The Object of a Continuation of Revelation


The Gospel Winchester, Benjamin, 1817-1901

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Winchester, Benjamin. “The Object of a Continuation of Revelation,” The Gospel Reflector (Philadelphia) 1, no. 4 (15 February 1841): 89–96.


As it ever has been, and now is, the privilege of the saints to receive revelations direct from heaven; and is also one of the distinctive features, that distinguish the Latter-Day Saints from other societies, we think it proper to make a few observations upon the design of them, that the reader may know the benefits of such blessings.

The doctrine of immediate revelation from God is objected to be most societies who profess Christianity, and the principal reason why, we conceive to be for the want of a correct understanding of the object, that the Lord has ever had in view in revealing his word to his people. Some have supposed that a new revelation cannot be given without making known another gospel, and the moment we introduce the subject, we are assailed by priest and professor, who say there is to be no more revelations: for say they there is but one true gospel. We readily admit that there is but one true plan of salvation; but we as readily deny that the object of new revelation is to reveal another gospel. The gospel is the law of God, or the invariable rule of adoption, and through an obedience to it men and women are made [89] the adopted sons and daughters of God; and revelations were given to the people of God.

It is evident that the antiquity of the gospel, is equal to that of the earth. And it is also said, that there is no other name given under heaven whereby man can be saved except the name of Jesus Christ. Again, life and immortality were brought to light through the gospel. Enoch, Noah, and the patriarchs, were acquainted with the principles of life and immortality. It is also said that the gospel was preached to Abraham—(See Gal. iii. 8.) to the children of Israel in the wilderness. (See Heb. iv. 2.) Indeed, all the patriarchs, and prophets, were made the adopted sons of God through an obedience to the principles of righteousness; and they received many revelations but not to change the gospel, or to cause them to adopt some other plan of salvation, that is, to save their souls in the Celestial Kingdom of God. But they often received revelations, giving them directions for their temporal safety. In order to more clearly illustrate this subject we will use a comparison.

For instance, a husbandman has several sons; and also a plantation—of course there are various works to perform, and these sons are the persons made choice of to do them. Hence he reveals his will to one, saying, go and plough such a field; and to another go and do something else; and so on, till he gives each one directions, and his portion of the work to perform. Again, there are various works to do at different seasons of the year; consequently he gives directions that each work may be performed in its proper season and time thereof.

In like manner, according to the Saviour’s parable, the Lord is the husbandman of all the earth, and he has had, and has yet, various works to do at different ages of the world, and he always has given revelations adapted to the works that were necessary to be done. Yet not to reveal a new gospel, for it is a perfect law of liberty, devised by an infinite being; consequently it is also infinite, and of necessity, as we have before said, remains in all ages the same invariable rule of adoption. When the authority, or holy priesthood is taken away, and men are deprived of the privilege to administer the ordinances, it may be restored by revelation, or the administration of an angel. But as for the letter of the gospel—there is no necessity for revealing it unless it is lost; but it was not lost to the patriarchs: for by it they were made to understand the principles of life and immortality. Whether, or not, the ordinances were administered prior to the appearance of Christ in the flesh, we leave the reader to judge.

The Lord having a particular work to do in the days of Noah; (and he always works by means,) hence he said to his servant, or son Noah, go and proclaim the principles of righteousness to this generation, and tell them that I will bring a destruction by a flood upon them, if they do not turn from their wickedness,—that I may leave them without an excuse; and in the meantime prepare an ark for the [90] saving of thyself and family. Noah moved forward with fear, and prepared the ark, and by this means rode safe over the flood. Thus the Lord imparted such intelligence to Noah, as suited the occasion, which proved beneficial to himself and family, even to their temporal salvation. But this revelation and commandment to Noah was not designed as a rule of faith, for future generations, that is, it was not a commandment for any other person or persons, that they should build arks or warn Antediluvians of a flood; but only for the time being.

