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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1823-1829

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PRIESTHOOD, 1823-1829

1823:  21 Sep.:  Moroni’s message regarding priesthood.  

“And again he quoted the fifth verse thus, ‘Behold I will reveal unto you the Priesthood by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.’  He also quoted the next verse differently.  ‘And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers, if it were not so the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.'”  (Joseph Smith, 1838 History; also T&S 3(12):753, 15 Apr., 1842)

[Note that the references to Elijah in relation to the Moroni visits do not appear in any known accounts written prior to 1838.  There is no hint of Elijah in the 1832 history of Joseph Smith, nor the 1834 history by Oliver Cowdery in the M&A]

“The harvest time had now arrived since we opened our new farm and all our sons were actively employed in assisting their Father to cut down the grain and storing it away in order.  One evening we were sitting till quite late conversing upon the subject of the diversity of churches that had risen up in the world and the many thousand opinions in existence as to the truths contained in scripture.  Joseph never said many words upon any subject but always seemed to reflect more deeply than common persons of his age upon everything of a religious nature.  After we ceased conversation he went to bed and was pondering in his mind which of the churches were true, but he had not laid there long till he saw a bright light enter the room where he lay.  He looked up and saw an angel of the Lord standing by him.  The angel spoke [‘]I perceive that you are enquiring in your mind which is the true church there is not a true church on Earth No not one and has not been since Peter took the Keys of the Melchesidec priesthood after the order of God into the Kingdom of Heaven.  The churches that are now upon the Earth are all man made churches.[‘]”  (Lucy Mack Smith manuscript history, p. 46)  [NOTE THAT THERE IS NO MENTION IN THE MANUSCRIPT VERSION OF THE FIRST VISION, ALTHOUGH ORSON PRATT ADDED THE 1838 ACCOUNT TO THE 1853 PUBLISHED VERSION.]

5 Oct.:  If we have faith we shall never die.

Wayne Sentinel, Palmyra, N.Y., Wednesday, October 5, 1823, vol. I, no. 2.

“‘For false Christs and false Prophets, shall rise.’

There is a man now living in the vicinity of Bowling Green, Ky. who calls himself Jesus Christ, and holds to the doctrine of living forever, in this world, in our present shape.  He takes the Bible for his guide, with every chapter and verse of which he is familiar, and quotes many parts to show if we have faith, we ‘shall never die;’ adding that many of the disciples of the former Christ never died, or that the scripture furnishes no evidence of the fact.  He has been preaching for a year past, and possesses good natural talents, but his education is quite limited.  He says he is the Christ, because he was the first that embraced the doctrine of living forever on this earth.  He had founded a city, which he calls New Jerusalem; the only building, as yet, is a little hut, built in the shape of a tent with small poles, and covered with dirt.  He lives a very frugal life.  Twelve men, some of them worth 4 or 5000 dollars, have declared in his favor, and a number have commenced preaching.  He formerly went by the name of M’Donald, is a tailor by profession, and about 50 years of age.–Alb. Gaz.”  (DALE MORGAN – “THE MORMONS AND THE FAR WEST:  A collection of transcripts of newspaper articles on the Mormons, also containing material on the following subjects:  the opening of the West; the fur trade; Indians of the middle and south-western states; the Santa Fe trade, etc.  1809-c.1857.”  Huntington Library)

1824:  20 Jan.:  A prophet in Kentucky.

The Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock, Ark., Vol. 5, Jan. 20, 1824.

“A deluded being or a designing knave in Kentucky, who calls his name Jesus Christ, has established himself at a place which he denominates New Jerusalem, and inculcates the doctrine of ‘living forever in this world in our present shape, provided we have faith.’  He is a tailor by profession, and has already obtained twelve converts to his doctrine, some of whom are persons of wealth, and have commenced preaching.  Can there be a teacher found so extravagant and ignorant, that he will not have some disciples? and can there be a doctrine broached so absurd and contradictory to reason and every day’s experience, that it will not have zealous advocates?  What commentary do these instances furnish on the perfectability of human nature.”  (DALE MORGAN – “THE MORMONS AND THE FAR WEST:  A collection of transcripts of newspaper articles on the Mormons, also containing material on the following subjects:  the opening of the West; the fur trade; Indians of the middle and south-western states; the Santa Fe trade, etc.  1809-c.1857.”  Huntington Library)

1827:  22 Sep.(?):  “I have got the key.”

“Joseph returned & trembled so much with fear lest all might be lost aging [again?] by some small failure in keeping the commandments that I was under the necessity of l[e]aving the room to conceal my feelings.  Joseph saw this and followed me.  Mother said he do not be uneasy all is right see here said he I have got the key.  I knew not what he meant but took the article in my hands and examining it found that it consisted of 2 smooth 3 cornered diamonds set in glass and the glass was set in silver bows (*with no covering but a silk handkerchief). . . .

The thing which spoke of what Joseph termed a Key was indeed nothing more nor less than a urim and Thummim by which the angel manifested those things to him that were shown him in vision by the which also he could at any time ascertain the approach of danger either to himself or the record and for this cause he kept these things constantly about his person.”  (Lucy Mack Smith manuscript history, p. 67, 74)

1828:    5 Apr.:  High Priest/Twelve–A. Campbell.

