Guardian Angles

> Does everyone have a guardian angel?

"The Lord is here with us, not in person, but his angels are around us." (Brigham Young, DBY p. 41)

"Angels gather the elect, and pluck out all that offends on earth, and carry the petitions and supplications of men, women, and children to the mansions of remembrance..." (John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom p.31)

"It would seem from a careful perusal of the scriptures, that the angels, while God has Saints upon the earth, stay in this lower world to ward off evil." (Ibid)

"Undoubtedly angels often guard us from accidents and harm, from temptation and sin. They may properly be spoken of as guardian angels...The common belief, however, that to every person born into the world is assigned a guardian angel to be with that person constantly, is not supported by available evidence. It is a very comforting thought, but at present without proof of its, until further knowledge is obtained, we may say that angels may be sent to guard us according to our need; but we cannot say with certainty that there is a special guardian angel, to be with every person constantly." (John A. Widtsoe, "Gospel Interpretations" p. 29)

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When Moroni first appeared to Joseph Smith, among the scriptures he quoted were these words of Isaiah:

"And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall a assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Is 11:12)
Joseph Smith later received the "keys of the gathering of Israel from the four part of the earth" (D&C 110:11) from Moses, who appeared to him in the Kirtland Temple.

Many events have taken place during the past 150 years as Israel is being gathered which I will not outline here, instead I would like to discuss the temporal gathering for the members of the Lord's church during this dispensation.

What was the 19th Century Gathering?

As converts joined the church and were filled by the Spirit:

"that testimony resting down upon them in fullness, burning with them, impelling them to do that which they never contemplated doing before, that is, forsake all their old associations, and sever the ties that had heretofore bound them to their kindred and their homes, and to come to the land which God has designated as the place to which they should gather." (George Q. Cannon, 1884, JD 26:41)

Purpose for Gathering

The doctrine or spirit of gathering has been an important principle of the Lord's gospel throughout the ages. In each dispensation, the Lord's people have physically gathered together, usually by way of commandment. The gathering has also taken place in this last dispensation. The Lord has specifically declared specific locations as gathering places. Among these places were: "Kirtland, Ohio, Missouri, Nauvoo Illinois, and the Great Basin region in the Rocky Mountains. Why is gathering so important that the Lord would give it by way of commandment?

  1. The major reason is to build a temple.

    "What was the object of gathering the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world? ...The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation..." (Joseph Smith, Teachings p.308)

    "It has been necessary to gather us out from the nations and countries of the world, for if we had remained in those lands we could not have received the ordinances of the holy Priesthood of the Son of God, which are necessary for the perfection of the Saints preparatory to his coming." (Brigham Young, 1868, JD 12:161)

    "That is what we are here for. That we may be fed with knowledge and understanding, that we may learn the law of the Gospel, the law of the Zion of God, the laws of the Kingdom of God, ...all things tending to exaltation." (John Taylor, 1883, JD:26:130)

  2. For safety.

    "And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm..." (D&C 115:6)

    "it (Rocky Mountains) has been designed from many generations to hide up the Saints in the last days until the indignation of the Almighty be over...This is the best place on the earth for the Latter-day Saints...Here is the place in which the Lord designed to hide his people." (Brigham Young, 1861, p. 2-3)

  3. To fulfill prophecy.

    These early saints believed that the gathering that they witnessed fulfilled many of the prophecies in the Book of Mormon, Bible, and Doctrine and Covenants.

    "This is one of the signs of the second coming of the Son of Man." (Charles W. Penrose, 1881, JD 22:168)

    "He told us that his people should be gathered from all quarters of the earth into one place upon the face of this great continent. Has he fulfilled it? ...God has fulfilled his to the gathering of his people from the four quarters of the earth." (Orson Pratt, 1879, JD 21:134)

    "The Prophet Isaiah, in the 35th chapter, says, 'The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose." ...The prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled." (Orson Pratt, 1867, JD 12:93)

    Likewise, LeGrand Richards felt the prophecy in Jeremiah 31 regarding the gathering has been fulfilled by the gathering in Utah. (MW&W p. 226)

  4. To be separated from the wicked.

    "That they may be gathered from the midst of the world's wickedness and corruption, to a place where they can better serve the Lord and accomplish his purposed...the Lord has delivered us from the hands of our enemies." (Joseph F. Smith 1867, JD 11:311)
  5. To be governed by own laws -- freedom.

