The Essential Orson Pratt
Foreword by David J. Whittaker
“The Holy Spirit”
(from A Series of Pamphlets [Liverpool: Published by Franklin D. Richards, 1852])
[p.198]THE OMNIPRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT—THE GRAND EXECUTOR OF ALL THE PHENOMENA, ASCRIBED TO THE LAWS OF NATURE—A PERSONAL BEING CALLED THE HOLY GHOST—HOW A PERSONAL BEING CAN EXERCISE ALMIGHTY POWER WHERE HE IS NOT PRESENT—BAPTISM OF FIRE AND THE HOLY GHOST—BESTOWED BY THE LAYING ON OF HANDS.
1.—Man beholds himself surrounded by a universe of materials, filled with power. Every particle seems to be active and energetic. At one time we see these materials exerting a strong cohesive tendency; at another, manifesting a chemical affinity, or exhibiting the law of universal gravitation. In one condition we see them assuming a gaseous form; in another, a liquid; in another still, a solid; sometimes, combining in irregular forms; at other times, crystallizing in the most perfect and beautiful geometrical figures; at one time, entering into the tender and delicate flower, displaying the most gaudy, lovely colours; at another, combining with the towering hardy oak which resists the furious storms of centuries. Indeed, all nature seems to act, as if full of life, full of wisdom, full of power. Nothing is dormant; nothing acts at random without law. Every particle seems to be capable of assuming innumerable conditions, in each of which it still is under the control of law, never revolting—never deviating from the government of that wonderful force by which it is guided and actuated.
2.—This subtle, living, powerful agent is perceived, by its operations, to be widely and copiously diffused through all the materials of nature which have come under the inspection of man. Not one substance is exempt—not one particle escapes its energetic influence—not one, that varies from the path ordained by the wisdom and power of the living fluid agent which envelops it.
3.—But what is this living, self-moving, powerful, and most wonderful fluid? what is it which so copiously pervades universal nature? which arranges, combines, harmonizes, and moves its materials? which organizes them into vegetables, animals, and worlds? which beautifies, adorns, and renders most magnificently grand the sceneries of both earth and heaven? and which displays such consummate skill and wisdom in all its varied operations? What is the name of this most powerful of all [p.199]fluids? Is it heat? Is it magnetism? Is it electricity? Is it galvanism? Is it light? We answer; all these are its effects—the manifestations of its power, as it operates upon, in, and through the visible and invisible elements. These are some of the outward and more common exhibitions of its glory; while its invisible workings, its secret springs of power, and the fullness of its eternal glory, are withheld from the gaze of mortals. Heat, light, electricity, and all the varied and grand displays of nature, are but the tremblings, the vibrations, the energetic powers of a living, all-pervading, and most wonderful fluid, full of wisdom and knowledge, called the HOLY SPIRIT.
4.—It has been supposed by some, that the Holy Spirit exists only as a personage in the likeness and form of the personal spirits of the Father and Son, or in the image of the spirits of men which resemble the human tabernacle in shape and magnitude. That such a personal Holy Spirit exists, there can be but little doubt; but to suppose that such person is alone called the Holy Spirit, or that there is not a widely-diffused substance, also called the Holy Spirit, is evidently erroneous, and contrary to what is revealed in the divine oracles.
5.—One personage of the Holy Spirit could not be in two or more places at the same instant; for such a condition is absolutely impossible, for any one person, being, or particle. Therefore, one personage, called the Holy Ghost, could not dwell at the same instant in two or more Saints. If He were in one, He would most certainly be absent from all others. To be in millions of Saints, would require millions of personages of the Holy Ghost, provided that He only exists in the personal form.
6.—But there are many expressions in Scripture which plainly show that the Holy Ghost exists, not only as a person, but as a diffused fluid substance. John the Baptist, in speaking of Jesus, says, “God giveth not the spirit by measure unto him.” (John iii. 34.) If the Holy spirit, which Jesus is represented as not receiving by measure, were a personage, His presence in Jesus could not be considered a greater measure, than His presence in the Saints; but being a fluid substance, a greater quantity or fullness of it was given to Jesus than what was measured out to his disciples. Let it be remembered that the Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit represent the same Holy Substance or Fluid, being two different names for the same thing. That this Substance was capable of being divided, and portions of it given to different individuals, is evident from the following passage: “And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, (Moses,) and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied and did not cease.” (Numbers xi. 25.) Peter, in speaking of the ancient prophets, said, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter i. 21.) Therefore the spirit [p.200]which moved the seventy elders of Israel to prophesy, was the Holy Ghost; and seventy portions or measures of it were taken from Moses, and distributed among seventy men, making them prophets. But how could a personal Spirit be divided into parts, and be thus distributed, without destroying its personality? The measures of the Spirit given to these prophets, were as distinct from each other as the prophets themselves, or as seventy measures of water would be, distributed in the same number of separate vessels.
7.—The prophet Elisha prayed that he might receive “a double portion” of the spirit which had rested upon Elijah, before his translation; and his prayer was answered. (See 2 Kings ii.) Now a “double portion” of a personal Spirit could not be given.
