Book draft excerpt – The atonement, repentance and the spirit world

The idea that we would be given commandments and expected to keep them is a fundamental part of the gospel. We make a covenant at baptism. A covenant is a two way promise between us and the Lord.

The Lord’s plan is that it is possible for us to obtain forgiveness for our sins, to be made clean of them, through his atonement, so that even though we have made mistakes we can repent and be cleansed of those mistakes. The scriptures state that God cannot look on sin with the least degree of allowance. The atonement doesn’t alter that fact. It doesn’t make those scriptures untrue.

The wonderful news of the atonement is that any sin we repent of we can be cleansed of through the atonement. The news of the atonement is NOT that there is no need for repentance, that we are cleansed without repenting at all. The news of the atonement is NOT that we can be saved in our sins. It is that if we repent, we can be cleansed of them.

To understand the need for the atonement, we must recognize that even our PAST sins, long dead and gone, are enough to keep us out of the kingdom of heaven, even the least of them. God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. But Christ made a way of intervention, where the penalty of those past sins could be completely wiped away. Through his intervention, though our sins be red as scarlet, he can make them white as snow. The condition of that forgiveness is repentance. Any sin, including the least of them, even so much as a sin of omission, is not forgiven until we repent. If I withhold required charitable feelings from my neighbor or from someone I run across during the day that is a very small sin. Even though it is small, it is enough to keep me out of the kingdom of heaven unless I am cleansed by the atonement of Christ.

However, and this is important, the conditions of that cleansing are repentance on my part. There is no way I can say my repentance is genuine while I am still committing that sin on a consistent basis. That is not what repentance is. Repentance involves forsaking a sin. Thus my degree of cleansing is always limited by my degree of repentance and obedience. Our forgiveness and cleansing through the atonement never outstrips our willingness to repent and live cleanly.

Reading that you may immediately ask “Then who can be saved”? The answer is everyone who takes upon them the name of Christ through baptism and endures to the end. This is the day of our probation. Anyone who is still alive still has the opportunity to choose. This is the day we set our course. This is the day we choose our kingdom of glory. We don’t expect to reach perfection in this life, but this is the day of probation. That doesn’t mean it is the day when our work is completed. It is the day when we set our course. The atonement continues beyond mortality. Its affects in our life do not complete, or even culminate, at baptism. Its effects are only completed in our life when it has brought us to exaltation, but that is a long time after death has taken us.
Do we think that we can be exalted, as the Father is, without forsaking all of our sins? Of course we do not. Do we think we could ever be as pure as the Father and the Son while still having even the least sin? Ridiculous. The path may not be completed in this life, but the path Christ offers is that we are forgiven and cleansed as we repent. There is time between death and the resurrection. This time serves an important purpose in the plan. It is not just a waiting place, it is a place we can continue our progress on the path we have chosen. This is additional time granted in the spirit world for us to follow the path Christ provided for us before we dwell in the Celestial Kingdom, the place where the Father and the Son dwell, because no unclean thing can dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven, and we need to be given more time than we have in this life to prepare to enter it. The spirit world is not our final resting place with the Father and the Son. The spirit world is not where they dwell. The spirit world is here on this earth as Joseph Smith plainly taught. The kind of place where God dwells is not like this earth:
D&C 130:6 The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth;
 7 But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.
 8 The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim.
We thus have more time granted in the spirit world to prepare to enter the presence of God, to repent, and by repentance, to be able to be cleansed of our sins and receive exaltation. There is a great work of preaching the gospel to the dead to be done there, and pursuing that work will help transform us there as surely as teaching the gospel, saving our families, and redeeming the dead will save us here. In fact, Joseph Smith even makes clear that while on this side of the veil we seek to gather our dead ancestors, some who have passed on seek to gather their living descendants:
“The Kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed. The mustard seed is small, but brings forth a large tree, and the fowls lodge in the branches. The fowls are the angels. Thus angels come down, combine together to gather their children, and gather them. We cannot be made perfect without them, nor they without us; when these things are done, the Son of Man will descend, the Ancient of Days sit; we may come to an innumerable company of angels, have communion with and receive instruction from them.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Four 1839-42, p.159)
We will thus continue there in the same work we had here: to prepare ourselves and others to enter the celestial kingdom of God.
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Brigham Young – Journal of Discourses vol 11 – Opposition Essential to Happiness

I wish the few remarks which I may now make to be comprehensive and instructive.

The subject upon which Brother Wells has spoken this afternoon is a very intricate one to define. It is very difficult to convey even the ideas  which we may have respecting the operations of, to us, invisible spirits upon the hearts of the children of men; and it is very difficult to frame in the mind a system of thinking and reasoning upon this subject that is at all satisfactory. It is very difficult to form in the mind an even, and unbroken, and correct thread of ideas which will truthfully and satisfactorily explain the variations which we see in the motives and actions of mankind, and to understand the varied motives and feelings of the people, and what they design in performing such and such acts. There are some who have a correct and clear thread of ideas framed in their minds relating to this subject, but cannot convey them to their fellow beings. This is a weakness that I believe is inherent to a greater or less degree in each and every one of us.

The opposition which we find in the hearts of the children of men to the Gospel of life and salvation, Brother Wells has been setting before us this afternoon in a very able manner. Upon this subject I have my own reflections, and my own way of revealing those reflections to others.

The opposition which we see manifested against the truth in this our day has been manifested in every day and age of the world wherein the Gospel of the Son of God has been preached to the children of men. There is no difference today in this respect from what it was formerly. Our opponents tell us that were it not for the doctrine we believe, teach, and practice, there would be no difficulty—no strife between the Latter-day Saints and those who call themselves Gentiles. We are all Gentiles by birth who are not of Jewish descent. We who are called Latter-day Saints are Gentiles by birth—we are nationally so. The opposition which we have to meet is not because we believe in polygamy. That principle is not the real bone of contention, but it is the power of Satan against the power of Jesus Christ here upon this earth. It is no matter what the doctrines are; it is no matter by what name they are called, in what manner they are presented, or  by whom they are believed; it is the power of God on the one hand, and the power of Satan on the other. We can see the workings of the two spirits upon the hearts and dispositions of the children of men. Opposition to the truth is made manifest by those who render themselves servants to obey false principles or false ideas, and their actions are directed by the power of Satan against the truth of heaven in the persons of those who love and advocate it.

We have been told that when error is introduced it is generally done in a most genteel, religious, scientific, and most refined and civilized manner. The servants of sin should appear polished and pious. It is necessary they should be learned, and be able to call to their assistance the accomplishments and elegancies of science and art, and the subtle, persuasive power of rhetoric. Jesus Christ describes this class of deceivers very forcibly in the following words—”But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” This external polish is really necessary for them as a covering to make successful the introduction of false theories and false principles, and to cover up licentious and wicked lives.

The servants of God have truth, and nothing but truth, to present to the world, that the world may be sanctified by the truth. The truth needeth no polish to make it lovely and desirable to those who love it. The principles of truth and goodness, and of eternal lives and the power of God are from eternity to eternity. The principle of falsehood and wickedness, the power of the devil and the power of death are also from eternity to eternity. These two powers have ever existed and always will exist in all the eternities that are yet to come. Although in relation to this earth, some time in its future history there will be no death, and him that hath the power of death will be destroyed. It is written in the Book of Mormon, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.”

When man is born into the world he is at once subject to the influences of life and death, and to the innumerable and varied vicissitudes which he meets in his passage from birth to the grave, to give him an experience which will prepare him to enter into and enjoy life everlasting. He is endowed with agency to choose either life or death, and must abide the consequences in the next life of the choice which he makes in this. Were it not that evil exists with good, man could not have been an agent unto himself. When the spirit of man enters the earthly tabernacle, it is as pure as an angel of God. When man, as a child, is brought forth to the light, and begins to live, move, and have a visible and an individual being in this world, he is brought in contact with the principle of evil—he receives the mark of sin, and as passes the usual stages from infancy to manhood, he learns to become disobedient to the requirements of heaven, disobedient to the laws of man, and disobedient to the laws of his own nature; he engenders the spirit of hatred, malice, wrath, strife, and all that class of evils which render him unfit to return again to the presence of his Father and God; but if he will obey the Gospel and walk in the ways of the Lord, his mortal existence and his proneness to sin, which he has inherited through the fall, become profitable and essentially necessary to the full enjoyment of salvation and eternal life.

These ideas may be profitable to the Saints and aid them in understanding to some extent why things are as they are.

Then the opposition to the truth is not because we have no wife, because we have one wife or many wives; it is not because we are Socialists and have all things common; it is not because we believe in or practice this or that doctrine as individuals and as a people; but it is the spirit of him who is an enemy to all righteousness that is in the hearts of those who yield themselves to obey false principles. Paul, in his writing to the Romans, says, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” When truth comes, error comes also. When the Gospel of the Son of God is introduced among the children of men, it comes with light and intelligence, with pure and holy principles. It embraces all morality, all virtue, all light, all intelligence, all greatness, and all goodness. It introduces a system of laws and ordinances, and a code of moral rectitude which, if obeyed by the human family, will lead them back to the presence of God. As we were exhorted this morning to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, be baptized for the remission of sins, receive the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, receive the spirit of prophecy, the spirit of discerning of spirits, the gift of healing, and, in short, all the gifts, and graces, and laws, and ordinances of the Gospel, which are for life and salvation. Now, the power of Satan is opposed to all this.

