We hold that all great teachers are servants of God, inspired men appointed to instruct the children of God according to the condition in which they are found; therefore, it is not obnoxious to us to regard Confucius as a servant of God; nor Buddha as an inspired teacher of a measure of truth; nor the Arabian prophet as inspired who turned his people from worshiping idols to a truer conception of Deity. And so with the sages of Greece and Rome, and the Reformers of the early Protestant times.
But even with the possession of this Spirit to guide us into all truth, I pray you, nevertheless, not to look for finality in things, for you will look in vain. Intelligence, purity, truth, will always remain with us relative terms and also relative qualities. Ascend to what heights you may, ever beyond you will see other heights in respect of these thing,?; and ever as you ascend, more heights will appear, and it is doubtful if we shall ever attain the absolute in respect of these qualities. Our joy will be the joy of approximating them, of attaining unto ever-increasing excellence, without attaining the absolute. It will be the joy of eternal progress.
God has given us a system of truth that constitutes the Gospel of Jesus Christ—to my mind this Gospel is invulnerable; it is perfect, and unassailable with truth and reason. To defend it is a joy, and always a success. But our history—which is but another name for our conduct—is not always defensible at all points.
While the Church in Missouri and Illinois never did anything that warranted the cruelty practiced upon them by the people of those states; and in the course of which there were violations of constitutions and the infringement of law—while all that was and is absolutely unjustifiable—yet there was much of fanaticism, much of narrowness, and bigotry, and un-wisdom on the part of individuals among the Latter-day Saints.
The New Dispensation is a system of philosophy as well as a religion. Indeed every religion that is worthwhile must be a philosophy. It must give some accounting of things if it is to be of any permanent service in the world. Religion must appeal to the understanding as well as the emotional nature of man. It must measurably satisfy his rational mind as well as fill his spiritual and ethical longings - his thirst for righteousness...
What think ye of Christ? Is he God? Yes. Is he man? Yes. Will that resurrected, immortal, glorified man ever be distilled into some bodiless, formless essence, to be diffused as the perfume of a rose is diffused throughout the circumambient air? Will he become an impersonal, incorporeal, immaterial God, without body, without parts, without passions? Will it be? Can it be? What think ye of Christ? Is he God? Yes. Is he an exalted man? Yes; in the name of all the Gods he is. Then why do sectarian ministers arraign the faith of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because they believe and affirm that God is an exalted man, and that he has a body, tangible, immortal, indestructible, and will so remain embodied throughout the countless ages of eternity? And since the Son is in the form and likeness of the Father, being, as Paul tells, "in the express image of his [the Father's] person"—so, too, the Father God is a man of immortal tabernacle, glorified and exalted for as the Son is, so also is the Father, a personage of tabernacle, of flesh and of bone as tangible as man's, as tangible as Christ's most glorious, resurrected body.
Eternalism is the term I would select as the best descriptive word for New Dispensation philosophy; for that term best represents its concepts: an eternal universe, with no beginning and no end; eternal intelligence, working in eternal duration, without beginning or ending, and without ultimates. And hence eternal progression running parallel with eternal lives; and an eternal or ‘everlasting gospel,’ offering eternal opportunities for righteousness; eternal existence of mercy, justice, wisdom, truth and love; all accompanied by eternal relations, associations, unions, eternal youth and eternal glory!
After revealing himself to Joseph Smith, the Lord finally told him, with reference to the organization of the Church, that he must call together the baptized members and submit to them the question whether or not they were willing that he and Oliver Cowdery should proceed to organize the Church of Christ, and whether the people were willing to accept them as their spiritual leaders and teachers. We may well marvel at such condescension of God; and yet when we come to analyze this, we learn that in this God only recognizes a great truth, and the dignity of his children, and acknowledges their rights and liberties.
When he selected his prophet, to whom he first revealed himself, he chose whom he would and gave him the power of the apostleship; but when he was to effect an organization and exercise that authority upon others, then it must be with the consent of the others concerned, not otherwise.
God has conferred upon his Church and our Church the right of being governed by common consent of the members thereof. It is not a tyranny, nor an ecclesiastical hierarchy dominating the people and destroying individual liberty, as our friends the opposition have frequently declared.
…God raises up wise men and prophets among all the children of men of their own tongue and nationality, speaking to them through means that they can all comprehend, not always giving a fulness of truth, such as is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but always such measure of truth as the people are ready to receive.
What men may do in their individual capacity, the Church may do in its organized capacity with, of course, similar results to the institution; for if the time should come that the Church, in the exercise of those rights and that freedom which God in the beginning bestowed upon her, should persistently reject his word and his servants until she became corrupted, God would repudiate and disown her as his Church, just as he would reject and condemn a wicked man.
