An Address to All Believers in Christ — Chapters 5-8
Chapter 5 — One Man To Lead And Receive Revelations For The Church, Not According To The Teachings of Christ.
When Christ came into the world, the doctrine of a one-man leader to the church was not taught by him, and we are under his teachings in the written word. In the old covenant in the Book of Mormon is a prophecy that a Choice Seer is to come forth -- of the seed of Joseph, of the seed of Lehi -- who is to bring forth the word of the Lord from the sealed records of the Nephites, and convince the Lamanites, and restore them and the house of Israel; his work is not defined any farther than this. We suppose his work will be defined in the records which he will hereafter bring forth. We are told in 2 Nephi ii:17, Ether i:11, that the sealed records are not to come forth in the days of wickedness and abominations of the people. Then the more wicked part of the people will be cut off before they are brought forth. It may be as it was when Christ came to the people on this continent. We are told in Ether i:11, that the sealed records shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord, and have faith in him even as the brother of Jared did. Again, it says this Choice Seer will do strictly according to the commandments of God. This means that he will be a holy man. We have seen from a revelation given to Brother Joseph, that he broke the commandments of God from the beginning. Now, as the wicked will be cut off, the people being clean before the Lord, and this Choice Seer being a holy man, the people in this condition will be fitted to give heed to him, and they will not be led astray by him, because the Word of God says so. At the present time we are under the teachings of Christ in the written word, and his teachings to us, the Book of Mormon plainly tells us, are to be made known in the records of the Jews (the Bible), and the Nephite records. All men must come until him, or they cannot be saved; AND THEY MUST COME ACCORDING TO THE WORDS WHICH SHALL BE ESTABLISHED BY THE MOUTH OF THE LAMB: AND THE WORDS OF THE LAMB SHALL BE MADE KNOWN IN THE RECORDS OF THY SEED (THE NEPHITE RECORDS), AS WELL AS IN THE RECORDS OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES OF THE LAMB (the Bible); wherefore they both shall be established in one. (1 Nephi iii:43.) All men must come to Christ according to the words which shall be established by Christ, AND HIS WORDS SHALL BE MADE KNOWN IN THE NEPHITE RECORDS AND THE BIBLE. So the book of Doctrine and Covenants must be laid down. Brethren, this scripture is very plain, and I hope that none of you will attempt to wrest it to uphold the book of Doctrine and Covenants. Then let us heed only the teachings of Christ which we have, and discard the teachings of Joseph Smith or any other man or angel which conflict with Christ s teachings in the Bible and Book or Mormon: and when more of the words of Christ come forth in the way that it is appointed to come, from the sealed records, then we will heed it also.
There is nothing in the New Testament part of either the Bible or Book of Mormon concerning a one-man leader or head to the church. Whoever claims that such an office should be in the church today, goes beyond the teachings which Christ has given us. As I have stated, we were strictly commanded in the beginning to rely upon that which was written; and he who goes beyond that which was then written, to the revelations of Joseph Smith to establish any order or doctrine in the church, must come under the head of those whom Christ spoke of when he said, Whosoever teaches more or less, etc., is not of me. This alone should satisfy anyone who is not trusting in an arm of flesh. Who was Prophet Seer and Revelator to the church at Jerusalem? They had none. Who was Prophet Seer and Revelator to the church upon this land? They had none. And we had no such an office in the church in these last days for the first eight months of its existence, until Brother Joseph went into this error on April 6, 1830, and, after unwittingly breaking a command of God by taking upon himself such an office, in a few years those revelations were changed to admit this high office, which otherwise would have condemned it. They were changed to mean something entirely different from the way they were first given and printed in the Book of Commandments; as if God had not thought of this great and important office when he gave those revelations. Yet in the face of the written word of God, and in the face of all this evidence, the majority of the Latter Day Saints will still cling to the revelations of Joseph Smith and measure the written word of God by them, instead of measuring Joseph Smith and his revelations by the written word. Speaking after the manner of Paul to the Galatians, so say I to you: O foolish Latter Day Saints * * * I marvel, that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel; which is not another, but the same gospel which some have perverted; and though we, or an angel from heaven, or Joseph Smith, preach any other gospel unto you than that which Christ gave us in the beginning, receive it not. (See Gal. i:6-9).
In the Church of Christ at Jerusalem, and upon this land, the members all received the revealed will of God for themselves, through the various gifts of the Holy Ghost; by dreams, visions, the visitation of Angels, the gift of prophecy, through themselves or any brother; and the Holy Ghost that was in them always discerning whether the revelation was of God or not. They had no Prophet Seer and Revelator to go to when they desired to know the will of the Lord concerning them; they went to the Lord themselves; sometimes alone, and sometimes several of them together in fasting and prayer. Of course I believe that God reveals his will to his servants in these last days, just as in days of old, but I believe in it according to the scriptures of divine truth. In the Church upon the Eastern continent, after Christ had ascended to His Father' s throne and left the work with his disciples to carry on, they went to God for themselves, each and all of them receiving the will of God by the various gifts of the Holy Ghost. Paul, Peter, Barnabas, Philip and others went here and there preaching, every one receiving revelations from God for themselves, by dreams, visions, the gift of prophecy, etc. They had no head of the Church on earth to go to. Christ told them that the Holy Ghost -- the Comforter -- that would abide with them and with all his disciples, would guide them and lead them into all truth and show them things to come. If any man lacks wisdom, and desires to know the will of the Lord concerning himself, let him ask of God for himself, not ask of the Prophet Seer and Revelator to inquire of the Lord for him.
