Essential Parley P. Pratt
Foreword by Peter L. Crawley
“Keys of the Mysteries of the Godhead”
(from Key to the Science of Theology: Designed as An Introduction to the First Principles of Spiritual Philosophy; Religion; Law and Government; as Delivered by the Ancients, and as Restored in this Age, for the Final Development of Universal Peace, Truth and Knowledge [Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855])
[p.184]Eternal Father, Being without end! Thy glorious fulness who can comprehend! Thine own infinitude alone is fraught With attributes to swell a human thought, To grasp thy knowledge, or thy nature scan. As Father of the endless race of man. “This is life eternal: to know the only true and living God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.”
Since the decline of the science of Theology, a mystery, dark and deep, has shrouded the human mind, in regard to the person and nature of the Eternal Father, and of Jesus Christ, His son.
Councils of the fathers, and wise men of Christendom, have assembled again and again, in order to solve the mystery of Godliness, and fix some standard or creed upon which all parties might rest and be agreed.
This, however, was not in their power. It is impossible for the world by its wisdom to find out God. “Neither knoweth any man the Father save the son, and he to whomsoever the son will reveal him.”
The key to the science of Theology, is the key of divine revelation. Without this key, no man, no assemblage of men, ever did, or ever will know the Eternal Father, or Jesus Christ.
When the key of revelation was lost to man, the knowledge of God was lost. And as life eternal depended on the knowledge of God, of course the key of eternal life was also lost.
Oh the mysteries, the absurdities, the contentions, the quarrels, the bloodshed, the infidelity, the senseless and conflicting theories, which have grown and multiplied among sectaries on this subject!
Among these theories, we will notice one, which is, perhaps, more extensively received by different sects than any other. The language runs thus—”There is one only living and true God, without body, parts, or passions; consisting of three persons—the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
[p.185]It is painful to the human mind to be compelled to admit, that such wonderful inconsistencies of language or ideas, have ever found place in any human creed. Yet, so it is.
It is but another way of saying, that there is a God who does not exist, a God who is composed of nonentity, who is the negative of all existence, who occupies no space, who exists in no time, who is composed of no substance, known or unknown, and who has no powers or properties in common with any thing or being known to exist, or which can possibly be conceived of, as existing either in the heavens or on the earth.
Such a God could never be seen, heard, or felt, by any being in the universe.
There never has been a visible idol worshipped among men, which was so powerless as this “God without body, parts, or passions.”
The god of Egypt, the crocodile, could destroy.
The images of different nations could be felt and seen.
The Peruvian god, the Sun, could diffuse its genial warmth, light, and influence.
But not so with the God without “body, parts, or passions.”
That which has no parts, has no whole.
Beings which have no passions, have no soul.
Before we can introduce the keys and powers of practical Theology to the understanding of men in this age, we must, of necessity, place within their comprehension some correct ideas of the true God.
It is written that, “without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Those who do not please Him, can never partake of the powers and gifts of the science of Theology, because the keys and powers of this science emanate from Him as a free gift, but they are never given to those with whom He is not well pleased. The individual who would partake of this power, must therefore have faith in Him. But how can he believe in a being of whom he has no correct idea?
So vague, so foreign from the simple plain truth, are the ideas of the present age, so beclouded is the modern mind with mysticism, spiritual nonentity, or immateriality in nearly all of its ideas of the person or persons of the Deity, that we are constrained to use the language of an ancient apostle, as addressed to the learned of Athens—“Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.”
Although there are facts in our own existence, which are beyond our present comprehension or capacity, which is true, in a higher sense, in relation to the Godhead, still the limited knowledge we are able to comprehend in relation to ourselves, may at least be rational, and be as clearly conveyed and understood as any other subject. So with our knowledge of Deity. Although there are facts beyond our reach in [p.186]relation to His existence, attributes, and power, yet that which we may know and comprehend or express of Him, should be divested of all mystery, and should be as clearly conceived, expressed, and conveyed as any other item of truth or of science.
Jesus Christ, a little babe like all the rest of us have been, grew to be a man, was filled with a divine substance or fluid, called the Holy Spirit, by which he comprehended and spake the truth in power and authority; and by which he controlled the elements, and imparted health and life to those who were prepared to partake of the same.