Now, let me state somewhat the reason why the devil appears as a gentleman when he presents himself to the children of men. The children of men have good principles dwelling within them. When their spirits came into this mortal flesh, they brought with them the love of all truth, virtue, and goodness; but the sin that has contaminated the mortal tabernacle through the fall creates what the Apostle Paul, when writing in Timothy, calls a “warfare.” When Joseph Smith first preached the Gospel to this generation the Spirit of God attended it, and that Spirit met an opposing spirit, which was the spirit of Satan, exerting his power to lead away mankind from the truth to everlasting ruin; while the Spirit of the Gospel, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, sought to lead to exaltation and everlasting life. Here are the two powers in opposition to each other.
Now, remember that it is not because we are called “Mormons,” or Latter-day Saints, that we meet opposition; there is nothing odious in mere names and titles. Joseph Smith has as good a right to his name as John Smith has to his. There is nothing criminal in the simple name of Joseph Smith; yet, he being a servant of God and a preacher of righteousness, his name became odious to the wicked, and the three simple words, “Old Joe Smith,” were sufficient to arouse in their hearts every vindictive and bloodthirsty desire. It was not, however, this simple name that aroused the worst feelings of the human heart against those who loved and obeyed the truth; but it was the spirit of Satan working in the hearts of the children of disobedience against the truth. Why was Joseph Smith, and why are his brethren, so odious to those who are  not of us? Because we have the words of eternal life to offer to the world. The devil is opposed to this, and offers resistance to the progress of the spirit of the Gospel by arousing the wicked, who are under his influence, to hate, and persecute, and annoy in every possible way, the true followers of the Lord Jesus.

Let me say to you, my friends (and if I have foes here I say it also to them), there is no spirit inhabiting a mortal tabernacle (that has not sinned away the day of grace), but what naturally loves and adores the truth, and would bless and honor all those who seek to walk in the way of the Lord, were it not for the influence and power of evil by which they are controlled. There is a constant warfare between the good and the evil. The mortal tabernacle is of the earth earthy, and came forth for the express purpose of being prepared to serve as a dwelling for the eternal spirit; and the spirit has come here for the express purpose of getting a tabernacle; and the sin that is in the fleshy tabernacle is against the good that is in the spirit. The Apostle Paul, when writing to the Romans, says, “For I delight in the law of God, after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

It is not the name of a man or the name of a sect which inspires this warfare, but it is a war which has always existed, and will always continue to exist, between the good and the bad, between the power of God and the power of the devil. To these who are not instructed in the things of God it appears to be a warfare between sects and parties. The votaries of the bad excuse themselves for their persecutions of the good by supposing that they, themselves, as individuals, or their nations, are about to suffer some great wrong from the upholders of the good. As an example of this I will quote from the Gospel according to St. Luke—”And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him (Jesus Christ) unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a king.” This is the cunning of the devil, and a means by which he leads down to destruction great numbers of the human family. He gets the political world to believe that they are, or are going to, be infringed upon; he makes the religious world believe that the sanctity and rights of their holy religion are in danger, and thus he gets them to make his cause their own; they are lashed into a frenzy of excitement and hatred against the Saints; every high-toned, honorable and truthful feeling of the human heart is blunted or entirely subdued in them; they plan for the destruction of God’s people, and, in many instances, the blood of the Saints—the blood of innocence—has been shed by their hands. It is written in the book of Revelation: “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels with him.”

Paul in view of the power of this great deceiver and his host exhorted the Saints anciently to, “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” A great number of those who oppose the truth, and mob and rob and kill the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, know not what they oppose, but they are moved to  commit depredations against the people of God by men who are desperately wicked; these are among the bitterest enemies of the truth. The multitude in the days of Jesus cried out: “Crucify him.” The chief priests had delivered him up from envy. Pilate knew this; “But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. When Pilate inquired what evil he had done, they cried out more exceedingly: crucify him.” They know not what they did.

Wherever the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached, either in these or in former days, it has met with a class of men to whom the truth looked lovely and Godlike, and the spirit within would prompt them to embrace it; but they find themselves so advantageously connected in the world, and have so many interests at stake if they should embrace it, they conclude that it will not do, and here comes the warfare again. Some few will overcome the reasonings of the flesh, and follow the dictates of the Spirit; while the great majority of this class of persons are won over by sordid considerations and cleave to their idols. The good spirit tries to overcome the wayward will of the flesh, and the flesh, aided by the cunning and power of the devil, maintains a strong warfare; but, notwithstanding this great power against which the spirit has to contend, the power of God is greater than the power of the wicked one; and unless the Saints sin against light and knowledge, and willfully neglect their plain and well understood duties, and the Spirit of God is grieved and it ceases to strive with them, the Spirit is sure to prevail over the flesh, and ultimately succeeds in sanctifying the tabernacle for a residence in the presence of God.

The spirit which inhabits these tabernacles naturally loves truth, it naturally loves light and intelligence, it naturally loves virtue, God and godliness; but being so closely united with the flesh their sympathies are blended, and their union being necessary to the possession of a fullness of joy to both, the spirit is indeed subject to be influenced by the sin that is in the mortal body, and to be overcome by it and by the power of the devil, unless it is constantly enlightened by that spirit which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world, and by the power of the Holy Ghost which is imparted through the Gospel. In this, and this alone, consists the warfare between Christ and the devil.

It is not in my being called a Quaker, a Methodist, or a “Mormon” that is the true cause of contention between these two great powers—Christ and Belial; but it is in the fact that God has established His kingdom upon the earth and restored the Holy Priesthood, which gives men authority and power to administer in His name.

It has been told us this afternoon, and was this morning also, that we must be baptized in order to be saved. Much remains to be said on the means necessary to effect salvation in its completeness. We might as well say that a beautiful temple could be built and all its details completed and finished in a day, as to say that we can tell all we know about the plan of man’s salvation in a short hour and a half or in a day. It is plain to every enlightened person that the Lord has introduced fit and proper laws by which he will save His children and exalt them into his presence. If these laws are not obeyed by the human family, they cannot be saved, nor be exalted to the presence of God. What will become of all those who will not obey the laws of salvation? Will they be confined throughout an endless eternity in  that bottomless pit, where their worm dieth not, and where their fire is not quenched?

It is necessary that men should become acquainted with the laws of God, and the ordinances of His kingdom, and receive of the power of the world to come in order to fit them to become angels of the devil, and that the devil may have full power over them; and these are the only ones who are cut off from every degree of salvation. Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

He has been lifted up, and He will save every son and daughter of Adam and Eve, except the sons of perdition, in some kingdom where there shall be no more death, no more aches and pains to afflict and torment them; and let me assure you that none of those kingdoms will be any worse than the one we now inhabit. Jesus Christ will draw all men unto him, except those who contend against the power of God and against his kingdom until they have sealed their own damnation.

The adversary presents his principles and arguments in the most approved style, and in the most winning tone, attended with the most graceful attitudes; and he is very careful to ingratiate himself into the favor of the powerful and influential of mankind, uniting himself with popular parties, floating into offices of trust and emolument by pandering to popular feeling, though it should seriously wrong and oppress the innocent. Such characters put on the manners of an angel, appearing as nigh like angels of light as they possibly can, to deceive the innocent and the unwary. The good which they do, they do it to bring to pass an evil purpose upon the good and honest followers of Jesus Christ. Yet the little good, if any, that is in them, they have received from God. Lucifer, the son of the morning, has not got a good principle, does not say a good word, perform a good act, or present a good idea to any people upon this earth or any other earth that he has not received from that God whom you and I serve. Everything that is good, everything that is lovely and truthful, virtuous and kind, everything to be admired and desired by the pure in heart comes from God, our Father, who dwells in heaven. The most wicked person that ever dwelt upon the earth, the Lord supports; He gives to him the breath of life, and causes His sun to rise upon that poor miserable wretch, who would, if he had the power, destroy everything that is good. The Lord our God sends His rain upon the just and upon the unjust, and gives food and raiment to the good and to the evil; He parcels out the earth among his children, and his mercy and loving kindness are over all the works of his hands. Though the Lord is thus kind and merciful to all, yet he saith, “them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”

In the days before Noah’s flood those who served God and kept his commandments were prepared to receive glory, immortality and eternal life, according to the law of the Gospel. When this law was given to the people in any age, the kingdom of God was established, and the devil and his hosts were made mad even as they are at this day.

