HE who, in regard to terrestrial magnetism, knows only the little figures of ducks which, with the aid of a magnet, are made to swim about in a basin of water, would find it difficult to understand that those toy-figures contain the secret of the mechanism of the universe and of the movement of worlds. He, whose knowledge of Spiritism is confined to the table-turning which was the starting-point of the modern manifestations, is in a similar position; he regards it merely as an amusement, a social pastime, and cannot understand how a phenomenon so simple and so common, known to antiquity and even to savage tribes, can be connected with the weightiest questions of psychology and of human life. For the superficial observer, what connection can exist between a table that turns and the morality and future destiny of the human race? But as, from the simple pot which, in boiling, raises its lid (a pot, too, which has boiled from the remotest antiquity), there has issued the potent motor with whose aid man transports himself through space and suppresses distance, so, be it known to you, Oh ye who believe in nothing beyond the material world! there has issued, from the table-turning which provokes your disdainful smiles, a new philosophy that furnishes the solution of problems which no other has been able to solve. I appeal to all honest adversaries of Spiritism, and I adjure them to say whether they have taken the trouble to study what they criticize; reminding them that criticism is necessarily of no value unless the critic knows what he is talking about, To ridicule that of which we know nothing, which we have not made the subject of conscientious examination, is not to criticize, but to give proof of frivolity and want of judgment. Assuredly, if we had present this philosophy as being the product of a human brain, it would have met with less disdain, and would have had the honor of being examined by those who profess to be the leaders of opinion: but it claims to be derived from spirits; what an absurdity! It is scarcely held to deserve a single glance by those who judge it merely by its title, as the monkey in the fable judged of the nut by its husk. But put aside all thought of the origin of this book; suppose it to be the work of a man, and say, in truth and honesty, whether, after having carefully read it, you find in it anything to laugh at?
Spiritism is the most formidable opponent of materialism, and it is therefore not surprising that it should have the materialists for adversaries; but as materialism is a doctrine which many of those who hold it hardly dare to avow, they cover their opposition with the mantle of reason and science. Their shafts are especially aimed at the marvelous and the supernatural, which they deny; and as, according to them, Spiritism is founded on the marvelous and the supernatural, they declare that it can be nothing more than a ridiculous delusion.
Strange to say, some of those who are most incredulous in regard to Spiritism deny the possibility of its phenomena in the name of religion, of which they often know as little as they do of Spiritism. They do not reflect that, in denying, without restriction, the possibility of the "marvelous" and the "supernatural," they deny religion, for religion is founded on revelation and miracles; and what is revelation if not extra-human communications? All the sacred writers, from Moses downwards, have spoken of this order of communications. And what are miracles if not facts of a character emphatically marvelous and supernatural, since they are, according to liturgical acceptation, derogations from the laws of nature, so that, in rejecting the marvelous and the supernatural, they reject the very basis of all religions? But it is not from this point of view that we have to consider the subject. Belief in spirit-manifestation does not necessarily settle the question of miracles, that is to say, whether God does, or does not, in certain cases, derogate from the eternal laws that regulate the universe; it leaves, in regard to this question, full liberty of belief to all. Spiritism says, and proves, that the phenomena on which it is based are supernatural only in appearance, that they only appear to some persons to be such, because they are unusual, and out of the pale of facts hitherto known; and that they are no more supernatural than all the other phenomena which the science of the present day is explaining, though they appeared to be "miraculous" in the past. All spiritist phenomena, without exception, are the consequence of general laws; they reveal to us one of the powers of nature, a power hitherto unknown, or rather that has not hitherto been understood, but which observation shows us to be included in the scheme of things. Spiritism, therefore, is founded less on the marvelous and the supernatural than is religion itself; and those who attack it on this score do so because they know not what it really is. As for those who oppose it in the name of science, we say to them, be they ever so learned, "If your science, which has taught you so many things, has not taught you that the domain of nature is infinite, you are scientific to very little purpose."
