Like chiasmus in the ancient world, chiasmus in the modern world is not limited to the sacred writings of prophets. Just as chiasmus was used by Greek and Roman writers, it appears in the writings of Shakespeare, Milton, García Márquez, and others. Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Christmas Sermon” features several chiasms.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was a Scottish poet, novelist, and essayist. His enduring fame is due primarily to his books Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the winter of 1887 he wrote “A Christmas Sermon” at Lake Sarnac, New York “while he convalesced from a lung ailment.” The essay was published in the December 1888 issue of Scribner’s Magazine, an American literary journal.
“A Christmas Sermon” is as much a funeral sermon (end of life) as it is a Christmas sermon (end of year). It reflects on man’s misdirected ambition, self-criticism, and judgement of others. In an effort to redirect man’s ambition it encourages a focus on life’s true endeavor—that of being honest, kind, and patient—and of adopting a modest and reasonable view of one’s self.
This article presents diagrams and detailed analyses of four chiasms from “A Christmas Sermon,” which feature equivalent, contrasting, and complementary pairs. For an in-depth explanation of our methodology read our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.
[Note: Thanks to Professor Richard Dury at RLS Website for his assistance in locating “A Christmas Sermon” in Scribner’s Magazine.]
Diagram and Analysis:
#1: This chiasm encourages us to develop a modest and reasonable attitude about our moral progress.
A: The idealism of serious people in this age of ours is of a noble character. It never seems to them that they have served enough; they have a fine impatience of their virtues. B: It were perhaps more modest to be singly thankful that we are no worse. C: It is not only our enemies, those desperate characters C: —it is we ourselves who know not what we do;— B: thence springs the glimmering hope that perhaps we do better than we think: that to scramble through this random business with hands reasonably clean, to have played the part of a man or woman with some reasonable fulness, to have often resisted the diabolic, and at the end to be still resisting it, is for the poor human soldier to have done right well. A: To ask to see some fruit of our endeavour is but a transcendental way of serving for reward; and what we take to be contempt of self is only greed of hire.
A=A: “It never seems to them that they have served enough” complements “To ask to see some fruit of our endeavour is but a transcendental way of serving for reward.” A result of the “idealism of serious people in this age of ours” is too much focus on the “fruit of our endeavor” and a “contempt of self” from not having “served enough.” Stevenson equates these with “serving for reward” and the “greed of hire.”
B=B: “It were perhaps more modest to be singly thankful that we are no worse” complements “thence springs the glimmering hope that perhaps we do better than we think.” Stevenson suggests a “more modest” or “reasonable” approach, wherein if we are “thankful that we are no worse” we will develop the “glimmering hope that perhaps we do better than we think.”
C=C: “It is not only our enemies” equals “it is we ourselves.” The central focus of this chiasm suggests that we are oftentimes our own worst enemies. Recognizing this can lead us to the “glimmering hope” described above..
#2: This chiasm invites us to redirect our ambition away from the grand and toward life’s true endeavor, that of being kind, honest, and patient.
A: It may be argued again that dissatisfaction with our life’s endeavour springs in some degree from dulness. B: We require higher tasks, because we do not recognise the height of those we have. C: Trying to be kind and honest D: seems an affair too simple and too inconsequential for gentlemen of our heroic mould; E: we had rather set ourselves to something bold, arduous, and conclusive; E: we had rather found a schism or suppress a heresy, cut off a hand or mortify an appetite. D: But the task before us, which is to co–endure with our existence, is rather one of microscopic fineness, and the heroism required is that of patience. There is no cutting of the Gordian knots of life; each must be smilingly unravelled. C: To be honest, to be kind—to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered, to keep a few friends but these without capitulation—above all, on the same grim condition, to keep friends with himself— B: here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy. A: He has an ambitious soul who would ask more;
A=A: “[D]issatisfaction with our life’s endeavour springs in some degree from dulness” contrasts with “He has an ambitious soul who would ask more.” Man’s “dissatisfaction with our life’s endeavor” is the result of misdirected ambition.
B=B: “We require higher tasks, because we do not recognise the height of those we have” complements “here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy.” Repeating the same idea as in A=A, man’s requirement for “higher tasks” is the result of misdirected ambition, of not recognizing “the height of those we have.”
C=C: “Trying to be kind and honest” equals “To be honest, to be kind.” Here Stevenson reveals life’s true endeavor, that of being “kind and honest.” In the second half, he defines this term: “to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered, to keep a few friends but these without capitulation—above all, on the same grim condition, to keep friends with himself.”
D=D: “[S]eems an affair too simple and too inconsequential for gentlemen of our heroic mould” contrasts with “But the task before us … is rather one of microscopic fineness, and the heroism required is that of patience.” Stevenson provides the necessary redirection to help us understand that, although seemingly “too simple and too inconsequential,” the heroic “task before us” is micro, not macro. “Patience” and self-control are the required attributes that must be developed.
E=E: “[W]e had rather set ourselves to something bold, arduous, and conclusive” equals “we had rather found a schism or suppress a heresy, cut off a hand or mortify an appetite.” The central focus of this chiasm is man’s ambitious vanity that overlooks the true heroic quest in life, that of being “kind and honest.” However, as suggested above, man’s ambition can and must be redirected and turned into a positive force.
#3: This chiasm acknowledges that we will never fully succeed at being kind, honest, and patient.
A: he has a hopeful spirit who should look in such an enterprise to be successful. B: There is indeed one element in human destiny that not blindness itself can controvert: C: whatever else we are intended to do, we are not intended to succeed; C: failure is the fate allotted. It is so in every art and study; it is so above all in the continent art of living well. B: Here is a pleasant thought for the year’s end or for the end of life: Only self–deception will be satisfied, A: and there need be no despair for the despairer.
A=A: “[H]e has a hopeful spirit who should look in such an enterprise to be successful” contrasts with “there need be no despair for the despairer.” Paradoxically, life’s endeavor requires neither a hopeful nor a despairing spirit.
B=B: “There is indeed one element in human destiny that not blindness itself can controvert” complements “Only self–deception will be satisfied.” Despite “blindness” and “self-deception,” there is no way around this “one element in human destiny,” the need to become kind and honest.
C=C: “[W]e are not intended to succeed” equals “failure is the fate allotted.” The central focus of this chiasm reveals that we are “not intended to succeed” in being kind and honest. Recognizing and accepting this will help us avoid the disappointments of having a hopeful spirit and the limitations of a becoming a despairer. Only a reasonable approach will do.
#4: This chiasm celebrates the joyous effect of Christmas and discusses the eternal importance of developing a childlike character of gentleness and cheerfulness.
A: But Christmas is not only the mile–mark of another year, moving us to thoughts of self–examination: it is a season, from all its associations, whether domestic or religious, suggesting thoughts of joy. B: A man dissatisfied with his endeavours is a man tempted to sadness. And in the midst of the winter, when his life runs lowest and he is reminded of the empty chairs of his beloved, it is well he should be condemned to this fashion of the smiling face. C: Noble disappointment, noble self–denial are not to be admired, not even to be pardoned, if they bring bitterness. D: It is one thing to enter the kingdom of heaven maim; another to maim yourself and stay without. D: And the kingdom of heaven is of the childlike, of those who are easy to please, who love and who give pleasure. C: Mighty men of their hands, the smiters and the builders and the judges, have lived long and done sternly and yet preserved this lovely character; and among our carpet interests and twopenny concerns, the shame were indelible if we should lose it. B: Gentleness and cheerfulness, these come before all morality; they are the perfect duties. And it is the trouble with moral men that they have neither one nor other. A: It was the moral man, the Pharisee, whom Christ could not away with. If your morals make you dreary, depend upon it they are wrong. I do not say “give them up,” for they may be all you have; but conceal them like a vice, lest they should spoil the lives of better and simpler people.
A=A: “Christmas … is a season … suggesting thoughts of joy” complements “If your morals make you dreary … conceal them like a vice, lest they should spoil the lives of better and simpler people.” Christmas is a season of “self-examination” and “joy,” not of “dreary” judgemental attitudes and behavior. To avoid spoiling the lives and holidays of “better and simpler people,” we should “conceal” our downer mindsets “like a vice.”
B=B: “[I]t is well he should be condemned to this fashion of the smiling face” equates “Gentleness and cheerfulness, these come before all morality; they are the perfect duties.” If the dreariness of winter tempts us “to sadness,” Christmas helps us to put on a “smiling face.” The “gentleness and cheerfulness” that Christmas invites are the “perfect duties” and supercedes the gloom of criticism.
C=C: “Noble disappointment, noble self–denial are not to be admired, not even to be pardoned, if they bring bitterness” contrasts with “Mighty men of their hands, the smiters and the builders and the judges, have lived long and done sternly and yet preserved this lovely character.” It is possible to be “mighty” and accomplished and yet preserve “this lovely character” of gentleness and cheerfulness. A moral philosophy that brings “bitterness” should not be “admired” nor “pardoned.”
D=D: “It is one thing to enter the kingdom of heaven maim; another to maim yourself and stay without” contrasts “the kingdom of heaven is of the childlike, of those who are easy to please, who love and who give pleasure.” The central focus of this chiasm is the childlike attributes that are necessary for us to develop in order to “enter the kingdom of heaven.” These include being “easy to please” and loving to “give pleasure.” In contrast, if we adopt dreary and critical attitudes we will “maim” ourselves and prevent our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Robert Louis Stevenson uses chiasmus in “A Christmas Sermon” to divide his text into mini-sermons, drawing our attention to specific passages and inviting us to ponder his words. As we do so, we will more likely reflect upon our own lives and apply his message to a greater or lesser extent. Perhaps we will begin to see ourselves in a more modest light. Perhaps we will begin to redirect our ambitions to being more kind, honest, and patient. Perhaps we will learn to be less discouraged at our apparent lack of progress in life’s true endeavor. Perhaps we will begin developing greater gentleness and cheerfulness, especially at Christmas time. “A Christmas Sermon” serves as a case study in the function of chiasmus to guide a reader’s attention and thoughts.
Quentin L. Cook has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since October 2007. Prior to this, he served as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy beginning in 1998. He has also served as a bishop, stake president, regional representative, Area Authority, and member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. For his professional career, he worked as an attorney and healthcare executive in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Like the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Cook has had a Facebook account since 2013 “to provide people a safe and official way to follow the ministry of the Brethren.” Elder Cook regularly posts inspirational thoughts and snapshots from his world-wide ministry.
