H.R., G.S.L. City, Jan. 14, 1853.

Prest. P.P. Pratt—Sir:–Can a man attain to a celestial exaltation, simply by an obedience to a written law?

An answer to the above question (proposed solely for information) at your earliest convenience through the columns of the “News,” or any other manner you shall see fit, will be thankfully received, by your friend and brother, in search of truth,

L.E. Harrington


C.C., G.S.L. City, Jan. 14, 1853.

Yes; “Love God with all they heart,” is a written law;–fulfil it, and thou shalt attain to celestial exaltation.

Your brother and friend,
P.P. Pratt.

Mr. L.E. Harrington,

[Query.  Are we to understand the above question and answer in their broad, literal signification; or in some narrow, spiritual meanings?  If spiritually, what is that spiritual meaning? and what would that spiritual meaning be, when translated into the literal meaning of that spirituality?

If literally, what shall we do with the second section of this “written law,” to wit; “and thy neighbor as thyself?”  Is not the last part of this “written law,” as good as the first? and is not he that offendeth in one point, guilty of all?

Or are we to understand that if a man loves God with all his heart, he will be so filled with disinterested benevolence that he will have no love for himself, and consequently, has no love for his neighbor, because the law does not require him to live his neighbor only as he loves himself?

Is “love” alone, “the fulfilling of the law,” or, is it the principle which stimulates the lover to keep all the commandments, so that thereby he may attain the celestial exaltation?  If love is the fulfilling of the law, why are there so many works and ordinances laid down in the law, as necessary for man to practice, “to attain to celestial exaltation?”

If that portion of the written law above quoted is sufficient for man “to attain to celestial exaltation,” what is the use of modern apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, revelations, gifts, and ordinances, living oracles and works, without which, faith would be dead?

We have asked these questions, feeling that the above answer needed a little explanation, to the casual reader, if not to the querist, “in search of truth,” and we have no doubt that when the explanation is made, we shall see eye to eye; and brother Pratt is entitled to as much space in our columns, as we have occupied in querying, if he wishes, to explain.

[Deseret News, Jan. 22, 1853]



Explanations of my reply to Br. Harrington’s question on written law, contained in the last number of the News.

If a man loves God with all his heart he will love his neighbor as himself.

He will receive every messenger which God may send.

He will obey every instruction, and profit by every truth, they may teach.

He will receive every ordinance they are sent to administer, and keep every commandment and trust which can be required of him by any authorized agent of the Almighty.

To fail in any of those points, is to fail to love God with all his heart.

To obey all these things is to obey the written law which commands us to love God with all our hearts.

But the details, the items, of those ordinances and duties are not all written to us, nor is it lawful to utter them to the world, much less to write and publish them.

Hence, in general terms a man will be exalted in obeying a written law.  But in specifications, he needs to obey every word, and ordinance of God, as administered by the Holy Priesthood.  Even things which have been hid for ages and generations; but manifested through the keys of eternal Priesthood in the sanctuaries of our God.

A writing or book cannot save any man.  The keys of the ministration of salvation are not held by books, but by men.

As Ever,
P.P. Pratt

[Deseret News, Feb. 5, 1853]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]

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