Joseph left us a very interesting statement about the Holy Ghost which has always intrigued me. It goes like this: “The Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge…” (TPJS p. 149) There is more to the quote dealing with the effect upon Gentiles.
Mind and Heart
The statement is intriguing because the phrase “no other effect” excludes the role of the heart or feelings in revelation such as we find in D&C 8:2-3: “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation…” This is further expanded in D&C 9:8-9.
Burning of the Bosom
“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right, you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought, that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong…”
Manifest the Truth
I’ve written previously about the burning of the bosom as well as the stupor of thought. There are requirements to receive the power of the Holy Ghost in Moroni 10:4-5. One of the purposes and in fact, the real power of the Holy Ghost is to manifest to us the truth of all things. The requirements to receive this power are outlined as a sincere heart, real intent and faith in Christ.
Sent to Us by God
The Savior added to our understanding of the Holy Ghost and how it is received in John 16:7 – “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” It is interesting to note the Savior had previously said the Father would send the Holy Ghost or Comforter, in the name of the Christ.
Teach Us All Things
John 14:26-27 – “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Fill with Hope and Perfect Love
The Comforter clearly causes us to feel something when we receive it as evidenced by what we read in Moroni 8:26 – “…and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love…” I am fairly certain hope and love are both feelings of the heart. This is obviously much more than pure intelligence.
Makes Alive All Things
Moses 6:61 – “Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things; which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.” The Comforter brings peace and fills with life.
Effects of Pure Intelligence
I think this sampling of scriptures is sufficient to demonstrate the presence of the Holy Ghost within us has additional effects other than upon our mind. This is especially evident because the Savior clearly identified the Holy Ghost as the Comforter, a source of peace and feelings of joy. So why would Joseph Smith make that statement about the Holy Ghost having no other effect?
The Comforter Touches our Heart
I have been pondering Joseph’s statement and wonder if we have taken it too far out of context. I have read posts on various blogs lately downplaying the influence of the Holy Ghost on what we feel in our hearts. That seems so contradictory even to the very name or title the Savior said is a function of the Holy Ghost – to be a comforter as we pass through this lone and dreary world.
Emotion is Not the Holy Ghost
Anybody who has attended a testimony meeting has seen the display of emotions gone amuck. Many who read this post have witnessed obviously contrived or forced “spirituality” by false preachers who expertly use emotion in their ministries. Emotion is not the Holy Ghost, but the Holy Ghost can and does affect our feelings, especially if are very still and focused in prayer.
The Still Small Voice
I’m sure you know the story of Elijah as he hid in the cave, experiencing the great wind, an earthquake, a fire and then the still, small voice. (1 Kings 19:9-13) How often have we been taught the importance of this scripture in hearing the voice of the Lord? I always think of this scripture when I pray. It helps me to focus, to be as still as I can, so I can hear the Lord’s voice.
Focus to Tune Our Spirit
For me, when I sit still and focus, not only do I find it easier to hear the voice of the Lord, I also find it easier to feel the influence of the Comforter. Meditation in and of itself is a good thing, but is a great tool to use to become “in tune” with the divine influence. A great deal of the work of hearing the voice of the Lord is simply learning to be still, meaning to stop earthly thoughts.
Be Still and Know That I Am God
Psalm 46:10 contains some of the best advice I have ever received on hearing the voice of the Lord. To be still, for me, means to both physically control myself, including my breathing as I pray, but also to control my thoughts, and, although I can’t explain it, to control my spirit. If I make a focused, concentrated effort, I can literally feel my spirit vibrate in tune with God.
Led By the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost helps me do this. He invites me, instructs me and leads me through the process of prayer. He encourages me to make the effort. He comforts me when the world would tear me from the peace of silent, secret prayer. This is obviously different from the kind of prayer where we cry mightily unto the Lord in an effort to obtain a much needed blessing from His hand.
It Causes My Heart to Burn
Revisit that statement of Joseph about pure intelligence. Couple it with the concept that we must be still in order to hear the voice of the Lord. What do you feel? You can do it right now. Focus, clear your mind of every worldly thought and strive to put your spirit in tune with the infinite. For me, it causes my heart to burn within me. The Comforter has come. He helps me to pray.
Enwrapped in the Heavenly Element
I feel at peace. I am not emotionally overwrought. I am calm. I can focus. I have all the time in the world. I ask questions. I listen. I wait for impressions. I feel answers. I hear the voice of the Lord. I learn to trust what I feel. This is pure intelligence. It invigorates me. It emboldens me. The cares of this world slip away for a few moments. I am enwrapped in the heavenly element.
Feelings of Peace and Comfort
I think I get it now. There are feelings involved in the receipt of pure intelligence. They are strong and powerful, but they invoke reverence, peace, calmness and serenity. They are not thrilling or exciting in that they don’t fill me with adrenaline. This focused state can cause me to weep because of the warm feelings of love and comfort that always accompanies the Holy Ghost.
Expand, Enlighten and Enliven
What do you think? Are there feelings associated with the receipt of the Holy Ghost, or is it nothing more than a mental exercise? Have we perhaps misunderstood the words of Joseph when he said the Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence? Perhaps our understanding of pure intelligence needs to be expanded. The Holy Ghost enlightens and enlivens with truth.