On December 1, 2016, Elder Cook posted a brief report about a recent visit to the Philippines. Chiasmus in his post emphasizes that the Saints’ love for and commitment to the Savior is the secret to their happiness and the cause of the Church’s impressive growth in the Philippines over the past 20 years.
A: As a newly called General Authority of the Church in 1996, my first assignment was with members in the Philippines. I have returned several times since, but this recent visit to the country marks 20 years since my first assignment. I was pleased to see how the Church has grown there and witness how the gospel of Jesus Christ is changing lives. B: In the last 20 years, the number of members of the Church in the country has nearly doubled. We are certainly pleased with the growth—but not surprised. I have always been impressed by the positive attitudes of those in the Philippines. It is a land of beautiful smiles, and the people there are some of the happiest people you will find anywhere. C: I believe they are so happy because they have a sincere love of the Savior. C: You can really feel a warmth from the people. Their commitment to modesty, kindness, and other Christlike virtues is apparent. B: Because of their love for the gospel of Jesus Christ, where there once were branches 20 years ago, there are now stakes. The Primary children from 20 years ago are now returned missionaries, and the returned missionaries are now Church leaders. Their lives serve as a testament to me that the gospel of Jesus Christ lifts us out of life’s challenges. It empowers us to have joy in spite of difficult circumstances. A: I pray we will all follow the examples I saw from the members of the Church in the Philippines to make the Savior and His Atonement the foundation of our lives. When we do so, He will help and heal us.
A=A: “[M]embers in the Philippines” equals “members of the Church in the Philippines” and “the gospel of Jesus Christ is changing lives” equals “He will help and heal us.” This chiasm describes members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines, and serves as an example of how the “gospel of Jesus Christ [changes] lives.” This change comes about as Church members “make the Savior and His Atonement the foundation of their lives.” As they do so, Christ “help[s] and heal[s]” them.
B=B: “In the last 20 years, the number of members of the Church in the country has nearly doubled” equals “where there once were branches 20 years ago, there are now stakes” and “some of the happiest people you will find anywhere” complements “joy in spite of difficult circumstances.” The LDS Church has seen impressive growth in the Philippines over the past 20 years “[b]ecause of their love for the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Although they experience “life’s challenges,” the Gospel of Jesus Christ has lifted and empowered them to “have joy in spite of [their] difficult circumstances.” As a result, they are “some of the happiest people you will find anywhere.”
C=C: “[T]hey have a sincere love of the Savior” complements “[t]heir commitment to modesty, kindness, and other Christlike virtues is apparent.” The central focus of this chiasm emphasizes their “sincere love of the Savior” that is manifested through their “commitment to modesty, kindness, and other Christlike virtues.” This commitment enables their happiness and is the root cause of the impressive growth of the Church in the Philippines.
As with our previous articles on chiasmus in the Facebook posts of the Apostles, this post by Elder Cook reminds us to slow down and ponder the words of the prophets even though they may appear in ordinary places. By following the example of the Saints in the Philippines, we can find happiness and strengthen our wards and stakes by centering our lives on “the Savior and His Atonement.”
Bruce R. McConkie served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from October 1972 until his death in April 1985. Prior to this, he served in the First Council of the Seventy beginning in October 1946. Professionally, Elder McConkie practiced law and worked on a newspaper editorial staff. During World War II, he served as an army intelligence officer.
Elder McConkie is remembered for his prolific writing and extensive doctrinal knowledge. His books, Mormon Doctrine, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (3 volumes), The Messiah Series (6 volumes), and A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, are classics in Mormon theology.
Elder McConkie is also remembered for his final public testimony of Jesus Christ given in General Conference on April 6, 1985, thirteen days before his death. He explained how he gained his own witness of Christ, described the events of the Lord’s atonement in vivid detail, invited church members to put forth the effort to gain their own witness, and closed with a powerful testimony. This final address, titled “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” is chiastic, featuring both chiasms and parallelisms throughout. This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of his concluding testimony (the best-remembered portion of his final address), followed by a less-detailed treatment of eight additional chiasms and parallelisms.
A: And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God— B: I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, C: and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. D: This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses, E: and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet E: and shall wet his feet with my tears. D: But I shall not know any better then than I know now C: that he is God’s Almighty Son, B: that he is our Savior and Redeemer, A: and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.
A=A: “[P]erfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God” equals “his atoning blood.” The shedding of Christ’s blood was an essential component of his “perfect atonement,” by which salvation is made possible for all mankind.
B=B: “Gethsemane and at Golgotha” complements “Savior and Redeemer.” Christ shed his blood at both Gethsemane and Golgotha in order to become our Savior and Redeemer. By overcoming spiritual and physical death he made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins, be resurrected, and become like our Heavenly Parents and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.
C=C: “Son of the Living God” equals “God’s Almighty Son.” Christ is the Son of God.
D=D: “I know of myself independent of any other person” complements “I shall not know any better then than I know now.” Through personal revelation, Elder McConkie is a primary source for the events of the atonement. This sure knowledge would not increase “in a coming day” when he would personally meet Christ in the spirit world and “feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet” and “wet his feet with [his] tears.” As mentioned in the introduction, Elder McConkie’s death occurred thirteen days after giving this talk, on April 19, 1985.
E=E: “I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet” complements “shall wet his feet with my tears.” Although this personal meeting with Christ would not increase his witness of Christ and the events of the atonement, the emotions of the moment would cause him to weep with gratitude for the blessings of the atonement extended on his behalf. (For similar events in the scriptures, see Luke 7:37-38 and 3 Nephi 17:10.)
Additional Chiasms and Parallelisms:
#1: This chiasm describes the process whereby Elder McConkie developed his own witness of the atonement of Christ. As he studied the words of the prophets, “the Holy Spirit of God” testified to him “that they are true.” As a result of this divine witness, whereby he “heard his voice and know[s] his word,” Elder McConkie possessed his own independent knowledge of the atonement of Christ. As a witness of Christ, his teachings about the atonement become the voice of the Lord to us in our efforts to qualify for our own witness.
A: In speaking of these wondrous things B: I shall use my own words, C: though you may think they are the words of scripture, words spoken by other Apostles and prophets. C: True it is they were first proclaimed by others, B: but they are now mine, for the Holy Spirit of God has borne witness to me that they are true, and it is now as though the Lord had revealed them to me in the first instance. A: I have thereby heard his voice and know his word.
#2: This parallelism details six key aspects of the atonement. The first two proclaim it to be the pinnacle event or act in all of eternity. The final four describe the glorious blessings that have come as a result of the atonement.
A: His atonement B: is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity. A: It B: is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform. A: Through it, B: all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation became operative. A: Through it B: are brought to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. A: Through it, B: all men are saved from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment. A: And through it, B: all who believe and obey the glorious gospel of God, all who are true and faithful and overcome the world, all who suffer for Christ and his word, all who are chastened and scourged in the Cause of him whose we are—all shall become as their Maker and sit with him on his throne and reign with him forever in everlasting glory.
#3 This parallelism details what we know and what we don’t know about Christ’s sufferings while he was accomplishing the atonement.
A: We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive B: the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. A: We know B: he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. A: We know B: he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death. A: We know B: that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name. A: We know B: that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup. A: We know B: that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal, and we suppose it was mighty Michael, who foremost fell that mortal man might be. A: As near as we can judge, B: these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours.
#4: This chiasm describes the mockery inflicted upon Christ by the leaders of the Jews and Romans following his arrest. With their worldly authority Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod mocked Christ’s divine and rightful authority by placing a “crown of thorns” upon “his trembling brow.” With their saliva they mocked his holy face, which is only revealed to his special witnesses in our day. With “vicious blows” they mocked his sacred body that was part mortal and part immortal, and which was his vehicle for overcoming spiritual and physical death on our behalf.
A: They took him to Annas, to Caiaphas, to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate. He was accused, cursed, and smitten. B: Their foul saliva ran down his face C: as vicious blows further weakened his pain-engulfed body. C: With reeds of wrath they rained blows upon his back. B: Blood ran down his face A: as a crown of thorns pierced his trembling brow.
#5: This chiasm describes the agony Christ experienced as he “carried his own cross” toward the “hill called Calvary.” As a result of the physical and spiritual torture he had experienced over the previous twelve hours, Christ “collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all.” Insightfully, Elder McConkie describes how the “helpless disciples” of Christ “looked on” as he was nailed to the cross and experienced a similar agony “in their own bodies.” Perhaps this experience prepared them to carry their own crosses as they worked to spread the Gospel throughout the ancient world.
A: Then he carried his own cross B: until he collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all. C: Finally, on a hill called Calvary— C: again, it was outside Jerusalem’s walls— B: while helpless disciples looked on and felt the agonies of near death in their own bodies, A: the Roman soldiers laid him upon the cross.
#6: These two parallelisms describe the essential roles of Adam and Christ in our eternal development. By bringing death into the world, Adam is the “father of mortality.” By bringing life into the world, Christ is the “father of immortality.” Without the Fall, mankind could not experience “mortality and death.” Without the Atonement, mankind could not experience “immortality and eternal life.”
A: As Adam brought death, B: so Christ brought life; A: as Adam is the father of mortality, B: so Christ is the father of immortality. A: Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; B: and by Christ came immortality and eternal life. A: If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death, B:there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life.
#7: This parallelism describes the process of moving from having “a superficial knowledge” to possessing “a sound and sure knowledge” of the Atonement. We must “cast aside the philosophies of men” that encourage us to have only a passive reliance upon the Lord. We must cast aside “the wisdom of the wise” who only believe what they can see. Instead, we must seek to have “faith like Enoch and Elijah.” In order to “believe what [Enoch and Elijah] believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived,” we must “hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.” In other words, we need to develop our spiritual capacities and sensitivities, so that we can confidently act on revelation and see the hand of God in our lives.
A: Many of us have a superficial knowledge B: and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. C: But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah D: we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived. A: May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement. B: We must cast aside the philosophies of men C: and the wisdom of the wise D: and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.
#8: Continuing in this process of “gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement,” this parallelism focuses on the role of scripture study. Elder McConkie invites us to “search the scriptures,” which means we must “read” them, “ponder” their contents, and “pray” for spiritual insight and confirmation. By accepting the scriptures as “the mind and will and voice of the Lord,” “our minds” will be open to divine instruction and testimony about what happened in the “three gardens of God” — the Garden of Eden, where spiritual and physical death were introduced into the world; the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ overcame spiritual death; and the Garden of the Empty Tomb, where Christ overcame physical death. These events are “the very power of God unto salvation.” Hence, the scriptures that teach and testify of these events are also the power of God unto salvation, since they help us develop faith in Christ.
