Spiritism having taught us of the invisible world which surrounds us, and in the midst of which we live without doubt, the laws which govern it, its connection with the visible world, the nature and state of the beings who inhabit it, and by tracing the destiny of man after death, is a veritable revelation in the scientific acceptance of the word.
By its nature, the spiritual revelation has a twofold character; it is at the same time a divine and a scientific revelation. It is the first in that its coming is providential, and not the result of the initiative and premeditative design of man; the fundamental points of the doctrine being the fact of the teaching given by spirits commissioned by God to enlighten men concerning things whereof they were ignorant, - things they could not learn by themselves, and which it is important for them to know today, as they are ready to comprehend them. It is the second because it informs us that this teaching is a privilege granted to no one individual, but that it is given to all the world by the same means (or in the same way) that those who transmit and those who receive it are not passive beings, excused from the work of observation and research; that they are not called upon to abnegate their judgment and their free will; that their control of themselves is not interdicted, but, on the contrary, recommended; and, finally, that the whole doctrine has not been enunciated in every part, nor imposed upon blind belief, but is deduced by the work of man, by the observation of facts that the spirits place before us, while the instructions that they give to us compel us to study, comment, compare, until we arrive at a knowledge of consequences and applications. I a word, that which characterizes the spiritual revelation is the divine source from which it proceeds, - that the initiative belongs to the spirits, and that the elaboration is the work of man.
As a mean of elaboration, Spiritism proceeds in exactly the same course as the exact sciences; that is to say, it applies the experimental method. Some facts of a new order present themselves, which cannot be explained by known laws. It teaches us to observe, compare, analyze them, and, from effects, arrive at causes; it reveals the laws which govern them; it then deduces the consequences, and seeks for useful applications; it establishes no one preconceived theory. Thus it has not presented as an hypothesis either the existence or intervention of spirits, neither the existence of the perispirit, or reincarnation, or any one principle of the doctrine. It has proved the existence of spirits in the beyond, and with it the other principles connected with the spiritual life. These are not facts which are revealed after a theory has been formed to confirm them; but the theory has subsequently arisen to explain the facts, and make a résumé of them. It is rigorously exact to declare that Spiritism is a science of observation, and not the product of the imagination.
Let us cite an example: there happens in the world of spirits a very singular occurrence, and one that assuredly no one would have imagined. It is that some disembodied spirits think they are still embodied. However, the superior spirits, who know it well, do not tell us, in response to our anticipation, "There are some spirits who believe that they live in the earth-life, who have preserved their states, their habits, and their instincts." We have invoked the manifestation of this category of spirits in order that we may observe them.
Having then seen spirits uncertain of their state, or affirming that they were yet of this world, attending to their ordinary occupations, the example has proved the fact. The multiplicity of similar facts has proved that it was not an exception, but one of the phases of spirit-life. We have been permitted to study all the varieties and causes of this singular illusion; have recognized that this situation is characteristic of those but little advance morally, and that it is peculiar to certain kinds of death; that it is not necessarily of very short duration, but can continue for months, and even years. It is thus that theory is born of observation. It is the same of all other principles of doctrine. Just as science, properly speaking, has for object the study of the laws of material principles, the special object of Spiritism is the knowledge of the laws of spiritual principles. Now, as this latter class of principles is one of the forces of nature, as it acts incessantly and reciprocally upon the material principles, the result of it is, that knowledge of one cannot be complete without knowledge of the other; that separated, they are incomplete; that science without Spiritism finds itself utterly powerless to explain certain phenomena by laws of matter alone; that, having abstracted the spiritual principle, it is arrested in its researches, - while Spiritism without science would lack support and control, and would be considered an illusion. Had Spiritism appeared before scientific discoveries, it would have been an abortive work, like every thing which comes before its proper time.
All sciences are joined to and succeed one another in rational order. One is born of the other, according as they find support in anterior knowledge and ideas. Astronomy, one of the first which might have been cultivated, has remained in the infancy of its errors till the moment when physics came to reveal the law of the forces of natural agents. Chemistry, being unable to do any thing without physics, must needs come next in succession, in order that they should walk together, and lean one upon another. Anatomy, physiology, zoology, botany, and mineralogy have been recognized as veritable sciences only by the aid of the lights carried by physics and chemistry. Geology, born of yesterday, without astronomy, physics, chemistry, and all the others, would have failed to possesses true elements of vitality. It could not be born until they had been recognized.
