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Messenger and Advocate/1/5
|←Number 4|| Messenger and Advocate
1, Number 5
|Source document in Mormon Publications: 19th and 20th Centuries online archive: Messenger and Advocate Vol. 1
Note: Some headings and bracketed texts are editorial and not part of the original text.
|LATTER DAY SAINTS'|
|MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE|
|Volume I. No. 5.]||KIRTLAND, OHIO, FEBRUARY, 1835.||[Whole No. 5.|
LETTER No. 4.
Liberty, Mo. Christmas, 1834.
Your letter from Norton (O.) dated Sept. 7, 1834, came to me by mail, last week, through the medium of the Messenger and Advocate. I am glad you "have thought that a full history of the rise of the church of Latter Day Saints, and the most interesting part of its progress, to the present time, would be worthy the perusal of the saints." The history of the saints, according to sacred writ, is the only record which has stood the test and ravages of time from the beginning; and a true account of the revival of the Lord's church, so near the great Sabbath of creation, must be a source and subject of holy joy to the pure in heart; and an interesting preface of things to come, that might arrest the attention of the world, before the Lord shows his naked arm to the nations, if the children of men would read and understand.
I pray our heavenly Father to assist you, so that you may be enabled to spread the truth before the eyes of this generation, ere destruction comes as a whirl-wind upon the ungodly. Strive, with your might, to be simple, plain, easy and unaffected in your style, showing the shining world, that though many may continue to run after one that is able to give gold to his friends, and lead to his enemies, you, with the Israel of God, will rejoice in having light enough to follow HIM who has power to give eternal life to his friends, and will overcome his enemies.
There are some items in your letter which are great, and revive old thoughts that, long since, were left to float down the gulf of departed things, into the maze of forgetfulness. The first one is where you sat day after day and wrote the history of the second race that inhabited this continent, as the words were repeated to you by the Lord's prophet, through the aid of the "Urim and Thummim," "Nephite Interpreters," or Divine Spectacles. I mean when you wrote the book of Mormon, containing the fulness of the gospel to the world, and the covenant to gather Israel, for the last time, as well as the history of the Indians, who, till then, had neither origin among men, nor records amid the light and knowledge of the great 19th century.
Fresh comes a story into my mind, that, in 1823, before the book of Mormon was known among us, a sacred record, or, as I had it, another bible, written or engraved upon thin gold leaves, containing more plainness than the one we had, but agreeing with it, had been found near Canandaigua, N. Y.. The characters in which it was written, were of a language once used upon the eastern continent, but obsolete and unknown then. I was somewhat surprised at the remarkable discovery, or news, though I never knew to this day, how I came by it. Like Paul, who did not know whether he was in the body, or out of it, at a certain time, I cannot tell whether I dreamed; or whether some person told me; or whether an angel whispered such strange tidings. I mentioned it a few times, but was rather laughed at, and so I said no more about it, till after I had removed to Canandaigua, when the book of Mormon was published.
At that day, or, in fact, I always believed the scriptures, and believed that there was such a sacred thing as pure religion; but I never believed that any of the sects of the day, had it, and so I was ever ready to argue up, or down, any church; and that, too, by evidence from the good old book, an intimacy with which I had formed in infancy and cherished in age. When the story related above, first found a resting place in my tabernacle, I rejoiced that there was something coming to point the right way to heaven. So it was, and, thank God, so it is.
In the history you are writing, you cannot be too plain and minute in particulars. There is majesty from man to Messiah; from the angels to the Almighty, and from simplicity to sublimity. Out of small things proceed great ones, and the mind, or memory, retains a shadow of greatness on earth, or a glimpse of glory from heaven, when a volume of nonsense may be forgotten
in a day, or a nation dropped into oblivion and remembered no more. When the book of Mormon came forth, those that received it, and embraced its truths, saw new light upon the scriptures, and a true beauty in holiness; and they began to have confidence in the promises of God; faith in prayer; faith in miracles, and a holy anxiety to share in the glory that should follow, after much tribulation: and the Lord, being merciful to them, in their infancy and weakness, performed and said many things to aid and strengthen their faith, and fortify their minds against the wiles of the evil one, which, like many other good things may have again been shut up in heaven for a day of righteousness. A memento of them, in the work under consideration, may be a day-star to thousands, yet groping in the regions of mental darkness; yea, may I not say, that a sketch of some of the revelations to the church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, might answer as hands to point to the light-house of the skies, which will only be seen by the pure in heart, when the "black-coat" fog of many centuries, has been driven back to its own place, by the refreshing breezes of the gospel in its purity. O welcome day! would thou wast here, that the saints might see the towers of Zion in precious beauty and golden splendor, cheering their native land, with the music of heaven, and the glory of God!
While I think of it, let me ask you to explain, or state what the angel said when he informed brother J. S. jr. that a treasure was about to come forth to this generation.
The next item I shall notice, is, (a glorious one,) when the angel conferred the "priesthood upon you, his fellow servants." That was an august meeting of men and angels, and brought again, upon earth, the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. I am aware that our language lacks terms, and we fail in power to set forth the sublimity of such a holy scene, but we can remember the glory and tell the appearance in such words as we have, and let God add the majesty and omnipotence to the sacred interview. Our ancient brethren were careful to notice angel's visits, and note what they said, and how careful ought we to be? Let church history tell. The impressions made upon our minds by the inhabitants of heaven, remain long to remind us that there is an eternity in the next world, where matter or spirit, and duration and life are equal.
I am not often in the habit of telling dreams and visions, and rarely write them, but on the 16th of last November, after I retired to rest, it appeared that I was standing in the door of a house, wherein were a number of brethren and sisters lamenting the situation of the church, when, of a sudden, I saw a whitish cloud in the clear sky of the south east, gently coming towards me; and something, which, at first sight, resembled the portrait of a man's head; but, in a moment, as it came nearer, it looked like the full image of a man.—When nearest it made a graceful bow to me, then receded till out of sight.—I cried with a loud voice, The Lord preserve us for an angel is here! The Lord is with us, for his angel has come!! His appearance and countenance were beautiful; and his robe was white. His skin was a touch nicer than virgin snow, tinged with a crimson glimmer of sun-set. The whole scene was simply grand, though nothing but a dream.
Now my natural eyes beheld not this, yet every thing of it, is so strongly impressed upon my mind, that it seems like a reality. From this I judge, that a scene of heavenly things, seen with the naked eye, is so perfectly retained, that you can give every particular.
