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´╗┐Title: The Plan of Salvation
Author: Morgan, John Hartman
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE PLAN OF SALVATION.

BY ELDER JOHN MORGAN.

PRINTED AND PUBLISHED AT THE MILLENNIAL STAR OFFICE, 295 EDGE LANE,
LIVERPOOL.

In the midst of the Christian world there are very many conflicting
theories, in relation to man's existence here and hereafter; also as to
the duties he owes to himself, his fellow-man and to his Creator. It
is an undisputed question that some knowledge of WHERE WE CAME FROM,
WHY WE ARE HERE, AND WHERE WE GO AFTER WE LEAVE THIS PROBATION, is
essential to the enjoyment and well-being of the human family.

In the following pages of this tract we shall seek to briefly set forth
the belief of the Latter-day Saints on these points. While they may
differ widely from the accepted ideas of the Christian world, we may be
allowed to mildly suggest, that this difference is not so much between
the sects of the day and the Latter-day Saints, as it is between those
sects and the Bible, a fact for which we are in no sense responsible,
and a fact that we can in nowise alter or change, even were we so
disposed.

It is deemed proper in the commencement of this investigation, to
refer to another point, so that we may clearly understand each other.
It is this: sincerity of belief does not by any means establish the
correctness of a principle. Testimony of an unimpeachable character
can alone do that. Man's belief does not affect a principle in the
least. The whole world may believe it and yet it be untrue; the whole
world may refuse to believe it, and yet it be true. The unbelief of the
people of Noah's day did not stay the flood; the unbelief of the Jews
did not prove Jesus an impostor; and the killing of the apostles did
not prove their doctrines false. The assassination of Joseph Smith was
no proof one way or another as to the divine nature of his authority;
neither will the rejection of the doctrines he taught prove them wrong.
If they are true, though he was slain, his followers mobbed, driven
and persecuted, yet in the end they will rise triumphant over every
obstacle and grow stronger and stronger, as error shall grow weaker and
weaker.

In presenting the principles of _pre-existence_, the _first principles
of the gospel_ and _baptism for the dead_, we shall simply quote
scripture; and we again state that if there is any difference of
opinion it is between the reader and holy writ.

The apostle Paul's injunction to the Thessalonians, was: "Prove all
things: hold fast that which is good" (I.Thess. 5:21); and the wise man
Solomon's assertion, was: "He that judgeth a matter before he heareth
it is not wise."

Let us, then, refer to the word of the Lord, which is the end of
argument, and see what the teachings of the Great Creator of all are.

Speaking to Job, one of the most ancient writers of the Bible, He says:
"Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up
thy loins like a man: for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? * * * When
the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for
joy?" (Job 38:2-7.)

Job certainly must have been somewhere when the "foundations of the
earth" were laid, or why the query?

There was doubtless more meaning to the words, "When ALL _the sons of
God_ shouted for joy," than one at first supposes. The reader asks,
"Who were these sons of God?" Luke, in giving the genealogy of the
human family, gives the necessary information on this subject: "which
was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of
_Adam, which was the_ SON OF GOD." (Luke 3:38.) But let us turn to
another text. One of the ancient writers says: "Then shall the dust
return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who
gave it." (Ecc. 12:7.)

Let us ask ourselves how it would be possible to _return_ to a place,
point or locality, which we had never visited. How could we _return_
to God unless we had once been in His presence? The logical conclusion
is unavoidable, that to enable us to _return_ to him we must have once
enjoyed His association, which must have been in a pre-existent state,
before our spirit became clothed with this body of flesh and bone.

Again, we find that the apostles must have had some conception of
pre-existence, judging from their question to Jesus: "Master, who did
sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2.) It
will, doubtless, require no argument to convince the reader that the
justice of God would scarcely permit the punishment of the individual
before the crime was committed. If so, then the sin must have been
committed before he came upon the earth, for he was _born blind_. It
was evident that the question was not a doubtful one in the minds of
the apostles as to whether a man _could_ sin previous to his existence
in the flesh, but as to whether this particular man had sinned or not.

Paul, in his writings to the Hebrews, says: "Furthermore we have had
fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence:
shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits,
and live?" (Heb. 12:9.) We here gain the information as to who the
sons of God were who _shouted for joy_ in the beginning. We also learn
the reason why we address Him as, "Our Father which art in heaven," to
distinguish Him from the father of our earthly tabernacles. In other
words, He is the father of the spirits that inhabit our bodies, in
precisely the same sense that our earthly fathers are the fathers of
our bodies of flesh and bone.

When death ensues we bury the earthly body, which decomposes and
mingles with the elements surrounding its place of deposit; but what of
the spirit which "returns unto God who gave it?"

When Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, "They were
affrighted, and supposed they had seen a spirit"; but He corrected
them, saying, "Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and
bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24: 37-39.) From these words we gather
the information that man, while existing as a spirit, did not have a
body of flesh and bone, but nevertheless, existed in the exact shape
and form that he now possesses. He had eyes to see, ears to hear,
and many other faculties with which man is here endowed. He was also
doubtless in possession of intelligence, and much that goes to ennoble
man. He had the ability to pass from place to place, increase in
knowledge, and perform certain duties that devolved upon him in that
sphere of action.

An unembodied spirit is one that has not yet taken upon itself a body.
An embodied spirit is one dwelling in the flesh. A disembodied spirit
is one that has passed through this stage of existence and laid its
body down in the grave, to be finally taken up again united, spirit and
body, those of the righteous never more to be separated.

The word of the Lord to Jeremiah was, "Before I formed thee in the
belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I
sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."
(Jer. 1:5.) Here we have the sure word of the Lord relating to one
of the children of men, who was but a type of the rest, only that in
this particular case we have the fact made known that, for good and
sufficient reasons, our common Father in the heavens saw proper to
ordain one of His children to a certain office prior to sending him
down upon the earth. Having so gained the confidence of his Father
while in his first or pre-existent state, he was ordained to a high and
holy calling, previous to his advent upon the earth, and we learn from
holy writ, that this confidence was not misplaced, but that he in honor
filled his mission and proved himself true to the trust reposed in him,
not veering or turning a hair's breadth from the line of his duty,
though met by obstacles sufficient to appall the stoutest heart.

The reader will please be cautious not to confound the principle of
fore-ordination with that of predestination, in the case of Jeremiah,
for there is a broad distinction between the two. A man may be
fore-ordained, set apart or commanded to do a certain work, yet he
retains his agency in the matter, and it is optional with him whether
he performs the duty assigned him or not. If predestinated to perform
a certain work, there would be no choice but to do that work. Not
having any choice, he would not incur the responsibility of his own
actions, nor control them, but would be controlled by the power which
predestined him. While Jeremiah was fore-ordained to be a prophet to
the nations, we do not read that he was predestined to fill the office
of a prophet by any means.

The principle of pre-existence is plainly illustrated in the life of
our Savior, who thus spake to the people: "What and if ye shall see the
Son of man ascend up where He was before?" (John 6:62.) Again, "And
no man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven."
To all human appearance, Jesus resembled very much the rest of the
children of our common Father. So close was this resemblance, that
those by whom He was surrounded failed to see any contrast between
Him and any ordinary man. They enquired of each other, "Is not this
the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren,
James, and Joses, and Simon and Judas?"

Let us ask ourselves the question: Is it so difficult to comprehend
our own pre-existence, when that of Jesus is so plainly taught, and
also that of many of the Biblical characters of whom we read? Paul,
the great apostle, speaking of himself, says, "In hope of eternal
life, which God, that cannot lie, _promised before the world began_."
(Titus 1:2.) Here was a promise made to Paul of eternal life, "_before
the world began_," conditioned upon obedience, as was said to Cain
aforetime, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" (Genesis
4:7.) Yet, notwithstanding this promise, Paul was under the necessity
of performing certain duties to enable him to claim the promise made.
After being stricken with blindness on the way up to Damascus, and
hearing the voice of a risen Redeemer, he was told to "Arise and go
into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." (Acts
9:6.) After fasting and prayer, he was visited at the end of three
days, by one Ananias, who had been commanded of the Lord in vision, to
visit Paul, and was furthermore told, that he was a "chosen vessel,"
or, in other words, one whom the Lord hath made promises to before the
"world began," and who had a mission to perform before "Gentiles, and
kings, and the children of Israel." The question of Ananias was, "And
now why tarriest thou? Arise, and _be baptized_, and wash away thy
sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16.)

We have presented for the consideration of the reader but a few
Biblical proofs of man's pre-existence, out of the many that can be
selected, yet consider that sufficient has been advanced to show
conclusively that the claim of the Latter-day Saints to a belief in
this principle is founded upon holy writ. Their ideas only coincide
with the prophets and servants of God in all ages of the world who have
alluded to this subject.

Having answered the question: _Where did we come from?_ let us now
consider

WHY WE ARE HERE.

A wise Creator must have had some great object in view in the creation
of the earth, and placing upon it His children, to pass through what
they are called upon to, while in this probation. A knowledge of this
object is almost positively necessary to enable the human family to act
well their part. Let us then examine what He had in view.