You say that you wish to cure your age of a malady of credulity that threatens to invade the world. Would you prefer to see the world invaded by the incredulity that you seek to propagate? Is it not to the absence of all belief that are to be attributed the relaxing of family ties and the greater part of the disorders that are undermining society? By demonstrating the existence and immortality of the soul, Spiritism revives faith in the future, raises the courage of those who are depressed, and enables us to bear the vicissitudes of life with resignation. Do you call this an evil? Two doctrinal theories are offered for our acceptance; one of them denies the existence of a future life, the other proclaims and proves it; one of them explains nothing, the other explains everything, and, by so doing, appeals to our reason; one of them is the justification of selfishness, the other gives a firm basis to justice, charity, and the love of one's fellow-creatures; one of them shows only the present and annihilates all hope, the other consoles us by showing the vast field of the future; which of the two is the more pernicious? There are some, among the most skeptical of our opponents, who give themselves out as apostles of fraternity and progress; but fraternity implies disinterestedness and abnegation of one's own personality, and by what right do you impose such a sacrifice on him to whom you affirm that, when be is dead, everything will be over for him, that soon, perhaps tomorrow, he will be nothing more than a worn-out machine, out of gear, and thrown aside as so much rubbish? Why, in that case, should he impose on himself any privation? Is it not more natural that he should resolve to live as agreeably as possible during the few brief instants you accord to him? And would not such a resolve naturally suggest to him the desire to possess largely in order to secure the largest amount of enjoyment? And would not this desire naturally give birth to jealousy of those who possess more than he does? And, from such jealousy to the desire to take from them what they possess, is there more than a single step? What is there, in fact, to restrain him from doing so? The law? But the law does not reach every case. Conscience? the sense of duty? But what, from your point of view, is conscience? and upon what do you base the sense of duty? Has that sense any motive or aim if it be true that everything ends for us with our present life? In connection with such a belief, only one maxim can be reasonably admitted, namely, "Every man for himself." Fraternity, conscience, duty, humanity, progress even, are but empty words. Ah! you who proclaim such a doctrine, you know not how much harm you do to society, nor of how many crimes you incur the responsibility! But why do we speak of responsibility? Nothing of the kind exists for the materialist; he renders homage only to matter.
The progress of the human race results from the practical application of the law of justice, love, and charity. This law is founded on the certainty of the future; take away that certainty, and you take away its cornerstone. It is from this law that all other laws are derived, for it comprises all the conditions of human happiness; it alone can cure the evils of society; and the improvement that takes place in the conditions of social life, in proportion as this law is better understood and better carried out in action, becomes clearly apparent when we compare the various ages and peoples of the earth. And if the partial and incomplete application of this law have sufficed to produce an appreciable improvement in social conditions, what will it not effect when it shall have become the basis of all social institutions? Is such a result possible? Yes; for as the human race has already accomplished ten steps, it is evident that it can accomplish twenty, and so on. We can infer the future from the past. We see that the antipathies between different nations are beginning to melt away; that the barriers which separated them are being overthrown by the progress of civilization, and that they are joining hands from one end of the world to the other. A larger measure of justice has been introduced into international law; wars occur less frequently, and do not exclude the exercise of humane sentiments; uniformity is being gradually established in the relations of life; the distinctions of races and castes are being effaced, and men of different religious beliefs are imposing silence on sectional prejudices, that they may unite in adoration of one and the same God. We speak of the nations who are at the head of civilization (789-793.). In all these relations, men are still far from perfection, and there are still many old ruins to be pulled down before the last vestiges of barbarism will have been cleared away; but can those ruins withstand the irresistible action of progress, that living force which is itself a law of nature? If the present generation is more advanced than the last, why should not the next be more advanced than the present one? It will necessarily be so through the force of things; in the first place, because each generation, as it passes away, carries with it some of the champions of old abuses, and society is thus gradually reconstituted with new elements that have thrown aside antiquated prejudices; in the second place, because, when men have come to desire progress, they study the obstacles which impede it, and set themselves to get rid of them. The fact of the progressive movement of human society being incontestable, there can be no doubt that progress will continue to be made in the future.
Man desires to be happy; it is in his nature so to do. Only he has not obtained complete happiness, and that this happiness, but for which result progress would have no object; for where would be the value of progress for him if it did not improve his position? But when he shall have obtained all the enjoyments that can be afforded by intellectual progress, he will perceive that he has not obtained complete happiness, and that this happiness is impossible without security in the social relations; and as he can only obtain this security through the moral progress of society in general, he will be led, by the force of things, to labor for that end, to the attainment of which, Spiritism will furnish him with the most effectual means.
