Prophecies Relating to Our Day—Apostasy Foretold—God’s Work Reestablished—Restoration of the Gospel—Modern Revelation Opposed By Preachers—Unwarranted in Declaring that the Canon of Scripture is Full—Man By Searching Cannot Find Out God—But One True Gospel—Effect of the Gospel in the Days of the Apostles—How the Gospel Was Restored—How It is Being Preached—A Gathering Dispensation—Opposition to the Work of God—Destiny Before the Saints
Discourse by Elder Chas. W. Penrose, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, May 18th, 1883.
We are living in the latter days, at a time which all the prophets of God, who lived upon the earth in former times looked forward to with anticipation. The servants of God whose writings have been handed down to us in the book called the Bible, were all blessed in their day and generation with some foresight in regard to the last great dispensation of God’s mercy to man. The Spirit of God opened up to them views concerning the great latter-day work, which God should perform, in which He would consummate His purposes, in which He would perfect His work, in regard to the people of this earth. And they were strengthened in the performance of the duties devolving upon them by glimpses of the latter-day glory. They were called to pass through very trying circumstances. As the Apostle Paul says: “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Generally speaking, the prophets of God were rejected by the majority of the children of men. By the spirit of prophecy which rested upon them, they could perceive how small would be the impressions which they would be able to make upon the people who lived in their day, and they saw also that although they might be able to accomplish some good in the name of the Lord, yet the adversary would come in like a flood, so to speak, and overwhelm the influences which they were able to bring to bear. They saw that the work which they were engaged in could not continue, but for a little while. But they looked down to the last days when the kingdom of God should be established on the earth, when it should not be prevailed against nor be overcome, but should remain and continue to grow and increase and spread forth, until its influence should extend to the uttermost parts of the earth, until all things should be subdued unto the Lord, until the wicked should be destroyed, until misrule and tyranny and oppression and falsehood and false doctrine and the powers of evil should be banished from the earth, and the light of God should stream forth to lighten every land, and the kingdoms of this world would become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and He should rule from pole to pole and from shore to shore. In this they rejoiced exceedingly, and they were encouraged to perform the work entrusted to them, by the foresight that God gave to them of the great latter-day work. The Apostle Paul referred to this dispensation in these words: “Having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.” By this we see that the Apostle Paul—and he was imbued with the same spirit and understanding as his brethren of the Apostleship—looked forward to another dispensation than that in which they labored, which is generally called the Christian dispensation, because it was introduced by Jesus who was the Christ. Paul called the dispensation that was to come after His day, “the dispensation of the fulness of times,” and declared in that dispen– sation God would gather together in one all things in Christ; not only the things in the earth, but also the things in the heavens—they should all be gathered together in one.
Now, the Apostle Paul, and others in his time—like those ancient prophets to whom I have referred—had the understanding that the work in which he was engaged, although it would accomplish that whereunto it was sent, would only make its impression for a time and for a season; that the time would come when darkness would come in again; when false doctrine would prevail; when the servants of God would be taken from the earth and false prophets and false teachers would arise who would, (to use the Apostle Peter’s own words) “bring in damnable heresies;” who would turn away the hearts of the people from the truth. The Apostles saw that the time would come when the people would be “heady and high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof;” when false teachers would arise and “make merchandise of the souls of men, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction,” “and many,” we are told, “shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” John, the beloved disciple, wrote a glorious vision that God gave to him when he was upon the Isle of Patmos, being banished there for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, and in that vision the Lord showed to him that a spurious church should arise which would have influence over all the earth. It was pictured to him in the form of a woman sitting upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, and upon her forehead a name written, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of Harlots.” And he saw that she held in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication, and he beheld that all nations were made drunk with the wine that was in that golden cup. It was not merely to be partaken of by a few, but by all nations. He also saw that the time should come—foreseen by Isaiah the prophet—“When darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people.” When Jesus was upon the earth He told His disciples that the time would come when false Christs and false prophets would arise, and when because of the iniquity that should abound, the love of many would wax cold. And we find by searching both the Old and New Testaments that the prophets of God who lived in former times and had dispensations committed unto them, saw that the time would come when the work which they performed would seem to be lost from the earth; apostasy would ensue; people would go after other Gods; they would transgress the laws, change the ordinances, and break the everlasting covenant. But the ancient prophets had a glimpse of what God would do in the latter days. They saw the time when He would establish His work in the earth no more to be thrown down forever; when He would establish His kingdom not to be left to another people, not to be overcome, not to be trampled under foot, but to arise and shine and the light thereof go forth to all the world, that kings might come to its light and the Gentiles to the brightness of its rising.