The primary object of man's existence upon the earth is to obtain a
body of flesh and bone; for without this it is impossible to advance in
the grand scale of being in which he is to move in the eternal worlds.

It is necessary also for him to learn, by actual experience, the
difference between good and evil. As was said of our first parents,
"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know
good and evil." (Gen. 3:22.)

It is necessary that man taste the bitter to enable him to appreciate
the sweet. No proper appreciation of the value of eternal life could be
arrived at, without having experienced its opposite.

A man must feel the effects of sickness to enable him to fully
appreciate the great boon of health. He must feel the effects of pain,
before he can enjoy immunity therefrom. He must feel the influence
and power of death, before he can appreciate eternal life. He must
comprehend the effects of sin before he can enjoy "the rest promised to
the faithful." There are many experiences that he can gain in the flesh
that cannot be obtained elsewhere. There are ordinances to be performed
and eternal unions to be perfected, that in the wise economy of the
great Creator, must be effected here on the earth. Baptism for the
remission of sins and marriage for eternity, are prominent features of
duty that devolve upon man in his second state, or during his existence
upon the earth. It is not all of man's duty to care for himself alone,
to selfishly neglect his fellow-man, and seek aggrandizement himself
at their expense. "Do unto others as ye would that they should do
unto you," is called the Golden Rule, by which men should be governed
in this life. In brief, man has a work to do to prepare himself for
a future exaltation in the eternities to come. He is called upon to
"work out his salvation with fear and trembling," for the work done in
this life will have its influence in that to come. By obedience to the
principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he prepares himself for the
grand and glorious exaltation held in reserve for those who worship
God in "Spirit and in truth." As Jesus said to His apostles, "I go to
prepare a place for you," for "in my Father's house are many mansions."

Having learned why we are here, let us examine what is the nature of
the duties devolving upon us.

FAITH.

To enable a man to perform any work whatever, requires that he have
faith in the ultimate result of the work. No farmer would plant unless
he expected to reap; no builder build, unless he expected to inhabit;
no speculator invest unless he expected to increase his means; no
journey would be attempted unless there existed hope of reaching the
destination. So, likewise, no commandment of God would be obeyed,
unless there existed faith that certain blessings would follow
obedience.

With this idea plainly before us, we can comprehend the assertion of
the Apostle Paul to the Hebrews, "But without faith it is impossible to
please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that
he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Heb. 11:6.)

We find the active workings of the principle of faith in the many
cases of healing performed by our Savior. "Thy faith hath made thee
whole," was the invariable remark he made to one and all: and we find
him speaking to the apostles in the strongest terms about their lack
of this great principle. Upon one occasion they came to Him with the
question: "Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them,
Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have _faith_
as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove
hence to yonder place; and it shall remove, and nothing shall be
impossible unto you." (Matt. 17:19, 20.) Again, we read, "And He did
not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Matt. 13:58),
or in other words, they had no faith in the claim He made to being the
Messiah; consequently, they were deprived of the blessings that fell
to those that had faith, as mankind to-day are depriving themselves
of many _great and glorious_ blessings, through their unbelief in the
divine calling of Joseph Smith, the prophet and seer.

We often hear the same cry to-day that greeted the ears of Jesus,
"Master, we would see a sign from thee. But He answered and said unto
them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." (Matt.
12:38, 39.)

What was true of the generation was true of the individual, and
what was true then is true now, which places sign-seekers in a most
unenviable position, but doubtless where they justly belong. Faith is
not produced by sign-seeing, but in the words of Paul, "Faith cometh by
_hearing_, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17.)

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, He left this grand test of
faith upon record, to serve as a guide for all future generations: "And
these signs _shall_ follow _them that believe_" (or have faith); "In
my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it
shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall
recover." (Mark 16:17, 18.)

"But," says one, "was it not intended that these gifts and blessings
should be limited to the days of the apostles, and to the apostles
themselves?" Read again, "shall follow them that _believe_"; and again,
the preceding verse reads, "He that _believeth_ and is baptized shall
be saved." If you limit the signs following the believer to the day
of the apostles, you must also limit salvation to that day. But it is
to-day as it was in the day Paul wrote to the Hebrews: "For unto us was
the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did
not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
(Heb. 4:2.)

The cultivation of this principle of faith is the first step in our
duties in this life. The second step is that of

REPENTANCE. "Repent, and _turn_ yourselves from _all_ your
transgressions: so iniquity shall not be your ruin." (Ezek. 18:30.)
"Let the wicked forsake his way." (Isaiah 4:7.) "Repent * * * every one
of you." (Acts 2:38.) "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish."
(Luke 13:3.)

