A Chinese Saying to Consider: “Review the Ancient, Know the New”

Tonight I ran into an interesting Chinese saying: 溫 故 知 新 (Wen Gu Zhi Xin), which literally means “review the ancient, know the new.” One meaning is that by studying ancient wisdom, you can better grasp current events. (One Chinese classics site even has that saying as its title. It’s a cool site where you can study several ancient writings such as the deep Analects of Confucius. One great example is Lunyu 1.15.)

To understand the present by studying the past is what the Book of Mormon begs us to do. It was written by ancient prophets who saw our day and sought to warn us and guide us through their inspired selection of writings from the records of an ancient people. Moroni, the son of its primary editor, Mormon, and the final writer of that record, put it this way: “I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing” (Mormon 8: 35).

And in the next chapter, Mormon 9, he wrote:

[30] Behold, I speak unto you as though I spake from the dead; for I know that ye shall have my words.

[31] Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.

By studying that work, we have a chance to learn from history and be more wise than the Nephites or their more ancient counterparts, the Jaredites, both of whom followed a similar pattern: both collapsed and were destroyed as a consequence of their sins, their pride, and their materialistic secret combinations that corrupted the government of their people and drew them into constant and hopeless war.

The teachings of the Book of Mormon are becoming more relevant than ever before. There is so much we need to learn and pay attention to, including details such as the importance of preparation and food storage for survival in times of chaos, and learnings from broad themes such as the inversion of values when wicked government begins to turn against the values that once brought liberty and peace.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

10 thoughts on “A Chinese Saying to Consider: “Review the Ancient, Know the New”

  1. If only the leaders of our country (can I still call it a country??) would learn from past mistakes made by other countries which failed after implementing what we are beginning to implement here in the U.S. maybe we wouldn't be inevitably speeding up the end game.

    Thanks to modern revelation and prophets and apostles we know what will befall this country and this world in preparation to Christ's Second Coming.

    It seems to me that in that last five months we have cranked up the speed on the timeline dial and are moving at such a fast pace to fulfilling the prophecies which await this country. I'm just glad to know that this country itself will never fail. The Constitution will never fail. It WILL hang by a single thread, but it will NEVER fail.

    Think where the U.S. was five months ago. Look where we are today. Imagine where we will be in six more months at this same pace.


    However, it's all part of the His plan and we need to be righteous, obey the commandments, follow the prophets, study the "signs of the times" (Matthew 24 is a great place to start) and we will be blessed.

  2. I'm really glad that you touched on this topic. I'm part of an educational group based on the book "A Thomas Jefferson Education" by Oliver De Mille. This is one of the many things that we discuss.

    One thing that we've noticed is that history seems to run in circles. Maybe if we understood our history to begin with, we'd learn from the mistake the first time and therefore we would not make the same mistake again. It is a shame that so many people don't review their history. It's important.

  3. Thank goodness for moral, upstanding, courageous and righteous leaders in Washington D.C. and elsewhere who make decisions based on principle and not political expediency. If not for that, we would have something to worry about.

    /end sarcasm

  4. We have a whole new generation that didn't know Jimmy Carter, and another generation that knew him, but apparently forgot. That's one reason why Obama got elected.

  5. Just last night I finished reading the Book of Mormon again. These past couple of months with every page I turned there was something to compare to today's happenings.

    Especially toward the end with Ether and the final battles of the Nephites and Lamanites.

    The descriptions Mormon gave of the utter depravity of the societies.

    These coming years are going to be filled with great despair, but it's also exciting to be living in these final times and seeing all the prophesies coming to pass. I think soon we will see many people coming to the Church.

    Scary, but also exciting. I can't wait to behold Christ's face and exchange my pain-wracked body for a celestial one. And see an end to wars and tempests. And to no more be tormented by filth and unrighteousness that permeates our society.

    To finally know what it will feel like to live in peace and righteousness. Personally, I can't wait. The sooner it all comes to pass, the better.

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  7. jayleenb, you say, "Scary, but also exciting." I love how the Lord refers to this day similar to your words: "The great and dreadful day of the Lord." Only those who aren't prepared to meet God will be dreading it.

    Brian Duffin, although your post was meant in humor, there is an aspect to it that made me think about something I read over the weekend, so after a bit of quick digging I unearthed it again. It reads:

    "As men seek to decide who should represent them in government, they should maintain their own honor and integrity as citizens. It is not enough to choose good and righteous men to lead governments; individuals must follow true and holy principles themselves. A righteous citizenry is the best safeguard to peace and happiness" (D&C CES manual, p. 232).

    Touching on the Constitution itself, when we learn in D&C of the divine inspiration of that document, even "a heavenly banner" as Joseph Smith called it, it made me wonder something: how would we as individuals learn about and treat the Constitution if it were, say, a section or two in the Doctrine and Covenants? or divinely declared scripture? Food for thought.

  8. Jennifer,

    I think the Constitution is much like the Apocrypha in which it is up to the reader to discern what is inspired and what isn't. There are a few things in the Constitution that are not inspired and several General Authorities have commented on that subject.

    However, I think our younger generation could use some really good history lessons so that they can understand the Constitution and history and why all of it matters to us today.

    It is good to "review the ancient, know the new."

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