Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » In His Own Words: James E. Talmage, 1893

In His Own Words: James E. Talmage, 1893

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 21, 2010

You ask me to tell you how I received my testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of God. I cannot tell you for I do not know myself. That I have such a testimony, an unquestionable knowledge of the truth of this work, I am most certain; but how or when such knowledge came to me I know not any more than I know the moment which marks the passing away of night and the dawning of day.

Yet my testimony does not remain ever the same; it grows in strength as the years bring additional evidences through reflection and study and prayer.

I was not born in the Church; my early training was received through the schools of the world; amongst the Methodists, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, and in the Church of England I have been by turns a pupil. But even during those periods of first tuition I had a knowledge of the divinity of God’s work as taught and practiced by the latter-day Saints, for my parents had previously learned of the gospel, and were then awaiting the reorganization of the branch of the Church in the region of our home. This was in due time accomplished, and soon after my years had filled the allotted number, I was baptized by my father, who was an Elder in the Church. Jeers from schoolmates and scoffs from neighbors came to me as a matter of course. Our family being alone in the professions of the gospel there, to me it seemed that we had always been the recipients of such unkind attentions, which however served to strengthen my faith.

My testimony of this work dates back to the limits of my earliest memories. Since reaching the years that bring with them the powers of judgment, I have never been without an assurance of the divinity of this cause, and therefore I claim no honor for having gained such knowledge. I regard it as the greatest gift of God to me on earth; for though it is a natural endowment, I am none the less certain of its divine origin. I cannot remember a time when I did not live, yet I know that my life is a gift of our heavenly Father, so also is my testimony of His will.

Do not conclude that my faith has never been assailed; that it is like a greenhouse plant nourished through artificial culture, and alive only because protected from the blasts that wither and the frosts that destroy. I call to mind many periods of sore temptation and trial, when snares of the wily adversary have been set with alluring baits of mis-called science, and that which men style wisdom. sophistry, doubt, and the craft of misbelief have surged in threatening torrents about the delicate roots of the feeble plant of my faith; yet, through the protecting care of the All Merciful, these dark rivers have been made to yield nutriment and impart strength to the rising stem and its sprouting branches.

I know that these vicissitudes are not yet over. A retrospect of my faith’s feeble growth gives me thankfulness, but the thought of the future brings fear lest after all the sapling should be uprooted. Did I not know that there is One who will temper the elements and adapt the conditions to my weak and immature growth, despair would bring destruction. yet by prayer and works I may hope for the continued support of Him who si the source of my testimony and the author of my life – our Father.



  1. Very nice. His experience in gaining a testimony matches mine. Thanks.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — October 21, 2010 @ 7:44 am

  2. I know some say “Jesus the Christ” is becoming out of date, but if for no other reason than it points to this extraordinary man, I love that that book is our “5th Standard Work”

    Comment by Matt W. — October 21, 2010 @ 7:55 am

  3. This was wonderful. I love Talmage’s use of imagery, especially that reference that his testimony as not being a “greenhouse plant nourished through artificial culture, and alive only because protected from the blasts that wither and the frosts that destroy.” Good stuff.

    So, what was the occasion of this written testimony by the 30-something Talmage?

    Comment by David Y. — October 21, 2010 @ 9:14 am

  4. An editor solicited responses from Talmage and others to the question “How did you gain your testimony?” I liked Talmage’s because his experience somewhat parallels mine — but he says it so much more eloquently than I can. The more I read by him, the more I get to know the man behind the words, the more I appreciate his extraordinary gifts.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 21, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  5. I particularly appreciate the last two paragraphs. Maybe I am a cynic, but I am immediately suspicious of anyone who claims to have never doubted or questioned. In my experience, individuals who present their testimony or faith in absolute terms are not to be trusted. Enjoyed JTC on my mission; reading this response from Talmage might inspire me to revisit it again.

    Comment by Becca — October 21, 2010 @ 11:17 am

  6. Jesus the Christ is far superior to The Articles of Faith, in my opinion.

    Talmage’s comparison of testimony to a greenhouse plant is extremely thought provoking. At what point should young starts be “hardened off” to endure the real world? And how does one do that? And does the current church curriculum encourage that? I have no answers, and I don’t want to threadjack the post, but to me it’s good food for thought…

    Comment by Clark — October 21, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

  7. The best statements are ones that provide room for thought. You could even take your idea, Talmage’s testimony, and Alma 32 as a group to work out an extended plan for a talk or lesson or essay.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 21, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

  8. I really liked this, Ardis.

    I love not only how he captures his testimony of the work, but you get a sense of his deep love and appreciation for God.

    Comment by michelle — October 22, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  9. […] (James E. Talmage, “How I Gained My Testimony of the Truth,” Young Woman’s Journal [March 1893], 258-259. Brought to my attention by Ardis E. Parshall, and reproduced here, with her kind permission, from […]

    Pingback by Mormon Scholars Testify » Blog Archive » James E. Talmage — February 18, 2013 @ 6:53 am

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