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Interpretation

Benjamin Johnson recounted the following story:

“Early on Sunday morning he [the Prophet Joseph Smith] said, “Come Brother Bennie, let us have a walk.”

I took his arm, and he led the way into a by-place in the edge of the woods surrounded by tall brush and trees. Through the swale ran a small spring brook, across which a tree was fallen and was clean of its bark. On this we sat down, and the Prophet began to tell me that the Lord had revealed to him that plural or patriarchal marriage was according to His law; and that the Lord and not only revealed it to him but had commanded him to obey it; that he was required to take other wives; and that he wanted my Sister Almira for one of them, and wished me to see and talk to her upon the subject.

If a thunderbolt had fallen at my feet, I could hardly have been more shocked or amazed. He saw the struggle in my mind and went on to explain. But the shock was too great for me to comprehend anything, and in almost an agony of feeling I looked squarely in the eye and said, while my heart gushed up before him, ” Brother Joseph, this is all new to me. It may all be true—you know, but I do not. To my education it is all wrong. But I am going, with the help of the Lord, to do just what you say, with this promise to you—that if ever I know you do this to degrade my sister I will kill you, as the Lord lives.”

He looked at me, oh, so calmly, and said, “Brother Benjamin, you will never see that day, but you shall see the day you will know it is true, and you will fulfill the law and greatly rejoice in it.” And he said, “At this morning’s meeting, I will preach you a sermon that no one but you will understand. And furthermore, I will promise you that when you open your mouth to your sister, it shall be filled.”

At the meeting he read the Parable of the Talents, and showed plainly that to him that hath shall be given more, and from him that had but one should be taken that he seemed to have, and given to him who had ten. This, so far as I could understand, might relate to families, . . .” 1

Brigham Young concurred with the Prophet’s interpretation:

“If we could make every man upon the earth get him a wife, live righteously and serve God, we would not be under the necessity, perhaps, of taking more than one wife. But they will not do this; the people of God, therefore, have been commanded to take more wives.  The women are entitled to salvation if they live according to the word that is given to them; and if their husbands are good men, and they are obedient to them, they are entitled to certain blessings, and they will have the privilege of receiving certain blessings that they cannot receive unless they are sealed to men who will be exalted. Now, where a man in this Church says, “I don’t want but one wife, I will live my religion with one,” he will perhaps be saved in the celestial kingdom; but when he gets there he will not find himself in possession of any wife at all. He has had a talent that he has hid up. He will come forward and say, “Here is that which thou gavest me, I have not wasted it, and here is the one talent,” and he will not enjoy it, but it will be taken and given to those who have improved the talents they received, and he will find himself without any wife, and he will remain single forever and ever.” 2

Scriptural Text

Matthew 25:14-30

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.  And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:  And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.  Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.  For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  1. The journal of Benjamin F. Johnson, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; “An Interesting Letter,” from Patriarch Benjamin F. Johnson to George S. Gibbs, 1903; Benjamin F. Johnson file, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  2. Brigham Young, “The Gospel Incorporates All Truth, Etc.”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, pp. 160-171, August 31, 1873.

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