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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1840

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1840.” You can view other years here.

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1840:    8 Jan.:  Heirs to priesthood through lineage.

“Sabath Meeting–Joseph [Smith] Read the 2 and 3d Chapters of Malichi & stated that there was a preisthood Confered upon the sons of Levi throughout the Generation of the Jews & he also said they become heirs to that preisthood By Linage or Decend & held the Keys of the first principles of the Gospel–for this–he quoted Concerning Jesus Coming to John to be Baptized of John that he (Jesus) might Enter into the Kingdom as John held the Keys, suffer it to be so now &c he also Brought up Zacharias pleading with the Lord in the temple that he might have seed so that the preisthood might be preserved.”  (William Patterson McIntire, 8 Jan., 1840; William Patterson McIntire Notebook, 1840-1845, MS 1014, fd 1, LDS Archives; Barney)

11 Feb.:  Joseph Fielding.

“11 [Feb., 1840] Tuesday. . . . Br. Bradshaw said he could tell if a man had the Holy Ghost–yet could not tell how.  He shewd him a Man might have the Gift of Wisdom, etc. and he not see it–told him he did not know what the H[oly] G[host] was.  Mr. M[atthews] asked Bro. [John] Taylor where he got his Authority.  Ans: By prophecy and laying on of hands of those who had Authority, etc.  This came by the Ministration of an holy Angel.  Bro. T[aylor] then asked where he go this.  Ans: from the Bishop of Lincoln, and that was as good as his Angel, ‘and you have no more Power than I have and if you have, let us see it.  I say if you have any Power shew it, either from Heaven or Hell, shew it.’  We said we were sent not to shew Signs but to call on all to repent.”  (Joseph Fielding, Journals, Ms 1567 (and typescript M 270.1/F 459F), Vol. 2, p. 116; LDS Archives; Barney)

6 Apr.: Are Seventies also High Priests?

“A letter was read from presidents of the seventies, wishing for an explanation of the steps, which the high council had taken, in removing Elder F. G. Bishop, from the quorum of the sev[en]ties, to that of the High Priest, without any other ordination than he had when in the seventies, and wished to know, whither, those ordained into the seventies at the same time F. G. Bishop was, had a right to the High Priesthood, or not.  After observations on the case by different individuals, the president gave a statement of the authority of the seventies, and stated that they were Elders and not High Priests, and consequently brother F. G. Bishop had no claim to that office.  It was then unanimously resolved that Elder F. G. Bishop be placed back again into the Quorum of the seventies.”  (Conference minutes of the General Conference in Nauvoo, 6 Apr., 1840, in T&S 1(6):92, Apr., 1840)

8 Apr.:  A church w/Apostles, elders, priests, teachers.

“The foregoing chapter will enable the reader to form an opinion of the state of my mind at the time that President Woodruff and Elder Kington arrived at father Bundy’s house in the afternoon of April 8th, 1840. . . .

The usual exercises to opening the meeting being performed, Elder Kington introduced his companion as an elder from America who had come to introduce to us the fulness of the gospel.  An anxious audience then listened with open ears and anxious hearts for two hours while the apostle explained the first principles of the gospel together with the manner in which it had been revealed through the ministering of angels to one Joseph Smith, through whom a church had been organized with Apostles, elders, priests and teachers, with all the gifts, healings and manifestations enjoyed by the ancient church of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, and other places in the days of the apostles whom Christ himself had ordained.”  (Diary of Job Smith, typescript in Huntington Library)

15 Apr.:  No HP, 70s in England in 1840.

“The whole Number of the Saints in England & Scotland including official members is

     Saints                        1671

     Elders                          34

     Priest                          52

     Teachers                        38

     Deacons                          8

     sum total of Official members  132″

(Wilford Woodruff diary, 15 Apr., 1840)   

17 Apr.:  First non-USA patriarch ordained.

“This day the Twelve blessed and drank a bottle of wine at Penworthan, made by Mother Moon forty years before.  Held a Council at her house in the evening, and ordained Peter Melling, Patriarch.”  (HC 4:120)

14 May:  Duties of 70s and HPs.

“I feel much pleased with the spirit of your letter–and be assured, dear brethren, of my hearty co-operation, and my prayers for your welfare and success.  In answer to your inquiry in a former letter, relative to the duty of the Seventies in regulating churches, &c., I say that the duties of the Seventies are more particularly to preach the Gospel, and build up churches, rather than regulate them, that a High Priest may take charge of them.  If a High Priest should be remiss in his duty, and should lead, or duffer the church to be led astray, depart from the ordinances of the Lord, then it is the duty of one of the Seventies, acting under the special direction of the Twelve, being duly commissioned by them with their delegated authority, to go to the church, and if agreeable to a majority of the members of said church, to proceed to regulate and put in order the same; otherwise, he can have no authority to act.”  (Joseph Smith to Orson Hyde and John E. Page, 14 May, 1840.  HC 4:129)

May:  Seventies to meet once a month.

