Strang, The Prophet
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Prophets of God have three things in common.  First, they are called by a direct revelation from God. Second, they are ordained at the hands men that held that office in the flesh (with the exception of Adam and Jesus).  Jesus was ordained under the hands of the Father (Heb. 5:4).  Third, their teachings on the same subject are consistently the same.

Joseph Smith left four revelations from God stating that in the event of his impending death he would appoint "another" to stand in his place (Doctrine and Covenants, 28:7, 35:18, 43:4-7, 90:4).  Joseph Smith wrote this Letter of Appointment on June 18, 1844; and was mailed in Nauvoo June 19.  It is not in Yale University Library.  On July 27, 1844, Joseph was murdered by a mob in Carthage Jail, Illinois; where he was being held under the protective custody of the Governor.  At the same hour of his death, James J. Strang claimed to have been ordained under the hands of angels; although he was 400 miles away and had no way of knowing of the death of Joseph.  The Letter of Appointment arrived at Burlington, Wisconsin on July 9.  This was the first news of the death of Joseph Smith.

James taught the same as every prophet of God before him.  He wrote, “As prophet, I have foretold in the name of God, the ills that were coming on men, and directed all who received the word of the Lord how and where to come out from among the wicked, that they receive not of their plagues.
   
“I have obtained covenants and promises of God and at his hand obtained an everlasting inheritance for the Saints, which I have divided among them by lot, without cost or price.  God is our God and we are his people forevermore.
   
“As a Seer, I have seen the visions of the Almighty, and as a Revelator have received knowledge of his purposes and commandments, and made them known among the children of men.  As a translator, I have brought forth hidden treasures, and re­vealed the old record to all who love the truth, and seek unto it.  The visions of the past and the hidden lore of future ages are laid by the side of present hopes and future knowledge.
   
“As an apostle I have borne a faithful testimony of the kingdom and the coming of the Lord Jesus.  I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith.  I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.  In the treasure-house of the Almighty there is laid up for me a crown of glory richer than all diadems of earthly kings.
   
“Of all that dwell on earth, God has made me the most happy.  From men I fear no evil.  May God bless you abundantly with the same blessings, and especially with the love of the truth."

Prophets
Vision of James J. Strang on June 18, 1844.
Letter of Appointment from Joseph Smith.
Ordination of James J. Strang on June 27, 1844
Delivery of the Letter of Appointment.
James J. Strang the Prophet
 Pastoral Letters
Prophecies Fulfilled
Prophecies Yet Future
Brigham Young and the Twelve
Sidney Rigdon
Testimonies For James

Prophets

Many different words were translated as prophet in the Bible.  “A prophet may be a minister, a singer, a priest, or some other person. In short, a prophet is anyone who presents the Word of God to his fellowmen, or who praises the works of God.” (Young’s Analytical Concordance To The Bible)  Webster’s Dictionary gives three primary definitions for the word prophet: (1) a person who speaks for God, (2) a religious teacher or leader regarded as, or claiming to be, divinely inspired, and (3) a person who predicts future events in any way.  James fulfilled all three definitions of the term prophet.

The Spirit of Truth received when a person is born of the Spirit includes a gift of prophesy.  “13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16)  One of the gifts of the Holy Ghost is the gift of prophesy.  The Apostle Paul placed great value on this gift.  “1 Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” (1 Cor. 14)

Generally, the higher a person progresses in the priesthood, the greater this gift is manifested; until a person is ordained to the Prophetic Office and enjoys a fullness of this gift.  Prophets often see various times like rows of hills at different distances.  Seeing both the near times and the far times, they often speak of different times in the same verse.

High Priests are often referred to as prophets in the Bible.  James wrote, “They who are faithful in the calling, have the gift of prophecy.  Hence High Priests are frequently spoken of under the name of Prophets.” (Book of the Law, p. 225)

There is also the Prophetic Office.  This is the highest order of the Melchisedec Priesthood and presides as First President over the people of God.  The superior office is that of first degree Apostle; and is a Lawgiver, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator.  “This Degree is sole, and gives the word of God as from his own mouth.” (Book of the Law, p. 214) James fulfilled all of these duties. He stood as First President having communion with God; and offered many Revelations from God giving the people guidance on the will of God.  Communication with God is limited only by the faithfulness and obedience of the people.  When men turn from the will of God to the commandments of men and delights of the world, they lose communication with God. Eventually the Spirit is completely withdrawn.  The command that the people should gather, have all things in common, and be as one, was broken both under Joseph and James.

James provided numerous revelations from God to the people.  These are addressed in the chapter, James the Revelator.  James also continually offered the people guidance on the will of God through various tracts; and through his teachings in the official church journals.  He published four Pastoral Letters to the church that are included in this chapter.  The prophecies which he gave (up to this generation) have been perfectly fulfilled.  His prophecies of events yet future, agree with those in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants.

As a translator he provided the Voree Record and The Book of the Law of the Lord.  The latter remains the most valuable document given through James to the people of God.  It was the most sacred of all the books of Scripture.  It is noted by name over twenty times in the Bible; and as the law of God hundreds of times.  The teachings of James bring a wealth of information on doctrinal subjects.  They are included in the chapter, James the Teacher.

After the loss of the Melchisedec Priesthood in Israel , during the Egyptian captivity, Moses was called to the office of Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver; and received the Book of the Law of the Lord on tables of stone—written by the finger of God. Before the death of Moses, God commanded Moses to call Joshua to the second order of the Prophetic Office.  “18 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; 19 And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. 20 And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. 21 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.” (Num. 27)

This office if that of second degree Apostle; and is Counselor, Prophet, Seer, and King. In the absence of a Lawgiver, this lower office can stand at the head of the people; when specifically given that commission; as was Joshua.  James explained the possible succession in the office of second degree Apostle, “If there was an interregnum in the Priesthood of Lawgiver, the oldest Apostle of this Degree… would stand at the head till the place was filled.” (Book of the Law, p. 219)

Only those who have been properly called to the Prophetic Office have authority to stand at the head of the Church of Christ .  After the death of Joseph, Sidney Rigdon, a second degree Apostle, attempted to stand at the head.  His claim could have been valid if he had been specifically ordained as head the people.  But, James had already been ordained as a first degree Apostle above him.  The lesser is always blessed by the greater.  The office of First President, and head of the people, requires a specific ordination by one holding greater authority.  Moses stood above Joshua in the priesthood.  Joseph and James stood above Sidney Rigdon.

Although Joshua stood at the head of the people, and held the keys of mysteries and revelation, his office was that of an interpreter and administrator (of existing laws)—he could not give new commandments to the people.  After Joshua, Prophet Judges, and Prophets stood at the head of the people of God; and provided communication with God.  The inferior Kings in Israel [e.g. David and Solomon] were subject to the Prophets; as they held the lower office of High Priest.

A distinguishing feature of Prophets of God is communication with God.  God does not separate Himself from man.  It is man who, through lack of faith and disobedience, separates himself from God.  “1 Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isa. 59)  James was the only person who claimed to succeed Joseph; and who provided this essential communication with God.

Brigham Young claimed to stand at the head; as a third degree Apostle.  This lower degree is that of Ambassador and not of Prophet; and holds no royal (presiding) authority in Zion .  They can act with presiding authority only under the direction of the Presidency.  Brigham Young was never ordained according to the law of God to the Prophetic Office (See the Kirtland Council Record Book, p. 72).  He held the office of First President only by a popular vote of his followers—in rebellion to the authority established by God through James.  Having no communication with God, Brigham never fulfilled the office of Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator.  Only the last section in the Utah Doctrine and Covenants alludes to Brigham giving “The Word and Will of the Lord.”  As Brigham was never ordained to the Prophetic Office, this section is a bold usurpation of the authority of God.

About four hundred years before Jesus , Judah had become so corrupted they became separated from God; and lost the guidance of a Prophet of God.  Jesus restored the Melchisedec Priesthood and the office of Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver.  After the death of Jesus, Peter, James, and John were successively called at the head of the people.  Jesus told Peter, “17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?  Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?  And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.  Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21)

The first vacancy in the twelve third degree Apostles, left by Judas, was filled by Matthais (Acts 1:26 ).  The calling of Peter to the Prophetic Office left a second vacancy in the Twelve.  The vacancy left by Peter was filled by Paul.  Peter addressed his epistles to the church; where Paul addressed his only to the churches within his jurisdiction.

John was the last Prophet of God in the former Gentile dispensation.  The final book in the Bible is the book of Revelation by John.  It begins with a strong warning to the Gentile churches.  The gentiles had already begun to fall back into their pagan traditions and evil practices.  Jesus gave them one final warning.  “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:5)

They would not. God called no more Prophets; and no longer spoke with them.  Prophesy, ecclesiastical history, and church leaders agree that the Gentiles returned to paganism.  Constantine completed the conversion of Christianity to paganism—changing only the names.  Mosheim, the noted ecclesiastical historian, traced this apostasy during each century after Jesus.  He wrote of the fourth century under Constantine , “The rites and institutions, by which the Greeks, Romans, and other nations, had formerly testified their religious veneration for fictitious deities, were now adopted, with some slight alterations by Christian bishops, and employed in the service of the true God.” (Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History, Century 4, Part 2, chap 4:1, 4)

John saw a beast (Mystery, Babylon the Great) that was to overcome the Church of Christ , the divine authority of God, and close the door to the kingdom of heaven for 1260 years.  “5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months… 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Rev. 13)

“10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen [ Egypt , Assyria , Babylon , Persia , and Greece ], and one is [Pagan Rome], and the other is not yet come [Pagan Christian Rome]; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space [325 AD to 476AD]. 11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth [Papal Rome], and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” (Rev. 17)

The final form of the beast—Papal Rome—was established in 570 AD.  The kingdom of Satan now had complete control over the souls of man.  There were many dissenters against the doctrines and rule of the Popes.  Constantine had declared resistance to the doctrines of the Catholic Church heresy--a civil crime punishable by death.  It has been estimated the Popes were responsible for the martyrdom of 50,000,000 people.

After the 1260 years, John prophesied that divine authority and the gospel of Christ would be restored to the earth; and Jesus taught the gospel would be preached one last time as a witness against the Gentiles before their destruction.  “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Rev. 14:6)  Jesus said, “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14)

Exactly 1260 years later, on April 6, 1830 , Joseph Smith, established the Church of Christ; according to the freedom of religion provisions of the first amendment.  He had previously been ordained under the hands of Peter, James, and John as Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver.  He restored the same order to the house of God that Jesus had done almost two thousand years earlier.  “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [High Priests]; and some, pastors [Elders] and teachers.” (Eph. 4:11)

This was to be the last time the gospel would be preached to the Gentiles.  “Wherefore, labor ye, labor ye in my vineyard for the last time--for the last time call upon the inhabitants of the earth.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 43:28)  Again, the Gentiles refused to live by the will of God.  Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844 ; and gave his blood as a witness to the truth of his calling.

Joseph Smith had left several revelations that, in the event of his impending death, he would appoint “another” in his place.  Joseph also noted the law of God provides that only one ordained at the hands of angels has a legitimate claim to the higher Prophetic Office held by Joseph.

“4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead. 5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; 6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. 7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 43; see also D&C 28:2, 6, 7; 35:17, 18; 43:3; and 90:3, 4)

James became familiar with the Church of Christ through two of his brothers-in-law. His brother-in-law, Benjamin, joined the latter day saints.  Moses Smith, a highly respected member of the church, visited Burlington , Wisconsin .  The extreme interest generated by this visit caused James to return on foot with Aaron Smith, some 400 miles in the middle of winter, in February, 1844, to Nauvoo , Illinois --the gathering place of the saints.  On February 25, he was baptized of water and the Spirit by Joseph Smith.

He was ordained an Elder by Hyrum Smith, brother of Joseph and Patriarch to the church, on March 3rd.  As Hyrum laid his hands upon James’ head, he prophesied that he would hold the same priesthood as Enoch, Moses, and Elijah.

“In February in the year eighteen hundred and forty four James J. Strang in company with Aaron Smith and under his teachings visited Nauvoo the city of the Saints and there was more fully instructed by Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith and Sidney Rigdon, in the Gospel.

“On the twenty fifth day of February in that year he was baptized by Joseph Smith who gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands and blessed him with many and great blessings and said I seal upon thy head against God's own good time the keys of the Melchisedec Priesthood and afterwards but in the same ordinance Thou shalt hold the keys of the Melchisedec Priesthood, shalt walk with Enoch, Moses and Elijah and shalt talk with God face to face.

“And on the third day of March in the same year he was ordained an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints by the laying on of hands of Hyrum Smith according to the testimony of the spirit of prophecy and the word of the Holy Ghost, and he said I perceive by the spirit which is within me that thou shalt carry the gospel with the Spirit like flaming fire to many nations and by thee shall God save the pure of his people. (Chronicles of Voree, p. 6)

On June 18th, Joseph wrote a letter appointing James as his successor in accordance with the law of God.  It was sent by regular course of mail from Nauvoo on June 19, 1844 ; and was received in Burlington , Wisconsin on July 9.  On the same day that Joseph wrote the letter, James received a vision in which he saw himself, “surrounded by wise men and counselors and priests and eloquent orators, arose and taught the people.” At the same hour that Joseph was murdered in Carthage Jail on June 27, James J. Strang claimed to have been ordained at the hands of angels to the same Prophetic Office; as Joseph’s successor; and head of the people of God.  James offered a thorough examination of the law of God on succession in the Presidency and his claims to the Prophetic Office in the tract The Prophetic Controversy.

  Vision of James J. Strang on June 18, 1844 .

   “1. On the eighteenth day of June, eighteen hundred and forty‑four, James J. Strang was in the Spirit, and he was in the grove above the stone quarry on White River, and he had a vision; and behold, he was carried away in the Spirit to the top of the hill in the west border of Racine, and Gardner's prairie was to the north, and the White River marshes to the south, and he saw in the vision; and the lands round about were covered with many houses and gardens, and there were streets, and shops, and people; even a city of many inhabitants. And the city was built of stone, and there were few houses of brick and less of wood, and the gardens were many; and a few houses were very great, and their inhabitants many.

“2. There was a change in the vision, and the people with lively pace and smiling countenances thronged the streets and passed by.

“3. There was another change, and they were all assembled in a vast hall, and James J. Strang, surrounded by wise men and counselors and priests and eloquent orators, arose and taught the people; and the Spirit of prophecy witnesseth unto him, so shall it be; and the vision ended, and he was strengthened but his faith was weak." (Voree Herald, August, 1846, p. 33)

James recommended the area around Burlington for a Stake of the church; because of its climate, water supply, farm land, manufacturing potential, and availability to the Great Lakes .  Joseph gave James a charge to search out the land around Burlington .  James wrote a report on the area; and mailed it to Joseph on May 24.  His answer was written on June 18, in which Joseph appointed him to be the next Prophet and head of the people, in accordance with the laws of God.

  Letter of Appointment from Joseph Smith.

  Nauvoo, Ill., June 18th, 1844 .
   
“My Dear Son:--Your epistle of May 24th, proposing the planting a Stake of Zion in Wisconsin , and the gathering of the Saints there, was duly received, and I, with most of the brethren whose advice I called in, were of opinion that you was deceived by a spirit not of this world, great but not good. Brother Hyrum, however, thought otherwise, and favored the project, not doubting it was of God. I, however, determined to return you an unfavorable answer for the present. But, Oh! the littleness of man in his best earthly state! Not so the will of the Almighty. God hath ruled it otherwise, and a message from the throne of grace directed me as it hath inspired you, and the faith which thou hast in the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel, hath been repaid to thee a thousand fold, and thou shalt be like unto him; but the flock shall find rest with thee, and God shall reveal to thee his will concerning them.

“I have long felt that my present work was almost done, and that I should soon be called to rule a mighty host, but something whispers me it will be in the land of spirits, where the wicked cease from troubling and the bands of the prisoner fall off.  My heart yearns for my little ones, but I know God will be a father to them, and I can claim face to face the fulfillment of promises from him who is a covenant-keeping God, and who sweareth and peformeth and faileth not to the uttermost.

“The wolves are upon the scent, and I am waiting to be offered up, if such be the will of God, knowing that though my visage be more marred than that of any, it will be unscarred and fair when archangels shall place on my brow the double crown of martyr and king in a heavenly world.

“In the midst of darkness and boding danger, the spirit of Elijah came upon me, and I went away to inquire of God how the Church should be saved.

“I was upon the hill of the Temple . The calm father of waters rolled below, changeless and eternal. I beheld a light in the heavens above, and streams of bright light illuminated the firmament, varied and beautiful as the rainbow, gentle, yet rapid as the fierce lightning.

“The Almighty came from his throne of rest. He clothed himself with light as with a garment. He appeared, and moon and stars went out. The earth dissolved in space. I trod on air and was borne on wings of Cherubims. The sweetest strains of heavenly music thrilled in my ear, but the notes were low and sad as though they sounded the requiem of martyred Prophets.

“I bowed my head to the earth and asked only wisdom and strength for the Church. The voice of God answered, My servant Joseph, thou hast been faithful over many things and thy reward is glorious; the crown and sceptre are thine, and they wait thee. But thou hast sinned in some things, and thy punishment is very bitter. The whirlwind goeth before, and its clouds are dark, but rest followeth, and to its days there shall be no end. Study the words of the vision for it tarrieth not.

And now behold my servant James J. Strang hath come to thee from far for truth when he knew it not, and hath not rejected it, but had faith in thee, the Shepherd and Stone of Israel, and to him shall the gathering of the people be, for he shall plant a stake of Zion in Wisconsin, and I will establish it; and there shall my people have peace and rest and shall not be moved, for it shall be established on the prairie on White River, in the lands of Racine and Walworth; and behold my servants James and Aaron shall plant it, for I have given them wisdom, and Daniel shall stand in his lot on the hill beside the river, looking down on the prairie, and shall instruct my people, and shall plead with them face to face.

“Behold my servant James shall lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes of Zion , and my servant Aaron shall be his counselor, for he hath wisdom in the gospel, and understandeth the doctrines, and erreth not therein.

“And I will have a house built unto me there of stone, and there will I show myself to my people by many mighty works, and the name of the city shall be called Voree, which is, being interpreted, garden of peace, for there shall my people have peace and rest and wax fat and pleasant in the presence of their enemies.

“But I will again stretch out my arm over the river of waters, and on the banks thereof shall the house of my choice be. But now the city of Voree shall be a stronghold of safety to my people, and they that are faithful and obey me I will there give them great prosperity, and such as they have not had before; and unto Voree shall be the gathering of my people, and there shall the oppressed flee for safety, and none shall hurt or molest them.

“And by this shall they know that I have spoken it; the people there and the owners of the land shall show kindness to them, for great calamities are coming on the church, and such as have not been, and if they scatter, the ungodly of the world shall swallow them up, but if they gather to my city of Voree there will I keep them under the shadow of my wings, and the cities from whence my people have been driven shall be purged with a high hand, for I will do it, and my people shall be again restored to their possession; but dark clouds are gathering, for the church is not yet wholly purged.

“And now I command my servants, the Apostles and Priests and Elders of the Church of the Saints, that they communicate and proclaim this, my word, to all the saints of God in all the world, that they may be gathered unto and round about the city of Voree and be saved from their enemies, for I will have a people to serve me.

“And I command my servant Moses Smith, that he go unto the saints with whom he is acquainted, and unto many people, and command them in my name to go unto my city of Voree, and gain inheritances therein, and he shall have an inheritance therein, for he hath left all for my sake; and I will add unto him many fold if he is faithful, for he knows the land and can testify to them that it is very good.

“So spake the Almighty God of heaven. Thy duty is made plain, and if thou lackest wisdom, ask of God, in whose hands I trust thee, and he shall give thee unsparingly, for if evil befall me thou shalt lead the flock to pleasant pastures. God sustain thee.

