FairMormon is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS doctrine, belief and practice.
Messenger and Advocate/1/8
|←Number 7|| Messenger and Advocate
1, Number 8
|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. 8.]||KIRTLAND, OHIO, MAY, 1835.||[Whole No. 8.|
LETTER NO. 2.
Freedom, March 17th, 1835.
DEAR SIR—It may be thought that I owe you an apology for taxing your time and patience to the extent that I have in mine of the 10th instant, and now again before you have hardly had time to repose from that task, to lay upon you another burden as onerous as the first. But I trust you will see the propriety of having a view of the whole subject at once.—I have not the vanity to think I have done it ample justice as the importance of it demands. But a stronger mind, from the few hints that have been given, may elicit more facts, and by a more masterly arrangement produce conviction in some minds where the productions of my pen cannot. The cause of truth, and that alone would I advocate. If my premises are good, I think my inferences and deductions are logical, and if I have contributed in but a small degree to subserve or advance that cause, my most sanguine hopes will be realized. I shall ever feel to console myself with this pleasing reflection that I shall never be held accountable for the misimprovement of five talents when only one or two were bestowed.
At the close of mine of the 10th inst., a question was asked relative to the present or prevailing religious sects of the day converting the world and thereby bringing about the Millen[n]ium or peaceable reign of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We will examine the subject a little further,—and First, Our God is a God of order and not of confusion as in all the churches of the Saints (see Cor. 14-33) Do we not see them as eager in the pursuit of worldly gain, using every art and every stratagem to circumvent their fellow mortals, and hoard up this world's goods as the non-professor? Most surely.—First John 2d, 15, reads thus: "Love not the world nor the things that are in the world. If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him." Where then, we ask, is their supreme love for their Master? Where is their self denial? Where is their regard for what the Saviour said, when he commanded his followers to "seek first the kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Mat. 6th, 33. Where are the spiritual gifts that God placed in his church for perfecting the saints and edifying the body? Where do we see the peaceable fruits of that heaven-born principle, Charity; that meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price? (Rev. 3:1) Does it not look like having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof? (1st Peter 3-4) Does it not look like having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof? (2 Tim. 3-5.) Does it not nearly resemble what the Apostle Paul describes in his epistle to Titus 1st, 16, says? "They profess that they know God, but in works deny him, being abominable, disobedient, and to every good work reprobate." This is the character of those who shall profess the Religion of Heaven in the last days, and the prophetic declaration of the great Apostle of the Gentiles in his second letter to Timothy and third chapter—fully supports us in this assertion. If it be said to us that we have looked only on the dark side of the picture, that we are too censori[o]us, that there are many honorable exceptions; we readily grant there are, and would to Heaven there were more.—We would the more earnestly cry, come out of her my people and be not partakers of her sins that ye receive not of her plagues. Both scripture and experience go to prove the fact, that evil communications corrupt good manners. We have before seen, that God commands the righteous to separate themselves from the wicked, and purify themselves before him. It will doubtless be said in reply, that great efforts and great sacrifices are made by churches at the present day to spread the gospel, to convert the heathen, to disseminate the truth. Grant it, and we would say to them as did the Saviour, "These things ought ye to do, and not omit or leave the more important things undone." If we have given a true character of them as a whole, and we trust we have, "they are like whited sepulchres, fair and beautiful without, but within are full of all manner of uncleanness." And if ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte is it not likely he will be just such an one as yourselves? And we now seriously ask, is the kingdom of Heaven made up of such characters as the great mass of the professing christian world at the present day? To answer this question correctly it is only necessary to learn what the kingdom of God is, for which see Romans (14.17.) "The Kingdom of God is not meats and drinks, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." This definition will exclude those who obey not the commands of God. It will exclude those who are haughty, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. It will exclude those who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. It will exclude all those who say they love God, but in works deny him. It will exclude those who preach for gain and divine for money. It will exclude those who preach for doctrine the commandments of men for the Gospel of the Son of God. It will exclude those who rejoice in iniquity, are puffed up, easily provoked, possessing and manifesting to the world by their conduct, a spirit of mulise, revenge, and evil speaking which emanates only from the regions of darkness. These we believe must be excluded or the kingdom of Heaven is no desirable place. Such we believe will be excluded by the great head of the church, although they may have eaten and drunken in his name, and in his name and for his name and professedly for his cause (if you please) done many wonderful works. Yet we believe if the word of God be true, he will say to them in the great day, "Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I know you not."—A few reflections shall close this epistle.
1st. We trust we have proven to the satisfaction of every intelligent being, that there is a great first cause, prime mover, self-existent, independent and all-wise being whom we call God.
2d. That the Universe with all its attendant furniture is the workmanship of his hand.
3d. That man is the more noble and intelligent part of this lower creation, to whom the other grades in the scale of being are subject, yet, that man, is dependent on the great first cause and is constantly upheld by him, therefore justly amenable to him.
4th. We trust it may justly be inferred from the foregoing premises, that man's accountability rests on his knowledge of the will of him to whom he is accountable, and that he cannot be considered criminally guilty for the non-fulfilment of a law or command until he has a knowledge of such law or command and the physical ability to obey.
5th. We trust we have proven to the satisfaction of every unprejudiced mind, that what we call the scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, are the revealed will of God to man.
6th. We trust also, that we have satisfactorily proven that they were written by men divinely inspired, consequently must be true, and that the threatenings denounced against the wicked and the promises addressed to the righteous, will all be fulfilled.
7th. We argue the literal fulfilment, of scripture predictions, from the foregoing premises laid down, which rest on two predicates. And 1st. All scripture predictions which have been fulfilled and recorded for our benefit, have been so literally fulfilled, that any one understanding the language in which they are written need not be mistaken. 2d. Because it would savor of tyranny, oppression and cruelty, to inflict punishment, without clearly revealing the cause, for which the punishment was to be inflicted, and would be at war with love and benevolence, the attributes of God.
8th. We infer also that God is immutable in his purposes and unchangeable in his nature.
9th. We believe it justly deducible for the foregoing premises; that God warned the Antedeluvians, the Sodomites, and others, previously to their overthrow, and that their destruction came upon them in consequence of their great wickedness and disobedience.
