Times and Seasons, 15 June 1842

  • Source Note
Page 825
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in an unknown tongue, he of course would have to be silent; there are only two gifts that could be made visible—the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy. These are things that are the most talked about, and yet if a person spoke in an unknown tongue, according to Paul’s testimony, he would be a “barbarian to those present.” They would say that it was giberish; and if he prophesied they would call it nonsense. The gift of tongues is the smallest gift perhaps of the whole, and yet it is one that is the most sought after. So that according to the testimony of scripture and the manifestations of the spirit in ancient days, very little could be known about it by the surrounding multitude; except on some extraordinary occasion as on the day of Pentecost. The greatest, the best, and the most useful gifts would be known nothing about by an observer. It is true that a man might prophecy, which is a great gift; and one that Paul told the people—the church—to seek after and to covet, rather than to speak in tongues; but what does the world know about prophesying? Paul says that it “serveth only to those that believe.”— But does not the scriptures say that they spake in tongues and prophesied? Yes; but who is it that writes these scriptures? Not the men of the world or mere casual observers, but the Apostles—men who knew one gift from another, and of course were capable of writing about it; if we had the testimony of the scribes and pharisees concerning the out-pouring of the spirit on the day of Pentacost, they would have told us that it was no gift, but that the people “were drunken with new wine,” and we shall finally have to come to the same conclusion that Paul did, that “no man knows the things of God but by the spirit of God,” for with the great revelations of Paul, when he was caught up into the third heaven and saw things that were not lawful to utter, no man was apprised of it until he mentioned it himself fourteen years after; and when John had the curtains of heaven withdrawn, and by vision looked through the dark vista of future ages, and contemplate events that should transpire throughout every subsequent period of time until the final winding up scene—while he gazed upon the glories of the eternal world, saw an innumerable company of angels and heard the voice of God—it was in the spirit on the Lord’s day; unnoticed and unobserved by the world.
The manifestatitions of the gift of the Holy Ghost; the ministering of angels; or the development of the power, majesty or glory of God were very seldom manifested publicly, and that generally to the people of God; as to the Israelites; but most generally when angels have come, or God has revealed himself, it has been to individuals in private—in their chamber—in the wilderness or fields; and that generally without noise or tumult. The angel delivered Peter out of prison in the dead of night—came to Paul unobserved by the rest of the crew—appeared to Mary and Elizabeth without the knowledge of others—spoke to John the Baptist whilst the people around were ignorant of it. When Elisha saw the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof, it was unknown to others. When the Lord appeared to Abraham it was at his tent door, when the angels went to Lot no person knew them but himself, which was the case probably with Abraham and his wife; when the Lord appeared to Moses it was in the burning bush, in the tabernacle, or on the mountain top; when Elijah was taken in a chariot of fire, it was unobserved by the world; and when he was in the cleft of a rock, there was loud thunder, but the Lord was not in the thunder; there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and then there was a still small voice, which was the voice of the Lord, saying, what dost thou here, Elijah?
The Lord cannot always be known by the thunder of his voice; by the display of his glory, or by the manifestation of his power; and those that are the most anxious to see these things, are the least prepared to meet them; and were the Lord to manifest his power as he did to the children of Israel, such characters would be the first to say “let not the Lord speak any more, lest we his people die.”
We would say to the brethren seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields; follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for, your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and every thing that you engage in; be virtuous, and pure, be men of integrity and truth, keep the commandments of God, and then you will be able more perfectly to understand the difference between right and wrong, between the things of God, and the things of men; and your path will be like that of the just, “which shineth brighter, and brighter, unto the perfect day.” Be not so curious about tongues, do not speak in tongues except there be an interpreter present; the ultimate design of tongues is to speak to foreigners, and if persons are very anxious to display their intelligence, let them speak to such in their own tongues. The gifts of God are all useful in their place, but when they are applied to that which God [p. 825]
in an unknown tongue, he of course would have to be silent; there are only two gifts that could be made visible—the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy. These are things that are the most talked about, and yet if a person spoke in an unknown tongue, according to Paul’s testimony, he would be a “barbarian to those present.” They would say that it was giberish; and if he prophesied they would call it nonsense. The gift of tongues is the smallest gift perhaps of the whole, and yet it is one that is the most sought after. So that according to the testimony of scripture and the manifestations of the spirit in ancient days, very little could be known about it by the surrounding multitude; except on some extraordinary occasion as on the day of Pentecost. The greatest, the best, and the most useful gifts would be known nothing about by an observer. It is true that a man might prophecy, which is a great gift; and one that Paul told the people—the church—to seek after and to covet, rather than to speak in tongues; but what does the world know about prophesying? Paul says that it “serveth only to those that believe.”— But does not the scriptures say that they spake in tongues and prophesied? Yes; but who is it that writes these scriptures? Not the men of the world or mere casual observers, but the Apostles—men who knew one gift from another, and of course were capable of writing about it; if we had the testimony of the scribes and pharisees concerning the out-pouring of the spirit on the day of Pentacost, they would have told us that it was no gift, but that the people “were drunken with new wine,” and we shall finally have to come to the same conclusion that Paul did, that “no man knows the things of God but by the spirit of God,” for with the great revelations of Paul, when he was caught up into the third heaven and saw things that were not lawful to utter, no man was apprised of it until he mentioned it himself fourteen years after; and when John had the curtains of heaven withdrawn, and by vision looked through the dark vista of future ages, and contemplate events that should transpire throughout every subsequent period of time until the final winding up scene—while he gazed upon the glories of the eternal world, saw an innumerable company of angels and heard the voice of God—it was in the spirit on the Lord’s day; unnoticed and unobserved by the world.
The manifestatitions of the gift of the Holy Ghost; the ministering of angels; or the development of the power, majesty or glory of God were very seldom manifested publicly, and that generally to the people of God; as to the Israelites; but most generally when angels have come, or God has revealed himself, it has been to individuals in private—in their chamber—in the wilderness or fields; and that generally without noise or tumult. The angel delivered Peter out of prison in the dead of night—came to Paul unobserved by the rest of the crew—appeared to Mary and Elizabeth without the knowledge of others—spoke to John the Baptist whilst the people around were ignorant of it. When Elisha saw the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof, it was unknown to others. When the Lord appeared to Abraham it was at his tent door, when the angels went to Lot no person knew them but himself, which was the case probably with Abraham and his wife; when the Lord appeared to Moses it was in the burning bush, in the tabernacle, or on the mountain top; when Elijah was taken in a chariot of fire, it was unobserved by the world; and when he was in the cleft of a rock, there was loud thunder, but the Lord was not in the thunder; there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and then there was a still small voice, which was the voice of the Lord, saying, what dost thou here, Elijah?
The Lord cannot always be known by the thunder of his voice; by the display of his glory, or by the manifestation of his power; and those that are the most anxious to see these things, are the least prepared to meet them; and were the Lord to manifest his power as he did to the children of Israel, such characters would be the first to say “let not the Lord speak any more, lest we his people die.”
We would say to the brethren seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields; follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for, your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and every thing that you engage in; be virtuous, and pure, be men of integrity and truth, keep the commandments of God, and then you will be able more perfectly to understand the difference between right and wrong, between the things of God, and the things of men; and your path will be like that of the just, “which shineth brighter, and brighter, unto the perfect day.” Be not so curious about tongues, do not speak in tongues except there be an interpreter present; the ultimate design of tongues is to speak to foreigners, and if persons are very anxious to display their intelligence, let them speak to such in their own tongues. The gifts of God are all useful in their place, but when they are applied to that which God [p. 825]
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