[Some of] the Nephites escaped southward and were hunted by the Lamanites—everything is in confusion, and his father has been slain and the rest of them. “I even alone remain to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people.” They are all gone. Well, here you think, this is an epic theme, the last survivor, like “The Ring of the Nibelung” and the last survivor, Richard. When great armies break up and scatter, you’ll find last survivors moving around in a country, disguising themselves in various ways and managing to carry on. But the last survivor is a real figure, and he’s a tragic figure. In Scott’s work “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” on this particular subject, there’s a last one.
It’s very interesting that in the current National Geographic, the cover story is devoted to the last photographs of the last time we’re ever going to see a dozen or so different, well-known, rather exotic animals that are disappearing from the earth. These photographs represent the last time they’ll be seen. So talk about extermination—he’s the last of the Nephites. You have read Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans and the sad passing. Tribes have passed away, and there has been “a last man.” Dolly Pentreeth was the last woman to speak Cornish, and philologists used to beat a trail to her door. Yes, there are such things as the last people and the last survivor, and Moroni was one of them. Of course it’s infinitely sad. This shows that survive is a dirty word. We like the word survive, but it’s a dirty word. It means to live after everybody else is dead. You want to be the lucky one.
John Chrysostom was perhaps the most eloquent orator of the late fourth and early fifth century in the Christian church. He said that in Antioch, when he was there, before the great earthquake everybody was running around saying, I wish there’d be a big earthquake and kill everybody in Antioch but me; then I’d be the richest man in Antioch. And that’s the way everybody felt about it. I want to survive; I’ll be the richest man when that happens. Well, Antioch was destroyed, and there were very few survivors indeed. It was one of the most total earthquakes ever recorded.
But notice. Could anything be sadder than this? Well, remember the refrain in Job, “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job 1:15). The only survivor in Job’s house comes to tell him. Or the ancient mariner [Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner] “It is an ancient Mariner, and he stoppeth one of three.” He tells this grim story that’s very sad, you know. You can make quite a list of lone survivor stories. The point is that they are real, and how many are we going to have now? Who wants to be the lone survivor? Just hold up your hand. Well, Moby Dick is the same thing. He’s the the lone survivor. After all, he’s writing the story. He starts out, “Call me Ishmael.” He’s the lone survivor, the wanderer in the earth, the one who’s all alone.
It’s a sad situation, but they [the Nephites] are all gone. Mormon 8:3: “I fulfill the commandment of my father, and whether they will slay me, I know not [infinitely forlorn, but are not all ruins so? This is what happened]. . . . I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go.” Is this survival you look forward to? Verse 7: “And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place”—they’re all gone, but it hasn’t settled anything. Notice, the military solution is no solution; it certainly isn’t here. You may have heard Mr. Fallows yesterday talking about that. Who won the Cold War? The Japanese won the Cold War. It’s going to cost us our boots.
The Lamanites have hunted them down. He says, “And behold it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it.” See, you count on war for your victory and your success, and we won. Both the Germans and the Japanese were knocked out, but they’re the ones who won the Cold War and became instantly affluent. We had already begun the Cold War before the last one was over. We were planning to march against the Russians. That was our big idea the whole time along; we won’t get into that. But see what it has cost us now; it was so foolish.
Verse 8: “And behold it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it”—let that be an assurance to you. The hand of the Lord has done it. What’s going to happen we’re going to see; and when it happens to us, it will be so. But did this settle the Lamanite problem after all? “And behold also, the Lamanites are at war with one another, and the whole face of the land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war.” How long did it go on? For centuries and never settled down at all. There were tribal wars from then on. Well, this is the condition of the world. Moroni’s going to launch into the story of the Jaredites next, which is even more tragic and horrendous, but in a different setting and a totally different culture. It takes us way out of things.
There’s nothing left but Lamanites and robbers. You’ll notice the robbers are important here, the looters and outlaws. The place is swarming with them. When things break up like that, you’re not going to stay around to be drafted for anything. The pickings are rich. Look at Central America now. There have been these wandering bands of terrorists. Who’s a hero and who isn’t? It gets hopelessly mixed up in every one of those republics. You don’t settle it by going in and blasting people that way. We have produced much the same result in parts of the world which we mean to settle by force. It won’t work.
