Monday, February 6, 2017

063. By Proving Contraries, Truth is Made Manifest

In a recent conversation with a friend, I was reminded of the following quote by Joseph Smith, as recorded in a letter he wrote just 3 weeks prior to his death:
"Although all is not gold that shines, any more than every religious creed is sanctioned with the so eternally sure word of prophecy, satisfying all doubt with "Thus saith the Lord;" yet, by proving contraries, truth is made manifest, and a wise man can search out old paths, wherein righteous men held communion with Jehovah, and were exalted through obedience." (HC 6:248)
By proving contraries, truth is made manifest...
Webster's 1828 Edition of the dictionary defines "proving" as: "trying; ascertaining; evincing; experiencing" and "contraries" as being "two universals that differ in quality". Such contraries can take numerous forms, often coming into our lives in the form of paradoxes, opposites, or conundrums. These may be within oneself, or in our interactions with others. Answers and direction are not always straightforward. We must prove or test these contraries (whatever they may be) through experience, faith, endurance, revelation, etc. in order for the truth to be made manifest to us. God wants us to grow by working through such challenges, turning to Him in the process, in humility. I find myself wishing that we had more understanding of this principle from Joseph Smith. It seems there is an important truth here for us to carefully ponder and understand. William Blake, the 19th century Christian mystic, poet, and engraver once said, "Without contraries is no progression." Lehi taught "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one." (2 Ne 2:9). It is often only by directly comparing, contrasting, or "proving" one thing against that the truth is or can be made known aside from revelation.

As an added bonus, this quote from Joseph ends with an eternal truism that perfectly summarizes the essence of the fulness of the Gospel: "A wise man can search out old paths, wherein righteous men held communion with Jehovah, and were exalted through obedience." This is the primary thesis of the Lectures on Faith. That a person can come into the presence of the Lord, commune with Him, and obtain their exaltation by following the commandments that the Lord gives them. The gospel demarcates the path that leads into eternal life, trail-blazed by Christ Himself. He has gained, by His experience, knowledge of the way to return home...all would be wise to follow Him, the Giver of Light.

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