THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD
The Government of God., Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol.. 3 No. 18 July 15, 1842 855 – 856
The government of the Almighty, has always been very dissimilar to the government of men; whether we refer to his religious government, or to the government of nations. The government of God has always tended to promote peace, unity, harmony, strength and happiness; while that of man has been productive of confusion, disorder, weakness and misery. The greatest nets of the mighty men have been to depopulate nations, and to overthrow kingdoms; and whilst they have exalted themselves and become glorious, it has been at the expense of the lives of the innocent—the blood of the oppressed—the moans of the widow, and the tears of the orphan. Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Persia, Carthage, Rome—each were raised to dignity amid the clash of arms, and the din of war; and whilst their triumphant leaders led forth their victorious armies to glory and victory, their ears were saluted with the groans of the dying, and the misery and distress of the human family;—before them the earth was a paradise, and behind them a desolate wilderness; their kingdoms were founded in carnage and bloodshed, and sustained by oppression, tyranny, and despotism. The designs of God, on the other hand, have been to promote the universal good, of the universal world;—to establish peace and good will among men;—to promote the principles of eternal truth;—to bring about a state of things that shall unite man to his fellow man—cause the world to “beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks”—make the nations of the earth dwell in peace; and to bring about the millenial glory—when “the earth shall yield its increase, resume its paradisean glory, and become as the garden of the Lord.”
The great and wise of ancient days have failed in all their attempts to promote eternal power, peace, and happiness. Their nations have crumbled to pieces; their thrones have been cast down in their turn; and their cities, and their mightiest works of art, have been annihilated; or their dilapidated towers, or time worn monuments have left us but feeble traits of their former magnificence, and ancient grandeur. They proclaim as with a voice of thunder, those imperishable truths—that man’s strength is weakness, his wisdom is folly, his glory is his shame.
Monarchical, aristocratic, and republican forms of government, of their various kinds and grades, have in their turn been raised to dignity and prostrated in the dust. The plans of the greatest politicians, the wisest senators, and most profound statement have been exploded; and the proceedings of the greatest chieftains, the bravest generals, and the wisest kings have fallen to the ground. Nation has succeeded nation, and we have inherited nothing but their folly. History records their puerile plans, their short lived glory, their feeble intellect, and their ignoble deeds.
Have we increased in knowledge or intelligence? where is there a man that can step forth and alter the destiny of nations, and promote the happiness of the world? Or where is there a kingdom or nation, that can promote the universal happiness of its own subjects, or even their general well being? Our nation, which possesses greater resources than any other, is rent from center to circumference, with party strife, political intrigue, and sectional interest; our counsellors are panic struck, our legislators are astonished, and our senators are confounded; our merchants are paralized, our tradesmen are disheartened, our mechanics out of employ, our farmers distressed, and our poor crying for bread. Our banks are broken, our credit ruined, and our states overwhelmed in debt;—yet we are, and have been in peace.—What is the matter? Are we alone in this thing? Verily, no. With all our evils we are better situated than any other nation. Let Egypt, Turkey, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, England, China, or any other nation speak, and tell the tale of their trouble—their perplexity, and distress, and we should find that their cup was full, and that they were preparing to drink the dregs of sorrow. England, that boasts of her literature, her science, commerce, &c., has her hands reeking with the blood of the innocent, abroad; and she is saluted with the cries of the oppressed, at home.—Chartism, O’Connelism and Radicalism are gnawing her vitals at home; and Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and the East, are threatening her destruction abroad. France is rent to the core—intrigue, treachery, and treason lurk in the dark; and murder, and assassination stalk forth at noonday. Turkey, once the glory of European nations, has been shorn of her strength—has dwindled into her dotage, and has been obliged to ask her allies to propose to her tributary terms of peace: and Russia, and Egypt are each of them opening their jaws to devour her. Spain has been the theatre of bloodshed, of misery and woe, for years past. Syria is now convulsed with war and bloodshed. The great and powerful empire of China, which has for centuries resisted the attacks of barbarians, has become tributary to a foreign foe; her batteries thrown down; many of her cities destroyed, and her villages deserted. We might mention the Eastern rajahs; the miseries and oppressions of the Irish; the convulsed state of Central America; the situation of Texas and Mexico; the state of Greece, Switzerland, and Poland—nay, the world itself presents one great theatre of misery, woe, and “distress of nations with perplexity.” All, all speak with a voice of thunder, that man is not able to govern himself—to legislate for himself—to protect himself—to promote his own good, nor the good of the world.
It has been the design of Jehovah, from the commencement of the world, and is his purpose now, to regulate the affairs of the world in his own time; to stand as head of the universe, and take the reigns of government into his own hand. When that is done judgment will be administered in righteousness; anarchy and confusion will be destroyed, and “nations will learn war no more.” It is for want of this great governing principle that all this confusion has existed; “for it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps;” this we have fully shewn.
