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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – Healing, 1880

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood Healing, 1880.” You can view other years here.

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Priesthood:  Healing, 1880.

1880:    5 May:  When non-Mormons claim faith healings.

“The following, which has been published in several eastern papers, is treated with almost universal ridicule and general expressions of doubt, yet the gift, said to be held by the young man mentioned, is one promised by the founder of the Christian religion to his followers.  It is strange that those who profess his name cast such doubt on the fulfilment of his words.  The occurrences here described are said to have taken place in Virginia:

For some weeks past the people of Scott County have been terribly excited over the miracles which have been performed by Robert Miller of that county.  His fame has extended all over this section of the State, and hundreds of the afflicted are daily visiting him.  Miller is a middle-aged man, employed as a keeper of McMullin’s mill, near Estilville.  He is deeply religious, and claims to have had a dream a month ago in which the idea was impressed uopn him that, with God’s help, he could perform wonderful cures simply through faith.  He states that the next day, after a fervent prayer, he healed a sick man by touching him.  The intelligence of the iracle went all over the country, and the afflicted of all kinds came to him and were healed simply by the touch of the hand.

Yesterday, G. N. Wertz, a photographer at Abingdon, visited Miller, in company with a paralytic uncle, the seat of paralysis being in the mouth, which deprived him both of the powers of speech and hearing.  Miller looked at the afflicted man, and after a short prayer touched him, and told him that before he reached home he would be well.  Last night as Mr. Wertz entered the door of his house on his return, his hearing and speech came back to him, and to-day he is apparently hale and hearty.

Miss Irene Newton, a beautiful young lady of Bristol, Tenn., helpless from rheumatism, was brough to Miller last week, and when an attempt was made to lift her in the carriage she rose from the sedan chair and said she was entirely well.

One of the most wonderful miracles of Miller was the cure of Mr. Peter Whitesell, who has been for some years afflicted with cancer.  The cancer was touched, and in three days has disappeared.

The miracle worker is an exceedingly modest man, and always indignantly declines any compensation for his services, alleging that he is but the humble servant of God.  He takes no credit to himself for the performance of these miracles.  All the people in his section believe firmly in his miraculous power.

Similar cures are vouched for by respectable persons, as resulting from the faith and touch of Mrs. Mix, a colored woman in Connecticut, and, like the Virginia healings, they have been treated with incredulity and derision.

We see no reason to doubt the facts in these cases.  The experience of the Latter-day Saints all over the world is that, in the words of the Apostle James, ‘the prayer of faith’ does ‘save the sick,’ and that to some is given ‘the gift of healing,’ to others the ‘gift to be healed’ by the laying on of hands.  That this is a part of the true Christian faith, the New Testament abundantly and clearly testifies.  And yet the large majority of the people who profess that faith, and take great credit to themselves for their profession, not only throw doubt on the statements of witnesses to those manifestations but deny the existence of such curative power in the present age of the world.

How singular it is that otherwise logical men and women will admit the fact of such healings in former days, while they deny the possibility of their occurrence in the latter days, and yet declare that God is unchangeable, that ‘Jesus is the same yesterday, to-day and forever’ and that God is ‘no respecter of persons.’

It may be argued by some that the manifestations of the healing power above recorded, being given through persons not connected with the Latter-day Saints does not help our cause, but, if true, is evidence that these gifts are not confined to our Church and its ministers.  To which we reply that we have never claimed these blessings as our exclusive property.  But we have proclaimed to the world for the last fifty years, in the face of the most vehement opposition from professing ‘Christians,’ that the same blessings that were enjoyed by the ancient Saints were restored to the Latter-day Saints, and that the cause which produced them in Biblical times would produce them again in latter times.  That cause was faith, and Jesus said, ‘These signs shall follow them that believe: In my name * * * they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover,’ etc.

It is a tenet of our creed that faith is a positive power, and that those who exercise it to-day, can wield a similar influence to that which was manifested by those who held it in the days of the Savior or of the Hebrew prophets.  These evidences of its power which come to light in different localities tend to prove the correctness of this principle that we advocate.  We do not pretend that such manifestations prove the divinity of any church or individual possessing the gift.  We cite them as proving the truth of the doctrine in relation to them, a doctrine which is part of our creed but denied by the ‘Christian’ world.  And if possession of such a gift is alone not proof of the divine authority of the Church which enjoys it, as we admit, yet the absence of it and the denial of its possible enjoyment in these times, in the face of the promises of the Savior and the well authenticated cases of its exercise, is proof that those Churches that deny it and repudiate it certainly cannot be divine in their doctrine or their constitution.  Well might the despised and rejected Jesus of Nazareth enquire, ‘When the Son of Man cometh shall he find faith on the earth?'”  (Editorial, “Healings by Faith,” DN 29(14):215, 5 May, 1880)

15 May:  Cease to administer form without power.

“President [Joseph] Smith, while leading the way to my bed, made this remark: ‘Brother Noble, you have been too long with me to lie here.’  As soon as I saw him the tears of joy burst from my eyes.  In a moment he was by my bedside, and took me by the hand.  Without waiting for the other brethren to get to my bed, he commanded me, in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and walk.  I arose, and while putting on my clothes I fainted.  When I regained consciousness I was on the bed, and Joseph ws standing close to me.

As soon as my eyes met his he said, ‘Wherefore didst thou doubt?’ and again commanded me to arise.

While he was speaking I felt the healing virtue flowing through every part of my system.  I immediately arose and walked, rejoicing and praising the Lord with all my heart, for His blessing resting upon me, by which I was made whole.

Brother Fordham was more active and stronger than I was.  He never sat down in my house, but as soon as Brother Joseph had given directions to my wife concerning some nourishment for me, he left with the rest of the brethren.  They went and administered to others who were sick, and called them up in a similar manner.

Joseph, at this time, rebuked the Elders for administering the form without the power.  Said he, ‘Let the Elders either obtain the power of God to heal the sick, or let them cease to administer the form without the power.'”  (J. B. Noble, JI 15(10):112, 15 May, 1880)

5 Jun.:  Refusal to administer to diphtheria patients.

“[SL Priesthood Meeting] Bishop L. D. Young, being requested to speak, endorsed all that had been said, especially in relation to the disease known as diphtheria.  Apropos of the counsel given to the Elders in regard to such things, the speaker related an incident that occurred in early days in Kirtland, when after a certain sick brother had been given up by three physicians, and was dying of quick consumption, the Prophet Joseph instructed the Elders to go to the house and not cease to pray unto God until they received a testimony that the sufferer would be healed.  They did so, the man recovered and is alive to-day.  The speaker dwelt upon the practice of having doctors and Elders in attendance on the sick at the same time, of trusting in the skill of man instead of the power of God, and he earnestly deprecated the course of those who refuse to go to administer to the sick, for fear that the disease may cling to them and be carried into their families.”  (Reprint of report of 5 Jun.; DN 29(19):297, 9 Jun., 1880)

7 Jun.:  Why did God take him?

“About the 7th of June I went to St. George to attend conference and drove some tithing stock down.  I left my little boy we called Terry, sick but did not think him dangerously sick, was taken sick the day before with a fever but was much better.  I was gone some 8 or 0 days, on my return I found him still sick but able to get around and would play a very little each day.  We thought he would soon get better, but to our sorrow he grew worse and at last we found he had diphtheria, which finally resulted in his death on Friday afternoon about 7 o’clock the 25th of June, and was laid nicely to rest the next day in the Hebron cemetery about 5 P.M., after we had done all we knew how to do for him at the time.  We did not have any doctor for him.  We had the Elders, the brethren and sisters did all they could to assist.  We were not aware he was so bad until it was too late and perhaps there was no power to save him.  His age was two years, nine months and eight days.  He was a very bright and intelligent little boy.  His death was the greatest sorrow trial to us that we ever had, it was months before we got reconciled.  And I almost complained of the Lord for taking him from us for I could not think why he should be taken when I felt in my heart that we were trying harder than ever before to do right in all things and keep the commandments of the Lord.”  (Orson W. Huntsman journal, LC Collection)

21 Jul.:  Disease as a sign of the times.

“The strange epidemic which on June the 15th suddenly attacked the people of North Adams, Massachusetts, has given rise to many speculations.  Out of a population of six thousand, about one thousand persons were afflicted.  They were seized with dizziness and nausea, followed by violent vomiting and purging, and in some cases delirium supervened.  The malady seems to have been confined to a strip of country about three miles wide but several miles in length, and the number affected outside and inside of the town amounted to about fifteen hundred.  It was not fatal but extremely exhausting, reaching its climax in about twenty-four hours.