Just after Christ had established his church upon this land and ascended into heaven, there were disputations among the Nephite brethren on one point; that was the name by which they must call the church. The brethren did not go to a Prophet Seer and Revelator to get him to inquire of the Lord about this matter; Christ had not so instructed them. They had no such an officer in the church. They went to God in prayer and fasting, and received an answer to their prayers, and it was not through any head or leader to the church, but Christ himself.
Brethren, this high office as you have it, is of far more importance than any other office in the church. Now do you not suppose that if Christ meant for such an office to be in the church today, that full instructions would have been given in his teachings about it? As you know we were commanded in the beginning to rely upon that which is written. Such an office in Christ s teachings in either book is not even mentioned; but I need not rehearse the matter. I cannot make it any more plain. As I have said, you have the scriptures before you, and if you will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction. This matter of a one-man mouthpiece of God to the church, has proven the great curse of the work of God in these last days. It is through this instrumentality that Satan has many thousand souls deluded. A man who was weak and unstable from the time God called him, set himself up as Prophet and Seer to the church, and the church to receive his words as if from God' s own mouth. Such a thing is contrary to the Spirit and truths of our Lord Jesus Christ. Look at the one hundred and fifty thousand deluded souls in Utah, believing in a revelation given through this man that we are to exalted to the highest glory in the world to come, through spiritual wifeism; also the twenty thousand or more souls who are blinded to believe in the revelations of this man who has introduced doctrines into the church that conflict with the written word of God. As it was in the days of ancient Israel and in the days of the Apostles, so it is in this day. Cursed be the man that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. Jer. xvii:5.
Chapter 6 — The Doctrine of Christ All Contained in the Two Sacred Books.
Some of the Latter Day Saints have claimed that as the Book of Mormon is an abridgement of the Nephite records, it does not contain all the doctrine of Christ, hence the need of the revelations of Joseph Smith. All who make this claim are in error, as Christ himself says, (Nephi ix:11), that his doctrine is contained in the Book of Mormon. In speaking of the Book of Mormon he says, that when these things shall be made known unto the Gentiles, that they might know of the true points of my doctrine. We have also see in the previous chapter, that the words and doctrine of Christ are to be made known in the Bible and in the Nephite records. Now brethren, these scriptures are as plain as can be; they need no comments of mine to make them any more plain. The Doctrine and Covenants do not claim to have been translated from the records of Nephi 's seed -- the sealed records. This plain scripture should and will be sufficient to convince any person without prejudice, that the Doctrine and Covenants should be discarded as a law of God to the church. The doctrine of Christ always was and will be the same. The Book of Mormon tells us that the sealed records yet to come forth will contain great mysteries of things that are to transpire before the end of the world; but this is another thing outside of the gospel or doctrine of Christ. Paul says that if an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed. The teachings or doctrine of Christ as set forth in the Book of Mormon are full and plain. Mormon says, "and now there cannot be written in this book even the hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach the people." Of course this means all the words that Jesus taught or spoke to them, including the great mysteries of things to take place in the future, which mysteries the Lord forbade them to write. John also says of the things which Jesus truly did and taught, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." (John xxi:25). But is any one so blind as to understand from this language that the doctrine of Christ, or as we use the expression, the teachings of Christ, are not contained in full in the Bible and in Book of Mormon? No spiritual man would so interpret this scripture.
In June, 1829, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and myself, received this commandment through the stone, "Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written (then, at that time, June, 1829), for in them are all things written concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock." This revelation reads this way today in the old Book of Commandments. But the Latter Day saints changed it in 1834 to read different in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. The revelations received through the stone in 1829, agree with the teachings of Christ in the Bible and Book of Mormon; but in order to support the errors which were afterwards introduced by men, some of the early revelations have been changed and added to, as I will show you in another chapter. In order to uphold these errors, your leaders claim that as the Book of Mormon is an abridgement of the Nephite records, containing only a small part of the things which Christ said and did, that it does not contain all the doctrines, laws, ordinances and offices which Christ meant to be in the church; therefore Brother Joseph's revelations are needed to establish other doctrines, laws, ordinances and offices that Christ left out of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and out of the revelations when God first gave them in 1829. Oh the weakness and folly of man! How any person can be so blind in the face of all this evidence, as to still uphold the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, is more than I can understand. But there are none so blind as those who will not see.