We are prompted by our native intelligence to perform most of the ordinary actions of life. But for the accomplishment of extraordinary duties, for the achievement of high purposes, the soul, conscious of its own limitations, reaches out for help, deep calls unto deep, the infinite in man seeks union with the infinite in God, and when necessary for the achievement of God's purposes, we believe that the Lord deigns to communicate his will to man. He will help men at need, but I think it improper to assign every word and every act of a man to an inspiration from the Lord. Were that the case, we would have to acknowledge ourselves as being wholly taken possession of by the Lord, being neither permitted to go to the right nor the left only as he guided us. There could then be no error made, nor blunder in judgment; free agency would be taken away, and the development of human intelligence prevented. Hence, I think it a reasonable conclusion to say that constant, never-varying inspiration is not a factor in the administration of the affairs of the Church; not even good men, no, not even though they be prophets or other high officials of the Church, are at all times and in all things inspired of God. It is only occasionally, and at need, that God comes to their aid.
That there have been unwise things done in the Church by good men, men susceptible at times to the inspiration of the Spirit of God, we may not question. Many instances in the history of the Church, through three quarters of a century, prove it, and it would be a solecism to say that God was the author of those unwise, not to say positively foolish, things that have been done. For these things men must stand responsible, not God.
It is well nigh as dangerous to claim too much for the inspiration of God, in the affairs of men, as it is to claim too little. By the first, men are led into superstition, and into blasphemously accrediting their own imperfect actions, their blunders, and possibly even their sins, to God; and by the second, they are apt to altogether eliminate the influence of God from human affairs; I pause in doubt as to which conclusion would be the worse.
Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of sects there were already enough in existence. Division and subdivision had already created of confusion more than enough, and there was no possible excuse for the introduction of a new Christian sect. But if men through apostasy had corrupted the Christian religion and lost divine authority to administer the ordinances of the Gospel, it was of the utmost importance that a new dispensation of the true Christian religion should be given to the world.
There never was but one plan ordained by which mankind are to be saved; and that is denominated in the Scriptures “the everlasting Gospel,” to express, as well as its everlasting continuance, its sameness in all generations. Such as it was formed in the grand council of heaven, such it has remained in all ages, and in all dispensations. It is sealed by the precious blood of the Son of God, and like the great Law-Giver, whose mind conceived it, whose wisdom brought it into existence, it changes not, neither is there a shadow of variableness in it.
Now we begin to see the relation of the Father and the Son; for though the “Word” be God, though “Immanuel” is God, that is, “God with us,” He does not displace God the Father, but stands in the relationship of a son to him. Under the direction of the Father, he created the worlds, and in this manner is the Creator of our earth, and the heavens connected with the earth.
It is certain, then, that the resurrection of the dead is universal, extending alike to all classes and races of men, and thus there is a general salvation from the consequences of Adam’s fall. “For as by the offense of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Christ] the free gift came upon all men to the justification of life.” And again, “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The reader will observe that the redemption is as universal as the Fall.
I maintain that it would be impossible for man to live the law of the Gospel without some such grace being conferred upon him by the Lord. The law of the Gospel requires men not only to do good to those who do good to them, but to do good to those who despitefully use them; not only to lend to those who lend to them, but to lend to those of whom they can hope to receive nothing in return; to revile not those who may revile them—in a word, the law of the Gospel is summed up in this: Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. However fine this may be in theory, or however beautiful it may look on paper, to carry it practically into the affairs of life is difficult.
Kolob. A sun nearest to the celestial residence of God, a mighty governing and controlling center; the first creation (i.e., of the group); also first in government in that subdivision of the universe—the “heavens” to which our earth belongs. Kolob is first in government, but last, or slowest in the measurement of time. Kolob’s time is celestial time, after the reckoning of the Lord’s time—one day in the Lord’s resident-world and in Kolob being equal to one thousand years of time upon our earth. Kolob is the controlling center of all those worlds which belong to the same order as our earth (Abr. 3:3–9).
If there is one struggle more than another in which the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but to those who endure to the end, it is in this struggle for eternal life. “He that shall endure to the end the same shall be saved,” were the words of Jesus, and I know of no other condition of salvation contemplated in the Gospel of Christ than this. “Be thou faithful unto death,” wrote John to the saints at Smyrna, “and I will give thee a crown of life” …There is no one great thing that man can do and then do no more and obtain salvation. After entering into the kingdom of God, in the manner already pointed out in these pages, it is by learning “precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little and there a little,” that salvation will be made secure. It is by resisting temptation today, overcoming a weakness tomorrow, forsaking evil associations the next day, and thus day by day, month after month, year after year, pruning, restraining and weeding out that which is evil in the disposition, that the character is purged of its imperfections. Salvation is a matter of character-building under the Gospel laws and ordinances, and more especially with the direct aid of the Holy Spirit.