“Many of all [?] denominations have been arrested by the discovery that He that died on Calvary now sits upon the throne of the Universe, and is the Only King, Lord, potentate, lawgiver, prophet, and High Priest over the Israel of God.  They have been turned out of the establishments that turned out the apostles; and they that refused to recognize the right of the Holy twelve to the thrones of judgment over the New Mountain of the Lord, have refused a seat behind the door to all who love and venerate them as the Only Ambassadors of the Lord Jesus.”  (Alexander Campbell [Bethany, VA] to George Bush [Indianapolis, IN], 5 Apr., 1828; Campbell Archives, Bethany, WV; xerox; original in Simon Gratz Collection, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania)

Aug.:  Sidney Rigdon and W. Hayden’s call.

“I recollect in that ride we talked of William’s [Hayden] relation to the ministry.  He was not a formally recognised preacher among the Baptists.  He was so far advanced in public addresses and private labors, in ‘Counsels’ &c. that the Church of Canfield had discussed the matter, and were about to confer on him the authority to preach.  This however was never done.  But as the gospel opened, his readiness, fluency and zeal set him to preaching.  He engaged in this way, holding meetings occasionally during the Spring and Summer of 1828.  When the Church of Austintown was formed in June, as before stated, he was placed over it by Bros. Scott, Bently & Raines, all officiating at the constituting of the Church.  In the month of October following, as my memory tells me, he [was?] set apart in due scriptural form to the work of the ministry by prayer and the imposition of hands, by Bros. Scott and Bentley.

It was at the Association in Warren, in Aug. 1828, that he was called out as a traveling preacher, to accompany Bro. Scott.  It came about in this way: Bro. Scott had him, at the instance of Bro. A. Campbell, appointed by the Association in N. Lisbon an evangelist to travel within the bounds of the Association.  At Warren the question came up of his reappointment; and with it, the question restricting his field of labor to the Associations territory.  After ‘much speaking’, Bro. Scott arose and with a smile that broke off some controversial points, said, ‘Give me my bible, my head, and Bro. William Hayden, and we will go forth to convert sinners.’  Sydney Rigdon immediately arose and moved [‘]that we give Bro. Scott his bible, his head and Bro. Wm. Hayden!’ which motion passed ‘Men Con.’  In a month William was in the field as Scott’s associate.”  (undated manuscript, Amos Hayden to Robert Richardson; Robert Richardson Papers, 1806-1876; Campbell Archives, Bethany, WV; original)

1829:  Mar.:  No mention of present or future “ordination.”

“Altogether, this revelation [D&C 5] was a remarkably sophisticated document.  [Martin] Harris was given to understand that he would be permitted to view the plates only if he were not under transgression, so that it was his own fault if thereafter he should not succeed in his object.  On the other hand, if he did see the plates, he was forbidden to say anything about them except that he had seen the plates and they had been shown him by the power of God.  In either event, he was not to heckle Joseph further, the seer being authorized to cease work entirely if Harris did not behave himself.

But there was much more that was remarkable about this revelation.  It did not contain any of the resounding intimations of things to come with which Joseph later inflated it.  It did not tell Joseph that hereafter he should be ordained and go forth and deliver God’s words unto the children of men.  It did not tell him that the three witnesses should be ‘called and ordained,’ nor say that ‘from heaven’ God would declare unto these witnesses the truth of ‘these things.’  It did not assert that ‘this [was] the beginning of the rising up and the coming forth of my Church out of the wilderness–clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.’  Joseph was not told that he must wait yet a little while, being as yet unordained.  All this and much else Joseph wrote into the revelation later, when he had become a prophet whom it was seemly the Lord God should have given some prevision of the future.  But this, at least, the Lord did say to Joseph that March day in 1829, and out of it a church was formed:

If the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envyings, and strifes, and idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old.

And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto satan, for he reigneth and hath much power at this time, for he hath got great hold upon the hearts of the people of this generation: and not far from the iniquities of Sodom and Gomorrah, do they come at this time: . . . Behold I tell you these things even as I also told the people of the destruction of Jerusalem, and my word shall be verified at this time as it hath hitherto been verified.”

(Dale Morgan, unfinished history of Mormonism, in John Philip Walker, ed., Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism, pp. 294-295)

5 Apr.:  First contact between Joseph and Oliver?

“Near this time of the setting of the sun, sabbath evening, April 5th, 1829, my natural eyes for the first time beheld this brother.  He then resided in Harmony, Susquehanna county, Penn.  On Monday, the 6th, I assisted him in arranging some business of a temporal nature, and on Tuesday, the 7th, commenced to write the book of Mormon.”  (Oliver Cowdery letter to W. W. Phelphs, 7 Sep., 1834; in MS 3(9):153, Jan., 1843)

15 Apr.:  First contact between Joseph and Oliver?

“On the 15th day of April, 1829, Oliver Cowdery came to my house, until which time I had never seen him.”  (History of Joseph Smith, MS 3(8):132, Dec., 1842)

15 May:  Conferral of Aaronic Priesthood.

“A History of the life of Joseph Smith, Jr.

An account of his marvelous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist the Son of the Living God of whom he beareth record.  Also an account of the rise of the Church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brought forth and established by his hand.  Firstly, he receiving the testamony from on high.  Seccondly, the ministering of Angels.  Thirdly, the reception of the Holy Priesthood by the ministring of Angels to admin[i]ster the letter of the Gospel the Law and commandments as they were given unto him and the ordinances.  Fo[u]rthly, a confirmation and reception of the High Priesthood after the Holy Order of the Son of the Living God [with] power and ordinence[s] from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit, the Kees of the Kingdom of God confered upon him and the continuation of the blessings of God to him &c.”  (Joseph Smith 1832 history; underlined portion in Joseph’s hand, the remainder in Frederick G. William’s; Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, pp. 3-4)  [Dean Jessee dates the account between 20 Jul. and 27 Nov., 1832.]

