Monday, June 13, 2011

William Phelps on Spirits

The following article comes from William W. Phelps, Deseret Almanac, for the Year of Our Lord 1854: Being the Second After Leap Year, and After the Sixth of April, the Twenty-Fifth Year of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and the Third of the Last Half Century of This Dispensation (Great Salt Lake City, UT: Willard Richards), 22, 24, 26, 28:

To give a full history of Spirits, begotten, raised, educated, and destinated, in the celestial world, would require the 'memory' and 'experience' we left there when we chose to take our mission for this world. - But little has ever been revealed on the subject. The common occurrences of life teach us however, that spirits had knowledge in the elder world: whether human or not human. The wisdom of God is plainly manifest in his creations: so that a "life-giving power" animating man, beast, fowl, fish, reptile, and insect, "spreads undivided, and operates unspent" from age to age. And when we read that Jesus Christ was with the Father, in the beginning, and came down from the Father, and was begotten of the Father, and born of a woman, like ourselves, and raised up among his brethren; suffered in the flesh as a mortal, was buried and arose on the third day in newness of life, we certainly have one chain of evidence, that spirits had an existence with God in another world.

Again, when we observe among all nations, kindreds and tongues, two self evident principles prevailing; the one, in all cases, actuating its subject to do unto others as it would wish others to do unto it; and the other secretly and openly taking an undue advantage, we are compelled to know that there are two kinds of spirits - good and bad - living together on the earth. And so, also, may be observed among the animal creation, a species of self will, called, "instinct" developing itself to sustain life, giving wise men proof of what was known in the spirit world.

But the grand question is, how shall we distinguish between good and bad spirits, seeing there are such a variety, and that they manifest themselves in a multiplicity of ways? The rule given by Jesus Christ is this: - "He that prayeth whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me, if he obey mine ordinances; he that speaketh whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek, and edifieth, the same is of God, if he obey mine ordinances. And again, he that trembles under my power, shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise, and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you. And again, he that is overcome and bringeth not forth fruits, even according to this pattern, is not of me. Wherefore, by this pattern ye shall know the spirits in all cases under the whole heavens" [D&C 52:15-19].

The question being thus settled beyond controversy, all honest men can judge the tree by its fruit; and the "anointed of the Lord," whenever they judge a spirit, professing to have obeyed 'mine ordinances,' will require the tokens that the watching angels require at the passes from this world to the next.

But to open the subject under consideration, plainer to the comprehension of all, let it be known that all spirits in their "first estate," have their agency the same as they have in their second, or temporal probation. For it is written, that "Adam was tempted of the devil, for behold the devil was before Adam, for he [the devil] rebelled against me, [Jesus] saying, 'Give me thine honor,' which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me [Jesus] because of their agency; and they were thrust down and thus became the devil and his angels; and behold there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell: and it must needs be 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" [D&C 26:36-39].

Thus we have the subject fairly open. The spirits in the "elder world" have their agency, and act upon it. Now the Lord has one grand rule for spirits and mortals in both worlds. He exhibits the plan of what is to be in the next state of existence, and then gives the candidates for exaltation and glory, permission to go upon their agency and do the best they can under the holy order of the priesthood, - if they obey his ordinances. And so the spirits, anxious to imitate their Father, and inherit a kingdom, come down to earth and take a body of flesh, that through obedience according to his ordinances, (after death) the spirit and the body may be raised, incorruptible, a SOUL for exaltation.

There is one thing still farther in relation to the spirits before they come into the flesh, and that is, that they have a body and live by sustenance, the same as mortals: for Jesus said to the brother of Jared: "Behold, this body, which you now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in spirit, will I appear unto my people in the flesh" [Ether 3:16]. And again, when this same Jesus, long afterwards, visited Abraham, he killed a calf and made cakes, and HE DID EAT with the old patriarch, in company with others, and blessed Sarah at ninety years, to bring forth Isaac. So it seems that Jesus Christ had a body and lived by eating before he was born of Mary. And more than this, he had a Father and a Mother in heaven: for in the forty-fifth Psalm (literally from the Hebrew) is read these sublime sentences: - "Thy throne (is as) the Gods of eternity: and the eternal rod of justice (is) the rod of thy kingdom. Thou lovedst righteousness and hatedst wickedness, therefore the Gods with thy God anoint thee with the oil of joy over thy household. - Myrrh, aloes, and cassia for all thy garments from palaces of ivory are bestowed to gladden thee. The daughters of kings stand among thy honorable wives: the Queen on the right hand in gems of ophir" [Psalm 45:6-9].

