November 23, 2009

Amasa M. Lyman's Dundee Sermon: "Nature of the Mission of Jesus"

B.H. Roberts believed apostle Amasa M. Lyman was "doubtless the most persuasive and forceful speaker in the church” during his prime.1 Unfortunately for Lyman, one particular sermon garnered enough attention from his fellow apostles to eventually lead to Lyman's estrangement from that Quorum, and ultimately, to excommunication.

The 1862 sermon on the atonement of Christ was delivered at Dundee, Scotland and was published in the Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star. Perhaps its seemingly innocuous message was overlooked so long because it didn't seem too far away from mainstream LDS thought even then. About five years later the sermon came up again after some of Lyman's more radical sermons came to the attention of church leaders. Lyman was stripped of his apostleship after declining the opportunity to recant and publicly criticizing his fellow apostles. Wilford Woodruff called Lyman's views on the atonement "the worst herricy man can preach." The majority of what Woodruff and others found objectionable is toward the conclusion of the sermon.2

The following is a full transcript of Lyman's Dundee sermon. It was not the only instance where Lyman shared his controversial views but it was cited as a primary reason for Lyman's trouble with the Quorum. I divided the extremely lengthy original paragraphs into thematic segments, marking the original paragraphs with a pilcrow (¶). I also added footnotes and compiled the sermon's scripture references in an appendix. A few footnotes mention patterns in the sermon. I haven't fully fleshed out my thoughts, so they are preliminary.


“‘Nature of the Mission of Jesus.’ A Discourse by President Amasa M. Lyman Delivered in Dundee, Scotland, March 16, 1862,” The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, No. 14, Vol. 24, April 5, 1862, pp. 209-217.

¶ I feel grateful this morning, my friends, that I enjoy another opportunity of meeting with you, and to enjoy with you the comforts of the reflection that, though time has been passing since we last met, we still survive those whom its resistless current has borne away, to meet again, as we continue our labour for the attainment of that happiness, the existence of which renders sure to us the realization of our hopes, if we continue to act and live in harmony with the law and purposes of our being.

We have no matter to interest us but the truth, no labour in which to be engaged but in the acquirement of a knowledge of its principles and their application; and as the fountain of truth, from its boundless extent, is exhaustless, of course we have not acquired a knowledge of it all as yet.  There remains an infinitude of knowledge yet to acquire; and if we could compare the little we know with what remains in the future to be learned, its comparative littleness in point of extent and magnitude, would appear. But small as the amount of knowledge may be that we possess, we know that the knowledge of the truth developed within us constitutes all of ability and capacity that we possess for the acquirement of intellectual or physical happiness.

To continue and extend this good work is the labour that should engage us continually, calling into exercise all of our ever-increasing powers for the development of human happiness. I have no labour in which to engage myself, only to exert what influence I may possess to lead people to an understanding of the truth, that they may be enlightened, consistent worshippers of God, consistently religious, and honestly devoted in their religion to the love of God and the truth, which brings freedom to the soul from the bondage of ignorance, sin, and death. And in order that they may be so, mankind must have knowledge; for how could we act consistently for the accomplishment of any purpose of which we were ignorant? We can only hope to act consistently by having a knowledge of the truth.

There is no great difficulty in understanding that the knowledge of the truth, as unfolding to our open minds to some extent the purposes of God in our being, is the first and most valuable blessing connected with our existence as intellectual human beings here upon the earth; for only by this knowledge so reveled can our actions be correctly [210] and consistently regulated, and all other blessings will follow as a natural consequence of the presence of this knowledge in the soul. We have not come here, then, to worship religion, or bow down to it with the soul’s reverence and adoration, good as it may be, valuable as it may be, and dearly as we may have learned to look upon it. Our worship on the present occasion should be an honest, earnest desire to know the truth of which we are ignorant, with a fixed determination to give that truth an application to ourselves. Then our worship would be acceptable to God, the object of our worship, and our offering would be pleasing in his sight.3 Such a worship would render a people offering it acceptable to God, for it would be honestly, consistently and intelligently offered by beings who understood the nature of their worship.   

