I again return to a former post I wrote in 2008 about an obscure book I stumbled across entitled The Light of Truth as Revealed in the Holy Scriptures, published in 1916 by one Levi Rightmyer, a hefty book at 967 pages, and freely downloadable from Google. I have still been unable to find any more information more about this author Levi Rightmyer, unfortunately, and would be interested to know more about his background if anyone is aware. Although not LDS (although he does mention the Mormons once in the book), he came very close to approximating many of the more esoteric LDS beliefs regarding Melchizedek, the priesthood, the temple, the judgement, theosis or deification, and the afterlife. It seems that Levi had an experience similar to Joseph Smith, which caused him to turn to the scriptures to find the truth, this from the preface:
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. (Preface)
Here are some of the more interesting points that Rightmyer notes in his section on Melchizedek (my commentary added in brackets):
- This [Melchizedek] 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… [i.e. other righteous followers of Christ will also come to have the Melchizedek priesthood]
- 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. [After the resurrection, the righteous from among all mankind will become kings and priests of the order of Melchizedek, to rule over others in a divine atoning role for those who do not obtain that crown, all under Christ.]
- [Christ] is himself the antitypical golden altar of incense before the throne [this altar in Israelite temples being placed before the veil, the ark of the covenant acting as God’s throne inside the Holy of Holies], the altar upon which the Melchisedec priests offer up the prayers of all saints as a sweet incense before God… That altar is Christ. All prayers reach the Father through him only. [Christ is the mediator between these Melchizedek kings and priests and the Father. Christ is the intercessor, the altar, from which the Melchizedek priests offer up their prayers on behalf of others.]
- 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… [These kings and priests of Melchizedek will be engaged in the act of judgement, and ministers to future generations.]
- 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… [The future of this earth is to be the habitation of those who will rule evermore as kings and priests of the Melchizedek order, together with Christ, over unending future generations of mortal man, as the process repeats itself ad infinitum.]
Moreover, Rightmyer explains that if these things are not believed by the Christian religions in the world it is because of their apostasy from the truth:
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.
What do you make of these thoughts? Who is Levi Rightmyer? Have you heard of this book before? I’m interested in reading more from it. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Fascinating. I’d like to know more, too!
John Tracy Cunningham
The book is no longer available from Google Books; it appears to have been republished. However, it is available on archive.org. The book’s preface implies that the author was deceased as of 1916. My best guess is that Levi Reightman/Rightmeyer/Rightmyer was the man born in 1821 in Richmondville, New York. By 1848 he partnered with Nathaniel C. Knapp; they authored 25 or more books on penmanship, including a set of copybooks for schoolchildren that seems to have been adopted by the State of New York. None of the books appears to be online. But by 1854 Levi was publishing under his own name rather than Knapp & Rightmyer. In 1850 he was living in a hotel in the 2nd Ward of New York City and was a writing master. In 1862 he registered for the draft and was a teacher. In 1880 he was still in New York City and is listed as a publisher. He died somewhere in Ontario in 1895. He is the only man of letters by that name that I could find. Others of the same name at the same time were carpenters, stoneworkers, and odd jobsmen. So, with admittedly limited research, I’d put my money on Levi the penman.
The book is freely available on Google Books, here: (see the “Ebook-Free” button to the side)
Interesting background on Levi, if correct. He seems to have come out of his own quite a bit to write a work such as this.
John Tracy Cunningham
Sorry, I’m in Germany, and Google Books doesn’t offer me an eBook, but says “No eBook available.”
Ok, it must be an international copyright restriction of some sort.
Found this book on google books a few years ago and enjoyed reading it so much that I ordered a hard copy. I still have it and still reread it. Highly recommend “The Light of Truth as Revealed in The Holy Scriptures” by Levi Rightmyer.