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

Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1889

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1889.” You can view other years here.

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


1889:    Jan.:  Deseret Weekly is “official organ.”

“Official Organ of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  (Title page, DW 38, Jan., 1889)

12 Jan.:  Cleansing the Church.

“The Elders upon whom devolves the duty of teaching the Saints in a public capacity are largely actuated by the spirit to reprove, admonish and entreat.  This is the genius of genuine teachers in the community.  Like sleepless ‘watchmen,’ they are lifting up the warning voice concerning evils that are creeping in among the flock.  It is specially urged upon the officers of the Church that they perform the important duty of ridding the body religious of corrupted and dead members.  The condition of the people requires just such an attitude on the part of those who wish to see the purity of the Church maintained and perpetuated.

If the Lord holds in His hand a sore scourge for application upon the wicked of the world, justice, upon which His throne is seated, requires that He shall not pass by with impunity those who profess His name yet who perpetrate similar evils for which He will condemn the nations.  Neither will He hold those wholly guiltless who suffer such things to exist in the community of Saints whose duty it is to see that they are eliminated that the Church may be preserved, so far as practicable, free from sin and uncleanness.

There are two processes by which the desired object can be obtained.  (1) By means of the repentance of the wrong-doer.  Of course this applies only to that class of offenders whose infractions of the laws of God are not of that gross and flagrant character that demands their unconditional expulsion.  Then it is the plain duty of the officers to labor with backsliders and offenders with the sole object of bringing them to repentance.  We are of opinion that more can be accomplished in this line in a private capacity than by public teaching.  In fact the very position of a backslider and offender is such that it is rare that he accepts of an opportunity to be taught and admonished in a public assembly.  Even when he happens to be present, he is left free to take general teachings or strictures home to himself or conveniently imagine they have an application to other people.  Not so when approached privately; then matters can be brought directly home to himself.  Teachings and advice thus tendered are also accompanied by the personal influence of those who seek his welfare.  If the teacher be exemplary, as he should be, this 

(“Cleansing the Church,” DW 38(3):83-84, 12 Jan., 1889)

12 Jan.:  The art of presiding.

“There is great necessity for every man who has been appointed to any capacity of presidency in the wards or branches of the Church, whether it be high or humble, acting in his position harmoniously with the genius of the Gospel.  The organization as a whole being the most complete in existence necessarily involves an exceedingly large number of presiding positions of various grades, rendering the subject under consideration all the more important.

The art of presiding among the people of God is one of the greatest of Divine gifts to man, and to be entrusted with an office of that nature is one of much importance, no matter how humble it may be–because of its responsibilities.  It involves authority over the heritage of God, and great will be the condemnation of those who treat it lightly or use it wrongfully.

Poverty, riches and other conditions common to mortals, test the characters of individuals, but none causes the true nature of a man to stand out in such conspicuous relief as power.  By its exercise he will exhibit, without fail, the largeness or the contracted character of his soul.

The man who is most fitted to preside over his fellows is he who is able to do so without appearing to.  He carries himself with that admirable deportment which is the outgrowth of dignity of character combined with humility, exhibiting that patience and long-suffering which were among the chief traits of the Savior’s harmonious individuality.  By manifesting a due consideration for the situation, circumstances, degrees of intelligence, and other elements among those of whom he has the watchcare, he is made strong.  Such men are essentially great, no matter how humble may be their ordinary sphere of life; and where they prside, those who are subordinate to them instinctively submit to their direction.

The most obnoxious manner of presiding is the antipodes of the one just described, being what might be termed the assertive method.  It is exhibited by frequent announcement of the character of the position held by the person acting in it, the implication being that that fact alone should be deemed sufficient to insure obedience.

Acting as if everything necessary to be accomplished could not possibly be properly done unless personally attended to by the individual presiding is another phase of the same style.

By some a most important factor in the art of presidency seems to be lost sight of–that it consists mostly of using others to the greatest advantage for the furtherance and development of the work; making the best possible utilization of the material at command.  No material that is fit for use should be left to languish in a state of dormancy.  Nature and nature’s God inform us, in thunder tones, that activity is life and stagnation is death.

It may be accepted as a truism that no man can completely fulfil the obligations of presidency unless he be informed upon the duties and functions of every position within the range of his jurisdiction.  If he be ignorant in this regard, intelligent direction on his part is an impossibility.  How needful then that those who preside in any capacity within the Church place themselves in the position of men of ‘sound understanding.’

In the matter of measures, those who direct affairs in the wards and other divisions of the Church will find that there is great advantage in intelligent explanations.  They form an excellent preparatory process, placing the minds of the people in a position to intelligently accept of propositions when they are advanced.  By this means those interested are enabled to give their consent understandingly, having been previously convinced of the necessity for the action.  Thus the presiding officer carries his flock with him, which makes him a tower of strength for good in their midst.  In fact, the whole forms a symmetrical entity, the head being firmly joined to the body and recognizing the utility of each member in its place.”  (“The Art of Presiding,” DW 38(3):87, 12 Jan., 1889)

26 Jan.:  Priesthood and government.

“The task assigned me of addressing this assembly of High Priests is one of unusual embarrassment, conscious, as I am, that the age and experience of many, in all that pertains to their office and calling, render them  more fitted to instruct, than by me to be instructed.

A principle that has no change, a truth that is eternal, that has been critically examined, and thoroughly tested by the ablest minds for more than half a century, affords me but little hope of being able to say anything that can add to the wisdom and knowledge of such minds.  I do however, with reverential thought, and earnest solicitude for that inspiration which giveth to the mind understanding, desire to perform this duty to the edification of those who hear; and to so express a few thoughts, that their appearance, at least, may be attractive, if not especially instructive.

If I may be able to comprehend, and find language to explain that which relates to the calling of an High Priest, define the duties of that office, and make fit more easily the garment of Priesthood with which he is clothed, then I shall have accomplished something towards the object I have in view.

We are here to-day as a Quorum of High Priests, and in this capacity, we are representatives of God’s authority; entrusted with the keeping of His law and the souls of those who obey it; holding keys with which to open the Heavens, with power to solve all mysteries, to command all spiritual blessings, to hold communion with spirits made perfect, and aught else that man may need, or that the authority of Priesthood can impart.

Before we can consider intelligently the rights, duties and responsibilities of Priesthood, or of any particular office or calling belonging to it, we must have a definite understanding of what Priesthood is; and as a foundation for some remarks, I shall recognize and define Priesthood as God’s authority committed unto man, or in other words, the right to both make and administer law.  Wherever this right exists there are always duties co-existent and co-equal with the right.

That Priesthood which is after the order of the Son of God is one Priesthood.  The classification of duties which gives rise to, and creates various offices, does not make it a hydra-headed monster, with as many conflicting duties as there are offices.  It is no Cobra, diffusing the poison of discord, nor the venom of hate, so destructive to Priesthood power; but duties performed under the rights of Priesthood are all harmonious, they all belong to one system, to one order, which is the order of God, after that of His only begotten Son.

The classification and arrangement of the labors incident to the plan of salvation and their assignment to different administrators, as designated by the name of the office to which they are called, is for the purpose of maintaining order and harmony in the exercise of powers among men, that would correspond with the order of God in Heaven.  In this Priesthood there is no one office that can say to another ‘I have no need of you.’  It is in the likeness of the physical body, to which it is compared.  As also there are diversities of gifts in the operations of the Spirit, yet all are by the same Spirit.  Such also is this Priesthood; although there are many offices, to each of which different duties are assigned, yet it is but one Priesthood, each and all of its offices being necessary to a perfect system, as all the members are necessary to a perfect body.

The question which has been so often discussed as to which of certain offices in the Priesthood is the greatest, can only be answered by determining of which is demanded the greatest amount of labor; the most responsible duties to be performed.

If there is no unnecessary office, ordination, calling or duty, belonging to Priesthood, then who shall say that the office and duties of a Teacher are not as important as those of an Elder; or those of a Seventy equally as necessary as those of an High Priest, and each of these in his respective calling as important as those of an Apostle?  The one is not without the other in God’s great saving plan.

A careful consideration of the duties assigned to the several offices in the Church of Christ, would show how wisely they have been appropriated.  In the Church was placed first Apostles.  And why?  Because it was made the duty of that office to be a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and open the door of the Kingdom by proclamation of the Gospel to all nations; to demand of all people everywhere, repentance and baptism for the remission of sins; to become members of the Church and Kingdom of God.  This preaching of the Gospel, this calling to repentance, is the first labor to be performed in any and every dispensation of God to man, and it was infinitely proper that those who were commissioned to do this first work, should be placed officially, first in the Church; such is the office of an Apostle, and such, in part, the duties of his calling.  The mere fact of an office being first in the performance of official duty, does not necessarily imply that it is the greatest.  Its labor may precede the fullness of the Church organization, and prepare the way.  Thus did John, the forerunner of Jesus; the one coming after being greater than the one that went before.  The entire body is greater than any one member, and each member must answer to the body.  There is no office in the Priesthood that is not accountable to others; even though it be that of the president of the High Priesthood.

The fact that there are three Quorums in the Church whose decisions are equal when unanimous, implies a similarity of authority, and the possibility of like calling as existing with each; but the acts and authority of each can only be exercised in the absence of the higher, and in their order.  In the absence of the first presidency of three, the next Quorum increased four-fold in number, being equal to,–may succeed the first.  They always hold the right of presidency abroad as a traveling High Council, but never at home when there is a presidency of the High Priesthood there.  It would next require seventy of their assistants to constitute a presidency, competent to decide in all matters that relate to the organization and spiritual welfare of the Church.

No one of these offices is alone in its authority; each of the others is coordinate with it.  The standing High Councils at the Stakes of Zion, are quorums with like authority, in Church affairs of the Stake as the quorum of the First Presidency or the traveling High Council; subject to revision by the First Presidency with a council of twelve High Priests.  This however, only in affairs that relate to the Church in its organized condition–not as relates to the preaching of the Gospel to the nations of the earth, which special ministry belongs to the Apostles, and the Seventies as their aids.

When those converted to the truth are organized, their organization constitutes government,–the Church and Kingdom of God.  As it is written, ‘they who are faithful to the obtaining of these two Priesthoods become the Church, the Kingdom and the Elect of God.’  This government must be faithfully administered to effectuate the salvation of the people.  This duty and labor in the economy of God has been laid upon High Priests, whose calling differs very essentially from those of the Traveling High Council and Seventies.  The child having been born again by the administrations of those authorized to open the door and admit it into the family circle, must now be committed to parental care–to presidential protection and guardianship, such as the presiding genius of the High Priesthood imparts to all its recipients.

These great and important duties belong to the High Priests,–such men as are here assembled this day.  Their office and calling is to preside.  Presidents of Stakes and their Counselors, the High Council of a Stake; the Bishops of the Wards within the STakes, and their Counselors, are all of the High Priest’s authority and calling; and as a body or quorum in the Stakes of Zion their duties may very appropriately come under consideration.  It is of necessity that they must be performed.

