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The conversation was interesting because there were some investigators (people considering joining the Mormon church) as well as some “seasoned” Mormons in attendance. When I asked questions about the importance of scripture, I noticed that most of the non-Mormons revered the Bible and most of the Mormons in the class acknowledged the Bible, but didn’t hold it as high as the Book of Mormon.
Mormons’ View of Scriptures
For those of you who are not as familiar with Mormons’ view of scriptures, I’ll briefly go over each scripture along with some quotes by LDS prophets on each.
If you ask a Mormon if they believe in the Bible the answer will always be “yes”. However, for most Mormons there is a little asterisk next to that yes because, according to Mormon belief:
We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly (see Articles of Faith 1:8)
Mormons believe that there was an apostasy after the original apostles died and over the years, parts of the Bible were removed, therefore the Bible is not the complete book that it once was.
In fact, the Book of Mormon has scriptures that discuss the “plain and precious truths” that were taken away from the Bible, thus making the Bible an incomplete book as to containing the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Joseph Smith worked throughout his life on what he called the “inspired version” of the Bible, which includes additions to the King James Bible that he received through revelation. Although he never was able to complete the version, Mormons have the Joseph Smith Translation included in many of their scriptures (they do not claim this to be the official Bible, but have it to offer “insight”.)
I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book (Book of Mormon Introduction)
Many Mormon Apostles and Prophets have voiced of the importance of the Book of Mormon and even declare blessings that will come into ones’ life when studying the Book. The late prophet, Ezra Taft Benson said:
It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance. (see talk: The Book of Mormon: Keystone of our Religion)
Since this talk was given by Ezra Taft Benson in 1986, I feel that many Mormons have focused heavily on reading the Book of Mormon above any other scripture, which is what I witnessed in the Sunday School class.
The Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) are revelations that were given to Mormon prophets (mostly Joseph Smith) dealing with various doctrines and organizational structure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) that aren’t found in either the Bible or Book of Mormon in detail.
Some of the key revelations (in my opinion) include: how to receive answers to prayer, organizational structure of the Church, Priesthood defined and execution of callings within the priesthood, revelation on the Three degrees of glory (heaven), and The Word of Wisdom (no alcohol, coffee, etc.).
The Pearl of Great Price (PGP) has two books (Moses and Abraham) that Joseph Smith translated from papyri that was found. It contains more details on the first books of Genesis in the Bible.
Joseph Smith’s history is also included here. The history is mainly his account of his First Vision, or when God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him to reestablish Jesus’ church.
In addition to these books, the PGP has the Articles of Faith (similar to a Creed), a revelation from a later prophet declaring it illegal to practice polygamy anymore, and a revelation extending the priesthood to black members.
One of the unique aspects of Mormonism is the claim that their church leaders are prophets, or mouthpieces, for the Lord. As such, most Mormons believe that the writings of the apostles and prophet found in Church publications such as the Ensign are to be considered scriptural.
Which Scripture is Most Important?
A case can be made for each scripture. For example, without the Bible, there wouldn’t be any of the other scriptures because Joseph Smith was led to pray for guidance from a scripture he read from the Bible.
On the other hand, Mormon prophets have declared the Book of Mormon the most important book…but if Mormons only had the Book of Mormon, they wouldn’t know exactly how to run the church and additional components to the faith such as the Word of Wisdom, eternal marriage, etc. wouldn’t exist.
Finally, I can see how some people would feel that Modern-day Prophets’ revelations trump all of the other scriptures (such as doing away with polygamy and using water instead of wine for communion).
Just for fun, I’ll close with a poll for you to rank what you feel is the most important scripture.
Jeff Lindsay thinks Joseph Smith’s greatest legacy is the Book of Mormon. I agree with him and personally feel that the Book of Mormon is probably his greatest legacy for me personally because reading it has literally changed my life.
However, there are many more things that Joseph Smith accomplished in his lifetime that I thought it would be worth highlighting some of them since this month is his birthday. In fact, John Taylor (the Church’s 3rd president) went so far to say that “Joseph Smith has done more save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.“
Some things off the top of my head that I can think of that Joseph Smith left behind include: temples, translation of the Bible, Doctrine and Covenants, eternal marriage, and the organization of the Church. I’m sure there are tons more that I’m not thinking of, so that’s where you come in!
Below is a poll that includes a list of the major good things Joseph Smith accomplished. Take the poll and leave a comment on your favorite legacy left by Joseph Smith.
Recently, a Sunday School lesson in our Mormon Church was on a Book of Mormon prophet named Enos. His account is very short in the Book of Mormon, but it is a very important chapter in the Book.