A: We must search the scriptures, B: accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord C: and the very power of God unto salvation. A: As we read, ponder, and pray, B: there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God— C: the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.
Chiasmus in Bruce R. McConkie’s final public testimony, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” emphasizes and clarifies different aspects of his message. First, it details the process of how he gained his own witness of the atonement of Jesus Christ and how we can gain our own. Second, it brings to light unique aspects of his witness, suggesting that each person’s witness may be unique in certain details while agreeing in essentials (for an example of this in the scriptures, see 1 Nephi 15:27). Lastly, it demonstrates the strong witness of Christ that we can each possess if we put forth the required effort, as did Elder McConkie.
The Salt Lake Temple, built of gray granite and featuring six spires, is an internationally recognized symbol of the Mormon faith. Brigham Young announced plans to construct the temple on July 28, 1847, shortly after the first Latter-day Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Construction began in 1853, with a groundbreaking ceremony on February 14th and a cornerstone laying ceremony on April 6th. Forty years later, after much toil, sacrifice and opposition, the temple was complete. On April 6, 1893 the temple was dedicated by Wilford Woodruff at the conclusion of the Church’s multi-day General Conference.
A description of that morning’s weather offers insight into the great spiritual significance with which the Latter-day Saints viewed the dedicatory services:
“When the sixth of April, 1893, was ushered in, the sky was overcast with lowering clouds, through which there were occasional glimpses of sunshine. A strong breeze from the northwest gradually increased in violence until by ten o’clock the wind was blowing a perfect hurricane. From that hour until noon it seemed as if the ‘prince of the power of the air’ was giving vent to his fiercest wrath. Then there was a slight fall of rain and snow, and the wind softened to a gentle breeze. But the atmospheric disturbance did not deter any who were privileged to attend the opening dedication service” (The Contributor, 292).
President Woodruff, in his journal entry for the day, documented the joy and spiritual outpouring that accompanied the dedication of the temple:
“The dedication of the Temple Commenced at 10 oclock [sic]. Near 3,000 Assembled at the upper room. I attended the Dedication of the Temple. The spirit & Power of God rested upon us. The spirit of Prophesy [sic] & Revelation was upon us & the Hearts of the People were Melted and many thing wer [sic] unfolded to us. We Met in the Afternoon at 2 oclk [sic] & we had a glorious time. W Woodruff & G Q Cannon & J F Smith occupied most of the time. W Woodruff offered up the prayer in the forenoon & G Q Cannon in the Afternoon” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9:246).
The joy the Latter-day Saints felt at the completion and dedication of the Salt Lake Temple is due, in part, to their conviction that they were fulfilling prophecy:
“Ages agone, in far-off Judea, the Prophet Micah predicted that ‘in the last days’ the mountain of the house of the Lord should be ‘established in the top of the mountains,’ and be ‘exalted above the hills.” Forty-four years ago, the Prophet Brigham, standing on a desert spot in a mountain valley, where all around seemed hopeless desolation, declared, ‘Here will be the Temple of our God!’ Today, the thousands of dwellers in these mountain vales are witnesses to the fulfillment of the ancient and modern prophecy” (The Contributor, 243).
The Salt Lake Temple dedicatory prayer was written by Wilford Woodruff with some input from George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, his counsellors in the First Presidency. In his journal entry for March 17, 1893, President Woodruff wrote, “We read over the Dedicatory Prayer and made some Aditions [sic] to it.” On the following day President Woodruff “wrote some addition to the Prayer” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9:244). The dedicatory prayer is chiastic, featuring chiasms and parallelisms throughout that shed light on different aspects and purposes of the temple. Chiasms in the dedicatory prayer are predominantly complementary, with the full meaning obtained by integrating the meanings of comparable statements. Complementary chiastic comparisons may be less apparent than equivalent or contrasting comparisons. (For further information on types of chiasms see our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.)
This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of one particular chiasm that focuses on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Afterward, diagrams of several additional chiasms and parallelisms are presented, but are given a less-detailed treatment.
[Note: For an excellent history of the construction and dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, read the April 1893 issue of The Contributor (a Church magazine from that time) that has been referenced in this introduction.]
Diagram and Analysis:
A: O Lord, we regard with intense and indescribable feelings the completion of this sacred house. B: Deign to accept this the fourth temple which Thy covenant children have been assisted by Thee in erecting in these mountains. C: In past ages Thou didst inspire with Thy Holy Spirit Thy servants, the prophets, to speak of the time in the latter days when D: the mountain of the Lord’s house should be established in the tops of the mountains, D: and should be exalted above the hills. C: We thank Thee that we have had the glorious opportunity of contributing to the fulfillment of these visions of Thine ancient seers, B: and that Thou hast condescended to permit us to take part in the great work. A: And as this portion of Thy servants’ words has thus so marvelously been brought to pass, we pray Thee, with increased faith and renewed hope, that all their words with regard to Thy great work in gathering Thine Israel and building up Thy kingdom on earth in the last days may be as amply fulfilled, and that, O Lord, speedily.
A=A: “[T]he completion of this sacred house” complements “this portion of Thy servants’ words has thus so marvelously been brought to pass.” The completion of the Salt Lake Temple is the fulfillment of prophecy. Recognizing this increased their faith and renewed their hope that all prophecies — specifically, the gathering of Israel and the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth — would also be fulfilled. Each fulfillment of prophecy, if recognized, should have this same effect.
B=B: “Thy covenant children have been assisted by Thee” is complemented by “Thou hast condescended to permit us to take part.” In their forty years of laboring to construct the Salt Lake Temple, they were “assisted by Thee” who “condescended to permit us to take part.” The Latter-day Saints viewed their sacrifice in time, talent, and means as a privilege rather than a burden.
C=C: “In past ages Thou didst inspire with Thy Holy Spirit Thy servants, thy prophets, to speak of the time in the latter days” is complemented by “fulfillment of these visions of Thine ancient seers.” Multiple ancient prophets had foreseen and foretold the construction of the Salt Lake Temple.
D=D: “[S]hould be established in the tops of the mountains” is equivalent to “should be exalted above the hills.” These are the words of the prophets Micah and Isaiah in the Old Testament. Nephi also quotes these words in the Book of Mormon. (For further discussion of this prophecy, refer to Chapter 2 of Isaiah: The Times of Fulfillment, a Verse-By-Verse Commentary by Ivan D. Sanderson)
#1: Chiasmus in the opening and closing paragraphs of the dedicatory prayer show these paragraphs to be nearly identical in substance. Both declare the glory of God and humbly seek for Him to “hear these our humble petitions” and to “grant that the blessings which we seek may be bestowed upon us.”
A: Our Father in heaven, Thou has created the heavens and the earth, and all things that are therein; Thou most glorious One, perfect in mercy, love, and truth, B: we, Thy children, come this day before Thee, and in this house which we have built to Thy most holy name, humbly plead the atoning blood of Thine Only Begotten Son, that our sins may be remembered no more against us forever, C: but that our prayers may ascend unto Thee and have free access to Thy throne, that we may be heard in Thy holy habitation. C: And may it graciously please Thee to hearken unto our petitions, answer them according to Thine infinite wisdom and love, B: and grant that the blessings which we seek may be bestowed upon us, even a hundred fold, inasmuch as we seek with purity of heart and fullness of purpose to do Thy will A: and glorify Thy name.
A: And now, our Father, we bless Thee, we praise Thee, we glorify Thee, we worship Thee, day by day we magnify Thee, and give Thee thanks for Thy great goodness towards us, Thy children, B: and we pray Thee, in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ, our Savior, to hear these our humble petitions, B: and answer us from heaven, Thy holy dwelling place, A: where Thou sittest enthroned in glory, might, majesty, and dominion, and with an infinitude of power which we, Thy mortal creatures, cannot imagine, much less comprehend. Amen and Amen.
#2: This chiasm describes the purpose for dedicating the temple — “that Thy glory may rest upon it: that Thy holy presence may be continually in it.” Three categories of visitors to the temple are then listed: First, “Thy Well-Beloved Son, our Savior,” who would make his “abode” in the temple; second, “the angels who stand before Thy face,” who would act as “hallowed messengers … bearing to us Thy wishes and Thy will;” and third, “all people who may enter upon the threshold of this, Thine house.” As a “sanctified and consecrated” building, the power of God would be felt here.
A: that Thy glory may rest upon it; that Thy holy presence may be continually in it; B: that it may be the abode of Thy Well-Beloved Son, our Savior; that the angels who stand before Thy face may be the hallowed messengers who shall visit it, bearing to us Thy wishes and Thy will, C: that it may be sanctified and consecrated in all its parts holy unto Thee, the God of Israel, C: the Almighty Ruler of Mankind. B: And we pray Thee that all people who may enter upon the threshold of this, Thine house, A: may feel Thy power and be constrained to acknowledge that Thou hast sanctified it, that it is Thy house, a place of Thy holiness.
#3: The following two chiasms emphasize the primary importance of preserving the records of temple ordinances. Hence, only “perfect” accuracy in performing and recording the ordinances is “acceptable unto Thee.”
A: We pray Thee, Heavenly Father, to accept this building in all its parts from foundation to capstone, with the statue that is on the latter placed, and all the finals and other ornaments that adorn its exterior. B: We pray Thee to bless, that they decay not, all the walls, partitions, floors, ceilings, roofs and bridging, the elevators, stairways, railings and steps, the frames, doors, windows, and other openings, all things connected with the lighting, heating, and sanitary apparatus, the boilers, engines, and dynamos, the connecting pipes and wires, the lamps and burners, C: and all utensils, furniture and articles used in or connected with the holy ordinances administered in this house, the veils and the altars, the baptismal font and the oxen on which it rests, and all that pertains thereto, the baths, washstands and basins. D: Also the safes and vaults in which the records are preserved, with the records themselves, and all books, documents, and papers appertaining to the office of the recorder, D: likewise the library with all the books, maps, instruments, etc., that may belong thereto. C: We also present before Thee, for Thine acceptance, all the additions and buildings not forming a part of the main edifice, but being appendages thereto; and we pray Thee to bless all the furniture, seats, cushions, curtains, hangings, locks, and fastenings, and multitudinous other appliances and appurtenances found in and belonging to this Temple and its annexes with all the work or ornamentation thereon, the painting and plastering, the gilding and bronzing, the fine work in wood and metal of every kind, the embroidery and needlework, the pictures and statuary, the carved work and canopies. B: Also the materials of which the buildings and their contents are made or composed—the rock, lime, mortar and plaster, the timbers and lath, the wood of various trees, the gold and silver, the brass and iron, and all other metals, the silk, wool, and cotton, the skins and furs, the glass, china, and precious stones, A: all these and all else herein we humbly present for Thine acceptance and sanctifying blessing.
