The Kingdom of God or Nothing!!!

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Pre-Existence

by
Ogden Kraut

All men, male and female, that ever have lived, or that ever will live on this earth, had a pre-existence before the formation of the earth commenced; and during our pre-existence in the heavens, the earth was undergoing this formation.                                                                                                                                            –Orson Pratt    J.D. 16:318

 

1985

PREFACE

The doctrine of pre-existence, or pre-mortal life, is generally not believed in by most of the modern Christian churches that have been spawned in our generation. Yet, most of the world’s population believe in some form of pre-existence. Not until the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith did a clear and important part of this doctrine become understood. It is clearly taught in the Bible, yet most of our modern ministers have overlooked it. It is so important to our understanding of the Gospel, that it would be like trying to fly a plane with only some of the parts.

Contained in this compilation are many of the quotations of men who clarified various aspects of the doctrine of pre-existence. Not all the available quotations are included, neither is the entire sermon from which these quotes are taken. The information is arranged according to subject matter, and since they tell a fairly complete story themselves, the author has made only preliminary statements preceding each chapter, and added an introduction and conclusion to the entire publication.

Much of the material used is taken from Orson Pratt, who spoke and wrote more on that subject than any other person in Church history–even much more than was said by President Brigham Young. Among others commenting on this important subject were Joseph Smith, John Taylor, Parley P. Pratt, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph Fielding Smith. The most extensive work was written by Orson Pratt in his book The Seer, under the title of “PreExistence;” extensive excerpts of that work are included in Chapter 2 of this book, “Scriptural Review.”

This compilation is the first of a three-volume set: “The Pre-Existence,” “Paradise,” and “The Resurrection.” Hopefully they will give the reader a more complete understanding of the plan of salvation.

 

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[3]                               Chapter 1

 

INTRODUCTION

God said that He was “no respecter of persons.” However, one quick look at the condition of mankind shows they are very unequally born in this world.

Some of God’s children are born fat or skinny, while others are blessed with very well proportioned bodies. Some are ugly or deformed, but others are handsome and beautiful. Several come to this world in sickness, suffering blindness, deafness, or insanity, while others enjoy full faculties of their mind and body.

Part of God’s children are born into wealth and prosperity, while others never have a luxury or even a taste of riches. Some are born with the intellect of a genius, or are gifted in music, science, art, etc.; but another portion never learn to even read or write.

 

Geographically speaking, some enjoy the best of climate, resources and circumstances, while others endure life in torrid jungles, deserts or the frigid cold.

Whoever said that all men are created equal certainly was ignoring conditions existing outside his own circle of family and friends. True, men are equally endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, but He did not bring them into this world in an equal physical condition. But then, He never said He would. In fact, the scriptures prove He has said the opposite. They explain that we are His children and He is our Father–that we were born spiritually before we were born physically. Yet the Christian world as a whole understand little about this spiritual pre-existence.

 

[4]           If we had no pre-mortal existence, and God is a just and fair God, why did He put us down here in such unequal, unfair and unjust circumstances?

Jesus said:

What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being, evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things…. (Matt. 7:9-11)

How can we explain some getting bread and fish while others get serpents or stones? If man had no premortal existence, then what is the reason for the unequal and unfair condition of mortals on earth? If there is no pre-existence, then God is much more unfair, unjust and biased with His children than they are towards each other!

It is said that we came into this world’s conditions according to our previous commitment, worthiness and fore-ordination. We are where we are by what we did in the Pre-existence–and we are going to a heavenly condition based on what we do here.

Pre-existence is not only logical and reasonable, it is scriptural and predicated upon an all-wise and divine plan. It is one of the most beautiful doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

 

[5]                               Chapter 2

 

SCRIPTURAL REVIEW

The best scriptural review ever written on the subject of pre-existence was first published by the Apostle Orson Pratt in 1853 in The Seer. His rather lengthy, but thorough, presentation is so reasonable and clear that it should leave no doubts on the Biblical support of that doctrine. This chapter contains extensive excerpts from Elder Pratt’s treatise.

 

The Pre-Existence of Man (Excerpts)

by Apostle Orson Pratt as published in THE SEER.

Life and intelligence are not the result of organization, but they are the cause; and, therefore, they must exist before the effects can follow. Our bodies are formed from the dust of the death, but are our spirits made from the same materials? If they were, then they would, at death, return to dust; but as they are not reduced to dust, like the body, they must be formed of materials far superior to those of the earth. Where did those materials come from? They came from God. Solomon, when speaking upon the subject of death, says, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall RETURN unto God who gave it.” (Eccles. 12:7) According to this passage, the spirit has, not an earthly origin, but a heavenly one: it came from God–it returns to God. “God who gave it,” also receives it back into His presence.

 

[6]           Could the spirit return to God, if it never were in His presence? Could we return to a place where we never were before? If, then, the spirits of men existed with God, and came from Him to animate mortal bodies, they must either be created in Heaven at the time the infant tabernacles are being formed, or else they existed before.

Inasmuch as Scripture informs us that the spirit of man existed with God, and came from Him, and returns to Him, it is reasonable to believe that its formation took place at a period anterior to the organization of the body. This period of pre-existence must have been sufficiently long to have educated and instructed the spirit in the laws and order of government, pertaining to the spiritual world; to have rendered itself approved or disapproved by those laws; to have been tried in all points, according to its capacities and knowledge, and the free agency which always accompanies and forms a part of the nature of intelligent beings; in fine, the period of pre-existence must have been sufficiently long to have constituted a probationary state, or the “First Estate” wherein the spirits are on trial, and may fall, and be reserved in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

The pre-existence of man is a doctrine which was believed by the ancients. The disciples of Jesus, when observing a man who had been blind from his birth, put the following question to their Master: “Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2) It is evident, from the nature of this question, that the disciples considered it possible for a man to sin before he was born; and that in consequence of such sin, he might be “born blind”. This passage shows most clearly, that the disciples, not only believed in the pre-existence of man, but believed that he was an intelligent agent, governed by laws which he was capable of obeying or disobeying, and that his sins in his former state might be the cause of his being born blind, and that his condition in his present state was affected by his acts in the former state. The Saviour, in replying to this question, says, “Neither hath [7] this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (verse 3) Now, if the pre-existence of man were not a true doctrine, why did not our Saviour take this opportunity to correct the ideas of his disciples, by telling them that the blind man could not sin before he was born? Why did he merely tell them that his blindness was not the effects of the sins of himself or parents? Why did he still leave the impression upon their minds that the blind man had a pre-existence?

Jesus, himself, believed in pre-existence: for he said, “I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” And, again, he said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:42, 58) Jesus prays thus: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5) From these sayings, we perceive that the spiritual body of Jesus existed “before the world was.”

Having proved that the pre-existence of man is reasonable and scriptural, we shall next prove that this pre-existence can be traced back to a period before the foundation of the world. The Lord asked a question of Job in relation to this matter: He inquires, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who laid the corner stone thereof, when the morning stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4, 6, 7) If Job had no prior existence, he could have easily answered the Lord’s first question. He could have replied, that, when “the foundations of the earth” were laid, I, Job, did not exist. The very question implies that Job was in existence at the time of the organization of the globe, but that he had not sufficient understanding, as to the place where he existed, to correctly answer the question put to him. Neither could he remember, “Who laid the corner stone thereof;” neither could he recollect, the song of the morning stars; neither could he call to mind, the shout of joy which was uttered by the vast assembly of “ALL, THE SONS OF GOD.

 

[8]           Jesus calls himself, “The bright and morning star.” (Rev. 22:15) And in another place, He represents Himself, “The Beginning of the Creation of God.” (Rev. 3:14) Paul says, that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God–the FIRST BORN of every creature.” (Col. 1:15) As Jesus is the First Born Son of God, it is evident, that all the other sons of God would be His younger brethren, begotten by the same Father. Therefore Paul represents him as “the First Born among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29) And in another place, he says, “Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified, are all of One: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Heb. 2:11) That the brethren, here spoken of, are the sons of God, begotten by the same Father that Jesus was, is evident from another saying of the Apostle, “We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the FATHER OF SPIRITS, and live?” (Heb. 12:9) Our earthly fathers are called, the “fathers of our flesh,” while God is called, “The Father of Spirits.” Earthly fathers have no power to beget spirits; they beget only the bodies of flesh, or the tabernacles; while our Heavenly Father begets the spirits, or the living beings which come from Him to inhabit the tabernacles.

“The First Born” of all this great family of Spirits, holds, by virtue of His birthright, a pre-eminence in all things; hence it is written, “When he bringeth in the First Begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Heb. 1:6) The oldest spirits or the First Begotten hold the keys of Salvation towards all the rest of the family of spirits. “The First Born” Spirit is called “the Morning Star,” because He was born in the morning of Creation, or in other words, because He was “The Beginning of the Creation of God.” His younger brethren were called “morning stars,” because they were also born in the morning of creation, being the next in succession in the order of the spiritual creation.

 

[9]           Objections have been raised against the preexistence of man upon the ground that we do not remember such existence, or any event connected therewith. It is true, we do not remember anything prior to our present state, but this does not prove that we had no prior existence. We do not remember our existence or anything else, during the first six months of our infancy; does this prove that we did not exist during that time? No. If, then, we could exist six months, during our present state without remembering it, we might, for the same reason, have existed during six thousand years prior to our present state, and not remember it. Existence is in no way dependant on memory; therefore, memory has nothing to do with the question of our past state.

When Jesus was born into our world, his previous knowledge was taken from Him: this was occasioned by His spiritual body being compressed into a smaller volume than it originally occupied. In His previous existence, His spirit, as the Scriptures testify, was of the size and form of man; when this spirit was compressed, so as to be wholly enclosed in an infant tabernacle, it had a tendency to suspend the memory; and the wisdom and knowledge, formerly enjoyed, were forgotten. “In His humiliation, His judgment was taken away.” (Acts 8:33) To come down from heaven, from His Father’s presence, where He had formerly possessed judgment and understanding sufficient to frame worlds, and to enter into a mortal tabernacle, was truly humiliating. It was, indeed, humiliating in the highest degree, to be deprived of so great a knowledge. Yet he humbled Himself, and condescended to descend below all things, and to commence anew at the very elements of knowledge: hence, one of the evangelists says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature.” (Luke 2:52) Now if Jesus had retained His wisdom when He was born into this world, it would not have been said of Him that He “increased in wisdom.” If the knowledge which Jesus possessed in His previous state, were taken from Him, when He entered an infant tabernacle, He could never regain that knowledge only by revelation. So it is with man. When he enters a [10] body of flesh, his spirit is so compressed and contracted in infancy that he forgets his former existence, and has to commence, as Jesus did, at the lowest principles of knowledge, and ascend by degrees from one principle of intelligence to another. Thus he regains his former knowledge; and by showing himself approved through every degree of intelligence, he is counted worthy to receive more and more, until he is perfected and glorified in truth, and made like his elder brother, possessing all things.

If the spiritual body of Jesus, and the spiritual bodies of all men, existed before the foundation of the world, as we have clearly shown, is there anything unreasonable in the idea of the pre-existence of the spiritual bodies of all the animal creation? There is not. One class of spirits may exist before they enter their natural bodies, as well as another. Did not the same God who made the spirits of men, make the spirits of beasts also? Job says, “Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these, that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? IN WHOSE HAND IS THE SOUL OF EVERY LIVING THING.” (Job 12: 7-10) in this quotation, we perceive that “the soul of every living thing” is in the hand of the Lord: He is the Maker and Preserver of the souls of beasts, birds, and fishes, as well as of the souls of men: hence, Moses, when praying to the Lord, says: “Let the Lord, THE GOD OF THE SPIRITS OF ALL FLESH, set a man over the congregation.” (Num. 27:16) Thus we see that the Lord is, not only the God of the spirits of men, but He is “the God of the spirits of all flesh.”

That the spirits of all the vegetables and animals were made before their bodies is evident from the history of creation as related in the first and second chapters of Genesis. In the first chapter, we have the history of the creation of vegetables, fish, fowls, beasts, and man. In the second chapter, we are told that on the seventh day [11] “there was not a man to till the ground;” and then a description is given of the formation of his natural body “out of the ground.” In the first chapter, and during the third day, the vegetables and trees are formed; in the second chapter, and on the seventh day, we are told that the Lord “made every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew;” and then we are informed that on the seventh day the Lord planted a garden, that is, set out the trees and herbs which he had made on the third day, and caused them to “grow out of the ground.” In the first chapter, it is said, that the fish, fowls, and beasts, were created on the fifth and sixth days; in the second chapter, these various animals are formed “out of the ground” on the seventh day, and “brought unto Adam to see what he would call them.” From this we learn, that the natural bodies of animals were made after the natural body of man. In the work of the temporal creation man seems to have been the first flesh upon the earth, his natural body being made even before the herbs and trees were planted and grew out of the ground. He was placed in the garden of Eden, before the Lord made the beasts and fowls, that is, their natural bodies, and brought them to him in order that he might name them. The first chapter gives a history of the creation of all things spiritual; the second chapter gives the history of the creation of all things temporal. In the order of time, and in the succession of events, the spiritual creation of the Heavens, and earth, and all things contained therein,–differs from the temporal creation of the same. To suppose that these two chapters only give the history of the natural creation, would involve us in numerous difficulties, when we endeavor to reconcile the description given in the second chapter with that given in the first. But to receive them as the descriptions of two successive creations, the first being spiritual, (as it truly was,) and the second being temporal, all difficulties and discrepancies in the two different descriptions vanish away, and a flood of light bursts upon the mind.

 

[12]         There were some things, however, which these spirits could not learn while they remained in their first estate: they could not learn the feelings and sensations of spirits embodied in tabernacles of flesh and bones. An idea of these feelings and sensations could not be imparted to them by teaching, nor by any other means whatsoever. No power of language or signs could give them the most distant idea of them. An idea of those feelings and sensations can only be obtained by actual experience. They might be described to them for millions of ages, and yet without being placed in a condition to experience them for themselves, they never could form any ideas concerning them. This may be illustrated by supposing an infant to be born in a dungeon where not the least ray of light was ever permitted to enter. This infant might grow up to manhood with the organs of vision perfect, but he would have no idea whatever of the sensation of seeing–he could form no conception of light or of the beauty of the various colors of light, though this sensation might be described to him for one hundred years, yet no power of language could convey to him the faintest idea of red or green, or blue, or yellow, or of anything else connected with the sensations produced by light. These feelings could only be learned by actual experience; then, and not till then, would he know anything about it. So, likewise, there are many feelings and sensations arising from the intimate connexion of spirits with flesh and bones that can only be learned by experience.

There are two different kinds of knowledge: one kind is obtained from reason and reflection, of which self-evident truths are the foundation; the other kind is gained by sensation or experience. The ideas relating to the first kind are obtained by comparing truth with truth; hence they are acquired by spirits in this manner, and can be communicated to them independent of experience. The ideas of the latter kind cannot be obtained by reasoning or reflection; they can only be learned by experience. Spirits, therefore, can advance to the highest degree of knowledge in some things, while in others they must remain in ignorance until they are placed in circumstances [13] to learn them by experience. Now there are many experimental truths which are just as necessary to be learned as truths of a different nature, and without the knowledge of which an intelligent being could never be perfected in happiness and glory; hence it becomes necessary that these spirits should enter bodies of flesh and bones, that they by experience may learn things which could not be learned in the spiritual state. None of these spirits are permitted to have tabernacles of flesh if they have violated the laws of their first estate and altogether turned therefrom; for if they will not abide in the laws of the spiritual state and hold sacred the knowledge therein gained, their Father will not entrust them with the knowledge to be gained in the second estate. If they keep not the first estate, they will not be permitted to enter upon the second; and this is their torment because they are held back and are prohibited from advancing in knowledge and glory with the rest of the family who have been faithful.

That there has been a rebellion among these spirits, is evident from the Scriptures. The Apostle John says, “And there appeared another wonder in Heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of Heaven, and did cast them to the earth.” “And there was war in Heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in Heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old Serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. 12:3, 4, 7, 8, 9) The name of the being who headed this rebellion was called, “Dragon,” “Serpent,” “Devil,” or “Satan;” the place where the war commenced, was Heaven; the persons engaged with the Devil were “his angels,” called “the stars of heaven”; the number of Satan’s army was “the third part of the stars of Heaven” or of “the angels,” the other two-thirds were headed by Michael; the Devil’s army were [14] banished from Heaven to the earth. Some, perhaps, may imagine that these angels were beings who had been redeemed from some former world, and afterwards rebelled; but if this were the case, they would not be evil spirits, but would be evil beings, having flesh and bones, and consequently would be unable to enter into the tabernacles of human beings; but as many of them frequently have entered into one person, it shows most clearly that they are spirits. Others, perhaps, may imagine that these fallen angels are the spirits of evil men who hove died on some former world, and whose bodies have never been raised; but this conjecture would not harmonize with the plan, pursued in regard to the wicked of this creation who are all to be raised from the dead and their spirits and bodies to be reunited; neither would it harmonize with the testimony of the Apostle Jude who says, “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” (Jude, verse 6) This passage proves that fallen angels are those who were on trial in their first estate. Angels do not receive fleshly bodies until they enter their second estate, consequently those in the first estate must be spirits. That these angels were spirits, pertaining to this creation, and not to a former one, is shown from the fact, that they are reserved “in chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” If they had lived in a first estate, preceding the one where our spirits were on trial, then they would have been judged on a previous world, but their judgment day has not yet come, but will come at the end of the earth, or at the time when the wicked of this world are judged. If, then, they are to receive a judgment in connection with the inhabitants of this earth, they must have formed a portion of the same family in the first estate, and did not have an origin anterior to the family, designed for this earth.

Having learned that there has been war in heaven, let us next inquire, at what period this war ended? It is very plain that the war must have been raging in heaven [15] after the earth was formed; for when the Devil and his angels were cast out of Heaven, they were banished to our earth, consequently the earth was formed and in existence at the close of the war in Heaven. The Devil was on the earth at the time Adam and Eve were in the garden; it was he that lied to Eve and deceived her; hence, he is called “a liar from the beginning” or “the father of lies.” Now whether he and his angels had, at that early period, been cast out of Heaven upon the earth, is not, in the English version of the Bible, clearly revealed. If they had not at the period of the fall of Adam, already received their banishment from heaven, the Devil must, at least, have come, by permission, to this earth, and entered into the garden; and if his expulsion had not, at that time, taken place, he would, after having accomplished his evil designs in bringing about the fall of man, have returned again to his armies in Heaven to encourage them in their unholy and malicious warfare. But from the testimony, in the revelations which God gave through Joseph Smith, the prophet, we are informed that Adam was Michael. It is reasonable, therefore, to suppose that Michael who headed the armies in Heaven against the Devil’s forces would continue the command until the close of the war or until the Devil’s army were banished to the earth. To have left his post, and resigned his command before the enemy was overcome, would have been only a partial victory, and the trial in the first estate would have been incomplete. Nothing short of a full discomfiture of the enemy’s forces and their banishment from Heaven, would have rendered the victory complete; nothing short of this, would have entitled them to the praise of having kept their first estate. It is plain, therefore, that the war in Heaven had ended, before Michael left Heaven, and entered a body of flesh and bones under the name of Adam.

 

When did this war in Heaven commence? All the light we have upon this question is contained in modern revelations, and in those ancient revelations which have been revealed anew through Joseph the Seer. We quote the following from the book of Abraham: “Now the Lord [16] had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these, there were many of the noble and great ones; and God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said, these I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me, Abraham, thou art one of them, thou wast chosen before thou wast born. And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him, we will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; and they who keep their first estate, shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate, shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate, shall have glory added upon their heads forever and ever. And the Lord said, who shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man, here am I, send me. And another answered and said, here am I, send me. And the Lord said, I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate, and, at that day, many followed after him. And then the Lord said, let us go down; and they went down at the beginning, and they organized and formed (that is, the Gods) the Heavens and the earth. And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the faces of the water.” In this divine history, we are informed that the rebellion commenced at the time that the heavenly host were counseling, together, concerning the formation of this earth and the peopling of the same. The rebellion, therefore, must have been raging from the time of the holding of this grand council, until the foundations of the earth were laid, and probably too for some time after; but it must have been some time during the period between the beginning of this creation and the completion of the [17] same, preparatory to the reception of Michael or Adam, that Satan and his army were overcome and banished to the earth. How long the period was, intervening between the time of holding the council and the beginning of this creation, is not revealed; it may have been only a very short period, or it may have been millions of years. And again, how long it was from the commencement of the creation, until Satan was cast out, is not revealed; because we do not know the length of time included in each day’s work, pertaining to the creation; neither do we know on which of these days or periods he was cast out.

It seems that Satan had proposed a plan to “redeem all mankind, that one soul should not be lost;” and believing that his plan was superior to any other suggested in the council, he was determined to carry it into effect at all hazards; hence, he said to the Lord, “surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.”

If Satan had been permitted to carry out his plan, it would either have destroyed the agency of man, so that he could not commit sin; or it would have redeemed him in his sins and wickedness, without any repentance or reformation of life. If the agency of man were destroyed, he would only act as he is acted upon, and consequently he would merely be a machine; and his actions would have neither merit or demerit, so far as he was concerned, and could neither be punished nor rewarded, and would produce neither misery nor joy. Destroy the agency of man, and you destroy the main-spring of his happiness. Again, take away the agency of man, and you deprive him of his intelligence; for intelligence is the original force or cause of actions; it is a self-moving force; and all actions, resulting from such a force, must necessarily be free. If, therefore, the agency of man or his freedom of action be destroyed, you destroy his self-moving force; and if you deprive him of such force, you deprive him of intelligence; therefore, agency is essential to the very existence of intelligence. This truth is clearly revealed in a revelation given to Joseph the Seer, which reads as follows: “All [18] truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also, otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man.” (Doc. and Cov., sec. 83, par. 5) The plan proposed by the devil, while he was yet in his first estate or in Heaven, was to destroy the agency of man, thereby depriving him of the intelligence which God had given to him, and by this process man would be unable to do, of his own accord, either good or evil; and Satan thought that he could thus “redeem all mankind, that not one soul should be lost.” He did not perceive that man, redeemed after his plan, would be a perfect idiot, without the least glimmering of intelligence.

Some, perhaps, may think we have misrepresented the intentions of the devil; for they can scarcely believe him to be so profoundly ignorant as to propose a plan which would, in its very nature, destroy the intelligence or knowledge of the human race. Such, perhaps may argue that it is more reasonable to suppose that the devil intended to leave them to their agency, so far as doing good or evil is concerned; and that thus their intelligence would be retained; but that he designed to redeem them from the effects of their sins without any exercise of their agency in the act of repentance or reformation. Such a plan, we admit, would thwart the ends of justice, and would admit unholy and sinful beings into the kingdom of God; such beings would be redeemed in all their sins and would still be determined to pursue a sinful course. And such characters would turn a Heaven into a hell, and make themselves miserable, and also all others with whom they were associated. But such a plan, though it destroys justice, does not destroy the agency of man. It is true, that it redeems him without the exercise of his agency, but does not deprive him of it. But the revelation says that Satan desired to bring about the redemption of all mankind by the destruction of his agency; it reads thus: “Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power.” However wise [19] Satan may have been, in some respects this plan certainly was a very foolish one. Satan’s sin does not appear to have consisted wholly in the foolishness of the plan which he proposed before the grand council of Heaven, but in his stubbornness or unwillingness to yield to the superior light of the council; having devised the plan, he was determined to carry it into effect; therefore he sought to overthrow the kingdom and to usurp the power thereof in his own hands; hence, he demanded of the Lord, saying, “Give me thine honor,” or as the Lord expresses himself in the above quotation, “Satan rebelled against me, and sought that I should give unto him mine own power.”