We should remember that the blessing that is to result from our worship and devotion to God, from all our services rendered to him, is the good that it will bring to ourselves. We can render to God no happiness, offer unto him no adoration or homage that would compensate him for seeing us degraded and damned, instead of seeing us saved and exalted to everlasting life and infinite happiness. This is the purpose for which we were made and constituted with the germ of every principle of greatness and power implanted within us, that under he enlightening and fructifying influence of the Gospel we might emerge from our condition of ignorance and nakedness to put on the habiliments of light and glory. It is the happiness resulting from a consistency and harmony of developed knowledge that makes heaven a place to be desired—a place where joy is developed without sorrow, where pleasure is unalloyed with anguish or pain, where death finds no habitation, and misery no abode; but where glory and happiness, truth, light, and life that has no sorrowing termination are continually found. 

That this might be our lot, and that we might be raised to enjoy these blessings, was the purpose that induced our Father to give us a being upon the earth. Then no senseless worship, (and by senseless I mean that which is ignorantly offered, unguided by a knowledge of the truth,) no worship that is blindly and ignorantly presented, is acceptable before him; but that which is radiant in the light of truth, and that comes from a soul made free by the knowledge of God, is the only acceptable worship that can be rendered to him. That we may be enabled to become devoted to God, loving the truth because we comprehend its value and feel its emancipating influence upon the mind, awakening within us aspirations for glory and endless life, and feeling the chains that have held us in the bondage of ignorance bursting asunder, and emerging into that world of glowing light and fadeless glory to which our heavenly aspirations direct us,—to establish this upward and glorious tendency in the feelings of the soul, is the object for which religion has been revealed to us, that through the truth we acquire we may be prepared for this glory as children of God.

¶ This view of religion should influence us, because it is right. “Well now,” says one, “if I could only know that it is right! What are the evidences in support of its being so? Do the Scriptures tell us it is right?” Suppose they do not tell us anything about it at all, could we know, comprehend, or understand anything about it? Would we be capable of having developed within us a principle of truth, supposing that the record contained in the Bible had never reached us? I know we would be the same thinking beings we are now. Our minds would not be closed up, and our powers of thought and reflection rendered incapable of action, but we would think of everything we saw, everything that presented itself to our minds furnishing material for thought and reflection. Where would we find the evidences that this view of religion and worship would be acceptable to God as a right one, calculated to elevate his children and exalt them to happiness and glory in his presence? Why, within ourselves, where reflection has its origin. We are capable of knowing that if we pursue the path of truth and travel in the ways of peace, falsehood and contention can never lie at our doors. Could we appreciate the difference between being surrounded with turmoil and strife to being surrounded by scenes of an opposite character—[211] between the blessings of harmony and peace understood and appreciated and contention that was entirely in opposition to our feelings and desires, we would exert all our influence in favour of peace—peace continually rich in the development of happiness and blessing. There is no mind, however darkened by skepticism or unbelief, that could question this. It is a truth, and a plan that commends itself to every mind that is open to conviction. This, then, is my reason, and the reason I assign to you, that the worship I have described is acceptable to God, because it makes you and me feel better, and saves us from the curse of strife and contention. And as it relieves you and me, so it would release from this misery and wretchedness all who would give it an application as we do.

¶ Whether this view of the matter is consistent or not with truth and reason, many would feel a delicacy in coming to a conclusion, unless they could know it was consistent with the Scriptures. But what are the Scriptures? They are simply a record of a small portion of what God is said to have done with and for the inhabitants of the earth during a small portion of the time that the earth has been the home of humanity. The Apostle instructed the ancient Saints to “prove all things and hold fast that which is good;”4 and as the Scriptures form a part of all things, they are part of that which is to be proved, and, when found good, to be retained. But we have been taught that they are not only true and in every way sufficient for the salvation of man, but that they have been made, by a marvelous exercise of credulity, to extend over all the broad surface of human existence. There is no point so far remote in that dark and indefinite future that extends away before us, but they are made to extend there, and have their application to human beings with equal force upon all. This involves us in a great amount of difficulties, and a few of those which surround us are something like these:

We are told that the Scriptures contain what is necessary and requisite for the salvation of humanity, and that the fullness of the Gospel contained in them was not revealed till Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God.5 Considering it thus, the reflecting mind in a moment is troubled with this question—If it was necessary, when Jesus came into the world, that all the Gospel truth should be made known and sustained by all the power he had, and if it required that power for the proclamation of the Gospel and its ministration, that it should become a perfect to those who should believe it, what has been the condition of the many millions who have never had any understanding of it? What is to become of them? For if it was necessary at any one time to save men and women constituted as we are—if a knowledge of its principles was requisite to secure their salvation, does it not prove to us that it was and is necessary for every other person constituted as we are and sustaining the same relationship to God as we do. Now, from the light of the Gospel as it is revealed in the Scriptures of truth, and at the time when Jesus was its greatest exponent, we arrive at our conclusions that this being necessary at that time, it was always necessary,—that there never was a time when humanity did not need all that Jesus taught for the consummation of their exaltation and glory.

