This short sections feels quite familiar.
The treatment of children in relation to the church.
It is an indispensable duty of parents, imposed on them by the strictest bonds of nature and by the express word of the Lord, to raise their children in virtue and righteousness and to instill in their tender souls the true principles of piety and religion. All parents in our church who neglect these duties to their children are considered to be members acting contrary to the law and are admonished and treated accordingly.
All children who have been properly brought up and instructed and have thus reached their eighth year are considered at this time to have come to the knowledge of good and evil and are therefore capable of exercising faith and having remorse for theirs sins. Therefore they are baptized at this age and confirmed as members of the Church; and not sooner.
All those children who are under eight years of age and whose parents belong to our congregation must be brought to our church, where the elders lay their hands on them and bless them in the name of the Lord and consecrate them to the service of the Most High. (But no sprinkling with water takes place.)
Since a creature is considered responsible only for the real transgressions that it committed itself, and since sin is only attributed where a law was given — then a little unthinking child, susceptible to no law, has full claim to immortality and eternal life (“because for such,” says Christ, “is the kingdom of heaven”) through the merit of the death of our Savior. And this right can only be forfeited by the transgression of a law that is known when they have reached the age of reason, and such a transgression of the law mentioned makes repentance and baptism necessary for the remission of sins.
Mostly familiar. But “consecrat[ing infants] the service of the Most High” is new to me. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that done, though it may be a semantic more than a real difference between those blessings Hyde and I observed.
That struck me as unusual, too. I considered alternative translations like “dedicate,” which would also work, but the verb weihen is the same one used for dedicating churches, so I didn’t think “consecrate” was too tendentious.
FWIW, “consecrate” is what the Book of Mormon uses in a blessing/ordaining/setting apart sense:
2 Nephi 5:36
26 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people.
17 And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God. Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers; and none were consecrated except they were just men.
It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to consecrate children in that sense of setting them apart from the world.
The reference to Book of Mormon usage is really interesting. It’s these small but surprising gaps between Hyde’s language and today (and the comments pointing them out to me) that make this project worth pursuing. When was the last time a baby was consecrated to the service of the Lord in your ward?
Not in MY ward, but this is getting closer to early usage — here’s Joseph Smith writing from Liberty Jail, 16 Dec 1838:
“Some have reported that we not only dedicated our property, but likewise our families to the Lord, and Satan taking advantage of this has transfigured it into lasciviousness, a community of wives, which things are an abomination in the sight of God. When we consecrate our property to the Lord, it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy according to the laws of God, and when a man consecrates or dedecates [dedicates] his wife and children to the Lord, he does not give them to his brother or to his neighbor; which is contrary to the law of God, which says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife” “He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already in his heart.”-Now for a man to consecrate his property, his wife and children to the Lord is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the widows and fatherless, the sick and afflicted; and do all he can to administer to their relief in their afflictions, and for himself and his house to serve the Lord. In order to do this he and all his house must be virtuous and “shun every appearance of evil. Now if any person, has represented any thing otherwise than what we now write they have willfully misrepresented us.”
Thanks, Ardis, for that quotation from Joseph.
I expect to use it.
I’m curious about the use of the word ‘creature’ in the last paragraph. A knowledgeable Trinitarian believes a creature to be anything which God created out of nothing – which is everything except for the Trinity itself. Thus to a certain audience the last paragraph would be understood to mean:
“Since a living being that God created out of nothing is considered responsible only for the real transgressions…”
Would Elder Hyde or the intended audience been aware of this alternate (for Latter-day Saints) meaning?
From the Websters 1828 entry #1 for the word creature:
That which is created; every being besides the Creator, or every thing not self-existent. The sun, moon and stars; the earth, animals, plants, light, darkness, air, water, etc., are the creatures of God.
Bryan, I was curious about Hyde’s use of Kreatur as well. It probably doesn’t even take a Trinitarian to be aware of the Creator – creature distinction and its theological implications. I also don’t know to what extent different understandings of creation had been propagated by Hyde’s time.