Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Daniel Tyler on Signs

I found the following as Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: Signs", The Juvenile Instructor 13/05 (1 March 1878): 53.
After baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, there were certain signs followed the believers. This was in fulfillment of the promise Jesus made to His Apostles, saying, "These signs shall follow them that believe; in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover."

You will observe that the gifts here spoken of were to follow those who believed and obeyed the preaching of the gospel. Now, if Jesus had been an impostor it would have been easy to prove Him such, for, in that case, the signs would not have followed, and the deception would soon have ended. But it seems they did actually follow, the same as they follow the preaching of the gospel now.

The same chapter informs us that "they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following."

The signs must have been the same as promised or they would not have confirmed the word, or promise. Those same promises were renewed to Joseph Smith, and follow the believers now as much as then. The writer has witnessed them in scores of instances. So have thousands of others.

It appears to be almost needless to prove these things, and would be entirely so were it not that the present generation of so-called Christians have gone so far into infidelity as to deny them, though still claiming to believe in the Bible. They pretend to believe that they were only given to the Apostles to establish the gospel. But we have proved that the promise was to all those who believed, and were to all whom the Lord should call to repentance in every age until the earth shall be full of the knowledge of God.

I do not wish my young readers to think that spiritual or miraculous gifts are a sure sign or infallible proof of the truth of the gospel. They were never designed to convince unbelievers. You will find, by reading the 16th chapter of St. Mark, that there is not the slightest hint that any one should receive them until they believed. They were to be the result of faith; to confirm and strengthen those who already believed. Jesus told the people plainly that there should be but one sign given to the generation in which He lived. When the Jews asked Him for a sign, He replied: "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonas. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

We may infer from the sayings of Jesus that He would be taken by wicked hands and slain, and that His body would lie three days in the tomb, at the end of which time He would arise from the dead. We know that Jesus was crucified and lay three days in the grave. The fulfillment of the part of the prophecy which was given as the only sign to that generation none disputed. They saw Him nailed to the cross; they saw Him hanging there after He was dead. They saw Him taken down a lifeless corpse; they witnessed Him laid in the new sepulchre, or tomb; they saw an army of soldiers placed around the tomb as a guard to keep His followers, as they said, from stealing away His body. To double the assurance they saw a great stone rolled against the door. All of this was done because they remembered the sign Jesus had given them. He told them they might take that as a sign. This being given as a test, they were determined there should be no fraud. They would see that He did not get out of the grave on the third day. But, after all of their caution, lo! an angel rolled the stone away; the guards fell to the earth like dead men; the Redeemer of the world arose and walked out of the tomb, and those unbelievers never saw Him after. The sign had its fulfillment then, but He never appeared to those sign-seekers; not even to contradict the falsehood circulated by the soldiers who guarded the sepulchre – that His disciples stole His body while they were asleep. Yet He was in and out with His Saints for forty days, notwithstanding which, many years afterwards, when the New Testament was written, the Jews kept to the old fabrication that His followers stole His body. That one sign proved a curse instead of a blessing, for it condemned them, as they remained in unbelief.

It was the same then as it is now. The Lord told Joseph Smith that those who seek signs shall have signs, but not unto salvation.

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