Gospel Of Christ
The gospel is God’s plan of salvation or gate into eternal life. The Bible identifies three glories men will inherit in eternity. “40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Cor. 15) The gospel is the good news that salvation is available to all. “10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” (1 Tim. 4) “16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16) There is a grand difference, then, after death of the mortal body for those that believe compared to those who do not believe. Believers obey all of the principles of the gospel. “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” ( Rom. 1) The gospel, though, was not given in word alone. “5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” (1 Thess. 1)
The word of the gospel includes those principles which must be followed to enter the gate into the kingdom of God . “33 Seek ye first the kingdom of God , and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6) “13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7) The word of the gospel includes faith, repentance, baptism of water and the Spirit, and embracing the Eucharist.
The power of the gospel is the power of the priesthood called of God. Jesus went to John the Baptist for baptism of water because John was a Priest of the Levitical Priesthood and held divine authority to baptize with water; but, not of the Spirit. This authority or power is held only by the higher Melchisedec Priesthood. Jesus did not start preaching the gospel until ordained to the Melchisedec Priesthood. “11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” (Matt. 4) Jesus was ordained under the hands of the Father as an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver like Moses. “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. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5) “22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.” (Acts 3) “18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4) Jesus then called and ordained all of the other officers of the Melchisedec Priesthood; as none can enter the kingdom of God and become counted among the believers without the divine authority which they hold. “11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [high priests]; and some, pastors [elders] and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Eph. 4) “19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16)
There is only one True God, one gospel faith, and one gospel of Christ. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:5) There is only one plane of salvation; whereby man can inherit eternal life (Celestial Glory). Baptism is an important key in the gospel of Christ. “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) Baptism performed by any other than one called of God and ordained to the priesthood, according to His law, is vain. A thousand such baptism would not bring a person an inch closer to eternal life.
The gospel, like God, is without change. It was the same in the days of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Christ, and today. “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.” (Gal. 1)
The Times and Seasons was the official Mormon publication from November, 1839, until Joseph Smith’s murder on June 27, 1844. The following articles were taken from those journals. As baptism by immersion is the only method of baptism ever recognized by Christ and His Apostles, the second addresses the administration of that ordinance. The third is addressed to the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. All of the saints of God have enjoyed these blessings. Jesus taught that they would follow all believers. What happened to them in sectarian churches. Were they restored by Joseph Smith and James J. Strang?
Gospel of Christ
Times and Seasons,
Nov. 1840, Vol. 2, p. 196
Whatever difference may exist in the world about the scheme of eternal life, and the duties enjoined upon the human family to prepare them for its enjoyment, all, we believe, who acknowledge the truth of the bible, agree in this, that the ancient apostles, commissioned by the Savior, were fully authorized to proclaim the gospel, and to make known the will of God to man; and that the things which were taught by them were correct; and the gospel which they preached was God’s only scheme of life; and that adding to it, or taking from it, deprived mankind of the benefits resulting therefrom, and tended to disarm the plan of eternal life of its powers.
We believe that it is universally admitted by all believers in revelation, that no persons could receive into their hearts, the things taught by these men, and practice the duties they required, without obtaining the promises made by them; for if this were not the case, it would be worse than folly to hold them up to view as messengers sent of God to bless the nations.
The point of light in which these apostles are held up to view in the scriptures is, that the gospel which they preached was the only gospel, acknowledged of God, and the proclamation which they proclaimed, the only one that men were authorized to receive, and the promises which they made, were to be as certainly enjoyed, as ever men put themselves in a situation to receive them, by obeying the instructions which they gave them. For though religion in some form was prevailing in every part of the civilized world in the days of the Savior and his apostles, still they presented themselves to the world as the only persons who were capable of enlightening the minds of men, and of bringing them into an acquaintance with the true faith, and of introducing them into the family of the Most High, having (as they said) authority from God to do this work, and that a dispensation of the gospel was committed to them for this purpose.
The professed object of their apostolic mission was, that men might be saved: this their commission clearly sets forth. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned.” — From this it is plain, that whatever might have been the amount of religion in their day, there was not a sufficiency of righteousness on earth to save one man, only as it was restored to the world through the Savior and his apostles, nor was it possible for one single creature in all the world to be saved unless they put themselves under their guidance; for they were to go into all the world, and preached the gospel to every creature; so that every creature in all the world, had to be taught by them, and receive the gospel which they preached, or else they must be damned; for they who believed not should be damned. This was certainly placing their commission in an important point of light: and their own teachings were in perfect consistency with their commission.
Paul says, when writing to the Galatians, first chapter, 8 and 9 verses. — “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. 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.” In all their teachings they held themselves up to view as the only teachers of righteousness which were approved of God in the world, and that their mission was not necessary only for the salvation of a part of the world, but all of it; yea every creature in it. It mattered not what progress the world, but all of it; yea every creature in it. It mattered not what progress the world had made in the knowledge of other things: in the knowledge of the science of salvation, they had retrograded, until there were none doing good, no not one. And unless God had sent the apostles, or others authorized as they were, the world must have perished: every creature in it must have been damned: for they were to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, he, (that is, every creature) that believed and was baptized, should be saved; but he, (that is, every creature) that believed, not should be damned. Had there been one creature in all the world who was in a state of salvation, or could have attained that state without the apostles, this commission would not have been one correct, that is, that every creature in all the world who did not believe them and be baptized by their direction should be damned.
Nothing can make the apostles commission true, but the fact, that no creature in all the world could be saved without their being brought into favor with God through their ministry.
The Savior, through the whole course of his ministry in the flesh, made it one of the principal items of teachings to make it clearly manifest to the religious Jews, that they had departed from the principles delivered unto them through the messengers whom God had inspired to make known his will to men. He did not reprove the Jews for adhering to the law, but because the had corrupted it, and made it void by their traditions. For neither the law nor the prophets, made hypocrites, blind guides, a generation of vipers: but a corruption of one, and a perversion of the other did–they made both. Neither was the law nor the prophets against the promises of God, nor yet a hindrance to any person coming into the kingdom of God; but a perversion and a corruption of them were against the promises of God, and a barrier to men entering into the kingdom of heaven.
The Jews were not to blame for adhering to both the law and the prophets, but for corrupting one and perverting the other, through which corruption and perversion, they ceased to believe either Moses or the prophets; for had they believed them they would have believed the Savior also; for they wrote of him. Had the leaders of the Jews never corrupted the law nor perverted the prophets, they would never have been overthrown: for they would have received their Messiah when he came, and have escaped “the wrath to come.” But in consequence of their having corrupted the law, and perverted the prophets, they would neither enter the kingdom of God themselves nor let those who were entering go in; for which the Savior upbraids them. Not that they worshipped God according to the law, but according to their own traditions, by which they had made void the law, and rendered it of none effect: teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Mark 7th chap. from the 5th to the 15th verse. Matthew, 15th chap. from the 2nd to the 10th verse.
Every person in every degree acquainted with Jewish history, as written in the scriptures, knows that God, previous to the days of the Savior’s coming in the flesh, was withdrawing from that people, and that he continued to do so until they were abandoned to destruction.
