The Gathering

1844-01-15

Times and Seasons

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“The Gathering.” Times and Seasons 5, no. 2 (15 January 1844): 407–10.

THE GATHERING,

The gathering of the saints is a subject which has created not a little speculation among the religious world, although some of its leading features are very familiar to the saints. It is thought a strange thing that the saints should gather; and mankind being generally “ignorant of the scriptures, and of the power of God,” are ready to ascribe it to an impure motive political intrigue, a thirst after power, or some other unholy influence.

It is true that the gathering of the Jews is a subject which has obtained some credence, and has been advocated by a portion of our modern theologists; the scriptures pertaining to this subject have been thoroughly investigated, and the idea of “Jerusalem being inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem,” is one that has been entertained by many; and they have reflected with pleasure and delight upon the time when the promises made to God’s ancient people should be fulfilled; when “he that has scattered the house of Israel shall also gather them.” But upon what principle, for what purpose, or by whom they should be gathered, is a subject about which men are most egregiously ignorant. Nor has it entered into their minds that any other people should be gathered together, under the direction and guidance of heaven, nor that the principle of the gathering was one upon which Jehovah had acted in the different ages of the world, for the building up of his kingdom, and the accomplishment of his purposes. Whereas the scriptures are full of subjects of this kind, unfolding the designs of Jehovah, pertaining to the different nations of the earth. Not only are Israel and Judah mentioned, as objects of God’s mercy, but other nations also. The Moabites, the Amorites, and the Elamites will not be among the least of those who shall participate in God’s mercies As the father of the spirits of all flesh, Jehovah does exercise a paternal care over all his creatures, and in order to accomplish this will erect a standard, for, according to the prophet, ‘Zion shall be established in righteousness, and all nations shall flock to her standard.”

The purposes of God, in regard to the human family, are great and comprehensive, and are marked by the most consummate wisdom, and as in the formation of worlds, the organization of the solar system, and the order of nature, his intelligence is displayed, so in regard to the well-being, safety and happiness, both present and future, of the universal world, he, as the great father of the human family, feels highly interested. It is true that he adopts plans and makes use of means, which in the estimation of men in many instances would be foreign from the point, yet when we consider, that with Him dwells wisdom, that “his thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor his ways as our ways,” we shall not be surprised that he makes use of means for the accomplishment of his designs, which in many instances are, to us, incomprehensible.

When the Lord created the heavens and the earth, he had a design in it, and had certain purposes to accomplish, and when he created the beasts of the field the fish of the sea, and the fowls of the air, he did it to promote his purposes and to advance his glory, and when man was placed as lord of the creation, it was for a purpose, and the which, though it may now be mysterious, yet when the curtain of heaven shall be withdrawn, and we shall comprehend eternal things, we shall see and acknowledge “that the judge of all the earth has done right,” The council of heaven was had among the Gods’ in the eternal world, pertaining to all these subjects, of their creation, before ever they were formed, “or the morning stars sang together for joy;” and by him who comprehends the end from the beginning and before whom, and with whom, the present, the past, and the future are one eternal now, their organization, habits, propensities, the object of their creation, the position they would take in the order of that creation, and how, and by what means they would be made happy, and increase his glory, was fully [407] understood by him who has done “all things well.”

The world was not made to be annihilated nor the creatures that he has formed: all of them were intended to fulfil the measure of his creation. The sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, man, beast, bird and fish, all occupy their several spheres, all were made for the glory of God, and all were intended to fill up the measure of their creation, and to bring about his purposes and the beast of the forest, the fish of the sea, or the fowl of the air, all are necessary in the vast works of creation and the chirping sparrow upon the house top, fulfils the measure of his creation, in his own sphere, as much as an archangel does in his.

“Whichever link you from the order strike,

“Tenth, or tenth-thousand, breaks the chain

[alike.”

