These chapters repeat the message that prevails throughout the Book of Mormon—there is no weapon that can prevail against the righteous, except their own unrighteousness.
In an effort to correct an error in relation to the word Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote the following letter to the editor of the Times and Seasons, an early Church publication:
“SIR:—Through the medium of your paper I wish to correct an error among men that profess to be learned, liberal and wise; and I do it the more cheerfully because I hope sober-thinking and sound-reasoning people will sooner listen to the voice of truth than be led astray by the vain pretensions of the self-wise.
“The error I speak of is the definition of the word ‘Mormon.’ It has been stated that this word was derived from the Greek word mormo. This is not the case. There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of the Lord, translated the Book of Mormon. . . .
“The word Mormon, means literally, more good” (in History of the Church, 5:399–400).
“Mormon does not provide us with very much information concerning his boyhood, but the scanty details he does provide indicate:
“1. He was born probably in A.D. 310 or 311. (He was about ten years of age in A.D. 321—see 4 Nephi 48 and Mormon 1:2.)
“2. He was a descendant of Nephi. (Mormon 1:5.)
“3. His father’s name was Mormon, and he was named after the land of Mormon. (Mormon 1:5 and 3 Nephi 5:12.)
“4. He was evidently born in the land northward. (Mormon 1:2, 6.)
“5. At the age of fifteen he was ‘visited of the Lord.’ (Mormon 1:15.)
“6. Despite his testimony of the divinity of Christ, he was ‘forbidden’ to preach repentance unto the wicked people. (Mormon 1:16.)
“7. In his ‘sixteenth year’ he was appointed leader of the Nephite armies, and he and his armies defended the Nephites from the Lamanites. (Mormon 2:2.)” (Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 298).
In detailing the commencement of the wars that led to the downfall of the Nephite nation, what did Mormon write about the spiritual condition of the Nephites and Lamanites? (see Mormon 1:13–14).
When the Nephites discovered that they could no longer prevail against their enemies, “there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land” (Mormon 2:11). Mormon, thinking his people were about to repent, took heart only to discover that “their sorrowing was not unto repentance, . . . but . . . rather the sorrowing of the damned” (v. 13). The people were beyond the state where they would repent. As Samuel said to the Nephites of an earlier day: “Your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure” (Helaman 13:38).
True repentance involves a proper sorrow for sins. A person can be sorry for the wrong reason. He can be sorry that he was caught and punished. He can regret his actions because they caused a loss of reputation. Or, like the Nephites, he can be sorry because his actions brought misery upon himself. However, such sorrow does not constitute true repentance.
When the Apostle Paul heard of some grievous sins being tolerated in the Church in Corinth, he wrote a sharp letter of reproof (see 1 Corinthians 5). Later word came back that the Saints had taken Paul’s letter in the proper spirit, and they had repented. Pleased, Paul wrote:
“Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:9–10).
Godly sorrow is the recognition that in sinning we have offended God and put our souls in jeopardy of spiritual death. Any other kind of sorrow is of the world and will not lead us to repentance. The sacrifice required of all Saints is that of “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20, D&C 59:8). Such a state of heart and mind is arrived at only through godly sorrow.
“When Ammaron turned the responsibility of the records over to Mormon, he indicated that Mormon should ‘engrave on the plates of Nephi all the things that [he] had observed concerning his people.’ (Mormon 1:4.) Thus Mormon’s major record of the events of his day was written on the large plates of Nephi. However, later in his life he was commanded by the Lord to make a separate set of plates, the plates of Mormon. He then abridged onto his own plates all of the writings from the large plates of Nephi, including his own writings. Concerning his writings on these two sets of plates, Mormon said: ‘And upon the plates of Nephi I did make a full account of all the wickedness and abominations; but upon these plates [the plates of Mormon] I did forbear to make a full account of their wickedness and abominations. . . .’ (Mormon 2:18.)
“Earlier in his writings, Mormon indicated he did not write on the plates of Mormon even one hundredth part of the things that were written on the large plates of Nephi. (3 Nephi 26:6–8.)” (Ludlow, Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 299–300).
We should strive to make our calling and election sure; that is, to so live that we receive assurance from the Lord that when this life is over we shall be exalted and dwell with him. Mormon received this blessing, as did other Nephite prophets (see Enos 1:27, Mosiah 26:20, 3 Nephi 28:3). Regarding his calling and election, Mormon said, “I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day” (Mormon 2:19).
How did Mormon arouse the Nephites “somewhat to vigor” (Mormon 2:24) so they could withstand the Lamanites? What sad comment did Mormon make regarding his people’s strength? (see v. 26).
When the Nephites “began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies” (Mormon 3:9), Mormon refused to command them anymore. Like Ether of an earlier day (see Ether 13:14, 15:33), Mormon began to “stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which [he] saw and heard” (Mormon 3:16). He had led the Nephites and had loved them, and had prayed earnestly for them “all the day long” (v. 12), but he refused to follow them into even greater wickedness.
Self-defense and vengeance are not the same. The Lord sometimes justifies his people in fighting to defend their homes and families from attack, but he does not justify offensive war. The Lord said, “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay” (v. 15). It is God who deals out retribution unto men. In taking the offensive, the Nephites went off to battle without the sanction of the Lord (see Mormon 4:4), which resulted in the eventual destruction of an entire nation.
Though Mormon couldn’t teach his people because of the hardness of their hearts, he tried to teach future readers to learn from history and avoid the terrible mistakes his people had made (see Mormon 3:17–22).
In a war of vengeance such as that described in Mormon 4, men lose the Spirit of the Lord in their thirst for bloody retribution. Mormon recorded seeing a “horrible scene of . . . blood and carnage . . . ; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually” (v. 11). This spirit promoted such wickedness never before found “among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord” (v. 12).
“Now if a nation essays to go forth against another nation for the purpose of conquest, to gain territory, to grasp something that does not belong to that nation, then the nation thus assailed has the right to resist even to the shedding of blood, as it was in this land in the war for independence. But we have to be careful as to what spirit we are guided by. . . . We Latter-day Saints must watch ourselves and not give way to passion and desire to shed blood and to destroy, for that is the power of the evil one. . . .
“. . . There is a very great difference between arising to go forth for conquest, for blood, for plunder, to gain territory and power in the earth, and in fighting to defend our own possessions in the spirit of justice and righteousness and equity, and standing up like men for those things that we have a right to contend for” (Charles W. Penrose, in Conference Report, Apr. 1917, pp. 21–22).
Mormon explained how the wicked are punished—the Lord merely withdraws and leaves the people to themselves, and the wicked punish one another (see Mormon 2:26, 4:5). Compare this with the prophetic comments in 1 Nephi 2:23 and Leviticus 26:25.
“In this crucible of wickedness the true greatness of Mormon shines like a star as he calls his son to action, telling him that no matter how bad things are, we must never stop trying to do what we can to improve matters, ‘for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay.’ (Moroni 9:6.) In this spirit Mormon took over command of the army even when he knew that all was lost, ‘. . . for they looked upon me as though I could deliver them from their afflictions. But behold, I was without hope. . . .’ (Mormon 5:1f.) His is the predicament of the true tragic hero: ‘. . . I had led them notwithstanding their wickedness . . . and had loved them . . . with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.’ (Mormon 3:12.) However it might appeal to our own age of violence, Mormon found little consolation in the fact that his people were wonderfully tough and proud of it—‘for so exceedingly do they anger that it seemeth to me that they have no fear of death.’ (Moroni 9:5.) ‘. . . they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.’ (Mormon 5:2.) They could take care of themselves, thank you—and they did” (Hugh W. Nibley, Since Cumorah: The Book of Mormon in the Modern World, pp. 437–38).
Mormon, like Captain Moroni, had no joy and found no glory in war. What do you think would have influenced Mormon to “repent” (Mormon 5:1) of his oath and assume command of the Nephite armies once again? Did he have any hope of victory? (see v. 2). Why not?
Mormon knew his record would come forth in the latter days (see v. 13). What did he say are the general purposes for the record’s latter-day appearance? (see vv. 14–15). Compare Mormon’s intentions with those of Moroni as recorded on the title page of the Book of Mormon.
Hugh W. Nibley adds the following possible insight into what the Nephite society may have been like at this time:
“The Nephites foolishly took the offensive and as a result lost both the land and the city of Desolation, ‘And the remainder did flee and join the inhabitants of the city of Teancum. . . .’ (Morm. 4:3) This makes it clear that we are still reading only of Mormon’s band of Nephites, and not a history of the whole nation, for the people of Teancum, which was ‘. . . in the borders by the seashore . . . near the city Desolation’ (Morm. 4:3) had up to then taken no part in the fighting. It must always be borne in mind that by this time the Nephite people had become broken up into ‘tribes,’ each living by itself and following its own tribal laws. (Hel. 7:2–4, 11.) So what Mormon gives us is only a sampling of the sort of thing that was going on. . . .