But God never withdraws from a people for adhering to the order of things he established among them; for while they all adhere to him he cleaves to them. Had the Jews, in truth and verity, continued to observe the law as God delivered it unto them, and to have believed the prophets who were sent unto them, God would have continued with them, and they would have known their Messiah when he came, and have entered into his kingdom and have found rest, and continued the people of God, even the favorites of heaven, until this day. But instead of their doing so, they changed their temple from being a house of prayer, to be a house of merchandise, and a den of thieves. Matthew, 21st chap. 12th and 13th verses. Mark 11th chap. 15th, 16th and 17th verses. Luke, 19th chap. 45th and 46th verses. They made void the law by their traditions; and stoned the prophets that were sent unto them. Matthew 23d chap. 37th verse. Whatever was saving in their institutions they rejected, and defiled, until destruction came on them to the very uttermost. This was their situation when the Savior came among them, and such their condition when he commissioned the apostles to go and preach the gospel to them; and not to them only, but to every creature in all the word also.
The apostle Paul in the epistle to the Romans, gives us a minute description of both the Gentiles and the Jews in his day; in the 1st chap commencing with the 20 verse, he thus describes the state of the Gentiles, “Because when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became, vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lust of their own hearts to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” The apostle continues his description of the Gentiles to the close of the chapter, which the reader may examine at his leisure, and he will see that the picture is one of no very pleasing character.
From the description here given of the Gentiles, we learn this fact, that the Gentiles had previously known God; for then they knew God, says the apostle, they worshipped him not as God, &c. This is evidence positive, that the Gentiles had turned away from the knowledge of God, and were apostates from the truth.
In the 3d chap. of this same epistle, he gives a description of the Jews also, commencing with the 9th verse to the close of the 18th, we have the following description. “What then? are we batter than they? Nor in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin, as it is written. There is none righteous, no not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known. — There is no fear of God before their eyes.” In the 19th verse he says, “Now we know, that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” In so saying the apostle gives his readers to understand that the preceeding quotations, taken from the Psalms, were applicable to the Jews and to the Jews only; for they were the persons to whom the law was given, and they, and they only were under the law, “Now what things sover the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law.” So the apostles make a direct application of what he here said to the Jews, as they were the people, and the only people, who were under the law.
Such is the light in which God viewed the world, both Jew and Gentile, when he sent the apostles among them to bring them back to the principles of righteousness, from whence they had strayed; for God considered them all, not only under sin, but in a state of apostasy also.
Let the world have made what advances it might in literature, science or philosophy, in relation to eternal life–their case was deplorable; for instead of their being in a situation to be saved, they were in a situation to be destroyed: instead of being redeemed, they were in a situation to be condemned: for so far had the whole world, both Jew and Gentile, apostatized from the living God, that there was not a sufficiency of righteousness to save one creature in all the world.
Whatever improvement, therefore, the Jews or the Gentiles might have made in worldly matters, they were in a situation in which they could make no advances towards eternal life, only by receiving the apostles, and submitting themselves to their guidance and direction. However humiliating this might have been to them. But so it was, that to the fishermen of Galilee they must come, and to them they must submit, or else they must be damned.
So closely does the God of heaven adhere to his plan of saving men, that nothing will be admitted as a substitute for his ordinances and institutions, no services but those of his own appointment will tend in the least degree to save men. The Jews might lay heavy burdens on each other’s shoulders, subject themselves to many privations, make many prayers, and pay tithes of all they possessed, but when done, it would leave them short of eternal life! — to the fishermen of Galilee they must go, or be saved they could not. The Gentiles might lacerate their bodies, offer their children in sacrifice, or subject themselves to the severest scourgings, buffetings, or burnings; they might form books of morals, codes of laws, systems of government,or modes of worship, but all in vain, it would not give them eternal life, nor could they by any means obtain the salvation of God, only through and by the fisherman of Galilee: for their commission was to every creature in all the world, and he who did not believe them, should be damned; for there was no other gospel; no other scheme of things, nor no other form of worship, that had eternal life as their reward, but the gospel proclaimed by the apostles, and the forms of worship taught by them.
These apostles, however, did not pretend that God never had, at any former period of the world, any messengers who had been authorized to bring men into a state of salvation, to proclaim the gospel to the world; but on the contrary, Paul says in 3d chapter of the epistle to the Galatians, and 9th verse, that the gospel had been preached unto Abraham. He says thus: — “And the scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, I thee, shall all nations be blessed.” Observe that he says that the gospel was preached unto Abraham. But in the 1st chap. of the epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle shows that the gospel was a much earlier date than the days of Abraham: that it was before time, being devised in eternity, before the foundation of the world. — See the 3d, 4th, 5th, and 6th verses. — “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”
In the 11th verse he says: “in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the council of his own will.”
We learn the following things from the above saying of the apostle. That the scheme of things by which he and the saints of Ephesus were saved was devised in eternity before the foundation of the world. “According as he hath chosen us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world.”
2nd. That they were to be the children of God, through adoption by Jesus Christ. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.”
3d. And all this according to his own purpose or scheme of things, (for what is a man’s purpose but his scheme of things,) by which he works all things after the council of his own will? — That is the same as to say, that the plan of life and salvation which is called in the scriptures the gospel, was heaven’s own scheme or purpose, and that scheme was before the world was; and that before God created man he purposed in himself that mankind should become his sons through adoption, by Jesus Christ, and in no other way.
If the apostle, in the foregoing sayings, teaches any thing, it is, that the gospel, or scheme of life and salvation which is the same, was from before the beginning, and that from the creation of the world, God had but the one way of saving men; and that all who were saved, were to be saved in the same way; and this God had decreed, purposed, and predestinated, and by this eternal scheme of things were accomplished according to the will of God, and this decree, will, and purpose, was before the foundation of the world.
Now let the truth of what the apostle here says be admitted and the result is, that that same scheme of things by which the Ephesians were saved, was the same by which all others who are to be redeemed, were saved. And if the same scheme of things, then the same ordinances were obeyed by all: for if Paul administered ordinances, that were not administered to all who are to be redeemed, then they were not saved by the same plan of salvation; for where there is a difference it matters not how small the difference is, the things thus differing are not the same, and it follows of necessity that if Paul baptized for the remission of sins, all others who are saved must have been baptized also for the same purpose, or else, they were not all saved by the same gospel of plan of salvation: and if the plan of salvation taught by Paul required men to be born of the water, and the spirit in order that they might enter into the kingdom of heaven, so the same must have been required of all since the foundation of the world, or the plan of salvation has not been the same, and if so, Paul’s testimony is not true.
The Gospel, No. 2
Times and Seasons, p. 213
I conclude that there are no people on earth who believe in the plan of salvation, or gospel, as set forth in the scriptures, but who believe also, that all who will ever be saved, will be saved by virtue of the sacrifice of Jesus–for this is what was taught by prophets and apostles, as far, at least, as we have knowledge of their teachings: they all testified of Jesus, and had knowledge of his coming into the world, in order that he might save it. Abraham saw his day and when he saw it was glad. John’s gospel 8 chap. 56 verse. The Savior says to the Jews “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.” John’s gospel 5 chap. 46 verse. And the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says of Moses “that he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” 11 chap. from the 22 to the 27 verse. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents; because they saw that he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. By faith Moses when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God; than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season: ; for he had respect unto the recompense of reward.”
It cannot be a matter of dispute, that these were made acquainted with the mission of Christ into the world, and if so they were acquainted with the gospel or plan of eternal life which Paul says, was, before the foundation of the world. But in order that we may have a clear view of this matter let us enquire, what it was that was proclaimed to the world, which is called the gospel; for be that what it may it is God’s plan of saving men: for Paul says that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe. See Roman 1 chapter 16 verse “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth: to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” So, let the proclamation be what it may that was made to the world, by divine authority, that the inspired men called the gospel, that proclamation was the only thing which could save any person of the human family, and that was the thing which existed before the foundation of the world, the purpose, of scheme of things, which was devised in eternity, through which purpose of his own will God designed to save them that believe.
