Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 64-66: Forgiveness, Zion’s Ensign and Our Thoughts

William E. McLellin

This coming week’s Come Follow Me lesson covers three sections of the Doctrine and Covenants that all seem to look at how and what we think about. First, section 64 responds to the traveling disputes among the Elders of the Church, urging, among other things, forgiveness. Next, section 65 is a kind of prayer on finding Zion by seeking its ensign. And section 66, addressed to William E. McLellin, shows that the Lord knows the thoughts of our hearts — for McLellin’s five questions, unknown to Joseph Smith, were apparently answered.

 

Forgiveness

Let’s start with section 64 and forgiveness. Believe it or not the name of the author of this poem is James Bond, an English-born missionary. Bond immigrated from England in 1847 at the age of 17, and worked as a printer for the Deseret News before he was called to return to England as a missionary six years later. He stayed on his mission for six years, during which time he married his wife, Elizabeth (two years after writing the following poem). The couple immigrated together to Utah in 1859, after Bond wrote another poem urging fellow Church members to also immigrate. James and Elizabeth then settled in Ogden where they raised a family of 5 children and where James taught school until his early death in 1877.

In this poem, Bond praises the value of forgiveness for both the forgiver and for the person forgiven.

Forgiveness

by James Bond (1854)
How sweet the charm that CHARITY imparts,
And throws around our erring, human hearts;
It dries the evils that man’s breast may tear,
And calms, subdues the passions reigning there.
FORGIVENESS! What a grace to be possessed!
And he that has it may be doubly blessed;
It sheds sweet peace around, dispelling strife,
And stills the troubled sea of earthly life.
FORGIVENESS wields the chain of brotherhood,
And makes mankind approximate to God;
Thus may we gain the attributes of heaven,
And learn how to forgive and be forgiven.

[H.T., Ardis @Keepa]

 

Zion’s Ensign

The prayer or exhortation that is section 65, calls on Church members to seek for Zion, looking for her ensign. Fortunately, this is a rather common subject of Mormon poetry from before the trek to Utah. The following poem urges Church members to seek for the ensign by immigrating to Utah. Unfortunately, I was not able to identify the author.

 

A Song for the Saints

by W. E. Shaw (1849)
Soon we will gather to Zion’s fair land;

Will, will you go, will, will yon go?
Then we wilt join with a glorious band;

Will, will you go, will you go?
Hundreds and thousands have reached the shore,
Where there is plenty in basket and store,
Where there are prophets inspired, as of yore,

Will, will you go, will you go?
On Zion’s hill stands a light to the world;

Will, will you go, will, will you go?
Jehovah again has a standard unfurled;

Will, will you go, will you go?
Come then, O ye nations, of every hue,
Fly to the ensign that’s set up for you,
Come do not doubt, what I tell you is true;

Will, will you go, will you go?
The day’s drawing nigh when the wicked shall mourn;

Will, will you go, will, will you go?
When Israel’s outcasts again shall return;

Will, will you go, will you go?
O will not that be a most glorious day,
When Jesus will unto his faithful ones say,
“Come, enter, inherit celestial day.”

Will, will you go, will you go?
‘Tis because we are warned that we flee from this land,

Will, will you go, will, will you go?
And if we prove loyal, with Christ we will stand;

Will, will you go, will you go?
But those who are wicked, rebellious, and proud,
Shall call to the hills and the mountains aloud,
“Fall on us and hide us from Israel’s God,

Woe, woe is unto us, woe.”
Then we who are true, let us all join and say,

Will, will you go, will, will you go?
And O let us warn all that come in our way,

And say unto them, will you go ?
And when we have warn’d all, and told them the plan
By which salvation must come unto man,
We’11 go home rejoicing and join with the band

Who have said to the world, will you go?

 

The Thoughts of our Hearts

While the Lord knows the thoughts of our hearts, that doesn’t necessarily imply that we know our own hearts, let alone the thoughts of others. Not knowing our motivations and sincerity often lead to miscommunication and worse. The following poem addresses how we might respond to this lack of knowledge of ourselves and others—it suggests we should simply cut others some slack.

This poem was written by LDS hymn writer Andrew Dalrymple, author of hymn #178, O Lord of Hosts. Dalrymple was born in Bolton, New York in 1817 and immigrated to Utah in 1860, settling in Centerville, Utah, where he lived with his wife, Caroline. He wrote the following poem in about 1882, and it was published in The Contributor soon afterwards.

Be Slow to Condemn

By A. Dalrymple (1882)

It is human to err and stray from the fold,
But divine to forgive like our Master of old;
Then let us, like Him, to the wayward be kind,
And His precepts, so Godlike, still bear in mind.
For the prodigal son, in his thoughtless career,
The fatted calf kill, his poor soul to cheer.
Ye fathers be kind to your sons in their youth,
And teach them to walk in the bright paths of truth;
Your examples be such, that at some future day,
They’ll rise up and bless you when you’ve passed away,
And your precepts remember, and cherish them, when
They mingle at times with the children of men.
Oh! God of all grace, teach me to impart
To frail erring mortals the thoughts of my heart,
Through the trump of the Spirit, I’d shout all the day,
Could I win one poor soul from his profligate way,
And teach him to shun the dark portals of strife,
And his thirsty soul slake at the fountain of life.
Where is the man who is fortified so
He can say in his pride, Shall I ever sin? No;
And rise up in judgment, on his merit alone,
And at his frail brother cast the first stone?
Beware! Oh beware! how you judge, lest the same
Be meted to you in Jehovah’s great name.
My heart melts with love and with charity when
I think of the frailties of poor erring men;
And remember that I, too, am subject to stray
In an unguarded moment from virtue’s bright way.
Oh, God of my fathers, I beseech Thee forgive
Thy poor erring children, and say to them, Live!

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