A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon/Alma, the younger
ALMA, the younger, was born either in the land of Mormon, when his devout and intrepid father was there organizing the Church of Christ, or after the little colony of Christians had removed to the land of Helam. From a casual observation made in one of his discourses, we are inclined to think it was in the latter place. With his father he came to the land of Zarahemla, and there, as the son of the presiding high priest of the entire Church, he became the associate and companion of the sons of the king. Their course was one too often pursued by the children of the great. They took pleasure in evil-doing; they had no faith in the revelations of God, while they ridiculed, mocked and persecuted those who had. We can well understand the anxiety, the distress, the sorrow this course caused their God-fearing parents; we can realize how frequent and how fervent were the prayers offered by the king, the high priest, and the people for those misguided youths. And their prayers prevailed before God.
It came to pass that as Alma and the sons of king Mosiah were going about to destroy the Church and to lead astray the people of the Lord, that an angel descended in a cloud and stopped them on the way. When he spoke his voice was as thunder, and caused the whole earth to tremble beneath their feet. Naturally this manifestation of the power of God spread terror and dismay in the hearts of those who witnessed it; simultaneously they fell to the ground, and so confused and terrified were they, that they failed to understand the words of the holy messenger. "Arise, Alma, and stand forth," he cried; and when Alma arose, his eyes were open to see who stood before him. “Why persecutest thou the Church of God?” he was asked, “for the Lord hath said, This is my Church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people. If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the Church of God.” Besides this, the angel spoke to him of his father's fervent prayers in his behalf, and that because of those prayers of faith he was sent to convince him of the power of God. He also recounted to him the captivity of his fathers in the lands of Helam and Nephi. and of their miraculous deliverance therefrom, but Alma heard none of these latter sayings, for the terrors of the first salutation had overpowered him.
Alma, bereft of the presence of the angel, dismayed and soul-stricken, sank to the ground. When his companions gathered around him, they found he could not move, neither could he speak; outwardly he was dead to the world; but the torments of the damned had taken hold of his soul, and in the most bitter pain and mental anguish he lay racked with the remembrance of all his past sins. The thought of standing before the bar of God to be judged for his iniquities overwhelmed him with horror; he would have rejoiced in annihilation; he desired to become extinct, both body and soul, without being brought before his abused Creator. Thus he continued for three days and three nights to suffer the pains of hell, which to his tortured conscience must have seemed an eternity.
When his companions found that he could neither speak nor move, they carried him to his father, and related to him all that had happened. Strange as it must have seemed to them, the elder Alma's heart was filled with joy and praise when he looked upon the body of his much-loved son, for he realized it was God's power that had wrought all this, and that his long-continued prayers had been answered. In his joy he gathered the people to witness this mighty manifestation of the goodness and might of Jehovah. He assembled the priests, sought their co-operation, and unitedly, in God's own way, they prayed and fasted for the stricken youth. For two days they continued their supplications, at the end of which time Alma stood upon his feet and spoke. He comforted them by declaring, “I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.”
In later years Alma, in relating to his son Helaman the details of his conversion, thus describes the causes that led him to bear this testimony. He says: “Behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart, O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who art in the gall of bitterness, and art encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain: yea, I say unto you, my son, there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as my pain. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy; yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.”
From that time to the end of his mortal career. Alma labored without ceasing to bring souls to Christ, and to guide his fellow men in the paths of salvation.
We have now to present Alma as the foremost man of his age and nation, the presiding high priest and chief judge of a mighty people; a great prophet, filled with the spirit of his calling; an unceasing missionary, an undaunted soldier of the cross, a lucid expounder of the principles of the everlasting Gospel; a proficient organizer of men, a distinguished warrior and a triumphant general. While in his conversion, extended missionary journeyings, and elaborate discourses on saving truths, we are reminded of Saul of Tarsus, recollections of Joshua, the son of Nun, are vividly brought before us when we consider him as the great leader and prophet of his people, and the victorious commander-in-chief of their armies.
