God's Children Must Descend Below All Things

By Coming to Mortality

(Emphasis added in all quotes)
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Brigham Young

John Taylor

George Q. Cannon

We talk about the glory which is in store for us, and well we may talk about it, because we have, to a certain extent, had a foretaste on the earth of those promises, the fulness of which we shall enjoy in that world to which we are all hastening. We can see the effects of the Gospel upon the minds of the people, and upon our own minds; we see the people being morally developed in everything that will make them mighty before God. I know that the Lord, for a wise purpose, has called the noblest spirits that he had around him to come forth in this dispensation. He called them to come in humble circumstances, that they might receive the experience necessary to try and prove them in all things, that they might descend below all things, and gradually begin to ascend above all things; there was a wise design in this, and we see it carried out at the present time. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.11, p.100)


From A Vision Given to Benjamin F. Johnson

[While serving a mission for the Church in 1840, Benjamin F. Johnson received the following vision while in Erie, Pennsylvania. What he saw is interesting in light of man's descending below all things.]

The word at once went out that a Mormon elder had come, and all appeared anxious that I should preach. I did so the next day, and the day after I was taken by others of the kindred to Union district, where I commenced to preach to a large congregation, and from there to a larger still. Here now a wide door for preaching was opening to me . . . .Here lived Washington Walker, a Universalist, who took me to his house and made it my home while I remained in that country, often taking me in his sleigh or carriage to my appointments. He was a gentleman of culture, but of few words. At this time his sister, an eminent Presbyterian, came from Erie City to visit them. They took her to my appointments to hear Mormonism in which she seemed to take a lively interest, and on one occasion said there was one subject that greatly interested her, on which she wanted light, and wished I would make it the subject of my next discourse. This was "Foreordination" or "Election and Reprobation." If she had struck me with a club I could not have felt more stunned, dazed and foolish. I felt that I must comply with her request, but how? In preaching the first principles of the Gospel, the Second Coming of Christ, the gathering of Israel, Book of Mormon, etc., I was perfect, both in the letter and in the Spirit, but what did I know about Predestination? I did not know its definition, or meaning, nor of Election and Reprobation. And I was expected to preach upon that subject. How could I without one gleam of light or some key of knowledge to inspire me? I searched the scriptures and prayed, but no light came to me. The subject occupied my thoughts, and "foreordination" rang in my ear like a funeral knell. I wished to make excuse to the lady, but how dare I shrink from my calling? Had I not professed that my capability to teach was from the Lord, and could I say I was not prepared? But oh, how dark it all was to me!

The day of meeting came, the hour was fast approaching, and the thought almost took my breath. I had not eaten, I had not slept, for Predestination had occupied my thoughts night and day. I did not fear for myself, but for the great cause to be dishonored, perhaps by me. But the hours would not wait, the congregation had assembled, the house was full, and my feelings almost as dark as suicide. I opened the meeting, arose, and mechanically, without a thought as to what I would read, opened the Bible and saw the first chapter to the Ephesians and read, "We were chosen from before the foundation of the world, to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God." Here now was the key of knowledge, and with it came the light of the Lord to fill my whole being. The visions of heaven were opened before me. I saw that all intelligence moved to the accomplishment of objects for their own greatness and glory, and to that end the earth was made, not upon the principle that nothing had put forth to beget something, but from matter as coexistent with spirit. I saw that the spirits of all men had been begotten and that they were the morning stars that sang together and shouted for joy when the foundations of the earth were laid, for they saw that upon the earth they would receive tabernacles, through which they, like the Elder Brother would "descend below all things to arise above all things." And that as He was foreordained a Lamb slain for sin, also was it foreordained that man should sin; for if sin had not come there would have been no death, and without death no pain, sorrow and suffering; and without these there could be no joy and happiness; for as light is comprehended through darkness, so pleasure is bought by pain, its opposite. I saw that there is opposition to all things, and had there been no element of death there could have been no increase of life, "that man sinned that man might be, and that men might have joy," after tribulation.

All these ideas, and many others I presented and elucidated in a discourse delivered in a vehement and powerful manner, of over three hours' length, while the congregation sat as if riveted to their seats, and not a move did I notice from the time I arose, until I took my seat, and even yet all sat still as if in a maze.

But though all seemed to wonder, the marvel of no one could equal my own. To me it was as though from Egyptian darkness I had been suddenly brought into the light of the sun. The heavens had seemed opened to me, and of all I was the one most instructed. I knew it was all of the Lord because I had not desired the light for my own praise and glory.

An old Methodist preacher came to me at the close and said, "My young friend, you have taken us beyond all of my comprehension but I cannot gainsay one word." The lady left the next day, seemed very thoughtful, and treated me with the greatest respect, but she was of wealth and position, and I thought was sorrowful that all the great things she had learned were through so low and poor a people as the Mormons. (Benjamin Johnson My Life's Review [1947], pp.79-82)