“NOTICE.  For the benefit of the Seventies, we are requested to say that that quorum will meet on the first Sabbath in each month at 9 o’clock, until otherwise ordered.  Done by order of the quorum.”  (T&S 1(7):112, May, 1840)

6 Jul.:  Breakdown of priesthood offices in England.

“Monday, July 6th, the quorum of the Twelve, and a general Conference of the church of Christ, of Latter Day Saints, in Europe, met at the above named place [Manchester]; and we had an interesting day: there were Elders present from almost every church in England, and Scotland; there was 40 churches represented, containing 2,495 members, 59 Elders, 122 Priests, 61 Teachers, 13 Deacons, making an increase of about 824 members, 25 Elders, 70 Priests, 23 Teachers, and 5 Deacons, during the last three months; and 374 members, 9 Elders, 50 Priests, and 13 Teachers of the above number, were added in the Herefordshire churches where I have been laboring.”  (Wilford Woodruff, T&S 1(11):168, Sep., 1840)

11 Jul.:  Both parties to dispute must be present.

“President Joseph Smith jr gave as a precedent and rule for the council and ordered it to be recorded and established, That the Council should try no case without both parties being present or having had an opportunity to be present, neither should they hear one parties complaint before his case is brought up for trial, neither should they suffer the character of any one to be exposed before the Council without the person being present and ready to defend him or herself that the minds of the councellor be not prejudiced for or against any one whose case they may, possibly, have to act upon.”  (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 11 Jul., 1840; Corcoran)

18 Jul.:  Joseph asks the Church for his temporal support.

“To the Honorable the High Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Memorial of Joseph Smith Jr respectfully represents. . . .

That your Memorialist feels it a duty which he owes to God as well as to the Church to give his attention more particularly to those things connected with the spiritual welfare of the Saints (which have now become a great people) so that they may be built up in their most Holy faith and be enabled to go on to perfection.

That the Church having erected an office where he can attend to the affairs of the church without distraction, he thinks and verily believes that the time has now come when he should devote himself exclusively to those things which relate to spiritualities of the church and commence the work of translating the Egyptian Records–the Bible–and wait upon the Lord for such revelation as may be suited to the condition and circumstances of the Church, and in order to attend to those things, pray that your honorable body will relieve him from the anxiety and trouble necessarily attendant on business transactions, byi appointing some one to take charge of the City Plot and attend to the business transactions which have heretofore rested upon your Memorialist.

That should your honors deem it proper to do so, your memorialist would respectfully suggest, that he would have no means of support whatever and therefore would request that some one might be appointed to see that all his necessary wants be provided for as well as sufficient means or appropriations for a clerk or clerks which he may require to aid him in his important work.

Your Memorialist would further represent that as Elder H. G. Sherwood is conversant with the affairs of the city plot he thinks that he would be a suitable person to act as clerk in that business and attend to the disposing of the remaining lot, etc, etc.

Your Memorialist would take this opportunity of congratulating your honorable body on the peace and harmony which exists in the Church and for the good feelings which seem to be manifest by all the saints, and hopes that inasmuch as every one devotes themselves for the good of the church and the spread of the kingdom that the choicest blessing of Heaven will be poured upon us and that the glory of the Lord will overshadow the inheritances of the saints.

Joseph Smith Jr.

Nauvoo Jun 18, 1840.”

(JH 18 Jun., 1840)

Aug.:  Must candidate for baptism be totally immersed?

“Question 2nd.–In baptizing, suppose I should fail to cover the person, say his hands or his face were not covered, would this neglect be censurable on my part? and how far might I go in such neglect, and yet the ordinance be accepted of God, and the design of it be answered?