As relates to the members of this quorum, the president of the Stake, or the president of a Ward has no higher Priesthood than the more retired members of the Quorum.  Such presidents are simply placed in a position, by virtue of calling, where they can exercise the powers of Priesthood for those under their care.  The humblest members of the Quorum is eligible to like high calling, and to the performance of like high duties, if occasion requires.

The question now arises, what are the duties to be performed by the presiding authority?  The answer is, that it is no less than the complete salvation, temporally and spiritually, of the members of the family, Ward or Stake to which a president is assigned.  The president of the Stake, by and with the aid of his assistants, must see that every Ward and every family under his jurisdiction is secured in its rights and liberties under the law of God and to this end the law must be enforced; must not be violated; neither must there be any neglect or failure to comply with its conditions.  The duties of father to the family are to a great extent, the duties of president to the people.  He must see that their spiritual wants are provided for, and if necessary open the heavens and obtain the knowledge essential to the people’s welfare; and in the absence of law applicable to any condition that may arise, he must by application to the proper authority, provide for every possible emergency.

Every office or calling of Priesthood under his administration, of necessity, also has a president, who is held alike responsible to those over whom he presidesl; in which position he becomes an aid to the Priesthood of the Stake, as well as a guardian of the rights and interests of the people.  This distribution of authority is necessaryk, that its virtue and power may reach every individual member of the Church, and the burden of labor be not required of only a few.

The legitimate results of the efficient exercise of this authority are such that there can be no iniquity in the Church; no evil speaking; no hardness of eeling; no back-biting, no unrighteousness of any kind to go unreproved, that can be an offence to God or man; every man doing his duty to God and his fellow man.

If this condition does not exist under the administration of organized Priesthood, it is because there is lack of efficiency in that administration, and there is urgent demand for greater vigilance on the part of those who preside; whose duty it is to see the law faithfully administered; which when well done will sanctify the people and make them Godly in Christ Jesus.

The law of God is perfect, making perfect those who keep it.  All such become the Church, the Kingdom and the Elect of God; even to the sanctification and renewing of their bodies.  A perfect law, however, in the hands of an imbecile and corrupt,–or even an indifferent and slothful administration, is in its effect upon the people like salt that has lost its savor, it is without virtue.  Without official integrity the people perish.

Of the Son it is written, that all power both in Heaven and on earth is given unto Him, and in and through His Apostles, as his representatives, this power is exercised which relates to the redemption of man upon the earth.  Of all the list of officers named in His form of Government, He placed first Apostles, to whom he delegated His Almighty power to bind on earth that it may be bound in Heaven.

These Apostles, twelve of whom form a Quorum, must have aids,–helpers to fill their world-wide mission and ministry, which is to every creature in all the world.  These aids are the Seventies who  are to help in the conversion of the race, and thereby create the family, recognized as the household of faith.  This is comparatively the limit of their official duty, and the High Priests are now charged with the responsibilty of assuming the fatherhood of the family, and of presiding over it.

As to the limits of duty required of these two Quorums, one does not in anywise trespass upon the other.  The duties of both are necessary, and neither can say to the other, ‘You are not needed.’  The creations of the one, can only be saved by the exertions of the other.  The Apostles in the exercise of their right to set in order the affairs of the Church, have decided that a Seventy, though he be the president of a Quorum by ordination, cannot preside where an High Priest is located and present.  This determines definitely the jurisdiction, and limits of the two callings, which in connection with the Apostleship, hold all the keys of power and Priesthood that have ever been conferred upon man.  All other offices and authority are but appendages to the High Priesthood, by virtue of which men may become Kings and Priests unto God.

It has been truthfully said that the constitution of our country was given to our fathers by inspiration of God–that it is an inspired document.  It is therefore not unreasonable to infer that the form of government which it creates, is in likeness of, and in accord with some higher form of government in keeping with that inspiration.  A comparison of the earthly with the heavenly, may better enable us to understand the relation of some of the offices of the Priesthood, about which there have been questionable opinions.

The voice of the Lord to Joseph the Apostle and first Elder in the Church, together with six others, declared them to be His Apostles, and God’s High Priests; affirming the fact, that an Apostle is also an High Priest, and consequently has the right of presidency whenever and wherever occasion requires, making this office the Head to all intents and purposes, with general supervision over the High Priests and Seventies, as well as all other offices which are appended to those already named.

Thus, while the President as the Executive of the nation answers to the presiding power vested in the Apostles; the two co-ordinate branches of the law making department of the Government to the two Quorums of High Priests and Seventies; the Supreme Court as adjudicators of the law to the High Council of the High Priesthood; the organization of the several States of the Union in their sovereignty answering to that of the several Stakes of Zion; and the District Courts of the United States in the several States, to the High Council in each of the organized Stakes of Zion, which has its president, as every State has its Governor; it is quite discernable that the inspiration of the temporal provided for the Nation, partakes largely of the divinity of the spiritual, which is the government of Priesthood.

Organizations must be considered in their totality, not in their individuality, in order to determine their excellence and power.  No one branch of the many, which constitute the greatness of our national organization and government, can be dispensed with without undermining the entire structure.  It is the many organized in harmony with each other that constitute a perfect system.  So in the organization of the government of Priesthood, the many offices and callings must all be in active operation and in harmony with each other, to be recognized as a perfect system.  All may be equally meritorious in their respective positions, while faithfully discharging the functions of their offices.  This is especially applicable to the Quorums of High Priests and Seventies, who in the discharge of their duties, are as necessary to the Church, as the two branches of the law making department of government are to the nation, in which there is a similitude; while both, in their official acts, are subject to the executive power vested in the Apostleship or the presidency of the High Priesthood.  These two quorums like the strong arms of the body, are might workers in the responsible labor of man’s redemption, and of bringing to him a knowledge of his God.

Revelation, reason, analogy and experience, all teach us the adaptability of Priesthood government to the wants of man.  It not only deals with all conditions, but with all things applicable to those conditions, whether they be temporal or spiritual; earthly or heavenly.  It takes man from his low estate and palces him on high, making him companionable with those of that estate where the glory is celestial.

When Joseph the Prophet called for a company of volunteers to go to the mountains and find a hiding and resting place for the Saints, he said he wanted them all to be Kings and Priests, so that when they were in the mountain heights they could talk with God; even as Moses did, upon all matters necessary to lead Israel to a land of rest and peace.  Such is the power and domain of Priesthood, whether in heaven or on earth; it circumscribes all things, is in all things, and through all things, wheresoever the works and order of God are made manifest.  While that which constitutes the head commands our admiration and reverence in the organization and distribution of Priesthood’s power, we must not forget that lesser officers are also necessary, and being necessary are as important in their sphere of action, to a complete and perfect system.

The fact that a High Priest has authority to act in all the lesser offices when necessary, implies the necessity on his part of being well instructed in the duties of those offices, to be an efficient member of Priesthood at all times and in any of the places named.  He should comprehend fully the duties assigned to every office which is made an appendage to his; several of which are standing ministers to the Church, and on whom the Church depends for its freedom from sin and iniquity.  The duties of Elder, Priest, Teacher and Deacon, are duly defined by revelation, and no High Priest should be ignorant of what they are; he should use his influence to have them so efficiently performed as to produce their legitimate results among and upon the people.

Those who hold the right of Presidency must be held responsible for any official delinquency, or failure of duty, that shall, under their administration, serve to make the law of none effect; and they are they who belong to this Priesthood, and are recognized as God’s High Priests, such as I am now addressing.  Well will it be if the sins of the people are not found on their skirts, when called to give an account of their stewardship by Him who has declared that where much is given much will be required.

I would not pass entirely unnoticed the right to make law as vested in presiding authorities.  This is an important feature in the government of God.  The living oracles, necessary for the salvation or condemnation of any generation are lawmakers.

As in the history of every nation or government, conditions arise demanding frequent legislation; so the conditions of God’s people to-day may be changed tomorrow.  Every dispensation has a distinct leading feature by which it is recognized from every other.  Rules and regulations must be adopted suited to the character of the work to be performed.  These come through those who hold the keys, and to whom the work is committed.  Those rules and regulations must be observed by those to whom they come, or they are without virtue; are of none effect.

We have an illustration of this principle before us to-day.  This Quorum of High Priests has a presidency.  It is the right of that presidency to dictate, direct, advise and require to be done what in their wisdom is deemed necessary to promote the life, increase the faith, knowledge and power of the Quorum.  To accomplish this, the members must be instructed in the duties of the many callings to which they have been set apart.

To this end a law has been enacted and published; the decree has gone forth to all the High Priests within this Stake of Zion that they shall meet together once in every month to receive the word of the Lord, by counsel or otherwise, as the presiding Council of the quorum shall dictate; and there learn of all matters pertaining to the administrations of the High Priesthood within the Stake.

This demand upon the members of the Quorum is legitimate; is authoritative; it comes from the head, which has the right to dictate every member of the body.  That member that does not respond is in rebellion against the law, is in violation of his own acknowledged faith, and thereby inherits a curse which always follows a disregard and defying of the authority of Priesthood.  How well this fact is appreciated by the High Priests of this Stake may be determined by their punctual attendance at time and place of Quorum meetings.

Young men of little experience, and little responsibility are often admonished and even reproved for neglect of duty in not attending their Quorum meetings; but what shall be said of those who have both age and experience; greater Priesthood and responsibilities, whose example they but follow.  That member who has become so absorbed in worldly affairs that he has no time to attend his Quorum, Ward or Fast-day meetings, and neglects his duties generally, has little claim on the rights and powers of Priesthood.

Now in conclusion, I would appeal to those present to-day; Do you comprehend the importance of the law of God,–of its faithful administration among the people?  Are the keys and powers of Priesthood in your possession?  Are you in the enjoyment of its rights, and in the strict performance of its duties?  Are its powers at your command?  Are you so thoroughly grounded in the knowledge of God and of His ways, that nothing can separate you from His love which was manifest in His Son?  If so, the pledge of eternal life is yours; a pledge that will surely be redeemed by Him who is the Father of us all.”  (Samuel W. Richards, Address on “Priesthood and Government,” before the High Priests’ Quorum of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion, Jan. 26, 1889; DW 38(11):321-324, 9 Mar., 1889)

2 Feb.:  Duties of ordained teachers.

“The subject of the duties of the Teacher in the Church is one of great interest.  It would not be stretching the truth of the position to assume that, speaking as a whole, they are very imperfectly performed.

He who accepts of the office of a Teacher should, by consulting the revelations on the subject, and by a prayerful spirit and reflection, become familiar with its obligations.  He will thus be in a position to act with intelligence.

The next step, to insure thoroughness, is to allow no ordinary circumstances to constitute an obstacle to prevent him performing the duty he has undertaken.

It is the prerogative of the Teacher to be a peacemaker, and bring about a settlement of all disagreements and disputes between the Saints under his care, and where this is impracticable to report to the Bishop, that such cases may be adjudicated in the Court which is composed of the last named official and his Counselors.  It is always the better way, however, to bring about reconciliation in the earlier stage.  By this procedure the important element of unity in the Church is preserved and maintained.