                   JOSEPH SMITH.”

  Ordination of James J. Strang on June 27, 1844

  “1. On the twenty‑seventh day of June, 1844, at five and a half o'clock in the afternoon, James J. Strang was in the Spirit, and the Angel of God came unto him and saluted him, saying,

“2. Fear God and be strengthened and obey him, for great is the work which he hath required at thy hand. Go on in hope and strength, and falter not, and he will sustain thee, and thou shalt triumph, for the voice of the Lord by the mouth of Joseph will he fulfill.

“3. And the Angel of the Lord stretched forth his hand unto him and touched his head, and put oil upon him and said, Grace is poured upon thy lips, and God blesseth thee with the greatness of the Everlasting Priesthood. He putteth might and glory and majesty upon thee, and in meekness and truth and righteousness will he prosper thee.

“4. Thou shalt save his people from their enemies when there is no arm to deliver, and shalt bring salvation when destruction walketh in the house of thy God. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore thy God hath anointed thee with oil and set thee above all thy fellows.

“5. Thy words shall be like sharp arrows in the heart of the wicked. Thou shalt rebuke those who pervert the word of thy God. Thou shalt preach righteousness and the sublime mysteries in the ears of many people, and shall bring the gospel to many who have not known it and to the nations afar off.

“6. Thou shalt drive backward and put to shame those that do evil, and the workers of iniquity shall fall. They shall be cast down and shall not be able to rise. With purity will the Lord thy God arm thee, and purity and truth shalt thou teach.

“7. Keep the law of the Lord thy God in thy heart, and none of thy steps shall slide. With thee is the fountain of truth. In thy light shall the people of thy God see, for thou shalt speak his word unto them, and from thy lips shall they receive it.

“8. The blessing of their God shalt thou put upon them, and his curse upon evil doers, if, after being oft rebuked, they repent not; and before my people shalt thou go to lead them into my ways, for unto thee has the Lord thy God given salvation.

“9. In righteousness shalt thou rule. Thou shalt redeem the poor and the needy from suffering and violence, and to thee God giveth judgment for them. Thou shalt deliver the prey from the spoiler, for God, thy God, hath put them in thy hand.

“10. And in weakness will he make thee strong. Thou shalt rule among his people. Thou shalt break in pieces the rod of the oppressor and the yoke of the unjust ruler. They shall flee away, but the way of peace shall they not find.

“11. While the day of the wicked abideth, shalt thou prepare a refuge for the oppressed and for the poor and needy. Unto thee shall they come, and their brethren who are scattered shall come with them, and the destruction of the ungodly shall quickly follow, for it already worketh. Go thy way and be strong.” (Voree Herald, August, 1846, p. 33)

On June 27, 1844 , Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered in Carthage Jail; while under the protective custody of the Governor.  At the same hour, some 400 miles distant, in Burlington , Wisconsin , James claimed to have been ordained under the hands of angels as an Apostle, Prophet, Lawgiver, and Joseph’s successor.

For almost three weeks James taught of this appointment, without any knowledge of the death of Joseph.  The letter of appointment arrived in Burlington on July 9, 1844 , in which Joseph prophesied of his coming death and appointing James as his successor.  Thus began the difficult and trying work of James as Apostle, Prophet, Lawgiver, Seer, Revelator, and Translator; which he sealed with his own blood on July 9, 1856 .

  Delivery of the Letter of Appointment.
By, James J. Strang.

  “This letter was received at Burlington by regular course of mail, coming through the distributing office at Chicago , and bears the Nauvoo postmark of June 19th, the day following its date.  It arrived at Burlington July 9th, and was immediately taken from the office by C. P. Barnes, Esq., a distinguished lawyer. at that place, who, in con­sequence of the rumors of persecution and civil war against the Mormons, and a general anxiety to hear the latest news, immediately carried it to Mr. Strang, with the request to be informed of any news of public interest which it might contain.  It therefore became public the same evening…

“Mrs. Emma Smith recollects well of her husband receiving a letter from Mr. Strang, and holding a council on the subject, and names Hyrum Smith, Willard Richards and John P. Green as present at that council, and also that a letter was sent to Mr. Strang in answer, but of the import of the answer she was not informed.

“Immediately after the martyrdom of Joseph, John Taylor, Willard Richards and William W. Phelps took a kind of temporary direction of the affairs of the church, instructing the saints to wait patiently the hand of the Lord; assuring them that he had not left them without a shepherd, and that all things would be made known in due season.  To every question of the saints, Who is the prophet?  replies were made, in substance, that the saints would know in due season, but that nothing could be done until the Twelve got home, because the appoint­ment of a prophet and the directions for salvation of the church from the perils they were in, was contained in sealed packages directed to them.  Orson Hyde and others of the Twelve, who were then in the east, stated in public congregations in New York, Philadelphia and other cities, that Willard Richards had written to them that the appointment of a prophet was left with him, under seal, to be opened on the return of the Twelve.  This assertion was so often made that the whole church were daily expecting to hear a new prophet pro­claimed.  On the 8th day of August, 1844, when Sidney Rigdon en­deavored to obtain authority to lead the church, John P. Green, marshal of the city of Nauvoo , told them, "They need not trouble themselves about it, for Joseph had appointed one James J Strang, who lived up north, to stand in his stead."  The sudden death of John P. Green immediately after this declaration (under very extra­ordinary circumstances) left Willard Richards and John Taylor sole repositors of all documents on this subject, except this letter.

“They had simply to suppress documents in their hands to set themselves up in power, or overthrow themselves and their preten­sions by publishing them.  These, and many other facts which we have not room to state, make an array of testimony of the strongest kind in favor of this letter.  It is worthy of consideration that no one fact has been relied on against it, but that in various quarters different false tales have been told to disparage it, which a mere inspection of the letter or of public records would prove false.  The only reason which can be given for this continual resort to falsehood is that there is no truth against it."  (The Diamond, p. 3)

  James J. Strang the Prophet

  There have always been distinctive characteristics which identify a true Prophet of God.  First, they all claim direct communication with the throne of grace.  Second, they all claim a calling and ordination at the hands of angels by a direct command of God.  Third, they all fulfill the duties of their calling.  Fourth, they teach the same as all prophets of God on the same subject.  Fifth, in many instances they seal their testimony with their own blood.

Of all the various men who claimed succession after the death of Joseph, only James J. Strang was appointed by Joseph and claimed to have been ordained at the hands of angels.  James made his claim known from the time of his ordination on June 27, by mail and by word of mouth.  Until the letter was delivered on July 9, there was no official news from Nauvoo.  The letter from Joseph proved the claim that James had made almost two weeks earlier.

James kept the letter open for public examination throughout his life.  It is now in Yale University Library.  James put all question concerning its validity to rest forever.  The validity of Mormonism actually rests upon the validity of this letter.  If Joseph failed to appoint “another” as successor, and no one came forward claiming a proper ordination as his successor, Joseph was a false prophet.

James wrote in a letter to Mrs. Corey, which was later incorporated into The Prophetic Controversy, “It is seldom that any one having a letter in possession, if its genuineness was disputed, could absolutely show it.  No matter how perfect the handwriting or post stamp, it may be said, ‘they might have been forged.’ I ask you, which one of the written revelations is surrounded by as much evidence of genuineness as this?

“First of all, the letter is prophetic.  Many things were predicted in it so improbable, the Brighamites formerly appealed to them as evidence that it was not genuine.  Among these is the prediction of the necessity of a refuge for the saints out of Nauvoo.  You know how fearfully this has been fulfilled.

“It was received at Voree before any notice of Joseph's death or arrest reached there, and nothing is more certain than that that fearful tragedy struck the whole country with astonishment.  To suppose that such a letter would have been forged at that time, is merely ridiculous.  In the chapter of accidents it would not stand one chance in a million of making a genuine hit.

“Moreover, if a forgery, the crime must have been committed by some person having no conceivable interest in it, and who has never come forward to claim or seek any advantage growing out of it, and must have been worked through the postoffice somewhere by official connivance and criminal contrivance.

“For it is beyond contradiction, and has been proved by an abun­dance of witnesses, now living, that this letter did reach Burlington in the mail, duly enveloped and billed as from Chicago, and was taken from the office and carried to me, and read, and its contents made public the same day.

“To believe that it is a forgery, you must believe that all these difficulties were encountered and overcome by some persons un­known, and not yet suspected, and for what purpose?  None, within man's imagination.  So much more credulous is unbelief than the strongest faith.

“A fact worth all the rest is, that in the many thousand places in which this letter has been exibited, its genuineness has never been questioned, except at Florence, Michigan; and among the quarter of a million of people who have examined it, nearly all interested in discrediting it, Brighamites, because it was evidence of my calling, and Gentiles, because it was evidence of the truth of Mormonism, nobody ever questioned its genuineness, except less than a half dozen Brighamite elders.  All the rest who call it a forgery are persons who never saw it.

“No other fact goes further in support of the divine institution of Mormonism; no other fact in its support is so universally credited.  What an infatuation on the part of Mormons to seek to discredit it.  It quite equals the perversity with which several leading Mormons have long sought to destroy the credibility of the original witnesses to the Book of Mormon; a blunder and a crime of which Mr. Ferris, late Secretary of Utah, in his book against Mormonism, took advan­tage with most telling force.

“When nearly all the world were interested in impeaching this letter, out of a quarter of a million who have examined it, less than a half dozen have questioned its genuineness.  This fact alone raises about as strong a case of human evidence as the mind of man can conceive.

“But, pressing the inquiry, on what ground did they dispute it?  Not that the postmark was made of black ink, or was made with too large letters; for no such fact existed, and no such was ever suggested till it was stated at Nauvoo, as a kind of sweep all, to silence inquiry, not expecting it would ever reach me, to be con­tradicted.

“The only objection made to it then, was, that the postmark, or stamp, had a dot at the left of the top of the J in "June," which ought not to be there.  This is conceded.  My answer to it then was, that there were so many chances by which such a dot could be made without design, that its presence proved nothing.

“The question was discussed at length, as well as every other objection made to the appointment of a prophet in that manner, and the result was that I was sustained by the Conference.  Thirteen elders were present, and after a majority had expressed themselves in my favor, Green, Dunn and Jacob counseled caution and pru­dence, and proposed cautious and prudent resolutions, to the effect that "those of the elders who were satisfied with the evidence of my calling, might proclaim it, taking themselves the responsibility in case it should prove an error, and those who were not satisfied should say nothing on the subject, till further directions."  Such was the compromise which my opponents were glad to make, to avoid my being fully recognized by the Conference at Florence ; facts which fully appear by the original records of the Conference.

“After the adjournment of the Conference these men began a most assiduous effort to change the face of matters, assuming author­ity as I have often seen Brighamites do since then; and by threatening and cajoling, partly silencing those who had been disposed to hear me, and then called them together again and assumed to lecture me, as ill bred old women lecture disobedient children of washing days.

“Being told that I was to hear and not reply, and satisfied that I could not get a hearing without a quarrel, I left with one of the brethren who received me at his house, even after which I was received as a prophet by most of the Saints who attended that Conference.

“My license was demanded as I left the house, but not under­standing that Elders could exercise discipline over the First President, I did not deliver it. Dunn says I had none.  But if he will call on me, I will show it to him.  Possibly he will say that is a forgery also.  I have a good many papers that Brighamites would like to have forg­eries.

“So much stress was laid on the fact of the dot before the J in the mailing stamp, that a more thorough investigation was had than the subject called for, and the result was that every letter that could be found mailed at Nauvoo the 19th June, had the same dot before the J.  Here then sprung up an unlooked for evidence of the genuine­ness of the letter of appointment, the strongest which the human mind can conceive.

“However corrupt the heart, or skillful the head, how could the forger know that on that particular day for the first time since the office was established, a little splinter would get into the mailing stamp, and mark every letter with one dot which ought not to be there?  He could not have known it.  It was impossible.  Thus the proof that this letter was duly mailed at Nauvoo the 19th of June, 1844 , is astounding; actually overwhelming.

“The single fact of this dot, once the sole ground of impeachment of this letter of appointment, has thus established its genuineness by the most singularly strong combination of facts ever presented in human evidence.

“This very strength of evidence is so great as to be repugnant to the human mind.  It struggles for something on which to hang a doubt, unwilling that that which rests in testimony should be ab­solutely beyond a doubt.”

“Upon this I shall rest the evidence that I did receive a genuine letter of appointment to the prophetic office from Joseph Smith, written a few days previous to his death.  But in preferring to rest the evidence here, I wish to notify you that there is also a mass of evidence showing the writing and sending of that letter, quite as satisfactory as this of its reception.  This evidence is now in a scat­tered state, and the task of arraying it so as to do justice to the subject is more than I have time now to undertake.  But when it is needed it will be forthcoming, and will show that some of the Brighamite leaders are just as well assured of my calling to the prophetic office as of their own to any priesthood they really and legally hold.

“Such is the mode in which I came to the prophetic office, and such are the evidences that I did so come in.  That these evidences are satisfactory, I believe no one will dispute or question, but such as are predetermined that this truth shall not be true.” (Prophetic Controversy, pp. 32-34)

James wrote of the critical importance of every Prophet of God being properly called and ordained at the hands of angels.  “1. In the general infidelity of the times the doctrine of Angelic ordinations strikes the ear as a discarded old superstition.  Though the half converted disciples of Joseph assented to that truth in his case, it was with such a savor of unwilling faith as would not believe that the like would ever again occur.  So unwilling are men to believe that God works now, as he did in the ages past.

“2. Jesus commenced his ministry after John the Baptist, the forerunner or porter, opened the door of that dispensation; being inducted into the Church by baptism, and the Priesthood by a call by the voice of God, and by the ministration of an Angel.”

“5. Moses was called by the voice of God, (Ex. iii, 4, 10,) and sent by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him when God spoke from the flame. (Acts vii, 35.)  Joseph was likewise called by the voice of God, (D. & C. i, 4,) and sent by the hand of Angels. (D. & C. 1, 2, 3.)  And in the same manner was James called and sent. (Post xx, 6, p. 169.)

“6. In the calling of Joseph there was a necessity that he be called by the direct revelation of the word of God to himself; for there was no Prophet or Priest of God on earth, by whom God should speak and minister in calling and ordaining him to the Prophetic and Apostolic office.  Consequently God called him by his own voice, and sent Peter, James and John to ordain him to the Priesthood, because they, having been duly called and set apart, and filled an acceptable ministry on earth, had entered into life, capable of ministering in heaven and on earth, as God should send them.

“7. The necessity was equally strong that the successor of Joseph should be ordained by the hand of an Angel.  He could not be ordained by any of the surviving Priesthood; because none were equal to Joseph in authority, and the less is blessed of the greater. Moreover, the keys of David, given him and his house forever, by the oath of God, had to be bestowed on the heir of David on earth, before the Kingdom could prevail and exercise dominion.  They could only be bestowed by him who held them.” (Book of the Law, p. 165)

Shortly after the death of Joseph, James and Aaron Smith left to intercept the Twelve who were returning from missions in the East.  After they reached Sandusky , Ohio , without making contact, James had become sick with a fever and returned to Voree.   Moses Smith was sent to Nauvoo to present the claims of James to the church.  Moses Smith had been honored among the saints.  He had helped saints flee from Missouri ; and was a Nauvoo merchant and highly respected High Priest.  He was not permitted to present the claims of James.  See the Chronicles of Voree, page 13.

The family of Joseph Smith did make their beliefs concerning the claims of James known; as did Apostles, the church Patriarch, and others.  A few of these testimonies are included at the end of this chapter.

I would strongly recommend that you read the notes of James concerning the office of Prophet and Lawgiver on pages 214 to 219 in the Book of the Law.  I will quote only the last paragraph.  “21. In the last days Joseph Smith, of the tribe of Ephraim, was called to the Prophetick office, the Shepherd and Stone of Israel, according to the prophecy of Jacob; (Gen. xlix, 24;) and after him James, of the tribe of Judah, and of the lineage of David, was called according to the prophecy of Jacob, (id. 10,) the prediction of Joseph in Egypt , (B. of M. 2d Nephi ii, 2,) and the covenant of God with David, (2d Sam. vii, 12, 15, 16. Ps. lxxxix, 19, 20, 25, 27-29, 36, 37,) and stands in the office of Lawgiver, having translated most of the Law given to Moses, organized and established the Kingdom of God, and established the Law of God in it.”

James wrote two tracts which addressed the law of God on prophetic succession:  The Diamond and The Prophetic Controversy.  He also wrote many articles on the true order of the priesthood and prophetic succession.  He wrote to Mrs. Corey (included in The Prophetic Controversy) in September, 1854, “Either Joseph has given the word of God appoint­ing another in his stead, or those revelations have fallen to the ground, and Joseph has proved himself a false prophet, and Mor­monism an imposture.

“Neither you nor I can take the latter alternate.  We are both obliged, by our faith in Joseph as a true prophet, to say that ‘through him God has appointed another in his stead.’

“Who has been so appointed?  It is needless to say that there is not a person on earth who pretends to have received such an ap­pointment except myself.  During the ten years since the martyrdom of Joseph, I, and I alone, have stood up as a prophet of God, claim­ing to have been appointed by revelation of God through Joseph, and to have been sent by the hands of Angels, as he was.

“Therefore there is no escaping the conclusion that either I am a true prophet, and his lawful successor, or Joseph is a false prophet, and Mormonism an imposture.  This is the only alternate with you.  With me there is none.  Called by the voice of God, and ordained by the hand of Angels, since the day of his death I have known my calling, as he did his in the days of his ministry.

“So forcible is the position I have above stated, that for years after Brigham Young assumed to stand at the head of the church, the promise was held out continually that a prophet was yet to rise, who had been appointed by Joseph.” (Prophetic Controversy, p. 3)

It should not be necessary to answer all the claims of men who established themselves as presumed heads of the church.  We have only to verify whether their claims are legitimate according to the law of God.  Any successor to Joseph had to be directly appointed by Joseph and ordained at the hands of angels.  Only James claimed communication with God and offered prophecies, revelations, and translations.

At the death of Joseph there were three degrees in the office of Apostle.  Joseph was a first degree Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver; and stood above all other officers in the church.  He was First President over the entire church.  Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams were second degree Apostles, Prophets, and Counselors to Joseph in the First Presidency.  Their priesthood was inferior to that of Joseph. 

“1 Behold, I say unto thee, Oliver, that it shall be given unto thee that thou shalt be heard by the church in all things whatsoever thou shalt teach them by the Comforter, concerning the revelations and commandments which I have given. 2 But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses… 6 And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church; 7 For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 28)

The Twelve were third degree Apostles and Ambassadors of the gospel to the world.  They did not hold the office of Prophet; and held no jurisdiction in Zion .

 “33 The Twelve are a Traveling Presiding High Council, to officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, agreeable to the institution of heaven; to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and secondly unto the Jews.”

“91 And again, the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses--

“92 Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 107)

James fulfilled the office of Prophet in five ways:  (1) as First President of the church, (2) as one who speaks for God [offers communication from God], (3) as one who predicts future events, (4) as a translator, and (5) as a teacher divinely inspired.  This chapter will address the truth of his mission by showing that he fulfilled the first three duties.  The fulfillment of his duty as a Revelator, Translator, and teacher are the subjects in separate chapters.

James wrote, concerning the fulfillment of his duties, “As First President, I have regularly presided over the Church and took the direction of its affairs in all the world, according to the law of God.

“As prophet, I have foretold in the name of God, the ills that were coming on men, and directed all who received the word of the Lord how and where to come out from among the wicked, that they receive not of their plagues.

“I have obtained covenants and promises of God and at his hand obtained an everlasting inheritance for the Saints, which I have divided among them by lot, without cost or price.  God is our God and we are his people forevermore.

