← Back to Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism Index

Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1862

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1862.” You can view other years here.

Search the content below for specific dates, names, and keywords using the keyboard shortcut Command + F on a Mac or Control + F on Windows.


1862:  4 Feb.:  1st meeting w/70s quorum in years.

“I met with my quorum for the first time for many years (16th quorum of Seventies).”  (William Ellis Jones diary, 4 Feb., 1862; LC Collection)

12 Feb.:  1st DN report of Seventies’ Hall lectures.

“On Wednesday evening, the 12th inst., Elder W. Woodruff delivered a very interesting and instructive lecture on the subjects of history and journalizing.  He briefly reviewed the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; pointed out the many difficulties the historians had labored under in attempting to preserve the sayings, counsels and revelations of the great Seer of this last dispensation, in consequence of the brethren neglecting to record them at the time they transpired; referred to the teachings of the Prophet on the subject of keeping records as contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.  Urged upon the young men of our community to study the arts and sciences, and learn to become ready writers, and thereby prepare themselves to take down the words of inspiration as they flow from the mouths of prophets and inspired men who are called of God as was Aaron, that their words may not fall like water upon the ground and be lost for ever.  His allusions to the records kept by the children of Israel, the appearance of angels having ink-horns by their side, as mentioned in the 9th of Ezekiel, the labors of the ancient Nephites to preserve their history, were all as happily made as they were pleasing to reflect upon and apropos to subjects of the lecture.

Prof. Phelps followed with a short address upon the new translation of the scriptures by Joseph Smith, and read several extracts, among the rest, the 7th chapter of Micah, parts of the 4th and 24th of Matthew, 60th of Isriah, 12th of Ecclesiastes, and other passages having particular reference to the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth in the dispensation of the fullness of times.  Said he had compared all these selections with the original Hebrew, Greek and Chaldaic and found them to be correct renderings.

Friday Evening.

A lecture on law was delivered on the above evening by Aurelius Miner, Esp., attorney at law.  The hall was well filled, but not crowded as on Wednesday.  The lecturer defined law to be ‘A rule of action, from a superior to those who are governed.’  In undertaking to treat upon a subject so vast, so important and widely extended, he said, he felt at a loss to know what part he should expound on that occasion.  There were laws established by the All-wise Creator for the government of the works of his hands; the mighty luminary around which our little world revolves, the planitary system of which ours is a member, and all the mighty systems that fill the immensity of space, perform their revolutions in obedience to certain given or established laws, but the code of laws about which, he believed the gentlemen who had kindly invited him to address the present audience, was that which had been made and compiled for the purpose of protecting men in their rights, preventing bloodshed, to preserve sacred life and property, to prevent intrusions on the rights of others, to determine the limits which men should be confined to, and for mutual convenience in partnerships, trade, commerce and the regulation thereof.  Mr. Miner handled these and several other portions of the written law with a good deal of ease and freedom, exhibiting considerable familiarity with the laws of nations, both ancient and modern.

At the close of the lecture Hon. Hosea Stout and Chief Justice Kinney were called to the stand and both made excellent remarks on the study, use and practice of law, showing its utility when properly administered and its evils when the power to enforce was in the hands of [evil?] administrators.”

(DN 11(34):269, 19 Feb., 1862)

15 Feb.:  Blessing of children.

“There is, probably, no ordinance of the Gospel which the Elders are called upon more frequently to administer than that of the blessing of children.  It is therefore necessary that it should be properly understood. . . .

In the hearts of believing, faithful parents there is treasured up and cherished with loving care and tenacious remembrance every promise bestowed by the Elders upon the heads of their children.  No jewels could be more highly valued; and when they are occasionally brought forth from the recesses of the heart where they are preserved, they are viewed as the reliable assurances of that wealth of blessings which the future will yield them in their children, to repay them for all the care they have had over them while young.  This being the case, every Elder who lays his hands upon a child to bless it should be careful that he is not led by fancy, or by a desire to say some wonderful things, instead of being prompted by the Spirit of the Lord.  For when the Spirit of the Lord does not dictate, however many blessings an Elder may promise and fine things he may say, disappointment is sure to follow.  The parents of the child have their expectations raised only to be dashed again to the earth.  It is too often the case that in blessing children the Elders entertain the idea that they ought to pronounce upon its head every good thing they can think of.  Imagination is racked to frame blessings and promises to seal upon it; and if there are two or three or more children to be blessed, and several Elders present engaged in the ordinance, each one seeks to vie with his fellow in giving utterance to the greatest and most cheering promises.  The children are frequently promised health and life and length of days; the boys are told that they shall receive the Priesthood, in which they are to become mighty; and the girls that they shall be mothers in Israel and stand at the head of a numerous posterity; and this is all done generally in the presence of a mixed congregation of believers and unbelievers.  Of course, if anything happens to the child, and it does not live, the confidence of the Saints in the promises of the Priesthood is weakened, while unbelievers seize at it as an evidence to strengthen themselves in their unbelief.  By this means much injury is done.  The Adversary does not fail to take advantage of these things to weaken the confidence and destroy the faith of the Saints, and to poison the minds of the inquirer after truth.

When practicable, the blessing of children should be attended to in meetings called for that purpose.  The Spirit of the Lord should be sought for in humility and diligent prayer, that the Elders and the people might be filled with it, and that every word or promise pronounced upon the child or children might be dictated by it.  Then whatever might be said would be said aright and would be fulfilled. . . .

Be the blessings ever so great and important that are placed upon the heads of children, it should ever be remembered that they are all conditional.  Their fulfilment depends to a very great extent upon those who have the children in charge.  If they train them up in the fear of the Lord, there is a far greater likelihood of their receiving and enjoying such blessings than if they had trained them up in a total disregard of his commandments and the truth.

What we have said respecting the blessing of children applies with equal force to the ordinance of confirmation and the laying on of hands for the healing of the sick.  The Priesthood is now held by large numbers, and these ordinances are more commonly attended to than they were in the early days of the Church; and, as a consequence of this, there is not that regard paid to the solemnity of these ordinances which characterized their administration then.  As the Priesthood and ministers of the Lord, we should be careful upon these points.  We should seek to preserve the ordinances which God in his mercy has restored in their ancient power to the earth, pure and free from any innovation and change.  By so doing, the blessings which are to be obtained through that medium will be bestowed, accompanied by the power in which they are desired and sought.  The greatest blessing that can be pronounced upon the heads of those who are being confirmed as members of the Church is to seal upon them, in the name of Jesus and by the power of the holy Priesthood, the Spirit of the Lord.  All that is said in addition to this at such times has too frequently the effect of feeding the vanity of the persons thus blessed.  What necessity is there for more than this?  Can an Elder seal upon the head of any individual any blessing or gift which the Holy Spirit cannot bestow?  If not, which all must admit, when the Holy Spirit is sealed upon a person’s head, they have received that which comprehends within itself every other blessing which is in the power of the Priesthood at that time to bestow.

We hope these hints will have the effect of making the Elders more careful in all their administrations.  It is a great responsibility which is entrusted to them; and when they speak in the name of the Lord, they should be careful that it is not their own feelings, prejudices, or wishes that are speaking, and which they fancy is the mind of the Lord.  They should seek to discern between the promptings of their own spirit and the promptings and voice of the Spirit of the Lord.”  (Editorial [George Q. Cannon, editor], MS 24(7):105-107, 15 Feb., 1862)

2 Mar.:  We need a temple to fully organize the Priesthood

“We wish a Temple, not for the public congregation, but for the Priesthood, wherein to arrange and organize fully the Priesthood in its order and degrees, to administer the ordinance of the Priesthood to the Saints for their exaltations.”  (Brigham Young, 2 Mar., 1862; JD 9:240)

5-14 Mar.:  Topics of 70s Hall lectures.

5 Mar.:  Manufacture of various kinds of hats, preservation of furs.

7 Mar.:  Geology.

12 Mar.:  History of the ancient Egyptians.

14 Mar.:  Geography.

(DN 11(38):304, 19 Mar., 1862)

9 Mar.:  Bishops should be able to judge in a minute.

“There was a notice read to-day for the High Council to meet next Thursday.  I would like to see the High Council and Bishops and all Judges filled with the power of the Holy Ghost, that when a person comes before them they can read and understand that person, and be able to decide a case quickly and justly.  When men have a just appreciation of right and wrong, their decision can be made as well the first minute after hearing a statement of the case, as to waste hours and days to make it.  I would like the Bishops and other officers to have sufficient power and wisdom from God to make them fully aware of the true nature of every case that may come before them.  But there are some of our great men who are so ignorant that a personal favor will so bias their minds that they will twist the truth and sustain a person in evil.  This principle is to be found, more or less, in the old, middle-aged and youth.  Some, with a trifling consideration, can so prejudice the mind of a High Councillor, a High Priest, a Bishop, or an Apostle, that he will lean to the individual instead of the truth.  I despise a man that would offer me money to buy me to his favor. Goodness will always find stout supporters in the good, and need not to buy favor.  The man who tries to buy the influence of another to cover up his iniquity, will go to hell.”  (Brigham Young, 9 Mar., 1862; JD 10:42)

16 Mar.:  The symbolism of baptism.

“You are baptized in the likeness of the death of Jesus, that you should live no longer in sin; but as he rose from the tomb to immortality and glory, so you should rise to newness of life.  It is also a sign of the covenant you make with your God at the water’s brink.  You covenant to keep his commandments, to cease from sin and live unto God in righteousness, and your baptismal burial is the sign of that covenant.  You are required to be dead to sin before you are baptized–before you are thus buried.  If you are dead to sin you have ceased to do wrong, and then you are freed from sin because there exists no wrong; but if you will continue to sin, then you are not dead to it, and the sin will lie at your door.”  (Amasa M. Lyman discourse, 16 Mar., 1862; MS 24(21):324, 24 May, 1862)

22 Mar.:  Robert Gardner to be Presiding Bishop in St. Geo

“Resolved that Robert Gardner be Presiding Bishop in the city of St. George, having charge of all the Tithing business of the city; and act as local Bishop of the fourth Ward.

Resolved that Ute Perkins be Bishop of the first Ward, and that William Fawcett be his first Counselor and take charge of the second Ward, which being thinly inhabited is at present attached to the first Ward.”  (“Minutes of a Conference, held in St. George, Washington County, March 22d and 23d,” DN 11(41):328, 9 Apr., 1862)

22 Mar.:  “Mass Quorums” of 70.

“Resolved that William P. McIntyre preside over the St. George Mass Quorum of Seventies.”  (“Minutes of a Conference, held in St. George, Washington County, March 22d and 23d,” DN 11(41):328, 9 Apr., 1862)

“The Seventies present and all others holding the office of Seventy in this region were organized into a ‘Mass Quorum’, of which Elder William Patterson McIntire was appointed President, with John Pymm as Clerk.”  (Minutes of the first Conference of the Southern Utah Mission, 23 Mar., 1862; JH 23 Mar., 1862)

30 Mar.:  Obedience to those in authority, even if wrong.

“Went up to the Tabernacle.  Bro D H Wells and H C Kimball spoke on the authority of the Priesthood &c.  In the P.M. Bro Brigham spoke in very clear and comprehensive manner on the judgement of the World.  Showed that the Lord would not judge all the World no more than he preaches to all the world, but would do it by his Servants thro all the ramifications of his Priesthood. . . . Touched on the order of the Priesthood, of being obedient to those placed over us in authority.  Said tho we were accused falsly and tried before a Bishops court or an high Council and even an unjust Decision placed upon us, to go forth and make the requissition they required of us or the acknowledgement they desired, no matter if it were unjust one.  He promised us in the Name of the Lord we should come out right and shine bright as the noon day Sun while they went down.”  (Charles L. Walker diary, 30 Mar., 1862)

30 Mar.:  Who will judge us in the last days?

“Jesus Christ will judge the people who lived in his day.  He told his Apostles that they should sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel; and he will hold his credentials as Presiding Judge of that Supreme Court.  He will not personally judge each individual of the twelve tribes of Israel, neither will the twelve judges who judge by his authority, but there is a quorum of Seventies that will also be called by the twelve judges to sit upon judgment seats, and High Priests will also sit as judges.”  (Brigham Young, 30 Mar., 1862; DN 11(50):394, 11 Jun., 1862)

30 Mar.:  Concerning unjust decisions of Church courts.

“When we are brought before a Council to be tried for misdemeanor, and we receive a sentence that our deeds deserve, it may be offensive to our high sense of character, but bear it patiently; and let the High Council judge, or let the Bishop judge, and do not raise one objection to their decisions, pronouncing them unrighteous.  If their decisions are unrighteous and we are oppressed, walk up, nevertheless, and fulfil the decision, let it be ever so unjust.  After that it is our privilege to appeal to the High Council, to the First Presidency, and from them to the General Conference.  But if, after we have received an unjust sentence from a Bishop’s Court, we suffer the penalty patiently, conscious of our innocence and of the purity of our characters, making no appeals to higher courts, I will promise, in the name of Israel’s God, that we shall rise and not fall, and shine forth in splendor like the noon-day sun.  But how many say, ‘we will never submit to an unrighteous decision; our consciences are too pure, our hearts are two [sic] innocent to acknowledge what we are not guilty of.’  You had better confess that which you are not guilty of, than neglect to perform the least duty.  Upon the same principle it is better to give to ten unworthy persons, than to turn away one worthy person.  If you are required by the courts of the Church of God to acknowledge a thing, do it, however painful it may be, for God’s High Priest requires it.  ‘And the High Priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him, to smite him on the mouth.  Then said Paul unto him God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?  And they that stood by, said, revilest thou God’s High Priest.  Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the High Priest: for it is written, thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.’  The Bishop is God’s High Priest, and a common judge in Israel.

Blessed are they whose sins go to judgment beforehand, instead of following after.  Let the Bishops and High Council and those who have a right to judge the people, bring up every individual who transgresses the laws of this kingdom, and judge them that they may not be judged hereafter when the books are opened and the judgment is set and presided over by the Great I Am.  Those who have never ceased to obey all the counsels of the Church of God, and who have been judged by the authorities of the kingdom of God upon the earth, will not be judged hereafter.  If this people aare required by their leaders to perform acts that are unrighteous, God will condemn them and hold the people guiltless, if the unrighteous acts are performed with an honest intent.  It is my counsel to the Latter Day Saints to crave judgment or sentence at the hands of their brethren, that at the judgment of the quick and the dead they may have the happy assurance that their judgment is all passed; sentence has been passed upon them, every requirement has been answered, and nothing now remains but to sit and hear judgment passed upon those who would not be judged by their brethren.  All those who refuse to be judged by the least authority in the church and kingdom of God, will receive their judgment hereafter; therefore do not refuse to be judged, but crave it now at the hands of your brethren.  Live so that you are constantly justified before the Heavens–that if your brethren condemn you, you are justified before the courts on high, and the sin is then upon them and not upon you.  If I should require of this people, or of any portion of them, that which is unjust, and the people perform it with an eye single to the glory of God and the building up of his kingdom on the earth, the sin is on me and not on them, and no power can make it otherwise.  I wish the people to be willing to be judged and hearken to counsel.  I do not wish them to run by their Bishops to me, for I have already plenty of business on hand; if I have not, I can soon make more.  If the Saints of the Most High, who compose this church and kingdom upon the earth, are willing to be judged by the proper authorities God has placed in his kingdom, it will not occupy much time to judge them hereafter.  No question but what there will be some disobedient ones and apostates to judge.”  

