An Address to All Believers in Christ — Chapters 9-12
Chapter 9 — High Priests
High Priests were only in the church before Christ; and to have this office in the Church of Christ is not according to the teachings of Christ in either of the sacred books: Christ himself is our great and last High Priest. Brethren -- I will tell you one thing which alone should settle this matter in your minds; it is this: You cannot find in the New Testament part of the Bible or Book of Mormon where one single high priest was ever in the Church of Christ. The office of an Elder is spoken of in many many places, but not one word about a High Priest being in the church. This alone should convince any one, and will convince any one who is without prejudice, that the office of High Priests was established in the church almost two years after its beginning by men who had drifted into error. You must admit that the church which was to be established in this dispensation, must be " like unto the church which was taught by Christ' s disciples of old." Then the Church of Latter Day Saints is unlike the Church of Christ of old, because you have the office of High Priests in the church. The office of a High Priest as you have it, is of more importance than the office of an Elder; then why is not something said about this high office being in the Church which Christ came on earth to establish at Jerusalem and upon this land? Why is there not something said about this important office, and so much said about an Elder?
Brethren, it is strange -- very strange -- that you will continue to cling to the man, Joseph Smith, and measure the written word of God by his revelations. So has it been in all ages past. You are in spiritual blindness. Hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand; seeing ye shall see and not perceive. And this too when Christ has given us the Book of Mormon with the plain and precious things therein.
When Christ came into the world upon this land, Nephi was a great High Priest who had done many mighty works. Now Nephi had to lay down his robe of a High Priest just outside the door and come into the Church of Christ by baptism, to the office of an Elder, and not once after that is Nephi called a High Priest. At this time the Church of Christ was established upon this land. Christ comes into the world and preaches to them as he had to those at Jerusalem, giving them instructions concerning his Church and the New Covenant which he made with them, as he had with those on the eastern continent, telling them they were no longer under the old law of Moses, but from that time were under him. He chooses twelve disciples who were called Elders, to minister unto that people, and after giving them full instructions concerning the establishing of his church, he ascends into heaven. Elders, Priests and Teachers were ordained in his church, and full instructions given concerning their duties. Christ told his disciples to write his teachings, for they were to be hid up to come down to us as his teachings to us. Now this being the case, why are not some instructions given in the new covenant of that book concerning the office of High Priests? Of course there was no such an office in the Church of Christ upon this land, nor in the Church of Christ upon the eastern continent, nor should there be such an office in the Church today. It is a grievous sin to have such an office in the church. As well might you add to the teachings of Christ -- circumcision -- offering up the sacrifice of animals -- or break the ordinances of Christ in any other way by going back to the old law of Moses.
We will now go to the New Testament in the Bible. In no place therein does it mention one single High Priest as being in the Church of Christ. High Priests are spoken of in Hebrews iv to ix, but only to explain that Jesus Christ is our great High Priest after the order of Melchisedec." It speaks of High Priests that offered up sacrifices under the old law, showing that Christ himself was after that order, but not once does it speak of the office of a High Priest continuing after Christ, except only in Christ himself; He being " the Apostle and High Priest of our profession; * * * our great High Priest that has passed into the heavens; * * * a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec." " Seeing then that we have a great High Priest (and the only one) * * * let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, etc." This being the fulfillment of the old order of High Priests which was a type of Christ' s order. Before Christ, the people came to the High Priest for mercy and forgiveness, through him offering up sacrifices for their sins; but now the people have the great High Priest even Jesus Christ to go to that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need:" He having offered up his body a sacrifice for the sins of the world. " And having an High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, etc." This matter is plainly set forth in Hebrews, iv chapter.
Brethren, it is solemn mockery before God to have established in the church today this important office of which Christ alone is worthy. The office of Elder is spoken of all through the New Testament as being in the church, but not one High Priest; then of course they had no High Priests in the church upon the eastern continent.
Now Brethren, seeing they had no High Priests in the church of Christ of old, and none in the church of Christ in these last days until almost two years after its beginning -- when the leaders began to drift into error; remembering the fact of the revelation being changed two years after it was given to include High Priests; taking these things into consideration, how is it that any one can say that the office of High Priest should be in the church of Christ today? I can account for it only on the grounds of your spiritual blindness. This matter is so plain and self-evident that any one should see and understand it. Brethren, your blindness must be utter blindness. May God have mercy on you is my prayer.
