Multiple Mortal Probations References (MMP) 

“Jesus has been upon the earth a great many more times than you are aware of. When Jesus makes his next appearance upon the earth, but few of this church will be prepared to receive him and see him face to face and converse with him; But he will come to his Temple.” -Brigham Young Discourses of Brigham Young p.114

And I heard a voice from heaven saying blessed are the dead who die in the Lord for from henceforth they do rest from their labors and their works do follow them—They rest from their labors for a long time and yet their work is held in reserve for them, that they are permitted to do the same works after they receive a resurrection for their bodies, but we shall leave this subject of the Terrestrial bodies for another time in order to treat upon them more fully.  (Prophet Joseph Smith, Manuscript of Robert B. Thompson, Discourse October 5, 1840,  Words of Joseph Smith, Ehat, page 42, TPJS, p. 171)

On the Evening of  March 7th [1843] a meeting was held at the house of Elder Kimball, which was crowded.  Heber addressed the assembly, taking for his text, Jeremiah 18:2-5, on the figure of the clay in the hands of the potter.  Joseph was so pleased with the sermon that he deemed it worthy of special notice in his history.  This was the origin of Heber’s famous sermon—“the clay in the hands of the potter,” so familiar to the Saints, and well worthy of remembrance, not only for the masterly way in which it was presented, but for the depth of the doctrine therein contained(Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Bookcraft, (3rd ed.) 1967, p. 331)

Elder Heber C. Kimball preached at the house of President Joseph Smith, on the parable in the 18th chapter of Jeremiah, of the clay in the hands of the potter, that when it marred in the hands of the potter it was cut off the wheel and then thrown back again into the mill, to go into the next batch, and was a vessel of dishonor; but all clay that formed well in the hands of the potter, and was pliable, was a vessel of honor; and thus it was with the human family, and ever will be: all that are pliable in the hands of God and are obedient to His commands, are vessels of honor, and God will receive them. (“Minutes of a Meeting of the Twelve in the House of the Prophet,” Sunday, December 19, 1841, DHC, 4:478)

Joseph also said that the Holy Ghost is now in a state of Probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has.  (“Scriptural Items,” F.  D. Richards, August 27, 1843, The Words of Joseph Smith, Ehat/Cook, pg. 245)

Upon the same principle, supposing I have a lump of clay which I put upon my wheel, out of which clay I want to make a jug; I have to turn it into as many as 50 or 100 shapes before I get it into a jug. How many shapes do you suppose you are put into before you become Saints, or before you become perfect and sanctified to enter into the celestial glory of God? You have got to be like that clay in the hands of the potter. Do you not know that the Lord directed the Prophet anciently, to go down to the potter’s house to see a miracle on the wheel? Suppose the Potter takes a lump of clay, and putting it on the wheel, goes to work to form it into a vessel, and works it out this way, and that way, and the other way, but the clay is refractory and snappish; he still tries it, but it will break, and snap, and snarl, and thus the potter will work it and work it until he is satisfied he cannot bring it into the shape he wants, and it mars upon the wheel; he takes his tool, then, and cuts it off the wheel, and throws it into the mill to be ground over again, until it becomes passive, (don’t you think you will go to hell if you are not passive?) and after it is ground there so many days, and it becomes passive, he takes the same lump, and makes of it a vessel unto honor. Now do you see into that, brethren? I know the potters can. I tell you, brethren, if you are not passive you will have to go into that mill, and perhaps have to grind there one thousand years, and then the Gospel will be offered to you again, and then if you will not accept of it, and become passive, you will have to go into the mill again, and thus you will have offers of salvation from time to time, until all the human family, will, except the sons of perdition, are redeemed. The spirits of men will have the Gospel as we do, and they are to be judged according to men in the flesh. Let us be passive, and take a course that will be perfectly submissive.  (Heber C. Kimball, October 10, 1852, JD 1:160)

