Letter to the Church, circa March 1834

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
Page 144
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contain; but to say that God never said any thing more to man than is there recorded,  would be saying at once, that we have at last received a revelation; for it must be one  to advance thus far, because it is no where said in that volume by the mouth of God,  that he would not, after giving what is there contained, speak again; and if any man  has found out that for a fact, he has ascertained it by an immediate revelation, other  than has been previously written by the prophets and apostles. But through the kind  providence of our Father a portion of his word which he delivered to his ancient saints,  has fallen into our hands, and they are presented to us with a promise of a reward if  obeyed, and with a penalty if disobeyed; and that all are deeply interested in these laws,  or teachings, must be admitted by all who acknowledge their divine authenticity.
It may be proper for us to notice in this place, a few of the many blessings held out  in this law of heaven as a reward to those who obey its teachings. God has appointed  a day in which he will judge the world, and this he has given an assurance of in that he  raised up his Son Jesus Christ from the dead; the point on which the hope of all who  believe the inspired record is founded for their future happiness and enjoyment: because,  if Christ is not risen, said Paul to the Corinthians, your faith is vain; ye are yet in  your sins: and those who have fallen asleep in him have perished. -[See 1 Cor. xv.]-  If the resurrection from the dead is not an important point, or item in our faith, we  must confess that we know nothing about it; for if there is no resurrection from the  dead, then Christ has not risen; and if Christ has not risen he was not the Son of God;  and if he was not the Son of God there is not nor cannot be a Son of God, if the pres ent book called the scriptures is true; because the time has gone by when, according to  that book he was to make his appearance. On this subject, however, we are reminded  of the words of Peter to the Jewish Sanhedrim, when speaking of Christ, he says, that  God raised him from the dead, and we -[the apostles]- are his witnesses of these things,  and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. -[See  Acts v.]- So that after the testimony of the scriptures on this point, the assurance is  given by the Holy Ghost, bearing witness to those who obey him, that Christ himself  has assuredly risen from the dead; and if he has risen from the dead, he will, by his  power, bring all men to stand before him; for if he has risen from the dead the bands of  the temporal death are broken that the grave has no victory. If then, the grave has no  victory, those who keep the sayings of Jesus and obey his teachings have, not only a  promise of a resurrection from the dead; but an assurance of being admitted into his  glorious kingdom; for, he himself says, Where I am, there shall also my servant be. -[see  John xii.]- In the twenty second chapter of Luke’s account of the Messiah, we find the  kingdom of heaven likened unto a king who made a marriage for his son. That this son  was the Messiah will not be disputed, since it was the kingdom of heaven that was rep resented in the parable; and that the saints, or those who are found faithful to the Lord,  are the individuals who will be found worthy to inherit a seat at the marriage-supper, is  evident from the sayings of John in the Revelations, where he represents the sound  which he heard in heaven to be like a great multitude, or like the voice of mighty thun derings, saying, The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and  give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made her self ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and  white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. -[Rev. xix.]-
That those only are the individuals who keep the of the Lord and  walk in his statutes to the end, that are permitted to set at this glorious feast, is evident  from the following items: In Paul’s last letter to Timothy, which was written just pre vious to his death, he says, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I  have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which  the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto  all them also that love his appearing. No one who believes the account, will doubt for  a moment this assertion of Paul which was made, as he knew, just before he was to take  his leave of this world. Though he once, according to his own word, persecuted the  church of God and wasted it, yet after embracing the faith, his labors were unceasing to  spread the glorious news; and like a faithful soldier, when called to give his life in the  cause which he had espoused, he laid it down, as he says, with an assurance of an eter nal crown. Follow the labors of this apostle from the time of his conversion to the time  of his death, and you will have a fair sample of industry and patience in promulgating  the gospel of Christ: Whipped, stoned, and derided, the moment he escaped the hands  of his persecutors, he, as zealously as ever, proclaimed the doctrine of the Savior. And  all may know, that he did not embrace the faith for the honor of this life, nor for the  gain of earthly goods. What then could have induced him to undergo all this toil? It  was, as he said, that he might obtain that crown of righteousness from the hand of God.  No one, we presume, will doubt the faithfulness of Paul to the end: None will say, that  he did not keep the faith, that he did not fight the good fight, that he did not preach  and persuade to the last: And what was he to receive? A crown of righteousness.  