THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST ALL CONTAINED IN THE TWO SACRED BOOKS.
Some of the Latter Day Saints have claimed that as the Book of Mormon is an abridgement of the Nephite records, it does not contain all the doctrine of Christ, hence the need of the revelations of Joseph Smith. All who make this claim are in error, as Christ himself says, (Nephi ix:11), that his doctrine is contained in the Book of Mormon. In speaking of the Book of Mormon he says, that when these things shall be made known unto the Gentiles, that they might “know of the true points of my doctrine.” We have also see in the previous chapter, that the words and doctrine of Christ are to be made known in the Bible and in the Nephite records. Now brethren, these scriptures are as plain as can be; they need no comments of mine to make them any more plain. The Doctrine and Covenants do not claim to have been translated from the records of Nephi’s seed — the sealed records. This plain scripture should and will be sufficient to convince any person without prejudice, that the Doctrine and Covenants should be discarded as a law of God to the church. The doctrine of Christ always was and will be the same. The Book of Mormon tells us that the sealed records yet to come forth will contain great mysteries of things that are to transpire before the end of the world; but this is another thing outside of the gospel or doctrine of Christ. Paul says that if an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed. The teachings or doctrine of Christ as set forth in the Book of Mormon are full and plain. Mormon says, “and now there cannot be written in this book even the hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach the people.” Of course this means all the words that Jesus taught or spoke to them, including the great mysteries of things to take place in the future, which mysteries the Lord forbade them to write. John also says of the things which Jesus truly did and taught, “the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” (John xxi:25). But is any one so blind as to understand from this language that the doctrine of Christ, or as we use the expression, the teachings of Christ, are not contained in full in the Bible and Book of Mormon? No spiritual man would so interpret this scripture.
In June, 1829, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and myself, received this commandment through the stone, “Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written (then, at that time, June, 1829), for in them are all things written concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock.” This revelation reads this way to-day in the old Book of Commandments. But the Latter Day saints changed it in 1834 to read different in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. The revelations received through the stone in 1829, agree with the teachings of Christ in the Bible and Book of Mormon; but in order to support the errors which were afterwards introduced by men, some of the early revelations have been changed and added to, as I will show you in another chapter. In order to uphold these errors, your leaders claim that as the Book of Mormon is an abridgement of the Nephite records, containing only a small part of the things which Christ said and did, that it does not contain all the doctrines, laws, ordinances and offices which Christ meant to be in the church; therefore Brother Joseph’s revelations are needed to establish other doctrines, laws, ordinances and offices that Christ left out of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and out of the revelations when God first gave them in 1829. Oh the weakness and folly of man! How any person can be so blind in the face of all this evidence, as to still uphold the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, is more than I can understand. But there are none so blind as those who will not see.
You have changed the revelations from the way they were first given and as they are to-day in the Book of Commandments, to support the error of Brother Joseph in taking upon himself the office of Seer to the church. You have changed the revelations to support the error of high priests. You have changed the revelations to support the error of a President of the high priesthood, high counselors, etc. You have altered the revelations to support you in going beyond the plain teachings of Christ in the new covenant part of the Book of Mormon. You have changed and altered the revelations to support the error of publishing those revelations in a book: the errors you are in, revelations have been changed to support and uphold them. You who are now living did not change them, but you who strive to defend these things, are as guilty in the sight of God as those who did change them.
