Jul 13, 2013

Columbus' Revelation

It is fashionable today to minimize the accomplishments of Christopher Columbus and dethrone him as the hero of the discovery of the Americas. All manner of evil is attributed to him, and his critics dredge up all 
sorts of rumors and innuendos to blacken his name.  He is even seen as the responsible party for the later genocide and enslavement of the Indians.  Yet the Lord seemed to favor him and blessed him with success in his endeavors. In fact, God probably used him as an instrument in accomplishing His purposes on this chosen land, and his discoveries fulfilled prophecies relating to the Indian descendants of Father Lehi.
The prophet Nephi was shown a vision of Columbus' future voyages of discovery. He prophesied “I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land (1 Ne. 13:12).”
This being true, we can assume that Columbus, although a mortal with faults common to man, was chosen and accepted of God. In fact, from his record we read that he felt that he was inspired in his quest (1), and he may have even received a direct revelation from the Lord. Many biographers ignore this incident, but in my opinion it was more than a simple random dream, and was an answer to his fervent prayers.
From a letter that he penned to the sovereigns of Spain on July 7, 1503 he tells of this incident, an incident that occurred as he was severely ill and separated from the other members of his expedition.
"I was outside [of the harbor] on so dangerous a coast [the coast of Panama], utterly alone, in a high fever and in a state of great exhaustion. Hope of escape was dead. I toiled up to the highest point of the ship, calling in a trembling voice, with fast falling tears, to the war captains of your highnesses, at every point of the compass, for succour, but never did they answer me. Exhausted, I fell asleep, groaning."
"I heard a very compassionate voice, saying: 'O fool and slow to believe and to serve thy God, the God of all! What more did He for Moses or for His servant David? Since thou wast born, ever has He had thee in His most watchful care. When He saw thee of an age with which He was content, He caused thy name to sound marvellously in the land. The Indies, which are so rich a part of the world, He gave thee for thine own; thou hast divided them as it pleased thee, and He enabled thee to do this. Of the barriers of the Ocean sea, which were closed with such mighty chains, He gave thee the keys; and thou wast obeyed in many lands and among the Christians thou hast gained honourable fame. What did He more for the people of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt? Or for David, whom from a shepherd He made to be king in Judea? Turn thyself to Him, and know now thine error; His mercy is infinite; thine old age shall [not] prevent thee from achieving all great things; He has many heritages very great. Abraham had passed a hundred years when he begat Isaac, and was Sarah young? Thou criest for help, doubting. Answer, who has afflicted thee so greatly and so often, God or the world? The rewards and promises which He gives, He does not bring to nothing, nor does He say, after He has received service, that His intention was not such and that it is to be differently regarded, nor does He inflict suffering in order to display His power. His deeds agree with His words; all that He promises, He performs with interest; is this the manner of men? I have said that which thy Creator has done for thee and does for all men. Now in part He shows thee the reward for the anguish and danger which thou hast endured in the service of others.'”
"I heard all this as if I were in a trance, but I had no answer to give to words so true, but could only weep for my errors. He, whoever he was, who spoke to me, ended saying: 'Fear not; have trust; all these tribulations are written upon marble and are not without cause (2, 3).'” 
Such an answer would be a great blessing to any mortal, and any of us would be honored to be so acknowledged by the Lord.  Perhaps this is why, when all the noble deceased founders of the United States were baptized in the Saint George temple, under the direction of President Wilford Woodruff, Christopher Columbus was among the number. Not only that, but he was honored with the calling of a high priest in the Lord's kingdom to assist in the Lord's work in the spirit world.  As for me, I would be honored to have Columbus as an acquaintance and friend. 

(1)   "With a hand that could be felt, the Lord opened my mind to the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. . . . This was a fire that burned within me who can doubt that this fire was not merely mine, but also of the Holy Spirit."  Columbus. 
Original Source: The Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Being the Journals of his First and Third, and the Letters Concerning his First and Last Voyages, to Which is Added the Account of his Second Voyage Written by Andres Bernaldez. Now newly Translated and Edited, with an Introduction and Notes, by Cecil Jane. London: The Argonaut Press, 1930.
(3)  Orson Hyde, an early apostle of the restoration, identifies this messenger as Moroni.  In a patriotic disscourse in the original tabernacle on July 4, 1854 he called Moroni the “guardian angel of America.” He said, “That same angel of God that appeared to Joseph Smith presides over the destiny of the United States of America.” Elder Hyde said that he [Moroni] was in the camp with George Washington. He [Moroni] helped George Washington when he had trouble. He said that same angel was with Christopher Columbus and gave him deep impressions and dreams and visions respecting the new world. He said that same angel was with Columbus on the stormy deep. He guided his frail vessel to the desired haven, and he calmed the troubled elements. (The Angel Moroni by Elder Glen L. Rudd. Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional, March 11, 2003 )


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  2. Thanks for sharing the letter by Columbus, and for the link to the source material which is fascinating.