The knowledge which has come from God to man, by this last establishment of the true church, is, at once, very glorious and very great, making plain the reward of all men in the world to come, and showing the saints that they must come into the presence of God, by perfection, being one in baptism, one in faith and one in the Lord Jesus.—The vision points out the degrees of happiness and misery, so agreeably to scripture, and so plain, that all of the commonest understanding, may learn for themselves what kingdom the Lord will give them an inheritance in, according to their works and ways in this life. After the fall man inherited three desires, which, if indulged beyond a given latitude, vitally destroys his pleasure, his prosperity and his peace.—They are a lust to generate his species; a love for money, and a thirst for greatness. To check these passions, so that one can overcome the world, requires fortitude and faith sufficient, like Moses, to choose rather to suffer affliction with
the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
But lest I tire your patience with too long a letter, let me briefly close. If there was joy on earth, when Adam received and obeyed the gospel, at the mouth of the angel, and became the first high priest after the holy order of God; if there was joy on earth, as there was in Eden when the morning stars sang together, when Enoch established Zion in the first thousand years; if there was joy on earth, when the flood abated, because the world was cleansed of iniquity; if there was joy on earth, when Moses led the children of Israel out of bondage, and had a grand view of the glory of God; if there was joy on earth, 1834 years ago, (to-day) because Jesus came in the flesh for the redemption of fallen man; and if there was joy on earth, when the fulness of the gospel and the holy-priesthood were committed to you for the last time: how much more joy will there be on earth when the iniquity of man shall cease, and the knots of nations, and the cordons of kingdoms, and the chains of empires, shall have parted forever, and with Babylon the great, shall have fallen into their own place; when the kingdom of God shall have dominion and power under the whole heaven; and when the voice of the triumphant Redeemer, shall not only ring round this globe to the righteous, but shall sound throughout the vast empire of God, to the just of worlds,— "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world."
W. W. PHELPS.
Millenium. No. XII.
In the 144 Ps. we have a most glorious description given of the reign of Christ on the earth, from the 4th verse to the close of the chapter.
"Bow the heavens, O Lord, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them. Send thy hand from above, rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children; whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltry and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praise unto thee. It is he that giveth salvation unto kings: who delivereth David his servant from the hurtful sword.—Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: that our garners may be full, affording all manner of store; that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets: that our oxen may be strong to labor; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord." (or whose God the Lord Jehovah is.)
A more blessed state of earthly society, than is here described by the Psalmist, is not easily conceived of; an order of things when complaining shall have ceased, and be heard in the streets no more. We can readily conceive that when all complaining shall cease, there will be a very different order of society, from what there is at present, or ever was since the world began; for there never has been a time up to the present state, but there has been complaining in the streets.
This account, however agrees with what John says, in the Revelations 21:3,4: "And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall their be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
David and John, both seem to have had their eyes fixed on a state of society very different from any which had existed up till their day, or from theirs to the present; but one that will come when the Lord shall bow the heavens and come down, and touch the mountains, and they shall smoke, and the tabernacle of God be with men, and when the Lord shall have rid David (or Israel) from the hand of
strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood. In the above quotation the Psalmist gives us the whole order of things which tend to the establishing of this glory on earth, when complaining will be heard no more.
And first it is to begin with the Lord's bowing the heavens and coming down. See 5 verse. Secondly, after he comes he is to deliver his people out of great waters, and from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood, verses 7, 8 and 11. The consequences following from the Lord's coming down, and delivering his people from the hand of strange children are, first, that their sons will grow up as plants in their youth, and secondly, their daughters will be as corner-stones, polished after the sim[i]litude of a palace. verse 12, Thirdly, their garners will be full affording all manner of store.—verse 13, Fourthly, their sheep shall bring forth their thousands and tens of thousands in their streets. 13, Fifthly, their oxen will be strong to labor. 14. And lastly, there will neither be breaking in nor going out.
A society of the above description, will doubtless suit John's description in every respect, as before quoted, nor could the mind conceive of a people in circumstances more agreeable, nor yet more desirable, than to enjoy the high privileges above mentioned: a people where their sons should be as plants grown in their youth, whose conduct should never wound the feelings of their parents, nor bring a stain on their characters, nor yet cause the tear of sorrow to roll down their cheek; their daughters also, as corner-stones, polished after the sim[i]litude of a palace: without spot, without blemish, the comfort of their parents. This is securing to a person, one of the greatest sources of human happiness, to have his family without reproach, without shame, without contempt, and his house a house of peace, and his family a family of righteousness, and his habitation a habitation of holiness: add to this the abundance of the good things of the world, his garners full of all manner of store: that is, every thing which his nature could enjoy, while his flocks are bringing forth their thousands and their tens of thousands, in his streets, and we have before us a society or generation of persons whose earthly lot, above all others, is desirable, and an order of things to be longed for by every lover of mankind: but this never will take place, until the Lord bows the heavens and comes down, and his tabernacle is with men; then all tears will be wiped from the eyes of his saints; then all sorrowing and sighing will cease; then will Israel sing a new song upon a psaltry and an instrument of ten strings; then shall their sons be as plants grown in their youth, and their daughters, as corner-stones, polished after the sim[i]litude of a palace; then will the earth bring forth in its strength, so that their garners shall be full, affording all manner of store; then shall their sheep bring forth their thousands and tens of thousands in their streets; then shall the wilderness and the solitary place be glad for them, and the desert blos[s]om as the rose; then shall the blind see, and the lame man leap as an heart, and the tongue of the dumb sing. Well might the Psalmist say, "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, let the multitude of the islands be glad thereof: the world also is establish that it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad: let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice. Before the Lord for he cometh," &c.
Let the reader notice particularly, that all this is to take place when the Lord comes.
The 11 and 12 chapters of Isaiah, give an additional account of the glory of the Lord's reign on the earth: they are too lengthy for insertion here, but let the reader turn to them, and read them; for they will throw a great light upon the subject, and he will there see the glory which is to follow the second advent of the Savior, and the effect which his reign is to have on the brutal creation, as well as the natural.
FAITH OF THE CHURCH. No. XI.
