Over the last two months, death jumped to the forefront of my mind. An incredible amount of friends’ loved ones or family pets have passed away. I’ve never felt more aware of our collective mortality with its associated death, sorrow, grief, and hope as I have during these last few months of 2020.
I heard a quote from the following discourse by Brigham Young in a talk I recently listened to and felt compelled to find and read the rest of the discourse. Brigham Young’s directness on death and the Spirit World provided a new perspective for me and I hope that you will find value in these words, too.
Brigham Young Speaks About Death
How frequently the question arises in the minds of the people—“I wish I knew where I was going!” Can you find out? Well, you will go into the spirit world, where brother Thomas now is. He has now entered upon a higher state of being, that is, his spirit has, than when in this body. “Why cannot I see him? Why cannot I converse with his spirit? I wish I could see my husband or my father and converse with him!” It is not reasonable that you should, it is not right that you should; perhaps you would miss the very object of your pursuit if you had this privilege, and there would not be the same trial of faith to exercise you, not so severe a path of affliction for you to walk in, not so great a battle to fight, nor so great a victory to win, and you would miss the very object you are in pursuit of. It is right just as it is, that this veil should be closed down; that we do not see God, that we do not see angels, that we do not converse with them except through strict obedience to his requirements, and faith in Jesus Christ. When we contemplate the condition of man here upon the earth, and understand that we are brought forth for the express purpose of preparing ourselves through our faithfulness to inherit eternal life, we ask ourselves where we are going, what will be our condition, what will be the nature of our pursuits in a state of being in which we shall possess more vigor and a higher degree of intelligence than we possess here? Shall we have labor? Shall we have enjoyment in our labor? Shall we have any object of pursuit, or shall we sit and sing ourselves away to everlasting bliss? These are questions that arise in the minds of people, and they many times feel anxious to know something about hereafter. What a dark valley and a shadow it is that we call death! To pass from this state of existence as far as the mortal body is concerned, into a state of inanition, how strange it is! How dark this valley is! How mysterious is this road, and we have got to travel it alone. I would like to say to you, my friends and brethren, if we could see things as they are, and as we shall see and understand them, this dark shadow and valley is so trifling that we shall turn round and look upon it and think, when we have crossed it, why this is the greatest advantage of my whole existence, for I have passed from a state of sorrow, grief, mourning, woe, misery, pain, anguish and disappointment into a state of existence, where I can enjoy life to the fullest extent as far as that can be done without a body. My spirit is set free, I thirst no more, I want to sleep no more, I hunger no more, I tire no more, I run, I walk, I labor, I go, I come, I do this, I do that, whatever is required of me, nothing like pain or weariness, I am full of life, full of vigor, and I enjoy the presence of my heavenly Father, by the power of his Spirit. I want to say to my friends, if you will live your religion, live so as to be full of the faith of God, that the light of eternity will shine upon you, you can see and understand these things for yourselves, that when you close your eyes upon mortality you wake up right in the presence of the Father and the Son if they are disposed to withdraw the veil, they can do as they please with regard to this; but you are in the spirit world and in a state of bliss and happiness, though we may call it Hades or hell. It is the world of spirits, it is where Jesus went, and where all go, both good and bad. The spirits of the living that depart this life go into the world of spirits, and if the Lord withdraws the veil it is much easier for us then to behold the face of our Father who is in heaven than when we are clothed upon with this mortality. I have not time at present to follow these reflections further.
Then we should be encouraged, we should strengthen our faith by our hope, we should seek unto the Lord until our hope is made perfect, that we may have power to bear like Saints all the afflictions we meet with here on the earth. If we do this, when we have crossed the dark valley of the shadow of death it will be so easy to turn round and behold the path that we have walked, wherein we have had the privilege, the same as the Gods, of learning the difference between good and evil.
You recollect that it was said in ancient days, to her that we call Mother, “Your eyes will be opened if you will eat of this fruit, and you will know as the Gods know, good from evil.” This probation is given us that we may learn this lesson, and if we are faithful in it we shall learn how to succor those who are tempted and tried as we are, when we have the power to rescue them from the ravages of the enemy.
This earth is our home, it was framed expressly for the habitation of those who are faithful to God, and who prove themselves worthy to inherit the earth when the Lord shall have sanctified, purified and glorified it and brought it back into his presence, from which it fell far into space. Ask the astronomer how far we are from the nearest of those heavenly bodies that are called the fixed stars. Can he count the miles? It would be a task for him to tell us the distance. When the earth was framed and brought into existence and man was placed upon it, it was near the throne of our Father in heaven. And when man fell—though that was designed in the economy, there was nothing about it mysterious or unknown to the Gods, they understood it all, it was all planned—but when man fell, the earth fell into space, and took up its abode in this planetary system, and the sun became our light. When the Lord said—“Let there be light,” there was light, for the earth was brought near the sun that it might reflect upon it so as to give us light by day, and the moon to give us light by night. This is the glory the earth came from, and when it is glorified it will return again unto the presence of the Father, and it will dwell there, and these intelligent beings that I am looking at, if they live worthy of it, will dwell upon this earth.
