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Dissolving Spirits

I was asked recently if our Spirit Bodies are permanent.

I will let Brigham Young answer this. Please bear with this, as it is lengthy, but each statement adds upon the other and his view, I think, will be made clear by careful reading. I have made bold certain parts for emphasis on this subject:

You may ask any practical chemist, any man who knows, understands, and studies the elements, and he will corroborate these statements. This is a matter I want you to look at, to think and meditate upon. I do not talk about the expense of the building, and the time it would take to erect it, but its durability, and which is the best material within our reach to build it with. If you take this clay, which is to be found in abundance on these bottom lands, and mix with it these pebble rocks, and make adobies of the compound, it will petrify in the wall and become a solid rock in five hundred years, so as to be fit to cut into millstones to grind flour, while the other materials I have mentioned will have decomposed, and gone back to their native elements. I am chemist enough to know that much. My simple philosophy is this. The elements of which this terra firma is composed, are every moment either composing or decomposing. They commence to organize or to compose, and continue to grow until they arrive at their zenith of perfection, and then they begin to decompose. When you find a rock that has arrived at its greatest perfection, you may know that the work of decaying has begun. Let the practical chemist make his observations upon a portion of the matter of which this earth is composed; and he will find, that just as quick as it is at its perfection, that very instant it begins to decompose. We have proof of this. Go into Egypt, for instance, and you will find the monuments, towers, and pyramids, that were erected in the days of Joseph, and before he was sold into Egypt; they were built of what we call adobies, clay mixed up with straw; these fabrics, which have excited interest for so many ages and are the wonder of modern nations, were built of this raw material. They have bid defiance to the wear of ages, and they still remain. But you cannot find a stone column that was reared in those times, for they are all decayed. Here we have actual proof that the matter which is the furthest advanced to a state of perfection, is the first to decompose, and go back into its native element, at which point it begins to be organized again, it begins to congeal, petrify, and harden into rock, which grows like a tree, but not so perceptibly.
--BY Oct 9, 1852

The principle opposite to that of eternal increase from the beginning, leads down to hell; the person decreases, loses his knowledge, tact, talent, and ultimately, in a short period of time, is lost; he returns to his mother earth, his name is forgotten. But where, Oh! where is his spirit? I will not now take the time to follow his destiny; but here, strong language could be used, for when the Lord Jesus Christ shall be revealed, after the termination of the thousand years' rest, he will summon the armies of heaven for the conflict, he will come forth in flaming fire, he will descend to execute the mandates of an incensed God, and, amid the thunderings of the wrath of Omnipotence, roll up the heavens as a scroll, and destroy death, and him that has the power of it. The rebellious will be thrown back into their native element, there to remain myriads of years before their dust will again be revived, before they will be re-organized. Some might argue that this principle would lead to the re-organization of Satan, and all the devils. I say nothing about this, only what the Lord says--that when he comes, "he will destroy death, and him that has the power of it." It cannot be annihilated; you cannot annihilate matter. If you could, it would prove there was empty space. If philosophers could annihilate the least conceivable amount of matter, they could then prove there was the minutest vacuum, or empty space; but there is not even that much, and it is beyond the power of man to prove that there is any.
--BY Feb 27, 1853

The people in this age, are like the old miser, whose latter end was drawing nigh; he had saved a good purse of gold, but he was blind and could not see it, so he requested the attendants to bring him the gold that he might put his hand on it; when he laid his hand upon it, he could go to sleep. He possessed the negative of true riches. Again, they are like the man who found a lump of gold which weighed 100 pounds, the last that was heard of him was, he was sitting upon it, offering a great price to the passers by for something to eat, and swearing that if he had to starve to death, he would stick by the gold, and die a rich man. If he had understood the principles of life--the principles of true riches, he could have commanded that gold in California, in England, or anywhere else; but he had no power over it, and died like a fool, no doubt. What good was his gold to him? He had not the power of endless life in him, particles which compose his body and spirit will return to their native element. I told you some time ago what would become of such men. But I will quote the Scriptures on this point, and you can make what you please of it. Jesus says, he will DESTROY death and him that hath the power of it. What can you make of this but decomposition, the returning of the organized particles to their native element, after suffering the wrath of God until the time appointed. That appears a mystery, but the principle has been in existence from all eternity, only it is something you have not known or thought of. When the elements in an organized form do not fill the end of their creation, they are thrown back again, like brother Kimball's old pottery ware, to be ground up, and made over again. All I have to say about it is what Jesus says--I will destroy Death, and him that hath the power of it, which is the devil. And if he ever makes "a full end of the wicked," what else can he do than entirely disorganize them, and reduce them to their native element? Here are some of the mysteries of the kingdom.

On the other hand, let us take the affirmative of the question; and inquire what is life and salvation? It is to take that course wherein we can abide for ever and ever, and be exalted to thrones, kingdoms, governments, dominions, and have full power to control the elements, according to our pleasure to all eternity; the one is life, and the other is death, which is nothing more or less than the decomposition of organized native element. There can be no such thing as power to annihilate element. There is one eternity of element, which can be organized or disorganized, composed or decomposed; it may be put into this shape or into that, according to the will of the intelligence that commands it, but there is no such thing as putting it entirely out of existence.
--BY, August 14, 1853