Answer.–If neglect arose through carelessness, you would be highly censurable; but if, from scarcity of water, as is sometimes the case, or from some exertion or unusual action of the candidate, or a slipping of your own foot, &c., &c., you might not be censurable.  God acts upon reasonable principles; and as the ordinance is ‘not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience,’ God would accept the offering, should such a casualty occur; but we say to all Elders and Priests, see to it that you bury those who offer themselves for baptism, and thus cut off all occasion for observations on this point.”  (“Questions and Answers,” MS 1(4):94, Aug., 1840; Questions were submitted by Joseph Fielding to the Editor, Parley P. Pratt)

Aug.:  Is there hope for those against whom we wash feet?

“Question 6th.–Ought the Elders and Priests, when their testimony is rejected, to wash their feet, &c.; and is there no hope of those against whom they wash their feet?  An idea has gone out that we consider such sealed up for destruction.  Is the washing of feet, in this way, anything more than a testimony that we are clear of their blood, when we bear testimony of it before God?

Answer.–Certainly; see the STAR, page 80, par. 16: and when the Elders and Priests have borne a faithful testimony to any city, town, village or person, and that testimony is rejected, and they have fulfilled the revelation, and borne testimony unto the father in the name of Jesus, that city, town, village, or person is in the hands of a righteous God, who will do with them according to his own pleasure; we are clear from their blood.”  (“Questions and Answers,” MS 1(4):95, Aug., 1840; Questions were submitted by Joseph Fielding to the Editor, Parley P. Pratt)

Aug.:  Would it be well to establish Sunday Schools?

“Question 10th.–Would it be well to establish Sunday Schools in the Church?

Answer.–Certainly: let the Elders gather the people together, old and young, every Sabbath day, in the streets, if no more convenient place offers, and teach them the first principles of the Gospel of Christ, viz.:–faith, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, for the first lesson; eating and drinking at the table of the Lord, laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment, for the second lesson; and, for the third lesson, let parents teach their children obedience, and train them in the way they should go; and, finally, let the Elders, Brothers and Sisters, all with one accord, teach their friends, neighbours, and all within their reach, those principles which will make them virtuous and wise unto salvation, and practise what they preach on the Sabbath and six other days in each week, even unto the end, and they will find it a very profitable school, and receive a glorious reward for their labours.”  (“Questions and Answers,” MS 1(4):95-96, Aug., 1840; Questions were submitted by Joseph Fielding to the Editor, Parley P. Pratt)

Aug.:  No officer should resign without cause.

“Question 12th.–Why cannot an officer in the Church retain his standing as a member, if he gives up his office?

Answer.–No officer in the Church of Christ will resign his office without cause; and, when the cause is searched out, it will be found, that sloth, covetousness, or some such like principle of sin or transgression, is at the foundation of his resignation, and the Church of Jesus Christ is no place for sloth, covetousness, or transgression of any kind.  He that receiveth the priesthood receiveth the Lord Jesus, and he that putteth away the priesthood putteth away the Lord, and the only means by which he could enter into covenant with him; and, consequently, is not a fit companion for the children of the kingdom.  Where there is no law there is no transgression; and where a law has not been understood, for want of information on the principles thereof, there is no guilt.”  (“Questions and Answers,” MS 1(4):96, Aug., 1840; Questions were submitted by Joseph Fielding to the Editor, Parley P. Pratt)

8 Aug.:  Expelled until he makes satisfactory confession.

The High Council met to consider the case against Elder Moses Martin ‘for reporting certain slanderous reports against Elder S. Brunson and A Lyman and others stating that a gang of Gadianton robers were in the Church and countenanced together with certain slanderous and unchristian-like expressions insinuations &c. derogatory to the character of certain brethren. . . . The charge was sustained after which it was decided that he should stand expelled from the Church untill he should make a satisfactory confession.  After which he made a satisfactory confession and was again received into fellowship.”  (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 8 Aug., 1840; Corcoran)

22 Aug.:  Expelled for persisting in their course.

“A Charge was prefered against Brs Ourbourgh & Waggoner for grossly slandering the Presidency of this Church and evil speaking against this church having laboured with them and yet they repent not neither turn from their evil . . . The charge was confessed on the part of the accused and they, persisting in their course, were expelled from the Church.”  (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 22 Aug., 1840; Corcoran)

5 Sep.:  Decisions made by 12 in England. 

“Their distance from Nauvoo and the slow means of communication forced the Twelve in England to make administrative decisions that had been previously reserved to the First Presidency.”  (Dean Jessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, p. 479)

5 Oct.:  Two priesthoods.

“In order to investigate the subject of the Priesthood so important to this as well as every succeeding generation, I shall proceed to trace the subject as far as I possibly can from the Old and new Testament.

