A Vision of the Resurrection
By Elder Robert M. Elvin
It was on a beautiful Lord’s Day in the fall of 1890, to the best of my remembrance. It was at the time that the Saints worshiped in the lower auditorium of the Brick Church at Lamoni. There was at that time but one door—the east door to that part of the church; the pulpit was at the north part of the room, about the center from east to west, and faced the south. At the close of the morning service, the presiding elder, Asa S. Cochran [father of Mrs. Elbert A. Smith], came to me, and as we clasped hands said,”Well! will you try...?" He did not finish the sentence and together we walked out of the building.
There were no regular Sunday trains, but an extra from Grant City had run in a few minutes before the close of the morning meeting, and a traveling man, Elder John A. Robinson of Independence, Missouri, came in on the extra, and reached the church about the time that Brother Cochran and I came out.
In the evening Brother Cochran came to my home, and with that ever-pleasant greeting and never-absent smile announced, “Well, Robert! I have come to finish what I started to say at the church at noon. I had concluded to ask you to preach for us this evening; and why I do not know, [I] was restrained from completing the request. As you are aware, Brother Robinson is here, and I have asked him to occupy, but he gave me no satisfaction. And if he will not preach for us, will you try?”
There was no time for any special preparation for the occasion, and I went to meeting hopeful that the eccentric Brother Robinson would pull the gospel oar that evening. On entering the meeting-room, I searched the large audience with an anxious, inquisitive eye, but there was no Brother Robinson to be seen. At the appointed time the service was opened in the usual manner. During the singing of the second hymn, the expected one arrived—but instead of coming forward to the stand, he immediately upon entering sat down near the door. The [branch] president did not perceive his entrance, and as the last notes of the song sweetly faded away, turned and motioned me to the stand, announcing, “Brother Elvin will preach for us.”
No topic had suggested itself to me, and my mind seemed an empty blank. As I entered the stand and opened the Bible, my eye fell upon these words: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:7–9).
As I stood and read these beautiful, comforting, and soul-cheering words, there came into my being peace and light; the Holy Spirit was richly bestowed, guiding the tongue in telling of the wise provisions God has made for all his children. With a perfect knowledge of where I was, and what I was doing, I explained as I received the following open vision:
The audience, and the south wall of the building faded from my sight, and there came into view a most beautiful plateau, stretching away to the east, west, and south for miles upon miles. As this developed and came out of darkness into mellow light, there appeared upon the plain thousands upon thousands—and hundreds of thousands of people, and the Spirit said: “This is the Resurrection!” And as that mighty host came on toward the church, I saw many who had passed away, whom I had known in their lifetime. And to my astonishment I saw many of the audience who sat before me in that vast throng. Especially was my attention fixed upon “Father James Whitehead,” as he was familiarly known to his many friends. This old man had been a cripple from his infancy, but as he approached with the resurrected multitude, I saw a man in perfect form and limb—and although his hair was as white as snow, the wrinkles of old age had departed and his face had the fresh and youthful appearance of a child.
As I repeated that which I beheld, the voice of the Spirit was: “The ills and defects of mortal life are cured and corrected in the Resurrection.”
At this, the vision passed away and the congregation, (the church) with all of its appointments, returned to their normal condition. Brother Whitehead and others were in tears.
In my ecstasy of delight, I could not forebear to cry aloud, “Hallelujah! Glory to God in the highest!” And to this day, when I recall that baptism of light, my soul fills with thanksgiving and gladness to our heavenly Father for His loving kindness in the Gospel Restored. (Vision 19: 3, 30; Autumn Leaves 19:433–35)