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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – Healing, 1891

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood Healing, 1891.” You can view other years here.

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PRIESTHOOD:  Healings, 1891.

1891:  26 Jan.:  Healing with a blessed handkerchief.

“A remarkable handkerchief:–Bro. Hale was telling at the table of the healing of his son Soley about 23 years ago when they were living in Liberty, Bear Lake Co.  The little fellow had begged his mother to let him go barefoot as other boys did.  She finally consented, but through running in the water, etc., the little fellow contracted a fever sore which caused him the most intense pain, and even threatened his life.  Pres. Young and his party were traveling through the county at this time holding meetings with the people, and the father being one of the President’s escort was with him in Paris, some miles from his home.  Just as they were about to sit down to dinner a messenger came from Sister Hale that the father must hurry home if he desired to see his child alive.  He burst into tears, and being noticed by Pres. Young, was asked the cause.  On learning what was the matter Pres. Y. asked Bro. Hale if he would like some one to go with him to administer to the boy, and being answered in the affirmative Father and Brigham Jr. were sent.  Bro. Hale had a fast team and he drove them to their utmost speed.  Just as they came in sight of his home Father was seized with a severe pain in his limb which he could scarcely endure.  He made the remark ‘The child is at ease, but I have been seized by the pain.’  On reaching the house Sister Hale said that just as she saw them coming, the boy, who had been screaming with pain became quiet, and she supposed he had died; but on reaching his bed she found he had fallen asleep.–Bro. Brigham anointed with oil and Father administered and in his prayer he had prayed for his own relief from pain, as well as for the child, and God answered the prayer.–Just as Bro. Hale was leaving Pres. Young and company to take the brethren to his home the Pres. took from his pocket a large fine silk handkerchief.  He folded it in his hand and with his back to Bro. Hale seemed to ask a blessing on it.  He then handed it to the latter with the remark ‘After the brethren have administered to the child you wrap this around the limb and leave it till I come.’  This was done and the leg was healed speedily by the power of God.  The handkerchief is still kept by this boy, and whenever he is afflicted he uses it and never fails to find relief therefrom.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 26 Jan., 1891)

25 Feb.:  Anointing of a whole body.

“Bro Andrew Olson, of Beaver, a missionary to Scandinavia called & desired to be anointed and administered to.  He is deformed in his back & body & he wanted to be restored to proper shape & become physically strong.  By direction of Pres Woodruff I anointed Bro Olsen on his head, back, ribs and breast, & Pres Geo. Q. Cannon was mouth in prayer.  Pres Woodruff assisting.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 25 Feb., 1891)

Apr.:  The evil tendency to use doctors.

“There have probably been more accessions to the ranks of doctors and lawyers in our midst of late years than to any other profession or trade.  If such has been the case the cause thereof must be that the Latter-day Saints furnish them employment and its consequent remuneration; because there are certainly not a sufficient number of non-Mormons in this territory to support the host of persons engaged in these professions. . . .

It is of doctors, however, and their enormous practice that I desire more especially to write at present.  The time was in this territory when physicians numbered but few and the families were limited wherein their services were ever required.  At present the conditions and changed, and nearly every family residing in the neighborhood of a doctor are visited to a greater or less extent by him.  The general experience is similar to that of a prominent man in one of our stakes as expressed to me recently: ‘A short time ago we had no physician in our stake and it was rarely that we felt the lack of one, but since one located among us sickness has increased so rapidly that we can now keep two such professionals going night and day to answer calls.’

If it is true that the host of doctors now in our midst find remunerative practice, then there must be some censure due to the Saints for a disregard of the Lord’s counsel.  For there has certainly been an increase of disease and a consequent greater demand for medical services, all out of proportion to the increase of population.  True there may be local causes to assist in the addition to the death-rate, such as improper water supply, accumulations of filth, lack of air circulation, etc., but these do not account for our great amount of sickness.  The cause must be in our habits and food, and intemperance in various directions coupled with our inherited weaknesses.

I have no doubt we would very soon become a healthy and strong people if we would strictly follow the suggestions contained in the Word of Wisdom and the ordinary rules of health which common sense suggests; and then exercise faith in the ordinances of the gospel for the benefit of the afflicted, instead of sending for a doctor the moment we feel indisposed.  This latter course shows a lack of faith.  But unbelief is natural where disobedience has been practiced.  It is quite reasonable for a person to feel doubtful as to the result of the ‘laying on of hands’ when his own folly, indiscretion or disobedience has caused the sickness.  But when one has observed the laws of health to the best of his ability and has kept the other laws of God, then he can ask in faith for restoration, in the hour of physical weakness, and his petition will not remain unheard or unanswered.  Favor with God can only be had by obedience to His requirements and a diligent application of the faith which is born of obedience.

