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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1879

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1879.” You can view other years here.

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1879:    4 Jan.:  Salt Lake Stake priesthood numbers.

“The Statistical Report of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion for the quarter ending November 30th, 1878, was read, showing as follows:

Apostles, 7; Counselors to the Twelve Apostles, 2; Patriarchs, 6; Seventies, 1,130; High Priests, 483; Elders, 1,643; Priests, 149; Teachers, 174; Deacons, 665; Members, 10,428; Total, Officers and Members, 14,687; Children under eight years, 5,528; Total of souls, 20,215; . . . Excommunicated, 12.”

(Salt Lake Stake Conference minutes, 4 Jan., 1879; DN 27(49):780, 8 Jan., 1879)

5 Jan.:  Quorum meetings not to be on Sundays.

“President Angus M. Cannon said that it was complained that quorum meetings were held on Sunday mornings and thus drew away teachers and others from Sunday schools.  He trusted that such meetings would be held in future, as far as possible, at such times as would not interfere with any of the public gatherings of the Saints.”  (Salt Lake Stake Conference minutes, 5 Jan., 1879; DN 27(49):780, 8 Jan., 1879)

6 Jan.:  God took MP from the Israelites.

“Moses went before the king of Egypt and the powers thereof, and delivered the message that God had given unto him.  It was not a very agreeable message for them to hear, nor a very pleasant one for him to communicate.  But he was a man of God and had the fear of God before him; the Lord had selected him as an instrument, and although comprehending his weaknesses he shrank not from the responsibility, but went forth in the name of Israel’s God to perform the commission committed to his care, and he delivered the Israelites.  It is true they were rebellious and ignorant, and it is true they were self-willed, and many of them were very corrupt; it is true they could not endure the light of the blessings of the Gospel; and it is also true that when God would have made of them a kingdom of priests they could not receive that priesthood, nor be governed by its influence.  He then took from them the Melchisedec Priesthood, leaving them the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood, because they would not and were not competent to magnify the duties of the greater, and of that they were necessarily deprived.  What then?  God did the best he could with them as he has done with every nation and every people; he, however, sent prophets among them from time to time.”  (John Taylor, 6 Jan., 1879; JD 20:113-114)

6 Jan.:  Our order of priesthood exists in the heavens.

“You Elders of Israel who meet together in the capacity of a Conference, you have had the priesthood conferred upon you.  Where did it come from?  From the Lord.  The Aaronic Priesthood was delivered by John the Baptist, who held it in former times upon the earth.  He communicated that to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  And then Peter, James and John, who had operated in the Melchizedek Priesthood in their day, came and conferred it upon them, then the apostleship was organized, and then the order of the priesthood was manifested unto us as it exists in the heavens.”  (John Taylor, 6 Jan., 1879; JD 20:116-117)

8 Jan.:  MP restored in 1829, not 1831.

“Elder Joseph F. Smith lectured on early Church history.  The following report of the same was published in the ‘Salt Lake Herald’ of Jan. 9th as follows:


A large audience attended the lecture of Elder Joseph F. Smith last evening and were highly interested by an agreeable narration of the principal incidents in the early history of the ‘Mormon’ church.  The lecture occupied nearly two hours in delivery, and was listened to throughout with the greatest attention.  The following is a brief synopsis of the lecture as it would be impossible to do justice to it without giving a full and verbatim report: 

. . . .

The Melchisedeck Priesthood was bestowed sometime in 1829 and not in 1831 as had crept into some works through an error.”  (JH 8 Jan., 1879)

9 Jan.:  Questions concerning Church Courts.

“A Bishops’ meeting was held at the Council House at 6:30 p.m. . . . Bishop John H. Smith inquired if a bishop was under obligation to entertain a complaint by an outsider against a member of the church for letting a debt be outlawed and refusing to renew his obligation.  Counselor Joseph E. Taylor said if a bishop were to refuse to entertain a complaint between two brethren he would be liable to a charge being made against him before the High Council for dereliction of duty, but he would not be so liable to a charge by an outsider.  He thought no general rule could be made for the guidance of Bishops in these matters, but much must be left to their descretion.  Bishop Edward Hunter related his early experience before and since he became a member of the Church.  He never went to law but once and then he accomplished nothing satisfactory by it.  The laws of the country were good, but the law of God was so much superior and adapted to meet every emergency, especially pertaining to the settlement of difficulties.  When cases were settled by the leser priesthood, the agency of the parties was brought to bear in the matter, but when brought before Bishops’ court or the High Council, the case was decided but not settled, and the parties gave up their agency.  He would rather suffer wrong than give up his agency, or the privilege of exercising it in settling disputes.  Bishops Harrison Sperry, Edwin D. Woolley and Samuel A. Woolley and Counselor Joseph E. Taylor remarked on paying or evading honest debt, the prevailing sentiment being that no Latter-day Saint could justifiably conceal himself behind the limitation law to the injury of those who had befriended him in time of need, and no honest man would refuse to renew his note before his obligation became outlawed by that act.”  (JH 9 Jan., 1879)

1 Feb.:  Duties of Bishops/Home Missionaries.

“Met again at 2 P.M. when I spoke for 1 1/2 hours  touched on Tithing assessments & payments  made full explanation thereof – sowing grain &c – use of Tabacco among our young also drinking Wine  councelled the Bps to work these matters to a test for Temple blessings & holding offices in the Priesthood.  wished the Home Missionaries to travel & fill their calling & talk of these & sundry matters to the people.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 1 Feb., 1879)

1 Feb.:  Role of ordained teachers in settling disputes.

“A meeting of the Priesthood of this [SL] Stake was held in the 14th Ward assembly rooms on Saturday, February 1st, commencing at 11 a.m. . . .

