DIVINE PRIESTHOOD

NECESSITY OF A PRIESTHOOD, James J. Strang
D
IVINE AUTHORITY OF MORONISM, James J. Strang
APOSTASY, Samuel E. West
LOSS OF THE PRIESTHOOD, James J. Strang
MAN OF GOD, Samuel E. West

Entry into the kingdom of God requires a divine priesthood, called by the Spirit of prophesy and ordained by one holding that priesthood.  Not even Jesus could take the priesthood upon Himself.  He was ordained an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver under the hands of the Father.  “4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he [the Father] that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” (Heb. 5)  The Bible and God recognize only two orders of the priesthood: Melchisedec and Levitical (Aaronic).  Only the Melchisedec Priesthood (Apostles, High Priests, Elders) hold divine authority to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel.

Joseph Smith was ordained an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver under the hands of Peter, James, and John–who held that priesthood successively during their mortal lives.  Joseph Smith was murdered, while in the protective custody of the Governor of Illinois, on June 27, 1844.  That same hour, although 400 miles away, James J. Strang claimed that he was ordained an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver, under the hands of angels, to succeed Joseph.  He was murdered by two apostates in 1856, who were under the protection of the U. S. Steamer Michigan.  None of these murderers ever served any prison time for their vicious crimes.  Killing a Mormon was like killing an Indian.

James J. Strang ordained L. D. Hickey one of the twelve Apostles.  L. D. Hickey ordained Samuel Martin a High Priest, who ordained Lloyd Flanders a High Priest, who ordained Samuel E. West an Elder.  The wonderful blessings of the Melchisedec Priesthood, and the gate into the kingdom of heaven, are here for your salvation.

“14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10)

“And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” (Mark 3:14)

“And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (Acts 14:23)

“Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:22)

An essential element in the administration of the gospel of Christ and the laws of God is authority from God. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4) Even Christ was subject to the same law. “5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee…10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5)

A loss of the priesthood signifies a loss of the gospel; as there are none approved of God to administer its ordinances. When the ordinances of the gospel become changed, it is evidence that the priesthood of God has been lost. No man acting under authority from God can make any change in a holy ordinance. Baptism is known to have been performed only by immersion by Christ and His disciples. When it later became changed to sprinkling, it was no longer baptism. The change signified an end to the priesthood of God; as without baptism none can “enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

The priesthood of an endless life, which holds the keys to all spiritual blessings, was given to Adam and to all succeeding generations; until lost by iniquity. “1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him.” (Heb. 7:1) Melchsedec most likely blessed him with an ordination to the priesthood of an endless life; which became known as the Melchisedec Priesthood (it was formerly the priesthood of the Sons of God). This Melchisedec Priesthood is, “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” (Heb. 7:3) It does not pass by lineage as the Aaronic (Levitical) priesthood; but only by the will and calling of God.

This page includes the teachings of James J. Strang on the “Necessity of a Priesthood,” his teachings on the “Loss of the Priesthood,” and an article by myself, “Man Of God,” for the Stephen West Family Newsletters.

NECESSITY OF A PRIESTHOOD
By James J. Strang
Book of the Law of the Lord

1. Men never institute a Law, without officers to be the keepers, expounders and administrators of that Law. Should they do so, the endless questions of interpretation arising in practice would nullify the Law.

2. When God revealed his Law to men, he instituted a Priesthood, and set it in order, to be the keepers, the expounders and the administrators of his Law. Hence the saying, “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2d Pet. i, 20.)

3. Without such a Priesthood, qualified to truly expound the word of God, the Scriptures would be wrested by those who do not understand them, to their own destruction. (Ist Cor. ii, 16. 2d Pet. iii, 16.) The instructions of the authorized Priesthood should be received as an interpretation of the Law, and as obligatory on the faithful. (Deut. xviii, 15, 18, 19. xxxii, 7. Acts iii, 22, 23. 1st Cor. xi, 2. 2d Thess. ii, 15. iii, 6. 2d Tim. i, 13. ii, 2. iii, 14.)

4. If any one had for a moment imagined that it would be consistent and wise in God to institute a Law among men, without also instituting a body of men to keep, expound and administer that Law, the result of the experiment, which has been tried with the Bible, ought to brush away all such imaginings.

5. So poorly has the Bible been kept, that it is in dispute among the learned, whether numerous Books in it ought not to be expunged; and equally in dispute whether numerous Books, not contained in it, ought not to be inserted. The leading question of this nature is, as to the Books which, in Protestant Bibles, are called the Apocrypha. But great numbers of learned Christians entirely discard the Books of Ruth, Esther, Canticles, and Daniel, and not a few Jude and Revelations. On the other hand, many allow the Book of Jasher, and several later works which have been gathered up, and published under the name of the Apocrypha of the New Testament.

6, Aside from these questions, as to what Books are entitled to a place in the Christian Bibles, there are other questions equally grave as to what is contained in the Books. More than thirty thousand variations occur in the different exemplars of the Scriptures, without any means whatever of determining which is the right reading. Though many of these variations are of trifling moment, great numbers of them go to the sense of the reading, and some have a direct bearing on the most difficult questions of doctrine. Several of the most important controversies in the Christian world turn upon passages of disputed validity, and would be decided in a moment by erasing the alleged forgeries.

7. Surely these facts are enough to show that there ought to be an authorized keeper of the Law, having power to determine what is Law, and what are interpolations. But on the interpretation, it is enough to know that more than five hundred various Christian Churches have grown up, differing in faith and discipline, all professing to conform to the Bible, and each justifying its difference by its interpretation of the same word.

8. For the rest, if it be true “that the Law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless disobedient; for the ungodly, and for sinners; for unholy, and profane; for murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers; for manslayers; for whoremongers; for them that defile themselves with mankind; for menstealers; for liars; for perjured persons;” and for things contrary to sound doctrine, (1st Tim. i, 9, 10,) then it is necessary that there be administrators of the Law of God, with power to punish the disobedient and rebellious.

9. For such persons will not yield, except by compulsion, to a righteous Law. The inducement of good order and general peace and happiness, is not sufficient to restrain them. They will not be governed by precepts, but only by the mandate which says, Thou shalt and thou shalt not, and compels obedience by penalties, as well as induces it by rewards. To make a Law for such men, without officers to enforce it, would be vain folly. And the fact that God’s Law is against such, should admonish all that it is to be enforced by rewards and punishments, as well as inculcated by precept.

DIVINE AUTHORITY OF MORMONISM

MR. SPRANG TO PROFESSOR GRAHAM.–No. 1.
Voree, October 26th. 1848.
Gospel Herald, Vol. 3, Nov. 2, 1848

PROFESSOR GRAHAM:–SIR–In opening the discussion of the question whether God has given a dispensation of the gospel to the saints of the last days, called Mormons, with so respectable a controversialist as yourself for opponent, and under so favorable cir­cumstances for the development of truth, I confess a degree of per­sonal satisfaction seldom realized.

11. Always believing that truth was a hearty child, perfectly safe out of doors, and abundantly able to take care of himself in any company, I have constantly sought discussion on all questions affecting the welfare and happiness of mankind. In this spirit and this confidence I enter upon this controversy, taking upon myself the necessity of toil which no personal considerations would ever induce me to undergo.

12. I have so often entered into engagements for discussions with various persons who have subsequently receded from their engage­ments, that it gives me peculiar satisfaction to enter the lists with one, whose standing and character is a sure guarantee that he will faithfully defend his positions, make the most of his points, and may, I hope, if shown in error, yield to the truth.

13. Among the various evidences which may be adduced to show that Mormonism (so called) is a dispensation from God, I shall commence with this: THAT IT ALONE OF ALL CHURCHES ON EARTH IS POSSESSED OF THE TRUE GOSPEL, In showing this I shall proceed to state what the gospel is, as taught and practiced among the Latter Day Saints, (called Mormons.)­I shall then show from the New Testament what the true gospel is, as taught by Christ, his Apostles and immediate followers. Finally, by way of contrast, I will show what gospels are taught in the various other churches.

