JAMES J. STRANG
Joseph Smith was jailed on false charges as he had been before. The governor promised his safekeeping. But it was a ruse. On June 27, 1844, a gang of ruffians stormed the jail where Joseph was taken in preparation to kill him. With the help of the Governor of Illinois, the mob stormed the jail and murdered Joseph and his brother Hyrum.
On June 27th, at about six o’clock in the afternoon, the guard was surprised by an armed mob of from 150 to 250 men painted red, black, and yellow. They surrounded the jail and murdered both Joseph and Hyrum Smith; both being shot four times. This is under the sworn protection of (Illinois) Governor Ford. Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered in cold blood.
Ordination of James J. Strang on June 27, 1844
The same hour that Joseph was killed, James J. Strang claimed that at 5:30 in the afternoon an angel of the Lord came to him and ordained him to the prophetic office to succeed Joseph Smith. He could only be ordained if Joseph had died. He lived more than four hundred miles from Nauvoo. It was not possible (even if Strang had conspired with men in Nauvoo) to know of Joseph Smith’s murder. Much less to the hour. There were no such means of communication. He announced this ordination to several in Burlington that night. Joseph prophesying of his death four times in the D&C, writing of his impending death and appointing James, and James telling of Joseph’s death the same hour Joseph died are prophetic in their own right. For almost three weeks James taught of this appointment, without any confirmation of the death of Joseph. The letter of appointment arrived in Burlington on July 9, 1844, in which Joseph prophesied of his coming death and appointed James as his successor. Thus began the difficult and trying work of James as Apostle, Prophet, Lawgiver, Seer, Revelator, and Translator; which he sealed with his own blood on July 9, 1856. “This letter was received at Burlington by the regular course of mail, coming through the distributing office at Chicago, and bears the Nauvoo postmark of June 19th, the day following its date. It arrived at Burlington on July 9th and was immediately taken from the office by C. P. Barnes, Esq., a distinguished lawyer. at that place, who, in consequence of the rumors of persecution and civil war against the Mormons, and general anxiety to hear the latest news, immediately carried it to Mr. Strang, with the request to be informed of any news of public interest which it might contain. It, therefore, became public the same evening…” “Mrs. Emma Smith recollects well of her husband receiving a letter from Mr. Strang, and holding a council on the subject, and names Hyrum Smith, Willard Richards, and John P. Green as present at that council, and also that a letter was sent to Mr. Strang in answer, but of the import of the answer she was not informed. James J. Strang, the Prophet The Bible foretold two prophets and two works that would come forth in the latter days. "Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph [Book of Mormon], which is in the hand of Ephraim [Joseph Smith], and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah [the Book of the Law of the Lord translated by James J. Strang of the tribe of Judah], and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand." (Ezek. 37:19) “8 And thou, O tower of the flock [James J. Strang], the stronghold of the daughter of Zion [Church in America], unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion [July 8, 1850]; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. 9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud? Is there no king in thee [James was to be murdered]? Is thy counselor perished [Apostles and High Priests gone]? For pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail. 10 Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to [spiritual] Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered [James will return as a resurrected man before Jesus]; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of there enemies.” (Micah 4) There have always been distinctive characteristics that identify a true Prophet of God. First, they all claim direct communication with the throne of grace. Second, they all claim a calling and ordination at the hands of angels by the direct command of God. Third, they all fulfill the duties of their calling. Fourth, they teach the same as all prophets of God on the same subject. Fifth, in many instances they seal their testimony with their own blood. Of two others who claimed succession after the death of Joseph, only James J. Strang was appointed by Joseph and claimed to have been ordained at the hands of angels. James made his claim known from the time of his ordination on June 27, by mail and by word of mouth. Until the letter was delivered on July 9, there was no official news from Nauvoo. The letter from Joseph proved the claim that James had made almost two weeks earlier. James kept the letter open for public examination throughout his life. It is now in Yale University Library. James put all questions concerning its validity to rest forever. The validity of Mormonism rests partially upon the validity of this letter. If Joseph failed to appoint “another” as his successor, and no one came forward claiming a proper ordination as his successor, Joseph was a false prophet. James wrote of the critical importance of every Prophet of God being properly called and ordained at the hands of angels. “1. In the general infidelity of the times the doctrine of Angelic ordinations strikes the ear as a discarded old superstition. Though the half-converted disciples of Joseph assented to that truth in his case, it was with such a savor of unwilling faith as would not believe that the like would ever again occur. So unwilling are men to believe that God works now, as he did in the ages past. “2. Jesus commenced his ministry after John the Baptist, the forerunner or porter, opened the door of that dispensation; being inducted into the Church by baptism, and the Priesthood by a call by the voice of God, and by the ministration of an Angel.” “5. Moses was called by the voice of God, (Ex. iii, 4, 10,) and sent by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him when God spoke from the flame. (Acts vii, 35.) Joseph was likewise called by the voice of God, (D. & C. i, 4,) and sent by the hand of Angels. (D. & C. 1, 2, 3.) And in the same manner, was James called and sent. (Post xx, 6, p. 169.) “6. In the calling of Joseph, there was a necessity that he is called by the direct revelation of the word of God to himself; for there was no Prophet or Priest of God on earth, by whom God should speak and minister in calling and ordaining him to the Prophetic and Apostolic office. Consequently, God called him by his own voice and sent Peter, James, and John to ordain him to the Priesthood, because they, having been duly called and set apart, and filled an acceptable ministry on earth, had entered into life, capable of ministering in heaven and on earth, as God should send them. “7. The necessity was equally strong that the successor of Joseph should be ordained by the hand of an Angel. He could not be ordained by any of the surviving Priesthood; because none were equal to Joseph in authority, and the less is blessed by the greater. Moreover, the keys of David, given him and his house forever, by the oath of God, had to be bestowed on the heir of David on earth, before the Kingdom could prevail and exercise dominion. They could only be bestowed by him who held them.” (Book of the Law, p. 165) James fulfilled the office of Prophet in five ways: (1) as First President of the church, (2) as one who speaks for God [offers communication from God], (3) as one who predicts future events, (4) as a translator, and (5) as a teacher divinely inspired. This chapter will address the truth of his mission by showing that he fulfilled the first three duties. The fulfillment of his duty as a Revelator, Translator, and teacher are the subjects in separate chapters. James wrote, concerning the fulfillment of his duties, “As First President, I have regularly presided over the Church and took the direction of its affairs in all the world, according to the law of God. “As a prophet, I have foretold in the name of God, the ills that were coming on men, and directed all who received the word of the Lord how and where to come out from among the wicked, that they receive not of their plagues. “I have obtained covenants and promises of God and at his hand obtained an everlasting inheritance for the Saints, which I have divided among them by lot, without cost or price. God is our God and we are his people forevermore. “As a Seer, I have seen the visions of the Almighty, and as a Revelator has received the knowledge of his purposes and commandments, and made them known among the children of men. As a translator, I have brought forth hidden treasures and revealed the old record to all who love the truth and seek unto it. The visions of the past and the hidden lore of future ages are laid by the side of present hopes and future knowledge. “As an apostle, I have borne a faithful testimony of the kingdom and the coming of the Lord Jesus. I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith. I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. In the treasure‑house of the Almighty, there is laid up for me a crown of glory richer than all diadems of earthly kings. Of all that dwell on the earth, God has made me the happiest. From men, I fear no evil. May God bless you abundantly with the same blessings, and especially with the love of the truth. “Truly and sincerely,“JAMES J. STRANG.” (Prophetic Controversy, p. 38) As the First President of the Church of Christ, James received revelations and commandments for the church, provided Pastoral Letters to the church, was given visions from God, set the house of God in order, established the High Council, was given a safe gathering place for the saints, directed missionary work, translated ancient records, and maintained order according to the law of God. Pastoral Letters
James wrote several Pastoral Letters to guide the saints in living a righteous life during a corrupt generation. The following is an example. Pastoral Letter, January 21, 1847: From James J. Strang, a Prophet of the Highest God, and First President of the Church of Jesus Christ, to all of them that believe in God and obey his law throughout the world. 1. God, who created the earth in days of old, and holdeth it in his hand at the present moment, who taught the fathers, and spoke to the children of men by prophets and apostles; who hath in the last days lifted up his hand to redeem the earth as well as the children of men having in his good pleasure and abundant grace called me to the service of the sanctuary, and the ministry of the new and everlasting covenant, and revealed to me many and glorious things pertaining to the dispensation of the fulness of times, I feel constrained by his spirit to speak to you of the things that God hath shown me, and especially to put you in remembrance of his law and his precepts; desiring that you should become wise in all that God hath revealed, and be made perfect by his word. 2. Blessed and happy are all those who, being reconciled unto God and to his word, and delivered from the dominion of sin and Satan, by obedience to the law of the gospel, remain and abide therein, pressing on towards the fountain of all light and all truth; never content to stop till they become perfect as God our Father is perfect. Such is the high privilege offered to the true disciple of Christ in the covenant which God hath made, and which shall never be broken. In this covenant, all the living members of the Church may be bound to one another in the unity of the spirit and supplied with zeal and strength, and courage to do the will of our Heavenly Father. 3. I desire, therefore, that all the saints, individually, may participate in the bonds of union, the fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, and may not rest satisfied, without knowing for yourselves the things that pertain to the kingdom of God, and that you be no longer conformed to the world, but transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the renewing of your minds, and turned from darkness to light. Wait for and patiently receive the word of God, which shall be as a shining light unto you; then will you be enabled to see and to walk in the path of duty. 4. I charge you that you steadfastly seek to commend your profession of faith by keeping ALL THE COMMANDMENTS of God, and truly following him who was meek and lowly in heart. In the exercise of a tender and enlightened conscience, maintain an upright testimony to the purity and intellectuality of his religion, though it be through suffering. Be careful, that neither for the sake of worldly reputation, from a love of ease, nor from a fear of being plundered of your possessions, you incur the condemnation conveyed in the words, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not up his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me." 5. Neglect not the assembling of yourselves together. Be diligent in public instruction, and put off all slothfulness in family devotions and secret prayer. Subject yourselves frequently to an honest self-examination in the light of God's word, remembering that God's law by which he judges both the living and the dead is a law of perfect truth, and admits of no concealment. If you are hereby made sensible of manifold transgressions, and of cause for humiliation, you will value more highly the principles and the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ and will rejoice exceedingly that the shepherd and bishop of our souls speaketh unto God, and is a minister and a high priest in HIS tabernacle, by an everlasting and unchanging priesthood, made not without an oath. 6. In the present state of society, with the strong disposition generally manifested to speak evil of and persecute the saints, it is especially incumbent upon all to carefully watch their varied engagements in life. In conducting your pecuniary affairs whether in agriculture or trade, or as professional men, and in the investment of your property scrupulously avoid doing anything that may compromise your Christian testimonies, or lessen their force on the minds of unbelievers. Maintain plain dealing and strict integrity with all men, treating them with respect and courtesy, and at the same time showing that your first concern is to lay up treasure in heaven. It is especially incumbent on you that you enter not upon the manufacture of, or trade-in intoxicating liquors, or other things used principally for immoral or vicious purposes, and that you obtain no inheritances, except at places where God has called the saints together; for where your treasure is there will your hearts be; and if ye neglect these sayings the day of your redemption approacheth not. 7. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God." Therefore in fulfilling your duties as citizens, be cautious how you seize on any occasion which may occur to serve the public in a civil capacity as a public officer. Forget not that your being thus engaged may bring, not only the eyes, but possibly the indignation and hatred of the unconverted upon you. When I consider the seductive influences of popularity, and the self‑satisfaction consequent upon successful efforts of the intellectual powers, even in a good cause, I feel bound with affectionate earnestness to warn you against taking an undue part in the many exciting movements of the present-day. It is our duty to aid, as far as in us lies, in lessening the amount of vice, ignorance, and misery; but be especially watchful that you do not engage in any such work MERELY for applause and public notice, lest thereby you mar the work of God in your hearts, interfere with your duties in the church, and bring down on yourself and brethren that spirit of persecution which a less prominent station might avoid. 