Saturday, December 11, 2021

Elder James E. Talmage on being purified to feel the powers of God

Elder James E. Talmage (1862-1933) was born in England. He was a brilliant scholar, trained as a geologist and mathematician. But he's perhaps best known today among Church members for his classic writings, including "Jesus the Christ," "The Articles of Faith," and "The Holy Temple." He was called as an apostle in 1911 and served until his death in 1933 at age 70.
"Subtler, mightier, and more mysterious than any or all of the physical forces of nature are the powers that operate upon conscious organisms, the means by which the mind, the heart, the soul of man may be energized by spiritual forces. In our ignorance of the true nature of electricity we may speak of it as a fluid; and so by analogy the forces through which the mind is governed have been called spiritual fluids. The true nature of these manifestations of energy is unknown to us, for the elements of comparison and analogy, so necessary to our human reasoning, are wanting; nevertheless the effects are experienced by all.
"As the conducting medium in an electric circuit is capable of conveying but a limited current, the maximum capacity depending upon the resistance offered by the conductor, and, as separate circuits of different degrees of conductivity may carry currents of widely varying intensity, so human souls are of varied capacity with respect to the higher powers. But as the medium is purified, as obstructions are removed, so resistance to the energy decreases, and the forces manifest themselves with greater intensity. By analogous processes of purification our spirits may be made more susceptible to the forces of life, which are emanations from the Holy Spirit. Therefore are we taught to pray by word and action for a constantly increasing portion of the Spirit, that is, the power of the Spirit, which is a measure of this gift of God unto us."
- James E. Talmage, "Personality and Powers of the Holy Ghost," Articles of Faith, pp. 142-154
Click here to read the full chapter

Elder Talmage's scientific training and background are evident in this excerpt. In discussing the flower of electric current through a conductor, he recognizes that the "purity" of the conducting material can enhance the electrical flow. When there are impurities or filled with "obstructions" the resistance increases and the flow of current declines. But for maximum efficiency and optimized current flow, the more pure the conveying substance, the better; and the analogy of the flow of the Spirit through a purified human being makes sense:

An how do we make the "conducting substance" of our beings more pure? I like Moroni's description:  "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness..." (Moroni 10:32). The process of purifying ourselves to maximize our ability to be conductors of the spirit, so that the spiritual forces might "manifest themselves with greater intensity," involves removing all the "ungodly" impurities from our lives. This is the process of repentance.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
September 21, 2017

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