Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith
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In , Church leaders emphasized the importance of marriage and family in an official declaration entitled, The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The Church teaches and follows the Savior's law of strict morality. The Church teaches honesty, integrity, obedience to law, chastity outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage. It opposes abortion, pornography, gambling, and other evils.
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The Church interprets the misuse and abuse of all drugs--illegal, legal, prescription, or controlled--as a violation of the Word of Wisdom. The Church and its faithful members embrace the biblical principle of tithing, which is contributing one-tenth of one's income. Faithful members also fast for two meals one day a month and donate the money they would have spent on those meals, or more, to a fund to help the needy. The generous offerings of the members enable the Church to finance the construction, education, welfare, missionary, curriculum, humanitarian, and other programs that benefit members and others.
The Church teaches that the responsibility for one's spiritual and temporal well-being rests upon the individual first, then the family, and finally the Church. Church members are commanded by the Lord to be self-reliant and independent to the extent of their ability. The Church accepts the charge the Savior gives in Matthew to "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations" and share the blessings of the gospel. Consequently, the Church has some 60, full-time missionaries serving throughout the world.
Most are college-age men and women, but many are retired couples. All have accepted a call from Church leaders and contribute to their own support for a year and a half to two years. Prophets have taught that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" Mosiah Millions of faithful members of the Church serve in a wide variety of unpaid "callings," or assignments, in local units, missions, temples, family history research centers, and other Church programs. Sir:—I proceed to answer your questions, concerning the consecration of property: 20 —First, it is not right to condescend to very great particulars in taking inventories.
The fact is this,. The fact is, there must be a balance or equilibrium of power, between the Bishop and the people; and thus harmony and good-will may be preserved among you. Therefore, those persons consecrating property to the Bishop in Zion, and then receiving an inheritance back, must reasonably show to the Bishop that they need as much as they claim. But in case the two parties cannot come to a mutual agreement, the Bishop is to have nothing to do about receiving such consecrations; and the case must be laid before a council of twelve High Priests, 11 the Bishop not being one of the council, but he is to lay the case before them.
We were not a little surprised to hear that some of our letters of a public nature, which we sent for the good of Zion, have been kept back from the Bishops. This is conduct which we highly disapprobate. First, in relation to the poor: When the Bishops are appointed according to our recommendation, it will devolve upon them to see to the poor, 12 according to the laws of the Church.
Say to the brothers Hulet and to all others, that the Lord never authorized them to say that the devil, his angels, or the sons of perdition, 1 should ever be restored; for their state of destiny was not revealed to man, is not revealed, nor ever shall be revealed, save to those who are made partakers thereof: 2 consequently those who teach this doctrine have not received it of the Spirit of the Lord.
We sanction the decision of the Bishop and his council, in relation to this doctrine being a bar to communion. We conclude our letter by the usual salutation, in token of the new and everlasting covenant. Phelps is conducting the Star at present, we hope he will seek to render it more and more interesting.
In relation to the size of Bishoprics: When Zion is once properly regulated there will be a Bishop to each square of the size 6 of the one we send you with this; but at present it must be done according to wisdom. When we direct letters to Zion to any of the High Priests, which pertain to the regulation of her affairs, we always design that they should be laid before the Bishop, 13 so as to enable him to perform his duty. We are engaged in writing a letter to Eugene [branch] respecting the two Smiths, as we have received two letters from them; one from John Smith, the other from the Elder of the Church [Eden Smith].
As to the gift of tongues, 4 all we can say is, that in this place we have received it as the ancients did: we wish you, however, to be careful, lest in this you be deceived. May the Lord give you wisdom 8 in all things. In a letter mailed last week, you will doubtless, before you receive this, have obtained information about the New Translation.
Consign the box of the Book of Commandments to N. We conclude by giving our heartiest approbation to every measure calculated for the spread of the truth, in these last days; and our strongest desires, and sincerest prayers for the prosperity of Zion. Say to all the brethren and sisters in Zion, that they have our hearts, our best wishes, and the strongest desires of our spirits for their welfare, 9 temporal, spiritual, and.