However foolish Satan’s plan may appear to us, it must have appeared plausible to many of his brethren; they looked upon a theory which they supposed would redeem them all to be superior to all others. They either had not sufficient intelligence to judge of the consequences of a scheme, destroying the agency of man; or else they preferred to run the risk of the results, rather than come under a plan, founded upon the principles of justice and mercy, which would punish and reward them according to their works. It may be, that they were capable of discerning and judging righteously, every scheme that was proposed, but were careless and indifferent upon these subjects, deciding with Satan, before they had made sufficient investigation, and having taken sides, they were determined to maintain their position.

 

It is not likely that the final decision of the contending armies took place immediately. Many, no doubt, were unsettled in their views, unstable in their minds, and undecided as to which force to join; there may have been a long period before the division line was so strictly drawn as to become unalterable. Laws, without doubt, were enacted, and penalties affixed, according to the nature of the offenses or crimes; those who altogether turned from the Lord, and were determined to maintain the cause of Satan, and who proceeded to the utmost extremities of wickedness, placed themselves without the [20] reach of redemption; therefore, such were prohibited from entering into a second probationary state, and had no privilege of receiving bodies of flesh and bones. A second estate, to them would have been of no advantage, because they had sinned to that extent that the Spirit of the Lord had entirely left them, and light and truth no longer dwelt in them, therefore, they could not feel a disposition to repent; and if they had been permitted to enter another state of trial, they would have continued their unholy warfare. And, also, if they had been permitted to receive fleshly bodies, they would have propagated their species, and instilled into the minds of their children the same devilish principles which reigned in their own bosoms. Therefore, the Lord thrust them out of Heaven and “reserved them in chains of everlasting darkness until the judgment of the great day” which will come at the end of the earth. The number cast out were about one-third part, as revealed, not only to John on the Isle of Patmos, but to Joseph the Seer, as follows:–“And it came to pass, that Adam being tempted of the Devil; for, behold, the Devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of Heaven turned he away from me, because of their agency; and they were thrust down, and thus came the Devil and his angels. And, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell.” (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 10, par. 10)

Among the two-thirds who remained, it is highly probable, that there were many who were not valiant in the war, but whose sins were of such a nature that they could be forgiven through faith in the future sufferings of the Only Begotten of the Father, and through their sincere repentance and reformation. We see no impropriety in Jesus offering Himself as an acceptable offering and sacrifice before the Father to atone for the sins of His brethren, committed, not only in the second, but also in the first estate. Certain it was that the work which Jesus was to accomplish was known in the Grand Council where the rebellion broke out; it was known that man would sin [21] in his second estate; for it was upon the subject of his redemption that the assembly became divided, and which resulted in war. John, the revelator, speaking of a certain power, says, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8) Now we may ask, Why was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world?” If there were no persons who had sinned in their first estate, that could be benefitted by the sufferings of their elder brother, then we can see no reason for considering Him at that early period, as already slain: the very fact that the atonement which was to be made in a future world, was considered as already having been made, seems to show that there were those who had sinned, and who stood in need of the atonement. The nature of the sufferings of Christ was such that it could redeem the spirits of men as well as their bodies. The word of the Lord, through Joseph, the prophet, to Martin Harris, reads thus:–“I command you to repent–repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore–how sore you know not! how exquisite you know not! yea, how hard to bear you know not! For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I, which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit; and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink–nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 44:2) Jesus suffered, not only in body, but also in spirit. By the sufferings of His body He atoned for the sins of men committed in and by the body: by the sufferings of His spirit, He atoned for the sins committed by the spirit; hence, the atonement redeems both body and spirit. It is reasonable, therefore, to suppose that if spirits in the first estate sinned, they might be forgiven through their faith and repentance, by virtue of the future sufferings of Christ.

 

[22]         That the spirits of men did receive promises and gifts before the world began, is clearly manifest in many parts of Scripture. The Apostle Paul writes as follows:– In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2) God “promised” “eternal life”. When was this promise made? It was made “before the world began”. To whom was it made? It was made to the spirits of men who existed before the world began. We were comforted with the promises of God when we dwelt in His presence. We could then look upon the face of the First Born and consider Him as already slain, or as Peter says, that He “verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world.” (I Peter 1:20) When we were in our spiritual state, all the grace or mercy we received was because of Christ. Paul, in speaking of God, says, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Tim. 1:9) According to this passage, and the preceding ones, Paul, Timothy, Titus, and others existed before the world began, and in that anterior existence, God made promises unto them of eternal life, and also gave them grace “in Christ Jesus.” The Apostle Paul also says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” (Eph. 1:3, 4) Now if the Apostles and others were called “with an holy calling,” and “chosen Christ before the foundation of the world,” and actually received grace in Christ, and had the promise of “Eternal Life” made to them “before the world began,” then should it be thought incredible, that in and through Christ they also received forgiveness of the sins which they have committed in that pre-existent state?

If all the two-thirds who kept their first estate were equally valiant in the war, and equally faithful, why should some of them be called and chosen in their spiritual state to hold responsible stations and offices in this world, [23] while others were not? If there were none of those spirits who sinned, why were the Apostles, when they existed in their previous state, chosen to be blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ?” All these passages seem to convey an idea, that there were callings, choosings, ordinances, promises, predestinations, elections, and appointments, made before the world began. The same idea is also conveyed in the quotation which we have already made from the Book of Abraham. “Now the Lord, had shewn unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; and God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said, these I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me, Abraham, thou art one of them, thou wast chosen before thou wast born.” Now is there not reason to believe that the nobility or greatness which many of these spirits possessed, was obtained by faithfulness to the cause of God? Was it not because of their righteousness that they were appointed to be the Lord’s Rulers? How did Abraham become one of the noble and great spirits? How came the Lord to choose Abraham before he was born? If we had an answer to these questions, we should very probably find that Abraham stood up valiantly for the Son of God at the time the rebellion broke out; and that because of his integrity and righteousness, the Lord chose him before he was born to hold authority and power in his second estate, to become the father of the faithful, and to be a blessing to all nations.

All the spirits when they come here are innocent; that is, if they have ever committed sins, they have repented and obtained forgiveness through faith in the future sacrifice of the Lamb. So far as innocency is concerned, they enters this world alike; but so far as circumstances are concerned they are not alike. One class of spirits are permitted to come into the world in an age when the priesthood and kingdom of God are on the earth, and they hear and receive the gospel; others enter the [24] world in an age of darkness, and are educated in foolish and erroneous doctrines. Some are born among the people of God and are brought up in the right way; others are born among the heathen, and taught to worship idols. Some spirits take bodies in the lineage of the chosen seed, through whom the priesthood is transferred; others receive bodies among the African Negroes or in the lineage of Canaan whose descendants were cursed, pertaining to the priesthood. Now if all the spirits were equally faithful in their first estate in keeping the laws thereof, why are they placed in such dissimilar circumstances in their second estate? Why are some placed in circumstances where they are taught of God, become rulers, kings, and priests, and finally are exalted to all the fulness of Celestial glory; while others are taught in all kinds of wickedness, and never hear the gospel, till they hear it in prison after death, and in the resurrection receive not a Celestial glory, but a Terrestrial? If rewards and punishments are the results of good and evil actions, then it would seem that the good and evil circumstances under which the spirits enter this world, must depend upon the good and evil actions which they had done in the previous world. Our condition when we enter the next world will depend upon our conduct here. By analogy, then, does not our condition when we enter this world, depend upon our conduct before we were born? Does not the question which the Apostles put to the Saviour, respecting the man who was born blind, show that they considered it possible for a man to sin before he was born? They considered it reasonable that a person should be born blind as a penalty for the sins which he had committed before he was born. Though the spirits are all innocent when they come here, may it not be possible that they are forgiven and made innocent on condition that they shall enter this world under circumstances either favorable or unfavorable, according to the nature of their sins? Do not the inhabitants of our world, who are raised from the dead, differ in glory as one star differs from another? Is it not necessary that they should be forgiven of all their sins and made innocent before they can receive the Holy Ghost or any [25] degree of glory? And do not the differences of their condition in the resurrection depend upon the nature of their actions in this life? If then they must be forgiven and become innocent before they can even enter a kingdom of glory, and if, when they do enter there, it is under a great variety of circumstances, depending on their actions here, then we may from analogy reason that the spirits must be forgiven and become innocent before they can even come here, and that when they do come, it will be under a great variety of conditions, depending on their actions in a previous state.

The division line being permanently drawn between Michael’s and the Devil’s forces, the latter were overpowered and cast down, and the whole heavens wept over their fall. A description of this is given in a vision shown to Joseph the Seer and Sidney Rigdon; we give the following extract: “And this we saw also and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the only begotten Son, whom the Father loved, and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, and was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him–he was Lucifer, a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen! even a son of the morning.” (Doc. & Cov. 92:3) Peace being restored in Heaven, and all who remained, having kept their first estate and overcome Satan, the next great work to be accomplished was to place these spirits upon the new earth in tabernacles of flesh and bones, where they all could pass through another series of trials, and meet their common enemy upon new grounds; and if they should succeed in this second warfare and overcome and vanquish the hosts of hell, they were to be counted worthy to inherit all things, and to become equal with their Father in glory, and in power, and in might, and in dominion.

The Heaven, earth, animals, vegetables, and all things, pertaining to this creation, being finished, the Lord pronounced the whole “very good.” Sorrow, misery, sick-[26]ness, pain, and death were unknown. Immortality was enstamped upon man and the whole animal kingdom. If any living creature had been subject to death, or any manner of pain, it would not have been perfect in its organization; it could not have been pronounced good; neither would it have been consistent, as the work of an all-wise and supremely good Being. Perfection characterizes all the works of God; therefore, all the tabernacles which he made from the dust must have been capable of eternal endurance. There must have been something connected with these fleshly tabernacles which was capable of preserving them in immortality.

If spirits, in their first estate, did not know good from evil, why were they thrust down and bound with “everlasting chains of darkness” for doing that which they did not know to be evil? Would any parent, here in this world, banish his children everlastingly from his presence, without any hopes of recovery, for doing those things which they did not know to be evil? Our hearts would revolt at the very idea of such injustice in an earthly parent. Shall we then represent God as more unjust than man? Shall we say that he will punish with everlasting punishment the rebellious angels without a sufficient cause? Shall he doom them to endless misery for acts which they did not know to be evil? Our hearts would revolt at the very idea of such injustice in an earthly parent. Shall we then represent God as more unjust than man? Shall we say that He will punish with everlasting punishment the rebellious angels without a sufficient cause? Shall He doom them to endless misery for acts which they did not know to be evil? It is evident, then, that the angels in their first estate knew good and evil; and therefore, were subjects of reward and punishment for their acts.

Why was man deprived of all his former knowledge when he left the spirit world and came here? It was in order that he might have a second trial or probation under new circumstances and conditions to which he had not previously been subject.

 

[27]         Man being without the knowledge of good and evil would be in a state of innocence; and being immortal, not subject to pain or death, he would be entirely ignorant concerning the nature of pain or misery; it could not be described to him, so as to convey to his mind the least idea of its nature. Nothing short of suffering pain could impart to him a knowledge respecting it. A knowledge of pain never could have been derived from the reasoning faculties, neither could they have derived it from observation, . . .

If man before the fall had no knowledge of misery, it is evident that he also must have been ignorant of the nature of happiness; for although placed in circumstances where there is no misery, yet he does not realize that this condition is a condition of happiness: no one could explain to him the nature of happiness: the idea of happiness never could enter his mind until he could form an idea of a state or condition of an opposite nature.* * * It was necessary, therefore, for them to experience pain or misery, that they might discern and appreciate happiness.

Christ was considered as a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” to atone for the original sin of Adam. Therefore, by his transgression, he obtained knowledge indispensably necessary to his exaltation and happiness; and by the atonement his sin was forgiven, and he restored to the favor of God, possessing the requisite qualifications to enjoy his redemption, and the society of beings who knew good and evil. “The Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” (Gen. 3:22) God and the heavenly host had attained to the knowledge of good and evil, and therefore they were capable of enjoying happiness and judging righteously according to the principles of right and wrong, justice and mercy. * * * The Son did not consider death to be too great a sacrifice, in order that man might be raised from the very depths of ignorance and be placed on an equal footing with the Gods, as far as it regards good and evil and all their accompanying consequences.

 

[28]         When, therefore, the infant spirit is first born in the heavenly world, that is not a commencement of its capacities. Each particle eternally existed prior to this organization. * * * How many different laws these particles have acted under during the endless school of experience through which they have passed is not known to us. What degree of knowledge they have obtained by experience, previous to their organization in the womb of the celestial female, is not revealed. One thing is certain, the particles that enter into the organization of the infant spirit, are placed in a new sphere of action: the laws to govern them in this new and superior condition must be different from any laws under which they had previously acted.

It seems far more consistent to believe that infinite knowledge has from all eternity existed somewhere, either in organized personages or in disorganized materials. * * * The Light and Intelligence and Truth which each Saint will then possess in fulness, was not created, neither, indeed, can be, but they were from all eternity. * * * How very different in their nature is light and truth from substance. A substance can only be in one place at a time: while intelligence or truth can be in all worlds at the same instant. A substance cannot be divided, and a part be taken to some other place, without diminishing the original quantity from which it was taken: while different portions of light and truth may be imparted to other beings in other places without diminishing in the least the fountain from which they are derived.

We have dwelt upon this subject rather longer than what we, at first, intended, because we consider it a principle which should be well understood by the Saints, not only for our own benefit, but that we may be able to teach others correctly. * * * It is for this purpose that we have dwelt so long upon the pre-existence of man in order that we may the more clearly understand, not only our heavenly and God-like origin, but the grand system of laws by which God originates and prepares tabernacles for His [29] own residence in which the fulness of His wisdom, power, and glory, are manifested. O how great, and how marvelous are the ways of God, and His plans which He has adopted for the salvation and glorification of His intelligent offspring! Who can understand these things without rejoicing by day and by night! And who can understand the works of our God and the mysteries of His kingdom, unless he is enlightened by the light of the Holy Spirit! Well did the Apostle Paul say, “the natural man knoweth not the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned;” “but God hath revealed them unto us by His spirit; for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, even the deep things of God.” Well did our Saviour say, that the Spirit of Truth should guide his disciples into all Truth–should take of the things of the Father and should show them unto his people–should show them things to come, and thus make them revelators and prophets. O that mankind would consider upon these things! O that they would come unto God like men in days of old, and learn of Him now, as they did then! O that they would reflect upon their heavenly origin, and what may be their future destiny, if they would only claim, through obedience and faith, the high privileges set before them! O that they knew what belongs to their peace and welfare both here and hereafter! But they know not–they are like the beast that perisheth, for whom slaughter is prepared, and he knoweth it not: even so, it is with this generation; they know nothing only what they know naturally; they have denied the necessity of present revelation; therefore, all spiritual light and heavenly knowledge are withheld from them, and they will bring swift destruction upon themselves and perish in their sins, and this causes my heart to be sorrowful; and I mourn over the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds by day and by night; and I labor and toil, and also my brethren, to recover them, but their hearts are fully set within them to do evil, and they must soon be ripened for the destructions decreed upon the nations in the latter days.

We have in this article on pre-existence traced man back to his origin in the heavenly world as an infant [30] spirit; we have shown that this spirit was begotten and born by celestial parents long anterior to the formation of this creation. We have shown that the great family of spirits had a probation and trial before they came here–that a third part of them fell and were cast out of Heaven and were deprived of fleshly bodies; while the remainder have come forth in their successive generations to people this globe. We have shown that, by keeping this their second estate, they will be perfected, glorified, and made Gods like unto their Father God by whom their spirits were begotten. The dealing of God towards His children from the time that they are first born in Heaven, through all their successive stages of existence, until they are redeemed, perfected, and made Gods, is a pattern after which all other worlds are dealt with. All Gods act upon the same great general principles; and thus, the course of each God is one eternal round. There will, of course, be a variety in all His works, but there will be no great deviations from the general laws which He has ordained. The creation, fall, and redemption of all future worlds with their inhabitants will be conducted upon the same general plan; so that when one is learned, the great fundamental principles of the science of world-making, world-governing, and world-redemption, will be understood.

The Father of our spirits has only been doing that which His Progenitors did before Him. Each succeeding generation of Gods follow the example of the preceding ones. Each generation have their wives, who raise up from the fruit of their loins immortal spirits. When their families become numerous, they organize new worlds for them, after the former patterns set before them; they place their families upon the same who fall as the inhabitants of previous worlds have fallen; they are redeemed after the pattern by which more ancient worlds have been redeemed. * * * Thus will worlds and systems of worlds, and gorgeous universes, be multiplied in endless succession through the infinite depths of boundless space; some telestial, some terrestrial, and some celestial, differing in their glory, as the apparent splendor of the [31] shining luminaries of Heaven differ. All these will swarm with an infinite number of living, moving, animated beings from the minutest animalcules that sport by millions in a single drop of water, up through every grade of existence to those Almighty, All wise, and Most Glorious Personages who exist in countless numbers, governing and controlling all things.

 

 

[32]                              Chapter 3

 

CHRISTIAN IGNORANCE OF THE PRE-EXISTENCE

Modern Christianity generally has little or no understanding of the pre-mortal life of mankind. Without this knowledge, however. it is almost impossible to have any valid concept of the purpose or reason for a mortal existence. To the Latter-day Saints this great concept was revealed, and with it came a vast scope of light and understanding that completely overshadows the limited and incorrect beliefs of modern preachers.

 

Wilford Woodruff: (JD 22:209)

I once read a man’s view of education–he was not a Mormon, but a man of the world–who said, “No man is fully educated unless he can tell where he came from, why he is here, and where he is going to.” That being the case, I thought there were few fully educated in the world. No man can tell where he came from unless it is revealed to him. We have had these things revealed to us in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Book of Doctrine and Covenants. We have thus come to the knowledge that we had an existence before we came here, and that we had a probation before we came here.

* * * * *

 

[33] Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:56)

The Latter-day Saints are the only people in the world, as far as my knowledge goes, who have a clear, distinct doctrine in regard to the questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? and, Where are we going? I believe we are the only people in the world who believe in the pre-existence of the human family. There are many who believe in the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, but they do not believe that we, individually, lived before we came into this life.

One of the strange things to me is the fact that so many people believe that there is a spirit in man and when he dies that spirit continues to live as an immortal thing, yet that it had no existence until man was born in this mortal life.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (Masterful Discourses, pp. 58-59)

There are but few persons who have correct ideas concerning any state of existence, except the present. They find themselves here; but where they came from, or whither they are going, they have but a faint idea. Indeed, the greater part of the millions of Christendom do not believe in the Bible doctrine of pre-existence; they look upon the natural birth of man as the origin or commencement, not only of the body, but also of the spirit. They readily admit the pre-existence of the materials which enter into the composition of the body; but discard the idea of a pre-existing spirit either organized or disorganized. They suppose each individual spirit to be created from nothing, at or about the time of the organization and birth of the infant tabernacle. That then, it is supposed, we awoke from nothing to consciousness, from nonexistence to existence, from vacancy to substance, that thoughts and perceptions sprang into being, assumed identity, and began their career as movable intelligent souls. This unscriptural, and most absurd, and unreasonable doctrine originated in the brains of a corrupt Priesthood, and is unworthy of the consideration of any but lunatics or madmen.

[34]         It is strange that men professedly wise, capable of reason and common sense, could possibly work up their minds into a belief that human spirits are called into being from nothing at the average rate of about twenty every minute. How much more consistent it is to believe that the substance of our spirits, like the substance of our bodies, had a pre-existence; that both are eternal, and that not one particle of either ever sprang from nothing; that creation signified organization of pre-existent materials, and not the production of these materials from nothing? The former is a Scriptural truth; the latter a vague, foolish, unphilosophical, absurd, speculation of men who believed in an immaterial god “without body or parts,” which is equivalent to no God. When will man burst the shell of his traditions, and have common sense! When will he turn from such disgusting absurdities to the word of God!

Man is not only ignorant of his pre-existence, but seems to have but a very imperfect idea of his future state. It is true, Christendom expect a future state of being, but have endeavored to make such a state as shadowy as unlike everything connected with real existence as they could possibly imagine. Their heaven is a spiritual, immaterial world, “beyond the bounds of time and space,” having no connection with time, no relation to space, no parts, no whole, nothing in common with matter. Their future being is immaterial, shapeless, bodiless, occupying no space, has nothing to do with duration, is destitute of all properties common to matter, possessing, like their imaginary god, neither “parts nor passions.” Such is their own description of their imaginary heaven; such their avowed belief in regard to their future existence. The devil could not possibly invent ideas more atheistical than these. The worst forms of heathen divinities do not begin to compare with the absurdities of the sectarians’ god; a heathen heaven is a palace compared with the sectarian heaven, excluded from time and space; the heathens’ idea of a future existence, though false, is incomparably better than an “immaterial existence,” which is only another word for total annihilation.

[35]         It is indeed comforting to know whence we came, and have a correct understanding in regard to our future. This interesting and most important knowledge is only to be obtained by divine revelation. God has abundantly revealed these things that man might rejoice in them.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 15:249-250)

Now admit, as the Latter-day Saints do, that we had a previous existence, and that when we die we shall return to God and our former habitation, where we shall behold the face of our Father, and the question immediately arises, shall we have our memories so increased by the Spirit of the living God that we shall ever remember our previous existence? I think we shall. Jesus seems to have gained this even here in this world, otherwise he would not have prayed, saying, “Father, glorify thou me with that glory which I had with thee before the world was,” showing plainly that he had obtained by revelation a knowledge from his Father of something about the glory that he had before the world was. This being the case with Jesus, why not his younger brethren also obtain this information by revelation? And when we do return back into the presence of our Father, will we not there also have our memories so quickened that we will remember his face, having dwelt in his presence for thousands of years? It will not be like going to visit strangers that we have never seen before. Is not this a comfort to persons who expect to depart this life, like all the rest of the human family? They have a consolation that they are going not among strangers, not to a being whose face they never saw, but to one whom they will recognize, and will remember, having dwelt with him for ages before the world was. Looking upon it in the light of reason, independent of revelation, if a person were to form a system of religion according to the best light that he had, would it not be more happifying and calculated more in its nature to give joy and peace to the mind to suppose that we were going [36] back to a personage we were well acquainted with, rather than to one we had no idea of? I think I should prefer, so far as reason is concerned, to be well acquainted with people I am going among.

These are the expectations of the Latter-day Saints: we do not expect to go among strangers. When we get back there, we expect this place to be familiar to us, and when we meet this, that and the other one of all the human family that have been here on the earth, we shall recognize them as those with whom we have dwelt thousands of years in the presence of our Father and God. This renewing of old friendships and acquaintances, and again enjoying all the glory we once possessed, will be a great satisfaction to all who are privileged to do so.