We are told that if we would give up polygamy—which we know to be a doctrine revealed from heaven, and it is God and the world for it—but suppose this Church should give up this holy order of marriage, then would the devil, and all who are in league with him against the cause of God, rejoice that they had prevailed upon the Saints to refuse to obey one of the revelations and commandments of God to them. Would they be satisfied with this? No; but they would next want us to renounce Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God, then the Book of Mormon, then baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Then they would wish us to disclaim the gift of prophecy, and the other gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, on the ground that they are done away and no longer needed in our day, also prophets and apostles, etc.

They want us to yield all these points, transgress the laws God has revealed for the salvation of the world, and change all the ordinances of God’s house, and conform to the dogmas of modern Christianity and to the corruptions of the age. Will the Latter-day Saints do this? No; they will not to please anybody. Shall we have a warfare? We shall; we will war and contend for the right, and trust in our God until righteousness is established upon the earth, until peace shall reign everywhere, until the children of men shall lay down the weapons of their warfare and cease to exhaust their ability and ingenuity in forming weapons of destruction to slay their fellow men, until the minds and affections of mankind shall be turned unto the Lord their God, and their energies be directed to beautifying the earth and making it like the garden of Eden. We calculate to struggle on, and continue to exercise faith and enjoy our religion, keeping all the commandments of God, observing the ordinances of his house, trying to fulfill all his words, trusting in him, and we shall see what this course will come to.

I can tell the whole world that we shall preach the gospel of life and salvation and call upon the children of men to cease their wickedness and their warring against God and one another, and embrace those saving principles that will lead them to life here and to eternal life hereafter. We shall preach on, we shall struggle on until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ. To be gentle and kind, modest and truthful, to be full of faith and integrity, doing no wrong is of God; goodness sheds a halo of loveliness around every person who possesses it, making their countenances beam with light, and their society desirable because of its excellency. They are loved of God, of holy angels, and of all the good on earth, while they are hated, envied, admired and feared by the wicked.

What, then, is the mission of Satan, that common foe of all the children of men? It is to destroy and make desolate. When this house was built, every principle, every desire that prompted the putting of these materials together, had good for its object in making the people comfortable and happy. The desire to build cities, open farms, set out orchards and adorn and beautify the earth in every possible way is of God. But you say that those who do not believe in religion at all do that. Very good, are not their lives as much in the hands of God as yours and mine? Does He not prompt them day by day to do good, and blessed are they who resist not the Spirit. There is a spirit of truth gone forth to all the inhabitants of the world. The book of Job says, “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” Again, it is written of Jesus, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds  should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
There is that in all men which prompts them to do good and forsake evil; then there is another principle which prompts them to do evil and forsake the good. The few who have moral courage enough to yield obedience to the promptings of the Spirit of God, bringing themselves in subjection to his will, are the ones who compose the church and kingdom of God on the earth, so far as they have opportunity. Whatsoever is good is of God, no matter by whom possessed or presented. If the devil presents principles that are good and pure and lovely, they are not of him, but they are of God.

The devil delights in the work of destruction—to burn and lay waste and destroy the whole earth. He delights to convulse and throw into confusion the affairs of men, politically, religiously and morally, introducing war with its long train of dreadful consequences. It is evil which causeth all these miseries and all deformity to come upon the inhabitants of the earth. But that which is of God is pure, lovely, holy, and full of all excellency and truth, no matter where it is found, in hell, in heaven, upon the earth, or in the planets. Let us live in obedience to the good; let us live our religion.

I do not know that I have explained these things sufficiently clear to you. The thread of the whole subject is clearly defined in my mind. I know what the children of men are when they come upon the earth, and the influence that attends them, and the power of Satan who lives upon the earth by permission like the wicked and ungodly do. Will we live our religion? I hope so. It was asked me by a gentleman how I guided the people by revelation. I teach them to live so that the Spirit of revelation may make plain to them their duty day by day that they are able to guide themselves. To get this revelation it is necessary that the people live so that their spirits are as pure and clean as a piece of blank paper that lies on the desk before the inditer, ready to receive any mark the writer may make upon it. When you see the Latter-day Saints greedy, and  covetous of the things of this world, do you think their minds are in a fit condition to be written upon by the pen of revelation? When people will live so that the Spirit of revelation will be with them day by day, they are then in the path of their duty; if they do not live according to this rule, they live beneath their duty and privileges. I hope and pray that we may all live up to our privileges. Amen.
Brigham Young

Excerpt from Heber C Kimball – Journal of Discourses vol 4, Departed Spirits, etc…

God says, “My house is a house of order, and not of confusion.” The Holy Ghost will not dwell where there is confusion. I do not ask you whether you know this or not, because everyone knows that confusion does not come from the Father, nor from the Son. Does it come from the Holy Ghost? Everyone of you will answer, “No.” Where does it come from? It comes from the author of confusion, and is produced by those who rebel against God and against His authority. There were many who did this formerly, and they form part of that hell which brother Wells was talking about. Although those men and women are dead, they have a good deal of power; their spirits have power over us when we render ourselves subject to them; their spirits  are busy at work. They are diligent in performing the work of destruction and confusion; they go at that work the very moment their spirits leave their bodies.
On the other hand, when righteous persons die, their spirits also go into the spirit world, but they go to work with the servants of God to help to do good, and to bring about the purposes of the Almighty pertaining to this earth; while wicked spirits, those who have been wicked in this probation, take the opposite course, just the same as they did here. I have said, a great many times, that that spirit which possesses us here will possess us when our spirits leave our bodies, and we shall there be very much the same as we are here.
If you are subject to rebellious spirits, or to a spirit of apostasy here, will you not have the same spirit beyond the veil that you had on this side? You will, and it will have power over you to lead you to do wrong, and it will control your spirits. If, then, you are opposed to the truth while you are here, you will be occupied in that opposition hereafter, for the spirit that is opposed to the work of God here, will be opposed to that work when beyond the veil. I do not guess at this, because I have been at the other side of the veil, in vision, and have seen a degree of its condition with the eyes that God gave me. I have seen it and have seen those that lived in the faith and had the privilege of seeing Jesus, Peter, James, and the rest of the ancient Apostles, and of hearing them preach the Gospel. I have also seen those who rebelled against them, and they still had a rebellious spirit, fighting against God and His servants.

Ezra Taft Benson, To the Humble Followers of Christ, April 1969 General Conference

