Monday, February 13, 2012

Brigham Young: "What Mystery is There About It?"

The following is the latter portion (minus the two concluding paragraphs) of a discourse given on 8 June 1873 by Brigham Young, apparently following on the heels of a prior discourse by Brigham's brother Joseph Young. The following text is extracted from "Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, June 8th, 1873", The Deseret News 22/20 (18 June 1873): 308-309. Note his discussion of the beginningless of the plurality of Gods; his affirmation that Adam is our God, the creator of the earth who himself had earlier experienced mortality on another world and fathered our spirits after attaining exaltation, and brought one of his wives here as Eve; his sentiment of thankfulness for the Fall; his clear statement that God is still growing in knowledge and will be so forever; and his indication that faithful believers will become Gods and make their own earths.
I wanted to make a few remarks upon the subject touched upon by my brother, but I shall not have the time. I frequently think, in my meditations, how glad we should be to instruct the world with regard to the things of God, if they would hear, and receive our teachings in good and honest hearts and profit by them. I have been found fault with a great many times for casting reflections upon men of science, and especially upon theologians, because of the little knowledge they possess about man being on the earth, about the earth itself, about our Father in heaven, his Son Jesus Christ, the order of heavenly things, the laws by which angels exist, by which the worlds were created and are held in existence, &c. How pleased we would be to place these things before the people if they would receive them! How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me - namely that Adam is our father and our God - I do not know, I do not inquire, I care nothing about it. Our Father Adam helped to make this earth, it was made expressly for him, and after it was made he and his companions came here. He brought one of his wives with him, and she was called Eve, because she was the first woman upon the earth. Our Father Adam is the man who stands at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation to all his children who ever have or who ever will come upon the earth. I have been found fault with by the ministers of religion because I have said that they were ignorant. But I could not find any man on earth who could tell me this, although it is one of the simplest things in the world, until I met and talked with Joseph Smith. Is it a great mystery that the earth exists? Is it a great mystery, that the world can not solve, that man is on the earth? Yes, it is; but to whom? To the ignorant - to those who know nothing about it. It is no mystery to those who understand. Is it a mystery to the Christian world that Jesus is the Son of God, and still the son of man? Yes it is, it is hidden from them, and this fulfils the Scripture - "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost," who have no faith, and who pay no attention to the Spirit of God. These things are called mysteries by the people because they know nothing about them, just like laying hands on the sick. Is it a mystery that fever should be rebuked and the sick healed by the laying on of the hands of a man who is endowed with authority from God and has been ordained to that gift? "Oh yes," say the ignorant, "we know nothing about it." That is true, but where is the mystery? Will the ignorant receive the truth when they hear it? No, they will not, and this is their condemnation, that light has come into the world, and they choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. That is the fact in the case. What is the mystery about it? They do not understand invisible things. Ask the wicked, "Do you know anything about the laying on of hands?" "Oh yes, such a man" - a man who is wicked in his whole life - "has the art of laying on of hands for curing the tooth-ache, fevers, wounds," &c.; and now, in fulfillment of the words of the ancient prophet, thousands of people seek unto "wizards who peep and mutter," &c., but they will not seek unto the living God. I can say to all the inhabitants of the earth that before what is called spiritualism was ever known in America I told the people that if they would not believe the revelations had given he would suffer the devil to give revelations that they - priests and people - would follow after. Where did I declare this? In the cities of New York, Albany, Boston, throughout the United States and in England. Have I seen this fulfilled? I have. I told the people that as true as God lived, if they would not have truth they would have error sent unto them, and they would believe it. What is the mystery of it?

The Christian world read of, and think much about, St. Paul, also St. Peter, the chief of the Apostles. These men were faithful to and magnified the priesthood while they were on the earth. Now, where will be the mystery, after they have passed through all the ordeals, and have been crowned and exalted, and received their inheritances in the eternal worlds of glory, for them to be sent forth, as the Gods have been for ever and ever, with the command - "Make yourselves an earth, and people it with your own children?" Do you think the starry heavens are going to fall? Do the Christian world or the heathen world think that all things are going to be wrapped up, consumed, and annihilated in eternal flames? Oh fools, and slow of heart to believe the great things that God has purposed in his own mind!

My brother said that God is as we are. He did not mean those words to be literally understood. He meant simply, that in our organization we have all the properties in embryo in our bodies that our Father has in his, and that literally, morally, and socially, by the spirit and by the flesh we are his children. Do you think that God, who holds the eternities in his hands and can do all things at his pleasure, is not capable of sending forth his own children, and forming this flesh for his own offspring? Where is the mystery in this? We say that Father Adam came here and helped to make the earth. Who is he? He is Michael, a great prince, and it was said to him by Eloheim, "Go ye and make an earth." What is the great mystery about it? He came and formed the earth. Geologists tell us that it was here millions of years ago. How do they know? They know nothing about it. But suppose it was here, what of it? Adam found it in a state of chaos, unorganized and incomplete. Philosophers, again, in talking of the development of the products of the earth, for instance, in the vegetable kingdom, say the little fibres grew first, then the larger vegetation. When this preparatory stage was completed then came the various orders of the animal creation; and finally man appeared. No matter whether these notions are true or not, they are more or less speculative. Adam came here and got it up in a shape that would suit him to commence business. What is the great mystery about it? None, that I have seen. The mystery in this, as with miracles, or anything else, is only to those who are ignorant. Father Adam came here, and then they brought his wife. "Well," says one, "Why was Adam called Adam"? He was the first man on the earth, and its framer and maker. He, with the help of his brethren, brought it into existence. Then he said, "I want my children who are in the spirit world to come and live here. I once dwelt upon an earth something like this, in a mortal state. I was faithful, I received my crown and exaltation. I have the privilege of extending my work, and to its increase there will be no end. I want my children that were born to me in the spirit world to come here and take tabernacles of flesh, that their spirits may have a house, a tabernacle or a dwelling place as mine has,["] and where is the mystery?

