Account of the labors of Nephi
son of helaman
abridged ca. 373 ad from the record of helaman
And it came to pass in the fifty and third year of the reign of the judges, Helaman died, and his eldest son Nephi began to reign in his stead. And it came to pass that he did fill the judgment-seat with justice and equity. Yea, he did keep the commandments of God, and did walk in the ways of his father.
And it came to pass in the fifty and fourth year there were many dissensions in the church, and there was also a contention among the people, insomuch that there was much bloodshed. And the rebellious part were slain and driven out of the land, and they did go unto the king of the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did endeavor to stir up the Lamanites to war against the Nephites. But behold, the Lamanites were exceedingly afraid, insomuch that they would not hearken to the words of those dissenters.
But it came to pass in the fifty and sixth year of the reign of the judges, there were dissenters who went up from the Nephites unto the Lamanites, and they succeeded with those others in stirring them up to anger against the Nephites. And they were all that year preparing for war. And in the fifty and seventh year they did come down against the Nephites to battle, and they did commence the work of death.
Yea, insomuch that in the fifty and eighth year of the reign of the judges they succeeded in obtaining possession of the land of Zarahemla. Yea, and also all the lands, even unto the land which was near the land Bountiful. And the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven even into the land of Bountiful. And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east. It being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country. And thus those dissenters of the Nephites, with the help of a numerous army of the Lamanites, had obtained all the possession of the Nephites which was in the land southward. And all this was done in the fifty and eighth and ninth years of the reign of the judges.
And it came to pass in the sixtieth year of the reign of the judges, Moronihah did succeed with his armies in obtaining many parts of the land. Yea, they regained many cities which had fallen into the hands of the Lamanites. And it came to pass in the sixty and first year of the reign of the judges they succeeded in regaining even the half of all their possessions. Now this great loss of the Nephites, and the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them. Yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the Church of God. And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites. And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength. Therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands.
But behold, Moronihah did preach many things unto the people because of their iniquity, and also Nephi and Lehi, who were the sons of Helaman, did preach many things unto the people, yea, and did prophesy many things unto them concerning their iniquities, and what should come unto them if they did not repent of their sins. And it came to pass that they did repent, and inasmuch as they did repent they did begin to prosper. For when Moronihah saw that they did repent he did venture to lead them forth from place to place, and from city to city, even until they had regained the one-half of their property and the one-half of all their lands. And thus ended the sixty and first year of the reign of the judges.
And it came to pass in the sixty and second year of the reign of the judges, that Moronihah could obtain no more possessions over the Lamanites. Therefore they did abandon their design to obtain the remainder of their lands, for so numerous were the Lamanites that it became impossible for the Nephites to obtain more power over them. Therefore Moronihah did employ all his armies in maintaining those parts which he had taken. And it came to pass, because of the greatness of the number of the Lamanites the Nephites were in great fear, lest they should be overpowered, and trodden down, and slain, and destroyed.
Yea, they began to remember the prophecies of Alma, and also the words of Mosiah. And they saw that they had been a stiffnecked people, and that they had set at naught the commandments of God. And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people. And they saw that their laws had become corrupted, and that they had become a wicked people, insomuch that they were wicked even like unto the Lamanites. And because of their iniquity the church had begun to dwindle. And they began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and in the spirit of revelation. And the judgments of God did stare them in the face. And they saw that they had become weak, like unto their brethren, the Lamanites, and that the Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them. Yea, it had withdrawn from them because the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples.
Therefore the Lord did cease to preserve them by his miraculous and matchless power, for they had fallen into a state of unbelief and awful wickedness. And they saw that the Lamanites were exceedingly more numerous than they, and except they should cleave unto the Lord their god they must unavoidably perish. For behold, they saw that the strength of the Lamanites was as great as their strength, even man for man. And thus had they fallen into this great transgression. Yea, thus had they become weak, because of their transgression, in the space of not many years.
And it came to pass that in this same year, behold, Nephi delivered up the judgment-seat to a man whose name was Cezoram. For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted. Yea, and this was not all. They were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction. And it came to pass that Nephi had become weary because of their iniquity. And he yielded up the judgment-seat, and took it upon him to preach the word of God all the remainder of his days, and his brother Lehi also, all the remainder of his days. For they remembered the words which their father Helaman spake unto them. And these are the words which he spake:
Behold, my sons,
I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God!