10th. We have also inferred, from plain scripture testimony, that God reveals his secrets respecting his dealings with the children of men, to his servants the Prophets, and we deem it equally logical and scriptural, that the prophets have time to warn the people, and the people time to repent before judgements are sent or punishments inflicted.
11th. We infer from the word of God and the foregoing premises, that great and heavy judgements or sore calamities, presuppose great wickedness and disobedience to God.
12th. We have received it as an admitted fact, that the present, are what are denominated in the scriptures of truth, the last days, consequently near the close of the present dispensation, and that the Millen[n]ium is soon to be ushered in.
13th. We have seen from the word of God that
great and sore judgements are coming upon this generation.
14th. We have seen that it illy comports with the character of God to punish the righteous with the wicked; therefore, that the present religious orders of the day do not constitute the true church, consequently, their endeavors to convert the world to their faith, and thereby bring about or usher in the Millen[n]ium, is not what God requires of them, and will be unavailing.
15th. We, therefore, infer from the confusion, disorder and iniquity that reigns among them, they are the legitimate descendants of Mystical Babylon, that personage described in the scriptures as setting upon many waters.
16th. We therefore come to the irresistible conclusion, that it is our indispensable duty to come out of her and be separate, be not partaker of her sins that we receive not of her plagues.
17th. We argue from the immutability of God, his goodness and benevolence, from analogy, and from revelation of his will to his servants, that it is our duty in obedience to the command of God to literally separate ourselves from this wicked and untoward generation.
18. We also argue from the same premises, that the place of safety, the city of refuge is pointed out and that we shall be justly culpable if we do not obey the commands of God, and that if we do refuse we must inevitably perish with the ungodly.
W. A. COWDERY.
TO OLIVER COWDERY, ESQ.
Letter No. 7.
KIRTLAND, MAY 19, 1835.
Dear Brother in the Lord:—Your letter in the 5th number of the Messenger and Advocate, addressed to me, would have been answered before now, had not my time been occupied in journeying from the State of Missouri to Ohio. I now proceed to answer it.—The letter before me relates to one of the most sublime scenes that has transpired from the days of the Savior, till its own august period, and, I am happy to perceive, is a full answer to the question asked in my 4th letter. I hope the saints will duly appreciate its merits, and rejoice that God was so mindful of, and merciful to the children of men, as to send an angel, in these last days, to light the candle of truth again upon earth, that the meek among men might walk in the light of it and be saved in the everlasting kingdom of our Lord by faith and works, as in other gospel days.
In this dark day of "gospel purity," though thousands may continue to suppose, that God is not the same that he was in days of old—of the prophets—of the apostles, and others, still the sacred scriptures teach us that he is the same unchangeable, holy and alwise Jehovah, yesterday, to-day, and forever, and I rejoice that too much cannot be written in praise of, nor too much said in thanksgiving to him for his merciful kindness towards us. Though angel's visits are few and short, the memory of them is great and everlasting. This holy visit of the angel to open the way for the fulness of the gospel, and gather Israel from all the countries whither they had been scattered for transgression, has been followed by such miraculous movements for the salvation of mankind, and such strange events as a token of coming perils, that I am unable to give even a sketch, of the mighty works of God, and his great doings in these latter times.
The book of Mormon, the rise of the church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, whose history you are now touching in your communications to me, the book of commandments, &c. are such prominent matters of fact, that all the unwearied pains taken by sects, sectarians, hypocrites, and scoffers, to stop the spread of these "glad tidings" dwindle into nothings compared to the joy of gathering souls for God, and preparing for the glory that will follow when the earth is purified.
I may be thought too ardent on this point, but gratify me a little;—These books and the Bible contain the words and promises of eternal life, the greatest gift of God, and while I live, the Lord assisting, I mean to labor, (and all honest men will go and do likewise,) to obtain souls for the first kingdom; yea, even the last kingdom, which re-commenced after the book of Mormon came forth; and must continue, till, as the stone cut out of the mountains, as the prophetic Daniel foretold, it shall have filled the whole world; till, as the waters cover the sea, it shall have covered the face of the earth; till, by the power of God, it shall have become terrible as an army with banners; and, till, by the glory of God, it shall have shone, clear as the moon and fair as the sun.
What a glorious prospect appeared after the angel delivered his message! The heavens had been opened; the gospel again committed to men, and a period as great as when the Lord said unto Abram, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee. And I will make 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 the families of the earth be blessed," welcomed the beginning of better days in the midst of this crooked and money
seeking generation. For, as the angel informed our brother Joseph, that the Lord was about to proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, that Israel might be gathered and saved, so also was that glorious day shown when the Lord should come the second time to dwell on earth; yea, even come in the clouds of heaven, with all his holy angels with him, to execute judgment upon all, that the earth may rest; that righteousness may abound; that all flesh that is justified, may glorify God and enjoy his presence a thousand years.
Though, at the time the heavenly messenger came down to open the understanding of a few, and prepare the way for the true church to arise, and come forth as it were from the wilderness; yea, though at this time, the fathers had fallen asleep, and all things, seemingly but the gospel, remained as they were in other ages, and men that pretended to worship, did it as a mere matter of form, without authority or power, yet the "strange news" was believed by some, and hailed as the harbinger to prepare to gather the Lord's elect; and in fact it was the day-break of a day of glory.
I was not a professor at the time, nor a believer in sectarian religion, but a believer in God, and the Son of God, as two distinct characters, and a believer in sacred scripture. I had long been searching for the "old paths," that I might find the right way and walk in it, and after a suitable time to investigate the work, and prove its truth by corresponding evidence from the old bible, and by the internal witness of the spirit, according to the rules of holiness, I embraced it for the truth's sake, and all honest men who seek a better world, will "go and do likewise."
As soon as the "glad tidings" that an angel had visited the earth to prepare the way for greater light, &c. was whispered abroad, every impediment that Satan could lay in the way, and every foolish thing that a giddy headed generation cauld [could] invent, were thrown out to hinder the spread of the truth, and discourage the saints; not entirely by the thoughtless and wicked, but by such as draw near to God with their mouths, and honor him with their lips. There seemed to be a continual dripping of slang, if I may use a figure, besides lawsuits, so that the saints have had to walk under scalding drops, and upon burning coals.
