CLICK HERE to read Moroni 8.
Moroni shares a letter his father wrote to him when he was young and first began serving (verse 1). His father’s tender words open with the reminder that the Savior is mindful of him (us), and that He is the one who calls us to serve (verse 2). Mormon reassures Moroni (and us) that the Savior, through His goodness and grace, “will keep you through the endurance of faith on His name to the end” (verse 3).
Mormon then goes on to warn us against disputations, or contention that the adversary uses to separate us, which does make us vulnerable to being destroyed (to destroying ourselves by trying to destroy each other) (verse 4). He specifically addresses the issue of baptizing children (verses 5-6). He shares that he prayed and that the following (verse 8) was revealed to him (verse 7):
Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin…
So Mormon taught Moroni (and us) that this is why we do not baptize infants or little children (verse 9), because they are not yet accountable (verse 10). Repentance is for the remission of sins for those who have broken commandments, but little children are still learning what commandments are and developing their ability to make choices – and so cannot, with full consent by understanding the consequences, break commandments – so they have no need for repentance (verse 11). “Little children are alive in Christ” (verse 12), and God would not send babies to hell just because they have not been baptized (verse 13). Anyone who thinks God would do such a thing has no “faith, hope, nor charity” (verse 14), because it is a wicked thing to think God would save one infant because it was baptized, but send another baby to hell because it was not (verse 15). To deny mercy to one who has done nothing wrong is to make the atonement meaningless (verse 20). If the atonement was nothing, we would all be in danger (verse 21).
“Perfect love casteth out all fear” (verse 16), and if we love God, then we are not afraid. His perfect plan demands justice only of those who need it, and has also provided the way for mercy for those who need it. But justice does not demand itself of babies, and so there is no need for mercy (verse 19). Instead, infants fill us with the love of God, “a perfect love” (verse 17), an unchanging love “from all eternity to eternity” (verse 18).
For behold, that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption comethin on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing – but is a mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of His Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works (verses 22-23).
It is not the baptism itself that saves.
It is the power of the atonement that cleanses us, and the gift of the Holy Spirit that purifies us, which does require our faith and participation (obedience and submission to His laws and His ways). Those without the ability or knowledge of how to do so are not yet accountable to the law, and so have no need to repent because no law has been broken (verse 24).
But those of us who gain knowledge, and develop the ability to make choices (understanding the consequences of our choices) are held accountable. We do need repentance. The first evidence of our sincere repentance is baptism – not just in the water, and not just by anyone, but by one with the priesthood, one with the authority and power to act in God’s name so that the baptism will take effect, which is to actually bring remission of sins (verse 25).
Some, like me, were baptized as young children in other churches. That was good and right and as much knowledge as we had at that time. But it did not have the authority and power to accomplish its purpose because it was not done by one with the authority and power to act in His name. So I was obedient as I could be at that time, but when I gained access to the priesthood – to those with the power and authority to make my baptism a spiritual act as well as a physical one – then it was necessary for me to fulfill all things by being baptized by one who holds the priesthood, bringing me not only physical obedience to the law but also fulfilling the spiritual promise of the remission of my sins.
And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God (verse 26).
With this testimony of the priesthood, and baptism unto the remission of sins, and the vital role of the Holy Spirit in applying the atonement of Christ, Mormon closes his letter to Moroni. He prophesies that the people will be destroyed if they do not repent (verse 27), and encourages his son to pray for them that they may still yet repent even now that they are near the end (verses 28-29):
But behold, I fear lest the Spirit hath ceased striving with them; and in this part of the land they are also seeking to put down all power and authority which cometh from God; and they are denying the Holy Ghost. And after rejecting so great a knowledge, my son, they must perish soon…
This destruction of themselves, because of destroying each other, because of not being at-peace with each other, because of not being at-one with each other, because of not being at-one with God, because of refusing to humble themselves enough to repent and turn to God, this destruction fulfills the prophecies of the prophets and the Savior himself (verse 29).
And so the prophet-father bids his prophet-son farewell (verse 30).