Alma 8: 14-17 — LeGrand Baker — guardian angels

 Alma 8: 14-17 — LeGrand Baker — guardian angels

Alma 8: 14-17
14  And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying:
15  Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you.
16  And behold, I am sent to command thee that thou return to the city of Ammonihah, and preach again unto the people of the city; yea, preach unto them. Yea, say unto them, except they repent the Lord God will destroy them.
17  For behold, they do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of thy people, (for thus saith the Lord) which is contrary to the statutes, and judgments, and commandments which he has given unto his people.

When Hugh Nibley taught about this verse he said

Obviously this angel was assigned to Alma. He said, I’m the same one who visited you before, and now here I am again. He was watching over Alma. We used to say much more about guardian angels in the Church. We used to teach much more of that doctrine, always taught it to our kids. We don’t do it anymore. I don’t know why not, because it’s a very real thing, the presence of another world. (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon–Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988–1990 [Provo: Foundation for Ancient Re 303)

The idea that there are guardian angels was very prevalent among the early leaders of the church, and still is today. Last night in Priesthood Conference, President James E. Faust said (as nearly as I could recall it as I wrote it down), “We do not constantly recognize how much these divine messengers influence our lives.” Then he quoted one of the brethren saying those messengers are often deceased family members who care a great deal for our welfare.

Mine personal belief about that is rather simplistic. It seems to me to be reasonable to suppose that we all had lots of good friends with whom we associated, and whom we loved, when we were in the spirit world before we came here. It seems to me to be equally reasonable to suppose that I would not have been brave enough to believe I would not need a great deal of help after I left that world, and tried to muddle through this world’s experiences. So with those notions as a premises, I have concluded that many of the family associations and friendships I have in this world are covenant based. That is, I believe that while we were in the spirit world we made covenants with each other that we would support each other as family and friends—to help each other throughout all or part (perhaps only just a specific, but short segment, like through high school, or while we were living in such and such a ward) of our experiences, and trials, and triumphs, as we work our way through our earthly lives. So, I believe, when, by happenstance, we meet someone who becomes a dear friend, that it was not by happenstance at all. Rather, it happened to facilitate our keeping the covenants we made with each other. Now the question is: if that is true, who caused it to happen? The answer is that either God himself must do it all, or he is following the same pattern in those relationships as he has established on the earth now. We call that pattern home teaching, but I suspect it is much more efficient and caring than ours could ever be.

It also seems reasonable to me that not all of our dearest friends were assigned to come into this world at the same time and place that we were. (With members of our extended family, that is obviously so.) Those differences in our assignments would not have changed our concern for each other’s well being. Since I can’t believe I thought I could get through this life without a great deal of help from those friends also, I suppose the help we receive from such family members and friends is also covenant based.

So my conclusion is this: because we need help from people we love, and because we need to help people we love, covenantal arrangements were made to assure us that we would get all the help we were willing to accept. The object of our lives here-even though we have lost most of our memory and are pretty much trying to find our way in the dark-is to learn to be charity, and to learn how to express that charity by living the law of consecration. That law, as I understand it, is this: that we bless the lives of others as their needs and our circumstances allow, and that we accept blessings from others on those same principles. There is appreciation felt by both, but no sense of indebtedness on the part of either the one who gives or the one who receives. So we rejoice in giving, and we rejoice in receiving from family and friends. I understand that as this law is eternal, so its application is eternal also. When I consider the intricate precision of the timing of events that caused me to just happened to meet some of my dearest friends, I conclude that there must be a magnificent home teaching program coordinating the activities of a whole cadre of guardian angels in order to bring our lives together so we could meet at the right moment in the right place. That is one very important way that I believe our lives are blessed by the people who care about us, but whom we cannot see.

What follows are some quotes about guardian angels from some of the brethren. All, except the first one by President McKay, are in roughly chronological order.

This story was told by President McKay about an experience he had when he was a young missionary in Scotland.

