Editor’s Note: This talk by John Taylor is part of our Forgotten Talks series. As we search for the sources of the quotes we use in our newsletter and on our website, we often stumble across popular quotes that are difficult to locate the source of. When this is the case, we will spend the necessary time to uncover the source, if possible. We have discovered that many of these quotes are locked away in talks that haven’t been digitized or are behind a paywall. We make the effort to secure the talk and share it on our website under public domain.
It should be noted that the following information is derived from a PDF file found on my computer. I conducted a quick online search to verify the document’s accuracy but was unable to locate a copy of the original source. Nevertheless, based on the information I did come across, it appears to be genuine. The PDF also contained supplementary commentary whose authorship remains unknown to me, but I retained it due to some of the insights it provides.
Commonly Used Quote: “Knowest thou not that thou art a spark of Deity, struck from the fire of His eternal blaze, and brought forth in the midst of eternal burning?”
Source: “Origin and Destiny of Woman” (The Mormon, John Taylor, August 29, 1857, New York City)
Talk Summary: This editorial was originally written by John Taylor and was published in The Mormon newspaper on August 29, 1857. His article reacts to the following questions posed by a female member of the church: “Where did I come from? What is my origin? What am I doing here? Whither am I going? and What is my destiny, after having obeyed the truth, if faithful to the end?”
In response to her inquiries, Taylor illuminated on the doctrine of the pre-mortal existence of spirits and eternal marriage. He explained that before coming to earth, we existed as spirits in the presence of God the Father and made covenants to come to earth, obtain bodies, and be guided by guardian angels. We also chose a spouse from our pre-mortal life. The goal upon earth was to obey divine truth, strive for exaltation, and ultimately return to God, where we will receive crowns, thrones, and eternal life.
Origin, Object, and Destiny of Women
by John Taylor
An editorial published in The Mormon, New York, New York, August 29, 1857
THE “Latter Day Saints” have often been ridiculed on account of their belief in the pre-existence of spirits, and in marrying for time and for all eternity, both being Bible doctrines. We have often been requested to give our views in relation to these principles, but considering the things of the Kingdom belonged to the children of the Kingdom, therefore not meet to give them to those without. But being very politely requested by a lady a few days since, (a member of the church) to answer the following questions, we could not consistently refuse;-viz., “Where did I come from? What is my origin? What am I doing here? Whither am I going? and What is my destiny, after having obeyed the truth, if faithful to the end?”
For her benefit, and all others concerned, we will endeavor to answer the questions in brief, as we understand them. The reason will be apparent for our belief in the pre-existence of spirits, and in marrying for time and for all eternity.
Lady-whence comest thou? Thine origin? What art thou doing here? Whither art thou going, and what is thy destiny? Declare unto me if thou hast understanding? Knowest thou not, that thou art a spark of Deity, struck from the fire of his eternal blaze, and brought forth in the midst of eternal burning?
Knowest thou not that eternities ago, thy spirit, pure and holy, dwelt in thy Heavenly Father’s bosom, and in his presence, and with thy mother, one of the Queens of heaven, surrounded by thy brother and sister spirts in the spirit world, among the Gods. That as thy spirit beheld the scenes transpiring there, and thou growing in intelligence, thou sawest worlds upon worlds organized and peopled with thy kindred spirits, took upon them tabernacles, died, were resurrected, and received their exaltation on the redeemed worlds they once dwelt upon. Thou being willing and anxious to imitate them, waiting and desirous to obtain a body, a resurrection and exaltation also, and having obtained permission, thou made a covenant with one of thy kindred spirits to be thy guardian angel while in mortality, also with two others, male and female spirits, that thou wouldst come and take a tabernacle through their lineage, and become one of their offspring. You also choose a kindred spirit whom you loved in the spirit world, (and had permission to come to this planet and take a tabernacle) to be your head, stay, husband, and protector on the earth, and to exalt you in the eternal worlds. All these were arranged, likewise the spirits that should tabernacle through your lineage. Thou longed, thou sighed, and thou prayed to thy Father in heaven for the time to arrive when thou couldst come to this earth, which had fled and fell from where it was first organized, near the planet Kolob. Leave thy father and mother’s bosoms, and all thy kindred spirits, come to earth, take a tabernacle, and imitate the deeds of, those you had seen exalted before you.
At length the time arrived, and thou heard the voice of thy Father, saying, “go daughter to yonder lower world, and take upon thee a tabernacle, and work out thy probation with fear and trembling, and rise to exaltation. But daughter, remember you go on this condition, that is, You are to forget all things you ever saw, or knew to be transacted in the spirit world; you are not to know or remember anything concerning the same that you have beheld transpire here; but you must go and become one of the most helpless of all beings that 1 have created, while in your infancy; subject to sickness, pain, tears, mourning, sorrow and death. But when truth shall touch the cords of your heart they shall vibrate; then intelligence shall illuminate your mind, and shed its luster in your soul, and you shall begin to understand the things you once knew, but which had gone from you; you shall then begin to understand and know the object of your creation. Daughter, go, and be faithful in your second estate, keep it as faithful as thou hast thy first estate.