You have changed the revelations from the way they were first given and as they are today in the Book of Commandments, to support the error of Brother Joseph in taking upon himself the office of Seer to the church. You have changed the revelations to support the error of high priests. You have changed the revelations to support the error of a President of the high priesthood, high counselors, etc. You have altered the revelations to support you in going beyond the plain teachings of Christ in the new covenant part of the Book of Mormon. You have changed and altered the revelations to support the error of publishing those revelations in a book: the errors you are in, revelations have been changed to support and uphold them. You who are now living did not change them, but you who strive to defend these things, are as guilty in the sight of God as those who did change them.
As I have stated, I am called to bear testimony that the Bible, as well as the Book of Mormon, is true: and no one should place the one book ahead of the other; they are one! The Book of Mormon tells us that many plain things have been taken from the Bible, so that the Gentiles stumble and contend about the true points of Christ's doctrine. It says that the Book of Mormon has been kept pure, and come forth pure so as to make plain the doctrine of Christ; that we might know of the true points of his doctrine.
Is it not plain that we should rely upon it on all doctrinal points, and the order of offices in the church? It certainly is, and this is not placing it ahead of the Bible. The Book of Mormon is full and plain on the doctrine of Christ. Christ chose "twelve" and called them disciples, or elders (not apostles); and the "twelve" ordained elders, priests, and teachers. These are all the spiritual offices in the church: that is, the officers who are ordained to officiate in spiritual ordinances; as baptism, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost; ordaining other officers, administering the Lord s supper, etc. The office of a Bishop is to administer in temporal things. He is the business man of the church. The church has a right to appoint officers who act in a temporal capacity; this is outside of the spiritual offices. We see that the disciples at Jerusalem appointed temporal officers. Acts vi:2-3: Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said: It is notreason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business." So they appointed the seven deacons.
"And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." (1 Cor. xii:28). The Latter Day Saints stumble over this passage, and it is strange that they do. Paul is not referring here to all the officers in the church. The office of an Elder is not named. He refers to miracles, gifts of healing, diversities of tongues, and these are not offices in the Church. He is referring here to the gifts, as you can see plainly by reading the chapter. He says at the conclusion of this, in the thirtyfirst verse, "But covet earnestly the best gifts." In the New Testament it speaks of evangelists, pastors, teachers, helps, governments, etc. Are we to suppose from this, that we are now to establish offices in the Church under those respective names of helps, pastors, governments, etc.? Not at all. These names come to us thus translated. Concerning the spiritual offices in the church, Elders, Priests and Teachers, with their duties as given in the Book of Mormon, they comprise the officers who are qualified to act in all spiritual matters, and there is no need of any more spiritual offices than these in the church, as we can plainly see from the scriptures.
The Book of Mormon is full concerning all spiritual matters pertaining to the Church of Christ. Instructions are given as to the manner of baptism, laying on of hands, the manner of administering the flesh and blood of Christ; that the church must meet together oft to fast and to pray and to speak concerning the welfare of of their souls; how the meeting should be conducted; how a backsliding member is to be tried, before the Elders by the testimony of three witnesses, and if they repented not, they were to be cut off, etc., etc. It is all set forth therein in plainness, and we have no need of the Doctrine and Covenants or any other creed.
The twelve at Jerusalem are called in the written word "Apostles." They are apostles because they were special witnesses to the sufferings of Christ, his death, burial and resurrection: but the twelve which Christ chose on this land are called disciples or elders, and are not once called apostles in the Book of Mormon. In the revelation which came through the stone in June, 1829, to Oliver Cowdery and myself to search out the twelve, they are also called disciples, and not apostles; and the revelation says "disciples" in the Book of Commandments today. But it has been changed in the Doctrine and Covenants to read "apostles." The heading to this revelation in the Book of Commandments says: Making known the calling of twelve 'Disciples' in these last days. "In the Doctrines and Covenants to reads: "Making known the calling of twelve 'Apostles' in these last days." In 1 Nephi iii:26, where reference is made to the twelve at Jerusalem and the twelve upon this land, each twelve are called by their respective names: "Behold the twelve 'Disciples' of the Lamb, who are chosen to minister unto thy seed. And he (the angel) said unto me, thou remembereth the twelve 'Apostles' of the Lamb? Behold they are they who shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel: wherefore, the twelve ministers of thy seed shall be judged of them. The twelve on this land are called disciples, and not in any place are they called apostles. When Christ was teaching the twelve on this land, in giving them instructions He refers to the way His twelve apostles did at Jerusalem in the laying on of hands, saying to them: For thus do mine apostles."
In 1 Cor. xii:28, it says: "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets," etc. He did so, placing the twelve apostles first, which he chose at Jerusalem: they are to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, and they are to judge the twelve disciples whom Christ chose on this land among the Nephites. Therefore, we see from the written word that there is only one twelve who are called apostles, and that they are placed first.
