Lectures on Faith

Fourth Lecture

1. Having shown, in the third lecture, that correct ideas of the character of God are necessary in order to the exercise of faith in Him unto life and salvation; and that without correct ideas of His character the minds of men could not have sufficient power with God to the exercise of faith necessary to the enjoyment of eternal life; and that correct ideas of His character lay a foundation, as far as His character is concerned, for the exercise of faith, so as to enjoy the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Jesus Christ even that of eternal glory; we shall now proceed to show the connection there is between correct ideas of the attributes of God, and the exercise of faith in Him unto eternal life.

2. Let us here observe, that the real design which the God of heaven had in view in making the human family acquainted with His attributes, was that they, through the ideas of the existence of His attributes, might be enabled to exercise faith in Him, and through the exercise of faith in Him, might obtain eternal life; for without the idea of the existence of the attributes which belong to God, the minds of men could not have power to exercise faith in Him so as to lay hold upon eternal life. The God of heaven, understanding most perfectly the constitution of human nature, and the weakness of men, knew what was necessary to be revealed, and what ideas must be planted in their minds in order that they might be enabled to exercise faith in Him unto eternal life.

3. Having said so much, we shall proceed to examine the attributes of God, as set forth in His revelations to the human family, and to show how necessary correct ideas of His attributes are to enable men to exercise faith in Him; for without these ideas being planted in the minds of men it would be out of the power of any person or persons to exercise faith in God so as to obtain eternal life. So that the divine communications made to men in the first instance were designed to establish in their minds the ideas necessary to enable them to exercise faith in God, and through this means to be partakers of His glory.

4. We have, in the revelations which He has given to the human family, the following account of His attributes:

5. First — Knowledge. Acts 15:18: “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world,” Isaiah 46:9, 10: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient time the things that are not yet done, saying ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.'”

6. Secondly — Faith or power. Hebrews 11:3: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Isaiah 14:24, 27: “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, ‘Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass: and as I have purposed so shall it stand. For the Lord of Hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?'”

7. Thirdly — Justice. Psalms 89:14: “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne.” Isaiah 45:21: “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together; who hath declared this from the ancient times have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour.” Zephaniah 3:5 “The just Lord is in the midst thereof.” Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy King cometh unto thee; he is just and having salvation.”

8. Fourthly — Judgment. Psalms 89:14: “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne.” Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” Psalms 9:7: “but the Lord shall endure forever. He hath prepared His throne for judgment.” Psalms 9:16: “The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth.”

9. Fifthly — Mercy. Psalms 89:14: “Mercy and truth shall go before His face.” Exodus 34:6: “And the Lord passed by before Him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious.'” Nehemiah 9:17: “But thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful.”

10. And sixthly — Truth. Psalms 89:14: “Mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” Exodus 34:6: “Long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth.” Deuteronomy 32:4: “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” Psalms 31:5: “Into Thine hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of Truth.”

11. By a little reflection it will be seen that the idea of the existence of these attributes in the Deity is necessary to enable any rational being to exercise faith in Him; for without the idea of the existence of these attributes in the Deity men could not exercise faith in Him for life and salvation; seeing that without the knowledge of all things, God would not be able to save any portion of His creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which He has of all things, form the beginning to the end, that enables Him to give that understanding to His creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in Him.

12. And it is not less necessary that men should have the idea of the existence of the attribute power in the Deity; for unless God had power over all things, and was able by His power to control all things, and thereby deliver His creatures who put their trust in Him from the power of all beings that might seek their destruction, whether in heaven, on earth, or in hell, men could not be saved. But with the idea of the existence of this attribute planted in the mind, men feel as though they had nothing to fear who put their trust in God, believing that He has power to save all who come to Him to the very uttermost.

13. It is also necessary, in order to the exercise of faith in God unto life and salvation, that men should have the idea of the existence of the attribute justice in Him; for without the idea of the existence of the attribute justice in the Deity, men could not have confidence sufficient to place themselves under His guidance and direction; for they would be filled with fear and doubt lest the judge of all the earth would not do right, and thus fear or doubt, existing in the mind, would preclude the possibility of the exercise of faith in Him for life and salvation. But when the idea of the existence of the attribute justice in the Deity is fairly planted in the mind, it leaves no room for doubt to get into the heart, and the mind is enabled to cast itself upon the Almighty without fear and without doubt, and with the most unshaken confidence, believing that the Judge of all the earth will do right.

14. It is also of equal importance that men should have the idea of the existence of the attribute judgment in God, in order that they may exercise faith in Him for life and salvation; for without the idea of the existence of this attribute in the Deity, it would be impossible for men to exercise faith in Him for life and salvation, seeing that it is through the exercise of this attribute that the faithful in Christ Jesus are delivered out of the hands of those who seek their destruction; for if God were not to come out in swift judgment against the workers of iniquity and the powers of darkness, His saints could not be saved; for it is by judgment that the Lord delivers His saints out of the hands of all their enemies, and those who reject the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. But no sooner is the idea of the existence of this attribute planted in the minds of men, than it gives power to the mind for the exercise of faith and confidence in God, and they are enabled by faith to lay hold on the promises which are set before them, and wade through all the tribulations and afflictions to which they are subjected by reason of the persecution from those who know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, believing that in due time the Lord will come out in swift judgment against their enemies, and they shall be cut off from before Him, and that in His own due time He will bear them off conquerors, and more than conquerors, in all things.