Modern science has done justice to the four primitive elements of the ancients, and from observation to observation it has arrived at the conception of one generative element alone in all the transformations of matter; but matter by itself is inert; it has neither life, thought, nor sentiment; its union with spiritual principle is a necessity. Spiritism has not invented this principle, but was the first to demonstrate it by undeniable proofs. It has studied it, analyzed it, and revealed it in evident action. To the material element it has come to add the spiritual. The material and spiritual elements are the two living principles or forces of nature. By the indissoluble union of these two elements, we can explain without difficulty a crowd of facts hitherto inexplicable. In its essence simply, and as having for its object the study of one of these two constituent elements of the universe, Spiritism lays forcible hold of the greater part of the sciences. It could only work thus after the elaboration of these sciences, and, above all, after they had exhibited their powerlessness to explain all things by the laws of matter alone.
Spiritism is accused by some of being in alliance with Magic and Sorcery; but men forget that Astronomy has for her elder sister Astrology, which is not totally discarded from among the beliefs of today; that Chemistry is the daughter of Alchemy, with which no scientific man would dare to occupy himself today. No one denies, however, that there were in Astrology and Alchemy the germs of truth, from which have sprung actual sciences; And that, notwithstanding its ridiculous formulas, Alchemy has revealed the law of affinity between material bodies. Astrology was supported by its knowledge of the position and movement of the stars it had studied; but, owing to ignorance of the true laws which ruled the mechanism of the universe, the stars were, for the vulgar, mysterious beings ruling the destinies of men, superstition lending to them a moral influence and prophetic meaning. When Galileo, Newton, and Kepler had demonstrated the laws from which the telescope had withdrawn the veil, and given to men that glance into the depths of space which certain people considered so indiscreet, the planets appeared to us as simple worlds, similar to our own; and all the lattice-work of the marvelous crumbled away. It is the same with Spiritism in regard to magic and sorcery; the two latter were supported truly by spiritual manifestations, as astrology was upon the movement of the stars; but, in the ignorance of the laws which rule the spiritual world, there were joined to these communications ridiculous practices and beliefs, to which modern Spiritism, the fruit of experience and observation, has done justice. Assuredly the distance which separates Spiritism from magic and sorcery is greater than that which divides astronomy from astrology, chemistry from alchemy. The desire to confound them proves that one knows not the first thing about them. The simple fact of the possibility of communion with beings of the spiritual world opens up to us incalculable consequences of the highest gravity and importance. Here a new world is revealed to us, and one which is so much the more important in that it awaits all men without exception! Knowledge concerning it cannot fail to produce, in a general sense, a profound modification in the customs, character, habits, and beliefs which exert so great an influence upon man's social life.