8. Still more earnestly do I warn and admonish you against taking part in the wars and fightings of the nations of the earth. In the present war between the United States and Mexico, where our own country is pursuing a successful conquest of an enemy, at whose hand she has suffered many injuries, long unredressed, the occasion may seem to justify a belligerent position; but it should not be forgotten that God has not decreed the war, and its conquests are still but added to the stronger of the oppressive. In THIS NATION SAINTS are PERSECUTED and SLAIN, and all manner of evil is spoken against them for righteousness' sake. They have been robbed and plundered, and the powers that be have winked at it. They have been exiled from an entire state. Their complaints were laid at the feet of the judge, and he would not hear them; then they laid them at the feet of the governor, and he refused them redress; finally, the Prophet Joseph, his Counsellor Sidney, and Gen. Robert D. Foster, a high priest, went to Washington, and laid their complaints at the feet of the President, and in the halls of Congress, and were told that THEY could do nothing for them. There they bore a FAITHFUL TESTIMONY, and have become witnesses at the judgment seat of God, who hath sworn that he will "vex the nation." So though God uses this nation to chastise the Mexicans for all their wickedness and their high‑handed oppressions of the seed of Joseph (as he used Babylon to chastise Israel in days of old) yet the people whom they conquer shall be as poison in the veins of the nation, and the spoils of conquest shall be the seed of future wars; apparent success shall end in destruction unless they make speed to put off their own sins. Since this faithful testimony was borne the prophet has been slain for the testimony which he bore, in a public prison, in charge of public officers, and no effort has been made to bring the murderers to justice. Beneath the altar of God, he cries continually, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth." And at the END of their probation, God is waiting on the nation that they may "turn unto him, and REPENT of all their evil deeds; and no more slay the prophets, but hearken unto them;" and if they do it not, his fierce anger shall fall upon them and all that are joined with them. Therefore as you give your testimonies against wars and fighting see that you engage not in them, and suffer a curse with those that make them. 9. It is met also that the Saints shall not mix up in the turmoil of politics. It is preferable that you take no part even in elections in ordinary cases, leaving all such matters to others. But while you thus leave both the making and the administration of the laws to others, scrupulously avoid breaking them; "for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land; wherefore be subject to the powers that be, until He reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet. Behold the laws which ye have received from my hand, are the laws of the church; and in this light, ye shall hold them forth. Behold here is wisdom." 1835 D.C. 18:5 or Utah D.C. 58:21. 10. Finally, brethren, give no heed to backbiters and tale bearers, especially those who are accusers of their brethren. But remember that as there have been apostates, false teachers, and those who bear false witness and speak evil of things they understand not in all ages of the world, so there shall be until the coming of Christ in flaming fire to take vengeance on all who know not God. 11. Be steadfast in every good work, not driven about by every rumor. The grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Accept this sincere greeting and testimony from your fellow servant. JAMES J. STRANG(Zion's Reveille, 2:2:7, January 21, 1847, p. 59) Prophecies Fulfilled
James received his first vision on June 18, 1844, the same day that Joseph wrote the letter of appointment, foretelling his being called to stand at the head of the people. This vision was fulfilled when he was ordained at the hands of angels as an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver at the same time Joseph was murdered—although some four hundred miles away. On September 1, 1845, James received a vision in which he prophesied of a record of an ancient people buried on a hill beside the White River [near him]. He took four respectable local men with him on September 13, 1845, to the place where the angel showed him the record was buried. They found the buried record beneath a large tree, at a depth of about three feet, exactly where James had prophesied. A clay case contained three brass plates—the Voree Plates. James translated this ancient record. It is included in the chapter, James the Translator. On August 25, 1846, he received a revelation and vision concerning the gathering of the saints. Beaver Island was later established by revelation as a stake of Zion and the gathering place for the saints. We do not know how many other visions James received. The foregoing was published for public instruction. The first prophecy of James is found in his vision of June 18, 1844—the day Joseph wrote the letter of appointment. He saw himself as head of the people. James had no way of knowing that Joseph was soon to be martyred and that he would stand at the head of the people. On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob in Carthage Jail, Missouri. At the same hour of Joseph’s death, James was ordained as Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver under the hands of angels to be Joseph’s successor. The prophecy was fulfilled. James prophesied the fall of Nauvoo. Joseph Smith received a revelation from God at Nauvoo, Illinois, on January 19, 1841. God promised if the people obeyed the priesthood that God set in order they would never be removed from Nauvoo. “45 And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.46 But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them. 47 And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfills the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord. 48 For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practice before me, saith the Lord.” (D&C 124) In The Prophetic Controversy (p. 20) James notes that he prophesied in 1844, of the fall of Nauvoo. “A short time after receiving my prophetic calling, sister Louisa Sanger addressed me in a letter in which she made a demand upon me similar to that contained in your letter. In my reply, guided by the spirit of truth, by which this revelation was given, though it had not been published, I predicted their expulsion as the consequence of following the wrong leaders. She showed this letter to H. C. Kimball and Orson Pratt and begged them to reply to my strong reasons if any answer could be made. They declined that task, as they always will; but they threw my letter on the floor, and danced on it in their defiance of the prediction. Two years did not pass around till the prediction was fulfilled, and thus another witness testified that I was a Prophet inspired by God and that they were blind and uninspired. By their own words, as well as by the voice of God, were they condemned, and I sustained. “It is not an agreeable task for a prophet to compare prophecy with history, for the purpose of proving that he has not spoken one word more or less than the Lord has spoken by him; and I shall not, without a special occasion, undertake it, for myself. But, whenever the occasion does arise, it will find me fully prepared to show that every leading and material fact in the history of the Brighamite party, for the ten years of its existence, has been by me distinctly and publicly predicted, before it was spoken of among them and that in all their misfortunes I have offered them such relief as subsequent experience has shown would have been sufficient. So far as this proves me a true prophet, I am entitled to the benefit of the testimony.” In 1846, Brigham Young and his followers were driven from Nauvoo. The prophecy of James was fulfilled. Their persecutions are among some of the blackest pages in the history of a country pretending religious freedom; while at the same time driving a whole community from their homes solely based on their religious beliefs. The most somber prophesy of James was the failure of the saints to obey the will of God and the subsequent loss of the Church of Christ and in time the end of dispensation to Gentiles. Throughout the revelations and prophecies of James, there are no unconditional promises to the Gentiles. All promises to the Gentiles were conditioned with an "if." The Lord told James on January 17, 1845, "9. Be ye faithful, O ye children of the kingdom, for this is the covenant between me and you. I will remember you in mercy and in blessings IF ye serve me. And this will I do. Behold I the Lord have spoken it. I will give unto my servant James the plates of the book that was sealed, that he may translate them for you. Yea, unto the faithful, is this promise. Serve and obey me, and I will give unto him the plates of the ancient records which are sealed up, and he shall translate them unto you, and this shall be a witness between me and those that serve me; and unto my servants who serve me faithfully, yea, unto whom I will, shall he show the plates, and they shall be faithful witnesses unto me, and thus shall my words be established. (Chronicles of Voree, p. 15; Voree Herald, August 1846, p. 33) The covenant between God and the Gentile converts, like the one made under Moses, carried with it both blessings and curses (Deut. 28). All promises and covenants made with Gentile converts were conditioned with an IF, "unto the faithful is this promise." Brigham Young and the Twelve Almost two months after the death of Joseph, Brigham Young, as President of the Twelve, issued an epistle. He claimed that Joseph would never have a successor; and that the Twelve held the authority to stand at the head of the church. “You are now without a prophet present with you in the flesh to guide you; but you are not without apostles who hold the keys of power to seal on earth that which shall be sealed in heaven, and to PRESIDE OVER ALL THE AFFAIRS OF THE CHURCH IN ALL THE WORLD; being still under the direction of the same God, and being dictated by the same spirit, having the same manifestations of the Holy Ghost TO DICTATE ALL THE AFFAIRS OF THE CHURCH IN ALL THE WORLD to build up the kingdom, upon the foundation that the prophet Joseph has laid, WHO STILL HOLDS THE KEYS OF THIS LAST DISPENSATION, AND WILL HOLD THEM TO ALL ETERNITY, as a king and priest unto the highest God, ministering in heaven ON EARTH, or among the spirits of the departed dead, as seemeth good to him who sent him. “LET NO MAN PRESUME FOR A MOMENT THAT HIS PLACE WILL BE FILLED BY ANOTHER; FOR REMEMBER, HE STANDS IN HIS OWN PLACE AND ALWAYS WILL.” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p. 618) It was not until two and half years after the death of Joseph that Brigham Young admitted that only a Prophet can stand at the head of the church. He admitted their church was in an unorganized condition; and needed a prophet. “in our unorganized state… at this period of the church, THEY HAD TO SELECT A FIRST PRESIDENCY and they would admit the first argument of the apostates [James J. Strang] (viz., that the organization was not complete) was correct." See Prophetic Controversy. How was this to be realized; as God had neither called, nor ordained Brigham to the Prophetic Office? He simply held a conference in which the people took a vote and elected him by the voice of a man. “It was moved and seconded that Brigham Young should be our First President. It was carried unanimously.” (Minutes of Conference held Dec. 24, 1847) I call Brigham Young my witness. “I do not profess to be a Prophet. I never called myself so; but I actually believe I am, because people are all the time telling me I am." (Journal of Discourses, 5:177) "A person was mentioned today who did not believe that Brigham Young was a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. I wish to ask every member of this whole community if they ever heard him profess to be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, as Joseph Smith was. Who ordained me to be the First President of this Church on earth? I answer It is the choice of the people, and that is sufficient." (Ibid., 6:32) "The brethren testify that Brother Brigham is Joseph's legal successor. You never heard me say so. I say I am a good hand to keep the dogs and wolves out of the flock." (Ibid., 8:69) "It has been remarked sometimes, by certain individuals, that President Young has said in public that he was not a prophet nor the son of a prophet." (Ibid., 13:166) The will and “needs” of man do not constitute a legitimate calling to the priesthood of God. James wrote the voice of the people is not the voice of God—Crucify Him! James wrote, “...For as Aaron was called of God by the mouth of Moses, who held as high authority as that to which he called him, being both Prophet and High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec; so no man lawfully taketh the priesthood unto himself, but he that is called by the revelation of God, BY THE MOUTH OF ONE LAWFULLY IN THE PRIESTHOOD AND HOLDING AS HIGH AUTHORITY AS THAT TO WHICH HE CALLS." (Gospel Herald, Oct. 7, 1847, p. 118/170) Only a person holding a particular level of priesthood has authority from God to call another. The people have the right to recognize the First President; but, they hold no divine authority to call anyone to the priesthood. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) Brigham taught many false doctrines that also testify that he was not a Prophet of God. Among these false doctrines is the nature of God. Brigham taught that God was once a man; even Adam. "...you believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth. This I do not believe." (Ibid., 2:6) "Brother Pratt... could not believe that Adam was our God or the Father of Jesus Christ. President Young said that He was that he came from another world & made this brought Eve with him." (Wilford Woodruff's Journal, Sept. 17, 1854) "...so we had a grandfather or we would have had no father, and our grandfather had a father and grandfather and great-great-great-grandfather so far back there is no beginning - They always existed on some world - and when this world was made - our God who is Adam came and commenced the peopling of it - Though he is God and had lived and died and had been resurrected on some other planet - and obtained his exaltation and begat the Spirits of children enough to people this world." (The Teachings of President Brigham Young, Vol. 3, 1852 - 1854, Comp. and Ed. by Fred D. Collier, Collier's Publishing Co., October 1987, p. 369) On Jan. 10, 1886, Apostle Lorenzo Snow stated, "As man now is, God once was." (Journal of Discourses, 26:368) There can be nothing clearer in Scripture than God is without change. “6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal. 6) Joseph Smith taught the same as other Prophets of God before him. In Part One of the original Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph taught, “21 But it is equally as necessary that men should have the idea that he is a God who changes not, in order to have faith in him, as it is to have the idea that he is gracious and long-suffering. For without the idea of unchangeableness in the character of the Deity, doubt would take the place of faith. But with the idea that he changes not, faith lays hold upon the excellencies in his character with unshaken confidence, believing he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that his course is one eternal round.” (Lecture Three) Brigham Young simply removed Part One (Doctrine) from his Doctrine and Covenants, leaving only a Book of Commandments. James taught of the correct character and perfection of God in the Book of the Law, “The True God.” James Summons to the Twelve. “In the progress of human events, a crisis is near at hand when in all human probability the decision will rest with you and your colleagues whether, the people unto whom you and your colleagues act as leaders shall be rejected as a Church with their dead, or shall be accepted of God and bring up those who slept without the Gospel. And whether they shall be moved out of their place at the holy city, and the Temple of our God delivered to the polluting hand of the Gentile or shall be built up in the most holy order preparatory to the coming of the son of God. “I know very well that you were never ignorant of the fact that your Mission as an Apostle is sole to