Notice again that here we have that little group, the disciples of Jesus. They’ve always been there discreet from the rest. He says they weren’t involved. Verse 10: “And there are none that do know the true God save it be the disciples of Jesus, who did tarry in the land until the wickedness of the people was so great [notice he uses the present tense here; he doesn’t know whether they’re gone or not] that the Lord would not suffer them to remain with the people; and whether they be upon the face of the land no man knoweth.” I don’t know, he says. That refers to the Three Nephites, of course. They belong to that same group, but they were of another nature from ours. They talk about that; we’re going to have more talk about the Three Nephites. He doesn’t know what they are, what condition they’re in, or anything else. But here he’s talking about some of those disciples. But Zion is fled—you have to grant that. The Lord wouldn’t suffer them to remain here. The prophets mourned and withdrew, we’re told. That eloquent term is in the book of the Sethians. The principle is as it starts out in the Book of Mormon—he leadeth the righteous away into precious lands. If they can’t get along and there’s no hope for reforming the rest of the world, you just take them out. Hence went forth the saying, “Zion has fled” and is taken away. The man who walked with God and was not, for God took him, etc. This is why the world today knows so little about Zion. Every time Zion gets really built up, it’s taken away and is not there anymore.
Then he asks us to receive this record with an open mind, and that’s what people don’t do. They condemn it. All they have to do is hear the words angel and gold plates, and the issue is settled. There’s no further discussion necessary. So nobody reads the Book of Mormon, including those who criticize it, because you don’t have to go any further. It would be a waste of time talking about angels and things like that [they feel]—even the great Eduard Meyer, who was absolutely electrified by the [message] and couldn’t leave Joseph Smith alone. He decided it was the greatest thing ever but would not read the Book of Mormon. He thought of various excuses—it was written in crude English and all this sort of thing. Once he said, the minute it says the word angel, that’s hallucination and that settles it, forgetting that the Book of Mormon is not a hallucination. Well, we come to that in a minute.
[Moroni says,] “And I am the same who hideth up this record.” I’m making an end of speaking concerning this people. So much for the Nephites then. Now I’m going to talk to you, he says, and that is why I’m doing it [hiding the record]. That’s why we’ve been spared. And [regarding] the plates, “no one shall have them to get gain.” If we only had the plates, it would cause a terrible lot of mischief—all the argument about translating them. The best thing is not to have them; we have something far better. We have the inspired translation, and this can be tested.
Now [we have] these marvelous passages about how the Book of Mormon will come forth again and under what conditions. He traces it right down to our time with the wondrous, haunting refrain, “it shall come in a day.” Then these are old Hermetic themes: “For it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God . . . [to] shine forth out of darkness. . . . And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things” (Mormon 8:16).
This is the final lesson of the Book of Mormon: Verse 19: “For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again.” He’s talking about the people to come. Don’t judge this book. But, of course, this is a nice commentary on his own people who have just been destroyed. “For according to his works shall his wages be; therefore, he that smiteth shall be smitten again, of the Lord [if there is any lesson in the Book of Mormon to us, this is it]. Behold the scripture say—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge.” We tell other people what to do, we lay down our moral rights. We go out and police them and back it up with physical force. Is anything more futile than that? Yes, brother?
“I have a Moslem friend, and when I mentioned to her that we believe the Book of Mormon has imperfections in it, she was very concerned about that.”
Well, of course, there’s all the trouble this raises with the Bible. What are you going to do? Different translations of the Bible keep coming out now that all read differently. This is supposed to be a perfect book—every word in the book is absolutely perfect. We have to admit that [some people claim], because if we say there are imperfections in the Bible, how do we know which verses are imperfect and which aren’t? How do we know whether we’re on the right track? It means we can’t use the Bible itself as an absolute guide if we acknowledge mistakes in it. That’s fatal, so the Christian world can’t afford to admit that. But we can afford to admit that. Of course, there are mistakes in the Bible. They admit it, too. The latest Revised Standard Translation has come out by the Protestants. What are they doing revising this perfect word of God? This is a new standard translation, and there will be more in another ten years or so. We have to admit the faults of men in there—that’s necessary, and we admit it freely. All sorts of things are explained that way. If you don’t do that, you’re absolutely stuck with this one document.
“What kinds of errors did Moroni admit to?”
Oh, all kinds of errors could come in. Remember when he’s talking about the chronology, Mormon says we think this is correct because the man who gave us the chronology was an honest man, but anybody can make mistakes. So he says you just have to accept it that way. We’re not perfect in what we report here. So don’t judge this, but “man shall not smite, neither shall he judge”—the two things we are best at. And, of course, this is Roman law at the end of Vergil’s ode. We’re the people who make the laws and who impose the laws. We crack down on them—the people of the toga who’ve laid down the laws to the world.
But “the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on” anyway, whatever happens here. And “those saints who have gone before me . . . shall cry, yea, even from the dust will they cry unto the Lord. . . . He will remember the covenant which he hath made with them.” See, we all have the same community. The thing to remember all the way through this that keeps coming back all the time is that Moroni really came. He talked to Joseph Smith. He came to him many times. They conversed with each other. [An angel] did the same thing with Zacharias. If that’s so, that changes the whole picture; that’s what we’re talking about. These people are all still there, all still alive, and still very much concerned with us, etc. We’re still in the same community. We’re going to have to join together with them to live together for a long time a little later on. That doesn’t sound too fantastic. We’ll see more of that in the Book of Mormon now.
