Modern Commentary Related to Chapter IV
RISE, PROGRESS, DECLINE, AND LOSS OF THE SCIENCE OF THEOLOGY ON THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE, AS BROUGHT TO LIGHT BY THE LATE DISCOVERY OF ANCIENT AMERICAN RECORDS.
The spirit world is moved, the silence broken,
The ancient Seers from out the ground have spoken.
The appointed years on time’s fleet wings have fled.
And voices whisper from the ancient dead.
Volumes of truth the sacred archives yield.
The past, the glorious future, stand revealed.
We are now, of necessity, carried back in our research to the cradle of nations, the Tower of Babel, in order to trace the history of this wonderful science, from the first emigration of a colony to the western hemisphere, till its final decline and overthrow, for the knowledge of which we are indebted to many ancient records, written by the fathers, or ancient students and professors of this science, on the western hemisphere.
Among these we will make honourable mention of the Prophets Jared, Ether, Lehi, Nephi, Mosiah, Alma, Abinadi, Mormon, and Moroni, who wrote and prophesied in the western hemisphere, during the several ages intervening between the time of the dispersion at Babel, and the fifth century of the Christian era.
By the science of Theology Jared and his brother led a colony from the great tower to the sea coast, conversing with the Lord, and walking by the light of His revelations on the way.
By this science they were instructed in the building of eight barges similar to the ark of Noah.
By this science their leader saw God, face to face, and talked with Him in plain humility, as one man talks with another, thus obtaining a knowledge of His future coming and Kingdom, and of the great events of all ages and generations.
By this science they were preserved on the great waters three hundred and forty-four days, and were then landed, with their eight barges, in the western hemisphere, together with their women, children, cattle, and seeds of every kind.
By this science they became a great nation, peopling the entire continent, and enjoying all the blessings of civilization and heavenly light.
By the abuse and neglect of it they were at length exterminated, in the days of their Prophet Ether, who lived about six hundred years before Christ came in the flesh.
By this science the Prophets Lehi and Nephi came out with a colony from Jerusalem, in the days of Jeremiah the Prophet, and after wandering for eight years in the wilderness of Arabia, came to the sea coast, built a vessel, obtained from the Lord a compass to guide them on the way, and finally landed in safety on the coast of what is now called Chili, in South America.
By this science they also became a great nation, enjoyed many visions, had the ministering of angels, and of many Prophets, by which means they knew of the coming, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
By this science they also enjoyed a personal visit of the risen
Redeemer, who descended from heaven in their presence, taught them his
Gospel, chose and ordained twelve of their number as Apostles, and
prophesied many things.
By this science these twelve and others established the Gospel, Church, and ordinances of God throughout the entire western hemisphere.
By this science their sick were healed, demons were expelled, the lame walked, the blind saw, the dumb spake, the deaf heard, and their dead were raised.
By this science three of those Apostles, having a change wrought upon them, tarried in the flesh upon the earth, ministered the Gospel and its blessings nearly four hundred years, and then withdrew from the people because of their iniquity, took away the keys of Apostleship and of the Gospel, and its powers, sealed up the records, and caused the work of healing, and of gifts and miracles, to cease from among the people, because of iniquity, bloodshed, and persecution.
By this science they yet live in the flesh upon the earth, holding keys of Apostleship and power upon the western hemisphere, being now about one thousand eight hundred years old.
By this science (being held in reserve above the powers of mystery Babylon,) they will soon go forth, prophesying, preaching the Gospel, and doing mighty signs and wonders in the midst of all nations, in order to complete and mature the Gentile fulness, and restore the tribes of Israel. Nor is this all—John, the beloved disciple among the Jews, is yet alive in the flesh, and is held in reserve, to “prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” as it is written.
But to return to our history of the western hemisphere. After the science of Theology had ceased to be cultivated and enjoyed among this branch of Israel, terrible wars and bloodshed ensued. Governments and civilization were broken up, cities and countries were overthrown, all records and vestiges of truth were diligently sought and destroyed, as far as obtained.
And, finally, the whole face of the country was soaked, as it were, in blood, and strewed with the dead and dying.
The wild beasts of the forest and fowls of heaven devoured their flesh, and their bones were left to moulder unburied.
In other instances bodies were heaped up, and covered with mounds of earth.
All government became extinct, and the countries overrun by tribes and bands of robbers at war with each other.
In this situation the records of Moroni leave them, in the fifth century of the Christian era, and much in the same situation, with some exceptions, the Europeans found them after the lapse of another thousand years.
Oh! who can contemplate the disgusting deformity, the dark features, the filthy habits, the idleness, the cruelty, the nakedness, the poverty, the misery, the sufferings, the ignorance of the descendants of this once favoured branch of the royal blood of Abraham and Joseph, and not weep for very anguish, while his bosom yearns, and the fountains—the depths of his inmost soul, are stirred and moved within him!
Reader, all these things have come upon them, on account of the abuses, the consequent decline, and final loss of the keys and powers, of the science of Theology.
But comfort your heart, their redemption is at the door.