In prosecuting the investigation of the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men, it will be necessary to go back and begin where the subject begins, in order that we may have
a clear understanding of it. We have previously seen what part the Spirit took in preparing the apostles for their respective callings and mission—how necessary it was for them to receive it; for unless they had received it they never could have built up the kingdom of heaven, or church of Christ; and that without it all the knowledge and information which they had received from others, not even that received from the Lord himself personally, both while in the flesh, and after his resurrection from the dead excepted, would not have availed to enable them to execute their high commission; for in addition to all that they had seen, and heard, and handled, of the word of life, they must receive this gift, or work for the Lord they could not. You must tarry at Jerusalem, says the Savior, until you are endowed with power from on high, that is, until you receive the Holy Spirit, and then, and not till then, you shall go forth and proclaim the gospel to all nations.
From the course which was pursued with the apostles in preparing them for their high calling, they must have had great knowledge of the situation of others, and a correct understanding of what was necessary to prepare and qualify them for the enjoyment of future felicity; and in their teaching we may expect to find the subject plainly set forth; for if it is not plainly set forth in their writings, they cannot be trusted as safe guides in things pertaining to eternal life. Let us look, therefore, in what point of light they have set forth the subject under consideration.
In the commission which the apostles received from the Savior, after his resurrection from the dead, as recorded by Mark, we can obtain some information which will serve as a key to unlock to the enquiring mind in a degree, the office which the Holy Spirit was to perform in the salvation of those who were to believe on their word! it reads thus, "And he said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned, and these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:15,16,17,18. In the 12 chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle says that the promises here made to those who should believe the report of the apostles, were gifts of the Holy Spirit, or spiritual gifts. Let it be particularly noticed, that in the commission given to the apostles, that it was not the apostles themselves who were to show the signs but it was the persons who were to believe on the apostles' word—the signs were to follow them, "These signs shall follow them that believe—they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, and if they shall drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them." Not the apostles, but those who believe their word. Such is the point of light in which the promise made to those who believe on the word of the apostles, was presented by the Savior, and in the ex[e]cution of this commission, by the apostles, we will not expect to find any thing different from this, for if we should, we would be left in a great difficulty, not knowing what to believe nor whom to obey.
Having seen in what point of light the commission stands, which was given to the apostles at the first by the Savior himself, to authorize them to go forth and call upon the nations to repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and if they done as they were required by the apostles, they should receive certain things, or power to do certain things, which were called afterwards by the apostles spiritual gifts, and being spiritual gifts were part of the work of the Spirit in saving men; for they are numbered among the things which pertain to the kingdom of God, and to the scheme of eternal life; and an attempt to set forth the work of the Spirit in the salvation of men, and leave this out would be a vain attempt. When we propose to investigate the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men we mean to include the whole of the work of the spirit. When we speak of the work of God the Father in the salvation of men, we mean all the work which he performs for their salvation. In like manner when we speak of the work of the Son we mean all the work which the Son performs in the salvation of the
world; So in like manner when we speak of the work of the Spirit we mean all that the Spirit does in this work.
In order that we may have the subject plainly before us, we will follow the apostles in their journeyings and preachings, and hear them explain the gift of the Holy Spirit. We will notice its effects on those who received it, and then draw the contrast between those who received it, and those who were full of religion without it.
We shall begin with the 2 chapter of the Acts of the apostles and first verse. The gift of the Holy Spirit is described thus: "And when the day of pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." 1, 2, 3 and 4 verses. The historian informs us that in consequence of this out pouring of the Spirit, being noised abroad, the multitude came together which was very great because it was the time of the feast of pentecost, and there were devout Jews from all nations under heaven dwelling at Jerusalem at that time, and the consequence was that they were all amazed, and said to one another Behold are not all these Galileans which speak? and how hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we were born? these expressions of astonishment and amazement, together with some conjectures among the multitude, such as the disciples were filled with new wine, &c. excited the apostle Peter to arise and address them, and explain this marvelous phenomena. "But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants, and on my handmaidens, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy."
In the 23 verse, after the apostle had proven the resurrection of the Savior, he says, Therefore being by the right hand of God, exalted, or being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this which you now see and hear.
In the 37 verse we are told that the multitude who had come together on that occasion were pricked in their hearts and enquired of Peter and the rest of the apostles what they should do—and Peter made the following answer, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.—For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
From the above quotations, we learn some very important things respecting the office of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men. In the first instance the apostle describes the gift; he tells what it was, and what its effects were. In the 33 verse, speaking of Christ's being raised from the dead, and having ascended up on high, and having received the gift of the Holy Spirit—"He hath shed forth this which you now see and hear." We are told, in the 2 and 3 verses what it was that they saw and heard: "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Let the reader notice particularly, that the thing which the multitude saw, and heard was the gift of the Holy Spirit, and this is the only thing which is called the gift of the Holy Spirit in the bible.
But we have not only the gift described but its effects also. The apostles quoting from the prophet Joel, says, verses 17,18: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, (saith God) I will pour out of my Spirit upon all
flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:"
From these descriptions and explanations of the apostle, in relation to the gift of the Holy Spirit, the subject begins to get plain and easy of understanding. First, the gift of the Holy Spirit was a visible thing, for the multitude did not only hear it, but they saw it also; and secondly when it was poured out it produced a particular effect, that is, the person on whom it was poured spake with other tongues—they were to prophesy, to dream dreams, and to see visions, and to put the matter at rest, these were the effects which it was to produce when in the last days, God would pour it out on all flesh.
THE GOSPEL. No. V.
There is one thing necessary to know in order to have a correct knowledge of the gospel; it is, that it was, is, and ever will be the same; that it is as immutible [immutable] as God himself, or Jesus the Savior, and that the gospel is the scheme of life and salvation; and there was not nor will not be any other, it is that scheme of things by which all that are saved, will be saved, and all who are now saved were saved by it. The apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Ephesians, 1 chapter from the 3 to the 11 verse, gives us the following account of the scheme of life and salvation, which he promulg[at]ed in his day to the generation among whom he lived, and to whom the Lord sent him.—"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.—In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he has purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:"
In the foregoing quotation the apostle gives us an outline of the order of things, which he proclaimed to the people of his day, which he said he had not received of man, nor by man; but by revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11,12 "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man: for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
The account then which the apostle gives of the proclamation which he proclaimed to the world is, that the same thing which he received by immediate revelation from Jesus Christ, was a scheme of things which had originated in eternity, before the world was "Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world."—Ephesians 1:3, 4. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, to himself. 5 verse. That is, before the foundation of the world. No language need be plainer than this, that is, that God before he framed the world, had laid the scheme of life and salvation, and before he formed Adam's dust into man, he had predestinated that the human family should be made children to himself, through Jesus Christ, and all this was fixed before the foundation of the world; and this is what Paul had revealed unto him to proclaim to the uncircumcision, as well as Peter to the circumcision. But it was in Jesus Christ that men were to be made children to God, or that God made children to himself out of the apostate race of man. "He hath chosen us in him, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins wherein he hath abounded toward us, or in him he hath abounded towards
us in all wisdom and prudence." In all these instances it is in him, not out of him, that men are to receive blessings, and to become sons of God.
