Moroni 8:2 I rejoice exceedingly that your Lord...hath called you to his ministry
Few things give parents as much joy as the righteousness of their children. So it was with Mormon, so it is with us, so it is with God the Father, who always introduces his son with the words, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matt 3:17)
Moroni 8:5 if I have learned the truth there have been disputations among you
Much like Paul, Mormon was quick to respond to rumors of disputations. The great epistle to the Corinthians was prompted by just such a dissension, Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you (1 Cor 1:10-11).
When Christ appeared to the Nephites, one of the first doctrines he taught was that there should be no contention, And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil (3 Ne 11:28).
Mark E. Petersen
"I do believe most positively that if we bring false teachings into our classes or sermons we do our people a great disservice, for we confuse their minds, we make them doubt the truth when it is given to them, and we 'soften them up' for the attacks of apostate teachers who come among them." (Conference Report, Apr. 1953, p. 84)
Moroni 8:8 little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin
The innocence of children is a crucial doctrine. When the scripture says they 'are whole,' that means that they are innocent-that they are alive in Christ.
Joseph Fielding Smith
"'Little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world' (DC 29:46)...when we come into this world, we come into it innocent as far as this world is concerned, just as we were innocent in the other world in the beginning. Every child-I don't care where it is born; I don't care what its color-that is born into this world comes into it innocent in its infant state.
"Why, when you look into the face of a little babe and he looks up and smiles at you, can you believe that that little child is tainted with any kind of sin that will deprive it of the presence of God should it die?" (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:51)
M. Russell Ballard
"In other words, we're born good; we learn to sin as we grow older. And if you need evidence of the truth of that doctrine, please see your nearest infant. Look deeply into the child's eyes. Have you ever seen such sweetness and purity? It's like you can look through a baby's eyes right into heaven.
"Of course, that changes a little later in their lives when wide-eyed innocence turns into wild-eyed mischievousness. That's when children become accountable and capable of sin-when they know and understand the difference between right and wrong. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord revealed that the age of accountability is eight years old. (see DC 68:25)" (Our Search For Happiness, p. 87)
Moroni 8:10 teach parents that they must repent and ...humble themselves as their little children
Jeffrey R. Holland
"In the pattern set by the Savior's own teachings, it is telling that both of these declarations invite adults-Mormon said specifically 'parents'-to become more like little children, not the other way around. An infant's purity and innocence, a baby's sense of wonder, a little one's willingness to believe, a toddler's inherent trust in a Father and Mother, a child's ability to almost instantly forgive and forget, to laugh again and see the very best in the world-these are just a few of the ways adults need to be more like children. Truly 'of such is the kingdom of heaven.' (Matt 19:14)" (Christ And The New Covenant, p. 217)
Moroni 8:11 little children need no repentance, neither baptism
Little children can be saved without saving ordinances. This is because saving ordinances were designed for those who were under condemnation of a broken law. If no law was broken, there is not condemnation, and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement (2 Ne 9:25).
If little children don't need baptism, then one must conclude that they do not need the other saving ordinances of the gospel. Such is the case, for when temple work is done for children known to have died before the age of 8, they are not baptized, not endowed, nor are they ordained to the priesthood. The only ordinance done on their behalf is to be sealed to their parents, for all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven (DC 137:10). Joseph Fielding Smith has taught, "Children who die in infancy do not have to be endowed. So far as the ordinance of [marriage] sealing is concerned, this may wait until the millennium." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:55)
If little children don't need repentance or baptism, then they do not need to partake of the sacrament. The entire focus of the sacrament is to renew baptismal covenants, recommit to the Lord, and receive his redemptive power anew. The sacrament is an ordinance for those who have sinned and are in need of repentance. It is not for the innocent. The reason little children partake of the sacrament is not because they need the sacrament for their salvation, as we do-it is to teach them the significance of the ordinance and to remind them of their Savior. Ironically, although they do not need the sacrament like the rest of the congregation, they are the most worthy to partake of it.
