Strang, The King
Home Strang, The Martyred Prophet

 

James J. Strang was ordained an Apostle, Prophet, Lawgiver, and spiritual King in Zion the same hour that Joseph Smith was martyred in Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844 .  Both Joseph and James were first degree Apostles, Lawgivers, and spiritual Kings in Zion .  The office may be given either as a spiritual office, or with both spiritual and civil authority (dominion).  Adam, Noah, Shem, and Moses were all spiritual Kings; but having a dominion, they ruled over both the spiritual and civil affairs of the people.   Jesus could only be a spiritual King.  Judea was captive under the Roman government; and already had a civil king.  James was crowned as King in Zion on Beaver Island with a dominion on July 8, 1850 .  He was assassinated by apostates and died on July 9, 1856 .  James is to return as a King in Zion before the return of Jesus (see James J. Strang, The Deliverer).  When Jesus returns, He will be King with dominion over the whole earth.

CHAPTER SEVEN:
JAMES J. STRANG, THE KING

 Kingdom of God
    Officers in the Kingdom
    Government of the Kingdom
    Kings
    Kingdom with a Dominion
    Final Kingdom

Kingdom of God

  Governments of man resemble the kingdom of God .  The kingdom of God consists of laws, officers to provide and administer those laws, and members who have been properly admitted into the kingdom.  All men are born aliens to the kingdom.  Even Jesus had to obey the gospel to enter the kingdom of God .

The kingdom of God exists on the earth anytime there is a duly authorized officer of the Melchisedec Priesthood.  All officers of the Melchisedec Priesthood are given evangelical authority to preach the gospel, confirm members into the kingdom through baptism of water and the Spirit, and administer the Eucharist.  Jesus never preached the gospel; until after He received the Melchisedec Priesthood.  Government of the kingdom only exists when there is a Prophet of God on the earth.  Unlike worldly governments the kingdom is ruled by men who have direct communication with God; and are not permitted any degree of injustice.  The final authority in the kingdom is direct communication with God through the Prophet.  When there is no Prophet on the earth, there is no ruling authority.

Joseph Smith wrote to the saints from Liberty Jail, “the rights, of the priesthood, are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven; and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled, only upon the   of righteousness, that they may be conferred upon us, it is true, but when we undertake to cover our sins, to gratify our pride, vain ambition, or to exercise dominion or compulsion over the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness; behold the heavens withdraw themselves, the Spirit of the Lord is grieved, then amen to the priesthood, or to the authority of that man.” (History of the Church, Vol.1, p. 31)

The first difference between the government of man and the kingdom of God is the kingdom has officers with spiritual authority over the souls of man in eternity.  Their basic duty is to preach the gospel and administer its saving ordinances.  Every officer of the Melchisedec Priesthood is called and ordained to this divine authority and duty.  They may also bless infants so their hearts will turn to the will of God. They can bless and administer the holy Eucharist.  They can marry members of the kingdom for time and eternity; and adopt for the same.  “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19)  Marriage among unbelievers is “until death do you part.”  If we want to be the master of our destiny in eternity, there are many important reasons to “seek ye first the kingdom of God , and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33)

Although the terms the “ kingdom of God ” and “kingdom of heaven” only occur in the New Testament, it is obvious that it exists whenever there is an officer of the kingdom empowered to both preach the gospel and administer all of its saving ordinances.  Adam was certainly a member of the kingdom of God .  Jesus taught, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God .” (John 3:5)  John the Baptist only held divine authority to baptize with water.  When Jesus restored the Melchisedec Priesthood, the kingdom of God was once again on the earth.  “Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5:10)

Abraham preached the gospel and partook of the sacrament with Melchisedec.  “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8) “18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” (Gen. 14)   Moses preached the gospel and baptized in his day.  “And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea [born of water and the Spirit].” (1 Cor. 10:2)

Members of the kingdom are bound by an oath to worship only GOD, honor Jesus as their Savior, and obey the laws of the kingdom.  When there is only a spiritual kingdom, members are bound to the law of God through voluntary submission. Punishment for rebellion and disobedience extends only to removal from either the priesthood, or as members of the kingdom.  Such reprobation will cause one to suffer with the spirits in prison (hell).