This is in perfect accordance with what this same apostle says in the epistle to the Galatians, when speaking of Abraham, and the gospel proclaimed to him 3 chapter and 8 verse: "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed." The promise to which the apostle alludes is found in the book of Geneses [Genesis] 12:1, 2, 3. "Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, get the [thee] out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I shall shew thee of: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. In the 22 chapter 15,16,17 and 18 verses: the promise reads thus: "And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, by myself I have sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore, and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast done this thing."
In the former of these quotations it is said, that in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. And in the latter that in thy seed shall all nations be blessed.
In the 28 chapter we have an account of the same promise being confirmed unto Jacob; for according to the declarations of the Psalmist David this promise was made unto Abraham, and by oath unto Isaac, and confirmed unto Jacob. See 105 Psalm, 8, 9 & 10 verses: "He hath remembered his covenant forever, the word which he commanded unto a thousand generations, [or the generations of the thousand years.] Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac, and confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant. The account of this confermation [confirmation] we have in the 28 of Genesis, and the 10,11,12,13 and 14 verses. "And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillow, and lay down in that place to sleep.—And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And behold the Lord stood above it, and said I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed.—And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Here it is said to Jacob that in him and in his seed all families of the earth should be blessed, and putting both the former quotations together and it would read the same way to Abraham; for one says in thee, and the other says in thy seed, so that the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was, that in them, and in their seed, should all the families; or nations of the earth be blessed, and this is what is called the gospel, which Paul says was preached before to Abraham: Galatians 3:8. It is necessary that the reader should notice particularly that it is in Abraham, and in his seed that all the families of the earth should be blessed, and not out of them; for here lays the mistake with many; they do not notice that little preposition in, and they fancy to themselves that they will be blessed, whether they are in Abraham and his seed, or out of them; not thinking that there is a difference between in and out.
Concerning this promise made to Abraham the new testament writers have said many things. In the 3 chapter of the epistle to the Galatians, the apostle Paul settles the question, who the seed was, concerning whom it was said, that in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. He says thus, in the 16 verse: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promi-
ses made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ." According to this explanation, the promise to Abraham and his seed stands thus. That in thee, and in Christ thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed. We can see by this that it was not enough that a person should be a regular descendant from Abraham to entitle them to the blessings of heaven, but they must be in his seed also, which is Christ, so that to obtain eternal life, a person must be both in Abraham and in Christ.
What is here said about Abraham and his seed, so directly corresponds with what the apostle has said in the epistle to the Ephesians, as before quoted, concerning the scheme of things which he proclaimed to the world, or the plan of life and salvation, which is called the gospel, that even a careless reader cannot avoid seeing how completely they harmonize. Mark reader that the apostle said that God had chosen us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. Eph. 1:4. Again in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins wherein [or in whom] he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence. So then we are chosen to be sons of God in Christ and it is in him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and it is in him that God abounds unto us in all wisdom and prudence. And the promise to Abraham was, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, or that in Christ all the nations of the earth should be blessed, and that says the apostle, is what God purposed in himself before the foundation of the world, and agreeably to that plan, men should be blessed: in Christ Jesus they should get the remission of sins: in Christ Jesus they should get redemption: in Christ Jesus God would abound towards them in all wisdom and prudence; and says the promise to Abraham, (or the gospel as before preached to Abraham) in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed; whether they are descendants of Shem, Ham, or Japheth, in Christ they should be blessed; for God will abound to all who are in Christ Jesus, in wisdom and prudence: they will have redemption, the fargiveness [forgiveness] of sins.
It is in view of this promise made to Abraham and his seed, that the apostle says, Rom. 9:6,7. "For they are not all Israel which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called." And in Rom. 4:11,12,13, the apostle says, "And he [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also; and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had, being yet uncircumcised." For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
The careful reader of the new testament will find that the allusions to the promise made to Abraham and his seed are very numerous, but would not be to our purpose to quote at present.
It is necessary to remark here, that the apostle has pronounced a curse on any person, or even on an angel from heaven, if they preach any other gospel, than the one which he had proclaimed. See Gal. 1:8,9. And he says as quoted above, that, the gospel which he proclaimed, had been before preached to Abraham, telling him, that in his seed, that is, in Christ Jesus, all the families of the earth should be blessed, and from what he said to the Romans it is evident that the apostle excludes the fleshly seed of Abraham from being the children of Abraham according to this promise, only such as had faith like faithful Abraham, and that all others who had this faith, were equally entitled to the blessings of Abraham, whether they were his fleshly seed or not; it mattered not from whom they descended; for if through faith they were enabled to get into Christ Jesus, they would be considered Abraham's children and heirs according to the promise.
In the third chapter to the Galatians the mystery is solved, how it is that we are put into Christ, and become Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise. Verses 26, 27, 28. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have
put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.—And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise. This carries the promise made to Abraham to its legitimate issue, and shows what it was that was preached to Abraham: that it was not only in his seed that all the families of the earth were to be blessed, but that they were to be put in his seed, that is, Christ, by baptism; for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. We could hardly admit the thought that the Lord had told Abraham that in him and in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed, and yet not tell him how it was that they were to become his children, or in other words, how they were to be put into Christ, Abraham's seed. No doubt therefore, can exist, but that Abraham knew all about it; for if he did not, could it be said that he had the gospel preached unto him? It could not, unless he had that thing preached unto him which Paul afterwards preached, and concerning which he said that any man, or an angel from heaven should be accursed if he preached any other. Neither can we with safety admit it, having the testimony which we have on this subject before us, that God had at any period of the world any other way of making sons and daughters but the one; for Paul says that the gospel was before the world was, and the thing which he received by revelation, was the same which had existed from eternity.