We understand that repentance does not consist in mourning over sins
committed, and then repeating the same sin or one equally heinous, but
that Ezekiel meant for the people to cease from doing wrong, to quit
their evil practices, and walk in the paths of rectitude, virtue and
true holiness. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not
to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (II.
Cor. 7:10.) We believe that the "sorrow of the world" here alluded to,
is the too prevalent practice of crying, groaning and moaning over our
wrong-doing, and then continuing the same practice.

The third step for man to take in this life to secure salvation in the
eternal world, is to be

BAPTIZED.

"He that believeth" (that is, he that hath faith) "and is _baptized_
shall be saved" (Mark 16:16), was the emphatic assertion of our Savior.
Again we find that man came under condemnation by refusing obedience
to this commandment; "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the
counsel of God against themselves, being _not baptized_ of him." (Luke
7:30.) So the world of to-day will, in the end, find themselves under
condemnation for refusing to obey this principle of the gospel. "Except
a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he _can not_ enter into the
kingdom of God." (John 3:5.)

Paul, writing to the Hebrews, says: "Therefore, leaving out the
principles of the doctrines of Christ, let us go on unto perfection:
not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of
faith toward God, of the _doctrine of baptisms_, and of laying on of
hands." (Heb. 6:1, 2.) Here are four principles all classed together,
all equally important, all equally necessary, and all required at our
hands by those fixed and eternal laws of truth and justice by which the
worlds are governed, and by which we may return back into the presence
of God, and dwell with the just, the true and the pure of all ages.

The fourth step necessary for man to take while in this state of
probation, is to receive

THE LAYING ON OF HANDS.

for the reception of the Holy Ghost. This is a principle, to a great
extent, ignored by the Christian world, yet plainly taught in the
scriptures.

Peter and his brethren of the twelve had doubtless all been baptised,
and endeavored to lead holy lives during their association with Jesus;
yet we find Him, just previous to His ascension on high, telling them,
"Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the
city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And He
led them out as far as to Bethany, and He _lifted up His hands_, and
blessed them." (Luke 24:49, 50.)

We find a still further explanation of the manner of obtaining this
gift and blessing, in the Acts of the Apostles, where 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 1:4, 5.)

Turning to the account of the ministry of Philip in Samaria, we find
that after the Samaritans had exercised FAITH sufficient to cause them
to REPENT, they had been BAPTIZED under the hands of Philip. "Now 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 8:14-17.)

Paul, writing to Timothy, charged him thus: "Neglect not the gift that
is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of
hands of the presbytery." (I. Tim. 4:14); and again, "Wherefore I put
thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in
thee by putting on of my hands." (II. Tim. 1:6.)

We also call the attention of the reader to the account of Paul's visit
to the baptized saints of Ephesus, and his inquiry of them: "Have ye
received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We
have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. * * * Then
they 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 19:2-5.)

Sufficient has doubtless been said to clearly establish the fact that
the gift of the Holy Ghost was formerly obtained by the laying on of
the hands of those who held the authority to do so. Nowhere do we
find that the order here laid down has been supplanted or annulled.
On the contrary, the apostle spoke in the strongest terms against any
innovation upon the established forms that Jesus taught them.

Paul, writing to the Galatians, speaks of those who were "perverting"
the gospel; doubtless teaching that the laying on of hands was not
necessary, or else that it was done away with, and says, "But though
we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that
which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8.)

The reader has now examined the fourth step for man's advancement
in the probation in which he is now living; and in the words of our
Savior, "He that entereth not by the _door_ into the sheepfold, but
climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." (John
10:1.)

We have traced man from a pre-existent state, before the world began,
when he dwelt in the presence of the Father, and of our elder Brother,
Jesus, and mingled with the spirits who have or shall come into this
sphere of action.

As it is beautifully expressed in one of the songs of Zion:



"Oh my Father, Thou that dwellest In the high and glorious place! When
shall I regain Thy presence, And again behold Thy face? In Thy holy
habitation, Did my spirit once reside? In my first primeval childhood,
Was I nurtured near Thy side?

For a wise and glorious purpose Thou hast placed me here on earth, And
withheld the recollection, Of my former friends and birth; Yet ofttimes
a secret something Whisper'd, 'You're a stranger here' And I felt that
I had wandered From a more exalted sphere."



This is certainly a grander and nobler conception of man's origin that
that of some of the would-be philosophers of to-day, who advocate the
idea of evolution from a lower scale.

Having described the nature of the duties (to have faith in God and His
promises, to repent of his sins, to be baptized for their remission,
and to receive the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost)
that he must perform in this life to lay a foundation for future
exaltation, we now turn to the consideration of man's FUTURE EXISTENCE.