    "What can be accomplished by a concentration of Saints, in one as to be governed by our own laws...Without sufficient numbers, it would be useless to ask for admission."
  6. To establish the Kingdom of God.

    "We are here to build up and establish the kingdom of God." (John Taylor, 1884, JD 26:67)
  7. To prepare to take the gospel to all nations.

    "Hence, in the concentration of numbers, we...have power to preach to millions in all parts of the earth at the same time." (Orson Pratt, 1856, JD 3:301)

    "We have gathered here for the express purpose of establishing Zion which, according to the scriptures, must be before the gospel can be sent to the Jews." (Wilford Woodruff, 1876 JD 18:221)

  8. To prepare for the future tribulations.

    "Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked." (D&C 29:8)

The Gathering Begins

As the elders began preaching the gospel in the British Isles, Joseph Smith instructed them to not preach the doctrine of gathering.

"The Prophet Joseph told us just before we left that we must not preach the gathering to the people, because at that time there was no place to gather to...'do no say any thing about the gathering.' We did as he directed..." (John Taylor, 1883, JD 24:199)

"Creating a desire to emigrate was not difficult, for many Saints were suffering the same economic privations that had already persuaded tens of thousands of other Britons to migrate. Even more important to them however, were the spiritual attractions of Nauvoo, Illinois. America, after all, was identified by revelation as the land of Zion...The British Mission presidency understood all this, but they were reluctant to allow emigration without authorization from the Twelve." (Allen, Esplin, Whittaker, "Men with a Mission, p.135-136)

In 1840, the First Presidency issued a statement "to the Saints Scattered Abroad."
"...the time has now come, when it is necessary to erect a house of prayer, a house of order, as house for worship of our God, where the ordinances can be attended to agreeably...To those who feel thus interested, and can assist in this great work, we say, let them come to this place." (HC 4:186)

Was Gathering a commandment?

Was the gathering a direct commandment to new converts?

"They were not asked or persuaded to immigrate to America, but the unseen power of gathering rested upon them as they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (LeGrand Richards, MW&W, p. 219)

"You gather not only from choice, but by actual commandment." (Orson Pratt, 1879, JD 21:134)

As the spirit of gathering did move people to gather, the missionaries were given specific instructions to gather their converts.
"Our mission is to preach the Gospel, and then to gather the people who embrace it." (John Taylor, 1882, JD 23:262)

"The Elders of Israel should go forth calculating to help the people both temporally and spiritually...Go and preach the gospel, and help the honest-in-heart to gather." (Brigham Young, 1867 JD 12:38)

Brigham Young explained a major difference in the mission of preaching the gospel in this dispensation compared to the ancient Christian church.
"In those days the command was 'Go to the nation of the earth; in these days it is 'Come from the nations of the earth." (Brigham Young, 1867 JD 12:67)

"Suppose that spirit of gathering is resisted, and a man says "Well, I have got a good situation here, a nice little home..." and he continues in that course, how...can that man get the special and particular salvation which belongs to gathering?" (H. W. Naisbitt, 1879, JD 21:40)

Opposition Mounts

As opposition mounted against the church, leaders "down-played" the intentions of the missionaries to gather converts.

"Some people have an idea that they are simply emigration agents to gather out people to Utah. It is not so...those who have obeyed (the gospel) have all been baptized...and they all want to come here...There is no need to coax them to come." (Charles Penrose, 1881, JD 22:167)
The U.S. Government "called upon the government of Great Britain to help to stop the progress of this work...appealed to the several European governments to pass laws, or do something else to prevent the "Mormons" coming from their respective countries to this 'asylum for the oppressed.' (Joseph F. Smith, 1882, JD 24:151)

Gathering Policy Shifts

Immigration from foreign countries to Utah peaked in the 1860's and gradually declined with each decade. "There were many causes for the decline in Mormon immigration...The conflict between the church and the nation often diverged energy from missionary effort and finally brought an effective halt to conversion and immigration...Although the Mormon immigration did not precisely follow general trends, the drop in newcomers to Utah mirrored a comparable decline in national figures...In 1880 out of total church membership of 160,000 only 11,000 remained in Europe."

