Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 1/Number 12/The ancient order of things
THE ANCIENT ORDER OF THINGS.
The ancient order of things has engrossed the attention of the religious public to some extent in modern times, and has given rise to many parties and sects in the so called christian world; each one in their turn supposing that they had the ancient order of things among them, and had come to the standard of righteousness set up in the scriptures, and representing other religious denominations as having come short of the glory of God, and as not having come to the standard of truth, or else they had departed from it.
On this subject I am disposed to offer a few reflections, through the medium of the Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, by permission of the Editor.
What I understand by the ancient order of things, as used in modern dialect, is the order of things revealed in the bible, and taught to mankind by the holy prophets and apostles, who were divinely inspired to teach them the way of life and salvation. If I am correct in this conclusion the only way to settle the question about this order of things is to have recourse to the book, and let it speak for itself, and set forth the ancient order of things, as the holy pro-phets and apostles declared it, by [t]he spirit of inspiration.
I conclude, and I think correctly too, that it requires the entire order of things established by the Savior of the world, to constitute the ancient order of things, and not a part of it only.
The cause of the greatest difficulty among the religious sects seems to be this: that some take one part of this order, and add to it some things of their own invention; others take another part of it and add to that, and some content themselves with taking part of the order without adding any thing to it; and then the difficulty arise among them, who it is that is correct: if they would all stop, and consider, and view the ground on which they stand, I think that they would be enabled with but little reflection, to determine that there are none of them on tenable ground; neither can they be without taking the entire order of things laid down in the scriptures.
In attempting to set forth this order of things, we must begin where it begins; for if we commence right, we can end right, and if not, it will be impossible for us to understand the subject. We ask then what was the first thing that our heavenly Father done, when he began to establish this order among men? Answer: He inspired a man, or some men, and called them from among the rest of the world, to be his messengers to the world, and to proclaim his will to their fellow-men: to whom he revealed himself, and to whom he made known his will concerning the generation among whom they lived.—To them he gave revelations and commandments, not only for the regulation of their own conduct, but for the conduct of those who would receive their testimony. After they were sufficiently instructed, whether it took a longer or shorter period, they were sent forth to call upon their fellow men, and to administer to them in the name of the Lord Jesus according to the will of God, with certain promises which should be fulfilled on their own heads, as well as on the heads of those who should receive their testimony, and obey the commandments which should be delivered to them through these men; and the fulfillment of these promises was to be a testimony that the Lord had sent the men who had administered unto them.
In establishing his kingdom, church, or order, in the world the Savior seems to have pursued a certain system, if we can credit the account given by the apostle Paul in his epistles to the Corinthians and Ephesians. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, chap. 12: v. 28, he says: "And God set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles; then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." In the Ephesians, chap. 4: v. 11," And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers."
From these quotations it appears, the first thing the Savior done in order to establish his kingdom, was to choose and call apostles, or witnesses for himself; for apostles are witnesses; and these men after using the office of apostles or witnesses, became prophets, and after they were prophets, they became evangelists, and then came pastors, and teachers, and after that miracles, healings, diversities of tongues, and interpretation of tongues, &c. Such then was the ancient order of things, and in this manner did the Son of God build his church on earth, and establish his order among men.
If this matter is kept in view, that is, what Christ done first and what he done secondly and thirdly, the ancient order of things as set forth in the scriptures, will be easily understood; for if this account be true, the ancient order of things can never exist unless there are apostles first to begin this order with; for where apostles are not, there the ancient order is not; for the ancient order of things commenced with apostles, then came prophets; so that both apostles and prophets are necessary for the ancient order of things; for where prophets are not, there the ancient order of things is not; for the second thing which the Savior of the world done to establish this order, was to give some, prophets; and after this comes evangelists; and where evangelists are not, there the ancient order of things is not; for the third thing which the Savior done to establish the ancient order of things was to give some, evangelists.—And having these three orders established: namely, apostles, prophets, and evangelists; then followed on other things in their order, such as pastors, teachers, helps, governments, &c.; and then comes miracles, healings, diversities of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. This fills up the account which the apostle gives us of the ancient order of things, in the above quotations.
Now where these things are found, there the ancient order of things is found, and where they are not found, the ancient order of things is not found; or where any one of them is lacking, there the ancient order of things is not; and that for the best of all reasons, because it takes them all to make the ancient order of things. It would not be a perfect human body if there was an arm or leg taken off, and the reason would be that, without the arm or or leg the body could not be perfect, for it required every member which belongs to the body, to make it a perfect body; so in like manner, if any one of the above things are wanting, the remainder would not make the ancient order of things, no more than where an arm or a leg was wanting, the remaining members could make a perfect human body.
