The Influence of the Principles of Truth

1843-05-01

Times and Seasons

❮ Home

“The Influence of the Principles of Truth.” Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Illinois) (1 May1843): 189–91.

(From the Millennial Star.)

THE INFLUENCE OF THE PRINCIPLES OF TRUTH.

In the third number of the second volume of the STAR, we find the following extract taken from the Baptist Register (an American paper) in reference to the influence of the principles taught by the Church of Christ in the last days:—“We have looked upon it as a mere delusion, containing the seeds of its own dissolution. But there is order in this fanaticism, there is system in this imposture, and it carries with it an invisible spirit by which the learned and unlearned are strangely overcome.”—We also extract from Mr. Alexander Campbell’s recommendation of “Mormonism Unveiled,” published by E. D. Howe, the following:—“The waters of Lethe, in their fabled powers of stupefaction, were not half so efficient as the infatuations of Mormonism, for once the delusion is tasted, there is little or no hope.”

We like the opposers of the principles of truth to make such acknowledgments, illustrating the sentiment conveyed by Tertullian of old, when he said, “who ever looked well into our holy religion that did not embrace it?” So will it be, for who can approach the contemplation of the principles of eternal truth, calmly and rationally, without being interested? who can investigate the scheme of salvation—the manifestation of the benevolence of Deity, without being entranced with divine goodness?

What, then, are the principles which are so influential, even according to the testimony of our enemies? We go forth amongst the multitude, who instead of being one “harmonious whole” through the influence of religion, are torn asunder and distracted by the multitude of conflicting opinions that obtain amongst them. We bear testimony that angels have again ministered unto the sons of men, that the curtain which hides from our view the eternal world has been withdrawn, and that mortals have held converse with the resurrected dead, in order to learn the will of God, and to enable them to become instruments in his hands for the accomplishment of his great purposes in terminating the present condition of men, and bringing to pass the millennial reign of his glorified and exalted Son.

And through what instrumentality do we profess that this great work has begun? We answer through the coming forth of a record of a branch of the house of Israel, of the seed of Joseph, upon the western continent, in answer to the prayer of faith in the righteous dead, and in fulfilment of the prophecies of the ancient fathers, in reference to the house of Joseph being the instrument in the hands of God, in bringing to pass his great purposes, and pushing the nations together from the ends of the earth.

The Book comes forth through the instrumentality of one ordained to stand as a prophet unto the people of the Lord, and inspired to translate its contents and usher them forth to the world. But what is its reception? It is handled and glanced at by the learned and the wise of this generation, for a glance is generally sufficient to satisfy such with regard to its contents, and is cast aside and condemned as a puerile and absurd production—as bearing the stamp of imposture, because it violates the grammatical rules of the English language, and is not sent forth garnished and adorned with learned tropes [189] and rounded periods, like the divinity of the schools, which is so well calculated to charm a people most faithfully described as having itching ears.

But where does the absurdity lie? Surely not in supposing that if the Lord gave revelation through the mouth of one brought up to agricultural pursuits, and as our enemies testify, “not much given to study,” it would be given in the language of the individual, such as he was in the habit of using to communicate his ideas, and certainly not in the diction of the schools. But a ridiculous notion is frequently expressed, that the dictates of the spirit, through whatsoever channel they may flow, must necassarily be correctly constructed and perfectly grammatical. We grant at once, that if the Lord had chosen for his instrument the learned and the wise, we might expect what they gave forth as the teachings of the spirit, to be sufficiently correct to please the most fastidious.—But, certainly, we should have felt ourselves justified in being skeptical as to the truth of the Book of Mormon, had we found it written in the style of modern divinity, knowing at the same time, that the individual who sent it forth had not had the advantage requisite to give a polished education. But we perceive by the word of God, that our beloved brother, Joseph Smith, is not the only agent who has been employed as a servant of the Lord from amongst (comparative speaking) the uneducated class. In the 4th chapter of Acts and the 13th verse, we read thus: “Now, when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” We ask, by what did they perceive that the apostles were unlearned and ignorant? Was it by their speaking the Hebrew language in its purity and perfection? We trow not; for had the apostles been speaking a purely grammatical language, where could the evidence have been that they were unlearned? But the truth is this, and we repeat what we have before said, every instrument which the Lord employs will be at any rate gifted with simplicity and sincerity, and whatever the Lord shall be pleased to give unto his people, by them shall be given naturally and without hypocrisy.

But what are these strange and influential principles which have come forth with the Book of Mormon? Truly, our enemies have for once borne testimony to what is true, when they have written as before quoted on the influence of these things. Yes; we have often looked around us with admiration and wonder to see the effect of the teachings of the Lord: we have beheld the aged tottering on the brink of the grave as it were awakened by the principles of truth to the liveliness and vivacity of youth, their hearts overflowing with gratitude like Simeon of old when his eyes had seen the Lord’s Christ; and again, we have seen youth humbling itself to the requirements of truth, and exercising a power of faith in the unsophisticated spring of life, that has given unto them the wisdom of years, and enabled many of them to arise and gather with the people, and the youngest and most feeble, perhaps, of the family, have become the pioneers of their tribe. In many cases we have seen, as it were, natural and constitutional fear annihilated by obedience to the principles of truth, and the reception of that spirit which is imparted to them that from the heart obey.

