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Select quotations from Articles of Faith by James Talmage

The following quotes come from the book A Study of the Articles of Faith: Being a Consideration of the Principal Doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints authored by Apostle James E. Talmage. The book features Talmage’s commentary on the 1842 “Articles of Faith” creed penned by LDS founder Joseph Smith. While there are several different versions of this the book, originally published in 1899, this is the 1982 version, going back to 1924. This was an employee gift by the First Presidency in 1984 and again in 2010. To visit the site with all of the books and quotes from these, go here.

Apostasy, Great

“Restoration of the Church—From the facts already stated it is evident that the Church was literally driven from the earth; in the first ten centuries immediately following the ministry of Christ the authority of the Holy Priesthood was lost among men, and no human power could restore it” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 203).

Atonement

The Atonement of Christ is taught as a leading doctrine by all sects professing Christianity. The expression is so common a one, and the essential point of its significance is so generally admitted, that definitions may appear to be superfluous; nevertheless, there is a particular importance attached to the use of the word ‘atonement’ in a theological sense. The doctrine of the atonement comprises proof of the divinity of Christ’s earthly ministry, and the vicarious nature of His death as a foreordained and voluntary sacrifice, intended for and efficacious as a propitiation for the sins of mankind, thus becoming the means whereby salvation may be secured” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 74. Boldface in original).

“The Individual Effect of the Atonement makes it possible for any and every soul to obtain absolution from the effect of personal sins, through the mediation of Christ; but such saving intercession is to be invoked by individual effort as manifested through faith, repentance, and continued works of righteousness” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 89).

Authority

Divine Authority in the Present Dispensation–We claim that the authority to administer in the name of God is operative in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today; and that this power or commission was conferred upon the first offices of the Church by ordination under the hands of those who had held the same power in earlier dispensations. That the authority of the Holy Priesthood was to be taken from the earth as the apostles of old were slain, and that of necessity it would have to be restored from heaven before the Church could be reestablished, may be shown by scripture” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 188-189. Bold in original).

Baptism

“Infant Baptism—The Latter-day Saints are opposed to the practise (sic) of infant baptism, which indeed they believe to be a sacrilege. No one having faith in the word of God can look upon the child as culpably wicked; such an innocent being needs no initiation into the fold, for he has never strayed therefrom; he needs no remission of sins for he has committed no sin; and should he die before he has become contaminated by the sins of earth he will be received without baptism into the paradise of God” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 125).

Baptism Essential to Salvation—Demonstrations concerning the object of baptism apply with equal force to the proposition that baptism is necessary for salvation; for, inasmuch as remission of sins constitutes a special purpose of baptism, and as no soul can be saved in the kingdom of God with unforgiven sins, it is plain that baptism is essential to salvation. Salvation is promised to man on condition of his obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel; and, as the scriptures conclusively prove, baptism is one of the most important of such requirements. Baptism, being commanded of God, must be essential to the purpose for which it is instituted, for God deals not with unnecessary forms. Baptism is required of all who have attained to years of accountability; none are exempt” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 128. Boldface in original).

“Evidence is abundant that the Savior regarded the baptized state as an essential condition of membership in His Church; thus, when instituting the sacrament of bread and wine among the
Nephites He instructed His disciples to administer it unto those only who had been properly baptized” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 132).

Baptism for the Dead

The Labor for the Dead is Twofold—That performed on earth would be incomplete but for its supplement and counterpart beyond the veil. Missionary labor is in progress there, whereby the tidings of the Gospel are carried to the departed spirits, who thus learn of the work done in their behalf on earth. So far as the divine law has been revealed, it requires that the outward ordinances, such as baptism in water, the laying on of hands for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost, and the higher endowments that follow, be attended to on earth, a proper representative in the flesh acting as proxy for the dead. The results of such labors are to be left with the Lord. It is not to be supposed that by these ordinances the departed are in any way compelled to accept the obligation, nor that they are in the least hindered in the exercise of their free agency. They will accept or reject according to their condition of humility or hostility in respect to the Gospel; but the work so done for them on earth will be of avail when wholesome teaching and real penitence have shown them their true position” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 152-153. Boldface in original).

Bible

Our Acceptance of the Bible—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts the Holy Bible as the foremost of her standard works, first among the books which have been proclaimed as her written guides in faith and doctrine. In the respect and sanctity with which the Latter-day Saints regard the Bible they are of like profession with Christian denominations in general, but differ from them in the additional acknowledgment of certain other scriptures as authentic and holy, which others are in harmony with the Bible, and serve to support and emphasize its facts and doctrines” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 236. Boldface in original).

“The New Testament must be accepted for what it claims to be; and though, perhaps, many precious parts have been suppressed or lost, while some corruptions of the texts may have crept in, and errors have been inadvertently introduced through the incapacity of translators, the volume as a whole must be admitted as authentic and credible, and as an essential part of the Holy Scriptures” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 248).