Others who live within the community are not bound by oath; but, are expected to voluntarily live according to the same laws.  When the kingdom is established with a dominion, all that live within the dominion are bound by oath to live by the law of God.  “10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, 11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: 13 And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.” (Deut. 31)

This oath is called the everlasting covenant; and is given to every generation who are members of the kingdom; and to all that live within the dominion of the kingdom.  The choice to make and live by the oath always rests upon individual members.  “9 Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do… 12 That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: 13 That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” (Deut. 29)

The covenant requires members to worship only the true and living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, honor Jesus as their Savior, and live by the law of God.  It was given through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and in all generations when the kingdom of God was established either spiritually or spiritually with civil authority (dominion).

The everlasting covenant was renewed every eighth of July under James.  “4. As oft as this day returneth shall all the Saints assemble themselves together. It shall be a holy convocation. They shall assemble in their Temples , and in the Synagogues, and public places, to offer a thankoffering, an offering of praise unto God, because he has given the Kingdom to the Saints… 12. And when thou hast eaten, thou shalt say unto the Lord thy God, I have come into the land which thou gavest to thy Saints:  I have heard thy Law, and have entered into covenant with thee to keep thy Commandments; and I have eaten of the sacrifice before thee as a witness forever” (Book of the Law, p. 293, 295)

After the death of Moses, the covenant was renewed every seven years.  “10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, 11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.” (Deut. 31)

The annual renewal of the everlasting covenant was part of sacrificing and feasting after the establishment of the dominion under James.  It was lost with his death.  Members of the kingdom today are required to renew the oath every seven years. “20. At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year [July 8], when all the children of the Kingdom are gathered together before the Lord in Temples, and in Tabernacles, and all the people are assembled, Princes and Nobles, men, and women, and children, and the stranger that dwelleth in your gates, ye shall read this law before them all, in their hearing, and shall make it know in the midst of them.

“21. And your children, and the strangers dwelling in your gates, that have not heart it, shall learn this Law, and ye shall all remember it again, and shall all lift up your hands, and shall enter into covenant with the Lord your God to keep this Law, and to obey his statutes, that he may prolong your days upon the land.” (Book of the Law, pp. 208, 209)

This everlasting covenant was to be renewed every seven years beginning on July 8, 1850 .  I do not have a record of the people renewing the covenant on July 8, 1857 .  During the Hixton, Wisconsin , conference on December 25, 1863 , “Bro. W. Post offers a resolution:  Shall we not meet in Conference the 8th of July 1864 , to again enter into Covenant to keep the law, etc?  Moved and seconded that there be a conference held on the 8th day of July next, 1864.”

If we take July 8, 1850 , and add seven year increments, 1997, became a year to obey the law and renew the everlasting covenant.  Elder Samuel E. West led in the renewal of this covenant in a telephone conference of those members who chose to obey this law of God.

  Officers in the Kingdom

  All officers in the kingdom of God must be called of God by the spirit of prophesy through the mouth of one holding that authority; and be ordained by one holding that authority.  “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4)  Not even Jesus was exempt from this rule (Heb. 5:5).  Aaron was called by revelation through Moses; as a Priest and head of the Levitical Priesthood.  Joshua was called by revelation and ordained through Moses; as a second degree Apostle and Prophet to stand at the head of the Melchisedec Priesthood and the people after his death.  They were both ordained by Moses who held a higher degree of priesthood (first degree Apostle).

No kingdom can stand without laws and officers to interpret, administer, and enforce those laws.  These officers have been the same since Adam; and are to remain “Till we all come in the unity of the faith.”

