Emerson's Inspiration - Intro: Post 4

General Intro

We actually believe, right along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, that mankind can communicate directly with God and, therefore, know truth. To summarize his Divinity School Address in 1838, we pull the following from his remarks: 

"And it is my duty to say to you that the need was never greater of new revelation than now...In how many churches, by how many prophets, tell me, is man made sensible that he is an infinite Soul?...It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake...Men have come to speak of... revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead." 

Is it merely interestingly coincidental or spiritually deliberate that Joseph Smith had heavenly visions, translated the Book of Mormon, and organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which after the long, dark night of apostasy foretold in the Bible, restored the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth just as Emerson delivered these words? This modest young man, Joseph Smith, who millions revere as a modern prophet, indeed, declared that man is an infinite soul and that God is, and speaks to man.

Joseph Smith was not a man recognized by the world as an expert in anything. Just an honest, hard-working country boy who actually believed what is written in James 1:5. The example was deliberate. No college degrees required. No religous hierarchical position necessary. Just honest faith that God lives and Himself is honest enough to make good on the promises of the Bible. That promise in James has never been rescinded. It remains available to all with a sincere heart and real intent.

How many who heard Emerson were spiritually moved because they felt the truth of it that day and then later when LDS missionaries declared it also with authority? How many who were influenced by those who preached what Emerson preached eventually joined the LDS Church? I wonder if that statistic could ever be known? Certainly the idea of man's self-reliance had taken hold of the general population in young Restorationist America. Could Emerson have been inspired to say what he said just at the time he said it? Was that revelation? God does inspire his children? We are not left alone in our effort to find truth.

He speaks to any who ask, with faith, to hear. "Knock," He said to us. He did not say, "I will knock and force myself upon you." You must want communication with God and have the faith to accept what He says when He answers. It means a willingness and even desire to change and grow. More than that, communication with God requires childlike belief. Notice the distinction between childlike and childish. (We'll discuss belief later in other posts and in much more depth.)

Such communication can only be had by one who is willing to accept revealed truth regardless of what must be left behind as payment. To paraphrase a modern apostle, Neal A. Maxwell: The most difficult thing you'll ever do is leave your sins on the altar of sacrifice. Or, quoted directly: "Real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed!"

In The General Intro Category
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