In short, he describes a long prayer and process he goes through to receive forgiveness from his sins through Jesus Christ. His description could be described as what is commonly known in Christian circles as a “born again” experience because he prays and confesses Jesus as his Savior and asks Him to take away his sins. He then is filled with the Holy Spirit and prays for his fellow friends and his enemies alike.
As I reflected on Enos’ experience, it reminded me of my own.
When I was in my early teenage years, I had been already living a pretty devious life and was full of hatred and anger. Through the grace of God I picked up a Book of Mormon and read it within a few weeks. At the end of the Book of Mormon, I had a very big desire to pray and know if the concepts in the Book were true. The concepts in the book include the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes: faith, repentance, baptism, committing our lives to the Lord, and receiving the Holy Spirit.
According to a modern Mormon prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, for every one person who has a “born again experience” such as Enos, there are thousands of people who do not have a huge manifestation of the Holy Spirit all at once. Rather, it comes gradually as we keep the commandments of God.
I feel fortunate to have had an experience like that of Enos. Immediately after I prayed, I felt a warmth come all over me and a love and desire to share the Good News with my fellow man. From the age of 13 (when I had this experience) I had the desire to go on a mission and tell the world about the gospel. My mission was everything I dreamed it would be. Although I was in a country (Germany) whose people didn’t accept the gospel with open arms, I still grew to love the Lord and the German people. If I hadn’t had this born again experience as a younger man, I’m not sure that I would have been able to be so motivated to go on a mission, and the experience is something I reflect on almost daily that sustains my faith now.
I would be curious to see how many people out there have had a “born again” experience. If you have, please share. If not, please share how you have experienced receiving the Spirit and a testimony of Jesus.
Mormon churches meet in congregations organized geographically called “wards”. 8-10 wards combine to make a “stake”. Every six months the LDS, or Mormon Church organizes a meeting where the stake called “Stake Conference”. At the stake conference, leaders of the stake (the Stake Presidency, organized by a president and 2 counselors) addresses the congregation on matters they feel that are necessary for the members of the stake.
The theme chosen by our stake presidency was charity.
Typically, when we think of charity today, we think of giving money or means to people suffering. This is charity, indeed, but the scriptures show that charity is deeper than that.
In 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 (KJV), Paul states that charity is the greatest gift to have, even greater than that of knowledge, prophecy, and faith.
In the Book of Mormon, in the book of Moroni, chapter 7, the prophet Mormon shares some thoughts on charity that are similar (almost verbatim in some parts) as Paul. Some key differences are that he includes a definition of what charity is (it is the pure love of Christ see v. 48) and that we should pray daily that we can be filled with that love so that when we come before Christ we are filled with His love.
With these thoughts in mind, I’ll share some points one of the counselors of the Stake Presidency shared with us in how we can develop Charity. He told us there are 10 ways, which include:
1. Daily Prayer
2. Daily Scripture Study (preferably in the beginning of the day)
3. Attending Sacrament Meeting (Communion)
4-10. He said to fill these ones in according to what we feel moved to do.
Therefore, for a fun little activity, I thought I could enlist some help from those of you who stop by and read frequently.
What would you list on 4-10 on how we can develop christ-like love in our lives?
P.S. One thing that stood out to me from his talk was to begin within the walls of our own home. Sometimes it’s very easy to be kind to others and serve others but difficult to be nice to our own family.
At an early age, I had my life changed as millions of other people have had through reading the Book of Mormon and feeling the power of Jesus Christ enter into my life.
I was in a dark place at a very young age following my parents’ divorce and was heading down a very wrong path. When I was around 12 years old, I came across a copy of the Book of Mormon and started reading it. Although I was very young and didn’t understand all of the concepts and words, I felt a peace I desparately needed at that time.
After a few months of reading the Book of Mormon, I read what is commonly called “Moroni’s Promise” at the end of the Book of Mormon, which basically states that if you pray to God about what you’ve read in the Book of Mormon and ask if it is true, He will manifest it to you that it is true through the power of the Holy Spirit. I prayed, and for the first time in my life I felt the love of God sweep through my soul and any desire to continue to sin be removed from me. I committed to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and gospel I had read in the Book of Mormon (which is the same as in the Bible) at that time.
