The Wrath of God Upon the Seed of Thy Brethren

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

That explains the condition of the native communities in America at the time immediately preceding the incursion of the Spaniards. These came as the executors of divine judgment, just as the Babylonians at one time overran Palestine as the messengers of divine wrath. The descendants of Lehi had been given to understand repeatedly that they could prosper here only if they would keep the commandments of God. This they failed to do. As communities, they destroyed each other. By bloodshed they polluted the country that ought to have been dedicated to the Lord. They dwindled in unbelief. That caused darkness, both in body and soul. Mr. Bancroft, speaking of some of the Indians, observes:

“From the frozen, wind-swept plains of Alaska to the malaria-haunted swamps of Darien, there is not a fairer land than California; it is the neutral ground, as it were, of the elements, where hyperboreal cold, stripped of its rugged aspect, and equatorial heat, tamed to a genial warmth, meet as friends, inviting, all blustering laid aside. Yet if we travel northward from the Isthmus, we must pass by ruined cities and temples, traces of mighty peoples, who there flourished before a foreign civilization extirpated them. On the arid deserts of Arizona and New Mexico is found an incipient civilization. Descending from the Arctic sea we meet races of hunters and traders, which can be called neither primitive nor primordial, living after their fashion as men, not as brutes. It is not until we reach the Golden Mean in Central California that we find whole tribes subsisting on roots, herbs and insects; having no boats, no clothing, no laws, no God; yielding submissively to the first touch of the invader; held in awe by a few priests and soldiers.”—(Native Races, vol. 1, p. 339)

That is strange. But from the wrath of the Lord, neither a congenial climate nor a bounteous soil can furnish man protection.

However, the Lamanites were by no means all bad. Compared to their conquerors, they were rather a superior race, if Las Casas, the great bishop of Chiapas, does not exaggerate. He writes:

"I was one of the first who went to America. Neither curiosity nor interest prompted me to undertake so long and so dangerous a voyage. The saving of souls of the heathen was my sole object. It was said that barbarous executions were necessary to punish or check the rebellion of the Americans. But to whom was this owing? Did not this people receive the Spaniards who first came among them with gentleness and humanity? Did they not show more joy in proportion, in lavishing treasure upon them, than the Spaniards did greediness in receiving it? Though they gave up to us their lands and riches, we would also take from them their wives and children and liberty. To blacken the character of this unhappy people, their enemies assert that they are scarcely human beings. But it is we who ought to blush for having been less men and more barbarous than they ... The Indians still remain untainted by many vices usual among Europeans, such as ambition, blasphemy, swearing, treachery, which have not taken place among them. They have scarcely an idea of these. (Quoted by Israel Worsley in, A View of the American Indian, p. 35)

Bancroft, too, finds much to admire in the natives. Speaking of the Nahuas, for instances, he describes them as frugal, kind to children and slaves, possessing a degree of civilization, ingenuity and aptitude for learning. And yet, with these and other redeeming qualities, they were vain as regards gorgeous clothing and costly feasts; they were ferocious in war and cruel in inflicting punishments. Thus, for instance, they would kill a couple of women who happened to quarrel in a public place. They were superstitious. They practiced human sacrifices. In fact, prisoners of war were often disposed of on the altar of some deity. On occasions, they ate human flesh, possibly as a religious rite.

By incessant warfare and acts of violence, they dimmed the light of revelation and polluted the land dedicated to the cause of God and liberty.

Therefore, the wrath of God was poured out upon them. But the wrath of God, was as always, intended for their salvation from total destruction.

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1