The change in the life of Alma brought down upon him the persecutions of the wicked, for others treated him as he before-time had treated the Saints. But in none of these things was he daunted or dismayed, for he had joy in preaching the word, and in the conversion of many from their ungodliness. So conspicuous as a champion of the cause of God did he become, that Mosiah considered him the most proper person to whom to confide the custody of the sacred plates, and to act as the recorder of the nation's doings and progress; still more, when Aaron, the son of Mosiah, declined to succeed his father on the Nephite throne, and it was wisely determined by the people that they would be ruled by judges for the future, Alma was chosen by the united voice of his countrymen to be their first chief judge. He was also their presiding high priest, he having been consecrated to this exalted position by his father, who, shortly before his death, gave him charge of the affairs of the Church throughout all the land. (B. C. 91).
Five hundred and nine years had now passed away since Lehi left Jerusalem, during which time the Nephites had been ruled by kings, the successors of the first Nephi. A wonderful but bloodless revolution now took place — the monarchy was merged into a republic; but so wise had been the steps taken by Mosiah, so equitably had he arranged the laws, that the change was made without popular tumult or disorder in the affairs of the state. Indeed the change was hailed with unbounded satisfaction by the people, who greatly rejoiced in the more extended liberties now guaranteed to them. In Alma, as their first chief judge, they had a man admirably adapted for the situation; he had the confidence of the people, inasmuch as he was the Lord's mouthpiece to them, besides his worth and abilities claimed their trust and respect; he was a man of great talent, courage, faith and energy, an unwearied worker for good, and, as a judge judged righteous judgment in the midst of the people. Still his position was not one of unmixed delights — apostates from the Church, pride and unbelief in its members, assaults and invasions from the national enemies, all combined to require his undiminished energies and undaunted faith. But above and beyond all, as compensation for these trials and annoyances, he had the right to receive the word of the Lord, which was given to him as he needed or his people inquired.
The first year of Alma's judgeship was troubled by the apostasy of Nehor, a man of many personal attractions and great persuasiveness of manner, who went about among the people preaching a kind of universalism — that all men should he saved; he also established priestcraft, making a lucrative business of spreading his pernicious ideas. His success in turning the hearts of the people was unfortunately quite extensive, and the cause of many of the troubles that afterwards afflicted the Nephites. The individual career of Nehor, however, was short, he met an aged servant of the Lord named Gideon, and because the latter would not accept his dogmas, but withstood him with the words of God, Nehor drew his sword and slew the venerable disciple. For this offence he was brought before Alma, and, being tried by the law of the land, was found guilty and condemned to death.
Notwithstanding the development of those follies, and departures from the strictness of Gospel law apparently incidental to great worldly prosperity, there was continued peace in the land until the fifth year of Alma's judgeship, when a great division took place among the people, owing to the more corrupt portion wishing to restore the monarchy, and make a man after their own heart, named Amlici, king. The movement grew to so much importance that it was referred to the decision of the whole people, who gathered in large bodies all over the land, and expressed their wishes for or against Amlici's elevation to the throne in the way prescribed by the law. The result was that Amlici's ambitious schemes were defeated by the voice of the majority, and the liberties of the republic were preserved.