Remarks were made on the nature and office of peace-makers, and the gratifying result that had attended the presidency of the Stake and others when laboring in that calling; the disposition of some to anticipate the counsel and policy of the servants of God, instead of waiting patiently till the word of the Lord came and then unswervingly performing it; the advisability of localizing the labors of Teachers and throwing the full responsibility of their callings upon them, that they might be aware of the condition of the saints under their charge and be able to note any changes, either statistical or from a spiritual standpoint that might occur among the saints under their jurisdiction, and be able to check evil and ill feeling in its incipiency; also of the bishops assisting the teachers in cases that required special attention, and of their visiting the Saints generally throughout their wards as often as practicable.”  (DN 28(1):9, 5 Feb., 1879)

2 Mar.:  Never a more perfect organization than now.

“I do not know of a time when there was a more perfect organization of the priesthood on the earth than there is to-day.  There may have been in the days of Enoch, and there may have been upon this continent in those days when there were no rich nor poor, but when they had all things common among them, and every one dealt justly one with another; but I do not know, because there is not among us any record of the fact.  And what is this organization for?  Is it for my individual interests?  I do not so understand it.  Is it in the interest of the Twelve?  I think not.  Or in the interest of the presidents of STakes or any of the bishops, or any individual?  No, but it is in the interest of God and humanity, to assist in establishing righteousness upon the earth, and union and fellowship one with another, and to elevate us in the scale of society, and that we may stand head and shoulders in all other matters, as we now do in regard to our religious sentiments, that Zion may be the head and not the tail, and that God may be honored by us and through us and among us, and that we may in very deed be the ‘Zion of God,’ which means the pure in heart.”  (John Taylor, 2 Mar., 1879; JD 20:163)

3 Mar.:  Panguitch Stake priesthood numbers.

“The statistical report was read, which showed as follows–Patriarchs 1; seventies 33; high priests 40; elders 137; priests 10; teachers 11; deacons 48; members 568; total officers and members 847; children under 8 years 506; total of souls 1,353.”  (Panguitch Stake Conference Minutes, 3 Mar., 1879; DN 28(7):103, 19 Mar., 1879)

9 Mar.:  Gradual unfolding of priesthood organization.

“In regard to our forms of Church government, we are also guided by written and printed revelations.  We were not left to ourselves, to conjecture, or merely to base our opinion, in regard to what the various duties of the officers of the Church are, but the Lord did distinctly point out the duty of an apostle, telling us that that was one of the officers of the Church, that it is his duty to receive revelation–to receive communications from the heavens, as the apostles did in ancient times, and to administer in all of the ordinances of the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and to regulate the Church and watch over the same, and to administer in all spiritual things.  The Lord also pointed out the duties of Elders, and of the lesser priesthiood.  Now we should not have known anything about, what is termed, the ‘lesser priesthood,’ if it had not been for new revelation.  We read about two priesthoods in the Bible; one was called, the ‘higher priesthood’ the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek; the other was called, the ‘lesser priesthood,’ or the priesthood after the order of Aaron, the Levitical priesthood, some would term it.  But we knew nothing about these things only so far as the Lord revealed them.  There were none to take us by the hand, and say to us, ‘we have the priesthood of the Church, we can teach you what the duties of the respective officers are,’ but these things had to be learned anew.

The Lord did not see proper, at the first, to give us the fulness of the authority that he afterwards revealed.  He gave us the lesser priesthood.  And how did he do it?  It was not on the earth.  You might have searched all the various Christian churches, built up among all the nations, and you could not have found among any of them, what is termed, the ‘lesser priestnood,’ after the order of Aaron, and yet we are told, in the Jewish record, (the Bible,) that the priesthood of Aaron is an ‘everlasting priesthood,’ that it wsas intended to be continued while the sun and the moon should endure–that is, when men were acknowledged sufficiently worthy, to have that priesthood on the earth.  It has never died out.  It has been in the heavens all the time.  Death takes no authority of a divine nature, from any human being, when it is once conferred upon him, if he is faithful until death; consequently there were persons in the heavens who held that priesthood, but no one upon the earth, no one that ever pretended to have it, among the Christian denominations.  And the Jewish people, who pretend to have the Levitical priesthood, rejected and do still reject the true Messiah, consequently, their priesthood is null and without authority, and they could not, therefore, administer baptism, for the remission of sins, as John the Baptist did, the forerunner of Christ, who held that priesthood.