In no place in the word of God does it say that an Elder is after the order of Melchisedec, or after the order of the Melchisedec Priesthood. An Elder is after the order of Christ. This matter of priesthood, since the days of Sydney Rigdon, has been the great hobby and stumbling block of the Latter Day Saints. Priesthood means authority; and authority is the word we should use. I do not think the word priesthood is mentioned in the New Covenant of the Book of Mormon. Authority is the word we used for the first two years in the church -- until Sydney Rigdon's days in Ohio. This matter of the two orders of priesthood in the Church of Christ, and lineal priesthood of the old law being in the church, all originated in the mind of Sydney Rigdon. He explained these things to Brother Joseph in his way, out of the old Scriptures, and got Brother Joseph to inquire, etc. He would inquire, and as mouthpiece speak out the revelations just as they had it fixed up in their hearts. As I have said before, according to the desires of the heart, the inspiration comes, but it may be the spirit of man that gives it. How easily a man can receive some other spirit, appearing as an Angel of Light, believing at the time that he is giving the revealed will of God; a doubt never entering his mind but what he is doing God's will. Of course I believe that Brother Joseph gave every revelation -- including the one on polygamy -- in all good conscience before God. This is the way the High Priests and the priesthood as you have it, was introduced into the Church of Christ almost two years after its beginning and after we had baptized and confirmed about two thousand souls into the church.
When the Church of Christ was established at Jerusalem, and upon this continent, and in 1829, the officers which were to be in the church were made known at its beginning, and not two years afterwards.
In Kirtland, Ohio, in June, 1831, at a conference of the church, the first High Priests were ordained into the church. Brother Joseph ordained Lyman Wight, John Murdock, Harvey Whitlock, Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon and others to the office of a High Priest. When they were ordained, right there at the time, the devil caught and bound Harvey Whitlock so he could not speak, his face being twisted into demon-like shape. Also John Murdock and others were caught by the devil in a similar manner. Now brethren, do you not see that the displeasure of the Lord was upon their proceedings in ordaining High Priests? Of course it was. These facts are recorded in the History of the Church -- written by my brother, John Whitmer, who was the regularly appointed church historian. I was not at that conference, being then in Hiram, which is near Kirtland, Ohio. I also have the testimony of Harvey Whitlock whom the devil caught and bound: also John Whitmer, who was present, and others who were present at the time, so I know it is true. John Whitmer wrote this in the church history when he was in full fellowship with the church. As a faithful historian he speaks of this matter, and tries to explain it away by saying, "While the Lord poured out his spirit, the devil took occasion to make his power known; he bound Harvey Whitlock so that he could not speak, and others were affected, but the Lord showed to Joseph the seer, the design of this thing: He commanded the devil in the name of christ and he departed to our joy and comfort." It was not given to Brother John nor any of them at that time to understand this matter of the devil entering into the first High Priests that were ordained in the church. They were all blind as to the design of that thing, and did not see what it meant. Of course it was given to Brother Joseph to cast the devil out, but what was the design of the devil entering into these men just as soon as they were ordained the first High Priests ever ordained in the church? Of course it was to show that God' s sore displeasure was upon their erring works or ordaining High Priests into the Church of Christ. Any spiritual man can see this. Brother John was himself ordained a High Priest at that time, so he was in error and could not see it; but he saw it very clearly in 1848, when the Lord opened our eyes to see and understand it. Prejudiced persons are blind and do not want to see and understand except their own preconceived way. There is none so blind as those who will not see. In Brother John' s history he speaks of the Spirit of God being poured out in abundance upon that occasion, some seeing visions, etc., but brethren, you will learn in the next world, if you do not know it already, that the devil can give visions, appearing as an Angel of Light. Brother John gives an account of a prophecy uttered by Lyman Wight just after Brother Joseph ordained him a High Priest, which prophecy will prove to be a false prophecy. Brother John' s history of the church says as follows: "He (Joseph) laid his hands upon Lyman Wight and ordained him to the high priesthood after the holy order of God. And the spirit fell upon Lyman, and he prophesied concerning the coming of Christ. He said that there were some in this congregation that should live until the Savior should descend from Heaven with a shout, with all the holy angels with him, etc." The early future will determine as to whether this prophecy was true or false.