It is incumbent upon the same officer to see that the Saints ‘meet often together,’ or, in other words, that they attend meetings that they may be instructed in matters pertaining to the duties of their religion, partake of the sacrament, etc., that the spirit of the Gospel may not languish amongst them.  In this way life is infused throughout the body religious.

One of the most important duties of the Teacher is to ‘see that no iniquity exists in the Church.’  If professing Latter-day Saints are guilty of any of the grosser offenses, it is his duty to seek diligently to discover the fact and report to the Bishop, that the offender may be dealt with according to the covenants and commandments.

It is always in order for the officer named to use an influence to bring sinncers to repentance, and to take a course generally so as to prevent any of the sheep of the flock that can be saved from being lost.  In this way abominations and every species of wickedness are eliminated and the purity of the Church is maintained.  This duty of the Teacher of itself exhibits the importance of the office.  Its duties lie at the root of matters, and without their performance the more advanced processes of the organization cannot be fully operated.

The spirit of peace must accompany the Teacher, and he must be an exemplification of the principles he should enunciate.  Otherwise his operations will be practically without weight.  It will be absurd and inconsistent for him to advise the people to attend meetings if he personally absents himself from the gatherings of the Saints.  If he be an unobliging neighbor, quarrelsome and a backbiter, with what degree of complacency can he reprove those who are in the same way disposed?  If he is unchaste, his instructions on personal purity are but boomerangs that strike back upon himself, even if he is the only one near acquainted with his departure from the law of the Lord.

The objects for which the office of Teacher was placed in the Church cannot be attained by the person who holds it going around his district in a rush, as a matter of form, to enable him to subsequently report that he has gone through his field and ‘found all the Saints about as usual.’

Entering the houses of the Saints and talking about the weather, the crops, business and other people’s affairs will not accomplish the desired end.

When the Teacher enters the house of a Latter-day Saint he should be given a cordial welcome.  He may move in a humble sphere, so far as the things of the world are concerned, but he is a servant of God, and as such he should be treated.

He should be given an opportunity to perform the duties of his calling.  Household work and other occupations should be temporarily suspended and the head of the house should call the members of the family together and to order, and inform the Teacher that they are ready to receive whatever instructions he may be ready to impart.

Doubtless if the duties of the Teacher were more intelligently, thoroughly and effectively performed than they have been and are, the church would be more vigorous and healthy than it is today.”  (“The Church Teacher,” DW 38(6):172, 2 Feb., 1889)

27 Feb.:  Dissension in the Twelve.

“The council of apostles met at the Presidents office at 10 a.m. . . . I was not at all satisfied with the spirit Manifest at the meeting.  Bros Thatcher & Grant seem to want the church conducted on a money basis.  While returning to the Gardo, Prest Woodruff said to me, he would about as soon attend a funeral as one of our council Meetings.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 27 Feb., 1889)

2 Mar.:  Reordination after excommunication?

“The following question was submitted by Bishop Alva Butler:

If anyone is excommunicated from the Church, holding the Priesthood, and afterwards repents and is baptized again, does that give him the right to hold and officiate in the Priesthood he held before he was excommunicated, or will he have to be ordained again by the proper authorities of the different offices in the Priesthood before he has the right to act in the Priesthood?

President [Angus M.] Cannon answered that such a one could not rightly officiate in any office in the Priesthood unti it had been re-conferred upon him by the proper authority.”  (Salt Lake Stake Priesthood Meeting minutes, 2 Mar., 1889; DW 38(11):331-332, 9 Mar., 1889)

2 Mar.:  Mode of baptismal prayer.

“[Angus M. Cannon speaking.]  In baptizing, some Elders were in the habit of interpolating such phrases as ‘for the remission of sins’ as a part of the form of the ceremony.  This was unauthorized.  In correcting such things, however, proper order should be observed.  It was not the prerogative of any Elder on the bank, for instance, to correct the one who was in the water performing the ordinance.  It was the Bishop’s place to be present and direct at such times, and give all necessary instructions.  Home missionaries, he said, were not authorized to correct each other in public, thus putting each other to shame before the people in order to glorify self.”  (Salt Lake Stake Priesthood Meeting minutes, 2 Mar., 1889; DW 38(11):332, 9 Mar., 1889)

3 Mar.:  Salt Lake Stake priesthood #s.

“President [Angus M.] Cannon then read the statistical report of the Salt Lake Stake for the six months ending February 28, 1889, showing as following: Seven Apostles, 12 Patriarchs, 1,264 Seventies, 403 High Priests, 2012 Elders, 407 Priests, 366 Teachers, 1320 Deacons, 4577 members; total officers and members, 20,368; children under eight years of age, 6,819; total, 27,187; number of families, 5,179.  [44 wards]”  (Minutes of Salt Lake Stake Conference, 3 Mar., 1889; DW 38(11):326, 9 Mar., 1889)

3 Mar.:  Why the Church changes.

“Bishop O. F. Whitney addressed the conference.  I have been an interested and happy listener to the remarks that have been made during this conference; and if I can do nothing else I desire to testify to the truth of the things we have heard.  I rejoice that we are living in a day when we can receive inspired instructions; that we have Apostles and Prophets, and men whom God has chosen to bear His Priesthood, and that we are not left to depend upon the memories of the past, nor entirely upon the hopes of the future; but that we have men now who are able to deliver to us the word of the Lord as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.

It is our duty to listen to the counsel of the living oracles in our midst.  There are those who love to con the musty records of the past and deify the dead letter.  I would not be found belittling what God has spoken in past ages, for ‘holy men of old spake as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’  I accept as true and divine, as do this people, the record known as the Holy Bible.  We also accept the holy record known as the Book of Mormon; also other records which we have, with uplifted hand, sustained as the word of God; but I am one of those who value most the living prophets of God.  I believe this work to be progressive.  It has progressed from the beginning, when it was organized with only six members.  From that hour it has steadily increased in numbers and in influence.  It has added to its numbers and to its principels as it advanced.  Like a tiny snowball started from the mountain top, it has gathered its congenial element as it rolled; and as the snowball becomes an avalanche, so will this work–the little stone cut from the mountain without hands–roll and increase till it fills the whole earth.

There have been men, not only outside, but in the Church, who have had a disposition to deny to the work of God the great possibilities inherent within it.  Many men dislike change, and the moment anything new appears they seek to put it out of existence.  Yet God has said that His course is ‘one eternal round,’ never ending, ever progressing, ever climbing from height to height of perfection and glory.  As the works of mortals, like their makers, must be perishable, so the works of God are eternal as he is, and partake of His progressive nature.  There is an evolution, a progress constantly going on in all the works of God; yet in all ages some of His children have fought against him and His cause.  Nevertheless the work of God goes on, asking no odds of men, retaining its nature, its truth, virtue, stamina and integrity.

President George A. Smith used to compare the growth of this Church to the growth of a hill of corn in its various stages of development, from the time when the tender blade of green shot up from the soil, then increased to three or four larger leaves, then to a fully matured stalk, with silken tassels glittering in the sunlight and bearing its ripened ears, thirty, sixty or a hundred fold.  How foolish for one who had seen the blade in its incipiency, to deny that the matured and ripened stalk was a hill of corn, because it had grown and increased in the meantime.  And how foolish would a farmer be to cut off the extra blades as they grew, determined to keep the hill of corn in its original state and prevent it from increasing!

At the time that Apostle John Henry Smith was presiding over the European mission, he appointed me in the spring of 1883 to temporarily preside over the London Conference.  The question came up in a Priesthood meeting there as to which held the higher authority, the President of a branch, or a traveling Elder.  Several of the branch Presidents, who were local Elders, held that they were superior in authority to the Elders from Zion, and claimed that some former President of the mission had so decided many years before.  I answered that, while that might be the case–though they brought no record in proof of it–that I knew it to be a fact that Apostle John Henry Smith, who was then the presiding authority over the British mission, had said that the traveling Elders should be deferred to as higher in authority than the branch Presidents, and that to me the voice of the living oracle had precedence of the tradition of the past.

Yesterday in our Stake Priesthood meeting, President George Q. Cannon explained this principle very clearly and forcibly, declaring that while God is an unchangeable being, and the principles of truth eternal, that circumstances are continually changing, and that regulations must change to keep pace with the progress of the Lord’s work and be applicable to the ever varying condition of the people.

Another incident.  When the Temple at Kirtland was built no font for baptisms was put in it.  This was because the great principle of baptism for the dead had not then been revealed.  But when the Temple at Nauvoo was projected the Prophet Joseph ordered that a font be put in the basement, and that it be made of wood.  Later on, President Young, after Joseph’s death, ordered that font to be made of stone.  The reason for the change was, I suppose, that stone had become cheaper, and the people were better able to afford it than when the Prophet Joseph had ordered the font made of wood.  Yet this little incident, it is said, created quite a breeze, and President Young was accused by some of tampering with sacred things and changing an established principle, because a change in the circumstances of the people had made it advisable to use stone instead of wood in the construction of a portion of the Temple.

Isaiah says, in relation to the building up of the kingdom of God in the last days:

For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron. . . . A little one shall become a thousand and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.

These words indicate change, progress, growth, development, the going on to perfection, and show that we are not to be bound down by the effete past, nor the imperfect present.  Were this work to stop where it now is, it would be a failure of the fulness of God’s design in relation to it.  It would be the dwarfing of the plant when only half developed; the abandonment of the building just as its foundation were beginning to peer above the ground.  Truth is eternal.  Truth goeth onward; it cannot come to nought; it can have no end.  Says the poet:

Truth crused to earth will rise again,

The eternal years of God are hers;

While error, wounded, writhes with pain,

And dies amid his worshippers.

But the works of God are gradual.  He ‘tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,’ and the revelations of His mighty will to the comprehension and capacity of His children.  Joseph Smith says: ‘If God offers a gift of knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned.’  Hence, in God’s wisdom and mercy the revelation of truth is made gradual.  The work of God builds up by degrees, and His word comes little by little ‘line upon line, precept upon precept;’ like the work of the coral insect which through the stillness of ages builds up the reef which becomes an island, and then a continent, rearing its proud crest above the angry waves.

