Page images

special import were given to Pharaoh,x Nebuchadnezzar," and others; but it required a higher power than their own to interpret them; and Joseph and Daniel were called to officiate. The dream given to the Midianite soldier, and its interpretation by his fellow/ betokening the victory of Gideon, were true manifestations; as also the dream of Pilate's wife," in which she learned of the innocence of the accused Christ.

20. The Gift of Prophecy distinguishes its possessor as a prophet,—literally, one who speaks for another; specifically, one who speaks for God.6 It is distinguished by Paul as one of the most desirable of spiritual endowments, and its pre-eminence over the gift of tongues he discusses at length." To prophesy is to receive and declare the word of God, and the statement of His will to the people. The function of prediction, often regarded as the sole essential of prophecy, is but one among many characteristics of this divinely given power. The prophet may have as much concern with the past as with the present or the future; he may exercise his gift in teaching through the light of, and by the experience of preceding events, as in fore-telling occurrences. The prophets of God have ever been in special favor with Him, being privileged to learn of His will and designs ; indeed, the promise is made that the Lord will do nothing except He reveal His secret purposes unto His servants, the prophets/ These chosen oracles stand as mediators between God and mortals, pleading for or against the people/

21. No special ordination in the priesthood is essential to man's receiving the gift of prophecy; bearers of the Mel

x Gen. xli; see other instances in Gen. xl.

y Dan. ii.

z Jud. vii, 13, 14.

a Matt. xxvii, 19.

b See note 8,

c I Cor. xiv, 1-i.

d Amos iii, 1.

e I Kings xviii, 36, 37; Rom. xi, 2, 3: James v, 16-18; Rev. xi, 6.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

ehisedek order, Adam, Noah, Moses, and a multitude of others were truly prophets, but not more truly so than were many who exercised the Aaronic functions only—as for example most of the Old Testament priests subsequent to the time of Moses, and John the Baptist.f The ministrations of the prophetesses Miriam" and Deborah* show that this gift may be possessed by women also. In the time of Samuel, the prophets were organized into a special order, to aid their purposes of study and improvement.'

22. In the present dispensation, this great gift is enjoyed in a fulness equal to that of any preceding time. The Lord's will concerning present duties is made known to His people through the mouths of prophets; and events of great import are fore-told.J The very fact of the present existence and growing condition of the Church is an undeniable testimony of the power and reliability of modern prophecy. The Latter-day Saints constitute a body of witnesses, numbering hundreds of thousands, to the effect of this, one of the great gifts of God.

23. Revelation is the means through which the will of God is declared directly and in fulness to man. Under circumstances best suiting the Divine purposes, through the dreams of sleep or in waking visions of the mind, by voices without visional appearance, or by actual manifestations of the Holy Presence before the eye, God makes known His designs, and charges His chosen vessels to bear the sacred messages so imparted. Under the influence of inspiration, or its more potent manifestation—revelation, man's mind is enlightened, and his energies quickened to the accomplishment of wonders in the work of human progress; touched

/Matt, xi, 8-10.
g Exo. xv, 20.
h Jud. iv, 4.
i See Note 3. j Doc. and Cov. i, 4; lxxxvii.

ART. 7.]



with a spark from the heavenly altar, the inspired instrument cherishes the holy fire within his soul, and imparts it to others as he may be led to do; he is the channel through which the will of God is conveyed. The words of him who speaks by revelation in its highest form, are not his own; they are the words of God Himself ; the mortal mouth-piece is but the trusted conveyance of these heavenly messages. With the authoritative, "Thus saith the Lord," the revelator delivers the burden intrusted to his care.

24. The Lord strictly observes the principles of order and propriety in giving revelation to His servants. Though it is the privilege of any person to live so as to merit this gift in the affairs of his special calling, only those appointed and ordained to the offices of presidency are to be revelators to the people at large. Concerning the President of the Church, who at the time of the revelation here referred to was the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord has said to the elders of the Church:—"And this ye shall know assuredly, that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me. * * * 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. And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me." *

25. The Testimony of Miracles.—The Savior's promise in a former day' as in the present dispensationm is definite, to the effect that specified gifts of the Spirit are to follow the believer as signs of Divine favor. The possession and exercise of such gifts may be taken therefore as essential features of the Church of Christ." Nevertheless we are not

k Doc. and Cov. xliii, 3, 5, 6.
IMark xvi, 17-18.
m Doc. and Cov. lxxxiv, 65-73.
n See Notes 4 and 5.

justified in regarding the evidence of miracles as infallible testimony of authority from heaven; on the other hand, the scriptures furnish abundant proof that spiritual powers of the baser sort have wrought miracles, and will continue so to do, to the deceiving of many who lack discernment. If miracles be accepted as infallible evidence of godly power, the magicians of Egypt, through the wonders which they accomplished in opposition to the ordained plan for Israel's deliverance, have as good a claim to our respect as has Moses." John the Revelator saw in vision a wicked power working miracles, and thereby deceiving many; doing great wonders, even bringing fire from heaven.p Again, he saw three unclean spirits, whom he knew to be "the spirits of devils working miracles."9

26. Consider, in connection with this, the prediction made by the Savior :—" There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."r The invalidity of miracles as a proof of righteousness is declared in an utterance of Christ Jesus regarding the events of the great judgment:—"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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."" The Jews, to whom these teachings were addressed, knew that wonders could be wrought by evil powers; for they charged Christ with working miracles by the authority of Beelzebub the prince of devils."'

[ocr errors]

27. If the working of miracles were a distinctive characteristic of the holy priesthood, we would look for the testimony of wondrous manifestations in connection with the work of every prophet and authorized minister of the Lord; yet we fail to find a record of miracles in the case of Zechariah, Malachi, and other prophets of old; while of John the Baptist, whom Christ declared to be more than a prophet," it was plainly said that he did no miracle nevertheless, in rejecting John's doctrine, the unbelievers were ignoring the counsel of God against their own souls." To be valid as a testimony of truth, miracles must be wrought in the name of Christ, and to His honor, in furtherance of the plan of salvation. As stated, they are not given to satisfy the curious and the lustful, nor as a means of gaining notoriety for him through whom they are accomplished. These gifts of the true Spirit are manifested in support of the message from heaven, and in corroboration of the words spoken by authority.

28. Imitations of Spiritual Gifts.—The proofs already cited of miraculous achievements by powers other than of God, and the scriptural predictions concerning such deceptive manifestations in the last days, ought to be our warning against spurious imitations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Satan has shown himself to be an accomplished strategist and a skilful imitator; the most deplorable of his victories are due to his simulation of good, whereby the undiscerning have been led captive. Let us not be deluded with the thought that any act, the immediate result of which appears to be benign, is necessarily productive of permanent good. It may serve the dark purposes of man's

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »