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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1888

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1888.” You can view other years here.

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1888:  70’s loyalty to quorum or bishop?

“The question of moving a Seventy to a different (and perhaps higher) office resurfaced in 1888.  The Council believed, for example, that when a Seventy was wanted for a high priest’s position the Council should be consulted; Apostle F. M. Lyman disagreed.  The question almost became one of whether or not a Seventy had a greater loyalty to his quorum or to his bishop.  (x:49, 89-90)”  (William C. Seifrit, “Introduction to Abraham H. Cannon Journal Index) 

Jan.:  Priesthood on earth mirrors priesthood in heaven.

“Last summer I had a very pleasant walk with Elder Joseph Wells through ‘Annesly Park’ adjoining the estate once owned by Lord Byron.  In our ramble we came to a very large oak, the largest I ever saw.  By our rough measurement it was twenty-seven feet in circumference, and some of its branches were as large as common trees.  The roots were enormous, some of them being visible here and there above the surface of the soil, and extending a number of rods from the trunk.  I remember asking Brother Joseph if he could pluck up that tree by the roots, without breaking them, have the soil shaken off, and the whole thing suspended in the air, if he did not think the botton part of the tree–the roots–would resemble the branches very much.  He said he thought they would.  ‘Well, Brother Joseph,’ said I, ‘In like manner I believe the government of God on earth–the Priesthood–resembles the government of God in heaven.  That as the roots of this tree stretch out in all directions, much in the same way that the branches do, so the quorums, branches and departments of the Priesthood on earth are but what we might call duplicates of the quorums and departments of the Priesthood in heaven.'”  (B. H. Roberts, “The Gods and their Government,” Contributor 9(3):116-117, Jan., 1888)

18 Jan.:  Excommunication.


At a session of the High Council of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion held on Wednesday, January 18th, 1888, Henry I. Doremus was cut off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for contempt of said Council and apostasy.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and the seal of the High Council, this 19th day of January, A.D. 1888.

James D. Stirling,

Clerk of the High Council.”

(Reprint of report of 19 Jan.; DN 37(2):20, 25 Jan., 1888)

25 Jan.:  Seventies Quorums and Theological Classes.


Salt Lake City, Jan. 25th, 1888.

To the Quorums of the Seventies,

Dear Brethren:

We are pleased to again have the opportunity of addressing you by epistle and of making some few suggestions which may not be inappropriate to the organizations among which we have the honor to labor.

The manner of conducting Theological Classes, should, we think, receive the careful attention of all connected therewith.  In the organization of these classes it is not necessary to embrace an entire Quorum in a class, but there may be as many organized as circumstances may require.  It is desired that each President and member should be punctual in attending his class meeting.  High Priests and Elders may, by invitation from the President, attend these classes.  A roll and record should be kept by each class separate from the general Quorum record.

The object of these classes should be the instruction of its members in the science of Theology, the proper development of all truth and the preparation of the Seventies to preach the gospel; and while a thorough acquaintance with the fundamental principles of our religion should here be received, the acquisition of knowledge concerning other matters ought not to be neglected.  In fact, every source of useful information should be opened for the benefit of the Elders in this Church, in order that they may combat error upon scientific as well as religious grounds.  We do not, however, approve of debates or discussions among the brethren of these classes, because any good that may be thus gained is more than counterbalanced in the unpleasant feelings which it is possible to create.  Moreover, we think it very improper to have any of the brethren assume false positions such as those taken by opponents of the gospel, even though the object sought is to exhibit their false doctrines.  We are of the opinion that the same object may be attained without compelling the brethren to argue from premises which they [page 2] know to be incorrect.

We think it of the utmost importance that the Presidents of the various Quorums meet together from time to time to consult about the methods of conducting meetings, the subjects to be considered and other matters of importance.  In this way an interchange of ideas can be had and the best adopted; thus avoiding the direction by one President of all the Quorum affairs according to his personal notion, without regard to the opinions and feelings of his brethren who hold equal authority with him.

No effort should be spared to get all careless and indifferent members to attend their meetings, as this is the only way in which the Quorum can be kept in a healthy and sound condition.  Every Seventy should also feel it his duty to be in attendance at the Stake Conferences, Priesthood and Ward meetings, and thus manifest by his presence the interest he feels in the work of God.  The Stake and Ward authorities, too, should receive the cordial support and ready assistance of the members of these Quorums; and, in fact, in every good work these brethren should be the most active, willing and persevering workers.

In regard to filling up Quorums: where vacancies occur, it is the duty of the Presidents in consultation with their Bishops to make selections; but no President can be ordained without some of the Twelve Apostles or one or more of this Council being present; neither can a member be ordained, except by their direct authority, or by instructions from them so to do.  Every Quorum should have a contingent fund into which each member may pay whatever amount he feels his circumstances will justify.  The means thus obtained should be disbursed as the Quorum may direct.  This fund should be separate from the general fund, into which it is expected each member will pay 50 cents annually.  We are pleased to state that a few of the Quorums have responded to our call for means to pay the general expenses, while [page 3] others have either paid nothing or have only remitted a portion of the amount allotted to each Quorum.  As our expenses are continuous we trust the Quorums will be prompt in forwarding to us their annual dues.

We regret very much to say that some Quorums have exhibited an indifference or carelesness in regard to our communications which is unworthy of them.  Notwithstanding our efforts to obtain complete genealogical lists, answers to questions and other desirable and necessary information, our wishes have been either unheeded, or have met with such unsatisfactory responses as to be of very little service to us.  Some Quorums have shown a promptness and accuracy which are very commendable, and we hope that all will see the necessity of promptly and correctly answering all inquiries of this Council.

At our Seventies’ Conferences which have been [h]eld in some of the Stakes we have had very encouraging reports and have rejoiced exceedingly in the spirit manifested.  We hope to soon extend our labors so as to afford the brethren in each Stake of Zion the opportunity of thus meeting together, so that ideas may be exchanged and the best methods be found of conducting meetings and promoting the welfare of the Quorums.

We will be pleased to receive communications at any time from the brethren, and any information it is in our power to impart, will be gladly given.  Hoping that prosperity may be continued to the Saints and that God’s blessings may attend the labors of all His servants….

P.S.–All letters as heretofore will be addressed to Robert Campbell, 344 E. South Temple Street, Salt Lake City.”  (Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 8, Fd 12, H. S. Eldredge to the Quorums of the Seventies, 25 Jan 1888)

20-26 Mar.:  Division among the Twelve.

“[20]  I am sorry to have to record in my Journal that there is quite a Division in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  Most of the younger Brethren are Bringing Accusations against G Q Cannon but He proves them all to be fals.  We spent a painful Day.  A spirit of Jealously has crept into the Quorum.

I presented the importance of organizing the first Presidency.  The following Names sustained it:  W. Woodruff Lorenzo Snow F D Richards B Young & John W Taylor & D H Wells And the following Names opposed it: Erastus Snow Moses Thatcher F. M. Lyman John Henry Smith & Heber J Grant.  We had a vary unpleasant day.  I could not Sleep at night. . . .

[21]  This whole day also was spent by the Brethren of the Twelve in bringing Accusation against George Q Cannon.  I Called upon the Quorum to bring to light all the Accusations they had against Brother Cannon As the younger Brethren including Erastus Snow was filled with Jealousey against him And He proved Evry accusation against him to be fals.  He was Acused of using church Money to for [sic] his Son John Q for Embezeling Church Money.  He proved them to be fals.  Th[en?] of paying large sums of Church Money in the Iron Mine that He proved to be fals.  Also in dealing with the Beck Mine.  That was proved vals and Evry other Accusation was proved fals.  It was another painful day. . . .

[22]  We spent this whole day in Council the same as the other 2 days hearing Accusation against G Q Cannon.  The same Accusation over & over again.  I told the Twelve to bring out Every thing they Could off[er] against him and they Continued to do it but it was all fals.  I Could not sleep at night. . . .

[23]  We spent this whole day also in bringing forth Accusation & trying to settle up our difficulties but it was also A painful day.  I think the most so of any one.  The more we tryed to get to gether the wider apart we were.  Erastus Snow Accusations were & fals.  Here we have spent four days in listning to the Accusations of five Apostles against G. Q. Cannon and six sustained him.  I never saw as much bitterness manifest against one good man by 5 Apostles since the days of the Apostate Twelve against the Prophet Joseph in Kirtland and all through Jealousy as Br Cannon was first Councillor to John Taylor and the blame of any acts of Presidet Taylor that five of the Twelve did not think was right was laid to George Q Cannon.  It is painful to record these things but it is true.  We have tryed to settle these things but so far we are still apart.

Erastus Snow accused Br Cannon & in some measure applyed to myself that we were men worshipers sycophants & todyism And it Stird my blood & showed up Erastus Snow life & Course And I think done wrong & went to far in the matter, but when our Meeting Closed we were not to gether but we adjourned untill Monday at 10 oclok. . . .