"The first suggestion of a change in official church policy on immigration may be seen in a New York Times article in 1890 which quoted George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency saying, 'instead of inducing them to come to this country, we really urge our missionaries to dissuade them in any way they can.' ...Cannon's conference speech in 1898 clearly counseled the Saints "in various lands where they embrace the gospel, remain quiet for a while...not be anxious to break up their home to gather to Zion." By 1907 the temporary injunction had developed into a policy that foreign members stay in the country of their conversion and build up the church there...A 1911 message of the First Presidency urged members not to emigrate." (Arrington, "The Mormon Experience," 1st ed. p. 139-140) After the desolation caused by World War II, Harold B. Lee said,

"The Saints in every land should prepare for instruction that shall come from the First Presidency as to where they shall be gathered...not be disturbed until instruction is given." (Harold B. Lee, CR 1948)
During the administration of David O. McKay, the policy was clarified further that every nation is now the gathering place for its own people.

Gather to Stakes of Zion

"Today, as stakes and missions are established throughout the nations of the world and temples are being built in many lands, the Saints are encouraged to remain in their homelands to help strengthen the Church among their own people." (LeGrande Richards, MW&W p. 219)

"The 'gathering of Israel' is effected when the people of the faraway countries accept the gospel and remain in their native lands. The gathering of Israel for Mexicans is in Mexico; in Scandinavia, for those of the northern countries,- the gathering place for the Germans is in Germany; and the Polynesians, in the islands; for the Brazilians, in Brazil, for the Argentines, in Argentina." (Spencer W. Kimball, CR 1975)

"There are many lands and many places where Israel shall gather. After they join the true church, 'they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.'" (2 Ne 9:1-2)...For the present, the Lord's people, who are Zion, are called to gather in the stakes of Zion as these are established in the lands of their inheritance. (Bruce R. McConkie "A New Witness for the Articles of Faith," p. 565)

"And, behold, there is none other place appointed...Until the day cometh when there is found no more room for them; and then I have other place which I appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion." (D&C 101:20-21)

Is Zion Safer than Her Stakes?

By now gathering to Zion's stakes, do we miss out on any of the blessings and purposes of gathering to a center place instead? Is Zion safer than her stakes?

"The time will come when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes." (Joseph Smith, 1839 JD 6:239)

"The all important thing is not where we live, but whether or not our hearts are pure." (Harold B. Lee, 1968)

"Arise and shine forth, that they light may be a standard for the nations; and that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, AND UPON HER STAKES, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth." (D&C 115:5-6)

"The spiritual gathering takes precedence over the temporal. The locale or locales, the site or sites, the places where houses will be built and crops sown is of secondary concern. Men can be saved wherever they live, but they cannot be saved, regardless of their abode, unless they accept the gospel and come unto Christ wherever he may be found...There is no difference between Zion, as a single city, and other Zions wherever they may be located. The same blessings are available in them all...But let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter and recite the crowning reason for gathering to Zion or to her stakes. It is to receive the blessings found in the temples of the Lord." (Bruce R. McConkie, NWAoF p. 567, 570, 574)

Gathering to the United States

In his book, "A New Witness for the Articles of Faith," Bruce R. McConkie discusses a common myth that the gathering of Israel is to the United States only.

"The idea that the United States is the sole gathering place for Israel in the last days is false. As Israel was scattered by stages, so she will be gathered by stages. There was a day when all Israel was called to the mountains of Israel in the United States. Now the new converts are called into the stakes of Zion in their own lands and are expected to build up the kingdom there...the gathering of Israel, in its fulness, will be worldwide and in every nation and among every people, and church members in these nations will not be invited to forsake their own nations and come to an American Zion." (Bruce R. McConkie, NWAoF p. 519)
However, let us not minimize the important role that the United States will play in the great final gathering.
"The restored gospel is already going from this land to all other free nations. It does so under the protection of the United States, and we who travel do so on American passports. Eventually America will be the center of the final gathering of God's people as the Millennium approaches, and our flag will fly right on into that blessed time." (Mark E. Peterson, 1976 BYU)

Future gathering to Missouri

Will there not be a future gathering to the New Jerusalem located in Missouri? Yes, the Lord has declared it.

"And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God...And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven." (D&C 45:66, 69)

"What is our future destiny? ...Not many years will look forth to the western counties of the State of Missouri, and to the eastern counties of the State of Kansas, and in all that region round about you will see a thickly populated country, inhabited by a peaceful people, having their orchards, their fruit trees, their fields of grain...Who are all these people? And the answer will be--Latter-day Saints! Where have they came from? They have come from the nations of the earth! They have come from the mountains of Utah, from Arizona..." (Orson Pratt, 1879 JD 21:135)

Will we all be called to go to Missouri? Is our food storage to be used for that journey? Should we learn the pioneer skills necessary to make that trek?