(Brigham Young, 30 Mar., 1862; DN 11(50):394, 11 Jun., 1862)

6 Apr.:  Duties of different priesthood offices outlined.

“Presidet Young spoke most of the Evening and gave instruction upon the diferent offices of the Priesthood.  He told the diferent duties of the Presidet of the Branch the Bishop & the different Quorums.  He gave much instruction & if the people would remember it & Practice upon it it would be a great Benefit to them.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 6 Apr., 1862)

7 Apr.:  Concerning Mass Quorums of 70.

“Prest. Joseph Young said he wanted to speak a few words of general instruction to the quorums of Seventies.  He proceeded to give the history of the mass quorums, and stated that all the members of mass quorums in the country were required to report themselves quarterly to their respective quorums, so that their standing might be understood here at headquarters.”  (Minutes of 32nd Annual Conference, 7 Apr., 1862; DN 11(42):333, 16 Apr., 1862)

7 Apr.:  Presidents of Branches vs. Bishops of Branches.

“From what has been remarked it appears that, in some instances, the President and the Bishop of a Branch infringe upon the rights of each other, perhaps honestly; and they think that they possess this power and that authority, and thereby contention arises in the midst of this people, creating alienation of feeling and apostacy.  What a pity it is that such circumstances should exist; they create sincere regret in the soul of every person who desires to see the kingdom of God prosper on the earth.

The spiritual and the temporal cannot be separated, and, in the economy of the Framer of the Universe, are not designed to be.  For example, were we a congregation who had not heard the plan of salvation and knew nothing of the kingdom of God upon earth, and were listening patiently to a stranger opening the plan of salvation to us, our hearts would be touched by the fire in the speaker, the eyes of our understandings would be opened, and we would begin to comprehend, admire, and rejoice in the truth.  This is a spiritual work, and internal work, a work upon the heart and affections.  This is what we call spiritual impressions.  The speaker has portrayed before our minds the beauties of the kingdom of God on earth so rationally, and in a manner so congenial to the feelings of all honest persons, that they are all influenced to believe the Gospel.  What is the next step?  You next ask the preacher to baptize you, and here you commence a temporal labour with both body and spirit.  The preacher has been labouring with his body, exercising his lungs, and his whole spiritual and temporal system, and this labour produces a spiritual and temporal benefit on those who believe and practice his teachings.  It is so extremely nice a point to draw the line of demarcation between the temporal and spiritual acts of man, that it is impossible to separate the two.  There is a class of men who do not believe anything in religion to be temporal; they are baptized in their hearts, partake of the sacrament in their hearts, preach in their hearts, and worship the Lord in their hearts, while their bodies are constantly scrambling after the dimes.  To be baptized changed your wet clothes for dry ones, go to meeting to worship the Lord, and to bring the body into subjection to the will of Christ, is all a temporal labour aided by the Divine Spirit.

I will say a few words with regard to a Bishop.  Except we find a literal descendant of Aaron, a man has to be ordained to the High Priesthood to administer as did Aaron and his sons.  Suppose we then place the same man also as a President in a Branch, how are we going to divide his duties and labours?  I said a few words in this subject last year, and can say more about it.  Can the Bishop baptize the people, according to his Bishopric?  He can.  When the people he has baptized assemble for confirmation, can he confirm them?  He cannot, under the power of his Bishopric; but as he has been ordained to the office of a High Priest, after the order of Melchisedek, to prepare him to act in the office of a Bishop in the Priesthood of Aaron, when he has baptized the people under the authority of his Bishopric, he has a right as a High Priest to confirm them into the Church by the laying on of hands.  Bishops begin a contention in their Branch, where they operate in their callingk, when they amalgamate with their Bishop’s office the office of the High Priesthood, when they try to bring the authority of the High Priesthood in the kingdom of God down to the capacity of the Priesthood that belongs to the office of an acting Bishop; here they make a grave mistake, and fall into perplexing errors.

What are the duties of a President and a Bishop?  We will first notice a duty that belongs to a President.  For instance, he wishes a comfortable place prepared for the people to meet in, and he calls on the Bishop to marshal his forces to gather the material to build a house, and the house is prepared for the comfort and accommodation of all.  In this instance you observe the duty and office of a Bishop is attended to.  In his capacity the Bishop knows nobody only as a member of the kingdom of God, and in the performance of this duty he calls upon the President and everyone else to aid in accomplishing the wishes of the President, to go to the kanyon to get out timber, to quarry rock, make adobies, &c., &c., for everybody is entitled to pay Tithing.  When the house is put up according to the President’s direction, then the President calls on the Bishop to see that it is well seated, lighted and warmed, for the convenience and comfort of the congregation.  Then in like manner he sees that the sacrament is prepared and administered, for it is the right, and privilege, and duty of the President to baptize, and confirm, and administer the sacrament, and do all things for the spiritual building up of the kingdom of God; and also it is the right of the Bishop to preach, baptize, and administer the sacrament.

On Monday morning the Bishop calls upon the President and everybody it concerns, to send their Tithing to the General Tithing Office.  The President, who officiates as presiding officer on Sunday, is as subject to the Bishop on Monday as anybody else.  My Bishop has just as good a right to come to my house and demand of my my tithing, as he has to demand it of any other person in his ward, also to inquire into the state of my family, whether I attend to my prayers, whether I have contention with my neighbours, &c., in his capacity as a Bishop.

So these callings and Priesthoods are interwoven one with another, for the convenience and furtherance of the kingdom of God, in the absence of a literal descendant of Aaron.  A Bishop sometimes officiates as a High Priest, and sometimes as a Bishop.  In his High Priesthood he can act, when called upon so to do by the proper authority in every calling in the Church, except that of an Apostle; there are still keys and powers that can be conferred upon him; but when a man is ordained to the office of an Apostle, he is ordained to the fullest extent a man can be on earth.”  (Brigham Young, 7 Apr., 1862; JD 9:279-281)

“There were remarks made last evening in regard to the mass Quorums of Seventies that are organized in the different settlements, and also in reference to the High Priests, of which there are Branch Quorums in the various settlements.  It has been found that where there has been a President, and Bishop in a Branch, it has been a cause of difficulty, and it was considered by Elder Hyde and others that this practice ought to be abolished.  I have asked myself the question whether when we have received such blessings as have been conferred by the Priesthood of the Most High, we should come down from our exalted position, or whether we should not have the spirit of forbearance, the enlightenment of the Holy Ghost in our midst to expand our minds, to enable us to understand our duties, or shall we take a course to deprive ourselves of the blessings of the Melchisedeck Priesthood, as did ancient Israel?  This is what you are virtually doing in your neighbourhoods where you exclude the Presidents of Branches.  We are a people who expect to expand in our minds, to establish on the earth the kingdom of the Great God, and we are a people that never expect to retrograde, but to have all the keys of the Priesthood; to go forward conquering and to conquer until the whole of the inhabitants of the earth shall be redeemed and brought into subjection to the will of God.  It is very natural that the Presidents of the Seventies should feel after the condition of their members.  These Quorums are divided up and scattered through the different settlements; one man belonging to one Quorum–another to another; therefore, we find various Quorums represented in the different branches of the Church throughout this Territory, and it is right and proper that the Presidency of these Quorums should have some organization by which they can feel after their members and know their standing, that they may be reported up to head-quarters from time to time.  There is no law about this; it is by permission, and it is right.  Now is it not possible that these organizations can be kept up without causing friction or difficulty between the brethren?  If we are guided by the right spirit, i think they can.

