God Will Cleanse His Church Again
By Richard and Pamela Price
Less than four years after Joseph Smith III had been ordained to be his father’s successor as the prophet of the Church, he received a divinely-given dream. In the experience, he saw the Church depicted as a woman in a degraded condition, and it was interpreted to mean that God had entrusted him (Joseph III) with the task of caring for and cleansing the Church.
The Church was then in a scattered condition because of the Utah Apostasy, and many of the saints had lost all hope of the Lord cleansing it. To them the Church was dead! But in spite of the lack of faith on the part of tens of thousands of saints, the Lord called upon Joseph III to be His prophet and direct the work of cleansing the Church.
Apostle W. W. Blair, who was Joseph’s missionary traveling companion at the time, recorded President Smith’s experience in his journal, and it can now be read in The Memoirs of President W. W. Blair, pages 93–94. Elder Blair also sent a copy of the experience in a letter to Editor Isaac Sheen, who published it in the True Latter Day Saints’ Herald for February 15, 1864, pages 55–56. Brother Blair wrote:
Bro. Sheen:—I must tell you something more of the good time we had last October, in visiting around with Bros. Joseph, Alexander and David Smith, and Bro. Win. Davis. I think the incidents which I shall relate will be duly appreciated by the saints.
On Friday, Oct. 16th , I accompanied the brethren to Galland’s Grove [lowa]. We stopped at the house of Bro. Alexander McCord. That night Joseph [III] had a remarkable night vision, which he told in the morning, he said: “I saw in my dream a woman, whom I was to receive into my charge, and under my watch, care, and counsel, and she was almost wild, having been held captive a long season by barbarians, who had degraded and dishonored her. She was nearly naked. The clothes that were upon her were tattered and torn, and very filthy withal, and her whole appearance was that of extreme wretchedness. In her pitiable condition, she looked with distrust upon all around her, especially on me, apparently fearing lest I, too, would abuse and disgrace her. My heart was deeply moved with her deplorable condition. I ordered that she be washed, her hair combed, and that suitable apparel be given her, including clean underclothes. My request having been complied with, I now saw her again. But how changed, how entirely different from what I saw her last. Her garments now were of spotless purity, her eye beamed with joy and delight, her fears and misgivings were entirely banished, and she expressed her unbounded gratitude to me, as her friend and benefactor, while she clasped her arms around my neck, and imprinted upon my cheek, a multitude of kisses, with all the tender affection of a mother.”
I said, when I heard it, that the dream or vision was of the Lord, and that the woman was the church, her captors a corrupt ministry, her wild, ragged, dirty condition, represented her sinful, demoralized state, her distrust represents what is being said by many of the saints in Europe and America, that is, that by and by Joseph [III] will lead into the same corrupt doctrines and practices as Brigham Young, Strang, and others. The clothing in clean apparel represents the redeeming of the saints by righteousness; the balance is easily understood. How plain this points out Joseph’s mission, and what will be done! ....
During the fifty-one years which followed this spiritual dream, Joseph III was president of the Church and he worked fervently to cleanse it. As a result it was blessed and strengthened, and many were converted to Christ through it. But after Joseph’s death, the Church was again “held captive a long season.” Her “captors” were (and are) as before, the Church leaders. They brought in supreme directional control and the present Liberal Apostasy. They have “degraded and dishonored her” by rejecting the precious distinctives of the Restoration Movement. Today she is again in a “pitiable condition.” But just as Christ intervened to cleanse His only true Church after the 1844–1860 Apostasy by sending a true prophet, He will send another prophet who will give the guidance and power that is needed. God has promised:
Behold, I say unto you, The redemption of Zion must needs come by power; therefore I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel, for ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham; and ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched out arm; and as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be. Therefore, let not your hearts faint, for I say not unto you as I said unto your fathers, Mine angel shall go up before you, but not my presence; but I say unto you, Mine angels shall go before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land. (DC 100:3d–f)
Indeed, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is in bondage at this time, but Joseph’s spiritual dream of the woman being cleansed and the above passage of scripture, reassure us that Christ can and will cleanse the Church this time also. The question is, Will we desert Him and His Church, or will we remain members of it until He cleanses it? Some are saying that the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is dead, that it is impossible for God to cleanse it, and they are having their names removed from its rolls. This is a tragic mistake, for to what true prophet has God revealed that He has rejected it? When has God commanded us to remove our names, or to reorganize the higher quorums of the Church and give it another name? This is a time to study the gospel even more diligently, and to remain even more devoted to Christ’s Church. It is a time to be active in an independent branch until the Holy Ghost bears witness to each of us that God has moved to cleanse the Church again.