Thank God for that timely and inspiring message from our beloved leader, President David O. McKay.
My remarks today are directed to the humble followers of Christ (2 Ne. 28:14). I pray that what I have to say will be of help to them.
One of the grand promises which the Lord made when he restored his Church in these latter days was that the Church should never again be taken from the earth (D&C 13:1) nor given to another people (Dan. 2:44). This is reassuring, for no matter how much individual apostasy we may see occur among Church members, the Church itself shall endure and remain intact. Our task, then, is to see that we personally endure to the end in faithful fellowship with the Church.
The Lord distinguishes between the Church and its members. He said he was well pleased with the restored Church, speaking collectively, but not individually (D&C 1:30). During his ministry on earth, the Lord spoke of the gospel net drawing in fish. The good fish, he said, were gathered into vessels, while the bad were cast away (Matt. 13:47-50).
It is important to realize that while the Church is made up of mortals, no mortal is the Church. Judas, for a period of time, was a member of the Church—in fact, one of its apostles—but the Church was not Judas.
Disharmony of some members
Sometimes we hear someone refer to a division in the Church. In reality, the Church is not divided. It simply means that there are some who, for the time being at least, are members of the Church but not in harmony with it. These people have a temporary membership and influence in the Church; but unless they repent, they will be missing when the final membership records are recorded.
It is well that our people understand this principle, so they will not be misled by those apostates within the Church who have not yet repented or been cut off. But there is a cleansing coming. The Lord says that his vengeance shall be poured out “upon the inhabitants of the earth . . . And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me” (D&C 112:24-26). I look forward to that cleansing; its need within the Church is becoming increasingly apparent.
The Lord strengthened the faith of the early apostles by pointing out Judas as a traitor, even before this apostle had completed his iniquitous work (John 13:21-30). So also in our day the Lord has told us of the tares within the wheat that will eventually be hewn down when they are fully ripe. But until they are hewn down, they will be with us, amongst us (D&C 86:6-7). The hymn entitled “Though in the Outward Church Below” contains this thought:
“Though in the outward Church below
Both wheat and tares together grow,
Ere long will Jesus weed the crop
And pluck the tares in anger up . . .
We seem alike when here we meet;
Strangers may think we are all wheat;
But to the Lord’s all-searching eyes,
Each heart appears without disguise.
The tares are spared for various ends,
Some for the sake of praying friends,
Others the Lord against their will,
Employs, his counsels to fulfill.
But though they grow so tall and strong,
His plan will not require them long;
In harvest, when he saves his own,
The tares shall into hell be thrown.”
    (Hymns, No. 102.)
Tares among the wheat
Yes, within the Church today there are tares among the wheat and wolves within the flock. As President Clark stated, “The ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than . . . We should be careful of them” (Era, May 1949, p. 268; see also Conference Report, April 1949, p. 163).
The wolves amongst our flock are more numerous and devious today than when President Clark made this statement.
President McKay has said that “the Church is little, if at all, injured by persecution and calumnies from ignorant, misinformed or malicious enemies. A greater hindrance to its progress comes from faultfinders, shirkers, commandment-breakers, and apostate cliques within its own ecclesiastical and quorum groups” (Era, December 1967, p. 35; see also, Conference Report, October 1967, p. 9)
Not only are there apostates within our midst, but there are also apostate doctrines that are sometimes taught in our classes and from our pulpits and that appear in our publications. And these apostate precepts of men cause our people to stumble. As the Book of Mormon, speaking of our day, states: “. . . they have all gone astray save it a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men” (2 Ne. 28:14).
The precepts of men
Let us consider some of the precepts of men that may and do cause some of the humble followers of Christ to err.
Christ taught that we should be in the world but not of it (John 17:11,14-16). Yet there are some in our midst who are not so much concerned about taking the gospel into the world as they are about bringing worldliness into the gospel. They want us to be in the world and of it. They want us to be popular with the worldly even though a prophet has said that this is impossible, for all hell would then want to join us.
Through their own reasoning and a few misapplied scriptures, they try to sell us the precepts and philosophies of men. They do not feel the Church is progressive enough—they say that it should embrace the social and socialist gospel of apostate Christendom.
They are bothered that President McKay believes that “the social side of the Restored Gospel is only an incident of it; it is not the end thereof.” (Letter of the First Presidency to Dr. Lowry Nelson, July 17, 1947.)
They attack the Church for not being in the forefront of the so-called “civil rights movement.” They are embarrassed over some Church doctrine, and as Lehi foretold, the scoffing of the world over this and other matters will cause some of them to be ashamed and they shall fall away (see 1 Ne. 8:28).
Publishing differences with Church
Unauthorized to receive revelation for the Church, but I fear still anxious to redirect the Church in the way they think it should go, some of them have taken to publishing their differences with the Church, in order to give their heretical views a broader and, they hope, a more respectable platform.
Along this line it would be well for all of us to remember these words of President George Q. Cannon:
“A friend . . . wished to know whether we . . . considered an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the Authorities of the Church was apostasy. . . . We replied that we had not stated that an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the Authorities constituted apostasy, for we could conceive of a man honestly differing in opinion from the Authorities of the Church and yet not be an apostate; but we could not conceive of a man publishing those differences of opinion and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce them upon the people to produce division and strife and to place the acts and counsels of the Authorities of the Church, if possible, in a wrong light and not be an apostate, for such conduct was apostasy as we understood the term” (Deseret News, November 3, 1869).
Birth control
The world teaches birth control. Tragically, many of our sisters subscribe to its pills and practices when they could easily provide earthly tabernacles for more of our Father’s children. We know that every spirit assigned to this earth will come, whether through us or someone else. There are couples in the Church who think they are getting along just fine with their limited families but who will someday suffer the pains of remorse when they meet the spirits that might have been part of their posterity. The first commandment given to man was to multiply and replenish the earth with children (Gen. 1:28). That commandment has never been altered, modified, or canceled. The Lord did not say to multiply and replenish the earth if it is convenient, or if you are wealthy, or after you have gotten your schooling, or when there is peace on earth, or until you have four children. The Bible says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord . . . Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them” (Ps. 127:3,5). We believe God is glorified by having numerous children and a program of perfection for them. So also will God glorify that husband and wife who have a large posterity and who have tried to raise them up in righteousness.
False reasoning in population limitation
The precepts of men would have you believe that by limiting the population of the world, we can have peace and plenty. That is the doctrine of the devil. Small numbers do not insure peace; only righteousness does. After all, there were only a handful of men on the earth when Cain interrupted the peace of Adam’s household by slaying Abel (Gen. 4:8). On the other hand, the whole city of Enoch was peaceful; and it was taken into heaven because it was made up of righteous people (Moses 7:69).
And so far as limiting the population in order to provide plenty is concerned, the Lord answered that falsehood in the Doctrine and Covenants when he said:
“For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves” (D&C 104:17).
A major reason why there is famine in some parts of the world is because evil men have used the vehicle of government to abridge the freedom that men need to produce abundantly.
True to form, many of the people who desire to frustrate God’s purposes of giving mortal tabernacles to his spirit children through worldwide birth control are the very same people who support the kinds of government that perpetuate famine. They advocate an evil to cure the results of the wickedness they support.
Subversion of educational system
The world worships the learning of man. They trust in the arm of flesh. To them, men’s reasoning is greater than God’s revelations. The precepts of man have gone so far in subverting our educational system that in many cases a higher degree today, in the so-called social sciences, can be tantamount to a major investment in error. Very few men build firmly enough on the rock of revelation to go through this kind of an indoctrination and come out untainted. Unfortunately, of those who succumb, some use their higher degree to get teaching positions even in our Church educational system, where they spread the falsehoods they have been taught. President Joseph F. Smith was right when he said that false educational ideas would be one of the three threats to the Church within (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 312-13).
Sex education in the schools
Another threat, and he said it is the most serious of the three, would be sexual impurity. Today we have both of these threats combined in the growing and increasingly amoral program of sex education in the schools. At the last general Relief Society conference of the Church, Elder Harold B. Lee quoted President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in regard to this matter. Let us listen and learn from the following wise words of this seer, President Clark:
“Many influences (more than ever before in my lifetime) are seeking to break down chastity with its divinely declared sanctity . . .
“In schoolrooms the children are taught what is popularly called ‘the facts of life.’ Instead of bringing about the alleged purpose of the teaching, that is, strengthening of the morals of youth, this teaching seems to have had directly the opposite effect. The teaching seems merely to have whetted curiosity and augmented appetite” (Relief Society Magazine, December 1952, p. 793).
“. . . A mind engrossed in sex is not good for much else . . .
“Already the schools have taught sex facts ad nauseam. All their teachings have but torn away the modesty that once clothed sex; their discussions tend to make, and sometimes seem to make, sex animals of our boys and girls. The teachings do little but arouse curiosity for experience . . .
“A work on chastity can be given in one sentence, two words: Be chaste! That tells everything. You do not need to know all the details of the reproductive process in order to keep clean” (Era, December 1949, p. 803; see also, Conference Report, October 1949, p. 194).
Responsibility of parents
Our Church News editorials have warned us about sex education in the schools. As the April 1, 1967, editorial stated:
“Sex education belongs in the home . . . Movements to place sex education in nearly all grades of public schools can end only in the same result which came to Sweden.”
In answer to inquiries that have been received by the First Presidency about sex education in the schools, they have made the following statement: “We believe that serious hazards are involved in entrusting to the schools the teaching of this vital and important subject to our children. This responsibility cannot wisely be left to society, nor the schools: nor can the responsibility be shifted to the Church. It is the responsibility of parents to see that they fully perform their duty in this respect.”
When you make a close study of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (known as SIECUS), which is the major organization pushing sex education in the schools, and read their literature and learn of their amoral leadership, you can better appreciate why the Church is opposed to sex education in the schools, whether it is called family living program or by any other name. I commend the parents who have worked to keep it out of their schools and those who have pushed it out or are attempting to do so. They must love their children.
Sensitivity training
Let us consider another precept of men: One of the tragedies of the Korean War was the fact that the enemy was able to brainwash some of our men. Those methods, highly refined and deviously developed, have been introduced on a broad scale into our own country by some behavioral scientists through a program commonly called sensitivity training. While claiming otherwise, the overall effect of this training has been to break down personal standards, encourage immorality, reduce respect for parents, and make well minds sick.
As in Korea, the heart of the training involves trying to get each member of a group to self-criticize and confess as much as possible to the group. Now any informed holder of the priesthood knows that this is directly contrary to the word of the Lord as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 42, verses 88-92 (D&C 42:88-92). Only when a person has sinned against many people is he to make a public confession.
“If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God, that the church may not speak reproachfully of him or her” (D&C 42:92).
As President Brigham Young put it, “. . . if you have sinned against your God, or against your selves, confess to God, and keep the matter to yourselves, for I do not want to know anything about it” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 158).
But some sensitivity training doesn’t stop there. They usually want each person to tell the group about all of their innermost feelings, their personal secrets, their fears, their repressed desires. They have even conducted nudity sessions as a means of supposedly breaking down their inhibitions. They want the group to know each other’s vulgar thoughts and lustful ideas, their hates, envies, jealousies. But this flies in the face of the counsel of the Prophet, who has said, “All such evils you must overcome by suppression. That is where your control comes in. Suppress that anger! Suppress that jealousy, that envy! They are all injurious to the spirit” (President David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 356).
Standards attacked
In these sensitivity sessions one’s standards, religion, family, and friends may be subjected to brutal and prolonged attack by the group. And when it’s all over, if you’ve confessed all and had your values and ideals smashed, you may doubt if there is much worth believing or defending, and your loyalties may now have been realigned away from your family and church toward the group—for on them you may now feel very dependent, and you may be more anxious to get their consensus on a position and their approval than to find out what’s right and do it.
When General William F. Dean was released from a Korean Communist prison camp, the young Chinese psychologists who had been trying to break him said: “General, don’t feel bad about leaving us. You know, we will soon be with you. We are going to capture your country.” Asked how, they replied: “We are going to destroy the moral character of a generation of our young Americans, and when we have finished you will have nothing with which to really defend yourselves against us.”
Demoralizing influences
And so the precepts of men are at work on our youth in so many ways. Said President Clark, “. . . a tremendous amount of the modern art, of the modern literature and music, and the drama that we have today is utterly demoralizing—utterly” (Relief Society Magazine, December 1952, p. 792).
Have you been listening to the music that many young folks are hearing today? Some of it is nerve-jamming in nature and much of it has been deliberately designed to promote revolution, dope, immorality, and a gap between parent and child. And some of this music has invaded our church cultural halls.
Have you noticed some of our Church dances lately? Have they been praiseworthy, lovely, and of good report? “I doubt,” said President McKay, “whether it is possible to dance most of the prevalent fad dances in a manner to meet LDS standards.” And what about modesty in dress? When was the last time you saw a high school girl wearing a dress that covered her knees? The courageous address of Elder Spencer W. Kimball a few years ago entitled “A Style of Our Own” is certainly applicable today.
I want to congratulate the Tabernacle Choir for their attire. It was noted that in their broadcast at Constitution Hall during the inaugural festivities, all the ladies seated on the front row had dresses that covered their knees.
Now what kind of magazines come into your home? With perhaps one or two exceptions, I would not have any of the major national slick magazines in my home. As President Clark so well put it, “. . . take up any national magazine, look at the ads and, if you can stand the filth, read some of the stories—they are, in their expressed and suggestive standards of life, destructive of the very foundations of our society” (Conference Report, April 1951, p. 79).
President Cannon’s test
Now hear this test proposed by President George Q. Cannon: “If the breach is daily widening between ourselves and the world . . . we may be assured that our progress is certain, however slow. On the opposite hand, if our feelings and affections, our appetites and desires, are in unison with the world around us and freely fraternize with them . . . we should do well to examine ourselves. Individuals in such a condition might possess a nominal position in the Church but would be lacking the life of the work, and, like the foolish virgins who slumbered while the bridegroom tarried (Matt. 25:5), they would be unprepared for his coming” (Millennial Star, Oct. 5, 1861 [Vol. 23], pp. 645-46.)
To repeat again from the Book of Mormon, “. . . they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men” (2 Ne. 28:14).
May we cherish God’s revelations more than man’s reasoning and choose to follow the prophets of the Lord rather than the precepts of men is my humble prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Excerpts from Brigham Young – Journal of Discourses vol 3 – The Powers of the Priesthood not Generally Understood—The Necessity of Living By Revelation—The Abuse of Blessings