Here let us reflect, that when God graciously condescends to send an angel from heaven to earth, it augurs that a day of retribution is nigh; that a day of vengeance is coming, for so it had been in many ages of the world; at least, it has happened so times enough, for men to prepare to meet their God, when angels visit this world: Wherefore I can say as a humble follower of the meek and adorable Jesus, that before the fulness of the Gentiles is gathered in, calamities and tribulation may be expected: For when men will not reform by entreaty, they must be chastised with judgments. If the voice of the servants of Jesus Christ; if the voice of calamities; if the voice of angels; if the voice of reason and the voice of mercy will not call the children of men to repentance, I greatly fear, that the voice of God will bring them to judgment, when reformation is beyond their power, and, sorrowful to state, they will have to pay the uttermost farthing to a hard master, whose burden is heavy, and whose yoke is galling; and which must learn them by experience, that the wages of sin is death.
Tender my love to the faithful, beseeching them to continue Godly minded and work righteousness till death, or till the Lord comes.
W. W. PHELPS.
TO OLIVER COWDERY, ESQ.
For the Messenger and Advocate.
Our meeting, or conference, came to a close this day and we feel disposed to give you a brief account of our proceedings that you may lay them before your readers.
On Saturday last we met the Elders of this branch of the church, and also those of the little branch at Laona, who were called upon by Elder Marsh, our presiding Elder, to represent to us the standing of these branches. The number of members in this branch was 75 in regular standing, in the branch at Laona, were 20. These two branches were rather low in spirits in consequence of some difficulties that were existing among them; which, however, we succeeded in settling. One travelling Elder had been guilty of teaching erroneous doctrine and perverting the
word of God. Such, for instance, as the following. Christ said, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from heaven, &c. He stated that the Jewish church was the sun, and when it was scattered the sun was darkened. The moon was the Gentile church, which would be cut off and then it should turn to blood, &c. &c. besides, something about the Apocalyptic beast with seven heads and ten horns. He was shown his error and reproved sharply. He saw it and confessed his fault and made an humble acknowledgement and covenanted to be more careful, and we think he will be. We gave the church and Elders much instruction relative to the great points of our eternal interest, and we endeavored to do our work effectually and leave not a commandment unenforced.
Our public meeting, on Sunday, was attended by nearly five hundred people, who gave good attention, while Elder Marsh gave them a very interesting discourse upon the covenants, followed by Elder Patten upon the corruptions of the Gentile church. At the close of the meeting this day, five came forward for baptism, which was administered by Elder W. E. McLellin. Confirmation attended in the evening.—Monday morning, the church came together and after some consultation it was motioned, seconded and carried by a unanimous vote, that the limits of the Westfield Conference extend as far east as Lodi, south and west to Pennsylvania Line, and north to Lake Erie, embracing the branches at Westfield, Silver Creek, Perrysburgh, or Villanovia and Laona, to be called the "WESTFIELD CONFERENCE."
The conference continued until about 2 o'clock P. M. and then adjourned until 3 o'clock, when public preaching commenced by Elder B. Young, and followed by the farewell exhortation of the twelve: after which seven came forward for baptism, which was administered by Elder O. Hyde, and confirmation in the evening, when the Lord blessed us with his holy spirit, and many that were infirm received the laying on of hands, and prayer. Meeting continued until nearly 12 o'clock. This morning nine of the brethren left for the east, to attend some previous appointments between this and Freedom: We tarried to arrange the minutes of our conference and record them, &c. While the nine were taking their leave one man came to us and said he could not rest nor be satisfied, until he had obeyed the everlasting Gospel. The church was called together soon and we prayed unto the Lord our Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ and the Holy Spirit was shed forth upon us, and all were melted into humility and tears before the Lord. Elder O. Hyde administered baptism unto him and confirmed him by the water's edge.—Praise the Lord for his goodness: Praise him for his wonderful works among the children of men.
One little circumstance we will briefly notice: We were told that Messrs. How, Hulbert & Co's. Mormonism Unveiled sold for eighteen and three quarter cents, while the Book of Mormon sold for two dollars. It is true that two dollars is above the selling price of the Book of Mormon, but the anxiety of the gentleman to purchase it, and the owner having but one, and not wishing to part with it, is an explanation of this matter. Tell every body to buy and read "Mormonism Unveiled" if they wish, for we are convinced of Paul's statement, where he says, "Ye can do nothing against the truth but for the truth."
ORSON HYDE, }
W. E. McLELLIN, } Clerks of Con.
Westfield, May 12, 1835.
MILLENIUM NO. XIV.
Continued from Page 87.
Every thing said in the scriptures about the thousand years of Christ's reign on the earth, called by the scriptures "that day:" as one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, and that day in particular is noticed above all others, as the day in which the Lord will do the greatest things for his people, that ever were done for them since the world began,—most clearly sets forth that it is to be a time of miracles, and a day of power, such as has not been since man was on the earth; nor could it be possible for the Millenium to exist without; in truth it is the "restitution of all things" which constitutes the glory of the latter day of which all the holy prophets have spoken since the world began; take "the restitution of all things" from the latter day glory and what is left—nothing—there
would be nothing of any consequence to take place, no material change; nature would continue the same; the seasons the same; animals and vegetables the same; nothing to talk about nor to sing about. The curse would still rest on the earth and upon all things which are on it: the trees would never clap their hands; nor would the earth bring forth in her strength, nor the mountains drop down new wine, nor would the ploughman overtake the reaper, nor the treader of grapes him that soweth seed. Jerusalem would never be built, so as never to be thrown down; nor would the tabernacle of David ever be built. In a word, where would the Millenium be? No where but in the imagination of man. Those, then, who say that the days of miracles are past, literally say that there is to be no millenium, and that Christ is not to reign a thousand years on earth; for if ever Christ reigns a thousand years on earth, there will be a time of miracles, or if ever there is a "restitution of all things" there will be a time of miracles, for what is a restitution but restoring or making good—that is getting that which was lost, and possessing that which had been previously enjoyed. And when the apostle Peter says that the heavens must receive the Savior until the times of the restitution of all things, he meant we presume, what he said; that when all things (not some things) which the Lord had at any time bestowed on the world by way of blessing should be restored to the earth, the Savior also should return or be restored with the all things: See Acts of the Apostles, chap. 3: ver. 19, 20, 21.