These things they could do. They could, in his name, remove mountains; they could cause the earth to shake, etc. As I have said before, miracles are always a matter of timing. The Lord will tell you when it’s going to shake and then it shakes. But the point is [that it’s] in his name and at his word. He would give them the signal, and the miracle would take place.
Verse 25: “And behold their prayers were also in behalf of him that the Lord should suffer to bring these things forth,” referring to the Prophet Joseph Smith and, unknown to them at this time, what he would have to go through. It wasn’t going to be easy. These are the conditions in the time of Joseph Smith, and they follow right down to the present and terminate here in verse 26. Well, here we go, “Out of the earth shall they come, by the hand of the Lord, . . . and it shall come in a day [here’s this awesome refrain] when it shall be said that miracles are done away.” Of course, that’s why they rejected the Book of Mormon—such things can’t happen. We cite angels and gold plates, and that’s utter absurdity. So it’s rejected first on the grounds that miracles don’t happen—that is things with which we’re not familiar. See, a miraculum is a little thing that makes you wonder because you don’t understand it—that’s all. They say they “are done away; and it shall come even as if one should speak from the dead.” It is a voice from the dust; it does speak from the dead.
Verse 27: “And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness.” The things that have been done here are all secret. I talked for quite a long time last night with a man who had been very successful in business. He’s in California now. He says it’s all secret. The secret is to pull surprises on everybody. You can do it; don’t let them know what you’re doing. Well, that’s exactly what Aristotle Onassis said, who was the richest man of his time. They said, what is the secret of getting rich. He said, that’s it. Secrecy. Don’t let people know what you’re doing—secret combinations. That’s the essence of stock trading and things like that, you see. There was another case I heard of yesterday. He told me a case of one man who made a lot of money in a hurry because of insider trading. It was an eminent member of the Church. But these sort of things happen all the time. “. . . secret combinations, and the works of darkness. Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and the churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts, yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.”
Now, what is envying? Is that a subjective participle or an objective participle? The envying of the people. Are they envying him, or he envying them? They envy him. He doesn’t envy them. They envy him, his success and wealth probably. That’s what it may be. In Arabic they’re always arguing whether a participle like this is subjective or objective.
What are we onto here now? What’s wrong with vapors of smoke? They can’t hurt anybody, a little smoke in the air. This means something different today, doesn’t it? Verse 29: “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands.” It tells us elsewhere in the Book of Mormon a vapor of smoke shall cover the earth. That could only be the outfall from something or other, couldn’t it? Verse 30: “And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars [there are 47 wars raging at present on the earth], and earthquakes in diverse places.” We’re now going into a period of increased earthquake activity recorded in places where it hasn’t happened for a long time. And they’re expecting the big one, of course, on the Wasatch Front.
They’re insensitive, unperturbed. All sense of fair play is forgotten in this “me” generation. Notice verse 31: “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth.” Well, that’s the number one problem today, pollution. It’s not just pollution like impurities and things like that, but pollutions on the face of the earth. The earth itself is being defiled, the face of the earth, not just in the Church or something like that. These are the pollutions we’re dealing with today on the face of the earth. And needless to say, “there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations [and there] shall be many who will say [again, our lowering of standards, our very permissive society here; we accept our lower standards], Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” They’re going to say it’s all right, you see, because you’ll be justified.
Verse 32: “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.” Just the other night I heard an evangelist say, give money, give money, give money, and Jesus will accept you. He will accept you if you give money, and that’s exactly what it says here. “Come unto me, and for your money you’ll be forgiven of your sins.” But who are you giving the money to? To him, the person who says come unto me. It doesn’t say come unto Jesus. That’s what they call it, of course. You come to Jesus, but you send the money to me.
Verse 33: “O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? [and adjust the scriptures to allow for that sort of thing, you’ll notice]. Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls?” The misreading of the scriptures is deliberately transfiguring. “The scriptures are before you,” the Book of Mormon says. You arrest them at your peril. So we transfigure “the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls. Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled”—at the time the Book of Mormon comes forth.
Notice it says here [verse 34]: “Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day [they will soon follow the coming forth of the Book of Mormon] when these things shall come forth among you.” Yes, it’s not very long, dating it by sequence now. We follow certain sequences here. “Behold, I speak unto you [now here is a ringing verse] as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts; unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying [competitiveness—I think that talk that Mr. Fallows gave yesterday was very pertinent to what we’re reading here], and strifes, and malice, and persecution [it’s a highly competitive society], and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. [And then it comes down to this payoff sentence here:] For behold, ye do love money, and your substance [which is the same], and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches [these are not pagans; in chapter 9 he talks to the unbeliever; he is talking to the people who profess to believe in Christ] more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” That’s an understatement, you see.
