New Release: “A String of Pearls”, Faith-Promoting Series Book #2

This, the second book of George Q. Cannon’s “Faith-Promoting Series” targeted at the youth of the Church, is a collection of pioneer and missionary anecdotes originally published in 1880. The “Faith-Promoting Series” ran to seventeen books and was in print until at least the 1920s; we’ve already released some books from it (see Available Texts) and will be officially releasing a few more in the next few weeks. The book’s own preface introduces it well:

The first book of this, the “FAITH-PROMOTING SERIES”—My First Mission—which was published some months since, has been so well received by the public that we are encouraged to continue the publication of works of a similar character.

We herewith give “A STRING OF PEARLS” to our readers, feeling assured that they will find the contents of this little work of inestimable value.

Probably no people in the world possess so rich and varied an experience as do the Latter-day Saints, and especially the Elders who have labored in the ministry in various lands. Contributions from them, giving a relation of their personal experience, are most profitable to young people to peruse.

The present age is one of doubt and unbelief. Faith in God, in His willingness to hear and answer prayer, and in the gifts of the gospel, has almost vanished from the earth. As a people we have this to contend with. Our children, not having had experience themselves, have to be carefully watched, lest they, too, should partake of the leaven of unbelief. We feel that it is a duty that we owe to them to place within their reach the evidences that their fathers and their mothers have received of the existence of God, of His willingness to hear and answer prayer, and to bestow His gifts upon those who seek for them in the right way.

God has wrought as marvelously in behalf of the Latter-day Saints as He did in former days in behalf of His people.

We hope that this little volume will prove of great value to those who read it, by inspiring them with faith, and furnishing them a foundation upon which to build and obtain knowledge from the Lord.

We also indulge in the hope that its publication may stir up others—of whom there are so many hundreds, and perhaps thousands, in our Church who have had valuable experience—to take the time and trouble necessary to commit incidents of this character to paper, that they may not die with themselves, but that they may live to speak hope and consolation unto, and to inspire confidence in, those who shall come after them.

With an earnest hope, therefore, that the contents of this little volume may prove a help to those who may read it, by inspiring them with faith in the Almighty and His promises, we modestly publish it, and give it the expressive title which it bears. G. Q. C. [George Q. Cannon]

So there you have it. Enjoy, and look out for more in the coming weeks.

This book was proofread by Max Cook, one of our summer interns.

 

New Release: “The Plan of Salvation” by John Morgan

This enormously influential missionary tract was written by John Morgan, onetime President of the Southern States Mission, General Authority, and Union Army soldier. We produced it largely because the knowledgeable folks over at Keepapitchinin are interested in it (see comments on this article). Apparently millions of copies were printed over the course of more than a century after the pamphlet was first introduced in the Southern States Mission in the early 1880s.

I think it offers an interesting comparison with the current pamphlet on the plan of salvation, and both are reasonably short. Have a read.

Thanks to Villate Brown McKitrick and Jared Ure, one of our summer interns, for producing this book.

 

New Release: “The Gospel: An Exposition of its First Principles” by B. H. Roberts

This is the first published book of B. H. Roberts (1857-1933), often considered the greatest intellectual in the history of the Church. It was first published in 1888; our version is based on the 1893 “revised and enlarged” second edition, which also includes a supplement entitled “Man’s Relationship to Deity.”   Though many in the LDS Church have some knowledge of the first four principles of the gospel, namely faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, Roberts’ book seeks to expand upon that knowledge and help the reader see a more complete view of the gospel. Well-versed in scripture, Roberts supports his claims through the use of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and early versions of the Doctrine and Covenants, including the Lectures on Faith. Through a very methodical approach, the reader is guided through each of the first principles in a detailed, specific way.

For example, Roberts explains the following about faith:

“Faith is based upon evidence, then, and here I would remark, that the faith will be true or false according as the evidence or testimony is truthful or untruthful. Evidence is to faith what the fountain is to the stream; and as an impure fountain cannot send forth pure streams, so incorrect evidence cannot establish a true or profitable faith.”

Of repentance, he states:

“That repentance is the first result growing out of faith in God and the Gospel, is abundantly proven from the scriptures. The multitude that assembled on the day of Pentecost, and listened to the remarks of the apostles, and even heard them speak in tongues, by the power of the Holy Ghost, were ready to scoff at those things, and even went so far as to say that these men were drunken with new wine; but when Peter arose and reasoned with them from the scriptures, proving from the law and the prophets that Jesus, whom the Jews had slain, was both Lord and Christ, his words and testimony were accompanied by so much of the power of God, that conviction took hold of the people, and, as with one voice, they cried, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ In this instance, then, the first fruits of that faith which had been created in the minds of this people, was a desire to know what they were to do; and the first words that the inspired apostle said in reply were, ‘Repent, every one of you.'”