Is it impossible to have a President and a Bishop in the same Branch without there being strife and contention among the people?  There has been too much of this, but with the instructions that we are receiving we can improve.

I would not bring this before the public, if it had not been brought there already, for I am ashamed of such things, and I dislike to see them exhibited before the public, only as it becomes necessary for their correction.  It appears to be the opinion of some that these things must be so, but I contend that it need not be so, and it is only the ignorance of the people that gives rise to this spirit of contention in certain places.  And I feel now that after attending a Conference of this kind and receiving correct instructions upon all these points, there need be no more contention.  It has been necessary to bring this before the Conference that we might receive instruction in reference thereto. . . .

My advice is to have no contentions about who holds the most authority, for if you contend about your Bishops and Presidents, the first thing you know is that you have no President at all, and instead of goind a-head (it is as brother George A. Smith said) you have to come down to a wheelbarrow arrangement.  I do not like that kind of doctrine; it is contracting instead of expanding.  I want to see Israel expand and become capable of receiving those blessings which are in store for the faithful.”  (Daniel H. Wells, 7 Apr., 1862; JD 9:299-301)

“It has been in my mind to remark that the office of both President and Bishop are in our President, and therefore he has the undoubted right to place those two offices on one man, or to ordain two separate men aas he may see proper.  There may possibly arise circumstances that may appear to cause the authority of the two to conflict, and thus to be incompatible one with the other, but this is only on account of the ignorance of the people.  We ought so to live as all to be capable of being Presidents and Bishops, for there is certainly ample room for us all to do all the good we can; but I have thought in the present state of our limited knowledge it would be better to dispense with the office of President in the country settlements.  I am happy to inform you that I have never heard of any feeling of difficulty between the President and Bishop at Spanish Fork.  Brother Young did not know of a single exception to the rule, but I am informed by all parties that these brethren have never conflicted.  {President B. Young: I wish I had never heard anything to the contrary.}  My reason for desiring to have this matter brought here was to have the duties of Bishops and Presidents defined, thinking that probably the result of the investigation would be the abolishing of the office of President for the present in the country Branches, and I can truly say that I feel thankful, brethren and sisters, for what I have heard, and I can say with regard to the people in the region where I have labored there is a good degree of union there among the people.  In fact, I rejoice to say that there is no schism in that region; we have no difficulty there with our High Priests, none with our Seventies, only what we have been enabled to arrange.  A good feeling exists there, and I am glad and happy to know that there is an increase of good feeling with the people of Sanpete.  I feel thankful that when the people from all quarters meet here the spirit and the atmosphere seem to bear witness to what I have said.”  (Orson Hyde, 7 Apr., 1862; JD 10:31-32)

“It was remarked yesterday, that the progress of the people was so slow, that the Presidency could not develope those principles which were for the benefit of the people, for their glory and exaltation, only at a very slow rate, powerful as we may think the ‘Mormon’ mill to be.  The President tells us that he has to regulate the feed very moderately, or injure the weak minded.  Some of the brethren, for want of a more perfect understanding perhaps, give way to temptation and turn away, and become to a considerable extent like a man who comes out of the dark into a well lighted room, he is blinded with the light, his eyes are unprepared to meet such brilliancy.  This is illustrated very clearly in the organization of the several Branches, settlements, and stakes of Zion throughout Deseret.  To use a figure, in almost all the Branches containing from one hundred to three hundred families, it has been found necessary to combine all the authority of Presidency in one man, at least I will say this has been the case in many instances; there are a few exceptions to this rule, but not many.  A Bishop while he presides at the meetings looks after the spiritual welfare of the settlements; he preaches on the Sabbath day, gives counsel to the people, spiritual and temporal; he gives counsel in relation to the donations, public buildings, the erection of school-houses; and almost everything is made to devolve upon the head of the Bishop.

In the first instance many of these places were organized with a President and Bishop who were expected to act in concert, and, with their counsellors, work and exert themselves for the general good of the people, and with a strong hand all pull together and strive to strengthen each other.  And when for the time these men ought to have been teachers they have proven that they required to be taught, for the very first question that would arise, was ‘which of us is the biggest man, for it is important that we should know the precise line between our authority, to know where the jurisdiction of the one ends and the other begins.’  A man of this disposition and feeling would want a rule and tape-line to draw his line of jurisdiction on the ground and stake it out.  Then it would be, Bishop you must toe this line, and President you must keep your side of it.  No familiarity.  You must not tread on my toes, remember that.

Now, I have had experience in these matters to some little extent, by visiting and attempting to regulate, explain and set in order these difficulties.  At one place, containing about three hundred families, the President held the doctrine that the Bishop was a mere temporal officer, and therefore he had no right or business to talk on the Sabbath day on temporal matters.  If he wished to talk about donations, emigration, teams, building meeting-houses, or of Tithing, he was told that that was temporal business and that he must call a meeting on a week day.  Elder E. T. Benson and myself went to that place after they had been contending upon this subject, and it had become well understood that no man must talk there on temporal subjects on the Sabbath day.  But we occupied the whole day in telling how to make bread, build cities, make farms, fences, and in fact we told them how to do every useful thing that we could think of.  We asserted that a certain amount of temporal preparation was necessary in order that a man might enjoy his religion.  We also asserted, that if a man made no preparations for the future he was constantly subjected to annoyances.  For instance, a man lives in one of our agricultural villages, and he makes little or no preparation for taking care of what he has around him; he neglects to fence his field and stack-yard.  Now, I have thought that a man could not enjoy his religion as he should do unless he had a good fence around his field and stack-yard; for if he has no fence, or only a poor one, when he gets ready for praying there is perhaps a rap at the door, and when the door is opened, the message delivered is, ‘there are twenty head of cattle destroying your wheat in your stack-yard.’  ‘The Devil there is,’ says the man, ‘and whose are they?’  He puts them in the astray pound, and he puts an exorbitant tax upon them, and charges the pound-keeper not to let them go until he gets this pay, say, damages to the amount of $50.  The next thing is, another neighbor who is religious also, but perhaps a little later in his devotions, is aroused by the report, ‘your cattle are all in the astray pound and there is $50 damage against them.’  ‘The Devil they are, who put them there?’  Why bother —–; his feelings of reverence and devotion have been badly shaken by this report, he rises from his prayerful mood in a rage and uses very violent language; and, suffice it to say, that much trouble is caused by men not having a good fence, and it is exceedingly doubtful whether many men can preserve an even temper of mind under such circumstances.  Now, all this was the result of ignorance.  If that Presidency had known their duties they would never have closed a meeting without asking the Bishop if he had anything to say, or any business to attend to; it was a matter of courtesy and of duty also; and instead of pulling against each other they should have united and all pulled together for the accomplishment of the same object.  For this reason we have had to organize several Branches with a Bishop and his counsellors only, and, as I express it sometimes in the settlements where I visit, we have had to use a wheel-barrow instead of a six horse coach.  The Bishop must do this, that and the other, in fact everything.  He must preach, collect the Tithing; for if we set another man to assist him, men are so ignorant, they have learned so little that they will immediately start up and strive for the mastery, and hence contentions have risen among the brethren acting in the capacity of Bishops and Presidents.

