Essential Parley P. Pratt
Foreword by Peter L. Crawley
“Origin of the Universe”
(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.193]Boundless infinitude of time, and space,
And elements eternal! Who can trace
Earth with its treasures, Heaven with its spheres,
Time’s revolutions, eternity’s years?
But what are all these, when measured by thee,
But marks on thy dial, or motes on thy sea!
The idea of a God without “body, parts, or passions,” is not more absurd or inconsistent than that modern popular doctrine, that all things were created from nonentity, or in other words, that something originated from nothing.
It is a self-evident truth, which will not admit of argument, that nothing remains nothing. Nonentity is the negative of all existence. This negative possesses no property or element upon which the energies of creative power can operate.
This mysticism must, therefore, share the fate of the other mysteries of false Theology and philosophy, which have for ages shrouded the world in the sable curtains of a long and dreary night. It must evaporate and disappear as a mere creation of fancy, while, in its place, are introduced the following self-evident and incontrovertible facts—
First. There has always existed a boundless infinitude of space.
Second. Intermingled with this space there exists all the varieties of the elements, properties, or things of which intelligence takes cognizance; which elements or things taken altogether compose what is called the Universe.
Third. The elements of all these properties or things are eternal, uncreated, self-existing. Not one particle can be added to them by creative power. Neither can one particle be diminished or annihilated.
Fourth. These eternal, self-existing elements possess in themselves certain inherent properties or attributes, in a greater or less degree; or, in other words, they possess intelligence, adapted to their several spheres.
These elements have been separated, by philosophers, into two grand divisions, viz.—
“PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL.”
To a mind matured, or quickened with a fulness of intelligence, so as to be conversant with all the elements of nature, there is no use for the distinction implied in such terms.
To speak more philosophically, all the elements are spiritual, all are physical, all are material, tangible realities. Spirit is matter, and matter is full of spirit. Because all things which do exist are eternal realities, in their elementary existence.
Who then can define the precise point, in the scale of elementary existence, which divides between the physical and spiritual kingdoms? There are eyes which can discern the most refined particles of elementary existence. There are hands and fingers to whose refined touch all things are tangible.
In the capacity of mortals, however, some of the elements are tangible, or visible, and others invisible. Those which are tangible to our senses, we call physical; those which are more subtle and refined, we call spiritual.
Spirit is intelligence, or the light of truth, which filleth all things.
Its several emotions or affections, such as love, joy, &c., are but so many actions or motions of these elements, as they operate in their several spheres.
By these actions or emotions the elements manifest their eternal energies, attributes, or inherent powers.
In contemplating the works of creation, then, the student must not conceive the idea that space, or time, or element, or intelligence, was originated, but rather, that these are eternal, and that they constitute the energies which act, and the things acted upon, including the place and time of action.
The whole vast structure of universal organized existence, presents undeniable evidence of three facts, viz.—
First. The eternal existence of the elements of which it is composed.
Second. The eternal existence of the attributes of intelligence, and wisdom to design.
Third. The eternal existence of power, to operate upon and control these eternal elements, so as to carry out the plans of the designer.
It will be recollected that the last chapter recognizes a family of Gods, or, in other words, a species of beings, who have physical tabernacles of flesh and bones, in the form of man, but so constructed as to [p.195]be capable of eternal life; that these tabernacles are quickened, or animated by a fulness of that holiest of all elements, which is called the Holy Spirit, which element or spirit, when organized, in individual form, and clothed upon with flesh and bones in the highest possible refinement, contains, in itself, a fulness of the attributes of light, intelligence, wisdom, love, and power; also that there are vast quantities of this spirit or element not organized in bodily forms, but widely diffused among the other elements of space.
A General Assembly, Quorum, or Grand Council of the Gods, with their President at their head, constitute the designing and creating power.
The motive power, which moves to action this grand creative power, is wisdom, which discovers a use for all these riches, and inspires the carrying out of all the designs in an infinite variety of utility and adaptation.
Wisdom inspires the Gods to multiply their species and to lay the foundation for all the forms of life, to increase in numbers, and for each to enjoy himself in the sphere to which he is adapted, and in the possession and use of that portion of the elements necessary to his existence and happiness.