Now, my brethren and sisters, we are blessed with the privilege of living upon the earth in the latter days, in the time to which all the prophets looked forward with pleasure, with rejoicing and with thanksgiving; the time just preceding the coming of the Son of man, not as the babe of Bethlehem, not to be born in a stable and cradled in a manger, not to be “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” not to be lifted up on the cross and His life’s blood poured out because of the wickedness of men, but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords; to come vested with all power on the earth and in the heavens; to “sit upon the throne of His father David,” and to “reign from the rivers even unto the ends of the earth;” to subdue all things unto himself; to abolish wickedness, to banish evil, to bind Satan and his hosts, and to fill the earth with light and glory and the power of God; that the lion and the lamb may dwell together; that enmity may depart between man and man, and between man and beast; that nation may not lift up sword against nation, and that people may study the art of war no more; but that peace may be ushered in, and that the power of God and the Spirit of God may be poured out upon all flesh, and all nations be influenced thereby. We are living upon the earth in the time preceding these great events—in the latter days, in the last dispensation.
The question may arise, is this great dispensation which the prophets foresaw, and which Paul spoke of, already ushered in? Has the dispensation of the fullness of times been introduced for the benefit of the children of men? Or are we still under the old dispensation opened up by the Savior and carried on for a time by the Apostles? That is a serious question, though if left to the Latter-day Saints to answer, one that would be settled in a very short time; for go where you might in this Territory, and ask the Latter-day Saints concerning it, and they would answer, “I know the dispensation of the fullness of times is ushered in; I do not merely believe it, but I know it as well as I know that I live.” And if you were to ask them how they know it, they would answer, “By the revelations of the Holy Ghost.” They would tell you they know that God has again spoken from the heavens, that angels have descended from the courts of glory and communicated with man, and that through the direct agency of divine and holy beings, this great and last dispensation of God’s mercy to man has been opened up. They would tell you further, that they know it will remain and prevail; that all that has been designed must be accomplished under its auspices; and the work which has been begun must continue and grow—because it is the work of God—even until the whole earth is subdued unto Him, and all things are prepared for the coming of Him whose right it is to reign; and that no man or nation or government or influence or society, or all combined, can have the slightest influence or power to stop its onward spread.
It would be interesting perhaps to consider how the dispensation of the fullness of times was to be opened up. We read that the works of God are one eternal round, “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever;” without variableness or any change whatever. As He acted in ancient times, then, so may we expect Him to act in latter times. That if He has a work to perform amongst men, He will commence and carry it out in the same way that He did formerly. Whenever darkness has covered the face of the earth, and the people have gone astray, we find, by reading the Bible, that God spoke from the heavens, that He sent heavenly messengers to some man or men whom He, not the people, chose, to whom He communicated His mind and will, and whom He authorized to preach to the rest. They went with “the burden of the word of the Lord,” they did not go forth preaching for doctrine the commandments of men. They did not aim to please the eyes or the ears of the people. They did not as a general thing possess much learning; in fact, they were to some extent ignorant, that is, they were not versed in the learning of the world. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the earth to confound the things which are mighty.” But have we any intimation in the Scriptures that God would act like that in the last days? If we had not, we might reason from what He has done to what He will do. But we have any amount of testimony in the Scriptures, written in both Testaments, as to what He will do in the last days. In the first place we read that, “God will do nothing except he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.” And we are told in the revelation from which I quoted concerning the general apostasy, when all nations shall become drunken from drinking the contents of that golden cup in the hands of the mother of abominations, an angel should come and bring to the earth again the everlasting Gospel. You will find what I refer to in the 14th Chapter of Revelation, and the 6th and 7th verses. John says. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the ever– lasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” And after this he declares that there followed another angel, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
Some one may enquire, Did the things that John saw in the vision signify events that had taken place already, or were they to take place in the future? That can be easily settled by reading the 1st verse of the 4th chapter of that book, which reads as follows: “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” And in the 14th Chapter he says that he saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven “having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” So this Gospel that John saw the angel bringing to earth was for the benefit of generations to come, for the Christians as well as those who are termed the heathen. We who are styled “Christians” are in the habit of calling all other nations heathen; I am inclined to believe that there are a great many people who are “Christian” heathen.
