Chapter 12 – The Effects of the Establishment of Christ’s Kingdom, or the Reign of God upon the Earth – The Government of God

The Government of God by John TaylorHaving said so much pertaining to the Kingdom, we come to our last proposition, and enquire, What will be the effects of the establishment of Christ’s kingdom, or the reign of God on the earth?

This is, indeed, a grand and important question, and requires our most serious and calm deliberation. If, after all this distress, tribulation, war, bloodshed, and sacrifice of human life, the condition of the world is no better, man is certainly in a most unhappy, hopeless situation. If it is nothing more than some of the changes contemplated by man, from one species of government to another, and we must still have war, bloodshed, and disorder, and be subject to the caprices of tyrants, or the anarchy of mobs, our prospects are indeed gloomy, and our hopes vain; we may as well “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die;” for, as we have already proven, under the most improved state of human governments we should still be subject to all the ills which flesh is heir to, without any redeeming hope. But this is not a transient, short-lived change; it is something decreed by God in relation to the earth and man, from before the commencement of the world; even the dispossessing of Satan, the destruction of the ungodly, and the reign of God; or in other words, putting the moral world in the same position in which the physical world is—under the direction of the Almighty. It is the doing away with war, bloodshed, misery, disease, and sin, and the ushering in of a kingdom of peace, righteousness, justice, happiness, and prosperity. It is the restoration of the earth and man to their primeval glory, and pristine excellence; in fact, the “restitution of all things spoken of by all the prophets since the world began.”

Now, restoration signifies a bringing back, and must refer to something which existed before; for if it did not exist before, it could not be restored. I cannot describe this better than Parley P. Pratt has done in his “Voice of Warning,” and shall therefore make the following extract:—

“This is one of the most important subjects upon which the human mind can contemplate; and one perhaps as little understood, in the present age, as any other now lying over the face of prophecy. But however neglected at the present time, it was once the ground-work of the faith, hope, and joy of the Saints. It was a correct understanding of this subject, and firm belief in it, that influenced all their movements. Their minds once fastening upon it, they could not be shaken from their purposes; their faith was firm, their joy constant, and their hope like an anchor to the soul, both sure and stedfast, reaching to that within the veil. It was this that enabled them to rejoice in the midst of tribulation, persecution, sword, and flame; and in view of this, they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, and gladly wandered as strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they sought a country, a city, and an inheritance, that none but a Saint ever thought of, understood, or even hoped for.

“Now, we can never understand precisely what is meant by restoration, unless we understand what is lost or taken away; for instance, when we offer to restore any thing to a man, it is as much as to say he once possessed it, but had lost it, and we propose to replace or put him in possession of that which he once had; therefore, when a prophet speaks of the restoration of all things, he means that all things have undergone a change, and are to be again restored to their primitive order, even as they first existed.

“First, then, it becomes necessary for us to take a view of creation, as it rolled in purity from the hand of its Creator; and if we can discover the true state in which it then existed, and understand the changes that have taken place since, then we shall be able to understand what is to be restored; and thus our minds being prepared, we shall be looking for the very things which will come, and shall be in no danger of lifting our puny arm, in ignorance, to oppose the things of God.

“First, then, we will take a view of the earth, as to its surface, local situation, and productions.

“When God had created the heavens and the earth, and separated the light from the darkness, his next great command was to the waters, (Gen. i. 9,)—’And God said, let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.’ From this we learn a marvellous fact, which very few have ever realized or believed in this benighted age; we learn that the waters, which are now divided into oceans, seas, and lakes, were then all gathered together, into one vast ocean; and, consequently, that the land, which is now torn asunder, and divided into continents and islands, almost innumerable, was then one vast continent or body, not separated as it is now.

“Second, we hear the Lord God pronounce the earth, as well as every thing else, very good. From this we learn that there were neither deserts, barren places, stagnant swamps, rough, broken, rugged hills, nor vast mountains covered with eternal snow; and no part of it was located in the frigid zone, so as to render its climate dreary and unproductive, subject to eternal frost, or everlasting chains of ice,—

Where no sweet flowers the dreary landscape cheer,
Nor plenteous harvests crown the passing year;

but the whole earth was probably one vast plain, or interspersed with gently rising hills, and sloping vales, well calculated for cultivation; while its climate was delightfully varied, with the moderate changes of heat and cold, of wet and dry, which only tended to crown the varied year, with the greater variety of productions, all for the good of man, animal, fowl, or creeping thing; while from the flowery plain, or spicy grove, sweet odours were wafted on every breeze; and all the vast creation of animated being breathed nought but health, and peace, and joy.

