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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1887

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1887.” You can view other years here.

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1887:  1 Jan.:  Do fathers prepare sons for ordination?

“Do fathers at home prepare their sons for ordination to the Priesthood, that when the voice of the Spirit through the Bishop chooses them for Deacons, they are prepared to receive and honor that office?  Do fathers give attention to their sons who have received the Priesthood to see that they honor their callings and are preparing themselves for increased labor and responsibility?”  (Francis M. Lyman, JI 22(1):3, 1 Jan., 1887)

15 Jan.:  Confession and the role of Aaronic Priesthood.

“In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have no system of this character [Roman Catholic confession].  But the Lord has provided a means which is equally as efficient, if properly used, without the attendant evils of the confessional.  Where sins are committed, confession should be made according to the extent of the sin.  If one offends few, he should confess to few; if he offend many, he should confess to many.  But the system to which we refer as established in the Church of Christ to preserve the Saints from evil, is that of sending Priests and Teachers to visit the houses of members and converse with them and find out their spiritual condition.  If Priests and Teachers were to discharge the duties of their office, according to the revelations which have been given upon this subject, Latter-day Saints would almost be a perfect people; for every one that was unworthy of a standing would soon be found out, and, if repentance did not follow, would be excommunicated from the Church.  Wrong would be checked in its very inception.  And if members were inclined to yield to doubt, darkness, unbelief or sin in any form, these evils would be checked in the bud, through the labors of the Priests and Teachers, acting in accordance with the law of the Lord, and many souls would then be saved.

The plan of salvation which God has revealed is a perfect one.  There is nothing lacking that is necessary to accomplish the redemption of the human family and to deliver them from the power and dominion or Satan.  One of the features of the method of teaching now too prevalent among us is the asking of formal questions, without entering into the spirit of teaching those who are visited.  Every Priest or Teacher who visits the houses of the Saints, according to the command of the Lord, should endeavor to get the spirit of his office and to talk to those whom he visits under its influence.  He should endeavor to find out everything connected with the lives of the family by the searching power of the Spirit of God, and to give them instructions according to those things which are brought to light.  In this way the visits of such officers would be exceedingly profitable, and the officers themselves would grow in knowledge and in the power of God.

We trust that hereafter there will be more spirit infused into the visits of teachers to the families of the Saints, and that they will be visited regularly and in a way to bestow benefit upon them, so that all wrong-doing may be brought to light and be repented of, or, if not repented of, those who are guilty of it be severed from the Church.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 22(2):28-29, 15 Jan., 1887

19 Jan.:  The office of Priest.

“We understand that steps are being taken in some of the wards of the Church toward introducing the office of Priest into more active utility than heretofore.  This is a step in the right direction, and sure to result in good if persistently and intelligently followed up.

It is not necessary, perhaps, to specify here the particular duties of the office, as they have been explained in former articles.  They are distinctive and should be either performed by one holding the office, pure and simple, or by one holding a higher official position specially appointed in the organized branches of the Church.  The office cannot be properly dispensed with, every part of the organization having its uese, and, as Paul aptly places it, no one part of the body can say to any other portion: ‘I have no need of thee.’

Placing the subject in condensed shape, it may be properly stated that the most conspicuous duty of the Priest is to carry the Gospel into the homes of the people, and to administer its ordinances, so far as his official jurisdiction extends.  A prominent duty of the Teacher is to see that the precepts and doctrines of the Church are practically carried out by its members, and that its laws are not violated, that the religious body be kept practically pure.  Thus the latter officer legitimately and logically follows in the wake of the former.

The High Council of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion has wisely resolved that the practise of suddenly advancing young men from the lower offices of the Priesthood, or from simple membership, to more or less elevated offices shall be discouraged, and that more attention shall be paid to official graduation, in accordance with the law of general fitness.

The principle is beautiful and at once commends itself to every intelligent Latter-day Saint.  The Priest’s office presents itself especially as affording excellent opportunities for progressive experience, adapted to the young.  While it might not be well for the more youthful members of the Priesthood to preponderate in officiating in the office now specially considered, a large proportion could doubtless be profitably introduced.  Numbers of young men who have excellent desires and no small degree of natural aptitude combined with rectitude of conduct, would find an excellent field in operating in that office.  It would be a school for them in graduating for more extended usefulness.  Numbers of that class of youths have shown their disposition for progress by engaging in class exercises for the study of the first principles of the Gospel, and in attaining efficiency in explaining them in public.  This training gives them a special qualification to officiate as Priests, one of whose duties is to teach those principles in the families of the Saints.  In this way they would be helps to parents, who, according to the covenants and commandments of the Church, are required to teach their children the necessity of faith, repentance, baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of the hands of the Elders for the imparting of the Holy Ghost.  These young men who have made those principles a study could do great good among the children, and at the same time benefit themselves by the exercise.  In the first place there [sic] efforts were induced by a desire to prepare themselves to preach the Gospel abroad in case they should be called to carry the divine message to the nations.  Here then is a golden opportunity–which should be afforded them–to preach the principles at home.  The importance of this consideration is strengthened by the fact that the fireside efforts of the missionary Elders are more fruitful of conversions than their preaching from the pulpit, as a rule.  Hence this peculiar experience in the home Gospel department will do much to qualify them for aiding in its spread among the peoples abroad.

In this connection it can be appropriately stated that the young should be generously encouraged in the study of the first principles of the Gospel.  No impediment should be placed in the way of that laudable pursuit, and every facility practicable should be furnished for the formation and conducting of classes for the attainment of that object.

The word of the Lord as spoken through His Prophet–‘As with the Priests so with the people’–may not have been intended to have its full force upon the office of Priest, standing alone; at the same time it appears to have a valid application in that direction.  If the people have the principles of the Gospel carried into their homes by the official whom the Lord has designated for that purpose, there is sure to be spiritual life and activity permeating the body.  At least it is bound to be much more the case than when there is either official omission or neglect.  And it should be specially remembered that if the youth are to graduate in the Priesthood they must climb up progressively through the various offices of the organization.”  (Editorial, “The Priest’s Office and Graduation,” DN 36(1):7, 19 Jan., 1887)

23 Jan.:  Weber Stake priesthood #s.

“The statistical report showed that the Latter-day Saints in the Weber Stake number 9,967 souls.  These include 1,918 families, 1 Apostle, 557 Seventies, 170 High Priests, 11 Patriarchs, 779 Elders, 99 Priests, 171 Teachers, 314 Deacons.  There are now 20 Wards in the Stake. . . . 30 Home Missionaries.”  (Weber Stake Conference minutes, 23 Jan., 1887; DN 36(3):47, 2 Feb., 1887)

5 Feb.:  High Priests’ Quorum.

“President Elias Morris made some timely and pertinent remarks upon the subject of the High Priests’ quorum.  It was not, as some supposed, a body of disabled men, retired from active service on account of age and feeble health.  The Bishops and their Counselors, who were among the most active and solid men of the Church, were all members of this quorum; also the High Council, men of wisdom, experience and usefulness.  He invited all such to attend the meetings of the High Priests’ quorum and help to make them interesting and attractive–a school for mutual instruction and edification.”  (Salt Lake Stake Priesthood Meeting minutes, 5 Feb., 1887; DN 36(4):57, 9 Feb., 1887)

5 Feb.:  Worthiness to hold MP.

“The necessity of men being worthy to bear the Priesthood, before receiving it, was touched upon.  Those who were put forward through favoritism, or even a kindly desire to do them good and save their souls, when they were not prepared for such responsibilities, if they misused or neglected their holy callings, would find themselves cursed and not blessed in consequence.  Young men should not be pushed forward from the Lesser Priesthood into the Higher, until they have brought forth the fruits of worthiness, nor should anything but the individual’s own merit be the basis of his promotion.”  (Salt Lake Stake Priesthood Meeting minutes, 5 Feb., 1887; DN 36(4):57, 9 Feb., 1887)

9 Feb.:  The priesthood in politics.

“The advocates of repressive and coercive legislation for Utah have two special pleas, which they use alternately as occasion requires.  One is that polygamy must be put down at any cost and that unconstitutional measures are justifiable with this end in view.  When it is shown that the legislation proposed gives no assurance of accomplishing this purpose, but is rather a political expedient for the disfranchisement of the monogamous majority, the other plea is brought into use; it is that polygamy is not the chief trouble in Utah but the influence of the prevailing religion in politics.