This revelation that was given to John will seem very strange to a great many people, who are under the impression that the everlasting Gospel has been upon the earth ever since it was taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. But if that were so, what need would there be for the Lord to send an angel with it. As I before explained, John saw the time when the whole earth would be under the influence of that wicked power which he saw sitting on a scarlet colored beast, and out of the cup which she held in her hand, all nations were to drink—not merely the heathen nations, but all the nations of the earth without exception. I am well aware that this will not sit very comfortably on the bosoms of some of our Christian friends. But what we are after, or should be after, is truth; and we should be desirous to obtain the truth notwithstanding that it may come in contact with our preconceived notions. John saw that the whole earth would go astray; and all the Apostles spoke more or less of the time when people would depart from the Church, when they would “not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they would heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” and says the Apostle, “they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables;” their teachers shall “preach for doctrines the commandments of men;” and the Apostle might have added, that if they did not preach to suit the people, they would discharge them and hire others. The time was to come when “darkness would cover the earth, and gross darkness the people,” but preceding the destruction of Babylon the great archangel was to come to earth with the everlasting gospel to preach to all nations; and the burden of his message was to call upon the people with a loud voice, saying, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters,” signifying that the people had gone astray and were worshiping some other god or gods.
It is the general view that after the days of Jesus and the Apostles there were to be no more angels to visit the earth. This has been taught to the people diligently. What for? Because the men who teach this doctrine do not receive any visitations from heaven themselves. They have no communication with the powers on high. The heavens to them are indeed as brass. They pray, but they do not expect to receive any answer to their prayers, except in some mystical fashion which neither they nor anybody else can understand. They do not expect to receive answers to their prayers as the prophets of old did. And they have taught the people for hundreds of years that there is to be no more communications from heaven. And why? Because they pretend to greater light; because they claim to live in an age of gospel blaze, and Christianity, as they term it, has attained such a high standard of excellence that they need no divine revelation. And yet when you investigate their condition, you will find they do not comprehend the Gospel; they differ amongst themselves, they contend with each other even on fundamental principles. They have no positive knowledge in regard to the things of God. Some of the clergy teach what they believe, and others teach what they do not believe, being infidel at heart. It is true there have been sincere men who have labored for the benefit of humanity, and who have done a great deal of good; and they will be re– warded by the Almighty for all the good they have accomplished. But wherein they have presumed to minister in the name of the Lord when He never authorized them to act for Him, they have run before they were sent, and will have to answer to Him for their presumption. Wherein men have administered in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and at the same time acknowledge that they have had no communication with those higher powers, declaring that the Holy Trinity has ceased to speak to men, they show by their own words and make actual confession that they have no authority. They could not possibly have any, because there has been no communication from those individuals who alone had the right to give it, and wherein they have presumed to act in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost without authority, they must give an account when they appear before the bar of God. But the ministers who have preached religion for hundreds of years have no definite knowledge in regard to these matters and have to tell what they think and what their opinions are, and they disagree with each other in regard to their opinions. Yet they tell the people there is no need now for any revelation from on high; that there is no need for angels to come to the earth and make plain the way of life and salvation, because, forsooth, they know so much. The canon of Scripture they say is full; and God ceased to speak after He gave that revelation to John on the Isle of Patmos.
“Well,” someone perhaps will say, “does not the book itself say so?” No, it does not, but these ministers have taught that it does. In the last chapter of the Book of Revelation are we not told that, “if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book?” Yes; but we are also told that, “if any man shall take away the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” The angel merely told John what God told His servants in former times, that when He gave a revelation, man should not add to it. He told the same thing to Moses—“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it.” That is quite right. But man is prone to do that which is forbidden. When God reveals anything, someone is sure to add to or take away from it, and try to “improve” it or make it void. Hence the angel told John that no man was to take away from the words of the book of this prophecy. What book? The book that John was writing—the Book of Revelation. It does not refer at all to the Bible. There was no such book as the Bible then. Those books that are now compiled in the Bible—and a great many more that are not there—were scattered abroad, and hundreds of years after that, they were hunted up and examined; those that we now have were selected from a great mass of manuscripts and compiled; others were thrown away as non-canonical. The canon of Scripture was not made up by John, but was made up in the way I have described; and there is no intimation anywhere from God to man that He would give no more revelations; but the whole Bible from beginning to end proves the contrary. We are told to fear God and work righteousness, and call upon His Holy name and He will be nigh to answer, “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you; for everyone that seeketh findeth,” etc. That is the word of the Lord. It does not say that God would not give any more revelation; but it does say that man shall not add to that which God does give. In that very revelation we are told that an angel came to John and gave him a little book and told him to eat it. He ate the book as he was told. Then the angel said to him in explanation: “Thou must prophesy again before many people, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” If John was to prophesy to nations, and people, and before kings, would not that be the word of the Lord? Yes, just as much as that which he wrote in the book. So it does not follow that there was not to be any more revelation. The injunction is that man shall not add to or take from any revelation that God gives, and that has been a standing rule in all generations.