This work in which we are taking part is but the winding up of a work which God began ages and ages ago, and which He has sought every opportunity to advance in every dispensation, so far as He safely might do, according to the weak and brittle condition of mankind.  Joseph Smith declares this to be the dispensation of the fulness of times into which will flow, like rills and rivers mingling with their ocean, all other dispensations; and that it is necessary that ‘a welding together of all dispensations and keys and powers and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time.’  Moreover, that ‘those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this the dispensation of the fulness of times.’  Does this sound as if there were to be no future for this people, and no progress?  The Apocalypse to-day is a sealed book to men, and yet its full meaning is some day to be made known.  The opening of ‘the seven seals,’ descriptive of ‘the secret acts of men during the seven thousand years of the earth’s temporal history,’ is yet to come.  The Bible is only an abridgment.  The known history of the world is but a fragment.  Had not the Book of Mormon come forth what would we know today about the history of the Jaredites and the Nephites who built up a civilization on this ancient continent that would have caused the glory of the kingdoms of the East to pale away.  Yet that book and the others that God has revealed to us, are but a beginning to the revelations God designs to give His Church and children in this dispensation.  Joseph Smith declared that were he to tell the people what God had revealed to him, ‘one half they would reject through prejudice and ignorance.’  And doubtless he died with unspoken secrets in his breast, treasures of truth of which the world was not then worthy.  If this generation will accept what God has already revealed, the greater things will be given which are ‘not had among men because of unbelief.’  But if they repudiate the simpler things, the greater things will be withheld to their condemnation.  So saith Jesus Christ through the Prophet Moroni:

And he that will contend against the word of the Lord, let him be accursed; for unto them will I show no greater things, saith Jesus Christ, for I am He who speaketh.

Cannot we see the necessity for living oracles?  Can we safely tie ourselves down to any book and say, I want no more than this?  Will we ever see the day when we will not need prophets, seers and revelators in our midst, to declare unto us the things of God as fast as we are able to receive them?  No; we will never see the time when there will not stand at the head of this Church a man having power to communicate to its members the revelations of God for the guidance and government of His Church.  Heber C. Kimball says that the Prophet Joseph told him that the first step to apostasy was losing confidence in the leaders of the Church, and that the man who is filled with fault-finding and murmuring could not at the same time have the Spirit of the Lord.  The priesthood is an eternal chain reaching from heaven to earth, and when a man holding it speaks by the power of God and is acting in the spirit of his calling, the whole Priesthood on earth and in heaven are bound to back him up and make good his words.  But he who rebels against rightful authority and fights against God, severs himself from the chain and becomes a detached or broken link until he repents and turns again in obedience unto righteousness.

There are some who think that matters now are going all wrong, that the Church is falling to pieces.  But there are times, we must remember, when victory wears the aspect of defeat and even success may look like failure.  The death of our Savior was looked upon as a great calamity by His own disciples.  They forgot that He had told them that His death and sufferings were the pathway to their redemption, and that he must drink of the bitter cup that His Father had prepared for Him.  They thought that the work of God had come to nought, that He whom they ‘trusted would redeem Israel’ had failed, until in His resurrected body He appeared unto them, encouraged and instructed them, and sent them into all the world with power to preach the Gospel to every creature.

So it is in this day.  The work of God may seem to go backward, or stand still, but such a thing can never really happen.  When we shoot an arrow from a bow we do not hold it still and expect it to fly forward to the target; but we draw back the arrow to its head and then, loosing it, we see it speed onward with force and celerity to the mark.  When a man would clear a gulf with a might leap, he does not stand upon the brink and spring, but he moves back a little and then runs forward more swiftly in order to gain force and momentum for the bound.  I testify in the name of Jesus Christ that this work of our God, which, to the weak in faith, may seem to be breaking in pieces, or going backward, is preparing to take the grandest leap of victory and success, of triumph and glory, that this world has ever beheld.

Bishop Whitney here took his seat, but in a few moments, resuming the stand, said:

I am requested to make a little further explanation in regard to the position which I have taken in my remarks, in order not to leave a wrong impression upon the minds of the congregation.  I do not mean to be understood as saying that a law of God, applicable to all times and places, such as the principle of faith, of repentance, of baptism, or the laying on of hands for the giving of the Holy Ghost, will ever be done away, no matter how circumstances may change or different regulations may be called into play and application.  Many other principles might be enumerated, but I have no time to dwell upon them.  The pillars of truth are eternal, the principles of the Gospel are endless; they never can be destroyed or done away with.  Joseph Smith says that ‘God, finding himself in the midst of spirits and of glory, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest might advance like himself.’  These laws were and are the eternal principles of the unchangeable and everlasting Gospel, the same in all ages and in all dispensations.  They never change.  They are ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever;’ because they are the emanations of Him who is endless and eternal.  The law of Moses may be called an eternal law to those to whom it is made applicable; and when Christ came He said, ‘I come not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it.’  The law of Moses had done its duty, had performed its mission.  It was then laid away, like a kerosene lamp after the introduction of the gas-light; not that it might never be used again; not that it might not at some future time in the history of this world or of other worlds be needed and made applicable to the condition of the people to whom it might come.  But when that which was perfect had come, that which was in part was set aside or was fulfilled.  This is my meaning.  All truth is coherent and harmonious.  Principles never change, but regulations may; and the living oracles will always be found vindicating the law, as Christ did, whether it be written or spoken, and enunciating the law according to the condition and the stage of the advancement of God’s people.

Apostle Moses Thatcher said: We desired Brother Whitney to speak a few words in addition to what he first said, not but what we saw that the Spirit of God was leading him in the line of the revelations of the Almighty, as recorded in the revelations.  But we were apprehensive that unless he made the explanation which he did by his further remarks, there might be some misunderstanding in regard to the written law of the Lord.  This book (the Doctrine and Covenants) contains many things revealed to the Prophet Joseph, and so far as it was revealed as a law, or in reference to the organization of the Holy Priesthood, there is no power in the living oracles to change it until it becomes obsolete, and is changed by God Himself through His inspired servants holding the keys.  There is but one on the earth at a time that holds the keys, and he is the President of the Church, or the President of the Twelve Apostles, acting in that capacity.

Now, a man may be a living oracle to his family.  A High Priest acting as the Bishop of a ward may be a living oracle for his ward; the President of a Stake a living oracle for the people of his Stake; and the Twelve Apostles as individuals, traveling throughout the world under the instruction of the Presidency under one form, each in his place, is a living oracle.  The President of the Church holds the keys, and he alone can give revelations for the guidance of the Church, or change any laws of the Church through the keys and power which he exercises; and when God changes a law the first becomes obsolete, and there can be and is no conflict; but until that change is made we as individuals and as living oracles must not bring doctrines in conflict with the written word or law of the Lord, and it was upon this point that I desired Brother Whitney to more fully explain; as, for instance, a quorum of Elders has a certain number, and a quorum of Priests has a certain number; so have other organizations; and each have their specific powers.

It is in the written word of the Lord, which He has revealed, that a certain ceremony should be used in baptizing and in the Sacrament.  Now the living oracles cannot change that, but God speaking through His servant holding the keys may.  They may speak under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, in harmony with the written word of the Lord, which is the constitution that binds the Church just as the Constitution should limit the acts of our government.  Brother Whitney has explained this so as to leave no misapprehension.  We are all governed, as I understand it, by the word of the Lord in these things; and, just as he remarked, the law of the Lord is a perfect law.  He gave a more perfect law to do away with sacrifice, but Jospeh the Prophet of modern times has revealed in the latter times that there will yet be an acceptable offering of sacrifice offered by the sons of Levi.  But the Elders of Israel, while to a degree the living oracles of God, are governed by the revealed will of the Lord.  I desired to make this explanation.

President Brigham Young brought forth many truths, and said he never looked into the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants for their explanation, but knew when he spoke by the power of God and the gift of the Holy Ghost, that he would speak in harmony with what was actually written; and we, as living oracles should speak in harmony with the revealed and written law of God.”  (Orson F. Whitney, Salt Lake Stake Conference minutes, 3 Mar., 1889; DW 38(11):327-329, 9 Mar., 1889)

3 Mar.:  PJ&J restored the Apostleship.

“Our Father in heaven sent His servant John the Baptist from the realms of glory to lay his hands on two chosen vessels–Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery.  They were ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood.  He afterwards sent three heavenly messengers–Peter, James and John–who held the keys of the former dispensation, under the Son of God, and they bestowed the Apostleship and the keys of this dispensation upon Joseph Smith, Jun., and, in conjunction with him, upon Oliver Cowdery.  The fulness of the Priesthood was then bestowed.  [DOES THIS MEAN THE HIGH PRIESTHOOD IN 1831?] Subsequently other heavenly messengers, who had acted in various dispensations, came and ministered unto the Prophet Joseph and revealed unto and bestowed upon him the keys which they held.  Moses, Elias, Elijah and others came in their various times and seasons and restored to the earth these keys and this authority.”  (George Q. Cannon, address at a Priesthood Meeting, Provo, 3 Mar., 1889; DW 38(13):386, 23 Mar., 1889)

3 Mar.:  Adam held the priesthood first.

“In the first place, I will say that the Prophet Joseph taught us that Father Adam was the first man on the earth to whom God gave the keys of the Everlasting Priesthood.  He held the keys of the Presidency, and was the first man who did hold them.  Noah stood next to him.  These keys were given to Noah, he being the father of all living in his day, as Adam was in his day.  These two men were the first who received the Priesthood in the eternal worlds, before the worlds were formed.  They were the first who received the Everlasting Priesthood or Presidency on the earth.  Father Adam stands at the head, so far as this world is concerned.  Of course, Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest of the salvation of the human family.  But Adam holds those keys in the world today; he will hold them to the endless ages of eternity.  And Noah, and every man who has ever held or will hold the keys of Presidency of the Kingdom of God, from that day until the scene is wound up, will have to stand before Father Adam and give an account of the keys of that Priesthood, as we all will have to give an account unto the Lord, of the principles that we have received, when our work is done in the flesh.”  (Wilford Woodruff, address at a Priesthood Meeting, Provo, 3 Mar., 1889; DW 38(13):389, 23 Mar., 1889)

4 Mar.:  Elders quorums may have more than 96 members.

“President Angus M. Cannon then read the reports of the Third, Sixth and Seventh quorums of Elders.  While doing so he explained that, while the proper number of members in a quorum of Elders is ninety-six, it has, in some instances, been deemed advisable to allow this number to be increased until there is a sufficient number to organize a new quorum.”  (Salt Lake Stake Conference minutes, 4 Mar., 1889; DW 38(11):330, 9 Mar., 1889)

4 Mar.:  SL Stake home missionaries.

[96 Home Missionaries were sustained in Stake Conference, including all three members of the Stake Presidency.]  (Salt Lake Stake Conference minutes, 4 Mar., 1889; DW 38(11):330, 9 Mar., 1889)

16 Mar.:  The Lesser Priesthood.


There are in the Church of Christ two branches of the Holy Priesthood–the Melchisedek, which is the greater, and includes the less, and the Aaronic or Lesser Priesthood, which acts under the direction of the higher.  They are channels of Divine light and power.  Through the Melchisedek Priesthood flow the spiritual blessings to the Church; through the Aaronic come directions as to the temporalities of the Church.  The province of the latter being chiefly to minister in things that are temporal, that is for this earth and the present time, it is called the Lesser Priesthood, because the things that are spiritual are greater, for they are eternal and comprehend principles and powers that relate to all the worlds and all the ages.