This man died, being put to death by wicked men.
He arose from the dead the third day, and appeared to his disciples. These disciples, on seeing him, supposed him to be a spirit only.
They may have possessed some of the vague ideas of men in more modern times, in regard to an immaterial existence beyond the grave: an existence unconnected with any real or tangible matter, or substance.
But their risen Lord adopted the most simple means of dispersing their mysticism, their spiritual vagaries or immateriality. He called upon them to handle him and see, “For,” said he, “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”
They accordingly handled him, examined the prints of the nails in his hands and feet, and the mark of the spear in his side. But, as if this was not enough in order to familiarize them still more with the facts of a material or tangible immortality, he ate and drank with them—partaking of a broiled fish and an honey-comb.
In short, he was with them for forty days, in which he walked, talked, ate, drank, taught, prophesied, commanded, commissioned, reasoned with and blessed them, thus familiarizing to them that immortality and eternal life which he wished them to teach in all the world.
He then ascended up in their presence, toward that planet where dwelt his Father and their Father, his God and their God.
While he was yet in sight in the open firmament, and they stood gazing upward, behold! two men stood by them in white raiment, and said—
“Ye men of Galilee why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Here, then, we have a sample of an immortal God—a God who is often declared in the Scriptures to be like his father, “being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,” and possessing the same attributes as his Father, in all their fulness; a God not only possessing body and parts, but flesh and bones, and sinews, and all the attributes, organs, senses, and affections of a perfect man.
He differs in nothing from his Father, except in age and authority, [p.187]the Father having the seniority, and, consequently, the right, according to the Patriarchal laws of eternal Priesthood, to preside over him, and over all his dominions, for ever and ever.
While on the one hand, this God claims affinity and equality, as it were, with his Father, he claims, on the other hand, affinity and equality with his brethren, on the earth, with this difference, however, that his person is a specimen of Divine, eternal Humanity, immortalized, and with attributes perfected; while his brethren who dwell in mortal flesh, although children of the same royal Parent in the heavens, are not yet immortalized, as it regards their fleshly tabernacles, and are not perfected in their attributes; and although joint heirs, are younger, he being the first born among many brethren in the spiritual world. They are therefore subject to him.
But every man who is eventually made perfect—raised from the dead, and filled or quickened, with a fulness of celestial glory, will become like them in every respect, physically, and in intellect, attributes or powers.
The very germs of these Godlike attributes, being engendered in man, the offspring of Deity, only need cultivating, improving, developing, and advancing by means of a series of progressive changes, in order to arrive at the fountain “Head,” the standard, the climax of Divine Humanity.
The difference between Jesus Christ and his Father is this—one is subordinate to the other, does nothing of himself, independently of the Father, but does all things in the name and by the authority of the Father, being of the same mind in all things. The difference between Jesus Christ and another immortal and celestial man is this—the man is subordinate to Jesus Christ, does nothing in and of himself, but does all things in the name of Christ, and by his authority, being of the same mind, and ascribing all the glory to him and his Father.
On account of the double relationship of Jesus Christ—with God the Father on one hand, and with man on the other, many have adopted the creed, that “Two whole and perfect natures” were blended in the person of Jesus Christ; that he was every way a God, and every way a man; as if God and man were two distinct species. This error came by reason of not knowing ourselves. For just in proportion as we comprehend ourselves in our true light, and our relationships and affinities with the past, present and future, with time and eternity, with Gods, angels, spirits and men, who have gone before us, and who will come after us, so, in proportion, we may be able to benefit by the keys of the mysteries of the Godhead, or, in other words, to know and comprehend Jesus Christ and his Father.
Gods, angels and men, are all of one species, one race, one great [p.188]family widely diffused among the planetary systems, as colonies, kingdoms, nations, &c.
The great distinguishing difference between one portion of this race and another, consists in the varied grades of intelligence and purity, and also in the variety of spheres occupied by each, in the series of progressive being.
An immortal man, possessing a perfect organization of spirit, flesh, and bones, and perfected in his attributes, in all the fulness of celestial glory, is called a God.
