Commencing with Adam who was the first man who is spoken of in Daniel as being the “Antient of days” or in other words the first and oldest of all, the great grand progenitor of whom it is said in another place he is Michael because he was the first and father of all, not only by progeny, but he was the first to hold the spiritual blessings, the plan to whom was made known the plan of ordinances for the Salvation of his posterity unto the end, and to whom Christ was first revealed, and through whom Christ has been revealed from heaven and will continue to be revealed from henceforth.  Adam holds the Keys of the dispensation of the fulness of times, i.e. the dispensation of all the times have been and will be revealed through him from the beginning to Christ and from Christ to the end of all world the dispensations that have [been and] are to be revealed

 

Here we learn Adam’s important place in history.  He holds the keys of all dispensations, meaning it is he “through whom Christ has been revealed from heaven and will continue to be revealed from henceforth.”  There is a parallel verbal structure here:  Christ was first revealed, Christ has been revealed since, and he will continue to be revealed in the future.  Likewise there was a dispensation in the beginning, there were dispensations from him to our time, and there are “dispensations that are to be revealed.”  The parallel structure alerts us to an equivalence.  To receive a dispensation is to have Christ revealed.

Who was to receive these dispensations which were to be revealed some time after 1840?  It was Joseph’s purpose to initiate all the saints in Nauvoo into this priesthood or fellowship with God.  Within a year Joseph would receive from the Lord the commandment to build a Temple there, “For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood” (DC 124:28).   If Joseph was successful in bringing the saints into the presence of God to receive this priesthood, then our records must be replete with accounts of the saints afterward receiving their dispensations.  Such a society would be worthy to be called Zion, because all of it’s citizens would be “equal in obtaining heavenly things”, and would all be “partakers of the heavenly gift” (DC 78:6, 4 Nephi 1:3).  If he was not successful, we should look for evidence that the words “priesthood”, “ordinance”, and “dispensation” acquired different meaning in Latter-day Saint discourse after Joseph’s death as a means of covering up this great failure.

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