Secret Combinations in the Latter Days
"The war that began in heaven is not yet over.
The conflict continues on the battlefield of mortality.
And one of Lucifer’s primary strategies has been
to restrict our agency
through the power of earthly governments."
— Ezra Taft Benson
In the foregoing chapter we have discussed Lucifer’s desire to control the will of man. His goal is not money, for that is an earthly commodity. His aim is power over the minds and bodies of God’s children here on the earth. The war in heaven was over agency.
Why would anyone want to control another? Why would one person want to enslave another? Why do some wilfully rebel against authority? Why are there mass-murderers? Why are there rapists? Why are there child molesters? and so forth. President Benson asked: "What would anyone gain by wanting to create a conspiracy? Maybe pride, financial gain, power, etc." (CR, April 1989.) Many people cannot fathom the mind of such a person. The answer seems to be beyond good reason. The fact remains that because of pride and the lust for power, the devil wants control over man’s agency.
Perhaps it isn’t as important that we understand "why" as much as it is to come to the realization that some minds just work that way. We must realize that some minds DO work differently from others. We need to realize that it is a FACT; this is not just a theory. To ignore it because we don’t understand it is like sticking your hand into a pet viper’s den and thinking it won’t bite you just because you feed it regularly. We are free to exercise our agency. Some use it with respect to others and some with disrespect to others. Ezra Taft Benson spoke these words on the subject:
Lucifer continues the war that he waged in heaven against man’s agency. In his address at Brigham Young University in 1986, President Benson spoke on this subject and said,
"The war that began in heaven is not yet over. The conflict continues on the battlefield of mortality. And one of Lucifer’s primary strategies has been to restrict our agency through the power of earthly governments. Proof of this is found in the long history of humanity.
"When the first worldly government began as a theocracy, Adam’s descendants soon departed from this perfect order and degenerated into various political systems. The result has been human misery and, for most of humankind, subjugation to some despotic government.
"From Nimrod to Napoleon, the conventional political ideology has been that the rights of life, liberty, and property were subject to a sovereign’s will, rather than God-given." (CHB, p. 3.)
Speaking of governments, the Doctrine and Covenants tells us that laws should be "framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life," that no law "has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms of public or private devotion," and that "rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens. . . ." (D&C 134:2, 4, 7.)
Although the Lord has told man what His will is in relation to government, Satan has no respect for it and continues his quest for the agency and souls of God’s children here on earth. From the beginning of time until the present, the evil one has influenced governments to the destruction of countless millions of souls. He has done this, by great measure, through secret combinations. Such combinations are commonly called conspiracies.
What Is a Conspiracy?
For our convenience, and before we go on in this discussion, let’s take a moment and ask ourselves, "What is a conspiracy?" To do this we will consult a few dictionaries for their definitions of the word:
"CONSPIRACY: An illegal, treasonable, or treacherous plan to harm or destroy another person, group, or entity. - A combination of persons banded secretly together and resolved to accomplish an evil or unlawful end. - An agreement manifesting itself in words or deeds and made by two or more persons confederating to do an unlawful act or use unlawful means to do an act which is lawful. (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged, 1981.)
"CONSPIRACY: The planning of two or more persons to do an evil act." (Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary, 1975.)
"CONSPIRACY: A combination of two or more persons by some concerted action to accomplish some criminal or unlawful purpose, or to accomplish some purpose, not in itself criminal or unlawful, by criminal or unlawful means." (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1914 edition.) [Author’s Note: The earlier (pre-Civil War, 1854) editions of Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, have been the basis for many of the earlier English and American laws, and decisions based on such laws. These earlier editions are more precise in interpreting the true meaning of our Founding Father’s intentions, and such meaning were the basis upon which the Constitution of the United States was founded. The more current editions of this work reflect more of the political, social, and economical mind-set of present thinkers.]
For a summary of the above we might say that a conspiracy is: The planning and acting together secretly of two or more persons for an unlawful, harmful, and evil purpose. In short, there are three aspects of a conspiracy: First, there must be two or more people; second, their plans must be secret; and third, those plans must be for an evil purpose. This definition can be verified by the following events.
