I was doing some research this morning when I stumbled upon a very interesting passage from a book published in 1916 by Levi Rightmyer entitled, The Light of Truth as Revealed in the Holy Scriptures. The entire text of the book is available for perusal on Google Books here. The author is not LDS, although he appears to have known something of the Church (see page 482 for his reference to “Joseph Smith and the Mormons of Utah”).
What I found was a passage which discusses Christ, a priest after the order of Melchizedek, and that “all who are called to God’s kingdom and glory are called to fill the positions of Melchisedec kings and priests in the ages to come under the Lord Jesus Christ…” and if this truth is not so today it is because of apostasy:
…mankind have been deceived by false and ignorant teachers who in the early days of the church corrupted the way of the Lord as the antediluvian sons of God did before the flood, who walked after the vain imaginations of their own evil hearts even as it is now. The world is full of religion, but nearly empty of the true knowledge of God. There are many great revivals in which are developed a high degree of religious feeling, but unfortunately they are attended with a very low degree of scriptural knowledge and true religious intelligence. (p. 740)
I did a search for the author, Levi Rightmyer, but came up short. Does anyone know anything more about this author? In addition to the above, part of the preface to the book describes the author’s purpose, which sounds quite similar to Joseph Smith’s early feelings – “Familiar with many of the conflicting religious beliefs of these and former days, Mr. Rightmyer was early filled with an earnest determination to search the Scriptures for himself, and if possible to find out the truth contained therein.”
While Rightmyer gets a few things wrong, such as his belief that a Melchizedek priesthood is only available to saints after the resurrection (not sure why he believes this since the person Melchizedek was clearly a mortal priest – see Gen. 14:18-20), he gets an amazing amount right about this order of the priesthood and its associations. I’ll be interested to read more of this book to see his take on the rest of the scriptural record.
Here is the entire passage about the Melchizedek priesthood from his book, including temple imagery and symbolism:
CHRIST A PRIEST AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEC
Now before any one can understand aright and correctly interpret these sayings, he must have knowledge of the Melchisedec order of priesthood, and of the patterns of things in the law. Christ is a priest of the order of Melchisedec. He entered upon that priesthood when he was born again from the dead, as it is written of him, ” Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee ” ; and again, ” Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (an immortal priest) (Ps. 110:4). This priesthood was ordained and established before the days of Abraham, and its numbers were increased by one when Christ was raised from the dead, and will be further augmented when the body of Christ, the righteous of all ages past, are born from the dead as Christ was, which appears and is clearly taught in the song that the four beasts and four and twenty elders sung when they fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odors which are the prayers of saints. Therefore it is said they sing a new song, saying, ” Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth ” (Rev. 5: 9-10).
Here the calling and hope and work of those in the resurrection who are redeemed out of every kindred and people and nation, is plainly stated. They are to be employed as kings and priests over mortal men in the earth, — kings and priests of the order of Melchisedec. Kings are appointed to rule over others beneath them. Priests are ordained for the purpose of ministering on behalf of sinners and those who repent and seek pardon from God, through a divinely appointed order of priesthood. Christ is the high priest of the order of Melchisedec. All his brethren will be kings and priests under him, and all the prayers and supplications of those under their supervision they present to the Father through Jesus Christ. He is himself the antitypical golden altar of incense before the throne, the altar upon which the Melchisedec priests offer up the prayers of all saints as a sweet incense before God.
The angel which came and stood at the altar having a golden censer (8: 3), is one of Adam’s posterity raised to angelic equality, and is therefore an angel and so called. He is a priest of the order of Melchisedec, but he offers much incense which is given to him, with the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which was before the throne. That altar is Christ. All prayers reach the Father through him only.
The angels that are engaged in the work of judgment, as they are brought to view in the Book of the Revelation, are angels from among men of our species, and as the angels in former ages were ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation, even so in the ages to come will the angels of Adam’s race be employed, as Paul in his letter to the Hebrews testifies saying, ” For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come whereof we speak.” The world to come is to be placed under the Melchisedec order of priests, consisting of Christ and his brethren. Therefore all persons in times past from the beginning of the world, and during the times of Christ and his apostles, and since, — all who are called to God’s kingdom and glory are called to fill the positions of Melchisedec kings and priests in the ages to come under the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, and to minister in those ages and generations on behalf of mortal men such as we are at the present time ; but before the righteous of past and present times can enter upon that employment, they must be first made perfect by resurrection from the dead as Christ has already been.
Moreover, if these hopes and expectations are not according to the faith and hopes of these times of the various sects and denominations, it is simply because mankind have been deceived by false and ignorant teachers who in the early days of the church corrupted the way of the Lord as the antediluvian sons of God did before the flood, who walked after the vain imaginations of their own evil hearts even as it is now. The world is full of religion, but nearly empty of the true knowledge of God. There are many great revivals in which are developed a high degree of religious feeling, but unfortunately they are attended with a very low degree of scriptural knowledge and true religious intelligence. (p. 739-40, link)