A History of the Priesthood
(Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking & Guilbert, 1843)
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD
TO THE PRESENT TIME,
WRITTEN IN DEFENCE OF THE DOCTRINE
AND POSITION OF
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
L A T T E R - D A Y S A I N T S;
AND ALSO A BRIEF TREATISE UPON THE FUNDAMEN-
TAL SENTIMENTS, PARTICULARLY THOSE WHICH
DISTINGUISH THE ABOVE SOCIETY
FROM OTHERS NOW EXTANT.
BY B. WINCHESTER, MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL.
"Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy
priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
by Jesus Christ." -- 1 PETER ii, 5.
BROWN, BICKING & GUILPERT, PRINTERS, NO. 56 NORTH THIRD STREET.
Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year
A. D. 1843, by B. Winchester, in the Clerk's Office of the
District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
[ iii ]
THE subject of the "Holy Priesthood," is one of magnitude and immense moment to every biblical student, especially those who belong to the society of which the author of the following work is a member, and one that diffuses new light over the whole face of the sacred volume. It enables the inquirer after truth to understand the manner in which God always has, and ever will, deal with the human family.
There is no important topic in the oracles of divine truth, that stands independent of this institution. To a certain extent it is the principle by which the Lord works among men, and is the channel through which all the spiritual gifts, such as miracles, revelations, visions, &c., flow or are obtained; and is also, the authority by which individuals are legally inducted into the kingdom of God. This kingdom or church, is organized and maintained by it: for it is the power of God confered upon His people; but when it ceases to exist on earth, the church falls into darkness, and ultimately degenerates into apostacy; hence, comes division, misrule, countless tomes of controversy about doctrine, and all the mysticisms, that now characterize the religious world.
[ iv ]
The subjects of the redemption of man, the mission and divinity of Christ, the precepts of the gospel, the true order of the kingdom of God, the gifts and blessings guaranteed to the citizens of this kingdom, the renewal of the gospel dispensation, the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the house of Israel to the lands of their fathers, Zion for the Millennium, the second advent of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and Millennium, are inseparably connected with the Priesthood, all of which are discoursed upon, and set forth in their true light in the course of this work.
However the merits or demerits of the work, are not for the author to determine; but for the public, to whom it is now cheerfully submitted for perusal.
The earnest solicitation of numerous friends to publish a work of this description, and an ardent desire to propagate the truth, are the principal causes that induced the author to mature it into its present form; therefore, it is hoped that it will produce the desired effect, which is, to be the means of doing much good; or in other words, to effectually subserve the cause of Christ.
[ 5 ]
Condition of Man, and the Earth before the fall -- State of things after the fall -- The Lord made known to Adam the Plan of Salvation -- Giving of the Priesthood to Him, and the History of the same, in connection with the dealings of God with mankind from Adam to Abraham.
6 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
which I deem prudent to publish for the consideration of the honest inquirer after truth.
The subject that occupies its place as one of the departments of the economy of God, that I have made choice of, as will be seen from the "Title," to fit within the narrow limits of this little volume, is the "Holy Priesthood," the history of which I intend to give, with the view of the rise and establishment of the kingdom of God of the latter-days, and fulfilment of the numerous promises of God to his people.
O'respread me with thy cheering influence;
Touch the intellect, help the mind to soar
Above the narrow works of boasting men.
What is in me dark, illumine; O guide
The immortal part, sacred in the path
Of truth, that things past, present, and to come,
May be with great precision unfolded.
'Midst the labyrinth of the dark ages,
Of times or trial of struggling mortals,
Of which no history is conclusive,
Assist the mind untrammel'd to traverse
'Midst monuments survived the wreck of time,
Of truth unchang'd, unsullied, ever bright,
Though like lonely stars that in chaos shine,
While darkness, and confusion reigns around.
High Heav'n lend thine influence, act the part
Of the magic star of Bethlehem, that
Guided the guard'an shepherds of the east,
To the place where Immanuel was laid:
So inspire my mental pow'rs, direct my
Mind, a wise and just selection to make,
Of gems of 'lasting truth; and thus to rear
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 7
Of the cause, nay more th' rights of Israel's God.
Once more kind Heav'n, thine influence I ask,
That like a well instructed scribe, I may
In wisdom, bring forth things both old and new;
That this work, the force of my exertion,
May prove a sure guide to eternal bliss.
Considering the foregoing a sufficient introduction, I now invite the reader to divest himself of all unfriendly prejudice, and participate with me in the investigation of our subject; but before we begin our research, let us have a fair understanding with regard to the meaning of this "holy priesthood;" a knowledge of which we are in search of.
When I speak of the holy priesthood, I mean to be understood as speaking of a delegation from God, or a legation from heaven, which is in authority conferred upon individuals authorizing them to act in the name of the Lord, or to administering ordinances and transact such business as appertains to the kingdom of God; or in other words, the Lord does a part of His work by proxy, or employs righteous men as His agents, and his priesthood is the commission or power given to them; however, the reader is not to understand from this, that the priesthood is wholly restricted to this world; but to the contrary, it is a principle congenial with the works of God, and binds the hosts of heaven together, and authorizes the angels to act in the name of God throughout the boundless realms of light; and (as will be seen hereafter,) no one has a legal right to administer in the name of the Lord without this authority.
The sacred writers have ascribed to this priesthood, two departments, or general heads; the one they denominated the "Melchisedec," the other the "Aaronic" or "Levitical," the latter seems only to have been an appendage to the former,
8 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
as I shall endeavor to make appear in its proper place. Having now given my views with regard to the import and object of the priesthood, I renew the invitation to the reader, to join me in this research, which we will now commence.
Moses says: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," (and all things upon it.) "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Thus we are to infer, that as the earth rolled from the hands of its Maker, every thing was pure. Nothing molested the quiet of all the Lord's holy mountain; all the beasts of the forest were docile or harmless. But the most noble of all His works, was the formation of man in His own image and likeness, whom He located in the beautiful garden of Eden or earthly paradise; and gave him power to have dominion over all things upon the earth. Thus Adam was made governor over all the works of God upon this planet, which then formed a province in the vast kingdom of worlds, or boundless creation of God. In this condition, he not only occupied the place of a ruler, but he formed a connection between the heavenly intelligences, and other animate creatures that dwell upon the earth.
But let us for one moment, further contemplate the state of things at this period: -- The earth was (and is yet) the Lord's, And all things upon it: for he created them. -- Adam, accompanied, by his companion, was located in the capital, of it, to all appearance, with a prospect of enjoying a world of pleasure. The earth was the extent of his dominion, yet all were under the jurisdiction of the Lord.
Under, these circumstances, Adam having authority to sway his sceptre over the whole province of the earth, it was only necessary that he should be restricted under certain rules or a law, for the well-being of the whole of the lower creation. This being the case, the welfare of all things upon earth, to a certain extent, depended upon the
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 9
conduct of man. The relationship that Adam sustained with the Lord, was that of a son, if we credit the testimony of St. Luke. * But alas! man only held this blissful station while in obedience to the Supreme Head of all things; and in disobedience the whole scenery was changed, and tinged with a crimsoned woe, sorrow, and perplexity. -- Satan, who in all probability is a fallen angel, employed the serpent or disguised himself, and thus beguiled Eve, who took and gave to Adam, and thus they both partook of the fatal fruit, which was peremptorily forbidden. The penalty of the law was inflicted, which was banishment from the beautiful garden and from the presence of God, also temporal death. Thus Satan took the character of an invader, and invaded the earth: the earthly paradise became lost to man, and his relationship with God was broken; hence, since the fall, all mankind, before obedience to the law of redemption, are foreigners, aliens, and strangers to God. Under these circumstances, Adam, before having a knowledge of the plan of salvation, must have been in an awful condition: -- A veil of obscurity now intervened between him, and his God; the angels, who were formerly his companions, did not so frequently visit him; the ground was cursed, and became parched and obdurate, so that it required much manual labor to obtain vegetation sufficient for his sustenance. The beasts of the forest begin to tear each other in pieces; the more harmless birds of the wood, hastened to some place to screen themselves from the more ravenous kind. Alas! the harmony that once existed, was broken up, and a woeful confusion reigned in its steed, and a horror and awful dread of death pervaded the mind of Adam, and racked his soul with fearful anxiety respecting his future fate. Thus with a prospect of lingering out a wretched existence, in a state of banishment from the presence of God, and with awful feelings, as though they
* See Luke iv. 36.
10 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
were the horrible forebodings of perpetual despair, he no doubt, bewailed his condition.
Now under consideration that these were the circumstances of man at this period, and that satan had invaded the earth; I ask, what was there to be done? Man had lost this earthly paradise or pleasant estate; the infliction of the penalty of the law, which he had broken, rendered him an alien from God and this curse was to be entailed upon his posterity. Could he without any permission from heaven, establish a law or order of things, by which he could regain that which he had lost? I answer in the negative. Again, would it have been consistant with the character and mercy of the Deity, to have forever abandoned him to wretchedness and woe, without offering him a chance to return? I opine not. Still, I interrogate, would it be consistent with the rules of propriety, for an alien to assume the authority to administer the forms of the law, and thus adopt himself as a citizen of a distant kingdom, or for two foreigners to commission each other to do a thing of the kind? Every intelligent person will respond in the negative. Again I repeat, what should be done? I will answer this by referring to what has been done.
After the Great God, condescended to alleviate the painful condition of man, by promising that in His own due time He would send his Son who should be offered as a sacrifice for the original sin, and redeem all mankind from the consequences of the same. He also proffered to him the law of redemption; or in other words the plan of Salvation, through obedience to which, all the human family can form and sustain an allegiance with God. It would seem from the scriptures, that this law of redemption is the law of the kingdom of God, given to the faithful for their special benefit; but it is absolutely necessary for all to be obedient to it, in order for them to become citizens of this kingdom. But the point
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 11
now at issue is, how the human family were to come in posession of this kingdom: they certainly could not usurp it, neither could they form this allegiance with God without a permit from heaven authorizing them so to do.
Again, there was no way for God to establish his kingdom among foreigners, unless he appeared in person and done it, or sent an embassy for that purpose. An assumption on the part of the foreigners, would not answer. Thus it appears, that there was no way for mankind to return and form a relationship with God, only by a permit or grant from Him, accompanied with the specified conditions. I have now traced the subject, to the place where I can with propriety introduce the holy priesthood.
I have already shown, that it was possible for man to receive information concerning the plan of salvation, but at the same time be destitute of the proper authority to reap the benefits of it. Therefore, the thing lacking, which was absolutely necessary, was the permit from heaven; or in other words, the priesthood -- which was given to Adam.
This priesthood, as I have before observed, is the principle that binds the hosts of heaven together, is the commission given to angels, and is the necessary authority in the kingdom of God; and indeed, virtually speaking, when this priesthood was given, the kingdom was given: for it is the authority by which all the officers are consecrated, or the kingdom organized, and the ordinances administered. When I speak of the kingdom of God on earth, I mean to be understood as speaking of it, as being synonymous with the church militant.
Now the reader is to understand, that this kingdom was organized on earth expressly for the benefit of the fallen race of mankind, and all those who are legally adopted into it, and are faithful to God during the short period of their existence in time, will not only be under the immediate protection
12 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
of God; but will heir an inheritance in heaven, and fully regain all that was lost by the fall; so that our painful course through time, and the serious afflictions that flesh is heir to, in the end will be no detriment to us, but rather, as the apostle says: "They will turn to our good." Again, it is incompatible with the Lord's mode of dealing with the human family, to be present himself and act the part of a priest on earth to administer the ordinances that appertain to His kingdom, or to station His angels here for that purpose; hence, He elected good men and conferred the priesthood upon them, that they might administer the ordinances and adopt souls into this kingdom. Thus the Lord deputized righteous men to do his work in his name. The following declaration of the apostle, abundantly sustains this idea. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ: as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." *
Moses and the prophet Malachi, connect the priesthood and a covenant together; speaking of the priesthood conferred upon Aaron and his Sons, they call it a covenant of priesthood." Paul says, the priesthood after the order of Melchisedec was made or given with an oath. This oath alludes to the covenant made at the time this authority is transferred to the people of God; therefore, when men transgress and fail on their part to perform what the stipulations of the covenant binds them to, they break it; and thus, forfeit all the privileges of the priesthood.
Again, the priesthood is evidently what the apostle alludes to, where he says, a dispensation was given to him to preach the gospel." a dispensation, and a covenant are inseparably connected, (I mean a general dispensation that is given for the purpose of building up the kingdom.) Therefore, if the
* See 2 Co. v, 20.
See Nu. xxv, 13; Mal. ii, 4-7.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 13
priesthood was given to Aaron, a covenant was made, and a dispensation given to him.
Now when we consider that God is the same unchangeable being in all ages of the world, and that He has but one mode of saving men, we cannot dispute that His kingdom was established on earth in as early an age of the world, as that in which Adam lived. Yet I admit, there is no positive evidence that Adam had this priesthood; but there is an abundance of circumstantial, as will be seen from the following.
The first evidence, that the priesthood was given to men in this age, I shall examine, in the circumstance of Cain and Abel, offering a sacrifice as a type, no doubt, alluding to, and conveying an idea of the great sacrifice of the Son of God. Moses gives the following account of this offering: "And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had no respect." *
This not only shows, that Adam and his sons had a knowledge of the promised Saviour and of the atonement; but, that some one was in possession of the priesthood at this, period. But it is very evident, that it was given to Adam, and he conferred it upon his sons; and even if Cain and Abel did not have it, I am certain the person who administered at the alter did; for it is an established principle in the economy of God, that no one has a legal right to administer the ordinances of his kingdom, except he be qualified with the priesthood; not even a sacrifice-offering excepted. To establish this, I refer the reader to the circumstance of Saul, king of Israel, offering a sacrifice at Gilgal, when he
* Ga. iv, 3-5.
14 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
had no authority to do it. * This was a grievous offence in the sight of God, so much so, that he rent the kingdom from him and his posterity, and gave it to David. The apostle says: "No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron." Moses strictly forbade any one of the Israelites to administer at the altar, but those who had the priesthood.
The foregoing sufficiently establishes the idea, that the priesthood was given to man almost from the beginning; but it will be remembered, that he retained it only by obedience to the commandments of God: for it is His kingdom, and He will not keep in office those who disobey Him; hence, when Cain and others transgressed, He took it from them. But I will now bring forward another train of evidence; therefore, I solicit the reader to divest himself of all prejudice, and critically examine it with me.
I have before remarked, that the fall of man produced an entire change in his estate, and that all mankind, before obedience to the principles of righteousness, are foreigners from God; and that His kingdom was established on earth, in order that they might return and form an allegiance with Him; hence, as soon as the priesthood was given, and the kingdom established, and men began to increase upon the earth, those who belonged to the kingdom of God, were distinguished from those who rejected it, by the appellation of the "chosen seed" or "Elect people of God." And it is possible, that Eve gave birth to children before this priesthood was conferred upon Adam, (although, we have nothing definite to establish such an idea;) but as soon as he received it, he formed his allegiance with God, and become the head officer of the church or kingdom on earth; hence, said she, when Cain was born, "I have gotten a man from the Lord;" thinking, no doubt, that he would succeed his father
* See 1 Sa. xviii.
He. v, 4.
Ga. iv, 1.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 15
in the right of presiding over the church: moreover, that he. would be numbered with the "chosen seed," because he was born after they had renewed their relationship with God. Cain however, murdered his brother Abel, in consequence of which he was cursed, and excluded from the privileges of the priesthood; therefore, Seth succeeded his father. And it appears, that the principal object Moses had in view, in his very brief history of the world from the creation down to Abraham, was to give the regular lineal descent and succession of priests or patriarchs, who by virtue of the holy priesthood, reigned as kings and priests, or presided in their day over the church.
Again, when we consider the frailty of the human mind, and the character of satan, who invaded the earth, it is no more than reasonable for us to suppose, that at a very early period there became two parties, which indeed was the case. The "chosen seed," who reaped the benefits of the priesthood, and were made the adopted children of God, in contradistinction to the wicked, (who were called the "sons and daughters of men,") were termed the "Sons and Daughters of God." This is certainly, a most excellent explanation of this mysterious passage of scripture: "And it come to pass, when man began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose." * This has been a difficult text for the learned to comment upon. And some have indulged themselves in strange flights of imagination, and enthusiastic speculation about the meaning of it, and have supposed that the angels of heaven, had some mysterious commerce with the fair sex of that age -- which is a great absurdity. All of this, is the affect of the ignorance that exists in this our day with regard to the holy priesthood.
* Ga. vi, 1, 2.
16 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
Even after the Antideluvian age, the people of the Lord, were called, "Sons of God;" although, the term; "Saints" was frequently used. The appellation of "Sons of God," is often used in the Book of Job; for instance: "Now there was a day, when the Sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan came also among them." * The idea is, the people of God met together and satan protruded himself into their midst. The apostles also, frequently make use of the term "Sons of God."
But before I leave the history of the priesthood in this age, I will again introduce as positive evidence, to sustain the idea of the existence of the priesthood on earth at this period, the following logical conclusions. First, the Lord is the same in all ages of the world, and indeed from and to all eternity. Secondly, his law, or the gospel, is the same invariable rule or plan of salvation; therefore, it requires in all ages, the same principle of authority to administer it. Thirdly, by the gospel life and immortality were brought to light; and I am certain, if the bible is true, the Antideluvian patriarchs understood these important principles. Fourthly, the precious blessings, such as communing with God, as Enoch and others did, revelations, administration of angels, faith, &c., &c., are enjoyed by those, who by virtue of the priesthood are adopted into the family of God. Fifthly, there is but one general order of priesthood, and that has existed from all eternity; for the idea is held forth by the sacred writers, that Christ has been in possession of it from before the foundation of the world, and as the kingdom of God could not have been organized on earth without it; therefore as the Lord's people of the age of which I now write, were in possession of the kingdom and of the above mentioned blessings, it is established beyond successful contradiction, that the Lord consecrated men to the office of the priesthood soon after the fall. Being
* Job ii, 6.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 17
assured, in my own mind, that the foregoing is sufficient to establish the position I have taken, I now continue my history.
As I have before mentioned, there was a regular succession of kings, priests or patriarchs, from Adam to Abraham, and it appears that during this age, while the chosen or elect people of God, formed a separate or distinct people by themselves, that it was highly displeasing to God, for them to intermix or marry with the wicked: for it seems, that a violation of this rule, was one reason why the Lord brought a flood upon the world, and destroyed all with the exception of Noah and his family.
It is said that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, not of the ceremonial law of Moses, for it was not then in existence; but the righteousness which is of faith, or in other words, the gospel of Christ; and any evidence that the gospel was preached in this early age, is proof that the priesthood existed on earth at the same time.
In the preservation of Noah from destruction by the flood, the regular succession of presiding priests was continued after it. He is a very prominent man, in the history of these early times, and the bible gives him the character of a prophet, and it also records the circumstance of his administering at the alter, which certainly gives him the character of a priest.
There is nothing in the history, of the elapse of time from Noah to Abraham, that particularly attracts attention, only in exhibition of the fraility of man; for it appears, there was a great falling away, or apostacy from God, and a substitution of an idolatrous, in the place of the true worship. Also, the building of the tower of Babel, which was very offensive to God: for which He confounded the language that the human family then spoke, and scattered them upon all the face of the earth.
I have now concluded the first division of my history;
18 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
therefore, I close this chapter, not however, without first assuring the reader, that the following one contains matter of a very interesting character, and of importance to all mankind.
The object the Lord had in view in raising up the Israelite Nation. -- The Gospel was preached in the days of Abraham. -- And the form of Government that the Lord approbates -- And the History of the priesthood from Abraham to Moses.IT appears from what is left on record of the age in which Abraham lived, that the foundation of the heathen mythology was laid, and that a large portion of the world digressed from the path of rectitude and righteousness, and were fast tending forward to that disgraceful confusion and idolatry, that they afterward were thrust into; however, I admit that some few strictly adhered to the principles of righteousness, and that the majority of the nations retained some few vestiges of the pure religion of heaven; as is evident from many things that are recorded in connection with the history of Abraham, and those immediately connected with him. The Lord therefore, foreseeing the result of this apostacy, called Abraham and commanded him to leave the land of his nativity, and go into the land of Canaan.
It seems, that the object the Lord had in view in doing this, was to cause a knowledge of him to be retained on earth, which was likely to be lost among those who had turned to idolatry. In order to accomplish this, the Lord resolved to
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 19
raise up from Abraham, a choice nation, and peculiar people; -- hence, the Israelites were to be the repositories of his knowledge.
As soon as Abraham reached the land of Canaan, the Lord appeared to him and made known in full his intentions, which were as above, and ceded to him and his posterity after him forever and ever, all the land that he could see from an eminent place on which he stood; He also promised him that his progeny should be, comparatively speaking, as numerous as the stars of heaven, and that in and through his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. All these considerations were included in the covenant the Lord made with him.
Now the matter seems to stand thus, the Lord in order to accomplish his purposes, resolved to raise up a people and commit to them his oracles or the holy priesthood, and make them the repositories of his knowledge, and stewards over the affairs of his kingdom. This forms a most exquisite solution of the scriptural doctrine of election and reprobation.The prophets, Christ, and the apostles, unanimously agree that the Israelite nation, were the chosen or elect people of God; or in other words, they were the chosen seed. The idea is, they were elected to hold the office of the priesthood, that all the world might be blessed through their administration; -- for indeed, Christ after the flesh was a descendant of Abraham. In a scriptural sense, the whole Gentile world were reprobated; that is, they were not chosen to hold the office of the priesthood, or to be stewards over the affairs of the kingdom; but this reprobation did not effect their salvation in eternity, provided they were adopted into the family of Abraham or kingdom of God, through obedience to the proper ordinances, administered by those holding the office of the priesthood.
Paul, speaking of this chosen people, says: "Who are
20 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises." * The adoption alluded to here, is already explained in the preceding chapter. -- All the covenants that God ever made with any people respecting priesthood and blessings, are embodied in those made with the house of Israel. The service alluded to, appears to be that of the priests, while acting in their official capacity, and not the devotional service required of all mankind: for the former was restricted to the Israelites. Christ said: "Salvation is of the Jews." All the inspired writers, hold forth the idea, that God elected the Israelite nation to be stewards over the affairs of His house or Kingdom, and to hold the office of the priesthood, by virtue of which, all the world could be transplanted into the family of Abraham, and be numbered with the "chosen seed," and sustain an allegiance with God; hence, came the saying; "Salvation is of the Jews." The Lord commanded Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the house of Israel, to circumcise all the males of their families, which was to be as a sign, or token of their relationship with Israel; and that they might be preserved a separate and distinct people by themselves, and not mix with other nations. The covenant made with Abraham concerning the land of Canaan, circumcision, and the multiplication of his posterity, was extra of the covenant of priesthood, which he had received the same as others had before him. The foregoing may be regarded an a slight digression from our subject; but in order to have a correct understanding of the priesthood in this age, it is necessary to have correct information with regard to the object the Lord had in view, in raising up the Israelite nation in the manner in which he did.
The first thing, that I shall now introduce as evidence to prove that the priesthood was conferred upon man in this age,
* Ro. ix, 4.
Jne. iv, 22.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 21
is the fact that the gospel was preached in it. Paul says: "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." * This is conclusive that the gospel was preached to Abraham; but the following is more definite still: "And Melchisedec king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him and said, blessed be Abraham of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth." The administration of bread and wine as a sacrament, is one of the institutions of the gospel, and was practiced by Christ and his apostles; and no doubt, Melchisedec administered them with the same views, and for the same purpose, that the disciples of Christ did.
The profound reverence that Abimeleck king of Gerar, who took Abraham's wife from him supposing she was his sister, had for the Lord, and the principles of virtue and righteousness, is sufficient evidence that he was acquainted with the religion of heaven, and proves to a demonstration, that the law of righteousness; or in other words, the gospel, was understood in his day. Paul expressly says, the gospel was preached to the children of Israel in the wilderness, Eusebius Pamphfus, bishop of Cessrae in Palestine, one of the noted fathers of the church, who flourished in the fourth century, has written in his "Ecclesiastical History," a whole chapter to prove that the gospel of Christ was no new thing; but was preached, not only in the days of Abraham, but long before his day. This is of [undoubted] authority; for Eusebius had a good opportunity to become acquainted with the history of this circumstance. The foregoing abundantly sustains the idea, that the gospel was preached, understood,
* Ga. iii, 8.
Ge. xiv, 18.
See Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, Book 1, chap. iv.
22 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
and even obeyed, in the age in which Abraham lived; but we will now turn our attention, more particularly, to the priesthood, abstract from other principles.
I have before mentioned that Abraham, had the priesthood; and in all probability, he was ordained by Melchisedec: for it is said, that when he returned from the slaughter of the kings, Melchisedec met, and blessed him. -- I suppose Abraham was ordained during this interview.
This Melchisedec, who was priest of the most high God and king of Salem, was an extraordinary man in his day; a man of great faith and piety; although, there are some things connected with his history, that are very singular. He no doubt enjoyed all the privileges of the priesthood, and by virtue of the same, reigned as patriarch or king over Salem; and so great was his faith, and fame, that after his day, the priesthood was called after his name. Mr. Joseph Smith explains this as follows: "Why this is called the Melchisedec priesthood, (or priesthood after the order of Melchisedec,) is because Melchisedec was such a great high-priest; before his day it was called the holy priesthood after the order of the Son of God; but out of respect to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, called the priesthood after "Melchisedec," or the "Melchisedec priesthood." There is an apparent contradiction, in the account given by the apostle Paul of this great man: I mean the following: "For Melchisedec king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth of all; first, being by interpretation king of righteousness, (or a righteous king,) and after that also king of Salem, which is king of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life; but
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 23
made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually." * Some have considered the saving, "without father, mother, or descent," sufficient ground for a great many enthusiastic speculations: for instance, that Melchisedec is Christ, or Jehovah; also that he was not a man. But the absurdity of such notions, is seen from the succeeding verses; "Now consider how great this man was, unto whom the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils." "But he [Melchisedec] whose descent is not counted from them [Levites] received tithes of Abraham,.and blessed him that had the promises." From these declarations we discover that this Melchisedec was a man, and had descent; but what does the apostle mean by saying that he was "without father, mother, or descent?" I answer that he did not allude either to the person of Christ or Melchisedec; for each had a father and mother; but to the principle of authority or the holy priesthood, which has existed from all eternity, and has neither father, mother, or descent; and is without beginning in days, or end of life. The apparent contradiction in the apostles phraseology, in all probability, has appeared in consequence of the ignorance of the translator, or some careless transcriber.
The apostle holds out the idea, that this priesthood is a kingly one, which appears to be correct, from the fact, that it emanated from God, and He is a King of kings, and Lord of lords; and it is also the authority of his kingdom, and by it, as I have before mentioned, Melchisedec reigned as a king over the inhabitants of the city of Salem. This idea is corroborated by Josephus, who says: "Now the king of Salem met him [Abraham] at a certain place called the Kings' dale, where Melchisedec king of the city of Salem received him. That name signifies the righteous King: and such he was without doubt, insomuch that on this account he was made
* He. vii, 1-3.
24 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
the priest of God; however, they afterward called Salem Jerusalem." * From this we learn that the Melchisedec priesthood, may be with propriety termed, the Righteous kingly priesthood; or to reverse it, a Kingly priesthood or authority adopted to the law of righteousness.
It is evident that the only form of government, by which the people were governed in these early times, that met the approbation of the Lord was the Patriarchal. This government, was strictly ecclesiastical, yet it included all the rules and regulations necessary for the well-being of society, and preservation of good morals. The chief ruler was the patriarch, or high-priest, who reigned as king by virtue of the office of the priesthood which he held. Indeed, there are reasons for believing, that all those small kingdoms of the land of Canaan, including those governed by the shepherd kings, were originally only so many branches of the kingdom of God, and each formed a separate organization by itself yet all probably were accountable to a presiding officer, or quorum of officers appointed by the Lord to preside ever the whole kingdom on earth.
Melchisedec presided over a church, or branch of the kingdom of this kind, which was at Salem; and in all probability, Abimeleck of Gerar, was a king of this description. All the shepherds kings, and those of Canaan, originally presided by virtue of this priesthood; but as these kingdoms degenerated into apostacy, they incorporated with their religion, many mythological institutions; their government many political, despotic, forms and rules, and each king in time assumed the title of absolute monarch. I infer all this, from some few hints dropped by the sacred historians: for instance, such as the account of Melchisedec reigning as king, in Salem, the profound reverence that Abimeleck had for the Lord, many things connected with the biography of
* Josephus, Book 1st, chap. x.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 25
Abraham, the circumstance of Moses finding a priest among the Midianites, who had a knowledge of God, the whole history of, Baalam the prophet, (who in one instance however is called a soothsayer,) and many other allusions to the condition of the nations, with regard to their relationship with God, too numerous to mention. One thing is certain, no people so much deserve the extreme severity of God's judgments, as a set of apostates; and it is evident that these kingdoms had corrupted the holy priesthood, sacrificed to idols, and turned their temples into public brothel houses. They thus provoked the Lord, and kindled the flame of his anger against them, till he sent the Israelites to destroy and dispossess them. This idea of their being apostates, in a great measure, accounts for the severity of his judgments upon them. It also sustains our idea of the object the Lord had in view in raising up the Israelite nation.
For proof, that the priesthood existed on earth in the days of Abraham, I refer the reader to the apostle, Paul's epistle to the Hebrews, particularly to the seventh chapter. Moses in his brief account of this age frequently mentions that there were elders and priests; but some of the modern writers, conjecture they were idolators. This is only supposition and be it as it may, it is evident the authority used in the heathen temples or at their alters was only a corruption of the holy priesthood. God first initiated the offering of sacrifices, (not however to idolatrous gods,) and gave the appropriate names to the various grades or office, and when the nations degenerated into idolatry, they retained these names, and sacrificed to their deities.
Moses referring to the circumstance of Joseph buying the land of Egypt, says: "Only the land of the priests bought he not, for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them." *
* Ge. xlvii, 22.
26 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
It is said, when Jacob died: "And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharoah, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt." It is also said, that Joseph married the daughter of the priest of On. And when we consider the piety of Joseph his untiring zeal in the cause of righteousness, and avertion to idolatry, we cannot for a moment suppose that such an alliance was made with the daughter of an idolatrous priest; not that Joseph would have polluted his piety by so doing; but the antipathy that existed against each other's religion, would have imposed a barrier in the way. If the foregoing quotations are not positive, I regard them at any rate, as the strongest kind of presumptive evidence, to sustain the before mentioned idea of the priesthood. I cannot consistently close this chapter, without saying something more of what is written in the Book of Job, who in all probability lived in this age. -- What he say's about the "sons of God," sustains our idea that there were many people in this age who had a knowledge of the Lord, and who had received the benefits of the priesthood, and then formed an allegiance with God, and were numbered with his family.
The probability is, that this priesthood was conferred by the father upon the son. [From] Abraham to Joseph; moreover it is quite probable, that the twelve sons of Jacob were all priests, for they are regarded as patriarchs. But after the decease of Joseph it seems that idolatry triumphed in Egypt. -- The Israelites were reduced to bondage, and how much they feared God and respected the rules of his kingdom, from this to Moses, is uncertain.
* Ge. l, 7.
Ge. xli, 45.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 27
Additional Evidence of the Election of the Israelite nation -- Moses lived with Jethro the Priest of Midian forty years. -- Moses Led the Tribes of Israel out of Egypt -- Jethro went to Moses in the wilderness, and instructed him how to organize the Congregation; he also officiated at the alter and offered sacrifices Aaron and his Sons were inducted into the Lower Order of Priesthood -- The difference between the Aaronic and the Melchisedec Priesthood, &c., &c.
Moses, in his address to the house of Israel just previous to his death, says: And because He loved thy fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them, and brought thee out of his sight, with his mighty power out of Egypt. * "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." Isaiah says: "But thou Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend." Stephen the
* DE. iv, 37.
De. xiv, 2.
Is. xli, 8. -- see also Is. xliv, 1,2.
28 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
martyr, said in his discourse to the Jews: "This is he (Moses) that was in the church in the wilderness, with the angel which spake to him in mount Sinai, and with our fathers; who received the lively oracles to give unto us." *
I regard these quotations as conclusive testimony, to establish the above idea; but there is much more that is satisfactory to corroborate it in the apostle Paul's "Epistle to the Romans," which the reader can examine at leisure.
Now I trust that I have adduced sufficient evidence to convince every candid person, that the Lord established His kingdom with the house of Israel, and of course that He gave them the priesthood; but to what extent they enjoyed the rights and privileges of this kingdom, and its authority, will be seen hereafter. -- But to proceed with my history.
It is evident the Israelites in a measure corrupted the priesthood while they were in Egypt; and that they were to a certain extent enveloped in a spiritual darkness at the time the Lord delivered them from their oppression. The manner in which they were delivered, is familiar to almost everybody; therefore, I shall omit the particulars of it, in order to immediately proceed with the subject matter of my history.
Moses, after he had slain the Egyptian, fled to the land of Midian where he became acquainted with Jethro, a priest of the Midianites, with whom he resided forty years, and ultimately married his daughter. The Midianites are supposed by some to have been sons and daughters of Abraham, from the fact he had a son by his wife Keturah, whom he called Midian. This perhaps will account for the continuation of the priesthood down to Jethro.
This association with this priest of Midian, afforded Moses a good opportunity to become acquainted with all the blessings and privileges of the holy priesthood: and in all probability Jethro consecrated him to the office of it. At the expiration
* Ac. vii, 38.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 29
of those forty years, the Lord or his angel appeared to him, and instructed him to go to Egypt, and lead the tribes of Israel from thence to the land of Canaan. He complied, with this command, and the Lord sent Aaron to assist him, and they in due time succeeded in leading the chosen people of the Lord out of Egypt.
After they had crossed the Red Sea, Jethro hearing of the prosperity of Moses, and the children of Israel, set out to pay him a visit: and as soon he reached the place of his destination, and Moses had related all the circumstances connected with their deliverance and journey to him, he then gave Moses such advice as he thought was good: which was to organize the congregation of Israel, by appointing rulers or judges of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, &c., which counsel he cheerfully received, and acted accordingly. Some suppose this Jethro, was an idolatrous priest, which is certainly a great absurdity, for this reason. It is said, that when he came to Moses, he "rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel;" and that he "blessed the Lord," and spoke in the highest terms of His greatness and majesty. It is also said, he offered sacrifices to God upon the altar that Moses had built, and that Aaron, and all the elders of Israel, associated with, and cordially received him. All of this, does not look much like the work of an idolatrous priest. -- What would we think of a Christian society, that would admit an idolatrous priest into their church to preach, advise, and administer ordinances? I leave the reader to answer this question. But says one, perhaps Moses, out of courtesy, suffered him to do this, because he was his father-in-law. I reply, that it is quite probable Moses had as much respect, if not more, for the Lord and the principles of righteousness, as he would have for an idolatrous priest, although he was his father-in-law. Indeed, I am confident that no intelligent person, can carefully read the eighteenth chapter of the "Book
30 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
of Exodus" without being convinced that Jethro was a righteous man and a notable priest of the most high God. 'Thus admitting, the Israelites corrupted the priesthood while they were in Egypt, we have discovered the probable way it was restored to then. Again, it is abundantly evident, that the gospel was preached to them, and the kingdom of God organized among them. The apostle Paul says: "For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them, (children of Israel in the wilderness;) but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." * Again the apostle says: "Moreover brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea." With all the ingenuity I have, I cannot interpret this in any way, other than that the house of Israel were baptized in the Red Sea, by Moses and others whom he had commisioned for that purpose; and were overshadowed or baptized with the Spirit of God which appeared, and rested down upon them like a cloud. But says one, were they not baptized in the sea when they crossed it? I answer that it is said, they passed through the sea dry-shod, or as on dry ground; and the idea, of baptizing people in the sea on dry ground, would be a novel thing in the bible indeed. The idea is, they were baptized unto Moses, the same as the Jews were baptized unto John the Baptist in Jordan. Moses like John, set forth or proclaimed the doctrine of baptism, and baptized those who believed, or authorized some other one to do it. Some of the most approved historians, admit the ordinance of baptism was practiced long before the commencement of the Christian era, which I have no reason to dispute; but I contend that it was an ordinance of the gospel then, as well as now.
I regard the foregoing passages of scripture, as positive
* He. iv, 2.
Co. x, 1, 2.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 31
evidence, that the gospel was preached, and the ordinance of baptism administered, to the children of Israel in the wilderness. But it appears, they were a stubborn and wicked race of people, and often complained of the Lord, and rebelled against Moses. For this reason, the Lord gave them one of the most despotic laws, that ever human beings were made subject to. The apostle Peter said, it was a "yoke too hard for us or our fathers to bear." Paul says, "it was a curse to them, and a law of carnal commandments:" he also says, "It was added in consequence of transgressions." Added to what? not to a system of heathen mythology, nor to the law of Egypt, neither to that of any other nation. But I am certain the gospel was preached unto them, and I know of nothing else to which this ceremonial law could have been added. The idea, that it was added in consequence of transgressions, is sufficient evidence that it was intended as a curse, or punishment for their stubbornness. Again it appears, that it was appended to the gospel, to continue only until Christ should come and abolish it.
I have now arrived at the place, where I can introduce the Aaronic, or lower order of priesthood, which I have before said, was only an appendage; or in other words, only a part of this grand principle of authority. Why I call it the lower order is because that it is not the fulness of the Priesthood, or authority to perform the works of God. I mean by this, that those who are made priests after the order of Melchisedec, enjoy all the rights, and privileges of this authority; but those who are made priests after the order of Aaron, only possess a part; yet all that their grade of office guarantees to them: hence, the Aaronic, or Levitical priesthood, is only a branch of the Melchisedec: and is called the Aaronic, because it was conferred upon Aaron, and his sons, to continue hereditary throughout their generations; and it was their place as bishops or priests, to preside over all the different
32 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
grades of officers, that came under their jurisdiction: and it was called the Levitical, because the men of the tribe of Levi, were chosen to administer in all the various offices of this priesthood, instead of all the first-born of the tribes of Israel.
Some suppose, this lower order of priesthood had a beginning with Aaron; but the inconsistency of such an idea, is exposed by placing it in conjunction with the following Scripture: "And take unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him from among the children of Israel, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office." * The Lord did not command Moses to induct Aaron into a new order of priesthood just instituted; but speaks as though it was of long standing, and well understood by all. But to be brief, -- I infer from the above, and many other like sayings written in the bible, that this order of priesthood is but a branch, or one of the departments of the Melchisedec, and is of equal antiquity. Although I admit that the giving of the law is regarded as a new dispensation, yet by no means does the idea imply, the institution of a new priesthood.
But during the existence of the Mosaic ritual, it was confined to Aaron's progeny, and the tribe of Levi, and in particular appropriated to the service, and performance of the ceremonies, and institutions of this law.
That the grade of office, which Aaron held, was inferior to that which Moses held, is evident from the following: "And he said, hear now my words: if there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all his house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant
* Ex. xxviii, 1.
See Ex. xxviii, 41; Ex. xxix, 9; and xxx, 30.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 33
Moses." * Thus Moses had a privilege to converse with the Lord face to face; but Aaron, and other prophets that were then in Israel, were not entitled to this prerogative.
There are some things connected with the account of the personal appearance of the Lord to the patriarchs, and prophets, that are very singular and strange, yet sublime, and consistent with good reason. It is said, that the Lord appeared to Abraham, and dined with Him; but it is evident, He did not appear in His glory: for when Abraham saw him, and the angels with him, he thought they were three men. It is also recorded, that Jacob wrestled with the Lord, and conversed with him face to face. Moses and the seventy elders of Israel at one time, saw the Lord; but there appears to be some difference in the manner in which these elders saw him, and that in which, Moses did at another time. All the congregation of Israel saw the cloud, and heard the voice of the Lord from it; but did not see him, and talk with him face to face as a man talketh with his friend, as Moses did. But there is an apparent contradiction in the terms employed in recording this matter, which needs some explanation: Moses made this request of the Lord. "And he said, I beseech thee show me thy glory." He was answered thus; "And He said, thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live." This answer, is understood or explained, by the request made. -- Now when Moses came down from the mountain, the glory of the Lord shone on or from his face, so much so, that the children of Israel could not look upon him; therefore, he covered it with a veil: so no doubt the glory of the Lord is in His countenance or shines from His face; therefore, the idea the Lord conveyed to Moses was, that no man in his common state of this life can see His glory, that is, the full extent of it, and live. The account that follows this answer of the Lord to Moses, corroborates my
* Nu. xii, 68.
34 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
explanation: "And the Lord said, behold, there is a place by me, and thou shall stand upon a rock, and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: and I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not be seen." * Christ, and the apostles, seemingly contradict the idea of any man seeing God, even in the manner Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and others did. Moses and other historians explain these accounts by relating the manner in which the Lord appeared to these man; but when Christ and the apostles say, "no man hath seen God," they speak of Him, as He exists, in the full sense of the word; that is, they include all His glory, and majesty: for in this sense no man has seen God; in other words, the fullness of His glory: for it seems to be reserved to be shown at some future period. But one of the observations of Christ, in my opinion, serves as a key to unlock the whole of this mystery: "Not that any man hath seen the Father save he which is of God; he hath seen the Father." It is probable Christ here alluded to himself; but the same rule may be with propriety applied to others, such an Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Melchisedec, Jacob, Moses, and others, who were priests of the same order that He was oŁ and indeed, all were priests of the most high God; but the mission assigned to these men, differed from the one allotted to Christ. In a word, all these great and holy men, or noted priests after the order of Melchisedec, were only so many members of the grand cabinet of the Great God, and were endowed with plenipotentiary power or authority; and of course, had the right to converse with Him face to face and of receiving information from Him, to communicate to the subjects of the kingdom.
The following is satisfactory evidence, that Moses was a great high-priest after the order of Melchisedec: "I will raise
* See latter part of xxxiii, of Ex.
John vi, 46.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 35
them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee" (Moses.) Peter said the prophet alluded to here, is Christ: and the apostle Paul says, He is a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec: hence, as He was to be like Moses; Moses must have been like Him in possession of the same priesthood. This is corroborated by David, who says, Moses was a priest of God.
Moses by the authority of this priesthood presided over the house of Israel, and was their law-giver; and was blessed with the privilege of conversing with God face to face, and even to see him; but Aaron, and his sons, received an inferior office; therefore, they did not see God as Moses did; neither did they converse with him face to face; but received information from Him by means of the Urim and Thummim, through the agency of angels, by visions, and by the Spirit of God. But it appears, in consequence of the wickedness of the children of Israel, Moses was taken from them, and no one was ordained to succeed him and hold the same office. Joshua succeeded him as a leader, and judge in Israel; but did not hold so high an office in the kingdom of God. The Lord commanded Moses thus: "Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thy hand upon him; and set him before Eleazer the priest, and before all the congregation: and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient." * This expression, "thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him," shows that Moses ordained him to an office inferior to the one he held himself. And it will be remembered, those who have received the fulness of the priesthood, have a right to officiate in, and ordain others to all inferior ranks of office. Joshua was certainly a very eminent man, and had great faith, yet he was not a high-priest of the Melchisedec order
* Nu. xxvii,18-20.