In most of the settlements there have been quorums of High Priests organized, and they call meetings and watch over each other, blow the coal and keep the fire alive within each other’s bosoms, and see if they can keep one another wide awake.  The same thing has occurred in reference to the Seventies, and the organizations are very numerous.  Well, the question arises have these Quorums a right to call meetings at the same time the President has called a public meeting of the whole Branch?  Here comes a question of jurisdiction.  For instance, when half of the males in a Branch are Seventies, the President of the Mass Quorum notifies that they are to have a meeting at 10 or 11 o’clock, the very hour that the President of the Branch has his meeting.  Has the President of the Seventies a right to do this?  No, he has not; it is a discourtesy.  Every Qkuorum should so arrange its appointments that there will be no difficulty, no necessity for any law to regulate the matter, but that of common decency and common manhood, and it does seem that a man with less than half a share of discernment could see that while the meeting called byi the President is going on all the Branch ought to be there, and therefore that ther should be no other meeting holden at the same time.

Brethren, we should so arrange our appointments when our High Priests and whatever other Quorums meet, as not to conflict, and in this way have and show our respect to the President of the Branch.  Have our meetings of course, but submit to the President of the Branch as the first to be attended to, and then have our other meetings subordinate in point of time.

Well, now, almost any man in the world would say that a man is a fool that would raise such a question, but men that have been ordained Elders, High Priests and Seventies are just such teachers, for when, for the time that they should be teachers, they have need to be taught, for the seem to operate like children and pull against each other; they labor to define each others duties, to mark out the whereabouts of the line of demarcation, whereas they should each and every one strive to build up the kingdom of God, and so live as to enjoy the Holy Spirit; each man should strive to be humble instead of exalting himself; instead of drawing the line and saying I belong just here and nobody must interfere with my rights, he should feel to sustain the hands of his brethren.  I will here say that there have been places where these two organizations have existed for years without any difficulty, and there are other places where the two have existed at the same time, and the matter has been taken up by the people and worked at until it has been found necessary to reduce the organization by uniting the Presidency and Bishopric in one person, or, as I term it, the wheelbarrow arrangement, or if you please, a three wheeled coach.

There was one settlement where the people got so very wise that the Bishop had to have two sets of counsellors, and they had to be selected according to the wishes of the parties that took sides with the President, or rather that were in favor of having one, and then those who were willing to be contented with a Bishop had to have their choice, and thus was formed what I call an unlimited democracy.

The fact is that as soon as the brethren can realize that they are to be servants of God, and that it is their individual duty, to sustain each other and put away that jealousy which in many cases, exists at the present time, and which in fact is the chief cause of all this trouble; and so soon as they find that they are not to be as large as they desire to be, and as they think they ought to be, it will be found that these organizations will be increased in numbers; they will also increase in faith, in good works and in power and influence with the heavens, and if they will be faithful the idea will be fairly illustrated that a man with a wheelbarrow cannot travel as fast nor accomplish as much as the man who drives a four horse coach.  Still, I know, that owing to the ignorance and short-sightedness of the people, a case of this kind will occasionally occur.  There seems to be a disposition to put everything in a nut shell.  For instance, a few years ago, there were some Bishops sent out of Salt Lake City to explain to the country Bishops their duties.  These brethren would go into a settlement where there were both a Bishop and a President, and they would go on and tell the Bishops what there duties were, and in doing so, embrace the whole circle of duties required of both Bishop and President, and never think that in that Branch of the Church those duties were not united or centred in one man but divided between two.  And in some instances, there would be a sort of half sharp-looking fellow get up and ask what the President was to do, if all those explained and fully defined duties were centred in the Bishop.  ‘O,’ they would say, ‘we were not sent to instruct anybody but the Bishops;’ and as might be expected, the result was a contention, if not among the authorities, among the people, and I had some of these difficulties to settle, and I found that the best way to do it was to dispense with one of the officers.

There are several stakes of Zion in the country, where High Councils have been organized, composed of twelve Councillors and a President of the Stake and his two Counsellors, in settlements where, in the commencement, the inhabitants were very small in numbers, and it was natural that some member of the Council should represent or be personally interested in each and every party in the town that might be litigant before that body.  In some such instances it has become necessary to dissolve the High Council altogether.  The fact is, that every High Council should have enough of the Spirit of the Lord with them to investigate every case, so that when the decision is given, it will be the decision of Heaven.  Instead of this, little petty disputes arise among the brethren, and two or three members of the Council, perhaps, would have their minds made up beforehand what they would do.  There is one thing I have noticed in regard to High Councils; the organization is well understood.  One portion of the Council takes the side of justice and investigates the facts in the case, presenting them as they should be presented by an honest attorney; then the other portion of the Council brings up the defence and shows what the side of mercy is, in an unprejudiced manner.  After the Council have investigated the subject before them thoroughly, the case is submitted by both complainant and defendant.  There have been cases where men have tried to drag in attorneys to plead their cause before these councils, and in some instances, it has been permitted.  If this kind of practice were allowed, and petty-fogging, contriving lawyers allowed to practice before the High Councils, the organization of heaven would soon be superseded altogether.  I wish to see all High Councillors magnify their own callings.  I do not know that I would carry out this rule strictly myself, but I believe that, if I were a judge, and a lawyer were to come before me and assert an absolute lie, and I should find it out, I never would allow him to plead in my presence again; I should set him down as a lawyer not of good moral character, and not legally entitled to be a member of the bar.  It appears that I have got off from religion to law, still I believe that however a man may try to pour on the oil and soft soap, the decision of the High Council will be according to the principles of equity.  If there is to be an investigation before a council of this kind, it is the duty of that body of men to strive to learn the truth for the sake of doing justice to both parties; and if a man for the sake of a fee, for the sake of gain, if bound and will come into court or council, and state a lie, he has no business there, and I am sorry to believe, if this principle was tried, it would pinch some of our brethren who have dabbled in the law.  {President B. Young: I wish it would pinch them to death.}

I believe that there never was a more correct organization of a court on earth than our High Councils, for these men go to work and investigate a case, hear the testimony pro and con, the Councillors for each party litigant present the case, it is submitted to the President who sums up, gives his decision and calls on the Council to sanction it by their vote, and if they are not united, they have to go to work and try the case over again in order that they may ascertain more perfectly the facts in the case and be united in their decision.  Why, all the courts in the world are boobies compared to it.  It is an organization that shows its own authenticity and divine origin.

Perhaps it is not well for me to further describe the operation of the High Council, but I will take the liberty of saying that men occupying this high position in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should constantly cultivate the principle of justice and study to know what is right and what is wrong, always keeping within them the Spirit of the Almighty.  If they have got prejudices against anybody, they should do as the President said yesterday.  And so long as a man acts upon this principle upon which President Young gave us instruction, he has me for a friend, and just so sure as a man comes up without envy or prejudice, simply to learn what is right, and I understand my position and my duty, and so long as I can vindicate myself, I will put that man in the path of right and in the way of salvation.”  (George A. Smith, 7 Apr., 1862; JD 10:59-64)

“Ask a Bishop by what authority he is acting as a Bishop; ‘I suppose I am a Bishop according to the Priesthood.’  By what Priesthood do you act as a Bishop?  ‘I really cannot answer that question.’  Are you a High Priest?  ‘Yes.’  Why do you so officiate?  ‘Because I have been ordained to so officiate; the First Presidency ordered Bishop Hunter to ordain me a High Priest, and set me apart to be a Bishop in this district.’  After a person is ordained a High Priest he then has authority to act in all the duties of the lesser Priesthood, when called uopn by the proper authority so to do.  Some of the Bishops understand their true position and some do not, for which reason a few remarks in addition to those I made this forenoon will, perhaps, not be amiss.