A: Bless, we pray Thee, Heavenly Father, all who may be workers in this house. Remember continually Thy servant who shall be appointed to preside within its walls; endow him richly with wisdom of the Holy Ones, with the spirit of his calling, with the power of his Priesthood, and with the gift of discernment. B: Bless, according to their calling, his assistants and all who are associated with him in the performance of the ordinances—baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, sealings, endowments, and ordinations which are performed herein, that all that is done may be holy and acceptable unto Thee, Thou God of our salvation. B: Bless the recorders and copyists, that the records of the Temple may be kept perfect, and without omission and errors, and that they may also be accepted of Thee. A: Bless, in their several positions, the engineers, watchmen, guards, and all others who have duties to perform in connection with the house, that they may perform them unto Thee with an eye single to Thy glory.
#4: This chiasm addresses the altars where the sealing ordinances are performed and the sealing blessings pronounced. In doing so, it emphasizes the dynamics of the covenant relationship between God and his “servants and handmaidens.” As we treat the altars with reverence, the Lord will “sanctify” them, and as we “realize the sacredness of the covenants,” the Lord will “accept” our efforts and grant “all the blessings pronounced.” The Holy Ghost plays a major role in helping us develop this reverential attitude and in helping us sacredly keep our covenants.
A: Our Father in heaven, we present before Thee the altars B: which we have prepared for Thy servants and handmaidens C: to receive their sealing blessings. D: We dedicate them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, unto Thy most holy name, and we ask Thee to sanctify these altars, E: that those who come unto them may feel the power of the Holy Ghost resting upon them, F: and realize the sacredness of the covenants they enter into. F: And we pray that our covenants and contracts which we make with Thee and with each other E: may be directed by Thy holy Spirit, D: be sacredly kept by us, and accepted by Thee, C: and that all the blessings pronounced B: may be realized by all Thy Saints A: who come to these altars, in the morning of the resurrection of the just.
#5: In addition to dedicating the temple building, the dedicatory prayer also applies to Temple Square, or “the whole of this block or piece of ground.” This chiasm shows that the “surrounding walls and fences, the walks, paths and ornamental beds” along with the “trees, plants, flowers and shrubbery” contribute greatly to making Temple Square “a place of rest and peace, for holy meditation and inspired thought.”
A: O Lord, we pray Thee to bless and sanctify the whole of this block or piece of ground on which these buildings stand, B: with the surrounding walls and fences, the walks, paths and ornamental beds, B: also the trees, plants, flowers and shrubbery that grow in its soil; may they bloom and blossom and become exceedingly beautiful and fragrant; A: and may Thy Spirit dwell in the midst thereof, that this plot of ground may be a place of rest and peace, for holy meditation and inspired thought.
#6: Extending beyond Temple Square, this parallelism describes how the dedicatory prayer applies to anyone within eyesight of the temple and those who turn their heart toward their temple covenants. Such would find a listening ear and “mercy and tender compassion” from Heavenly Father in all their difficulties.
A: Heavenly Father, when Thy people shall not have the opportunity of entering this holy house to offer their supplications unto Thee, and they are oppressed and in trouble, surrounded by difficulties or assailed by temptation B: and shall turn their faces towards this Thy holy house and ask Thee for deliverance, for help, for Thy power to be extended in their behalf, C: we beseech Thee, to look down from Thy holy habitation in mercy and tender compassion upon them, and listen to their cries. A: Or when the children of Thy people, in years to come, shall be separated, through any cause, from this place, B: and their hearts shall turn in remembrance of Thy promises to this holy Temple, and they shall cry unto Thee from the depths of their affliction and sorrow to extend relief and deliverance to them, C: we humbly entreat Thee to Turn Thine ear in mercy to them; hearken to their cries, and grant unto them the blessings for which they ask.
#7: The “perfect hurricane” raging around the temple at the moment the dedicatory prayer was given provides a vivid demonstration of the preserving power of God described in this chiasm.
A: Preserve these buildings, we beseech Thee, B: from injury or destruction by flood or fire; from the rage of the elements, C: the shafts of the vivid lightning, C: the overwhelming blasts of the hurricane, B: the flames of consuming fire, and the upheavals of the earth-quake, A: O Lord, protect them.
#8: The sealing power by which the ordinances of the temple are made valid was restored to the earth by Elijah the prophet on April 3, 1836 in the Kirtland Ohio Temple (see D&C 110:13-15). This chiasm explains the function and ultimate purpose of the sealing power.
A: O Thou God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whose God Thou delightest to be called, we thank Thee with all the fervor of overflowing gratitude that Thou hast revealed the powers by which the hearts of the children are being turned to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children, that the sons of men, in all their generations can be made partakers of the glories and joys of the kingdom of heaven. B: Confirm upon us the spirit of Elijah, we pray Thee, that we may thus redeem our dead and also connect ourselves with our fathers who have passed behind the veil, and furthermore seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection, that we who dwell on the earth may be bound to those who dwell in heaven. B: We thank Thee for their sake who have finished their work in mortality, as well as for our own, that the prison doors have been opened, that deliverance has been proclaimed to the captive, and the bonds have been loosened from those who were bound. A: We praise Thee that our fathers, from last to first, from now, back to the beginning, can be united with us in indissoluble links, welded by the Holy Priesthood, and that as one great family united in Thee and cemented by Thy power we shall together stand before Thee, and by the power of the atoning blood of Thy Son be delivered from all evil, be saved and sanctified, exalted and glorified.
#9: This chiasm addresses the massive work of searching out the records of the dead, much of which is accomplished by those “who have not yet entered into covenant with Thee.” These would be blessed with an increased “desire in their bosoms” to “search out their progenitors” and would have opened before them “new avenues of information.” In this way, they would “aid in the accomplishment of Thy work.” Endowed with greater power, the Latter-day Saints would be permitted to receive visits from “holy messengers” who would “make known unto us with regard to the work we should perform on behalf of our dead.”
A: Wilt Thou also permit holy messengers to visit us within these sacred walls and make known unto us with regard to the work we should perform in behalf of our dead. B: And, as Thou has inclined the hearts of many who have not yet entered into covenant with Thee to search out their progenitors, and in so doing they have traced the ancestry of many of Thy Saints, B: we pray Thee that Thou wilt increase this desire in their bosoms, that they may in this way aid in the accomplishment of Thy work. A: Bless them, we pray Thee, in their labors, that they may not fall into errors in preparing their genealogies; and furthermore, we ask Thee to open before them new avenues of information, and place in their hands the records of the past, that their work may not only be correct but complete also.
#10: This chiasm describes the Constitution’s role in protecting religious freedom and celebrates the “softening [of] hearts” that allowed the Latter-day Saints to be treated “as fellow citizens, and not as enemies.” Additionally, it describes the responsibility the Latter-day Saints have to “do everything in our power to maintain Constitutional rights and the freedom of all within the confines of this great Republic.”
A: We thank Thee, O God of Israel, that Thou didst raise up patriotic men to lay the foundation of this great American government. B: Thou didst inspire them to frame a good constitution and laws which guarantee to all of the inhabitants of the land equal rights and privileges to worship Thee according to the dictates of their own consciences. C: Bless the officers, both judicial and executive. Confer abundant favors upon the President, his Cabinet, and Congress. Enlightened and guided by Thy Spirit may they maintain and uphold the glorious principles of human liberty. D: Our hearts are filled with gratitude to Thee, our Father in heaven, for Thy kindness unto us in softening the hearts of our fellow citizens, the people of this nation, toward us. E: That which Thou hast done has been marvelous in our eyes. E: We thank Thee that Thou didst move upon the heart of the President of our nation to issue a general amnesty. D: Thou hast removed prejudice and misunderstanding from the minds of many of the people concerning us and our purposes, and they are disposed to treat us as fellow citizens, and not as enemies. C: In this holy house we feel to give Thee glory therefore, and we humbly ask Thee to increase this feeling in their hearts. Enable them to see us in our true light. Show unto them that we are their friends, that we love liberty, B: that we will join with them in upholding the rights of the people, the Constitution and laws of our country; A: and give unto us and our children an increased disposition to always be loyal, and to do everything in our power to maintain Constitutional rights and the freedom of all within the confines of this great Republic.
#11: In this chiasm, the softening of hearts toward the Latter-day Saints that occurred in the United States is expanded worldwide. As the nations of the earth come to accept the testimony of the apostles, “oppression [will] cease, the yoke of the tyrant broken, and every despotic form of government overthrown.” This spread of liberty will help usher in the “reign of righteousness and truth.”
A: Remember in mercy, O Lord, the kings, the princes, the nobles the rulers, and governors and the great ones of the earth, and likewise all the poor, the afflicted and the oppressed, and indeed, all people, B: that their hearts may be softened when Thy servants go forth to bear testimony of Thy name, that their prejudices may give way before the truth, and Thy people find favor in their eyes. C: So control the affairs of the nations of the earth, that the way be prepared for the ushering in of a reign of righteousness and truth. C: We desire to see liberty spread throughout the earth, B: to see oppression cease, the yoke of the tyrant broken, and every despotic form of government overthrown A: by which Thy children are degraded and crushed, and prevented from enjoying their share of the blessings of the earth, which Thou hast created for their habitation.
#12: As citizens of the United States the Latter-day Saints had “joined the two great national parties” and participated in the election process. In the fulfillment of their public duties the Latter-day Saints are to “avoid bitterness and strife, and to refrain from words and acts in political discussions that shall create feeling and grieve Thy Holy Spirit.” They are to “cultivate that spirit of affection and love which Thou art desirous that all the children of men should entertain one for another, and which Thy Saints, above all others, should cherish.”
A: O God, the Eternal Father, Thou knowest all things. Thou seest the course Thy people have been led to take in political matters. They have, in many instances, joined the two great national parties. Campaigns have been entered upon, elections have been held, and much party feeling has been engendered. B: Many things have been said and done which have wounded the feelings of the humble and the meek, and which have been a cause of offense. C: We beseech Thee, in Thine infinite mercy and goodness, to forgive Thy people wherein they have sinned in this direction. C: Show them, O Father, their faults and their errors, that they may see the same in the light of Thy Holy Spirit, and repent truly and sincerely, B: and cultivate that spirit of affection and love which Thou art desirous that all the children of men should entertain one for another, and which Thy Saints, above all others, should cherish. A: Enable Thy people hereafter to avoid bitterness and strife, and to refrain from words and acts in political discussions that shall create feeling and grieve Thy Holy Spirit.