“. . . Here you have a clear picture of Nephite society. Separate ‘lands’ living their own lives, now in this last crisis terribly reluctant to move and join the swelling host in the retreat to the north. Those who refused to pull up stakes were one by one completely wiped out by the Lamanites. This was no planned migration but a forced evacuation, like dozens of such we read about in the grim and terrible times of the ‘Invasion of the Barbarians’ that destroyed the classic civilizations of the Old World. In this case Mormon’s people were only part of the general and gradual evacuation of the whole land” (An Approach to the Book of Mormon, pp. 361–62).
■ While there were no miracles among the people as a whole during this time, there were righteous individuals, Mormon being one (see Mormon 1:14–15). This suggests that no environment can become so corrupt that a private individual cannot have the sweet influence of the Holy Ghost. Yet, this divine influence could not benefit those around Mormon “because of the hardness of their hearts” (v. 17).
■ To receive a better understanding of the “idol gods” of the Lamanites (Mormon 4:14), look up the word idol in the Bible Dictionary. Review the list of references found under the word idolatry in the Topical Guide. You should be able to get a feeling for the great concern the prophets have had over this terrible practice, and how frequently it was a problem among the children of Israel.
Moroni saw us! Modern man does not see himself as well as Moroni was able to through the power of God. Moroni also saw a “sword of vengeance” (Mormon 8:41) hanging over our civilization as well as over his own.
In Mormon 6:10–15, Mormon recorded the number of dead in terms of his military leaders, each of whom commanded ten thousand men. What was the minimum number of people killed? The scene of carnage must have been one of inexpressible horror. What one thing could have prevented “this great destruction”? (v. 22).
Mormon’s lament as he viewed the slaughtered dead “from the top of the hill Cumorah” (v. 11) is one of those beautiful and moving pieces of literature found so often written by inspired men of God.
Mormon, knowing that his words would come forth in the last days, gave a special message to the Lamanites of our day. He called these people “the remnant of this people who are spared, . . . yea, . . . [a] remnant of the house of Israel” (Mormon 7:1). The Lamanites of today are descendants of great Book of Mormon leaders. They are, therefore, of the house of Israel. The following chart illustrates this point:
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Mormon said the Book of Mormon would help the Lamanites know about their fathers and of the marvelous works wrought among them, know that they are of the house of Israel, and know that if they believe in Christ, are baptized with water and the Spirit, and follow the Lord, they may inherit eternal life (see Mormon 7:9–10).
“Here Mormon says that one of the major purposes of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is to testify of the Bible, and he also states that if we honestly accept one of these scriptures, we will accept the other, for the two scriptures testify of each other. This is also the testimony of Brigham Young:
“‘No man can say that this book (laying his hands on the Bible) is true . . . and at the same time say that the Book of Mormon is untrue; . . . There is not that person on the face of the earth who has had the privilege of learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ from these two books, that can say that one is true, and the other is false. No Latter-day Saint, no man or woman, can say the Book of Mormon is true, and at the same time say that the Bible is untrue. If one be true, both are.’ (Journal of Discourses, 1:38.)” (Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 344).
The promise given by Moroni in Mormon 8:12 was also given by the Savior (see 3 Nephi 26:9–10). What must we do to receive “the greater things”? (v. 9).
The Lord’s commandment that no one was to use the plates to get gain was fulfilled in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. During his third appearance Moroni told Joseph that Satan would tempt Joseph to use the plates “for the purpose of getting rich” (Joseph Smith—History 1:46). Later, when Joseph went to the hill to obtain the plates, he was beset by conflicting emotions. The adversary sorely tempted him to desire the plates to relieve his family’s poor financial situation. When the Prophet attempted to get the plates he was forbidden to do so because, as Moroni stated, “You have not kept the commandments of the Lord” (in Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, p. 49). This lesson had a lasting impression on Joseph Smith as he more clearly saw how Satan was determined to stop the coming forth of this sacred record.
We do not have exhaustive information as to how the Book of Mormon was translated. Moroni tells us in Mormon 8:16 that it would be translated “by the power of God.” The Lord gave this same explanation when he said he gave Joseph Smith “power from on high, by the means which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon” (D&C 20:8). Joseph Smith said, “Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God” (History of the Church, 4:537).
In Mormon 8:17 Moroni assured us that if there were faults in this record, they were the faults of men. Nephi said the same thing in 2 Nephi 33:1, 11. In each of these examples, the faults or weaknesses were in reference to the author’s perceived inability to communicate in writing as fully as they would have liked to (see Ether 12:23–25).
What was the covenant in Mormon 8:23–25 that Moroni said the Lord would remember? (see Enos 1:16; D&C 10:46).
“The Book of Mormon was written for us today. God is the author of the book. It is a record of a fallen people, compiled by inspired men for our blessing today. Those people never had the book—it was meant for us. Mormon, the ancient prophet after whom the book is named, abridged centuries of records. God, who knows the end from the beginning, told him what to include in his abridgment that we would need for our day. Mormon turned the records over to his son Moroni, the last recorder; and Moroni, writing over 1,500 years ago but speaking to us today, states: ‘Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.’ (Morm. 8:35.) . . .
“As we read and teach, we are to liken the Book of Mormon scriptures unto us ‘that it might be for our profit and learning.’ (1 Ne. 19:23.)” (Ezra Taft Benson, in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, pp. 94–95; or Ensign, May 1975, pp. 63–64).
“There can be no salvation without repentance. A man cannot enter into the kingdom of God in his sins. It would be a very inconsistent thing for a man to come into the presence of the Father and to dwell in God’s presence in his sins. . . .
“I think there are a great many people upon the earth, many of them perhaps in the Church—at least some in the Church—who have an idea they can go through this life doing as they please, violating the commandments of the Lord and yet eventually they are going to come into his presence. They think they are going to repent, perhaps in the spirit world.
“They ought to read these words of Moroni: ‘Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him [Christ] under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws?’” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:195–96).
Note the evidence Moroni gave that bears witness to the miracles of God—the creation of heaven and earth (see Mormon 9:17), the creation of man (see v. 17), and the scriptural testimonies of the miracles of Jesus and the Apostles (see v. 18).
According to Moroni, why does God cease to perform miracles among men? (see v. 20).
Moroni closed his father’s record with the following counsel to latter-day readers:
“Moroni’s statement in Mormon 9:32–34 pertains to the plates of Mormon and does not necessarily pertain to the small plates of Nephi from which we get the first 132 pages in our present Book of Mormon. Concerning the script of the plates of Mormon, Moroni says: ‘. . . we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.’ (Mormon 9:32.) He seems to indicate in the following verse that the Nephites are still speaking a version of Hebrew, for he admits that ‘if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also.’ (Mormon 9:33.)” (Ludlow, Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 307).
In 1845 the Quorum of the Twelve issued a proclamation dealing in part with the restoration of the Lamanites to the knowledge of Christ:
“He [the righteous Lamanite] shall then be ordained, washed, anointed with holy oil, and arrayed in fine linen, even in the glorious and beautiful garments and royal robes of the high priesthood, which is after the order of the Son of God; and shall enter into the congregation of the Lord, even into the Holy of Holies, there to be crowned with authority and power which shall never end.
“The Spirit of the Lord shall then descend upon him, like the dew upon the mountains of Hermon, and like refreshing showers of rain upon the flowers of Paradise.
“His heart shall expand with knowledge, wide as eternity; and his mind shall comprehend the vast creations of his God, and His eternal purpose of redemption, glory, and exaltation, which was devised in heaven before the worlds were organized; but made manifest in these last days, for the fulness of the Gentiles, and for the exaltation of Israel.
“He shall also behold his Redeemer and be filled with his presence, while the cloud of his glory shall be seen in his temple” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:260).
■ What is Mormon mourning in Mormon 6:16–22? Is it simply death? Death itself is part of God’s plan and can be a blessing (see 2 Nephi 9:6, Alma 24, 26, D&C 42:46).
If the people of Ammon did not “look upon death with any degree of terror” (Alma 27:28) because of their hope in Christ and the resurrection, neither would Mormon. The people of Mormon were, however, justifiably terrified by death (see Mormon 6:7). Why? (see Alma 28:11, D&C 42:47).
■ In Mormon 9:3–5, Moroni taught of a punishment inflicted upon us by a consciousness of our guilt. Ironically, those who will suffer so terribly on the Judgment Day will in many cases be the arrogant who seemed so poised and self-assured during their mortal probation. In verse 6, Moroni pled with the people to “cry mightily” unto God (not a very arrogant thing to do) that they might become pure before the Judgment Day.
■ Moroni revealed two kinds of certainty that comprise faith.