All things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:24-25). “Adam fell that men might be”; that is, that men might have existence as men; and the design in bringing about the existence of man through Adam’s fall is ultimately that he might have joy, exist in a sphere or realm of joy, a world and state of joy. A world where joy shall obtain and persist and go on and on! Not for dole and sorrow is God bringing man into an existence that is to be immortal—deathless. But for joy; something greater than happiness—Joy!
“This passage [D&C 107:2–4] clearly establishes the fact that the Melchizedek Priesthood existed before the great High Priest Melchizedek, but that it existed under another name, viz--‘The Holy Priesthood after the order of the Son of God.’ That is to say, it was the same kind of priesthood, the same order of priesthood, that the Son of God held. But this was before the days of Melchizedek, before Abraham, and hence hundreds of years before the birth of the Christ into the world. … Jesus, then, held what we call now the Melchizedek Priesthood before he appeared in this world, and doubtless before the world itself was formed, … but ‘how, where and by whom’ he received it, no man knoweth, except perhaps as to the last, viz., ‘by whom.’ He must, of course, have received it of God”
He is the All-Wise One! The All-Powerful One! What he tells other intelligences to do must be precisely the wisest, fittest thing that they could anywhere or anyhow learn - the thing which it will always behoove them, with right loyal thankfulness, and nothing doubting, to do. There goes with this, too, the thought that this All-Wise One will be the Unselfish One, the All-Loving One, the One who desires that which is highest, and best; not for himself alone, but for all: and that will be best for him too. His glory, his power, his joy will be enhanced by the uplifting of all, by enlarging them; by increasing their joy, power, and glory. And because this All Intelligent One is all this, and does all this, the other intelligences worship him, submit their judgments and their will to his judgement and his will. He knows, and can do that which is best; and this submission of the mind to the Most Intelligent, Wisest - wiser than all - is worship.
The relationship of “Elder Brother” cannot have reference to that estate where all were self-existent, uncreated and unbegotten, eternal intelligences, for that estate admits of no such relation as “elder” or “younger.” For as to the succession in time—the fact on which “younger” or “elder” depends—the intelligences are equal, that is, equal as to their eternity. Therefore, since the relationship of “Elder Brother” was not established by any possible fact in that estate where all were self-existing intelligences, it must have been established in the spirit life where Jesus, with reference to the hosts of intelligences designed to our earth, was the “first-born spirit,” and by that fact became our “Elder Brother,” the “first-born of every creature,” “the beginning of the creations of God,” as pertaining to our order of existence.
The reader should understand that Joseph Smith himself made no attempt to create a ‘system’ of philosophy. His philosophical utterances were flung off without reference to any arrangement or orderly sequence…These utterances, were given out at various times, and were often separated by long intervals of time…It is our present task to put some of these and other independent utterances into something like orderly arrangement that will suggest a system of thought or philosophy in the teachings of the Prophet of the New Dispensation...and which, when they are finally arranged in proper order, will constitute a system of philosophy worthy of the enlightened age in which it was brought forth…
My love for the gospel grows out of the partial knowledge I have of the great truths it contains. In it I feel the presence of a marvelous system of truth, a philosophy that gives unity to all history and proper relationship to all existing things; that fills life with a real meaning, and makes existence desirable. And if I could only intelligently grasp these great truths…and reduce them to some orderly system which I am sure they are capable of, I would account myself most happy…
On the other hand, under the conception of the existence of independent, uncreated, self-existent intelligences, who by the inherent nature of them are of various degrees of intelligence and moral quality, differing from each other in many way, yet alike in their eternity and their freedom—how stands it under this conception of things? … This conception of things relives God of the responsibility for the nature and status of intelligences in all stages of their development; their inherent nature and the volition make them primarily what they are.
He is the All-Wise One! The All-Powerful One! What he tells other Intelligences to do must be precisely the wisest, fittest thing that they could anywhere or anyhow learn—the thing which it will always behoove them, with right loyal thankfulness, and nothing doubting, to do. There goes with this, too, the thought that this All-Wise One will be the Unselfish One, the All-Loving One, the One who desires that which is highest, and best; not for himself alone, but for all: and that will be best for him too. His glory, his power, his joy will be enhanced by the uplifting of all, by enlarging them; by increasing their joy, power, and glory. And because this All Intelligent One is all this, and does all this, the other Intelligences worship him, submit their judgments and their will to his judgment and his will. He knows, and can do that which is best; and this submission of the mind to the Most Intelligent, Wisest—wiser than all—is worship.