“Next, we learn from Gen. i. 29, 30,—’And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree, yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.’ From these verses we learn, that the earth yielded neither nauseous weeds nor poisonous plants, nor useless thorns and thistles; indeed, every thing that grew was just calculated for the food of man, beast, fowl, and creeping thing; and their food was all vegetable; flesh and blood were never sacrificed to glut their souls, or gratify their appetites; the beasts of the earth were all in perfect harmony with each other; the lion ate straw like the ox—the wolf dwelt with the lamb—the leopard lay down with the kid—the cow and bear fed together, in the same pasture, while their young ones reposed, in perfect security, under the shade of the same trees; all was peace and harmony, and nothing to hurt nor disturb, in all the holy mountain.

“And to crown the whole, we behold man created in the image of God, and exalted in dignity and power, having dominion over all the vast creation of animated beings, which swarmed through the earth, while, at the same time, he inhabits a beautiful and well-watered garden, in the midst of which stood the tree of life, to which he had free access; while he stood in the presence of his Maker, conversed with him face to face, and gazed upon his glory, without a dimming veil between. O reader, contemplate, for a moment, this beautiful creation, clothed with peace and plenty; the earth teeming, with harmless animals, rejoicing over all the plain; the air swarming with delightful birds, whose never ceasing notes filled the air with varied melody; and all in subjection to their rightful sovereign who rejoiced over them; while, in a delightful garden—the capitol of creation,—man was seated on the throne of his vast empire, swaying his sceptre over all the earth, with undisputed right; while legions of angels encamped round about him, and joined their glad voices, in grateful songs of praise, and shouts of joy; neither a sigh nor groan was heard, throughout the vast expanse; neither was there sorrow, tears, pain, weeping, sickness, nor death; neither contentions, wars, nor bloodshed; but peace crowned the seasons as they rolled, and life, joy, and love, reigned over all his works. But, O! how changed the scene.

“It now becomes my painful duty, to trace some of the important changes, which have taken place, and the causes which have conspired to reduce the earth and its inhabitants to their present state.

“First, man fell from his standing before God, by giving heed to temptation; and this fall affected the whole creation, as well as man, and caused various changes to take place; he was banished from the presence of his Creator, and a veil was drawn between them, and he was driven from the garden of Eden, to till the earth, which was then cursed for man’s sake, and should begin to bring forth thorns and thistles: and with the sweat of his face he should earn his bread, and in sorrow eat of it, all the days of his life, and finally return to dust. But as to Eve, her curse was a great multiplicity of sorrow and conception; and between her seed, and the seed of the serpent, there was to be a constant enmity; it should bruise the serpent’s head, and the serpent should bruise his heel.

“Now, reader, contemplate the change. This scene, which was so beautiful a little before, had now become the abode of sorrow and toil, of death and mourning: the earth groaning with its production of accursed thorns and thistles; man and beast at enmity; the serpent slyly creeping away, fearing lest his head should got the deadly bruise; and man startling amid the thorny path, in fear, lest the serpent’s fangs should pierce his heel; while the lamb yields his blood upon the smoking altar. Soon man begins to persecute, hate, and murder his fellow; until at length the earth is filled with violence; all flesh becomes corrupt, the powers of darkness prevail; and it repented Noah that God had made man, and it grieved him at his heart, because the Lord should come out in vengeance, and cleanse the earth by water.

“How far the flood may have contributed, to produce the various changes, as to the division of the earth into broken fragments, islands and continents, mountains and valleys, we have not been informed; the change must have been considerable. But after the flood, in the days of Peleg, the earth was divided.—See Gen. x. 25,—a short history, to be sure, of so great an event; but still it will account for the mighty revolution, which rolled the sea from its own place in the north, and brought it to interpose between different portions of the earth, which were thus parted asunder, and moved into something near their present form; this, together with the earthquakes, revolutions, and commotions which have since taken place, have all contributed to reduce the face of the earth to its present state; while the great curses which have fallen upon different portions, because of the wickedness of men, will account for the stagnant swamps, the sunken lakes, the dead seas, and great deserts.