Those who complain that spiritist belief is spreading in all directions and threatening to invade the world, thereby proclaim its power; for no opinion that is not founded on reason and on fact could become general. Therefore, if Spiritism is taking root everywhere, making converts in every rank of society, and especially among the educated classes, as is admitted by all to be the case, it is evident that it must founded in truth. That being so, all the efforts of its detractors will be made in vain; an assertion borne out by the fact that the ridicule attempted to be heaped upon it by those who have hoped thereby to arrest its march seems only to have given it new life. This result fully justifies the assurances that have been so constantly given us by our spirit-friends, who have repeatedly said to us, "Do not allow yourself to be made uneasy by opposition. Whatever is done against you will turn to your advantage, and your bitterest opponents will serve you in spite of themselves. Against the will of God, the ill-will of men is of no avail."
Through the moral teachings of Spiritism, the human race will enter upon a new phase of its destiny; that of the moral progress which is the inevitable consequence of this belief. The rapid spread of spiritist ideas should cause no surprise, being due to the profound satisfaction they give to those who adopt them with intelligence and sincerity; and as happiness is what men desire above all things, it is not surprising that they should embrace ideas which impart so much happiness to those who hold them.
The development of these ideas presents three distinct periods. The first is that of curiosity, excited by the strangeness of the phenomena produced; the second, that of reasoning and philosophy; the third, that of application and consequences. The period of curiosity is gone by, for curiosity has only a brief existence; the mind, when satisfied in regard to any novelty, quitting it at once for another, as is not its habit in regard to subjects that awaken graver thought and that appeal to the judgment. The second period has already begun; the third will certainly follow. The progress of Spiritism has been specially rapid since its essential nature and its scope have been more correctly understood, because it touches the most sensitive fiber of the human heart, namely, the desire of happiness, which it augments immeasurably, even in the present world; this, as previously remarked, is the cause of its wide acceptance, the secret of the force that will make it triumph. It renders happy those who understand it, while awaiting the extension of its influence over the masses. How many a spiritist, who has never witnessed any of the physical phenomena of spirit-manifestation, says to himself, "Besides the phenomena of Spiritism, there is its philosophy, which explains what NO OTHER has ever explained. That philosophy furnishes me, through arguments drawn from reason only and independently of any sanction but that of reason, with a rational solution of problems that are of the most vital importance to my future; it gives me calmness, security, confidence; it delivers me from the torments of uncertainty. In comparison with results so valuable, the question of the physical phenomena is of secondary importance."
To those who attack this philosophy, we reply, "Would you like to have a means of combating it successfully? If so, here it is: Bring forward something better in its place; find a more philosophic solution of the problems it solves: give to man ANOTHER CERTAINTY that shall render him still happier. But you must thoroughly understand the meaning of the word certainty, for man only accepts as certain what appears to him to be reasonable. You must not content yourselves with saying that the thing is not so, which is a mode of proceeding altogether too easy. You must prove, not by negation, but by facts, that what we assert to exist has no existence, has never been, and CANNOT BE, and above all, having shown that it has no existence, you must show what you have to offer in its place; and you must prove that the tendency of Spiritism is not to make men better, and consequently happier, by the practice of the purest morality--that sublime and simple morality of the Gospels, which men praise so much, and practice so little. When you have done all this, you will have a right to attack it."
Spiritism is strong because its bases are those of religion itself, namely, God, the soul, the rewards and punishments of the future; because it shows those rewards and punishments to be the natural consequences of the earthly life; and because, in the picture it presents of the future, there is nothing which the most logical mind could regard as contrary to reason. What compensation can you offer for the sufferings of the present life, you whose whole doctrine consists in the negation of the future? You base your teachings on incredulity; Spiritism is based on confidence in God: while the latter invites all men to happiness, to hope, to true fraternity, you offer them, in prospect, ANNIHILATION, and in the present, by way of consolation, SELFISHNESS: it explains everything, and you explain nothing; it proves by facts, while your assertions are devoid of proof. How can you expect that the world should hesitate between these two doctrines?