It has caused a revolution in ideas, a revolution so great and powerful that it is not circumscribed to any one people, much less to one caste, but reaches simultaneously the heart of all classes, all nationalities, all civilizations. For the best of reasons, Spiritism is considered the third grand revelation. Let us see wherein the revelations differ, and how they are attached to one another. Moses, as a prophet, has revealed to men the knowledge of the only true God, Sovereign Master of all things. He has promulgated the law of Sinai, and laid the foundation of the true faith. As a man he has been the legislator of the people, through whom his primitive faith has exerted an influence over all the earth. Christ, taking from the ancient laws all that is eternal and divine, rejecting only that which was transitory, because purely disciplinary and of human conception, also adds a revelation of the future life of which Moses had not spoken, - with its retributions and recompenses which await all mankind after physical dissolution. The most important part of the revelation of Christ, its Alpha and Omega, the corner-stone of his doctrine, is the new character given to divinity. God is no more the vindictive, jealous, and terrible God of Moses, the cruel and unmerciful God who bathes the earth with human blood, who orders the massacre and extermination of nations, without excepting women, children, and the aged; who chastises those who spare the victims. He is no more the unjust God who punishes a whole community for the faults of its chief, even punishing the innocent in the stead of the guilty, visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children, but a merciful God, sovereignly just and good, full of tenderness and mercy, who pardons the repentant sinner, and rewards every one according to his works. He is no more the God of a favored people, the God of armies, presiding at combats in order to sustain his own cause against the gods of other nations, but the common Father of humanity, who extends his protection over all his children, and calls them all his own. He is no more the God who recompenses or punishes by giving or withholding earthly goods, who makes glory and good fortune to consist in conquering rival nations, and placing them in a state of slavery, or in the multiplicity of progeny; but he is the God who says to men, "Your true country is not of this world; it is in the celestial kingdom; it is there that the lowly in heart shall be elevated, and the proud abased." He is no more the God who makes a virtue of vengeance, ordering us to exact "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," but the God of mercy, who says, "Forgive if you would be forgiven; return good for evil; do unto others as ye would that others would do unto you." He is no more the exacting and tyrannical God who imposes the most rigorous laws upon us in regard to the ceremonies by which he desires to be adored, who is offended with the inobservance of a formula, but the great and good God who is honored not by the form or ceremony, but by the sincere, heartfelt thought. He is no more the God to be feared, but the God to be loved. God being the pivot of all religious beliefs, the base of all civilization, the character of all religions conform to the idea they give of God. Those which make him vindictive and cruel think they honor him by acts of cruelty, by butcheries and tortures; those who make him a partial and jealous God are intolerant, over-scrupulous in forms, according as they believe him to be more or less tainted with weaknesses and human errors. The whole doctrine of Christ is founded upon the character he attributes to divinity.
With an impartial God, perfectly just, good, and merciful, he has been able to make of the love of God and charity toward one's neighbor the express condition of salvation, and to say, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Upon this belief alone he has been able to base the principle of the equality of men before God, and of universal fraternity. This revelation of the true attributes of divinity, joined to that of the immortality of the soul and of man's future life, deeply modified the mutual relations of men, imposed upon them new obligations, caused them to view the present life under another light. It effected a marked change for the better in the manners and social relations of humanity. It is incontestably, in its consequences, the most important point in the revelation of Christ, of which one can never fully appreciate the importance. Sad to say, it is the point least commented upon, - the one which has been misconstrued in a greater degree than all his other teachings. However, Christ adds, "Many things I say unto you which you do not understand. I have yet many things to say unto you; but ye cannot hear them now." That is why I speak to you in parables; but later I will send to you the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, and when he is come he will guide you into all truth. I Christ did not impart all the truth which he was capable of giving, he thought it better to leave some truths in shadow until men should be capable of comprehending them. From his own acknowledgment, his teachings were then incomplete. Since he announces the coming of the spirit who should add unto them, he prophesied that they would misunderstand his words; that they would deviate from his teachings; in a word, that they would deteriorate from that which he had done for them, but every thing he declared should be re-established. Now, one re-establishes only that which has been defective. Why did he call the new Messiah the Comforter? This significant name, without ambiguity, is a revelation in itself. It predicted that men would have need of consolation, which, he implies, should spring from an insufficient knowledge of truth. They would find this in a belief they could not then immediately espouse.
Scarcely ever has Christ been so clear and explicit as in these last words, which have gained the particular attention of but few people, perhaps because teachers have failed to place them in the right light to deepen their prophetic sense. If Christ has not been able to develop his teachings in a complete manner, it is because men were so ignorant, and they could acquire knowledge only with time. He treated of things which appeared to them visionary and unreal in their undeveloped state. In order to complete his mission, it was only necessary to explain and develop truths already given. It was unnecessary to add new truth; for the germ of all was found in his words; the key only was wanting which should unlock their meaning. But who dares to attempt to change the meaning of the Holy Scriptures? Who has the right? Who possesses the necessary light, if not the theologians? Who will dare to undertake it? Science first, which asks permission of no one to make known the laws of nature. She crushes under her feet the most beloved errors and prejudices. What man has this right?
Source: The Spiritist Messenger, Year 12, Number 98, August, 2008