There are two Priesthoods spoken of in the Scriptures, viz the Melchisadeck and the Aaronic or Levitical Altho there are two Priesthoods, yet the Melchisadeck Priesthood comprehends the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood and is the Grand head, and holds the highest Authority which pertains to the Priesthood the keys of the Kingdom of God in all ages of the world to the latest posterity on the earth and is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation and every important matter is revealed from heaven.  Its institution was prior to ‘the foundation of this earth or the morning stars sang together or the Sons of God shouted for joy,’ and is the highest and holiest Priesthood and is after the order of the Son [of] God, and all other Priesthoods are only parts, ramifications, powers and blessings belonging to the same and are held controlled and directed by it.  It is the channel through which the Almighty commenced revealing his glory at the beginning of the creation of this earth and through which he has continued to reveal himself to the children of men to the present time and through which he will make known his purposes to the end of time–Commencing with Adam who was the first man who is spoken of in Daniel as being the ‘Antient of days’ or in other words the first and oldest of all, the great grand progenitor of whom it is said in another place he is Michael because he was the first to hold the spiritual blessings, to whom was made known the plan of ordinances for the Salvation of his posterity unto the end, and to whom Christ was first revealed, and through whom Christ has been revealed from heaven and will continue to be revealed from henceforth. . . .

This then is the nature of the priesthood, every man holding the presidency and authority from Christ, but cannot receive a fulness, untill Christ shall present. the kingdom to the Father which shall be at the end of the last dispensation.  The power, glory, and blessings of the priesthood could not continue with those who received ordination only as their righteousness continued, for Cain also being authorized to offer sacrifice but not offering it in righteousness, therefore he was cursed.  It signifies then, that the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed, otherwise their priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing. . . 

Now the doctrine of translation is a power which belongs to this priesthood, there are many things which belong to the powers of the priesthood and the keys thereof that have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world.  they are hid from the wise and prudent to be revealed in the last times many may have supposed that that doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God and into an Eternal fulness but this is a mistaken idea.  There place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order and a place prepared for such characters, he held in reserve to be ministring angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fulness as those who are resurrected from the dead. . . .

The next great grand patriarch who held the Keys of the priesthood was Lamech  See Gen 5 Chap 28 & 29 verses–And Lamech lived 182 years and begat a Son and he called his name Noah saying this same shall comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands because of the ground which the Lord has curst.  ‘The priesthod continued from Lamech to Noah Gen 6 Chap 13 verse.  And God said unto Noah the end of all flesh is before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them, and behold I will destroy them with the earth,’ thus we behold the Keys of this priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that he talked with him in a familiar and friendly manner, that he continued to him the Keys, the Covenants, the power and the glory with which he blessed Adam at the beginning and the offring of Sacrifice which also shall be continued at the last time, for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the priesthood under the direction and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation.  Therefore all things had under the Authority of the Priesthood at any former period shall be had again–bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets.  then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord Se[e] Malichi 3 Chap. 3 & 4  And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of Silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord

It will be necessary here to make a few observations on the doctrine, set forth in the above quotation, As it is generally supposed that Sacrifice was entirely done away when the great sacrife was offered up–and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of Sacrifice in future, but those who assert this, are certainly not aquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the priesthood, or with the prophets  The offering of Sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the priesthood.  It began with the prieshood and will be continued untill after the coming of Christ from generation to generation–We freequently have mention made of the offering of Sacrifice by the servants of the most high in antient days prior to the law of moses, See which ordinances will be continued when the priesthood is restored with all its authority power and blessings.  Elijah was the last prophet that held the keys of this priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and delive[r] the Keys of this priesthood in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness.

It is true that the Savior had authoritity and power to bestow this blessing but the Sons of Levi were too predjudi[ced]

And I will send Elijah the Prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord &c &c.

Why send Elijah because he holds the Keys of the Authority to administer in all the ordinances of the priesthood and without the authority is given the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.