There is no retrograde movement in ordaining a High Priest to the office of a Bishop, for, properly speakingk, he is set apart to act in that office.  When we ordain a man to officiate in a branch of the Church as a Bishop, he does so according to the best of his knowledge; and now and then one believes that he has a right, when ordained as a Bishop, to officiate and preside over every temporal and spiritual interest in his district by virtue of his Bishopric; he believes that he ought to go into a Seventies’ Council in his Ward and preside because he is a Bishop: and under this impression he dictates, guides and directs all things in his district; he baptized, confirms and administers the sacrament as a Bishop, performing, under this impression, every spiritual and temporal duty.  Were we to inquire of the Bishops of this Church what duties are assigned to the Aaronic Priesthood they hold, and what are assigned to the Melchisedek, those who could answer correctly are in the minority.  I am satisfied of this, for I have been placed in positions that made it necessary to propound questions to some of our most intelligent Bishops relating to misunderstandings and difficulties that have occurred in their districts touching their authority, when their answers convinced me that they knew little about it; perhaps from not having an opportunity of finding out, or, in a word, they have not so lived that the heavens have been opened to them to teach them so fully and effectually their duties that they need no man to teach them.  The duties and powers of a Bishop cease the very moment he steps over the Aaronic Priesthood, which is to officiate in temporal things; when he passes this he immediately begins to officiate by the authority and power of the Melchisedek Priesthood, though he may not know it.

We have scroes of branches of this Church in different parts of this country, and had we better now place officers, helps and governments in these branches, or wait till the people come to understanding, and learn to appreciate and honor such appointments?  It is chiefly because of the ignorance of the people that we often concentrate in one man these different offices and callings, but when the people are sufficiently informed and have advanced further in the knowledge of the truth, it will not be so, but every branch will have its full quota of officers–a Patriarch, President, Bishop, High Council, and all officers that are necessary for the work of the Ministry, and the edifying of the body of Christ.  Until the people can receive and honor these helps and governments, and be benefited by them, the different offices will be concentrated in as few men as possible, for men will contend for power, and as to which shall be the greatest, until they are better informed.

If the people fully understood and would observe the relationship these offices have to each other, there would never be a word of altercation.  In this city we have no altercation about authorities.  We but seldom get up a trouble for a High Council case.  When the people come to sufficient understanding, we shall not put the onerous task upon one man to act both as President and Bishop, but we will give you a full organization of helps, governments, &c.; but at present we shall take a course to confine the offices of the Church in such a manner as to give the least cause for contention and trouble.  There are men who have a contentious disposition; they will contend against a Bishop, a Magistrate, a Judge, or any man holding an office; in short, they wish to destroy every power in Heaven and on earth that they do not hold themselves.  This is the spirit of Satan that was made so visibly manifest in Heaven and which proved his overthrow, and he now afflicts this people with it; he wants to dictate and rule every principle and power that leads to exaltation and eternal life, and those whom he influences wish to walk underfoot every person who stands in authority over them.”  (Brigham Young, 7 Apr., 1862)

8 Apr.:  Fellowship w/world means farewell to Priesthood.

“There is nothing that would so soon weaken my hope and discourage me as to see this people in full fellowship with the world, and receive no more persecution from them because they are one with them.  In such an event, we might bid farewell to the Holy Priesthood with all its blessings, privileges and aids to exaltations, principalities and powers in the eternities of the Gods.”  (Brigham Young, 8 Apr., 1862; JD 10:32)

8 Apr.:  Both a Bishop and President for every Ward.

“Let us from this time strive more diligently to overcome our own evil passions.  We may talk about Priesthood, about power and authority, about blessings and exaltations, about the kingdom of God upon the earth, about gathering the house of Israel, about redeeming Zion and enjoying its fulness, about preparing for the coming of the Son of Man and enjoying celestial glory with him, but all this is vain if we do not sanctify ourselves before God, and sanctify the Lord our God in our hearts.  We wish you fully to comprehend this; and when you go from this Conference, we do not wish to hear of contentions.  And as soon as Elders have wisdom sufficient to magnify their calling and Priesthood, we will give to every Branch, no matter how shall the Ward, both a Bishop and a President.”  (Brigham Young, 8 Apr., 1862; JD 10:33)

4 May:  Mode of re-baptism.

“True repentance requires restitution to the injured, and such satisfaction as the wrong demands.  For by this you may know that a man truly repents of his sins, and that the Father has forgiven them in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ.  There are people out of the church and in it, who are stubborn and will not make satisfaction to those they have injured, disobeyed or neglected, and will welter [?] under it for weeks and months before they will make a humble acknowledgement to give satisfaction to the injured party.  Remission of sins is given by giong down into the water with an authorized servant of God, who, after saying, ‘Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in water for the remission of your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,’ immerse him in the water.  After this ordinance has been administered, remission of sins is as sure as repentance and restitution has been truly made.  This is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth and practiseth it; which will be in them and round about them, until they are full of the living oracles and attributes of the Father and the Son.”  (Heber C. Kimball, 4 May, 1862; DN 11(47):370, 21 May, 1862)

19 Jun.:  Priesthood restored by Peter, James and John.

“In the beginning of this Church, Jesus sent Peter, James, and John, who committed the power unto Joseph; and then he engrafted it into us.”  (Heber C. Kimball, 19 Jun., 1862; JD 9:153)

27 Jul.:  Priesthood restored by Peter, James and John.

“I do not care how illiterate an Elder in this Church is, if he has been faithful to his calling; it is a matter I care but little about if a man can neither read nor write, if he has been called and ordained to the Priesthood in this Church and kingdom by Joseph Smith, or any of those ordained by him to that Priesthood which was given unto the Prophet by Peter, James and John, who by commandment came and ordained him to the Melchisedec Priesthood.  John the Baptist held the Aaronic Priesthood, and the authority commenced there, and by those men that held the keys of the kingdom of God in former dispensations.  It is that authority that has inspired this; it is this that has inspired the Elders of Israel from the commencement to the present day.”  (Wilford Woodruff, 27 Jul., 1862; JD 10:11-12)

27 Jul.:  I only asked for an office once.

“In regard to holding office in the Priesthood, I can truly say that I never asked any man for any office in this Church, and I believe I never asked the Lord but once, and my asking the Lord came about in this way.  I went up to Missouri in Zion’s camp; I saw the Prophet every day, and I knew he was a Prophet of God.  About this time I had a great anxiety to preach the Gospel; this desire increased upon me, and I finally resolved to ask the Lord to open my way, so I went down into a hickory grove and prayed, during which I asked him to give me the privilege to preach the Gospel.  I prayed fervently to the Almighty to give me the privilege of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and when I got through praying I started for the place from when I came, and I had not walked more than about forty rods before I met a High Priest, and the first thing he said to me was, ‘It is the will of the Lord that you go and preach the Gospel.’  I told him I was ready and willing to do anything the Lord required of me; I was therefore ordained a Priest and sent to labor in Arkansas.”  (Wilford Woodruff, 27 Jul., 1862; JD 10:14)