The cause was at once attributed to the water supply, and prominent journals have made the occurrence the subject for long leaders on the necessity of pure water, and the noxious effects of drinking from springs or wells into which foecal matter has percolated through the soil.  But investigation shows that while quite a number of persons who used the water said to be tainted escaped the malady, others who did not use it were attacked.

From this it would seem that the disturbance might be attributable to atmospheric rather than aqueous causes.  But that is only an opinion, and the affair is surrounded with mystery.  We ought not to be surprised at new and previously unheard of diseases sweeping through the land or affecting certain localities, after the predictions concerning these things which have been uttered by the prophets of old and revealed anew in our own times.  The Prophet Joseph Smith and our late President Brigham Young have frequently referred to them, and within the past year President John Taylor has also in forcible language warned the people of just such events to come.

The North Adams epidemic is but a very small affair in comparison with calamities that are impending.  The tribulations and jugdments of the latter days, about which our Elders  have testified throughout the civilized world, are close at hand.  They will, no doubt, be accounted for by scientists and others who do not acknowledge the hand of the Lord, in a manner satisfactory to themselves, and may be traceable to what are called natural causes.  But they will be sorrowful facts all the same, and a literal fulfilment of prophecy and divine warning.

All that has been written and spoken under the influence of the spirit of revelation concerning the tribulations of the latter times is about to receive its fulfilment, and among them are ‘diseases which will baffle the skill of the wisest physicians.’  It is declared that ‘judgments will commence at the house of God,’ so that the righteous will ‘scarcely escape.’  Therefore the Saints need not think that the danger will not come nigh unto them.  But by a faithful course, living by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God, keeping their covenants sacred and regarding the laws and words of wisdom communicated to them, they will ‘stand in holy places and be not moved,’ and the destroyer will pass by them as the angel that slew the first-born of Egypt and touched not the households where the blood was sprinkled on the lintel posts.  And while the power that layeth waste stalks through the land and the convulsions of nature and society and human governments spread dismay and terror, the wise will understand, and discerning and acknowledging the hand of the Lord in all things, they will behold the fulfilment of His word and be prepared for the coming of earth’s rightful king, the redemption of Israel and the great consummation.  Who is so blind that he cannot discern the signs of the times?”  (Editorial, “Signs of the Times,” DN 29(25):390, 21 Jul., 1880)

1881:   26 Jan.:  Women anoint and bless another woman.

“Bro. Samuel Knight brought Sister E. R. Smith, Zina D. Smith and Minerva Snow.  they held a meeting in the fore noon and all Spoke by the Spirit and Power of God giving good council to Both old and young.  In the after noon they Organized the Childrens Primary Associan.  And in the evening they Organized the Young Ladies associan.  Sister Eliza spoke in the gift of tonges and sister Z. D. Smith interpered it and there was great and glorious Promises made to the People.  Sister E. R. Smith and Z. D. Smith anointed and Blessed Calista who was sick.  Sister E. R. Smith Spoke in the gift of tounges and Sister Z. D. Smith interpreted and CAlista felt much better after they got through.”  (Joseph I. Earl diary, 26 Jan., 1881; LC Collection)

25/26 Jun.:  Death of Nuttall’s son.

“June 25 Up most of the last night with son John who is very sick and stayed to attend him all day.  Called on Dr. Murphy who put John in a warm pack — his fever left but his body is much swollen — We had him administered to but our efforts seem of no avail.

June 26 up most of the night waiting on John who is failing fast Dr Murphy told me this morning that professionally he could do nothing more for him.  I consulted Prest Taylor as to calling other doctors he said no that all had been done that could be.  I called on Bp Thos Taylor & other Elders who met prayed & administered to him he seemed much better but afterwards failed again.  Prest Taylor called us & blessed him he continued to fail until 5.20 when he expired all our efforts having failed.  The Lord seemed to want him.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 25 & 26 Jun., 1881)

8 Oct.:  Why George A. Smith died in spite of blessing.

“Now, I name this to show a principle.  They have work on the other side of the vail; and they want men, and they call them.  And that was my view in regard to Brother George A. Smith.  When he was almost at death’s door, Brother Cannon administered to him, and in thirty minutes he was up and ate breakfast with his family.  We labored with him in this way, but ultimately, as you know, he died.  But it taught me a lesson.  I felt that man was wanted behind the vail.  We labored also with Brother Pratt; he, too, was wanted behind the vail.”  (Wilford Woodruff, 8 Oct., 1881; JD 22:334)

27 Dec.:  The bone knit while the prayer was being said.

“Sister Eliza R. Snow related the circumstances of a miracle that was performed in some of the extreme northern out-of-the-way settlements of the Saints.

It was this: A certain Brother was hauling wood and was thrown from the load by the roughness of the road.  The wagon passed over his left arm between the shoulder and elbow crushing his arm bone to many pieces.

Assistance accidentally came along, by which came along an Elder of the church with oil and annointed the crushed arm and laid his hands upon it and prayed, during which the Elder shook and trembled under the power of God.

When the ceremony was over he asked the man, if he felt anything strange while being administered to?  He replied, as he raised the crushed arm above his head, ‘I should think I did.’  His arm was healed and the bone went ‘bone to bone’ knit and grew together sound while the ordinance was being performed.

This sister Snow told in public, in Provo about the 16th of November, 1881.”  (Oliver B. Huntington journal, typescript, p. 12, 27 Dec., 1881)

1882:    21 Jun.:  Laying on of Hands.


A recent issue of the New York Herald has an editorial with the above title, and judging from the satirical vein which runs through the article, it is intended to cast doubt upon an ordinance as ancient as revealed religion, and which was part of the system established by Jesus Christ and His Apostles.

Objection is made by the Herald against the doctrine because faith is an essential to its successful practice, and as it is an easy method of cure, cheapness is urged in the charges for its administration as compared with the physicians’ fees and doctors’ bills.  The question is asked, what would be done in a case of smallpox or other contagious disease?  And it is asserted notwithstanding the claims of cures by this process, it is not known that they have produced any change in the death rate.

The article was incited by the cures said to be wrought by a preacher who has started a church in New York, based upon the doctrine of healing by prayer and the laying on of hands.  This has been a tenet of the creed of the Latter-day Saints from the beginning.  For upwards of fifty years the ‘Mormons’ have testified to the world that the sick are healed in this age, as in former times, through ‘the prayer of faith.’  The course to be taken with the sick was directed by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and on the 9th of February, 1831, the following was given by revelation and commandment to the Church:

. . . .

Thousands of people are able to bear testimony to the truth of the foregoing promises.  In all kinds of diseases, also in injuries through accident or otherwise, this ordinance for the sick has proven efficacious.  Often its effects have been instantaneous.  In other cases the results have been gradual.  In some instances no perceptible change has been wrought in the physical condition of the patient, but comfort and consolation are generally experienced.  The degree of faith determines the force of the healing power experienced.

It is a matter of astonishment that any one professing belief in the Christian religion should ridicule or cast doubt upon this doctrine and practice.  Yet the Latter-day Saints have not only been derided by ministers and members of the various so-called ‘Christian’ denominations, but have suffered most inhuman persecutions in consequence of their belief in this eminently sacred institution.  Jesus Christ made it a part of the Gospel which he introduced.  It was established among the people of God ages before His birth at Bethlehem.  But He reintroduced it in His own practice; and in his parting instruction to His Apostles, sending them out to promulgate His Gospel to all the world, declared as one of the signs that should follow them that believe ‘They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.’  Similar instructions to those given to the Latter-day Saints by the Lord through Joseph Smith were imparted by the Apostle James in his epistle, 6 chap., 13-14 verses.

