Lecture 2

“Lecture 2,” in The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective, ed. Larry E. Dahl and Charles D. Tate Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University), 39–64.

Lecture 2: On Faith​

1. Having shown in our previous lecture “faith itself—what is it,” we shall proceed to show, secondly, the object on which it rests.

2. We here observe that God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fulness and perfection dwell. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, without beginning of days or end of life. In him every good gift and every good principle dwell, and he is the Father of lights. In him the principle of faith dwells independently, and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings centers for life and salvation.

3. In order to present this part of the subject in a clear and conspicuous point of light, it is necessary to go back and show the evidences which mankind have had to believe in the existence of a God and also to show the foundation on which these evidences are and have been based since the creation.

4. We do not mean those evidences which are manifested by the works of creation which we daily behold with our natural eyes. We are sensible that, after a revelation of Jesus Christ, the works of creation clearly exhibit his eternal power and Godhead throughout their vast forms and varieties. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead” (Rom 1:20). But we do mean those evidences by which the first thoughts were suggested to the minds of men that there was a God who created all things.

5. We shall now proceed to examine the situation of man at his first creation. Moses, the historian, has given us the following account of him in Genesis. We copy from the New Translation: [1]

6. “And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so.

7. “And I, God, said, Let them have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

8. “And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them. And I, God, blessed them, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

9. “And I, God, said unto man, Behold, I have given you every herb, bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth; and every tree in the which shall be the fruit of a tree, yielding see; to you it shall be for meat” (JST, Gen. 1:27–31; see also Moses 2:26–29).

10. Again, in Genesis: “And I, the Lord God, took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it. And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but remember that I forbid it; for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. . . .

11. “And out of the ground, I the Lord God, formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and commanded that they should come unto Adam, to see what he would call them. And . . . whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that should be the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air and to every beast of the field” (JST, Gen. 2:18–22, 25–27; see also Moses 3:15–17, 19–20).

12. From the foregoing we learn of man’s situation at his first creation, the knowledge with which he was endowed, and the high and exalted station in which he was placed—lord, or governor, of all things on earth, and at the same time enjoying communion and intercourse with his Maker, without a veil to separate between. We shall next proceed to examine the account given of his fall and of his being driven out of the garden of Eden and from the presence of the Lord.

13. Moses proceeds: “And they [Adam and Eve] [2] heard the voice of the Lord God, as they were walking in the garden, in the cool of the day. And Adam and his wife went to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord God, amongst the trees of the garden. And I, the Lord God, called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where goest thou? And he said, I heard thy voice, in the garden, and I was afraid, because I beheld that I was naked, and I hid myself.

14. “And I, the Lord God, said unto Adam, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, if so thou shouldst surely die? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest me, and commanded that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree, and I did eat.

15. “And I, the Lord God, said unto the woman, What is this thing which thou hast done? And the woman said, the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (JST, Gen. 3:13–19; see also Moses 4:14–19).

16. And again, the Lord said unto the woman, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow, and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

17. “And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; by the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground, for thou shalt surely die; for out of it was thou taken, for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return” (JST, Gen. 3:22–25; see also Moses 4:22–25). This was immediately followed by the fulfillment of what we previously said: Man was driven or sent out of Eden.

18. Two important items are shown from the former quotations: First, after man was created, he was not left without intelligence or understanding to wander in darkness and spend an existence in ignorance and doubt on the great and important point which effected his happiness as to the real fact by whom he was created, or unto whom he was amenable for his conduct. God conversed with him face to face: in his presence he was permitted to stand, and from his own mouth he was permitted to receive instruction. He heard his voice, walked before him, and gazed upon his glory, while intelligence burst upon his understanding and enabled him to give names to the vast assemblage of his Maker’s works.

19. Secondly, we have seen that though man did transgress, his transgression did not deprive him of the previous knowledge with which he had been endowed relative to the existence and glory of his Creator; for no sooner did he hear his voice than he sought to hide himself from his presence.

20. Having shown, then, in the first instance, that God began to converse with man immediately after he “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” and that he did not cease to manifest himself to him, even after his fall, we shall next proceed to show, that even though man was cast out from the garden of Eden, he did not lose his knowledge of the existence of God, neither did God cease to manifest his will unto him.

21. We next proceed to present the account of the direct revelation which man received after he was cast out of Eden, and further copy from the New Translation:

22. After Adam had been driven out of the garden, he “began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I, the Lord had commanded him. . . . And Adam called upon the name of the Lord, and Eve also, his wife; and they heard the voice of the Lord, from the way toward the garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence. And he gave unto them commandments that they should worship the Lord their God; and should offer the firstlings of their flock for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.

23. “And after many days, an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying, Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord. And Adam, saying, Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord. And Adam said unto him, I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

24. “And then the angel spake, saying, This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth; wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest, in the name of the Son. And thou shalt repent, and call upon God, in the name of the Son for evermore. And in that day , the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son” (JST, Gen. 4:1, 4–9; see also Moses 5:1, 4–9).

25. This last quotation shows this important fact: even though our first parents were driven out of the garden of Eden and were separated from the presence of God by a veil, they still retained a knowledge of his existence, and that sufficiently to move them to call upon him. And further, no sooner was the plan of redemption revealed to man and he began to call upon God, than the Holy Spirit was given, bearing record of the Father and Son.

26. Moses also gives us an account of the transgression of Cain, of the righteousness of Abel, and of the revelations of God to them. He says, “In process of time . . . Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought, of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof; and the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering, but unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect. Now Satan knew this, and it pleased him. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well thou shalt be accepted, and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door; and Satan desireth to have thee, and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. . . .

27. “And Cain went into the field, and Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, that while they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying, I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth unto my hands.

