Caracter of the spiritual revelation
Caracter of the spiritual revelation - Part 4
Spiritism, very far from denying or destroying the gospel, on the contrary comes to confirm, explain, and prove it. By the new laws of nature that it reveals, it throws light upon the obscure points of the teachings of Jesus, upon all that he has done and said, in such a way that those to whom certain parts of the gospel were formerly unintelligible, or seemed inadmissible, comprehend them without trouble by the aid of Spiritism, accept them, and better understand their importance as they are able to separate the reality from the allegory. Christ appears to them in a grander light. He is no longer simply a philosopher; he is a divine Messiah. Besides the moral power that Spiritism wields is the importance that it gives to all actions of life. It points with its finger at the consequences of goodness and wickedness; gives moral force and courage; gives consolation in afflictions by inducing unalterable confidence in the future, by the thought of having near one the beings that one has loved, the assurance of seeing them again, the possibility of conversing with them, the certainty that all one has accomplished, all one has acquired of intelligence, science, or morality till the last hour of life, nothing is lost, that all yields advancement. One finds that Spiritism realizes all the promises of Christ in regard to the Comforter that he promised to send. Now, as it is the Spirit of Truth who presides over the great work of regeneration, the promise of his coming is even now realized by the fact that it is he who is the true Consoler. ¹
If to these facts one adds the unheard-of rapidity of the propagation of Spiritism, notwithstanding all which has been done to combat it, one cannot deny that its coming is providential, since it triumphs over all the forces of allied human antagonism. The facility with which it is accepted by such a large number of persons, and that without constraint, without other pressure than the power of the idea, proves that it responds to a need, - that of believing in something after the belief in nothing, which skepticism caused; and consequently it has come at the right time. Afflictions are many in number. It is not then surprising that so many men accept a doctrine which comforts them in preference to one which gives no reasonable hope of a future; for it is to the unhappy of earth that Spiritism addresses itself particularly. The invalid welcomes a physician with more joy than he who is well. Now, the afflicted are the invalids, and the Comforter is the physician. You who combat Spiritism, if you desire that one leave it to follow you, give something more than it supplies, and something better; cure soul-wounds more surely; give more consolation, more satisfaction to the heart, more legitimate hopes, greater certitudes; paint for the future a more attractive picture, and withal one more rational; but think not to gain your end, you with the perspective of nonentity, you with the alternative of the flames of hell, or of useless, sanctimonious, perpetual contemplation!
The first revelation was personified in Moses, the second in Christ, the third in no one individual. The two first are individuals; the third is collective, which is an essential character of great importance. It is collective in this sense, that it has been made in favor of no one person; consequently, no one can be called the exclusive prophet of it. It has been given simultaneously in all parts of the earth to millions of persons, of all ages, of all faiths, of all conditions, from the lowest to the highest according to the prediction given by the author of the Acts of the Apostles: "In the latter days, saith the Lord, I will send my spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." It has not sprung from any one special civilization, but serves as a rallying-point for all. ²
The two former revelations, being the product of a personal teaching, have been forcibly localized; that is to say, they have taken place in one locality from which knowledge has extended gradually; but centuries were necessary in order for it to reach the extremities of the globe, and even then without environing it altogether. The third has this peculiarity, that, not being personified in one individual, it is rained down simultaneously upon thousands of different points, which have become centers or focuses of radiation. These centers multiplying themselves, their rays meet again little by little, like circles formed by a multitude of stones thrown into the water, in such a manner that in a given time they will have covered the entire surface of the globe. Such is one of the causes of the rapid propagation of the doctrine. If it had surged upon a single point, if it had been the exclusive work of one man, it would have formed a sect around him; but a half century might have passed before it had passed the limits of the country where it would have taken root, while Spiritism, after a period of ten years, had planted its beacon-lights from pole to pole. This unheard of circumstance in the history of teachings gives to it an exceptional force, and an irresistible power of action. Indeed, if any thing checks it at one point in one country, it is literally impossible to curb it in all points in all countries. For one place where it will be disregarded, there will be a thousand where it will flourish. As no one can reach it in an individual, one cannot attain to the spirits who are the source of it. Now, as spirits are everywhere, it is impossible that they could be made to disappear from the globe. They are always appearing; and the belief in them reposes upon a fact in nature, and one cannot suppress a law of nature. This fact alone should convince those who are not quite persuaded to become believers ("Spir. Review," February, 1865, p. 38; Perpetuity of Spiritism").
