The Essential Orson Pratt
Foreword by David J. Whittaker
“Resurrection of the Saints”
(from The Seer 2 [June 1854]: 273-88)
[p.308]Among all the blessings which God has promised to fallen man, there are none greater than that of the resurrection of the body to eternal life and happiness. The life that we now enjoy, though mingled with sorrow and trouble, is still desirable and sought after most eagerly by man. When death stares him in the face, he would be willing to part with thrones and kingdoms, with houses and lands, and with all his possessions, could he redeem himself from the grasp of this awful monster. Many remedies have been sought out and prescribed, not to redeem man from death, but to shield and protect him for a few years longer from this fearful enemy. But no one has been about to discover a remedy that will render man immortal. All are overtaken, sooner or later, by the grim tyrant and prostrated low in the dust. Generation after generation fall beneath the mighty conqueror! Oh, how dismal must be the thought of a never-ending sleep in the tomb! Death must be bitter indeed, to those who have no knowledge of the resurrection—who lay their bodies down without the least idea of receiving them again; and yet, many hundreds of millions have passed away without the faintest hope of a future resurrection—who suppose that they part with their bodies for ever.
Could man be fully persuaded that his body would rise again from the grave, and that he would live and move, and act, as he does now, and enjoy the same that he now experiences, he would consider it a blessing far greater than earthly riches or honors; and were he certain that such a blessing could be attained, there would be no sacrifice too great for him to make in order to secure an immortality in a world that would afford him no greater happiness than the present one. If, then, in a world like this, where troubles meet us on every side, we still enjoy life and so earnestly cling to it, what would be our joy were we assured of a resurrection to an eternal life of the most perfect happiness? where no troubles or sorrows could ever come? where death could no more enter? What tidings could be more joyful to the soul than these?
Now, the inhabitants of this fallen world have been most positively assured by the word of God, that their bodies shall all live again—that they shall be called forth from the dust and be reorganized, and that the same spirits which once inhabited them, shall reanimate them again. This redemption of the body is not a partial one—that is, the body is [p.310]not merely redeemed from the grave to a life of mortality subject to a second dissolution, but is redeemed to immortality—the spirit being re-united with the body never more to be disunited.
The resurrection of the body from the dust will be affected by the word and power of God. The Spirit of God which dwells in the elements, will, by His command, bring them together, depositing every particle in its proper position, so as to form a perfect tabernacle! The deformities existing in the mortal body, will not appear in our resurrection bodies; but all who are counted worthy to receive a celestial body, will appear in the image and likeness of the glorified body of Jesus; and his body is in the express image and likeness of his Father’s person. Paul, in speaking of the resurrection says, that Jesus “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:21.) Notwithstanding we shall be fashioned like his body, yet there will be a variety of features and size by which one will be distinguished from another, the same as in this life. The likeness will be in the general outlines—in the perfection of the organization—in the beautiful adjustment of the several parts—in the perfect symmetry of the whole—and in the purity, immortality, and glory with which it is filled and surrounded. In all these respects there will be a perfect likeness. But when sizes are compared, there will be a great variety from the tabernacles of infants up through every grade to those of gigantic magnitude. Although there will be an endless variety of features, yet all will appear equally glorious and beautiful; the beauty being the result of the perfection and glory of the spirit inhabiting the tabernacle. There will undoubtedly be distinguishing characteristics relating to the age attained previous to the dissolution. This distinction will probably be manifested, in some small degree, in the countenance and in the color of the hair, and in the difference of size between the child and the man of gray hairs. In all the works of God, we behold a resemblance among classes; but a variety among individuals belonging to each class. All the planets of our system resemble each other more or less in form; but in magnitude and in many other respects, there is a great variety. In every species of animals and plants, there are many resemblances, in the general outlines, and many specific differences characterizing the individuals of each species. So in the resurrection: there will be several classes of resurrection bodies; some celestial, some terrestrial, some telestial, and some sons of perdition. Each of these classes will differ from the others by prominent and marked distinctions; yet in each, considered by itself, there will be found many resemblances as well as distinctions. There will be some physical peculiarity by which each individual in every class can be identified.
Will the same identical materials composing the mortal body be reorganized in the resurrection body?—There will be a sufficient quantity [p.311]of those materials brought forth to form a perfect tabernacle for the spirit. But it is not to be expected that every particle, which at any time has formed a component part of the mortal body, will be raised and enter into the immortal one. Many persons by severe sickness, lose from fifty to a hundred pounds of flesh in the course of a few months; and after recovering, they not unfrequently, in the course of one of two years, regain as much flesh as they lost. And in the course of a long life, they may, by successive intervals of health and sickness, gain and lose from ten to fifteen hundred pounds of flesh. Now it would be altogether absurd to suppose that these ten or fifteen hundred pounds of flesh are all to be reorganized in the resurrection body. The same reasoning will apply to the bones as well as the flesh, for many small pieces of bones may be extracted from the system, and by the deposition of new matter, new bones, or rather parts of bones, will be formed; and in the course of a long life, there could be many pounds of bone extracted by small pieces at successive intervals from the human system, and many pounds of new bone formed to supply the place of the old. Also, children shed their teeth, and others grow in their stead. Now we cannot suppose that in the resurrection, the old and new teeth, and the old and new bones will all be raised and enter into the composition of the immortal body. Many persons cut off over one-tenth of an inch of their beard every week, which, in the course of a year, will amount to over five inches, and in the course of sixty years, will amount to over twenty-five feet. And those who are in the habit of paring off the ends of the finger and toe nails, will find that in the course of sixty or eighty years, they have actually cut off from each finger and toe, from six to eight feet of nail. If, therefore, all the old materials of the human system are to arise, we shall be favored with a beard and hair from twenty-five to thirty feet long; with finger and toe nails, six or eight feet long; with two sets of teeth, and with ten or fifteen hundred pounds of flesh and bones. Such a supposition would be ridiculous. We are, therefore, compelled to believe that in the resurrection, each immortal body only takes that quantity of the old materials as is amply sufficient to form a beautiful and perfect tabernacle for the spirit.