Upon this subject there is a great diversity of opinion among men,
and almost every possible conjecture has, from time to time, held the
attention of the human family. If we are to judge by the accepted
creeds of the Christian world, we find that an almost universal belief
exists in future punishment.

We find, also, that the fear of future punishment is used as a mighty
power to influence the minds of the people in a religious sense. The
fearful horrors of the never-ending punishment of the guilty are
portrayed in the liveliest colors from the Christian pulpits of the
land. They are so clearly defined, that in many instances we find that
the love and justice of God are lost sight of in the description of
the fearful character of the punishment He inflicts, not so much upon
unbelievers as upon those who reject the creeds, articles of faith and
discipline, whereby men seek to "know God."

Let the reader lay aside preconceived notions, tradition and prejudice,
and examine this subject with a desire to know the truth.

We shall again refer to holy writ, and ask the candid attention of the
reader to the proofs we place before him.

If we had the history of two persons, the one good and the other bad,
after they left the earth, or laid down their bodies in death, it would
serve as a guide to decide upon the future destiny of the whole human
family. Fortunately, there is left upon record such information, and by
it we can determine this all-important question.

No one will dispute the assertion that Jesus of Nazareth was
appropriately termed the "Just One," a person of pure and holy life.

The confession of guilt by one of the men crucified beside Jesus, is
testimony enough to convict him of being a bad man. "We received the
due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss" (Luke
23:41), were the words of the malefactor, thus confessing that death
was the proper penalty for the many crimes he was guilty of.

Now, here are two persons who were born upon the earth, lived out a
certain number of years, and then laid down their lives, their bodies
becoming cold and inanimate in death, while their spirits, freed from
their earthly tenements, passed into another stage of existence,
leaving their remains to be cared for in the ordinary rites of
sepulture.

While suffering the agonies of crucifixion, a conversation was carried
on between them, which will serve our purpose in opening up an
investigation.

"And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy
kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt
thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:42, 43.)

The request of the thief was so far favorably looked upon, that he
had the promise that he should accompany Jesus to a place which He
designated as paradise. He could not have consistently granted him
the privilege of entering into His kingdom, when He had replied to
Nicodemus: "Except a man be born of water (baptized) and of the Spirit
(received the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost)
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5.) The thief,
not having attended to these ordinances, could lay no claim to that
privilege; but, says Jesus, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

We are aware that the majority of the Bible-believing world are of
the opinion that the thief was permitted to enter heaven, and enjoy
the presence of God; but is this idea a correct one? Let us candidly
examine it, and see; for upon it hangs a great principle of truth.

After the body of Jesus had lain three days in the tomb, the spirit
again entered into it. The angels rolled the stone away from the mouth
of the sepulchre, and the resurrected Redeemer of the world walked
forth, clothed with an immortal body of flesh and bones.

Mary, who seems to have had some special interest in the Savior, came
early to the tomb, and weeping, discovered that the body of her Master
was not there. A voice spake to her, saying, "Mary. She turned herself,
and saith unto Him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto
her, Touch me not; for I AM NOT YET ASCENDED TO MY FATHER: but go to my
brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father;
and to my God, and your God." (John 20:16, 17.)

Here we have the assertion of Jesus, Himself, that during the three
days immediately subsequent to His crucifixion, while His body lay in
the tomb, His spirit did not go into heaven or the presence of His
Father. Logically, it must follow, neither did that of the thief. The
generally accepted idea, therefore, of the thief being saved, must
inevitably fall to the ground. Jesus asserted that "To-day shalt thou
be with me in paradise," and upon His return to the earth, He informed
Mary that He had not ascended to His Father.

The question naturally arises, where had He been during these three
days? We are not left in doubt upon this point, but scripture plainly
points out the character of the duties He was called upon to perform,
while His body rested in peace in the new-made tomb of Joseph. He to
whom Jesus transferred the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and who stood
at the head of the twelve apostles, would certainly be accepted as a
competent witness in this matter; and, by turning to his epistles, we
gain this information: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins,
the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to
death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also He went
and PREACHED UNTO THE SPIRITS IN PRISON." (I. Peter 3:18, 19.) Here we
have an account of what He was doing during the three days absence from
the body: preaching "unto the spirits in prison," also a very clear
explanation as to where the thief went. It was to a prison world, where
he could have an opportunity to hear the Savior preach the gospel of
deliverance to the captive spirits, "which sometime were disobedient,
when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah." (I.
Peter 3:20.)

