The Holy Spirit dwells not in tabernacles unfit and unworthy. Paul makes the sublime declaration that man may become the temple of God, with the Spirit of God dwelling within him; and the apostle specifies the penalty prescribed for defiling a structure sanctified by so holy a presence. Faith in God leads to repentance of sin; this is followed by baptism in water for the remission of sins, and this in turn by the bestowal of the Holy Spirit, or the right and title to the personal association and inspiring ministration of the Holy Ghost, through whose power come sanctification and the specific gifts of God.
An Exception to this Sequence is shown in the case of the devout Gentile, Cornelius, unto whom, together with his family, came the Holy Ghost, with such power that they spake with new tongues to the glorification of God, and this before their baptism. But sufficient reason for this departure from the usual order is seen in the prejudice that existed among the Jews toward other nations, which, but for the Lord’s direct instructions to Peter, would have hindered the apostle from ministering unto the Gentiles. As it was, his act was condemned by his own people; but he answered their criticisms with a recital of the lesson given him of God, and the undeniable evidence of the divine will as shown in the reception of the Holy Ghost by Cornelius and his family before baptism.
In another sense the Holy Ghost has frequently operated for good through persons that were unbaptized; indeed, some measure of His power is given to all mankind; for, as seen already, the Holy Spirit is the medium of intelligence, of wise direction, of development, of life. Manifestation of the power of God, as made plain through the operations of the Spirit, are seen in the triumphs of ennobling art, the discoveries of science, and the events of history; with all of which the carnal mind may believe that God takes no direct concern. Not a truth has ever been made the property of humankind except through the power of that great Spirit who exists to do the bidding of the Father and the Son. And yet the actual companionship of the Holy Ghost, the divinely-bestowed right to His ministrations, the sanctifying baptism with fire, are given as a permanent and personal possession only to the faithful, repentant, baptized candidate for salvation; and with all such this gift shall abide unless it be forfeited through transgression.
The Bestowal of the Holy Ghost, which is to be regarded as a conferred right to His ministrations, is effected through the ordinance of an oral blessing pronounced upon the candidate by the specified authority of the Holy Priesthood, accompanied by the imposition of the hands of him or those officiating. That this was the mode followed by the apostles of old is evident from the Jewish scriptures; that it was practised by the early Christian Fathers is shown by history; that it was the acknowledged method among the Nephites is plainly attested by Book of Mormon record; and for the same practise in the present dispensation authority has come direct from heaven.
Among the instances recorded in the New Testament we may mention the following. Peter and John conferred the Holy Ghost upon Philip’s converts at Samaria, and the ordinance was performed by prayer and the laying on of hands. Paul ministered in the same manner to the Ephesians whom he had caused to be baptized; and when he “had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” Paul also refers to this ordinance in his admonition to Timothy not to neglect the gift of God so bestowed. Furthermore we learn from the epistle to the Hebrews that the cardinal principles and ordinances of the Church of Christ include the laying on of hands as following baptism.
Alma so invoked the power of the Holy Ghost in behalf of his colaborers: “He clapped his hands upon all them who were with him. And behold, as he clapped his hands upon them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.” The Savior gave authority to the twelve Nephite disciples, by touching them one by one; they were thus commissioned to bestow the Holy Ghost.
In the current dispensation it has been made a duty of the Priesthood “to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.” The Lord has promised that the Holy Ghost shall follow these authoritative acts of His servants. The ordinance of laying on of hands for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost is associated with that of confirmation into the Church. The officiating elder, acting in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ, says: “Receive the Holy Ghost;” and “I confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Even these words are not prescribed, but their meaning should be expressed; and to such may be added other words of blessing and invocation as the Spirit of the Lord may dictate to the officiating elder.
The authority to so bestow the Holy Ghost belongs to the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood, whereas water-baptism may be administered by a priest officiating in the ordinances of the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood. This order of authority, as made known through revelation, explains that while Philip had authority to administer the ordinance of baptism to the converted Samaritans, others who held the higher Priesthood had to be sent to confer upon them the Holy Ghost.
Gifts of the Spirit-As already pointed out, the special office of the Holy Ghost is to enlighten and ennoble the mind, to purify and sanctify the soul, to incite to good works, and to reveal the things of God. But, beside these general blessings, there are certain specific endowments promised in connection with the gifts of the Holy Ghost. The Savior said: “These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
These gifts of the Spirit are distributed in the wisdom of God for the salvation of His children. Paul thus discourses upon them: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. * * * Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. * * * But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kind of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”