Thy spirit filled with joy and thanksgiving rejoiced in thy Father, and rendered praise to his holy name, and the spirit world resounded in anthems of praise and rejoicing to the Father of Spirits. Thou bade father, mother, and all, farewell, and along with thy guardian angel, thou came on this terraqueous globe. The spirits thou had chosen to come and tabernacle through their lineage, and your Head having left the spirit world some years previous.) Thou came a spirit pure and holy, thou hast taken upon thee a tabernacle, thou hast obeyed the truth, and thy guardian angel ministers unto thee and watches over thee; Thou hast chosen him you loved in the spirit world to be thy companion. Now, crowns, thrones, exaltations and dominions are in reserve for thee in the eternal worlds, and the way is opened for thee to return back into the presence of thy Heavenly Father, if thou will only abide by and walk in a celestial law, fulfil the designs of thy creation, and hold out to the end. That when mortality is laid in the tomb, you may go down to your grave in peace, arise in glory, and receive your everlasting reward in the resurrection of the just, along with thy head and husband. Thou will be permitted to pass by the Gods and angels who guard the gates, and onward, upward to thy exaltation in a celestial world among the Gods. To be a Priestess Queen unto thy Heavenly Father and a glory to thy husband and offspring, to bear the souls of men, to people other worlds, (as thou didst bear their tabernacles in mortality,) while eternity goes and eternity comes; and if you will receive it, lady, this is eternal life. And herein’ is the saying of the apostle Paul fulfilled, “that the man is not without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord.” “That man is the head of the woman, and the glory of the man is the woman.” Hence, thine origin, the object of thy creation, and thy ultimate destiny, if faithful. Lady, the cup is within thy reach, drink, then the heavenly draught, and live.
– John Taylor, editor, The Mormon N.Y. August 29, 1857
IMPORTANT NOTE: The below commentary was not part of John Taylor’s article.
Later, President Taylor used the same phrase, “struck from the fire of his eternal blaze” with reference to the men in the church.
John Taylor, Teachings of Presidents of the Church, John Taylor [Melchesidek Priesthood Manuel, 2003] (Salt Lake City, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2001), p. 211- 212. [Quoted from G. Homer Durham, Gospel Kingdom (1941) p. 1-3.]
Standing upon its broad platform, encircled by the mantle of truth, the man of God, by faith, peers into the future, withdraws the curtains of eternity unveils the mystery of the heavens, and through the dark vista of unnumbered years, beholds the purposes of the great Elohim, as they roll forth in all their majesty and power and glory. Thus standing upon a narrow neck of space, and beholding the past, present, and the future, he sees himself an eternal being claiming an affinity with God, a son of God, a spark of Deity struck from the fire of his eternal blaze. He looks upon the world and man, in all their various phases, knows his true interests, and with intelligence imparted by his Father Celestial, he comprehends their origin and destiny.
His intelligence, lit up by God and followed out, will be expansive as the world and spread through space; his law is the law of love; his rule, the rule of right to all. He loves his neighbor, and he does him good; he loves his God and therefore worships him; he sees the power of truth, which, like the light of God, spreads through all space, illuminates all worlds, and penetrates where men or angels, God or spheres are known; he clings to it. Truth is his helmet, buckler, shield, his rock, defense; his all in time and in eternity. Men call him a fool because he cannot be directed by their folly, nor follow in their erratic, truculent wake. But while they are grasping at shadows, he lays hold of the substance. While they are content with a rickety sprawling religion, fashionable for a time, but having nothing to do with eternity and smother the highest, noblest principles of man, he dare acknowledge God; and acknowledging him, he dare obey him and confess that faith which God has given to him. He grasps at all truths, human and divine. He has no darling dogma to sustain or favorite creed to uphold. He has nothing to lose but error, and nothing to gain but truth. He digs, labors, and searches for it as for hidden treasure; and while others are content with chaff and husks of straw, he seizes on the kernel, substance, the gist of all that’s good, and clings to all that will ennoble and exalt the human family. Other statements
About John Taylor’s editorials, Brigham Young said:
“With regard to the labours of brother Taylor in editing the paper called The Mormon, published in the city of New York, I have heard many remarks concerning the editorials in that paper, not only from Saints, but from those who do not profess to believe the religion we have embraced; and it is probably one of the strongest edited papers that is now published. I can say, as to its editorials, that it is one of the strongest papers ever published, so far as my information extends; and I have never read one sentence in them but what my heart could bid success to it and beat a happy response to every sentence that I have read or heard read. Brother Taylor, that is for you; and I believe that these are the feelings and the sentiments of all in this community who have perused that paper.
(Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886], 5: 123 – 124.)
That statement is also quoted in:
B. H. Roberts, Life of John Taylor Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons, 1892], 271.