We now understand what Isaiah, the prophet, meant, when speaking
of Jesus. He says, "That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go
forth." (Isaiah 49:9.) And again, "He hath sent me to bind up the
broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the _captives_, and the opening
of the _prison to them that are bound_." (Isaiah 61:1.) And again, "To
open the blind eyes, to bring out the _prisoners_ from the _prison_,
and them that sit in darkness out of the _prison house_." (Isaiah 52:7.)

How appropriately do these passages coincide with, and support the
assertion of Peter, relative to Jesus preaching to the "spirits
in prison." Men, who in the days of the flood failed to obey the
commandments of God, and for two thousand long, weary years had
suffered the penalty for their wrong doing, had been fulfilling the
principle so clearly enunciated by our Savior, when He said, "Verily, I
say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast
paid the uttermost farthing." (Matt. 5:26.) "And that servant, which
knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according
to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not,
and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few
stripes." (Luke 12:47, 48.)

With what joy must these long-suffering spirits, held in confinement,
have greeted the Redeemer when He appeared and preached to them the
glad tidings of great joy, and presented for their acceptance the
EVERLASTING GOSPEL! Through its means they could have their prison
doors opened, and themselves delivered from the grasp of Lucifer, the
son of the morning, who is appropriately described as one who "made
the earth to tremble, and did shake kingdoms; that made the world as
a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that _opened not the
house of his prisoners_." (Isaiah 14:16, 17.)

How grand and glorious is the plan of salvation that the Creator has
ordained for His children, reaching from eternity to eternity, and
covering in its details every possible emergency; controlling, guiding
and directing their footsteps while in a pre-existent state; teaching
them while sojourners upon the earth, and extending beyond the grave
into the spirit world, there to cause their hearts to rejoice and
gladden under its benign influence, growing and increasing in might and
majesty, power and glory, as the ages roll by, until the inspired words
of our Divine Master shall be fulfilled: "Every knee shall bow, and
every tongue confess."

Well might Jesus say to the apostles just previous to His death,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when
the _dead_ shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear
shall live * * * Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in which
all that are in the _graves_ shall hear his voice." (John 5:25-28.)

Turning again to the epistle of Peter, we find this assertion, "Who
shall give account to him who is ready to judge the quick and the
_dead_. For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that
_are dead_, that they might be judged according to _men in the flesh_,
but live according to God in the spirit." (I. Peter 4:5, 6.)

Jesus, upon one occasion, when explaining the gospel to the apostles,
said, "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be
forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall
not be forgiven him, _neither in this world, neither in the world to
come_." (Matt. 12:32.)

This, in perfect plainness, explains itself to mean, that there is a
class of sins that can be forgiven in this world, and a class that
cannot; also that there is a class of sins that can be forgiven in the
world to come, and a class that cannot.

Peter, speaking of the patriarch David, says, "For David is not
ascended into the heavens." (Acts 2:34.) But David himself, knowing
full well that the mercy of the Lord endureth forever, says, "For thou
will not leave my soul in hell." (Psalm 16:10.) He knew that after he
had paid the penalty of the deeds done in the body, there would be a
way whereby he might gain a place in the midst of the righteous in the
presence of God.

If the present generation desire to know what will be the result of
their disobedience to the proclamation of the principles of the gospel,
and their contending against the servants of God who proclaim them, let
them read what Isaiah says: "The earth shall reel to and fro like a
drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage. * * * And it shall come
to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the hosts of the high
ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And
they shall be _gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit,
and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be
visited_." (Isaiah 24:20-22.)

After having waited, perhaps, as long as they did who rejected the word
of God in the days of Noah--after having passed through, perchance,
thousands of years of punishment, until they have "paid the uttermost
farthing," then the gospel will again be presented to them, and "they
will be visited." Another opportunity will be given them to hearken
unto the truth, but in the meantime, the saints of former and latter
days will have advanced in the scale of progression and passed beyond
the reach of those who, to-day, reject "the counsel of God against
themselves, being not baptized." A separation will have taken place, in
which there shall be "weeping and wailing," sorrow and mourning, over
the neglect to obey the gospel when there was opportunity.

In accordance with divine law, "they were judged every man _according
to their works_" (Rev. 20:13), not indiscriminately consigning all
grades and classes of sinners to the same punishment, and that to
continue forever, but meting out judgment according to their works,
some with many stripes and some with but few.

Would it not be a libel upon justice, if a judge, presiding over one
of our ordinary courts, should award to every criminal brought before
him, the same punishment? "If ye then, being evil, know how to give
good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is
in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" Certainly the law of
poor, weak, mortal man is not superior to that of the Judge of all.