Some of the brethren have gone outside of the written word of God, and accepted as evidence, histories that were written 350 to 400 years after Christ, to prove that High Priests were in the Church of Christ.. This seems strange to me. They have quoted from the history of St. Jerome, who was Secretary to the Pope at Rome, about 382 years after Christ. I should not wonder if the apostolic church did have High Priests and many other offices and ordinances that were abominable before God, after they drifted into error like the Latter Day Saints have. They have also quoted from Theodoret who died 457 years after Christ. His writings extend from A. D. 325 to A. D. 429. My authority for the above is Lippincott s Biographical Dictionary. Now shall we take such evidence as this to prove the office of High Priests being in the church when it was in its purity, when the written word of God mentions all the church officers in many places and says nothing about a single High Priest? Nay verily. As for me, I must take the Scriptures for my authority. I cannot understand how any person can claim that an important office like High Priests should be, or was in the Church of Christ when it was in the true faith, when nothing is said in the scriptures about it. The Scriptures were given by inspiration of God: and do you suppose that God would leave out of his word the great office of a High Priest, if they were to be in the Church of Christ? Of course not. It is charging God foolishly to believe that he would leave out of his word this office or any other office that he intended should be in his church.
Some of the brethren have referred to 1 Peter ii:5-9 and Rev. i:6 to prove that there were High Priests in the Church of Christ, but the word High Priest is not mentioned in either passage. These two passages are all they have referred to in the whole of the New Testament, and no passage can be found in the New Testament part of the Book of Mormon to refer to, because High Priests are not even mentioned therein. In the above two passages there is no reference whatever to this office. In 1 Peter ii:5, 9, Peter is addressing the whole church, and says, "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; * * * * Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, etc." How any person can pretend to claim that this passage refers to the office of High Priest, is more than I can understand. If it does, then every member of the church holds this office, because Peter is addressing the whole church as you can see from the first of his epistle. Of course there is no reference made here to this office.
Rev. i:6 reads as follows: "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kinds and priests unto God and his father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." This has no reference to the office of a High Priest. It refers to the time when we will be in the Spirit, and can say as John then said, he being in the Spirit, unto Jesus Christ who hath redeemed us and hath made us kings and priests unto God, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Some of the brethren have misunderstood the Old Testament part of the Book of Mormon concerning High Priests, and refer to Alma 9-6: Alma says, "This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world: or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things." Here it is speaking of the order of the High Priests before Christ: their order being after the order of the Son of God, and this order being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity. This being Christ's order, He being from eternity to all eternity, has held this holy order of priesthood from eternity and will hold it to all eternity. Those High Priests before Christ came into the world, held this holy order of priesthood as a type of Christ's order; but when Christ came into the world, he then claimed his own holy order of priesthood and power on earth, doing away with all types and shadows under the old law, himself alone being our great and last High Priest unto whom we can go to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Brethren, I am constrained to say as Alma says at his conclusion of this matter: He ends his writing in the tenth chapter, 2d paragraph, by these words: "Now I need not rehearse the matter; what I have said, may suffice. Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction."
Chapter 10 — The Choice Seer.
As ancient Israel was in error in misinterpreting prophecy, so the Latter Day Saints are in error in misinterpreting modern prophecy. As I have said, a distinction must be made between the gospel or doctrine of Christ, and prophecy. It is plain to be seen from the scriptures that it is not the Lord's purpose to reveal prophecy in as great plainness as the gospel and doctrine of Christ. Scripture prophecy refers to events that are to transpire in the Lord's work; and it is not his purpose to reveal in plainness at this time, all the mysteries and plans of his great work among the children of men in the future. Such has been the case in all ages past. The prophecies to the Jews regarding the way in which Christ was to come, were obscure, and they were only understood by those who had the spirit to understand them. They could have been written so plain that any person could understand them correctly; but it was not God's purpose to do so. The Book of Mormon tells us that the book of prophecy of John's Revelation is hard to understand, but when God's own due time comes, it is to be unfolded and made plain; but the gospel and doctrine of Christ is so plain in the New Covenant of the Book of Mormon, that a child can understand it. Christ says, "And I give you these commandments, because of the disputations which have been among you. And blessed are ye if ye have no disputations among you. Also, that you might know of the true points of my (Christ's) doctrine," (Nephi viii:9 and ix:11). But prophecy is another matter outside of the gospel or doctrine of Christ; it can only be interpreted correctly by the enlightenment of the Holy Ghost. Peter says, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy ; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." (2 Peter i:19). The day star means the Holy Ghost, by which prophecy can only be rightly understood.