I’ve promised and threatened at times—I never have used Roman satire, but here it’s worth it. I think we should mention it. We’ll use just one satire of Juvenal describing Roman society. Juvenal lived in the middle of the first century after Christ when the empire was at its height, and yet it had a line of corrupt emperors beginning with Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius. They were all pigs. Vitellius was a huge, enormous, fat man who was fabulously rich. He bought the empire, but Galba and Otho came before him. Then came the family of Vespasian who was pretty good—Vespasian and his son Titus. Then it went to Domitian, a terrible emperor with rich and lavish ways of life. But at the very time the empire reached its peak, it was already on its way out. The peak of the Roman Empire was when it reached its greatest extent, and it was already finished. He [Juvenal] knew it already. It was later in life, only after he was 50 years old that he was willing to write this way, and he said you might as well enjoy it.
The great civilization of Rome produced only one genre of literature, but it’s a great one—it’s satire. Persius, Juvenal, Horace, and Martial [wrote it]. The best of all I think is Petronius. I’m going to give you some Juvenal. His first satire says, what can you do but write satire when you see the things that are going on today? It’s just too ridiculous for words. It makes no sense at all, but we go right on with it. That’s one thing we sorely miss. We’re very sensitive and touchy on the subject of satire today. If people get too satirical, it makes us nervous. There is plenty to satirize in our society, as you know. Oh boy, is there! But we’re being very careful not to rock the boat too much. We’re going to take one satire here. They all talk about the same thing. “On Education for Avarice” it’s called. I’m going to use this translation here. It would slow me up too much if I gave you my own rendition, so I left my Juvenal at home.
“Does Rutilus teach us how to show a merciful disposition, charity toward his slight faults, having made his immense fortune”? We just mentioned this: You love your substance more than you do the poor, the needy, and the sick and the afflicted “He thinks other people don’t even have souls at all,” he says. “Does he think that body and spirit are made of the selfsame stuff in the case of slaves and freedmen? Or does he teach us to rejoice as he does in the cruel sound of the whip, music more sweet to him than the Sirens. Efficiency, it gets things done. A tyrant of giant size he is to his trembling household, happy only at times when he summons the torture. [This is a terrible way to run a household, but I know some big ranchers who run their establishments in about this manner.] Torture, branding some poor slaves with a hot iron for snitching a couple of towels. What is a young man taught by a sire who delights in the clanking of iron chains and branding slaves and dungeons? [He goes on:] Are you greenhorn enough to suppose that the daughter of Larga won’t grow up to be promiscuous when it took her thirty deep breaths as a child to get through the list of lovers known to sleep with her mother? Even when she was a virgin, mama would tell her all, and now at mama’s dictation she fills little wax tablets and sends them off to her lovers [this is the morality of the times, when everybody was sleeping with everybody else]. Such is the order of nature. Evil examples at home corrupt us all the more quickly, since they subvert our minds with the sanction of loftier warrant [more important people do it]. And so for the rest, they are led in the evil paths of their fathers, dragged in the wheel ruts of guilt, shown them over and over.” The same thing is done.
There are some other ones here. “Cretonius likes to build new houses [he’s property mad], now on the bay of Gaeta [remember the nine or so estates and castles that the late Malcolm Forbes had?]. Now on Tivoli’s heights, now on Praeneste, his mansions rise with marble brought from Greece or lands beyond the ocean [I think of William Randolph Hearst] overtopping the shrines of Fortune or Hercules, even more than Posides the eunuch surpassed our capitol [here’s a eunuch who with a little swindling had gotten himself very rich and built a house more magnificent than the capitol]. While Cretonius lived in houses like these, he diminished much of his fortune. He spent his wealth but ended up with a portion not by any means small. But his son, a madman, destroyed it, rearing still newer houses [they do that sort of thing, but they’re stingy at the same time]. Young men ought not to be taught to imitate most of the vices. We admire the frugality of these very rich men. Only avarice seems to oppose their natural instinct. Here is a vice for once, the shape and shade of a virtue. Gloomy of mien, dour in dress and expression [a very important man, you see], the miserly man is praised, of course, as if he were frugal, a saving soul to be sure, craftier keeper of fortunes than dungeons of Pontus or the Hesperidian Gardens [where wealth is safer, you see]. Add the fact that the people think of the man whom I mentioned as an artist in gain [they admire him; we named some of those people]. Estates increase with such forge men. As they increase in every way, they become bigger and bigger. The anvil is never still, and the furnace is forever blazing.”