“Because God called upon his son Joseph, and ordained him to this power, and delivered to him the keys of the kingdom, that is, of authority and spiritual blessings upon the church, and through him the Lord revealed his will to the Church:  He was ministered unto by the angel, and by his direction, he obtained the records of the Nephites, and translated by the gift and power of God:  He was ordained by the angel John, unto the lesser or Aaronic priesthood, in company with myself, in the town of Harmony, Susquehannah county, Pennsylvania, on Friday the 15th day of May, 1829:  after which we repaired to the water, even to the Susquehannah river, and were baptized: he first ministering unto me, and after, I to him.  But before baptism our souls were drawn out in mighty prayer, to know how we might obtain the blessings of baptism and of the Holy Spirit according to the order of God, and we diligently sought for the right of the fathers and the authority of the holy Priesthood, and the power to administer in the same; for we desired to be, followers of righteousness and the possessors of greater knowledge, even the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God.  Therefore we repaired to the woods, even as our father Joseph said we should, that is, to the bush, and called upon the name of the Lord, and he answered us out of the heavens: and while we were in the heavenly vision the angel came down and bestowed upon us this priesthood: and then, as I have said, we repaired to the water and were baptized.  After this we received the high and holy priesthood: but an account of this will be given elsewhere, or in another place.”  (Oliver Cowdery, Patriarchal Blessing Book, vol. 1, Sep., 1835, LDS Archives.  In Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 22-23, and Collier, Unpublished Revelations, p. 64)

“I was present with Joseph when an holy angle from god came down from heaven and confered, or restored the Aronic priesthood.  And Said at the Same time that it Should remain upon the earth while the earth Stands.  I was also present with Joseph when the Melchesideck priesthood was confered by the holy angles of god.–which we then confirmed on each other by the will and commandment of god.  This priesthood is also to remain upon the earth untill the Last remnant of time.  This holy priesthood we confered upon many.  And is just as good and valid as if god had confered it in person.”  (Oliver Cowdery, quoted in 1848 entry in Reuben Miller diary, LDS Archives.  In Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 23)

“He [Joseph Smith] says the changes were made in June 1832, which is not true.  He says again, ‘A stream cannot rise above its fountain.’  That’s true.  And in order to have Joseph and Oliver ordained legally he must have an Angel do it.  An Angel never ordained a man to any ministerial office since the world began.  Then say you how did Joseph and Oliver get authority to start?  I answer, that a revelation from the Lord gives a man both power and authority to do what ever it commands.  The Lord commanded Joseph to baptize, confirm, and ordain Oliver, then Oliver to do the same for him.  This was legal and valid.  Samuel anointed Saul & David kings.  That was legal, altho Sam was no king himself.  You say, ‘either accept the whole history, or throw it all away.’  No Sir, I will sift it and receive truth, but reject error.”  (William McLellin to M. H. Forscutt, Oct., 1870.  Original in RLDS Archives, P19/F36) 

“After writing the account given of the Savior’s ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent, it was easily to be seen, as the prophet said would be, that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people.  On reflecting further, it was as easily to be seen, that amid the great strife and noise concerning religion, none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the gospel.  For, the q[u]estion might be asked, have men authority to administer in the name of Christ, who deny revelations? when his testimony is no less than the spirit of prophecy? and his religion based, built, and sustained by immediate revelations in all ages of the world, when he has had a people on earth?  If these facts were buried, and carefully concealed by men whose craft would have been in danger, if once permitted to shine in the faces of men, they were no longer to us; and we only waited for the commandment to be given, ‘Arise and be baptized.’

This was not long desired before it was realized.  The Lord, who is rich in mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon him in a fervent manner, aside from the abodes of men, condescended to manifest to us his will.  On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the vail was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the gospel of repentance!–What joy! what wonder! what amazement!  While the world were racked and distracted–while millions were grouping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld–our hears heard.  As in the ‘blaze of day;’ yes, more–above the glitter of the May Sun beam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature!  Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, ‘I am thy fellow servant,’ dispelled every fear.  We listened–we gazed–we admired!  ‘Twas the voice of the angel from glory–’twas a message from the Most High! and as we heard we rejoiced, while his love enkindled upon our souls, and we were rapt in the vision of the Almighty!  Where was room for doubt?  No where: uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk, no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!

But, dear brother think, further think for a moment, what joy filled our hearts and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hand the holy priesthood, as he said, ‘upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer this priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!’

I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage.  No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit!  Man may deceive his fellow man; deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till nought but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind!  The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel; the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me, past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior’s goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permitted to tarry, and in those mansions where perfection dwells and sin never comes, I hope to adore in that DAY which shall never cease!”  (Oliver Cowdery, M&A 1(1):15-16, Oct., 1834)

“We still continued the work of translation, when in the ensuing month, (May, eighteen hundred and twenty nine,) we one a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, as we found mentioned in the translation of the plates.  While we were thus employed, praying, and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying unto us, ‘Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion, for the remission of sins, and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.’  He said this Aaronic priesthood had not the power of laying on of hands, for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter, and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and afterwards that he should baptize me.