As ever, we salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus. September 4. Dear Sister:—Having a few leisure moments, I sit down to communicate to you a few words, which I know I am under obligation to improve for your satisfaction, if it should be a satisfaction for you to receive a few words from your unworthy brother in Christ.
Therefore she should not be forgotten of thee, for the Lord hath done this, 3 and thou shouldst remember her in all thy prayers and also by letter, for she oftentimes calleth on the Lord, saying, O Lord, inspire thy servant Joseph to communicate by letter some word to thine unworthy handmaiden, and say all my sins are forgiven, 4 and art thou not content with the chastisement where-with thou hast chastised thy handmaiden? I was aware when you left Kirtland that the Lord would chasten 5 you, but I prayed fervently 6 in the name of Jesus that you might live to receive your inheritance, agreeable to the commandment which was given concerning you.
But alas, it is in vain to warn and give precepts, for all men are naturally disposed to walk in their own paths 8 as they are pointed out by their own fingers, and are not. Nevertheless I do not feel disposed to cast any reflections, but I feel to cry mightily 3 unto the Lord that all things which have happened may work together for good; 4 yea, I feel to say, O Lord, let Zion be comforted, 5 let her waste places be built up 6 and established an hundred fold; 7 let Thy Saints come unto Zion 8 out of every nation; 9 let her be exalted to the third heavens, 10 and let Thy judgment be sent forth unto victory; 11 and after this great tribulation, 12 let Thy blessing fall upon Thy people, 13 and let Thy handmaid 14 live till her soul shall be satisfied 15 in beholding the glory of Zion; 16 for notwithstanding her present affliction, 17 she shall yet arise and put on her beautiful garments, 18 and be the joy and glory of the whole earth.
Brother David W. Patten has just returned from his tour to the east, and gives us great satisfaction as to his ministry. He has raised up a church of about eighty-three members in that part of the country where his friends live—in the state of New York. Many were healed through his instrumentality, several cripples were restored. November Nickerson, Mount Pleasant, Upper Canada:. Brother Moses:—We arrived at this place on the fourth ultimo, after a fatiguing journey, during which we were blessed. We parted with Father and Mother Nickerson at Buffalo, in good health, and they expressed a degree of satisfaction for the prosperity and blessings of their journey.
Since our arrival here, Brother Sidney has been afflicted with sore eyes, which is probably the reason why you have not previously heard from us, as he was calculating to write you immediately. But though I expect he will undoubtedly write you soon, as his eyes are evidently better, yet, lest you should be impatient to learn something concerning us, I have thought that perhaps a few lines from me, though there may be a lack of fluency according to the literati of the age, might be received with a degree of satisfaction on your part, at least, when you call to mind the near relation with which we are united by the everlasting ties of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We found our families and the Church in this place well, generally. Nothing of consequence happened while we were absent, except the death of one of our brethren—David Johnson—a young man of great worth as a private citizen among us, the loss of whom we justly mourn. We are favored with frequent intelligence from different sections of our country, respecting the progress of the Gospel, and our prayers are daily 2 to our Father, that it may greatly spread, even till all nations shall hear 3 the glorious news and come to a knowledge of the truth. We have received letters from our brethren in Missouri of late, but we cannot tell, from their contents, the probable extent to which those persons who are desirous to expel them from that country will carry their unlawful and unrighteous purposes.
Our brethren have applied to the executive of the state, who has promised them all the assistance that the civil law can give; and in all probability a suit has been commenced ere this. We are informed, however, that those persons are very violent, and threaten immediate extermination upon all those who profess our doctrine.
You are aware, no doubt, dear brother, that anxieties inexpressible crowd themselves continually upon my mind for the Saints, when I consider the many temptations 1 to which we are subject, from the cunning and flattery 2 of the great adversary of our souls: and I can truly say, with much fervency have I called upon the Lord for our brethren in Canada. And when I call to mind with what readiness they received the word 3 of truth by the ministry of Brother Sidney and myself, I am truly under great obligations to humble myself before Him.