the nations of the earth and not to the Church, and that you hold only the keys of the opening of the Gospel to the nations and not the keys of ordinances blessings and revelations, and finally that you can do nothing, except it is under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, and can direct none but the seventies. “God by the mouth of the Prophet Joseph gave promise to his people when he established them at Nauvoo that if his people would hearken unto his voice, and unto the voice of his servants whom he had appointed to lead them, they should not be moved out of their place. That people have hearkened to the Twelve as man never before hearkened to the voice of Spiritual leaders. If you are the men appointed by God to lead the Church why is it that they are about to be moved? The desolation and destruction daily falling on the Church is attributable solely to the misgovernment of those who usurp authority therein. “I therefore solemnly admonish and direct you to cease all your usurpations in the Church: to cease to exercise any of the authorities and powers of the First Presidency of the Church and to go out and preach the gospel to the nations of the earth that have not received it. And I direct and require that you first report yourselves to the Presidency of the Church, at the Stake of Voree and there make satisfaction, for the wrongs you have done as it is said, or in the alternate to answer to charges to be preferred against you, and receive the directions for your further guidance, And give you until the first day of April next to appear there. “Done at Ottawa January thirteenth eighteen hundred and forty six, by “James J. Strang, Pres. of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. James called a meeting of the High Council and held a trial of Brigham and his followers. “Charges included “Conspiracy to overthrow the order of the Church, “Usurpation,” “Tyrannous Administration,” “Teaching False Doctrine,” and “Blasphemy;” with accompanying accusations. “It is adjudged that Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Willard Richards, and George A. Smith, be excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: their Priesthood was taken away, and they delivered over to the buffetings of Satan in the flesh. Testimonies for James God established the rule that every fact should be proved by at least two witnesses. “15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” (Deut. 19) “16 …in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” (Matt. 18) I have nine testimonies recognizing James. Here is one: Testimony of the Smith family. “Nauvoo, May 11th 1840. “My dear son, “For so I must call you; as there is little time left me I will be brief— The church has passed through much affliction, and it pains my heart that it should suffer more. The Twelve (Brighamites) have abused my son William and trampled upon my children; they have also treated me with contempt. The Lord's hand is in this to save the church; now mark it; these men are not right, God has not sent them to lead this kingdom; I am satisfied that Joseph appointed J. J. Strang. It is verily so. Now Brother Reuben I exhort you for the love you bear for the truth to hear my voice and warn the Saints concerning these things, and your reward shall be doubled in the heavenly world. This is from your mother. Lucy SmithMother in Israel. “This is to certify that We the undersigned members of the Smith family fully accord with the sentiments expressed above. W.J. SalisburyCatherine SalisburyArthur Millikin Lucy Millikin” (Voree Herald, Vol. 1, No. 6, p. 25) “I have since I returned to Nauvoo last, for the first time been appraised of an appointment made by Joseph Smith to James J. Strang. On hearing this, I took pains to gather all the evidence that could be adduced to see if there was any foundation at all for the claims of Mr. Strang. “I called in to see sister Emma, to enquire concerning the appointment. Sister Emma says that Joseph received a letter from Mr. Strang—Hyrum was present and he called in brother J. P. Green; at first Joseph thought all was not right, but Hyrum thought otherwise. They talked over matters a while and came to the conclusion that Joseph would write a letter; so Joseph and brother Green went out for that purpose. “Emma also states, that her son Joseph saw a woman come into a room in Far West Mo. and told him this church would go to Voree; the boy was only eight years old—Joseph his father was in jail at the time—the boy remembers the vision &c. Joseph before he was martyred, when on his way from the temple hill home, saw a vision, and his mother recollects that when he came home, he put his hands upon his eyes and prayed that the vision might pass and that he stated he heard as it were music in the Heavens, but the notes were low and sad as though they sounded the requiem of martyred prophets. “I remember myself that Joseph said; “My work is almost done, I feel that I shall rule a mighty host, but not in this world, the wolves are on the scent &c.” Joseph bid his wife and mother farewell saying, I am going as a lamb to the slaughter; this was his impression. And I further state that Joseph did not appoint the twelve as his successor, and I was in the last council with him and had an opportunity of knowing and hearing his sentiments in regard to these things. “I also heard Joseph say, that should the time ever come that Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball would lead this church, that they would lead it to hell. This was said in the hearing of sister Emma Smith.—The whole Smith family of the Joseph stock join in sustaining J. J. Strang. “It is to be remembered that soon after Joseph and Hyrum’s death, brother Green died, and he was heard by numerous individuals to say, that Joseph had appointed Strang. William Smith “This is to certify that the Smith family do believe in the appointment of J. J. Strang. William Smith, Patriarch.Lucy Smith, Mother in Israel.Arthur Milliken.Nancy Milliken.W. J. Salisbury.Catherine Salisbury.Sophronia McLerie. JAMES J. STRANG, THE REVELATOR James was a first-degree Apostle, Lawgiver, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator. Throughout the ministry of James, he continued to provide communication with God; and provide the will of God. Evidence of his true calling is found in the continuance of revelations from God to His people throughout the ministry of James. James wrote, “As a Seer, I have seen the visions of the Almighty, and as a Revelator has received the knowledge of his purposes and commandments, and made them known among the children of men.” (Prophetic Controversy, p. 38) James received revelations on:Revelation given January 17, 1845 (Service required of the saints)Revelation given September 1, 1845 (Voree Plates)Revelation given July 1, 1846 (Strang and House of God)Revelation given July 8, 1846 (Planting Stake at Voree)Revelation and Vision of August 25, 1846 (Beaver Island)Revelation given October 19, 1846 (Concerning Sidney Rigdon and George J. Adams)Revelation given November 6, 1846 (Aaron, Marks, young Joseph Smith)Extract from Revelation given December 21, 1846 (Concerning Kirtland)Revelation given January 7, 1849 (Church and Order of Enoch)Revelation given August 9, 1849 (Baptism For The Dead) It is not to be expected that God would continuously offer revelations to man. Why does God stop speaking to a man? “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) They are given according to the needs of man on the one hand; and the faith and obedience of man on the other. Almost all revelations of Joseph were given within five years of the organization of the church. As the people failed to obey the will of God, silence began to fall upon the people; until Joseph was taken. The people under James failed to obey the will of God, God slowly stopped speaking to them, and finally, James was taken. No more Apostles, Prophets, or High Priests—only Elders; although they have the authority to administer all the saving ordinances of the gospel. Gentiles rejected and killed the prophets sent to them. A few are to remain to help build the temple on Beaver Island and gather Israel. James provided the will of God through the various revelations given to him by God, through Pastoral Letters, through the Book of the Law of the Lord, and through his teachings. One was on Beaver Island where the saints were gathered under James and will be again when James returns as a resurrected man to gather the Lamanites of and others. Revelation given on August 25, 1846(Beaver Island) 1. I, James J. Strang, was at Elizabeth, on the Monongahela River, on the twenty‑fifth day of August, in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty‑six, and had a vision; and lo, I beheld a land amidst wide waters, and covered with large timber, with a deep broad bay on one side of it. And I wandered over it upon little hills and among rich valleys, where the air was pure and serene, and the unfading foliage, with its fragrant shades, attracted me till I wandered to bright clear waters, scarcely ruffled by the breeze. And Indians in canoes glided about, and caught fish, and sat down to eat, and they gathered in assemblies and were taught words of truth and ways of holiness, and they hearkened. And I beheld many wonders there. 2. And one came near unto me, and I said, What meaneth this? And he answered and said, Behold, here shall God establish his people, even the sons of Joseph, on an everlasting foundation; and from thence shall the gospel of the kingdom go unto the tribes, and they shall not any more be despised, for the nations that set the foot upon their necks will be cut off that they are no more a people. Behold, he hath already begun it. The sword is already bathed in blood, which spareth not their destroyers. And the blood shall not cease till their most haughty oppressor is laid low to rise no more. 3. And he hath chosen this nation to begin vengeance for them. And if these people will turn unto him, and repent of all their evil deeds, and no more slay the prophets which he sendeth unto them, but will hearken unto them to do the things which they shall speak unto them, and keep the words of the Lord, and his commandments to do them, then will he exalt the nation and establish it, for he hath raised it up by the hands of wise men, whom he set up for that very purpose, to be the instrument of his purpose in the last days. 4. And upon this land where thou standest shall the gospel of the kingdom be established among the Lamanites, and from thence shall it go forth to their tribes. And blessing and honor and great glory shall be on those that teach them, for he will make their arm strong, and their bow shall abide in strength, and they shall not bow to the oppressor; and the power of the Gentile shall not be on them, for the arm of God shall be with them to support. 5. And here shall the Lamanites come to learn the law of the Lord their God, who hath preserved them, that they are not utterly destroyed. And other barbarians shall come also, and shall learn ways of holiness; for the Lord, their God shall teach them, and his people shall instruct them, and shall go forth as ministers of truth unto all people. 6. And I asked him, What meaneth all this? And he said unto me, Thou art carried away in the spirit, and brought to this land in the midst of waters, in the north country, that the Lord might show thee what he will do hereafter. For here shall be a stake and a cornerstone of Zion, for the strengthening of her curtains round about. Here shall the house of Manasseh and the house of Ephraim and the Gentiles build a house unto me, and bow down to me therein. For the sons of Jacob shall lay the foundations thereof, and therein shall they worship their God. And to this house shall the thousands of the house of Israel come, when the ice melts at the north. And there shall they meet their brethren in peace, and God shall be in the midst of them. 7. Behold, thou shalt see this land within own eyes before thou returnest to the house, and shalt long to set thy foot upon it. Nevertheless, when the children of the household of faith have peace, then thou shalt go there and minister in the work of the Lord thy God. Spy it out, therefore, and let the servants of God dwell there to do his work, for it hath abundance in the riches of the forest, and in the riches of the earth, and in the riches of the waters; and there shall the children of God learn his law to do it. 8. And the Lord God shall add possessions unto the faithful, and give good gifts unto them that keep his law, and he will establish them therein forever. And their possession shall become as a paradise, yielding fruits every month, and the strength of Zion shall be there to do the work of the Lord, to work deliverance to the captive and judgments upon the ungodly, in the day of the Lord. For he will exalt his people in righteousness, and deliver them in judgments. And the Gentiles shall be made the instruments of his purposes, and by them will he work deliverance. The Lord will show thee all things in his time. 9. For the day is near when thou shalt meet many Lamanites, and shalt talk with them of these things. And with them shalt thou behold this land, and then shalt thou begin this work. If Satan hinder thee, strive against him, and thou shalt overcome and shalt prevail, for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Chronicles of Voree, p. 114; Zion's Reveille, January 14, 1847, p. 53) JAMES J. STRANG, THE TRANSLATOR One of the duties of a Prophet and Lawgiver is to be a translator when required. James wrote, “As a translator, I have brought forth hidden treasures, and revealed the old record to all who love the truth, and seek unto it. The visions of the past and the hidden lore of future ages are laid by the side of present hopes and future knowledge.” (Prophetic Controversy, p. 38) Among the professed successors of Joseph, James remained the only one to fulfill this duty. The first translation of ancient records by James was the Voree Record. It tells of ancient people, like the Nephites and Jaradites, who once lived on this land, “they have fallen in transgression and are not.” James also translated the single most important book of Scripture: The Book of the Law of the Lord. It is mentioned over twenty times in the Bible by name, and over five hundred times as the law of God. The law of God forms the backbone of all other books of Scripture. It was given to Adam, written on tables of stone to Moses, lost to the Bible, and restored by James. Only remnants of the law remain in the various books of the Bible. The prophet Ezekiel foretold of both the Book of Mormon and the Book of the Law. “Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.” (Ezek. 37:19) Joseph Smith was of the seed of Joseph through Ephraim. The Book of Mormon was the “stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim.” James J. Strang was of the tribe of Judah. The stick of Judah was to be translated after the stick of Joseph. The Book of the Law is a “the stick of Judah.” When James returns, all these records (including the restored Bible) will be united and serve to confound the doctrines of man. Voree Plates: The Record of Rajah Manchou of Vorito
These plates were buried very near. James and four others walked to the hill and were able to uncover a case containing the record of an ancient people, which he translated. There was an illustration showing the order of apostles.
“1. The Angel of the Lord came unto me, James, on the first day of September, in the year eighteen hundred and forty‑five, and the light shined about him above the brightness of the sun, and he showed unto me the plates of the sealed record, and he gave into my hands the Urim and Thummim. And out of the light came the voice of the Lord saying, My servant James, in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee because I have tried thee and found thee faithful. Behold, my servant James, I am about to bless thee with a great blessing, which shall be to those who love me, an immutable testimony; to those who know me not, a stumbling block; but to those who have known me and have turned their hearts from me, a rock of offense. Yea, let them beware, for shame and destruction walk in their tracks, and their time abideth, but not long.