First, Moroni said that miracles cease when people “know not the God in whom they should trust” (Mormon 9:20). Trust in God is essential to developing strong faith. This is not just a general trust. It is a personal trust in the Father and in his Son. The first principle of the gospel is to trust the Redeemer—his power and kindness, his laws and revelations, his wisdom and plans, his servants and the Church, and his victory over death and hell. Look up Trust in God in the Topical Guide, and find passages that focus on this ingredient of faith. How can you strengthen your trust in the Lord to the point of “doubting nothing”? (v. 21).
Second, Moroni said that our “firmness” (v. 28) needs to go beyond a simple belief in Christ to a resolve that we “will yield to no temptation” (v. 28). Moroni also said that we should “see that [we] do all things in worthiness” (v. 29); therefore, another key to having strong faith is being fully resolved to be worthy. If we want to measure our faith, we can ask ourselves if we are firmly determined to be absolutely worthy.
Perhaps no man with greater faith than that of the brother of Jared has ever walked the earth. As you study his life, you will learn of the blessings that come when such remarkable faith is exhibited.
The treasures Lehi found in the brass plates (see 1 Nephi 5:10–14) are paralleled in the book of Ether. The genealogy is included in the book of Ether in typical fashion of the ancients. Notice, however, that there seems to be gaps in the father-son lineages (“descendant” is used instead of “son” in Ether 1:6, 16, 23). Even then, there are at least thirty generations recorded. If we take forty years as a rough estimate of a generation, then the Jaredite history spanned at least twelve hundred years, perhaps many more, since some people after the Flood lived longer than we think of as normal today, and also because of the missing generations. We know that the Jaredite colony came to the promised land after the Flood, somewhere around 2200–2100 B.C. , and existed for at least some time after the Lehi colony arrived, 600 B.C. and later. Thus they probably lived here at least fifteen hundred years.
The actual name of the brother of Jared is not given in the scriptures. However, George Reynolds relates the following account which indicates that the brother of Jared’s name was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
“While residing in Kirtland Elder Reynolds Cahoon had a son born to him. One day when President Joseph Smith was passing his door he called the Prophet in and asked him to bless and name the baby. Joseph did so and gave the boy the name of Mahonri Moriancumer. When he had finished the blessing he laid the child on the bed, and turning to Elder Cahoon he said, the name I have given your son is the name of the brother of Jared; the Lord has just shown [or revealed] it to me. Elder William F. Cahoon, who was standing near heard the Prophet make this statement to his father; and this was the first time the name of the brother of Jared was known in the Church in this dispensation” (“The Jaredites,” Juvenile Instructor, 1 May 1892, p. 282 n.).
Compare Ether 2:1–12 to 1 Nephi 17:36–38. The promise found in these verses holds true of those nations that presently inhabit North and South America. Either the people serve the God of the land or they too will eventually be swept off by the judgments of the Lord (see Ether 2:10–12).
President Marion G. Romney shared an experience he had which relates to the Lord’s promise in Ether 2:10:
“In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the ‘hill Cumorah.’ (Morm. 6:6.) On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation.
“You who are acquainted with the Book of Mormon will recall that during the final campaign of the fratricidal war between the armies led by Shiz and those led by Coriantumr ‘nearly two millions’ of Coriantumr’s people had been slain by the sword; ‘two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.’ (Eth. 15:2.)
“As the conflict intensified, all the people who had not been slain—men ‘with their wives and their children’ (Eth. 15:15)—gathered about that hill Cumorah (see Eth. 15:11). . . .
“Thus perished at the foot of Cumorah the remnant of the once mighty Jaredite nation, of whom the Lord had said, ‘There shall be none greater . . . upon all the face of the earth.’ (Eth. 1:43.)
“As I contemplated this tragic scene from the crest of Cumorah and viewed the beautiful land of the Restoration as it appears today, I cried in my soul, ‘How could it have happened?’
“The answer came immediately as I remembered that some fifteen to twenty centuries before their destruction, as the small group of their ancestors was being divinely led from the tower of Babel, the Lord ‘would that they should come forth even unto [this] land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people. . . .’ (Eth. 2:7–10.)
“Pursuant to this decree concerning the land of America, the Jaredites were swept off in the manner we have reviewed, because, rebelling against the laws of Jesus Christ—the God of the land—they ‘ripened in iniquity.’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1975, pp. 51–53; or Ensign, Nov. 1975, pp. 35–36).
“This unparalleled book should intrigue navigators: unprecedented land treks near-unbelievable in length, scope, and hazard are chronicled and ocean crossings, and the circling of the world centuries before the Vikings—crossings fraught with all the dangers imaginable, including storms, hidden reefs, hurricanes, and even mutiny. This first recorded ocean crossing was about forty centuries ago, of seaworthy, ocean going vessels without known sails, engines, oars, or rudders—eight barges like and near contemporary with Noah’s ark, long as a tree, tight as a dish, peaked at the end like a gravy boat, (see Ether 2:17) corked at top and bottom, illuminated by molten stones (see ibid., 2:20, 3:1 ff.), perhaps with radium or some other substance not yet rediscovered by our scientists. Light and like a fowl upon the water, this fleet of barges was driven by winds and ocean currents, landing at a common point in North America probably on the west shores” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Apr. 1963, pp. 63–64).
Elder Harold B. Lee applied the experience of the brother of Jared to our own lives:
“The Lord gave to the brother of Jared, that great prophet, a blueprint of the ships that he was to construct, by which he was to take his people across large bodies of water to a promised land. As he surveyed these and began to build, he faced two problems: (1) no provision was made for ventilation and (2) there was no light. The ventilation problem was solved rather simply by having holes at proper places that could be opened and closed; but the matter of light was one that he could not quite solve. So the brother of Jared cried to the Lord, saying, ‘. . . behold, I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?’ (Eth. 2:22.)
“Notice how the Lord dealt with this question. He said to the brother of Jared, ‘What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?’ (Eth. 2:23.)—as much as to say, ‘Well, have you any good ideas? What would you suggest that we should do in order to have light?’ And then the Lord said, ‘For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed to pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.
“‘For behold, you shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.’ (Eth. 2:23–24.)
“Then the Lord went away and left him alone. It was as though the Lord were saying to him, ‘Look, I gave you a mind to think with, and I gave you agency to use it. Now you do all you can to help yourself with this problem; and then, after you’ve done all you can, I’ll step in to help you.’
“The brother of Jared did some thinking. Then he gathered up sixteen stones, molten out of rock, and carried them in his hands to the top of the mount called Shelam, where he cried unto the Lord, ‘O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have been evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.’ (Eth. 3:2.)
“Now, what is he doing? He is confessing his sins before he asks again. He has come to the conclusion that before he is worthy to seek a blessing he must keep the basic laws upon which the blessings he seeks are predicated.
“Then he says, ‘Behold, O Lord, [I know that] thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity, and hast driven us forth, and for these many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, thou hast been merciful to us. O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people. . . .’ (Eth. 3:3.) The brother of Jared is confessing the sins of the people, because the blessing he wants is not just for himself; it is for his whole people. Having done all that he knew how to do, he came again with a specific request and said: [Eth. 3:4–6.]
“This is the principle in action. If you want the blessing, don’t just kneel down and pray about it. Prepare yourselves in every conceivable way you can in order to make yourselves worthy to receive the blessing you seek” (“How to Receive a Blessing from God,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1966, pp. 862–63, 896).
The prayer of the brother of Jared shows that he possessed a sound understanding of the character and attributes of God. One of the attributes that the brother of Jared mentions is that God “hast all power” (Ether 3:4). It may have been the brother of Jared’s faith in this attribute of God that enabled him to ask God to illuminate the stones. Nephi, the son of Lehi, possessed a similar understanding which increased his faith that God could deliver the brass plates into his hands (see 1 Nephi 4:1–3).
In Ether 3:15 the Lord informed the brother of Jared, “Never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast.” President Joseph Fielding Smith offers the following explanation for this passage:
“It is true that the Savior appeared to the prophets before the flood, but it is evident that he did not reveal himself in the fulness as he did to the Brother of Jared. Talking ‘face to face,’ as stated in this revelation, does not mean that the Lord did not appear in a cloud; or, that his body was partially hidden from the view of the prophet. All of this could occur and yet the Lord still be partially, if not completely, hidden from the prophet’s view. The great difference rests in this, which the conversation of the Lord with the Brother of Jared clearly indicates: The Savior was conversing with the Brother of Jared in person, yes, evidently face to face, yet the Lord was hidden by a veil. The Brother of Jared knew that the Lord was there, but evidently he did not understand that the Lord had a body apparently of flesh and bones. Through his great faith he was able to see the finger of the Lord when the Lord touched the stones. So astonished did the prophet become that he fell to the earth in fright, fearing that the Lord might strike him. Receiving the assurance that all was well the following conversation occurred:
“‘And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?
“‘And he answered: Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.
“‘And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?
“‘And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.’ [Ether 3:9–12.]
“Then the Lord revealed to him his entire body, and then he said:
“‘And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
“‘Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.’ [Ether 3:15–16.]