There is this peculiarity about the works of God, that to add to them is to injure them: and so it is to take from them. All the ingenuity of the world combined could not add any thing to the structure of the human body without injuring it; neither could they take any thing from it without doing it an injury; it is best just as it is; so is all the other works of God, in the spiritual as well as the natural kingdom; they are best as God formed them; to alter them any way is to make them worse instead of better.
The order of things which God established for the salvation of man, which is called in modern dialect, the ancient order of things, is in every respect calculated to produce the effect for which it was intended, that is to save men, and in order that men might be saved, it was necessary that an order of things should be established, beginning with apostles, and then to have prophets, and then evangelists, and after that pastors, teachers, &c. with gifts healings, miracles, tongues, interpretation of tongues, as an established order to continue as long as the Lord our God should call men to be his sons, and women to be his daughters.
When any man sets himself for to search out the ancient order of things, this is what he will find, if he succeeds in his design, and if he does not obtain this, he will not get the ancient order of things. No church need say to their fellow men, lo here is the ancient order of things, or lo it is there, unless they have the order before mentioned; for it matters not what order they may have, if they have not the order before mentioned, they have not the ancient order.
But let us descend to particulars; for there are ways and means which lead to the full development of this order. If there were apostles, it was because there were ways and means ordained of God to make them such, and ways and means too, which were calculated to produce this effect, to make men apostles. In order then to be an apostle a man must in the first instance believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the next place he must repent of all his sins, and then must be baptized for the remission of his sins, and must receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; after that he must continue in faith and obedience until he has obtained a manifestation of the Savior; for it was not sufficient to make apostles, that they saw Jesus Christ while he was in the flesh; but it was necessary that they should have a manifestation of him after he rose from the dead, that they might testify to the world, that he lives, and that he is on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens; this made men apostles, or witnesses for Jesus Christ.
Such was the ancient order of things in laying the foundation to establish the order of God, and out of this all the rest of the order grew.
These men thus qualified for their office, went forth, and called upon the rest of their fellow men to believe, repent of their sins, be baptized for the remission of them, and receive the Holy Spirit, which they ministered unto them by the laying on of their hands, and the people thus receiving the Holy Ghost were enabled by this gift, to prophecy, to see visions, and to dream dreams, and by these means grow up to be witnesses for Jesus Christ also, and become apostles, and obtain all the powers of the first; and as the first apostles grew up to be prophets, so those who were brought to a knowledge of the truth by their testimony, would grow up to apostles; and as the first would advance to be evangelists, those who came after them would be advan-cing to be prophets, and, until they also would become evangelists,—which seems to be the same as Patriarch, whose office it was to administer blessings and cursings in the name of Jesus Christ, according to the will of God. So each one in his turn as he passed along in his course, partook of all the powers of the spiritual kingdom, or the world to come, exactly according to the commission given to the apostles, that those who believed them [the apostles] should have signs following them. They were to cast out devils, speak with new tongues, lay hands on the sick and they should recover, take up serpents, and if they were to drink any deadly thing it should not hurt them, &c.
In the whole history of this religion as set forth in the scriptures, its order was the same; it produced the same effect among all people, whether they were Scythian, Barbarian, bond or free, Jew or Gentile, Greek or Roman, it mattered not what they were; for in this respect, there was neither Greek nor Jew, bond nor free, male nor female; but they were all one in Christ Jesus, and the same blessing belonged to all, and the same fruits followed all, and the order was the same, whether it was in Africa, Asia, or Europe, and that so perfectly so as to establish this fact forever, that the Lord has but one order of things, and that all other orders are not of him, and where this order of things is not found, there the Lord's order is not. This then is the ancient order of things, if we mean by the ancient order of things, the order of things laid down in the scriptures.
Men may invent order after order, and scheme after scheme, but as long as their order or orders of things do not consist in having apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, gifts, healings, miracles, divers kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, &c. their order is adverse to the order of heaven, and is not the ancient order of things as revealed in the scriptures.
All other order of things beside this are human orders, and not divine orders, and all other teachers are human teachers; for no teacher can be found in the world, of whom God approves but one who has obtained his office by reason of an apostle, whom God first called, and through him others were called;—we do not mean a dead apostle but a living one; for whenever there ceases to be apostles on earth, then the order of God has ceased, and the order of men, or devils, or of both has got its place. R.