There was no other way, therefore, for this priesthood to be established again on the earth, only for it to be sent down from heaven; and the Lord did this.  Without it, all of our ministrations would have been in vain.  We could not have officiated, without some kind of authority, or priesthood.  How did the Lord restore it?  In answer to humble, solemn prayer, before the Church arose, the Lord sent his angel, John the Baptist, to two of his servants, namely, the translator of the work, and also the scribe who was writing from his mouth.  This angel came, and laid his hands upon their heads, and ordained them, unto the same priesthood which he himself held.  They were also instructed, by that angel, concerning the nature of the duties of that priesthood.  They were told that they should baptize the people, as John did in ancient times, for the remission of sins, but they had no power, by this priesthood, to lay their hands upon baptized believers, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; that authority did not belong to the lesser priesthood, but required a greater power than the Levitical priesthood, to administer that divine ordinance, for the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  Therefore these persons could, as yet, only baptize in water; but they sought diligently, knowing from the Bible, and also from the Book of Mormon, which they were translating, that the laying on of the hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, was a sacred and holy ordinance, and that without it, the Church could not be organized on the earth.  Knowing this, they pleaded before the heavens, that God would condescend to give them a higher priesthood, that would enable them also to administer in those higher Gospel ordinances.  The Lord heard their prayers, and three heavenly personages were sent to them.  What authority did these three angelic personages hold?  They were the ancient apostles, Peter, James and John, three of the most conspicuous of the ancient apostles.  They were sent as ministering angels.  They also conferred upon them the apostleship.  The apostleship holds this higher priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, a priesthood greater than that of Aaron; and hence, when they received the apostleship, or this divine authority, they were commanded to call the baptized believers together, and lay their hands upon them, and confirm upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost.

In this way the Church was organized, on the 6th day of April, 1830, in Fayette, Seneca Co., New York, or rather began to be organized, for there are many things besides these first principles of the Gospel I have named, that are essential duties necessary to be practised amongst the people of God.  After they were thus organized and confirmed by the laying on of the hands, and became members of the Church, then it became necessary, that there should be other officers, as leaders, and guides, and persons, holding different authority, to administer in their respective callings, among the people and hence, deacons, teachers and elders were given, and after a while bishops.  Now, we had but little knowledge of the duties of bishops.  We knew what the sectarian religionists expressed, in regard to bishops, that they were to administer principally in spiritual things, but the Lord gave us altogether a different view of this subject, from what we had learned from sectarian religion.  He gave by revelation, the duties of bishops, that they were to hold the presidency of the Aaronic priesthood, that they were to administer in all temporal things, and not spiritual things only.  And finally other officers were pointed out, from time to time, as the Church incresed and among these, the Lord had told his servants, about a year before the organization of the Church, that there would be Twelve Apostles appointed, and that they Lord should designate to them, who these Twelve Apostles should be.  These Twelve, in due time, were called and ordained, by the commandment of the Almighty, and they also had their duties specified by revelation.  Their duties were more particularly, to see that the gospel was preached to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, upon the face of our globe; first, to carry it to the Gentile nations, and after we had completed our mission, to the Gentiles, then our calling and duties would be to the house of Israel scattered in the four quarters of the earth.”  (Orson Pratt, 9 Mar., 1879; JD 20:143-146)  [Note that Pratt suggests that the Church began with only ONE ordained office, that of Priest.]

20 Mar.:  When should a member be cut off?

“A Bishop’s meeting was held at the Council House, Salt Lake City, commencing at 6:30 p.m. Bishop Edward Hunter presiding. . . . Bishop Edwin D. Woolley made some very pointed remarks about the difficulties that surround a bishop in attempting to deal with delinquent members, justice demanding that men in prominent positions should be handled when necessity required it, as well as others in less prominent stations.  Counselor L. W. Hardy said a teacher going in the spirit of his calling could approach any member of the ward, and discern the true situation of any family.  Where a member is delinquent in his duties and utterly refuses to do anything the Lord requires, a bishop has the authority to cut off such a person from the Church, and ought to do so, for when branches become dead they are only cumering the ground.  But cutting members off the Church was a serious thing, and we should be careful to use every means the Lord had given us to become saviors, and only resort to dismemberment after all legitimate efforts to reclaim and save them had failed.  Bishop S. A. Woolley made a few remarks on the same subject.  Counselor Robert T. Burton referred to the fundamental principles of the Gospel in dealing with a transgressor, viz: through the way that God had appointed, and there was no other way of reaching him rightfully and lawfully.  While there might be many things existing among us that we very much deploredk, the first legitimate authority to try and correct them was the bishop and lesser Priesthood of the Ward in which they existed.”  (JH 20 Mar., 1879)

22 Mar.:  Parowan Stake priesthood numbers.

“One patriarch; 116 seventies, 50 high priests; 144 elders; 3 priests; 5 teachers; 30 deacons; 1,072 members; 1421 officers and members; 536 children under 8 years of age; 1,957 total of souls.”  (Parowan Stake Conference minutes, 22 Mar., 1879; DN 28(10):153, 9 Apr., 1879)