Moroni 8:15 awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism
"It is strange, indeed, that so many churches should practice the principle of infant baptism when there is no account of any such baptisms having been performed in the church of Jesus Christ in primitive days, nor any instructions given that it should be done." (Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 98)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"I remember when I was in the mission field in England, there was an American family there.... One evening as we sat in their home, the man's wife turned to me and said: 'Elder Smith, I want to ask you a question.' Before she could ask her question, she began to cry. I did not know what the matter was. She sobbed, and when she had composed herself enough to ask the question, she told me this story:
"When they went over to England, they had the misfortune of losing a little baby. They were attending the Church of England. They went to the minister and wanted to have that baby laid away with a Christian burial, as they had been attending the church. The minister said to her: 'We can't give your child a Christian burial because it was not christened. Your baby is lost.' That was a rather blunt way to put it, but that is the way she told the story; and that woman's heart had been aching and aching for two or three years. So she asked the question of me: 'Is my baby lost? Will I never see it again?' I turned and read to her from the Book of Mormon the words of Mormon to his son Moroni. I said: 'Your baby is not lost. No baby is lost. Every baby is saved in the kingdom of God when it dies.'" (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:52)
Joseph F. Smith
"...our beloved friends who are now deprived of their little one, have great cause for joy and rejoicing, even in the midst of the deep sorrow that they feel at the loss of their little one for a time. They know he is all right; they have the assurance that their little one has passed away without sin. Such children are in the bosom of the Father. They will inherit their glory and their exaltation, and they will not be deprived of the blessings that belong to them; for, in the economy of heaven, and in the wisdom of the Father, who doeth all things well, those who are cut down as little children are without any responsibility for their taking off... all that could have been obtained and enjoyed by them if they had been permitted to live in the flesh will be provided for them hereafter. They will lose nothing by being taken away from us in this way.
"...Joseph Smith declared that the mother who laid down her little child, being deprived of the privilege, the joy, and the satisfaction of bringing it up to manhood or womanhood in this world, would, after the resurrection, have all the joy, satisfaction and pleasure, and even more than it would have been possible to have had in mortality, in seeing her child grow to the full measure of the stature of its spirit." (Gospel Doctrine, p. 453)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Children who die in childhood will not be deprived of any blessing. When they grow, after the resurrection, to the full maturity of the spirit, they will be entitled to all the blessings which they would have been entitled to had they been privileged to tarry here and receive them.
"The Lord has arranged for that, so that justice will be given to every soul." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:55)
Moroni 8:16 perfect love casteth out all fear
Neal A. Maxwell
"Mormon sounds very much like his brother John in faraway Jerusalem, who, in the 'sunset' of his life, also said:
'There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.' (1 John 4:18.)
"Only men free of fear and tenderized by the spiritual experiences that flow from living in basic accord with the commandments of Christ can focus so congruently-though continents and centuries apart-on the rewards of the first and second great commandments." (A Time To Choose, p. 57)
Ezra Taft Benson
"We live in a world of fear today. Fear seems to be almost everywhere present. But there is no place for fear among the Latter-day Saints, among men and women who keep the commandments, who place their trust in the Almighty, who are not afraid to get down on their knees and pray to our Heavenly Father. God is at the helm. I know it and you know it. Even during the days of persecution and hardship, the Lord has continually encouraged us to trust in Him to keep his commandments, to do that which is right and then to be unafraid." (Conference Report, April 1954)
Neal A. Maxwell
"We are told that 'perfect love casteth out fear' (1 John 4:18; Moroni 8:16). For all of us who still have some fears, how can this really occur?
"If our love of God is sufficiently deep, then we will be sufficiently assured of His enveloping loving-kindness. With this perspective, our fears can shrink. Dread can dissolve. Additionally, there need be no ultimate fear for mankind's future solely because of proximate circumstances, vexing and besetting as the latter may be.
"Amid our 'small moment,' we can know that what we are passing through can be 'for [our] good' (D&C 122:4, 7). We thus love God sufficiently to trust in His perfect love for us even when we do not know the full meaning of the difficult moment." (That Ye May Believe, p. 57)
Moroni 8:22-24 repentance (and baptism) is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law
The Book of Mormon teaches about the salvation of two special groups-those who had not the law and children. Abinadi refers to the former as those who did not have salvation declared unto them. Nephi said of them, the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them (2 Ne 9:26). These souls are innocent, like children, because they knew not the law of God. Nephi taught that when there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation (2 Ne 9:25), for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law. And the first fruits of repentance is baptism (v. 24-25).