[26]  We spent the day in Council.  All was reconciled at night.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 20-26 Mar., 1888)

“I went to see Father [George Q. Cannon] about 8 a.m., and had a long conversation with him.  He has been passing through deep water lately as some members of the Twelve have been accusing him wrongfully; but by the blessing of God he has thus far overturned all schemes of the Adversary to bring him into trouble, and he feels that the Lord will give him success.  His great strength lies in the fact that there are none of his actions but what he can defend, and show that his intentions were good in doing them.  He has suffered very much because of John Q.’s affair, and it has been used as a handle with which to beat him.  I feel, however, that God will sustain Father because I know his motives are pure.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 23 Mar., 1888)

21 Mar.:  Ban on new 70’s and quorums.

“Attended my Council meeting at 2 p.m., and assisted Bros. Eldredge, Gates and Young with the business.  A communication from Bro. Woodruff in behalf of the Twelve Apostles which was presented today, advises us to ordain no more Seventies and organize no more new quorums without first consulting with the Apostles.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 21 Mar., 1888) 

5 Apr.:  Ordained an Elder improperly; reordained.

“My son Will was ordained an Elder by Brother W. H. Kelsey.  The wording of it was like this, ‘I ordain you an Elder in the Springville Ward to the Church, etc.’  I objected to the ordination on account of the limited sphere given him to act in.  The Bishop vindicated the ordination and I let it pass then, but sent word to President of Logan Temple, W. W. Merrill, how he was ordained, and Brother Merrill ordained him again and sent me word to have the last ordination recorded.”  (Oliver B. Huntington journal, 5 Apr., 1888)

6 Apr.:  Council of 70 neglectful of duties.

“After being at the office a short time in the morning, I went to see Father, who told me that the matter of the First Seven Presidents of the Seventies were mentioned in the Council of the Twelve and the remark had been made that we did not fully tend to our duties.  the proposition was also made to pay us a salary, which matter was referred to a committee, so that we might devote less time to business and more to our ministry.  I told Father I would prefer to receive no salary, and as for neglect of duty I had tried to do my best.  It would, however, please me very much if I could be honorably released from my position as it was very trying to me to go out and preach to the people.  He then exhorted me strongly to battle against this man-fearing spirit and try to do my duty at all times.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 6 Apr., 1888)

6 Apr.:  Salaries for stake and ward leaders.

“The Council of the Apostles have had under consideration the subject of the proper remuneration for the Presidents of Stakes and their Counselors.  It has been felt for some time that where officers act in such an important position as the Presidency of a Stake, and whose time is much engrossed with public affairs, some appropriation should be made to assist them in bearing the pecuniary burdens which rest upon them connected with the sustenance of their families.  Among other names which came up before the Council, were yours, and it was decided to allow the President of your Stake Eight hundred Dollars per annum, and each of the Counselors Four hundred Dollars; these amounts to be paid quarterly, in advance, commencing April 1st, 1888, and to be drawn in the various kinds of tithing received, in equitable proportions.  You will have sent you from my office an order to cover these amounts, and they will be remitted to you quarterly, hereafter. . .

Respecting the percentage which was authorized by the late President John Taylor, in his capacity as Trustee-in-Trust, as compensation to the Bishops and Clerk in the Wards and Stakes, the Council have decided that this shall hereafter be distributed by the Presidency and the High Council of each Stake, and according to the amount and value of the services rendered by the Bishops and Clerks of the Wards, and to the Bishop’s Agent or Stake Clerk.  You will, therefore, please consider this hereafter as a part of your duties, in connection with the High Council of your Stake, and we trust that you will be able to give such satisfaction in the equitable distribution of this that there will be no complaints.”  (First Presidency to President and Counselors of St. George Stake, 6 Apr., 1888.  In Clark, Messages 3:163) 

6 May:  Rebaptism/reordination following excommunication.

“John Q. [Cannon] was then confirmed by Father [Geo. Q. Cannon] a member of the Church and ordained an Elder.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 6 May, 1888)

19 Jun.:  Procedure for blessing a baby.

“About 10 a.m. I went to see Mina, and, after some little controversy, decided to name the baby Wilhelmina Ardella.  I desired to wait till afternoon and have her father present at the blessing, but she thought it ‘bad luck’ to postpone it.  I therefore blessed the baby with the above name alone.  Mina was not satisfied, she thinking it necessary to mention the last name (Cannon) in the blessing.  I therefore had Uncle Angus bless the baby again in the afternoon when he mentioned the full name, though he said such was not absolutely necessary.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 19 Jun., 1888)

4 Aug.:  Priesthood needs to awaken.

“The necessity and importance of the Bishops and ward teachers expending more time than is done in some instances in visiting the families of the Saints at their homes and administering temporal blessings where needed in connection with spiritual food, was impressed upon all.  It was also stated that the time had come for the Priesthood and the people to awake, and be united in maintaining the principles of righteousness in the earth, to the glory of God and the salvation of the pure in heart.”  (Minutes of Salt Lake Stake Priesthood Meeting, 4 Aug.; DN 37(30):469, 8 Aug., 1888)

15 Aug.:  Protocol for transfer of 70’s to HP quorums.

“I attended my Council meeting at 1 p.m. and assisted Bros. Gates and Young in transacting the business of which there was not a great deal.  Bro. Eldredge is still quite sick.  Seymour feels quite hurt at the way he was treated by Apostle F. M. Lyman at the Wasatch Stake Quarterly Conference about a week ago.  He had stated that as a matter of courtesy at least when any member of the Seventies’ Quorus was wanted for use as a High Priest it would be no more than right that the Presidents should be consulted in regard to it, before the removal of the desired brother.  Bro. Lyman immediately arose and said this was not necessary, for when men were wanted they were to be taken without consulting anybody.  Still Pres. Woodruff and Father approve of our instructions that Quorum presidents should be consulted before removals are made.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 15 Aug., 1888)

2 Sep.:  SL Stake Home Missionaries sustained.

88 Home Missionaries were sustained in the SL Stake Conference.  (Salt Lake Stake Conference minutes, 2 Sep., 1888; DN 37(34):541, 5 Sep., 1888)

9 Sep.:  Church courts.

“One of the chief doctrines of the Gospel is that of reconciliation.  If thy brother offend thee, go to him alone and seek to effect a settlement and reconciliation.  Should this effort be unsuccessful, the next step is one of arbitration.  A third party is called in to endeavor to effect a reconciliation.  Should this attempt fail, Bishop’s courts may be resorted to, and they have authority to adjudicate differences between brethren.  From this court an appeal may be taken by either party to the High Council of the Stake.  This is a body of fifteen High Priests, all of whom are supposed to be disinterested men, imbued with the Spirit of God.  They are commanded not to judge in favor of the rich, because they are rich, nor the poor because they are poor; but in all righteousness.  The members of a Stake High Council ought to be righteous men, free from prejudice, and able to rise above all bias.

Should this court err, an appeal will lie to a still higher court.  The Book of Doctrine and Covenants declares that the decisions of the High Councils in the Stakes are equal to those of the Twelve Apostles, but there is spoken of in the Doctrine and Covenants, a court which is the highest of all.  It is called the High Council of the Church, and is presided over by the President of the Church.  This is the highest tribunal in the Church, and its decision is an end of controversy in spiritual matters.  But from this court there is still an appeal, to God and the angels; for decisions made by any tribunal on earth, which are not made in accord with equity and justice, will fail to receive the approval of God.

The speaker further explained the jurisprudence of the Church, and expounded the functions and authority of its courts and officers, and maintained that, running through all of the revelations God had given upon this subject, for the government of His Church, there is found the principle of common consent.”  (Moses Thatcher, Minutes of Sabbath Tabernacle Meeting, 9 Sep.; DN 37(36):571, 19 Sep., 1888)

13 Sep.:  The Whitmerites.

“Toward evening we went on foot about one and a half miles south of Richmond to the house of John c. Whitmer, the only living son of Jacob Whitmer.  He is the presiding Elder of the so-called Whitmerites, and is a respectable farmer, fifty-three years of age.  He received us kindly and gave us some information that is highly appreciated in regard to the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and others.  His uncles Christian and Peter Whitmer both died as faithful Elders in the Church in Clay County, Mo., the first named Nov. 27, 1835, and the latter Sept. 22, 1836.  Both bore faithful and unfliching testimonies to the last of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.  Jacob Whitmer died in Richmond, April 21, 1856, aged 56 years, 2 months and 26 days.  John Whitmer died in Far West, Caldwell County, Mo., in 1878, and Hiram Page died on a farm about fourteen miles west of Richmond, near the boundary line of Clay County, Aug. 12, 1852.