Next, the Lord said to his servant, or son Abraham, get thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, and I will make thee a great nation in the land of Canaan. The Lord at this time had a particular work to do, which was to raise up a righteous nation to perpetuate his name, attributes, and commandments: for the inhabitants of the earth were then fast degenerating from the law of heaven, and sinking in darkness, and inclining to heathen mythology. The revelations given to Abraham differed much from those to Noah; yet they were adapted to the work for which they were given.

Again, he sent his holy angel to his son Lot to warn him of the awful conflagration, that was shortly to come upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and direct him to a place of refuge. And mark Lot did not undertake to build an ark to save himself from destruction: for the directions given to him, for his temporal safety, differed widely from those to Noah. Surely, if he had been like many of the present generation he would have said, that there were revelations enough already given—that there was no necessity for any more. And what would have been the consequence, we leave every person to judge for himself. Yet Lot, no doubt, became a righteous man through obedience to the same law of God, and that Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and all other patriarchs did.

After Israel had groaned in bondage, in Egypt, four hundred years the Lord resolved to fulfil the promise he made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that their posterity should inherit the land of Canaan; and in order to do it, he called out of the burning bush to his son Moses, and made known to him his intentions.

Now at this time, the Lord had one of the greatest works to do that he has ever done since the time of the creation; and the circumstances that the children of Israel were in, called for the immediate interposition, not only of the power of God, but for his counsel. The Lord gave Moses particular directions what to do, to deliver Israel from the hands of the Egyptians. Moses did not assume his commission, neither did he act upon those given to Noah, Abraham, or Joseph; but he received one for himself; not to build an ark to escape destruction in time of a flood, or to direct Israel to flee to Zoar, to escape an awful conflagration; but to stand before Pharoah—bring the ten plagues upon Egypt—to instruct the children of Israel in all things necessary for their safety—go before and lead them out of Egypt. Thus Moses had a commission to do a different work from [91] those of any other prophets; and God gave revelations adapted to that great, and marvellous work—that act, that strange act.

Again at this time the voice of inspiration seemed to be more or less hushed into silence, and a spiritual darkness brooded over the land; and notwithstanding the oppression of the Israelites, they were a hard-hearted, and rebellious people. But the years of their bondage were accomplished: therefore, Moses, and Aaron, had power given them to stand before Pharoah, and to bring the ten plagues upon Egypt.—Israel then marched out of Egypt with majesty and power.—Pharaoh and his hosts followed them.—The waters of the Red Sea were divided by the power of Jehovah—Israel marched through without injury, singing sweet notes of praise, and tuning their joyful anthems to the praise of the God Abraham who was able to deliver them from the hand of oppression; while Pharaoh and his company were plunged beneath the massive wave, and thus received a just demerit of their crimes. It sufficeth to say, that the Lord continued with a mighty hand, and stretched out arm to lead the Israelites through the wilderness; and to almost daily instruct, and direct them by giving revelations. But, notwithstanding all the miracles that they had seen performed for their deliverance, and the revelations that had been given, they were troubled with the propensity to believe that revelation had been given, and miracles wrought in times past; but deny that there is to be any more, which has been a thing peculiar to all generations, especially to the one now on the stage of action.

Indeed, the Israelites, in the wilderness, did not deny but what God had given revelations, and worked miracles in times past; but when they afterwards were brought into straitened circumstances, and they saw no chance to deliver themselves by their own power, they supposed that the age of miracles was passed by, and that God had ceased delivering them by an interposition of his power: and on one occasion, they took up stones to stone Moses; saying, that he had led them into the wilderness to perish. But to proceed.

The ten commandments were given—the Law of Moses established—Moses and Aaron deceased—Joshua succeeded, took command, and led the children of Israel over Jordan; and by immediate revelation from God divided the land of Canaan among them: and thus the covenant people of the Lord were made to inherit the land that was promised to their fathers. But with all the revelations that were given to the Israelites, there was no entire new plan for salvation devised. But says one, you astonish me; was not the ceremonial law a new plan for salvation? We answer in the negative; for it was only appended to that law which was delivered to the patriarchs. Paul declares that this law was not one of faith, nor of righteousness: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse:” &c. “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, the man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the [92] curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”

“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, (added to what? to the gospel.) till the seed [Christ] should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator.” “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.”—Gal. iii. 10–21. Paul in another place says, it was a law of carnal ordinances. Peter said that it was a yoke, which was too hard for them, or their fathers to bear. From all these sayings we conclude that the law of Moses was no new plan of life and salvation; but because of the wickedness of the Israelites this law was added, which Peter said, was a yoke upon them. Thus we discover that all the revelations that were given so far, were not to make known another gospel; although they differed from each other according as the several works for which they were given required.