In all these teachings and promises faith is set forth as an essential, and the potent force by which the desired result is to be effected.  In Christ’s remarkable healings he attributed them to faith.  ‘Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole.’  ‘All things are possible to them that believe.’  ‘The prayer of faith shall save the sick.’  These are New Testament texts.  They are part of the Christian religion.  If they are not true Christianity is a failure and a falsehood.  If they are true modern Christendom, weighed in the balances is found wanting, for it repudiates and ridicules this feature of the Christian faith.

And why should this essential to healing by the laying on of hands be objected to?  The answer is because failures can be attributed to lack of faith.  Just so.  And are there no failures in the administration of medicine?  Do doctors always succeed?  Does it follow because a prescription does not cure in one case that it is useless in all?  Is it not a fact that remedies with an established reputation often, in great emergencies and violent epidemics, fail to produce any material effect upon the death-rate?  And if so will it be argued that therefore all ‘doctors stuff’ is rubbish, and all physic should be ‘thrown to the dogs?’

Occasionally a person having the gift of healing attempts to make capital out of it.  He generally fails.  It is not designed to be used for any such purpose.  In this Church, chepaness or dearness does not enter into the practise of healing by the laying on of hands.  The ordinance is always administered without money and without price.  To those who have faith it is easier, cheaper and better every way than ‘doctoring.’  But all have not faith, and it may not be their fault any more than natural lack of mental energy or physical strength.  Sometimes the faith of others is sufficient for them as in the case of little children, or the administering Elder is endowed with the healing gift to a more than ordinary degree, when the patient is healed, although of little faith.

In answer to the question, What is to be done in the case of small-pox? we say, just the same thing as in other cases.  The Lord’s plan applies to all the ills that flesh is heir to, and we can bear witness that in such a case, as well as others, ‘the prayer of faith does save the sick,’ as is well known to the Latter-day Saints, however ridiculous it may appear to the New York Herald.

And now in relation to the death-rate.  The laying on of hands, although it has been instrumental even in raising the dead, as well as giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and vigor to the feeble of limb, is not designed to abolish death or destroy the trials of suffering and sickness.  These have their uses and are part of the economy of the Great Creator.  But just as healing qualities exist in medicinal herbs and other curative substances, placed there by the hand of the Allwise Physician, so by faith the pains and woes of mortal life may be ameliorated and healing virtues can be imparted through the laying on of hands, especially when faith moves the minister of the ordinance and finds correspondence and unity in the soul of the patient.

Healings, signs and ‘miracles’ do not prove, of themselves, the truth of any Church or system in which they are manifested, but when the sick are healed by the laying on of hands, each case is additional proof that the doctrine taught in the primitive Christian Church, and restored in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is true, no matter who doubts or ridicules it or seeks to cast discredit upon its practice.”  (Editorial, “Laying on of Hands,” DN 31(22):342, 21 Jun., 1882)

12 Oct.:  Man and wife administered to sick son.

“My son William took sick and I and my wife administered to him and he got better.”  (Myron Abbott diary, 12 Oct., 1882; LC Collection)

18 May:  I felt a testimony that He would get Better.

“In Company with John Henry Smith I visited Bro A C Piper who has been seriously afflicted with a Cancer or tumur about the face and has had it Cut out twice but is still badly afflicted.  We anointed him and laid hands upon him and rebucked the affliction and I felt a testimony that He would get Better. . . .

[30 Jul., 1882] I attended the funeral of Allexander C Piper at the 12 ward Meeting House at 10 oclok.  There was a large assembly present among whom were the High Council & nearly all the Bishops of the City including Bishop & his Councill.

Br Piper was the Bishop of the ward A member of the High Council and an Officiating Alderman at the City Hall.  He died with a Cancer in the face and suffered much.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 18 May & 30 Jul., 1882)

1 Dec.:  Anointing the floor with consecrated oil.

“During my stay in Calcutta while on a mission to India, a very singular and thrilling incident took place in the house of a Roman Catholic family in the ‘City of Palaces.’

One day, while in conversation with Elder Joseph Richards, a lady visitor was announced, who wished to have an interview with us in relation to some strange and mysterious doings at her residence.

She commenced the recital by informing us that the household furniture and kitchen utensils were frequently and violently moved about the aprtments by unseen agencies, and every attempt to solve the mystery had been in vain.

Having faith in her priest, she had requested him to visit the house and be personally present to witness the novel proceedings.  He accordingly attended, and brought a small bottle of ‘holy water,’ the contents of which he sprinkled on the floor of each room, and exorcised the spirits.  For three days thereafter all was quiet, and they firmly believed that the priest had gained the mastery over the invisible intruders and disturbers; but, alas! the disturbances were renewed with greater violence and more frequently than at first.

While in this dilemma the lady was recommended to apply to the ‘Mormon’ Elder to accomplish the desired freedom from a most grievous and tantalizing experience.

Personally I had no desire to meddle with the affair; but Elder Richards felt quite the other way, and offered to visit the place and do what he could to put an end to the disturbances.  He accompanied the lady to her residence, and carried with him a small bottle of consecrated oil.  Shortly after arriving at the scene of operations, he felt the bedstead on which he was sitting lifted over a foot high, and let down again in a violent manner, and before he could recover from this effort of the unseen power, he saw a brass pan removed from a nail in the wall, and made to dance across the room and then descend the stairs in a very leisurely manner.

Footsteps were heard several times; and articles of furniture were moved and thrown around in quite a lively manner.

Before retiring to rest for the night Elder Richards prayed, rebuked the spirits and poured consecrated oil on the floors, and then retired for the night, and slept in peace.

In the morning he departed, warmly congratulated by the inmates.

He requested the people of the house to inform him whether the disturbances were renewed; but they had no occasion to do so, for they were entirely freed from the visitations.”  (“A Thrilling Incident,” by “W.,” JI 17:366, 1 Dec., 1882)

1883:  26 Mar.:  I told his mother and sister to lay hands w/me.

“On this day, the 26th, I called on Carlos Hutchings a son of Shepherd Hutchings a wicked apostate and an astrologer.  Charles had been sick with inflamatory rheumatics for over a month and on the charity of neighbors and the bishop.  He had a small family, had been baptized when a boy but had become indifferent to the requirements of the Church law or the requirements of God and visited him several times in his distress, as he lived in my teacher’s beat, but upon this occasion I heard him howling with pain when perhaps 30 yards from the house, and he was really to all human appearance but a short step from the grave.  After I had been seated a few moments in the house, he turned his eyes on me and said, ‘I believe you can help me.’  I made rather strange and asked, ‘How?’  ‘How can I help you?’  He said, ‘Administer to.’  I asked if he believed God could heal him?  He said, ‘Yes.’

There being no other Elder near I told his mother and sister to lay hands on with me.  No oil in the house.

When the ceremony was over he fell asleep in a minute.  All of us tiptoed to our seats and kept perfectly still for 4 or 5 minutes when he awoke and with his left hand threw the bed clothes off his arm.  Said he was perfectly easy except aching in the right arm which was much the worse of the two and that he had not stirred so much as a finger of either hand for over a week.  All in the house looked at one another in amazement and acknowledged that only God could take away pain that quick.  I went home and in about an hour they sent for me to come quick for he was howling again.  I took some consecrated oil and another Elder, Uel Stewart prayed first, annointed him profusely and laid on hands.  He had no more rheumatic, and was healed every whit by the power of God through faith and the ordinances of the gospel.”  (Oliver B. Huntington journal, typescript, p. 20; 26 Mar., 1883)

6 Oct.:  Appointed unto death.

“Another thing, we ought not to run after doctors as much as we do.  ‘But,’ says one, ‘if we have a bone broken we must have somebody to set it.’  Yes, that is true, but we need not take all the nostrums they can think of.  We ought first to go to the Lord and exercise our faith as far as we can make use of it in that direction, and we will make fewer blunders than we do in placing implicit confidence in the medical and surgical professions.  When we do this we are certainly sure of one thing–we secure the help of God and the help of angels; and if we are appointed unto death, we want to go.  We ought to want to go.  Our prayers and supplications should be always conditional–that is, if not appointed unto death that he or she should be raised up.  And if the heavens want a man to labor there in any sphere, there is where he should be.  If a man is wanted to be on a mission in Europe, in Germany, or in the States, and he stays at home, he is not where he ought to be.  He ought to be where God would have him, there the Holy Spirit will labor with him and help him.  But for us to importune the Lord to heal those whom He has appointed unto death is just like asking–as we do once in a while–a man to go on a mission, and we get a long petition saying that he is such a blessed dear good man, or he has been such a good school master, ‘Do, pray, President let him stop.’  Now, when the Presidency want a man to go on a mission, he ought to go.  It is best for that man that he should go.  It is best for all concerned that he shoujld go to the place he is sent, and labor with all his heart.  Just so with us.  Here we are on a mission in the world.  The matter of death is a very small matter.  It is a matter of life or death to be sure; but if the Lord does not want us here, and we are taken away, His will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”  (Franklin D. Richards, 6 Oct., 1883; JD 24:285-286)

12 Oct.:  Concerning the method of administering to sick.

“Prest. [George Q.] Cannon said: There is a practice grown up among us when administring to the sick or in prayer together, that is in whispering the words that are being uttered by the brethren in their prayer.  This, as I understand, is not necessary or proper.  It is very annoying to me and disturbs the chain of thought.  I do not know with whom this practice originated.  We can carry the words in our minds without repeating the words and thus enable those who are being administered to, to hear the words that are pronounced upon them.