If we ever dwelt there, it is altogether likely that God made some promises to us when there. He would converse with us, and cheer us up. Being his offspring–his sons and daughters, he would not be austere and unwilling to converse with his own children, but he would teach them a great many things. And all this will be familiar to us. We read in the New Testament that God did make promises to us before this world was made. I recollect one passage in one of the epistles of Paul, either to Timothy or Titus, the Apostle says, “In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began.” To whom did he make that promise? I contend that we had the promise of eternal life before the world began on certain conditions–if we would comply with the gospel of the Son of God, by repenting of our sins and being faithful in keeping the commandments of God.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 21:198)

These were some of the first revelations given in this last dispensation. The Lord did not wait several years, before he revealed into us, in some measure, concerning our condition before we came here. Hence, it was away back in the year 1830, that this doctrine of the pre-existence of man was revealed, in greater fullness, than it [37] was given in the Book of Mormon. There are two or three places in the Book of Mormon that reveal the pre-existence of man; but not in such great plainness as was given soon after the publication of that Book, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, before the Saints began to gather, informing us that we were in reality the children of our Father and God; that we had a pre-existence in which we had learned many very important principles, connected with spiritual existence, before taking bodies of flesh and bones, which was also necessary to afford us a still greater experience. Now, in this plan that God has devised for the advancement of these intelligent beings–by passing them through various stages of existence, under different circumstances, and in different conditions–he gives them experience that they never could have gained, had they remained in the presence of the Father, in that world which was celestial; in other words, we were his offspring in that world, our spiritual bodies not having flesh and bones, but being in the image of the Father and Son,–his own sons and daughters.

* * * * *

 

Joseph Smith: (TPJS, pp. 352-354)

I have another subject to dwell upon, which is calculated to exalt man; but it is impossible for me to say much on this subject. I shall therefore just touch upon it, for time will not permit me to say all. It is associated with the subject of the resurrection of the dead–namely, the soul–the mind of man–the immortal spirit. Where did it come from? All learned men and doctors of divinity say that God created it in the beginning; but it is not so: the very idea lessens man in my estimation. I do not believe the doctrine; I know better. Hear it, all ye ends of the world; for God has told me so; and if you don’t believe me, it will not make the truth without effect. I will make a man appear a fool before I get through; if he does not believe it. I am going to tell of things more noble.

We say that God himself is a self-existent being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into [38] your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul. (Refers to the old Bible.) How does it read in the Hebrew? It does not say in the Hebrew that God created the spirit of man. It says, “God made man out of the earth and put into him Adam’s spirit, and so became a living body.”

The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their relatives and friends are only separated from their bodies for a short season; their spirits which existed with God have left the tabernacle of clay only for a little moment, as it were; and they now exist in a place where they converse together the same as we do on the earth.

I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it had a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end, That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal (co-eternal) with our Father in heaven.

I want to reason more on the spirit of man; for I am dwelling on the body and spirit of man–on the subject of the dead. I take my ring from my finger and liken it unto the mind of man–the immortal part, because it has no beginning. Suppose you cut it in two; then it has a beginning and an end; but join it again, and it continues one eternal round. So with the spirit of man. As the Lord liveth, if it had a beginning, it will have an end. All the fools and learned and wise men from the beginning of creation, who say that the spirit of man had a beginning, prove that it must have an end; and if that doctrine is true, then the doctrine of annihilation would be true. But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself.

[39]         Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement.

* * * * *

 

George Q. Cannon: (JD 26:184)

. . . the Latter-day Saints should be the happiest, the most contented, the most joyous of all people that live; for not only has the knowledge of the past been communicated to us, but the present, that which is connected with our probation here, and also much knowledge concerning the future.

Now, if a man can only know whence he came, why he is here, and that which awaits him after this life, it seems to me that he has abundant causes of happiness within his grasp. Much of the unhappiness and uncertainty that prevail to-day in the minds of mankind arise from ignorance upon these points. Hence, we see the course that many of the children of men are taking. If a man knew exactly why God sent him here, the object that He had in giving unto him a mortal existence, do you think that men or women who had this knowledge would be guilty of suicide, would have any disposition to cut off their own existence and to destroy that gift which God in His mercy has given unto us? I do not believe that any human being who properly comprehends the object that God has had in placing man here upon the earth, and who has a desire to carry out that purpose, would ever attempt self-destruction. He would shrink from such an act with horror, and would never dare to destroy the earthly tabernacle given him by God. In these respects, as I have said, we possess rare advantages. It is a great favor from God to have this light. There is no unwillingness on His part to communicate it; but there is an unwillingness on the part of the children of men to receive it when it is communicated.

* * * * *

 

[40] H. W. Naisbitt: (JD 21:104)

Hence when a man realizes that he had a pre-existence, when he realizes that the present existence is but a transitory condition, when he realizes that there is a vast and illimitable future before him, he desires to comprehend how he shall best minister to his individual welfare in that future.

* * * * *

 

Henry Naisbitt: (JD 22:77)

Here is the human family unconscious of their origin, unconscious of their destiny. But the Elders of this Church go forth and tell mankind that they are the children of their common Father; that they had their origin in the eternal worlds; that there lies before them a grand and sublime destiny; and they say, inasmuch as this is so, how would you like again to be presented to your Father–to the King? How would you like to return to His presence, and to enjoy His smiles? How would you like to be brought back again to the surroundings you once enjoyed? And as the stirring impulses of these warm thoughts rush through the hearts of the listeners in the midst of the nations of the earth, their minds begin to expand and their hearts begin to swell with the new-found dignity thus spread before them, and in the promise of the future; but by and by there is a change in their condition; in the pride of their hearts, under the inspiration of those men who thus taught and counseled them, they thought they were going to be somebody.

* * * * *

 

Charles Rich: (JD 19:251)

Before we came into this world, we had an existence with the Father in the heavens. We are eternal beings. How do you know that? one might say. We know it by the [41] revelations of Jesus Christ, which bring life and immortality to light. It was revealed to Abraham and many of the ancient prophets, and it has been revealed unto us in these the last days. We are told that before the inhabitants of the earth had an existence in the flesh, they had an existence in the spirit world; and that it was necessary to come into this world and be clothed with mortality. And why was it necessary? Because we could not attain to an exaltation without coming here. Many people think this is a world of sorrows, and a very horrid world to live in. So it may seem to some people, but I think that it is a glorious world, for it is here we are enabled to obtain our blessings and endowments.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (Masterful Discourses, pp. 63-67)

 

A long time before you and I came here upon this stage of action, we had an intelligent existence; we dwelt in a better world than this, and a world that had been sanctified and glorified; in other words, a world that had been redeemed, a world that had been made celestial, just as we are in hopes that our present world will, at some future period, be exalted to the celestial glory, and become the habitation of celestial beings. That world we occupied, before we came here, was celestial; our Father had his dwelling place there, or, at least, one of his dwelling places; and we were surrounded by our Father’s glory, we were familiar with his countenance, familiar with the beautiful mansions that were there–familiar with all the glory that existed there, so far as we were capable of comprehending. There was no veil drawn between us and our Father, no veil drawn between us and the associates of our Father, who were also celestial beings, many of them having been redeemed from a world more ancient than ours. We had a long experience, I suppose, in that world; at least, we know from that which our Father has revealed to us, that we were born there; that this intelligent being that has power to discern, power to reflect, [42] power to reason–that this intelligent being was born in that previous estate.

These were some of the first revelations given in this last dispensation. The Lord did not wait several years, before he revealed unto us, in some measure, concerning our condition before we came here. Hence, it was away back in the year 1830, that this doctrine of the pre-existence of man was revealed, in greater fulness, than it was given in the Book of Mormon. There are two or three places in the Book of Mormon that reveal the pre-existence of man; but not in such great plainness, as was given soon after the publication of that book, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, before the Saints began to gather, informing us that we were in reality the children of our Father and God; that we had a pre-existence in which we had learned many very important principles, connected with spiritual existence, before taking bodies of flesh and bones, which was also necessary to afford us a still greater experience. Now, in this plan that God has devised for the advancement of these intelligent beings–by passing them through various stages of existence, under different circumstances, and in different conditions–he gives them experience that they never could have gained, had they remained in the presence of the Father, in that world which was celestial; in other words, we were his offspring in that world, our spiritual bodies not having flesh and bones, but being in the image of the Father and son–his own sons and daughters. He had a great desire that we should be educated and taught. He could teach us a great many things in that world as we teach our children; he could impart to us a great many things–for there were as many truths in existence in that day as are in existence now; but truths were taught to us, as we were capable of understanding them. The Lord felt anxious that we might come up and eventually be made like him, as it is written in the New Testament, “who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” I have no doubt before we came into the world, we had a great anxiety, that we might be brought up in the same way he was instructed and taught and led [43] along, passing through different conditions of existence, that we finally might be counted worthy to be exalted at his right hand, and receive the fulness of his celestial glory the same that he is in possession of and that we might have all his attributes, dwelling within us, as separate individuals and personages, that he might exalt us like unto himself. Now, there is a great deal to be comprehended, when we are told that we are children who will become like our Father; that we were like him in our first stage and condition of existence. We were there, as it were, children without a fulness of knowledge; many experiences had not yet been given to us; but we were like him in our general outline–the outline of our persons; our general form was like him, “after his image,” etc. It is thus written in the Book of Mormon, in that great vision to the brother of Jared, in which the Lord condescended to take the veil off his eyes. The brother of Jared had gone up into the mountain, and had molten out of a rock sixteen small stones, which he carried up into the top of the mount. He went there with an object in view; the object was to get the Lord to touch the stones that they might shine forth in darkness in the eight vessels (which had been built to convey him and his brother across the great waters) one to be placed at each end of each of the vessels. It would naturally increase the faith of the brother of Jared, to believe it possible that he might see the finger of the Lord. He was given to pray that God would touch the stones, the same as we pray for the Lord to put forth his finger and touch the particles of oil, when we dedicate it, for sacred purposes. If we pray in faith, we must suppose that the finger touches the oil. And Jared prayed in faith; he did not know but what it might be his privilege to see his finger. He did see it; it appeared to him like the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood. But his faith was too great for his nervous system; for when he saw the finger of the Lord, he fell to the earth through fear. And the Lord looked unto him and asked him why he had fallen. He answered and said, “I saw the finger of the Lord and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.” He [44] did not know but what his imperfections were so great, that the Lord would smite him; but he was commanded to arise. The Lord then asked him, “Sawest thou more than this?” And he answered, “Nay, Lord, shew thyself unto me.” Here was a prayer that extended a little further. The Lord wanted to see what amount of faith he had and he put another question to him: “Believest thou the words which I shall speak?” And he answered, “Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth and canst not lie.” And when the brother of Jared had manifested his faith, the Lord condescended to show his whole personage to him, and said, “Seest thou that ye are treated after mine own image. Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit, and man have I created after the body of my spirit.”

Here the pre-existence of man was taught in the Book of Mormon. All men in the beginning were created after the image of this body which he was then shewing. All the human family that then existed, and that would exist in future time upon the earth were created in the beginning, after the image of that body; that is, that body which he showed was not a body of flesh and bones, but a pure spiritual body, organized out of pure spiritual substance, filled with light and truth. He informed this great man of God, that he was prepared, from before the foundation of the world, to redeem his people. “Behold,” says he, “I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have light, and that eternally, even they who shall believe in my name.”

Here, then, was a great deal of information given to us, concerning the formation of the human spirit, the formation of men–the formation of their persons, and their individualities–before the foundation of this world.

It was after this was given, and the Book of Mormon was published, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arose. But the Lord, thinking that we had not sufficient understanding of this pre-existence, began to tell us (in the month of June, 1830, only a few months after the organization of the Church) more about these things. He told us about the spiritual creation, something [45] we did not comprehend before. We used to read the first and second chapters of Genesis which give an account of the works of the Almighty, but did not distinguish between the spiritual work and the temporal work of Christ. Although there are some things in King James’ translation that give us a little distinction between the two creations, yet we did not comprehend it. The light shone, in some measure, in darkness, but so dark were our minds, through tradition, that we did not comprehend the light–or the few feeble glimmerings of light–contained in these first and second chapters of the uninspired translation. But our Heavenly Father inspired his servant, Joseph Smith, to translate several chapters more in the Book of Genesis, in December, 1830, which gave a more full account, down to the days of the flood. He told us a great many important principles, principles that he did not give, so far as the historical matter was concerned, in the Book of Mormon. They were an addition in some respects, and therefore, they were new to us, who lived in the early rise of the Church, and calculated to give us great joy.

* * * * *

 

George Q. Cannon: (Contributor 11:476)

It is a truth that, when understood by us, gives a new light to our existence, and inspires us with the most exalted hopes. That truth is that God is our Father, and we are His children. What a tender relationship! What a feeling of nearness it creates within us! What? God my Father? Am I indeed His son? Am I indeed His daughter? Do I belong to the family of God? Is this literally true? The answer is Yes. God has revealed it, that we are literally His children, His offspring; that we are just as much His children as our offspring are our children; that He begot us; and that we existed with Him in the family relationship as His children. What an immensity of vision is given to us in this truth! What a field for reflection! And how our hearts should be inspired with great hopes and anticipations, to think that the Being under whose direction this earth was organized, who governs the planets and [46] controls the universe, who causes the rotation of the seasons and makes this earth so beautiful and such a delightful place of habitation, is our Father, and that we are His children, descended from Him! What illimitable hopes the knowledge of this inspires us with!

Now, this is the truth. We humble people, we who feel ourselves sometimes so worthless, so good-for-nothing, we are not so worthless as we think. There is not one of us but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save, and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God, and that He has actually given His angels–invisible beings of power and might–charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.

* * * * *

 

Brigham Young: (JD 13:145)

When I look at the economy of heaven, my heart leaps for joy, and if I had the tongue of an angel, or the tongues of the whole human family combined, I would praise God in the highest for His great wisdom and condescension in suffering the children of men to fall into the very sin into which they have fallen in, for He did it that they, like Jesus, might descend below all things and then press forward and rise above all. Our spirits once dwelt in the heavens and were as pure and holy as the angels; but angels have tabernacles and spirits have none, and they are anxious to take tabernacles and they come to the meanest, lowest and humblest of the human race to obtain one rather than run any risk of not doing so.

* * * * *

 

 

[47]                              Chapter 4

 

THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF CHRIST

The modern Christians believe that Christ came down to earth from heaven–that He had a pre-existence as is very evident in the scriptures. But they have difficulty understanding that Christ was not the only mortal to have that pre-mortal life. However, a close look at the scriptures will show that we were all with Him in the presence of the Father.

 

John: (New Testament)

What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? (6:62)

I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. (16:28)

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 18:290 & 292)

Have you not read in the New Testament that Jesus Christ was the first-born of every creature? From this reading it would seem that he was the oldest of the whole human family, that is, so far as his birth in the spirit world is concerned. How long ago since that birth took place is not revealed; it might have been unnumbered millions of years for aught we know. But we do know that he was born and was the oldest of the family of spirits. Have you not also read in the New Testament that he is called our elder brother? Does this refer to the birth of the body of flesh and bones? By no means, for there were hundreds of millions who were born upon our earth before the body of flesh and bones was born whom we call Jesus. [48] How is it, then, that he is our elder brother? We must go back to the previous birth, before the foundation of this earth; we have to go back to past ages, to the period when he was begotten of the Father among the great family of spirits. * * *

To show yet more clearly that the principle of man’s pre-existence is founded on Biblical authority, I will quote you part of the Savior’s prayer to the Father, just prior to his crucifixion–“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Here we find Jesus actually referring to the time he dwelt with his Father before he took upon himself a body of flesh and bones. He also says, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” He came down from the presence and abode of his Father. On another occasion, while addressing the Jews, he says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” He was, in fine, the first-born of every creature, and consequently the eldest of our Father’s family.

If, therefore, it be now admitted that our elder brother had a previous existence with the Father, why should it be thought unreasonable that the rest of the family should have a pre-existence as well as the First Born? He was born according to man in the flesh, and why not his younger brethren have a similar birth with him in the spirit?

* * * * *

 

John Taylor: (JD 24:291)

We are told, as I have already said, that God is the God and Father of the spirits of all flesh. We are further told that Jesus the Son of God, existed before the worlds were. It is also stated that He is our elder brother, and that we pre-existed also–that is, our spirits did.

* * * * *

 

[49] Daniel H. Wells: (JD 12:134)

Jesus told the Jews that Abraham saw his day and rejoiced in it. They queried with Him as to how he–not fifty years old–could know anything about Abraham, who had been dead so long. Jesus said–“Before Abraham was I am.” This seemed to puzzle the Jews; they did not understand the principle of pre-existence and that Jesus, who was then clothed with flesh, had possessed an existence in the spirit world, that he was the first born of many sons, and had been born before Abraham in the spirit. Jesus understood it, and once in a while, as in that case, he spoke upon the principle.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 3:352)

There are many principles contained in the words which I have just read. Jesus, for instance, stood before the brother of Jared, not in his body of flesh and bones, not as an infant, not as a small spirit one foot or two feet high, but a full grown spirit; and when the brother of Jared beheld the Finger of Christ, he beheld a full-sized finger as of a man, for says Jesus, “When I shall take a body of flesh and bones and redeem my people, I will appear as thou now seest me, but this is the body of my spirit; I show myself in the spirit, you behold it, you see that it is of the size of a man.”

“All men in the beginning have I created after the body of my spirit,” as much as to say that “you, the brother of Jared, did not receive your existence a few years ago here in the flesh; that was not your origin, but all men, all those that I will show you that have existed or will exist upon this earth, in the beginning have I created after the image of the body of my spirit.” They were all spiritually organized before they came here.

This is the only place in the Book of Mormon where pre-existence is clearly spoken of, and this was revealed before the organization of this Church, and is a doctrine [50] which was not in the possession of the Christian world, hence it shows that it was dictated by a Spirit capable of revealing a doctrine unknown to the Christian world–the pre-existence of man.

* * * * *

 

George Q. Cannon: (JD 26:185-186)

It has been argued that because we have no recollection of any previous state of being, our existence must, therefore, have commenced at our birth–that that was the inception of existence so far as we are concerned. This is the general belief throughout Christendom. No body of worshippers who call themselves Christians, that we have any account of, have any belief in a pre-existent state for man. They consider his birth into mortality as the beginning of life for him. Yet the belief is universal among them that Jesus Christ, the son of God, and the Redeemer of the world, had a pre-existence. It is the cornerstone of their faith. If Jesus did not have life till He appeared in mortality, then their faith in Him is vain, for He would not be God. But they profess to believe that He is God, the Son; that He dwelt in the heavens and was the Creator of all things before He took upon Himself humanity. In believing this they are correct. But why they should be willing to believe this concerning our elder brother Jesus, and at the same time be unwilling to believe that the whole family of man also existed in the heavens with the Father before they came here, is not clear. * * * His disciples had the right to think from all that He taught, that if He had been with the Father before coming into this mortal life, they also had been there. If they were to be so closely associated with Him in the great future what was there to suggest to them that they had not been intimately connected with Him in the past? If He had been chosen from before the foundation of the earth to do the work which He was then doing, what inconsistency would there be in their being chosen also, as His ministers and associates, at the same time? To look at them as they [51] traveled and labored together throughout Jewry, there was nothing unreasonable in the idea of their common origin.

The Lord Jesus was undoubtedly selected for the great mission of redeeming the world, because of His great qualities and His peculiar fitness as one of the Godhead. It is written of Him: “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

Who were his fellows? Were not all the distinguished of heaven’s sons there–they who afterwards made their appearance on the earth as Prophets, Apostles and righteous men? If He was chosen above all His fellows, and anointed with the oil of gladness, is it not consistent and reasonable to suppose that His faithful Apostles were also chosen and anointed to perform their part in the great drama of human existence for the enactment of which the earth was to be prepared? If He had companions in the heavens, or to use the language of the Scriptures–“fellows,” is it reasonable to suppose that He left them there while He came down here and took upon Himself mortality? Does it violate in the least any idea that we derive from the sacred records, to think that His “fellows” also came here, and, as He did, also obtained mortal tabernacles?

If we grant that His “fellows” in the heavens came here, as He did, and obtained mortal bodies, what shall we say of the undistinguished millions who have crowded their way forward into mortal life from the beginning? Shall we divide humanity into classes, and say one class had a heavenly existence before coming here, while another class sprung into existence at mortal conception or birth? If we are not justified, by either Scripture or reason, in placing the Redeemer of the world in a class by Himself, so far as pre-existence is concerned, and in separating Him in this respect from His “fellows,” how can we find warrant for dividing the rest of the family of God, into two classes–one as having a pre-existence, and another as not having any life till they arrive here?

If it were possible for the Lord Jesus to descend from the mansions of glory and take possession of a mortal [52] tabernacle, and be born of a woman in the shape of an infant, is it not equally possible that we all did the same? Everything that we know concerning the mysteries of this life justifies us in thus believing. But we are not left to speculation upon this point. God has revealed this in great plainness. The Bible proves to us that Jesus existed with the Father, and that He descended from His high estate in the regions of glory to become a mortal man; for He speaks Himself in praying to the Father, of the glory he had with the Father before He came here, that glory having been revealed to Him. Now, is there anything difficult or incomprehensible in the thought, that we all in like manner, existed with the Father, and with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, before we came here?

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 15:243-245)

When we come to new revelation which God has vouchsafed to give to his people in these latter times, this subject is made very plain; and on these new revelations in connection with the old, what little light we can gain through the hymn that was sung at the opening of the meeting, was founded, “When shall I regain thy presence,” as expressed in the first verse, showing that we once were in his presence and existed where he is, but for some reason we have been banished therefrom, and that when we are redeemed we shall return again, or as one of the inspired writers has it–“the spirit shall return to God who gave it.”

This returning of the spirit to God who gave it, clearly shows to my mind that the spirit once existed with God and dwelt in his presence, otherwise the word “return” would be inapplicable. If I were going to China, it would be inapplicable for me to say I am returning to China. Why? Because I never have been there, consequently the word “return” would be an improper word. So in regard to the saying of the prophet, it would be entirely improper to say that, after the body crumbles to dust the spirit would “return” to God who gave it, if it never had been there.

