« AnteriorContinuar »
and to do so without fear or favor. They had a good deal of the spirit of the old prophet who said, “He that hath my word let him speak my word faithfully, for what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord."
The preaching of the Gospel in the Christian era (so-called) was not of the style that the world loved. It hated the apostles and it hated the Christians, but we have not heard or read that they modified or concealed the truth, because it gave offense; they were positive and decided, and it was as presumptive as words could make it, when Paul said, “Though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed."
The man-fearing spirit was not a prominent feature of early Christian life, for preaching was "to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness." But this opposition, passive or otherwise, never allured the preachers from declaring in the ears of men "the whole counsel of God;" they knew as Paul said, that the Gospel was, to “those who are saved, the power of God!"
Quite likely there were many in all positions and conditions of religious life in those days, who accepted offense because of the illiberality and lack of charity on the part of the Christian ministry, perhaps some as good as the man of Cæsarea, or as “the young mán" in the New Testament; both seemed to be beyond criticism from a moral and religious standpoint, and it might have seemed superfluous to a critic, to say of the former that he needed to "send men to Joppa for Peter to tell him what he ought to do;" and was it cruel to tell the latter, after he had declared "that he had kept all the commandments from his youth up,” that “he still lacked one thing?"
The Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and on another occasion he said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me;" but no one in Christendom today claims that this was illiberal or untrue, however harsh and arbitrary it might have appeared then, and when Peter stood up and declared before the high priest and elders that there was "no other name under heaven, given among men whereby they must be saved," although "filled with the Holy Ghost" at the time, it was no doubt considered illiberal, uncharitable and untrue.
There was a very positive character about original Christianity. It had to be so, and it assuredly brooked no innovation in its early history; the apostles were jealous for its purity, they “marked those that caused divisions." Timothy was exhorted to "hold fast to the form of sound words;" the Corinthians were also urged to "all speak the same thing," and so stringent, so supremely anxious was one of the leaders for this absolute unity, that he wrote a general epistle, and said, “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God;" further, “If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine receive him not into your home, neither bid him God speed.”
All the words of warning, all of prophecy as to result, were instigated by the spirit of truth; no expediency, no false charity suppressed rebuke and censure of all manifestations of diverging practice and doctrine, and had it not been realized that “departure from the faith,” was possible for a time, the anathemas of the prophets would surely have almost stricken terror into the hearts of the tried and true.
Imagination however may enquire, after a modern retrospect, what would have been the feelings of those who were “ready to be offered up” if in the very citadel of the cross, or in any of the branches like Antioch, that vastness of Christian (?) variety had been exhibited as seen in modern times. Could Jerusalem, could the apostles and elders, could the believers and converts have seen the strange religious phenomena of today, and concluded that the Church of Christ and the Gospel of God, was a grand unyielding authoritative whole?
Would they, or did they, dispute as to the need of faith in God or the authority of Christ? Is it a fact that there was contention and separation then as to the mode of baptism? Did any claim that it was only a form, or a non-essential of the Christian faith? Was the example of Christ eschewed or his command to baptize ignored by his apostles? Did any question its mode or purpose? Have you read of a convert asking whether baptism would really wash away or remit his sins? Can you read of any baptized convert objecting to the ordinance of the laying on of hands, or was not the results thereof so tangible and real, that the soothsayers said, "Give us this power, that upon whom we lay our
hands they may receive the Holy Ghost," tempting the servants of Christ with money for this inestimable gift? Is it known that any of the apostles or elders told their converts that they could unite with any organization at their own pleasure, counting belief in and practice of these ordinances a matter of indifference or dependent upon personal choice? Nor can this be done in our day, and it is true charity to preach the Gospel and exact complete and undivided acquiescence and obedience thereto.
Nor is this done for denominational purposes; the Church of Jesus Christ is not a denominational Church, it is not a sectarian Church, it is the Church of God and Christ, revealed and restored in our day, according to promise and prophecy of the ages long gone by. Nor is it even founded upon the New Testament; although it is a perfect fac simile in doctrine, ordinance, organization and priesthood of the Church of Christ in ancient times, as the same New Testament will prove.
This modern revealed Church is an offense the same as its predecessor; it is belied, persecuted or ignored, as was the first; its bitterest enemies and worst opponents have been the religionists of our time; the more reasonable sceptic admits its consistency and its harmony with the ancient Church, and every student, every enquirer realizes this strange fact, which remains unexplained on any hypothesis, save that of greater wisdom or revelation in or to the founder of the same. The first cannot be true; for Joseph Smith was a commonplace boy, and it is a greater miracle to think that he "evolved from his inner consciousness” this duplicate system of ordinance and organization, than to give credit to an inspirational influx for a divine purpose on the page of history in the economy of God. The people forming the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints take no personal credit for this, nor do its leaders or authorities; they simply bear testimony to its truth, and say to the world, the religious world—the same assurances we have can be yours also, the same blesings we enjoy are for you, and in asserting that divine wisdom hath manifested itself in this movement, they do no more than was implied in the ministry and mission of the Christ and his associates and successors.
Neither The Church nor the elders are responsible for the inferences which religionists or other thinkers may draw from their
testimony and literature. The latter may not evince the culture, or profundity of the schools, but the early advocates, the chosen apostles of Jesus were not learned, their theology was not as profound and voluminous as was that of the Pharisees, or as that of Christendom, but they had the simple truth, they could testify of Christ, they had proven that "the Gospel was the power of God unto Salvation," and if their logic was ever deemed to be faulty, their testimony was staunch as the everlasting hills.
There is no claim of superior learning or wisdom, among the elders of The Church; there is no assumption of special righteousness: there is no disposition to contend with or belittle those organizations and creeds which have been and are today precious to multitudes; there is no spirit of reproach; their labor is a labor of unselfish love. They are not professional ministers, but simply taken from the plough and the workshop, from the counter and the desk, to declare the glad tidings of great joy, and warn the nations by preaching the Gospel prior to the second coming of the Son of Man.
BY LLOYD WOODRUFF.
I was sitting in my study;
Silent shadows hovered 'round,
O'er some ghastly battle ground.
And within me raged a battle:
Fierce as ever savage throng
'Gainst a right to keep a wrong.
Uncontrolled, the strife and turmoil
Seared my soul with blighting breath. Faith and Doubt were fighting madly;
Faith for life, grim Doubt for death.
As the shadows fell more darkly,
Each one weakened Faith in life; Eeach one strengthened scornful doubting,
Urging him to fiercer strife.
Then black night encircled 'round me;
Faith fell fainting, spent with pain. Fiendish Doubt sprang nimbly on him:
“Thou shalt ne'er oppose again."
As he raised his ready dagger,
Raised to strike Faith's kingly heart; Through the trees, a ray of glory
Made him pause and pale and start.
'Twas the moon in queenly splendor,
Flooding hill and dale with light; Faith revived with sudden fury,
Putting Doubt to hasty flight.
And a nightingale, in praising,
Broke to rapturous, magic song. Breathless all things stopped to listen;
Waiting minds the notes prolong.
To my heart those notes were knowledge
In my soul, a new-born light, All of joy, of hope and gladness,
Seemed to burst in radiance bright.
And a faintly beaming halo
Showed the path our Savior trod: All creation paused to whisper,
"Follow that and dwell with God.”