The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXVIII. Popular Bibles

§ 3. Hierarchy

The Book itself provides for a complicated hierarchy with a President—“Seer, Translator, Prophet”—having great authority and supported by two counsellors, the three regarded as successors to “Peter, James, and John,” symbolizing the Trinity and perpetuating the priesthood of Melchizedek. There are besides a patriarch and twelve apostles, forming an itinerant high council, and authorized to ordain elders, priests, and deacons, to conduct religious meetings and to administer the sacraments. There are also “Seventies” who serve as missionaries and propagandists, “high priests” to take the places when necessary of those above them, and below all such of the order of Melchizedek there is the Aaronic priesthood usually occupied with temporal concerns.

Not to the Book of Mormon providing this elaborate hierarchy, but to the hierarchy itself which has not always recognized that

  • “New occasions teach new duties,”
  • is due much that affronts “Gentiles.”

    The Book differs in its spirit little from the Bible. The Latter Day Saints, in or out of the hierarchy, who in great numbers try to live up to the teachings of the Bible and the Book, live simple, godly lives of love and faith and hope. But they are themselves an argument against their Book. By their daily conduct they testify that there is no need for their volume. The spirit the Bible inculcates meets human needs wherever there are human souls. To reveal a special Bible for each people in the world would seem to deny the unity of human experience and the universality of human brotherhood.