When I contemplate the rapidity with which the great and glorious day of the coming of the Son of Man 5 advances, when He shall come to receive His Saints 6 unto Himself, where they shall dwell in His presence, 7 and be crowned with glory and immortality: 8 when I consider that soon the heavens are to be shaken, 9 and the earth tremble and reel to and fro; 10 and that the heavens are to be unfolded as a scroll 11 when it is rolled up; and that every mountain and island are to flee away, 12 I cry out in my heart, 13 What manner of persons ought we to be 14 in all holy conversation and godliness!
You remember the testimony which I bore in the name of the Lord Jesus, concerning the great work 16 which He has brought forth in the last days. You know my manner of communication, how that in weakness and simplicity, 17 I declared to you what the Lord had brought forth by the ministering of His holy angels 18 to me for this generation. I pray that the Lord may enable you to treasure these things in your mind, 19 for I know that His Spirit will bear testimony 20 to all who seek diligently 21 after knowledge from Him.
I hope you will search the Scriptures 22 to see whether these things are not also consistent with those things which the ancient Prophets and Apostles have written. I remember Brother Freeman and wife, Ransom also, and Sister Lydia, and little Charles, with all the brethren and sisters. I entreat for an interest in all your prayers 24 before the throne of mercy, 25 in the name of Jesus. I hope the Lord will grant. The character of Sidney Rigdon is here vividly portrayed, followed by an earnest prayer for his salvation and a prophecy concerning his posterity.
It is true that his generations have been hunted for, and some of them found. His son, John W. More recently one of his grandsons, now an old man, joined the Church and another grandson has expressed himself favorably towards the Church. In this way, in part at least, we see the fulfilment of this earnest plea by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Nothing of note occurred from the falling of the stars on the 13th, to this date, November 19th, when my heart is somewhat sorrowful, 2 but I feel to trust in the Lord, 3 the God of Jacob.
Brother Sidney is a man whom I love, but he is not capable of that pure and steadfast 6 love for those who are his benefactors that should characterize a President of the Church of Christ. But notwithstanding these things, he is a very great and good man; a man of great power of words, 10 and can gain the friendship of his hearers very quickly.
He is a man whom God will uphold, 11 if he will continue faithful 12 to his calling. The man who willeth to do well, we should extol his virtues, and speak not of his faults behind his back. A man who wilfully turneth away from his friend without a cause, 16 is not easily forgiven. That person who never forsaketh his trust, 18 should ever have the highest place of regard in our hearts, 19 and our love should never fail, but increase more and more, 20 and this is my disposition and these my sentiments.
The following is an excerpt taken from a communication to the Saints in Zion, who had been driven from their homes and basely persecuted by a mob in Jackson County, Missouri. It appears, brethren, that the above statements were made mostly for reports, and there is no certainty of their being correct; therefore, it is difficult for us to advise, and we can only say, that the destinies of all people are in the hands 21 of a just God, 22 and He will do no injustice to any one; 23 and this one thing is sure, that they who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution; 24 and before their robes are made white in the blood of the Lamb, it is to be expected, according to John the Revelator, they will pass through great tribulation.
I wish, when you receive this letter, that you would collect every particular, concerning the mob, from the beginning, and send us a correct statement of facts, as they occurred from time to time, that we may be enabled to give the public correct information on the subject; and inform us also of the situation of the brethren, with respect to their means of sustenance.
I would inform you that it is not the will of the Lord for you to sell your lands in Zion, 26 if means can possibly be procured for your sustenance without. Every exertion should be made to maintain the cause 27 you have espoused, and to contribute to the necessities of one another, 28 as much as possible, in this your great calamity, and remember not to murmur 29 at.