Let me ask, what will the Lord do when he restores all things? The answer is, that he will restore to the world every blessing which had ever been enjoyed among men from the first to the last; not even the Savior himself excepted. "And he shall send Jesus Christ who was before preached unto you:" Acts 3: 20. And nothing short of this can be a restitution of all things; and it is this of which all the holy prophets have spoken since the world began;—it has been the great burden of their teaching that there was to be a time of "the restitution of all things." Surely the vision of these prophets must have been peculiarly delightful, to gaze upon the various scenes which took place before their day and which was passing before their eyes, and should take place until the times of the restitution of all things. Those prophets who lived before the days of the Savior's humiliation, beheld him first with his Father before he was veiled in the flesh, and then in the flesh; after that crucified; then beheld him rise from the dead and ascend up into heaven and sit down on the right hand of power. And after that look through a lapse of nearly two thousand years, and then behold him descend to the earth again in all the glory of the heavens, and all the saints with him, and reign with him a thousand years on the earth. Surely a scene like this must have been astonishing beyond description.
But not only to gaze upon this scene, but also to behold the dealings of God among men in connection with the series of events relating to the Savior.—Behold all the spiritual gifts bestowed in the world at one time and another, with all the powers and blessings ever enjoyed at any period of the world among men, while those possessing them were persecuted, reviled, hated, scourged, buffeted, smitten, put to death, chased from place to place, to caves and dens of the earth; being afflicted and tormented, without any clothing but sheep skins and goat skins, until they were wasted and destroyed, and the whole church disappeared; and all the spiritual gifts ceased, and revelations were obtained no longer among men. And they looked until darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people; and until the vision of all had become as the words of a book which was sealed; and the people groped their way in darkness having no light; and party arose after party; sect after sect multiplied until the earth become a scene of confusion; sentiment warring with sentiment, and opinion lashing against opinion; and the true light of heaven was lost. But in the midst of this confusion the prophets beheld the God of heaven setting his hand the second time to recover his people, and to restore to the world what they had lost. Beginning as a grain of mustard planted in the earth; and from this small beginning the work began to roll; the spiritual gifts began to return one after one, until the blind began to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and all manner of disea-
ses and sicknesses pass away from among the people of God. And the power become so great that the waters were again smitten and the foundations of rivers and seas were discovered; and people went over dry shod, as they did in the day when the children of Israel came out of the land of Egypt. The very heavens themselves were shaken, and all things were rebuked by their Creator. The spirit of God began to be poured out as in days of old, until it fell upon all flesh. The lion become peaceable; the leopard and the bear ceased to devour the asp; and the cockatrices lost their venom; & all the spiritual gifts that were ever enjoyed on earth among men at any period of the world returned and was possessed by men again: even all that were numbered among the living. And revelation followed revelation; vision came after vision; men and women became prophets and prophetesses, until the knowledge of God covered the earth as the waters covered the sea. The earth put on a new aspect; the curse was taken away, and it yielded in its strength, and all creation smiled. The trees clapped their hands, while animal and vegetable life united together to praise their Maker, with the mountains, the floods, and the flames. The Savior also come down from heaven and all the saints with him, who received their bodies glorified like his glorious body. The people of God they beheld gathered from all nations, tongues, languages and kindreds under heaven, unto the mountain of the Lord to rejoice before him. And when they beheld all this glory returning to the earth they sang of the latter day glory, and of that which was to come.—And from these visions came our ideas of a Millenium.
Gospel No. VII.
[CONTINUED FROM PAGE 89.]
There is nothing which gives greater peace and satisfaction to the mind, than clear views on the gospel; to understand it correctly is to understand the will of God to men, and to put a person in possession of truths which will guard him against the various impositions which have been imposed on the world, at one period of it and another; and to give him power to become extensively acquainted with God, as well as the heavenly worlds. But it is necessary in order to a clear understanding of the gospel, that we should have a correct understanding of its origin, and of its progress among men; for without this knowledge, we are liable to be led into darkness, and all the glory of the gospel be hid from our eyes.
Let me here observe, that whatever the gospel was, it now is, and ever will be, that it has not nor will it change; its laws are the same; its ordinances are the same; its institutions are the same; its commands are the same, and its regulations are the same: whatever it required of one man in order to obtain eternal life, it required of all men, and that in every age of the world, and will require the same until all shall be gathered that will be gathered, and those who have obeyed its requisitio[n]s enter into the rest, which God has prepared for them. And it is not only the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, and changes not: but it is the only scheme of things by which any portion of the human family has been, or will be saved; for it is only by virtue of the gospel that salvation was ever proclaimed among men, from first to last; for by it life and immortality came to light; so says Paul, 2d, Timothy 1:15, and as the knowledge of life and immortality is essential to salvation, it is easily seen, that there could be no salvation without the gospel, and not only without the gospel, but without the knowledge of it also; for how could a man have faith in that of which he never heard.
Seeing then, that life and immortality came to light by the gospel, and without the knowledge of life and immortality no person could be saved; there can no difficulty exist on the minds of any of the human family, unless they create one where none really exists as to the time the gospel was promulgated to man; it must have been promulgated as early as life and immortality was known, and they were known ever since the time that salvation was proclaimed among the family of man; for salvation is a matter of faith, and faith cannot exist in relation to it without hearing the word of the Lord, for it is by hearing the word of the Lord, that faith in relation to salvation comes. As far back then as we date salvation, so far back we date the proclamation of the gospel to man; and
it must be so unless it can be proven that God had more ways than one of saving mankind, and to do this Paul must be refuted, for he says that the plan which he proclaimed was before the foundation of the world, and that no other foundation could any man lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus, and Peter says that there is no other name given under heaven among men, by which they can be saved but in the name of Christ Jesus.
May we not reason a little upon this subject. Let us ask then, what was the most important thing which God could communicate to his creature man? The answer is, the thing which would save him; if God ever at any time condescended to speak to man, there can no good reason be shewn why he did not communicate to him the things which were of the greatest consequence to him, and as God always acts according to reason and never against it we may conclude that he did declare unto man the gospel or the way by which he was to be saved; but what would be very strange would be that there should be a great number of persons saved in the earlier ages of the world, and yet not know how they were saved, be saved in ignorance! It would be equally as strange that prophets, such as Enoch for instance, the seventh from Adam, could prophecy of the second coming of Christ and of his judging the world, and yet not know of his first coming and of his dying for the world. And what would be stranger still would be, that men could be saved by faith, and yet never hear, nor know, of the way of salvation thro' the blood of the Lamb. This would be believing without hearing, and being saved without understanding, and having faith without hearing the word of God, or in other words it would be believing on him of whom they had not heard, or else it would be hearing without a preacher, and if it were any of these things, it would put the shame on all the sacred writers, and expose them to just ridicule. But while it is written in the pages of the divine oracles, that salvation is of faith, and men cannot have faith in a being of whom they have not heard, nor hear without one to tell them, or a preacher, and that life and immortality came to light by the gospel, and that Abel was a prophet, and that Enoch the seventh from Adam was translated, and that God saves men by the gospel and nothing else, for whatever will save men is gospel; so long it will be believed by every thinking man that, the gospel was made known to the ancients as well as to us. But what seems to put the matter at rest as relates to the antiquity of the gospel proclamation is, that the apostle Paul says that the gospel which he proclaimed, or what was to the same effect, that the scheme of things which he taught, was devised before the foundation of the world, and that it was God's fixed purpose to save men in that way or by that plan and none other; so that if there was salvation at all among the ancients, it was because they had the gospel among them.
There are are some other considerations which force the conclusion on the mind, that the ancients had the gospel among them, and that is, that according to the sacred record the fruits of it abounded among them as far back as to the days of Abel. If we inquire what are the things which attend the gospel? we will find that prophecying was one thing, and we are told that Abel was a prophet, for the Savior said to the Jews, that the blood of all the prophets should be required at their hands, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias. Matthew 23:34, 35 verses, Enoch was also a prophet; for he foretold of the second advent as recorded by Jude. Who does not know, that when the apostles proclaimed the gospel, they promised to those who received it that they should prophesy, seeing then that prophesying was a fruit of the gospel who can help seeing that it was by virtue of it that men prophecied, we cannot see where there can be a risk in believing that wherever there are or were prophets there the gospel is, or was, and one strong reason which confirms this belief is that whenever the gospel is lost prophecying is lost also; this generation is all the proof we need on this subject; for if we ask why has prophecying ceased in this generation? the answer is, because they have lost the gospel. And not having the gospel, they cannot have the fruits of it; but we see the ancients had the fruits of it, and how could they have the fruits of it and yet not have the gospel? is a question we
will leave for those more learned than ourselves to answer.
Messenger and Advocate
KIRTLAND, OHIO, MAY, 1835.
To the Patrons of the Latter Day Saints'
Messenger & Advocate.
It is proper for me to inform you, that in consequence of other business and other duties, in which my services are requisite, my editorial labors on this paper will close with the present number; and as this is the case, I hope to be indulged in a few remarks, as I take leave of this responsibility. And I will take the occasion to add, here, that for a liberal patronage, so gratuitously bestowed upon unmerited talents, you have my heart felt gratitude, and still hope, that though the Advocate is to be transferred into other hands, that it may continue to receive its present support, and as rapid an increase to its subscription list as has been its good fortune to receive, since its commencement.
The Evening and the Morning Star was commenced at Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, June, 1832, by W. W. PHELPS, who edited fourteen numbers of that paper. It is known that in July, 1833, that office was demolished by a mob, and that the Star was resuscitated in this place in December of the same year. After closing the two first volumes it was deemed advisable to discontinue it and issue the present paper. For eight numbers I have to acknowledge a rapid increase of subscriptions, which has shown, in some degree, the estimation others made of its worth. It will be conducted hereafter by Elder JOHN WHITMER, late from the State of Missouri. It is proper for me to say, that wherever Elder Whitmer is personally known, a commendation from me would be uncalled for and superfluous; and I hardly need to add, that those to whom he is unknown will find him to be a man of piety, uprightness and virtue, such as adorns the walk of the professor of the religion of the Lord Jesus, and one bearing testimony to the truth of the great work of God.
It is with no ordinary feeling that I take leave of the editorial department of this paper. There is such a complicated mass of reflection crowding itself upon the mind that no common phraseology can express. To realize that one year and eight months' labor is now before the public; that whether truth or untruth has been disseminated in the same, it must remain, calls for the serious consideration of a candid heart, full with the expectation and assurance, that before the Judge of all, and an assembled universe I must answer for the same. Some may say that these reflections ought to have been pondered previously—before stepping forward to give my views to the public—to which I conscientiously reply, that they were; and were I now sensible that I had erred from the strict principles of righteousness, in the main, it should be my first object, and business, to retract.
Men, at times, depend upon the say of others, and are influenced by their persuasions to embrace different systems; and though weak may have been my arguments and feeble my exertions to persuade others to believe as myself, some may have been disposed to listen; and I will now repeat the reflections which from the beginning have occupied my heart, and which I have endeavored to have before my mind continually.—How can I meet a fellow-being before the throne of that God who has framed the heavens and the earth, and there, if not till then, learn, that through my influence or persuasion he had been led into error and was doomed to suffer the wrath of the same?
It is no trifling matter to sport with the souls of men!—they must exist eternally, and where is the being who can save them from suffering? On certain principles, and certain ones only can they escape, whatever others may suppose, or conjecture, to the contrary notwithstanding. Agreeably to those principles, I may say in conscience, I have endeavored to have my work correspond, and if there is a lack it is a want of that perfect meekness which adorned the walk of the Savior and is left as a pattern for those who profess his gospel; and wherein I may have erred in this respect, I look for forgiveness through the merits of him who knows the integrity of my heart.
I have given extracts of letters, from time to time, showing the increase and spread of this gospel, and it is unnecessary to re-insert them, or say that the work is still progressing. The numerous obstacles which have opposed the truth have hitherto been unable to overthrow it; the mighty machinery, so artfully managed, has endeavored in vain to prevent men from obeying the gospel, and the contaminating influence of vice and folly have failed, in their attempts, to darken the minds of the honest, and turn them aside from the path of salvation; and on closing my editorial labors, it is with an increased joy as the satisfaction is redoubled, that that which was as a "grain of mustard seed" a few years since, is now beginning to enlarge its branches that the "fowls of heaven are lodging in its boughs;" and with a proportionable increase the mild rays of peace and love will soon enlighten the dark corners of the globe, and Israel's sons will be seen wending their way to their promised home. With these prospects before me, I take this, and perhaps my last leave of my friends, as an editor of any paper whatever. In this, however, I give no pledge, as I know not what circumstances time may bring forth.