This should have ended the matter, but it did not; the turbulent minority, incited by Amlici, would not accept this constitutional decision. They assembled and crowned their favorite as king of the Nephites, and he at once began to prepare for war, that he might force the rest of the people assent to his government. Nor was Alma idle; he also made ready for the impending contest. He gathered his people and armed them with all the weapons known to Nephite warfare. The two armies met near a hill called Amnihu, on the east bank of the river Sidon. There a bloody battle followed, in which Amlici's forces were disastrously defeated with a loss of 12,532 men, while the victors had to mourn the loss of 6,562 warriors slain. After pursuing the defeated monarchists as far as he was able, Alma rested his troops in the valley of Gideon. He there took the precaution to send out four officers with their companies to watch the movements and learn the intentions of the retreating foe. These officers were named Zeram, Amnor, Manti and Limher. On the morrow these scouts returned in great haste, and reported that the Amlicites had joined a vast host of Lamanites in the land Minon, where unitedly they were slaying the Nephite population and ravaging their possessions; at the same time they were pushing rapidly towards the Nephite capital with the intent of capturing it before Alma's army could return. Alma at once headed his troops for Zarahemla, and with all haste marched towards it. He reached the crossing of the Sidon without meeting the enemy, but while attempting to pass to the western bank he was confronted by the allied armies. A terrible battle ensued; the Nephites were taken somewhat at a disadvantage, but being men of faith, they fervently sought Heaven's aid, and in the increased fervor this faith inspired, they advanced to the combat. With Alma at their head, the advance-guard forded the river and broke upon the enemy who stood awaiting them. By the fury of their charge they drove in the ranks of the enemy, and as they pushed onward they cleared the ground by throwing the bodies of their fallen foes into the Sidon, thus making an opening for the main body to obtain a foothold. In this charge Alma met Amlici face to face, and they fought desperately. In the midst of this hand-to-hand combat, Alma lifted his heart on high, and prayed for renewed strength that he might not be overpowered, but live to do more good to his people. His prayers were answered, and thereby he gained new vigor to battle with and eventually slay Amlici. Amlici slain, Alma led the attack to where the king of the Lamanites fought. But that monarch retired before the impetuous valor of the high priest, and commanded his guards to close in upon his assailant. The order was promptly obeyed, but it did not succeed. Alma and his guards bore down upon them with such fury that the few of the monarch's warriors who escaped made a hasty retreat. Pushing steadily on, Alma kept driving the allies before him, until his whole army had crossed the Sidon. There the enemy, no longer able to meet his well-ordered advance, broke in all directions, and retreated into the wilderness that lay to the north and west. They were hotly pursued by the Nephites as long as the latter's strength permitted, and were met on all quarters by patriots rallying to the call of the commonwealth, who slew them by thousands. A remnant eventually reached that part of the wilderness known as Hermounts. There many died of their wounds and were devoured by the wild beasts and vultures with which that region abounded.
To the Nephites was left the sad task of burying the unnumbered dead, many of whom were women and children who had become victims to the ravages of the foe.
A few days after this decisive battle, another invading Lamanite army was reported. This one advanced along the east bank of the Sidon. It appears to have been the plan of their military commanders to invade the Nephite territory with two separate armies, both traveling northward toward the city of Zarahemla, but on opposite sides of the Sidon. That advancing on the west side moved the most rapidly, and was met, conquered and dispersed by Alma, while the other afterwards met the same fate at the hands of one of his lieutenants, Alma himself having been too seriously wounded in one of the preceding battles to permit him to lead his troops in person.
The great losses sustained by the Nephites in war, not of warriors alone, but of women and children, together with the vast amount of their property destroyed, had the effect of humbling them and softening their wayward hearts, so that many thousands, during the next few years, were added to the church by baptism. But the recollection of their former disasters was gradually worn away by time and prosperity. Three years later we find great inequality in the Church— some poor and some rich, the more powerful abusing and oppressing their weaker brethren. This course proved a great stumbling-block to those who were not numbered with the Church, as well as being the cause of much sorrow and ill-feeling among its members. Finding that no man could properly attend to the duties of his many offices, Alma determined to resign the chief judgeship, and devote his entire time to his duties as the earthly head of the Church. Preparatory to his resignation, he selected one of the leading elders, named Nephihah, to be his successor as chief judge. This choice was confirmed by the people. (B, C. 83.) The cares of the state having thus been removed from his shoulders, Alma commenced his ministerial labors at Zarahemla, the chief city of the nation, and thence proceeded throughout the land. As often happens in other nations, the capital was the centre of pride, vanity, envy, hypocrisy and class distinctions. These evils Alma severely rebuked, at the same time he guided the minds of the people to the contemplation and understanding of the beauties and saving powers of redemption's wondrous plan, whilst he exhorted all to become members of Christ's holy Church. His call was heeded by many; the Church was set in order; the unworthy were disfellowshiped; elders, priests and other officers were ordained to preside and watch over the Saints. This being accomplished, Alma took his journey eastward, across the river Sidon, to the city of Gideon, where he happily found the Church in a prosperous condition. Alma's teachings to this people were full of prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, which show how clearly he and his faithful fellow servants understood the details of the advent and life of the promised Redeemer. Having established the Church in Gideon, Alma returned to Zarahemla to rest and recruit for a short time before visiting other portions of the land.