Now for mother Eve. The evil principle always has and always will exist. Well, a certain character came along, and said to Mother Eve, "The Lord has told you that you must not do so and so, for if you do you shall surely die. But I tell you that if you do not do this you will never know good from evil, your eyes will never be opened, and you may live on the earth forever and ever, and you will never know what the Gods know." The devil told the truth, what is the mystery about it? He is doing it to-day. He is telling one or two truths and mixing them with a thousand errors to get people to swallow them. I do not blame Mother Eve, I would not have had her miss eating the forbidden fruit for anything in the world. I would not give a groat if I could not understand light from darkness. I can understand the bitter from the sweet, so can you. Here is intelligence, but bind it up and make machines of its possessors, and where is the glory or exaltation? There is none. They must pass through the same ordeals as the Gods, that they may know good from evil, how to succor the tempted, tried and weak, and how to reach down the hand of mercy to save the failing sinner. The Lord has revealed his gospel and instituted its ordinances that the inhabitants of the earth may be put in possession of eternal life. But few of them, however, will accept it. I have preached it to many thousands of them who are naturally just as honest as I am, but through tradition there is an overwhelming prejudice in their minds which debars them of that liberty I have in my heart. They would be glad to know the ways of God, and to know who Jesus is, and to reap the reward of the faithful, if they had the stamina, I will call it, the independence of mind necessary to embrace the truth, to say, "I know this is true, and if there is no other person on the face of this earth who will defend it, I will to the last." But this is not in their hearts, it is not in their organization, consequently they do not manifest it. What mystery is there about it? None whatever. What is the mystery in Jesus being the Son of God and at the same time the son of the Virgin Mary? You know what the infidels say about this, but their words are no worse than the practice of many in the Christian world.

I do not want to be found fault with, but if I am it is all the same to me. There is no mystery to me in what God has revealed to me, or in what I have learned, whether it has been through Joseph, an angel, the voice of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost or the Spirit of the Lord; no matter how I have learned a thing, if I understand it perfectly it is no mystery to me. It is like making one of these pulpits, or a house like this. This is no mystery to me, I dictated it, and a great many say it is a great piece of architecture to have a single span, so large as this roof and composed of wood that will sustain itself. But it is no mystery to me. I know the strength of the materials and how to place them together. It is no mystery to me to build a temple or a common house. But you take a gentleman or lady who was never beyond the confines of a densely populated city, who never saw wheat grow, and who never saw cattle in the fields, and it is a great mystery to them to see them. Why? Because they never saw such things before, and they know nothing about them, but it is no mystery to those who know all about such things. Do you think it is any mystery to angels to know how the various organizations are brought on earth? Not the least in the world. There is no mystery in all this to the Gods, no mystery in them to the prophets and apostles whom they send, and to whom they reveal them; it is all plain, every day, common sense, just as much so as with anything else in the world - we understand it.

Some may say to me, "Why, Brother Brigham, you seem to know it all." I say, "Oh no, I know but very little, but I have an eternity of knowledge before me, and I never expect to see the time when I shall cease to learn, never, no never, but I expect to keep on learning for ever and ever, going on from exaltation to exaltation, glory to glory, power to power, ever pressing forward to greater and higher attainments, as the Gods do. That is an idea that drowns the whole Christian world in a moment. Let them try to entertain it and they are out of sight of land without a ship, and if they had a ship it would have neither sail, rudder nor compass. "What," they say, "God progress?" Now, do not lariet the God that I serve and say that he can not learn any more; I do not believe in such a character. "Why," they say, "does not the Lord know it all?" Well, if he does, he must know an immense amount. No matter about that, the mind of man does not reach that any more than it comprehends the heaven beyond the bounds of time and space in which the Christians expect to sit and sing themselves away to everlasting bliss, and where they say they shall live for ever and for ever.

If we look forward we can actually comprehend a little of the idea that we shall live for ever and ever; but you take a rearsight, and try and contemplate and meditate upon the fact that there never was a beginning and you are lost at once. The present and the future we can comprehend some little about, and the past is all a blank, and it is right and reasonable that it should be so. But if we are faithful in the things of God they shall open up, our minds will expand, reach forth and receive more and more, and by and by we can begin to see that the Gods have been for ever and for ever.

Some of our philosophers have tried to reveal the first cause. I would change the position of the whole affair. I would plant my position in the ignorance of man that undertakes to prove or show the existence of a first cause. He had better go to work and prove himself a fool to begin with and then stop, for all his reasonings, arguments and researches with regard to the first cause only prove that he is a fool. Excuse me for this rough expression, perhaps it would be better to say that he comes far short of knowing or understanding himself in the least degree, and his researches are contracted to that degree that he is lost in ignorance of himself. Is this the fact? It is. We can know nothing until we learn it, and when we come to a knowledge of facts they are no mystery to us. Take one of these native Navajo women down south here into a factory and show her the machinery for weaving baskets, and if she has never seen anything of the kind she would laugh at such nonsense. Says she, "That is not the way to weave blankets, why do you not tie your web up to the limb of a tree, fasten the other end down, and then take a stick and do just so? That will never weave a blanket." By and by she sees the blanket finished, but it is a mystery to her, and she can not understand anything about it, because she has not learned it. It is so with the whole human family.

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