“As a Seer, I have seen the visions of the Almighty, and as a Revelator have received knowledge of his purposes and commandments, and made them known among the children of men.  As a translator, I have brought forth hidden treasures, and re­vealed the old record to all who love the truth, and seek unto it.  The visions of the past and the hidden lore of future ages are laid by the side of present hopes and future knowledge.

“As an apostle I have borne a faithful testimony of the kingdom and the coming of the Lord Jesus.  I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith.  I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.  In the treasure-house of the Almighty there is laid up for me a crown of glory richer than all diadems of earthly kings.

“Of all that dwell on earth, God has made me the most happy.  From men I fear no evil.  May God bless you abundantly with the same blessings, and especially with the love of the truth.

“Truly and sincerely,
   
“JAMES J. STRANG.” (Prophetic Controversy, p. 38)

As First President of the Church of Christ, James received revelations and commandments for the church, provided Pastoral Letters to the church, was given visions from God, set the house of God in order, established the High Council, was given a safe gathering place for the saints, directed missionary work, translated ancient records, and maintained order according to the law of God.  The revelations and commandments which he received are the subject of the next chapter.  His Pastoral Letters to the church follow.

  Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter, December 25, 1845
Pastoral Letter, January 21, 1847
Pastoral Letter, February 3, 1848
Pastoral Letter, May 1, 1848.

Pastoral Letter, December 25, 1845

JAMES J. STRANG, a Prophet of the Most High God, and an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, unto the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

1. I am in continual remembrance of your past work in the upbuilding of the Kingdom of God and of the evils done at the hands of ungodly men, and I would that ye remain no longer ignorant of the refuge that God has appointed you, and follow not after any who usurp the authority of God in the Holy City.

2. Be not unmindful of the flock who know not the true Shepherd, but are following hirelings, among whom are grievous wolves, and they bleat like sheep by day and devour by night.  God be praised that some of you have escaped them.  I would that none of you go astray but that you all unitedly might follow after the true Shepherd:  lest coming short after escaping the first perils you enter not into your rest.

3. I beseech you, brethren, that you be not unmindful of the words of the Lord by the mouth of the prophet Joseph; that you be not deceived; that you receive not the teachings of any that come before you as revelations and commandments, except they come in at the gate and be ordained according to the command of God. (1835 D.C. 14:2; Utah D.C. 43:5‑7;  Reor. D.C. 43:2b)

4. I wist ye are not ignorant of the office and place of the prophet Joseph, that he was an Elder and an Apostle, (1835 D.C. 46:1; Utah D.C. 21:1; Reor. D.C. 19:1a.) a Prophet, Seer, Revelator and Translator, called to go before the church as Moses went before Israel . (1835 D.C. 3:42 ; Utah D.C. 107:91‑92; Reor. D.C. 104:42a‑b)

5. Suffer me in all patience to remind you of the law of the Lord which he revealed unto us aforetime that the place of the prophet Joseph should be fill­ed by another; (1835 D.C. 14:1‑2; 11:4 last clause; 51:2 last clause; 84:2; Utah D.C. 43:4; 35:18; 28:7; 90:4; Reor. D.C. 43:2a; 34:41; 27:ld; 87:2a); that the appointment of his successor is by revelation from God; (1835 D.C. 5:6; 11:4; Utah D.C. 102:9; 35:18; Reor. D.C. 99:6a; 34:4f); and that through Joseph only could that appointment be made. (1835 D.C. 14:2; 84:2; Utah D.C. 43:4; 90:4; Reor. D.C. 43:2a; 87:2a)

6. For it is said in one place that if his gift be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead; and in another place it is said, if he abide not in me another will I plant in his stead. And at the organization of the High Council of the church it was written that the President of the church, who is also President of the council, is appointed by revelation.  Finally it is said, I have given unto him the keys of mysteries and revelations which are sealed until I appoint unto them (the church) another in his stead.

7. By these testimonies and by many more it doth clearly appear that it was the duty of the prophet Joseph before his martyrdom to appoint another to fill his place when he should be removed.  If he has not done so then we have no evidence that he was a prophet for what he hath spoken hath not come to pass.

8. The only rational conclusion which any man can arrive at in view of these testimonies is that in the order of this church the Presidency, with its several gifts, offices, and duties, is perpetual. God having thus organized the church, and the power of the devil having accomplished the martyrdom of two of the chief of­ficers, will any saint teach that satan has changed the order of the church and abolished those offices which God instituted, and by the martyrdom of prophets established a new and better order?  I trust not.

9. I am well aware that Sidney Rigdon claimed his place above the Twelve, and that he sought to do some acts by virtue of his office as one of the First Presidency which were generally very much disapproved of, but though he had a perfect right to officiate in his place he had no right to place himself at the head of the church.

10. His office as an associate or member of the First Presidency does not constitute him a regular successor to Joseph Smith, the claim in his favor to suc­ceed as the highest surviving officer of the church, not being a claim of an ap­pointment of God by revelation through Joseph Smith to fill his place, which is the only form of appointment known to the law of God.

11. I am aware, also, that the Twelve claim in their first Apostolic letter after the death of Joseph (Letter of Brigham Young, Aug. 15, 1844, in the Times and Seasons of that date) to preside over and dictate all the affairs of the church in all the world. And they emphatically charge us, Let no man presume for a moment that his place (Joseph's) will be filled by another.  Thus they assumed to abolish the First Presidency of the church and usurp its duties to themselves.

12. This claim, however, is not only utterly unsupported by any one testimony, but is in many points directly contrary to the word of God.  The Twelve are a traveling and not a local or general, high council, and though they are required to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs thereof in all nations, they are to do so expressly under the direction of the Presidency of the church, agreeable to the institution of Heaven. (1835 D.C. 3:12 ; Utah D.C. 107:33; Reor. D.C. 104:12) They hold the keys of the opening of the gospel to the nations, (1835 D.C. 3:13 ; Utah D.C. 107:34; Reor. D.C. 104:13a), but the keys of mysteries and revelations belong to Joseph as First President, Prophet, Seer, and so forth, and to his successors regularly appointed by revela­tion through him. (1835 D.C. 5:6; 11:4; 14:1‑2; Utah D.C. 102:9‑11: 35:17‑18; 43:1‑7; Reor. D.C. 99:6a‑c: 34:4e‑f; 14:la‑2c).  The keys of the kingdom belong to Joseph, for time and eternity, but still with a regular succession as to the oracles or gift of receiving revelation for the church. (1835 D.C. 84:2; Utah D.C. 90:3‑5; Reor. D.C. 87:2a‑b)  The Melchizedek priesthood, by its presidency, holds the keys of ordinances and spiritual blessings.  (1835 D.C. 3:9 & 31; Utah D.C. 107:18‑19 & 60‑67; Reor. D.C. 104:9a‑b & 31b‑f) And in all these things the Twelve are without power, their duties being to open the preaching of the gospel.

13. Moreover, it cannot be that the Twelve should dictate all the affairs of the church in all the world, because they not only are under the direction of the First Presidency, but the high council is above them, and they are amenable to it. "The most important business of the church, and the most difficult cases of the church, in as much as there is not satisfaction upon the decision of the Bishop or Judges, it shall be handed over and carried up to the council of the church before the Presidency of the high priesthood; and the Presidency of the council of the high priesthood shall have power to call other high priests, even twelve, to assist as counselors; and thus the Presidency of the high priesthood and its counselors shall have power to decide upon testimony according to the laws of the church.  And after this decision it shall be had in remembrance no more before the Lord, for this is the highest council of the church of God , and a final decision upon controversies, in spiritual matters. (1835 D.C. 3:35 ; Utah D.C. 107:78‑80; Reor. D.C. 104:35a‑c)  There is not any person belonging to the church, who is exempt from this council of the church. (1835 D.C. 3:36 ; 5:13 ; Utah D.C. 107:81; 102:30‑32; Reor. D.C. 104:36; 99:13a‑b)

14. Upon what pretense is this claim of the Twelve founded?  Upon the trial of Sidney Rigdon, they took pains to state it as strongly as possible, and they make out no more than this, that when Joseph Smith was candidate for President of the United States, and knew by the Spirit that some great thing was to happen, but did not know what it was, he gave them an endowment of ordinances (not the oracles), and told them that on their shoulders would rest the responsibility. (See trial of S. Rigdon, Times and Seasons, Sept. 15, 1844, page 647, remarks of Orson Hyde).  These ordinances are intended for the whole church ‑ men, women and children.  Will they all have power to dictate all the affairs of the church in all the world then? If not, how do these ordinances give the Apostles that power now? If these ordinances gave certain power to some men, why not to others?

15. All the Twelve were not present and did not receive these ordinances.  Whence their claim of power?  Several persons, not of the Twelve, were present and received all these ordinances with such of the Twelve as were there.  Why are not they included in the favored number?  Joseph survived this meeting some months.  Why did not they find out that he had resigned his office and devolved its duties on them, till after he was dead? If his giving an endowment of ordinances, and rolling the responsibility of giving counsel, etc., upon some twenty‑five men with their wives, as he commenced a political career vacated his office and those of his counselors, and superseded the First Presidency and an entire quorum of the church, it is certainly most extraordinary.  A very moderate share of common sense, or any acquaintance whatever with the laws of the church, accompanied with integrity of heart, will reject so preposterous a claim at first blush.  The respon­sibility of leading the church by good counsel in proper order would devolve on a few of its most influential members, necessarily, whenever Joseph's attention was turned from them, by any means whatever, not in virtue of any offices they might hold, but as leading men.  Since the death of Joseph, they have used that responsibility to lead the church from the rock of revelation, out of the true order, and from the place of refuge God has appointed unto them.  Thus have a few led, sanctioned by the votes of Conferences instead of the voice of God, till the destruc­tion which not only lurks in midnight darkness, but stalks boldly at noonday, is upon them.

16. The Twelve have never, in any known publication, claimed, either for themselves or any one of their number, to be First President of the church, or President of the high priesthood.  Their claim is to supersede the First Presiden­cy, put the high council which God has made the highest council of the church, (1835 D.C. 3:35; Utah D.C. 107:78‑80; Reor. D.C. 104:35a‑c), below themselves, and put a bishop over it, where God placed a President, (1835 D.C. 3:9; Utah D.C. 107:18‑19; Reor. D.C. 104:9a‑b), and finally, that ex officio, as Apostles and not as Presidents of the high priesthood, they are to hold the keys and powers which devolved on the First Presidency and its counselors, and to discontinue the offices of Seer, Revelator and Translator in the church.

17. Nothing is more certain than that no law was made at the death of Joseph, or for some years previous, changing the order of the church, or abolishing any of its offices or quorums.  Down to the time of his death, it was properly understood by the whole of the church that he alone received revelations from God to be taught by way of commandment in the church; that he and his two associates in the Presidency had the chief administration of the affairs of the church, and that they, with the twelve high counselors, were a court or judicatory of final resort in all important cases, and that the Twelve Apostles were the chief travel­ing elders and under the direction of the Presidency.  And the man who, during the life‑time of Joseph, had said that the Twelve were at the head of the church, would have been looked upon either as a reckless and hair‑brained liar, or utterly insane.  To have held this then was unblushing apostacy.  To hold now that they are not so is equally apostacy with the leaders in Nauvoo.  Whence is the change?  In God or man?  Does truth thus belie itself?

18. Why should not the place of Joseph be filled by another?  Says Brigham Young, "Because he stands in his own place and always will." (Apostolic Let­ter, Aug. 15, 1844).  But in the same paragraph he also says the Twelve Apostles of this dispensation stand in their own places and always will.  Brother Young, will not their places be filled by others when they fill the measure of their days?  Then why was Brother Patten's place filled?  Again:  Who will be at the head of the church when the Twelve are all fallen asleep?  Will not the High Priests and the Seventies all hold their own places? If so, shall anyone succeed them?  Then where will the priesthood be when the present generation is dead?

19. But, says someone, God promised Joseph that the keys of the kingdom should never be taken from him in this world, neither in the world to come.  Very well.  They were never taken from Christ, but his holding them did not prevent Joseph, and in the eternal worlds all who are joint heirs with Jesus Christ will hold them at one and the same time.

20. Brethren, I exhort you as you look for the coming of the Lord Jesus, follow not after these blinding fables.  Set up no more the work of men's hand against the voice of God.  Trust not in your own wisdom to improve or alter the law of God.  You that have gone astray return to the order of God's house.  Let all the quorums take their proper order as God has established them.  Let the Presi­dent who has wandered in darkness return to his proper place which God gave, nor covet that which men may offer.  Let the Twelve take their place as a travel­ing high council with the keys of the opening of the gospel to the nations. Let the high counselors give counsel and assistance to the Presidency, which has been called to the high and responsible calling of leading the church to peace and hap­piness and preparing a people for the coming of the Son of God.  Let the high priests teach the law of God unto the people.  Let all the elders learn not to put their faith in some great man and say all is well, but let them buckle on the whole armor of God and stand up, bold defenders of truth, rather than men.

21. Now in my weakness and in the infancy of my ministry I call upon you to assist me.  It hath pleased God to put it into the heart of Joseph to appoint me to receive mysteries and revelations unto this church.  And he has been faithful unto the vision and voice of God by sending me his epistle containing the revela­tion which God gave him, the Lord God confirming the same by sending his angels unto me to charge me with this ministry in the same hour that Joseph was taken away, and by witnessing the same to the brethren in those wonderful works which the brethren here are ready to testify unto you.

22. Let not my call to you be in vain.  The destroyer has gone forth among you and has prevailed.  You are preparing to resign country and houses and lands to him.  Many of you are about to leave the haunts of civilization and of men to go into an unexplored wilderness among savages, and in trackless deserts, to seek a home in the wilds where the foot‑print of the white man is not found.  The voice of God has not called you to this.  His promise has not gone before to prepare a habitation for you.  The hearts of the Lamanites are not turned unto you, and they will not regard you.  When the herd comes the savages shall pursue.  The cloud which surrounds by day shall bewilder, and the pillar of fire by night shall consume and reveal you to the destroyer; and the men in whom you trusted when you rejected the promises of God shall leave you early and not be found of you in your greatest need.

23. Let the oppressed flee for safety unto Voree, and let the gathering of the people be there.  Let the evil who have gone to the holy city be rejected and given to the law.  Let the Twelve go out and preach the gospel to the nations ac­cording to the command of God, instead of staying at home as a prominent mark to bring cruel enemies on their brethren.  Let the filth of Zion be cleansed and her garments of peace put on.  Let neither gun nor sword be lifted in defiance, nor rest be taken upon the arm of flesh, and the city of our God shall be saved and the Temple of his holiness be unpolluted by the hand of the Gentile.

24. Causeless the curse has not come, and causeless it shall not fall.  They that ask justice let them do it.  They that cry out against mobs let them abstain from violence.  Those who hate persecution let them regard the rights of others.

They that preach God and the gospel let them remember the Law and forget not the order which he has revealed and their own mouths have proclaimed.  Let them not buffet others for changing the ordinances and breaking the everlasting cove­nant unless they themselves will abide the word of God.

JAMES J. STRANG.
  
December 25, 1845 .
  

  Pastoral Letter, January 21, 1847

From James J. Strang, a Prophet of the Most High God, and First President of the Church of Jesus Christ, to all them that believe in God and obey his law throughout the world.

1. God, who created the earth in days of old, and holdeth it in his hand at the present moment, who taught the fathers, and spoke to the children of men by prophets and apostles; who hath in the last days lifted up his hand to redeem the earth as well as the children of men having in his good pleasure and abundant grace called me to the service of the sanctuary, and the ministry of the new and everlasting covenant, and revealed to me many and glorious things pertaining to the dispensation of the fulness of times, I feel constrained by his spirit to speak to you of the things that God hath shown me, and especially to put you in remem­brance of his law and his precepts; desiring that you should become wise in all that God hath revealed, and be made perfect by his word.

2. Blessed and happy are all those who, being reconciled unto God and to his word, and delivered from the dominion of sin and Satan, by obedience to the law of the gospel, remain and abide therein, pressing on towards the fountain of all light and all truth; never content to stop till they become perfect as God our Father is perfect.  Such is the high privilege offered to the true disciple of Christ in the covenant which God hath made, and which shall never be broken.  In this covenant all the living members of the Church may be bound to one another in the unity of the spirit, and supplied with zeal and strength and courage to do the will of our Heavenly Father.

3. I desire, therefore, that all the saints, individually, may participate in the bonds of union, the fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, and may not rest satisfied, without knowing for yourselves the things that pertain to the kingdom of God, and that you be no longer conformed to the world, but transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the renewing of your minds, and turned from darkness to light.  Wait for and patiently receive the word of God, which shall be as a shining light unto you; then will you be enabled to see and to walk in the path of duty.

4. I charge you that you steadfastly seek to commend your profession of faith by keeping ALL THE COMMANDMENTS of God, and truly following him who was meek and lowly in heart.  In the exercise of a tender and enlightened conscience, maintain an upright testimony to the purity and intellectuality of his religion, though it be through suffering.  Be careful, that neither for the sake of worldly reputation, from a love of ease, nor from a fear of being plundered of your possessions, you incur the condemnation conveyed in the words, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not up his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me."

5. Neglect not the assembling of yourselves together.  Be diligent in public instruction; and put off all slothfulness in family devotions and secret prayer.  Subject yourselves frequently to an honest self examination in the light of God's word, remembering that God's law by which he judges both the living and the dead is a law of perfect truth, and admits of no concealment.  If you are hereby made sensible of manifold transgressions, and of cause for humiliation, you will value more highly the principles and the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will rejoice exceedingly that the shepherd and bishop of our souls speaketh unto God, and is a minister and an high priest in HIS tabernacle, by an everlasting and unchanging priesthood, made not without an oath.

6. In the present state of society, with the strong disposition generally manifested to speak evil of and persecute the saints, it is especially incumbent upon all to carefully watch their varied engagements in life.  In conducting your pecuniary affairs whether in agriculture or trade, or as professional men, and in the investment of your property scrupulously avoid doing anything that may compromise your Christian testimonies, or lessen their force on the minds of unbelievers.  Maintain plain dealing and strict integrity with all men, treating them with respect and courtesy, and at the same time showing that your first concern is to lay up treasure in heaven.  It is especially incumbent on you that you enter not upon the manufacture of, or trade in intoxicating liquors, or other things us­ed principally for immoral or vicious purposes, and that you obtain no inheritances, except at places where God has called the saints together; for where your treasure is there will your hearts be; and if ye neglect these sayings the day of your redemp­tion approacheth not.

7. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God."  Therefore in fulfill­ing your duties as citizens, be cautious how you seize on any occasion which may occur to serve the public in a civil capacity as a public officer.  Forget not that your being thus engaged may bring, not only the eyes, but possibly the indignation and hatred of the unconverted upon you.  When I consider the seduc­tive influences of popularity, and the self‑satisfaction consequent upon successful efforts of the intellectual powers, even in a good cause, I feel bound with affec­tionate earnestness to warn you against taking an undue part in the many exciting movements of the present day.  It is our duty to aid, as far as in us lies, in lessen­ing the amount of vice, ignorance and misery; but be especially watchful that you do not engage in any such work MERELY for applause and public notice, lest thereby you mar the work of God in your hearts, interfere with your duties in the church, and bring down on yourself and brethren that spirit of persecution which a less prominent station might avoid.