And what shall others receive who do not labor faithfully, and continue to the end? We  leave such to search out their own promises if any they have; and if they have any they  are welcome to them, on our part, for the Lord says, that every man is to recive accor ding to his works. Reflect for a moment, brethren, and enquire, whether you would  consider yourselves worthy a seat at the marriage feast with Paul and others like him,  if you had been unfaithful? Had you not fought the good fight, and kept the faith, could  you expect to receive; have you a promise of receiving a crown of righteousness from  the hand of the Lord, with the church of the first born? Here then, we understand, that  Paul rested his hope in Christ because he had kept the faith, and loved his appearing;  and from his hand he had a promise of receiving a crown of righteousness. If the  saints are not to reign, for what purpose are they crowned? In an exhortation of the Lord  to a certain church in Asia, which was built up in the days of the apostles, unto whom  he communicated his word on that occasion by his servant John, he says, Behold I come  quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. And again, To him  that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and  am set down with my Father in his throne. -[see Rev iii.]- And again, it is written, Be hold, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be: but we  know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.—  And he that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure. -[1 John. iii,  2 & 3.]- How is it that these old apostels should say so much on the subject of the com ing of Christ? He certainly had once came; but Paul says, To all who love his appear ing, shall be given the crown: and John says, When he shall appear, we shall be like  him; for we shall see him as he is. Can we mistake such language as this? Do we  not offer violence to our own good judgment when we deny the second coming of the  Messiah? When has he partook of the fruit of the vine new with his ancient apostles  in his Father’s kingdom, as he said, just before he was crucified? In Paul’s epistle to  the Philippians, iii, 20 & 21, he says, For our conversation is in heaven; from whence  also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that  it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is  able even to subdue all things unto himself. We find another promise to individuals  living in the church at Sardis, -[see Rev. iii. 4 & 5.]- which will also show something of  the blessings held out to the ancients who walked worthily before the Lord, which says,  Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they  shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall  be clothed in white raiment and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; but  I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. John represents the  sound which he heard from heaven, as giving thanks and glory to God, saying that the  Lamb was worthy to take the book, and to open its seals; beacuse he was slain, and had  by his blood redeemed them out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation;  and had made them kings and priests unto God: and they should reign on the earth. -[see  Rev. v.]- In the twentieth chapter we find a length of time specified, during which Sa tan is to be confined in his own place, and the saints reign in peace. All these prom ises and blessings we find contained in the law of the Lord, which the righteous are to  enjoy; and we might enumerate many more places where the same or similar promises  are made to the faithful, but we do not deem it of importance to rehearse them here, as  this letter is now lengthy; and our brethren no doubt, are familiar with them all.  Most assuredly it is, however, that the ancients, though persecuted and afflicted by men,  obtained from God promises of such weight and glory, that our hearts are often filled  with gratitude, that we are even permitted to look upon them, while we contemplate  that there is no respect of persons in his sight, and that in every nation, he that feareth  him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. But from the few items previ ously quoted, we can draw a conclusion, that there is to be a day when all will be judg ed of their works, and rewarded according to the same; that those who have kept the  faith will be crowned with a crown of righteousness; be clothed in white raiment; be ad mitted to the marriage-feast; be free from every affliction, and reign with Christ on the  earth, where, according to the ancient promise, they will partake of the fruit of the vine  new in the glorious kingdom with him: at least we find that such promises were made  to the ancient saints. And though we cannot claim these promises which were made  to the ancients, or that they are not our property merely because they were made to  them, yet if we are the children of the most High, and are called with the same calling  with which they were called, and embrace the same covenant that they embraced, and  are faithful to the testimony of our Lord as they were, we can approach the Father in  the name of Christ as they approached him, and for ourselves obtain the same promises.  These promises, when obtained, if ever by us, will not be because Peter, John, and  the other apostles, with the churches at Sardis, Purgamos, Philadelphia, and elsewhere,  walked in the fear of God and had power and faith to prevail and obtain them; but it  will be because we, ourselves, have faith and approach him in the name of his Son Jesus  Christ, even as they did; and when these promises are obtained, they will be promises di rectly to us, or they will do us no good: communicated for our benefit; being our own  property, (through the gift of God,) earned by our own diligence in keeping his com mandments, and walking uprightly before him. If not, to what end serves the gospel  of our Lord Jesus Christ, and why was it ever communicated to us?
