Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 2/Number 8/The saints of the last days
THE SAINTS OF THE LAST DAYS.
Nothing can be more pleasing and delightful than to contemplate the situation of the Latter Day Saints; placed as it were on an eminence and bringing within the compass of their observation, all the kingdoms of the world, not only those which now are, but those which are past as well as those to come; favored with the light of heaven by which they can contemplate the history of the world in its true light, understanding the situation of all who have preceded them: the light in which the great Jehovah viewed them, and their relation to the salvation of Jesus Christ.
Having before them the history of nearly six thousand years, where is written the names, the mighty works, and great faith of the former day saints, their God like nobility of soul, their splendid achievements among the nations in their day and generation, their undaunted courage in the cause of truth, their holy boldness in defence of their master's honor; their toils, their perils, their sacrifices, their indefatigable zeal, their firmness, and their ste[a]dfastness in the truth, not regarding their life unto death, their abiding testimony by which they condemned the generation which then lived, and will be had amongst men until time is no more: their great faith by which they ascended into the heights, and descended into the depths, and searched out all things, yea, even the deep things of God, seeing the end from the beginning, and the beginning from the end.
Being diligent and faithflu [faithful], while the world was stumbling in darkness and the nations were strangers to the knowledge of God, and knew not him who created them nor him who saved them; they in the midst of darkness burst forth into light, and among those who set in the valley and shadow of death they caused light to spring up; their voices were heard among nations afar off, and their power was felt in the islands of the sea. The messengers of heaven watched them by the way and rejoiced over them in righteousness.
Wide is the field of contemplation which opens to the view of the saints of the latter days, while they read the history and meditate upon the events peculiar to the saints, as set forth in the account which we have of those of former days, not only the knowledge they had of the things which then existed; but also of the things which should take place until time should end. It might be said of them in truth, that in them there was light and not darkness at all; for their knowledge extended down the stream of time until they beheld the winding up scene of this world, and reached forth into eternity to gaze upon things eternal, immortal, and invisible.
Truly their religion was a religion of intelligence, and their minds in consequence of their religion was richly laden with wisdom from on high. When we contemplate the height of their devotion, the depth of their humility, the extent of their knowledge, the greatness of their sufferings, the fervor of their zeal, the boldness of their enterprizes, the dexterity of their stratagems, the splendor of their works, the grandeur of their conceptions, the richness of their communications, the purity of their affections, the holiness of their desires, the brilliance of their course, the nobleness of their minds, the benevolence of their hearts, the sincerity of their intentions, the correctness of their motives, the power of their faith, and their incessant communion with the heavens and the heavenly hosts, being full of the Holy Spirit, and abounding in love and good works, while visions, dreams, revelations and prophesyings enlarged their minds, and prepared them for the society of the blessed.
In meditating upon these things the mind of the latter day saint struggles with the powers of darkness like Jacob with the angel, until he prevails, bursts the vail which conceals futurity from his view, and launches forth into the light of heaven to contemplate the scenes of unborn time, and to mingle his lays [laws] with the heavenly hosts and shout hosanna in the midst of the throngs which surround the throne of God.
Again the mind of the latter day saint rolls over the face of the prophetic vision which inspired the hearts of the prophets, and caused them to sing their sweetest notes, gathers up this history of all generations, by which he can compare the present with the past, and the past with the future, and bring the two ends of men's earthly existance [existence] together. Inspired by the same spirit which inspired the prophets, he can behold glories lying over the face of revelation that the eye of an uninspired man never saw nor can see; by this spirit he discovers the iniquities, and apostacy of his own days, his mind being strengthened by the spirit of inspiration so as to enable him to understand the religion of Jesus Christ and believe it, he looks over the world with feelings peculiar to the saints, and through the light of revelation gazes upon the follies and wickedness of this generation: his cares are saluted with the Lo! heres and the Lo! theres, attended with ceremonies and forms not only without power, but without the belief in it, so that indeed he sees a form of Godliness, while those who have the form, deny the power thereof.—What a great contrast he beholds between the new testament church and the churches of modern times. He views the former with its apostles, its prophets, its evangelists, its pastors and teachers, all of them men inspired of God men full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom as well as its gifts, its power of healing its miracles, its tongues, its interpreters of tongues, with the power of getting revelations, the ministering of angels the power of God which attended it.—The latter without apostles, or prophets, or evangelists, or inspiration or gifts or healings, or miracles, or tongues or interpreters of tongues, and yet the religious world will contend that they are both the same church, equally partakers of eternal life and the blessings of the Most High.