¶ Another of the difficulties which surround us in our efforts to arrive at a comprehension of the truth is that we suppose, under the influence of our education, (and our suppositions are according to our education,) that the Gospel was not revealed in its fullness until the meridian of time, when Jesus came, the great herald of mercy and expositor of the Gospel to man. A little calm reflection will lead us to know that this conception is erroneous and at war with the purposes of God. “Well, if that is so,” you may say, “how are we to become satisfied of it?” By looking at the mission of Jesus and the gospel he came to preach, not from where we are, but, leaving the mists of tradition, (the fogs of error that becloud the minds of men here,) travel backward on the stream of time to the point when the purpose of man’s being as the child of earth was formed by God, and the Gospel had a formation suited to his constitutional wants and requirements. We will find, when it first became a purpose in the mind of our Father that man should live on the earth, the point we seek. If we possess any degree of imaginative power, let us go back to that point, that we may learn, by contemplating man as he appeared there, the nature of his constitution as it was determined by the purpose of God, what he was constituted for, and the nature of that Gospel that was there prepared to be revealed in the future for all humanity. “But were there men there?” Oh, yes. If no others were there, “the man Christ Jesus” was there; and others were with him too, for it is said, “The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”6 “Well, if men were there, what kind of men were they? and how were they constituted?” Why, just as we are. I do not say they were weak and sickly as we are, nor corrupt as degenerated man has become. They were not the subjects of disease and pain, as we are; but they possessed the same constitution, with minds having the same properties as ours—possessing the same germs of greatness, influence, and power. Thus constituted, man was there, the subject of his Father’s care and provision—the leading object, the primal object that moved the mind of the Father in the great enterprise of developing intellectual humanity  upon the earth—of sending out His children here upon the earth, that they might return to Him clothed in a fadeless glory and exalted to majesty and power in those abodes of celestial bliss where they might drink of the cup of felicity drawn from an exhaustless fountain.

Man thus constituted was man for whom the Saviour was prepared—man who had never sinned—who had never perpetrated a wrong. For man thus pure and holy, thus unstained by guilt or wrong, pure as the Father who had given him his constitution, the Saviour was prepared and the Gospel was ordained. “But was it decreed, then, that Jesus should die to save men who were thus pure and holy?” No: it did not form any part of the purpose of God that he should die. “What, then, was he ordained to as a Savior?” Why, to be a Prophet, Priest, and King,—a preacher of the Gospel of the kingdom of God. “What! was he ordained there to officiate thus, when in the meridian of time he should travel among his brethren shrouded in mortality?” Why, yes. When he came into the world, he told the people that he came to do the will of his Father, and none other work had he to do than he had seen his Father doing.7 What was the work he came doing? Read the history of John the Baptist as he went preaching from place to place, and continue it down until the time when Herod shut him up in prison, so that he could not preach to the people any longer, and there you will find that Jesus followed his forerunner in the great work of human instruction—that he came preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God.8 Was it a part of his preaching to people that he came to pour out his life’s blood—that in its crimson tide the guilt of a sin-stricken world might be washed away? Did he speak of his death as the object to which their thoughts and attention should be turned? Why, he told them to cease from sinning and turn unto righteousness—to put evil and corruption from hem and live in purity and holiness before God. What did he say to the poor unfortunate woman brought before him, when her hypocritical accusers slunk in guilty silence away before the majesty of his rebuke? “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone!”  Looking up and seeing her standing with downcast eyes, he said, “Go thy way and sin no more.”9 That was the lesson he inculcated to all—“Cease to do evil, learn to do well.” I wish you to remember this incident in the history of Jesus—to treasure up this little portion of the Scriptures in your minds. It will not be unwieldy, or troublesome to carry; and when you wish to see the principle upon which God designed to save mankind, you will see there, when you look at it, a truthful reflection of the principles upon which he purposed to exalt poor sinful humanity—of how man, whom you saw so pure and holy before he became a denizen of the earth, was to return to the scenes of hallowed felicity from whence he had come; not on the crimson tide of Emmanuel’s blood poured forth on Calvary’s mount, but by ceasing the perpetration of those wrongs which have brought misery, suffering, and death upon the family of man. This is the Gospel that was de-[213] termined in yonder heavens before the foundations of earth were laid.