But to have the whole subject fairly before us, we will attend to the proclamation of him in whom God had wrought effectually to the apostleship of the circumcision, we mean Peter.—We have his proclamation, to the circumcision in the 2 chapter of the Acts of the apostles, 37, 38, and 39 verses, it reads thus. "Now when the Jews heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, men and brethren what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
The reader may see very easily, that all these men understood the subject alike; for the specimens which we have of their preaching are alike. Paul says as quoted above, that in Christ we have the forgiveness of sins, and redemption through his blood, and that in him, we are made partakers of the blessings of Abraham, and he also says, that it is by baptism that we are put into Christ. Peter says, repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Why be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins? because, that by baptism Paul says that you put on Christ, "as many of you as are baptized into Christ have put on Christ;" and being in Christ you have remission of sins, and redemption through his blood; and in him God will abound to you in all wisdom and prudence. Therefore, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, or in other words God will abound towards you in all wisdom and prudence, through the gift of the Holy Spirit. These two apostles then surely had the same views on the subject of the gospel; and let it not be forgotten, that Paul says, that this gospel was preached to Abraham, and not only to Abraham, but that it originated in eternity, before the world was, and that it was not some new thing which had sprang into existence with him and his co[n]temporaries, and was not known till then. But more on this point hereafter.
DIED in this place on the evening of the 19th inst. elder SETH JOHNSON, aged 30 years. Elder J. was a young man of promising talents, and of strict religious principles; ever manifesting, by his acts, the warm affection of a heart devoted to the cause of God, and to that most dear to him of all things, the religion of the Lord Jesus; but his Master has accepted his work and taken him home, where he can receive that reward promised to the pure in heart.
Though dust returns to dust, and his spirit has fled to Christ, we drop this as a tribute to his worth—HE WAS A SAINT.—[ Editor.]
Messenger and Advocate.
KIRTLAND, OHIO, FEBRUARY, 1835.
From a file of letters on hand, from the different parts of the country, we make the following extracts for the satisfaction of the churches and elders who are scattered abroad. As many false alarms are raised by designing men, that the church is breaking up and will soon be dissolved, and to make their falsehoods more current with the people, have added to it, lately, that our stone meeting house is giving way at the foundation, and will soon fall, and that in consequence of its disposition to give way, we had ceased to work on it. It is a fact, however marvellous it may appear, that we have had men come to see if this were not the case; some from a hundred to one hundred and fifty miles distant, declaring that persons directly from Kirtland, who profess to have seen it, said it was falling down. We can say to our friends, that this morning as we were coming to the office, we passed by it, and not a stone was out of place, every one filling the place assigned it, presenting a majestic appearance to the eye of the beholder, with the top of its base fifty feet above the surface of the ground, and its elevated steeple pointing to heaven, as much as to say, "I stand here in honor of that God who created the heavens and the earth, and who framed the materials of which I am composed:" but to our letters.
Elder W. A. Cowdery of Freedom, Cataraugus county, N. Y. writes under date of January 28, as follows:
"I take the liberty to send you the proceedings of the conference of elders and delegates from the different branches of the church of the Latter Day Saints, assembled in this place on Saturday and Sunday, the 24th and 25th instants.
At about 10 o'clock, brother John Gould was called to the chair, and brother H. Hyde duly appointed Secretary. Prayer by brother Gould. Called on the elders and delegates to report the situation of their respective branches, the delegates from the church at Westfield, Chautauque county, reported, from which report it appears that there are 72 members in that church in good standing. In the church of Mendon and Lima, Monroe and Livingston counties, report 8 members in good standing. From this last mentioned church, the greater part have moved away; some to Kirtland, and some to Missouri, and the eight here mentioned, is the remnant which is left. The church was once large.—Java and Weathersfield, Genessee county, reported 18 in good standing: this is also the remainder of a church: many have moved to the places of gathering.
A church recently built up through the instrumentality of Elder A. J. Squires, in Portage, Allegany county, was reported, having 19 members in good standing.
There was a church reported which resides in Grove—this is in Allegany county—said to be a firm little band, 16 in number. Also in Barns in the same county, is a church of 17 members.
The church in Perrysburgh was not represented, but there are 35 members in good standing in the church. As there have been some additions lately, it is probable that there are, at present, more than thirty five in the church.
In Laoni Village, Pomfret, Chautauque county, there is a church which was represented at the conference—20 members in good standing.
The church at Freedom, where the conference was held, has 74 members in good standing.
There was a little church in Hanover, Chautauque county, consisting of 11 members which was represented by elder Hadlock: they have much persecution, but count it all joy, being deeply rooted in the faith.
The church at Genesco was represented: it contains 24 members in good standing."
It will be seen by the above, that there are 11 churches in the part of the country where the conference was held. From many of these churches a large number have moved to the places of gathering; but the door is still open in that part of the country, and many are anxiously inquiring after truth, and no doubt numerous additions will be made to many of these churches in a short time, for the prospects are flattering according to the accounts which we receive by letters from those who have an opportunity of knowing.
Elder John Badger writes at North Danville, Vt. dated Jan. 26.
"I have baptized a few in this region. The STONE continues rolling: the glorious work though slow, but unshaken, continues progressing; many enquiring souls are among the multitude; but a multitude of priests, professors, and people of every order, sect, party, denomination, and grade, are striving with all the combined powers of darkness to stop the progressive work of the King of kings, yet, I realize, amid all this flood of persecution and commotion, that the God of heaven will turn and overturn, combinations, powers, and kingdoms, until the kingdoms of this world, become the kingdom of our God and his Christ. To all appearances there is a great field open for labor in this region, and as we have had some encouragement that some of the first elders are coming this way, we shall look for them in the spring."
Elder Sylvester B. Stoddard writes under date of Jan. 26, from Farmington, Kenebec county, Me.
"The Lord has been with me and blessed me with a few more sheaves, for which I rejoice in God my Savior; the cause of our heavenly Father is prospering exceedingly in this section of the country, and there are calls for preaching on the right hand and on the left, and I am not able to attend to them all. The church in this place has 28 members.—We have lost one of our number—sister Hannah Corbet, a worthy member: she departed this life on the 16th of Dec. last. She died in the triumphs of faith, and without doubt has gone to the Paradise of rest.