This proclamation, is set forth so clearly in the scriptures, that none need mistake it, not only in the commission given to the twelve after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead: but in different of the epistles, so that the enquirer after truth on this point, need not be mistaken. It is so manifest, that it would require a good deal of ingenuity to render it so obscure that a person could not see it at the first reading: a person must be greatly blinded by tradition, who cannot see it if he reads his bible once through with any degree of attention.
When the Savior gave commission to the apostles after his resurrection from the dead, he said unto them, as recorded by Matthew, 28 chapter, 19 and 20 verses: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Mark gives the following account of the commission given to the apostles, 16:15,16,17,18. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. — He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but 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.
Luke records thus, 24:45,46,47. — “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
In the second chapter of the Acts of the apostles, we have account of their first acting on their commission; and of their making proclamation at Jerusalem: as, according to the Savior’s command they were to begin at Jerusalem, so they did, and the account of that memorable day is recorded by Luke, in the second chapter of the Acts of the apostles, 37th, and 38th verses. After Peter, who was the speaker on that occasion, had convinced many of the Jews that they had crucified the Lord of glory, the people cried out, and said to him, and the rest of the apostles, “men and brethren what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: for the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off; even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Let us put this account together, and we will have something exceedingly plain. Matthew says that they were to go and teach all nations, baptizing them, with the promise that the Lord should be with them until the end of the world. Mark tells what the teaching, mentioned in Matthew consisted in; that is, preaching the gospel, which he says they were to do to every creature in all the world, and to baptize them that believe, with a promise that the persons thus baptized should be saved: and also that signs should follow them that believe. Matthew says that they should go and teach all nations. Mark says that they should preach the gospel to every creature in all the world. So that there is no difference as to the extent of the commission given to the apostles. — Matthew says that the Lord should be with them even to the end of the world, and Mark says that signs should follow them that believe. This doubtless was what Matthew meant by the Lord being with them till the end of the world; that is, by confirming the work with signs following. They both say that the people were to be baptized; but neither of them tell us what they were to be baptized for; only Mark says that the baptized should be saved. Luke throws some light on this subject: that is that repentance and remission of sins should be preached among all nations. This compared with what Peter said on the day of Pentecost, makes this part of the commission very plain. He tells them to repent and be baptized every one of them in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins, and they should receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Matthew says that the Savior promised to be with this disciples always, even unto the end of the world. Mark says that signs were to follow them that believe, These two accounts, when put together, amount to this: The Lord promised to be with them, in confirming the word to the believers by signs. Let us now put the whole account together, and see precisely what it was, that these men proclaimed to the world.
First they were to go into all the world, and teach the gospel to every creature, in the world.
Second, those who believed their proclamation, and repented of their sins, they were to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Spirit, for the remission of their sins, with this promise, that they should receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and prophesy, see visions, and dream dreams, and that in addition to these, signs should follow them–in the name of Jesus they should cast out devils, they should speak with new tongues, they should take up serpents, and if they were to drink any deadly thing, it should not hurt them: they should lay hands upon the sick and they should recover: and to finish the whole of the promises made to them, the Lord was to be with them, and they should be saved. Seven things compromise the whole of the items of command and promise which they were to deliver to the world: First, faith–Second, repentance–Third, baptism–Fourth, remission–Fifth, the gift of the Holy Spirit–Sixth, power–Seventh, salvation and eternal life.
Let the reader compare Matthew 28:19,10, with Mark, 16:15,16,17,18. — Luke 24:45,46,47,48, with the second chapter of the Acts of the apostles and he will be enabled to see and understand the apostolic commission without either priest or commentator.
Let it be particularly understood, that when the apostles spake of the gospel, that it was this scheme of things to which they alluded; for this was what they proclaimed, and this was what all the ancient saints believed, and received, and by which they were distinguished from all other people. — When Paul says that if we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than that which we have preached, let him be accursed; or if any man preach any other gospel than that which you have received let him be accursed, it is to the above mentioned proclamation, he alludes; for this is what he preached, and this is what the Galatians had received–not a part of it, but the whole of it–not one, or two or three, or four, or five, or even six items, and the other one left; but all seven, or else they would not receive the gospel Paul preached, and which the Galatians received, but another, which would not be another, but a perversion of the gospel of Christ.
The Gospel, No. 3
Times and Seasons, p. 226
There never ought to be a dispute in the world about what the gospel is among those who profess a belief in the bible; for if it is not told in the scriptures plainly, and without leaving it a matter of contention, the bible is not a safe guide, neither could any thinking man trust his salvation on its teachings, unless they were easily understood: for if the gospel is designed for the salvation of all men, it certainly ought to be very plain; for there are a great many in the world who cannot understand any thing, unless it is very plain and easy of understanding. There is no subject ever addressed to the understanding of man, that needs to be so plain and easy of comprehension as the gospel, if we may credit the persons who have promulged it. They profess to have had a commission to proclaim it to every creature in all the world. — In taking so wide a range, there would be many persons of very weak capacities, who are not able to understand but very little, and that little must be exceedingly plain, or else they would not be able to understand it. There is no person who will suffer his mind to reflect on the nature and design of the gospel, but will be led to see that it must be the plainest of all messages; for it was to effect every creature in all the world; and if so, it must be suited to their capacities to make it a scheme of mercy and benevolence; for if they could not understand it, it would be worse than folly to present it to them. This is one reason why so few, either believe or embrace it. It is too simple and foolish, according to their estimation, to be of any consequence to them. It was so considered in the days of the apostles who immediately followed the Savior; and to such an extent did this feeling prevail, that an apostle said, if a man would be wise he must become a fool: that is, to be wise, he must believe and practice those things which the world considered the most perfect foolishness, and too simple and degrading, to be believed, by any national being. And yet, notwithstanding its foolishness of God, is wiser than men, and this weakness of God is stronger than men: “For when, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe.” 1st Corinthians 1st chap. Or, by the foolishness of the gospel which he proclaimed, to save those that the world with all its wisdom, could not save: for after all the wise men of the world had said, or could say and all the wisdom had or could get, with it all, they could not know God. but the apostle, with the foolishness of his preaching, could make men acquainted with God. From what is said on this subject in the new testament, we can see that such was the contempt in which the gospel was held in that age of the world, that a man of talents of understanding to profess to believe it and receive it, was to expose himself to the certain contempt of the wise ones, so call–to expose himself to their bitterest feelings and severest contempt; even to so great an extent did those feelings prevail, until they that killed them thought they were doing God service; John 16. 16, doubtless thinking that they were knaves and rascals, and not fit to live. Such were the feelings which existed in the minds of the people, in the days of Paul, Peter John and James, in relation to the gospel which they preached, and such are the feelings which prevail now, both concerning the gospel and those who receive it.
Since the coming forth of the everlasting gospel, contained in the book of Mormon, the very same feeling prevail among the would be wise ones. It is called a “simple and a foolish mess!” too simple to be believed or received by any person of sense: And every man of that description in the estimation of the world, must be a knave, say they; for surely they know better: for any person of a spark of sense, must know that it is an imposition. But notwithstanding all this tumult of the words and great exertions, the persons who embrace it in sincerity and truth, learn, as the saints of former years, that it has power to save; and that the foolishness of God is wiser that man, and the weakness of God stronger than men: God saves them that believe: And as this last proclamation has the same effect on the enemies of God in these days, as the former proclamation had in the former days, so this last proclamation has the same effect on those who receive it, as the former had on those who received it, and the same fruit follows. They receive the same spirit, and that spirit brings forth the same fruit, at one age, that it did at another; and the same gospel will always secure the same blessings to those who receive it.