John C. Whitmer testified as follows concerning the witnesses:

I was closely connected with Hiram Page in business transactions and other matters, he being married to my aunt.  I knew him at all times and under all circumstances to be true to his testimony concerning the divinity of the Book of Mormon.  I was also at the deathbed of Oliver Cowdery in 1850, and I heard him speak to my uncle David (Whitmer) and say: ‘Brother David, be faithful to our testimony to the Book of Mormon, for we know that it is of God and that it is verily true.’  He then closed his eyes in death.  My father, Jacob Whitmer, was always faithful and true to his testimony to the Book of Mormon, and confirmed it on his deathbed.  Of my Uncle John (Whitmer) I will say that I was with him a short time before he died at Far West, Missouri, when he confirmed to me what he had done so many times previously that he knew the Book of Mormon was true.  I was also with Uncle David (Whitmer), who died here in January last, and heard him bear his last testimony in the presence of many witnesses whom he had called together for the occasion.  He solemnly declared that the record of the Nephites, as he always called the Book of Mormon, was of God, and his testimony concerning it true.’

John C. Whitmer then gave us in substance the following particulars in regard to the church over which he presides:  He was baptized by his uncle, David Whitmer, Sept. 15, 1875, and by him also ordained an Elder January 28, 1876, receiving instructions to go forth and preach the Gospel as it had been taught by Joseph the Prophet and organize a new church according to the original pattern, in which he (John C.) was to be the first Elder.  In obedience to this he immediately commenced his labors and succeeded in baptizing the first three individuals on the following Feb. 17, (1876).  Others followed and soon the new church commenced to hold meetings and completed their organization as far as their numbers would permit them.  They now claim to have about one hundred members, all told.  Some of these reside in and around Richmond, others in Independence, Jackson County, while the remainder live in a more scattered condition in Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, Tennessee, California and other states.  The few around Richmond and as many of the others who can conveniently come together hold meetings every third Sunday in a small schoolhouse situated about a mile and a half south of Richmond in the school district where John C. Whitmer, their president, resides.  The Whitmerites or as they call themselves the Church of Christ, believe only a part of the revelations given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, but they take the Book of Mormon and the New Testament as their standard and rule of faith.  Anything that agreees with the teachings of these two books they accept, and everything that conflicts therewith they reject.  They have no High Priests in their church as they do not believe in that order of the Priesthood, but they have a few Elders, Priests and Teachers.  They have no Deacons, but believe in the order, and would also ordain Apostles and Seventies, if the number of their members would allow it, but there being so few of them they could not possibly find element enough to ordain twelve Apostles, say nothing about seventy men wherewith to make a quorum of Seventies.  Elder Stevenson suggested that the Whitmerites and Hendrickites unite so as to make a stronger body; whereupon Mr. Whitmer said he expected to visit Independence in a few weeks, when he hoped to be able to baptize all the Hendrickites into his church.”  (Andrew Jenson, Edward Stevenson, Joseph S. Black, “Historical Landmarks,” DN 37(37):579, 26 Sep., 1888)

19 Sep.:  Common consent.

“About 60 years ago, an illiterate boy became a student in the ethics of religion, and the science of government under the tuition of the Lord Himself.  The result of the knowledge revealed to him, we have today in what is known as ‘Mormonism,’ a system of religion, which is called a theocracy.  In the sense in which Carlyle, the eminent Scotch historian uses the word theocracy, i.e.: the Government of God among men, the organization of this Church is theocratic.  But in the sense in which the term is usually understood among the masses of the people of our common country, that is: centralization of power and rule in the hands of irresponsible men, believin gin the exercise of autocratic power, our Church organization is not theocratic.

It lacks all elements of tyranny, authocracy and injustice, and is the freest and most absolutely just form of ecclesiastical government on earth.  It may be called and is a theo-democracy.l  It is not in the power of the officers of the Church to enforce any measure, or exercise any form of rule or dominion without the consent of the people.

True, nominations of Church officers do not come from the people; they come from God through their leaders.  It is said that nomination among the Saints is equivalent to election.  So it should be where the people have the same mind as their leaders, and are inspired by the same spirit.  But there ought not to be a child in the Church in ignorance of the fact that any member of the Church has a right to vote against any man or measure that may be proposed for the acceptance of the people.  The Lord commanded the Prophet Joseph to submit to the Church for its approval or rejection the names of men, designated by revelation, to fill certain offices in the Church.

God is never willing to permit the use of coercion upon the human mind.  How can we be intelligent if we are not free to choose the good and reject the bad?  God revealed the plan of salvation, one of the chief corner stones of which was common consent.  Christ led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men; and among those gifts there was none greater than that of free agency–the right of choice in all things.

In the council of the Gods, held before the world was created, Lucifer proposed a plan of salvation, the chief feature of which was coercion.  It was rejected.  Jesus proposed to come upon the earth and suffer his blood to be shed to redeem, and secure liberty to, the children of men, and his plan was accepted.

The strongest sentiment felt by intelligent beings in heaven or on earth, is love.  Hatred is weak; so is coercion; but love is strong.  Therefore if the ‘Mormon’ leders have great power over the people, it is because the people love them.  The law of God to the Latter-day Saints is that unrighteous dominion must not be exercised.  The Prophet Joseph said that almost all men were prone to do this when clothed with power, and for this reason said that of the many who were called but few would be chosen.”  (Moses Thatcher, Minutes of Sabbath Tabernacle Meeting, 9 Sep.; DN 37(36):571, 19 Sep., 1888)

“There is nothing clearer, in the authorized written exponents of ‘Mormon’ doctrine and discipline, than that the body of the Church, composed of its baptized members, male and female, is to be consulted on all questions of ecclesiastical polity and government, and that all things in the Church must be done ‘by common consent.’  Therefore the statement made by Apostle Moses Thatcher, in the Tabernacle on Sunday Sept. 9th, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a ‘theo-democracy,’ is precisely correct.

Utterances of this kind seem to enrage a certain class of minds, extremely.  Having misrepresented the ‘Mormon’ people persistently for years, they are angered beyond decency when conclusive arguments are made that shatter their falsehoods and grind them into impalpable dust.  Oneo fht emost frequent untruths told to the world is that ‘Mormonism’ is a religious despotism, in which the priests rule as an irresponsible hierarchy, and nothing is left for the mass of the people but to do as they are bidden.

This answers very well to deceive the multitude.  The pulpit takes up the refrain and the press echoes the error.  Scarcely any effort is made to find out the facts.  And so the country resounds with remarks about ‘the Mormon hierarchy’ and ‘the absolute rule of the Mormon priesthood,’ when a little fair inquiry would show beyond doubt that no such thing exists in the Church that is thus defamed.

The principle of ecclesiastical government in this Church is a union of the will of God and the wil of the people.  Vox Dei et vox populi.  When they agree and the agreement is made active in practice, the highest and most perfect form of government is reached.  Divine wisdom and authority, with human assent and voluntary obedience make a combination of power and right, rule and liberty that cannot be excelled.  It unites the heavenly and the earthly and establishes order without tyranny.

It is difficult, apparently, for some of our opponents to comprehend how there can be any liberty where there is belief that God reveals His will to man.  They cannot see how people can be free to act in any matter, on their own volition, when the word of the Lord is given concerning it.  This comes from hasty judgment and failure to investigate.

One principle that must be kept in view in studying the dealings of God with mankind is the agency of the creature.  The mind of man is free.  He may choose good or evil as he elects.  Both are placed before him and he can make his own selections.  As the tree of life and the tree of death were placed in the primeval paradise, and man could pluck the fruit of either at will, so are the rights and the wrongs which man can do in this world placed before all people during their earthly career, and their actions are left free.  God told the pair in the garden not to eat of the fruit of one tree, but they did eat of it, all the same, and they had to suffer the consequences.  The will and word of the Lord did not prevent their act of disobedience.  Neither did the temptation of the opposing influence compel their disobedience.  They had their agency.  So have all their poesterity and God never interferes with it, nor can Satan deprive them of it.

It is a mistake to suppose that the mere fact that God reveals or even commands a thing, implies man’s obedience to that which is revealed.  The history of the race proves to the contrary.  The story of sin is a narration of human disregard of the laws of Deity.  The idea that knowledge destroys sin is erroneous.  The more light the greater the sin of disobedience.  It is those who know the Master’s will and do it not, who are to be ‘beaten with many stripes.’  The mere understanding of right does not hinder the doing of wrong, but the knowledge makes the sin more flagrant.  Many a drunkard will imbibe, knowing that it is both sinful against God and destructive to his own body.  It is the same with other offenses against Divine and human laws.

The will of God is always right.  The will of man is often wrong.  Yet the Lord has respect to the agency which he has bestowed upon mankind, and while His Spirit will prompt and guide, and inspire and give light to man, it will not ‘always strive’ with him and does not ever force him.  Even prophecy, which ‘comes not by the will of man,’ is within the control of the mind impressed, and ‘the spirit of the prophets’ is thus ‘subject unto the prophets;’ their utterance is not compulsory, their agency is not invaded.  They can ‘quench the spirit’ if they choose to do so.  The will of man is independent in its sphere, even as the will of God is, in its sphere.  They should unite, but that they do not is a truth beyond rational dispute.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called the ‘Mormon’ Church, is built upon the mutual recognition of Divine and human rights.  It is founded on the revelations of the Most High God and His Son Jesus Christ.  Their voluntary acceptance by the Church establishes them as the doctrines of the Church.  No matter how true, right and divine they may be in and of themselves, they are not the doctrines of the Church until accepted by the Church.  It is the same with the Church authorities.  God confers the Priesthood, for it comes from Him.  It is Divine authority.  But that authority must be voluntarily recognized by the Church before it can be exercised therein.