We know not what we shall be called to pass through 16 before Zion is delivered and established; therefore, we have great need to live near to God, 17 and always be in strict obedience 18 to all His commandments, that we may have a conscience void of offense toward God and man. The inhabitants of this county threaten our destruction, and we know not how soon they may be permitted to follow the example of the Missourians; but our trust is in God, 22 and we are determined, His grace assisting us, 23 to maintain the cause 24 and hold out faithful unto the end, 25 that we may be crowned with crowns of celestial glory, 26 and enter into the rest 27 that is prepared for the children of God.
We are now distributing the type, and intend to commence setting today, and issue a paper the last of this week, or beginning of next.
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We wrote to Elder Phelps some time since, and also sent by Elder Hyde, for the list of names of subscribers to the Star , which we have not yet received; and, until we receive it, the most of the subscribers will be deprived of the paper; and when you receive this, if you have not sent the list, I wish you to attend to it immediately, as much inconvenience will follow a delay. If that is the case, it is not meet that they should recommence hostilities with them; but, if not, you should maintain the ground 1 as long as there is a man left, as the spot of ground upon which you were located, is the place appointed of the Lord for your inheritance, 2 and it is right in the sight of God 3 that you contend for it to the last.
You will recollect that the Lord has said, that Zion should not be removed out of her place; 4 therefore the land should not be sold, 5 but be held by the Saints, until the Lord in His wisdom 6 shall open a way for your return; and until that time, if you can purchase a tract of land in Clay county, for present emergencies, it is right you should do so, if you can do it, and not sell your land in Jackson county.
It is not safe for us to send you a written revelation 7 on the subject, but what is stated above is according to wisdom. This letter depicts the tenderness and sympathy of the Prophet towards the Saints in Missouri, and his desire to encourage and strengthen them by faith and hope in this great hour of their deep affliction. Edward Partridge, W. Phelps, John Whitmer, A.
From previous letters we learned that a number of our brethren had been slain, but we could not learn from the letters referred to above, that there had been more than one killed, and that one Brother Barber; and that Brother Dibble was. We were thankful to learn that no more had been slain, and our daily prayers are that the Lord will not suffer His Saints, 1 who have gone up to His land to keep His commandments, to stain His holy mountain 2 with their blood. I cannot learn from any communication by the Spirit to me, that Zion has forfeited her claim to a celestial crown, notwithstanding the Lord has caused her to be thus afflicted, except it may be some individuals, who have walked in disobedience, 3 and forsaken the new covenant; 4 all such will be made manifest by their works 5 in due time.
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I have always expected that Zion would suffer some affliction, 6 from what I could learn from the commandments which have been given. But I would remind you of a certain clause in one which says, that after much tribulation cometh the blessing. Now, there are two things of which I am ignorant; and the Lord will not show them unto me, 18 perhaps for a wise purpose in Himself 19 —I mean in some respects—and they are these: Why God has suffered so great a calamity to come upon Zion, and what the great moving cause of this great affliction is; and again, by what means he will return her back to her inheritance, 20 with songs of everlasting joy 21 upon her head.
When I contemplate upon all things that have been manifested, I am aware that I ought not to murmur, 25 and do not murmur, only in this, that those who are innocent are compelled to suffer 26 for the iniquities of the guilty; and I cannot account. Brethren, when we learn your sufferings, it awakens every sympathy of our hearts; it weighs us down; 6 we cannot refrain from tears, 7 yet, we are not able to realize, only in part, your sufferings: and I often hear the brethren saying, they wish they were with you, that they might bear a part of your sufferings; and I myself should have been with you, had not God prevented it in the order of His providence, 8 that the yoke of affliction 9 might be less grievous upon you, God having forewarned me, 10 concerning these things, for your sake; and also, Elder Cowdery could not lighten your afflictions by tarrying longer with you, for his presence would have so much the more enraged your enemies; therefore God hath dealt mercifully 11 with us.
O brethren, let us be thankful 12 that it is as well with us as it is, and we are yet alive and peradventure, God hath laid up in store 13 great good for us in this generation, and may grant that we may yet glorify His name. I feel thankful that there have no more denied the faith; 15 I pray God in the name of Jesus that you all may be kept in the faith 16 unto the end: 17 let your sufferings be what they may, it is better in the eyes of God 18 that you should die, than that.