Let us, then, now briefly state what the principles are which the enemies of truth, as well as the servants of the Lord acknowledge to be so powerful. We say at once, that the doctrine of the Church of Christ opens to man, in the first place, a fountain for sin and uncleanness, proposes to him means by which he may be forgiven, and not forgiven only, but restored into the favor of God, to become an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ; yes, even as it is written,—“he came unto his own but his own received him not, but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe in his name.” And again, as Paul writes in the 2nd Thessalonians, 2nd chapter and 14th verse, “whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And is this the portion of them that receive the testimony of Jesus, and endure to the end? Is it, indeed, true that redeemed man is destined for so high a glory? Let us examine this subject a little. We find in the prayer of the Saviour this declaration, “and the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

And again, ‘from the declarations of the Savior to his servant John in his apocalyptic vision, we learn that to him that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations, and he shall rule with a rod of iron; as the vessels of the potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of my Father, and I will give unto him the morning star.’ Again, ‘to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne.’ And, ‘he that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.’ And these are the glories of the redeemed, and this is the distinction to which he that is faithful [190] shall be exalted. Shall we wonder, then, at the influence of the principles of truth? can we any longer be surprised at the fortitude with which the ancient saints endured tribulation and braved death in its most terrific forms? or can we be surprised that the influence of the same glorious principles should produce the same effect in the present age of the world?—No wonder, then, as Mr. Campbell says, ‘if the delusion be once tasted, there is little or no hope.’ Here is the secret spring of action in those who have entered into covenant with God; here is the hope that elevates the saints above the things that surround them; here is the source of their energy which enables them to calmly bear the finger of scorn—the contempt of one devoted friendship—the loss of friends, of kindred, of natural affection, and to press onward in the service of God, with an eye single to his glory, and a heart prepared to serve him with all diligence in the rolling onward of the gospel of the kingdom as a witness unto all nations that the end may come. Yes the people of God are looking forward to the recompense of reward; their minds are expanding, and their hearts are enlarging through the glorious truths that are opened unto them by the revelations of the Spirit. What, then, is the faith and the obedience necessary to give us claim to these high honors to these glorious distinctions?

We answer they are the same today as yesterday—the same at this hour in the Island of Britain, as they were on the day of Pentecost; even faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the anointed of the Father, the Messiah, the Savior of the world; and baptism in his name for the remission of sins, in order that they may receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, by which witnesses they shall know of a surety what is truth, and realize to a certainty whether the doctrines they have embraced be of God or not. And if it was necessary on the day of Pentecost to recognize him whom the Father had sent, it is necessary now; and if there was a power in his name on that memorable day to cancel the sins of the transgressor, it has the same power to-day as then, and is as necessary to be invoked upon us as upon them. And was the promise faithful in that day, that they should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, it is faithful still, it is needed still; and, let the heart of every Saint respond with gratitude, it is realized still; and it has been our inestimable privilege to prove for ourselves the God of truth, and to know by a happy experience that his promises fail not.

Then, let the Saints rejoice to hear such exclamations as the foregoing with regard to the principles of truth, when we see our enemies acknowledging that, in connexion with the work of the Lord, ‘there is an invisible spirit by which the learned and the unlearned are strangely overcome.’ It was said in our hearing the other day, that there was nothing in the work of the Lord to attract a superior mind. Be it allowed for a moment, and what is the reason? Did the world by wisdom ever find out God, or will they ever do so? We answer, no. The purposes of the Almighty were ever ordained so as to bring to nought the wisdom of the wise, and to cause the understanding of the prudent to be hid; and shall the great work of the latter days be conducted on a system at variance with all his former proceedings? nay, verily, he will not give his glory to another.

But what is the reason that multitudes of the wise and the learned turn away with scorn from the work of the Lord, as almost beneath their contempt; we say at once it is because the plan of salvation is so God like; and by being so simple, recognizing all men as involved in one like calamity, as equally helpless and undone, and as requiring alike the same means to deliver them from the consequences of sin, and introduce them to the favor of God. The human mind finds itself much more flattered by laboring among the mists and the clouds of human wisdom; it is then conscious of its strength and energy, and rejoices in its own might; but the gospel which he that runs may read, is by far too simple and is comprehended by the honest hearted without calling forth the energy which the human mind is so proud of exercising.—But though we allow that there is not that in the gospel which attracts the self-opinionated and the proud, yet it is not true that superior minds do not become subject to the principles of truth; but rather is the quotation at the head of this article more correct, when it is said that it is accompanied by an invisible spirit by which the learned and the unlearned are strangely overcome. Yes, my hearers, the servants of the Lord are sent forth to preach the ‘gospel of the kiogdom,’ the gathering together in the dispensation of the fulness of times of a people and a nation to meet the Lord at his coming, that his will may be done on the earth even as it is in heaven. Let us, then, rejoice and be glad, knowing that we are called by a holy calling, and that we have not followed a cunningly devised fable, but the truth as it is in Jesus; and let us be desirous to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. With such sublime prospects before us, we can allow the world to cry delusion, and can take the scoffs and the sneers of it with patience, looking upon the recompense of reward, and hasting unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall be revealed from heaven, taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of his Son.

May the Lord preserve the saints in righteousness and in all faithfulness until that day; and when called to pass through the deep waters of tribulation, may they be sustained by his spirit, that they may come forth purified, having their garments washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. [191]

❮ Back