Upon this subject there appears to be something very strange to me, in the world; it is this: all men who believe, or who profess to believe, in the gospel, say that as far as the gospel proposes eternal blessings, they will be enjoyed by all who receive it, but as to the blessings proposed to be enjoyed by the saints in the flesh, these are limited to a few individuals, or a few individual churches. The fruits of the spirit which were brought forth in former days, notwithstanding they were the effects of receiving the gospel, were limited to a small period of the world; for though men receive the same gospel now, yet these fruits have ceased; but still the eternal blessings are the same: they will all get to the same heaven, and rejoice in the same glory. It matters not how much they will be all alike there.
The great query with me is this, how can the gospel still have power to save in the kingdom of glory, since it has lost its power on earth? Those who were saved by it in former days, and made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, were made partakers of its power on earth; and we have no account of its saving any in the heavenly kingdom, only those who were made partakers of its power on earth. But according to the opinions of the world, it has lost its power on earth, but still retains power sufficient to save men in the everlasting kingdom–this may be, but I must confess I have serious doubts about it, and should not be surprised if it should be found, that those who never receive its power on earth should likewise fail of its glory in eternity.
The Gospel, No. 4
Times and Seasons, p. 243
There is one thing necessary to know in order to have a correct knowledge of the gospel: it is, that it was, is, and ever will be the same; that it is as immutable as God himself, or Jesus the Savior, and that the gospel is the scheme of life and salvation; and there was not nor will not be any other, it is that scheme of things by which all that are saved, will be saved, and all who are now saved were saved by it. The apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Ephesians, 1 chapter from the 3rd to the 11 verse, gives us the following account of the scheme of life and salvation, which he promulged in his day to the generation among whom he lived, and to whom the Lord sent him.– “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.– In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he has purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”
In the foregoing quotation the apostle gives us an outline of the order of things, which he proclaimed to the people of his day, which he said he had not received of man, nor by man; but by revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11,12 “But I certify you brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man: for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The account then which the apostle gives of the proclamation which he proclaimed to the world is, that the same thing which he received by immediate revelation from Jesus Christ, was a scheme of things which had originated in eternity, before the world was “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world”–Ephesians 1:3,4. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, to himself. 5 verse. That is, before the foundation of the world. No language need be plainer than this, that is, that God before he framed the world, had laid the scheme of life and salvation, and before he formed Adam’s dust into man, he had predestinated that the human family should be made children to himself, through Jesus Christ, and all this was fixed before the foundation of the world; and this is what Paul had revealed unto him to proclaim to the uncircumcision, as well as Peter to the circumcision. But it was in Jesus Christ that men were to be made children to God, or that God made children to himself out of the apostate race of man. “He hath chosen us in him, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins wherein he hath abounded toward us, or in him he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence.” In all these instances it is in him, not out of him, that men are to receive blessings, and to become sons of God.
This is in perfect accordance with what this same apostle says in the epistle to the Galatians, when speaking of Abraham, and the gospel proclaimed to him, 3 chapter and 8 verse: “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.” The promise to which the apostle alludes is found in the book of Genesis 12:1,2,3. “Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I shall shew thee of: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. In the 22 chapter 15,16,17 and 18 verses: the promise reads thus: “And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, by myself I have sworn saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore, and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast done this thing.”
In the former of these quotations it is said, that in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. And in the latter that in thy seed shall all nations be blessed.
In the 28 chapter we have an account of the same promise being confirmed unto Jacob; for according to the declarations of the Psalmist David this promise was made unto Abraham, and by oath unto Isaac, and confirmed unto Jacob. See 105 Psalm, 8,9 and 10 verses: “He hath remembered his covenant forever, the word which he commanded unto a thousand generations. [or the generations of the thousand years.] Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac and confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant. The account of this confirmation we have in the 28 of Genesis, and the 10,11,12,13 and 14 verses.– “And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillow, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And behold the Lord stood above it, and said I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed.– And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Here it is said to Jacob that in him and in his seed all families of the earth should be blessed, and putting both the former quotations together and it would read the same way to Abraham; for one says in thee, and the other says in thy seed, so that the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was, that in them, an in their seed, should all the families: or nations of the earth be blessed, and this is what is called the gospel, which Paul says was preached before to Abraham: Galatians 3:8. It is necessary that the reader should notice particularly that it is in Abraham, and in his seed that all the families of the earth should be blessed, and not out of them; for here lays the mistake with many; they do not notice that little preposition in, and they fancy to themselves that they will be blessed, whether they are in Abraham and his seed, or out of them; not thinking that there is a difference between in and out.
Concerning this promise made to Abraham the New Testament writers have said many things. In the 3 chapter of the epistle to the Galatians, the apostle Paul settles the question, who the seed was, concerning whom it was said, that in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. He says thus, in the 16 verse: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” According to this explanation, the promise to Abraham and his seed stands thus. That in thee, and in Christ thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed. We can see by this that it was not enough that a person should be a regular descendant from Abraham to entitle them to the blessings of heaven, but they must be in his seed also, which is Christ, so that to obtain eternal life, a person must be both in Abraham and in Christ.
What is here said about Abraham and his seed, so directly corresponds with what the apostle has said in the epistle to the Ephesians, as before quoted, concerning the scheme of things which he proclaimed to the world, or the plan of life and salvation, which is called the gospel, that even a careless reader cannot avoid seeing how completely they harmonize. Mark reader that the apostle said that God had chosen us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. Eph. 1:4. Again in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins wherein [or in whom] he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence. So then we are chosen to be sons of God in Christ and it is in him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and it is in him that God abounds unto us in all wisdom and prudence. And the promise to Abraham was, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, or that in Christ all the nations of the earth should be blessed, and that says the apostle, is what God purposed in himself before the foundation of the world, and agreeably to that plan, men should be blessed: in Christ Jesus they should get the remission of sins; in Christ Jesus they should get redemption: and in Christ Jesus God would abound towards them in all wisdom and prudence; and says the promise to Abraham, (or the gospel as before preached to Abraham) in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed; whether they are descendants of Shem, Ham, or Japheth, in Christ they should be blessed; for God will abound to all who are in Christ Jesus, in wisdom and prudence: they will have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
It is in view of this promise made to Abraham and his seed, that the apostle says, Rom. 9:3,7. “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” And in Rom. 4:11,12,13, the apostle says, “And he [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also; and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had, being yet uncircumcised.” For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
The careful reader of the New Testament will find that the allusions to the promise made to Abraham and his seed are very numerous, but would not be to our purpose to quote at present.
It is necessary to remark here, that the apostle has pronounced a curse on any person, or even on an angel from heaven, if they preach any other gospel, than the one which he had proclaimed. See Gal. 1:8,9 And he says as quoted above, that, the gospel which he proclaimed, had been before preached to Abraham, telling him, that in his seed, that is, in Christ Jesus, all the families of the earth should be blessed, and from what he said to the Romans it is evident that the apostle excludes the fleshly seed of Abraham from being the children of Abraham according to this promise, only such as had faith like faithful Abraham, and that all others who had this faith, were equally entitled to the blessings of Abraham whether they were his fleshly seed or not; it mattered not from whom they descended; for if through faith they were enabled to get into Christ Jesus, they would be considered Abraham’s children and heirs according to the promise.