8.—The Holy Ghost, when received, is represented as an anointing. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.” (Acts x. 38.) “But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” “Ye have an Unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” (1 John ii. 27, 20.) How could this “Unction” or “Anointing” represent the reception of a personal Spirit? The reception of a spiritual fluid Substance, capable of softening, animating, and teaching the heart, may truly be compared to an “Anointing” with oil which softens and renders pliable the body.
9.—We often read expressions, like the following—”Being full of the Holy Ghost;” “filled with the Spirit,” &c. From these expressions, it is very evident that some received more of the Spirit than others: but if the Holy Spirit be a person, how could such be the case?
10.—Again, we often read of the Spirit being poured out; now it cannot mean that a personage is poured out, but it must mean that the Spirit is of a fluid nature, capable of being poured upon men, and of filling them, and of overwhelming their bodies, like a cloud.
11.—When the one hundred and twenty disciples were waiting, on the day of Pentecost, for the “Baptism of the Holy Ghost,” “suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts ii. 2, 3, 4.) The whole house was filled with the Spirit; hence, these disciples were baptized or immersed in it, which could not have been the case if the Holy Ghost had come only as a person. On this occasion portions of this Holy Fluid assumed the form of “Cloven Tongues like as of Fire.” It is very doubtful whether a permanent personal Spirit would dissolve its personality, [p.201]and transform its parts into one hundred and twenty tongues, having the appearance of fire. But a living, self-moving fluid Substance might transform itself into any shape it pleased, and render itself visible in the form of tongues, or in the form of a dove, or in a personal form, resembling the image of man.
12.—The omnipresence of the Spirit is a demonstration that it is infinite in quantity, instead of being limited to the very small amount sufficient to compose one personage only. The Psalmist inquires, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea: even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm cxxxix. 7-10.) It is the Spirit of the Lord, and not a person, that is present in all these places, named by the Psalmist. “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” (Jeremiah xxiii. 24.) It is by His Spirit that the Lord fills heaven and earth. The elements of the earth, and all the materials of the heavenly worlds, are full of this pure and holy Substance, called the Spirit. Indeed, all the beauty, harmony, and magnificence, exhibited in the heavens, are the productions of this all pervading Spirit. “By His Spirit He hath garnished the heavens.” (Job xxvi. 13.)
13.—”The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job xxxiii. 4.) “If He gather unto Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh shall perish together and man shall turn again unto dust.” (Job xxxiv. 14, 15.) By this the whole animal creation were made. By this Spirit, they are sustained in life; and when this Spirit departs, they perish, and return to dust. And by this Spirit, the fish, fowls, beasts, and men will be made new, and the earth also. The Psalmist, in speaking of the resurrection and renewal of the whole animal creation, says, “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth.” (Psalm civ.)
14.—The Spirit that made the heavens and earth, and all things therein—that sustains them every moment—that has the power of life and death over every living thing—that will create and make all things new—operates by the word of the Father and Son, and does nothing without their authority. God speaks, and the Omnipresent Spirit acts upon the materials with which it is associated, and reduces all things to order and harmony; and places them under the dominion of its own law of action, which is also the law of the Father and Son; and these laws are what the learned call the “Laws of Nature,” not discerning the living, Omnipresent agent, that every moment executes them. The learned perceive the intelligent effects; but the intelligent cause is hidden [p.202]from their scrutiny. Hence, they ascribe the effects to the supposed qualities of a supposed blind, unintelligent, passive matter—an absurdity invented by the devil, to prevent mankind from beholding the direct agency of the Spirit of God, in the grand movements of the universe.
15.—Paul, in speaking of God, says, “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts xvii. 28.) Now, we do not “live and move” in the person of God, nor in the person of His Spirit, but in the midst of that quickening, living, Omnipresent Substance which is in, and through, and around all things, producing all the effects ascribed to the laws of nature.
16.—The wicked, as well as the righteous, are, so far as the common laws of nature are concerned, controlled by this universal Spirit. The materials of their bodies, like those of the righteous, are compelled to obey the common laws of gravitation, cohesion, chemical affinity, and all the varied laws of organization; all of which are the effects of the Spirit; but the human spirits of the wicked are far from being influenced and controlled in the same degree as those of the righteous. So far as the operations of the Holy Spirit upon the mind are manifest, it is evident that it does not dwell in unholy temples; that is, it does not dwell in them to sanctify, to purify, to teach the mind in such temples; but it merely dwells in them to carry on those processes, generally ascribed to the laws of nature. If the Psalmist made his bed in hell, he could not get away from the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is not in hell, to suffer or experience any inconvenience by being in that locality, but merely to carry on the infinitely varied operations of the elements there, as in all other departments of the universe; while the wicked malicious spirits in that dark and miserable abode, are entirely destitute of its sanctifying and comforting influence.
17.—Boundless space is interspersed with an infinity of worlds; the numberless series are stretched out endlessly in all directions, with intervening spaces sufficient for the organization of unnumbered systems that may hereafter bespangle the infinite heights and depths of eternity. As there is no space in the great infinite expanse, without its kingdom, and no kingdoms without appropriate intervening spaces; so there are no spaces and kingdoms without their laws, or without the immediate presence of the Holy Spirit, superintending and controlling the eternal elements. The Holy Spirit is boundless in its presence, because it is infinite in quantity. A finite quantity of Spirit could only dwell in finite space. A Substance that is Omnipresent must be inexhaustible in quantity, and absolutely boundless in every possible direction.
