By the aid of new lights carried by Spiritism and the spirits, man comprehends the solidarity which binds all beings together. Charity and fraternity become social necessities. Man does from conviction that which he did only for duty's sake; and this is better when men will practice the moral teachings of Christ. Then alone will they be able to say that they have no more need of embodied or disembodied moralists; then God will send them no more of them. The latter is one of the most important questions which is based upon the title of this chapter: What is the authority of spiritual revelation, since it emanates from beings whose light is limited, and who are not infallible? The objection would be serious if this revelation consisted only of the spirit instructions, - if we should hold it as from them exclusively, and accept it with closed eyes. It is without value until man carries to it the co-operation of his knowledge and judgment, as the spirits are constrained from putting it in the way of deductions which he can draw from observation of facts. Now, the manifestations in their innumerable variety are facts. Man studies them, and seeks in them the law. He is aided in this work by spirits of all orders, who are collaborators rather than revealers in the usual sense of the word. He submits their sayings to the control of logic and good sense. In this way he benefits by some special knowledge which is derived from their position, without abdicating the use of his own reason. The spirits being none other than the souls of men, in communicating with them we do not go away from humanity, which is a capital circumstance to consider. Men of genius who have been the beacon-lights of humanity have come to us from the spirit-world, as they have re-entered it on quitting the earth. Since spirits can communicate with men, these same geniuses can give us instructions under a spiritual form, as they have done in a corporal one. They can instruct us after death, as they did in life. They are invisible, instead of visible, which is all the difference.
Their experience and knowledge ought not to be less; and if their word, like that of man's, had authority, it ought not to have less because that they are in the land of spirits. But there are not only superior spirits which manifest, there are also those of all orders; and that is necessary in order to initiate us into the true character of the spiritual world, by showing it to us in all its phases. By this means the relations between the visible and invisible world are intimate, the connection is more evident. We see more clearly whence we came, and whither we go. Such is the essential object of these manifestations. All spirits, in whatever degree to which they may attain, teach us something; but, as they are more or less enlightened, it is left to us to determine whether they are good or evil, and to profit by their teaching as it permits. Now all, whomsoever they may be, can teach and reveal to us facts of which we are ignorant, and which but for them we should never know. Wise, incarnated spirits are powerful individualities, - indisputably so; but their action is restrained and necessarily slow in propagating itself.
Allowing that one among them should come alone, - be it even Elias, Moses, Socrates, or Plato, - to reveal to us in these latter days the state of the spiritual world, which one among them would have proved the truth of his assertions in this time of skepticism? Would not men have regarded him as a dreamer or utopist? And, admitting that his teachings were accepted as the absolute truth, centuries would pass away before they would be accepted by the masses. God in his wisdom has not ordained it thus; he has willed that the instruction be given by the spirits themselves, and not by the embodied ones, in order to convince men of their existence, and that it might take place simultaneously over all the earth, which may have been to propagate it the more rapidly, or that we might find in the coincidence of the teaching a proof of its truth, each one having thus the means of convincing himself. The spirits come not to free man from work, study, or research; they bring no ready-made science; they leave him to his own strength in that which he can discover for himself. The spirits know perfectly well today that for a long time experience has demonstrated the error of the opinion which attribute to spirits the possession of all knowledge and wisdom, and that it was sufficient to address one's self to the first spirit which came, in order to know all things. After leaving the earth, spirits occupy one out of many spiritual planes, as upon earth there are superior and vulgar persons. Many spirits then know scientifically and philosophically less than certain men; they all no more, and often less, than they know. As among men, the most advanced can teach us more, and give us more judicious advice, than those less advanced. To demand counsel of spirits is not to address supernatural powers, but persons like ourselves, - those to whom we would turn for counsel in their earthly life, as parents, friends, and individuals more enlightened than ourselves.