In the third chapter to the Galatians the mystery is solved, how it is that we are put into Christ, and become Abrahams’ seed and heirs according to the promise. Verses 26,27,28. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.– And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. This carries the promise made to Abraham to its legitimate issue and shows what it was that was preached to Abraham: that it was not only in his seed that all the families of the earth were to be blessed, but that they were to be put in his seed, that is Christ, by baptism; for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. We could hardly admit the thought that the Lord had told Abraham that in him and in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed, and yet not tell him how it was that they were to become his children, or in other words, how they were to be put into Christ, Abraham’s seed. No doubt therefore, can exist, but that Abraham knew all about it; for if he did not, could it be said that he had the gospel preached unto him? It could not, unless he had that thing preached unto him which Paul afterwards preached, and concerning which he said that any man, or an angel from heaven should be accursed if he preached any other. Neither can we with safety admit it, having the testimony which we could on this subject before us, that God had at any period of the world any other way of making sons and daughters but the one; for Paul says that the gospel was before the world was, and the thing which he received by revelation, was the same which had existed from eternity.
But to have the whole subject fairly before us, we will attend to the proclamation of him in whom God had wrought effectually to the apostleship of the circumcision, we mean Peter– We have his proclamation, to the circumcision in the 2 chapter of the Acts of the apostles, 37,38, and 39 verses, it reads thus, “Now when the Jews heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, men and brethren what shall we do? 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 Spirit. 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.”
The reader may see very easily, that all these men understood the subject alike; for the specimens which we have of their preaching are alike. Paul says as quoted above that in Christ we have the forgiveness of sins, and redemption through his blood, and that in him, we are made partakers of the blessings of Abraham, and he also says, that it is by baptism that we are put into Christ. Peter says, repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Why be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins? because, that by baptism Paul says that you put on Christ, “as many of you as are baptized unto Christ have put on Christ;” and being in Christ you have remission of sins, and redemption through his blood; and in him God will abound to you in all wisdom and prudence. Therefore, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, or in other words God will abound towards you in all wisdom and prudence, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, These two apostles then surely, had the same views on the subject of the gospel; and let it not be forgotten, that Paul says, that this gospel was preached to Abraham, and not only to Abraham, but that it originated in eternity, before the world was, and that it was not some new thing which has sprang into existence with him and his contemporaries, and was not known till then. But more on this point hereafter.
The Gospel, No. 5
Times and Seasons, p. 243
Inasmuch then, as the gospel was preached to Abraham, would it be tho’t hazarding much to say that baptism was preached to him for the remission of sins, or could the gospel be preached to Abraham and this not be preached? Perhaps some might say, that it was told to Abraham that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed, and that was all, could it be said that the gospel was preached to Abraham. And yet it was not preached to him, or was Abraham left to guess the rest and find out what was meant by being in his seed. But let us go back and look a little at this subject. Paul as before quoted, has told us that it was a fixed principle in the economy of God and that before the foundation of the world, that men were to be saved by being in Christ. And he also tells us that Christ was Abraham’s seed. Is this testimony correct? If it is; ever since man was in existence there has been but one way of being saved; for God, according to the apostle’s statement, had fixed it by an irrevocable decree and that before the world was that men should be saved in this way and none other. The question now arises, was this scheme of things kept hid from the early ages of the world, so that they did not understand it, and were saved by it? If so there never was any need of understanding it from that day to this; for if they could be saved by it without understanding it, so could we and so could all others, and Paul’s assertions to the Ephesians be worse than vain. “That by grace are ye saved through faith,” and for when there was no understanding there could be no faith. And there is nothing more certain, than this, that if the ancients were not made acquainted with the scheme of life, they must have been saved without it, or else they were destroyed for want of knowing it. The latter cannot be admitted, and it is very hard to admit the former, that is, that any people were ever saved without understanding how it was done, that they were saved, or that any persons could be washed from all sin by the Lamb, and yet know nothing of Jesus, the Lamb of God, and be taken into heaven by a scheme of things of which they had no knowledge? We are told that without faith it is impossible to please God, and where could faith be in all this matter; or had the ancients the happy faculty of believing on him of whom they had not heard, and of hearing, without a preacher? Mark, reader, that Paul has fixed this matter forever; that it is in Christ Jesus that men were to be saved, since the foundation of the world, and in no other way; so that the ancients must either have known that they were in Christ, (we mean those among them who were saved,) or else they did not: if they did not they were saved in ignorance; and the old maxim with them holds good that ignorance is the mother of devotion. But on this point there can be no difference of opinion among the candid; for to admit that any portion of the human family, were saved, at any time, or in any period of the world, without knowing how they were saved or by what means they were made partakers of the grace of life, is to suppose an improbability: that is, it is to suppose that they were saved, and were not saved at the same time; for the revelation of the plan of salvation was essential to the salvation of any of the human family. It mattered not how good the scheme of it was, which was devised in eternity, nor how well suited to the situation of man; nor how well calculated to save men; nor yet, how competent it was to save, still it would never have saved one individual since the world began, unless it had been revealed to him. Let it have remained secreted in the bosom of eternity, without its being made known to man, and the world would have been nothing the better of it; but would all have gone to destruction together.
Another thing which would appear very strange, is that there should be an Abel, and Enoch, and others, who had great power with God, who got many revelations from God, and had great faith, so as to obtain testimony that they were accepted of him, and that they knew, they did not know, nor understand the scheme of things, by which they had this power with God, and through which they obtained it.–Enoch prophesied of the coming of the Lord with ten thousand of his saints to judge the world; Jude 14th verse;–which judgment came by reason of the atonement of the anointed Savior, and it would be very strange indeed if Enoch should not have known any thing of the sacrifice of the Savior, and yet knew of his coming to judge the world, because they rejected the salvation which was offered to them by reason of that atonement, and not only knew of the sacrifice of the Savior; but of the way by which the world of mandkind was made partakers of the benefits of that atonement; that is by being put into Christ Jesus, and that work of putting in by baptism, in water, according to what Paul has said, “That as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ;” and I may add, that none others, but those who were baptized into Christ did put him on, or could put him on; for there was no other way of putting on Christ.
Who can doubt but that man who had faith sufficient to get revelations, and to obtain knowledge of the great day of judgement, when the Lord should come with ten thousand of his saints, who walked with him three hundred years, and had faith sufficient to be translated, who can doubt I say? but this man was acquainted with the whole scheme of life and salvation, or the gospel. No person can doubt it, but one who is incapable of judging any matters.
But the scriptures are pointed on this subject, and so clear that a caveller has no room left, only to show his unfairness and want of candor. Paul says to Timothy, in his second epistle, 1:9, 10, “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began; but is now made manifest by the offering of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light, through the gospel.” If this statement be correct, life and mortality came to light by the gospel, the same as, to say that unless the gospel had come, life and immorality would not have come to light. Let us ask, when did life and immortality come to light? Before answering this question, let me ask, what is meant by life and immortality? I answer, the knowledge of a future existence, or an existence after the present state, in a state of superior glory; and this is the knowledge which came to light by the gospel. When did it come to light? Enoch had knowledge of life and immortality, or else he would not have had faith to have been translated; for could he have faith about a thing of which he never heard? And Paul says that this knowledge came to light by the gospel. If so, Enoch had knowledge of the gospel, and if he had knowledge of the gospel, he knew that men must be in Christ Jesus, or else they could not be blessed; and he must have known that men were put in Christ by baptism, or else there was another gospel, for this was the one which Paul preached, and which he said was before the foundation of the world, and by which we had grace in Christ, before the world was, and it was through this gospel that life and immortality came to light, and Enoch must have been put into Christ, according to the law of this gospel, or else he would not have walked with God three hundred years; for no man can walk with God unless he has obeyed the gospel; and Enoch must have been baptized for the remission of sins, and have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, by the laying on of hands of some one who had authority from God so to do, or else he would not have known of life and immortality.