It is believed by many scientific men that our bodies are constantly and gradually changing through the whole of our lives, and that in the period of from seven to ten years, the whole body undergoes an entire change; the old particles having been thrown off, and new ones having succeeded in their stead, and that the reason why many old scars remain during a long life is, because the new particles in the gradual interchange, take the position of the old, necessarily perpetuating the shape of the scar years after the old particles have fled. It is pretended that this doctrine is established by many indubitable evidences that cannot be [p.311]shaken. If we should admit this idea to be correct it would still further prove that in the resurrection all the materials of the mortal body do not come forth; for an old man whose weight has been some two hundred pounds the most of his days, and having passed through ten entire changes of the materials of his system, would have had, during his life, about one ton of flesh and bones that has been successively deposited and thrown off, and in the resurrection not over one-tenth part of these materials would be needed to construct the immortal body. Therefore, whether we admit the idea of a constant and gradual change, or sudden changes, produced by successive intervals of sickness and health, we are led to the same conclusion, that only a part of the old materials of the mortal body will enter into the composition of the immortal one.
Some persons have denied the possibility of the resurrection, on the ground that among cannibals, where they are in the constant habit of devouring human flesh, one human body is, in a great measure, formed out of the component parts of many others. And because the same particles have, at successive periods, existed in scores of individuals, forming parts of each successive tabernacle, they argue that each individual has equal claim upon the same identical particles. And as the same particles in the resurrection can only be organized in one body at the same time, they reason that all the others who have equal claims to the same, would be lacking of the necessary materials, and consequently could not rise. If, in this argument, the premises are granted, the conclusions would be correct. But the premises are false: for all flesh was originally formed from animal and vegetable matter; and though cannibals and carnivorous animals grow and increase, both in size and weight, on flesh; yet that very flesh, when traced back through successive animals which have been devoured, will be found to have originated in herbiferous animals whose flesh is wholly composed of earthly and vegetable substances. Now the amount of vegetable substances, converted into flesh, is not only equal to, but far greater than the amount of animal substances, converted into the flesh of other animals. This is evident from the constant change to which the bodies of all animals are subject, owing to the removal of old particles, and the deposition of new, as manifested by a decrease or increase of flesh, depending on the scarcity or abundance of food. When we take into consideration the whole animal kingdom, nothing is more certain than that the flesh, formed by devouring other flesh, can never exceed in weight the flesh formed from vegetables and earthly matter: indeed it would be an absolute impossibility for the former ever to exceed the latter. And when we take into consideration the calls of the appetite, and that every animal, in the course of a very few years, requires many times its own weight in food, it demonstrates beyond all controversy that the amount of flesh, formed from herbs and vegetables, [p.312]must far exceed, by many times its own weight, that formed by devouring flesh; for were it not so, the former would in a very few months be wholly devoured by the latter, and the earth would speedily be depopulated of men and animals.
If, then, the amount of flesh, formed directly from vegetable substances, exceed, by an immense quantity, all other kinds of flesh it demonstrates the fact, that in the resurrection the whole herbiferous and carnivorous tribes of the land and water, including fish, fowls, animals, and men, could be raised up from the dust with immortal bodies, constructed of the same identical particles of rather a sufficient quantity of them, that once existed in the form of mortal flesh; and still there would be an immense quantity to spare, being surplus flesh, arising from the constant mutations or changes to which all mortal flesh is subject.
We will venture to remark still further, that should it be maintained that even every vegetable of our globe should be reconstructed and made new, there would be an abundance of materials that have once existed in those vegetables to form them all anew without making use of any foreign matter that has not been thus organized. This may, at first view, appear impossible; it may be supposed that as to the whole animal kingdom, if raised to immortality, being composed of vegetable matter, would require a vast amount of the vegetable materials to reconstruct their immortal bodies; and that, therefore, if the whole vegetable kingdom was likewise to receive a resurrection, it would require that portion of its materials which constitutes animal flesh. But this would be unnecessary: for the same change, which is said to be constantly taking place in the animal body, is also affirmed to be a characteristic in the vegetable economy. It is said that every blade of grass—every herb and plant, and every tree, is constantly throwing off or parting with its old particles, and that new matter is every moment being secreted to supply the place of the old. It is said that a tree, as well as a man, undergoes an entire change of materials every few years. If this be the case, the whole vegetable kingdom, including those of every age, might be reorganized out of old vegetable particles, without being under the necessity of borrowing materials from foreign sources, that never were before vegetable constituents.