The Latter Day Saints are in error in believing that Joseph Smith was the Choice Seer spoken of in 2 Nephi ii.
I will show you that Brother Joseph could not have been this Choice Seer, because that Seer is to be of the seed of Joseph, (of Egypt) of the seed of Lehi, who is a descendant of Joseph, which Lehi came over to this land from Jerusalem 600 years B.C.: The American Indians (the Lamanites) being the remnant of that seed. To make it more plain, I will repeat the explanation given in Chapter iii. The man who is not learned (in 2 Nephi xi:18) refers to Brother Joseph; But the Choice Seer (2 Nephi ii) is another man. He is to come from the fruit of the loins of Joseph (of Egypt), that seed being the branch which was broken off at Jerusalem, to whom this land was consecrated for their inheritance forever -- being Lehi and his seed; Lehi's seed being Little Joseph, who received this blessing from his father Lehi, that his seed should not utterly be destroyed; for out of his seed which should not all be destroyed (the Indians), should come this Choice Seer. It is very plain to me. This Seer is to come from the Lamanites, and Brother Joseph is not of that seed. The name of that Seer will be Joseph, after Joseph of Egypt, and his father's name Joseph. He is to translate sealed records yet to come forth. "And not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word." Brother Joseph never convinced a single Lamanite that I ever heard of.
This Choice Seer is to convince the Lamanites in person, and do a great work among them ("his brethren") in person. It can plainly be seen by reading the two passages referred to, that "the man that is not learned" is a different man from this Choice Seer. There is no identity between the two persons referred to in these two passages. In one passage it calls the person referred to the man that is not learned; while in the other; the person referred to is a Choice Seer, who shall be great and mighty like unto Moses; and the whole chapter is devoted to this Seer and to Moses. Some have confounded the men spoken of in 2 Nephi xi:17, 18, 19. A man, being the spirit of a just man made perfect, has a hand in bringing forth the words of the Book of Mormon as well as Brother Joseph; and there is also a time referred to in the nineteenth paragraph that is yet in the future. We will now analyze this chapter (2 Nephi ii) concerning the Choice Seer. It is plain to be seen that the whole chapter refers to this one Choice Seer and to Moses. I see some of the Latter Day Saints have lately interpreted one mighty to arise from the Lamanites; this is a recent interpretation they have put upon this chapter. A clause in the last part of the chapter makes it very plain that the Choice Seer spoken of all through the chapter, is to come from the Lamanites. It is very plain that the last part of the chapter (Par. 4) refers to this same Choice Seer. Lehi is making his conclusion and closing remarks concerning his son s (little Joseph s) blessing; which blessing can be seen in the first part of the chapter, the blessing being this; that little Joseph s seed should not all be destroyed, for out of his seed should arise one mighty, who should be a Choice Seer. And now, behold, my son Joseph, after this manner did my father of old (Joseph of Egypt) prophesy. Wherefore, because of this covenant thou are blessed (a blessing); for thy seed shall not be destroyed * * * And there shall raise up one mighty among them (this same Choice Seer - - this same blessing), who shall do much good, both in word and in deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work mighty wonders, and do that thing which is great in the sight of God. Before this it says he shall be great in mine eyes. Why is it that any one cannot see this? The closing of this chapter is only a rehearsal and conclusion about this same Choice Seer.
This whole chapter treats of the one matter; a blessing is pronounced upon little Joseph, because a Great Seer is to be of his seed, that should not all be destroyed. That seed being "a branch which was to be broken off" at Jerusalem, to whom this land was consecrated for their inheritance. He tells them that this Great Seer was not the Messiah, but that he was to come from a branch of the house of Israel that was to be broken off, "nevertheless to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord, that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light; yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom." Can you not see from this that the Choice Seer is to come from the Lamanites? They are the people here referred to. The next words are as follows: "For Joseph (of Egypt) truly testified, saying, a Seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a Choice Seer unto the fruit of my loins." This is the testimony or prophecy of Joseph (of Egypt) which Lehi refers to in his closing remarks in paragraph four, where he says: "And now, behold, my son Joseph, after this manner did my father of old prophesy. Wherefore because of this covenant thou art blessed; for thy seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book; and there shall raise up one mighty among them." They shall hearken unto the words of the book which the Choice Seer shall bring forth, which Seer is to convince them. This passage means the same as if the word for instead of the word and, was there, as follows: "Wherefore, because of this covenant thou art blessed; for thy seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book; for there shall raise up on might among them, who shall do much good, * * * and do that thing which is great in the sight of God."
