Ministry is Christ’s more excellent way to peace.
17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.
18 Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God.
19 Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni; for they did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words.
These words were written by Commander Mormon nearly half a millennia after the time of Captain Moroni. It is important to note that Mormon named his own son after Captain Moroni. Also, Mormon groups Captain Moroni’s actions with those of the sons of Mosiah. Despite the obvious fact that Captain Moroni’s actions in no way resemble those of the sons of Mosiah, Commander Mormon calls them “good” and “no less serviceable to the people.” The question is whether he inscribed the words upon the plates of brass before or after making a similar decision as Alma the Younger: to renounce the sword and proclaim the word. Like his father before him, Alma the Younger eventually came to the realization that proclaiming the Gospel was a more excellent way of combat against sin than the sword. Commander Mormon also comes to a realization that the sword is failing to be effective. He renounces the sword and desires to preach the word. The Lord prohibits Commander Mormon from doing so (the reason is unclear although Mormon 2:15 says the “day of grace has passed”) and Mormon takes up the sword again. So, when did Commander Mormon inscribe these words about Captain Moroni? Before or after he renounced the sword and sought to proclaim the gospel? When did he abridge the records? Before the final conflict, while on the run in the midst of conflict, or shortly before his death?
A Further Investigation Needed
2 And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age, and I began to be learned somewhat after the manner of the learning of my people) and Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe;
3 Therefore, when ye are about twenty and four years old I would that ye should remember the things that ye have observed concerning this people; and when ye are of that age go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim; and there have I deposited unto the Lord all the sacred engravings concerning this people.
4 And behold, ye shall take the plates of Nephi unto yourself, and the remainder shall ye leave in the place where they are; and ye shall engrave on the plates of Nephi all the things that ye have observed concerning this people.
Ammaron instructs Mormon to obtain the plates of Nephi when he is 24 years of age (14 years from that date of 321 AD).
17 And now, the city of Jashon was near the land where Ammaron had deposited the records unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed. And behold I had gone according to the word of Ammaron, and taken the plates of Nephi, and did make a record according to the words of Ammaron.
At around the age of 38 (349 AD) and the beginning of the final conflicts with the Lamanites, now Commander Mormon obtains the plates AND abridged them. He includes his own account of the then present day and calls it the Book of Mormon. Remember, this is at the beginning of the wars when Commander Mormon abridges the records and when it is most likely he inscribed the words about Captain Moroni in Alma 48. Captain Moroni has reinforced Commander Mormon’s desire to wield the sword.
At the end of Mormon 2, the Nephites surrender to the Lamanites and sign a treaty. This act of weakness saves them and in Mormon 3, this surrender is called an act of mercy by the Lord in which they can repent and build the church. Renouncing the sword SAVES the Nephites from destruction. It gives them an opportunity to repent and build up the Church through missionary effort. What do the Nephites do instead? They take up the sword again.
11 And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination.
12 Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.
13 And thrice have I delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and they have repented not of their sins.
14 And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying:
15 Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth.
16 And it came to pass that I utterly refused to go up against mine enemies; and I did even as the Lord had commanded me; and I did stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard, according to the manifestations of the Spirit which had testified of things to come.
362 BC and Mormon is 51 years old. The Lord spared the Nephites three times. Gave them three opportunities to renounce the sword, build the church, and proclaim the gospel. Instead, the Nephites wanted vengeance which had been forbidden them. Now the Lord would take vengeance upon them. The Lamanites will destroy the Nephites.
23 And now I, Mormon, seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord.
375 AD and Mormon returns to the place where the records are stored, not to abridge them, but to retrieve them because the land is to be conquered by the Lamanites. Suffice it to say that during these battles, Mormon was writing his own record and it is, therefore, unlikely he abridged the records in the midst of battles.
It is as though Commander Mormon had a moment of clarity, a moment of truth. He comes to his senses, puts away the sword and says the wicked slay the wicked. He desires to proclaim the gospel of peace but the Lord prohibits him from doing so saying it is too late. Not only would the Nephites and Lamanites refuse his message, but as a Commander in the armies with much blood on his hands it is unlikely anyone would have seen him as anything more or less than a hypocrite despite his sincerity. The cycle of destruction is out of control. They are all consumed with a bloodlust.
Mormon 4:5 – But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed.
1 And it came to pass that I did go forth among the Nephites, and did repent of the oath which I had made that I would no more assist them; and they gave me command again of their armies, for they looked upon me as though I could deliver them from their afflictions.
2 But behold, I was without hope, for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.
375 AD. Having been prohibited from preaching the gospel, Mormon accepts his fate, the judgment of God, to be destroyed by the wicked. His people broke their oath and covenant. Instead of renouncing the sword and proclaiming the gospel, they lived by the sword. Now, they will die by the sword (blowback). The Lord’s judgment of the wicked destroying the wicked is demonstrated as descriptive more than prescriptive.
Mormon 5 (Cont’d)
9 And also that a knowledge of these things must come unto the remnant of these people, and also unto the Gentiles, who the Lord hath said should scatter this people, and this people should be counted as naught among them—therefore I write a small abridgment, daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen, because of the commandment which I have received, and also that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people.
Mormon makes an abridgement of his record. That this abridgement does not include the plates of Nephi is not only supported by his own words, that it is of the things which he has seen, but also by the footnote that link to Mormon 1:1 and not 1 Nephi 1:1.
At the age of 74, Mormon finishes his record by admonishing the gentiles to whom the record comes at a future date to accept and believe in the gospel, to build the church, lest a remnant of the seed of Jacob destroy them for doing otherwise. Mormon combines his record with the plates of Nephi, save a few plates for his son Moroni, and buries them at the hill Cumorah.
Based on the evidence, I am inclined to believe that Commander Mormon believed Captain Moroni’s decision to take up the sword was the best course of action at the outset of war and about the time it was most likely he had an opportunity to abridge the plates of Nephi and inscribe the infamous words that all men should be like Captain Moroni. But by the middle of the war, Commander Mormon undergoes a change and realizes the sword is making things worse, not better. He attempts to renounce war and proclaim peace, but the day of grace is past, the spirit of the Lord has ceased striving with both sides, and now he is consigned, without hope, to suffer the judgment of God. The wicked destroy the wicked and his only hope is to warn our day not to make the same mistake of breaking the gospel covenant by taking up the sword, of seeking vengeance, and neglecting The more excellent way of Christ by building the church.
Mormon’s son Moroni uses his portion of the plates to write only about the church. The prophet Moroni writes,
“Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.”