“To make such a testimony for righteousness before one nation or all nations, it was necessary to raise up a succession of chosen and endowed men, who holding the truth and maintaining the righteousness, should from age to age be God’s mouths unto men, and his faithful witnesses in the midst of men, to suffer and endure whatever might be laid upon them; according to whose treatment less or more afflictive, he might dispense his blessings or his curses upon men; in the event of whose utter rejection and extermination, he might bring down the judgment upon men. This succession of witnesses in the midst of the days is the church.
“Besides these living tongues and patient witnesses who were removed by death, it was necessary moreover to have a standing record which should contain the sum and substance of that to which every man was to testify and in the midst all change of time and space, and fluctuations of mortal things, preserve the unity, the continuity, and perpetuity of the Church, in the midst of the variety and infinite perplexity of the devil, the world, and the flesh: this standing record, this food for the spirit of these men, this bridle upon their tongue, we have in the Holy Scriptures.
“It was necessary furthermore, to have a visible representation or unchanging body of that truth, which was to be testified to, that is, “the incarnation of the Son of God,” for the declaration of the righteousness which is by faith; in order that the mystery might come full before the observation of men, and be a witness against them, whether they would read the written word or not: this they had in the temple and sacrifice and Levitical priesthood of the former dispensation, and this we have now in the two sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the Communion of Saints, who are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, and “fill up that which is wanting of these sufferings for his body’s sake, that is the church.” These three great parts are necessary to express and embody that idea of witness and testimony for the conviction of the world which we believe to be the germinating principle of this preparatory dispensation.”
(Edward Irving, Preliminary Discourse, The Coming of the Messiah, written by Lacunza, M., translated by Irving, E., 1827)