6 Apr.:  Early Church organization.

“At first, when the Church was organized on the 6th day of April, the general duties of the Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons were defined in that revelation, given in that day, known as the articles and covenants of the Church.  Elder seemed to be a generic name embracing all the branches of the Melchisedek priesthood, from the Elder proper to the Apostle, namely the Elders, High Priests, (after the order of Melchisedek), including High Counselors, Seventies, Apostles and First Presidency.  This also corresponds with the language of the Apostle Peter, in his exhortation contained in his first general epistle: ‘The Elders who are among you I exhort, who am also an Elder.’  Still he was an Apostle and was ranked as the chief Apostle in his day, holding the keys and presidency to bind on the earth and loose in heaven; but he ranked himself among the Elders, for this term seemed to be a general appellation for all classes of the Melchisedek priesthood.  In a similar manner also the term ‘priest’ was used among the Jews under the operation of the law of Moses, and subsequently in the Christian church for those who officiated in the lesser or Levitical priesthood; and this term included the presiding priest or Bishop who was called under the Jewish dispensation the Chief or High Priest.  But there were lesser organizations or sub-divisions under the term of Priest, Levite, Nethenims, etc.”  (Erastus Snow, 6 Apr., 1879; JD 20:182)

8 Apr.:  We need their assistance from the heavens.

“It is not with us a question of what we shall eat, or what we shall drink, or what kind of houses we shall live in; it is not a matter of so much importance as it is to be doing the will of God, to have our hearts engaged in his service, to feel that we are buildling up the Zion of the Lord of Hosts, to feel that we are recognized of the heavens, to feel that we are associated with the priesthood behind the vail who have lived and operated in time and are now operating in eternity; for they without us cannot be made perfect, neither can we without them be made perfect.  We need their assistance from the heavens, and we ought to seek it all the time.”  (John Taylor, 8 Apr., 1879; JD 20:177)

8 Apr.:  Church to support President financially.

“Elder Geo. Q. Cannon said he felt impressed to make a few remarks about some circumstances in connection with our beloved leader, President John Taylor.  It was well known by the Latter-day Saints how his life had been spent in years past, in laboring to build up Zion, and the humble habitation he had occupied since he was called to preside over the affairs of the Church.  He felt that the house he had himself built under the direction of our beloved and lamented Prest. Brigham Young was such a one that he could not consistently occupy while Presidents Taylor, Woodruff, Pratt and others, who had so long labored in the vineyard, were living in such humble habitations, and on several occasions he expressed to President Young a desire to vacate it, but was told by him not to do so.  After his death he felt relieved of any obligation in regard to this matter.  And since that time he [Cannon?] had privately spoken to President Taylor about leaving his present abode and occupying some place more in keeping with his position as President of the Church.  The subject was once spoken of in the council of the Apostles.  The delicacy of Brother Taylor’s feelings was such that the matter had been put off until the present, and he felt that it should no longer be postponed.  The President of the Church had necessarily to receive many visitors, and as President Taylor had no private resources at command to differently situate himself, he submitted the following motion, which was most cheerfully and unanimously responded to by all present:

That one of the buildings owned by the Church shall be selected as a place of residence for the President of the Church, and shall be properly furnished under the direction of a committee whom the Apostles shall appoint; and further, that a steward be selected to take charge of this residence, who shall furnish the table and other household requirements, and that the costs and expenses of so doing shall be met by appropriations from the funds of the Church.

President John Taylor said if his own private feelings were consulted he would much prefer living in comparative privacy and seclusion, for he did not crave the glitter and pomp of this world, and when this subject was submitted to him, he could not yield to its nomination at this conference on any other consideration, but the fact of his being a servant of the people, through Jesus Christ his master.  But for the kind and good feelings made manifest by such a unanimous vote, he returned his heartful thanks to the thousands present.”  (General Conference minutes, 8 Apr., 1879; DN 28(11):172, 16 Apr., 1879)

9 Apr.:  Concerning the authority of Bishops.

“We have started co-operative institutions, and I will touch on a principle now, showing how they ought to be governed.  God has ordained two priesthoods upon the earth–the Melchisedec and the Aaronic.  The Melchisedec presides more especially over the spiritual affairs of the Church, and has done in all ages when it has existed upon the earth.  You will find this provided for in the Doctrine and Covenants; you can hunt it up at your leisure, I do not wish to stop to make the quotation now.  The Aaronic priesthood is presided over by the presiding bishop.  If we had a literal descendant of Aaron he would have a right to preside over the bishopric, and to operate and manage and direct these things without the aid of counselors.  In the absence of such men the Lord has directed us to take men from the high priesthood and set them apart to be bishops to administer in temporal things.  This Aaronic priesthood is an appendage to the Melchisedec priesthood, and its province is to administer in temporal affairs.  One reason why we want men of this class to administer in temporal things is because there is a special provision made for it.  Nevertheless a High Priest that is after the order of Melchisedec may be set apart to administer in temporal things, having a knowledge of them by the Spirit of truth.  And before a man attempts to administer in Zion in temporal things, he ought to obtain a knowledge of that spirit of truth to administer according to the intelligence which that spirit of truth imparts.  Thus we have the Aaronic priesthood in its place; the Melchisedec priesthood in its place.  And in all the various functions it is necessary to enter into all the various organizations.  It is on one or two particular points that I wish to speak now.

In the first place the Lord requires certain things to be done to meet his approbation; and everything has to be done under the direction of the presidency of the Twelve, both temporal things and spiritual things.  The bishops and the presidents of Stakes and all the officers in the Church of God are subject to this authority and they cannot get around it.  And when any officer of this Church who by virtue of his calling does things without counselling with the proper authorities of the Church, he takes upon himself things that he has no right to do, and such a course cannot be acceptable before God and the Priesthood.

