On one occasion as the Twelve Disciples whom Jesus had chosen, were traveling about as He had commanded, preaching the Gospel and baptizing in His Name all those who came unto them desiring to have that sacred ordinance performed, they united together in mighty prayer. The subject about which they prayed most earnestly was, "What should be the name of the Church?" for its members were not united on this matter.
While they were thus engaged, Jesus again showed Himself unto them. They were praying to the Father in Jesus' Name, and He perceiving their perplexity, said unto them: "What will ye that I shall give unto you?" Their answer was quick and deliberate: "We will that Thou wouldst tell us the Name whereby we shall call this Church."
After a gentle reprimand to those who disputed because of what Name the Church should be called, Jesus pointed to the Scriptures in which an answer to this query could easily be found.
"Have you not read the Scriptures," He asked, "which say ye must take upon you the Name of Christ, which is My Name? For by this Name shall ye be called at the Last Day. And whoso taketh upon him My Name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the Last Day. Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in My Name; therefore ye shall call the Church in My Name...."(v. 7)
Christ further told them that it could not be His Church if it were not called by His Name. If they called the Church by the name of a man, it would be that man's church, and if by the name of Moses, it would be Moses' church; but being His Church it should be called by His Holy Name, provided, the Lord said: "if it so be that they are built upon My Gospel."
Let us digress for a moment, and consider the present Name of Christ's Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Let us begin with what is called the Dark Ages. We herein reprint what we have said previously:
There are many passages of Scripture that relate to the Dark Ages. It is a section in the story of mankind that is little understood. How man plunged into such depths of depravity, while at the same time he created unexcelled works of art and architecture, has not been explained. It is a mystery. It can only be likened to the downfall of classic Greece, there, when the arts were in their highest glory, the wickedness and abandonment of that people reached its maximum.
Surely darkness covered the earth. There was scarcely a ray of light to illumine the darkness. One is bewildered by the lack of moral and spiritual light, the darkness of which hung like a cloud over all Europe.
Well might the prophet exclaim:
"Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the Sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them." (Micah 3:6)
Just as the earth in rotating turns from the great Sun into darkness, just so did the people of the earth turn from the Son of Righteousness. For centuries there was no light; God did not reveal Himself to those who claimed to be His vicegerents here on earth.
In medieval darkness, ignorance and superstition were almost universal. It was a crime to read God's Holy Word, and a heresy to worship Him according to one's own conscience. The annals of those times trace, indelibly, the course of the human heart when evil and error take the lead. The chosen leaders of the Church, the guardians of its purity, the watchmen in its towers appointed to defend and to guide, became its corruptors, and the Church, itself, was made a vehicle upon which unworthy priests rode to positions of prominence and power. The highest positions in the Church were bought and sold as common merchandise. Men became the servants of evil; in the name of that which is most holy, they excused themselves in doing that which is most to be eschewed.
Priest-ridden, by fraud maintained, with error throughout, the Church of Jesus Christ ceased to exist upon the earth. In the words of Doctor D. D. Cummin, a student of those times and a clergyman of the Church of England:
"Deadly errors grew up like rank grass; deception, the most revolting, outraged the whole church; blasphemous assumptions and what Paul calls 'doctrines of devils' heaped power and affluence upon the clergy, until they were, in the words of the Apostle, 'exalted above all that is called God.' The doctrines of the church were arrayed in robes the most grotesque and ridiculous, and all Christendom was decked in the habiliments of absolute apostasy.
We think it not necessary nor wise to enter here into any prolonged exposition of the awful events recorded of the Middle Ages of Europe, but we deem it important to say that during that long night all succession in the Priesthood of God was broken, and what was left was merely a sham, a fraud, which led like "the blind leading the blind" along "slippery ways of darkness." Their unseeing eyes failed to behold "the Light that shines in the dark," "the Light of the world," the "Son of Righteousness."
It is not our purpose to denounce any church, nor to condemn its adherents for their beliefs. Each church has some truth in it, but they do not have the Priesthood of God. With their different forms of idolatry and their many creeds, their charms, deceptions, rosaries, amulets, cannons of law, etc., etc., they proclaim themselves to be, not the Church of Jesus Christ, but the "great and abominable church" which Nephi saw in a vision and which was referred to by the Apostle Paul as the "Mystery of Iniquity," the apostate church, "BABYLON THE GREAT." (Revelation 17:5)
It is here where the true Church of Christ, represented by Mormonism, can be said to be the Voice of Israel's Shepherd calling His sheep from the wood, from the mountain tops, from the moor. Mormonism declares the majestic truth that the night of spiritual darkness has passed, that the morning twilight is here, that the Voice of our Father has again been heard to speak, and again is preached that glorious proclamation, "Prepare ye the Way of the Lord."
Mormonism declares, emphatically and without equivocation, that the Priesthood of God has again been entrusted into the hands of men here upon the earth, and that the same gifts, powers, and blessings of old are again "signs that shall follow them that believe."
Let the Prophet Joseph Smith, himself, tell us concerning events that occurred at this time:
We [Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery] continued the work of translation [the Book of Mormon] when, in the ensuing month (May 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from Heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us saying:
"Upon you, my fellow servants, in the Name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the Gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the Earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.
He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter, and he gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me.
Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterward he baptized me...after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood...for so we were commanded.
The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament; and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us, and that I should be called the First elder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second. It was the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized.
Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our Salvation. (Taken from a little pamphlet, Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story.)
Many of those to whom this thing had been declared have asked: "What, then, did the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century mean?" How about all those good men, Luther, Knox, Calvin, John Wesley? Surely they were not deluded, much less impostors. No, we admit that, just as the stars in the sky on a dark night after the great Sun has gone down, there is still some light, thank God; but notwithstanding all this, we deny that the true Church of Jesus Christ exists or has existed in any one of the many creeds of the world since the Seventh Century. We do not disclaim that position, we proclaim it!
Although the Glorious Reformation did much to raise mankind, and although it banished, we hope forever, many of the abuses to which the Church was subjected, still it was powerless to bring back the true Church.
When the great Reformers commenced their fight against what they called "The desecration of the church and the perversion of its teachings," the Church of Christ was then upon the earth, or it was not. There can be no question as to that. If it was, they should have, under no circumstance, made one to oppose it; if it was not, they could not have created it. If they made a church, then it was their church and had no power to save. Christ, and Christ only, is the Author of our Salvation, the Founder and Head of our Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, and there is no other.