Jesus organized the kingdom with the same officers as Prophets before Him.  “11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [high priests]; and some, pastors [elders] and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Eph. 4)

Jesus was called of God as an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver like unto Moses.  “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.” (Acts 3:22 )

Jesus then called and ordained the other officers of the kingdom with divine authority to preach the gospel and administer its saving ordinances.  “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” (Mark 3:14 )  It is not written in the Bible how many High Priests were called during the time of Jesus and the Apostles.  Since many High Priests are also known as Evangelists, and Jesus called Evangelists, the office certainly existed during the Apostolic Era.  High Priests stand in authority below the Twelve Apostles.  Eusebius noted there were many of these during the first generation after the Apostles.  Both Jesus and the Apostles called Elders (pastors) of the Melchisedec Priesthood.  Seventy traveling Elders comprise a quorum.  “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.” (Luke 10:1)  “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (Acts 14:23 )

The gospel was not given in word alone; but, also with power (divine authority) to administer the ordinances of the gospel.  “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance [faith]; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” (1 Thess. 1:5)  Through calling and ordination to the Melchisedec Priesthood, men receive divine authority to have their ordinances recorded in heaven.  “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19)

The law of God provides, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain:  thou shalt not usurp dominion as a ruler; for the name of the Lord thy God is great and glorious above all other names: he is above all, and is the only true God:  the only just and upright King over all: he alone hath the right to rule; and in his name, only he to whom he granteth it: whosoever is not chosen of him, the same is a usurper, and unholy:  the Lord will not hold him guiltless, for he taketh his name in vain.” (Book of the Law, p. 20)

James wrote in the Book of the Law, “Ordination, “1. The Scriptures, in all their parts, show very clearly that no one can lawfully exercise any Priestly office, except he is duly called and duly consecrated to that particular Priesthood.  Though many Priests are spoken of, and nothing said  of the manner in which they were inducted into the Priesthood; as often as that manner is mentioned, it is shown to be a calling by the word of God, and a setting apart by the hands of those who hold the same or superiour power.  This has been the uniform rule in every dispensation, whatever the nature or duties of the Priesthood or calling. Kings were called by revelation, anointed, and ordained; and those not so called, were deemed usurpers.

“2. No instance is given in the oracles of God of men, for want of a valid Priesthood, selecting one among themselves, and elevating him to be their Priest, and thus conferring on him a true Priesthood.  On the contrary, God has instituted a Priesthood by direct revelation, and the ministration of   Angels, as often as the Priesthood, or the superiour grade of  it, was lost on earth.” (Book of the Law, pp. 164, 165)

James wrote, “1. By the first Commandment God establishes a government among men, which he makes supreme in all things.  But as every government, besides laws and the sovereign power whence they emanate, must also have officers by whom the laws shall be administered; so those officers must derive their authority from the sovereign, in legal form.

“2. All officers act in the name of him from whom they de-rive their authority.   In the several American States the official acts of most State officers are done “in the name of the people of the State.”

“3. Officers of the Federal Government, act ‘in the name of the United States of America .’  In the monarchies of Europe , official acts are done ‘in the name’ of the sovereign. And in voluntary societies and corporations, the officers act ‘in the name’ of the society or corporation.

“4. It therefore appears that to act in the name of any one, is to act by his authority; and to act in the name of God, is to act by his authority.

“5. Hence taking the name of God in vain, is taking his authority without being authorized; it is attempting to govern, without being called to that office; in any matter wherein God has declared a law, and appointed an administrator of the law.

“6. It follows, therefore, that every form of government among men, which was not instituted of God, is a usurpation, (Zech. xiv, 9, 17, Dan. ii, 44. vii, 14. Rev. xi, 15,) and that every exercise of the proper functions of government under it, is a taking of the name of God in vain, as every exercise of functions not proper to government, is tyranny.

“7. Priests made by the authority of man, and not called of God; Priests who constantly profess to have received no dispensation from God, and who deny that he has revealed himself to any for eighteen hundred years, do constantly administer in his name, as boldly as though they were sent by him.

“8. They baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and   the Holy Spirit; they go about doing works in the assumed power and might of God’s ministers, of whom Jesus Christ said, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’ (Matt vii, 23.)

“9. He did not deny that they had preached, prophesied, or worked miracles in his name.  He denounced them as workers of iniquity, because they were unknown to him; that is, were not his ministers.  They took God’s name in vain.