36 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
like Moses. Furthermore, it will be seen from what I have before said, that when the Lord took Moses from the children of Israel, he left them no other priesthood, but the Aaronic.
Moses says, it was the intention of the Lord, to make the house of Israel a kingdom of priests; but it appears, that in consequence of their wickedness, this never was as yet fully accomplished; but will be when they are restored to their former inheritance, and the kingdom given to them again. Yet during the elapse of time, from Moses to Christ, it appears, they were the only people, who had the priesthood, or in any respect possessed the kingdom of God, and all who desired to be partakers of its blessings, were under the necessity of being adopted into the family of Israel.
The sons of Aaron, were hereditary heirs of this inferior order of priesthood; for the Lord gave it to them with a covenant; or in other words, he made a covenant with Aaron, that it should, on condition of faithfulness, continue with him and his posterity forever.
The form of government instituted for Israel, was ecclesiastical, and as far as their authority extended, it was patriarchal: the sons of Aaron as bishops, (or high-priests of this inferior order of priesthood,) presided over the spiritual affairs, and all the Levitical priests officiated under their direction; they also had judges to oversee their temporal, or political affairs, and to legislate for them; but more or less under, the direction of the presiding priest, who obtained the word of the Lord by means of the Urim and Thummim. Josephus says, this instrument was a transparent or shining stone, which was consecrated to the Lord and placed in Aaron's breastplate, and that somehow by its shining, or reflections, he obtained the word of the Lord; but he says, it ceased to shine about one hundred and fifty years before Christ. *
It is quite probable; that several of the Jewish prophets,
* See Josephus, Book III, chap. viii.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 37
by their faith received the Melchisedec priesthood from God, or an angel sent to confer it upon them. It is evident, that Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah and others, received it, for some of them offered sacrifices; but they having received the highest order of priesthood, had a right to officiate in all the lower offices of it. This accounts for these men officiating at the altar, who were not of the tribe of Levi.
In process of time, the Israelites became corrupt in their notions, and desired to have a king like other nations, which displeased the Lord; however, He granted their request. From this to the appearance of Christ, they had their blessings, and their afflictions: at times they were faithful to God, at others they turned to idolatry, and the Lord suffered them to be brought into bondage, and pressed with heavy afflictions. But at no time, did they consider themselves under a more severe curse, than when they were scattered or driven from their land; for this simple reason, they knew how to appreciate the privilege of living a separate people by themselves, where they could worship God under their own vine and fig-tree unmolested.
38 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
The Apostate condition of the Jews at the First Advent of Christ -- The Object of Christ's Mission. -- In what respect His Kingdom is not of This World -- His kingdom, or Church consists of an Organized Government on the Earth -- The Holy Priesthood was given to the Apostles and other Officers of the Primitive Church -- The Gospel of Christ, &c. &c., in the First Century.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 39
of construing them to suit their own views and purposes; hence, as one man's or set of men's interpretations did not suit others, there arose violent contending parties, which finally resulted in the organization of the Pharisee, Sadducee, Essinee, and other societies. But it is very singular, that notwithstanding their degenerate condition, they, were in earnest expectation, looking for the immediate appearance of the Messiah; but their nations with regard to the manner He was to come, were incorrect. The prevailing opinion was, that He would come in the majesty of His power, that is, in great pomp and splendor, and with an air of triumph ascend the throne of David, remove the yoke of bondage from the Jews, restore the kingdom to Israel, and then reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords. These bring their most sanguine expectations, they thought it too humiliating, for them to stoop so low as to receive the quiet, meek, and humble Son of God, who after the flesh, originated in a family that were in indigent circumstances. Indeed, with a pompous air, they disdained the idea, of receiving a Messiah that was cradled in a manger, and who was the reputed son of a carpenter. In their pride they were blinded, and did not see that some of the most plain predictions of the prophets, were being fulfilled daily before their eyes: and in their haughtiness they ascended the pinnacle of self-righteousness; but they became giddy, and tottered to ruin, and fell with a most tremendous crash; and the most of them were laid low in the dust, and the few that were left, were reduced to a most dejected condition.
Christ accused them of making void the law through the tradition of their elders, and of teaching for doctrine, the commandments of men. They certainly amalgamated numerous traditions, and superstitious ceremonies with the law, and probably created new ecclesiastics; and thus by degrees changed the law, infringed upon the stipulations of the covenant,
40 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
and corrupted the priesthood, till all had lost their efficacy; or in other words, were made void. I wish to be understood, as speaking of them in a national capacity, and not individual; for it is evident, several retained their integrity, and obeyed the commandments of God, according to the best knowledge they had; but they were so far in the minority, that they had not the power to reform the nation.
It is evident the priesthood, the Pharisees, and other sects of this age had, was an assumption, or a corruption of the one given to their fathers. And it appears, they had so completely broken the covenant the Lord made with all Israel at the time they were in the wilderness of Sinai, and corrupted the office of the priesthood to such an extent, there was no authority that God acknowledged as valid, left among them to administer the law, except it was continued down through the immediate progenitors of John the Baptist. But from the whole account of John, I infer that the office of the priesthood was renewed to him, and that an angel of God consecrated him to it: for it is said, "the spirit and power of Elias was given to him," that is, he received his priesthood, or authority from Elias. Josephus corroborates this idea by recording the fact as I mentioned in the preceding chapter, that the Urim and Thummim ceased to shine, or perform its office, about one hundred and fifty years before Christ. This instrument or oracle particularly belonged to the priests; but as soon as they transgressed and corrupted their priesthood, it ceased to shine; hence, it appears, that some time before Christ made His appearance, they broke the covenant, and lost the necessary authority to legally or effectually administer the law. That there was a regular lineal succession of priests, who nominally held this authority, I do not pretend to deny: but the idea is, they corrupted it to such an extent, that God would not bless them; or in other words, it in a great degree, lost its efficacy.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 41
That which was handed down through the immediate progenitors of John, was probably the most pure, yet it seems, there was so much defect, that in order for him to accomplish his mission, it was necessary for it to be renewed to him from heaven, or from a pure source.
The Gentiles at this period were In a state of idolatry, and without knowledge of God; and the Jews were in an apostate condition: and thus the whole world, were in darkness, and the only way God could establish his kingdom on earth again, was by renewing the covenant of priesthood; or in other words, to restore it to His saints.
Now the great and grand object Christ had in view, in appearing to the world in the manner in which he did, may be summed up in one idea, and that is, the redemption of the fallen race of mankind. But it is an established principle in the economy of God and man, that whatever is first in conception is the last in execution; for instance, a man conceives the idea of building himself a mansionhouse: the object he has in view, is a comfortable and permanent dwelling place; but all the toil and mechanical operations, are antecedent to his inhabiting this building: so it is, with regard to the great redemption of man, and his induction into the everlasting kingdom of heaven to enjoy eternal happiness, which was the first and great object conceived of in the mind of God, with regard to the affairs of man; but it was necessary that many preparatory works should go before its consummation.
The works that Christ came to perform preparatory to the completion of the above work, were first, to establish His kingdom, or reorganize it on earth, and to make known the gospel or in full the plan of salvation; secondly, to be an example of piety, patience, and righteousness; thirdly, to be offered upon the cross as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of man. The divinity of Christ does not particularly come
42 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
within the province of my history; but I will here take the liberty of saying, that myself, and the society to which I belong, are firm believers in this doctrine, and that in a scriptural sense, "He is God manifest in the flesh."
Now as the kingdom of God, is inseparably connected with the holy priesthood, I deem it prudent, in order that there should be no misunderstanding, to make a few remarks about the manner in which it exists. I have already said, that it consists of an organized government; but some dispute this, and on the contrary contend that it only consists of the individual enjoyments of the righteous; or in other words, it is the Spirit of the Lord shed abroad in their hearts. If this latter idea is correct, any labor in search of the kingdom of God as being an organized government on earth, would be fruitless. Those who attempt to sustain this idea, assert that the kingdom enters the heart of man, instead of him being required to be inducted into it; and for evidence to prove such a preposterous notion, they refer to the following declaration of Christ: "For behold, the kingdom of God is "within you." * Any person will discover from the context, that Christ addressed these words to the Jews, and in particular to the Pharisees; therefore, the word "you" personates them, and we cannot consistently say, the Spirit of God dwelt in their hearts; for they were wicked in the extreme. But the matter stands thus, Christ came into the world, was clothed with this royal priesthood from heaven, and was literally a King, and Lawgiver: He chose his disciples from among the Jews, and commissioned them with the proper authority to act in His name; hence, to say the least, the kingdom of God actually existed in embryo in the midst, or within the bounds of the nation. This saying "within you" may be with propriety read among you, or within the bounds of your domain. I will examine one more passage with reference to
* Lu. xvii, 21.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 43
the above idea of the kingdom of God: which will suffice for the present, it reads thus: "Jesus answered, my kingdom is not of this world." * In the patriarchal dispensation, as I have before mentioned the people of God were a distinct and separate people by themselves, they lived together, that is, in a city or country, where they could enjoy each other's society, and of course, they possessed the territory. Their government was a triunion of ecclesiastical, civil, and military power, yet all were under the supervision of their king, who reigned by virtue of the holy priesthood; however, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, owing to their circumstances were pilgrims and strangers in a strange country; but it was not so with their posterity, who were under the guidance of Moses and Joshua, led out of Egypt, and located in the land of Cannaan. The government established for them, was ecclesiastical; and the territory they possessed, was the above land. Jacob prophesied: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come." About the time Christ appeared, the reign of government was taken from the legal successor of David, and given to Herod the Idumean, and the Jews had corrupted the priesthood; therefore, every thing was in a state of derangement. They expected, that when Christ should come, He would restore the kingdom to Israel, which He offered to do; for said He: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." The apostles supposed the time had come for the kingdom to be restored to Israel: for they interrogated Jesus thus: "Lord wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He answered them as follows: "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put
* Jne. xviii, 36.
Gen. xlix, 10.
44 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
in His own power." It appears, all those who believed Christ to be the true Messiah, supposed the time had come to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel concerning the kingdom of God, who speaking of the Son of man says: "And there was given Him dominion, and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve and obey Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom, that which shall not be destroyed." "But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess it forever, even forever and ever." When this is fulfilled, Christ will subject the whole earth to Himself, which will be the territory of His kingdom, He will then reign King of nations as He now reigns King of saints. With the expectation, that the time had arrived for all these things to be fulfilled, they were for taking Him, and by force place Him, upon the throne of Israel.
Jerusalem is to be the seat of government when the Lord gathers Israel from their long dispersion, and restores the kingdom to them; but as the Jews rejected Christ, and when He was willing to gather Israel they would not; therefore, the time for the establishment of the glorious kingdom of God, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of Christ, was postponed till they are sufficiently punished for their wickedness, and are willing to receive Him; therefore, Christ said: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." * He said on another occasion: "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation, who shall bring forth fruits thereof." Again: "And when he was come near, He behold the city and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but
* Lu. xxi, 24.
Mat. xxi, 43.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 45
now they are hid from thine eyes." * Things that pertained to their peace, were the kingdom of God, that Daniel and other prophets, have said so much about, and the restoration of those Israelites who were scattered among the distant nations. The new covenant, the prophets have so frequently mentioned, that the Lord is to make with the house of Israel, was delayed; and indeed, all these glorious events before mentioned, were postponed till the last days, or till the Lord shall receive Israel again to mercy; therefore, the only kingdom Christ established on earth in that day, was His spiritual one; or in other words, only the spiritual part of it, which was disconnected with local, and territorial affairs; for this reason, His kingdom was not of this world. Christ was not of this world, the priesthood was from heaven, and the organization of the kingdom pertained only to those things which are connected with the spiritual salvation of mankind; therefore, it may be emphatically said, His kingdom was not of this world; but after all is said, it is no argument against the idea, that the kingdom of God consists of an organized government on earth, and that all men are required to enter into it.
Christ also said: "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence." This shows the difference between the kingdom established in the days of the apostles, and the one spoken of by Daniel, John the Revelator, and others. At the time the latter is to be established, the prophets tell us that Christ will appear in the character of a mighty conqueror or chieftain, subdue His enemies, and destroy the wicked.
Now the house of Israel were the elect people of God, and the kingdom by right belonged to them; but those at Jerusalem, (where the seat of government, will be when the kingdom is restored to them,) as a nation rejected it when it
* Lu. xix, 41, 42.
46 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
was offered to them; therefore, according to the prediction of our Savior, it was transmitted to the Gentiles. As soon as this was done, the Jews were given over to unbelief and to destruction; and they were carried captive into all nations; and ever since they have been subject to almost perpetual tribulation. The apostle Paul, while reasoning upon this subject, compares the house of Israel to a tame olive-tree, and the Gentiles to a wild one which he says was grafted into the tame one. In reasoning thus, he supports the idea, that in and through the seed of Abraham, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Thus the Gentiles were transplanted into the family of Israel, which fulfilled the prediction of one of the prophets: "I will call them my people who were not my people." Much more might be said, about the taking of the kingdom from the Jews, and giving it to the Gentiles; but as it is a matter of notoriety throughout the scriptures, I deem it unnecessary; therefore, I will immediately proceed to that which at present seems to be of more importance.
Now the reader will unquestionably bear in mind, that no Kingdom in an organized state, can exist either in heaven or on earth, without at least being constituted of four things; first, a king; secondly, commissioned officers; thirdly, a code of laws; fourthly, subjects: and when we speak of a political kingdom, we must include territory. Christ was, and is, the King of this kingdom of God the apostles and others who received the priesthood, were the commissioned officers; the gospel is the law or code of laws; and all the members of the church, are the subjects. And it will be remembered, that this kingdom was established on earth, expressly for the benefit of the whole human race, and that individuals by entering into it, will enter into favor with God, be numbered with His family, and be separated from the world.
When John the Baptist commenced his mission, he proclaimed,
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 47
that the kingdom of God was at hand. Christ, before His resurrection, proclaimed the same, and also commanded His disciples to do it. The idea is, the necessary authority was on earth to organize it, and the preliminary arrangements were being made. He frequently declared to the Jews, that He had received His authority from His Father; that is, His Father sent him; therefore, I contend the holy priesthood is the authority given to Him by the Father, and by the power of it, He created the earth and all things upon it. Paul declares Him to be the author of the whole sublunary creation; therefore, as the prophet Isaiah says, "He is the everlasting Father;" that is, He is the father of this earth, and of man; but is the Son of God, and brother of man, in consequence of the flesh. By the power of this priesthood, He organized His kingdom on earth, has thus far accomplished the work of redemption, will ultimately consummate it, and reign till He has put all enemies under His feet; and then, He will deliver up the earth, and the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all. In a word, every work that is in the least connected with the redemption of man, is the work of Christ, and by the power of the same priesthood that He created the earth and man, He will redeem them. But says one, this idea appears to me, to be very strange. I reply, that if we credit His own testimony, it is no more strange than true: for He plainly declared, that He received His authority from His Father. Indeed, nothing is more evident from the scriptures, than that He has the holy priesthood. Paul says: "Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High-priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." * "Wherefore holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High-Priest, of our profession, Christ Jesus."
* He. ii,17.
He. iii, 1.
48 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
Thus, He is called a High-priest and Apostle, in the character of a mediator, to reconcile mankind to God.
Again the apostle says: "Seeing then that we have a great High-priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." * "So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high-priest; but He that said unto Him, thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. And He saith in another place, thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec." "And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal Salvation unto all them that obey him; called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec." Much more scriptural evidence might be adduced, to prove that Christ is a great high-priest after the order of Melchisedec; but the foregoing will suffice for the present. The eminent station that He holds in the kingdom of God, is seen from the following: "And having an high-priest over the House of God." "House of God" here is synonymous with His church or kingdom; hence, Jesus as a high-priest presides over the kingdom of God. The whole force of Paul's reasoning in his epistle to the Hebrews, is to show the superiority of the priesthood which Christ had over that of Aaron. But the question is now, whether or not, this superior order of priesthood, was given to the apostles; or in other words, did it extend to the Christian church, or was it restricted to Christ? Some are of opinion that, because Christ ever lives and reigns as a high priest, there is no necessity for the priesthood to be conferred upon His ministers; but this is certainly a great absurdity: for Melchisedec, Abraham, Jethro, Moses and others, had it: and if the saints of God had it anterior to Christ, and it proved such a blessing to them, wherein is
* He. iv, 14, 15.
He. v, 5, 6, 9, 10.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 49
the propriety of withholding it from the church in the Christian dispensation. I reply, that God is the same unchangeable being in all ages, and His mode of saving the human race is the same; therefore, it requires the same principle of authority to administer the precepts of the gospel, in one age that it does in another; consequently, I should be irresistably led to the conclusion that the priesthood was given to the Christian church, if there was not one syllable of evidence in the New Testament, to prove it. But there is an abundance of scriptural testimony to establish this, without doing it by the force of analogical reasoning.
Now Jesus said to His disciples, before His resurrection: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." * In my opinion, this simply means it was the will of the Father that the disciples of Christ should have the priesthood: for as soon as they received it; in one sense of the word, they received the kingdom: for they were then prepared to preach the gospel, and baptize subjects into this kingdom. The saying, "to give you the kingdom," alluded to the power, or is the same as to say, to give you power or authority; and there is no difficulty in establishing or organizing a kingdom, if the proper individual or individuals, have the power or authority to do it.
Again, Christ said, while praying to the Father for His disciples: "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." It is a matter of notoriety, that the Father sent Jesus into the world, as a priest after the order of Melchisedec; therefore, according to the above, it must of necessity follow, that the apostles were sent into the world as priests of this order. Indeed, I regard the above quotation as conclusive testimony, to sustain the position I have taken; but the following, is incontrovertible: "ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you,
* Lu. xii, 32.
Jne. xvii, 18.
50 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give, it you. *The election or choice mentioned here, I have explained in a preceeding chapter; but said Jesus, "I have ordained you." Ordination is the act of conferring power or authority, and in a scriptural sense the consecration of an individual to the office of the priesthood; and it is not probable, Christ gave His apostles power that He did not have, or consecrated them to a priesthood, which He was not in possession of Himself. The most reasonable explanation of scripture, is the best one, and certainly, it is the most reasonable, that the above quotation, literally records the circumstance of Christ ordaining His disciples to the office of the priesthood. It is frequently mentioned in the Evangelists, that Christ chose and ordained His disciples. The foregoing is evidence of undoubted authority, that the priesthood, was given to the disciples of Christ; but we will now see what was the extent of their power or authority.
Now as I have before mentioned every, work that is in the least, connected with the redemption of man, is the work of Christ: for he has the charge of all sacred affairs connected with this sublunary creation. He is our King, and He is also the Redeemer of the world. Everything that is done, that pertains to the kingdom of God, or the redemption of man, must be done in His name: for said Peter, "there is no other name given under heaven, whereby man can be saved, except it is the name of Jesus Christ." "Whatsoever" said Jesus, "you ask the Father, ask it in my name and it shall be given you." He created man, and it is His business to redeem his lost and fallen race: for said He, "I came to save that which is lost." He was offered upon the cross, as a sacrifice for the sin of the world, and "died" says Paul, "to reconcile man to God." But how could the human
* Jne. xv, 16.
See Mar. iii, 14
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 51
family be reconciled to God by his death, when three-fourths of them know nothing of it? I answer, that included in the gospel, which is good news and glad tidings of great joy, are those important truths: "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." This gospel is the word of reconciliation, and it was and is, the business of Christ to preach it to all the world; and all those who believe it, obey its precepts, and hold out faithful to the end, will have eternal life; but it does not of necessity follow, that He in person, was to go to all the world: for He had a perfect right to commission men, or empower them to preach this gospel, and administer it in His name. The apostle is definite upon this, who says: "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled unto Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." * Was there ever a declaration more emphatic? Jesus came into the world, died an ignominious death, established His kingdom, commenced the proclamation of His gospel, deputised His apostles and others, sent them into all the world to preach it in His name, and then resumed His seat at the right hand of the Father, where he now sitteth to make intercessions for His people. Thus the apostles were, the "ambassadors for Christ," and the word, or ministry of reconciliation, was committed to them, and Paul says, "we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Therefore, the apostles were Christ's envoys extraordinary, endowed with plenipotentiary power, to negotiate with the whole world, and if possible, reconcile them to God, and at the same time, make known the superior
* 2 Co. v, 18-20.
52 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
advantages of His glorious or commendable kingdom, and adopt souls into it.
Again, the apostle says: "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance." * The word of the gospel, is the letter in which the precepts are set forth; but the power alluded to, is the priesthood or authority, with which the servants of God are empowered to administer it to all the believers; then comes the Holy Ghost, and the assurance, Christ said to Peter: "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shaft loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven." It is plain from the New Testament, that Peter was in his day, the chief officer or presiding apostle, and revelator of the church. He in one sense of the word, was Christ's prime minister, and had authority to use the name and seal of his sovereign; or in other words, he had the keys of the kingdom, by which he could unlock the sacred treasury and receive knowledge immediately from Him, and thus be an organ of communication, to make known the word of God, to all the subjects of the kingdom. As he had a special commission from his sovereign, and a right to do business in his name; therefore, whatever he done under His sanction, was ratified in heaven. He also, was an envoy sent with a special message to the world. Christ said, at another time, to His apostles: "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said unto them, receive the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." I do not insert the above, to sustain the corruptions of Catholicism; but to show the true power of the priesthood. The apostles were the ministers of Christ, and
* 1 Th. i, 5.
Mat. xvi, 19.
Jne. xx, 21-23
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 53
executive officers of His kingdom, and every official work they done, that pertained to their mission, was the work of God; and as He prescribed certain rules, precepts, and an ordinance, on condition of obedience to which, individuals have the promise of a remission of their sins; therefore, as they worked by these rules, and administered the ordinance, they by virtue of their mission, had a perfect right to say to the candidate, "your sins are remitted," and to the one who rejected the gospel, "your sins are retained." Indeed, the above scripture sets forth in glowing colors, the power of the priesthood that the apostles received. Paul writes thus: "In the name of the Lord Jesus, deliver such an one unto satan for the destruction of the flesh." * "Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." These passages are so expressive of the power of the priesthood, that they need no comment whatever.
Again, the apostle says: "Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not." "Wherefore, I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God." § It is plain, the ministry, or dispensation here alluded to, is the holy priesthood. The everlasting covenant, so frequently alluded to in the scriptures, appears to be nothing more nor less, than the covenant of priesthood, or the one made, at the time a dispensation or the priesthood, is given to the people of God.
Nothing can be more plain upon this subject, than the following: "Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." ¶ Could any thing be more sublime and exquisite, than this? The apostle compares the officers, and members of the church, to lively,
* 1 Cor. v, 5.
1 Ti. i, 20.
(2 Co. iv, 1.
§ Col. i, 25.
¶ 1 Pe. ii, 5.
54 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
that is, bright or lively appearing stones, that compose a building. Thus the church of Christ, being in possession of the holy priesthood, composed a spiritual house, or kingdom. Again, Peter says: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness, into His marvelous light." * Can it be possible, that an intelligent person, after reading the above, can doubt, that the holy priesthood after the order of Melchisedec, was introduced into the Christian church? The apostle, addressing himself to his brethren, says: "ye are (of) a royal priesthood." They had been transplanted into the kingdom of God by the power of this priesthood, and thus experienced the benefits of it. They were adopted into the family of God, who is King; hence, they were members of a royal family, of a "spiritual house" and of a "royal priesthood." Paul, speaking of Melchisedec, says: "He was made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually." The idea is, he had the same priesthood that Christ has. Melchisedec was a priest of the most High God, and king of Salem, and Christ is the King of kings; therefore, this priesthood may be emphatically termed, the royal or kingly priesthood. Christ made this request of His Father, for His people: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 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 has sent me. And the glory which Thou gayest me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one." Christ is here made to say, that He had given His disciples the glory which the Father gave Him, that they might all be one with Him,
* 1 Pe i, 9.
Jne. xvii, 20-23.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 55
or considered as members of one family. The glory alluded to, I presume, is in one sense of the word, the holy priesthood: for by the power of it, they were adopted into the family of God; and those who hold the office of it in time, if they are faithful to their sovereign, will take their place after the resurrection, and reign with Christ as kings and priests of God. But I am satisfied, that the foregoing is evidence, that is incontrovertible, and sufficient to convince every candid person, that the holy priesthood after the order Melchisedec, was given to the apostles, and other official members of the primitive church; therefore, I deem it unnecessary to say any thing more on this point, but shalt now examine the organization of the kingdom of God, or church as it existed in this age.
Now reader, we often hear individuals say, they receive the New Testament or what is written in it, for their rule of faith, and guide to direct them in their religious exercises: and the majority of the Christian world, will say, if they are interrogated upon the subject, that the Church of Christ in all ages, should be organized strictly in accordance with the New Testament pattern; but you know, men sometimes say one thing and do another. And it is no uncommon thing to meet with men who are as conscientious as David was, when Nathan the prophet came to him, and mentioned the case of Uriah, and his wife, whom he compared to a poor man with one ewe lamb, which was taken away from him by some rich man. How often we hear men condemning others, for what they are guilty of themselves. But I condemn no man's opinions, any further than Christ, and the apostles condemn them. Indeed, my predilection is so great for the New Testament or primitive order of the church, and I am so conscientious about it, that I think no other order is as good, or will supercede the necessity of it: however, I do not think I am any more particular about this, than what the Lord is:
56 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
for it seems, that He has ever been pleased with His servants when they have done everything according to the rule or pattern He gave them; but displeased when they disobeyed Him. He said to Moses: "See that thou make all things according to the pattern shown thee in the mount." Christ said to His disciples: "Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." If the apostles, under the immediate sanction of their Sovereign, at the opening of the Christian dispensation, organized the church as it should be, then their example should be followed as long as this dispensation continues, -- and I am opposed to the idea of any man attempting, in the least, to improve the work of God. --- But we will now see how the church was anciently organized.
Paul calls the church with all its gifts and officers, the spiritual body of Christ: he also compares it to a human body or system, that is perfect; hence, he says: "For our comely parts have no need; but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another." Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles; then gifts of healing, helps, governments and diversities of tongues." * Now if God placed these officers in the church, and gave these gifts to His people, who has any authority to say, they are not necessary in the present day? And the reader will remember, that the apostle addresses this rule, "To the church of God at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:" Paul writes to the Ephesians as follows: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers, and foreigners, but
* 1 Co. xii, 24-28.
1 Co. i, 2.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 57
fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." * Wherefore He saith, when He ascended up on, high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." "And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers: for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure or the stature of the fulness or Christ: that we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
First, in the forgoing, the apostle compares the church to the perfect body of a man, and now we know, if one limb should be severed from the body of a man, there would be a schism in it, and if the head should be cut off, it will die: so it is with the church, if one of these offcers is taken from it, then there in a schism in it; and remember, "God placed in the church; first, apostles; secondly, prophets &c." Again, to take away from the church these Spiritual gifts, mentioned by the apostle, would be the same, as to take from a man the senses of seeing, hearing, feeling, &c. Secondly, he compares
* Ep. ii, 19-22.
Ep. iv, 8, 11-16.
58 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
the church, with all these officers and gifts, to a perfect building: for says he: "Ye are built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone; in whom the building is fitly framed together." "From whom the whole body is joined together that every joint supplieth its place." Thus, Christ, the apostles, and prophets, were the chief officers of the primitive church; -- but I will be more particular. As there is, in a political kingdom, a regular grade of officers from the king down to the one of the most inferior rank; so it is with the kingdom of God. And it is evident, that Peter, James and John, were the chief or presiding apostles of the church; but the Lord gave to Peter the keys of the kingdom; therefore, he was chief of the three; hence, on earth, the head or president of the church. Paul, speaking of his being at Jerusalem, says: "And when James, Cephas, (or Peter) and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they give to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship." * This sets forth the eminent station in the church, in which these three apostles were placed. Some are of opinion, they were ordained to this office, at the time Christ took them up on the mountain, and was transfigured, and Moses and Elias, appeared with Him. The idea is, that Moses and Elias, had the keys of the kingdom in their day; but Christ stands at the head of all; Therefore, these great High priests formed a quorum to ordain these men to the office which they held. In short, the offices of the church, were as follows: First, Christ, who, is the head of all things pertaining to the kingdom on earth; Secondly, these three apostles above mentioned, who governed the church under the immediate supervision of Christ; Thirdly, all the apostles; then the elders, bishops, priests or pastors, teachers, and deacons. All these were the different grades of officers in the church, or
* Ga. ii, 9.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 59
different offices of this grand system of priesthood. -- But now, a word about the Aaronic, or lower order of priesthood.
I observed in the preceding chapter, that the Aaronic priesthood was not a new institution; but is of equal antiquity with the Melchisedec, and that as soon as the law was given, it was given to Aaron and his sons, to be appropriated for the administration of the law, as long as it should continue. Now, the reader will remember, that any one who holds the office of the Melchisedec priesthood has a perfect right to ordain individuals to, and officiate in all the inferior ranks of offices: this is evident from the fact, that Moses both ordained Aaron and officiated in the same capacity that he did, when the occasion required it; therefore, as soon as Christ came, and the law ceased to be in force, this order of priesthood resumed its place in the kingdom of God, or was used for the same purpose, with the exception of offering sacrifices upon the altar, that it was before the law was given. The idea, that one officer in the church, has more authority than another, is established from the account of Phillip, one of the seven that was ordained by the apostles, who preached the gospel, and baptized a great number of persons in Samaria; but had not the authority to confirm them by the imposition of hands; therefore, the apostles, Peter and John, were sent for, to do it. * Philip probably, only held the office of the Aaronic priesthood.
It is unnecessary to say any thing about the mode of ordination, or consecration: for it is plainly set forth in the scriptures; and the following will suffice for the mode of calling men to the ministry: "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch, certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and
* See Ac. viii.
60 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." * Having said so much about the kingdom of God, and the manner in which it was established, I deem it necessary, in order to do justice to the subject, to say something about the precepts of the gospel, and the proper mode of entering into this kingdom.
As I before mentioned, Christ came to establish His kingdom on earth, and as the sacred writers give Him the character of a wise and good Captain; more than this, an affectionate King, that went before His people, and showed them the way; therefore, in order for us to understand how we are to enter this kingdom, it is necessary for us to find out what the example of Christ was, and then to follow it. "When Jesus began to be about thirty years of age," He came to John the Baptist and demanded His right to be baptized: but John having a profound reverence for his Lord, refused at first, saying, "I have more need to be baptized of thee." "Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when He was baptized went up straight-way out of the water and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and he 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." Christ knew that baptism is the initiatory ordinance of His kingdom; therefore, He marked the way or set an example of obedience, that He could say with propriety to all the world, "take up your cross and follow me;" also by being baptized, He obeyed or fulfilled the law of righteousness, which is the gospel. There is, however, one more fact, connected with the baptism of Christ, that deserves our
* Ac. xiii, 1-3.
Mat. iii, 15-17.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 61
particular attention. Christ was virtually the Son of God, before He was baptized; but the acknowledgment of His Sonship from heaven by the vocal voice of the Father, was reserved till after He had submitted to this ordinance, it seems, in order to give a clear and lucid idea of the mode of entering the kingdom of God, and of our reception of the Holy Spirit, which seals our heirship with the family of God. As soon as Christ was baptized, He commenced proclaiming His gospel, and saying: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." I do not suppose Christ intended to convey the idea, that all His followers are to follow His footsteps in Palestine, and be crucified as He was; but that all are required to obey the law of righteousness, according to His example; and as He was buried in the liquid grave, so must all those be, who take up their cross and follow Him. After His resurrection, He commanded His disciples to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every person, and remarked: "He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned, and these signs shall follow them that believe," &c. But in order to understand the object of baptism, it is necessary for us to acquaint ourselves with the condition of the world, with regard to their relationship with God. I have before mentioned, that mankind before obedience to the gospel, are aliens, or strangers to God. Paul says: "For God hath concluded them all (both Jews and Gentiles,) in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." * "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God." The gospel takes for granted, that all the world, inasmuch as all have sinned, are in this condition: and it is the word of reconciliation: and baptism, is one of
* Ro. xi, 32.
Ep. ii, 19.
62 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
the precepts of this gospel, by which foreigners are adopted into the family of God; hence, Christ said: "Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." * Faith in God, and a sincere repentance, are prerequisite to baptism in all cases. Christ, after He had sufficiently instructed His disciples, and given them a strict charge to go into all the world and preach the gospel, told them to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endowed with power from on high. This was accomplished on the day of Pentecost, at which time the Holy Ghost came with the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and filled the whole house where they were sitting. After this, Peter who had the keys of the kingdom, arose and preached what is generally termed the first gospel sermon, that was delivered after the resurrection of Christ. And under consideration, that the instruction of Christ was fresh on his memory, whatever he taught as being the gospel, is most certainly the gospel at the present time. He preached Christ and Him crucified, rehearsed some of the predictions of the prophets, and testified to His glorious resurrection. When those who were present heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and inquired what they should do to be saved, or to use their own words: "Men and brethren what shall we do?" The reader will remember, these persons were not Christians before this; for conviction had that moment fastened itself upon their minds, but they were penitents, who had just placed themselves in the attitude of inquirers after the truth, or what they should do to be saved And whatever this noted apostle told them they should do to be saved, the same all mankind must do, in order to inherit the same blessing. The apostle did not require them to remain on probation a length of time, or to bow to a mourner's bench, or come forward to an altar, and thus enter the kingdom of God, and become entitled to the promised blessings
* Mat. xxviii, 19.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 63
of the gospel of peace; but he simply commanded them as follows: "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 Ghost: for the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call." * From this we learn, that baptism is fox the remission of sins, and to repent and be baptized for this, is precisely what Peter on the day of Pentecost, told penitents to do in order to be saved; and I take his words, or testimony on this subject, in preference to that of the battalion of modern divines, who assert to the contrary. Indeed, I am so peculiarly attached to the New Testament doctrine, that I am willing to hazzard my soul's salvation upon a profession of the faith and doctrine that it sets forth, which was instituted by Christ, and propagated by His disciples, at the expense of all the opposite doctrines and potions, which are the work of human ingenuity. Therefore, I contend the ordinance of baptism should be administered for the remission of sins: not that there is any power in the water to remit sins; but the Lord commands all to be baptized, and on condition of obedeance, He promises to remit their sins. The prophet, speaking to a certain people, says: "Your sins have separated you from your God." Indeed, it is the sin of a man, and the entailment of the curse, that renders him a foreigner from God. Sin is the transgession of the law; but infants and those who know no law, will be redeemed by Christ from the consequences of the original sin, and brought nigh to God; but as soon as an individual arrives to the age from whence he is accountable to God for his conduct, and hears the gospel, an obedience to it is obligatory upon him; hence, the precepts of the gospel are for those that are of a mature age, who are capable of exercising faith, and repenting of their sins. Christ said
* Ac. ii, 38, 39.
64 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
"Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter unto the kingdom of God." * To be born, is to pass from one state to another; hence, to be born of water, is to be regenerated and pass from our alienable state into the family or kingdom of God. The apostle Paul, illustrates this in a most beautiful manner by the following comparison: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Now when Christ was crucified, His body was a mortal one, and as such, it was laid in the tomb; but when it was resurrected and came forth, it was immortal; therefore, His state was changed from one world to another, and His body from mortality to immortality. The apostle uses this as a figure, to illustrate the utility of baptism, the candidate for which, he represents as being a foreigner from God, and in a sinful state; but the administrator takes him and buries him in the liquid grave, he then becomes dead unto sin; but as Christ was raised by the glory of the Father, so he is raised to newness of life. Thus baptism is the ordinance of adoption, or to be baptized is perfectly passive, and is, to be taken from our sinful state, and be inducted into the glorious liberty of the kingdom of God; or to use the apostles words, which are very appropriate: -- "Giving thanks unto the Father, which path made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." Nothing can be more plain than the following: "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
* Jno. iii, 5.
Ro. vi, 3, 4.
Col. i, 12, 13.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 65
buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses." *
The disciples of Christ introduced the doctrine of baptism, in every place where they preached the gospel, and individuals made application for admittance into the church: for instance, Peter on the day of Pentecost; Philip to the Samaritans, and to the Ethiopian of Candace; Annanias to Paul, to whom he said: "Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord;" Paul to the Jailer and his household, who were baptized the same hour that he was convinced of the truth of the gospel, to Lydia and her household, who were baptized as soon as they heard one sermon, to the twelve disciples of John at Ephesus, and to the Corinthians. The circumstance of Cornelius and his household, receiving the gospel deserves our particular attention. He was a pious man, and one who feared God, and an angel appeared to him, who told him to send for Peter, who would tell him what to do to be saved. Now, notwithstanding all of Cornelius' piety and prayers, he was not yet in a state of salvation, or within the kingdom of God: for if he had been, the angel would not have told him that Peter had such a message for him; but the question is, what did Cornelius lack, or what was there for him to do that he had not done? I reply, he had not yet taken up his cross, and followed Christ in the work of the regeneration, or been baptized into the kingdom of God. The message Peter had was this: "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. Then answered Peter, can any man forbid water, that these should be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
* Col. ii, 11-13.
66 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." * From the above, we learn the utility of baptism, and that a man may be as pious as Cornelius was, to pray often and give alms to the poor, yet he cannot enter the kingdom of God without being baptized. Christ set the example, opened the way, and said to all, take up your cross and follow me; and also, that "except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." It is a common thing for people in this our day, to contend that God is so merciful He will save good and pious men if they are not baptized. All I have to say to this, is that if He does, He has changed His mind: for the previous account of Cornelius, shows that baptism is obligatory upon all. Indeed, the gospel guarantees salvation to mankind, on no other condition than obedience to all its precepts.
Peter on the day of Pentecost, promised the gift of the Holy Ghost on condition of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins; but it appears, this gift was received by the imposition of hands. The following are examples of the performance of this ordinance. As soon as Philip had baptized the Samaritans, Peter and John, were sent for -- "Who when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost, for as yet he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost." Paul after he had baptized the twelve disciples of John, whom he found at Ephesus, laid his hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost, and spake with tongues and prophesied. It is evident, this is an institution of the gospel from the fact the Lord sanctioned it by giving the Holy Spirit to those whom the apostles administered to; therefore, the same should be practiced by Christians of the present age: "For though we or an angel
* Ac. x, 44-47.
Ac. viii, 15-17.
Ac. xix ch.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 67
from heaven," says Paul, "preach any other gospel unto you than we preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." * This is the ordinance of confirmation, by which those who were baptized, were confirmed members of the kingdom of God. Thus the Holy priesthood, in one sense of the word, was the authority given to the primitive saints, by which they were saved: the apostles, and other officers, received a sufficient degree of it to administer the ordinances, through which all were adopted into the family of God, and, therefore, all received the benefits of it, and were prepared to receive the Holy Ghost, which sealed their heirship; hence, Paul says: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again, to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry abba Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." John speaking of Christ, says: "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." The power that He gave them was the priesthood, and also the Holy Ghost, which was received by the imposition of the hands of those who had this authority. Paul also says: "That as many as were baptized into Christ, (that is into His kingdom,) put on Christ, and become Abraham's children and heirs according to the promise." He further says: "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, abba, Father.
* Gal. 1:8, 9.
Re. viii, 14-17.
Jno. i, 11-13.
68 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." * The apostles, in their writings, frequently call the saints, the "sons and daughters of God."
The particular blessings or gifts of the Spirit that the ancient saints received, were the gifts of prophecy or revelation, administration of angels, faith, healing of the sick, &c., &c.; these were the characteristics of that people, and Christ said, these signs shall follow the believer in all the world, and there is no evidence in the New Testament, that they were ever to be taken from the saints, unless they apostatized, and rendered themselves unworthy of them. And it will be remembered, these gifts were given to individuals, who had the priesthood, and those who by the power of it had been adopted into the kingdom of God; but as soon as the priesthood was corrupted, individuals were not legally adopted into this kingdom; therefore, these gifts were not given. Indeed, no one has authority to administer any of these ordinances, unless he has the priesthood. This idea deserves our particular attention; for it brings to the test all the authority of the Christian world.
One thing is certain, the Lord positively forbade any one of the Israelites to officiate at the altar to administer ordinances, unless he held the office of the priesthood; and I have positively proved, that the apostles, and others of the primitive church, received the office of it; therefore, I reason by analogy, and infer, that no one in the Christian dispensation, has a right to administer ordinances without this delegation of authority from God. The apostle says: "No man taketh this honour unto himself; but he that is called of God as was Aaron." Aaron was called by revelation, and consecrated to the office of the priesthood by Moses. And as, is before mentioned, Saul king of Israel,
* Ga. iv, 6, 7.
He. v, 4.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 69
was cursed for violating this rule. The Lord gave Peter, James, John and Paul, a commission; but that is no sign I have one, or any other person of the nineteenth century. Every person's commission answers for himself, and no other one; but says one, if a man is a good Christian, and should baptize a person in the name of Christ without being authorized by this priesthood, would not his administration be valid? I answer in the negative; but will illustrate my idea by a comparison: for instance, an individual assumes a commission to administer the oath of allegiance, or to naturalize a foreigner, that he may be recognized as a citizen of the United States: an alien comes to him, and applies for citizenship, he uses the legal ceremony, and administers the oath to the applicant, and certifies to it; but the man is virtually a foreigner still, and yet there was no defect in the form and ceremony; but the defect is in the authority of the administrator; hence, the man is not entitled to all the privileges of an American citizen, because, in the eyes of the law, he is not recognized as a citizen: so it is with regard to the kingdom of God, if an individual has not the priesthood, he may baptize a man a thousand times, and do it in the name of Christ, and with the specified ceremony and mode, yet he will not be recognized as a citizen of the kingdom of God hence, he will not receive those gifts of the Spirit, that a legal citizen is entitled to. In this way, I account for the cessation of those signs and gifts, that the primitive saints enjoyed. The Melchisedec, and Aaronic, are the only priesthood that God ever has acknowledged; therefore, if the Christian world have neither of them, it is solemn mockery for them to administer the ordinances of the kingdom of God: for they have no authority to do it.
Now reader, I have proved beyond successful contradiction, that the holy priesthood was given to the apostles, and other officers of the primitive Church: I have also in a brief manner
70 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
set forth the ancient order of it. And now the rule that Christ, and the apostles worked by, was a perfect one; therefore, the order of the kingdom was perfect, and its perfection consisted in its being precisely what it was and nothing else. But there are many, who contend that the organization of the church once in the manner I have before mentioned, was sufficient, and therefore, we need no succession of apostles, prophets, &c.: they also say, there was, and is no need of a continuation of this priesthood in the church. I reply, that I might as well say, Melchisedec, and Abraham, were great high priests; hence, it was superfluous for Jethro, and Moses, to hold the same office some four or five hundred years after their day; or that Aaron was a priest at the commencement of the Mosaic dispensation; therefore, there was no necessity for a successor to hold the same office. Furthermore, to reason by analogy, -- as that dispensation is generally allowed to be a type of the Christian, and as during the former, it was necessary there should be a succession of priests, as long as it lasted: so it is with the latter, it was and is necessary, there should be a regular succession of men, holding the same offices that Christ instituted, to the end of it, if there will be an end. Paul says, apostles, prophets &c., were set in the church, for the work of the ministry, and the perfecting of the saints; and to keep them from being carried away by delusive doctrines: and every person knows that such officers have been necessary ever since the commencement of the Christian dispensation. But once more upon the high station of the apostles. Christ said to them: "I am the Vine and ye are the branches, and ye shall ask the Father whatsoever you will in my name, and it shall be given to you." "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 71
have made known unto you." * At another time, He intimated that many things were hid from the wise and great men; but that they were revealed unto His disciples. Thus the apostles were, in one sense of the word, members of the cabinet of Christ: He called them His friends and made known to them the great things of His kingdom, and through them He communicated His will to the world. It was their privilege to know the mind of God concerning the affairs of the church. And what makes this matter a subject of the most thrilling interest, is the fact that all those who have received this priesthood, will arise in the morning of the resurrection, and commence their reign with Christ, as kings and priests.