The church in this place requests a conference to be appointed here; no doubt this would prove beneficial—it is a very central place, and thick settled: there are three considerable villages in the town, and the towns around are thick settled: it is 50 miles from Letter B. church, 60 from Errol, 80 from Saco, a little over 100 from Dalton, N. H. and 180 or 90
from Boston. They also request, if possible, some able brethren from the west—some who are acquainted with the rise of the church.—We wish to have as many travelling brethren come as can, as there are none that I know of any where near this place—say two hundree [hundred] miles. If you think proper to appoint a conference, we wish to have it noticed in the Messenger, and notify the brethren to meet at Nathan Pinkam's in Farmington.—We desire it to commence on Friday the 19th of June next, and we will have a place for public preaching the two days following."
Elder Carvel Rigdon writes from Alleghany county, Pa. Jan. 23.
"The people in our own neighborhood continue to believe the evil reports which are circulating through the country, and will not let us have an opportunity of telling them what we do believe; and they prevent every person they can from hearing for themselves; so that we have not had an opportunity of saying any thing here, only to some, whom we have visited in their own houses, which has raised considerable excitement among the people, lest they should be led away. Brother Samuel James and myself, visited a village on the Monongahela river, about 20 miles from this place, and succeeded in getting a meeting appointed. I addressed a considerable congregation on the all-important subject of religion; showing what it was in the Patriarchal, Jewish, and apostolic ages, and that if we ever are in possession of the religion of heaven we must be in possession of the same things—which raised a very great excitement among the people; some saying one thing and some another, some declaring that it was true, and others that it was false. We have paid them two visits since and have found a very attentive and enquiring people. But with all the opposition which is raised against us, we will be able, if I am not greatly mistaken, to build up a church in this place shortly, and that of the more respectable and intelligent part of the inhabitants. Brother Samuel James is going, in about three weeks, to take a tour in Virginia, and will visit, Greenfield again."
Elders G. M. Hinkel and H. Green, who were laboring at the time they wrote, in Lebanon, St. Clair county, Illinois, give us the following account of their success in that region, dated Jan. 19.
"Again we have the privilege of informing you of our health, which is good, and also of sending you an account of our mission in the world.
We are yet preaching in the vicinity of St. Clair, and Washington counties, and the Lord has blessed our labors in proclaiming his word, and prejudice in many places is giving way, and truth has penetrated the hearts of many: we have baptized 27 in this place, and the work is still progressing. Brethren S. Carter and Brown are about twelve miles from here; they had baptized four the last account we had, and the prospect in that place was flattering, although the high-minded Pharisees, and priests, are uniting together to overthrow the truth, yet, the Lord has turned their counsels into foolishness, in all their efforts to deceive the people: they have been confounded and put to shame, so that their only alternative is, to prohibit their members from going to hear."
The following extract is taken from a letter written by elder Levi B. Wilder, dated Dalton, N. H. Feb. 15.
"I have been a member of the church of the Latter Day Saints more than one year. A small church was formed in this place in the July of 1833, consisting of 15 members: brother Stephen Burnet was the first one that sounded the glad tidings of the everlasting gospel in this place; afterwards brother Lyman Johnson came; it was by those two that the church was commenced in this place: there have been twenty two baptized, and added to this branch of the church, some have moved away so that at present the church has about as many as at first. We have had but little preaching in this place; but there seems to be a considerable number of persons who wish to hear the gospel proclaimed; we are in want of some able brother to instruct us in the way of righteousness. We have been in rather a cold state through the summer, but we have renewed our covenant, and find the Lord is ready and willing to bless us when we do our duty."
Elder W. Parish writes from Paris Henry county, Ten[n]es[s]ee, February 1st. "In our last communication to you, under date of October 27, we informed you, that we had planted a church in this vicinity, consisting of seven members: we extended our labors into an adjoining county, viz: Humphreys, and from that time up till December 1st, through the blessing of the Lord, 17 more have been added to the church. In justice to the people of this district among whom we have labored, I must say, that with some exceptions, we have been treated with respect. The march of truth is onward, its progress is not to be arrested by the impotent arm of man, whose infatuated zeal, causes them to lose sight of the sacred principles of the gospel, the truths of which are irresistible as the gathering tempest, and whose benign influence will ere long sweep over the face of the universal world, and fill it with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.—In all, there have been 35 baptized, and united with this church, and I expect to baptize more shortly; for many are inquiring after the old paths, and have expressed their determination to walk therein. Many are calling on every side, 'Come and preach for us.' O! join with me in prayer to God that he may send more laborers into the vineyard! for truly, there is a famine in the land for the word of the Lord as the prophet said would be. O use your influence, my dear brother, to send some laborers into the south part of the vineyard of the Lord—I mean into Tennessee."
From the foregoing extracts it may be seen, how much truth there is in the reports which are circulated by many of all parties and sects. We are confident that there never has been a time since the church commenced, that the prospects have been more flattering than they are at present. In all parts of our country, multitudes are enquiring after truth. So numerous are the calls, that if the number of elders were three to every one, they could not supply them. These facts are opening the eyes of some of the worst of our enemies, among whom is A. Campbell, of "Millen[n]ial Harbinger" memory. He has recently began to howl most prodigiously;
calling upon the people in great agony to read Mr. How[e]'s book, as a sure antidote against delusion. As this is all that Mr. Campbell can do, or dare do, we do not wish to deprive him of this privilege. So we say concerning Alexander, Dudley and co. let them exert themselves with all their power, for they will find it a harder task to "kick against the pricks," than to reform, as they call it, masons and sectarians,—they have undertaken a task to[o] great for them: the arm of Omnipotence is too potent for "school boys," and this they will find after they have exhausted all their power. The "black speck" will still "stain the American character," for the people will receive the everlasting gospel, nor can men nor devils prevent it. The people may rage and the heathen imagine a vain thing: but HE who sits in the heavens will laugh, the Lord will have them in derision, and ere long, he will speak to them in his wrath and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Mr. Campbell has been invited to show himself a man of principle—after repeated insults to the church of the "Latter Day Saints," and to exchange papers and cut a quill like a man; but seeing he dare not do it, (for notwithstanding the confidence which his satallites [satellites] have in him, he knows the weakness of his cause too well to hazard an investigation with an Elder of the church of the "Latter Day Saints,") we consider this effort of his in the same point of light which we do a whippet spannel, when he is afraid to face his enemy, he turns his hind parts and barks—so bark on Alexander.