To suppose that Spiritism derives its strength from the physical manifestations, and that it might therefore be put an end to by hindering those manifestations, is to form to one's self a very false idea of it. Its strength is in its philosophy, in the appeal it makes to reason, to common sense. In ancient times it was the object of mysterious studies, carefully hidden from the vulgar; at the present day it has no secrets, but speaks clearly, without ambiguity, mysticism, or allegories susceptible of false interpretations. The time having come for making known the truth, its language is such as all may comprehend. So far from being opposed to the diffusion of the light, the new revelation is intended for all mankind; it does not claim a blind acceptance, but, urges every one to examine the grounds of his belief, and as its teachings are based upon reason, it will always be stronger than those who base their arguments upon annihilation. Would it be possible to put a stop to spirit-manifestations, by placing obstacles in the way of their production? No; for such an attempt would have the effect of all persecutions, namely, that of exciting curiosity, and the desire of making acquaintance with a forbidden subject. Were spirit-manifestations the privilege of a single individual, it would undoubtedly be possible, by preventing his action, to put an end to them; but unfortunately for our adversaries, those manifestations are within everybody's reach, and are being obtained by all, from the highest to the lowest, from the palace to the cottage. It might be possible to prevent their production in public, but, as is well known, it is not in public, but in private, that they are most successfully produced; and as any one may be a medium, how would it be possible to prevent each family in the privacy of its home, each individual in the silence of his chamber, each prisoner, even, in his cell, from holding communication with the invisible beings around them, in the very presence of those who should endeavor to prevent them from doing so? If mediums were forbidden to exercise their faculty in one country, how would it be possible to hinder them from doing so elsewhere throughout the rest of the world, since there is not a single country, in either continent, in which mediums are not to be found? In order to shut up all the mediums, it would be necessary to incarcerate half the human race; and even if it were possible, which would scarcely be easier, to burn all the spiritist books in existence, they would at once be reproduced, because the source from which they emanate is beyond the reach of attack, and it is impossible to imprison or to burn the spirits who are their real authors.
Spiritism is not the work of any man; no one can claim to have created it, for it is as old as creation itself. It is to be found everywhere, in all religions, and in the Catholic religion even more than in the others, and with more authoritative inculcation, for the Catholic dogma contains all that constitutes Spiritism; admission of the existence of spirits of every degree; their relations, occult and patent, with mankind; guardian-angels, reincarnation, the emancipation of the soul during the present life, second-sight, visions, and manifestations of every kind, including even tangible apparitions; As for demons, they are nothing else than bad spirits; and with the exception of the belief that the former are doomed to evil forever, while the path of progress is not closed against the others, there is, between them, only a difference of name.
What is the special and peculiar work of modern Spiritism? To make a coherent whole of what has hitherto been scattered; to explain, in clear and precise terms, what has hitherto been wrapped up in the language of allegory; to eliminate the products of superstition and ignorance from human belief, leaving only what is real and actual: this is its mission, but that of a founder does not belong to it. It renders evident that which already exists; it coordinates, but it creates nothing, for its elements are of all countries and of every age. Who, then, could flatter himself with the hope of being able to stifle it, either by ridicule or by persecution? If it were possible to proscribe it in one place, it would reappear in another, or on the very spot from which it had been banished, because it exists in the constitution of things, and because no man can annihilate that which is one of the powers of nature, or veto that which is in virtue of the Divine decrees.
But what interest could any Government have in opposing the propagation of spiritist ideas? Those ideas, it is true, are a protest against the abuses that spring from pride and selfishness; but although such abuses are profitable to the few, they are injurious to the many, and Spiritism would therefore have the masses on its side, while its only adversaries would be those who profit by the abuses against which it protests. So far from Governments having anything to dread from the spread of spiritist ideas, the tendency of those ideas being to render men more benevolent towards one another, less greedy of material things, and more resigned to the orderings of Providence, they constitute, for the State, a guarantee of order and of tranquility.