“2. A work shall come forth, and the secrets of the past shalt thou reveal. Yea, by little and little shalt thou, reveals it, according to the ability and faithfulness of my church, and of my servant whom I have placed above them. Behold the record which was sealed from my servant Joseph. Unto thee, it is reserved. Take heed that thou count it not a light thing, nor exalt thyself lest thou be stricken; for by myself I swear that, as thou servest me faithfully and comest not short, thou shalt unlock the mysteries thereof, which I have kept hidden from the world. Yea, as my servants serve me, so shalt thou translate unto them.
“3. But in their weakness, I have not forgotten them. Go to the place which the Angel of the presence shall show thee, and there shalt thou dig for the record of my people in whose possession thou dwellest. Take with thee faithful witnesses, for in evil will the unfaithful speak of thee, but the faithful and true shall know that they are liars, and shall not stumble for their words.”
“4. We examined as we dug all the way with the utmost care, and we say, with utmost confidence, that no part of the earth through which we dug exhibited any sign or indication that it had been moved or disturbed at any time previous. The roots of the tree stuck down on every side very closely, extending below the case, and closely interwoven with roots from other trees. None of them had been broken or cut away. No clay is found in the country like that of which the case is made.
“5. In fine, we found an alphabetic and pictorial record, carefully cased up, buried deep in the earth, covered with a flat stone, with an oak tree one foot in diameter growing over it, with every evidence that the sensor can give that it has lain there as long as that tree has been growing. Strang took no part in the digging but kept entirely away from before the first blow was struck till after the plates were taken out of the case, and the sole inducement to our digging was our faith in his statement as a Prophet of the Lord that a record would thus and there be found.”
James translated the plates which included in part:“1. My people are no more. The mighty are fallen, and the young is slain in battle. Their bones bleached on the plain by the noonday shadow. The houses are leveled to the dust, and in the moat are the walls. They shall be inhabited.
“2. I have in the burial served them, and their bones in the Death‑shade, towards the sun's rising, are covered. They sleep with the mighty dead, and they rest with their fathers. They have fallen in transgression and are not, but the elect and faithful there shall dwell.
“3. The word hath revealed it. God hath sworn to give an inheritance to his people where transgressors perished. The word of God came to me while I mourned in the Death shade, saying, I will avenge me on the destroyer. He shall be driven out. Other strangers shall inhabit thy land. I an ensign there will set up. The escaped of my people there shall dwell when the flock disown the Shepherd and build not on the Rock.
“4. The forerunner men shall kill, but a mighty prophet there shall dwell. I will be his strength, and he shall bring forth thy record. Record my words, and bury it in the Hill of Promise.” (Voree Herald, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 4)
There are three prophesies given on these plates. First, the people of Rajah Manchou of Vorito transgressed the laws of God and were destroyed. God established the rule that any people living in this chosen land of Zion (America) who will not live by the law of God will be destroyed. The Jaredites failed; and were destroyed. The Nephites failed, and they were destroyed. The saints under James failed and only a very small remnant with elders remains.
Second, a mighty prophet would bring forth their record. Third, “the escaped of my people there shall dwell when the flock disown the Shepherd and build not on the Rock.” A better understanding of this prophecy is found in the letter of appointment, the revelation of James on July 8, 1846, and the Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 45.
It is evident that James was to translate the Voree Plates and establish a stake of Zion in Voree. All opportunities for the Gentiles were conditioned with an “If.” The saints failed and the gathering was moved to Beaver Island. Two-time frames are given in the letter of appointment: (1) a future time when the Gentiles turned from God and His elect people are established at Voree, and (2) when James first planted the stake at Voree. The Book of the Law of the Lord
The Book of the Law was given to Adam. He was given that part of the Book of the Law that pertains to men of every generation. Where there is no law, there can be no accounting for the transgression of the law, “13 sin is not imputed when there is no law… 15 for where no law is, there is no transgression.” (Rom. 4:15) We know that Cain fell under condemnation for not obeying the law on the feast of first fruits. When he killed his brother Able, he violated the laws “love thy neighbor as thyself” and “thou shalt not kill;” and fell under a terrible curse of the law.
Some have thought that Jesus changed the law; and through His blood offered a new law—a new covenant. “17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5)
The Apostle John also taught that the law of God was given to man in the beginning. “5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” (2 John 1)
A new gospel has been professed among the preachers of modern Babylon, “salvation by faith alone.” The supporters of this doctrine offer two passages of Scripture in their defense of changing the gospel. “5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)… 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2) They fail to realize that Paul was addressing saints of God that had already obeyed the gospel; and not unbelievers. Against this, the whole Bible stands as a witness to their error. No man can be saved while in the flesh. “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20) “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 10:22) Jesus preached the true gospel. “5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3) On the day of Pentecost—after Jesus' crucifixion--when the gospel went to gentiles, Peter made it very clear what was required before a man could have hope of salvation. “37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2)
When men were divided into those who obeyed the gospel and those who followed their own will, the obedient were called the sons of God, and the rest, the sons of men. “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose.” (Gen. 6:2) Saints of God are also known as sons of God throughout the Bible. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12) Only through obedience to the gospel can a person become a son of God. The gospel being a major part of the law of God, it had to be preached from Adam to Abraham. “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8)
There are two principles related to the spiritual law of God: (1) it was given to the first man and was to last for a thousand generations, and (2) as it is a perfect law, it can never change. “Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.” (1 Chron. 16:15) Only the temporal, added law of Moses, was given for a time. It was a punishment to Israel for their transgression at Mt. Sinai; and was to remain until fulfilled by Jesus when He was ordained a Prophet like Moses under the hands of God (Heb. 5:5, Acts 3:22)
Righteousness is submitting one’s will to that of God, loving only the Father as GOD, honoring Jesus as our Savior, loving to all, and living according to God’s law. Adam, Abel, and Noah could not have been righteous men without having the Book of the Law. It was evidently lost to Israel during the four hundred years of captivity in Egypt. Moses restored the law, written by the finger of God. Abridged, public copies, of the law, were made for use among the people.
“10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, 11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law… 24 And it came to pass when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book until they were finished, 25 That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, 26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.” (Deut. 31)
In about 640 BC, during the reign of King Josiah, the Book of the Law was discovered after it had been lost. “9 And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD. 10 And Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. 11 And it came to pass when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.” (2 Kings 22)
There was still a copy of the Book of the Law in about 440 BC. “1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate, and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. 2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law… 8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” (Nehemiah 8)
The law was still understood in the days of Jesus; although the book was lost. He constantly referred to the law and was obedient to every part of the law. “15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14) It was lost by the time the Bible was canonized near the time of Constantine.
In 600 BC, a Prophet of God, by the name of Lehi, was instructed by the Lord to depart Jerusalem. Together, with his family, he brought a copy of the Book of the Law on his journey to a promised land--the land of Zion—the isles of the sea. The northern isle is North America.
Lehi’s sons were commanded to go to the house of Laban and get the record of the Jews. Among these books was the Book of the Law. “14 And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise. 15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law. 16 And I also knew that the law was engraved upon the plates of brass.” (1 Nephi 4)
After the people arrived in Central America, they were divided into two groups: the Nephites and the Lamanites. They later migrated to North America. The Nephites were generally obedient to the law of God. The Lamanites turned from the will of God and were cursed with darkened skin. The Lamanites were the early descendants of the Native Americans.
When the Nephites also became transgressors of the law, they were destroyed by their enemies, the Lamanites, in 421 AD. The last of their people, Moroni, buried their sacred books on a hill in what is now New York State. The evil works of the Lamanites caused them to be sorely punished at the hands of the white man.
In 1827, Joseph Smith was instructed by the Lord to recover the books; and translate an abridgment of the thousand-year history of the Nephites. The first edition of the book was published in 1830. It is called the Book of Mormon.
These records also included the Book of the Law; which Joseph was not permitted to translate; as he was not of the tribe of Joseph. They were reserved for a prophet of the tribe of Judah—James J. Strang. It is from these plates that James translated The Book of the Law of the Lord. He wrote, “But of all the lost books the most important was the Book of the Law of the Lord. This was kept in the ark of the covenant and was held too sacred to go into the hands of strangers. When the Septuagint translation was made, the Book of the Law was kept back, and the Book was lost to the Jewish nation in the time that they were subject to foreign powers. The various books in the Pentateuch, containing abstracts of some of the laws, have been read instead of it until even the existence of the book has come to be a matter of doubt.
“It is from an authorized copy of that book, written on metallic plates long previous to the Babylonish captivity, that this translation is made. And being made by the same spirit by which the words were originally dictated, it is beyond doubt as perfect as the language will admit. The utmost pains have been taken to make the execution of it in all respects what it should be, and the editor flatters himself that no error has crept into the body of the work, and none of the importance into the notes. That a little ambiguity may exist in some places, by means of the ambiguous or double import of words, is not doubted. Until a perfect language exists, it is not possible that it should be otherwise.” (Book of the Law, p. VIII)
“22. The Commandments, as here given, were translated by the Prophet James, from the plates which were taken by Nephi from Laban, in Jerusalem, (B. of M. 1st Nephi i,) and brought to America, in the time of Zedekiah, King of Judah; and are the substance of the two tables, written by the finger of God in the days of Moses.
“23 Though the exact words of the two tables were never written in any book, (Josephus’ Ant. B. iii, ch. v, 4,) except that kept in the most holy place, the substance was carefully written out by the inspired Prophets, and to the paraphrases so prepared, all transcribers of repute made their copies conform.
“24. Subsequent to the Babylonish captivity, the Jews were without the Divine Tables, and the literal copy of the Law which belonged to the Sanctuary. They had only the copies used by the Prophets. These have long since been lost.” (Book of the Law, p. 43)
“The law of God requires the testimony of at least two witnesses to establish a fact. “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established.” (Matt. 18:16) James was commanded to show the plates to competent witnesses. The testimony of seven witnesses is included in the Book of the Law. “BE it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to whom this Book of the Law of the Lord shall come, that James J. Strang has the plates of the ancient Book of the Law of the Lord given to Moses, from which he translated this law, and has shown them to us. We examined them with our eyes and handled them with our hands. The engravings are beautiful antique workmanship, bearing a striking resemblance to the ancient oriental languages; and those from which the laws in this book were translated are eighteen in number, about seven inches and three-eights wide, by nine inches long, occasionally embellished with beautiful pictures.
“And we testify unto you all that the everlasting kingdom of God is established, in which this law shall be kept, till it brings in rest and everlasting righteousness to all the faithful.“SAMUEL GRAHAM, SAMUEL P. BACON, WARREN POST, PHINEAS WRIGHT, ALBERT N. HOSMER, EBENEZER PAGE, JEHIEL SAVAGE.”
The first edition of 200 copies was published in 1851 and contained 80 pages. Only a couple of copies of this edition remain. A second edition of 336 pages was printed in 1856, but James was martyred before it could be bound. The unbound copies were carried by the saints with them; when they were driven from Beaver Island. The first signature of 16 pages, containing introductory information, was lost. Subsequent reprints have used the introductory pages from the first edition. It also contains a couple of hundred pages of notes by James. Samuel E. West made the last reprint in 2000.
All of the 47 chapters of the book were translated from the plates; except (1) Chapter II, The True God, “written by the prophet James, by inspiration of God;” (2) Chapter XII, Baptism for the Dead, “a revelation from Jesus Christ, given to James J. Strang, Aug. 9th, 1849;” (3) the first six sections of Chapter XX, Calling of a King, “written by the prophet James, by inspiration of God, and the nine following sections are the words of the angel of God when he conferred upon James J. Strang the prophetic authority, and made him the chief shepherd of the flock of God on earth;” (4) Chapter XXXV, Establishment of the Law, “a revelation given Feb. 1851;” (5) Chapter XL, Feasts, “a revelation given Feb. 1851, except the first two sections;” and (6) the first three sections of Chapter XLI, Inheritances, “a revelation from God, given to James J. Strang, July 8th, 1850.”
The Book of the Law contains the everlasting covenant and principles that reveal God’s will toward man, man’s duty to God, and man’s responsibility toward his fellow man and his environment. Other laws have been given through Prophets of God for the specific guidance of each generation. It contains:(1) the Constitution of God’s law; which is the Ten Commandments,(2) a correct knowledge of God and Jesus Christ,(3) the gospel of Christ,(4) the order of the house of God,(5) laws governing the social and environmental responsibilities of man for his temporal and spiritual guidance, and(6) a couple of hundred pages of notes by James giving, as the standard expounder of the law, explanations of the law of God. Note: Many pages of the Book of the Law address the Priesthood. This has already been discussed on the page “Law of God.”
JAMES J. STRANG THE TEACHER
The greatest testimony that James was a Prophet of God is found among his teachings. All the duties of a Prophet depend on teaching. His teachings agree with all the Prophets of God before him. But more, he added to our knowledge of nearly every subject affecting our spiritual and temporal lives. He left us with a treasure of teachings on all the principles and doctrines of theology.