14. “The things that are of God, no man knoweth, but the spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the spirit that is of God, that we may know the things that are giv­en us from God; which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the doctrine of the spirit, compar­ing things spiritual with spiritual.”

15. Paul said expressly to the Galatian saints: “Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” I shall not take the trouble to show that Paul preached the same gospel as Christ and the other Apostles, but assuming that they all preached one gospel, shall refer to their several writings to show what that gospel is. Before doing that I proceed to state the gospel as the Lord Jesus Christ has committed it to us, and as it is preached in the church of the saints, called Mormons.

16. Christ came in the flesh, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, and of the house and lineage of David, according to the prophets; was crucified, and died for the redemption of mankind; that he rose from the dead, by means of which he has brought the resurrection of the body to all mankind.

17. And that whosoever will be saved must have faith towards God; that he must repent of works of wickedness, and be baptized for the remission of sins; that, after being baptized, by the laying on of hands of the Elders he receives the Holy Spirit, by means of which he is enlightened in spiritual things; and abiding and con­tinuing in obedience to God, he is made a son of God, will come forth in the first resurrection, a thousand years before the general resurrection of all mankind, as an heir of God and a partaker of the glory of his kingdom.

18. To make these things perfectly unambiguous, I state in dif­ferent words: That baptism, unless it be preceded by both faith and repentance, is of no avail; and that without baptism (immer­sion) no man can be saved. Such are a few of the leading principles of the gospel, as taught and practiced by the Latter Day Saints, called Mormons. I proceed to compare it with the gospel as taught by Christ and his Apostles and immediate followers.

19. Christ, in giving their mission to his Apostles, disclosed these principles: 1st. That he had received all power in heaven and on earth. Matt. xxviii. 18. John xx. 23. 2d. That he sent them to preach throughout the earth. Matt. xxviii. 19. Mark xvi. 15. Luke xxiv. 47. 3d. That they were to preach faith. Mark xvi. 16. Heb. 6. 4th. That they were to preach repentance. Luke xxiv. 47. 5th. [Page 166/478] That they were to baptize their disciples. Matt. xxviii. 19. Mark xvi. 16. Luke xxiv. 47. 6th. That the believers of this gospel so preached were to be distinguished by certain signs, pecu­liar to the church of God. Mark xvi. 17, 18.

20. An essential requisite to the possession of the gospel is, that the preacher be sent by the authority of God; as Paul says, “how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach ex­cept they be sent.” Rom. x. 14, 15. And no man taketh this honor (the priesthood or the authority to administer in the name of God) unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron, Heb. v. 4, who was called by revelation of God by the mouth of his author­ized revelator and mouthpiece, to wit, the prophet Moses. There­fore those who pretend to preach the gospel, not having received a dispensation of it to themselves by revelation from God, and not authorized to administer any of its ordinances, cannot preach Christ unto the salvation of any.

21. So entirely requisite is this authority from God that Christ him­self did not assume to preach the gospel until he received his priest­hood from God. At the age of twelve he was found with extraor­dinary wisdom disputing with the lawyers and doctors, but till he arrived to thirty the preaching of the gospel was left to John and his disciples, when Christ received, first, baptism, Matt. iii. 15, then priesthood, do 16, 17. Heb. i. 4, 5, 6, and afterward went to preaching the gospel. Nor did he either assume his priesthood as do some, or receive it from man as do more, but had it directly from God. “So Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest, but he that said unto him, thou art my son, to day have I begotten thee,” glorified him by making him an high priest. Heb. v. 5.

22. So much I deem it proper to say in this place of the necessity of authority by revelation from God, in order to a possession of the gospel at all. And if I am right, it follows that no church with which I am acquainted except the Latter Day Saints, called Mormons, have the gospel. The Roman Catholic church profess to have a regular succession of ordinations by the hands of those in authority before them, but they make no pretense to a call by revelation.–­Protestants claim a succession of ordination only a brief time, but universally disclaim all revelation since the canon of scripture was closed, and thereby have estopped themselves from pretending that either they or their predecessors were called by revelation.

23. It may seem superfluous to enter upon any proof that faith is so essential a principle of the gospel that without it there is no salvation. Indeed, after all that has been said about justification by faith alone, it is usually presumed that many of the Protestant church­es are in possession of at least this principle of the gospel. An exam­ination of the scriptures will I believe show them totally destitute of it as an examination of the facts will show the Mormons in posses­sion of it.

24. Paul, writing to one of the churches of his planting, 1 Cor. xii. 4, says: “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same spir­it. 5. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same Lord which worketh all in all. 7. But the manifestation of the spir­it is given to every man to profit withal. 8. For to one is given by the spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same spirit; 9. To another FAITH BY THE SAME SPIRIT; to another the GIFTS of HEALING BY THE SAME SPIRIT; 10. To another the WORKING of MIRACLES; to another PROPH­ECY; to another DISCERNING of SPIRITS; to another DIVERS kinds of TONGUES; to another the INTERPRETATION Of TONGUES: 11. But ALL THESE WORKETH that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to ev­ery man severally as he will.”

25. By which it clearly appears that gospel faith, such as Paul recognizes as genuine, is not only the gift of God, Eph. ii. 8, but that it is given by the same spirit, which also distributes among those who are subject to his operations healings, miracles, discern­ings, tongues, interpretations and prophecies, as well as wisdom and knowledge. Need I ask you whether the operations of that spirit are found in any church except the Mormon? Here is an enumeration of nine spiritual gifts, all distributed by one spirit, among those who are subject to his operations; and the whole Prot­estant world at least disclaim the possession of six at least of those gifts. How can they claim the seventh? If they are the people among whom that spirit distributes all these gifts severally as he will, why is it that he gives none of them either healing, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues or interpretations? Is not their dis­claimer of these six gifts of that same spirit evidence that they have no gifts from him? If he distributes all these gifts among a people, how is it that six of the nine are never found in a single instance in the entire Protestant community?

26. These considerations are, to my mind, conclusive that gospel faith is not found among them. On the contrary, in the Mormon church, with a priesthood called by revelation of God, faith is found, which is not merely historic, founded on reading, the gift of educa­tion or tradition, but is truly the gift of God, distributed among us by the spirit, which also distributes among us wisdom, knowledge, healings, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues and in­terpretations.

27. So essential to salvation is this faith, that Paul says: without faith it is impossible to please God; Heb. xi. 6; and Jesus Christ, in still stronger terms: He that believeth not shall be damned. Mark xvi. 16. Not only is the genuineness of this faith wit­nessed by its being accompanied by the other gifts, and its falsity by the absence of them, but also by the work which it accomplish­es. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is made up of an enumera­tion of the works accomplished by the faith formerly given to the saints. The same kind of works are accomplished by it among the people called Mormons now. Where else are they found in christ­endom?

28. Moreover Christ first said, preach the gospel to every crea­ture; and then, he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.–Believeth what? Presbyterianism, Methodism, Baptistism or Campbellism? Are those that believe either of these isms promis­ed salvation? Or is the promise of salvation confined to those that believe the gospel which he sent the Apostles to preach?

29. The various Protestant denominations acknowledge each oth­er as christian brethren; as members of the church of God. They each confess that salvation can be attained by obedience to the pre­cepts, ordinances and administrations of the others. Yet among them they preach various gospels. Every one has its own creed or confession of faith, written or unwritten, to which members must conform to have a standing among them. Yet they confess salva­tion in other churches, having different creeds and confessions of faith.

30. As a Protestant and a Baptist, what interpretation do you put on Christ’s words, “he that believeth not shall be damned?” What shall he believe? Believe the gospel? Or is it sufficient to be­lieve the creeds, the new perverted gospels of Protestantism? The creeds being contradictory, some must be false. Yet the Protest­ant world allows faith in either to be sufficient for salvation. “He that believeth not shall be damned.” But will believing false doc­trines answer for salvation? If it will not, all Protestantism is un­churched, and out of the pale of the promises of God. If it will, then an error believed is as good as the truth without hypocrisy.