Again, it says this Choice Seer will do only according to the commands of God. He will be faithful and break none of God's commandments. This alone proves that Brother Joseph was not the Choice Seer. In a revelation given to Brother Joseph while he was translating, (Sec. 2) the Lord said, "Behold, how oft have you transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men * * * if thou art not aware thou wilt fall." Does this agree with the description of the Choice Seer Nay verily. This alone should satisfy any one, and will satisfy any one who is not trusting in an arm of flesh, that Brother Joseph was not the Choice Seer.
Again, it can be seen from this point that Brother Joseph was not this Great Seer. He is to come from the seed that shall write the word of the Lord; and this is the Nephite seed. It says, "But a Seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; * * * wherefore, the fruit of they loins (from which this Seer is to be raised up) shall write ; (the Nephite records), and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write." So we see again that the Choice Seer is to come from the Nephite or Lamanite seed.
Again, the same can be seen from a clause which follows in this connection: "and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days."
Again, the same can be seen from this clause which says, "He shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins, HIS BRETHREN, which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers." From this we see that his brethren are to be the Lamanites. Then he is to be of the Lamanite seed.
Again, it says, they who seek to destroy this Choice Seer shall be confounded. Those who sought to destroy Brother Joseph were not confounded, but they destroyed him.
Brethren, you have no conception of how great and mighty this Seer will be, and the great work he is to do in restoring the house of Israel, or you would never claim that Brother Joseph was this man. I believe this man to be the same man referred to in Genesis xlix:24, and by Paul in Romans xi:26. The passage in Genesis is Joseph's blessing: "From thence is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel." From the seed of Joseph will come a man who shall be the Shepherd to gather scattered Israel in the last days. This does not mean Christ, for he came from the seed of Judah. The other passage in Romans says, "There shall come out of Sion (this land) the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." This does not mean Christ, as you can see by reading the context. I am satisfied these two passages refer to this same Choice Seer.
To conclude, we see that Brother Joseph was not this Choice Seer for the following reasons:
First: He is to come from the seed of Lehi, and Joseph Smith is not of that seed.
Second: He is to convince the Lamanites in person; Joseph Smith did not convince them.
Third: His tongue will not be loosed that he can speak much, and the Lord is to raise up a spokesman for him; Joseph Smith's tongue was loosed to speak, he being a good speaker.
Fourth: Those who seek to destroy this Seer will be confounded, this does not agree as being Brother Joseph, because he was destroyed.
Fifth: The Choice Seer will be faithful and do strictly according to the command of God; Brother Joseph broke the commands of God from the beginning.
So we see that Brother Joseph was not this Choice Seer.
Chapter 11 — The Gathering.
One of the greatest mistakes that the leaders of the old church made, and a mistake which the Latter Day Saints are making today, is concerning this matter.
The time for building the city New Jerusalem has not yet come. The leaders of the old church, in their unwise zeal, prompted more by the spirit of man than the Spirit of God to do great things in the Lord's vineyard, began to think that they were the few chosen servants who should labor in the last pruning of the vineyard, and do the great closing work of the last dispensation of the fullness of times -- building the city New Jerusalem, etc. If they had been more humble and lowly in heart, they would not have made this great mistake. They did not stop to consider that God had his own time in which his great and marvelous works should be done among the inhabitants of the earth. They thought that the time for building the city New Jerusalem must be now at hand -- in their time -- man s time -- and that they were the ones who were to build it. In this condition of heart, brought about by their unwise zeal and the spirit of man to do great things, instead of being humble, they had Brother Joseph to get a revelation as to the time of building that city, and gathering into it. So Brother Joseph gave a revelation, as mouthpiece, that the time was then at hand, and they began to gather into Jackson County, Missouri, at once. They were too hasty. The time to build that city had not yet come, because Christ says that the "remnant of Jacob" (the seed of Lehi, unto whom this land was consecrated) are the people who shall build that city, and the Gentiles are only to assist them to build it. The other people who shall also assist them to build that city are as many of the house of Israel as shall come into the covenant. Therefore if the seed of Lehi are to build that city, the leaders of the old church and the Latter Day Saints today are in error in this matter. I will show you from the Book of Mormon that the seed of Lehi, on whom the choicest blessing of any of the house of Israel rests, are the people who shall be honored with building that city; and that the rest of the house of Israel who are faithful, and also the Gentiles, shall only assist them in that work (Nephi x:1). Christ himself says: "And they (the Gentiles) shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob; and also, "as many of the house of Israel as shall come," that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem; and then shall they assist my people that they (all) may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem." From this we see the remnant of Jacob are the ones who shall build that city, and the Gentiles and the rest of the house of Israel shall only assist them. Now, the question is, what people does the "remnant of Jacob" here refer to? We find that Christ makes it plain in this same sermon he is preaching to them, that the remnant of Jacob means the remnant of the seed of Lehi. In the preceding chapter, paragraph eleven, Christ says as follows: " When these things * * * * 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." So we see that the remnant of Jacob means the Lamanites, or seed of Lehi. Then it is plain that the time to build that city has not yet come, because the remnant of Jacob is to do that work.