Spiritism presents three different aspects, namely, the facts of spirit-manifestation, the philosophic and moral principles deducible from those facts, and the practical applications of which those principles are susceptible; hence three classes into which its adherents are naturally divided, or rather, three degrees of advancement by which they are distinguished:-- 1st, Those who believe in the reality and genuineness of the spirit-manifestations, but confine themselves to the attestation of these, and for whom Spiritism is merely an experimental science; 2nd, Those who comprehend its moral bearings; 3rd, Those who put in practice, or, at least, endeavor to put in practice, the system of morality which it is the mission of Spiritism to establish. Whatever the point of view experimental, scientific, or moral, from which these strange phenomena are considered, every one perceives that they are ushering in an entirely novel order of ideas, which must necessarily produce a profound modification of the state of the human race; and every one who understands the subject also perceives that this modification can only be for good.
As for our adversaries, they may also be grouped into three categories:1st, Those who systematically deny whatever is new, or does not proceed from themselves, and who speak without knowing what they are talking about. To this class belong all those who admit nothing beyond the testimony of their senses they have not seen anything, do not wish to see anything, and are still more unwilling to go deeply into anything; they would, in fact, be unwilling to see too clearly, for fear of being obliged to confess that they have been mistaken; they declare that Spiritism is chimerical, insane, utopian, and has no real existence, as the easiest way of settling the matter; they are the willfully incredulous. With them may be classed those who have condescended to glance at the subject, in order to be able to say, "I have tried to see something of it, but I have not been able to succeed in doing so;" and who do not seem to be aware that half an hour's attention is not enough to make them acquainted with a new field of study; 2nd, Those who, although perfectly aware of the genuineness of the phenomena, oppose the matter from interested motives. They know that Spiritism is true; but being afraid of consequences, they attack it as an enemy. 3rd, Those who dread the moral rules of Spiritism as constituting too severe a censure of their acts and tendencies. A serious admission of the truth of Spiritism would be in their way; they neither reject nor accept it, but prefer to close their eyes in regard to it. The first class is swayed by pride and presumption; the second by ambition; the third by selfishness. We should seek in vain for a fourth class of antagonists, namely, that of opponents who, basing their opposition on a careful and conscientious study of Spiritism, should bring forward positive and irrefutable evidence of its falsity.
It would be hoping too much of human nature to imagine that it could be suddenly transformed by spiritist ideas. The action of these undoubtedly is not the same, nor is it equally powerful, in the case of all those by whom they are professed; but their result, however slight it may be, is always beneficial, if only by proving the existence of an extra-corporeal world, and thus disproving the doctrines of materialism. This result follows from a mere observation of the phenomena of Spiritism; but, among those who, comprehending its philosophy, see in it something else than phenomena more or less curious, it produces other effects. The first and most general of these is the development of the religious sentiment, even in those who, without being materialists, are indifferent to spiritual things; and this sentiment leads to contempt of death--we do not say to a desire for death, for the spiritist would defend his life like anyone else, but to an indifference which causes him to accept death, when inevitable, without murmuring and without regret, as something to be welcomed rather than feared, owing to his certainty in regard to the state which follows it. The second effect of spiritist convictions is resignation under the vicissitudes of life. Spiritism lead us to consider everything from so elevated a point of view that the importance of terrestrial life is proportionally diminished, and we are less painfully affected by its tribulations; we have consequently more courage under affliction, more moderation in our desires, and also a more rooted repugnance to the idea of shortening our days, Spiritism showing us that suicide always causes the loss of what it was intended to obtain. The certainty of a future which it depends on ourselves to render happy, the possibility of establishing relations with those who are dear to us in the other life, offer the highest of all consolations to the spiritist; and his field of view is widened to infinity by his constant beholding of the life beyond the grave, and his growing acquaintance with conditions of existence hitherto veiled in mystery. The third effect of spiritist ideas is to induce indulgence for the defects of others; but it must be admitted that, selfishness being the most tenacious of human sentiments, it is also the one which it is most difficult to extirpate. We are willing to make sacrifices provided they cost us nothing, and provided especially that they impose on us no privations; but money still exercises an irresistible attraction over the greater number of mankind, and very few understand the word "superfluity" in connection with their own personality.
The abnegation of our personality is, therefore, the most eminent sign of progress.