31. Thus it appears that the Protestant churches, by disclaiming the possession of the other gifts distributed by the same spirit, which gives genuine faith, have in effect disclaimed gospel faith.–[Page 167/479] By altogether denying the effects produced by faith in gospel times, existing among themselves, they have declared themselves not pos­sessed of true faith. And by mutually acknowledging faith in their several contradictory creeds to be sufficient for salvation, they have declared faith in heresies and lies to be as good and effectual before God as faith in the gospel.

32. I apprehend that an examination will show that they do not know what repentance is, and consequently that they are destitute of the exercise of it. Certainly in all my acquaintance with christian denominations, from the ancient mother to the youngest daugh­ter, I have never found any who did not count a mere sensation, a feeling of terror at the expected wrath of God, as good repentance.

33. But for brevity I will pass on to the examination of the doc­trine of baptism. It is a common matter of reproach upon the Mor­mons that they hold that without baptism there is no salvation.–Indeed our enemies not infrequently accuse us of holding that bap­tism is a saving ordinance. Which however is not true, for we hold that faith in and obedience to the whole gospel is essential to sal­vation, and consequently hold that without baptism man cannot be saved. That is, a sinner cannot be saved from sin, and in the glory of God, except his sins be remitted in baptism.

34. In committing a dispensation of the gospel to the first of its ministers Christ said to them: “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them.” John xx. 23. And a short time after, when Peter was preaching, and some of his hearers believed the word and inquired of him what they should do, he told them to be bap­tized for the remission of sins; clearly showing that he exercised the power of remitting sins, which had been committed to him, by and in the sacrament of baptism. Christ, receiving ALL POWER in heaven and on earth, committed the power of remitting sins on earth to his priesthood on earth, and they immediately commenced remit­ting sins in the ordinance of baptism. What can make it plainer that the remission of sins is had in baptism?

35. Ananias, a devout Jew of Damascus, to whom Paul was sent by revelation to be instructed in the gospel, directed him to “be bap­tized and wash AWAY his sins.” Acts xxii. 16. Peter also says, baptism doth now (the time of his writing) save us, (Peter and his companions,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1st Peter iii. 21. Or, if I can understand his words, baptism brings us believers in to be partakers of the resurrection with him.

36. But as it designing by the most carefully selected language to put up a barrier against doubt on this subject, which neither igno­rance nor acumen could possibly misinterpret, the Lord Jesus says, with an oath, “EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN OF WATER and of the SPIRIT, he cannot ENTER INTO the KINGDOM of GOD.” John iii. 5.

37. It is very evident that if a man does not enter into the kingdom of God, where God and Christ are he cannot come; he cannot be an heir of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ, who, in God’s kingdom, is king of kings and lord of lords. He cannot have part in the first resurrection, for such shall reign with Christ on the earth when God’s kingdom, which we all pray for, and the rest of God, is brought in. In short, entering into the kingdom of God, and being saved, are in scripture convertible terms, perfectly synonymous.

38. It is remarkable too, that, though Christ in this conversation with Nicodemus does not mention the sacrament of baptism by name, yet by one of the strongest comparisons that language and fact admit of, he has expressed both the necessity and the form of it ­“Except a man be born of water.” What is it to be born of water? Truly, being enveloped in water, and from that state brought out of it, is the most perfect idea of being born of water. It is the exact pattern of a natural birth. A real birth is its perfect symbol. The thing symbolized is baptism.

39. So Christ’s words are precisely equivalent to saying, except a man be enveloped in water and brought forth out of it, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; or, except a man be baptized he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Such was the faith of the Former Day Saints. Such is the faith of Latter Day Saints, in de­rision called Mormons. And such is not the faith of any other church in christendom.

40. Roman Catholics, indeed, with all the ancient fathers of the church, and all christendom previous to the twelfth century, hold that baptism is regeneration. But, unfortunately for the cause of the Roman church, their substitute for baptism is not a birth of wa­ter in any sense whatever. It is merely a sprinkling, or an ablu­tion. The Campbellites, indeed, and I believe they are alone among modern sectaries, insist on the birth of water as essential to salva­tion. But, as if determined to stamp every article of their creed and every act of their religion with the mark of imposture and delu­sion, they practice baptism for the remission of sins by those whom they expressly assert are not authorized of God to remit sins.

41. And as if still tearful that their folly might fail to mani­fest itself sufficiently, they constantly require men to remit sins “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” who do not pretend to ever have been authorized by either of them to use their names. Should any one grant pardons and reprieves in the name of a public officer, or receipts and discharges in the name of a private citizen without being authorized by him to do so he would be prosecuted as a swindler and a forger, and confined in a penitentiary by the moral and righteous community in which we live. But when he does all these acts in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Campbellites look upon it as an act of true religion, and actually flatter themselves that the forgery will stand good in the court of heaven. And all the Protestant sects, which have any sacraments, have involved themselves in the same folly, with barely this plea in their favor, the non-materiality of the sacrament. For as they do not hold baptism of the least account in attaining to salvation, like a man arraigned for forging a written instrument of no legal force or value whatever, they may plead that as the deed is not of the slightest legal value if genuine, therefore it is of no consequence whether it is genuine or forged, and the forg­ery no crime.

42. But as to the great body of the christian churches, they do not practice baptism at all. They merely sprinkle or wash in wa­ter; and leaving out of the consideration all question of their au­thority to administer ordinances and sacraments, and of the ungospel purposes with which they administer them, they cannot in any sense pretend to be born of water. So that, upon this very ground, the great body of christendom must either unchurch themselves, in order to pretend to a gospel church on earth, aside from the Mor­mons, or on the other hand must deny so important a principle in the gospel as baptism for the remission of sins; by doing which they effectually unchurch themselves, by showing that they know not the gospel.

43. There is another test by which we know that the gospel is not in any other church except the Mormon, and is in that, which I recur to with real pleasure, because it was particularly given by Christ himself in connection with the gospel mission to all the earth. By Mark it is recorded in these words: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned. And THESE SIGNS SHALL FOLLOW THEM THAT BE­LIEVE: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues: They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them: They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” xvi. 15, 16, 17, 18.

DIVINE AUTHORITY OF MORMONISM
Gospel Herald, Vol. 3, Nov. 2, 1848

43. There is another test by which we know that the gospel is not in any other church except the Mormon, and is in that, which I recur to with real pleasure, because it was particularly given by Christ himself in connection with the gospel mission to all the earth. By Mark it is recorded in these words: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned. And THESE SIGNS SHALL FOLLOW THEM THAT BE­LIEVE: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues: They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them: They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” xvi. 15, 16, 17, 18.

44. In the trial of this test the Protestants cannot complain if they are allowed to be their own witnesses. They universally pro­fess that the signs do not follow them. Christ says, they shall fol­low them that believe. Therefore they, the Protestants, are not be­lievers of the gospel. But these signs do follow the Mormons.–So that in this, as in every thing else, they answer to the requisi­tions of a people possessed of the gospel, and in the enjoyment of the administration of its true ordinances.

45. Thus by this brief and imperfect examination of the facts, it appears that the people called Mormons, alone, of all churches known, are possessed of a knowledge of the gospel, of faith in it, or of the administration of its ordinances.

46. To fully appreciate the force of this argument it is necessary to bear in mind the words of Paul, that “the church of the living God is the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Tim. iii. 15. Con­sequently if any other church than the Mormon was the church of the living God, so great a truth as the gospel of salvation and ever­lasting life would be found in it. And the Mormons, a people of a few days, having grown up within the present generation, would not be in possession of so great and important truths, of which all the rest of the world are ignorant, except they had received them from God.

