By Elder Alfred White
During the summer of 1885 my mind was very much exercised about the manner of the redemption of Zion, which was caused by the manifestation of the Spirit, both in tongues and in prophecy, given at several different times through the summer and through several different persons and all agreeing that the redemption of Zion was very near at hand, and some saying of it as “even at the door.”
I had been thinking of Z. H. Gurley and J. W. Briggs, and what they had done for the cause; and after all they had fallen, although they had occupied such high positions. This caused me to wonder how the weak ones of the Church could stand, if men who had received and borne such great testimony could be so shaken in their faith with regard to tithing, the doctrine of gathering and the redemption of Zion, as I knew that the Church had accepted these doctrines, as well as the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, in which they [were] taught. I had understood from reading Section 63, paragraph 8, of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, that the redemption of Zion would be by purchase.
These things caused me to doubt whether the before-mentioned gifts were of God or not, as it appeared to me to be an utter impossibility for the Saints to purchase this land anywhere in the near future, because of the very high and rapidly advancing prices of all real estate in this region of country.
These things were a very great trial to my faith, because of the seeming impossibility for the land of Zion to be redeemed in the short time indicated through the gifts, without the intervention of the power of God.
These thoughts caused me to exclaim, “Oh, Lord, why suffer thy people to be tried so severely in this matter? Why not reveal unto thy people that which will relieve them of this great trial and let them know how the redemption of Zion shall be,” when I heard a voice (which I understood to be the voice of God) saying, “The time was when my people might have redeemed Zion, if they had kept my counsel, but now it has passed out of their power. I will redeem Zion in its time, and I will do it in this way.” Then I saw a narrow and very bright red ring, which enclosed Independence and a portion of the surrounding country, the center of which seemed to be a little southwest of where I was standing, on a high spot of ground. [(The Temple Lot is on a high spot of ground.)]
Then He said, “Do you see that ring?”
I said, “Yes.”
Then He said, “I have sanctified all of the ground inside of this ring, and I will not suffer any person to live inside of this ring except those who keep the celestial law. Now mine elders shall receive an endowment, and it shall be the same endowment that Peter had when he judged Ananias and Sapphira.” I was given to understand that only such elders received this endowment as were chosen by the Holy Ghost at this time.
“Now all written law ceases on the inside of this ring, but on the outside it shall continue as it is. Now my judgment commences inside of this ring which is the judgment of the Holy Ghost, that no sin may escape. By the written law and the judgments of men, many guilty ones go unpunished and many of the innocent suffer. You read in my word that Zion shall be redeemed by judgment. Many of my elders misrepresent me in regard to my judgment. They say it is storms, pestilence, earthquakes, etc., but this is not what I mean. I mean the judgment of the Holy Ghost, and as you see Peter yonder judging Ananias and Sapphira by the Holy Ghost, so shall the judgment be here. Death is laid at the feet of every person.
Then the vision opened to a very great distance, where I saw Peter judging Ananias and Sapphira by the Holy Ghost. Then looking back to near the center of the ring, I saw the judgment going on, yet at sufficient distance to prevent me from knowing anyone engaged in it. There were about ten or twelve men standing with their backs toward me, and about four or five feet to their right stood a man judging some person who was in front of them, yet hid from my sight by the other men. Immediately there was a very great excitement around where the judgment was going on, which soon extended to all parts within the circle, all seeming to know that everyone must immediately get out of the ring or come up and be judged by the Holy Ghost, which proved fatal to all whose consciences did not hold them guiltless; and I saw many hastening to get outside of the ring.
Some ran, some walked and others went in wagons, one of whom I noticed more particularly. After he had driven over the ring he turned toward me, so that I could see the tears running down his cheeks, and I was enabled to hear what he was saying to himself. He said, “Now I have lost this great blessing because I have not lived up to my privilege.” I was also given to understand that he could soon prepare himself by repentance and faithfulness to return and be able to abide the judgment, which he immediately sought to do.
I also noticed another one, on foot, who did not care for, or know, what he had lost, but seemed to be glad he had escaped the judgment, and showed no signs of repentance. I understood that both of these were Saints. I looked back to where the judgment had been going on, but it had all vanished.
Then I asked to know what degree of perfection would have to be attained to enable one to abide the judgment, and to have it manifested by pointing out someone that I knew. This He refused to do, but would tell me what kind of a character could abide the judgment and what kind of a character would have to go out. He said all those whose words had been just and true, all those in whose hearts there was no guile or deceit, can abide the judgment. He also told me that the following characters could not abide the judgment: All those that forgive with their lips, but not with their hearts; all those who have not spoken the true sentiments of their own hearts.
I had formerly believed that the land of Zion would comprise a great portion of America, which caused me to say, “If this is all the land of Zion, it is a failure, as I understand it.”
Then He said, “It is wisdom in me to sanctify but a small portion at a time, for you saw that many went out, and if I had sanctified a large portion there would so many have gone out that it would have left a great part of the land desolate and waste; but by sanctifying a small portion at a time there will enough remain on the inside with those who are on the outside who are prepared, who will be invited to come in immediately to build up and occupy the places that are going to waste; and when all of the land on the inside is filled up, I will move out the line and sanctify another portion as you read in my word, ‘The borders of Zion shall be enlarged.’ This is what I mean. It is wisdom in me to prepare my Saints in this way for my coming. If I did not prepare them, they could not abide my presence. If I should come unto them in their present condition, my glory would destroy them.”
I was given to understand that the time had now come that the gospel should go forth from this place to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, with signs following it; and should go forth by those who received this endowment and that they had power given them to smite the earth with all the plagues as often as they would—such as lightning, plagues, earthquakes, etc.
After I saw the foregoing vision I was very much exercised in my mind over it, as it was so different from anything I had ever thought of. I commenced reading and studying the Book of Doctrine and Covenants to see if it would corroborate any such idea, and immediately after I had finished it, which took about six months, I dreamed that I was telling the vision to some person, and told it all right until I came down to where I saw the judgment going on, and I said “He laid death at the door of every house.”
Then I heard the same voice that I heard in the vision saying to me in an emphasized tone, “Tell it as I told it to you. You have misrepresented me. I told you I would put death to the feet of every person” (italics added).
I said, “I see I misrepresented a little, but I thought it would not make any difference.”
He said,”It does make a difference, for this belongs to the vision I gave you and is a part of it.”
I awoke immediately after this. I never told the vision until I received the above dream. (Vision 30:3–4)