Now then, we come to the bishopric.  Ought the bishops to be consulted in regard to temporal things?  Yes, they ought.  And as an example, let me tell you that for the last year Bishop Hunter has associated with the Council of the Twelve whenever they have met to consider temporal matters.  And I may say we have been pleased to have his company, because it was his place to understand the position of temporal things, that we may know his feelings, and counsel with him and he with us, that everything may be done according to the order and laws of God, that there may be perfect unanimity.  With this view he was placed as one of the counselors to the Trustee-in-Trust–because the Trustee-in-Trust thought it belonged to him to hold that position, and thinks so to-day.  But then, does he preside over the Melchisedec Priesthood?  No, he does not.  Who and what is he?  A high priest ordained and set apart to the bishopric.  By whom?  The Presidency.  Does he control the Presidency?  No, he is set apart by them; as bishop he is an appendage to the higher priesthood, and does not control it.  No man controls it.  I remember a remark made on one occasion by Joseph Smith, in speaking with Bishop Partridge, who was then Bishop.  He was a splendid good man, as Bishop Hunter is.  But he got some crooked ideas into his head; he thought he ought to manage some things irrespective of Joseph, which caused Joseph to speak rather sharply to him.  Joseph said, I wish you to understand that I am President of this Church, and I am your president, and I preside over you and all your affairs.  Is that correct doctrine?  Yes.  It was true then and it is true to-day.

Well, it is necessary that we should have an understanding of these things, that we may make no mistakes in our administration.  I want, then, in all our operations to confer with our bishops.  And if this institution of ours is ‘Zion’s Co-operative,’ then it should be under the direction of Zion, under the direction of the Priesthood; and if it is not ‘Zion’s’ Co-operative, then it is a living lie.  But do we wish to interfere with them?  No, we do not.  Do we wish to interrupt them in any of their operations?  No, we want to help them; we want to unite them and all the people into one, with God at our head, governed by the holy priesthood.  Have they rights?  Yes.  Do we respect them?  Yes.  Have the people rights?  Yes.  Shal the people be respected in their rights?  Yes, they shall, all the people in all the Stakes; and while we sustain them they must sustain us; and if they expect to have our support, they must give us theirs.”  (John Taylor, 9 Apr., 1879; JD 21:35-36)

9 Apr.:  Ordination of Elder, Priest, Teacher or Deacon.

“E. Snow,–Instructed the brethren that it was not necessary to await the action of a conference to ordain a man an Elder, Priest, Teacher or Deacon.  The action of the Ward, or of the bishop, was all that was necessary in these cases.  It was different in the cases of ordination to the Seventies and High Priests Quorums.  These required the consideration of the Apostles.”  (Instructions to Presidents of Stakes and others, at a meeting held in the office of President John Taylor, 9 Apr., 1879.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 2:324)

9 Apr.:  Bishop’s jurisdiction over Melch. Priesthood.

“In answer to a question he [John Taylor] said, It was the privilege of a bishop to suspend from standing a man holding the Melchisedec priesthood, who was doing wrong, and then report him to his quorum or to the High Council, the Lesser Priesthood, or lay members who are immediately under his control, he could cut off for transgression, the quorums can also withdraw fellowship from their own members but cannot sever from the Church; the High Council attends to that duty.”  (Instructions to Presidents of Stakes and others, at a meeting held in the office of President John Taylor, 9 Apr., 1879.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 2:324-325)

13 Apr.:  Congregation kneeled while sacrament blessed.

“I attended Meeting at 2 P.M.  the Saints kneeled whilst blessing was being asked on bread & water.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 13 Apr., 1879)

29 May:  Irrigation disputes to be resolved by AP.

“A Bishops meeting was held in the Council house at 7 p.m. Bishop Edward Hunter presiding. . . .

Counselor Jos. E. Taylor mentioned several cases of irrigation difficulties which had reached Gentile courts for settlement.  He urged on the bishops to have all such disputes settled by the Lesser Priesthood, if possible, to avoid law expenses.”  (JH 29 May, 1879)

31 May:  Removal of HP from 1st Council of 70.

“I [Zebedee Coltrin] was one of the first seven Presidents of the Quorum of Seventies at the time he [Elijah Abel] was dropped – Prest Taylor.- Bro Zebedee you are not one of the seven Presidents now.  what have you been doing?  Bro C. – I was acting then as one of the 1st seven Presidents of Seventies and was ordered back into the quorum of High Preists – I can tell you how that thing first started.  Bro Winchester and Bro Jared Carter while on the Brick yard at Kirtland – Bro W. A Seventy and Bro Jared a High Priest got to contending which held the highest office.  Carter was rebuking him on account of his folly.  which he said he had not right to do.  as he held a higher Priesthood than he did.  and Jared contended he didnt because was a High Priest – this thing came to the ears of Uncle Joseph Smith.  & then they went to the Prophet Joseph with it.  The Prophet then enquired of the Lord, and he afterwards directed that we be put back into the Quorum of High Priests and other Men (five) were then ordained to the Presidency of the Seventies and three out of that five apostatized – Bro Joseph Young & Levi Hancock were retained and the other five filled the number.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 31 May, 1879)