       I remember as if it were but yesterday, the intensity of the inspiration of that occasion. Everybody felt the rich outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord. All present were truly of one heart and one mind. Never before had I experienced such an emotion. It was a manifestation for which as a doubting youth I had secretly prayed most earnestly on hillside and in meadow. It was an assurance to me that sincere prayer is answered “sometime, somewhere.”
During the progress of the meeting, an elder on his own initiative arose and said, Brethren, there are angels in this room.” Strange as it may seem, the announcement was not startling; indeed, it seemed wholly proper; though it had not occurred to me there were divine beings present. I only knew that I was overflowing with gratitude for the presence of the Holy Spirit. I was profoundly impressed, however, when President James L. McMurrin [President McKay’s mission president] arose and confirmed that statement by pointing to one brother sitting just in front of me and saying, “Yes, brethren, there are angels in this room, and one of them is the guardian angel of that young man sitting there,” and he designated one who today is a patriarch of the Church.
Pointing to another elder, he said, “And one is the guardian angel of that young man there,” and he singled out one whom I had known from childhood. Tears were rolling down the cheeks of both of these missionaries, not in sorrow or grief, but as an expression of the overflowing Spirit; indeed, we were all weeping” ( David O. McKay, Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay, rev. and enl., compiled by Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955], 13.)

In another place he added this personal detail:

       Designating two of the brethren, he said their guardian angels were present, then turning to me he continued, “\’Let me say to you, Brother David, Satan has desired you that he may sift you as wheat, but God is mindful of you, and if you will keep the faith, you will yet sit in the leading councils of the Church.’” (Jeanette McKay Morrell, Highlights in the Life of President David O. McKay [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1966], 37 – 38.)

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In November 17, 1844, in Nauvoo, Zina Jacobs who later married Brigham Young, recorded this in her journal:

       I went to hear Orson Hyde. He spoke concerning our guardian Angels that attended each Saint, and would until the Spirit became grieved. Then they take there departure and the person is left to hardness of hart and blindness of mind.” (Nauvoo diary of Zina Jacobs (Young), published under the title “‘All Things Move in Order in the City’: The Nauvoo Diary of Zina Diantha Jacobs,” ed. Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, in BYU Studies 19 [Spring 1979]: 298)

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Orson Hyde continued to teach that same principle after the Saints came to Utah. In an 1854 conference, he said:

       Have angels anything to do with what will take place in the last days? He makes His angels ministering spirits, and they are sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation. The Lord is everywhere present by His ministering angels, just like any other ruler, monarch or king, who has ministers everywhere throughout His dominions; and God’s ministers are everywhere. (Journal of Discourses, 2: 64 – 65.)

Again in 1860, when the missionaries were called home because of trouble with the federal government:

       To you, my faithful brethren abroad, the Spirit of Christ has often whispered, during the last six months, “Go home—go home.” Your guardian angels have said it to you in dreams and in visions, and we expect to see you come. Scores have already arrived. God bless them and you too, if you listen to the whisperings of that voice that speaks truth to the heart.  (Journal of Discourses, 6: 16.)

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Orson Pratt, during a conference in 1855, expressed this opinion:

       We heard a most excellent discourse last Sunday about the angels being sent to the various nations of the earth, to superintend the affairs and destinies thereof; also about each person upon the face of the whole earth having his guardian angel from the time that he comes into the world. The Holy Spirit acts in conjunction with those angels, and in places where they cannot be, for there are a great many places where those angels cannot be present, and the Holy Spirit being omnipresent is in every place at the same moment of time, regulating the seasons, and governing the planets in their courses. There would have to be a vast number of angels to be present in every place at the same instant of time, directing the movements of each particle of matter throughout the vast extent of space; consequently this is attended to by that All-powerful Spirit that exists in inexhaustible quantities throughout the universe.” (Journal of Discourses, 2: 344.)

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Heber C. Kimball frequently described the help he and others received from the angels during their mission in England. Here is one example:

       You have frequently heard of brother Hyde, brother Russell, and myself being afflicted with devils in England. There were legions of them came upon us and sought to destroy us: but we were not alone; our guardian angels were there to assist us, and they delivered us out of the danger, and out of the power of our enemies.  (Journal of Discourses, 8: 258.)

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Brigham Young said:

       Shall we be in the presence of God, as brother Spencer is? Yes, if we are faithful, for we have the privilege of being crowned with immortality and eternal lives. All people have their guardian angels. Whether our departed dead guard us is not for me to say. I can say we have our guardian angels. (Journal of Discourses, 13: 76.)