Thinking people who take the trouble to inform themselves on the Utah question instead of joining in the general clamor which precludes investigation, very soon perceive the fact that the polygamy cry is but popular humbug.  It is raised to shut off discussion and justify wrong.  They see that a bill to disfranchise monogamists is a singular method of suppressing polygamy.  They look then for some other reason for the extraordinary and, at least, questionable methods resorted to for the political subjugation of an entire community.  And they are gravely informed that the danger is in the Church controlling the State.  If they examine this specious plea and enquire into the facts, the find that in Utah, political affairs are managed as in other parts of the country, with the exceptions that among the great majority the office seeks the man and not the man the office, and that rum and rowdyism, inseparable with popular politics, are entirely excluded from the Utah organization embodying eight-tenths of the population and known as the People’s Party.

Primaries are held, delegates to a convention are there selected by the citizens, a ticket is formulated and discussed and settled upon by the convention, and on election days the legal voters–all polygamists being excluded–go to the polls quietly and deposit completely secret ballots in sealed, uniform envelopes furnished by the election judges, and thus vote for those whom they desire to be placed in office.  These facts being beyond dispute, the inquiries naturally want to know why these people should be deprived of the right to choose their own local officials to attend to their own local business, and why all this power, belonging of right to the people, should be vested in one man who is to them wholly irresponsible.

They are told by the conspirators against the peace of the Territory that, to tell the truth, polygamy really cuts no figure in this matter, but these ‘Mormons’ vote as they are commanded by the heads of the Church.  Investigation, if further pursued, discloses the fact that this is simply an unproved, and as far as can be ascertained an entirely groundless assertion.  The people who deposit the ballots are not aware of receiving any such command, and all they know about it is what they hear their enemies say on the subject.  They can vote just as they choose, they do vote as they choose, and nobody can tell how they vote or for whom they vote unless they choose to tell it, and, further, no one asks them how they voted or makes any fuss about it except the few malignants who cannot control affairs through the ballot and therefore clamor to have it abolished.

What ground, then, remains for the complaint that the great, overpowering and radical grievance that calls for drastic remedies is the dominance of the Church in local politics?  It is simply and only this:  Men who have influence in the Church, in some instances take an active part in politics.  It is natural that if they are respected in one capacity they will be in the other, because the great majority of voters are members of the Church.  And in the so-called ‘Mormon’ Church religion is viewed as something more than sentiment.  It is looked upon as combining faith with practice.  It contains rules of living as well as tenets for believing.  And a true Latter-day Saint considers that his whole life and it acts should be governed and directed by the precepts and influence of the religion which he professes.  Thus, then a man whose experience, stability and standing in the Church entitle his opinions to respect, is likely to have considerable influence with his neighbors if he is permitted to take part in local politics.

The question, then, and the only real question left to be considered, is the right of leading men in the Church to take an active practical interest in the affairs of State.  The coercion part of the objection may be dismissed at once, as undemonstrable and contrary to the evidence; and we will add, here, that it is entirely unbrue, and simply absurd because impossible under the circumstances.

To decide on this matter intelligently, it must be understood that the ‘Mormon Priesthood,’ about which so many foolish things are said, includes nearly all the adult male members of the Church.  The power of the Priesthood, then, actually means the power of the people.  But of course there are presiding authorities and men who are leading spirits in this body of Churchmen.  But even they are usually gentlemen who are engaged in some business or occupation of a secular character by which they make their living, and are not exclusively clergymen like the priests and preachers of most religious societies.  They are of the people and with the people, and their interests are as closely identified with the public interest as those of any lay member of non-‘Mormon.’

On these grounds we maintain that the leading men in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have just as much right to a voice in local political affairs as other men.  And if, without using any unlawful or coercive measures, they can induce others to vote as they vote, to adopt their views, to sustain the ticket which they consider best at any local election, they are justly, fairly and lawfully entitled to use that influence, and no one can rationally deny their right to do so.  Why should a Methodist preacher be permitted to use his influence in politics, and a ‘Mormon’ Elder be excluded?  Why should a Catholic priest be allowed to advise Catholics in regard to measures and candidates, and a ‘Mormon’ priest be muzzled?  Why should religion be shut out of politics and every citizen but one who teaches the highest truths be given full liberty, while the latter is to be tongue-tied and manacled on matters that vitally affect him and his hearers?”  (Editorial, “The Priesthood in Politics,” DN 36(4):56, 9 Feb., 1887)

10 Feb.:  Recommends for Seventies Quorums.

Salt Lake City, February 10, 1887


Dear Brother:

In accordance with instructions heretofore issued by this council, all Presidents of Seventies should have their Bishops’ recommends of good standing on file in the office of the General Clerk of the Seventies, while all members should place their recommends with their respective quorums.  Some of the Presidents, misunderstanding this advice, have handed their Bishops’ certificates into the organization over which they preside, and as a consequence they have not received due credit on the general records.

Reviewing our lists of late we find that your Bishops’ recommend has not reached us, and as the first day of next April is the limit set for the performance of all such duties, we kindly urge you to give this matter your immediate attention, so that your name may be properly enrolled upon our records.

We feel confident this matter would have received your earlier consideration had you been aware of the facts as herein stated, and we therefore take pleasure in calling the matter to your notice so that we may be soon favored with the desired certificate.”  (Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 8, Fd 12, H.S. Eldrege to Presidents of the Seventies, 10 Feb 1887)

15 Feb.:  Wealth and church office.

“An Elder of my acquaintance occasionally looks upon our affairs on the dark side; and when under this influence he is inclined to question motives and pronounce judgment with a freedom which is not natural to him under other circumstances.  One of his favorite themes at such times is that rich men are favored in every way more than poor men.  He will not admit even that in the Church and in Church appointments wealth does not have an improper influence.  Being a man of moderate means himself, his attention has been called to this feature in society, and he does not fail to express the feeling that even among the Latter-day Saints and the authorities of the Church the wealth of a man has much to do with giving him popularity and preference, and determining his selection for office.  I am given to understand that in expressing these views he only speaks as some others in the Church feel. 

Of course, I dispute his conclusions.  I inform him he is mistaken; that I do not believe there is a people in the world among whom wealth has less influence in giving men popularity and esteem than among the Latter-day Saints.

The brother I refer to has the idea, and occasionally persists in asserting it, that Presidents of Stakes, and Bishops, and other officers are frequently selected because of their ability to make money.

Now, it is doubtless a fact that in selecting men to hold ecclesiastical positions some attention is paid to their energy and business qualifications.  The Latter-day Saints need men who are capable of managing affairs and sustaining themselves creditably to be their guides and to take the lead in temporal things, as many Bishops have to do.  It would not be wise to disregard business qualifications, when coupled with other characteristics that are suitable in choosing a man to hold as important an office as that of a Bishop or President of Stake.  But it certainly would not be proper to select men for their business qualifications or their money-making faculty alone.  Such men would prove failures as leaders of the people in the things of God.  And the history of our people proves that men have not been selected for position because of these qualities alone.  We have only to look at the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles to prove this.  There are men among them who have business tact, and are good managers, and who, if they had the opportunities which other men have of devoting themselves exclusively to the care of their own affairs, would soon accumulate wealth; but this aptitude for business cut no figure in their selection to the apostleship, and had no special influence in the minds of the men who, in council under the influence of the Spirit of God, selected them for their positions. . . .

