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more clemency, long-suffering, love, and true justice, than you attribute to the Creator. You
destroy the very idea of retribution by rendering it as inadmissible, by your minds, as is, by
your hearts, the policy of the Middle Ages, with its hideous array of torturers, executioners,
and the stake. When the principle of indiscriminating retaliation has been banished for ever
from human legislation, can you hope to make men believe that principle to be the rule of the
Divine Government ? Believe me, brothers in God and in Jesus Christ, you must either resign
yourselves to let all your dogmas perish in your hands rather than modify them, or you must
revivify them by opening them to the beneficent action that good spirits are now bringing to
bear on them. The idea of a hell full of glowing furnaces and boiling cauldrons might be
credible in an age of iron; in the nineteenth century it can be nothing more than an empty
phantom, capable, at the utmost, of frightening little children, and by which the children
themselves will no longer be frightened when they are a little bigger. By your persistence in
upholding mythic terrors, you engender incredulity, source of every sort of social
disorganisation; and I tremble at beholding the very foundations of social order shaken, and
crumbling into dust, for want of an authoritative code of penality. Let all those who are
animated by a living and ardent faith, heralds of the coming day, unite their efforts, not to
keep up antiquated fables now fallen into disrepute, but to resuscitate and revivify the true
idea of penality, under forms in harmony with the usages, sentiments, and enlightenment of
"What, in fact, is 'a sinner' ? One who, by a deviation from the right road, by a false
movement of the soul. has swerved from the true aim of his creation, which consists in the
harmonious worship of the Beautiful, the Good, as embodied in the archetype of humanity,
the Divine Exemplar, Jesus Christ.
"What is 'chastisement' ? The natural, derivative consequence of that false movement; the
amount of pain necessary to disgust the sinner with his departure from rectitude, by his
experience of the suffering caused by that departure. Chastisement is the goad which, by the
smarting it occasions, decides the soul to cut short its wanderings, and to return into the right
road. The sole aim of chastisement is rehabilitation; and therefore, to assume the eternity of
chastisement is to deprive it of all reason for existing.
"Cease, I beseech you, the attempt to establish a parallelism of duration between good,
essence of the Creator, and evil, essence
of the creature; for, in so doing, you establish a standard of penality that is utterly without
justification. Affirm, on the contrary, the gradual diminution of imperfections and of
chastisements through successive existences, and you consecrate the doctrine of the union of
the creature with the Creator by the reconciliation of justice with mercy."
It is desired to stimulate men to the acquisition of virtue, and to turn them from vice, by the hope of
reward and the fear of punishment but. if the threatened punishment is represented under conditions
repugnant to reason, not only will it fail of its aim, but it will lead men, in rejecting those conditions, to
reject the very idea of punishment itself. But let the idea of future rewards and punishments be presented
to their mind under a reasonable form, and they will not reject it. This reasonable explanation of the
subject is given by the teachings of Spiritism.
The doctrine of eternal punishment makes an implacable God of the Supreme Being. Would it be
reasonable to say of a sovereign that he is very kind, very benevolent. very indulgent, that he only desires
the happiness of all around him, but that he is, at the same time, jealous, vindictive, inflexibly severe, and
that he punishes three-quarters of his subjects with the most terrific tortures, for any offence, or any
infraction of his laws, even when their imputed fault has resulted simply from their ignorance of the laws
they have transgressed? Would there not be an evident contradiction in such a statement of the
sovereign's character? And can God's action be less consistent than that of a man?
The doctrine in question presents another contradiction. Since God fore-knows all things, He must have
known, in creating a soul. that it would transgress His laws. and it must therefore have been. from its
very formation, predestined by Him to eternal misery: but is such an assumption reasonable", or
admissible? The doctrine of punishment proportioned to wrongdoing is, on the contrary, entirely
consonant with reason and justice. God undoubtedly foresaw, in creating a given soul, that, in its
ignorance, it would do wrong: but He has ordained that its very faults themselves shall furnish it with the
means of becoming enlightened. through its experience of the painful effects of its wrong-doing He will
compel it to expiate that wrong-doing, but only in order that it may be thereby more firmly fixed in
goodness thus the door of hope is never closed against it, and the moment of its deliverance from suffering
is made to depend on the amount of effort it puts forth to achieve its purification. If the doctrine of future
punishment had always been presented under this aspect, very few would ever have doubted its truth.