3 Aug.:  Definition of Priesthood.

“The Priesthood of the Son of God to the children of men is a perfect system of government–a heavenly institution among men–designed to bring them back into the presence of God to partake of the fulness of his glory.  The power of all truth dwells in the bosom of our Father and God, which he dispenses to his children as he will, by the means of his eternal Priesthood.  He is enthroned in the light, glory and power of truth.  He has abided the truth, and is thereby exalted, and his power, light and glory are eternal.  The Gospel and the Priesthood are the means he employs to save and exalt his obedient children to the possession with him of the same glory and power, to be crowned with crowns of glory, immortality and eternal lives.”  (Brigham Young, 3 Aug., 1862; JD 9:330)

6 Aug.:  Joseph Smith pres. of High Priesthood in 1831.

“The following succinct history of the Prophet Joseph Smith, jun., and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was written in March, 1855, for publication in the People’s Journal, in compliance with a request made by the publishers, Tonsly and Cowin, to President Brigham Young; but inasmuch as it did not appear in that paper, it was, by consent of the author, [George A. Smith] published in the Deseret News Sept. 5th, 1855. . . .

In June, 1831, a conference was held at Kirtland; a number of the elders were ordained High Priests by Joseph Smith, he being president of the high priesthood and of the whole church, being called of the Lord like unto Moses, a Seer, Revelator, Translator, and Prophet; and it was his privilege to have two counselors, to act as assistant presidents, which form the First Presidency of the church.”

(DN 12(6):42, 6 Aug., 1862)

6 Aug.:  We are persecuted because we have the priesthood.

“It is freqently asked, ‘What is the reason of your being driven from place to place?’

Because we have the priesthood of the Son of God, and all the world is opposed to it.

‘For what were you driven from jackson County, Missouri?’

For preaching and trying to practice the gospel of life and salvation.”

(“Catechetical Illustrations of the Faith and Teachings of the Saints,” DN 12(6):48, 6 Aug., 1862)

6 Oct.:  Not a fully organized Ward in this Territory.

“I sometimes think that I would be willing to give anything, to do almost anything in reason, to see one fully organized Branch of this kingdom–or a fully organized Ward.  ‘But,’ says one, ‘I had supposed that the kingdom of God was organized long ago.’  So it is, in one sense; and again, in another sense it is not.  Wheresoever this Gospel has been preached and people have received it, the spiritual kingdom is set up and organized, but is Zion organized?  No.  Is there even in this Territory a fully organized Ward?  Not one.  It may be asked, ‘Why do you not fully organize the Church?’  Because the people are incapable of being organized.  I could organize a large Ward who would be subject to a full organization, by selecting faimlies from the different Wards, but at present such a Branch of the Church is not in existence.”  (Brigham Young, 6 Oct., 1862; JD 10:20)

6 Oct.:  Wards to be organized under ‘order of Zion.’

“The Saints might stay in England, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Islands of the Sea, and organize and build up the kingdom of God, but is Zion organized?  No, it is not.  There is not a Ward in this Territory that is organized according to the order of Zion, but the time would come when this order would be established in every town, village and hamlet throughout the land of Joseph.”  (Brigham Young, Minutes of Semi-Annual General Conference, 6 Oct., 1862; DN 12(16):124, 15 Oct., 1862)

8 Oct.:  OK to organize more 70s quorums.

“President Joseph Young asked some counsel from President Brigham Young in relation to organizing more  Quorums of Seventies.  The President said if it were needed, all right.”  (Minutes of a council meeting of the 1st Pres., 12 and presiding 70s; JH 8 Oct., 1862)

26 Oct.:  Teachers to act as Policemen.

“Meeting at President Young’s School House.  Presidents Young Kimball and Wells, the Twelve and Bishops met and made arrangements to establish a uniformity of prices, etc.

President Brigham Young said that he had but a few remarks to make.  In the first place he wished to say that he considered it important that some regulations should be made in each Ward of this city by which the people might be kept from association with the troop that have come into our city.  To this end he recommended that the Teachers of the several Wards should be constituted policemen to look after the interests of the people, and that there be added to the present number in each Ward sufficient to make the aggregate in each Ward 36; that if these Teachers became suspicious of any person in their Wards they should watch them day and night until they learned what they were doing and who frequented their houses.  If they found any of the sisters going to Camp, no matter under what pretence, they should cast them forth from the Church forthwith.  He also wished them to select and appoint a committee of one or two in each Ward to agree upon and make known to the Wards a list of prices, to have the people do all their trading with the Camp through that committee, so that a standard price would be established for every article.

The Bishops were instructed to attend to these matters on that evening, as far as practicable.”  (JH 26 Oct., 1862)

6 Dec.:  Reformation loudly called for.


There has never been a time when greater faith and diligence, sincerer devotion and a stronger determination to practice righteousness was demanded on the part of the Priesthood and Saints than at the present.  Everything indicates the rapid approach of great and important events, and seasons of trial that will test to the uttermost the faith of all who have professed a membership in the Church of Christ, and prove the stability of the foundation on which they are building.  At no previous time in our ministry in these lands, have we felt so much the necessity of being on the alert ourself, or of exhorting others to be on the alert.  We have strong reasons to believe that evils have been permitted to creep in unchecked among the Priesthood and Saints which are withering and deadening in their effects, and that many have thereby lost to a great extent the Spirit of God–that, indeed, with many our holy religion has become a dead form, sectarian in its nature, and wanting the life and power of the Holy Spirit.  This condition could only have been reached by the commission of sins which have grieved that Spirit, until it has forsaken those who once enjoyed it, and they are left in a worse condition than if they had never rendered obedience to the Gospel, having sinned against knowledge and turned away from righteousness.  We have felt that there is a necessity for a reformation on the part of the Elders and the Saints.  The Spirit whispers to us that the Priesthood must repent of their transgressions or the anger of the Lord will be poured out upon them.  There are those who occupy leading positions who ought to repent and humble themselves before God.  And, by the help of the Lord, we mean to do everything in our power to uproot iniquity from the midst of the Priesthood and Saints.  We have commenced with this office, and we feel determined to continue until there is that thorough reformation which we feel is needed throughout the entire Mission.  We greatly fear that if there is not a change in the feelings of the Saints, and in their devotion to their religion, it will not be long before the faithful Priesthood from Zion will be drawn from their midst, and they be left to themselves.  There is a spirit of formal sectarianism creeping in and taking possession of them, in many places, which if not speedily checked will result in the worst of consequences.  This arises to a great extent from their refusing to obey the commandments of God.  Its effects are blighting and soul-destroying, and would bring down the just anger of God on any people who indulge in it.