One idea more, I wish to forcibly impress upon the minds of all those into whose hands this work shall fall, and then I will close this chapter, and that is, the scriptural fact, that from the beginning of the world to the close of the first century at least, God never had a people or church that He acknowledged to be His own without having in it, prophets, and inspired men; and there is nothing in the bible to prove that He ever will acknowledge a church to be His, without having such men in it.
* Jno. iv ch.
72 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
Prophetic Account of the Apostacy from the Primitive Order of the Church -- Rise of the "Man of Sin, " or Mystery Babylon the Great " -- The Protestant Societies arc destitute of the Priesthood -- And History of the Saints from the Commencement of the Christian Era to the Present Time.
Many of the theological writers of modern times, assert that one set of apostles and prophets, was sufficient for the church in all ages; that is, the apostles, prophets, &c., that Christ placed in the church, were all that ever was or is necessary, and that their writings abundantly supply their place; hence, that the writings of Peter, James, John, Paul and others, which compose the New Testament, supercede the necessity of successors to them holding the same offices. This is certainly one of the most preposterous ideas ever imbibed by human beings: for instance reader, what would
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 73
you think of a set of men, if they should contend, that at the commencement of the United States, we had a number of illustrious statesmen, who held the offices in the various departments of the government; but because we have their writings or productions, which are read with much interest, there is no necessity for successors to them? A strange government indeed, we should have with nothing but a set of old letters and books to administer the laws, and preserve the tranquility of the nation. The matter stands thus, apostles, prophets and other ecclesiastics, were placed in the church for the work of ministry, or to negotiate with the world in the name of Christ, and adopt souls into His kingdom; but they, and all those who were comtemporary with them, deceased, and another generation came upon the stage of action with equal claims upon the interposition of divine Providence in their behalf, and to all the rights and privileges of this kingdom; hence, it was just as necessary that apostles, &c., should be in the church in their day, as in that of those who went before them.
The idea, that the writings of the apostles supercede the necessity of such ministers in the church at the present day, and that they are all the commission necessary for those who preach the gospel, has thrown the world into confusion, and caused societies to spring up like mushrooms, in all parts of the world, for it at once throws the priesthood out of the question, and lets loose the reins of government, and gives every man, that has the New Testament, license to establish a society. Indeed, if the above notion is correct, then every man that has this book, has a commission to preach the gospel, and build up the kingdom of God, and every society that has it, are in possession of that which is paramount with apostles, and prophets.
Again, there is just as much scripture and reason, for dismissing the offices of the bishop, elder or presbyter, teacher,
74 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
and deacon, as there is for the apostles, and prophets; and every intelligent person knows there is none for either. -- But I must hasten.
The principal object I have in view at present, is the apostacy or falling away, from the before mentioned order of the kingdom of God, which I have set forth in plain terms. How long this order continued after the death of the apostles, is uncertain. But it is evident from some of their declarations, that the apostacy commenced in their day. Indeed, I infer from many predictions of the prophets, and apostles, which I shall notice hereafter, that their most sanguine expectations were, that there would be a general apostacy from the true order of the church, and had they have remained on earth, they would have witnessed what they anticipated. I regret, that I have not sufficient room in this work, without crowding out other matter of more importance, to introduce a conclusive history of the church, from the apostles down to the consummation of this apostacy; but however, this is a matter of notoriety: for scores of eminent historians, have set it forth in a plain and legible manner; therefore, I shall chiefly confine myself to the prophetic history of this awful affair. It is probable the apostles ordained efficient men to succeed them, that the work of the ministry might be performed; but how long their successors continued to hold fellowship with God, is uncertain. But I will now call the attention of the reader to the scriptures.
Paul says, in his epistle to the Romans, (which may be with propriety applied to all the Gentiles:) "Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God on them which fell severity; but towards thee, goodness if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." * From this we learn, that God promised to continue His goodness or blessing with the Gentiles on condition of faithfulness to
* Ro. xi, 22.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 75
Him; otherwise they should be cut off cut off from what? I answer, the power, and privileges of the kingdom of God: for the apostle is here reasoning to show that the Jews were cut off or excluded from these blessings of the kingdom, because of their unbelief; and for this reason, they were transferred to the Gentiles; hence, the force of his argument is, that if the Gentiles should not continue in the goodness of God, they should be cut off, or excluded the same as the Jews were; and it is a fact, abundantly demonstrated in all the most approved histories of the church, that they have not continued in this goodness.
The following is positive "Now we beseech you brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." * I regard the foregoing as a positive prediction, that in the elapse of time from the days of the apostles or the first century, to the second advent of Christ, there was to be an apostacy, or falling away from the primitive order of the church. The apostle calls the apostacy of the Jews, and their unbelief, for which the kingdom was taken from them, a falling away; or in other words, "their fall:" so we must understand the above to be a prediction of the apostacy of the Christian church, and the corruption of the holy priesthood, so that it should be taken from its officers, or loose its efficacy. Indeed, if this prophecy of the apostle is true, then we must look for an apostacy at some future
* 2 Th. ii, 1-4.
76 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
period from his day. He thus intimates, that it commenced in his time: "The mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth (hindreth,) will let until he be taken out of the way." The "man of sin" or "son of Perdition" is synonymous with "anti-Christ," which is generally explained as being an allusion to the popish heirarchy.
Paul said to the elders of the church at Ephesus: "For know this, that after my departing shall greivous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock; also of your ownselves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." * I presume no person after reading the above, will dispute that the most sanguine expectation of the apostle, was that there would be a great departure from the true order of the church at some period after his day.
John the Revelator is exceedingly plain upon this subject. In the iv. chap. of his "Revelation," he says: "I heard a voice which said, come up hither, and I will show you things which must be hereafter;" therefore, as the prophetic vision rolled before his mind, many things that were to be transacted in the future, were represented to him by various symbolical forms or figures. In the twelfth chapter of this book, he says: "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feat; and upon her head was a crown of twelve stars:"
It is admitted by nearly all the men of the literati, that this woman symbolically represents the church in its pure state, crowned with all its gifts and blessings, and at its head twelve apostles or great high priests. Indeed, in other parts of the Apocalypse, the, pure church of Christ is evidently portrayed by a woman: In chap. xix, ver. 7, a great multitude are represented as saying: "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready." In chap. xxi, ver. 9,
* Ac. xx, 29, 30.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 77
the angel says to John: "Come up hither, and I will show thee the bride the Lamb's wife." "And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered." In the succeeding verses, he speaks of the "Dragon" otherwise satan, who in the course of time, became so intimately connected or incorporated with the Roman power, that he is represented as having seven heads, and ten horns, as the beast that represents that empire is said to have; that is, he pressed the power of Rome, and the kings that arose in its dominions, into his cause, or wielded it, inflict his purpose, which was to persecute, and oppress the woman, and increase her pangs. "And she brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God, and His throne." Now this manchild is not Christ; for this reason, the birth of the former; is represented as having taken place sometime after the resurrection of the latter. Again, the woman is a figure; hence, the child cannot be a literal one; but a symbolical representation of something that pertains to the church. But after a careful investigation of the relative bearings of this most exquisite symbol, I have come to the conclusion, that the "man-child" stands for the holy priesthood, which was taken from the church, in consequence of wickedness. Furthermore, the priesthood is the power that is given to Christ, by which He will yet rule the nations; it is also, the power that was given to the apostles, and other servants of God, by which in the Millennium, they will reign as kings and priests, with Christ; hence, it is the power by which the nations will be ruled. -- But to be more particular.
First, the woman or church, is described as having on her head a crown of twelve stars, and as being magnificently adorned, that is with the gifts and graces of the gospel; secondly, as being "with child," and in pain and anguish to be delivered, and the dragon or satan with all his forces opposing
78 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
or oppressing her, and as the time draws near, as is not uncommon, she becomes careless and indifferent about her bridal ornaments; therefore, they are torn from her, and thus she is stripped of all her original decorations, and made ready for the consummation of her parturition; the child is born, and immediately taken from her. To speak plain, the church was at first adorned with all the spiritual gifts, that I have before mentioned, the holy priesthood was given to the apostles, prophets, and others, who were the officers of the same. The apostles, and all the true followers of Christ, were distressed when they beheld the corruption of the priesthood, the innovations into the church, and its destined fate. Alas! it became so corrupt, that God took the priesthood from it; hence, the authority to administer the ordinances of the kingdom, was left with no one.
"And the women fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days." As soon as the priesthood was taken from the church, the original organization was broken up, and then it went into the wilderness; or in other words, it was involved in darkness and confusion, the gift of prophecy and its protecting powers, were taken away or were rejected by the majority of the members of the church; therefore, they were left to be carried about by every wind of doctrine, and to be led captive at the will of satan. Yet I believe the Lord has had many witnesses of His goodness in all ages, and many honest persons, perhaps in all societies, who have lived in accordance with the light and intelligence they received, and who have been nourished or sustained by the Lord; although figuratively speaking, they were in the wilderness. Under these circumstances, the woman has been sustained, one thousand two hundred and threescore days. This is generally understood to mean twelve hundred and sixty years; but there is
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 79
no way of fording out the exact time when the priesthood was taken from the church; however, it is evident, it took place about the time the popish hierarchy supplanted the primitive order of it. Some contend that it took place in the reign of the emperor Justinian, who issued edicts for the promotion of pope Vigilius, and the augmentation of his power, which occurred about the middle of the Sixth century; others, that it happened in the latter part of this century or at the commencement of the Seventh. However, be this as it may, it is abundantly evident, the true church was to remain in the wilderness, at least, till the Nineteenth century. Having disposed of the woman that represents the true church or Christ, we will now take a view of another one of a different character.
John in the seventeenth chapter of his "Revelation," says, one of the seven angels came unto him, and promised to show him the woman with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication. "So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication. And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her I wondered with great admiration."
Now as the former woman is an emblem of a church, so must this one be, and indeed, nothing can be more plain than that this latter one, is an emblematical representation of the Roman or Latin church. I have before explained the manner
80 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
in which the true church went into the wilderness; and mark, the angel takes the apostle into this wilderness to see this "mother of harlots." Or in other words, where the first in a manner, vanishes out of sight, the second is discovered to the apostle; or as the Babylonian empire, was supplanted by the Medo-Persian, and as the power of the latter was placed in the realms of the former, so the Latin hierarchy supplanted the Christian church, and arose upon the ruins of it; it is evident, that the beast upon which this women was seen, is Political Rome, with all its apartments and divisions but it is needless for me to be particular upon this point; for many eminent historians, whose writings are accessible to all, have given a full account of this whole affair. One thing is certain, the Roman church has frequently called to her assistance the kings of the earth, or of the Latin power. -- But to be brief. First, she is named "mystery," and as Bishop Newton observes, "the Latin church is a complete mystery of iniquity;" secondly, she is called "Babylon the Great:" she is the exact antitype of ancient Babylon in her haughtiness, idolatry, and cruelty; Thirdly, "the mother of harlots." &c. There are scores of societies that are the immediate offspring of the Catholic church, and they have inherited the same spirit of pride, and arrogance, and the same practice of making merchandise of the gospel that she has ever manifested. Thus she is indeed the "mother of Harlots" and Abominations of the earth, and she and her offspring, compose a complete, "Mystery," "Babylon," or mass of confusion. And certainly the reader, after reading the foregoing, will not censure me for saying that there has been a great apostacy, or falling away from the ancient order of the church.
I now call the attention of the reader to what is recorded in the Seventh chapter of Daniel. First, the four universal empires of the world are represented by four beasts of different
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 81
species; and no one disputes but what the fourth one, which has ten horns, is a symbolical representation of the Roman power or empire: for it is a fact, that at the fall of this empire, ten inferior kingdoms arose upon its ruins, and within the bounds of its dominions, which are the ten horns of the beast. "And there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things." There is no room left for doubt, that this little horn, is the kingdom of Popes: for it was set up about the time, or soon after the fall of the ancient Roman empire. The Popes in time called several kings to their assistance, and at least, subdued three of these ten horns or kingdoms, and ceded their dominions to the church. Bishop Newton is of opinion that the three that were plucked up, were the Exarchate, of Ravenna, the kingdom of the Lombards, and the senate and dukedom of Rome. As soon as the see of Rome, subdued these kingdoms, the pope was raised to the rank of a temporal prince. "I beheld," says Daniel, "the same (little) horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them." Indeed, the Roman hierarchy persecuted unto death and harrassed those who would not receive her doctrines, and enormities; and this corresponds with what John says: "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and the martyrs of Jesus."
"And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws; and they shall he given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Every person who is acquainted with the history or the popes, and those immediately connected with them, knows that this is an exact description of their works; for they have oppressed and worn out the honest followers of Christ,
82 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
blasphemed against God by assuming high titles, which only belong to God, and have changed, not only the laws and order of the kingdom of God, but those of nations. The "times" mentioned here, are explained the same as the twelve hundred and sixty days. John corroborates the above, as will be seen from the whole of the thirteenth chap. of his Apocalypse, which the reader will do well to carefully examine.
Now I trust that in the foregoing, I have made it sufficiently plain, that the "man of sin" or the popish hierarchy, was to and actually has, supplanted the true church, and overcome the saints or worn them out; and also, that the power of the priesthood has been taken from the earth.
The following is referred to, as evidence to countermand this idea: "And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock will I build my church; and the gates of hell (or hades) shall not prevail against it." * Now it makes no difference, so far as our subject is concerned, whether this rock is Christ, Peter, or a revelation direct from God to His people; the only idea it conveys to the mind of an impartial and intelligent person, is that the gates of hades will not prevail, or as it should be, enclose; that is, to shut up in hell, the members of the church, if they are built upon the rock, and continue thereupon. An apostate church, and a wicked nation, may prevail and triumph over their contemporaries: but in another world, the powers and gates of hell will enclose them; but it is not so with the members of the church that are built upon the rock, their enemies may prevail against their bodies; but they never can thrust their souls into hell. The above promise reaches to those who are built upon the rock, and not those, who comparatively speaking, are built upon a sandy foundation. The foregoing quotation is synonymous with this: "I am the Vine and ye are the branches: he that
* Mat. xvi, 18.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 83
abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." * When the members of the church, are faithful to God, they abide in Christ, and compose His church that is built upon the true rock; but if they abide not in Him, then they are not His church; but one built upon some other foundation, and of course are not under the immediate protection of God. The instruction that Christ gave in His sermon on the mount, is the same in amount as the above.
Again, says one, did not Christ promise His disciples that He would be with them even unto the end of the world? I reply, He is always with His people when they "abide in the Vine;" but when they forsake Him, He is under no obligation to ramble after them, in order to protect them. Another passage that is referred to, to sustain the idea that there was to be no general apostacy, is what Daniel says in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream; but for an explanation of this, I refer the reader to the succeeding chapter.
The following is conclusive evidence to sustain the position that I have taken; "The earth mourneth, and fadeth away: the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also in defiled under the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left." It will be seen from the context, that the earth is to be turned upside down, and that priests and people, master and servant, mistress and maid, buyer and seller, and borrower and lender, are all to share alike in an awful destruction or conflagration; and also, that the earth is to reel to
* Jno. xv, 3, 6.
See Mat. vii. ch.
Is. xxiv, 4-6.
84 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
and fro like a drunken man, cities are to be thrown down, and that God shall destroy the great and mighty men of the earth so that but few will be left. And the prophet assigns, "the transgression of the law, changing of the ordinance, and breaking of the everlasting covenant," as the reason or cause for all this. And no man that retains his sober senses will pretend to say, that this universal destruction has, yet been consummated: for according to the prophet, it is to immediately precede the reign of Christ on earth, with His saints: "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously." Indeed, was there, ever a time when all but a few of the inhabitants of the earth, were burnt up, as is here described by the prophet? Certainly, every sensible person will respond in the negative.
Now I opine that the foregoing is sufficient to convince every candid individual, that this prediction relates to something after the commencement of the Christian dispensation; therefore, I will examine it specifically, First, "Because they have transgressed the Laws:" this certainly alludes to a set of insubordinate apostates: and it can be established beyond doubt, that the Lord instituted a code of laws for the government of His kingdom, and that these laws particularly direct that the kingdom should be organized in the manner set forth in the preceding part of this work. As long as the members of the church adhered to these laws, they constituted the church of Christ; but as soon as they changed them, and substituted new precepts, and officers, they ceased to be His true church. The apostle says: "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." This rule will certainly work both ways; therefore, if there is a change of law, there must be a change of priesthood, and it is established beyond successful contradiction,
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 85
that the leaders of the church in times past, transgressed the laws or changed them: and as the priesthood is only adapted to the kingdom of God, or to those precepts instituted by Christ and no other; therefore, when the laws were changed, and a new order of things instituted and adopted, it was necessary that an executive, and legislative power should be created, that was adapted to the new form of government. And indeed, so it was, the Catholic hierarchy changed the laws of the church, and for apostles, prophets, &c., they substituted popes, legates, cardinals, cannons, prebendaries, &c., hence, they have a priesthood, and set of officers, that are adapted to that order, and not to the kingdom of God, no more so, than the legislative, and executive officers of China, are adapted to the laws, and institutions of the United States.
Secondly, they have "changed the ordinance." This certainly alludes to the ordinance of baptism: for it is demonstrated in the scriptures, and by many learned historians, that immersion was the only mode of baptism practiced in the first two or three centuries; but when the apostates changed many other institutions of the church, baptism shared the same fate. The change has been from immersion to that of sprinkling or the pouring on of water. Mr. Gahan, a Catholic historian, says that immersion was the usual mode down to the middle of the Third century. Dr. Mosheim also says, it was administered by immersion in those early times. The testimony of these men is of undoubted authority, and probably would not have been given, could they have honourably avoided it: for in doing it, they have condemned themselves, both having adopted another mode.
The change of this ordinance alone, in time, destroyed all legal authority to administer any ordinance of the kingdom; for I have already proved that baptism is the ordinance of adoption; therefore, if none are lawfully baptized, none are
86 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
legal citizens of the kingdom; and it is unconstitutional for individuals to hold the priesthood, or an office in the church, who are not citizens of it.
Thirdly, "They have broken the everlasting covenant." Now I am fully satisfied that this everlasting covenant, is the covenant of priesthood: and I trust, that what I have before said about the covenant of priesthood has convinced the reader of this fact. As soon as the laws and ordinance were changed, the stipulations of this covenant were infringed upon, and of course, the agreement broken. Can any one read the history of the church, and compare this prediction of the prophet with it, without being satisfied that it was in a great measure fulfilled in the setting up of the "man of sin," or the popish hierarchy? Again, just in proportion as the Protestant societies support the Mother Church in her works of apostacy, and supplanting primitive institutions of the kingdom, they are guilty of the crime alleged by the prophet; hence, when the day of punishment comes, they must share in it.
The principal object in view, at the onset of the foregoing investigation, was the first general apostacy; therefore, reader I sincerely request you to carefully compare the prophecies that I have inserted and the comment upon them, with the most authentic histories of the church, and when you are thus prepared to judge, I am confident your verdict will coincide with mine, which is, that the holy priesthood was taken from the church, which immediately went or fled into the wilderness; and that the Romish church, which is represented by the "women that set upon the scarlet coloured beast," supplanted the true church of God. Indeed, the arrogance and assumption of the popes, the sale of indulgences, amalgamation of numerous pagan rites and ceremonies with those of the church, the worship of images, the celibacy of the clergy, monkery in all its horrid forms, the flagitious
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 87
court of inquisition, exorcism, the nunnery system, and scores of other equally absurd notions and practices, all rush into the mind as demonstrative evidence of the truth of what I have before mentioned. Certainly, no one can be so unreasonable as to suppose, that the priesthood has been retained pure by a people that have been guilty of these enormities. I set it down as a fact, which I conceive to be incontrovertible, that although, there may have been a regular succession of bishops or popes, from the apostles to the present time, the priesthood has been so corrupted; or in other words, those who professed to have it, have been such corrupt men, that God has not acknowledged it, or continued His power with it, for several hundred years; therefore, there is no such thing as obtaining immaculate authority from the Catholic or Mother church. Hence, if there is any people on earth that have this authority, they obtained it from God, through the agency of an angel, or it has been handed down from the apostles by a regular set of successors abstract from the Mother church; but it is impossible to sustain the idea of a succession of this kind. -- But I must hasten.
Having shown the impossibility of receiving a valid priesthood from the Romish church, I will now examine the authority, and relative positions of some of the most prominent of the Protestant societies; however, I will first make a few general remarks.
I want the reader to distinctly understand that my research into this matter, does not grow out of any ill will that I have towards any society: for as I have before observed, I believe, there his been, and is now, many honest and sincere persons in all societies, who are seeking after the truth, whom the Lord will by no means cast off in the day of eternity; but they are deceived in many respects. If it is not willful blindness, they are in a great degree excusable; but if the Lord sends them a message that will inform their better judgment,
88 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
then their salvation depends upon the reception of it; but if they reject it, God will no longer hold them guiltless. I wish to treat all men with the respect, that they merit by their conduct and bearing; but certainly, if the whole Christian world are in a state of apostacy, and destitute of the holy priesthood, there is no harm in making it known, or publishing it abroad; for so doing, may be the means of rescuing many from the serpent fangs of bigotry, and fanaticism. Neither does it betray a want of charity; for true charity, is to tell a man, in the spirit of meekness, of his evil ways, and of the danger he is in; and if possible, rescue him from the iron grasp of delusion: and not to stupify his judgment, when the very Javelins of the Almighty, and arrows of misfortune, are aiming at his soul. Again, I presume the reader has by this time discovered that my mode of exposing error, is by the means of reason, and the scriptures; and if hereafter, I should base my argument upon false premises, and not adduce sufficient evidence to sustain my position, then, of course, no one will be under any obligation to coincide with my views; therefore, I solicit the reader to. proceed with me in good spirits, and with good feelings, being assured that what I shall say with regard to the authority of the sects of the day, does not arise from any animosity, that I have against any of them.
It will be remembered that I have demonstrated the fact, that the Catholic or Mother church, is an apostate one; therefore, any authority that has been received from her, is not good. -- But to proceed.
About the middle or the Eleventh century, the Greek church separated from the Latin; hence, the former cannot make any higher claims to the priesthood than the latter.
The Albigenses, Waldenses, Petrobrusians, and many other societies of inferior rank, arose in the Twelfth century; but all were the offspring of the Mother church. The Waldences
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 89
were the followers of Peter Waldus or Waldo, an opulent merchant of Lyons. He dissented from the Catholics about the year A. D. 1160. Without doubt, many in all these societies were good and exemplary Christians, as far as their knowledge and authority extended; but Dr. Mosheim, and several other eminent historians, have made it plain that they had no church power or authority, other than that which they received from the Mother church.
In the fore part of the Sixteenth century the famous reformation commenced. The Lutheran church was founded by Luther, who was a Monk of the Augustinian order; hence, he received no priesthood from any other source but the Catholic church, or from the Lord by revelation, and the agency of an angel; but it is not probable he received it direct from heaven: for he made no pretentions of the kind, or if he did, we have no account of it; consequently, the authority of the Lutheran church, and those that have dissented from it, can only be traced back to the Roman hierarchy. Melancthon, Zuinglius, and others, who were engaged with Luther in the reformation, were also dissenters from her ranks.
John Calvin, who was the originator of the Calvinistic doctrine, and virtually the corner of Presbyterianism, was also an apostate from the Mother church.
The church of England was founded by king Henry VIII., bishop Cranmer, and others, who were dissenters from the Catholics; or rather, they were a set of insubordinate characters. Indeed, all these celebrated reformers were apostates from the Mother church, and if they had any authority at all, to preach and establish churches, they must have either received it from her, or from heaven; but they all protested against her, and whom they, with the apostle, distinguish by the opprobrious epithet of, "Mother of harlots," and "Abomination of the earth." But I contend, that if she is a corrupt Church it is impossible for her to confer authority that
90 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
is pure: "A corrupt fountain cannot send forth pure water." "A corrupt tree cannot produce good fruit." "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles." Again, in national and church affairs, it is an established principle, that those who confer authority, have the right and power to take it away, or revoke it; therefore, if these reformers received authority from the Mother church, she has all sufficient power to take it from them, which she most certainly did do: for she excommunicated, condemned as heretics, and execrated them to all intents and purposes. But they certainly received no priesthood from heaven; for they universally denied immediate revelation from God to themselves, and made no pretensions to the administration of angels; therefore, of the two, I would take the authority of the Catholics in preference to that of the Protestants; but it is evident that neither have any that God acknowledges to be legal. Many of these noted reformers, were men of the most infamous character, as will be seen from "Dr. Mosheim's Church History" "Buck on the Reformation," and Cobbet Do.; however, the character of men, is not the object in view at present.
The Baptists chiefly owe their origin to Memo Simon, who in the early part of his public career was a Romish priest.
The Methodist church was founded by Mr. John Wesley and others, who were members of the church of England; hence, she is the second-generation offspring of the Catholic church. Indeed, nearly if not all, the Protestant denominations with their divisions, subdivisions, and factions, are the offspring of the church of Rome; and as all join in calling her the "Mother of harlots," I leave the reader to judge who her daughters are, and what must be their character.
The apostle in the following, plainly describes the corruption of the Christian world in our own times: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 91
depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocricy; having their conscience seared (as) with a hot iron." * This must be regarded as a prediction; and the "latter times," here mentioned, certainly allude to times that are to immediately precede the consummation of the present order of times or time. It is true, the apostle applies the term "these last days" to his own time, for the most obvious reason, no days had succeeded those in which he lived; but when he predicts future events that are to transpire in the "latter times," or "days," he is to be understood, as having reference to the days that are to immediately precede the second advent of Christ. Then from the above we learn that in the "latter times," men were to depart from the faith, and give heed to doctrines of devils: and it is a notorious fact, that the policy of his satanic majesty, has ever been to instigate the people to reject as many of his precepts of the gospel, and to deny as many of the promises of God to His people as he can.
Again, the apostle says: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their ownselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form or Godliness, but denying the power thereof from such turn away." This is an accurate description of the Christian world at the present time: "They have a form of Godliness, but they deny the power thereof." Every society has a certain form of Godliness; but is there a Protestant society in Christendom that has in it apostles, prophets, and inspired men, and that practice the same ordinances in every respect for the same purpose,
* 1 Tim. iv, 1, 2.
2 Ti. iii, 1-5.
92 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
and that contend for the same spiritual gifts that Christ and His apostles said, were for the believer? or in other words, does its form correspond with that of The Primitive church? I answer in the negative. But mark, the apostle says, "they shall have a form," and not the form "of Godliness."
Now reader you can demonstrate the fact, that the sectarian world are destitute of the holy priesthood: for if you interrogate them upon the subject, they will tell you, that none were to have the Melchisedec order of priesthood in the Christian dispensation, but Christ: and if you ask them, if they have the Aaronic order, they will say that none were to have it, but the sons of Aaron: thus they will in toto deny having either order of the priesthood, which is precisely what the apostle has foretold: "They shall deny the power thereof." The priesthood constitutes one of the most prominent features of the power of Godliness: for it is the power given to the people of God by which they can work in His name; and when faith co-operates with it, it is the power to work miracles. Therefore, as the sects of the day, deny this power, it is not to be expected, as I explained in the preceding chapter, that they can work miracles, and receive those spiritual gifts that pertain to the kingdom; for they are not legally adopted into it themselves, neither have they any authority to adopt others into it.
But says one, if they have not this priesthood, what authority do they possess? The apostle answers this thus: "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears:
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 93
and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." * From this we learn, that as soon as those who are the subjects of the apostle's prophecy would no longer endure sound doctrine, they should heap to themselves teachers; that is, they would create a priesthood of their own, and from an order of eccelesiastics, and by this means turn from the truth unto fables. And when we read the history of the past and present, we cannot but justify this prediction; for instance, at the establishment of several of the Protestant societies, synods and councils, were held by those who had been excommunicated from the Mother church, and who had no more authority to ordain others to the ministry, than an Ethiopian from the sandy deserts of Africa; yet they ordained bishops, elders, &c.; hence, the power given, was a man-made priesthood, because it was instituted by a conclave of men who had no other authority than that of man.
Again, when we compare the various creeds, that have been instituted for the government of religious societies, with the New Testament, we can easily comprehend what the apostle alludes to in the expression, "they shall be turned from the truth unto fables." Now the only difference between the priesthood the apostles received, and the one this multitude of teachers have, is, the former was instituted by the Lord, and the latter by man. Peter says: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you; whose judgment now of' long time
* 2 Ti. iv, 1-4.
94 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." * This no doubt, alludes to the sects, parties, and false teachers, not only of preceding ages, but of our own times. Many more predictions of the apostles and prophets, which are definite upon the subject of the apostacy, might be adduced; but the foregoing must suffice for the present.
Now reader, in order to satisfy yourself still further I advise you to carefully compare the creeds or doctrines of the orthodox societies, with the new Testament, and you will find that the one scarcely resembles the other. This variation should be regarded as convincing proof, that the Christian world are in a state of apostacy. And you will discover that for the holy priesthood, they have substituted a man-made one; for the Spirit of Christ they have factious spirits, for truth error, for light darkness; and in a word, they have turned things upside down, and changed the ancient order of the church into sectarian forms and institutions. But once more upon Protestant authority; -- it is not at all probable, that the Protestant denominations have received any priesthood from heaven: for they make no pretentions of the kind; and they also deny having it; therefore, it must necessarily follow, that they have assumed all they possess. According to the bible, when the Lord undertook to establish a church a people, or His kingdom, His mode of doing it, has universally been to raise up good men upon whom He conferred the office of the priesthood, and when they done the work allotted to them, it was His work, because He authorized them; therefore, if we reason from analogy, the Protestant reformers had no authority to administer ordinances, and build up churches, and inasmuch as they did, they done it upon their own responsibility, and without power from God. "Surely," says the prophet, "the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secrets unto His
* 2 Pe. ii, 13.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 95
servants the prophets." * If these societies were raised up by the express command of God, He would have made it known by a revelation. "Every plant," said Christ, "which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." But I will here observe, that I have no disposition to underrate the good effects of the reformation; but frankly admit, that it has been the means of doing good. Indeed, every revolution among the nations, since the world began, has resulted in some good; but oftentimes the evil has overbalanced the good. The reformation has been the cause of much bloodshed, and also a great confusion in religious matters; yet the absurdities of the Protestants, are not parallel with those of the Mother church; but as divine Providence overruled the works of Cyrus the Persian, that they produced some good; so peradventure, it is with the reformation. The good effects of it are, a religious freedom, morality, the right of exercising our own judgments upon religious matters, an astonishing improvement in the republic of letters, an extraordinary advancement in the fine arts, nations have thrown off the yoke of political bondage, the state of society has been greatly improved, and the work of civilization greatly augmented. All of this has contributed in a reasonable degree, to prepare the way for the glorious work of God of the latter-days.
Now under consideration that the Jews, Catholics, and Protestants, are in a state of apostacy, or are living under broken covenants, and that the Lord has promised to perform some of the most majestic works that He has ever accomplished since the beginning; viz., the restoration of the tribes of Israel, who are now in a dispersed condition, to the land of their fathers, and which is to be attended with great signs and miracles, the gospel is to be preached to all the world for a witness of the approach of the second advent of Christ, &c., &;c.,
* Am. iii, 7.
Mat. xv, 13.
96 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
I ask the reader what should be done? You will certainly respond with me, that God will restore His priesthood, raise up servants, endow them with power, and send them to perform this majestic work; but for the argument upon this point, I refer you to the following chapter.
The Object of New Revelation -- Rule for the Interpretation of Prophecy -- The Lord Foretold that He would send His Angel with the Priesthood or Everlasting Gospel, and also, Reorganize His Kingdom First upon the American Continent -- Dissertation upon Nebuchadnezzars Dream and Daniel's Interpretation of it -- The Lord's Ensign of the Latter-days, and the Restoration of the House of Israel, &c., &c.I MUST confess it is not always very pleasant to read of the wickedness of our follow-man, or of his depravity; but duty sometimes imposes upon us the task of disclosing, and exposing to view, the high-handed abominations of others, and the attendant effects of the same, that posterity may take warning and shun those vices that were fraught with so many fatal consequences to their ancestors. And certainly, nothing but a feeling sense of duty, prompted me to disclose the awful condition and apostacy of the Christian world, in the manner exhibited in the preceding chapter. Indeed, the exigency of the case requires much plainness; therefore, I have thus far avoided flattery, knowing that truth
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 97
in its original simplicity, is the most effectual remedy for the infatuation of a set of apostates; although, its effect is rather severe upon the mind, it is certainly the only proper antidote yet discovered.
I have set down nought in malice; but have recorded facts as they are without any false colouring, yet the picture I have necessarily drawn, is not one of the most pleasing character; but if there is any blame, it should not be attached to me; for my circumstances are so peculiar, that it would not become me to speak well of the evil that men do, or to praise them for their abominations. -- But according to the old adage: "The darkest hour is just before day;" so reader I trust, it is in this case; therefore, we will let the past suffice for the present, and look, or at least hope, for better things to come; hence, I earnestly request you to divest yourself of all incoherent prejudice, and proceed with me, in the investigation, with liberal feelings: for I shall not take you into the speculative wilderness or confusion of the vague opinions of men, and conflicting comments upon the scriptures; but into the harmonious field of prophecy, and prophetic vision, where I shall exhibit to you the true church, or kingdom of God with all its attendant blessings, coming up out of the wilderness progressing in its onward course amidst the confusion of the world, and opposition of those who have the mark of the beast, and many flocking to its folds, which will increase its magnitude until Christ shall come with all His saints and angels, and commence His reign with them, as King of kings and Lord of lords; also many other important events connected with this glorious work, which are of great importance to all mankind.
In the preceding chapter, I proved that the whole Christian world are destitute of the holy priesthood, and to a certain extent in a state of apostacy; but in this, I shall establish beyond successful contradiction, that it was to be restored,
98 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
and the kingdom of God reorganized, and also that majestic works are to be performed. And I wish the reader to distinctly understand, that I do it in defence of the doctrine of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:" for the position taken by this society, is, that in consequence of the apostacy before mentioned, the power of the priesthood has been taken from the church; hence, it is necessary that it should be restored, or given to such men as the Lord shall choose as instruments to perform His work, that His kingdom may be organized on earth in fulfillment of numerous predictions of the prophets: and the attentive reader will see hereafter, whether or not our position is a correct one. But I will here observe that it would be unreasonable for me to attempt to give all the particulars of our doctrine in its relative connection with important events that are the subjects of prophecy; therefore, I shall only reason upon the most prominent points, and particularly, those that distinguish us from other religious societies, and leave the intelligent reader to fill up the interstices by the assistance of the scriptures, and several interesting books, published by men of talent in good standing in the society.
Again, one of the principal objects I have had in view throughout the former part of this work, is the justification of the doctrine of the above society; therefore, if there is any strength or force in my argument, the base or foundation upon which we rest our sentiments is good; if not, the whole super structure will ultimately fall to ruin. But as the idea of a new revelation is so much objected to by the Christian community, I deem it necessary to make a few remarks upon this point, before I enter upon the subject-matter of the chapter,
Many individuals of the present age suppose that a new revelation cannot be given without revealing a new gospel; but such imbecility in judgment is a more fit characteristic
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 99
of a wild barbarian, than of one that bears the name of an enlightened Christian. The gospel is the invariable rule or, plan of salvation, and its antiquity is certainly equal to that of the earth, and through an obedience to its precepts, the ancients were adopted into the family of God; hence, they became the Sons of God. Indeed, the gospel is an established principle, and there never was such a thing known as a revelation being given to reveal a new one. The Lord has had many notable works to perform at different periods of the world, and He has ever given such revelations as were adapted to these works. For instance, He led Noa into the secret of the purposed flood, and commanded him to build an ark for his temporal safety. This command answered for him, and no other person. Lot was saved by fleeing to Zoar, as he was commanded, and not by building an ark. Moses did not build an ark in order to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage; but obeyed the commands that the Lord gave him; and it would be folly for individuals of the present age to build an ark, or to leave Egypt in order to save themselves, either temporally or spiritually. God gave revelations to these man for special purposes; hence, each one was adapted to the work for which it was given. Again, when the Lord has had any noted work to perform, He has generally sent an angel with a message to His servant or servants, whom He made instruments of to accomplish the work then at hand; and it is reasonable for us to suppose that the message or revelation was adapted to the work for which it was given. Christ gave special revelations, and directions, to His disciples, because He had given them a particular work to do. In the latter-days, He has a majestic work to perform, as will be seen hereafter; therefore, He will send His angel with special messages and directions, that this great work may be done according to His will: yet no other gospel will be revealed; for it is unchangable, and adapted to all people in every age, and under
100 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
all circumstances. -- But now a word about the mode of interpreting prophecy.
It is a fact, that example or precedent is the best rule for the interpretation of the predictions of the prophets, that are yet to be fulfilled; hence, all the prophecies which are not written in a figurative style, and have no metaphorical sign prefixed to them, should be regarded as a literal revelation of God; for it is notoriously true, that all the prophecies of the Old Testament, that were fulfilled in the person of our Saviour, were literally fulfilled; also, those that related to other events, without an exception; therefore, wherein is the propriety of the idea, that those which relate to the future will not be fulfilled in the same way? Peter says: "No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation." * Metaphors and parables, should be understood as such; yet they are either explained, or are so plain there is no difficulty in understanding them; but where it is written, thus and thus Saith the Lord, certain events shall take place, I look for a literal fulfilment of every word. -- But now to the subject.
Now according to the view I take of the subject, the consistency of the whole position of the before mentioned society, in a great degree, depends upon the establishment of the idea, that the Lord was to raise up servants, and give them the holy priesthood, and reorganize His kingdom, in order that His great work may be accomplished, and the way prepared for the second advent of the Messiah, &c., &c.; therefore, I shall now make it my business to place the above idea beyond successful contradiction. -- But now for the evidence.
The disciples of Christ interrogated Him thus: "Tell us, when these things shall be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming and the end of the world?" The first question relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, which they had previously conversed about; but the latter to Christ's second
* 2 Pe. i, 20.
See Mat. xxiv chap.)
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 101
advent, and the end of the world, that is to take place at the same time; but the manner in which He answered them is according to the old custom of the prophets, which was to first give a brief or general outline of the subject, and afterwards to take up each item by itself and particularize upon it. After He had given them a brief sketch of some important events that were to transpire before, and at, the destruction of Jerusalem, He outlined some of the most prominent things or events, that are to precede His second appearance or the end of the world, as omens of its near approach; the greatest of which is as follows: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." From this we learn that the gospel is to be preached to all the world as a warning or witness, that the end is at hand. It is true, Paul says that in his day, the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven; but it certainly was not in fulfilment of the above prediction; for this reason, the apostles were not sent to warn the world that the end, in the sense Christ used the term, was to immediately come; therefore, we must receive it as a prediction of an event that is to immediately precede the second Advent of the Messiah.
Connect our Saviour's parable of the "wheat and the tares," and His explanation of it, with this, and it makes the subject perfectly plain and consistent. -- He said: "And in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn." He explained as follows: "The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one: the enemy that sowed them is the devil: the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels (or servants.) As therefore the tares are gathered
102 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world, &c." * From this we discover that the universal destruction of the wicked, will be the end of the world, which the prophets and apostles, agree will take place at the second appearance of Christ.
Now the matter stands thus, it would be unjust for the Lord to bring an overwhelming destruction upon the world without first giving them a timely warning of it, that all may if they will, prepare for it by turning to the Lord; therefore, previous to the end, He will renew the gospel dispensation by restoring the holy priesthood, with which He will commission efficient men, and send them to preach the gospel of the kingdom to all nations as above. Some individuals however, infer from the following, that all this was fulfilled, at or before the destruction of Jerusalem: "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." In order to understand this, the reader should keep in mind the questions that the apostles propounded to Christ; the first of which as I before observed, relates to the destruction of Jerusalem. After He had dispensed with this, He informed them what shall be the signs at His second coming, when He shall appear in great glory with His angels, and destroy the wicked. The signs of this latter event, are the preaching of the gospel as before mentioned, wars and rumors of wars, pestilence, famine, signs in the sun, moon and stars, also on the earth, distress of nations, and men's hearts failing them for fear while looking for those things which are coming upon the earth, and said He, "This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." This declaration is governed by the parable of "the fig-tree," that immediately precedes it; hence, it alludes to the generation in which these signs shall begin to appear: or to read the passage thus: "The generation
* Mat. xiii chap.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 103
in which these signs shall begin to appear shall not pass," &c., explains the whole matter.
Our Saviour's parable of "Labourers and the vineyard," is plain upon this subject: in which He compares the kingdom of heaven to a man that went out in the morning, and also at the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours of the day, and hired labourers to work in his vineyard. * It is evident that the term hour, here stands for a noted epoch of the world, or the commencement of an important dispensation; and the day, stands for the world: for instance, in the morning of the creation, the Lord sent labourers into the vineyard; in the days of Noah and Abraham, He sent others into it; and also at the commencement of the Mosaic dispensation. At the opening of the Christian, which was the ninth hour, He had a great work to do; therefore, He sent many into the vineyard; but in the latter-days, which is the eleventh hour He will call many, and commission them to go to the nations, and preach the gospel of the kingdom. This eleventh hour, must certainly apply to an age, as late as the nineteenth century, from the fact, it is but one hour before the evening or time of recompense; or in other words, the elapse of the time from the eleventh hour to the time of the recompense, is very short in comparison to that of the others. Again It will be remembered, that three hours of time passed away between each time of calling except the latter. This does not a little favour the idea, that the Lord's work of the latter-days, will be a short one. All admit, that the time of reckoning and reward, will take place at the end of the day or the world, when Christ shall come and make an end of the present state of things, and put the saints in possession of the kingdom, and the greatness of it under the whole heavens. Therefore, I regard this parable as conclusive evidence, to sustain my position.
* See Mat. xx chap.
104 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
But I will now call the attention of the reader to the testimony of John the Revelator. -- He first saw the rise of the beasts, the saints overcome, and the prevalence of Babylon the Great; but as the prophetic vision rolled before his mind, and he penetrated futurity, he saw the time when the Lamb of God shall stand upon Mount Zion with an hundred and forty-four thousand of His saints. After this, he saw the manner in which this glorious event shall be brought about, which is as follows. "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, (or firmament) having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him, that made heaven and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." * It is not the business of an angel to act the part of a priest on earth; therefore, the idea conveyed in the above, is that an angel was to appear with a commission to preach the gospel to all the world as a witness that the end or hour of God's judgment is at hand. I have not been a little amused at the various opinions of modern divines with regard to the meaning of this prophetic vision. -- Some suppose that it alludes to the foreign missionaries, others to the bible societies, or the translation of the bible into the languages of the heathen nations; but another celebrated writer contends that it will be fulfilled by the aerial flight of the missionaries under an advanced state of balloon navigation; but all I have to say about these opinions, is that they carry their own refutation with them, and that the writers should be commended for their fruitful imaginations. But I will venture to say, that the only sensible interpretation of this vision, is that the Lord made known to John, that at some future period, He would send an angel with the holy priesthood to commission His
* Re. xiv, 6, 7.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 105
servants to go to all nations, and people, and preach the gospel to them in its original purity, and gather the honest in heart and good among men from the midst of Babylon, and thus prepare the way for the second advent of the Messiah. Again, if there was no other evidence in the scriptures, that there was to be an apostacy after the days of the apostles, this alone would be sufficient to convince any rational person of this fact: for this reason, the angel was to have the everlasting gospel to preach to all nations, tongues and people, consequently to every society, sect or denomination. But the strength of the evidence is seen in the following: if all Christendom, have legal authority to preach the gospel, and administer the ordinances of it, and are not in a state of apostacy, it would be superfluous for God to send an angel with it to preach to them after they had even legally obeyed it. It would be nonsense for the Lord to undertake to reveal a thing or principle, that the human family are already acquainted with, or to give authority to them that they already possess. To be plain, the Lord knew there would be a great falling away, and that the church would become so corrupt, that He would not acknowledge its authority; therefore, He disclosed to John that in His own due time, He would restore the priesthood in order that His great work may be accomplished. And mark, this gospel is for all people or every society; therefore, all the priests and ministers of the Christian world are to have the gospel preached to them, as a witness that the hour of God's judgment is at hand.
The reader can satisfy himself, that this prophetic vision alludes to the latter-day work, by an examination of the whole chapter from which it is extracted, and from which it will be seen, that the events that are to immediately follow after the appearance of the angel, have not yet transpired: for instance, first, it is said, that when the gospel shall be proclaimed, it shall be said, that the hour of God's judgment or the
106 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
time of recompense is at hand. Paul speaking of the future, says; "Christ shall judge the world at His appearing and kingdom." Secondly, the destruction of Babylon the Great: this was not fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, nor in the first century; for it is a settled point, that this Babylon did not rise or exist until several hundred years after Christ. Thirdly, the harvest of the earth or universal destruction of the wicked: it will be remembered that Christ said, "the harvest is the end of the world." Paul applies the term "end of the world," to the end of the Jewish or Mosaic economy; but I am certain that neither Christ, nor John, allude to this; for John was banished to the Island of Patmos, where he wrote his Revelation, more than twenty years after the destruction of Jerusalem; and the harvest of the earth was one of the things that the angel showed him, which was in the future, and which at once excludes the possibility of its being accomplished at the above destruction; hence, as we know, that it has been fulfilled at no time since, we must look for it in the future. Fourthly, about the time of the down fall of Babylon, and the harvest of the earth, those that have died in the faith of the Lord, are to be resurrected and rewarded; therefore, John was commanded to write thus: "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours: and their works do follow them." Certainly, every rational person will admit that these events are in the future; consequently, it must be admitted that the appearance of the angel is a latterday work.
The following is illustrative of this subject: "And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 107
loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, hurt not the earth neither the sea, nor, the trees, till we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads." *This is certainly most sublime and exquisite, yet directly to the point. John frequently mentions that he saw angels that had power to trouble the earth, and its inhabitants with plagues and destructions; and the four angels mentioned in the above, are represented as having a work of this description to perform. But just at the time they were ready to commence their work of plagues and destruction, the angel with the seal of God appeared, and cried with a loud voice, and commanded them to hold still, or to stay their work until the servants of God were sealed. Now it is evident, that this angel with the seal, and the one that was seen flying in the midst of heaven "having the everlasting gospel to preach," &c., is the same one; and the seal of God, is evidently the holy priesthood, and the gospel connected together. By the authority of the priesthood, as I have before explained, individuals are adopted into the family of God, and thus become fit temples for the reception of the Holy Spirit, by which the apostle says, "We are sealed unto the day of redemption." But by the means of the priesthood, in one sense of the word, the blessings of the gospel of peace are received; therefore, it is plain that the seal, which the angel had, that John saw, is the priesthood; for it is the power to preach the gospel, administer its ordinances, and by which the servants of God are sealed; or in other words, it is the sealing power. Again, if we regard it as a figure, it is a very good one; for the priesthood is conferred by the imposition of hands, and the members of the church are confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost in the same way.
Most certainly the foregoing scripture, is a prediction of
* Re. vii, 1-3.
Ep. iv, 30.
108 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
the restoration of the priesthood just in time for the honest in heart, and those who love the truth to be sealed, and prepared to meet Christ when He comes. John first enumerates a hundred and forty-four thousand that are to be sealed; after this, he saw another company which no man could number, which he says, "are to pass through great tribulation, and wash their robes, and make them pure in the blood of the Lamb." These are the church or people, the Lord will raise up to meet Him when He appears the second time.
The following corroborates the above: "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, come out of her, (that is, Babylon, which is mentioned in the preceding verses,) my people, that ye be not partakers' of her sins, and that ye receive not her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. * From this and the context, we learn that just previous, or at the time of the destruction or downfall of Babylon, the Lord is to raise up a people; or in other words, to call His people out from the sects and parties that compose Babylon the Great, and prepare them to receive Him as follows: "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and so the voice of' any waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying; Alleluia; for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, write, blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, these are the true sayings of God." This harmonizes with Christ's parable of the "marriage of the kings son," in which it is said, that servants were sent to bid men to come to the wedding feast.
* Re. xviii, 4, 5.
Re. xix, 6-9.
See Mat. xxii, 1-14.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 109
It must be admitted, that the "marriage supper of the Lamb," is yet in the future; therefore, the sending of servants to bid guests to come to it, must be a latter-day work.
Now reader, I opine that no unprejudiced person can read the foregoing investigation without being convinced, that the most sanguine expectation of Christ and the apostles, was that there would first be a great "falling away" from the ancient order of the church; but that in the latter-times, the Lord would restore the priesthood, and cause His church to be reorganized, that the before mentioned work may be accomplished. Indeed, is not the evidence incontrovertible, that God made a firm decree that He would do this latter work? -- But we will now see what the prophets have to say about this important transaction.
Nothing could he more plain upon this subject, than the prophetic testimony of Daniel, which is recorded in the second chapter of his "Book." -- The reader will do well to examine the whole chapter; -- I allude to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and Daniel's interpretation of it. -- The prophet opens the subject by saying to the king "There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter-days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these." "Thou, O king, sawest, and, behold, a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee, and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer
110 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
thrashing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." It will be seen from Daniel's interpretation of this, that the different metals of the image stand for noted kingdoms; and it is agreed upon by Daniel, and the learned, that the first which is represented by the gold was the Babylonian empire; the second, by the silver, was the Medo-Persian; the third, by the brass, the Greek or Macedonian; the fourth by the iron, the Roman. It is also agreed upon, that the feet and toes, which are a mixture of iron and clay, represent the various kingdoms that arose upon the ruins of Roman empire, or within the bounds of its dominion. Daniel in the seventh chapter of his "Book," settles this point in a very conclusive way. -- He describes the fourth universal empire, which every modern historian admits to be the Roman, by the figure of a beast which he saw that had ten horns. In the explanation, he says that the, ten horns are ten kings, and it will be remembered that in both Daniel's and John's writings, kings stand for kingdoms; therefore, I set it down as a settled point, that the Roman empire was to be divided into ten different kingdoms, and which are most certainly represented by the toes of the image.
Daniel explains the "stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands," to be a symbolical representation of the kingdom of God, which he says shall destroy all the above kingdoms, fill the whole earth, and stand forever. But now the question to be decided is, at what point of time, was this kingdom to be sat up; or in other words, at what time was this stone of the mountain to commence rolling? The majority of the Christian world hold forth that it commenced at the opening of the Christian dispensation; but the idea is so vague, so far-fetched, and in such direct hostility to what the prophet says, that certainly, no impartial person will for
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 111
a moment receive it: for mark, it is said, the stone was to strike the feet or toes of the image first, or as Daniel explains it: "And in the days of these kings shall, the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." In the days of what kings, I ask, does this allude to? I reply, the ten kingdoms represented by the toes of the image; but they were not in existence as independent kingdoms, at the birth of Christ; or in other words, the feet and toes of the image were not formed at this period: for at this time the Roman empire was at the zenith of its glory, and was not broken up or divided, as above, until more than three hundred years after it; hence, if the stone smote the image in this age, the stroke must have been upon the legs, and not upon the feet as Daniel says.
These ten kingdoms have experienced several revolutions and changes; but the principal part, if not all of them, now exist as the modern kingdoms of Europe. The Government of the United States in one sense of the word, is the offspring of one, of these kingdoms. Indeed, the greatest portion of the emigrants to the New World emigrated from them; consequently, the toes of the image, to a certain extent, reach to this continent; therefore, I see no impropriety in the idea, that the kingdoms which the prophet says, the stone shall smite, are now in existence; and that if God should set the stone in motion, in this our day, it would not conflict with any scripture; but be in exact fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy.
But we will admit for a moment, that the stone commenced rolling at the onset of the Christian era, and see what a curious dilemma we shall place Daniel in, and how senseless our reasoning must necessarily be. First, according to Daniel, this kingdom was to smite the toes and feet of
112 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
the image first; but it could not do this; for as I have already observed, the feet and toes were not formed until more than three hundred years after this date. Secondly, it is said, this kingdom shall not be destroyed or left to other people, but shall stand forever. Here again we are compelled to join issue, with not only Daniel, but many of the prophets, and apostles: for they have positively predicted, as I have before shown, that there would be a general apostacy or "falling away" between the first and second advent of Christ. Indeed, I have before proved to a demonstration, that the Christian world are in a state apostacy and that the kingdom of God has been disorganized; therefore, if we admit that the stone commenced its motion as above, we must also admit that it has been in a manner annihilated. Furthermore, the kingdom that was organized in the days of the apostles, was left to other people; or in other words, a popish hierarchy arose upon its ruins. Thirdly, this stone was to beat fine, or destroy the kingdoms represented by the image, and may I not say, all the kingdoms of the world, so that but one should be left, which is the kingdom of God. And admitting, that it commenced as is before stated, we will now see what progress it has made. The church apparently prospered during the first and second centuries, and the number of its members was greatly increased; after this, the work of apostacy gained ground more rapidly, till at length, the church went into the wilderness, lost its original decorations or gifts and blessings; the Catholic hierarchy arose upon its ruins, which for the time being we will say is the stone of the mountain; but as we trace its course through succeeding ages, we discover that instead of its beating fine all the kingdoms of the world, it took a place in the rank of temporal kingdoms, waged war with some, built up and supported others, and was itself sustained or supported by several of those ten kingdoms; but this is not the only difficulty that
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 113
we are getting the prophet into, -- It continued its course for a while; but contrary to what he says or expected, a barrier happened to be in the way which rent it in twain, (I here allude to the separation of the Greek church from the Latin;) but it partially recovered itself from the shock, and although somewhat maimed, it pursued its course; but alas! it was again forced against an obstacle, which concussion split or rent it into separate parts, and some of these parts were ultimately fractured and torn into atoms; or to be plain, after the famous reformation, the Protestant societies were divided into scores of conflicting sects or factions, and in several instances with them, and also with the Catholics, church and state have been, and are now united, and that too, with the very kingdoms that Daniel says shall be destroyed; and what is still more singular, John the Revelator speaking of those ten kingdoms, says they shall make war with Christ when He comes in Power and in His glory. And it certainly, would be almost an impossibility for them to wage war, without the churches being more or less concerned in it. Indeed, I might enumerate many more difficulties, that we would plunge the prophet into, if we should fix the time for the stone to be set in motion at the commencement of the Christian dispensation; but I will forbear, lest I weary the patience of the reader.
Now the only idea that will in every respect harmonize with what the prophet says, is that the kingdoms, which the toes of the image represent, are now in existence, and that the kingdom of God indicated by the stone of the mountain, is a latter-day work. -- But now for the particular application.
The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, contend that God has sent His angel with the priesthood, which has been conferred upon some of the leading men of the society, and by this means the kingdom of God has been legally organized. We also contend, that America is the land upon which this kingdom was to be first established; and from
114 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
whence the servants of God shall go to all the world, and proclaim the fulness of the everlasting gospel. How exactly this corresponds with Nebuchadnezzar's dream. -- The head of this image was located in Asia; but his feet and toes in Europe; and when we consider that the American nations, are the offspring of the European kingdoms, may I not say, that the toes reach even to this land; hence, here is the place for the stone to be set in motion: and remember, the course of the stone, is to be exactly to the reverse from that of the growth of the image from head to feet. But the force and consistency of the above, will be seen from our remarks hereafter upon the xviii. chap. of Isaiah. -- But perhaps a little explanation as to the manner in which this kingdom was to be established, will be serviceable to the reader.
I have before set forth the manner in which the kingdom of God was organized or established in the days of the apostles; but the Lord foresaw, that it would be disorganized; but He also foretold, that in His own due time, He would re-establish it in order that His great work may be carried into effect. But says one, if this kingdom represented by the stone, is only a reorganization of the one that previously existed, wherein is the impropriety of saying that it was set up at the first appearance of Christ? I answer, that God has had a kingdom on earth, at intervals, ever since the beginning of the world; consequently, the one of the apostolic age, was in a great degree, only a reorganization of one that existed before; therefore, Daniel must not be understood to allude to something entirely new; but to a particular, or specified time when God was to permanently establish His kingdom so that it shall never be destroyed or disorganized. The manner in which this stone is to strike the image; or in other words, the affect that the kingdom of God, will have upon the kingdoms of the world, seems to me to be as follows. This kingdom was to be organized according to the
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 115
example set forth in the New Testament, and of course, at first be disconnected with territory; but as it is a time for the people of God to gather together, in order to prepare for the appearance of Christ, the officers of it, or the Lord's ministers, will go to all the nations of the earth, and especially the kingdoms of Europe, to proclaim the gospel; and they will gather out from them the honest in heart, and sincere lovers of the truth; or to use a favourite maxim of Christ, they will gather out the salt or savers of the earth. This will increase the magnitude of the church, and gradually weaken the kingdoms of the world: for there will not be righteousness enough left among them, to move them from destruction; therefore, the Lord will let loose upon them the arrows of His judgements, and in His hot displeasure vex them so that nation after nation, shall feel the force of His avenging power, and tremble, and ultimately fall to ruin. In the meanwhile, the stone of the mountain will increase in magnitude; the Jews will be awakened at this, take the warning, and flee to Jerusalem, and the land of their fathers, to await the awful crisis. The remaining nations will be alarmed at all this, and consequently, will wage war against them, and succeed in rallying their forces around Jerusalem: at this moment, the heavens will be unveiled, the Son of God shall appear, and save His people, and destroy His enemies, or as John says: "These (ten kingdoms) shall make war with the Lamb and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him, are called, and chosen, and faithful." * Thus the stone of the mountain, will beat the image, and make it fine like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor, and no place shall be found for it. Then Christ will destroy all the regal power of the political kingdoms of the world, subject the earth to himself, and connect territory with His kingdom, which shall
* Re. xvii, 14.
116 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
then fill the whole earth; or in other words, the saints shall possess territory, or inherit the earth; at which time it will be said, the kingdoms of this world, have become the kingdom of Christ. Thus the Millennium, the sabbath of creation, or rest for the people of God, will commence.
Daniel beautifully describes this happy period as follows: "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." In the sequel he says: "But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever." "I beheld the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him." * From this we discover that this latter-day kingdom, was not to be set up until near the close of the reign of the little horn, or the kingdom of popes; and it is also evident that the kingdom of God here alluded to, is the same as the one that is represented by the stone of the mountain. Again, all that Daniel, says about the kingdom of God, perfectly agrees with what John says about the angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to all nations, and people; and therefore, it is evident that they both allude to the same thing.
* Da. vii chap.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 117
I will now invite the attention of the reader to the xviii chap. of Isaiah, which certainly contains an account of a most pleasing view that he had, of not only the establishment of the before mentioned kingdom; but of the place or land upon which it was to be commenced, which he thus describes: "Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia; that sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying go ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to at people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled! All the inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when He lifteth up an ensign upon the mountains; and when He bloweth the trumpet hear ye."
Now any person who is acquainted with the Hebrew language, knows that an improvement in the translation of the above can he made with propriety: -- It should read thus: "Ho! to the land shadowing with (or in the symbol of,) wings, that lies beyond the rivers of Cush. This by no means changes the sense; but reduces it to the modern style of phraseology, which I trust will greatly assist the reader in understanding the true meaning of the prophet.
But now the question is, what land does the prophet address these words to? In order to correctly come at this, we must first consider that the prophet resided at Jerusalem, or somewhere near that city; secondly, to find the land that he speaks of, it is necessary to be certain as to the location of the land of Cush or Ethiopia.
The general name that the Jews gave to all the north-part of Africa was, "the land of Cusheam." Ethiopia proper, is situated south, and south-west of, Egypt, and is now called Abbysinia; but according to Herodotus, the Ethiopian nations were very numerous; and it is evident that the Greeks, and Romans, called the most of. the African nations Ethiopians.
118 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
The writer of the celebrated voyage of Hanno, (which is to be found in Mr. H. Murray's Encyclopedia of Geography,) a Carthagenian navigator who attempted to sail round Africa, gives an account of Ethiopians near the Straits of Gibraltar, or Pillars of Hercules; also that he sailed twelve days along the western coast of Africa, which he says, was then inhabited by Ethiopians, who were very numerous. This coast in now called the coast of Morocco; hence, the ancient Moors were called Ethiopians or Cushites. Indeed, after a careful research into the history of this people, I have come to the following conclusion. -- Cush was the son of Ham, and his progeny, soon after the flood, settled somewhere in the neighborhood of the river Euphrates; but at a very early period, some of them emigrated to Africa, and at first, located somewhere about the head waters of the Nile. According to Josephus, these Ethiopians were a powerful nation in the days of Moses; and also, that they inhabited the country that lies south, and south-west of Egypt; but they were a warlike people and had a great desire for conquest; hence, they soon spread over the north part of Africa: and in consequence of their inhabiting the greatest part of this continent, which was then known to the civilized nations, the Jews called it the land of Cush or Cusheam; but the Greeks, and Romans gave it the general name of Ethiopia, and the people they called Ethiopians, the same as we give the inhabitants of all Europe, the general name of Europeans; although, they are divided into many nations; therefore, it is evident that in the days of Isaiah, the north part of Africa was called Cush, and the rivers that the prophet alludes to, are those that flow into the Mediterranean sea along the coast of the Barbary states; and also those that flow into the Atlantic Ocean along the coast of Morocco. Now I presume that from the foregoing, the reader will readily discover that the prophet alludes to a land that lies directly west of Jerusalem, which
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 119
course strikes the Atlantic somewhere on the coast of Morocco; but still beyond this, is the land in the symbol of wings, which must certainly be America; for this reason, no other land will answer the description of the prophet. Indeed, if the prophet does not speak of this land, then he has wrote a mess of incomprehensible nonsense.
But there is also another view, that may be taken of this subject, which perhaps will reflect new light upon it. The word -| |-| _| Nahar not only means river, but has another signification, which is, light or knowledge. In Isaiah's day, the Carthagenians were the greatest navigators of the world, and it is asserted, that they considered as exclusively theirs, all the Mediterranean sea, west of a line stretched across from Carthago to Sicily, and that they captured all the vessels, and put to death the crews, of all other nations that were found navigating within these forbidden precincts. They were also the first that navigated about the Pillars of Hercules, the south western coast of Europe, and the western coast of Africa. In a word, in these ancient times they had the most extensive knowledge of the sea, coasts, and islands, in these parts, of any other nation; therefore, as the word Nahar signifies light or intelligence as well as river, perhaps, the prophet alludes to a land that is beyond the extreme knowledge of the Ethiopian or Cushite navigators. However, either of the above explanations, makes the idea perfectly plain, that the prophet points to America.
Again, North and South America, as will be seen from a miniature drawing of them on a map, in form and shape, very much resemble the wings of a bird; hence, it is a land in the symbol of wings, and in this respect, no other part of the globe will answer this description of the prophet. Some writers however, contend that the prophet alludes to the eagle with outspread wings upon the American ensign or flag;
120 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
but let this be as it may, the case is equally plain if we take it either way.
"That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, go ye swift messengers of the nations," &c. From this it appears, that ambassadors or the servants of the Lord, are to be sent from this land to the nations of the earth; but the idea of their being transported over the sea in "vessels of Bulrushes," is a novel affair indeed; however, it is probable that the prophet did not intend to convey any such idea. The Hebrew word gomey which is here rendered bulrushes, has at least three significations; the first, is to drink or swallow hastily; the second, is to impress; it is also a general name for certain species of the vegetable kingdom, such as reeds, bulrushes, and papyrus. But in my opinion the second import of the word should be used; for it makes the passage read intelligibly, and seems to convey the intended idea of the prophet. Job speaking of the war horse, says, as it is translated in the bible: "He (yegomey) swalloweth the ground with the fierceness of his rage:" * a horse does not swallow the ground; therefore, it should be rendered, "he impresseth the ground" that is, he maketh pits in the earth with his feet, deep impressions or tracks with his hoof, by which he prevents any retrograde motion; but rusheth or propels himself forward with force, and great velocity; therefore, it is certainly more sensible to read the above, "vessels impressing the face of the waters," instead of "vessels of bulrushes:" for it is not probable that vessels will ever be made of such material to escort the servants of God over the sea.
Indeed, does not the prophet aptly describe our steamvessels or ships: for it is by the action of the wheels upon the water, that propels the vessel swiftly forward; or in other words, the prophet saw in vision swift running, or rushing vessels, that move speedily
* Job. xxxix, 24.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 121
along against the wind and tide. If this is not the meaning of the prophet, then it certainly should be translated "vessels of papyrus." Historians say, that papyrus, is a flaggy shrub that grows in the marshes about the river Nile; the roots and body of it, were anciently used for fuel, and sometimes for timber, for ships or vessels, (such as were used in early times;) the bark was used as a substitute for paper, (which was not then invented,) for weaving apparel, and for ropes and sails for ships; hence, as the prophet saw our land with all the modern improvements; and also, our majestic maritime vessels, with all their sails spread, and the servants of God on board, he called them vessels of papyrus, perhaps, for the want of a better term; for he had probably seen vessels that were propelled by the action of the wind upon papyrus canvass, and those which he saw in vision, resembled them more than any others that he had ever beheld. Either one of the foregoing explanations, makes the subject perfectly plain; but for my own part I prefer the former.
"To a nation terrible from their beginning hitherto," &c. This certainly alludes to the Jews or house of Israel, who were a powerful people at their beginning; but since that, they have been scattered among the nations, and in a manner trodden down. "All the inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when He lifteth up an ENSIGN upon the mountains," &c. An ensign is a flag or banner having on it figures, and emblematical representations of the nation to which it belongs: for instance, when the noble patriots of America, declared themselves a free and independent people, they hoisted an ensign, upon which was inscribed an appropriate motto, which they carried with them into the field of battle, where they manfully maintained their cause. This ensign was a new one; hence, it signified, that a new nation had, or was just in the act of taking its place in rank of political governments. Therefore, this ensign of
122 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
the Lord, implies nothing more nor less, than His kingdom established on this land, figuratively speaking, with its flag, the banner of truth or the gospel, held up to the world, which plainly indicates, not only its character, but shows that God has established a rallying point for His people: or in short, as the prophetic vision rolled before the prophet's mind, he saw the establishment of the kingdom of God in the latter-days upon this continent, from whence the servants of the Lord shall go, and proclaim the fullness of the everlasting gospel to all the nations of the earth. This corresponds with my previous dissertation upon what Daniel says about the "stone of the mountain." Mr. Jackson a Jew by birth, and an excellent Hebrew scholar, and also the editor of a periodical called "The Jew," says, while discoursing upon this vision of Isaiah, that the work of God, will commence in America, that will ultimately effect the restoration of the house of Israel, and prepare the way for the appearance of the Messiah. And to me, the subject is perfectly plain; therefore, I set it down as a fact, which is incontrovertible, that the Lord has foretold by Isaiah, that he would first organize His kingdom in the latter-days upon this land.
The prophet after speaking of this ensign, illustrates by figures, the awful destruction, and calamity that will come upon the wicked soon after this kingdom is organized, and the messengers or servants of the Lord are sent to the nations, which harmonizes with what John says, in the latter part of the xiv chap. of his Revelation. The prophet concludes by saying, that a people that were "scattered and trodden down," shall be brought to Zion, for a present to the Lord.
Isaiah speaks of this ensign in another place thus "And He will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold they shall come with speed swiftly." * The reader will see, by an
* Is. v, 26.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 123
examination of the context, that the above is a latter-day work, which is evident from the fact, the ensign is to be first raised, and then the work that is to follow immediately after, is the gathering of the house of Israel from their dispersed condition. But it is evident, that the prophet does not allude to any ensign, that ever was, or will be, first lifted up at Jerusalem: for this reason, he says it was to be lifted up "from far," that is, upon some distant land. He certainly would not have said this of anything that was to transpire in his own neighborhood.
Thus far I have commented upon the evidence, that I have presented, upon somewhat of an extensive scale, in order to settle the question with regard to the place where the kingdom of God of the last days, was to be established, and thus to lay a good foundation for my argument; but hereafter, I shall comment upon the testimony in a more general way. Indeed, a prospect of more volubility than I desire at present, admonishes me to pursue this course.
In order for the reader to comprehend or understand, the various passages of scripture which I shall hereafter insert as evidence, he should bear in mind one important fact, which is, that when Christ made His appearance the first time, He did not gather the Israelites that were then dispersed, neither did He restore the kingdom to them. Although, the most sanguine expectation of the Jews, and even of the apostles at the onset of their calling, was that He would do it; but the Jews as a nation rejected Him, after which He said to them: "How oft would I have gathered you, as a hen gather her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." "Behold, your house shall be left unto you desolate." "Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Instead, of gathering them at that time, He transfered His spiritual kingdom to the Gentiles; but said of the Jews: "They shall fall by the
124 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." The apostles interrogated Him thus: "Lord wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" His answer was: "It is not for you to know the times and seasons, which the Father has put in His own power." This shows that the apostles were not called to go and gather Israel; therefore, all the predictions of the prophets that relates to their general restoration, and the re-establishment of the kingdom with them, were not fulfilled in the days of the apostles; but will be in the latter-days. -- But I must hasten.
Isaiah in the xi chap. of his prophecy, is very plain upon this subject; after speaking of the triumphant appearance of Christ, he says, that the wolf and the lamb shall dwell together, the lion eat straw like the ox, and that nothing shall hurt or destroy in all the Lord's holy mountain; also that the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. He then tells how all this shall be brought about, which is as follows: "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and His rest shall be glorious." The servants of the Lord will proclaim to all nations, that Christ is the Saviour of mankind, and that He is the founder of this kingdom that I have been speaking about; therefore, they will hold Him up as an ensign, to all the world, and many out of all nations, will be inducted into this kingdom, and thus place themselves under His protection.
The prophet thus proceeds: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shiner, and from Hamath, and
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 125
from the Islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." We know when the Lord set His hand the first time to establish His people upon their land; but the question is, when did or will He, do it the second time? It certainly was not done at the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, because they were not then gathered "from the four corners of the earth;" neither were the outcasts, or ten tribes of Israel, who were taken away as captives by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, and located in the cities of the Medes, restored at that time: for Josephus, who flourished sometime after the birth of Christ, says they had not then returned. And we know that He did not do it, at the commencement of the Christian dispensation: for He pronounced a woe upon them, and their city; and also said, they should be carried captive into all nations; therefore, the above must be received as a prediction of the establishment of the kingdom. of God, and gathering of Israel in the last days. Indeed, the fact that it is to immediately precede the happy day of rest or Millenium, when the knowledge of God shall cover the earth, establishes this idea beyond doubt.
The following shows that in the execution of this majestic work, mighty miracles will be performed: "And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with His mighty wind shall He shake His hand over the river, and smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dry shod. And there shall be an highway for the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like, as it was to Israel in the day that He came up out of the land of Egypt."
But says one, if the Latter-day Saints, are called of God to assist in the performance of the above work, why not go to the Israelites immediately with this boon of consolation,
126 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
and not disturb the quiet of the Gentiles, who are so prejudiced against it? The following serves as an answer to this: "Thus saith the Lord God, behold, I will lift my hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders." * It will be seen from the context, that the prophet is here speaking of the work, that is to effect the restoration of Israel. Indeed, the whole chapter is most sublime, and positive upon this important subject. But according to the above quotation, the Lord was to first lift up His hand to the Gentiles; or in other words, He was to organize His kingdom among them. The idea is, that it was to be vice versa from what it was at the opening of the Christian dispensation, whereas then, the work was commenced among the Jews, that is, Christ called His apostles from among them, offered to give them the kingdom, sent His disciples to preach the gospel to them; and in a word, He lifted up His ensign to them; but they refused to rally around it, or to enlist in His cause; therefore, it was taken to the Gentiles, who were ultimately benefited by it: for said Paul: "Seeing ye count yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." But the Lord was to commence His work of the last days among the Gentiles, raise up servants, and send them to all the nations, to preach the gospel, and warn them of the important events that are to immediately transpire; and as soon as this is done, He will send His servants to the scattered tribes of Israel, and thus they will be brought to a knowledge of the truth, and ultimately restored to their legal inheritance, and thus be benefited by this work, which is agreeable to what our Saviour said: "The first shall be last, and the last first."
There is no necessity for anything more positive than the following: "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the
* Is. xlix, 22.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 127
Lord, that it shall no more be said, the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks." * So great and majestic will be the work of the Lord, and so marvellous the deliverance of the house of Israel, that they, in order to extol the power of God, will not refer to His works and miracles, that He performed when He delivered them from Egyptian bondage; but to the power and majesty, that He will display in restoring them from the north country, and all parts of the earth. The fishers and hunters, alluded to, are certainly the servants of God; and mark, they are to be called, and sent by Him, and not by men.
Peter while preaching to the Jews, alluded to this important work in the following words: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive (retain) until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." It appears from this, that just before Christ comes the second time, He will commence the work of restoration. In the apostolic age, the Jews were dispersed; but just before Christ comes, they shall be gathered together again. The church has apostatized, and thus corrupted the priesthood; but the prophets that Peter refers to, have said that it should be re-
* Je. xvi, 14-16.
(Ac. iii, 19-21.
128 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
stored; or in other words, they have predicted that which implies it. Indeed, I infer from the above, that Peter was aware that God would do a great work in the latter-days; and also, that Christ shall come at the time this work of restoration is going on, and finish it.
Paul speaks of this work thus: "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 hath 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 the heaven and which are on earth, in Him." * I presume by this time, the reader has no doubt but that God has yet a majestic work to perform, a portion of which is to gather all His saints together, from all parts of the world; therefore, admitting the apostle alludes to the gospel dispensation, and as he knew, there would be a general "falling away;" consequently, he must refer to the renewal of it, that the great work of God may be carried into execution: and it will be remembered, that the Latter-Day Saints, do not contend for something altogether new in this respect; but for a renewal of the above dispensation.
I have now arrived to the proper place for the introduction of the subject of the Book of Mormon, that is, the evidence by which it is sustained; a synopsis of which, I intend to give. And although, it is inseparably connected with the subject, that the attention of the reader has latterly been called to; but not being partial to long chapters, I close this one here, and shall commence a new one with the above subject.
* Ep. i, 8-10.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 129
Evidence to sustain the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon -- Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the Blessings Bestowed upon the Members of it, &c. -- Zion for the Millennium -- Gathering of the House of Israel, and the Restoration of the Priesthood to them -- Second Advent of Christ -- Resurrection of the Dead Millennium, &c., &c.
It would be unreasonable for me to attempt, to present to the reader all the evidence that there is to sustain the authenticity of this Book, in the narrow space that I have in this work to devote to it: for it would require volumes larger than this to contain it; therefore, I shall only present in a very brief manner, some of the most important parts of it. -- But I will first give a historical sketch of the manner in which it was discovered; of what people it is a history, and of the doctrine it inculcated.
This Book was discovered to Mr. Joseph Smith, about A.D., 1827, by the agency of an angel: from this to 1830, he
130 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
occupied a good portion of his time in translating it, in which year it was published to the world. It contains a history of a people that were Israelites of the tribe of Joseph, who emigrated from Jerusalem to this continent about six hundred years before Christ. The account runs thus. A short time before the Babylonish captivity, the Lord commanded a man by the name of Lehi, who was a righteous or just person, to lead his own family, and another one by the name of Ishmael, out of Jerusalem, promising them, that He would direct them to a choice and good land. This command was obeyed, and the company at length reached the shore of the ocean, where they were directed by the Lord to build a ship of sufficient dimensions to transport them over the sea. After every thing was made ready, they set sail, and in a reasonable length of time, they safely landed upon this land. Lehi had several sons; but soon after they came here a separation took place between them, and in process of time they became two powerful nations, who were called Lamanites and Nephites; the former took their name from Laman the eldest son of Lehi; and the latter, from Nephi his third son. The Lamanites were a stubborn and warlike people, and of a roving disposition; the present aborigines of this continent, are their progeny. The Nephites were agriculturists, and a civilized people, who built splendid cities; and also, large temples and spacious edifices, in which they held public worship. The remains of these cities and temples, are to be seen in Central America, and elsewhere, in both the north and south parts of the continent; the discovery of which has excited the curiosity and astonishment of the learned so much of late.
The Nephites at times were faithful to God, at others, they were rebellious. The Book of Mormon, is an abridgement of the writings of the prophets, and good men of this people, and gives an account of their religion, some of their revelations, their wars with the Lamanites, and also their final
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 131
overthrow as a nation. But the manner in which this book was preserved, is as follows.
In the latter part of the fourth century, the Nephites began to rapidly degenerate into apostacy, and the Lord foreseeing their final destruction, commanded Mormon, who was one of their prophets, to collect together the sacred writings of their former prophets, and to compile them, and engrave an abridgement of them upon metalic plates or tablets, (which was the material they used for writing upon). He however, was slain by his enemies before the completion of this work; consequently, it fell into the hands of his son Moroni, who saw the entire destruction of the Nephites by the hands of the Lamanties; and also finished writing or engraving this work, and then prepared a safe and convenient place, in which he deposited it with the expectation, and indeed, with a promise from the Lord, that it should be brought to light in the latter-days, for an important purpose.
This record was deposited in an archive prepared for it on a hill that was anciently called Cumora, now in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, New York; where it remained in safety, until it was discovered to Mr. Smith, as I have already mentioned, who translated it into the English language, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, (a similar instrument to the one that is mentioned in the former part of this work,) and the power of God. For other particulars concerning the manner in which this Book has been brought before the public, I refer the reader to the Book itself, and other works in which an elaborate account of the whole transaction is given.
This Book contains no new code of morals nor any new gospel or doctrine; but in this respect perfectly harmonizes with the bible. It however, contains several prophecies concerning the work of the Lord in the latter-days, that are new and interesting to us, yet they do not conflict with the bible.
132 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
The historical part of it, differs from that of the bible, because it is a history of a different nation or branch of the house of Israel.
The utility of this Book, or rather, the objects, the Lord had in view in bringing it to light, are as follow. First, it reveals or brings to light many important things that were before hid in the labyrinth of mystery and darkness, which will help to fill up the library of sacred intelligence, that is to deluge the earth, as the water does the sea. Secondly, it reveals an important fact, which is that the aborigines of this continent are Israelites, so that when the fishers and hunters, that Jeremiah mentions, are sent to gather Israel, may know that they are a branch of this people. Isaiah says, that when the Lord shall make an everlasting covenant with the house of Israel: "Their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: and all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed that the Lord hath blessed." * Many of the Israelites are mixed with the Gentiles; therefore, how are they to be designated, so that the Gentiles shall know that they are of that race? I reply, that the only way of doing it, is by revelation from the Lord. Indeed, the Book of Mormon, is intended to be of particular benefit to the Red men of the forest: for it will in the due time of the Lord, be taken to them; and thus they shall have a knowledge of their origin, and many prophecies that relate to their conversion, which with the attendant power of God, will have a most desirable effect upon them, and cause them to lay down their weapons of warfare, and to engage in the service of God. Thirdly, this Book contains the testimony of a nation or people that inhabited this land, who affirm that Christ is the Son of God or true Messiah. This people at the time this testimony was written, were secluded from the oriental nations, without any means of communication, which
* Is. lxi, 8, 9.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 133
rendered it impossible for them to form any collusion; therefore, as the Book of Mormon is well authenticated, by not only scriptural and internal evidence, but by the testimony of thousands of living witnesses, who are persons of undoubted veracity, when the servants of God go to Israel, and even to the heathen nations that do not believe in Christ, it will be of great service to them, because it and the bible contain the testimony of two nations widely separated from each other, agreeing to one thing, and that is, to the truth of the Christian religion: "By the mouth of two or three witnesses, shall every word he established." Certainly, the testimony of two nations, is better than one, especially when they perfectly agree. In a word, the effect that this Book is intended to have, is this, it is to be an instrument in the hand of God, to convince Israel, and others, that Christ is the true Messiah, and to cause Zion's watchmen to see eye to eye, and all the honest followers of Christ to believe, know, see, and practice alike. And any person, who says that a belief in it tends to, or even does, have any other effect upon its advocates than the above, shamefully misrepresents it. Other causes may influence individuals to do wrong; but such causes, are abstract from the bible, or Book of Mormon.
The following are the principal objections that are urged against this work; first, that it contains a new gospel; but every person that has ever read this Book, knows this to be false; therefore, it is no objection, because it is founded upon nothing but an imagination. Secondly, that the bible contains all the revelations, and inspired writings that God ever intended the human family should have; or in other words, that the canon of the scriptures is full; therefore, we need no more. This idea, is one of the greatest pieces of ignorance and bigotry, that pretended Christians, have ever favoured us with. Whoever has carefully read the scriptures, knows that the prophets, and apostles, refer to several inspired books
134 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
that are not in the bible; such, for instance, as the Book of Gad the Seer, of Nathan the prophet, of Shemeiah the prophet, Visions of Iddo the Seer, &c., &c. Indeed, if we credit the scriptures, we must believe that God never gave any unnecessary revelations, and also, that but a portion of them have been perpetuatad to us; therefore, the idea that the bible contains all the sacred writings that God intends His people shall ever possess, is only fit for a bigot to amuse a silly multitudes with. Thirdly, it is argued from the following, that no revelations were to be given after the days of the apostles: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." * John only refers to his Book of Revelation, and not to the bible: for at this time, the New Testament writings were not compiled; and it is probable he had never seen them all. If he by this expression debarred God of the privilege of giving a revelation, or any person of the right of receiving one, and of writing by inspiration, then the curse must have fallen upon himself; for it is a historical fact, that he wrote his three Epistles, and Gospel, after this. But if we adopt this as a rule by which we reject all revelations, and inspired writings after John, then by the same rule, we must discard nearly all the bible: for both Moses and Soloman, have given a similar commandment. The Book of Mormon, is no addition to John's Revelation; but like any other book, it is independant by itself; therefore, it does not in the least conflict with John. Certainly, there are no reasonable objections against this Book to be found: men may fancy them; but they are instantaneously put to flight, when the brilliancy of truth is brought to bear upon them, like the rebellious rabble before the mighty host of warriors.
* Re. xxii, 18.
See De. iv, 2: and Pro. xxx, 6.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 135
Now the contents of this Book, are not so much objected to, as the miraculous manner in which it was brought to light, and indeed, this is the uniform objection that has ever been urged against all the great and marvellous works of God: for it is the disposition of man, to credit a thing so far as God has nothing to do with it; but when it borders on the miraculous, then it becomes odious to him: for this reason, the Greek philosophers regarded the idea of the resurrection of Christ as foolishness. Again, the Jews at times found no particular difficulty in believing in the prophets, and their testimony, who were dead and gone; but with wanton cruelty, they oppressed, and persecuted those that were cotemporary with them. Christ and His disciples were dispised in their day; but now it is a disgrace not to believe in them. But if God should send an apostle or prophet, to the Christian world in this our day, he would meet with scorn, and abuse from every quarter. Indeed, if the apostle Paul who has so many fine chapels and churches named after him, should disguise his person, appear and preach the same doctrine, believe in immediate revelation, the administration of angels, exhort the people to contend for the same spiritual gifts, and to earnestly contend for the same faith, in our own times, that he did in his day, he would be denied the privilege of even standing upon their steps, much. less in their fine pulpits, to proclaim his sentiments.
Again, we are very apt to say that God done many marvellous works some thousands of years ago, and will perhaps, do the like at some period hence; but nothing of the kind in our day or generation. But why not these things be done in our time, if the occasion calls for them, as well as before or after? Reader, let us lay aside all our bigotry, our superstition, our prejudice, our creeds, our delusions, our sectarianism, our fears, our unbelief, and our partyisms, and thus untrammel our sober senses, and then, under the consideration
136 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
that God is the same in all ages, our reply to the above question will be, that it is just as reasonable for us to believe that God will do such things now as at any other time, and that a belief in the present, an immediate performance of these things, should be no more diffcult for our capacities to digest than in those past or future. But now add to this the incontestible fact, that God has foretold by His prophets that in the latter-days, He would do a miraculous or majestic work, and where is any room left for doubt. -- But now for the evidence by which this work is sustained, a synopsis of which, I intend to give.
Now the most important class of evidence by which the authenticity of this work is established, is the predictions of the prophets, relative to a thing of the kind. When we succeed in adducing an overwhelming amount of testimony of this character, then all that will remain to be authenticated, is whether or not this Book, is the one the prophets allude to, or a forgery, which can only be determined by its effects, also by circumstances, its internal evidence, and the testimony of living witnesses; when all these return a verdict in its favour, then it is established beyond successful contradiction, and entitled to the full confidence of the community. But slander, sarcasm, disgusting epithets, shameful misrepresentation, traducing of character, persecution, mobs, wanton denunciations from the pulpit, the cry of delusion, fanaticism, Mormonism, false prophets, and imposture, is no argument to countermand anything that is sustained by the above evidence. -- But I must hasten.
In order to sustain the authenticity of this Book, I shall first prove that America was inhabited by a civilized nation more than a thousand years ago; secondly, that this people together with the Indians of the forest, were and are, the progeny of Joseph; thirdly, that it was not only their privilege to receive revelations from the Lord and write them, but
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 137
that they did do it; fourthly, that these sacred writings were to be preserved, and be brought forth by the power of God, and be instrumental in commencing His great work, which shall affect the restoration of the house of Israel.
