Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Man's Destiny": An LDS View from 1899

Albert Arrowsmith (1861-1936) was an English-born convert to the LDS faith, having been baptized in July 1883.  He served a two-year mission in his homeland of Great Britain in 1894-1896 and then went on to serve in the Southern States Mission.  Shortly after his arrival in Tennessee on 16 February 1899, he was called on to serve as president of the Kentucky Conference on 16 April 1899 and then, shortly thereafter, as president of the newly organized North Kentucky Conference.  The following article by Elder Albert Arrowsmith originally appeared as "Man's Destiny", Latter Day Saints Southern Star 1/35 (29 July 1899): 277-278.
Man is a most peculiar study, but as one writer observes, "There is nothing great on earth but man, and nothing great in man but mind," cannot we readily understand that the mind and intelligent part of that dual incarnation, came from above, and is a product of Deity, but in its hampered state, in mortality, realizes little, but nevertheless, is Lord of all animated creation.  He alone being subject to God, his Father, whose laws must be obeyed, or justifiable punishment is meted out with merciful severity according to the crime committed.  For illustration, let us take Father Adam, who came here clothed with immortality, a perfect man, an image of his Creator, one who, inclusive with all creation, was pronounced very good, unquestionably perfect, physically, mentally, and spiritually, but having lost his identity, was evidently lacking a knowledge of evil, which was essential to full perfection, to sit among the Gods as an impartial judge, if the knowledge of good and evil is necessary to make a righteous judge.  The plan prepared by our Father before the world was, is grand and feasible; and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the proper way to become as Gods, "knowing good and evil," for if a man did not have sorrow, could he comprehend suffering or appreciate joy?  If he never saw darkness could he understand the beauties of sunlight?  If the bitter was not tasted, sweetness would not be enjoyed, and a man not initiated in this knowledge would be incompetent, and lacking in intelligence, and the glory of God being intelligence, he designs us, His sons and daughters, to become like Him.  Therefore, in this stage of progression, He created this tree of knowledge of good and evil, and gave a law, with a penalty affixed, that if the fruit were partaken, they should die.  There was design in all this.  The tree being prominently located in the center of that beautiful garden, and no doubt was very desirable to look upon, so that transgression was easy, and the Father who knew the end from the beginning, was satisfied the fruit would be partaken of, fulfilling the end intended originally, by placing the tree in such prominence, which was a perfect knowledge.  Adam and Eve, apparently, did not know what light, joy, happiness and goodness were, (which appears strange, as they had dwelt in such an environment from their creation), and could not appreciate nor understand the light which shone so resplendently from their God, in daily contact and communion, until that was shut off, which was the spiritual death, and gross darkness covered their minds, obliterating from view that vast spiritual creation, which originated before the world was.  Oh! what a change was wrought.  We can but faintly understand the vastness of that fall, which affected all creation, turning life into death, pleasure to pain, fruitful fields into deserts, and scattering devastation and desolation throughout the domain of the earth, that man might be perfected, and brought to a knowledge that God designed he should have among the intelligences created by Him, primevally.  What a work, oh man is thane, taking thy inception from God, dwelling with Him from the beginning, shouting for joy in contemplation of an evolution from a spiritual entity, to a perfected man; being both spiritual and mortal, provided with a tabernacle in which that spirit might dwell.  What a comprehensive design!  And how glorious the designer!  God, who created all things, first spiritually, both vegetable, and animal.  With what joy we would look forward to the time when we could take upon us mortality, learn the lessons pertaining to this existence, progress and advance, preparing for the great change death brings to pass, a transitory condition, which is involved in this great evolutionary principle of progression.
