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Men are eternal beings

“Associated as we are with the kingdom of God, we may reasonably expect, so long as we do our duty before the Lord, to have continual developments of light, truth, and intelligence, that emanate from the great God, for the guidance, direction, salvation, and exaltation of this people, whether it relates to time, or to eternity; for everything we have to do with is eternal; and when we speak of time and eternity, they are only relative terms which we attach to things that are present, and things that are to come, and things that are past. But in relation to ourselves as individuals, we are eternal beings, although we occupy a certain space of eternity called time; in relation to the Gospel we preach, it is eternal; in relation to the Priesthood, it is eternal; in relation to our covenants and obligations, they are eternal; in relation to our promises, prospects, and hopes, they are eternal. And while we are acting upon this stage of being, we are merely commencing a state of things that will exist while countless ages shall roll along; and if we have right views and right feelings, and entertain correct principles as eternal beings, all our thoughts, our actions, our prospects − all our energies and our lives, will be engaged in laying a foundation upon which to build a superstructure that will be permanent, lasting, and enduring as the throne of the great Jehovah; and if anything is short of this, it is short of the mark of the high calling whereunto we may or ought to arrive; and many of the little incidents and occurrences of life that we have to pass through, are transient in comparison to the things that are to come; and yet all these little things are so many links in the great chain of our existence, of our hopes and prospects.

There are many things that seem to us trials and difficulties, that perplex, annoy, and harass our spirits; yet these very things, as one justly observed, are blessings in disguise, so many helps to us to develop our weaknesses and infirmities, and lead us to put our trust in God, and rely upon Him to give us a knowledge of ourselves, of our neighbors, and of the work of God; they have a tendency to develop principles of worth to our minds, and thus they serve as schoolmasters, helps, and instructors, and are to us as many blessings in disguise. In fact all things that we have to do with in the world, whether they are adversity or prosperity, whether they relate to ourselves or to others, if rightly appreciated and understood, may teach us a lesson that will be to our joy, probably not only in time, but in all eternity. We must know ourselves, learn what is in our nature − our weakness, our strength, our wisdom, our folly, and the like things that dwell in others, that we may learn to appreciate true and correct principles, and be governed by them whenever they are developed; that we may learn to set a just value upon all sublunary things, that we may not value them above their real value, and that we may neither value ourselves nor others above our or their worth; that we may learn to look upon ourselves as eternal beings, acting in everything with a reference to eternity; that we may by and by secure to ourselves eternal exaltations, thrones, principalities, and powers in the eternal worlds.

These are some of my feelings in relation to every−day affairs and occurrences in life, and the things with which I am surrounded, and I feel anxious every day, when I feel right, to make an improvement today, in something that will benefit me or others in relation to eternity, as well as to time; for while we are eternal beings we are also temporal beings, and have to do with temporal things, as well as with spiritual or eternal things. Taking this view of the subject, it is of very little importance whether we are rich or whether we are poor, whether we are placed in adverse or in prosperous circumstances. It may, however, be of more importance than we think of. I think adversity is a blessing in many instances; and in some, prosperity; but nothing is a blessing to us that is not calculated to enlighten our minds, and lead us to God, and put us in possession of true principles, and prepare us for an exaltation in the eternal world.

When we look at ourselves aright, when we understand the principles of truth aright, what is there we would not give for salvation? When the Spirit has beamed forth powerfully upon the hearts of the Saints, when the light and intelligence of heaven have manifested themselves, when the Lord has shone upon the souls of the Saints when assembled together, what have they felt like? That they are the blessed of the Lord.  How oft, when they have met together on special occasions to receive certain blessings from the hands of God, has the spirit of revelation rested upon them, and the future been opened to their view in all its beauty, glory, richness, and excellency; and when their hearts have been warmed up by that spirit, how have they felt to rejoice! How have they looked upon the things of this world, and the prospect that awaited them − upon their privileges as Saints of the Most High God, and upon the glory they will inherit if they are faithful to the end! You may have experienced the feeling that such thoughts and prospects would naturally create in the human heart. Why is it we feel otherwise at any time? It is because we forget to pray, and call upon God, and dedicate ourselves to Him, or because we fall into transgression, commit iniquity, and lose the Spirit of God, and forget our calling's glorious hope. But if we could all the time see, and realize, and understand our true position before God, our minds would be continually on the stretch after the things of God, and we should be seeking to know all the day long what we could do to promote the happiness and salvation of the world, what we could do to honor our calling − to honor the Priesthood of the Son of God, and what to do to honor our God, and to improve the remaining time we have upon the earth, and the energies of our bodies, for the accomplishment of His purposes, for the rolling forth of His kingdom, for the advancement of His designs, that when we stand before Him He may say to us − ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord; thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.’” (emphasis added)

John Taylor, “Men Are Eternal Beings—Darkness, Ignorance, and Weakness of the World—Privileges of the Saints” April 19, 1854 (Journal of Discourses, Volume 1)


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