But to return to the thoughts which I had in the beginning of this article.  I think it a mistaken idea for any one to suppose that a man’s money, pure and simple, has influence with the authorities in selecting him for office.  I am not conscious of the existence of any such feeling.  If it were to show itself it would soon be put down.  At the same time business capacity, talent for management, skill in the accumulation of property, are gifts not to be despised; and when a public man posseses them, and has, in addition, a love for the truth and a determination to serve God and keep His commandments, and deal justly with his neighbor, they certainly are no disadvantage whether possessed by an Apostle, a President of Stake, a Bishop or any other officer in the Church; but are decidedly an advantage to him and to the community over which he is called to preside.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 22(4):50-51, 15 Feb., 1887)

23 Mar.:  Conferral vs. ordination.

“. . . [preceding page not present in diary] transaction of the business brought before us.  A question was asked as to whether a man who held no Priesthood and on being ordained a Seventy did not have the Melchisedek Priesthood conferred upon him was really the possessor of the Priesthood.  I maintained that it was necessary to say in the ordination that this was conferred upon him, otherwise he did not possess it.  There being some difference of opinion on this point, it was decided to refer the matter to the First Presidency for an answer.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 23 Mar., 1887)

28 Mar.:  On succession to the Presidency.

“I wrote a Letter to Heber J Grant in answer to his question ‘do you know of any reason in Case of the death of the President of the Church why the Twelve Apostles should not Choose some other Person besides the Presidet of the Twelve to be the Presidet of the Church?’  I Answered him that I have several vary strong reasons why they should not.

1.  Because at the Death of the President of the Church The Twelve Apostles Became the Presiding Authority of the Church, And the President of the Twelve was virtually the President of the Church by virtue of his Office as much while presiding over two as his Councillors.  And in the Appointment of Brigham Young and John Taylor to the presidency of the Church it never entered into the Heart of any one of the Twelve Apostles to Claim the right to preside over Brigham Young or John Taylor as they were already the president of the Church And if they were not fit to be the president of the Church they were not fit to Preside over the Twelve Apostles.

2d In Case of the Death of the Presidet It takes the Majority of the Twelve Apostles to Appoint the President of the Church, And it is vary unreasonable to suppose that the Majority of that Quorum Could be Converted to depart from the path marked out by inspiration & followed by the Apostles in the death of Christ and also by the Twelve Apostles since the Death of Joseph Smith.  Again I see no reason for discussing this subjet untill there is some cause for it.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 28 Mar., 1887)

7 Apr.:  Priesthood statistics.

“At the late annual conference of the Church some very interesting statistics were presented in the various reports read.  There were reported thirty Stakes of Zion, embracing the Territory of Utah and parts of Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.  Within these stakes are eleven Apostles, sixty-five Patriarchs, six thousand seven hundred and forty-four Seventies, three thousand one hundred and twenty-three High Priests, twelve thousand four hundred and forty-one Elders, two thousand four hundred and twenty-three Priests, two thousand four hundred and ninety-seven Teachers, six thousand eight hundred and fifty-four Deacons, 81,228 members making a total of officers and members of 115,699.  There are children under eight years of age 46,684.  Total souls 162,383.”  (Contributor 8(8):315, Jun., 1887)

“Elder Franklin D. Richards, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presented the statistical report for the last half year:  This shows:  First Presidency, 3; Apostles, 11; Patriarchs, 65; Seventies, 6,444; High Priests, 3,723; Elders, 12,441; Priests, 2,423; Teachers, 2,497; Deacons, 6,854; Members, 81,238; total officers and members, 115,699.  Children under 8 years of age, 46,684.  Grand total of souls, 162,383.”  (General Conference Minutes, 7 Apr., 1887; DN 36(13):197, 13 Apr., 1887)

7 Apr.:  MP restoration announced 6 Apr., 1830.

“When the Church was organized on the 6th of April, 1830, it was announced that two men had been ordained to the Melchesedec Priesthood by Peter, James and John.  These were Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  Oliver ordained Joseph to be the first Apostle of the last dispensation, and Joseph in turn ordained Oliver to be the second.”  (Franklin D. Richards, General Conference Minutes, 7 Apr., 1887; DN 36(13):197, 13 Apr., 1887)

7 Apr.:  Role of High Councils.

“Elder [Franklin D.] Richards resumed the subject of the progress that had been made in exercising the authority and performing the functions and duties of the Priesthood.  He advised that the quorums of High Councils and Bishops’ courts be kept full.  He explained the difference between members of the Councils of the Stakes and alternate High Councilors.  The former were High Councilors of the Stake and alternates were High Councilors in the Stake.  It was within the province of the High Councils of the Stakes not only to adjudicate upon disagreements among brethren, and offenses against the laws of the Church, but also to decide upon differences in relation to doctrine.”  (General Conference Minutes, 7 Apr., 1887; DN 36(13):197, 13 Apr., 1887)

8 Apr.:  Duties of the Priesthood.

“It is of the utmost importance that the teachings which have heretofore been given to the officers of the Church, and which it is not necessary to repeat at length here, should be kept in mind and carried out in the spirit in which they were given.  Great responsibility rests at the present time upon those Elders who have liberty of action, and they should be untiring in their efforts to magnify their Priesthood and to do everything possible towards building up and strengthening the Saints in the practice of those holy principles which God has revealed.  Much depends in these days of trial upon those who bear the Lesser Priesthood.  They have opportunities which are of unequalled advantage.  They visit, or should visit, the people at their homes.  They talk to them by their firesides.  They can see their inner lives, and learn wherein they need strengthening and guiding, in order to be more efficient Latter-day Saints.  When Priests and Teachers understand their duties and seek to enjoy the spirit of their offices, they can do an immense amount of good; for they are brought directly in contact with the people; they learn their wants, are made familiary with their weaknesses, and are in a position to check the growth of evil tendencies in parents and in children.  There is, in many instances, doubtless, too much formality in the character of these visits–a disposition to drop into routine and to ask stereotyped questions, without conversing in a way to bring out the real feelings and spirit of the households which they visit.  Visits of this character are comparatively barren of results.  To make them as productive of good as they should be, live, active men should be used as Priests and Teachers.  The best ability in the various wards can find ample field for usefulness in performing these duties.  Young men who have not had experience should be associated with those who have had experience, and they should be impressed with the importance of seeking for the Spirit of God to rest upon them in power, to dictate to them the very things that should be said to the family which they visit.  The teachings which might be appropriate to one family, and be the very instruction which they might need, would not perhaps be so suitable for another family.  Therefore, the necessity of having the guidance of the Spirit of God is apparent.”  (First Presidency Epistle, 8 Apr., 1887.  In Clark, Messages 3:111)

8 Apr.:  Quorums to assist in selecting missionaries.

“There is an immense field lying before us, which must be occupied by our Elders in order to fulfil the obligations God has laid upon us.  Presidents of Stakes, Bishops of Wards, and Presidents of Quorums should exercise a wise discretion in selecting for missions worthy persons, who will do the cause they represent no discredit, and who will be useful in the labor assigned them.”  (First Presidency Epistle, 8 Apr., 1887.  In Clark, Messages 3:124)

13 Apr.:  Duties of Priests & Teachers.

“Much depends in these days of trial upon those who bear the Lesser Priesthood.  They have opportunities which are of unequalled advantage.  They visit, or should visit, the people at their homes.  They talk to them by their firesides.  They can see their inner lives, and learn wherein they need strengthening and guiding, in order to be more efficient Latter-day Saints.  When Priests and Teachers understand their duties and seek to enjoy the spirit of their offices, they can do an immense amount of good; for they are brought directly in contact with the people; they learn their wants, are made familiar with their weaknesses, and are in a position to check the growth of evil tendencies in parents and in children.  There is, in many instances, doubtless, too much formality in the character of these visits–a disposition to drop into routine and to ask stereotyped questions, without conversing in a way to bring out the real feelings and spirit of the households which they visit.  Visits of this character are comparatively barren of results.  To make them as productive of good as they should be, live, active men should be used as Priests and Teachers.  The best ability in the various wards can find ample field for usefulness in performing these duties.  Young men who have not had experience should be associated with those who have had experience, and they should be impressed with the importance of seeking for the Spirit of God to rest upon them in power, to dictate to them the very things that should be said to the family which they visit.  The teachings which might be appropriate to one family, and be the very instruction which they might need, would not perhaps be so suitable for another family.  Therefore, the necessity of having the guidance of the Spirit of God is apparent.”  (“An Epistle of the First Presidency to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in General Conference Assembled,” DN 35(13):200, 13 Apr., 1887)

20 Apr.:  Excommunication.


To whom it may concern:

This certifies that at a meeting of the High Council of the Morgan Stake of Zion held in the Stake House, January 5th, 1887, Fred. Kingston was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for conduct unbecoming a Latter-day Saint.