At the organization of the Church, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had to be accepted as Elders by the members composing the body before they could act in that capacity to the Church, although they had been called by the voice of God and ordained to the Apostleship by heavenly messengers.  One of the earliest revelations to the Church, upon the subject of Church governemtn, given in April, 1830, says:

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.

The elders are to receive their licenses from other elders by vote of the church to which they belong, or from the conference.  (D&C 20)

A man may be a Prophet, called of God and endowed with all the gifts and powers of a Moses, and yet, until accepted by the body of the Church, he cannot preside over them in any capacity.  It is the right of the people to say whether they will have him to preside over them or not.  The consequences of rejecting him will of course be theirs.  Prophets, sent of God, have been rejected time and again by the people to whom they were sent.  Even Jesus, the Christ, ‘came to his own and his own received him not.’  He was the Son of God, but they were not compelled to accept him.

On the 19th of January 1841, a revelation was given, in which the Lord named and gave to the Church its General Authorities, from Joseph Smith to be ‘a presiding elder, a translator, a revelator, a seer and a prophet,’ down through all the grades of the priesthood to the deacons’ quorum.  But the right of the Church to their voice in the matter, was thus Divinely recognized:

And a commandment I give unto you that you should fill all these offices and approve of those names which I have mentioned, or else disapprove of them at my general conference.  (D&C 125)

This is theo-democratic, and corresponds with the general rule laid down for the government of the Church in the beginning.  In July, 1830, in a revelation the Lord said:

And all things shall be done by common consent in the Church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith.  (D&C 26)

Twice a year at the general conferences the Church authorities are presented for the vote of the body of the Church.  Some may regard this as a mere form.  But it is a solemn reality.  The very act of calling for both affirmative and negative votes on every question, is a public announcement of the rights of the body of the members.  The principle is exemplified.  An opportunity is given for rejection as well as endorsement of the officers named.  It is the same in the Stake and Ward organizations.  No President or Bishop is appointed without the vote of the people among whom he is to officiate.  The nomination should come from God or by his authority, and the acceptance or rejection should be freely manifested by the people specially interested.

In the councils of the Priesthood freedom of expression is, or ought to be, encouraged.  The rights of all are respected by heaven and due provision is made for their esercise on earth.  It is not true that the ‘Mormons’ think every utterance of a leading man in the Priesthood is the word of the Lord.  Revelations by commandment to the Church come only through the man upheld and sustained by the body as the President, who alone holds the keys of that authority by the will of God and the common consent of the Church.  And he holds no absolute, irresponsible and arbitrary powers.  If the Church does not receive what he brings forth, he has no power to compel their action, even as he has no power to force their belief.

The very idea of compulsion, tyranny, coercion of any kind is foreign to the genius of ‘Mormonism.’  If any man holding authority has attempted to exercise it by force, he has gone astray from the spirit of his calling.  The gospel is ‘a perfect law of liberty.’  The Church has rules, regulations, discipline.  But they have been adopted by common consent.  Those who will not be governed by them can go outside the Church and act as they please; no one will compel them to act as the Church discipline requires or prevent their withdrawal.  There are Church courts or councils for the settlement of individual difficulties and to try charges against transgressors.  But the utmost penalty they can enforce is excommunication; they cannot fine or imprison or in any way interfere with the liberty of the offender.

In political affairs the Church cuts no figures as an organization.  Its presiding officers, however, can give their advice upon any matter affecting the welfare of the members.  By revelation they have been commanded to uphold all constitutional laws of the land, and to seek and sustain for public office ‘good men and wise men.’  This duty they have a legal right to perform.  They claim no other.  The voting power of the people is free.  Under the local laws a strictly secret ballot protects that freedom beyond rational cavil.  Influential men of the Church have their rights as citizens in common with others, and one of those rights is the choice of men for office and the free expression of that choice.  But they do not attempt to force their views upon others, nor pretend that they have the right to do so by virtue of any ecclesiastical authority either held or assumed.

Here is the word of the Lord in regard to the powers of the Priesthood, which they hold as mandatory upon them and as prohibitory of the exercise of any species of despotism:

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the Priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness, and meekness, and by love unfeigned, by kindness and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge thy soul without hypocrisy and without guile.

The theory, then, the doctrine, the genius of ‘Mormon’ Church government is not in any sense absolutism, or the rule of a few over the many by priestly dictation.  It is in very deed and truth a theo-democracy, and power is in the hands of the body of the people to have just such presiding officers and such church regulations as they will.  But they believe in the revelations given for their guidance, and have faith thatk, when it becomes necessary, the Lord will manifest again through the appointed head whom they recognize in that capacity, such things as are not already revealed for their church government.  When such revelation comes, if they receive it as Divine, the faithful among them will endeavor to carry it into effect.  But all retain their agency and can receive or reject as they may choose.  The result of their acts will be according to their deserts.

Without the power of agency there could be no just judgment for the deeds done in the body.  Rewards and punishments are predicated on this power.  There is nothing in the Church to arrest or curtail its exercise, and therefore every ‘Mormon’ is free.  He is free in faith, free in works, free in religion, free in politics, and if he lives by his creed he is free from everything that brings the soul into bondage.  He will be glad and thankful to receive Divine guidance and to render cheerful obedience to the decrees of heaven.  But in doing so he will exercise that agency which is his right as an intelligent, reponsible being,m and not in the spirit of bondage, as a serf.  He is a son of God, an heir of salvation, and his desire is to be one with the Father, living and acting in harmony with the Divine Spirit and the Divine purpose, for in that is the greatest present joy and the assurance of everlasting happiness and glory in worlds without end.”  (Editorial, “The Priesthood and the People,” DN 37(36):568-569, 19 Sep., 1888)

3 Oct.:  God’s authority and man’s liberty.

“We have demonstrated in these columns that ‘Mormonism’ is not the despotism described by its opponents and believed by the multitude, but a system in which every member has a free voice and vote.  Also that it combines the principles of theocratic authority and democratic power.  And that its very spirit and tendencies foster freedom and inculcate individual thought and responsibility.  But its enemies strongly object to the doctrine of present revelation, which is fundamental in its creed, and without which it would be as worthyless as the various man-made religions that perplex and divide mankind.  They seem to hate the very idea of Divine interference in the affairs of men, and claim that the bondage of the mind is inevitable to a belief that any man receives for others the word and will of God.

And yet this is the very essence of Biblical religion.  The books of the Old Testament and the New are authoritative throughout Christendom, because they are believed to contain the word of the Lord through Prophets and Apostles.  The Mosaic dispensation rests upon the revelations of God through the Hebrew leader, Moses, and is sustained by the messages sent from Deity to man through the sers who succeeded him.  The Christian dispensation depends uopn the manifestations of Deity through Jesus of Nazareth and His disciples.  And without belief in Divine communications to mankind through chosen individuals there would be no religions in the world

If it be admitted that God ever spoke to man, and ever had a mouthpiece on earth to any family, tribe or nation, dissent to present revelation becomes illogical and inconsistent.  If God never spoke to man in the past, it might be reasonable to say he does not reveal His will in the present.  But if Divine revelation was ever given, it may be given now, and it is just as rational to believe in present as in ancient communications from heaven.  God’s power to reveal is not limited by time; man’s ability to receive is not a faculty of a special period.  God is the same yesterday, to-day and for ever; man is His offspring and dependent upon Him for light as much in the nineteenth century as in the first, and in the latter days as in the earliest ages.

It is folly, in the face of history and experience, to say that man’s freedom is infringed by God’s revelations.  Even if people believe a message, delivered by one having Divine authority, to come from the Almighty, they are still perfectly free as to its acceptance and their action in relation to it.  God told Israel of old not to have a King.  He also warned them of the consequences if they rejected His counsel.  But they would have a King, they did have a King, and the results were just as god through His prophet predicted.  So it will be always.  When the Almighty reveals His will, man is free to obey or disobey.  But the consequences are inevitable and natural.  And man will be judged for his acts by one who never swerves from the principles of eternal justice balanced with eternal mercy.

There is no compulsion in the teachings or spirit of ‘Mormonism’ nor in the discipline of the ‘Mormon’ Church.  Belief in present revelation does not imply coercion in any sense of the word.  The doctrine of the Church is that every member is entitled to seek for and receive divine communications and manifestations for his or her own guidance, profit and elightenment.  They will come according to the faith, capacity and integrity of the suppliant.  But to the Church, in its organized entirety, only one man at a time is to receive the word and will of the Lord for its government, and that man is the head, called of God, chosen and sustained as such by the free vote of the people composing the Church.

