Elijah's Latter-day Mission.
A Sermon by Elder Orson Pratt, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, August 28, 1859.
Reported By: G. D. Watt.
Every man which ever has lived, or ever will live, will be dealt with according to his works and the law of the Gospel. Rev. 20:12-13 There is another thing I wish to lay before this congregation, and that is in regard to those generations to whom the Gospel has not been committed in time. While I have been traveling abroad, many have said to me, How is it? You teach us that there has been no Church of God for many generations on the earth. You teach us that our fathers and mothers in generations gone past have died without the knowledge of the Gospel; you teach us that God is a just being, and will punish men by the law of the Gospel; and how is it that he suffered all these generations to remain without the Gospel while in the flesh? [apostasy]
I want to answer this question, and tell
[p. 90b] you why there was no Church on the earth six hundred or a thousand years ago—why generation after generation have fallen into their graves, without hearing the voice of God, or any communication from him. I will give you the reason why, and then leave you to judge in relation to the matter. It is well known that the nations killed off the old Apostles and Prophets, and banished the Church of Christ from the earth. Those who remained were corrupt, evil, and devilish, desiring to work wickedness, having no desires for righteousness, having apostatized from the truth. Because of the great wickedness which reigned, the Lord Almighty saw that it was impossible for him to reveal a dispensation and protect it on the earth; he saw that it was impossible to be done in those dark ages. For if he had revealed himself to any man, and that man should go forth and say, Thus saith the Lord God, he might, before the sun went down, look for his head to be taken off his shoulders, or to be stretched upon the wheels of the Inquisition, to be tortured with all manner of cruelties as a heretic. And if he should undertake to work secretly with mankind, after it was found out publicly, he would have been hunted from one end of the earth to the other, until he was destroyed and all his followers. This would have brought innocent blood again upon the people. The Lord saw that they would bring greater wickedness on themselves, if he revealed a dispensation, than to withhold it; for they would have been sure to take the lives of his servants, and bring innocent blood upon their heads, even as their fathers did. Matt. 23:30-32 Matt. 27:25 This would effectually prevent them from entering into that prison where they, in due time, could hear the Gospel.
To prevent the effusion of innocent blood and give them a chance, the Lord withheld from them his Church. [p. 91a] The Lord might have reasoned thus—I will not raise up my Church in their midst, for they will put the people of that Church to death. If I restore the authority to the earth, they will root it out; they will shed innocent blood: therefore, I will send these generations into their graves in ignorance; and when governments are established so liberal that there will be some prospect of establishing my kingdom on the earth, then I will send Elijah the Prophet, and he shall give authority to the children to search after their fathers who died in ignorance of the Gospel.
We are willing to go the earth over to save the living; we are willing to build temples and administer in [p. 91b] ordinances to save the dead; we are willing to enter the eternal worlds and preach to every creature who has not placed himself beyond the reach of mercy. We are willing to labor both in this world and in the next to save men.
I will now close my remarks by saying, Let all rejoice that the great day of the dispensation of the fulness of times has come. Let the living rejoice; let the dead rejoice; let the heavens and the earth rejoice; let all creation shout hosannah! Glory to God in the highest! Luke 2:14 For he hath brought salvation, and glory, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life to the fallen sons of men. Amen.