But if this passage in the last chapter of the Book of Revelation could be so construed as to make it appear that there was to be no more revelation, such a construction would conflict with what we find in the 14th chapter of Revelation to the effect that an angel was to come “having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation and kindred, and tongue, and people.” And if we turn back to the writings of the old prophets we find that they looked forward to the time in which you and I live; to the time when this work should be consummated; to the time when no one should need to say, “Know ye the Lord: for they shall all know Him even from the least unto the greatest of them.” Why? Because “they shall all be taught of God.” They looked forward to the time when “the Spirit of God shall be poured out upon all flesh;” so that all mankind shall feel the influence and be brought into union and harmony and communion with the Great God, the author of their being. That spirit will measurably rest down upon the brute creation. “The lion and the lamb will dwell together, and the little child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den.” The earth itself shall feel the influence of that divine spirit, and cease to bring forth thorns and briars, and in the place thereof “shall spring up the fig and the myrtle tree;” and “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea.”
How can man know God without revelation from God? “Man by searching cannot find out God.” Wise men have been seeking to find out the secret of Deity for hundreds of years, and the more they study, the more they ponder, the less they know about Him. God is not to be found out in that way. Man cannot find out God, but God can manifest Himself to man. The only way that the Lord can be made manifest to man is by revelation. Jesus Christ thanked His Father, when he was praying, that God had “kept those things hid from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes.” “Even so, Father:” said He, “for thus it seemed good in thy sight. And no man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” That is the only way.
Now, according to the Scripture I have quoted to you, an angel was to come to the earth and bring back the Gospel!—the Gospel that had been lost, the everlasting Gospel, the Gospel preached by Jesus and His disciples, the Gospel preached of old; for we read that it was preached to Abraham, and that it was preached to the Jews before the law of carnal commandments was given, and then God gave them a lesser law because they would not receive the greater. When Jesus appeared He merely came to bring to the earth that which was lost. He came to restore the Gospel that was preached in the beginning to the patriarchs, that was believed in by Abraham, and by receiving which he was able to commune with the Father, who called him His friend, and who said: “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.” So we read in the 18th chapter of Genesis. The same Gospel that Abraham received; the Gospel preached to the people before Abraham’s day; the Gospel preached to the Jews before the law of carnal commandments was given; the Gospel Jesus and His disciples preached, and of which John the Baptist came as the forerunner, baptizing people for the remission of their sins in the river Jordan—that same Gospel has been restored in the day in which we live. There is but one everlasting Gospel. There are a great many so called gospels that men have made, but they are not the true, everlasting Gospel; for as the Apostle Paul says: “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.” There is but one straight path to the celestial city. There is but one gate into the kingdom of God, and “he that tries to climb up some other way will be accounted a thief and a robber.” So said Jesus. This everlasting Gospel then was to be brought to the earth by an angel, and was to be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
Now, when Jesus, the Son of God, was upon the earth, after His resurrection from the dead He appeared to His eleven Apostles—for one had apostatized, having sold his Master for a few pieces of silver—and gave them a commission. He said: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” And the disciples went forth according to His word and preached, and God confirmed the word with signs following. Wherever they went they preached this one Gospel, and God blessed those that received their testimony. The Holy Ghost accompanied their preaching, and bore witness to the hearts of the people, and all who obeyed the Gospel were made of one heart and one mind—Greeks, Romans, Jews and Gentiles, bond and free, Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Herodians, etc., people from all the various sects, and some that did not belong to any sect, infidels also, when they ac– cepted the testimony of the Apostles and were baptized, and had hands laid upon them, received the Holy Ghost, and were made of one heart and one mind; they had one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one hope of their calling. And we read in the New Testament that when they met in their assemblies one would speak in tongues, another would interpret, another would prophesy, etc. The Lord poured out His Spirit upon the people and gave them visible manifestations of His power, in addition to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost which made them all see and comprehend alike, and which bore witness to the