18.—This boundless ocean of Spirit possesses in every part, however minute, a will, a self-moving power, knowledge, wisdom, love, goodness, holiness, justice, mercy, and every intellectual and moral attribute [p.203]possessed by the Father and Son. Each particle of this Holy Spirit knows, every instant, how to act upon the other materials of nature with which it is immediately associated: it knows how to vary the gravitating tendency of a particle of matter, every moment, precisely in the inverse ratio of the square of its distance from ever other particle in the universe. Where an infinite number of particles of matter are in motion, and every instant changing their relative distances from each other, it must require an overwhelming amount of discernment and knowledge, for each particle of the spirit to perceive every motion of every other particle, and every instant to know the relative positions and distances of every particle in the universe. And yet without such knowledge, the gravitating intensity could not be varied, according to the strict law which is known to exist. For the Holy Spirit to move all the materials of nature, according to this one law requires a wisdom and knowledge incomprehensible to mortal man.
19.—But the Holy Spirit obeys an infinity of other laws besides gravitation; and obeys them, too, voluntarily and understandingly, and not passively and blindly. Wherever the Holy Spirit moves the materials of nature, according to any law, it does so, because it has a knowledge of the law, and has a will and power of self-motion to obey it. Therefore, man can, in some measure, discern, from the operations of the Spirit in performing the laws of nature, how incomprehensibly great are its wisdom and knowledge. It is unsearchable and past finding out by frail mortality!
20.—Man has been accustomed to associate wisdom, knowledge, love, joy, and all the other faculties and passions, with an organized being or personality. Therefore, when he is informed that the Holy Spirit possesses all these attributes, he, from habit, supposes it to be a person; but there is no necessary connection between these attributes and a personality. Indeed, there is no reason why these attributes may not also belong to a Fluid Substance. We see life and voluntary motion exhibited by beings of every conceivable shape and magnitude, from man down through every grade of existence to the microscopic animalcules. Many of these inconceivably small beings appear to be merely minute globules or particles of living substance. Such being the case, why may not the still smaller particles of the Holy Spirit be alive also? and why may they not also possess all the elementary attributes of a Spiritual personage or organization? Is there anything in the mere shape or magnitude of organized spirit-matter, that should cause it to differ in its elementary attributes from unorganized spirit matter? Certainly not. Therefore, it is perfectly consistent and analogous with what we see in nature, to attribute life, voluntary motion, and numerous other attributes and qualities, to a fluid substance, or to each of its particles.
[p.204]21.—When an intelligent movement exists, we at once infer an intelligent agent. When we see the materials of the universe continually moving according to an intelligent law, we at once infer that the agent in connection with these materials, and which thus moves them is intelligent, and possessed of a will and voluntary motion. It is only by effects and manifestations that we judge any being to be possessed of life, intelligence, &c. And the greater the display of these effects, the more certain we are of the existence of a living, moving, intelligent agent, possessed of the attributes whose effects are exhibited. The wise, intelligent, and grand effects, called the “laws of nature,” cannot be otherwise, than the exhibitions of a most wise, most intelligent, and most powerful substance, diffused, in immense quantities, through all the materials of space.
22.—This universal Holy Spirit is not only alive, as it regards each of its parts, but is alive as a whole. This may be represented by the human spirit which is in the image of the human tabernacle, and dwells throughout the body. Each part of the human spirit is alive, and possessed of voluntary motion; each part performs the work assigned to it. That part of the human spirit in the head, moves the head. Every particle of the human spirit has its own work to perform; and yet in all the varied operations of each, the happiness of the whole is sought for, and respected. Hence, the human spirit is alive in all its parts, and alive as a whole. By the perfect union and sympathy of each particle with every other, they act as one human spirit; and, indeed, though consisting of unnumbered millions of living particles, each intelligent, each active, yet they form but one organized human spirit, because of the perfect oneness of their attributes. So it is with that all-wise universal Spirit. The union of each particle of the Holy Spirit with every other throughout the universe, is as perfect as the union of the particles in a human spirit. Though each particle acts individually in its own sphere, and has its own work to perform in the varied operations of nature, yet each acts with the same great end in view, namely, the good of the whole. Though the number of particles is infinite, yet, all being possessed of the same attributes, and acting with the most perfect union, they may be emphatically pronounced ONE.
23.—The infinite number of particles of the Holy Spirit moves universal nature, as if by the will of one Being; for in fact, though the particles are infinite, yet they all act by one will. The myriads of particles in the human spirit, move the human body by one united will. So likewise it is the oneness of the will and other attributes that constitutes the oneness of the great universal Spirit which pervades all things. The particles, wherein this one will resides, are infinite in number, extending through all space. This one will that pervades them all, is the same as [p.205]the will that dwells in the Father and Son. The most perfect union exists in all the moral and intellectual attributes of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It matters not how far distant some parts of the Holy Spirit may be from others; nor how far they may be from the persons of the Father and Son, yet they are imbued with the same will, and never act in opposition to each other’s desire. And this is the great secret of their oneness.