Remember what Fallow said yesterday—we have just one measure by which we measure success, progress, and what is desirable under our version of capitalism (he was comparing us with the Japanese). What was it? More. If it makes more, that’s the only test. More of this, more of that. That’s what it has to be. Is that the wisest, always to ask more? And Juvenal asks that here, of course. “So when a father thinks that the avaricious are happy, that the very rich are fortunate, and he looks open-mouthed at wealth [gaping with admiration, you see], and figures no poor man is blessed, he is urging young men to follow along that highway to study the same school he did [to get his MBA—he says it here]. There are the ABCs of vices. These he indoctrinates first, compelling his pupils to master the meanest, pettiest things, but before long, too, he instructs them in the insatiable hopes and passions for acquisition.” Whatever you do, get rich. I can testify to this, because some of my kids have worked for them. LDS employers are notoriously stingy and demeaning to their help. You may have found that out.
“He cramps the guts of his slaves with the shortest, most meager of rations, while he is starving himself, for he cannot possibly manage to eat up the pieces of bread and the moldy blue-colored remnants. But why accumulate riches through such tortures as these when it seems the most obvious madness [living the life of a tramp to be a rich man on your deathbed]. Meanwhile, the moneybag swells, grows fat, and in just that proportion the love of money bloats up, and he who has only a little covets it least. As for you, a single house in the country does not suffice at all [you’ll have to purchase another; this is the developer he’s talking about now]. You have to extend your acres, because the neighbor’s cornfield seems both bigger and better, so you buy it up. And the woodland, also the slope of the hill thick with the green-grey olive. But what if you can’t get it? [this is developer’s tactics he’s talking about here]. If the owner declines to sell under any conditions, you can send over by night lean oxen, famished cattle, into the green fields. Tired though they are, they will never find their way home until they’ve stored the whole crop in their ravenous bellies [they’ve eaten up everything on the land, so the guy has to sell it now] so that you might well believe it was mown by close-crop sickles. You could hardly say how many are bewailing wrongs like these, how many fields are sold by such tactics.”
There are various ways of moving in and taking over attractive land a person doesn’t want to sell. There are ways of making it valueless, etc. Well, these are tricks. Remember, this is 2,000 years ago. They went through all this, and how long did it take them to collapse? Well, it was almost overnight when it came. “Hence comes the cause of crime. There is no greater incentive toward the compounding of poison [and we’ll see what’s behind crimes as if you didn’t know from our prime-time TV] or thickening blows with the dagger than the desire of wealth beyond all moderate means—to get rich, to get rich quick. But how can a desperate miser, hustling for all he’s worth, ever expect to develop fear or respect for law or a decent sense of proportion? Live content, my sons, with your hills and your little cabins [he says here—and the costly apparel]. The man who is not ashamed to wear hip boots when it’s icy, turning away the cold with reversible furs—you will never find him wanting to do actions he knows are forbidden. [Here’s an honest man dressed in practical clothes, but he says,] It’s the purple garb; the costly, fashionable foreign styles; the raiment peculiar and foreign—whatever it may be that leads to wicked behavior.” See, the Book of Mormon always ties up costly apparel with this sort of thing.
Now, you’ve got to get an education to get rich. You can’t get rich unless you do, so he says, “At autumn’s end [when school begins again], a father at midnight awakens his son who’s asleep on his back and yells at him, ‘Wake up. Get going. Pick up your tablets and write. Read upon your cases. Study the red letter laws of the past [business and law are the only things they were studying at this time. I have a long article I threatened I would read, but I won’t, on this subject in the ancient world] or seek a centurion’s office. Try to find something to sell for profit, say at 50 percent. Don’t turn up your nose at business that has to be banished [to the far side of the Tiber because it’s indecent—all sorts of things]. And don’t make any distinction between the odors of hides and the attar of roses. A profit is a profit, and it always smells good, no matter what possible source it may come from. Here is a slogan for you, a maxim worthy of poets. Even if Jove himself turned bard, this would be the supreme teaching of all time [this is put in italics]. ‘No one asks where you get it, but money is what you must have.’ ”
Don’t worry where you get it. Now you hear this all time. They’re the same words used by Horace, “Get money, honestly if you can. But honestly or dishonestly, get money.” You have to. Well, we’re told that—become independent and all this sort of thing.