“So the Savior showed to the Brother of Jared his entire body just as it would appear when he dwelt among men in the flesh.
“It is a reasonable conclusion for us to reach, and fully in accordance with the facts, that the Lord had never before revealed himself so completely and in such a manner. We may truly believe that very few of the ancient prophets at any time actually beheld the full person of the Lord” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:124–25).
“King Mosiah possessed ‘two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow,’ called by the Nephites Interpreters, with which he translated the Jaredite record, and these were handed down from generation to generation for the purposes of interpreting languages. How Mosiah came into possession of these two stones or Urim and Thummim the record does not tell us, more than to say that it was a ‘gift from God.’ [Mosiah 21:28.] Mosiah had this gift or Urim and Thummim before the people of Limhi discovered the record of Ether. They may have been received when the ‘large stone’ was brought to Mosiah with engravings upon it, which he interpreted by the ‘gift and power of God.’ [Omni 1:20–21.] They may have been given to him, or to some other prophet before his day, just as the Brother of Jared received them—from the Lord.
“That the Urim and Thummim, or two stones, given to the Brother of Jared were those in the possession of Mosiah appears evident from Book of Mormon teachings. The Brother of Jared was commanded to seal up his writings of the vision he had when Christ appeared to him, so that they could not be read by his people. This vision was recorded in a language which was confounded, for it was not to go forth until after the resurrection of Christ. The Urim and Thummim were also sealed up so that they could not be used for the purpose of interpreting those sacred writings of this vision, until such time as the Lord should grant to man to interpret them. When they were to be revealed, they were to be interpreted by the aid of the same Urim and Thummim. [Ether 3:21–28.]” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:223–24).
The brother of Jared and Nephi, the son of Lehi, were both given foreknowledge of the book of Revelation found in our present Bible (see Ether 4:16, 1 Nephi 14:18–28). The sealed portion of the gold plates evidently describes the same general things and thus will help us more fully understand John’s revelation (see 2 Nephi 27:7).
Moroni possessed “the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim” (D&C 27:5). In Ether 5 Moroni addresses the prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith, even though nearly sixteen centuries would elapse before Joseph Smith would read his words.
“In the course of the work of translation, we ascertained that three special witnesses were to be provided by the Lord, to whom He would grant that they should see the plates from which this work (the Book of Mormon) should be translated; and that these witnesses should bear record of the same, as will be found recorded, . . . [Book of Ether, chapter 5, verses 2, 3 and 4 . . . ], . . . [II Nephi, chapter 11, verse 3 . . . ]. Almost immediately after we had made this discovery, it occurred to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and the aforementioned Martin Harris (who had come to inquire after our progress in the work) that they would have me inquire of the Lord to know if they might not obtain of him the privilege to be these three special witnesses; and finally they became so very solicitous, and urged me so much to inquire that at length I complied; and through the Urim and Thummim, I obtained of the Lord for them [the revelation recorded in D&C 17]” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 1:52–53).
■ Why do you think Moroni included his abridgment of the Jaredite writings in his record? (see Mosiah 28:17–18).
■ What does the sealed portion of the gold plates contain? (see Ether 4:4–5, 2 Nephi 27:7).
■ When will we have access to the teachings from the sealed portion of the plates? (see Ether 4:6–7).
In all our study of mankind, we have never found Satan resting. Among the Jaredites we find his influence as determined and vicious as at any other time.
The people of Israel, like the people of Jared, suddenly wanted to change to a monarchial form of government. The prophet Samuel, who was the judge or ruler over Israel, was saddened by his people’s request. But the Lord revealed the real problem when he told Samuel, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7). Then the Lord told Samuel to give in to their request after warning them of the consequences of their wishes (see v. 9).
When the Jaredites wanted a king, the brother of Jared warned them: “Surely this thing leadeth into captivity” (Ether 6:23). King Mosiah also commented on the potential dangers of kings (see Mosiah 29:16–24).
The brother of Jared said that having a king would lead to captivity, and he was right. Kib, and later his son Shule, were taken captive by rivals. The following genealogical chart illustrates this part of the early Jaredite history. Notice how short the time was between the brother of Jared’s prophecy and its fulfillment.
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Much Jaredite history is covered rapidly in this part of the book of Ether. In abridging the history, Moroni told only the highlights of hundreds of years of events. He emphasized the parallels with his own people and the lessons that would be most valuable for our time.
Moroni paused in his rapid summary of Jaredite history to recount in great detail the instituting of secret combinations among these people. Moroni did so because these organizations caused the entire downfall of both the Jaredite and the Nephite societies (see Ether 8:21); and unless we repent, secret combinations will cause the downfall of society in our own time (see vv. 23–25).
Verse 9 indicates that the Jaredites learned about secret combinations from records that their fathers had brought with them from the old world. It is possible these records contained an account of the earliest secret combinations (see Moses 5:29–33, 47–55), for we know that the Jaredites had records of the “creation of the world, and also of Adam, and an account from that time even to the great tower” (Ether 1:3).
The plan by which Jared’s daughter proposed to help secure the kingdom for her father indicates how evil persons can take advantage of human weakness. Jared’s daughter was well aware of her personal beauty, as well as Akish’s desire for her. In her anxiety to help her father get power and gain she was willing to participate in an evil plot.
Notice that Akish, in binding his supporters to be faithful to him in all that he desired, compelled them to swear unto him “by the God of heaven, and also by the heavens” (Ether 8:14). In this way Akish invested his evil work with a sort of moral sanctity. This oath is precisely what Satan demanded of Cain in making the original secret combination: “Swear unto me,” said Satan, “by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God” (Moses 5:29).
“When the Jaredite Akish seeking to seize the throne, administered the oath to his supporters with fair promises, it was not by the devil but ‘by the God of heaven’ that they swore. (Ether 8:13–17.) But God did not approve, ‘for the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all in the sight of God. For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it from the beginning of man.’ (Ether 8:19.)” (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah: The Book of Mormon in the Modern World, pp. 405–6).
In Ether 8:18–22 we learn four important things:
This last item is an important point to remember—to flourish, secret combinations need the support of the people.
Moroni said he was “commanded to write” (Ether 8:26) the things he did. As Moroni did so, three special warnings to the Gentiles emerged:
Elder Ezra Taft Benson spoke concerning Moroni’s warning:
“Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon was the ‘keystone of our religion’ and the ‘most correct’ book on earth. [History of the Church, 4:461.] This most correct book on earth states that the downfall of two great American civilizations came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people. ‘And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking,’ says Moroni, ‘and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.’ (Eth. 8:21.)
“Now undoubtedly Moroni could have pointed out many factors that led to the destruction of the people, but notice how he singled out the secret combinations, just as the Church today could point out many threats to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work, but it has singled out the greatest threat as the godless conspiracy. There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon—it is a conspiracy fact.
“Then Moroni speaks to us in this day and says, ‘Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you. . . .’ (Eth. 8:24.)
“The Book of Mormon further warns that ‘whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold they shall be destroyed. . . .’ (Eth. 8:22.)
“This scripture should alert us to what is ahead unless we repent, because there is no question but that as people of the free world, we are increasingly upholding many of the evils of the adversary today. By court edict godless conspirators can run for government office, teach in our schools, hold office in labor unions, work in our defense plants, serve in our merchant marines, etc. As a nation, we are helping to underwrite many evil revolutionaries in our country.
“Now we are assured that the Church will remain on the earth until the Lord comes again—but at what price? The Saints in the early days were assured that Zion would be established in Jackson County, but look at what their unfaithfulness cost them in bloodshed and delay.
“President [J. Reuben] Clark [Jr.] warned us that ‘we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and once lost, we of this church will, in order to keep the Church going forward, have more sacrifices to make and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known. . . .’ [in Conference Report, Apr. 1944, p. 116.] And he stated that if the conspiracy ‘comes here it will probably come in its full vigor and there will be a lot of vacant places among those who guide and direct, not only this government, but also this Church of ours.’ [in Conference Report, Apr. 1952, p. 80.]” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, p. 51; or Ensign, July 1972, pp. 60–61).
Moroni mentioned in Ether 9:3 that Omer and his family passed by the place where the Nephites were later destroyed. According to Mormon 6:1–2, this place was near a hill called by the Nephites the Hill Cumorah.
Notice in Ether 9:5–12 how the rise of secret combinations again led to the destruction of many people. What are the motives of those who join secret combinations?
Verses 15 through 35 show a pattern repeated many times in the Book of Mormon:
Can a people be wealthy and still remain righteous? It seems that the Jaredites were able to do this for more than 225 years (see vv. 15–25). Just think of it—they lived for that long in peace and prosperity because of their righteousness. Sometimes we think that the Book of Mormon is an account of continuous war and overlook the generations of peace and righteousness.
