Sunday, October 25, 2009

A First Edition Book of Mormon

I went to a stake priesthood meeting last night, and had a wonderful time. The speakers were great, and spoke about the power of The Book of Mormon to change people's lives. One fellow, who was baptized just a few months ago, told his twenty-year conversion story as he lived his youth and young adulthood in the midst of worthy priesthood holders who set a good example for him. He told us of his doubts that he himself could be a worthy priesthood holder and that if he joined the church he might not be the member he knew he should be. It was quite inspiring as he outlined his experiences and told about how he finally came to the realization that he didn't have to be perfect, he just had to do his best.

Finally, the stake president got up and spoke about how important it is for us to keep the commandments in this ever-changing world where we are watching the disintegration of moral standards. He focused on how the Adversary, who throughout his talk he referred to as "The Great Distractor", does his best to distract us from that which is good, and to keep us too busy in our daily lives to do what's right. We were warned against the very insidious nature of temptation, and how a very simple slip in our obedience to the commandments, for which one can easily find an excuse or rationalization, can quickly lead us into full-blown wickedness if we fail to repent and correct ourselves.

It was a great meeting. The first speaker was one of the counselors in the stake presidency, and, as I mentioned, he spoke about The Book of Mormon. He had many copies with him that were special to him for one reason or another, such as the one he used as a missionary, one in a language that he gave away as a missionary, and several in languages from where his son's served or are serving their missions. The one that made me do a double-take, however, was when he lifted one of the first edition copies. He had, in his hand, one of the first 5000 copies that were printed in 1830.

As I sat and he gave his talk, I had the overwhelming feeling that I needed to go up there after the meeting and look at it. Clearly, it's just a thing, an item that, in the grand scheme of things, is temporary and unimportant. Nevertheless, I felt a need to go see it, as I don't know if I will ever have another chance to look at one again. So, after the meeting concluded, I went to the stand and asked the owner if I could examine it. He said I could, without hestitation, and I was able to pick it up and leaf through its pages for a few moments.

The book itself was unremarkable, aside from its good condition. It's binding was roughed up and the inside pages were coming loose, though I found none that were completely free. The opening pages had text that I did not recognize, as the preface from that original version is not included in the modern version of the book. I attempted to take a picture of it with my cellphone, but they turned out fuzzy in the bad light, but I found some photographs here that I've included:

The picture I took of the outside of the book came out acceptably un-fuzzy:

It's a funny thing, holding a piece of history. The speaker himself admitted that what saddens him the most about having the book is that he does not know its history. He does not know all who owned it, all who read it, those who were touched by its words, and even those who had possession of it but dismissed it as unimportant. Clearly its journey has been a meandering one, and I was pleased just to be able to hold it in my hand and contemplate its importance in so many lives.

Truly the words of God are great.

(Want a free copy of The Book of Mormon? Click here.)

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