November 7, 2007

"Never deny the faith in a dark day"

Jedediah M. Grant January 27, 1856 Almost ten years after entering the Salt Lake Valley to establish their new Zion community, the Saints still faced drought, famine, crickets, poor weather and other trials to their faith in the new location. This sermon gives us an interesting insight into what a Latter-day Saint might hear on Sunday at Church in 1856 Utah. The Church leadership was becoming aware of religious apathy on the part of many saints, much of which was likely caused by the physical conditions of the time. While addressing the impending crisis the saints were facing, President Grant asked the saints to avoid casting judgment on others as they faced the difficult times together:

I hope the Saints will treasure up the remarks they have heard to-day, and profit by them. I am satisfied that we should bear with each other weaknesses, for we are ourselves subject to the same infirmities as our brethren; we are subject to the same temptations as those who are similar in their nature; we should, therefore, be willing to look with the same complacency on the weaknesses of others, as we would wish them to look upon ours.
He encouraged the saints to remember to call on God for support. The hard-working pioneers may have had a tendency to rely too much on their own efforts:
I am aware of the feelings that exist in the community through darkness and unbelief; many neglect their duty as Saints, and they grow dark in their minds.
I have doubts of that man who neglects his prayers, and I have also doubts of some who attend to their prayers. I have great doubts of those who profess to be Saints, have all the privileges of Saints, and participate in the enjoyments of Saints, yet do not consider that the duty of prayer is obligatory on them.
They think they can have around them, their wives, and children, and friends, and engage in the duties of life and take great responsibility upon them, and yet slide along and lay aside their duty as a Saint of God in regard to praying.
If a person is in trouble, or in want, he should seek unto the Lord by prayer, and obtain from Him aid, assistance, and light, and by that Divine Spirit he may overcome his weakness, break through the cloud of darkness, and walk in the light of the Lord.
President Grant admonished the Bishops of the Church to look after the poor, and the saints to be frugal with their food usage. He spoke encouragingly, reminding the saints that things could be worse, and that the current conditions would improve. He believed the saints would learn from their temporal trials. Additionally, he viewed the current situation as a way to keep the saints isolated for a little while longer:
I for one am glad that our crops failed. Why? Because it teaches the people a lesson, it keeps the corrupt at bay, for they know that they would have to starve, or import their rations, should they come to injure us in the Territory of Utah.
In the middle of that particular thought he made an outstanding remark; giving the secret to avoiding apostasy:
I do not look for much trouble myself; I do not look for the people to suffer as they did the first winter we came here. The winter is cold and the cattle are dying, but ere long the weather will break, the people will get employment, and feel better. Do not be discouraged in a hard time, be patient until spring comes, when you will feel pleasant and happy, and then is the time to deny the faith, if you are inclined to do so; never deny the faith in a dark day.
Just doing one's duty can carry a person through the difficult times. The dark days are ahead; the "mists of darkness" mentioned in Lehi's dream affected those holding to the rod as much as anyone else. Heber C. Kimball emphasized the same point, and recommended we be submissive to God:
I expect to see close times, and so will you. I expect to see scores of you take the back track, that is, many of you will deny the faith. Why do I say this? Because you do not do right; you do not all keep the commandments of God; you do not all pray and humble yourselves in the hands of the Lord, like clay in the hands of the potter. You are not all subject to the authorities, whom the Lord has placed to counsel and direct you. For this reason, many are losing the good Spirit and are going into darkness (Journal of Discourses 3:253-254).

No comments:

Post a Comment

All views are welcome when shared respectfully. Use a name or consistent pseudonym rather than "anonymous." Deletions of inflammatory posts will be noted. Thanks for joining the conversation.