Elder E. Snow corroborated the remarks of Prest. Cannon.  Some think there is no healing of the sick without oil, that is essential or appears so.  In the examples of the Savior I have not found any account of his using oil.  James says if any are sick among you call in the Elders and by the anointing of oil and the prayer of faith the sick shall be healed, etc.  There are times in extreme cases when the anointing of oil is proper and essential, but is I have understood it from the Prophet Joseph, not essential in all cases.

Prest. Taylor: It will be proper to use the oil when you have it, but when you do not have the oil, the prayer of faith is all sufficient.

Prest. Smith: When a person is sick of a fever or other serious disease, it is not necessary for each of the Elders who is called on to administer, to anoint with oil.  But as a person has been anointed once or twice a day, other Elders can lay on hands and pray for the sick. 

Elder E. Snow: I do not want the brethren to get into a stereotyped way of administering to the sick.

Prest. Joseph F. Smith referred to the passage in James and had always looked upon that as a pattern for us to follow.

Prest. Taylor related the healing of Bro. Elijah Fordham by the Prophet Joseph, and afterwards of Bro. Noble.”  (“Minutes of the Salt Lake School of the Prophets, 1883,” pp. 92-93)

1884:  4 Feb.:  I called on my wife to lay on hands with me.

“My little Anna was stung on the upper lip by a honey-bee which swelled very rapidly, so that in half an hour she could not shut her mouth nor control her lip at all it being pushed straight out an astonishing distance.  Her neck was swelled and very red, her breast, shoulders and even her hips.  I became seriously alarmed for her safety and even her life.  I called upon my wife to lay hands upon her with me after I had annointed her.  The swelling instantly stopped and in two minutes was plainly to be seen less and continued to decrease until there was no swelling.  This was done by the power of God through prayer and the ordinances He established for the healing of the sick.”  (Oliver B. Huntington diary, 4 Feb., 1884)

7 Feb.:  Set apart as midwife and doctress.

“Elizabeth Stephens Born July 3d 1836 at Conneaut Crawford Co Penn was set apart as a midwife and Doctress by W Woodruff.  Mary Swindle Born May 29, 1843 at Hargew Zurick switzerland [was] set apart for same purpose By G Teasdale mouth.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 7 Feb., 1884)

8 Feb.:  Her 14 year old son and I administered to her.

“I worked on branch records at John S. Boyers.  His wife being unwell asked me to annoint and lay hands upon her, which I did calling upon her son Myron 14 years old to lay on hands with me.”  (Oliver B. Huntington journal, 8 Feb., 1884)

4 Mar.:  Use of cane in healing.

“I sent my cane to Brother Whitehead for his recovery, and now if he dies, he dies unto the Lord, and if he lives, he lives unto the Lord.”  (Oliver B. Huntington journal, 4 Mar., 1884)

1885:    28 Jan.:  Unbelief in healings.

“The Evening Express, published at Los Angeles, Cal., devotes a column in one of its recent issues to ridiculing the idea of cures being effected through the medium of faith and prayer.  The writer alludes to the Prayer Cure Asylum, established at Denver, having recently come to grief, and then goes on to say that ‘Superstitions die hard, and no form of superstition has shown such tenacity of life as the belief in miraculous healing.’

The writer makes no allusion to Bible examples of miraculous healing, possibly because he like many other scoffers at sacred ordinances, professes a belief in that book.  Perhaps he is willing to acknowledge that such miraculous cases of healing as are related in the Bible actually occurred, but, like thousands of other professing Christians, is unwilling to admit that the power to effect such cures or the necessity for them any longer exists, or ever will.

He reviews what he is pleased to call the superstition in regard to faith and prayer cures from the Middle Ages down to our own time, referring to the service for the sick which was formerly incorporated in the Church of England Prayer Book, and the claims to the healing power professed by Charles II. of England and many others, and declares that such superstitious fancies ‘have passed away out of the popular belief, for the reason that twe have passed into a new climate of thought where they do not flourish.’

We can quite agree with this writer as to the gradual decadence of faith or belief in the healing ordinance formerly practiced, but do not attribute it as he does, to ‘the progress of physical science.’  With all the progress which physical science has made, there is still plenty of room for the exercise of supernatural healing power; for it is a well known fact that with all the wisdom of the scientists there are diseases and complications of diseases being developed every day with which they are entirely unable to cope, and a few of the most learned and skillful of the physicians of the day have been frank and honest enough to acknowledge that their practice consists of experiments.  ‘The science of physics,’ as it is called, still lacks a great deal of being a science, as definite and invariable rules cannot be laid down to govern it.  Who can look upon the pitiable victims of disease that abound in the world without being impressed with the fact that there is as much need today of the power being exercised by which the sick were healed, the deaf made to hear, the blind to see and the lame to walk in the days of the Savior as there ever was?

We prefer to attribute the decadence of faith or belief in such a power, which, as the Express writer says, has gradually been taking place for ages past, to another, but very different cause athan that which he assigns.  In the first place, most of those who, since the days of the early Apostles have pretended to possess the power to effect miraculous cures have been frauds and humbugs, possessing no authority from the Almighty to so act, and entirely devoid of the power which accompanied the ministrations of the Savior and His apostles.  As this latter fact became apparent to the public the spark of faith in a supernatural healing power which people possessed naturally, inherited as a tradition from their ancestors or imbibed from the scriptures gradually became extinguished.  Seeing no such power manifested as the Savior and His Apostles exhibited, even in the so-called Christian church or churches, people ceased to look for it, and, for want of a better excuse, consoled themselves with the thought that the day had passed for the exercise of such a power, or that there was no further need of it.  Even ministers and priests and other religious leaders gravely asserted that such was the case, forgetting how inconsistent it made them appear as professed believers in the Christ and possessors of the authority to act in his name.  Jesus said, ‘He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also.’  All Bible believers will acknowledge that prominent among the works which the Savior did was the healing of the sick.  Again, He promised when sending his Apostles out to preach the Gospel, that certain signs should follow believers, one of which was that they should have power to lay hands upon the sick and heal them.  (See Mark xvi, 17.)

Either the Savior was in error in making those assertions, or the millions throughout the world who have claimed to be believers, and yet were not only devoid of the power to heal the sick, by the laying on of hands, but even denied the necessity of such a power, were not true believers.  We prefer to believe that the latter was the case, and all the facts sustain us in that belief.  This was not the only characteristic of true believers which Christendom lacked, but nearly every other.  The pattern which the Savior and His apostles had established had been departed from.  Men had ‘transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant,’ and their condition was in fulfilment of Paul’s prediction concerning apostate Christianity in the last days–‘having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.’

Faith had almost become a thing of the past, and no wonder that miracles had ceased, for faith was the principle of power by which they were wrought in the days of the Savior.  His words are ample proof of this.  How often He remarked ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole,’ or alluded in other words to the power exercised being due to faith or attributed His inability to work miracles to a lack of faith.  And it was not, as some suppose, contrary to law that the miracles of the Savior were effected, though the law governing them might have been unkwown to man.  As the Express writer asserts, 

Law reigns everywhere.  The same law that governs the motion of a grain of dust or that lights the glow-worm’s lamp, is now shown to preside in the march of the most majestic planets, and to dwell in the fire and light of the most distant sun.