The word eternal is often figuratively employed, in common parlance, to designate any long period of
duration of which the end is not foreseen, although it is known that it will come in course of time. We
speak, for instance, of "the eternal snows" of mountain-peaks and polar regions, although we know, on
the one hand, that our globe will come to an end, and, on the other hand, that the state of those regions
may be changed by the normal displacement of the earth's axis, or by some cataclysm. The word eternal,
therefore, in this case, does not mean infinitely perpetual. We say, in the suffering of some long illness,
that our days present the same "eternal round" of weariness; is it strange, then, that spirits who have
suffered for years, centuries, thousands of ages even, should express themselves in the same way?
Moreover, we must not forget that their state of backwardness prevents them from seeing the other end
of their road, and that they therefore believe themselves to be destined to suffer for ever; a belief which is
itself a part of their punishment.
The doctrine of material fire, of furnaces, and tortures, borrowed from the pagan Tartarus, is completely
given up by many of the most eminent theologians of the present day, who admit that the word "fire" is
employed figuratively in the Bible, and is to be understood as meaning moral fire (974). Those who, like
ourselves, have observed the incidents of the life beyond the grave, as presented to our view by the
communications of spirits, have had ample proof that its sufferings are none the less excruciating for not
being of a material nature. And even as regards the duration of those sufferings, many theologians are
beginning to admit the restriction
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indicated above, and to consider that the word eternal may be considered as referring to the principle of
penality in itself, as the consequence of an immutable law, and not to its application to each individual.
When religious teaching shall openly admit this interpretation, it will bring back to a belief in God and in
a future life many who are now losing themselves in the mazes of materialism.
Resurrection of the Body.
1010. Is the doctrine of the resurrection of tile body an implication of that of that of
reincarnation, as now taught by spirits?
"How could it be otherwise? It is with regard to that expression as to so many others, that
only appear unreasonable because they are taken literally, and are thus placed beyond the pale
of credibility; let them only be rationally explained, and those whom you call free-thinkers
will admit them without difficulty, precisely because they are accustomed to reflect.
Freethinkers, like the rest of the world, perhaps even more than others, thirst for a future; they
ask nothing better than to believe, but they cannot admit what is disproved by science. The
doctrine of the plurality of existences is conformable with the justice of God it alone can
explain what, without it, is inexplicable; how can you doubt, then, that its principle is to be
found in all religions?"
1011. The Church, then, in the dogma of the resurrection of the body, really teaches the
doctrine of reincarnation?
"That is evident; but it will soon be seen that reincarnation is implied in every part of Holy
Writ. Spirits, therefore, do not come to overthrow religion, as is sometimes asserted; they
come, On the contrary, to confirm and sanction it by irrefragable proofs. But, as the time has
arrived to renounce the use of figurative language, they speak without allegories, and give to
every statement a clear and precise meaning that obviates all danger of false interpretation.
For this reason there will be, ere long, a greater number of persons sincerely religious and
really believing than are to be found at the present day."
Physical science demonstrates the impossibility of resurrection according to the common idea. If the relics
of the human body remained homogeneous, even though dispersed and reduced to powder, we might
conceive the possibility of their being reunited at some future time ; but such is not the case. The body is
formed of various elements, oxygen, hydrogen, azote, carbon, etc., and these elements, being dispersed,
serve to form new bodies, so that the same molecule of carbon, for example, will have entered Into the
composition of many thousands of different bodies (we speak only of human bodies, without counting
those of animals); such and such an individual may have, in his body, molecules that were in the bodies of
the men of the earliest ages; and the very same organic molecules that you have this day absorbed in your
food may have come from the body of some one whom you have known; and so on, Matter being finite in
quantity, and its transformations being infinite in number, how is it possible that the innumerable bodies
formed out of it should be reconstituted with the same
elements? Such a reconstruction is a physical impossibility. The resurrection of the body can, therefore,
be rationally admitted only as a figure of speech, symbolising the fact of reincarnation; thus interpreted,
it has in it nothing repugnant to reason, nothing contrary to the data of physical science.
It is true that, according to theological dogma, this resurrection Is not to take place until the "Last Day,"
while, according to spiritist doctrine, it takes place every day; but is not this picture of the "Last
Judgement" a grand and noble metaphor, implying, under the veil of allegory, one of those immutable
truths that will no longer be met with incredulity when restored to their true meaning? To those who
carefully ponder the spiritist theory of the future destiny of souls, and of the fate that awaits them as the
result of various trials they have to undergo, it will be apparent that. with the exception of the condition
of simultaneousness, the judgement which condemns or absolves them is not a fiction, as is supposed by
unbelievers. It is also to be remarked that the judgement which assigns to each soul Its next place of
habitation is the natural consequence of the plurality of worlds, now generally admitted ; while,
according to the doctrine of the "Last Judgement," the earth is supposed to be the only inhabited world.
