I rejoice exceedingly that I know and have known nearly all my life such a noble woman. I do not remember the first time that I saw Aunt Rachel, I can't recall it; it seems to me I always knew her, just as I knew my mother in my childhood and all the way through life; and I rejoice exceedingly in this testimony of the Spirit of the Lord that has come to us through revelation in the latter days. Through this testimony I am confident that I shall see Aunt Rachel, by and by; and when I go—and I expect to go, perhaps, long before she shall recover this tabernacle—I expect to meet her there. I expect to meet the same individual that I knew here. I expect to be able to recognize her, just as I could recognize her tomorrow, if she were living. I believe I will know just exactly who she is and what she is, and I will remember all I knew about her; and enjoy her association in the spirit as I did in the flesh; because her identity is fixed and indestructible, just as fixed and indestructible as the identity of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. They cannot be any other than themselves. They cannot be changed; they are from everlasting to everlasting, eternally the same; so it will be with us. We will progress and develop and grow in wisdom and understanding, but our identity can never change. We did not spring from spawn. Our spirits existed from the beginning, have existed always, and will continue forever. We did not pass through the ordeals of embodiment in the lesser animals in order to reach the perfection to which we have attained in manhood and womanhood, in the image and likeness of God. God was and is our Father, and his children were begotten in the flesh of his own image and likeness, male and female. There may have been times when they did not possess the same intelligence that they possessed at other times. There are periods in the history of the world when men have dwindled into ignorance and barbarism, and then there were other times when they have grown in intelligence, developed in understanding, enlarged in spirit and comprehension, approaching nearer to the condition and likeness of their Father and God, and then losing faith, losing the love of God, losing the light of the Spirit and returning again to semi-barbarism. Then again, they have been restored, by the power and operation of the Spirit of the Lord upon their minds, until they again reached a degree of intelligence. We have reached a degree of intelligence in our dispensation. Will this same degree of intelligence, that now exists throughout the world, continue to exist? Yes; if the world continue to abide in the light that has been shed abroad in the world by the Father of light, with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. But let them deny God, let them deny truth, let them depart from righteousness, let them begin again to wallow in wickedness and transgression of the laws of God, and what will be the result? They will degenerate; they will again recede possibly into absolute barbarism, unless they repent, and the power of God will be again restored to them and they be again lifted up by that light which shines and is never dim, except to men who shut their hearts and eyes and ears against it and will not receive it.

(Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 25. The original talk was a speech given at the funeral service of Rachel Grant, mother of Heber J. Grant in June 1909)

 

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