24.—The universality of the Holy Spirit is the great main-spring or secret by which a personal Being can exercise Almighty power where He is not personally present. However good and wise a personal Being might be, He could not exert power at a distance, only through some agent over which he has control. Both the Father and Son are personal Beings; neither of them alone, without the aid of some substance or agent, could control any of the materials of nature at a distance from himself. The substances in space, if unintelligent, would exhibit no action or laws. The commands of the Father and Son would be unavailing and entirely ineffectual; worlds could neither be organized nor put in motion. Nothing which is unintelligent, and separated at a distance, could be made to obey one single command. And such phenomena as the “laws of nature” could not, by any possibility, be made to exist.
25.—But let the Father and Son have the agency of the Holy Spirit, extending in quantity throughout universal space, diffused through all elements and all worlds; let them have the authority to command this Spirit, being of the same mind and will with it. Such being the case, universal nature would obey. By the power of the word of the Father and Son, the Spirit would organize worlds; by the power of their word, the spirit would set those worlds into harmonious motion; by the power of their word, the Spirit would move the particles in nature according to the law of gravitation; by their word, the Spirit would move every substance according to the varied laws which now exist. By the power of their word, the Spirit could suspend its operations in one way, and operate in another, directly opposite, causing what the world generally calls a miracle. Through the agency of such a universal spirit, a person could exercise Almighty power throughout every department of nature. Particles, worlds, and universes would obey: the Spirit being the great grand executor of all the sublime and majestic movements, exhibited in boundless space.
26.—But does not the portion of the substance of the Holy Spirit which dwells in each humble servant of God, assume a personal form while in such tabernacle? Or is it limited in its locality to some particular part of the tabernacle, as the brain or the heart? We answer, that as the gift of the Holy spirit is, in Scripture, called a baptism, there is no doubt, but that the whole “inner man” is immersed in this holy Substance: this is still more evident from the scriptural expressions which [p.206]often represent the disciples of Jesus, as “being full of the Holy Ghost:” these expressions convey the idea that the Holy Ghost, not only dwelt in the brain or in the heart, but in and throughout the whole tabernacle, quickening the human spirit in every limb and joint from the head to the feet: or, in other words, the body which is the temple of the Holy Ghost, was full of this holy Fluid, even as the temple of Solomon was full of the glory of God, when the cloud and fire descended upon it.
27.—But if the body of each Saint is full of the Holy Ghost, it is evident that this holy Substance dwelling in each temple must assume the same shape and magnitude as the temple which it fills. If any one should, by vision, behold the tabernacle of man, filled throughout with this Substance, he would perceive it existing in a personal form of the same size and shape as the human spirit or tabernacle. And if he should behold a million of such bodily temples, thus filled, he would see a million of personal beings called the Holy Ghost: but each one of these, though one with all the others in the attributes, would be distinct in substance from all the rest. They are distinct personal forms which the Spiritual Fluid assumes, upon entering human bodies, so as to accommodate itself to the size and form of the respective human temples which it inhabits. However many the personal forms, thus assumed, they are but ONE in wisdom, knowledge, love, justice, mercy, glory, power, and in all their attributes. In this respect, therefore, there is but one Holy Spirit, which is in all and through all, and over all things. But in respect to the personal forms assumed, they are as innumerable as the righteous of all worlds whose bodies are its temples for ever and ever.
28.—But does the Holy Ghost ever exist in or assume a personal form, when separate from the tabernacles of men? We answer, by referring to the sayings of Jesus, in the book of John, where the Comforter is called “the Holy Ghost”—”the Spirit of Truth;” and is represented as a personal Being by the pronouns “HE” and “HIM,” and as a Being capable of proceeding from the Father, and of hearing and speaking the word of God, and of testifying to the truth, and of convincing and reproving the world. From this description, there remains but little doubt, as to the existence also of a personal Being, called the Holy Ghost, who was sent by the Father and Son to comfort the disciples. That He was a personal Being before He was sent, there can be but little doubt; and that He was also accompanied by and surrounded with a large quantity or cloud of that holy spiritual Substance which is also called the Holy Spirit, and which, from its diffusive nature, is capable of entering into, and abiding in many tabernacles at the same instant, is also very evident.
29.—The prophet Nephi who lived about six centuries before Christ, sought “to see, and hear, and know” concerning many events of the future, “by the power of the Holy Ghost;” and he was “caught away in [p.207]the Spirit of the Lord,” and saw many things: among which, he beheld the Spirit of the Lord who spake with him. he says, “I spake unto Him as a man speaketh; for I beheld that He was in the FORM of a man; yet, nevertheless, I knew that it was the Spirit of the Lord; and He spake unto me as a man speaketh with another.” (See Chapter III. of the first Book of Nephi, in the Book of Mormon.)
30.—Joseph Smith, the Prophet, says, “The Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a PERSONAGE of Spirit.”—(See History of Joseph Smith, “Deseret News,” Vol. vi. No. 18, p. 137.)
31.—These last quotations agree with what I have already quoted from the New Testament. Therefore, it may safely be affirmed that there is a personage of the Holy Ghost who is in the form of man, and that He was seen in this form, when existing separately from the tabernacles of men, in the pure spiritual state.