divine mission of Christ and to the mission of the Apostles whom He had sent forth. These signs were seen in their midst, which comforted and made them strong. But after a time the people began to go astray. Wicked men took the Apostles and put them to death. Some were cast unto wild beasts; some were thrown into caldrons of boiling oil; some were crucified; others were tormented in various ways, persecuted and afflicted and slain. Then others began to depart from the faith, bringing in damnable heresies. Others began to preach for hire and divine for money, making merchandise of the souls of men. And thus the apostasy went on until darkness covered the minds of the people, and paganism was introduced into the Christian church. And the time came when that wicked power spoken of in the Revelation overcame the saints. The Spirit of God left the polluted church. The body became dead. Just as when the spirit of man leaves his body, the carcass begins to crumble; every particle seems desirous to get away from every other particle. So it was after the time that the Apostles fell. The Holy Ghost left the church. The spirit of revelation departed from the body and dissolution set in. Darkness ensued. Apostasy prevailed. In one of the homilies of the Church of England it is declared that: “Clergy and laity, men, women and children, of all ages, sects and degrees of whole Christendom (a most horrible and dreadful thing to think) have at once been buried in the most abominable idolatry, and that for the space of 800 years or more.” This was because there had been no Holy Ghost in the church, no revelation from heaven, no real communion with the powers on high. Instead of true worship there was idolatry. People had gone into darkness, and it had covered the earth—all nations and sects and parties, “clergy and laity, men, women and children of whole Christendom.” From that time to the present, sect has multiplied upon sect, and creed upon creed, but there has been no uniting power. The Holy Ghost not being in the church, the body has been segregated, every part separating from other parts, like the toes which Daniel saw composed part of iron and part of clay, the one refusing to mingle with the other.
In this generation came forth a young man bearing the testimony that the Lord had sent an angel from heaven to reveal the everlasting Gospel; and he bore testimony that the angel had appeared to him, and conversed with him in a heavenly vision. And he testified further that a servant of God who had once lived upon the earth, who was no less a personage than John the Baptist, had come to him and ordained him and Oliver Cowdery to the lesser Priesthood; that he had come as a forerunner of Christ, that the way might be prepared for His second advent. He still further testified that Peter, James and John appeared to him and ordained him to the same Priesthood which they themselves held, namely, the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood, committing unto him the Keys of the Apostleship and of the dispensation of the fullness of times, the dispensation when all things are to be gathered together in one, including the gathering of Israel, and the bringing back of the lost ten tribes, and the gathering of the elect of God from the four quarters of the earth, that they may be assembled in holy places so that they may not be moved when the judgments of the latter days are poured out, and that they may be prepared for the building up of the latter-day kingdom. It was very easy for the young man to say this, but what evidence is there to substantiate the truth of his assertion? The evidence is here. This young man claimed to hold this divine authority to preach the same Gospel that Jesus preached, promising the same testimony, the same signs and the same power that attended the ministrations of the servants of God in olden times. Now, an impostor could bear testimony that he received this communication, but an impostor could not draw down the Holy Ghost upon the people; an impostor could not open the heavens; an impostor could not cause these blessings and signs to come, convincing believers of the divinity of the work which he represented.
The facts are these: People began to believe in his testimony because they found that he taught the same doctrines as those contained in the Scriptures; some went forth and were baptized. And upon all that yielded obedience to the require– ments of the Gospel he laid his hands, and the Holy Ghost descended upon them. Some received visions; some received the gift of healing, and others the gift of prophesying, etc.—the same powers which were enjoyed by the primitive Church were enjoyed by the Church established by the inspiration of God, through Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the 19th Century. He, under the divine command, ordained men to go forth and preach this Gospel. Some went to England, some to Scotland, some to Wales, others to France, to Germany and Scandinavia, and to different parts of Europe, while others preached extensively through this nation; and wherever they went and the people believed their testimony and were baptized for the remission of their sins, and submitted to the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, they all bore testimony that God Almighty had revealed to them by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, that He had in very deed sent his angel from heaven and opened up the dispensation of the fullness of times.