An immortal man, in progress of perfection, or quickened with a lesser degree of glory, is called an angel.
An immortal spirit of man, not united with a fleshly tabernacle, is called a spirit.
An immortal man, clothed with a mortal tabernacle, is called a man.
It may then consistently enough be said, that there are, in a subordinate sense, a plurality of Gods, or rather of the sons of God; although there is one Supreme Head, who is over all, and through all, and in all His sons, by the power of His Spirit.
Jesus Christ and his Father are two persons, in the same sense as John and Peter are two persons. Each of them has an organized, individual tabernacle, embodied in material form, and composed of material substance, in the likeness of man, and possessing every organ, limb, and physical part that man possesses.
There is no more mystery connected with their oneness, than there is in the oneness of Enoch and Elijah, or of Paul and Silas.
Their oneness consists of a oneness of spirit, intelligence, attributes, knowledge, or power.
If Enoch, Elijah, Abraham, Peter, Paul, and millions of others ever attain to the immortal life, and their fleshly tabernacles be quickened by a fulness of celestial life, intelligence and power, then it can be said of them, they are one, as the Father and Son are one.
It could then be said of each of them, in him dwells all the fulness of the powers and attributes of the Eternal God, or, in other words, he possesses endless life, together with all intelligence, knowledge, light, and power. He therefore has the same mind as all the others—is in communication and in perfect union with each and all of them.
All these are Gods, or sons of God—they are the Kings, Princes, Priests and Nobles of Eternity. But over them all there is a Presidency or Grand Head, who is the Father of all. And next unto him is Jesus Christ, the eldest born, and first heir of all the realms of light.
Every person knows, by reflection, that intelligence may be imparted without diminishing the store possessed by the giver. Therefore it [p.189]follows, that millions of individual beings may each receive all the attributes of eternal life, and light, and power.
Again it follows, that in the use of this power, by consent and authority of the head, any one of these Gods, may create, organize, people, govern, control, exalt, glorify and enjoy worlds on worlds, and the inhabitants thereof; or, in other words, each of them can find room in the infinitude of space, and unoccupied chaotic elements in the boundless storehouse of eternal riches, with which to erect for himself thrones, principalities, and powers, over which to reign in still increasing might, majesty and dominion, for ever and ever.
All these are kingdoms which, together with their Kings, are in subordination to the great Head and Father of all, and to Jesus Christ the first born, and first heir, among the sons of God.
All these kingdoms, with all their intelligences, are so many acquisitions to His dominion who is Lord of lords, and King of kings, and of whom it is written, by the Prophet Isaiah, “Of the increase of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
All these are so many colonies of our race, multiplied, extended, transplanted, and existing for ever and ever, as occupants of the numberless planetary systems which do now exist, or which will roll into order, and be peopled by the operations of the Holy Spirit, in obedience to the mandates of the sons of God.
These kingdoms present every variety and degree in the progress of the great science of life, from the lowest degradation amid the realms of death, or the rudimental stages of elementary existence, upward through all the ascending scale, or all the degrees of progress in the science of eternal life and light, until some of them in turn arise to thrones of eternal power.
Each of these Gods, including Jesus Christ and his Father, being in possession of not merely an organized spirit, but a glorious immortal body of flesh and bones, is subject to the laws which govern, of necessity, even the most refined order of physical existence.
All physical element, however embodied, quickened, or refined, is subject to the general laws necessary to all existence.
Some of these laws are as follows—
First. Each atom, or embodiment of atoms, necessarily occupies a certain amount of space.
Second. No atom, or embodiment of atoms, can occupy the identical space occupied by other atoms or bodies.
Third. Each individual organized intelligence must possess the power of self motion to a greater or less degree.
Fourth. All voluntary motion implies an inherent will, to originate and direct such motion.
[p.190]Fifth. Motion, of necessity, implies that a certain amount of time is necessary, in passing from one portion of space to another.
These laws are absolute and unchangeable in their nature, and apply to all intelligent agencies which do or can exist.
They, therefore, apply with equal force to the great, supreme, eternal Father of the heavens and of the earth, and to His meanest subjects.