Paul beautifully and aptly expresses the principle in writing to the
Corinthians: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of
all men most miserable" (I. Cor. 15:19); but knowing that the gospel
would be preached to the spirits in prison, and that untold millions of
those who failed to accept the gospel here would do so there, he felt
to rejoice in his heart instead of being the most miserable of men. He
was fully aware that there was but one way to be saved, "One Lord, one
faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:5); that it was positively necessary for
man to pass through the door to enter into the sheepfold; that the many
devices whereby men sought to save themselves must of necessity fail,
for "God's house is a house of order." He knew there was _only_ one
name under heaven whereby men might be saved; that obedience to this
law was a prime necessity to salvation, for "in vain do ye say, Lord,
Lord, and do not the things I command you."

Knowing these facts, the life of every good and true man, as was Paul,
would be rendered miserable at the thought that so many millions of
the human family must irretrievably perish, and be subject to torture
throughout all the eternities to come; but understanding the great
principle of the mission of our Savior to the prison world, they can
rejoice in the fact that the plan of salvation is a complete one. They
have hope that, not only in this life, but in the life to come, the
gospel will be preached and men be taught its precepts.

We here introduce the evidence of some learned men, who have a
reputation for scholarly ability, far and wide.

Professor Taylor Lewis, a prominent English writer, states: "We are
taught that there was a work of Christ in Hades, He descended into
Hades; He made proclamation in Hades to those who are there, in ward."

Bishop Alford says: "I understand these words (I. Peter 3:19) to
say that our Lord, in His disembodied state, did go to the place of
detention of departed spirits, and did there announce His work of
redemption; preach salvation in fact, to the disembodied spirits of
those who refused to obey the voice of God when the judgment of the
flood was hanging over them."

Professor A. Hinderkoper, a German writer, says: "In the second and
third centuries _every branch and division of the Christian church_, so
far as their records enable us to judge, _believed that Christ preached
to the departed spirits _." (Haley's _Discrepancies of the Bible_.)

These writers were willing to ignore the teachings of tradition, and
let the words of inspired men mean just what they said, without any
"private interpretation."

God, being no respecter of persons, it would be manifestly unjust for
one portion of the human family to have the privilege of hearing the
sound of the gospel in this life, while so great a proportion never
hear it, and lie under condemnation from that fact. No; the plan of
salvation is complete, and, reaching from our pre-existent state,
applies to our present condition, and will extend to the future state,
until every son and duaghter of Father Adam has had ample opportunity
to embrace its tenets, and live in accordance with its spirit.

We have now examined the gospel proof of pre-existence, and quoted the
testimony of Jesus and many of the servants of the Most High. We have
gone over the ground of the duties that pertain to this life, connected
with _faith, repentance, baptism_ for the remission of sins, and the
_laying on of hands_ for the gift of the Holy Ghost,[A] and examined
the scriptures relative _to preaching to spirits in prison_.

[Footnote A: Should the reader desire a more complete treatise on these
important points, we refer him to Tract No. 1.]

We now take one more step in our investigation, and shall endeavor
to learn if there is a way wrought out for the deliverance of the
prisoners bound and captive in the grasp of Satan.

The fact of their being preached to, is one evidence that something
could be done to mitigate their condition, for it would be cruelty
intensified, if, after being taught the gospel, it would be necessary
to inform them that there was no deliverance.

The word of the Lord through the prophet Malachi, was "Behold, I
will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and
dreadful day of the Lord: and He shall turn the heart of the fathers to
the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I
come and smite the earth with a curse." (Mal. 4:5, 6.) Here was a work
for the translated prophet of Israel to perform at some future period
of time, with the fearful consequence of non-compliance placed before
us, that the Lord would smite the earth with a curse. The nature of
that work is briefly set forth as turning the heart of the fathers to
the children, and that of the children to the fathers.

The apostle Paul asserts that they without us could "not be made
perfect," or in other words, that their salvation was necessary to our
happiness or perfection.

Jesus, speaking to Nicodemus, said: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
Except a man be born of _water_ and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into
the kingdom of God."

"But," asks the reader, "how shall a spirit be born of water, or
baptized in water?"

Very many of those who have gone into the spirit world had never
submitted to the ordinance of baptism, while vast numbers of those who
had been baptized, had the ordinance administered by persons who had no
rightful authority whatever, and whose acts God will not by any means
recognize.

They stand in the same position to the "kingdom of God" that a man
does, who, as an alien to the government of the United States, has
received his papers of citizenship from a man who held no office under
government, and, as a consequence, had no authority to confer those
rights upon any one.

