Essential Parley P. Pratt
Foreword by Peter L. Crawley
“Destiny 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.200]The mystic future, with its depths profound,
For ages counted as forbidden ground,
Now lifts its veil, that man may penetrate
The secret springs, the mysteries of fate;
Know whence he is, and whither he is bound,
And why the spheres perform their ample round.
The Grand Council having developed the vast structure of the heavens and the earth, with all their fulness, with the evident design of utility and adaptation to certain definite uses, it well becomes us to watch their progress, and to study with diligence their future and final destiny.
From a general traditional belief in an immaterial hereafter, many have concluded that the earth and all material things would be annihilated as mere temporary structures; that the material body, and the planets it occupies, make no part of eternal life and being; in short, that God, angels and men, become at last so lost, dissolved, or merged in spirituality, or immateriality, as to lose all adaptation to the uses of the physical elements; that they will absolutely need no footstool, habitation, possession, mansion, home, furniture, food, or clothing; that the whole vast works and beautiful designs of the visible creation are a kind of necessary evil or clog on the spiritual life, and are of no possible use except to serve for the time being, for the home and sustenance of beings in their grosser, or rudimental state.
What a doleful picture! With what gloom and melancholy must intelligences comtemplate the vast structure, as viewed in this light!
What a vastness of design!
What a display of wisdom!
What a field of labour in execution, do the works of creation present to the contemplative mind!
[p.201]Yet all this wisdom of design, all this labour of execution, after serving a momentary purpose, to be thrown away as an incumbrance to real existence and happiness.
All these “spiritual,” “immaterial” vagaries have no foundation in truth.
The earth and other systems are to undergo a variety of changes, in their progress towards perfection. Water, fire, and other elements are the agents of these changes. But it is an eternal, unchangeable fact, a fixed law of nature, easily demonstrated and illustrated by chemical experiment, that neither fire nor any other element can annihilate a particle of matter, to say nothing of a whole globe.
A new heaven and a new earth are promised by the sacred writers. Or, in other words, the planetary systems are to be changed, purified, refined, exalted and glorified, in the similitude of the resurrection, by which means all physical evil or imperfection will be done away.
In their present state they are adapted to the rudimental state of man. They are, as it were, the nurseries for man’s physical embryo formation. Their elements afford the means of nourishing and sustaining the tabernacle, and of engendering and strengthening the organ of thought and mind, wherein are conceived and generated thoughts and affections which can only be matured and consummated in a higher sphere—thoughts pregnant with eternal life and love.
As the mind enlarges, the aspirations of an eternal being, once ennobled and honoured in the councils of heaven, among the sons of God, reach forth too high, and broad, and deep, to be longer adapted to the narrow sphere of mortal life. His body is imprisoned, chained to the earth, while his mind would soar aloft, and grasp the intelligence, wisdom and riches of the boundless infinite.
His rudimental body must therefore pass away, and be changed, so as to be adapted to a wider and more glorious sphere of locomotion, research, action and enjoyment.
When the planet on which he dwells has conceived, brought forth, and nourished the number of tabernacles assigned to it in its rudimental state, by infinite wisdom it must needs be acted upon by a chemical process. The purifying elements; for instance, fire, must needs be employed to bring it through an ordeal, a refinement, a purification, a change commensurate with that which had before taken place in the physical tabernacle of its inhabitants. Thus renovated, it is adapted to resurrected man.
When man, and the planet on which he lives, with all its fulness, shall have completed all their series of progressive changes, so as to be adapted to the highest glories of which their several characters and species are capable, then, the whole will be annexed to, or numbered with the [p.202]eternal heavens, and will there fulfil their eternal rounds, being another acquisition to the mansions, or eternally increasing dominions of the great Creator and Redeemer.
Worlds are mansions for the home of intelligences.
Intelligences exist in order to enjoy.
Joy, in its fulness, depends on certain principles, viz.—
Life Eternal. Love Eternal. Peace Eternal. Wealth Eternal. &c.
Without the first, enjoyment lacks durability.
Without the second, it can hardly be said to exist.
Without the third, it would not be secure.
Without the fourth, it must be limited, &c.
Eternal life, in its fulness, implies a spiritual intelligence, embodied in the likeness of its own species and clothed upon with an outward tabernacle of eternal, incorruptible flesh and bones. This state of existence can only be attained by the resurrection of the body, and its eternal re-union with the spirit.
Eternal life thus attained, and endowed with the eternal attributes of intelligence and love, could never exercise, or derive enjoyment from the affections of the latter, unless associated with other beings endowed with the same attributes.
Hence the object, or necessity of eternal kindred ties, associations, and affections, exercised as the attributes of that charity which never ends.
The third proposition, viz.—
Eternal Peace, could never be secured without the development of Eternal Law and government, which would possess in itself the attributes of infinite truth, goodness and power.
Any government short of this, could never guarantee Eternal Peace. It would be liable to be overthrown, by the lack of truth to discern, disposition to execute, or power to enforce, the measures necessary to insure peace.