The recent discoveries of American antiquities, such as the remains of once splendid cities, spacious temples and edifices, and extensive quantity of hieroglyphics, catacombs, obelisks, acquaducts, viaducts, &c., &c., is sufficient to convince any rational person that a nation existed upon this continent anterior to its discovery by Columbus, who were enlightened, and understood arts and sciences to no inconsiderable extent; however, this is a matter of public notoriety, and admitted by all the learned of the age. A celebrated writer, speaking of the antiquity of one of these cities that lies near Palenque, remarks: "In surveying its ruins, the traveller is led to believe that it was founded at as early a period as the renowned cities of Egypt." "The antiquity of this city is manifest not only from its nameless hieroglyphics and other objects; but from the age of some of the trees growing over the buildings where once the hum of industry and voice of merriment were heard. The concentric circles of some of these trees were counted, which showed that they were more than nine hundred years of age." Again, if this people possessed the power, or understood the art of writing their thoughts, it is quite probable that they wrote a history of their national affairs, if not of their religion.-But I shall now show that they were Israelites.
The reader will doubtless remember that it was customary with the ancient patriarchs previous to their death, to collect their children together, and lay their hands upon them, and bless them with a patriarchal blessing, and predict what was to befall them, and their posterity in future ages. For this purpose, Jacob collected his twelve sons around him, and blessed them as above; but when he placed his hands upon
138 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
Joseph's head, he said: "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breast and of the womb: the blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separated from his brethren." * It must be admitted that this blessing relates to a temporal inheritance, as well as to the blessing of heaven; but we will examine it specifically; first, Joseph was to be like a bough by a well and his branches or posterity were to run over the wall. This is a comparison to show the fruitfulness of Joseph, and that his branches should become numerous, and extend over some supposed limits or given boundary; but match with this what David says about Joseph, whom he also, compares to a vine, and it makes the subject plain. "Thou prepardest room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like goodly cedars; she sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches into the river." From this we learn that the tribe of Joseph, after they were located in the land of Canaan, were to increase to an astonishing rate, and their branches to extend beyond the given boundary of their inheritance in that land, and reach unto the sea; also that his blessing prevailed above or was greater, and reached beyond the blessing of Jacob's ancestors, who
* Ge. xlix, 22-26.
Ps. lxxx, 9-11.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 139
were Abraham, and Isaac, and the inheritance they ceded to him as a blessing, was the land of Canaan. Indeed, it is abundantly evident that Joseph, was to have a land, not only beyond Canaan, but one larger than it is. Furthermore, his blessing, or rather his branches in fulfilment of it the above, were to extend to the utmost bound or most distant hills, (of course from where Jacob then stood.) Thus we discover, that the branches of Joseph were to extend, or emigrate to the most distant hills of the earth. The foregoing is a prophetic history of Joseph's progeny, which traces them to Canaan where they became numerous, and from thence, branches of them extended to the most distant part of the earth, where they have inhabited the land, that Jacob promised them, which is even greater than that which was given to him by his fathers.
Now this prophecy must apply to America, its ancient inhabitants, and present aborigines; for the most obvious reason, it cannot be with any propriety applied any where else. But we will now turn back to the xlviii chap. of Genesis, in which we shall find something that is still more positive. -- Jacob blessed Joseph's sons, and thus predicted what should happen to them or their posterity in future ages: "And now thy two sons Ephraim and Manasseh," "are mine: as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine." "And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly." "And he blessed Joseph and said," "the angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth." "And Joseph said unto his father, not so, my father; for this is the first born; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know
140 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations." When we put the sense of the above together, we discover that Ephraim and Manassah, were to grow into a multitude of nations in the midst of the earth. Now let the learned search from one extremity of the earth to the other, to find where this prophecy has been fulfilled, and when they are done, they will be obliged to admit that nothing of the kind ever transpired upon any part of the Old world. Indeed, Jacob aptly describes the present condition of the American Indians: for they are divided into several hundred different tribes or nations; in a word, they are a multitude of nations in the midst of the earth.
It is said in the v. chap. of 1 Chro., that in consequence of the transgression of Reuben, the birth-right fell to the sons of Joseph; therefore, Jacob named his name upon them, commit them to the charge of his guardian angel, and conferred the greatest blessing upon them, with regard to a temporal inheritance; and certainly, under the consideration that Joseph was to have a land even larger than Canaan at the extremity of the earth, is not the evidence conclusive, that this delightful land, is a land of promise to the progeny of Joseph.
Moses while blessing this tribe, or rather while prophecying concerning them, says; "Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, and for the precious fruits of the earth," &c. * The prophet Hosea speaking of the children of Ephraim says: "When the Lord shall roar, they shall tremble from the west." This at once settles the point that the Ephramites were to inhabit a land somewhere west of Palestine; but we cannot find them in any age to a multitude of nations, either in Europe or Africa; hence, the
* De. xxxiii, 13-17.
Ho. xi, 10.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 141
rational conclusion must follow, which is that the foregoing predictions relate to a branch of the tribe of Joseph upon this continent.
Christ said on a certain occasion: "I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." This shows that His mission in person was exclusively to the Israelites. But with a view of executing it, He said at another time: "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." * Some suppose that this alludes to the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles; but this cannot be: for this reason, Christ was to visit the people that He alluded to in person, and they were to hear His voice. The Book of Mormon accounts for this singular declaration by recording the fact, that Christ after His resurrection, visited the people upon this continent, proclaimed to them the same gospel that He did to the Jews, commissioned individuals to preach it to the people throughout the land, and to establish His church. Thus the people upon this land, and the primitive Christians of the Old world, had one universal fold, and but one shepherd. One of the prophets, while speaking of the glorious effects of the work of the Lord in the latter-days, says: "From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering." In the preceding chapter, we settled the point with regard to the land that lies beyond the rivers of Ethiopia; therefore, I only add, that the above alludes to the Israelites upon this continent. -- But according to promise, I will now prove that the above people received revelations from the Lord.
Paul said in his discourse to the Athenians "And (God) hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth, (of course America not excepted;)
* Jno. x, 16.
Zeph. iii, 10.
142 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if happily they might feel after Him, and find Him though He be not far from every one of us." * It is plain from this, that it is the privilege of all nations to seek after the Lord, and find Him, or to receive immediate information from Him. But I again cite the reader to Jacob's prediction concerning the posterity of Joseph, in which he said, that God would bless them with the blessings of heaven. Moses makes a similar declaration, which must allude, to the Spirit of prophecy, and other Spiritual blessings which they were to receive. The gospel is certainly a precious thing from heaven.
Now if this people received the Spirit of prophecy, it was their privilege to write their predictions, which they most certainly did do: for Hosea, speaking of the Ephraimites by the Spirit of prophecy, says: "I have written to him the great things of my law; but they were counted as a strange thing." This is indeed very plain -- as I have before observed, the Book of Mormon is intended to particularly benefit the Ephraimites or aborigines of this continent; and it is surely regarded as a very strange thing. But, admitting this people had a sacred record as I have before intimated, the question now is, whether or not it was to be preserved and brought to light in the last days? David says: "The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever."
The following is definite: Ezekiel after describing a vision that he had of the resurrection of the dead, commences a new subject by saying: "The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, moreover thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, for Judah, and for the children of
* Ac. xvii, 26, 27.
He. viii, 12.
Ps. vii, 6, 7.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 143
Israel his companions: then take another stick and write upon it, for Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand: and when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by these? I say unto them, thus saith the Lord God, behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and they shall be one in mine hand." * In order to understand the above, the reader should keep in mind, that the prophet in several of the preceding chapters wholly dwells upon the subject of the restoration of Israel, and the ushering in of the Millennium; but in this, he tells how it was to commence. -- First, he was commanded to present to his brethren two sticks with writings upon them, one for Judah, and the other for Joseph in the hands of Ephraim; and when we consider that it was an, ancient custom of the Jews to write their works upon parchments, and roll them upon sticks, we conclude that these must be regarded as samples which represent two important books or writings. Then follows the prediction, which explains the matter. "Thus saith the Lord God; behold, I will take the stick of Joseph which is in the hand of Ephraim, and place it with the stick of Judah and they shall become one in mine hand." The stick of Judah evidently stands for the bible, and that of Joseph for the Book of Mormon; and mark, the latter was to be brought forth by the power of God, and placed with the former. In a word, this Book has been brought to light, in exact fulfilment of this prophecy, and is one, or agrees with the bible, as far as testimony to important truths and doctrine, is concerned.
* Eze. xxxvii, 15-19.
144 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
The prophet continues the subject as follows: "Thus saith the Lord God, behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all, and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms, any more at all." Indeed, it is plain from this, that the union of the two sticks or books, was to be the commencement of the work, that will ultimately effect the gathering of Israel. How completely this agrees with all that is said, in the preceding chapter. -- The stone of the mountain was to commence its motion upon this land. The ensign of the Lord was to be raised here, His kingdom organized, and His ambassadors or messengers were also to be sent from the same place. This Book, as I infer from the foregoing, was to come forth here at the commencement of this majestic work of God, and be an instrument in His hand, to do much towards the accomplishment of His purposes. Surely, all these prophecies form a connected chain of testimony that cannot be broken, for all agree to one thing. -- But more of this hereafter.
It is plain from what Ezekiel says in the latter part of the above chapter, that this is a work of the last days; for he says, that when Israel are gathered, one king shall rule over them, and that they shall never be divided or dispersed again, neither shall they sin nor defile themselves any more forever; also that God shall make an everlasting covenant with them, and that His tabernacle and sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forever more. Certainly, no intelligent person will pretend to say all of this has been fulfilled.
David while speaking of the restoration of the house of Israel, thus observes: "Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 145
shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good: and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before Him, and shall set us in the way of His steps." * Christ said: "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth;" thus the word of the Lord and truth are synonymous; therefore, we learn from the above that truth was to spring up out of the earth, and heaven at the same time be propitious: and that which was to immediately follow, is the setting of Israel in the way of the Lord's steps. In short, in the above, the Psalmist aptly describes the Book of Mormon.
We will now turn to the xxix chap. of Isaiah, which is certainly very conclusive upon this important subject. -- He first speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem, which he uses as a comparison to show what awful calamities, and judgments, will come upon the nations that fight against Zion: (he here alludes to the Zion of the latter-days.) He then describes the condition the of Jews and Gentiles, after the above destruction, down to this day, thus: "Stay yourselves and wonder, cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the sears hath He covered." This is a very accurate description of the condition of both the Jews and Gentiles at the present time. They are drunk with their own folly, and superstition, they also deny immediate revelation or inspiration; therefore, the Lord has ceased to raise up prophets among them, and in a word, a spiritual darkness hovers over them, comparatively like that of Egypt, or as the prophet says: "Darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people." But in the midst of this darkness, or rather at the time it reigned so predominant,
* Ps. lxxxv, 10-13.
146 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
this astonishing Book was to be brought forth, as follows: "And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed which men deliver to one that is learned, saying read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot for it is sealed: and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouths, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their hearts far from me, (this has been a common complaint against the Jews, not only in the days of Christ but ever since,) and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." All that I have to say about the above prediction, is that the Book of Mormon has been brought to light in exact fulfillment of it, and that it is the commencement of a marvellous, and wonderful work of God, which shall produce the following astonishing effects. The deaf shall hear the words of this Book, the blind shall see out of obscurity and darkness; the meek shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel;" the house of Israel are to be redeemed or converted to the Lord, so that they shall "sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and fear the God of Israel:" and to crown the climax, this Book is to cause "those that err in spirit to come to understanding, and those that murmur to learn doctrine."
Any person who will carefully read the Book of Mormon, will find internal evidence, (I mean positive predictions that are being fulfilled daily,) that is sufficient to entitle it to the credit of the most incredulous. But for the testimony of living witnesses, I refer the reader to the latter part of the Book itself, where you will find as definite an affirmation
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 147
to the truth of the work, as the prophets and apostles ever made in attestation of the important truths which they proclaimed.
Soon after this Book was discovered, the Lord sent His angel with the Holy priesthood, which was conferred upon Mr. Smith, and O. Cowdery who as a scribe assisted in the work of translation: they immediately baptized each other, and also others that believed the work. On the sixth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty, the church, which then consisted of but six members, was organized. Some of these were ordained to the ministry, who immediately commenced proclaiming the fulness of the everlasting gospel, baptizing, and organizing branches of the church. Indeed, the work commenced to spread rapidly, and has continued to do so ever since, and thousands have been gathered into the fold of Christ, not only in the United States; but in the Canadas, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and elsewhere.
As soon as the church was organized as above, the Lord began to bestow His Holy Spirit upon the faithful; and some were blessed with the ministry of angels, others had heavenly visions, the sick were healed, and evil spirits cast out by faith in the name of Christ. Indeed, the Lord has not only restored the priesthood; but the gifts of the Spirit, and blessings of the gospel of peace.
As respects the officers of the church, -- I will here say, that they correspond in every particular with those of primitive times; and in a word, God has restored the ancient order of His kingdom, and commenced to prepare the way for His second advent. -- But as prophetic declarations concerning the establishment of Zion for the Millennium abound throughout the scriptures, I deem it prudent to make a few observations upon the same, in order to do honour to the cause of God, and to connect the subject-matter of my history together.
148 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
The Psalmist says: "Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and the favour of the dust thereof." "When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in His glory." "This shall be written for the generation to come, and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord." * The Mount Zion at Jerusalem, was in existence at the time David wrote this psalm; therefore, he must refer to some other zion besides it; for the appearance of the Lord in His glory is yet in the future. Christ speaks of His coming in great glory, and with His angels, at the end of the world. John, while speaking of things he saw in the future, says: "I saw the Lamb of God standing, upon Mount Zion with a hundred and-forty-four thousand of His saints," &c.: and mark David says, "when the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory;" hence I contend that he alludes to a Zion to be built up just before Christ comes. The saying, "this shall be written for a generation to come," &c., carroborates this idea. David, speaking of this city in another place, says: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." Again, he speaks of this city as being located somewhere in the fields of the wood or wilderness. I have before proved that the xviii chap. of Isaiah, is addressed to this continent; and as he speaks of the establishment of Zion in connection with the setting up of the ensign of the Lord, I infer that this land is the place where it shall be located. But according to David, it is to situated on the sides of the north; match this with what Isaiah says, and then it is plain, that Zion is to be located somewhere in North America. What is said about the fields of the wood, is an exact description of the natural fields, or the beautiful
* Ps. cii, 13-18.
Ps. xlviii, 2.
Ps. cxxxii, 6.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 149
praries that abound in the central part of the continent; therefore, I conclude that Zion is to be located near the center of North America. It is said in the Book of Mormon, that Zion or the New Jerusalem, shall be built upon this land.
Now the matter stands thus, the Jews or tribe of Judah and others, will return to Palestine, and rebuild Jerusalem, which is situated near the center of the eastern continent; but upon this, the Lord will cause the New Jerusalem or Zion to be built, to which the tribe of Joseph and the saints that receive the gospel among the Gentiles, will gather or emigrate. Joel, speaking of the great and notable day of the Lord, says: "In Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, there shall be deliverance for those that call upon the name of the Lord." Thus these cities will be places of refuge or safety for the saints, when the Lord pours out His fury upon Babylon the Great, and the wicked in general.
The following shows that Zion and Jerusalem, were to be located upon two separate lands: "For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof, as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed forsaken: neither shall thy land any more be termed desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." *Now it is said, that when the Lord created the earth, He gathered the waters unto one place; therefore, the earth could not have been split up into islands and continents, as it now is. It is also said,
* Is. lxii, 1-4.
150 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
that in the days of Peleg, the earth, (not the human family,) was divided. It is probable that in his day some mighty convulsion of the earth took place, which rent it in twain; but when Christ comes there will be a general time of restoration; consequently, the two continents will be brought together, and thus the land of Zion, will be joined to the land of Jerusalem. Indeed, prophetical declarations about this Zion, abound throughout the writings of the prophets; but for the want of room, I am obliged to omit inserting them.
I presume the reader is by this time, convinced that America is a promised land to the tribe of Joseph; therefore, the mountains of this land are the mountains of Israel, as much so, as those of Canaan; and if any of the Israelites should gather to Zion, they would not do that which would in any respect conflict with what Ezekiel says, about Israel being made one nation upon the mountains of Israel. In short, the Lord's ensign was to be raised, the Book of Mormon or a record of the tribe of Joseph brought forth here, and Zion is also to be located here; and I shall now prove that the Lord will make instruments of this tribe, particularly the Ephraimites, to accomplish His work in the latter-days.
The Lord says through David: "Ephraim, is the strength of my head; Judah is my lawgiver." Hosea says: "Ephraim hath mixed himself among the people." It appears from the above, that the tribe of Ephraim, with the exception of the aborigines of this country, have been scattered and mixed with the Gentiles; but the Lord can designate them from others; therefore, He will bring them into His kingdom, and make them His ministers, and thus regard them as the strength of His head. The following demonstrates this: "His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to (or from) the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 151
are the thousands of Manasseh." * Thus the tribe of Joseph are to be instrumental in gathering the saints of God together, from the ends of the earth. This tribe have never as yet done a work of this kind; therefore, it is in the future. Jeremiah in the xxxi chap. of his prophecy, says: "For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the Mount Ephraim shall cry, arise ye, and let us go to Zion unto the Lord our God. For thus saith the Lord, sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble; for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born." The idea is that when the Lord gathers all Israel, the tribe of Ephraim will be the first-born, because they will receive the gospel first, or be inducted into the kingdom of God, and thus be born of Him. The reader will do well to carefully examine the remainder of the above chapter, for it is most sublime upon the restoration of Israel.
Paul writes about the restoration of Israel, thus: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." It must be admitted that the apostle here alludes to the
* De. xxxiii, 17.
Ro. xi, 25-27.
152 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
gathering of Israel, and the restoration of the kingdom to them: and the Deliverer that is to turn ungodliness from them in cludes not only Christ, but the work that He is the author of, that was to commence in Zion, or upon this land. Again, there are several passages in the bible which intimate that Christ will appear to His people in Zion, as He did to the apostles after His resurrection, and do something that will give His work an astonishing impetus; perhaps, He will endow His servants with great power, just before they are sent to Israel.
The prophet speaking in the name of the Lord of Israel, after their restoration, says: "And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: and I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning." * Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and others, who were priests of the Lord were the judges and counsellors of Israel at the beginning; therefore, I infer that when the Lord restores the kingdom to Israel, He will raise up prophets, and priests among them. Isaiah says, in another place: "And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar oft, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord, out of all nations, upon horses and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the Lord. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name
* Is. i, 25, 26.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 153
remain." * In the above, we are not only informed of the manner the house of Israel will be gathered; but that the Lord will cause many of them to be ordained as priests and Levites, which shows that the fulness of the priesthood will be restored to them, even to the Aaronic order of it.
Isaiah in another place, speaking of the restoration of Israel, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, says: "And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the aliens, shall be your ploughmen, and your vine-dressers. But ye shall be named the priests of the Lord; men shall call you the ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall you boast yourselves." Can any reasonable person, after reading the above, dispute that the Lord will restore the kingdom to Israel, and in a word, make them a kingdom of priests? Moses intimates that it was the intention of the Lord in his day, to do this; but it appears, that in consequence of their wickedness, it has been deferred until they shall be restored to their lands and receive Christ as their Messiah.
Jeremiah in the xxxiii chap. of his prophecy, dwells largely upon the restoration of Israel, and says: "And I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captivity of Judah, and the captivity of Israel, to return, and will build them as at first. And will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me." "For thus saith the Lord, David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel." We learn from the above, that the Lord will not only gather Israel; but will restore the kingdom unto them, and that a descendant of David shall reign over
* Is. lxvi, 19-22.
Is. lxi, 4-6.
154 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
them forever. The prophet continues the subject by saying, that the Levitical order of priests shall be perpetuated. Malachi, speaking of the coming of Christ, says: "He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." *
Jeremiah says, that the Lord shall make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and Judah; and after it, he says: "They shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, with the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Some suppose this covenant took effect with Israel, at the opening of the Christian dispensation, because the apostle Paul refers to it in his epistle to the Hebrews; but whoever will carefully examine the whole of this epistle, will discover, that he reasons to countermand a certain idea of the Jews, which is, that there was to be no other order of worship or of religion, except that which is set forth in the Mosaic economy. Paul refers to this covenant to prove that there was to be a new order, or that there was to be some change; but he does not say, that it took effect in his day. Certainly, nothing is more evident from the prophets, than that this new covenant will take effect at the time the house of Israel are restored, and they receive Christ as their Messiah.
Ezekiel is plain upon this point: "As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm; and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: and I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and
* Mal. iii, 3.
Jo. xxxi, 34.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 155
there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, with the Lord God. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant." * Now we learn from the above, that the Lord will not only gather the house of Israel, but that He will display His mighty power in the performance of miracles; and also, that He will plead or converse with them face to face as He did with their fathers, and surely no person will say, that this has been fulfilled.
It is evident from the prophets, that all the saints will be gathered together before Christ comes, whether they be Jews or Gentiles by descent. Isaiah in the lx chap. of his prophecy, speaking of the establishment of Zion, says: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up throe eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. And thou shalt see, and flow together, and thoe heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee." "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows! Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God." "And they shall call thee, the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel." It is plain from the above that many of the Gentiles will come to Zion, and bring their wealth with them to build up the city,
* Eze. xx, 33-37.
156 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
and make it ready to receive Christ. The prophet continues the subject by speaking of this city and the glory of it, in the Millennium, when the Lord shall dwell in it, and also, be the light of it.
The prophet in another place, speaking of the gathering of the saints, says; "Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north give up: and to the south, keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory." * Jeremiah says: "Therefore fear thou not, 0 my servant Jacob, saith the Lord, neither be dismayed, 0 Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee, with the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee; but I will correct thee in measure and will not leave thee altogether unpunished:" It appears from the above, that about the time the Lord gathers Israel, He will destroy all the nations, among whom they have been dispersed. Christ said, that the Jews should be "carried captive into all nations;" and indeed, to what nation could we go at the present time where we should not find Jews: consequently, I infer that it its necessary for all the saints to be identified with Israel; or in other words, to be adopted into the family of Abraham, and thus be gathered and numbered with them, in order to escape the calamities that God will bring upon the wicked.
There are many more passages that are explicit upon the great work of the Lord in the Latter-Days; or in other words, upon the important subjects that are before discoursed
* Is. xliii, 5-7.
Je. xxx, 10, 11.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 157
upon; but for the want of room, I will only refer to those which I have not already quoted or referred to, that the reader may, without any inconvenience, examine them at leisure. -- See Ps. i, 4, 5: Is. ii ch: Mi. iv, ch: Is. iv, ch: Do. xxvooo, 21, 22: Do. xxxv, ch: Do. xl, 1-10: Do. xlii, 9-14: Do. lii, ch: Do: liv, 11-17: Je. iii, 16-18: Do iv, 6, 7: Do. xxiii, 3-8: Do. xxx, ch: Do. xxxii, 37-42: Do. xlvi, 27, 28: Eze. xxxiv, 23-31: Do. xxxvi. ch: Ho. iii, 4, 5: Joel, ii, 15-32: Do. iii, ch: Am. ix, 8-15: Zep. iii, 8-21: Zec. i, 14-17: Do. ii, ch: Do. viii, 1-8: Do. x, ch: Do. xii, 5-13: Do. xiv, ch.
As soon as the house of Israel are restored, Christ will come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, subject the earth unto Himself, and then reign over His people as King of kings, and Lord of lords. Indeed, the second advent of Christ, has been the theme of all the patriarchs, prophets, and saints, in all ages of the world, and should even now, be regarded as a matter of major importance to all Christians: for it is a doctrine; or in other words, it is a sure promise that administers consolation to all the faithful, and sincere lovers of the truth; but as there are different opinions with regard to the manner in which He will come, and the work to be accomplished at the time, I deem it necessary to offer a few remarks upon the same.
Some contend that He will not come personally, but spiritually, and reign in the hearts of His people; and thus produce a millennium, and fulfill the numerous passages that allude to the above important event. Nothing however is more evident to me, from the scriptures, than that Christ will come personally or literally to the earth. -- The following makes this matter plain: "And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, as He went up, behold, two men
158 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." * Now if it is a fact, which but few pretend to dispute, that Christ ascended to heaven personally; hence, according to the above it must necessarily follow, that He will come in the same manner.
It appears that after the Jews are gathered back to Jerusalem, and have rebuilt it, that many nations will collect their forces, and besiege the city, and succeed in taking one half of it; but at this moment the heavens will be unveiled, and Christ will thus appear: "Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the cast and toward the west; and there shall be a very great valley: and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee like as ye flee, from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah; and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee" (or Him.) It is plain from this, that Christ will come and stand upon the place, where the apostles last saw Him. The prophet continues the subject by describing the universal kingdom of God, and the glorious day, when righteousness and peace shall cover the earth. He says: "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one."
Malachi says: "Behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts; but who may abide the day of His coming? and who
* Ac. i, 9-11.
Zec. xiv, 3-5.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 159
shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap." * He also, while speaking of this most eventful day in another place, says: "Then shall ye discern between the righteous and the wicked: between him that serveth God, and him that serveth Him not. For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as the calves of the stall." Thus we discover that when Christ comes, He will destroy the wicked, and triumphantly establish His kingdom, in which the saints shall shine forth like the stars of heaven.
Some contend that Christ came at the time Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman army; but this is most certainly a mistake; for whoever will carefully read John's Revelation, which was written more than twenty years after the above destruction, will read of this notable event, and things connected with it, that we know, are yet in the future. Christ, speaking of His coming, said: "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." § How striking the contrast: -- Christ said that at this time, "the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and that their hearts shall fail them for fear," &c. John says at this time, the kings of the earth, the captains, the grant men, the rich, &c., shall call for the rocks of the mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the presence of the Lamb. But on the other hand, the saints will rejoice, and hail the day or hour with gladness, knowing that the time of their redemption
* Mal. iii, 1, 2.
Mal. iii, 18.
Mal. iv, 1, 2.
§ Lu. xxi, 27, 28.
160 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
is at hand; therefore reader, how important it is, that we should be prepared for this awful, yet glorious day. It is true, we know not the day nor the year: for Christ intimated, that He will come when the world at large, are not expecting Him, for said He: "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." The Saints of course will be looking for His appearance; and those who are truly faithful, will have their lamps trimmed and burning, so that when the voice of the Bridegroom is heard, they will go out to meet Him with joy, and not with grief: on the other hand, those who are not prepared for the awful crisis, with the utmost consternation and horrible dread, will receive the sad news, depart from me ye wicked, ye cannot enter into my rest:
Paul, speaking of this eventful day, says: "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." * Indeed, it is evident the saints will anticipate His coming, and know from the signs that will preceed it, that it is nigh at hand. But admitting, that we shall be called from time to eternity, before this day arrives, we should by no means slacken our faithfulness to the Lord: for if we are worthy, when He comes, He will call
* 1 Th. v, 15.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 161
us out of our tombs, and cause us to share in the delight, and happiness of the day.
Again, the fact that when our Savior comes, all the saints, prophets and apostles, shall be raised from the dead, or have a glorious resurrection, adds lustre and interest to this subject, and makes it a doctrine full of consolation to all the Lord's people. --
Paul says; For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man after his own order; Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming." * In consequence of the transgression of Adam, death was inflicted upon the human family, and has continued ever since: in this respect, and no other, all die in Adam; but by the power of Christ, all will be made alive. Again, it is not said that the resurrection of the righteous and wicked will take place at the same time, or that the latter will bask forth into immortal glory or happiness; "but every man," says the apostle, "in his own order; Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are His at His coming." Thus the saints, will have a resurrection at His appearing: -- Christ said: "They that have done good, shall come forth unto a resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." It will be seen by an examination of the xx chap. of Revelation, that there will be an elapse of a thousand years, between the resurrection of the righteous, and the wicked.
The apostle thus describes this glorious work: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming
* 1 Co. xv, 22, 23.
162 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." * The above is so plain, that any comment whatever is unnecessary.
Job after his property was confiscated, his family destroyed, and he left to languish in consequence of affliction, broke out in the following strain of sublime prophecy: "Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! that they were graven with an iron pen and laid in the rock forever! for I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter-day upon the earth: And though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." Thus Job anticipated the happy day when his Redeemer shall stand upon the earth, and that his mortality shall put on immortality.
Isaiah speaks of the resurrection thus: "Thy dead men shall live; together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust: for thy dews is as the dews of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."
I certainly have never read anything more sublime upon
* 1 Th. iv, 13-18.
Job. xix, 23-27.
Is. xxvi, 19-21.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 163
the resurrection, than Ezekiel's vision of the same, which is recorded in the xxxvii chap. of his prophecy. It however, is generally spiritualized by the divines of the age, and applied to the convertion of the heathens and sinners, and also, revivals among the backsliders; but I prefer the Lord's explanation of it, notwithstanding it is in direct hostility to the popular notions of the age. -- It reads thus: "Then He said unto me, son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold they say, our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, thus saith the Lord God, behold, 0 my people I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live; and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord." Thus we learn, that all Israel are to be brought up out of their graves, and not be transported as the poet says, beyond the bounds of time and space, or to some fairy region; but into the land of Canaan or Israel, where they shall reign as kings and priests with Christ, when He subjects the earth and its inhabitants to Himself and sets up His everlasting kingdom. Again, this vision of the prophet establishes the idea of the literal resurrection of the body, beyond successful contradiction. The apostle Paul says: "For we know that the whole creation groaneth, and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the, redemption of our body." * The redemption of the body, is the resurrection of it. The whole of the xv chap. of 1 Cor.
* Re. viii, 22, 23.
164 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
is also plain upon this subject. -- The apostle, speaking of the faith of the ancients, says: "They were tortured not accepting deliverance: that they might obtain a better resurrection." * Indeed, it was the confidence that the ancients had in the promise of a glorious resurrection, that buoyed them up during their trials and affliction; for they regarded it, and the attendant blessings, as an ample reward for all their toils, and labour in the cause of God.
John most beautifully describes this important work in the following: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it know Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." Paul corroborates this by saying: "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also, we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection; or in other words, He is the great prototype of the saints, who are consoled with the promise, that they shall be called out of their graves, and be like Him, or have their bodies fashioned like His.
I infer from the foregoing passages of scriptures, and many others that I have not referred to, that when Christ comes, all who have died in the faith, and those who remain in a state of mortality, will be caught up into the air to meet Him, and all the angels and redeemed saints that will accompany Him; at which time, He will cleanse the earth by fire from all wickedness and pollutions, remove the curse from it, and restore it to its primeval bloom and purity. As
* He. xi, 35.
1 Jno. iii, 1, 2.
Ps. iii, 20, 21.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 165
soon as this is done, He and all His saints will come to the earth. Then the great feast of the Lord, or marriage supper of the Lamb, will take place.
Isaiah in the following sublime language, alludes to this feast: "And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall be taken away from off all the earth: for the
Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." * Christ no doubt alluded to this feast, when He said to His disciples: "I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it now with you in my Father's kingdom." This feast, which John calls the marriage supper of the Lamb, will take place at the time the saints and angels in heaven, and saints on the earth; or in other words, when all the redeemed of the Lord from Adam to the latest birth shall be brought together, and shall strike hands for joy. At this time, Christ will remove the veil that now intervenes between us and God; then we shall behold His glory, and see Him as He is. He will also remove the curse from the earth, and take away the power of death, and affliction. And what is still more striking in the above account, all those who will share in this feast, will rejoice at the appearance of their Lord, and say, we have waited for Him and expected Him. -- Thus the Millennium will be commenced.
We will now turn to the xx chapter of Revelation,
* Is. xxv, 6-9.
166 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
which is definite upon this subject. -- John first describes an angel which he saw, that is to bind satan for a thousand years, after which time he says, he shall be loosed for a little season. He then says: "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, nor in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, satan shall be loosed out of his prison." The above is an excellent description of both the resurrection, and the Millennium; and we also learn from it, that the immortal saints, will reign with Christ as kings and priests. The following together with the above, establishes the idea beyond doubt, that the redeemed saints, instead of being transported to some unknown region, will actually dwell, and reign on the earth: "And they sung a new song, saying, thou art worthy to take the book and open the seals thereof for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." *
David in his xxxvii psalm, speaking of this glorious day, says that the wicked shall be cut off, and then the meek or righteous, shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace and truth. Christ said: "Blessed
* Re. v, 9, 10.
HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 167
are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth." At this time: "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox." "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." The Spirit of God will be poured out upon all flesh, which will cause the Lord's people to prophecy, see visions, and to have great faith; it will also cause the beasts of the forest to become perfectly docile and harmless. Isaiah in the Ixv ch. of his prophecy, says: "For, behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind." David speaking of this work, says the Lord shall change the earth. The idea is, the Lord will remove the curse from the earth, cleanse it by fire, renew and make it a fit place for the redeemed saints to dwell. Isaiah proceeds thus: "But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, (I understand this to mean, that the age of all people shall be numbered by years and not by days; or in other words, none shall die in their infancy:) nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die, (or be changed from mortality to immortality,) an hundred years old; but the sinner, being an hundred years old, shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree, are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble: for they
168 HISTORY OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock; and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord." Again, Isaiah speaking of the inhabitants of Jerusalem at this happy day, says: "And all of thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established, thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear; and from terror; for it shall not come near thee." *
Respected reader, I must now take my leave, and I trust that our interview has been an agreeable one, especially on your part, and that I have been at least successful in engaging your serious attention to the study of the scriptures, particularly those parts that relate to the majestic work that the Lord has promised to perform in the latter-days. Furthermore, allow me to say unto you, that I have the most implicit confidence, in the doctrine and sentiments that I have set forth in the preceding part of this work: -- so farewell, and the Lord be with you until we meet in person, which perhaps will not take place until we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, where we shall probably have the opportunity of hearing each other upon all these important, and interesting topics.
* Is. liv, 13, 14.
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, JANUARY 1, 1841. No. 1.
TO THE READER.The object the publisher has in view in publishing this work is to further the cause of righteousness, unprejudice the minds of the prejudiced, and set the principles of our Holy Religion before the public in a plain and precise manner, that those who believe the doctrine we promulgate, may know what they believe, and those who deny, may know what they deny, and those who persecute us may know what they persecute us for. There are already several publications on the subject of our faith, but they do not fully answer the purpose, that is, they are not in a convenient shape for so extensive a circulation in this section of country as what this is intended. Again the calls for publications on the subject of our faith having become so numerous, and the number of disciples having greatly increased in this section of country, it is believed that a work of this kind for the time being will subserve the cause of righteousness. This is one reason why I have attempted to publish this work, hoping that it will have the desired effect, and render the necessary information, and do much good. Again, as our enemies in this part ofthe country are engaged in spreading newspapers, pamphlets, and circulars traducing the doctrine and characters of the above mentioned society, with the intention of stamping them with infamy and disgrace: and so far have accomplished their object, that they have affected to raise a tremendous hue and cry: "away with the Mormons, its delusion, fanaticism, and imposition," &c. &c.; and have excited almost all classes of the community against us. In Missouri, the spirit of mobocracy has been tolerated, and we have been driven from our homes in the inclemency of the season; and some were made to seal their testimony with their own blood. The shafts of our adversaries and the combined powers of darkness have conjoined and made an attempt to overthrow the great work of God. Indeed the truth of heaven has been trampled upon with impunity, and the yoke of persecution has been placed upon our necks. This is another reason why I have resolved to issue this work, that I may, through it, help to set the cause of righteousness erect, that it may pursue its course with ancient speed and spread to earth's remotest bounds. Also, to refute the publications that appear against us in the shape of arguments, and thus foil our enemies in their attempts.
This work is not designed as a standard periodical for the society, but merely to accommodate the members of the church, and public in general, in this city and the adjoining country.
One reason why I issue this work in the form of a periodical is that it may have a more general circulation, and I shall take the responsibility upon myself for all the original matter that will be inserted. I shall close the volume when it is thought proper.
I would here observe to the members of the church in this section of country, that I had it (as is well known) in contemplation last spring to publish O. Cowdery's, letters giving a history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and, connected, with them, other original matter, such as I had written myself, which I asked permission or advice of J. Smith who said I was at liberty to publish any thing of the kind that would further the cause of righteousness. I also asked advice of S. Rigdon, who said he had no objection. I intend to publish, in this work, the above mentioned letters and also a few extracts from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, shewing the order of the church -- but shall not interfere with any other publications.
My course while publishing this work will be a careful and straight forward one, and nothing will be admitted in it that will offend the honest inquirer after truth, yet yet simplicity and plainness will be used. Furthermore, being conscious that the elders and members of the church in this section of the country are anxious to be well versed in the scriptures, I shall endeavour to pursue a course that will acquaint them with the leading principles of our doctrine and the abundance of scripture evidence there is to establish them: and I earnestly solicit the prayers of the saints that I may bae directed in righteousness, and that I may through the grace of God, help to roll on the stone that is cut out of the mountain without hands; which will roll till it fills the whole earth; that peace may flow like a river to all the people of God; and Zion become a peaceful home and Jerusalem a quiet habitation for the saints: and until wickedness be done away -- Israel gathered in one, the Messiah come, with power to bless his saints with their promised inheritance. Also that this work may be an instrument in the hands of God of breaking down prejudice doing away superstition, and loosing the vulture fangs of bigotry, that the minds of the people may be set free from such encumbrances, and candidly investigate the subject for themselves.
As this is the first number of the "Gospel Reflector," it will not be amiss to give a few outlines of some of the leading principles of our faith, which will all be treated upon in their proper time and, scripture and reason be adduced to authenticate them. First the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe that the scriptures contain the words of God and that they are true and faithful. Second, the Godhead, i.e., the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 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, personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or, rather man was framed after his likeness, and in his image: -- he also possesses all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father, possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the godhead. Third, that the name of Jesus Christ is the only name given under heaven, whereby man can be saved. Fourth that the gospel of Christ, which is glad tidings of good things, is the only plano of salvation. Its principles as follows: First, faith in God and his commandments; second inasmuch as all have sinned it is necessary that all should repent of their sins, and forsake them; third be baptized for the remission of sins and adoption into the kingdom of God; (see Acts ii. 38) fourth, the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost; (see Acts viii, chap., do. xix. chap.); fifth, in having the Church of Christ organized according to the New Testament pattern; with apostles, prophets, and evangelists, &c., and earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints, -- and the promised spiritual gifts; (see I Cor. xii. chap., do. xiv. chap., Eph. iv. chap., Mark xvi. chap.) sixth that the majority of the Christian world have apostatized from God, and rejected much of the foregoing order of the gospel, and instead of contending for the gifts of the gospel, such as the spirit of prophecy, laying on of hands for the healing of the sick, revelations, administration of angels, inspiration, and visions, they contend against them, and say these things are done away, and no longer needed, thus fulfilling the words of the prophet: "They have transgressed the law, changed the ordinance, and broken the everlasting covenant." For this reason the Lord has spoken from on high, and caused light once more to dawn upon the benighted world, and hath restored the ancient order of the church, and hath set the honest in heart contending for the faith, once delivered to the saints; and is clothing his servants with authority to proclaim the fulness of his gospel to the inhabitants of the earth, as a witness of the second coming of Christ, whom we believe will come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory -- being accompanied by his holy angels and saints to take vengeance on the wicked, and destroy them, and set up his kingdom, and together with his saints, reign a thousand years, which is called the Millennium; seventh, that the Lord hath by his power brouht forth the Book of Mormon, which is a record of the ancient inhabitants of America, who were a branch of the House of Israel; and that this book agrees in testimony and doctrine with the Bible, and contains much plainness as to the Gospel of Christ, and the gathering of the House of Israel, from their long dispersion back upon their own land; which will be done ere long. Also, the Book of Mormon reveals the fact that the aborigines of this continent are a branch of the House of Israel. and that they eventually will receive the Gospel and lay down their weapons of war, and become the people of the Lord in very deed. But more of this in its proper place.
MARKS OF DISHONESTY.I have before me several numbers of the "Christian Observer" and in them is a long protracted tale entitled, "The Mormon Delusion" copied from the "Episcopal Recorder," signed "J. A. C." (J. A. Clark, I suppose.) The sequel of his story seems to be founded upon a conversation which he had with Martin Harris in 1827; in which Mr. Harris is made to say some strange things.
It is well known that the Book of Mormon was not printed until 1830, -- The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was organized the same year.
Now admitting the Rev. Gentleman's story to be true, which by the by I sincerely doubt, from the fact that I have been acquainted with Mr. Harris for the last eight years, and know his views to be different from what they are here represented, it is not such a wonderful thing at last that Mr. Harris should have had imperfect views so early in the commencement of this work: for whoever will take the trouble to read the New Testament will find that the disciples of Christ had imperfect ideas with regard to the object of his mission. When Christ made known to them that he would be taken and crucified they could not understand him. At another time they wanted him to call down fire and consume their enemies as Elias did. Christ reproved them saying, "ye know not what ye ask." At another time they were for fighting. They also enquired of him even after his resurrection if he would then restore the kingdom to Isreal. Indeed his apostles, and all who believed him while he was on earth supposed he would then be placed upon the throne of David in Jerusalem, and they should be exalted near his presence. With this worldly idea of self-interest, they made an attempt to place him upon the throne by force. Any person who will carefully read the four Evangelists will discover that some of the first ideas that the disciples of Christ had were those of a worldly nature; but they in time were made acquainted with the object of Christ's mission; also their own: and they had to tamely submit to the yoke of persecution, and have the finger of scorn pointed at them for the sake of Christ. Mr. Clark seems to infer that the idea of self-interest was what induced Mr. H. to embrace the cause of the Latter-Day Saints. If Mr. H. ever had such an idea it was soon changed: for he has suffered much for his religious sentiments, and has had the finger of scorn pointed at him for the sake of Christ.
Mr. Clark gives several reasons why the cause of the Latter-Day Saints has prospered: -- one is that they fully and cordially admit the truth of the sacred scriptures!! this is a very good reason.
He also adds the love tale of Joseph Smith stealing his wife. Mrs. Smith was at the time of her marrriage about 22 years of age; Mr. Smith of course obtained her consent; he also obtained her mother's consent: consequently he had the majority. Her father, Mr. Hale, was not at home at the time they were married. And now I ask where the sin in all this? I suppose if any Rev. Gentleman under similar circumstances would do the like, it would be said that he done no wrong.