Paradise, Hell and Purgatory.
1012. Are there, in the universe, any circumscribed places set apart for the joys and sorrows
of spirits, according to their merits?
"We have already answered this question. The joys and sorrows of spirits are inherent in the
degree of perfection at which they have arrived. Each spirit finds in himself the principle of
his happiness or unhappiness; and, as spirits are everywhere, no enclosed or circumscribed
place is set apart for either the One or the other. As for incarnated spirits, they are more or
less happy or unhappy, according as the world they inhabit is more or less advanced."
-"Heaven" and "hell," then, as men have imagined them, have no existence?
"They are only symbols; there are happy and unhappy spirits everywhere. Nevertheless, as we
have also told you, spirits of the same order are brought together by sympathy; but, when they
are perfect, they can meet together wherever they will,"
The localisation of rewards and punishments in fixed places exists only in man's imagination; it proceeds
from his' tendency to materialise and to circumscribe the things of which he cannot comprehend the
1013. What is to be understood by Purgatory?
"Physical and moral suffering; the period of expiation, It is almost always upon the earth that
you are made by God to undergo your purgatory, and to expiate your wrong-doing."
What men call purgatory is also a figure of speech, that should be understood as signifying, not any
determinate place, but the state of imperfect spirits who have to expiate their faults until they have
attained the complete purification that will raise them to the state of perfect blessedness. As this
purification is effected by means of various incarnations, purgatory consists in the trials of corporeal life .
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1014. How is it that spirits who, by their language, would seem to be of high degree, have
replied according to the commonly-received ideas to those who have questioned them in the
most serious spirit concerning hell and purgatory?
"They speak according to the comprehension of those who question them, when the latter are
too fully imbued with preconceived ideas, in order to avoid any abrupt interference with their
convictions. If a spirit should tell a Mussulman, without proper precautions, that Mahomet
was not a true prophet, he would not he listened to with much cordiality."
- Such precautions are conceivable on the' part of spirits who wish to instruct us; but how is
it that others, when questioned as to their situation, have replied that they were suffering the
torture's of hell or of purgatory?
"Spirits of inferior advancement, who are not yet completely dematerialised, retain a portion
of their earthly ideas, and describe their impressions by means of terms that are familiar to
them. They are in a state that allows of their obtaining only a very imperfect foresight of the
future; for which reason it often happens that spirits in erraticity, or but recently freed from
their earthly body, speak just as they would have done during their earthly life. Hell may be
understood as meaning a life of extremely painful trial, with uncertainty as to the future
attainment of any better state; and purgatory as a life that is also one of trial, but with the
certainty of a happier future. Do you not say, when undergoing any very intense physical or
mental distress, that you are suffering 'the tortures of the damned' ? But such an expression is
only a figure of speech, and is always employed as such."
1015. What is to be understood by the expression, "a soul in torment"?
"An errant and suffering soul, uncertain about its future, and to whom you can render, in its
endeavour to obtain relief, an assistance that it often solicits at your hands by the act of
addressing itself to you." (664.)
1016. In what sense is the word heaven to be understood?
"Do you suppose it to be a place like the Elysian Fields of the ancients, where all good spirits
are crowded together pell-mell, with no other care than that of enjoying, throughout eternity,
a passive felicity? No; it is universal space; it is the planets, the
stars, and all the worlds of high degree, in which spirits are in the enjoyment of all their
faculties, without having the tribulations of material life, or the sufferings inherent in the state
1017. Spirits have said that they inhabited the third, fourth, and fifth heaven, etc.; what did
they mean in saying this?
"You ask them which heaven they inhabit, because you have the idea of several heavens,
placed one above the other, like the storeys of a house, and they therefore answer you
according to your own ideas; but, for them, the words 'third,' 'fourth,' or 'fifth' heaven, express
different degrees of purification, and consequently of happiness. It is the same when you ask a
spirit whether he is in hell; if he is unhappy, he will say 'yes,' because, for him, hell is
synonymous with suffering; but he knows very well that it is not a furnace. A Pagan would
have replied that lie was in Tartarus."