We quite agree with that, and also believe that the same Being who established the law governing the planets and everything else in nature, has provided a law by which healing power may be exercised in a manner which men call miraculous for want of an understanding of the means by which the cures are accomplished.  Faith is an essential part of that law, and without it even the Savior himself could not succeed.  Authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ is another essential to that law and without it men are liable to fail as did the seven sons of Sceva, of whom we read in Acts xix.  In saying this we do not pretend to deny that the Evil One can inspire men to work miracles, even as he did the magicians in the days of Moses; but to operate in accordance with divine laws, both faith and authority are necessary.

That authority has been restored to mankind in this age, and is held by the Latter-day Saints, and in accordance with their faith the healing power is exercised.  If their faith were stronger its power in effecting cures would be more apparent, and this will be the case as the faith of the people increases–they do not all possess the necessary faith to claim the blessing when afflicted, nor to exercise power in behalf of others.  Trained in the traditions of the world, and inheriting the prevalent unbelief, it is not easy for them to get rid of their effects and to exercise that faith in God and in the healing ordinance which is necessary that the blessing may be enjoyed.  Such faith, in many cases, has to be acquired; it is not possessed naturally.  There is, however, in the power which is exercised by the Latter-day Saints in this regard, as well as in various other respects in which they correspond with the pattern established in the primitive Church, ample evidence that they are true believers in the Gospel as taught by the Savior.”  (Editorial, “Unbelief in Miraculous Healing,” DN 34(2):22-23, 28 Jan., 1885)

2 Aug.:  Prayers over sick should be kept short.

“Brother [Seymour B.] Young made some remarks on the ordinances of the Gospel and advised the Saints to so train up their children that they could go forth and be baptize when eight years old; advised the bbrethren to make short prayers when visiting the sick, and to keep holy the Sabbath day.”  (Wasatch Stake Conference minutes, 2 Aug., 1885; DN 34(29):479, 12 Aug., 1885)

15 Dec.:  Healing by women at Winter Quarters.

“We never dreamed, when commencing those little prayer meetings–coming together so frequently and enjoying the outpourings of the Holy Spirit–of having to meet and content with the opposite; but so it was.  The love and union that prevailed seemed to enrage the evil one, and, not being able to cause a division among us, he vented his wrath upon the little ones.

At one of the meetings which I attended at Sister Presendia’s, there was a power manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and many comforting words were uttered, and prophecies of blessings which it was our privilege to obtain, if we would unite in fasting and prayer.

Previous to this the merchants, Davis and Kimball, who rented one of my mother’s rooms, having sold out their stock, had gone back to Nauvoo, and her house was the place appointed by the voice of the Spirit to hold the fast meeting, and the great blessing to be gained thereby was the administration of an angel or angels.  I had a promise that day that I should be healed by the power of God.  Up to this time I had remained feeble and unable to sit up but little, or to walk to a neighbor’s without having to lie down, and this I desired more than anything else of a temporal nature.  In obedience to that spirit Mother Whitney, her daughter, Sara Ann, Sisters Louisa Pitkin, Presendia Buel, Sara Lawarence, Frances [illegible], Harriet Sanders, Persis Young and two or three others who were there, all being my father’s wives but Sister Persis and Mother Whitney, met the next morning without eating or drinking.  But no sooner had we begun to offer up our united prayers than the devil commenced his operations on the three little ones that were there, mother’s Brigham and her little babe, and Sarah Ann’s son, who was born on the journey from Nauvoo.  It would be one and then the other.  The eldest was playing in the room adjoining, and without any known cause, he commenced screaming; floundering and going into the most frightful contortions, which obliged us to stop and administer to him and rebuke that spirit in the name of Jesus, when the child quieted down and went to sleep.  We had no sooner begun again to seek in prayer for the promised blessings, than we were again interrupted by my mother’s babe screaming, and it had lain sleeping peacefully till then.  He was operated upon in a similar manner to the other, so we were under the necessity of again stopping to administer to him, when he was immediately relieved, and went to sleep.  But just as soon as we commenced again to struggle for the blessing that had been promised, the third one was seized, and this continued through the day, and every time the evil spirits were rebuked by the power of the priesthood, which had been conferred upon us in the house of God in connection with our husbands.  This only stimulated us to persevere, and that wrestle continued between the two powers, each seeking the supremacy, till finally we became satisfied that we would have to part with one of those little ones before we could obtain the coveted blessing.  Therefore, when the day was nearly spent, and we had witnessed the workings of the two powers–one just in proportion to the other–the mothers concluded to call Bishop Whitney and relate this day’s experience and leave the decision with him, whether or not we had been directed by the right spirit.  We broke our fast, and the Bishop came about dusk and spent the best portion of the night in answering questions and explaining doctrines and things which the sisters had never before understood.  He had previously expressed some fears that the sisters might be out of the way, seeing them meet together so often, but he changed his mind, for he was filled with the Holy Spirit the moment he entered the house.  His mind was clear and like a fountain, and we only had to ask and receive, for our faith was such that it would take no denial.  He told us that we were nearer obtaining what we had sought for, and the Lord was nearer than we had any idea of, and that our desires would have been realized had we given up one of those children.  He said it was only through similar struggles that any great manifestations from on high were ever obtained.  There were things that he uttered that night that he did not know of himself, but by the Spirit some choice truths were revealed through him, and they were of a most consoling nature to women, particularly to those who were making a willing sacrifice in helping their husbands to accomplish the great and mighty purposes which the Lord had commanded them to do and they were promised that eventually all that were true and faithful would enjoy all that their hearts desired, or could conceive of; their trials and sufferings here would be swallowed up in the glory they had attained to through obedience, and they would be enthroned and reign as queens in the presence of God, eternities without end.

I, being very weary and sad in spirit at the close of the day, had lain down, and I fell asleep while he was talking.  I was quite young, and not having been healed as I had been told I should be, my faith was considerably shaken; but the things I heard Father Whitney say before I dropped to sleep comforted me to that degree that I forgot my disappointment in the hope of that happiness which I believed would be mine, in connection with those I loved, in a day to come.

Sister Persis Young came early the next morning, saying that she had been impressed by the Spirit to come and administer to me, and I would be healed; that she could not sleep, and she had come there in obedience to that Spirit.  She had been so long under its influence that she shook as though palsied when she laid her hands upon my head with my mother.  She rebuked my weakness, and every disease that had been, or was then afflicting me, and commanded me to be made whole, pronouncing health and many other blessings upon me, nearly all of which have been literally fulfilled.  From that morning I went about to work as though nothing had been the matter.  Thus did the Lord remember one of His unworthy handmaidens and fulfill the promise that had been given by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost.”  (Helen Mar Whitney, “Scenes and Incidents at Winter Quarters,” Woman’s Exponent 14(14):131-132, 15 Dec., 1885)

ca.:  Woman blessed to heal children.

“It is stated in my Partarichal Blessing that I shall lay my hands on my sick children in the name of Jesus.”  (Ann Prior Jarvis autobiography, LC Collection)

1886:    1 Jun.:  All the rest verbally repeated the prayer.

“I called a special meeting of the prayer circle to pray for Dove Bird, widow of Vernon Bird and after the meeting we all went ato her house, annointed and laid on hands, each one of us being mouth in turn and all the rest (5) repeated what the one said, by sentences.”  (Oliver B. Huntington journal, 1 Jun., 1886)

29 Nov.:  My wife and I administered to her.

“Ovanda was very restless.  My wife and I slept until about one o’clock on the 29th, when Dimick woke me, and wanted to lay hands on Ovanda as she was about worn out with pain, nervousness and wanted to sleep.  I called my wife as I generally do to lay on hands with me in the absence of other elders.”  (Oliver B. Huntington journal, 29 Nov., 1886)

1887:  7 Jan.:  2 administrations, 1 prayer.

“After arising this morning D. G. Y. complained of a very severe headache and acted in such a manner as to frighten us all.  I administered twice to him and had prayers once in his behalf after which he immediately felt better.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 7 Jan., 1887)

27 Jan.:  The proper manner of administering to the sick.

“Thursday, 27th: evening at just dusk I met Brother Thomas Tew of the prayer circle, at Dimick’s to administer to Ovanda.