Previous to commencing this letter we designed giving you some instruction upon  the regulation of the church; but that will be given hereafter. -[to be continued.]- [p. 144]
contain; but to say that God never said any thing more to man than is there recorded, would be saying at once, that we have at last received a revelation; for it must be one to advance thus far, because it is no where said in that volume by the mouth of God, that he would not, after giving what is there contained, speak again; and if any man has found out that for a fact, he has ascertained it by an immediate revelation, other than has been previously written by the prophets and apostles. But through the kind providence of our Father a portion of his word which he delivered to his ancient saints, has fallen into our hands, and they are presented to us with a promise of a reward if obeyed, and with a penalty if disobeyed; and that all are deeply interested in these laws, or teachings, must be admitted by all who acknowledge their divine authenticity.
It may be proper for us to notice in this place, a few of the many blessings held out in this law of heaven as a reward to those who obey its teachings. God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world, and this he has given an assurance of in that he raised up his Son Jesus Christ from the dead; the point on which the hope of all who believe the inspired record is founded for their future happiness and enjoyment: because, if Christ is not risen, said Paul to the Corinthians, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins: and those who have fallen asleep in him have perished. -[See 1 Cor. xv.]- If the resurrection from the dead is not an important point, or item in our faith, we must confess that we know nothing about it; for if there is no resurrection from the dead, then Christ has not risen; and if Christ has not risen he was not the Son of God; and if he was not the Son of God there is not nor cannot be a Son of God, if the present book called the scriptures is true; because the time has gone by when, according to that book he was to make his appearance. On this subject, however, we are reminded of the words of Peter to the Jewish Sanhedrim, when speaking of Christ, he says, that God raised him from the dead, and we -[the apostles]- are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. -[See Acts v.]- So that after the testimony of the scriptures on this point, the assurance is given by the Holy Ghost, bearing witness to those who obey him, that Christ himself has assuredly risen from the dead; and if he has risen from the dead, he will, by his power, bring all men to stand before him; for if he has risen from the dead the bands of the temporal death are broken that the grave has no victory. If then, the grave has no victory, those who keep the sayings of Jesus and obey his teachings have, not only a promise of a resurrection from the dead; but an assurance of being admitted into his glorious kingdom; for, he himself says, Where I am, there shall also my servant be. -[see John xii.]- In the twenty second chapter of Luke’s account of the Messiah, we find the kingdom of heaven likened unto a king who made a marriage for his son. That this son was the Messiah will not be disputed, since it was the kingdom of heaven that was represented in the parable; and that the saints, or those who are found faithful to the Lord, are the individuals who will be found worthy to inherit a seat at the marriage-supper, is evident from the sayings of John in the Revelations, where he represents the sound which he heard in heaven to be like a great multitude, or like the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. -[Rev. xix.]-
That those only are the individuals who keep the of the Lord and walk in his statutes to the end, that are permitted to set at this glorious feast, is evident from the following items: In Paul’s last letter to Timothy, which was written just previous to his death, he says, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. No one who believes the account, will doubt for a moment this assertion of Paul which was made, as he knew, just before he was to take his leave of this world. Though he once, according to his own word, persecuted the church of God and wasted it, yet after embracing the faith, his labors were unceasing to spread the glorious news; and like a faithful soldier, when called to give his life in the cause which he had espoused, he laid it down, as he says, with an assurance of an eternal crown. Follow the labors of this apostle from the time of his conversion to the time of his death, and you will have a fair sample of industry and patience in promulgating the gospel of Christ: Whipped, stoned, and derided, the moment he escaped the hands of his persecutors, he, as zealously as ever, proclaimed the doctrine of the Savior. And all may know, that he did not embrace the faith for the honor of this life, nor for the gain of earthly goods. What then could have induced him to undergo all this toil? It was, as he said, that he might obtain that crown of righteousness from the hand of God. No one, we presume, will doubt the faithfulness of Paul to the end: None will say, that he did not keep the faith, that he did not fight the good fight, that he did not preach and persuade to the last: And what was he to receive? A crown of righteousness. And what shall others receive who do not labor faithfully, and continue to the end? We leave such to search out their own promises if any they have; and if they have