The whole story of Mr. C. from beginning to end, bears the marks of dishonesty and misrepresentation, and it is beneath my principle to follow him in all his windings. If he had come out with scriptural arguments and attempted to prove our principles false, then I would have boldy met them; but now there is none to meet.It is also manifest that he is not acquainted with our doctrine, or he has wilfully misrepresented it. Indeed we have been a thousand times astonished that our enemies do not invest themselves with a knowledge of our doctrine before they speak or write against it. As yet the most effectual scheme that our enemies have pitched upon to prejudice the public mind, is that of building up a creature, or rearing a fabric that they are pleased to call Mormonism, which is composed of the Spaulding Story, the love tale of Mr. Smith stealing his wife, holding all things in common, the superstitious doctrines that were propagated by Emanuel Swedenborg, Ann Lee and a thousand other foolish things. And then priest and professor, drunkard and swearer, have all joined in the uproar saying, "it is delusion, fanaticism, imposture, false doctrine, and away with Mormonism!" In the midst of this uproar some would be popular man like Mr. Clark writes some disclosure of Mormonism, a thing that he knew nothing about himself. Another has ascended his pulpit and read from the newspapers, love tales, money digging story, holding all things in common, and then the black catalogue of false doctrines, once propagated by false teachers, which he compares with Mormonism. His auditors have listened with eagerness as though he was about to acheive a signal victory: also to the display of his oratory in putting in his key stone argument, and to hear the word that Mormonism is down for ever, that they may shout the triumph; and that its votaries will be obliged to abandon it, and retire from the field of labour with shame and disgrace. But behold with all their ceremony Mormonism was not there, no more than the apostles were in prison after the angel had brought them out, and the high priest sent for them. Indeed, our enemies often get up things that they call Mormonism which we are as ready to oppose as they. Mormonism so called is in safe keeping -- God has commenced to work and no man can stay his hand. In conclusion I say that Mr. Clark's "Mormon Delusion" is a disgrace to any public paper.
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, JANUARY 15, 1841. No. 2.
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, FEBRUARY 1, 1841. No. 3.
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, FEBRUARY 15, 1841. No. 4.
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, MARCH 1, 1841. No. 5.
INTRODUCTION TO THE SUBJECT OF
No sooner had the Book of Mormon made its appearance than priests and professors, began to rage, Madam Rumour began withher poisonous tongues; epithet upon epithet, calumny upon calumny, was heaped upon the few that were first engaged in the cause; mobs raged, and the people imagined a vain thing; a general hue and cry was raised and reiterated from one end of the country to the other, saying 'this people are deluded,' 'they are impostors,' 'false prophets,' 'fanatics,' 'deceivers,' -- 'have nothing to do with them, for they preach a new gospel,' 'they have dug a new bible out of the earth,' 'they tell us something about the administration of angels.' -- 'Away with them,''do not let them preach in your houses' -- 'you will be deceived.' Indeed the clergy have exerted their influence to put a stop to this work, the pen of the learned has been wielded in order to throw a mist of darkness over the principles we hoild forth to the world; and in a word, the combined powers of earth and hell, have conjoined to overthrow it; the shafts of the wicked have been leveled against us, the drunkard and the swearer have catched the sound and have joined with the professor in crying 'delusion,' &c. in the midst of this uproar our facilities for spreading the truth were somewhat limited; and had we the tongue of Michael the arch-angel it would have been as impossible for us to reason with the uproarious multitude, as it would have been for any man to reason with the Jews while Christ was before Pilate, and they were crying "away with him," "crucify him," "crucify him;" or for Paul to have reasoned with the Ephesians in the midst of the uproar and their crying "great is the goddess Diana of the Ephesians." Some that were engaged in the tumult, -- opposing the work of God &c., have stopped, and enquired what was the cause, or meaning of all this uproar; the reply of their conscience was, we know nothing about it -- they resolved immediately to investigate the subject for themselves, and the result of their researches was their conviction, and convertion. Others who were free from prejudice, and party spirit, looked into these things as soon as they made their appearance among them; and thus the honest in heart are made to rejoice, and their hearts are swelled with gratitude to God for his condescention, in revealing his word to his people, and causing the light of heaven to dawn once more upon the benighted world. -- Sending his heavenly messengers to commission men once more to preach the gospel to all the inhabitants of the earth. Also sending forth the Book of Mormon, which the prophets have said should be one of the instruments in the hand of God to commence the gathering of Israel -- the establishment of Zion -- that the way may be prepared for the second coming of Christ. -- This work of God has rolled on with majesty and with power; and tens of thousands have received the Spirit of God, which witnessess with their spirits that these things are true. But to the subject.
God always does his work in his own way, and at the same time to confound, and bring to naught the wisdom of the wise, and the understanding of the prudent. Men have often marked out a path for God to walk in, and have paved it with their books of divinity, and opinions; but when God works he works in his own way, he walks in his own path, his course is onward, and straight-forward; so much so that he frustrates all the works of men, and proves their plans to be foolishness with him.
The peculiarity of the works of God in various ages of the world, and also their being so different from what the world in their wisdom expected them, that they have ever been a stumbling-block to the wise, noble and the learned. For instance, when the Lord commanded Noah to warn the Antediluvians of the flood, and to build the ark; but few believed him. And it may be, that they had never heard of such a thing as a flood; although they may have believed the revelations that Adam, Seth, Enos, Enoch and others had; but the idea of a flood was something new and derogatory to their feelings. Perhaps they had no objections to Noah's preaching concerning the principles of righteousness; but the idea of his building an ark of such huge dimensions, was too preposterous an undertaking, according to their opinions: and perhaps they pointed the finger of scorn at him, and made this the principle objection to all his preaching. Surely the building of the ark on dry land was something more marvelous for the capacity of man to digest, than that of the singular, and strange manner in which the Book of Mormon was brought to light. Christ said "as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man." People in the present age object to any thing new that appears out of the ordinary course of events, and urge their objections because of the singularity of it. The Sodomites had the same reason to object to the testimony of both Lot, and the angel, concerning the conflagration of their city. Those things were new, and altogether different from any thing that they had ever heard before.
Indeed the Jews or the Israelites were in a habit of believing the revelations of their former prophets; but of stoning those that were contemporary with them, and reject[ing] their revelations, because they were new, strange, and different from those of their former prophets. For instance, the Jews persecuted Isaiah; but their children extolled his prophecies to the very heavens, and said they would not have done as their fathers did; but at the same time Jeremiah was in their midst and they lifted their puny arm against him, rejected his prophecies, and cast him into the pit; because he predicted something new and strange. The Jews at the time of the incarnation of Christ lauded the wisdom of the former prophets; but stoned those that were then on earth, Christ said: "Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, if we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers." -- Math. xxiii. 29-32.
The Pharisees and Sadducees, urged many objections against the idea that Jesus was the true Messiah, and thus brought the malice of the people upon his head. They declared they were Moses' disciples and said they had Moses and the prophets; but they scorned the idea of any person being Christ's disciple. They despised Jesus because of his humble birth; and because he chose illiterate men for his apostles; also because he associated with publicans, and sinners. He was the stumbling-stone and rock of offence that the prophets mentioned. The apostle Paul says: "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness." -- I Cor. i. 23. The minds of the learned Greeks with all their wisdom, was not sufficiently large for them to believe the resurrection of Christ. Indeed, no doctrine could have been more unpopular, than that of the resurrection of Christ was, in the days of the apostles. Paul says the saints were called the filth and offscouring of all things. They were despised by the noble, and scorned by the learned, martyrdom, imprisonment, banishment, and awful persecutions were the common fate of the believer. But in the course of time the prejudices of kings, and philosophers, that were so awfully excited before, began to wear away, and they began to look into these things, and at length the Christian religion was propagated by the authority of the Roman empire: the gospel and the resurrection of Christ was now no longer considered a mystery. These things began to be popular, and it was considered an honour to a man to become a Christian. Persecution gradually died away until the believer was no more persecuted for believing in Christ; but the scene was changed, and the Mother church began to persecute the dissenters, or Protestants for heresey.
It has ever been a thing peculiar to the commencement of a particular dispensation, for God to send forth something that was a stumbling-block to the learned. and that appeared as foolishness to the noble. Therefore we are not astonished that the Book of Mormon has become a stumbling-block to so many; and the fact that the learned. the wise of this world, and the professors of religion, are our vilest persecutors, and most inveterate enemies, does not discourage us, when we consider that Christ himself was a rock of offence to the Jews; and priests and professors who made higher pretentions to holiness, than any other people on earth, were his most inveterate enemies: and the learned thought it all foolishness, and the poor and the meek of the earth were the principle part that embraced his gospel. Perhaps in the course of time the prejudices that are against the Book of Mormon will wear away, and it will not be considered so mysterious as what it is now. If this should be the case, of course the society will become popular, and if wickedness should continue on earth as it now is, then farewell to the spirit of humility, and pure and undefiled religion before God. But the Lord has said that he will cut his work short in righteousness, in the last days: therefore as soon as these things are proclaimed to all nations, and Israel gathered; the Lord will come: or before there will be time for these things to become popular among the learned of this world, wickedness will be destroyed. But there are several passages of scripture that are cited to, to countermand the idea of a new revelation, which we will now notice: -- there are other objections which we will also notice.
Many assert that there was to be no more revelations after the days of the apostles; and the following is quoted to prove it: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall ADD unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. -- Rev. xxii 18, 19. John in saying this, certainly had no allusion to any other book, or revelations, other than his Apocalypse. The New Testament, compiled as it now is, was not then in existence. Paul's various epistles, at the time John was upon the island of Patmos, were scattered among those to whom he directed them. And if he intended to convey the idea that any man that should attempt to write any more by the inspiration of God, should be cursed; he most unquestionably transgressed, and if his words are true, brought the curse upon his own head; for according to historians he wrote his "Gospel," and three "Epistles," after he wrote his book of Revelations, and no one that believes the scriptures, disputes but what he wrote all his writings by inspiration. Mr. Fleetwood, in his history of Christ and his apostles writes thus: "The greatest instance of St. John's care for the souls of men, is in the writings he left to posterity; the first of which in time, though placed last in the sacred canon, is his Apocalypse or Book of Revelation which he wrote during his banishment at Patmos. Next to the Apocalypse, in order of time, are his three epistles -- the first of which is catholic, calculated for all times and places, containing the most excellent rules for the conduct of a Christian life, pressing to holiness and pureness of manners, and not to be satisfied with a naked and empty profession of religion." "The other two epistles are but short and directed to particular persons; the one to a lady of great quality, the other to the charitable and hospitable Gaius." "Before he undertook the task of writing his Gospel, he caused a general fast to be kept by all the Asiatic churches, to implore the blessing of of heaven on so great and momentous an undertaking." It is evident that John has reference to his own writings, because he uses the pronoun this, "the book of this prophecy," this relates to his Apocalypse, and to no other book. We have often heard people apply it as though it had an allusion to the whole bible; but we impute it to their ignorance of the common import of the language, and also their imbecility. It is inconsistent for any person to suppose that this saying debars God of the privilege to reveal his word when he pleases. Again, it is incompatible with the language of the text to say that it has reference to adding to any book other than Revelation. If this proves that no person has a right to receive revelations and that the curse of God, will follow them that attempt to write by inspiration, then by the same rule we will prove that all the prophets after Moses were cursed or incurred the displeasure of God. Moses commanded thus: "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Deut. iv. 2. Thus Moses forbid any to add to his words. But notwithstanding this command the prophets wrote many revelations which added to the canon of scripture, or the common library of religious intelligence; but at the same time they did not add to Moses's commandments, or enlarge them, or, in other words they did not encroach upon them. Each prophet wrote his own revelations; but interfered with no others. Solomon made a similar assertion: "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." -- Prov. xxx. 5, 6. If we are authorized from this saying of John to reject all subsequent revelations then from Moses and Solomon, we are authorized to reject the prophets.
Another passage that is applied as testimony to prove that there is no necessity for any more revelations is as follows" "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 2 Tim. iii. 15. Says one, what necessity is there for any more inspired writings, seeing that there was enough in Timothy's day to make a man wise unto salvation? "The New Testament writings were not in existence at the time Timothy was a child. The writings of John were not written until after Paul made this expression. It is evident that it was the Old Testament scriptures that were able to make Timothy wise unto salvation; and if we by this saying reject all revelations subsequent to those of the apostles, we certainly by the same passage will be under the necessity to consider the New Testament scriptures useless.
Again Christ said while on the cross "that all things were now accomplished, that the scriptures might be fulfilled." -- John xix. 28. Christ in saying this did not intend to convey the idea that the work of revelation was accomplished; for if he did, then the apostles were engaged in a superfluous work, that is, it was superfluous for them to receive, and write revelations after all was accomplished!
Some may opine that the following is proof, to countermand the idea of a continuation of revelation: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint THE MOST HOLY." -- Dan. ix. 24. It is certain that Daniel here has an allusion to the close of the vision and fulfillment of prophecy that relates to the first coming of Christ. But to say that there was to be no more prophecies, visions, &c., subsequent to the time that Christ was cut off for the sins of the world, is repugnant to the writings of the New Testament. Indeed, the Spirit of God was more generally diffused among the saints after the crucification than it was before, and instead of the gift of prophecy coming to an end, it was more generally bestowed upon the saints, and there were more prophets in the Christian Church in primitive times, than there was at any time previous. That Paul both prophesied, and saw visions, no one disputes. John wrote a book of Revelation, and in it, it is said: "And he said unto me, thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." -- Rev. x. 11. It is supposed by the majority of professors in Christendom, that when John concluded his writings the volume of inspiration was closed and all was written that God ever intended that the human family should have, for say they, the canon of scripture is complete. But we contend that if God ever inspired his servants to write, their writings are of importance, and not to be hid in the labyrinth of darkness for ever. Indeed, if the bible itself is true, it is but a portion of the inspired writings that God intended for the world. The bible quotes more than twelve books which are not to be found in it -- most, if not all of which, were written by prophets or seers, whose inspiration the Bible itself acknowledges. We will here mention a few of them.
Book of the Acts of Solomon, -- 1 Kings xi. 41.
Book of Nathan the Prophet, -- I Chron. xxix. 29.
Book of Gad the Seer, -- 1 Chron. xxix. 29.
Book of the Prophecy of Ahijah, -- 2 Chron. ix. 29.
Book of the Visions of Iddo the Seer, -- 2 Chron. ix. 29.
Book of Shemaiah the Prophet, -- 2 Chron. xii. 15.
Book of Iddo the Seer, -- 2 Chron. xii. 15.
"Written in the story of the prophet Iddo." -- 2 Chron. xiii. 22. If necessary we could produce quotations in the bible for several other books, some in the Pld Testament, and some in the writings of the apostles referring to epistles, which are not to be found among the sacred writings. If so many books are left out of the bible, and yet actually quoted in it; there may have been hundreds of others of which we have no account.Where are the predictions of the prophets who prophesied in the camp of Israel at the time Moses exclaimed "Would to God the Lord's people were all prophets?" Peter said: "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." -- Acts. iii. 21. From this, we learn that all the prophets from Adam to Peter prophesied of this restitution; but we have the writings of but a few. Christ speaking of Abel called him a prophet, and where are his predictions? In a word there is nothing in the scripture to justify any man in believing that there was to be no more revelations, and that it is repugnant to the will of God to receive any subsequent to the acknowledged sacred volume, or to disprove the Book of Mormon; but on the other hand there is an abundance of evidence in them to convince every lover of truth, that God in the last days will add to the general library of religious intelligence, till the knowledge of God covers the earth, as the waters cover the sea -- that no one will have it to say to his neighbour, know ye the Lord, for all shall know the Lord from the greatest unto the least. There is also sufficient evidence to prove that the Book of Mormon was to come to light in the last days, or another book of the same description, which we will now proceed to examine
THE CLAIMS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON ESTABLISHED --
We shall now proceed to prove; first, from various relics of antiquity that America has been inhabited by an enlightened people, far in advance of the savage state of the red men of the forest; second that they were a branch of the House of Israel; third, that it was their privilege to receive revelations, and write them for the benefit of futuregenerations; fourth, by the predictions of prophets, that they were of the tribe of Joseph; fifth, that they were to receive revelations, which were to be deposited in the earth to come forth in the latter times, and unite, in testimony, with the Jewish scriptures; sixth, that the gathering of Israel will soon follow, or succeed the coming forth of this work. Having thus planned our work, -- we will investigate each particular separately.
Now when the antiquarian traverses the Western wilds, he has the privilege to behold the relics of a once enlightened nation, who understood arts and sciences to some extent. He there can walk upon the ruins of once magnificent cities abounding in wealth and prosperity; but now depopulated, and lying in heaps of massive ruins. And if he is onward with his researches -- he gazes upon numerous forts, mounds, obelisks, and catecombs, which he marks with wonder and amazement. When he surveys the Southern part of North America -- he there can feast his mind upon the works of antiquity until it is absorbed in contemplating the scenes of destruction that have come upon this nation of the dead, and leveled their cities in ruins. In Guatamala he can survey the ruins of a once splendid, beautiful, and populous city, perhaps as ever was on the globe; (we allude to the city of Otolum near Palenque,) and while wandering through these heaps of massive ruins, he beholds the remains of large temples, and palaces, which exhibit the work of human ingenuity. With a more close observation he discovers a fine display of architectural genius in the construction of these once splendid edifices. In viewing with more avidity still he beholds in these huge buildings the works of science -- an immense quantity of hieroglyphics. Hence he no longer doubts but what America was inhabited by an enlightened nation anterior to its discovery by Columbus. While in the midst of these ruins, he reflects, he ponders upon the fate of cities and empires. He reflects upon Babel, and the imaginations of the inhabitants of the plains of Shinar. One stroke of Omnipotence was sufficient to frustrate all their designs, and cause Babel to moulder in ruins. He thinks of ancient Thebes, that abounded with so many splendid edifices, and whose inhabitants boasted of their intelligence, and supposed it to be the queen of cities; but no sooner had it risen to the zenith of its glory, than the great God showed that his power was greater than that of man, by causing it to be crushed to ruins; and thus remain a monument of wonder for future ages. He thinks of the once mighty city of Babylon, which was so powerfully fortified; but as soon as it had ascended to the height of its grandeur, and its inhabitants been the means of humbling the pride of other nations, the God of Israel raised up another nation to humble their pride and bring them to naught -- at length the city was destroyed. Thus by the power of the Omnipotent God Babylon was destroyed and left in ruins, and hid in obscurity that its exact place of location is not known to the present generation. He thinks of Jerusalem the place which God chose to have a manificent temple built in honour to his name, the land of Christ's nativity, the place where angels ministered to the prophets, and where much of the sacred volume was written. Once called the holy city; but God has abandoned it for centuries past: and the romantic scenery of its lonesome ruins, and evacuated suburbs, first strikes the eye of the traveller; and the dreariness of its adjacent valleys constrains him to cry out, surely there is a God that ruleth, and when a nation keeps his commandments they prosper; but when they transgress he brings destruction upon them. He also thinks of Rome, once the queen of cities but now in ruins.
After reflecting upon the scenes of antiquity in the Old world, his mind again settles upon those of the New. He then bursts forth from his soliloquy, and exclaims unatbob his comrade,I see here standing monuments of refinement, and arts to a degree of perfection; and the beautiful walks where the fair sons and daughters of a powerful nation, prided and amused themselves in viewing the beautiful works of the city; but now they are no more, and no one is left to tell their origin, and how they were destroyed. Surely there is an Omnipotent God that reigneth, both in heaven, and on earth. He can raise up kingdoms, and suffer them to sway their sceptres over all the earth, and when they have arisen to the very zenith of their glory, and exhausted their wisdom in fortifying their cities, He has come out of his hiding place and with one stroke of his power, He has caused empires to tremble and totter to pieces, and their cities to be leveled to the earth, and to become wild desolations -- howling wilderness places for wild beasts.
After viewing these works of antiquity he is anxious to learn their origin: for which he searches for something that will disclose the secret -- but in vain. Again he hears of the discovery of some other city with numerous writings, or inscriptions on stones; at this he takes new courage and sets out for the place, hoping to find something that will divulge the secret. -- Vain hope -- He sinks in despair; his mind is still left in the wide field of conjecture, doubt and uncertainty. He cries out and says, as yet we must ask in vain, who were the founders of these cities of the dead? Alas! their names have faded into oblivion. The remembrance of their deeds remains not even in tradition orlegendary song. Oh! that some mighty genius like that of Belzoni would arise and remove from these cities of the world called new, the vail that conceals their origin. But stop, kind reader didst thou know that one mightier than Belzoni has removed the veil -- broke the long silence and made known the origin of this people. Yes Jehovah who is the revealer of secrets has divulged this secret -- the light of heaven has dawned with its refulgent rays -- the angel of God directed to the place. In Cumorah's lonely hill it was concealed -- the meek rejoiced and the poor among men tunned their joyful lyres -- heaven reechoed back the same But to proceed.
To prove the foregoing statements with regard to American antiquities, we extract the following from different authors. First. Rev. A. Davis in his lecture on the discovery of America by the Northmen says: "The ruins of a city in Central America are among the most striking of such, This city, called Palenque (the name of a town not far off: other antiquarians call it Otolum) lies two hundred and fifty miles from Tobasco, lat. about 15 degrees N." "And there were discovered not such buildings as those erected by the Druieds, of rough and misshapen stones; but such as those in which kings dwell -- built of hewn stones. The appearance of these ruins shows a nation once existed there highly skilled in mechanical arts and in a state of civilization far beyond any thing that we have been led to believe of the aborigines, previous to the time of Columbus. A distinguished antiquarian of New York has received from this city a beautiful specimen of the fine arts -- an idol of pure gold. This has emphatically been called the Thebes of America. In surveying its ruins the traveller is led to believe that it was founded at as early a period as the renowned cities of Egypt.
How immense this city It is supposed to have been sixty miles in circumference, and that it contained a population of nearly three millions. Great were its commercial privileges -- even now the broad and beautiful Otolum rolls along its desolated borders." "One of the principal structures revealed to the eye of the antiquarian is the teaculi or temple. Its style of architecture resembles the Gothic. It is rude, massive and durable Though resembling the Egyptian edifices, yet this and the other buildings are peculiar, and are different from all others hitherto known. The entrance of the temple is on the ceast side by a portico more than one hundred feet in length, and nine feet broad. The rectangular pillars of the portico have their architraves adorned with stucco work of shields and other devices." "The antiquity of this city is manifest not only from its nameless hieroglyphics and other objects; but from the age of some of the trees growing over buildings where once the hum of industry and the voice of merriment were heard. The concentric circles of some of these trees were counted, which showed that they were more than nine hundred years of age." "The antiquities of America spread from the great lakes of the North and West to Central America and the Southern parts of Peru on the South; from the Alleghany Mountains on the East, to the Rocky Mountains on the West, and even from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean."
The following is an extract from Priests history of American antiquities. Speaking of the before mentioned city he says: "This account which partly describes the ruins of stone city seventy-five miles in circuit (length 32 English miles, greatest breadth 12 miles,) full of palaces, monuments, statues, and inscriptions: one of the earliest seats of American civilization about equal to Thebes of Egypt and well calculated to inspire me with hopes that they would throw a great light over American History, when more properly examined." We might multiply a catalogue of extracts from different authors upon this subject; but we forbear believing that enough has already been said to convince every candid mind that America has been inhabited, previous to its discovery by Europeans, by an enlightened and civilized race of people. However, if any one should wish to learn farther concerning the antiquities of America, we recommend him to A. Davis' "Discovery of America by the North-men J. Priest's American Antiquities," Mr. Hill's do.; and Baron Humboldt's "Travels in South America."
It is evident from the following extracts that the aborigines of this continent are descendants of the House of Israel. But lest the reader should misunderstand, we will here state, that the Book of Mormon professess to have been written by a nation that has been destroyed; but they and the present race of Indians were of the same origin, or sprung from the same father; therefore when we prove the one to be a branch of the House of Israel, we prove the other to be of the same origin.
First says Mr. Boudinot: "It is said among their principal or beloved men that they have it handed down from their ancestors, that the book which the white people have was once theirs: that while they had it they prospered exceedingly, &c. They also say that their fathers were possessed of an extraordinary Divine Spirit by which they foretold future events, and controlled the common course of nature; and this they transmitted to their offspring, on condition of their obeying the sacred laws; that they did by these means, bring down showers of blessings upon their beloved people; but that this power for a long time past bhad entirely ceased." Colonel James Smith, in his Journal while a prisoner among the natives, says: "They have a tradition that in the beginning of this continent, the angels or heavenly inhabitants as they call them, frequently visited the people, and talked with their forefathers, and gave directions how to pray."
Mr. Boudinot in his able work remarks concerning their language: "Their language in its roots, idiom, and particular construction, appears to have the whole genius of the Hebrew, and what is very remarkable, and well worthy of a serious attention has most of the peculiarities of that language; especially those in which it differs from most other languages. There is a tradition related by an aged Indian of the Stockbridge tribe, that their fathers were once in possession of a sacred Book, which was handed down from generation to generation, and at last hid in the earth, since which time they had been under the feet of their enemies. But these oracles were to be restored to them again; and then they would triumph over their enemies and regain their ancient blessings. together with their rights and privileges." Mr. Boudinot after recording many traditions similar to the above, at length remarks: "Can any man read this short account of Indian traditions, drawn from tribes or various nations; from the West to the East, and from the South to the North, wholly separated from each other, written by different authors of the best character, both for knowledge and integrity, possessing the best means of information, at various and distant times without any possible communication with each other; and yet suppose that all of this is the effect of chance, accident, or design, from a love of the marvellous or a premeditated intention of deceiving, and thereby running their well established reputations? Can any one carefully, and with deep reflection, consider and compare these traditions with the Ten Tribes of Israel, without at least drawing some presumptive inferences in favour of these wandering natives being descended from the Ten Tribes of Israel?"
The following is extracted from Priest's American Antiquities: "Joseph Merrick, Esq., a highly respectable character in the church at Pittsfield, Mass. gave the following account: that in 1815, he was leveling some ground under and near an old wood shed standing on a place of his situated on an Indian hill. He ploughed and conveyed away old chips and earth to some depth. After the work was done, walking over the place, he discovered, near where the earth had been dug the deepest, a black strap as it appeared, about six inches in length, and one and a half in breadth, and about the thickness of a leather trace to a harness. He perceived it had, at each end, a loop of some hard substance, probably for the purpose of carrying it. He conveyed it to his house and threw it into an old tool box." "After some time, he thought he would examine it; but in attempting to cut it, found it as hard as bone: he succeeded however in getting it open, and found it was formed of two pieces of thick raw-hide, sewed and made water tight with the sinews of some animal, and gummed over; and in the fold was contained four folded pieces of parchment. They were of a dark yellow hue, and contained some kind of writing. The neighbours coming in to see the strange discovery, tore one of the pieces to atoms, in the true Hun and Vandal style. The other three pieces Mr. Merrick saved, and sent them to Cambridge, where they were examined, and discovered to have been written with a pen, in Hebrew, plain and legible. The writing on the three remaining pieces of parchment were quotations from the Old Testament. See Deut. vi. 4-9, Deut. xi. 13-21, Ex. xiii. 11-16, to which the reader can refer, if he has the curiosity to read this most interesting discovery."
It is evident from the foregoing that the ancient inhabitants of America together with the present race of Indians, are a branch of the House of Israel, which we infer from the peculiarity of their traditions, and the singular fact that a writing was found written in the the Hebrew.
There are various other accounts of American antiquities that might insert but we pass by them in order to hasten to the field of prophecy, knowing that the testimony of prophets who wrote by the inspiration of God is better than tradition, or the testimony of uninspired men.
That America has been inhabited by an enlightened nation anterior to Columbus no one that has the slightest acquaintance with American antiquities disputes; but the question arises in the mind whether or not, they had the privilege to receive revelations direct from God, which is a thimg that can be determined in no other way, but by the sacred scriptures.
The apostle Paul said: "And (God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, AND FIND HIM though he be not far from every one of us. -- Acts, xvii. 26, 27. From the above we learn that God has decreed that men should dwell on all the earth; of course America not excepted, and that it was and is the privilege of all nations to call on his name, or feel after him and find him. And now we ask, if men have found God, how did they do it? The answer is by revelation: "For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God." But this part of the subject is plain: and if it was the privilege of the ancients of this land to receive revelations, they certainly had the liberty to write them; and their knowledge of science shows that they had power to do it: and of course, if written by inspiration, it would be sacred scripture as much so as though it had been written in Asia. We would just as soon believe revelations given in America, providing we could be persuaded that they are of divine origin, as we do those written among the oriental nations. There is no difference; for God is the same, and he is just as near to one part of the globe as another.
Again, it is not improbable but that the ancients of this continent kept a record of their national affairs; if they did not, they were different from other nations who were not any better skilled in science than they were. Indeed, we are led to infer from the numerous hieroglyphics, and writings that they were in the habit of writing much, if not, a history of their national affairs. The accounts of large temples, evidently places of worship, together with the fact that Hebrew writings have been found, gives us a clue to the origin of this people: and thus, after wandering through the field of conjecture and doubt, light now begins to dawn equal to that of twilight; and the veil that has covered these things in mystery begins to rend. But reader, do not stop here; let us be onward in our march, and pursuit of knowledge upon this subject, until the day star arises, and we immerge forth into the light, and learn who built these cities of the dead, and whose fingers have so curiously marked these temples with various inscriptions that have so much puzzled the antiquarian. But says one, where shall I go? from whence shall I obtain the information? Let the testimony of prophets, and patriarchs speak, and let us believe.
Now it was customary with the ancient patriarchs to call their children together, previous to their death, and bless them with a patriarchal blessing. Jacob whom the angel named Israel was a distinguished patriarch; hence he called his sons to him before his decease, and blessed them, and predicted what should befall their posterity. But it will be remembered that the birth-right, in case there was no transgression, lawfully belonged to the eldest son. But because of the transgression of Reuben the birth-right fell to the sons of Joseph; hence it is written: "Now the sons of Reuben the first-born of Israel; for he was the first-born; but, for as much as he defiled his father's bed his birth-right was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birth-right. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler: but the birth-right was Joseph's." -- 1 Chron. v. 1, 2. The blessings that were conferred upon the sons of Joseph, and prophecies concerning their posterity, are recorded in the xlviii of Genesis. First, Jacob said to Joseph: "Now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in Egypt, before I came unto thee, are mine: as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine." Thus they had the blessing of the birth-right conferred upon them, or in other words, Jacob conferred his particular or choicest blessing upon them; and it will be remembered that those to whom the birth-right belonged were entitled to the particular, or choicest blessing. "And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand towards Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand, toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the first-born. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my father Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long, unto this day, the angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; AND LET THEM GROW INTO A MULTITUDE IN THE IN THE MIDST OF THE EARTH." From this we learn that Ephraim and Manasseh were to grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth, and Jacob's name was to be named upon them. Therefore the prophets made a distinction, and distinguished the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, by saying, the House of Jacob; and the other tribes by the House of Israel. However, sometimes all were included under the one head. "And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. And Joseph said unto his father, not so my father for this is the first-born; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, AND HIS SEED SHALL BECOME A MULTITUDE OF NATIONS." Put the latter part of this quotation with the one before it, "AND LET THEM GROW TOGETHER INTO A MULTITUDE IN THE MIDST OF THE EARTH," and we discover that Ephraim, and Manasseh were to become a multitude of nations in the midst of the earth. "And he blessed them that day, saying, in thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim, and as Manasseh; and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.' Thus they had the choice blessing of Jacob; and after that, when any one of the children of Israel prayed for his friend and blessed him, he said: "God make thee as Ephraim and Manasseh," believing that no greater blessing in time, could be conferred upon him.
Jacob blessed Joseph as follows: "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall. The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob: (from thence is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts and of the womb: the blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, UNTO THE UTMOST BOUND OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separated from his brethren." -- Gen. xlix. 22-26. First, we learn from the above quotation that Joseph was a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches were to run over the wall. This was spoken no doubt to suit the capacity of the ancient oriental nations, who considered the sea as a wall that hemmed in the land, or Eastern continent: for this reason it may be read with propriety "over the sea." Second, the blessing that Jacob blessed Joseph with prevailed above the blessing of his progenitors, unto the utmost (farthest off,) bounds of the everlasting hills. Jacob's progenitors were Abraham, and Isaac; and their blessing upon him, as far as an earthly inheritance was concerned, was the land of Canaan; but Joseph's was to prevail above this, or extend to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills.
Now reader imagine yourself standing in Egypt where Jacob then stood, and then search for the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills, and you will find them in America. Match this prophecy concerning Joseph, "his branches (posterity) shall run over the wall," and reach unto (or inherit,) "the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills," with that of Ephraim, and Manasseh, "let them grow together into a multitude of nations in the midst of the earth," and we find that they were to inhabit the farthest off land from Egypt, and there become a multitude of nations.
Now the scriptures cannot be broken, therefore, these predictions must apply to America, for the most obvious reason, they cannot be applied with any propriety to any other land. And let the world search from one end of the earth to the other, and they will not find a multitude of nations, who have sprung from Ephraim, and Manasseh, unless they find them in America. They may search Asia, Europe, and Africa, and they will not find them; that is, a multitude of nations inhabiting a land to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. But here is an almost boundless country, which was secluded from the Old World, and inhabited by a race of men evidently of the same origin, although as evidently divided into many nations. Hosea speaking of the children of Ephraim says, "when the Lord shall roar, then the children (of Ephraim) shall tremble from the West." Thus admitting that the ancients of America, together with the present race of Indians are the descendants of Joseph, the prophecies concerning his posterity have been fulfilled to the very letter. And as the birth-right fell to his sons; consequently, their blessings with regard to an earthly inheritance excelled those of their brethren. It is evident also from what Moses said, that the blessing of Joseph, with regard to an earthly inheritance, was greater than those of his brethren: "And of Joseph he said, blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush; let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren." -- Deut. xxxiii. 13-16.
Christ said: "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel." -- Math. xv. 27; and speaking to the Jews he said: "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice: and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." -- John, x. 16. He could not have alluded to the Gentiles as being his other sheep which were not of the same fold with the Jews, because he personates himself as being the one to go and bring them. The Book of Mormon says, that Christ after the resurrection visited the people on this continent, and established his gospel among them, which indeed, was a remarkable fulfilment of this singular saying of Christ. The prophet speaking of the conversion of the House of Israel in the last-days says: "From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughters of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering." -- Zeph. iii. 10. If we stood on the land of Canaan where this prophet stood, and then should set out in search of a land beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, we would pass through the Barbary States, formerly called Ethiopia, and over the rivers of the same country; but as soon as we should get beyond them, we would come to the Atlantic Ocean, and if we should still pursue our journey, we would come to America -- a land beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, and here find a branch of the House of Israel -- the Red men of the forest. Zepheniah continues his predictions, verse 11th: "For I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride; and thou shalt no more be haughty because of mine holy mountain." It is a peculiar trait in the character of the Western Indians to be haughty -- but they shall be so no more, because God will send his truth unto them, and establish his Zion, and they will rally around his standard. From what has been said, the reader will discover that the land of America is a promised land to the tribe of Joseph, as much so, as Canaan to the House of Israel in general; and we might refer to many other passages of scripture which are corresponding testimony in favour of the same; but brevity admonishes us to hasten.
The point at issue is, whether or not the ancients of this land received revelations; and if they did, whether or not, they were to be preserved to come to light in the last days. But, "to the law and the prophets, if a man speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in him."
Jacob said while blessing Joseph: "Even the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above," &c. Now we ask what may be called the blessings of heaven, or the choice blessings of God? Surely, the precious blessings of heaven are his word, Spirit, revelations, administration of angels, gospel of Christ, &c. Moses prophecies of the same; "Blessed of the Lord be Joseph's land (America) for the precious things of heaven." The posterity of Joseph, the prophets have said, while dwelling in Palestine were rebellious, following after other gods; therefore, it was in this land that they have been blessed with the precious things of heaven. Hosea puts this matter beyond successful contradiction; the Lord speaking through him of Ephraim, says: "I have written to him the great things of my law; but they were counted as a strange thing." -- Ho. viii. 12. The Book of Mormon is counted a strange thing to this day.
Now if this people received revelations, and had inspired writings among them, we have reason to believe from what David says, that God has preserved them to come forth in the last days to help fill up the measure of knowledge, that it may cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. "The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation FOR EVER." -- Ps. xii. 6, 7. Thus if they had inspired writings, they were to be preserved, not in oblivion for ever, but to come to light; for said Jesus: "For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid that shall not be known and come abroad." -- Luke, viii. 17.
It is evident from the following that this writing of the tribe of Joseph, was to come forth, and be united with the Jewish scriptures: "The word of the Lord came again unto me saying, moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick and write upon it, for Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, for Joseph the stick of Ephraim, and for all the House of Israel his companions: and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, thus saith the Lord God, behold, I WILL TAKE THE STICK OF JOSEPH, WHICH IS IN THE HAND OF EPHRAIM, and the tribes of Israel his followers, and will put them with him, EVEN WITH THE STICK OF JUDAH, AND MAKE THEM ONE STICK, and they shall be one in mine hand." -- Eze. xxxvii. 15-19. It anciently was customary with the Jews to write their writings upon parchment, and roll them upon sticks; hence they used the term the stick of the law, the stick of Isaiah's prophecy, &c. The Jews use the term to this day. Therefore, nothing can be more plain than the above prophecy: there is presented two sticks with writings on them, the one to Ephraim, or Joseph, the other to Judah. That of Ephraim was to be brought forth by the Lord to unite with that of Judah, and they were to become one in his hand, or agree in testimony. It is plain that the stick with the writing upon it for Judah was a figure or sample representing the Old and New Testaments, or Jewish scriptures; and it is equally evident that the one for Ephraim has no allusion to them; but to a writing that was to be brought forth by the power of God just in time to gather Israel. The Jewish scriptures were not written by the tribe of Joseph; therefore, this writing for Ephraim has reference to a separate work from the Old and New Testaments; although agreeing in testimony: and it was to be brought forth, or united to them by the power of God. But says the objector, this prophecy can be otherwise explained, and shown to have been fulfilled a long time previous to this. We deny that it can be with propriety explained in any other way, or shown to have been fulfilled at any time previous. The following verses of the same chapter settles this point: "And say unto them, thus saith the Lord God, behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen whither they be gone and will gather them on every side, and bring them unto their own land; and will make them ONE nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neithier shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them; so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them: and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them."
Now reader go to the land of Canaan, and if you find the tribes of Israel gathered upon that land no more to be divided into two nations forever, living without sin, and a David reigning over them, then we will admit that this prophecy is fulfilled; but if you do not find them in this situation, then with us you will irresistably come to the conclusion that its fulfilment is in the future; that is the gathering of Israel; -- but this writing was to come forth as one of the instruments in the hands of God to gather Israel: consequently it is one of the antecedents. And now we testify that the Book of Mormon has come forth in fulfilment of this prophecy concerning the uniting of the two sticks or writings; and that it is a record of the descendants of Joseph upon this continent.
David is very plain upon this subject, speaking of the gathering of Israel, and the great work of God in general in the last days, says: "Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea the Lord shall give that which is good: and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before him, and shall set us in the way of his steps." -- Ps. lxxxv. 10-13. Christ praying for his disciples said: "Sanctify them through thy truth -- thy word is truth.' From these we learn that the word of the Lord was to spring out of the earth, while righteousness looks down from heaven. The next thing that was to follow was Israel set in the way of his steps partaking of the blessings of the land. The Book of Mormon, as we have before mentioned was deposited in the earth, and we believe that it has come to light in fulfilment of this prophecy.
We will now turn to the xxix of Isaiah; and from that we shall learn that a book was to come forth precisely like the Book of Mormon; but before we commence let us examine what the prophet had in view. In the xxviii, he exclaims as follows: "For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. Now, therefore, be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth." Thus having his eye fixed upon this great work of God, as the prophetic vision rolled before his mind, he saw intervening things, which he also used as a comparison, as follows: "Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices. Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and IT shall be unto me as Ariel." According to the particular construction of the above, the word IT does not stand for Ariel; but for some other city or nation; that was to be destroyed with a like destruction, as Ariel. It is not improbable, but that the prophet had reference to the Ephraimites, mentioned in the 28th chapter, whom he said were drunkards, "whose glorious beauty is a fading flower which are on the head of the fat valleys." This no doubt has an allusion to the Ephraimites dwelling in the various valleys of America, whose particular failings since the time the Lord withdrew the greater portion of his Spirit from them, have been rioting, drunkenness, &c. The prophet mentions the destruction that was to come upon them: "Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and destroying one, which, as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm," &c. "The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet." The Book of Mormon gives a full account of this destruction, which was similar to that the prophet described that came upon Ariel. Hence he says: "And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust." This cannot have reference to the destruction of Ariel, or the city where David dwelt: for the speech of the Jews has never whispered out of the ground, or from low out of the dust; but the ancients of America have been visited with destruction, and as we have before quoted, "trodden under feet," their writings, revelations, or their speech has been buried in the earth; but strange to tell, it has come forth, or whispered out of the dust. But to hasten:
The prophet resumes the subject, and mentions the particular destructions that were to come upon Ariel, and says: "And the multitude of all nations that fight against her and her munitions, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision." The Romans when they destroyed Jerusalem supposed that it never would be built again; but all their thoughts of obliterating the name, were like those of a dream; for God shall cause the city to be reared again. He then turns the subject and prophecies of the latter-day work of God: "It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and behold, he eateth: but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against mount Zion." From this we learn that those who fight against Zion, or the work of God in the last days, shall be visited with like destructions that Ariel was; -- such as the sword, with thunder, earthquakes, tempests, and with fire; and when they shall make efforts to destroy Zion, and think to put a stop to the progress of the work of the Lord, all their thoughts and efforts shall comparatively be like dreams. This Zion here mentioned no doubt is what the prophet alluded to where he says: "The Lord will do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act;" and the destruction that is to come upon those that fight against Zion, is the "consumption determined upon the whole earth." But says one, this Zion is synonymous with Ariel. If it is, then the prophet uttered incomprehensible nonsense: for in the first place he speaks of Ariel as being the object of a destruction; second, the nations that fight against Zion were also to be the objects of destruction, and not Zion.
The following establishes the idea that this Zion is a latter-day work: "But thou, 0 Lord, shall endure for ever, and thy remembrance unto all generations. Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof," "When the Lord shall build up Zion he shall appear in his glory." -- Ps. cii. 13-16. It is plain from the scriptures that the Lord has not yet appeared in his glory in fulfilment of this prophecy; for when he will appear in his glory, he will be accompanied with his saints and angels: therefore, Zion is not yet built. Furthermore all the Zion that ever was established at Jerusalem was in existence at the time David composed this Psalm. But he says: "This shall be written for a generation to come; and the people which shall be created." -- Isaiah, lx, speaking of the building of Zion, describes the materials that are to be used: for instance, such as the Pine-tree, Fur-tree, &c. He also says: "For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted." Some have supposed that the prophet here alludes to heaven; but we cannot receive such an idea, because he says, that the ships of Tarshish shall bring the people from far, and their gold and silver with them, to beautify the Lord's sanctuary. Men do not go to heaven in ships neither do they take their gold or silver with them!! He further adds: "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise. 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; the sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified." The above is so plain that it needs no comment whatever.
It is certain from the reading of the prophets that they all looked forward with joyful anticipations to the time when God should set his hand the second time to gather his people Israel from among the heathen, and from the North countries, and elsewhere; and when he will establish his Zion for the Millennium, and cause the walls of Jerusalem to be reared again, to the joy of the saints. Indeed, the prophets have said, that Zion and Jerusalem shall be places of deliverance at the time the judgements of God shall go forth among the nations. "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call." -- Joel, ii. 32. But to return to the subject of the Book of Mormon.