However, these different centers might have remained for a long time isolated from one another, situated as are some in far distant countries. A connection was necessary between them, which should place them in communion with their brothers in belief by teaching them that which was done elsewhere. This union of thought, which would have been impossible to the Spiritism of antiquity, is accomplished by the numerous publications which are now found everywhere; which condense, under a unique, concise, and methodical form, the teaching given everywhere through multiplied methods of expression, and in diverse languages. The two first revelations could have been only the result of a direct teaching; they were imposed on the mind by the authority of the word of the Master, men being too undeveloped to join in the work of their elaboration. Let us remark at the same time a very sensible shade of resemblance between them, important to the progress of morals and ideas; it is that they were given to the same people in the same locality, but at an interval of nearly eighteen hundred years. The doctrine of Moses is absolute, despotic; it admits not of discussion, but imposes itself upon all people by force. That of Jesus is essentially that of counsel and advice; it is freely accepted, and gains its advocates by persuasion; it is discussed by the living person of its Founder, who disdains not to argue with his adversaries. The third revelation comes at an epoch of emancipation and of intellectual maturity, where developed intelligence cannot agree to play a passive rôle; where man accepts nothing blindly, but wishes to see whiter one conducts him; to know the why and the how of every thing. It claims to be at the same time the product of a teaching, and the fruit of labor, or research, and of free examination.
Spirits teach us only that which is necessary to put us in the way of truth; but they abstain from revealing to man that which he can discover by himself, leaving to him the care of discussing, controlling, and submitting all to the crucible of reason, leaving him often to learn the lesson at his own expense. It gives to him the principal, the materials from which to draw the interest and to put it in use. The elements of spiritual revelation having been given simultaneously at a multitude of points to men of all social conditions and of different degrees of knowledge, it is very evident that observations could not have been made everywhere with the same effect; that the sequences drawn from them, the relation of the laws which govern this order of phenomena, - in a word, the conclusion which ought to establish ideas, - could proceed only from the harmony and correlation of facts. Now, every isolated center, circumscribed in a limited circle, seeing most often only a particular order of manifestations, sometimes in appearance contradictory, having communications generally with the same category of spirits, and, moreover, guided by local influence and party spirit, finds it materially impossible to embrace the whole, powerless to join isolated observations to a common principle. Each one judging facts according to his knowledge and his anterior beliefs, or by the particular opinions of the spirits manifesting, there would soon be as many theories and systems as centers, of which no one would be complete, in default of elements of comparison and of control. In a word, each one would remain content with his partial revelation, believing it to include all the truth, for want of knowing that in a hundred other places one could obtain more or better. It is well to observe further, that nowhere has spiritual teaching been given in a complete manner. It touches upon so great a number of observations, upon subjects so diverse, which exact, it may be knowledge, it may be a special aptitude for arriving at the heart of them, that it is simply impossible to unite at the same point all the necessary conditions. Teaching having become collective, and not individual, the spirits have divided the labor by disseminating the subjects of study and observation, as in certain manufactories different parts of the object manufactured are divide among different workmen. Revelation is thus partially given in diverse places, and by a multitude of intermediaries; and it is in this manner still to be followed up, for all is not revealed. Every center finds in the other centers the complement of that which it obtains, and it is only the joining together of all instructions which can constitute the doctrine of Spiritism.
It is, moreover, necessary to group the facts gleaned, in order to see their corresponding similarity, to gather the different documents, instructions given by spirits upon all points and all subjects, in order to compare them and analyze them by studying their analogy and difference. Communications being given by spirits of all orders more or less clearly, it is necessary to learn the degree of confidence reason would accord to them; to distinguish the systematic, individual, and isolated ideas from those which had the sanction of the general teaching of the spirits; to separate the Utopian from the practical, to cut away those which were notoriously contradictory, judged by positive science and healthy logic; to utilize the errors even, the information given by spirits of the lowest sphere, for a knowledge of the invisible world; and to form of it a homogeneous whole. In a word, a center of elaboration is necessary, independent of all preconceived ideas, of all prejudices of sect, resolved to accept a self-evident truth, though it be contrary to one's personal opinion. This center forms itself by the force of things, and without premeditated design. ³
² Our special rôle in the grand movement of ideas which is produced by Spiritism, and which is already operating,is that of an attentive observer who studies facts to seek their cause, and to draw from them definite results. We have confronted all those whom we could possibly gather around us; who have compared and commented upon instructions given by the spirits from all parts of the globe; then we have arranged the whole methodically. In a word, we have studied, and given to the public the fruit of our researches, without attributing to our labors other value than that of a philosophical work deduced from observation and experience, never desiring to put ourselves in the place of a chief of doctrine, or desiring to thrust our ideas upon any one. In publishing them, we have used a common right, and those who have accepted them have done so freely. If these ideas have found numerous sympathizers, it is that they have had the advantage of responding to the aspirations of a great number; of this we are not vain, as their origin belongs not to us. Our greatest merit is that of perseverance and devotion to the cause we have espoused. We have only done that which others also can do. That is why we have made no pretension of being a prophet or Messiah, and do not believe ourselves such.
³ The "Spirits' Book," the first work which took a philosophical view of the doctrine, by the deduction of moral sequences from facts, which had approached all parts of the belief, in touching upon the most important questions that it raised, has been, since its appearance, the rallying-point towards which the individual works have spontaneously converged. It is worthy of note that from the publication of this book dates the era of the Spiritist Philosophy, previously coming under the head of curiosities of experience.
Source: The Spiritist Messenger, Year 12, Number 100, October, 2008