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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1854

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1854.” You can view other years here.

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1854:    8 Jan.:  Hunter had been Presiding AND local Bishop.

“Heber C. Kimball and Edward Hunter ordained Edwin D. Woolley to be Bishop of the 13th Ward, the duties of that office being too onerous for Presiding Bishop Edward Hunter, who had presided over that Ward since its first organization in 1849.”  (JH 8 Jan., 1854)

31 Jan.:  Beginning to ordain boys to Aaronic Priesthood.

“I attended the Bishops meeting this evening with Elder Thomas Kington.  I addressed the Bishops and had the spirit of the Lord.  We are now begining to ordain our young Sons to the lesser priesthood here in Zion.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 31 Jan., 1854)

2 Feb.:  Wilford Woodruff Jr. ordained priest at 13.

“There is one thing I will here record in my Journal which I take great pleasure in.  I united with the Bishop & his Counsel & ordained 1 Priest 2 Teachers & 2 deacons and the Priest which I ordained was my ownly son now living with me Wilford Woodruff jr.  He is 13 years old.  He is now to begin to officiate in the Priest office of the lesser Priesthood.  And I thank the LORD that I have lived to see this day when I have a son who has received the Priesthood and is recognized as such by the Church and is about to officiate in it.  I Pray the blessings of the God of Abram Isaac & Jacob may rest upon him that He may honour the Priesthood all the days of his life and do much good in bringing many souls into the Kingdom of God and always maintain the Kingdom of God with all its laws & principles which may the Lord Grant for Christ sake Amen.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 2 Feb., 1854)

3 Feb.:  Wilford Woodruff Jr. promised Apostleship.

“Wilford in the name of Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood I lay my hands upon your head and seal upon your head a Fathers blessing and seal upon you the priesthood of Aaron which you have received and also to dedicate you unto God for the purpose of the ministry.  I seal upon your head all the blessings of Abram Isaac & Jacob.  I seal you up unto Eternal life and no power shall take your crown.  And you shall live long upon the Earth and do great good and bring many souls into the kingdom of God.  And you shall stand in the defence of Zion and if you will be faithful in keeping the Commandments of God you shall Receive the fulness of the priesthood and the Apostleship and the keys thereof and shall follow the footsteps of thy father wherein he has been faithful in the Apostleship.  And thou shalt live and not die.

Thy body shall not be laid in the grave but thou shalt live till the coming of Christ.  Then shall thy body be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality, and Shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to meet with the saints on the earth.”  (Blessing of Wilford Woodruff Jr. by Wilford Woodruff, in Wilford Woodruff diary, 3 Feb., 1854)

12 Feb.:  What is Priesthood?

“I recollect once when I was preaching, a question was asked me:  ‘What is Priesthood?’  The answer was ready, and perfectly simple in its nature, plain to be understood, and is couched in a short sentence (viz.): Priesthood is a perfect system of Government that rules and reigns in Eternity.

A question at once arises in the mind:  ‘Where is Eternity?’  The answer is at hand:  Eternity is here:–we are in Eternity just as much so as any other beings in Heaven or on Earth.  Heavenly beings are no more in Eternity than we are.  We are in the midst of Eternity; and when we become acquainted with the system of government and the laws that rule in Eternity, we shall then know [that] it [is] calculated to endure; to govern and control all things which are in Heaven, and on the Earth.

The Eternal Priesthood of God–the Government of God–the Laws of Eternity–is a pure and perfect system of government!”  (Brigham Young, 12 Feb., 1854; Collier, TPBY 3:230-231)

12 Feb.:  The Priesthood of the Devil.

“The Priesthood of God is no sooner revived, and in operation, in every age of the world, than the Devil introduces his priesthood in opposition to it; for the Devil has got a priesthood, which many ofyou have seen illustrated here.  He says, ‘I have got power, and the earth is mine, and I will rule.’  So he will as long as he can; but there are bounds set to his power.  He has power to take natural life, and there his power is at an end.  Death will yet be driven from the Earth and him that hath the power of it which is the Devil.