8. Still more earnestly do I warn and admonish you against taking part in the wars and fightings of the nations of the earth.  In the present war between the United States and Mexico, where our own country is pursuing successful con­quest of an enemy, at whose hand she has suffered many injuries, long unredressed, the occasion may seem to justify a belligerent position; but it should not be forgot­ten that God has not decreed the war, and its conquests are still but added to the stronger of the oppressive.  In THIS NATION SAINTS are PERSECUTED and SLAIN, and all manner of evil is spoken against them for righteousness sake.  They have been robbed and plundered, and the powers that be have winked at it.  They have been exiled from an entire state.  Their complaints were laid at the feet of the judge, and he would not hear them; then they laid them at the feet of the governor, and he refused them redress; finally the Prophet Joseph, his Counsellor Sidney, and Gen. Robert D. Foster, an high priest, went to Washington, and laid their complaints at the feet of the President, and in the halls of Congress, and were told that THEY could do nothing for them.  There they bore a FAITHFUL TESTIMONY, and have become witnesses at the judgment seat of God, who hath sworn that he will "vex the nation."  So though God uses this nation to chastise the Mexicans for all their wickedness and their high‑handed oppressions of the seed of Joseph (as he used Babylon to chastise Israel in days of old) yet the people whom they conquer shall be as poison in the veins of the nation, and the spoils of conquest shall be the seed of future wars; apparent suc­cess shall end in destruction unless they make speed to put off their own sins.  Since this faithful testimony was borne the prophet has been slain for the testimony which he bore, in a public prison, in charge of public officers, and no effort has been made to bring the murderers to justice.  Beneath the alter of God he cries continually, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth." And in the END of their probation, God is waiting on the nation that they may "turn unto him, and REPENT of all their evil deeds; and no more slay the prophets, but hearken unto them;" and if they do it not, his fierce anger shall fall upon them and all that are joined with them.  Therefore as you give your testimonies against wars and fightings see that you engage not in them, and suffer a curse with those that make them.

9. It is meet also that the Saints shall not mix up in the turmoil of politics.  It is preferable that you take no part even in elections in ordinary cases, leaving all such matters to others.  But while you thus leave both the making and the ad­ministration of the laws to others, scrupulously avoid breaking them; "for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land; wherefore be subject to the powers that be, until He reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet. Behold the laws which ye have received from my hand, are the laws of the church; and in this light ye shall hold them forth. Behold here is wisdom." 1835 D.C. 18:5 or Utah D.C. 58:21.

10. Finally, brethren, give no heed to backbiters and tale bearers, especially those who are accusers of their brethren.  But remembering that as there have been apostates, false teachers, and those who bear false witness and speak evil of things they understand not in all ages of the world, so there shall be until the coming of Christ in flaming fire to take vengeance on all who know not God.

11. Be steadfast in every good work, not driven about by every rumor.  The grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  Accept this sincere greeting and testimony from your fellow servant.

JAMES J. STRANG
   
(Zion's Reveille, 2:2:7, January 21, 1847, p. 59)

  Pastoral Letter, February 3, 1848

JAMES J. STRANG. An Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a Prophet of Almighty God, to the Churches in all the world, and to all the Saints scattered abroad, greeting:--

1. For as much as it hath pleased God to reserve unto himself a people to serve him in these times, when the whole world is sunk in wickedness, and the fullness of the Gentiles is very nearly come in, and the time is near that God will pour out his wrath on them without pleasure, it behooves us that we commune oft with one another, and communicate spiritual treasures, such as God bestows upon us: and especially that we gather together and strengthen one another’s hand, lest we be overcome of Satan and perish in the destruction of the ungodly.  I am more impressed to address you now, because when iniquity is pouring forth among the Gentiles without measure the church has not altogether escaped from the inevitable consequence of too great a conformity to the world: except so far as influenced and changed by gospel principles, mankind are much the same in all countries and all ages.  And if we do not PRACTICALLY conform to gospel principles, their influence is lost on us.  Though men may subscribe to and teach gospel principles all their lives, yet unless they conform thereto in the transaction of our common intercourse with men their influence will be directly lost upon us.  And the same consequence which has fallen upon the Gentile world in consequence of their corrupt systems, will also befall the saints if they con­tinue therein.  Of this truth the history of the last few years has furnished us many sad examples.

2. There has been much speculation among men as to the cause of the great falling away in the church during the last four years.  It has been attributed to a great variety of different causes, none of which are sufficient to produce so general corruption and such wide spread ruin.  But there is one unnamed cause, abundantly equal to the production of such results, which remains to this day, still active and doing its work.  So long as the saints conform in all things to Gentile usages and customs, so long they must expect to share the fate of those they thus imitate.  And the poverty, suffering and sin which are wide spread throughout the earth, as the consequence of speculation, swindling and the most unblushing oppression of the poor and needy, cannot be escaped among the saints while they do these things.  Let us now try to make our religion a reality.  The time has come that the saints must practice their religion and profess their faith, and he that will not do it will be cut off from them.  The same causes under like circumstances cannot fail to produce like effects. And as the Gentile social system has produced poverty, want and crime in all the world, in the face of the greatest improvements in the science of agriculture and the mechanic arts, so that in coun­tries where machinery, steam and water do the work of millions of men there is a real want of both food and clothing, we cannot flatter ourselves that while we pursue the same course we can escape a still greater amount of suffering, beginning in poverty, as most of us do.

3. I have been constrained by the most obvious signs of the times to look over the world and see if there was anything in the state of the nations to justify the oft repeated assertion that the Lord delayeth His coming.  Again, I have turned my thoughts inwardly, to contemplate the things which God has revealed relative to these days: and as the servant of God set upon the walls of Zion to watch, I admonish you to come out of Babylon and separate yourselves from her uncleanness.  For the day of God's wrath upon her is near, and the time is at hand when his vengeance will be poured out.

4. The earth presents to us a most unhappy picture.  The United States is engaged in a most bloody war against the most powerful sister republic which she has on the earth.  This war she has waged without the authority of God, and for causes very far from commensurate to the blood she has shed or the misery she has inflicted.  And passing by the nature of the cause (for I will not pretend that this war is causeless) there is good reason, from what God has said, to believe that the greatest portion of its evils will fall on those who have waged it.  In the period of less that two years that has elapsed since its commencement, with the very small force engaged, the loss of life has been not less than ten thousand Americans, and probably three times that number of Mexicans.  And the hatred, blood‑thirstiness, and passion for violence it is engendering, will remain through generations to come, the consequences of men's corruptions and the instruments of God's wrath upon the nations.  Whatever may be the future fate of Mexico , she is practically denationalized.  Yet every object professedly sought by the war is further off than at the beginning.  Unceasing hostility and the desolation and waste of cities, towns and provinces will follow thick in the future history of the daughter of Babylon, and pestilence and famine will soon commence their work, as they have already in the old world.

5. So, too, though Europe is not convulsed with any general war, the elements of disorder and destruction are everywhere active.  The British Empire , which has by her policy and arms for a long time held sway throughout the earth, is just beginning to crumble to dust.  A little territory of the extent of a small State, she has extended her dominion throughout the sea and to the four quarters of the earth.  The sun never sets on her empire.  The reveille on her legions beats time to the hours as the earth rolls round.  The terror of her arms has carried desolation into every country on the face of the earth, and the bones of her sons who have fallen in her wars lie bleaching in the sun forever.  So omnipresent has been her power that neither wilderness, mountain or island sufficed to hide the refugee from the emissaries of her oppression.  The very name of Britain has become a terror to the most secluded and savage tribes.  And with a mechanical power in actual use equal to the labor of one half the human race, the fifteen or sixteen millions of inhabitants of England are now in a state of destitution bordering on starvation.  A majority of the people are real paupers, dependent on public and private charities for the bread that preserves life.  And with the immense wealth and power of the nation, it has not the ability to furnish bread to fill the mouths of starvation.

6. France , Germany, Poland, Hungary and provinces of other countries of Europe have suffered for want of food.  And this not because there is any lack of men to work the lands, not because there is a lack of skill or any indisposition to work, but because the established order of things makes some men drones and others swindlers: and the habit of individual spunging and swindling induces those habits in nations.  And the loss of that fellow‑feeling among men which is necessary to heartily loving our neighbors as ourselves and doing as we would be done by is so general and pervasive in its influence, that few men ever think of consulting the interest and general good of mankind in any of their undertakings or avocations.  And the man whose entire income is derived from the labors of others, without making any real return, and, consequently, who in a moral religious view lives by mere swindling and robbery, is no less respected in society than those who are engaged in producing that which is necessary for the use of man.

7. Such are the consequences of the Gentile social system, under the most favorable circumstances.  The examples I have named can be found in kind wherever man is, differing only in degree as the system has been more or less expanded.  So entirely have they carried out the system of setting man against man, that the very commandment "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" has been struck out of the decalogue, and men have forgotten that God has engraved it on stone as a perpetual memorial against this ungodly generation.  The selfishness engendered in all the intercourse of men is the fruitful cause of national wars and individual sufferings.  The affairs of men have been so regulated, and the institutions established among them are of such kind and nature as to set man against his fellow man, and make it the interest of everyone to injure others.  While the interest of man is sought in the injury of his neighbor, it is vain to hope that men will do to others as they would that others should do to them.  And though we may go forth proclaiming gospel brotherhood and gospel equality from year to year, yet so long as we practice on the same system which has produced all these evils among the Gentiles, so long we must suffer them among ourselves.  It is vain to talk about or to hope for the fullness of the spirit of God, or the establishment of His kingdom, if we will not make our religion a practical reality, by doing the things we teach.

8. The doctrine of the equality of the saints in their temporal things was taught in the beginning of the church. Such an equality has been the hope of the poor and the virtuous from the commencement of the gathering.  As early as January, 1831, the word of the Lord came by His prophet showing by parable the justice of equality among the children of the kingdom; (1835 D.C. 12:5; Utah D.C. 38:21-26; Reor. D.C. 38:5) and adds "BE ONE: if ye are not one, ye are NONE OF MINE."  A most thrilling ad­monition is also given that the cry of the poor has ascended up to God, (id. 4.) and that the enemy in secret chambers sought their lives, and inconsequence thereof the Lord said, "ye hear of wars in far countries, and ye say there will soon be wars in far countries, but ye know not the hearts of them in your OWN LAND; wherefore treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men REVEAL these things to you WITH A VOICE LOUDER than that which SHALL SHAKE THE EARTH.'' (1835 D.C. 12:4-6; Utah D.C. 38:13-30; Reor. D.C. 38:4-6)

9. This revelation by the wickedness of wicked men has been made so often, that the saints ought now to seek to obey God rather than to follow their own devices.  As the saints learned not wisdom by what they heard, will they also refuse to learn by what they suffer?  When God requires us to make any sacrifice to His cause, He requires a willing sacrifice.  But if we give not willingly, He will not suffer us to possess what He requires.  When the church went up to Missouri they went under a special command to consecrate their property, that all might be made equal.  This command was never kept: yet they did not keep that which they refused to consecrate.  Because the rich refused to make the poor rich with them, their enemies made them poor with the poor.  Together were they driven out in destitution.  From that time to this they have been driven from city to city, and from country to country: constantly going out robbed and plundered of that which they have greedily kept back from the Lord.  Saints, will you that these things shall always be?

10. In February, 1831, less than one year after the organization of the church, a command was given that the saints consecrate their property for the poor, by a deed which could not be broken: receiving their inheritances according to their several wants, and requiring them to put all their surplus pro­duction from time to time into a common storehouse, and receive supplies of what they lack from it. (1835 D.C. 13:8 & 10‑12; Utah D.C. 42:29-36 & 40-47; Reor. D.C. 42:8 & 10-12)

In May, 1831, those who had so consecrated their substances, are commanded to organize themselves that they may be alike and RECEIVE ALIKE, and have a common storehouse. (1835 D.C. 23:2; Utah D.C. 52:7-9; Reor. D.C. 51:2)

In August, the same year, Martin Harris and all who were going up to Zion were commanded to make this consecration, to purchase lands in Zion for the saints. (1835 D.C. 18:6. 7 & 10-12; Utah D.C. 58:2-1-37 & 49-56; Reor. D.C. 58:6.7 & 10-12).

In November, of the same year, the Lord said, "in your TEMPORAL THINGS you SHALL BE EQUAL, and this NOT GRUDGINGLY, otherwise the abundance of' the manifestations of the SPIRIT shall be withheld.  Now this commandment I give unto my servants for their benefit while they remain, for a manifestation of my bless­ings on their heads, and for a reward of their diligence; and for their SECURITY for FOOD and for RAIMENT, for an INHERITANCE; for HOUSES and for LANDS, in whatsoever circumstances I the Lord shall place them, and withersoever I the Lord shall send them." (1835 D. C. 26:3, 4; Utah D.C. 70:9-18; Reor. D.C. 70:3, 4).

11. In the succeeding years the ancient order established by revelation of God in the antediluvian world was again revealed as the order of the church for an EVERLASTING ORDER, and with many other precepts and commandments the following were received:‑-

12. (1835 D.C. 75:1-3; Utah D.C. 78:1-16; Reor. D.C. 77:1-3)  "Verily I say unto you, the time has come, and is now at hand, and behold, and lo, it must needs be that there be an organization of My people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse for the poor of My people, both in this place and in the land of Zion, or in other words, the city of Enoch, for a permanent and everlasting establishment and order unto My church, to advance the cause which ye have espoused, to the salvation of man, and to the glory of your Father who is in heaven, that you may be equal in the bands of heavenly things, yea and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things; for if ye are not equal in earthly things, ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things: for if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.

13. "And now, verily thus saith the Lord, it is expedient that all things be done unto My glory; wherefore a commandment I give unto you, to prepare and organize yourselves by a bond or everlasting covenant that cannot be broken.

14. "And he who breaketh it shall lose his office and standing in the church, and shall be delivered over to the buffetings of satan until the day of redemption.  Behold this is the preparation wherewith I prepare you, and the foundation, and the ensample, which I give unto you whereby you may accomplish the command­ments which are given you, that 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."

15. (1835 D.C. 86:4, 5; Utah D.C. 82:11-21; Reor. D. C. 81:4, 5)  "It is expedient for My servant Alam and Ahashdah, Mahalaleel and Pelagoram, and My servant Gazelam, and Horah, and Olihah, and Shalemanasseh, and Mehemson, to be bound together by a bond and covenant that cannot be broken by transgression except judgment shall immediately follow, in your several stewardships, to manage the affairs of the poor, and all things pertaining to the bishopric both in the land of Zion, and in the land of Shinehah; therefore I give unto you this commandment, that ye bind yourselves by this covenant, and it shall be done according to the laws of the Lord.  Behold here is wisdom, also, in Me, for your good.  And you are to be EQUAL or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your steward­ships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just: and all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents: yea, even a hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord's storehouse, to become the COMMON PROPERTY of the whole church, every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God."

16. "This order I have appointed to be an everlasting order unto you and unto your successors. inasmuch as you sin not."

17. (1835 D.C. 98:1‑-3 & 10-12; Utah D.C. 104:1-23 & 54-77; Reor. D.C. 101:1-3 & 10-12)  "Verily I say unto you My friends.  I give unto you counsel and a command­ment, concerning all the properties which belong to the order, which I commanded to be organized and established, to be a united order, and an everlasting order for the benefit of my church, and for the salvation of men until I come, with promise immutable and unchangeable, that inasmuch as those whom I commanded were faithful, they should be blessed with a multiplicity of blessings: but inasmuch as they were not faithful, they were nigh unto cursing.  Therefore inasmuch as some of my servants have not kept the commandment, but have broken the cove­nant, by covetousness and with feigned words, I have cursed them with a very sore and grievous curse: for I the Lord have decreed in my heart, that inasmuch as any man, belonging to the order, shall be found a transgressor: or, in other wards, shall break the covenant with which ye are bound, he shall be cursed in his life, and shall be trodden down by whom I will.

18. "A commandment I give unto you, that ye shall organize yourselves, and appoint every man his stewardship, that every man may give an account unto Me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him: for it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as stewards over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.  I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and builded the earth as a very handy work: and ALL things therein are MINE: and it is my purpose to PROVIDE for my SAINTS for ALL THINGS ARE MINE: but it must needs be done in mine own way: and behold this is the way, that I the Lord have decreed to provide for my saints: that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made LOW; for the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare, yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.  Therefore if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor, and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.

19. "Let all things be done according to counsel of the order, and united consent, or VOICE of the ORDER.

20. "And again, a commandment I give unto you concerning your steward­ship which I have appointed unto you: behold ALL THESE PROPERTIES ARE MINE, or else your faith is vain, and ye are found hypocrites, and the covenants which ye have made unto me are broken: and if the PROPERTIES are MINE then ye are STEWARDS, otherwise ye are no STEWARDS.  But verily I say unto you, I have appointed unto you to be stewards over mine house, even stewards indeed: and for this purpose I have commanded you to organize yourselves, even to shinelah, (write or publish,) my words, the fullness of my scriptures, the revelations which I have given unto you, and which I shall hereafter, from time to time, give unto you, for the purpose of building up My church and kingdom on the earth, and to prepare My people for the time when I shall dwell with them, which is nigh at hand.

21. "And ye shall prepare for yourselves a place for a treasury, and con­secrate it unto My name; and ye shall appoint one among you to keep the treasury, and he shall be ordained unto this blessing; and there shall be a seal upon the treasury, and all the sacred things shall be delivered into the treasury, and no man among you shall call it HIS OWN, or any PART of it, for it shall belong to YOU ALL with ONE ACCORD; and I give it unto you from this very hour: and now see to it, that ye go to and make use of the stewardship which I have appointed unto you, exclusive of the sacred things, for the purpose of shinelane, (writing or publishing,) these sacred things, as I have said: and the avails of the sacred things shall be had in the treasury, and a seal shall be upon it, and it shall not be used or taken out of the treasury by any one, neither shall the seal be loosed which shall be placed upon it, only by the voice of the order, or by command.

22. "And again, there shall be another treasury prepared and a treasurer appointed to keep the treasury, and a seal shall be placed upon it; and all moneys that you receive in your stewardships, by improving upon the properties which I have appointed unto you, in houses or in lands, or in cattle, or in all things save it be the holy and sacred writings, which I have reserved unto Myself for holy and sacred purposes, shall be cast into the treasury as fast as you receive moneys by hundreds, or by fifties, or by twenties, or by tens, or by fives; and let not ANY MAN among you say that it is HIS OWN, for it shall not be CALLED HIS, nor any part of it; and there shall not any part of it be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by the VOICE and COMMON CONSENT of the ORDER."

23. These commandments, though they are more perfect in system than any other whereas recorded, contain no other doctrine than what has always been taught by the gospel and the Melchizedek priesthood.  Before Israel went in Egypt each patriarch was the head of a house, consisting in some instances of many thousands of persons, all holding one common estate and inheritance, in the use of which they enjoyed equal benefits.  The family of Job could not have been less than 10,000 souls: that of Melchizedek was doubtless larger, and Abraham's probably numbered 4,000, ALL HEIRS WITH HIM of the promise of the land of Canaan for a perpetual inheritance. Gen. 17:7-13.  Israel , when they entered into the land of Canaan , received their inheritances by families, not by individuals, and usually each family received a city and the country around extending half way to the next city for its possession.  During the ministry of Christ, He and the chief of His disciples had no separate property, but Judas, one of the twelve, was treasurer and purveyor for the whole.  And though doubtless some individual disciples retained their estates, yet when a certain rich young man came inquiring what he should do to inherit eternal life, Christ told him to "sell what he had and give to the poor," and follow him. Matt. 19:21.  And about a year after the crucifixion of Christ, when the church was receiving great accessions, "the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own: but they had ALL THINGS COMMON: neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of houses or lands, sold them and brought the price of the things that were sold and laid them at the Apostles' feet: and distribution was made to every man according as he had need." Acts 4:32 , 34, 35.

24. Finally, it pleased the Lord, when he chose me to be the shepherd of the flock, as he chose David to be king of Israel, not from among princes and rulers, but from the field, to show me still more clearly by many visions and revelations the true order for establishing judgment and justice, exalting the poor and delivering the needy.  The work was once begun both in Kirtland and Zion , but failed by means of a multitude of transgressions.  And from that time till this the church has not ceased to be scourged by her enemies, nor will she until she obeys this commandment.  So general was the feeling in favor of the common stock and equality at the time the church was finally driven from Missouri , that Joseph wrote from prison to prevent it, telling them that though the principle was correct they had no authority to do the act, and must wait until God gave commandment.  In His wisdom He has withheld the commandment till the great falling away is past.