I chose these brethren because I knew they were in perfect accord with me, as none others could be in the circle, but of that kind.  I invited every other person out of the room except Dimick among whom was her father, an apostate.

I then, when alone put Dimick and his wife Ovanda under a promise to obey the Gospel and keep the law of God.

After that we (I) prayed, Brother Tew annointed her and I was mouth in the administration.  We each laid our left hand on her head and raised the right arm to the square.

I then prayed and blessed her as the spirit gave me utterance in short sentences waiting for the other brethren to repeat each sentence exactly as I spoke it.

When this manner of administration is rightly performed, the sick will be healed, unless they are sick unto death.

One more method I sometimes practice, administering to those nigh unto death.  Which is this: each elder prays in turn, and all the rest repeat, with hands upon head of the sick.  It must be done with the whole heart in faith and every one, in perfect accord, or union, with all the others.

I generally prefer only about 3 and not more than 4 for either of these ways of administering, both on account of the time it takes and the uncertainty of all hearts being united as one, where there is many, for union must exist, that the effect may be produced.

Ovanda continued to decline with occasional changes and strange fluctuations, curious symptoms, such as legs bloating, then the bloat or swelling would go to her arms and from there to her body and so ever changing.

Her mind was strangely affected, sometimes very clear and sometimes very cloudy.  Her suffering was intense and deathlike; poor soul we all sympathized with her and through it we became more and more attached to her.

All the time, my faith and confidence, that she would get well did not die out, although every sign was against her.

Sunday, Feb. 6, 1887:  Brother Benjamin Blanchard and I administered to her again which was the last time she was ever administered to. . . . I believe she was made clean and pure through suffering. . . and I have no doubt but she went to a blessed rest in heaven.  In a few days or weeks I wrote to Sister Zina and had Ovanda baptized and endowed in the Logan Temple.”  (Oliver B. Huntington journal, 27 Jan., 6 Feb., 1887)

24 Jul.:  “Last rites” for John Taylor.

“At the request of Sisters Taylor President Cannon called all the brethren and Sisters together and explained the wishes of the Sister’s Taylor to the effect that the President be administered to.  The brethren and Sisters all united with, Prest Joseph F. Smith who was mouth, in prayer.  Afterwhich, Prest Smith anointed Prest Taylor with oil – and Prests Cannon & Smith, Elders Nuttall, Bateman, Malin, Roueche and Barrell administered to the President, and dedicating him to the Lord either to live, or to go hence as the Lord Willed.  Pres Geo Q Cannon being mouth.  [Taylor died the next day.]”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 24 Jul., 1887)

Aug.:  We asked the Lord to take the child.

“In the early part of August [1887], Brother Smith’s child died.  The father and mother were in hiding.  My son’s wife came to me a few days later and asked me if I would go and administer to my daughter’s child.  When I arrived I found the child very ill, and by request of the father, Judson Tolman, we administered to it as its sufferings were great.  We asked the Lord to take the child, if it was His will, and in a few moments it passed away.”  (Thomas Briggs autobiography; in Our Pioneer Heritage, 3:313, 1960)

1888:  Death of Abraham H. Cannon’s daughter.

(ix:140, 170) Many continuous (one right after another) administrations are performed on Cannon’s daughter, little Em.

(ix:167) They dedicate Em to the Lord.

(ix:169) As part of the funeral service of Em, A. H. Cannon is anointed.  (Abraham H. Cannon diary – need to get text of these pages.)

6 Apr.:  Several administrations in one day.

“I went to Minas for the night, where Emily has been quite sick with symptoms of scarlet fever.  I administered to her several times today.  She was very restless tonight.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 6 Apr., 1888)

“About 11 o’clock Eugene came and told me ‘Em’ was worse.  I went over and found the folks in tears.  I administered to her every few minutes till 2 a.m. and she gradually improved.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 12 Apr., 1888)

“I went to the office about 7 a.m. and was very busy there until about 1 p.m. when Mina sent for me as Emily was worse.  I went and administered to her several times and she revived.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 14 Apr., 1888)

“Was at the office until about 11 o’clock and then went to Mina’s.  She was crying because Em. seemed so much worse, but Uncle Angus and I administered twice to her and I did several times alone, and she got easier and rested well.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 23 Apr., 1888)

“I remained at the office until 11 a.m. when I went to Em. who was very poorly.  She has been administered to a number of times today.  This evening Uncle Angus was at Bro. Jos. Bull’s in the 17th Ward, where a little sociable was being given in honor of Rev. Dr. Isaacson who has been baptized.  Apostle Lorenzo Snow was there, and as he was about to pray Uncle Angus requested him to remember Em. before the Lord.  When he had finished Uncle A. said he had failed to mention Em., when Bro. Snow took him by the arms and said ‘you tell her parents to be comforted, for if she is not appointed unto death, she will begin to get better from this moment,’ and about the time of this utterance she began to improve.  Patriarch John Smith came therafter to administer to her with Uncle A. and Bro. Jos. Bull, and he said also she would get well if her parents would exercise faith.  I cannot feel otherwise than that she will recover.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 24 Apr., 1888)

“I sat up all night with Em., who suffered very much.  Went to the office about 7 a.m. and was busy there a good part of the day.  About 11 a.m. Mina sent for me and when I reached Em. she was gasping and struggling for breath.  Bp. Geo. H. Taylor was ther and I took Newt. Farr with me; we each administered to her in turn and she immediately began to improve, and was soon easy again.  I bought her some cakes and she ate of them quite freely.  Dr. Booth was got by Uncle Angus today and he feels confident of her recovery.  I am thankful to say that the Lord has not permitted my faith to fail me at any moment.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 28 Apr., 1888)

“Emily was so weak and feeble that I only left her a few moments while I changed my clothes during the forenoon.  She was administered to a number of times during the day, and at the close of the afternoon meeting Uncle Angus brought in the following brethren: Apostle John W. Taylor, Patriarch John Smith, Rodney C. Badger, G. G. Bywater, A. F. McDonald, Bro. Wilson, John Nicholson and Thos. Parker.  Bro. Nicholson prayed, Bro. Badger anointed with oil and Bro. McDonald was mouth in sealing the anointing.  She began to be stronger after this blessing and went down to supper. . . . After returning to the city I found Em. very weak.  Bishop Geo. H. Taylor came and administered to her after meeting.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 29 Apr., 1888)

“I was sitting with Em. from 2 o’clock till 6.30 when I went to the office.–She seems much improved this morning.–I was sent for once or twice during the day to administer to her as she was very weak and feeble at times.  In the evening I did not leave her at all, as she was too low.  I laid down about 10 p.m. and slept till 12 when I arose and administered to Em., as she had a faint spell.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 30 Apr., 1888)

“At 5 a.m. Emily was overcome by a faint spell from which she did not rally for several hours.  About 8 a.m. Mina took her down stairs in the hope of reviving her, when she straightened out and a film came over her eyes making those believe who saw her that she was dead.  Even Uncle Angus seemed to lose faith for he went into the front room and remained away from her some time.  I had remained up stairs and engaged in prayer for some few moments, but someone came up for me and when I got down stairs, all were in tears as they believed the end was near.  Thank God, my faith did not waver, and I repeatedly administered to her and finally Uncle Angus, Thos. Parker and I administered to her a turn about when she revived and began to improve.  Patriarch John Smith also came by request and blessed her.  His faith was that she should recover.  At Dr. Booth’s suggestion we administered nourishment to her every hour by mouth and by injections as he says strength is all she now requires.  I was with her most of the day, even to the neglect of my business at the office.–I was working at the office until midnight when I went to the children and found Em. much improved.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 1 May, 1888)