Behold, He will not fail you! I would suggest some ideas to Elder Phelps, not knowing that they will be of any real benefit but suggest them for consideration. I would be glad if he were here, were it possible for him to come, but dare not advise, not knowing what shall befall us, 22 as we are under very heavy and serious threatenings from a great many people in this place. But, perhaps, the people in Liberty may feel willing, God having power to soften the hearts 23 of all men, to have a press established there; and if not, in some other place; any place where it can be the most convenient, and it is possible to get to it; God will be willing to have it in any place where it can be established in safety.
We must be wise as serpents and. Now hear the prayer of your unworthy brother in the new and everlasting covenant:—O my God! Give Thy Holy Spirit unto my brethren, 24 unto whom I write; send Thine angels to guard them, 25 and deliver them from all evil; 26 and when they turn their faces toward Zion, and bow down before Thee and pray, may their sins never come up before Thy face; 27 neither have place in the book of Thy remembrance; 28 and may they depart from all their iniquities.
Finally, brethren, the grace of our Lord 35 Jesus Christ be with you all until His coming in His kingdom. On the eighteenth day of December, , the Prophet and a number of the leading Elders of the Church assembled in the printing office which had just been built and that office was dedicated by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Following this ceremony the Prophet proceeded to bless Oliver Cowdery and several members of the Smith family, after having conferred upon Joseph Smith, Sen.
The blessings follow. Blessed of the Lord 1 is Brother Cowdery, nevertheless there are two evils in him 2 that he must needs forsake, or he cannot altogether escape the buffetings 3 of the adversary. If he forsake these evils he shall be forgiven, and shall be made like unto the bow which the Lord hath set in the heavens; 4 and shall be a sign and an ensign unto the nations. Thus spoke the Seer, 12 and these are the words which fell from his lips while the visions of the Almighty 13 were open to his view, saying:.
Blessed of the Lord is my father, 14 for he shall stand in the midst of his posterity and shall be comforted by their blessings when he is old and bowed down with years, and shall be called a prince over them, 15 and shall be numbered among those who hold the right of Patriarchal Priesthood, 16 even the keys of that ministry: 17 for he shall assemble together his posterity like unto Adam; 18 and the assembly which he called shall be an example for my father, for thus it is written of him:.
Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch and Methuselah, who were High Priests, with the residue of his posterity, who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing. And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called.
And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him, I have set thee to be at the head: a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a Prince over them forever. So shall it be with my father: he shall be called a prince over his posterity, 2 holding the keys of the patriarchal Priesthood 3 over the kingdom of God on earth, 4 even the Church of the Latter-day Saints, and he shall sit in the general assembly of Patriarchs, 5 even in council with the Ancient of Days 6 when he shall sit and all the Patriarchs with him and shall enjoy his right and authority under the direction of the Ancient of Days.
And blessed also, is my mother, for she is a mother in Israel, 7 and shall be a partaker with my father in all his patriarchal blessings. And blessed, also, are my brothers and my sisters, for they shall yet find redemption 8 in the house of the Lord, and their offsprings shall be a blessing, 9 a joy 10 and a comfort unto them. Blessed is my mother, for her soul is ever filled with benevolence and philanthropy; and notwithstanding her age, she shall yet receive strength and be comforted in the midst of her house: and thus saith the Lord. She shall have eternal life. And again, blessed is my father, for the hand of the Lord 13 shall be over him, and he shall be full of the Holy Ghost; 14 for he shall predict whatsoever shall befall his posterity unto the latest generation, 15 and shall see the affliction of his children pass away, and their enemies under their feet: 16 and when his head is fully ripe he shall behold himself as an olive tree whose branches are bowed down with much fruit.
Behold, the blessings of Joseph by the hand of his progenitor, 17 shall come upon the head of my father and his seed after him, to the uttermost, even he shall be a fruitful bough; he shall be as a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well whose branches run over the wall, 18 and his seed shall abide in strength, 19 and the arms of their hands shall be made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob, 20 and the God of his fathers: even the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, shall help him and his seed after him: even the Almighty shall bless him with blessings of heaven above and his seed after him, and the blessings of the deep that lieth under: and his seed shall rise up and call him blessed.