The same may be said in regard to other expressions of a similar character, such as "the city of flowers,"
"the city of the elect," the first, second, or third "sphere." etc., which are only allegorical, and employed
by some spirits figuratively, by others from ignorance of the reality of things, or even of the most
elementary principles of natural science.
According to the restricted idea formerly entertained in regard to the localities of rewards and
punishments, and to the common belief that the earth was the centre of the universe, that the sky formed
a vault overhead, and that there was a specific region of stars. men placed heaven up above, and hell
down below; hence the expressions to "ascend into heaven," to be in "the highest heaven." to be "cast
down into hell." etc. Now that astronomy, having traced up the earth's history and described its
constitution, has shown us that it is one of the smallest worlds that circulate in space and devoid of any
special importance, that space is infinite, and that there is neither "lip" nor "down" in the universe, men
have been obliged to cease placing heaven above the clouds. and hell in the "lower parts of the earth." As
for purgatory. no fixed place was ever assigned to it.
It was reserved for Spiritism to give. in regard to all these points, an explanation which is at once. and in
the highest degree, rational. sublime, and consoling, by showing us that we have in ourselves our "hell"
and our "heaven," and that we find our "purgatory" in the state of incarnation, in our successive
corporeal or physical lives.
1018. In what sense should we understand the words of Christ, 'My kingdom is not of this
"Christ, in replying thus, spoke figuratively. He meant to say that He reigned only over pure
and unselfish hearts, He is wherever the love of goodness holds sway; but they who are
greedy for the things of this world, and attached to the enjoyments of earth, are not with
1019. “Will the reign of goodness ever be established upon the earth?
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"Goodness will reign upon the earth when, among the spirits who come to dwell in it, the
good shall be more numerous than the bad; for they will then bring in the reign of love and
justice, which are the source of good and of happiness. It is through moral progress and
practical conformity with the laws of God, that men will attract to the earth good spirits, who
will keep bad ones away from it; but the latter will not definitively quit the earth until its
people shall be completely purified from pride and selfishness.
"The transformation of the human race has been predicted from the most ancient times, and
you are now approaching the period when it is destined to take place. All those among you
who are labouring to advance the progress of mankind are helping to hasten this
transformation, which will be effected through the incarnation, in your earth, of spirits of
higher degree, who will constitute a new population, of greater moral advancement than the
human races they will gradually have replaced. The spirits of the wicked people who are
mowed down each day by death, and of all who endeavour to arrest the onward movement,
will be excluded from the earth, and compelled to incarnate themselves elsewhere; for they
would be out of place among those nobler races of human beings, whose felicity would be
impaired by their presence among them. They will be sent into never worlds, less advanced
than the earth, and will therein fulfil hard and laborious missions, which will furnish them
with the means of advancing, while contributing also to the advancement of their brethren of
those younger worlds, less advanced than themselves, Do you not see, in this exclusion of
backward spirits from the transformed and regenerated earth, the true significance of the
sublime myth of the driving out of the first pair from the garden of Eden? And do you not
also see, in the advent of the human race upon the earth, under the conditions of such an
exile, and bringing within; itself the germs of its passions and the evidences of its primitive
inferiority, the real meaning of that other myth, no less sublime, of the fall of those first
parents, entailing the sinfulness of their descendants? 'Original sin,' considered from this
point of view, is seen to consist in the imperfection of human nature; and each of the spirits
subsequently incarnated in the human race is therefore responsible only for his own
imperfection and his own wrong-doing, and not for those of his forefathers.
"Devote yourselves, then, with zeal and courage to the great work of regeneration, all you
who are processed of faith and good will; you will reap a hundredfold for all the seed you
sow, Woe to those who close their eyes against the light; for they will have condemned
themselves to long ages of darkness and sorrow! Woe to those who centre their enjoyment in
the pleasures of the earthly life; for they will undergo privations more numerous than their
present pleasures! And woe, above all, to the selfish; for they will find none to aid them in
bearing the burden of their future misery!"
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, 0 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 criticise; 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 criticise, but to give proof of frivolity and want of
judgement. 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 honour 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 marvellous and the supernatural,
which they deny; and as, according to them, Spiritism is founded on the marvellous 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
"marvellous" 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 marvellous and super-natural, since they are,
according to liturgical acceptation, derogations from the laws of nature, so that, in rejecting
the marvellous 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
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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 marvellous 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 familyties
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 sceptical 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 to-morrow,
he will be nothing