Friday, February 19, 2016

Parley P. Pratt on the purifying gift of the Holy Ghost

Elder Parley P. Pratt (1807-1857) was converted by the Book of Mormon and joined the Church in 1830, a few months after it was organized. He was one of first twelve men ordained apostles in 1835, and served in that assignment until his death in 1857 at age 50. He was known as a dynamic and powerful missionary, and his writings helped establish the philosophical and doctrinal foundation of Mormon doctrine.
"An intelligent being, in the image of God, possesses every organ, attribute, sense, sympathy, affection, of will, wisdom, love, power and gift, which is possessed by God himself.
"But these are possessed by man in his rudimental state in a subordinate sense of the word. Or, in other words, these attributes are in embryo, and are to be gradually developed. They resemble a bud, a germ, which gradually develops into bloom, and then, by progress, produces the mature fruit after its own kind.
"The gift of the Holy Ghost adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being."
- Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology [Deseret 1978], p. 61

What does it mean to be a child of God, created in the image of God? Elder Pratt considers that question and shares these insights. A child of God possesses all the attributes and qualities of God "in embryo" — to be "gradually developed" until they are fully expressed. The implication is that our goal and purpose in life are to "by progress" work towards the full realization of those attributes as we become like Him.  I love this testimony of Mormon:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:48; see also 1 John 3:2)
And then, in beautiful language, Elder Pratt describes the role of the Holy Ghost in the development and enhancement of those attributes. It "adapts" to our bodies and spirits to become a catalyst of sorts, enabling and quickening the development of the attributes of God in our lives.

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