“I think it quite significant that the Book of Mormon associates elephants only with the Jaredites, since there is no apparent reason why they should not have been as common in the fifth as in the fifteenth century B.C. All we know is that they became extinct in large parts of Asia somewhere between those dates, as they did likewise in the New World, to follow the Book of Mormon, leaving only the written records of men to testify of their existence.
“‘They have plenty of iron, accarum, and andanicum,’ says Marco Polo of the people of Kobian. ‘Here they make mirrors of highly polished steel, of large size and very handsome.’ The thing to note here is not primarily the advanced state of steelworking in Central Asia, though that as we have seen is significant, but the fact that no one knows for sure what accarum and andanicum are. Marco knew, of course, but since the things didn’t exist in Europe there was no western word for them and so all he could do was to call them by their only names. It is just so with the cureloms and cumoms of Ether 9:19. These animals were unknown to the Nephites, and so Moroni leaves the words untranslated, or else though known to the Nephites, they are out of our experience so that our language has no name to call them by. They were simply breeds of those ‘many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man.’” (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites, pp. 217–18).
Ether 10:5–7 describes the reign of Riplakish. Note how his wickedness was duplicated by wicked King Noah (see Mosiah 11). Note the following characteristics of both kings:
Riplakish (Ether 10)
Noah (Mosiah 11)
Taxed the people heavily
Built spacious buildings
Glutted himself on the work of others
Killed by his own people
Is it any wonder that Isaiah warned his people, and us as well, “For the leaders of this people cause them to err”? (Isaiah 9:16, 2 Nephi 19:16). The righteous King Mosiah later commanded his people not to have kings because “the sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings” (Mosiah 29:31).
In Ether 14:2 we are told that a man defended his “wives.” It is not known if the Lord allowed the Jaredites plural wives, but at least in the case of Riplakish we know the practice was abused.
We read about the history of the Jaredite nation in Ether 10. Although the record is scant, it provides insight into their high state of civilization. Moroni told us the following things about the Jaredites:
Moroni concluded by telling us, “And never could be a people more blessed than were they” (v. 28).
■ Note the prophecy made by the brother of Jared and the number of times it was fulfilled (see Ether 6:22–23).
■ What led to the destruction of the Jaredites and the people of Nephi? (see Ether 8:18–21).
■ What did Moroni warn about secret combinations among us today? (see Ether 8:24).
The cycles of wickedness and calamity observed among the Nephites had also occurred among the Jaredites. It is difficult to imagine a more thorough warning to latter-day people.
As with the Nephites, the Jaredite society moved through various stages of decline. As recorded thus far in their history, the Jaredites went through a cycle of prosperity, apostasy, judgment, repentance, prosperity, and so on. But eventually, as with the Nephites, the depths of apostasy and wickedness became more and more serious.
Ether 11 contains the final stages of the Jaredite cycle of apostasy. They had earlier rejected, mocked, and reviled the prophets. Though King Shule had passed a law protecting the prophets and punishing those who persecuted them (see Ether 7:23–26), a later king made it state policy to execute the prophets (see Ether 11:5). Finally, the wickedness became so rampant that the prophets “withdrew from among the people” (v. 13).
President Spencer W. Kimball spoke of faith as a planting for an eternal harvest:
“Throughout the Church hundreds of thousands of faithful Saints have truly consecrated their lives and their energies to the work of the Lord, secure in the assurance that thereby they please him.
“It is a disappointment, however, to find many others who are not willing to trust the Lord—or to trust in his promise when he says, ‘Prove me and see.’ I often wonder why men cannot trust their Lord. He has promised his children every blessing contingent upon their faithfulness, but fickle man places his trust in ‘the arm of flesh’ and sets about to make his own way unaided by him who could do so much.
“The Lord has challenged us:
“‘. . . prove me . . . if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.’ (Malachi 3:10.)
“The prophet Moroni stopped abruptly in his abridging to offer his own inspired comments concerning the matter of faith:
“‘I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.’ (Ether 12:6.)
“Father Adam understood this basic principle:
“‘. . . an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.’ (Moses 5:6.)
“He showed his unwavering faith—and since the witness and the miracle follow rather than precede the faith, the angel then sought to enlighten him, saying:
“‘This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father. . . .’ (Moses 5:7.)
“In faith we plant the seed, and soon we see the miracle of the blossoming. Men have often misunderstood and have reversed the process. They would have the harvest before the planting, the reward before the service, the miracle before the faith. Even the most demanding labor unions would hardly ask the wages before the labor. But many of us would have the vigor without the observance of the health laws, prosperity through the opened windows of heaven without the payment of our tithes. We would have the close communion with our Father without fasting and praying; we would have rain in due season and peace in the land without observing the Sabbath and keeping the other commandments of the Lord. We would pluck the rose before planting the roots; we would harvest the grain before sowing the cultivating.
“If we could only realize, as Moroni writes:
“‘For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them. . . .
“‘And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God.’ (Ether 12:12, 18.) . . .
“The Lord made it clear that faith is not developed by miracles.
“‘But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.’ (D&C 63:9.)
“To the scribes and Pharisees who demanded signs without the preliminary faith and works the Lord said:
“‘An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign. . . .’ (Matthew 12:39.) . . .
“Faith is needed as much as ever before. Little can we see. We know not what the morrow will bring. Accidents, sickness, even death seem to hover over us continually. Little do we know when they might strike.
“It takes faith—unseeing faith—for young people to proceed immediately with their family responsibilities in the face of financial uncertainties. It takes faith for the young woman to bear her family instead of accepting employment, especially when schooling for the young husband is to be finished. It takes faith to observe the Sabbath when ‘time and a half’ can be had working, when profit can be made, when merchandise can be sold. It takes a great faith to pay tithes when funds are scarce and demands are great. It takes faith to fast and have family prayers and to observe the Word of Wisdom. It takes faith to do home teaching, stake missionary work, and other service, when sacrifice is required. It takes faith to fill full-time missions. But know this—that all these are of the planting, while faithful, devout families, spiritual security, peace, and eternal life are the harvest” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, pp. 3–5, 10–11).
Ether 13:1–12 describes what a great seer Ether was. Ether was shown many marvelous things by the Lord, including the establishment of a New Jerusalem prior to the Second Coming. Note what Ether said about the New Jerusalem:
President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote the following about the New Jerusalem:
“The prevailing notion in the world is that this [the New Jerusalem] is the city of Jerusalem, the ancient city of the Jews which in the day of regeneration will be renewed, but this is not the case. We read in the Book of Ether that the Lord revealed to him many of the same things which were seen by John. Ether, as members of the Church will know, was the last of the prophets among the Jaredites, and the Lord had revealed to him much concerning the history of the Jews and their city of Jerusalem which stood in the days of the ministry of our Savior. In his vision, in many respects similar to that given to John, Ether saw the old city of Jerusalem and also the new city which has not yet been built, and he wrote of them as follows as reported in the writings of Moroni:
[Ether 13:2–11] . . .
“In the day of regeneration, when all things are made new, there will be three great cities that will be holy. One will be the Jerusalem of old which shall be rebuilt according to the prophecy of Ezekiel. One will be the city of Zion, or of Enoch, which was taken from the earth when Enoch was translated and which will be restored; and the city Zion, or New Jerusalem, which is to be built by the seed of Joseph on this the American continent.
“After the close of the millennial reign we are informed that Satan, who was bound during the millennium, shall be loosed and go forth to deceive the nations. Then will come the end. The earth will die and be purified and receive its resurrection. During this cleansing period the City Zion, or New Jerusalem, will be taken from the earth; and when the earth is prepared for the celestial glory, the city will come down according to the prediction in the Book of Revelation” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:103–6).
Coriantumr had devoted a great deal of time to studying “all the arts of war and all the cunning of the world” (Ether 13:16); yet he rejected the simple message of Ether which would have brought him peace in a way that all his military skills could not do.
Note the prophet Ether’s promise to Coriantumr in verses 20 and 21, as well as its fulfillment (see Ether 15:1–3, 26–32, Omni 1:20–22).
“The insane wars of the Jaredite chiefs ended in the complete annihilation of both sides, with the kings the last to go. The same thing had almost happened earlier in the days of Akish, when a civil war between him and his sons reduced the population to thirty. . . . This all seems improbable to us, but two circumstances peculiar to Asiatic warfare explain why the phenomenon is by no means without parallel: (1) Since every war is strictly a personal contest between kings, the battle must continue until one of the kings falls or is taken. (2) And yet things are so arranged that the king must be very last to fall, the whole army existing for the sole purpose of defending his person. This is clearly seen in the game of chess, in which all pieces are expendable except the king, who can never be taken. ‘The shah in chess,’ writes M. E. Moghadam, ‘is not killed and does not die. The game is terminated when the shah is pressed into a position from which he cannot escape. This is in line with all good traditions of chess playing, and back of it the tradition of capturing the king in war rather than slaying him whenever that could be accomplished.’ You will recall the many instances in the book of Ether in which kings were kept in prison for many years but not killed. In the code of medieval chivalry, taken over from central Asia, the person of the king is sacred, and all others must perish in his defense. After the battle the victor may do what he will with his rival—and infinitely ingenious tortures were sometimes devised for the final reckoning—but as long as the war went on, the king could not die, for whenever he did die, the war was over, no matter how strong his surviving forces. Even so, Shiz was willing to spare all of Coriantumr’s subjects if he could only behead Coriantumr with his own sword. In that case, of course, the subjects would become his own. The circle of warriors, ‘large and mighty men as to the strength of men’ . . . that fought around their kings to the last man, represent that same ancient institution, the sacred ‘shieldwall,’ which our own Norse ancestors took over from Asia and which meets us again and again in the wars of the tribes, in which on more than one occasion the king actually was the last to perish. So let no one think the final chapter of Ether is at all fanciful or overdrawn. Wars of extermination are a standard institution in the history of Asia” (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites, pp. 235–36).