“But does not Scripture speak of Jesus as a ‘Lamb slain from the foundation of the world?’”10 “Why,” says one, “I supposed that it was predetermined before the world was that Jesus must die, and that naught but his blood could bring God’s children back to the home from whence they had simply gone abroad for a time.” Is it said so in the scriptures? No. This is the inference we draw from the fact that we see humanity cursed with sin till we travel back beyond that time when sin brought misery and death upon the race. We contemplate them as having the black stain of wrong fixed upon them; and seeing them thus, we conceive this to be something that had its origin in the purposes of our Father, which caused it to be predetermined that Jesus must die, or man could never return back again to the bosom of his Father. What was necessary, before man transgressed, that he should be saved? Why, simply, that he should be taught. The infant being, inhaling for the first time the free air of heaven with opening mind, simply needed to have principles of truth kept ceaselessly before it to lead from its undeveloped condition onward and upward to God. Instead of man’s becoming the corrupt degraded being we now behold him, he only needed healthy, truthful, and pure elements of knowledge imparted to him continuously, as his enlarging capacity prepared him to receive them, in order to become all that he was constituted to become as the child of God. Without this, he could not reach the high destiny that was made attainable for him. Was a Gospel combining the elements of this instruction prepared that it might bring happiness, blessing, and eternal life to man? Yes. But did not this Gospel have associated with it, as a necessary pre-requisite for man’s salvation, the death of Jesus? No; for if so, he failed to tell the people the true nature of the Gospel he preached and his mission among men, and the means by which eternal life was to be gained. He said it was eternal life to know God. He told this to men who were constituted to learn, who could receive not one lesson, but with minds constituted to receive knowledge eternally. This was the constitution of the human mind; and, for the benefit of men thus constituted, he said, when praying to the Father, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”11 This is what you and I need to know, that our worship may be acceptable to God as being first conducive to our happiness, enlightenment, and emancipation from the bonds of ignorance and death.12 Shall we, with all these reasons before our minds, arrive at any other conclusion other than that man was constituted to become possessed of knowledge, and the Gospel constituted of what would lead him to the acquirement of that knowledge. The Gospel is nowhere said to be constituted of the death of Jesus. Where shall we find in the record of his teachings anything that would sustain such an idea? Nowhere. We see him as he was revealed among humanity, and read the truths he taught, so far as they have been transmitted to us through an imperfect medium; and we can see that his life was devoted to the truth, if the light of heaven has given to us any degree of understanding.13

¶ What, then, was the nature of the mission of Jesus when he came into the world? Some may be startled, doubtless, at the idea that it was not necessary, as having been predetermined and designed by the purposes of the Father, that Jesus should die. Did it ever occur to you how the death of Jesus could effect intellectual humanity? Did you ever think of it? But that we may entertain no wrong reflection on this point, I will call your attention to a parable spoken by Jesus, as recorded in Matthew xxi., 33—39, expressive of the nature of his mission.14 He speaks of an individual who owned a vineyard, and let it out to certain husbandmen; and when the season came round, he sent his servants to receive the fruits of it, or collect the rent, as would be said now. He had let the vineyard, and he sent his servants down to receive that which was justly his from those in whose care it was. But these men cast the servants out—beat one, killed another, and stoned a third, and would not pay the rent. Other embassies were sent and treated in the same manner as the first. At last the master [214] said, “I will send my son down to them. If they have abused my servants, they will not presume to abuse my son and heir.” What did the master say he was sending the son down for? Simply to collect the rent—to be the same representative of the master’s interests that the servants who preceded him were. How did the husbandmen receive the son? They said, This is the son and heir. If we can kill him and get him out of the way, then the inheritance will be our own, for there will be no heir to it. The result was, the son was killed the same as those who had been sent before him. If Jesus knew it was necessary that they should be killed, as a part of the mission they were sent to perform, he failed to say so. They were killed because of the wickedness and murderous designs of those to whom they were sent, and the purposes of the master in sending them were not then accomplished. If the rent had been faithfully and honestly paid, there would have been no wrong done, no murder committed. Why did they do this evil? —why commit the murders which stained their souls with guilt and crime? Because they followed after an evil thought, and, being seduced by corrupt reasoning, concluded that they would reap some advantage if they could cast out those who were sent to them. These servants and this dear son were alike killed. The same procuring causes led to the same result in the one case as in the other. I wish you to have Jesus’ own interpretation of his mission into the world. Jesus has shown how the servants and the son came, and how they were treated when they did come; but he never said it was necessary that they should die. That they did die is a sad fact. The mission of Jesus to the earth not only cost him poverty and misery, but it cost him his life. Now, when we look at this parable and consider, in connection with it, that eternal life is “to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent,” and that this knowledge alone can raise mankind from their misery and degradation to enjoy the blessings of salvation, we see clearly that the Gospel was prepared before the foundation of the world to educate men and lead them from their weakness and ignorance to knowledge, through which and by which alone they could become clothed with the habiliments of might and glory.