Blessed of the Lord 11 is my brother Hyrum for the integrity of his heart; 12 he shall be girt about with strength, truth 13 and faithfulness 14 shall be the strength of his loins. His name shall be called a blessing among men. He shall be as a cooling spring that breaketh forth at the foot of the mountain, overshadowed with choice trees bowed down with ripe fruit, that yieldeth both nourishment to the appetite and quencheth the thirst, thereby yielding refreshment to the weary traveller: and the goings of his feet shall ever be by streams of living water.
Behold he shall be blessed with an abundance of riches of the earth—gold, His chariots shall be numerous, and his cattle shall multiply abundantly: 1 horses, mules, asses, camels, dromedaries, and swift beasts, 2 that he may magnify the name of the Lord 3 and benefit the poor. Yea, this shall be the desire of his soul, 4 to comfort the needy 5 and bind up the broken in heart.
Blessed of the Lord is my brother Samuel, because the Lord shall say unto him, Samuel, Samuel; 9 therefore he shall be made a teacher in the house of the Lord, and the Lord shall mature his mind in judgment, and thereby he shall obtain the esteem and fellowship of his brethren, 10 and his soul shall be established and he shall benefit the house of the Lord, because he shall obtain answer to prayer in his faithfulness.
Brother William is as the fierce lion, 12 which divideth not the spoil 13 because of his strength; and in the pride of his heart he will neglect the more weighty matters 14 until his soul is bowed down 15 in sorrow; and then he shall return and call on the name 16 of his God, and shall find forgiveness, and shall wax valiant, therefore, he shall be saved unto the uttermost; 17 and as the roaring lion of the forest in the midst of his prey, 18 so shall the hand of his generation be lifted up against those who are set on high, 19 that fight against the God of Israel; 20 fearless and undaunted shall they be in battle, in avenging the wrongs of the innocent, and relieving the oppressed; 21 therefore, the blessings of the God of Jacob shall be in the midst of his house, 22 notwithstanding his rebellious heart.
Dear Brethren in Christ, 1 and Companions in Tribulation: 2 —It seemeth good unto us to drop a few lines to you giving you some instruction relative to conducting the affairs of the kingdom 3 of God, which has been committed unto us in these latter times, 4 by the will and testament of our Mediator, 5 whose intercessions in our behalf 6 are lodged in the bosom of the Eternal Father, 7 and ere long will burst with blessings upon the heads of all the faithful.
We have all been children, 9 and are too much so at the present time; but we hope in the Lord 10 that we may grow in grace 11 and be prepared for all things 12 which the bosom of futurity may disclose unto us. Time is rapidly rolling on, and the prophecies must be fulfilled. Rumor with her ten thousand tongues 15 is diffusing her uncertain sounds 16 in almost every ear; but in these times of sore trial, let the Saints be patient and see the salvation of God. On the subject of ordination, a few words are necessary.
Such may expect to lose their appointment, 25 except they awake and magnify their office. It is not the multitude of preachers that is to bring about the glorious millennium! Let the Elders be exceedingly careful about unnecessarily disturbing and harrowing up the feelings of the people. Remember that your business is to preach the Gospel in all humility 1 and meekness, 2 and warn sinners to repent 3 and come to Christ.
Avoid contentions 5 and vain disputes with men of corrupt minds, 6 who do not desire to know the truth. If you do your duty, 11 it will be just as well with you, 12 as though all men embraced the Gospel. Be careful 14 about sending boys to preach the Gospel to the world; 15 if they go let them be accompanied by some one who is able to guide them in the proper channel, 16 lest they become puffed up, 17 and fall under condemnation, 18 and into the snare of the devil. We remain your brethren in Christ, 28 anxiously praying for the day of redemption to come, 29 when iniquity shall be swept from the earth, 30 and everlasting righteousness brought in.