Elder McConkie comments on this subject and these passages in his book, Millennial Messiah:

"Are all converts to the kingdom destined to come to western America? Where is Zion?...It is also clear that the gathered remnants of Joseph will build a holy city, a New Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri. Here also is Zion--Zion as a capital city--to which, again as the holy word records, Israel shall gather. Once again we ask: Will they all dwell in this Zion itself? Again the answer is clear. This will be a city whence the law goes forth. Gathered Israel shall dwell in various places; One place alone would never be able to contain them all."

"The revealed word relative to the gathering to Independence and its environs will come through the prophet of God on earth. When it does come--with the consequent return of the saints to that Zion which shall not be moved out of its place--THAT CALL WILL NOT BE FOR THE SAINTS IN GENERAL TO ASSEMBLE THERE. The return to Jackson County will be by delegates, as it were. Those whose services are needed there will assemble as appointed. The rest of Israel will remain in their appointed places. The Lord's house is a house of order, and faithful saints do as they are told and go at the bidding of their prophet, for his voice is the voice of the Lord." (Bruce R. McConkie, Millenial Messiah, p. 293-294)

Elder LeGrand Richards expressed a similar view, "While the Lord has indicated that his Zion of the latter days, to which Israel would be gathered, would be in America, and that the New Jerusalem would be built upon this land, it is obvious that such a gathering could not be to one city only." (LeGrand Richards, MW&W p. 212)

So What Should We Be Doing Now

We should be concentrating on the more important spiritual gathering. The places where we live right now are of secondary importance.

"It is not where you live, but how you live that is important." (Harold B. Lee, CR 1970).
In this last dispensation, we have a very important calling to gather in the lost sheep.
"And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect." (D&C 29:7)
Let us tend to this spiritual gathering. If a new temporal gathering is in our future, the Lord's prophet will declare it.

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> It was only recently that I really paid attention to D & C 85:1-5, which,
> refering to apostates, says in verse 4 "Neither is their genealogy to be
> kept, or to be had where it may be found on any of the records or history
> of the church." I think I may have run into this when trying to follow up
> on a lead in an old family history that refered to someone who was a
> member in the early days of the church. Should this line be pursued? How
> applicable should we view it even in reference to modern day records?

You need to take read this revelation in the context given. In 1832, the the church had not yet started seeking after their dead. Geneaologies as we know it, were not yet being gathered.

This verse can be better understood if we take a look at Ezra 2, which D&C 85:12 refers to. The Prophet was using similar principles in composing this letter to W.W. Phelps which was later received as revelation by the church and added to the D&C in 1876.

Anyway, Ezra 2:62 reads:

"These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood."

"This passage has reference to those who returned from the captivity who had intermarried among peoples who were not entitled to the blessings of the priesthood." (Joseph Fielding Smith, AGQ 4:165)

There were no baptisms for the dead performed in Ezra's time, genealogies were not kept for this purpose, but they were kept for priesthood lineage and blessings. If we read D&C 85:12 in a similar context, again I think it has to do with priesthood lineage. Thus, when an apostate is cast out of the church, his priesthood is taken and can't be traced on the records of the church. This does NOT mean that their ancestors should not have their work performed because D&C 85 has nothing to do with vicarious work for the dead. These principles were revealed later.

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In 1968, President Marion G. Romney gave a conference address in which he shared an experience which has always helped me. During his young married years, when he was struggling to make ends meet, his bishop asked him to donate $1000 toward the building of a new chapel. This amount was much more than others were asked to give, and he felt wasn't fair. However, he committed to pay it in three installments. As he was paying them, he read the scripture in Moroni 7:8:

"For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift..."

"This shocked me because I knew I was out $1000. Well, I went on and paid the three installments I had promised and then I paid several more to convince the Lord that I did it with the right attitude."

In another address:
"Some may ask, "How do I obtain these righteous feelings in giving? How do I overcome giving grudgingly? How do I obtain the `pure love of Christ?' To those I would say: Faithfully live all the commandments, give of yourselves, care for your families, serve in church callings, perform missionary work, pay tithes and offerings, study the scriptures and the list could go on. As you lose yourself in this service, the Lord will touch and soften your heart and gradually bring you to the feelings with which he blessed the people in King Benjamin's time, which prompted them to say, "Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of' their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (Mosiah 5:2.) (Marion G. Romney, CR Oct 1981)

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