A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview
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Once upon a time the owner of a very large garden planted therein a tree, the fruit of which was very precious and of great value to all who ate of it. For a time, the tree grew and bore much good fruit. But the owner of the garden had an enemy who went about secretly sowing seeds of weeds and all manner of briers and brush, that they might spread all over the garden and kill out the good tree which the master had planted. The enemy also persuaded many of the workmen in the garden to neglect the good tree, and let the briers and weeds grow up around it and so prevent its growth. Thus in time the once precious fruit of the good tree became wild and scrubby, no better than the enemy's trees which grew around it.
Years passed, and the master, grieving that the precious fruit should have become so worthless, determined to plant the good tree once more in the garden. He did not try to clear away a spot for it amid the old, overgrown parts of the land, but he called upon certain workers to go to a distant part of the garden where nothing had been planted for a long time, and there prepare the ground for the planting of the tree.
These workers were faithful to their master and did as they were told. Very few of the enemy's noxious weeds were growing in the new soil, so it was not such hard work to clear the ground and prepare a place for the master to plant his tree.
To be better protected against the enemy, the master told his workmen to build a high, strong wall about that part of the garden. This was all done; and then one beautiful spring day the owner came with his servants. They had with them the precious tree taken from some other garden where it had grown without hindrance from weeds. The tree was planted and put in charge of other servants to tend it. The warm sun shone on it, the rains came from heaven to water it, and the tree took firm root and grew.
Now all the boys and girls who read this book will understand that the little story I have just told is what is called a Parable, meant to make plainer some facts and truths. I can not tell you all about that tree here, how it grew and bore fruit, and how many people came and ate of its delicious fruit, notwithstanding the enemy came again and tried to check its growth. I say, I cannot tell it to you in the form of a parable, but will tell it as it actually happened. You may, if you like, imagine in your own minds the rest of the parable, but the real story you will find more interesting than any made-up tale can be.
First, let me explain to you the meaning of the parable.
The garden means the earth, and the owner is the Lord, who came to the earth about nineteen hundred years ago to die for the sins of the world. He also planted the good tree, that is, He brought the gospel and taught it to his followers. The enemy is the evil one, the devil, who stirred up men to work against the gospel and to kill those who obeyed it. He also mixed his lies with Christ's truths, until in time the pure gospel was not to be found on the earth.
This was the condition of the world for hundreds of years. Then the Lord wished to restore the true gospel and again establish his Church on the earth. He therefore chose a place where all would have the right to believe the truth and be protected in that liberty. The Lord, therefore, moved upon Columbus to discover this land of America.The servants spoken of, whom the Lord sent to prepare the land for the planting, were all those great and good men whom you have read about in your American history: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and many others. You will remember how these men loved right and liberty, and how they worked so hard for it; and in reading the history of these men we can plainly see that the Lord was with them and helped them. These men built the high wall, which means that they made just laws that would protect the people and let them worship God in any way they thought right.
Thus was the way prepared for the gospel to be restored again to the earth; and the Lord himself came from heaven, also his servants Moroni, Peter, James, and John to bring the glad tidings to all who live on the earth.
Then the Lord called some more servants to preach the gospel to the world and build up his Church. The first and greatest of these servants is known by the name of Joseph Smith, the Prophet. How the Lord called him to this great work and delivered to him the gospel will be told you in the next chapter.
Topics.—1. The Parable. 2. Explanation.
Questions and Review.—1. Name some of Christ's first disciples. 2: Tell how some of them were killed. 3. How long was the world without the gospel? 4. Tell how Columbus discovered America. 5. Who were the Pilgrims? 6. What was the Revolutionary war about? 7. What is the Constitution of the United States? 8. Find out what it says about religious liberty. 9. Why is America the "Land of liberty?”