It is true that they move in different spheres and occupy a different glory: but although we cannot now see those various connecting links, the time will come, when we shall hear “every creature in heaven, every creature on the earth, and every creature under the earth, say blessing, and glory, and honour, and might, and majesty, and dominion, be ascribed unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the lamb forever.” It is true that they will occupy their several spheres, they will not all obtain the same glory, ‘for there is one glory of the sun and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; and as one star differeth from another star in glory, so also will it be in the resurrection. There are also celestial bodies, (and telestial bodies,) and bodies terrestrial; and the glory of the celestial is one,’ (and the glory of the telestial is another;) and the glory of the terrestrial is another. Again, ‘all flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.’ All occupy their own place, fufil their own sphere and glorify God. And as there are different glories that the children of men will inherit, in the eternal world according to their faithfulness, diligence and capacity, in keeping the commandments of God while here; each one will be enabled to find his own element, and participate in that kind of glory which is the most congenial to his nature and suited to his capacity, according to the testimony of the prophet.

“And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you; even the law of Christ must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom. or that of a telestial kingdom. For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom, cannot abide a celestial glory: and he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom, cannot abide a terrestrial glory: he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom, cannot abide a telestial glory: therefore he is not meet for the kingdom of glory.

Therefore, he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it fulfilleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law. Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it: for notwithstanding they die, they also shall rise again a spiritual body: they who are of a celestial spirit, shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened. Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory, shall then receive of the same, even a fulness: and they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestial glory, shall then receive of the same, even a fulness: and also, they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory, shall then receive of the same, even a fulness: and they who remain, shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.

And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law, is also preserved by law, and perfected and sanctified by the same: that which breaketh a law, and abdieth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, or judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still”.—Page 101, Doctrines and Covenants.

It is evident from the above, that no man need murmur or complain, at the dealings of God, for he will be enabled to obtain the very thing which he is looking and living for.

The earth, as part of the creation of God, has and will fulfil the measure of its creation. It has been baptized by water, it will be baptized by fire; it will be purified and become celestial, and be a fit place for celestial bodies to inhabit. It will become the residence of those who have abode a celestial law, and of none [408] other; after it has thus become purified, and made celestial. It was to obtain an inheritance of this kind, that all the prophets, apostles and ancient worthies, suffered and endured so patiently, all that they had to pass through. They had found out the way to come to God; the curtain of futurity was withdrawn from before their vision, and having a knowledge of the designs and purposes of God in regard to the earth, ‘they endured as seeing him who is invisible,’ they ‘were tempted tried, and sawn asunder;’ They wandered about in sheep skins, and in goat skins; they dwelt in deserts and in dens, and in the caves of the earth, for they had respect unto the recompense of reward; they looked for a city which hath foundation, whose builder and maker is God.’ Well hath Paul said ‘they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country, * * wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city.’ What is this city? a heavenly one; but it will come to this earth when the earth is prepared to receive it; Hence John says, Rev., XXI: 1—5;

‘And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall their be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.—and he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.’

This then was the thing that the ancient saints had in view; it was to obtain this glory that they sought; it was for this they suffered and endured. Eternal life with them, was the only thing desirable; it was for this they lived; for this they died. And what to men with minds enlightened, would be folly and nonsense; to them was the greatest height of wisdom, even the teachings of Jehovah, pertaining to their eternal welfare. And as man’s everlasting tabernacle was designed to be on this earth; by faith they sought, and by faith they obtained promises.’ Abraham obtained a promise of the land of Canaan for himself and his posterity. The land of the Gentiles was allotted to their several owners.

Joseph had a promise of a land at the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. Jared, at the destruction of the ‘Tower of Babel’ had the promise of an inheritance in this land. The twelve tribes of Israel had their inheritance divided unto them by lot, and unto various heads of families, God gave similar promises. Yet we are told that though Abraham had the land of Canaan promised to him, for an everlasting inheritance, ‘God gave him none inheritance in it,’ (in his life time) ‘no not so much as to set his foot.’—Yet according to the scriptures he will do and inherit it eternally.

Abraham, and many of his coadjutors were willing to abide a celestial law, and therefore obtained promises by faith through the priesthood of a celestial inheritance, when the earth should be renewed; and as celestial glory was a prize worth seeking after, and enduring that they might obtain, men of faith in ancient days made every effort to get in possession of the blessings flowing therefrom—it was for this that the tabernacle and ark was made; it was for this that the temple was built; and if those people who had already the Aaronic priesthood, had received the Savior when he ‘came to his temple,’ he might, and would have unfolded to them many great and eternal principles, pertaining to futurity, connected with the priesthood, for which the temple was originally built.