47. There are in Christendom some hundred thousand clergymen of various denominations, including in their numbers a vast propor­tion of the learning of the age, great numbers of them literati of the first rank, men who have done honor to all the colleges of Europe and America, who have made language, literature, criticism and the sacred oracles the study of their lives. Yet with their Bibles be­fore them as the book of all books, from infancy to old age, they have altogether failed to discover what that gospel is which is there recorded. Not one of them has declared it. Not one acknowledged it when presented, till proved by augments he could not answer.

48. As we find it now, so it has been for ages gone by. The world has been filled with Bibles. It has been filled with Bible readers. It has been over stocked with clergymen educated expressly as expounders of the scriptures. Yet the simplest facts con­tained in the scriptures were to the world mysteries more profound, less known than the mysteries of Free Masonry. Other sciences they could understand. This they could not. Why? Because “the things of God knoweth no man, but the spirit of God;” 1 Cor. ii. 11; which spirit they were not possessed of.

49. They could not stir up any gift within them by prophecy, and by the laying on of the hands of the priesthood; 1 Tim. iv. 14; for they had never been called by prophecy, nor set apart by the laying on of the hands of the priesthood, and had no such gift.–Consequently they were left blind to the things of God. Like the Pharisees, Saducees, and their doctors of the law in the time of Christ, they had the oracles of God and educated expounders there­of. Yet with their eyes they could not see, with their ears they could not hear, and with their hearts they could not understand.–As it was with the people, so with the priest. They were alike blind. And as one led the other, both fell into the ditch; both came short of salvation.

50. On the other hand, the Mormons, having a dispensation of the gospel direct from God by revelation, having a priesthood called by prophecy and revelation, set apart by the hands of the priesthood, by whose hands they have the gift of preaching, teaching and expounding the oracles of God, have been able to perceive and teach the true gospel.

51. They have taken those who fill the various offices in their priesthood from the fields and the shops, without education, with­out experience as speakers, with no qualifications whatever but the gift of God, and sent them out to face a world of opposition. In the [Page 170/482] establishment of a doctrine at war with every religious sect on earth, whose first declaration of faith perfectly unchurches them all, and they have prevailed.

52. So perfectly have they prevailed, that there is hardly a man to be found in all the U. S. who has the courage like yourself to enter the lists with them in discussion. To speak within common experience, throughout half the States they have been the terror of sectarian preachers wherever they have gone. And preachers of the first rank have commonly warned their flocks not to hear them, when they themselves dare not discuss with them.

53. It was not a strange remark of a neighbor of yours, that John E. Page was very uncouth in manners and expression for one to whom the oracles of God were committed. Such remarks have been made on almost every preacher in the entire church, and not always accompanied with a confession of talent neither. But with all their uncouthness they are able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, that the learned Doctors of Divinity in five hundred de­nominations cannot gainsay. And also to show that, except the Mormons, there is not a gospel church on the earth.

54. Yes, we have called men from the field and the plough, from the forest and the shop, who were not able to read the text from which they preached, nor to write an account of their missions, and giving them the gifts by prophecy and the hands of the priesthood, they have both preached the gospel with success in country and city, and have defended their faith with success against the ablest men of all denominations every where; till at this time you will find more men who will perform anew the feat of Gen. Putnam with the wolf than sectarian preachers who will enter upon a dis­cussion with a Mormon, of even the humblest pretensions.

55. Almost every denomination has, when it sprung up, had some one point of doctrine on which it prided itself, and in which it had the advantage of others in point of argument, as the Methodists on free grace, the Baptists on immersion, the Campbellites on the essentiality of baptism to salvation. These sects were founded by men of great learning, and with the light of extensive acquaintance, experience and reading.

56. But Joseph Smith, a very illiterate boy, as uncouth in man­ner and expression as one could well be, and, in fact, profoundly ignorant on all subjects without exception, (unless he was taught of God,) laid the foundation of a church, became its first preacher, declared and defended its doctrine, having more than this usual ad­vantage in every point of faith; and its preachers selected among those like himself, have universally prevailed every where.

57. The Mormons alone have a priesthood called and set apart by prophecy and the laying on of hands to the preaching of the gos­pel, allowing every denomination to be their own witnesses. The Mormons alone preach the gospel as it is recorded in the scriptures. The Mormons alone profess faith in such a gospel as is recorded in the scriptures. The Mormons alone have the signs follow them that Christ promised should follow the believers of the gospel. And the Mormons alone can find men qualified to preach the gospel mere­ly by the gifts of God, without any assistance from man.

58. I conclude, therefore, that the Mormons alone of all churches on earth are in possession of the true gospel. And as it is ridicu­lous to presume that the church of God is not in possession of the gospel, and extremely improbable that the treasure of the riches of God’s revelations should be committed to any but the true church, I conclude further that Mormonism (so called) is a dispensation from God. Truly and sincerely, JAMES J. STRANG.

APOSTASY

A knowledge of God, the gospel, and the priesthood of God was lost as the people after the Apostles fell into sin and disbelief. There are many passages and much historical evidence that the event was a historical and spiritual fact. It had already started in the days of the Apostles. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (2 Thess. 2:7)

John prophesied that the priesthood of God and the Church of Christ would be taken from the earth for a period of 1,260 years. “5 And she brought forth a man child [Jesus], who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron [law of God]: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 6 And the woman [Church of Christ] fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” (Rev. 12) Power was given to Satan to overcome the former day saints. “7 And it was given unto him [Satan] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. 8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.” (Rev. 13)

The certainty of this apostasy is absolute. John wrote, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Rev. 14:6) This would only be necessary if “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” was destitute of the gospel. “O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.” (Jer. 16:19)

Even ecclesiastical history evidences this fall. Mosheim gives a detailed history of this fall through the early centuries. See Eccles. Hist., Century 1, Part II, chap. 3:11; Century II, Part II, chap. 4:1, 2, 3; Century III, Part II, chap. 4:1, 4. Of the fourth century, “The rites and institutions, by which the Greeks, Romans, and other nations, had formerly testified their religious veneration for fictitious deities, were now adopted, with some slight alterations by Christian bishops, and employed in the service of the true God.” (Century IV, Part II, chap. 4:1, 4) This was the day when the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine combined pagan and Christian worship into a new national, Catholic, religion.

Of the fifth century, “The sacred and venerable simplicity of the primitive times, which required no more than a true faith in the word of God, and a sincere obedience to his holy laws, appeared little better than rusticity and ignorance to the subtile doctors of this quibbling age.” (Century V, Part II, chaps. 3:1 & 4:1)

John Wesley, a founder of Methodism, wrote, “It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were common in the Church for more than two or three centuries…The cause of this was not, as has been supposed, because there was no more occassion for them, because all the world was become Christians. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christian. The real cause of it was that the love of many, almost all Christians, so-called, was waxed cold. The Christians had no more of the spirit of Christ than the other heathens. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian church– because the Christians were turned heathens again, and only had a dead form left.” (John Wesley’s Works, Vol. Vii, 89; 26-27.)

The Church of England attests of the same in the Homily Against Peril of Idolatry of the sixteenth century. “So that laity and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages, sects, and degrees of men, women, and children of whole Christendom– an horrible and most dreadful thing to think– have been at once drowned in abominable idolatry; of all other vices most detested of God, and most damnable to man; and that by the space of eight hundred years and more.”

Man had lost communication with God, no longer worshipped God, lost the priesthood of God, and no longer understood the gospel of Christ. Here are those, “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb.”

LOSS OF THE PRIESTHOOD
By James J. Strang
Book of the Law of the Lord

1. It clearly appears from the old Scriptures, as well as the recent revelations, that no one can act in the name of God; that is, no man can act in the Priesthood, but he that is called by revelation of God, and ordained by the hands of those holding the Priesthood. (Ante i, 2, pp. 20, 21.)

2. Thus the call of Joshua was revealed to Moses, by the word of God, and he was ordained under Moses’ hand. (Num. xxvii, 18, 23. Deut. xxxiv, 9.) Aaron also was called by direct revelation, (Ex. xxviii, 1,) and was consecrated by Moses, by most august ceremonies. Paul, speaking on this subject, says, “No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. v, 4.) So all pervading did he regard this rule, that he goes on to show that Jesus Christ himself did not assume the Priesthood, but was elevated to it in conformity with this rule.