This matter will appear exceedingly plain, if we attend a little to the promises made to those who believe and obey the gospel. They were to those who were baptized for remission of sins, that they should receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and, through this gift they should see visions, dream dreams and prophesy, see Acts of the Apostles, 2nd chap. Let us look at Enoch then, and see what great knowledge he had of things of God, and ask him, how did you come to have this knowledge? The answer: By seeing visions. And how did you obtain power with God to see visions? The answer would be, I obeyed the gospel, received the Holy Spirit, and thereby saw visions, and through this means I obtained all my knowledge.
The Gospel, No. 6
Times and Seasons, p. 345
There is nothing which gives greater peace and satisfaction to the mind, than clear views on the gospel; to understand it correctly is to understand the will of God to men, and to put a person in possession of truths which will guard him against the various impositions which have been imposed on the world; at one period of it and another; and to give him power to become extensively acquainted with God, as well as the heavenly worlds. But it is necessary in order to a clear understanding of the gospel, that we should have a correct understanding of its origin, and of its progress among men; for without this knowledge, we are liable to be led into darkness, and all the glory of the gospel be hid from our eyes.
Let me here observe, that whatever the gospel was, it now is, and ever will be, that it has not nor will it change: its laws are the same; its ordinances are the same: its institutions are the same; its commands are the same, and its regulations are the same, whatever it required of one man in order to obtain eternal life, it required of all men, and that in every age of the world, and will require the same until all shall be gathered that will be gathered, and those who have obeyed its requisitions enter into the rest, which God has prepared for them. And it is not only the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, and changes not: but it is the only scheme of things by which any portion of the human family has been, or will be saved; for it is only by virtue of the gospel that salvation was ever proclaimed among men, from first to last; for by it life and immortality came to light; so says Paul, 2d, Timothy 1:15, and as the knowledge of life and immortality is essential to salvation, it is easily seen, that there could be no salvation without the gospel, and not only without the gospel, but without the knowledge of it also; for how could a man have faith in that of which he never heard.
Seeing then, that life and immortality came to light by the gospel,and without the knowledge of life and immortality no person could be saved; there can no difficulty exist on the minds of any of the human family, unless they create one where none really exists as to the time the gospel was promulgated to man; it must have been promulgated as early as life and immortality was known, and they were known ever since the time that salvation was proclaimed among the family of man; for salvation is a matter of faith, and faith cannot exist in relation to it without hearing the word of the Lord, for it is by hearing the word of the Lord, that faith in relation to salvation comes. As far back then as we date salvation, so far back we date the proclamation of the gospel to man; and it must be so unless it can be proven that God had more ways than one of saving mankind,and to do this Paul must be refuted, for he says that the plan which he proclaimed was before the foundation of the world, and that no other foundation could any man lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus, and Peter says that there is no other name given under heaven among men, by which they can be saved but in the name of Christ Jesus.
May we not reason a little upon this subject. Let us ask then, what was the most important thing which God could communicate to his creature man? The answer is, the things which would save him; if God ever at any time condescended to speak to man, there can no good reason be shewn why he did not communicate to him the things which were of the greatest consequence to him, and as God always acts according to reason and never against it we may conclude that he did declare unto man the gospel or the way by which he was to be saved: but what would be very strange would be that there should be a great number of persons saved in the earlier ages of the world, and yet not know how they were saved, be saved in ignorance! It would be equality as strange that prophets, such as Enoch for instance, the seventh from Adam, could prophesy of the second coming of Christ and of his judging the world, and yet not know of his first coming and of his dying for the world. And what would be stranger still would be, that men could be saved by faith, and yet never hear, nor know, of the way of salvation through the blood of the Lamb. This would be believing without hearing, and being saved without understanding, and having faith without hearing the word of God, or in other words it would be believing on him of whom they had not heard, or else it would be hearing without a preacher, and if it were any of these things, it would put the shame on all the sacred writers, and expose them to just ridicule. But while it is written in the pages of the divine oracles, that salvation is of faith, and men cannot have faith in a being of whom they have not heard, nor hear without one to tell them, or a preacher, and that life and immortality came to light by the gospel, and that Abel was a prophet, and that Enoch the seventh from Adam was translated, and that
God saves men by the gospel and nothing else, for whatever will save men is gospel; so long as it will be believed by every thinking man that, the gospel was made known to the ancients as well as to us. But what seems to put the matter at rest as relates to the antiquity of the gospel proclamation is, that the apostle Paul says that the gospel which he proclaimed, or what was to the same effect, that the scheme of things which he taught, was devised before the foundation of the world, and that it was God’s fixed purpose to save men in that way or by that plan and none other; so that if there was salvation at all among the ancients, it was because they had the gospel among them.
There are some other considerations which force the conclusion on the mind, that the ancients had the gospel among them, and that is, that according to the sacred record the fruits of it abounded among them as far back as to the days of Abel. If we inquire what are the things which attend the gospel; we will find that prophecying was one thing, and we are told that Abel was a prophet, for the Savior said to the Jews, that the blood of the prophets should be required at their hands, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias. Matthew 23:34, 35 verses, Enoch was also a prophet; for he foretold of the second advent as recorded by Jude. Who does not know, that when the apostles proclaimed the gospel, they promised to those who received it that they should prophesy, seeing then that prophesying was a fruit of the gospel who can help seeing that is was by virtue of it that was by virtue of it that men prophesied, we cannot see where there can be a risk in believing that wherever there are or were prophets, there the gospel is, or was, and one strong reason which confirms this belief is that whenever the gospel is lost prophesying is lost also; this generation is all the proof we need on this subject for if we ask why has prophesying ceased in this generation? the answer is, because they have lost the gospel. And not having the gospel, they cannot have the fruits of it; butt we see the ancients had teh fruits of it and how could they have the fruits of it and yet not have the gospel? is a question we will leave for those more learned than ourselves to answer.
Baptism By Immersion
From the Cross and Journal
Times and Seasons
April 1, 1844, Vol. 5, p. 485
Now for testimony on this subject, we will call on some of the most pious, most learned, and most elevated paedo-baptists that have ever written.
Dr. Witsius, of North Holland—born 1708, learned in the oriental languages. So learned and eminent divine, that he was chosen professor of divinity, 1st, at Franeker, after at Utrecht, last at Leyden. He testifies as follows:
“It cannot be denied that the native signification of baptein and baptizein is to plunge, to dip. So that it is doubtlesss, more than epipolazein, which is to swim light on the surface; but less then dunein, which is to go down to the bottom, to be destroyed. Yet I have observed, that katadusis is frequently used by the ancients, with reference to baptism. “To baptize means to plunge, to dip; not to swim lightly—not to sink to the bottom, to destroy.”—But it means to dip in, and take out again.
Salmasius, an eminent French scholar; educated at Paris Heidleberg—his knowledge of language extensive—succeeded Scaliger in the university at Leyden. Salmasius—Baptism is immersion; and was administered in ancient times, according to the force and meaning of the word. Now it is only rhantism or sprinkling; not immersion or dipping.
Calvin, John, known and read of all men, says “the word baptize, signifies to immerse; and the rite of immersion was observed by the ancient church.
Beza—a Catholic—1548 went to Geneva and publicly abjured popery. After this he accepted a Greek professorship in Lausanne, which he filled for ten years, and returned to Geneva. Here he became a colleague to J. Calvin, through whom he was appointed rector, and theological professor. He succeeded Calvin, at his decease, in his offices and influence, and was thence considered the head of the Calvinistic church.