It is not the purpose of this article to dwell particuilarly upon the functions and sphere of the higher, but to call attention to some of the duties and purposes of the Lesser Priesthood.  At the head of this branch is the Bishopric.  Priests after the order of Aaron, when organized into a quorum, must be presided over in a quorum capacity by a Bishop and two Counselors.  The Presiding Bishopric, or Bishopric of the Church, preside over all the Bishops in their simple capacity of Bishops.

This requires some explanation.  The office of a Bishop belongs to a lineal firstborn descendant of Aaron whose lineage has been determined by revelation or satisfactory proof.  But in the absence of such a descendant, as the greater includes the less, a High Priest after the Order of Melchisedek may be ordained and set apart to act in the office of Bishop.  The presiding Bishopric have no jurisdiction over him as a High Priest, but only over his position in the Lesser Priesthood.

The mingling of these two offices or callings sometimes creates a little confusion in the minds of those who do not thoroughly understand them.  Bishops are appointed to act in the several Wards.  With two Counselors, each Bishop sits as a common judge in Israel.  If he were a lineal firstborn descendant of Aaron, he could act in that capacity without Counselors.  He may receive tithes and offerings, regulate the temporal affairs of the Church is his Ward, preside over the lesser Priesthood, see that the poor are provided for, and that the members do their duty, and give counsel in secular affairs as may be necessary for the welfare of the members and of the Ward.  But he cannot, as a Bishop, preside over meetings when an Elder is present, confirm by the laying on of hands, officially bless a child, or do anything that of right comes under the authority of the Melchisedek Priesthood.

It is an error, therefore, to say that such a Ward is presided over by Bishop So-and-So; that a child received ‘a Bishop’s blessing;’ or that Bishop Such-a-one confirmed a member in the Church, or that he ordained an Elder.  The High Priest who has been ordained and set apart to act as a Bishop may preside, ordain, confirm and bless, but he does all these things as a High Priest after the order of Melchisedek, and not as a Bishop, who acts simply in the Aaronic Priesthood.

This distinction should be kept in mind.  When a Bishop’s court sits it does not act in the Melchisedek Priesthood.  There is no such a court in the Church as a tribunal of three High Priests.  The First Presidency is not a court.  The most important cases are to be carried up to the High Council, composed of twelve High Priests and presided over by a presiding High Priest and his two Counselors, or by either or both of them.  To this tribunal, cases may be appealed from the decisions of the Bishops’ Courts.

A Bishop is not a ruler, as supposed by some persons who write against ‘Mormonism.’  His functions are ministerial and judicial, in an ecclesiastical sense.  One important duty of the Bishopric is care for the needs of the poor.  This comprehends something more than receiving and disbursing alms.  The feeble, aged, and sick, who are indigent, need support from funds in the hands of the Bishop.  But the poor, who are not disabled, should have employment rather than gratuities.  Idleness leads to vice, and pauperism is a social evil.  To find work for those who cannot find it for themselves, is one of the labors incident to the offices in the lesser Priesthood, and is specially within the sphere of the Bishops.

There is perhaps no more important opportunity for the exercise of the wisdom, discretion and benevolence required in magnifying the calling of a Bishop than in promoting industries so that the Divine injunction shall not be violated–‘The idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer.’  To provide employment suitable to each individual, for young and old of both sexes, so that all but the disabled shall be self-sustaining and be able to contribute to the common good, is one of the most valuable services to the Church and the individuals that the Bishops can perform.  If they would charge their minds with this as one of their pressing duties, and seek for Divine as well as human aid in its performance, ways and means would be devised by which home industries would be multiplied and fostered, and the whole Church and the entire community would be vastly benefitted.

In the perfect social system which at some time will be established on this planet there will be a place for everybody and everybody will find the right place.  Therein will be joy.  Toiling in uncongenial occupations stifles happiness.  All the varied talents of diversified humanity are intended for development, and free but prudent exercise.  Some day, every son and daughter of the Most High will find the right place for full expansion, usefulness and enjoyment.  Not till then will ‘that which is perfect’ come.  To lead up to it, to control circumstances and means to that end, belongs to the power and offices of the Holy Priesthood, and, in present conditions, particularly to the Bishopric and the helps and aids thereto in the offices of the Lesser Priesthood.  If that power were exerted as it might be in Israel, there would be no silent workshops, or toolless artisans, or workless laborers in winter or summer.  And changes would be gradually wrought in the classification of labor and through the encouragement given to talent in special directions, so that each active man and woman would gravitate to his or her own sphere, and find in it pleasure as well as profit.

In the work of looking after the temporal things, the Priests, Teachers and Deacons, or those acting in that capacity, are intended to be aids to the Bishops.  Priests are ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood.  The offices of Teacher and Deacon are appendages to that Priesthood.  These should all be active assistants, in their several callings, in the temporalities over which the Bishops have jurisdiction.  To train the Lesser Priesthood in the duties, powers and functions of their offices is a work devolving upon the Bishops.  If this were followed according to the Divine design those hard-worked ‘Sons of Aaron’ would be relieved of many things that tax their time and patience, because they could be performed by some Priest, Teacher or Deacon who could be entrusted therewith.

The house visiting required of the Lesser Priesthood has been talked about much in public meetings with a view to its improvement.  But until the Bishops make a specialty of training the Lesser Priesthood in the proper performance of this very important duty it is probable that it will remain in its present imperfect condition.  There is nothing that is so likely to affect the home and inner life of the Saints and influence them for permanent good, as the ministrations of the Lesser Priesthood as they are intended and commanded in the revelations on that subject.  They require choice men who understand human character, who are imbued with the spirit of wisdom and instruction, and who are familiar with common practical affairs.

To select these visiting officers and discipline them until the become efficient is incumbent upon the Bishops, and while at first it may seem to increase their labors, yet when they accomplish this desired end it will actually lessen them because each efficient visiting officer will do something that without such a help the Bishop would have to do in person.  If there is a reform in Israel that seems to be more pressing than another, it is in the direction of a better organization and exercise of the Lesser Priesthood according to the pattern given and the purpose intended by the Revealer of our faith.

Every member of the Church in an organized Ward is amenable to the Bishop thereof so far as the scope of his office extends.  An Apostle pays tithes to the Bishop; if he has a difficulty with a brother, he may be admonished by the Bishop; if his conduct in the Ward requires investigation and a decision, the Bishop’s Court will act in his case; if he does not perform family duties, or attend to family prayers, or conduct himself as the law of the Lord requires, he is within the sphere of the Lesser Priesthood in their visiting and teaching occupation.  So with other officers in the Melchisedek Priesthood.  But in this it is not as an Apostle, or High Priest, or Seventy or Elder, as the case may be, that he comes within this jurisdiction, it is as a member of the Church, and the power of the Bishop and the Lesser Priesthood can only be exercised according to the specified extent.

In a trial before a Bishop’s Court, a decision may be rendered showing what an accused person must do in order to retain the fellowship of the Ward of which he is a member, no matter what position me may hold in the Holy Priesthood, an appeal, of course, lying to the High Council.  But the power of the Bishopric does not extend to the deprivation of that Priesthood, because it is something that the Bishopric has not the power to bestow.

On this hypothesis, which is now made practical in action upon transgressors, it may well be questioned whether excommunication, even of a member, is not one of ‘the most important cases’ and exercises of power in the Church; whether capital punishment, which it is in a spiritual sense, is one of the powers of ‘a common judge in Israel;’ and whether the complete taking away of Church membership involved in cutting off, should not rightfullly vest in that Priesthood which alone holds the power to confirm a person a member of the Church by the laying on of hands and ‘the gift of the Holy Ghost.’

But this is merely suggested as a matter for thought.  No harm can come from thinking, so long as no evil purpose lurks behind the thoght, or evil desire is fostered by that reflection.  There is far more danger to both the Higher and the Lesser Priesthood in apathy, in stupidity, in lethargy and in slothfulness, than in the discussion of doubtful questions, or the analyzing of subjects supposed to be settled, providing the inquiry is conducted in a proper spirit.  ‘The glory of God is intelligence,’ and a thorough understanding of our faith and of the duties, responsibilities, requirements and limitations of our callings, whatever they may be, is far more likely to bring power, force and influence for good than a careless acceptance of everything we hear, and an indolence of mind and spirit which worketh death.  The Lesser Priesthood abideth forever with the Holy Priesthood, which is after the order of an endless life, and therefore its officers should be fully imbued with its spirit and thoroughly versed in its rights, privileges and bounds.

When the perfect order of the Priesthood prevails, much that now, through circumstances, engrosses the time and care of the highest quorums of the Melchisedek Priesthood will, no doubt, be relegated to the Lesser Priesthood, where it belongs, and thus give more time and leisure and opportunity to those presiding and regulating authorities to commune with the heavens, approach unto the Highest, receive the spiritual manifestations and blessings for the Church which pertain to their sacred offices, and thus bring the Church on earth nearer to the Church of the Firstborn on high, and hasten the grand consummation foreordained for ‘the fulness of times.’

But the keys of authority to oversee the temporalities as well as spiritualities of the Church, will always remain with the Presidency of the High Priesthood; while the actual manipulation of temporal things and the details of their management is with the Lesser Priesthood, at the head of which is the Bishopric in a Ward, and the Presiding Bishopric in the Church as a whole body.  The Presidency of a Stake presides over all the officers in the Stake as parts thereof.  The Presidency of the High Priesthood presides over all the officers in the Church, of every grade and calling, and the head of this quorum is a Prophet, Seer and Revelator, having all the gifts of God which He bestows on the Head of the Church.  Here is wisdom and light, and power and order and beauty, and by this means will the glory of God be made manifest both now and forever.

C[harles]. W. P[enrose].”

(“The Lesser Priesthood,” DW 38(12):353-355, 16 Mar., 1889)

23 Mar.:  Counsel and Coercion.

“The right to counsel is not the right to coerce.  The two terms have different meanings.  One does not imply the other.  Counsel means advice, coercion signifies compulsion.  The authority of the Holy Priesthood, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, carries with it no element of arbitrary force, no power to compel men and women to accept any doctrine or policy, or to do or refrain from doing any particular act.  The functions of that Priesthood are ministerial and advisory, and when exercised in presidency are governmental only by the consent of the governed.

Though God may endow a man with the keys of the Priesthood, and the gifts of a prophet, a seer and a revelator, yet if the people to whom he is sent do not choose to receive him in that capacity, or while acknowledging his divine calling decline or neglect to follow his teachings and carry out his counsels, he is not authorized to inflict upon them any punishment involving life, liberty or property, or to use any coercive measures to bring them to compliance.  He can declare a message, proclaim the divine will, explain the benefiits to be derived from obedience and the consequences of rejection, but he must not force submission or exercise personal dominion by which the free agency of any person is infringed.

God, himself, the highest of all, from whom sacerdotal authority emanates, does not force the human mind or compel obedience to His commands.  As in natural laws so in spiritual laws; the will of the creature is as free as the will of the Creator.  Men violate what they know to be the laws of nature.  In the same way they may disregard what they believe or know to be the commandments of God.  The consequences in either case are inevitable; but the volition of man is undisturbed.