Paul, writing to the Hebrews, speaks of baptism in the plural: "Not
laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith
toward God, and of the _doctrine of baptisms_." (Heb. 6:1, 2.)

Many have supposed this passage to sanction the idea of different
modes of baptism, but, by turning to another of Paul's epistles, we
learn clearly his meaning. We gain also the information how we may be
instruments in the hands of a wise Creator in doing a work for the
dead: "_Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the
dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptised for the dead?_" (I.
Cor. 15:29.)

We here have an explanation as to how their prison doors may be opened,
and they set free: by the ordinance of the gospel through the baptism
for the dead. Those that are in the flesh can do a vicarious work for
their dead, and become "saviors upon Mount Zion."

We here insert an account of the visit of Elijah to the earth, in
fulfillment of the promise of the Lord through Malachi.

On the 3rd day of April, 1836, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver
Cowdery, while in the temple at Kirtland, had the vision of heaven
opened, and Elijah, the prophet, who was taken to heaven without
tasting death, stood before them and said: "Behold the time has fully
come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi, testifying that
he (Elijah) should be sent before the great and dreadful day of the
Lord come, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the
children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse.
Therefore the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands,
and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is
near, even at the doors." (_Doctrine and Covenants_, new edition, page
405.)

Elijah the prophet having come, and conferred the authority to baptize
for the dead, the Latter-day Saints are assiduously engaged in
erecting temples, wherein this ordinance may be performed. The object
of Elijah's visit having been partially accomplished, in causing the
hearts of the fathers, dead and gone, to turn to the children here on
earth, the children are feeling after the fathers and seeking to open
their prison doors, and to bring them through the door of baptism into
the sheep fold.

Not only are the elders of Israel traveling, preaching the gospel, and
baptizing the people by the thousand, but the saints are flocking to
the temples of the Lord, and redeeming their dead from the grasp of
Satan. They are performing a great and mighty work for the human family
who have lived upon the earth in different ages of the world's history,
and who, in some instances, by revelation, make manifest to their
children or friends the fact that they have accepted the gospel in the
spirit world.

The patriarchs and prophets of former days, with Peter, James and the
apostles who lived in the meridian of time, with Joseph Smith, Brigham
Young, and other prophets of the "dispensation of the fullness of
times" in the latter days, are earnestly engaged in the work of giving
information and directing the preaching of the gospel in the spirit
world.

Associated with our Father in the heavens, with the angels, and the
good and true of the earth, we can afford to smile at the puny efforts
of man to overthrow the work of God. What! can man strive against
the bucklers of Jehovah? Can the designs that have been in process
of fulfillment since the world began, now be stayed in their onward
progress, because they do not happen to meet the approval of the people
of to-day?

In conclusion, let us examine one more question that has doubtless
presented itself to the mind of the reader, and that is the question of
future punishment. If, by preaching to the spirits in prison, bringing
them to a knowledge of the truth, and being baptized for them, released
them from their prison house, it logically follows that there must be
an end to future punishment.

We hear the question asked, "Do not the scriptures say it is 'eternal
punishment' and 'everlasting punishment'?" We answer, "Yes." But let
us not put any private interpretation on these terms, but correctly
understand their meaning.

Eternal punishment is God's punishment; everlasting punishment is God's
punishment; or, in other words, it is the name of the punishment God
inflicts, He being eternal in His nature.

Whosoever, therefore, receives God's punishment, receives eternal
punishment, whether it is endured one hour, one day, one week, one
year, one age. "And they were judged every man according to their
works." (Rev. 20:13.) Some shall be beaten with few and some with many
stripes. (Luke 12:47, 48.) Here we have plainly set forth the fact that
all men are not punished alike, that some receive a greater punishment
than others; that as their works are, so shall be the punishment
awarded them. "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God:
and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the
book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were
written in the books, _according to their works_. And the sea gave up
the dead which were in it and death and _hell delivered_ up the dead
which were in them." (Rev. 20:12, 13.)

These were the words of John upon the Isle of Patmos, and most
impressively he adds, "And if any man shall take away from the words
of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the
book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are
written in this book." (Rev. 22:19.)

We consider that enough has been said to establish the principles we
have advanced, and we call upon all to whom these words shall come,
to exercise _faith_ in the gospel of Jesus Christ, to _repent_ of
their sins, to be _baptized for the remission of them_, to receive the
_laying on of hands_ for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then to serve
the God of Israel with all their might, mind and strength.



Produced by Villate Brown McKitrick and Jared Ure, Mormon Texts
Project Intern (MormonTextsProject.org)

Transcriber's Note:

This edition is meant to reproduce the original 1921 edition. Any
changes that vary from the original were minor and essential for
readability.





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