When you see spiritual manifestations that you do not understand be quick to see, quick to hear, and then be quick to understand, but slow to judge.  I give you this advice for a safeguard, that you may always be upon safe ground, and not be led away, when you may be distant from the body of the Church.  The Elders of Israel in their travels may see a great many mysterious things.  A table for instance moving about in a room by means of an invisible force would be a mystery to an Elder uneducated in the principle of spiritual agencies.  One of our Elders in St. Louis last summer went to see the operations of the spirit rappers.  When he saw a table moving, says he, ‘That is of the Devil.’  The table made a bound at him, and he narrowly escaped injury.  Had I been placed in his situation I should have commanded it in the name of Jesus Christ to stand still, and I am persuaded it would have obeyed me.  I do not know but I might, however, have felt somewhat timid and tried to get out of the way.

It is all right.  The Lord will suffer the priesthood of the Devil, and every specious of his hidden mysteries to work.  He intends the Devil shall exercise himself, to let the people see his power.  So when you see the manifestation of a spirit, never judge whether it is of God or not, unless you understand the spirit.”  (Brigham Young, 12 Feb., 1854; Collier, TPBY 3:238-239)

19 Feb.:  Priesthood of the Devil.

“When the Priesthood of God is upon the earth, then the priesthood of the devil may be seen operating, for he has got one.  When the kingdom of God is on the earth, you may expect to see a special display or manifestation of the opposite to the Gospel of the kingdom, or of the Priesthood of God.”  (Jedediah M. Grant, 19 Feb., 1854; JD 2:11)

19 Feb.:  Did John the Baptist confer the HG on Joseph?

“Let us then confine our remarks to this dispensation, when the Prophet Joseph Smith was visited by an holy angel, clad in robes of light, who authorized him to sound the trump of the Gospel of peace, and receive the sacred records from the earth, and the Urim and Thummim, and who laid hands upon him and gave him the Holy Ghost, and authorized him to baptize for the remission of sins, and organize the kingdom of God on the earth.  What do we see at this time?  We see the manifestations of the power of Satan immediately after the revelations of the angel to Joseph.  For instance, there were spirit mediums in Kirtland, when the Church was first organized there by brother Parley P. Pratt and others; but when Joseph went with the Priesthood, the devil had to leave, for he had learned the power of Lucifer; and Joseph organized the Church, established the Priesthood, and set every thing right.”  (Jedediah M. Grant, 19 Feb., 1854; JD 2:12)

Feb.:  Concerning restoration of the Priesthoods.

“Q. Did the revelation and translation of the book of Mormon authorize Joseph Smith to officiate in gospel ordinances?

A. No: God sent an holy angel, whose name was John (the Baptist) to confer upon him and upon another young man whose name was Oliver Cowdery, authority to baptize for the remission of sins.

Q. Did this authority extend to the ordinance of Confirmation, or the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost?

A. No: John could not baptize with the Holy Ghost; he was only authorized to baptize with water, and he could not confer authority upon others which he himself did not hold.

Q. How did Joseph Smith obtain the office of an apostle?

A. Peter, James, and John were sent to him, by whom he was ordained to the apostleship, and thus authorized to lay on hands upon baptized believers for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and to minister in all other gospel ordinances.

Q. Who were the first ones that were legally baptized after the restoration of the authority?

A. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  After John the Baptist had laid his hands upon these young men and ordained them, he commanded them to baptize each other, which they accordingly did, agreeably to the pattern given in the book of Mormon.  And after having received the office of the apostleship, they confirmed each other by the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.  They were also commanded to ordain each other as a pattern for future ordinations.

Q. Was not the ordination which they received under the hands of John sufficient, without their being commanded to re-ordain each other?