Deity never compels the choice of the right nor prevents the choice of the wrong.  Herein is the sphere where justice claims its own.  If mankind were not free, mankind could not be judged as accountable beings.  There could be no just punishment or reward if the liberty of the individual was not preserved.  The final judgment is predicated on man’s free agency.  Good and evil are ever present in this mortal life, and as with the life-tree and the death-tree in the primeval paradise, both are within the reach of man’s free will until the choice is made and its consequences ensue.

Then, if the Almighty, who has the right to command, abstains from coercion, His servants, who have no such right in an of themselves over their fellows, would be outside of their prerogatives if they attempted to compel compliance with their counsel.

There is a wide difference between counsel and commandment.  One may come legitimately from a man holding authority in the Priesthood, the other can only come properly from God.  When men assume the powers reserved to Deity, they may terrorize the weak for a time, but this abuse of authority is sure to injure the person who thus seeks to grasp dominion over the souls of men, more than those who may temporarily suffer from the wrong.  The counsels of the Priesthood must be given in all righteousness, meekness, brotherly kindness and charity, or they will not be accompanied by that living, spiritual power which alone can vitalize them and endow them with power from on high.  For, it is only as the ministers of the Lord that the authority even to give counsel to others may be exercised in the Church.

Revelation declares that one man is not to be in bondage unto another.  There is no man-worship or human distinction in the Church of Christ.  ‘The rights of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven,’ and these ‘withdraw themselves’ when those who hold the Priesthood here undertake to ‘exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion in any degree of unrighteousness.’  Reproof may be administered with sharpness when necessary but only as inspired by the Holy Ghost and to be followed by an increase of love to those who are reproved.  (Doctrine and Covenants, p. 424.)  That is the doctrine of heaven and is the essence of priestly power in ‘Mormonism.’

The Gospel is ‘a perfect law of liberty.’  But even under the Mosaic code the rights of the people were recognized and protected.  The Almighty said Israel should not have a King.  But when they determined to have one and risk the evils He portended as the result, God did not interfere.  Israel chose Kings and were not hindered in establishing monarchial government, because it was their choice and they had the right of choice under the law of free agency.

In the Church of Christ the rights of the people as to Church government are declared by revelation.  The Presidency consists of ‘three presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, apopinted and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the Church.’  This presiding quorum or council is balanced by the Council of the Twelve Apostles, which ‘form a quorum equal in authority and power’ to the First Presidency.  This precludes the idea of a ‘one man power’ such as is represented by opponents of the Church to be its form of government.  It is further ordained that ‘every decision made by these quorums, or either of them, must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other’ (Doc. & Cov. p. 386.)  Every officer in the Church is such by the sanction and consent of the people to whom he is to minister.  He cannot be forced upon them.

The powers of state are separate and distinct from those of the Church.  They spring from the people under the laws and genius of the republic.  The government revealed to the Latter-day Saints, democratic as it is in its feature of common consent, is distinctly declared by the Divine voice to be only Church government.  ‘Behold, the laws which ye have received from my hand are the laws of the Church, and in this light shall ye hold them forth.’  (Doc. & Cov. p. 219.)  No man in Utah holds a civil office by virtue of his ecclesiastical office.  Every office holder must be elected by the people except to such offices as are filled by civil appointment.  In neither case does the office come from the Church.  No matter how many of the voters may belong to the same church, it is not in the capacity of church members but of citizens that they cast their ballots, and that is done under the civil law.  They may elect one of their own faith or not, as they determine.  And they may seek advice from whom they choose as to the best men for office.

There is nothing in the Constitution or laws or institutions of our country which forbids a man who holds an ecclesiastical calling to counsel another as to political affairs.  But that counsel must not be accompanied or followed by coercion.  Compulsion in such matters would not only be repugnant to republican principles, but contrary to the spirit and letter of the true creed of the ‘Mormon’ Church.  If any man thinks that by virtue of some office he holds in the Priesthood he has the right to compel others to vote at his dictation, he mistakes the nature and scope of his authority and the spirit of the religion of which he is the minister.

It is also wrong to give way to anger when counsel is not accepted.  If that counsel is wise, prompted by the Divine Spirit, and for the benefit of the person to whom it is given, pity, not wrath, should be evoked in the breast of the adviser.  The consequences of rejecting good counsel will fall on the rejecter, not the imparter.  And it is a sign of personal motive in giving the monition, when neglect or refusal to follow it arouses rage on the part of the counselor.

‘Dictation’ is a word that grates on the ear of a freeman.  In its imperial sense it has no place in ‘Mormon’lexicography.  That a presiding officer should lead, direct, guide and counsel those who have accepted him in that capacity, no reasonable person will deny.  But this does not imply autocracy, infallibility or dogmatic egotism.  ‘Great I and little you’ is foreign to the genius of our Church and repugnant to its fundamentals.  It also defeats its own purpose.  There is no more effectual way of lessening one’s own dignity and influence than to assume unwarranted powers and attempt to exercise undue authority.  ‘Let him that would be greatest among you become the servant of all,’ is among the golden sayings of Him ‘who spake as never man spake.’

On the other hand consistency would say that the people who sustain by their votes, in Church meetings, men in the Priesthood to be their Presidents and leaders, should be willing to hearken to counsel and prompt to follow in a selected path, providing it is all ‘in righteousness.’  In this they need not forfeit or suspend their own agency.  Voluntary acquiescence in or submission to any plan or advice implies no servility.  In all forms of government, civil or ecclesiastical, there must be some yielding of individuality for the common welfare.  And this need not and should not establish any form of despotism nor render any man a serf.  The liberty of the creature is part of the economy of the Creator, and none less than He has the [authority?] to deny or abridge it.

Counselors are chosen in the various orders of Presidency in the Church, so that imperialism may not be established even in form, and that the presiding officer may have the benefit of competent assistance and advice.  It is the duty of Counselors to counsel, as the name of their office denotes.  But this does not mean obstruction or direction of the head.  The deciding power is in the presiding power.  Three minds are more likely to see a matter on all sides than one mind, and when the three are agreed the conclusion is more likely to be right.  It is always unsafe to base judgment on a one-sided view of a case, and different minds perceive the same thing from different standpoints, hence the wisdom of a Presidency of three instead of one, and of a Council of twelve to sit in judgment in ‘the most important cases.’

Coercion really finds no vantage ground within the so-called ‘Mormon’ system.  The utmost extent of power to punish its members for any cause is excommunication.  That is, persons who have voluntarily accepted certain rules and regulations may be excluded from membership for refusing to comply therewith.  This power is claimed and exercised by all religious bodies and is essential to their identity.

Civil and religious liberty are ingrained in the system known as ‘Mormonism’ and its aim is to make man truly free.  It inculcates the liberty of law but does not favor license.  It establishes the true relations of government and the governed.  And when fully developed and established, it will bring the creature into the most intimate relations with the Creator and make all redeemed intelligences, unfettered, independent members of the universal brotherhood of the Gods, who are the emancipated and glorified sons of the Eternal Ruler of the universe.”  (“Counsel and Coercion,” DW 38(13):394-395, 23 Mar., 1889)

5 Apr.:  Reorganization of 1st Presidency.

“The council of apostles met at 10:30 A.M. . . . Prest Woodruff said he felt the time had come that the Church should be fully organized & that the First Presidency should be organized according to the revelations.  called on the brethren to express their feelings.  Elder L Snow referred to the days of the Prophet Joseph & the organization of the Church – also to the death of Pres B. Young. & when Prest John Taylor was chosen.  concluded by moving that President Wilford Woodruff be the President of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that he be authorized to nominate his two counselors to form the First Presidency of the Church.  Elder F. D. Richards was in favor of the First Presidency being organized and seconded the Motion as made by Elder L Snow.

“Elder Geo. Q. Cannon was in favor.

  ”   B. Young        ”  ”    “

  ”   Joseph F. Smith ”  ”    “

  ”   M Thatcher has felt for some time the necessity of a complete organization of the Priesthood.  referred to the organization of the First Presidency at the time when President John Taylor was chosen to preside was in favor of the Motion.  Prest Woodruff said that F. M. Lyman had been consulted and had expressed himself as in favor.

“Elder John H Smith   was in favor of the Motion

   ”   Geo Teasdale    ”  ”    ”   ”   ”    “

   ”   H J. Grant      ”  ”    ”   ”   ”    “

        ”   John W. Taylor  ”  ”    ”   ”   ”    “

   ”   D H Wells       ”  ”    ”   ”   ”    “

“Prest Woodruff said I have never seen a time when the Church needs the services of the Twelve than to-day.  A many of us have been tied up – I am thankful for the united feeling which has been made manifest this morning  On the question on the Motion being called it was carried unanimously.  Prest Woodruff, said I have considered this matter for some time and have felt to select and now nominate Elders Geo. Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith as my counselors.  I am getting along in years and cannot expect to be long with you.  I was present when the Prophet Joseph rolled the responsibility of the Church on to the shoulders of the Apostles.  I am the oldest member of the Apostles.  There should be perfect union among us as Apostles and in this quorum.  It is the duty of the Apostles to see that the Gospel is carried to the Nations and their services are very much needed among the Latter-day Saints.  I am pleased with the spirit manifested by Elder John W. Taylor this morning on this land matter.  We should have no other desire than to labor for the interest of the Church and Kingdom of God.  Elder D H Wells moved that the nominations as made by Pres Woodruff be approved.  Sec’d by Elder John W Taylor.  Elder Geo Q. Cannon expressed his personal feelings as to the nomination of himself.  he would rather be excused.  I can only accept of this nomination by Knowing that it is the will of the Lord.  and that it is with the hearty and full approval of my brethren.  I trust you will all understand my feelings in this Matter.  Prest Woodruff said it has been made manifest to me by the Lord that it is right for us to organize the First Presidency.  I can also say that I have prayed over this matter and I know that it is the mind and will of the Lord, that Bros Cannon & Smith shall be my counselors.  Elder L. Snow said he Knew that it is the mind and will of God. that Bros Geo. Q. Cannon & Joseph f. Smith should be the counselors to President Woodruff in the First Presidency  Elder D. H. Wells spoke and gave his views.         