1 Jun.:  We received Priesthood in Spirit World.

“The Lord has reserved spirits to tabernacle in this last dispensation.  Abraham was chosen to stand at the head of Israel.  Has the Lord set His hand to build up this Kingdom at random.  No.  God has reserved spirits to come forth in this last dispensation.  Joseph Smith was reserved to open it up, and the Apostles, Seventies and hundreds of others had been kept back in the Spirit world for 6000 years to come forth at this time.  Others were inspired to do their part in starting certain principles or perform certain works, such as Calvin, Columbus and the establishers of this free and independent government.  When the Gospel came to the world it took one of a family and two of a city, and the hand of God was in this.  We received the priesthood in the spirit world, now has come our time.”  (Wilford Woodruff, Little Colorado Stake Conference, 1 Jun., 1879; JH 1 Jun., 1879)

27 Jul. [1879]:  Wash feet as a testimony against them.

“Along this period of years my house was being ‘divided against itself,’ and I felt ashamed before the Lord and his servants.  I knew my record had been always in obedience, and I felt that my counsel should be heeded.  I regared obedience as our only claim upon the Lord for his love and blessing; and because I was earnest and at times austere, I was regarded as a ‘tyrant.’  But a tyrant, like the Lord, does not love those whom he robs of liberty or life.  The Lord and his servants admonish those they love and thereby prove them, that they may love them the more.  I may have been austere, and often unwise and selfish, but I could not be a tyrant with my soul so full of anxiety for their welfare, and yearning for their love and confidence.

This condition continued, until worn out, borne down with the ingratitude of my family, and realizing my own weakness and faults, I told the Lord I could stand it no longer, that I wished to turn myself, my family and all I possessed into His hands, to deal with us all in mercy as should be for our good and His glory.  I asked the Lord for a sign that He had heard me and had accepted my offering.

The sign was given, and by the voice of His spirit it was said to me in plainness, ‘Go in secret and wash thy feet, as a testimony unto me against those who disobey and reject you.’  This was the 27th of July, 1879, not far from noon that I went into my closet, took of my shoes and washed my feet before the Lord; and while putting on my shoes I heard it thunder in different directions, and I knew the angel of destruction had let loose the elements; and I began to see that it is fearful to fall into the hands of the Lord.  I came into the family room and sat down.  There was a terrible roaring in the air, it grew dark, the wind became terrific.  The family, alarmed, came to me in their fright, wondering at my calmness; and as the hail came in torrents, driven by a whirling cyclone, I told them it would take but ten minutes and all our harvest would be done.  In less than that time not one square rod of the hundreds of acres of field crops, orchard and gardens, was left–everything stripped to the ground, the orchards denuded of their leaves.  The clouds rose from three points and meeting formed a cyclone funnel directly over our heads, and all occurred in less than half an hour from the putting on of my shoes.  While all were in consternation and terror I was unmoved for I knew it was of the Lord and could realize that it was ‘fearful to fall into the hands of the Lord.’

And here I learned a life’s great lesson–the profit to us of patience and forbearance, and the great truth, that when one member suffers, all must suffer with it.  The lesson to me was worth the sacrifice; but it was one I should never be willing to make again.”  (Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review, n.p., n.d.; pp. 265-266)

4 Sep.:  Dead branches must be severed.

“A Bishops’ meeting at the Council House at 7 p.m. Bishop Hunter presiding. . . .

[Bishop Hunter said] Those who sought to magnify the holy priesthood would be abundantly blessed, although we were passing through fiery trials.  Dead branches must be severed, or they would spoil the tree.”  (JH 4 Sep., 1879)

18 Sep.:  Deacons as doorkeepers.

“A Bishops’ meeting for the Stake at the Council House at 7 p.m. Bishop Edward, Presiding. . . .

[President Angus M. Cannon] wished the Bishops to see that one deacon from each ward, was at the Tabernacle as doorkeeper on Sundays.”  (JH 18 Sep., 1879)

18 Sep.:  Send names of non-participants to High Council.

“A Bishops’ meeting for the Stake at the Council House at 7 p.m. Bishop Edward, Presiding. . . .

[Angus M. Cannon speaking.]  In the various wards were some who professed to be Saints, yet whose names could not be found on the books.  They did not go to meeting, and paid no tithing, but sustained Sunday Excursions etc.  He recommended the bishops to summons such before the priesthood of the ward and, unless they repented and did better to withdraw fellowship from them, and send their names to the High Council.”  (JH 18 Sep., 1879)

Oct.:  Missionary call during General Conference.

“I arose at half past five in the morning, and after making my toilet, went to the Utah Central depot, and took my departure for Europe to fulfil a mission to which I was called at the last general conference.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 21 Oct., 1879)

4 Oct.:  No need for other than Priesthood Quorums.

“President Joseph E. Taylor addressed the Conference.  While there was a disposition on the part of some to discourage plain speaking, the Saints who were striving to serve the Lord rejoiced in all the teachings of the servants of God when dictated by the influence of the Spirit of God.  Many of the Saints did not appreciate the blessings and powers of the Gospel as they did when they first embraced the Gospel, being careless and negligent in many particulars.  If the Saints and Priesthood were alive to their duties, there would be no necessity for any organizations outside of the Priesthood to correct evil or accomplish good; but he questioned whether the Priesthood was properly trained and educated in the duties of their respective offices, and especially did he consider this the case with regard to the quorums of Deacons which had been ordained and organized.”  (Salt Lake Stake Conference minutes, 4 Oct., 1879; DN 28(37):579, 15 Oct., 1879)