Without coinciding with the views of the scientific world in regard to the constant and gradual change, operating upon all organic substances, by which they are said to contain, in the course of a long period, several times the quantity of matter that they inherit at any one time, we can still account for the resurrection and reconstruction of all organic bodies, both of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, by supposing, that in the renewal of those bodies, it is not absolutely necessary that their whole systems should be composed of materials which have previously been thus organized. If there be enough of the old materials to form the [p.313]germ or nucleus of the resurrection body, it will not matter, in our view of the subject, whether the balance of the materials are the old particles again collected, or foreign matter, similar in kind, but not identical in substance. In the formation of a drop of water, it would make no difference, whether it were composed of the eight parts of oxygen and one of hydrogen that it was previously composed of, or whether the same proportions of these elements were derived from some foreign source where they never had existed in combination as water. Two drops of pure water—one formed in Asia and the other in America, would be composed of the same definite proportions of their elementary constituents—would have the same properties and qualities in every respect; and one could be changed for the other without the least inconvenience, and would serve exactly the same purpose in all experiments, conditions, or circumstances to which it might be subjected: and, therefore, the original circumstances in which the elements existed, would not have the least bearing upon their present combinations and future purposes. If the particles of the body, themselves, were intelligent and accountable beings, they then might, with some propriety, contend that it was their right to be reorganized into an immortal tabernacle in connection with their old companions, and again be placed in conjunction with the same immortal spirit that governed and controlled them in their mortal career. But if those particles only exist as an organized tabernacle for the accommodation and happiness of the immortal spirit, and they themselves are not benefited, or remain insensible to their condition, then it would make no difference, so far as they are concerned, whether they were reorganized; and it certainly would make no difference to the human spirit what particular particles its tabernacle was constructed of, providing the organization was perfect and consisted of the right kind of matter.
Paul compares the resurrection to the growing up of grain after it is sown and dies. “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.” (1 Corinth. 15:35-39.) When a kernel of wheat falls into the earth, it dies, or rather a portion of its substance is disorganized; and the germ unites itself with other materials, and forms a stalk which heads, and blossoms, and numerous other kernels of wheat begin to make their appearance which grow and ripen; and it is at length found that sixty or a hundred other kernels of the same, shape, size, and quality, as the one sown, are produced. Now these new kernels are not the same identical [p.314]materials sown: neither is the one-hundredth part of the old particles found combined in each of the new: they are each composed of almost entire new substance that never was before organized as wheat: The old particles were only necessary as a foundation to give direction to the organization, that the new might be moulded after the old, bearing the same appearance, and possessing the same quality. Hence the farmer soweth not that body that shall be, but he soweth its likeness; and other bodies of the same form spring forth. So likewise man sows not the body that shall be, but he sows one containing the form, and magnitude, and, in some degree, the elements of the new.—Without the sowing of the old wheat, and its dissolution in the earth, the new could not be expected: so also, without our bodies are sown in corruption, there would be no foundation for incorruptible bodies. And as the new wheat is mostly composed of new particles never before organized as wheat; so, it is probable, that the new immortal body will contain much matter never before organized in human bodies.
“But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body;” that is, God doth not cause thorns to grow from figs, nor wheat to spring from potatoes, nor elephants to be produced from mosquitoes: but He giveth to “every seed his own body,” not the identical old one, but one in its likeness in magnitude, form, and construction. “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.” When the ponderous whale that flounces in the mighty deep, is raised from the dead, he will not take the form of the rhinoceros neither will the tiger, in the resurrection morn, put on the form of a shark, neither shall we have wolves converted into lambs, nor lions into cows; but in the resurrection, God will give to every seed his own body; not the identical one, but a similar one, so that the different species of fish, fowls, and animals will be distinguished from each other.
The springing forth of new grain from the kernel of the old which falls into the earth and dies, is analogous to the resurrection only in those qualities already named; and this seems to be as far as the apostle intended the analogy to be carried when he made use of the representation. The new wheat, like the old, is subject to decay; but the new body is immortal and eternal, and in this respect is unlike the old. The new wheat is formed through a gradual and rather lengthy process of growth; while the immortal body is organized at once of the proper size and form: the former is slow in its operation; the latter is a quick and sudden work, when compared with the formation of the infant through the process of generation, and its gradual growth to manhood: and even when compared with the slow process of the growth of grain, it may be considered a quick and sudden work. There is no doubt, but [p.315]what the resurrection will occupy a short interval of time in the formation and completion of the different organs and frame work of the immortal body. It will not be as sudden as a flash of lightning, or as the twinkling of an eye; neither will it be a prolonged work, like that of the growth of vegetables, or the still slower growth of animals.
Ezekiel describes the resurrection as follows: “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and behold! there were very many in the open valley: and lo! they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, Can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking and the bones came together bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo! the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, Son of Man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army.” (Ezekiel 37:1-10.)
From this vision of the resurrection, we can see that it is not accomplished in the twinkling of an eye: first the bones come together, bone to its bone; and thus the foundation and framework is laid; secondly, the flesh and sinews come upon the bones; thirdly, the skin covers the flesh and sinews; and lastly, the breath enters them, and they live and stand upon their feet. In cases where the bones are decayed, as well as flesh, sinews, and skin, the first process will be to bring together the particles and form the various bones, after which they will be joined together in their appropriate positions. The formation of so many bodies directly from the dust, will require a wisdom and skill far surpassing our utmost comprehension; but there will be nothing more marvelous in this, than there was in the formation of the tabernacles of our first parents who were constructed directly out of the dust, of the full size and shape.