A. It was necessary for them to set a perfect example for others to follow.  Though the ordination which the angel had conferred upon them, gave authority, yet, as it was conferred previous to their baptism; it was necessary for them to be re-ordained after their baptism, as a pattern for the ordination of all future officers in the Church, lest some, in after times, should venture to ordain unbaptized persons, which the Lord did not intend, after the church was once restored, to sanction.  This is the cause why the angel commanded a re-ordination after their baptism.  In the restoration of authority the angel had a right to confer ordination before baptism, otherwise their baptism of each other would have been illegal and of no more effect than the baptisms of the apostate churches of Christendom.  But when the authority was once restored, and baptism was legally administered, there existed no more necessity for ordination previous to baptism.  Ordination henceforth, could only be bestowed upon baptized persons, and it was the will of the Lord that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery should be the two highly favored individuals who should first set the example in all these holy ordinances.”  (Orson Pratt, “Questions and Answers on Doctrine,” The Seer 2(2):213-214, Feb., 1854)

Mar.:  “Bannemy” in D&C.

“As it may be satisfactory to the saints to know the original names in the manuscripts we here present them so far as our memory serves.

. . . .

Sec. 102, p. 8, for ‘Baneemy‘ read Sidney Rigdon.”

(Orson Pratt, “Explanation of Substituted Names in the Covenants,” The Seer 2(3):229, Mar., 1854)

Spring:  Beginning of Reformation in St. Louis.

“In the spring of 1854 Brother Milo Andrus arrived in St. Louis from Salt Lake City.  He preached reformation.  He was rebaptized on the 19th of August.  The elders in the Sixth Ward were rebaptized by Elder Robert Windley.  I was rebaptized at the same time and was soon appointed clerk of the Sixth Ward.”  (John Powell autobiographical sketch; in Our Pioneer Heritage, 5:481, 1962)

2 Apr.:  President’s right to select his own counselors.

“At 4 p.m. Pres. Brigham Young and Counsel met in the Council House for prayer.  Pres. Young requested the Twelve to make nominations for the filling of the vacancy in the First Presidency caused by the demise of Willard Richards, but the Twelve decided that it was the President’s right to nominate his own counselors, which seemed to satisfy all present.”  (JH 2 Apr., 1854)

9 Apr.:  70s hold all the keys; ordain them Apostles.

“I Attended the prayer meeting with the Presidency & Twelve And President Young said while remarking upon the offices of the Priesthood that the seventies hold all the Keys in the Church & Kingdom of God on earth & if the 12 were dead they would have to Ordain all the offices of the Church for they are all High Priests & Apostles.  I told Joseph Young to have the 70 All ordained Apostles.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 9 Apr., 1854)

9 Apr.:  OK to use High Priests as Teachers.

“I Attended the prayer meeting with the Presidency & Twelve And President Young said . . . It is perfectly right to take High Priests & make Teachers of them.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 9 Apr., 1854)

Spring:  Rebaptism of St. Louis Stake.

“In the spring of 1854, I was sent to Saint Louis to preside over the stake there.  Stayed there one year, rebaptized and confirmed about 800 Saints.”  (Milo Andrus autobiography, LC Collection)

4 May:  Angels have ordained a new apostleship.

“. . . Excuse me then and permit me to give you a testimonial of our religeon.  Angles have minestered to some of us in the present age and have ordained a new apostileship and renewed the commision to preach the gospel . . .”  (Parley P. Pratt to William Patterson, 4 May, 1854; Ms d 49 [Microfilm of typescript], LDS Archives)

27 Jun.:  Younger to be Priests/Elders; older, Teachers.

“Coucerning ordinations.  Do not ordain men to offices in the Priesthood, unless they are prepared to engage at once in the duties of their calling.  Let the younger men be ordained Priests or Elders, and go out to preach to the world, but for Teachers select the most faithful and worthy from among the Fathers in the Church, that have had experience in life, and can sweetly blend the counsels of the Holy Spirit with their own experience to comfort the afflicted, succour the tempted, humble the proud, and in all cases command that attention and respect which are always due to that important office in the Church.”  (F. D. Richards, 27 Jun., 1854, Special British General Conference; MS 16(33):519, 19 Aug., 1854)

30 Jun.:  Roster of British officers.

Branches:  698

Seventies:  45

High Priests:  12 

Elders:  2648

Priests:  1813

Teachers:  1336

Deacons:  819

Total Members:  29,797

(30 Jun., 1854; MS 16(30):470, 29 Jul., 1854)

19 Aug.:  Concerning the washing of feet.

“After our arrival in the British Isles in June last, it was deemed advisable to call a Council of the Pastors and Presidents of the Conferences in the United Kingdom, to take into consideration the condition of the Churches, and see whether the prospect of more extensive emigration might not seem to require some change of policy in their business affairs; also that we might obtain a more general and correct understanding of the condition of the work, the advancement it had made during our absence, and any new features which it might present after a growth of two years, the promulgation of new revelations, and the extension of emigration, which had been so cheering to all the Saints, and to ourself not less than any others. . . .