Following repentance, he teaches of baptism:

“That baptism is a general commandment all may learn who will take the trouble to make inquiry in respect to it. John the Baptist informs us that God sent him to baptize with water and to testify of him who was to come after him, and who was to baptize with the Holy Ghost; and those who refused to hearken to his teachings and to be baptized of him ‘rejected the counsels of God against themselves.'”

And finally, as he expounds upon the Holy Ghost, we learn:

“The necessity of this baptism of the Holy Ghost is made apparent, first, by the plain declaration of the Savior himself, wherein he says, except a man is born of the Spirit as well as of the water, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven; and of course outside of the kingdom of heaven there can be no salvation, nor perfect happiness; second, its necessity appears from the very nature of things.”

With these small excerpts, we catch but a glimpse of the vast knowledge and inspiration that B.H. Roberts shares in this book. It is a fascinating read, and will help anyone who reads it to come closer to Christ.

This blog post and book were produced by Kimball Gardner, one of our excellent BYU summer interns.

New Release: “Forty Years Among the Indians” by Daniel W. Jones

This riveting autobiography of Daniel W. Jones (1830-1915) is a journey through time. As described in the subtitle, it is “a true yet thrilling narrative of the author’s experiences among the natives.” Daniel W. Jones first thought that Mormons could not be trusted, but after an accidental gunshot wound in the leg led him to stop in Provo in 1850, he quickly realized they were good people and was baptized into the Church. He became a leader in the church, helping settle many areas and communicating with the natives. Although this history does include many encounters with the natives, Jones focuses on his own conversion and testimony. Although there were many times Jones felt conflicted over dealings in the church, he remained true to the Lord:

I counseled with those who presided over me, and though the advice I received was contrary to my ideas of justice and right, I followed it, though it was at the complete sacrifice of my home acquired by years of toil and hardship. I was determined to retain my standing in the Church at any cost, and leave judgment with the Lord, who will eventually deal out strict justice to all men.

One of the most interesting stories Jones includes in this history regards the church members’ associations with the natives. While working with the Indians, the natives expressed a desire to settle with the members:

Some of these Indians expressed a desire to come and settle with us; this was the most interesting part of the mission to me and I naturally supposed that all the company felt the same spirit, but I soon found my mistake, for on making this desire of the Indians known to the company many objected, some saying that they did not want their families brought into association with these dirty Indians…at the time I acted according to the best light I had and determined to stick to the Indians.

Jones continually worked with the Indians to try to find peace between their way of life and that of the lives of the members of the church. He always remained true to the church, but he also tried to help the natives as much as he could.

This book is an incredible read. It provides great insight on the early history of the church and shows the many miracles that helped the members settle and spread, while interacting with the natives.

This book and blog post were produced by Mariah Averett, one of our BYU volunteer summer interns.

New Release: “Items on the Priesthood” by John Taylor

This 1881 pamphlet by President John Taylor contains an early, authoritative doctrinal discussion of the role of bishops in the Church, which, in context, is more significant than it might appear at first blush.

As any careful reader of the Doctrine and Covenants will be aware, bishops with various duties were called early in Church history, but the office of bishop was not a Church standard for local lay ecclesiastical leaders. The history of the office is actually somewhat convoluted; in the early Utah period it seems there were simultaneously traveling bishops, a presiding bishop, and local bishops whose responsibilities overlapped with local presidents of the Melchizedek priesthood. Some confusion and conflict resulted, so towards the end of Brigham Young’s life he directed the institution of a more or less modern structure of wards and stakes, with recognizably modern bishoprics. This was announced in an Orson Pratt address in 1877. (I’m drawing most of this history from a fascinating Dialogue article and the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.)

Then, in 1881, John Taylor issued this pamphlet as a (perhaps the) definitive doctrinal explanation of the doctrine of the bishopric, with the following preface:

As there is more or less uncertainty existing in the minds of many of the Bishops and others in regard to the proper status and authority of the Bishopric and what is denominated the “Aaronic or Levitical” Priesthood, I thought it best to lay before the brethren a general statement of the subject, as contained in the Bible and Book of Doctrine and Covenants.

The following views have been submitted to the Council of the Twelve and have received their sanction; they were also laid before the Priesthood Meeting at the Semi-Annual Conference, held in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, October 9th, A. D. 1880, and were unanimously accepted by the large body of Priesthood present on that occasion.

As you read the body of the pamphlet, it will seem familiar, but the key thing to realize is that this is one of the first detailed doctrinal statements on the bishopric that would seem so familiar to a modern reader. Furthermore, it was issued by the prophet and sustained in a general conference and by the Twelve, so it has checked off most of the key requirements for canonization. Given all this, it’s as close as we have (at least that I know of) to a scriptural explanation of exactly how all the pieces of the modern doctrine of the bishopric fit together. It sure seems like it should be better-known. Anyways, have a read.

Many thanks to Samuel Shreeve, our lone intern from Utah State University, for producing this e-book. It’s being released mid-week because, thanks to the wrap-up phase of the internship program, we already have another whole book to release this weekend and even more on the horizon. Keep an eye out for more releases.