“5. Manuscript Copies of the New Testament—Three manuscripts of the New Testament writings now in existence are regarded as authentic. These are known as the Vatican (now in Rome), the Alexandrian (now in London), and the Sinaitic (placed in the St. Petersburg library). The last named or Sinaitic is considered to be the oldest copy of the New Testament in existence. The manuscript was discovered in 1859 among the archives of a monastery on Mount Sinai, hence its name. It was found by Tischendorf, and was in the imperial library of St. Petersburg, now Petrograd, Russia” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 499-500. Italics in original).

Book of Mormon

The Genuineness of the Book of Mormon will appear as the result of impartial investigation into the circumstances attending its coming forth. The fanciful theories of its origin, advanced by prejudiced opponents, are in general too inconsistent, and in most instances too thoroughly puerile, to merit serious consideration. Assumptions that the Book of Mormon is the production of a single author or of men working in collusion, a work of fiction, or in any manner a modern composition, are their own refutation. The sacred character of the plates forbade their display as a means of gratifying personal curiosity; nevertheless a number of reputable witnesses examined them, and these men have given to the world their solemn testimony of the facts” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 269. Boldface in original).

The Archaeology and Ethnology of the western continent contribute some corroborative evidence in support of the Book of Mormon. These sciences are confessedly unable to explain in any decisive manner the origin of the native American races; nevertheless, investigation in this field has yielded results that are fairly definite, and with the most important of thee the Book of Mormon account in general accord. . . . Among the most significant discoveries respecting the aboriginal inhabitants, are the following:

  1. That America was peopled in very ancient times, probably soon after the building of the Tower of Babel.
  2. That the continent has been successively occupied by different peoples, at least by two classes, or so-called races, at widely separated periods.
  3. That the aboriginal inhabitants came from the East, probably from Asia, and that the later occupants, or those of the second period, were closely allied to, if not identical with, the Israelites.
  4. That the existing native races of America form a common stock” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 283. Boldface in original).

“The Mexicans recognize a Deity in Quetzalcoatl, the traditional account of whose life and death is closely akin to our history of the Christ, so that, says President John Taylor, ‘we can come to no other conclusion than that Quetzalcoatl and Christ are the same being” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 289).

Celestial Kingdom

The Celestial Kingdom–There are some who have striven to obey all the divine commandments, who have accepted the testimony of Christ, obeyed ‘the laws and ordinances of the Gospel,’ and received the Holy Spirit; these are they who have overcome evil by godly works and who are therefore entitled to the highest glory; these belong to the Church of the Firstborn, unto whom the Father has given all things; they are made kings and priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek; they possess celestial bodies, ‘whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical’; they are admitted to the glorified company, crowned with exaltation in the celestial kingdom” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 91-92. Italics in original).

Children

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches as a doctrine founded on reason, justice, and scripture, that all children are innocent in the sight of God, and that, until they reach an age of personal responsibility, baptism is neither requisite nor proper in their behalf; that, in short, they are saved through the atonement of Christ. . . . Children who die before reaching the state of accountability for their acts are innocent in the eyes of God, even though they be the offspring of transgressors” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 87-88).

“By revelation the Lord had designated eight years as the age at which children may be properly baptized into the Church; and parents are required to prepare their children for the ordinances of the Church by teaching them the doctrines of faith, repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Failure in this requirement is accounted by the Lord as a sin resting upon the heads of the parents” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 125).

Creation

“The scriptures plainly and repeatedly affirm that God is the Creator of the earth and the heavens and all things that in them are. In the sense so expressed, the Creator is an Organizer. God created the earth as an organized sphere; but He certainly did not create, in the sense of bringing into primal existence, the ultimate elements of the materials of which the earth consists, for ‘the elements are eternal’” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 466).

Eternal Progression

“It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement within each of the three specified kingdoms will be provided for; though as to possible progress from one kingdom to another the scriptures make no positive affirmation” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 409).

Exaltation

Salvation and Exaltation–Some degree of salvation will come to all who have not forfeited their right to it; exaltation is given to those only who by righteous effort have won a claim to God’s merciful liberality by which it is bestowed” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 91. Boldface in original).

Familiar Spirit

“The bringing forth of the Book of Mormon is held by the Latter-day Saints to be a direct fulfilment of prophecy. In predicting the humiliation of Israel, to whom had been committed the power of the Priesthood in early days, Isaiah gave voice to the word of the Lord in this wise: ‘And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.’ The Book of Mormon is verily the voice of a people brought low, speaking from the dust, for from the earth the book was literally taken” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 20).