Now the Lord continued raising up prophets, and giving revelations during the Mosaic dispensation. For instance, he called upon his servant Samuel, and sent him to anoint Saul a king for Israel, also David. He gave David many revelations; and he also gave Solomon directions how to build the temple. Isaiah received many revelations, and prophesied of the first and second coming of Christ; also of the restoration of the House of Israel in the latter-days. The Lord said unto Jeremiah, go and prophesy to Zedekiah, and to the princes of Judah; and say unto them, that if they do not forsake their wickedness and turn to me, the king of Babylon shall come and destroy the city of Jerusalem, burn the temple, and that they shall be carried away captive into Babylon, and there remain seventy years. When the seventy years of captivity were fulfilled, the Lord raised up Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, Ezra, and many others whom he commanded to gather the Jews together, and proclaim to them that the time was come for them to return, and rebuild Jerusalem. The revelations given to these men were different from those given to Moses, Aaron, and Joshua; because the restoration of the Jews, and rebuilding of the city and temple after the Babylonish captivity was quite a different work from that of the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. We might mention many other instances when new revelations were given differing from any that had ever been given before; but we forbear; for it sufficeth to say, that God has performed many works during both the patriarchal, and Mosaic dispensations, and has always given revelations adapted to each respective work. But to hasten.

At the commencement of the Christian era, the Lord commenced one of the greatest works that he has ever performed since the beginning, as follows: First, God, or Christ manifest in the flesh; second, sending John the Baptist as a forerunner to prepare the way, and pro- [93] claim that the Kingdom of God was at hand; third, Christ being baptized and then inviting all to take up their cross and follow him; fourth, choosing twelve disciples, and other seventy, whom he sent before him with a proclamation, also that the Kingdom of God was at hand; fifth, his being crucified, or offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the world; sixth, his resurrection; seventh, the establishment of his Kingdom; eighth, to have the Gospel preached to all nations. Hence he said to his servants, or adopted sons, Peter, James, John, Matthew, Mark, Thomas, Luke, and all the apostles, and the elders, &c.: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature:” “Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

From what the apostle says, we are not to expect any other gospel than that which they were sent to preach: “Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” And all Christians admit that Christ previous to his ascension established the principles of his gospel in the minds of his disciples; and if they with others had abided by all his precepts, which were delivered prior to his ascension, they would have been saved if another revelation had never been given, that is, they would have received eternal life. Indeed, the principles of the gospel were known at the very commencement of the church. Yet the revelations that the apostles received were of major importance, for their temporal salvation, and the advancement of the cause of God. But says one, if they understood, and had obeyed the gospel, what was the use of any more revelations? We will answer this question by asking another: for instance, a man takes an orphan and adopts him his son; after the ceremony of adoption is performed will he not, if a just parent, first instruct and give him a good education, and thus improve his mind; and when he has arrived to a mature age, give him directions and set him to work to perform that which he has for him to do? And now we ask, for what purpose did Peter, Paul, John, and many others of the apostles receive revelations? Most certainly God did not reveal another gospel; but he revealed to them many other things of importance; first, he directed them to a place of safety at the time Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman army; second, he gave them instructions how to travel, and where it was his will that they should go to preach the gospel: for instance, the Lord knowing where the gospel could be preached with success, directed his servants to such places: for example, he said to Philip, “go and join thyself to the Eunuch’s chariot:” the angel stood by Paul, saying, “come over to Macedonia and help us:” Peter falling into a trance saw a vision, and learned the will of God concerning the Gentiles receiving the gospel; and then being directed to go with the messengers of Cornelius. Third, he gave them the Spirit of revelation, or phophecy by which they obtained a knowledge of things to come; also to instruct the saints with all the glorious promises of the [94] first resurrection;—their reign on earth, and their reward in the Celestial Kingdom of Glory. These things were a comfort, joy, and consolation to them in the time of affliction, and persecution.