Accordingly we went and were baptized, I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me, after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same priesthood, for so we were commanded. 

The messenger who visited us on this occasion, and conferred this priesthood upon us said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist, in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of the priesthood of Melchisedeck, which priesthood he said should in due time be conferred on us–and that I should be called the first elder, and he the second.  It was on the fifteenth day of May, eighteen hundred and twenty nine, that we were baptized and ordained under the hand of the messenger.

Immediately upon our coming up out of the water, after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our heavenly father.  No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery than the Holy Ghost fell upon him and he stood up and prophecied many things which should shortly come to pass:  And again so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up I prophesied concerning the rise of the church, and many other things connected with the church, and this generation of the children of men.  We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.”  (History of Joseph Smith, T&S 3(19):865-866, 1 Aug., 1842)

“Soon after this Book [of Mormon] was discovered, the Lord sent His angel with the Holy priesthood, which was conferred upon Mr. Smith, and O. Cowdery who as a scribe assisted in the work of translation: they immediately baptized each other, and also others that believed the work.  On the sixth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty, the church, which then consisted of but six members, was organized.  Some of these were ordained to the ministry, who immediately commenced proclaiming the fulness of the everlasting gospel, baptizing, and organizing branches of the church.  Indeed, the work commenced to spread rapidly, and has continued to do so ever since, and thousands have been gathered into the fold of Christ, not only in the United States; but in the Canadas, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and elsewhere.

As soon as the church was organized as above, the Lord began to bestow His Holy Spirit upon the faithful; and some were blessed with the ministry of angels, others had heavenly visions, the sick were healed, and evil spirits cast out by faith in the name of Christ.  Indeed, the Lord has not only restored the priesthood; but the gifts of the Spirit, and blessings of the gospel of peace.”  (Benjamin Winchester, A History of the Priesthood . . ., 1843; p. 147)

“As soon after Oliver was introduced to him he informed what his business was.  They sat down and conversed together untill late bed time and Joseph told Oliver his entire history as far as it was necessary for his information in those things which concerned him.  They were soon deeply engaged in the work of writing and translation and progressed rapidly.  one morning however they sat down to their usual work when the first thing that presented itself to Joseph was a commandment from God that he and Oliver should repair to the water & each of them be baptized they immediately went down to the susquehana river and obeyed the mandate given them through the urim and Thumim as they were on their return to the house they overheard Samuel in a secluded spot engaged in secret prayer.  They had now received authority to baptize and Joseph said that he considered it a sufficient testimony of Samuel’s honesty of heart and zeal for religion that they had found him privately bowing before the Lord in prayer that for himself he thought it was an evidence reddiness for baptism.  Oliver was of the same opinion and they spoke to Samuel who went with them straightway to the water and was baptized.  After this they again went on with the translation as before.  Samuel remained with his brother untill July or August he then went back to the state of New York and brought us news of their success and prosperity.”  (Lucy Mack Smith manuscript, p. 101)

“Q. Can you tell why that Joseph and Oliver were ordained to the lesser Priesthood by the hand of an Angel but in receiving the Higher they ordained each other?

A. I moved Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to my fathers house in Fayette Seneca County New York, from Harmony, Penn. in the year 1829, on our way I conversed freely with them upon this great work they were bringing about, and Oliver stated to me in Josephs presence that they had baptized each other seeking by that to fulfill the command–And after our arrival at fathers sometime in June 1829. [should this be a comma?]  Joseph ordained Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder, and Oliver ordained Joseph to be an Elder in the church of Christ, and during that year Joseph both baptized and ordained me an elder in the Church of Christ.  Also, during this year the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished, And we preached preached, [sic] baptized and ordained some as Elders, and upon the Sixth day of April 1830, six Elders together with some fifty or sixty (as near as I recollect) of the members met together to effect an organization.

I never heard that an Angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood until the year 1834 5 or 6–in Ohio.  My information from Joseph and Oliver upon this matter being as I have stated, and that they were commanded so to do by revealment through Joseph.  I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver as stated and believed by some.  I regard that as an error, a misconception.”

(“Questions asked of David Whitmer at his home in Richmond Ray County Mo. Jan 14–1885.  relating to Book of Mormon, and the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS by Elder Z H. Gurley,” LDS Archives, Ms d 4681; xerox)

“In the year 1829, Mr. Smith and Mr. Cowdery, having learned the correct mode of baptism, fro the teaching of the Saviour to the ancient Nephites, as recorded in the ‘Book of Mormon,’ had a desire to be baptized, but knowing that no one had authority to administer that sacred ordinance in any denomination, they were at a loss to know how the authority was to be restored, and while calling upon the Lord with a desire to be informed on the subject, a holy angel appeared and stood before them, and laid his hands upon their heads, and ordained them, and commanded them to baptize each other, which they accordingly did.”  (Orson Pratt, Account of Several Remarkable Visions, p. 23; in Backman, Eye-witness Accounts of the Restoration, p. 112)

[Backman cites the following additional references to AP restoration:  JD 12:362; 19:152; 22:305; 23:32; 24:342-43; 25:207; 26:106-107; The Prophet (New York), March 8, 1845, p. 3; and Western Standard 28 Jun., 1856, p. 1.]

Jun.:  Ordain priests and teachers (not deacons).

