Long ago a man asked a wise old priest the mysteries of happiness and long life.

Greetings all my relations,

Today with great honor we will continue our study of The Book of Shimlei;

Chapter Three

1) Now behold, it is as I said, that many visitors came from across the sea to visit the Nemenhah of Mentinah.

For behold, the People of Hagoth of the Sea did also find their way home again.

For, they found that during certain times of the year the storms did abate and the currents were conducive to travel into the east.

And behold, during these times they did venture homeward again, but this only after they had become established in the islands.

2) Wherefore, they told many stories of their journeys and also knew of the visit of Jesus to the people of the Lands Southward and Northward.

And they also told of His visit to them in the islands of the sea, but that is told in their own records and I shall not repeat their writing here.

3) But, it is enough for me to say that our brethren in the islands did transmit many things that they learned unto the people they met in their much travel and trade with the peoples of the lands into the west.

And so it came to pass that many scholars did hear of us and our doing and they did wish to know more about us.

Wherefore, they have traveled far distances to come to the temple at Mentinah and to read from the books in the mountains.

4) And from time to time, we did also send our own messengers and scholars into far places. For, we did also wish to know of the Lord’s dealing with other peoples.

Yea, and we did also wish to educate ourselves of the dealings that other peoples had with their neighbors, that we might know which we might consider friends and which we did ought to consider enemies.

5) And we did enjoy peace in all the Land Northward during all the days of my stewardship as high priest of the Nemenhah of Mentinah. And behold, we did build cities and towns and we did establish outposts in many places.

Yea, our numbers grew and we did establish Zion in our hearts and also upon all the face of the land.

6) But, we did not as the people of the Land Southward. For, we saw no purpose in restoring the system of government which they had before the coming of the Lord. For, they did return to the old system in many places and we do continually fear that the same vices and difficulties might come again among the people.

Wherefore, we did not reestablish in the land that system whereby the people of the Land Southward do govern themselves, but we did keep to the system that Shi-Tugohah and our first fathers established.

 And behold, it seems wisdom in me that I write these things unto a day far sundered from me. For, even as my fathers have said in their writings, I feel that I do make my record for those of my posterity who might need wisdom from a forgotten age and a forgotten time.

I declare unto you, whomsoever might read these words, the things which you experience, yea,the trials and extremities, the wars and the disease and famine, the persecutions at the hands of evil men, yea, in fine, all the tribulations of your times, are not any different than those suffered by any other people. They are a part of the life that we took upon ourselves.

8) Wherefore, your trials are my trials. Yea, your tribulations are my tribulations. Your anxieties are not far sundered from those from which I suffer and I suffer in no wise differently than you. Your days are just as mine.

I speak to you words of wisdom, as the Spirit dictates unto me, words that I might speak even unto my own sons and daughters. For, your sojourn is not different than mine or theirs.

9) Long ago a young man asked a wise old priest the mysteries of happiness and long life.

Yea, he did ask the elder to reveal to him the secret of his long life and his great contentment.

Verily, the old man said to the youth:

10) Today, I am richer than I was yesterday.

Yea, today, I am happier than I was yesterday.

Of a certainty, today I am more content and more at peace than when I trod this same path yesterday.

11) And the youth continued to press the elder for the key to this contentment and happiness and he replied to the youth with these words:

12) Surely, I am at peace in all things.

My neighbor sues me at the law and before the Council, but I am content.

My children dishonor me and do not the ways of the Lord, and yet my heart is peaceful.

The nation rages against our neighbors with war and strife and yet I am content.

13) And again the youth pressed him saying:

14) How can these things be?

How may a man be at peace when the world around him is in tribulation?

How may all things be in commotion and yet the man have rest?

This thing I must know, wherefore, tell me, my uncle, the answer to my inquiry.

Yea, reveal to me the secret of happiness.

15) Then the old one looked deeply into the youth and answered him in these words:

16) Yesterday I was richer than I am today.

I had house and hearth. I had chattel and furniture.

I had lands and stock. I had fine clothes and a ring on my finger.

I had tapestries and rugs.

Yea, my home was warm in winter.

Verily, I had food on my table and the storehouse was full.

I gave of my surplus and my neighbors also lacked nothing.

17) And again the youth pressed him, for he desired to have all things wherewith the elder was blessed.

And the old man replied unto him, saying:

18) I am richer today than I was yesterday.

For, wherein yesterday I had all things, today I have nothing and I walk the road without shoes on my feet.

19) And, hearing these words the young man went away with sorrow thinking that he had spent his inquiry upon a fool.

20) And the Lord spake a parable unto my fathers when He came unto the Nemenhah of Mentinah. Yea, He spake a parable unto my fathers and my grandfathers, unto my mothers and my grandmothers.

Verily, He said unto them:

21) When I did sojourn in the land of your fathers, even the land of Jerusalem, a very rich young man came to me and asked me what he should do to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, I say unto you, To such a question there can be but one answer. For, in all times there has been one requisite to entering into My Kingdom. I told him to keep the commandments whereby I have taught men and women in all ages to care for each other and do no injury to men or God.

22) And behold, the young man replied that he had done all that from his youth, wherein did he lack? Upon his inquiry I did tell him to go and give all that he had to the poor and come follow me. Hearing this, he went away sorrowfully, for he was a very rich man and he discerned that he had not done my will in all his days.