Indeed, all the immortal bodies of flesh and bones are made independent of the process of generation. All fleshly bodies begotten and born are mortal: all made directly out of the dust, as Adam and [p.316]Eve, and the first fish, fowls, and animals, are immortal. To organize a mortal body out of the ground, independent of generation, would be something unheard of, and consequently, unnatural: So likewise, to organize an immortal body of flesh and bones by the process of generation, would be something unheard of, unrevealed, and consequently unnatural. We call that natural which transpires in a certain definite manner, so that under the same circumstances, the same event happens, according to the same tried laws. We call that unnatural which happens out of the ordinary course: for an immortal body of flesh and bones to be born, would be unnatural, because we have no account of such an event ever happening, or that such an event ever will happen: but to form it directly from the dust would be natural, because this is the way that new revelation, as well as old, informs us that all the first pairs of fish and fowl, beast and man, were first constructed; and this is the way that the resurrection is brought about.
There is nothing more marvelous about the resurrection and reorganization of all the generations of men and animals out of the dust, than there is in the generation of their mortal bodies: the latter is just as miraculous as the former. All the difference is, we cease to regard the latter as a miracle, because of the frequency of its occurrence; while the former, only having happened at a certain period before the fall, and, in a few instances, immediately after the resurrection of Christ, is regarded in the light of a miracle. When all the righteous are called from their graves at the second advent of our Saviour; and when, during the Millennium, all the aged that fall asleep in death, are immediately raised again to immortality, we shall cease to call the resurrection any thing more miraculous than the formation of the mortal tabernacle by generation. This method of calling things unnatural or natural, miraculous or not miraculous, according to the unfrequency or frequency in which the events happen, is extremely erroneous. Gravitation, by which a piece of iron sinks in the water, is just as miraculous as the causing of the same to swim on water: the latter, however, is called a miracle because of the unfrequency of its occurrence; and because it deviates from the former mode of action, which, by its constancy, is called a law of nature. A deviation from this law is called a miracle; while the law itself, which is still more marvelous, is looked upon as nothing but a common occurrence. A law of nature is the exertion of the power of God upon the materials of nature to make them act all the time in a certain fixed definite manner; consequently a law of nature is nothing less than the continued exertions of the power of God, according to prescribed laws. A deviation from the laws of nature is the exertion of the power of God, contrary to His general method of action: both are the effects of the same power and of the same God; but of the two, the laws of nature are [p.317]the most astonishing and the most marvelous, because they are the displays of Omnipotent power upon a more extensive and grand scale. To see all the universe acted upon at the same time, and these actions continued year after year without any interruption, is astonishing beyond all measure; it is overwhelming and almost overpowering to every contemplative mind; but to see a body spring forth from the dust, though it is certainly miraculous, yet it is local in its character, and only as it were a momentary action, and in itself no more miraculous than the springing forth and growth of a blade of grass, or the falling of a stone, or the intense power that holds together the particles of a piece of iron; all these are the effects of that same Almighty power that brings forth the dead from their graves, and stamps immortality upon all resurrection bodies.
The resurrection is a gift bestowed upon all mankind. Because of the fall the human race forfeited their bodies and lost them; but the Son of God, having given his body to the shafts of death, and suffered in man’s behalf, wrought out a full and perfect redemption for the bodies of all the human family; not a redemption which immediately restores man to immortality, but a redemption which grapples with the monster death, after he has overpowered his victim and laid him low in the grave. Justice armed death with eternal power; it authorized him to destroy all nations and generations, and plunge them into the dismal gulf, and to set an eternal seal upon them; it gave him power to bind them down with everlasting chains which no man could loose; the huge gates were closed; the bolts, and bars, and locks, were firmly fastened; a world of fallen beings was enclosed in the eternal prison of the grave; all nature wept! and eternity was clothed in mourning! while the greedy monster death, having satiated his capacious maw, sat enthroned upon the funeral pile exulting in the eternal ruin of a once beautiful world!
But hark! a voice is heard on high of one mighty and strong! It is the voice of one who pleads! Ah see! He stands before the majestic throne, where justice sits! He weeps! but not for himself; it is for fallen man! Listen! he speaks of mercy for a ruined world! What compassion swells his bosom! what lovely words poured forth in melting strains of mercy! Justice is moved to tears, but still holds fast the flaming law and with sword unsheathed exclaims, “How can I show mercy! must not the penalties of my law be inflicted? and the honor of my throne be maintained?” The merciful—the kind—the Holy One, with bowels yearning o’er the miseries of a fallen world, replies, “On me, O Justice, let all thy vengeance fall! but spare these my brethren!” Mercy prevailed—the offer was accepted—and the only Begotten of the Father left the peaceful heavenly mansions of glory to suffer, to die, to enter the solitudes of the grave, to unbar the gates of death, and break the everlasting chains, and say to the sleeping nations, live.
[p.318]Though all the human race will eventually be liberated from the grave, yet the righteous will be liberated long before the wicked. When the great Redeemer shall roll back the curtains of heaven, and unveil his glorious face, an angel shall sound his trump, both long and loud, which will cause the whole earth to quake: then will the graves of the saints be opened, and their sleeping bodies will come forth, clothed in all the beauty and freshness of immortality; arrayed in beautiful garments and white robes, and encircled with pillars of light, their glory will be as the dazzling rays of the sun. These shall all be caught up from the earth, and be wafted from the four winds towards the great central gathering place in the clouds of heaven, where the Redeemer will be seen, armed with Omnipotent power, followed by the saints of all ages, nations, and kindreds, accompanied by the angels and all the armies of heaven. In the midst of the numberless hosts will be seen all the saints of the latter-days who shall be alive on the earth at that time; for they also shall be caught up, as well as the righteous dead; and they shall be quickened by the power of God. And thus shall the whole combined hosts of the righteous, of both the heavens and the earth, be gathered in one. Then shall the nations of the wicked, who have not previously been destroyed, gaze with awful fear and terror upon the immense multitude of glorified beings, filling all the heavens above. And while they gaze with frightful astonishment at the glory, power, and majesty, displayed in the heavens, another trump is heard, calling forth another class who have received their part in prison, where the gospel has been preached to them that they might be judged according to men in the flesh. These are not Christ’s until his coming, but then they are redeemed, being brought forth from their prison houses by the power of the Lamb.