As I have stated, I am called to bear testimony that the Bible, as well as the Book of Mormon, is true: and no one should place the one book ahead of the other; they are one! The Book of Mormon tells us that many plain things have been taken from the Bible, so that the Gentiles stumble and contend about the true points of Christ’s doctrine. It says that the Book of Mormon has been kept pure, and come forth pure so as to make plain the doctrine of Christ; that we might know of the true points of his doctrine. Is it not plain that we should rely upon it on all doctrinal points, and the order of offices in the church? It certainly is, and this is not placing it ahead of the Bible. The Book of Mormon is full and plain on the doctrine of Christ. Christ chose “twelve” and called them disciples, or elders (not apostles); and the “twelve” ordained elders, priests, and teachers. These are all the spiritual offices in the church: that is, the officers who are ordained to officiate in spiritual ordinances; as baptism, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost; ordaining other officers, administering the Lord’s supper, etc. The office of a Bishop is to administer in temporal things. He is the business man of the church. The church has a right to appoint officers who act in a temporal capacity; this is outside of the spiritual offices. We see that the disciples at Jerusalem appointed temporal officers. Acts vi:2-3: “Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said: It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” So they appointed the seven deacons.
“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (1 Cor. xii:28). The Latter Day Saints stumble over this passage, and it is strange that they do. Paul is not referring here to all the officers in the church. The office of an Elder is not named. He refers to miracles, gifts of healing, diversities of tongues, and these are not offices in the Church. He is referring here to the gifts, as you can see plainly by reading the chapter. He says at the conclusion of this, in the thirty-first verse, “But covet earnestly the best gifts.” In the New Testament it speaks of evangelists, pastors, teachers, helps, governments, etc. Are we to suppose from this, that we are now to establish offices in the Church under those respective names of helps, pastors, governments, etc.? Not at all. These names come to us thus translated. Concerning the spiritual offices in the church, Elders, Priests and Teachers, with their duties as given in the Book of Mormon, they comprise the officers who are qualified to act in all spiritual matters, and there is no need of any more spiritual offices than these in the church, as we can plainly see from the scriptures.
The Book of Mormon is full concerning all spiritual matters pertaining to the Church of Christ. Instructions are given as to the manner of baptism, laying on of hands, the manner of administering the flesh and blood of Christ; that the church must meet together oft to fast and to pray and to speak concerning the welfare of their souls; how the meeting should be conducted; how a back-sliding member is to be tried, before the Elders by the testimony of three witnesses, and if they repented not, they were to be cut off, etc., etc. It is all set forth therein in plainness, and we have no need of the Doctrine and Covenants or any other creed.
The twelve at Jerusalem are called in the written word “Apostles.” They are apostles because they were special witnesses to the sufferings of Christ, His death, burial and resurrection: but the twelve which Christ chose on this land are called disciples or elders, and are not once called apostles in the Book of Mormon. In the revelation which came through the stone in June, 1829, to Oliver Cowdery and myself to search out the twelve, they are also called disciples, and not apostles; and the revelation says “disciples” in the Book of Commandments to-day. But it has been changed in the Doctrine and Covenants to read “apostles.” The heading to this revelation in the Book of Commandments says: “Making known the calling of twelve ‘Disciples’ in these last days.” In the Doctrines and Covenants to reads: “Making known the calling of twelve ‘Apostles’ in these last days.” In 1 Nephi iii:26, where reference is made to the twelve at Jerusalem and the twelve upon this land, each twelve are called by their respective names: “Behold the twelve ‘Disciples’ of the Lamb, who are chosen to minister unto thy seed. And he (the angel) said unto me, thou remembereth the twelve ‘Apostles’ of the Lamb? Behold they are they who shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel: wherefore, the twelve ministers of thy seed shall be judged of them.” The twelve on this land are called disciples, and not in any place are they called apostles. When Christ was teaching the twelve on this land, in giving them instructions He refers to the way His twelve apostles did at Jerusalem in the laying on of hands, saying to them: “For thus do mine apostles.”
In 1 Cor. xii:28, it says: “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets,” etc. He did so, placing the twelve apostles first, which he chose at Jerusalem: they are to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, and they are to judge the twelve disciples whom Christ chose on this land among the Nephites. Therefore, we see from the written word that there is only one twelve who are called apostles, and that they are placed first.
When it is God’s own due time to gather up the scattered fragments of his kingdom which has been laid waste by men, then we suppose that God will place at the head of his church twelve disciples; but we of the Church of Christ will not place them there, unless God so commands us. This is God’s work and not man’s work. We do not believe in twelve man-made disciples.