A study of chiasmus in the Salt Lake Temple dedicatory prayer draws our attention to different aspects and purposes of the temple. For example, temples are houses of God and places of revelation, where the glory of God can be felt and visitations from the Savior and the angels of God can occur; temples are sanctified by God in response to the reverence shown to them by Church members; accuracy in performing and recording sacred ordinance work is of primary importance; God blesses the efforts of non-Mormons who conduct family history research, since their findings support ordinance work for the dead that occurs inside temples; and the protecting power of God extended in the dedicatory prayer not only applies to the temple and its grounds, but to those who keep their temple covenants, wherever they may be. This fuller understanding of temples will strengthen our faith and deepen our worship.
On January 19, 1841, Joseph Smith received a revelation from the Lord commanding him to “make a solemn proclamation of my gospel … to all the kings of the world” (see D&C 124:1-14). Before he could fulfill this commandment, the Prophet Joseph suffered martyrdom in June 1844. Nine months later, on April 6, 1845, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—the highest governing body in the Church at the time—published a proclamation addressed:
“To all the Kings of the World; To the President of the United States of America; To the Governors of the several States; And to the Rulers and People of all Nations”.
The proclamation of 1845 is considered “one of the great prophetic utterances of the last dispensation” and “covers some of the preparations that are expected to be made throughout the world as a preface to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to reign on the earth.” A major purpose of the proclamation is to present a bold call-to-action to the kings of the earth to assist the Latter-day Saints with their divine mission. Particularly striking is the clear timeline it presents, “outlining as it does future developments of the Kingdom of God in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres,” including a detailed description of the Battle of Armageddon and the glorious destiny of the indigenous peoples of North and South America (James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 1:252).
Authorship of the proclamation is attributed to Parley P. Pratt, a prolific writer and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1835 to 1857. A list of “Church Publications for the Period ” cites Parley P. Pratt as author and Wilford Woodruff as publisher of the proclamation (see Doctrinal History of the Church 7:558). Additionally, a letter from Brigham Young to Parley P. Pratt dated May 26, 1845 states, “We have today in relation to your proclamation that we approve of it….”
Both the commandment to “make a solemn proclamation” and the 1845 proclamation are chiastic. This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of D&C 124:1-14, followed by a less detailed analysis of several chiasms and parallelisms from the 1845 proclamation.
[Note: Thanks to Ron Read at the Church History Library for directing us to sources that clarified authorship of the 1845 proclamation.]
This revelation directs Joseph Smith to “make a solemn proclamation of my gospel … to all the nations of the earth scattered abroad” and provides instructions for what to include in the proclamation. Chiasmus in this revelation reinforces and clarifies the purpose and content of the proclamation and how it would be received by the nations of the earth. A study of this revelation helps in understanding the content and tone of the 1845 proclamation.
A:  Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, I am well pleased with your offering and acknowledgments, which you have made; for unto this end have I raised you up, that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the earth.  Your prayers are acceptable before me; and in answer to them I say unto you, that you are now called immediately to make a solemn proclamation of my gospel, and of this stake which I have planted to be a cornerstone of Zion, which shall be polished with the refinement which is after the similitude of a palace. B:  This proclamation shall be made to all the kings of the world, to the four corners thereof, to the honorable president-elect, and the high-minded governors of the nation in which you live, and to all the nations of the earth scattered abroad.  Let it be written in the spirit of meekness and by the power of the Holy Ghost, which shall be in you at the time of the writing of the same;  For it shall be given you by the Holy Ghost to know my will concerning those kings and authorities, even what shall befall them in a time to come. C:  For, behold, I am about to call upon them to give heed to the light and glory of Zion, for the set time has come to favor her. D:  Call ye, therefore, upon them with loud proclamation, and with your testimony, fearing them not, for they are as grass, and all their glory as the flower thereof which soon falleth, E: that they may be left also without excuse  And that I may visit them in the day of visitation, when I shall unveil the face of my covering, E: to appointthe portion of the oppressor among hypocrites, where there is gnashing of teeth, if they reject D: my servants and my testimony which I have revealed unto them. C:  And again, I will visit and soften their hearts, many of them for your good, that ye may find grace in their eyes, that they may come to the light of truth, and the Gentiles to the exaltation or lifting up of Zion.  For the day of my visitation cometh speedily, in an hour when ye think not of; and where shall be the safety of my people, and refuge for those who shall be left of them? B:  Awake, O kings of the earth! Come ye, O, come ye, with your gold and your silver, to the help of my people, to the house of the daughters of Zion. A:  And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant Robert B. Thompsonhelp you to write this proclamation, for I am well pleased with him, and that he should be with you;  Let him, therefore, hearken to your counsel, and I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings; let him be faithful and true in all things from henceforth, and he shall be great in mine eyes;  But let him remember that his stewardship will I require at his hands.
A=A: “[M]y servant Joseph Smith, I am well pleased with your offering … you are now called immediately to make a solemn proclamation of my gospel” is complemented by “let my servant Robert B. Thompson help you to write this proclamation, for I am well pleased with him.” The Lord is “well pleased” with both Joseph Smith and Robert B. Thompson. Thompson, who had joined the Church in Canada in 1836 and moved with the Saints from Ohio to Missouri to Illinois, was Joseph Smith’s personal scribe at the time this revelation was given. Unfortunately, he died of a “severe lung infection” a few months after this revelation was received in August 1841. This element of the chiasm shows the value of having a faithful scribe to assist with sacred writings. In addition to approaching the assignment with the proper spirit, a faithful scribe can make inspired grammatical and structural suggestions. In light of this, it would be interesting to know if Parley P. Pratt used a scribe in writing the 1845 proclamation.
B=B: “[K]ings of the world” equals “kings of the earth.” Addressed to the “nations of the earth,” the proclamation would invite government leaders to financially assist the Saints in fulfilling their divine commission. In doing so, the proclamation would prophetically describe the Lord’s will “concerning those kings and authorities, even what shall befall them in a time to come.”
C=C: “I am about to call upon them to give heed to the light and glory of Zion” corresponds to “that they may come to the light of truth, and the Gentiles to the exaltation or lifting up of Zion.” In calling upon world leaders “to give heed to the light and glory of Zion,” the Lord would “visit and soften their hearts, many of them for your good, that ye may find grace in their eyes.” As a result, Zion would be “exalt[ed]” and “lift[ed] up” and serve as a “refuge” in preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord.
D=D: “[Y]our testimony” corresponds to “my servants and my testimony which I have revealed unto them.” The testimony contained in the proclamation would be that which the Lord would reveal to “his servants” the Twelve Apostles. In writing and disseminating the proclamation, the apostles should be “loud” and “fear[less],” drawing the attention of the nations of the world to their testimony and message and not being concerned with whatever hostile response might follow, “for they are as grass, and all their glory as the flower thereof which soon falleth.” The nations of the earth enjoy a temporary glory, the decline and ending of which is foreknown by God.
E=E: “[V]isit them in the day of visitation” is complemented by “to appoint the portion of the oppressor among hypocrites, where there is gnashing of teeth.” The proclamation would be boldly written and disseminated throughout the world to make the leaders of nations accountable for their actions in relation to the Saints. At the time of the Lord’s Second Coming, they would be left “without excuse” if they “reject” the apostles and their message. As a result of their deceptive lip service, they would be “appoint[ed] the portion of the oppressor among hypocrites, where there is gnashing of teeth.”
1845 Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles
#1: This chiasm clearly defines the “kingdom of God” that has been “prayed for in all ages” and announces its establishment “in these last days.” It also explains how the Lord, through “open visions” and “the great and eternal High Priesthood,” speaks “from the heavens” and “communes with man upon the earth.”
A: Know ye:—That the kingdom of God has come: as has been predicted by ancient prophets, and prayed for in all ages; even that kingdom which shall fill the whole earth, and shall stand for ever. B: The great Eloheem [sic] Jehovah has been pleased once more to speak from the heavens; and also to commune with man upon the earth, C: by means of open visions, and by the ministration of HOLY MESSENGERS. C: By this means B:the great and eternal High Priesthood, after the Order of his Son, even the Apostleship, has been restored; or, returned to the earth. A: This High Priesthood, or Apostleship, holds the keys of the kingdom of God, and power to bind on earth that which shall be bound in heaven; and to loose on earth that which shall be loosed in heaven. And, in fine, to do, and to administer in all things pertaining to the ordinances, organization, government and direction of the kingdom of God. Being established in these last days for the restoration of all things spoken by the prophets since the world began; and in order to prepare the way for the coming of the Son of Man.
#2: This chiasm describes the preparation needed for the Second Coming of Christ, which is “near at hand.” This preparation centers around the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel—faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The central focus of this chiasm is a description of the blessings that come as a result of having the gift of the Holy Ghost.
A: And we now bear witness that his coming is near at hand; and not many years hence, the nations and their kings shall see him coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. B: In order to meet this great event there must needs be a preparation. C: Therefore we send unto you with authority from on high, and command you all to repent and humble yourselves as little children, before the majesty of the Holy One ; and come unto Jesus with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and be baptized in his name, for the remission of sins (that is, be buried in the water in the likeness of his burial and rise again to newness of life, in the likeness of his resurrection), and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, through the laying on of the hands of the Apostles and elders, of this great and last dispensation of mercy to man. D: This Spirit shall bear witness to you, of the truth of our testimony; and shall enlighten your minds, and be in you as the spirit of prophecy and revelation. It shall bring things past to your understanding and remembrance; and shall show you things to come. D: It shall also impart unto you many great and glorious gifts; such as the gift of healing the sick, and of being healed, by the laying on of hands in the name of Jesus; and of expelling Demons; and even of seeing visions, and conversing with Angels and spirits from the unseen world. C: By the light of this Spirit, received through the ministration of the ordinances—by the power and authority of the Holy Apostleship and Priesthood, you will be enabled to understand, and to be the children of light; B: and thus be prepared to escape all the things that are coming on the earth, A: and so stand before the Son of Man.
#3: This parallelism describes the Lord’s twin capitals that are to be built on the earth—Jerusalem on the eastern hemisphere and the New Jerusalem on the western hemisphere.