And I would that ye should declare unto the people these words.
Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came
Out of the land of Jerusalem, and this I have done that when you
Remember your names, ye may remember them, and when
Ye remember them ye may remember their works.
And when ye remember their works, ye may know how that it is said,
And also written, that they were good.
Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good,
That it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said
And written of them. And now my sons, behold
I have somewhat more to desire of you, which desire is, that ye may not do
These things that ye may boast, but that ye may do these things
To lay up for yourselves a treasure in heaven, yea,
Which is eternal, and which fadeth not away! Yea,
That ye may have that precious gift of eternal life, which we have reason
To suppose hath been given to our fathers.
O remember, remember, my sons!
The words which King Benjamin spake unto his people.
Yea, remember that there is no other way, nor means whereby
Man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ,
Who shall come, yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.
And remember also the words which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom,
In the city of Ammonihah, for he said unto him:
That the Lord surely should come to redeem his people,
But that he should not come to redeem them in their sins,
But to redeem them from their sins.
And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem
Them from their sins because of repentance.
Therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the
Conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto
The power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.
And now, my sons, remember, remember!
That it is upon the rock of our redeemer who is Christ, the Son of God,
That ye must build your foundation, that when the Devil shall send
Forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea,
When all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you,
It shall have no power over you to drag you down to
The gulf of misery and endless wo,
Because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is
A sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
And it came to pass that these were the words which Helaman taught to his sons. Yea, he did teach them many things which are not written, and also many things which are written. And they did remember his words.
And therefore they went forth, keeping the commandments of God, to teach the word of God among all the people of Nephi, beginning at the city Bountiful. And from thenceforth to the city of Gid; and from the city of Gid to the city of Mulek. And even from one city to another, until they had gone forth among all the people of Nephi who were in the land southward. And from thence into the land of Zarahemla, among the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did preach with great power, insomuch that they did confound many of those dissenters who had gone over from the Nephites, insomuch that they came forth and did confess their sins and were baptized unto repentance, and immediately returned to the Nephites to endeavor to repair unto them the wrongs which they had done.
And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did preach unto the Lamanites with such great power and authority, for they had power and authority given unto them that they might speak, and they also had what they should speak given unto them. Therefore they did speak unto the great astonishment of the Lamanites, to the convincing them, insomuch that there were eight thousand of the Lamanites who were in the land of Zarahemla and round about baptized unto repentance, and were convinced of the wickedness of the traditions of their fathers.
And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did proceed from thence to go to the land of Nephi. And it came to pass that they were taken by an army of the Lamanites and cast into prison. Yea, even in that same prison in which Ammon and his brethren were cast by the servants of Limhi. And after they had been cast into prison many days without food, behold, they went forth into the prison to take them that they might slay them. And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi were encircled about as if by fire, even insomuch that they durst not lay their hands upon them, for fear lest they should be burned. Nevertheless, Nephi and Lehi were not burned, and they were as standing in the midst of fire and were not burned. And when they saw that they were encircled about with a pillar of fire, and that it burned them not, their hearts did take courage. For they saw that the Lamanites durst not lay their hands upon them. Neither durst they come near unto them, but stood as if they were struck dumb with amazement. And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did stand forth and began to speak unto them, saying:
Fear not! For behold, it is God that has
Shown unto you this marvelous thing, in the which
Is shown unto you that
Ye cannot lay your hands on us to slay us.
And behold, when they had said these words, the earth shook exceedingly, and the walls of the prison did shake as if they were about to tumble to the earth. But behold, they did not fall. And behold, they that were in the prison were Lamanites and Nephites who were dissenters. And it came to pass that they were overshadowed with a cloud of darkness, and an awful solemn fear came upon them. And it came to pass that there came a voice as if it were above the cloud of darkness, saying:
Repent ye, repent ye!
And seek no more to destroy my servants whom I have sent
Unto you to declare good tidings.
And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul. And notwithstanding the mildness of the voice, behold the earth shook exceedingly, and the walls of the prison trembled again, as if it were about to tumble to the earth. And behold the cloud of darkness, which had overshadowed them, did not disperse. And behold the voice came again, saying:
Repent ye, repent ye!
For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,
And seek no more to destroy my servants.
And it came to pass that the earth shook again, and the walls trembled. And also again the third time the voice came, and did speak unto them marvelous words which cannot be uttered by man! And the walls did tremble again, and the earth shook as if it were about to divide asunder.