It was the policy of all those ancient men of God, and the order of their Heavenly Father, to collect the people of God into one place, for the purpose of teaching them the things of God, that they might be prepared to reign with him in a celestial glory. Thus when the earth was becoming corrupt, Enoch collected together a people who were virtuous and pure; who professed a willingness to be governed by the law of God, and as the earth was then becoming corrupt, and the children of men departing from God, and his ordinances, Enoch was selected as a faithful man of God, to whom was committed the priesthood, that he might assemble together God’s chosen people and save them from the contaminating influence of the world, and through the intercourse that he had with the Almighty, and the teaching of heaven, lead the people in the paths of righteousness, teach them a celestial law, and prepare them for a celestial inheritance. Thus Enoch built up a Zion in his day, and as he ‘walked with God,’ he of course received teaching, not only pertaining to himself; but also pertaining to those chosen ones, over which God had given him the oversight: he did receive revelations and some of those revelations have been revealed to us, and after the pure in heart thus assembled, were prepared by upwards of one [409] hundred years of divine teaching, and there was no hopes of reclaiming the rest of the world, Enoch, and his Zion was removed out of the world; they were not for God took them, and the saying went abroad, that ‘Zion is fled.’

Noah, who was left upon the earth for the purpose of preserving a pure seed after the earth should be destroyed, in consequence of having filled up the measure of their iniquity, ‘and every imagination of their heart being evil, preached but in vain to the then devoted inhabitants of the earth.’ He was preserved, however and his seed, and thus when the earth was laid desolate, there was a little gathering of Zion left, to fulfil God’s purposes, in regard to the earth, and perpetuate a pure seed. Having the priesthood Noah was prepared to teach them correct principles, and the seed of Noah thus assembled together were divinely taught. But it soon became evident, that man’s heart was deceitful;’ that it was ready to start aside like a broken bough; and we find the people, as they became wicked, trying to arm themselves against the judgments of God. They knew that a short time before the inhabitants of the world had been destroyed by a flood in consequence of their wickedness. They had no doubt been warned by Jared and others, of their wickedness, and what it would tend to, therefore, partly fearing lest the testimony of the servants of God might be true, and partly braving the Almighty, they commenced building a tower whose ‘top would reach to the heaven,’ for the ostensible purpose, as they said, of ‘getting them a name.’ God however, took them in hand; confounded their language as a curse, and scattered them abroad upon all the face of the earth.

The brother of Jared, as a man of God, then pleaded with the Almighty, that his speech and that of his family, might not be confounded. and that he and his seed might be preserved from the corruptions of the earth, and that other families who feared God might be preserved with them; and that if the Lord would drive them from that land, that he would give unto them another land, where they might fear God, and keep his statutes, and observe his ordinances. The Lord heard his prayer, and gave them an inheritance in this land.

“And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord according to that which had been spoken by the mouth of Jared. And it came to pass that the Lord did hear the brother of Jared, and had compassion upon him, and said unto him, Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind, and thy families; and also thy brother Jared and his family; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families. And when thou hast done this, thou shalt go at the head of them down into the valley, which is northward. And there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the land of the earth. And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and the seed of thy brother, and they which shall go with thee, a great nation. And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth. And thus I will do unto thee because of this long time which ye have cried unto me.”

Thus we find that they were taken from another people who had become corrupt, and set apart, or, gathered together, as a righteous branch of God’s planting upon this land; for the purpose of raising up a righteous seed unto God, ‘and there will I bless thee, and thy seed, and raise up unto ME of thy seed, and of the seed of thy brother, and of they who shall go with thee, a great nation.’ The promise of God moreover, to them was, that if they continued to fear God, they should be blessed; but if they departed from his ways, they should be cursed, for the decree was, as this was ‘a choice land, above all others;’ that ‘it should be preserved’ (as a place of gathering,) ‘for a righteous people; and he had sworn in his wrath, unto the brother of Jared, that whose should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.

(To be continued.)

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