3. The Apostles practiced by this rule, and held that only by it could a qualified Priesthood be obtained. Paul, in exhorting Timothy, says, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery.” (1st Tim. iv, 14.) (*In the Doway this verse reads, “Neglect not the grace which in in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the imposition of the hands of the Priesthood.”) Thus the gifts necessary to a faithful and successful ministry are supposed to be conferred with the Priesthood, in the manner determined by the Law of God.

4. This being the rule in God’s Law, it is a matter of unquestionable fact, established by all history, that all Christendom are destitute of the Priesthood. There is not a single one of all the Christian Churches which makes the slightest pretension to having a Priesthood, so called and ordained.

5. The Roman Catholicks, and several of the Eastern Churches, do claim a regular succession of ordinations, from the Apostles down to the present time, and possibly some of them may maintain their claims by history, to that extent; but the calling of their Priesthood has for ages been anything else but by the word of God. In the Levantine countries, the calling of the Priesthood was, from the time of Constantine till the prevalence of Mohammedanism, for the most part in the hands of the civil power.

6. During the long struggle between Mohammedanism and Christianity, it passed through numerous vicissitudes, frequently following the fate of war. Since the Turkish power was firmly seated, the Priesthood is generally purchased with money. (Goodrich’s History of All Religions, pp. 165,169.)

7. In the Roman Catholick Church, the control of the Priesthood has been kept as much as possible in the hands of the Pope and Bishops. But these do not make the slightest pretence that candidates for the Priesthood are selected by revelation. Moreover, it has often occurred that in order to prevent a schism of a national Church, and losing his power over it altogether, the Pope has been obliged to yield the selection of Bishops to the civil power, reserving to himself only the right of investure; so that Bishops, chosen by the fiat of the King, and not by the will of the Pope, and much less by the voice of God, made Priests whomsoever they would, or such as the State which gave them power desired them to Consecrate.

6. As for the Popes, on whose regular succession the Romanists principally rely to sustain their claim to the Priesthood, in succession from the Apostles, they are not ordained at all. That is, they are never ordained Popes or Bishops of Rome. But any one who has been ordained Bishop, no matter to what See, on being elected Bishop of Rome, enters upon the Papal office without any further ordination Popes, therefore, are ordained to no Priesthood, but that of Bishop. A succession of ordinations to the Episcopal office is problematical; and as for a call, they are generally elected by a Conclave, in which all manner of deplomacy and national intrigue have iufluence; and the election has, on several occasions, been determined by war.

9. If all the old Christian Churches are unable to exhibit a Priesthood called of God, Protestants, and other modern Churches, can show neither a regular call, nor a succession of ordinations, from the time of the Apostles. They have no Priesthood beyond what men, by their mere motion, without authority from God, can confer.

10. The Episcopal Church, from which a majority of the Protestant Churches derived their existence and their Priesthood, is an offshoot of the Roman Catholick Church. Before examining its claims as the true Church of God, it is well to bring to mind that God had revealed but one faith, established but one system of religion; that true religion cannot be derived from false, and that a true Priesthood can be derived from none but those who possess it.

11. The Roman Catholick Church either was or was not the Church of God. If it was the Church of God, all who separated and dissented from it, separated and dissented from the true Church. They are false.

12. If it was not the Church of God, then as all Protestants derived whatever they have of Priesthood from it, they derived their Priesthood from something other than the Church of God, and have no authorized Priesthood.

13. So it makes little difference with the pretensions of Protestants, whether the Roman Church was or was not true. They equally fall to the ground, whatever may be true of that. But they have given it its character as idolatrous, and incurably corrupt.

14. In one of the authorized homilies of the Episcopal Church, it is alleged, “that laity and Clergy, learned and unlearned, men and women and children, of all ages, sects and degrees, of whole Christendom, have been at once buried in the most abominable idolatry, and that for the space of eight hundred years or more.” And John Wesley, a Deacon of the Episcopal Church, but the Father of the Methodists, says, “The real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were no longer to be found in the Christian Church, was because the Christians were turned Heathens again, and had only a dead form left.” (Sermon 94.)

15. Such being the character of the Roman Catholick Church, when some of the Bishops and Priests protested against her authority or her corruptions, and set up separate Churches, what Priesthood had they? The Heathen, the Idolatrous Priesthood to which they were ordained in Rome? They could scarcely derive a true Christian Priesthood through that eight hundred years of most abominable idolatry, which overwhelmed all Christendom.

16. In behalf of the Episcopacy of England, it is often claimed that they have a separate succession of Bishops and Clergy, derived from Saint Paul, and are not dependent on the Popes of Rome for their Priesthood. But after this declaration, that all Christendom, Clergy and laity, men, women and children, were idolaters for eight hundred years, it is of little consequence from whence they commence deriving their Priesthood. They bring it through that idolatry; for they make no pretence of a new dispensation, of the Priesthood, at the time of the Reformation.

17. Nor, if it is admitted that the first Bishops in England were ordained by Paul, can any show of evidence be produced of a succession of ordinations from them, through the period of Papal control in England. Many, and for ought we know, all the Bishops received their ordinations in Rome.

18. But at the time of the separation, most of the Bishops adhered to Rome, and were cast out, and new Bishops put in their places by the civil power, and of those who remained, it cannot be shown that a single one was ever ordained at all, by any one who had himself been ordained. Moreover, the doctrine long prevailed in England, that the Episcopal authority was rightly derived from the civil power, as it has in fact been derived ever since the separation; and the form of ordination was for a long time so defective, as not to amount to an ordination at all.

19. In fact, therefore, the Episcopal Church have not Bishops, who can show a succession derived from as far back as the end of this eight hundred years of idolatry, say nothing of going through it to the Apostle Paul. And, as the Priests are ordained by the Bishops, and not in succession by each other, they derive their power from the same source.

20. Thus tracing the history of Episcopal and Priestly succession in the Episcopal Church, back to the time of Henry VIII, King of England, and it is derived in fact, from laymen, set up by the State; and by their own highest pretentions, is only derived from an idolatrous fountain.

21. Lutherans only derive their Priesthood from Martin Luther, who was ordained a Priest of the Roman Catholick Church, and possibly from some of his associates who had no different authority. They were not ordained Priests in the Lutheran Church, but Priests in the Roman Catholic Church, which gave them power to preach and establish the doctrine and discipline of that Church; not to overthrow it. If the Roman Catholick Church was the Church of God, it cast them out as schismaticks and hereticks, and delivered them to anathema. If it was not the Church of God, it could not give them the Priesthood of God.

22. The Methodists have an anomalous form of Episcopacy, of a most singular description. John Wesley, a Deacon of the Episcopal Church in England, ordained a great number of men to preach, who were not Priests in any Church, for he did not allow them to administer sacraments. (Buck’s Th. Dic., Methodists, iv, New Connection) After these bad built up societies at home and in foreign countries, he ordained some kind of anomalous superiours for foreign countries, among them Thomas Coke for America.

23. Coke claimed, by virtue of this ordination, under the hands of Wesley, who was only a Deacon, that he was Bishop, and the Methodist Church so acknowledged him. (Discipline, ch. i, sec. 1.) And from this source alone is derived the Episcopacy of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

24. Wesley disclaims having ordained Bishops. If his disclaimer is true, Coke was a miserable impostor, and the act of the Conference acknowledging the validity of his Episcopal ordination, a swindle. If, on the other band, Wesley’s disclaimer was hypocritical, and he did really ordain Coke Bishop, he became just such a Bishop as any other Deacon of that Church can make over any other Church.

25. Perhaps no more singular feature is developed in this matter, than the fact that the founder of the Methodists lived and died an Episcopalian; and as an Episcopalian, but without any authority from that Church, conferred the Methodist Priesthood on all the first preachers of that faith.