Isaiah after clearing the way before him by describing the establishment of Zion, or the great work of God, and the manner that those who mock, or oppose it, shall be destroyed, describes the generation in which it will commence; he then particularizes the instrument that God would bring forth as the antecedent to prepare the way. Hence, he breaks out with the following words: "Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger but not with strong drink." When was there ever a time that men staggered more at the promises of God than they do at the present time? "For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered." Surely, darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people. When Christ was on earth there were some few inspired men: for instance John the Baptist, Simeon, &c.; but since the apostacy, prophets, and seers have been covered; therefore, he has reference to a generation, or generations, after the beginning of the Christian era, and of course to some one as late as the present; therefore, he says: "And the vision of all (the one that shall first salute their ears) is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, read this I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed." When the Book of Mormon first came to light, words or characters were copied from the plates which contained the original, and sent to learned men; but they said, they could not fully decipher them: "And THE BOOK is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, read this I pray thee: and he saith I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precepts of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." Now we testify that this prophecy has been fulfilled in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and if it is not the right book, then another one must come forth in the same way, and exactly like it. That it was to be a latter-day work, is evident from the following: "Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field?" Lebanon is not yet turned unto a fruitful field; but after this work was to come to light, it was to be but a little while before it should be: "And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness."
(To be continued)
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, MARCH 15, 1841. No. 6.
THE CLAIMS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON
Now reader, we have said much about the tribe of Ephraim, and that the Book of Mormon, to use Ezekiel's words, is the "stick of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim;" and it is plain from the prophets that the Lord has chosen the tribes of Ephraim, and Judah, to be instruments in his hands to perform great works. Christ was of Judah, and the apostles were chiefly of the same tribe. They have performed their work, namely, preached the gospel to the nations of the earth, and written much by inspiration;-- but God has sent forth some of the writings of the tribe of Ephraim, or Joseph, and he will yet make instruments of them to gather Israel; and help prepare the way for the Millennium: therefore it is reasonable for us to look for their writings: for, according to Isaiah they were to have an abundance of them; speaking of the Ephraimites he says: "But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little." -- Isa. xxviii. 13. David says by the word of the Lord: "Ephraim is the strength of mine head; Judah is my law giver." -- Ps. lx. 7. Moses says: "His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together from the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh." -- Deut. xxxiii, 17. Now the children of Joseph, or Ephraim i never have been the instruments in the hands of God to gather in the people from the ends of the earth; but according to the above they will yet do it. Jeremiah is very plain on this subject: "For there shall be a day that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shalt cry, arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God. For thus saith the Lord, sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the North country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child, and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping and with supplications will I lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble; for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first born. hear ye the word of the Lord, O ye nations and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, he that scatterth will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord." -- Jer. xxxi 6-12. First it is said, in the above that the watchmen of Ephraim shall cry to the people saying, "arise ye let us go up to zion;" second, it is said that the children of Israel shall be restored; third when they are restored, Ephraim shall be the Lord's first-born. Ephraim was the second son of Joseph, and Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob; therefore this birth has reference to the Ephraimites, first of all the tribes receiving the gospel -- being born of God. Therefore, it is perfectly consistent with reason, for their writings to come forth to assist in this work of gathering.
Jeremiah connects the following with this work: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:" "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them saith, the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more." -- Jer. xxxi 31-34. Isaiah speaking of their restoration and the everlasting covenant that the Lord will make with them, says: "And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people." -- Isa. lxi. 9. Now we ask, can any one tell whether the American Indians are of Israel unless by revelation from God? This was a hidden mystery, which was necessary to be revealed in time for their gathering. -- But enough is already said upon this part of the subject. -- There is an abundance of collateral evidence in favour of this work, such, as the predictions of the prophets concerning the ensign that God will rear for the gathering of Israel; "setting his hand the second time to recover them," &c., which we shall hereafter notice under another head.
We will also for the satisfaction of the reader give a brief history, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, of the ancients in America -- How they came here -- Their prosperity -- Some of their teachings -- Some of their prophecies, and their fulfillment -- Their destruction -- The depositing of their records -- The manner in which the Book of Mormon was discovered and brought to light -- The testimony of several who testify to its truth -- O. Cowdery's letters, embracing the life and character of Joseph Smith, and some of the most important incidents connected with the establishment of the work of God in this our day and age of the world, &c., &c.
Six hundred years B. C. according to the Book of Mormon, Lehi, who was a righteous man, was forewarned of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonish captivity, who was commanded by the Lord, took his family and fled into the wilderness. He pitched his tent in the wilderness near the Red Sea, and sent back his sons to Jerusalem, who persuaded one Ishmael and his family to accompany them to their father Lehi. The Lord promised to lead them to a choice land above all lands; therefore they set out on their journey for this land. After a long and tedious journey, they came to the great waters, or the Ocean. Nephi, the son of Lehi, who was also a prophet, and their pilot, or leader in the wilderness; was commanded and instructed to build a ship sufficiently large to transport them over the sea. This work was accomplished in eight years from the time they left Jerusalem. They set sail, and in a proper time they landed, as we infer from their record, somewhere on the Western coast of South America. They immediately commenced tilling the earth, and erecting mansions for dwelling places.
Lehi had six sons, Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, Sam, Jacob, and Joseph. Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, rebelled against God, and would not keep his commandments; for this they were cursed. Their posterity, in process of time, became a powerful nation, but extremely wicked; and their chief occupations were hunting, plundering, and roving about from place to place. In the Book of Mormon, they are called Lamanites. The other sons of Lehi were obedient to the commands of God. Their posterity, also, in the course of time, became a great nation, and were called Nephites. To them God committed his divine oracles, (the holy priesthood,) and they had prophets and inspired men among them. They also kept a record of their prophecies and revelations, and the proceedings of their nation. When they left Jerusalem, they brought with them the law of Moses, and the writings of the former prophets, down to the days of Jeremiah. This accounts for the quotations from Isaiah and others, which are found in the Book of Mormon.
The Nephites tilled the land, built cities, and erected temples for places of worship; but the Lamanites lived a more indolent life; although, in some instances they built cities. The Nephites were at times faithful to God, at other times they were indifferent, and would not be faithful. They frequently had long and tedious wars with the Lamanites, and were often driven before them. They were constantly emigrating to the north. At length they commenced settlements in the region of country, not far from the Isthmus of Darien, and while in those parts they advanced farther in science and arts, than at any time previous, and built more spacious cities and buildings than they did before.
Six hundred and thirty odd years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem, Christ, after his resurrection, appeared unto many of the Nephites and established his church, chose disciples and sent them throughout the land to preach his gospel, thus fulfilling the saying: "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold them I must go and bring also."
Individuals of the Lamanites, at times, were obedient to the faith. The Nephites, after Christ's appearance were faithful for many years; but in the third or fourth century iniquity began to abound, and their love began to wax cold. Some dissented and raised up churches for the sake of gain; and thus they were troubled with the spirit of pride and haughtiness. God commanded Mormon, who lived in the fourth century, to preach repentance to them, and foretell their destruction if they would not repent. The Lord, foreseeing that they would not repent, commanded Mormon to collect the writings of his forefathers -- their revelations and prophecies, &c., and make an abridgment of them, and engrave them upon new plates, (their manner of keeping records was to engrave them on metallic plates.) But in consequence of their wars, and their flight to the North, to escape the Lamanites, he did not live to finish this work; and, when the final destruction of the Nephites drew near, he gave the records to his son Moroni, who lived to see their final extermination, or destruction by the hands of the Lamanites, and they, with his father left to moulder on the plain.
Thus a powerful nation, whose fathers were the favourites of heaven, were cut off, and their names have faded into oblivion. Oh! sin thou foul monster! Thou art terrible, thy ways are death! why didst thou cause such a nation to be blotted out of the earth?
The Indians of America are the descendants of the Lamanites, and according to predictions that are in the Book of Mormon, they will yet lay down their weapons of war and be converted unto the Lord.
Moroni finished compiling and abridging the records of his fathers, which he engraved upon new plates, for that purpose, to use his own words, as follows: "And now behold, we have written this record, according to our knowledge in the characters, which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large, we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record. But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof."
He also engraved on them an account, called the "Book of Ether," of a people who left the Old world, and came to this continent, at the time the language was confounded at Babel; which was a partial fulfilment of the saying: "So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth." -- Gen. xi. 8. If any person should wish to learn further concerning this people, let him read the Book of Mormon.
Moroni was then commanded to deposit this record in the earth, together with the Urim and Thummim, or as the Nephites would have said, Interpreters, which were instruments to assist in the work of the translation, with a promise from the Lord that it should be brought to light by means of a Gentile Nation that should possess the land; and be published to the world, and go forth to the Lamanites, and be one of the instruments in the hands of God for their conversion. It remained safe in the place where it was deposited, till it was brought to light by the administration of angels, and translated by the gift and power of God. But says one who ever heard of such a thing as a record being deposited in the earth? We answer that it is nothing more strange than it was for Jeremiah to hide the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant which contained the tables of stone, written upon by the finger of God, Aaron's rod, and the pot of manna in mount Nebo. This account is to be found in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament; 2nd Book of Maccabees, ii chapter. But says the objector, perhaps the account is not true? We answer that history corroborates it. This record was not designed to be a source of wealth or [worldly] profit to any one; but to be deposited again, because they were sacred, as much so, as the tables of stone on which the ten commandments were written. However they were shown to chosen witnesses, men of undoubted veracity, who testify that they saw it, and know by the voice of an angel that it is the work of God. But says the objector, again, why was it not shown to the world, and then there would have been no doubt about this matter? We answer: first because God commanded otherwise, which is the best of all reasons; second, the same may be said about the tables of stone; why did not Moses show them to all the children of Israel? We have no account of his showing them to but a few; but on the contrary they were placed in the Holy of Holy where the High priest was only allowed to enter once a year. Third, why did not Christ show himself to the Jews after his resurrection, and thus convince them that he was the true Messiah? Peter said: "Him God raised up the third day and showed him openly: not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead." Acts, x 40, 41. Thus the world had to believe the resurrection of christ from the testimony of interested witnesses, and not from disinterested. What men often think to be the best way, God generally looks upon as foolishness. We will here insert the testimony of three witnesses which is appended to the Book of Mormon page 572, third edition...
Now reader the above is as positive a testimony as there ever was concerning any truth that God ever revealed since the world began, and the knowledge that enabled them to testify professes to have come from heaven: therefore if it is deception, there is no other way to find it out but to receive intelligence from whence it professes to have come.It is affirmed to be true, from the testimony of an angel, and a million negatives will not make it false, or effect its truth in the least. There was a few individuals that testified to the resurrection of Christ from an actual knowledge -- they had seen him; but there were many nations that denied, and said he had not risen from the dead: but what did it all amount to? He came from heaven, and the only way for them to know whether he did or not, was to get a revelation. Noah testified of the flood, and for all that we know, all the Antediluvians took the negative side of the question; but what did it all amount to? Noah obtained his knowledge from heaven and condemned the whole world by his testimony; and yet they had as many reasons for rejecting him, as the people have for rejecting the Book of Mormon. Noah alone testified of the flood; but there are thousands that can testify that the Book of Mormon is true. If the Book of Mormon is the work of wicked men, it cannot be found out in any other way but by revelation; therefore those who oppose it, that have received no revelation, do not know whether they are fighting against God, or the Devil. Thus the Book of Mormon is supported by that kind of evidence that all the divines priests and professors cannot overthrow it. It bears its own weight: for it is true, and none can make it false. Indeed if there was no other evidence in favour of it, but the testimony of the three witnesses which we have inserted, we should consider ourselves under obligation to believe it, until a testimony is received from heaven to over-balance that which is in favour, which professes to have come from heaven. Others may think as they please. But says one, the characters of some of the founders of the sect are such that we have reason to believe that it is all a fabrication. We know of nothing that is derogatory to their characters, but the foul misrepresentations of priests, professors, and editors. The professors of religion circulated falsehoods about Christ, and the apostles; but all did not make Christ a false prophet. A thousand falsehoods are in circulation about the Book of Mormon, and those who were the instruments in the hands of God to bring about this work: and what do they all prove? If they prove any thing, they prove that they are men of God, and that the Book of Mormon is true. Christ said: "Blessed are ye when they shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake." "Woe be unto you when all men shall speak well of you." "If they have hated me they will hate you." Again, why were not these things revealed to some of the learned divines, instead of Joseph Smith? Answer why did not Christ choose for his apostles some of the High-priests of the Pharisees, or some of the doctors of the law instead of fishermen. "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise."
There is also the testimony of eight other witnesses who testify that they saw this record. Their testimony is to be found on the last page of the Book of Mormon. -- We will now extract a few prophecies from the Book of Mormon.
Nephi prophesying of this our day page 113 says:
"O ye Gentiles have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? nay: but ye have cursed them, and have hated them and have not sought to recover them. But behold I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord, hath not forgotten my people. Thou fool, that shall say, a bible, we have got a bible, and we need no more bible. Have ye obtained a bible, save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when two nations shall run together, the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. There are many of the House of Israel that do not believe that Christ is the true Messiah; and also many heathen nations; but when the Book of Mormon is presented unto them, they will discover that it is the testimony of another nation that was secluded from those of the Eastern continent, and without communication with each other, in those early times; but it agrees with the bible. The one, was written upon this continent, the other upon the Eastern; therefore when the servants of God shall preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and to the House of Israel, they will have the testimony of two nations to present unto them, that have run together, both affirming Christ to be the Son of God. This will be a testimony that will not be easily dispensed with; consequently they will search deep into the matter and peradventure learn that Jesus is the true Messiah. Hence we see the utility of the Book of Mormon -- for it is a testimony of a nation that was secluded from the Old world. "By the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word shall be established." ["]And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word, ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be, until the end of man; neither from that time henceforth and forever.
"Wherefore because that ye have a bible. ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written: for I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold I shall speak unto the Jews, and they shall write it; And I shall also speak unto the Nephites, and they shall write it; And I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the House of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth, and they shall write it.
"And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews: and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel: and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.
"And it shall come to pass that my people which are of the House of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will shew unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the House of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham, that I would remember his seed forever.
"And now. behold my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed. For behold I say unto you, that as many of the Gentiles as will repent, are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent, shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none, save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.
"And now, I would prophesy somewhat more concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. For after the book of which I have spoken shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the remnant of our seed. (When the Book of Mormon was first published to the world there were but a very few that believed it; but since that time it has gained thousands of believers, whether this prophecy was written by the inspiration of God or not.) And then shall the remnant of our seed (the aborigines of this continent, or the Red men of the forest,) know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews. And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ which was had among their fathers. And then shall they rejoice for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God: and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes: and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.
"And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered, also shall begin to believe in Christ: and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; (Canaan) and as many as shall believe in Christ, shall also become a delightsome people. (At the time the Book of Mormon was brought to light, the land of Canaan was in the hands of the Turks, who rigidly held possession of it, and would not allow the Jews the ordinary privileges of other citizens; but since that time there has been a great change in the Ottoman Empire, which now affords the Jews more liberty; and also the privilege to gather upon the land of their fathers. -- They have commenced gathering there by thousands, and are making preparations to build again the city of Jerusalem. Thus the above prophecy is fulfilling, and if it was not written by inspiration, we must admit at any rate, that the one who wrote it was good at guessing.)
"And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth. And with righteousness shall the Lord God judge the poor, and reprove with equity, for the meek of the earth. And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked; for the time speedily cometh, that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people; and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. And then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion and the fatling, together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Wherefore the things of all nations shall be made known: yea, all things shall be made known unto the children of men. There is nothing which is secret, save it shall be revealed; there is no works of darkness, save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth, save it shall be loosed. Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men, shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time. And now my beloved brethren, I make an end of my sayings."
Moroni prophesied of this our day ad of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the situation of this generation, as follows. Book of Mormon page 517
"Behold I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you. Behold, I make an end of speaking concerning this people. I am the son of Mormon, and my father was a descendant of Nephi; and I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord; the plates thereof are of no worth, because of the commandment of the Lord. For he truly saith, that no one shall have them to get gain; but the record thereof is of great worth and whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless. For none can have power to bring it to light, save it be given him of God; for God will that it shall be done with an eye single to his glory, or the welfare of the ancient and long dispersed covenant people of the Lord * * * And no one need say, they shall not come, for they surely shall, for the Lord hath spoken it; for out of the earth shall they come, by the hand of the Lord, and none can stay it; and it shall come in a day when it shall be said that miracles are done away; and it shall come even as if one should speak from the dead. And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness; (Reader, just remember the persecutions that have come upon the saints in the State of Missouri, and the many that have sealed their testimony with their own blood,) yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied and churches become defiled, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches, and teachers, in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches; yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands; and there shall also be heard of wars, and rumours of wars, and earthquakes in divers places; yea, it shall come iinni it day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders and robbing, and lying, and deceivings and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations, when there shall be many who will say, do this or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity. Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say, come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins. O ye wicked and perverse, and stiff-necked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God. For behold the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled. Behold the Lord hath shewn unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shewn you unto me, and I know your doing; and I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none, save a few only, who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities: and your churches, yea even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substances, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, O ye polluted ones, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon ye the name of Christ? Why do you not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness, than that misery which never dies, because of the praise of the world. Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick, and the afflicted, to pass by you, and notice them not? Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads? Behold the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer."
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, APRIL 1, 1841. No. 7.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM.Perhaps there is no portion of the sacred volume that has been an imaginary foundation for more wild, speculative, and enthusiastic notions, that Nebuchadnezzar's dream, recorded in the ii. chapter of the prophecy or vision of Daniel. But in our humble opinion there is no portion of the inspired writings more plain, positive, and explicit, than the above dream, and Daniel's interpretation of the same. However, we shall investigate the subject without much regard to the speculative notions of men. We have ever noticed in most of writings upon this subject, the evincement of an intense desire to support a party at all hazards. We have also discovered the foul practice of the divines, and commentators upon the sacred scriptures, of taking the advantage of the credulous community by handling the word of God deceitfully; spiritualizing such parts as do not, in their most literal sense, suit their purpose; but literalizing other parts that they can use to advantage without spiritualizing. We consider this a productive scheme for the propagation of sectarian principles; but an abominable one in the sight of God. Daniel in the exposition or interpretation of this dream is so plain, and definite in the fixing of times and dates, that there never has been any cause for one word of division whatever: and we trust that the sequel of the subject will disclose to every honest inquirer after truth, the fact that the dream reaches down to a generation as late as the one now on the stage of action and that it immediately concerns all nations.
In this dream and the interpretation of the same, we not only discover the wisdom of God in disclosing the history of future ages; but his willingness to uphold his people in time of trouble, and adversity. It is also manifest that with all Nebuchadnezzar's glory, and his faith in the mythological works of the Babylonians, and also the high pretentions of the magicians, wise men, to the supernatural power of divination, there was doubt on his mind, and he questioned the competency of the magicians to interpret dreams correctly. Hence he issues the proclamation that the magicians, and wise men, should tell him the dream, which should be an evidence to him that they were capable to make known the true interpretation. This proclamation was of such a nature, that honor and promotion, was promised on condition they could make known the dream; but immediate death if they failed doing it. Daniel and his brethren were soon ranked with the wise men of Babylon: "And they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain." We cannot help but remark here, that had it been a decree for their promotion only; they perhaps would have disdained the idea that Daniel and his fellows, who were poor captives of the tribe of Judah, being wise men; but in the time of adversity, and the severity of a decree, they were willing that others should be ranked with themselves. But when human wisdom was exhausted, and the magicians completely panic-struck in consequence of the severity of the decree, the Lord as usual showed himself to be a revealer of secrets -- a protector of the righteous -- a God at hand and not afar off. This revelation was a source of consolation to Daniel, and his brethren: for it saved them from being sacrificed to appease the wrath of the king; and the effect produced was the revocation of the impious decree. But to hasten.
Nebuchadnezzar after he had subdued many of the nations of the Old world, and greatly improved the beauty, and magnificence of the city of Babylon, began no doubt to reflect upon futurity, and as the mind of man is never dormant, hence during the moments of his soliloquy, or while upon his bed, it was a matter of study and reflection of his mind what should transpire in future ages. This is a thing common to all men, more especially to men of authority, like kings. The idea of death which strips them of all their earthly power and glory, fills them with horror, and causes the most intense reflections during the silent moments. This was the case with Nebuchadnezzar, and it pleased God to make known to him by a dream some important things of future ages, viz: the four great universal (so called) empires of the world, and the kingdom of God that shall transcend all kingdoms established by the wisdom and power of man, and in durability shall outlast them all, or in other words continue when all others are overthrown, and their names in a measure faded into oblivion.
Daniel when brought before Nebuchadnezzar to make known the dream, and the interpretation thereof, commences and says: (Dan. ii. 27.) "Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, the secret which the king hath demanded, cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the sooth-sayers, shew unto the king; but there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter-days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are: (As for thee, O King, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter; and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass: but as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart;) Thou, O king sawest, and, behold, a great image. This great image whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee, and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the
silver, the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king."
Daniel interprets this dream as follows: "Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven, hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. The reader will do well to bear in mind that Nebuchadnezzar is here described as the representative of the Babylonian empire: "Thou (or the empire) art this head of gold." It is evident from Daniel and many other prophets that during the rise and fall of kingdoms, four universal or more powerful than other kingdoms, were to arise and flourish at different periods of the world. In the above they are not only represented by the particular form of the tremendous image, that stood before the king: but by the different metals of which it was composed, gold, silver, brass, and iron. And we concur with the prophet that the Babylonian empire, which was formerly called the Assyrian, and which took its rise at a very early date, but underwent something of a change so that in Nebuchadnezzar's time it was called the Babylonian was the first universal empire on the list. But for the sake of brevity we shall not attempt to be particular in describing these kingdoms, not even to enter into the field of history to particularize the times and dates of their foundation; but only throw out some general hints upon the subject, that the inquirer may come to a correct understanding of the time for the establishment of the kingdom of God, -- its prevalence and perpetuity. Therefore, after setting down the Babylonian empire as the first described in the above we will proceed.
"And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee." This kingdom is represented by the breast and arms of the image, which were of silver. It is very well known, that the kingdom which succeeded the Babylonian, was the Medo-Persian. Perhaps the "arms" signify two kings the one of the Medes, the other of the Persians, whose powers were united under Cyrus, who was the son of one of the kings and son-in-law of the other, and who besieged Babylon and put an end to that empire, and on its ruins erected the Medo-Persian, or the Persian as it is more usually called, the Persians having soon gained the ascendency over the Medes. No one disputes but what the Persian empire was a very powerful one, yet according to Daniel, it was some what inferior, or less than the former: for neither Cyrus nor any of his successors ever carried their arms into Africa or Spain as far as Nebuchadnezzar is reported to have done. Therefore, we set down the Persian empire as being the second of these great kingdoms, represented by the great image.
"And another third kingdom of brass which shall bear rule over all the earth." That the Macedonians headed by Alexander the Great, subverted the Persian empire is well known; the kingdom therefore, which succeeded the Persian, and which was the third great empire, was the Macedonian. Alexander lived to spread his conquests into Asia, Africa, and over much of Europe, and after his death the kingdom was divided among four of his generals; but the Selucidae of Syria, and the Lagidae of Egypt were the two most powerful of the four; hence, some have advanced the idea, and perhaps not without some propriety, that they were represented by the thighs of brass; yet all were of the Brazen, Greek, or Macedonian empire. Thus we conclude that the Macedonian empire was the third, which also was represented by the brass of the image.
"And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron; forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that breaketh all these shall it break in pieces and bruise." This fourth kingdom, which was the Roman, is described as being stronger than the preceding. As iron breaketh all other metals, and is more obdurate, so the Roman empire broke in pieces the former kingdoms, and exhibited more strength and durability than the preceding one. The legs, feet, and toes of the image must certainly denote the Roman; for there never was any other nation on earth that answered Daniel's description but the Roman. Indeed, he first describes it as being very strong, or powerful; but afterwards becoming more weak and divided: and finally divided into ten different kingdoms, which were represented by the ten toes of the image. The Roman empire was at length divided into ten lesser kingdoms, as we shall see hereafter. These kingdoms retained much of the old Roman strength, and manifested it upon several occasions, so that "the kingdom was partly strong and partly broken." They mingle themselves with the seed of men;" they made marriages and alliances, one with another, as they do to this day; but no hearty union ensued. The Roman empire, therefore, is represented in a double state: first, with the strength of iron, conquering all before it, "his legs of iron" and then weakened and divided by the mixture of barbarous nations, "his feet part of iron and part of clay." It subdued Syria, and made the kingdom of the Selucidae a Roman province in the year 65 B. C.; it subdued Egypt and made the kingdom of the Lagadae a Roman province in the year 30 B. C.; and in the fourth century after Christ, it began to be torn in pieces by the incursions of the barbarous nations, and at length divided into ten kingdoms. The principle part of the modern kingdoms of Europe are the remains of those ten kingdoms of the Roman empire.
Historians, and chronologists have given the following list of the divisions of this great empire, the times and dates, &c. Mr. Mede reckons up the ten kingdoms thus, in the year 456, the year after Rome was sacked by Genseric, king of the Vandals: "first, the Britons; second, the Saxons in Britain; third, the Franks; fourth, the Burgundians in France; fifth, the Wisigoths in the south of France and part of Spain; sixth, the Sueves and Alans in Gallicia and Portugal; seventh, the Vandals in Africa; eighth, the Alemanes in Germany; ninth, the Ostrogoths whom the Longobards succeeded in Pannonia, and afterwards in Italy; tenth, the Greeks in the residue of the empire."
Bishop Lloyd exhibits the following list of the ten kingdoms with the time of their rise: "First, the Huns about A. D. 356; second, the Ostrogoths 377; third, the Wisigoths 378; fourth, the Franks 407; fifth, the Vandals 407; sixth, the Sueves and Alans 407; seventh, the Burgundians 407; eighth, the Herules and Rugians 476; ninth, the Saxons 476; tenth, the Longobards began to reign in Hungary A. D. 526; and were seated in the northern parts of Germany about the year 483.
Sir Isaac Newton enumerates them thus: First, the kingdom of the Vandals and Alans in Spain and Africa; second, the kingdom of the Suevians in Spain; third, the kingdom of the Visigoths; fourth, the kingdom of the Alans in Gallia; fifth, the kingdom of the Burgundians; sixth, the kingdom of the Franks; seventh, the kingdom of the Britons; eighth, the kingdom of the Huns; ninth, the kingdom of the Lombards; tenth, the kingdom of Ravenna."
Bishop Newton reckons up these kingdoms thus: "First, the senate of Rome, who revolted from the Greek emperors, and claimed and exerted the privilege of choosing a new western emperor; second, of the Greeks in Ravenna; third, of the Lombards in Lombardy; fourth, the Huns in Hungary; fifth, of the Alemanes in Germany; sixth, of the Franks in France; seventh, of the Burgundians in Burgundy; eighth, of the Goths in Spain; ninth, of the Britons; tenth, of the Saxons in Britain."
The few variations in these accounts must be ascribed to the great disorder of the times, one kingdom falling and another rising. And as a learned writer remarks, "all these kingdoms were variously divided either by conquest or by inheritance. However, as if that number of ten had been fatal in the Roman dominions, it hath been taken notice of upon particular occasions. As about A. D. 1240, by Eberard, bishop of Saltsburgh, in the diet at Ratisbon. At the time of the Reformation they were also ten. So that the Roman empire was divided into ten in a manner first and last." Although names and forms of government have been changed, yet it is evident that the remains of the most of these ten kingdoms, if not all, are now in existence.
Daniel in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon, saw in a vision the same in amount that Nebuchadnezzar saw, viz., the four empires represented by four different beasts. First, the Babylonian by a lion having eagle's wings; second, the Medo-Persian by a bear having three ribs in its mouth; third, the Macedonian by a leopard which had upon its back four wings; fourth, the Roman: "After this I saw in the night vision, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns." (see Dan. vii.) "And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise," or in other words ten kingdoms. Single individuals are not the subjects of this prophecy; but kingdoms.
St. John in his Apocalypse is very plain upon this subject: "And I saw a beast rise up out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns." -- Rev. xiii. 1. The angel interprets this in another place: "The seven heads are seven mountains;" perhaps this alludes to the various elevated parts upon which the city of Rome was built. "The ten horns are ten kings," or kingdoms: and the following shows that they were in the main to last till, or near the time of the second coming of Christ: "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is the Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." -- Rev. xvii. 14. But enough is already said upon this part of the subject, -- for something of more importance is still ahead.
"And in the days of these kings (or kingdoms) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain and the interpretation thereof sure." But few dispute but what this alludes to the ecclesiastical kingdom of God; but the time when it was to commence is the point at issue. It will be remembered that the stone was to smite the image's toes or feet first. Commentators, and the divines have generally set down the time of its commencement at the commencement of the Christian era; but in so doing they have apparently tortured their thinking powers, betrayed their imbecility, and exposed their consummate ignorance of the inevitable force of prophecy upon this subject. Nothing can be more definite and explicit, than that the feet and toes of the great image represents the divisions of the Roman empire -- now the modern kingdoms of Europe. Again, nothing is more plain than that this stone, "cut out without hands," was to strike the toes of the image. When Christ came, the toes of the image, or the ten kingdoms were not in existence. "In the days of these kings," or kingdoms. What kingdoms? We answer, the modern kingdoms of Europe, "shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed." But says one, perhaps this stone commenced rolling at the appearing of Christ, but has not yet subdued these kingdoms. We answer, that this kingdom is not to be left to other people, or in other words it shall not be overcome; but when we examine the organization of the kingdom of God in the days of the apostles, and put it in juxtaposition with those of the Catholic, and Protestant denominations, we discover that the latter is quite different from the former; and as there can be no regular succession of authority traced from the apostles to the present time, we are led to conclude that the rolling of this stone is a latter-day work. Daniel while speaking of these kingdoms says, he saw a little horn, which no doubt alludes to popery, that made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; "and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws, &c." John says, that power was given to the beast to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. Isaiah says, that "they have transgressed the law, changed the ordinance, and broken the everlasting covenant." These with many other passages prove to a demonstration that there was to be a great falling away, and disorganization of the church after the days of the apostles. But this kingdom that Daniel describes was "never" to be destroyed; or overcome. However, we do not wish to be understood that this kingdom represented by the stone, is to be entirely different from the one of the days of the apostles, in its form, government, and laws; but in one sense of the word a renewal of that one. But says the objector, there is but one kingdom of God: therefore, it certainly must have commenced at the beginning of the Christian era. Very good, there is but one kingdom of God; but we might say with equal propriety that it commenced in the days of Abraham, or Moses: for according to the scriptures the gospel was preached to Abraham, and also the children of Israel in the wilderness. Daniel most unquestionably in speaking of this kingdom, did not allude to the sameness of uniformity of its laws in all ages of the world; but to the time when God should organize it anew, and prepare the way for his second coming. Daniel did not say that this kingdom should be entirely new; but only: "In the days of the kings the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom." If it is termed new, it is for this reason, that on every occasion when God has reorganized his kingdom, he has brought forth something new as an appendage, not to change or unlawfully add to the law, or gospel of Christ. For instance, in the last days God has given revelation, and commandments concerning the gathering of Israel and the building of Zion, &c. These commandments were not given to the apostles.
Again, it is said, that this kingdom, or stone, should beat fine the iron, clay, brass, silver, and the gold; and some have supposed that it cannot be a latter day work because the four great empires were to be beat fine, and completely exterminated, or to use the scripture phrase "blown to the four winds like the chaff of the summer threshing floor" but they have been destroyed many hundred years. Three of these great empires were destroyed prior to the appearance of Christ: then admitting for the present that the stone commenced rolling the days of the apostles, how could it even then break in pieces those empires.
Let us go back and take another view of the great empires. The Babylonian empire was as we have before mentioned, conquered, and overthrown by the Medes and Persians; but this is not saying that every fragment of it was entirely annihilated. For instance, if the city of Philadelphia should be taken by an enemy, and in a great measure destroyed, and then should be rebuilt by another people, and some of the old materials used, and it should be called by another name, and governed by different laws, it could not be said that there were none of the fragments left to be perpetuated. Indeed, would we not use a proper term to say that is was remodeled over, or transformed into another city? The Babylonian empire was remodeled, or transformed into the Medo-Persian. In like manner the Medo-Persian was transformed into the Macedonian, and the Macedonian into the Roman. But there is something different in the fate of the Roman than the predeeding [preceding]. When the imperial power was weakened by the barbarous nations, within its dominions, ten kingdoms, sprung up: some by inheritance others by conquest. Thus one kingdom was transformed into another from the Babylonian down to the various kingdoms of Europe. Hence, when we take all things into consideration, we discover that it may be said with a degree of propriety that when the stone cut out without hands commences to roll, and increases its velocity, it well beat fine or do away the iron, the brazen, the silver and the golden empires; or more properly their descendants; for indeed, there has been a great amalgamation of all these empires. Thus when the stone smites the mighty image upon his feet nations will begin to tremble, and kingdoms and empires shall come to nought or fall to ruin beneath its universal prevalence -- and it will roll forth till the knowledge of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea, and untill [until] all the works of men, that are opposed to the principles of righteousness, are done away, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of Christ.
Again, the fact that this stone was not to smite the image upon his head, first but upon the toes is evidence in favor of the work of God commencing in the western part of the earth from Asia. These empires represented by the image commenced in Asia, and have reached to Europe, and may we not say in a measure to America: for indeed, the European emigrants to America are principally descendants of the ten kingdoms of Europe. Many of the theological writers of both Europe and America, admit this. Surely this kingdom represented by the stone perfectly harmonizes with the predictions of the prophets concerning the ensign that was to be reared upon this land, that we have before mentioned. Thus according to the dream the stone is to roll and strike the feet of the image, and retrace the route of the succession of the empires, that is, from the feet to the head, or in other words commence where any part of the toes can be found, say America; and from this to Europe, where the remains of the ten kingdoms are; and from thence to Asia, and so on till the image is destroyed. We would here remark, that it is not our intention to be understood that this destruction is to be accomplished by the physical force of the people of God, but by the preaching of the gospel, and the judgments and power of God.
Now it was not possible for the stone to strike the toes of the image until several hundred years after Christ, because as we have before said, they were not in existence at his day. And if we admit that it commenced rolling in fulfillment of the prediction at that day, we are under the necessity of admitting also that it has not made the first step towards accomplishing that which Daniel said it should. It is said that this kingdom of God shall overthrow the kingdoms of the world; but when we take a retrospective view of the Christian church since the resurrection of Christ, its progress exhibits to the unbiased mind something to the contrary. It is true that during the first three of four centuries there were faithful Christians, and no doubt there have been many honest men and women, who have worshiped [worshipped] God according to the best of their knowledge in all centuries; but their religious rites were much restricted by the vulture fangs of popery. The Mother Church retained her ecclesiastical power, and instead of the "beating fine the kingdoms of the earth," she has been the support of many of the political powers. Indeed, in many instances church and state have been united; but according to Daniel there was to be no union of the ecclesiastical, and political powers in this way; but the whole world to be subjected to one ecclesiastical form of government-and that will be God's government.
(Continued on first page of next Number.)
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, APRIL 15, 1841. No. 8.
It is also said, that this stone as it rolls shall increase in magnitude till it fills the whole earth. Many sects have sprung up since the commencement of the Christian era, and many have fallen; and indeed, it cannot be said that any have lasted through all ages, and increased in magnitude, but the Mother Church. It is true, since the days of the reformation the Protestants have increased in number; but they, as we have before shown, do not answer Daniel's description of the kingdom of God. "It (the kingdom of God) shall never be destroyed," that is, it shall never be overcome, or disorganized; but the kingdom that was established in the first century has been disorganized and overcome, or in other words the saints overcome, as we have before proved by the predictions of the prophets. "And the kingdom shall not be left to other people;" none shall have power or authority over the spiritual affairs of the kingdom but those whom God appoints: and again, its laws, and ordinances shall not be changed; but remain invariably the same for ever. -- This cannot be said of the Christian church in all ages past; for it is well known that on several occasions, kings and emperors, have taken the ecclesiastical power into their own hands: for instance, Henry the VIII of England, and many others. It is also well known that there has been a great changing of the laws and ordinances of the church. However, we do not wish to be understood that it is in the power of man to revoke a decree of the Great God; but at the time of the establishment of Popery, new ordinances were substituted; consequently God withdrew his Spirit, and took away the holy priesthood, and thus left the Mother Church just what Daniel described her to be: "And there came up another little horn (or another power) having eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things; I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." It has been a characteristic of the Mother Church to persecute the saints that would not concede to her foolish doctrines when there was no law of the land to restrain her from it.
From the foregoing remarks we trust that the reader will readily discover the impropriety of dating the time of the commencement of the kingdom of God, represented by the stone that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, at the beginning of the Christian era; and no one in his sober senses will pretend to say, that it commenced when Popery was set up -- consequently it is a work of the latter-days. This is what Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar: "But there is a God in heaven that maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter-days."
Indeed, this is the kingdom that the Lord will establish for the millennium, and when all the kingdoms of this world are done away, then
will be fulfilled the saying of Daniel in the vii chapter: "But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever." "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." The words of John the Revelator, which we have before quoted, comes again to the mind with force: "These (ten kingdoms) shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings, and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." -- Rev. xvii. 14. This places the destruction of these kingdoms, and the prevalence of the kingdom of God in the future as yet; and puts the matter beyond successful contradiction, that the rolling forth of the stone was not fulfilled in the progression of either the Catholics, or Protestants: for as we have before said, these kingdoms of Europe are more or less upheld by the various ecclesiastical powers. But according to the above quotation these kingdoms are to make war with the Lamb; and if we reason from analogy we must conclude that these various ecclesiastical powers will also make war with him. For indeed, how can such kingdoms make war without the churches of the same being more or less engaged in the contest?
Thus we discover that the final overthrow of these empires will not take place till they make war with the Lamb. Daniel also places their destruction, to but a short time previous to the millennium, or to the time when the Ancient of days shall sit. (See Dan. vii. 9-11) Then the great image will be beat fine like the chaff of the summer threshing floor, and the kingdom of God prevail -- the kingdom of heaven come, and the will of God be done on earth as it is done in heaven, -- and peace flow like a river to all the people of God.
Now when we put what Daniel has said about the kingdom of God, in conjunction with what the prophets have said about the ensign of the Lord for the gathering of Israel, and then add what John has said about the angel flying in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach to all nations, &c., they give a clear and conclusive idea of the great work of God-the commencement of his kingdom, its prosperity, its universal prevalence, and the destruction of the kingdoms of this world. Then will be fulfilled another saying of John: "And the seventh angel sounded: and there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever." -- Rev. xi. 15.
We are indebted to Elder E. Snow for the following article on priesthood, and in consequence of the pure sentiments which it contains, we cheerfully give it publicity through the means of the "Gospel Reflector."
ON PRIESTHOOD."Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenants, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation." -- Exodus, xix. 5-6.
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood." -- Peter.
In all ages from Adam to the latest generation, when God acknowledged a people to be his, there has been a priesthood among them or a delegation of authority by which all the ordinances of God's house were administered. The are in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, recent revelations on Priesthood, which say, there are in the church two Priesthoods, viz: the Melchizedek, and the Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood. Before the days of Melchizedek the church called the former the holy priesthood after the order of the Son of God; but Melchizedek being a mighty man, and a great high priest, they from, and after his day called it the Melchizedek priesthood, to avoid the too frequent repetition of the name of the Supreme Being. The latter was called the Aaronic priesthood, because it was conferred upon Aaron, and his sons throughout all their generations, to be a perpetual covenant of priesthood. (See Exodus, xl. 15 and xxix 9; Num. xxv. 13.) It is called the lesser priesthood because it is an appendage to the greater: for all lesser authorities, and offices in the church in all ages, are appendages to the Melchizedek priesthood; but there are two divisions of grand heads. The office of an elder comes under the Melchizedek; that of a teacher, and deacon under the Aaronic, or lesser priesthood. Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews says much concerning these two priesthoods, and of the superior excellence of the Melchizedek over the Levitical order.
This Melchizedek flourished in the days of Abraham, about two thousand years before Christ. Moses tells us -- Gen. xiv. 18, that he blessed Abraham, and he was priest of the Most High God, and king of Salem, which was the original name of Jerusalem. Many eminent writers are of the opinion that he was the founder of that city, and that it subsequently fell into the hands of the Jebusites, from whom it received the prefix Jeru: and Jerusalem was governed by Adonizedec the Amorite, at the time of its capture by Joshua, about fourteen hundred and fifty years before Christ. (See Josh. x. 1.)
This priesthood did not originate with Melchizedek; neither was it confined to him, as many suppose; but was conferred on many, both before, and after him: and it is as ancient as the Son of God himself, who was with the Father from the beginning: for it is said of him -- Ps. cx. 4, "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."
When we speak of an order of priesthood we convey an idea of a succession of priests and various smaller offices in the priesthood; as when Paul speaks of the order of Melchizedek, and the order of Aaron. -- Heb. vii. 11. As there were many who had the priesthood after the order of Aaron, would it not be nonsense to talk about the order of Melchizedek if he was the only man who ever had the priesthood? As Moses' account of his ancestors was very brief, he necessarily said but little about the church, or order of priesthood, which existed before his day; but the hints he as given are sufficient to show us there was such an order existing from the beginning. Alma in the Book of Mormon, page 253, 3rd edition, is very plain on this subject. He shows that there were many, both before, and after Melchizedek; but none were greater, and he was king in the land of Salem, and when his people had corrupted themselves before the Lord, he exercised mighty faith, took upon himself the high priesthood and preached repentance unto his people, and they did repent and he established peace in the land. Therefore, he was called the Prince of peace. He moreover shows that this priesthood, being the priesthood of the son of God, is an everlasting, and an unchangeable one without beginning or end.
Some ignorant translator, or heedless transcriber has made Paul say, Heb. vii. 3, that Melchizedek was without beginning or end; without father, mother, or descent; but again in the 6th verse he makes it appear that he had a descent. By reading the chapter it will be seen that Paul spake not of the person of Melchizedek as being without father, or mother; but of his priesthood in contradistinction to the priesthood of Aaron, which was entailed upon his posterity, and descended from father to son. But the decree of Jehovah concerning those who receive and magnify the office of the holy priesthood, is that they shall hold it, not only in time, but in eternity. Therefore, with them the priesthood has no end. (See Rev. v. 10; xx. 6; xxii. 5.)
I am aware that it is believed by many theologians that no priesthood acknowledged of God, existed among men previous to the covenant of priesthood established with Aaron. As objections to this theory, I shall urge the following: first, Paul says, Heb. viii. 3, "For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices:" Again, xi. 4, he says, Abel offered an acceptable offering unto God, but Cain's sacrifice was not acceptable because he did not offer it in faith; also, Enoch the seventh from Adam walked with God three hundred years, and then by faith was translated to heaven. (See Gen. v. 22; Heb. xi. 5.) Noah also, it is said, offered sacrifices unto God immediately after coming out of the ark. (See Gen. viii. 20.) Also Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many others, after the flood offered acceptable sacrifices to God. All these, it is said, offered their sacrifices in faith, and how I ask did they offer them by faith? Answer; even Abel's lamb, and all their offerings were but types of the Lamb of God, who should be offered in due time without spot to God as the great sacrifice for the sins of the world, and they as they offered their sacrifices looked forward by faith to him, expecting to receive redemption and remission of sins through his blood: for Christ said, "Abraham truly saw my day and when he saw it he was glad." Moreover it is said, Gal. iii. 8, that the Gospel was preached unto Abraham.
