The house “. . . was filled with evil spirits, who sought to destroy us . . .”
–Wilford Woodruff (London, England)
We three [Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball and George A. Smith] went into the City of London to undertake to open doors in that great city. The first man who opened his doors to receive us was a man by the name of Morgan. The very day we entered that house it was filled with evil spirits, who sought to destroy us. We felt their power day after day. They did not particularly injure us at that time, but we knew they were with us. The incident that I am going to refer to now occurred after Brother Kimball had returned to Manchester. Brother George A. Smith and myself were left there.
We sat up one night till about 11 o’clock, talking about the Gospel of Christ, and then went to bed. The room in which we slept was small; there was about three and a half feet between our cots. Those spirits were gathered together in that room and sought to destroy us. They fell upon us with the determination to take our lives. The distress, the suffering and the horror that rested upon me I never experienced before nor since.
While in this condition a spirit said to me, “Pray to the Lord.” Well, a man in that kind of warfare, when he is choking almost to death, is in a peculiar position to pray. Nevertheless I went to praying with all the power I had. I knew we would die unless God opened some door for our deliverance, because we were being choked to death, and I prayed the Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, to preserve our lives.
While I was praying, the door opened and three messengers entered, and the room was filled with light equal to the blazing light of the sun at mid-day. Those messengers were all dressed in the robes of immortal beings. Who they were I know not. They laid hands upon me and my companion, and rebuked those evil powers, and we were saved. From that hour to this day, not only our lives were saved, but those powers were rebuked by the angels of God so that no Elder since has been tormented with them in London. (Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, at the General Conference of the Church, held in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Monday Afternoon, October 5, 1896.)
Can Satan enter temples?
–Marriner W. Merrill (Logan Temple, Logan, Utah)
[Marriner W. Merrill, President of the Logan Temple] was sitting in his office one morning, he said, when he noticed from the window a company of people coming up the hill to the Temple. As they entered the Temple grounds they presented rather a strange appearance, not only in dress but in their mode of travel. Some were riding on horses, others were in conveyances, and still others were afoot. He wondered who they could be as he was not looking for a company of such size that particular morning. They dismounted from their horses, stepped down from their conveyances, put their animals under the shade and walked about complacently as if they had a perfect right to be there.
A little later a person unknown to Brother Merrill entered the room. Brother Merrill said to him: “Who are you and who are these people who have come up and taken possession of the Temple grounds unannounced?” He answered and said: “I am Satan and these are my people.” Brother Merrill then said: “What do you want? Why have you come here?” Satan replied: “I don’t like the work that is going on in this Temple and feel that it should be discontinued. Will you stop it?” Brother Merrill answered and said emphatically, “No, we will not stop it. The work must go on.” “Since you refuse to stop it, I will tell you what I propose to do,” the adversary said. “I will take these people, my followers, and distribute them throughout this Temple district, and will instruct them to whisper in the ears of people, persuading them not to go to the Temple, and thus bring about a cessation of your Temple work.” Satan then withdrew.
President Merrill, commenting on this strange interview with the Evil One, said that for quite a period of time the spirit of indifference to Temple work seemed to take possession of the people and very few came to the House of the Lord. The presumption was that Satan had carried out his threat which caused a temporary lull in Temple work.
It is not to be wondered at that Satan, who is the enemy of all righteousness, is displeased with Temple work. (Rudger Clawson, Church Section, The Deseret News, Dec. 12, 1936, Vol. 344, No. 61.)
“. . . [The devil] said it was his house, it belonged to him . . .”
–Joseph Smith, (Far West, Missouri)
I [Heber C. Kimball] will relate one circumstance that took place at Far West, in a house that Joseph had purchased, which had been formerly occupied as a public house by some wicked people. A short time after he got into it, one of his children was taken very sick; he laid his hands upon the child, when it got better; as soon as he went out of doors, the child was taken sick again; he again laid his hands upon it, so that it again recovered.
This occurred several times, when Joseph inquired of the Lord what it all meant; then he had an open vision, and saw the devil in person, who contended with Joseph face to face, for some time. He said it was his house, it belonged to him, and Joseph had no right there. Then Joseph rebuked Satan in the name of the Lord, and he departed and touched the child no more. (The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star February 26, 1883, No. 9, Vol. 45, also quoted in Orson F. Whitney, The Life of Heber C. Kimball. November, 1888. 270)
“he felt determined to destroy us”
–Heber C. Kimball (Preston, England)
“Saturday evening,” says Heber C. Kimball, “it was agreed that I should go forward and baptize, the next morning, in the river Ribble, which runs through Preston.
“By this time the adversary of souls began to rage, and he felt determined to destroy us before we had fully established the kingdom of God in that land, and the next morning I witnessed a scene of satanic power and influence which I shall never forget.
“Sunday, July 30th, about daybreak, Elder Isaac Russell (who had been appointed to preach on the obelisk in Preston Square, that day,) who slept with Elder Richards in Wilfred Street, came up to the third story, where Elder Hyde and myself were sleeping, and called out, ‘ Brother Kimball, I want you should get up and pray for me that I may be delivered from the evil spirits that are tormenting me to such a degree that I feel I cannot live long, unless I obtain relief.’
