The General Conference.

Elder Orson Pratt then addressed the congregation, opening his discourse by referring to the organization of the Kingdom of God forty-four years ago today, and the nature of that organization, it being the Kingdom of God, organized on the earth, never to be thrown down again, but which was to continue from that time henceforth and forever.  That Kingdom was not organized by man, nor by man’s wisdom, but by revelation from Jesus Christ, he having guided and directed everything in connection with it, and bestowed authority upon his chosen agents to perform the work.  For centuries prior to that event, Christian denominations had been organized without revelation, their organizers not even pretending to have received one sentence from the Lord in relation to the work they had undertaken; and in this respect the Latter-day Saints differed widely and essentially from all other denominations of Christians.  Men, without revelation, might organize a great variety of forms of government, both of a civic and ecclesiastical character; but though, in the framing of these several organizations, their founders obtained all the information possible from history, sacred and secular, without revelation from heaven they lacked the foundation and authority necessary to secure the approval of the Almighty, and to insure recognition by him.

It was impossible for people to learn their duties today from what God had said to somebody else centuries ago.  It would be just as reasonable, in the organization of a civil government, to say “the canon of laws is sealed up, and we need no legislators now, the laws framed by those who have lived are all sufficient.”  This would be quite as consistent as to suppose that God, eighteen hundred years ago, gave all the information he ever intended to give in relation to the guidance of his people and the government of his affairs here on the earth.  In civil governments, continually changing circumstances required the continued labor of the legislator; the laws of last year would not meet all the requirements of this year, and those which were made ten years ago might be altogether unsuited for the events and circumstances of today.

The speaker then adduced instances of commands given by the Almighty, to individuals and communities in times past, which would be totally inapplicable to those now living; among them the command given to Abraham to leave his native land, Chalden, to go to a land he knew not of, which was to be given to him and his seed for an everlasting possession; also the command given to Moses to go and deliver Israel from Egypt.  These and other instances referred to, and almost numberless others which might be adduced, were intended for and were binding only upon the persons or people to whom they were given.  It was not so, however, with the great moral principles which God had at various times revealed, neither with the ordinances of the gospel; they were binding throughout all time upon all people when declared and made known to them.  But in regard to special revelations and commandments, there would be thousands and tens of thousand given, during the establishment of God’s Kingdom in the last days, which would be binding only upon those to whom they came.  Of this latter class several were mentioned, among them, a revelation given to Joseph Smith to organize baptized believers into the kingdom of God on the 6th of April, 1830; also one given through the Prophet Joseph to himself (the speaker) in November, 1830, commanding him to go forth and preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, to prepare the way of the Lord for his second coming, and to lift up his voice long and loud, and cry repentance to this crooked and perverse generation.

Elder Pratt then referred to the principle of consecration and to the practice thereof and the results it produced among the ancient inhabitants of North and South America, who, as the Book of Mormon informs us, were converted to the truth very shortly after the crucifixion of the Savior, who, soon after his resurrection and ascension in Asia, appeared to the people of this land, and organized his church among them, and so great were the manifestations of the power of God in their midst, that they were soon all converted to, and carried out, the law of full consecration, for a long period, realizing as the result thereof, a great foretaste of heaven upon earth.  But when they apostatized from that order, God’s judgment speedily followed them, and they were finally almost wholly destroyed, in a great battle which took place in what is now called New York State.

In the early history of the church God had revealed this law to the Latter-day Saints, and required them to obey it.  They had failed to do so thus far; but now the servants of God were being moved upon to urge an order upon the attention and practice of the Saints, which would approximate to, and prepare them for, this higher order, which must be practiced by all in the church when they returned to Jackson county to rebuild the waste places of Zion.

[Deseret News, Apr. 8, 1874]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]

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