25. The time has now come.  The command went forth in July, 1846. (See Voree Herald, No. 7.)  The work is begun, and everything is ready for those who will come up to the help of the Lord, against those who have trodden down his children and had no compassion on the needy and the oppressed.  The organization (including children) now consists of sixty persons, and applications for admis­sion are being constantly received.  The entire system is founded on UNION , EQUALITY, and a strict regard to the LAW of GOD and the DISCIPLINE of the CHURCH. The association owns a farm of five hundred and sixty acres of land, four hundred acres of which might be cropped the coming season, and consider­ing soil, water, salubrity and location, probably the very best in Wisconsin: several good stone buildings, a valuable water power and a property in all worth not less than $11,000, on which they owe debts a very little over three thousand. This property lies in, and in the immediate vicinity of Voree, is beautifully located, very productive and entirely healthy.

26. This we offer to the saints as the home of the poor and the asylum of the oppressed.  Here we propose to share each others joys, and each others sorrows; each others toils, and each others possessions: and to teach mankind that LOVE and TRUTH WINS WITH peace and sweetness, what FORCE and FRAUD labors in vain to COMPEL.  Here we intend to gather a COMMUNITY WHO SHALL BE EQUAL IN THEIR TEMPORAL THINGS: WHO SHALL DO TO OTHERS AS THEY WOULD BE DONE BY: AND WHO SHALL LOVE THEIR NEIGHBORS AS THEMSELVES.  HERE SALVATION SHALL BE PRESENT, and the GOSPEL A PRACTICED REALITY.  HERE PEACE SHALL REIGN.

27. The Lord and His saints say come.  Let him that heareth say come.  He that is poor and needy, let him come.  Yea, come buy food, raiment and habitation, a perpetual inheritance in Zion , without money and without price.  And whosoever will, let him come and possess the land with us freely.

JAMES J. STRANG.
    (Gospel Herald, 2:221, Feb. 3, 1848, p. 273)

  Pastoral Letter, May 1, 1848 .

The True Shepherd to the Saints Emigrating from Great Britain and Ireland to America‑-Greeting.

1. God, who in days of old spoke on divers occasions and in many ways to the house of Israel by the prophets, and afterwards to all the earth by his son, whom he made ruler over all things, last of all in these days restored the gospel to the earth by the ministry of angels, and the priesthood which he conferred on the prophet Joseph by their hands; and has thereby established a church by an everlasting and unchanging order, conferring upon that priesthood the keys of the kingdom of God, and of the rest which he has reserved to the saints, and of everlasting righteousness.

2. Apostles, High Priests, and Elders have received from the highest authori­ty of this priesthood mission and commandments to visit you, and in the name of the God of all the earth to preach the gospel unto you, and have, in virtue of the jurisdiction thus obtained, taught you the law of the gospel, and inducted you into the household of faith. From the first proclamation of the gospel in Great Britain you were taught that God spoke now, as in days of old, by the mouth of prophets, and that a priesthood elected and chosen by KINGS, MAGISTRATES, or PEOPLE, was unauthorized, and its administrations would not avail to salva­tion.  Truly have they cried out to you that all your administrations by a man­made priesthood, whether they be Catholics, Episcopalians, or Protestants were vain, and but a mockery of God's ordinances.  And that unless men are truly call­ed by revelation of God, and set apart to the ministry by the hands of those who were thus called and set apart, they cannot act as ministers and priests of the true church.

3. I rejoice that so many of you have received these truths, and laid hold on salvation.  And it would be serious cause of grief, if, after all the buffetings and persecutions you have endured for receiving the faith, and the perils you have passed through in coming to this country, you should still throw yourselves under the authority of a mere MAN‑MADE priesthood, and trust your salvation to the administrations of men merely elected by the people.  Joseph, our martyred pro­phet, became a prophet and the first and presiding elder of the church of God by revelation of God and the ordination of angels. (1835 D.C. 14:2; 1:4; Utah D.C. 43:4-7; 1:19 ; Reor. D.C. 43: 2a-c; 1:4c) And what authority and ceremonies it took to make him a prophet and the first and presiding elder, the same authority and ceremonies it would also take to con­fer the same office and priesthood on anyone to stand in his place.

4. As much as has been said on this subject, and little to the purpose, I beg leave to call to your minds particularly the principles involved in the ordination of a prophet to stand at the head of a dispensation.  When Moses received the dispensation of Israel, Jethro, and probably many others, were priests of the true God.  But as Moses was called to a higher authority than any of them possessed, the Lord himself spoke to Moses to give him the authority; and though we are not expressly told that he was ordained by the hand of angels, yet we are plainly told that the angel of the Lord appeared to him, and are left to infer that he ap­peared for some rational purpose. Ex. 3:1-12.

5. When Christ received the dispensation of the gospel, though he found John the Baptist, a priest after the order of Aaron, yet he could not receive the priesthood from him, but had a dispensation and a higher priesthood immediate­ly from God, who made him a high priest by his oath.  For when John baptized him, the voice of God was heard, saying, "This is my Son, hear ye him;" and a messenger from heaven descended on his head and designated him as the Messiah.  So likewise, when the dispensation of the fullness of times was com­mitted to Joseph, God not only spoke to him and gave him commandments by his voice, and sent also his angels to ordain him to the priesthood which they also had before held. (1835 D.C. 50:2-3; Utah D.C. 27:8 & 12; Reor. D.C. 26:2d & 3a)

6. When Moses failed to make Israel a nation of priests unto God, and brought them in under the law of curse, making one tribe only priests to all the rest, and God saw fit to take away the most holy priesthood, Moses, by revela­tion of God, ordained Joshua to an inferior species of priesthood.  So Christ, when he was rejected as the Messiah, the king of the Jews, and the offer of deliverance to Israel was withdrawn, conferred on Peter the keys of the dispensation, with the power of binding and loosing both on earth and in heaven, and of remitting and retaining sins.  In each of these cases the authority conferred was less than that of him who conferred it.  Two persons could not stand at the same time holding the authority which God conferred on Moses.  Consequently Moses could not or­dain anyone to it.  But he put part of his honor on Joshua.  Two persons could not stand at the same time having the authority of Christ, as king of Israel and head of the gospel dispensation.  Consequently Christ did not ordain Peter to the same authority which he held, but to a less. (John 21:15-17.)

7. Likewise, two persons cannot stand at the head of the dispensation of the fullness of times, holding the keys of mysteries, revelations, and command­ments, and consequently Joseph could not in any way ordain or bring anyone into his authority, but the act of God is necessary to consummate such priesthood.  In other words, it requires the same power and the same ordinances to confer that priesthood on the successor to Joseph as it required to confer it on Joseph. And as Joseph was called by revelation, and ordained by angels, so must his suc­cessor be. (1835 D.C. 5:6; 11:4; 14:1-2; 50:2-3; 51:2; Utah D.C. 102:9; 35:18; 43:1-7; 27:8 & 12; 28:2-7; Reor. D.C. 99:6a; 34:4f; 43:la-2c; 26:2d & 3a; 27:2a-d)  And, as Joseph was established as the Prophet, Seer and Revelator, it was necessary that the revelation appointing his successor should come through him, because the church are forbidden to receive revelations and commandments from others.  And, as this is established as a positive law, no instances are necessary to justify it; but if any were wanting, they might be found in the case of Samuel and Elisha.  Samuel succeeded Eli, who fell by wickedness, and the Lord reveal­ed to Eli, and then to Samuel, that Samuel should stand as prophet in his stead. (1 Samuel 3rd Ch.).  Elisha succeeded Elijah as a prophet.  Elijah abode faithful to God in all things, but many years before he was translated, God had, through him, chosen Elisha to be his successor. (1 Kings 19:16 )  Yet, after he was translated to the chariot of the Lord, and ceased to be of the earth, he conferred that priesthood on Elisha, which he alone held while he ministered among men. (2 Kings, 2:9-15.)

8. Joseph, if he had abided in God in all things, would have stood on the earth and at the head of the dispensation at the coming of Christ.  When Christ sent forth the fullness of the gospel by him, it was with promise that if Joseph abided in him, the keys of mysteries and revelations (which pertain to earth and not to heaven) should not be taken from him till Christ came.  In February, 1831, a new promise was made that if Joseph did not stand, whether taken away or being rejected, he should appoint another in his stead; but with this distinction: that if his priesthood was taken from him he should only have power to appoint another; but if God took him (which he did June 27th, 1844), there was no limit or cutting short of his priesthood while he remained.  In 1833, as Joseph had not abided in Christ perfectly, but had committed sin, God said he should give the oracles to another, to the end that they might remain in the church as before.  But as Joseph had repented of his sins, God also accepted his offering, and seal­ed him up to everlasting life by promising him the keys of the kingdom in this world and the world to come. (1835 D.C. 84:2; Utah D.C. 90:4; Reor. D.C. 87:2a) This promise was sure and unconditional; but it was less than the former pro­mise, which was of life everlasting without seeing death.  For if he held the keys of mysteries and revelations until Christ came, he would, at the head of all the saints, ascend on high to dwell with him.

9. So, likewise, no one can be elected to the place which Joseph held, for that would both be contrary to first principles, which require as much authority to place any other in that priesthood as it took to confer it on Joseph, but also contrary to the law which says his gift shall not be conferred on any other except it be through him, (Joseph).  But even conceding that one might be elected to stand as First President and prophet, the question returns, by whom shall he be ordain­ed?  Not by Apostles, High Priests, or Elders, for all are below him in priesthood, and none can confer higher authority than he possesses.  None can ordain to a higher priesthood than he holds.  Elders cannot confer the high priesthood, and apostles cannot make prophets with the keys of the dispensation; because, though the priesthood is of the same order, it is higher.

10. The question returns, Who can ordain?  God has answered it.  In February, 1831, God said, "He that is ordained of me (God) shall come in at the gate (be appointed by revelation, for that is the gate or lawful place of coming in), and BE ORDAINED AS I HAVE TOLD YOU (Joseph) BEFORE." (1835 D.C. 14:2; Utah D.C. 43:4-7; Reor. D.C. 43:2a-c) So if we can learn what God told Joseph before on this subject, the answer is perfect.  In September, 1830, five months before, and only five months after the organization of the church, God said: "I have sent unto you Peter, James, and John (angels), BY WHOM I HAVE ORDAINED YOU, " etc. (1835 D.C. 50:3; Utah D.C. 27:12; Reor. D.C. 26:3a) Most clear and true, therefore, is it that a prophet of this dispensation cannot be either elected or ordained of man, but must be chosen by revelation and or­dained by angels.

11. Against this rule, those who wish to pervert the word of God sometimes quote the law concerning the three presiding high priests. (1835 D.C. 3:11 ; Utah D.C. 107:22; Reor. D.C. 104:11b) It will be observed, however, that that is not a revelation, but only a law of the church, and cannot change the interpretation of a revelation. 2nd. That those three are not the Presidents of the church, but the Presidents of the high priests.  For we are told expressly that their necessity grows not out of the organization of the church, but of the priesthood. (1835 D.C. 3:1 & 11; Utah D.C. 107:1 & 22; Reor. D.C. 104:1 a & 11b) Whereas, the Presidency of the church existed of necessity, before the priesthood was organized at all. 3rd. That they are inferior to the First Presidency in power, for they are only equal with the Twelve, either seventy or a high council of a stake, all of which councils and quorums are inferior to the First Presidency, and subject to it. 4th. These three presiding high priests are chosen by the body and ordained by the church.  Whereas, we have shown, both by the letter of the law, and the force of fundamental principles, that the First Presidency cannot be thus chosen and ordained.  To say that this law relates to the First Presidency is equivalent to saying that all the revelations concerning the appointment, or­dination, and power of the prophet are false.

12. It should not be forgotten that for nearly four years past the church has suffered continual perils, and such calamities as never before fell on it.  If God has all that time left them without a prophet, there is no hope that he will give them one.  And if the power existed in the church to make one (which I have shown does not), it was the last degree of folly not to exercise it.  Most truly do I say to you that the only reason why usurpers and apostates are now promising you to organize the church according to the ORIGINAL PATTERN with a First Presidency is because so many have appealed to the law and said, "a church without a prophet is not the church for me."  Having no God‑made prophet, they are about to offer you one made by themselves.  Since you have rejected man­made parsons, bishops, and archbishops, will you accept a man-made prophet?

13. Brethren, in this appeal to you I have spoken upon principles and not men.  Those who say they are apostles but are not, have gone beforehand to you with terrible accusations against me.  I shall not retaliate on them by so much as naming their real errors.  If they have the authority to lead the church, in spite of all their faults, their authority is good till regularly taken away.  On the other hand, if I have not the authority, no matter what the sanctity of my life, I have no right to assume it till it is regularly conferred.  I am ready to test these matters by the word of God.  Fully persuaded that no man can do me any real or lasting injury but myself, I am content to leave both accusation and defense to others.

14. As your true Shepherd I invite you to the fold and refuge God has prepared for you.  Both at Voree and Beaver Island God has provided for the saints peace, abundance and safety.  The saints are gathering in a church with a God‑made pro­phet, and an authorized priesthood, and keeping the law of God, having all their goods and possessions common and wanting nothing.  We do not claim authority in virtue of numbers.  We have never yet subscribed to the doctrine that the voice of the people is the voice of God, or that men are made prophets by the will of man.  We know very well that Christ was rejected by the voice of the people.  Truly did he say to the Israel of his day, ye are the children of those that slew the prophets.  Moreover the prophet Joseph has given us a full test of those who say they are apostles and are not.  Though we will not accuse them, yet we believe the word of God by his prophet will stand, and by that they must fall.

15. After the saints had gathered to Nauvoo God gave them the following promise: (1846 D.C. 103:13-14; Utah D.C. 124:45; Reor. D.C. 107:13e)

16. "If ye labor with all your mights, I will consecrate that spot, that it shall be made holy; and if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.  But if they will not hearken unto my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy or­dinances, and chatters, and my holy words, which I give unto them.

17. "And it shall come to pass, that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfill the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord; for instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indigna­tion and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abomina­tions which you practice before me, saith the Lord."

18. That the saints in Nauvoo obeyed faithfully the words of Brigham Young and his associates from the death of Joseph till their final expulsion from that place, and the laws which they gave as the law of God, they themselves have abundantly proved.  Heber C. Kimball and others of the Twelve at the April Con­ference, 1845, and at other times, said they were the most obedient people that ever existed.  Why were they removed out of their place?  Was it because the arm of God is shortened that he cannot save? Or was it because they obeyed the voice of men whom God did NOT appoint to be their leaders?  The promise is express, that if they will obey they shall not be removed, and if they will not obey they shall be cursed.  They were removed, and bitterly have they been cursed, for they are plundered, exiled, scattered, and vast numbers of them have perished of ex­posure and want.  The only conclusion to which anyone can arrive, who believes in Joseph, is that they have not followed the leaders whom God appointed, but only such as are appointed by men.

19. Brethren, will you run the same race?  Will you drag the same curses on your heads which have fallen so heavily on them?  Will you expose not only yourselves but wives and children to all the perils of wicked men in a waste, desolate wilderness a thousand miles from the utmost verge of civilization, for the sake of having your trust in the arm of flesh, or in a man‑made priesthood, departing from the Lord and dwelling in the heath of the desert, and inhabiting the parched places of the wilderness, in a salt land, and not inhabited? (Jer. 17:5‑6.) Rather see good, for it has come, and flee from the evil while there is refuge. JAMES J. STRANG.

Voree, May 1st, 1848 .
  

  Prophecies Fulfilled

  I received an e-mail one day inquiring if we had a book of prophesies of James.  The Revelations of James was compiled by Wingfield Watson and published in 1885.  Reprints and other compilations of this work have been made over the years.  Unfortunately, prophesies of James have never been compiled.  For the purposes of this book, they are divided into two categories:  (1) those that have been fulfilled to this day, and (2) those that are to be fulfilled in the future.

James received his first vision on June 18, 1844 , the same day that Joseph wrote the letter of appointment, foretelling his being called to stand at the head of the people.  This vision was fulfilled when he was ordained at the hands of angels as an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver at the same time Joseph was murdered—although some four hundred miles away.

On September 1, 1845 , James received a vision in which he prophesied of a record of an ancient people buried on a hill beside the White River .  He took four respectable local men with him on September 13, 1845 , to the place where the angel showed him the record was buried.  They found the buried record beneath a large tree, at a depth of about three feet, exactly where James had prophesied.  A clay case contained three brass plates—the Voree Plates.  James translated this ancient record.  It is included in the chapter, James the Translator.

On August 25, 1846 , he received a revelation and vision concerning the gathering of the saints.  Beaver Island was later established by revelation as a stake of Zion and the gathering place for the saints.

We do not know how many other visions James received.  The foregoing was published for public instruction.

The first prophecy of James is found in his vision of June 18, 1844 —the day Joseph wrote the letter of appointment.  He saw himself as head of the people.  James had no way of knowing that Joseph was soon to be martyred and that he would stand at the head of the people.  On June 27, 1844 , Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob in Carthage Jail, Missouri .  At the same time of Joseph’s death, James was ordained as Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver at the hands of angels to be Joseph’s successor.  The prophecy was fulfilled.

James prophesied the fall of Nauvoo.  Joseph Smith received a revelation from God at Nauvoo , Illinois , on January 19, 1841 .  God promised as long as the people obeyed the priesthood that God set in order they would never be removed from Nauvoo.

“45 And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.46 But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them. 47 And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord. 48 For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practise before me, saith the Lord.” (D&C 124)

In The Prophetic Controversy (p. 20) James notes that he prophesied in 1844, of the fall of Nauvoo.  “A short time after receiving my prophetic calling, sister Louisa Sanger addressed me a letter in which she made a demand upon me similar to that contained in your letter.  In my reply, guided by the spirit of truth, by which this revelation was given, though it had not been published, I predicted their expulsion as the consequence of following the wrong leaders.  She showed this letter to H. C. Kimball and Orson Pratt, and begged them to reply to my strong reasons, if any answer could be made.  They declined that task, as they always will; but they threw my letter on the floor, and danced on it their defiance of the prediction.  Two years did not pass around till the prediction was fulfilled, and thus another witness testified that I was a Prophet inspired of God, and that they were blind and uninspired.  By their own words, as well as by the voice of God, were they condemned, and I sustained.

“It is not an agreeable task for a prophet to compare prophecy with history, for the purpose of proving that he has not spoken one word more or less than the Lord has spoken by him; and I shall not, without a special occasion, undertake it, for myself.  But, whenever the occasion does arise, it will find me fully prepared to show that every leading and material fact in the history of the Brighamite party, for the ten years of its existence, has been by me distinctly and publicly predicted, before it was spoken of among them, and that in all their misfortunes I have offered them such relief as subsequent experience has shown would have been sufficient.  So far as this proves me a true prophet, I am entitled to the benefit of the testimony.”

In 1846, Brigham Young and his followers were driven from Nauvoo.  The prophecy of James was fulfilled.  Their persecutions are among some of the blackest pages in the history of a country pretending religious freedom; while at the same time driving a whole community from their homes solely on the basis of their religious beliefs.