New Release: “A Voice from Jerusalem” by Orson Hyde

This pamphlet compiles several letters Orson Hyde sent on his famous mission to Jerusalem, and includes his dedicatory prayer for the Holy Land at the Mount of Olives. Hyde (1805-1878), a member of the original Quorum of the Twelve, received a vision (described in the pamphlet) in which he was called to go to Jerusalem, as alluded to in his dedicatory prayer:

Now, O Lord! thy servant has been obedient to the heavenly vision which thou gavest him in his native land; and under the shadow of thine outstretched arm, he has safely arrived in this place to dedicate and consecrate this land unto Thee, for the gathering together of Judah’s scattered remnants, according to the predictions of the holy prophets—for the building up of Jerusalem again after it has been trodden down by the Gentiles so long, and for rearing a temple in honour of thy name.

The prayer is a substantial portion of the pamphlet, but he also discusses his travels, his reception, and the state and future of Jerusalem and its environs. (For more general information on his mission, there’s a good Ensign article here.) His commentary on the future of the Jews is interesting and indeed prophetic:

It was by political power and influence that the Jewish nation was broken down, and her subjects dispersed abroad; and I will here hazard the opinion, that by political power and influence, they will be gathered and built up; and, further, that England is destined, in the wisdom and economy of heaven, to stretch forth the arm of political power, and advance in the front ranks of this glorious enterprise. The Lord once raised up a Cyrus to restore the Jews, but that was not evidence that he owned the religion of the Persians. This opinion I submit, however, to your superior wisdom to correct, if you shall find it wrong.

On a similar note, his discussion of the state of Syria at the time seems all too familiar:

Syria at present is in a very unsettled state. The Drewzes and Catholics are fighting almost constantly. They sometimes kill hundreds and hundreds of a day. In some sections it is not unfrequent that the traveller meets some dozen or twenty men by the way-side without heads, in a day. In a letter from Bavaria, I stated that hostilities had recommenced between the Turks and Egyptians; I took the statement from a German paper, but it was a mistake. The hostilities were between the lesser tribes in Syria. The American missionaries at Beyrout and Mount Lebanon have received official notice through Commodore Porter, our minister at Constantinople, from the Grand Sultan, that hereafter they can have no redress by law for any violence, outrage, or cruelty, that may be practiced upon them by the people; and advises them to leave the country. This course is approved of by Commodore Porter. I read the correspondence between him and Mr. Chassan, our consul at Beyrout; but all is going on in the providence of God. Syria and Palestine must ferment and ferment, work and work, until they work into the hands of Abraham’s children to whom they rightly belong; and may the God of their fathers bless the hand that aids their cause.

Beyond the historical/political aspects of this pamphlet, it’s fun to get a first-hand feel for missionary work in the early years of the Church. This is actually one of a number of pamphlets in what you might call the “mission report” genre that we hope to produce in the coming months and years.

The proofreading for this pamphlet was done by Renah Holmes, one of our tireless volunteers, and Samuel Shreeve, our Utah State University volunteer intern. Thanks!

New Release: “Memoirs of John R. Young”

Working on the autobiography of John Young often led to interesting story-telling that left my friends constantly asking what other insane things John did in his life. He was Brigham Young’ s nephew and knew Joseph and Hyrum Smith personally as a child. In fact, it was Joseph who told John’s worried father:

“Brother Lorenzo, this boy will live to aid in carrying the Gospel to the nations of the earth.”

John’s memoirs detail many missions he completed in his life, all for the sake of the Prophet and the Kingdom of God that he loved so much. He rubbed shoulders with some of the most prominent figures in church history; serving under Parley P. Pratt in the Sandwich Islands, collaborating with Joseph F. Smith in the same mission, and constantly exchanging letters and visits with President Brigham Young, among others.

John was born in Kirtland, Ohio in 1837. He lived in Nauvoo and left with the saints when the persecution grew too great to remain there. He moved west, narrowly escaping being murdered by Native Americans and ruffians, and made it to the Salt Lake Valley with his family. He watched the people’s scanty wheat crop being eaten by crickets, and accounts his first-hand witness of the miracle of the seagulls. He served a four-year mission to the Sandwich Islands and encountered many miracles and many wild stories there. He served two missions to the Sandwich Islands, and one to Great Britain, as well as several settlement missions for the church.

John Young’s story is compelling, interesting, terrifying, heartening and enlightening. Much of his original poetry appears throughout the memoirs, as well as letters to and from his family and friends and various church leaders. His accounts of the Saints’ early struggles and the eulogies written for Brigham Young and Joseph F. Smith are compelling and personal. His memoirs detail his faithfulness to the Gospel and to his family, of heeding the Prophets’ words and following the promptings of the Spirit.

“These are the scenes that many years have brought into my view,
And I testify, with soberness, the words I speak are true;
And to my wives and children dear, who cluster round my hearth,
I say, with tears of happiness, I’m glad I had a birth.”

Heidi Billy, one of our summer interns, produced both this book and this blog post. Thanks!