“And now I speak unto the twelve:  Behold my grace is sufficient for you: you must walk uprightly before me and sin not.  And behold you are they who are ordained of me to ordain priests and teachers to declare my gospel, according to the power of the Holy Ghost which is in you, and according to the callings and gifts of God unto men: and I Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, have spoken it.”  (Revelation of June, 1829, reprinted in M&A 2(1):204, Oct., 1834) 

Jun.:  Traditional account of Melchizedek Priesthood.

[Backman cites the following additional accounts of MP restoration:  JD 4:1, 16-18, 275; 12:359; 13:48, 325; 16:294; 19:152; 20:144-45; 23:32; 25:178, 207, 292; The Prophet (New York), 8 Mar., 1845, p. 3; and Western Standard 28 Jun., 1856, p. 1.]

“We now became anxious to have that promise realized to us, which the angel that conferred upon us the Aaronic Priesthood had given us, viz: that provided we continued faithful; we should also have the Melchesidec Priesthood, which holds the authority of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.  We had for some time made this matter a subject of humble prayer, and at length we got together in the chamber of Mr. Whitmer’s house in order more particularly to seek of the Lord what we now so earnestly desired: and here to our unspeakable satisfaction did we realize the truth of the Saviour’s promise; ‘Ask, and you shall receive, seek, and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you;’ for we had not long been engaged in solemn and fervent prayer, when the word of the Lord came unto us in the chamber, commanding us; that I should ordain Oliver Cowdery to be an elder in the church of Jesus Christ, and that he also should ordain me to the same office, and then to ordain others as it should be made known unto us, from time to time: we were however commanded to defer this our ordination until, such times, as it should be practicable to have our brethren, who had been and who should be baptized, assembled together, when we must have their sanction to our thus proceeding to ordain each other, and have them decide by vote whether they were willing to accept us as spiritual teachers, or not, when also we were commanded to bless bread and break it with them, and to take wine, bless it, and drink it with them, afterward proceed to ordain each other according to commandment, then call out such men as the spirit should dictate, and ordain them, and then attend to the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, upon all those whom we had previously baptized; doing all things in the name of the Lord.

The following commandment will further illustrate the nature of our calling to this Priesthood as well as that of others who were yet to be sought after.

[Quotes D&C 18]

In this manner did the Lord continue to give us instructions from time to time, concerning the duties which now devolved upon us, and among many other things of the kind, we obtained of him the following, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation; which not only gave us much information, but also pointed out to us the precise day upon which, according to his will and commandment, we should proceed to organize his church once again, here upon the earth.

[Quotes D&C 20]”  (History of Joseph Smith, T&S 3(22):915, 3(23):928-929; 15 Sep., 1 Oct., 1842; reprinted in MS 4(7):99-100, Nov., 1843) 

“And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry:  and of the same things which I revealed unto them: unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things both which are in heaven and which are on earth: and also with all those whom my father hath given me out of the world: wherefore lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all ye may be able to stand.”  (“Revelation given at Harmony, Penn. Aug. 1830,” in “History of Joseph Smith,” T&S 4(8):118, 1 Mar., 1843)

“Commenting on the statement in Joseph Smith’s history regarding the desire of Joseph and Oliver to have the Melchizedek Priesthood conferred upon them, B. H. Roberts wrote that this reference ‘is to be regarded as instruction to them as to how they should proceed in the matter of ordaining each other, and calling and ordaining others to the same ministry, after they themselves should have received the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The ordination of each other to be Elders of the Church was deferred until the meeting at which the Church was organized, the 6th of April, 1830. . . . [One] evidence of this [interpretation] is in the fact that the revelation in Whitmer’s chamber about ordaining each other “Elders in the Church,” precedes [another] . . . revelation [which was also received in June] . . . making known the calling of the Twelve Apostles.  Meantime, as we have seen . . . probably before that very month of June, 1829, had expired, Peter, James and John had come and conferred upon Joseph and Oliver the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the holy apostleship, by which authority they were authorized to organize the Church, ordain each other Elders, and also call and ordain others to the same office.’  (HC 1:60-61.)”  (Bachman, Eye-witness Accounts of the Restoration, p. 122)

27 Jun.:  Restoration of Melchizedek Priesthood?

The Wilford C. Wood Collection

Volume I

An annotated catalog of documentary-type materials in the Wilford C. Wood Collection.

by LaMar C. Berrett

Published by the Wilford C. Wood Foundation

Printed by the Brigham Young University Printing Service

September 1972

1-H-a-13: Letter from Wilford C. Wood to President George Albert Smith; Woods Cross, Utah, July 1, 1948.  A long letter concerning the purchse of the Isaac Hale property at Harmony, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.  In the letter Wilford indicates he had found a map that located the temple site at Harmony, Pennsylvania.  He also tells of placing a sign where the Aaronic Priesthood was restored.  Typed.  3 pp.

1-H-a-32: Letter from Earl T. Kingsbury to George Q. Morris; Jackson, Pennsylvania, February 10, 1955; concerning the Aaronic Priesthood property at Harmony, Pennsylvania.  Also mentioned was a foundation of the first Mormon temple, three miles north of Oakland.  Typed and handwritten.  1 p.

1-H-a-35: Letter from Wilford C. Wood to President David O. McKay; Woods Cross, Utah, January 12, 1963; concerning a report on the Melchizedek Priesthood property.  Also included is the ordination prayer of Peter, James, and John.

1-H-a-36: Letter from Robert R. McKay to Wilford C. Wood; Salt Lake City, Utah, January 30, 1963; concerning the leather bound report delivered to President David O. McKay on the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Typed.  1 p.

