Heber C. Kimball Overcomes the Power of the Adversary
Preston, England, July 1837 (as related by Heber C. Kimball)
Sunday, July 30th (1837), 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 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 rebuked 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. Elder 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 those spirits talk and express their wrath and hellish designs against us. However, the Lord delivered us from them, and blessed us exceedingly that day."
Elder Hyde's supplemental description of that fearful scene is as follows, taken from a letter addressed to President Kimball:
"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."
Years later, narrating the experience of that awful morning to the Prophet Joseph, Heber asked him what it all meant, and whether there was anything wrong with him that he should have such a manifestation.
"No, Brother Heber," he replied, "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."
Joseph then related some of his own experience, in many contests he had had with the evil one, and said: "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." * * *
So was it with the Apostles and Elders in Preston, after their terrible encounter with the powers of evil, at Sunday day-break, July 30, 1837. The Spirit of the Lord, with peace and joy that "passeth understanding," dawned with the Sabbath sun upon their souls. They had tasted of the bitter, and would thenceforth more fully know the sweet; encompassed about by "the horror of darkness," they hailed with ecstacy till then unknown, the glory of the golden morn. (Life of Heber C. Kimball, Orson F. Whitney, pp. 129-132)
The above is taken from Ogden Kraut's Stories of Faith.
Heber recalled years later:
"I saw their hands, their eyes, and every feature of their faces, the hair on their heads, and their ears, in short they had full-formed bodies....I wrote a few words to my wife about the matter, and brother Joseph called upon her for the letter and said, 'It was a choice jewel, and a testimony that the Gospel was planted in a strange land.' When I returned home I called upon brother Joseph, and we walked down the bank of the river. He there told me what contests he had had with the devil; he told me that he had contests with the devil, face to face. He also told me how he was handled and afflicted by the devil, and said, he had known circumstances where Elder Rigdon was pulled out of bed three times in one night." (JD 3:31 pp. 229-230)
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. (Joseph Smith, History 1:15-16)
"I will relate one circumstance that took place in Far West in a house which Joseph had purchased which had been formerly occupied as a public house by some wicked people A short time after he had moved into it one of the children was taken very sick. He laid his hands upon child when it got better. As soon as he went outside the child was sick again He again laid his upon it so that it again recovered. This transpired several times Joseph inquired of the Lord what all meant when he had an vision and saw the devil in person who contended with Joseph face face for some time. He said it his house it belonged to him Joseph had no right there. Joseph rebuked Satan in the name the Lord and he departed and troubled the child no more." (Heber C. Kimball, The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, Volume 45, p. 131)
"One night I was awakened out my sleep by my wife making a as though she was nearly choking death. I inquired the cause and replied that she had dreamed that personage came and seized her by the throat and was choking her. I immediately lit a candle and saw her eyes were sunken and her nose pinched in as though she was in last stage of the cholera. I laid hands upon her and rebuked the evil in the name of Jesus and by power of the Holy Priesthood commanded it to depart. In a moment afterwards I heard some half a children in different parts of Bozier house crying as if in great distress. The cattle also began to bellow the horses neighed the dogs barked the hogs squealed the cackled and roosters crowed everything around seemed in commotion. In a few minutes afterwards I was sent for to lay upon sister Patten the widow to David W. Patten who was living the room adjoining mine and was seized in a similar manner to wife. My wife continued quite feeble several days from the shock." (Heber C. Kimball, The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, Volume 45, p. 131)
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled by letter, except ye receive it from us; neither by spirit, nor by word, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
"Let no man deceive you by any means; for there shall come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
"Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work, and he it is who now worketh, and Christ suffereth him to work, until the time in fulfilled that he shall be taken out of the way.
"And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. Yea, the Lord, even Jesus, whose coming is not until after there cometh a falling away, by the working of Satan with all power, and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
"And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
"But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
"Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work." (2 Thessalonians 2, Inspired Version)
Hugh Nibley on the Devil
"There is a precedent for the bit of faking—a most distinguished one. Satan, being neither stupid nor inexperienced, knows the value of a pleasing appearance--there are times when it pays to appear even as an angel of light. He goes farther than that, however, to assure that success of his masquerade (given out since the days of Adam) as a picturesquely repulsive figure--a four-star horror with claws, horns, or other obvious trimmings. With that idea firmly established, he can operate with devastating effectiveness as a very proper gentleman, a handsome and persuasive salesman. He "decoys" our minds (a favorite word with Brigham Young) with false words and appearances. A favorite trick is to put the whole blame on sex. Sex can be a pernicious appetite, but it runs a poor second to the other. For example: We are wont to think of Sodom as the original sexpot, but according to all accounts "this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom": that great wealth made her people cruel and self-righteous. The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism. Long hair, beards, necklaces, LSD and rock, Big Sur and Woodstock come and go, but Babylon is always there: rich, respectable, immovable..." (Hugh W. Nibley, “Setting the Stage – The World of Abraham, (Part 9, continued),” Improvement Era (November 1969): 118, citing references)