March 27, 2008

"Then you will prove..."

Heber C. Kimball March 2, 1856 As a digression during one of his discourses, President Kimball made the following remark:

It will not be fifty years, perhaps, before all of us here today will leave this state of existence, and then you will prove whether brother Brigham and the rest of the brethren have told you truth or not (JD 3:230).
Similar statements have been made by other prophets and leaders. Take, for example, Nephi's parting words:
And if they [the words written by Nephi] are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.
And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day (2 Nephi 33:11-12).
Jacob's final words were similar:
Finally, I bid you farewell, until I shall meet you before the pleasing bar of God, which bar striketh the wicked with awful dread and fear. Amen (Jacob 6:13).
Moroni closed the Book of Mormon saying
And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen (Moroni 10:34).
Joseph Smith concluded his monumental "King Follett Discourse" as follows:
You don't know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself...When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all. Amen.[1]
Contrast these with the purported statement of J. Golden Kimball, who jested something like "I can't wait to get to the other side to find out if all this stuff we've been preaching is true!"[2] Footnotes [1] The King Follett discourse may be Joseph's most important, at least most interesting, public sermon. The version found in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the History of the Church is actually a recreation of notes taken by various people at the meeting. Only two of the six known reports, the Thomas Bullock and Willard Richards reports, recorded the above quoted statement. A side-by-side comparison of the six reports can be found at the Book of Abraham Project website. See also Van Hale, "The Doctrinal Impact of King Follett Discourse," BYU Studies (1978) and Stan Larson, "The King Follett Discourse: A Newly Amalgamated Text," BYU Studies (1978). [2] Source forthcoming. I'll try to track this one down; I believe I may have heard it in James Arrington's historical fiction stage play about Kimball, or perhaps in my J. Golden quote book. I'll get the source, but I doubt that will add much veracity to the statement. It is, after all, a J. Golden story.

March 25, 2008

Angels and Outhouses

Jedediah M. Grant August 3, 1856 I wonder if an informal poll was taken how many people on the street would say that the phrase "cleanliness is next to Godliness" can be found in the scriptures. It can't. Some have traced the phrase's origin to a 1791 sermon by John Wesley which said "Slovenliness is no part of religion. Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness," but it seems he was referring to the phrase as though it were already in common usage. An earlier reference, though in different verbiage, was employed in Sir Francis Bacon's 1605 work Advancement of Learning: "Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God."[1] As part of the "Mormon Reformation" of the late 1850s Jedediah Grant, or as some of the Saints called him, "Brigham's Hammer" traveled through the Utah territory preaching fiery sermons enjoining residents to reform their lives in every way, spiritually, morally, and even physically. This excerpt does well to show how the spiritual and temporal could be blended together, as Grant refers to angels and cleaning outhouses:

I am aware that the Latter-day Saints require a great deal of preaching, and some of that, too, on subjects very easy of comprehension; I will tell you what I said to one of our home missionaries a few days ago, and I said the same to one of the brethren from Grantsville, when speaking to him about the petty wrangling there. They wanted a new local President and a new local Bishop, they wanted this, that, and the other, and wished to know what we had to say. I remarked, if you wish to know what I have to say, I will tell you. Said I, if an angel of God should come to that village, he would say to its inhabitants, "Repent and wash your bodies, repent and clean up your dooryards, repent and cleanse your outhouses," all of which I seriously think that they have very much need to do. After they have actually cleansed themselves and commenced doing right, and have cleansed their locality, I presume that then an angel, or a man of God, might tell them what further to do. I actually suppose that in the instructions which an angel of God would give, the very first lesson would be to teach cleanliness to the filthy, and then instruct them to keep themselves cleanly all the time. This is what our President is frequently teaching you; and yet you may go into some parts of this city, and you would actually think that affords no more water than would suffice for cleansing them. I like a place constantly kept clean, and that must be so to satisfy me, I not only want the history of a people's being clean, and of their having cleansed up their dooryards, outbuildings, and grounds, but I want them to do it. We have preached cleanliness at Fillmore, last winter; and when I went there lately I was pleased to see that they had made some little improvement. But there is still by far too much carelessness in this matter, and some people seem to love to live amidst filth, and to snuff its nauseous and unhealthy odors, when it would be far better to apply it to enriching your soil (JD 4:19-20).
Footnotes: [1] The exact origin of the phrase "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" is not certain. See William and Mary Morris, Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988. Gregory Y. Titelman attributes the saying to an early Rabbi:
According to the fourteenth edition of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, it is an old Hebrew proverb used in the late 2nd century by Rabbi Phinehas ben-Yair.
See Titelman, Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" (1996). The writers of make this comment:
"Cleanliness is next to Godliness" This is not in the Bible and no similar verses or concepts are found in the Bible, God does not seem to rate hygiene as a high priority. The origin is John Wesley, from a sermon he gave called “On Dress".
The writers of BibleUFO are careful to note that they do believe God travels in UFOs, but they do not believe God is an "alien."