Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Divine Help in Founding America

            In November 2015 I posted an entry titled “God’s Hand in the Founding of America.” I noticed recently that the post received more hits than normal, so I pulled it up to see why. I was astonished at how appropriate it is for today, and I decided that there was much in the essay that needs to be reposted.

            America is a nation that is deeply divided and filled with hate. There are obviously people who live in the United States but hate America, and there are obviously people living in the United States who love America enough to die for it. The first group of people is attempting to destroy the constitutional way of life that has made America great, and the second group recognizes the dangers facing America and is trying to “make America great again.”

            There are those people who say that black is white and white is black, who call evil good and good evil. There is so much fake news floating around that any intelligent person might have difficulty in determining what is true. What chance do the less intelligent people have to know the truth?

            The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ tells us that a prophet named Lehi lived in Jerusalem six hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ. He was troubled by the wickedness among his people, and he attempted to call them to repentance. However, they rejected his teachings and sought to kill him. The Lord directed Lehi to take his family into the wilderness. After eight years in the wilderness, they reached a large body of water, and the Lord directed them to build a ship in order to cross the water. They followed the Lord’s directions and eventually arrived in the Americas.

            The Book of Mormon tells the story of Lehi’s family and their experiences with God. Early in the record the Lord tells Lehi that He has prepared a place for them.

And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands (1 Nephi 2:20). 

            The Book of Mormon contains many references to this land of promise being “choice above all other lands” and the promise of prospering to all those who keep His commandments in this land of promise. The history of the people bears witness that they did prosper when they were righteous but suffered when wicked.

            Knowing that the Lord considers the Americas to be a land of promise to the righteous, it is no surprise that He had a hand in the founding of America. In a revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, December 16-17, 1833, the Lord says the following.

77 According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80; emphasis added). 

            We learn from the above scriptures that America is a choice land where righteous people will prosper. We also learn that God “raised up” the “wise men” who wrote the U.S. Constitution. The United States of America became a great nation by abiding by the divinely inspired Constitution. As we move away from the divine document, we fall from greatness.

            More than forty years ago on February 24, 1976, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke at Brigham Young University on the topic of “God’s Hand in the Founding of America.”  I believe that this message is more relevant today than when given, and I encourage you to read it for yourselves. He begins his address with the following statement: 

I look around me and find some very definite signs of the decay that is beginning to occur.  Corruption, crime, dishonesty, immorality, pollution, laziness, devotion only to special interests – these are signs that precede the fall of great civilizations.  We see so much evidence of these signs before our eyes.  Yet I realize the promise that has been given to us in this great land of America.  I also remember the prophecies concerning our great responsibilities to preserve that which we have been blessed with by God.  The Lord has promised to sustain the truth in this land.

            Elder Perry shares the words of several latter-day prophets that indicate that the Constitution and the United States will go through perilous times. Brigham Young said, “The time will come when the destiny of this nation will hang upon a single thread” (Journal of Discourses, 7:15). John Taylor says that the Constitution will be “torn to shreds” (The Gospel Kingdom, Deseret Book Co., 1943, p. 219). George Q. Cannon says that “the Constitution and free government under it will be sustained and preserved” (Journal of Discourses, 23:104). It is obvious from the words of these latter-day prophets and apostles that the U.S. Constitution and the nation will go through some difficult times before being preserved.

            One of the purposes for Elder Perry’s address to the students at BYU was to present the Church’s Bicentennial message to America.  The Church printed and distributed a document titled “God’s Hand in the Founding of America” in an effort to “reverse the trend and help chart the course of this country back toward righteousness….” The Church wanted the people of America to hear the following “unique messages.”

First, America’s early history began more than 2,000 years ago and is contained in an ancient and sacred record called the Book of Mormon.  Second, the discovery of America and the establishment of the United States was a part of God’s plan and were brought about by men who were inspired and guided by God.  And finally, America’s future destiny is dependent on the righteousness and morality of her families.

            Elder Perry emphasizes the importance of knowing and understanding America’s past. This seems especially pertinent when many of the rising generation do not know the meaning of the year 1776 or why we celebrate the Fourth of July. Elder Perry continues.

Why is it so important to know and understand America’s past? We know that history provides important lessons and warnings for today – lessons about God and his interest in the affairs of men; and warnings in the form of destructions that came to early American civilizations when they lost their reverence for family, morality, or God….

            America is now even further down the slippery slope of destruction than it was in 1976 when Elder Perry made his presentation. America is still a land of promise but on certain conditions. The determination of whether God prospers us or destroys us is determined by our righteousness and our obedience to commandments of God. Will we learn from history, or will we follow previous civilizations in the path to destruction? It is up to us!

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