God Helps Them That Help Themselves
Above is a statement, though not scripture, is based on scripture. The belief has been expounded by all so many that God will fight our battles and all we need do is trust in Him, sit back, and do nothing, that all will be taken care of. Although the Lord has told us that He will watch over us, there has never been any guarantee that He would provide all while we do nothing for ourselves. The promise has been more that He will only help us AFTER we have done all we can for ourselves. That the above proverb, as it were, was believed by the early brethren is evidenced by their statements in this regard. The first is a discourse by Orson Hyde concerning D&C Section 105:13&14 to which he commented:
Although, here is a great and precious promise; yet do not suppose that we are to sit down in idleness or indifference and share this promise; but remember this common-sense, home-made scripture, “God helps those who help themselves.” Therefore, let us neglect no duty on our part, but be ready, not only for the powers of darkness, but for the day of judgment and eternal glory in the mansions of our God. (JD 5:141)
Brigham Young stated:
If you do not take care of yourselves, brethren, you will not be taken care of. I take care of them that help themselves. I will help you that try to help yourselves, and carry out the maxim of Doctor Dick — “God helps them that help themselves.” (JD 1:172)
Brigham credited one, Doctor Dick, with this maxim. Although this writer is at a loss to identify “Doctor Dick,” we can with impunity suggest that it is indeed a true principle, and that President Young advocated it continually. Of this Orson Hyde related:
President Young saw it and he said it pleased him; and he said, “I know that God helps those who help themselves.” We may sit down and persuade ourselves that it is God’s will we should do nothing for ourselves, and we may go to beggary; but if we help ourselves, and bestow the labor for nature to bring forth we shall have abundance, and God will be faithful in blessing our labors. (JD 2:65)
So what is being said is that God will bless us in our labors and carry on where we can go no further. God even does better than meet us half way. He says:
...I shall lengthen out my arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me... (2 Nephi 28:32)
Now He would not have need to continually lengthen His arm day to day except that the people move from Him instead of toward Him. Heber C. Kimball elaborates on this principle:
It is a true saying that “God helps them that help themselves;” and the Savior says, “Draw near unto me, and I will draw near unto you.” (JD 10:101)
Now it is certain that the Lord help only those that make an effort on their own to do the Lord’s will. And He can do no different. First, it would be a definite infringement on our free agency to do otherwise. Second, we would be thwarted in our growth towards godhood to have everything provided for us without any effort on our own part.
We find that after the depredations of Independence and Haun’s Mill, the Prophet Joseph saw fit to establish a permanent “army of Zion” called the Nauvoo Legion. A clause in the incorporation of the city established by the state of Illinois provided for an independent militia to which would even be provided public arms. It should, however, be noted that later when required by the state to forfeit those public arms, the new military leader appointed by the state observed:
Nearly all of whom were well armed, although all the state arms had been taken away; which caused Captain Singleton and his company to express their astonishment. The captain made a remark to the effect that it would not do to come against such a force as this. (Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. 2, Ch. 58, Pg. 289)
Further evidence that the Saints “helped themselves” through the use of arms was when Captain Singleton:
...reported to me afterwards, that he called out the Legion for inspection, and that upon two hours’ notice two thousand of them assembled, all of them armed, and after the public arms had been taken away from them. So it appears that they has a sufficiency of private arms for any reasonable purpose. (History of the Church, Vol. 7, Ch. 2, Pg. 12)
A “sufficiency of private arms” seems to be an understatement since Captain Singleton previously indicated that “it would not do to come against such a force as this.” And this after the Saints had all their arms forcefully taken from them in Missouri. They saw sufficient need, with the Prophet at their head, to take care of themselves in a more definite way after their experiences in Missouri. This without one bit of lack of faith in the Lord. In fact their days in Nauvoo were perhaps the best in regards to spiritual growth as the Lord, through His prophet, revealed some of the most important doctrines of salvation that would come to His Church.
The Nauvoo Legion provided the stop gap from the mobs in Illinois that threatened to do even worse than those in Missouri, this after the murders of Joseph and Hyrum. This Nauvoo Legion was reorganized under Brigham Young after the Saint’s departure from Nauvoo and was a main source of “helping themselves” even long after their settlement in the Salt Lake Valley.
