A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview
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You will all be interested in knowing what was written on the plates which the prophet Joseph Smith received from the angel Moroni, so in this chapter I will tell you very briefly. Some time you will want to read the whole book, which of course is the better way.
You have read in your histories and geographies that ruins of great cities have been found in many places in America, showing that at one time there were people here more civilized than the Indians. The writings on these plates told the history of these peoples.
Six hundred years before Christ was born, there lived in the city of Jerusalem a prophet by the name of Lehi. He had at that time four sons, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi. The Lord told Lehi that because of the wickedness of the city, it would soon be destroyed, and if he wished to be saved he must take his family and travel into the wilderness. This Lehi did. They went south-eastward until they got to the sea where they built a ship in which to cross to a promised land. While camping in the wilderness Lehi sent his sons back to Jerusalem to get some records of their forefathers, and it was through the faithfulness of Nephi that this was done.
After many days of sailing, they at last landed on the west coast of South America in what is now called Chili.
The two older boys, Laman and Lemuel were often disobedient to their father, and many times they brought trouble to the little company. They also treated their younger brother, Nephi, badly because he would not agree with them but tried to do as his father told him.
When Lehi died, Nephi was chosen their leader, but soon Laman and Lemuel became dissatisfied and again began making trouble. The Lord then told Nephi to take all who would listen to him and leave the other brothers and those who upheld them in their evil deeds.
In this way there became two peoples in the land. Those who went with Nephi were called Nephites, and those who remained with Laman became Lamanites. The Nephites built houses, planted fields, and lived as civilized people, and the Lord often revealed his will to them through prophets and holy men. The Lamanites became lazy, lived in tents in the forests, and killed wild animals for their food. Their skins also became dark.
The greater part of the Book of Mormon is about these two peoples, their wars with each other, etc. The Nephites ought to have remained a good people, because the Lord blessed them so much: yet they often did wrong. The Lord would prosper them until they became rich; then they would become proud and at last wicked. Then the Lord would allow the Lamanites to come upon them, and there would be bloody wars. So the story goes for hundreds of years.
Both nations became very large and occupied the greater part of North and South America.
At times the Lord would raise up prophets who would preach to the wicked. Usually these teachers were Nephites, but sometimes they were Lamanites. Sometimes great numbers of Lamanites were converted to the Lord, and when they once accepted thetruth, they did not fall away so easily as their Nephite brethren. At one time two thousand young men whose parents were converted Lamanites did valiant service for their country and their religion. There isn't room to tell you about the story here; but you may read about it in the Book of Mormon, beginning with the 53rd chapter of Alma.
When Nephi separated from his brethren, he went north and settled in a place they called the Land of Nephi; but after a time the Lamanites again annoyed them so much that the Lord told Mosiah, who was their leader then to take the more faithful part of the people and again go northward. This they did, and found a city called Zarahemla which had been built by a people who had also come from Jerusalem at the time that city was destroyed. The Nephites joined with the people of Zarahemla, and for a long time this city was the capital of the Nephite people.
In time the Lamanites occupied all of South America except a small part in the north, on which the Nephites lived. The Nephites' land also extended far up into North America.
A little over six hundred years after Lehi landed on this continent, Jesus appeared unto some of the righteous. Before this, however, there had been a great storm all over the land, and many of the wicked had been destroyed. Jesus had been crucified at Jerusalem, had risen from the dead, and now he came to the Nephites with his resurrected body. He taught them the same gospel that he had taught in Palestine and chose twelve disciples to preach and build up his church. For nearly two hundred years the people all belonged to the Church of Christ, and peace was over all the land. Then they became wicked again. The Lamanites kept driving the Nephites further north, until they reached what is now the United States. Around a hill in the western part of the State of New York, then called Cumorah, what was left of the Nephites gathered for the last struggle. The Lamanites met them, and there was a great battle in which all but a very few of the Nephites were killed. Thus ended the Nephite nation, not quite four hundred years after Christ, and the Lamanites or Indians have lived here ever since.
During all this time the Lord had some good men keep a record of what happened among the people. In those days they did not write on paper, so these histories were recorded on plates of metal. These plates were handed from one man to another, until about the time of the last great battle, a prophet by the name of Mormon had all the records. He wrote a short account from them called an abridgment. What he took from each man's record he called after the writer's name, as the Book of Alma, Book of Helaman, etc., which we might call names of chapters in Mormon's book. Mormon gave all his writings to his son Moroni, who wrote a little more on the plates. Moroni also made a short account of another people who had lived in America before the Nephites. They were called the Jaredites. Their history is told in the Book of Ether.
After Moroni had seen his people destroyed he hid all the records in the hill Cumorah.
Topics.—1. What history and geography prove regarding the Book of Mormon. 2. The Lamanites. 3. The Nephites. 4. Mormon. 5. Moroni.
Questions and Review.—1. Who was Lehi? 2. Name his sons. (Jacob and Joseph were born after he left Jerusalem.) 3. Tell about Laman and Lemuel. 4. What kind of boy was Nephi? 5. Why did they leave Jerusalem? 6. Why did Lehi want the records of his forefathers? 7. Who were the Lamanites? 8. Describe them. 9. Tell about the Nephites. 10. In what land did these people live? 11. Why were the Nephites destroyed? 12. Whatis the Book of Mormon? 13. Who wrote it? 14. Who had charge of the plates? 15. Where were they hidden? 16. Who translated them into the English language?