When it is God's own due time to gather up the scattered fragments of his kingdom which has been laid waste by men, then we suppose that God will place at the head of his church twelve disciples; but we of the Church of Christ will not place them there, unless God so commands us. This is Gods' work and not man's work. We do not believe in twelve manmade disciples.
I consider the Book of Doctrine and Covenants a creed of religious faith. You can see from the first edition (Kirtland, 1835) that men, on the authority of other men, and no authority from God, arranged the items of the doctrine of Jesus Christ in that book, and in August, 1835, adopted it as the doctrine and covenants of their faith by a unanimous vote of the high council, thus making it a law to the church for the first time. To these proceedings I objected from the first, as I also did to changing the name of the church. Why should they not have been satisfied with the way that God has arranged the items of his doctrine in his Holy Word? What authority had they for making a creed? I will quote from the Kirtland edition of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants of 1835, and you can see for yourselves that what I say is correct. Quotation from the preface: "We deem it to be unnecessary to entertain you with a lengthy preface to the following volume, but merely to say that it contains in short the leading items of the religion which we have professed to believe. The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of lectures as delivered before a theological class in this place, and, in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation, we have arranged them into the following work. * * * There may be an aversion in the minds of some against receiving anything purporting to be articles of religious faith, in consequence of there being so many CREEDS now extant; but if men believe a system and profess that it was given by inspiration, certainly the more intelligibly they can present it the better. * * * We have, therefore, endeavored to present, though in few words, OUR belief, and, when we say this, humbly trust the faith and principles of this society as a body."
Where is their authority from God for making this creed, and making it a law to the church? I will now quote from pages 255 and 256 of the same book: The assembly being duly organized, and, after transacting certain business of the church, proceeded to appoint a committee to ARRANGE THE ITEMS OF DOCTRINE OF JESUS CHRIST. * * * These items are to be taken from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the revelations which have been given to said church up to its date, or shall be until such arrangement is made. * * * Whereupon the High Council of Kirtland accepted and acknowledged them as the doctrine and covenants of their faith by a unanimous vote." It was here made a law to the church for the first time. So we see that their whole proceedings were upon their own authority -- upon the authority of men and not God. Also, that the Doctrine and Covenants is a creed, as much so as any sectarian creed.
Some of the Latter Day Saints claim that the Doctrine and Covenants is one of the Books spoken of in Nephi's vision, which he saw taken to the Lamanites from the Gentiles. (1 Nephi iii:42.) How anyone can so interpret that scripture is more than I can understand; because it says on the same page, that those "Books" (records) contained the words that Christ spake unto the Nephites, which words should be hid up, to come forth to the Gentiles, after the Nephites had dwindled in unbelief. Nephi saw "other Books" taken to the Lamanites, after the Bible was taken to them. The Book of Mormon is one of those books, but the other is yet to come forth from the Nephite records, which are yet hid up and sealed. It is to come to the Gentiles, and they will carry it and the Book of Mormon to the Lamanites, to the convincing of the Gentiles, the Lamanites and the Jews. Now, how is it that anyone can claim the Doctrine and Covenants as being one of those "Books ?" The Book of Doctrine and Covenants itself does not claim to be the words of the Nephite record which are hid up. The Book of Mormon was translated from those records, and more is yet to be translated from them, but it will not come forth in the days of wickedness (2 Nephi xi:17. Ether i:11). I will quote the scripture relating to the "other Books" which Nephi saw in his vision. It is very plain. (1 Nephi iii:41-42). The angel, talking to Nephi, says: "Behold, saith the Lamb, I will manifest myself unto thy seed (the Nephites), that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed and dwindle in unbelief, and also the see of thy brethren; behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb; and in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation; * * * * (same page) And it came to pass that I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren (the Lamanites), and also the Book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew (the Bible), that it came forth from the Gentiles, unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren; and after it had come forth unto them (the Lamanites), I beheld OTHER BOOKS, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles, and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth," etc.
Now brethren, words cannot be plainer than this scripture, and it shows that the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is not one of those books. It is strange to me, why the heads of your church will attempt to prove that the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is one of those books here spoken of, as they are to come from sealed records which are yet hid up.
Chapter 7 — Relative to Publishing the Revelations.
Publishing the early revelations, or any of them, was contrary to the will of the Lord, as I will show you from the revelations themselves. The revelations in the Book of Commandments up to June, 1829, were given through the "stone", through which the Book of Mormon was translated. These are the only revelations that can be relied upon, and they are not law. The Lord told us not to teach them for doctrine; they were given mostly to individuals, the persons whom God chose in commencing His work for their individual instruction, and the church had no need of them. They should have been kept with the sacred papers and records of the church, and never published in a book to become public property for the eyes of the world. It was not necessary for the whole church to ever see them. The written word is full on all matters pertaining to the Church of christ. Of course I believe in God revealing His will to His servants in these days, by the various gifts of the Holy Ghost; but I believe in it according to the Scriptures. In the revelations themselves are positive commands to keep these things from the world, that they are sacred, etc. A revelation was given to Oliver Cowdery in April, 1829, (Sec. v:11, 13), in which he is told that he would be granted a gift "to translate even as my servant Joseph," warning him as follows: "Remember, it is sacred, and cometh from above. * * * * Trifle not with sacred things. * * * * Make not thy gift known unto any, save it be those who are of thy faith." But they published these things in a book, and made them known to the world!