In order to multiply organized bodies, composed of spiritual element, worlds and mansions composed of spiritual element would be necessary as a home, adapted to their existence and enjoyment. As these spiritual bodies increased in numbers, other spiritual worlds would be necessary, on which to transplant them.
Again. In order to enable these organized spirits to take upon them a fleshly tabernacle, physical worlds, with all their variety and fulness, would be necessary for their homes, food, clothing, &c., that they might be begotten, sustained, and born, that they might live, die, and rise again to receive their inheritances on their respective earths.
Hence the great work of regeneration of worlds, or the renovation and adaptation of the elements to the resurrection and eternal state of man, would also be endless, or eternally progressive.
Through every form of life, and birth, and change, and resurrection, and every form of progress in knowledge and experience, the candidates for eternal life must look upon the elements as their home; hence the elements, upon the principle of adaptation, must keep pace with the possessors who use them, in all the degrees of progressive refinement.
While room is found in infinite space:
While there are particles of unorganized element in Nature’s storehouse:
While the trees of Paradise yield their fruits, or the Fountain of Life its river:
[p.196]While the bosoms of the Gods glow with affection:
While eternal charity endures, or eternity itself rolls its successive ages, the heavens will multiply, and new worlds and more people be added to the kingdoms of the Fathers.
Thus, in the progress of events, unnumbered millions of worlds, and of systems of worlds, will necessarily be called into requisition, and be filled by man, and beast, and fowl, and tree, and all the vast varieties of beings, and things which ever budded and blossomed in Eden, or thronged the hills and valleys of the celestial Paradise.
When, in the endless progression of events, the full time had arrived for infinite wisdom to organize and people this globe which we inhabit, the chaotic elements were arranged in order. It appears at the commencement of this grand work, that the elements, which are now so beautifully arranged and adapted to vegetable and animal life, were found in a state of chaos, entirely unadapted to the uses they now serve.
There was one vast mixture of elements. Earth, water, soil, atmosphere—in short, the entire elements of which this mass was composed, seem to have been completely compounded, or mingled into one vast chaos, and the whole overwhelmed with a darkness so dense as to obscure the light of heaven.
Let us turn from the contemplation of scenes so sublimely fearful. Suffice it to say, the mandate came, darkness fled, the veil was lifted, light pierced the gloom, and chaos was made visible. Oh what a scene! A world without landscape, without vegetation, without animal life, without man, or animated beings. No sound broke on the stillness, save the voice of the moaning winds, and of dashing, foaming waters. Again, a voice comes booming over the abyss, and echoing amid the wastes, the mass of matter hears and trembles, and lo! the sea retires, the muddy shapeless mass lifts its head above the waters.
Molehills to mountains grow. Huge islands next appear, and continents at length expand to view, with hill and vale, in one wide dreary waste, unmeasured and untrodden.
The surface, warmed and dried by the cheering rays of the now resplendent sun, is prepared for the first seeds of vegetation.
A Royal Planter now descends from yonder world of older date, and bearing in his hand the choice seeds of the older Paradise, he plants them in the virgin soil of our new born earth. They grow and flourish there, and, bearing seed, replant themselves, and thus clothe the naked earth with scenes of beauty, and the air with fragrant incense. Ripening fruits and herbs at length abound. When, lo! from yonder world is transferred every species of animal life. Male and female, they come, with blessings on their heads; and a voice is heard again, “Be fruitful and multiply.”
[p.197]Earth—its mineral, vegetable and animal wealth—its Paradise, prespared, down comes from yonder world on high, a son of God, with his beloved spouse. And thus a colony from heaven, it may be from the sun, is transplanted on our soil. The blessings of their Father are upon them, and the first great law of heaven and earth is again repeated, “Be fruitful and multiply
Hence, the nations which have swarmed our earth.