Elder F. D. Richards moved that Elder Geo Q Cannon be approved & sustained as the first counselor to President W. Woodruff in the First Presidency.  Sec by Elder Teasdale.  Elder M Thatcher said that in consequence of the remarks of Prest Woodruff of the manifistations of the spirit to him, I am ready to vote for Bro Cannon.  I wish I had put myself in such a position as to have had the same manifistations.  There has been come matters of his former administration which have not been approved by the Saints but I will let that pass.  when I vote for him I shall do so freely and will try and sustain him with all my might.  Elder L. Snow spoke again  Elder Geo Q Cannon spoke very feelingly and wished the brethren to speak freely.  Elder B. Young, could not understand Bro Thatchers position.  I know that it is the mind & will of the Lord that Bros Cannon & Smith shall be the counselors to Prest Woodruff.  Elder Joseph F. Smith expressed his feelings.  he would rather go to Van Diemans land or China or any other place than to be appointed to this office.  I feel my humility.  have not had any manifistations as to my name until the manifestation presented by Prest Woodruff.  I know my weakness and ask forgiveness for all I have said or done to injure any person.  Elder Geo. Q. Cannon named each of the brethren present and said if he had ever said or done anything to injure or to hurth the feelings of any of you my brethren I ask your forgiveness.  If there is anything remaining in any of your minds as to what I may have said or done – I ask your forgiveness.  I do this as a duty, privilege and a pleasure.  Elder John H. Smith referred to former meeting of the council and reconciliations.  I can and shall fully sustain Bro Cannon.  The question being called the vote was unanimous in favor.  Moved by Elders M. Thatcher secd by Elder B Young that Joseph F. Smith be approved and sustained as the second counselor to Prest W Woodruff.  carried unanimously.  Moved by Elder John H. Smith that Elder L. Snow be the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  Secd by Elder Teasdale & Carried.  Moved by Elder John H. Smith that Elder F. D. Richard be historian of the Church.  Secd by Elder Grant & carried.  Prest Woodruff presented the question of submitting the Name of Bro. John W. Young to the Conference as counselor to the Twelve.  Elder Jos F. Smith felt that Bro. Young should be present before any action is taken in his case.  I believe that he has much faith in the Gospel and is willing to labor in the interest of the Church.  On Motion of Elder J. F Smith adjourned.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 5 Apr., 1889)

7 Apr.:  Sustaining of new First Presidency.

“President George Q. Cannon said the object of arranging the priesthood in their various quorum capacities was that they might, when the various authorities were presented, arise to their feet and vote.  The order of voting, said President Cannon, will be as follows:- 1st – The Quorum of the Twelve; 2d – Patriarchs, Presidents of Stakes, their counselors and the High Council; 3d – the High Priests; 4th – the Seventies; 5th – the Elders; 6th – Bishops and counselors; 7th – the lesser priesthood; 8th – the entire congregation, priesthood and Saints.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 7 Apr., 1889)

7 Apr.:  President not able to lead Church astray.

“Pres. Woodruff then spoke on the duties of the Priesthood and said that neither he nor any other man could lead the Church astray, for the moment they attempted it they would be removed from their positions.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 7 Apr., 1889)

7 Apr.:  High Priests ordained 70’s prior to missions.

“Apostles Moses Thatcher and Heber J. Grant in the presence of Bros. Gates and Morgan ordained two High Priests who were going on missions to be Seventies.  This is an innovation, for while I believe that a Seventy holds the higher office, there are some, even among the Twelve, who think a High Priest is higher.  This settles the matter as far as these two missionaries are concerned.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 7 Apr., 1889)

19 May:  Duties of Teachers.

“I speak in this strain this evening because this is a Priesthood meeting and here are the teachers–the persons who visit the houses of the Saints.  Teachers, do you inquire where these girls and boys are at night?  Do you inquire of the parents if the children keep good hours?  Do you inquire if they are at parties at improper hours with improper companions and improper surroundings?  You should do this.  It is well enough to inquire how they feel toward the Presidency of the Church, or to the Twelve, or to the Presidency of the Stake, or to their brethren and sisters.  But there are other questions which may be asked, and which are equally as important as these.  And if you live as you should do, the Spirit of the Lord will suggest these to you when you enter into the house.  You can very properly enquire concerning the habits of the young people, and perhaps by doing so you may stop some soul from committing some more deadly sin, and be the means of rescuing some young person, either girl or boy, from pursuing the downward path that leads to destruction.  Teachers, therefore, should be exceedingly careful, when they enter the houses of the Saints, to endeavor to obtain the spirit of revelation, that the Lord will suggest to them the very things to ask and to say.”  (George Q. Cannon, remarks at Priesthood session of Sanpete Stake Conference, 19 May, 1889; DW 39(1):18-19, 29 Jun., 1889)

Jun.:  Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

“The study of the subject of the Holy or Melchisedec Priesthood, including the Aaronic, is one of vast importance to the human family.  The student of the true science of theology will readily comprehend the necessity of its existence among men, for the reason that true theology, or the Church of Jesus Christ, cannot exist without it.  It lies at the foundation of the church, it is the authority by which the church is established or organized, built up and governed, and by which the Gospel is preached, and all the ordinances thereof designed for the salvation of mankind are administered or solemnized.  No ordinance of the Gospel can be performed acceptably to God or with efficacy to man except by its authority and power, and certainly there is no ordinance or rite instituted by the Almighty in the great plan of redemption which is not essential to the salvation or exaltation of his children.  Therefore, where the Melchiseded or Holy Priesthood does not exist, there can be no true Church of Christ in its fulness.  When this Priesthood is not found among mankind they are destitute of the power of God, and therefore of the true science of theology, or the church and religion of Jesus Christ who is the great High Priest and Apostle of our salvation.  While the Prophet Joseph Smith was engaged in translating the Book of Mormon, in 1829, he and Oliver Cowdery became animated over the truths and glorious promises unfolded to them in their work, and desired to reach after these blessings before their work was done, but the Lord gently admonished them not to be in a hurry; he said: ‘You must wait yet a little while, for ye are not yet ordained,’ but the promise was given that they should be ordained thereafter, and they should go forth and deliver the word of God unto the children of men, and he pronounced a woe upon the inhabitants of the earth if they would not then hearken unto their words.

The ordinary meaning of the word Priesthood, as generally understood and applied in the world, signifies a class or body of men set apart for sacred duties, or holding the priestly office, or an order of persons composed of priests spoken of or taken collectively.  This is not, however, the sense in which the words, Melchisedec or Holy Priesthood, are used here.  Reference is made in this article to the sacred office itself, or the principle of power which constitutes the office, and is the authority by which individuals or the several orders, or quorums, as we used the term, composing the Priesthood of the church, may legitimately act in the name of the Lord; or the moving, directing, controlling, governing or presiding agency, right and authority which is vested in the Godhead and delegated unto man for the purposes of his instruction, initiation into the church, spiritual and temporal guidance, government and exaltation.  That is the Melchisedec Priesthood, which is without father, without mother, or descent, or beginning of days, or end of life, which the great High Priest, Melchisedec, so honored and magnified in his time that it was called after his name, in honor to him and to avoid the too frequent repetition of the name of the Son of God.

This distinction between the quorums of the Priesthood and the Priesthood itself should always be kept in mind in the use of the term Melchisedec or Holy Priesthood.  The Holy Priesthood after the order of the Son of God was the original name given to this Priesthood.  Subsequently it was called the Melchisedec Priesthood.  This Priesthood was confirmed upon Adam, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Melchisedec, Abraham, Moses and many others, and doubtless upon many of the Prophets prior to the birth of Christ, and by Jesus himself, the great High Priest, upon his disciples among the Jews, before his crucifixion, and upon the Nephite disciples upon this continent, after his resurrection and ascension on high.  These he made his apostles, to bear witness of him upon both hemispheres and to all the world; and doubtless the Savior conferred this Priesthood upon other disciples whom He chose from among the ‘other sheep’ of whom He spoke to the Nephites, which were not of the folds of the Jews or of the Nephites, whose records are yet to come forth to bear witness of Him, in the due time of the Lord.

We learn from the revelations that God took Moses, and the Holy Priesthood also, out of the midst of the children of Israel.  But the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood, which was confirmed upon Aaron and his seed, continued among them till the coming of Christ in the meridian of time.  John, the son of Zacharias, was probably the last who held the keys of this Priesthood among the Jews.  He was raised up and sent as the forerunner of Christ to prepare the way for his first coming.  And he was also sent to the world in this dispensation to begin the work of preparation for Christ’s second advent.

There are in the church two Priesthoods, namely, the Melchisedec and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood.  Why the first is called the Melchisedec Priesthood is because Melchisedec was such a great High Priest.  Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the order of the Son of God.

The Melchisedec Priesthood holds the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church, of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, of communion with the General Assembly and Church of the first born, and the presence of God, the Father, and Jesus, the Mediator.

The Aaronic Priesthood is an appendage to the first, and holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and the outward ordinances and letter of the Gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

The Melchisedec Priesthood, which Christ restored to the earth, remained among men between three and four hundred years afterwards.  When in consequence of transgressions, apostacy from the true order of the Priesthood and Church of Christ, the innovations of priestcraft and paganism, the true order of God was lost, the Holy Priesthood was taken from the earth, and the Church of Christ ceased to be among men so far as we have any knowledge by revelation or from the history and records of the past.

Then were fulfilled many predictions of the Prophets and Apostles, contained in the word of God.  Among them the word of God spoken by John in the 12th chapter of Revelation, and the prophecy of Amos:

Behold the day cometh, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord and shall not find it.

The proclamation of the word of the Lord is, and always has been, dependent upon the authority of the Holy Priesthood.

How could they hear without a preacher, and how shall they preach except they be sent?

The gentiles among whom the Priesthood had been established, and the Gospel preached, fell away also after the example of unbelief and the manner of the Jews, or children of Israel.  God who spared not the natural branches also cut off the engrafted ones, and ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth,’ was set up as foretold by the Prophet Daniel and the Apostle John.  This power made war with the Saints, and overcame them, changed times and laws, ‘wore out the Saints of the Most High,’ was drunken with their blood and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, and destroyed the hioly people.  But this mystical power, in turn, is to be overcome and, in the due time of the Lord, utterly destroyed.

Before this great event shall occur must come to pass the restoration of the Gospel of Christ, and the establishment of the kingdom of God again on the earth, with all the powers and blessings of the Holy Priesthood, concerning which we have the most positive assurances.  The declarations of the sacred writers of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, not only affirm the restoration of all things spoken of by holy prophets relative to this great event, but also that this kingdom shall no more be thrown down, or left to another people, nor cease until the whole earth shall be filled with the brightness of its glory, with its truths, its power, might, majesty and dominion, and that the kingdom and the greatness thereof under the whole heaven will be given unto the Saints of the Most High God, and they shall possess it for ever.  The declaration of this truth is even now very galling to the unbelieving world, and to those who reject the truth, nevertheless the Saints will inherit the blessings, and the word of God will come to pass, however much the wicked object to it, or whether we as the beginners in this great cause endure faithful to the end and realize the promise, or not.  This great and glorious redemption will be consummated through the power and agencies of the Holy or Melchisedec Priesthood, by means of which, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God has ever dealt, and will always deal, with the children of men: for this Priesthood ‘administereth the Gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom even the key of the kingdom of God; therefore in the ordinances thereof the power of godliness is manifest; and without the ordinances thereof and the authority of the Priesthood, the power of God is not manifest to men in the flesh; for without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

‘The lesser Priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; which gospel is the gospel of repentance, and the remission of sins,’ which ‘continued with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb,’ he, John, ‘was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord in whose hand is given all power.’