1-H-a-38: Letters between Wilford C. Wood and Omer Dean Nelson, Tucson, Arizona; May 11, August 2, 1963; concerning the site of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Oakland Temple site.  Typed.  1 p.

1-H-a-39: Letters between Wilford C. Wood, Woods Cross, Utah; and M. D. O’Malley, attorney at law, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania; between September 23, Octber 7, 1963.  The letters are concerned with the R. D. Parks property at Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.  There is also a statement that the Parks property bordered the Harold McKinney property, which contained the foundation of the first Mormon temple.  According to Wilford, this is where Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood, June 27, 1829.  Also included is the ordination prayer given by Peter, James, and John.  Also included is a letter between Wilford and Robert D. Parks, October, 1963.

1-H-a-43: Letter from Wilford C. Wood to President David O. McKay; Salt Lake City, Utah, January 30, 1964; concerning property at Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, and restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Typed.  2 pp.

1-H-a-44: Letter from Wilford C. Wood to President David O. McKay; Salt Lake City, Utah, February 10, 1964; concerning the publication of the ordination prayer of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  It also concerns the placing of Elder Quinney at the John Johnson home in Hiram, Ohio.  Typed.  2 pp.

1-H-a-48: Three letters between Wilford C. Wood and George Albert Smith Jr.; January 12, 21, 27, 1965; concerning Wilford’s purchase of the Prophet’s home at Kirtland and the property in Susquehanna where Wilford said the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored.  Wilford wanted Brother Smith to meet him at Susquehanna or Kirtland, to which Brother Smith replied he could not do so at the present time.  Typed.  1 p. each.

1-H-b-3: Melchizedek Priesthood ordination prayer.  Handwritten and typed.

1-H-b-4: Ordination prayer of the Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Typed.

1-H-b-14: An account by Oliver Cowdery, September, 1835, of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.

1-H-b-34: Copy of a report made to President David O. McKay in 1963 concerning the Melchizedek Priesthood properties and the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Letters, deeds, and photographs.

1-H-k-3: Pictures concerning the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

1-H-k-11: Melchizedek Priesthood restoration prayer, method of ordination, etc.

1-H-o-5: Notes concerning the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  4 pp.

1-H-o-6: Statement by Wilford C. Wood concerning the Melchizedek Priesthood restoration and date.

1-H-o-7: Ordination prayer by Peter, James, and John upon the heads of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, as written down by Wilford C. Wood.

1-H-o-13: Signed statement by Wilford C. Wood.  The statement indicates the following:

1. Peter, James, and John appeared to Wilford on September 3, 1960, and gave him the words to the prayer or ordination used in restoring the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The words of the prayer are part of the statement.

2. Joseph Smith appeared to Wilford on September 3, 1960.  He called Wilford by name and said:

Wilford, little did I know that 15 years later, on this very day, (day of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood) I should be killed at Carthage Jail.

From this statement of Joseph Smith, Wilford concluded that the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored on June 27, 1829.

1-H-o-14: Handwritten statement of Wilford C. Wood.  The statement concerns the appearance of Peter, James, and John to Wilford on September 3, 1960.

1-H-p-17: Tape by Wilford C. Wood of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, September 3, 1960.  Melchizedek Priesthood property recording for President David O. McKay; Peter, James, and John deliver the revelation.  (No. 17)

1-H-p-28: Tape by Wilford C. Wood of Melchizedek Priesthood No. 1, May, 1963.  Report to President David O. McKay.  No. 1.  (No. 28)

1-H-p-29: Tape by Wilford C. Wood of Melchizedek Priesthood No. 2, May, 1963.  Report to President David O. McKay.  No. 2.  (No. 29)

1-H-p-30: Tape by Wilford C. Wood of Melchizedek Priesthood, May, 1963.  Report to President David O. McKay.  (No. 30)

1-H-p-34: Tape by Wilford C. Wood of Melchizedek Priesthood restoration, May 11, 1963.  (No. 34)

1-H-p-38: Tape by Wilford C. Wood of Harmony, Pennsylvania, July 28, 1964.  Report on the priesthood and how it was given.  (No. 38)

1-H-p-39: Tape by Wilford C. Wood of Melchizedek Priesthood restoration, December 23, 1964.  (No. 39)

1-H-p-48: Tape by Wilford C. Wood of priesthood report, May 28, 1967.  (No. 48)

1-H-p-72: Tape by Wilford C. Wood of Melchizedek Priesthood property.  May 10 and 11, 1963.  Filed in inner-sanctum.

7-C-a-4: Letter from Wilford C. Wood to President David O. McKay; Woods Cross, Utah, September 9, 1951; concerning a dream which Wilford had about he and President McKay and Wilford’s call to “Feed the sheep.”  In the dream the Prophet Joseph Smith showed him the priesthood quorum organization and function.  Handwritten.  5 pp.

Jun.:  Ordination of David Whitmer to Elder.

“Soon after arriving at his father’s, David was baptized in Seneca Lake.  This was about the middle of June, and shortly thereafter he was ordained an Elder, he being the third in the Church, as he claims, to receive this ordination.”  (Edward Stevenson, “A Visit to David Whitmer,” JI 22(4):55, 15 Feb., 1887)

Jun.:  Whitmer and Cowdery to choose 12.