I do not wish to decry the profession of a surgeon, for I think it a very honorable and necessary one, but I would like to impress the Saints with the necessity of exercising more faith in the power and willingness of God to check the destroyer in our midst.  It is a shame to us as a people that we neglect, as many of us do, the gifts of healing and the gift to be healed which the Lord has so mercifully given us.  It is a disgrace that scoffers of our religion can come among us, many possessing a mere smattering of medical knowledge and can speedily obtain a practice netting them thousands of dollars annually, while the great Giver of life, who knows how to provide every organ of the body with its full power of action, is unsought in the hour of sickness.  It is a standing reproach to us that with the promised gifts of the gospel which we say are among us, we still place more reliance on the skill and knowledge of man, than on the power of God.

It may be asked, however, if we should not use human skill in times of sickness.  Certainly, we should, but the skill and ability of those of our own faith should be employed, and not those of an enemy.

Among us there are physicians and surgeons who stand very high in the knowledge of medicine.  Where doctors are needed these should be employed, and when they have done all that their wisdom or experience can suggest for the patient, they can then, by virtue of their Priesthood, administer the ordinances of the gospel and call forth that unseen but greater power which emanates from the Father of all.

We may sometimes feel that the gifts of the gospel were necessary in the infancy of the Church, but healings, speaking in tongues, etc., are now supplanted by skill and experience, and are no longer necessary.  This is the argument of the world concerning the gospel as taught by Jesus.  It is a false theology which creates this feeling, and the Saints who entertain it are in great danger.  Just as necessary now as ever are these promised signs to the Saints and where faith is exercised they are just as abundant.

Some will say that they have been faithful in following the order of the Church as commanded by God, in regard to their sick, and yet they have died.  That may be so, but remember, there is a time for all to die–some in infancy, others in childhood, maturity, or old age.  But it is the privilege of the people to so live that they may know something concerning the purposes of God in respect to themselves, and those dear to them and thus not be disheartened at the result.  We may be certain of this, however, that faith and careful nursing will save more lives than medicine.

It is my personal belief that many lives have been sacrificed to our folly in neglecting the pla[i]n admonitions of the Lord with regard to the care of our bodies, in the time of health and the attention to the sick among us, and until we can be more diligent in practicing those things which have been revealed, we will be afflicted in body, and the destroying angel will enter many homes to lay his cold hand upon those we love.”  (Abraham H. Cannon, “Evil tendencies,” YWJ 2(7):321-323, Apr., 1891)

25 Jul.:  Failure of a blessing:  Why?

“Bro. L. F. Moench traveled from Ogden to my destination where we arrived at 9.45 p.m. and were met by Bp. Wm. C. Parkinson  and Presdts. Geo. C. Parkinson and M. F. Cowley.  We were entertained at the home of the former.  His wife here told me that when I was here last in blessing her new born babe I had promised it should live to manhood.  Several weeks thereafter it was taken sick with pneumonia and while in this condition the Elders who administered to it promised it continued life.  Yet it died, and being their first and only son out of several children the blow was a severe one.  I could not account for the failure of our promises that it should live except that sympathy instead of the Spirit of God prompted the utterances.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 25 Jul., 1891)

1892:  15 Jan.:  Joseph Smith anointed her throat with oil.

“The Prophet Joseph was often at my father’s house.  Some incidents which I recollect of him made deep impressions on my child-mind.  One morning when he called at our house, I had a very sore throat.  It was much swollen and gave me great pain.  He took me up in his lap, and gently anointed my throat with consecrated oil and administered to me, and I was healed.  I had no more pain nor soreness.”  (Margarette McIntire Burgess, JI 27(2):66, 15 Jan., 1892)

1893:  Jan.:  Using the power of evil to heal.