Foreordination

Foreordination Does Not Imply Compulsion–The doctrine of absolute predestination, resulting in a nullification of man’s free agency, has been advocated with various modifications by different sects. Nevertheless, such teachings are wholly unjustified by both the letter and the spirit of sacred writ. God’s foreknowledge concerning the natures and capacities of His children enables Him to see the end of their earthly career even from the first: ‘Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.’ Many people have been led to regard this foreknowledge of God as a predestination whereby souls are designated for glory or condemnation even before their birth in the flesh, and irrespective of individual merit or demerit. This heretical doctrine seeks to rob Deity of mercy, justice, and love; it would make God appear capricious and selfish, directing and creating all things solely for His own glory, caring not for the suffering of His victims. How dreadful, how inconsistent is such an idea of God! It leads to the absurd conclusion that the mere knowledge of coming events must act as a determining influence in bringing about those occurrences. God’s knowledge of spiritual and of human nature enables Him to conclude with certainty as to the actions of any of His children under given conditions; yet that knowledge is not of compelling force upon the creature” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 191. Boldface in original).

Forgiveness

“The first step toward the blessed state of forgiveness consists in the sinner confessing his sins; the second, in his forgiving others who have sinned against him; and the third in his showing his acceptance of Christ’s atoning sacrifice by complying with the divine requirements” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 109).

God

“We affirm that to deny the materiality of God’s person is to deny God; for a thing without parts has no whole, and an immaterial body cannot exist. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims against the incomprehensible God, devoid of ‘body, parts, or passions,’ as a thing impossible of existence, and asserts its belief in and allegiance to the true and living God of scripture and revelation” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 48).

“We believe in a God who is Himself progressive, whose majesty is intelligence; whose perfection consists in eternal advancement; the perpetual work of whose creation stands ‘finished, yet renewed forever;’—a Being who has attained His exalted state by a path which now His children are permitted to follow; whose glory it is their heritage to share. In spite of the opposition of all other sects, in the face of direct charges of blasphemy, the Church proclaims the eternal truth, ‘As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become’” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 430).

Hell

“The false doctrine that the punishment to be visited upon erring souls is endless, that every sentence for sin is of interminable duration, must be regarded as one of the most pernicious results of misapprehension of scripture. It is but a dogma of unauthorized and erring sectaries, at once unscriptural, unreasonable, and revolting to one who loves mercy and honors justice. True, the scriptures speak of everlasting burnings, eternal damnation, and the vengeance of eternal fire, as characteristics of the judgment provided for the wicked; yet in no instance is there justification for the inference that the individual sinner will have to suffer the wrath of offended justice forever and ever” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 61).

“Among the pernicious dogmas taught by a perverted and miscalled Christianity, is the heinous doctrine that never-ending punishment or interminable bliss, unchanging in kind or degree, shall be the destiny of every soul,–the award being made according to the condition of that soul at the time of bodily death; a life of sin being thus nullified by a death-bed repentance, and a life of honor, if unmarked by the ceremonies of established sects, being followed by the tortures of hell without a possibility of relief. Such a dogma is to be ranked with the dread heresy which proclaims the condemnation of innocent babes who have not been sprinkled by man’s assumed authority” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 80).

Idolatry

“Joseph Smith, the first prophet of the current dispensation, while reproving certain of his brethren for intolerance toward the cherished beliefs of other men, taught that even idolaters ought to be protected in their worship; that, while it would be the strict duty of any Christian to direct his efforts toward enlightening such benighted minds, he would not be justified in forcibly depriving the heathen of their liberty in worship. In the sight of God, idolatry is most heinous: yet He is tolerant of those who, knowing Him not, yield to their inherited instinct for worship by rendering homage even to stocks and stones. Deadly as is the sin of idolatrous worship on the part of him to whom light has come, it may represent in the savage the sincerest reverence of which he is capable. The voice of the Lord has declared that the heathen who have known no law shall have part in the first resurrection” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 403-404).

Justification

“The Sectarian Dogma of Justification by Faith Alone has exercised an influence for evil” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 1984, p. 480).

Man

“But ‘Mormonism’ is bolder yet. It asserts that in accordance with the inviolable law of organic nature-that like shall beget like, and that multiplication of numbers and perpetuation of species shall be in compliance with the condition ‘each after his kind,’ the child may achieve the former status of the parent, and that in his mortal condition man is a God in embryo” (James E. Talmage,
Articles of Faith, p. 530).

Millennium, The

“The Latter-day Saints believe that during the millennial era they will be privileged to continue the vicarious work for the dead, which constitutes so important and so characteristic a feature of their duty, and that the facilities for direct communication with the heavens will enable them to carry on their labor of love without hindrance. When the thousand years are passed Satan will again be permitted to assert his power, and those who are not then numbered among the pure in heart will yield to his influence. But the liberty thus recovered by ‘the prince of the power of the air’ will be of short duration; his final doom will speedily follow, and with him will go to the punishment that is everlasting, all who are his. Then the earth will pass to its celestial condition and become a fit abode for the glorified sons and daughters of our God” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 371).