[53]         Jesus seems to have been a pattern in all things pertaining to his brethren, and we find that he had a previous existence–his spirit existed before he came and tabernacled in the flesh. This is abundantly proved in the Scriptures. In the prayer which he offered to his heavenly Father beseeching him to make his disciples one, he says, “Father, glorify thou me with that glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Now if Jesus dwelt with the Father before the world was, why not the rest of the family, or in other words, the rest of the spirits? It certainly was not his tabernacle which dwelt there before the world was, for he came in the meridian of time, and his spirit entered a tabernacle of flesh and bones, and was born of a woman, just the same as all the rest of the human family. What then is the meaning of that Scripture which speaks of Jesus being the elder brother? It certainly could not have reference to him being the eldest so far as his natural birth on this earth was concerned, for he certainly was not the eldest, for generation after generation had preceded him during the four thousand years which had passed away, from the time of creation until he was born; but yet he is called the “elder brother.” In another Scripture it is said of him that he was “the firstborn of every creature.” This would imply, then, that Jesus, so far as the great family of man is concerned, was the firstborn of the whole of them. How and when was he born? He was born in the eternal world, not his flesh and bones, but that intelligent spirit which dwelt within his tabernacle was born before this world was made, and he seems to have been the first spirit that was born, and for this reason he became the elder brother; and we are told in many Scriptures in the New Testament, that we are his brethren, and that he is not ashamed to call us his brethren. I look upon him as having the same origin as we had, only he was the eldest; and if he was born in the eternal world thousands of years ago, why not all the rest of his brethren, so far as their spirits are concerned? I know that the objection will immediately arise in the minds of individuals who have not reflected on this subject, if we were intelligent personages thousands of [54] years ago, and dwelling in the presence of God, and of Jesus, our elder brother, how is it that we have no remembrance of anything that transpired in our preexistence? I answer this question by saying, that when we came into this world from our former state of existence, and had our spirits enclosed within these mortal tabernacles, it had a tendency to take away our memories so far as the past was concerned. It did so in relation to Jesus. He had great knowledge before he was born into this world–sufficient to create the heavens and the earth, hence we read in the Hebrews that God, by his son, made the worlds. This was before Jesus came here, and he must then have been the possessor of great knowledge to have been able to do that; but when he took upon himself flesh and bones, did he forget this knowledge? We read in the Scriptures, speaking of Jesus coming here and taking a body of flesh and bones, that “in his humiliation his judgment was taken away.” What humiliation? His descending from the presence of God his Father and descending below all things, his judgment was taken away, that is, his remembrance of things that were past, and that knowledge which, while in the presence of his Father, enabled him to make worlds, and he had to begin at the first principles of knowledge, just the same as all his brethren who came here in the flesh. We read that Jesus, as he grew in stature, grew also in wisdom and knowledge. If he had possessed all wisdom, and had not forgotten that which he formerly possessed, how was it that he could increase in wisdom as he increased in stature? It shows clearly that the wisdom which he had possessed thousands of years before, had for a wise purpose been taken from him. “His judgment was taken away,” and he <was> left, as it were, in the very depth of humility, beginning at the very first principles of knowledge and growing up from grace to grace, as the Scriptures say, from one degree to another, until he received a fullness from his Father. Then when he did regain all his previous knowledge and wisdom, he had the fullness of the Father within him; in other words, “in him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

[55]         Now if his knowledge was forgotten, and his judgment taken away, why not ours? We find this to be the case.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 15:248-249)

. . . after having translated the Book of Mormon, this young man, Joseph Smith, a man of no education or learning, comparatively speaking, was commanded to translate the Bible by inspiration. He commenced the work, and the first and second chapters of Genesis containing the history of the creation are very plain and full. In the first chapter the Lord speaks about the spiritual creation of all things before they were made temporally. In the second chapter, he goes on to state that there was not yet a man to till the ground, “for in heaven created I them.” That explains the mystery about the work previously spoken of in the first chapter, and shows that it had reference to the great work which God had performed in the heavens before he made this earth temporally. This same doctrine is inculcated in some small degree in the Book of Mormon. However, I do not think that I should have ever discerned it in that book had it not been for the new translation of the Scriptures, that throwing so much light and information on the subject, I searched the Book of Mormon to see if there were indications in it that related to the pre-existence of man. I found them in a great revelation that was given to the prophet who led the first colony to this country from the Tower of Babel at the time the language was confounded. This great prophet had a remarkable vision before he arrived on this continent. In this vision he saw the spiritual personage of our Savior as he existed before he came to take upon him flesh and bones; and Jesus, in talking to this great man of God, informed him that as he appeared to him in the spirit so would he appear to his brethren in the flesh in future generations, and said, he, “I am he that was prepared from before the foundation of the world, to redeem my people.” He furthermore addressed himself to this great man saying, “Seest thou that thou art created in mine own image?” [56] That is, man here on the earth is in the image of that spiritual body or personage of Jesus, so far as we are not deformed. “Seest thou that thou art created in mine own image, yea even in the beginning created I all men after mine own image.”

* * * * *

 

(NOTE: There is a great deal more information pertaining to the pre-existence of Christ, some of which is included in Chapters 9 and 10 of this publication.)

 

 

[57]                              Chapter 5

 

GENESIS AND THE TWO CREATIONS

In the first chapter of Genesis we read of a creation of man and all things; then in the second chapter it says there was not a man to till the earth. Most theologians explain this apparent inconsistency as a mistake in the writing or translating of the scriptures. But, it is no mistake. The quotations compiled in this chapter will show that one chapter was referring to a spiritual creation and the other, a mortal creation.

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 18:291)

 

And have you not read too in the same chapter that “God created man in his own image; male and female created he them?” When? It is said to have been on the sixth period, or, according to King James’ translation, “on the sixth day.” Do you mean to say, we were all in existence on the sixth day? Yes. But on the seventh day, we are told in the following chapter, “there was not a man to till the ground. Is it not very singular that all should have an existence on the sixth day, and on the following day there was not a man in existence to till the ground? Why not? Because man was not yet placed in this temporal creation, but he had an existence then in heaven, where we were begotten. You and I were present when this world was created and made–you and I then understood the nature of its creation, and I have no doubt that we rejoiced and sang about it. Indeed, the Lord put a very curious question to the Patriarch Job, apropos of this. He said to him, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Where wast thou, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

[58]         Supposing Job to be living now, and this same question put to him, and supposing too, that, instead of answering it himself, he were to seek to the learned Christian world for enlightenment on the subject, what do you think would be the nature of the answer he would receive? It would be, in effect, “Why, Job, when the Lord laid the foundation of the earth, you had no existence, for you were not born.” Why did not Job so answer the Lord? It was because he understood something about man’s previous estate. He was wise in making no reply to the Lord, for doubtless he felt himself unable to do so.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (Masterful Discourses, pp. 67-69)

In these two creations that took place in the beginning, represented as the beginning of this creation–not absolutely the beginning of all the creations of God; for his works are without beginning, and without end; they never cease, nor does his word cease; he speaks to us, so far as this creation is concerned, according to our natural ideas and understanding. He says, “All things I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my spirit–I created them firstly spiritual and secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again firstly temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work, speaking unto you that you may naturally understand; but unto myself my works have no end, neither beginning.”

We learn, therefore, when speaking of this spiritual creation, that not only all the children of men, of all generations, and of all ages, were created spiritually in heaven, but that fish and fowls, and beast, and all animated things having life, were first made spiritual in heaven, on the fifth and sixth days, before bodies of flesh were prepared for them on the earth; and that there was no flesh upon the earth until the morning of the seventh day. On that morning God made the first fleshly tabernacle and took man’s spirit and put within it, and man became a living soul–the first flesh upon the earth–the first man also. Though it was the seventh day, no flesh [59] but this one tabernacle was yet formed. No fish, fowl and beast was as yet permitted to have a body of flesh. The second chapter of Genesis (new translation) informs us that the spirits of fowls were created in heaven, the spirits of fish and cattle, and all things that dwell upon the earth, had their pre-existence. They were created in heaven, the spiritual part of them; not their flesh and bones. We are also told in this inspired translation that these living trees which we behold–for God has given life unto all things–had their spiritual existence in heaven before their temporal existence; every herb and every tree, before it was planted on the earth; that is, the spiritual part of it, the life of it, that which, in other words, animates, that which gives power to the vegetable to bring forth fruit after its likeness–the spiritual part existed in heaven. It was a spiritual creation first. We are also told that the earth was organized in a spiritual form; that is, that portion that gives life to the earth. We read about the earth’s dying, and that it shall be quickened again. What is it that will make the earth die? It will be the withdrawing of the spiritual portion from it, that which gives it life–that which animates it, and causes it to bring forth fruit; that which quickens the earth is the Spirit of God. That spiritual creation existed before the temporal was formed. This was the beginning of the first part of his work, pertaining to this creation. On the seventh day he began the temporal portion. There was not yet a man to till the ground, “and the gods formed man from the dust of the ground, and took his spirit–that is, the man’s spirit–and put it into him and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” This we read in the second chapter of Genesis, and you will find it recorded on the 6th and 35th pages of the new edition of the Pearl of Great Price.

Abraham also obtained a knowledge of the spiritual creation, as well as the temporal. In giving a history of the creation, he speaks of the formation of man out of the ground, how he took man’s spirit that was created in heaven and put it within the body of man, and man became a living soul–the first flesh upon the earth, as [60] recorded in the second of Genesis. Now, we have been in the habit of thinking that the various kinds of animals that have lived, according to geologists, were the first flesh on the earth, and we go away back millions of ages to see that these lower formations of life existed before man. But the Lord gives us different information from this. He shows us that among all the animated creatures of flesh, man was the first that was ever placed upon the earth in this temporal condition, contradicting the theories of geologists–that is, so far as placing man on the earth in this present probation is concerned. What may have taken place millions of ages before the world was organized temporally for man to inhabit is not revealed; but, so far as this present change is concerned, that took place about six thousand years ago, man was the first being that came upon the earth and inhabited a body of flesh bones. Afterwards, on the seventh day, out of the ground the Lord God created the beasts of the field. Go back to the first chapter of Genesis, and you will find that the beasts, etc., were formed on the sixth day or period, and that on the seventh there was no flesh on the earth, and having created man as the first flesh upon the earth, God then created, out of the ground, the beasts of the field.

Here is the second part of the beginning of his work; firstly, spiritual–the beasts created in heaven; then, secondly temporal–their bodies formed out of the ground, their spirits being put within these bodies, and the beasts became living souls. As it was with the birds of the air, so with the fish of the sea, and so with all animated creatures pertaining to this world. This is the history of the generations of the heavens and the earth, on the day that the Lord God created them; and the Lord has seen proper to reveal this great information in the first of Genesis, and in the Book of Abraham.

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[61] Orson Pratt: (JD 15:243)

Now a question arises, If this spirit can exist separate and independent of the tabernacle, when the tabernacle dies, is it unreasonable to suppose that it could exist before the tabernacle was formed? This is an important question and in my estimation there is nothing absurd or unreasonable in the least degree in believing that that personage that we call the intelligent spirit, which can exist between death and the resurrection, separate and distinct from the body, could also have had an existence before the body was formed, that is, a pre-existence. This is a scriptural doctrine, for there are many passages in scripture which, in my estimation, prove that man had a pre-existence. If we turn to the first and second chapters of Genesis, we shall find it clearly indicated that man had an existence before he was placed in the Garden of Eden. In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that God made the earth, and the seas, and the grass, and the herbs and the trees in about six days of time. We also read that on the fifth day of the creation he made the fish and fowls; that on the sixth day he made the animals, and last of all that he made man, male and female created he them. This seems to have been the last work of creation on the sixth day. Read on still further, in the second chapter of Genesis, and we are informed that on the seventh day there was not yet a man to till the ground. Now how are we going to reconcile this with that which is stated in the preceding chapter–on the fifth day be made the fowls and the fish, and on the sixth day he made the animals before he made man, and on the seventh day there was not yet a man to till the ground. And then we are informed about man’s being placed in the garden on the seventh day; and also that on that day the beasts were formed and brought to the man to see what he would call them. This seems to have been another department of work that the Lord accomplished on the morning of the seventh day. He planted a garden on the seventh day in Eden, he placed the man in that garden on the seventh day; and then we are informed that he brought the beasts of the field and [62] the various animals that he had made before the man, and man gave names to them on the Sabbath day; but on the sixth day they were made male and female. I reconcile this by giving a pre-existence to man; such is my faith. I believe that man had an existence before the Lord commenced the great temporal work of creation, so far as this planet is concerned. How long he had existed prior to the formation of this planet I do not know, but it is certain God seems to have formed the spiritual part of it in the six days, and when it comes to the temporal part that seems to have been the work of the seventh day. On the seventh day the Bible says that God ended his work. He did not altogether end it on the sixth, but he ended it on the seventh day.

* * * * *

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:62,63,64)

Every creature had a spiritual existence. The spirits of men, beasts, and all animal life, existed before the foundations of the earth were laid, and are living entities. As death, through the fall, has passed upon all, so the resurrection, through the mission of Jesus Christ, comes to all.

I want to give you a little explanation of man’s relationship to the animals upon the earth, as the Lord has given it to us by revelation–not as it is taught by man in the world–but the true relationship which exists between man and beast.

The idea prevails in general, I believe, in the religious world where the gospel truth is misunderstood, that man is the only being on the earth that has what is called a soul or a spirit. We know this is not the case, for the Lord has said that not only has man a spirit, and is thereby a living soul, but likewise the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea have spirits, and hence are living souls. But this does not make them kinsmen to the sons and daughters of God. They are our Father’s creations, not his offspring, and that is the great difference between man and beast.

[63]         It would be a very strange world where animals were not found. If, after the resurrection of the dead, we discovered that man was the only living creature with immortality, we would certainly consider it a very strange world. Yet the idea does prevail that man has a spirit and the animals have not. Some people think this is the great thing that distinguishes man from all other beings.

The fish, the fowl, the beasts of the field, lived before they were placed naturally in this earth, and so did the plants that are upon the face of the earth. The spirits that possess the bodies of the animals are in the similitude of their bodies. In other words, the bodies of animals conform to the spirits which possess them, and which existed before they were placed on the earth; “that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created.”

* * * * *

 

Brigham Young: (JD 18:257)

I will give you a part of my own visions upon this matter. Mankind is composed of two distinct elements; the first is a spiritual organization in eternity, the second is a natural organization on this earth, formed out of the material of which this earth is composed. Man is first spiritual, then temporal. As it is written in the revelations of God to man, all things were first created spiritual, and secondly temporal. That is, spirits were begotten, born and educated in the celestial world, and were brought forth by celestial bodies. By tracing this subject a little we might understand how this is brought about. The spirits before inhabiting bodies are as pure and holy as the angels or as the gods, they know no evil. This, their first estate, is the commencement of their experience.

* * * * *

 

[64] Joseph F. Smith: (JD 25:250)

With God all things are spiritual. There is nothing temporal with Him at all, and there ought to be no distinction with us in regard to these things. Our earthly or temporal existence is merely a continuance of that which is spiritual. Every step we take in the great journey of life, the great journey of eternity, is a step in advance or in retrogression. We are here in mortality, it is true; but we are ahead of that condition we occupied before we came here and took upon us mortality. We are a step in advance of our former state. What is the body without the spirit? It is lifeless clay. What is it that affects this lifeless clay? It is the spirit, it is the immortal part, the eternal being, that existed before it came here, that exists within us, and that will continue to exist, and that by and by will redeem these tabernacles and bring them forth out of the graves. This whole mission of ours is spiritual. The work we have to do here, although we call it temporal, pertains alike to our spiritual and our temporal salvation.

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[65]                              Chapter 6

 

BIRTH OF THE SPIRIT

The questions arise in the minds of many: “Did my existence begin at birth?”‘ and “If it had a pre-existence, when did it begin?” The scriptures are very clear that we are to call God “our Father in Heaven”, and that He calls us His “children”. This would clearly indicate that we are the offspring of God and therefore made “in His image.”

 

Bruce R. McConkie: (Mormon Doctrine p. 589)

Pre-existence is the term commonly used to describe the pre-mortal existence of the spirit children of God the Father. Speaking of this prior existence in a spirit sphere, the First Presidency of the Church (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund) said: “All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity”; as spirits they were the “offspring of celestial parentage.” (Man: His Origin and Destiny, pp. 351, 355)

 

Doctrine and Covenants:

Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. (93:29)

* * * * *

[66] Brigham Young:

Mankind are organized of element designed to endure to all eternity; it never had a beginning and never can have an end. There never was a time when this matter, of which you and I are composed, was not in existence, and there never can be a time when it will pass out of existence; it cannot be annihilated. (JD 3:356)

The life that is within us is a part of an eternity of life, and is organized spirit, which is clothed upon by tabernacles, thereby constituting our present being, which is designed for the attainment of further intelligence. The matter composing our bodies and spirits has been organized from the eternity of matter that fills immensity. (JD 7:285)

* * * * *

 

Orson F. Whitney: (Contributor 3:269)

Nothing will forever remain nothing, and no school of philosophy or system of evolution could ever make it otherwise. But matter and spirit are eternal, self-existent substances, and can neither be created nor destroyed.

Man is the direct offspring of Deity, of a being who is the Begetter of his spirit in the eternal worlds, and the Architect of his mortal tabernacle in this.

* * * * *

 

Bruce R. McConkie: (Mormon Doctrine p. 750)

Our spirit bodies had their beginning in pre-existence when we were born as the spirit children of God our Father. Through that birth process spirit element was organized into intelligent entities. The bodies so created have all the parts of mortal bodies.

* * * * *

 

[67] Orson Pratt: (JD 1:54)

The “Mormons” have a peculiar doctrine in regard to our pre-existence, different from the views of the Christian world, so called, who do not believe that man had a pre-existence. It is believed, by the religious world, that man, both body and spirit, begins to live about the time that he is born into this world, or a little before; that then is the beginning of life. They believe, that the Lord, by a direct act of creation, formed, in the first place, man out of the dust of the ground; and they believe that man is possessed of both body and spirit, by the union of which he became a living creature. Suppose we admit this doctrine concerning the formation of the body from the dust; then how was the spirit formed? Why, says one, we suppose it was made by a direct act of creation, by the Almighty Himself; that He moulded the spirit of man, formed and finished it in a proper likeness to inhabit the tabernacle He had made out of the dust.

Have you any account of this in the Bible? Do the Scriptures declare that the spirit was formed at the time the tabernacle was made? No. All the tabernacles of the children of men that were ever formed, from remote generations, from the days of Adam to this time, have been formed out of the earth. We are of the earth earthy. The tabernacle has been organized according to certain principles, and laws of organization, with bones, and flesh, and sinews, and skin. Now, where do you suppose all these tabernacles got their spirits? Does the Lord make a new spirit every time a tabernacle is made? If so, the work of creation, according to the belief of Christendom, did not cease on the seventh day. If we admit their views, the Lord must be continually making spirits to inhabit all the tabernacles of the children of men; he must make something like one thousand millions of spirits every century; he must be working at it every day, for there are many hundreds of individuals being born into the world every day. Does the Lord create a new spirit every time a new tabernacle comes into the world? That does not look reasonable, nor God-like.

[68]         But how is it, you inquire? Why the fact is, that being that animates this body, that gives life and energy, and power to move, to act, and to think; that being that dwells within this tabernacle is much older than what the tabernacle is. That spirit that now dwells within each man, and each woman, of this vast assembly of people, is more than a thousand years old, and I would venture to say, that it is more than five thousand years old.

But how was it made? When was it made? And by whom was it made? If our spirits existed thousands of years ago–if they began to exist–if there were a beginning to their organization, by what process was this organization carried on? Through what medium, and by what system of laws? Was it by a direct creation of the Almighty? Or were we framed according to a certain system of laws, in the same manner as our tabernacles? If we were to reason from analogy–if we admit analogical reasoning in the question, what would we say? We should say, that our spirits were formed by generation, the same as the body or tabernacle of flesh and bones.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 15:245-247)

There is something truly cheering in contemplating the previous existence of man, much more so than in the old idea of the sectarian world–that God is constantly creating, that he did not finish his work some five or six thousand years ago, but that he is creating all the time. They will tell you that they have spirits in their bodies capable of existing after the bodies have crumbled back to mother earth. Ask them the origin of these spirits, and they will tell you they originated about the time the infant tabernacles of flesh and bone originated. Hence, according to their ideas, God has all the time been creating about one person every twenty seconds, which I believe is about the average rate that persons are born into the world; in other words, about three a minute, and according to their ideas the Lord is engaged in making spirits with this rapidity, and sending them here to this world.

[69]         I cannot, for my part, see that there is any more absurdity in believing that he made them thousands of years before they came here, than to suppose that he made them just before they came here, and entered into the tabernacle. One can certainly not be more unreasonable than the other.

Because we cannot recollect our former existence is no proof whatever that we did not have one. I can prove this. In regard to this present existence, what person is there in this congregation who can remember the first six months of his or her infancy? There is not a man nor a woman on the face of the earth, I presume, who can remember this; but no person will argue, on that account, that he did not exist at that time. Oh no, says the objector, that would be an improper method of arguing. Our memories have nothing to do with a previous existence. If we remember it, all good; if we do not, it does not alter that existence.

If we were born in heaven before this world. was made, the question might arise as to the nature of that birth. Was it by command that the spiritual substance, scattered through space, was miraculously brought together, and organized into a spiritual form, and called a spirit? Is that the way we were born? Is that the way that Jesus, the firstborn of every creature, was brought into existence? Oh no; we were all born there after the same manner that we are here, that is to say, every person that had an existence before he came here had a literal father and a literal mother, a personal father and a personal mother; hence the Apostle Paul, in speaking to the heathen at Ephesus, says, “We are his offspring.” Now I look upon every man and woman that have ever come here on this globe, or that ever will come, as having a father and mother in the heavens by whom their spirits were brought into existence. But how long they resided in the heavens before they came here is not revealed.

We will refer now to the 19th chapter of Job, to show that there were sons of God before this world was made. The Lord asked Job a question in relation to his pre-existence, saying, “Where wast thou when I laid the [70] corner stone of the earth?” Where were you, Job, when all the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy; when the nucleus of this creation was commenced? If Job had been indoctrinated into all the mysteries of modern religionists, he would have answered this question by saying, “Lord, why do you ask me such a question? I had no existence at that time.” But the very question implies the existence of Job, but he had forgotten where he was, and the Lord put the question as though he did exist, showing to him in the declaration, that, when he laid the corner stone of the earth, there were a great many sons of God there, and that they all shouted together for joy. Who were these sons of God? They certainly were not the fleshly descendants of Adam, for he had not then been placed in the Garden of Eden. Who were they then? They were Jesus, the elder brother, and all the family that have come from that day until now–millions on millions–and all who will come hereafter, and take tabernacles of flesh and bones until the closing up scene of this creation. All these were present when God commenced this creation. Jesus was also there and superintended the work, for by him God made the worlds, consequently he must have been there, and all felt joyful, and shouted for joy. What produced their joy? It was foreknowledge. They knew that the creation then being formed was for their abiding place, where their spirits would go and take upon them tabernacles of flesh and bones, and they rejoiced at the prospect. They had more knowledge then than the world of mankind have now. They saw that it was absolutely necessary for their advancement in the scale of being to go and take tabernacles of flesh and bone; they saw that their spirits without tabernacles never could be made perfect, never could be placed in a position to attain to great power, dominion and glory like their Father; and understanding that the earth was being created to give them the opportunity of reaching his position, they sang together for joy. They composed a hymn, and if we could have a copy of it, we should no doubt find that it was a hymn in relation to the construction of the earth and its future habitation by [71] those spirits in the form of men. I should like to see that hymn myself, and if we had it we would get our choir here to sing it. I think it would impart a good deal of information to us, and perhaps we would shout for joy again.

* * * * *

Brigham Young: (JD 4:216)

I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim. You are all well acquainted with Him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know. I told you a little last Sabbath about forgetting things.

There is not a person here today but what is a son or a daughter of that Being. In the spirit world their spirits were first begotten and brought forth, and they lived there with their parents for ages before they came here. This, perhaps, is hard for many to believe, but it is the greatest nonsense in the world not to believe it. If you do not believe it, cease to call Him Father; and when you pray, pray to some other character.