5 Oct.:  Alternate High Councilors.

“President John Taylor explained in regard to the members of the High Council sustained, that there were only twelve actual members of the High Council, the others being sustained simply to act as alternates in the event of any of the regular members being absent from any session of the Council.”  (Salt Lake Stake Conference minutes, 5 Oct., 1879; DN 28(37):579, 15 Oct., 1879)

7 Oct.:  Priesthood chastised for negligence.

“My brethren who have spoken have told you plainly of many evils that exist in our midst; but we can scarcely perceive them, many of us.  Sometimes it is very difficult to discern between a Saint and a sinner, between one who professes to fear God and one who does not.  It is for us to straighten out these matters; and you men in authority will be held responsible, and the Twelve will be held responsible, and I hold you responsible, and God will hold you responsible for your acts.  The great difficulty with us is that we are too fond of catering to the world, and too much of the world has crept into our hearts? the spirit of covetousness and greed, and–what shall I say?–dishonesty has spread itself like a plague throughout the length and breadth of the whole world in every direction, and we have drunk more or less into that spirit.  Like a plague it has pervaded all grades of society; and instead of being governed by those high, noble, and honorable principles that dwell in the bosom of God, we are after the filthy lucre which is spoken of as being the root of all evil; and instead of setting our affections upon God, we set our affections upon the world, its follies and vanities.  Come ye out from the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord; and honor your Priesthood and calling, and show and prove to the world, to angels and to God that you are on the side of truth and right, of honesty, purity and integrity, and that you are for God and His Kingdom, let other people do as they will.”  (John Taylor, 7 Oct., 1879; JD 22:2)

10 Oct./20 Nov.:  Stake President in absentia.

“Fri 10 [Oct.]  this afternoon E. Snow had a conversation with Prest Taylor pertaining to my continuance in the office as Private Secretary to Prest Taylor also of my holding the Presidency of the Kanab stake.

“Thur 20th [Nov.]  Prest Taylor expressed himself as not prepared at present for me to go [to Stake Conference in Kanab, where Nuttall was Stake President], as there are matters requiring my attention in my present position for some time, and thought that those stake matters would not suffer during the winter.  I told him the best time to attend to these things was in the winter & I could put many matters in good shape if I could go for a short time & could return to those duties needing my attention, upon which he said I could not be spared.  felt there was an interference in his affairs.  and if those Stake Matters could not be got along with for a while under my care I would have to be released as President of the Stake and some other person appointed in my stead.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 10 Oct./20 Nov., 1879)

1 Nov.:  Bishops’ courts.

“President A. M. Cannon addressed the meeting.  He dwelt upon the iniquitous practice of Church members going to law against their brethren, instead of submitting disputes to the tribunals of justice instituted by the Almighty among his people, and strenuously exhorted the Bishops and their assistant officers to remember that God expected them, in such matters as well as all others, to hold such persons accountable for their transgression of the law of God.  A Bishop and his two counselors constituted the court of a common judge in Israel, and had power to excommunicate from the Church.  It was not necessary for them to submit their decision to the ward teachers or to the ward congregation, for nothing could annul or reverse their decision, but the action of the High Council of the Church.  The tendency of persons to shield transgressors, cloak their sins and sympathize with the wrong doers, because they happened to be of the same blood or marital relation, was also mentioned and denounced most emphatically.  No favoritism should be known in the Kingdom of God.  The good and the pure only, were our brothers and sisters, and the impure and vicious were not fit for the fellowship of the Saints, no matter if they were their own children.”  (Reprint of report of 1 Nov.; DN 28(40):633, 5 Nov., 1879)

2 Nov.:  Apostleship holds all the power.

“When the Lord restored the Apostleship to the earth he restored all the power that was possible for a human being to hold in the flesh.  When he restored the keys of the holy priesthood unto his servant Joseph, when he gave unto him the sealing powers, when he gave unto him the endowments and the keys of the holy priesthood associated therewith, when the Prophet Joseph received the keys from Elijah, and from all the prophets that had existed upon the earth from the beginning down–each one, as he says himself in one of his epistles–each one in his dispensation coming forward and bestowing upon him the authority pertaining thereto, there was embodied in him all the priesthood they held, and he bestowed upon his fellow Apostles all the priesthood he exercised and all the power and authority bestowed upon mortal man to exercise here upon the earth, so far as the present is concerned; that is, all the keys of the priesthood and everything that is necessary in this preparatory state, and to make man a fit subject for the celestial kingdom of God.  By the command of the Lord he conferred that authority upon his fellow servants to bind upon earth and it should be bound in heaven, to seal the children to the father and the mother, and to seal the wife to the husband, and to weld all the links necessary in order to complete the salvation of all the children of men from the days of Adam down to our day, and also to prepare men and women for the future that lies before us, the millennium to which we are all hastening.  Who can conceive of any power that was lacking?  Who had power to promise unto man that they should be kings and priests unto God?  And in addition to that, who had the power to seal upon them the actual kingly and priestly dignity and confirm upon them the fulness of it, and also to give them promises respecting the Godhead that should be fulfilled upon them, and if faithful, to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection?  Now, there was nothing lacking, and there was no power, there was no gift, there was no authority, there were no keys lacking, and these keys have been handed down through him.”  (George Q. Cannon, 2 Nov., 1879; JD 21:269-270)

13 Nov.:  Lesser Priesthood and intemperance.

“A meeting of the Bishops of the Salt Lake Stake was held in the Council House, Salt Lake City at 6.30 p.m. Bishop E. Hunter presiding. . . .