But it is asked, ‘After the people have accepted him, what then?’  And it is said ‘their reasoning faculties cannot be exercised on any question in which his authority is urged.’  The answer is, they are just as free then as before, to receive or reject what he brings forth claiming to be the word of the Lord.  It is not true that they are deprived of or hindered in the exercise of their ‘reasoning faculties.’  It is every man’s right to act on his own agency and on his own conceptions of right and wrong, becuase he is to be judged for his own acts, and he must therefore be left free to do or not to do as he himself elects.  If a man does not believe a professed Divine revelation through one whom he recognizes as the properly authorized person to receive such communications, he is not compelled to accept it and act upon it.  And if he does believe it, his agency is still free and he can do as he wills concerning it.  His reasoning faculties are not destroyed or impaired by his belief.

Israel of old believed that God had commanded them through Moses not to intermarry with the nations around them.  Yet they broke this Divine injunction repeatedlyk, and always with evil results to the transgressors.  It is the same today.  There are people who will break the Sabbath and yet all the time they know that God has commanded them not to do so, both through ancient Prophets and by His chosen mouthpiece in the present age whom they recognized and have sustained in that capacity.  The people do not lose the exercise of their reasoning faculties by believing anything right to be Divine, nor do they lost the power to act freely in relation to it.  There is just as much ‘free thought’ in accepting as in rejecting Divine revelation, and just as much ‘independence’ in acting upon it as in rebelling against it.

There is no such thing in ‘Mormonism’ as a man, or any set of men, to do other people’s thinking for them or to exercise any species of compulsory authority over them.  There is not a freer people in the world, so far as any ‘priestly power’ is exercised, than the Latter-day Saints.  Individual responsibility is one of the vital principles of their creed.  Therefore individual development is inculcated as a necessity to human exaltation.  ‘The glory of God is intelligence;’ this is written in the revelations they hold as sacred; also this:

Whatever principles of intelligence we attain unto in this life it will rise with us in the resurrection; and if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

And further:

That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto them, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.  Therefore it is not right that any man should be in bondage, one to another.

This is held in view of every convert to the doctrines of ‘Mormonism.’  Mere belief in a creed, or acceptance of men as holding Divine authority, is not viewed or taught as the means of salvation.  Personal righteousness, intelligence and progress are essential to the exaltation of every man and woman, as well as faith in Christ and obedience to the ordinances administered by men authorized to act in his name.  Elevation of individual character is the great desideraturm in the ‘Mormon’ system.

At the same time the benefits of order, subordination and unity are not lost sight of.  They are necessary to the success of every organized body.  ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice.’  Co-operation accomplishes more than strife.  Without order there is no harmony, and without harmony there is no happiness.  The ‘Mormon’ Church is powerful because of the general observance of these principles by most of its members.  Their union, compliance with counsel and co-operative effort, though short of the standard before them, are a marvel to the world.  They have real faith in their religion and confidence in the Divine authority of their ministers.

But all their obedience is voluntary, their association spontaneous, their action from choice.  How can there be greater liberty?  If it be objected that they are in ‘the bondage of a creed,’ the answer is, that is the condition of all people who have faith.  It is the restraint only of conscience.  Those who have no conscience, or who are dead to its dictates, are usually the slaves to vice and enjoy less true liberty than the conscientious and religious.  They would, if they had their way, destroy the very freedom they pretend to advocate.  They would prevent men and women from obeying the word which the latter believe to be divine.  They would break up by force the unity that springs from free will.  They would destroy the authority compliance with which brings the greatest satisfaction and joy.  They would substitute the serfdom of bowing to their dictation for the freedom of willing and intelligent submission to that which is believed to be the decree of heaven.

We want none of it.  The Latter-day Saints are contented with their faith and devoted to the system which they have adopted.  They have a firm assurance that it is Divine.  They have attained that conviction through obedience to the gospel and by the witness of the Holy Spirit.  They know that they are not subjected to any unlawful or unrighteous dominion in the Church of which they are members, and they rejoice in the liberty wherewith they have been made free indeed.  They will go on in the way of obedience and peace, understanding that to yield to the right is better than self-will, and believing that while the rebellious shall be pierced with many sorrows, ‘he that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.'”  (Editorial, “God’s Authority and Man’s Liberty,” DN 37(38):598, 3 Oct., 1888)

3 Oct.:  Causes of Mormon unity.

“It is popularly supposed that the power of ‘Mormonism’ consists of the ignorance of the masses of its followers and their domination by the Priesthood.  That the union which is a marked characteristic of the ‘Mormons’ is brought about by unquestioning obedience to the dictates of their rulers in the Church.  And that therefore the system is a strong and compact ecclesiastical machine.

Nothing could be farther from the truth than this conception of ‘Mormon’ polity and influence.  It has sprung from a desire to misrepresent and distort the reality, and with a view to provoke hostility to the system and its adherents.

The strength of ‘Mormonism’ is in the force of individual conviction of its truth and the harmony of views and unity of spirit among its devotees.  It commences by inducing men and women to investigate for themselves; to inquire into the truth of orthodox creeds; to contrast them with the teachings of the Book which all Christian sects profess to receive as their standard; and to compare the doctrines of that Book with its own.  It exhorts enquirers to ask of God, depending upon the dictum of no man, fearing not the anathema of any priest nor regarding the ridicule or the persecution of the multitude.  ‘Think for yourself, read for yourself, pray for yourself, decide for yourself,’ it cries to every one who listens.  It does not attempt to work upon the senses of the hearers, but appeals to their intellect and stirs up their spirituality.

Its very first principle appeals to the individuality of the investigator: Faith in God and in Jesus Christ, His Son, and in the Holy Ghost, their manifester.  The first as the actual, literal accessible Father of the spirits of all men; the second as His firstborn, our Elder Brother, a living person, a mediator between God and man; the third as a revealing influence, emanating from Deity and communicating directly with each believer, through faith.  It promises to each individual who accepts it by obedience to the ordinances of God a testimony from heaven of its truth.  It declares that each one must obtain this testimony for himself and not be content with the testimony of another or the teachings of the preacher.

God thus becomes to each true convert a Divine Reality, with whom he can commune and from whom he can receive personal guidance, light and help without any human being betwee, apostle, priest or king.  It is this individual intercourse with Deity that makes each convert to ‘Mormonism’ so confident of his position and so firm in his convictions.  He is promised a Divine witness through faith, repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands by which the Holy Ghost is imparted, and receiving it, beyond a doubt, he KNOWS that the promise made to him was true.

This is not a fancy or a vain imagination; it is a positive, veritable, powerful experience.  It is the same to young and old, to all races, tongues and nations.  Faith, followed by obedience brings knowledge.  Wherever the Elders have penetrated, this is the universal result of the acceptance of their teachings.

This similarity of experience and possession of the same Spirit bring about unity wherein is strength.  Confidence in the instructions of the men through whom this great blessing was bestowed is the natural consequence of its reception.  But this does not imply ‘blind obedience’ to their counsels.  Individual responsibility for every act and accountability for all ‘deeds done in the body,’ is an integral part of the ‘Mormon’ creed.  And all its ordinances, observances, ceremonies and regulations, have as their ultimate object the development of the individual Saint into the full stature of manhood or womanhood in Christ Jesus, to be like God and to come into His immediate presence.

‘Mormonism’ is thus a personal religion, an individual concern.  Each one is taught to live so as to be in harmony and communion with God, and to cultivate all the powers of being, phisical, mental and spiritual, subduing every passion, training every faculty to its legitimate and temperate use, striving after personal excellence, with the understanding that in the eternal world every man will be valued for what he is and not what he seems to be, and that he who is most like God and Christ will be nearest to them and be most intimately associated with them.

But religion, the religion of Jesus Christ, is something more than a personal matter.  The Church of Christ is an association of obedient believers.  It is an organization established under Divine direction for the mutual benefit of its members, the promulgation of truth and the building up of the kingdom of heaven upon the earth.  The fatherhood of God implies the brotherhood of men.  The members of the Church are in a double sense brothers and sisters.  No one can live for self alone.  The bonds of the everlasting covenant unite them with powerful though invisible ties, and each member is a living particle in the ecclesiastical body through which one spirit runs.

For the government of this organism there must be a head, and harmony between all the parts is essential to the health and vigor of the whole.  It is willing and voluntary combination that constitutes the union so marked in ‘Mormonism.’  A common impulse urges its adherents to act together, to move as the head suggests, to value the general good more than individual interest, to seek the glory of God and the salvation of man rather than personal comfort and earthly aggrandizement.