The following is taken from the Brookville (Ia.) Enquirer; and we copy it into the Advocate to show our friends the different feeling with which the elders of this church are received. All we have to say now on the extract, is that the Editor could not have been a sectarian—We judge him to be a Republican, and a gentleman. [Editor.]
"The Latter day Saints, or Mormons."
On last Saturday evening, for the first time, in this place, a gentleman, and minister belonging to this new sect, preached in the court house, to a very respectable audience; and discoursed briefly on the various subjects connected with his creed; explained his faith and gave a brief history of the book of Mormon—united it with the Holy Bible, &c.
By request, he tarried over Sabbath, and at 2 o'clock again opened public worship by an able address to the Throne of the Most High. He spoke for about an hour and a half to a very large audience, during which time he explained many important passages of the prophecies contained in the Old & New Testaments, and applied them according to their literal meaning. He was not lame in the attempt, and in a succinct and lucid manner imparted his belief to the audience.
He believes the book of Mormon to be a series of revelations, and other matters appertaining to the Ephraimites, Lamanites, &c. whom he believes to have been the original settlers of this continent; and that an ancient Prophet caused the plates from which the book of Mormon was translated to be buried nearly two thousand years ago, in what is now called Ontario county, New-York. He is also of the belief that Joseph Smith was cited to the plates by an angel from Heaven, and endowed with the gift to translate the engraving upon them into the known language of the country.
This book, he is of opinion, is an event intended to prepare for the great work, the second appearance of Christ, when he shall stand on the Mount of Olives, attended by Abraham and all the Saints, to reign on the Earth for the space of a thousand years.
After he had closed his discourse, on Sabbath afternoon, he remarked that if "no one had any thing to say, the meeting would be considered as closed." Rev. Daniel St. John, a clergyman of the universal order, ascended the pulpit and in his usual eloquent strain held forth for a considerable time; taking exceptions to some of the positions of the preceding speaker—more particularly as regarded his belief as to the second appearance of Christ, and his doctrine of future rewards and punishments. An interesting debate of about three hours ensued in which each had four hearings, and at the request of the audience, a division of the house was called for on the merits of the argument, and carried in favor of the Latter Day Saint by an overwhelming vote.
Though in some things he characterized the fanatic; yet, in the main, his doctrines were sound and his positions tenable. We would do injustice to the gentleman were we to omit stating, that in all the discourses, of the like character, that we have ever heard it has never fallen to our lot to hear so much harmony in the arrangement of quotations from the sacred book. No passage could be referred to that would in the least produce discord in his arguments. The whole of his discourses were delivered in a very clear and concise manner, rendering it obvious that he was thoroughly acquainted with the course he believed he was called upon to pursue, in obedience to his Master's will.
If a man may be called eloquent who transfers his own views and feelings into the breasts of others—if a knowledge of the subject, and to speak without fear—are a part of the more elevated rules of eloquence we have no hesitancy in saying ORSON PRATT was eloquent; and truly verified the language of Boileau: "What we clearly conceive, we can clearly express."
To W. W. Phelps, Esq.
In my last, published in the 3d No. of the Advocate I apologized for the brief manner in which I should be obliged to give, in many instances, the history of this church. Since then yours of Christmas has been received. It was not my
wish to be understood that I could not give the leading items of every important occurrence, at least so far as would effect my duty to my fellowmen, in such as contained important information upon the subject of doctrine, and as would render it intelligibly plain; but as there are, in a great house, many vessels, so in the history of a work of this magnitude, many items which would be interesting to those who follow, are forgotten. In fact, I deem every manifestation of the Holy Spirit, dictating the hearts of the saints in the way of righteousness, to be of importance, and this is one reason why I plead an apology.
You will recollect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement, in Palmyra and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr's, age—that was an error in the type—it should have been in the 17th.—You will please remember this correction, as it will be necessary for the full understanding of what will follow in time. This would bring the date down to the year 1823.
I do not deem it to be necessary to write further on the subject of this excitement. It is doubted by many whether any real or essential good ever resulted from such excitements, while others advocate their propriety with warmth.
The mind is easily called up to reflection upon a matter of such deep importance, and it is just that it should be; but there is a regret occupying the heart when we consider the deep anxiety of thousands, who are lead away with a vain imagination, or a groundless hope, no better than the idle wind or the spider's web.
But if others were not benefited, our brother was urged forward and strengthened in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion.—And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him. This, most assuredly, was correct—it was right. The Lord has said, long since, and his word remains steadfast, that for him who knocks it shall be opened, & whosoever will, may come and partake of the waters of life freely.
To deny a humble penitent sinner a refreshing draught from this most pure of all fountains, and most desirable of all refreshments, to a thirsty soul, is a matter for the full performance of which the sacred record stands pledged. The Lord never said—"Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," to turn a deaf ear to those who were weary, when they call upon him. He never said, by the mouth of the prophet—"Ho, every one that thirsts, come ye to the waters," without passing it as a firm decree, at the same time, that he that should after come, should be filled with a joy unspeakable. Neither did he manifest by the Spirit to John upon the isle—"Let him that is athirst, come," and command him to send the same abroad, under any other consideration, than that "whosoever would, might take the water of life freely," to the remotest ages of time, or while there was a sinner upon his footstool.
These sacred and important promises are looked upon in our day as being given, either to another people, or in a figuratively form, and consequently require spiritualizing, notwithstanding they are as conspicuously plain, and are meant to be understood according to their literal reading, as those passages which teach us of the creation of the world, and of the decree of its Maker to bring its inhabitants to judgment. But to proceed with my narrative.—
On the evening of the 21st of September, 1823, previous to retiring to rest, our brother's mind was unusually wrought up on the subject which had so long agitated his mind—his heart was drawn out in fervent prayer, and his whole soul was so lost to every thing of a temporal nature, that earth, to him, had lost its claims, and all he desired was to be prepared in heart to commune with some kind messenger who could communicate to him the desired information of his acceptance with God.
At length the family retired, and he, as usual, bent his way, though in silence, where others might have rested their weary frames "locked fast in sleep's embrace;" but repose had fled,
and accustomed slumber had spread her refreshing hand over others beside him— he continued still to pray—his heart, though once hard and obdurate, was softened, and that mind which had often flitted, like the "wild bird of passage," had settled upon a determined basis not to be decoyed or driven from its purpose.