26. The condition of the Baptists, is in this respect, no better; for though they sometimes deny being Protestants, and claim a separate derivation from theirs, approaching the Apostolick ages, there is not the slightest evidence on which to justify such claims. In different ages there have been transitory schisms, in the mountain regions of Europe, from the Roman Catholick Church. But these different schisms did not derive their Priesthood from each other in succession, but each in its time, commenced with schismatick Romanist Priests. And they were not Baptist Churches, but schismaticks, who separated from Rome, some on one question, and some on another; but all agreeing with her in the main.

27. The real derivation of the Baptists of America, is from Roger Williams, who had only an Episcopalian ordination, and a lay baptism. The attempt to patch up this bald beginning by sending to England a few members of the Providence Church, to be baptized and return and baptize others, only carries the difficulty back a few generations earlier, to the time when the English Baptists had a similar beginning.

28. So unfounded are all pretences of an Apostolick succession in Protestant Churches, that many learned Protestants have fairly acknowledged that they had no Divinely instituted Priesthood, and undertaken to justify building up Churches without it; satisfied either with a Priesthood instituted by themselves, or, with none at all.

29. Paul prophesied of them, when he said, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2d Tim. iv, 3, 4.)

30. Such a Priesthood could not possess the gifts which are received by prophecy, and the laying on of hands of the Priesthood. (Ist Tim. iv, 14. 2d Tim. i, 6.) They would hold office in defiance of the rule that “no man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. v, 4.) John, and Charles Wesley, seem to have had some idea that a religious society like the Methodists, with such a man made Priesthood, was something less than the Church of God; for they describe it as “no other than a company of men, having the form, and seeking the power of godliness.” (Bucks Th. Dic., Methodists, iii, Government and Discipline.)

31. That a Priesthood, so made is no Priesthood, all Churches do practically confess. For they will not allow the laity to ordain Clergymen; nor the inferiour Clergy to ordain the superiour; nor a Clergyman of another sect, to ordain a Clergyman for them.

32. Equally do they all practically confess that a Priesthood is necessary in the Church, for each in some way have contrived to elevate men to that calling, and to devolve upon them certain prerogatives, which the laity are not allowed to exercise. Certain sacraments and ordinances they practise as a part of their religion, which they do not allow to be valid, unless administered by a Priest. By these means they practically say, that the foundation on which they have built is not sound.

33. But with all the pains these Churches have taken to put on the form of godliness, though without the power, (2d Tim. iii, 5,) they have missed of the form also. God has set in the Church Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, (Ist Cor. xii, 28. Eph. iv, 11,) and declared these several Orders and Degrees necessary for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, and for the perfecting of the Saints; until they all come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto perfeet men, of the same measure and fulness as Christ. (id. 12, 13.)

34. Now, among all the Christian Churches, there is none which has this form; and as this is the only godly form, none has so much as the form of godliness in the matter of their Priesthood. Not one pretends to have in the Church, Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists.

35. Roman Catholicks have, first, the Pope, then Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, and Priests, and some inferiour orders, who merely assist the Priests in sacraments and ceremonies.

36. The Greek, and most of the Eastern Churches, have the same order, except that with some the Patriarch and with some the Bishop is the highest.

37. Episcopalians have the same order, beginning with Archbishops, and in the United States with Bishops; and with this the Episcopal Methodists substantially agree; their Bishops answering to the Archbishops, and the Presiding Elders to the Bishops of the Episcopacy; but with this difference, that among Methodists no one is settled as Pastor of any congregation, but with a joint pastorate, they are distributed around from time to time.

38. Among other Churches nothing is seen that makes any approach to the Priesthood of the Christian Church, in its various grades, offices and authorities. In numerous Churches, under pretence of Christian liberty, a republican system of Priesthood and government has been instituted, where all men hold their power, not by the voice of God, but by the suffrages of the laity.

39. Others, like Baptists and Congregationalists, with, perhaps, but one Order or Degree in the Priesthood, have a merely Democratick form of government; where he who should be a Teacher sent from God is made Pastor by the single act of the congregation over which he presides, and may be cast out of the Priesthood by them; as though the sheep could choose and judge the Shepherd, instead of being chosen and judged by him.

40. Apostles and Prophets looked for and prophesied of this falling away. Daniel, in his vision of the horn which had eyes and a mouth, (Dan. vii, 20,) shows that he shall wear out the Saints of the Most High, and think to change times and Laws, and they shall be given into his hand; but, that, afterward, the judgment shall sit, and take away his dominion. (id. 25, 26.) To the same import Paul wrote to the Church at Thessalonica, warning them of so great a falling away, that the Man of Sin should exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped. (2d Thess. ii, 3, 4.)

41. John the Revelator prophesied the loss of the Priesthood, and the apostacy of the Church, by some of those magnificently eloquent symbols so often used to inform the faithful, without imparting knowledge to unbelievers.

42. The Church is represented as a woman, clothed with the sun, the fountain of natural light; because the Church is clothed in the light of God’s revealed word; and having the moon under her feet, because not guided by reflected light, or mere human wisdom. In respect to the Apostolick missions, the chief means of establishing and extending her dominion, she is represented with a crown of twelve stars. (Rev. xii, 1.)

43. This woman is about to be delivered of a child, who shall rule the nations; a power which pertains to the highest order of Priesthood; and a great red dragon stands ready to devour this child as soon as it is born; but the child was caught up to heaven, and thus preserved; that is, in plain, unsymbolical language, that Priesthood which shall rule the nations with a rod of iron, or an iron sceptre, was removed from earth, and taken up to God. (Rev. xii, 2, 3, 5.)

44. The woman flees from the dragon into the wilderness, where, instead of being nourished from the presence of the Redeemer, with the waters of life, as she ought, being his wife, she is nourished from the face of the serpent, (Rev. xii, 14,) while the dragon went to make war with the rest of the children born of the woman; that is, the rest of the Priesthood, which God had raised up in the Church. (id. 17.)

45. In this persecution, the Saints were quite overcome, and all power over all kindreds, tongues and nations, passed into the hands of a ruler, represented as a terrible beast which had already received the power of the dragon, and all who have not already had their names written in the Book of Life, go after and worship this beast; so that under his reign, no more become Saints; no new Priests could be raised up to fill the places of the dying, and a single generation made an end of the true Priesthood. (Rev. xiii, 7.)

46. It is difficult to read these symbolical prophesies, without seeing that the Pagan Roman Empire was the dragon; that the Emperour Constantine was the serpent which nourished the woman, and, therefore, substantially the serpent and dragon were the same power; and, that the beast was Papal Rome, the same thing, with a changed form, and a new name; Papal having grown out of, and received its power from Pagan Rome.

47. It is curious, therefore, that the next which is seen of this woman, she is mounted on a scarlet coloured beast, (corresponding with the dragon in colour,) full of names of blasphemy; no longer clothed with the sun, or the light of God’s word, but with purple, and scarlet, and gold, and precious stones, and pearls, which Constantine and his successors bestowed on her, when he nourished her with the spoils of Heathen Temples, and the riches of his Empire. (Rev. xvii, 3, 4.)

48. She now, in this new character, carries a cup full of abominations, and filthiness of her fornication, and has the name written upon her forehead, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the Earth.” (Rev. xvii, 4, 5.) She is now called a whore, (id. 1,) because, having been (in the symbolical sense) the married wife of Christ, this woman (now destitute of all Priesthood or authority from God) has given herself to the embraces of Gentile Kings, and receives her support from the countenance of ungodly and usurping Emperours.

49. This being the Protestant view of this prophecy so far, how blind are they, not to see that, having sprung from her, they are the harlots, her daughters; being distinguished from her by the fact that as they were never married to Christ, their prostitution in an unlawful union with the Kings of the earth, makes them, not whores, but harlots. Most aptly do these symbols apply to those Churches which were separated from Rome as a matter of State policy, produced of whoredoms, and incestuously prostituted to the corruptions, vices and tyrannies of the States which produced them.