With what glee we accepted this perfect plan can only be understood by God's word: "All the Sons of God shouted for joy."  We left our spiritual abode, where since the rebellion, and the casting forth of Lucifer and his myrmidons, we dwelt so peacefully in unity, coming here, possibly, not fully realizing the extent of our fall, not thoroughly sensing it in our primeval state, a veil kindly interposing, shutting out our previous knowledge, friends, associations, joys, all lost to our memory, inheriting mortality as a little child, not possessed of ordinary brute intelligence: but placed below all animated creations - not able to control any of the senses, but entirely dependent for life and sustenance upon the nurse: yet, that dormant and imperfect mind, might be in embryo, an Alexander, Napoleon, a Socrates, or Cicero, who can tell what mighty achievements he as a man, might attain unto?  There may be in that mind latent powers to revolutionize a world.  How mysterious are thy works, Oh God, might be applied to this senseless atom, nevertheless grand piece of mechanism, and what design is shown forth in raising this animated piece of clay from ignorance and degradation to the pinnacle of perfection and exaltation.  It is beyond the comprehension of man in mortality, to entirely fathom the handiwork of God, but we can see existing design, order, and law, on the part of the Maker and on the part of the creature made an innate inclination of adoration and worshipful respect for Deity which argues that we are part of that Deity, and a spark implanted by our residence in a purer existence, which gem, shines and shows its lustre, despite all the allurments held up so glowingly by that arch fiend, Lucifer, and which causes a pleasureable feeling in doing good and working acts of righteousness, and causes us, when in despair, to cry "Abba! Father."  Satan has tried many devices to break down this innate feeling, and desire for reliance on an omnipotent God, and has introduced idolatry and infidelity in their various forms, and also a system of evolution calling nature, the great God and panacea for all human ills, and tries to make intelligent men believe he originally came from the jelly fish, or some other low form of life, and that his antecedents were monkeys.  What preposterous ideas men do get, trying to unfathom the mysteries of Godliness without His spiritual aid, so that by a constant rejection of that light originally implanted, darkness arises and men run after devises of Lucifer - vagaries and hypothesis, cunningly implanted by a rejection of God's laws as "the spirit of God will not always strive with man, and the things of God are only understood by the spirit of God."  By this spirit we see our Creator deliniated in all things, from the grand planetary systems of the smallest animaleue, and we can realize that this nature, so called, is the life giving element which rules, governs, and controls all things, being one of the component parts of the eternal elements, and without which we cannot exist.  It is the great spirit of God disseminated throughout all space and part of that great triune Godhead, being the Holy Ghost, which leads into all truth.  By giving proper heed and respect to this spirit, man will be led to honor law, and observe the commands of his Maker, he will be led to know the mind and will of God, hence an investigation of the Holy Scriptures as this agency, and unbiased mind, must "prove all things and hold fast that which is good," and if man will study the Bible in this way he cannot but come to the conclusion that it is the word of God, as he can compare profane, ancient and modern history with modern archaeological investigations, which testify beyond a peradventure, as to the divinity of that Book, and man can gain such light from its perusal and by the observance of the laws and commands therein written, to know without a doubt, his position here, and part of God's plan in placing him in this great mundane sphere.  He can then see how necessary the fall by Adam, "that man might be," and to obtain that perfect knowledge - also the necessity of the Redeemer to atone for the fall and to act as our mediator with the Father, and we can see the necessity of the Everlasting Gospel, or code of laws, with the powers of God's priesthood, and his authorized delegated servants in counteraction to the priesthood of Lucifer, who sways mankind with such power.  It is not reasonable to suppose that our Father would leave us entirely to the mercy of our fallen brother, Satan, but the warfare which originated in heaven, is continued here, and will not terminate until mankind is sanctified and redeemed in God's presence, and every knee bow, and tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Lord of all.  He came in the meridian of time, and thoroughly substantiated his claims as the "first born among many brethren," our Redeemer, and our God, and left us his laws which, by a compliance thereto will restore us back into His presence and make us a joint heir, and one with Him, as He is one with the Father.  Can you my brethren and sisters, conceive the excellence of this great exaltation to be one with Christ?  Is it not to be a God?  It certainly is.  Would not our earthly parent desire us to walk in his footsteps, he being an exemplary man?  Yes: then why should not our Heavenly Father, who is full of love, mercy and all perfections, wish to bring us up to that plane of excellence as himself.  Oh! ambitious man, grovelling in darkness, lift up thy head and shout "Excelsior," as there is no end to progression among the Gods.  You may inquire respecting the laws of Jesus, which are absolutely essential to place you in that straight and narrow path which few find in this life.  They are faith, repentance, baptism, to remit sins, laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, spoken of which leads into all truth, these gifts and blessings, being administered by a duly authorized minister of God.  Then a life of purity, and meritorious conduct engendered by close communion with God, through prayer, all of which will lead you towards the goal of your high calling in Jesus Christ, to become one with Him in the celestial city, trusting you may press forward towards this mark and gain the prize.

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