At the commencement of the next year (B. C. 82), Alma turned his face westward, He first visited the land of Melek, where his labors were crowned with abundant blessings. Having satisfied himself with the good that he had accomplished, he “traveled three days' journey on the north of the land of Melek,” to a great and corrupt city called Ammonihah. Here he found a godless people, filled with the falsehoods of Nehor, and living in the committal of all manner of abominations without repentance, because they cherished the flattering lie as the foundation of their creed, that all men would be saved. The city was in the hands of a corrupt clique of judges and lawyers, who stirred up sedition, tumult and rioting, that they might make money out of the suits that followed such disturbances. Further than this, they were secretly plotting to overthrow the government, and rob the people of their highly prized liberties. Among such a people Alma labored in vain, no one would listen, none would obey, none offered him rest and food, but scorn and mockery were his reward, and he was spat upon, maltreated and cast out of the city for his pains. Weary in body and sick at heart because of the iniquity of the people, after many fruitless efforts, fervent prayers and long fastings, Alma left the city to seek some other people more worthy of salvation's priceless gifts. He bent his way towards the city of Aaron; but as he journeyed thitherward, an angel of the Lord (that same angel that beforetime had been the agent in his conversion to God,) stood before him and blessed him. He told him to lift up his heart and rejoice, for because of his faithfulness he had great cause to do so. The angel then directed Alma to return to the sin-cursed city he had just left, and proclaim unto its godless citizens the awful message that “Except they repent the Lord will destroy them.”
Speedily the prophet obeyed the angel's words. By another road he drew near the doomed city, which he entered by its south gate. As he passed in he was an hungered, and asked a man whom he met, “Will you give to an humble servant of God something to eat?” With joy the man took him to his home and fed, clothed and lodged him. Furthermore, Amulek, for such was his name, told Alma that he also had received a visit from a holy angel, who had informed him of the high priest's coming and directed him to receive him into his house. And Alma blessed Amulek and all his household, and tarried and recruited under the generous hospitality which his home afforded. But his rest was not to be a lengthened one; the people waxed stronger in sin; the cup of their iniquity was nearly full. “Go,” came the word of the Lord, “Go forth, and take with thee my servant Amulek, and prophesy unto this people, saying, Repent ye, for thus saith the Lord, except ye repent, I will visit this people in mine anger; yea, I will not turn my fierce anger away.” Filled with the Holy Ghost, these servants of Israel's God went forth and valiantly delivered their terrible message. From place to place they went, raising their Jonah-like cry. The heathen Ninevehites hearkened and repented; the sin-stained Israelites of Ammoniah laughed, scorned, mocked and turned contemptuously away. A few indeed received the word, but that only increased the angler of the majority, who, led and egged on by their still more depraved rulers and teachers, persecuted the prophets and martyred the believers.
The account given of the teachings of Alma and Amulek, their disputations with Zeezrom and other lawyers and rulers in Ammoniah, is given at length in the Book of Mormon, and, in consequence thereof, we have handed down to us some of the plainest, yet profoundest teachings on the atonement, the resurrection, the powers of the priesthood, etc., that are to be had among mankind. We cannot follow them here through all the varied incidents that led to the final catastrophe. Faithfully the prophets warned Ammoniah of its approaching desolation; scornfully and incredulously the hardened people hurled back their words of warning with defiance. The few that believed, of which the crafty, hair-splitting Zeezrom was the most notable example, were cast out of the city, while Alma and Amulek were bound with strong cords, and, under false accusations of having reviled the laws, they were cast into prison. Having consigned Alma and his companion to a prison cell, the infuriated people hunted up the wives and the little ones of the believers whom they had cast out, with such as had accepted the truth who still remained in the city, and, gathering them in a body, they burned them in one great martyr's fire. Into the flames they also cast the records that contained the holy Scriptures, as though they imagined in their blind fury that they could thereby destroy the truths that were so odious to them. In the refinement of their devilish cruelty they brought Alma and Amulek to the place of martyrdom, that they might be witnesses of the agonies of the suffering innocents, and listen to the crackling and the roaring of the flames. With jeers, with mouthings and derisive gestures, they called upon the prophets to rescue their dying converts. Amulek's noble heart was pained beyond endurance; he besought Alma to exercise the power of God that was in them, and to save the victims from the consuming flames. But Alma replied, “The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand, for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto Himself in glory; and he doth suffer that the people may do this thing, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them at the last day.” Then Amulek said, “Perhaps they will burn us also.” To which Alma responded, “Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not.”