50. Thus the Priesthood disappeared from the earth, and was reserved by the power of God in heaven. against the day when he should reveal it anew on earth, and commit a new and final dispensation of the Kingdom unto man. And all the religious sects have, in one way and another, become the witnesses that they have no true Priesthood of God.

MAN OF GOD
By, Samuel E. West, Elder
(Stephen West Family Newsletters,
Oct., 1997, Issue 11, p. 7)

Thousands of “Christian” ministers claim to be men of God. These are professed teachers of truth. There can only be men of Christ and men of Anti-Christ. There is no middle ground. How are we to distinguish between them? In this generation Jesus will return, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (2 Thess. 1:8) The man of God must know God, must receive communication from God, and must preach the gospel of Christ. We are told there will be men who profess to be of God; but deny the power of God—revelations. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:16) “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Tim 3:5)

Knowledge of God comes from God and not from man. The man of God must preach knowledge of God from God, by revelation through the Holy Spirit. This is the first test a man of God must pass. Any man who denies revelation denies knowledge of God and is not a man of God. Any man who does not preach the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who walked with Adam, wrestled with Jacob, and spoke face to face with Moses is not a man of God. “And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Ex. 3:15) When the man of God prays in public he will call upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The man of God must teach the gospel of Christ. What is the gospel of Christ? It is the plan of salvation whereby man can receive forgiveness for his sins, be adopted into the kingdom of God, and receive redemption through the atonement of Christ. It is the gospel taught by Christ. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2:6) What was the first thing which Jesus did when he commenced his ministry? He went to John (the baptist), who was a priest of the Aaronic Priesthood, for baptism by water. “15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:” (Matt. 3) Only the man of God baptizes in water, by immersion, in the name of (authority from) the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Any man who either does not claim authority from God by revelation, or does not baptize, even as Jesus was baptized, is not a man of God.

Jesus commanded the Apostles to “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) Since the gospel was to be preached to everyone, it was to be preached to those who are young and to those slow to understand. The gospel, then, has to be simple. Any man that preaches a gospel that is either difficult to understand, or portrayed as a mystery is not of God. A better word for mystery is confusion. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Cor. 14:33) The gospel of Christ is simple, there are no mysteries, and it is not confusing.

The first test that a professed man of God must pass is whether he speaks of the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the power (revelation) from God through the Holy Spirit. He must know God and be inspired by the Holy Ghost. The second test is whether he preaches the gospel of Christ and the law of God. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa. 8:20) The law of God is a perfect set of rules whereby men can inherit eternal life through the atonement of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the good news of Jesus. It is the news that by following a simple formula man can be forgiven of their sins and be saved. Jesus said, “16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe….” (Mark 16)

The man of God, then, must preach the same gospel that was preached by Jesus, the Apostles, Abraham, and by every man of God since Adam. “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8) God is without change and the gospel, which is God’s plan of salvation, cannot change. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39) “8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 1)

A unique characteristic of the gospel of Christ is that it is received by “revelation of Jesus Christ” through the Holy Spirit. It is understood by revelation from God and not dependent on the knowledge of man. If there ever was a man of God, it was the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Yet, the apostles who heard the gospel from Jesus’ lips, tell us they did not receive it of man; but by revelation. The man of God has the Spirit of God. On the day of Pentecost the Apostles were endowed with power and the Holy Spirit. There was such a commotion that many Jews gathered to discover the cause. Peter explained this marvelous phenomena, “15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:” (Acts 2)

Those, whose hearts earnestly desired truth, on the day of Pentecost, received inspiration “by the revelation of Jesus Christ” through the Holy Spirit. They were given an assurance (faith) that the words Peter preached were true and that Jesus was the Christ, the Savior of all mankind. They received this gift of faith “by revelation” through the Holy Spirit which was with Peter. “1 Now faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) This faith is not a belief; but, a spiritual assurance of truth—a spiritual understanding. Gospel faith can only come through one that has authority from God and has the Holy Spirit. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17) The man of God: (1) must know God, he must have received this Holy Spirit “by the revelation of Christ” and must have faith from, and knowledge of, God, (2) must have obeyed the gospel, he must have been born of water (received gospel baptism) and have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and (3) must have received authority from God (be sent) to preach the gospel. The Apostle Peter met all of these requirements and explained the necessity of them.

“14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel…17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10) Anyone who claims to be a man of God and fails to speak according to this gospel of Christ is not a man of God.

Gospel faith can only be received through a man of God that has the Holy Spirit, “how shall they hear without a preacher?” Gospel faith does not come either by reading, or from man; but only “by revelation of Jesus Christ” through the Holy Spirit. You cannot give to someone else something you do not have yourself. The man of God must preach that faith is not a witness by man; but, comes by revelation from God. “31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. 32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. 33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.” (John 5)

A man of God will claim to have authority from God—to “be sent” by God. Only one that has been authorized by God can act in His name. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4) How was Aaron called? He was called by a revelation of God to Moses. “And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” (Ex. 28:41) Any man who denies revelation and ordination to the priesthood of God, cannot be a man of God. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” (John 9:1)

Any man that denies revelation, denies authority from God, and gospel faith. “15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 16) “2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Eph. 1)

These chosen of God are offered the gospel in the flesh. They are inspired by the Holy Spirit, are offered adoption into the kingdom of God, forgiveness of sins, and redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. By worshipping God and obeying the gospel they have an opportunity to live with Christ and all of His saints since Adam for the thousand years of peace, the Sabbath of Creation. How is this to be realized? On the day of Pentecost many Jews were “pricked in their hearts” and inquired of Peter what they should do. “37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2) When they heard the gospel preached by one holding authority from God and having the Holy Ghost, they received faith “by revelation of Jesus Christ” through the Holy Spirit. They received the first element of the gospel, faith.

Here, is the simple gospel of Christ. To be saved, to be adopted into the kingdom of God, it is necessary to have faith, repent, be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” (by one holding authority from God) for the remission of sins and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The man of God will preach the same gospel as the Apostle Peter. God will not give gospel faith to anyone except through that man of God who has authority from God to administer baptism and adopt him into the kingdom of God.

After faith comes repentance. Jesus said, ” I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3) After repentance comes baptism. “5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) This baptism must be administered by immersion and by one that holds authority from God. “19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28) To act “in the name of” any person is to act by his authority. Anyone who baptizes without this calling is taking the name of God in vain. A sin that carries grievous punishment.

This baptism is compared to a new birth whereby a person is forgiven of their past sins; according to the promise in Ephesians and repeated by Peter, a man of God, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Any man that does not preach this gospel is not a man of God.

After baptism by water comes baptism of the Spirit, “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Those that repent and are baptized are promised to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. This promise was not just to those in the days of Peter; but, to “all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

Anyone that preaches using the name of Christ and claims to be a man of God; but does not claim authority from God, is a fake. “22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:” (Matt. 7)

This rock spoken of by Jesus, is the rock of revelation that brings gospel faith, that calls men to be ordained and become men of God, and that instructs in all righteousness. Those who deny revelation, deny gospel faith, deny authority from God, and deny the gift of the Holy Ghost which leads man into truth. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)

If you have received faith, if you have repented and you have been baptized by one called of God by revelation, “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The man of God will preach “…the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” (Heb. 6:2) How do you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost? By the laying on of hands by those authorized by God. “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:17) “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6)

What are these gifts? “7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12) These gifts were promised to “all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” In other words the gospel, like God, is the same yesterday, today, and forever as long as time shall be.

The man of God will claim to have been called of God and he will teach the baptism of water and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Even John (the Baptist) who held only authority to baptize with water said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” (Matt. 3:11) The Bible tells us that anyone that does not conform to this rule is not a man of God; but, a worker of iniquity—an Anti-Christ.

