Wednesday, September 4, 2019

An Understanding of Columbus and the Divine Forming of America – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding how the Lord blessed the development of the Promised Land.
    In a series of events as remarkable as the evidence of divine intervention in the American Revolution, Napoleon abruptly decided to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States for the astonishingly low sum of fifteen million dollars—Jefferson’s agents were authorized to offer ten million dollars for New Orleans alone—Jefferson was not about to reject this golden opportunity, even though he had long insisted on strict adherence to the letter of the Constitution and knew he did not have authority to approve the sale. For his part, Napoleon deliberately left the western boundaries of the new territory uncertain, hoping to stir up trouble between the United States and Spain.
    A few years later, the United States found herself in serious trouble with both England and France. Locked in the Napoleonic Wars, each antagonist forbade the United States to trade with the enemy. Both sides seized American merchant ships with abandon and, at one point, Britain and the United States went to war, partly because the British were stopping American ships on the high seas and forcibly impressing American sailors for near slave-like service on British vessels.
During the War of 1812 with England, the British attacked Washington and  burned the White House

It was during this War of 1812 that the British captured Washington, D.C., and burned government buildings, including the White House.
    The “gentile nations” that harassed the budding United States during these trying years had no intention of allowing the infant nation to become a powerful rival. Not until the United States gained international stature in its own right was it treated as an equal among the nations.
    The birth and growth of the United States is easily one of the more astonishing events in human history, strong support indeed for the concept of divine assistance during that trying period. In particular, the nation evolved in a way counter to the usual patterns for developing nations. To suit the Lord’s purposes, it was vital that freedom be an inherent part of that pattern in order to uphold the divine principle of free agency. Thus a democracy, the preferable form of political freedom, must not only cherish its freedom, it must remain anchored to a tradition of freedom so firmly rooted that it is very difficult to dislodge. This the United States achieved, largely because of divine assistance in its development as well as its founding.
    Since mankind has an affinity for mortgaging the future by exploiting resources rather than husbanding them, it is hardly surprising that the Spanish and Portuguese who followed Columbus directed their efforts to the lands of Central and South America. In their search for gold and other mineral wealth, they ravaged both lands and peoples. The Catholic Church was the only durable institution, and it too practiced economic exploitation.
    How different this was from the temperate lands to the north which remained largely unexplored. These lands lacked the gold and silver which enriched Spain for a season and then left her sterile when the industrial revolution set a new standard for national wealth, power, and prestige. The lands that would form the United States possessed these resources in abundance. This provided, in time, for a new nation where people flocking to its shores could develop a firm tradition of freedom well able to withstand the powers that plotted against them. History offers no comparable development.
The Constitution of the United States placed in writing for the first time the rights of the people and their protection under the law

But perhaps most important of all, it was vital that the tradition of freedom be able to withstand internal pressures. A near universal truth of history is the seeming inevitability of a prosperous society to separate into classes and for the new “aristocracy” to seize power and use it to promote their own purposes. This was largely precluded in the United States by a divinely inspired Constitution married to a firm tradition of God-given liberty.
    Still, even with freedom of worship guaranteed by the Constitution, the restored Church suffered intense persecution. And it is significant that enemies of the Church continually sought government assistance by claiming that the Church and its people were “in rebellion” against the nation and the states in which they settled. Not even the great exodus to Mexican territory in the West stilled those voices, a strong indication of what the Church could have expected in lands without a tradition of freedom guaranteed by a written constitution.
    Having seen much of the future and having such a clear vision of the promised land and the role it would play in the divine plan, Nephi’s account of the arrival of his group in the promised land underscores the validity the angel’s statement to Nephi that their destination was indeed a covenant land “choice above all other lands” (1 Nephi 13:30).
    We did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land. And...we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds…And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance. And...we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold,  and of silver, and of copper. (1 Nephi 18:23–25.)
Lehi reached the Land of Promise in the ship Nephi built under the Lord’s direction

The great vision of the promised land given Lehi and Nephi surely sustained them during those difficult years en route to the promised land. Their long and difficult journey was one with divine purpose and hence profound meaning. By the same token, Laman and Lemuel’s festering resentment and animosity towards those with that vision is partly attributable to their total lack of understanding as to its meaning. For them, the exodus was nothing more than a foolish and unnecessary flight from Jerusalem. Thus, the hardships they faced were also unnecessary, their father Lehi a foolish visionary, and Nephi a sanctimonious and domineering younger brother. All that might have changed had they understood the concept of the promised land which they would share, and which was explained with utmost clarity.
    Some time after their safe arrival, Nephi was approached by his rebellious brothers as he was studying the brass plates taken from Laban. Asked whether certain things mentioned on the plates were to be understood temporally or spiritually, Nephi spoke prophetically about the promised land on which they now stood. He spoke of its relationship to the restoration of the gospel in the latter days, together with the bringing of that gospel to the scattered remnants of their own seed.
    “And…the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered. And after our seed is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders. And it shall also be of worth unto the Gentiles; and not only unto the Gentiles but unto all the house of Israel, unto the making known of the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (1 Nephi 22:7–9).
    How that understanding of God’s plan must have thrilled Nephi! To the blessings inherent in possessing the promised land and keeping the covenants, there was the added knowledge that this land would one day be the citadel of freedom essential to the restoration of the gospel. It would be God’s “base of operations” for sending the gospel to the nations of the world prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ.

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