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can consistently deny the efficacy of vicarious service, in which one person officiates in behalf of another, provided of course that the labor be done by Divine appointment.
In the last chapter of the Old Testament the prophet Malachi describes a condition of the last days immediately precedent to the second advent of the Christ: "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." (Malachi 4:1).
This fateful prediction is followed by the blessed promise, expressed in the words of Jehovah: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (Verses 5, 6).
Joseph Smith the modern prophet solemnly affirms that in 1836 Elijah the prophet of ancient Israel appeared in the Temple that had been erected by the Latter-day Saints at Kirtland, Ohio, and effected the fulfilment of Malachi's prediction by this declaration: "Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi, testifying that he (Elijah) should be sent before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse." (Doctrine & Covenants, 110:14-15).
This union of the interests of the departed fathers with those of their yet living descendants is a necessary preparation for the coming of the Lord, as affirmed by Joseph Smith: "The earth will be smitten with a curse, unless
there is a welding link of some kind or other, between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other, and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect." (D. C. 128:18).
The Latter-day Saints are distinguished as a Templebuilding people. Through direct revelation the Lord has made plain that baptism and associated ordinances for the dead, as also certain endowments of the living, are acceptable only when administered in structures specially reared and consecrated for this sacred service.
In the spirit realm, as in our material world of mortals, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached; and among both dead and living the authoritative proclamation is made: Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. To be competent to officiate for his dead, a man must first comply with the laws and ordinances of the Gospel in his own behalf.
There is an element of particular fitness in the fact that the appointed minister, through whom the vicarious service of the living in behalf of the dead has been inaugurated in the current dispensation, is none other than Elijah, who was taken from earth without passing through the change we call death, and who therefore held a peculiar and special relationship to both the living and the dead.
True to the commission conferred through Elijah's modern ministry, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rears Temples to the name and service of the living God, and in those sacred structures carries forward the appointed service for the salvation of the uncounted dead who have passed away in ignorance as to the necessity of compliance with the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, without which compliance no man can have place in the Kingdom of God.
Conditions of Citizenship in the Kingdom of God
E believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. (Articles of Faith, 3).
Pope's famous line, "Order is Heaven's first law," has often been misapplied. Order is a result of compliance with established requirements; of necessity, therefore, it cannot be first. It is an effect, not the primary cause. A more thoughtful generalization leads to the conclusion that obedience is the basal law of Heaven, and that this law is equally valid and as truly operative in things pertaining to mortality.
Jesus Christ, through whom the plan of salvation has been made available to mankind, has prescribed the conditions under which we may become its beneficiaries-the terms by which citizenship in the Kingdom of God may be secured.
Among these specified conditions is baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. The gross materialist, who wilfully refuses to see or to acknowledge anything beyond the affairs of earth, may ask: How can water wash away sin? In answer be it said, water cannot remove the stain of guilt; nevertheless, obedience to the law of baptism as required by Jesus Christ is truly a means of securing forgiveness. Obedience, not water, is the cleansing unction.
Have you never read of Naaman, captain of the Syrian hosts, who sought relief from his leprosy through the ministration of Elisha, the man of God? Read 2 Kings, chap. 5.
The prophet commanded the leper to wash himself seven times in Jordan, and promised that through obedience the man would be cleansed. But the haughty Syrian was offended at the simplicity of the requirement. He had expected some ceremonial spectacle of power, a display of miracle. But by the counsel of his servant he went "and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." The waters of Jordan had no special virtues of healing, but obedience effected a cure from the leprous affliction, which was rightly regarded as at once a bodily disease and a curse.
And what of the widow, whose sons were to be sold into bondage because she could not pay her late husband's debt? Read 2 Kings 4:1-7. She came to Elisha in agony of soul; and the prophet told her to take the one little pot of oil in her house, and pour from it into as many vessels as she could borrow. With scrupulous care she complied with every detail of the instructions given her by the man of God, and the vessels were filled from the single cruse. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, "Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children.
of the rest."
Obedience is a source of power, even as is prayer. When the Jews marveled at the wisdom of Christ, He told them of a very simple yet effective way of obtaining, each for himself, knowledge of supreme worth. "My doctrine is not mine," said He, "but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7:16, 17).
In every-day affairs we comply without question with the requirements essential to the results we desire. Electricity lights our homes, propels our vehicles, drives our machinery,
transmits our messages, but only on condition that we obey to the minutest detail the laws by which that mystic force operates. We may cause the sunlight to record indelibly the beauties of the landscape, or the features of a friend, but only through obedience to the laws of light and the numerous mechanical adjustments incident to the use of the camera. And as we fully and unreservedly obey, the result is sure.
Why then should it be a thing strange in our eyes that through obedience to established and eternal law the higher or spiritual powers should be invoked to our service? The effect is equally sure. The Christ has given us solemn assurance: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16).
In the present age, the unalterable necessity of obedience as a means of blessing has been reaffirmed through the prophet Joseph Smith:
"There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated; And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." (Doctrine and Covenants 130:20, 21).
And further: "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (82:10).
There is no element of uncertainty in the plan of salvation, far less of inconsistency or caprice in the judgment to be rendered on individual lives, for that would imply injustice. The plan is simple. Man is in a fallen condition, beset with weaknesses and sin. Means are provided whereby he may rise, and, through the corridors of death and the portals of the resurrection, reach the way of eternal progression. These means are all comprised in obedience to