“Witness, for instance, the denunciations of the prophets upon Babylon, how it was to become perpetual desolations, a den of wild beasts, a dwelling of unclean and hateful birds, a place for owls; and should never be inhabited, but should lie desolate from generation to generation. Witness also the plains of Sodom, filled with towns, cities, and flourishing gardens, well watered: but O, how changed! a vast sea of stagnant water alone marks the place. Witness the land of Palestine; in the days of Solomon it was capable of sustaining millions of people, besides a surplus of wheat, and other productions, which were exchanged with the neighbouring nations; whereas, now it is desolate, and hardly capable of sustaining a few miserable inhabitants. And when I cast mine eyes over our own land, and see the numerous swamps, lakes, and ponds of stagnant waters, together with the vast mountains and innumerable rough places; rocks having been rent, and torn asunder, from centre to circumference; I exclaim, Whence all this?

“When I read the Book of Mormon, it informs me, that while Christ was crucified among the Jews, this whole American continent was shaken to its foundation, that many cities were sunk, and waters came up in their places; that the rocks were all rent in twain; that mountains were thrown up to an exceeding height; and other mountains became vallies: the level roads spoiled; and the whole face of the land changed.—I then exclaim, These things are no longer a mystery; I have now learned to account for the many wonders, which I everywhere behold, throughout our whole country; when I am passing a ledge of rocks, and see they have all been rent and torn asunder, while some huge fragments are found deeply imbedded in the earth, some rods from whence they were torn, I exclaim, with astonishment, These were the groans! the convulsive throes of agonizing nature! while the Son of God suffered upon the cross!

“But men have degenerated, and greatly changed, as well as the earth. The sins, the abominations, and the many evil habits of the latter ages, have added to the miseries, toils, and sufferings of human life. The idleness, extravagance, pride, covetousness, drunkenness, and other abominations, which are characteristics of the latter times, have all combined to sink mankind to the lowest state of wretchedness and degradation; while priestcraft and false doctrines, have greatly tended to lull mankind to sleep, and caused them to rest, infinitely short of the powers and attainments which the ancients did enjoy, and which are alone calculated to exalt the intellectual powers of the human mind, to establish noble and generous sentiments, to enlarge the heart, and to expand the soul to the utmost extent of its capacity. Witness the ancients, conversing with the Great Jehovah, learning lessons from the angels, and receiving instruction by the Holy Ghost, in dreams by night, and visions by day, until at length the veil is taken off, and they permitted to gaze, with wonder and admiration, upon all things past and future; yea, even to soar aloft amid unnumbered worlds; while the vast expanse of eternity stands open before them, and they contemplate the mighty works of the Great I AM, until they know as they are known, and see as they are seen.

“Compare this intelligence, with the low smatterings of education and worldly wisdom, which seem to satisfy the narrow mind of man in our generation; yea, behold the narrow-minded, calculating, trading, overreaching, penurious sycophant, of the nineteenth century, who dreams of nothing here, but how to increase his goods, or take advantage of his neighbour; and whose only religious exercises or duties consist of going to meeting, paying the priest his hire, or praying to his God, without expecting to be heard or answered, supposing that God has been deaf and dumb for many centuries, or altogether stupid and indifferent like himself. And having seen the two contrasted, you will be able to form some idea of the vast elevation from which man has fallen; you will also learn, how infinitely beneath his former glory and dignity, he is now living, and your heart will mourn, and be exceedingly sorrowful, when you contemplate him in his low estate—and then think he is your brother; and you will be ready to exclaim, with wonder and astonishment, O man! how art thou fallen! once thou wast the favourite of Heaven; thy Maker delighted to converse with thee, and angels and the spirits of just men made perfect were thy companions; but now thou art degraded, and brought down on a level with the beasts; yea, far beneath them, for they look with horror and affright at your vain amusements, your sports and your drunkenness, and thus often set an example worthy of your imitation. Well did the apostle Peter say of you, that you know nothing, only what you know naturally as brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed. And thus you perish, from generation to generation. While all creation groans under its pollution; and sorrow and death, mourning and weeping, fill up the measure of the days of man. But O my soul, dwell no longer on this awful scene: let it suffice, to have discovered in some degree, what is lost. Let us turn our attention to what the Prophets have said should be restored.

“The Apostle Peter, while preaching to the Jews, says, ‘And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heavens must receive, until the times of restitution (restoration) of all things which God hath spoken, by the mouth of all the holy prophets, since the world began.’ It appears from the above, that all the holy prophets from Adam, and those that follow after, have had their eyes upon a certain time, when all things should be restored to their primitive beauty and excellence. We also learn, that the time of restitution was to be at or near the time of Christ’s second coming; for the heavens are to receive him, until the times of restitution, and then the Father shall send him again to the earth.

