(As I immigrated to America) The Prophet Joseph Smith was at the pier. At first glance I could tell it was him, by his noble expression. He came on board to shake hands and welcome us by many encouraging words, and express his thankfulness that we had arrived in safety. As he could not stay with us, he sent Apostle Geo. A. Smith to preach on board. “What did you come here for?” asked he. “To be instructed in the ways of the Lord,” answered someone. [Apostle Smith said,] “I tell you, you have come to the thrashing floor, and after you have been thrashed and pounded you will have to go through the fanning mill, where the chaff will be blown away and the wheat remain.” (The troubles of Nauvoo were just coming upon them).
In fact, is it not possible that one reason so many parallels and resemblances exist between the fulness of the gospel and the various approximations of the truth is that men and women are responding to what might be called “spirit memories” of the past? These would be intimations of things we once knew that now seem just out of conscious awareness. President Joseph F. Smith observed: “All those salient truths which come home so forcibly to the head and heart seem but the awakening of the memories of the spirit. Can we know anything here that we did not know before we came?” (Gospel Doctrine, 13). Is this not why so many who join the Church recognize in the teachings of the missionaries things that they feel they have always known, things, interestingly enough, that are not necessarily to be found in their former religion? We generally refer to those who come into the Church as converts, implying that they turned from another belief to embrace the testimony of the Restoration. While that happens in many instances, those who are baptized will often say, “Everything the missionaries told me I already believed!” That which we call a conversion often seems to be the awakening of a distant memory, an echo from the past. “People ask me why I left my old church,” the convert says. “I tell them it was not a matter of leaving my old church so much as it was a matter of coming home.”
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