In a revelation to Martin Harris (Sec. 18) concerning endless punishment, are these words: "And I command you that you preach naught but repentance; and show not these things, neither speak these things unto the world, for they cannot bear meat, but milk they must receive: wherefore, they must not know these things, lest they perish." This revelation reads as I have quoted it, in the Book of Commandments; but in the Doctrine and Covenants it has been changed to read thus: "Show not these things unto the world, until it is wisdom in me." The words, "until it is wisdom in me," were added to this revelation. You see they had to add these words in order to publish the revelations. Judge for yourselves, brethren: I will make no farther comments to magnify the errors of the leaders of the church. My policy throughout will be to speak of no more of their errors than is necessary in order to prove all false doctrines as being false, and establishing the doctrine of Christ as it is set forth in the written word.
The main reason why the printing press was destroyed, was because they published the Book of Commandments. It fell into the hands of the world, and the people of Jackson county, Missouri, saw from the revelations that they were considered by the church as intruders upon the land of Zion, as enemies to the church, and that they should be cut off out of the land of Zion and sent away. The people seeing these things in the Book of Commandments became the more enraged, tore down the printing press, and drove the church out of Jackson county. (See Doc. and Cov., Sections 52 : 9, 64 : 7, 45 : 15.) Which is the land of your inheritance. Which is now the land of your enemies. And the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion, and shall be sent away, and shall not inherit the land. "And now I say unto you, keep these things from going abroad unto the world, until it is expedient in me, that ye may accomplish this work in the eyes of the people, and in the eyes of your enemies, that they may not know your works until ye have accomplished the thing which I have commanded you." This is sufficient. I will quote no more to show you that the leaders made a mistake in publishing the revelations in a book. It is too plain. Brethren, does it not look strange that they should have been so blind as to go ahead and publish these revelations in the face of this plain language to keep these things from the world? It surely does look strange.
I will now tell you of a prophecy which the Lord gave through me to Brothers Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon, of what should come to pass if they printed those revelations. In the spring of 1832, in Hiram, Ohio, Brothers Joseph and Sydney, and others, concluded that the revelations should be printed in a book. A few of the brethren -- including myself -- objected to it seriously. We told them that if the revelations were published, the world would get the books, and it would not do; that it was not the will of the Lord that the revelations should be published. But Brothers Joseph and Sydney would not listen to us, and said they were going to send them to Independence to be published. I objected to it and withstood Brothers Joseph and Sydney to the face. Brother Joseph said as follows: "Any man who objects to having these revelations published, shall have his part taken out of the Tree of Life and out of the Holy City." The Spirit of God came upon me and I prophesied to them in the name of the Lord: "That if they sent those revelations to Independence to be published in a book, the people would come upon them and tear down the printing press, and the church would be driven out of Jackson county." Brothers Joseph and Sydney laughed at me. Early in the spring of 1833, at Independence, Mo., the revelations were printed in the Book of Commandments. Many of the books were finished and distributed among the members of the church, and through some of the unwise brethren, the world got hold of some of them. From that time the ill-feeling toward us began to increase; and in the summer of 1833 the mob came upon us, tore down the printing press, and drove the church out of Jackson county. Brothers Joseph and Sydney then saw that I did have some of the Spirit of God, after my prophecy had been fulfilled. To show you that Brother Joseph and myself still loved each other as brethren after this, I will tell you that he had so much confidence in me that in July, 1834, he ordained me his successor as "Prophet Seer and Revelator" to the Church. He did this of his own free will and not at any solicitation whatever on my part. I did not know what he was going to do until he laid his hands upon me and ordained me.
Now, bear in mind, brethren, that I am not claiming this office; as I have told you, I do not believe in any such an office in the church. I was then in error in believing that there was such an office in the Church of Christ. I suppose this is news to many of you -- that Brother Joseph ordained me his successor -- but it is in your records, and there are men now living who were present in that council of elders when he did it, in the camp of Zion, on Fishing River, Missouri, July, 1834.
This is why many of the brethren came to me after Brother Joseph was killed, and importuned me to come out and lead the church. I refused to do so. Christ is the only leader and head of his church.
Now, brethren, I will ask you to read the early revelations that were given through the stone, up to June, 1829, and see if this matter is not just as I have told you; that they -- or any other revelations -- should never have been published, thus necessarily becoming public property for the eyes of the world. Also notice that they were given to individuals, to those whom God chose in commencing his work, for their individual instruction, and were not given to the church, and the church had no need of them. In the Book of Doctrine and Covenants they are sections 2 to 16, inclusive. The headings over sections 4 and 7 are not like they are in the Book of Commandments, in which the headings show that they were also given to individuals. Section 4 is a revelation given to Joseph Smith and Martin Harris. Section 7 is a revelation given to Oliver Cowdery.