Men were all constituted alike to receive, understand, and acquire knowledge; and the great necessity with regard to the coming of Jesus was that man could not be redeemed and exalted without knowledge, which constitutes the Gospel “the power of God unto salvation,” that would enable man thus enlightened to comprehend the purpose of his own existence, and the nature of his relationship to the Father. That human action would become rightly and properly directed under its influence, the Gospel was prepared, because the moment God entertained the design to exalt humanity to glory and immortality within himself, the provision of the means that were required to accomplish his designs became a necessity. If it had not been so, Jesus would never have been put in jeopardy, nor any of the Prophets and Apostles have suffered from cruelty and persecution; but the very salvation of man depending upon his becoming enlightened rendered it imperative that that which would bring the Gospel within his reach should be done. Thus Jesus, at the time of his manifestation on the earth, became the great expositor of the Gospel. If he had declared that it was his blood that would cleanse us from sin, we would not have questioned it. “But does not the scripture say his blood cleanses from sin?” Why, yes. John speaks of “Him that loved the us and washed us from our sins in his own blood;”15 and if that was all we knew of John, we would be led to form our conclusions from that saying. But there are some other things to be considered concerning him before our thought ripens into conviction. He was one of those to whom Jesus said, hen opening his mission, as they toiled with their nets on the blue waters of Palestine, that if they would come with him, he would make them fishers of men. Did he become obedient to that call? Yes.16 Then, as through his future life, he rendered a ready response to the voice of him whom he learned to love so dearly. He was one of those who were baptized for the remission of sins; he was taught of Jesus and was ordained by him as his Apostle to represent him when he was gone. [215] Under the sound of the voice of Jesus, he learned those truths which he was to proclaim to the nations as Heaven’s ambassador and representative, and, in learning them, learned their worth—their priceless value, and learned to govern himself and regulate his actions by them. This is the way John became cleansed from sin—by acting consistently with the truth he had learned, and doing no wrong, and not by the blood of Jesus in any other way applied. Do you see any connection between the shedding of the blood of Jesus and the regeneration of the great Apostle John, the friend of Jesus, who shared with him his sorrows and rejoiced under his teachings, the beloved disciple who had leaned in the fondness of his soul upon the breast of that Master he so dearly loved, and who, when he regarded his own salvation, could not take into account all it had cost and leave out the tragedy of Calvary. He had seen him whom he had traveled and lived with—whom he had learned to appreciate and love with the heart’s fondest affections,—he had seen him in his sufferings and misery, and witnessed the excruciating agonies he endured in Gethsemane and on Calvary. Could he forget all this? No; the thoughts moved by the rising sympathy of the soul assumed consistency and form, and said, “Can I forget the cost of the proclamation that brought all that life and light to my soul which I enjoy—that said to the captive soul, ‘Go forth to life and glory and freedom,’ and which cost the lifeblood of my brother and my God?” This was the estimate made in the mind of the Apostle when he calculated the cost of what had brought salvation to him. Yet it was by doing just as Jesus told the poor frail woman to do—“Go thy way and sin no more.” It was thus, when John ceased to do sin, that he was cleansed from sin. I wish you to see and understand this, because I do not wish you in the future to bear record that I ever used an influence to lead humanity to believe that they could derive salvation, or a freedom from the consequences of sin, only by ceasing from sinning. I learn this from what I have learned of the Gospel.