any they are welcome to them, on our part, for the Lord says, that every man is to recive according to his works. Reflect for a moment, brethren, and enquire, whether you would consider yourselves worthy a seat at the marriage feast with Paul and others like him, if you had been unfaithful? Had you not fought the good fight, and kept the faith, could you expect to receive; have you a promise of receiving a crown of righteousness from the hand of the Lord, with the church of the first born? Here then, we understand, that Paul rested his hope in Christ because he had kept the faith, and loved his appearing; and from his hand he had a promise of receiving a crown of righteousness. If the saints are not to reign, for what purpose are they crowned? In an exhortation of the Lord to a certain church in Asia, which was built up in the days of the apostles, unto whom he communicated his word on that occasion by his servant John, he says, Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. And again, To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. -[see Rev iii.]- And again, it is written, Behold, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be: but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.— And he that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure. -[1 John. iii, 2 & 3.]- How is it that these old apostels should say so much on the subject of the coming of Christ? He certainly had once came; but Paul says, To all who love his appearing, shall be given the crown: and John says, When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. Can we mistake such language as this? Do we not offer violence to our own good judgment when we deny the second coming of the Messiah? When has he partook of the fruit of the vine new with his ancient apostles in his Father’s kingdom, as he said, just before he was crucified? In Paul’s epistle to the Philippians, iii, 20 & 21, he says, For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. We find another promise to individuals living in the church at Sardis, -[see Rev. iii. 4 & 5.]- which will also show something of the blessings held out to the ancients who walked worthily before the Lord, which says, Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. John represents the sound which he heard from heaven, as giving thanks and glory to God, saying that the Lamb was worthy to take the book, and to open its seals; beacuse he was slain, and had by his blood redeemed them out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation; and had made them kings and priests unto God: and they should reign on the earth. -[see Rev. v.]- In the twentieth chapter we find a length of time specified, during which Satan is to be confined in his own place, and the saints reign in peace. All these promises and blessings we find contained in the law of the Lord, which the righteous are to enjoy; and we might enumerate many more places where the same or similar promises are made to the faithful, but we do not deem it of importance to rehearse them here, as this letter is now lengthy; and our brethren no doubt, are familiar with them all. Most assuredly it is, however, that the ancients, though persecuted and afflicted by men, obtained from God promises of such weight and glory, that our hearts are often filled with gratitude, that we are even permitted to look upon them, while we contemplate that there is no respect of persons in his sight, and that in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. But from the few items previously quoted, we can draw a conclusion, that there is to be a day when all will be judged of their works, and rewarded according to the same; that those who have kept the faith will be crowned with a crown of righteousness; be clothed in white raiment; be admitted to the marriage-feast; be free from every affliction, and reign with Christ on the earth, where, according to the ancient promise, they will partake of the fruit of the vine new in the glorious kingdom with him: at least we find that such promises were made to the ancient saints. And though we cannot claim these promises which were made to the ancients, or that they are not our property merely because they were made to them, yet if we are the children of the most High, and are called with the same calling with which they were called, and embrace the same covenant that they embraced, and are faithful to the testimony of our Lord as they were, we can approach the Father in the name of Christ as they approached him, and for ourselves obtain the same promises. These promises, when obtained, if ever by us, will not be because Peter, John, and the other apostles, with the churches at Sardis, Purgamos, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, walked in the fear of God and had power and faith to prevail and obtain them; but it will be because we, ourselves, have faith and approach him in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, even as they did; and when these promises are obtained, they will be promises directly to us, or they will do us no good: communicated for our benefit; being our own property, (through the gift of God,) earned by our own diligence in keeping his commandments, and walking uprightly before him. If not, to what end serves the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and why was it ever communicated to us?
Previous to commencing this letter we designed giving you some instruction upon the regulation of the church; but that will be given hereafter. -[to be continued.]- [p. 144]
Page 144