On Time

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One night Wilford Woodruff had a vision of Joseph Smith and others in heaven. Joseph was at the door of the temple in heaven. He was in a hurry and could not stop to talk with Wilford. Many people were in a hurry. After a bit, Joseph passed by Wilford again. Wilford stopped him and asked why he and everyone were hurried. Joseph replied, “I will tell you Brother Woodruff. Every dispensation that has had the Priesthood on the earth and has gone into the Celestial Kingdom has had a certain amount of work to do to prepare to go to the earth with the Savior when He goes to reign on the earth. Each dispensation has had ample time to do this work. We have not. We are the last dispensation and so much work has to be done [that] we need to be in a hurry in order to accomplish it!”

In other words, we do not have much time before the Second Coming. We must be anxiously engaged in the work of the Lord. We must not waste time! We have so much to do and so little time. Those who have already passed on are engaged in the work from the other side of the veil. They continue their work with all the energy they have.

General Conference was one week ago. I marvel at the wonderful technology that allows us to watch Conference as it happens, even though we might be across the globe. Mp3s of the sessions were up hours after each was over. As soon as each session ended, we could watch it (again) via streaming video. Shortly later each talk and song were available to download as videos or audio. On Thursday the full text of the talks was posted.

The Church is constantly working on new ways to reach more people more quickly and with less effort. We can watch church videos on YouTube, we can listen to an LDS radio station – online and over the air in some locations, we can read scriptures online or on our iPods or iPhones, we can send out emails to the whole ward announcing activities, we can report home teaching via email, we can share the gospel using Twitter or Facebook or blogs. The Lord has blessed us with technological advances so that we might have more time to devote to fulfilling His work. We need to take advantage of these advances and labor and time-saving inventions by making sure we fulfill our gospel responsibilities and our duties to God.

We have little time to do the Lord’s work; let’s not squander what time we have. Those like the Prophet Joseph or Pres. Hinckley or many of our ancestors on the other side of the veil are working with all diligence to do the Lord’s work. They need willing and active hearts and hands from us to fulfill our duties. We need to remember the words of Amulek who said, “Behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32). We have much work to accomplish in this life – there are things we can only do here. We have work enough to do ere the sun goes down. How are you spending your time?

Puritanism Parallels with Mormonism: Preparation for the Restoration – Part 5

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Joseph Smith was born and lived much of his young life in the New England states. Calvinism had a strong influence in his day. Puritanism in practice was not strong during his life but Presbyterianism and other Calvinist religions were. Joseph’s mother and a few siblings had joined with the Presbyterians before Joseph’s First Vision. However, some of these Puritan doctrines had strayed from the truth; in fact all Christian religions had strayed to varying degrees from the truth – they all had much of the truth but the fullness was lost. Further, the organization of Christ’s church was no longer on the earth. Because of this, it was necessary for a restoration to occur. The Restoration was not a reaction to Puritanism or any other contemporary religion. That’s what the Reformation was – a reaction to the prevailing church and dogmas. The Restoration was something new; it was putting new wine in new bottles, or rather, old wine made anew and poured into new bottles.

Another way the Puritans helped pave the way for the Restoration was with their strong emphasis on personal Bible study, which meant that literacy was important. They had higher literacy rates than other communities within the New World. The Latter-day Saints had and have a similar focus on education; we believe education and life-long learning are important. The Puritans believed education was important for both men and women; within Mormonism, we have always placed a similar emphasis on education for all, even if it is only informal. The LDS Church today has a donation-funded Perpetual Emigration Fund that helps members around the world break the cycle of poverty by providing them with education loans that they can use to receive college or technical training. Puritanism and Mormonism are similar in other ways. The Puritans also emphasized fasting and prayer, just as we do in the LDS church. Going without food and drink helps us overcome the natural man as we pray and seek strength and guidance from our Father.

The Puritans placed a large emphasis on time. They often turned their whole houses into sundials because clocks were prohibitively expensive for most people; they could use the relationship between the sun and their houses as a means to tell time. The Puritans abhorred wasting time or being idle. People were even fined for “misspending their time” (p.158). They believed that it was best to arise early and retire early so that they waste as little time as possible. They even tried to decrease the amount of sleep they received in order to accomplish more, especially scripture studying or acting in the service of God (p.161). Does that sound like LDS teachings? “Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (D&C; 88:124). Additionally, throughout the Book of Mormon those who were wicked were often described with the following words: “And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations” (1 Ne. 12:23). [As an aside, I want to point out that becoming a “dark” people is probably best interpreted as a reference to a darkness of countenance (i.e., not having the light of Christ shining in one’s countenance or eyes; being full of darkness instead of light)]. Within both Puritanism and Mormonism there is counsel against idleness.

Puritanism likely had some degree of influence on the culture of Mormonism (culture is not the same as doctrine), just as it had (and has) on American culture. While some doctrines of Puritanism were similar to those of the LDS faith, there were significant differences, predestination was one of the biggest differences. However, differences aside, Puritanism helped pave the way for the Restoration.

Reference

Fischer, D. H. (1989). Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. Oxford University Press, Oxford.