It is impossible for us to fully fathom the horror of the final Jaredite battle in which even women and children were armed and sent to war (see Ether 15:15). Here we have a graphic picture of what men become when the Spirit of the Lord withdraws and no longer strives with them (see v. 19).
■ Read Ether 12:27. What purposes do weaknesses serve? How can weaknesses become strengths?
■ Identify the different Jerusalems spoken of in Ether 13.
■ How does the Book of Ether serve as a warning to the nations of the earth today?
After he ended his abridgment of the Jaredite history, Moroni supposed that he was not to write any additional records. But as he had not perished yet, Moroni recorded additional sacred truths that he hoped would be of value to the Lamanites of a future day. These teachings are found in Moroni 1–8. Ponder them carefully, for they are of great worth to all of our Father’s children.
Moroni’s work on the plates began with Mormon 8. After finishing the record of his father, Mormon, he compiled the book of Ether. While hiding from the Lamanites, Moroni wrote the book of Moroni, and in it he included a sermon and two letters from his father (see Moroni 7–9).
Compare Moroni 2–6 to Doctrine and Covenants 20, especially verses 54 through 55 and 68 through 79. The principles and practices of the Church were the same in the Nephite dispensation as they are today.
A man may properly wire his house for electricity, observing the code most carefully. Still, if the power company refuses to connect the house to the power source, the lights and heat will not function in the house. A man could turn switches on in every room, and still there would be no power source for the house. Similarly, for the priesthood to be conferred, the person doing the ordaining must have the necessary power from the Lord. And this power is conveyed to another person only when the one ordaining has permission to do so.
The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of the role of the Holy Ghost in performing ordinations:
“We believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost being enjoyed now, as much as it was in the Apostles’ days; we believe that it [the gift of the Holy Ghost] is necessary to make and to organize the Priesthood, that no man can be called to fill any office in the ministry without it; we also believe in prophecy, in tongues, in visions, and in revelations, in gifts, and in healings; and that these things cannot be enjoyed without the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 243).
The conditions for baptism do not change from one age to another. Moroni recorded that to be baptized a person must—
Compare this list with the requirements given in Doctrine and Covenants 20:37.
That which is “wrought upon” is changed in some basic or essential way, usually by the means of hand tools through twisting, beating, or embellishing. In Moroni 6:4, “wrought upon” is symbolic and has reference to what occurs when the Spirit quickens and changes a convert to a new person. The atoning sacrifice of Christ makes the remission of our sins possible, but it is through the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost, the baptism of fire, that sins are actually purged or removed (see 2 Nephi 31:17, Alma 13:12, 3 Nephi 27:20).
How we live matters very much. None of us, however, lives a perfect life, and so none of us can return to the presence of God by virtue of our own works. Because Christ lived a perfect life only his blood can pay for sins that have been committed. Thus, a person can begin to have faith only when he relies upon the merits of Christ; therefore, Jesus is the “author” of our faith.
After faith begins to develop, we must continue to rely on Christ’s merit, the Atonement, as we endure to the end. And it is only through constant faith in the Redeemer and through repentance that we can endure to the end. In this sense, Jesus is the “finisher” of our faith.
From the time we accept Christ and qualify for a rebirth until we have endured to the end, we must rely “alone upon the merits of Christ, . . . the author and the finisher of [our] faith” (Moroni 6:4).
President Anthon H. Lund declared:
“Unless the Saints attend their meetings it will be hard for them to keep alive in the Gospel” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1907, p. 9).
Church courts and the policies that govern these courts serve three general purposes: to protect the sacred name of the Church, to clear the name of the innocent who are falsely accused, and to provide an opportunity for the guilty to repent.
Sometimes members of the Church may look upon such actions as proof that the Church has failed in some respect. Enemies of the Church may point to examples of members who are acting unworthily as evidence that the Church is not true. Elder Boyd K. Packer gave some excellent counsel regarding this matter:
“One young man was being constantly ridiculed by his co-workers for his activity in the Church. They claimed to know of a bishop who had cheated someone in business, or a stake president who had misrepresented something on a contract, or a mission president who had borrowed money, giving false information.
“Or, they told of a bishop who had discriminated against one member, refusing to give a temple recommend, but had shown favoritism by signing a recommend for another whose unworthiness was widely known.
“Such incidents as these, which supposedly involve Church leaders, are described as evidence that the gospel is not true, that the Church is not divinely inspired, or that it is being misled.
“He had no satisfactory answer to their charges. He felt defenseless and foolish and was being drawn to join them in their criticism of the Church.
“Did he believe all of these stories? Well, he could not be sure. There must be something to some of them.
“If you also face such a test of faith, consider the questions he was asked:
“Have you ever, in your life, attended any Church meeting—priesthood meeting, sacrament meeting, Relief Society, Sunday School, a conference or fireside, a seminary class, a temple session, or any meeting sponsored by the Church—where any encouragement or authorization was given to be dishonest, to cheat in business, or take advantage of anyone?
“He answered that he had not.
“The next question:
“Have you read, or do you know of anything in the literature of the Church, in the scriptures themselves, in lesson manuals, in Church magazines or books, in Church publications of any kind, which contains any consent to lie, or to steal, to misrepresent, to defraud, to be immoral or vulgar, to profane, to be brutal, or to abuse any living soul?
“Again he said, after thoughtful consideration, that he had not.
“Have you ever been encouraged in a training session, a leadership meeting, or an interview to transgress or misbehave in any way? Have you ever been encouraged to be extreme or unreasonable or intemperate?
“He had not.
“You are inside the Church where you can see at close hand the conduct of bishops or Relief Society presidents, of high councilors, stake presidents, or General Authorities. Could such conduct be described as being typical of them?
“He thought it could not.
“You are active and have held positions in the Church. Surely, you would have noticed if the Church promoted any of these things in any way.
“Yes, he thought he would have noticed.
“Why then, I asked him, when you hear reports of this kind, should you feel that the Church is to blame?
“There is no provision in the teachings or doctrines of the Church for any member to be dishonest, or immoral, or irresponsible, or even careless.
“Have you not been taught all of your life, that if a member of the Church, particularly one in high position, is unworthy in any way, he acts against the standards of the Church? He is not in harmony with the teachings, the doctrines, or with the leadership of the Church.
“Why, then, should your faith be shaken by this account, or that, of some alleged misconduct—most of them misrepresented or untrue? . . .
“Now, does anyone holding a responsible position in the Church ever act unworthily?
“The answer: of course, it happens. It is an exception, but it happens.
“When we call a man to be a stake president or a bishop, for instance, we say, in effect:
“‘Here is a congregation. You are to preside over them. They are under constant temptation, and you are to see that they win that battle. Govern them in such a way that they can succeed. Devote yourself unselfishly to this cause.
“‘And, incidentally, while you preside, you are not excused from your own trials and temptations. They will, in fact, be increased because you are a leader. Win your own battle as best you can.’
“If a leader does conduct himself unworthily, his actions fly against everything the Church stands for, and he is subject to release.
“It has even been our sad responsibility, on some few occasions, to excommunicate leaders from the Church who have been guilty of very serious illegal or immoral conduct.
“That should increase, not shake, your faith in the Church, or of a nonmember toward it” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 1979, pp. 109–11; or Ensign, May 1979, pp. 79–80).
It is possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason. For example, it is right to pay tithing or to pray. But if a person does these things to “be seen of men,” they are not counted as righteous acts. Christ taught that such persons “have their reward” when they achieve the recognition which they seek (see Matthew 6:1–8, 16–18). Elder Marion G. Romney shared the following personal experience regarding our motives for doing righteous things:
“About a quarter of a century ago Sister Romney and I moved into a ward in which they were just beginning to build a meetinghouse. The size of the contribution the bishop thought I ought to contribute rather staggered me. I thought it was at least twice as much as he should have asked. However, I had just been called to a rather high Church position, so I couldn’t very well tell him where to go. Therefore, I said, ‘Well, I will pay it, Bishop, but I will have to pay it in installments because I don’t have the money.’ And so I began to pay. And I paid and paid until I was down to about the last three payments, when, as is my habit, I was reading The Book of Mormon, and came to the scripture which said:
“‘. . . if a man . . . giveth a gift . . . grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.’ (Moroni 7:8.)