Such is the great contrast between the saints of the last days, and those who are strangers both to God and his ways, one sees understands and rejoices in the glory and order of the new testament church, while the other tries to evade the force of the plainest facts set forth in it, defaces the glory of the church of Christ, neither understanding its nature, nor its beauty, nor yet comprehending its glory; but contents himself with a form of Godliness denying the power thereof.
In reviewing the history of his own times as written by the prophets the saint of the latter days sees fulfilling on the heads of this generation, all that God has spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets, while they are insensible of that, and in consequence of their great apostasy, he beholds the day of the Lord so coming upon them as a thief in the night, and sudden distruction [destruction] coming upon them and they know it not; because they know not God.—He sees them eating, and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, crying all is well in Zion; fear not all things are continuing as they were since the creation of the world; truly he sees that the generation among whom he lives are just such a people as there were in the days of Noah.—While he beholds the heavens and the earth big with events of an awful character, every nation preparing itself for the day of battle and the sacrifice of the great God.
He often fancies to himself that he is like one of the ancient prophets who incessantly lifted his voice to backsliding Israel, warning them of the judgments of almighty God which were coming upon them, but they would not here, he saw them haste to distruction [destruction] and no power could prevent it. So the saint of the latter days sees this generation hastening to distruction [destruction], "while their judgment of a long time sleepeth not and their damnation slumbereth not," but their eyes are closed in sleep and their eye lids in slumber, and they see not neither do they know. Therefore he does know that all that God has spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets concerning them will be fulfilled; for the day of the Lord will most assuredly overtake them as a thief in the night, and at the time when they are crying peace and safety, sudden destruction will come upon them and they shall not escape.
Whose feelings can be like the latter day saints? I answer none; because there are no persons who do know the situation of this generation except those who are inspired of God to understand it, neither can any of them understand the signs of the times: there may be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars, perplexity of nations, men's hearts failing them for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth, while the uninspired in the midst of these things understand them not, neither do they know them, but like the ox fatted for the slaughter they haste to distruction [destruction] and know it not, neither will they know till they lift up their eyes in hell being in torment; for in the midst of the calamities which will come upon them, they will curse their King and their God and die. And yet with all their abomination have a form of godliness; but it is only a form, for they deny, and will deny the power thereof, in consequence of which they will go down to hell and their eyes will be shut until they are opened in torment.
How marvelous, cries the saint of God, it is, that men have a bible and read it, and preach about it day after day, and night after night, and yet not believe one item of it: reject the entire religion thereof and go down to hell holding the light of God in their hands: run from neighborhood to neighborhood, preach, proclaim, admonish, and warn, make proselytes in hundreds and thousands, and when they have made them only make their damnation more certain than it was before. Such is the light in which the latter day saint beholds all the works of the men of this generation; knowing by the spirit of inspiration that their religion is nothing more than a cunningly devised fable, a device of satan to hold the world more firm in his chains until he drags them down to perdition, and through this means obtains to himself a rich harvest of souls, who shall suffer the vengeance of eternal fire.
But there is something in the midst of this scene of darkness which cheers the hearts of the saints, exceedingly, it is, that the truth has once more made its appearance, and light has began to shine in darkness, and the spirit of inspiration is returning to the earth, the voice of the prophets is heard again in the land, and communion is again opened with the heavens, and babes begin to understand that which is hid from the eyes of the wise and the prudent, and the weak things of the earth begin to confound the mighty, and the foolish things of the earth, put to shame those who are wise, and men are beginning again to follow after God, and multitudes are finding him to the everlasting joy and gratitude of their hearts, and God is again, saying to men, build me places as I shall direct you, where I can manifest myself to you, and send my angels to minister to you as in days of old. Judges are returning as at the first, and counsellors as at the beginning. And the saints may well look for the time when the "wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them and the desert shall blos[s]om as the rose."