15. And again, it is equally important that men should have the idea of the existence of the attribute mercy in the Deity, in order to exercise faith in Him for life and salvation; for without the idea of the existence of this attribute in the Deity, the spirits of the saints would faint in the midst of the tribulations, afflictions, and persecutions which they have to endure for righteousness’ sake. But when the idea of the existence of this attribute is once established in the mind it gives life and energy to the spirits of the saints, believing that the mercy of God will be poured out upon them in the midst of their afflictions, and that He will compassionate them in their sufferings, and that the mercy of God will lay hold of them and secure them in the arms of His love, so that they will receive a full reward for all their sufferings.

16. And lastly, but not less important to the exercise of faith in God, is the idea of the existence of the attribute truth in Him; for without the idea of the existence of the attribute the mind of man could have nothing upon which it could rest with certainty — all would be confusion and doubt. But with the idea of the existence of this attribute in the Deity in mind, all the teachings, instructions, promises, and blessings, become realities, and the mind is enabled to lay hold of them with certainty and confidence, believing that these things, and all that the Lord has said, shall be fulfilled in their time; and that all the cursings, denunciations, and judgments, pronounced upon the heads of the unrighteous, will also be executed in the due time of the Lord; and, by reason of the truth and veracity of Him, the mind beholds its deliverance and salvation as being certain.

17. Let the mind once reflect sincerely and candidly upon the ideas of the existence of the before-mentioned attributes in the Deity, and it will be seen that as far as His attributes are concerned, there is a sure foundation laid for the exercise of faith in Him for life and salvation. For inasmuch as God possesses the attribute knowledge, He can make all things known to His saints necessary for their salvation, and as He possesses the attribute power, He is able thereby to deliver them from the power of all enemies; and seeing, also, that justice is an attribute of the Deity, He will deal with them upon the principles of righteousness and equity, and a just reward will be granted unto them for all their afflictions and sufferings for the truth’s sake. And as judgment is an attribute of the Deity also, His saints can have the most unshaken confidence that they will, in due time, obtain a perfect deliverance out of the hands of their enemies, and a complete victory over all those who have sought their hurt and destruction. And as mercy is also an attribute of the Deity, His saints can have confidence that it will be exercised towards them, and through the exercise of that attribute towards them comfort and consolation will be administered unto them abundantly, amid all their afflictions and tribulations. And, lastly, realizing that truth is an attribute of the Deity, the mind is led to rejoice amid all its trials and temptations, in hope of that glory which is to be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ, and in view of that crown which is to be placed upon the heads of the saints in the day when the Lord shall distribute rewards unto them, and in prospect of that eternal weight of glory which the Lord has promised to bestow upon them, when He shall bring them in the midst of His throne to dwell in His presence eternally.

18. In view, then, of the existence of these attributes, the faith of the saints can become exceedingly strong, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God, and can exert its mighty influence in searching after wisdom and understanding, until it has obtained a knowledge of all things that pertain to life and salvation.

19. Such, then, is the foundation which is laid, through the revelation of the attributes of God, for the exercise of faith in Him for life and salvation; and seeing that these are attributes of the Deity, they are unchangeable — being the same yesterday, today, and forever — which gives to the minds of the Latter-day Saints the same power and authority to exercise faith in God which the Former-day Saints had; so that all the saints, in this respect, have been, are, and will be, alike until the end of time; for God never changes, therefore His attributes and character remain forever the same. And as it is through the revelation of these that a foundation is laid for the exercise of faith in God unto life and salvation, the foundation, therefore, for the exercise of faith was, is, and ever will be, the same; so that all men have had, and will have, and equal privilege.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE FOREGOING PRINCIPLES

What was shown in the fourth lecture? It was shown that correct ideas of the character of God are necessary in order to exercise faith in Him unto life and salvation; and that without correct ideas of His character, men could not have power to exercise faith in Him unto life and salvation, but that correct ideas of His character, as far as His character was concerned in the exercise of faith in Him, lay a sure foundation for the exercise of it. Lecture 4:1.

What object had the God of Heaven in revealing His attributed to men? That through an acquaintance with His attributes they might be enabled to exercise faith in Him so as to obtain eternal life. Lecture 4:2.

Could men exercise faith in God without an acquaintance with His attributes, so as to be enabled to lay hold of eternal life? They could not. Lecture 4:2, 3.

What account is given of the attributes of God in His revelations? First, Knowledge; secondly, Faith or Power; thirdly, Justice: fourthly, Judgment; fifthly, Mercy; and sixthly, Truth. Lecture 4:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Where are the revelations to be found which give this revelation or the attributes of God? In the Old and New Testaments, and they are quoted in the fourth lecture, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth paragraphs.

Is the idea of the existence of these attributes in the Deity necessary in order to enable any rational being to exercise faith in Him unto life and salvation? It is.

How do you prove it? By the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth paragraphs in this lecture.

Does the idea of the existence of these attributes in the Deity, as far as His attributes are concerned, enable a rational being to exercise faith in Him unto life and salvation? It does. How do you prove it? By the seventeenth and eighteenth paragraphs.

Have the Latter-day Saints as much authority given them, through the revelations of the attributes of God, to exercise faith in Him as the Former-day Saints had? They have.

How do you prove it? By the nineteenth paragraph of this lecture.