But there is no compulsion in the organic unity or the individual compliance with regulation or counsel, order or discipline.  The Church is a living body, and that which does not assimilate with it will in time be separated from it.  The effete and waste matter will be expelled and only the living, compatible elements and atoms will remain.  They have an affinity for each other and find their greatest joy and highest usefulness in their essential union.  Therein is power.  Therein is vitality.  Therein is the possibility of a living, mighty spirit pervading the whole system, giving it light as well as life and making it impervious to every assault.

There is no member or part of the Church organism that is either compelled to unite with it or to act in harmony with it.  Voluntary connection, voluntary acquiescence, voluntary identity are the principles that actuate them.  When they cannot freely comply with the rules that govern it they can sever their association with it.

As we have shown heretofore every member has a voice in Church affairs.  They all have a common interest.  They partake of the authority of its Priesthood.  Nearly all the male members are ordained to some calling in that Priesthood, and their wives partake of its influence through the sealing power by which they become one with their husbands.  Therefore the ‘rule of the Priesthood’ is also the rule of the people.  They are one body and they have no separate interests as rulers and ruled.  Individual opinion is free.  But the possession of the same Spirit causes people of varied views to meet on one plane and to see ‘eye to eye.’  ‘Baptized by one spirit into one body,’ they move with a common purpose, and delight in harmony instead of contention.

The Latter-day Saints are not an ignorant nor a servile people.  They have embraced their faith from understanding, and that in the face of a frowning and hostile world.  The enter the Church from conviction, and gather to its centre from choice.  They are not of the stuff from which slaves are made.  They serve God and love His precepts, and bow the knee to no man.  They feel they have the right to worship and unite as seems proper in their own eyes, and are willing that others should do the same.

If this is ignorance, if this is bondage, they rejoice in those things.  In either case they are what they are of their own free will, except so far as belief is concerned, which is the result of evidence and to some extend beyond their control.  They find their greatest joy in their religion, which enters into their whole lives.  And in their voluntary union and obedience they feel a strength and satisfaction that flow from a Divine source, and give continual and additional testimonies that they are doing the will of God and are on the road that leads to His Eternal Presence.”  (Editorial, “The Causes of ‘Mormon’ Unity,” DN 37(38):600-601, 3 Oct., 1888)

17 Oct.:  To what group is a 70’s first duty?

“On Wednesday I attended my Council meeting where a difficulty between the Presidency and members of the 77th Quo. located in Ogden, was discussed.  The Presd’ts., in their endeavors to get all the members in attendance, had formed two lists of names–one the active and the other the delinquent list, both of which were called at each meeting.  A delinquent could get his name advanced to the active list by continued attendance at six consecutive meetings.  This plan did not suit some negligent members, who used as an excuse for their absence the statement that the Bishop required their services.  I had, however, made the statement that a Seventy’s first duty was to his quorum unless a higher authority called him.  Bp. Stratford asserts tha a Seventy must yield to his Bishop’s wishes without any regard to the demands of his Quorum.  Thus quibbling commenced and grew until the Seventies in Ogden are in quite a ferment.  At my suggestion a meeting was appointed for next Monday evening to adjust matters.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 17 Oct., 1888)

“I spent a short time at the store before going to the Seventies’ meeting at 7:30 with Frank.  The Pres. of the Stake, one of his counselors and several Bishops and a large number of Seventies were at our meeting.  Bro. Gates spoke first on the duties of Seventies, showing plainly how all matters might be conducted in a proper and peaceable manner.  I followed, defining the positions of various officers in the Church, and stating what I understood a Seventy ought to do–render obedience first to his quorum, unless called by some higher authority, and still to do all he possibly could to assist the officers of his ward and Stake.  I stated that I thought the plan adopted by the 77th Quo. of having an active and retired list, a very good one, though I thought the Presd’ts. had erred in adopting it without the sanction of the quorum, as all things should be done by common consent in this Church.  At the close of my remarks the five Presd’ts. of the 77th Quo. who had adopted the above plan without consulting the Quorum arose and asked pardon of the members.  One member, who was very active in creating the whole trouble–John Horspool also asked pardon.  The memberrs voted to grant the pardon asked, and the meeting closed with a very excellent spirit after Pres. Shurtliff had spoken.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 22 Oct., 1888)

21 Oct.:  Priest Rule in Utah.


Editor Penrose Defends the Mormon Church and Sets Forth the Non-partisan Functions of the Priesthood.

To the Editor of The Republican, (Springfield):

In The Republican of October 10th appeared a temperate and fair discussion of some points put forth by me in defense of the Mormon church, in the Forum.  Coupled with them was an extract from a lecture by Elder Joseph E. Taylor on Priesthood, followed by some remarks casting doubts on the democratic character of the Mormon ecclesiastical system.  Permit me to offer a few words in explanation, as I am of the opinion that the writer of the article in The Republican was not fully informed upon the subject or he would not have made those comments.  It is true that the Mormons believe in the eternity of the priesthood which is spoken of in the Bible as being ‘after the order of Melchesidek.’  They believe that Paul’s instruction to the Hebrews (chapter vii) referred to the priesthood, and not to the man Melchesidek who held it, as being ‘without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life;’ in this respect he contrasted it with the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood which was confined to one lineage.  They also believe that this priesthood is conferred and, as quoted by The Republican, it should be used as God would have it.  But all this is perfectly compatible with the democratic character of the Mormon organization which holds the above theory of the priesthood.  To show this let us see how ‘God would have’ this priesthood ‘used.’  I quote from the Doctrine and Covenants, page 387:  ‘No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by firtue of the priesthood; only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness and meekness and by love unfeigned.’  The re-election of certain men to offices in that priesthood is not effected ‘according to dictation,’ as stated in The Republican.  There have been instances of rejection, by the body of the members, of men presented by the leaders for such re-election.  And the power to reject is in the majority, according to the fundamentl doctrine that ‘all things in this church shall be done by common consent.’  Every member, male and female, has an equal vote on all matters of church polity and in reference to official authority.  Priesthood comes from God; presidency in any degree comes by the voice of the people, in the Mormon church.

The intimation is incorrect that the priesthood places itself above the civil law.  ‘Its so-called revelations,’ as they are styled by The Republican, speak in this wise as to the civil law; ‘Let no man break the laws of the land; for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.  Wherefore be subject to the powers that be, until He reigns whose right it is to reign and subdues all enemies under His feet.’  (D&C, p. 202)  The church has published for more than half a century its views on governments and laws, in which the following appears: ‘We believe that every man should be honored in his station; rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men owe respect and deference.’  The small portion of the article in the Forum quoted by the Republican may be ‘an incomplete and unsatisfactory answer to the general charge of priest rule in Utah,’ but the whole article can scarcely be thus condemned, and I think it is unjust to call it an ‘evasion,’ as it squarely meets general assertions with positive facts and specific citations from recognized and undisputed church authorities.

There is no such autocratic rule in the Mormon Church as is generally supposed, and what is called ‘the rule of the priesthood’ is really the rule of the people, for nearly all the male members hold the priesthood and every member is entitled to a voice in Church affairs.  The people’s party, which is entirely a political organization of the majority of the citizens of Utah, is separate and distinct from the Church in all respects;, and is regulated by democratic principles.  The Mormons and their doings and doctrines have been misrepresented for so many years that it is very difficult to obtain a full hearing by the public, particularly through the press.

Charles W. Penrose.

New York, October 21, 1888.”

(DN 37(45):718, 21 Nov., 1888)

3 Nov.:  Delinquent priesthood holders.

“Seventeen young brethren were recommended to be ordained Elders, and the meeting endorsed the ordination of twelve more that had been ordained during the last two months, some of whom had departed on missions.

As is the usual custom all of the brethren were interrogated with regard to honoring their positions in the higher Priesthood before their ordination to the office of Elder was authorized.  It having been reported in the meeting that some brethren did not attend their quorum meetings as faithfully as they should after being ordained Elders, while others absented themselves entirely from them, the question was asked what was to be done with such members particularly the absentees.

Prest. Angus M. Cannon said: Where men, young or old, are indifferent with regard to their calling in the priesthood, Teachers should be sent to labor kindly with delinquents and if they fail to make an impression upon them or get them to sense their position, prefer a charge against them to their Bishops and let them be dealt with if they will not then repent.  It is a serious thing to make promises here or with each other and then turn around and ignore them.  A man that will break his covenants and degrade his priesthood is not worthy the name that he bears, no matter what his position may be.  Labor faithfully with the erring and when we have exhausted all the power that God has given us to reclaim them, let the law governing such cases take its course.  Covenants made here cannot be violated with impunity.