[Continuing with Juvenal:] “These are the lessons for toddlers, taught them before they can walk by dried up haggard old nursemaids. This the girls all learn before their alpha and beta. If a father insists on imparting such admonitions, I would speak to him thus. ‘Tell me, you silly old codger. Who is giving the orders to hurry so fast? I would bet you the pupil will master the teacher. Give up, go away, take it easy [he’s going to buy you out is the point he’s making here]. You will be beaten as surely as Telamon was by his Ajax. When he begins to submit at length his beard to the razor [when he grows old enough to shave] then he’ll practice and get rich the way you do. He’ll be a false witness; he’ll be a perjured peddler; he’ll be a cheap one; he’ll be a salesman who tries any trick on earth. Things you think should accrue by land and sea will come by a shorter road than that [not the hard way]. A great crime is no trouble [of course, this is the theme of the crime shows we have all the time]. I never taught him those ways. I never gave him such precepts [you say]. Maybe not in words, but you are the source and the fountain of evil intent, for the father who teaches love of great wealth and inspires greed in his sons by the warnings given in sinister ways, who shows him how he can double his patrimony by fraud, gives him a license, free reign, absolute control. If you call him back, you won’t stop him. Once he’s under way he’ll laugh at you in derision as he rushes headlong to the point of [no] return far behind [that’s atē that follows]. No one believes it’s enough to be a partial delinquent [make it all the way]. So far, no farther—there’s no such teaching.”
So far, no farther—oh no, They give themselves license much greater, and that’s the main theme that Mr. Fallows made yesterday—more, more, more, no matter how much [you have acquired] you have to get more or you’re not being really successful. “So when you tell a young man he’s a fool to give a friend presents, to give anything away, to help the relation in trouble to lighten his poverty’s burden, you teach him to rob and to swindle, to use any criminal method that will get him rich. Your own devotion to money is as great as the Decii for their country”—their notorious patriotism.
Here he talks about the theatre and the shows. This is the theme of the shows. We have it. See, theatromania became the big thing, spectator sports. Everything had spectators. Everybody went to the shows all the time. Five and six days a week everybody was at the shows and the games. They were divided among shows, games, athletics—all sorts of spectacles. They mixed them together. “If you will only watch at what peril to life possession of men’s fortunes increases in the drama [he says], or the treasure grows in the strong box [it’s as a great danger there]. More and more the coins are banked in the temple of Castor.”
The banks were temples so the money would be sacred. That’s the only place where it was sacred. You’ll notice our banks are made like temples. They’re made with marble and bronze and in columns, like the stock market in New York, built after the designs of ancient temples because they’re sacred. There is a reverential hush in there, and everybody moves with awe because there’s money and there’s the big vault back there. The vault represents the shrine where the god is, and only a high priest can go in there. It’s a sacred place, and that’s where you keep your treasure. If your treasure is there, nobody will lay a finger on it. No, our banks are designed on that pattern very consciously; architects are quite aware of that.
“And so, ever since the day when Mars the avenger was robbed of his helmet, unable to guard his own goods, it will do no harm to abandon the stage effects and the shows of Sibyl, Flora, and Ceres. Humans’ comings and goings are really much more amusing. One madness pursues all men. We think of Orestes in Electra’s arms facing the fire of the Furies.”
He talks about the extent to which people will go and the risks they will take to make money. “He loads his ships to the gunwales.” This reminds you of the Valdez. He talks about a man who has a super freighter. He’s built these huge freighters, but they weren’t very sound. You can see why. They were cheaper to build—they saved money that way. Then he says, “There’s one plank between him and the deep, and the cause of his hardship, the reason for his risk, is silver cut into cartwheels [little ones] stamped with minute mottos, miniature portraits [coins, money]. Clouds and lightning come up. ‘Cast off,’ cries the owner. ‘Don’t pay any attention to that. We have to make this shipment.’ Pepper and wheat fill the holds. There’s nothing really to the color of the sky, that bundle of black—forget it. Summer lightning and thunder are nothing at all [but what happens when the ship is hit?] But this very night the poor fellow [again I think of the Valdez Exxon here] runs a good chance to be flung overboard as the timbers are broken, overwhelmed by the wave. But hanging onto his wallet with his teeth or his left hand, yesterday not all the gold of Tagus along with the red-colored sands of Pactolus [famous gold regions] would have sated his need. But today he’s lucky in having rags to cover him and a crust of bread. He’s a beggar painting pictures of a storm and a shipwrecked pleader for pennies. Property won by such ills is kept with fear and with trouble. Even greater still is the wretched to guard the huge fortune. Plutocrat that he is, Licinus has to order a cohort of his slave boys to stand on guard all night with fire buckets ready at hand. He fears for his amber, his statues, his marble brought from Phrygian shores, his ivory, tortoise shell badges, etc.
“If anyone asks me how much is sufficient, I’ll tell him [exactly as Paul does in his first letter to Timothy, 6:8, ‘And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.’ Anybody who wants more gets into real trouble [he uses the word rapids]. He gets caught in the rapids, into many foolish investments [and he’ll lose everything anyway], many foolish and hurtful lusts [epithumia means desire for more than you have], which has spoiled the faith of many and driven many out of the church,” he says.