If you do not cultivate yourselves and cultivate your spirits in this state of existence, it is just as true as there is a God that liveth, you will have to go into another state of existence, and bring your spirits into subjection there.  Now you may reflect upon it, you never will obtain your resurrected bodies, until you bring your spirits into subjection. I am not talking to this earthly house of mine, neither am I talking to your bodies, but I am speaking to your spirits.  I am not talking as to people who are not in the house.  Are not your spirits in the house?  Are not your bodies your houses, your tabernacles or temples, and places for your spirit? Look at it; reflect upon it.  If you keep your spirits trained according to the wisdom and fear of God, you will attain to the salvation of both body and spirit.  I ask, then, if it is your spirits that must be brought into subjection?  It is; and if you do not do that in these bodies, you will have to go into another estate to do it.  You have got to train yourselves according to the law of God, or you will never obtain your resurrected bodies.  Mark it! You do not think of these things, you only think of today. * * * I will tell you what will be good for us, and it will bestow upon us all the luxuries of this life, of heaven and earth.  You are talking about heaven and about earth, and about hell, &c.; but let me tell you, you are in hell now, and you have got to qualify yourselves here in hell to become subjects for heaven; and even when you have got into heaven, you will find it right here where you are on this earth.  When we escape from this earth, we suppose we are going to heaven?  Do you suppose you are going to the earth that Adam came from? that Eloheim came from? where Jehovah the Lord came from?  No.  When you have learned to become obedient to the Father that dwells upon this earth, to the Father and God of this earth, and obedient to the messengers He sends—when you have done all that, remember you are not going to leave this earth.  You will never leave it until you become qualified, and capable, and capacitated to become a father of an earth yourselves.  Not one soul of you ever will leave this earth, for if you go to hell, it is on this earth; and if you go to heaven, it is on this earth; and you will not find it anywhere else.  Is it not hard to bring these truths home to you.  (Heber C. Kimball, November 14, 1852, JD 1:355-356)

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hands of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.  The clay that marred in the potter’s hands was thrown back into the unprepared portion, to be prepared over again. So it will be with every wicked man and woman, and every wicked nation, kingdom, and government upon earth, sooner or later; they will be thrown back to the native element from which they originated, to be worked over again, and be prepared to enjoy some sort of a kingdom.  (Brigham Young, April 17, 1853, JD 2:121)

If you suffer the opposite of this to take possession of your tabernacles, it will hurt you, and all that is associated with you, and blast, and strike with mildew, until your tabernacle, which was created to continue throughout an endless duration, will be decomposed, and go back to its native elements, to be ground over again like the refractory clay that has spoiled in the hand of the potter, it must be worked over again until it shall become passive, and yield to the potter’s wish. (Brigham Young, December 18, 1853, JD 2:129)

You have got to bow down like the clay in the hands of the potter, that suffers the potter to mould it according to his own pleasure. You have all got to come to this and if you do not come to it at this time, as sure as the sun ever rose and set, you will be cut from the wheel, and thrown back into the mill.

You have come from the mill, and you have been there grinding. For what purpose? To bring you into a passive condition. You have been gathered from the nations of the earth, from among the kindreds, tongues, and peoples of the world, to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, to purify and sanctify yourselves, and become like the passive clay in the hands of the potter. Now suppose I subject myself enough, in the hands of the potter, to be shaped according as he was dictated by the Great Master potter, that rules over all things in heaven and on earth, he would make me into a vessel of honor.

We have not as yet any durable location; we are merely probationers in this present state, and we shall always be so, until we obtain a permanent exaltation, by following in the footsteps of our God.  He is our Father and our God, and His Son Jesus Christ is our Savior, and the Holy Ghost is to be our comforter, and will comfort all those who will prepare their tabernacles as fit temples for him to dwell in.  (Heber C. Kimball, October 5, 1856, JD 4:119)

Brother Dan Jones has been talking to you about the clay in the hands of the potter. If you get hold of a lump of clay that is snappish and willful, and not willing that you should twist it into any shape or form, what is the use of working it? You throw it back into the mill and let it be ground again, and then take it out and make of it a vessel unto honor.

Perhaps some do not really believe that when a man is thrown back into the mill, or goes into the spirit world, that he ever will be redeemed, but he will, if he has not sinned against the Holy Ghost. He will be ground and worked up until he becomes passive, and then God, through His servants, will redeem him, and make him a vessel unto honor.

A great many will go to hell, and the very men that are preaching to you now will visit you and offer you salvation, after you have laid there, perhaps, thousands of years, for you must stay in the mill until you are passive and obedient.

Jeremiah, at the command of God, went to the potter’s house where the potter was molding the clay, and when he went to turn it on the wheel it was refractory and rebellious: and he worked at it and sweat over it, but after all it was rebellious, and fell down on the wheel.