As my principles are fully known, it is unnecessary to repeat them here: I shall only add a few reflections and then close.
There is an eternity, and you, with myself, reader, are fast approaching it. There is no stay with time—it flies—it hastens—it will soon close. The sound of that trump which will awake the sleeping millions, will ere long be heard, and all nations, kindreds and tongues be brought to stand before the judgment seat of Christ—The wise and the foolish, the righteous and the wicked—no excuse can be offered to prolong the summons, or a show of righteousness, clothed with deception, escape the scrutinizing eye of "him with whom we have to do." These are realities without the least shadow of fiction.
To those who have contributed to the columns of the Advocate, I tender my thanks, and hope, that, at least, a consciousness that they have done their Master's will, and set truth before the world, will continue to cheer their hearts as they advance down the stream of time to the day of the reward of the just.
To the elders of this church who have distinguished themselves in circulating this paper, by obtaining subscribers, I also owe a thankful acknowledgement, and the reflection of their kindness shall ever occupy a conspicuous portion of my gratitude. Their labors, I know, are many and fatiguing, but while they are, in many instances considered the "off-scorings" of the earth, they may know that their reward is sure, and that he whom they have served will yet give them a place in his kingdom where the glory and the power is eternal.
And that holiness may prevail until
the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea, and that we may have an inheritance among the sanctified in that day, is the prayer of your unworthy servant and friend.
—> Those who are in arrears for the Messenger and Advocate, can forward the amount, as usual, to the late editor, or to F. G. Williams & Co. It is necessary that our friends should be informed, that the printing business requires cash, paper, ink, and labor, and if the arrearages could be forwarded, they would be gratefully received.
DIED—In Clay county, Missouri, on the 21st of October, 1834, WM. WHITING, aged 27 years.
————In Richland, Oswego co. N. Y. the 5th of January last, EPHRAIM FISK, aged 47 years.
————In Hamden, Ohio, on the 28th ult. DEXTER, an infant son of D. S. Wells, aged 15 months.
The following are two short lectures which were delivered before a THEOLOGICAL class, in this place last winter. These lectures are being compiled and arranged with other documents of instruction and regulation for the church, title "Doctrine and Covenants of the church of the Latter Day Saints," &c. It may be well, for the information of the churches abroad, to say, that this book will contain the important revelations on doctrine and church government now extant, and will, we trust, give them a perfect understanding of the doctrine believed by this society. Such a work has long been called for, and if we are prospered a few weeks, shall have this volume ready for distribution. A full detail of its contents will be given hereafter.
In giving the following lectures we have thought best to insert the catechism, that the reader may fully understand the manner in which this science was taught. It was found, that by annexing a catechism to the lectures as they were presented, the class made greater progress than otherwise; and in consequence of the additional scripture proofs, it was preserved in compiling.
1 In our former lectures we treated of the being, character, perfections and attributes of God. What we mean by perfections, is, the perfections which belong to all the attributes of his nature. We shall, in this lecture speak of the Godhead: we mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2 There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space—They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;—he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh—and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer, or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be. But notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin: Showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin. And also, that by him a righteous judgment might come upon all flesh, & that all who walk not in the law of God, may justly be condemned by the law, and have no
excuse for their sins. And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one: The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all—the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father—possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father—a Mediator for man—being filled with the fulness of the mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father: which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments: and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.
3 From the foregoing account of the Godhead, which is given in his revelations, the Saints have a sure foundation laid for the exercise of faith unto life and salvation, through the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ, by whose blood they have a forgiveness of sins, and also, a sure reward laid up for them in heaven, even that of partaking of the fulness of the Father and the Son, through the Spirit. As the Son partakes of the fulness of the Father through the Spirit, so the saints are, by the same Spirit, to be partakers of the same fulness, to enjoy the same glory; for as the Father and the Son are one, so in like manner the saints are to be one in them, through the love of the Father, the mediation of Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, they are to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
Question. Of what do the foregoing lectures treat?
Answer. Of the being, perfections and attributes of the Deity.
Q. What are we to understand by the perfections of the Deity?
A. The perfections which belong to his attributes.
Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead?
A. Two: the Father and the Son.
Q. How do you prove that there are two personages in the Godhead?
A. By the Scriptures. Gen. 1:26. And the Lord God said unto the Only Begotten, who was with him from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:—and it was done. Gen. 3:22. And the Lord God said unto the Only Begotten, Behold, the man is become as one of us: to know good and evil. John, 17:5. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Q. What is the Father?
A. He is a personage of glory and of power.
Q. How do you prove that the Father is a personage of glory and of power?
A. Isaiah 60:19. The Sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. 1 Chron. 29:11. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory. Ps. 29:3. The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thunders. Ps. 79:9. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name.—Romans 1:23. And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible men.
Secondly, of power. 1 Chron. 29:4. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power, and the glory. Jer. 32:17. Ah! Lord God, behold thou hast made the earth and the heavens by thy great power, and stretched-out arm; and there is nothing too hard for thee. Deut. 4:37. And because he loved thy fathers therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought them out in his sight with his mighty power. 2 Samuel 22:33. God is my strength and power. Job 26, commencing with the 7 verse, to the end of the chapter. He stretches out the north over the empty place, and hangs the earth upon nothing. He binds up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them. He holds back the face of his throne, and spreads his cloud upon it. He has compassed the waters with bounds until the day and night come to an end. The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at his reproof. He divides the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smites through the proud. By his Spirit he has garnished the heavens; his hand has formed the crooked serpent. Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? But the thunder of his power who can understand?
Q. What is the Son?
A. First, he is a personage of tabernacle.
Q. How do you prove it?
A. John 14: 9, 10, 11, Jesus says unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father; and how do you say then, Show us the Father? Do you not believe, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me.
Secondly, and being a personage of tabernacle, was made or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man.
Philip, 2. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and, being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Heb. 2: 14, 16. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels: but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
Thirdly, he is also in the likeness of the personage of the Father.
Heb. 1:1, 2, 3. God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past to the fathers, by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. Again, Philip, 2:5, 6. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.