“In June, 1829, Joseph received a revelation [D&C 18] that not only declared that Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer had received the same calling as that of the ancient apostle Paul, but also commissioned these men to select the original Twelve Apostles in this dispensation.”  (Backman, The Heavens Resound, p. 248; note that the earliest known version of this revelation is in the 1833 Book of Commandments)

Articles of the Church of Christ.

“A commandment from God unto Oliver how he should build up his church & the manner thereof–

Saying Oliver listen to the voice of Christ your Lord & your God & your Redeemer & write the words which I shall command you concerning my Church my Gospel my Rock & my Salvation.  Behold the world is ripening in iniquity & it must needs be that the children of men are stirred up unto repentance both the Gentiles & also the House of Israel for behold I command all men every where to repent & I speak unto you even as unto Paul mine apostle for ye are called even with that same calling with which he was called [Section 18:9]  Now therefore whosoever repenteth & humbleth himself before me & desireth to be baptized in my name shall ye baptize them  And after this manner did he command me that I should baptize them  Behold ye shall go down & stand in the water & in my name shall ye baptize them  And now behold these are the words which ye shall say calling them by name saying Having authority given me of Jesus Christ I baptize you in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Ghost Amen  And then shall ye immerse them in the water & come forth again out of the water & after this manner shall ye baptize in my name  For behold verily I say unto you that the Father & the Son & the Holy Ghost are one & I am in the Father & the Father in me & the Father & I are one.

And ye are also called to ordain Priests & Teachers according to the gifts & callings of God unto men & after this manner shall ye ordain them  Ye shall pray unto the Father in my name & then shall ye lay your hands upon them & say In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a Priest or if he be a Teacher I ordain you to be a Teacher to preach repentance & remission of sins through Jesus Christ by the endurance of faith on his name to the end Amen  And this shall be the duty of the Priest  He shall kneel down & the members of the Church shall kneel also which Church shall be called the Church of Christ & he shall pray to the Father in my name for the church & if it be so that it be built upon my Rock I will bless it  And after that ye have prayed to the Father in my name ye shall preach the truth in soberness casting out none from among you but rather invite them to come  And the church shall oft partake of bread & wine & after this manner shall ye partake of it  The elder of Priest shall minister it & after this manner shall he do he shall kneel with the church & pray to the Father in the name of Christ & then shall ye say  O God the Eternal Father we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ to bless & sanctify this bread to the souls of all thos who partake of it that they eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son & witness unto thee O God the Eternal Father that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son & always remember him & keep his comandments which he hath given them that they may always have his spirit to be with them Amen  And then shall ye take the cup & say O God the Eternal Father we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ to bless & sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it that they do in remembrance of the blood of thy Son which was shed for them that they may witness unto thee O God the Eternal Father that they do always remember him that they may have his spirit to be with them Amen  And now behold I give unto you a commandment that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh & blood unworthily when ye shall minister it for whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh & blood unworthily eateth & drinketh damnation to his soul  Therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat & drink of my flesh & blood ye shall forbid him nevertheless ye shall not cast him out from among you but ye shall minister unto him &k shall pray for him unto the Father in my name & if it so be that he repenteth & is baptized in my name then shall ye receive him & shall minister unto him of my flesh & blood but if he repenteth not he shall not be numbered among my people that he may not destroy my people  For behold I know my sheep & they are numbered nevertheless ye shall not cast him out of your Synagogues or your places of worship for unto such shall ye continue to minister for ye know not but what they will return & repent & come unto me with full purpose of heart & I shall heal them & ye shall be the means of bringing Salvation unto them  Therefore keep these sayings which I have commanded you that ye come not under condemnation for wo unto him whom the Father condemneth–. . .

Written in the year of our Lord & Saviour 1829==A true Copy of the articles of the Church of Christ O.C. [Oliver Cowdery]”  (Oliver Cowdery, “Articles of the Church of Christ, located in the HDC.  Quoted in Robert John Woodford, The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants, BYU Doctoral Dissertation, 1974, Vol. I:287-290)  [Note that Deacons are not mentioned here, nor are they mentioned in the revelations of 2 Jan., :1831 nor 9 Feb., 1831.  D&C 20 does refer to them, and to Bishops, but according to Woodford, the earliest dated text of D&C 20 is 12 Jan., 1832, whereas the earliest dated text of D&C 42 (the revelation of 2 Jan., 1831) is possibly 23 May, 1831.  This would pre-date the text of D&C 20 and also the institution of the High Priesthood in June, 1831.  So, when did Deacons, and Bishops, get added to the list?]

McLellin on Priesthood.

“The two Preisthoods–whis is the boast of that church–never, no never should have been instituted there.  The Aaronic or Levitical priesthood was instituted, consecrated, & organized to administer the ‘fiery law of Moses’–and for that alone.  When that law was fulfilled and abrogated the priesthood went with it–it was entirely set aside also.  No Levitical priest has ever held legal authority on earth since the ascent of Christ, and the decent of the Holy Spirit.  The New Testament, or book of Mormon knows not an Aaronic priest after that date–Please examine.  There is no law prescribing the calling, or duties of a Levitical priest outside of Moses rituel.  So surely then as one should live, his duty would require him to administer the Law.

The Law, with its accompanyments, was a ‘shadow of things to come’–viz. the Gospel dispensation.  Under the Law but one High Preist could legally exist at the same time.  So if that was a shadow or type, then the substance and anti-type the Gospel dispensation can have but One High Priest–Christ Jesus!  As this office changed from father to Son–‘by reason of death’–But Christ ‘ever lives to make intercession for his people–Hence no change from him to another.  The high, or royal priesthood is the priesthood of the gospel age, and Christ is its only High Priest.  The highest office in it for man on earth now or in the Apostolic age is the Apostleship.  Christ set in his church ‘First, Apostles.’ &c.–and so on to the deacons.