“This shocked me because I was out about a thousand dollars. Well, I went on and paid the three installments I had promised to pay, and then I paid several more installments to convince the Lord that I had done it with the right attitude” (“Mother Eve, a Worthy Exemplar,” Relief Society Magazine, Feb. 1968, pp. 84–85).
“We do not find this doctrine so clearly defined in the New Testament as in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon. But we discover this: The Lord has not left men (when they are born into this world) helpless, groping to find the light and truth, but every man that is born into the world is born with the right to receive the guidance, the instruction, the counsel of the Spirit of Christ, or Light of Truth, sometimes called the Spirit of the Lord in our writings.
“If a man who has never heard the gospel will hearken to the teachings and manifestations of the Spirit of Christ, or the Light of Truth, which come to him, often spoken of as conscience—every man has a conscience and knows more or less when he does wrong, and the Spirit guides him if he will hearken to its whisperings—it will lead him eventually to the fulness of the gospel. That is, he is guided by the Light, and when the gospel comes he will be ready to receive it. This is what the Lord tells us in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
“This Spirit of Truth, or Light of Christ, also has other functions. We read this in the revelation: ‘This . . . glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ, his Son—He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ.’” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:51).
Study carefully what Mormon teaches in Moroni 7:20–26, for in these verses is found one of the most important keys to righteousness. That key is faith. What makes faith possible? Mormon lists the following:
All of these teach us of the goodness of Christ. This leads us to faith and prayer, which then enable us to “lay hold upon every good thing” (vv. 25–26).
Jesus atoned for men’s sins. As our Savior, it is his privilege to prescribe the means whereby we receive the benefits of his atoning act, or in other words, “to claim of the Father his rights of mercy” (Moroni 7:27).
Some churches teach that the day of miracles ended with the ministry of Jesus Christ and his apostles in Jerusalem. This is not true with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For Latter-day Saints, the day of miracles has not passed. Many still have faith and have miracles happen in their lives. As Mormon recorded in Moroni 7:37–38:
“For it is by faith that miracles are wrought; . . .
“. . . Wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also.”
Referring to faith in Christ, Mormon said, “If ye have not faith in him then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church” (v. 39). But how much faith is needed to qualify one for membership in the Church? Would, as Alma said, “a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe” (Alma 32:27) be enough? Mormon did not say our faith must be perfect, but spoke of a “faith in Christ because of your meekness” (Moroni 7:39). This suggests a humble trust in the Lord.
Elder M. Russell Ballard taught:
“What a priceless collection of faith-promoting experiences can be found in the scriptures! I marvel at the powerful accounts they contain:
“The aged patriarch Abraham ascending Mount Moriah with his only son Isaac.
“A young shepherd boy challenging the giant of the Philistine armies.
“Alma and Amulek imprisoned at Ammonihah.
“You and I are constantly nourished by these great examples of faith and miracles from the past.
“But what of today? As the prophet Mormon asked: ‘Has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought.’ (Moroni 7:35–37.)
“Yes, faith is the key. And as I travel over the Church, I find such miracle-spawning faith to be in abundant supply. I agree with President Heber J. Grant, who said: ‘I bear my witness to you that if a record had been made of all those who have been afflicted, those who have been given up to die, and who have been healed by the power of God, since the establishment of the Church of Christ in our day, it would make a book much larger than the New Testament. More miracles have been performed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than we have any account of in the days of the Savior and His Apostles. Today, sickness is cured by spiritual power. . . . The dead have been raised. My own brother was announced to be dead, but by the prayer of faith he lives and presides over one of the stakes of Zion. I know, as I know I live, that the healing power of Almighty God . . . is in the Church of Christ of which you and I are members.’ (Conference Report, October 6, 1910, p. 119.)” (“Faith in the Lives of the Saints,” in Faith, pp. 67–68).
After quoting Paul’s statement that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), the Prophet Joseph Smith said:
“From this we learn that faith is the assurance which men have of the existence of things which they have not seen, and the principle of action in all intelligent beings.
“. . . Faith . . . is the moving cause of all action in [intelligent beings]. . . .
“And as faith is the moving cause of all action in temporal concerns, so it is in spiritual. . . .
“. . . But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth. . . .
“Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation nor existence!” (Lectures on Faith 1:9–10, 12–13, 24).
Mormon pointed out that faith and hope are inextricably intertwined. If a man has true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he possesses an earnest hope or expectation that through Christ’s atonement and resurrection he, personally, may “be raised unto life eternal” (Moroni 7:41). Thus, “if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope” (v. 42).
“As used in the revelations, hope is the desire of faithful people to gain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God hereafter. It is not a flimsy, ethereal desire, one without assurance that the desired consummation will be received, but a desire coupled with full expectation of receiving the coveted reward. Paul, for instance, was not hesitant in affirming that he lived, ‘In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began’ (Tit. 1:2), and Peter assured all the elect that ‘by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,’ their ‘lively hope’ of ‘an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven’ for the saints, had been renewed or ‘begotten’ again. (1 Pet. 1:1–5.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 365).
Charity, like faith and hope, is essential for salvation in God’s presence. Moroni wrote: “Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity” (Moroni 10:20). Moroni then declared: “And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope” (v. 21).
“Above all the attributes of godliness and perfection, charity is the one most devoutly to be desired. Charity is more than love, far more; it is everlasting love, perfect love, the pure love of Christ which endureth forever. It is love so centered in righteousness that the possessor has no aim or desire except for the eternal welfare of his own soul and for the souls of those around him. (2 Ne. 26:30; Moro. 7:47; 8:25–26.)” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 121.)
Mormon defined charity as “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47). What does this mean? Love that is pure and selfless thinks of others, acts with kindness, does not insist on victory, rejoices in truth, and is long-suffering and patient. For whoever has charity at the Judgment Day, “it shall be well with him” (v. 47).
Charity is a gift of God, and one must “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love” (v. 48). A person seeks this gift in prayer, but the gift actually comes as a bestowal by the Father “upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ” (v. 48). As a person keeps the commandments and learns to follow Jesus’ loving example of obedience, he is blessed with the gift of charity.
Moroni 8 is a letter Moroni received from his father, Mormon. It clarifies the issue of baptism for little children.
The ordinance of baptism is “for the remission of sins” (D&C 49:13). But little children have no sins. In fact, they are “not capable of committing sin” (Moroni 8:8), nor does the devil have power to tempt them “until they begin to become accountable” before the Lord (D&C 29:47). The Lord has set the age of accountability at eight years of age (see JST, Genesis 17:11; see also D&C 68:27). Those churches that baptize infants to remove original sin, or the “curse of Adam,” do so without scriptural authorization (see Moroni 8:8).
Many persons live and die and never know the law of Christ. Such persons will hear the gospel in the spirit world and can there exercise faith and repentance. Living proxies on the earth perform the needed ordinances in behalf of these people so that the blessings of salvation may be theirs.
Those who never enjoy the powers of their mind and who are mentally handicapped need no baptism. They too die without the law, and, like little children, they “are alive in Christ” (Moroni 8:12). President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“The Lord has made it known by revelation that children born with retarded minds shall receive blessings just like little children who die in infancy. They are free from sin, because their minds are not capable of a correct understanding of right and wrong. Mormon, when writing to his son Moroni on the subject of baptism places deficient children in the same category with little children who are under the age of accountability, they do not require baptism, for the atonement of Jesus Christ takes care of them equally with little children who die before the age of accountability, as follows:
“‘For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing.’ [Moroni 8:22]
“Again the Lord has stated:
“‘And again, I say unto you, that whoso having knowledge, have I not commanded to repent?
“‘And he that hath no understanding, it remaineth in me to do according as it is written. . . .’ [D&C 29:49–50]
“Therefore The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considers all deficient children with retarded capacity to understand, just the same as little children under the age of accountability. They are redeemed without baptism and will go to the celestial kingdom of God, there, we believe, to have their faculties or other deficiencies restored according to the Father’s mercy and justice” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 3:20–21).
■ Identify principles and practices of the Church in Nephite times that are identical to the Church today (see Moroni 2–6).
■ What brings miracles?
■ What strong terms did Mormon use in denouncing the evil practice of infant baptism? (see Moroni 8).
Moroni challenged his readers to come unto Christ and enjoy the gifts of the Spirit which are given to those who keep the commandments.
Moroni 9 is Mormon’s final epistle to his son Moroni. Why do you suppose Moroni included this final admonition in his record? Do you think he wanted to show us what can happen to a people who completely lose the Spirit of the Lord? What are some of the characteristics of such a condition? How did the people react to the “word of God”? (v. 4). What had they lost? (see v. 5). What admonition did Mormon give to Moroni? (see v. 6). Should we ever cease trying to save souls? Note Mormon’s description of virtue in verse 9. How precious is virtue?