James embraced the concept embodied by Joseph Smith that religion should be taught as a science. Its principles and laws are as perfect and unchanging as those of other sciences. James used principles of science to prove the existence of God. Theology should be understood as that revealed science, which treats of the true nature and characteristics of God, His will towards man, man’s duty to God, and man’s duty to his fellows. The principles and doctrines taught by Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus, and all other Prophets of God on a particular subject always complement each other. “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 preaches any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1)
In his notes in the Book of the Law, James wrote, “108. In all else, the united testimony of those who have studied the facts is deemed sufficient and satisfactory proof. The facts of Geology, the facts of Astronomy, the facts of Chemistry, the facts of Botany, the facts of Zoology, are all proved by testimony like this in kind, less in accumulation. And upon facts so proved are based the principles of those sciences. The facts were thus determined. And the principles are but deductions from them.
“109. The existence of God, the Lord of the universe, a being of intelligence, motive, and will, is proved by more testimony than that of Julius Caesar. And a world of spirits is proved by more living witnesses and has been in every generation of men than can or ever could be adduced to prove the existence of one-half the species of living animals on the earth.
“110. Enter into the closet of your friends’ hearts, open the door that shame and the fear of being called superstitious have shut, induce men to speak to you as they commune with their own hearts, and how many will you find, who have never beheld the spiritual? How many have never been spoken to by the invisible? How many have never been led by the intangible?
“111. The world is now a vast crowd of living witnesses of the spiritual, shamed down to silence by the Atheistical doctrines of modern Christianity. This truth is a spring that can never be dried up.
“112. A generation shall yet arise who, taking facts as they find them, will make religion a science, studied by as exact rules as mathematics. Then will these facts be sought for as are new discoveries in Geology and Astronomy. Facts well attested will be generalized. Rules are drawn from them. Man’s prejudices will cease to minister to his blindness. The mouth of the Seer will be opened, and the whole earth enlightened.” (pp. 85, 86)
It seems that James’ whole life, after being ordained a Lawgiver, on June 27, 1844, was dedicated to the instruction of spiritual truth. He worked to build his own house, and feed, and clothe his family; although they had only a meager existence. But, the bulk of his time was dedicated to reading and teaching. He preached several times a week--with a single sermon sometimes reaching eight hours. He edited official church journals, wrote many articles, attended nearly every church conference, traveled hundreds of miles preaching the gospel, and carried on correspondence with over five hundred elders. His teachings were spread by his many travels, by those whom he instructed in righteousness, and in the many books and articles which he wrote.
Joseph Smith wrote, “What is the object of our coming into existence, then dying and falling away, to be here no more? It is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter, and it is a subject we ought to study more than any other.” (Joseph Smith’s Teachings, p. 101)
There is no subject of greater importance than a true knowledge of God and Jesus. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) “15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Ex. 3) “36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.” (Matt. 22) Jesus will soon return, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 1:8)
The subjects of God and Jesus are covered at length on pages “True and Living God” and “Do You know Jesus?” The gospel and order of God/Kingdom are covered in the “Kingdom of God.” The law of God is addressed on the page “Law of God.”
JAMES J. STRANG, THE MARTYRED PROPHET
James was aware from an early time in his ministry that his mission would have a fateful ending. Like Joseph, he offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the people. The enemies who shot him were protected by the captain of the U. S. Steamer Michigan, returned to their hometown, given a mock trial, and released--never to be prosecuted.
The fate of James was sealed the day he was ordained by the hands of angels on June 27, 1844. He realized all his life that he would seal his testimony with his own blood, and thereby become a true witness for his faith and receive the glory of a martyred Prophet and King in eternity. In a revelation given to James on August 25, 1846, God warned, “2… The sword is already bathed in blood, which spareth not their destroyers. And the blood shall not cease till their most haughty oppressor is laid low to rise no more.
“3. And he hath chosen this nation to begin vengeance for them. And if this person will turn unto him, and repent of all their evil deeds, and no more slay the prophets which he sendeth unto them, but will hearken unto them to do the things which they shall speak unto them, and keep the words of the Lord, and his commandments to do them, then will he exalt the nation and establish it, for he hath raised it up by the hands of wise men, whom he set up for that very purpose, to be the instrument of his purpose in the last days.”
It has been said that James’ Bible was opened to Micah 4 when he left for the dock where he was shot. “Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee?” In the last regular issue of the Northern Islander an article entitled “Apology for the Mormons” appeared just three weeks before James was shot. It told of the persecutions of the people since the days when Joseph first opened the dispensation. In the end, it is written, “If we live, where will we live. If we die, here will we die, and here shall our bones be buried, expecting in the resurrection of the just to possess the land forever, and dwell with the righteous during the lifetime of the Eternal.” James was shot by assassins on June 16, 1856; and died on July 9th.
On June 20, 1856, the Northern Islander published the following account of the assassination of James.
“MURDEROUS ASSAULT.“On Monday last the U. S. steamer Michigan entered this harbor at about 1 o'clock, P. M., and was visited by the inhabitants promiscuously during the afternoon.
“At about 7 o'clock Capt. McBlair sent a messenger (San Barnard, the Pilot) to Mr. Strang, requesting him to visit him on board. Mr. Strang immediately accompanied the messenger, and just as they were stepping on the bridge leading to the pier in front of F. Johnson & Co.'s store, two assassins approached in the rear, unobserved by either of them and fired upon Mr. Strang with pistols. The first shot took effect upon the left side of the head, entering a little back of the top of the ear, and rebounding passed out near the top of the head.
“This shot, fired from a horse pistol, brought him down, and he fell on the left side so that he saw the assassins as they fired the second and third shots from a revolver; both taking effect upon his person, one just below the temple, on the right side of the face, and lodged in the cheekbone; the other on the left side of the spine, near the tenth rib, followed the rib about two inches and a half and lodged.
“Mr. Strang recognized in the persons of the assassins Thomas Bedford and Alexander Wentworth. Wentworth had a revolver, and Bedford a home pistol, with which he struck him over the head and face, while lying on the ground. The assassins immediately fled on board the U. S. steamer, with pistols in hand, claiming her protection.
“The assault was committed in view of several of the officers and crew from the deck of the steamer, also Dr. H. D. McCulloch, Franklin Johnson, and others, and no effort was made to stop it.
“Mr. Strang was taken up by a few friends, and some of the officers of the boat, and carried to the house of Messrs. Prindles, where the surgeon of the steamer made an examination of his wounds, and declared recovery hopeless.
“Process was taken out for the apprehension of the assassins, and the Sheriff of the county called on Capt McBlair for their delivery. The Capt. refused to give them up, saying that he would take them to Mackinac, and deliver them into the hands of the civil authorities of the State there.
“The steamer left the next day, carrying off all the persons supposed to be complicated in the affair, thus affording military protection to murderers and overthrowing the sovereignty of civil law.
“Hopes are entertained of Mr. Strang's recovery.” (Northern Islander, June 20, 1856)James was returned to Voree; where he died on July 9, 1856, exactly twelve years after receiving the letter of appointment from Joseph Smith. Apostle Edward Chidester was with the prophet when he died. He wrote the following to Apostle Post:
Apostle Chidester Announces James’ Death
“Burlington July 14th, 56“Bro. Post“I received your letter today, and hasten to answer. If you have not received the news ahead of this, it will be sad news to you. I closed the prophet's eyes in the sleep of death the 9th of July, fifteen minutes before ten o’clock.
You inquire what to do. His direction was for every man to take care of his family and do the best he could till he found out what to do. You will understand when you receive this how to act, as well as any of us; you have it second hand, I had it from his own mouth. You state that you left word with your folks to go to Voree, they have not been here and we do know not where they are but expect they followed you. I should like to keep up a correspondence with you, and if you are of the same mind, please direct me to Dunkirk Mo.Truly sincerely in haste Chidester”(Record of the Apostles of James 1844-1856, p. 31)
Great sorrow and confusion fell upon all the saints. Those living on Beaver Island were driven from their homes, their livestock and property were stolen, and they were dropped off at the docks in Milwaukee and Chicago. Apostle Chidester wrote Apostle Post again on August 3, 1856.“Dunkirk Aug. 3d 1856“Bro. W. Post, Dear Sir:
“I received your communication of July 27th last evening, and sit down to answer it.“In the first place we are without a head to our knowledge, in the flesh, our Prophet and King have been stricken down by the hands of wicked men. The question arises what for? Was it for his transgressions, or for the transgressions of his people? I have heard men of very high standing and reputation, sitting in judgment as it were upon the head of the Prophet, & arguing that he had sinned unto death.
But I remember that Jesus Christ who was without sin, & no guile in his mouth, died for the sins of his people, not because he was a transgressor: As Jesus Christ died, has not James also? I cannot entertain the idea for a moment that he was in the transgression. When I reflect back upon his righteous, undeviating course, and his exemplary life, I feel more like putting my hand upon my mouth, than like accusing him. When Jesus Christ left, he left the Quorum of the Twelve organized, with the commission to act, and when he left finally, he left a head to the Church on earth. When Joseph Smith was taken he also left the Quorum of the Twelve & also appointed his successor; but in the present case, I know of no revelation to guide us, as to a successor. On the seventh of July, he said the active part of his life was at an end, that the bearing off of the Kingdom must devolve upon others; he felt that his ministry as Chief was done. He did not say who was to be the leader of the people, but on this day his eyes brightened, his countenance was lit up and it was observed by all, that he was a great deal better. On the eighth, he began to run down, & it seemed as though he just wilted away. I asked him if he was going to leave us: He said he was. I then asked him if we were to have a successor appointed through him. A tear started in his eye, and he said ‘I do not want to talk about it.’ Bro. Hickey & Adeline got up and I finished a letter I was writing. I helped them turn and fix him comfortable about the break of day and lay down for a nap. I lay about one hour and a half at the foot of his bed. When I awoke there was no one in the room but him & myself. I immediately arose & discovered he was dying. I nursed him very attentively for about an hour & saw no hopes of recovery when I sent for some of the neighbors. I then asked him if there was anything he wished to communicate. He replied ‘Yes’ which was the last word he spoke…
“I suppose you understand there are two Priesthoods as well as myself, and in the Priesthood of an endless life two Orders, and that the Quorum of the Twelve are the third Degree of the First Order, and can only act under the direction of their superiors. The Twelve are without a President to their Quorum, and you speak of a meeting to consult about matters that concern us all. That is what Bro. Miller, Hickey, & myself were in favor of it; but we were opposed, & no one was authorized to take the lead, so we have concluded that the trial of getting up such a meeting would be vain. (I proceed now to answer some of your questions which you deem of minor importance, but big ones I shall not attempt at this time.
“There were four hundred and ninety came on that Boat, and at Chicago, they would not let some of them ashore, so the Captain took about fifty back to Milwaukee and landed them on the Dock I left. Iowa took a load of three hundred before, & the Boat we came on about fifty, the Prairie State a load before, & the Louisville, took all she could stow to Detroit, Elvira with the rest. The widows are all at Voree. Bro. Hickey & all his family also. Phineas Wrights's wife & family were at Newell Scotts, two weeks ago, and I received a letter from Voree a few days since & no tidings of her.
“Bro Post, these are dark times, but I expect the clouds to break, and the light to burst, but know not which way to look. East, West, North, or South. I desire an interest in the prayer of all faithful Saints that I may so live that when the light comes I may see and walk therein.“Your Bro, as ever, Edward Chidester, to W. Post.” (Ibid., pp. 32-37)
Apostle Post on James’ Murder
Apostle Post gave an account of the murder of Bro. Strang and told of the circumstances of the priesthood following his death. “I will now sketch a few things relative to Church history as I have noted them down from time to time as opportunity offered.
“The Prophet endured his persecutions, & afflictions so patiently, the Lord declared him ‘More patient than Job, and Meeker than Moses’ he also conferred on him the Keys of the Kingdom, never to be taken from him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.