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Dear Brethren in Christ, 1 and Companions in Tribulation: 2. Impressed with the truth of these facts what can be the feelings of those who have been partakers of the heavenly gift 14 and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come? Who but those who have duly considered the condescension of the Father 2 of our spirits, 3 in providing a sacrifice for His creatures, 4 a plan of redemption, 5 a power of atonement, 6 a scheme of salvation, 7 having as its great objects, the bringing of men back into the presence 8 of the King of heaven, 9 crowning them in the celestial glory, 10 and making them heirs with the Son 11 to that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away 12 —who but such can realize the importance of a perfect walk 13 before all men, and a diligence in calling upon all men 14 to partake of these blessings?
Of a truth 16 they may be considered tidings of great joy to all people; 17 and tidings, too, that ought to fill the earth 18 and cheer the hearts 19 of every one when sounded in his ears. We deem it a just principle, 5 and it is one the force of which we believe ought to be duly considered by every individual, that all men are created equal, and that all have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience.
Consequently, then, we are not disposed, had we the power, to deprive any one of exercising that free independence of mind 6 which heaven has so graciously bestowed upon the human family 7 as one of its choicest gifts; but we take the liberty and this we have a right to do of looking at this order of things a few moments, and contrasting it with the order of God 8 as we find it in the sacred Scriptures.
In this review, however, we shall present the points as we consider they were really designed by the great Giver to be understood, and the happy results arising from a performance of the requirements of heaven as revealed to every one who obeys them; and the consequence attending a false construction, a misrepresentation, or a forced meaning that was never designed in the mind of the Lord 9 when He condescended to speak from the heavens to men 10 for their salvation.
All regularly organized and well established governments have certain laws by which, more or less, the innocent are protected and the guilty punished. The fact admitted that certain laws are good, equitable and just, ought to be binding upon the individual who admits this, and lead him to observe in the strictest manner an obedience to those laws. These laws when. It is not our intention by these remarks, to attempt to place the law of man 3 on a parallel with the law of heaven; 4 because we do not consider that it is formed in the same wisdom and propriety; neither do we consider that it is sufficient in itself to bestow anything on man in comparison with the law of heaven, even should it promise it.
The laws of men 5 may guarantee to a people protection in the honorable pursuits of this life, and the temporal happiness arising from a protection against unjust insults and injuries; and when this is said, all is said, that can be in truth, of the power, extent, and influence of the laws of men, exclusive of the law of God. Still in the midst of all this there is a promise predicated upon the fact that it is the law of heaven, which transcends the law of man, as far as eternal life the temporal; and as the blessings which God is able to give, are greater than those which can be given by man.
Then, certainly, if the law of man is binding upon man when acknowledged, how much more must the law of heaven be! And as much as the law of heaven is more perfect than the law of man, so much greater must be the reward if obeyed. We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light 1 communicated from heaven 2 to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life 3 and lost every desire for sin; 4 and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker 5 and is caught up to dwell with Him.
But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending 6 the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same. For further instruction we refer you to Deut. Because the government of the United States does not require it: it only requires an obedience to its laws after the individual has arrived within its jurisdiction. As we previously remarked, we do not attempt to place the law of man on a parallel with the law of heaven; but we will.
Were a king to extend his dominion over the habitable earth, and send forth his laws which were the most perfect kind, and command his subjects one and all to yield obedience to the same, and add as a reward to those who obeyed them, that at a certain period they should be called to attend the marriage of his son, 1 who in due time was to receive the kingdom, and they should be made equal with him 2 in the same; and fix as a penalty for disobedience that every individual guilty of it should be cast out at the marriage feast, and have no part nor portion with his government, what rational mind could for a moment accuse the king with injustice for punishing such rebellious subjects?
