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John the Revelator expressly predicted the restoration of the Gospel (Rev. 14:6, 7); and such restoration would be impossible had not the Gospel been taken from the earth. Book of Mormon Scriptures foretold in plainness the great falling away and the subsequent restoration of the Gospel of Christ. (See 1 Nephi 13: 5-9; 3 Nephi 16:7).
The Apostasy Affirmed
The apostate condition of Christendom has been recognized and affirmed by high ecclesiastical authority. Let a single citation suffice. The Church of England thus proclaims the fact of degeneracy, as set forth in her "Homily against Peril of Idolatry," published about the middle of the sixteenth century and retained to this day as an official declaration:
"So that laity and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages, sects, and degrees of men, women, and children of whole Christendom-an horrible and most dreadful thing to think -have been at once drowned in abominable idolatry; of all other vices most detested of God, and most damnable to man; and that by the space of eight hundred years and more."
By revelation through Joseph Smith the prophet the Lord thus confirmed the predictions of His ancient servants with respect to the apostasy of mankind: "For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant. They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol." (Doctrine & Covenants 1:15, 16).
The universal apostasy has been succeeded by the restoration of the Gospel, of which blessed truth the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears testimony to the world.
THE MORNING BREAKS, THE SHADOWS FLEE
Light of the Gospel Again Shines
E believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, viz.: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc. (Articles of Faith, No. 6).
As one of the signs whereby men may know when the Lord's coming is near, Christ specified this feature of the latter times: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matt. 24:14). As this follows in immediate sequence to our Lord's prediction of the general apostasy, incident to which false prophets would arise, iniquity abound, and love for the truth wax cold, an actual restoration of the Gospel had to occur, or the Savior's words recorded in the 24th chapter of Matthew would be inconsistent and their fulfilment impossible.
The Revelator John was shown the scenes of the days immediately before the latter-day advent of the Christ. In recording the vision as then already past he wrote:
"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 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." (Rev. 14:6, 7).
If an angel was to come to earth, bringing the Gospel, the fact is plain that the Gospel could not be at that time
upon the earth. The Gospel, which the angel would bring, was to be preached "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people"; and this in strict and logical consistency with the Lord's personal prophecy quoted above, that one of the distinguishing signs of the last days was that the Gospel of the kingdom, "this Gospel," that is to say, the Gospel that He had proclaimed, would be "preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.”
But, many have asked, had we not the Gospel? The Holy Bible, which is the scriptural repository of the Gospel record has been among men from the time of its earliest compilation; why then the necessity of a restoration? Yes, we had the Bible; but the Gospel is something other and greater than a book.
The Holy Scriptures, invaluable and sacred though they be, profess to be only the letter of the Gospel. Is it reasonable to assume that the mere possession of a Bible, or even a perfect memorization of its contents, could give to man the authority to administer the ordinances prescribed therein? It is quite as plausible to say that if one owns a copy of the statutes of his state or nation and learns therefrom the duties of sheriff, judge, governor or president, the knowledge thus acquired would be authority for him to administer in the respective offices. Statutes are not self-operative.
The Holy Scriptures define and prescribe certain administrative ordinances, such as water baptism and the laying on of hands for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost, which ordinances, unless the Lord Christ spoke fable and falsehood, are indispensable to individual salvation. But the right and authority to administer those essential and saving ordinances cannot be arrogated to one's self by ever SO intensive a study of the scriptural record.
The angel seen by the Revelator, in vision of the then distant future, was to bring to earth not the bare record and letter of requirement as to baptism and other rites, for this the world already would have, in part at least; but he was to restore to earth the Divine commission, the actual appointment and authority to officiate in those sacred and saving ordinances, in short the power of the Holy Priesthood, which the world would not at that time possess.
We affirm that on the 15th of May, 1829, a heavenly messenger appeared on the earth in light and glory, and, laying his hands upon the heads of Joseph Smith and an associate in the ministry, Oliver Cowdery, conferred upon them the Lesser or Aaronic Priesthood, saying:
"Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness." (Doctrine & Covenants, Sec. 13).
The personage who thus appeared and officiated as an angel of light announced himself as John, known of old as the Baptist, and stated that he acted under instructions from the Apostles Peter, James, and John, who held the presidency of the Higher or Melchizedek Priesthood in the earlier Gospel dispensation. Later, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were visited by the presiding Apostles of old, Peter, James and John, who ordained them to the Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, which comprises the fulness of authority operative in the Church of Jesus Christ.
In accordance with this high commission the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been established; and
presents to the world today "the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, viz.: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.”
Come ye and share the priceless blessings of the restored Gospel, for verily, the darkness of the long night of apostasy has been dispelled, and the spiritual light of heaven again illumines the earth.
Ushering in of the Last Dispensation
HE inauguration of the last or current dispensation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is verily the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, was in this wise.
In the year 1820 there lived at Manchester, N. Y., Joseph Smith Jr. then in his fifteenth year, the third son in a respected and pious family. At the time of which we speak great excitement with much sectarian rivalry was manifest in religious matters, and the boy Joseph was seriously concerned as to which of the contending sects was the true Church of Christ; for it was plain that all could not be right. Let us read the account written by himself.
"During this time of great excitement, my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept my