Eliza Snow poem: “What It is to Be a Saint”

After some online written attacks on Joe’s work this past week, it was soothing to read Eliza’s poem this morning:

 

My heart is fix’d — I know in whom I trust.

‘Twas not for wealth — ’twas not to gather heaps

Of perishable things — ’twas not to twine

Around my brow a transitory wreath,

A garland deck’d with gems of mortal praise,

That I forsook the home of childhood: that

I left the lap of ease — the halo rife

With friendship’s richest, soft, and mellow tones;

Affection’s fond caresses, and the cup

O’erflowing with the sweets of social life,

With high refinement’s golden pearls enrich’d.

 

Ah, no! a holier purpose fir’d my soul;

A nobler object prompted my pursuit.

Eternal prospects open’d to my view,

And hope celestial in my bosom glow’d.

 

God, who commanded Abraham to leave

His native country, and to offer up

On the lone altar, where no eye beheld

But that which never sleeps, an only son;

 

Is still the same: and thousands who have made

A covenant with Him by sacrifice,

Are bearing witness to the sacred truth–

Jehovah speaking has reveal’d His will.

 

The proclamation sounded in my ear —

It reach’d my heart — I listen’d to the sound–

Counted the cost, and laid my earthly all

Upon the altar, and with purpose fix’d

Unalterably, while the Spirit of

Elijah’s God within my bosom reigns,

Embrac’d the Everlasting Covenant;

And am determin’d now to be a Saint,

And number with the tried and faithful ones

to stand unwavering, undismay’d,

And unseduc’d, when the base hypocrite,

Whose deeds take hold on hell, whose face is garb’d

With saintly looks drawn out be sacrilege,

From the profession; but assum’d and thrown

Around him for a mantle, to enclose

The black corruption of a putrid heart:

To stand on virtue’s lofty pinnacle,

Clad in the robes of heavenly innocence,

Amid that worse than every other blast,

The blast that strikes at moral character,

With floods of falsehood foaming with abuse:

But yet, to be a Saint requires

A noble sacrifice– an arduous toil–

A persevering aim; the great reward

Awaiting the grand consummation will

Repay the price, however costly; and

The pathway of the Saint the safest path

Will prove; though perilous: for ’tis foretold,

All things that can be shaken, God will shake:

Kingdoms and Governments and Institutes,

Both civil and religious, must be tried–

Tried to the core, and sounded to the depth.

 

Then let me be a Saint, and be prepar’d

For the approaching day, which like a snare

Will soon surprise the hypocrite– expose

The rottenness of human schemes– shake off

Oppressive fetters–break the gorgeous reins

Usurpers hold, and lay the pride of man–

The pride of nations, low in the dust!

 


Nephi re-purposing 2 Ne 1

It’s odd that when Lehi gives his last, fatherly blessings to his children, there isn’t one for his son Nephi. 2 Nephi 1 is addressed to his “sons” generally, but the majority seems clearly aimed at Laman and Lemuel. 2 Nephi 2 is for Jacob, 2 Nephi 3 is for Joseph, and the first part of 2 Nephi 4 is for Lehi’s grandchildren (Laman’s children, then Lemuel’s children). Even Zoram gets a few verses near the end of 2 Nephi 1. Perhaps there was a blessing for Nephi but Nephi didn’t record it (too sacred? too direct?), though it’s odd still that there isn’t even a summary. There is the mention that if Laman doesn’t keep on the right path that his “first blessing” will fall to Nephi (2 Ne 1:28-29), and in some other blessings others are told that they will dwell safely with Nephi and Nephi’s family (2 Ne 1:31). So there are hints of the blessings that fall to Nephi, but no recorded, quoted blessing for him as for the others in 2 Nephi 1-4.

In 2 Nephi 4:12, Nephi records Lehi’s death. A few verses later, he writes what is sometimes called “Nephi’s psalm.” It is vulnerable, pensive, and poetic. It has been used to write a song, set to the tune of “Be Still My Soul.” It also draws heavily from Lehi’s words to his sons in 2 Nephi 1, which may be Nephi’s way of mourning and working through his father’s passing. It could also be that, even though I naturally see 2 Nephi 1 as warning his brothers, Nephi took the words of 2 Nephi 1 as a warning for himself as well, and in some sense creates his own blessing out of Lehi’s words. Or, lastly, it could be that Nephi sees Lehi as his wise example, and wants to work through is own situation by following his father.