Q. Was it by the Father and the Son that all things were created and made, that were created and made?
A. It was. Col. 1:15, 16, 17. Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature; for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, principalities or powers; all things were created by him and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Gen. 1:1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Heb. 1:2. [God] Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.
Q. Does he possess the fulness of the Father?
A. He does. Col. 1:19. 2:9. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell. For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Eph. 1:23. Which is his [Christ's] body, the fulness of him that fills all in all.
Q. Why was he called the Son?
A. Because of the flesh. Luke 1:33. That holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. Matt. 3:16, 17. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straitway out of the water and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon him: and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Q. Was he ordained of the Father, from before the foundation of the world, to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name?
A. He was. 1 Peter, 1:18, 19, 20. For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for you. Rev. 13:8. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, [the beast] whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 1 Cor. 2:7. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden mystery, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.
Q. Do the Father and the Son possess the same mind?
A. They do. John 5:30. I [Christ] can of my own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me. John 6:38. For I [Christ] came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me. John 10:30. I [Christ] and my Father are one.
Q. What is this mind?
A. The Holy Spirit. John 15:26. But when the comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me. [Christ.] Gal. 4:6. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts.
Q. Do the Father, Son and Holy Spirit constitute the Godhead?
A. They do.
Let the student commit this paragraph to memory. [§5. ¶2.]
Q. Does the believer in Christ Jesus, through the gift of the Spirit, become one with the father and the Son, as the Father and the Son are one?
A. They do. John 17:20, 21. Neither pray I for these (the apostles) alone; but for them also who shall believe on me through their words that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Q. Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation?
A. It does.
Q. How do you prove it?
A. By the third paragraph of this lecture. Let the student commit this also.
1 Having treated, in the preceding lectures, of the ideas of the character, perfections and attributes of God, we next proceed to treat of the knowledge which persons must have, that the
course of life which they pursue is according to the will of God, in order that they may be enabled to exercise faith in him unto life and salvation.
2 This knowledge supplies an important place in revealed religion; for it was by reason of it that the ancients were enabled to endure as seeing him who is invisible. An actual knowledge to any person that the course of life which he pursues is according to the will of God, is essentially necessary to enable him to have that confidence in God, without which no person can obtain eternal life. It was this that enabled the ancient saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions, and to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing, (not believing merely,) that they had a more enduring substance. Heb. 10:34.
3 Having the assurance that they were pursuing a course which was agreeable to the will of God, they were enabled to take, not only the spoiling of their goods, and the wasting of their substance, joyfully, but also to suffer death in its most horrid forms; knowing, (not merely believing,) that when this earthly house of their tabernacle was dissolved, they had a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Second Cor. 5:1
4 Such was and always will be the situation of the saints of God, that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint; for such has been and always will be the opposition in the hearts of unbelievers and those that know not God, against the pure and unadulterated religion of heaven, (the only thing which ensures eternal life,) that they will persecute to the uttermost, all that worship God according to his revelations, receive the truth in the love of it, and submit themselves to be guided and directed by his will, and drive them to such extremities that nothing short of an actual knowledge of their being the favorites of heaven, and of their having embraced that order of things which God has established for the redemption of man, will enable them to exercise that confidence in him necessary for them to overcome the world, and obtain that crown of glory which is laid up for them that fear God.
5 For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief, or supposition that he is doing the will of God, but actual knowledge: realizing, that when these sufferings are ended he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God.
6 For unless a person does know that he is walking according to the will of God, it would be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator, were he to say that he would be a partaker of his glory when he should be done with the things of this life. But when he has this knowledge, and most assuredly knows that he is doing the will of God, his confidence can be equally strong that he will be a partaker of the glory of God.
7 Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain.— Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.
8 It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer
unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.
9 It was in offering sacrifices that Abel, the first martyr, obtained knowledge that he was accepted of God.—And from the days of righteous Abel to the present time, the knowledge that men have that they are accepted in the sight of God, is obtained by offering sacrifice: and in the last days, before the Lord comes, he is to gather together his saints who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice. Ps. 50: 3, 4, 5. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant unto me by sacrifice.
10 Those, then, who make the sacrifice will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God, and those who have this testimony will have faith to lay hold on eternal life, and will be enabled, through faith, to endure unto the end, and receive the crown that is laid up for them that love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith, because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith; therefore they cannot lay hold upon eternal life, because the revelations of God do not guarantee unto them the authority so to do; and without this guarantee faith could not exist.
11 All the saints of whom we have account in all the revelations of God which are extant, obtained the knowledge which they had of their acceptance in his sight, through the sacrifice which they offered unto him: and thro' the knowledge thus obtained, their faith became sufficiently strong to lay hold upon the promise of eternal life, and to endure as seeing him who is invisible; and were enabled, through faith, to combat the powers of darkness, contend against the wiles of the adversary, overcome the world, and obtain the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.
12 But those who have not made this sacrifice to God, do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty are, there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time. So that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence, and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak, and where faith is weak, the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.
Note. This lecture is so plain, and the facts set forth so self-evident, that it is deemed unnecessary to form a catechism upon it: the student is therefore instructed to commit the whole to memory.
Faith of the Church.
Having seen what the gift of the Holy Spirit and its effects are, it is worthy of notice, that this gift was the thing which was promised by the Savior to those who would hear and obey the proclamation which he had sent into the world, and had authorized the apostles to proclaim to all the world, and that to the latest ages; even as long as the Lord shall call any of the human family to obey his commandments.—For when the apostle made the proclamation first at Jerusalem, he told them that the promise was to them and their children, and to all [not part] them that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
We shall descend to some particulars respecting this promise. It was said of those who received it, that they should dream dreams, see visions, and prophesy; speak with other tongues, and interpret tongues, &c. &c. Let us ask, what are we to understand by seeing visions? This question can only be answered by having recourse to the revelations of God, and there see what the former day saints saw when they saw visions; for if we can ascertain what they saw when they saw visions, we will know what the "Latter Day Saints" must see if they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, as promised in the gospel.