How does Mormon describe his people in verses 18 through 20. Elder Neal A. Maxwell commented on the meaning of past feeling as follows:
“President Harold B. Lee has called our attention to the phrase ‘past feeling’ which is used several places in the scriptures. In Ephesians, Paul links it to lasciviousness that apparently so sated its victims that they sought ‘uncleanness with greediness.’ Moroni used the same two words to describe a decaying society which was ‘without civilization,’ ‘without order and without mercy,’ and in which people had ‘lost their love, one towards another.’ . . . Nephi used the same concept in his earlier lamentation about his brothers’ inability to heed the urgings of the Spirit because they were ‘past feeling.’ The common thread is obvious: the inevitable dulling of our capacity to feel renders us impervious to conscience, to the needs of others, and to insights both intellectual and spiritual. Such imperceptivity, like alcoholism, apparently reaches a stage where the will can no longer enforce itself upon our impulses” (“For the Power Is in Them,” p. 22).
Elder Maxwell also commented on how people reach this state:
“Our capacity to feel controls our behavior in many ways, and by inaction when our feelings prompt us to do good, we deaden that capacity to feel. It was Jesus’ striking sensitivity to the needs of those about him that made it possible for him to respond in action.
“At the other end of the spiritual spectrum are individuals such as Nephi’s erring brothers; Nephi noted their increasing insensitivity to things spiritual: ‘[God] hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.’ [1 Nephi 17:45.]
“When we become too encrusted with error, our spiritual antennae wilt and we slip beyond mortal reach. This can happen to entire civilizations. In his lamentation to his son Moroni, Mormon notes the deterioration of the Nephite society. The symptoms include a wickedness so profound that Mormon’s people were described by him as being ‘past feeling.’ [Moroni 9:20.] The Apostle Paul lamented the destructive lasciviousness of Church members in Ephesus because they had developed such insensitivity in their satiation that they were ‘past feeling.’ [Ephesians 4:19.] A sex-saturated society cannot really feel the needs of its suffering members because, instead of developing the love that looks outward, it turns man selfishly inward. Imperviousness to the promptings of the still small voice of God will also mean that we have ears but cannot hear, not only the promptings of God, but also the pleas of men” (A Time to Choose, pp. 59–60).
Responding to a question about gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon, Daniel H. Ludlow said:
“To understand the promise found in Moroni 10:4, a person should read and ponder the verses immediately before and after. In the first edition of the Book of Mormon (1830), Moroni chapter 10 was all written as one paragraph.
“Let us examine carefully and individually verses 1–5:
“Verse 1: ‘Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ.’
“Although Moroni is addressing himself specifically to ‘the Lamanites,’ these words, as well as all of the words in the Book of Mormon, apply also to the Jews and the Gentiles. (See title page.)
“Verse 2: ‘And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.’
“The words these records refer to the records upon which Moroni was then writing (the plates of Mormon), which were later received by Joseph Smith and translated as the Book of Mormon.
“Verse 3: ‘Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.’
“Too frequently this verse is not quoted in connection with verse four and, when quoted, is often misinterpreted. However, it is a key verse to understanding the full promise of Moroni 10:1–5. When analyzed thoroughly, this verse indicates that the honest seeker after truth must do two things:
“1. Read the Book of Mormon. The words these things in verse three refer back to the words these records in verse two—the records from which our present Book of Mormon was translated.
“2. ‘Ponder’ the dealings of God with men as recorded in the Book of Mormon, and then compare them with the dealings of God with men as recorded in the Bible. Although the word Bible is not found in this verse, Moroni indicates that the person should ‘remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things.’ The Bible provides a story of the Creation and the history of events from that time forward. However, the account of the Creation and subsequent happenings are not contained in the Book of Mormon. In fact, Moroni had earlier acknowledged that the Book of Mormon would not include this information. In explaining his abridgement of the Book of Ether, Moroni wrote:
“‘And now I, Moroni . . . take mine account from the twenty and four plates which were found by the people of Limhi, which is called the Book of Ether.
“‘And as I suppose that the first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world, and also of Adam, and an account from that time even to the great tower, and whatsoever things transpired among the children of men until that time, is had among the Jews—
“‘Therefore I do not write those things which transpired from the days of Adam until that time.’ (Ether 1:1–4; italics added.)
“Thus, if a sincere person hasn’t gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon after reading it, he should—as Moroni seems to suggest here—read the Bible as well, pondering in his heart both scriptural accounts of God’s dealings with his children.
“Verse 4: ‘And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.’
“Note that the word read is not even included in this verse; rather, the verb is receive. In other words, after the person has (1) read the Book of Mormon and (2) pondered the dealings of God with the peoples of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, he must then put himself in a frame of mind where he would be willing to ‘receive’ or ‘accept’ all these things. Then he must ask ‘with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ.’ Sincere pondering of the scriptures helps put a person in an appropriate frame of mind to ask for—and receive—divine guidance.
“The things we should be in a position to receive (accept) may refer not only to the Book of Mormon, but also to everything mentioned in verses two and three. Similarly, the word it near the end of verse four (‘he will manifest the truth of it unto you’) may refer to the process of God’s dealing with men, along with referring to the Book of Mormon itself. In either case, if a person receives ‘the truth of it,’ he will believe in (accept) the Book of Mormon.
“Verse 5: ‘And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.’
“This verse indicates that the principles contained in the formula for learning truth as explained in verses one through four can also be applied to areas other than learning the truth of the Book of Mormon.
“As to whether this promise is Moroni’s or the Lord’s, Doctrine and Covenants 68:4 reads:
“‘And whatsoever they [the Lord’s chosen servants] shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.’
“When Moroni ‘speaks’ or writes by the power of the Holy Ghost, his writings represent the ‘will . . . mind . . . word . . . [and] voice of the Lord.’ Thus it is appropriate to say this promise comes from the Lord through the writings of Moroni.
“When a person follows this divine formula, the results are certain: He will gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. God cannot and does not lie, and his promises made through his prophets are sure. Therefore, any person who claims to have followed the various requirements but says he has not gained a testimony should check to see which step he has not followed faithfully or completely:
“1. He should read and ponder the Book of Mormon—all of it.
“2. He should remember the methods God has used in working with the peoples of both the Book of Mormon and the Bible—and ponder these things in his heart.
“3. He should put himself in a frame of mind where he would be willing to accept (receive) all of ‘these things’—the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the way God works with men.
“4. ‘With a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ,’ he should ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Jesus Christ ‘if these things are not true.’
“5. He should be able to recognize the promptings and feelings which will be evidences to him of the truth of ‘these things’ (including the Book of Mormon) as they are made manifest unto him ‘by the power of the Holy Ghost.’” (“I Have a Question,” Ensign, Mar. 1986, pp. 50–51).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote the following about the gifts of the Spirit:
“By the grace of God—following devotion, faith, and obedience on man’s part—certain special spiritual blessings called gifts of the Spirit are bestowed upon men. Their receipt is always predicated upon obedience to law, but because they are freely available to all the obedient, they are called gifts. They are signs and miracles reserved for the faithful and for none else.
“Moroni says that the gifts of God come from Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost and by the Spirit of Christ. (Moro. 10.) In other words, the gifts come by the power of that Spirit who is the Holy Ghost, but the Spirit of Christ (or light of Christ) is the agency through which the Holy Ghost operates.
“Their purpose is to enlighten, encourage, and edify the faithful so that they will inherit peace in this life and be guided toward eternal life in the world to come. Their presence is proof of the divinity of the Lord’s work; where they are not found, there the Church and kingdom of God is not. The promise is that they shall never be done away as long as the earth continues in its present state, except for unbelief (Moro. 10:19), but when the perfect day comes and the saints obtain exaltation, there will be no more need for them. As Paul expressed it, ‘When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.’ (1 Cor. 13.)
“Faithful persons are expected to seek the gifts of the Spirit with all their hearts. They are to ‘covet earnestly the best gifts’ (1 Cor. 12:31; D. & C. 46:8), to ‘desire spiritual gifts’ (1 Cor. 14:1), ‘to ask of God, who giveth liberally.’ (D. & C. 46:7; Matt. 7:7–8.) To some will be given one gift; to others, another; and ‘unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby.’ (D. & C. 46:29.)” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 314).
In his final words, Moroni poignantly warns and counsels us on several items:
■ Despite the hardness of the Nephites, why do you suppose Mormon and Moroni continued to labor among them?
■ Why are gifts of the Spirit given?
■ Where do gifts of the Spirit come from?
■ Which gifts do you have?
■ What can you do to develop or receive gifts?
■ How can you truly “come unto Christ”? (Moroni 10:30).
■ Develop a plan for receiving or strengthening your testimony of the Book of Mormon.