“Notwithstanding God’s promises unto him; many were ready to find fault with him, for doing certain things, to accomplish what the Lord had promised in multiplying &c. Persecution has never ceased in the Church & Kingdom and all that live godly shall suffer persecution. The Law requires the Saints to dress in a manner that is seemly, and not according to the follies of the Gentile Nations--and in consequence of the King requiring obedience to that law--cruel enemies arose and conspired against his life--the people were divided in sentiment--some determining to have their own way--while others remembered the covenants, they had made to keep God’s law. Some were chastised for their wickedness: cut off from the Church: and straightway set to work to overthrow the Kingdom as it existed upon Beaver Island. Some of the leaders in the sedition (viz) Hezekiah D. McCulluch, Franklin Johnson, Dr. Aikinside, Alexander Wentworth, Thomas Bedford, and others, were determined to take the life of the King; and McCulloch went from the Island to enlist men in his crusade against the Church, and prevailed insomuch, that the U. N. S. Steamer Michigan came into the harbor, apparently for the very purpose of killing the Prophet of God. Said McCulloch made over his property unto one of the officers to prevent the Saints from collecting their dues of him. McCulluch brought home several pistols, which he gave to his clique, so that they might become expert marksmen. It so happened that after several days of practice in shooting at targets, the iron Steamer came again into the Bay. Then was the time for their hellish plot to be executed: the King must be slain, & some of the principal men arrested if they could be found. McCulluch had given in the names of the Chief men of the Island, for the purpose of having them arrested, that if possible there might be a complete overthrow of the Kingdom.
“The plot was conducted on this wise after some of the officers went and conferred with McCulluch in his house, & two of the officers made a short excursion into the Island--Capt. McBlair sent the Pilot to the Prophets house, requesting him to go on board the man of war: he accordingly started, being somewhat cast down in mind in relation to what was transpiring around him: they went conversing by the way, & as they were about stepping upon the bridge leading to McCulluch Johnson’s Pier, about 4 rods East, and in front of McCulloch’s Store, Wentworth, & Bedford stepped out of the Store, & came up hastily behind the Prophet, & without being seen by him; Wentworth fired a revolver at the back part of his head, the ball passed through his hat, and grazed the skull bone, dividing an artery, making an incision 1 1/2 inches long, glanced out again through the hat: this felled the Prophet to the ground but he had the presence of mind to raise his head instantly, to see who it was that shot him, & he saw Wentworth about 3 feet from him, who instantly shot at him again, the second ball went into the right cheek bone about 1 inch from the eye, this seemed to stun him: then Bedford immediately fired a marine pistol into his back as he partly rolled over, which entered near the back bone, and struck on the left side on the tenth rib & passed two or 3 inches along the rib & it was not ascertained what became of any of the balls, they were none of them seen. The last mentioned ball injured the spine so that the Prophet had no sensation of any part of his body, below where the ball struck. Bedford then struck the Prophet over the right eye, & angling over the lower part of the nose and chin. The murderers then ran on board the Iron Steamer Michigan, which lay tied to said Pier; and immediately claimed the protection of said officers, which was readily granted. Wentworth exclaimed on entering said Boat “that damned rascal is out of the way” and someone of the crew asked who? “Strang the dammed son of a bitch” was the reply. The friends of the Prophet such as who happened to be in hearing of the pistols ran to the scene of action and found the Prophet weltering in his blood. They immediately took him into Bro. Prindle’s house & rendered him every assistance in their power.
“The officers and surgeon of the Boat, came ashore, & feigned to act sorrowful, and rendered some little assistance. Many of the Chief Brethren were immediately notified of what had occurred and came running together to see what was to be done under such awful circumstances. The Prophet was not in a condition to give any counsel in the matter: but such of the brethren of the Twelve & Counselors, as could be obtained, conferred together upon the course to be pursued. This murder took place on Monday evening about 6, o’clock, of the 16th day of June A. D. 1856: the same night, General George Miller, drew up an Epistle of Manitue county requesting the Captain and officers of said Boat to come ashore & meet in Council with the before mentioned company, in the Printing Office to determine the best course to be pursued in relation to Wentworth, & Bedford. The Sheriff received in reply that the prisoners were in safe custody & would be carefully kept until they could deliver into the hands of the first civil authority in Mackinac, and if we had any particular business with him (the Capt. of the Boat) we must come on Board the Steamer. The following morning Capt. & some of his Officers came again to visit the Prophet; and said they were sorry that the Mormons had shot him while their Boat lay in the harbor. The King then made a demand of the Captain for those murderers; but the Capt. refused to give them up, replying, about as he had before unto the counselors.
“The Surgeon pronounced the wounds mortal & said Mr. Strang could not survive them. About 10, o’clock of the 17th after getting on board the murderers & conspirators, nearly all of them, with some of their effects left the Harbor; leaving the saints to get along with their wounded Prophet the best way they could. The Saints rendered every assistance unto their King, which was in their power, & often called upon the Lord to speedily restore him in health unto them. By the blessing of the Almighty & the faith & works of the Saints, the Prophet's life was lengthened out marvelously. The saints believed God would heal him, even is “his visage was marred more than that of any man, and his form more than the Sons of Men.” We hoped he would remain alive on the Earth until the coming of Jesus Christ, in the Clouds of heaven with power and great glory. In the meantime, while the saints were bearing up under their afflictions, with becoming greatness, their enemies were still plotting their destruction. The murderers were taken to Mackinac; & Wentworth, & Bedford, were put into jail, & kept there for about five minutes, & then released. About the 25th of the same month, the Steamer Michigan Capt. Steward Martin, called as usual at the Island & McCulloch was seen on Board, while on their way to Green Bay; in a day or two the Steamer returned, & called as usual at the Island; they at first landed at the head, at B. G. Wrights dock to wood, & commenced arresting some of the brethren. Ezra Ketchum and Samuel Wright. The Boat then set off for the harbor at St. James. As soon as they landed at McCulloch’s dock, they commenced arresting such of the brethren as were in sight, (viz) Samuel E. Field, Robert Nichols, Harvey Black, & Lewis Briggs. Samuel E. Field was fired upon by the mob which consisted of McCulloch, & Johnson, A. Wentworth, T. Bedford, Christopher Scott, Conrad Steinhelber (all apostates), and a number from Washington Island. Two or three that prophesied to be saints apostatized & went off on said Steamer: they also threatened to take the Prophet dead or alive: but the saints began to gather to see what the uproar was about, and the Steamer set off for Mackinac. It was then counseled for Br. Strang to take the first Boat up the Lake to Voree. It was also advised, for others of the Saints such as the mob pretended to have warrants to keep out of their way until the excitement was over, & until the prophet recovered his health, so he could prosecute our enemies, and bring them to justice according to law, even the law of the land.
“On the 28th the Prophet left the Island on the Propeller Louisville, with a number of brethren to take care of him. On the 30th several families left on board Iowa for Voree and the adjacent country. On the 3d. of July the mob from Mackinac, made their appearance on the Island, having the Sheriff with them to arrest some of the chief men among the saints if they could be found; but they were directed by the Spirit to take care of themselves: and they left the Island without the help of mobs. The mob then gave notice to all the faithful Saints that they must leave the Island forthwith.“And the saints were immediately forced upon the Piers, to await an opportunity of getting away.
“The conduct of the mob which consisted of about 60 ruffians, gathered from the regions round about; and the suffering of the Saints in consequence of the cruelty of the mob, is beyond the power of description. On the 8th of July, the balance of the faithful left the Island on board the Steamer Buckeye State, (which was chartered by H. D. McCulloch for that purpose,) for the several Ports up the Lake. On the 9th of July, the Prophet James died. He was buried by his friends, who deeply mourned the death of their Prophet & King. Thus ended the life of James the beloved of the Lord. He was 43, years, 3 months, and 18 days old. He bore his sufferings with great patience, & as far as we know as innocent as a lamb, and had patience like Job, & meeker than Moses, and the wisdom of Solomon. Since the days of Jesus Christ upon the earth, there has been none to excel him. He was carefully trained while under his parents; and after being called of God to obey the gospel, being initiated into the Church and Kingdom by the prophet Joseph, and ordained by Hyrum the Patriarch, he was careful in observing God’s law, and keeping his commandments, as a man could be. He has translated the Book of the Law of the Lord, & caused it to be printed; which Law is to be kept by the Saints until everlasting righteousness is brought in. The prophet was faithful unto his friends, & too merciful unto his enemies for his own safety.” (Ibid., pp. 37-44)
No Successor, No Head
At the death of James, only third-degree Apostles remained. God did not call an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver to succeed James. James explained the only office that can succeed a Lawgiver at the head of the people is a second-degree Apostle. Although such would not have authority to give commandments to the people, he could act in a Judicial and Administrative capacity.
“1. As Viceroy, this Priesthood is capable of ruling in place of a Lawgiver in matters of administration and judgment. If there was an interregnum in the Priesthood of Lawgiver, the oldest Apostle of this Degree, associated in the administration, or if none was associated, then the oldest in fact would stand at the head till the place was filled.
“2. Joshua succeeded Moses under this rule, having been ordained to only a part of Moses’ authority. (Num. xxvii, 18-23. Josh. I, 1, 2.) By that example Sidney Rigdon had a just claim, as against Brigham Young, to stand at the head, after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and his Counsellor Hyrum. The only reason his claim was not absolutely valid was, that a successor was duly appointed and ordained.” (Book of the Law, p. 219)
Only third-degree Apostles remained after the death of James. Apostle Chidester wrote to Apostle Post on August 3, 1856: “In the first place we are without a head to our knowledge, in the flesh, our Prophet and King have been stricken down by the hands of wicked men… I suppose you understand there are two Priesthoods as well as myself, and in the Priesthood of an endless life two Orders, and that the Quorum of the Twelve is the Third Degree of the First Order, and can only act under the direction of their superiors. The Twelve are without a President to their Quorum, and you speak of a meeting to consult about matters that concern us all. That is what Bro. Miller, Hickey, & myself were in favor of; but we were opposed, & no one authorized to take the lead, so we have concluded that the trial of the getting up such a meeting would be vain.” (Record of the Apostles of James, p. 33)
Apostle Post in his account of the murder of James told of the circumstances of the priesthood following his death. “We are now left without any higher in the Priesthood than the Quorum of the Twelve, (unless God retains Joseph the land in his calling.) He did not tell who should succeed him as the Chief Shepherd of the flock; neither did he instruct the Apostles as to their duty, any farther than to take the best care of their families they could, until it was shown them what to do. Some of the Twelve attempted to get up a conference on the 6th of October (same year) and but few attended, & there was not much done for the relief of the Church.”
“Again on the 6th of December there was another Conference appointed; but the poverty of the Saints, and the inclemency of the weather, prevented there being much done at that Conference. The Saints being anxious to obtain the word of the Lord, concerning them, and the cause of Zion, proposed a fast: and the last day of the year 1856 was kept by some of them as a day for fasting and prayer. The day was not kept, only by a few, for the people are determined to do what seemeth right in their own eyes. There were five of the Apostles, that met together (viz) L. D. Hickey, L. D. Tubbs, J Pearce, J. Hutchins, & W. Post on the 10th of Feb. 1857, in the wilderness 6 miles from Racine, and there prayed and communed with each other all night. We became satisfied, that the Twelve could not lead the Church without a Prophet; and concluded to take care of ourselves & families; and when occasion offered; minister to the necessities of the Saints, according to our abilities, until we have the word of the Lord to guide us on to other duties. This is truly a time of mourning, & fasting; for God has chastened us sorely for our sins, & we know not the extent of our sins, for God has not shown them unto us.
“The faithful among us are determined to wait upon the Lord, and trust in his Mercies: for his mercy endureth forever.” (Ibid., 44-46)
L. D. Hickey was the last of the Twelve. He died on April 25, 1897. All of the Apostles understood that the church was not organized without a Prophet; and that none could stand at the head. It is contrary to the laws of God for any person—other than members of the First Presidency—to attempt to govern and regulate the church independently without the supervision of the Presidency. The Twelve under Joseph were rebuked for making such an attempt.
James taught, “I am aware also that the Twelve claims in their first Apostolic letter after the death of Joseph to preside over and dictate all the affairs of the Church in all the world.
“This claim is not only utterly unsupported by anyone's testimony but is on many points directly contrary to the word of God. The Twelve are traveling and not a local or general High Council and though they are required to build up the Church and regulate the affairs thereof in all nations they are to do so expressly under the direction of the Presidency of the Church agreeable to the institution of heaven.” (Voree Herald, No. 1)
Wingfield Watson lived on Beaver Island at the time the saints were driven from the Island. He was ordained a High Priest by L. D. Hickey on April 18, 1897—about a week before Hickey’s death. L. D. Hickey was authorized to ordain evangelical High Priests in large branches of the church according to revelation. “It is the duty of the Twelve, in all large branches of the church, to ordain evangelical ministers [High Priests], as they shall be designated unto them by revelation.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 107:39) This order generally passes from father to eligible son.