There is an expression that Christ uses in this chapter which is often used by the prophets; that expression is "At that day." All who understand the scriptures know that this expression means in that dispensation of time. A dispensation may be a thousand years, more or less; and the prophets all speak of a dispensation by saying "at that day." A day with the Lord is as a thousand years. Isaiah, when prophesying of events to take place in the same dispensation, but more than a thousand years apart, speaks of them in the same chapter by saying "at that day;" when a person who does not understand the scriptures might think from his language that the events were to transpire within a few years of each other. Some of the brethren have tried to prove that Brother Joseph was the Choice Seer because the text says of this man that he shall " be made strong in that day when my work shall commence among all my people," etc. In that day or at that day means in that dispensation or cycle of time; and it would be folly for us to attempt to locate the time of an event because it says in that day. The above text means as follows: In the dispensation of time in which the work of the Father shall commence to restore Israel, in that dispensation -- in that day -- the Choice Seer is to be made strong.
So also in this chapter concerning the building of the city New Jerusalem, in speaking of the time when the house of Israel shall be gathered in unto that city from all over the earth, a time when the power of heaven shall come down among them, a time when Jesus Christ will be in their midst, it says at that day shall the work of the Father commence, etc. Of course we understand the words at that day to mean in that dispensation of time, which may extend over a thousand years.
We suppose of course that the sealed records which are to come forth will give full instructions concerning the gathering in unto the city new Jerusalem, and the restoration of Israel that is now scattered among every nation under heaven. These great events are simply mentioned in the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I believe that no man living in the flesh has ever had any conception of the great and marvelous work of the Lord which is yet to transpire in gathering the house of Israel. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is only a preparatory work. It is only an abridgement of the sealed records of the Nephites. Records are yet to come forth which "reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof;" all things which have been done, and all things which are yet to be done -- the great and wondrous mysteries and the works of God which are yet to transpire.
Chapter 12 — Changing the Name of the Church.
When Christ established His church upon this land, in the days of the Nephites, He gave them special instructions from his own lips concerning the name by which His church must be called. He gave them a strict commandment to call the church by His name, which He said was Christ. The Nephite brethren obeyed that commandment and called the church THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, as seen in many places in the New Covenant of the Book of Mormon. And after this time, in no place in the book is it called by any other name. Christ himself considered this matter of the name of His church of great importance, as can be seen from His instructions regarding it. The Nephite brethren were having disputations among themselves as to the name of the church, just as there are disputations at this day concerning this matter. When Christ appeared to them on the third day of His mission upon this land, the first thing they said to him was this (Nephi xii:3): "Lord, we will that Thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter. And the Lord said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing? Have they not read the scriptures, which say, ye must take upon you the NAME OF CHRIST, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day: * * * * therefore, ye shall call the church in my name; * * * * and how be it my church, save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses' name, then it be Moses' church; or if it be called in the name of a man, then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name, then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel." So we see that Christ himself considered this matter of great importance. If he had wanted them to call it by the name Jesus Christ he would have said so, but he said the name Christ. Remember brethren, how the words of the Book of Mormon came; not by the wisdom of any man, but by the wisdom and power of God; therefore, every word is in its place. In June, 1829, the Lord gave us the name by which we must call the church, being the same as He gave the Nephites. We obeyed His commandment, and called it THE CHURCH OF CHRIST until 1834, when, through the influence of Sydney Rigdon, the name of the church was changed to "The Church of the Latter Day Saints," dropping out the name of Christ entirely, that name which we were strictly commanded to call the church by, and which Christ by His own lips makes so plain. Now it is strange, it is marvelous, that the Latter Day Saints today consider this matter of changing the name of the church, and the leaders in 1834 dropping out the name of Christ, as a small thing and a light matter! You know not how strict are the commands of God! It is nothing short of trifling with a