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In the reign of Tiberius of Rome, the Lord Jesus was crucified. At the hour of the atonement, His Gospel was to the dominant earthly power only "a deadly superstition," "a strange and pestilent superstition," sought to be crushed at any cost by the ruthless power of the pagan empire. Thus came the persecutions of the early Christians, lasting until after Christianity, with irresistible power, had "sprung up, even in Rome, the common reservoir for all the streams of wickedness and infamy."

In the midst of these early tribulations, the plain and simple Gospel was becoming involved and mystified by the many opposing sects which professed to believe in Jesus; and yet it retained so much of divinity as enabled it to resist persecution and idolatry, and made it, in the fourth century, the established religion of Rome.

This elevation was not achieved without some sacrifice of identity. And in the commingling with error, truth yielded much.

The Roman emperor, Constantine I., was led to show favor to the unpopular people; but his friendliness to Christianity demanded and received its price. He sought as much the welfare of the state as the progress of the religion to which he had been only in part converted; and when he exacted concessions of creed and principle, the Fathers felt forced to comply. It was Constantine who called the first Council of Nice. He presided over its opening session, and dictated its policy in accordance with his own imperial ambitions.

From that time on, for twelve hundred years, the Church of Rome grew in lustful power. The first great check was when the German monk, Martin Luther, with bared feet, fled in disappointment from the debauched court of Pope Leo X. Luther's courage partly stripped the idol of its awe-invoking cloak of mystery and dread threats; and never more did the whole civilized world crouch in terror at the feet of Rome.

The freedom of thought heralded by the Reformation, at last found its abuse in the Age of Reason and the blasphemy of the French Revolution. At first rejecting Christianity for a dream of paganism restored, the infidels, in turn, exchanged pagan mythology, with its gods many, for their own new mythology, with its gods none.

This tempest of profane unbelief was too violent to be enduring. A re-awakening to religious fervor was manifest in Christendom. Men gladly blotted from their memories the dread of the auto-da-fe; the inquisition dungeons and racks of Spain and Italy, the funeral fires of England, the witch-hanging and Quaker-driving of the New World, and all the atrocities sacrilegiously practiced as ceremonies of worship. Mankind turned back by thousands to find satisfaction for their inherent necessity—belief in a Higher Power.

But that Higher Power was itself an unfathomable mystery. God had been misunderstood for centuries. Much of the world had known nothing of Him —His nature or His purposes—from the death of Christ's Apostles. The men who had known Him walked no more in the midst of mankind. Prophets and apostles, while they lived, taught their fellow-men that he was a distinct personality—a glorious Being in whose likeness man was created. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was declared "to be made like unto his brethren"—"made in the likeness of men"—and "in the likeness of sinful flesh;" yet inspired men claimed Him as being "in the form of God"—"the express image of His person"—"the image of the invisible God." But, as generations and centuries passed, true knowledge concerning the Creator faded away. A spiritual meaning concerning His personage and attributes was given to the testimony of those who had known Him. Modern sectarianism taught the world that God, the Father, of whose person Jesus was the "express image," was an all-pervading God of spirit—a Being who, without any tangible existence, is everywhere in the material world—a Being "without body, parts or passions," "whose center was nowhere and whose circumference was everywhere." Professing to have an understanding of the Deity, they differed but little from the Pantheists, who, rejecting a personal God, made bold avowal of an all-existing God of nature—the combined forces and laws which are manifested in the existing universe.

Thus blinded, how could mankind offer true worship to the Lord of heaven and earth?

The Eastern World had lost this knowledge of the Lord earlier than the Western Hemisphere. Upon the land of North America, four hundred years after the birth of our Savior and Master, there stood at least one man who knew the Lord God Almighty as a distinct personality, a Being capable of communicating Himself to man. That man was Moroni, the son of Mormon, whose testimony abides now and must abide through all the ages to come.

Biografier och memoarer
18 juli
Library of Alexandria

Fler böcker av George Quayle Cannon