It is, therefore, an absolute impossibility for God the Father, or Jesus Christ, to be everywhere personally present.
The omnipresence of God must therefore be understood in some other way than of His bodily or personal presence.
This leads to the investigation of that substance called the Holy Spirit.
As the mind passes the boundaries of the visible world, and enters upon the confines of the more refined and subtle elements, it finds itself associated with certain substances in themselves invisible to our gross organs, but clearly manifested to our intellect by their tangible operations and effects.
The very air we breathe, although invisible to our sight, is clearly manifested to our sense of feeling. Its component parts may be analyzed. Nay more, the human system itself is an apparatus which performs a chemical process upon that element. It is received into the system by the act of respiration, and there immediately undergoes the separation of its component parts.
The one part, retained and incorporated in the animal system, diffuses life and animation, by supplying the necessary animal heat, &c., while the other part, not adapted to the system, is discharged from the lungs to mingle with its native element.
There are several of these subtle, invisible substances but little understood as yet by man, and their existence is only demonstrated by their effects. Some of them are recognized under the several terms, electricity, galvanism, magnetism, animal magnetism, spiritual magnetism, essence, spirit, &c.
The purest, most refined and subtle of all these substances, and the one least understood, or even recognized, by the less informed among mankind, is that substance called the Holy Spirit.
This substance, like all others, is one of the elements of material or physical existence, and therefore subject to the necessary laws which govern all matter, as before enumerated.
Like the other elements, its whole is composed of individual particles. Like them, each particle occupies space, possesses the power of motion, requires time to move from one part of space to another, and can in no wise occupy two spaces at once. In all these respects it differs nothing from all other matter.
[p.191]This substance is widely diffused among the elements of space. This Holy Spirit, under the control of the Great Eloheim, is the grand moving cause of all intelligences, and by which they act.
This is the great, positive, controlling element of all other elements. It is omnipresent by reason of the infinitude of its particles, and it comprehends all things.
It is the controlling agent or executive, which organizes and puts in motion all worlds, and which, by the mandate of the Almighty, or of any of His commissioned agents, performs all the mighty wonders, signs and miracles, ever manifested in the name of the Lord—the turning of the earth backward on its axis, the dividing of the sea, the removing of a mountain, the raising of the dead, or the healing of the sick.
It penetrates the pores of the most solid substances, pierces the human system to its most inward recesses, discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. It has power to move through space with an inconceivable velocity, far exceeding the tardy motions of electricity, or of physical light.
It comprehends the past, present, and future, in all their fulness. Its inherent properties enbrace all the attributes of intelligence and affection.
It is endowed with knowledge, wisdom, truth, love, charity, justice, and mercy, in all their ramifications.
In short, it is the attributes of the eternal power and Godhead.
Those beings who receive of its fulness are called sons of God, because they are perfected in all its attributes and powers, and being in communication with it, can, by its use, perform all things.
Those beings who receive not a fulness, but a measure of it, can know and perform some things, but not all.
This is the true light, which in some measure illuminates all men. It is, in its less refined particles, the physical light which reflects from the sun, moon, and stars, and other substances; and by reflection on the eye, makes visible the truths of the outward world.
It is, also, in its higher degrees, the intellectual light of our inward and spiritual organs, by which we reason, discern, judge, compare, comprehend and remember the subjects within our reach.
Its inspiration constitutes instinct in animal life, reason in man, vision in the Prophets, and is continually flowing from the Godhead throughout all His creatures.
Such is the Godhead, as manifested in His words, and in His works. He dwells in His own eternal palaces of precious stones and gold, in the Royal City of the heavenly Jerusalem.
He sits enthroned in the midst of all His creations, and is filled and encircled with light unapproachable by those of the lower spheres.
[p.192]He associates with myriads of His own begotten sons and daughters who, by translation or resurrection, have triumphed over death.
His ministers are sent forth from his presence to all parts of His dominions.
His Holy Spirit centres in His presence, and communicates with, and extends to the utmost verge of His dominions, comprehending and controlling all things under the immediate direction of His own will, and the will of all those in communication with Him, in worlds without end!