Among other subjects which were noticed on that occasion, was that of the Elders washing their feet and bearing testimony thereof concerning the city, town, house, or person that refused to receive them.  This subject, which was presented by Elder J. S. Fulmer, it appears, has been misunderstood by some in his district, where the ordinance has been at some previous time administered.

In order to comprehend something of the extent to which this ordinance, as recorded and commanded in Doc. and Cov. iv. 16, becomes a savour of life to believers, and of death to unbelievers, or those who reject the servants of God, and their testimony, we shall do well to consider the nature of the ordinance, which, like all others of divine appointment, has its own particular signification and import in the economy of heaven for the salvation of mortals.  All the ordinances of the Gospel are in their nature and effect purifying; they also tend to exalt those, who are their worthy partakers, in the scale of intelligence.  And as the Elders are particularly exhorted to be faithful in all things, and to abide in all the ordinances of the Lord’s house, it is of importance that they understand somewhat of their nature and power.

That the ordinance of washing of feet is essential in its place is abundantly evident from the words of our Saviour to Peter, when he modestly declined the condescending service of his Lord and Master–‘If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.’  John xiii. 8.  That it is also cleansing or purifying is equally apparent from the continuation of the instruction as given in the 10th verse–‘He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit,’ which was also afterwards confirmed by telling them ‘ye are clean, but not all,’ alluding to the one that should betray him.

Having ascertained so much from the ancient Scriptures, we will notice what the Lord has said of the nature of this ordinance, in his revelations in these last days, through the Prophet Joseph, while instructing him to organize the school of the Prophets–‘And ye shall not receive any among you into this school, save he is clean from the blood of this generation: and he shall be received by the ordinance of the washing of feet, for unto this end was the ordinance of the washing of feet instituted,’ &c. Doc. and Cov. vii. 45, 46–read the two paragraphs.  It appears, then, from our Saviour’s own words, that this ordinance was instituted by himself, in the beginning, for that special purpose–that those to whom it was worthily administered might thereby be made clean from the blood of their fellow-men or their generation.  Now we inquire, did his performing that ordinance upon his chosen Twelve, in which he pronounced them clean from the blood of their generation, excuse them from any further travelling to preach to the people?  So far from that, they were then required to ‘go into all the world, and preach the Gospel unto every creature,’ whereas before they were only sent to the Jews; so that if the ordinance excused them from duty to any, it could only be the Jews, to whom alone they had been previously sent.  But we ask, were they excused from further duties to the Jews, seeing they were now sent to ‘every creature?’  Let the example of the same men whom Jesus pronounced clean, answer.  On the day of Pentecost, the Twelve being gethered together, and also many Jews from various parts of the earth, Peter rose up, and with more power than ever before, preached, and bore testimony of the crucified and risen Jesus, so convincing his hearers that three thousand went forward and were baptized the same day.

If the notions of some at the present day were correct, then it would have been of no use for Peter or any of the Twelve to preach to the Jews on that occasion, for none could have received their testimony, being sealed up to destruction through the washing of their feet, the shaking off the dust from their feet, and the many testimonies of the Saviour and his Apostles which had been borne against them from time to time.  Yet notwithstanding all this, we find the first and most successful effort of the Twelve made right in Jerusalem, where the most heinous crimes were committed against the Son of God, and against which he had denounced the heaviest woes.  Well, then, if the washing of the Elders’ feet does not seal up the hearts of the people against the overtures of mercy, what is its signification and import?  Simply this–that the minister has done his duty in carrying the Gospel to that man, family, village, town, city, or nation, as the case may be, and he or they have rejected him and his testimony.  The minister, by the washing of his feet, and testifying thereof to the Lord, virtually says–‘The Lord judge between me and thee;’ I have done my duty, I am clean of your blood.  All this should be done under the guidance of that spirit which says, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do;’ and then, if in a future day others should go there and baptize three thousand in one day, the first minister also would be led to glorify God, and forgive them the evil they had done him.  The Lord condemns people according to the amount of light and knowledge they reject.  Let us not therefore be vexed if He bears long with sinners, neither should we cast them out if they do not give God thanks, but, by every grace, gift, and virtue we may possess, seek to reclaim them with good words and kind acts, for ‘with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.’  He that said, ‘whoso rejecteth you rejecteth me,’ will administer judgment upon such, except they repent, until the righteous will be ready to say–‘Father, forgive, it is enough.’

