Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daniel Tyler on the Gospel Principles

Today I'm going to begin the process of reprinting a series of brief articles that appeared in the LDS youth periodical The Juvenile Instructor in 1878. These were written by Daniel Tyler, who became LDS in 1833, served as a sergeant in the Mormon Battalion, and was a mission president for Italy and Switzerland. He died in 1906. The initial installment here, I found as Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles", The Juvenile Instructor 13/01 (1 January 1878): 4-5:
Some months since I wrote several articles on the Book of Mormon for the benefit of young readers of the Instructor, which I hope were read and understood by them. I tried to write in plain and simple language, so as to convey my full meaning. If the children read and understood those articles I think they will also be able to comprehend what I now write on the principles of the gospel. To understand them properly they should carefully read them all.

First among these principles is faith. I suppose my readers will naturally ask, "What is faith?"

St. Paul, the greatest Apostle to the Gentiles, says it is "the substance (or assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It is not a belief in a mere statement that carries no weight of truth with it; but it is the evidence of something you have heard or read of (or it may be impressed upon your minds by the Holy Spirit) which you never saw. Evidence means a strong conviction of truth. Testimony which is not convincing to the mind is not evidence.

To illustrate I will say that but few who read this article ever saw the prophet Joseph Smith, yet you have, perhaps, read his history, and been told by your parents and others that they have seen and conversed with him; hence you have it firmly fixed in your minds that such a man as Joseph Smith really lived. You have no doubt of it. This conviction of truth is faith. You have read the revelations which were given through him to the Elders and to the Church. You have an inward conviction of their truth. Everything goes to prove to your minds that they are the words of the great Redeemer. That strong impression of truth is faith.

You have read and heard that there is a God who created all things that exist, both in heaven and on the earth. You have seen thousands of living creatures. You know they could not have created themselves. When you behold them you ask how the first ones came, and you are told that God made them, and that He made the world and all other worlds. Then you ask who is God, and what is He like.

Your parents, being Latter-day Saints, tell you that He is a pure, holy being; that He is immortal, that is, not subject to death, and has all power to do whatever He pleases for the good of His children, of whom we form a portion. They also tell you that we were created in His image and likeness, or form, and that He is our Father in Heaven; that is, the father of our spirits.

This looks reasonable to you. You think a great deal about it, and it is firmly settled in your minds that it is as they have told you. You believe it with all your hearts. This belief is faith.

You are also told by your parents and by the Elders that Jesus, the son of God, will come in a few years, to reign on the earth a thousand years; and that all the faithful Saints, whether they are now living or dead, will reign with Him. You have no doubt about it – you mean to be numbered with them. That strong evidence is faith.

You sow or plant grain. You are confident if you attend it well you will have a good crop. That assurance in your minds is faith.

Faith is the prompter, or moving cause, of all our actions, both spiritual and temporal. By faith the sick are and were healed, the dead were and will be raised to life. By faith God made the worlds and keeps them in their proper order and places. By faith He does and always will exist. By faith and obedience to His laws we may dwell eternally with Him in the heavens.

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