32.—The Holy Spirit, therefore, must be considered, first, as an inexhaustible quantity of pure living, intelligent, powerful Substance, diffused through all worlds in boundless space and capable of filling myriads of tabernacles, and consequently, of assuming their forms. And secondly, parts of this Holy Spirit exist as a Holy Being who constitutes the third person of the Trinity, and who is of the same mind and will as the Father and Son. The diffused Substance of the Holy Spirit has also the same mind and will as the three glorious persons of the Godhead; and by their united will, this diffused substance executes the grand and magnificent operations of nature.
33.—Having treated upon the nature and attributes of the Holy Spirit, let us next inquire, how the children of men can be made partakers of this heavenly gift? The Holy Spirit dwells not in unholy temples; that is, it dwells not there, to sanctify, teach, and comfort the mind, but merely has an existence in such temples, to carry on the common operations of nature. To receive the Holy Spirit, so as to have the mind benefited, requires a preparation both of the body and mind. The body and mind of a natural man, have both been defiled by sin; consequently, both are unholy, impure, and altogether unprepared for the indwelling of the holy Comforter. Now there is but one way for them to be properly prepared for the residence of the pure Spirit. This one way is of divine origin, and consists of three important steps, as pointed out in the three preceding chapters of this work; namely, Faith, Repentance, and Water Baptism. By these three steps taken sincerely and properly, the sinner is forgiven of all past sins, and both mind and body are prepared for the Baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.
34.—Water Baptism is only a preparatory cleansing of the believing penitent; it is only a condition of a cleansing from sin; whereas, the Baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost cleanses more thoroughly, by renewing [p.208]the inner man, and by purifying the affections, desires, and thoughts which have long been habituated in the impure ways of sin. Without the aid of the Holy Ghost, a person who has long been accustomed to love sin, and whose affections and desires have long run with delight in the degraded channel of vice, would have but very little power to change his mind, at once, from its habituated course, and to walk in newness of life. Though his sins may have been cleansed away, yet so great is the force of habit, that he would, without being renewed by the Holy Ghost, be easily overcome, and contaminated again by sin. Hence, it is infinitely important that the affections and desires should be, in a measure, changed and renewed, also as to cause him to hate that which he before loved, and to love that which he before hated: to thus renew the mind of man is the work of the Holy Ghost.
35.—The baptism of the Holy Ghost is of so great importance that we cannot feel justified without referring to the scriptural promises in relation to it. When the multitudes came forth from all the region round about to be baptized by John the Baptist, in the river Jordan, John said unto them, “I, indeed, baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matthew iii 11.)
36.—According to this passage, the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire was promised to all whom John baptized by water who were truly penitent. Their repentance and water baptism secured to them, not only a remission of sins, but a promise of a greater baptism which Jesus should administer to them. Some have supposed that the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire, was only intended for the apostles and a few others, in order to constitute them witnesses of Jesus; but such an idea is erroneous, and directly opposed to the scriptures. Every one of John’s disciples were expressly informed that this greater baptism was intended for them.
37.—Jesus was baptized, first with water in the river Jordan “to fulfil all righteousness:” this being an example of obedience, or a pattern for all others to follow. Immediately after Jesus came up out of the water, he prayed, and “the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him; and a voice came from heaven, which said, “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” (Luke iii. 21, 22.) This was the second baptism which Jesus received. And the Father manifested His approbation on this occasion by speaking from the heavens with an audible voice, and declaring that Jesus was His only begotten Son.
38.—Every believing penitent who will follow this example of Jesus, by being baptized first with water, is entitled to, and will receive the [p.209]second baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire; for the promise is, that Jesus who was himself baptized with the Holy Ghost, should confer this same glorious baptism upon all his children. The two baptisms, therefore, received by the Son of God, are the same that all men must receive, in order to become the sons of God, and be acknowledged as such by the voice of God, or by the voice of His Spirit which is the same. Let no one flatter himself that he can become a son of God without these two baptisms. It is by being born of the flesh that we become the sons of men; so likewise it is by being born of the water and of the spirit that we become the sons of God: and there is no other possible way of becoming His sons, only by being born of these two elements—water and Spirit, following the pattern that Jesus gave. If Jesus, being holy, had need to be baptized by water, “to fulfil all righteousness,” how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized by water, not only “to fulfil righteousness,” by keeping the command of God, but to obtain, through that act, a forgiveness of sins, so that we may be prepared for the greater baptism of the Holy Ghost, and thus be born anew of these two purifying elements, without which Jesus has most expressly declared, that no man can enter into the kingdom of God.
39.—This baptism of the Holy Ghost is referred to by the Saviour on the day of his ascension. “Being assembled together with them,” that is, with his disciples, “he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me; for John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.” (Acts i, 4, 5.) Shortly after this, one hundred and twenty of the disciples “were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues.”
40.—The baptism of fire, without doubt, had reference to the purifying qualities of the Holy Ghost, which, like fire, consumes or destroys the unholy affections of those who are made partakers of it. Those portions of the Holy Ghost which assumed the form of tongues, and were rendered visible, had the appearance of fire. It is to this same kind of baptism that the prophet Malachi refers, when predicting the second advent. After saying that the Lord “shall suddenly come to His temple,” the prophet inquires, “but who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.” (Malachi iii. 1, 2, 3.) It requires a fire of great intensity to melt and purify gold and silver: though the sons of Levi, upon whom this fire is to sit, will abide the same, and not be consumed, yet it will consume the wicked as chaff or stubble, and the Lord will thoroughly purge his floor.