“Explain to the girls that no matter what remedies they apply to themselves or others when sick these remedies must be given with faith in them and their efficacy or the desired results will not follow.  For instance, do you know of some foolish people who tie their faith up to such things as tow strings for the mumps, drowned mice or fried mice for the whooping cough, a rabbit’s foot for teething children’s gums, a stolen dish rag for warts, and many, very many other just such absurd and silly practices.  Did any of you ever steal your mother’s dish rag for a wart?  Do you know of people who refuse to comb their hair after dark, and who grieve when the salt is spilled?  Ah, but says my dear listener, you don’t know what you are talking about.  I have tried those things, says she, and know that there is something more than common about that which you ridicule.  Do you, my dear?  Well, so do I.  You say that you have lost your warts after the dish rag was buried; so have I, my dear.  And you say that you have seen a great improvement in sick children after some of these most peculiar remedies have been tried.  So have I, my dear.  Do you know what the principal ingredients of the materia medica of a Chinese doctor consists of?  It is just such things as you and I have been talking about; frog’s eyes, snake’s fat, and the dried wings of dragon flies.  It is really startling to see to what lengths this superstition has gone among that people, that is the Chinese.  And, too, there are all the awful and blood-curdling remedies practiced by the witches of well remembered New England fame, terrible remedies that had to be gathered and prepared in yawning churchyards, and dug from fresh graves.  Ah yes, my dear friend, I am even more willing than you are to admit that there is an awful and a peculiar medical virtue about all these things.  I say I am more willing to admit it than you are, for I know its cause, and you are about half frightened to even think of it, let alone think it all calmly out, and see where you and where these others stand in this matter.  I have, let me say it humbly and sacredly, been under the ban of horrid fright and superstition for many years of my young life, and no one knows what a sensitive and imaginative nature can suffer from fear and belief in the horrors of the unknown; but through faith, faith mind you, and prayer I have found my way into the light of day upon this subject, and I just sometimes wish I could take every young and superstitious mother in my arms and tell her what I have learned and what I have suffered in this matter.  We have admitted that there is a strong power in these terrible superstitions, and now it behooves us to ask ourselves whence this power arises and what is its cause.  It is not enough to say that it is the power of the devil.  That is true, and yet it is only half of the truth.  I want to ask you what it is that heals you when you are administered to by the priesthood?  We will leave out the question of medicine, and assume that you have been healed wholly and solely by the power of the priesthood.  What was the reason?  Because you had faith, or some one else had faith for you.  It may be that your faith was weak, and your body being weak also, your friends or the administering brethren had to exercise the faith in your behalf.  That is precisely what happens when you are healed with a stolen dish rag or a fried mouse.  What, you exclaim, do you mean to imply that I have exerted my faith in the devil or in his agents?  Precisely so, my dear.  I will venture to say that there are few of us so ignorant that we do not know and recognize that the cure which is effected by silly and superstitious means is not effected by the forces of light and truth.  You, or those to whom you may have applied, are responsible for the faith exercised, and you can reach, not the same end, but you can accomplish a healing which is spurious and which is like all other counterfeits, all the more dangerous for its near likeness to the true, by going to the opposing power.

My little girl was slipping out of the back door in a suspicious manner one day last summer, and I stopped her.  What are you going to do? I asked.  After much hesitation I gleaned the fact that she had stolen the dish rag, and was just about to bury it in order to get rid of her big wart.  Do you think this act of your will take away the ward? I asked her.  Yes, she confessed that she did, and she proceeded to retail to me a whole batch of similar experiences of her young companions, each of whom had been mysteriously cured in the same way.  We sat down, and with her in my arms I entered into some quiet and solemn talk.  After it was over I suggested to her that it would be a wise thing to try what God would do for her in such a small matter as this, even before she appealed to a power which she dimly realized was wicked, for did she not have to proceed in deceit and stealth in order to make the ‘devilish charm’ complete?  I told her I had felt just the same way when I was a little girl, and showed her by what steps I had climbed out of that particular pit.  Then we got the bottle of oil, and in a simple and childlike way we asked our Father to take away the unsightly disfigurement on my darling’s hand.  It is needless to add that the ward was gone before either one of us thought of it again.

I asked her in the course of our conversation why it was she had put so much faith in this, and she replied because her companions had tried it, and anyway she felt in herself there was a strange and mysterious power in it she could not fathom, and because of its mysteriousness she thought it would surely come true.

Do I believe in witches and their power?  I most decidedly do, for I know there is a devil in hell, and he will lead all men to him, if they will allow him.  But I know, too, that there is a God in heaven, and that He will give us infinitely more power and faith than we can ever get from that devilish source, and so I look up and trust in God.  Tell your young girls in this lesson whenever they feel inclined to try this or that superstition just to try God and His plan first, and if it should fail then would be time enough to try the devil’s plan.