In the 6th chapter of Isaiah's prophecy, 1, 2, 3, & 4th verses, he gives us an account of a vision which he had in the year that king UZZIAH died: I saw also the Lord sitting upon his throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims; each one had six wings: with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
In this vision the prophet both saw and heard: he saw the Lord, as well as those who attended him; and beyond all controversy must have obtained great knowledge of future things and of the eternal world, so as to be a great support to him through the great afflictions which he had afterwards to endure for righteousness' sake; for after this time he could say in truth, what few could say; and that was, that he knew there was a God and another state of existence beside this, admitting what he said to be true. The prophet Ezekiel gives us an account of a vision which he had. He begins with the beginning of his prophecy, and gives us a marvelous account of what he saw and heard of the glory of the Lord, and of his seeing it; and of a marvelous something which is not easily understood. But the whole vision shews us that, in that vision—which he says was on the banks, or rather, began on the banks of the river Cheber, while he was among the captives in Babylon—he had a very extensive view of the eternal world; the hand of the Lord was upon him, and the Spirit of the Lord fell on him also; and he beheld the glory of the Lord, and he heard his voice, for the Lord talked with him. In addition to these he saw and heard many things respecting the house of Israel; their great wickedness and corruption at that time, with what should befall them in after times: and to sum up the substance of his vision, he saw, and heard, and understood many, yea, very many things about both time and eternity; the inhabitants of this world as well as that which is to come. Let the reader take the trouble, if it should be considered such, beginning at the first chapter of his prophecy and reading carefully, and noticing particularly, what a vast of knowledge he must have obtained in that vision of things not seen in any other way but in vision; and he cannot avoid seeing the great advantages which flow from visions, and the unbounded knowledge obtained by them; such as cannot be obtained on any other principle nor by any other means.
Daniel gives us an account of a number of visions which he had, and very similar to those seen by Isaiah and Ezekiel, or sufficiently so to give us a correct idea of the character of a vision. It was in a vision that he had the dream of Nebuchadnezer manifested to him, with the interpretation thereof: he doubtless saw in the vision what Nebuchadnezer dreamed of, that is the great image: see the 2d chapter of his prophecy, from the 19th verse and onward. In this vision the Lord gave Daniel a great knowledge of future things: he shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, from the days of Nebuchadnezer down, until the stone cut out of the mountains without hands, which began at the feet of the image and beat it to pieces and destroyed it. Surely, then, this vision must have enlightened his mind greatly; he must have in a very short space of time, found out that which could not have been unfolded for hundreds of years; yea, more than hundreds—thousands. What a great blessing, then, this vision must have been to Daniel.
From this short notice of visions, the heart of the saint must begin to fall greatly in love with visions, and desire them above all things, as a peculiar means of obtaining, not only knowledge, but knowledge of hidden things. And what a most happy effect it had on Daniel: he praised and glorified the God of heaven, who was a God of Gods, and a king of kings, and a revealer of secrets, and who had so greatly enlightened his mind as to fill him with wisdom and understanding to comprehend hidden things.
Daniel favors us with the account of another vision, in the 7th chapter of his prophecy: let the reader turn to it and read for himself. It is a vision of four beasts, which were a description of the kings of the earth, very similar to the former one; and he beheld, he informs us, until thrones were cast
down, and the ancient of days did sit, and till the beasts were cast down, and one of them slain. And the situation of the world was shewn unto him until the son of man came in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and got a kingdom in which all people, nations and languages should serve him. Reader, reflect! and see what a vast of knowledge this man Daniel must have obtained in these visions, which no man could communicate to his fellow man: his ideas must have been much clearer on all the scenes which passed before him in vision, than the mind of any person could be to whom he only told it, or who had no idea of those things only what he had received from others. Must not the vision itself have had greater influence upon the mind than the relation of it could have? Every rational being would answer, that it would; and Daniel must have known many things which he could not communicate.
In the 10th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we have an account of a vision of Cornelius of Cesarea, a Roman centurion, in which he saw an angel of God coming in to him and talking with him, and giving direction to him how to proceed in order to be saved. Peter, the apostle, also had a vision in order to prepare him to receive favorably the messengers sent from Cornelius, to him, in which vision he saw heaven opened and a vessel let down unto him as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, wherein were all manner of four footed beasts, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air, and he heard a voice saying unto him, Arise, Peter, slay and eat, &c. Let the reader peruse the 10th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, where he will find the account alluded to above. In the 26th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul gives us an account of a vision which he had: read from the 12th verse and onward. He says that he saw, at mid-day a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun shining round about him, and he also heard a voice speaking to him in the Hebrew tongue. In the 12th chapter of 2d Corinthians, he gives an account of another vision in which a man was caught up to the third heavens, and heard things which were unlawful to utter, or were unutterable, whether in the body or out of the body he could not tell; but from the description which he gives of it he must have obtained great knowledge, and certainty about future things.
From all these accounts we are not left in the dark respecting the true character of a vision: those who had them, both saw and heard them; they beheld the Lord himself with the heavenly hosts; they saw the heavens opened, and looked into the eternal world; they heard the voice of God and of angels; they had explanation after explanation; they beheld all future time, the rising and falling of nations and kingdoms, so as to give them the clearest understanding of these things; they were made familiar with both time and eternity, angels and men, the Father and the Son, and the glory of God stood before them, his hand was upon them and his spirit in them, so as to get knowledge that could not be obtained in any other way; for they saw the things as they will actually take place, even the events of time until the Son of man shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And who cannot see that this was an extent of knowledge, which cannot be obtained in any other way? Indeed, beyond this, they saw the future glory of the saints, and through this medium they obtained a certainty about eternal things which could not be obtained in any other way. They had an understanding of things which they never could give to others: they were unutterable things, and things which were unlawful to utter; but the account given of them greatly stirs up the mind of the saint to seek after and obtain the same things, if it is their privilege.
The elders in the south and west will remember, that a Conference is to held at New Portage, on the 6th of next month.
|THE LATTER DAY SAINTS'|
|Messenger and Advocate,|
|IS EDITED BY|
|And published every month at Kirtland, Geauga Co. Ohio, by|
|F. G. Williams & Co.|
|All $1, per an. in advance. Every person procuring ten new subscribers, and forwarding $10, current money, shall be entitled to a paper and year, gratis.|
|All letters to the Editor, or Publishers, must be|
|—> POST PAID. <—|
|No subscription will be received for a less term than one year, and no paper discontinued till all arrearages are paid, except at the option of the publishers.|