The fourth proposition, viz.—
Eternal Wealth, must, of necessity, consist of an everlasting inheritance or title, defined and secured by this eternal government, to portions of the organized elements, in their pure, incorruptible and eternal state.
In order to be wealthy, eternal man must possess a certain portion of the surface of some eternal planet, adapted to his order or sphere of existence.
This inheritance, incorruptible, eternal in the heavens, must be sufficiently extensive for his accommodation, with all his family dependencies. It must also comprise a variety of elements, adapted to his use and convenience. Eternal gold, silver, precious stones, and other pre-[p.203]cious materials would be useful in the erection and furnishing of mansions, and of public and private dwellings or edifices.
These edifices combined, or arranged in wisdom, would constitute eternal cities. Gardens, groves, walks, rivulets, fountains, flowers and fruits, would beautify and adorn the landscape, please the eye, the taste, the smell; and thus contribute gladness to the heart of man.
Silks, linens, or other suitable materials would be necessary to adorn his person, and to furnish and beautify his mansions.
In short, eternal man, in possession of eternal worlds, in all their variety and fulness, will eat, drink, think, converse, associate, assemble, disperse, go, come, possess, improve, love and enjoy. He will increase in riches, knowledge, power, might, majesty and dominion, in worlds without end.
Every species of the animal creation ever organized by creative goodness, or that ever felt the pangs of death, or uttered a groan while subject to the king of terrors, or exulted in the joys of life and sympathy, and longed for the redemption of the body, will have part in the resurrection, and will live for ever in their own spheres, in the possession of peace, and a fulness of joy, adapted to their several capacities.
O Child of earth, conceived in corruption!
Brought forth in pain and sorrow! sojourning
In a world of mourning, mid sighs and tears,
And groans, and awaiting in sadness thy home
In the gloomy grave, as food for worms;
Lift up thy head, cast thine eyes around thee,
Behold yon countless hosts of shining orbs,
Yon worlds of light and life. Then turn to earth,
Survey the solid globe, its mineral wealth,
Its gems, its precious stones, its gold, its springs;
Its gardens, forests, fruits, and flowers;
Its countless myriads of breathing life,
From Mote to Man, through all the varied scale
Of animated being.
Visit the gloomy caverns of the dead,
The ancient sepulchre, where e’en the worm
Of death himself, has died for want of food,
And bones disjointed are crumbled fine, and
Mingled with the dust.
Nay, deeper still, descend the fathomless
Abyss of souls condemned, in darkness chained
Or thrust in gloomy dungeons of despair—
Where the very names of Mercy, of Hope,
[p.204]And of death’s conqueror remain unknown.
Observe with care the whole, indulge in tears,
But hope, believe, and clothed with charity
Which never fails, thine eyes enlightened,
Thy person clad in light ethereal,
Time fades, and opens on eternity.
Again review the scene beheld before.
You startle, seem surprised! confused! o’erwhelmed!
Death is conquered, corruption is no more,
All is life, and the word ETERNITY
Is inscribed in characters indelible.
On every particle and form of life.
Socrates, Plato, Confucius, and many other philosophers and divines have written largely on the immortality of the soul or spirit of man.
Some of these have suffered, with joy and cheerfulness, imprisonment, torture, and even death, with only this limited view of eternal existence.
Could these martyrs to a portion of truth so limited, and yet so full of hope and consolation, have handled immortal flesh and bones in the persons of Enoch or Elijah translated, or of Jesus raised from the dead; could they have learned from their sacred lips, and realized the full import of that joyful sentence–
“Behold! I make all things new;”
could they have contemplated eternal worlds, of matter in all its elements and forms of animal life, indissoluble and everlasting; could they have beheld eternal man, moving in the majesty of a God, amid the planetary systems, grasping the knowledge of universal nature, and with an intellect enlightened by the experience and observations of thousands and even millions of years; could they have had a glimpse of all this, and heard the promise—
“There shall be no more death,”
issuing from the fountain of truth, prompted by infinite benevolence and charity, re-echoing amid the starry worlds, reaching down to earth, vibrating, with a thrill of joy, all the myriads of animated nature, penetrating the gloomy vaults of death, and the prisons of the spirit world, with a ray of hope, and causing to spring afresh, the well-springs of life, and joy, and love, even in the lonely dungeons of despair! O! how would their bosoms have reverberated with unutterable joy and triumph, in view of changing worlds.
[p.205]Could the rulers of this world have beheld, or even formed a conception of, such riches, such nobility, such an eternal and exceeding weight of glory, they would have accounted the wealth, pleasures, honors, titles, dignities, glories, thrones, principalities and crowns of this world as mere toys—the play-things of a day, dross, not worth the strife and toil of acquiring, or the trouble of maintaining, except as a duty, or troublesome responsibility.
With this view of the subject, what man so base, so grovelling, so blind to his own interests, as to neglect those duties, self-denials, sacrifices, which are necessary in order to secure a part in the first resurrection, and a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory in that life which never ends?