[Counsellor Joseph E. Taylor] spoke with regret of the increased indulgence in strong drinks.  He believed a thorough organization of the lesser priesthood would be more effectual than anything else to check the growing tendency to intemperance.”  (JH 13 Nov., 1879)

23 Nov.:  Sevier Stake priesthood numbers.

“Three Patriarchs, 77 Seventies, 125 High Priests, 396 Elders, 40 priests, 91 Teachers, 95 Deacons, 1,623 members, 1,376 children under eight years, making 3,826 souls, and 710 families.”  (Sevier Stake Conference minutes, 23 Nov., 1879; DN 28(45):707, 10 Dec., 1879)

24 Nov.:  Limits of Bishop’s authority.

“the question as to the Bishop’s being the temporal heads of the Church was spoken of by Prest Taylor.  (as Bro Musser had made that as his plea in not presenting the Matter to the apostles).  he said ‘Now what is the Office of Trustee-in-Trust for – Joseph Smith Was T. in T. and Prest B Young also and now I am – we think it is to manage the temporal affairs of the Church.’  referred to a conversation between the Prophet Joseph and bishop Partridge wherein he said, ‘I want you to understand that I stand at the head of all things in this Church.’ ‘I understand these matters in this light.  the Apostles are the recognised Authority of the Church.  and hold the Melchizedic Priesthood and the Bishops office is an appendage to that Priesthood.’  (to which all the brethren gave their assent as correct).”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 24 Nov., 1879)

28 Nov.:  Priesthood organization the most complete ever.

“Now, God has ordained his Holy Priesthood upon the earth with presidents, apostles, bishops, high councils, seventies, high priests, and the order and organization of the Church and kingdom of God in its fulness and completeness, more complete perhaps, than it ever was since the world was framed.  Why?  Because it is the dispensation of the fulness of times, embracing all other times that have ever existed since the world was, and he has gathered us together for that purpose.”  (John Taylor, 28 Nov., 1879; JD 21:117)

29 Nov.:  Importance of ordained Teachers.

“In commenting on the offices of the Teacher, the speaker [President John Taylor] showed first, how very necessary it was, in order to promote the spiritual growth of a settlement, that the best, the most intelligent, and wisest men should be called to act in that capacity, men who were zealous in the cause, men of honor and integrity who were full of the Holy Spirit, who could exert an influence for good among their fellows; and second, when a corps of such men was selected, that it was of the utmost importance that the Bishop be in accord with them, that he meet with them from time to time to counsel with and encourage them in their labors of love, and instruct them as to what he wished communicated to the people.”  (Utah Stake Conference minutes, 29 Nov., 1879; DN 28(46):722, 17 Dec., 1879)

11 Dec.:  How to deal with the wayward/Role of Teachers.

“Bishop R. T. Burton was then called upon to speak, and delivered a kind, fatherly discourse, full of instruction and the spirit of love and charity.  He dwelt to some length on the difficulties and cares attending the office of a Bishop in this Church, cares and anxieties which but few understood or appreciated, but exhorted the presiding officers to do their best, which was all that God expected of them, and the ward members to have charity and consideration for those who presided over them.  Kindness should be manifested mutually; nothing was ever lost by it, but we had learned by experience that much was to be gained by it; while it was equally certain that harshness and cruelty gained nothing.  In dealing with the erring, the parable of the ‘Ninety and nine’ should be remembered, and every effort be made to reclaim the fallen, instead of trampling them in the dust.  Reforms were necessary among us as a people, but moderation must be used to bring about those reforms.  Extremes and radical measures would not do the work, they were only productive of violence and revolution.  A firm but gradual influence must be exerted, and above all, love and charity, for perfection was not to be accomplished in a day, an hour or a year.

The speaker then exhorted the teachers to be alive, to visit their districts often and regularly, to comfort the hearts of the Saints and administer consolation and instruction.  Complaints were made by some that the teachers had not visited them for months, and sometimes years.  This was not right.  The people must be taught continually or they would fall behind and get lost, and the teachers would have to answer for much of their wrong doing.”  (Bishops’ Meeting report; Reprint of report of 12 Dec.; DN 28(46):729, 17 Dec., 1879)

31 Dec.:  St. George priesthood #s.

“At end of 1879, St. George Stake had a Church membership of 3,389 with children under 8 years of age, 1471, making a total Church population of 4,860, including: 1 Apostle, 4 Patriarchs, 157 High Priests, 198 Seventies, 563 Elders, 18 Priests, 15 Teachers and 157 Deacons.”  (JH 31 Dec., 1879)

31 Dec.:  Rebaptisms in St. George Temple.

“The ceremonial work done in St. George Temple during the year ending Wednesday the 31st December, 1879, was as follows:

Baptisms:  First, 2; Renewal of Covenants, 45; for health, 263; for the Dead, 30,069.”

(JH 31 Dec., 1879)