As I have frequently thought, and said, when duty requires I am happy in going from home, and I am happy in returning, for it is my greatest joy and comfort to do what the Lord requires of me, and what I know to be my duty, no matter what it is if the Lord requires it of me. This course gives joy and peace. When this principle becomes the acting principle of all the Saints, we shall find that Zion is here; we shall be in the midst of it; we shall enjoy it.
As individuals, we enjoy Zion at present, but not as a community; there is so much sin, darkness, and ignorance, and the veil of the covering which is over the nations of the  earth is measurably over the Latter-day Saints. The same unrighteous principles, which becloud the minds of men universally, more or less becloud the minds of the Latter-day Saints. Though the veil is partially broken to the Saints, though it becomes thin, as it were, and the twilight appears like the dawning of the day, yet we may travel for many years before the sunshine appears. It does not yet appear to this people, they are merely in the twilight.
As one expressed it in ancient times, “We see through a glass, darkly” —through a smoked or dim glass—through which we cannot behold objects clearly with the natural eye.
We have not faith sufficient to have revelation, to have the visions of eternity opened unto us so clearly that we may see things as they are, consequently, we have to live by faith and not by sight. We have to live by the principles of the Gospel, which is faith in the heart and obedience to its requirements. It is our joy and salvation that we have this privilege.
If we could understand the nature of the Priesthood—could comprehend it fully, this people, as a community, the Elders, as Elders of Israel, quorums, as quorums, when they present themselves before the Lord, would possess keys to unlock the treasury of heaven, and we could receive as one person receives from another. To us, as a people, the keys of the rich storehouse of the Lord are committed, yet we do not fully know how to unlock and receive. We receive a little here and there, and the hearts of the people are comforted by the very Priesthood we are in possession of, which has been given to this people for the express purpose of their receiving that which God has given them, though not yet to possess it independently, but as means for trial.
This Priesthood is given to the people, and the keys thereof, and, when properly understood, they may actually unlock the treasury of the Lord, and receive to their fullest satisfaction. But through our own weaknesses, through the frailty of human nature, we are not yet capable of doing so.
We have to humble ourselves and become like little children in our feelings—to become humble and childlike in spirit, in order to receive the first illuminations of the spirit of the Gospel, then we have the privilege of growing, of increasing in knowledge, in wisdom, and in understanding. This is a great privilege, while the world, excepting this people who inhabit these valleys, and those that are associated with us in different parts of the earth, are destitute of this principle and privilege. Still, many of us, and I may say comparatively all of us, are upon the same ground, situated precisely like other professors of religion, in order that we may struggle, wrestle, and strive, until the Lord bursts the veil and suffers us to behold His glory, or a portion of it.
If we did fully understand the principles of the Gospel—the keys of the Priesthood, it would be familiar with us, and be easy to be understood and to act upon and perform, and be no more of a miracle to know how to receive the things of God by revelation, than it is now a miracle to cast seed into the ground, after it is prepared, and reap our crops.
An individual who holds a share in the Priesthood, and continues faithful to his calling, who delights himself continually in doing the things God requires at his hands, and continues through life in the performance of every duty, will secure to himself not only the privilege of receiving, but the knowledge how to receive the things of God, that he may know the mind of God continually; and he will be enabled to discern between right and wrong, between the things of God and the things that are not of God. And the Priesthood—the Spirit that is within him, will continue to increase until it becomes like a fountain of living water; until it is like the tree of life; until it is one continued source of intelligence and instruction to that individual.
This is one of the most glorious and happy principles that can be set before any people, or any individual who will be faithful to his God and to his religion. Upon whoever are bestowed the keys of the eternal Priesthood, by a faithful life, will secure to themselves power to see the things of God, and will understand them as plainly as they ever understood anything by gazing upon it with their natural eyes, or as clearly as they ever could distinguish one object from another by their sensations.
It is the privilege of every person who is faithful to the priesthood, who can overcome the enemy, thwart the design of death, or him that hath the power of it, to live upon the earth until their appointed time; and they may know, see, and understand, by revelation, the things of God just as naturally as we understand natural things that are around us.
We inquire, is this the character of the people called Latter-day Saints? We can say it is the character of many of them, but when we reflect, it is not the case with the whole of them. There are many who never fail to improve upon every means of grace given them, upon every particle of light imparted to them. They perform every duty that is made known to them, they cease to do evil wherever an evil is presented to them, they refrain, so far as is in their power, from every act and from every thought and disposition which is contrary to the holy Gospel.
This is the way we often find [certain of the members], they are rejoiced exceedingly and are upon Pisgah’s top—flaming Latter-day Saints, and, perhaps, when the next day or the next week has passed over they are angry, filled with malice and wrath. After a while they will say, “That was a delusive spirit, it is true I felt joyful and happy, I thought it was the best spirit and the most light I ever enjoyed in all the days of my life, but I now find I was deceived, I find that if I had continued in that spirit there was a trap laid to catch me, to decoy me away, and destroy my faith in the holy Gospel.” Is this the case with the Latter-day Saints? Yes, with many of them.
Our religion is a practical and progressive one. It will not prepare a thief, a liar, a sorcerer, a whoremonger, an adulterer, a murderer, or a false swearer, in one day, so that he can enter into the celestial kingdom of God. We ought to understand that when our lives have been filled with all manner of wickedness, to turn and repent of our sins, to be baptized for the remission of them, and have our names written upon the Church records, does not prepare us for the presence of our Father, and elder brother. What will? A continuation of faithfulness to the doctrines of Christ; nothing short of this will do it. The Latter-day Saints should understand this. Do they? Yes. Do they live to it? A great many of them do not. All ought to live their religion every day, and there are a great many who do. But there are a great many who do not, who are overcome with evil, get out of the true path of righteousness, and do those things which are wrong. They contend with each other, quarrel, have broils and difficulties in families, and in neighborhoods, law with each other touching property, one saying, “This is mine,” and another saying, “It is not yours, but it is mine.” One says, “You have wronged me,” the other says, “I have not.” Thus there are thousands of plans which the enemy of all righteousness employs to decoy the hearts of the people away from righteousness.
If this people would live their religion, and continue year after year to live their religion, it would not be many years before we would see eye to eye; there would be no difference of opinion, no difference of sentiment, and the veil that now hangs over our minds would become so thin that we should actually see and discern things as they are.
True we labor under many embarrassments with regard to our progress in Christian life, and it is right we should be situated just as we are. We wish to save the world of mankind, and difficulties, embarrassments, and obstacles are thrown in our way continually. If this congregation could live twenty years without communion and intercourse with any other people, if we did not preach any more to the world, and no more Saints were ga thered from abroad, we might, perhaps, train ourselves so as to see eye to eye, and that too before we had lived as many years to come as this Church has been organized.
But no, if we are instructed now, and understand all it is our privilege to understand, another year we must have another batch of clay thrown in the mill, as brother Kimball calls it, and this new supply spoils more or less of the clay that is already well tempered, and it is right that it should be so. Though this is a good comparison—the making of vessels out of clay, and the grinding up of clay, still, is it in every respect correct? We might carry it out perhaps, but I argue, and believe with all my soul, that if there were 10,000 Saints to emigrate to this point yearly from England, or any other country, and though thousands of the wicked should gather with them, it would not prove, for one moment, that any Saint would be obliged to sin thereby; it would not prove, for one moment, that this congregation before me would be obliged to do wrong.
Though we may be mingled together, and our interchanges are as they are, still if a stranger should look upon us as a community, who have been here many years, and see but few of the newcomers do wrong, and then judge us off and say, we are all evil, that none of us are righteous, that there is no good fruit here, that would be an unrighteous judgment and decision.
It is our privilege, for you and me to live, from this day, so that our consciences will be void of offense towards God and man; it is in our power to do so, then why don’t we? What is the matter? I will tell you what the difficulties and troubles are, by relating brother John Young’s dream. He dreamed that he saw the devil with a looking glass in his hand, and the devil held it to the faces of the people, and it revealed to them everybody’s faults but their own.
The difficulty is, neglecting to watch over ourselves. Just as soon as our eyes are turned away from watching ourselves, to see whether we do right, we begin to see faults in our neighbors; this is the great difficulty, and our minds become more and more blinded until we become entirely darkened. So long as I do the thing the Lord requires of me, and do not stop to inquire what I shall tell to my neighbor as his duty, and pay very close attention to my individual person, that my words are right, that my actions are right before God, that my reflections are right, and that my desires are according to the holy Gospel, I have not much time to look at the faults of my neighbors. Is not this true?
This is our practical religion; it is our duty to stop and begin to look at ourselves. We may have trials to pass through, and when people come to me, and tell me that they are wonderfully tried and have a great many difficulties to encounter—have their troubles on the right and on the left, and what to do they are at a loss to know, I say, “I am glad of it.” I rejoice to think that they must have trials as well as other people. And when they say, “It seems as though the devil would overcome me,” it is a pretty good evidence that an individual is watching himself.
If people could always understand the manifestations of the Spirit upon themselves, they would learn that they can be tempted as well as other people, and that would make them careful to watch against temptation and overcome it. Consequently, I rejoice for them, inasmuch as every individual who is prepared for the celestial kingdom must go through the same things.
I am happy, brethren, for the privilege of having temptation. A great  many people have thought that in my life I was not tempted like other men. I tell them if I am it is none of their business; it is nothing to them. Some say “Brother Brigham, you slide along and the devil lets you alone.” If I have battles with him, I can overcome him single-handed quicker than to call in my neighbors to help me. If I am tempted to speak an evil word, I will keep my lips locked together. Says one, “I do not know about that, that would be smothering up bad feelings, I am wonderfully tried about my neighbor, he has done wrong, he has abused me and I feel dreadful bad about it. Had I not better let it out than to keep it rankling within me?” No. I will keep bad feelings under and actually smother them to death, then they are gone. But as sure as I let them out they will live and afflict me. If I smother them in myself, if I actually choke them to death, destroy the life, the power, and vigor thereof, they will pass off and leave me clear of fault, and pure, so far as that is concerned; and no man or woman on earth knows that I have ever been tempted to indulge in wicked feelings. Keep them to yourselves.
If you feel evil, keep it to yourselves until you overcome that evil principle. This is what I call resisting the devil, and he flees from me. I strive to not speak evil, to not feel evil, and if I do, to keep it to myself until it is gone from me, and not let it pass my lips.
You should succeed in bringing your tongues into subjection, so as to never let them speak evil, so that they will perfectly obey your judgment and the discretion God has given you, and are perfectly obedient to the will of the holy Gospel. How long have we to live for that? I do not know, but I am strongly of the opinion that it is possible for a person to overcome their dispositions to evil, to such a degree that they will have no evil in the heart to slip out over the tongue; and if there is none in the heart, there is less danger of the tongue being used to the disadvantage of that individual, or to that of anybody else. If there is nothing in the heart which governs us, and controls to an evil effect, the tongue of itself will never produce evil.
We never ought to be without three or five years provisions on hand. But when you see men run to hell to sell a bushel of wheat for sixty cents, instead of laying it up in their granaries for a day of scarcity, you are forced to conclude that they would trade with the very devil, to get his coat and shoes in exchange for their wheat. I hope they will learn wisdom in the future, and lay up wheat to feed the brethren when they come here from distant countries. If they will learn wisdom now, I will promise them, in the name of Israel’s God, that the earth will yield its abundance, as it has heretofore. Men in these valleys have reaped crop after crop which grew spontaneously, without putting a drag or a plow in the land, and yet they are ready to curse God for His blessings. How do you suppose the Lord feels?

