Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 2/Number 4/Let every man learn his duty
Let every man learn his Duty.
We frequently hear the disciples of Christ say, if we knew our duty we should be willing to observe it. It is an easy matter to obtain a knowledge of our duties, for God deals with us upon rational and intelligent principles, he condemns us not for what we knew not, but for what we know and observe not.
It is not reasonable to suppose, that we shall be judged by a law, that we have not, but inasmuch as we have a law given to us, and we do not seek every just and lawful opportunity to make ourselves acquainted with said law, we must not think to escape the penalties annexed to it, because we were not acquainted with it, when it was in our power to obtain a knowledge thereof.
Any person who is in possession of the bible, book of Mormon, and Book of Covenant, need not go through the streets and inquire what he must do to be saved: for these three Books contain the precepts and commandments of our blessed Redeemer: and inasmuch as any individual, who is in possession of these Books desires to know what to do to be saved. We answer study and practice the precepts contained in them, and peace and happiness, joy and satisfaction in the Holy Ghost, will be the consequence in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.
We frequently see individuals conducting in such a manner, that they themselves know will exclude them from the kingdom of heaven if they persist in their ways, but because of willfulness and bigotry, they would rather be excluded from the church of Christ than acknowledge facts and make amendments, and restitution to those whom they have injured. Stubbornness, willfulness and tradition is what excludes or hinders men from coming into the kingdom of God and not ignorance. Know ye not, that he who has no understanding it remaineth with God to do with them as seemeth him good. If God has created a being and has not given it intelligence would he be just to condemn it upon the same principle, that he would one whom he had endowed with intelligence? no; for an individual, or nation that has no law given to them, become a law unto themselves. But the law by which God judges idiots he has not revealed to us: we can only judge from the principle upon which he has said that he would judge the world, and that is upon the principle of testimony; for God never condemned a nation until he had warned them of what should come upon them, for instance he sent Noah a preacher of righteousness, to warn the generation in which he lived, that they should repent of their sins, or he would send the floods upon them, and destroy them. And for a proof of that fact, God gave commandment to Noah to build an ark: but that generation laughed Noah to scorn, and gave no heed to the testimony which God was pleased to give them: They still endeavored to justify themselves, and persisted in their own ways & did as seemed them good: but after God had warned them sufficiently, he brought the floods upon them as he had declared to them, by the mouth of Noah.
In the days of Moses, we have another beautiful sample of the dealings of God with the human family. God raised up Moses to deliver his people out of bondage, for the cry of oppression came up into the ears of the Lord of Sabbaoth, and he remembered the covenant which he had made with Abraham, that he would bring him up out of the land of Egypt. Therefore he sent Moses, and showed fort his power to Pharioh [Pharaoh] of Egypt, by small means, but he would not let the children of Israel go, until the first born of Egypt were slain: notwithstanding he had shown testimony after testimony, and the power of God exerted, time after time, in the deliverance of his people, yet Pharioh [Pharaoh] could not believe the testimonies that were sent from the Lord, but followed the children of Israel until he found himself and army, overwhelmed in the midst of the Red Sea: and thus God triumphed gloriously: and his people were delivered from bondage.
And again, look at Mordicai [Mordecai] for a sample it you please of the interposition of the power of God in the deliverance of the poor, meek, and oppressed. The Lord has always interposed when his people had suffered enough, and will he not do so again? yes verily, inasmuch as his saints became sufficiently meek.
After God had wrought so great a deliverance for the children of Israel, it was not long before they rebelled against him, and murmured against Moses, until he (God) was angry with them and slew many of them in the wilderness. Because of wickedness, hardness of heart, and unbelief the children of Israel were scattered to the four winds of heaven: no doubt but many would say in those days, as in our day, if I knew the will of God, I would observe it? This presupposes that a man does not believe what is written. Now if the Protestants, can be saved, when they have the bible only, do you not suppose that a Latter Day Saint can be saved with the bible, book of Mormon, and Book of Covenants. Yes verily, the only difficulties are in observing the precepts contained in them, and believing that they are what they purport to be.