Here we have a people dwelling in these mountain valleys who have been gathered from the different nations under this influence. Our Elders go out, not to entice the people to leave their homes; they do not go as “emigration agents,” as some people allege they do, but they go to preach the everlasting Gospel, and they do it as did the ancient servants of God; they are not paid for preaching, but they pay their own way, as a general thing, to their fields of labor, and then travel “without purse or scrip.” I have traveled extensively myself, as have many of the men within my hearing, without purse or scrip preaching the Gospel of Christ; and wherever the people received my testimony I baptized them and laid hands upon them, and they testified that the Holy Ghost came upon them, the gifts of that spirit were bestowed, and the sick were healed, in many instances instantaneously, by the power of God. I speak of this, not as a personal matter, but because this is the universal testimony of my brethren, wherever they have been sent among all nations.
This is not the work of man; it is the work of God, and it is God that bears witness to it. This is why this people are here. They have not come for gold or silver; they have not come simply to better their temporal circumstances; but they have gathered here “as the elect of God,” the voice of God having gone forth in connection with this Gospel. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues; for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” And the time is nigh at hand when the other angel will proclaim, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.” This is the time that Jesus said His angels should go forth to gather His elect from the four winds, previous to His coming. And said He, “then shall this gospel of the kingdom be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” The testimony of our Elders who go forth is that this is “the gospel of the kingdom,” and this is “the dispensation of the fullness of times;” and that the period has come for the establishment of the latter-day kingdom; when the people of God shall be gathered from the four winds previous to the destruction of the wicked, the breaking up of the kingdoms of this world, as Daniel saw them in his vision, that they may pass away and be found no more, and that “the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.”
The people who dwell in these mountain valleys labor to build up homes, to redeem the land and make it a desirable place to live in; but they are here chiefly, and as their primary object, to serve God and learn of Him. They are here in fulfillment of predictions made by Micah, Isaiah and Daniel. Isaiah declared, “It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths,” etc. The prophecies of these ancient men of God are being fulfilled literally; and this people called Latter-day Saints have come here to learn of the ways of the Lord. They learned something of his ways in the lands where they were born, and the word tasted sweet to their souls; communion was opened up between them and the heavens, and they received a testimony for themselves. They did not have to depend upon the testimony of Joseph Smith, or of Brigham Young, or of John Taylor, or of the Apostles whom God has called in our day, but they obtained one for themselves. They were all baptized with one spirit into one body, and all received of the same influence; all obtained a similar testimony; and the gifts and graces of the everlasting Gospel are enjoyed by them, according to their several faiths and desires for God and the truth. This, therefore, is the beginning of the great latter-day work, the restoration of the Gospel, the opening up of the dispensation of the fulness of times. The work now is to gather the Saints of God. First of all the Gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles and then to the Jews. “The fulness of the Gentiles” has not yet “Come in,” but the time is close at hand when it will come in. After that the Lord will say, “Turn ye to the Jews also.” The servants of God are going out among the Gentile nations preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and bearing testimony that it is His cause; not preaching what they think, or giving expression to any opinions they may have formed, but from knowledge of the will of God through the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy which they obtained by bowing in obedience to the ordinances of the Gospel. They know what they preach. They do not go out with the “enticing words of man’s wisdom,” but to preach the everlasting Gospel as God has revealed it, as He has manifested it from on high. They are not sent to preach to please the popular ear, but to deliver in plainness, as the Spirit shall give them utterance, the message of salvation, whether the people believe it or not. And our missionaries find that the same spirit exists today that the servants of God had to meet and contend with anciently. The wicked oppose the message of truth they bear; and the most vehement opponents to it are those who profess the most piety. They have it in their hearts to destroy or bring trouble upon this people. Why? They do not know why themselves. It is because they shut their own hearts to the truth like the Pharisees of old, who made long prayers that they might be heard and seen of men, and not entering the kingdom themselves, they will not suffer those who would, to enter therein. They have the same spirit in their hearts that slew the prophets and put Christ to death. When our Elders go out, instead of meeting them with argument, these men stir up the people to oppose them by force. They have stirred up Congress to pass inimical laws to oppress the “Mormons,” to deprive them of the commonest rights of citizens, to take their leaders and put them to death. This is the spirit that has been arrayed against this Church from the beginning. Joseph Smith and Hyrum his brother, were slain in Carthage jail. What for? For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus; because they taught the truth as it came from God and claimed to have divine authority, to have received power from on high. They could not oppose the testimony of these men by truth, nor by Scripture, nor by argument, neither could they overcome them by law. But as the mob said that put these servants of God to death: “The law cannot touch them, but powder and ball shall.” This is the spirit by which the prophets of old were put to death. This is the spirit by which Christ was crucified on the cross. This is the spirit by which Peter was crucified head downward. This is the spirit by which others were thrown unto wild beasts and some were cast into caldrons of boiling oil. And this is the spirit that is exhibited in the latter times by some who claim to be ministers of the Gospel.