The Prophets and His people, the Saints, felt no reservations in being armed as the Founding Fathers, those whom the Lord had told them through revelation, “were raised up for this very purpose,” assured them that this was a very important right and responsibility given them in an inspired Constitution. As with the experiences of civilizations past, these men knew that guns were essential to liberty, in addition to the help of God. George Washington, who used guns along with many supplications to Heaven to give us freedoms vouchsafed by the Constitution said:
Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence... From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable... the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.
That guns were necessary to preserve us from evil government, not just foreign but domestic is without doubt. Here are the words of our Founding Fathers in this regard:
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
What country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance?
No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
— Thomas Jefferson
The right of the people to keep and bear ... arms shall not be infringed. A well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country...
American need never fear their government because of the advantage of being armed, which the American people possess over the people of almost every other nation.
— James Madison
The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they are properly armed.
— Alexander Hamilton
To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young how to use them...
— Richard Henry Lee
Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The Supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.
— Noah Webster
It is interesting that the very government, that we know for certain is riddled with the secret combinations that Moroni warned us of, is the instrument in which these “liberty teeth” are being threatened. That the very one’s of which the Founding Fathers warned us that we most needed guns to defend ourselves against, are the ones instrumental in taking our guns away, should be of concern to everyone with eyes to see and ears to hear.
Now this same government in the news recently has been provided with greater impetus to deny this very important God-given right. The so-called militia groups have been connected to violence, in this case as they emphasize, against innocent children. The question is raised as to who under the second amendment has the right to keep and bear arms under the category of militia. Let us look at other statements from Founding Fathers:
Arms in the hands of citizens [may] be used at individual discretion ... in private defense...
— John Adams
The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun.
— Patrick Henry
I ask, sir, what is a militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.
— George Mason
So a militia is all the people, except for a few public servants that as servants voluntarily give up some rights while they serve, that they may not become armed tyrants. This right to bear arms is to be used at the individual’s discretion in private defense by everyone who is able to have a gun. There is, however, no guarantee of the same to an organized paramilitary group to which there can be infiltration and manipulation by evil influences. When the books of truth are opened for all to see it may well be discovered once again that the very combination that seeks to deny all men of free agency exercised influence and dominion within such organizations to cause the very effect they wish to succeed, the willing participation of these very men in giving up what free agency they have to gain a little security. Laws were meant only for the lawless, and all others were guaranteed their rights under an inspired Constitution. With this right was the responsibility given as stated above, to protect and fight for those rights. Samuel Adams made it clear:
The said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize congress to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceful citizens from keeping their own arms.
Yet congress has been working overtime to do just that. Even helping to create a situation that will further convince the people that slavery is right. Not a new argument if my premortal memory, although sometimes a little fuzzy, proves accurate. Although the recent terrorist attack did not include guns in its commission, the congress has used this situation as an excuse to back away from the previous commitments that got them elected concerning the reversal of previous anti-gun legislation. The situation could not have been better for the purposes of maintaining the current status quo against private gun ownership, with the likelihood of further legislation and executive orders aimed at guns and explosive materials (including quite possibly fertilizer), as well as organized groups of like-minded people that would pose a threat to the plans of secret combinations seeking total domination of all peoples.
As discussed before, the early Church Brethren encouraged the storing up of arms as a protection against the enemy, whomever they may be. It is not perhaps ironic that the enemy today is in many instances the same as then and many times before, the government and the mobs unchecked and in many ways encouraged by government officials. That any, or even all of us could arm ourselves sufficiently against the government arsenals is doubtful, but against roving bands of marauders in the day of civil unrest precipitated by unrighteous government, or against local government officials that might seek unrighteous dominion against us, may be the only short term stop-gap we have at our disposal. Brigham Young stated:
If you wish to know what must be done hereafter, I will tell you in a few words — keep your powder, and lead, and your guns in good order. Go about your work, plough your fields, work in your mechanic shops, and be ready in the morning, at noon, or in the night, that whenever you are called upon, you can put your hand upon your musket and ammunition at the shortest notice. “Be ye also ready, for in an hour you think not behold the thief comes.” (JD 1:108)
Preparedness of course means being ready at all times. Although food is a vital element of preparedness, the facts as well as the words of inspired men make it obvious that food, without the means to defend it would be short-lived in a time of famine and civil unrest. This coupled with the determination of a combination called unrighteous government would seek to have us defenseless. That we store up arms and not sell them or give them up to unrighteous laws in hopes that all others desire the kind of peace we seek, seems to be the counsel of these inspired men. President Young said:
As for this people fostering to themselves that the day has come for them to sell their guns to their enemies, and sit down to sleep in peace, they will find themselves deceived, and before they know, they will sleep until they are slain. They have got to carry weapons with them, to be ready to send their enemies to hell cross lots, whether they be Lamanites, or mobs who may come to take their lives, or destroy their property. We must be so prepared that they dare not come to us in a hostile manner without being assured they will meet vigorous resistance, and ten to one they will meet their grave. (JD 1:171-172)
That a show of strength seems to be a better deterrent to the wicked for the immediate extingency than a faith in God by the victims being attacked has proven time and again. That faith in God by the righteous thus strengthening an appeal to arms seems the best defense.