28. “And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said, I know not, am I my brother’s keeper? And the Lord said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood cries unto me from the ground. And now thou shalt be cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

29. “And Cain said unto the Lord, Satan tempted me, because of my brother’s flock; and I was wroth also, for his offering thou didst accept, and not mine. My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the Lord, and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that he that findeth me shall slay me, because of mine iniquities, for these things are not hid from the Lord. And I, the Lord, said unto him, Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold; and I, the Lord, set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him” (JST, Gen. 5:6–9, 17–25; see also Moses 5:19–23, 32–40).

30. The object of the foregoing quotation is to show to this class that the way by which mankind were first made acquainted with the existence of a God was by a manifestation of God to man. Also after man’s transgression God continued to manifest himself to him and to his posterity. And notwithstanding they were separated from his immediate presence so that they could not see his face, they continued to hear his voice.

31. Adam, thus being made acquainted with God, communicated the knowledge which he had unto his posterity. And it was through this means that the thought was first suggested to their minds that there was a God, which laid the foundation for the exercise of their faith, through which they could obtain a knowledge of his character and also of his glory.

32. Not only was there a manifestation made unto Adam of the existence of a God, but Moses informs us, as before quoted, that God also condescended to talk with Cain after his great transgression in slaying his brother. And Cain knew that it was the Lord who was talking with him, so when he was driven out from the presence of his brethren, he carried with him the knowledge of the existence of a God. And through this means, doubtless, his posterity became acquainted with the fact that such a being existed.

33. From this we can see that the whole human family in the early age of their existence and in all their different branches had this knowledge disseminated among them; so that the existence of God became an object of faith in the early age of the world. And the evidence which these men had of the existence of a God was the testimony of their fathers, in the first instance.

34. The reason we have been thus particular on this part of our subject is that this class may see by what means it was that God became an object of faith among men after the Fall, and also may see what it was that stirred up the faith of multitudes to feel after him, to search after a knowledge of his character, perfections, and attributes, until they became extensively acquainted with him. Not only were they to commune with him and behold his glory, but they were also to be partakers of his power and stand in his presence.

35. Let this class mark particularly that the testimony which these men had of the existence of a God was the testimony of man. For previous to the time that any of Adam’s posterity had obtained a manifestation of God to themselves, Adam, their common father, had testified unto them of the existence of God and of his eternal power and Godhead.

36. For instance, Abel, before he received the assurance from heaven that his offerings were acceptable unto God, had received the important information from his father that such a being who had created and who did uphold all things did exist. Neither can there be any doubt existing in the mind of any person but that Adam was the first who did communicate the knowledge of the existence of a God to his posterity. The whole faith of the world from that time down to the present is in a certain degree dependent on the knowledge first communicated to them by their common progenitor; and it has been handed down to the day and generation in which we live, as we shall show from the face of the sacred records.

37. First, Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born (Gen. 5:3). And the days of Adam, after he had begotten Seth were 800 years, making him 930 years old when he died (5:4–5). Seth was 105 when Enos was born (5:6); Enos was 90 when Cainan was born (5:9); Cainan was 70 when Mahalaleel was born (5:12); Mahalaleel was 65 when Jared was born (5:15); Jared was 162 when Enoch was born (5:18); Enoch was 65 when Methuselah was born (5:21); Methuselah was 187 when Lamech was born (5:25); Lamech was 182 when Noah was born (5:28).

38. From this account it appears that Lamech, the eighth [3] from Adam, and the father of Noah, was 56 years old when Adam died; Methuselah, 243; Enoch, 308; Jared, 470; Mahalaleel, 535; Cainan, 605; Enos, 695; and Seth, 800.

39. So Lamech the father of Noah, Methuselah, Enoch, Jared, Mahalaleel, Cainan, Enos, Seth, and Adam, were all living at the same time, and, beyond all controversy, were all preachers of righteousness.

40. Moses further informs us that Seth lived 807 years after he begat Enos, making him 912 years old at his death (Gen. 5:7–8). And Enos lived 815 years after he begat Cainan, making him 905 years old when he died (5:10–11). And Cainan lived 840 years after he begat Mahalaleel, making him 910 years old at his death (5:13–14). And Mahalaleel lived 830 years after he begat Jared, making him 895 years old when he died (5:16–17). And Jared lived 800 years after he begat Enoch, making him 962 years old at his death (5:19–20). And Enoch walked with God 300 years after he begat Methuselah, making him 365 years old when he was translated (5:22–23). [4] And Methuselah lived 782 years after he begat Lamech, making him 969 years old when he died (5:26–270. Lamech lived 595 years after he begat Noah, making him 777 years old when he died (5:30–31).

41. Agreeable to this account, Adam died in the 930th year of the world; Enoch was translated in the 987th; Seth died in the 1042nd; Enos in the 1140th; Cainan in the 1235th; Mahalaleel in the 1290th; Jared in the 1422nd; Lamech in the 1651st; and Methuselah in the 1656th, it being the same year in which the flood came.

42. So Noah was 84 years old when Enos died, 179 [5] when Cainan died, 234 when Mahalaleel died, 366 when Jared died, 595 when Lamech died, and 600 when Methuselah died.


[1] All references to the “New Translation” are to the Joseph Smith Translation.

[2] Brackets in the 1835 edition.

[3] The 1835 text says “9th,” but the sequence above shows that Lamech is the eighth generation from Adam.

[4] Doctrine and Covenants 107:49 reads: “And he [Enoch] saw the Lord, and he walked with him, and was before his face continually; and he walked with God three hundred and sixty-five years, making him four hundred and thirty years old when he was translated.”

[5] The 1835 edition here says Noah was 176 when Cainan died, but the mathematics show him to have been 179, and the 1835 edition corrects itself in the Question and Answer section of this lecture, answer to Question 62.