The most somber prophesy of James was the failure of the saints to obey the will of God and the subsequent loss of the Church of Christ; and in time the dispensation to the Gentiles.  Throughout the revelations and prophecies of James there are no unconditional promises to the Gentiles.  All promises to the Gentiles were conditioned with an "if."  The Lord told James on January 17, 1845 , "9. Be ye faithful, O ye children of the kingdom, for this is the covenant between me and you. I will remember you in mercy and in blessings IF ye serve me. And this will I do. Behold I the Lord have spoken it. I will give unto my servant James the plates of the book that was sealed, that he may translate them for you. Yea, unto the faithful is this promise. Serve and obey me, and I will give unto him the plates of the ancient records which are sealed up, and he shall translate them unto you; and this shall be a witness between me and those that serve me; and unto my servants who serve me faithfully, yea, unto whom I will, shall he show the plates, and they shall be faithful witnesses unto me, and thus shall my words be established. (Chronicles of Voree, p. 15; Voree Herald, August, 1846, p. 33)

The covenant between God and the Gentile converts, like the one made under Moses, carried with it both blessings and curses (Deut. 28).  All of the promises and covenants made with Gentile converts were conditioned with an IF, "unto the faithful is this promise."

"I will remember you in mercy and in blessings IF ye serve me... IF they will not hearken unto thee, they shall be cast out from among my people... IF my people will build a house unto me according to my commandments... IF they will diligently serve me, and give heed unto all my words... IF my people will cease all their contentions... IF my servants serve me; and upon the Hill of Promise shall ye build a hall... IF ye do all these things, dominion shall be given unto you... IF they will hearken to my word when it comes to them... IF they harden not their hearts... IF this people will turn unto him, and repent of all their evil deeds, and no more slay the prophets which he sendeth unto them... IF ye are not one, ye are none of mine... IF ye do these things, I will give you strength that your enemies shall not prevail over you... IF ye will therefore possess these things, remember my law, to keep it... IF ye will not live by it, the promise is not unto you. It is a vain thing for you to witness my word, IF ye will not regard it, to live by it... will give them the kingdom, IF they abide in well doing... IF they do not redeem and preserve it, they must be afflicted with sore affliction.  IF they are faithful unto me, my strength shall shield them and prosper them... IF they do not walk in my ways more perfectly, I will yet cast them off... They that are of the flock hear his voice. IF not, they go astray to destruction... IF ye uphold him in faith and confidence and prayer... IF they had obeyed me... For your enemies shall be upon you, and ye shall flee before them, IF ye turn not to me to be faithful...IF ye remember the Lord your God, whose name is great and glorious, and keep his statutes... IF ye neglect these sayings the day of your redemp­tion approacheth not... IF they do it not, his fierce anger shall fall upon them and all that are joined with them... IF we do not PRACTICALLY conform to gospel principle, their influence is lost on us.... It is vain to talk about or to hope for the fullness of the spirit of God, or the establishment of His kingdom, IF we will not make our religion a practical reality, by doing the things we teach... IF we give not willingly, He will not suffer us to possess what He requires... IF ye are not equal in earthly things, ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things... IF you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded... IF, after all the buffetings and persecutions you have endured for receiving the faith, and the perils you have passed through in coming to this country, you should still throw yourselves under the authority of a mere MAN‑MADE priesthood, and trust your salvation to the administrations of men merely elected by the people... IF ye labor with all your mights... IF my people will hearken unto my voice... IF they will not hearken unto my voice... The blessing of their God shalt thou put upon them, and his curse upon evil doers, IF, after being oft rebuked, they repent not... IF they scatter, the ungodly of the world shall swallow them up."

Even thou James had to suffer severe tribulations and persecution; he never turned away from his duties as Prophet and First President of the church.  He was constantly confronted with tale bearers, apostates, Brighamite persecutors, and the possibility being martyred.  The tale bearers were finally rebuked in “An Appeal” published twice in the Gospel Herald.

“AN APPEAL.

“It is seldom that I address the public concerning myself, and very seldom that I do so by way of complaint. On the whole I have great reason to be thankful for the kindnesses that I have re­ceived at the hands of those with whom I have associated and corresponded. I owe a debt of gratitude, great, but never unac­knowledged for ten thousand acts of benevolence and generosity received at the hands of numerous strangers, both at home and on my various journeys; which I am ever ready to reciprocate, both to the same persons and to the rest of mankind, whoever they may be. Asking a generous respect and kindness at the hands of all I meet, notwithstanding the peculiar views I represent, I endeavor always to show the same to all others. I have never treated with contu­mely or neglect any individual because his doctrines were unpopular or different from my own. Much less have I ever joined in the wholesale scandal which is usually heaped on the founders and repre­sentatives of new and unpopular theories. Even when they have been clearly shown guilty of offences against the order of society, I have not trumpeted those things to raise prejudice against their doctrines, but have been content to oppose them by logical reason­ing and trust every cause on fair common sense, rather than pique, prejudice or personal malfeasance. Though I claim exemption from these faults, I am far from professing perfection. And when I begin to complain, I hope it will not be supposed that I think injuries have blotted out kindnesses, or that I am in any respect destitute of friends. Considering the very arduous and difficult mission which God has committed to me, I have every reason to be thankful that my perils have not been greater. By a very large portion of my fellow creatures I have been treated full as well as I deserved, and my labors have been prized quite higher by most men than by myself. I never could see in myself the talent I have had the credit for.

“(But there is a class of injuries?) which have been for a few years past poured out upon me without measure or sparing, cruel and wicked in their import, and where successful, irreparable in their consequences, which I do not feel the least obligation to patiently submit to. And these injuries come much more from those who claim the name of saints than from mere Gentiles. These injuries consist principally in giving credit to every tale that may be put afloat, until it is proved false. The common and only just rule among men is that every man be held innocent until proved guilty. At a very early period after the organization of the church the community adopted the opposite rule in regard to the prophet Joseph, and always believing him guilty of every act that any foul mouthed slanderer saw fit to accuse him of, they had actually convinced themselves that he was the author of more crimes than one man could commit in a lifetime of five hundred years.

“However ridiculous and unjust this course may have been, while confined to mere enemies, it was comparatively harmless. But of late, a great body of those calling themselves saints have adopted the same rule in regard to their prophet. I do not ask any im­munity from personal public responsibility in all my actions.­--But it is cruel and heartless beyond measure to adopt the rule, which has been acted on in my case, of holding every accusation upon me true till it is proved false. If a mere charge is put afloat upon me, without one word of proof to sustain it, vast numbers will take it up, as a settled truth, an undoubted fact. With no evidence against me, and as much to prove my absolute innocence, as if against me would be sufficient to show guilt, they still believe the charge. And though the whole course of my life, in addition, gives the lie to such an accusation, it is believed all the same.--­There can be no reason for this course, except that men love lies more than the truth. To believe not only without evidence and contrary to ones whole life, but in defiance of strong testimony, every tale that malice may invent, is abominably unjust, and betrays deep corruption of heart in those who are the subjects of it.

“There is no greater truth than that men usually judge of the con­duct of others upon the standard of moral conduct, by which they are themselves governed. Whoever is ever ready to suspect the motives and conduct of others, becomes a lively witness of his own ill motives and vile conduct. The man who is ever fearful that an­other is doing wrong in any particular circumstances, proves that he would do the like wrong in the same circumstances. The fear­ful and the unbelieving go to the same end, and our Lord has class­ed together those that love and those that make lies.

“I became a member of the church only a few months previous to the martyrdom of the prophet Joseph. It is very well known that about the time of, and immediately after his decease, certain doc­trines of a most deleterious tendency were sown broad cast throughout the church, and cultivated with so skillful a hand as to become deep rooted. I believe no man denies that at that time I maintain­ed an unstained moral character. It is a matter of universal noto­riety that from the very beginning of my ministry I took high ground against those doctrines, and have maintained that opposition without one single change or shadow of turning. Numbers of persons who had drank in those errors have, professing to turn from them, joined the church under my leading, and after a short time, being overtaken in their former ways and cut off therefore, have gone off howling against me. It is a fact perfectly notorious throughout the land that my principal accusers are those whose life has been chief­ly devoted to the same crimes which they charge me with, and for which they profess to abandon me. Those saints who credit their lies, have placed themselves in the ridiculous predicament of be­lieving that a man whose character was always fair, whom they acknowledge as the Lord's anointed, and who is and has been during his ministry principally surrounded by men of exalted virtue and unsuspected reputation, is a vile scamp because those whom they know to be such, say he is like them, and that therefore they cannot endure him.

“That men really respectable, and whose respectability I desire not to question, should both believe such tales and publish them as undoubted facts, in such manner that the world should believe they speak upon personal knowledge, is both ridiculous and outrageous­ly wicked. For any one to fear that such things may be true is foolish. There is a naked possibility that any man may commit any crime known among men. But we ought not therefore to fear that he will do it. Such fears will produce neither safety, peace or happiness. It is better to risk the bare possibility of being some­time betrayed than never to trust.

“Society never existed among men without confidence. Wherev­er confidence is reposed, there may be betrayed. It ought not to be reposed when betrayal is probable, nor refused because it is possi­ble. Every man may be a great scamp if he prefers it. Should we, therefore, suspect him without evidence? And believe him guilty of every crime he might commit till he proves himself innocent?--­And after he has proved his innocence begin to say, “if" and but " and "I don't know but they lie to screen him?" And must a prophet in order to maintain a fair character among the saints, keep a band of witnesses to watch him hourly and inspect all his correspondence, to PROVE to the SAINTS that he commits no secret sins? Shame on the man, saint though he be, whose actions demand it! He is like a painted sepulcher, which, though the outside be clean, is within filled with dead mans' bones and all uncleanness. The pure are not so ready to think ill of human kind, nor the faithful of the min­isters of God's word.

“Scarcely a week passes by without some tale being put afloat [Page 91/403] upon me, charging me with some offence against public law, on which, if convicted, I should be subject to imprisonment. A triumphant cry is raised among apostates, very frequently, that they have got Strang now where he can't wiggle out of their hands, and they shall put him through. Yet no prosecution has ever been commenced against me. Several times they have threatened to try me in their self-constituted tribunals, and once went so far as to advertise in the secular press a long string of charges on which I was to be tried at a fixed day. But then, as on every other occasion, when the day came my accusers and their witnesses were no where. The wit­nesses were a chimera, and accusers hid their heads. I will not inflict on your patience a long list of scandal, but to show to what littleness men will stoop, and by what folly men professing the faith are overthrown, I name a few of the thousand and one false­hoods which have been both published and believed against me.

“The Voree Herald contained articles from other papers, repre­senting that White River would afford a water power at Voree by means of dam and race of from 20 to 25 feet fall. It has been pub­lished far and near that this is a lie; that there is no water power here, and that six feet fall cannot be obtained. Men of respectabil­ity have taken it up and repeated it as an undoubted fact, by means of which real injury has been done to the growth of the place. On what authority is this slander put afloat? None at all. Not a man of all who dispute the existence of 25 feet fall ever walked along the river, much less made a survey of it. William Aldrich, who has circulated it very industriously, and probably done more than any other man in giving it currency, had but barely crossed the river at a single point, and on that boldly puts forth a statement in the face of careful observations of engineers that a dam and race crossing a bend and bringing to one point the fall of a rapid river for three miles would not produce 25 feet fall. I care not what a man's char­acter may be, his guessing cannot stand against engineers measurements. Yet such is the best they have against me.

“Reuben Miller accuses me of lying in saying that in my ordina­tion the angel touched me, and brings a certificate of two or three who were present at our interview to prove that I did not then say so, &c. But a majority of those present certify that I did say so at that time. If I said it, his witnesses might not have heard it.­--But if I did not say it, the others COULD NOT. Yet several persons have apostatized on it. They believed the negative of a few, stronger evidence than the affirmative of several, and enough stronger to convict a gentleman of good character of falsehood. And that false­hood utterly objectless, contrary to what he had said and written many times a day both before and after. Such a charge would not be worthy of notice on any testimony and unopposed. It proves its own falsehood.

“It is very well known that the second day of January, 1847, some 24 of the saints met at my house and some ordinances of some kind were administered. As the meeting was not public, much curiosi­ty has always been felt to know what they were. The transaction is usually spoken of by the name of "ILLUMINATION." Immediate­ly after it occurred a rumor was put afloat that some terrible impo­sition had been practiced by me. It was alleged that I had gath­ered the saints in a lower room with a loose floor overhead, and causing a bright light to shine through the cracks, had pretended that it came from heaven! And that by burning pitch or other com­bustibles in the chimney had caused a pillar of light to rise up as the channel of communication! Men were found to believe that two dozen respectable gentlemen and ladies could be imposed on by such means! And that one in any circumstances was capable of stooping to it

“Directly the Elkhorn Star and the New Era published that fire was produced on the heads of the saints by the use of a galvanic battery, secretly concealed in another room. All scientific men know very well that the battery would destroy human life before it pro­duced an illumination. Yet E. A. Utter, an editor and an M. D. was willing to give his sanction to it. Every man of science will say it is impossible. Yet the saint says, "I don't know. It is best to look out for deception," and makes shipwreck of faith because possibly the prophet has done what no man on earth could do.

“William Smith has published far and near and got it in the religious papers generally that I got a house built on the promise of a heavenly illumination, which I then gave by anointing the heads of the saints with phosphorus and oil. He goes on to say that he discov­ered the cheat and accused me of it on the spot, and that I both ac­knowledged it and justified it by saying that all miracles are simi­lar cheats. Had such a story been told on any body else, the U. S. would not have furnished seven fools to credit it. But being on the Mormon prophet, it must be true. I have no reason to doubt that it is generally believed. The saints are filled with fears that it may be so.

“Now I ask, in all candor, I put it to the good sense of every man, could the church have been preserved under my leading a single day after such an act? Would it not have produced universal indigna­tion and denunciation, immediate and unqualified? Would even a man's person be safe among those who had been subjected to such base imposture? William Smith spent that winter in Knox county, Ill. , and was not within 150 miles of Voree, within some three months of that time. But several others, men of a very different character from Wm. Smith, assert that the illumination was really an imposition by the use of phosphorus and oil, and as a few of them are men who are usually credited in other matters, it may be expected of me to show a reason why they should not in this. I have cheerfully done it as often as requested.

“Phosphorus and oil only produces a dim light in a warm dark room. It barely makes itself visible, and could not possibly for a single moment be mistaken for the glory of God. So if such an imposition was practiced, it must have been detected on the spot.--­If an impostor, could I be such a fool? Why did not these men ex­pose it! Within three days of that meeting the whole band of apostates in the place, amounting to some forty, were continually accusing the saints of having been imposed on in the illumination, and every soul of them denied it, and scouted the very naming of it. In order to believe that they TELL THE TRUTH NOW, we MUST BE­LIEVE that they LIED THEN. It was the principal topic of con­versation in Voree for some weeks, and every person present in the most pointed and positive manner constantly denied that there had been any attempt at imposition. They are therefore estopped from asserting it, and as often as they say so stultify themselves and im­peach their own testimony. They ask you to believe them NOW, be­cause they LIED BEFORE. I cannot conceive that such testimony proves any thing, only that the AUTHOR of it is a SCAMP and an UNBLUSHING LIAR.

“Amos Fuller, the first one of the number who asserted the use of phosphorus, gave me on the tenth day of February following a letter directed to Mrs. Emma Smith, in which he expressed the most unqualified confidence in me as the prophet of God and as an honest man. The very day of his apostasy he scouted the least suggestion of imposition, and declared that it had never been pre­tended that the glory of God was more manifest in the illumination than in the eucharist. Those who have since gone out from among us and taken up this calumny, then treated it the same as I do now. The principal men among them stood up at the April Conference following and expressed their faith and confidence in me as the Lord's anointed, faithful and true, not only in the strongest language that they could command, but many of them (including J. M. Adams, William Smith and U. C. H. Nickerson) added that they knew these facts by revelation. U. C. H. Nickerson took a mission to the western camp, visiting on the way most of the saints in Illinois and Iowa , and meeting this scandal wherever he went, perfectly laughed it down on its own innate folly. Yet such a man has become now the principal representative of my opponents, and chief accuser in the premises. To such shifts are men driven to make me vile. As I expect to return to the subject again, I for­bear remarks. "Most sincerely,  JAMES J. STRANG.” (Gospel Herald, Vol. 3, No. 86. p. 90/402)

“I shall not trouble you further with the detail of the falsehoods told on me. Suffice it to say, that less than five years since I be­came a member of the church; having an unblemished moral character; I have labored faithfully in preaching the gospel; I have kept myself unspotted from the world; I have sought no personal indulgence or immunity; I have cut myself off from all the luxu­ries and most of the comforts of life; I have denied myself nearly all the ordinary pleasures of society; I have, by precept and exam­ple, set my face as flint against every kind of immorality; I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God; I have endeavored as much as possible to avoid offending the follies of the prudish; I have not so much confidence in myself as to flatter myself that I ever can do better or conduct more prudently for the same length of time, than I have during the time that has elapsed. Yet I cannot conceal from myself that a feeling of suspicion deep and broad per­vades the land, of a kind which, if just, should exile me from soci­ety.” (pp. 97/409, 97/409)

After facing severe persecution for many years, and knowing the probability of martyrdom, the Northern Islander published an “Apology For The Mormons” on June 5, 1856 .  “We will neither purchase temporary peace and future calamities by dishonorable trafficking with political jugglers, nor will we yield our homes to enemies. If we live, here will we live. If we die, here will we die, and here shall our bones be buried, expecting in the resurrection of the just to possess the land forever, and dwell with the righteous during the lifetime of the Eternal. God judge between us and all men.”

The prophecy of his own death became a reality after he fell by assassin’s bullets three weeks later, on June 16, 1856 ; and later died on July 9.  He sealed his testimony with his own blood; as Joseph had before him.

His prophecy concerning the failure of the gentile dispensation came true.  IF ye will not live by it, the promise is not unto you. It is a vain thing for you to witness my word, IF ye will not regard it, to live by it.”  The organization of the Church of Christ requires a Prophet (either first or second degree Apostle) to stand at the head to maintain communication with God.  There was no second degree Apostle to stand at the head after his death.  The Twelve were the highest authority remaining on the earth; but they could only function with royal (Presiding) authority under the direction of the Presidency.  “33 The Twelve are a Traveling Presiding High Council, to officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, agreeable to the institution of heaven; to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and secondly unto the Jews.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 107)

The official church journals note many times that the Church of Christ must have a living head—a Prophet of God.  Apostle Chidester gave the final instruction of James to the Apostles in a letter to Apostle Post on July 14, 1856 .  “I received your letter today, and hasten to answer.  If you have not received the news ahead of this, it will be sad news to you.  I closed the prophet’s eyes in the sleep of death the 9th of July, fifteen minutes before ten o’clock .

“You inquire what to do.  His direction was for every man to take care of his family and do the best he could till he found out what to do.  You will understand when you receive this how to act, as well as any of us; you have it second hand, I had it from his own mouth.” (Record of the Apostles of James, p. 31)

Apostle Chidester wrote Apostle Post again on August 3, 1856 .  “In the first place we are without a head to our knowledge, in the flesh, our Prophet and King has been stricken down by the hands of wicked men… I suppose you understand there are two Priesthoods as well as myself, and in the Priesthood of an endless life two Orders, and that the Quorum of the Twelve are the third Degree of the First Order, and can only act under the direction of their superiors.  The Twelve are without a President to their Quorum, and you speak of a meeting to consult about matters that concern us all.  That is what Bro. Miller, Hickey, & myself were in favor of; but we were apposed, & no one authorized to take the lead, so we have concluded that the trial of the getting up such a meeting would be vain.” (Ibid., pp. 33, 34)

Apostle Post wrote, “Again on the 6th of December there was another Conference appointed; but the poverty of the Saints, and the inclemency of the weather, prevented there being much done at that Conference. The Saints being anxious to obtain the word of the Lord, concerning them, and the cause of Zion , proposed a fast: and the last day of the year 1856 was kept by some of them as a day for fasting and prayer. The day was not kept, only by a few, for the people are determined to do what seemeth right in their own eyes. There were five of the Apostles, that met together (viz) L. D. Hickey, L. D. Tubbs, J Pearce, J. Hutchins, & W. Post on the 10th of Feb. 1857, in the wilderness 6 miles from Racine, and there prayed and communed with each other all night. We became satisfied, that the Twelve could not lead the Church without a Prophet; and concluded to take care of ourselves & families; and when occasion offered; minister to the necessities of the Saints, according to our abilities, until we have the word of the Lord to guide us on to other duties. This is truly a time of mourning, & fasting; for God has chastened us sorely for our sins, & we know not the extent of our sins, for God has not shown them unto us.” (Ibid., p. 45)

Apostle Page wrote, “You know, or rather ought to know, (unless you are given over entirely to the powers of blackness and darkness forever) that the law and faith of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is, that the church cannot exist, as the church of Christ, without a prophet, seer, revelator, and translator.” (Zion’s Reveille, Vol. 2, No. 8, p. 32/84)  See the Subject Index for the Gospel Herald series and the Northern Islander: Church without a Prophet.