We must prepare against the thief that shall come in the night in all ways and while we still can, for when the midnight hour comes, and we are asleep, or as one can see today when people are asleep in composure, then it will be too late. Heber C. Kimball spoke of this when he admonished:
What does this mean? And the spirit of composure seems to be upon the people more than ever. And what does this mean? I am rather inclined to be jealous of it. Say I, “WAKE UP, ye Saints of Zion, while it is called today, lest trouble and sorrow come upon you as a thief in the night.”
Suppose it is not coming, will it hurt you to lay up the products of the earth for seven years? Will it hurt you, if you have your guns, swords, and spears in good condition, according to the law of the United States? ...we call upon all from six to six hundred years old: we do not except any; and I want the world to know that we are ready for anything that comes along. If it is good, we are ready for that; and if it is evil, we are ready to stand against it.
Let us be faithful, and the Lord will be on our side, and I doubt whether we shall be under necessity of shedding much blood ourselves; but let us be ready, guns cocked; none of your half-cocked. (JD 5:164-166)
It is obvious, that law [singular] of the United States is the Second Amendment. That we should now, at this very time, take advantage of that law while we still have some protection of rights should be obvious to all that can clearly see the trend that is developing until the time that we will no longer be able to do that which inspired men have counseled. Wilford Woodruff said then, and I believe is true of a few today:
I am glad, and my soul rejoices in these things, and I believe that the people are ready to shoulder their guns ... in defence of the Constitution of the United States and the rights which both the laws of God and man guarantee to us. (JD 5:270)
That this is not a new battle is evidenced by a vision once observed by some of the early Brethren, even before they had become members of the Church, as related by Heber C. Kimball:
The Saints have to come to a careful discipline, and the day will come when the wicked will have to come to it, and if they do not learn to step right, they will be made to do it. I was speaking about it yesterday, when I went with brother Brigham to see the review; they are improving, no doubt, though our troops were not all there. We were speaking about an open vision that we saw some years ago; it was not seen in the dark, but we saw it with our natural eyes; President Young, myself, brother Phineas Young, and many others saw it. We saw an army start from the east, and go to the south, and there were twelve men in a column, and one column came right after the other, so that when the first stepped, the next stepped in their track; and they had swords, guns knapsacks, caps, and feathers, and we could see them march with a uniform step from one side of the heavens to the other. This we saw with our natural eyes, and looked upon it for hours; it was the very night that the angel delivered the plates to Joseph Smith.
This army marched to the southwest, and they marched as if there was a battle to take place; and we could hear the clashing of their swords and guns, and the measured head of their march, just as plain as I ever heard the movements of troops on the earth. John P. Greene came to wake me to look upon it. I am speaking of this to show you how exact in our discipline and government we must be to prepare us for a celestial being; we have got to begin to come to it, and I would like to know when you will begin to prepare yourselves. The whole world have got to see and feel the armies of heaven, and when they come they will come with order, and when they are commanded to act there will be no running away, and there will be no traitors in that army, but it will be composed of virtuous Saints, who are clothed with the power of God, and have the integrity of heavenly beings. ... Things in heaven are in order, there is a pure government there, and it must be observed, and strictly adhered to; this you read in your Bibles. When the order of that government was threatened, did not Michael the archangel, with the hosts of heaven that were with him, cast Lucifer out, and all his votaries? (JD 2:161-162)
This order of heaven is made clear here. It differs not much from that on this earth, and the righteous Saints here will be part of that army. For those who think the weapons of heaven are more sophisticated and above the use of arms, this vision seen by very respectable men should be as a lesson. And if will are to wield arms there, we must be willing to prepare and wield arms here if necessary, as a type and shadow of things to come. To come to the discipline and government of a celestial sphere.