There is one final test that a man of God must pass. He must speak by the Spirit of God. “But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.” (Mark 13:11) “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26) “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them….” (Acts 4:8) “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom 8:14)

Any man that asks for money to preach the word of God is not a man of God. “18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (Acts 8)

We are told in the Bible that there would be preachers that are not men of God; that would preach for hire. “2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Tim 4) “8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15) Isaiah warned they would they would teach false doctrine. “5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isa. 24) “The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.” (Micah 3:11) Therefore, in the last days, “…the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.” (Jer. 16:19)

The man of God must be called of God by revelation “as was Aaron.” He must have been sent (ordained) by one holding the priesthood of God. He must know God and have obeyed the gospel. He must preach faith in the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He must preach repentance and adherance to all of the laws of God. He must teach baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Any man who does not teach according “to the law and to the testimony” of God and who does not teach the gospel of Christ is not a man of God. If he denies revelation and gifts of the Holy Ghost, he is not a man of God. If he does not teach the prophecies of the latter days: the gathering of the House of Israel, the destruction of the wicked, the second coming of Christ, the restitution of all things, and the Sabbath of Creation, he is not a man of God. Here is the absolute test of a man of God. You could simply use these requirements as a checklist to identify the man of God.

There is a final test. A spiritual test. To understand this test, we must consider how man learns the principles of spiritual truth. You could read the Bible a thousand times and attend a thousand different churches and never know either God, or the gospel. Spiritual knowledge comes from those who have been called by God, men of God, and is given to “as many as the Lord our God shall call.” “9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2)

We cannot learn the things of God from man. Only a man of God that has been called of God, received the Holy Ghost, and has been ordained by one holding the priesthood is capable of offering spiritual truths. Spiritual truths are learned spiritually from the Holy Spirit. Gospel faith is received only through revelation by the Holy Spirit after hearing the gospel from a man of God. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6)

When you learn by the Holy Spirit, you receive spiritual knowledge which brings joy to the heart and it seems as if you always knew those things. You did. We lived together for billions of years as spirits before this carnal existence. Only those chosen (elected) by God (on the basis of our spiritual existence) are given the opportunity to hear the gospel in the flesh. We were very special to each other before this world. If we believe in the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, obey the gospel, and endure to the end in the commandments of God, we will have the opportunity to live together during the Millennium and for eternity. Our love will truly become eternal.

Our minds and hearts must be prepared before we can understand truth. Before our mind and our eyes and ears can be spiritually opened, we must earnestly desire to understand truth, we must become like little children, and we must turn our minds toward the law and testimony of God. Before our heart can be opened, we must analyze our life, appreciate our shortcomings, confess our sins, and ask forgiveness. Our minds must be opened and our hearts made spiritually pure before we can be receptive to spiritual truth. Anyone who lives in sin and justifies his condition by thinking he will have peace, will not have a pure heart and is being chained to Satan.

With your heart and mind spiritually prepared, the next step is to make that spiritual connection—through prayer. We must ask our eternal heavenly Father in the name of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, for guidance and understanding. It is quite simple. A simple one, two, three. We must (1) earnestly seek truth, (2) open our hearts and our minds, and (3) pray for guidance by the Holy Ghost. I repeat this process every time before I attempt to understand truth either by reading, or by listening to a man of God. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom 8:9)

Everyone that earnestly seeks truth has the right to inquire of God. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5) Remember, James was addressing the saints of God, those chosen by God. It would be useless to ask God for something you could not have. The times of the Gentiles has come to an end; so there will be few Gentiles to hear the word of God before the House of Israel is gathered and Zion is established the second time. The two pre-requisites to “ask of God” is to (1) have unwavering faith and to (2) ask only for those things which are spiritually edifying. It would not be edifying to ask God which team was going to win the Superbowl. The things of man are not the things of God.

During times of intense prayer, men are occassionaly taken up in the Spirit. Prophets of God were often taken up in the Spirit and were shown things from the creation even to the end of time. “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,” (Ezek. 37:1) “And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.” (Acts 18:5) “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,” (Rev. 1:10)

Anyone that has received the gift of the Holy Ghost may be “in the Spirit,” if it is the will of God. Joseph Smith spoke many times of being “in the Spirit.” Church journals are full of accounts of saints being “in the Spirit.” This is the most wonderful of events. It is as if the heavens, time, and space are opened to you. Many have spoken in tongues and prophecied during this experience. Once you have enjoyed it, you will treasure it above all things and will never want to lose it. It is more valuable than all the treasures of man—more valuable than life itself. Thousands have been put to death because they would not deny Christ.

Angels have ministered to man since Adam. Many of the saints throughout history have experienced dreams and visions for spiritual edification. During some meetings the elders used to discuss what was termed experimental religion: angelic administration, visions, dreams, miracles, and prophesying. These gifts follow those who know God and obey his gospel. Wo is man when they cease! When man loses direct communication with God, he is no better than beasts. “9 Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. 10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.” (Isa. 29) “11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8)

Many who have preached under the direction of the Holy Ghost—and those who have heard their sermons—have spoken of the spiritual influence they experienced. Many of the Church journals address the manifestations of the Spirit during sermons delivered by those men of God. Before a man of God teaches the things of God, he prepares by having a prayer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He prays that those earnestly seeking truth may have their minds opened, their hearts purified, and their understanding opened to the truth of God through the Holy Ghost. Prayer opens the channel to understanding spiritual truths. When you want someone to answer you, do you not first call them by name?

Millions attend so called “Christian” sermons and speak of what a nice sermon the pastor gave. They are nice because these ministers have been taught to teach what the people want to hear and not to step on anyone’s toes. I have a cousin who quit the orthodox ministry because he had to teach only what the people wanted to hear. The man of God teaches by the Holy Ghost. “1 Hearken, O ye people of my church; for verily I say unto you that these things were spoken unto you for your profit and learning. 2 But notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit.” (D&C 46) ” 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.” (Matt. 10)

Men of God are not accepted by the world. “11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matt. 5) “19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” (John 15) “12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3)

When men look back over preceding generations, they tend to think of those men as being of perfect character. Men of God are not super men. Men of God, are men. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) David and Solomon fell into the sin of polygamy and concubinage and other oppressive enormities. Only two out of 43 kings in Israel and Judah ruled in righteousness. Isaiah said he was a “man of unclean lips.” Peter cursed and swore and denyed Christ three times through cowardice. The Corinthian church fell into fornications and sin that was not so much as even named among the gentiles. Six out of seven churches is Asia became so abominably corrupt in their character that God told them that if they “did not repent, he would spew them out of his mouth.” All men are subject to sin and all are liable to fall into transgression as other men. It should be remembered that faults in private character never invalidates either priesthood, or true principles as taught through them by the Holy Spirit.

“This conduct in David and the other prophets was very erroneous. We disapprove of it greatly. Nevertheless such men have been occasionally in our church in all ages. Our God has recognized them from time to time. We did not do it, and cannot help it. When God speaks men must obey, knowing that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. We know that Mr. Himes is not like us in this respect. He does not believe in any prophet, priest or king who ever committed any such sin. And he does not believe in a God who ever spoke to such an one, or recognized him in any authority.” (Gospel Herald, Vol. 3, p. 263/575)

The man of God, although he may not always measure up to our personal opinions of what his character should be, is a representative of God, a carrier of the Holy Spirit, and is deserving of our honor. Without the man of God there can be no gospel faith, no baptism, no adoption into the kingdom of God, no instruction in righteousness, and no hope; because without authority from God there is no redemption and no salvation. This salvation he is willing to offer to any who are earnestly seeking truth—without charging a penny! His real treasure is the love shared between him and all those who obey the gospel of Christ. His treasure is the eternal love that was shared among the “chosen of God” before the foundation of the world and shared again through the gospel for all eternity through the love of our eternal heavenly Father and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. When we leave this body in dust the only thing we can take with us is spiritual knowledge and the love which we have for each other. I have a dream. My dream and my hope is that all us who were dear to each other before this world will love each other just as much during this life, will obey the gospel, and will inherit eternity together.