Now, bear in mind that these revelations were given through the "stone," while the Book of Mormon was being translated. The revelations in June, 1829, were given about the time the translation of the book was finished. As I have stated before, Brother Joseph gave up the stone a few months after translating the Book of Mormon. You can see from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants that the next revelation after June, 1829, is March, 1830, a period of nine months, and we had been preaching since August, 1829. Now you notice that when the revelations began to come again, at the end of this nine months (this time through Brother Joseph as "mouthpiece"), they came thick and fast, and are of a different character to those given through the stone, which were given to individuals for their individual instruction in commencing the work.
Chapter 8 — The Changes and Additions to Some of the Revelations.
Some of the revelations as they are now in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants have been changed and added to. Some of the changes being of the greatest importance as the meaning is entirely changed on some very important matters; as if the Lord had changed his mind a few years after he gave the revelations, and after having commanded his servants (as they claim) to print them in the "Book of Commandments;" and after giving his servants a revelation, being a preface until His Book of Commandments, which says: "Behold, this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the Book of my Commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, oh inhabitants of the earth." Also in this preface, "Behold, I am God, and have spoken it; these commandments are of me. Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful." The revelations were printed in the Book of Commandments correctly. This I know, and will prove it to you.
These revelations were arranged for publication by Brothers Joseph Smith, Sydney Rigdon, Orson Hyde and others, in Hiram, Ohio, while I was there, were sent to Independence to be published, and were printed just exactly as they were arranged by Brother Joseph and the others. And when the Book of Commandments was printed, Joseph and the church received it as being printed correctly. This I know. In the winter of 1834 they saw that some of the revelations in the Book of Commandments had to be changed, because the heads of the church had gone too far, and had done things in which they had already gone ahead of some of the former revelations. So the book of Doctrine and Covenants was printed in 1835, and some of the revelations changed and added to. By the providence of God I have one of the old Book of Commandments published in 1833. I will prove by a revelation in it, which is changed in the Doctrine and Covenants, a revelation that was given through the "stone" and is true -- I will prove that God called Brother Joseph to translate the Book of Mormon only, and that he was not called to organize and establish the church any more than the rest of us Elders. That God commanded him that he should pretend to no other gift but to translate the Book of Mormon, that God would grant him no other gift.
I will also show by a revelation in the Book of Commandments -- afterwards changed in the Doctrine and Covenants -- that we were commanded to rely upon the "things which are written" in building up the church; for "in them are all things written concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock. Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, my gospel, and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you. But we did not rely upon the written word in building up the church; but Joseph went on in the persuasions of men," -- as he did while translating, and heeded Rigdon who showed him that high priests and other offices should be added to elders, priests and teachers; and so we did not establish His (Christ's) church, His gospel and His rock, so the gates of hell did prevail against the church, and it finally landed in Salt Lake in polygamy.
I will also show you by a revelation in the Book of Commandments -- afterwards changed in the Doctrine and Covenants -- that we had no high priests, etc. in the beginning; as if God had organized his church at first with elders, priests and teachers, and after we had preached almost two years, and had baptized and confirmed about 2000 souls into the Church of Christ, then God concluded he had not organized it right, and decided to put in high priests and other offices above the office of an elder. No brethren -- God does not change and work in any such manner. This is man's work. I will prove beyond a doubt that every spiritual office added to the church which is not according to the teachings of Christ to the "twelve" on this land, is the work of man, and not the work of God.
I see that some of you claim that the same power which gave these revelations, had authority to change them, and refer to Jer. xxxvi:32. By reading this passage you will see that the words which were added were "like words;" words which conveyed the same meaning -- were added to that book by Jeremiah when he was writing it over again, because it had been burned in the fire by the king. But the words added to the two former revelations are not "like words," as they change and reverse the original meaning: as if God had commanded Joseph to pretend to no other gift but to translate the Book of Mormon, that he would "grant him no other gift," and then afterwards God had changed his mind and concluded to grant him another gift. God does not change and work in this manner. The way this revelation has been changed, twenty-two words being added to it, it would appear that God had broken His word after giving His word in plainness; commanding Brother Joseph to pretend to no other gift but to translate the Book of Mormon, and then the Lord had changed and concluded to grant Joseph the gift of a Seer to the Church.
This part of this revelation in the Book of Commandments reads thus: "And he (Joseph) has a gift to translate the Book and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift."
But in the Doctrine and Covenants it has been changed and reads thus:
"And you have a gift to translate the plates, and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you, and I have commanded you that you should pretend to no other gift, until my purpose is fulled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished".
May God have mercy on the heads of the church for their transgression is my prayer.
This revelation is Section 4, Doctrine and Covenants: Chap. 4, Book of Commandments.