It would be inconsistent in you to disbelieve what I think you know, and then to go home and ask the Father to do so and so for you. The Scriptures which we believe have taught us from the beginning to call Him our Father, and we have been taught to pray to Him as our Father, in the name of our eldest brother whom we call Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world; and that Saviour, while here on earth, was so explicit on this point, that he taught his disciples to call no man on earth father, for we have one which is in heaven. He is the Saviour, because it is his right to redeem the remainder of the family pertaining to the flesh on this earth. If any of you do not believe this, tell us how and what we should believe. If I am not telling you the truth, please to tell me the truth on this subject, and let me know more than I do know. If it is hard for you [72] to believe, if you wish to be Latter-day Saints, admit the fact as I state it, and do not contend against it. Try to believe it, because you will never become acquainted with our Father, never enjoy the blessings of His Spirit, never be prepared to enter into His presence, until you most assuredly believe it; therefore you had better try to believe this great mystery about God.

* * * * *

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:56-57)

We lived in the presence of God in the spirit before we came here. We desired to be like him, we saw him, we were in his presence. There is not a soul who has not seen both the Father and the Son, and in the spirit world we were in their presence; but it became necessary for us to gain experiences which could not be obtained in that world of spirits, and so we were accorded the privilege of coming down here upon this earth.

When we lived in the presence of our Father, we were not like him; we were just spirits. We did not have bodies of flesh and bones, but he did. He was a glorious personage with a body of flesh and bones, his spirit and body being inseparably connected, and his body shining with a brightness beyond the brightness of the sun. We saw him in his majesty; and when the plan of salvation was presented to us, it was made known to us that if we would pass through this mortal existence, and be true and faithful to all the commandments our Father would give unto us–thus keeping the second estate as we had kept the first–we, too, eventually would have the privilege of coming back into his presence with bodies of flesh and bones which would also shine with the brightness of the sun, to share in all the fulness of his kingdom.

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[73] Brigham Young: (JD 4:218)

Things were first created spiritually; the Father actually begat the spirits, and they were brought forth and lived with Him. Then He commenced the work of creating earthly tabernacles, precisely as He had been created in this flesh himself, by partaking of the coarse material that was organized and composed this earth until His system was charged with it, consequently the tabernacles of His children were organized from the coarse materials of this earth. When the time came that His first born, the Saviour, should come into the world and take a tabernacle, the Father came Himself and favored that spirit with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it. The Saviour was begotten by the Father of His spirit, by the same Being who is the Father of our spirits, and that is all the organic difference between Jesus Christ and you and me. And the difference there is between our Father and us consists in that He has gained His exaltation, and has obtained eternal lives. The principle of eternal lives is an eternal existence, eternal duration, eternal exaltation. Endless are His kingdoms endless His thrones and His dominions, and. endless are His posterity; they never will cease to multiply from this time henceforth and forever.

* * * * *

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:62-63)

Man is the greatest of all the creations of God. He is his offspring. We are all his children. It was made known through the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who saw it in vision, that the inhabitants of this earth and other worlds are begotten sons and daughters unto God. That ought to put an end–so far as Latter-day Saints are concerned–to all this nonsense prevailing in the world regarding the origin of man.

Man, I say, as the offspring of God, is the greatest of all his creations. He is greater than the moon, the sun, [74] and the stars, which are the work of the fingers of God, and are made for the benefit of man. It is man’s place to rule, and stand at the head of all other dominions, powers, creations, and beings, which the Lord our God has created.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 20:75)

But when we learn through the revelations of God that instead of man’s coming up from the poor worm of the dirt, he descended from that being who controls the universe by his power; that he descended from that being who is the fullness of all knowledge, and who sways his sceptre over more planetary systems than there are sands upon the sea shore. We are his offspring, we are his sons and his daughters, we are his children, he has begotten us, and we existed before the foundation of the world. Who among the wise, and the great, and those who have studied as far as human wisdom can at present reach; who among them can tell the origin of life? Who among them can tell the origin of this intelligence in man, this reasoning power, and this perceptive faculty, that enables man to grasp not only a great many things pertaining to the laws connected with their own little earth, but enables him to launch out into the regions of space for hundreds of millions of miles and find out and understand many things that govern worlds afar off. Is there no man that can tell the origin of this intelligence? Let the trained collegiate mind, whose lifetime has been occupied in study, come forth and tell us how man obtains the first principle of knowledge, how came knowledge to be connected with matter, how came knowledge connected with flesh and bones, and blood, and skin, and sinew? That knowledge–that intelligence is Godlike; God is the author, he is father of our spirits, and we were begotten before this world rolled into existence. Once we dwelt in the presence of our Father; once we were enabled to lift our songs of praise in the celestial world, from which we [75] emigrated; once we dwelt in the society of an innumerable convention of angels, upon a world that had passed through its stages, its ordeals, the same as this world is passing through its various mutations. That celestial world from whence we came, is more perfect than this earth; it is organized after a celestial order, a higher order and glorified by the presence of immortal, glorified, celestial beings. That is our home, from that world we came.

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Orson Pratt: (JD 18:289 & 290)

We are the offspring of the Lord, but the rest of animated nature is not; we are just as much the sons and daughters of God as the children in this congregation are the sons and daughters of their parents. We were begotten by him. When? Before we were born in the flesh; this limited state of existence is not our origin, it is merely the origin of the tabernacle in which we dwelt. The mind we are possessed of, the being that is capable of thinking and reflecting, that is capable of acting according to the motives presented to it, that being which is immortal, which dwells within us, which is capable of reasoning from cause to effect, and which can comprehend, in some measure, the laws of its Creator, as well as trace them out as exhibited in universal nature, that being, which we call the Mind, existed before the tabernacle. ***

Now, if they <spirits of men> could exist after they leave this tabernacle, while the tabernacle lies mouldering in the dust, why not exist before the tabernacle had any existence? Was it not just as easy for an existence to be given to spiritual personages before they took possession of bodies as it is for them to exist after the body decays? Yes, and these are our views, founded upon new revelation; not the views of uninspired men, but founded upon direct revelation from God.

Where did we exist before we came here? With God. Where does he exist? In the place John denominated heaven. What do we understand heaven to be? Not the [76] place described by our Christian friends, beyond the bounds of time and space, for there is no such place; there never was, nor ever will be; but I mean a tangible world, a heaven that is perfect, a heaven with materials that have been organized and put together, sanctified and glorified as the residence and world where God resides. Born there? Yes, we were born there. Even our great Redeemer, whose death and sufferings we are this afternoon celebrating, was born up in yonder world before he was born of the Virgin Mary.

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Orson Pratt: (JD 19:314)

We are told that in the beginning man was created in the image of God, and we are also told that Jesus the Son of God, was the express image of His Father. The doctrine that man, in his form and shape is in the image of God, may be or may seem something new and strange to those who are not acquainted with the principles in this church. But why should not men resemble God is the question, seeing that we are his offspring? Would you expect that sons and daughters of this world would be like a horse or like the fowls of the air or the fish of the sea? Or would you expect them to resemble their parents, and be in their image and likeness? * * *

We, who compose this congregation, are all one family, and only a very small portion of the family of our Father and God. But when did he beget us? I answer before this world was made; not our flesh and bones, but that being called man that was created in the image and likeness of God and who dwells in his mortal tabernacle. That being is the offspring of God; we were all begotten by him before this world was made. We then dwelt in his presence and could behold his face as sons and fathers here on earth can behold each other. We then partook, in a measure, of his glory, and were acquainted with the glory and power of his kingdom. We were present with him in the grand and magnificent work of creation, and we [77] saw and rejoiced in his handiwork. We sang praises in the presence of our Father and God; before we had tabernacles of flesh and bones.

* * * * *

 

John Taylor: (JD 20:305)

Such was the wickedness and corruptions of men in the early ages that it was necessary that God should sweep the face of the earth by a flood, in order that men might be deprived of their power to do evil.

I have heard some people say that they thought it was very hard for God to do such a thing. I think it would have been very cruel on his part if he had not done it. Why? Because man is a dual being, associated with time and eternity, being in possession of a spirit as well as a body; and as God is the God and Father of the spirits of all flesh that ever did exist or will have a being on the earth, it was necessary under certain circumstances, that he should operate in his judgment upon the wicked when ever they should become as corrupt as they did at that time. Why so? For God is the God and Father of the spirits of all flesh, and all flesh at that time had corrupted itself. And would it be just for those unborn spirits to have to come and inhabit bodies of those unclean and corrupt people and have to suffer the judgments of God? No, it was not just; and it would be very reasonable for them to say, “Father, look at that world of people; see their crimes, their degradation, their iniquity, their theft and robbery, their murders and whoredoms and every kind of evil; they have left the good and have gone to the bad, and the imaginations and thoughts of their hearts are evil; Father, is it proper that we should have to go there and inhabit such low, fallen, degraded bodies as they possess, and thus not have a fair chance upon the earth?” “No,” says he, “it is not; and I will destroy them and raise up another people.” And hence, he destroyed them. (See also JD 24:291)

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[78] Franklin D. Richards: (JD 26:343)

Why, as soon as the Lord has established His Gospel and covenant, the spirits of the other world are seeking to come and dwell among us; they desire a parentage among the Saints of the living God, where they can be welcomed with filial love and not repulsed by foeticide, where they can be brought up in the fear of God, with a hope of returning pure to the Father’s presence, without being lost by bloodguiltiness or other crimes while in mortality.

How do you think the spirits contemplate the necessity of a birth in the nations of the earth where so much harlotry and whoredom exist? I tell you this very presumption of the country in which we live, that we shall not have those children to dwell in our midst and bear the name of Christ in the earth, is a presumption against the very heavens, and against those spirits of the just who are waiting to be made perfect through their sufferings in the flesh.

* * * * *

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:66)

The Lord has said, “Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.”

This is speaking of the spirits of men when they were created, or born in the spirit, not when they were dwelling in the spirit world, for one-third of them rebelled and were not innocent. When a child comes into this world, he is innocent as far as this mortal life is concerned, but children soon lose their innocence as they grow and come in contact with the world.

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[79]                              Chapter 7

 

DIFFERENT GRADES OF INTELLIGENCE

In the pre-mortal life, spiritual children of God were of many different grades of intelligence. There were more classifications and differences then than we are familiar with here and now. Some were very wicked; others were noble. But the whole spiritual family had different desires, likes and dislikes, just as they do when they arrive and live on earth.

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:58-59)

God gave his children their free agency even in the spirit world, by which the individual spirits had the privilege, just as men have here, of choosing the good and rejecting the evil, or partaking of the evil to suffer the consequences of their sins. Because of this, some even there were more faithful than others in keeping the commandments of the Lord. Some were of greater intelligence than others, as we find it here, and were honored accordingly. …

The spirits of men had their free agency; some were greater than others, and from among them the Father called and foreordained his prophets and rulers. Jeremiah and Abraham were two of them. … The spirits of men were not equal. They may have had an equal start, and we know they were all innocent in the beginning; but the right of free agency which was given to them enabled some to outstrip others, and thus, through the eons of immortal existence, to become more intelligent, more faithful, for they were free to act for themselves, to think for themselves, to receive the truth or rebel against it.

* * * * *

 

[80] Joseph Smith: (TPJS, p. 354)

The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.

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Brigham Young: (JD 4:268-269)

Can any man tell the variety of the spirits there are? No, he cannot even tell the variety that there is in the portion of his dominions in which God has placed us, on this earth upon which we live, for we can see an endless variety on this little spot, which is nothing but a garden spot in comparison to the rest of the kingdoms of our God. Again, you may observe the people, and you will see an endless variety of disposition, and an endless variety of physiognomy. Bring the millions of faces before you, and where can you find two faces precisely alike in every point? Where can you find two human beings precisely alike in the organization of their bodies with the spirits? Where can you point out two precisely alike in every particular in their temperaments and dispositions? Where can you find two who are so operated upon precisely alike by a superior power that their lives, their actions, their feelings, and all pertaining to human life are alike? I conclude that there is as great a variety in the spiritual as there is in the temporal world, and I think that I am just in my conclusion.

You will see people possessed of different spirits; but I will say to you what I have heretofore frequently said, [81] and what brother Joseph Smith has said, and what the Scripture teaches, your spirits when they came to take tabernacles were pure and holy, and prepared to receive knowledge, wisdom, and instruction, and to be taught while in the flesh; so that every son and daughter of Adam, if they would apply their minds to wisdom, and magnify their callings and improve upon every grace and means given them, would have tickets for the boxes, to use brother Hyde’s figure, instead of going into the pit. There is no spirit but what was pure and holy when it came here from the celestial world. There is no spirit among the human family that was begotten in hell; none that were begotten by angels, or by an inferior being. They were not produced by any being less than our Father in heaven. He is the Father of our spirits; and if we could know, understand, and do His will, every soul would be prepared to return back into His presence. And when they get there, they would see that they had formerly lived there for ages, that they had previously been acquainted with every nook and corner, with the palaces, walks, and gardens; and they would embrace their Father, and He would embrace them and say, “My son, my daughter, I have you again;” and the child would say, “O my Father, my Father, I am here again.”

These are the facts in the case, and there are none ticketed for the pit, unless they fill up that ticket themselves through their own misconduct. Are all spirits endowed alike? No, not by any means. Will all be equal in the celestial kingdom? By no means. Some spirits are more noble than others; some are capable of receiving more than others. There is the same variety in the spirit world that you behold here, yet they are of the same parentage, of one Father, one God, to say nothing of who He is. They are all of one parentage, though there is a difference in their capacities and nobility, and each one will be called to fill the station for which he is organized, and which he can fill.

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[82] Parley P. Pratt: (JD 1:257-260)

In the first place, if all men were created alike, if all had the same degree of intelligence and purity of disposition, all would be equal. But, notwithstanding the declaration of American sages, and of the fathers of our country, to the contrary, it is a fact that all beings are not equal in their intellectual capacity, in their dispositions, and in the gifts and callings of God. It is a fact that some beings are more intelligent than others, and some are endowed with abilities or gifts which others do not possess.

In organizing and peopling the worlds, it was found necessary to place among the inhabitants some superior intelligences, who were capacitated to teach, to rule, and preside among other intelligences. In short, a variety of gifts, and adaptations to the different arts, sciences, and occupations, was as necessary as the uses and benefits arising therefrom have proved to be. Hence one intelligence is peculiarly adapted to one department of usefulness, and another to another. We read much in the Bible in relation to a choice or election, on the part of Deity, towards intelligences in His government on earth, whereby some were chosen to fill stations very different from others. And this election not only affected the individuals thus chosen, but their posterity for long generations, or even forever.

It may be inquired where this election first originated, and upon what principle a just and impartial God exercises the elective franchise. We will go back to the earliest knowledge we have of the existence of intelligences. We learn from the writings of Abraham and others, and from modern revelation, that the intelligences that now inhabit these tabernacles of earth were living, active intelligences in yonder world, while the particles of matter which now compose our outward bodies were yet mingled with their native element; that then our embodied spirits lived, moved, conversed, and exercised an agency. All intelligences which exist possess a degree of independence in their own sphere. For instance, the bee can [83] go at will in search of honey, or remain in the hive. It can visit one flower or another, as independent in its own sphere as God is in His. We find a degree of independence in everything which possesses any degree of intelligence; that thinks, moves, or acts: because the very principle of voluntary action implies an independent will to direct such action.

Among the intelligences which existed in the beginning, some were more intelligent than others, or, in other words, more noble; and God said to Abraham, “These I will make my rulers!” God said unto Abraham, “Thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.”

Noble! Does He use the word noble? Yes; the word noble, or that which signified it, was used in conversation between God and Abraham, and applied to superior intelligences on earth, and which had pre-existed in the heavens.

I am aware that the term is greatly abused, in Europe and elsewhere, being applied to those titled, and to those who inherit certain titles and estates, whether they are wise men or fools, virtuous or vicious. A man may even be an idiot, a drunkard, an adulterer, or a murderer, and still be called a nobleman by the world. And all this because his ancestor, for some worthy action, or perhaps for being skilled in murder and robbery, under the false glare of “military glory”, obtained a title, and the possession of a large estate, from which he had helped to drive the rightful occupant.

Now the Lord did not predicate His principle of election or nobility upon such an unequal, unjust, and useless order of things. When He speaks of nobility, He simply means an election made, and an office or a title conferred, on the principle of superiority of intellect, or nobleness of action, or of capacity to act. And when this election, with its titles, dignities, and estates, includes the unborn posterity of a chosen man, as in the case of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it is with a view of the noble spirits of the eternal world coming through their lineage, and being taught in the commandments of God. Hence the Prophets, Kings, Priests, Patriarchs, Apostles, and even [84] Jesus Christ, were included in the election of Abraham, and of his seed, as manifested to him in an eternal covenant.

Although some eternal intelligences may be superior to others, and although some are more noble, and consequently are elected to fill certain useful and necessary offices for the good of others, yet the greater and the less may both be innocent, and both be justified, and be useful, each in their own capacity; if each magnify their own calling, and act in their own capacity, it is all right.

It may be inquired, why God made one unequal to another, or inferior in intellect or capacity. To which I reply, that He did not create their intelligence at all. It never was created, being an inherent attribute of the eternal element called spirit, which element composes each individual spirit, and which element exists in an infinitude of degrees in the scale of intellect, in all the varieties manifested in the eternal God, and thence to the lowest agent, which acts by its own will.

It is a fixed law of nature that the higher intelligence presides over, or has more or less influence over, or control of, that which is less.

The Lord, in surveying the eternal intelligences which stood before Him, found some more noble or intellectual than others, who were equally innocent. This being so, He exercised the elective franchise upon wise principles, and, like a good and kind father among his children, He chose those for rulers who were most capable of benefiting the residue. Among these was our noble ancestor, Abraham. * * *

If we were like the people before the flood, full of violence and oppression; or if we, like the Sodomites or Canaanites, were full of all manner of lawless abominations, holding promiscuous intercourse with the other sex, and stooping to a level with the brute creation, and predisposing our children, by every means in our power, to be fully given to strange and unnatural lusts, appetites, and passions, would it not be a mercy to cut us off, root and branch, add thus put an end to our increase upon the earth? You will all say it would. The spirits in heaven [85] would thank God for preventing them from being born into the world under such circumstances. Would not the spirits in heaven rejoice in the covenant and blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in relation to the multiplying of their seed, and in every additional wife which God gave to them as a means of multiplying? Yes, they would; for they could say–“Now there is an opportunity for us to take bodies in the lineage of a noble race, and to be educated in the true science of life, and in the commandments of God.” O what an unspeakable contrast between being a child of Sodom, and a child of Abraham!

Now, Abraham, by his former superiority of intelligence and nobility, by his former election before the world was, and by conducting himself in this world so as to obtain the renewal of the same according to the flesh, brought upon his posterity, as well as upon himself, that which will influence them more or less to the remotest generations of time, and in eternity.

Paul, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, when speaking upon this subject, testifies that the children of Israel differ in every way from the Gentiles, for to them, says he, pertains the election, the covenants, the promises, the service of God, the adoption, the glory, the giving of the law, and the coming of Christ in the flesh. * * *

Here I would inquire, if it is anything inconsistent, or derogatory to the character of a good or impartial father, who loves all his children, for him to elect or appoint one of them to fulfil a certain purpose or calling, and another to fulfil another useful calling? Is it anything strange for one person to be stronger than another, for one person to serve another, or for one person to have a more numerous posterity than another? Is it anything strange or unrighteous for one person to be a farmer, a wine-dresser, or a builder, and another a teacher, a governor, or a minister of justice and equity? What is more natural, more useful, or just, than for a father who discovers the several abilities or adaptations of his children, to appoint them their several callings or occupations?

God did not say that Jacob should be saved in the kingdom of God, and Esau be doomed to eternal hell, without any regard to their deeds; but He simply said that two [86] distinct nations, widely differing, should spring from them, and one should be stronger than the other, and the elder should serve the younger. If one nation is stronger than the other, it can assist to defend the other. If the one nation serves the other, it will have a claim on a just remuneration for services rendered. If one inherits a blessing or Priesthood, through which all nations shall be blessed, surely the nation which is composed of his brother’s children will have an early claim on salvation through this ministry. I should esteem it a great privilege if, while I was serving my brother, and we were both partaking of the fruits of my labors, he should be elected to a Priesthood, through the ministry of which myself and all my posterity, as well as his own, might be taught, exalted, and eternally saved. By our mutual labors, then, we could be mutually benefited in time and in eternity.

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[87]                              Chapter 8

 

LUCIFER AND THE EVIL SPIRITS

Among the great multitude of God’s spirit children in that pre-mortal life, some turned to apostasy and rebellion. The leader of the rebellion was Lucifer (the light bearer) who fell to become Satan (the prince of darkness). With him, a multitude of spirits also loved the darkness more than light. Their numbers were legion and their influence is still very evident on the earth.

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation l:64-66)

When the plan of redemption was presented and Jesus was chosen to be the Redeemer of the world, some rebelled. They were not willing to accept him as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”… In this great rebellion in heaven, Lucifer, or Satan, a son of the morning, and one-third of the hosts thereof were cast out into the earth because Lucifer sought to destroy the free agency of man and the one-third of the spirits sided with him. He sought the throne of God, and put forth his plan in boldness in that great council, declaring that he would save all, that not one soul should be lost, provided God would give him the glory and the honor. When his plan was rejected for a better one, he rebelled and said, as Isaiah states the case: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, . . . I will be like the Most High.”

If there had been no free agency, there could have been no rebellion in heaven; but what would man amount to without this free agency? He would be no better than a mechanical contrivance. He could not have acted for himself, but in all things would have been acted upon, and [88] hence unable to have received a reward for meritorious conduct. He would have been an automaton; could have had no happiness nor misery, “neither sense nor insensibility,” and such could hardly be called existence. Under such conditions there could have been no purpose in our creation.

The punishment of Satan and the third of the host of heaven who followed him, was that they were denied the privilege of being born into this world and receiving mortal bodies. They did not keep their first estate and were denied the opportunity of eternal progression. The Lord cast them out into the earth, where they became the tempters of mankind–the devil and his angels. “And it must needs be,” the Lord has said, “that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter, they could not know the sweet.”

At times these fallen spirits steal possession of the bodies of men and women, overpowering the spirit who has rightful ownership. They realize what they have lost and are willing, when opportunity is given them, of possessing bodies of lower animals, so anxious are they to be clothed with flesh even for a season. On one occasion a legion of these evil spirits, when cast out by the Lord, asked the privilege of entering the bodies of a herd of swine. Out of Mary Magdalene the Lord cast seven devils. These evil spirits know the Lord from the knowledge and experience they obtained in the heavens before their banishment for rebellion. They called him by name when he disturbed them in their stolen habitations, saying: “Thou art Christ the Son of God, … for they knew that he was Christ.”

There were no neutrals in the war in heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body.

* * * * *

 

[89] Orson Pratt: (JD 13:62-63)

According to the history that is given of this event, a general council was held in Heaven about the time of the creation of this earth. In that council there was a personage called an angel, who stood in authority in the presence of God; and when the question was asked, “Who shall go forth and redeem mankind?” Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, this angel who stood in the presence of God, answered and said, “Here am I, send me; I will go forth and redeem all mankind, that not one soul shall be lost.” But the only begotten Son of the Father, who was with the Father from the beginning, replied and said, “Father, Thy will be done, and the glory be Thine for ever.” And here a rebellion rose up between Satan, the Son of the Morning, and the Son of the living God, as to the redemption of mankind. One sought to destroy the plan or God and the agency that the Lord intended to give to intelligent beings, and to redeem them whether they would be redeemed or not; and because he considered that his plan was so good before the heavens, and so much superior to the plan that God had devised, said he, “Surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor, which is the power of God.” That is, he sought to obtain the throne of the Almighty, and to carry out his own purposes in preference to yielding to the purposes and power of the Almighty. This rebellion became so great, and the influence of it spread so rapidly among the heavenly host, that one-third part of the heavenly throng, I mean the spirits, rebelled against God and followed the evil design and purpose of this angel. No doubt some of them thought that they could accomplish their design; for they had not a knowledge of the future designs and purposes of God, only in a small degree, and consequently they supposed that their plan was better than that of the Almighty; and in this great rebellion the Lord caused Satan, or Lucifer, the son of the Morning, and those who followed him, to be cast out of Heaven.