There is a point which I alluded to in my little girl’s remark.  It is the faith we get from hearing others’ recital.  You see she had heard her young companions tell of their experiences, and this strengthened her own faith.  Dare you, my beloved sister, pour into the ears of your young sisters, the recital of your experiences with dish cloths, two strings, or other false and misleading elements of this law of faith?  I warn you, daughters of Israel, beware how you pollute the sanctuary of God by bringing in the superstitions and follies of a wicked and corrupt generation.  There is so much to be said on this vast subject that I fear I shall weary you, and I must avoid that.  There is one thing–the point of giving medicine–and this must be touched upon, lightly, perhaps, but certainly something must be said.  I have said in the beginning of this article that part of the effect of the administration of medicine is due to the faith exercised in that remedy.  This is true.  I asked a man who does not believe in faith why it was that he had faith to give his child calomel.  He said he had tried it, and he knew its effects were good.  Well, I said, that is precisely why I have faith in consecrated oil and the administration of the priesthood.  I have tried it, and I know its effects to be good.  No man can pretend to exactly state what ails a sick person, nor what particular medicine will be the best.  No, he gives as nearly as possible what other experiences have demonstrated to him would be good in such a case, and exercises quietly all the faith in his own remedy that he can.  If he had no faith he would not give it.  Well, says my listener, but do you not believe there is much virtue in medicine?  Most decidedly I do.  For we are told to use mild food and herbs, mark that, if we have not faith to be healed without.  If we can get faith, though, how much easier, how much less troublesome and expensive withal.  And now, how shall we go to work to obtain this faith?  My advice to the girls would be, do not wait until you are sick nigh unto death before making a trial of your faith and the power of God.  The next time you have a headache take some oil and ask God to heal you.  If you have a touch of sore throat, try the oil and a little prayer before you try a single thing besides.  Go to bed and see if you are not better in the morning.  If you are, then go on adding experience to experience until you have accumulated a store of faith that will all be needed when your body is weak, and you are sick unto death.  That is the very best way to obtain faith.  If I were to tell you to try a certain patent medicine under the same circumstances, I think you would all be willing to test my words, if I spoke with the solemn assurance I do on this subject.  But I ask you to try faith, the consecrated oil, and if you still feel sick ask your mother or your father to administer to you.  Try that; then if that fails, and they wish to call in Elders, let them do so, and thus exhaust the ordinances of the priesthood before you take the other step.  But I will assure you, except for some definite purpose in the Lord, if you will try all these methods of faith first, you will not be obliged to go for any doctor, nor to use any medicine, unless it be a fast and a drink of warm water to cleanse away morbid secretions.  Sometimes we are afflicted in our bodies, and God allows it, that we may thus gain experiences.  When it is so, and our faith seems insufficient, let us be contented to wait patiently until the lesson is learned, and then we can go on and on.  This is a beautiful and significant lesson, and you will receive as much benefit in teaching it to others as they will in receiving it from you.  The younger the child is who learns this lesson of faith the easier it is for him and the longer will the impression last.”  (“Theological Department–Healing of the Sick,” YWJ 4(4):173-177, Jan., 1893)

9 Nov.:  Healing of animals.

“Pres. Woodruff told of himself and David Patten being in Tennessee on a mission.  While there Bro. Patten had a journey of 40 miles to make one day, but when he went out to get the mile he had procured for this labor, he was on the ground nearly dead with the colic.  Bro. Patten said:  ‘See here, old fellow, this won’t do!!  You have got to carry me 40 miles today,’ and with these words he stepped up to the animal, laid his hands on the animal, and blessed him.  The mule immediately arose, and made the journey.  Pres. Woodruff said that was the only time in his life when his faith had been tried, but he thought it strange for an Elder to administer to a mule, and thus do what seemed sacrilege in his mind at that time. –Bro. Joseph F. Smith told of his mother having one of her oxen become sick when she was coming to the valley with her family.  The captain of the company said the animal would die, but she got out a bottle of consecrated oil, and got two of the brethren to administer to the ox, and it recovered.  Father also had one of his cattle healed by the laying on of hands by himself.  The animal accidentally got its leg badly hurt, and it looked as though it could no more travel, but Father slipped out after dark and administered to it, and it recovered and made the journey home.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 9 Nov., 1893)