When the fire had burned low, and the precious fuel of human bodies and sacred records was consumed, the chief judge of the city came to the two prophets as they stood bound, and mocked them. He smote them on the cheek, and sneeringly asked them if they would preach again that his people should be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone, seeing that they had no power to save those who had been burned, neither had God exercised His power in their behalf. But neither answered him a word. Then he smote them again and remanded them to prison.
After they had been confined three days, they were visited by many judges and lawyers, priests and teachers, after the order of Nehor, who came to exult in the misery of their prisoners. They cross-questioned and badgered them, but neither would reply. They came again the next day, and went through the same performance. They mocked at, they smote, they spat upon the two disciples. They tantalized them with outrageous and blasphemous questions, such as the nature of their peculiar faith inspired. Patiently and silently all this was borne; day after day was it repeated; harder and harder grew the hearts of the Ammonihahites towards their prisoners; fiercer and stronger grew their hatred. They stripped Alma and Amulek of their clothes, and, when naked, bound them with strong ropes. They withheld food and drink from them, and in various ways they tortured their bodies, and sought to aggravate, tantalize and harrow up their minds. On the 12th day of the tenth month of the tenth year of the Judges (B. C 82), the chief judge and his followers again went to the prison. According to his usual custom he smote the brethren, saying as he did so, “If ye have the power of God, deliver yourselves from these bonds, and then we will believe that the Lord will destroy this people according to your words.” This impious challenge the crowd one by one repeated as they passed by the prophets, and smote them in imitation of their leader. Thus each individual assumed the responsibility of the defiance cast at the Almighty, and virtually said, “Our blood be upon our own heads.” The hour of God's power had now come — the challenge had been accepted. The prophets in the majesty of their calling, rose to their feet; they were endowed with the strength of Jehovah; like burned thread the cords that bound them were snapped asunder, and they stood free and unshackled before the terror-stricken mob. To rush from the prison was the first impulse of the God-defying followers of Nehor; in their fear all else was forgotten, some fell to the earth, others, impelled by the mob behind, stumbled and fell over their prostrate bodies, until they became one confused, inextricable mass, blocking each other's way, struggling, yelling, cursing, pleading, fighting; frantically, but vainly, endeavoring to reach the outer gate. At this moment of supreme horror an earthquake rent the prison walls; they trembled, then tottered, then fell on the struggling mass of humanity below, burying in one vast, unconsecrated grave, rulers and judges, lawyers and officers, priests, and teachers. Not one was left of all the impious mob, who a few moments before defied Heaven and challenged Jehovah's might. Alma and Amulek stood in the midst of the ruins unhurt. Straightway they left the scene of desolation and went into the city. Here the horrified people fled from them as a herd of goats flee from before two young lions.
Alma and Amulek, being so commanded, left the doomed city and passed over to the land of Sidom. Here they found the Saints who had been cast out of Ammonihah. To them they told the sad, though glorious story of their martyred kin, and with many words of wisdom and consolation they encouraged them to lives of devotion to Christ. Here also they found Zeezrom, the lawyer, racked in spirit with the recollection of his former infamies, and tortured in body by the heats of a burning fever. At his request the two servants of the Most High visited him. They found he had repented in much tribulation for the past, and that faith had developed in his heart. Alma then exercised the power of his calling. Appealing to Heaven, he cried “O Lord, our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith, which is in Christ.” Zeezrom thereupon leaped upon his feet; his fever had left; he was made whole by the grace of God, whilst the people wondered and were astonished at this manifestation of God's goodness. Zeezrom was then baptized by Alma, and became a zealous, faithful advocate of divine law.
The more complete organization of the Church in Sidom was the next work accomplished by Alma, which, having been satisfactorily attended to, and the proper officers of the priesthood having been ordained and appointed, Alma, accompanied by his faithful friend Amulek, returned to his home in Zarahemla.