Here is an important fact for those who are ignorant of Spiritism, and have formed a false idea of the nature of the world of spirits and of the condition of affairs beyond the tomb. What is then the utility of these manifestations, or, as we may say, this revelation, if the spirits know no more than ourselves, or if they do not tell us all they know? Firstly, as we have said, they abstain from giving us that which we can acquire by labor. Secondly, there are facts which they are not permitted to reveal, because we are not sufficiently advanced to receive them. But, aside from this, the conditions of their new existence extend the circle of their perceptions. They see that which they saw not upon earth, freed from the trammels of matter. Delivered from the cares of the corporeal life, they judge things from a more elevated point, from a healthier one; their perspicuity embraces a broader horizon; they perceive their errors, and disembarass themselves of human prejudices. It is in this that the superiority of spirits over embodied humanity consists; therefore their counsel will be, according to their degree of advancement, more judicious and disinterested than that of the embodied. Conditions are found by which they can instruct us in principles of which we are ignorant. Until now men had created only suppositions in regard to the future. That is why beliefs upon this point have been divided into systems so numerous and so divergent, - from a belief in nothing to fantastic ideas of hell-fire and paradise. Today we have ocular demonstration; the actors themselves from the life beyond the tomb, who alone can give us knowledge of it, come to tell us what it is. These manifestations serve, then, to give us knowledge of the invisible world which surrounds us, of which, without them, we should not be aware of the existence. This knowledge alone should be considered of the highest importance, even supposing that the spirits were incapable of teaching us any thing more. If you should go into a strange country by yourself, would you reject the teachings of the most humble peasant whom you chanced to encounter? Would you refuse to interrogate him about the state of the land because that he was only a peasant? You would not expect from him, certainly, intelligence of a very high character; but such as it is, and in his sphere, he will be able, upon certain points, to give you better than a wise man who does not know the country. You will draw from his indications sequences which you could not do of yourself. He will have been at least a useful instrument for your observations, had he served only to make known to you the customs of the peasants. It is the same in connection with the spirits, where the lowest can teach us something.
A common incident will explain the matter better. A ship loaded with emigrants departs for a far-distant locality. It carries men of all conditions, the relatives and friends of whom remain at home. One learns that this ship has been wrecked. No trace remains of it; no news is obtained in regard to its fate. It is thought that all the passengers have perished; and mourning is in all the families. However, the entire company, without the loss of a single soul, has landed upon an unknown soil, which is abundant and fertile, where all live happily under favoring skies; but their friends are ignorant of their fate. Now, one happy another ship reaches their shore; it finds all the shipwrecked ones safe and well. The happy news spreads with lightning-like rapidity. Each one says, "Our friends are not lost;" and they give thanks to God. They cannot see each other; but they correspond, exchange testimonies of affection, and joy succeeds to sadness. Such is terrestrial life and life beyond the grave before and after modern revelation. The latter, like the second ship, carries to us the good news of the survival of those who are dear to us, and the certitude of one day rejoining them. Doubt in regard to their fate and our own exists no more; discouragement is effaced by hope.
But other results are added to enrich this revelation. God, judging humanity ripe enough to penetrate the mystery of its destiny, and to contemplate with composure new marvels, has permitted the veil between the known and unknown worlds to be raise. The fact of the manifestations has nothing supernatural about it; it is spiritual humanity come to talk to humanity in the flesh, and to say to it, "We exist: nothingness exists not. Behold that which we are, and that which you will be; the future is the same for you as to us. You walk in darkness; we come to through light upon your way, and to prepare it before you. Terrestrial life was all you could comprehend, because you saw nothing beyond. We come to say to you, in showing the spiritual life to you, the earthly life is as nothing. Your sight was arrested at the tomb; we come to show you the splendid horizon beyond it. You knew not why you suffer upon earth; now, in suffering, you see the justice of God. Goodness was unfruitful for the future; it will have henceforth an object, and will be a necessity. Fraternity was only a beautiful theory; it is now firmly established as a law of nature. Under the empire of the belief that death ends all, immensity is void, egotism reigns master among you, and your watchword is, 'Each one for himself.'" With a certitude of the future, infinite space is peopled with infinitude. Emptiness and solitude do not exist; solidarity joins all beings both this side and beyond the tomb together. It is the reign of charity with the device, "Each one for all, and all for every one." Instead of bidding an eternal adieu to dear friends at the close of life, you will now say, "Good-by till I see you again." Such are the results of the new revelation. It has come to fill the void which incredulity has deepened, to revive hope where it is withering into doubt and a perspective of nonentity, to give to every thing a reason for existing. Is this result, then, without importance because the spirits come no to solve scientific problems, and to give to the indolent the means of enriching themselves without trouble? However, the fruits which man ought to gather from it are not only those for a future life; he will extract good from the transformation that these new beliefs ought to work in his character, his tastes, his tendencies, and, in pursuance of which, upon his habits and social relations. In putting an end to egotism, pride, and incredulity, the way is paved for the blessing, which is the reign of God. Revelation has then for its object the giving to man certain truths which he is unable to acquire by himself alone, by which he may accelerate his progress in knowledge. These truths are generally kept within the limits of fundamental principles destined to put him in the way of research, and not to guide him by a leading-string. There are landmarks to show him the end in view. To him is allotted the task of studying and deducing from them their applications. Far from freeing him from labor, these are but new elements furnished for his activity.
Source: The Spiritist Messenger, Year 12, Number 102, December, 2008