"Do spirits," it is sometimes asked, "teach us anything new in the way of morality, anything superior to what has been taught by Christ? If the moral code of Spiritism be no other than that of the gospel, what is the use of it?" This mode of reasoning is singularly like that of the Caliph Omar, in speaking of the Library of Alexandria:-- "If," said he, "it contains only what is found in the Koran, it is useless, and in that case must be burned; if it contains anything that is not found in the Koran, it is bad, and in that case, also, it must be burned." No; the morality of Spiritism is not different from that of Jesus; but we have to ask, in our turn, whether, before Christ, men had not the law given by God to Moses? Is not the doctrine of Christ to be found in the Decalogue? But will it therefore be contended that the moral teaching of Jesus is useless? We ask, still further, of those who deny the utility of the moral teachings of Spiritism, why it is that the moral teachings of Christ are so little practiced, and why it is that those who rightly proclaim their sublimity are the first to violate the first of His laws, namely, that of universal charity? Spirits now come not only to confirm it, but also to show us its practical utility; they render intelligible, patent, truths that have hitherto been taught under the form of allegory; and, with this reinculcation of the eternal truths of morality, they also give us the solution of the most abstract problems of psychology.
Jesus came to show men the road to true goodness. Since God sent Him to recall to men's mind the divine law they had forgotten, why should He not send spirits to recall it to their memory once again, and with still greater precision, now that they are forgetting it in their devotion to pride and to material gain? Who shall take upon himself to set bounds to the power of God, or to dictate His ways? Who shall say that the appointed time has not arrived, as it is declared to have done by spirits, when truths hitherto unknown or misunderstood are to be openly proclaimed to the human race, in order to hasten its advancement? Is there not something evidently providential in the fact that spirit-manifestations are being made on all points of the globe? It is not a single man, an isolated prophet, who comes to arouse us; light is breaking forth on all sides, and a new world is being opened out before our eyes. As the invention of the microscope has revealed to us the world of the infinitely little, the existence of which was unsuspected by us, and as the telescope has revealed to us the myriads of worlds the existence of which we suspected just as little; so the spirit-communications of the present day are revealing to us the existence of an invisible world that surrounds us on all sides, that is incessantly in contact with us, and that takes part, unknown to us, in everything we do. Yet a short time, and the existence of that world, which is awaiting every one of us, will be as incontestable as is that of the microscopic world, and of the infinity of globes in space. Is it nothing to have made known that new world, to have initiated us into the mysteries of the life beyond the grave? It is true that these discoveries, if such they can he called, are contrary to certain received ideas; but have not all great scientific discoveries modified, and even overthrown, ideas as fully received by the world, and has not our pride of opinion had to yield to evidence? It will be the same in regard to Spiritism, which ere long will have taken its place among the other branches of human knowledge.
Communication with the beings of the world beyond the grave enables us to see and to comprehend the life to come, initiates us into the joys and sorrows that await us therein according to our deserts, and thus brings back to spiritualism those who had come to see in man only matter, only an organized machine; we are therefore justified in asserting that the facts of Spiritism have given the deathblow to materialism. Had Spiritism done nothing more than this, it would be entitled to the gratitude of all the friends of social order; but it does much more than this, for it shows the inevitable results of evil, and, consequently, the necessity of goodness. The number of those whom it has brought back to better sentiments, whose evil tendencies it has neutralized, and whom it has turned from wrongdoing, is already larger than is usually supposed, and is becoming still more considerable every day; because the future is no longer for them a vague imagining, a mere hope, but a fact, the reality of which is felt and understood when they see and hear those who have left us lamenting or rejoicing over what they did when they were upon the earth. Whoever witnesses these communications begins to reflect on the reality thus brought home to him, and to feel the need of self-examination, self-judgment, and self-amendment.
The fact that differences of opinion exist among spiritists in regard to certain points of doctrine has been used by opponents as a handle against it. It is not surprising that, in the beginning of a new science, when the observations on which it is based are still incomplete, the subjects of which it treats should have been regarded by its various adherents from their own point of view, and that contradictory theories should thus have been put forth. But a deeper study of the facts in question has already overthrown most of those theories, and, among others, that which attributed all spirit-communications to evil spirits, as though it were impossible for God to send good spirits to men; a supposition that is at once absurd, because it is opposition to the facts of the case, and impious, because it is a denial of the power and goodness of the Creator. Our spirit-guides have always advised us not to trouble ourselves about divergences of opinion among spiritists, assuring us that unity of doctrine will eventually be established; and we accordingly see that this unity has already been arrived at in regard to the major part of the points at issue, and that divergences of opinion, in regard to the others, are disappearing day by day.
