October 30, 2007

Take a Home Mission

Amasa Lyman December 2, 1955 Yesterday's post, Elder Lyman set the stage for the discussion of two classes of men, those who endure to the end and those who don't. (I should add there are many shades in between, but we'll focus on the two most obvious extremes.) The first class of men receive a true testimony, become converted, and see the gospel as worth everything. The second class end up seeing the gospel as useless. The first class gathers to Zion because he has become like Zion (pure in heart,) the second departs or avoids Zion:

You can readily see, then, how the kingdom of God must be built up in the soul of every individual; Zion must be developed there. What is Zion? It is the pure in heart, so says the revelation. Do you suppose you are going to build up the kingdom of God until the perfection of purity and truth is developed in the hearts of the people of that kingdom? No. You may gather them together by thousands, and tens of thousands, until the concourse swell the congregation in Zion to millions, and what will it amount to until this principle is developed in them?

There will be a corresponding stream of apostasy flowing out, at the same time, at the back door. What is the reason? Simply because this principle is wanted, this important part of the Gospel is omitted, if it has ever been thought of; its harmonizing influences are not felt through the sphere of man's being; his interests are at war with the interests of Zion; he runs after some fanciful notion that is at war with the kingdom of God. He cares not for it, he would exchange it for a piece of bread and cheese, for a farm, or for the glittering treasure of the world. Why, because the principle is not in the heart, that causes him to estimate the real value of the gem which he rejects; he considers it worth but a trifle, consequently he will barter away his chance for it, for a trifle. That is the way men act for "Mormonism." We are going to build up the kingdom of God, and compass sea and land to tell the erring sons of earth the Gospel, and testify that the Lord has set His hand again to build up the kingdom...

By going forth to build the Kingdom, Amasa speaks of missionary work. We must hear and learn the truth in order to accept it, then once we have the truth we'll communicate, and if the truth, or light, is in us, we will not go astray. It not only leads us to love others, it also prevents personal apostasy and discontent:
The light must be in the soul before its benefit can be realized. We have heard our teacher tell us that two and two make four; if we had never heard anything else, if this was all that had been connected with it, would we ever have comprehended the principle? No. The comprehension of it must exist in a man's mind. It must be in the centre of his being, a fountain of light, and consequently of life and glory, from which fountain should proceed life and truth until it is diffused throughout his whole being, until all his affections are sanctified, and his judgment corrected. This [true knowledge] would fix in the soul a principle of contentment that would wear out hardship and toil, and outlive them, and shed the light of peace and harmony throughout the whole field of a man's being and operations in life. He would be contented all the time. Would such a man ever apostatize? No. Was a contented man ever known to apostatize? No. I never saw an apostate yet, but could tell me of some dissatisfied desire that caused him to apostatize.
Amasa told the saints to examine themselves to see which class of men they belong to:
Then if you feel discontented you may know one thing, that you are not as you should be, that you have not within you the principle that should reign there, to influence, govern, and control you; that should dictate your course, and give shape to your actions. I want you to remember this, and become philosophers, and examine yourselves, establish an inquisition at home, within the circle you should control, over that little empire over which each of you should rule, and learn whether the love of truth is reigning there, or gathering strength each day.
Sometimes we are impressed by the growth of the Church, but Elder Lyman wanted the saints to know the most important growth wasn't that of the Church, but their own personal growth:
Then how is the cause of God advanced? Just as fast as those principles are being developed in the people. That tells her strength, power, and durability. If it is not the love of the truth that binds the people of God together, that holds them firmly round the great centre from which they cannot be induced to take their departure, and for which there is no feeling of the soul but would exert its influence to the fullest extent to bind them to it, then what is it? Who is it? It is not Brigham Young and his associates. It is no man or set of men that binds the Saints to the truth, that holds them together, and that maintains the rule and supremacy of the authority of God on the earth, but it is the principle of truth and the love of it developed in the hearts of the people, and the influence it exerts over them. Do the people appreciate it? I do not think they do fully, or to a very great extent… They suppose, with all the strength of the authorities of this kingdom, aided by the strength of God, they have as much as they can do to hold the people together. Such people make no calculation on the influence and strength of truth, but on the influence of frail man, or on the influence of a set of mortals like themselves, who enjoy more of the light of inspiration than they. Does the Lord tell us this? We know He has said it is His business to provide for His Saints. What does He require of you and me? Simply, enough to save ourselves. Says one, "I supposed I had to save nearly half the world to become great in the kingdom of God." If you are able to save yourselves, you will do first rate, because you will get all the reward you need-all that will make you happy, and an abundant entrance will be administered unto you into the everlasting kingdom of God, and to the enjoyment of every thing that is requisite to your happiness. They would not ask you in that state whether you have saved one, two, a hundred, or a hundred thousand souls besides yourself. "What, and I sent you to preach for them?" Why, to save yourself. And the reason why a great many of our Traveling Elders apostatize, and now mingle with that class of sinners, is simply because they fail to apply the principles to themselves which they recommend to others.

We all run the risk of failing to apply the principles we have thus far espoused, and even preached. It is vital that we live these principles in order to keep the influence of the Spirit with us to keep from being led astray. Elder Lyman again recommended all the Saints examine themselves , he told them all to "take a home mission."
Suppose you all individually take a home mission, to examine yourselves, and institute that inquisition I have alluded to, into your own conduct and condition, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year. Is it not of importance that it should be set up? To keep this perishable body from starving, you would work day and night; is not the soul of man, that can never die, that must be happy or miserable for eternity, worth your notice? Go to work and examine yourselves for a short time each day, and see how you are getting on. Having made these few scattering remarks, just as they came into my mind, without study or arrangement, I will forbear. If I have said anything wrong, I have no objections that you forget it; I hope you may; and what I have said that is right, I would like you to remember, because I am interested in having you remember it; and in having this people with the Saints everywhere, become a pure, a great and good people, because I am interested in the building up of the kingdom of God, and wherever that people and the interest of the kingdom is represented, there is my interest. And I hope when we have wound up the little routine of duties assigned us here, we shall have secured to ourselves that wealth that shall be to us worth all sublunary considerations, and remain when they have passed away. That we may all obtain this, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Kristen said...

Really great post, but how sad that Amasa ended up in a group other than one where men understood what they had. I'm not in the first group, if I were I'd do much more than I do. Regrettable though, that Lyman didn't live by his inspiring words.

He hit it on the head, explaining why people leave the truth. It may be masked by a concern, laziness, an offense, but the heart of the issue is "the principle is not in the heart, that causes him to estimate the real value of the gem which he rejects".

And I really love this part: It is no man or set of men that binds the Saints to the truth, that holds them together, and that maintains the rule and supremacy of the authority of God on the earth, *but it is the principle of truth and the love of it developed in the hearts of the people*, and the influence it exerts over them.

Sorry to copy and paste that whole exerpt, it was just so good. This explains exactly how I feel about what should be and is the factor keeping us as a church together.


Sherin Simon said...

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