Sound doctrine

Ronald D. Dennis, trans. and ed., Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003).

D9 DAVIS, John. Athrawiaeth iachus. (Sound doctrine.) Merthyr Tydfil: John Davis, Printer, [1850].

4 pp. 17 cm. Welsh Mormon Writings 36.

John Davis expounds on 2 Timothy 4:3 for this small pamphlet, using numerous other scriptural passages to support his conclusions. These conclusions were that the only church then preaching sound doc­trine was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that the other churches were those who could “not endure sound doctrine.”

The December 1849 issue of Zion’s Trumpet has the entire con­tents of Sound doctrine (pp. 225–29). D9 Sou

Sound Doctrine

“For the time will come when they will not endure SOUND DOCTRINE; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”—2 TIM. IV, 3.

Where can “sound doctrine” be obtained? There are plenty of other doctrines about us. We might think that some get it oc­casionally; but with searching, some Arminian or Calvinist hears his own doctrine, and calls it sound. The doctrine of Jesus Christ and his apostles was a sound doctrine; but that was a long time ago, and perhaps it is difficult to get hold of it now. However, the world is not so large, that if there is a sound doctrine in it, it cannot be found. But before making any sort of quest for it, we should have its characteristics first; and having found its char­acteristics correctly, it will be quite easy to obtain it, wherever it is. No one should worry where it is, nor by what name; because finding it is the burden of our quest. By its characteristics it is known; and all its characteristics can be seen in the New Testa­ment, which is considered the standard by every party that pro­fesses “sound doctrine.” The time will come, if it has not already come, when sound doctrine will not be endured; but that will not be a hindrance, rather a help, to obtain it.

Now, we may show what sound doctrine was in the time of Christ and the apostles; and what was sound doctrine then should be sound doctrine still. It is not possible for what was considered sound formerly to be unsound now: what was sound continues to be so still. Everything that Jesus Christ uttered is sure to be sound doctrine. One thing that he uttered was this:—”Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark xvi, 15–18). That is sound doctrine, says everyone; but who preaches it, and who can endure it? Is there some denomination that teaches thus, apart from the Latter-day Saints? No, not one. Whoever says that the signs are not to follow those who believe, says also that Christ’s doctrine is not sound; and whoever asserts that signs are not needed now asserts also in a way that faith and baptism are not needed either; because whoever can delete one part of the commission can delete the whole. Again, another thing that Christ said was that heaven and earth would pass away before anything he said would cease: that is also sound doctrine, which is admitted by many in word, but is denied in deed. Another notable thing said by our Lord is that which is seen in John iii, 5, namely, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” That again is sound doctrine, showing the indispensable necessity of baptism of water and baptism of the Holy Ghost, before one can enter into the kingdom. Furthermore, Peter preached a sound enough doctrine on the day of Pentecost, when he said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: for the promise is unto you, and your children, and to ALL that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts ii, 38–39). It is seen that baptism for the remission of sins, and a promise of the Holy Ghost for everyone in general, was the doctrine of Peter, and not something else. The laying on of hands of apostles or elders was to convey that Spirit to those being baptized; see Acts viii, 14–19, and xix, 6. That is again sound doctrine. Sound doctrine also was a description of the Holy Ghost as something that filled houses and persons (Acts ii, 1–4), and brought to mind what had passed, and it expressed things to come. Before the Spirit fills something it must be material and tangible; because “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Cor xii, 7), which is again sound doctrine. The pur­pose of the manifestation of the Spirit is so that everyone may say that Christ is the Lord (ver. 3), and thereby know him, to have eternal life; because “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” This again, like the other statements, is sound doctrine; and if someone wants proof, let him act according to another doctrine of Jesus Christ, namely—”If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John vii, 17). Aside from all these things, we shall see that the following sayings of Paul are sound doctrine also, namely—”Desire spiritual gifts;” “forbid not to speak with tongues;” and “despise not prophesyings.” And to top it off, the same apostle says, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing” (1 Tim. vi, 3, 4); and Paul says also, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. i, 8). By now, everyone knows what sort of thing sound doctrine is, so that there is no reason to be mistaken about it any longer.

Having obtained the characteristics of sound doctrine, the next thing is to insist on knowing which denomination preaches it these days. It is easy enough to know that, without leaving Wales. Follow some of the preachers of the Latter-day Saints to different churches and chapels of the country, to see if they can be seen there enduring and saying, like Jesus Christ and his apostles, that the signs are to follow the believers, and that it is everyone’s duty to desire spiritual gifts, and not to forbid speak­ing with tongues, not to despise prophesyings; nor to preach other than what Paul and his brothers preached! Soon proof will be obtained of the complete fulfillment of Paul’s prophecy, which says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” How literally this is being fulfilled these days! It is generally admitted that the Saints profess the same doctrines as the apostles, even if their miracles are a little different; and for that reason, the sectarians of the country, and not the Saints, are the ones that “do not endure sound doctrine.” To have firmer proof that it is they, we can look at how they “after their own lusts heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears,” and how they are unable to endure those words that Christ and the apostles spoke. The churches, generally, heap their teachers, exactly the same way as a number of uneducated children would choose schoolmasters to teach them, according to their own lusts, and without the permission of their parents, because they have become bored with the old way, and have chosen teachers who can tell fables! That’s the picture perfectly. What are the believers of the country but children needing to be taught? What are the reverends but teachers or schoolmasters? And what are the “callings” in the chapels, but children “heaping to themselves teachers,” and that after their own lusts? Whichever teacher pleases these children’s ears with his Arminian, Fullerian, Calvinist, Bap­tist, and Mormon stories, is chosen and employed by them immediately, without consulting the Father above (or if they consult him, they do not wait for an answer); and then, if he does not continue to please their itching ears, they turn him away, and choose a new teller of fables! Is this not the truth about the chapels of the country? If otherwise, we would love to hear it. How different for the former-day Saints, and the Latter-day Saints! It is not the children of God who choose their teachers, nor the teachers who choose themselves; but every teacher must wait to be called as was Aaron. “Ye have not chosen me,” said Christ to the twelve, “but I have chosen you, and ordained you” (John xv, 16). Thus also, Paul ordered Titus to stay in Crete, to choose elders or teachers to teach them (Tit. i, 5); for Paul knew that the churches were not wise enough to choose their own teachers, and ordain them; but they could raise their hands to show their approval of the choice of president Titus and his fellow officials. That is the arrange­ment of the Latter-day Saints as well; the common members, were they a thousand together, have not the right to call so much as one deacon. Such is the difference between the wisdom of God, and that of men.

Now, who has not seen by whom sound doctrine is preached? Its characteristics have been clearly shown, so that everyone who hears the words of Christ and his apostles being recited can decide that he is hearing “sound doctrine,” which he needs. Therefore, let the preachers of sound doctrine be obeyed, and let the “form of godliness” be left behind, to have “its power;” and let no children heap teachers after their own lusts, lest they be found “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

J. Davis.