In the first place his laws were just, easy to be complied with, and perfect: nothing of a tyrannical nature was required of them; but the very construction of the laws was equity and beauty; and when obeyed would produce the happiest condition possible to all who adhered to them, beside the last great benefit of sitting down with a royal robe in the presence of the king at the great, grand marriage supper of his son, and be made equal with him in all affairs of the kingdom. When these royal laws were issued, and promulgated throughout the vast dominion, every subject, when interrogated whether he believed them to be from his sovereign or not, answered, Yes; I know they are, I am acquainted with the signature, for it is as usual.
Thus saith the King! Should any escape the search of the ambassadors of the king, and never hear these last laws, giving his subjects such exalted privileges, an excuse might be urged in their behalf, 4 and they escape the censure of the king. But for those who had heard, who had admitted, and who had promised obedience to these just laws 5 no excuse could be urged, and when brought into the presence of the king certainly, justice would require that they should suffer a penalty. Could that king be just in admitting these rebellious individuals into the full enjoyment and priv-.
Certainly not. Because they disregarded the voice of their lawful king; they had no regard for his virtuous laws, for his dignity, nor for the honor of his name; neither for the honor of their country, nor their private virtue. How could a government be conducted with harmony if its administrators were possessed with such different dispositions and different principles? Could it prosper? Could it flourish? Would harmony prevail? Would order be established, 1 and could justice be executed in righteousness 2 in all branches of its departments?
In it were two classes of men as dissimilar as light and darkness, virtue and vice, justice and injustice, truth and falsehood, holiness and sin. One class were perfectly harmless and virtuous: they knew what virtue was for they had lived in the fullest enjoyment of it, and their fidelity to truth had been fairly tested by a series of years of faithful obedience to all its heavenly precepts.
They knew what good order was, for they had been orderly and obedient to the laws imposed on them by their wise sovereign, and had experienced the benefits arising from a life spent in his government till he has now seen proper to make them equal with his son. Such individuals would indeed adorn any court where perfection was one of its main springs of action, and shine far more fair 3 than the richest gem in the diadem 4 of the prince. We take the sacred writings 5 into our hands, and admit that they were given by direct inspiration for the good of man.
Will the mere admission, that this is the will of heaven ever benefit us if we do not comply 7 with all its teachings? Do we not offer violence to the Supreme Intelligence 8 of heaven, when we admit the truth of its teachings, and do not obey them? Do we not descend below our own knowledge, and the better wisdom which heaven has endowed us with, by such a course of conduct? Here, then, we have this part of our subject immediately before us for consideration: God has in reserve 12 a time, or period appointed in His own bosom, 13 when He will bring all His subjects, 14 who have obeyed His voice and kept His commandments, 15 into His celestial rest.
This being the fact, God has given certain laws to the human family, which, if observed, are sufficient to prepare them to inherit this rest. If the whole family of man were as well off without them as they might be with them, for what purpose or intent were they ever given?
Was it that God wanted to merely show that He could talk? It would be nonsense to suppose that He would condescend to talk in vain: for it would be in vain, and to no purpose whatever if the law of God were of no benefit to man : because, all the commandments contained in the law of the Lord, 20 have the sure promise 21 annexed of a. As we previously remarked, all well established and properly organized governments have certain fixed and prominent laws for the regulation and management of the same. If man has grown to wisdom and is capable of discerning the propriety of laws to govern nations, what less can be expected from the Ruler and Upholder of the universe?
The series began in , with the release of the Brigham Young edition. The books are not being issued in the same order in which presidents served. The books are not intended to be a comprehensive collection of the words, sermons, or writings of their subjects.
Church members have been encouraged to save the books and make a collection in their homes. The books served as a basis for many of the lessons presented in weekly church Relief Society and adult priesthood meetings. Each book was used as class curriculum for one or two calendar years, depending on the length of the book. In and , the church temporarily ceased using this series for communal study at Sunday meetings and instead used a newly revised Gospel Principles manual.
Sunday study of the Teachings of Presidents of the Church series resumed in , but concluded at the end of This places greater emphasis on members counseling together regarding local needs, increased study of general conference talks, and studying other topics selected by the general church leadership. The copyright in the books is held by Intellectual Reserve , but they are available in electronic format for free on the LDS Church's website.