It is a very prevalent opinion that the sacrifices which were offered were entirely consumed, this was not the case if you read Leviticus [2] Chap [2-3] verses you will observe that the priests took a part as a memorial and offered it up before the Lord, while the remainder was kept for the maintenance of the priests.  So that the offerings and sacrifices are not all consumed upon the Alter, but the blood is sprinkled and the fat and certain other portions are consumed  These sacrifices as well as every ordinance belonging to the priesthood will when the temple of the Lord shall be built and the Sons Levi be purified be fully restored and attended to then all their powers ramifications ramifications [sic] and blessings–this ever was and will exist when the powers of the Melchisid Priesthood are sufficiently manifest.  Else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by all the Holy Prophets be brought to pass  It is not to be understood that, the law of moses will be established again with all it rights and variety of ceremonies, this had never been spoken off by the prophets but those things which existed prior Mose’s day viz Sacrifice will be continued–It may be asked by some what necessity for Sacrifice since the great Sacrifice was offered?  In answer to which if Repentance Baptism and faith existed prior to the days of Christ what necessity for them since that time–

The priesthood has descended in a regular line from Father to Son through their succeeding generations.”  (Joseph Smith, 5 Oct., 1840.  Original Manuscript, apparently the only discourse Joseph ever gave from a prepared text.  See Words of JS, pp. 38-44)

“One morning, I went as usual, into the Office to go to work: I found Joseph sitting on one side of a table and Robert B. Thompson on the opposite side, and the understanding I got was that they were examining or hunting in the manuscript of the new translation of the Bible for something on Priesthood, which Joseph wished to present, or have read to the people the next Conference: Well, they could not find what they wanted and Joseph said to Thompson ‘put the manuscript one side, and take some paper and I will tell you what to write.’  Bro. Thompson took some foolscap paper that was at his elbow and made himself ready for the business.  I was seated probably 6 or 8 feet on Joseph’s left side, so that I could look almost squarely into Joseph’s left eye–I mean the side of his eye.  Well, the Spirit of God descended upon him, and a measure of it upon me, insomuch that I could fully realize that God, or the Holy Ghost, was talking through him.  I never, neither before or since, have felt as I did on that occasion.  I felt so small and humble I could have freely kissed his feet.”  (Howard Coray Manuscript #1, reprinted in BYU Studies 17(3):344, Spring, 1977)

6 Oct.:  Listing of priesthood officers in England.

“I left Herefordshire on the 26th of Sept. for Manchester; and again met with Elders Kimball, and Smith at Staffordshire Potteries, we held several meetings with the saints there and baptized 14 and returned to Manchester and held a general conference on the 6th of Oct., & heard 26 churches and conferences represented containing 3616 members, and 402 officers, viz: 81 elders 211 priests 84 teachers and 26 deacons, making an increase since 6th July of 1349 saints.”  (Wilford Woodruff, T&S 2(9):331, 1 Mar., 1841)

6 Oct.:  Restrictions on ordinations in England.

“The president brought before the conference the subject of ordinations, and after various observations thereon, it was proposed by Elder George A. Smith, that for the future, ordinations be not attended to, except by the Traveling High Council or under such restrictions as they may adopt in reference thereto.  Elder Young spoke on the subject of conferences, and also with respect of restricting ordination; and after taking into consideration the great expense attendant upon holding general conferences, and the inconvenience experienced by members attending them, suggested, that for the future, general conferences should in a great measure be done away with, or restricted to the Traveling High Council to hold conferences at such places and times as they may think proper.”  (Minutes of a General Conference in England, HC 4:215)

23 Oct.:  Stakes created with bishops, but no wards.

“The work of God, as if given new life by the fiery ordeal it had passed through, now began to spread rapidly.  Stakes were formed in various places, and, as usual, were provided with High Councils and Bishop’s Courts to administer their spiritual and temporal affairs.  As we are treating of the Aaronic Priesthood, we shall only give the names of its officers and omit the others.  Among the stakes organized were the following:

Lima Stake, on October 23, 1840, with Gardiner Snow as Bishop and Clark Hulet and Henry Dean as counsellors; Quincy Stake, on October 25th, George W. Crouse, Bishop, and Asariah Dustin and Sylvester B. Stoddard, counselors; Mt. Hope Stake, October 27th, Daniel A. Miller, Bishop, and Isaac Clark and John Allen, Counselors; Freedom Stake, same date, Simeon Leach, Bishop, and Horra Kimball and Jacob Foutz, Counselors; Geneva Stake, November 1st, Gardner Clark, Bisohp, and Moses Clare and David Orton, Counselors; Springfield Stake, November 5th, Abraham Palmer, Bishop, and Henry Stephens and Jonathan Palmer, Counselors.  William Allred is mentioned as Bishop at Pleasant Vale and William Whiteman as Bishop of Ramus.

