The Restoration was ushered in by the First Vision in the Spring of 1820. But God started preparing the world long before 1820 for the Gospel to be restored. Here are three things you may not have known about the Restoration.
1st. The Founder Of The First Baptist Church In America Prepared The Way For The Restoration
Roger Williams did more to pave the way for the Restoration than almost any other man who preceded Joseph Smith. I will not give a full history of Roger Williams; I will, however, summarize parts of Roger Williams’s life that are important in regards to the Restoration.
Roger Williams was born in London England 1603. While growing up he became extremely religious, he followed the Puritans to Massachusetts in 1631. Because of his outspoken religious views, he gained a massive following, but also upset the Puritan leadership.
In October 1635 he was convicted of sedition and heresy and banished for his religious views. He and his followers left Massachusetts in exile in the spring of 1636. They crossed over the Seekonk River and founded a new city and colony, naming it Providence Rhode Island. Roger Williams ensured that Rhode Island would be different than Massachusetts. In Rhode Island, there would be Religious Freedom, a freedom unknown by any colonist at the time.
In Rhode Island, every man would have the freedom of practicing his own religion. They would be free from any state-sponsored religion or persecution. The idea was radical; every other colony had an unholy union of church and state. Which union caused persecution and exile or execution of all those who were not in strict compliance with the church leaders. Rhode Island became a beacon of religious liberty.
Over 100 years after his death, the framers of the United States Constitution borrowed upon the writings of Roger Williams. They included Freedom of Religion as our 1st Right in the Bill of Rights. The framers knew this would eventually lead to a restoration of truth. Thomas Jefferson wrote:
“If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by His pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.”
Not only is Roger Williams the Father of our First Amendment, he is also credited with founding the First Baptist Church in America. But Roger Williams soon left the Baptist Church and then taught the following:
“The apostasy… hath so far corrupted all, that there can be no recovery out of that apostasy until Christ shall send forth new apostles to plant churches anew.”
When Roger Williams realized there had been an apostasy he left the Baptist Church and sought for a restoration of Priesthood Authority, and told his followers:
“There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.”
He died in 1683. He was still waiting for the Restoration. Without Roger Williams, there would be no freedom of religion. Without religious freedom, Joseph Smith never could’ve restored the Church on April 6th, 1830.