It should not be lost sight of, that although the Twelve were so eminently successful on the day of Pentecost, after the washing of their feet, still the ordinance has had all its dreadful virtue upon those who had rejected Christ and his Kingdom, even until this day.  ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.'”  (Editorial [F. D. Richards, Editor], MS 16(33):521-522, 19 Aug., 1854)

2 Oct.:  Rebaptisms in Philadelphia.

“Elder Samuel Harrison wrote from Philadelphia as follows: . . .

Through the counsel of Elders Wm. Walker and Henry Lunt, who lately passed through this city on their way to Liverpool, the saints have gone forth and renewed their covenants by being rebaptized, and I am happy to say that there is now a better feeling amongst them than there has been for many years.”  (From St. Louis Luminary, in JH 2 Oct., 1854)

6 Oct.:  Why Bishops need to be married.

“I will now give you my reasons why it is necessary that a Bishop should have a wife, not but that he may have more than one wife.  In the first place he is (or should be) like a father to his ward, or to the people over whom he presides, and a good portion of his time is occupied among them.  Still he does not wish to be bound up, or flooded with cares of this world, so but that he can officiate in his office, and magnify it to acceptance. 

The office of a Bishop is in his ward; and when he finds a man who is doing a good business as a farmer or a tradesman, and who has plenty around him, and is faithfully paying his tithing, he has no business there only to receive the tithing that man has to pay for the benefit of the kingdom of God; his business is more particularly in the houses of widows and orphans, and he is called to administer to them in righteousness, like a father.

Paul, knowing by observation and his own experience the temptations that were continually thrown before the Elders, gave instructions paramount to this–Before you ordain a person to be a Bishop, to take the charge of a Branch in any one district or place, see that he has a wife to begin with; he did not say, ‘but one wife;’ it does not read so; but he must have one to begin with, in order that he may not be continually drawn into temptation while he is in the line of his duty, visiting the houses of widows and orphans, the poor, the afflicted, and the sick in his ward.  He is to converse with families, sometimes upon family matters, and care for them, but if he has no wife, he is not so capable of taking care of a family as he otherwise would be, and perhaps he is not capable of taking care of himself.  Now select a young man who has preserved himself in purity and holiness, one who has carried himself circumspectly before the people, and before God; it would not do to ordain him to the office of a Bishop, for he may be drawn into temptation, and he lacks experience in family matters; but take a man who has one wife at least, a man of experience, like thousands of our Elders, men of strength of mind, who have determination in them to preserve themselves pure under all circumstances, at all times, and in all places in their wards.  Now, Timothy, select such a man to be a Bishop.

A Bishop in his calling and duty is with the Church all the time; he is not called to travel abroad to preach, but is at home; he is not abroad in the world, but is with the Saints.”  (Brigham Young, 6 Oct., 1854; JD 2:88-89)

6 Oct.:  Even Deacons should be married.

“When you have got your Bishop, he needs assistants, and he ordains Counsellors, Priests, Teachers, and Deacons, and calls them to help him; and he wishes men of his own heart and hand to do this.  Says he, ‘I dare not even call a man to be a Deacon, to assist me in my calling, unless he has a family.’  It is not the business of an ignorant young man, of no experience in family matters, to inquire into the circumstances of families, and know the wants of every person.  Some may want medicine and nourishment, and to be looked after, and it is not the business of boys to do this; but select a man who has got a family to be a Deacon, whose wife can go with him, and assist him in administering to the needy in the ward.”  (Brigham Young, 6 Oct., 1854; JD 2:89)

