One of the greatest mistakes that the leaders of the old church made, and a mistake which the Latter Day Saints are making to-day, is concerning this matter.
The time for building the city New Jerusalem has not yet come. The leaders of the old church, in their unwise zeal, prompted more by the spirit of man than the Spirit of God to do great things in the Lord’s vineyard, began to think that they were the few chosen servants who should labor in the last pruning of the vineyard, and do the great closing work of the last dispensation of the fullness of times — building the city New Jerusalem, etc. If they had been more humble and lowly in heart, they would not have made this great mistake. They did not stop to consider that God had his own time in which his great and marvelous works should be done among the inhabitants of the earth. They thought that the time for building the city New Jerusalem must be now at hand — in their time — man’s time — and that they were the ones who were to build it. In this condition of heart, brought about by their unwise zeal and the spirit of man to do great things, instead of being humble, they had Brother Joseph to get a revelation as to the time of building that city, and gathering into it. So Brother Joseph gave a revelation, as mouthpiece, that the time was then at hand, and they began to gather into Jackson County, Missouri, at once. They were too hasty. The time to build that city had not yet come, because Christ says that the “remnant of Jacob” (the seed of Lehi, unto whom this land was consecrated) are the people who shall build that city, and the Gentiles are only to assist them to build it. The other people who shall also assist them to build that city are “as many of the house of Israel as shall come” into the covenant. Therefore if the seed of Lehi are to build that city, the leaders of the old church and the Latter Day Saints to-day are in error in this matter. I will show you from the Book of Mormon that the seed of Lehi, on whom the choicest blessing of any of the house of Israel rests, are the people who shall be honored with building that city; and that the rest of the house of Israel who are faithful, and also the Gentiles, shall only assist them in that work (Nephi x:1). Christ himself says: “And they (the Gentiles) shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob; and also, as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem; and then shall they assist my people that they (all) may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.” From this we see the remnant of Jacob are the ones who shall build that city, and the Gentiles and the rest of the house of Israel shall only assist them. Now, the question is, what people does the “remnant of Jacob” here refer to? We find that Christ makes it plain in this same sermon he is preaching to them, that the remnant of Jacob means the remnant of the seed of Lehi. In the preceding chapter, paragraph eleven, Christ says as follows: “When these things… shall be made known unto the Gentiles, that they may know concerning this people, who are a ‘remnant of the house of Jacob,’ and concerning this my people who shall be scattered by them.” So we see that the remnant of Jacob means the Lamanites, or seed of Lehi. Then it is plain that the time to build that city has not yet come, because the remnant of Jacob is to do that work.
There is an expression that Christ uses in this chapter which is often used by the prophets; that expression is “At that day.” All who understand the scriptures know that this expression means in that dispensation of time. A dispensation may be a thousand years, more or less; and the prophets all speak of a dispensation by saying “at that day.” A day with the Lord is as a thousand years. Isaiah, when prophesying of events to take place in the same dispensation, but more than a thousand years apart, speaks of them in the same chapter by saying “at that day“; when a person who does not understand the scriptures might think from his language that the events were to transpire within a few years of each other. Some of the brethren have tried to prove that Brother Joseph was the Choice Seer because the text says of this man that he shall “be made strong in that day when my work shall commence among all my people,” etc. In that day or at that day means in that dispensation or cycle of time; and it would be folly for us to attempt to locate the time of an event because it says in that day. The above text means as follows: In the dispensation of time in which the work of the Father shall commence to restore Israel, in that dispensation — in that day — the Choice Seer is to be made strong.
So also in this chapter concerning the building of the city New Jerusalem, in speaking of the time when the house of Israel shall be gathered in unto that city from all over the earth, a time when the power of heaven shall come down among them, a time when Jesus Christ will be in their midst, it says at that day shall the work of the Father commence, etc. Of course we understand the words at that day to mean in that dispensation of time, which may extend over a thousand years.
We suppose of course that the sealed records which are to come forth will give full instructions concerning the gathering in unto the city New Jerusalem, and the restoration of Israel that is now scattered among every nation under heaven. These great events are simply mentioned in the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I believe that no man living in the flesh has ever had any conception of the great and marvelous work of the Lord which is yet to transpire in gathering the house of Israel. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is only a preparatory work. It is only an abridgement of the sealed records of the Nephites. Records are yet to come forth which “reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof”; all things which have been done, and all things which are yet to be done — the great and wondrous mysteries and the works of God which are yet to transpire.