Excerpts from Brigham Young – Journal of Discourses vol 3 – The Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues—The Former Circumstances and Present Condition of the Saints Contrasted—Trials and Temptations Necessary to Exaltation—The Condition of Disembodied Spirits—Redemption of the Dead

I gave up highlighting this talk. It has too many interesting parts. It covers the spirit world in great detail.

Many of the people in these valleys  have no experience in these things, and I would be very glad to have such persons escape those trials, if they could receive the same glory and exaltation that they would if they had passed through them.
I look upon the people, and as I frequently say, I have compassion upon them, for all have not experience. It was told you this morning that you could not be made perfect Saints in one day, that is impossible. You might as well undertake to learn a child every branch of English literature during its first week’s attendance at school, this cannot be done.
We are not capacitated to receive in one day, nor in one year, the knowledge and experience calculated to make us perfect Saints, but we learn from time to time, from day to day, consequently we are to have compassion one upon another, to look upon each other as we would wish others to look upon us, and to remember that we are frail mortal beings, and that we can be changed for the better only by the Gospel of salvation.
As it was observed this morning, we ought to be ourselves and not anybody else. We do not wish to be anybody else, neither do we wish to be anybody but Saints. We wish the Gospel to take effect upon each one of us; and we can change in our feelings, in our dispositions and natures, to the extent that was observed by brother Kimball in the comparison which he made.

But we cannot clear ourselves from the power of Satan; we must know what it is to be tried and tempted, for no man or woman can be exalted upon any other principle, as was beautifully exhibited in the life of the Savior.
The history of Joseph and Mary is given to us by their best friends, and precisely as we will give the history of the Prophet Joseph. We know him to have been a good man, we know that he performed his mission, we know that he was an honorable man and dealt justly, we know his true character.
But let his enemies give his character, and they will make him out one of the basest men that ever lived. Let the enemies of Joseph and Mary give their characters to us, and you would be strongly tempted to believe as the Jews believe.