The apostles, John, Peter, and Paul, received many revelations after the gospel was preached, and many obeyed it and lived up to its requirements, and died rejoicing in hope of a glorious resurrection, which shows that the gospel was established, and they through an obedience to it had become the sons of God; and as they were doing the work of the Lord they received such instructions from him as were adapted to the work he had given them to do. The apostles by the Spirit of prophecy forewarned the saints of the rise of anti-Christ, and the great falling away. Yet all their revelations were not given to cause them to adopt some other doctrine, or gospel. Thus we discover that the object of new revelation from the time of the creation, till the sacred volume was closed, was to carry the purposes of God into effect. And tell me, O man! when did God ever do a work on earth without first revealing it to his servants, and when necessary employed them as instruments to do it? “Surely,” says the prophet, “the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”—Amos, iii. 7. “Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”—Prov. xxix. 18.

Again, tell me! has the Lord yet any work to do on earth, or when the volume of inspiration was closed did he cease to be a God to give revelations, and work miracles? If he does not do any other work on earth, woe be unto the inhabitants thereof. But perhaps the testimony of John will now come with force to the mind of the reader: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.”

Indeed, according to the testimony of the prophets the Lord has one of the greatest works to perform, as yet, that he has ever done since he spoke the word, chaos heard, and the world rolled into order.

It is plain from our Saviour’s parable of the labourers, that God has had, and has yet works to perform in various ages of the world, which he has and will do by giving revelations, and empowering his servants to work miracles: “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and he saw others standing idle in the market-place, and said unto them go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.”—Math. xx. 1–7. [95]

It is probable that the term hour in this parable is a figure of a certain epoch or age of the world; and the different hours, peradventure, has reference to different dispensations, or times when God hath commissioned his servants to do certain works: for instance, he called Adam, and the first patriarchs, which are represented by the householder hiring labourers early in the morning. Again, the calling of Noah is represented by the third hour. Moses, Aaron, and others by the sixth; the apostles and elders, &c., by the ninth; and the calling of servants, and sending them into the vineyard of the Lord in the last days which is or will be the fulfilment of what John described concerning the angel that was to fly through the midst of heaven, is represented by the servants being called at the eleventh hour.

It is evident that the calling of labourers at the eleventh hour, has an allusion to a latter-day work; because the elapse of time, according to the parable, between the former dispensations, was greater than that between the eleventh hour, and the time of reckoning.

Again, the fact that those who are called at the eleventh hour have to work but one hour, does not a little favour the idea, that the great work of God in the last days will be a short work. There have been many different times or dispensations, when the Lord called servants, and sent them to work in his vineyard, which we have not mentioned, or which were not represented by this parable: for the Saviour only mentioned some of the most prominent epochs in the history of the church, from the beginning to the time of the reckoning with all the servants of God, and when they shall receive their reward and reign with Christ on earth.

Having thus glanced at the object of revelations in various ages of the world—we will now leave this part of the subject.

It is reported, and many of the clerical order have concurred in stating that the Latter-Day Saints believe, and preach a new gospel; and the reasons why they make such a statement we conceive to be; first, because we believe that it is our privilege to receive revelations, as well as the former-day saints; and that we contend that revelations have been given, and men commissioned once more to preach the gospel; second, they have cherished the nonsensical, unscriptural, and unchristian-like idea, that another revelation cannot be given without revealing a new gospel. We are often troubled with individuals who come to us, accusing us of preaching another gospel. Many of the clergy accuse us of the same thing, and by so doing they display as much ignorance of the bible, and the design of revelation, as any set of men we could mention. The idea that a new revelation cannot be given without revealing another gospel, is in direct hostility to the whole tenor of the scriptures.

Now we positively deny that we preach any other gospel, than that which Christ, and the apostles preached. We make this statement to correct the public mind of the erroneous idea, that we preach another gospel.

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