I have in my possession (in manuscript) a copy of the Articles and Covenants of the church given in June 1830–and drawn from their imprinted bok of revelations during the year 1831.  I also have a copy of the book of Commandments–as far as printed in Jackson Co. Mo. in 1832.–but which was afterward altered and printed in the book of Doctrine & Covenants.  In it (as at first given) there is no mention of High Priests or of Lesser Priests.  Hence I am no believer in High Priests, or Levitical Priests either in this age or dispensation.  High Priests were first ordained at the June Conference, in Kirtland, in 1831, after S. Rigdon had joined the church.  Your Father presided in that assembly.  During the winter following they got up the idea of Priests being of the Livitical order.  All this was contrary to the New Testament, the book of Mormon, & the first Articles of the Church, hence all wrong!”  (William E. McLellin letter to Joseph Smith III, 10 Jan., 1861.  Original in RLDS Archives.)

“Now with all the close investigations I have been able to make I have not been able to change my views about Pristhood  I know that two priesthoods cannot exist legally in the ‘church of Christ.’  All L. D. S.ism claimes them.  And while they are under them they cant avoid running wrong. . . .

The truth says ‘old things are all done away, and behold all things are become new.’  Then to talk about the law of Moses, or the Aaronic priesthood either remaining in force is simply nonsense.  And there has been no hereditary rights since these ‘old [paper torn] were all done away!!  All priestly authority in the gospel age comes by direct faith in God, but not in consequence of pedigree, lineage, or birthright in any sense.”  (William McLellin to “My dear old friends,” 21 Oct., 1870.  RLDS Archives, P13/F198)      

“But now as to the two priesthoods claimed by the church.  How an intelligent man can hold them as the L.D.S. do, with the plainness of the books before him I cant see.  Such a word as priesthood is not used in the book of M. in its Gospel history.  The word is not found but twice in the New Testament outside of the 7th of Hebrews.  The words minister, ministers, or ministering is usually used in the inspired books instead of priesthood.  It is an impossibility for a High Priest to exist legally in the ‘Church of Christ’ in the gospel dispensation, except Christ only.  But one High Priest could exist under the law era at one time.  Christ is anti-type to that one, or to Aaron.  He and he alone is now High Priest.  But as to the story of John, the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver on the day they were baptized:  I never heard of it in the church for years, altho I carefully noticed things that were said.  And today I do not believe the story.  Now why?  The law with its ministry was only a ‘shadow of things to come.’  When the substance came the ‘shadow,’ was done away.  There is not a word said in both the books the N.T. and book of M. about Aaronic, or Levitical, or Lesser priests as existing in the Gospel age.  All the testimony must be drawn from the Book of D. and C.  But three orders of ministry existed under the law.  It was a shadow.  Now there must have been a substance that made the shadow.  That substance could not have more than three orders.  Elders, Priests or Bishops, Teachers or Deacons was the substance.  But says you they had a High Priest, Elders, Priests, and Teachers in the book of M.  So the ‘church of Christ’ has a High Priest, Elders, Priests and Teachers.

I believe in a high Priesthood.  In an order of ministry.  In all the ministry mentioned in the Books.  High Priest, Elders, Bishops, and Deacons; or High Priest, Elders, Priests, and Teachers-which is the same thing.  But says you what will you do with Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastors?  I answer, an Apostle is not an administrative officer.  When they ministered they did it as Elders.  Prophets were not administrative officers either.  And Evangelists were traveling Elders merely; and Pastors were Bishops, or Priests.  In this way the book of M. and the New Testament are reconciled and harmonized.  I can see no earthly use for Lesser priests.  I can find nothing for them to do, that the ministry of the ‘church of Christ” could not do better.  I hold that Apostles, Elders, Bishops, and Deacons are all in the Melchesidick Priesthood with Jesus as the High Priest-holding different stations only.  Moses personally appointed his twelve Num 13.  Jesus personally called and ordained his twelve at Jerusalem Mark 3:14.  And he called and ordained his twelve Disciples on this continent.  Mind you Moses and Jesus personally did this work.  No man can be a true Apostle of Jesus without personally knowing him.  Those chosen were Apostles but not High Priests.  It a man is an Apostle he always acts as an Elder in administering ordinances.  An Apostle holds this station in the Priesthood.  An Elder is an Elder in the Melchesidic priesthood-and so on.  Priesthood is not an office but an order of ministry.  

An Aaronic priest’s whole duty was pointed out by the law, and when the law was abolished then the rule by which they should act, which defined their duties, was all set aside also, and hence there was nothing for them to do.  The whole order was set aside also.  All the ministers of the first-born who started from Goshen to Canaan with Moses, were all set aside when the law priesthood was established-offset by the Levites, and the remainder redeemed by paying five shekels into the treasury Num 8:18.3:47.  Then if the law priesthood was set entirely aside, we have an example of the same or similar transaction in the numbers of the first-born.  We have not a hint of the Aaronic or law priesthood’s ever acting after the Gospel ministry was instituted by Jesus Christ.  I say no hint in the New Testament after the Gospel or book of Mormon.”  (William E. McLellin to Joseph Smith III, July, 1872.  Original in RLDS Archives.)