A: And we further testify that the Lord has appointed a holy city and temple to be built on this continent for the endowment and ordinances pertaining to the priesthood; and for the Gentiles, and the remnant of Israel to resort unto, B: in order to worship the Lord; and to be taught in his ways and walk in his paths: C: in short, to finish their preparations for the coming of the Lord. A: And we further testify, that the Jews among all nations are hereby commanded, in the name of the Messiah, to prepare, to return to Jerusalem in Palestine; and to rebuild that city and temple unto the Lord: B: And also to organize and establish their own political government, under their own rulers, judges, and governors in that country. C: For be it known unto them that we now hold the keys of the priesthood and kingdom which is soon to be restored unto them. Therefore let them also repent and prepare to obey the ordinances of God.
#4: This chiasm describes additional requirements placed upon the “kings, rulers, and people of the Gentiles.” They are to use their temporal riches and resources in furthering the work of the Lord, to lighten the load carried by the Latter-day Saints.
A: And now, O ye kings, rulers, and people of the Gentiles: hear ye the word of the Lord; for this commandment is for you. You are not only required to repent and obey the gospel in its fulness, and thus become members or citizens of the kingdom of God, B: but you are also hereby commanded, in the name of Jesus Christ, to put your silver and your gold, your ships and steam-vessels, your railroad trains and your horses, chariots, camels, mules, and litters, into active use, for the fulfilment of these purposes. For be it known unto you, that the only salvation which remains for the Gentiles, is for them to be identified in the same covenant, and to worship at the same altar with Israel. In short, they must come to the same standard. For, there shall be one Lord, and his name one, and He shall be king over all the earth. C: The Latter-day Saints, since their first organization in the year 1830, have been a poor, persecuted, abused, and afflicted people. They have sacrificed their time and property freely, for the sake of laying the foundation of the kingdom of God, and enlarging its dominion, by the ministry of the gospel. They have suffered privation, hunger, imprisonment, and the loss of houses, lands, home, and political rights, for their testimony. C: And this is not all ; but their first founder, Mr. Joseph Smith, whom God raised up as a Prophet and Apostle, mighty in word and in deed, and his brother Hiram, who was also a prophet, together with many others, have suffered a cruel martyrdom in the cause of truth; and have sealed their testimony with their blood. And still the work has, as it were, but just begun. B: A great, a glorious, and a mighty work is yet to be achieved, in spreading the truth and kingdom among the Gentiles—in restoring, organizing, instructing and establishing the Jews—in gathering, instructing, relieving, civilizing, educating and administering salvation to the remnant of Israel on this continent; in building Jerusalem in Palestine; and the cities, stakes, temples, and sanctuaries of Zion in America; and in gathering the Gentiles into the same covenant and organization—instructing them in all things for their sanctification and preparation; that the whole Church of the Saints, both Gentile, Jew and Israel, may be prepared as a bride, for the coming of the Lord. A: And now, O ye kings, rulers, presidents, governors, judges, legislators, nobles, lords, and rich men of the earth; will you leave us, to struggle alone, and to toil unaided in so great a work? Or will you share in the labors, toils, sacrifices, honors and blessings of the same?
#5: This chiasm proclaims that the latter day effort to “usher in the great millennium” is “the greatest of all revolutions.”
A: Have you not the same interest in it that we have? Is it not sent forth to renovate the world—to enlighten the nations—to cover the earth with light, knowledge, truth, union, peace and love? And thus usher in the great millennium, or sabbath of rest, so long expected and sought for by all good men? B: We bear testimony that it is. B: And the fulfilment of our words will establish their truth, to millions yet unborn: while there are those now living upon the earth who will live to see the consummation. A: Come, then, to the help of the Lord; and let us have your aid and protection—and your willing and hearty co-operation, in this, the greatest of all revolutions.
#6: This chiasm provides a remarkable prophetic warning to the people and nations of the earth. Although the Saints were a tiny minority at the time of this proclamation, they would become “more and more an object of political and religious interest and excitement.” As a result, every individual and community would no longer have the option of standing “as idle and disinterested spectators,” but would reach a point where they would either choose to “aid and bless the people of God” or “fight against God, and seek to destroy his people.”
A: There is also another consideration of vast importance to all the rulers and people of the world, in regard to this matter. It is this: As this work progresses in its onward course, and becomes more and more an object of political and religious interest and excitement, no king, ruler, or subject, no community or individual, will stand neutral. All will at length be influenced by one spirit or the other; and will take sides either for or against the kingdom of God, and the fulfilment of the prophets, in the great restoration and return of his long dispersed covenant people. B: Some will act the part of the venerable Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses; or the noble Cyrus; and will aid and bless the people of God; or like Ruth, the Moabitess, will forsake their people and their kindred and country, and will say to the Saints, or to Israel: “This people shall be my people, and their God my God.” B: While others will walk in the footsteps of a Pharaoh, or a Balak, and will harden their hearts, and fight against God, and seek to destroy his people. These will commune with priests and prophets who love the wages of unrighteousness; and who, like Balaam, will seek to curse, or to find enchantments against Israel. A: You cannot therefore stand as idle and disinterested spectators of the scenes and events which are calculated in their very nature to reduce all nations and creeds to one political and religious standard, and thus put an end to Babel forms and names, and to strife and war. You will, therefore, either be led by the good Spirit to cast in your lot, and to take a lively interest with the Saints of the Most High, and the covenant people of the Lord, or on the other hand, you will become their inveterate enemy, and oppose them by every means in your power.
#7: In this chiasm, the remarkable prophecy continues with a vivid description of armed conflict and a dramatic change in “the whole order of things in Europe and Asia, in regard to political and religious organization, and government.” The “great division” of the people of the world will eventually lead “the nations of the old world” to besiege and attack Jerusalem. In the midst of battle, the Messiah (Christ) will appear as the “defender of the Jews” and “complete their victory.” As a result of this “signal victory,” Jerusalem will become the “capital of the old world,” where the nations of the eastern hemisphere will be required to annually keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
A: To such an extreme will this great division finally extend, that the nations of the old world will combine to oppose these things by military force. They will send a great army to Palestine, against the Jews; and they will besiege their city, and will reduce the inhabitants of Jerusalem to the greatest extreme of distress and misery. B: Then will commence a struggle in which the fate of nations and empires will be suspended on a single battle. C: In this battle the governors and people of Judah distinguish themselves for their bravery and warlike achievements. The weak among them will be like David, and the strong among them will be like God: or like the angel of the Lord. D: In that day the Lord will pour upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication, and they shall look upon the Messiah whom they have pierced. D: For lo he will descend from heaven, as the defender of the Jews: and to complete their victory. His feet will stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which shall cleave in sunder at his presence, and remove one half to the north, and the other to the south; thus forming a great valley where the mountain now stands. C: The earth will quake around him, while storm and tempest, hail and plague, are mingled with the clash of arms, the roar of artillery, the shouts of victory, and the groans of the wounded and dying. In that day all who are in the siege, both against Judea and against Jerusalem, shall be cut in pieces; though all the people of the earth should be gathered together against it. B: This signal victory on the part of the Jews, so unlooked for by the nations, and attended with the personal advent of Messiah, and the accompanying events, will change the whole order of things in Europe and Asia, in regard to political and religious organization, and government. The Jews as a nation become holy from that day forward; and their city and sanctuary becomes holy. There also the Messiah establishes his throne, and seat of government. Jerusalem then becomes the seat of empire, and the great centre and capital of the old world. A: All the families of the land shall then go up to Jerusalem once a year, to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the feast of Tabernacles. Those who refuse to go up, shall have no rain, but shall be smitten with dearth and famine. And if the family of Egypt go not up (as it never rains there) they shall be smitten with the plague. And thus all things shall be fulfilled according to the words of the holy prophets of old, and the word of the Lord which is now revealed, to confirm and fulfil them.
#8: This chiasm provides more detail about the dramatic power shift described in the previous chiasm.
A: In short the kings, rulers, priests and people of Europe, and of the old world, shall know this once that there is a God in Israel, who, as in days of old, can utter his voice, and it shall be obeyed. B: The courts of Rome, London, Paris, Constantinople, Petersburgh, and all others, will then have to yield the point, and do homage, and all pay tribute to one Great Centre, and to one mighty Sovereign, C: or, THRONES WILL BE CAST DOWN, C: AND KINGDOMS WILL CEASE TO BE. B: Priests, bishops, and clergy, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Mahomedan, will then have to yield their pretended claims to the priesthood, together with titles, honors, creeds and names; and reverence and obey the true and royal priesthood of the order of Melchisedech, and of Aaron; restored to the rightful heirs, the nobility of Israel; A: or, the dearth and famine will consume them, and the plague sweep them quickly down to the pit, as in the case of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who pretended to the priesthood, and rebelled against God’s chosen priests and prophets, in the days of Moses.
#9: In this parallelism, the scene shifts in this remarkable prophecy “a scene of grandeur, greatness, and glory, far surpassing the scene just described,” which will take place in the western hemisphere. The indigenous peoples of North and South America will “stand forth in manly dignity” and claim their inheritance as descendants of Joseph. They will build the city of Zion, claim their temple blessings, enjoy a personal visit from the Lord, and become a “standard” for the nations of the western hemisphere.