The First Secret Combinations
Now let’s take a look at the first conspiracy and roughly work our way through history until we get to our time. As we do, keep in mind that the name of the game is control over the individual person. Greed for money and worldly gain is only an inducement Satan uses to coax man into playing the devil’s game of control.
Due to the sketchiness of the story of Cain and Abel in the book of Genesis, as with the story of the creation, we will concern ourselves with the following account from the Pearl of Great Price, and the book of Moses, specifically.
In so doing, we will not go into a lot of detail about Cain slaying his brother Abel, for that is popularly accepted. But we will cover the point to be made, and that is to show that Cain was involved in the first secret combination or conspiracy upon the earth.
Before the murder of Abel was accomplished, Cain "loved Satan more than God." He was given a chance to repent but became "wroth," and continued to rebel before God. (Moses 5:17-26.) And then we have the following given to us:
"And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by the throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands.
"And Satan sware unto Cain that he would do according to his commands. And all these things were done in secret.
"And Cain said, Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness." (Moses 5:29-31.)
In the Doctrine and Covenants we are told that Abel "was slain by the conspiracy of his brother." (D&C 84:16.) A secret is one thing; but when that secret involves more than one person, as with Cain and his "brethren," it becomes a combination — a "secret combination." The scripture last quoted said that Abel was killed by a "conspiracy." So here we have the fact that a secret combination is a conspiracy.
In this story we also find that all this wickedness was done, not only in secret, but with an oath to preserve that secrecy. And if they were to reveal that great secret, they would suffer death. This type of secret oath was, and still is, part of secret combinations or conspiracies. As we continue, this point will become more obvious.
Now the next conspiracy we find mentioned is when Lamech "entered into a covenant with Satan, after the manner of Cain." However, Irad, the son of Enoch, knew of the secret and "began to reveal it unto the sons of Adam." Lamech became angry and slew Irad, "not like unto Cain, his brother Abel, for the sake of getting gain, but he slew him for the oath’s sake." (Irad apparently became, as far as we have word, the first martyred patriot who died for the cause of liberty while trying to reveal a secret combination — a conspiracy.) The scriptures go on to say,
"For, from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark, and they knew every man his brother.
"Wherefore the Lord cursed Lamech, and his house, and all them that had covenanted with Satan . . . and their works were abominations, and began to spread among all the sons of men." (Moses 5:49-52.)
"And the children of men were numerous upon all the face of the land. And in those days Satan had great dominion among men, and raged in their hearts; and from thenceforth came wars and bloodshed; and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power." (Moses 6:15.)
In the Book of Mormon it also tells us that these secret combinations, or conspiracies of darkness, were from ancient date. We learn that from the beginning, the devil "stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness;" (2 Ne. 9:8-9) that these secrets were "as in times of old;" (2 Ne. 26:22) that they were of "ancient date and they have been handed down;" (3 Ne. 3:9) and that they did enter into a "covenant which was given by them of old, which covenant was given and administered by the devil, to combine against all righteousness." (3 Ne. 6:28.)
From the book of Ether, which covers a period long before and up to the Nephite era, we find similar references; for it says: ". . . they adopted the old plans, and administered oaths after the manner of the ancients. . . ." (Either 10:33.)
The book of Ether directs us to another story of faith as the Lord leads a righteous prophet and his people to this promised land, as He did Lehi and his family. And, like the people of Lehi, the Jaredites fell into pride, wickedness, and secret combinations.
In this book we find a host of references to such secret combinations; indeed, the book is full of deception, intrigue, and murder. The Lord had a definite reason for including the book of Ether within the Book of Mormon. Alma told his son Helaman that the twenty-four plates should be kept so "that the mysteries and the works of darkness, and their secret works . . . may be made manifest unto this people. . . ." (Alma 37:21.) Ether is presented as a specific warning to those in the latter days. (Either 8:22-24.)
In this same book, however, we are told that God has nothing to do with such works: "For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man." (Either 8:19.)
As stated before, part of Satan’s work on this earth is the continuation of the war which he waged in the heavens. And part of that war is to establish secret combinations and conspiracies to obtain power and control over God’s children. The scriptures verify this fact. We have been told to "search the scriptures." During that search, if our spiritual attitudes are right, we can see that we are given examples of those conspiracies. We can know they exist. (Gen. 37:17-20; 2 Sam. 15:11-14; 2 Kgs. 12:20; 2 Kgs. 14:18-19; 2 Kgs. 15:30; Ezek. 22:25; Acts 23:12-14.)