“We will now proceed to notice Isaiah xl. 1-5. ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand, double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.’

“From these verses we learn, first, that the voice of one shall be heard in the wilderness, to prepare the way of the Lord, just at the time when Jerusalem has been trodden down of the Gentiles long enough to have received, at the Lord’s hand, double for all her sins, yea, when the warfare of Jerusalem is accomplished, and her iniquities pardoned; then shall this proclamation be made as it was before by John, yea, a second proclamation, to prepare the way of the Lord, for his second coming; and about that time every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and rough places plain, and then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

“Thus you see, every mountain being laid low, and every valley exalted, and the rough places being made plain, and the crooked places straight, that these mighty revolutions will begin to restore the face of the earth to its former beauty. But all this done, we have not yet gone through our restoration; there are many more great things to be done, in order to restore all things.

“Our next is Isaiah 35th chapter, where we again read of the Lord’s second coming, and of the mighty works which attend it. The barren desert should abound with pools and springs of living water, and should produce grass, with flowers blooming and blossoming as the rose, and that, too, about the time of the coming of their God, with vengeance and recompense, which must allude to his second coming; and Israel is to come at the same time to Zion, with songs of everlasting joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Here, then, we have the curse taken off from the deserts, and they become a fruitful, well-watered country.

“We will now inquire whether the islands return again to the continents, from which they were once separated. For this subject we refer you to Revelation vi. 14,—’And every mountain and island were moved out of their places.’ From this we learn that they moved somewhere; and as it is the time of restoring what had been lost, they accordingly return and join themselves to the land whence they came.

“Our next is Isaiah xiii. 13, 14, where ‘The earth shall move out of her place, and be like a chased roe which no man taketh up.’ Also, Isaiah lxii. 4, ‘Thou shalt no more be termed forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.’

“In the first instance, we have the earth on a move like a chased roe; and in the second place, we have it married. And from the whole, and various Scriptures, we learn, that the continents and islands shall be united in one, as they were on the morn of creation, and the sea shall retire and assemble in its own place, where it was before; and all these scenes shall take place during the mighty convulsion of nature, about the time of the coming of the Lord.

“Behold! the Mount of Olives rend in twain;
While on its top he sets his feet again,
The islands at his word, obedient, flee;
While to the north, he rolls the mighty sea;
Restores the earth in one, as at the first,
With all its blessings, and removes the curse.

“Having restored the earth to the same glorious state in which it first existed; levelling the mountains, exalting the valleys, smoothing the rough places, making the deserts fruitful, and bringing all the continents and islands together, causing the curse to be taken off, that it shall no longer produce noxious weeds, and thorns, and thistles; the next thing is to regulate and restore the brute creation to their former state of peace and glory, causing all enmity to cease from off the earth. But this will never be done until there is a general destruction poured out upon man, which will entirely cleanse the earth, and sweep all wickedness from its face. This will be done by the rod of his mouth, and by the breath of his lips; or, in other words, by fire as universal as the flood. (Isaiah xi. 4, 6-9,) ‘But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’

“Thus, having cleansed the earth, and glorified it with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea, and having poured out his Spirit upon all flesh, both man and beast becoming perfectly harmless, as they were in the beginning, and feeding on vegetable food only, while nothing is left to hurt or destroy in all the vast creation, the prophets then proceed to give us many glorious descriptions of the enjoyments of its inhabitants. ‘They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine of them; they shall plant gardens and eat the fruit of them; they shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth in trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them; and it shall come to pass, that before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear.’ In this happy state of existence it seems that all people will live to the full age of a tree, and this too without pain or sorrow, and whatsoever they ask will be immediately answered, and even all their wants will be anticipated. Of course, then, none of them will sleep in the dust, for they will prefer to be translated; that is, changed in the twinkling of an eye, from mortal to immortal; after which they will continue to reign with Jesus on the earth.” (Pp. 110-122.)