To the question, "While awaiting the establishment of doctrinal unity, upon what basis can an impartial and disinterested inquirer arrive at a judgment as to the relative merits of the various theories put forth by spirits?" the following reply was given:--
"The purest light is that which is not obscured by any cloud; the most precious diamond is the one which is without a flaw; judge the communications of spirits, in like manner, by the purity of their teachings. Do not forget that there are, among spirits, many who have not yet freed themselves from their earthly ideas. Learn to distinguish them by their language; judge them by the sum of what they tell you; see whether there is logical sequence in the ideas they suggest, whether there is, in their statements, nothing that betrays ignorance, pride, or malevolence; in a word, whether their communications always bear the stamp of wisdom that attests true superiority. If your world were inaccessible to error, it would be perfect, which it is far from being; you have still to learn to distinguish error from truth; you need the lessons of experience to exercise your judgment and to bring you on. The basis of unity will be found in the body of doctrine among the adherents of which good has never been mixed with evil; men will rally spontaneously to that doctrine, because they will judge it to be the truth.
"But what matter a few dissidences of opinion, more apparent than real? The fundamental principles of Spiritism are every where the same, and should unite you all in a common bond; that of the love of God and the practice of goodness. Whatever you suppose to be the mode of progression and the normal conditions of your future existence, the aim proposed is still the same, namely, to do right; and there is but one way of doing that."
If there be, among spiritists, differences of opinion in regard to some points of theory, all of them are agreed in regard to the fundamentals of the matter; unity, therefore, already exists among them, with the exception of the very small number of those who do not yet admit the intervention of spirits in the manifestations, and who attribute these either to purely physical causes, which is contrary to the axiom, "Every intelligent effect must have an intelligent cause," or to a reflex action of our own thought, which is disproved by the facts of the case. There may, then, be different schools, seeking light in regard to the points of spiritist doctrine that are still open to controversy; there ought not to be rival sects, making opposition to one another. Antagonism should only exist between those who desire goodness, and those who desire, or do, evil; but no one who has sincerely adopted the broad principles of morality laid down by Spiritism can desire evil or wish ill to his neighbor, whatever may be his opinions in regard to points of secondary importance. If any school be in error, it will obtain light, sooner or later, if it seeks honestly and without prejudice; and all schools possess, meanwhile, a common bond that should unite them in the same sentiment. All of them have a common aim; it matters little what road they take, provided it leads to the common goal. None should attempt to impose their opinion by force, whether physical or moral; and any school that should hurl its anathema at another would be clearly in the wrong, for it would evidently be acting under the influence of evil spirits. The only force of an argument is its intrinsic reasonableness; and moderation will do more to ensure the triumph of the truth than diatribe envenomed by envy and jealousy. Good spirits preach only union and the love of the neighbor; and nothing malevolent or uncharitable can ever proceed from a pure source.
As bearing on the subject of the foregoing remarks, and also as a fitting termination of the present work, we subjoin the following message from the spirit of Saint Augustine -- a message conveying counsels well worthy of being laid to heart by all who read it:--
"Long enough have men torn one another to pieces, anathematizing each other in the name of a God of peace and of mercy, whom they insult by such a sacrilege. Spiritism will eventually constitute a bond of union among them, by showing what is truth and what is error; but there will still be, and for a long time to come, scribes and Pharisees who will reject it, as they rejected Christ. Would you know the quality of the spirits who influence the various sects into which the world is divided? Judge them by their deeds and by the principles they profess. Never did good spirits instigate to the commission of evil deeds; never did they counsel or condone murder or violence; never did they excite party hatreds, the thirst for riches and honors, or greed of earthly things. They alone who are kind, humane, benevolent, to all, are counted as friends by spirits of high degree; they alone are counted as friends by Jesus, for they alone are following the road which He has shown them as the only one which leads to Him."