From the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon seems to be one continuing reference to secret combinations in one way or another. The people of this great book were involved with these conspiracies, supported them, and were condemned and perished because of them.
The very first individuals to conspire were Laman and Lemuel as they murmured against their father. (1 Ne. 2:11-12.) As they were to go back to Jerusalem and obtain the brass plates from Laban, they became angry with Nephi and their father. As the scriptures recite the incident we read: "Wherefore Laman and Lemuel did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and did smite us even with a rod." (1 Ne. 3:28-31.) As we know, from reading the Book of Mormon, these elder brothers continued to rebel and became the first of their people to fight against the Church of God.
One of the first large groups of conspirators, shrouded in secrecy, was started by Korihor, an antichrist, "he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness."(Alma 29:12-18.)
Another conspirator was Amalickiah, chief commander of the Lamanites, who had the Nephite king killed and which, "by his fraud, gained the hearts of the people . . . sought the favor of the queen . . . and by the assistance of his cunning servants, he obtained the kingdom." (Alma 47:17-35.)
Now let’s get to the central conspirator of the Book of Mormon, and that is Gadianton: "For there was one Gadianton who was exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore he became the leader of the band of Kishkumen." (Hel. 2:4.)
This Kishkumen had murdered Pahoran, a chief judge; and his band "entered into a covenant that no one should know his wickedness." (Hel. 2:3.) When Kishkumen was killed by a servant of Helaman, Gadianton "caused that his band should follow him. And they took their flight out of the land, by a secret way, into the wilderness." (Hel. 2:8-13.)
In the sixth chapter of Helaman we find that the band of Kishkumen, led by Gadianton, is back on the scene committing secret murder; "And they were called Gadianton’s robbers and murderers" (Hel. 6:18), and there were many Nephites among them.
"And it came to pass that they did have their signs, yea, their secret signs, and their secret words; and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant. . . .
"Now behold, those secret oaths and covenants did not come forth unto Gadianton from the records which were delivered unto Helaman; but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit —
"Yea, that same being who did plot with Cain, that if he would murder his brother Abel it should not be known unto the world. And he did plot with Cain and his followers from that time forth.
"Yea, it is that same being who put it into the heart of Gadianton to still carry on the works of darkness, and of secret murder.
"And behold, it is he who is the author of all sin. And behold, he doth carry on his works of darkness and secret murder, and doth hand down their plots, and their oaths, and their covenants, and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men." (Hel. 6:22-30.)
As we go into the book of Ether we find Akish forming secret works by oath "which had been handed down even from Cain . . . which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God." (Ether 8:9-19; 9:1-6.) So Satan is still at work, causing secret works of darkness and teaching his followers to administer covenants and oaths in secret.
What Were the Results?
As Alma was preaching to his son, Helaman, and speaking of these secret combinations, he said that "all their oaths, and their covenants, and their agreements" were not to be revealed to the people lest "they should fall into darkness." However, Alma did say that "only their wickedness and their murders and their abominations shall ye make known unto them." And "cursed be the land forever and ever unto those workers of darkness and secret combinations, even unto destruction, except they repent before they are fully ripe." (Alma 37:21-31.)
Destruction awaits the wicked who participate in such dark conspiracies. Of course this should not be surprising, knowing God’s attitude about such things. The Lord uses, however, the enemies of the wicked to bring about that destruction. Moroni said that the secret combinations with their oaths and covenants "have caused the destruction" of the Jaredites and the Nephites. (Ether 8:20-21.) Not only did they have to contend with their enemies, which came upon them, but also natural plagues such as drought, poisonous serpents, etc. (Ether 9:30-34.) President Benson, speaking about this calamity, said, "Pride results in secret combinations which are built up to get power, gain, and glory of the world. This fruit of the sin of pride, namely secret combinations, brought down both the Jaredite and the Nephite civilizations and has been and will yet be the cause of the fall of many nations. . . ." (CR, April 1989, p. 5.)