Did Jesus go about seeking to procure his own death, that the world might benefit by it? No. Did he know that such would be his fate? Yes. Where did he learn that it would be so? Why, yonder in the heavens, before the foundation of the earth was laid, when the great scroll on which the records of humanity were written was spread out before him, and in the light of truth the history of humanity was read. It was known then that Jesus would thus die, that the wickedness and evil passions of mankind would cause his death. Then he was known as the “Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.”  He could not be known in any other character, because his mission was to lead him where men were vile and wicked—men who could believe they could gain some advantage by slaying the Son as they had slain the servants who preceded him. What I find fault with is that when we are told the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all sin, without any effort on our part to do right, it is virtually a proclamation to us that we can do nothing for ourselves;  and then we will sit down supinely waiting for the blood of Jesus to free us from the consequences of the wrongs we are committing—for the work that God has done or will do to take effect, when we are the authors of the wrongs that exist. It is you and I who do wrong, and from that wrong we want to be saved. How can we be saved from it but by ceasing to do the wrong? Did Jesus say the wicked who continue to do wrong shall be saved? No. With all the power he possessed as the Son of God, and with all the glory he was heir to, he could not save the sinner in his sins. He could only bless those who hearkened to the truth he taught and ceased to do wrong. Listen to his language when he looked upon the city where prophets had raised their warning voice again and again:—“O, Jerusalem! Jerusalem! how often would I have gathered you, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!”17 If he had power, why did he weep over the city devoted to ruin? Why lament over its approaching desolation? Because its inhabitants would not listen to his offers of mercy. He reviewed how often Prophets had been sent to them and rejected, and how last of all the [216] darling of the Father had been send, whom they treated with contumely and bitter persecution; and yet he could not, with all the God-like charity and ability he possessed, save the unbelievers who still persisted n their iniquities. Who were saved? Why, those and those only who laid off their iniquities. They were the recipients of his mercy, and the only ones who could receive the blessings of the Gospel.

¶ I wish you to look upon this consistently, and reflect upon it. My remarks have not been made to insinuate any criticism upon the opinions of others, but I wish you to look upon them reasonably, because I wish to place before you an incentive to practice  virtue, cultivate charity, and live lives of truthfulness. I would be as glad as any one if I could believe and understand that my salvation was sure simply because Jesus had died. What would there be to hinder me from being happy? But I cannot believe it, and I will show you a reason why. I cannot believe it, because, if I am a liar, there cannot people enough in the world leave off lying to constitute me a truthful man. Suppose I were to profess religion, and day after day continued lying, what would I be? Why, I should be a liar! Although numbered among a congregation of so-called believers, and consequently one of those taught to look forward to salvation as the reward of those who simply believe in Jesus, which they blindly suppose they do by adopting the false opinions of their teachers. If there is any one thing in the wide region of delusion more soul-destroying than another, it is this. What difference does it make to me, though I thus believe? I am a mean man, a false man, because I am a liar; consequently, an impure man. Yet by this false religion I am taught, with all that impunity and falsehood clinging around me, and without one effort to cast it off, to aspire to a seat in the mansions of perfect purity, where God reigns! “But,” says one, “we must forsake our wrongs in order for the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from our sins.” This is all I ask you to do. When you cease from all wrongs, I do not care what you say has cleansed you from sin; but I do not want you to believe that the blood of Jesus has cleansed you from all sin, and yet see you going down to perdition because you have continued to sin. I want you to understand that by practicing purity continually, by being righteous and holy, honest with our God and with one another,—by this means we will avoid doing evil. All is embraced in that creed that calls upon us to love our neighbor [sic] as ourselves and devote our hearts to God:—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy might, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; and thy neighbor as thyself.”18 You shall love your neighbor, the man and the woman with whom you associate as you love yourself. But who are your neighbors? All those people around us. Who acted the neighbor’s part to the poor, beaten, wounded, and robbed traveler [sic] who lay by the wayside? The Samaritan who relived his wants, dressed his wounds, and cared for him with a brother’s tenderness, or the Levite and Jew who passed by on the other side and left him to perish? Was not the Samaritan the best man as evinced by the discharge of the neighbor’s duty to the poor sufferer?19 Who were the Samaritan, the Jew, and the wounded traveler? Why, simply so many of God’s children, sent into the world for the same holy purpose. Why love your neighbor as well as yourself? Because he is just as good as you are, descended from the same high parentage as the Saviour who came into the world that sinners might be saved and exalted. For whom did he die? For you and me, and not for our neighbor? No; but alike for us all. He did not command his Apostles to go and preach to a few for whom he died, but to go and preach to “every creature,” saying, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.”20 What would have been the utility or wisdom of extending their mission at all, of only a part could have been benefited by it? All were alike the objects of the Father’s parental care, and were alike provided for, if they could only do that which Jesus could not do for them, and which you and I would blush to ask him to do. You could not ask him to cease lying for you, to avoid corruptions for you, to become godly, pure, holy, and righteous [217] for you—a possession of the fulness of the principles which have exalted him to immortality and endless life. No. But if we practice the same principles, they will place us in a similar position of happiness and exaltation. You may ask God to help you and strengthen you; you may invoke his blessings to be ever round about you, and the genial influence of his Spirit is waiting to be with you, to bestow upon you the blessings you lack and desire to obtain. If you do not possess it, it is because you have not prepared a place for it to dwell with you. This is what I want you to see and understand; and that God may bless you and preserve you in your departure from doing wrong, in breaking off your sins by righteousness and your iniquities by turning unto God, is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Reported by E.L. Sloan.


