Discourse, circa 28 March 1841
JS, Discourse, [, Hancock Co., IL, ca. 28 Mar. 1841]. Featured version in William P. McIntire, Notebook, pp. –; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Account of Meeting and Discourse, 5 Jan. 1841, as Reported by William P. McIntire.
At a Sabbath-day meeting held in , Illinois, most likely on 28 March 1841, JS delivered a discourse on the state of human spirits before birth. As he often did when preaching, JS began his discourse by reading a chapter from the Bible; on this day he chose Job 38. Drawing on this chapter and other parts of Job, JS taught that the spirits of humankind were “self Existant” before coming to earth and receiving a body. JS also spoke on the nature of God and of humankind and taught that Satan was a spirit without a body.This discourse has some foundation in an 1833 JS revelation that stated that people’s spirits existed before they were born. The revelation declared that “man was also in the begining with God” and that “inteligence, or the Light of truth was not created or made neith[er] indeed can be.” This concept—that “intelligences” have always existed—stood in stark contrast to the commonly held Christian belief that human spirits were created at the moment of conception or birth.JS expanded upon these ideas further in an 1839 sermon, stating, “The Spirit of Man is not a created being; it existed from Eternity & will exist to Eternity. Any thing created cannot be Eternal & earth, water &c— all these had their existence in an elementary state from Eternity. Our Savior Speaks of Children & Says their angels always stand before my father. The father called all spirits before him at the creation of Man & organized them.” Only a few months before giving the March 1841 discourse featured here, JS delivered another discourse in which he averred that “the first step in the salvation of men is the laws of eternal and self-existent principles. Spirits are eternal. At the first organization in heaven we were all present and saw the Savior chosen and appointed, and the plan of salvation made and we sanctioned it. We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the .” This idea of premortally existent spirits is also found in the Book of Abraham, in which the Lord teaches Abraham that these premortal spirits “have no beginning, they existed before; they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are Gnolaum, or Eternal.” JS spoke about this topic again in later sermons. In April 1844, he declared: “God was a self exhisting being, man exhist upon the same principle. God made a tabernacle & put a spirit in it and it became a Human soul, man exhisted in spirit & mind coequal with God himself. . . . God has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences that they may be exhalted with himself.”This circa 28 March 1841 discourse is the second Sunday discourse for which made notes in his personal notebook. McIntire presumably wrote his notes of the sermon during the meeting or shortly thereafter. In his entry for the discourse featured here, he did not provide the date of the meeting, noting only that the meeting was held on a Sunday. This entry, however, appears immediately after an account describing a meeting that presumably took place on Sunday, 21 March, indicating that JS most likely delivered the discourse featured here at a meeting on the Sunday immediately following, 28 March.