Discourse, 16 May 1841, as Published in Times and Seasons

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

He commenced his observations by remarking that the kindness of our Heavenly Father, called for our heartfelt gratitude. He then observed that satan was generally blamed for the evils which we did, but if he was the cause of all our wickedness, men could not be condemned. The devil cannot compel mankind to evil, all was voluntary.— Those who resist the spirit of God, are liable to be led into temptation, and then the association of heaven is withdrawn from those who refuse to be made partakers of such great glory—God would not exert any compulsory means and the Devil could not; and such ideas as were entertained by many were absurd. The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but Christ subjected the same in hope—we are all subject to vanity while we travel through the crooked paths, and difficulties which surround us. Where is the man that is free from vanity? None ever were [p. 429] perfect but Jesus, and why was he perfect? because he was the son of God, and had the fulness of the Spirit, and greater power than any man.— But, notwithstanding our vanity, we look forward with hope, (because “we are subjected in hope,”) to the time of our deliverance.
He then made some observations on the first principles of the gospel, observing that many of the who had come from different States and Nations, had only a very superficial knowledge of these principles, not having heard them fully investigated. He then briefly stated the principles of faith, repentance, and for the remission of sins, which were believed by some of the religious societies of the day, but the doctrine of for the , was discarded by them.
The speaker then referred them to the 6th chap. of Heb. 1. and 2. verses, “not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works &c., but of the doctrines of baptism, laying on of hands, the resurrection and eternal judgment &c.” The doctrine of eternal judgment was perfectly understood by the apostle, is evident from several passages of scripture. Peter preached repentance and baptism for the remission of sins to the Jews, who had been led to acts of violence and blood, by their leaders, but to the Rulers he said, “I would that through ignorance ye did it, as did also those ye ruled.”— Repent, therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing (redemption) shall come from the presence of the Lord, for he shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you &c.” The time of redemption here had reference to the time, when Christ should come; then and not till then would their sins be blotted out. Why? Because they were murderers, and no murderer hath eternal life. Even David, must wait for those times of refreshing, before he can come forth and his sins be blotted out; for Peter speaking of him says, “David hath not yet ascended into Heaven, for his sepulchre is with us to this day:’ his remains were then in the tomb. Now we read that many bodies of the saints arose, at Christ’s resurrection, probably all the saints, but it seems that David did not. Why? because he had been a murderer.
If the ministers of religion had a proper understanding of the doctrine of eternal judgment, they would not be found attending the man who had forfeited his life to the injured laws of his country by shedding innocent blood; for such characters cannot be forgiven, until they have paid the last farthing. The prayers of all the ministers in the world could never close the gates of hell against a murderer.
The speaker then spoke on the subject of election, and read the 9th chap. in Romans, from which it was evident that the election there spoken of was pertaining to the flesh, and had reference to the seed of Abraham, according to the promise God made to Abraham, saying, “In thee and in thy seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” To them belonged the adoption, and the covenants &c. Paul said; when he saw their unbelief I wish myself accursed—according to the fleshnot according to the spirit.
Why did God say to Pharoah, “for this cause have I raised thee up?” Because Pharoah was a fit instrument—a wicked man, and had committed acts of cruelty of the most atrocious nature.
The election of the promised seed still continues, and in the last days, they shall have the restored unto them, and they shall be the “Saviors on mount Zion” the “ministers of our God,” if it were not for the remnant which was left, then might we be as Sodom and as Gomorah.
The whole of the chapter had reference to the priesthood and the house of Israel; and unconditional election of individuals to eternal life was not taught by the apostles.
God did elect or predestinate, that all those who would be saved, should be saved in Christ Jesus, and through obedience to the gospel; but he passes over no man’s sins, but visits them with correction, and if his children will not repent of their sins, he will discard them. [p. 430]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Two months earlier at a Nauvoo lyceum meeting, JS similarly taught that “satan cannot seduce us By his enticements unless we in our h[e]arts Consent & yeald— our organization such that we can Resist the Devil If we were Not organized so we would Not be free agents.” (Discourse, ca. 16 Mar. 1841.)  

  2. 2

    See Romans 8:20.  

  3. 3

    In an 1839 letter to Isaac Galland, JS declared that these principles were essential to salvation. He stated, “All these are the doctrines set forth by the appostles,” and “are all alike precious, and binding on us.” Elias Higbee recounted that when JS met with United States president Martin Van Buren in 1839, JS explained that the Latter-day Saints differed from other denominations “in mode of baptism and the gift of the holy ghost by the laying on of hands.” (Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839; Letter to Hyrum Smith and Nauvoo High Council, 5 Dec. 1839.)  

  4. 4

    See Acts 3:19–20.  

  5. 5

    See 1 John 3:15.  

  6. 6

    See Acts 2:29, 34.  

  7. 7

    See Matthew 27:52–53.  

  8. 8

    See Matthew 5:26.  

  9. 9

    See Genesis 12:3; and 28:14.  

  10. 10

    See Romans 9:3.  

  11. 11

    See Exodus 9:16; and Romans 9:17.  

  12. 12

    See Obadiah 1:21. Several months after this sermon, JS delivered another discourse in which he “presented ‘Baptism for the Dead’ as the only way that men can appear as saviors on mount Zion.” (Minutes and Discourse, 1–5 Oct. 1841.)  

  13. 13

    See Isaiah 61:6.  

  14. 14

    See Genesis chaps. 18–19.  

  15. 15

    In his Bible revision, JS rendered Romans 8:29–30 as follows: “For him whom he did foreknow, he also di[d] predestinate to be conformed to his own image, th[at] he might be the first born among many breathe [brethren] Moreover him whom he did predestinate, him he also called; and him whom he called, him he also sanctified; and him whom he sanctified, him he als[o] gloryfied.” (New Testament Revision 2, between pp. 125–126 [second numbering] [Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 8:29–30].)