Scriptures Referenced:
Job 38:7.
Matthew 4:19 (Mark 1:17).
Matthew 14:3-14.
Matthew 21:33-39.
Matthew 22:37-39 (Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27).
Matthew 23:37 (Luke 13:34).
Mark 16:15-16.
Luke 10:30-37.
John 5:19.
John 8:2-11.
John 17:3.
1 Thessalonians 5:21.
Revelation 1:5.
Revelation 13:8.

B.H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Century 1 (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1930), 5:83. The illustration of Amasa Lyman is from Loretta Hefner's article, "From Apostle to Apostate: The Personal Struggle of Amasa Mason Lyman," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 (Spring 1983), p. 90.

Wilford Woodruff's Journal, ed. Scott G. Kenney (Signature Books, 1984), 6:321-22. Woodruff's journal entry for 26 December 1866 describes the circumstances: "The subject of A Sermon Preached by A Lyman and published in the Millennium Star April 5, 1862, in vol 24 was brought up & red & it was found to have done away with the Efficasy of the blood of Christ....When you do away with the blood of the Savior you do away with all the Gospel & plan of Salvation. If this doctrin as Preached by A Lyman . . . be preached & Published as the doctrins of the Church & not Contradicted by us it would not be long before there would be syms [schisms] in the Church. This doctrin as Preached in this Sermon is fals doctrin. If we do not believe that it was necessary for Christ to Shed his Blood to save the world, whare is our Church? It is nothing. This does not Set well upon my feelings. It is grievious to me to have the Apostles teach fals doctrins. Now if the Twelve will sit down quietly & not Contradict Such doctrin are they justified? No they are not," (Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 6:308—9). See also Daniel C. Peterson, “Editor's Introduction: ‘The Worst Herricy Man Can Preach,’" FARMS Review 12:1 (2000) and Loretta L. Hefner, "From Apostle to Apostate: The Personal Struggle of Amasa Mason Lyman," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 (Spring 1983), 90-104. Edward Leo Lyman counters some of Hefner's conclusions in his biography, Amasa Mason Lyman, Mormon Apostle and Apostate: A Study in Dedication, (University of Utah Press, 2009). 

The pronouns “he”, “his,” and “him,” in reference to God the Father and Jesus Christ were typically not capitalized during this period of Church publications. That usage here should not be seen as reflecting a casual attitude towards the Father or the Son.

1 Thessalonians 5:21.

Typical proof-texts on the Bible’s sufficiency include 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Revelation 22:18.

Job 38:7. For an interesting approach to this verse see Kevin Barney, “On Preexistence in the Bible,” FAIR (date unknown).

John 5:19.

Matthew 14:3-14.

John 8:2-11.

Revelation 13:8.

John 17:3.

Over the course of the sermon Amasa has replaced the concept of "sin" with "ignorance." Sin, ignorance and death were previously grouped together.

Amasa appeals to the imperfection of the Bible but apparently also believes it contains a sufficient amount of the sayings of Jesus in terms of Christ's mission and sacrifice. Also he appears to overlook Pauline Christology altogether.

Matthew 21:33-39.

Revelation 1:5

Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17.

Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34.

Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27.

Luke 10:30-37.

Mark 16:15-16.