« PreviousContinue »
Divine revelation of what is to come is proof of foreknowledge. God, therefore, knows, and has known from the beginning, what shall be, even to the end of the world. The transgression of Adam was foreknown, even before the man was embodied in flesh; and because of the results entailed upon humankind a Redeemer was chosen, even "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." The earthly life, ministry, and sacrificial death of the Savior were all foreseen, and their certainty was declared by the mouths of holy prophets.
The apostasy of the Primitive Church, the long centuries of spiritual darkness, the restoration of the Gospel in these latter days in a land specifically prepared as the abode of a liberty-loving nation-each of these epoch-marking events was known to God, and by Him was revealed through prophets empowered to speak in His name.
But who will venture to affirm that foreknowledge is a determining cause? God's omniscience concerning Adam cannot reasonably be considered the cause of the Fall. Adam was free to do as he chose to do. God did not force him to disobey the Divine command. Neither did God's knowledge compel false Judas to betray the Christ, nor the recreant Jews to crucify their Lord.
Surely the omniscience of God does not operate to make of men automatons; nor does it warrant the superstition of fatalism. The chief purpose of earth life, as a stage in the course of the soul's progression, would be nullified if man's agency was after all but a pretense, and he a creature of circumstance compelled to do as he does.
A mortal father who knows the weaknesses and frailties of his son may by reason of that knowledge sorrowfully predict the calamities and suffering awaiting his wayward boy. He may foresee in that son's future a forfeiture of blessings
that could be won, loss of position, self-respect, reputation, character, and honor. Even the dark shadows of a felon's cell and the night of a drunkard's grave may loom in the visions of that fond father's soul. Yet, convinced by experience of the son's determination to follow the path of sin, he foresees the dread developments of the future, and writhes in anguish because of his knowledge.
Can it be truthfully said that the father's foreknowledge is even a contributory cause of the evil life of his boy? To so hold is to say that a neglectful parent, who will not trouble himself to study the character of his son, who shuts his eyes to sinful ways, and rests in careless indifference as to the probable future, will by his very heartlessness benefit the boy, because the father's lack of forethought diminishes the son's tendency toward dereliction.
By way of further illustration, consider the man versed in meteorology, who by due consideration of temperature, air-pressure, humidity, and other essential data, is able to forecast weather conditions. He speaks with the assurance of long experience in foretelling a storm. The storm comes, bringing benefit or injury, contributing to the harvest perhaps or destroying the ripening grain; but, whether it be of good or ill effect, can he who prophesied of the approaching storm be held accountable for its coming?
It may be argued, however, that in these illustrative instances neither the mortal parent nor the human forecaster had power to alter the respective course of events, while God can direct and over-rule as He wills. But, be it remembered that God has granted agency unto His children, and does not control them in its exercise by arbitrary force. He impels no man toward sin; He compels none to righteous
The Father of our spirits has a full knowledge of the nature and disposition of each of His children, a knowledge gained by observation and experience in the long ages of our primeval childhood, when we existed as unembodied spirits, endowed with individuality and agency-a knowledge compared with which that gained by earthly parents through experience with their children in the flesh is infinitesimally small. In that surpassing knowledge God reads the future of child and children, of men individually and of men collectively. He knows what each will do under given conditions, and sees the end from the beginning. His foreknowledge is based on intelligence and reason. He foresees the future of men and nations as a state that naturally and surely will be; not as a state of things that must be because He has arbitrarily willed that it shall be.
"Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:18.)
He willed and decreed the mortal state for His spirit offspring, and prepared the earth for their schooling. He provided all the facilities necessary to their training, and thus proclaimed His purpose:
"For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Pearl of Great Price, p. 7.)
ARE MEN CREATED EQUAL?
Individualism is Eternal
EMOCRACY holds as a distinguishing and fundamental principle the recognition of individual rights and privileges. The living units of a democratic system are citi
zens, not subjects. Before the law, so far as it be administered in justice, all citizens are on a plane of equality. In the exercise of the elective franchise, for example, the ballot of the poor man, the unscholarly, the weak, sick or maimed, counts just as much as that of the millionaire, the university graduate, or the athlete. All this is inherent in democracy as a political system. If through corrupt administration a citizen suffers deprivation of his rights, the fault, grievous though ti be, is not chargeable to the system but to the officials who have misused the authority delegated to them.
In this sense it is affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, as the first of the truths therein set forth as self-evident, and as assuring to all their inalienable rights "that all men are created equal;" and in this sense the affirmation is irrefutable. No other foundation could support a stable structure of government by the people.
But it is manifest folly to carry this conception of the legal equality of citizenship to the extreme of assuming that all men are alike in capacity, ability, or power. As long as mankind live in communities there will be leaders and followers, men of prominence, and of necessity others who are relatively obscure, men of energy and idlers, and conse quently masters and servants.
Doubtless much of the existing disparity among men, such as the inequitable distribution of wealth, the unrighteous acquisition of power and its iniquitous exercise, is pernicious -evil in the sight of God and ominously wrong under the laws of man. Nevertheless, attempts to right such wrongs by illegal force, and to establish a false equality by promiscuously taking from one to give to another, tend toward disruption and anarchy.
We are confronted by this profound fact: Individualism is an attribute of the soul, and as truly eternal as the soul itself.
(1) In the unembodied, preexistent or antemortal state, we were decidedly unequal in capacity and power.
(2) We know we are not equal here in the world of mortals.
(3) Assuredly we shall not be equal after death, either in the intermediate state of disembodiment or beyond the resurrection.
We read that Jeremiah was chosen from among his fellows and ordained before he was born to be a prophet unto the nations (Jer. 1:5); and a similar fore-ordination is indicated by Isaiah (49:1, 5.) Abraham definitely avers that among the unembodied spirits there were differences, some were noble and great and others less adapted to the duties of rulership: "Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones. And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers." (Pearl of Great Price p. 65-66.)
The God of spirits recognized particular qualifications in some, and selected them to be leaders among men. Let us not assume that the "rulers" thus divinely chosen are necessarily those whom men would later elect to be their leaders. Many of God's great ones have been and are counted among the despised of earth. So it was with the Christ Himself, and so with many of His prophets, apostles and revelators unto mankind.
Born into the flesh with diverse capacities, subjected here to varied environment, which may be favorable or opposed to the development of inherent tendencies toward either good or evil, we as a race are creatures of disparity, inequality, and heterogeneous circumstance. But all color of injustice disappears in the light of assurance that, in the