Predictions of Our Time
One of the key purposes of the Book of Mormon is to inform the future inhabitants of this choice land, those living here now, about the threat of these secret works. In 1 Nephi, we find that Nephi sees a vision of the church of the devil set up among the Gentiles. He called it the "great and abominable church," and that for the "praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity." This is done "that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men." (1 Ne. 13:1-27.)
We learn in the fourteenth chapter of this book, that there are only two churches on the earth. This seems logical since the Lord said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matt. 6:24.) So from this fourteenth chapter we read:
"Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
"And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God." (1 Ne. 14:10, 13.)
The church of the devil is not only a religious organization to pervert the ways of Christ and His Church, it is also political and governmental. It involves anything that has to do with agency and man’s free exercise of that Godly gift. We must remember Satan’s goal is not "which church is right"; it is control of the human soul — the spirit, mind, and body of man.
Second Nephi tells us that the gentiles in the last days are "lifted up in the pride of their eyes," and that there are also "secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil." (2 Ne. 26:20-24.)
The Prophet Mormon, speaking of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, said that "it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness." (Morm. 8:26-32.) From this we see that we are living in a day of secret combinations, for that is one of the reasons the Book of Mormon is here.
We have not only been warned by the ancient prophets of the scriptures but also by our modern-day prophets. The Prophet Joseph Smith, in an unpublished revelation, said, "Verily thus saith the Lord, peace shall soon be taken from the earth, And it has already begun to be taken; for a lying spirit has gone out upon all the face of the earth and shall perplex the nations, and shall stir them up to anger against one another. . . ." (Joseph Smith, a revelation on war, November, 1837; Elder’s Journal, I, November 2, 1937, p. 28; Unpublished Revelations, No. 41.)
The Record Is for Us
We know for whom the Prophet Mormon compiled those precious plates. It was for those who now live on this great land and who have access to the Book of Mormon. That great prophet said, "Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not." (Morm. 8:35.)
Mormon placed in that account that Kishkumen and his band were "not known among the people of Nephi" because they "did mingle themselves among the people, in a manner that they all could not be found." (Hel. 1:12.) Then as the Nephites supported them the robbers "seduced the more part of the righteous . . . in their works and partake of their spoils . . . thus they did obtain the sole management of the government." (Hel. 6:38-40)
We are told by Nephi that if we, the gentiles, sin against the gospel, "and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations," the Father "will bring the fullness of [His] gospel from among" us. (3 Ne. 16:10.) The Prophet Moroni says that "the sword of vengeance hangeth over" our heads if we "build up" our "secret abominations." (Morm. 8:40-41.)
All of Alma, from chapter 43 until the end, as well as some earlier parts, is an account of a war for liberty. Helaman and Third Nephi, in large part, continue this account. These parts of the Book of Mormon are not there simply because Mormon was a military leader, as some have speculated. They are there because we live in a similar time and need the warning it gives because we are making the same mistakes.
Mormon saw our time. He could have placed other things in the Book of Mormon besides the struggles for liberty. But he knew that we needed what he had access to. This is one of the reasons our living Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, has pleaded with us to study this sacred book of scripture: It tells us of our time with a warning voice.
In a general conference, Ezra Taft Benson discussed the striking similarities between the aims and tactics of our communist-socialist conspiracy and the secret combinations of the Book of Mormon such as the Gadianton robbers: "The Prophet Moroni described how the secret combination would take over a country and then fight the work of God, persecute the righteous, and murder those who resist. Moroni therefore proceeded to describe the workings of the ancient "secret combinations" so that modern man could recognize this great political conspiracy in the last days." (CR, October 1961, p. 71.)
"Wherefore, O Ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are buildt up to get power and gain — and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.
"Wherefore, the Lord commanded you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you . . . .
"For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning. . . ." (Ether 8:23-26.)
After quoting most of the above scripture, Ezra Taft Benson went on to say, "The Prophet Moroni seemed greatly exercised lest in our day we might not be able to recognize the startling fact that the same secret societies which destroyed the Jaredites and decimated numerous kingdoms of both Nephites and Lamanites would be precisely the same form of criminal conspiracy which would rise up among the gentile nations in this day." (CR, October 1961, p. 72.)