“10. God has appointed a door to the priesthood; a call of God by revelation, and an ordaining by the hands of his ministers; (Heb. v, 4. Ex. xxviii, l. 1st Tim. iv, 14. Acts vii, 35;) and Christ declares that he that comes not in by the door, but climbs up some other way, is a thief and a robber. (John x, 1.)” (Book of the Law, pp. 20, 21)

Those ministers of sectarian Christianity who are not called of God by the spirit of prophesy and ordained by one holding that office; and who hold none of the offices established by God, will not have their works recorded in heaven.  “22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  and in thy name have cast out devils?  and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock [revelation].” Matt. 7)

There are only two orders of the priesthood in the kingdom of God :  the Melchisedec and Levitical Priesthoods.  The Levitical Priesthood was initiated under Moses; because of the transgressions of the people to administer the new added temporal law.  The Melchisedec Priesthood is necessary to administer all of the saving ordinances of the gospel; and has existed since Adam.  John the Baptist, a Priest of the Levitical Priesthood, held divine authority to baptize only with water.  Jesus, holding the Melchisedec Priesthood, held divine authority to also baptize with the Spirit.  This same authority was given to the Twelve Apostles, to High Priests, and to Elders.

There are two basic divisions within the Melchisedec Priesthood.  Evangelical authority only holds divine authority to preach the gospel and administer its ordinances.  The twelve Apostles only held authority to ordain evangelical High Priests.  “It is the duty of the Twelve, in all large branches of the church, to ordain evangelical ministers, as they shall be designated unto them by revelation.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 107:39)  An evangelical High Priest only holds authority to ordain other evangelical High Priests and (evangelical) Elders.  Elders are commanded “to ordain other [evangelical] elders, priests, teachers, and deacons.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 20:39)

Royal authority (presiding and standing authority) represents the government of the kingdom.  The Prophet stands at the head of all royal authority on the earth.  All presiding and royal authority exists only under the direction of the Prophet, who is the President of the church; and has direct communication with God. It is only given through one who stands higher in royal authority.  “2. Whosoever is called by the voice of God to the royal authority, shall be anointed and ordained by the hands of those who stand in royal authority above him:  but he that is first, by the angels of God.”  (Book of the Law, p. 163)  Joseph and James both stood as first degree Apostles and Lawgivers and were therefore ordained at the hands of angels who held that authority during mortal life.  Jesus was ordained to the highest office under the hands of the Father (Heb. 5:5).

Government of the Kingdom

  Government of the kingdom of God has always been administered by a Prophet of God.  Adam, Noah, and Moses were all first degree Apostles and Kings with a dominion.  Joshua was called and ordained a second degree Apostle and Prophet through Moses to succeed him.  A chain of Apostles and Prophets continued until the death of Malachi—about 400 years before Jesus.

In the kingdom of God the Legislative, executive, and judicial powers are all vested in a first degree Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver.  “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, 107)

James wrote concerning the office of Lawgiver, “1. There is no word in language which properly expresses the varied duties of this Priesthood.  It is the greatness of the everlasting [Melchisedec] Priesthood; and has all the gifts, and all the keys conferred on man.  It is so full of itself that it carries the Church of God with it, and can both institute and act in place of every other Priesthood.” (Book of the Law, pp. 214, 214)

Lawgivers hold both spiritual and royal authority in the kingdom of God on the earth.  They must be called by direct revelation from God; and ordained at the hands of angels.  Only one Lawgiver can exist on the earth at the same time; as they are the highest authority in the kingdom on earth (next to Jesus).  Only a first degree Apostle and Lawgiver is permitted by God to give revelations and commandments to the Church of Christ .  They stand as the center of legislative, executive, and judicial authority.

The U. S. Constitution provides for a division of power between the three branches of the government.  The legislative power of the United States is vested in the Congress and House of Representatives.  Executive power is vested in the President. Judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court; and lower courts appointed by the Congress.

Only a first degree Apostle has power over all three of these branches of the kingdom.  He also maintains evangelical authority and duties.  James traveled extensively preaching the gospel; and left a treasure of writings on the gospel and the kingdom of God .  As the legislative branch, a Lawgiver is the only one that holds divine authority to give revelations and commandments to the kingdom.  “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 (Oliver Cowdery) 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.” (Ibid., 28)  Oliver Cowdery was a second degree Apostle; and member of the Presidency below Joseph in royal (ruling) authority.  The President is the standard interpreter and expounder of the law.