On April 6th, 1841, the Saints in Philadephila were organized into a Stake, with Jacob Syphret as Bishop, and Jesse Prince and James Nicholson as his Counselors.  On April 15th the Saints in New York City were organized, with John M. Bernhisel as Bishop, and Richard Burge and William Acker as his Counselors.  And on May 22d the Saints remaining in Kirtland were given a Stake organization, in which Thomas Burdick was Bishop, with Hyrum Winters and Reuben McBride as his counselors.  Doubtless there were other Stakes and branches besides those, but the above will suffice to show the spread of the gospel, and the strong inpetus given to the cause of Zion by the Missouri and Ohio persecutions.”  (Orson F. Whitney, “The Aaronic Priesthood,” Contributor 6(11):404-405, Aug., 1885)

30 Oct.:  Concerning two priesthoods.

“Christ gave unto Peter ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ Matt. xvi. 18; and further tells his disciples, that ‘whatsoever they should bind on earth should be bound in heaven,’ Matt. xviii. 18.  Peter held the keys of the Melchezedec priesthood.  I need not ask the Doctor what these keys were; for he does not know.  That there was two distinct authorities in the primitive church, in regard to the administration of ordinances, is evident,–hence John the Baptist baptized, but did not lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, he said that Christ should baptize them with fire and with the Holy Ghost.  What priesthood had John?  The Aaronic.  From whence was his baptism?  From heaven: he administered to our Saviour.  Why did he continue to baptize at the same time that our Lord’s disciples did?  Because, with regard to the administering in the ordinance of baptism, this lesser priesthood shall continue good.  Why was it that Philip baptized, and could not lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost?  Because he possessed the less, and not the greater priesthood.  But some say, that the apostles alone possessed power to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost; this, however, arises from ignorance.  Annanias laid hands on Saul for the gift, and was not an apostle; and others might be mentioned.”  (“Elder J[ohn]. Taylor’s Closing Reply to Mr. Curran,” from the Manx Sun of 30 Oct., 1840; reprinted in MS 1(8):200-201, Dec., 1840)

Nov.:  Power to heal sick, cast out devils, etc.

“Among other accomplishments peculiar to those who believe in the new doctrines, they are declared to possess the power of casting out devils, of curing the sick by laying hands on them, of resisting the ooperation of the deadliest poisons, of speaking with new tongues, and of working miracles of various kinds.”  (“A New Sect,” from the Leeds Times, reprinted in MS 1(7):191, Nov., 1840)

12 Dec.:  Bishops’ Court.

“To Elias Smith bishop of the branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints in Iowa I herby prefer the following charges against elder William A Hickman.

1st For assaulting me when travelling the road on my own premises threatning to kill me and drawing an axe to put his threats into execution, but was prevented by the interposition of others

2d For profane swearing and circulating or telling falsehoods in relation to a certain piece of land.

Dec. 12th 1840

Joseph Mecham

At a Bishops Court held at Nahsville Lee County, Iowa, December 19th 1840 by Elias Smith Bishop of the branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Iowa established and organized agreeable to the Laws of said Church, a complaint was presented by Elder Joseph Mecham Jr against Elder William A Hickman, in the words following viz:

1st For assaulting me when travelling the road on my own premises, threatning to kill me, and drawing an axe to put his threats into execution, but was prevented by the interposition of others

2d For profane swearing, and circulating or telling falsehoods in relation to a certain piece of Land

The court was organised by the Bishop, Elias Smith.  Joseph B. Noble, counselor was present, and Elder Moses Martin was appointed counsellor pro tem in the place of Joseph Mecham Jr., the complainant.  After the court was organized and opened by prayer the parties not being ready for trial in consequence of the failure of witnesses to attend the court was adjourned to tuesday the 22d inst at 12 oclock in the house of Joseph Mecham sen.

The court was held pursuant to adjournment at Joseph Mecham Sen. on the 22d and after a patient hearing of the witnesses and investigation of the case the court decided that the first charge was fully sustained and the 2d mainly and that Elder Hickman must make confession for the same and should be disfellowshiped and must give up his licence if he neglects or refuses to comply with the decision which was agreed to by the councillors.  Elder Hickman then made confession to the satisfaction of the court, and the court adjourned.”