W. G. Smith, President.

C. A. Welch, Clerk of the High Council.”

(DN 36(14):209, 20 Apr., 1887)

26 Apr.:  Excommunication.


At a session of the High Council of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion, held December 8th, 1886, H. J. Hill, music teacher, was cut off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for adultery.

Witness my hand and the seal of the High Council, this 27th day of April, A.D. 1887.

James D. Stirling, Clerk pro tem. of the High Council.”

(Reprint of report of 26 Apr.; DN 36(16):241, 4 May, 1887)

7 May:  Home missionaries in SL Stake.

[In a listing of officers in the SL Stake, 79 Home Missionaries are listed.]  (Minutes of a Special Conference of the Salt Lake Stake, 7-8 May, 1887; DN 36(17):268, 11 May, 1887)

17 May:  David Whitmer on early priesthood changes.

[The following are all from “An Address to All Believers in Christ”:]

“As to the High Priesthood, Jesus Christ himself is the last Great High Priest, this too after the order of Melchisedec, as I understand the Holy Scriptures.”  (p. 9)

“In this month [June, 1829], I was baptized, confirmed, and ordained an Elder in the Church of Christ by Bro. Joseph Smith.  Previous to this, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had baptized, confirmed and ordained each other to the office of an Elder in the Church of Christ.  I was the third person baptized into the church.  In August, 1829, we began to preach the gospel of Christ.  The following six Elders had then been ordained:  Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Samuel H. Smith, Hyrum Smith and myself.  The Book of Mormon was still in the hands of the printer, but my brother, Christian Whitmer, had copied from the manuscript the teachings and doctrine of Christ, being the things which we were commanded to preach.  We preached, baptized and confirmed members into the Church of Christ, from August, 1829, until April 6th, 1830, being eight months in which time we had proceeded rightly; the offices in the church being Elders, Priests and Teachers.

Now, when April 6, 1830, had come, we had then established three branches of the ‘Church of Christ,’ in which three branches were about seventy members: One branch was at Fayette, N. Y.; one at Manchester, N. Y., and one at Colesville, Pa.  It is all a mistake about the church being organized on April 6, 1830, as I will show.  We were as fully organized–spiritually–before April 6th as we were on that day.  The reason why we met on that day was this; the world had been telling us that we were not a regularly organized church, and we had no right to officiate in the ordinance of marriage, hold church property, etc., and that we should organize according to the laws of the land.  On this account we met at my father’s house in Fayette, N. Y., on April 6, 1830, to attend to this matter of organizing according to the laws of the land; you can see this from Sec. 17 Doctrine and Covenants: the church was organized on April 6th ‘agreeable to the laws of our country.’

It says after this, ‘by the will and commandments of God;’ but this revelation came through Bro. Joseph as ‘mouthpiece.’  Now brethren, how can it be that the church was any more organized–spiritually–on April 6th, than it was before that time?  There were six elders and about seventy members before April 6th, and the same number of elders and members after that day.  We attended to our business of organizing, according to the laws of the land, the church acknowledging us six elders as their ministers; besides, a few who had recently been baptized and not confirmed were confirmed on that day; some blessings were pronounced, and we partook of the Lord’s supper.

I do not consider that the church was any more organized or established in the eyes of God on that day than it was previous to that day.  I consider that on that day the first error was introduced into the Church of Christ, and that error was Brother Joseph being ordained as ‘Prophet Seer and Revelator’ to the church.

The Holy Ghost was with us in more power during the eight months previous to April 6, 1830, than ever at any time thereafter.  Almost everyone who was baptized received the Holy Ghost in power, some prophesying, some speaking in tongues, the heavens were opened to some, and all the signs which Christ promised should follow the believers were with us abundantly.  We were an humble happy people, and loved each other as brethren should love.”  (pp. 32-33)

“The next grievous error which crept into the church was in ordaining high priests in June, 1831.  This error was introduced at the instigation of Sydney Rigdon.  The office of high priests was never spoken of, and never thought of being established in the church until Rigdon came in.  Remember that we had been preaching from August, 1829, until June, 1831–almost two years–and had baptized about 2,000 members into the Church of Christ, and had not one high priest.  During 1829, several times we were told by Brother Joseph that an elder was the highest office in the church.  In December, 1830, Sydney Rigdon and Edward Partridge came from Kirtland, Ohio, to Fayette, N. Y., to see Brother Joseph, and in the latter part of the winter they returned to Kirtland.  In February, 1831, Brother Joseph came to Kirtland where Rigdon was.  Rigdon was a thorough Bible scholar, a man of fine education, and a powerful orator.  He soon worked himself deep into Brother Joseph’s affections, and had more influence over him than any other man living.  He was Brother Joseph’s private counsellor, and his most intimate friend and brother for some time after they met.  Brother Joseph rejoiced, believing that the Lord had sent to him this great and mighty man Sydney Rigdon, to help him in the work.  Poor Brother Joseph!  He was mistaken about this, and likewise all of the brethren were mistaken; for we thought at that time just as Brother Joseph did about it.  But alas!  in a few years we found out different.  Sydney Rigdon was the cause of almost all the errors which were introduced while he was in the church.  I believe Rigdon to have been the instigator of the secret organization known as the ‘Danites’ which was formed in Far West Missouri in June, 1838.  In Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831, Rigdon would expound the Old Testament scriptures of the Bible and Book of Mormon (in his way) to Joseph, concerning the priesthood, high priests, etc., and would persuade Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord about this doctrine and that doctrine, and of course a revelation would always come just as they desired it.  Rigdon finally persuaded Brother Joseph to believe that the high priests which had such great power in ancient times, should be in the Church of Christ to-day.  He had Brother Joseph inquire of the Lord about it, and they received an answer according to their erring desires.  Remember that this revelation came like the one to ordain Brother Joseph ‘Prophet Seer and Revelator’ to the church–through Brother Joseph as mouthpiece, and not through the stone.  Remember also that ‘some revelations are of God; some revelations are of man; and some revelations are of the devil.’

False spirits, which come as an Angel of Light, are abroad in the earth to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect.  Those whom Satan can deceive and lead into error he deceives.  Now do not understand me to say that I think a man who is deceived about high priests being in the church is going to lose his soul.  I am not judging–God is the judge.  But if God did not mean for this order of high priests to be ordained in the Church of Christ, it is a serious error to have added that office to the Church.  If God did not mean for Brother Joseph to set himself up as Seer to the church, and the church to receive his revelations as if from God’s own mouth, I tell you brethren it is a most serious error.  If you are in error on the gathering of Israel and building the city New Jerusalem, (and you are in error), it is a serious error; and likewise the other doctrines of error which are taught in the Book of Doctrines and Covenants.

