"Confidence" is "the mental attitude of trusting in or relying on a person or thing; firm trust, reliance, faith" (Oxford English Dictionary). It is also defined as "the feeling sure or certain of a fact or issue; assurance, certitude" (OED). "Confidence" can also be "assurance, boldness, fearlessness, arising from reliance on divine support" (OED). "Confidence" comes from the Indo-European root to persuade or trust; to abide or await trustingly. Interestingly, this is the same root for the word "faith."
We learn from the American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots that "the root 'to trust,' whose English derivatives include faith, fidelity, and confederate, is noteworthy in that its descendants in several of the Indo-European daughter languages refers specifically to the mutual trust on which covenants and social contracts must stand in order to be binding. Latin, for example, gets the general word for 'trust,' as well as the word for 'treaty' from this root."
There are at least two different uses of the word "confidence" in scripture. One use is that of assurance or a sense of boldness because of faith in divine power. For example, Joseph Smith, in September 1823, "betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before Him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one" (Joseph Smith-History 1:29).
In Hebrews we learn, "But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Hebrews 3:6).
Paul also teaches, "Let us therefore come boldly (with confidence) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
In the covenantal sense, that is, the confidence on which covenants are based, John tells us that if we "believe on the name of the Son of God ... (and) know that ye have eternal life," we can have "the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us" (1 John 5:13-14).Then, of course, we have the grand covenantal promise at the end of D&C 121: "Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God ... " (D&C 121:45).
Joseph A. Cannon is editor of the Deseret News. E-mail: [email protected] The gospel in words
E-mail: [email protected]