Now, if we had a full history of Adam and his sons, we should learn that God made known the plan of salvation to him, and confered [conferred] on him the priesthood, and he upon his sons Abel, Cain and Seth; and that it was continued with the seed of Seth till Enoch, and from Enoch to Noah and his son Shem, and among the seed of Shem to Abraham, and down to Jethro, priest in the land of Midian.
Midian was the son of Abraham, by his second wife Keturah. He and his posterity peopled the land, which was called after his name, and Jethro being the fifth in regular descent from Midian, loved in the days of Moses, and was priest of the Most High God, when Moses was a young man, forty years before God called him to lead Israel from Egypt. (See Exodus iii. 1.) Moses married Jethro's daughter, and lived with him about forty years, and then God sent him to lead Israel out of Egypt: and we are told in the eighteenth chapter of Exodus that after Moses had brought Israel into the wilderness Jethro came to them, and praised God among them, and offered sacrifices and set in order all the officers in Israel, and gave Moses commandments how to proceed: and all this was long before Aaron and his sons were consecrated to the priest's office. A priest of On is also spoken of.
Second, I shall urge from the foregoing, if Jethro, Melchizedek, and others, had the priesthood before Aaron, and if, as Paul says, high-priests were ordained to offer sacrifices, the argument is conclusive that those holy men, from Adam down to Jethro, had the priesthood. It should not be forgotten also, that the text at the head of this article, in which God proposed to make Israel a kingdom of priests, was spoken by Moses long previous to the covenant of priesthood established with Aaron, from which it will appear that the office of the priesthood was well understood by them.
Third, I shall urge what every one who is acquainted with heathen mythology knows, that from a short time after the food the heathens had their priests, and sacred orders to officiate in their worship. If it is asked how such customs were established among them? I answer: when about 150 years after the flood, the wicked part of the posterity of Noah built the tower of Babel the Lord confounded their language and scattered them in companies throughout all parts of the Earth; as we are told Gen. xi. 9: and different nations sprang up in Idolatry, speaking different dialects, and as they had a partial knowledge of the true worship of God, which was had among the posterity of Shem in their native land; they, in their idolatrous condition counterfeited the true priesthood, and the religion of heaven.
Now as it is known that such a worship and priesthood did exist among the heathens in those early ages before Aaron, and as there can be no counterfeit without true coin, it follows of course that a holy priesthood existed among the children of God, which the heathens patterned after; for it cannot be said, with propriety, that the great Jehovah in establishing a priesthood among the children of Israel, patterned after the heathen world.
Fourth, it does not even appear from the scriptures that the order of priesthood established with the tribe of Levi, of which Aaron was chief, was at that time instituted. But it appears that they were inducted into an office that previously existed, which was well understood in Israel. The Lord said unto Moses, Exodus, xxviii 1, "And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him from among the children of Israel that they may minister unto me in the priest's office." Again Ex. xxx. 30, "And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them that they may minister unto me in the priest's office." Chap. xxix. 9, "And the priest's office shall be their's for a perpetual statute." Chap. xl. 15, "For their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations." Much is said also in other passages concerning all the rest of the tribe of Levi officiating under the direction of Aaron and his sons in offices of less denominations; but nothing is said signifying that the priesthood was a new institution. An order of priests inferior to Moses, is also mentioned, Ex. xix. 24, before the above was spoken. I therefore infer from the scriptures as well as from recent revelations that Aaron and his sons were chosen to preside over the lesser priesthood, and to hold the keys of the same, which office was declared hereditary in his family by a perpetual statute. Whereas before Aaron, the right of presiding belonged to the first born in all the families of the chosen seed; hence called the birthright, from which arose patriarchal governments. But we are told that God chose the tribe of Levi to officiate in the place of the first born of all the families of Israel. -- Num. iii. 12, Paul says, Heb. vii. 11, "Under the Levitical priesthood the people received the law," that is the old ceremonial law of carnal commandments, as he calls it, given by Moses. Now if they receive the law under that priesthood, the priesthood must have existed before the law, and was not instituted as some suppose, for the express purpose of executing those rites and ceremonies. But it must be remembered that the holy priesthood after the order of the Son of God was not confirmed upon the tribe of Levi. We are told in a revelation in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, that Moses held that priesthood, and that he received it under the hand of his father-in-law Jethro, priest of Midian; and it is evident from the scriptures that Moses had some priesthood greater than the Levitical order: and if Jethro had not the holy priesthood, how could he have authority over Moses, and all other officers in Israel to regulate all matters, as is stated in the eighteenth chapter of Exodus?
The priesthood after the order of Melchizedek holds a right to officiate in all the offices, and ordinances of God's house, from the highest to the lowest in all ages; and we learn from Heb. iv. 2, that the gospel was preached to the children of Israel in the wilderness; and also from 1 Cor. x. 2., that they were baptized unto Moses the same as the Jews were baptized unto John, he preaching baptism and baptizing them.-We are also told in Heb. xi. from the 24 to the 26 verse inclusive, that when Moses was a young man in Egypt before he fled to Midian, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproaches of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt: wherefore Moses must have believed in Christ who was to come; and that belief was public, and he was reproached for Christ's sake therefore, he esteemed the reproaches of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt; -- hence I infer that Moses after he fled from Egypt to escape his persecutors, was ordained by Jethro to the holy priesthood, and subsequently preached the Gospel to this people Israel, and taught them faith in Christ who should come, and baptized those who believed; but if Moses had no priesthood, how could he consecrate other priests? But notwithstanding he preached the Gospel to them, and offered them the blessings of the Holy priesthood, and God proposed to make them a kingdom of priests; yet they afterwards in the wilderness hardened their hearts in unbellef [disbelief], and rebelled against Moses and the holy priesthood, and provoked the Lord to anger until he swore in his wrath they should not enter into his rest; and we are told, Gal. ii. 19, the law was added, because of their transgressions, to continue with them till Christ should come: and again, in Heb. ix. 10, this law consisted "only in meats, drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances imposed on them until the time of reformation." Thus it was, they rendered themselves unworthy of the blessings of the Gospel and the Melchizedek priesthood, and God took Moses out of their midst and the holy priesthood from among them, and the lesser priesthood continued with the tribe of Levi to officiate under the law until John the Baptist. He being the only son of Zechariah the priest, was the legal heir to the Aaronic priesthood; but Christ being a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek, reinstated the holy priesthood again in his church. It is probable however, that between Moses and Christ, God conferred the holy priesthood on different individuals who were not the tribe of Levi: for instance, Samuel the Ephraimite, Samson and his father Manoah of the tribe of Dan, Elijah the Tishbite, Elisha, Isaiah, and many others. Having thus endeavored to trace these two priesthoods down till Christ came, I shall now take a brief view of them as they existed in the Apostolic age, and from that period till the present day.
By comparing together the two passages of scripture, which stand at the head of this article, one spoken by Moses to Israel, the other by Peter to the Christian church in his day, it will be seen that the blessings conditionally promised to Israel, and the "holy Priesthood," which through their transgressions they were deprived of, were subsequently conferred upon the Christian church: "ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, and holy priesthood." We are told in John's Gospel, xv. 16, that Christ ordained his apostles; and of course he ordained them to the same priesthood he had himself: for the Apostleship is the high priesthood; hence Christ is called the Great Apostle, and High Priest of our profession. -- Heb. iii. 1. Unto Peter, (who was also called Cephas, were the keys of this ministry committed,) and James and John were his assistants and counsellors, and those three Paul says, seemed to be pillars of the church. -- Gal. ii. 9. Next to the apostles in office came the seventy, Luke x. 1, whom Jesus called to be travelling ministers in all the world, which agreed with the order of the seventy elders, mentioned, Ex. xxiv. 1-9, which were ordained under the same priesthood in Moses' day. Besides these travelling elders there were standing elders ordained in all branches of the church in all parts of the world. (See Acts xiv. 23. Tit. i. 5.) It appears from the scriptures that the office of an elder is next inferior to the apostleship in all spiritual affairs: for instance when the question of circumcizing the Gentiles was agitated, the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. -- Acts xv. 6. After elders came priests of the lower order of priesthood, then teachers, and deacons, which are appendages to that priesthood. All these officers combined, form that spiritual house, and holy priesthood of which Peter speaks; being appendages one to the other, as members of the same body, and timbers of the same building, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone; the great apostle and high priest, and Peter, James, and John, the main pillars. Other apostles and elders the principal timbers. The lesser offices, studs and braces, and all combined, a royal priesthood. Be not startled, gentle reader, at the idea of these two priesthoods being blended together in the Church. The lesser priesthood always was an appendage to the greater, and I trust I have already conclusively shown that the lesser as well as the Melchizedek priesthood existed before the ceremonial law was given by Moses; but when the law was given, and the holy priesthood taken away, the lesser priesthood continued officiating under the law until Christ came and fulfilled the law; and most people believe this priesthood was done away with the law; but if it existed among the people of God before the law was given, why may it not continue after
it is done away. But we have something positive to offer on this point. In Num. xxv. 13, it is called an everlasting priesthood. Also, Ex. xl, 15, God, said it "shall be an everlasting priesthood through their generations.
The law being abolished with the Jewish rites and ceremonies, the priests who rejected the Gospel, were no longer acceptable to God; but those who held the lesser priesthood in the church of Christ administered outward ordinances -- the letter of the gospel, viz., baptism in water for remission of sins, -- and the apostleship or high priesthood, and eldership its appendage, held the right to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost; and to officiate in all the lesser offices in God's house. Hence, Philip one of the seven ordained in Jerusalem to attend to the daily ministration, who probably held the lesser priesthood, went down to Samaria and preached and baptised the people in water. Then Peter and John, went down and prayed, and laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost.
John the baptist also, who inherited the Aaronic prieshood [priesthood] from his ancestors baptized in water for the remission of sins, telling them at the same time that Jesus should batized [baptize] them with the Holy Ghost, he having the Melchizedek priesthood. Dr. Clark, and Dr. Lightfoot, inform us that water baptism was very common among the Jews, even as far back as the days of David, and Solomon. The manner in which men were consecrated, and the priesthood continued from one to the other, and from one generation to another was as follows: when they were found worthy, being prepared from before the foundation of the world, according to the fore-knowledge of God, and when God manifested that it was his will, they were consecrated by the imposition of hands, and ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, who was in the one who ordained them. No man can rise up and assume the priesthood, for Paul says, Heb. v. 4. "No man taketh this honor unto himself but he that is called of God as was Aaron." For further proof of the manner of ordaining, see Acts, xiii. 2, 3. "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." See also Acts, vi. 6, and first Tim. iv. 14. "Neglect not the gift that is in thee which was given thee by prophecy, by the laying on of the hands of the presbytry." Simple as the imposition of hands is, great things have been done by it when administered by the servants of God in faith. The prophet Habbakkuk describing the coming of the Lord says: "His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise, he had horns coming out of his hands, and there was the hiding of his power." Often, in scripture, horns were figuratively used to represent power, as in this case, "Horns coming out of his hands, and their was the hiding of his power," which shows the power of God manifested through the imposition of hands. Jesus prastised the laying on of hands upon the sick, and they were healed, and he commanded his disciples to do the same; also, for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, the scriptures say, Joshua the son of Nun was full of the Holy Ghost; for Moses had laid his hands on him. But without the authority of this priesthood, and the ordinances thereof, the power of God is not manifest to men in the flesh. It is the channel through which the Holy Spirit flows upon the people of God. It holds the Key of the knowledge of God, or the mysteries of the kingdom, and when men render themselves unworthy of the priesthood, and God takes it from them, they are left without revelations, and the gifts of the Spirit.
To the loss of the priesthood may be ascribed most of the divisions in the Christian world at the present day, and the great doubt upon the minds of all the contending parties, which have prevailed to such an extent from the days of the primitive Christians. By a reference to Eph. iv chapter from the 9 to 15 verse, it will be seen that the officers there mentioned for perfecting the saints, for the work of the ministry, &c., were designed, first, to bring to the unity of the faith those who embraced the Gospel from all classes; second, when they were thus united in the doctrine of Christ to prevent their being divided into sects and parties, and led about by every wind of doctrine through the cunning craftiness and deceit of false teachers. That Isaiah and the apostles clearly foresaw that the Christian world would apostatize and divide, and the priesthood and its gifts and powers cease among them, is evident from what they say. Paul says, 2 Thes. ii. 3, "there shall come a falling away and the man of sin be revealed," &c.; also, 2 Tim. 3d and 4th chapters, he says, "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but will make their own teacher such as God does not choose, who have a form of Godliness; but deny its power: and these teachers will turn away the people from the truth, and turn them to fables. Peter in his 2d General Epistle, 2d chapter, written not to a few; but to the church in general, plainly declared there should be false teachers among them, who through covetousness should make merchandise of the people, and bring in damnable heresies, or as some have more properly translated it, destructive sects and parties. But Isaiah's testimony is conclusive upon this subject: in the 24 chap. where he prophecies of a time when the whole earth will be corrupted by the people, transgressing the laws, changing the ordinances, and breaking the everlasting covenant. The covenant here alluded to was doubtless a covenant of priesthood established in the Gospel dispensation; for the covenant under the Mosaic dispensation was called a covenant of priesthood, Num xxv. 13, and the Mosaic being a type of the Gospel dispensation the everlasting covenant was the establishment of the Melchizedek priesthood in the Christian church, by which the ordinances of God's house could be administered, and the spiritual gifts and powers of the Holy Ghost manifested to those under the covenant; and the subsequent breaking of the covenant deprived them of the priesthood, and its train of attendants.
That the foregoing predictions have been fulfilled since the apostolic age, all who are acquainted with church history can testify; but to the reflecting mind the present confused state of Christendom, is all the evidence needed. After Popery was established, and the papal jurisdiction extended to the utmost limits of the empire, and the Christian world shrouded in darkness for ages; in the forepart of the sixteenth century Luther Calvin, Melancthon, Zuinglius, and many more of the clergy of Germany, England, and other parts of Europe, began to protest against many superstitions of Catholicism, and the authority of the pope, and cried aloud for reformation: and though they succeeded in abolishing some of those absurdities, and effecting a reformation in different parts of Europe, there by diminishing the power of the pope; yet they could never agree among themselves. And the different sects which they established have since divided, and subdivided, like the branches of a tree, shooting one from another until their number in Europe, and America, is estimated by some late writers at upwards of two hundred, and though the founders of the first reformed churches were Catholic clergyman, who were ex-communicated; yet they claimed no priesthood except from the Mother Church whose authority they disavowed, and were it asserted that she had priesthood acknowledged of God, (which is altogether inadmissible,) she was sure to divest her dissenting members of that authority.
Perhaps, by this time the reader will ask if the church apostatized, if the covenant was broken and the priesthood taken from them, whether or not there is any promise of its being restore in the last days; as the Latter day Saints testify has been the case? To this, gentle reader I most unhesitatingly respond the affirmative. The covenant must be renewed. Israel must yet become a kingdom of priests, on their native land. The prophet declares they shall be gathered, and that God will give them pastors after his own heart; also, -- Isa. i. 26, "I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning." Isaiah lxi. from the 4th to the 9th verse inclusive, prophesies that they shall repair, and rebuild their old waste cities that have been desolate for many generations. Verse 6 he says: "ye shall be named the priests of the Lord, men shall call you the ministers of our God." Verse 8. "I will direct their work in truth and will make an everlasting covenant with them:" also, chap. lxvi, he prophesies in the 19th and 20th verses, that God shall send his servants and gather them from all nations, and his glory shall rest upon them. He says, verse 21, "And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites saith the Lord."
THE LOCATION OF ZION OR THE NEW JERUSALEM.The location of Zion or the New Jerusalem, is certainly a subject of importance, and well worth a candid investigation: for it is one that interested the prophets, and much the more it ought to interest every true believer of this remote age of the world; for according to the prophets it will be a place of refuge, and deliverance for the people of God when destruction comes upon the nations. Again, the Lord not only intends to gather all his people together in the last days, but he intends to prepare places for them to gather to. The city of Zion is said to be one of these places of gathering; therefore, it is of all importance that we should know where it will be located or established.
That there will be city called Zion or the New Jerusalem, built, beautified, and prepared for the millennium is evident from all the prophets that have mentioned the work of God of the last days. We have in a brief manner touched upon this subject before; but the magnitude and importance of it is such, that we think that justice to it, requires us to give it a more extensive investigation.
That there was a Zion established at Jerusalem we do not wish to deny; but that has nothing to do with the one for the millennium. However, because some are unable to separate or distinguish it from the one for the Millennium, we will first show the difference between the two, and then proceed to examine the prophets with respect to the place of the location of the latter.
This Zion at Jerusalem was sometimes called the upper city, and it was detached from Jerusalem proper by a wall. Historians say that Jerusalem was founded by Melchizedek, then called Salem. Paul says Melchizedek was king of Salem. (See Heb. vii. 2.) Subsequently it was called Jerusalem; but whether or not Zion was founded by Melchizedek is not easy for us to determine; but one thing is certain, it was in existence in the days of David; for when he took Jerusalem from the Jebusites, it is said the he "took a strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David." -- 2 Sam. v. 7. Many places in the inspired writings where Zion is mentioned, refer to this Zion at Jerusalem. -- Isaiah speaking of this Zion says: "For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem. " -- Isa. xxx. 19. Now if Isaiah had no idea of any other Zion; than the one at Jerusalem, why did he use the preposition at, as though there was another city called by the same name? Indeed he knew that the Lord would cause to be built another city of Zion, which should be a place of deliverance in the last days, which he saw in the vision established upon this land (America); therefore, he used the preposition, "Zion at Jerusalem," to designate the difference between it and the one of the last days upon another land. But says one, if the ancients knew that God would establish another Zion for the Millennium, why did they call the one at Jerusalem by that name? This is a thing that the scriptures in a measure leave in the dark; however, there is a foundation for an opinion, which we will give whether it is correct or not. Zion is a very ancient name, and signifies the pure in heart, or the place where the pure in heart dwell; and according to recent revelations which the Lord has given to his people, there was a Zion established in the days of Enoch wherein the church of the first-born dwelt: and perhaps, Paul alludes to this Zion of Enoch when he says: "But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and into the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and the church of the first-born." -- Heb. xii. 22, 23. The saints of the Antediluvian world, are the only ones that we can with propriety call the church of the first-born; but they and their Zion are in heaven; and Paul calls their Zion the city of God, and them the church of the first-born.
Now it is possible that when Melchizedek, or whoever founded Zion; when arranging the various districts, and suburbs of Jerusalem, called that district, or the upper city, which was so beautiful and elevated, "Mount Zion," out of respect to a former Zion, and because of the pureness of the name; the same as many name their children after eminent men, and those whom they in a particular manner respect. After David it was called "the city of David."
When Jerusalem is rebuilt, it is probable that this city of David, will also be built again; but not in fulfillment of the predictions of the prophets concerning the establishment of the latter-day Zion or the New Jerusalem; but in fulfillment of prophecy relating to the rebuilding of Jerusalem: for when it is built of course all its districts and suburbs will also be built. But we have said enough upon this part of the subject, and we hope that the reader will be able to designate the difference between the Zion which was at Jerusalem, and the one that the Lord shall cause to be built for the saints to gather to, and be a place of refuge and deliverance at the time that God will trouble the nations with his wrath.
This Zion of the last days, we believe will be located on the land of America; and indeed the prophets have said enough to establish this idea. David says: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the side of the North, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge." "As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever." -- Ps. xlviii. 2-8. David evidently saw the situation of Zion, which he says is beautiful, at some other place besides Jerusalem, or he would not have said that it was on the sides of the North. Match this saying with what Isaiah says in the xviii [* We have before entered into a full investigation of this chapter; therefore we do not deam it neccessary to make any more comment upon it. (See page 182.)] of his prophecy, concerning a land (America) beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, and we learn: first, as Isaiah says, that this is the land where the Lord's ensign of the last days was to be reared, and from whence the ambassadors of the Lord are to be sent to all nations, and where "the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the Mount Zion" shall be established, to which the servants of God, or swift messengers to the nations shall bring a present unto the Lord of a people terrible from their beginning. This proves that Zion is to be located in America. Second, that, according to David, it is to be on the sides of the North; consequently on North America. David says in another place: "I will not give sleep to my eyes nor slumber to mine eyelids until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. Lo, we heard of it at Ephrata; we found it in the fields of the wood." "For the Lord hath chosen Zion: he hath desired it for his habitation." --- Ps. cxxxii 4, 13. It cannot be said in truth that Jerusalem was in the fields of the wood in David's time; therefore, we conclude that he had reference to some other place besides Jerusalem. Indeed, the interior of North America is interspersed with the fields of the woods, or in other words fields in the midst of the wilderness. Isaiah says: "Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation."
We have before proved the Book of Mormon to be true; therefore, whatever it says upon this subject we consider as valid testimony. -- Moroni writing the words of Ether says, page 550. "Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land; and he spake also concerning the House of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come; after it be destroyed, it should be built up again a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore it could not be a New Jerusalem, for it had been in a time of old, but it should be built up again and become a holy city of the Lord: and should be built up unto the House of Israel; and that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type: for as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there wherefore the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem that he might be merciful unto the, seed of Joseph, that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph, that he should perish not: wherefore the remnant of the House of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come, when the earth shall pass away."
As we have before mentioned the prophets have declared that there shall be deliverance for the saints in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem; therefore, when we take all things into consideration, we discover that it is perfectly consistent with reason and the scripture, for Zion to be built upon this continent: for this is a promised land to the tribe of Joseph, as much so as Canaan to the House of Israel. For instance, the Lord will establish a place of gathering upon this land, near the centre of the North division of the continent, which will be convenient for the House of Joseph that is upon this land to gather to, and also, for many of the saints that are now scattered among the Gentile nations. And also he will cause the old city of Jerusalem to be rebuilt, and the Jews to gather there, Thus there will be two central places of gathering, and deliverance. Zion, and Jerusalem, when spoken of as being the two great places of deliverance, are not synonymous: for Jerusalem and its suburbs when spoken of at a distance are all ranked under the one head; but the prophets speak of Zion as being established, and having stakes, or auxiliary cities. The city of David or Zion at Jerusalem was merely an auxiliary and not the principal. Isaiah places this matter beyond doubt, that Zion and Jerusalem are not synonymous; but on two separate lands. "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof, as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken: neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Bulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." It is said, Gen x. 25, that in the days of Peleg the earth (not nations) was divided; it is also said, Gen i. 9 that the waters were gathered together unto one place at the time of the creation; and of course the land was in one place; but it is manifest that there has been a great division, so much so that the earth has been divided into continents, which the bible says was done in the days of Peleg; but according to the prophet Isaiah, when the time of restoration comes, then this continent upon which Zion shall be built, shall re-unite with the eastern, and thus fulfill the saying, "thy land shall be married," or joined. But says the objectors, how can there be two places of gathering if Ezekiel's word are true? "And I will make them one nation upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all." We have before proved that the land of America is a promised land to the House of Joseph; [* See Page 112.] therefore, the "mountains of Israel" are here as much so as in the land of Canaan. The idea is that the whole earth will be subjected to one form of government, and to one code of laws, and one king shall rule over them whether in America or in Asia. But the two continents are to be united, and then it will be an easy thing for them to become one nation upon the mountains (not mountain) of Israel, and at the same time the tribe of Joseph and others dwell in Zion, and its vicinity upon this land, and the Jews in the land of Canaan, and one king rule over them all.
Having dropped the foregoing hints upon the location of the Zion for the Millennium, to aid the reader to designate the difference between the Zion at Jerusalem and the one of the latter days: -- we will now quote a few of the sayings of the prophets concerning the utility of this Zion, the materials of which it shall be built, its glory and magnificence &c., &c., and let that suffice for the present.
ZION BUILT AND ESTABLISHED FOR THE MILLENNIUM.This is a subject as little understood by the community at large, perhaps, as any one that we could mention; yet we consider it a glorious one, and one of great importance to the world; but before we proceed any farther, -- we will here take the opportunity to state that it is somewhat difficult to separate the various subjects strewed over the face of prophecy, in consequence of their amalgamation with each other The subjects of the gathering of Israel, building of Zion, second coming of Christ, and the Millennium, are in some instances all mentioned in the same chapter; therefore, it is not an easy matter to treat upon one, without interfering with the others; consequently in the course of our work we are obliged to quote the same passage more than once. However, in this respect, we have so far endeavored to avoid all possible repetition, and at the same time treat upon each subject separately, that the reader may have a more clear, and lucid idea of each subject in its true character.
Again, in treating upon this subject we shall, for the sake of brevity dispense with much comment that might be made: for indeed, the scriptures are plain of themselves, so much so, that they even point out the materials of which Zion shall be built. But to hasten.
We will commence with the prediction of Joel upon this subject, speaking of the great and notable day of the Lord, when there shall appear signs and wonders in the heavens, and on the earth, blood and fire, and pillars of smoke, the sun darkened and the moon turned into blood, he says: "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call." -- Joel, ii. 32. Obadiah says, verse 17th: "But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." Thus Mount Zion and Jerusalem are to be places of deliverance for those who call on the name of the Lord, at the great and notable day, when he shall cause destruction to come upon the wicked. Hence, we see the importance of a knowledge of this work. Isaiah in the lx chapter of his prophecy describes the materials for the building of Zion; we insert the whole chapter.
"Arise, and shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come far and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, & flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Epah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the promises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Neboath shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory. Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favor have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually: they shall not be shut day or night; that men may bring unto me the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The City of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no men went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breasts of kings: and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteous. Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders: but thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise. 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: Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time."
In the above it is said that the ships of Tarshish are to be engaged in bringing the people from far; also that the Gentiles shall come unto it, and that the Lord shall make it an eternal excellency, a joy of Many generations. Isaiah says in another place: "In that dayshall [day shall] the bough the of [of the] Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day-time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain." -- Isa. iv. 2-6. Again, Isaiah says: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. -- Isa. ii. 2,3. From this latter quotation, we learn that Zion is to be a place where people shall gather to, from all nations; and that the law of God shall go forth from Zion to all nations. This is what we have before proved while speaking of the ensign that was to be reared upon this land. (See also Micah iv.)
Christ speaking to the Nephites is very plain upon this subject; Book of Mormon page 485, third edition.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, all these things shall surely come, even as the Father hath commanded me. Then shall this covenant which the Father hath covenanted with his people, be fulfilled; and then shall Jerusalem be inhabited again with my people, and it shall be the land of their inheritance. And verily, I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place, that I shall gather in from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and establish again among them my Zion. And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign, for verily, I say unto you, that when these things which I declare unto you, and which I shall declare unto you hereafter of myself, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, which shall be given unto you of the Father, shall be made known unto the Gentiles, that they may know concerning this people who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, and concerning this my people who shall be scattered by them; verily, verily, I say unto you, when these things shall be made known unto them of the Father, and shall come forth of the Father, from them unto you, for it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel; therefore, when these works, and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter, shall come forth from the Gentiles unto your seed, which shall dwindle in unbelief because of iniquity: for thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may shew [show] forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause, that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel; and when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things, it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel. And when that day shall come, it shall come to pass that kings shall shut their mouths; for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them."
Much more might be said upon this subject; but we think it unnecessary at present: for enough has been said to convince every candid mind that a Zion or New Jerusalem will be built and prepared for the Millennium; also, that the ancient city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt.
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND THE
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, MAY 1, 1841. No. 9.
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, MAY 15, 1841. No. 10.
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, JUNE 1, 1841. No. 11.
PUBLISHED BY B. WINCHESTER, PASTOR OF THE BRANCH OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN PHILADELPHIA.
"WHEN GOD WORKS WHO CAN HINDER?"
Vol. I. PHILADELPHIA, JUNE 15, 1841. No. 12.
ON PERFECTION.We have often heard individuals, who advocate the Arminian doctrine, talking about perfection, and even pretending that they are ensamples of the perfect class, when indeed, they are not only ignorant of the principle, but destitute of the necessary qualifications, which are prerequisites to so high a standing. Perfection in the extended import of the word, is that which is beyond improvement. Christ commanded his people, saying: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father who is in heaven is perfect." We do not understand from this, that mankind while in a state of probation on earth, are to become perfect in all things, as the Lord is, or to that degree that he is; but that we have appointed unto us a certain sphere to act in, and that we can be perfect in it; and that we have certain laws to comply with, and we can harmoniously do it. The Lord is perfect in all things, and he governs the whole universe, and every planet pursues its course without interfering with others; for there is order and harmony in all the works of God: for he is the fountain of intelligence, and the first in power; and every thing that he does will be perfect when completed. The formation of this earth is the work of God, and when entirely finished, it will be crystallized, and made pure, and even glorified, or be perfect; although it has its orbit to act in, and with order and harmony does it. So it is with men, they have their sphere to act in, and they can be perfect in it; -- but God has the immensity of space to act in, and he is perfect in it. It is not to be expected that mankind are required to be perfect in all things, while in a state of mortality, as God is. His power is unlimited; but we have a certain sphere to act in; therefore our intelligence is limited; but as we have before stated, we can be perfect in this sphere; or in other words we can obey the law of the Lord, walk circumspectly, orderly, and harmoniously before him. -- Therefore, we are disposed to enquire into the nature of the sphere, we have to act in, and so learn how we can be perfect in it.
There are certain principles of power that are within the reach of man while he is a probationer in time, and there are many things beyond his reach; but as far as his power extends, or that he has power over things, he has the power of choice and free agency to act for himself; and his sphere that he has to act in, extends no farther than he has power to obey or disobey. Hence, in our opinion the perfection that a man may attain to in time, consists in obeying the law of righteousness, and obtaining the promised blessings of the gospel of peace, which are within his sphere. Right and wrong are before him and he has power to do either; but if he does that which is right and obeys the law of the Lord in all things, he is a perfect man, as far as his sphere of action extends. But it is impossible for a man to attain to this high standing without a perfect law or rule to guide him. No law can be in justice presented to a man for his sanction and obedience, which is beyond his power or the power given him to obey; therefore, no law can be a perfect one, that exacts things of men that they cannot perform. The law of God is infallible or perfect, because God who is infallible or perfect, devised it, and it does not exact things of men that they cannot do. If this law is perfect, and also the principle by which a man is made perfect; or in other words, that he cannot be perfect without obeying it, then if he rejects one principle of it, he is not perfect in his sphere. James, no doubt, alluding to the gospel says: "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." -- James, i.25. This perfect law of liberty expands the mind, and liberates it from the vulture fangs of bigotry, which has ever infused the idea that the sphere of man, is very contracted, and that certain blessings that were in the power of man to receive in ancient days, are beyond the reach of man in this our day.
It is admitted that if a person complies with the rules of a science in all respects, that he will become as perfect as the rules themselves are, likewise if a man obeys the gospel in all respects, he will be perfect as far as the law or the gospel will allow him to be. Therefore, we set it down as a fact that no man is perfect, no not even in his own sphere, except he obeys the gospel, and in vain may we talk about being perfect, sanctified or holy, if we have not obeyed the gospel, nay if we have not obeyed every principle of it. We are induced to believe that there are many who profess to be perfect, that have not obeyed the fulness of the gospel, and do not even believe that the promised blessings of the gospel of peace, by which our knowledge is increased, are for them; and indeed they are ignorant of the means by which they can be made perfect.
Now according to the scriptures the matter stands thus -- we are commanded to be perfect as our Father who is in heaven is perfect, and as there is order and perfection in all his works, or as he has adopted certain rules, and conforms to them; so must we conform to the law of the Lord or the gospel, in all respects, or it cannot be said in truth that we are perfect. When we say that the Lord acts conformably to certain rules, we mean to be understood that he has devised certain rules for his own course and procedure: for instance, it is written that he cannot lie. The reason is, it would be a breach of the law that he has adopted: he will not cast off the righteous, because it would be a breach of promise: he will not let the reprobate go unpunished, because it would sacrifice the rights of justice. But let us more particularly enquire what men must do to be perfect in their sphere.
It is positively affirmed in the bible that before obedience to the perfect law of liberty, men are foreigners, aliens, and strangers to God; therefore, in order for them to be assimilated unto the likeness of God in the least degree, and be perfect as he is, it is necessary for them to obey the perfect law which is: first, to repent of their sins, or in other words forsake them; and in a word, break off from sin and work righteousness; second, to be baptized for the remission of sins, (see Acts, ii. 38,) and for the adoption into the kingdom of God, and so take up their cross and follow Christ in the work of the regeneration; third, receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. (See Acts, viii. 17. do. xix. 6.) The above are what the Apostle terms the (first) principles of the gospel, and it is self evident that no person can be perfect in any science without learning the elementary principles of the same. Neither will it answer for him to learn the first principle, but pay no attention to the second: he must learn them in rotation, and according to order, or he cannot make any proficiency in the science; so it is, a man cannot make any proficiency in the religion of heaven, except he obeys every principle of it according to order. It is the very heighth of folly for any man to talk about being perfect, holy or sanctified, if he has not repented of his sins, and been baptized for the remission of them, and received the holy spirit by the laying on of hands.
But obeying the first principles of the gospel, is not all. The apostle says, that the church was organized with apostles, prophets, &c., for the perfecting of the saints, and the work of the ministry. Thus they anciently had inspired men among them, who could receive revelations from the Lord, and thus instruct the church with things of importance, which increased their knowledge. The more intelligence a man receives the nearer he comes to perfection. As we have before said, a man is not perfect in his sphere of action except he obeys the gospel in all respects, and orders his conduct in such a way as becomes a righteous man, and avails himself of all the intelligence, and spiritual blessings that are within his reach. And it is said, "The Lord is the same yesterday, to day and forever;" consequently he has not contracted the sphere, and agency of man, nor decreed that he will in the future refuse to bestow the same blessings upon those who become his saints, that he bestowed anciently upon his people. Surely, the people of God are as susceptible of attaining to the high standing now-a-days, as they were formerly. The blessings that the ancients received, and which are for us, are the spirit of prophecy or revelation, visions, administration of angels, &c.; therefore, we conclude that the profession of perfection, of those who deny that these gifts and graces of the gospel are for us, is hypocritical. These gifts are for the people; therefore, they cannot be perfect without them: for it is by the spirit of prophecy or of revelation, that we can obtain a knowledge of God; "No man can say that Jesus Christ is the Lord except it is by the Holy Ghost." The more of this Spirit that the prophets received, the more they were like God. All things are present before God to all eternity, and when the prophets received the Spirit of God, it brought things that were in the future, and made them present before them. When the saints had visions of heavenly things their knowledge was increased.
Some of the saints of ancient days were in a great degree, if not fully, perfect in their sphere of action, because they sought and obtained that which was for them. But Oh! how changed the scene! Men now profess to be saints, and even to be wholly sanctified, and some to be perfect, without receiving any such blessings, or even obeying the first principles of the gospel of Christ. Awake! Awake! to righteousness and sin not, O ye nations, kindreds, and people of the earth, and put away such delusive notions, and keep the commandments of the Great God, that you may be counted worthy to sit down in the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets.
... [Benjamin] Winchester's second publishing venture was a newspaper like the LDS Millennial Star. The first issue of his Gospel Reflector, the first independent, unofficial periodical published in the Church, came out on 1 January 1841, printed by the same firm that had issued his Origin of the Spaulding Story. [No copy of Winchester's prospectus, issued in December 1840, has been found. It may have been merely handwritten and circulated among his early co-workers. The first issue of the Gospel Reflector mentions that Winchester planned to change some details of the periodical from those earlier advertised] In his first issue, he reports talking about this venture the year before with Joseph Smith, who told him that he "was at liberty to publish any thing of the kind that would further the cause of righteousness" -- thus striking a delicate balance between an approved project and an official project. Winchester issued twelve numbers of twenty-four pages each, between 1 January and 15 June 1841.
Winchester planned to reprint Oliver Cowdery's letters on Church history and extracts from the Doctrine and Covenants. He also cited, not the Millennial Star, but Parley P. Pratt's Voice of Warning, an important doctrinal pamphlet first issued in 1837, as his model, and modestly said he would end the project "as soon as I publish all that I consider useful in a work of this kind." But when the newspaper ceased publishing in June, it was mainly because of financial problems. In fact, he told Joseph Smith in September that he had not sold enough copies "to realize any benefit from the profit of them." Still, the Reflector had a far-reaching impact; many of its articles were reprinted in Church periodicals in New York, Nauvoo, and Liverpool, thus reaching a large audience. Its pages also made available to East Coast members items from other Church publications.
Winchester's desire to answer Mormon critics was a major motivation behind the Gospel Reflector: "As our enemies in this part of the country are engaged in spreading newspapers, pamphlets, and circulars, tracing the doctrine and characters of the above mentioned society, with the intention of stamping them with infamy and disgrace," Winchester wrote, the paper would "refute the publications that appear against us in the shape of arguments, and thus foil our enemies in their attempts." This helps explain the Reflector's defensive stance as well as that of Winchester's published works.
Although Winchester spent much of his time for the next six months on his paper, he continued as Philadelphia Branch leader and Church defender. In February 1841, in Frankfort, Pennsylvania, he spoke on the Second Coming and the establishment of Christ's kingdom on earth. He then opened the meeting to questions and comments from the audience. E. G. Lee arose and attacked the Mormons verbally for the failure of their Kirtland Bank. When Winchester tried to keep the discussion on religious matters, the meeting ended in confusion. Lee printed in the Daily Chronicle (Philadelphia) a summary of his case against the Mormons. Winchester wrote a response on 19 February 1841, but the Daily Chronicle refused to print it. Consequently, Winchester published it as a paid advertisement in the Public Ledger (Philadelphia) on 23 February. In this letter, Winchester dealt with the major charges against Mormon leaders and contributed some first-hand information relating to the Kirtland Bank....
In the summer of 1841, Erastus Snow and Winchester filled a special mission to Salem, Massachusetts, to "try to establish the Kingdom there." This call proved to be a turning point in both men's lives, positive in Erastus Snow's case, negative in Winchester's. Snow wrote: "In the summer of 1841, Elder Winchester and I received instructions from the First Presidency to go to Massachusetts and open up the gospel in Salem, Boston, and that region of the country. We went together and hired the Masonic Hall in Salem and commenced preaching, but Elder Winchester very soon returned to Philadelphia, leaving me to occupy the field alone."...
Winchester preached three times and returned to Philadelphia within the week. As late as February 1842, Snow expected him to return... But Winchester had changed his mind. On 18 September he wrote to Joseph Smith, complaining of asthma attacks triggered by the New England cold, stating his understanding that the Salem call was only temporary, and expressing frustration at his printing and rental debts. He hinted broadly: "There is much printing to do in Nauvoo, and as I am somewhat acquainted with that business perhaps you could get me a situation of that kind." He also complained that Apostle John Page, then staying in Philadelphia, was pretending poverty so he would not have to accompany Orson Hyde on their assigned mission to dedicate Palestine for the return of the Jews. For his part, Page had doubts about Winchester's ability, which he was not hesitant to express....
Needless to say, the personal difficulties between Winchester and Page added to the growing dissension in the Philadelphia Branch. While firm evidence is lacking, it is possible that rumors of polygamy exacerbated the problems in Philadelphia....
In October, Winchester went to Nauvoo.... On 31 October, he attended a council with the Twelve, suggesting that he was either summoned or was seeking guidance for the situation in Philadelphia. According to the minutes, Winchester "complained that he had been neglected and misrepresented by the Elders, and manifested a contentious spirit." Joseph Smith gave "him a severe reproof, telling him of his folly and vanity, and showing him that the principles which he suffered to control him would lead him to destruction." He was counseled to change his course, govern his disposition, and to quit "tale-bearing and slandering his brethren." Winchester's reaction to this rebuke is not known, but he apparently helped edit the Times and Seasons from November 1841 to January 1842. Although there is no mention in the Times and Seasons of Winchester's connection with it, he recalled in 1889 that for a short time after the death of Don Carlos Smith, Joseph's brother and editor until his death in August 1841, he helped edit the paper; furthermore, the paper reprinted a total of eight of Winchester's articles from the Gospel Reflector; six appeared, one per issue, between 1 December 1841 and 15 February 1842....
[A] growing centralization of power may have been a source of further discontent for Winchester and contributed to his later backbiting against the Twelve and complaints about the situation in Pennsylvania. On 12 January 1842, the Quorum of the Twelve pronounced his "suspension" until he "made satisfaction for disobedience to the First Presidency." He was simultaneously preparing a Bible concordance, publishing an announcement and prospectus about the two- or three-hundred page project in the 15 January issue of the Times and Seasons. He gave his address as Philadelphia, indicating that he did not plan to remain in Nauvoo.
Winchester left Nauvoo at the end of January, but conflict in Philadelphia was probably inevitable. John Page had presided over the branch during Winchester's absence and was so popular that the members wrote to leaders in Nauvoo on 30 January 1842, acknowledging its need for a leader and suggesting Page. In an attached note, Page added a glowing progress report of the work there... and added, "B. Winchester is my enemy."...
Winchester was ordered not to preach in church until he repented "for not obeying the instruction which he received from the Presidency when at Nauvoo."
He spent the next few weeks working on his synopsis and concordance, pausing in June 1842 to go to Boston with George J. Adams, a popular convert, actor, and powerful debater, where they held a two-week "public discussion" with Reverend George Montgomery West. Winchester was restored "to his former fellowship and standing in the Church" in July but warned to relocate immediately and promised, "Then it will be well with him, if he will be faithful and true to the great cause." But Winchester stayed in the Philadelphia area, an action which led him into greater difficulties with Church leaders....
Joseph Smith's two counselors, Hyrum Smith and William Law, arrived in Philadelphia to preside over a special conference on 15 October. It "annulled... all former organizations in Philadelphia," appointed Peter Hess as presiding elder, and voted to meet only at the Marshall Institute. Extant records do not describe Winchester's role in this conference, but by November he was preaching in Baltimore, Maryland. One lecture, reported in the Baltimore Clipper and reprinted in the Times and Seasons, is important for several reasons. First, it shows that Winchester was still loyal to the Church. Second, he denied John C. Bennett's claims that the Mormons were "sanctioning a community of wives," a stand that must have mortified him when he learned the facts first-hand. Third, the Clipper reporter added that Winchester would deliver a series of lectures in a few weeks, suggesting that the move was quasi-permanent...
Unfortunately, Winchester returned to Philadelphia before the year ended where, once again, trouble erupted. In the summer he published a 168-page History of the Priesthood, a missionary-oriented work that included detailed scriptural commentary and reworkings of some essays published in the Gospel Reflector. It presents concisely the main arguments of the early Church about the historicity of God's delegation of priesthood power and the existence of priesthood authority as a sign of the true church. Winchester interpreted priesthood as a spiritual, not temporal, power. This view is in keeping with his philosophy, argued as early as April 1841, that Mormonism was a spiritual, not a political, force. This view was increasingly at odds with developments at Nauvoo.