And it came to pass that the Lamanites could not flee because of the cloud of darkness which did overshadow them. Yea, and also they were immovable because of the fear which did come upon them. Now there was one among them who was a Nephite by birth, who had once belonged to the Church of God but had dissented from them. And it came to pass that he turned him about, and behold, he saw through the cloud of darkness the faces of Nephi and Lehi. And behold, they did shine exceedingly, even as the faces of angels. And he beheld that they did lift their eyes to Heaven. And they were in the attitude as if talking or lifting their voices to some being whom they beheld.
And it came to pass that this man did cry unto the multitude, that they might turn and look. And behold, there was power given unto them that they did turn and look. And they did behold the faces of Nephi and Lehi. And they said unto the man:
Behold, what do all these things mean?
And who is it with whom these men do converse?
Now the man’s name was Aminadab. And Aminadab said unto them: They do converse with the angels of God.
And it came to pass that the Lamanites said unto him:
What shall we do?
That this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us?
And Aminadab said unto them:
You must repent, and cry unto the voice,
Even until ye shall have faith in Christ,
Who was taught unto you by Alma and Amulek and Zeezrom.
And when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness
Shall be removed from overshadowing you.
And it came to pass that they all did begin to cry unto the voice of him who had shaken the earth. Yea, they did cry even until the cloud of darkness was dispersed. And it came to pass that when they cast their eyes about, and saw that the cloud of darkness was dispersed from overshadowing them, behold, they saw that they were encircled about, yea every soul, by a pillar of fire. And Nephi and Lehi were in the midst of them! Yea, they were encircled about! Yea, they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire, yet it did harm them not, neither did it take hold upon the walls of the prison. And they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory. And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words. And it came to pass that there came a voice unto them, yea, a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper, saying:
Peace, peace be unto you! Because of your faith in my well beloved
Who was from the foundation of the world.
And now, when they heard this they cast up their eyes as if to behold from whence the voice came. And behold, they saw the heavens open, and angels came down out of heaven and ministered unto them. And there were about three hundred souls who saw and heard these things. And they were bidden to go forth and marvel not, neither should they doubt.
And it came to pass that they did go forth, and did minister unto the people, declaring throughout all the regions round about all the things which they had heard and seen, insomuch that the more part of the Lamanites were convinced of them, because of the greatness of the evidences which they had received. And as many as were convinced did lay down their weapons of war, and also their hatred and the tradition of their fathers. And it came to pass that they did yield up unto the Nephites the lands of their possession.
And it came to pass that when the sixty and second year of the reign of the judges had ended, all these things had happened and the Lamanites had become, the more part of them, a righteous people, insomuch that their righteousness did exceed that of the Nephites, because of their firmness and their steadiness in the faith. For behold, there were many of the Nephites who had become hardened and impenitent and grossly wicked, insomuch that they did reject the word of God and all the preaching and prophesying which did come among them. Nevertheless, the people of the church did have great joy because of the conversion of the Lamanites, yea, because of the Church of God, which had been established among them. And they did fellowship one with another, and did rejoice one with another, and did have great joy. And it came to pass that many of the Lamanites did come down into the land of Zarahemla, and did declare unto the people of the Nephites the manner of their conversion, and did exhort them to faith and repentance. Yea, and many did preach with exceedingly great power and authority, unto the bringing down many of them into the depths of humility to be the humble followers of God and the Lamb.2Here we see, following his voice and gifts of the spirit being delivered in the prison, a brief revival of the theology of two gods.
And it came to pass that many of the Lamanites did go into the land northward; and also Nephi and Lehi went into the land northward, to preach unto the people. And thus ended the sixty and third year. And behold, there was peace in all the land, insomuch that the Nephites did go into whatsoever part of the land they would, whether among the Nephites or the Lamanites. And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites. And thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell and to get gain according to their desire. And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites. And they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north. Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah. For the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north and Lehi into the land south.
And behold, there was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver, and of precious ore of every kind. And there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it. And thus they did become rich. They did raise grain in abundance, both in the north and in the south. And they did flourish exceedingly, both in the north and in the south. And they did multiply and wax exceedingly strong in the land. And they did raise many flocks and herds, yea, many fatlings. Behold their women did toil and spin, and did make all manner of cloth, of fine-twined linen and cloth of every kind, to clothe their nakedness. And thus the sixty and fourth year did pass away in peace. And in the sixty and fifth year they did also have great joy and peace, yea, much preaching and many prophecies concerning that which was to come. And thus passed away the sixty and fifth year.
