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And will I appoint unto you, saith the Lord, except it be by law, even as I and my Father ordained unto you, before the world was! I am the Lord thy God, and I give unto you this commandment, that no man shall come unto the Father but by me, or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord. And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me, or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God. For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed." (Doctrine & Covenants 132.)
THE LAST DISPENSATION
Today is the Sum of all the Yesterdays
HE student of history recognizes distinct epochs, periods and ages in the chronicles of events, and classifies his subject-matter accordingly. Single facts and isolated occurrences may be of immediate importance; but when studied in relation to one another they take on a vastly augmented significance.
This is equally true with respect to both secular and sacred history. In the latter field, which comprises the record of God's direct dealings with man and the unfolding of the Divine purpose as attested by prophecy and its fulfilment, the existence of progressive plan and orderly design is strikingly apparent.
Holy Writ affirms a succession of dispensations, each
characterized by distinctive features of Divine authority and commission revealed to man. Illustrative of these dispensations are the Adamic, the Noachian, the Abrahamic, and the Mosaic. In due course came the Meridian dispensation, glorified by the personal ministry of our Lord, the Christ; and this was immediately succeeded by the Apostolic dispensation.
Both Christ and the Apostles foretold a great falling away, a general apostasy, a long era of spiritual darkness, which was to be succeeded by a new dispensation distinguished by the restoration of the Gospel and the establishment of the Church of Christ on earth for the last time. The Scriptures affirm that the new dispensation is to comprise all the authority, powers, and gifts of earlier dispensations, and is therefore distinctively a time of restitution, reorganization, and restoration. It is appropriately named the Last Dispensation, and the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times.
The comprehensiveness of this period of restoration was forcefully expressed by Paul: "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." (Eph. 1:10.)
Peter, addressing the penitent Jews, who were pricked to the heart because of their guilty consciousness of having consented to the Lord's death, held out to them hope of forgiveness in a time then far future, the time of restitution of which the prophets had spoken. Ponder his profound admonition and assuring promise:
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the
heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21.)
The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times has been inaugurated. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is again preached upon earth, and the Holy Priesthood is made operative by direct bestowal from the heavens, for the administration of the ordinances without which no man can enter the Kingdom of God.
In the year 1820, God the Eternal Father, and His Son Jesus Christ manifested Themselves as bodily Personages to Joseph Smith; and from the mouth of the resurrected and glorified Savior the youthful prophet received the glad tidings that the predicted time of restoration had arrived. Thus was ushered in the Last Dispensation. The darkness incident to the long night of apostasy was dispelled; the glory of the heavens once more illumined the world; the silence of centuries was broken; the voice of God was heard again by man.
Visitations of other heavenly personages followed. John the Baptist, who held the keys of the Lesser or Aaronic Priesthood, appeared as a resurrected being and conferred upon Joseph Smith authority to minister in the ordinance of baptism for the remission of sins. Peter, James and John ordained him to the Higher or Melchizedek Priesthood, including the Holy Apostleship; Moses brought to earth the commission of gathering scattered Israel; Elijah transmitted the appointment of vicarious service in behalf of the dead. (See Mal. 4:5, 6.)
The great consummation shall be realized in the return of Christ to earth, in power and glory, to rule and reign, as the holy prophets have foretold. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appeals to the world to heed
the fast ripening signs of the Lord's coming, to repent and be baptized, by which means alone is salvation through Christ attainable. Heed ye the merciful warning of the Lord, our Savior:
"Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom: For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that I come quickly. Even so. Amen." (Doctrine and Covenants 33:17-18.)