While the terror-stricken nations still behold, they hear the sound of the third trump, calling forth the spirits of wicked men who are to be judged, and who are not found worthy to receive their bodies, until the thousand years are ended, and who are to be cast out into outer darkness, where is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. After which the fourth trump will proclaim the dreadful doom of the sons of perdition. When the spirits of the dead have been attended to, and sealed over unto the end, to reap the results of their own evil doings, then shall the fifth angel sound his trump in the ears of the frightened nations still living, proclaiming that the hour of God’s judgment is come: then shall the arm of the Lord fall upon them; and the fierce and vivid lightnings shall streak forth, and the thunderings of his power shall shake the earth and heavens, and the nations of great Babylon shall be cast down by devouring fire; and the hills and mountains shall melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, and the earth shall be purified of its wickedness, and the saints shall receive their inheritances on the same, [p.319]and the poor and the meek shall be comforted, for the fatness of the earth and all the fulness thereof shall be theirs.
The saints who have received their immortal bodies from the grave, will each receive a crown immediately after their resurrection. Some have supposed that the saints would not be crowned until after the millennium, and the earth passes away, and the new heavens and new earth are made. But Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, and it hath gone forth in a firm decree, by the will of the Father, that mine apostles, the twelve which were with me in my ministry at Jerusalem, shall stand at my right hand at the day of my coming in a pillar of fire, being clothed with robes of righteousness, with crowns upon their heads, in glory even as I am, to judge the whole house of Israel, even as many as have loved me and kept my commandments, and none else; for a trump shall sound both long and loud, even as upon Mount Sinai, and all the earth shall quake, and they shall come forth: yea, even the dead which died in me, to receive a crown of righteousness, and to be clothed upon, even as I am, to be with me, that we may be one.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 10, par. 3.)
From this quotation we learn that the crowns are to be on the heads of the apostles and of the resurrection saints in the day of the Lord’s coming, and that they will not have to wait one or two thousand years longer before they receive their kingdoms. If the apostles have crowns placed upon their heads immediately after they obtain their bodies, they will most unquestionably each have a throne. When Jesus was with them in his ministry at Jerusalem, he made them the following promise: “Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28.) These twelve thrones will not merely be thrones of judgment, but they will be thrones of kingdoms, as we are informed in a parallel passage: “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30.) As the twelve tribes of Israel, or that portion of them who are righteous enough to come forth in the first resurrection, will receive their inheritances in the land of Palestine: the twelve apostles will, no doubt, have their thrones located in Jerusalem, after it is rebuilt. John, the revelator, in describing the appearance of that city, as he beheld it in vision ascending upon the new earth, says it “had a wall great and high, and the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:12, 14.) Jerusalem, then, will be the residence of these twelve kings: there their thrones will be located, upon which they [p.320]will sit and judge the tribes. When the great and high wall is built around it, the names of each of these twelve kings will be most beautifully engraved upon the twelve great foundation stones.
At what time the wall will be built is uncertain: the commencement of the building of the city will be just prior to the coming of the Messiah and the Millennium: it will undoubtedly be continued under the superintendence of Jesus and his apostles, during the whole of that peaceful and happy period. It is very probable that the wall will be about the last thing built; this will be thrown around the city to prevent the apostate nations after the thousand years are ended from encroaching upon the holy and consecrated place. We are told by the prophet Isaiah, that Jerusalem shall put on her beautiful garments and become a holy city, and that from “henceforth there shall no more come into her the uncircumcised and the unclean.” (Isaiah 52:1) To prevent the intrusion of wicked characters when Satan shall be loosed, a high wall will be built; it will also serve as a splendid ornament to the city, the gates being formed of the most costly and magnificent pearls, while the twelve foundation stones will each be different, and each will be garnished with all manner of precious stones; and the light of the glory of God shining upon them, will give the whole a most brilliant and dazzling appearance.
The Lord has promised that this city, after it is rebuilt, “shall not be plucked up nor thrown down any more for ever.” (Jer. 31:38-40.) Consequently, when the old earth passes away, and the new one is formed out of the old materials, it will be necessary for the preservation of the city to take it up from the earth into the heavens, where it will remain until the new earth is fully completed, when it will descend as the great capital and seat of government over the new creation, where Jesus and his apostles will continue to reign over the House of Israel for ever and ever.
But to return again to the sceneries, connected with the first resurrection. We have already ascertained, that the apostles after their resurrection will have crowns, and thrones, and a kingdom given to them; and that Jerusalem, where they formerly suffered shame, and affliction, and persecution, will be their residence, where their mansions, and their palaces and their thrones, will be erected; and that the resurrection saints, included in the twelve tribes of Israel, will be judged by them, or in other words, be ruled and governed by them, as their lawful kings.
Jesus will also have his throne erected in Jerusalem: for he will reign over the house of Israel; and the apostles, in the exercise of their kingly office, will be subject to him. The angel said to Zacharias concerning Jesus: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:32, 33.) The throne of Jesus will be erected in [p.321]the magnificent temple, described by the prophet Ezekiel in the last chapter of his prophecy. “Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: and, behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and His voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with His glory.” “And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house. And I heard Him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me. And He said unto me, Son of man, THE PLACE OF MY THRONE, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings.” (Ezekiel 43:1, 2, 4-7.) Whether the twelve apostles will have their twelve thrones in the same temple, or in separate palaces, is not stated.
The dwelling places of many of the resurrection saints will be in the same city: others of them will have their mansions erected in other cities, and upon their farms and inheritances throughout the land of Canaan. Ezekiel, as we have already noticed, had a view of their resurrection: he saw their bones united; he saw the flesh, sinews, and skin, placed in their proper position; he saw the breath enter them, and that they lived and stood upon their feet an exceeding great army. And not fully understanding who or what people they were, the Lord gave him further instruction, as follows:—”Then He said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel,” (meaning no doubt the righteous among them, for the wicked will not be favored with a resurrection at the time of the righteous;) “behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.” No doubt the house of Israel in Ezekiel’s time, were in great fears and doubts, about the fulfilment of the promises made to their fathers: they could read in their sacred books that the righteous of Abraham’s seed were to inherit that land for ever; and yet they saw that many holy prophets and righteous men of Israel died in foreign lands in captivity. And having no knowledge that the promise could be fulfilled after death, they contended that many had died without receiving the promise, and that their bones were dry and mouldering in their graves, and that those righteous persons never inherited a foot of the promised land: and seeing all this, they exclaimed in despair, “Our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.” The Lord in order to show them that the promise was still sure, gave Ezekiel this vision, and showed him how Israel should inherit the promise after the resurrection. Hence, the Lord commanded him to prophesy to those bones or to the whole house of Israel in their sepulchers, “and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your [p.322]graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves; and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall please you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:11-14.)
All the righteous of the twelve tribes are to have their graves opened, and they are to come up out of their graves an exceeding great army. And Oh, what joy will fill their bosoms, when they find themselves in possession of that very land, where the tribes of Israel once lived—the land where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived as strangers and pilgrims! How joyful it will be for Abraham, Sarah, Hager, and his other concubines to find themselves dwelling again in the land of their pilgrimage; and to see the numerous hosts of their immortal children all around them. Jacob and his four wives will gaze upon the descendants of their twelve sons, and see them spread out upon the face of the land, like the stars of heaven for multitude. How these ancient fathers and mothers of the hosts of Israel, will rejoice to gather around them their descendants to the hundredth generation and relate to them the sceneries of their childhood, and point out to them the places where they pitched their tents—where they built their altars—where they called upon the Lord in mighty prayer—where angels descended and comforted them—where the God of glory appeared and gave them great promises, concerning their seed forever! How delighted will all the generations of their children be, to visit the mansions of these glorified patriarchs and eat and drink with them, and realize that death can no more separate them, but they shall dwell in the land of Israel for ever!
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have already received their crowns, and their thrones, and now sit upon them, (see Revelation in No. I, vol. I of the Seer, paragraphs 11 and 14,) being exalted among the principalities and powers of the heavenly worlds; and they look forward with longing anticipations, to the time when all their righteous children shall come out of their graves, that they may return to the land of Canaan, and reign on the earth, as they now reign in the heavens. As these ancient patriarchs now sit upon their thrones, it is evident that they must have received their resurrection immediately after the resurrection of Christ. Matthew says, that “The graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matthew 27:52, 53.) The Book of Mormon bears testimony that many of the saints in ancient America arose from the dead, and appeared to many on this land. All those who then arose have undoubtedly received their crowns, and have been sitting upon thrones, and reigning as kings in the heavens, from that day to this. Their redemption had been perfected, but they [p.323]wait for the redemption of their children to be perfected also, upon the earth.
America, being the land of Adam, and the land of Enoch, and the land of the Jaredites, and the land of the branch of the tribe of Joseph, and the land of the Gentiles who are now upon the face thereof; will be the promised land of the righteous of all those nations and generations, even as the land of Palestine is to the righteous of the twelve tribes. And in the first resurrection, the righteous who have dwelt on this land, will again inherit it in their immortal state.
The twelve American disciples of Jesus whom he chose, soon after his resurrection, at the time he showed the remnant of Joseph his risen and glorified body, will also sit upon twelve thrones to judge the righteous upon this land who are of Israel: and these twelve will be judged by the other twelve at Jerusalem: or in other words, they will be guided and directed by the advice and counsel of the twelve apostles in all the important affairs pertaining to their kingdom and government in America.
One of the most important personages whose throne will be established in America, will be Adam, the father of the human race. He will reign over all the other kings upon the face of the whole earth, under the counsel and direction of the Holy One: Jesus alone will have the pre-eminence over him. Adam, therefore, will stand forth as the grand Patriarch and chief Prince over all the righteous of his posterity. This promise was made to him three years previous to his death by the mouth of the Lord who appeared to him, and the righteous of his posterity, in the grand council, held in the valley of his residence, called Adam-Ondi-Ahman, near the western boundaries of Missouri. This venerable Patriarch was called Michael the arch-angel, or the head angel. He is called in Daniel, “the Ancient of days, being the most ancient personage who lived in days—the first flesh formed from the dust of the earth. Having received the eternal priesthood which includes the kingly power, he received a crown most glorious, and sits upon a throne highly exalted in the eternal heavens, awaiting the period when the corrupt thrones of earthly monarchs shall be cast down, when he will be sent from heaven to earth, accompanied by thousands on thousands of glorified beings, to make ready and prepare all things before the Son of Man, who will come with the clouds of heaven, and present himself before the ancient of days, even Adam, who will stand forth as the head representative of the earthly kingdom and present it to his great Redeemer, the King of kings, and Lord of lords: then will the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God on the earth become one.
It is Michael the arch-angel who sounds the seventh trump, and proclaims the finishing of the great preparatory work for the reign of [p.324]his Saviour: it is Adam or Michael who holds the keys of the mysteries of the mighty works of God which are to be accomplished during the seventh thousand years, or Millennium; and he will proclaim the same, at the second sounding of his trump, in the ears of all living: it is he who is to “stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer;” it is he that will lead forth all the armies of heaven, against all the armies of the combined hosts of hell, after the close of the Millennial period, and the Devil and his armies will be overcome, and they will be cast into their own place where they will not henceforth, have power over the saints any more at all.
The throne of this great and illustrious personage will most probably be in America—the land of his pilgrimage, and the land of his fall; the land where first the glad tidings of redemption reached the ears of mortal man.
The throne of Enoch will also be in or near America, in the midst of his own city, Zion, which he built unto the Lord before the flood, and which fled from earth to heaven, to be reserved until a day of righteousness should come, when it will come again in the sight of the astonished nations, and have place, until the end shall come. This city will, most probably, not rest upon the earth but hover over it, and will be the abode of glorified immortal beings: Hence we read that when the aged die, during the Millennium, they are not buried in the earth, but they are immediately raised to immortality, and are caught up where their rest is glorious. This proves that there will be a glorified place above the surface of the earth to which these aged people ascend after they are raised. This place is undoubtedly the city or Zion of Enoch in connection with other redeemed cities which the Lord has taken from all creations which He has made. The Zion of Enoch, therefore, will probably be very near the earth, located over the American continent where it was anciently built; and, most likely, will partake of the diurnal and annual revolutions of the earth, so as not to change its relative position in regard to the western hemisphere of our planet.
We have spoken of Jesus and the twelve apostles having their thrones in Jerusalem, and of the resurrection saints, connected with the twelve tribes of Israel, receiving their inheritances; besides these, they will have heavenly thrones and heavenly inheritances, not connected with the earth, or rather, not standing upon the earth, but in the redeemed cities and glorified worlds above. Therefore, these celestial Kings and Priests, and resurrection Saints will only visit their earthly kingdoms, and sit upon their earthly thrones, and occupy their earthly mansions, and dwell upon their earthly inheritances, at intervals, whenever they think it necessary for the welfare and benefit of the earthly and mortal inhabitants.
[p.325]That the Father, and Son, and all the children of God will have thrones and kingdoms in the heavens eternally as well as upon the earth, is clearly revealed in many parts of scripture both ancient and modern. In the second epistle of Mormon to his Son Moroni, he closes thus: “And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of His power, until all things shall become subject unto Him, be, and abide with you for ever.” God the Father has a throne high in the heavens. The prophet Mormon in his sermon on Faith, Hope, and Charity, speaks of Christ thus: “He advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.” And in speaking of the three Nephites who were never to taste of death, but who received a partial change, he says that in the judgment day of Christ they are to receive a full change from mortality to immortality, and “be received into the kingdom of the Father to go no more out, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens.” The same idea is clearly expressed in many other revelations, from which it is plain that the earthly thrones and kingdoms are but a small portion of the vast dominions and blessings of the righteous.
In a revelation given through Joseph the Seer in March, 1832, the Lord sets forth a pattern for His servants in regard to being equal in temporal things, that they might become equal in heavenly things. He says, “Through my providence, notwithstanding the tribulation which shall descend upon you, that the Church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world, that you may come up unto the crown prepared for you, and be made Rulers over many kingdoms, saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Zion.” Thus we see that there are many kingdoms, besides those pertaining to the earth, over which the faithful servants of God will be made rulers. In this same revelation the Lord says “he that is a faithful and wise steward shall inherit all things.” (Doc. & Cov. Sec. 76.) Again, the Lord says, concerning His faithful servants, that “he that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is least and the servant of all: wherefore, he is possessor of all things, for all things are subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son; but no man is possessor of all things, except he be purified and cleansed from all sin; and if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.” (Doc. &Cov. Sec. 17:6.)
From these quotations, it will be perceived that the children of God who are purified from all sin are to be made equal one with another in earthly and heavenly things—that they are to possess the light and the life, the spirit and the power; that all things are to be subject unto them [p.326]both in heaven and on the earth—and that they are to inherit all things. In section Seventh, paragraph thirty-third, we are informed that the saints are to be made equal with Christ immediately after their resurrection; and in the vision, we are told that they are to be made “equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.” How, it may be asked, will the saints be made equal “in dominion?” We know not, unless it will be by each one inheriting all things: if all the thrones, and kingdoms, and worlds throughout universal space, should be the inheritance of God the Father, and of His Son, and of each of His children who attains to a fulness of celestial glory; then it might with propriety, be said that they were equal “in Dominion:” if one ruled over a greater number of worlds than another, it would appear not only to destroy the equality “in dominion,” but the equality “in power,” and the promise of all things, and of the inheritance of all things would seem to be void. Jesus in his prayer to the Father says, “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine.” (John 17:10.) Again, Jesus says, “All things that the Father hath are mine.” (John 16:15.) Hence we perceive, that the Father inherits all things, that Jesus inherits all that the Father does; and that the saints are to be equal with Jesus and be joint heirs with him in all his possessions, and to sit down with him on his throne, even as Jesus sits on his Father’s throne and exercises almighty power in his kingdoms: consequently all glorified worlds that have been, that are, and that ever will be, appear to be the common property of all saints who attain to the fulness of the glory of the celestial world. Herein consists the perfect oneness between the Father, Son, and all his Saints. The Saints will be as perfect as the Father and Son are perfect; they will be as pure as they are; they will receive a fulness of all truth—even a knowledge of “all things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come.” They will be “equal in power, and in might, and in dominion,” they will “inherit all things;” they will be crowned over all the kingdoms of our God. All principalities and power, whether in heaven or in the heaven of heavens, in the heights above or in the depths beneath will be subject to them. Each one will be God in all the fulness of His glorious attributes, swaying almighty power over all, and in all, and through all things. Then we shall know that we are in God and God in us; otherwise, we could not abound; then we shall know that there is but one God so far as the attributes are concerned, and that He dwells in an infinity of tabernacles; and that He has prescribed laws to govern Himself in all the tabernacles which He inherits, and that He acts in and through each tabernacle according to His own laws; and the fulness of His attributes in one tabernacle will not act in opposition to the fulness of His attributes in another; but He will act in all His dwelling places in harmony with Himself.
