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“Books,” Ensign, Sept. 1973, 78


Doctrinal New Testament Commentary
Vol. III, Colossians–Revelation
By Bruce R. McConkie
Bookcraft, 595 pp., $7.50

“… give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fail. …” (2 Pet. 1:10.)

Making one’s “calling and election sure” is one of many topics discussed by New Testament authors and examined by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve in this third and concluding volume of the Doctrinal New Testament Commentary.

In reviewing calling and election, Elder McConkie answers several questions most often asked about the subject. The following is one of those questions and answers:

“Is having one’s calling and election made sure the same as being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise?

“The Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit; he is the Holy Spirit promised the saints at baptism, or in other words the Holy Spirit of Promise, this exalted name-title signifying that the promised receipt of the Holy Spirit, as on the day of Pentecost, is the greatest gift man can receive in mortality. …

“When the Holy Spirit of Promise places his ratifying seal upon a baptism, or a marriage, or any covenant, except that of having one’s calling and election made sure, the seal is a conditional approval or ratification; it is binding in eternity only in the event of subsequent obedience to the terms and conditions of whatever covenant is involved.

“But when the ratifying seal of approval is placed upon someone whose calling and election is thereby made sure—because there are no more conditions to be met by the obedient person—this act of being sealed up unto eternal life is of such transcendent import that of itself it is called being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, which means that in this crowning sense, being so sealed is the same as having one’s calling and election made sure. Thus, to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is to be sealed up unto eternal life; and to be sealed up unto eternal life is to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. …”

In detailing his purpose for writing the Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Elder McConkie states in the preface to Volume III: “There is a crying need in the Church today for more real gospel scholarship, for a knowledge of the doctrines of salvation.

“We need to know the doctrines found in the Standard Works, to instil into our souls the inspired teachings of the Holy Writ.”

By analyzing “doctrinal truth in the light of latter-day revelation,” Elder McConkie aids Latter-day Saints in understanding the New Testament.

24 Hours to Martyrdom
By Reed Blake
Bookcraft, 157 pp., $1.95

“At Fountain Green, … in the long-time county store of C. C. Tyler, Jr., of the firm of Tyler and McClaughey, the bookkeeper, C. C. Tyler, Sr., closed out the day’s journal and in the margin added the entry:

“‘This night, at five o’clock P.M., Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith, his brother, were mobbed and shot at Carthage, Ill.’”

These are only bare facts to describe such a horrendous act as that perpetrated against two of God’s noblest servants, but it is indicative of author Reed Blake’s research to obtain as many perspectives as possible of that well-known but scantily documented event. In assessing the facts culled from his extensive bibliographical material, the author asked himself three fundamental questions: “Is it supported by other material? Does it ‘fit’ the events surrounding it? What are the biases which it represents?”

The hour-by-hour events recounted up to the time of the assassination and the hours following will, according to the author, “provide the reader with an accurate historical chronicle of the events of this dramatic twenty-four-hour period in a journalistic style.”

A chapter entitled “The Days Before” and another called “The Hours After” help to bring the speculations, rumors, and facts of that day into better focus for the reader. We also glean some unusual information—the “house rules” at Carthage Jail, for example: “The men [Joseph and his associates] finished their meal and, as with each meal, paid the jailer. Then they returned to the upstairs room.”

That fateful morning Joseph, Hyrum, Willard Richards, Stephen Markham, and John Fullmer breakfasted in the dining room with jailer Stignall and a Mr. Crane. John Taylor took breakfast upstairs. Only at certain times were the prisoners confined to a cell, and passes were signed by Governor Ford to allow only certain persons to visit them.

The depression and acute feeling of loneliness suffered by the brethren in the upstairs bedroom at the jail that fateful afternoon found little expression. Mostly there was a heavy silence.

A gloom and prescience of trouble also affected three members of the Council of the Twelve who were meeting in Boston during this fated hour. “Orson Hyde said he had a heavy heart and knew not why. Then he went to the other end of the hall and walked the floor, tears streaming down his face. A few minutes later, Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff left the hall to catch a train. While waiting at the depot they commented to one another how very depressed they felt.”

In Nauvoo, where Governor Ford and his ruffians were desecrating the temple font, one of the marauders said, speaking of the Prophet, “But he is dead by this time.” William Sterrett, a faithful Saint, overheard that remark and shouted in anger and disbelief, “They cannot kill him until he has finished his work!”

And as the men trooped outside again, Brother Sterrett said—but more subdued this time—“They cannot. … They couldn’t kill him at Liberty, and they cannot kill him at Carthage.”

But they could and did, as testified to by the heartrending reactions of the widows of the martyrs. Grief-stricken Emma Smith, with her hand against Joseph’s cheek, murmured, “Oh, Joseph, Joseph, my husband, my husband, have they taken you from me at last?” And Mary Fielding Smith, still in shock and confused, whispered the piteous question, “Hyrum, Hyrum. Have they shot you, my dear Hyrum? Are you dead, my dear Hyrum?”

This, That, and Everything—
A Book for Young People
By Don J. Black
Young House, 258 pp., $2.95

With an aim “to make the years between thirteen and nineteen the best imaginable,” Don J. Black, in This, That, and Everything, answers questions on dating, cars, parents, jobs, and other subjects.

He warns against smoking, drug usage, dropping out, and premature love, but in a way that presents facts and lets the youth decide.

From a chapter entitled “Over Forty Ways to Earn Extra Money—by Friday Night,” here are some of his suggestions:

“Do some child photography. …

“Get together with a buddy and paint a house … This should bring about $50.00 to $85.00, depending on the size of the house, and would probably take three to five days. …

“Clean up at building sites. …

“Type labels for drug stores or small businesses. …

“Be a clown or a magician at a children’s birthday party. …”

And “don’t forget to pay your tithing!”

Outstanding Stories by General Authorities, Vol. III
Compiled by Leon R. Hartshorn
Deseret Book, 270 pp., $4.95

In this third volume of Outstanding Stories, readers will find selections from the missionary experiences of Elders Hugh B. Brown and LeGrand Richards of the Council of the Twelve; stories of brotherly love by Elder Henry D. Taylor, Assistant to the Twelve; and many illustrations from the sermons of these and other Church leaders.

One story from the addresses of Elder Brown tells of a fellow officer during World War I who felt there was nothing money couldn’t buy. In France Elder Brown and this officer stood in a cathedral, under enemy fire, watching a woman pray at the altar. As she got up to leave, they asked her if she was in trouble.

Straightening her frail shoulders, she said, “No, I’m not in trouble. I was in trouble when I came here, but I’ve left it there at the altar. I received word this morning that my fifth son has given his life for France. Their father went first, and then one by one all of them have gone. But, I have no trouble; I’ve left it there because I believe in the immortality of the soul. I believe that men will live after death. I know that I shall meet my loved ones again.”

Elder Brown then tells how, when the woman left the cathedral, there were tears in the eyes of those who had heard her, and the one who had thought he could get anything for money turned to him and said, “You and I have seen men in battle display courage and valor that is admirable, but in all my life I have never seen anything to compare with the faith, the fortitude, and the courage of that little woman.”

Then he added, “I would give all the money I have if I could have something of what she has.”