What did he do then? He cut it off from the wheel and threw it back into the mill, and after he had ground it awhile, he took it out and made of it a vessel unto honor; so of the same lump he made a vessel unto dishonor, and one unto honor.  (Heber C. Kimball, October 5, 1856, JD 4:120)

If you look at things spiritually, and then naturally, and see how they appear together, you will understand that when you have the privilege of commencing the work that Adam commenced on this earth, you will have all your children come and report to you of their sayings and acts; and you will hold every son and daughter of yours responsible when you get the privilege of being an Adam on earth(Brigham Young, March 8, 1857, JD 4:265-270)

What I do not to-day, when the sun goes down, I lay down to sleep, which is typical of death; and in the morning I rise and commence my work where I left it yesterday. That course is typical of the probations we take. But suppose that I do not improve my time to-day, I wake up to-morrow and find myself in the rear; and then, if I do not improve upon that day, and again lay down to sleep, on awaking, I find myself still in the rear. This day’s work is typical of this probation, and the sleep of every night is typical of death, and rising in the morning is typical of the resurrection. They are days labours, and it is for us to be faithful to-day, tomorrow, and every day.   (Heber C. Kimball, May 31, 1857, JD 4:329)

I frequently talk about the clay in the hands of the potter.  The Lord said to Jeremiah, “I will show you a thing that I cannot tell you.  Go down to the potter’s house, and I will be there, but you shall not see me; and I will make that potter mar a vessel.”  Jeremiah went down to the potter’s house, and the Lord showed him the very thing he had promised; for the potter undertook to make a vessel, and the clay marred in his hands, and he cut it off the wheel and threw it into the mill; “and now,” says he, “take it out again and shape it into a ball, and turn it into a vessel of honor.”  He did that very thing, though it is not written.  The Scriptures say that out of the same lump he made a vessel first unto dishonour, and then unto  honour.

I used to preach upon that in Nauvoo, and Joseph said it was the true interpretation. Now, Jeremiah was a man like brother Brigham, brother Heber, Amasa, and thousands of the servants of God that were valiant. There are thousands here that have never seen a potter’s house. But if I was in one, I could take a lump of clay and show you; and perhaps, being out of practice, it would mar in my hands: then I would throw it back into the mill and grind it, and afterwards I would take it up again and make a vessel unto honour. And thus the Lord said to Jeremiah, “As you see that clay mar in the hands of the potter, so shall it be with the house of Israel. They shall go and be in prison till I bring them out and make them vessels unto honour.” That is to be done in the latter days, when the Lord is to say to the dry bones, “Come forth,” and so on. Go and read the Bible, and you will learn about it. It will be just so with thousands and tens of thousands who will embrace “Mormonism:” they will go back into the mill again, through disobedience(Heber C. Kimball, September 27, 1857, JD 5:271)

Joseph always told us that we would have to pass by sentinels that are placed between us and our Father and God. Then, of course, we are conducted along from this probation to other probations, or from one dispensation to another, by those who conducted those dispensations.   (Heber C. Kimball, November 22, 1857, JD 6:63)

Jesus has been upon the earth a great many more times than you are aware of. When Jesus makes his next appearance upon the earth, but few of this Church and kingdom will be prepared to receive him and see him face to face and converse with him; but he will come to his temple.  (Brigham Young, May 22, 1859, JD 7:142)

Should not this thought comfort all people? They will, by-and-by, be a thousand times more thankful for such a man as Joseph Smith, junior, than it is possible for them to be for any earthly good whatever. It is his mission to see that all the children of men in this last dispensation are saved, that can be, through the redemption. You will be thankful, every one of you, that Joseph Smith, junior, was ordained to this great calling before the worlds were. I told you that the doctrine of election and reprobation is a true doctrine. It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eye upon him, and upon his father and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was foreordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation, as much so as Pharaoh was fore-ordained to be a wicked man, or as was Jesus to be the Saviour of the world because he was the oldest son in the family. (Brigham Young, October 9, 1859, JD 7:282)

I heard brother Young say that Jesus had a body of flesh and bones, before he came [to earth and] he was born of the Virgin Mary, it was so contrary to every revelation given.  (Orson Pratt, Minutes of meeting on April 5, 1860, BY Papers—There are typed transcriptions of the Twelve’s minutes about Orson Pratt in the Don Moorman papers, currently processed and open to researchers, at Weber State University’s Stewart Library in Ogden, Utah.)

Will any man ever be redeemed upon any other principle than what we are redeemed upon? No. Men must abide the same law, or God Almighty will never redeem them. If they violate that law, they bring damnation upon themselves, and must suffer the consequences of it. Still, I believe the greater part of the inhabitants of the earth will be redeemed; yea, all will be finally redeemed, except those who have sinned against the Holy Ghost or shed innocent blood; and they never can be redeemed until that debt is paid. And I do not know any way for them to pay it, unless they are brought back again to a mortal existence, and pay the debt where they contracted it.  (Heber C. Kimball, November 22, 1867, JD 6:67)