As President and King, he stands at the head of the executive branch.  He also stands at the head of the judicial branch of the kingdom.  The High Council stands in the kingdom similar to the Supreme Court in the United States .  Its organization is composed of the President of the church, two other members of Presidency (if so called), and twelve High Priests (in no case less than seven).  The President can also transact business alone.  It is called by revelation from God; and in certain cases a judgment of the High Council may be appealed.  The President then obtains the will of God in the matter.  From such there is no appeal.

“9 The president of the church, who is also the president of the council, is appointed by revelation, and acknowledged in his administration by the voice of the church. 10 And it is according to the dignity of his office that he should preside over the council of the church; and it is his privilege to be assisted by two other presidents, appointed after the same manner that he himself was appointed. 11 And in case of the absence of one or both of those who are appointed to assist him, he has power to preside over the council without an assistant; and in case he himself is absent, the other presidents have power to preside in his stead, both or either of them… 18 In all cases the accuser and the accused shall have a privilege of speaking for themselves before the council, after the evidences are heard and the councilors who are appointed to speak on the case have finished their remarks. 19 After the evidences are heard, the councilors, accuser and accused have spoken, the president shall give a decision according to the understanding which he shall have of the case, and call upon the twelve councilors to sanction the same by their vote… 23 In case of difficulty respecting doctrine or principle, if there is not a sufficiency written to make the case clear to the minds of the council, the president may inquire and obtain the mind of the Lord by revelation.” (Ibid., 102:9)

A primary difference between the handling of cases in the kingdom is that it is the duty of every member to first make their best effort to resolve any conflict.  Transgressions of a member of the kingdom are not for public dissemination.  “88 And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled. 89 And if he or she confess not thou shalt deliver him or her up unto the church, not to the members, but to the elders.  And it shall be done in a meeting, and that not before the world.” (Ibid., 42)  Jesus gave the same law, “15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” (Matt. 18)  If there is a real offense, the offender must be labored with.  It is required of all members in the kingdom to love their brethren and to forgive.  Disputations are resolved at the earliest opportunity.

The first High Council was organized on February 17, 1834 .  “This High Council was appointed by revelation, for the purpose of settling important difficulties which might arise in the Church, which could not be settled by the Church, or the Bishop’s council to the satisfaction of the parties.” (Kirtland Council Minute Book, p. 26)

James J. Strang organized the High Council at a conference on April 6, 1846 .  “Resolved unanimously that in the opinion of this conference the First Presidency ought to call a Council of Twelve High Priests for the trial of such members of the Quorum of Twelve as have been cited to appear here and have not answered or appeared.” (Chronicles of Voree, p. 66)

Other lower courts were established for hearing cases in the hope of an early resolution.  Moses tried to hear all cases; but, was burdened by such.  His father-in-law Jethro—a High Priest—assisted in organizing various judges as “rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” (Ex. 18).  With the organization of the High Council, if a defendant was not satisfied with a decision, he had the right to appeal to the High Council.  Many of the cases heard were appealed from lower courts.  Some lower courts were organized under Joseph before the High Council.  He noted, “I have never set before any council in all the order in which a council ought to be conducted, which, perhaps, has deprived the council of some, or many blessings.  He said that no man was capable of judging a matter in council without his heart was pure, and that we frequently are so filled with prejudice, or have a beam in our own eye, that we are not capable of passing right decisions… Our acts are recorded, and at a future day they will be laid before us, and if we should fail to judge right and injure our fellow beings, they may there, perhaps, condemn us; then they are of great consequence, and to me the consequence appears to be of force beyond anything which I am able to express &c. Ask yourselves, brethren, how much you have exercised yourselves in prayer since you heard of this council; and if you are now prepared to sit in judgment upon the soul of your brother… doubtless some errors have been committed.” (Ibid., pp. 22, 25)

Most cases were resolved simply by bringing the disputing parties together; and understanding the disputation between them.  In the Introduction to the Far West Record it is noted, “it should be pointed out that whatever the charge, a humble confession was, almost without exception, rewarded with forgiveness and the hand of fellowship without any period of waiting.”