Next year Ammonihah was destroyed. Less than four months had elapsed since the two inspired followers of the Lamb left it to its fate, when the Lamanites fell upon it like a whirlwind in its suddenness, and as an avalanche in its utter desolation. For one day the fierce flames consumed the walls and towers of Ammonihah. The great city was no more; the word of the Lord had been fully accomplished; not one of its children remained. A desolation and a desert remained, where dogs, vultures and wild beasts struggled for the carcasses of the slain. Having resigned the office of chief judge, Alma no longer led the armies of Nephi. A righteous man named Zoram was their commander, Without delay he gathered his forces, and prepared to meet the invading Lamanites. Knowing that Alma was the mouthpiece of God, he and his two sons went to the high priest, and inquired how the campaign should be conducted. That word was given, its instructions were carried out, victory perched upon the Nephite banners, and the Lamanites, utterly routed, retreated to their own lands, and there was continued peace throughout the continent for three years.
During this period of peace, Alma and his fellow priesthood preached God's holy word in the power and demonstration of the Spirit, and with much success. Great prosperity came to the Church throughout all the lands of the Nephites. At this happy time “there was no inequality among them, the Lord did pour out His Spirit on all the face of the land,” as Alma supposed, to prepare the hearts of His people for the coming of Christ. With this object full in view, he labored and rejoiced, preached, blessed and prophesied, never tiring in his energies, and feeling sorrowful only because of the hard-heartedness and spiritual blindness of some of the people. In one most glorious event he had unspeakable joy: The companions of his youth, the sons of king Mosiah, returned from a fourteen years' mission among the Lamanites, during which time, after many sore trials and great tribulation, they, by the grace of the Father, had brought many thousands of that benighted race to a knowledge of the principles of the everlasting Gospel.
Alma was traveling south on one of his missionary journeys from the land of Zarahemla to the land of Manti, when he met Ammon and his brethren coming from the land of Nephi. On hearing the story of their mission, he at once returned home with them to Zarahemla. Here the condition of affairs among the Lamanites, was rehearsed to the chief judge, who laid the whole subject before the people, so that whatever was done in relation to the Christian Lamanites, might be done by common consent. The Nephites decided to give the land of Jershon (which lay south of the land Bountiful) to these people for an inheritance. With this cheering news Ammon, accompanied by Alma, returned into the southern wilderness, to the place where his people were awaiting the decision of the Nephites. Here they were ministered to and comforted by Alma and others, after which they resumed their march to the land designated for their future abode.
We pass over the next few years of Alma's life, during which period he was laboring with his usual zeal and devotion, to the latter portion of the seventeenth year of the judges (B. C. 75). It was then that Korihor, the anti-Christ, appeared. His pernicious doctrines savor much of certain classes of modern religious delusion, but his main arguments were directed against the advent and atonement of the Redeemer. From land to land he journeyed among the Nephites, spreading his false theories and notions. But as he claimed that as he taught so he believed, the law could not touch him, for it was strictly forbidden in the Nephite constitution that any one should be punished on account of his belief; freedom of conscience was guaranteed to all. At last, not knowing what to do with him, as he was fomenting dissension and endangering the peace of the community, the local officers sent him to Alma and the chief judge, for them to decide in the matter. When brought before these officers he continued, with great swelling words of blasphemy, to ridicule the holy principles of the Gospel, and to revile the servants of God, falsely accusing them, among other things, of glutting themselves out of the labors of the people. In Alma's answer to this charge we have a pleasing insight into his private life. He said: “Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people, for behold, I have labored, even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels around about the land to declare the word of God unto my people; and notwithstanding the many labors I have performed in the Church, I have not so much as received even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment seat, and then we have received only according to law for our time.”
Korihor continued to withstand the prophet, until, in compliance with his impious importunities, a sign was given him — a most unwelcome and unexpected sign to him — he was struck dumb by the power of God. He was cast out from the face of society, a wanderer and a vagabond, begging from door to door for bread to sustain life. While thus dragging out a miserable existence, he was run over and trodden to death in a city of the Zoramites.