Yea, he sorrowed because, thinking he was righteous because he followed the law as it had been taught unto him, he had but followed the will of men unto men, and he sorrowed for the sake of his own soul.

23) Now, I say unto you, Blessed is he, and salvation is his in the Kingdom of My Father, because of his sorrow.

24) Yea, this was a parable which Jesus taught unto my forefathers.

Wherefore, I do ask this question unto all who might read the words that I write:

How was the old man made more content because he had less?

And how was the youth made more righteous because of his sorrow?

Behold, has the Lord not entreated us all to come unto Him?

Wherein may we truly come unto him if our hearts are set upon the things of the world?

It is a question.

25) The old man was encumbered by his property.

Yea, his possessions weighed upon him and he was unable to fully answer his Lord.

When he gave up that which held him bound to the world, then did he also feel a freedom and liberty he had not known.

Liberated from his burden of property, he felt free to approach his King.

26) The young man sorrowed because he believed the words and teachings of the wise, wherein they taught him to see to every good thing and to attend to the performance of every good work.

When the Lord taught him the purpose of good works, he sorrowed because he had invested so much of his strength in the words and wisdom of men. Yea, great was his sorrow in knowing that he had prospered in the sight of men but not in his Master’s sight.

27) Is this not a great lesson unto us?

Is it to be deemed sin or untoward to own a piece of land?

I think not.

This is not the message.

It is a burden placed upon us by the Lord to shepherd and safeguard His vineyard.

It is good that men and women labor with their hands and with their talents, to provide for their families, as also for the family of God.

Wherefore, I deem it not sin to own or shepherd.

28) Nevertheless, if such stewardship be only for pleasure, or to please men, then it does not please God. To live for such pleasure becomes burdensome indeed, and when such burden is lifted, one may only imagine the joy such liberty might cause to rise in the heart of one so unburdened.

29) And if in this life there is no lasting happiness except in pleasing God, then how sorrowful might one feel, indeed, to discover that a lifetime of labor pleasing men has brought one riches, but not of a lasting character?

For, the Lord pleases Himself in prospering those who love Him and follow Him.

Wherefore, the young man, discovering that his life work could not please God, must have also known that his prosperity could not be lasting.

He, having striven all his days to do that which men called holy, and discovering that he served only himself and the pride of the world, bent himself low unto the Lord and
went away, not denying the Lord, but to do His will.

He sorrowed for the life he had led following the words and will of men and of the world, and for the greater, lasting good he might have accomplished had he but followed the Lord instead.

30) So let us also consider our lives.

Let us not dedicate ourselves to the word and will of men.

Let us put off of ourselves the yoke of the world.

Let us do all that we do for a higher purpose than to prove to our neighbors and our kin, by our great possessions, that we have been diligent in providing for all our wants.

It is enough to so provide. Let us not spend our lives demonstrating to men that we have done the wise thing, leaving nothing unattended.

31) For, if I do a thing, I do it to please myself that I find pleasure in that God who made me.

If I please my maker I shall certainly please myself.

But, if I am motivated by what my neighbor thinks is wise, or if I wear out my life in pursuit of what my neighbor possesses, that I might be favorably compared with my neighbor in the sight of men, then I have received my reward and ought to be content.

But behold, can I truly be content with that which I have become by serving the god of this world instead of the God of the universe?

I say unto you, Nay!

32) And behold, our brethren from the Land Southward did entreat us to take up once again that system whereby they did govern themselves. But we did not. And they did entreat us to become one even with them in the ways they chose to serve the Lord and their fellowman.

And we chose to adhere to that which we had been taught by the Lord and His prophets.

And I tell you, it is good that we did.

For behold, in my grandfather’s day, the Lord Jesus Christ did come to visit the Nemenhah of Mentinah.

And He did call the people blessed because of the manner in which they did all seek His face and follow His counsel.

Shall we then bow to our brethren and neighbors in the manner in which we do follow our Lord?
And I do not suggest that our brethren are evil, or that they entreat us out of evil intent.

But, it is certain that to set one man, or set of men, over the governance of the people, or to set up a system of governance that elevates a man above the stature and station of his neighbor, does invite the Gadiantonhem in.

This is what we desire not to see in the lands of the Nemenhah.

35) And behold, the lands of the Nemenhah are great.

And they extend from the sea eastward even unto the
sea westward.

And behold, all the lands in the midst of them are peopled by Nemenhah and there are cities and villages of the Nemenhah in all of them.

36) Wherefore, if we did cease to govern ourselves in the manner in which the Lord has shown us, could we hope to protect so great a land from the secret combinations of old? Could we expect to keep them out of our midst? Know that we could not.

37) Look upon this record and read my words, ye Nemenhah in days to come. For, three generations have not passed but that there has begun to rise up among the People of the Land Southward, a heart filled with pride, yea, a prosperous and rebellious heart has found place here and there among them. I do not say that their cities are overcome with Gadiantonhem once again. But, I do fear for them. For, the system of judges which they do employ, yea, of greater and lesser judges, does set up a class of men who are higher and have more opportunity than their neighbors.

I do fear for them.

to be continued…cj

Chapter Four

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