In our first article we showed that the power of the priesthood is the Holy Ghost. We wish now to show that when that power is absent, then the priesthood authority—and even the priesthood itself—has been taken from that individual or organization.
As we believe in the restoration of the priesthood—with the powers thereof given by the prophet Joseph Smith and understanding that this authority would remain upon the earth—the question must be asked: How are we to know who holds this authority? Is this power and authority still with the Church today? We shall go back to the sayings and prophecies of the early leaders of this church to discover what has been given on this most important subject.
The following was given by George Q. Cannon,
“A true church [is] to have divine authority. Who is there that has been taught to believe the Bible that can reflect dispassionately and unbiased by prejudice upon these subjects and not be convinced in his own mind that if there be a Church of God upon the earth, there must be men in that Church who are endowed by Him with the authority to act in His name in all the ordinances pertaining thereto and to whom He will make known His mind and will in the government thereof? They must also be convinced that if there be such a Church in existence, its members, so long as God maintains His character for being unchangeable, must, of necessity, enjoy the gifts and blessings which the members of His Church anciently did.” (Oct. 18, 1856, pp. 225-30; Gospel Truth, 171)
Cannon also said,
“Persecution ceased with loss of gifts. The testimony of these men concerning the spiritual gifts which were in the Church is important. Is not the cause of the disappearance of these gifts plain to be seen? How could these heavenly gifts be continued in the Church when all who possessed them were hunted and slain? Persecution of the Church ceased when there were no more victims to be offered up, when no man remained who received revelation from heaven, when the Church no longer possessed spiritual gifts. The Church and the world were then alike reduced to a dead level, true faith no longer remained and the causes of hatred with the world against the Church had all vanished.” ( Dec. 15. 1888 p. 370; Gospel Truth, 151)
The following observation was had by a faithful saint in the church and quoted Elder James Allen, as follows,
“One of the last recorded instances of speaking in tongues was by Apostle John W. Taylor’s wife, Nellie, in 1899. Since then, the gift of tongues has been almost extinguished. Elder James Allen expressed shock in 1904 when he heard elders return from foreign missions and say they never heard the gift of tongues in their life. He said speaking in tongues was “one of the most common gifts of the Gospel, as enjoyed years ago.”
Elder Allen continued,
“in the early days of the Church where I was reared there were so many of the Saints who enjoyed the gifts, and there were none among my acquaintances who had not heard the sweet sound of the gift of tongues. Many times there would be both speaking and singing in tongues, in the same sacrament meeting. The interpretation of tongues was equally as common as the tongues themselves. In fact, we were wont to regard the speaking in tongues, the interpretation of tongues, the relating of dreams and prophesying, as an essential part of the latter-day gospel. These gifts were a great comfort to the new converts. They strengthened our faith, and served as abiding testimonies to many of us.” (Improv. Era 8:109)
Why have these gifts and blessings of the gospel ceased in the Church and among the people at large? The following quotes are from 2nd Nephi as he quotes the prophecies of Isaiah in the last days:
And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths. 2 Nephi 13:12
For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. 2 Nephi 19:16
He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. 2 Nephi 26:29
They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men. 2 Nephi 28:14
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. 2 Nephi 28:21
And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. 2 Nephi 28:22
Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost! 2 Nephi 28:26
Are we in the condition as given above, having rejected the fullness of the gospel, and thus HAS the Lord rejected the Latter-day Saints as a whole? It was prophesied by the early leaders as we will discuss next that the Lord would raise up a people from the Latter-day Saints. These would carry on his work and administer in the priesthood of God with its gifts and blessings.
“What would be necessary to bring about the result nearest the hearts of the opponents of “Mormonism,” more properly termed the Gospel of the Son of God? Simply to renounce, abrogate, or apostatize from the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage in its fulness—plural or Celestial Marriage being a part. Were the Church to do that as an entirety, God would reject the Saints as a body. The authority of the Priesthood would be withdrawn, with its gifts and powers, and there would be no more heavenly recognition of the administrations among the people, the heavens would permanently withdraw themselves, and the Lord would RAISE UP ANOTHER PEOPLE of greater valor and stability, for His work MUST, according to His unalterable decrees, GO FORWARD, for the time of the second coming of the Savior is near even at the doors.” (The Only Consistent Course, Deseret News, April 23, 1885, pg. 1)
It was in 1889 that the late Apostle Orson F. Whitney expressed the thought in this language,
“Many of this people are perhaps preparing themselves, by following after the World in its mad race for wealth and pleasure, to go down with Babylon when she crumbles and falls; but I know that there is a people, in the HEART’S CORE. OF THIS PEOPLE, that will ARISE IN THEIR MAJESTY in a day that is NEAR AT HAND, and push SPIRITUAL THINGS TO THE FRONT; a people who will STAND UP FOR GOD, fearing not man nor what man can do, but believing, as the Prophet Joseph says, that all things we suffer are for our best good, and that God will stand by us forever and ever.” (Deseret News Weekly, Aug. 11, 1889)
We also learn:
“Before the great day of the Lord shall come, and the day of righteousness and peace dawn upon this fair creation, two potent cleansing processes shall be in active operation. The first of these is the preparation of a CHOICE PEOPLE, purified by an application to their lives, as individuals and a community, of the principles of the Gospel of peace. Such a body WILL EVOLVE from those called Latter-day Saints, who as a Church, possess the fulness and power of the pure plan of Salvation. Out of this community, at present in the merely incipient stages of development, and from the remnant of the whole House of Israel, will emanate the nucleus or FOUNDATION FROM WHICH WILL SPRING THE RIGHTEOUS MILLENNIAL POPULATION OF OUR GLOBE.” (Millennial Star, 42:584-1880)
Brigham Young clarified,
“Brethren, this Church will be led onto the very brink of hell by the leaders of this people. Then God will raise the one mighty and strong spoken of in the 85th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, to save and redeem this Church.” (Provo Bowery Conference, August 24th, 1867, Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Edited by Van Wagner, Published by Smith-Pettit Foundation 2009, 4:2478)
From the following, it should be obvious that the majority of the Latter-day saints will fail to live up to the fullness of the gospel and will be following the leaders which will, as described above, lead them down the wrong road. The Prophet Joseph gave the following principle to the saints, as recorded in Church history:
“President Joseph Smith read the 14th Chapter of Ezekiel—said the Lord had declared by the prophet that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish Church that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls—applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints—said if the people departed from the Lord they must fall that they were depending on the prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves . . .” (Joseph Smith, History, 1838–1856, volume C-1 Addenda, pp. 71-72, The Joseph Smith Papers.)
This is the very concern Brigham Young said he was so fearful of: that the people would have so much confidence in their leaders that they would not find out for themselves what is true. The leaders of the Church have preached from the pulpit and promoted this evil of depending upon the leaders for guidance and direction. How often we have heard the leaders tell the people to just follow the prophet and the people, sadly, are doing just that!
It should be plain to all of us by now, that where the priesthood and authority of God are, there will be the Gifts and Blessings of the Holy Ghost. For that we must righteously endeavor and qualify.