Spirit of God wrought upon lighter of the lamp

At the October 1992 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley said: "The entire world is celebrating this month the five hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, his biographer, says, 'This night of October 11-12 [1492] was one big with destiny for the human race, the most momentous ever experienced aboard any ship in any sea.' " (Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus [Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1942], p. 223.)

President Hinckley added: "In my private commemoration of this event, I have read and reread one important and prophetic verse from the Book of Mormon and also a very long biography of Christopher Columbus.

"That verse from Nephi's vision states, 'And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.' (1 Ne. 13:12.)

"We interpret that to refer to Columbus. It is interesting to note that the Spirit of God wrought upon him. After reading that long biography, a Pulitzer winner of 40 years ago, titled Admiral of the Ocean Sea, I have no doubt that Christopher Columbus was a man of faith, as well as a man of indomitable determination.

"I recognize that in this anniversary year a host of critics have spoken out against him. I do not dispute that there were others who came to this Western Hemisphere before him. But it was he who in faith lighted a lamp to look for a new way to China and who in the process discovered America. His was an awesome undertaking — to sail west across the unknown seas farther than any before him of his generation. He it was who, in spite of the terror of the unknown and the complaints and near mutiny of his crew, sailed on with frequent prayers to the Almighty for guidance. In his reports to the sovereigns of Spain, Columbus repeatedly asserted that his voyage was for the glory of God and the spread of the Christian faith. Properly do we honor him for his unyielding strength in the face of uncertainty and danger."

Illustration courtesy LDS Church.

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