Now the question may be asked, how can these things be?  If no man can enter into the Kingdom of God except he be born of the water and of the  Spirit, and only a few are to receive this eternal condemnation, how can the rest obtain this great salvation, how can they escape eternal punishment?  The Lord has provided a plan for them, and it is very simple when properly understood.  I noticed in reading the reports of recent discussions on probation after death that it was admitted by the learned men engaged in it that they did not know anything definite about it.  The notions and ideas of even the most advanced divines are but theories and speculations.  But here we have the revelations of God concerning these things, that we may not be in the dark; so that we can all come together and see eye to eye and understand alike.  (Apostle Charles W. Penrose, March 4, 1883, JD 24:84)

Thus is the work of our Father made perpetual, and as fast as one  world and its inhabitants are disposed of, He will roll another into existence, He will create another earth, He will people it with His offspring, the offspring of the Gods in eternity, and they will pass through probations such as we are now passing through, that they may prove their integrity by their works; that they may [be] given an assurance to the Almighty that they are worthy to be exalted through obedience to those principles, that unchangeable plan of salvation which has been revealed to us.  (Orson F. Whitney, April 19, 1885. JD 26:199)

I feel grateful, I want to tell you, beyond all my power to express myself of my love for my Heavenly Father, and I do not feel that I am abusing my rights or belittling His high and glorious calling and place of residence when I call Him Father Adam and place Him on such a personal basis and relationship. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for having been born by Him and my Mother in the spirit world or of having the way opened up in being one of those rowdy, runny-nosed sons of Jacob, polygamous kids. (Apostle John W. Taylor, discourse in SL Tabernacle, 1888, Church Archives—See “Notes on Apostle John W. Taylor” at the end of the section on the Manifesto)

3 June 1889: This evening I heard that Pres. Woodruff, in a meeting at Manti, a few days ago, publicly declared that the doctrine of reincarnation, that is one spirit having several bodies, to be false; that he was Wilford Woodruff and no one else, &c &c. Alright, bro. Woodruff, if you really said it, it is between you and the Lord. I believe it to be a true doctrine, & have for the last [word cut out of entry] years.  * * *  8 June 1889:  During our talks he (Lorenzo Snow) told me that his sister, the late Eliza R. Snow Smith was a firm believer in the principle of reincarnation and that she claimed to have received it from Joseph the Prophet, her husband. He said he saw nothing unreasonable in it, and could believe it, if it came to him from the Lord or his oracle. (Diary of Apostle Orson F. Whitney, June 3 & 8, 1889, Church Archives—photocopies of the Orson F. Whitney Diaries may be viewed in  Special Collections, at the Marriott Library, University of Utah)

The righteous of all nations who shall in this dispensation be gathered to that land, will receive their inheritance in common with the meek who formerly sojourned upon the land.  In the resurrection, the meek of all ages and nations will be restored to that portion of the earth previously promised to them.  And thus, all the different portions of the earth have been and will be disposed of to the lawful heirs; while those who cannot prove their heirship to be legal, of who cannot prove that they have received any portion of the earth by promise, will be cast out into some other kingdom or world, where, if they ever get an inheritance, they will have to earn it by keeping the law of meekness during another probation(Orson Pratt, undated, JD 1:332-333)

We also heard him (Joseph) say that God had revealed unto him that any man who ever committed adultery in either of his probations that that man could never be raised to the highest exaltation in the celestial glory and that he (Joseph) felt anxious with regard to himself and he inquired of the Lord and the Lord told him that he, Joseph, had never committed adultery (see D&C 132:41). This saying of the Prophet astonished me very much. It opened up to me a very wide field of reflection. The idea that we had passed through probation prior to this and that we must have been married and given in marriage in those probations or there would be no propriety in making such an assertion and that there were several exaltations in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, the highest we supposed to be the Godhead and we conclude that there are several grades of exaltations in the servants to the Gods. Be this as it may, this is what he said. (The Journal of Joseph Lee Robinson, pg. 12.  Note:  in reference to the use of the indefinite pronoun or adverb “either” in the second line above, in some past English uses of this word, the noun replaced by “either” was often not limited to being only two in the plural.  In other words, often the word “either” could often be more accurately replaced by the adverb “any.” )

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?  (Matt 16:13-15)

And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.  Others said, That it is Elias.  And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. (Mark 6:14-16)

This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent.  I am he.  Receive ye, therefore, my law. * * * But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundred-fold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds. (D&C 132:24, 55)

I reckon that Father Adam was a resurrected being, with his wives and posterity, and in the Celestial Kingdom they were crowned with Glory[,] Immortality and Eternal Lives. . . (Brigham Young, 8 October 1854, TPBY, Vol. 3, 1852-1854)