Whatever the reasons, there are some clear connections between 2 Nephi 1 and 2 Nephi 4. I don’t have time to find the exact quotations and verse numbers this morning unfortunately, and knowing me, I probably will forget to come back and add them. :/ But, here are the connections from my notes:

2 Ne 4 —- 2 Nephi 1

  • want to delight —- soul might have joy
  • sorrow because of my iniquities —- heart weighed down with sorrow
  • trusted, God has been my support
  • led, through afflictions, wilderness/deep —- God’s mercy even in rebellion upon waters, and also in warning to leave Jerusalem
  • heart weeps, soul lingers in valley of sorrow —- sleep of hell, chains
  • Awake my soul! —- Awake! Rise from the dust
  • Asks God to redeem, deliver —- Lord has redeemed my soul from hell
  • wilt thou encircle me in robe of righteousness —- I am encircled in the arms of his love
  • I will trust in God —- His righteous will be done forever

 


Equal Partners (rough draft)

(A rough draft of a section of a paper I might do on the Book of Moses)

Following the creation of Adam and Eve (in Moses chapter 2), God gives them these two  commandments:

“And I, God, blessed them, and said unto them:

  • Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and
  • subdue [the earth], and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Moses 2:28)

Notice that these two commandments are given to “them,” that is, to Adam and Eve together.

These two commandments will have to wait to be fulfilled until after Adam and Eve have left the garden; or, at least, no mention of their fulfillment comes until Moses 5. Between the giving of these commandments and the fulfilling of these commandments comes the Fall, which will have a dramatic effect upon both commandments and their relationship to each other.

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Book of Moses writing project: Dividing into Parts

I’m attempting a paper on the Book of Moses, which will focus on Adam and Eve, the transition from a couple-priesthood to a generational-priesthood, and the effect of the formation of Zion. For today, I just want to share how I see the Book of Moses dividing itself up into parts:

Part 1, Moses chapter 1, contains Moses’s encounters with God and Satan. God shows Moses a vision of the earth, and all the inhabitants, which prompts Moses to ask for more of the story. By the end of chapter 1, the conversation between God and Moses has wrapped up, and it ends with an “Amen.”

Part 2, Moses chapters 2-4, begins God’s account of the heavens and the earth. The central narrative story is about the creation of Adam & Eve and the Fall. This part also ends with an “Amen.”

Part 3, Moses 5, describes Adam and Eve’s life outside the Garden of Eden, including their labors, efforts to teach their children, and their children’s rebellion. It ends with two verses describing how God has reached out to Adam’s family so far (5:58-59), then ends with an “Amen.”

Part 4, Moses chapter 6 (first half), contains the story of righteous sons, grandsons, and so on, and the formation of a Priesthood. A record of Adam’s genealogy is kept, and quoted. I choose to see the end of the quotation, with the two verses which re-summarize the record (v. 22-23), as the end of part 4.

Part 5, Moses chapters 6 (second half)-7, contains the story of Enoch, including his vision and the building of the city Zion. Chapter 7 ends with Zion being taken to heaven and the all-capital words: “ZION IS FLED.”

Part 6, chapter 8, picks up the story after Enoch’s city leaves. It contains the story of Noah, up to the point where God decides to destroy the people.


“But if not:” a little extra oil

There was a talk a few years ago with the repeated line “but if not.” The talk encouraged Latter-day Saints to continue faithful even if the things they were hoping and praying for didn’t happen, or didn’t happen as they thought they should. (With the comforting footnote added that we are beautifully and abundantly provided for once we’re in heaven.)

This week, while talking with friends, we decided that we could also apply this same concept to hoping and praying about things in the Church as a whole.

For example:

We might watch a teacher and think they are just repeating what they’ve heard before, and we hope and pray for teachers to think and to study the scriptures more.

We might see a leader handling a situation badly (in our eyes), and hope and pray for leaders to use the handbook and the Spirit more.

We might listen to a conference talk, knowing that some will use its implications in ways that will be harmful to friends or family, and hope and pray for more careful attention.

In all these cases we may be right (or at least feel that we are right) to hope for change. “But if not” — if that change never happens — will we continue to be faithful? Will we continue to serve where called? Will we be charitable to others? Will we still sustain our leaders? Can we hold in tension our desire to see the improvements we think are necessary with our trust that God is still doing His work already?

I wonder if the parable of the ten virgins might be read this way. Note the difference between the foolish and wise virgins is just that the latter had extra oil “just in case.” They were all — those with extra oil and those without — at the right place. They were all there on time. They assumed they knew exactly when the bridegroom was coming. “But if not?” Well, then the wise ones had extra oil. Perhaps this parable is, in part, teaching us to be willing to accept and trust God’s plans, even when they are different than what we thought they would be.

May we be willing to hold these things in tension, and be there together whenever and however Christ’s work is made manifest.