Shortly thereafter, my Grandmother became very ill. On what was her last Christmas before she passed away, in 1989, she gave me a gift I hold very dear to me. She knew how impactful the Book of Mormon had been for me so she gave me her only copy of a replica of the original Book of Mormon along with her last written words to me, as seen in the pictures below:
Words can’t really describe the impact the teachings found in the Book of Mormon have had on me, but I’ll attempt to share my feelings. Through the teachings of Jesus Christ found within the Book of Mormon, I was able to lay a foundation for my life at a young age that has helped me overcome the negative affects in my life that came as a result of my parents’ divorce. Although the path hasn’t been easy, I have studied and grown closer to Heavenly Father through reading the Book of Mormon.
Not only has the Book of Mormon helped me, but it has helped millions of other people. Most recently, my younger brother was able to overcome some of his obstacles he has faced in his life through an experience with reading and studying the Book of Mormon. I asked him to share some of his thoughts for the readers of this blog, and he was kind enough to do so. Below are some of his thoughts:
It’s easier to express myself in person about this topic, because words can’t get the feeling across that I would like to portray in my message. As I get choked up right now speaking of this and as tears begin in my eyes, I want you all to know that I firmly believe in the Book of Mormon and its message. I believe that it is a testament of Christ and it can shape our lives in a way that is principal oriented and emotionally edifying if we abide by its teachings and mold our desires to those of the Prophets therein.
I have never been more focused in my entire life than I was when I was engulfed and excited for each new verse. I have ADHD and have always had an issue with focusing and not being impulsive, but when I actually pondered the meanings of this book and “desired” to read it, my mind was pacified and my concerns and worries seemed very small. My being was elevated to another level. I did pray frequently when I was pondering the Book of Mormon as well, but they seemed to go hand in hand for me. The difficult things in life that were in the forefront of my mind grew smaller and smaller with each day that I consumed each page. I can’t begin to even express the miracles this Book did for me and my belief in who I could become. Lord thank you so much, for all the effort in how this book was pieced together. Its just so hard for me to depict my feelings on this Book through words alone.
I truly believe that without the Book of Mormon I would not be who I am today. My friends I want you to please try to understand the meaning and passion behind what I am writing. I have not always wanted to be a part of religion, regardless of what denomination and questioned at times if there was even a God. The Book of Mormon forced my mind and utterly all of me to either believe the teachings of a God and a Christ or not to. I could not deny the way it made me feel and the peacefulness it brought to my mind. I cannot deny the way my soul understood the principals it is trying to reach out and explain to all individuals and nations! …I truly believe in this book and I believe in a Christ and in God the Father as well. Once again I apologize sincerely if my closeness to the spirit right now hasn’t been felt through these small writings, but even if nothing has been felt at all through my words alone, please know that I truly believe in the Book of Mormons‘ message and I would honestly choose this book over literally any other book in the world to read. That is not a lie. I would choose this book over any.
Seth Morgan Anderson
There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. … When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.
Personally, I have seen his words not only be good advice, but be prophetic in my life and those close to me. I encourage those who haven’t seriously studied the Book of Mormon to do so in conjunction with their Bible study this year. Also, I encourage those who have had a personal experience with the Book of Mormon that has helped them to share their testimony in the comment section below.
I was reading some of the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible to my boss on a recent business trip as I prepared to teach my Sunday school class this week. He wasn’t raised in any particular religion, although he thinks he may have been baptized Catholic when he was a baby. After a few verses from Helaman in the Book of Mormon he finally cut me off, frustrated, and said
“Why do scriptures have to be so hard to understand. The reason no one wants to read or learn about religion is because things are written in such difficult language. The whole time you were reading I was trying to figure out what the last sentence meant and got more and more confused as you read. You would get more converts if you had a book written in modern-day language!”
His point was a valid one. For those of us brought up in a relgion that uses the KJV Bible or the Book of Mormon, we have become used to the old English. However, it is still hard to understand sometimes.
There are many modern-day translations of the Bible to address the concerns of my friend, but I hadn’t heard of any modern-day Book of Mormon translations. However, after a little research, I found one. There is a free interactive site that has it, or you can purchase one new or used on Amazon. It is called A Plain English version of the Book of Mormon and has some sample pages listed for readers to get a feel for how it is written.
I think it’s a great idea to have a modern-day version of scripture. I’ve been frustrated many times trying to decipher what words mean.
In closing, I’d like to pose the question: Do you believe using a modern-day version of scripture would increase converts? Why or why not?
Recently I had a very nice gentleman stop by and leave the following comment on my blog:
You are a rare person to see common ground between the LDS and non-LDS Christians. I’ve been looking for someone like you for a long time. I’d like to know more about what you believe and how our heavenly Father brought you to your current level of revelation.
This message is in response to his inquiry on knowing more about what I believe and how Heavenly Father brought me to my current level of revelation.