We have no shirt-collar dignity to sustain, for we have no character, only such as our friends and enemies give us. It is only a shadow, and we are willing that they should have the shadow, and make the name of our President honourable, if we can. They are welcome to traduce our character, if they choose; but they must not undertake to walk us under foot, contrary to every principle of the Constitution, right, and law. The character of those who are such sticklers for it will perish, for they are taking the downward road to destruction. They will be decomposed, both soul and body, and return to their native element. I do not say that they will be annihilated; but they will be disorganized, and will be as though they never had been, while we will live and retain our identity, and contend against those principle which tend to death or dissolution. I am after life; I want to preserve my identity, so that you can see Brigham in the eternal worlds just as you see him now. I want to see that eternal principle of life dwelling within us which will exalt us eternally in the presence of our Father and God. If you wish to retain your present identity in the morn of the resurrection, you must so live that the principle of life will be within you as a well of water springing up unto eternal life.
--BY June 27, 1858

All organized matter must dissolve and return to its native element, unless it is made pure and holy--capable of enduring eternal burnings.
--BY Oct 7, 1859

"Why," some say, "we thought that the wicked were to be sent to hell to dwell with eternal burnings for evermore." They go to hell and will stay there until the anger of the Almighty consumes them and they become disorganized, as the elements of the fuel we burn are disorganized by the action of fire and thrown back again to their native element. The wicked will endure the wrath of God and be "turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God." What will be done with them there? Those who did not persecute the Son of God in the flesh while acting for themselves and following the direction of their own will--those who did not persecute the holy Priesthood of the Son of God--those who did not consent to the shedding of innocent blood--those who did not seek to obliterate the kingdom of God from the earth, will, by-and-by, be sought after.
--BY Oct 9, 1859

No matter how many deny their God and their religion, God is the same, his holy religion is the same, and all the truth is the same. There is no plan, no device, no possible way in which we can get rid of "Mormonism," only by taking the downward road which leads to hell, until spiritually and temporally the whole organized being is dissolved and the particles thereof have returned again to native elements. We read in the Scriptures of the second death not having power over certain ones. The first death is the separation of the spirit from the body; the second death is, as I have stated, the dissolution of the organized particles which compose the spirit, and their return to their native element. The wicked spirit will have to endure the wrath of the Almighty, until it has paid the uttermost farthing where the "worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." Every debt that has been contracted by it must be cancelled.
--BY Jan 12, 1862

Now I ask the Latter-day Saints, have you anything to fear? Yes, you have. Have I anything to fear? Yes. What is it? I fear lest I may slacken in my faith and obedience in living as the Spirit of the Lord Almighty has required me to live, and is urging this people to live, so that we may be worthy to build up Zion. Have you or I anything else to be afraid of? No; not at all. I have no fear of heavenly beings, for they are my friends. I want to go to their society and to be associated with them. I like some of God's messengers, who travel about, to visit me. I am fond of their society. I like the spirits that dwell there. I want to go home; I want to go back again and live there for ever. Why, the thought that the intelligence that is brought into existence here, may be annihilated, is enough to make one shudder! There are some who go so far in their unbelief that they deny the resurrection of the body; and even to say that the soul sleeps eternally. What is the use of your intelligence, what is it good for if this be true? There is no such thing as destroying element! There is no such philosophy as annihilation. If the spirit should return to native element the element would not be destroyed; the particles of matter will remain for ever. There are some now getting so lofty in their imaginations, and so wise and intelligent in their own estimation that they pretend to explain all the mysteries of the past, present and future. They are like some called Latter-day Saints; they can talk very glibly about the principles of what they term the Gospel; but the practical workings of the religion of the Savior they know or care little about. You come to the Latter-day Saints, and you may find plenty who talk their religion a great deal; you may find a hundred willing even to die for it to one who is willing to live it. If all were willing to live it we would risk the dying; we care nothing about that. We shall all go sooner or later. We shall not stay in this world in our present condition for ever. Something or other will divide this intelligence or spirit from the body which it inhabits; and the tabernacle will go down to dust. Our spirits will not sleep an eternal sleep, but our bodies will be resurrected, and our spirits and our bodies will be reunited; and all who believe to the contrary are in a state of darkness, wretchedness and unbelief.
--BY April 17, 1870

There are but two roads, one in the way of life, glory and excellency, and crowns, and kingdoms, immortality and eternal lives; the other is drunkenness, debauchery, beautiful manners in the light, but shameful conduct in the dark. "O!" say they, "don't you think we are wise? Why, we are very wise, we have studied and been to college." Yes, I know the extent of your wisdom. I now, too, the road you are traveling; it leads down, down, down, until you become as nothing, returning to native element, and losing your identity,--you are lost forever and forever. These are they who have sinned away the day of grace, and denied the Lord, who bought them.
--BY Sept 17, 1876

Spirit and intelligence is Eternal. Spirits (Meaning Spirit Bodies) are clearly not.

I find especially interesting the quote that was dated Oct 7, 1859. Apparently part of our Exaltation is that we get to experience eternal burnings!

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Mark, if you are referring to "the matter which is the furthest advanced to a state of perfection, is the first to decompose", I usually interpret this differently and to me it makes good sense: Those who are highest advanced in the Gospel, if they fall from it, decompose more quickly than those who are just beginning to understand it. Or, to put it another way, the only ones eligible to become the Sons of Perdition, are those who have a true testimony of Christ. Also, the Universe which had its "Big Bang" far enough back, is the first to "Big Crunch" back together. (The literal Gathering... Planetary gathering, that is.)

Your reference to Alma 11, must be primarily to verse 45:

Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.

This is certainly a difficult verse, because it clearly causes difficulties in understanding relating to many of the things early LDS leaders taught. The most difficult phrase is "their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided", to which I don't have a clear answer.