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Articles of Faith/Differing versions/Text of various versions/1840 (Orson Pratt)
Articles of Faith: 1840 (Orson Pratt)
We now proceed to give a sketch of the faith and doctrine of this Church.
First, We believe in God the Eternal Father,and in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, who bears record of them, the same throughout all ages and for ever.
We believe that all mankind, by the transgression of their first parents, and not by their own sins, were brought un- [p. 25] der the curse and penalty of that transgression, which consigned them to an eternal banishment from the presence of God, and their bodies to an endless sleep in the dust, never more to rise, and their spirits to endless misery under the power of Satan; and that, in this awful condition, they were utterly lost and fallen, and had no power of their own to extricate themselves therefrom.
We believe, that through the sufferings, death, and atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind, without one exception, are to be completely, and fully redeemed, both body and spirit, from the endless banishment and curse, to which they were consigned, by Adam's transgression; and that this universal salvation and redemption of the whole human family from the endless penalty of the original sin, is effected, without any conditions whatsoever on their part; that is, that they are not required to believe, or repent, or be baptized, or do any thing else, in order to be redeemed from that penalty; for whether they believe or disbelieve, whether they repent or remain inpenitent, whether they be baptized or unbaptized, whether they keep the commandments or break them, whether they are righteous or unrighteous, it will make no difference in relation to their redemption, both soul and body, from the penalty of Adam's transgression. The most righteous man that ever lived on the earth, and the most wicked wretch of the whole human family, were both placed under the same curse, without any transgression or agency of their own, and they both, alike, will be redeemed from that curse, without any agency or conditions on their part. Paul says, Rom. v. 18. "Therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation; even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon ALL men unto the justification of life." This is the reason, why ALL men are redeemed from the grave. This is the reason, that the spirits of ALL men are restored to their bodies. This is the reason that ALL men are redeemed from their first banishment, and restored into the presence of God, and this is the reason that the Saviour said, John xii. 32, "If I be lifted up from the earth I will draw ALL men unto me." After this full, complete, and universal redemption, restoration, and salvation of the whole of Adam's race, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, without faith, re- [p. 26] pentance, baptism, or any other works, then, all and every one of them, will enjoy eternal life and happiness, never more to be banished from the presence of God, IF they themselves have committed no sin: for the penalty of the original sin can have no more power over them at all, for Jesus hath destroyed its power, and broken the bands of the first death, and obtained the victory over the grave, and delivered all its captives, and restored them from their first banishment into the presence of his Father; hence eternal life will then be theirs, IF they themselves are not found transgressors of some law.
We believe that all mankind, in their infant state, are incapable of knowing good and evil, and of obeying or disobeying a law, and that, therefore, there is no law given to them, and that where there is no law, there is no transgression; hence they are innocent, and if they should all die in their infant state, they would enjoy eternal life, not being transgressors themselves, neither accountable for Adam's sin.
We believe that all mankind, in consequence of the fall, after they grow up from their infant state, and come to the years of understanding, know good and evil, and are capable of obeying or disobeying a law, and that law is given against doing evil, and that the penalty affixed is a second banishment from the presence of God, both body and spirit, after they have been redeemed from the FIRST banishment and restored into his presence.
We believe, that the penalty of this second law can have no effect upon persons who have not had the privilege, in this life, of becoming acquainted therewith; for although the light that is in them, teaches them good and evil, yet that light does not teach them the law against doing evil, nor the penalty thereof. And although they have done things worthy of many stripes, yet the law cannot be brought to bear against them, and its penalty be inflicted, because they can plead ignorance of, but by the law of their conscience, the penalty thereof being a few stripes.
We believe that all who have done evil, having a knowledge of the law, or afterwards, in this life, coming to the knowledge thereof, are under its penalty, which is not [p. 27] inflicted in this world, but in the world to come. Therefore such, in this world, are prisoners, shut up under the sentence of law, awaiting, with awful fear, for the time of judgment, when the penalty shall be inflicted, consigning them to a second banishment from the presence of their Redeemer, who has redeemed them from the penalty of the FIRST law. But, enquires the sinner, is there no way for my escape? Is my case hopeless? Can I not devise some way by which I can extricate myself from the penalty of this SECOND law, and escape this SECOND banishment? The answer is, if thou canst hide thyself from the all-searching eye of an Omni-present God, that he shall not find thee, or if thou canst prevail with him to deny justice its claim, or if thou canst clothe thyself with power, and contend with the Almighty, and prevent him from executing the sentence of the law, then thou canst escape. If thou canst cause repentance, or baptism in water, or any of thine own works, to atone for the least of thy transgressions, then thou canst deliver thyself from the awful penalty that awaits thee. But, be assured, O sinner, that thou canst not devise any way of thine own to escape, nor do any thing that will atone for thy sins. Therefore, thy case is hopeless, unless God hath devised some way for thy deliverance; but do not let despair seize upon thee: for though thou art under the sentence of a broken law, and hast no power to atone for thy sins, and redeem thyself therefrom, yet there is hope in thy case; for he, who gave the law, has devised a way for thy deliverance. That same Jesus, who hath atoned for the original sin, and will redeem all mankind from the penalty thereof, hath also atoned for thy sins, and offereth salvation and deliverance to thee, on certain conditions to be complied with on thy part.
We believe that the first condition to be complied with on the part of sinners is, to believe in God, and in the sufferings and death of his Son Jesus Christ, to atone for the sins of the whole world, and in his resurrection and ascension on high, to appear in the presence of his Father, to make intercessions for the children of men, and in the Holy Ghost, which is given to all who obey the gospel.
That the second condition is, to repent, that is, all who believe, according to the first condition, are required to [p. 28] come humbly before God, and confess their sins with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and to turn away from them, and cease from all their evil deeds, and make restitution to all they have in any way injured, as far as it is in their power.