I will give you a figure that brother Hyde had in a dream. He had been thinking a great deal about time and eternity; he wished to know the difference, but how to understand it he did not know. He asked the Lord to show him, and after he had prayed about it the Lord gave him a dream, at least I presume He did, or permitted it so to be, at any rate he had a dream; his mind was opened so that he could understand time and eternity. He said that he thought he saw a stream issuing forth from a misty cloud which spread upon his right and upon his left, and that the stream ran past him and entered the cloud again. He was told that the stream was time, that it had no place where it commenced to run, neither was there any end to its running; and that the time which he was thinking about and talking about, what he could see between the two clouds, was a portion of or one with that which he could not perceive.
So it is with you and I; here is time, where is eternity? It is here, just as much as anywhere in all the expanse of space; a measured space of time is only a part of eternity.
We have a short period of duration allotted to us, and we call it time. We exist here, we have life within us, let that life be taken away and the lungs will cease to heave, and the body will become lifeless. Is that life extinct? No, it continues to exist as much as it did when the lungs would heave, when the mortal body was invigorated with air, food and the elements in which it lived, it has only left the body. The life, the animating principles are still in existence, as much so as they were yesterday when the body was in good health. Here the inquiry will naturally arise, when our spirits leave our bodies where do they go to?
I will tell you. Will I locate them? Yes, if you wish me to. They do not pass out of the organization of this earth on which we live. You read in the Bible that when the spirit leaves the body it goes to God who gave it. Now tell me where God is not, if you please; you cannot. How far would you have to go in order to go to God, if your spirits were unclothed? Would you have to go out of this bowery to find God, if you were in the spirit? If God is not here, we had better reserve this place to gather the wicked into, for they will desire to be where God is not. The Lord Almighty is here by His Spirit, by His influence, by His presence. I am not in the north end of this bowery, my body is in the south end of it, but my influence and my voice extend to all parts if it; in like manner is the Lord here.
It reads that the spirit goes to God who gave it. Let me render this Scripture a little plainer; when the spirits leave their bodies they are in the presence of our Father and God, they are prepared then to see, hear and understand spiritual things. But where is the spirit world? It is incorporated within this celestial system. Can you see it with your natural eyes? No. Can you see spirits in this room? No. Suppose the Lord should touch your eyes that you might see, could you then see the spirits? Yes, as plainly as you now see bodies, as did the servant of Elijah. If the Lord would permit it, and it was His will that it should be done, you could see the spirits that have departed from this world, as plainly as you now see bodies with your natural eyes; as plainly as brothers Kimball and Hyde saw those wicked disembodied spirits in Preston, England. They saw devils there, as we see one another; they could hear  them speak, and knew what they said. Could they hear them with the natural ear? No. Did they see those wicked spirits with their natural eyes? No. They could not see them the next morning, when they were not in the spirit; neither could they see them the day before, nor at any other time; their spiritual eyes were touched by the power of the Almighty.
They said they looked through their natural eyes, and I suppose they did. Brother Kimball saw them, but I know not whether his natural eyes were open at the time or not; brother Kimball said that he lay upon the floor part of the time, and I presume his eyes were shut, but he saw them as also did brother Hyde, and they heard them speak.
We may enquire where the spirits dwell, that the devil has power over? They dwell anywhere, in Preston, as well as in other places in England. Do they dwell anywhere else? Yes, on this continent; it is full of them. If you could see, and would walk over many parts of North America, you would see millions on millions of the spirits of those who have been slain upon this continent. Would you see the spirits of those who were as good in the flesh as they knew how to be? Yes. Would you see the spirits of the wicked? Yes. Could you see the spirits of devils? Yes, and that is all there is of them. They have been deprived of bodies, and that constitutes their curse, that is to say, speaking after the manner of men, you shall be wanderers on the earth, you have got to live out of doors all the time you live.
That is the situation of the spirits that were sent to the earth, when the revolt took place in heaven, when Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, was cast out. Where did he go? He came here, and one-third part of the spirits in heaven came with him. Do you suppose that one-third part of all the beings that existed in eternity came with him? No, but one-third part of the spirits that were begotten and organized and brought forth to became tenants of fleshly bodies to dwell upon this earth. They forsook Jesus Christ, the rightful heir, and joined with Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, and came to this earth; they got here first. As soon as Mother Eve made her appearance in the garden of Eden, the devil was on hand.
You cannot give any person their exaltation, unless they know what evil is, what sin, sorrow, and misery are, for no person could comprehend, appreciate, and enjoy an exaltation upon any other principle. The devil with one-third part of the spirits of our Father’s Kingdom got here before us, and we tarried there with our friends, until the time came for us to come to the earth and take tabernacles; but those spirits that revolted were forbidden ever to have tabernacles of their own. You can now comprehend how it is that they are always trying to get possession of the bodies of human beings; we read of a man’s being possessed of a legion, and Mary Magdalene had seven.
You may now see people with legions of evil spirits in and around them; there are men who walk our streets that have more than a hundred devils in them and round about them, prompting them to all manner of evil, and some too that profess to be Latter-day Saints, and if you were to take the devils out of them and from about them, you would leave them dead corpses; for I believe there would be nothing left of them.
I want you to understand these things; and if you should say or think that I know nothing about them, be pleased to find out and inform me. You can see the acts of these evil spirits in every place, the whole country is full of them, the whole earth is alive with them, and they are continually trying to get into the taber nacles of the human family, and are always on hand to prompt us to depart from the strict line of our duty.
You know that we sometimes need a prompter; if anyone of you was called by the government of the United States to go to Germany, Italy, or any foreign nation, as an Ambassador, if you did not understand the language somebody would have to interpret for you. Well, these evil spirits are ready to prompt you. Do they prompt us? Yes, and I could put my hands on a dozen of them while I have been on this stand; they are here on the stand. Could we do without the devils? No, we could not get along without them. They are here, and they suggest this, that, and the other.
When you lay down this tabernacle, where are you going? Into the spiritual world. Are you going into Abraham’s bosom. No, not anywhere nigh there, but into the spirit world. Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of this organized earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this earth, for the express purpose of inhabiting it to all eternity. Where else are you going? Nowhere else, only as you may be permitted.
When the spirits of mankind leave their bodies, no matter whether the individual was a Prophet or the meanest person that you could find, where do they go? To the spirit world. Where is it? I am telling you. The spirit of Joseph, I do not know that it is just now in this bowery, but I will assure you that it is close to the Latter-day Saints, is active in preaching to the spirits in prison and preparing the way to redeem the nations of the earth, those who lived in darkness previous to the introduction of the Gospel by himself in these days.
He has just as much labor on hand as I have; he has just as much to do. Father Smith and Carlos and brother Partridge, yes, and every other good Saint, are just as busy in the spirit world as you and I are here. They can see us, but we cannot see them unless our eyes were opened. What are they doing there? They are preaching, preaching all the time, and preparing the way for us to hasten our work in building temples here and elsewhere, and to go back to Jackson County and build the great temple of the Lord. They are hurrying to get ready by the time that we are ready, and we are all hurrying to get ready by the time our Elder Brother is ready.
The wicked spirits that leave here and go into the spirit world, are they wicked there? Yes.
The spirits of people that have lived upon the earth according to the the best light they had, who were as honest and sincere as men and women could be, if they lived on the earth without the privilege of the Gospel and the Priesthood and the keys thereof are still under the power and control of evil spirits, to a certain extent. No matter where they lived on the face of the earth, all men and women that have died without the keys and power of the Priesthood, though they might have been honest and sincere and have done everything they could, are under the influence of the devil, more or less. Are they as much so as others? No, no. Take those that were wicked designedly, who knowingly lived without the Gospel when it was within their reach, they are given up to the devil, they become tools to the devil and spirits of devils.
Go to the time when the Gospel came to the earth in the days of Joseph, take the wicked that have opposed this people and persecuted them to the death, and they are sent to hell. Where are they? They are in the  spirit world, and are just as busy as they possibly can be to do everything they can against the Prophet and the Apostles, against Jesus and his kingdom. They are just as wicked and malicious in their actions against the cause of truth, as they were while on the earth in their fleshly tabernacles.
Joseph, also, goes there, but has the devil power over him? No, because he held the keys and power of the eternal Priesthood here, and got the victory while here in the flesh.
When the faithful Elders, holding this Priesthood, go into the spirit world they carry with them the same power and Priesthood that they had while in the mortal tabernacle. They have got the victory over the power of the enemy here, consequently when they leave this world they have perfect control over those evil spirits, and they cannot be buffeted by Satan. But as long as they live in the flesh no being on this earth, of the posterity of Adam, can be free from the power of the devil.
When this portion of the school is out, the one in which we descend below all things and commence upon this earth to learn the first lessons for an eternal exaltation, if you have been a faithful scholar, and have overcome, if you have brought the flesh into subjection by the power of the Priesthood, if you have honored the body, when it crumbles to the earth and your spirit is freed from this home of clay, has the devil any power over it? Not one particle.
This is an advantage which the faithful will gain; but while they live on earth they are subject to the buffetings of Satan. Joseph and those who have died in the faith of the Gospel are free from this; if a mob should come upon Joseph now, he has power to disperse them with the motion of his hand, and to drive them where he pleases. But is Joseph glorified? No, he is preaching to the spirits in prison. He will get his resurrection the first of anyone in this kingdom, for he was the first that God made choice of to bring forth the work of the last days.
His office is not taken from him, he has only gone to labor in another department of the operations of the Al mighty. He is still an Apostle, still a Prophet, and is doing the work of an Apostle and Prophet; he has gone one step beyond us and gained a victory that you and I have not gained, still he has not yet gone into the celestial kingdom, or if he has it has been by a direct command of the Almighty, and that too to return again so soon as the purpose has been accomplished.
No man can enter the celestial kingdom and be crowned with a celestial glory, until he gets his resurrected body; but Joseph and the faithful who have died have gained a victory over the power of the devil, which you and I have not yet gained. So long as we live in these tabernacles, so long we will be subject to the temptations and power of the devil; but when we lay them down, if we have been faithful, we have gained the victory so far; but even then we are not so far advanced at once as to be beyond the neighborhood of evil spirits.
The third part of the hosts of heaven, that were cast out, have not been taken away, at least not that I have found out, and the other two-thirds have got to come and take bodies, all of them who have not, and have the opportunity of preparing for a glorious resurrection and exaltation, before we get through with this world; and those who are faithful in the flesh to the requirements of the Gospel will gain this victory over the spirits that are not allowed to take bodies, which class comprises one-third of the hosts of Heaven.
Those who have died without the Gospel are continually afflicted by those evil spirits, who say to them—”Do not go to hear that man Joseph Smith preach, or David Patten, or any of their associates, for they are deceivers.”
Spirits are just as familiar with spirits as bodies are with bodies, though spirits are composed of matter so re fined as not to be tangible to this coarser organization. They walk, converse, and have their meetings; and the spirits of good men like Joseph and the Elders, who have left this Church on earth for a season to operate in another sphere, are rallying all their powers and going from place to place preaching the Gospel, and Joseph is directing them, saying, go ahead, my brethren, and if they hedge up your way, walk up and command them to disperse. You have the Priesthood and can disperse them, but if any of them wish to hear the Gospel, preach to them.
Can they baptize them? No. What can they do? They can preach the Gospel, and when we have the privilege of building up Zion, the time will come for saviors to come up on Mount Zion. My brother Joseph spoke of this principle this forenoon. Some of those who are not in mortality will come along and say, “Here are a thousand names I wish you to attend to in this temple, and when you have got through with them I will give you another thousand;” and the Elders of Israel and their wives will go forth to officiate for their forefathers, the men for the men, and the women for the women.
A man is ordained and receives his washings, anointings, and endowments for the male portion of his and his wife’s progenitors, and his wife for the female portion.
Then in the spirit world they will say, “Do you not see somebody at work for you? The Lord remembers you and has revealed to His servants on the earth, what to do for you.”
Is the spirit world here? It is not beyond the sun, but is on this earth that was organized for the people that have lived and that do and will live upon it. No other people can have it, and we can have no other kingdom until we are prepared to inhabit this eternally. In the spirit world those who  have got the victory go on to prepare the way for those who live in the flesh, fulfilling the work of saviors on Mount Zion.
To accomplish this work there will have to be not only one temple but thousands of them, and thousands and tens of thousands of men and women will go into those temples and officiate for people who have lived as far back as the Lord shall reveal. If we are faithful enough to go back and build that great temple which Joseph has written about, and should the Lord acknowledge the labor of His servants, then watch, for you will see somebody whom you have seen before, and many of you will see him whom you have not seen before, but you will know him as soon as you see him.
This privilege we cannot enjoy now, because the power of Satan is such that we cannot perform the labor that is necessary to enable us to obtain it.
When we commence again on the walls of the temple to be built on this Block, the news will fly from Maine to California. Who will tell them? Those little devils that are around here, that are around this earth in the spirit world; there will be millions of them ready to communicate the news to devils in Missouri, Illinois, California, Mexico, and in all the world. And the question will be, “What is the news? There is some devilish thing going on among the ‘Mormons’ and I know it. Those ‘Mormons’ ought to be killed.” They do not know what stirs them up to this feeling, it is those spirits that are continually near to them.
We all have got spirits to attend us; when the eyes of the servant of Elijah were opened he saw that those for them were more than those that were against them. There are two-thirds for us, and one-third against us; and there is not a son or daughter of Adam but what will be saved in some kingdom and receive glory and an exaltation to a degree, except those who have had the privilege of the Gospel and rejected it and sinned against the Holy Ghost, they will become servants to devils.
How long will they exist? I do not know, neither do I care. Every one of this people, with the Saints that have lived before us, from the days of Adam until now, and those that may come after us, all say, “Build up the kingdom of God.” What for? To save the inhabitants of the earth, to get them all back into some kind of a kingdom where they can be administered to, and not have this organized matter return again to its native element, for we wish this work to be preserved.
You know that when you make a farm you dislike to see it overrun with weeds, and it would hurt your feelings to see your houses, barns, and other property destroyed. True, you can make more, but how do you suppose the Lord feels, who is much more compassionate than we are, when He sees the devil gaining an advantage over His creatures to lead them away to destroy them? Do you not suppose that the bowels of His compassion yearn over this people, and that He is angry with the wicked? Do you not suppose that He often feels like saying, “O, my children, why do you not hearken to what I tell you, and take hold of the principles of life, and cease pursuing a course that is calculated to destroy you? I have labored to bring forth this organization, and I do not wish to lose my labor, but I desire to have you hearken to the counsel I give to you and prepare yourselves to endure forever and come into my presence, and if you cannot do that and abide a celestial law, at least abide the law of a kingdom where I can send angels to you, and I will send and comfort you and administer unto you and will raise you up and make  you glad and happy, and will fill you with joy and with peace.”