A: While these great events are rolling on the wheels of time, and being fulfilled in the old world, the Western Continent will present a scene of grandeur, greatness, and glory, far surpassing the scene just described. The Lord will make her that halted a remnant; and gather her that was driven out and afflicted; and make her who was cast afar off, a strong nation; and will reign over them in Mount Zion from that time forth and for ever (sic). Or, in other words, He will assemble the Natives, the remnants of Joseph in America; and make of them a great, and strong, and powerful nation: and he will civilize and enlighten them, and will establish a holy city, and temple, and seat of government among them, which shall be called Zion. B: And there shall be his tabernacle, his sanctuary, his throne, and seat of government for the whole continent of North and South America for ever. In short, it will be to the western hemisphere what Jerusalem will be to the eastern. C: And there the Messiah will visit them in person; and the old Saints, who will then have been raised from the dead, will be with him. And he will establish his kingdom and laws over all the land. D: To this city, and to its several branches or stakes, shall the Gentiles seek, as to a standard E: of light and knowledge. Yea, the nations, and their kings and nobles, shall say. Come, and let us go up to the Mount Zion, and to the temple of the Lord; where his holy priesthood stand to minister continually before the Lord; and where we may be instructed more fully, and receive the ordinances of remission, and of sanctification, and redemption; and thus be adopted into the family of Israel, and identified in the same covenants of promise. A: The despised and degraded son of the forest, who has wandered in dejection and sorrow, and suffered reproach, shall then drop his disguise, and stand forth in manly dignity, and exclaim to the Gentiles who have envied and sold him: “I am Joseph: does my father yet live?” Or, in other words: I am a descendant of that Joseph who was sold into Egypt. You have hated me, and sold me, and thought I was dead. But lo! I live, and am heir to the inheritance, titles, honors, priesthood, sceptre, crown, throne, and eternal life and dignity of my fathers, who live for evermore. B: He shall then be ordained, washed, anointed with holy oil, and arrayed in fine linen, even in the glorious and beautiful garments and royal robes of the high priesthood, which is after the order of the Son of God; and shall enter into the congregation of the Lord, even into the Holy of Holies, there to be crowned with authority and power which shall never end. The Spirit of the Lord shall then descend upon him, like the dew upon the mountains of Hermon, and like refreshing showers of rain upon the flowers of Paradise. His heart shall expand with knowledge, wide as eternity; and his mind shall comprehend the vast creations of his God, and His eternal purpose of redemption, glory, and exaltation, which was devised in heaven before the worlds were organized; but made manifest in these last days, for the fulness of the Gentiles, and for the exaltation of Israel. C: He shall also behold his Redeemer, and be filled with his presence, while the cloud of his glory shall be seen in his temple. D: The city of Zion, with its sanctuary and priesthood, and the glorious fulness of the gospel, will constitute a standard which will put an end to jarring creeds and political wranglings, by uniting the republics, states, provinces, territories, nations, tribes, kindred, tongues, people, and sects of North and South America in one great and common bond of brotherhood. E: While truth and knowledge shall make them free, and love cement their union. The Lord also shall be their king and their lawgiver; while wars shall cease, and peace prevail for a thousand years. Thus shall American rulers, statesmen, citizens, and savages know, “this once,” that there is a God in Israel, who can utter his voice, and it shall be fulfilled.
#10: The following structure consists of two chiasms sandwiched between two corresponding introductory elements (labeled I and II). The two chiasms describe the work of the Lord that “must roll on in fulfillment” and two major contributions the people of the Americas can make to the work of the latter days. In the first chiasm, they are instructed to “protect the Saints” by extending “the broad banner of the Constitution and laws over” them, including punishing their “offenders” and helping them reclaim “the millions they have lost.” In the second chiasm, the people of the Americas are encouraged to continue their efforts to “civilize” the indigenous peoples and to educate them about “their Israelitish origin.”
I: Americans! This mighty and strange work has been commenced in your midst, and must roll on in fulfillment.
A: You are now invited, and earnestly intreated, to investigate it thoroughly, and to aid and participate in its accomplishment. B: You ask, What can be done? C: We answer: Protect the Saints; give them their rights; extend the broad banner of the Constitution and laws over their homes, cities, fire-sides, wives, and children; D: that they may CEASE to be BUTCHERED, MARTYRED, ROBBED, PLUNDERED, AND DRIVEN, and may peaceably proceed in the work assigned them by their God. D: Execute the Law upon the offenders, and thus rid your garments of INNOCENT BLOOD. C: Pass acts, also, to indemnify them in the millions they have lost, by your cruel and criminal neglect. B: Contribute liberally of your substance A: for their aid, and for the fulfillment of their mission.
A: Let the Government of the United States also continue to gather together, and to colonize the tribes and remnants of Israel (the Indians), and also to feed, clothe, succor, and protect them, and endeavor to civilize and unite; B: and also to bring them to the knowledge of their Israelitish origin, and of the fulness of the gospel which was revealed to, and written by, their forefathers on this land; C: the record of which has now come to light. C: It is these records, B: together with the other scriptures, and the priesthood and authority now conferred upon the Saints, A: that will effect their final conversion and salvation; while the creeds of man, and the powerless forms and dogmas of sectarianism will still remain powerless and inefficient.
II: The Lord has spoken, and who can disannul it?He has uttered his voice, and who can gainsay it?He has stretched out his arm, and who can turn it back?
#11: This parallelism contrasts the blessings and cursings that will follow either supporting or rejecting the Latter-day Saints. Ultimately, they will either “be prepared to receive their king, Messiah, and to dwell for ever under his peaceful government in this happy country,” or they will lose their inheritance when the Messiah comes and executes “judgement for the Saints, and give[s] them the dominion.”
A: If the rulers and people will now inform themselves on these momentous subjects, and fulfill the duties we have just pointed out to them, B: they will then be entitled to a continuation of the great national blessings and favors they have heretofore enjoyed; yea, and to more abundant favors from His bountiful hand, who first raised them to national greatness. They will in that case be prospered and enlarged, and spread their dominions wide and more wide over this vast country, till not only Texas and Oregon, but the whole vast dominion from sea to sea, will be joined with them, and come under their protection as one great, powerful and peaceful empire of Liberty and Union. Millions of people would also come from all nations, their silver and their gold with them, and would take protection under our banner, till in less than half a century from the present time we would have upwards of a hundred millions of population, all united and free, while civilization, arts, cultivation and improvement would extend to the most wild regions of our continent, making our “wilderness like Eden and our deserts like the garden of the Lord.” Or, if they will go still further, and obey the fulness of the gospel, they would then be entitled, not only to temporal blessings, but to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, C: and thus be prepared to receive their king, Messiah, and to dwell for ever under his peaceful government in this happy country. A: But, so long as they remain indifferent and ignorant on these subjects, and so long as they continue to breathe out slanders, lies, hatred and murder against the Saints and against the remnants of Israel, and to speak evil of and oppose the things which they understand not, B: so long the blood of the Saints and of the martyrs of Jesus must continue to flow, and souls to cry from under the altar for vengeance on a guilty land, C: till the great Messiah shall execute judgment for the Saints, and give them the dominion.
#12: This chiasm boldly declares that the “faith, hope or knowledge” possessed by the Saints gives them power to endure “death and war in their most horrid forms.”
A: It is in vain to suppose that the sword, the musket, the thunder of cannon, or the grating and rattle of chains, bolts and bars, will take away the faith, hope or knowledge of a Latter-day Saint. B: They know some facts— B: and these will continue to be known facts A: when death and war in their most horrid forms are raging around them. They cannot shut their eyes upon these facts to please either governors, rulers, or the raging multitude.
#13: This chiasm acknowledges the danger of declaring the words of this proclamation, that they may be considered “treason[ous]” by some. The apostles boldly accept this fate by restating and summarizing much of what has previously been presented in this proclamation.
A: We would now make a solemn appeal to our rulers and other fellow-citizens, whether it is treason to know? or even to publish what we know? If it is, then strike the murderous blow, but listen to what we say. B: We say, then, in life or in death, in bonds or free, that the great God has spoken in this age.—And we know it. C: He has given us the Holy Priesthood and Apostleship, and the keys of the kingdom of God, to bring about the restoration of all things as promised by the holy prophets of old.—And we know it. D: He has revealed the origin and the Records of the aboriginal tribes of America, and their future destiny.—And we know it. He has revealed the fulness of the gospel, with its gifts, blessings, and ordinances.—And we know it. He has commanded us to bear witness of it, first to the Gentiles and then to the remnants of Israel and the Jews.—And we know it. E: He has commanded us to gather together his Saints on this Continent, and build up holy cities and sanctuaries.—And we know it. F: He has said, that the Gentiles should come into the same gospel and covenant; and be numbered with the house of Israel and be a blessed people upon this good land for ever, G: if they would repent and embrace it.—And we know it. G: He has also said that, if they do not repent, and come to the knowledge of the truth, F: and cease to fight against Zion, and also put away all murder, lying, pride, priestcraft, whoredom, and secret abomination, they shall soon perish from the earth, and be cast down to hell.—And we know it. E: He has said, that the time is at hand for the Jews to be gathered to Jerusalem.—And we know it. D: He has said, that the Ten Tribes of Israel should also be revealed in the North country, together with their oracles and records, preparatory to their return, and to their union with Judah, no more to be separated.—And we know it. He has said, that when these preparations were made, both in this country and in Jerusalem and the gospel in all its fulness preached to all nations for a witness and testimony, C: He will come, and all the Saints with him, to reign on the earth one thousand years.—And we know it. B: He has said that he will not come in his glory and destroy the wicked, till these warnings were given and these preparations were made for his reception.—And we know it. A: Now, fellow-citizens, if this knowledge, or the publishing of it is treason or crime we refuse not to die. But be ye sure of this,
#14: This concluding chiasm continues the apostles’ bold acceptance of death for the testimony contained in this proclamation. They renew their invitation to the people of the earth to assist the Saints with their “silver and gold” and testify of the great blessings that will accompany “the great restoration of all things.”
A: that whether we live or die the words of the testimony of this proclamation which we now send unto you, shall all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of his revealed word shall fail to be fulfilled. Therefore, again we say to all people, Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins; and you shall receive the Holy Spirit, and shall know the truth, and be numbered with the house of Israel. B: And we once more invite all the kings, presidents, governors, rulers, judges, and people of the earth, to aid us, the Latter-day Saints; and also, the Jews, and all the remnants of Israel, by your influence and protection, and by your silver and gold, that we may build the cities of Zion and Jerusalem, and the temples and sanctuaries of our God; and may accomplish the great restoration of all things, and bring in the latter-day glory. C: That knowledge, truth, light, love, peace, union, honor, glory, and power, may fill the earth with eternal life and joy. C: That death, bondage, oppression, wars, mourning, sorrow, and pain, may be done away for ever, and all tears be wiped from every eye. B: In fulfillment of the work assigned them, let the Saints throughout the world, and all others who feel an interest in the work of God, forward their gifts, tithes, and offerings, for the building of the temple of the Lord, which is now in progress in the city of Nauvoo, in the State of Illinois. Let them also come with their gold and silver, and goods, and workmen, to establish manufactories and business of all kinds, for the building up of the city; and for the employmentand support of the poor, and thus strengthen the hands of those who have borne the burden and heat of the day, and who have made great sacrifices in laying the foundation of the kingdom of God, and moving on the work thus far. A: We also make a solemn and an earnest request of all Editors of newspapers, both in this country and other countries to publish this proclamation. It certainly contains news, such as is not met with at all times, and in every place, and cannot fail to interest the reading public, especially those who have prayed every day of their lives for the Lord’s kingdom to to come; and for his will to be done on the earth, as it is done in heaven.
Chiasmus in the 1845 Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles strengthens an already bold statement of the divinely commissioned mission of the Latter-day Saints. It makes clear what is expected of the kings of the earth, leaving them accountable and “without excuse.” It provides a clear definition of the prophesied kingdom of God that has been established in our time. It stresses the importance and blessings associated with the ordinances of the Gospel—in particular, the gift of the Holy Ghost. Chiasmus also provides greater detail to the remarkable prophecy concerning the social and political divisions of the people leading to the battle of Armageddon in the eastern hemisphere and the building up of Zion on the western hemisphere. Most importantly, perhaps, it strengthens the faith of the Latter-day Saints by illuminating their understanding of the events of the latter days and the role the Lord expects them to play.