There is another subject that should not be lost sight of; that is that every man be honored in his position, no matter what his calling may be.  Any Elder that is derelict in his duties is responsible, and if the presidents of quorums are as wide awake as they should be they would call these transgressors to account in the manner provided.  If any member of a quorum stays away from his meetings two or three times, and is remiss in his duties in other directions, ascetain the cause, as I have stated, and act as the case justifies. . . . As a rule, brethren are not prepared to officiate as Elders until they have magnified the Aaronic Priesthood and given evidence of their worthiness to be promoted.”  (Minutes of Salt Lake Stake Priesthood Meeting; Reprint of report of 3 Nov.; DN 37(43):676, 7 Nov., 1888)

7 Nov:  Periodic meetings of 70’s quorums w/First Council.

“The matter of appointing occasional evenings in quorum meetings for the members to ask questions of the Presidents, was discussed.  The general feeling seemed to be that it might lead to improper bickerings and foolish questionings.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 7 Nov., 1888)

“In November, 1888, Abraham and the Council considered the advisability of holding periodic meetings with various Seventies quorums for the purposing [sic] of allowing Seventies to ask questions of Council members; after some discussion the proposal was abandoned for fear that such sessions would inevitably lead to foolish questions and bickering. (x:100)”  (William C. Seifrit, “Introduction to Abraham H. Cannon Journal Index) 

21 Nov.:  The cry about a ‘Hierarchy.’

“The issue on the ‘Mormon’ question except among people who live on the past and are oblivious to present movements, is shifted from the ground of an assault upon polygamy, to that of an attack upon the ‘hierarchy.’  The cry of ‘Church and State’ is expected to stir the public mind ans effectually as the noise about ‘many wives.’  The latter served its purpose, with the aid of exaggeration and falsehood, and the former will be similarly worked for all it is wort.  It is the burden of the Governor’s report and figures in all the anti-‘Mormon’ effusions of recend date.  The purpose is to make it appear that political unity among the ‘Mormons’ is perfect and is the result of coercion by theocratic power.

Of course this is deceptive, and the utter ignorance in the public mind of the true theory and spirit of ‘Mormonism’ is counted on by those who use it.  In the first place ‘Mormon’ unity is not nearly so perfect as it ought to be, and in the second place anything in the shape of coercion could not possibly bring about that measure of union which exists among the ‘Mormons.’  Political union, when there is a free and secret ballot, must of necessity be the result of similar opinions–a union of views.  It is this that the enemies of the majority of the people of Utah are unable to destroy and that is the real object of their opposition and their wrath.  Whatever division may take place among the ‘Mormon’ people, it is not at all likely that it will add to the ranks of the foe.  A small split occurred during the recent delegate election, but it did not swell the numbers of the adversary; it only helped them indirectly as it lessened the number of votes somewhat for the regular candidate.

The opposition here use a great deal more coercion, if that is a proper term, than is even attempted among the majority. There is more whipping in, threatening, cajolery, entreaty and intimidation a thousand fold to solidify the ‘Liberal’ elements, than is used or thought of in the People’s Party.  It is utterly false to say that any priestly force is exercised over ‘Mormon’ voters.  The people are exhorted to union.  When the ticket is decided upon in convention they are advised to sink individual preferences and vote the straight ticket without scratching.  But this is done by the votaries of all parties in reference to the regular nominees.  And any departure from this is denounced by Democrats and Republicans alike.  The scratching of Cleveland for Harrison by Tammany voters is proclaimed as treachery.

The truth is, the union that prevails as a fact among the ‘Mormons,’ is just what other parties hold in theory and vainly try to bring into practice.  It has been copied by their local enemies, who, after many years of denumciation of it, have managed to establish it for the time being among themselves, and they openly admit that while they shout for division among the ‘Mormons,’ there must be nothing but union in their own ranks.

The argument that the union of the majority here is tantamount to political disfranchisement of the minority, is one of the most childish of pleas.  The Democrats might make the same plea in Iowa or Kansas.  If the ‘Mormons’ ought to be deprived of the suffrage or hindered in the attainment of any political right, because they largely vote one way, then the Republicans of those States which are overwhelmingly Republican should also be disfranchised for the same reason.

But it will be claimed, these ‘Mormons’ are directly politically by a Church, and that is what is objectionable.  This is not true, but suppose it were.  If there is no complusion, if everybody is free to vote as he pleases, if there is a secret ballot so that the voter who chooses to cast a ballot different from others can do so undetected, why should not the members of a Church unite politically, as well as the members of a club, or any other organization?

The main thing is, that people shall be able to vote at the polls for the men of their choice.  It does not matter whether they vote for certain candidates because they suit them individually, or whether they conclude to vote for them because that is the best policy, or whether they accept them for any other reason, so long as they do it voluntarily.  But the enemies of the ‘Mormons’ would prevent them from choosing their own advisers in politics.  The clamorers against an imaginary hierarchy mean this: ‘If you don’t take us for your political guides, you shan’t have any political power at all if we can deprive you of it.  You shall not seek for advice to men of your own faith, or if you do and follow it, we will endeavor to disfranchise you altogether.’

There is no one in Utah who is under any compulsion to vote as a Church dictates.  There is no Church here, so far as we know, that assumes to dictate in voting.  There is no terrorism exercised here by a Church.  Such as there is, prevails among those people falsely called ‘Liberals’ and among them there is the only political intimidation.

The people’s Party have chosen their own political managers and advisers.  They have not asked their enemies permission to do so, or what class of men they shall be.  They do not intend to do so.  They are free in that respect and mean to be free.  And if they are wise they will continue to be united and will be more so than ever, seeing and learning by experience that division is folly and splitting suicidal.  It only serves to give aid and comfort to the enemy.

The whole attempt to raise a cry about voting under the influence of a hierarchy is nothing but fudge.  No one knows that better than those who make it.  Papers that echo it simply expose their own ignorance.  Statesmen that talk of it in Congress or committee betray their lack of knowledge and their readiness to jump at the slenderest threads of anti-‘Mormon’ ‘information.’  Any earnest inquiry into its true inwardness will disclose its hollowness, insubstantiality and their absurdity and the intentional deception of its supporters.

An article appeared a short time ago in the New York Evening Post from the facile pen of ‘J.C.’ and we clip from it the following paragraphs as pertinent to this subject as viewed through the eyes of an observing non-‘Mormon.’

The anti-Mormon imagines that the eyes of the whole world are fixed upon Utah and Idaho.  His grievance heretofore has been that the Mormons were polygamists, and, although they did not select their wives from members of his family, his virtue was shocked by the contamination of their neighborhood.  It was a pet grievance in which he could enlist the sympathy of the community, and he regrets as much as the genuine philanthropist rejoices, that the Mormons have discontinued the reprehensible practice.  He is now attacking the ‘hierarchy of the church.’  To be sure, the hierarchy does not interfere with him.  If what he asserts is true, and I think it is, that the rank and file of the Mormons vote according to the dictation of their leaders, he does not stop to consider that the people at large, himself among the rest, are led politically or religiously ‘by the nose,’ and that if a man chooses to be so led, it is nobody’s business but his own.  Sectarians of all kinds, and republicans, democrats, prohibitionists, follow their leaders, and the only politicians that I know against whom this charge may not be laid are the nicknamed mugwumps, the independents, men who will vote for a President, not because he is a democrat, but because he is an honest man, and who will not vote for a governor, whatever his politics may be, if he is a rogue.

I have heard a great deal about this Mormon hierarchy, but in all my experience in these regions I have never seen any of its base effects.  Truth to say, the Mormons are as clannish as the ancient Israelites, who, like them, followed the lead of their prophets.  They have about the same ideas of Gentiles, although they do not go for them with fire and sword, as perhaps they or any other sect of religionists might do, if civilization and the law did not restrain them.  Possibly they were that way inclined in the early days of their settlement in Utah, as the Puritans of New England were somewhat of that mind when their power was supreme; but if I were asked What of the Mormons of today? I should say that they are eminently a people who mind their own business, and who do not interfere with that of others.

The heinous sin of the hierarchy in Gentile eyes is that it reprobates recourse to law, advising its followers to settle their disputes by referring them to juries mutually selected, and presided over by a bishop.  This inexpensive method generally proves satisfactory to them as it is unsatisfactory to the lawyers, who, as in the days of old, ‘lade men with burdens grievous to be borne,’ which the Mormons prefer not to carry.  On the other hand, the lawyers who, as elsewhere, are apt to be ringleaders in politics, ‘touch not the burdens with one of their fingers.’  Their real objection to the hierarchy is, that it interferes with their profits.”

(Editorial, “The Cry about a ‘Hierarchy,” DN 37(45):710, 21 Nov., 1888)

1 Dec.:  Items of priesthood procedure.

“Synopsis of proceedings at today’s Gathering, Dec. 1, 1888.

The regular monthly meeting of this Priesthood of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion convened in the Assembly Hall at 11:a.m., today, Saturday, December 1, 1888.  President Angus M. Cannon presiding.  All the wards of the stake were properly represented, excepting the First and Eighth Wards of this city, and the East Mill Creek, Union, Draper and West Jordan Wards.

President A. M. Cannon commented on the sickness and indifference of some of those bearing the Priesthood, and requested that they be labored with by their bishops and teachers, and be induced if possible to attend their meetings and other duties they now neglect.  A question was asked by some one in the meeting if it were consistent with the order of the Priesthood to ordain a young boy not eight years of age, a Seventy, if he were sick and not likely to live.  Elder Robert L. Campbell, clerk of the Seventies, by request answered the question.  He said it was a novel question to ask, and he knew of no such instance.

