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.