In this manner the revelations came through Brother Joseph as mouthpiece from time to time.  Brother Joseph would listen to the persuasions of men, and inquire of the Lord concerning different things, and the revelations would come just as they desired and thought in their hearts.

In another part of this pamphlet I devote a chapter to the subject of High Priests.  I will remark here, that in that chapter I give you the solemn news–at least, news to many of you–that when the first high priests were ordained at Kirtland, Ohio, in June, 1831, the devil caught and bound two of the high priests as soon as they were ordained.  Harvey Whitlock, whom the devil caught, bound and twisted his face into demon-like shape, also John Murdock, whom the devil bound so he could not speak.  Thus showing that God’s displeasure was upon their works when they ordained the first high priests in the church.  None of the brethren understood this fact then.  We still thought that anything Brother Joseph and Sydney Rigdon would do, must be all right and according to the will and mind of the Lord.  The whole church acquiesed in the error of ordaining high priests.  Marvel not that we began to be led into error so soon; the children of Israel went into gross error in forty days, following Aaron while Moses was in the mount.”  (pp. 35-36)

“You have changed the revelations from the way they were first given and as they are to-day in the Book of Commandments, to support the error of Brother Joseph in taking upon himself the office of Seer to the church.  You have changed the revelations to support the error of high priests.  You have changed the revelations to support the error of a President of the high priesthood, high counselors, etc.  You have altered the revelations to support you in going beyond the plain teachings of Christ in the new covenant part of the Book of Mormon.”  (p. 49)

“Is it not plain that we should rely up on it [Book of Mormon] on all doctrinal points, and the order of offices in the church?  It certainly is, and this is not placing it ahead of the Bible.  The Book of Mormon is full and plain on the doctrine of Christ.  Christ chose ‘twelve’ and called them disciples, or elders (not apostles); and the ‘twelve’ ordained elders, priests, and teachers.  These are all the spiritual offices in the church:  that is, the officers who are ordained to officiate in spiritual ordinances; as baptism, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost; ordaining other officers, administering the Lord’s supper, etc.  The office of a Bishop is to administer in temporal things.  He is the business man of the church.  The church has a right to appoint officers who act in a temporal capacity; that is outside of the spiritual offices.  We see that the disciples at Jerusalem appointed temporal officers.  Acts vi:2-3:  ‘Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said:  It is not reason that we should the word of God and serve tables.  Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.’  So they appointed the seven deacons.

“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.’  (1 Cor. xii:28).  The Latter Day Saints stumble over this passage, and it is strange that they do.  Paul is not referring here to all the officers in the church.  The office of an Elder is not named.  He refers to miracles, gifts of healing, diversities of tongues, and these are not offices in the Church.  He is referring here to the gifts, as you can see plainly by reading the chapter.  He says at the conclusion of this, in the thirty-first verse, ‘But covet earnestly the best gifts.’  In the New Testament it speaks of evangelists, pastors, teachers, helps, governments, etc.  Are we to suppose from this, that we are now to establish offices in the Church under those respective names of helps, pastors, governments, etc.?  Not at all.  These names come to us thus translated.  Concerning the spiritual offices in the church, Elders, Priests and Teachers, with their duties as given in the Book of Mormon, they comprise the officers who are qualified to act in all spiritual matters, and there is no need of any more spiritual offices than these in the church, as we can plainly see from the scriptures.

The Book of Mormon is full concerning all spiritual matters pertaining to the Church of Christ.  Instructions are given as to the manner of baptism, laying on of hands, the manner of administering the flesh and blood of Christ; that the church must meet together oft to fast and to pray and to speak concerning the welfare of their souls; how the meeting should be conducted; how a back-sliding member is to be tried, before the Elders by the testimony of three witnesses, and if they repented not, they were to be cut off, etc., etc.  It is all set forth therein in plainness, and we have no need of the Doctrine and Covenants or any other creed.

The twelve at Jerusalem are called in the written word ‘Apostles.’  They are apostles because they were special witnesses to the sufferings of Christ, His death, burial and resurrection: but the twelve which Christ chose on this land are called disciples or elders, and are not once called apostles in the Book of Mormon.  In the revelation which came through the stone in June, 1829, to Oliver Cowdery and myself to search out the twelve, they are also called disciples, and not apostles; and the revelation says ‘disciples’ in the Book of Commandments to-day.  But it has been changed in the Doctrine and Covenants to read ‘apostles.’  The heading to this revelation in the Book of Commandments says:  ‘Making known the calling of twelve “Disciples” in these last days.’  In the Doctrines and Covenants it reads:  ‘Making known the calling of twelve “Apostles” in these last days.’  In 1 Nephi iii:26, where reference is made to the twelve at Jerusalem and the twelve upon this land, each twelve are called by their respective names:  ‘Behold the twelve “Disciples” of the Lamb, who are chosen to minister unto thy seed.  And he (the angel) said unto me, thou remembereth the twelve “Apostles” of the Lamb?  Behold they are they who shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel: wherefore, the twelve ministers of thy seed shall be judged of them.’  The twelve on this land are called disciples, and not in any place are they called apostles.  When Christ was teaching the twelve on this land, in giving them instructions He refers to the way His twelve apostles did at Jerusalem in the laying on of hands, saying to them:  ‘For thus do mine apostles.’

In 1 Cor. xii:28, it says:  ‘And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets,’ etc.  He did so, placing the twelve apostles first, which he chose at Jerusalem: they are to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, and they are to judge the twelve disciples whom Christ chose on this land among the Nephites.  Therefore, we see from the written word that there is only one twelve who are called apostles, and that they are placed first.

When it is God’s own due time to gather up the scattered fragments of his kingdom which has been laid waste by men, then we suppose that God will place at the head of his church twelve disciples; but we of the Church of Christ will not place them there, unless God so commands us.  This is God’s work and not man’s work.  We do not believe in twelve man-made disciples.”  (pp. 50-51)

“I will also show by a revelation in the Book of Commandments–afterwards changed in the Doctrine and Covenants–that we were commanded to rely upon the ‘things which are written’ in building up the church; for ‘in them are all things written concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock.  Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, my gospel, and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.’  But we did not rely upon the written word in building up the church; but Joseph went ‘on in the persuasions of men,’–as he did while translating, and heeded Rigdon who showed him that high priests and other offices should be added to ‘elders, priests and teachers;’ and so we did not establish His (Christ’s) church, His gospel and His rock, so the gates of hell did prevail against the church, and it finally landed in Salt Lake in polygamy.

I will also show you by a revelation in the Book of Commandments–afterwards changed in the Doctrine and Covenants–that we had no high priests, etc. in the beginning; as if God had organized his church at first with ‘elders, priests and teachers,’ and after we had preached almost two years, and had baptized and confirmed about 2000 souls into the Church of Christ, then God concluded he had not organized it right, and decided to put in high priests and other offices above the office of an elder.  No brethren–God does not change and work in any such manner.  This is man’s work.  I will prove beyond a doubt that every spiritual office added to the church which is not according to the teachings of Christ to the ‘twelve’ on this land, is the work of man, and not the work of God.”  (p. 57)

“The heading over it in the Book of Commandments is as follows:  ‘The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ, given in Fayette, New York, June, 1830.’  Two paragraphs have been added to it, having been thrust into the middle of it.  Paragraphs 16 and 17 is the part added, which part speaks of high priests and other offices that the church never knew of until almost two years after its beginning:  As if God had made a mistake in the first organization of the church, and left out these high important offices which are all above an elder; and as if God had made a mistake and left these high offices out of that revelation when it was first given.  Oh the weakness and blindness of man!  This revelation as it is in the Book of Commandments, speaks of the duties of all the spiritual officers in the church; of elders, priests and teachers; but does not mention a word about the office of high priest, president of the high priesthood, high counselors, etc.  The part added to this revelation was put there to give the duties of these high officers in ordinations.  I repeat that the church never heard of or thought of having in it any of these offices, until we moved to Kirtland, Ohio, in the days of Sidney Rigdon.  The Church of Christ upon either continent had no such offices in it, and Christ told us through the stone that he would establish his church ‘LIKE UNTO THE CHURCH WHICH WAS TAUGHT BY MY DISCIPLES IN THE DAYS OF OLD.’ * * * [in original] ‘If the people of this generation harden not their hearts.’  (Chap. 4., Par. 5, Book of Commandments).