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George Q. Cannon, in a conference in1890, described the angels this way:

       The agencies which our Father in heaven has at His control are utterly beyond our conception. Every department of His heavenly and illimitable Kingdom is under the immediate supervision of His agents. . . . Lord Jesus plainly informs us concerning certain agencies which the Father uses to watch over his little ones—guardian angels, who always behold His face in heaven. They watch over those who are put in their charge, and no one can offend or despise them with impunity.” [George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, Jerreld L. Newquist, ed., (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987), 65.]

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Joseph F. Smith wrote to his son that he believed guardian angels:

       In reply to your question: “Do we all have guardian angels, and is the Key to Theology authentic on this subject, pages 117 to 119?”
“To both of these propositions, I can answer yes, so far as I have been taught and am able to learn. Jesus said (“Matt. 18:10Matthew 18:10): “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you that in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in Heaven.” This is no exception to the rule. The rule applies to all of God’s children or little ones. But, the guardian angels of the pure, the innocent “which believe in me,” as Jesus said, verse 6, are they which “do always behold the face of my Father.” While those guardian angels of the disobedient, and etc., I would infer, cannot always bring up in remembrance before the Father such as are disobedient, and believe not in Christ.  [Joseph F. Smith, From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, compiled by Hyrum M. Smith III and Scott G. Kenney (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981), 39 – 40.]

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President Heber J. Grant and his counselors, J. Reuben Clark, Jr. and David O. McKay, wrote a broadside in October, 1941. Its final paragraph read:

The Lord loves you. His angels are always near to help you. Your guardian angels stand by you to see that no harm shall touch you, no evil thought disturb you.

[signed] HEBER J. GRANT, October, 1941 J. REUBEN CLARK, JR., DAVID O. MCKAY, First Presidency. [James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 6: 134. Original in J. Reuben Clark, Jr., papers, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

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President Spencer W. Kimball warned:

The car can transport its occupants to home, school or temple. It can also take them to remote places, to moral dangers where consciences are silenced, righteous inhibitions deadened and guardian angels anesthetized. In short order, the car can transport a couple, youthful or otherwise, great distances from safe harbors. It can impart dangerous privacy and stimulate temptation.  [Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969.]

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Elder Carlos E. Asay wrote this about prayer:

       I regard sincere prayer as a protective covering, especially to those who pray that they will “not be tempted above that which (they) can bear” (Alma 13:28). It is also a spiritual shield to those who pray that they will be led by the Holy Spirit, watched over by guardian angels, or borne “up as on eagles’ wings” (D&C 124:18D&C 124:18). [Carlos E. Asay, Family Pecan Trees: Planting a Legacy of Faith at Home (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992), 12.]

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President Harold B. Lee said,

       I heard this little flaxen-haired girl sing “I Am a Child of God.” “Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way.” The first time I heard it, this little girl sang it to her mother’s accompaniment. Now (her) mother is gone. But the mother came to this little girl in such a vivid dream that she said the next morning, “Oh, Mother was with us. We saw her in the family room, and I said, ‘Oh, Mother, you’re not dead.’ And she said, ‘No, my dear, I am not dead. I am very much alive. You won’t be able to see me all the time, but I won’t be far away from you, my dear.’ ” And with that childish assurance, the little girl is now growing to womanhood. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Guardian angels? Don’t you mistake it. It isn’t your father and mother who will be far away from you, children; it will be you who keep them far away.
“Those in the spirit world may be guardian angels to those in mortality. Who are guardian angels? Well, it would appear that someone who is quickened by some influence, not yet celestialized, is permitted to come back as a messenger for the purpose of working with and trying to aid those who are left behind. [ Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996), 58-59.]

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Elder Dallin H. Oaks was quoted in a 1998 issue of LDS Church News,

Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve commented: “Bible stories such as these do not mean that the servants of God are delivered from all hardship or that they are always saved from death. Some believers lose their lives in persecutions, and some suffer great hardships as a result of their faith. But the protection promised to the faithful servants of God is a reality today as it was in Bible times.
All over the world, faithful Latter-day Saints are protected from the powers of the evil one and his servants until they have finished their missions in mortality. For some the mortal mission is brief, as with some valiant young men who have lost their lives in missionary service. But for most of us the mortal journey is long, and we continue our course with the protection of guardian angels.” [Faithful LDS Protected from Power of Evil One”, LDS Church News, 1998, 07/04/98.]

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