One Elder under Joseph had rebelled and joined the Methodists.  At the November 22, 1835 , High Council meeting, this Elder “came forward before the Church and confessed that he had been in temptation and fallen into error, so much so as to go and join the Methodists, yet says he was not in faith with their doctrine. He now says he desires to return to the fellowship of the Church and asks forgiveness of the brethren and a restoration of his license… President Rigdon then called for the vote of the Church & received it in favor of restoring him to fellowship and the office of Elder also, and that the clerk give him a license.” (Kirtland Council Minute Book, p. 150)

The organization of the kingdom of God is to provide equal rights for all before the law of God.  The due process of the kingdom was outlined by James.  Although specifically writing about cutting off members, the due process system applies equally to both membership and priesthood.  James wrote that all priesthood is valid until regularly taken away.  It is necessary, “1st. That he be accused of some act forbidden, or of neglecting some thing commanded by the law of God. 2d, that he brought or required to appear before some quorum or council having jurisdiction of both the person and the offence. 3d, that he have a trial. 4th, that his defense be heard. 5th, that on such trial he be condemned. 6th, that sentence of excommunication be passed upon him.

“If any of these facts be lacking the individual concerned is not cut off from the church nor his standing therein in any way affected. The vote of excommunication in such case would be utterly void, and the church have nothing to do but to disregard it. It is not even necessary to appeal from it, for the judgment being a mere nullity there is nothing to appeal from.” (Voree Herald, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 11)

Through such a strict system of justice, there is no allowance for injustice.  The first rule of order is for anyone that feels offended to make every effort to resolve the difficulty between the parties involved.  Brotherly love and labor must be extensively used prior to any court action.

Apostle John E. Page wrote, “BEAR WITH ONE ANOTHER.--Paul says, ‘Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.’ I will add, bear ye each other's weaknesses, and so show yourselves saints and men of fortitude, that are not discouraged at trifles. Remember, the church of God is a great moral hospital, in which mankind are to be healed of their constitutional and moral infirmities, weaknesses and disabilities. It is often a manifest weakness in one to take offence or be offended with the weakness of another. Soundness of moral fortitude is one of the noble principles of manhood. He that is destitute of it is not fit to be a king or priest in the kingdom of God .” (Gospel Herald, Vol. 3, No. 87, p. 104/416)

All standing (royal) authority in the government of the kingdom emanates from the Presidency (the President and Councilors, if called).  No person is authorized to rule in any capacity; except under the direction of the Presidency.  “10 High priests after the order of the Melchizedek Priesthood have a right to officiate in their own standing, under the direction of the presidency, in administering spiritual things, and also in the office of an elder, priest (of the Levitical order), teacher, deacon, and member… 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.” (Ibid., 107)

In the interim between Lawgivers a second degree Apostle and Prophet may be called to hold divine authority over the executive, judicial, and evangelical activities of the kingdom.  Only a second degree Apostle can stand at the head in the absence of a Lawgiver (Book of the Law, p. 219).  He has no legislative authority; and cannot give revelations and commandments to the kingdom.  Joshua succeeded Moses in this capacity.  Only first and second degree Apostles are Prophets of God.

Second degree Apostles and Prophets were called by direct revelation and ordained by the first degree Apostle.  With the President they represent the Presidency of the church.  “2 Which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was called of God, and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the first elder [first degree Apostle] of this church; 3 And to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the second elder [second degree Apostle] of this church, and ordained under his hand.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 20)  When there is no Prophet (either first, or second degree Apostle), there is no legal government of the kingdom; as only evangelical authority remains.  Dozens of articles in official church journals notes this rule.