In after years, when Paradise was lost by sin; when man was driven from the face of his heavenly Father, to toil, and droop, and die; when heaven was veiled from view; and, with few exceptions, man was no longer counted worthy to retain the knowledge of his heavenly origin; then, darkness veiled the past and future from the heathen mind; man neither knew himself, from whence he came, nor whither he was bound. At length a Moses came, who knew his God, and would fain have led mankind to know Him too, and see Him face to face. But they could not receive His heavenly laws, or bide His presence.
Thus the holy man was forced again to veil the past in mystery, and, in the beginning of his history, assign to man an earthly origin.
Man, moulded from earth, as a brick!
A Woman, manufactured from a rib!
Thus, parents still would fain conceal from budding manhood, the mysteries of procreation, or the sources of life’s ever flowing river, by relating some childish tale of new born life, engendered in the hollow trunk of some old tree or springing with spontaneous growth, like mushrooms, from out the heaps of rubbish. O Man! When wilt thou cease to be a child in knowledge?
Man, as we have said, is the offspring of Deity. The entire mystery of the past and future, with regard to his existence, is not yet solved by mortals.
We first recognise him, as an organized individual or intelligence, dwelling with his Father in the eternal mansions. This organized spirit we call a body, because, although composed of the spiritual elements, it possesses every organ after the pattern, and in the likeness or similitude of the outward or fleshly tabernacle it is destined eventually to inhabit. Its organs of thought, speech, sight, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling,&c., all exist in their order, as in the physical body; the one being the exact similitude of the other.
This individual, spiritual body, was begotten by the heavenly Father, in His own likeness and image, and by the laws of procreation.
It was born and matured in the heavenly mansions, trained in the school of love in the family circle, and amid the most tender embraces of parental and fraternal affection.
In this primeval probation, in its heavenly home, it lived and moved [p.198]as a free and rational intelligence independent in its own sphere. It was placed under certain laws, and was responsible to its great Patriarchal Head.
This had been called a “First Estate.” And it is intimated that, of the spirits thus placed upon their agency, one-third failed to keep their first estate, and were thrust down, and reserved in chains of darkness, for future judgment. As these are not permitted to multiply their species, or to move forward in the scale of progressive being, while in this state of bondage and condemnation, we will trace them no further, as their final destiny is not revealed to mortals.
The spirits which kept their first estate, were permitted to descend below, and to obtain a tabernacle of flesh in the rudimental existence in which we find them in our present world, and which we will call a second estate.
In passing the veil which separates between the first and second estates, man becomes unconscious, and, on awakening in his second estate, a veil is wisely thrown over all the past.
In his mortal tabernacle he remembers not the scenes, the endearing associations, of his first, primeval childhood in the heavenly mansions. He therefore commences anew in the lessons of experience, in order to start on a level with the new born tabernacle, and to re-develop his intellectual faculties in a progressive series, which keep pace with the development of the organs and faculties of the outward tabernacle.
During his progress in the flesh, the Holy Spirit may gradually awaken his faculties; and in a dream, or vision, or by the spirit of prophecy, reveal, or rather awaken the memory to, a partial vision, or to a dim and half defined recollection of the intelligence of the past. He sees in part, and he knows in part; but never while tabernacled in mortal flesh will he fully awake to the intelligence of his former estate. It surpasses his comprehension, is unspeakable, and even unlawful to be uttered.
Having kept his second estate, and filled the measure of his responsibilities in the flesh, he passes the veil of death, and enters a third estate, or probationary sphere. This is called the world of spirits, and will be treated on more fully under its appropriate head.
Filling the measure of his responsibilities in the world of spirits, he passes, by means of the resurrection of the body, into his fourth estate, or sphere of human existence. In this sphere he finds himself clothed upon with an eternal body of flesh and bones, with every sense, and every organ, restored and adapted to their proper use.
He is thus prepared with organs and faculties adapted to the possession and enjoyment of every element of the physical or spiritual [p.199]worlds, which can gratify the senses, or conduce to happiness of intelligences. He associates, converses, loves, thinks, acts, moves, sees, hears, tastes, smells, eats, drinks and possesses.
In short, all the elements necessary to his happiness being purified, exalted, and adapted to the sphere in which he exists, are placed within his lawful reach, and made subservient to his use.