I have not always believed in the LDS religion. In fact, for a time, I was very bitter towards it and filled with hate for Mormons. I was young when my parents were divorced, but as a result I put blame on my father for splitting up our family. My father was LDS and my mother was baptized LDS but left the LDS church and became an Evangelical Christian.
After my parents divorced I lived with my mother and sisters. We went to the LDS church for a few months after the divorce, but soon started attending other churches. I started regularly attending the Baptist church and also spent some time in the Presbetyrian and Lutheran churches as well. As a young man, I learned many great things at these churches and met some very wonderful people who helped me learn of God and Jesus Christ. Also during this time I was taught many things about the LDS church that made me dislike the church even more. During this time, my hate towards the LDS church was very strong and also towards my father. I wouldn’t even go and visit him as a result. However, after a couple years of avoiding my father, I decided it would be good to at least go and meet my new little brother who my Dad and Step-mother had just had. I decided to go and visit my father.
I was a very young man at the time I visited my Dad and I clearly remember one of the first things I told him when I saw him was that I was not going to set foot in an LDS church. However, I ended up seeing the love in my Dad’s heart for the Lord and the way he treated others. I did end up going to church and witnessed the same thing and my heart was softened towards the LDS people. It didn’t take me very long to begin to feel the Spirit of the Lord in a way that I never had at any other church. I soon decided to read the Book of Mormon. After reading the Book of Mormon, the following passage stood out to me in Moroni chapter 10:
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
The scripture stood out to me and I received a desire to pray to know if the things found in the Book of Mormon were true. I remember thinking that if I were to pray and find these things out that many questions would be answered for me including: is there a God, is Jesus our Savior, will God answer prayers, is the LDS church true?
Almost instictually I dropped to my knees and offered a simple prayer asking if it was true. As I prayed, I felt a warm feeling come over me that filled me with a love and happiness I had never before felt. I felt a desire come into my heart to share the gospel with people who may not know of God and Jesus. I felt born again as a new person as the hatred I had been holding onto dissolved into love and a desire to tell people of Jesus Christ and his teachings.
That was the first experience I had with God and being born again as a new creature as the scripture in 2 Corinthians 5 discusses. Since that time I’ve had many more experiences with God answering prayers through visions, feelings form the Holy Spirit, scriptures in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and through listening to prophetic voices.
I’ve shared these experiences because I feel it is the foundation for the answer to both of the questions posed by my evangelical brother who stopped by and I will now answer his questions.
I believe in a God who loves each one of us and who is liberal in His blessings to His children all over the world. I believe we are created in His image and have potential to become like He is. I believe in Jesus Christ and that through Him one can be saved both physically and spiritually. I believe that God will speak to us through many ways including scriptures like the Bible and Book of Mormon, but also other good books as well. I believe that if we strive daily to stay close to God, he will stay close to us through His Holy Spirit, which will guide us in our daily walk through life. I believe that when we make mistakes, through repentance made possible from the atonement of Jesus, all of us can be forgiven for any sin we commit and I know that the Lord will help us overcome any weakness we have and help it become a strength.
Since I have family who are both LDS and non-LDS Christians, I have the unique opportunity and blessing to see how God works in many ways. I have seen that the beliefs that I stated are shared by both my LDS and non-LDS family and friends. Throughout my life since I decided to be active in the LDS faith, I have seen many amazing miracles as I’ve served others through missionary service, church service, and in my family. My brother-in-law and sister are missionaries for an Evangelical Church called the Puget Sound Christian Center. They have blessed the lives of many young people in their ministry and I have seen the Lord bless their lives as a result. They have genuine hearts and are true Christians. (you can learn more about their ministry on this website: http://ignite-plu.blogspot.com/).
In addition to this, I have been blessed as my mother, who is not an LDS Christian anymore, has shared with me some very inspirational books and messages from Christian preachers and pastors who I would normally not hear from in the LDS church. As I listen to sermons from the late Adrian Rogers and other pastors, I have felt the same Spirit that I feel when I listen to the LDS General Authorities as they speak in General Conference and elsewhere. I feel that the Spirit of Christ confirms truth and truth can be found anywhere that people are sharing the gospel of Jesus.
At a young age I was exposed to various Christian denomonations as I have throughout my life. I can not say that I always have felt a bond towards their faith, especially after I joined the LDS faith. However, as I have opened my eyes to try and see things how God sees them (a life-long pursuit in all areas!) I have been blessed to see a common ground between our faith in Jesus Christ and also the power of prayer in both of our faiths. As my fellow Evangelical brother stated in his comments, both faiths are Christian faiths.