Now, we are but parts of God, dwelling in different tabernacles, [p.327]and we are required to gain other parts; and if we abide in the law ordained for our government, God will impart more of Himself; hence Jesus says, “Inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me, and I in you.” When we have received him in fulness, it prepares us to be joint heirs with Him in the inheritance of all things. It is this fulness of God in each tabernacle that inherits all things—that possesses all things—that exercises power over all things—that reigns over all, erecting His thrones upon all glorified worlds, and giving Himself universal dominion wherever He may dwell whether in one tabernacle or in the whole.
The earth, as we have already stated; will be one of the glorified kingdoms, where the resurrection saints will receive their inheritances, and their thrones; but during the Millennial period, they will not dwell so constantly on their earthly thrones as on their heavenly ones. After the earth has passed away and been made new, and become a glorified and celestial world, it will be crowned with the presence of God the Father, and it will be the dwelling place of numerous tabernacles of God; for though each inherits all things, no one can be in two places at once, so far as the tabernacle is concerned; therefore the glorified earth will be the homestead of those saints who have previously inhabited it; while the saints of other glorified worlds who also inherit all things, will have the respective worlds to which they belong as their everlasting homes or head quarters. Thus God by His attributes, inhabiting an infinity of tabernacles, dwelling on numberless worlds, can be in them all at the same moment, and thus be Omnipresent. While if it were not for this arrangement, He could only be on one world at a time. Oh, how great and marvelous are the ways of the Almighty! How wonderful are His doings! He organizeth for Himself dwelling places in all glorified worlds that He may abide in them for ever! He maketh them beings independent in the highest sphere, and yet by His wisdom He subjected them to the same celestial law and uniteth them as one!
When the resurrection saints have attained to all this fulness of glory, and have become exalted as gods upon their eternal thrones, there will be no possibility of their falling, any more than there is of the fall of the Father and Son. Therefore the inhabitants of all inferior kingdoms, over whom they reign, will look to them with the same confidence that we now look upon the Lord our God. And God, that is in each, will proclaim Himself to all his creations as the only wise God, that, besides Him there is none else, and that He is from everlasting to everlasting, His works having no end, neither beginning.
Notwithstanding we have spoken of the saints jointly inheriting all things, yet there will, undoubtedly, be strict and unchangeable laws regulating this joint inheritance, by which no one will be permitted to infringe upon the rights of others; these laws being established upon [p.328]the strictest principles of justice and equity, from which there will be no deviation. Each will be appointed to take the immediate charge of particular or specified portions of the joint inheritance, over which he will more immediately rule: though the whole is the inheritance of each, yet each cannot in his own person, be every where present to govern and rule over the whole: therefore each will have his family, and particular kingdoms, and worlds assigned him to govern and control, so that the great, universal and infinite inheritance may be properly managed for the benefit of its joint owners. This will be a grand co-partnership, embracing the inhabitants of all glorified worlds who have attained to the fulness of celestial glory.
Though the saints are all “equal in power, and in might, and in dominion,” so far as the universal joint inheritance is concerned, yet we suppose, that they will be unequal in regard to the extent of the allotted portions of the joint inheritance assigned to the management of each. This inequality probably arising from the nature of their callings and their righteousness in this life. To illustrate this, we will suppose that all the inhabitants of Utah were united together in a firm or co-partnership, in which each individual should be considered as having equal privileges, or in other words, each individual should be called the possessor and owner of the whole capital invested. If this capital were appropriated to every species of useful business throughout the territory, it is evident that branches of business assigned to individuals would be very unequal: some requiring a hundred fold more of the joint capital than others, and some would be entrusted, from the nature of the business, with a hundred fold more responsibility than others; but notwithstanding this great inequality in the multiplied branches of industry, in the extent of the responsibility, and in the amount of the joint capital entrusted to some in comparison with others, yet when the whole capital is taken into consideration, they are all equal; for each one possesses the whole; each one has equal powers in regard to the whole; each one inherits all things, included in the great general capital.
Now let this general capital be infinitely enlarged, so as to take within its scope all glorified worlds in boundless space, that now is or that ever will be, and the same principle is equally applicable: it accounts for the inequalities in some things, and the equality in others; it reconciles the apparent contradictions which some have supposed to exist in the revelations of heaven: it shows how we can “inherit all things,” and be made “equal in power, and in might, and in dominion,” and at the same time be very unequal in the distribution of the management of different portions of the joint inheritance.