Now brethren, the Church of Christ of old had in it only elders, priests and teachers; but the Church of Latter Day Saints, with its many new offices, doctrines, and ordinances which werem not in the Church of Christ of old, is a very different church–a different order throughout.  This is plain to be seen.  Why, oh why will you continue to trust in the man who has erred and introduced doctrines of error into the Church of Christ?  Why will you continue in blindness?  But modern Israel is no better than ancient Israel.  Man will not walk humbly before God and abide in his ordinances, although he has given them his work in great plainness.  You are in spiritual blindness and you know it not.

I will now quote the two paragraphs which have been added to the revelation above mentioned:

‘No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church; but the presiding elders, traveling bishops, high counselors, high priests and elders, may have the privilege of ordaining, where there is no branch of the church, that a vote may be called.  Every president of the high priesthood (or presiding elder), bishop, high counselor and high priest, is to be ordained by the direction of a high council, or general conference.’

In all the teachings of Christ, these high offices are not even mentioned as being in the Church of Christ.

There are other changes in this revelation, but this is the only change of importance.

The next change I will notice is one of importance.  It is in Section 4, Doctrine and Covenants:  Chapter 4.  Book of Commandments.  Half of a page has been left out of this revelation.  I believe that the object of those who left it out was to strike out  the  following words:

‘And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, etc., * * * * [in original] and I will establish my church, LIKE UNTO THE CHURCH WHICH WAS TAUGHT BY MY DISCIPLES IN THE DAYS OF OLD.’

They knew that the order of offices in the Church of Latter Day Saints, was not like the order in the Church of Christ of old; because the Church of Christ of old had in it only elders, priests and teachers: so theyn left out this part of the revelation when they published the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.

There are many other changes in the revelations, but I will not take the space and time to speak of any more of them.”  (pp. 59-60)


High Priests were only in the church before Christ; and to have this office in the ‘Church of Christ’ is not according to the teachings of Christ in either of the sacred books:  Christ himself is our great and last High Priest.  Brethren–I will tell you one thing which alone should settle this matter in your minds; it is this:  you cannot find in the New Testament part of the Bible or Book of Mormon where one single high priest was ever in the Church of Christ.  The office of an Elder is spoken of in many many places, but not one word about a High Priest being in the church.  This alone should convince any one, and will convince any one who is without prejudice, that the office of High Priests was established in the church almost two years after its beginning by men who had drifted into error.  You must admit that the church which was to be established in this dispensation, must be ‘like unto the church which was taught by Christ’s disciples of old.’  Then the Church of Latter Day Saints is unlike the Church of Christ of old, because you have the office of High Priests in the church.  The office of a High Priest as you have it, is of more importance than the office of an Elder; then why is not something said about this high office being in the Church which Christ came on earth to establish at Jerusalem and upon this land?  Why is there not something said about this important office, and so much said about an Elder?

Brethren, it is strange–very strange–that you will continue to cling to the man, Joseph Smith, and measure the written word of God by his revelations.  So has it been in all ages past.  You are in spiritual blindness.  Hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand; seeing ye shall see and not perceive.  And this too when Christ has given us the Book of Mormon with the plain and precious things therein.

When Christ came into the world upon this land, Nephi was a great High Priest who had done many mighty works.  Now Nephi had to lay down his robe of a High Priest just outside the door and come into the Church of Christ by baptism, to the office of an Elder, and not once after that is Nephi called a High Priest.  At this time the Church of Christ was established upon this land.  Christ comes into the world and preaches to them as he had to those at Jerusalem, giving them instructions concerning his Church and the New Covenant which he made with them, as he had with those on the eastern continent, telling them they were no longer under the old law of Moses, but from that time were under him.  He chooses twelve disciples who were called Elders, to minister unto that people, and after giving them full instructions concerning the establishing of his church, he ascends into heaven.  Elders, Priests and Teachers were ordained in his church, and full instructions concerning their duties.  Christ told his disciples to write his teachings, for they were to be hid up to come down to us as his teachings to us.  Now this being the case, why are not some instructions given in the new covenant of that book concerning the office of High Priests?  Of course there was no such an office in the Church of Christ upon this land, nor in the Church of Christ upon the eastern continent, nor should there be such an office in the Church to-day.  It is a grievous sin to have such an office in the church.  As well might you add to the teachings of Christ–circumcision–offering up the sacrifice of animals–or break the ordinances of Christ in any other way by going back to the old law of Moses.

We will now go to the New Testament in the Bible.  In no place therein does it mention one single High Priest as being in the Church of Christ.  High Priests are spoken of in Hebrews iv to ix, but only to explain that Jesus Christ is our great High Priest after the order of Melchisedec.  It speaks of High Priests that offered up sacrifices under the old law, showing that Christ himself was after that order, but not once does it speak of the office of a High Priest continuing after Christ, except only in Christ himself; He being ‘the Apostle and High Priest of our profession; * * * [in original] our great High Priest that has passed into the heavens; * * * [in original] a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.’  ‘Seeing then that we have a great High Priest (and the only one) * * * [in original] let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, etc.’  This being the fulfillment of the old order of High Priests which was a type of Christ’s order.  Before Christ, the people came to the High Priest for mercy and forgiveness, through him offering up sacrifices for their sins; but now the people have the great High Priest even Jesus Christ to go to ‘that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need:’ He having offered up his body a sacrifice for the sins of the world.  ‘And having an High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,’ etc.  This matter is plainly set forth in Hebrews, iv chapter.

Brethren, it is solemn mockery before God to have extablished in the church to-day this important office of which Christ alone is worthy.  The office of Elder is spoken of all through the New Testament as being in the church, but not one High Priest; then of course they had no High Priests in the church upon the eastern continent.

Now Brethren, seeing they had no High Priests in the church of Christ of old, and none in the church of Christ in these last days until almost two years after its beginning–when the leaders began to drift into error; remembering the fact of the revelation being changed two years after it was given to include High Priests; taking these things into consideration, how is it that any one can say that the office of High Priest should be in the church of Christ to-day?  I can account for it only on the grounds of your spiritual blindness.  This matter is so plain and self-evident that any one should see and understand it.  Brethren, your blindness must be utter blindness.  My God have mercy on you is my prayer.

In no place in the word of God does it say that an Elder is after the order of Melchisedec, or after the order of the Melchisedec Priesthood.  An Elder is after the order of Christ.  This matter of ‘priesthood,’ since the days of Sydney Rigdon, has been the great hobby and stumbling block of the Latter Day Saints.  Priesthood means authority; and authority is the word we should use.  I do not think the word priesthood is mentioned in the New Covenant of the Book of Mormon.  Authority is the word we used for the first two years in the church–until Sydney Rigdon’s days in Ohio.  This matter of the two orders of priesthood in the Church of Christ, and lineal priesthood of the old law being in the church, all originated in the mind of Sydney Rigdon.  He explained these things to Brother Joseph in his way, out of the old Scriptures, and got Brother Joseph to inquire, etc.  He would inquire, and as mouthpiece speak out the revelations just as they had it fixed up in their hearts.  As I have said before, according to the desires of the heart, the inspiration comes, but it may be the spirit of man that gives it.  How easily a man can receive some other spirit, appearing as an Angel of Light, believing at the time that he is giving the revealed will of God; a doubt never entering his mind but what he is doing God’s will.  Of course I believe that Brother Joseph gave every revelation–including the one on polygamy–in all good conscience before God.  This is the way the High Priests and the ‘priesthood’ as you have it, was introduced into the Church of Christ almost two years after its beginning–and after we had baptized and confirmed about two thousand souls into the church.