James’ first mission was to the Gentiles.  It failed.  The Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and church journals all tell of the loss of the final Gentile dispensation; and the return of the gospel dispensation to the House of Israel.

There are many references in the Bible that tell of the Gentiles in the last days.  “5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isa. 24)

The Book of Mormon gives a similar account.  “10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel [the second time], and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.  11 And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel , and I will bring my gospel unto them.  12 And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel , that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel , and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel." (3 Nephi 16; 3 Nephi 20:26)

Joseph gave a similar revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants.  “28 And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel; 29 BUT THEY RECEIVE IT NOT; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. 30 And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (D&C 45)

James offered a similar prophecy.  “But in this matter I think you can discover evidence of the peculiar justice of God's judgments.  The time is hastening when he will cut off the gentiles as he did the Jews.  And as he judged the Jews out of their own mouths, so will he judge the gentiles.  Christ came to the Jews as their king.  They rejected him, saying, 'let his blood be on us and on our children.'  God took them at their word; and the undying anathema which Moses pronounced on them in eighty-four curses (Deut. xxxviii.) has followed that whole people for eighteen centuries as a witness that god's words are true, and that he judged them out of their own mouths.--His blood is upon them and upon their children."

"...And when the times of the gentiles are come in, that they fully reject this testimony, as the Jews rejected Christ, then as surely as God has destroyed Israel with all the curses which he pronounced by the mouth of Moses, so surely will he take those curses off from Israel and put ALL OF THEM UPON THE GENTILES." (Zion's Reveille, Vol. 2, No. 26, p. 107/159)

“22. The whole course of prophecy indicates that the nations of the earth will not be converted to Godliness; but that they will increase in wickedness, and be destroyed. The day has not yet come, but is in the future, which ‘shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble,’ and shall be burnt up, leaving neither root nor branch; when they that fear the Lord shall tread down the wicked, as ashes beneath their feet. (Mal. 4:1, 3)

“23. Paul assures us that the coming of Christ shall be ‘in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.’ (2 Thess. 1:8, 9)  Isaiah says, the earth shall be made empty, and few men left. (Isa. 24:1, 3, 6) Those days are days of vengeance, when Christ shall tread the wine press of the wrath of God, and the blood shall blow unto the horses’ bridles. (Rev. 14:20.) As those times are approaching, the judgment is pronounced on Babylon , ‘Reward her as she hath rewarded you, and double unto her double, according to her works.’ (id. 18:6.) Then shall the Saints execute vengeance on the heathen. (Ps. 149:6, 7), (Book of the Law, p. 213)

“8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom , and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isa. 1)

“8 The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together… 10 The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, and keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground… 13 What thing shall I take to witness for thee?  what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem ?  what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion ?  for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee?” (Lam. 2)

James gave several sermons on Micah 4.  “8 And thou, O tower of the flock [James J. Strang], the strong hold of the daughter of Zion , unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem . 9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud?  is there no king in thee?  is thy counseller perished?  for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail. 10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.”

Jesus told of the exact time when the final dispensation to the Gentiles would end.  “24 And they [the Jews] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled… 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21)  This prophecy was fulfilled in 1967, after the six day war.  Biblical generations are forty years.  If there is any remaining of the daughter of Zion who has tears that have not been shed, they do not understand.

A sign of the times was given by God in the spring of 1997.  Comet Hale-Bopp was seen by more people that any other comet.  On its previous rendezvous with earth it was the birth star of Abraham.  Could its appearance thirty years after the end of the Gentile dispensation only be a coincidence?

The dominion of the kingdom was established on July 8, 1850 ; when James was made a King in Zion with dominion over the kingdom of heaven on the earth.  James became, truly, a Prophet like unto Moses.  It has been said that James, during his whole life in the ministry, believed that it would end with the shedding of his own blood; and that he became more aware of his impending death about a week before he was shot.  He was right.  Some have said that his Bible was opened to Micah 4, when he left for the dock where he was shot.  On July 9, 1856 , he offered his own blood as a witness of the truth of his prophecy “is there no king in thee?”  The Apostles all passed away, “is thy counseller perished?”  The people were scattered among the heathen in spiritual Babylon —confusion and wickedness.  In the day when deliverance comes to the daughter of Zion , only half will be found worthy of deliverance (Matt. 25).

Every prophecy that James gave concerning events to this day have been fulfilled.  On June 18, 1844 , James told of seeing himself at the head of the people.  This was only possible if Joseph was to die. Joseph wrote the Letter of Appointment the same day. At the very moment of Joseph’s death on June 27, some 400 miles away, James claimed to have been ordained at the hands of angels to the same office held by Joseph.  But, it was not until July 9, when James received the letter from Joseph.  Both parts of the law-- requiring an appointment by Joseph and an ordination at the hands of angels--were fulfilled.

James prophesied of a record of an ancient people buried near White River .  The four respectable members of the community, who dug where James instructed them, found the Voree Plates.

James prophesied of the fall of Nauvoo shortly after he was ordained as Joseph’s successor.  Within two years, the followers of Brigham Young were driven from Nauvoo.  God’s promise did not fail.  They rejected the authority which God had established; and followed a false prophet.

James prophesied of the disobedience of the people and their violation of the everlasting covenant.  He also spoke of his own impending death.  With his death came the realization that the Gentile dispensation had failed.  The Lamentations of Apostle Warren Post are found in the Record of the Apostles of James (p. 49).  The dominion given to the saints on July 8, 1850 , was lost.  God did not appoint another to succeed James.  The Church of Christ was taken from the earth.

The only divine authority left on the earth was evangelical.  That is, they only held divine authority to preach the gospel and administer its saving ordinances.  The spiritual kingdom of heaven remains as long as there is one active in the Melchisedec Priesthood.  On April 14, 1919 , Wingfield Watson wrote, “Besides the office of apostle there is also the office of High Priest and Elder, who holds the right to preach the gospel and administer its ordinances.  It was not in the nature of things, to be expected that we could do a great work, for nearly all the men had families dependant upon them for support, and Mr. Strang's last advice and counsel to use, was to let every man take care of himself and his family, and do the best he can until he is informed further what he shall do.”

The complete loss of the Gentile dispensation became a reality in 1967.  Jesus had prophesied, “24 … Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luke 21)  Lloyd Flanders, High Priest, was first to notice this prophecy was fulfilled after the six day war.  Its truth has been generally appreciated among the remnant of the followers of James.

  Prophecies Yet Future

  It is evident, when studying the Revelations of James, that he realized only a part of his mission to the people of God during his mortal life. His first was to the Gentiles.  His next mission will be to God’s elect people; and will include that very small remnant of the daughter of Zion .  He is to stand as a Deliverer, Judge, and Destroyer in Zion shortly before the return of Jesus.  This is the primary subject of the chapter James the Deliverer.

James taught that Micah 4 addressed him and the daughter of Zion .  This prophesied of James being a future Deliverer of the remnant of the daughter of Zion .  “8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion , unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem . 9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud?  is there no king in thee?  is thy counseller perished?  for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail. 10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.”

When the angel ordained James to the office of Lawgiver, he noted that James would one day be a Deliverer, Judge, and Destroyer. “13. In righteousness shalt thou rule: thou shalt redeem the poor and the needy from suffering and violence; and to thee God giveth judgment for them. Thou shalt deliver the prey from the spoiler; for God, thy God, hath put them in thy hand.

“14. And in weakness will he made thee strong. Thou shalt rule among his people. Though shalt break in pieces the rod of the oppressor, and the yoke of the unjust ruler. They shall flee away, but the way of peace shall they not find.

“15. While the day of the wicked abideth, shalt thou prepare a refuge for the oppressed, and for the poor and needy. Unto thee shall they come, and their brethren who are scattered shall come with them; and the destruction of the ungodly shall quickly follow; for it already worketh.” (Book of the Law, p. 171)

In “Establishment of the Law” it is clear that James will be both Deliverer and Destroyer.  “4. Arise and smite them, O Daughter of Zion, and thou, O Tower of the Flock, whose power is above the clouds, possess thy dominion, and be thou a refuge… 7. Arise and thrash, for I will make thy power iron: the tread of thy foot shall crush: thou shalt break in pieces many people, and shalt consecrate their spoil unto God, and their dominion to the Lord of the whole earth.” (Book of the Law, pp. 203-205)

Compare the words of the ordination of James with those in “Establishment of the Law” and in Micah 4 (read the whole chapter). “13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion : for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.”

The deliverance of the elect of God, the judgments that are to come upon the world and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven for the Millennium, is a primary subject in the prophecies of James.  All of his teachings perfectly correspond with those in the Bible.

In the April 3, 1851 , Northern Islander, James prophesied of the future destruction of this nation.  “Many have looked for the downfall of the nation by the array of the north against the south.  That will not be. The nation will perish in anarchy of laws despised and trampled on by the whole people. There is no wickedness, no act of oppression ever undertaken by a despotic government, which has not been successfully accomplished in this.  There is no conceivable act which cannot be done under it, either in accordance with the law, or in spite of it.”

In the June 6, 1850 , Gospel Herald, James with George Adams, and Williams Marks wrote a Testimony To The Nation; which prophecies of the fall of this country.  It tells of the horrible atrocities brought against the Mormons for their religious beliefs; since the beginning of the latter day saints.  “For all these wrongs the laws and institutions of the country offer us no redress.”

“We further ask that you, by some public act, condemn in behalf of the nation the martyrdom of the saints and their exile from some of the States. Unless you do this, will posterity and God hold the nation guiltless of the blood of the saints and prophets? What evidence has ever yet been given that the nation sanctions not the deed? How has she washed her hands of this blood?”

  Brigham Young and the Twelve

  Almost two months after the death of Joseph, Brigham Young, as President of the Twelve, issued an epistle.  He claimed that Joseph would never have a successor; and that the Twelve held authority to stand at the head of the church.

“You are now without a prophet present with you in the flesh to guide you; but you are not without apostles who hold the keys of power to seal on earth that which shall be sealed in heaven, and to PRESIDE OVER ALL THE AFFAIRS OF THE CHURCH IN ALL THE WORLD; being still under the direction of the same God, and being dictated by the same spirit, having the same manifestations of the Holy Ghost TO DICTATE ALL THE AFFAIRS OF THE CHURCH IN ALL THE WORLD to build up the kingdom, upon the foundation that the prophet Joseph has laid, WHO STILL HOLDS THE KEYS OF THIS LAST DISPENSATION, AND WILL HOLD THEM TO ALL ETERNITY, as a king and priest unto the most high God, ministering in heaven ON EARTH, or among the spirits of the departed dead, as seemeth good to him who sent him.

“LET NO MAN PRESUME FOR A MOMENT THAT HIS PLACE WILL BE FILLED BY ANOTHER; FOR REMEMBER, HE STANDS IN HIS OWN PLACE AND ALWAYS WILL.” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p. 618)

It was not until two and half years after the death of Joseph that Brigham Young admitted that only a Prophet can stand at the head of the church.  He admitted their church was in an unorganized condition; and needed a prophet.  “in our unorganized state… at this period of the church, THEY HAD TO SELECT A FIRST PRESIDENCY and they would admit the first argument of the apostates (viz., that the organization was not complete) was correct."  See Prophetic Controversy.

How was this to be realized; as God had neither called, nor ordained Brigham to the Prophetic Office?  He simply held a conference in which the people took a vote and elected him by the voice of man.

 “It was moved and seconded that Brigham Young should be our First President.  It was carried unanimously.” (Minutes of Conference held Dec. 24, 1847)

I call Brigham Young as my witness.  “I do not profess to be a Prophet.  I never called myself so; but I actually believe I am, because people are all the time telling me I am." (Journal of Discourses, 5:177)

"A person was mentioned to-day who did not believe that Brigham Young was a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.  I wish to ask every member of this whole community, if they ever heard him profess to be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, as Joseph Smith was?...Who ordained me to be First President of this Church on earth?  I answer, It is the choice of the people, and that is sufficient." (Ibid., 6:32 )

"The brethren testify that Brother Brigham is Joseph's legal successor.  You never heard me say so.  I say I am a good hand to keep the dogs and wolves out of the flock." (Ibid., 8:69)

"It has been remarked sometimes, by certain individuals, that President Young has said in public that he was not a prophet nor the son of a prophet." (Ibid., 13:166)

The will and “needs” of man do not constitute a legitimate calling to the priesthood of God. James wrote the voice of the people is not the voice of God—Crucify Him!  James wrote, “...For as Aaron was called of God by the mouth of Moses, who held as high authority as that to which he called him, being both Prophet and High Priest, after the order of melchisedec; so no man lawfully taketh the priesthood unto himself, but he that is called by revelation of God, BY THE MOUTH OF ONE LAWFULLY IN THE PRIESTHOOD AND HOLDING AS HIGH AUTHORITY AS THAT TO WHICH HE CALLS." (Gospel Herald, Oct. 7, 1847, p. 118/170)  Only a person holding a particular level of priesthood has authority from God to call another.  The people have the right to recognize the First President; but, they hold no divine authority to call anyone to the priesthood.

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) Brigham taught many false doctrines that also testify that he was not a Prophet of God.  Among these false doctrines is the nature of God.  Brigham taught that God was once a man; even Adam.  "...you believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth.  This I do not believe." (Ibid., 2:6)

"Brother Pratt... could not believe that Adam was our God or the Father of Jesus Christ.  President Young said that He was that he came from another world & made this brought Eve with him." (Wilford Woodruff's Journal, Sept. 17, 1854)

"...so we had a grandfather or we would have had no father, and our grandfather had a father and grandfather and great-great-great- grandfather so far back there is no beginning - They always existed on some world - and when this world was made - our God who is Adam came and commenced  the peopling of it - Though he is God and had lived and died and had been resurrected on some other planet - and obtained his exaltation and begat the Spirits of children enough to people this world." (The Teachings of President Brigham Young, Vol. 3, 1852 - 1854, Comp. and Ed. by Fred D. Collier, Collier's Publishing Co., October 1987, p. 369)

On Jan. 10, 1886 , Apostle Lorenzo Snow stated, "As man now is, God once was." (Journal of Discourses, 26:368)

There can be nothing clearer in Scripture than God is without change.  “6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal. 6) Joseph Smith taught the same as other Prophets of God before him.  In Part One of the original Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph taught, “21 But it is equally as necessary that men should have the idea that he is a God who changes not, in order to have faith in him, as it is to have the idea that he is gracious and long suffering.  For without the idea of unchangeableness in the character of the Deity, doubt would take the place of faith.  But with the idea that he changes not, faith lays hold upon the excellencies in his character with unshaken confidence, believing he is the same yesterday, to-day and forever, and that his course is one eternal round.” (Lecture Three)  Brigham Young simply removed Part One (Doctrine) from his Doctrine and Covenants, leaving only a Book of Commandments.  James taught of the correct character and perfection of God in the Book of the Law, “The True God.”

  James Summons to the Twelve.

“In the progress of human events a crisis is near at hand when in all human probability the decision will rest with you and your colleagues whether, the people unto whom you and your colleagues act as leaders shall be rejected as a Church with their dead, or shall be accepted of God and bring up those who slept without the Gospel. And whether they shall be moved out of their place at the holy city, and the Temple of our God delivered to the polluting hand of the Gentile or shall be built up in the most holy order preparatory to the coming of the son of God.

“I know very well that you were never ignorant of the fact that your Mission as an Apostle is solely to the nations of the earth and not to the Church, and that you hold only the keys of the opening of the Gospel to the nations and not the keyes of ordinances blessings and revelations, and finally that you can do nothing, except it be under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, and can direct none but the seventies.

“God by the mouth of the Prophet Joseph gave promise to his people when he established them at Nauvoo that if his people would hearken unto his voice, and unto the voice of his servants whom he had appointed to lead them, they should not be moved out of their place. That people have hearkened to the Twelve as man never before hearkened to the voice of Spiritual leaders. If you are the men appointed of God to lead the Church why is it that they are about to be moved? The desolation and destruction daily falling on the Church are attributable solely to the misgovernment of those who usurp authority therein.

“I therefore solemnly admonish and direct you to cease all your usurpations in the Church: to cease to exercise any of the authorities and powers of the first Presidency of the Church, and to go out and preach the gospel to the nations of the earth that have not received it. And I direct and require that you first report yourselves to the Presidency of the Church, at the Stake of Voree and there make satisfaction, for the wrongs you have done as it is said, or in the alternate to answer to charges to be preferred against you, and receive the directions for your further guidance; And give you until the first day of April next to appear there.
“Done at
Ottawa January thirteenth eighteen hundred and forty six, by
“James J. Strang, Pres.
“of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.

“To:  Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, William Smith, John Taylor, John E Page, Willard Richards, and George A. Smith.”
(Chronicles of Voree, pp. 55, 56)

  Voree Conference on April 6, 1846 .

“On motion of H. P. Charles B. Thompson
“Resolved unanimously That all persons holding any priesthood in this Church and standing in rebellion against the First Presidency, and the regular authorities of the Church, be suspended of all their official functions and all power of their priesthood during the continuance of their rebellion, and that all acts done by them by virtue of their several offices or priesthood be void.

“Pres. Strang proposed to appoint James Madison Van Nostrand, Pres. pro. tem. of the Elders Quorum, and the conference concurring therein he was appointed.
“On motion of Charles B Thompson, Resolved unanimously That in the opinion of this Conference the First Presidency ought to call a council of Twelve Highpriests for the Trial of such members of the Quorum of the Twelve as have been cited to appear here and have not answered or appeared.”
(Chronicles of Voree, p. 66)

  Trial of Brigham Young and the Twelve

“High Council Meeting on April 7, 1946 . ‘The President then arose and adressed the council. After which the following charges were presented by Stephen Bartholf against Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Willard Richards and George A Smith, all members of the quorum of the Twelve.’ ”

Charges included “Conspiracy to overthrow the order of the Church, “Usurpation,” “Tyrannous Administration,” “Teaching False Doctrine,” and “Blasphemy;” with accompanying accusations.

“It is adjudged that Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Willard Richards and George A. Smith, be excommuncated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints: their Priesthood taken away; and they delivered over to the buffetings of Satan in the flesh.

“[by] Marvin M Aldrich , John Gaylord, James M Adams, P H. Bozzart, Charles B. Thompson, William Marks, Jehiel Savage, Reuben Miller, J. B. Whelan, J. W. Bartholf, Eleazar Davis, A. W. Smith
“Members of the high Council
“James J Strang
“President of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, and of the Council
“Aaron Smith Counsellor.”
(Chronicles of Voree, pp. 75, 76)

  Sidney Rigdon

Sidney Rigdon also rebelled against the authority of James.  James and various members of the church labored with him.  Finally, a conference held at Voree on October 19, 1846 , recommended that James enquire of the Lord concerning Sidney .  Rigdon eventually established his own church; which evolved into the Bickertonites.

