B. H. Robert's Introduction
to the official History of the Church

History of the Church, Vol.1, Introduction, p.xl
The Announcement of the
Universal Apostasy.

It is a most startling announcement with which the Prophet Joseph Smith begins his message to the world. Concerning the question, he asked God—"Which of all the sects is right, and which shall I join?" he says: "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight: that those professors were all corrupt; that they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; they teach for doctrines the commandments of men: having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof."
This is a tremendous arraignment of all Christendom. It charges a condition of universal apostasy from God, especially upon Christendom that was dwelling in a fancied security of being the farthest removed from the possibility of such a charge; each division of the so-called Christian Church felicitating itself with the flattering unction that its own particular society possessed the enlightened fulness of the Christian religion. While the boldness of this declaration of the young Prophet is astounding, upon reflection it must be conceded that just such a condition of affairs in the religious world is consistent with the work he, under the direction of divine providence, was about to inaugurate. Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of sects there were already enough in existence. Division and subdivision had already created of confusion more than enough, and there was no possible excuse for the introduction of a new Christian sect. But if men through apostasy had corrupted the Christian religion and lost divine authority to administer the ordinances of the Gospel, it was of the utmost importance that a new dispensation of the true Christian religion should be given to the world. . . . .

History of the Church, Vol.1, Introduction, p.xli
It now becomes my melancholy task to trace through the early Christian centuries the decline of the Christian religion. By this phrase I mean that a really unChristian religion was gradually substituted for the beautiful

religion of Jesus Christ; that a universal apostasy from the Christian doctrine and the Christian Church took place. . . . .
History of the Church, Vol.1, Introduction, p.xciii

Conclusion

The sum of the whole matter is:—The purpose of man's creation, and the plan of his redemption, were known to God and the immense host
History of the Church, Vol.1, Introduction, p.xciv
of the spirits of men before the creation of the earth. . . . .
For a time the Gospel in its purity was preached in the world by the chosen Apostles, though even in their day men began to mar it with their vain philosophies, their doctrines of science, falsely so called; and when the Apostles were all fallen asleep, then corruptions ran riot in the Church, doctrines of men were taught for the commandments of God! a church made by men was substituted for the Church of Christ; a church full of pride and worldliness; a church which while it clung to forms of godliness ran riot in excesses and abominations—until spiritual darkness fell like a pall over the nations; and thus they lay for ages. In vain men sought to establish reforms, and through them bring back the religion of Jesus Christ, and the Church of Christ. To do that, however, was beyond the power of these men, however good their intentions. The Gospel taken from the earth, divine authority lost, the Church of Christ destroyed, there was but one way in which all these could be restored, viz.: By re-opening the heavens and dispensing again a knowledge of the Gospel; by once more conferring divine authority upon men, together with a commission to teach all the world, and re-establish the Church of Christ on earth. In a word, it would require the incoming of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times to restore all things, and gather together in one all things in Christ, both in heaven and in earth. Such Dispensation is promised of God, as we have seen: and now it only remains to add that the History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as set forth in these volumes, is the history of that series of events which has resulted in the restoration of the Gospel in its fullness, and the re-establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ on earth.