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Religion, then, has to do not only with this life but with that to come. We are but sojourners on earth; and, profoundly important as is this mortal experience, it is, after all, mainly a probation, and essentially a preparation for eternity.
It is temporarily easier to be passive than aggressive, whether we claim for our guiding code man's rules of ethics or the clear-cut requirements of the Gospel of Christ. There are more good men on earth than men who are good for much.
The Gospel demands something greater than avoidance of actual sins of commission. The culpability of neglect and omission may justly condemn the soul. Wilful spurning of Divine opportunity may work eternal loss. Though the Scriptures affirm the possibility of progression after death, nowhere do we find ground for assuming that failure to obey the Gospel on earth will be nullified by immediate remission beyond. We have no basis for computing the ages that shall be requisite to make amends there for wanton failure here.
There is a time in the eternal existence of souls which has been specifically made the time of repentance and test; and that is the period of mortality. Paul's forceful admonition is of universal application: "Lay hold on eternal life" while opportunity is found (1 Tim. 6:12, 19). For, be it remembered that the Lord has spoken concerning the wilfully unrepentant: "From him shall be taken even the light which he has received, for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts." Doctrine & Covenants 1:33.
Sin is conducive to lethargy in things spiritual; the Gospel inspires to life and activity. Contentment with the things of this world, so long as they go to suit us, with no thought of what shall follow, is the devil's lullaby. In the moment of supreme complacency when we are expressing by
word, act, thought, or through sheer inaction, the stultifying soliloquy "Soul, take thine ease," may come the summoning decree: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee." Read Luke 12:16-21.
When will men awaken to the imperative yet persuasive summons to repentance? Are not the awful vicissitudes of the days of war and death sufficient to arouse us to some realization of the solemnities of eternity? As a nation we have valiantly waged war for the vindication of the rights, privileges, and liberties of men. As individuals we are summoned by the call of God to resist iniquity, and to make peace and reconciliation with Him through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
Only through active, vital faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, effective repentance of wrong-doing, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost or the higher baptism of the Spirit, can salvation be attained in the Kingdom of God, for so the Holy Scriptures aver.
The pleading call of the ancient prophet is yet in force. Hear ye, and heed: "Now I say unto you, that ye must repent, and be born again: for the Spirit saith, If ye are not born again, ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness." (Book of Mormon, Alma 7:14
REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY
A Law unto Man from the Beginning
HE Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts Sunday as the Christian Sabbath and proclaims the sanctity of the day. We admit without argument that under the Mosaic Law the seventh day of the week, Saturday, was designated and observed as the Holy Day, and that the change from Saturday to Sunday was a feature of the apostolic administration following the personal ministry of Jesus Christ. Greater to us than the question of this day or that in the week, is the actuality of the weekly Sabbath, to be observed as a day of special and particular devotion to the service of the Lord.
The Sabbath was prefigured if not definitely specified in the record of the creation, wherein we read, following the account of the six days or periods of creative effort: "And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." (Gen. 2:3.)
In the early stages of the Exodus the Israelites were commanded to lay in a double portion of manna on the sixth day, for the seventh was consecrated as a day of holy rest; and this was signalized by the Lord's withholding manna on the Sabbath day. See Exo. 16:23-30. There is no proof that Sabbath observance by Israel at this early date was an innovation; and it may be reasonably regarded as a recognition of an established order by reenactment in the new dispensation. Later, when the decalog was codified and promulgated on Sinai, the Sabbath law was made particularly
explicit, and the Lord's rest was cited as its foundation: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Exo. 20:8-11.)
The keeping of the Sabbath as a day of surcease from toil and of particular devotion came to be a national characteristic of the Israelites, whereby they were distinguished from pagan nations; and rightly so, for the observance of the Holy Day was specified as a distinctive sign of the covenant between Jehovah and His people. See Exo. 31:13.
In the course of Israelitish history successive prophets admonished and rebuked the people for neglect or profanation of the Sabbath. Nehemiah ascribed the affliction of the nation to the forfeiture of Divine protection through Sabbath violation (see Neh. 13:15-22); and by the mouth of Ezekiel the Lord reaffirmed the significance of the Sabbath as a mark of His covenant with Israel, and sternly upbraided those who observed not the day. (See Ezek. 20:12-24.) To the detached branch of Israel, which, as the Book of Mormon avers, was transplanted to American soil, Sabbath observance was no less an imperative requirement. See Jarom 1:5; Mosiah 13:16-19; 18:23.
Long before the birth of Christ the original purpose of the Sabbath and the spirit of its service had come to be largely lost sight of among the Jews; and rabbinical rules had introduced numerous technicalities, which made of the day one of discomfort and severity. This condition was
strongly denounced by our Lord in reply to the many criticisms heaped upon Him because of the healings and other good works wrought by Him on the Sabbath. "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath," said He, and then continued with the profound affirmation: "The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath." (Mark 2:27, 28.)
Christ came not to destroy the Law of Moses but to fulfil it; and through Him the law was superseded by the Gospel. The Savior rose from the tomb on the first day of the week; and that particular Sunday, as also the next, was rendered forever memorable by the bodily visitation of the resurrected Lord to the assembled Apostles and others. To the believers in the crucified and risen Savior Sunday became the Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10), and in time took the place of Saturday as the weekly Sabbath in the Christian churches.
The Church of Jesus Christ teaches that Sunday is the acceptable day for Sabbath observance, on the authority of direct revelation specifying the Lord's Day as such. In this, a new dispensation, and verily the last the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times-the law of the Sabbath has been reaffirmed unto the Church. It is to be noted that the revelation, part of which follows, was given to the Church on a Sunday (August 7th, 1831.)
"And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day. For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High. Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times. But remember that on this the Lord's day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord. And on this day thou shalt do none other