On April 14, 1919, Watson wrote Milo M. Quaife, who was compiling a history of the Strangites, of the sad condition of the people in his day. “To be short, we have been through the fire and through water through reproach and persecution, through the spoiling of our goods, and poverty, and exile and in peril amongst false brethren and apostates; and because of these things, we have been compelled to search and investigate as we never had done before, and have been well rewarded… But as you inquire how the organization under Mr. Strang has been kept up since his death, I can only say that this organization has not been well kept up, from the circumstances in which we were placed; for when Mr. Strang was taken from us, most of us were as little children suddenly left without father or mother… Where there was an Elder who remained faithful, he taught his children and grandchildren, baptized them into the faith, preached the gospel to his neighbors also, and baptized any who were willing to receive the gospel. Besides the office of the apostle, there is also the office of the High Priest and Elder, who holds the right to preach the gospel and administer its ordinances. It was not in the nature of things, to be expected that we could do great work, for nearly all the men had families dependent upon them for support, and Mr. Strang's last advice and counsel to us, was to let every man take care of himself and his family, and do the best he can until he is informed further what he shall do.”
JAMES J. STRANG, THE DELIVERER
James J. Strang was identified by God as a deliverer of both Gentiles and the House of Israel. His dual missions were first identified by Joseph Smith in the Letter of Appointment--one in the present and the other in the future. James knew from the beginning of his ministry that his mission to the Gentiles would fail. Yet, he worked with every drop of energy he could muster in the hope that somehow the dispensation would not fail.
Prophecy identifies him establishing a refuge for the Gentiles and then losing his life, during his mission to the Gentiles. His second mission [resurrected] will be in power to deliver those few saints who survive the final desolation, gather the House of Israel, and stand as Judge and Destroyer to the nations of the world. A similar dual mission was given to Joseph (See The Evening and Morning Star, Vol. 1, No. 6) This dual role is noted in the Letter of Appointment, the Revelations of James, and the Book of the Law of the Lord. The failure of the Gentiles to live by the law of God brought the death of James and the scattering of the people. Only a very few are prophesied to survive and be alive when Jesus returns (Isa. 1:8).
The covenant between God and the Gentile converts, like the one made under Moses, carried with it both blessings and curses. James's first mission to the Gentiles included promises that were always conditioned with an “if.” Reference the Revelations of James. "5 If ye will not live by it, the promise is not unto you. It is a vain thing for you to witness my word, if ye will not regard it, to live by it." "…unto the faithful is this promise." The “If” limitation exists at least thirty-seven times in the revelations of James.
It has been said that "if" is the longest word in the dictionary. For the Gentiles, it became the most terrible word; because they would not. James wrote, “But in this matter, I think you can discover evidence of the peculiar justice of God's judgments. The time is hastening when he will cut off the gentiles as he did the Jews. And as he judged the Jews out of their own mouths, so will he judge the gentiles. Christ came to the Jews as their king. They rejected him, saying, ‘let his blood be on us and on our children.’
“And when the times of the gentiles are come in, that they fully reject this testimony, as the Jews rejected Christ, then, as surely as God has destroyed Israel with all the curses which he pronounced by the MOUTH OF MOSES, so surely will he take those curses off from Israel and put ALL OF THEM UPON THE GENTILES.” (Zion’s Reveille, Vol. 2, No. 26, p. 107/159)
Revelations made to the house of Israel were given as unconditional promises. James J. Strang will be a Deliverer, Judge, and Destroyer, shortly before the dreadful day of the Lord. He will be a Deliverer to the very small remnant of the Gentiles and to the House of Israel.
“13. In righteousness shalt thou rule: thou shalt redeem the poor and the needy from suffering and violence, and to thee, God giveth judgment for them. Thou shalt deliver the prey from the spoiler; for God, thy God, hath put them in thy hand.
“14. And in weakness will he make thee strong. Thou shalt rule among his people. Thou shalt break in pieces the rod of the oppressor, and the yoke of the unjust ruler. They shall flee away, but the way of peace shall they not find.
“15. While the day of the wicked abideth, shalt thou prepare a refuge for the oppressed, and for the poor and needy. Unto thee shall they come, and their brethren who are scattered shall come with them, and the destruction of the ungodly shall quickly follow; for it already worketh. Go thy way, and be strong.” (Book of the Law, p. 171)
He will be a Judge and Destroyer of those disobedient to the laws of God. "13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion [church in America]: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth." (Ibid., p. 203)
Bro. Strang evidently understood, during most of his mission, that the Gentile dispensation would fail. Micah 4 addressed him. "8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion [July 8, 1850]; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem." Truly the first dominion of the last days was given through James, the "Tower of the Flock." He was saddened by the events of the coming days; as the daughter of Zion was to lose her king and counselors and be scattered among the Gentiles. "9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee [James]? is thy counselor [Apostles and High Priests] perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail." There was the only hope for a very small remnant, "10 Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies." The worth is to be delivered; when James begins his next mission.
During his ordination to the office of elder, Bro. Hyrum Smith spoke, "I perceive by the spirit which is within me that thou shalt carry the gospel with the Spirit like flaming fire to many nations, and by thee shall God save the pure of his people." (Chronicles of Voree, p. 6) Does this not, most likely, speak of the time when he gathers the seed of Joseph [Ephraim and Manassas] in Zion?
These prophecies closely relate to other revelations of events that are to transpire near the second coming of Christ. "14. Thou shalt rule among his people. Thou shalt break in pieces the rod of the oppressor, and the yoke of the unjust ruler. They shall flee away, but the way of peace shall they not find." (Ordination, Book of the Law, p. 171)
The vision of James on June 18, 1844, when the prophet Joseph Smith wrote the letter of appointment, describes a time when the city of Voree would again be established as an inheritance for the saints. Bro. Strang's revelations concerning the House of Israel during the last dispensation are promises. It obviously addresses the next dispensation and contains no "ifs."
"1...and the lands round about were covered with many houses and gardens, and there were streets, and shops, and people; even a city of many inhabitants. And the city was built of stone, and there were few houses of brick and less of wood, and the gardens were many, and a few houses were very great, and their inhabitants many.
"2. There was a change in the vision, and the people with a lively pace and smiling countenances thronged the streets and passed by.
"3. There was another change, and they were all assembled in a vast hall, and James J. Strang, surrounded by wise men and counselors and priests and eloquent orators, arose and taught the people; and the Spirit of prophecy witnesseth unto him, so shall it be; and the vision ended, and he was strengthened but his faith was weak." (Voree Herald, August 1846, p. 33)
There was never a time in Voree during the mortal life of James when these events were realized. The people failed to gather, failed to build the house of God, and failed to build the Tower of Strength. There was never a time that there was "a vast hall" in which, "wise men and counselors and priests and eloquent orators, arose and taught the people." This is a promise to the house of Israel and not to the disobedient Gentiles.
The Letter of Appointment prophesied two time periods. The first addressed the house of Israel and promises without the "ifs." It begins, "and I will establish it; and there shall my people have peace and rest and shall not be moved, for it shall be established on the prairie on White River, in the lands of Racine and Walworth; and behold my servants James and Aaron shall plant it, for I have given them wisdom, and Daniel shall stand in his lot on the hill beside the river, looking down on the prairie, and shall instruct my people, and shall plead with them face to face.
"Behold my servant James shall lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes of Zion, and my servant Aaron shall be his counselor, for he hath wisdom in the gospel, and understandeth the doctrines, and erreth not therein.
"And I will have a house built unto me there of stone, and there will I show myself to my people by many mighty works, and the name of the city shall be called Voree, which is, being interpreted, garden of peace, for there shall my people have peace and rest and wax fat and pleasant in the presence of their enemies.
But I will again stretch out my arm over the river of waters, and on the banks thereof shall the house of my choice be."
The Temple was never built, God did not "show me to my people by many mighty works," and during James's first mission, the gathering was moved. The Gentile people of Voree failed. The peace they could have enjoyed was lost.
The second section addressed James’ mission to the Gentiles and was conditioned with "ifs." The blessings they could receive were clearly dependent upon obedience. "BUT NOW the city of Voree shall be a stronghold of safety to my people, and they that are faithful and obey me I will there give them great prosperity, and such as they have not had before, and unto Voree shall be the gathering of my people, and there shall the oppressed flee for safety, and none shall hurt or molest them.
"And by this shall they know that I have spoken it; the people there and the owners of the land shall show kindness to them, for great calamities are coming on the church, and such as have not been, and if they scatter, the ungodly of the world shall swallow them up, but IF they gather to my city of Voree there will I keep them under the shadow of my wings, and the cities from whence my people have been driven shall be purged with a high hand, for I will do it, and my people shall be again restored to their possession; but dark clouds are gathering, for the church is not yet wholly purged.
"And now I command my servants, the Apostles and Priests and Elders of the Church of the Saints, that they communicate and proclaim this, my word, to all the saints of God in all the world, that they may be gathered unto and round about the city of Voree and be saved from their enemies, for I will have a people to serve me.
"And I command my servant, Moses Smith, that he go unto the saints with whom he is acquainted, and unto many people, and command them in my name to go unto my city of Voree, and gain inheritances therein, and he shall have an inheritance therein, for he hath left all for my sake; and I will add unto him much fold if he is faithful, for he knows the land and can testify to them that it is very good.
"So spake the Almighty God of heaven. Thy duty is made plain, and if thou lackest wisdom, ask of God, in whose hands I trust thee, and he shall give thee unsparingly, for if evil befall me thou shalt lead the flock to pleasant pastures. God sustain thee."
James’ Ordination on June 27, 1844, beginning with verse 4, addresses a future dispensation to the house of Israel. The first three verses address his mortal life. "4. Thou shalt save his people from their enemies when there is no arm to deliver, and shalt bring salvation when destruction walketh in the house of thy God. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore thy God hath anointed thee with oil and set thee above all thy fellows.
"5. Thy words shall be like sharp arrows in the heart of the wicked. Thou shalt rebuke those who pervert the word of thy God. Thou shalt preach righteousness and the sublime mysteries in the ears of many people, and shall bring the gospel to many who have not known it and to the nations afar off.
"6. Thou shalt drive backward and put to shame those that do evil, and the workers of iniquity shall fall. They shall be cast down and shall not be able to rise. With purity will the Lord thy God arm thee, and purity and truth shalt thou teach.
"7. Keep the law of the Lord thy God in thy heart, and none of thy steps shall slide. With thee is the fountain of truth. In thy light shall the people of thy God see, for thou shalt speak his word unto them, and from thy lips shall they receive it.
"8. The blessing of their God shalt thou put upon them, and his curse upon evil-doers, if, after being oft rebuked, they repent not; and before my people shalt thou go to lead them into my ways, for unto thee has the Lord thy God-given salvation.
"9. In righteousness shalt thou rule. Thou shalt redeem the poor and the needy from suffering and violence, and to thee, God giveth judgment for them. Thou shalt deliver the prey from the spoiler, for God, thy God, hath put them in thy hand.
"10. And in weakness will he make thee strong. Thou shalt rule among his people. Thou shalt break in pieces the rod of the oppressor and the yoke of the unjust ruler. They shall flee away, but the way of peace shall they not find.
"11. While the day of the wicked abideth, shalt thou prepare a refuge for the oppressed and for the poor and needy. Unto thee shall they come, and their brethren who are scattered shall come with them, and the destruction of the ungodly shall quickly follow, for it already worketh. Go thy way and be strong." (Voree Herald, August 1846, p. 33)
Similar language is used elsewhere to describe the final gathering of Zion. When the words of the ordination are read in their proper context, it is apparent that the time addressed is near the second coming of Christ.
Compare this refuge, gathering, and deliverance to that spoken of in other places. "Here shall the house of Manasseh and the house of Ephraim and the Gentiles build a house unto me, and bow down to me therein. For the sons of Jacob shall lay the foundations thereof, and therein shall they worship their God. And to this house shall the thousands of the house of Israel come, when the ice melts at the north. And there shall they meet their brethren in peace, and God shall be in the midst of them." (Revelation of James, August 25, 1846)
The Revelation of James, January 17, 1845, was given to the Gentiles and was conditional. Verse 2, begins with an absolute command, "Let all the saints humble themselves before me, and obey my commandments." Verse 3, continues, "I will reward the faithful." Verse 4: "those whose hearts are set for gain...have their reward." Verse 5: "The reward of the righteous is with me." Verse 6: "I require of all who have received the priesthood." Verse 7: "Yea, verily, and the reward of the faithful is with me." Verse 9: "I will remember you in mercy and in blessings if ye serve me."
The Revelation of James, September 1, 1845, repeats the warning of obedience. "…those to whom I have revealed myself, let them hearken unto me now lest they be cast off in the day of my indignation.” "He that rejecteth them, will I reject when I come in my kingdom." These warnings should be enough to bring an icy chill to any who believes in the works of James.
