Sunday, October 30, 2011

Daniel Tyler on Repentance

Continuing this series of reprints, I found the following as Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: Repentance", The Juvenile Instructor 13/02 (15 January 1878): 23.
In my last article I wrote a few things about faith; merely telling my readers what it was and some of its effects. I hope they will read the lectures on faith in the fore part of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, where it is explained at greater length than I have space to write.

The second gospel principle is repentance. There are many views among the religious denominations on this subject; but I can see but one sensible explanation of it; that is to first cease to do wrong, and then, if we have injured anybody, to do our best to make it right, and be sorry enough not to repeat the same wrong or any other, so far as our weak natures will allow us to refrain.

It is not expected that we will become perfect all at once. All good men except Jesus have done some wrongs, but it is expected of all Latter-day Saints that they will continually strive to do less evil and more good. This is the fruit of repentance.

The Savior told Joseph Smith how he might know when people repented. He said they would confess their sins and forsake them. Now if we confess our sins or wrong doings, and do not forsake or quit them and strive to do better, that is an evidence that we have not repented.

I have heard sectarian ministers preach that repentance was to be sorry for sin; but if that doctrine were true we might say that everybody had repented, for all are sorry at times for their wrong doing. But there is no repentance unless they reform their lives. In fact, I think the word reform fills the place of the word repent, and would be as applicable as repentance. I think it means the same thing; and it makes no difference whether it be applied to persons in or out of the Church.

When John the Baptist preached the "gospel of repentance" to the Jews, he told them to bring forth fruit meet for repentance. That was to show by their good works that they really had intended to reform, or do better than they had been doing. They came to him by thousands and asked baptism at his hands, while they continued their wicked practices; but he said to them, "O generations of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."

He meant by this that, although great promises had been made to the seed of that great and good man, they could obtain them only on conditions of faithfulness and obedience; and as they were like many professed religious people now-a-days – very wicked – they must do better or it was needless for them to think of being baptized. And John might just as well have said, "If you do not attend to these things I would just as soon baptize a serpent as you, for all the good it would do you."

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