Joseph Fielding formulated these questions for answer by Parley P. Pratt, in the Millennial Star –
Question Was the kingdom of God organized on the earth before the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh? and was the Melchizedeck priesthood on the earth and in operation without the kingdom; for instance, had the Nephites this priesthood without the kingdom, before and after the coming of Christ?
Answer: The kingdom of God is his government – wherever his government existed, there his kingdom existed, whether under the Patriarchal, Mosaic, or Christian dispensations, (as they are called) and wherever the kingdom of God existed, there the offices and ordinances existed. The priesthood of Melchizedeck was never in operation on the earth without the kingdom of God also: for the priesthood is the government, or rather the source and fountain from which springs all things pertaining to his government on the earth.
This priesthood is “without beginning of days or end of years.” It was first introduced upon the earth in the days of Adam. It has not always existed on the earth; but has sometimes been “caught up unto God and to his throne.” Whoso receive this priesthood receiveth the kingdom of God. Sometimes a herald has been raised up, (for instance, John the Baptist,) to proclaim the kingdom of God at hand. Such instances occur of necessity, because it has been sometimes lost, or taken from the earth. This was the case in the days of John, and it has been the case in our own day. John said it was at hand in his day, and Jesus Christ says it will be again at hand, when we see the signs of his coming, (see Luke xxi. 31.) But after all that can be said on this subject, the kingdom of God, which is to finally prevail over all things and govern the earth, is the one most dwelt upon by the sacred writers.
Question: May all men who come into the new covenant, obtain the higher priesthood in this life, if they seek after, and live for it?
Answer: God divideth the gifts severally as he will. All men cannot obtain the same office: if so, where would be the body? Yet the whole church, both male and female, are partakers of the priesthood, as so many branches of the tree, or so many members of one body. But each in their own place. Hence they are all one.
Question: Paul says, that the law made nothing perfect.How then are they to be perfected who died under the law? and can they be meet for the kingdom of God unless they are perfected?
Answer: Those who lived and died under the law must finally be perfected by the Gospel, or remain imperfect, and inherit another kingdom, instead of the celestial.
Question: If the Saints in the last days die before they become perfect, how can they be ready for the first resurrection; or will they be under a course of instruction after their spirits leave their bodies; or can they come forth in the first resurrection if they are imperfect?
Answer: There is a progression in light and truth in the world to come, as well as in this world. The Saint begins to receive light and truth in this world, by the spirit of truth, when he first receives it (the spirit) through the ordinances. He continues to progress in light and truth to the end of his life, if faithful; and then, if he is not guided into all truth, the spirit of God still opens truth after truth to his understanding, till afterwards he finds himself in possession of “all truth,” or in other words, a “fullness of truth.” He is then perfect as his father in heaven is perfect, and pure as he is pure: being glorified in him, and he in him.
Question: What does Peter mean in 1st Peter 3 and 19, and 4, 6?
Answer: He means that Jesus Christ, after his resurrection visited the spirits in prison, who had been confined in chains of darkness and bondage from the flood until Christ’s coming, and that he preached the gospel unto them that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; but lie according to God in the spirit. – Hence you see that the priesthood is without end; and that it ministers salvation in eternity as well as in time. here is an illustration of that text which says, that he (Christ) was anointed “to preach deliverance to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
Question: It is said in Exodus xxiv, 10, “And they saw the God of Israel, and there was under his feet as it were paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in its clearness” – also, “They saw God and did eat and drink.” But in the first of the Gospel of John, and at the 18 verse, it is said, “No man hath seen God at any time.” Is there not here a contradiction?
Answer: There is a positive contradiction, as it now stands; but there was no contradiction when the Scriptures existed in their purity. In the revelations which God has given in these last days, this matter is made plain. The truth is this: that without the priesthood of Melchizedeck, “No man can see God and live.”
Question: How can the stars fall from heaven to earth, when they (as far as we know) are much larger than the earth?
Answer: We are nowhere given to understand that all the stars will fall or even many of them: but only “as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken with a mighty wind.” The stars which will fall to the earth, are fragments, which have been broken off from the earth from time to time, in the mighty convulsions of nature. Some in the days of Enoch, some perhaps in the days of Peleg, some with the ten tribes, and some at the crucifixion of the Messiah. These all must be restored again at the “times of restitution of all things.” this will restore the ten tribes of Israel; and also bring again Zion, even Enoch’s city. It will bring back the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God; that you and I may partake of it. [See Rev. ii. 7.] When these fragments, (some of which are vastly larger than the present earth) are brought back and joined to this earth, it will cause a convulsion of all nature; the graves of the Saints will be opened, and they rise from the dead; while the mountains will flow down, the vallies rise, the sea retire to its own place, the islands and continents will be removed, and earth be rolled together as a scroll. The earth will be many times larger than it is now. – ‘If I have told you of earthly things and ye believe not; what would you think if you were to be told of heavenly things?”
Question: What is meant by that common and popular saying, “The Canon of scripture is full? Why is not the Canon of the law of England full, as well?!
Answer: Your first seven questions were easily answered, but in this eighth we must confess our ignorance. We are so little versed in sectarian logic that we know not the meaning of this text; nor indeed, do we know where to find it in sacred writ. We have read all the books of the Old and New Testaments, and also the Book of Mormon, the Book of Jasher, and the book of Enoch, and scores of New Revelations, and yet we have never found this text in either of them. Perhaps it is to be found in the Book of Traditions! If we must venture an opinion on this text, we suppose it to apply to some false system, where the people worship a dumb and changeable God; whom they suppose to have been in the habit of talking with man, in olden times; but who has long since lost his speech, either by old age or some other means, so that they should never hear from him any more. At any rate, we are sure of one thing, viz., that the text cannot apply to the true and living God, nor to the holy Scriptures, for they everywhere hold forth the principle of continued revelation, as attainable by all men who seek it in the appointed way. So we conclude that the Canon of Scripture will never be so full as to answer in the place of the Holy Spirit of Revelation, which God has promised to all his children.