Temple President Merrill encounters the Devil, who threatens to stop the temple work from being done
Logan Temple President Marriner W. Merrill was sitting in his office one morning in the early 1890’s when he heard a commotion outside. Stepping to the window, he saw a great congregation of people coming up the temple hill, some on foot, and others on horseback and in carriages. President Merrill’s first thought was, “What will we do with so many people? If we fill every room in the temple, it will not begin to hold them all.”
The riders tied their horses up at the hitching posts or turned them loose on the temple corrals, and walked complacently about the front grounds, without seeming to have much purpose in mind. They were rather an odd looking group, and were dressed quite shabbily.
They made no effort to enter the temple, so President Merrill went out to greet them and see what he could do for the group. He said to their leader: “Who are you, and who are these people who have taken possession of the temple grounds unannounced?”
He answered: “I am Satan, and these are my people.” Brother Merrill asked: “What do you want, and why have you come here?” Satan replied: “I don’t like what is being done in the Logan Temple and have come to stop it.” That was a bit of a shock to President Merrill, and he answered: “No, we will not stop it. This is the work of the Lord and must go on. You know that you or anyone else cannot stop the work of the Lord.”
“If you refuse to stop it, I will tell you what I propose to do,” the adversary said. “I will scatter this congregation of people throughout these valleys, and we will keep people from coming to the temple. We will whisper in their ears and discourage them from attending the temple. This will stop your temple work.”
President Merrill then used the power of his priesthood and commanded Satan and his followers to depart from holy ground. He said that within four or five minutes there was not a person, horse or buggy in sight. They just disappeared into thin air and were gone.
Then for the next ten or twelve years we could have closed the Logan Temple, for very little work was accomplished. In one full year, the number of endowments done totaled only 5,121, while in our day we have done, 3,064 in one day. Where all ordinances for the year equaled but 20,110, today we have done 15,456 in one day, and a total of 1,808,265 for the full year.
Christian L. Olsen lived only a half mile from the temple, and he said any time he said out loud that he was going to the temple, something happened to keep him away. One evening he said to the boys: “Tomorrow we will finish grinding out molasses, and then I’d like to spend a week in the temple.” The mill was operating perfectly that evening, but the next morning the main wheel was broken. The more they repaired the machine, the more things broke and went wrong with it. He finally spent the full week making repairs so the only day’s grind of molasses could be completed. He did not get to spend the week in the temple.
Another time when he planned a day in the temple, he got up to milk his cows and the corral gate was open. He spent the day hunting the cows in the west fields. Still another time, the corral gate was open again and the horses were gone. It took two days to find them in Logan Canyon. He said: “Anytime I wanted to go to the temple, I soon learned that I could not say it out loud. I got up, milked my cows, set the bucket down and ran. And then I could get there without any trouble.”
Eight girls left Garland in a white top buggy one morning at 4am, to do baptisms in the temple. Just as they arrived on the west mountain where they could see the temple, a wheel came off the buggy. Before they reached Logan, they had had trouble with all four wheels, a hame strap had broken, the yoke came apart, and there was one delay after another every few minutes. They finally reached Logan at 5pm, after the baptisms were done and the font had been emptied. Some of the men were still there, the font was refilled, and the girls were baptized. They said that Satan followed them all the way to Logan that day.
The evil one’s power and influence are real. He knows the value of temple work and would do anything in his power to keep people away. But he failed to recognize the faithfulness and devotion of the Saints in this area, for they were not easily discouraged.
Nolan Olsen, Logan Temple: The First 100 Years. See also: N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High, 99.