As for their labor and pursuits in eternity I have not time to talk upon that subject; but we shall have plenty to do. We shall not be idle. We shall go on from one step to another, reaching forth into the eternities until we become like the Gods, and shall be able to frame for ourselves, by the behest and command of the Almighty. All those who are counted worthy to be exalted and to become Gods, even the sons of God, will go forth and have earths and worlds like those who framed this and millions on millions of others. This is our home, built expressly for us by the Father of our spirits, who is the Father, maker, framer and producer of these mortal bodies that we now inherit, and which go back to mother earth. When the spirit leaves them they are lifeless; and when the mother feels life come to her infant it is the spirit entering the body preparatory to the mortal existence. But suppose an accident occurs and the spirit has to leave this body prematurely, what then? All that the physician says is—“it is a still birth,” and that is all they know about it; but whether the spirit remains in the body a minute, an hour, a day, a year, or lives there until the body has reached a good old age, it is certain that the time will come when they will be separated, and the body will return to mother earth, there to sleep upon that mother’s bosom. That is all there is about death.
Brother Thomas Williams is no more dead than he was a week ago. His clay is simply dead; and inasmuch as he honored this tabernacle that lies before us, it will take a sleep in the dust, to come forth immortal in the day of the first resurrection.
This will be the case with us all; if we honor our being here. This is our path, and our great object should be to honor our calling here. We have bodies which, in infancy, childhood and youth, are just as pure as the angels, and if we honor these bodies, and preserve them in chastity, purity and holiness, they are just as good as the bodies of those that dwell in endless life, and they will be prepared to come forth in the glorious resurrection, and be crowned with glory, immortality and eternal lives. This is the privilege of all, and the work that the Savior has undertaken is to save all that will come unto him; none will be eternally lost except the sons of perdition; and the great work that God has brought forth in the latter days in restoring the Priesthood is for the living and for the dead, to bring them up that they may enjoy a glorious resurrection.
Brother Thomas has honored his body here, and he now goes into his glory, that is, as far as he can in the spirit world. He goes where he can do more good. He has gone where he can preach to those who have lived and died on the earth without the Gospel, that they may have the privilege of receiving and obeying it, that they may be judged according to men in the flesh, and have the privilege of a glorious resurrection.
This is the work of the Latter-day Saints, and if we are hated for anything, it is for trying to save the people; if we are persecuted it is for trying to do good to those who are living and those who are dead. I say, then, to the Saints, pursue your course, live your religion and be ready at a moment’s warning. Brother Thomas Williams, while he sat at table eating his dinner, had not the privilege of speaking a word. A blood vessel broke, and his mouth and throat were instantly filled with blood to that degree that he could not speak a word. He tried to swallow a little salt and water, and probably he got a little down, but I doubt it very much. The blood gushed most probably from both stomach and lungs. The vessels were ripe and prepared to break, and the blood within him gushed out so copiously that he never spoke another word. How could he repent of his sins if he had not been prepared? What kind of a confession could he have made if he had wished to? None at all. He could not ask a Priest to pray for him if he had wanted to do so; no, he was prepared to go; he never spoke a word, but committed his soul to God without a moment’s warning. I try to so live that my work is always done; I have done everything that can be done up to the moment, just as he did it. I wish our business men would take pattern by him who lies before us. He was our paymaster in the Parent Branch of Z.C.M.I., and attended to this Branch of the financial business of the Institution, and there was not an order that was to be paid or filed, but what he had written a description of it and pinned it on to that order before he went to his dinner. In all his business there was not one scratch of the pen wanted to be done by other clerks, but every iota was done just as much as though he had known that he was going to breathe his last in twenty minutes.
Saints, I wish you would take pattern by this man, and live your lives as he lived his life. I pray you in Christ’s stead live your religion. If you want to know whether I live mine judge by my works, judge from my daily walk and conversation. You have the right to judge, but you be sure and live so that you will know whether I do or not. I live so that I know whether you do or not, exactly. Latter-day Saints live your religion and honor your God.
I say to this family, the wives and children of brother Williams, God bless you and comfort your hearts; and I say, will you please live your religion so that you may be prepared to meet him? If you do not live so as to honor your Priesthood, you will come short of meeting him in the resurrection, I assure you. Now live your religion. God is not to be mocked, the laws of God are to be honored, and all of his ordinances and requirements are to be filled and fulfilled. He requires strict obedience of his children, and if we are not obedient we shall come short of that glory that we anticipate now.
I hope and pray that the Lord will bless you all. Amen.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.