Ezra Taft Benson served as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from November 1985 to May 1994. Prior to this he served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles beginning in October 1943. Professionally, he worked in agriculture and government, both in his native Idaho and in Washington D.C. Significantly, from 1953 to 1961 — while serving as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — he served as the United States secretary of agriculture under President Eisenhower.
In his address at the October 1975 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Benson referenced the Lord’s commandment to Joseph Smith in January 1841 “to make a solemn proclamation of my gospel … to all the kings of the world, to the four corners thereof, to the honorable president-elect, and the high-minded governors of the nation in which you live, and to the nations of the earth scattered abroad.” This proclamation was to be written “in the spirit of meekness and by the power of the Holy Ghost” (see D&C 124:1-14).
Before he could fulfill this commandment, Joseph Smith suffered martyrdom in June 1844, but on April 6, 1845 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles published a proclamation:
“To all the Kings of the World; To the President of the United States of America; To the Governors of the several States; And to the Rulers and People of all Nations”.
After quoting several paragraphs from this bold and prophetic proclamation, President Benson declared, “It seems fitting and proper to me that we should reaffirm the great truths pronounced in this declaration and that we should proclaim them anew to the world.”
Ezra Taft Benson’s 1975 proclamation, titled “A Message to the World,” includes a bold and prophetic passage that is cited in our ebook, A Chiastic Analysis of ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ (Westbench Publishing, 2016). A careful reading of this passage shows it to be a chiasm. This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of this significant and striking chiasm.
A: The nations of the earth continue in their sinful and unrighteous ways. Much of the unbounded knowledge with which men have been blessed has been used to destroy mankind instead of to bless the children of men as the Lord intended. B: Two great world wars, with fruitless efforts at lasting peace, are solemn evidence that peace has been taken from the earth because of the wickedness of the people. Nations cannot endure in sin. They will be broken up but the kingdom of God will endure forever. C: Therefore, as humble servants of the Lord, we call upon the leaders of the nations to humble themselves before God, to seek his inspiration and guidance. D: We call upon rulers and people alike to repent of their evil ways. Turn unto the Lord, seek his forgiveness, and unite yourselves in humility with his kingdom. There is no other way. If you will do this, your sins will be blotted out, peace will come and remain, and you will become part of the kingdom of God in preparation for Christ’s second coming. D: But if you refuse to repent, to accept the testimony of his inspired messengers, or to unite yourselves with God’s kingdom, then the terrible judgments and calamities promised the wicked will be yours. C: The voice of warning is unto all people by the mouths of his servants (See D&C 1:4). If this voice is not heeded, the angels of destruction will increasingly go forth, and the chastening hand of Almighty God will be felt upon the nations, as decreed, until a full end thereof will be the result. B: Wars, devastation, and untold suffering will be your lot except you turn unto the Lord in humble repentance. Destruction even more terrible and far-reaching than attended the last great war will come with certainty unless rulers and people alike repent and cease their evil and godless ways. God will not be mocked (D&C 63:58). He will not permit the sins of sexual immorality, secret murderous combinations, the killing of the unborn, and disregard for all his holy commandments and the messages of his servants to go unheeded without grievous punishment for such wickedness. The nations of the world cannot endure in sin. A: The way of escape is clear. The immutable laws of God remain steadfastly in the heavens above. When men and nations refuse to abide by them, the penalty must follow. They will be wasted away. Sin demands punishment.
A=A: “[U]nbounded knowledge” is governed by “[t]he immutable laws of God.” The first half describes the misuse of “[m]uch of the unbounded knowledge with which men have been blessed,” resulting in the destruction of mankind. The second half, in contrast, describes “[t]he way of escape,” which is to “abide by” the “immutable,” or unchanging, “laws of God.” “[M]en and nations” have the choice to obey or rebel and are, therefore, masters of their own destiny.
B=B: “Two great world wars” equals “[w]ars, devastation, and untold suffering” and “[n]ations cannot endure in sin” equals “nations of the world cannot endure in sin.” Evidence of the wickedness of mankind are the “[t]wo great world wars” that rocked the nations in the first half of the 20th century. Without repentance, “[w]ars, devastation, and untold suffering” will continue and become “even more terrible and far-reaching.” The sins that the world is guilty of are “sexual immorality, secret murderous combinations, the killing of the unborn, and disregard for all his holy commandments and the messages of his servants.” The unrepentant “nations of the world” will “be broken up,” but the “kingdom of God will endure forever.”
C=C: The phrase “humble servants of the Lord” equals “his servants” and “we call upon the leaders of the nations to humble themselves before God, to seek his inspiration and guidance” contrasts with “[i]f this voice is not heeded, the angels of destruction will increasingly go forth, and the chastening hand of Almighty God will be felt upon the nations, as decreed, until a full end thereof will be the result.” In contrast to the “leaders of the nations,” the “servants of the Lord” are “humble” and declare “the voice of warning.” If the leaders of the nations “seek [the Lord’s] inspiration and guidance,” they can avoid the prophesied “full end” of all nations (see D&C 87:6). But, if not, “the chastening hand of Almighty God will be felt upon the nations.”
D=D:The declaration “repent” contrasts with “refuse to repent.” The central focus of this chiasm emphasizes that if the people and nations of the earth choose to repent, “your sins will be blotted out, peace will come and remain, and you will become part of the kingdom of God in preparation for Christ’s second coming.” If they choose to resist, “then the terrible judgments and calamities promised the wicked will be yours.”
Chiasmus in Ezra Taft Benson’s “A Message to the World” emphasizes the crucial choice placed before the people and nations of the latter days. Either we can repent and enjoy spiritual and national peace or we can rebel and experience complete destruction. Whatever those around us may choose, we can find personal security by choosing to abide by the “immutable laws of God” and unite ourselves with the kingdom of God, which will “endure forever.” “There is no other way” to experience peace and safety during the days of turmoil preceding “Christ’s second coming.”
Note: Ezra Taft Benson’s “A Message to the World” appears as chapter 14 of his excellent book, This Nation Shall Endure (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1977).
On January 1, 2000, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve of Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a public statement to “commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago.” Titled “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” its purpose was “to build the faith of our Heavenly Father’s children” and “add our witness to that of our predecessors” (First Presidency letter, Dec. 10, 1999).
The printed statement featured the signatures of the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at that time: Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, James E. Faust, Boyd K. Packer, L. Tom Perry, David B. Haight, Neal A. Maxwell, Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Joseph B. Wirthlin, Richard G. Scott, Robert D. Hales, Jeffrey R. Holland, and Henry B. Eyring. Although several of these men have since passed away, all “duly ordained Apostles” share this same testimony and could add their signatures “to that of [their] predecessors.” It is also the same testimony that we should seek to develop in ourselves.
“The Living Christ” consists of an elegant chiasm that emphasizes different aspects of the mission of Jesus Christ and the profound influence of the Savior in each our lives. This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of this chiasm.
Diagram and Analysis:
A: As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. B: None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth. C: He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come. D: He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth. E: We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world. F: He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10). F: Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, E: even the voice of Jehovah, saying: “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4). D: Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! “For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— C: “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24). B: We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth— “built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts. A: We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles— that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.
A=A: “[W]e offer our testimony” equals “We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles” and “His matchless life” complements “the matchless gift of His divine Son.” Those who are bearing testimony in this document are Christ’s “duly ordained Apostles.” They are testifying of “the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice,” which are a “matchless gift” from Heavenly Father.
B=B: “None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live” complements “His priesthood and His Church … He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords … [e]ach of us will stand to be judged of Him.” All mankind have been, are, and will be profoundly influenced by Jesus Christ: first, through His priesthood and Church, if they desire the ordinances and doctrines of salvation and exaltation; second, through His world government during the Millennium; third, through His eternal judgement, which decides our opportunities in the afterlife.
C=C: “[C]reator of the earth” is expanded by “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created” and “sons and daughters of God” equals “sons and daughters unto God.” Jesus Christ is not an absent or distant Creator. Rather, He makes use of His Creation to further Heavenly Father’s “work and glory” (Moses 1:39). After the spirit “sons and daughters of God” were sent to earth to gain physical bodies, Christ came to teach “the truths of eternity” and entreat “all to follow His example,” so that we can reach our “potential … in the life to come.” This pattern and purpose has been followed on each of the “worlds without number” Jesus Christ has created (Moses 1:33), although His atonement was performed on this earth.
D=D: “He gave His life” complements “he lives!” The first half of this element focuses on His overcoming of spiritual death through the atonement and the second half focuses on His overcoming of physical death through the resurrection.
E=E: “His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary” complements ““I am the first and the last.” This element describes the three phases of Christ’s eternal existence — premortal, mortal, and post-mortal — and emphasizes his significant and leading role in each. Just as Jesus Christ was the “Firstborn” spirit child of our Heavenly Father in the premortal existence, He was the “Only Begotten Son” in mortality, and the first to be resurrected. In His resurrected state, He is our “Redeemer” and “advocate with the Father.”
F=F: “Risen Lord” equals “Living Christ” and “Joseph Smith” equals “Prophet Joseph.” The central element of this chiasm emphasizes that Jesus has been resurrected, that he is the “Living Christ.” To do so, three witnesses of His resurrection are presented: first, “those He had loved in life,” or His disciples in the Holy Land; second, “His ‘other sheep’ (John 10:16) in ancient America,” a testimony recorded in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ; third, the Prophet Joseph Smith, who, as head of the “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10), is the chief testifier of the Living Christ to our modern world.
“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” offers an authoritative testimony of Jesus Christ. Chiasmus in this document emphasizes and expands our understanding of His divine mission and role in our lives. For example, Christ played a significant and leading role in the premortal realm, this mortal existence, and in our post-mortal destiny; He is an active Creator of worlds — in addition to organizing their elements and setting them in motion, He teaches their inhabitants and sets the example for them to follow; as our Priest, King, and Judge, He has a direct and profound influence upon all mankind; as our Savior and Redeemer, He overcame spiritual and physical death; as the Living Christ, He manifests himself to his chosen witnesses, both in the meridian of time and in our modern world. As “The Living Christ” declares at both its beginning and end, the life, accomplishments, and influence of Christ are truly “matchless.” With gratitude to the Father, we should seek to learn about and follow the example of His Son.