“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, at its militant head.” (Zion’s Reveille, Vol. 2, No. 8, p. 29/81; Vol. 2. No. 9, p. 32/84)

The Lord of heaven never did, nor does not now, nor never will know the Church of Latter Day Saints to exist, in a legal point of light, without such a President at its head as President Strang is in point of office and calling.”— Zion ’s Reveille, Vol. II, No. 6, p. 21.” (Gospel Herald, Vol. 4, p. 303/891)

Kings

  There are four types of Kings in the kingdom of God .  First, God is King over the universe.  Second, Jesus holds the highest office of King; as King over the whole earth--over all other Kings.  He will take dominion over the earth when He returns.  “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev. 19:16)

The third is the superior office of King; which is a Prophet of God, standing as the highest authority over the people.  This can be either a first degree Apostle, such as Moses, or a second degree Apostle, such as Joshua.  Moses placed a part of his authority upon Joshua.  “22 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: 23 And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.” (Num. 27)  As Joshua stood below Moses, but was to stand at the head of the people in the Melchisedec Priesthood after the death of Moses, he had to hold the office of second degree Apostle.

James taught that the superior Kingly office is an appendage to that of Prophet.  First and second degree Apostles both holds the office of King.  “3. The Kingly office has oftenest been merely an appendage of the Prophetick.  When not possessed of a dominion, it can exercise no civil prerogative, except by voluntary submission.” (Book of the Law, P. 178)

The fourth is referred to as the inferior office of King; as he is not a Prophet.  They hold the office of High Priest.  These are called of God through a Prophet of God.  They can also be removed from the office by a Prophet of God; as in the case of Saul.  The inferior Kings in Israel —Saul, David, Solomon—were called by the voice of God.

All Prophets of God also hold the spiritual office of King.  Jesus and Joseph Smith only held the office of spiritual King.  Their ruling authority came through the voluntary submission of the people to the law of God; and to their spiritual royal authority.

After the death of Joshua, the Lord called Prophet Judges to conduct all of the affairs of Israel . This order remained until Israel desired a civil King like the heathen around them.  Saul was called and anointed of God as an inferior King [High Priest] through the Prophet Samuel.  The office of High Priest stands below that of Apostle and Prophet.  “Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel : now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.” (1 Sam. 15:1)  Due to the evil that Saul became involved, he was removed from the Kingly office; and David was called of God to be their King.  Saul, David, and Solomon each ruled forty years.  A year after the death of Solomon the house of Israel was divided into Judah (the tribe of Judah, Benjamin, and half of Manasseh) and Israel (the other tribes of Israel )

“20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. 23 Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.” (Acts 13)  Jesus was the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah , and the house of David.

Joseph Smith and James J. Strang were Apostles, Prophets, and Lawgivers.  This office includes all other offices in the kingdom.  They were both spiritual Kings in Zion .

Kingdom with a Dominion

  Royal authority exists with a Prophet of God with either spiritual authority, or with both spiritual and civil authority in a dominion.  This type of civil government is called a Theocracy, “government by a person or persons claiming to rule with divine authority.” Spiritual officers in the kingdom are also civil officers in the government.  All persons living within the dominion are bound by the law of God.

William Marks wrote of Joseph secretly introducing a kingly form of government with Princes.  Officers in the kingdom of God are not to act in secret.  “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29)  As there is no evidence of a revelation from God concerning such an action, it could have been an error which contributed to the death of Joseph.

The first dominion in the last days was not to go to Joseph; but to James.  The prophet Micah prophesied of the first dominion of the kingdom in the last days under James, its fall, the scattering of the saints, and the final gathering of the worthy.  “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.” (Micah 4)  James noted in numerous sermons that this prophecy addressed him.

James J. Strang was evidently called as spiritual King at the same time of his ordination as Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver.  In verse six he was called by revelation in 1850, to be a civil King with dominion.  6. He hath chosen his servant James to be King: he hath made him his Apostle to all nations:  he hath established him a Prophet, above the Kings of the earth; and appointed him King in Zion :  by his own voice did he call him, and he sent his Angels unto him to ordain him. [Revelation of James]

7. 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. [Ordination of James]” (Book of the Law, p. 169)