That the third condition is, to be baptized by immersion in water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for remission of sins; and that this ordinance is to administered by one who is called and authorized of Jesus Christ to baptize, otherwise it is illegal, and of no advantage, and not accepted by him; and that it is to be administered only to those persons, who believe and repent, according to the two preceding conditions.
And that the fourth condition is, to receive the laying on of hands, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the gift of the Holy Ghost; and that this ordinance is to be administered by the apostles or elders, whom the Lord Jesus hath called and authorized to lay on hands, otherwise it is of no advantage, being illegal in the sight of God; and that it is to be administered only to those persons, who believe, repent, and are baptized into this church, according to the three preceding conditions. These are the first conditions of the gospel. All who comply with them receive forgiveness of sins, and are made partakers of the Holy Ghost. Through these conditions, they become the adopted sons and daughters of God. Through this process, they are born again, first of water, and then of the spirit, and become children of the kingdom--heirs of God--saints of the most High--the church of the first-born--the elect people, and heirs to a celestial inheritance, eternal in the presence of God. After complying with these principles, their names are enrolled in the book of the names of the righteous.
They are then required to be humble, to be meek and lowly in heart, to watch and pray, to deal justly; and inasmuch as they have the riches of this world, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, according to the dictates of wisdom and prudence; to comfort the afflicted, to bind up the broken-hearted, and to do all the good that is in their power: and besides all these things, they are required to meet together as often as circumstances will admit, and partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the broken [p. 29] body, and shed blood of the Lord Jesus; and, in short, to continue faithful to the end, in all the duties enjoined upon them by the word and spirit of Christ.
"It is the duty and privilege of the saints thus organized upon the everlasting gospel, to believe in and enjoy all the gifts, powers, and blessings which flow from the Holy Spirit. Such, for instance, as the gifts of revelation, prophecy, visions, the ministry of angels, healing the sick by the laying on of hands in the name of Jesus, the working of miracles, and, in short, all the gifts as mentioned in Scripture, or as enjoyed by the ancient saints." We believe that inspired apostles and prophets, together with all the officers as mentioned in the New Testament, are necessary to be in the Church in these days.
We believe that there has been a general and awful apostasy from the religion of the New Testament, so that all the known world have been left for centuries without the Church of Christ among them; without a priesthood authorized of God to administer ordinances; that every one of the churches has perverted the gospel; some in one way, and some in another. For instance, almost every church has done away "immersion for remission of sins." Those few who have practised it for remission of sins, have done away with the ordinance of the "laying on of hands" upon baptized believers for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Again, the few who have practised this last ordinance, have perverted the first, or have done away the ancient gifts, and powers, and blessings, which flow from the Holy Spirit, or have said to inspired apostles and prophets, we have no need of you in the body in these days. Those few, again, who have believed in, and contended for the miraculous gifts and powers of the Holy Spirit, have perverted the ordinances, or done them away. Thus all the churches preach false doctrines, and pervert the gospel, and instead of having authority from God to administer its ordinances, they are under the curse of God for perverting it. Paul says, Gal. i. 8, "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
We believe that there are a few, sincere, honest, and humble persons, who are striving to do according to the best of their understanding; but, in many respects, they [p. 30] err in doctrine, because of false teachers and the precepts of men, and that they will receive the fulness of the gospel with gladness, as soon as they hear it.
The gospel in the "Book of Mormon," is the same as that in the New Testament, and is revealed in great plainness, so that no one that reads it can misunderstand its principles. It has been revealed by the angel, to be preached as a witness to all nations, first to the Gentiles, and then to the Jews, then cometh the downfall of Babylon. Thus fulfilling the vision of John, which he beheld on the Isle of Patmos, Rev. xiv. 6, 7, 8, " And I saw," says John, "another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying, with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."
Many revelations and prophecies have been given to this church since its rise, which have been printed and sent forth to the world. These also contain the gospel in great plainness, and instructions of infinite importance to the saints. They also unfold the great events that await this generation; the terrible judgments to be poured forth upon the wicked, and the blessings and glories to be given to the righteous. We believe that God will continue to give revelations by visions, by the ministry of angels, and by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, until the saints are guided unto all truth, that is, until they come in possession of all the truth there is in existence, and are made perfect in knowledge. So long, therefore, as they are ignorant of any thing past, present, or to come, so long, we believe, they will enjoy the gift of revelation. And when in their immortal and perfect state--when they enjoy "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ"--when they are made perfect in one, and become like their Saviour, then they will be in possession of all knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence: then all things will be theirs, whether incipalities or powers, thrones or dominions; and, i [p. 31] short, then they will be filled will all the fulness of God. And what more can they learn? What more can they know? What more can they enjoy? Then they will no longer need revelation.
We believe that wherever the people enjoy the religion of the New Testament, there they enjoy visions, revelations, the ministry of angels, &c. And that wherever these blessings cease to be enjoyed, there they also cease to enjoy the religion of the New Testament.
We believe that God has raised up this church, in order to prepare a people for his second coming in the clouds of heaven, in power, and great glory; and that then the saints who are asleep in their graves will be raised, and reign with him on earth a thousand years.
And now we bear testimony to all, both small and great, that the Lord of Hosts hath sent us with a message of glad tidings--the everlasting gospel, to cry repentance to the nations, and prepare the way of his second coming. Therefore repent, O ye nations, both Gentiles and Jews, and cease from all your evil deeds, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and be baptized in water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, by the laying on of the hands of the Apostles or Elders of this church; and signs shall follow them that believe, and if they continue faithful to the end, they shall be saved. But woe unto them, who hearken not to the message which God has now sent, for the day of vengeance and burning is at hand, and they shall not escape. Therefore, REMEMBER, O reader, and perish not!