The next important change I will speak of, is made in a revelation which was given to Brothers Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and myself in Fayette, New York, June, 1829. I was present when Brother Joseph received it through the stone. It is Chapter 15 Book of Commandments, Sec. 16 Doctrine and Covenants. In the Book of Commandments it reads thus:
"Behold I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written; for in them are all things written, concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock. Wherefore if you shall build up my church, and my gospel, and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you."
But in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants it has been changed and reads thus: "Behold I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written; for in them are all things written, concerning 'the foundation of ' my church, my gospel, and my rock; wherefore, if you shall build up my church 'upon the foundation of ' my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you."
The change in this revelation is of great importance; the word "them" refers to the plates -- the Book of Mormon: We were commanded to rely upon it in building up the church; that is, in establishing the doctrine, the order of offices, etc.: "FOR IN THEM ARE ALL THINGS WRITTEN CONCERNING MY CHURCH, my gospel, and my rock." But this revelation has been changed by man to mean as follows: That therein is not all things written concerning the church, but only all things concerning "the foundation of " the church -- or the beginning of the church: that you must build up the church, beginning according to the written word, and add new offices, new ordinances, and new doctrines as I (the Lord) reveal them to you from year to year: As a Seer to the Church; High Priests; Three of the First Presidency; Baptism for the Dead; Polygamy, etc., etc. When the Book of Doctrine and Covenants was compiled in 1834, the church had then received many revelations to establish new offices and doctrines that are not even mentioned in the New Covenant of either of the two sacred books. They changed this revelation in order to sustain these new doctrines: If they had not made this change, the plain language of the original revelation would have condemned the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. I want to repeat that I was present when Brother Joseph received this revelation through the stone: I am one of the persons to whom it was given, therefore I know of a surety that it was changed when printed in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1834. Likewise, concerning all these changes of which I will speak, I know that these changes were made. I was present when nearly all the early revelations were received. There are several of the old Books of Commandments yet in the land; bring them to light and see for yourselves that these revelations were changed just as I tell you.
These changes were made by the leaders of the church, who had drifted into error and spiritual blindness. Through the influence of Sydney Rigdon, Brother Joseph was led on and on into receiving revelations every year, to establish offices and doctrines which are not even mentioned in the teachings of Christ in the written word. In a few years they had gone away ahead of the written word, so that they had to change these revelations, as you will understand when I have finished.
The next important change I will notice, is in a revelation given to Martin Harris, March, 1830, (Chap. 16 Book of Commandments, Sec.. 18 Doctrine and Covenants). In the Book of Commandments it reads thus: "And I command you that you preach nought but repentance; and show not these things until the world, for they cannot bear meat, but milk they must receive: Wherefore, they must not know these things lest they perish."
But in the Book of Doctrines and Covenants it has been changed and reads as follows:
"And I command you that you preach nought but repentance, and show not these things unto the world, 'until it is wisdom in me,' etc." The words "until it is wisdom in me" have been added.
As I have stated in the previous chapter, you can readily see why they made this change.
The next change of importance is in a revelation given in Fayette, New York, June, 1830. It was not given through the stone. (Chap. 4., Book of Commandments, Sec. 17, Doctrine and Covenants). The change or addition to this revelation is of such a bold character, that the compilers of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants put it in that book without the heading, which is over it in the Book of Commandments, which heading shows it to be a revelation. They have put it in the Doctrine and Covenants as "Section 17," but it is a revelation. The old church papers speak of it as a revelation, and the heading in the Book of Commandments shows that it is a revelation. I was present when Brother Joseph gave this revelation.
The heading over it in the Book of Commandments is as follows: "The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ, given in Fayette, New York, June, 1830." Two paragraphs have been added to it, having been thrust into the middle of it: Paragraphs 16 and 17 is the part added, which part speaks of high priests and other high offices that the church never knew of until almost two years after its beginning: As if God had made a mistake in the first organization of the church, and left out these high important offices which are all above an elder; and as if God had made a mistake and left these high offices out of that revelation when it was first given. Oh the weakness and blindness of man! This revelation as it is in the Book of Commandments, speaks of the duties of all the spiritual officers in the church; of elders, priests and teachers; but does not mention a word about the office of high priest, president of the high priesthood, high counselors, etc. The part added to this revelation was put there to give the duties of these high officers in ordinations. I repeat that the church never heard of or thought of having in it any of these offices, until we moved to Kirtland, Ohio, in the days of Sidney Rigdon. The Church of Christ upon either continent had no such offices in it, and Christ told us through the stone that he would establish his church "LIKE UNTO THE CHURCH WHICH WAS TAUGHT BY MY DISCIPLES IN THE DAYS OF OLD." * * * "If the people of this generation harden not their hearts." (Chap. 4., Par. 5, Book of Commandments).