“As Em. seemed better this morning I went quite early to the office, but was soon sent for as the baby was worse.  I went and administered to her when she revived and seemed bette, though Dr. Booth said it was out of his power to do anything more for her as from her throat down through all her bowels ulcers existed and he was confident they had broken through in places, and nothing but the power of God could now save her.  As she seemed bright and better I again returned to the office but about noon was called again to the house, where I found Emily sinking.  In attempting to anoint her I broke down which was the first weakening I have felt.  Patriarch Smith administered to her, and felt as though she would recover, as he said after finishing that all his strength seemed to have left him.  Geo. M. and Uncle Angus also administered to her and the latter dedicated her to the Lord, almost immediately after which she died (at 5 min. to 2 p.m.)  She seemed to die without the least pain.  Sister Rockwell held her on her knee.  I was completely overcome, as was also Mina, who nearly went into hysterics even an hour before the baby died.  She was not present as Em. passed away.–I swooned and had to be carried to bed where I lay in a semi-unconscious state all the afternoon and evening until sleep overcame me.  Many of the brethren came and administered to me.–My faith had been so set upon seeing my little darling recover, that her death seemed to almost strike my death-knell.  She was the most intelligent child I ever had and extremely lovable, everyone who met her having the greatest affection for her.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 2 May, 1888)

“At 3 p.m. the funeral of my little darling commenced at Aunt Sarah Cannon’s all arrangements therefor having been kindly made by Uncle Angus.  She was dressed in white satin and there was a heavenly expression on her face as she lay in her white velvet covered coffin.  The room was filled with sympathizing friends.  Bro. A. Miner opened with prayer which was in itself consoling.  Through a failure of Bro. G. G. Bywater to see Prof. Beesley there was neither quartette nor choir to sing, though at the close Martha Hardy played the organ and all joined in singing ‘nearer, my God, to Thee.’  Bro. John Nicholson was the first speaker; he gave some very consoling remarks, and felt that even this sad event was for some very wise purpose.  Bro. Geo. Bywater followed in a few remarks and Bishop Geo. H. Taylor concluded.  His words were very comforting.  He felt that little Em. was not without friends on the other side, for her grand-mother was there and others who would see to her welfare.–Bro. C. Wilcken closed the services with prayer, before which, however, I was anointed by T. E. Taylor and administered to by Geo. C. Lambert.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 3 May, 1888)

13/21 Jun.:  Dedicated him to die.

“An event of some little moment occurred June 13th 1889 and June 21st that I will here relate.  The man who some years ago took me by the collar and kicked me several times without any real cause whatever on the 13th of June was hauling lumber and tipped over with the lumber on top of him but was rescued and taken out alive but mortally injured in his hips. The front bone between the hips was crushed in a way that stopped his water.  He knew that he must die and met death bravely, lived until the 21st of June.

When he found that death was coming upon him he sent for me to come and administer to him the ordinance of annointing and laying of hands.

I gladly accepted the invitation and treasured the invitation as a token of true repentance and confession, told him I was glad he sent for me.  We had never recognized each other since the act of violence.

When I saw his great suffering and realized that it was the result of God’s vengeance that I had asked for I felt that it was more terrible than I had anticipated and if I could have recalled the petition I would freely have done so.

When his suffering became most extreme he sent for me again to come and dedicate him so that he could die quick and get out of his misery.  I did as he requested and he passed off in 10 minutes or perhaps in 5, and if the family had not gathered around him as soon as I had finished the ceremony to bid him goodbye, I think he would have gone in 3 minutes.”  (Oliver B. Huntington journal, entry following entry of 1 Dec., 1888)

16 Sep.:  Women washed, anointed, spoke in tongues.

“Mother’s life was miraculously saved many times.  I remember when Abner was born, 16 Sept. 1888, Mother had milk leg and was critically ill.  Aunt Zina Young was visiting at Kamas when she learned of mother’s condition.  She came immediately with other faithful sisters.  They washed and anointed mother and then Aunt Zina spoke in tongues.  We children had been sent out to gather seeds pods [sic] from the poppy patch only a few feet from mother’s room.  We were shocked into silence at Aunt Zina’s strange words reached us, but we were made most happy to hear Aunt Laura Pack say that the Holy Spirit promised mother she would live and rear her own family, and be a blessing to many yet unborn.”  (Leah Jane Shaw autobiographical sketch; in Our Pioneer Heritage, 2:91-92, 1959)

1889:  6 Apr.:  If insufficient faith, obtain physician.

“John W. Taylor then spoke [General Conference] on the subject of faith, and told the people when they did not have sufficient faith to have their sick healed, they should secure the services of a physician and not let their sick die through neglect and ignorance.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 6 Apr., 1889)

31 May:  Mocking consecration of oil.

“A sad affair is reported as having occurred in Provo a few days since.  Joseph Smoot, a son of Pres. A. O. Smoot, who is wild and addicted to the use of liquor, went into a salon and after getting a glass of whiskey mockingly conserated it, as is customary in the consecration of oil in the Church.  No sooner had he finished this sacreligious act than he was struck with paralysis and fell helpless on the floor.  His Gentile companions were horrified at his act, and its result, and carried him home where he has since laid in a very precarious condition.  A horrible warning to scoffers!”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 31 May, 1889)

21/22 Oct.:  The Holy Ghost had not inspired his promises.

“[21 Oct.] I went to supper at Sarah’s, and at 7 p.m. met Bros. John Nicholson, Rodney C. Badger and Geo. Bywater at Sister Sarah Dumford’s on the south side of my block.  She was stricken with partial paralysis on Friday last and is now very sick and weak.  Bro. Badger prayed, I anointed with oil and Bro. Nicholson administered to her.  She was not promised life, but peace and rest were sealed uopn her head, whatever might be God’s will concerning her.  Bro. Patterson, a brother who spends all his time I understand in administering to the sick, promised her some time since that she should live to see her great-grandchildren.  Her grandson, Geo. Alder, was married in September last, and she and her relatives cling to the promise made by this elder.  I did not, however, feel to make her any promises in regard to the future. . . .

[22 Oct.] Sister Dunford died this morning.  This proves that in promising her life till she should see her great-grandchildren Bro. Patterson was not inspired by the Holy Ghost.  Elders should be careful not to let their desires prompt them to make promises to the sick which the Spirit of God does not dictate.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 21 & 22 Oct., 1889)

8 Dec.:  Administered 5 times to no avail.

“Our little daughter Janet died at 7 Pm of cold, teething and canker.  She was sick 10 days, first taking a cold of a peculiar nature attacking throat & head.  During her sickness she cut one tooth and 4 more nearly thro.  She was very patient in her suffering, acting very knowingly and opening her little mouth when she wanted any thing to allay the feverish thirst.  Her mother is in deep sorrow and feels her loss most intensely as we all do but no one like her dear mother tho she had gained the hearts of all.  Her aunt Elizabeth was her constant nurse nearly thro it all, Sister Charlotte Walker directing.  Aunts Tury and Jennett also Kate were indefatagible in their attentions and kind services, while Jno S. Fife and W V Walker were of great assistance in sitting up, administering, etc.  The Elders were prompt, active and full of faith in their administration.  I administered to her 5 times, the last about 7 hours before her death, and I can truly say that in my administration on her head and my secret prayers at my house below, I never enjoyed a stronger faith or a greater abundance of the spirit of the Lord.  Peace to her ashes and God bless our darling.”  (Christopher J. Arthur diary, 8 Dec., 1889; LC Collection)

1890:    18 Jan.:  Punishing faith cure believers.


During recent years the number of people in the United States who profess a belief in the possibility and practicability of curing disease by faith, has steadily increased, and their peculiar views and conduct are somewhat perplexing to courts and officers of the law.  In many of the states it is made by law incumbent upon husbands, parents and guardians to provide proper medical attendance for their wives, children and wards, in cases of sickness.  But the question frequently arises, Shall a person who believes in the sick being healed by faith, be arrested, fined and imprisoned for failing or refusing to provide or administer medicine to them?

This question involves not only the vital element of religious liberty, but also the basic principles of the so-called science of medicine.  If it be granted that the law-making power has the right to compel the administration of medicine to a sick person, it must follow, as a matter of inevitable logic, that the legislature has the right to say what is medicine, and what is not.  The attempt to do this would raise a storm among the medical fraternity and there lay sympathizers among the masses.  The allopathic practitioners would hold that the minute pellets of sugar, containing but a faint trace of drugs, which the homoepathists use, are not medicine at all, but limited confectionary only–Christmas goods on a small scale as it were.  And thus the field of medical polemics would be invaded by the lawmakers with probable consequences too far-reaching to be easily foretold.