* * * * *

 

[90] Brigham Young: (JD 5:54-55)

In regard to the battle in heaven, that Brother Truman O. Angell referred to, how much of a battle it was I have forgotten. I cannot relate the principal circumstances, it is so long since it happened; but I do not think it lasted very long; for when Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, claimed the privilege of having the control of this earth, and redeeming it, a contention arose; but I do not think it took long to cast down one-third of the hosts of heaven, as it is written in the Bible. But let me tell you that it was one-third part of the spirits who were prepared to take tabernacles upon this earth, and who rebelled against the other two-thirds of the heavenly host; and they were cast down to this world. It is written that they were cast down to the earth. They were cast down to this globe–to this terra firma that you and I walk upon, and whose atmosphere we breathe. One-third part of the spirits that were prepared for this earth rebelled against Jesus Christ, and were cast down to the earth, and they have been opposed to him from that day to this, with Lucifer at their head. He is their general–Lucifer, the Son of the Morning. He was once a brilliant and influential character in heaven, and we will know more about him hereafter.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 16:318)

All men, male and female, that ever have lived, or that ever will live on this earth, had a pre-existence before the formation of the earth commenced; and during our pre-existence in the heavens, the earth was under going this formation.

After man and woman were placed in the Garden of Eden, we find that they were tempted. By whom? By a being or beings who once dwelt in the presence of God, in his celestial kingdom. They once were angels of light and [91] truth, having authority in the presence of the Father. But they rebelled against God; and one of those angels, named Lucifer, when they were talking over the great plan of redemption and salvation for the inhabitants of the future creation, proposed a plan by which he would redeem all mankind, that not one soul should be lost. But his plan was rejected, because it destroyed the agency of man, being contrary to God’s plan; for he desires that all intelligent beings shall be free in the exercise of their agency. Because his plan was rejected, Lucifer rebelled, and a third part of the hosts of heaven joined him, and they were all cast down, and it was this being who entered into a beast, called a serpent, and tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, and that was the beginning of his power on this earth.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 19:316)

It was called their first estate. They were agents there just as much as you and I are here. They could obey the law that was given to them, or they could disobey that law. I have already alluded to a third part of the great family, who did not keep their first estate. What became of them? They were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels. Jude says they were reserved in chains of darkness, until the judgment at the great day. That was their doom; their transgressions were so great–sinning against God the Father, whom they could behold, and against the person of his Son, whom they could also see–disobeying the most sacred of all laws–seeking to dethrone the Almighty, and to take the power from that Being who had begotten them, into their own hands. For this they were thrust down, and were called Perdition, and the heavens wept over them.

* * * * *

 

[92] Orson Pratt: (JD 21:286-288)

. . . Moses received many communications, by visions and by revelation, before he was sent from the land of Midian to visit his brethren who were in bondage in Egypt. He beheld, in these visions, many great and important events, some of which took place in the spirit world. Among other things which he saw was the pre-existence of the children of men, and also the rebellion that took place among the great family of spirits before the world was made; and in this vision the Lord thus speaks to him:

“And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying, that Satan whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me saying: Behold I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost; and surely I will do it. Wherefore, give me thine honor. But, behold, my beloved Son, which was my beloved and chosen from the beginning, said unto me, Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also that I should give unto him mine own power, by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down, and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive, and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.

The short history that is here given, by new revelation to Joseph the Prophet, contains a vast amount of information for so few words. It shows the origin of evil, pertaining to the inhabitants of this creation. I do not suppose that this was the first origin of evil. We do not consider that this creation on which we dwell was the first one that was made. We do not consider that the rebellion which took place in heaven prior to this creation was the first rebellion that had ever existed. We do not consider that those beings who rebelled were the first ones that ever had their agency; but we believe that God has always been at work, from all eternity; and that the [93] creations which he has made are innumerable unto men. No man is capable of conceiving of the number. And those creations were made to be inhabited by rational, intelligent beings, having their agency. But this seems to be the origin of evil so far as the inhabitants intended for this earth, and who were then living in heaven, were concerned. They had their agency; and when I speak of the inhabitants that dwell in heaven, pertaining to this creation, I mean the spirits of men and women. I have no reference to the mortal tabernacles which we have received here, but I have reference to those beings who dwell within these tabernacles, who are intelligent, who have their agency, who had a pre-existence, who lived before the world was made. The inhabitants of heaven, who were selected to come on this creation, were agents, just as much as we are. They had a law given to them, just as much as we have. They had penalties affixed to that law, just the same as we have. They could keep that law given to them in heaven, just as well as we could keep a law given to us. They could rebel against that law, because of their agency, the same as we rebel against the laws of heaven.

We have an account given here of a personage called Satan, who stood up in heaven, being an angel of light, an holy angel, prior to that time–who stood up before the Father and the Son, and made a proposition concerning the new creation that was to be made. “Behold,” said he to the Father, “send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” This was the language, according to this revelation which I have just read, made use of by this angel who stood in the presence of God. But the Only Begotten of the Father, the Firstborn of this great and numerous family in heaven, said unto his Father: “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” Then we have an account that the Lord, because Satan thus transgressed, and because he sought to destroy the agency of man, and to redeem all mankind, that not a soul should be lost, was displeased with the proposition. And why should he not be? An agency was [94] given to all intelligent beings; and without a proper agency, intelligent beings could not receive glory and honor, and a reward and a fullness of happiness in the celestial kingdom. There must be an agency wherever intelligence exists, and without agency no intelligent beings could exist; and because Satan sought to destroy this, and to frustrate the great and eternal plan of Jehovah, the Lord was displeased with him. He did not repent of his rebellion, nor of the wicked proposition; but he sought to turn away the family of heaven–the family of spirits that were in the presence of God–he sought to turn them away and convert them to his plan. But he did not succeed. He did succeed in leading away about one-third part of that great family of spirits, because of their agency. They hearkened to his proposition; they thought it would be a very great and important thing to destroy the agency of man in the future creation that was about to be made, and to redeem them all in their sins, and consequently they joined with this rebellious character; hence came the fallen angels. What became of them? They were thrust down from the presence of God and the Lamb after this creation was made, and they were permitted to dwell in this creation.

* * * * *

 

 

[95]                              Chapter 9

 

COVENANTS AND PROMISES IN THE PRE-EXISTENCE

In the pre-mortal life, man was given his free agency to choose good or evil, to learn or to be idle. The plan of salvation was taught and knowledge of his station in mortality was revealed. Many spirits made certain covenants and promises, and some were selected (foreordained) to perform a certain mission on earth.

 

Bruce R. McConkie: (Mormon Doctrine pp. 163-64)

There were many meetings, conferences, councils, and schooling sessions held among the Gods and their spirit offspring in pre-existence. Among other things, at these various assemblages, plans were made for the creation and peopling of this earth and for the redemption and salvation of the offspring of Deity. The spirit children of the Father were then taught the terms and conditions of the plan of salvation and were given opportunity to accept or reject the Father’s proposals.

 

Robert Sloan: (Mill. Star 1907, 69:225 & 226)

Latter-day Saints believe in a pre-existent state–in a condition where the spirits of men and women hunger to find bodies that they may go through this life sphere and so pass to the glory beyond. That is why the having of children is recognized as such a vital principle by devout “Mormons.” It is the duty of those blessed with bodies to provide means by which the waiting and longing spirits in the pre-earthly existence may enter tabernacles of flesh here and so enjoy a probationary period on this earth. * * *

[96]         Only by the obedience of all that live on this earth to a natural law–by uniting and multiplying, as God has directed–may these unembodied spirits be given the coveted and indispensable opportunity of life here. Therefore, all beings refusing to become parents not only defeat the fundamental purpose of their own creation, but they wrong the spirits that can look only to them for the opportunity of having bodies on this earth, with its tears and hopes, fears and opportunities, and for such a fatal omission and negligence they must answer the all-wise Creator for the irreparable wrong done themselves and others. * * *

The doctrine of pre-existence involves still another, with the woof and fibre of which it is so inseparably interwoven in the Latter-day Saints’ theology as to be an essential and indispensable factor. This is the absolute right of election. No spirit is compelled to come to this earth. Given the opportunity (and coming at all) it does so of its own volition, dependent only on the opportunity offered by those already living on the earth to provide a body which it may inhabit. One of the cardinal doctrines of the Church is, therefore, the absolute free agency of man–the right of election, of individual responsibility. Every “Mormon” missionary who has preached among peoples prone to lean upon their ministers for faith know this to be true.

 

Orson Hyde: (JD 7:314-315)

How long before we took our departure from the realms of bliss to find tabernacles in flesh is unknown to us. Suffice it to say that we were sent here. We came willingly: the requirement of our heavenly Father and our anxiety to take bodies brought us here. We might be sent on a mission to some foreign country, and feel under obligation to go, not only from respect to the moral condition of the people to whom we are sent, but also out of respect to the authority which required the service at our hands. But if we were to consult our own feelings, and be allowed our choice to go or stay with equal approval, [97] we might prefer to remain at home. But we understood things better there than we do in this lower world. Here, in this world, Paul says, “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope” <of return>. The creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Then, if it be true that we entered into a covenant with the powers celestial, before we left our former homes, that we would come here and obey the voice of the Lord, through whomsoever he might speak, these powers are witnesses of the covenant into which we entered; and it is not impossible that we signed the articles thereof with our own hands–which articles may be retained in the archives above, to be presented to us when we rise from the dead, and be judged out of our own mouths, according to that which is written in the books.

We are situated here in various relations, not only to the servants of God that are given us to guide our energies, but we also stand in various relations to one another, as husband and wife, parent and child–which relations are branches of that everlasting covenant, because they are legitimate and ordained of God. Did we covenant and agree that we would be subject to the authorities of heaven placed over us? What do you think about it? Do you think we plighted our faith and came here with that view and under that covenant? And, in this respect, is the whole world on the same footing? Yes, verily: “He that receiveth you receiveth me.”

The veil is thick between us and the country whence we came. We cannot see clearly–we cannot clearly comprehend–we have forgotten! For instance, when we leave our homes on earth for a long time, and roam abroad in foreign lands, we forget many of the little incidents of our nativity, barely recollecting and being impressed that we have a home in some far-off country, while in others the thought is entirely obliterated from their memory, and is to them as though such things had never existed. But our forgetfulness cannot alter the facts.

[98]         Did we covenant to be subject to the authority of God in all the different relations of life–that we would be loyal to the legitimate powers that emanate from God? I have been led to think that such is the truth. Something whispers these things to me in this light. Again, for instance, the husband and wife unite their destinies under the seal of this everlasting covenant, for this covenant covers all the just transactions of the legitimate authorities and powers that be on earth. We therefore regard marriage as a branch of the everlasting covenant.

What did we agree to before we came here? If to anything, I suppose the very same things we agreed to since we did come here, that are legitimate and proper. The husband agreed to be a faithful servant of God, to do his duty to all that were placed under his charge. The wife, on her part, covenants that she will be a faithful and devoted wife, and will obey her husband in the Lord in all things. If this were so, it is all right; for it is just as we are taught on the earth.

But the question is, Did we subscribe to any such doctrine as this on the start? I will not say that we did; yet I have had such thoughts, and they whisper strongly in my heart.

Children agreed to obey their parents, as parents agreed to obey their superiors in the kingdom of God; and parents were brought under obligation to train their children in the way they should go. This is written in the Bible, if nowhere else.

* * * * *

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:66-68)

We came into this world to die. That was understood before we came here. It is part of the plan, all discussed and arranged long before men were placed upon the earth. When Adam was sent into this world, it was with the understanding that he would violate a law, transgress a law, in order to bring to pass this mortal condition which we find ourselves in today. There are two purposes for life–[99]one, to gain experience that could not be obtained in any other way, and the other, to obtain these tabernacles of flesh and bones. Both of these purposes are vital to the existence of man.

In the spirit world we saw our Father. We dwelt in his presence. He tells us in one of these revelations that we saw him, and if we are faithful, we will have the privilege of seeing him again; but we beheld a vast difference between him and us. We were spirits. He was a spirit clothed with a glorious body–an immortal body. He had become a soul according to the definition which he himself has given, that is, a soul is the spirit and body united. We noted the difference, and naturally wanted to become like him.

We were informed that the earth would be prepared where we might have the privilege of going and sojourning for a season, there to obtain bodies, tangible bodies of flesh and bones, but in obtaining these bodies we would have to pass through all the vicissitudes of mortality. We would have to come in contact with pain, with sorrow, with suffering, with sin, as well as with pleasures which we find in the mortal life. The whole plan was laid before us, and we shouted for joy because this opportunity, this great opportunity, was going to be presented to us, of receiving tabernacles.

When the time arrived for us to be advanced in the scale of our existence and pass through this mundane probation, councils were held and the spirit children were instructed in matters pertaining to conditions in mortal life, and the reason for such an existence. In the former life we were spirits. In order that we should advance and eventually gain the goal of perfection, it was made known that we would receive tabernacles of flesh and bones and have to pass through mortality where we would be tried and proved to see if we, by trial, would prepare ourselves for exaltation. We were made to realize, in the presence of our glorious Father, who had a tangible body of flesh and bones which shone like the sun, that we were, as spirits, far inferior in our station to him.

[100] We were instructed that by faithfulness in the mortal life which was promised us, we also should, after passing through trials and tribulation, obtain bodies that would also be glorious, just like our Father’s. We were duly informed that in this mortal life we would have to walk by faith. Previously we had walked by sight, but now was to come a period of trial to see if by faith we would be true to every covenant and commandment our Father required at our hands. We were informed that many would fail. Those who rebelled against the light which would be revealed to them should be deprived of exaltation. They could not come back to dwell in the presence of God, but would have to take a place in some other sphere where they would be blessed according to their works, and likewise restricted in their privileges.

* * * * *

 

Edward Anderson: (Contributor 4:153)

Who knows but those who love on earth

Once loved in Heav’n, and promised there:

Together fell that they might rise,

Each other’s pains and triumphs share?

Give answer thou, my soul, and say:

I left the world of Heav’nly bliss,

The friends I loved to call my own,

To suffer all the ills of this.

Because I saw the joys I had

Compared not with what was to gain.

Because I hoped for greater things,

I fell to rise, I’ll die to reign.

* * * * *

 

 

[101]                             Chapter 10

 

FOREORDINATION AND PREDESTINATION

The Latter-day Saints believe in both foreordination and predestination, but with specific conditions and limitations.

 

 

Foreordination

In the pre-existent world of spirits, some were valiant for the Gospel, free agency and the cause of Christ. From among these, the Lord chose His leaders and foreordained them to responsible positions with appointments, commissions, missions, and callings. They were ordained to fulfill these obligations under the direction of Christ.

Noah was foreordained to replenish the earth with His righteous children. Jacob was ordained to become the patriarch over the House of Israel. Moses was foreordained to lead the children of Israel. Enoch, Abraham, John the Baptist, Joseph Smith, and even the Savior Himself were all foreordained to specific missions on earth during their mortality.

 

Predestination

Many sectarians believe that the doctrine of predestination means that they have been predetermined to go to heaven or hell, no matter what they do in mortality. They have no free agency in the matter. The Latter-day Saints believe this is a false doctrine regarding salvation. However, there are a few things that are predestined.

 

[102] Men who have been foreordained to specific missions on earth were then predestined to the place, time and circumstances of their birth–to enable them to accomplish these assignments. This is the same as the Elders of the Church being ordained and given the commission as missionaries for the LDS Church. They receive their call based on their free agency, valiancy and willingness to serve; they are then given a destination and specific time to fulfill that mission. Hence, their ordination is the result of their own faithfulness and free agency, but the time and place of their mission is predestined or appointed by someone else.

Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Joseph Smith, etc., all became leaders through their own choice and because of their valiancy, but Christ predestined the time, place and circumstances for them on the earth.

The Latter-day Saints do not believe that everything that happens on earth is predestined. All the prophets who were foreordained to their mission and predestined to their time and place on earth could still use their free agency and refuse that appointment.

Enoch, Moses, Jeremiah, Jonah, and many other prophets initially hesitated when called by the Lord in mortality to perform a certain mission–not remembering what had gone on in the Pre-existence. They exercised their free agency in accepting or rejecting their mission. But here’s where foreknowledge comes into the picture, as the Lord knows these individuals well enough to know what they will do.

 

Foreknowledge

“Foreknowledge and foreordination are two distinct principles,” said Brigham Young. God and Christ foreknew who would and would not be valiant for the Gospel. For example, God knew that Cain would apostatize, yet he was given his free agency and was forewarned. But he was not foreordained nor predestined to kill his brother Abel.

 

[103] God knew that Pharaoh would not be converted by His miracles through Moses, but he warned him anyway of the consequences of remaining hard-hearted and refusing to let the children of Israel go. Pharaoh was given his free agency to refuse if he wanted, or to allow them to go. He was predestined to be the Pharaoh of Egypt at that time, but not predestined to reject God’s commands.

God had the foreknowledge that Judas “was a devil from the beginning,” and even knew that he would be a traitor, but He did not force him by predestination, without free agency, to betray Christ. The betrayal, the pieces of silver and the ignominious death of Judas were all foretold by Zechariah; yet Judas had the free agency to repent before he did the deed.

God foreknows the destiny of the whole world. Both Adam and Moses prophesied the future of this earth. (See Moses 1:27-28 and 5:10)

Yet God allows men their free agency here just as He did in the Pre-Existence. As Joseph Fielding Smith said:

The Lord has given to man his agency. That is a divine principle–it is inherent, born with us. We have it because the Lord gave it to us in the spirit world. It is the only principle upon which exaltation can come. It is the only principle upon which rewards can be given in righteousness. Satan’s plan in the beginning was to compel. He said he would save all men and not one soul should be lost. He would do it if the Father would give him the honor and the glory. But who wants salvation when it comes through compulsion, if we have not the power within ourselves to choose and to act according to the dictates of conscience? What would salvation mean to you if you were compelled? And so, that great gift of agency has been given to [104] us. By it we may climb to the heights, we may enter the kingdom of God to sit on the throne and be exalted as sons and daughters of God, but we must be obedient. (Doctrines of Salvation 1:70)

The quotations in the remainder of this chapter are divided into two sections: Foreordination and Predestination.

 

FOREORDINATION

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:61)

Every soul coming into this world came here with the promise that through obedience he would receive the blessings of salvation. No person was foreordained or appointed to sin or to perform a mission of evil. No person is ever predestined to salvation or damnation. Every person has free agency. Cain was promised by the Lord that if he would do well, he would be accepted. Judas had his agency and acted upon it; no pressure was brought to bear on him to cause him to betray the Lord, but he was led by Lucifer. If men were appointed to sin and betray their brethren, then justice could not demand that they be punished for sin and betrayal when they are guilty.

* * * * *

 

Brigham Young: (JD 6:291)

Foreordination, for instance, and free grace are both true doctrines; but they must be properly coupled together and correctly classified, so as to produce harmony between these two apparently opposite doctrines.

* * * * *

 

[105] Bruce R. McConkie: (Mormon Doctrine, p. 590)

The pre-existent life was thus a period–undoubtedly an infinitely long one–of probation, progression, and schooling. The spirit hosts were taught and given experiences in various administrative capacities. Some so exercised their agency and so conformed to law as to become “noble and great”; these were foreordained before their mortal births to perform great missions for the Lord in this life. (see Abraham 3:22-28.)

* * * * *

 

Brigham Young: (JD 8:229)

Paul gloried in the cross of Christ. Previous to that he was a poor, miserable, vain, wicked, abominable, corrupt creature, brought up as a servant in Gamaliel’s house, where they despised God and every God-like principle. He held the clothes of the men that stoned Stephen to death, and consented to his death. The Lord appeared to him when he was on a mission to persecute his followers, and told him that he was a chosen vessel for the Lord to show forth, through him, his power. Paul gloried in the cross of Christ. He might have said that he gloried in having the privilege of paying the debt that he had contracted by his previous mean and evil treatment toward the Saints and Jesus Christ when he was upon the earth. He derided them, stoned them, laughed them to scorn, threw sticks after them in the streets, spat upon them, and was ready to raise a mob and do anything that was mean to afflict the Saints and servants of God. The Lord says–“I will show you that I have had my eye upon you, from before the foundation of the world, to make you a chosen vessel to bear my name where I would not send a man who had never persecuted my Saints.” Were I to meet brother Paul, he would say–“Brother Brigham, I have not received at the hands of my enemies more than I deserved. And when you were talking about me on the stand, on such and such a day, your eye was opened to see the path I had walked in.”

[106] Do you not think that the Lord has his eye upon a great many? There is a passage of scripture that reads thus: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren,” etc. Whom did he not foreknow? I do not think there is anybody now on the earth, or that has lived before us, or that will come after us, but what he knew. He knew who would be his anointed; he has had his eye upon them all the time, as he had upon Moses, Pharaoh, Abraham, Melchisedec, and Noah, who was a chosen vessel to build the ark and save a remnant from the flood.

* * * * *

 

Brigham Young: (JD 11:253)

From the spirit and tenor <of> the ancient scriptures and revelations which we have received, it is plainly set forth that there are men preappointed to perform certain works in their lifetime, and bring to pass certain ends and purposes in the economy of heaven.

* * * * *

 

Jeremiah: (Jer. 1:4-5)

Then the word of the Lord came unto me <Jeremiah>, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

* * * * *

 

Abraham: (Abra. 3:22-25)

Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: [107] Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; . . .

* * * * *

 

Brigham Young: (JD 10:324)

I will here say that it is a mistaken idea, as entertained by the Calvinists, that God has decreed all things whatsoever that come to pass, for the volition of the creature is as free as air. You may inquire whether we believe in foreordination; we do, as strongly as any people in the world. We believe that Jesus was foreordained before the foundations of the world were built, and his mission was appointed him in eternity to be the Savior of the world, yet when he came in the flesh he was left free to choose or refuse to obey his Father. Had he refused to obey his Father, he would have become a son of perdition. We also are free to choose or refuse the principles of eternal life. God has decreed and foreordained many things that have come to pass, and he will continue to do so; but when he decrees great blessings upon a nation or upon an individual they are decreed upon certain conditions. When he decrees great plagues and overwhelming destructions upon nations or people, those decrees come to pass because those nations and people wilt not forsake their wickedness and turn unto the Lord. It was decreed that Nineveh should be destroyed in forty days, but the decree was stayed on the repentance of the inhabitants of Nineveh. My time is too limited to enter into this subject at length; I will content myself by saying that God rules and reigns, and has made all his children as free as himself, to choose the right or the wrong, and we shall then be judged according to our works.

