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28:19); and further declared: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16.)
To the Nephite branch of the Israelitish stock on the American continent the Lord taught the same doctrine in language and style as simple as before: "And again I say unto you, Ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in no wise inherit the kingdom of God." (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11:38.) In full harmony with these ancient injunctions, the Lord has said to the Church in the present dispensation: "Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature, acting in the authority which I have given you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." (Doctrine & Covenants 68:8, 9.)
Could Scripture be simpler or plainer? Without baptism administered by the requisite authority, salvation in the Kingdom of God is impossible, else the Word of God is void. But baptism to be effective must be preceded by repentance of sin. When unrepentant sinners came to John the zealous Baptist denounced them in stinging epithet as a "generation of vipers" and laid upon them the condition to make themselves acceptable by bringing forth fruits meet for repentance.
But to repent of sin in humility and contrition, with the earnest purpose and soulful desire of making amends for offenses done and thereby to become reconciled with and acceptable to God, one must have unqualified trust and faith in Him. The basal principles and fundamental ordinances of the Gospel, through which alone the saving efficacy of the Atonement wrought by Jesus Christ is made certain in as
suring individual salvation, are ranged in the following order, as the Scriptures prove: (1) Faith in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ as the Redeemer and Savior of humankind, and in the Holy Ghost; (2) repentance in full purpose of heart-active, vital repentance that shall lead and impel to good works and renunciation of sin; (3) baptism by immersion in water; and (4) bestowal of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands-both ordinances being administered by men duly authorized to officiate by ordination to the Holy Priesthood.
The man of thoughtful mind and contrite heart cannot fail to find inexpressible comfort and profound cause for devout thanksgiving and praise through contemplating God's infinite mercy in having made so simple and easy these indispensable conditions of salvation. Had the terms been such as only vast wealth could meet, or the requirements so intricate or strenuous that great physical strength or high intellectual ability were necessary to accomplish the feat of compliance, then indeed the mortal or fallen state of the race would be deplorable beyond conception; and, withal, justice would be eliminated from the category of Deity's attributes. But lo! The Gospel plan is so simple that the child may comprehend, and he that runs may read.
THE WILL OF GOD
Though Opposed, Yet Eventually Supreme
O you believe that "whatever is is right"? I do not; I cannot believe it. If right means accordance with the will of God surely there is much wrong in the world.
But, it is argued, God is omnipotent, and therefore has power to direct all things as He wills. Granted. Nevertheless both scriptural and secular history, as also the turbulent course of current events combine to show that transgression of Divine law is as old as the race, and as persistent.
God has given to man agency and liberty of action. It is the will of God that this birthright of human freedom shall be inviolate; but it is contrary to the Divine intent that man shall abuse his agency, and misconstrue his liberty as license for wrong-doing. And as with the individual, so with communities and nations.
In the course of Israel's troubled journey from Egypt, where they had dwelt as in a "house of bondage," to Canaan the land of their promised inheritance, the Lord gave them many laws and established ordinances, with promise of blessing for compliance, and warning of calamity if they proved disobedient. As the sacred record progresses, the fact is made plain that Israel had chosen the evil alternative, forfeiting the blessings and reaping the curses.
In the days of Samuel the Israelites clamored for a king. They were tired of the theo-democracy under which they had prospered, and wanted to be "like all nations,” a monarchy, with a king wearing a crown, swaying a scepter, and sitting enthroned in state. Read 1 Samuel, chapter 8. This condition had been foreseen and foretold: nevertheless the people erred in their demand, and the Lord yielded under protest. There is real pathos in His words to the prophet: "They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." They had their king, and a long succession of monarchs, some of whom proved to be veritable tyrants, and the people groaned under the oppression against which they had been forewarned.
Was it the will of God, think you, that Israel should sin? Can it be the Divine will that any man or nation shall come under the thrall of iniquity? Is it the will of God that man shall make of himself a drunken sot, with reason dethroned, and naught but his brutish passions alert? Or that man shall oppress his fellows by unrighteous dominion, robbing them of the rights upon which God Himself refuses to infringe even though those rights be grossly misused? Is it the will of God that woman's virtue shall be bartered for gold, and that vice shall stalk unchallenged through the world?
To hold that these abominations accord with the Divine will is to make God responsible for them, and therefore the author of sin. The very thought is blasphemous.
God's omnipotence is manifest in the over-ruling by which eventual good results from immediate evil. The crime of the ages, consummated on the slopes of Calvary, has proved to be the means of salvation to the world; but the awful guilt of the betrayal, of the false testimony and the crucifixion is no whit diminished by the glorious outcome.
Through the successive captivities and the general dispersion of Israel, which came as the consequence of infidelity to Jehovah, a knowledge of the true and living God has been diffused among even benighted and idolatrous peoples. And thus the nation's calamity has been made to serve Divine purposes.
I cannot look upon the frightful carnage and inhuman atrocities of the world war as a manifestation of the direct will of God. This dreadful conflict was brought on through lust of power and greed of gain. It sprang from an unholy determination to rob mankind of God-given rights, and to subject the race to autocratic domination. It is a repetition of the issue at stake in the primeval struggle, when Michael, the champion of free agency, led his hosts against Lucifer's
myrmidons, who sought to rule by might. (See Rev. 12:7-9.) In the free exercise of agency and the right of decision our nation deliberately and solemnly entered the great conflict in the interests of righteousness. Out of the seething carnage shall crystallize the lustrous gems of peace and the liberties of men; and thus enriched the world shall be the more prepared to receive the Christ, whose coming is near, and whose dominion shall be holy, whereby the rights of all men shall be respected and assured.
God's power and glory shall be manifest in eventual victory for the right, and in the good that shall spring from present evil. But in the eternal accounting, responsibility for the crime whereby war was precipitated shall weigh upon the man, men, nation or nations who did the devil's bidding in the attempt to enthrall mankind.
Thus the hand of God is potent in the furtherance of right; and though His will be violated and His commandments transgressed, evil shall be followed by good. Divine displeasure is directed against all "who confess not His hand in all things, and obey not His commandments." (Doctrine & Covenants 59:21.)
Not a Determining Cause
ROPHECY is one of the specified gifts of the Spirit, and one of the distinguishing graces of the Church of Christ. If there be prophecy there must be prophets, men through whom the purposes of God are made known to the people at large. Prediction of events more or less remotely future is a prophetic function, though constituting but part of the gift of prophecy.