Beza says “Christ commanded us to be baptized, by which word it is certain immersion is signified. Baptizesthai in this place is more than Kerniptein; because that seems to respect the whole body, this only the hands. Nor does Baptizien signify to wash, only by consequence; for it properly signifies to immerse for the sake of dyeing. To be baptized in water, signifies no other than to be immersed in water, which is the external ceremony of baptism. Babtizo differs from the verb dunai, which signifies to plunge into the deep and to drown.” So he says it does not mean to drown, but it does mean to immerse.
Calmet. “Generally people (speaking of the Jews) dipped themselves entirely under water; and this is the most simple and natural notion of the word baptism.”
Martin Luther. “The term baptism is a Greek word. It may be rendered a dipping when we dip something in water, that it may be entirely covered with water. And that custom be entirely abolished among the generality (for neither do they entirely dip children, but only sprinkle them with a little water) nevertheless they ought to be entirely immersed, and presently to be drawn out again; for the etymology of the word seems to require it. The Germans call baptism tauff from depth, which they call tieff in their language: as if it were proper those should be deeply immersed, who are baptized. And, truly, if you consider what baptism signifies, you shall see the same thing required: for it signified, the old man, and our nativity, that is full of sins, which is entirely of flesh and blood, may be overwhelmed by divine grace. The manner of baptism, therefore, should correspond with the signification of baptism, that it may show a certain and plain sign of it.”
Kingdom of Heaven – Subjects Admitted.
The design of Baptism.
Concession by eminent Paido Baptists.
Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p. 500
In a former essay we argued, that, as the Lord’s supper taught and exemplified the sufferings of Christ, in atoning for sin, so also baptism taught and exemplified the burial and resurrection of Christ. That the actual death and resurrection of Christ were taught and insisted on as important and essential features in the Christian system to be received by every disciple, and that the believers baptism illustrated the sufferings of Christ. We then also promised to show, that the most learned, most devoted, and celebrated divines of the paido baptist denominations acknowledged and taught the same things. We now proceed to show the same.
Witsius.—Immersion into the water is to be considered by us, as exhibiting that dreadful abyss of divine justice, in which Christ for our sins, which he took on himself, was for a time absorbed; as in David, his type, he complains, (Ps.60:3,) ‘I am weary of my crying, my throat is dried; mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.’ More particularly, seeing such an immersion deprives a person of light, and of other things pertaining to this world, it excellently represents the death of Christ, while his continuance under water, however short, denotes the burial of Christ, and the lowest degree of his humiliation; when being laid in a sepulchre that was sealed and guarded by the Roman sliders, he was considered as entirely cast off. Emersion out of the water exhibits an image of his resurrection, or the victory which, being dead, he obtained over death in his own dark domains, that is, the grave. All these the apostle intimates, (Romans 6:3-4.)
Robert Newton.—Baptism was usually performed by immersion, or dipping the whole body under water to represent the death, and burial, and resurrection of Christ together, and therewith to signify the person’s own dying unto sin the destruction of its power and his resurrection to a new life.— St. Paul explaining refers to this custom. (Rom 6:4.)
A.H. Frankius.—The baptism of Christ represented his sufferings, (Mat. 20:22.) and his coming out of the water, his resurrection from the dead.
Richard Baxter.—In our baptism we are dipped under the water, as signifying our covenant profession, that as he was buried for sin, we are dead and buried to sin. They (your lusts) are dead and buried with him, for so your baptism signifieth; in which you are put under the water, to signify and profess, that your old man is dead and buried. We are raised to holiness, as we rise out of the water in baptism, (Col.2:11,12,13,) that the putting of the body under the water did signify our burial with Christ, and the death and putting off our sins. And though we now use a less quantity of water, yet it is to signify the same thing, or else we should destroy the being of the sacrament: so also our rising out of the water signifieth our rising and being quickened together with him. They were in baptism buried with Christ; and put off the body of sin, and were quickened with him: and this doth all suppose their own present profession to put off the body of sin, and their consent to be baptized on these terms.
Saurin.—Paul says, ‘We are buried with him by baptism into death; that is the ceremony of wholly immersing us in water, when we were baptized, signifies, that we died to sin, and that of raising us again from our immersion, signified that we would no more return to our disorderly practices, in which we lived before our conversion to Christianity.
Baptist Patrick.— They (the primitive Christians) put off their old clothes, and stripped themselves of their garments; then they were immersed all over, and buried in the water, which notably signified the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, as the apostle speaks, and their enduring into a state of death or mortification after the similitude of Christ; according to the same apostle’s language elsewhere, ‘We are baptized into his death—We are buried with him in baptism.
Seudder.—Baptism doth lively represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, together with your crucifying the affections and lusts; being dead and buried with him into sin, and rising with him to newness of life, and to hope of glory.
Buddeus.—Immersion, which was used in former times, was a symbol and an image of the death and burial of Christ, and at the same time, it informs us, that the remains of sin, which are called the old man, should be mortified.
Dr. Whitby.—Therefore we are buried with him by baptism, plunging us under the water into a conformity to his death, which put his body under the earth; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glorious power of the Father, even so we also, thus dead in baptism, should rise with him and walk in newness of life.
Baptist Hall.—Ye are in baptism buried together with Christ, in respect to the mortification of your sins, represented by lying under the water; and in the same baptism ye rise up with him in newness of life, represented by your rising up out of the water again, through that faith of yours, grounded upon the mighty power of God; who hath raised him from the dead.
Pictetus.—That immersion into, and emersion out of the water, practiced by the ancients, signify the death of the old, and the resurrection of the new man.
Baptist Davenaut.—In baptism the burial of the body of sin, or of the old Adam, is represented, when the person to be baptized is put down into the water; as a resurrection, when he is brought out of it.
Dr. Boys.—The dipping in holy baptism has three parts; the putting into the water, the continuance in the water, and the coming out of the water. The putting into the water doth ratify the mortification of sin by the power of Christ’s death, as Paul (Rom. 6:3.) Know ye not that all we which have been baptized into Jesus Christ, have been baptized into his death, and that our old man is crucified with him! The continuance in the water denotes the burial of sin, to wit, a continual increase of mortification by the power of Christ’s death and burial. (Rom. 6:4.) The coming out of the water, figured our spiritual resurrection and vivification to newness of life, by the power of Christ’s resurrection. (Rom. 6:4, and Col, 2:12.)
Grotius.—Buried with him by baptism. Not only the word baptism but the very form of it intimates this. For an immersion of the whole body in water, so that it is no longer beheld, bears an image of that burial which is given to the dead. (See Col. 2:12.) There was in baptism, as administered in former times, an image both of a burial and of a resurrection.
Dr. Hammond.—It is a thing that every Christian knows, that the immersion in baptism refers to the death of Christ; the putting the person into the water denotes and proclaims the death and burial of Christ.
Baptist Nicholson.—The ancient manner in baptism, the putting the person baptized under the water, and taking him out again did well set forth these two acts; the first, his dying, the second, his rising again. — Into the grave with Christ we went not; for our bodies were not, and could not be buried with his; but in our baptism, by a kind of analogy or resemblance, while our bodies are under the water, we may be said to be buried with him. ATA.
The gifts of the Holy Ghost were promised to all members of the Kingdom of God. The gospel was first preached to the gentiles on the Day of Pentecost. “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 HolyGhost. 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) “45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 10)
These gifts include: “1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 4 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 God 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 selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (1 Cor. 12) 1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy… 12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” (1 Cor. 14)
What has happened to these promised gifts in sectarian Christianity? It is for the same reason that God no longer speaks to them. “1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isa. 59) “19 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. 20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?” (Jer. 16)
John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, writing about the loss of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, actually commented on the loss of the Christian faith. “The cause of this was not, as has been supposed, because there was no more occasion 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. The Son of Man, when He came to examine His Church, could hardly find faith upon earth. 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. 7, 89; 26-27)
Alas my sectarian friends. These gifts of the Holy Ghost were restored by Joseph Smith, continued by James J. Strang, and remain in the true church today. The following is from the Book of The Law of the Lord with notes by James J. Strang.