In this situation hours passed unnumbered—how many or how few I know not, neither is he able to inform me; but supposes it must have been eleven or twelve, and perhaps later, as the noise and bustle of the family, in retiring, had long since ceased.—While continuing in prayer for a manifestation in some way that his sins were forgiven; endeavoring to exercise faith in the scriptures, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room.—Indeed, to use his own description, the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming and unquenchable fire. This sudden appearance of a light so bright, as must naturally be expected, occasioned a shock or sensation, visible to the extremities of the body. It was, however, followed with a calmness and serenity of mind, and an overwhelming rapture of joy that surpassed understanding, and in a moment a personage stood before him.
Notwithstanding the room was previously filled with light above the brightness of the sun, as I have before described, yet there seemed to be an additional glory surrounding or accompanying this personage, which shone with an increased degree of brilliancy, of which he was in the midst; and though his countenanc[e] was as lightening, yet it was of a pleasing, innocent and glorious appearance, so much so, that every fear was banished from the heart, and nothing but calmness pervaded the soul.
It is no easy task to describe the appearance of a messenger from the skies— indeed, I doubt there being an individual clothed with perishable clay, who is capable to do this work. To be sure, the Lord appeared to his apostles after his resurrection, and we do not learn as they were in the least difficultied to look upon him; but from John's description upon Patmos, we learn that he is there represented as most glorious in appearance; and from other items in the sacred scriptures we have the fact recorded where angels appeared and conversed with men, and there was no difficulty on the part of the individuals, to endure their presence; and others where their glory was so conspicuous that they could not endure. The last description or appearance is the one to which I refer, when I say that it is no easy task to describe their glory.
But it may be well to relate the particulars as far as given—The stature of this personage was a little above the common size of men in this age; his garment was perfectly white, and had the appearance of being without seam.
Though fear was banished form his heart, yet his surprise was no less when he heard him declare himself to be a messenger sent by commandment of the Lord, to deliver a special message, and to witness to him that his sins were forgiven, and that his prayers were heard; and that the scriptures might be fulfilled, which say —"God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things w[h]ich are despised, has God chosen; yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things which are, that no flesh should glory in his presence. Therefore, says the Lord, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; the wisdom, of their wise shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid; for according to his covenant which he made with his ancient saints, his people, the house of Israel, must come to a knowledge of the gospel, and own that Messiah whom their fathers rejected, and with them the fulness [fullness] of the Gentiles be gathered in, to rejoice in one fold under one Shepherd."
"This cannot be brought about until first certain preparatory things are accomplished, for so has the Lord purposed in his own mind. He has therefore chosen you as an instrument in his hand to bring to light that which shall; perform his act, his strange act, and bring to pass a marvelous work and a wonder. Wherever the sound shall go it shall cause the ears of men to tingle, and wherever it shall be proclaimed, the pure in heart shall rejoice,
while those who draw near to God with their mouths, and honor him with their lips, while their hearts are far from him, will seek its overthrow, and the destruction of those by whose hands it is carried. Therefore, marvel not if your name is made a derision, and had as a by-word among such, if you are the instrument in bringing it, by the gift of God, to the knowledge of the people."
He then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigines of this country, and said they were literal descendants of Abraham. He represented them as once being an enlightened and intelligent people, possessing a cerrect [correct] knowledge of the gospel, and the plan of restoration and redemption. He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, and that it was our brother's privilege, if obedient to the commandments of the Lord, to obtain, and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.
"Yet," said he, "the scripture must be fulfilled before it is translated, which says that the words of a book, which were sealed, were presented to the learned; for thus has God determined to leave men without excuse, and show to the meek that his arm is not shortened that it cannot save."
A part of the book was sealed, and was not to be opened yet. The sealed part, said he, contains the same revelation which was given to John upon the isle of Patmos, and when the people of the Lord are prepared, and found worthy, then it will be unfolded unto them.
On the subject of bringing to light the unsealed part of this record, it may be proper to say, that our brother was expressly informed, that it must be done with an eye single to the glory of God; if this consideration did not wholly characterize all his proceedings in relation to it, the adversary of truth would overcome him, or at least prevent his making that proficiency in this glorious work which he otherwise would.
While describing the place where the record was deposited, he gave a minute relation of it, and the vision of his mind being opened at the same time, he was permitted to view it critically; and previously being acquainted with the place, he was able to follow the direction of the vision, afterward, according to the voice of the angel, and obtain the book.
I close for the present by subscribing myself as ever, your brother in Christ.
Kirtland, Ohio, Feb. 27, 1835.
Having been requested by the Trusties of the "KIRTLAND SCHOOL," to give a small sketch of the number of students who have attended this institution, and of their progress in the different sciences, I cheerfully comply with the request, having been an instructor therein from its commencement, in Dec.—last.
The school has been conducted under the immediate care and inspection of
JOSEPH SMITH, jr. }
F. G. WILLIAMS, } Trustees
SIDNEY RIGDON, }
& O. COWDERY. }
When the school first commenced, we received into it both large and small, but in about three weeks the classes became so large, and the house so crowded, that it was thought advisable to dismiss all the small students, and continue those only who wished to study the sciences of penmanship, arithmetic, English grammar and geography. Before we dismissed the small scholars, there were in all about 130 who attended. Since that time there have been, upon an average, about 160, the most of whom have received lectures upon English grammar; and for the last four weeks about 70 have been studying geography one half the day, and grammar and writing the other part.
T Burdick's arithmetic, S. Kirkham's grammar and J. Olney's geography have been used, with N. Webster's dictionary, as standard.
Since the year 1827 I have taught school in five different States, and I have visited many schools in which I was not engaged, as teacher; but in none, I can say with certainty, have I seen students make more rapid progress, than in this. I expect myself to leave the institution, but yet, I have a great desire to see it flourish. I therefore most cheerfully recommend it to all those whose circumstances and situation will allow them to attend, as being a place where strict attention is paid to good morals as well as to the sciences.
W. E. McLELLIN.
Notice.—The spring term of the "Kirtland School" will commence on the 20th of April next. Young gentlemen and ladies from a distance can obtain board, in respectable families for $1,00 to $1,25 per week.
The Trustees of this institution design introducing the higher branches of English literature, at as early a period as possible. [Editor.]
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