The Record of Rajah Manchou of Vorito has not been fulfilled. It will be realized, "when the flock disown the Shepherd and build not on the Rock." This obviously refers to the Gentiles; when they "perceive not the light" and "turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men" “and in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 45:29, 30) The Gentiles had an opportunity to inherit this blessing, but they would not. "…if ye do all these things, dominion shall be given unto you, and Daniel the prophet shall proclaim the kingdom of your God, and shall call forth the saints to possess it." (Revelation, July 1, 1846) The Gentiles failed. The fullness of the gospel will be restored to God's chosen people, and they will inherit the blessing.
“The escaped of my people there shall dwell.” In the Letter of Appointment, Joseph Smith prophesied of the future city of Voree, “I will establish it; and there shall my people have peace and rest and shall not be moved, for it shall be established on the prairie on White River, in the lands of Racine and Walworth; and behold my servants James and Aaron shall plant it, for I have given them wisdom, and Daniel shall stand in his lot on the hill beside the river, looking down on the prairie, and shall instruct my people, and shall plead with them face to face.” James will have a role in the establishment of this future city.
The Revelation of James, July 1, 1846, was given almost entirely to the Gentiles. Only Verse 2, spoke of a time to come, "if he fails not of his meekness, and obeys my commandments, and remembers to keep all my precepts, I will lift up his head to redeem the oppressed and to give comfort to the poor among all people. Upon thrones shall he sit, and the scepter shall be in his hand, and he shall lift up an ensign to all the earth."
It is full of the strictest commands and conditions to the Gentiles. In verse 7, "if my people will build a house unto me according to my commandments, and will not be slothful therein, but will make speed to build, then will I endow them, even so many as are faithful and obey me and hearken to my words and to the words of my servants whom I have appointed to be their leaders. But to the disobedient and rebellious will I not give power."
Verse 8: "whosoever will not abide the preparation faithfully, shall not be blessed... shall receive of the wrath of God."
This house of God was a work for trying the people. Verse 9: "Therefore is the blessing withheld till they humble themselves, and hearken to the voice of truth.
This house on the Hill of Promise, "is the beginning of the preparation whereby the poor may be exalted, and the oppressed lifted up, and all my servants made equal in their temporal things; for unless they are one in their temporal things, the fullness of my Spirit shall be withheld from them."
Verse 11: offered a blessing for building the tower of strength. "if ye do all these things, dominion shall be given unto you, and Daniel the prophet shall proclaim the kingdom of your God, and shall call forth the saints to possess it."
The last four verses warned of evil spirits that had gone forth among the people. It held an equally ominous warning, "unless ye do these things, ye cannot receive the blessings."
The Revelation and Vision of James on August 25, 1846, primarily addressed a future time and the gathering of the sons of Joseph and Jacob. It speaks of, "where the air was pure and serene, with unfading foliage," and "fruits every month." This could only be at a time when the earth becomes tropical again with the restoration of all things. Contemplate the magnificence, "2 here shall God establish his people, even the sons of Joseph, on an everlasting foundation; and from thence shall the gospel of the kingdom go unto the tribes, and they shall not any more be despised."
"4 upon this land where thou standest shall the gospel of the kingdom be established among the Lamanites... "5 And here shall the Lamanites come to learn the law of the Lord their God... 6 the Lord might show thee what he will do hereafter... And to this house shall the thousands of the house of Israel come... 7 when the children of the household of faith have peace, then thou shalt go there and minister in the work of the Lord thy God... 8 And their possession shall become as a paradise, yielding fruits every month, and the strength of Zion shall be there to do the work of the Lord, to work deliverance to the captive and judgments upon the ungodly, in the day of the Lord… 6 Here shall the house of Manasseh and the house of Ephraim and the Gentiles build a house unto me, and bow down to me therein. For the sons of Jacob shall lay the foundation thereof, and therein shall they worship their God. And to this house shall the thousands of the house of Israel come, when the ice melts in the north. And there shall they meet their brethren in peace, and God shall be in the midst of them."
Verse 3 stands alone to the Gentiles, "if these people will turn unto him, and repent of all their evil deeds, and no more slay the prophets..." James was told that during the Gentile dispensation, “shalt thou begin this work.” He was to complete the work when the harvest dispensation to the house of Israel is opened. “While the day of the wicked abideth, shalt thou prepare a refuge for the oppressed and for the poor and the needy. Unto thee shall they come, and their brethren who are scattered shall come with them, and the destruction of the ungodly shall quickly follow, for it already worketh.” (Ordination of James, Book of the Law, p. 171)
The Revelation of James on January 7, 1849, was given to the Gentiles. It, again, is filled with the most dreadful warnings. "1 Behold, ye shall be one; and if ye are not one, ye are none of the mines... Ye are cursed; ye are confounded because ye have many tongues... 3 Ye have broken my commandments, and despised mine authority and my precepts have been to you a vain thing... 5 If ye will therefore possess these things, remember my law, to keep it... It is a vain thing for you to witness my word, if ye will not regard it, to live by it... 6 I will yet bless them, and will give them the kingdom if they abide in well doing... 7 Whosoever will not do it, shall not enter into the house of the Lord... 9 If they are faithful unto me, my strength shall shield them and prosper them... 10 if they do not walk in my ways more perfectly, I will yet cast them off... 11 Remember that all that ye possess is mine... 12 ye shall console and strengthen one another... 15 And I have a great work for him [James] to do, and with speed shall he do it, if ye uphold him in faith and confidence and prayer... 18 my servants the Apostles have not filled their mission in preaching my gospel to the nations of the earth, but have betaken themselves to their own work... 19 For your enemies shall be upon you, and ye shall flee before them if ye turn not to me to be faithful."
The Book of the Law offers more prophecy on the dominion of James during the next dispensation to the house of Israel. “Establishment of the Law” is a revelation given through James in Feb. 1851. This chapter clearly addresses a future time. "1. FEAR not, little flock, for your Father, in his good pleasure, hath given you the Kingdom; the dominion is yours forever; ye shall smite the nations with a continual stroke; for the Lord, your God hath spoken it: ye shall break them in pieces, and destroy them; for the day of his vengeance has come."
“2. He hath judged the nations that are near and decreed destruction upon them, and their day continueth not: the nations far away are covered with their abominations as with a garment: their iniquities are not hidden: he will not spare them.
“3. The Saints of the former days have sat in judgment upon them; they have judged the earth, and the nations thereof shall not be spared; fire goeth before: famine followeth after; and the pestilence shall waste them.”
"4. Arise and smite them, O Daughter of Zion; and thou, O Tower of the Flock [James], whose power is above the clouds, possess thy dominion, and be thou a refuge: for Judah shall be bent, in his strength; as an arrow, Ephraim shall fill him: Manasseh shall be his barb; and Jacob shall be in the midst of the Gentiles, in the empire of nations, as a Lion among the beasts of the forest; as a young Lion in the flocks of sheep, who, when he goeth through, treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none shall deliver."
The rest of the chapter refers to events yet future, "5 Let your fear be upon all men... 6 he shall gather them as sheaves of the floor... 7 Arise and thrash... 8 Babylon the Great shall perish... 10 Let not her days be prolonged... 11 For by this Law shall men be judged in the portion of Joseph... 13 speak of this Law to your neighbors, and to your wives, and to your children, and to your servants… 15 For by this Law hath the Lord your God sanctified you and given you judgment, and justice, and dominion.”
“16 Keep, therefore, this Law, and obey these Commandments; for so doth God sanctify you, and so will he establish you, and prosper you, more abundantly than in former days. The land of Joseph shall ye possess forever, and Israel and Judah shall dwell again upon their own mountains.
“17 Your vineyards, your gardens, and your orchards, ye shall plant again, and they shall flourish, and ye shall eat the fruit thereof: ye shall build houses, and shall inhabit them; and children’s children shall be in them, for a crown of glory to you, if ye remember the Lord your God, whose name is great and glorious, and keep his statutes.”
The next dispensation, to the house of Israel, will be one of dominion, power, and judgment. “15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen [“goi,” also translated gentile]: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. 17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness, and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” (Obad. 1)
Throughout the revelations and prophecies of James, there were no unconditional promises to the Gentiles. Promises to the Gentiles were always conditioned with an "if." The Lord told James on January 17, 1845, "9. Be ye faithful, O ye children of the kingdom, for this is the covenant between me and you. I will remember you in mercy and in blessings IF ye serve me. And this will I do. Behold I the Lord have spoken it. I will give unto my servant James the plates of the book that was sealed, that he may translate them for you. Yea, unto the faithful, is this promise. Serve and obey me, and I will give unto him the plates of the ancient records which are sealed up, and he shall translate them unto you, and this shall be a witness between me and those that serve me; and unto my servants who serve me faithfully, yea, unto whom I will, shall he show the plates, and they shall be faithful witnesses unto me, and thus shall my words be established. (Voree Herald, August 1846, p. 33)
The prophecies and revelations of James relating to the house of Israel were given as absolute promises. Voree and the islands of the Great Lakes will again be gathering places. "While the day of the wicked abideth, shalt thou prepare a refuge for the oppressed and for the poor and needy. Unto thee shall they come, and their brethren who are scattered shall come with them, and the destruction of the ungodly shall quickly follow, for it already worketh." (Book of the Law, p. 171)
The final dispensation will be unlike all former dispensations. It will be a harvest dispensation, a gathering of all righteous things in heaven and on earth. It will be administered in power, judgment, and destruction. Many of those who labor in this last dispensation will have been resurrected. Enoch and Elijah will return about three and a half years prior to Christ's second coming. John the Revelator is to return. How many translated persons, besides the city of Enoch, are to return are not known. When Jesus returns, He will bring many saints that have been resurrected; and raise others from their graves.
The Book of Mormon and the Book of the Law shall be in the hands of the seed of Joseph and Judah "and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord." (2 Nephi 3:12)
Judah, Israel, and Joseph will all be gathered. James will stand, again, as King in Zion. He will hold a rod of iron. "11 For by this law shall men be judged in the portion of Joseph: God will give it to you, that you may possess it for an everlasting dominion." (Book of the Law, p. 205)
The prophecy concerning the seed of Joseph in 2 Nephi 3 and in The Evening and Morning Star, Vol. 1, No. 6, may also indicate that Joseph will return to rule with James; and take the gospel to the remnant of Joseph. "But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and unto him will I give the power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins; and not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them." Bro. Joseph's first mission only realized the first, "bring forth my word." The "convincing them of my word" has not yet been realized. The dual mission was to: (1) bring forth my word, and (2) convince them of my word. Another interesting note is that the second mission was not to be realized for some time after the first; as the prophecy notes, "which shall have already gone forth among them." "And his name shall be called after me [Joseph], and it shall be after the name of his father." Joseph fulfilled both requirements and was taught that this prophecy addressed him.
When you read the prophecy of the last days, read with the understanding that many of the laborers will be fulfilling a mission that began in mortal life. The house of God in the last days is not the house of the Gentiles. It is the house of Israel. "70 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant, and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants, and they were few. 71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come. 72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their might; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them, and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things. 73 And there began to be the natural fruit again in the vineyard, and the natural branches began to grow and thrive exceedingly, and the wild branches began to be plucked off and to be cast away; and they did keep the root and the top thereof equal, according to the strength thereof. 74 And thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even until the bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and the Lord had preserved unto himself that the trees had become again the natural fruit; and they became like unto one body, and the fruits were equal; and the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning." (Jacob 5)
It is a day of sadness and of fearful contemplation of our condition. There is none without sin. Those who die unrepentant have no hope of eternal life. A day should never end without making every effort to save ourselves and our friends. "For I am God, and mine arm is not shortened; and I will show miracles, signs, and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name." (Doctrine and Covenants, 35:8) If we cannot understand our time and season, we have no claim as believers. "...what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee?" (Lam. 2:13) Jerusalem and Zion are noted together many times.
The revelations of James addressed Gentile promises only as opportunities; which were conditioned with an "if." There is hope for those that love God, honor Jesus, obey the gospel, and remain faithful and obedient to the laws of God. Many of his revelations were prophecies of a time when the house of Israel will again rule. A very small remnant of the daughter of Zion is to be delivered. Consider the beauty in the revelation that was given to James on August 25, 1846, concerning Beaver Island. The time when "the air was pure and serene," there was "unfading foliage," when the Indians "gathered in assemblies," and "their possession shall become as a paradise, yielding fruits every month." This promise was not realized during their mortal life of James. There is only one "if" in this revelation/vision. It is found in verse 3 addressing the Gentiles, "if this person will turn unto him, and repent of all their evil deeds, and no more slay the prophets." They did not! Bro. Strang sealed this opportunity with his blood. By violating the law of God, the Gentiles are promised curses.
Soon, James will return, the worthy will be gathered to a place of safety, and the destruction of the ungodly will begin. The five wise virgins will enter the door into the marriage supper (Matt. 25 addresses this generation).