Well, there’s a familiar pattern, you see. Here we have it. “If anyone asks me how much is sufficient, I’ll tell him. As much as hunger and thirst and cold are demanding [that’s as much as you need], as much as sufficed Epicurus, content with his little garden; as much as the household gods of Socrates had in the old days. Nature never dictates one thing and wisdom another. Do I seem to be hemming you in with narrow precedents? Well then, copy our customs a bit. Take the sun with the emperor Otho.”
The emperor Otho he particularly disliked. There were those three in a row. Each one bought the empire because he offered more money to the army than his predecessor. The army then killed the predecessor and elected him. This went on this way until it finally got to the Flavians who were honest men. The emperor Otho passed a law reserving the first fourteen rows in the games just for people who made 600,000 sesterces. You had to have that much money to sit in those rows. Wealth was the whole thing [Juvenal] talks about.
Well, that’s the way it was long ago, and it hasn’t changed too much, has it? So he’s talking about this, and it strikes home. Mormon 8:39: “Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?” You don’t afflict them. You don’t go out of your way to hurt them or anything. You just don’t notice them. That’s the worst of all. Of course, we think of the pearls, the jewelry, the ermine, and the rest of the things at a fashionable party. There are people sleeping in the streets right outside a fashionable party in Washington or somewhere like that. Why do they do it? They don’t persecute them; they don’t even snub them. This is the worst thing, to be ignored. That’s the bottom line. So we can’t be accused of cruelty here, but this is worse. There are those who do not want to end poverty or war. Well, that’s another story. There are some interesting things on that. Do we have anything sage to say on this particular subject? Respect for things rather than respect for life is what we’re talking about here.
Then this is where the wealth comes from and what the ultimate effect is. “Why do you build up your secret combinations to get gain?” A combination is a corporation building agreements that are secret. They get together and they’ll pay off, as L. L. White says. It’s a good statement, but I won’t read it. He says they conceal the fact from us that these corporations are operating a cooperative more controlled and more against free enterprise than the most rigid socialistic plan you could imagine. You have to sing the company hymns and do things like that. Well, L. L. White’s book caused quite a sensation a few years ago, called The Organization Man. Maybe you haven’t read that. We should assign things like this.
What is the result? War, of course. What happens? What causes widows and orphans to mourn before the Lord? Of course, the killing of their husbands and their [fathers]. “And also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?” This is the end result of war, of course. Families are not only broken up in this tragedy, and it’s a direct result of this verse. The secret combinations to get gain have led to it. Now here I could a story unfold. I spent months cruising around Europe in my own jeep and accidentally finding out much too much that I should never have known about what went on during the war and what was behind the whole thing. I tell you it was orchestrated and planned to an amazing extent. Well, we won’t go into that.
Let’s go on. This is for us, and if we’re guilty of these things, what’s going to happen? What is our condition? The last verse, says what this is all pointing to. “Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.” So soon it’s going to be the same thing that happened to the Nephites and the others—the sword of vengeance. There’s something up there that’s going to fall down. It’s going to come on us.
In the next chapter are those that don’t believe. These are the unbelievers. Do we have anything particularly sharp to say about this? What percent of the world does not believe in God? With many of them it doesn’t make any difference. Everywhere so far the theme has been addressed to the Christian nation. You notice here in the next verse this hint of a period of extermination. We’re living on the frail edge of an ecosystem right now that, as we know, is collapsing, and here it goes. Verse 2: “The earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” Well, there is a quietus. There is a real extermination period, and there have been such. This reads just like the description in that issue of the National Geographic that I showed you here on the subject of extermination. It was the fervent heat of a comet. Well, you’d call it a comet, but it was a meteor. A meteorite doesn’t hit the earth, but a meteor does, and there have been some beauties wallop the earth from time to time. Well, not necessarily that this is it, but “the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat [well, there’s nothing much you can do about conservation when you reach that stage], yea, in that great day when ye shall be brought to stand before the Lamb of God.”
This is not fear of death. No one can survive this sort of thing. This is what comes after. We recognize here that there is more to come. This is what we have to look forward to in the end. This is to make us behave, and I hope we do. When that curtain comes down, then you’ll see the real stage. Then the whole thing will open out to us and we’ll see what it is. Will you deny then that Christ is real, “or can ye behold the Lamb of God? Do ye supposed that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt?” This is what we’re going to do—to shift to this other world here. It’s all working up to this.