When the Saints first joined the Church in these lands the Branches were full of life and spirit.  The gifts and blessings of God were bestowed in great abundance and power; and the people rejoiced exceedingly in his goodness in revealing the Gospel in its fulness unto them.  The sick were healed; the spirit of prophecy was poured out; visions and dreams were enjoyed; the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues were not uncommon; the gifts of wisdom and discernment and knowledge were sought for and obtained.  Every Saint felt upon joining the Church to take to heart the exhortation of an Apostle of old–an exhortation which was reiterated once more by living servants of God in the ears of living men and women, to ‘contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints.’  Fast and prayer meetings were held in the Branches to beseech the Lord to pour out the gifts of his Spirit even as he had promised; and those who sought in this manner obtained all they sought for; and from one end of the land to the other, wherever Branches of the Church existed, there was heard the sounds of thanksgiving unto God for having restored his Church once more to the earth, endowed with a living Priesthood and blessed with the power and gifts which the ancient Saints enjoyed.  This happy condition of things continued for years.  Those of the Saints who were faithful and lived up to their religion gathered to Zion, and there continued in their onward growth.  But there were many who did not feel that it was so important to obey that commandment of God.  They had the blessings of God in these lands.  This seemingly satisfied them.  They appeared to have no conception that there were blessings to be obtained in Zion to which those they had received here were only a foretaste.  They neglected, therefore, to avail themselves of the privilege God offered to them of gathering out from the nations of the earth and being associated with his chosen people.  The result has been, that in almost every old Branch throughout the land, there are remaining some individuals who have had a membership in those Branches from the time of their first organization.  The living, active faith which obtained so many gifts and blessings in the beginning, and which needed for its continued growth a continued obedience to the commandments of God, has become dead.  A spirit which is not the true spirit of Zion has taken the place of the Spirit of God; and the result is that they stand as members of the Church of Christ more from habit and association than from any real, heart-felt devotion and love for the principles, or any deep enjoyment of the true Spirit of the Gospel.  They go to their meetings as a matter of form and habit, just as they would to any sectarian meeting, yet lacking the zeal and sincerity which characterize the devotion and worship of many among the sectarians; they pray to God with their lips while their hearts are not engaged in it; they are pleased when some Elder more eloquent, perhaps, than others of his brethren preaches, because their ears are tickled with his words, but their hearts are not searching after the principles of truth he may teach to profit by them; and if they are warmed up for a moment under the influence which surrounds them, till they feel somewhat like they felt when they were younger members of the Church, it is chilled to death by the cold formality into which they have sunk, and they are satisfied with the nominal membership they possess, seeking not to possess that fulness of the Spirit of the Gospel by which alone they can enjoy communion with God.

All the old members of the Branches are not in this condition.  There are some who have diligently and unceasingly laboured to effect their deliverance from Babylon, and in whose bosoms the light of the Gospel exists and burns as brightly as it ever did.  But such cases are the exceptions and not the rule.  Wherever there is a large proportion of these old, dried-up, formal members, they effectually check and deaden the growth of faith and the increase of the Spirit among the Saints who belong to the Branch with which they are associated.  in conversing a few days ago with an intelligent gentleman, who had been investigating and fully believed our principles, we were informed by him that some persons who were nominal members of the Church had taken a course to stifle and crush out what little faith he had, rather than to increase and strengthen it.  He said, had he been governed by their influence, relying upon their experience as the true experience of faithful Saints, he would have been deterred forever from joining the Church; but his knowledge of the principles enabled him to discern that they who thus endeavoured to influence him were themselves infidels thereto, and that the Spirit promised unto those who should live godly in Christ Jesus, if it had ever had an existence within them had entirely departed from their bosoms.  This case illustrates the principle of which we are speaking.  When new members join a Branch, their new-born zeal and love are effectually damped and stunted by the unwise remarks and the pernicious influences brought to bear upon them by those who should be nursing guardians to them if in possession of the right spirit, and to whom they naturally look up in consequence of their many years’ connection with the Church.  Hence we see at the present time, in nearly all the old Branches throughout this land, an absence of that faith and spirit and power which always prevail where the Saints of God live up to their privileges in meekness and humility.  There is an absence of that comprehension of the Gospel–of that growth in the understanding of its principles which always characterizes those who possess the Spirit of the Lord in its fulness.

Now, this condition of things cannot be always continued.  The servants of God cannot always be expected to labour among a people who do not appreciate their presence.  The meek and the honest and the faithful Latter-day Saints will be gathered out.  They will continue to enjoy that Spirit which they have received through their obedience to the Gospel; while those who have neglected to cultivate that Spirit will grow harder and harder of heart, and be filled with greater unbelief, until they will fall into complete darkness.

We feel, as a servant of God, to lift up our voice and solemnly warn the Priesthood and Saints of the necessity there is that they should humble themselves before the Lord.  If they are practising sin or indulging in anything that grieves the Spirit of the Lord, let them repent and utterly and sincerely forsake all such wrong-doing before it is too late.  We know that the day is now come, when, if they do not utterly forsake their sins and turn unto the Lord with full purpose of heart, his Spirit will be taken from them and given to another people, and they will remain under the condemnation of God.  You may think that your sin is not known, that you can cover it up, but be assured that no effort of yours can conceal it from God, or can prevent his Spirit from communicating it to his servants.  We again repeat, that the Lord being our helper, we will not cease our efforts to have sin and iniquity rooted out from among the Saints of God and those bearing the Holy Priesthood.  The Elders should take the initiative by putting away every evil from themselves, that the power of God may rest upon them to aid in purifying the Saints.”  (Editorial [George Q. Cannon, editor], MS 24(49):776-779, 6 Dec., 1862)

13 Dec.:  Cleansing of the Branches needed.

“For two years past, and upwards, the Elders have been counselled to take a mild and conciliatory course in all their dealings with the people.  They have been required to bear with patience any departures from the law of the Gospel–to plead with the people, bear with their imperfections, and not to be hasty in excommunicating them from the Church.  And this policy has been so thoroughly adopted by the Elders generally, that in most of the Conferences there has scarcely been an individual cut off since this course was counselled.  The result has been, that there is a class of persons who retain a nominal membership in the Church who by their actions have cut themselves off from all communication with the Spirit of God.  We do not feel here to say to the Elders, Be harsh and severe with the people; but we feel to say, Let not your disposition to be kind and forbearing suffer you to countenance flagrant wrongs on the part of those who are numbered among the Latter-day Saints.  If men and women in the Church will not live the lives of Saints, but will absent themselves from meetings and pursue a course which you know is abhorrent to the Spirit of the Lord, and to all persons actuated by it, take the necessary steps to warn them of their danger and of the necessity of repenting.  If they repent, then you have saved them and they will bless you for the interest you have taken in them; but if they will not repent, and persist, despite your counsels and warnings, in their evil course, then take the necessary steps to sever them from the Church.  We feel it is time, after so long a season of leniency and forbearance, that the dead branches should be lopped off the tree; and to do this and do it properly, wisdom must be exercised.  Be not hasty, neither adopt a severe policy, yet be firm and remember that you are placed to watch over the work of God and to see that it does not receive injury by the course of those who are professedly connected with it.  When a man or a woman belonging to the Church is taking a wrong course, see that he or she be visited by the Teachers–officers appointed in every Branch for this purpose.  If it should be convenient, visit them all yourselves also; but, at any rate, be sure that nothing is left undone to warn them faithfully of the danger they are in.  If they do not repent then, bring the matter before the officers of the Branch, having first notified the transgressors of your intention to do so, and take the necesary action upon their cases.  No Branch President, however, should proceed in this matter, to the full extremity, only under the counsel of the President of Conference; and let the Presidents of Conferences where they are labouring under the direction of a District President, lay the matter before him, that having the benefit of the united wisdom of all they may act righteously.Whenever it shall be necessary to excommunicate a person from the Church, be careful that the proper record of the testimony of the witnesses to the cause for which he or she shall be excommunicated, be entered in plainness on the Branch Record.  We wish care to be taken in this respect, because, when the Elders have gone to Zion who have acted upon their cases, and others have come and taken their places, those persons may then say that they were cut off unjustly; and if there be no record to which reference can be made, the Elders will have no means of disproving their statements.”  (Editorial [George Q. Cannon, editor], MS 24(50):793-794, 13 Dec., 1862)