The Zoramites were a dangerous body of dissenters, who also taught that there should be no Christ. They deluded themselves with the idea that they were the peculiar objects of Heaven's favor, born to be saved, predestined to eternal glory, while the rest of the world were the rejected; the fore-ordained damned. This consoling creed, to the corrupt and crime-stained, was rapidly growing and gaining influence at the time of Korihor's death, and became the next object of Alma's ever- watchful care. Accompanied by Amulek, Zeezrom, three of the sons of king Mosiah, and two of his own sons, he went over to the regions inhabited by these apostates. This mission was one of the most important of his life, and, like that to Ammonihah, was but partially successful. As soon as Alma discovered the gross iniquity of this people, and the peculiarities of their forms of worship, he held a council meeting with his fellow-missionaries, and having prayed fervently to the Lord, “he clapped his hands upon all who were with him. And, behold, as he clapped his hands upon them, they were filled with the Holy Ghost. And after that, they did separate themselves one from another; taking no thought for themselves what they should eat, or what they should drink, or what they should put on.” And in all these things the Lord provided for them. The missionaries labored dilligently; they visited the people in their homes; they preached in their synagogues; they proclaimed the truth in their streets; but the flattering errors of their false faith had so thoroughly taken possession of them that they rejected the truth, and persecuted and even attempted to slay some of Alma's companions. However, this rejection was not universal; a number of the poorer and more humble Zoramites accepted the Divine message, in consequence of which they were shortly after driven from their homes and out of their country by their more numerous, more influential, and also more corrupt fellow-citizens.
When Alma and his associates had done all the good that seemed to them practicable, they retired to the land of Jershon, where the Ammonites dwelt; thither the believing Zoramites followed when they were expatriated by their fellow-countrymen. In Jershon they were kindly received by its inhabitants and welcomed as brethren. Here Alma again administered to them. Having done this, he and most of his co-laborers returned to Zaraherala.
Alma was now growing old. Notwithstanding his unceasing efforts and fervent prayers, the Nephites were again backsliding into iniquity. To every Nephite city, and to every Nephite land he went or sent, to revive the Gospel fires in the souls of the inhabitants. But many became offended because of the strictness of the Gospel's laws, which forbade not only sin itself, but the very appearance of sin. As this feeling grew, Alma's heart became exceedingly sorrowful and he mourned the depravity of his people. Like many of the ancient patriarchs, when they felt that their mortal career was drawing to a close, he called his sons to him, and gave them his last charge and blessing; speaking to each as the spirit of instruction and prophecy inspired. To Helaman his eldest, he transferred the custody of the sacred plates, with many words of warning and caution regarding them. With hearts strengthened and renewed by the inspiration of his fervent admonitions, his sons went forth among the people; nor could Alma himself rest while there was a soul to save or a wrong to make right. He also went forth once again, in the spirit of his holy calling, and raised his voice in advocacy of the principles of the everlasting gospel.
Another bloody war now commenced, one that before its close drew out the whole strength of both Nephite and Lamanite. The youthful, but brilliant and God-fearing Moroni, took charge of the armies of Nephi. He, not willing to trust to his own powers, sent to Alma for the Divine word to direct his movements. As was his wont, the high priest was favored with the revelation of heaven's will, which being conveyed to Moroni, was in faith implicitly followed. We need not enter into the details of the terrible battle that ensued; victory crowned the inspired general's efforts, and with the account of this battle the record of Alma closes.
It was in the nineteenth year of the Judges (B. C. 73), that Alma took his beloved son, Helaman, and after having discovered, through divers questions, the strength and integrity of his faith, he prophesied to him of many important events which should transpire in the distant future, especially with regard to the destruction of the Nephites. This prophecy he commanded him to record on the plates, but not to reveal to any one. Alma then blessed Helaman, also his other sons; indeed he blessed all who should stand firm in the truth of Christ from that time forth. Shortly after this he departed out of the land of Zarahemla, as if to go to the land of Melek, and was never heard of more. Of his death and burial no men were witnesses. Then the saying went abroad throughout the Church that the Lord had taken him, as He beforetime had taken Moses. This event occurred exactly one hundred years from the time of the elder Alma's birth.