Nephites, Three

“Prophecies of and Conditions to Attend the Lord’s Coming. . . The Three Nephites to remain in the flesh until the Lord shall come in his glory with the powers of heaven—3 Nephi 28:7” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 1984, pp. 361. Ellipsis mine).

Obedience

“No human being who has attained years of accountability in the flesh, may hope for salvation in the kingdom of God until he has rendered obedience to the requirements of Christ, the Redeemer of the world. But while thus decisive, ‘Mormonism’ is not exclusive. It does not claim that all who have failed to accept and obey the gospel of eternal life shall be eternally and forever damned” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 523).

Plates of Gold

“On the occasion of his first visit to Joseph Smith, Moroni told of the existence of the record, which, he said, was engraved on plates of gold, at that time lying buried in the side of a hill near Joseph’s home. The hill, which was known by one division of the ancient peoples as Cumorah, by another as Ramah, is situated near Palmyra in the State of New York. The precise spot where the plates lay was shown to Joseph in vision; and he had no difficulty in finding it on the day following the visitation referred to” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith,  pp. 255-256).

The Plates of the Book of Mormon as delivered by the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith, according to the description given by the latter-day prophet, were, as far as he knew, of gold, of uniform size, each about seven inches wide by eight inches long, and in thickness a little less than that of ordinary sheet tin. They were fastened together by three rings running through the plates near one edge; together they formed a book nearly six inches in thickness, but not all has been translated, a part having been sealed. Both sides of the plates were engraved with small characters, described by those who examined them as of curious workmanship, with the appearance of ancient origin” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 262-263. Boldface in original).

Repentance

“No soul is justified in postponing his efforts to repent because of this assurance of longsuffering and mercy. We know knot fully on what terms repentance will be obtainable in the hereafter; but to suppose that the soul who has wilfully rejected the opportunity of repentance in this life will find it easy to repent there is contrary to reason. To procrastinate the day of repentance is to deliberately place ourselves in the power of the adversary” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 115).

Resurrection

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches the doctrine of a literal resurrection; an actual reunion of the spirits of the dead and the tabernacles with which they were clothed during mortal probation; and transition from mortality to immortality in the case of some who will be in the flesh at the time of the Lord’s advent, and who, because of individual righteousness, are to be spared the sleep of the grave” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 381).

Sacrament

“There is an absence of scriptural sanction for giving the sacrament to any who are not members in full fellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ. Christ administered the ordinance on the eastern continent to the apostles; and we have record of their giving it to those only who had assumed the name of Christ. Amongst His western fold, Christ established the law that only the actual members of His Church should partake” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 174).

“The sacrament has not been established as a specific means of securing remission of sins; nor for any other special blessing aside from that of a continuing endowment of the Holy Spirit, which, however, comprises all needful blessings. Were the sacrament ordained specifically for the remission of sins, it would not be forbidden to those who are in greatest need of forgiveness; yet participation in the ordinance is restricted to those whose consciences are void of serious offense, those, therefore, who are acceptable before the Lord, those indeed who are in as little need of special forgiveness as mortals can be” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, 1984, p. 175).

Salvation

“This twofold effect of the atonement is implied in the article of our faith now under consideration. The first effect is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins. As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements—‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 1984, p. 87. Italics in original).

“Yet in spite of the plain word of God, dogmas of men have been promulgated to the effect that by faith alone may salvation be attained, and that a wordy profession of belief shall open the doors of heaven to the sinner” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 1984, p. 108).

Standard Works

The Standard Works of the Church constitute the written authority of the Church in doctrine. Nevertheless, the Church holds itself in readiness to receive additional light and knowledge ‘pertaining to the Kingdom of God’ through divine revelation. We believe that God is as willing today as He ever has been to reveal His mind and will to man, and that He does so through His appointed servants–prophets, seers, and revelators–invested through ordination with the authority of the Holy Priesthood. We rely therefore on the teachings of the living oracles of God as of equal validity with the doctrines of the written word” (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 7. Boldface in original).

Trinity

The Godhead: The Trinity—Three personages composing the great presiding council of the universe have revealed themselves to man: (1) God the Eternal Father; (2) His Son, Jesus Christ; and (3) the Holy Ghost. That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 39. Boldface in original)

Zion

“Later revelations directed the elders of the Church to assemble in western Missouri, and designated that place as the land appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints: ‘Wherefore, his is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.’ The town of Independence was named as ‘the center place,’ and the site for the Temple was designated, the saints being counseled to purchase land there, ‘that they may obtain it for an everlasting inheritance.’ On August 3, 1831, the temple-site thus named was dedicated by the prophet, Joseph Smith, and his associates in the Priesthood. The region round about was also dedicated that it might be a gathering place for the people of God” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 1984, pp. 352-353).

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