- EXCEPT a man be born of the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God[John 3:5)
- The birth of the spirit is fully illustrated by Jesus, in his discourse with Nicodemus. Assuming that a ruler of the Jews could not be ignorant what a birth of water was, he seizes upon a familiar illustration of the other, to which the dry hot climate of that country gave peculiar force.
- The severity of climate in that country is not in its wintry frosts, but its summer heats; so that the coming of the blessed is compared to the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. (Isa. xxxii, 2.)
- Passing over the parched plains, under a cloudless sky, with the sun’s rays pouring down like the blast of a furnace, when the traveler is ready to perish, suddenly he hears a sound of wind. Immediately it sweeps past. The cooling breeze comes upon him. His lungs are inflated, and his strength renewed. He feels himself another man. So is every one that is born of the spirit. (John iii, 8.)
- A more splendid exhibition of this power occurred at Jerusalem, at the first Pentecost after the ascension, when the outpouring of the spirit was so abundant that those present spoke in tongues, and every one understood in his own language. (Acts ii, 1-11.)
- Whosoever shall be baptized for the remission of sins, upon him shall the Apostles, High Priests, or Elders, lay their hands, and confirm him in the Kingdom, and give unto him, by their hands, a gift of the Holy Spirit, according as the spirit will.
It cannot be expected that everyone who receives the laying on of hands, will receive with it a powerful and overwhelming inspiration. But he will receive a spirit of truth sufficient, if cherished, to guide him into all truth, and make him wise in the things of God’s Kingdom. Such should avoid looking for marvels, and be content with substantial wisdom and enduring knowledge.
- And the spirit thus given shall inspire him with faith, intelligence, and understanding; and if he cherish it, then shall it guide and establish him in all righteousness.
- It is a mistake to suppose any one will possess all the spiritual gifts, who has the laying on of hands, or that he will have any particular one he may choose. The spirit divideth gifts severally, as he will. (1st Cor. xii, 11.)
- Paul enumerates the gifts of the spirit, as wisdom, knowledge, faith, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and the interpretation. (1st Cor. xii, 8-10.) Of these every servant of God, obedient in faith, repentance, and baptism, will, by the laying on of hands, receive his portion, sufficient to guide him to life, if he will follow its inspiration.
- For when they lay their hands upon him, the spirit, like an invigorating breeze, shall come upon him and cover him; and it shall inspire him with a new power, according to the gifts of the spirit; and as it passeth off and leaveth him, his gift shall continue, and he shall walk in newness of life [1 John iii, 8.]
[1 Acts viii, 17. xix, 6. 1st Cor. xii, 7-11. [2 John xvi, 13.
NOTE ON SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
- When Jesus sent his Apostles to preach to the nations of the earth, he commanded them, “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but 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; (with impunity;) and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Matt, xvi, 15-18.)
- This promise, as broad as the earth, and as long as time, just as much assures signs as salvation. The believers of the gospel which the Apostles were sent to preach, are as certain that signs will follow them, as that they will be saved.
- It makes a simple issue of veracity between the Lord Jesus Christ, and all those sects who say the signs do not follow. Inquire of any Christian sect if the signs follow them. As oft as they say they do not, so often be assured, on the oath of Jesus Christ, that they do not believe the gospel.
- But the signs do not go before unbelievers. They are not given to beget faith in their minds, but to benefit the faithful.
The following is an article that was published in the Gospel Herald, May 9, 1849.
GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST
The manifestations of the Holy Ghost, as recorded in the New Testament, are entirely extinct, so far as the sectarian world are concerned; for we hear it declared from every pulpit, that the day of miracles has ceased, and God no more works by those mysterious ways in our day, and that the manifestations recorded were to establish the divine mission of Jesus Christ and his Messiahship. If this be the case, why did Christ, when commissioning his Apostles, say, “and these signs shall follow them that believe?” If they were only to establish his mission, why did they follow those that believed the preaching of the Apostles?
It is easily proved by scripture that the gifts and signs were not to be confined to the Apostles, nor to that particular dispensation, but to follow all who, in a legal manner, obeyed the gospel introduced by Christ. Although the gift of the Holy Ghost is not at all times to be discovered by the natural eye in all its operaions, yet it is, nevertheless, a gift, and for this reason Paul exhorts his Corinthian brethren to “follow after charity and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophecy.” 1st Cor. xiv. 1. Also in the xii. 1 he says, “now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.”
It appears from these quotations that some of his Corinthian brethren had not as yet received the Holy Ghost, and were not acquaint.ed with its operations; for he goes on in the12th chapter to tell of the diversities of gifts, but of the same spirit; and how one man might be moved upon by the spirit to speak in tongues, another to interpret, and yet another to prophecy, yet all by the same spirit. Should it be in this day and age of the world any less a matter of surprise (to those who are looking) to see the miraculous display of the spirit than it was for those of the Corinthians in the days of Paul, who had obeyed the gospel, and were expecting some display of the Holy Ghost, and yet nothing out of the ordinary course of things seemed to present itself? and if we may be allowed to express an opinion, that they were some like those in our day, who, after they have been baptized and confirmed, think that all is done to insure some miraculous display of the Holy Ghost, little thinking that to everyone severally as the Lord will is the division of the gifts of the spirit.
We read in the iv. 7 of Eph.: “But unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” 8. “When he ascended up on high he gave gifts unto men.” The manifestations of the gifts are not always discernible to mankind in general, neither the ministering of angels or the development of the power of God in his power, majesty or glory publicly manifested, except to a people of his choice, and who had been prepared by obeying his commands. Taking a view of the history of those events, we find that when God has revealed himself, or angels have ministered, it has been to individuals, and in private, and that too in their chambers, in the wilderness or fields, and generally those manifestations have been [Page 63/971] without noise or tumult.
The angel delivered Peter out of the prison at the dead hour of midnight, stood by a Paul unobserved by the rest of the ship’s crew, and declared unto Paul that there should be no loss of life of any of the ship’s company, but of the ship. When the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush it was to Moses alone, and also when he appeared to Abraham it was at Abraham’s tent door. When Elijah was taken in a chariot of fire, it was unobserved by the world; and when he was in the cleft of the rock, there was loud thunder, but the Lord was not in the thunder; there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in that; and there was a still small voice, which was the voice of the Lord, saying, what doest thou here, Elijah?
It appears by the foregoing that the Lord is not always known by the thunder of his voice, and those that are most anxious to see a display of the power of the Holy Ghost are most generally the least prepared to receive it–Were the Lord to manifest his power as he did to the children of Israel, such characters would say as did the Israelites, “let not the Lord speak any more, lest we his people die.”
The over anxiety of some to see more of the gifts of the spirit manifest may be benefited by reading the following directions in the Book of Mormon: to pray over and for your families, your cattle, your herds, your flocks, your corn, and all things you possess; and also be just and virtuous, keeping the commandments which God has given, and in all things striving to keep an eye single to the glory of God, ask the blessings of God upon all your labors and everything that you engage in, that your path may be like that of the just, “which shineth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day;” be not over anxious for the display of the gifts, but strive with a continual anxiety to keep the commandments and laws of God.
Samuel E. West
Elder in Latter Day Zion