October 29, 2007

The Day Star Arises In Your Heart

Amasa Lyman December 2, 1855 One of my favorite early apostles was the little-known Amasa Lyman.[1] His magnanimous sermons and years of service have likely been lost in time as a result of Amasa's apostasy and excommunication from the Church in 1867, even though he was posthumously reinstated by Joseph F. Smith in 1909. Incidentally, James E. Faust, former member of the First Presidency, was a great-great grandson of Amasa. Amasa, who was presiding over the saints in California, visited Salt Lake in December of 1855 where he made this address. He viewed his entire life as one long mission, in which he had served many different areas since he was first baptized. From the time of his conversion in 1833 until 1855 his understanding of the gospel had grown considerably:

With the years of experience that have added the contributions to the store of knowledge, I have been able to gain in the short time I have lived in the world, the subject seems to increase in its dimensions and in its extent. That which I thought I knew when I was but a boy-that I thought I understood-that I supposed in the vanity and ignorance of childhood I comprehended-I find in the mature years of manhood that I knew nothing about it, so far as the comprehension of the great truths of the Gospel, in their extent, are concerned.
Our understanding of the world, society, people, and even the gospel will grow through experience; we should always seek and be willing to accept further light and knowledge. Elder Lyman had come to understand the great comprehensiveness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; he said it "is connected with everything I can think about...There are no depths it does not reach; no heights it does not surmount; no extent which is not filled by it." He admitted he still did not comprehend all there was to comprehend about the gospel, and added that many of the saints have a long way to go in their understanding of the gospel. We expect to receive salvation through the gospel; to overcome sin and death and continue progressing when we return home to God. Often we emphasize the obedience required of us in our pursuit. When we are called to serve we go, and through service we can be converted. However, Elder Lyman explained that service alone cannot convert us:
One might calculate that all the good we expect to realize when we are saved, will be obtained, by doing in all things, as we are told to do, by fulfilling every requisition that is imposed upon us, and thereby securing the fullness of this salvation. What does this obedience lead people to? It leads them to go where they are required to go, and to stay where they may be required to stay; in fine, it leads them to perform every labor that is required at their hands in the building up of the kingdom of God, and the establishing of Zion... We find men crossing the desert, and the ocean, of their own free will; passing through all the contingencies of a journey of that kind; passing through privations, hardships, dangers, and evils that may hang around their path, because they have been commanded to do so... After a while we find those men who have traveled long and far, and suffered much; and what do they tell us? "Why, we have tried Mormonism for twenty years," and now what conclusion do they come to? To the conclusion, that is sometimes vulgarly expressed in this way -"We have not found Mormonism what it is cracked up to be-it has been misrepresented to us." This is simply because they have not realized all their expectations, and hopes, and have not been able to grasp the reward they were seeking after, and which they regarded as constituting the elements of happiness. So now, after twenty year's hard service, they are ready, as we say, to apostatize and go somewhere else to seek happiness, and leave "Mormonism" to go as it may go, to sink or swim. If toiling, and laboring, and suffering privations and hardships were sufficient to save men, and place within their possession the constituent principles of happiness to redeem them from evil, such men would have been redeemed very likely; such men would have been pure. But what does it prove? It simply proves, that if there is anything in a man's experience, in his toiling and labor, it is simply the facts that we see, the outward result that may be calculated, that flows from his labors, such as the building of houses, and cities.
Elder Lyman is saying we often can't tell- based alone upon what people do- whether or not they are really being converted to Christ. How can someone serve God for so long and remain unconverted?
Why is it? Is it because the Gospel is untrue; because He is not faithful that has promised? No. But it is simply because he has been looking where it is not, for the constituent principles of happiness where they do not exist and while he has been laboring and toiling he has failed to gather to himself a store of happiness as the reward of his toil. He supposed if he built this house, performed this mission, or discharged that duty, that this would give him salvation. Says one, "Is it not this which gives men salvation?" What does the Savior say? He once on a time defined what eternal life is; and that is what we all seek; that is the principle without which we as Latter-day Saints calculate that men cannot be happy and be saved in the kingdom of God, which is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
Christ defined eternal life as knowing God:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).
As King Benjamin taught, one way we come to know God is by serving others, thus, serving Him:
For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart? (Mosiah 5:13)
Conversion to Christ leading to eternal life is received by knowing God through service, but as Elder Lyman points out, simply going through the motions won't automatically lead to conversion; that service must be done with the proper goal in mind: the goal of loving God and loving one's fellow man. Motive matters[2]:
For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing (Moroni 7:6).
If we serve grudgingly we are profited nothing, and if we serve to be seen of men Christ tells us we have our reward: namely; we are seen of men (see Matthew 6). We need to serve with an "eye single to the glory of God," (see D&C 4:5) we must serve with faith in Christ. Elder Lyman, referring to Paul, said the Saints must emerge from darkness into light:
When a man is in darkness it is necessary he should have a candle, or some borrowed means of light to dissipate the darkness around him. How long? Until the day dawns, and the day star arises. Where? In this man's heart-in your neighbor's heart? No. But give heed unto the sure word of prophecy until the day dawns, and the day star arises in your heart. When the day dawns, we dispense with the light of the candle; when the day star arises in the heart, to use the language of the Apostle, it reflects its light there. Does it wear away? No, it is there continually. The Apostle chose that as a figure, that was as near something immutable and without change, probably, as anything that could occur to his mind, in selecting the dawn of day and the rising of the day star... [T]he great object of the Gospel, and the object of its being preached was the development of its light in the soul of those individuals that are to become heirs of salvation, the sons and daughters of God, who are to be clothed upon with the principles of truth with which God is clothed, that in the comprehension of truth, they may receive capacity to will and do and accomplish those things which are requisite to their happiness and exaltation.
Elder Lyman knew if this day star of testimony did not arise in the hearts of saints, they would soon view Mormonism as false:
And so long as this objective [of developing the light in one's soul] fails to be accomplished-so long the preaching of the Gospel has failed to accomplish its object, as far as those individuals are concerned... This is a point that Latter-day Saints should duly appreciate and consider; because if we do not [develop the light], the consequences are discontent in the mind and dissatisfaction; we shall quarrel with circumstances that are around us, we shall find fault, simply because we are not contented; and because the estimates we place upon truth, and the blessings conferred upon us, lead us to consider that they are not worth the labor we are required to bestow, the money or means we are required to give. The consequence is, we consider it a bad bargain, and we want to rue; and then as Latter-day Saints we apostatize-we quit it-we back out, saying, "We have not found Mormonism what it was cracked up to be."