* * * * *

 

[108] John Morgan: (JD 20:279)

Certain principles were advanced when Jesus was upon the earth. They were advanced by him and by his followers, the disciples, and those who believed in his mission. Prominent among these principles that were advanced was the principle that he advanced in regard to himself. He spoke of his having come from the Father; and Peter, in speaking of this matter in one of his epistles, says: “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world.” (see I Peter 1:19-20) Going further back into history, as we have it here in holy writ, we find that God had spoken to some of the prophets in times of old in regard to the same principle. Said he to Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)

* * * * *

 

Bruce R. McConkie: (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 290-292)

 

The mightiest and greatest spirits were foreordained to stand as prophets and spiritual leaders, giving to the people such portion of the Lord’s word as was designed for the day and age involved. Other spirits, such as those who laid the foundations of the American nation, were appointed beforehand to perform great works in political and government fields. In all this there is not the slightest hint of compulsion; persons foreordained to fill special missions in mortality are as abundantly endowed with free agency as are any other persons. By their foreordination the Lord merely gives them the opportunity to serve him and his purposes if they will choose to measure up to the standard he knows they are capable of attaining. (p. 290)

Mary, the mother of our Lord, was before named for her sacred mission (1 Ne. 11:18-20; Mosiah 3:8; Isa. 7:14),… (p. 291)

[109] The mission of Columbus to bring the American nations to the knowledge of the old world, and the Lord’s dealings with the Gentile nations which should inhabit the areas thus re-discovered, was all foreknown and foreordained. (1 Ne. 13) (p. 292)

* * * * *

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:184)

In the far distant past before the foundations of this earth were laid, a grand council was held in heaven. At that council plans were perfected and an organization formed for the government of this earth during its mortal probation. Our Eternal Father, knowing the end from the beginning, chose from among the spirits those to be his rulers and prophets to assist in carrying through his eternal purposes on this earth in relation to the final destiny of men.

In this grand council, Michael was chosen to come as the progenitor of the human family and to bring mortality into the world. Jesus Christ was chosen to come in the meridian of time to redeem man from the mortal state, and, on condition of repentance and faithfulness to the eternal plan, to extend redemption from individual sin. Abraham was appointed to become the “father of the faithful,” and the founder of the house of Israel. Moses was chosen to lead Israel from Egyptian bondage, and Joseph Smith to stand at the head of the greatest of all dispensations, that of the fulness of times.

Joseph Smith was chosen to stand at the head of the work of the Lord in the last days, and his work was assigned to him through the fore-knowledge of our Eternal Father in the eternities before he was born. He came in the spirit of Elias to prepare the way for the coming of our Lord. No prophet since the days of Adam, save, of course, our Redeemer, has been given a greater mission.

* * * * *

 

[110] Wilford Woodruff: (JD 21:317)

Joseph Smith was ordained before he came here, the same as Jeremiah was. Said the Lord unto him, “Before you were begotten I knew you,” etc.

So do I believe with regard to this people, so do I believe with regard to the apostles, the high priests, seventies and the elders of Israel bearing the holy priesthood, I believe they were ordained before they came here; and I believe the God of Israel has raised them up, and has watched over them from their youth, and has carried them through all the scenes of life both seen and unseen, and has prepared them as instruments in his hands to take this kingdom and bear it off. If this be so, what manner of men ought we to be? If anything under the heavens should humble men before the Lord and before one another, it should be the fact that we have been called of God.

* * * * *

 

Joseph Smith: (DHC 6:364 and TPJS, p. 365)

Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council. It is the testimony that I want that I am God’s servant, and this people His people.

* * * * *

 

Orson Hyde: (Orson Hyde, Missionary, Apostle, and Colonizer, by Howard H.                                    Barron, p. 163)

One morning in the middle of March as Orson sat deep in thought, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he began to write. He had been depressed because of the wiles of some men that had led off Saints after them instead of following the true prophets of God; in the [111] revelation given to Orson, the Lord explained that such deceivers were used to test the Saints; that a true Saint knew the voice of the Lord, but those who were not his people would follow a deceiver.

The revelation mentioned James J. Strang by name and said he was in league with the Devil to deceive and that he was foreordained to do so just as Judas was foreordained to betray Christ; the time would come when Strang and his followers would pay for their sins.

* * * * *

 

Elder J. M. Sjodahl: (from Talmage’s Articles of Faith, Appendix 10:2, pp.                                                                            490-491)

Foreordination and Foreknowledge–In a note to the author <Talmage>, Elder J.M. Sjodahl of the Church Historian’s Office, says: “The doctrine of foreordination, or election as it is also called, appears to me to be set forth in scripture for the purpose of showing us that God acts independently of human advice to bring about His objects and carry out His plans for the benefit of all. It gives us to understand that the success of the kingdom of Christ is absolutely secured, notwithstanding the unbelief and actual enmity of all adversaries. Foreordination takes into consideration repentance, faith, and obedience on the part of man, although unbelief and disobedience cannot prevent, but only retard, the divine plan. God is sovereign in His kingdom; that is the great truth taught as the doctrine of foreordination.

“The true relationship of foreknowledge to foreordination is difficult to explain. God foretells, through His prophets, for instance, the division of the kingdom of Solomon, the captivity of Israel, and the very place of the exile. Human reason would naturally conclude that if God saw that these things were to happen, then they had to happen, no matter what man would do. But history shows that they came about through the sins of the rulers and the people, and that the Lord warned them incessantly [112] against these sins, as if anxious to prevent the predictions from coming true. The very disobedience to the warnings became the immediate justification for the punishment predicted. Could the people have repented and averted the calamities predicted and foreseen? If so, how could they have been foreseen, except conditionally? Perhaps the history of Jonah and Nineveh, by showing that repentance averts disaster even when predicted, offers the only satisfactory answer to that question.”

* * * * *

 

Charles W. Penrose: (Mill. Star, 1907, 69:312-313)

There appears to be much difficulty in many minds to understand how God’s foreknowledge can be reconciled with the doctrine of man’s free agency. It is argued that if the acts of men and nations were foreseen by the Almighty, they must of necessity be foreordained; and if they were, then they would have to be, and everything would be fixed, fated and predetermined. A little clear reflection, it seems to us, would remove the difficulty and reconcile the imaginary conflict. It does not follow, because an act or event is seen by an individual or individuals, that either of them had anything to do with the matter except to behold it. It would be the same if the act or event were fore seen.

If a prophet of God foretells something that takes place after he utters the prediction, it is not to be inferred that what he foresaw was predetermined. Certainly he could not be held responsible for it, nor would it be reasonable to claim that his foresight was in any way the cause of the occurrence. On the same principle it would be irrational to assert that God caused that to occur which he foresaw would take place. The event would happen just the same if nobody saw it or foresaw it. Neither present sight nor foresight is the means of its happening. It has no effect upon it. It is simply beholding it no matter at what time, present or past, it is perceived. [113] To contend that a witness to a robbery, a murder, an accident or a catastrophe of any kind, was in any way the cause of that which he beheld, would be at once pronounced absurd. It would be no less ridiculous, therefore, to maintain that one who was able through foresight to describe the event was at all responsible for it, or that it had to occur or be done simply because he saw it beforehand.

It is assumed by some extremists that every act of every human being from the beginning of time to the end thereof was foreseen by the Almighty, and coupled with that idea is the doctrine of complete predestination which, of course, takes away human responsibility and human accountability and the justice of God’s judgment. Passing by the notion concerning the extent of divine prescience, which need not be discussed here, let it be admitted that, in a general way, the Eternal Father foresees the results of the acts of His children as individuals and communities. This would not of necessity imply that God predetermined those actions. His foresight would be quite compatible with the complete freedom of action on the part of all persons and nations. Their agency would not be interfered with in the slightest degree because their doings were seen or foreseen. * * *

As Christ came into the world at the appointed time for an appointed mission but was left free to fill it or refuse it, to obey or disobey the Father’s will, so others have been “raised up” in different ages and races for works needed at those times and places. All the movements of mankind are comprehended by Him who is eternal and who guides the outcome to accomplish the end He has in view. But He does not deprive any soul of his or her free agency, nor does His foreknowledge of what they will do determine that they shall perform it or make Him responsible for their works.

* * * * *

 

[114] Charles W. Penrose: (Mill. Star, 1885, 47:648-653)

The subjects of election, predestination and foreordination seem to perplex many enquiring minds. * * *

The foreknowledge of God does not in any way infringe upon the agency of man. The creature is just as free to make his choice and do good or evil, whether the Creator knew or did not know beforehand what the selection would be. Parents often tell children not to do things that are wrong, having the certain prescience that the wilful little ones will, nevertheless, be sure to disobey. But that foreknowledge does not compel or hinder the wrongful acts, nor do away with the necessity of forbidding the evil. We may be positive that persons of our acquaintance will take a given course, but that assurance does not affect their freedom of action. And our Father in heaven may know the end from the beginning, and may shape His plans with reference to the acts of men and nations, foreseen before committed, and thus the results of their doings may be in His control and all be made to subserve His designs and purposes, while the individuals themselves are left free to do good or evil, according to their own desires. * * *

Predestination and foreknowledge are different from each other. God may know beforehand what a man will do, without predetermining that he shall do it. It cannot be shown from reason or Scripture that the Almighty pre-arranged affairs so that persons should be compelled to do or refrain from doing anything affecting their salvation or condemnation. Men have been raised up at different periods for the purpose of performing works needful at those times to accomplish the designs of the Almighty, and they were chosen for those missions because of the Divine fore-knowledge. They were predestined to the place and time in which they lived and acted. Many were foreordained to their work. Jeremiah was informed by the Lord that he was known before his birth and foreordained to be a prophet. This, however, did not affect, in any way, his freedom of action to do right or wrong or take a course to secure or forfeit his salvation. All the great figures of [115] history, ancient and modern, sacred and profane, were predestinated and foreordained, according to the foreknowledge of God, to be born when and where they appeared in the world and under the circumstances that surrounded them, that they might be in positions to accomplish what the Creator foreknew they would be able to do in the necessities and emergencies that would arise. Yet they were free to act, and while accomplishing the work for which they were designed they could, of their own volition, take or depart from the course that would lead to their individual salvation. * * *

No man was ever foreordained to be saved or foredoomed to be damned, irrespective of his own acts springing from his own volition. But God has predetermined that all men shall be brought to account for their doings in mortality, because he has given them freedom of action and placed before them the good and the evil, and has foreordained the means by which redemption may come to all mankind, and glory and honor to those who strive for exaltation. He who is condemned will suffer the consequences of his own acts, and he who fails to gain a crown in the heavenly kingdom will lose that which he might have obtained if he had complied with the fixed conditions prepared from the foundation of the world.

The advocates of the fate theory and of the non-necessity of works to salvation, have to rely upon misunderstood passages in the writings of Paul. * * * But it will be seen, when Paul’s epistles are read carefully, that he both understood and taught the necessity of good works, and that the works which he declared to be non-essential to salvation were the deeds of the Mosaic law. That he did not believe, as some suppose, that men are predestined to salvation irrespective of their own actions, is clear from Romans ii, 6-11: “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: * * * It brings Paul into harmony with the other Apostles and all the inspired writers on the question of individual responsibility and salvation through good works rounded on faith, and proves that those who [116] imagine that Paul was a believer in the kind of election and predestination taught by Calvin and many modern divines have greatly misunderstood the position and the arguments of the great Apostle to the Gentiles.

If God has chosen from the foundation of the world a certain few to be saved, and condemned the rest to be damned, of course it does not matter what is done by either class so far as their eternal future is concerned. If the elect do ever so much evil, they must be saved through Christ; and if the non-elect perform ever so much good, they will be lost and go to the devil. Therefore preaching is vain, repentance is useless, there is nothing to strive for, all the exhortations to sinners and the labors of the Savior to destroy the works of Satan are useless, and if the devil “goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” he exhibits great folly, for he might as well wait till he gets them, seeing they are sure to fall to his lot, and the Apostle who warned them was as foolish as he, for what avail is the warning if their fate is foreordained? * * *

But the doctrines of foreknowledge, of election, of predestination, of foreordination are true. God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” (Acts xvii, 26) According to His foreknowledge and divine purposes, He predetermined where all the sons of men should dwell and where they should be brought forth. Some were designed to rule and some to serve. Some to work in one direction, others in another. The seed of Abraham for a peculiar mission; other races for different missions. Special individuals for special positions. But did He predetermine that some should be compelled to come to Him and be saved, and that others should be shut out from Him and be damned, irrespective of their own voluntary doings? No. * * *

The true doctrine of predestination cannot be fully understood apart from the doctrine of pre-existence…. Suffice it to say that God, in the beginning, looked around upon the myriads of spirits which He had created. And [117] among them were great and bright intelligences. “As one star differs from another star in glory,” so did these in that grand intelligence which is the glory of God. “These,” said the Father, “will I make my rulers.” And He foreordained them to the various places they should fill on earth and the times in which they should live. Some, whose future He foreknew, whose acts of righteousness he foresaw, He predestinated “to be conformed,” through their faith and righteousness, “to the image of His son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” As Jesus was selected as a lamb without blemish and without spot to be the sinless sacrifice, through foreknowledge of his perfect obedience, so others were chosen for their respective missions and times and callings, and they have appeared on the stage of this lower world, performed their parts and passed to higher spheres to await the great day when all things shall be revealed, and every man shall be judged and rewarded according to his works. * * *

* * * * *

Classes of people, races and even nations, gathered with their own kind in the pre-mortal life. Even those who would bear and honor the Priesthood were gathered together. This principle of gathering was intended to continue in this mortal existence as well, and people were foreordained to gather according to races, nations, and the elect of God.

 

Joseph Smith: (TPJS, p. 308)

It was the design of the councils of heaven before the world was, that the principles and laws of the priesthood should be predicated upon the gathering of the people in every age of the world. Jesus did everything to gather the people, and they would not be gathered, and He therefore poured out curses upon them.

* * * * *

 

[118] George Q. Cannon: (JD 25:299)

Where from the beginning has a people been gathered out from all the nations of the earth–moved upon by one common impulse, a simultaneous impulse, an impulse of the same character, impelling them in every land where they have received the everlasting Gospel, to gather to a strange land as the Latter-day Saints are being gathered to this land? No magnet ever drew or attracted to itself that to which it has affinity, with greater power than has the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ drawn to it from the midst of the various nations those who have an affinity for the truth. * * * there has sprung up in the hearts of those who have thus heard the truth an irrepressible and irresistible desire to leave their native lands, and to identify themselves with the people of God in these remote regions, in these Rocky Mountains.

 

Doctrine and Covenants: (29:7-8)

And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts; wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked.

* * * * *

There is a difference between shepherds and sheepherders. In this country we see sheepherders who drive the sheep ahead of them by making noise, shouting, or by using dogs. But in the days when Christ was on the earth, there were shepherds who led the flock of sheep. When they called, the sheep followed. In the evening several shepherds brought their sheep to a large corral where they were all penned together for the night. In this way it was easier to protect them from wolves, dogs or other wild [119] animals. In the morning each shepherd opened the gate and called his sheep; all of his sheep came out and followed him. But the sheep of the other shepherds remained until they heard the familiar voice of their master.

Jesus spoke of this–

But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:2-5, 14, 26-27)

Jesus infers here that the sheep–or true followers of Christ–know His voice here in mortality. How would they know or be familiar with his voice or teachings if they had not heard them in the pre-existence? This is clearly a reasonable and scriptural principle of the gathering of the elect–both geographically and doctrinally.

 

PREDESTINATION

 

Joseph F. Smith: (JD 25:57)

Where did we come from? From God. Our spirits existed before they came to this world. They were in the councils of the heavens before the foundations of the earth were laid. We were there. We sang together with [120] the heavenly hosts for joy, when the foundations of the earth were laid, and when the plan of our existence upon this earth and redemption were mapped out. We were there; we were interested, and we took a part in this great preparation. We were unquestionably present in those councils, when that wonderful circumstance occurred to which President Taylor has so often referred of late, when Satan offered himself as a savior of the world, if he could but receive the honor and the glory of the Father for doing it. But Jesus said, “Father, Thy will be done, and the glory be Thine forever.” Wherefore, because Satan rebelled against God, and sought to destroy the agency of man, the Father rejected him and he was cast out, but Jesus was accepted. We were, no doubt, there, and took a part in all those scenes; we were vitally concerned in the carrying out of these great plans and purposes; we understood them, and it was for our sakes they were decreed and are to be consummated. These spirits have been coming to this earth to take upon them tabernacles, that they might become like unto Jesus Christ–being “formed in His likeness and image,” from the morn of creation until now, and will continue until the winding-up scene, until the spirits who were destined to come to this world shall have come and accomplished their mission in the flesh.

* * * * *

 

Brigham Young: (JD 10:4-5)

Brother Amasa M. Lyman, this morning, quoted the following passage, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, he also called, and whom he called them he also justified: and whom he justified them he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:29-30) The Apostle understood full well the principles here advanced, but it would have filled volumes to have written them out in full as they were revealed from God by the power and gift of the Holy Spirit. God foreknows all, and has predestinated all who believe the truth to the possession of eternal life, [121] and this in short is all there is of it. He foreknew Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and placed him upon the throne of Egypt for the express purpose of showing forth his power to Israel, and to the wicked nations of the Gentiles. The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart in the same way that he hardeneth the hearts of his enemies at the present day, after they have rejected the testimony of his servants and oppressed his elect. * * *

Not only did God foreknow the wicked and predestinate them, but he also foreknew the righteous and predestinated them; he knew that they would be conformed to the image of his Son and live according to the words of Christ, while he knew that the wicked would not fulfil the terms requisite to be conformed to the image of his Son, but would do the works of the Devil whom they would list to serve.

* * * * *

 

Paul, the Apostle: (Ephesians 1:4-5, 10-11)

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, . . .

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: . . .

* * * * *

 

Deuteronomy: (32:8-9)

When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

* * * * *

 

[122] Acts: (17:26)

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; . . .

* * * * *

 

I Peter: (2:9)

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: . . .

* * * * *

 

Isaiah: (41:8-9)

But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

* * * * *

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrine of Salvation 1:61)

We are the children of God. He is our Father and he loves us. He loves all men whether they be white or black. No matter what their color, no matter what the conditions under which they were born and reared, the Lord looks upon all his children in mercy and will do for them just the best that he can….

There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who [123] were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less.

* * * * *

 

Orson Hyde: (Orson Hyde, by J. S. Hyde, p. 56; from a speech delivered to the                                    High Priests Quorum in Nauvoo, Sept. 1844)

At the time the devil was cast out of heaven, there were some spirits that did not know who had authority, whether God or the devil. They consequently did not take a very active part on either side, but rather thought the devil had been abused, and considered he had rather the best claim to government. These spirits were not considered bad enough to be cast down to hell, and never have bodies; neither were they considered worthy of an honorable body on this earth. … Now, it would seem cruel to force pure celestial spirits into the world through the lineage of Canaan that had been cursed. This would be ill appropriate, putting the precious and vile together. But those spirits in heaven that rather lent an influence to the devil, thinking he had a little the best right to govern, but did not take a very active part any way, were required to come into the world and take bodies in the accursed lineage of Canaan; and hence the Negro or African race ….

* * * * *

 

Mark E. Petersen: (“Race Problems–As They Effect the Church,” an address to                                                  convention of BYU religion teachers, Aug. 27, 1954)

Is there reason then why the type of birth we receive in this life is not a reflection of our worthiness or lack of it in the pre-existence life?

. . . can we account in any other way for the birth of some of the children of God in darkest Africa, or in flood-ridden China, or among the starving hordes of India, [124] while some of the rest of us are born here in the United States? We cannot escape the conclusion that because of performance in our pre-existence, some of us are born as Chinese, some as Japanese, some as Indians, some as Negroes, some as Americans, some as Latter-day Saints. These are rewards and punishments, fully in harmony with His established policy in dealing with sinners and saints, rewarding all according to their deeds.

* * * * *

 

Bruce R. McConkie: (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 476-77)

Those who were less valiant in pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the Negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God….

* * * * *

 

Cleon Skousen: (The First 2,000 Years, pp. 121-22)

Because God knew all of His children “from the beginning” and knew what would be best for them during the Second Estate, He deliberately planned the time and place and circumstances where various types of personalities would best fit in.

Some are superior in one way, some in another. Some are outstanding in material things, some are predominant in things of the spirit. Some are a happy combination of each. In planning the Second Estate, the Lord had to be sure that those personalities who were particularly suited to positions of righteous leadership should be sprinkled judiciously throughout all peoples in all ages so as to promote the welfare of the whole human family. This power of leadership is God’s Priesthood.

There was a certain group of spirits however, who for some reason not yet revealed to us, were not to be given the powers, of the Priesthood during this life. This is the group of spirits who have come to the earth through the lineage of Cain.

* * * * *

 

[125] Brigham H. Roberts: (The Contributor 6:296-297)

The contest was a severe one, and during its progress all degrees of integrity were manifest. Those who stood with Christ and the plan He favored for the salvation of man, formed one extreme, while those who stood with Lucifer and for the plan of salvation devised by him, which was destructive of man’s agency, formed the other extreme; between these two extremes every shade of faith, fulness and indifference was exhibited. Only those, however, who wickedly rebelled against God were adjudged to deserve banishment from heaven, and become the devil and his angels. Others there were, who may not have rebelled against God, and yet were so indifferent in their support of the righteous cause of our Redeemer, that they forfeited certain privileges and powers granted to those who were more valiant for God and correct principles. We have, I think, a demonstration of this in the seed of Ham …. I believe that race is the one through which it is ordained those spirits that were not valiant in the great rebellion in heaven should come; who through their indifference or lack of integrity to righteousness, rendered themselves unworthy of the Priesthood and its powers, and hence it is withheld from them to this day.

* * * * *

NOTE: Too lengthy to include in this chapter is a most excellent and comprehensive 8-page review of these doctrines of predestination, foreordination, and foreknowledge, found in Volume I, No. 9 (Jan. 1841) of the Millennial Star. This article is written by Brigham Young and Willard Richards, and is highly recommended reading.

* * * * *

 

 

[126]                             Chapter 11

 

THE VEIL OVER OUR MEMORY

There are two important reasons for our forgetting the pre-mortal life: (1) so that we could have absolute free agency to choose good or evil; and (2) so that we would desire to remain on earth until our work and mission was fulfilled. Otherwise, if we remembered the beauty and glory of the Father’s presence, we would have no desire to remain on earth to fulfill our covenants.

 

Joseph Fielding Smith: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:60)

This mortal existence is conclusive evidence that all who receive it kept their first estate. In our former, or spirit existence, we walked by sight. We were in the presence of both the Father and the Son, and were instructed by them and under their personal presence. In this mortal life, or second estate, the Lord willed that we should walk by faith and not by sight, that we might, with the great gift of free agency, be proved to see if we would do all things whatsoever the Lord our God commanded us. Therefore, he took away from us all knowledge of our spiritual existence and started us out afresh in the form of helpless infants, to grow and learn day by day. In consequence of this we received no former knowledge and wisdom at birth, and, as it is written of the Son of God, who in the beginning made all things, we “received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace.”