strict commandment of Almighty God, and setting at naught the decision of Christ himself when He decided this matter so plainly and so positively, when there were disputations regarding it. I say, that any man who sanctions the name of the church being changed from the name which Christ gave it, setting aside the decision of Christ in this matter, is in utter spiritual blindness, and should repent speedily. Suppose that the Nephite brethren, five years after Christ had ascended into heaven, had said among themselves: Brethren, although Christ commanded us to call the church THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, let us change the name which He gave the church, and drop out the name of Christ, which He commanded the church to be called by, and call this church the Church of Former Day Saints. Can you not see they would have been under condemnation for it? Answer this question yourselves. This is what the leaders did in 1834, when they changed the name to the Church of Latter Day Saints, dropping out the name of Christ. Still you claim they were not in spiritual blindness. Verily, you know not God s way of dealing with man. His commandments are strict. Remember Uzziah, who broke a command of God by reaching out his hand to steady the ark, thinking that he was doing God's will; but was stricken dead for it.
I will give you what is on the title page of the Book of Commandments, and also the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, concerning the name, to show you that the name of the church was changed, and the name of Christ dropped out entirely. On the title page of the Book of Commandments is this: A BOOK OF COMMANDMENTS FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. On the title page of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, published at Kirtland, Ohio, 1835, is this: DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS OF THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS. Also, the heading of the preface reads thus: TO THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS. Also on page 5: THEOLOGY. LECTURE FIRST. ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS. You see they changed the name of the church, and left out the name of Christ entirely, which the church was strictly commanded to wear, or else they were not the Church of Christ.
Some of you have referred to Nephi, son of Nephi, i:8, where it says those who believed in Christ were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites; but if you will read that passage you will see that it was the wicked Lamanites who called the believers by these names. This was 231 years after Christ, when divisions had taken place in the church. The church at Jerusalem after Christ, and the church upon this land before Christ came, was often alluded to by men speaking of it, by various names, as the Church of the Lamb of God; the Church of God, etc: as some writers today would allude to it by various names; speaking of it as the Church of the Saints of God, etc., but that is not the question. The question is, what name was the church to wear -- what name did Christ want His church to take upon themselves? What name did Christ command them to take? It is important for every public institution to have a name. It is important for any church organization to have a name. Christ considered it of great importance for His church to have a name, and he gave it a name, telling them that it was necessary for His church to wear a certain name, and that if they wore any other name, that they were not His church. Are you so blinded that you cannot see and understand this? What right has any man or men to change the name which Christ decided the church should wear? God have mercy upon the man who says that the name should be changed to any other than that which Christ gave us. As for myself, I will take the decision of the King of Heaven in this matter; all those who are willing to trifle with the word of God, and set aside the decision of Christ, may do so. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
Brethren, I have this to say in conclusion. I will not argue and dispute with you. In the spirit of love and meekness I have told you in plain and simple words what the Spirit of God has moved upon me to speak. I am now past eighty-two years of age, and my work in this world is about done. God has given to this generation the Book of Mormon, and how plain and simple is the doctrine of Christ set forth therein. Now brethren, remember -- remember the words of Him who reigns in heaven and on earth; which will ye hear, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in that which is written, or the words of man? Choose for yourselves whom you will hear. I am not asking you to hear me; I refer you to the words of eternal truth, as they are contained in the two sacred books. I will always pray for you, that you may some day see that you are in error in believing and teaching the doctrines which men have added to the doctrine of Christ. My days to stay here are not many more; I soon go to rest with those who have gone before me; but I have rid my garments of your blood and the blood of all men. You may not understand by what spirit I speak, until at the judgment bar of God; then you will understand. May God have mercy upon you to humble your hearts before him, that you may be guided into the light of truth, is my prayer through the name of Christ. Amen.
Richmond, Mo., April 1st, 1887.