James became the President and King of the spiritual kingdom on June 27, 1844 .  The confirmation of James to the office of King with dominion was on July 8, 1850 .  “We again proceed with our record:  after having ordained to the several grades of Priesthood all that God was pleased to call & also tried some of the old members for their transgressions, and attended to the duties of that conference; on the 8th of July 1850, the Kingdom of God, was established upon the Earth, & James, the anointed, did then sit upon the throne, swaying the royal scepter.  We then covenanted with God, to be his people, to keep his laws, & Statutes, & he chose us as his people:  And then gave us a portion of his footstool for an everlasting inheritance, as you will find, in the Book of the Law of the Lord.  There was a portion of this Book of the Law read.  It was with uplifted hands that we covenanted with God.” Record of the Apostles of James, 1844-1856, p. 5)

At the death of James on July 9, 1856 , there was no second degree Apostles.  The highest authority remaining was the office of third degree Apostle.  Apostle Chidester wrote to Apostle Post on July 14, 1856 , that the final instruction of James to the Apostles before his death was, “for every man to take care of his family and do the best he could till he found out what to do.” (Record of the Apostles of James 1844 – 1856, p. 31)  On August 3, 1856 , he wrote Apostle Page there is “no one authorized to take the lead.”

Five of the Apostles--L. D. Hickey, L. D. Tubbs, J. Pearce, J. Hutchins, and W. Post--were finally able to get together on Feb. 10, 1857 , to pray for an understanding of their condition.  “We became satisfied, that the Twelve could not lead the Church without a Prophet; and concluded to take care of ourselves & Families.” (Ibid., p. 45)  L. D. Hickey was the last of the Apostles.  He died on April 27, 1897 .  Not one of the Apostles ever made an attempt to stand at the head of the people.

The legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the kingdom were lost—only the evangelical branch remained.  Without communication with God through the Presidency, no other Apostles could be called.  The Apostles did hold authority to ordain evangelical High Priests and Elders.  “It is the duty of the Twelve, in all large branches of the church, to ordain evangelical ministers, as they shall be designated unto them by revelation.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 107:39)  Elders had authority to call and ordain other Elders.

Wingfield Watson wrote to Milo M. Quaife on April 14, 1919 , “Where there was an Elder who remained faithful, he taught his children and grand children, and baptized them into the faith, and preached the gospel to his neighbors also and baptized any who were willing to receive the gospel.  Besides the office of apostle there is also the office of High Priest and Elder, who holds the right [as evangelical ministers] 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 government of the kingdom was lost.  The evangelical branch of the kingdom remains.  James ordained L. D. Hickey an Apostle, who ordained Wingfield Watson a High Priest, who ordained Samuel Martin a High Priest, who ordained Lloyd Flanders a High Priest, who ordained Samuel E. West an Elder.  There are also other Elders remaining true to the original organization of the kingdom.  As long as one Elder of the Melchisedec Priesthood remains, the kingdom of God, and the opportunity for confirmation into the kingdom, remains.  The good news of the gospel is still being preached by those holding divine authority, unbelievers are becoming members of the kingdom, the law of God is being taught, and the greatest approbation ever given to man is open to the repentant:  the Sabbath of Creation and eternity in the Celestial Kingdom of God.

Final Kingdom

  God has promised to set up His kingdom in the last days—that it should never be thrown down.  James wrote, “1. As clearly as the Scriptures show that God established the Kingdom of Israel, so clearly do they show that he will establish a universal Kingdom in the last days; for Daniel, after prophetically tracing the great national events down to the division of the Roman Empire into the modern European nations, says, ‘In the days of these Kings shall the God of heaven set up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; but it shall break in pieces all these Kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.’ (Dan. ii, 44.)  ‘And the Kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom, under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the Saints of the Most High, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’ (id. vii, 27.)

“2. Speaking of the King who shall rule in this Kingdom, David says, ‘They shall fear thee as long as sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.’  ‘He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.’ (Ps. lxxii, 5, 8.)

“3. To this many Prophets have borne witness; that, in the latter days, God would gather Israel again upon their own land, and establish them as an undivided Kingdom, and sanctify them unto himself, and be their God forever. (Ezek. xxxiv, 22-24. xxxvii, 21, 27. Jer. xxx, 9. xxiii, 5, 6. xxxiii,   15-26. Hos. iii, 5. Isa. lv, 3-5. Amos ix, 11. Zech. xii, 8.)” (Book of the Law, pp. 171, 172)

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JAMES J. STRANG, THE MARTYRED PROPHET