You are aware that many think that the Devil has rule and power over both body and spirit. Now, I want to tell you that he does not hold any power over man, only so far as the body overcomes the spirit that is in a man, through yielding to the spirit of evil. The spirit that the Lord puts into a tabernacle of flesh, is under the dictation of the Lord Almighty; but the spirit and body are united in order that the spirit may have a tabernacle, and be exalted; and the spirit is influenced by the body, and the body by the spirit.
In the first place the spirit is pure, and under the special control and influence of the Lord, but the body is of the earth, and is subject to the power of the Devil, and is under the mighty influence of that fallen nature that is of the earth. If the spirit yields to the body, the Devil then has power to overcome the body and spirit of that man, and he loses both.
Recollect, brethren and sisters, every one of you, that when evil is suggested to you, when it arises in your hearts, it is through the temporal organization. When you are tempted, buffeted, and step out of the way inadvertently; when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles, take the lead. If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil, and obtain eternal lives. But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed. 1
Heber C. Kimball
When I was in England, brother Geo. D. Watt was the first man baptized, and his mother was baptized directly after he was. The night previous to my going forward to baptize brother Watt and eight others, I had a vision, as old father Baker used to say, “of the infernal world.” I saw legions of wicked spirits that night, as plain as I now see you, and they came as near to me as you now are, and company after company of them rushed towards me; and brother Hyde and brother Richards also saw them. It was near the break of day, and I looked upon them as I now look upon you. They came when I was laying hands upon brother Russell, the wicked spirits got him to the door of the room, I did not see them till after that took place, and soon afterwards I lay prostrate upon the floor. That was in England, pious England, in the little town of Preston, at the corner of Wilford Street, and they struggled and exerted all their power and influence. That was the first introduction of the Gospel into England, and I was shown those spirits as plainly as ever I saw anything. I was thinking of that circumstance while brother Brigham was speaking this morning, and I was thinking that those spirits were just as much on hand to perplex this people as they were on hand there. I saw their hands, their eyes, and every feature of their faces, the hair on their heads, and their ears, in short they had full-formed bodies.
If evil spirits could come to me, cannot ministering spirits and angels also come from God? Of course they can, and there are thousands of them, and I wish you to understand this, and that they can rush as an army going to battle, for the evil spirits came upon me and brother Hyde in that way. There is one circumstance in the visit of those evil spirits, that I would not tell if brother Hyde had not often told it himself; they spoke and said to brother Hyde, “We have nothing against you,” no, but I was the lad that they were after. I mention this to show that the devil is an enemy to me, he is also an enemy to brother Brigham, to brother Jedediah, to the Twelve, and to every righteous man. When brother Benson goes to the old country he will find hosts of evil spirits, and he will know more about the devil than he ever did before. The spirits of the wicked, who have died for thousands of years past, are at war with the Saints of God upon the earth. Do I ever pray that I may see them again? No, I do not. We had prayed all day, and almost all night, that we might have power to establish the Gospel in England. Previous to this, Mr. Fielding, a clergyman, came and forbid my baptizing those persons who had come forward. Said I, sir, they are of age, and I shall baptize them, if they wish for it, and I baptized nine. The next morning I was so weak that I could scarcely stand, so great was the effect that those spirits had upon me. I wrote a few words to my wife about the matter, and brother Joseph called upon her for the letter and said, “It was a choice jewel, and a testimony that the Gospel was planted in a strange land.”
When I returned home I called upon brother Joseph, and we walked down the bank of the river. He there told me what contests he had had with the devil; he told me that he had contests with the devil, face to face. He also told me how he was handled and afflicted by the devil, and said, he had known circumstances where Elder Rigdon was pulled out of bed three times in one night. After all this some persons will say to me, that there are no evil spirits. I tell you they are thicker than the “Mormons” are in this country, but the Lord has said that there are more for us than there can be against us. “Who are they?” says one. Righteous men who have been upon the earth.
But do you suppose that angels will pay friendly visits to those who do not live up to their privileges? Would you? No, you would not like to visit with persons who lie, and steal your goods, and borrow and never pay. Would not you forsake such persons? Yes, you would. Will the Holy Ghost dwell with a man who will lie, steal, and swear? No. It is written that where the Holy Ghost takes up its abode the Father and Son will come and abide. That is the God whom I serve, one who has millions of angels at His command. Do you suppose that there are any angels here today? I would not wonder if there were ten times more angels here than people. We do not see them, but they are here watching us, and are anxious for our salvation. 2
George A. Smith
Among the early baptisms in Northern Ohio, was a Methodist minister by the name of Ezra Booth. He was present when the Elders first received the ordination of the High Priesthood. They met together in June, 1831, in a log schoolhouse in Kirtland, a room about eighteen feet by twenty. While they were there, the manifestation of the power of God being on Joseph, he set apart some of the Elders to the High Priesthood. Ezra Booth was bound, and his countenance was distorted, and numbers of the brethren looked at him, and thought it was a wonderful manifestation of the power of God, but to their astonishment, Joseph came forward and rebuked the foul spirit, and commanded it to depart, in consequence of which Booth was relieved, and many of the brethren were greatly tried at such a singular treatment by the prophet of these wonderful manifestations of power. 3
Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 69-70
Heber C. Kimball, “Elders Called to Go on Missions, Etc.“, Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, pp. 227-232, March 2, 1856.