Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Daniel Tyler on the Duties of Church Membership

The following appeared as Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Priesthood", Juvenile Instructor 13/11 (1 June 1878): 130.
A number of the foregoing chapters have been devoted to the different grades of priesthood. I will now say something about the duties of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Several of these duties are mentioned in what has already been said on the duties of the Lesser Priesthood - such as partaking of the sacrament, praying vocally and in secret, meeting together, etc. It is also implied that they must not hold any hard feelings towards one another, that they must not speak evil of one another, and that they must not tell lies or backbite one another. As we have already shown, it is the duty of teachers to see that none of these evils exist. Of course, then, it is the duty of members not to indulge in what the teachers must suppress when found among the Saints. The importance of being worthy to partake of the sacrament must be apparent to all who understand the gospel. Jesus said, "Except ye eat of my flesh and drink of my blood you have no life in you." This does not mean, as the Catholics hold, that the bread is transformed into the very body of Christ and the cup into His blood; but as He said in another place, "As oft as ye do this, do it in remembrance of me." And as St. Paul said, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." The substance of all that is revealed on this subject is that it brings to mind not only what sufferings Jesus endured for us and all mankind, but the consummation of the great plan of redemption laid "from before the foundation of the world," "the only name under heaven whereby man can be saved" and the Godlike love and union which should dwell with all Saints. Without this redemption Adam and Eve and all their posterity would have been eternally lost. No one from the beginning to the end of the world could have been resurrected to return to God, from Whom all our spirits came. Take away the atonement made by our great Redeemer and all our hopes of heaven, happiness and exhaltation would be lost - eternally and hopelessly lost. But through Him all may come to God and be saved.

The Saints should make the labors of the teachers easy by observing every known duty. Otherwise, the only benefit resulting from their labors will be that they have cleared their own skirts.

Through the faithfulness and obedience of the Saints, the teachers or presiding officers will not have any occasion to govern them. Joseph Smith once said to a stranger who enquired how he governed so great a people of so many nationalities and conflicting traditions, "I do not govern them. I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves." This is all that should be expected of teachers, or any other grade of priesthood.

One duty of vital importance is the building of temples, in which to perform ordinances for the living and the dead. Could those who feel indifferent to this duty once have the vision of their minds opened to the anxiety of those prisoners of hope on the other side of the vail, and be as anxious for the dead as many of the dead are for themselves through the living, the temples now in progress would soon be completed and filled and others going up. There are many little everyday duties to attend to. Our daily labors - feeding the hungry, if any be in our midst, clothing the destitute, visiting the sick, binding up the broken hearted, comforting those who mourn, encouraging the meek, uniting in our temporal as well as spiritual labors, being self-sustaining and independent of Babylon, and finally, keeping all the commandments of God.

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