“I had been sleeping on the back of the bed. I immediately arose, slipped off at the foot of the bed, and passed around to where he [Elder Russell] was. Elder Hyde threw his feet out, and sat up in the bed, and we laid hands on him, I being mouth, and prayed that the Lord would have mercy on him, and rebuke the devil.
“While thus engaged, I was struck with great force by some invisible power, and fell senseless on the floor. The first thing I recollected was being supported by Elders Hyde and Richards who were praying for me, Elder Richards having followed Russell up to my room. Elders Hyde and Richards then assisted me to get on the bed, but my agony was so great I could not endure it, and I arose, bowed my knees and prayed.
“I then arose and sat up on the bed, when a vision was opened to our minds, and we could distinctly see the evil spirits, who foamed and gnashed their teeth at us. We gazed upon them about an hour and a half (by Willard’s watch). We were not looking towards the window, but towards the wall. Space appeared before us, and we saw the devils coming in legions, with their leaders, who came within a few feet of us. They came towards us like armies rushing to battle. They appeared to be men of full stature, possessing every form and feature of men in the flesh, who were angry and desperate; and I shall never forget the vindictive malignity depicted on their countenances as they looked me in the eye; and any attempt to paint the scene which then presented itself or portray their malice and enmity, would be vain.
“I perspired exceedingly, my clothes becoming as wet as if I had been taken out of the river. I felt excessive pain, and was in the greatest distress for some time. I cannot even look back on the scene without feelings of horror; yet by it I learned the power of the adversary, his enmity against the servants of God, and got some understanding of the invisible world. We distinctly heard these spirits talk and express their wrath and hellish designs against us. However, the Lord delivered us from them, and blessed us exceedingly that day.”
When he returned home Heber C. Kimball asked the Prophet, Joseph Smith, “What was the matter of us? What had we done that we had to be submitted to such an experience?”
Joseph responded,”Brother Heber, at that time you were nigh unto the Lord; there was only a veil between you and him, but you could not see him. When I heard of it, it gave me great joy, for I then knew that the work of God had taken root in that land. It was this that caused the devil to make a struggle to kill you. The nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of his purposes.”
An answer this, for the unbelieving and sophistical, who argue, with the shallow reasoning of Job’s comforters, that they have sinned most who suffer most, and are ever ready to ascribe spiritual manifestations, good or evil, to madness, drunkenness or imbecility. It is needful, we are told, to experience opposites, to be enabled to choose intelligently between them ; and to those who have this experience, and who “take the Holy Spirit for their guide,” the way to judge is as plain “as the daylight from the dark night. (Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp. 131-132.)
Orson Hyde, letter to Heber C. Kimball (May 22, 1856)
Every circumstance that occurred at that scene of devils is just as fresh in my recollection at this moment as it was at the moment of its occurrence, and will ever remain so. After you were overcome by them and had fallen, their awful rush upon me with knives, threats, imprecations and hellish grins, amply convinced me that they were no friends of mine. While you were apparently senseless and lifeless on the floor and upon the bed (after we had laid you there), I stood between you and the devils and fought them and contended with them face to face, until they began to diminish in number and to retreat from the room. The last imp that left turned round to me as he was going out and said, as if to apologize, and appease my determined opposition to them, “I never said anything against you!” I replied to him thus: “It matters not to me whether you have or have not; you are a liar from the beginning! In the name of Jesus Christ, depart!” He immediately left, and the room was clear. That closed the scene of devils for that time. (Orson Hyde, letter to Heber C. Kimball (May 22, 1856), The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star Vol. 45)
“. . . I heard a noise behind me like some one walking towards me.”
–Joseph Smith, (Sacred Grove, New York)
Joseph Smith 1835 Account
Being wrought up in my mind respecting the subject of Religion, and looking at the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong, but considered it of the first importance to me that I should be right, in matter[s] of so much moment, matter involving eternal consequences. Being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and there bowed down before the Lord, under a realizing sense (if the bible be true) ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened, seek and you shall find, and again, if any man lack wisdom, let [him ask] of God who giveth to all men liberally & upbraideth not.
Information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called on the Lord for the first time in the place above stated, or in other words, I made a fruitless attempt to pray My tongue seemed to be swoolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me like some one walking towards me. I strove again to pray, but could not; the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer, I sprang upon my feet and looked round, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking. I kneeled again, my mouth was opened and my tongue loosed; I called on the Lord in mighty prayer. A pillar of fire appeared above my head; which presently rested down upon me, and filled me with un-speakable joy. A personage appeared in the midst of this pillar of flame, which was spread all around and yet nothing consumed. Another personage soon appeared like unto the first: he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee. He testified also unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God. I saw many angels in this vision. I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication. (See full text)
Joseph Smith 1838 Account
So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally. After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, … (See full text)