“Charges having been prefered by Elder Nathan Tanner against Morrison Mecham ‘for telling falsehood concerning a combat between Joseph Mecham jr and Wm. A. Hickman,’ Against Ephraim Mecham ‘For telling falsehood concerning a combat which took place between Joseph Mecham jr. and Wm. A. Hickman,’ and Also against Joseph Mecham ‘For telling falsehoods as may be hereafter shown for drawing an axe on William A. Hickman,’ A bishops court was held in Nashville Jany 8th 1841.  Noses Martin was called upon to sit as counsellor to the bishop protem.  After the court was opened by prayer the charges against Morrison Mecham was read and was not present to answer.  Elder Tanner presented to the court a writing purporting to be a confession of the said Morrison Mecham, who as appeared to be a boy that could neither read nor write, and was easily scared &c.

The complaint against Ephraim Mecham was then read, who plead not guilty, and said he had not been laboured with.  The court decided that no trial could come before them under such circumstances till the aggrieved had laboured with the offender.  The defendent then said he would waive all objections and come to trial.

After a patient hearing of the testimony on both sides the bishop decided the charge not sustained which was agreed by the counsellors.

The charge against Joseph Mecham was then read, who also plead not guilty and had not been laboured with, and refused to be brought to trial.  The complainant, also said he was not ready for trial, and would not take an adjournment for he objected to the decisions of the bishop, and proceeded as he had done before repeatedly in the course of the trial to censure him for erroneous proceedings in this and a previous trial, but was silenced and rebuked severely by the court.  The court then dismissed by prayer.”  (LDS Archives, Ms d 7062 fd 6)

14 Dec.:  Priests, teachers, deacons to visit every member and report back.


“On motion, Resolved, that the Priests, Teachers, and Deacons, should visit each member of the church, and enquire into their faith, and standing, and put it in writing, and make a report in three weeks’ time of the standing of each member.”  (Winchester, Benjamin, “Presiding Elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Philadelphia,” The Gospel Reflector, Minutes of Special Conference, 1(1):24, 14 Dec 1840)

14 Dec.:  Elder’s certificate.

“To Whom it may concern,

This certifies that Samuel M. Reeve has been Received into the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, organised on the sixth of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty,–and has been ordained an Elder according to the rules and regulations of the said Church, and is duly authorised to preach the gospel agreeable to the authority of said office,

Fro the satisfactory evidence which we have of his good moral character we confidently recommend him to all candid and upright people as a worthy member of Society,

We therefore in the name and authority of this Church, Grant unto this our Brother in the Lord this letter of recommendation as a proof of our fellowship and esteem.

Given by direction of a conference of Elders assembled in Philadelphia,

December 14th 1840

B. Winchester, President

J. H. Newton, Clerk.”

(P13 f 24, RLDS Archives)

Dec.:  The heavenly messenger conferred the priesthood.


“Brother B. Winchester.

Dear Sir:–…the lover of truth may be showed the way of holiness.  Little more than ten years has passed since the organization of the church of Christ in these last days; since the angel of the Lord said to our much esteemed brother J. Smith, and his faithful companion. O. Cowdery, “To you my fellow servants am I sent to confer this priesthood, that through you it may be conferred upon others.”  The morning that heavenly messenger executed this important mission, is one long to be remembered by all the saints.” (Winchester, Benjamin, “Presiding Elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Philadelphia,” The Gospel Reflector, E. Snow, 1(1):22, Dec 1840)

Orson Pratt:  Priesthood restoration narrative.

“Also, in the year 1829, Mr. Smith and Mr. Cowdery, having learned the correct mode of baptism, from the teachings 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. . . . In the foregoing we have related the most important facts concerning the visions and the ministry of the angel to Mr. Smith; the discovery of the records; their translation into the English language, and the witnesses raised up to bear testimony of the same. . . . We have also given an account of the restoration of the authority in these days, to administer in the ordinances of the gospel; and of the time of the organization of the church; and of the blessings poured out upon the same while yet in its infancy.”  (Orson Pratt, “Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions . . .,” Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Hughes, 1840, pp. 23-24; Barney)

Parley P. Pratt:  Priesthood restoration narrative.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was first organized in the State of New York, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty, on the sixth day of April.  At its first organization, it consisted of six members.  The first instruments of its organization were Joseph Smith, jun., and Oliver Cowdery, who profess to have received their authority and priesthood, or apostleship, by divine revelation from God–by the voice of God–by the ministering of angels–and by the Holy Ghost.”  (Parley P. Pratt, Late Persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints . . ., New York: J. W. Harrison, 1840; p. iii; Barney)