If there was any thing great or good in the world it came from God. The construction of the first vessel was given to Noah, by revelation. The design of the ark was given by God, “a pattern of heavenly things.” The learning of the Egyptians, and their knowledge of astronomy was no doubt taught them by Abraham and Joseph, as their records testify, who received it from the Lord. The art of working in brass, silver, gold, and precious stones, was taught by revelation, in the wilderness. The architectural designs of the Temple at Jerusalem, together with its ornament and beauty was given of God. Wisdom to govern the house of Israel was given to Solomon, and to the judges of Israel; and if he had always been their king, and they subject to his mandate, and obedient to his laws, they would still have been a great and mighty people; the rulers of the universe—and the wonder of the world. If Nebuchadnezzar, or Darius, or Cyrus, or any other king possessed knowledge or power it was from the same source, as the scripture abundantly testify. If then, God puts up one, and sets down another, at his pleasure—and made instruments of kings, unknown to themselves, to fulfill his prophesies, how much more was he able, if man would have been subject to his mandate, to regulate the affairs of this world, and promote peace and happiness among the human family.
The Lord has at various times commenced this kind of government, and tendered his services vo the human family. He selected Enoch, whom he directed, and gave his law unto, and to the people who were with him; and when the world in general would not obey the commands of God, after walking with God, he translated Enoch and his church, and the priesthood or government of heaven, was taken away.
Abraham was guided in all his family affairs by the Lord; was told where to go, and when to stop; was conversed with by angels, and by the Lord; and prospered exceedingly in all that he put his hand unto; it was because he and his family obeyed the counsel of the Lord.—When Egypt was under the superintendence of Joseph, it prospered, because he was taught of God; when they oppressed the Israelites destruction came upon them. When the children of Israel were chosen with Moses at their head, they were to be a peculiar people, among whom God should place his name: their motto was “The Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our king, and he shall reign over us.” While in this state they might truly say, “happy is that people whose God is the Lord.” Their government was a theocracy; they had God to make their laws, and men chosen by him to administer them; he was their God, and they were his people. Moses received the word of the Lord from God himself he was the mouth of God to Aaron, and Aaron taught the people in both civil and ecelesiastical affairs; they were both one; there was no distinction; so will it be when the purposes of God shall be accomplished; when “the Lord shall be king over the whole earth” and “Jerusalem his throne.” “The law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
This is the only thing that can bring about the “restitution of all things, spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world was”—”the dispensation of the fulness of times, when GOD shall gather together all things in one.” Other attempts to promote universal peace and happiness in the human family have proven abortive; every effort has failed; every plan and design has fallen to the ground; it needs the wisdom of God, the intelligence of God, and the power of God to accomplish this. The world has had a fair trial for six thousand years; the Lord will try the seventh thousand himself; “he whose right it is will possess the kingdom, and reign until he has put all things under his feet;” iniquity will hide its hoary head, Satan will be bound, and the works of darkness destroyed; righteousness will be put to the line, and judgment to the plummet, and “he that fears the Lord will alone be exalted in that day.” To bring about this state of things there must of necessity be great confusion among the nations of the earth; “distress of nations with perplexity.”—Am I asked what is the cause of the present distress? I would answer: “Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it.” The earth is groaning under corruption, oppression, tyranny, and bloodshed; and God is coming out of his hiding place, as he said that he would do, to vex the nations of the earth. Daniel, in his vision, saw convulsion upon convulsion; he “saw till thrones were cast down, and the ancient of days did sit; and one was brought before him like unto the Son of man; and all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, did serve and obey him.” It is for us to be righteous that we may be wise and understand, for “none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the starts for ever and ever.” As a church, and a people it behoves us to be wise, and to seek to know the will of God, and then be willing to do it; for “blessed is he that heareth the word of the Lord and keepeth it,” says the scriptures. “Watch and pray always,” says our Savior, “that ye may be accounted worthy to escape the things that are coming on the earth, and to stand before the Son of man.” If Enoch, Abraham, Moses, the children of Israel, and all God’s people were saved by keeping the commandments of God, we, if saved at all, shall be saved upon the same principle. As God governed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as families, and the children of Israel as a nation, so we, as a church, must be under his guidance if we are prospered, preserved, and sustained. Our only confidence can be in God; our only wisdom obtained from him; and he alone must be our protector and safeguard, spiritually and temporally, or we fall.
We have been chastened by the hand of God heretofore for not obeying his commands, although we never violated any human law, or transgressed any human precept: yet we have treated lightly his commands, and departed from his ordinances, and the Lord has chastened us sore, and we have felt his arm, and kissed the rod: let us we wise in time to come, and ever remember that “to obey is better than sacrifice; and to hearken than the fat of rams.” The Lord has told us to build the temple, and the Nauvoo House, and that command is as binding upon us as any other; and that man who engages not in these things is as much a transgressor as though he broke any other command—he is not a doer of God’s will, nor a fulfiller of his laws.
In regard to the building up of Zion it has to be done by the counsel of Jehovah; by the revelations of heaven, and we should feel to say “if the Lord go not with us, carry us not up hence.” We would say to the saints that come here, we have laid the foundation for the gathering of God’s people to this place, and expect that when the saints do come they will be under the counsel of those that God has appointed. The Twelve are set apart to counsel the saints pertaining to this matter: and we expect that those who come here will send before them their wise men according to revelation; or if not practicable, be subject to the counsel that God has given or they cannot receive an inheritance among the saints, or be considered as God’s people: and they will be dealt with as transgressors of the laws of God; we are trying here to gird up our loins, and purge from our midst the workers of iniquity; and we hope that when our brethren arrive from abroad, they will assist us to roll forth this good work, and to accomplish this great design; that “Zion may be built up in righteousness; and all nations flock to her standard;” that as God’s people, under his direction, and obedient to his law, we may grow up in righteousness, and truth; that when his purposes shall be accomplished, we may receive an inheritance among those that are sanctified.—ED