The Reality of Evil Spirits

On Sunday, 4 June 1837, the Prophet approached Heber C. Kimball in the temple and whispered to him, “Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: ‘Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.’” Heber was overwhelmed by his call to England because he lacked education and refinement. He prayed almost daily in an upper room of the temple for protection and power that he might fulfill an honorable mission. His family was near poverty, yet he was determined to serve. He said, “I felt that the cause of truth, the Gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.” 18

On the morning of 30 July, the day the first baptisms were to be performed, the missionaries were attacked by Satan and his hosts. Elder Russell came to Elder Kimball, seeking relief from the torment of evil spirits. As Elders Hyde and Kimball laid their hands on him to bless him, Elder Kimball was knocked senseless to the floor by an invisible power. As he regained consciousness, he saw his brethren praying for him.

“[Heber wrote:] ‘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. . . . 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.’ . . .

“Years later, narrating the experience of that awful morning to the Prophet Joseph, Heber asked him . . . 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.’

“. . . ‘The nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes.’” 21

21. In Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp. 130–31.

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