Written by Elder Joseph Burton to His Wife. Brighton, California, May 26, 1878, Sunday Morning.
This morning I felt very happy. Being in the enjoyment of the Spirit of God in my heart, I desired to be alone, where I could commune with God, and went out for a walk in a field (they are now so green and beautiful), and while there the following passed before my view:
From the western side of Asia there arose a great cloud of smoke which rolled westward until it enveloped all Europe, and extended even to America. I heard a great noise accompanying this smoke, as of heavy artillery, and the clanging and clashing of cavalry and arms; and the dark cloud was pierced from time to time with shafts of light or fire, the sight and sound of which caused an intense feeling of horror to rest upon me, insomuch that I felt to be sinking to the earth.
I then saw near the center of this )the American Continent) a large temple, facing the west, which was surrounded by an evergreen wall at an equal distance from the temple on either side. At the northwest corner stood a man, tall of stature and pleasing to look upon.
A man came out from the temple and walked down the steps, and to the gate. He was called "a servant," though I knew him not. He who stood at the gate guarding the entrance put into the servant's right hand a large leaf, shaped like a palm-leaf fan, which was composed of a great many small leaves of the same shape; and he bound on his left arm in bright golden letters the words, "Bind up the testimony. Seal up the law."
The "servant" then went on his mission, traveling rapidly and crying his message with a loud voice to the inhabitants of the earth; and as he neared a town, I saw a crowd of men with dark, threatening countenances, armed with guns, knives, clubs and stones, seemingly determined to take his life.
The "servant" saw and apparently knew of their evil designs but heeded them not. I trembled for his safety; but as he neared the angry mob, a way was made for him through their midst, and it was as though he was encircled by a great chain about waist high and at a little distance from him on either side, over which the angry mob had not power to harm him, though they made desperate efforts to reach and stab him, but as quickly fell backward, powerless, and as he passed through their midst, calm as a child, only shouting his message of, "Bind up the testimony! Seal up the law!" they fairly gnashed their teeth, and their countenances became distorted and hideous in their disappointed rage. But the "servant" went on his way over the country, through cities and towns and villages, fearless and unharmed.
I saw a little form continually by his side, ever looking up into his face and so happy! Occasionally he would stop to give a leaf to the "children," who always seemed pleased to see him, and received the leaf with gladness. I then saw and heard that after he had thus gone shouting his message, war, famine, pestilence, and all manner of evils that ever have been spoken of followed in quick succession. There were fearful plagues such as caused sudden death. Men who at one moment appeared to be in the enjoyment of health, the next moment fell to the earth dead, and others were eaten with worms. There were also terrible thunders and fierce lightnings; mountains were rolled and tossed, and cities destroyed by earthquakes. The dagger of the assassin and pistol of the communist deluged the earth with blood, and I heard the roar of a great fire rushing and crackling through towns, cities and over the earth.
I then saw two angels standing with one foot on the sea and one on the shore of the Atlantic, and the Pacific coasts, each having a long rod in his hand with which they smote these coasts simultaneously saying, "Thy bands are broken!" Immediately after which there were many towns and cities destroyed by tidal waves such as were never known before, and much land was covered with water.
I then heard in a clear, full voice from one "mighty and strong," the words, "Come home! Come home!" the sound of which filled the whole earth, and reverberated from the vault of heaven. But none of all the inhabitants of the earth heard it except the "children," those to whom the "servants" had given the leaf.
I saw the "servant" return from whence he started, weary and travel worn, bearing in his right hand the skeleton stalk of a palm. I then noticed many other servants returning also, and I understood that the mission of each had been to stay out until he had given away all the leaves from his palm one to each person who was worthy, which leaf was a passport to enter through the gate into the temple; and as this servant returned the leafless stalk to him who sent him forth, his eyes beamed with joy, and his countenance became radiant as he heard from him the words, "You have done well and have been faithful. Enter; no power can hinder!" and as he passed through the gate a bright crown of glittering gold descended and rested upon his head; and as he who bound the golden letters upon his arm adjusted the crown to his head, he again spoke, saying: "Now is fulfilled the promise made to you by my Father, that if you would be faithful you should receive a crown when his Son visited the earth again."
At these words, I realized who the servant was. O, what joy flooded my soul! I seemed to be entranced, and beheld a beautiful city above the earth which was exceedingly bright; and heard in midair, music, O, so sweet, as from thousands of angels.
The atmosphere opened and we ascended, you and I; and I heard a voice saying: "Those who are faithful and remain, shall not die, but shall be changed with power and glory! This is the end!"
When I became conscious of my surroundings, I was lying on the ground powerless to move, but gradually my strength returned.
Language utterly failed to describe the feeling of perfect joy and peace that now filled my soul, after viewing these fearful calamities to again behold the earth in all her beauty, and feel the quiet of a holy Sabbath morn. Autumn Leaves, April, 1891.