Notwithstanding this fact that our recollection of former things was taken away, the character of our lives in the spirit world has much to do with our disposition, [127] desires and mentality here in mortal life. The spirit influences the body to a great extent, just as the body in its desires and cravings has an influence on the spirit. The Lord has caused it to be so. Therefore, those who were the noble and great ones in that former world, the Lord foreordained to be his prophets and rulers here, for he knew them before they were born, and through the action of the spirit on the body, he knows they will be likely to serve him here. Environment and many other causes, however, have great influence on the progress and destiny of man, but we must not lose sight of the fact that the characteristics of the spirit, which were developed through many ages of a former existence, play a very important part in our progression through mortal life.

* * * * *

 

Brigham Young: (JD 4:217)

Thus you may continue and trace the human family back to Adam and Eve, and ask, “Are we of the same species with Adam and Eve?” Yes, every person acknowledges this; this comes within the scope of our understanding.

But when we arrive at that point, a veil is dropped and our knowledge is cut off. Were it not so, you could trace back your history to the Father of our spirits in the eternal world. He is a being of the same species as ourselves; He lives as we do, except the difference that we are earthly, and He is heavenly. He has been earthly, and is of precisely the same species of being that we are. Whether Adam is the personage that we should consider our heavenly Father, or not, is considerable of a mystery to a good many. I do not care for one moment how that is; it is no matter whether we are to consider Him our God or whether His Father, or His Grandfather, for in either case we are of one species–of one family–and Jesus Christ is also of our species.

* * * * *

 

[128] Brigham Young: (JD 6:333)

It has also been decreed by the Almighty that spirits, upon taking bodies, shall forget all they had known previously, or they could not have a day of trial–could not have an opportunity for proving themselves in darkness and temptation, in unbelief and wickedness, to prove themselves worthy of eternal existence.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 2:242)

As soon as our spirits were enclosed in this tabernacle, all our former knowledge vanished away–the knowledge of our former acts was lost, what we did then we know not; we had laws to govern us; how obedient to them we were we know not; how faithful we were we know not; we had a contest with the one-third part of the hosts of heaven, and we overcame them: and then the Lord made an earth where we might have a second probation, and forget all we once knew concerning the battles we had fought, before we came here, against Lucifer the son of the morning. We forget about the laws that were given to govern us in that spiritual state. Why all this? If we came here with all the knowledge we formerly possessed, could we be again tried as those who possess only the first principles of knowledge? We must begin at the alphabet of knowledge; and when once we begin to gain knowledge and information the Lord tries us to see if we will comply with that, and if we do, He gives us more, in this probationary state; but after we have gained all we can here, it is nothing compared with that immense fulness, which it is the privilege of the children of men to obtain in the future state of existence.

* * * * *

 

[129] Orson Pratt: (JD 15:245)

What person among all the human family can comprehend what took place in his first existence? No one, it is blotted from the memory, and I think there is great wisdom manifested in withholding the knowledge of our previous existence. Why? Because we could not, if we had all our pre-existent knowledge accompanying us into this world, show to our Father in the heavens and to the heavenly host that we would be in all things obedient; in other words, we could not be tried as the Lord designs to try us here in this state of existence, to qualify us for a higher state hereafter. In order to try the children of men, there must be a degree of knowledge withheld from them, for it would be no temptation to them if they could understand from the beginning the consequences of their acts, and the nature and results of this and that temptation. But in order that we may prove ourselves before the heavens obedient and faithful in all things, we have to begin at the very first principles of knowledge, and be tried from knowledge to knowledge, and from grace to grace, until, like our elder brother, we finally overcome and triumph over all our imperfections, and receive with him the same glory that he inherits, which glory he had before the world was.

This is the way that we as a people look upon our previous existence.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 19:281)

But there are some things we might never find out by the process of reason. For instance, suppose we were created in the celestial world without a knowledge of that which we term pain; could we learn to sense it by seeing others suffer? No, no more than a person born in a dungeon and kept there until he reached the years of manhood, without the least gleam of light, could, while in that condition, be instructed about the principle of light. Why [130] could he not be instructed? Because it is something he never has experienced. You tell him that light produces beautiful colors, such as red, blue, green, etc., what would he know about those colors? Nothing at all; his experience has not been called to grasp them; such a thing as a ray of light never penetrated his dungeon. But when he is permitted to experience the nature of light, when he sees the various colors, he then learns something which he never could reason out. So with regard to ourselves. We, in our first state of existence, never having seen misery among any of the immortal beings, and never experiencing it in our spiritual personages, how could we know anything about it? I do not think we could possibly comprehend the nature of it. We could not reason out the difference between happiness and misery. Why? For the want of experience. It was for this reason that God the Father caused the tree bearing forbidden fruit to be placed in the garden.

* * * * *

 

Junius Wells: (Contributor Dec. 1882, p. 114)

Had we not known before we came the necessity of our coming, the importance of obtaining tabernacles, the glory to be achieved in posterity, the grand object to be attained by being tried and tested–weighed in the balance, in the exercise of the divine attributes, godlike powers and free agency with which we are endowed; whereby, after descending below all things, Christ-like, we might ascend above all things, and become like our Father, Mother and Elder Brother, Almighty and Eternal!–we never would have come; that is, if we could have stayed away.

I believe that our Savior is the ever-living example to all flesh in all these things. He no doubt possessed a fore-knowledge of all the vicissitudes through which He would have to pass in the mortal tabernacle, when the foundations of this earth were laid, “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” When He conversed with the brother of Jared, on the [131] Mount, in His spiritual body, He understood His mission, and knew the work He had to do, as thoroughly as when He ascended from the Mount of Olives before the wondering gaze of the Jewish disciples, with His resurrected, glorious and immortal body.

And yet, to accomplish the ultimatum of His previous existence, and consummate the grand and glorious object of His being, and the salvation of His infinite brotherhood, He had to come and take upon Him flesh. He is our example. The works He did, we are commanded to do. We are enjoined to follow Him, as He followed His Head; that where He is, we may be also; and being with Him, may be like Him. If Christ knew beforehand, so did we. But in coming here, we forgot all, that our agency might be free indeed, to choose good or evil, that we might merit the reward of our own choice and conduct.

But by the power of the Spirit, in the redemption of Christ, through obedience, we often catch a spark from the awakened memories of the immortal soul, which lights up our whole being as with the glory of our former home.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 1:56)

We read of a certain time when the corner stones of the earth were laid, and the foundations thereof were made sure–of a certain time when the Lord began to erect this beautiful and glorious habitation, the earth; then they had a time of joy. I do not know whether they had instruments of music, or whether they were engaged in the dance; but one thing is certain, they had great joy, and the heavens resounded with their shouts; yea, the Lord told Job, that all the sons of God shouted for joy, and the morning stars sang together, when the foundations of this globe were laid.

The SONS of God, recollect, shouted for joy, because there was a beautiful habitation being built, so that they could get tabernacles, and dwell thereon; they expected the time–they looked forward to the period; and it was [132] joyful to them to reflect, that the creation was about being formed, the corner stone of it was laid, on which they might, in their times, and in their seasons, and in their generations, go forth and receive tabernacles for their spirits to dwell in. Do you bring it home to yourselves, brethren and sisters? Do you realize that you and I were there? Can you bring it to your minds that you and I were among that happy number that shouted for joy when this creation was made? Says one, I don’t recollect it. No wonder! for your recollection is taken from you, because you are in a tabernacle that is earthly; and all this is right and necessary. The same is written of Jesus Christ himself, who had to descend below all things; yet we find, with all that great and mighty power he possessed, and the great and superior wisdom that was in his bosom, that after all, his judgment had to be taken away; in this humiliation, his reason, his intelligence, his knowledge, and the power that he was formerly in possession of, vanished from him as he entered into the infant tabernacle. He was obliged to begin down at the lowest principles of knowledge, and ascend upward by degrees, receiving grace for grace, truth for truth, knowledge for knowledge, until he was filled with all the fulness of the Father, and was capable of ruling, governing, and controlling all things, having ascended above all things. Just so with us; we that once lifted up our united voices as sons and daughters of God, and shouted for joy at the laying of the foundation of this earth, have come here and taken tabernacles, after the pattern of our elder brother; and in our humiliation–for it is humiliation to be deprived of knowledge we once had, and the power we once enjoyed–in our humiliation, just like our elder brother, our judgment is taken away.

* * * * *

 

George Q. Cannon: (JD 26:192)

But I wish to say that we had an existence before we came here. “But,” says one, “I do not remember anything about it.” No, you do not. You do not remember the day [133] you were born on the earth, yet you will not deny that you had an existence at that time. When you were a year old, you do not remember beginning to walk, yet you will not deny that you had an existence then. God, in His wisdom, has withdrawn the recollection of these things from us.

If we could understand the glory we once had with our Father in heaven, we would be discontented in dwelling in this condition of existence. We would pine for the home we left behind us. Its glory and its beauty, its heavenly graces and delights were of such a character that we would pine for it with that home-sickness that men have some partial knowledge of here on the earth. It is said that at one time in the French army, the bands were forbidden to play certain airs because of the effect they had upon the Swiss soldiers whom they employed. These Swiss airs would arouse such sensations of homesickness as to cause the Swiss to throw down their arms and desert and go back to their native valleys and mountains. Now, if such a feeling of home-sickness can be brought about in that way, how much more would it be the case if we could recollect our association with our Father and God in the eternal world! Wisely, in the providence of God, this knowledge is withdrawn from us.

We can have a glimpse occasionally, through the revelations of the Spirit to us, of the glory there is awaiting us, and sometimes when men and women are approaching death–when they are ready to step out of this existence into the other–the veil becomes so thin that they behold the glories of the eternal world, and when they come back again–as some have, we all probably have met those who have been snatched from death–they come back to this mortal existence with a feeling of regret. They have had a foretaste of the glory that awaited therein; they have had a glimpse of that glory that is behind the veil; and the love of life is so completely lost–the love of earthly home and friends is so completely taken from them, that they desire with all their hearts to take their exit from this life into that glorious life which they knew was on the other side of the veil. Has not this been the [134] case in many instances? Certainly it has. Therefore our God in His wisdom has withdrawn this knowledge from us, and left us to seek for and obtain that aid and strength necessary to enable us to successfully battle with and overcome the powers of evil that assail us on every hand.

* * * * *

 

Orson Pratt: (JD 15:249-250)

Now admit, as the Latter-day Saints do, that we had a previous existence, and that when we die we shall return to God and our former habitation, where we shall behold the face of our Father, and the question immediately arises, shall we have our memories so increased by the Spirit of the living God that we shall ever remember our previous existence? I think we shall. Jesus seems to have gained this even here in this world, otherwise he would not have prayed, saying, “Father, glorify thou me with that glory which I had with thee before the world was,” showing plainly that he had obtained by revelation a knowledge from his Father of something about the glory that he had before the world was. This being the case with Jesus, why not his younger brethren also obtain this information by revelation?

And when we do return back into the presence of our Father, will we not there also have our memories so quickened that we will remember his face, having dwelt in his presence for thousands of years? It will not be like going to visit strangers that we have never seen before. Is not this a comfort to persons who expect to depart this life, like all the rest of the human family? They have a consolation that they are going not among strangers, not to a being whose Face they never saw, but to one whom they will recognize, and will remember, having dwelt with him for ages before the world was.

Looking upon it in the light of reason, independent of revelation, if a person were to form a system of religion according to the best light that he had, would it not be more happifying and calculated more in its nature to [135] give joy and peace to the mind to suppose that we were going back to a personage we were well acquainted with, rather than to one we had no idea of? I think I should prefer, so far as reason is concerned, to be well acquainted with people I am going among.

These are the expectations of the Latter-day Saints: we do not expect to go among strangers. When we get back there, we expect this place to be familiar to us, and when we meet this, that and the other one of all the human family that have been here on the earth, we shall recognize them as those with whom we have dwelt thousands of years in the presence of our Father and God. This renewing of old friendships and acquaintances, and again enjoying all the glory we once possessed, will be a great satisfaction to all who are privileged to do so.

If we ever dwelt there, it is altogether likely that God made some promises to us when there. He would converse with us, and cheer us up. Being his offspring–his sons and daughters, he would not be austere and unwilling to converse with his own children, but he would teach them a great many things. And all this will be familiar to us. We read in the New Testament that God did make promises to us before this world was made. I recollect one passage in one of the epistles of Paul, either to Timothy or Titus, the Apostle says, “In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began.” To whom did he make that promise? I contend that we had the promise of eternal life before the world began on certain conditions–if we would comply with the gospel of the Son of God, by repenting of our sins and being faithful in keeping the commandments of God.

* * * * *

 

[136] Eliza R. Snow: (“Oh My Father”, verses 2 & 3)

For a wise and glorious purpose,

Thou hast placed me here on earth,

And withheld the recollection

Of my former friends and birth.

Yet, ofttimes a secret something

Whispered: “You’re a stranger here,”

And I felt that I had wandered

From a more exalted sphere.

I had learned to call Thee Father,

Through Thy Spirit from on high,

But until the Key of Knowledge

Was restored, I knew not why.

In the heavens are parents single?

No! the thought makes reason stare;

Truth is reason; truth eternal

Tells me I’ve a mother there.

* * * * *

 

 

[137]                             Chapter 12

 

A VISION OF THE PRE-EXISTENCE

One man’s vision of the pre-existence is perhaps more revealing than all else written on the subject. The following vision was given to Mosiah Hancock, born in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1834. He knew the Prophet Joseph Smith and lived a long and devoted life defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it had been revealed to him.

 

A Vision Given to Mosiah Hancock (about 1855)

When about twenty-one years of age, I was permitted by the power of God, to go into His presence and into my former abode. I saw the Eternal Father on His throne and His wives on His left side, all shining in glory; I saw the Savior and knew Him. It takes the power of the Holy Ghost to tell the difference between the Father and the Son, they look so much alike. Jesus said: “Mosiah, I have brought you here to show you how it was before you went to the earth.” I had been to the earth; everything looked so natural and familiar. I seemed to have been a companion of the Savior and talked with Him like a friend. Again, He spoke to me and said: “Look and see man as he came forth.” I looked in the direction indicated and saw an innumerable line of God’s children extending further than I could see. They were arranged in pairs, male and female, and passed in front of the Eternal Father who named them; and they were clad in long white robes with girdles tied around the waists; each pair seemed to have been created mates. <One sentence placed here was left out because it was not readable.>

 

[138] When thus clothed, they were arranged in classes of about two hundred; the males sitting in front and the females behind them. They were taught in the arts and sciences, and everything necessary to make the heart happy. The teachers of the classes received the instruction they imparted from certain notable ones, who in turn got their directions from the Father and the Son. I thought I was one to overlook the classes; I also saw Joseph, Brigham, and many others engaged in this work of education. I thought as some became more efficient than others they were advanced from class to class. I thought my name was Mosiah, and the names of the other brethren there were the same as upon the earth. All at once there was a gathering of these spirits and the voice of the Great Eternal (for that is what we called God there) spoke: “Oh, ye my children,” and His voice penetrated throughout space, so countless were His offspring. “We have an earth prepared for you, on which you can dwell and have a chance to come up, thru obeying our Heavenly laws.”

I there heard the question asked: “Who will go down and set an example of humility and faithfulness to these my children, that they may be brought, thru obedience to our laws, back into our presence?”

I thought I saw one in the express image of the Father say, “Father, I will go down and set a pattern of humility and patience that your children, thru my example, may be brought back again.” How noble, I thought, He looked when He offered Himself so patient before the children of our Father.

I saw another, who seemed to be a very high military officer who arose and said: “I will go down to yonder earth and surely I will bring all your children back to you so none of them shall be lost.”

The plan of the first was accepted as being the only sure plan for an exaltation. The plan of the second was rejected with great kindness; but the second was not [139] satisfied; and while the first stood in great humility by the side of the Father, the second with many who stood in with him, went about among the Heavenly hosts to advocate the plan, that was put forth as the rights of the second. This one was Lucifer, a son of the morning, for many had been with the Father for countless ages, and learned their lessons well, and he had been no dull scholar. Finally Lucifer openly rebelled against the Father and the Son, and six other mighty ones who stood faithful with them and declared, “I will have it my way.” I saw the faithful ones gather around the Father and the Son, and Lucifer’s workers gathered around him, when one of the notable ones, who was called Michael, arose and said, “We will decide the contest.” It seemed that a platform was extended into space, upon which we could operate, by what power I could not tell. We who were faithful to the Father and the Son, had a white star upon us, and the others chose a red star; about one third of the males and females would not accept of either star, but withdrew from the conflict, the females taking the males by the arm, said, “Come, let us not take part with either side. Let us retire.” <This sentence was changed to clarify its meaning, although the meaning was not changed in any way.> (When they were cast out after the manner of spiritual warfare,) they had no power to return. When they were all cleared from the platform and Satan and his followers were all cast down, their female companions wept, and we all wept.

No females took part against the Father and the Son, but all took sides in their favor, except the neutral ones already mentioned. After the tears were dried from our eyes, the voice of the Great Eternal spoke again and said, “Hear, O ye my children;” His voice penetrating the immensity of space so that all could hear it; it is decreed by the Great Eternal that the females shall not follow their males in their banishment, but for every male that has kept his first estate and fought valiantly for the Father and the Son, there are two females. Again it is decreed that those males who have taken no part in this great conflict shall keep their females and a race of servants shall they be.”

 

[140] I then saw that the notable ones who had taken such an interest in the rights of the Father and the Son, were appointed to gather up those lone females whose companions had been cast down. They were again placed in classes, each man having two females in the ranks behind him. I there saw that they were again taught in their classes, which now contained about three hundred. I next saw Michael and his companion proceed a long way off, to people the earth where Lucifer and his followers had been cast. As time passed, other notable ones followed as they were appointed. During all this time the classes met frequently, being taught by instructors appointed. Each member knew his or her own place, and took it each time, and the best of order prevailed.

They were asked, first the males, and then the females behind them, “Will you obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, when you go to that earth?” Some would answer, Yes, but not all. Some would be asked, Will you obey that law which placed the Gods on high? And in very few cases I would hear the females say, “I want my own mate.” Sometimes the question would be asked of a male, “Will you Obey that higher law? and he would answer, “I wish to enjoy myself with the females.” Sometimes when the question would be asked of the female, she would reply, “I wish to enjoy myself with the males.” Again the question would be asked of the males, “If you will not join the Church of Christ, what do you wish to be? He would sometimes say, “I wish to be a judge, or an officer of high rank among the people.” Then he would be asked, “Will you sustain the laws of God and also the rights of all mankind?” and the answer in every instance was, “yes.”

I saw there that those who were proficient in their classes were advanced more rapidly until they became most perfect in those heavenly teachings, but some males, even there in Heaven would neglect their females and their classes and not meet with them. They would go off, arm in arm, as men now go, not having any desire for their duties. I never saw a female leave her place in the class assigned her by the Heavenly powers.

 

[141] I saw Abraham, when he came back from the earth, and many of the notable ones, when they came back to be crowned. I saw them step upon the platform of the Gods and receive their crowns, and enter into their exaltations. At last I saw the time when Joseph was to go forth, and the voice of the Great Eternal said, “Oh, my neglected daughters, gather around these my faithful servants who have been faithful in teaching you the principles of righteousness and of our kingdom, that others may come up and have the chance to be glorified.” I saw many of them gather around Joseph and form a ring with him and the Savior in the center. They made a covenant with him that they would meet him on the earth and help him establish that great work upon the earth. I saw many of them gather around Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and many other notable ones, and around many who have not become so notable. They formed rings around each of them with Christ in the center each time, for He rehearsed to them the Covenant. They would take each other by the hand, in the circle, and bow their faces down to Him, in the center, and in the most solemn manner agree to meet them here, until every one of those neglected daughters was provided for; and they were filled with such joy that their songs made a paradise of the realm.

At last the time came for me to go to the earth. The Savior came to me and said, “Mosiah, it is time for you to prepare to go. You have been faithful so long here, it is time for you to go, that you may return and be as we are.” As I beheld Him, I thought, “How is it that I am not as you are now?” For it seemed, that I knew nothing of the earth, of the changes a probation there would make in me. However, I said, “Who will go down to that earth, and be my father, and help me that I may be brought in the ways of truth and righteousness?” A male by the name of Levi stepped forth, in the presence of the Son, and said, “I will go down to yonder earth, and by the help of the Great Eternal, I will try to do as well by you as you have done for me, for I am grateful to you for all your kindness [142] to me.” He returned to his place, being an instructor of a class. I was one among others who was appointed to instruct him and the other teachers of classes. A female came out of the class and bowing before the Savior and me, said, “I will go down and be your mother.”

In a short time the man disappeared and was immediately followed by the woman. I knew my departure was near at hand and I asked, “If on my return I could have the same position I then held.” Then the Savior said, “Yes, and greater, but you have to go down to the earth, and take a lowly position and be misunderstood by man, even your brethren and endure many hardships and set many examples of humility and patience, that you may return and enter the glory, even such as I have.”

He then added, “Your time is now come to take your mission to the earth,” and He laid His hands on my head, as He had done to others, and set me apart for that important mission. He again said to me, “I will see you safely thru until you return again.”I fully believe on that promise. <This sentence was changed to clarify its meaning, although the meaning was not changed in any way.> It seemed as though a way was opened before me, and I dived down toward the earth with the speed of lightening and awoke while sailing thru space. The end.

* * * * *

 

 

[143]                             Chapter 13

 

CONCLUSION

The pre-existence of man is not only an informative and interesting doctrine, but it is essential for a proper perspective of life and salvation.

When men learn and understand that we are the literal offspring of God, that He is our Father and we are His children, then we have a more profound feeling of identity, coupled with a firmer desire to live a more righteous life. What a bleak prospect it must be for those who believe that we are the descendants of some worm, toad or monkey. What moral incentives are instigated by the thought that we popped into existence, and will pass away like some mushroom on the forest floor. No wonder so much of the world is in a state of misery, war and degradation when they have no more hope than to expect their future will go no further than the occupation of a little plot of ground in some cemetery!

Man’s total existence is a part of the greatest plan ever conceived–in fact, it is so amazing that it extends beyond the comprehension of mortal man. God in His great wisdom has reduced us to this dark and evil world for our experience. Mortality is a progressive step from the pre-mortal existence towards immortality. An understanding of this will help men bear the afflictions and trials associated with our earthly life.

A knowledge of our pre-mortal life is essential to appreciate the plan of salvation. It was through our free agency there that we determined our destiny in this life; and it is by our free agency here that we decide our destiny in the world to come.

 

[144] Those of the House of Israel were chosen as a race or nation before they were born, to fulfill covenants made in the pre-mortal existence. Yet, how few of them are devoted to the cause of the Gospel in this life! Who we are and where we were born were greatly determined in our pre-mortal life. The race, the place and time of birth, talents and gifts, even riches or poverty, are a direct result of events and actions in the pre-existence. The greater our blessings and responsibilities here, the greater were the promises and covenants before mortality.

How beautiful and profound is the whole eternal concept of pre-existence, mortality, and the final resurrection! No one but those who have studied and understood the doctrines revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, can fully comprehend and appreciate the glorious estates of man’s past and future destiny. The comprehension of man’s pre-existence, his struggle through mortality, and his final triumph in the resurrection is part of the greatest and most glorious knowledge attainable in this life. Believing in these, man is then capable of fully appreciating the atonement and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Also, the Gospel of Christ becomes more clear and beautiful, bringing joy and peace to the soul. Then life’s discouragements and difficulties become experiences in preparing us to again see our Father in Heaven and dwell with Him forever.

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