The right to require that medicine be administered to the sick logically includes the right to discriminate as to what remedies shall or shall not be used.  Thus to administer ipecac as a remedy for gout, or to require a patient to drink coal oil to cure the cramps, might appropriately be prohibited by law, if the lawmaking power is to take the subject in hand.

It is difficult to discus this question in a manner to avoid a vein of absurdity which runs through it.  Even so staid a journal as the New York Christian Union is scarcely able to do it, as the following remarks made by it indicate:

If society may determine that prayer will not heal, and punish a man for administering prayer, why may it not determine that allopathic remedies will not heal, and punish him for administering allopathic remedies?  The individual has some rights which the majority are bound to respect.  To attempt to compel a man to pursue the course of healing which the majority think right is carrying sumptuary legislation beyond the bounds to which it was ever carried by Puritan or Hebrew.  We dougt whether its parallel is to be found even in the legislation of the French Revolution.  The blood fht emartyrs is the seed of more than the church.  If we want to feed the fires of fanaticism, we [several words missing] a better way than by putting half a dozen faith-curists in prison for not giving their wives and children the medical treatment which is common in the community.  If some people die for want of drugs, a great many die because of them.  If society will tkae precautionary measures to protect children from the ignorance or the religious enthusiasm of their parents or guardians, it will carry protective measures as far as it can carry them with safety or advantage.

It is not difficult to draw the line beyond which legislation should not extend in relation to this subject.  Society has the right to enforce such measures as will check the spread of infectious or contagious diseases, and to provide suitable medical attendance and care for the sick.  But it has no right to compel a rational person to use remedies to which he objects.”  (Editorial, C. W. Penrose, editor, DW 40(4):120-121, 18 Jan., 1890)

1 Feb.:  Faith cure martyrs.


A short time since the NEWS treated editorially on the subject of punishing faith cure believers for refusing to administer medicine to their children, or other persons beneath their charge.  The New York Sun ahs the following facts and comments upon a case of this kind:

Four believers in the faith cure, or members of the sect calling themselves New Evangelists, have been sentenced in Brooklyn to pay fines varying from $100 to $500, or to stand committed one day for each dollar of the fine.  They had refused to give medicine prescribed by physicians for children suffering from diphtheria and scarlet fever.  The penalties were imposed under the section of the Penal Code which reads:

Section 288.  A person who wilfully omits, without lawful excuse, to perform a duty by law imposed upon him to furnish food, clothing, shelter, or medical attendance to a minor, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

The accused undoubtedly violated this provision of the law, and they made no effort to escape apprehension and punishment.  Both Larsen and Jansen, the fathers of the sick children, called in physicians in order to comply with a regulation of the Brooklyn board of health, but they openly and stubbornly refused to administer the medicines ordered, on the ground of religious scruples.  The two others of the convicted were women of the sect who acted as volunteer nurses.  They are all sincere, conscientious, peaceable, and generally law-abiding people, in that respect standing above the average of the community; but they believe that in leaving their sick in the hands of God alone they obey a divine command which no human law can annul.  Therefore, so far as the present members of the sect are concerned, such punishments as were inflicted on these four will be of no avail.  They look on fines and imprisonment as trials sent by God to strengthen their faith.  If they can give up their children to death because they believe it to be the divine will, mere temporal penalties inflicted on themselves will, of course, be without effect to change their faith and their practice.  But Dr. Bierwirth, a physician to the Brooklyn Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, thinks that ‘a few severe punishments will frighten off new comers and prevent an increase in their number.’  We very much question whether that will be the case.  The experience of the past is such that fanatics, if you may so call them, are rather multiplied by what they regard as persecution of the world.  It affords them an opportunity to manifest before society the strength and sincerity of their convictions, and doubtless, therefore, all these four convicted are now rejoicing that they were chosen of God to be witness to the faith. * * *

There are other people besides the New Evangelists who do not believe in doctors or drugs.  They throw the doctor’s stuff out of the window, preferring to leave the cure to nature.  Even now many homoeopathists regard the medicines administered by the regular schools as little better than rank poison, and those who trust the old school of medicine look with pity on their neighbors who rely upon homoeopathic doctors.  There are also minor sects in medicine which distrust both the one and the other.”

(Editorial, C. W. Penrose, editor, DW 40(6):187, 1 Feb., 1890)

27 Apr.:  Casting out of a devil.

“While here [Tooele] Bro. B. S. Young told of a case of casting out of devils which occurred under Elder Wm. G. Phillips’ administration in England.  Elder P. was called to administer to a lady who was thus afflicted.  He took with him two local Elders, and after entering the house he called one of these Elders to anoint with oil.  As this brother approached to do so the lady looked up at him and said in a man’s voice (the evil spirit in her spoke) ‘You cannot anoint me; you are an adulterer.’  He stepped back and acknowledged that he could not anoint her.  The other was asked to do so and he was met by the same voice saying ‘You cannot anoint me, for you do not keep the Word of Wisdom.’  Bro. Phillips with trembling limbs then stepped forward and anointed and administered to the afflicted.  At his rebuke the evil spirit departed.  Later in the same day he was called in again to administer as the same spirit had seized upon the lady.  This time he rebuked the spirit and commanded it to leave the place and enter it no more.  Instantly he heard a voice at the door saying in substance, ‘You fool, why didn’t you drive me from the house when you were here before.  You only commanded me to leave the person of the woman, and I therefore remained in the house, and when you had gone I took possession of her again; but now I must leaven the place as you direct.’  Other miraculous cases of healing were mentioned.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 27 Apr., 1890)

 15 Oct.:  Repeated administrations at one time.

“One evening last summer a thirteen-year-old boy of one of the Elders in a settlement not far from Ogden led a horse to water, and as he was returning from the crek he passed along by a high board fence, on the other side of which another boy was passing.  The latter saw a pitchfork lying in his path, and without looking to see if any person was on the opposite side, seized and threw it over the fence.  Just at this instant the boy with the horse came up, and one tine of the fork penetrated his right front side.  The weight of the fork then caused it to fall to the ground.

The wounded boy staggered about for a short time and then leaned against the fence until carried to the house.

Externally there was no bleeding, but internally the hemorrhage was so great and rapid that he was threatened with suffocation.  The father arrived shortly after the accident and found the boy gasping for breath, and to all human appearance about to die.  He immediately called in other Elders and they together administered to the boy.

In the meantime a message had been sent to Ogden and two physicians came in response to the summons.  They carefully examined the wound and announced that the sufferer could not possibly live, and the best they could do for him was to administer an opiate and relieve him of the intense pain until he passed away.  A sister of the wounded boy, who had already been earnestly praying in her room for his recovery, heard the doctors’ statement but was not convinced of its truth.  She exclaimed, ‘Well, he can live,’ and then ran upstairs to continue her prayers for the boy’s recovery.

The father told the physicians that if they had no more consolation to give than this announcement, they could go, as he would not allow them to administer any drugs.  After they had gone the Elders several times anointed and administered to the afflicted one, and in five hours after the accident he had such relief that he fell into an easy slumber and rested peacefully the whole night.

The next morning one of the doctors heard of the marvelous change for the better in the boy’s condition and hastened to his bedside.  He asked him if he would take some medicine, but they boy answered, ‘No.’  The physician looked nonplussed for a moment, then took his hat and walked from the house without a word.  He never rendered a bill for services, nor did he ever refer to the remarkable case in the presence of any who were acquainted with it.

The boy recovered immediately, and the evening after the accident was out doing his usual chores.  Thus was the faith of this family greatly increased in the pwoer and willingness of God to save.”  (JI 25(20):632-633, 15 Oct., 1890)

Nov.:  Consecrated oil for toothache.

“In this department, we desire to insert such testimonies of the power of faith and the healing of the sick, as may seem right and wise. . . .

One other case comes to my mind:

‘What do you do for the toothache?’ asked one sister of another.   ‘Oh,’ was the reply, ‘we are just old fashioned enough over here in our house, to use consecrated oil, and the administration of the priesthood for even the toothache.’

The visiting sister asked her friend if she and her mother would bless her and give her some oil to put on a cotton for her complaint.  It was done, and the affliction disappeared and has not since returned.”  (YWJ 2(2):77-79, Nov., 1890)