A great council will then be held to adjust the affairs of the world, from the commencement, over which Father Adam will preside as head and representative of the human family. There have been, in different ages of the world, communications opened between the heavens and the earth. Those powers have been separated, and have acted in different spheres, until the present. The kingdom of God on the earth has been small, weak, unpopular, trampled under foot of men, and none but men of noble minds, firm hopes, and daring resolution, have advocated its principles. These men, being possessed of intelligence from the heavens by the ministering of angels, the communications of the spirits of the just, and the manifestation of eternal things, knew of the approaching day of glory, the reign of God on the earth; they understood their destiny, and lived, and died, in the hopes of inheriting these things. Those communications from the heavens developed the purposes of God to them; and in all their moves, they were regulated by the prospect of the future. In the Mosaic Dispensation they had to make earthly things according to the pattern of heavenly. Hence it was said to Moses, “See that thou make all things according to the pattern shewn thee in the Mount.” The ark was made, therefore, after a heavenly pattern, and so was the Temple of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a figure of the heavenly. The sacrifices of the Aaronic Priesthood referred to the expiation of Christ, who appears as the earthly High Priest of the Jews, and as our eternal High Priest and Intercessor in the heavens. His Priesthood was an eternal one, and is after the order of Melchisedek, and Melchisedek’s was after his order, and they both were after the order that exists in the heavens. This priesthood with the Gospel, brought life and immortality to light, put men in possession of certainty, and unveiled the future; they knew the divine laws and ordinances, and acted with a reference to them; and being commissioned of God, they had power to bind and loose, etc.

Then they will assemble to regulate all these affairs, and all that held keys of authority to administer, will then represent their earthly course. And, as this authority has been handed down from one to another in different ages, and in different dispensations, a full reckoning will have to be made by all. All who have held keys of Priesthood, will then have to give an account to those from whom they received them. Those that were in the heavens, have been assisting those that were upon the earth; but then, they will unite together in a general council to give an account of their stewardships, and as in the various ages men have received their power to administer, from those who had previously held the keys thereof, there will be a general account. Those, under the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have to give an account of their transactions to those who direct them in the Priesthood; hence the Elders give an account to Presidents of Conferences; and Presidents of Conferences to Presidents of Nations. Those Presidents and the Seventies give an account to the Twelve Apostles; the Twelve to the First Presidency; and they to Joseph, from whom they, and the Twelve, received their Priesthood. This will include the arrangements of the last dispensation. Joseph delivers his authority to Peter, who held the keys before him, and delivered them to him; and Peter to Moses and Elias, who endued him with this authority on the Mount; and they to those from whom they received them. And thus the world’s affairs will be regulated and put right, the restitution of all things be accomplished, and the Kingdom of God be ushered in. The earth will be delivered from under the curse, resume its paradisiacal glory, and all things pertaining to its restoration be fulfilled.

Not only will the earth be restored, but also man; and those promises which, long ago, were the hope of the saints, will be realized. The faithful servants of God who have lived in every age, will then come forth and experience the full fruition of that joy, for which they lived, and hoped, and suffered, and died. The tombs will deliver up their captives, and re-united with the spirits which once animated, vivified, cheered, and sustained them while in this vale of tears, these bodies will be like unto Christ’s glorious body. They will then rejoice in that resurrection for which they lived, while they sojourned below. Adam, Seth, Enoch, and the faithful who lived before the flood, will possess their proper inheritance. Noah and Melchisedek will stand in their proper places. Abraham, with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise, will come forward at the head of innumerable multitudes, and possess that land which God gave unto them for an everlasting inheritance. The faithful, on the continent of America, will also stand in their proper place; but, as this will be the time of the restitution of all things, and all things will not be fully restored at once; there will be a distinction between the resurrected bodies, and those that have not been resurrected; and as the Scriptures say that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption; and although the world will enjoy just laws—an equitable administration, and universal peace and happiness prevail as the result of this righteousness; yet, there will be a peculiar habitation for the resurrected bodies. This habitation may be compared to Paradise, from whence man, in the beginning, was driven.

When Adam was driven from the Garden, an angel was placed with a flaming sword to guard the way of the tree of life, lest man should eat of it, and become immortal in his degenerate state, and thus be incapable of obtaining that exaltation, which he would be capable of enjoying through the redemption of Jesus Christ, and the power of the resurrection, with his renewed and glorified body. Having tasted of the nature of the fall, and having grappled with sin and misery, knowing like the gods both good and evil, having like Jesus overcome the evil, and through the power of the atonement, having conquered death, hell, and the grave, he regains that Paradise, from which he was banished, not in the capacity of ignorant man, unacquainted with evil, but like unto a god. He can now stretch forth, and partake of the tree of life, and eat of its fruits, and live and flourish eternally in possession of that immortality which Jesus long ago promised to the faithful: “To him that overcomes, will I grant to sit with me in my throne; and eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

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Chapter 12 of the The Government of God, by John Taylor (1852)

Table of Contents: The Government of God: Chapters: One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten | Eleven | Twelve

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