Well, it can’t be because you wouldn’t receive it, you see. You rejected it frantically. Notice he says here, “a consciousness of your guilt.” You’ll know then that the only reason you weren’t able to enjoy what you had a right to is that you wouldn’t have it. Notice: “ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being,” but not “when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt.” You throw yourself out of it. It doesn’t have to be a particular hell. When a book is opened and they say particular crimes you’ve committed, you’ll know perfectly well what the crimes were. It’s your guilt that will accuse you. If you have ever abused his laws, you’ll know that. No accuser will be necessary.
Verse 4: “Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God.” He’s going to give you the best you want. You’re getting let off as easy as [possible]. You’d prefer hell a thousand times so that you won’t have to [be in his presence], so that’s what you get, if you want it. You know the kind of people you like and you want to be with. Everyone’s going to get the easiest possible sentence here. You’ll be far “more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God,” so they’re not going to make you. You’ll say thank heaven for that. God, you’re being very kind, not making me dwell here. It’s like not being forced to take a certain class that’s so far beyond you you’d be utterly miserable. You wouldn’t know what was going on there. It’s the same thing. We’re adjusted to what we’re willing to take and what we’re able to take. There’s justice and mercy all the way here. Notice he says we would much prefer “to dwell with the damned souls in hell [they’re you’re people]. For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God.” You can imagine that embarrassment. You’d want anything to happen—the mountains to cover you, the rocks to fall on you, etc. So this is a very good reason, he says. “O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord.” The whole trouble is people just don’t believe this. There’s not going to be any heaven. There’s not going to be anything like that hereafter [they say]. This is a point that we come to now—”. . . that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed.” It’s still not too late. You’re not clean now, but you can still do it, “having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day. And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God.”
Now this idea of gifts. We deny the gifts; we prefer office to gifts. Brigham Young said prophecy is not an office—it’s a gift. There are certain gifts, but we deny them. Yet they’re the only things that are real. The office is temporary and artifical. A breath can make them and a breath hath made. Remember Burns talking about the same thing. Anyone can be appointed to any office; offices are of that nature. Men make them, we appoint them, and they’re temporary. They’re for a purpose. We say office is everything. It was St. Augustine who decided that since we cannot control the spiritual gifts, we cannot control the Spirit. We cannot control revelation except by living righteously, and his generation didn’t expect to live righteously. Remember his famous prayer: “God give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” Well, that’s the way they expected to live. He said under these conditions we’re not going to get revelations, and the worst thing about them is they can’t be controlled. He was a Roman and thought everything had to be controlled. We have to crack down on everything. Ah, but office. That’s different. Ceremony and office—they will take the place of revelations and gifts. So they did; everything then became ceremony and office. You can invent and control ceremonies. You can stage them on a certain date, and in the same way you can control the power of office. You can administer here and there. You can set up committees and the like and have everything in control. You can’t do that with the spiritual gifts and the Spirit. So that took the place, and we are prone today to respect office simply for itself and nothing else. So they deny the revelations and the gifts. And here are the great gifts. You’ll notice what they’re done with—revelations, prophecies, healing, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues. Those are the greatest gifts.
Verse 8: “He that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures.” Joseph Smith said everything you teach must square with the scriptures. We have them. And so [verse 11], “I will show you a God of miracles.” Then he talks and sums up the atonement here: “Because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man. . . . They are brought back into the presence of the Lord [that’s what atonement means—brought back into the presence of God]; yea, this is wherein all men are redeemed, because the death of Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection, which bringeth to pass a redemption from an endless sleep.”
Notice, the Book of Mormon recognizes—and this is recognized earlier by Nephi—that entropy is a real thing. It would be an endless sleep if there wasn’t somebody who knew more about it. Nature is impersonal and lets you do anything you want. The expression that Alma uses is that we would die to rot and disappear and rise no more in the normal order of things. That’s what nature would have us do, and that’s true. They frankly admit it, and he admits it here—”a redemption from an endless sleep.”
I think of Cattullus’s famous ode here, “One perpetual night of endless sleep is all that awaits anybody here.” But that’s not so, because there’s somebody who’s able to control that, somebody who knows more. I mean if nature is dumb and blind and has no particular preferences for this, that, or the other, why can’t the power of mind control it? It’s not going to make any objection as long as you follow whatever laws or principles are built into the structure of these things. The point is that there’s someone who’s there who is able to overcome it. This is a very real thing which we see all around us—the power of entropy is reduced all the time. This is what Buckminster Fuller wrote about. He called it syntropy. The Russians are especially intrigued by this, especially one called Cuzera. He says, look, this is silly to say [there’s no God], because everywhere you look you see things are being formed, put together. Somebody’s doing something, he says. And you don’t know anything about it.
Well, we’ve got to get on to the Jaredites. Incidentally, here are these things. This is Brother Kimball’s talk. They’re 20 cents apiece. Too much, but that’s the world we live in. We’ve just been talking about that.