The work of gathering has commenced, then. That is part of the work of the dispensation of the fullness of times, the gathering of the people of God in one. The Saints of God will be gathered. The wicked may do what they please. They may pass laws; fulminate decrees; send circular letters to the governments abroad to prevent “Mormon” emigration; but as God lives and rules and reigns on high, this is His work and He will bring it about in His own way and time and there is no power on the earth that can thwart His purposes. His people will come from the east and gather from the west. The Lord will say to the north, “Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” And they will gather to Zion as the prophet foretold, and build up temples to the living God, that His ordinances may be performed therein, and that they may learn of His ways and walk in His paths. Then the Gospel, as I before remarked, will be preached to the Jews. The way is now being prepared for this. The work is moving on for the gathering of the Jews to their own land that they may build it up as it was in former times; that the temple may be rebuilt and the mosque of the Muslim which now stands in its place may be moved out of the way; that Jerusalem may be rebuilt upon its original site; that the way may be prepared for the coming of the Messiah, who shall be seen in the midst of those whose ancestors nailed him to the cross, and who, when they see the marks in His hands, shall say in answer to their inquiries, “These are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”
This is only a small part of the latter-day work that is to be performed. We are just in the beginning of it. The Gospel has to be preached. The Saints must be gathered. The ten tribes must be brought from the north. The Gospel must be preached to the Lamanites, those red men of the forest, who are a branch of the house of Israel, whose forefathers came from old Palestine to this continent. The Lord is working among them by visions and dreams and by the manifestations of His divine power. What else? Why we are building temples in this land. We have built one in St. George, and have others in course of construction in this city, in Logan, and in Manti. Some people say: “What are you spending so much money for in building temples? Why don’t you put it to better use?” People who talk thus do not understand our position. This is part of the work we have to perform. We have temples to build, that the Lord may reveal many more things to His people concerning this latter-day work, and we are building them according to the pattern He has revealed, that we may attend to ordinances that He has made manifest; ordinances for the living and also for the dead; that we may be baptized for our dead, so that the spirits who have been preached to in prison may be brought forth, and that ordinances they cannot perform for themselves in the spirit world may be performed for them here in the houses we are building. There are many more things connected with this great dispensation that I have no time to refer to—and would not if I had time—because they belong only to the people of God, to those who have entered into the everlasting covenant, to those who have received the Holy Ghost, and who understand the things of God; for “no man knoweth the things of God, but by the Spirit of God.” But this work will go on; the Saints will be gathered, and temples will be built, and Israel will be redeemed, and the kingdoms of this world will become more and more divided; and the sects and parties of Christendom will become more and more contentions even than they are today. Infidelity will increase, for the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from them, because they receive not the truth when it is presented to them. And nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and people against people. War will be poured out eventually upon all nations; the only place where there will be peace and safety will be in the Zion of God. The judgments we read of in the revelations will all be poured out just as the Prophets have predicted and just as John the beloved has declared. All the woes that John saw are bound to be poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth; every word will be fulfilled, not one jot or tittle will pass away without its fulfillment.
We are here in these mountains that we may escape these troubles; that we may not partake of the sins of Babylon, that we may not share in her plagues. God has called us out from the world that we may be different from the world; that the object we live for may be different from the object which men have in view in the world; that we may not live for worldly gain, but live for God, for humanity, for the spirit of the Gospel; live to gather Israel, live to build temples, live that we may attend to the ordinances pertaining to our own salvation and exaltation, and those that pertain to the salvation of our dead. That the word of God may be fulfilled; that His kingdom may be established upon the earth no more to be thrown down forever. That the light of God may go forth from Zion and His name be honored in all the earth, and that He may reign from pole to pole and from shore to shore forever and ever. Amen.