8 Oct.:  No change in ordinances since days of Adam.

“The Ordinances of the Kingdom of God on the Earth are the same to the children of Adam from the commencement to the end of his posterity pertaining to the carnal state on this Earth, and the winding up scene of this mortality.  With regard to the Bible we frequently say, we believe the Bible, but circumstances alters cases, for what is now required of the people may not be required of a people that may live a hundered years hence.  But I wish you to understand, with regard to the Ordinances of God’s House to save the people in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, there is no change from the days of Adam to the present time, neither will there be until the last of his posterity is gathered into the Kingdom of God.

Those who are not acquainted with our doctrine are astonished, and say, ‘That is strange indeed; we thought no such thing as preaching Faith, Repentance, and Baptism was practiced in ancient, or Old Testament times.’  I can tell you that no man from the days of Adam, no woman from the days of Eve to this day, who have lived, and who are now living upon the Earth will go into the Kingdom of their Father and God, to be crowned with Jesus Christ, without passing through the same Ordinances of the House of God, you and I have obeyed.  I wish you distinctly to understand that.

There are many duties, and callings spoken of in the scriptures, and there are many not written, those for instance which are handed out to you by your President as circumstances require.  Those imposed by the President of the Church of God, or by the president of any portion of it, are duties as necessary to be observed as though they were written in the Bible; but these requirements, duties, callings etc. change with the circumstances that surround the people of God.  But when you speak of the system of Salvation to bring back the children of Adam and Eve into the presence of our Father and God, it is the same in all ages, among all people, and under all circumstances worlds without end.”  (Brigham Young, 8 Oct., 1854; Collier, TPBY 3:347-348)

12 Nov.:  Quorums to cut off unfaithful members.

“When men are dead weights who have the means and ability to gather, the quicker we cut them off the better–the tree will prosper all the better without them.  Now I just request that every quorum in this Church will begin to turn up, and cut off all who curse and swear, steal or get drunk–cut them off from the Church, and let all Israel say Amen.”  (Brigham Young, 12 Nov., 1854; Collier, TPBY 3:410)

19 Nov.:  Definition of Priesthood.

“Now let me tell you there is no world made without that world has motion, and it is governed and controlled by the law of the Eternal Priesthood; and if you want to know what Priesthood is, it is a perfect system of government by which planets and all creations are governed.”  (Brigham Young, 19 Nov., 1854; Collier, TPBY 3:414)

3 Dec.:  Definition of Priesthood.

“There is a law that governs man thus far; but the law of the celestial kingdom, as I have frequently told yo, is, and always will be, the same to all the children of Adam.  When we talk of the celestial law which is revealed from heaven, that is, the Priesthood, we are talking about the principle of salvation, a perfect system of government, of laws and ordinances, by which we can be prepared to pass from one gate to another, and from one sentinel to another, until we go into the presence of our Father and God.  This law has not always been uon the earth; and in its absence, other laws have been given to the children of men for their improvement, for their education, for their government, and to prove what they would do when left to control themselves; and what we now call tradition has grown out of these circumstances.”  (Brigham Young, 3 Dec., 1854; JD 2:139)

21 Dec.:  70’s Council Hall completed.

“The new Council Hall, built by the Presidents of the Seventies, is now completed, and will be dedicated on Christmas Day.  It is a very neat little chapel, and will prove extremely useful and beneficial to the Presidents to meet in to transact their Quorum business.  I have received an invitation, with brothers Brigham and Grant, to meet with them, and participate in the ceremonies.”  (H. C. Kimball [SLC] to his son, William [England], 21 Dec., 1854; MS 17(17):252, 21 Apr., 1855)

31 Dec.:  Roster of British officers.

Branches:  702

Seventies:  54

High Priests:  13

Elders:  2757

Priests:  1729

Teachers:  1252

Deacons:  763

Total Members:  29,441

(31 Dec., 1854; MS 17(5):75, 3 Feb., 1855)