It is obvious that this is what the Lord expects of us, a continuation of the pre-mortal existence and continuing fight for free agency, until the truly valiant have finally overcome the adversary and established His kingdom in righteousness. Upon our shoulders must rest the burden for a General cannot fight the battle alone. Thomas Paine stated:
... Throw not your burden of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. (The Crisis, December 1776)
The battle continues to this day, just as it did with His people in many times past and it is imperative to "show your faith by your works." The Book of Mormon makes it clear of its history as well as an example to us in this day fighting much the same war:
Wherefore, the people of Nephi did fortify against them with their arms, and with all their might, trusting in the God and Rock of their salvation; wherefore, they became as yet, conquerors of their enemies. (Jacob 7:25)
It is certain, that it is the inseparable combination of faith and works, knowledge that our Father in Heaven is our ultimate Protector and the willingness to fight with all our might, even to the very shedding of blood if necessary, is the only way to victory. The greatest of these examples continues to be Moroni and his people:
And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.
And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion. (Alma 43:46-47)
Keep in mind that Moroni cannot be looked upon as another blood- thirsty man, but he was highly favored of God as reported by His prophets. Perhaps there is no greater statement made of any one man in the scriptures than that of Moroni:
And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
Yea, a man whose heart did swell in the thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would be shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men. (Alma 48:11-13 & 17)
Moroni and his people were not afraid or hesitant to do all the Lord commanded them even if it meant taking up arms and shedding blood or giving their own lives. They showed their faith through works, and a perfect example of that was the sons of Helaman:
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death, and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their own lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it. (Alma 56: 47-48)
Well it was within this time of the knowledge of the ways of the Lord that Moroni gave us solid evidence that “the Lord helps them that help themselves.”
...do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us?
Yea, will ye sit in idleness while ye are surrounded with thousands of those, yea, and tens of thousands, who do sit in idleness, while there are thousands round about in the borders of the land who are falling by the sword, yea, wounded and bleeding?
Do ye suppose that God will look upon you as guiltless while ye sit still and behold these things? Behold I say unto, Nay. Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also.
Behold, could ye suppose that ye could sit upon your thrones, and because of the exceeding goodness of God ye could do nothing and he would deliver you? Behold, if ye have supposed this ye have supposed in vain. (Alma 60:21-23 & 11)
Moroni, as described earlier, would gladly sit back and let the Lord handle it without the need of arms and shedding of blood, but he knew that it was not the Lord’s way for His people to do nothing, but only through combining their own efforts with faith in the Lord would they accomplish what the Lord expected of them:
We would not shed the blood of our brethren if they would not ... take the sword against us.
We would subject ourselves to the yoke of bondage if it were requisite with the justice of God, or if he should command us so to do.
But behold he doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies, but that we should put our trust in him, and he will deliver us. (Alma 61:11-13)
As a result of his adherence to God’s principles:
...he did raise the standard of liberty in whatsoever place he did enter, and gained what-soever force he could in all his march towards the land of Gideon.
And it came to pass that thousands did flock unto his standard, and did take up their swords in the defence of freedom, that they might not come into bondage.
And thus ... Moroni and Pahoran ... restored peace to the land of Zarahemla, among their own people, having inflicted death upon those who were not true to the cause of freedom. (Alma 62:4-5 & 11)
And this by the dictates of God, not some earthly lust for bloodshed. This is the way of the Lord. The essence is once again that we must do all that we can for ourselves and have faith that the Lord will do the rest. Brigham Young stated:
Instead of searching after what the Lord is going to do for us, let us inquire what we can do for ourselves. (Discourses of Brigham Young, pg. 293)
As the great Moroni stated above, President Brigham Young made this principle of God clear in this day:
But some may say, “I have faith the Lord will turn them away.” What ground have we to hope in this? Have I any good reason to say to my Father in heaven, “Fight my battles,” when He has given me the sword to wield, the arm and the brain that I can fight for myself? Can I ask Him to fight my battles and sit quietly down waiting for Him to do so? I cannot. I can pray the people to hearken to wisdom, to listen to counsel; but to ask God to do for me that which I can do for myself is preposterous to my mind. (JD 12:240-241)
To this we must concur as well as these words of truth given by Patrick Henry in the precursor of this great battle we find ourselves in:
There is no longer any room for [just] hope. If we wish to be free — if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending — if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon, until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained — we must fight! — I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Host, is all that is left us! (Speech to Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775)
And as with them, so it shall be with us, that is ALL we need. ©