President Benson has tried to tie together for us the similarities and relationships of past secret combinations with our current-day secret conspiracies. In his book, A Witness and A Warning, published in 1988, he says: "From the Book of Mormon we see the evils of secret combinations portrayed in graphic and chilling reality." (A Witness and a Warning, p. 21.) And in an earlier book called, Title of Liberty, he says:
"When all of the trappings of propaganda and pretense have been pulled aside, the exposed hard-core structure of modern Communism [socialism] is amazingly similar to the ancient Book of Mormon record of secret societies such as the Gadiantons. In the ancient American civilization there was no word which struck greater terror in the hearts of the people than the name of the Gadiantons. It was a secret political party which operated as a murder cult. Its object was to infiltrate legitimate government, plant its officers in high places, and then seize power and live off the spoils appropriated from the people. (It would start out as a small group of ‘dissenters’ and by using secret oaths with the threat of death for defectors it would gradually gain a choke hold on the political and economic life of whole civilizations.)
"The object of the Gadiantons, like modern Communists [socialists], was to destroy the existing government and set up a ruthless criminal dictatorship over the whole land.
"One of the most urgent, heart-stirring appeals made by Moroni as he closed the Book of Mormon was addressed to the gentile nations of the last days. He foresaw the rise of a great world-wide secret combination among the gentiles which ‘seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; . . .’ He warned each gentile nation of the last days to purge itself of this gigantic criminal conspiracy which would seek to rule the world.
"The prophets, in our day, have continually warned us of these internal threats in our midst — that our greatest threat from socialistic-communism lies within our country.
"The prophets have said that these threats are among us. The Prophet Moroni viewing our day said, ‘Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, . . ." (Ether 8:24.)’" (TL, pp. 184-85.)
From the Doctrine and Covenants
Let us now turn to our latter-day revelations from the Doctrine and Covenants. It also warns us of these conspiracies.
In section ten we find that "Satan has great hold" upon the hearts of wicked men, and that their hearts are "corrupt, and full of wickedness and abominations; and they love darkness rather than light." (D&C 10:20-27.)
We are also informed that "all flesh is corrupted" before the Lord and that the "powers of darkness prevail upon the earth," and that there are things which are had in "secret chambers." (D&C 38:11-13.)
In the section on the "Word of Wisdom" we are warned about "evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days." (D&C 89:4.) And section 42 encourages the converts in the east "to flee to the west, and this in consequence of that which is coming on the earth, and of secret combinations." (D&C 42:63-64.)
Secret Acts Revealed
Now we know that these secret combinations and their works of darkness will not stay hidden, as many suppose. We are told by the Lord, as Nephi says: "All things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men." (2 Ne. 27:11.) And the Prophet Mormon said, "All things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops. . . ." (Morm. 5:8.) The Doctrine and Covenants says much the same thing: "And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed." (D&C 1:3.)
In section 88, we are told that in the last days, angels will sound their trumps. When they do it will "reveal the secret acts of men, and the thoughts and intents of their hearts." (D&C 88:108-110.)Yes all wickedness will be revealed for all to know. And when it is, conspiracies, secret combinations, and all works of darkness will cease. For as Nephi says, speaking of the Latter-days: "There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; . . .Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time." (2 Ne. 30:17-18.)
The War Continues
However, this revealing of all things will not be until the Lord chooses. Until then, we have to be aware of and contend with those secret combinations. We are told that we "know not the hearts of men in [our] own land." (D&C 38:28-30.) What IS in the hearts of our government leaders? Could it be the same thing that our Founding Fathers fought against? President Benson had some concerns about it when he said,
We still have some serious times to be concerned with and Satan is still raging on the earth to bind men down to his will. Elder Bruce R. McConkie spoke of this fact in his book, The Millennial Messiah. Speaking of Satan, he said,
"And his legions, the legions of hell, are everywhere. They are ‘the third part of the stars of heaven,’ the one-third of the spirit children of the Father; and they were cast out of their heavenly home because of rebellion. And so the holy word says: ‘Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath.’ And he goes forth ‘to make war’ with all men and particularly with those who ‘keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ (Rev. 12:4-17.) And the war that is now going on among men, the war between good and evil, is but a continuation of the war that began in heaven." (The Millennial Messiah, p. 667.)