Therefore, those without the law do not need baptism. As Joseph Fielding Smith said, "There is no principle taught in the scriptures which is more clearly and definitely stated as to its nature and purpose than is the principle of baptism. There is no reason, except willful perversion of the word of the Lord, for anyone to misunderstand this principle. We are definitely and emphatically taught that baptism is for the remission of sins." (The Way to Perfection, p. 196) One might not agree with this truth, quoting Jn 3:5, except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. But this was the word of the Lord to an individual and a nation which had the law given unto them.
We don't often speak of this doctrine because our frame of reference is different. We know the law. We know the consequences of rebelling against the law. But how many millions of people have died without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ, without ever being taught of a Messiah, without ever understanding the nature of the God who created them? Are they all doomed to suffer in spirit prison only to be resurrected to a telestial glory? Those innocent through ignorance will be resurrected according to the justice of God. Some will inherit a celestial glory (see DC 137:5-10 and Mosiah 15:24).
The scriptures go so far as to say that those without the law will come forth in the first resurrection, And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection; and it shall be tolerable for them (DC 45:54). They will come forth in the first resurrection after those who are "the first fruits" (or those who come forth in the morning of the first resurrection). For the most part, they will inherit the terrestial kingdom and will be resurrected as "those who are Christ's at his coming" (or those who come forth in the afternoon of the first resurrection). See also DC 76:71-73; 88:98-9; 137:7, Mosiah 15:24-25, Heb 5:2, and Mormon Doctrine, p. 640.
Joseph Fielding Smith
"We may be sure that the Lord would do all things according to the law of eternal justice and that he would not punish people who in ignorance sinned and violated his commandments. It is one of the most glorious principles of truth and justice that was ever revealed that men are to be punished according to their disobedience to divine commandments, but not when they have acted innocently in ignorance of those divine edicts." (Answers To Gospel Questions, 4:77)
Moroni 8:26 meekness and lowliness of heart
Elder F. Enzio Busche
"Initiated by the hearing of the word of truth, a disciple of Christ is therefore constantly, even in the midst of all regular activities, striving all day long through silent prayer and contemplation to be in the depth of self-awareness to keep him in the state of meekness and lowliness of heart. It is the prophet Moroni who points out that 'because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love' (Moro. 8:26).
"With this enlightened understanding of the deadly battlefront inside of us, we are painfully aware that we can only ask for and receive the help of the Lord, as the God of truth, under the condition of complete and relentless self-honesty.
"This war is a war that has to be fought by all of Heavenly Father's children, whether they know about it or not. But without a keen knowledge of the plan of salvation, and without the influence of the divine Light of Christ to bring us awareness, this war is being fought subconsciously, and therefore its battlefronts are not even known to us, and we have no chance to win." (Conference Report, Nov. 1993 Ensign, "Truth is the Issue")
Moroni 8:26 the Holy Ghost...filleth with hope and perfect love
Bruce C. Hafen
"...hope...blesses us with the state of mind we need to deal with the gap between where we are and where we seek to be. It is the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, who fills us with this hope as the remission of our sins makes us lowly of heart and meek enough to receive him. (See Moroni 8:25-26.) I believe this endowment can literally fill our minds in a pure and permanent form with the kind of encouragement and confidence we might find in talking with a close friend who gives us perspective about a difficult problem. We go away from such a conversation with confidence that there is light at the end of our dark tunnels and somehow everything will be all right. That kind of hope can be literally life-sustaining when it is given us by the Savior, for the light at the end of life's darkest tunnels is the Light and the Life of the world." (The Broken Heart, p. 19)
Russell M. Nelson
"Remarkably reassuring for those who encounter grief is the promised visitation of the Holy Ghost-the divine Comforter-who will provide hope and perfect love. And when nourished by prayer, that hope and love will endure until the end, when all saints shall dwell with God. (See Moroni 8:26.)
"These gifts extend to all who truly believe in him, and are granted because of his infinite love for us. His peace comes as we comprehend his grace and act according to his will. It comes from faith founded upon his infinite atonement. To find that hope, that reassurance, and the ability to carry on, the bereaved person will seek to know the Lord and to serve him. It is his atonement that will make our future bright, regardless of the dark days inevitably encountered on life's journey." (The Gateway We Call Death, p. xi)