get it more readily accepted; but you can easily detect the substitution of signature by the defectiveness of the language. It was dictated by the spirit who has placed his name after that of Bossuet." This spirit, being interrogated as to his motive in attempting such a fraud, replied: - "I was anxious to write something to bring myself back to the notice of men; seeing that my communication was but weak, I borrowed a great name to give it weigh." - "But did you not foresee that it would he judged to be spurious?" - "Who can ever be sure as to what will happen? You might have been taken in. Other persons, less clear-sighted, would have accepted it as coming from Bossuet."
It is, in fact, the readiness with which many persons accept whatever comes from the invisible world, under the apparent sanction of a great name, that encourages deceptive spirits. We must employ our acumen to frustrate the tricks of such spirits; and this is only to be done with the aid of experience and a serious study of the subject. It is for this reason that we constantly repeat our advice to study the subject before attempting experimentation; for it is only thus that inquirers can avoid acquiring experience at the cost of mystifications and annoyance.