41.—This same kind of Baptism is referred to in Isaiah. “Hear, ye [p.210]that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites; Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him, his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off.” (Isaiah xxxiii. 13-17.) The “devouring fire” and “everlasting burnings” here spoken of, is the fire of the glory of God; and those who dwell with it, and in its midst, will be the pure in heart, as described in the quotation; while fearfulness will seize upon the sinners and hypocrites in Zion who behold this burning devouring element, enveloping the habitations and assemblies of the righteous.
42.—The baptism of fire is again mentioned in great plainness by Isaiah in the following words: “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night.” (Isaiah iv. 2-6.) Thus it will be seen, that the children of Zion are to be holy, and are to dwell in the midst of a shining, flaming, devouring fire, called “everlasting burnings,” which will envelope their habitations and assemblies, and be round about their persons which will, by the light of this fire, shine as the face of Moses shone. When this comes to pass, no wonder that the sinners in Zion will be afraid, and that fearfulness will surprise the hypocrites! Such characters in those days will not be able to endure the fire and glory of the Lord. Hence, they will be cast into their own place, “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
43.—Moses was baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire, so that when he came down from mount Sinai, after being with the Lord many days, his face shone with that brilliancy that the children of Israel could not endure the brightness and intensity of the light, but fled and stood afar off. Moses was obliged to veil his face to hide the glory of his countenance from Israel. It is this same fire that has so often been ex-[p.211]hibited by holy angels, when they have appeared in their glory to mortals. It was this same fire that rested upon the tabernacle and camp of Israel, for forty years in the wilderness. It was this same fire that broke forth among the rebellious ones, and consumed them by thousands. It was this same fire that consumed the sacrifice offered by Elijah, and even consumed the stones of the altar and great quantities of water, poured upon the same. It was this same fire that filled the temple of Solomon at the time of its dedication. It is this same fire that surrounds the Holy One of Israel: hence, Paul calls Him, “a consuming fire.” It was this same fire, which all who sincerely received John’s baptism, had the promise of being baptized with. It was this same fire and Holy Ghost that descended from heaven like a rushing mighty wind, on the day of Pentecost—that was seen in the form of cloven tongues—that controlled the tongues of the disciples to speak in many languages unknown to themselves.
44.—On hearing of the marvelous descent of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples of Jesus, there came together a vast multitude of people, and listened to them. They were informed by Peter, that the Holy Ghost which the disciples had just received, was the same Spirit which God had promised by the mouth of the prophet Joel, to pour out, in the last days, upon all flesh. He also informed them, that Jesus was raised from the dead, and “being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.” * * * * “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts ii. 33, 37, 38, 39.)
45.—These passages of Scripture, recorded in the first and second chapters of the Acts, prove, most conclusively, first, that the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the one hundred and twenty disciples was a baptism, according to the promise of the Father. (Chapter i. verses 4, 5.) Secondly, that the effects of this baptism of the Holy Ghost, were both seen and heard by many thousands. (Chap. ii. verse 33.) And lastly, that this same promise of the Father, concerning the baptism of the Holy Ghost, was unto the large multitude which the Apostles were then addressing; and unto their children or descendants; and unto all afar off, meaning distant nations; and unto as many as the Lord should call, meaning all nations, kindreds, and tongues who should be called through the gospel proclamation; and unto all flesh, as promised in the prophecy of [p.212]Joel, and referred to, on that occasion, by Peter. Hence, the prophet Joel, John the Baptist, Jesus, and his Apostles, are all united in testifying that the promise of the baptism of the Holy Ghost is to all people who will comply with the conditions of the Gospel preparatory to its reception.
46.—Having learned that all who have received pardon through faith, repentance, and water baptism, are entitled to the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, let us next inquire whether this heavenly gift is bestowed through an ordinance? In bestowing the blessings of salvation, God has ordained certain conditions or ordinances through which He has been pleased to confer them upon man. It was through the ordinance of the passover that Israel were saved from the destroying angel, while the firstborn of the Egyptians were slain. It was by Moses stretching out a rod over the Red Sea, that the Lord divided the water, and saved Israel from their enemies. It was by smiting the rock, that waters gushed forth to quench their thirst. It was by the lifting up of Moses’ hands towards heaven that Israel prevailed against Amalek. “And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” (Exodus xvii. 11-13.) It was by casting a tree into the bitter waters of Marah that they were made sweet. (Exodus xv. 25.) It was by blowing upon rams’ horns, and encompassing the city of Jericho that the walls fell down. It was by the priests bearing the ark into the edge of the river Jordan that its waters were divided, and Israel passed over. It was by Elisha smiting Jordan with the mantle of Elijah that he passed over dry shod.
47.—When the sons of the prophets were eating boiled herbs, it was ascertained that some of them were deadly poison: hence, they said to Elisha, “there is death in the pot.” But by the simple act of throwing some meal into the vessel, the poisonous qualities were destroyed. By the simple act of Elijah’s stretching himself three times upon a dead body, and praying, God restored the same to life. Elisha also restored a dead child to life, by stretching himself twice upon the body. “And he went up and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands.” (2 Kings iv. 34.)