Elder Lyman said other people receive the gospel, receive the light, and become converted so that they are willing to give everything they have for the gospel. While some men may think the gospel is worth his tithing, and nothing more,
...another man considers it worth everything; and more than everything of which he can entertain a perception. He would not refuse to pour out the last dollar; he will hunt the last corner of his pocket to get out the last farthing to give to it. And when it comes to his labor he would not stop to labor one day in ten, but ten whole days, and only wish there were more days to labor to accomplish more; because in so doing he is serving himself and enlarging his own interest, when he is seeking the interest of "Mormonism." Why so? Because he estimates it to be that that is universal in its extent, and intimately associated with every principle of the Gospel, in which the narrow conceptions of men are drowned, they are lost, submerged like a mote cast into the ocean. On taking this view, he does not stop at anything he can do. Does he stand back from pouring out his life's blood? No, but he pours it out as freely as water that glides down from the summit of the snow-clad hills to the valleys below. In what consists the difference between these two classes of men? It is in the estimate they place upon the value of "Mormonism." One class considers it worth what they gave for it, and the other considers it worth more than they can possible give.

These "two classes of men" are manifest in those who join the Church, those who remain in the Church, and those who leave the Church; tomorrow we'll see what Elder Lyman says about them.

Footnotes: [1] A convert resulting from the missionary labors of Orson Pratt, Amasa Lyman was baptized in 1832 and moved from New Hampshire to Hiram, Ohio. He was ordained an elder, then high priest, and by 1835 he was ordained as one of the original members of the Quorum of the Seventy. During this time he served several missions until 1838 when he joined the Prophet Joseph in Far West. There he participated in the Battle of Crooked River. In August of 1842 he was ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, replacing the estranged Orson Pratt- the missionary who had brought him into the Church. Five months later Pratt returned to full fellowship, displacing Lyman, who was subsequently set apart as an extra counselor in the First Presidency. After Joseph Smith was killed he again joined the Quorum of the Twelve in 1844 and subsequently made the trek west with the saints. He was sent to preside over the California saints for years, and sometimes returned to report on matters there and speak in conference. This sermon was preached on one of his return trips. [2] For more on motives and conversion, see The First Great Principle: Improvement.


Such a low expectation said...

well they totally deleted me at Mormon Apologetics and Discussion because their only ability to handle a well thought out debate to remove the debater. censorship at its finest.

ya see HF is too darn lazy to tell the prophet to grab a pen and paper to canonize one volume of pure perfect up-to-date God prioritized list of teachings. so church members settle for knowing that prophet speeches contain human imagination and HF can't do any better than a "pretty good" theology. that is denigrating HF to being less than a Perfectionist. A Perfectionist God would tell the current prophet which of his 200 speeches are fit for canonization, but no all 200 are classified as human imagination because no one is capable of telling which came from God and which came from fallible imagination. truly sad that you would expect so little of HF.

LifeOnaPlate said...

Sorry your account was deleted. I believe it is because you have been banned from the board before, right? Sock puppets are not allowed on those forums.

As for Heavenly Father being "lazy," that's a quality I don't attribute to Him. I don't expect God to only allow a prophet to say exactly what He says verbatim; the truth is we are in a fallen condition and don't even currently have the means to fully communicate the full truths of God as they really are. I have made a few posts on this subject before, you might be interested to check those out.
For example:
Thanks for stopping by the blog!

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