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self aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.
"My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of either reason or sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others. In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself, What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it? While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contest of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
"Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. . . . At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to ask of God, concluding that if He
gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture. After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
"But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction-not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being-just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
"It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other-This is my beloved Son, hear Him!
"My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right-and which I should join.
"I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that 'they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." " (See Pearl of Great Price, pp. 83-85).
Thus ended the long night of spiritual darkness in which man had groped for centuries. Thus was begun the dispensation of which the ancient prophets had spoken, in preparation for the coming of the Christ to reign on earth as Lord and King.
This glorious and unprecedented manifestation of the Father and the Son to a mortal was followed in later years by visitations of angelic personages through whom the Holy Priesthood was again restored to earth, and under whose direction the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints was established in April, 1830. Joseph Smith was a prophet of the living God. His testimony is before the world. The saving ordinances of the Gospel are again administered under Divine authority, and the means of salvation are offered freely to all mankind.
Wonders Wrought by Devils
E believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc. (Articles of Faith, No. 7).
The personal ministry of Jesus Christ in the flesh was characterized by many mighty works-signs, wonders, miracles, as they are severally called. The Apostles who labored to build up the Church after the Master's departure attested the divinity of their calling and priesthood by manifestations of power surpassing the ordinary attributes of mortals. Thus, these holy men were endowed with the ennobling gifts of the Spirit, which have been inherent in the Church of Christ in all ages.
Multitudes have been troubled by the disquieting query as to why the gifts of prophecy, visions, revelation, healing, and the power to speak in diverse tongues are not apparent in the sectarian churches of modern times, and have found partial satisfaction in the assumption, unfounded and unscriptural though it be, that all such gifts and graces ceased with the passing of apostolic days and are not required as testimonies of the Spirit in a more enlightened age. That these spiritual gifts did cease as the apostasy of the Primitive Church progressed is doubtless true; but that the cause of the cessation was anything else than transgression by which the apostasy was brought about is unsupported by Scripture.
In His parting commission to the Apostles, the Resurrected Christ gave this combined command and promise:
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16:15-18).
It is evident that the several gifts of the Spirit are the
products of faith in God and obedience to His commandments. That these manifestations are brought about through the power of the Holy Priesthood and are characteristic thereof is set forth in Paul's teachings: "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." (1 Cor. 12:28).
Mormon, a prophet who ministered on the American continent in the latter part of the fourth century, solemnly declared that miracles will not cease in the Church so long as there shall be a man upon the earth to be saved: "For it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore if these things have ceased, wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain." (Moroni 7:37).
Mark his inspired words addressed to those "who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues."
"Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things, knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them. For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and for ever; and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? And now, if ye have imagined have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in him there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles. But behold, I will shew unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same