48.—Time would fail us to speak of the thousands of other examples in both the Old and New Testaments, where God manifested his blessings through obedience to some simple ordinance or requirement. The means ordained, through which many blessings were given, were [p.213]in many instances entirely arbitrary, and apparently had no connection, as a cause producing the effect: in most instances, these arbitrary means were instituted to try the faith of the people; for if they had not faith sufficient to obey any command, however simple, God would now bestow the blessing. What could have been more simple than the means referred to in the last two paragraphs? And yet, how great were the blessings which followed these simple acts!
49.—Some of these institutions were permanent, and continued from generation to generation, and were necessary under every dispensation; such were water baptism, the laying on of hands, prayer, worship, &c.: others were more limited in their nature, and were to be obeyed only for a definite time; such were circumcision, the passover, and many of the ordinances of the law of Moses: others, still, were limited to the individuals to whom they were given, and were intended to be obeyed only for once; such were the dipping of the Syrian leper seven times in Jordan; the washing of the eyes of the blind man in the pool of Siloam; Elijah’s casting a stick into Jordan to make an iron axe swim; Peter’s being sent to catch a fish, to take from its mouth a piece of money to pay taxes with; the sending of handkerchiefs or aprons from the body of Paul for the healing of the sick, and for the casting out of devils; and thousands of other simple means, were intended for the blessing of individuals only, and not to be continued for the observance of others. All these institutions last named were given by the revelations of the Spirit, at the time they were needed; they were of such a nature, that they could not be derived from any permanent or standing law; but in all ages require new revelation to make them manifest.
50.—Among the permanent and standing ordinances through which God, in all dispensations, has conferred blessings, may be mentioned,
THE LAYING ON OF HANDS
51.—In the patriarchal dispensation, Jacob, by the Spirit of the Lord laid his hands upon Ephraim and Manasseh, the two sons of Joseph, and by the spirit of prophecy blessed them, and their generations after them: and the God of Jacob had respect unto this blessing, and has fulfilled upon their posterity what was prophesied and sealed upon their heads by this holy ordinance of the laying on of hands. (Genesis xlviii.)
52.—Under the Mosaic dispensation, Moses, by the command of God, laid his hands upon Joshua; and he “was full of the Spirit of wisdom.” (Deut. xxxiv. 9. Numbers xvii, 18-23.) The reason assigned for his being full of the Spirit, was the laying on of hands, which clearly shows that the Israelites understood the nature of this sacred ordinance, [p.214]and knew that God recognised it as the institution through which He shed forth the Spirit more abundantly upon His servants.
53.—Not only Israel, but the Syrians, seemed to be aware that the laying on of hands was the ordinance generally practised for the conferring of blessings. Hence, when Naaman the Syrian came to the prophet Elisha, desiring to be healed of his leprosy, he was directed to go and dip himself in Jordan seven times. “But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said Behold, I thought he will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.” (2 Kings v. II.) This man, though of another nation, believed that the God of Israel could heal him, but was, at first, evidently disappointed that Elisha did not follow the usual method of healing, by putting his hand upon him and praying for his recovery. If this had not been an ordinance in common practice among Israel, surely Naaman, of a foreign nation, would not have expected the blessing to be bestowed through that means, in preference to any other.
54.—Jesus himself, though the Son of God, and possessed of all power in heaven and on earth, did not generally exercise his power without an ordinance. Hence, we read of great multitudes of the sick and afflicted being healed by the laying on of his hands. He also put his hands upon little children, and prayed for them, and blessed them. At one time he went up into a mountain, and called “unto him whom he would; and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” (Mark iii. 13, 14.) He laid his hands upon a woman who had been bound by Satan eighteen years, and she was delivered from the evil spirit. (Luke xiii. 13, 16.) Jesus said that all believers in his Gospel should receive certain signs, among which it was promised that “they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” (Mark xvi. 18.) Jesus put his hands upon a blind man and he was partially healed; and he put his hands again upon his eyes, and he was fully restored. (Mark viii. 22-26.)
55.—The laying on of hands seems to have been the great and holy ordinance through which the Son of God usually healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, unstopped the deaf ears, restored the infirm, loosed those bound with devils, ordained to the ministry, and bestowed blessings upon little children. The laying on of hands was the sacred ordinance through which Jesus promised that all believers should heal the sick. The laying on of hands was the ordinance through which the Apostles and Prophets ordained men to different offices in the ministry, set them apart to different missions, and bestowed the gift of prophecy, tongues, and other gifts upon them. (Acts xiii. 1-4; 1 Timothy iv. 14; 2 Timothy i. 6.) It seems to have been well understood in all dispensations, as being a divine ordinance through which ordination, authority, [p.215]patriarchal and prophetic blessings, blessings upon children, the blessing of wisdom, the gift of prophecy, of healings, of tongues, and numerous other manifestations, were bestowed.