The Book of Covenants, shows what a man must do, to become a fit subject for baptism; and after he is baptized, it shows him how he is to receive the Holy Ghost, and what he is to do on the Sabbath day, to please his heavenly Father, &c. &c.
We have sample after sample, in holy writ giving line upon line, and precept upon precept, and knowledge upon knowledge, until God in his providence has again established his church, and has commenced to fulfil his promises which he has made to our forefathers. To bring about this great work, it behooved the Creator of all good, to make known to his children the plan of salvation: and while he did this, he also commenced to fulfill what he had caused to be spoken by the mouths of his holy prophets, we read: And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. If John saw an angel fly through the midst of heaven, &c. when at the same time the gospel was committed to himself and others, why could they not promulgate it as well as the angel. The fact is, John saw things past, present, and to come, and after so many generations have passed away, the time at length arrived, when the angel should commit the gospel to be preached to the children of men. If not so let the world begin to look for an angel to fly through the midst of heaven—commissioned to preach the gospel, a stranger sight than the book of Mormon: and we presume would have no more followers or believers; for if the inhabitants of the earth would not believe the Savior, no marvel that they will not believe the book of Mormon.
The work of the Lord has been despised in all ages and generations; and wickedness, rebellion, and unbelief is a predominant evil among the inhabitants of the earth. We might ask why did not the Jews believe that Jesus was the Christ? One reason is, he did not come in the attitude of a King or Monarch, through the royal blood, but he came in a humiliating manner, and was cradled in a manger, and this was beneath the dignity of the highminded pharisees; they could not receive a Messiah, who came in so humble a posture. Because of their self—righteousness they mistook his first coming and supposed that he was then coming to restore the house of Israel according to the prediction of the prophets. This is brought to our understanding when we read some of the questions asked by his disciples: "When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Isra-el? And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times, or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." The disciples knew that the kingdom of Israel must be restored, therefore, they asked whether the time had arrived, but he gave no descisive [decisive] answer.
It is marvelous in our eyes, to look on this generation and behold them with all their knowledge and sagacious minds, ready to say, if the book of Mormon had come forth by Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, John Q. Adams, or some of the Reverend D. D's. in our generation, then it would be received with all faith and patience in humble submission to these men, but of the Lord it cannot be received with a heart of gratitude, because he is not so much esteemed by them. However this proves the sayings of the Savior to be true: Not many noble, not many wise are chosen.
But to become sanctified by truth, we must learn what it is, and after we have learned it, we must obey it. And here is the difficulty: every man seeks his own convenience, for this reason the ordinances are changed, the law is broken, and the inhabitants of the earth have become corrupt. But the Lord informs us by the mouth of Isaiah, when speaking of the restoration of the house of Israel: And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: And I will restore thy judges as at the first and thy counsellors as at the beginning: Afterward thou shalt be called the City of righteousness, the faithful City. Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, [that is with wisdom, prudence, discretion &c.] and her converts with righteousness; [that is by sanctifying themselves and obeying the truth &c.]
As we have before said, so say we again, any individual with the bible, book of Mormon, and Book of Covenants in his hand need not be asking what he shall do to be saved, for it is plainly written in them; that every man shall receive according as his work shall be. Now if a man or woman, lies, swears, steals, commits adultery, or delights in the vain things of this world, such as pride, lust of the eye or flesh, do they not know that this is derogatory to the precepts contained in these Books; and if they persist in those things, they need not marvel if they find themselves shut out from the presence of God in a day to come. We can only say, inasmuch as you will keep the commandments of God, it will be well with you, and inasmuch as you keep them not you must suffer the consequence; every man must be his own judge, in matters of religion: deny a man this privilege, and his agency is destroyed, and he is miserable at once: For the freedom of the soul and liberty of conscience, are two principles that are dear to every man, and when taken from him, will sink him in despondency.
Therefore for this purpose the all Wise Creator put forth his hand and caused the constitution of these United States to be formed in such a manner, that his work might commence and flourish, without infringing upon other men's rights, or his children being molested in theirs, inasmuch as these laws are observed: for God rules in the heavens above and in the earth beneath.