When the Church of Christ was established at Jerusalem, and upon this continent, and in 1829, the officers which were to be in the church were made known at its beginning, and not two years afterwards.

In Kirtland, Ohio, in June, 1831, at a conference of the church, the first High Priests were ordained into the church.  Brother Joseph ordained Lyman Wight, John Murdock, Harvey Whitlock, Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon and others to the office of a High Priest.  When they were ordained, right there at the time, the devil caught and bound Harvey Whitlock so he could not speak, his face being twisted into demon-like shape.  Also John Murdock and others were caught by the devil in a similar manner.  Now brethren, do you not see that the displeasure of the Lord was upon their proceedings in ordaining High Priests?  Of course it was.  These facts are recorded in the History of the Church–written by my brother, John Whitmer, who was the regularly appointed church historian.  I was not at that conference, being then in Hiram, which is near Kirtland, Ohio.  I also have the testimony of Harvey Whitlock whom the devil caught and bound: also John Whitmer, who was present, and others who were present at the time, so I know it is true.  John Whitmer wrote this in the church history when he was in full fellowship with the church.  As a faithful historian he speaks of this matter, and tries to explain it away by saying, ‘While the Lord poured out his spirit, the devil took occasion to make his power known; he bound Harvey Whitlock so that he could not speak, and others were affected, but the Lord showed to Joseph the seer, the design of this thing: He commanded the devil in the name of Christ and he departed to our joy and comfort.’  It was not given to Brother John nor any of them at that time to understand this matter of the devil entering into the first High Priests that were ordained in the church.  They were all blind as to the design of that thing, and did not see what it meant.  Of course it was given to Brother Joseph to cast the devil out, but what was the design of the devil entering into these men just as soon as they were ordained the first High Priests ever ordained in the church?  Of course it was to show that God’s sore displeasure was upon their erring works of ordaining High Priests into the Church of Christ.  Any spiritual man can see this.  Brother John was himself ordained a High Priest at that time, so he was in error and could not see it; but he saw it very clearly in 1848, when the Lord opened our eyes to see and understand it.  Prejudiced persons are blind and do not want to see and understand except their own preconceived way.  There is none so blind as those who will not see.  In Brother John’s history he speaks of the Spirit of God being poured out in abundance upon that occasion, some seeing visions, etc.,  but brethren, you will learn in the next world, if you do not know it already, that the devil can give visions, appearing as an Angel of Light.  Brother John gives an account of a prophecy uttered by Lyman Wight just after Brother Joseph ordained him a High Priest, which prophecy will prove to be a false prophecy.  Brother John’s history of the church says as follows:  ‘He (Joseph) laid his hands upon Lyman Wight and ordained him to the high priesthood after the holy order of God.  And the spirit fell upon Lyman, and he prophesied concerning the coming of Christ.  He said that there were some in this congregation that should live until the Savior should descend from Heaven with a shout, with all the holy angels with him, etc.’  The early future will determine as to whether this prophecy was true or false.

Some of the brethren have gone outside of the written word of God, and accepted as evidence, histories that were written 350 to 400 years after Christ, to prove that High Priests were in the Church of Christ.  This seems strange to me.  They have quoted from the history of St. Jerome, who was Secretary to the Pope at Rome, about 382 years after Christ.  I should not wonder if the apostolic church did have High Priests and many other offices and ordinances that were abominable before God, after they drifted into error like the Latter Day Saints have.  They have also quoted from Theodoret who died 457 years after Christ.  His writings extend from A. D. 325 to A. D. 429.  My authority for the above is Lippincott’s Biographical Dictionary.  Now shall we take such evidence as this to prove the office of High Priests being in the church when it was in its purity, when the written word of God mentions all the church officers in many places and says nothing about a single High Priest?  Nay verily.  As for me, I must take the Scriptures for my authority.  I cannot understand how any person can claim that an important office like High Priests should be, or was in the Church of Christ when it was in the true faith, when nothing is said in the Scriptures about it.  The Scriptures were given by inspiration of God: and do you suppose that God would leave out of his word the great office of a High Priest, if they were to be in the Church of Christ?  Of course not.  It is charging God foolishly to believe that he would leave out of his word this office or any other office that he intended should be in his church.

Some of the brethren have referred to 1 Peter ii:5-9 and Rev. i:6 to prove that there were High Priests in the Church of Christ, but the word High Priest is not mentioned in either passage.  These two passages are all they have referred to in the whole of the New Testament, and no passage can be found in the New Testament part of the Book of Mormon to refer to, because High Priests are not even mentioned therein.  In the above two passages there is no reference whatever to this office.  In 1 Peter ii:5, 9, Peter is addressing the whole church, and says, ‘Ye also, as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ; * * * * [in original] Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, etc.’  How any person can pretend to claim that this passage refers to the office of High Priest, is more than I can understand.  If it does, then every member of the church holds this office, because Peter is addressing the whole church as you can see from the first of his epistle.  Of course there is no reference made here to this office.

Rev. i:6 reads as follows:  ‘Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his father; to him be and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.’  This has no reference to the office of a High Priest.  It refers to the time when we will be in the Spirit, and can say as John then said, he being in the Spirit, unto Jesus Christ who hath redeemed us and hath made us kings and priests unto God, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

Some of the brethren have misunderstood the Old Testament part of the Book of Mormon concerning High Priests, and refer to Alma 9-6:  Alma says, ‘This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world: or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things.’  Here it is speaking of the order of the High Priests before Christ: their order being after the order of the Son of God, and this order being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity.  This being Christ’s order, He being from eternity to all eternity, has held this holy order of priesthood from eternity and will hold it to all eternity.  Those High Priests before Christ came into the world, held this holy order of priesthood as a type of Christ’s order; but when Christ came into the world, he then claimed his own holy order of priesthood and power on earth, doing away with all types and shadows under the old law, himself alone being our great and last High Priest unto whom we can go to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Brethren, I am constrained to say as Alma says at his conclusion of this matter:  He ends his writing in the tenth chapter, 2d paragraph, by these words:  ‘Now I need not rehearse the matter; what I have said, may suffice.  Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction.'”  (pp. 62-67)

18 Jul.:  1st Pres. together for first time in 3 years.

“When President Cannon told President Taylor of Brother Joseph F’s arrival and presence, and that now the First Presidency are again together for the first time since December 1884, President Taylor said, though scarcely conscious, ‘I feel to thank the Lord.'”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 18 Jul., 1887)

20 Jul.:  Readmission following excommunication.

“A letter was received from Charles B. Felt and his Wife Georgana Felt, City, July 1st representing their case and desires to be baptized and confirmed members of the church again, they having been cut off some two years ago.  There letter was referred to Pres’ A M Cannon & Counsel and the High Council of Salt Lake Stake for their action.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 20 Jul., 1887)

3 Aug.:  Sole purpose of priesthood is ordinances.

“Let all Israel remember that the eternal and everlasting Priesthood is bestowed uopn us for the purpose alone of administering in the ordinances of life and salvation, both for the living and the dead, and no man on earth can use that Priesthood for any other purpose than for the work of the ministry, the perfecting of the Saints, edifying the body of Christ, establishing the Kingdom of Heaven, and redeeming Zion.  If we attempt to use it for unrighteous purposes, like lightning from heaven our power, sooner or later, falls, and we fail to accomplish the designs of God.”  (Wilford Woodruff to the Saints of God Throughout the World, 3 Aug., 1887.  In Clark, Messages 3:131.)

7 Sep.:  Home Missionaries.

“The Home Missionary system of the Church is one of much importance.  Those who are actively engaged in that department of labor should contribute largely toward the maintenance and increase of spiritual activity among the Saints.  They are local evangelists and bear the same relation to the Church at home as the Elders sent abroad do to the branches scattered among the nations.  They feed the sheep of Israel and should help to prevent the members of the flock from becoming strays.  Every man employed in this important labor should qualify himself to efficiently discharge his duty.