Maybe it is a rare thing to find common ground between LDS and non-LDS Christians, but to you LDS people who struggle to find good in Christians of other faiths, and for you Christians you find it difficult to find good in LDS I encourage both parties to let go and pray to see each other as God sees all of us. I know that as you do you will find that you learn more about yourself, God, and others.
I came across some interesting Book of Mormon geography theories. Some of which I was familiar with and a few that were new to me. I found them interesting to read through. I’m sure there are more theories out there, but here are a few for you to read through. I’ve included links for more information on each theory on the titles of the theory.
As you can see in this map, this theory is the one in which people believe the main location for the Book of Mormon is in Central America and Mexico. The theory is that the land and continent formation is the same as today for the most part and that the archeological findings in that area could be related to Book of Mormon people. It is also a limited geography model in that the geography covers just parts of the Americas rather than all of North and South America.
This theory is similar to the first theory, except the geography covers most of North and Central America and it also includes areas of the Carribean that have sunk into the ocean that appear to be cities and/or civilizations.
This theory is a relatively new one that I found the other day which claims that Lehi and company landed on the Baja Penninsula in Mexico. The theory is that this is one of the only locations in the world that supports a Meditteranean climate similar to the one Lehi and his family departed from.
This theory is that the whole Book of Mormon took place around the Great Lakes region.
This one is another relatively new theory. The theory is that the archeological findings in Mesoamerica do not support Book of Mormon civilizations and also that Lehi and company couldn’t feasibly make the journey 16,000 miles to the Americas. Therefore, they landed on the Malay Penninsula , which is in the area of Singapore and Thailand.
So now it’s your turn to share your thoughts. Which theory do you believe in or do you not believe in any of them? Take time to vote on which theory you believe in and feel free to leave a comment as well.
I recently read a great post over on the Mormanity website on a guy named “Bookslinger” who has been flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible.
After reading this post and the comments people mentioned how the Bookslinger isn’t currently a member of the LDS church, but after reading Bookslinger’s website I can see he’s a dedicated disciple of Jesus. On this site, he shares amazing stories of meeting people from all walks of life and languages and sharing both the Bible and Book of Mormon with them.
After learning that he isn’t currently a member of the LDS church it reminded me of the Baptist Preacher who believes in the Book of Mormon and preaches it to his congregation.
Personally, I have seen the power of Jesus that comes from reading the words of the Book of Mormon. After I read the Book of Mormon when I was 13 I had an intense desire to share it with the world. I have personally experienced what Joseph Smith stated when he said the Book of Mormon will bring you closer to God than any other book.
People may wonder how one can be a firm believer in the Book of Mormon but be a member of the LDS church.
Personally I think it is awesome that these people are true to their testimonies of the Book of Mormon even though for whatever reason they are not currently members of the LDS church. I hope we can all learn from their examples in sharing the scriptures with others.
Due to various circumstances there are people like those mentioned who are not members of the LDS church. Why do you think some people aren’t members yet still believe?
I can tell from some of the comments below that my intention for this post didn’t come across like I’d like it to have.
As LDS I feel we too often focus on one’s “membership” status in the church. We are all sinners and beggars and are all in need. I wanted to highlight the good that many “non-members” of the LDS church do and how God works through them. I apologize if the post came across as being offensive to Bookslinger, the Baptist Preacher, or anyone else.
Today in church some words from the Hymn “In Humility our Savior” stuck out to me. The verse is the end of the second verse and reads as follows:
…Then, when we have proven worthy
Of thy sacrifice divine,
Lord, let us regain thy presence;
Let thy glory round us shine.
“When we have proven worthy” stuck out to me. I thought to myself how none of us are really worthy of Christ’s sacrifice, but he did it for us anyways and it is through his Grace that we are saved. I decided to look at the scriptures and see what they have to say.
I looked in Romans, chapter 10 verse 4 to start with, which reads:
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
According to this scripture alone it appears that all one needs to do is believe in Jesus since he’s the end of the law to be saved.
The next scripture that came to mind was James 2:19 that states the devils also believe in God.
So if the Devil believes in God and belief is all that one needs why then isn’t the Devil saved?
The answers are found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Later in Romans 10:10 we read:
It appears that there is a difference between merely believing in God and believing with one’s heart.
In the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 2 we read how our hearts should be in order to have the type of belief that will result in salvation. Verses 6-10 read as follows:
8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, asave it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who blayeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the cresurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.9 Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make aintercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.10 And because of the intercession for aall, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be bjudged of him according to the truth and choliness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the dpunishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the eatonement—