I do not believe that the city of Enoch made greater advancement, in the same period of time, than this people have done in the twenty-six years of their career, which is saying a great deal for them. Who else would live here? Nobody. Put Gentiles here and tell them that they had to be confined here, and they would consider themselves in a worse prison than a penitentiary.
Do some of the brethren murmur a little, and say if it were not for “Mormonism,” they would do thus and so? What of that? Is there any other people who would do as well as you do? No, not another.
When I find fault with the people for not hearkening to counsel, it is because I want them to live so as speedily to obtain the reward of righteousness, and not have to wait so long for it.

Here sits a man I can now look upon who says I am a greater despot than the Emperor of Russia. Maybe I am, for should I see the poor suffering, I could knock open flour barrels better than Alexander II, and give the contents to the poor with a better heart than he could.

If a person is honest before God and has more than he needs for his own use, and does not covet it, he will make a distribution to those who have not, and there need not any person go without necessary food. I know that there are many here who have given out much flour, and they have by no means suffered on account of their liberality. There is a man sitting on the stand who says that his wife scraped the bottom of the flour barrel, and on the next morning has gone to scrape again, to give out more to the poor, and found it half full. She asked him “If he had put it there.” He answered, “No.” “Well,” said she, “I scraped it out last night.”
The Lord wishes to try you; shall we say that we will hoard up the blessings of God, that we may be able to say that we have a large amount to ourselves? No, but divide them out, and do so with an honest heart, in all humility; and let those who receive blessings receive them with an honest heart, in all humility and thankfulness. Some who have, will withhold, and some of the poor are covetous and will grab a little here and there and lay it up, or waste it. If you continue in covetousness, your substance will shrink and waste away.
Let the poor, those who have to depend upon their brethren for bread, after they have done all they can to obtain it themselves be thankful, and take no more than they require to use in a frugal manner. By taking such a course, no person would suffer.
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Excerpts from Brigham Young at his sister Fanny’s funeral – Journal of Discourses vol 7 Resurrection of the body, the spirit world, etc….

The organization of the human tabernacle is a great mystery; but it would not be, if we could see and understand. Could the veil between us and the spiritual existence be rent, we should behold a greater mystery in the organization of the spirit.
Sister Fanny has been faithful: her spirit is now in the spirit world. Where do you suppose that world is? We used to think and talk a great deal about this subject, inquiring where heaven is, and where is the heaven of heavens. Let me tell you that sister Fanny cannot dwell there until she obtains her resurrection; neither can any other being. The spirit world I now refer to pertains to this earth, so far as spirits who have tabernacled or may hereafter tabernacle here are concerned.
Sister Fanny was baptized for the remission of sins, and received the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. She lived according to the precepts and ordinances that God has revealed through his servant the Prophet, by which men can be saved and brought back into his presence. But is her spirit in the third heavens? No. Will it go there? Not until she again possesses her body. Can she see the Lord? Yes, if he unveils himself. Can she converse with angels? Yes, if they are sent to converse with her. Is she in paradise? Yes. Where do the spirits of the wicked go? To the same place or kingdom pertaining to this earth. They do not go to the depths of hell, neither can they until they become angels of devils.
Is a Saint subject to the power of the Devil in the spirit world? No, because he has gained the victory through faith, and can command Satan, and he must obey. How is it with the wicked? The Devil has power over them to distress and afflict them: they are in hell. Can the angels of heaven administer to them? Yes, if they are sent to do so. What can be done for them? The spirit of sister Fanny and the spirit of every man and woman who has died in the faith of the Gospel, since it has been restored, will have the power to teach those wicked spirits and all who have gone to the spirit world without having heard the Gospel in the flesh, and say to them, If you will now repent and believe, the Lord will even now provide the means that you may be officiated for on the earth in those ordinances that must be attended to here. Sister Fanny can do good in her capacity and calling as well as Joseph the Prophet can in his. He will hold the keys: he will rule, govern, and control all things in the spiritual world pertaining to this dispensation, until he has finished his work.
The Lord commands, controls, and governs. A little more faith in the name of Jesus Christ, and I can say to my enemies, Be thou rebuked and stay thou there. I then can say to the power of the Devil, Be thou rebuked; and to evil spirits, Come not within these walls, and they could not enter. A little more faith, and, by way of comparison, I can say to my wheat and corn, Grow, and command the heavens to shed forth rain.
Suppose that the whole people could see things as they are, they would soon be able to control the elements by the power of their faith. This people, since we believe that they are in the kingdom of God, must so live as to gain power and faith to control all things of a perishable nature, and thus prepare themselves to endure forever and ever; while every other creature will, ere long, return to its native element.