And it came to pass that in the sixty and sixth year of the reign of the judges, behold, Cezoram was murdered by an unknown hand as he sat upon the judgment-seat. And it came to pass that in the same year, that his son, who had been appointed by the people in his stead, was also murdered. And thus ended the sixty and sixth year.
And in the commencement of the sixty and seventh year the people began to grow exceedingly wicked again. For behold, the Lord had blessed them so long with the riches of the world that they had not been stirred up to anger, to wars, nor to bloodshed. Therefore they began to set their hearts upon their riches. Yea, they began to seek to get gain that they might be lifted up one above another. Therefore they began to commit secret murders, and to rob and to plunder, that they might get gain. And now behold, those murderers and plunderers were a band who had been formed by Kishkumen and Gadianton. And now it had come to pass that there were many, even among the Nephites, of Gadianton’s band. But behold, they were more numerous among the more wicked part of the Lamanites. And they were called Gadianton’s robbers and murderers. And it was they who did murder the chief judge Cezoram, and his son, while in the judgment-seat. And behold, they were not found.
And now it came to pass that when the Lamanites found that there were robbers among them they were exceedingly sorrowful. And they did use every means in their power to destroy them off the face of the earth. But behold, Satan did stir up the hearts of the more part of the Nephites, insomuch that they did unite with those bands of robbers, and did enter into their covenants and their oaths, that they would protect and preserve one another in whatsoever difficult circumstances they should be placed, that they should not suffer for their murders, and their plunderings, and their stealings. And it came to pass that they did have their signs, yea, their secret signs, and their secret words. And this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant, that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do, he should not be injured by his brother, nor by those who did belong to his band who had taken this covenant. And thus they might murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their god. And whosoever of those who belonged to their band should reveal unto the world of their wickedness and their abominations, should be tried, not according to the laws of their country, but according to the laws of their wickedness, which had been given by Gadianton and Kishkumen.
Now behold, it is these secret oaths and covenants which Alma commanded his son should not go forth unto the world, lest they should be a means of bringing down the people unto destruction. Now behold, those secret oaths and covenants did not come forth unto Gadianton from the records which were delivered unto Helaman. But behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit. Yea, that same being who did plot with Cain, that if he would murder his brother Abel it should not be known unto the world. And he did plot with Cain and his followers from that time forth. And also it is that same being who put it into the hearts of the people to build a tower sufficiently high that they might get to heaven. And it was that same being who led on the people who came from that tower into this land, who spread the works of darkness and abominations over all the face of the land, until he dragged the people down to an entire destruction, and to an everlasting Hell.
Yea, it is that same being who put it into the heart of Gadianton to still carry on the work of darkness and of secret murder. And he has brought it forth from the beginning of man even down to this time. And behold, it is he who is the author of all sin. And behold, he doth carry on his works of darkness and secret murder, and doth hand down their plots and their oaths, and their covenants and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men. And now behold, he had got great hold upon the hearts of the Nephites. Yea, insomuch that they had become exceedingly wicked. Yea, the more part of them had turned out of the way of righteousness and did trample under their feet the commandments of God, and did turn unto their own ways; and did build up unto themselves idols of their gold and their silver. And it came to pass that all these iniquities did come unto them in the space of not many years, insomuch that a more part of it had come unto them in the sixty and seventh year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.
And they did grow in their iniquities in the sixty and eighth year also, to the great sorrow and lamentation of the righteous. And thus we see that the Nephites did begin to dwindle in unbelief, and grow in wickedness and abominations, while the Lamanites began to grow exceedingly in the knowledge of their god. Yea, they did begin to keep his statutes and commandments and to walk in truth and uprightness before him. And thus we see that the Spirit of the Lord began to withdraw from the Nephites, because of the wickedness and the hardness of their hearts. And thus we see that the Lord began to pour out his spirit upon the Lamanites, because of their easiness and willingness to believe in his words.
And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton. And they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites. And it came to pass on the other hand, that the Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations. And thus they did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God. And thus we see that they were in an awful state, and ripening for an everlasting destruction. And it came to pass that thus ended the sixty and eighth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.