Now brethren, the Church of Christ of old had in it only elders, priests and teachers; but the Church of Latter Day Saints, with its many new offices, doctrines, and ordinances which were not in the Church of Christ of old, is a very different church -- a different order throughout. This is plain to be seen. Why, oh why will you continue to trust in the man who has erred and introduced doctrines of error into the Church of Christ? Why will you continue in blindness? But modern Israel is no better than ancient Israel. Man will not walk humbly before God and abide in his ordinances, although he has given them his word in great plainness. You are in spiritual blindness and you know it not.
I will now quote the two paragraphs which have been added to the revelation above mentioned:
"No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church; but the presiding elders, traveling bishops, high counselors, high priests and elders, may have the privilege of ordaining, where there is no branch of the church, that a vote may be called. Every president of the high priesthood (or presiding elder), bishop, high counselor and high priest, is to be ordained by the direction of a high council, or general conference."
In all the teachings of Christ, these high offices are not even mentioned as being in the Church of Christ.
There are other changes in this revelation, but this is the only change of importance.
The next change I will notice is one of importance. It is in Section 4, Doctrine and Covenants: Chapter 4, Book of Commandments. Half of a page has been left out of this revelation. I believe that the object of those who left it out was to strike out the following words:
"And thus, if the people of this general harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, etc., * * * * and I will establish my church, LIKE UNTO THE CHURCH WHICH WAS TAUGHT BY MY DISCIPLES IN THE DAYS OF OLD."
They knew that the order of offices in the Church of Latter Day Saints, was not like the order in the Church of Christ of old; because the Church of Christ of old had in it only elders, priests and teachers: so they left out this part of the revelation when they published the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.
There are many other changes in the revelations, but I will not take the space and time to speak of any more of them.
I want to tell the brethren, that when the Book of Doctrine and Covenants was published, and presented to the church assembly in Kirtland, Ohio, in August, 1835, as recorded in the old church papers, a very few of the brethren then knew about most of the important changes that had been put in the book of Doctrine and Covenants. In time it was generally found out, and the result was that some of the members left the church on account of it. A few members dissented from the church as early as 1832, on account of the spiritual blindness of some of the leaders. When it became generally known that these important changes had been made in the doctrine and Covenants, many of the brethren objected seriously to it, but they did not want to say much for the sake of peace, as it was Brother Joseph and the leaders who did it. The majority of the members -- poor weak souls -- thought that anything Brother Joseph would do, must be all right; so in their blindness of heart, trusting in an arm of flesh, they looked over it and were led into error, and finally all talk about it ceased. I was told that Sidney Rigdon was the cause of those changes being made: by smooth talk he convinced Brother Joseph and that committee that it was all right.
The editors of the old church papers, "Evening and Morning Star" and "Messenger and Advocate," admit that some changes were made in some of the revelations; that they added some items to some revelations, from other revelations. I will not accuse those who did it of being fully aware of the grievous error they were making when they added those items -- that is, made those changes; I would rather believe that they were spiritually blinded when they did it: and that Satan deceived them, whispering to them that it was all right and acceptable until God.
Some of the Latter Day Saints have claimed that God had the same right to authorize Brother Joseph to add to any revelations certain words and facts, that He had to give him any revelations at all: but only those who are trusting in an arm of flesh and are in spiritual blindness, would pretend to make this claim; that God would give his servants some revelations, command them to publish them in His Book of Commandments, and then authorize them to change and add to them some words which change and reverse the original meaning: as if God had changed his mind after giving his word. No brethren! God does not change and work in any such manner as this; all those who believe that God does work this way, my prayer for them is that they may repent, for they are in utter spiritual blindness.
I want to say a few words here in regard to section 17, in the Doctrine and Covenants. This revelation was published in the "Evening and Morning Star" in 1832, before the Book of Commandments was published, and was put in that paper as, "The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ, with a few items from other revelations." This revelation was received in June, 1830, and these two paragraphs were added in June, 1832, in that paper. Now I will explain why they did not print this revelation in the Book of Commandments in 1833, with these added parts in it. It is this: The heads of the church had not yet become sufficiently blinded to change a revelation that was given in 1830, and print it changed in God's Book of Commandments in 1833. W. W. Phelps is the one who printed this revelation in that paper with the "items" (Paragraphs 16 and 17), added to it; but when the heads of the church changed the name of the church to "The Church of Latter Day Saints," (leaving out the name of "Christ" entirely) when they did this, and compiled the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835, God had then given them over to blindness of mind, and they could print this revelation in God s book, as also other revelations, changed and added to with a clear conscience, as they did many other grievous things with a clear conscience after this, thinking they were all right. I have no doubt that Brother Joseph thought his works up to the time of his repentance just before his death, were acceptable to God.. Poor Joseph! He was blinded and became ensnared by proud, ambitious men. I labored hard with him to get him to see it -- from 1835 -- and God alone knows the grief and sorrow I have had over it. I have been told that Joseph repented just before he died. He is in the hands of a just God. If David of old could obtain salvation by repentance, so could Brother Joseph Smith.