In the first place the Home Missionaries should be a living example of the righteous theories he disseminates, so far as relates to his practical teachings.  Otherwise his utterances will be destitute of the force that should accompany them.  To have their full moral weight upon the people he must be honest, sober, truthful and considerate.

We hold it to be the duty of an evangelist to prepare his mind for the performance of his important function.  He should be in a position to have something to say in due season.  That condition is attained by being en rapport with the Holy Spirit, without which the Elders are enjoined from teaching.  This influence of pure intelligence is cultivated in two ways, by strict moral rectitude and by reading, study and reflection.

To rely entirely upon the Spirit for matter with which to feed the sheep of Christ is, however, inconsistent with the teachings in the covenants and commandments.  The special function of the Spirit in operating upon the preacher is to assist him by bringing truths to his remembrance.  If truth has not been mastered, possessed or comprehended it is not possible for it to be forgotten, and what has not been forgotten cannot be reinstated in the memory.  On extraordinary occasions, in order to accomplish the designs of God, a man is blessed with a remarkable degree of supernatural power in that regard without any apparent effort on his part, but this is not the usual method in which the Lord operates upon His servants.  He leaves something for them to do, that their powers may be developed by use, and they become centres of intelligence, from experience.  As a rule, an attempt to bring forth intelligent ideas from a barren mind to store which with truth no pains have been taken would be about equal to dropping a bucket into a dry well and pulling it up with the expectation of obtaining a supply of water with which to slake the thirst of the weary pilgrim.  This figure as applied to the waters of life, is decidedly appropriate.

One whose duty it is to preach the principles of truth should give his mind to reading good books and to close thought.  By these means greater mental activity is produced by the effort put forth and a fund of truth is store away for use at the proper moment, when duty calls.

Some may soothe themselves with the excuse that, being under the necessity of laboring hard, they are unable to devote time to this preparatory cultivation.  But the world furnishes so many examples of men who have overcome the most formidable obstacles in the pursuit of knowledge, that it is hardly necessary to state that there are but few instances in which this apology would hold good.  Most of these glorious examples have been furnished by men who have not had the magnificent incentives to encourage them that exist in the case of the Latter-day Saints.  But taking the chief one as an instance that has been given inside the Church, we have but to note the course in this respect that was pursued by the founder, in the hands of the Almighty, of this work.  When the Lord took hold of Joseph Smith he was an untutored and comparatively ignorant youth.  He was the medium through which came the direct voice of Divine revelation, but he also personally pursued, up to the time of his martyrdom, a studious and progressive line of conduct, causing his natural powers to shine with remarkable lustre.  Half an hour spent daily in storing the mind with truth will enable one who thus utilizes even that brief space of time to make astonishing progress.

It is not to be properly implied from this reasoning that the evangelists of the Church should have recourse to cut and dried sermons.  This is opposed to the genius of the labors of Elders, because it eliminates a principle of power and intelligence and usurps one of the chief functions of the Holy Spirit.  That influence not only searches the mind of the speaker, but also knows the needs of the hearers, and deals out a fitting portion to each, of instruction, admonition or rebuke.  He who proposes and arranges beforehand what he shall say prevents these operations, placing his own wisdom before that of the Spirit–the great universal Teacher.  The man who prepares in this technical way also betrays a lack of faithk, evidently doubting whether the Spirit will come to his aid.  The Elders of experience have had many evidences of the power of the Holy Ghost as a searcher and instructor when they have trusted in His power.  When they have been illumined by that influence they have been enabled to lay bare to the people the inmost thoughts of their hearts, so that numbers of listeners have imagined they were the direct objects of the discourse, and have so acknowledged.

A clear and forcible habit of thought is an indispensable prerequisite to expression of the same quality.  As a rule, if a matter is vividly comprehended by the speaker, it will be the more clearly presented to the listener.

One of the leading aims of the preacher should be to be guided by prudence.  Without wisdom the most gifted and brilliant men are in danger of injuring themselves, the cause they are presumed to represent and the people to whom they make their communications.  Wisdom is the rudder that guides the ship safely toward the desired haven.  The vessel that has not that directing power is minus the ability to steer clear of the rocks and breakers upon which the wind, waves and tide may drift it, and a wreck is the result.  Due respect should be paid to the probable effect of that which is spoken, the spirit of the prophet being subject to the prophet.”  (Editorial, “The Home Mission,” DN 36(34):534, 7 Sep., 1887)

23 Sep.:  Woodruff didn’t want Pres Bishop to handle cash.

“Pres Woodruff, Cannon & Smith at the office.  Conversation was had with Bps Burton & Winder in regard to all the cash tithing & all cash received being collected & desbersed in & from the Bishop’s office.  the Presiding Bishop having control of all cash receipts & disbursemts.  Prest Woodruff was not satisfied with this method & said there must be some change.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 23 Sep., 1887)

6 Oct.:  Dissension among the Twelve.

“Conference convened this Morning at 10 oclock in the Tabernacle.  The brethren who could not attend were at the office  Elder L Snow presided.  the council of Apostles met at 7 oclock at the Presidents office.  I met with them  The ill feelings among some of the quorum was spoken of by Pres Woodruff.  very forceably.  I never attended such a meeting.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 6 Oct., 1887)

12 Oct.:  Joseph conferred the keys upon the 12.

“After the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph there were pretenders who asserted that they had the right to take his place at the head of the Church.  Some were deceived by their pretensions, not being familiar with the order of the Priesthood.

For some time before his death, the Prophet Joseph was inspired of the Lord to anticipate his own departure from earthly scenes.  This was shown in various ways; but especially in the great anxiety which he displayed to bestow upon the Twelve Apostles all the keys and authority of the Holy Priesthood which he had received.  He declared in private and in public that they were equipped and fully qualified, and that he had rolled the kingdom of God on to the shoulders of the Twelve Apostles.

I, Wilford Woodruff, being the last man living in the flesh who was present upon that occasion feel it a duty I owe to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to the House of Israel, and to the whole world to bear this my last testimony to all nations, that in the winter of 1843-4, Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God, called the Twelve Apostles together in the City of Nauvoo, and spent many days with us in giving us our endowments, and teaching us those glorious principles which God had revealed to him.  And upon one occasion he stood upon his feet in our midst for nearly three hours declaring unto us the great and last dispensation which God had set His hand to perform upon the earth in these last days.  The room was filled as if with consuming fire; the Prophet was clothed upon with much of the power of God, and his face shone and was transparently clear, and he closed that speech, never-to-be-forgotten in time or in eternity, with the following language:

Brethren, I have had great sorrow of heart for fear that I might be taken from the earth with the keys of the Kingdom of God upon me, without sealing them upon the heads of other men.  God has sealed upon my head all the keys of the Kingdom of God necessary for organizing  and building up of the Church, Zion, and Kingdom of God upon the earth, and to prepare the Saints for the coming of the Son of Man.  Now, brethren, I thank God I have lived to see the day that I have been enabled to give you your endowments, and I have now sealed upon your heads all the powers of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods and Apostleship, with all the keys and powers thereof, which God has sealed upon me; and I now roll off all the labor, burden and care of this Church and Kingdom of God upon your shoulders, and bear off this Church and Kingdom of God before heaven and earth, and before God, angels and men; and if you don’t do it you will be damned.

And the same spirit that filled the room at that time burns in my bosom while I record this testimony, and the Prophet of God appointed no one else but the Twelve Apostles to stand at the head of the Church and direct its affairs.”  (“An Epistle to the Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” by Wilford Woodruff, “in behalf of the Council of the Twelve Apostles;” DN 36(39):616, 12 Oct., 1887)