So reads a portion of the blessing of the King and Queen of heaven, upon their Son, before he came down, upon his mission to Idumea, or the world. And as he makes his brethren, who come and take a body of flesh, "equal with him in power and glory," they must receive the same blessings in the spirit world before they come.

One idea further: Good angels and spirits never leave the realms of glory without permission or commission: and when they arrive on the earth, the first salutation is, (if an angel) I am Michael; I am Gabriel; or I am one of thy fellow servants the prophets - worship God. No clairvoyance: no mesmerism: no spiritual rapping: nor no making medicine. No, they come like a God, and act like a God.

But the free thinker naturally inquires, from whence come the evil spirits? The world is troubled with many. We answer: we have already given a clue to that question. "A third part of the hosts of heaven" went on their agency, after Satan; and as neither their leader nor themselves, have the power to create a body, they enter everybody weak enough to give them admission, not even refusing a hog's, by scores and thousands, contrary to the order of God, because by the fall they forfeited their right to "flesh and exaltation." Herein, too, the power and rules of heaven may be known: good spirits for men, never enter hogs and form beastly unions; neither will many in one, degrade humanity like the "legion" that Jesus cast out of one man, and permitted them to enter swine.

One circumstance, among evil spirits, strengthens the idea of their knowledge of where they came from. Says one of the seven sons of Sceva, to an evil spirit, I adjure you to come out of that man, in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches! To which the spirit replied: - "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?" [Acts 19:15] That devil told the truth, for he had been acquainted with Jesus and Paul, in heaven, and not on earth, for spirit knows spirit, and flesh, flesh.

There is still another important item in the catalogue of spirits that rebelled; and that is, they were all males, for "host" is derived from Hebrew, and means "an army," or "soldiers;" of course, then, the "third part of the hosts of heaven" that left on account of their agency, as angels for Satan, left an equal number of "lady spirits" in a state of single bliss, unfleshified, and unexalted; that is in the good old fashion of one-for-one way of marriage - unless they fell back on the priesthood, as a kind of reserved rights: or, alas! remain as the angels, who never increase in this world or the worlds to come. And if they fall back upon their "reserved rights," and only one hundred and forty four thousand have the claim as Gods, to take them, from the heavenly hosts, there would be more than one hundred to a man, allowing heaven to contain only about eight millions of spirits. But wisdom would indicate a different number, according to the "hundred fold" promised by Jesus. Suppose the present population of the globe to be one thousand millions, and they should only double once in a hundred years: in the space of fifteen hundred years, there would be living on the globe during the last hundred years, no less than forty-five billions, five hundred and thirty thousand millions of human beings, requiring the same number of spirits to animate their bodies - so that a "third of the hosts" actually left matchless, companionless, and bodiless as to flesh, an "innumerable multitude" of women, as worthy and well qualified to multiply and replenish the earth as mother Eve, and her daughters.

Let no one startle at this: for when seven devils left Mary Magdalene, was not the fact established that the devils were "male?" Who ever heard of a devil-ess, or daughter of perdition? Earth and ages reply - NO ONE.

Two nations or manner of spirits certainly enliven the world; for no man gathers grapes from thorns or figs from thistles. The one is governed by Jesus Christ, and the other runs at large for the use of the devil.

And now to conclude, let me ask a few questions. Have the "host of the high ones," who are to be punished on high, obeyed the ordinances referred to in the pattern? Will, or do the kings of the earth, who are to be punished on the earth, obey the ordinances? What! will the angels who kept not their first estate, at the day of judgment, dare say that they obeyed the ordinances? Do the mesmerizers, who exercise so much influence over the will of many, obey the ordinances? Can the spirit rappers, with all their pretended light from the spirit world, declare that they obey the ordinances? Shall we have the satisfaction to hear the magicians and sorcerors of old say, they obeyed the ordinances?

Will any of the master spirits who have endeavored to open the windows of heaven, without entering in at the door, come out like the apostles and assure a wondering world that they have fought the good fight, and obeyed the ordinances? Is it to be expected that Judas, who Jesus said, had better not have been born, will yet come out and brush away the cobwebs of that 'host' of bodiless spirits, and walk the narrow way of eternal life, with the motto on his forehead, "I have obeyed the ordinances?"

Ah! ye mystery-loving, secret-working, self-elated millions, from beginning to end, - on high, on earth, and in hell, - when the trumpet of all earth sounds the answer, the universe will tremble with no! and eternity will echo - NO!! and the regions of the damned will mutter up an awful NO!!!

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