56.—It is through this holy and divine ordinance that the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire is granted. The believing Samaritans, though they had been baptized by water, and had received great joy, because of the pardon of their sins, had not received the Holy Ghost; they had been born of water, but not of the Spirit. The Holy Ghost was withheld from them, because they had not received the holy ordinance of the laying on of hands. Philip had authority to baptize them with water, but he had not authority to minister this higher ordinance: the ministration of this ordinance pertained to a higher calling than either Philip or John the Baptist held. Jesus and those ordained to the same Apostleship with him, were the ones, not only to minister water baptism, but to minister the still greater baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire, by the laying on of their hands.
57.—Hence, “when the Apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts viii.)
58.—The Apostles at Jerusalem were well aware that the Samaritans could not receive the Holy Ghost without an authorized ministry’s laying hands upon them for that blessing. The Samaritans had believed; they had repented; they had been baptized for the remission of sins; they had obtained great joy; but notwithstanding all these things, they lacked one of the most important and essential blessings of the Gospel—the gift of the Holy Ghost. To secure this blessing, they must comply with a higher ordinance which could only be administered by a higher authority. It was therefore, of the utmost importance that such higher authority should be sent from Jerusalem to administer the Spirit to them; for without it they could not enter into the kingdom of God.
59.—The reason why the Holy Ghost was withheld from the Samaritans, until it was imparted through the ministry, was because God designed them and all others to understand that the laying on of hands was a divine ordinance; and that the people must expect, not only the remission of sins, but the gift of the Holy Ghost through the ordinances of the Gospel, administered, by divine authority.
60.—To show the regard which the Lord had for this ordinance, he would not bestow the Holy Ghost upon Saul of Tarsus only through this means. Ananias addressed Saul upon this subject as follows—”The [p.216]Lord, even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Act ix. 17.) It appears that Saul’s faith, repentance, prayers, and fasting, were not sufficient to entitle him to this precious gift, independent of an administrator. It is very common, at the present day, for persons to expect the gift of the Spirit without an authorized ministry’s laying their hands upon them. But God’s plan of bestowing blessings generally differs from that of man’s invention. If Saul could have received the Spirit without a man of God to minister it to him, why did the Lord send Ananias to him that he might “be filled with the Holy Ghost ?”
61.—We also read that the Ephesians “were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied.” (Acts xix. 5, 6.)
62.—In speaking of “the first principles of the oracles of God,” Paul mentions “the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands,” in connection with faith and repentance. (see Hebrews v. 12; also vi. 2.)
63.—From all these passages, we learn that the laying on of hands for the baptism of the Holy Ghost, was one of the first ordinances to be administered immediately after water baptism; it being as essential to man’s salvation, as faith, repentance, water baptism, the Lord’s Supper, or prayer; for no man can be saved without receiving the Holy Ghost; and no man can receive this gift who is not willing to receive this ordinance of the gospel. When a man has it in his heart to obey every requirement of the Gospel, the Lord may sometimes grant unto him remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost, before he obeys any outward ordinance, as in the case of Cornelius and his household. But should any one, after having received these blessings, refuse to obey these ordinances, the blessings would be taken from them and they could not be saved.
64.—God has, in our day, restored the authority of the Apostleship to the earth, and commanded His servants to call on all nations, priests and people, to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins; and He has also commanded them to confirm the Holy Ghost upon all baptized believers, by laying their hands upon them in the name of His Son Jesus Christ. In obedience to these divine commands the Apostles and ministers of this Church are now visiting the nations of the Gentiles, crying repentance, exhorting the people to turn away from their sins, and believe in the great and infinitely important message, contained in the Book of Mormon which God has, in mercy, revealed by holy angels, to prepare a people to abide the great and terrible day of the Lord.
65.—All who will, with honest hearts, receive this preparatory mes-[p.217]sage for the coming of Christ, will receive a testimony by the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, of its divine authenticity. And these manifestations shall be such, as to give them the most perfect knowledge of its truth; so that they can bear record, not merely as believers, but as witnesses, having a knowledge from God. Faith in a divine message is one thing, but knowledge is another. Faith leads to obedience, but knowledge follows obedience. Faith is the result of evidence presented to the mind from without; but knowledge is the result of the operations of the Holy Ghost directly upon the mind, which gives greater certainty than can be obtained in any other way.
66.—Have you dear Reader, received the baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of the hands of one having authority from God? If you have not, you are not a new creature in Christ; you have not been born of the Spirit; you are unprepared to enter into the presence of beings who dwell with God; for they are full of the Holy Ghost, having been cleansed and purified by the Spirit; having been renewed in mind. Without you are cleansed, sanctified, purified, and made a new creature, through the operations of this quickening, life-giving, all-powerful Spirit, you cannot enter heaven and dwell with God. Do not deceive yourself, and suppose that you can receive this precious gift, by merely asking for it, when you are not willing to obey the ordinances which God has ordained through which you are to receive this blessing. Do not flatter yourself that God will hear your prayers when you ask for His Spirit, if you do not obey. Your prayers will be a mockery, unless you are willing to obey whatever is required, however simple the ordinances may be.
67.—Let me kindly and affectionately exhort you, dear Reader, to immediately repent of all your sins, and be immersed by one having authority, for the remission of them, and be confirmed by the holy ordinance of the laying on of hands, as the Scriptures direct for the gift of the Holy Ghost. If you will do these things, you shall most assuredly be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with Fire, and be filled with the love of God, and enjoy a bright hope of eternal life.