President A. M. Cannon added a few words upon the same subject.  He asnwered the question propounded by asking another, viz: Was it customary to ordain men to the Priesthood until they were baptized?  No.  But in this case, it would be argued, the subject was innocent and needed no baptism, being unaccountable.  Then, if unaccountable, why place upon him the Priesthood.  The speaker denounced it as a heresy.  He knew of no revelation authorizing children to be baptized under eight years of age, nor any revelation authorizing their ordination to the Priesthood.  And to do that which God had not commanded, and using his name in vain, was abominable in his sight. . . .

Elder Oliver Huntington being requested to speak upon the subject of ordaining infants or children under 8 years to the Priesthood, said he had never known of such a thing to be authorized by the Prophet Joseph or anyone high in authority.  He knew of a case where a Bishop baptized one of his children under 8 years, because it was an unusually bright child.  He had afterwards heard that Bishop confess that he had done wrong, and that he would have the baptism undone again.”  (Oliver B. Huntington journal, 1 Dec., 1888)

5 Dec.:  Attempt to organize First Quorum of Seventy.

“I was at the office all day except during the time of my Council meeting where I was called to preside.  We here decided to take steps, under the direction of the Apostles, to call together and organize the First Quorum of Seventies, and Bro. Roberts was appointed to prepare a communication on the subject.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 5 Dec., 1888)

12 Dec.:  Permission to organize First Quorum requested.

“At 1 p.m. attended my council meeting, and assisted Bros. Gates, Young, Roberts and Campbell with the business.  Bro. E. Stavenson was present.–A communication was ordered sent to the Twelve Apostles asking their permission to organize the First Quorum of Seventies, and desiring their counsel in regard to several matters relating to said Quorum.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 12 Dec., 1888)

29 Dec.:  Common consent.

“It has been repeatedly shown in these columns, as well as on the public stand, that the ‘Mormon’ Church contains the theocratic and democratic elements in its system of government.  They are nicely balanced and in perfect harmony, in that form presented by divine revelation to the Saints.  God speaks, the people say ‘Amen,’ and thus Deity and humanity agree, authority and liberty unite, the voice of God and the voice of the people are one, and the result is joy and peace and power.

In this system the agency of man is freely exercised on the one hand, and the benefits obtained from seeking the wisdom of God are fully recognized on the other.  There is no compulsion and no rebellion.  Freedom to receive or reject is allowed to the individual, who, of course, in the nature of things must reap the fruits of his own planting, receive the results of his own acts.  It is presumable that if he believes the word or plan or principle to be from God, he will voluntarily receive and practice it.  Still, it is possible for a person to believe a given thing to be right and divine, and yet refuse or neglect to be governed by it.  Many people, whose lives are anything but commendable, will acknowledge in moments of humility and penitence that they know better than they act, and that their doings are in violation of divine commands.

Man is left free as to his actions.  His course is a question of understanding and desire.  If he wishes to know what is rignt and to do it, there remains no difficulty.  Access to divine light is open and free, and the power to do good or evil is inherent in the creature.  In the Church, union of understanding may be reached by the members through possession of one spirit.  Unity of effort is then easy to those who are rightly disposed.  If they agree that a measure is from God, they will unite to make it practical, unless individual desires and projects are made superior to divine revelations.  When that is done confusion ensues, darkness overshadows, and disaster must be the inevitable consequence.

The Eternal Father has ever respected the freedom of His children on this earth.  He compels no one to obey His laws, whether they are revealed in nature or by oral or spiritual communication.  He forces no man to heaven.  He prevents none who wish to come to Him.  Good and evil are ever before mankind.  The choice is their own.

In the Church which He has established He has given a form of government to which the members voluntarily assent.  It largely springs from themselves.  They have a voice in all its affairs.  The presiding officers, general and local, are voted into their respective positions by the members, each having an equal vote, whether male or female.  It is in the power of the people to receive or reject any nomination that may be made.  That is pure democracy.  In the same manner they can accept or repudiate any doctrine, or measure, or plan that may be presented to them.  Can anything be more democratic than this?

The unanimity with which propositions are usually received, and officers are commonly sustained by popular vote in the Church, gives occasion for the objection of opponents that the assent of the members is a mere matter of form.  But this is an error.  That assent is a reality.  It is the result of a union of belief and purpose.  It may be to some extent the result of dislike to anything discordant.  But the members who think, know that in voting upon any measure or man they are exercising a sacred right, an important prerogative, and that their sanction is essential to make the matter valid and perfect before the heavens.

Whenever hands are raised for or against anything presented to the body of the Church, without reflection and the full action of the mind and understanding, the divine plan falls short of accomplishment.  Everything is to be done ‘by common consent, with much prayer and faith.’  All things are to be done in faith.  The uplifted hand is an outward sign of an inward and living belief in and assent to the matter proposed.  It pre-supposes thought, understanding and accord, or, if against the measure, intelligent conviction that it is wrong.  It is not designed that the body should be a mere machine moved by the will of one who presents a motion, or an imitative mass without reflection and without individuality.

There is something grand and mighty in the manifestation of the united will and faith and purpose of a vast body of people, whose souls are lit up by the same divine fire, and whose hands are raised to heaven in token of a common impulse and determination.  It is thrilling and majestic.  When it is the willing voice of the people in accord with the voice of inspiration, the heavens are moved at the spectacle, and it joins the human with the divine, making the angels rejoice and causing the Spirit of God to move upon the mass, as it did upon the face of the waters ‘in the beginning.’

One of the reasons why assent is so readily given by the body of the Church to measures presented by the authorities, is that it is well known that those measures have been discussed and passed upon by the presiding quorum or council, and union therein arrived at in advance.  And this is the reliance of many who have not perhaps been able to devote much time for reflection upon the matter at hand.  It is provided in the revelations upon Church government that the decisions of these quorums, or either of them, must not only be in righteousness but by unanimous consent, in order to be entitled to the full sanction of the Almighty.  It is presumed that this unity has been reached by the authorities before the voice of the people is called for, and the confidence reposed in them makes a ready assent of the body to what the leaders propose.

This throws a great responsibility upon those who stand at the head of affairs in Wards and Stakes and the Church as a whole.  Personal ends, private purposes, individual preferences must all be made subordinate to the common good, the glory of God, and the advancement of His cause.  Jealousy, envy, greed, desire to excel must be banished and the pure love of right and truth must hold sway in every heart, or the word and will of the Lord will not be obtained, but human wisdom, or folly, will prevail in its stead.

When the Church receives the divine mind and sustains it by the popular voice, the true theory and intent of Church government are made practical.  Without either it does not reach the true ideal.  When these unite, although opposition from without will rage and obstacles may arise that at first seem insurmountable, persistence, in faith, is sure to overcome every form of hindrance and success will be achieved.  ‘Be sure you are right and then go ahead’ is as good a motto for the Church of Christ as any other body or person, and when that assurance is arrived at, both leaders and people should steadily pursue their way regardless of every outcry.

It is this democratic feature of the government of the Church that makes the Latter-day Saint democratic in politics.  We do not use this term in a party sense.  The party that bears that name has been of late years in many respects anything but democratic in practice.  But the rights of the people as the true body politic are inalienable in both Church and State, in their several and separate capacities, under the principles we have accepted as divine.

Under the Constitution of our common country, the people are the source of power and authority.  Certain grants of power have been made, to be reposed in the National Government for the good of all.  But the right to govern themselves in their several localities, and in their separate local concerns, belongs of right to the people.  It is not bestowed upon them by any organized Administration or legislative body, but is theirs of right as citizens, as intelligent human beings, and came to them from God, the Source of all light and power.  It is their birth-right.  The Great Creator endowed them with it, and the denial of its exercise is oppression, robbery, and diabolism.

It is the duty of every Latter-day Saint to learn his rights, privileges, and responsibilities as a member of the Church to which he has voluntarily attached himself, and as a citizen of the civil government under which he lives and of which he forms a part.  This is enjoined upon him by his religion.  In each he is an independent, living factor.  In each he has rights.  In each he has duties.  In neither should he be a serf or a rebel.  Obedience to rightful authority, compliance with wholesome regulations or laws, subordination to proper requirements are perfectly compatible with human liberty, in Church or State.  Independence does not mean resistance to rule; freedom does not imply dissension or revolt.  Humility and dignity, meekness and strength, union and individuality are homogeneous, and the liberty of all requires concessions from each.

There will come a day when every soul on earth will be free.  God will rule from sea to sea and throughout the land.  But submission to His will and word will be voluntary, and it will be done on earth as it is done in heaven, because Deity and humanity will be joined in a common purpose and the voice of God will be the voice of the people.

C[harles]. W. P[enrose].”

(“Ideas of Government,” DW 38(1):1-2, 29 Dec., 1888)