I consider the Book of Doctrine and Covenants a creed of religious faith. You can see from the first edition (Kirtland, 1835) that men, on the authority of other men, and no authority from God, “arranged the items of the doctrine of Jesus Christ” in that book, and in August, 1835, adopted it as the doctrine and covenants of their faith by a unanimous vote of the high council, thus making it a law to the church for the first time. To these proceedings I objected from the first, as I also did to changing the name of the church. Why should they not have been satisfied with the way that God has arranged the items of his doctrine in his Holy Word? What authority had they for making a creed? I will quote from the Kirtland edition of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants of 1835, and you can see for yourselves that what I say is correct. Quotation from the preface: “We deem it to be unnecessary to entertain you with a lengthy preface to the following volume, but merely to say that it contains in short the leading items of the religion which we have professed to believe. The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of lectures as delivered before a theological class in this place, and, in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation, we have arranged them into the following work…. There may be an aversion in the minds of some against receiving anything purporting to be articles of religious faith, in consequence of there being so many CREEDS now extant; but if men believe a system and profess that it was given by inspiration, certainly the more intelligibly they can present it the better. … We have, therefore, endeavored to present, though in few words, OUR belief, and, when we say this, humbly trust the faith and principles of this society as a body.”
Where is their authority from God for making this creed, and making it a law to the church? I will now quote from pages 255 and 256 of the same book: “The assembly being duly organized, and, after transacting certain business of the church, proceeded to appoint a committee to ARRANGE THE ITEMS OF DOCTRINE OF JESUS CHRIST…. These items are to be taken from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the revelations which have been given to said church up to its date, or shall be until such arrangement is made. … Whereupon the High Council of Kirtland accepted and acknowledged them as the doctrine and covenants of their faith by a unanimous vote.” It was here made a law to the church for the first time. So we see that their whole proceedings were upon their own authority — upon the authority of men and not God. Also, that the Doctrine and Covenants is a creed, as much so as any sectarian creed.
Some of the Latter Day Saints claim that the Doctrine and Covenants is one of the Books spoken of in Nephi’s vision, which he saw taken to the Lamanites from the Gentiles. (1 Nephi iii:42.) How anyone can so interpret that scripture is more than I can understand; because it says on the same page, that those “Books” (records) contained the words that Christ spake unto the Nephites, which words should be hid up, to come forth to the Gentiles, after the Nephites had dwindled in unbelief. Nephi saw “other Books” taken to the Lamanites, after the Bible was taken to them. The Book of Mormon is one of those books, but the other is yet to come forth from the Nephite records, which are yet hid up and sealed. It is to come to the Gentiles, and they will carry it and the Book of Mormon to the Lamanites, to the convincing of the Gentiles, the Lamanites and the Jews. Now, how is it that anyone can claim the Doctrine and Covenants as being one of those “Books”? The Book of Doctrine and Covenants itself does not claim to be the words of the Nephite record which are hid up. The Book of Mormon was translated from those records, and more is yet to be translated from them, but it will not come forth in the days of wickedness (2 Nephi xi:17. Ether i:11). I will quote the scripture relating to the “other Books” which Nephi saw in his vision. It is very plain. (1 Nephi iii:41-42). The angel, talking to Nephi, says:
“Behold, saith the Lamb, I will manifest myself unto thy seed (the Nephites), that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren; behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb; and in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation;… (same page) And it came to pass that I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren (the Lamanites), and also the Book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew (the Bible), that it came forth from the Gentiles, unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren; and after it had come forth unto them (the Lamanites), I beheld OTHER BOOKS, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles, and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth,” etc.
Now brethren, words cannot be plainer than this scripture, and it shows that the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is not one of those books. It is strange to me, why the heads of your church will attempt to prove that the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is one of those books here spoken of, as they are to come from sealed records which are yet hid up.