  Revelation of October 19, 1846 .

“The General Conference of the Church of the Saints assembled at Voree on the nineteenth day of October in the year eighteen hundered and forty six having under consideration the standing of Sidney Rigdon, on of the Firist Presidents of the Church who acteth not in his presidency and cometh not up to do his duty and stand in his calling, could not sustain him with their faith and prayers; therefore they with one voice desired James J Strang the prophet of the Lord to enquire his will concerning his servant Sidney Rigdon.

“And now this is the answer of the Lord concerning him.

“Behold verily my servant Sidney Rigdon rebelleth against me and hath rebelled against me for a long time and I was grieved with him yet I felt after him and had compassion on him and remembered his faith and his labours, and reproved him by my Spirit and by afflictions and by judgements but he would none of my reproofs. Satan troubleth him and he hath sought to establish his own work and not mine; for Satan inspireth him thereto and hath enterd into him and giveth him thoughts and dreams and visions. Therefore he shall not stand in his presidency for I do take his office from him and give it unto one who will serve me.

“Therefore my servant George J. Adams shall be one of the first Presidents of my Church to stand instead of Sidney Rigdon to assist my servant James J Strang in the Presidency of my Church that my word may go forth to the ends of the earth and to all the nations thereof, to the Gentiles first and then to the Jews; for the day cometh and is near at hand when the arm of the Lord shall be revealed in power in converting the heathen and the house of Ephraim and the house of Manasseh of the gospel of their salvation.

“And the fullness of the unpolluted Gospel shall go forth to all nations and the unpolluted words of the Prophets who are in their graves shall be spoken again to men on earth, that they may know that I am God and there is none else.”
(Chronicles of Voree, pp. 118, 119)

  Testimonies For James

  God established the rule that every fact should be proved by at least two witnesses.  “15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” (Deut. 19)  “16 …in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” (Matt. 18)

When Wingfield Watson published the Revelations of James J. Strang, he included the testimony of people who he considered as unimpeachable witnesses.  “Some years ago in poring over the first volumes of the Voree Herald, the organ of the Strangites in Voree, Wis., I found the follow­ing, to me, interesting testimonies, and thinking that they would be at least as interesting to others, I have thought it well to re-publish them, and leave every man to form his own conclusion concerning them."  Those testimonies, with slight variation, are included here.

 Testimony of the Smith family.

“Nauvoo, May 11th 1846
    “Dear Brother Hedlock.

“I sit down a few moments to send a line to you, by the hand of Brother Fielding.  I have been always on good terms with you, and I hope we ever shall be, but the time has come when all the faithful elders should speak out.  I saw your wife the other day poor and broken hearted; she has now gone to Galena to get a living.  The Twelve and the brethren here have done all they could to ruin her; and gone off and left her to look out for herself, such is the charity of these men.  The Twelve are not the appointed of God, to lead the church James J. Strang has the appointment, and we have evidence of it.  The whole Smith family excepting Hyrum’s widow uphold Strang, and say this wilderness move is not of God.  Do set the saints in order in England .  My love to all the faithful. The family join in these sentiments. 

                   WM Smith.”

 “Nauvoo, May 11th 1840 .
   
“My dear son,

“For so I must call you; as there is little time left me I will be brief— The church has passed through much affliction, and it pains my heart that it should suffer more. The Twelve (Brighamites) have abused my son William and trampled upon my children; they have also treated me with contempt.  The Lords hand is in this to save the church; now mark it; these men are not right, God has not sent them to lead this kingdom; I am satisfied that Joseph appointed J. J. Strang.  It is verily so.  Now Brother Reuben I exhort you for the love you bear for the truth to hear my voice, and warn the Saints concerning these things, and your reward shall be double in the heavenly world.  This from your mother.

Lucy Smith
   
Mother in Isreal.

“This is to certify that We the undersigned members of the Smith family fully accord with the sentiments expressed above.

W.J. Salisbury,
   
Catherine Salisbury,
   
Arthur Millikin,
   
Lucy Millikin.” (Voree Herald, Vol. 1, No. 6, p. 25)

 “I have since I returned to Nauvoo last, for the first time been appraised of an appointment made by Joseph Smith to James J. Strang.  On hearing this, I took pains to gather all the evidence that could be adduced to see if there was any foundation at all for the claims of Mr. Strang.

“I called in to see sister Emma, to enquire concerning the appointment.  Sister Emma says that Joseph received a letter from Mr. Strang—Hyrum was present and he called in brother J. P. Green; at first Joseph thought all was not right, but Hyrum thought otherwise.  They talked over matters a while and came to the conclusion that Joseph would write a letter; so Joseph and brother Green went out for that purpose.

“Emma also states, that her son Joseph saw a woman come into a room in Far West Mo. and told him this church would go to Voree; the boy was only eight years old—Joesph his father was in jail at the time—the boy remembers the vision &c.  Joseph before he was martyred, when on his way from the temple hill home, saw a vision, and his mother recollects that when he came home, he put his hands upon his eyes and prayed that the vision might pass, and that he stated he heard as it were music in the Heavens, but the notes were low and sad as though they sounded the requium of martyred prophets.

“I remember myself that Joseph said; “My work is almost done, I feel that I shall rule a mighty host, but not in this world, the wolves are on the scent &c.”  Joseph bid his wife and mother farewell saying, I am going as a lamb to the slaughter; this was his impression.  And I further state that Joseph did not appoint the twelve as his successor, and I was in the last council with him, and had an opportunity of knowing and hearing his sentiments in regard to these things.

“I also heard Joseph say, that should the time ever come that Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball would lead this church, that they would lead it to hell.  This was said in the hearing of sister Emma Smith.—The whole Smith family of the Joseph stock join in sustaining J. J. Strang.

“It is to be remembered that soon after Joseph and Hyrum’s death, brother Green died, and he was heard by numerous individuals to say, that Joseph had appointed Strang.

William Smith.

“This is to certify that the Smith family do believe in the appointment of J. J. Strang.

William Smith, Patriarch.
   
Lucy Smith, Mother in Israel.
   
Arthur Milliken.
   
Nancy Milliken.
   
W. J. Salisbury.
    Catherine Salisbury.
    Sophronia McLerie.

“Nauvoo, March 1st. 1846.” (Voree Herald, Vol. 1, No. 7, p. 31)

 Note:  William Smith was Patriarch of the Church under Joseph.  John E. Page and George J. Adams were apostles in the days of Joseph Smith.

 John E. Page's Testimony

"My former letter to Brother Strang, acknowledging the theory of his claims, having been published in the Herald, (Voree) I wish to add this testimony to all the faithful; that having visited and traveled with him, and minutely investigated all the evidences produced in his favor, as well as against him, I have been compelled to acknowedge him as a prophet of God placed at the head of this dispensation.

"First--Because he alone claims the authority according to the law of God.

"Second--Because his conduct is fitting to that high calling.

"Third--Because his teachings car­ry with them the witness of the spirit.

"Fourth--Because he produces the proper works of a seer.

"Fifth--Because the evidence that he receives revelation from God is stronger than can be produced to the like fact in favor of any other man from the beginning of the world to this present moment. John E. Page

"Voree, May, 1846."

 George J. Adams' Testimony

"To the Saints Scattered Abroad;
   
"Greeting--I feel it a duty that I owe to God, the church, and the age in which I live, to make known to you some facts in relation to the present situation of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  First, then, be it known to all men that James J Strang is the President, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator to the church, appointed by Joseph Smith according to the Book of Doctrine and Covenants before his martyr­dom, and confirmed by the ministry of angels, according to the order of such calling and priesthood.  The question may be asked, How do you know that such is the fact?  I an­swer, that I know it by the same testimony that I received concerning Brother Joseph; I mean testimony from God by revelation.  I know he is the only man that has claimed that calling according to the order of the church, and Book of Doctrine and Covenants.  I know that he is the only man that is now giving proof to the nations of the earth of such calling, priesthood and authority.  My beloved brethren, you know that previous to the death of Brother Joseph, I was acting as his counsel­or and spokesman; you also know that as soon as the Twelve usurped authority, I withdrew from their unholy and pernicious councils, after which they attempted, in their illegal and usurped authority, to cast me off and blacken my character and injure my usefulness.  But you, among whom they and myself have traveled, can judge of their conduct and mine.

"After I withdrew from them and their wicked ways, I determined never to take a stand until I could take one in righteousness and truth, according to the order of the house of God.  The time has come and the man also,

"After calling upon God, in the name of his son Jesus, he conde­scended in a glorious manner to manifest his will and purpose to me concerning Brother James J. Strang; and I now bear testimony to all the world that he is a prophet, seer and revelator, appointed and chosen of God to stand in the place of Brother Joseph, to give the word of God, and hold the Keys of power that is to bear off this last dispensation.

"George J. Adams.
   
"Louisburg, Ohio, July 6, 1848 ."
    (Voree Herald, Vol. 1, No. 7.)

Testimony of Johnathan Sumner

"I Johnathan Summer, do hereby testify that I was present at the conference held at Nauvoo soon after the Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, which was called by those who sought to place Sidney Rigdon at the head of the church.  While in conversation with a num­ber of elders, talking on the ques­tion of Sidney Rigdon's right to lead, John P. Green, marshal of the city, said; 'They need not trouble themselves about it, for Joseph had appointed one to stand in his stead.'  I asked him why he was not here to take his place?  He said he was not ready, but would be here 'after a time.'  I asked him where he lived, and he said, `Up north a consider­able distance.'  I asked his name and he said, 'Strang, James J. Strang.'  I asked, what sort of a man, and he said, 'A young man.'  I then asked whether he had ever been in Nauvoo, and he said he had been, and that Joseph baptized him."

"Johnathan Sumner.
    "Voree,
June 30, 1846.
    "Signed in the presence of "Benjamin C. Ellsworth,
    "George Eberson,
    "Phineas Wright."

Note--"John P. Green died very mysteriously a few days after the above statement."‑-Voree Herald, No. 8 Vol,. 1.

 Gen. George Miller's Testimony.

The following is from the pen of Gen. George Miller, after some six years' suffering, privations and op­pression, under the hands of both Brigham Young and Lyman Wight:

"But when I came to look about me, and fully realize the distracted condition of the church in their scattered situation, without a shep­herd that I knew of, I felt in my heart that I was a mourner, and be­came almost weary of life.  While in this state of mind I had a dream, in which I saw Joseph Smith in the heavens in a glorified state, to­gether with countless numbers of glorified beings, shouting hallelu­jah, praising God and the Lamb, and bidding me welcome to the celes­tial abode.

"A thin veil separated us, and their brilliancy was whiter and brighter than the sun, Joseph spoke to me, and told me that if I would come I might, but I had best not come as my work was not yet finished on earth.

"At this time the spirit of prais­ing God came upon me and I shout­ed.  Whereupon part of my family having not retired to bed hearing me, supposed I had the nightmare and pulled me from my bed.  When I awoke my eyes were so affected from the light I had seen that I could not for a time distinguish the surrounding objects.

"On another occasion I had a dream that I saw Joseph Smith sit­ting in a room talking to a person whom I have since seen.  Upon my entering the room he (Joseph) look­ed at me, saying, God bless you, Brother Miller.  I am instructing my successor in the prophetic office, how to manage and conduct the af­fairs of the church.

"The appearance of this person­age shown me by Joseph Smith, in this dream was so stamped on my mind that I could not keep it from my mind for a single moment, and it was secretly whispered that I would soon hear news that would cheer my drooping spirit."

Further along in his history Bro­ther Miller tells us that soon after this vision certain papers with the tract called the Diamond, setting forth the claims of James J. Strang to succeed Joseph in the prophetic of­fice arrived.  After giving it "a close and critical investigation" he says that he was thoroughly convinced of the truthfulness of those claims.  “From this time,” he says, “I had frequent manifestations of Brother Strang being called of God to lead the church even as Moses.”
    (Northern Islander, Oct. 11 and 18, 1855)

Testimony of Young Joseph (The prophet’s eldest son)

“There comes to mind a circum­stance which occurred about this time (1840) which was attended by some degree of mystery.  It was my habit to take a nap in the after­noon upon a bed or couch in the bedroom.  The house had two room's, one the living or ‘keeping’ room and the other a bedroom.  Into this latter the door leading from the keeping room opened inwardly, op­posite a window in the end of the building.  My mother was washing in the larger room and I, lying upon the bed in the chamber, was awak­ened by someone coming through the door and across the room past me.  It was a man apparently from thirty‑five to forty‑five years of age, sparely built, wearing dark clothing somewhat shabby, and having on his head a rather tall crowned hat, napless, as was the custom of the time.  He passed to the window and turned to came back toward the door, saying as he did so, "We will all have to go to the land of Voree ."

“Reaching the door he turned again and came back toward the window.  As he turned at the window the second time to again pass by the bed he repeated what ho had said before, ‘We will all have to go to to the land of Voree :'

“When the man returned to the door the second time he passed out, as I supposed, into the room where my mother was, I called to her and asked her who the man was.  She wanted to know to what man I referred.  I told her about the man I had seen in the room and repeated what he had said.  She had not seen him, nor did either of us see him after, though we went at once to the door to look for him.  He was fairly tall, being a little over medi­um height, and had, a clean shaven face.  I relate the circumstance because it impressed me at the time and because it is a mystery that has never since been solved.’ ”
   
(Memoirs of Joseph Smith, Saints Herald, Nov. 6, 1934, page 1415)

Jason W. Briggs Testimony

Jason Briggs was one of the founders of the Reorganized LDS Church .  In a letter from Samuel Bacon to Jason Briggs, published in the Northern Islander on July 31, 1851 , it is noted that Briggs claimed to have had a vision in which he saw Joseph Smith write the letter of appointment to Mr. Strang.

“I will now notice the argument, powerful as it may be, which you assert you have found upon examination, touching the letter of appointment. But what examination can this be to which you have found out that you spoke that which was not true? When you declared in public congregations, and at your own fire side, and at the fireside of your neighbors, that Joseph Smith wrote with his own hand the ‘letter of appointment,’ (for you saw him in a vision,) and your surprise and faith in the ‘knocking spirits’ of New York , from the fact they asserted the same?”

L. D. Hickey's Testimony

L. D. Hickey was one of the Twelve Apostles under James.  He lived to be the last of the Apostles.

“(The following statements were written to Charles Strang, and are now in my possession. Stanley L. Johnston.)

“It seems to be my duty as well as privilege to suggest a few ideas, after my very interesting visit.  And when I say interesting, I mean more than my language expresses.  It brought the days of other years to my mind, even the happiest days of my life‑-when I met Charlie­--as he came out of the dark room into the business room, as he turned his back, and as he walked, it brought back such a sensation that I love to think of them, just the form, just the turn, and it seemed as though I almost stood in the printing office of other years where James J. Strang stood, and met and parted with kind friends.

“It is true it was not a reality--­but it (was) a copy of the man we all loved‑-and how could I help but feel well in my mind, and do to this day….”

“When James was shot, I soon came home from Wis. instead of sneaking off as some did and sending for families.  No gentlemen, I got a letter at Wis., from the Captain of the Propeller and got the medicine they sent for, and hastened to the place where the good man lay--even then the mob were on the alert, and I stood to my post when ex­posed to their shots.  And when the word came that he wanted E. Chidister and L. D. Hickey-‑I felt it an honor as I do to this day to be one that was to stand by him through the storm.  And all I ask of my Father in heaven is to have a home in his glory-‑even where the Father will place him.

“But let the curtain fall, until the sleeping dust shall arise and then, instead of being the object of scorn and ridicule a Crown of King and Martyr will be his to wear.  And it will be his to be honored, as one who like Moses, tried to save the people from the ways of sin and death.  Sirs, think not that I talk fiction for it is all a fact….”

“As to why or what men may say about your father being King, etc.  He was accused and tried before the highest court of the United States­ and was acquitted.  And treason was one of the charges.  But when the judge heard our faith and had the Whys, etc., etc., laid before him, he told the jury that the Latter Day Saints held to this order as a pre­paratory work for the millennium and that we had a scriptural and constitutional right to have a King and Kingdom, and that ended the greatest test trial that has been since Pilate's day….”

“I have stood by the man James J. Strang in the day of his prosperity-‑I have known him as a prophet of God, as a citizen, as a neighbor, as a business man and I lie not when I say if he had faults I never knew them.  Before his death I was often before the public and I had no cause to make apologies for his faults--and since his death I have been prouder than ever I ever was associated with that just man.

“I visited Voree when your father was there, I lived on the island al­so-‑and when men talk of thieves and murderers I only ask, who has been murdered, and who has been robbed and who has stole?  Let these questions be answered--and what is the reply--Mr. Strang was shot, his family robbed of a whole printing press and his worthy fam­ily sent out into a cold hearted world, without a home, and all his choice books which he had gathered for the good of poor and rich were stolen (or most of them).  Men must not throw stones who live in glass houses.” (The Revelations of James J. Strang, by Wingfield Watson)

Newspapers of the Time

From the Northern Islander, May, 31, 1855.

“Camp of Israel—Twelvites--Rigdonites and Voree Mormons.--We stated yesterday that the emigrating Mormons had assumed the cognomen of the ‘Camp of Israel,’ which we are informed includes the awful corrupt ‘Twelve,’ the ‘Danites,’ the ‘Destroying Angels,’ and most of the ‘bogus makers,’ ‘Thieves,’ ‘assassins,’ ‘police,’ and ‘vulgar herd,’ of that strange people.  From  the best information we can obtain, and we have taken some pains, they are as corrupt a set of ‘land pirates’ as ever disgraced the earth; though they are much to be pitied on account of the suffering women and children, who are emigrating with them.  The poverty and actual suffering of these poor creatures are enough to sicken the heart of all feeling persons, while it should satisfy all who have comfortable raiment, and a sufficiency of food, with their condition in life, and learn them ‘to be therewith content.’  The people of Illinois have determined that all the Mormons, of every clique shall leave the State.  There are  now three principal cliques of Mormons - 1st. The ‘Twelveites,’ who are moving off somewhere to the west, with the most corrupt, abandoned, licentious, low and groveling portion of the church, now called the ‘Camp of Israel.’  2d. The ‘Rigdonites’ who are locating their ‘ Zion ’ near Chambersburgh , Pennsylvania .  They include in their number, it is said, many excellent men and estimable citizens, who left the Twelveites in consequence of their “spiritual wife doctrine” and other abominations.  3rd.  The ‘Voree Mormons’ who acknowledge James J. Strang, Esq., as their prophet.--This portion of the church is evidently the most orderly and law-abiding, and includes most of the talent and virtue of that people.  They are rapidly increasing in numbers, and most of the churches out of Nauvoo have declared for ‘Strang and Voree;’ and ‘ Voree , Wisconsin,’ is to be the ‘great gathering place’ of the sincere and virtuous portion of the ‘Latter Day Saints.’— Ohio Union .

“Voree is the location of the ‘primitive Mormons,’ under the new Prophet, James J. Strang, Esq., an attorney at law, and formerly a political editor in New York--said to be a man of superior talents.  The most worthy of the Mormon Twelve Apostles, have gone over to the ‘Voree Mormons,’ and many thousands are joining the standard of the new Prophet. Most of the talented and well disposed members throughout the country have united with the ‘Voree Mormons.’ Should they avoid the errors of the old Mormon ‘Twelve’ whose bad counsels and iniquitous practices resulted in the death of their former Prophet and Patriarch, and pursue a prudent course with a wise Presidency and Councilors, and an able and intellectual Presidency and Counselors, they will never be molested.  It was the ‘bogus’ making, thieving, plundering and assassin like operations of the ‘Brighamite or Twelveite administration of the Mormon Church,’ which rendered them so odious in the eyes of all well disposed people.  The vicious portion of them are emigrating beyond the pale of civilization into the wilderness.--Plymouth Rock.

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James J. Strang, The Revelator