It was the same John who appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, and conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood with all its keys and power.  The ordination was in the following words:

Upon you my fellow servants in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels and of the gospel of repentance and baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.

There is nothing said here about the offices of the Priesthood.  They were an after consideration.  I will remark here that the Priesthood is greater than the offices which grow out of it, and are mere appendages to it–‘all other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this Priesthood’–meaning the Melchisedec Priesthood.  ‘But there are two divisions or grand heads, (not three nor many); one is the Melchisedec Priesthood, and the other is the Aaronic, or Levitical Priesthood.’  The offices in the Priesthood are necessary appendages thereof–for the purposes of order and government, and the duties of these several offices are defined in the revelations and laws and commandments of God.

This most sacred and important event, above quoted, occurred at or near a place called Harmony in Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania, while Joseph Smith was living there, engaged in the translation of the Book of Mormon, and Oliver Cowdery was writing for him.  We have not, unfortunately, any account so definite, of the reception by Joseph and Oliver, of the Melchisedec Priesthood as we have of the confirmation of the Aaronic Priesthood.  But we have positive information and knowledge that they did receive this Priewsthood at the hands of Peter, James and John, to whom the keys and power thereof were committed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and who were commissioned to restore it to the earth in the dispensation of the fulness of times.  We cannot fix the exact date when this Priesthood was restored, but it occurred sometime between the 15th of May, 1829, and the 6th of April, 1830.  We can approximate to within a few months of the exact time, but no further, from any of the records of the Church.  Joseph, the Prophet, designates the place where their ordination took place, in his address to the Saints, written September 6, 1842, as follows:

Again what do we hear? . . . the voice of Peter, James and John, in the wilderness, between Harmony, Susquehanna County, and Colvesville, Broome County, on the Susquehanna River, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the Kingdom and of the dispensation of the fulness of times.

And in a revelatino given September, 1830, referring to Joseph and Oliver, the Lord said in reference to partaking again of the Sacrament on the earth, that

the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, . . . and also with Elias, . . . and also with John, the son of Zacharias, . . . which John I have sent unto you my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery to ordain you unto this first Priesthood  which you have received, that you might be called and ordained even as Aaron: and also with Elijah, . . . and also with Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, your fathers, by whom the promises remain, and also with Michael, or Adam the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days.  And also with Peter, and James and John whom I have sent unto you by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles and especial witnesses of my name and bear the keys of your ministry, and of the same things which I revealed unto them: unto whom I have committed the keys of my Kingdom and a dispensation of the Gospel for the last times, and for the fulness of times in which I will gather together in one all things both which are in heaven and which are on earth.

In a revelation given April, 1830, verses 2 and 3 say:

Which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was called of God and ordained an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the first Elder of this Church; and to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the second Elder, and ordained under his hands.

After the Melchisedec Priesthood was conferred upon Joseph and Oliver, by the ancient apostles, they were commanded to ordain each the other, as we see by the above quotation, and the 10th and 11th verses of section 21, Doctrine and Covenants.

It would appear from the instructions given in the revelation, dated June, 1829, that the apostleship had been then conferred on Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer.  If this supposition is correct, it reduces the period of uncertainty when this glorious event actually took place to a few weeks, or from the middle of May to the end of June.  It is also asserted that David Whitmer supposed the event to have taken place about this time.  It is evident, however, that David received the Apostleship under the hands of Joseph and Oliver, and was not present when they received it under the ministration of the ancient apostles.

In the first edition of the Compendium, under the heading of ‘Chronology of the most important events which have transpired in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from A.D. 1820 to 1856,’ we find the following brief statement:  ‘June 6, 1831, the Melchisedec Priesthood was first given.’  This detached sentence conveys the idea that the Melchisedec Priesthood was not given until fourteen months after the church was established.  Many have been misled and others greatly puzzled over this statement, knowing that ‘Elders were ordained’ on the Sixth day of April, 1830, a year and two months before, and that ‘the office of an Elder comes under the Priesthood of Melchisedec.’

It is a pity that greater attention is not paid to matters of history, for then such mistakes would not occur.  Several errors of this character have crept into history through neglect or want of proper attention to the subjects.  The passage of history from which this brief and misleading extract was taken reads as follows:

On the sixth of June, (1831) the Elders from the various parts of the country where they were laboring, came in; and the conference before appointed, convened in Kirtland; and the Lord displayed His power in a manner that could not be mistaken.  The man of sin was revealed, and teh authority of the Melchisedec Priesthood was manifested, and conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders.

Now if this does not mean that on this occasion several Elders received their first ordination, then it must mean that these several Elders who had previously been ordained, then, for the first time, received the power or authority of their ordinations.  The words ‘conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders,’ would seem at first glance to man that several were then ordained Elders, but taking the complete sentence together, namely, ‘The man of sin was revelaed, and the authority of the Melchisedec Priesthood was manifested, and conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders,’ we naturally conclude that several who had previously been ordained Elders, had not yet received the spirit or power, or authority of their ordinations, but that now for the first time, the authority of the Priesthood having been manifested, it fell upon them.  It is evident from the context that the word authority as used in this quotation means power.  It reads as follows: ‘It was clearly evident that the Lord gave us power in proportion to the work to be done, and strength according to the race before us, and grace and help as our needs required.’  That several persons were ordained on that occasion is directly stated, as follows:  ‘Great harmony prevailed; several were ordained; faith was strengthened; and humility, so necessary for the blessing of God to follow prayer, characterized the Saints.’  One thing is perfectly clear, and that is, no reference whatever is here made to the restoration of the Melchisedec Priesthood by Peter, James and John, which great event occurred, without doubt, between May and July, 1829.  However, until about the time this conference was held, the term Melchisedec Priesthood was seldom or never used.  The High Priesthood, or the Holy Priesthood, were the terms generally applied until then.

Thus this glorious Priesthood, which ‘is after the holiest order of God,’ has been restored to man in its plenitude and power in the present age for the ‘last times,’ and no part of it will be ‘taken from the earth again until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness,’ or ‘until God shall gather together in one all things both which are in heaven and which are on earth.’  In conclusion I will call the attention of the readers of this to sections 5, 13, 27, 84, 107, 110 and 128 of the Doctrine and Covenants for further reflection on the subject.”  (Joseph F. Smith, “Restoration of the Melchisedec Priesthood,” Contributor 10(8):307-310, Jun., 1889)

2 Jun.:  The Keys of the Kingdom.

“Before the close of this conference there is a subject upon which I wish to bear my testimony.  There were perhaps very few people here yesterday who are in this assembly today, when Brother Thatcher delivered a lecture upon the life of President Brigham Young.  He referred to a saying of President Young which I, being a witness of, feel it a duty to allude to.  I am the first person unto whom he made the remark, and the only one living in the flesh who was with him and Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God, when he gave to the Twelve Apostles their charge concerning the Priesthood and the keys of the kingdom of God; and as I myself shall soon pass away like other men, I want to leave my testimony to these Latter-day Saints.

I was sitting with Brigham Young in the depot in the city of Boston at the time when the two prophets were martyred.  Of course, we had to telegraphs and no fast reports as we have today to give communication over the land.  During that period Brother Young was waiting for a train of cars to go to Peterborough.  Whilst sitting there we were overshadowed by a cloud of darkness and gloom as great as I ever witnessed in my life under almost any circumstances in which we were placed.  Neither of us knew or understood the cause until after the report of the death of the prophets was manifested to us.  Brother Brigham left; I remained in Boston, and next day took passage for Fox Islands, a place I had visited some years before, and baptized numbers of people and organized branches upon both islands.  My father-in-law, Ezra Carter, carried me on a wagon from Scarborough to Portland.  I there engaged passage on board of a steamer.  I had put my trunk on board and was just bidding my father-in-law farewell, when a man came out of a shop–a shoemaker–holding a newspaper in his hand.  He said, ‘Father Carter, Joseph and Hyrum Smith have been martyred–they have been murdered in Carthage jail.’

As soon as I looked at the paper, the Spirit said to me that it was true.  I had no time for consultation, the steamer’s bell was ringing, so I stepped on board and took my trunk back to land.  As I drew it off, the plank was drawn in.  I told Father Carter to drive me back to Scarborough.  I there took the car for Boston, and arrived at that place on the Saturday night.

On my arrival there I received a letter which had been sent from Nauvoo, giving us an account of the killing of the prophets.  I was the only man in Boston of the quorum of the Twelve.

I had very strange feelings, as, I have no doubt, all the Saints had.  I attended a meeting on the following day in Boydston’s Hall, where a vast number of the inhabitants of Boston and some three hundred Latter-day Saints had assembled.  Hundreds of men came to that meeting to see what the ‘Mormons’ were going to do now that their prophets were dead.  I felt braced up; every nerve, bone, and sinew within me seemed as tho made of steel.  I did not shed a tear.  I went into that hall, though I knew not what I was going to say to that vast audience.  I opened the Bible promiscuously and opened to the words of St. John where he saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and heard them cry, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?’  The Lord informed them that they must wait a little season, until their brethren were slain as they were.  I spoke on those words.

Next day I met Brigham Young in the streets of Boston, he having just returned, opposite to Sister Voce’s house.  We reached out our hands, but neither of us was able to speak a word.  We walked into Sister Voce’s house.  We each took a seat and veiled our faces.  We were overwhelmed with grief and our faces were soon bathed in a flood of tears.  I felt than that I could talk, though I could not do so before–that is, to Brother Brigham.  After we had done weeping we began to converse together concerning the death of the prophets.  In the course of the conversation, he smote his hand upon his thigh and said, ‘Thank God, the keys of the kingdom are here.’

All that President Young or myself or any member of the Quorum need have done in the matter was to have referred to the last instructions at the last meeting we had with the Prophet Joseph before starting on our mission.  I have alluded to that meeting many times in my life.

The Prophet Joseph, I am now satisfied, had a thorough presentiment that that was the last meeting we would hold together here in the flesh.  We had had our endowments; we had had all the blessings sealed upon our heads that were ever given to the apostles or prophets on the face of the earth.  On that occasion the Prophet Joseph rose up and said to us: 

‘Brethren, I have desired to live to see this temple built.  I shall never live to see it, but you will.  I have sealed upon your heads all the keys of the kingdom of God.  I have sealed upon you every key, power, principle that the God of heaven has revealed to me.  Now, no matter where I may go or what I may do, the kingdom rests upon you.’

Now, don’t you wonder why we, as apostles, could not have understood that the prophet of God was going to be taken away from us?  But we did not understand it.  The apostles in the days of Jesus Christ could not understand what the Saviour meant when He told them, ‘I am going away; if I do not go away the Comforter will not come!’  Neither did we understand what Joseph meant.  ‘But,’ he said, after having done this, ‘ye apostles of the Lamb of God, my brethren, upon your shoulders this kingdom rests; now you have got to round up your shoulders and bear off the kingdom.’  And he also made this very strange remark, ‘If you do not do it, you will be damned.’

I am the last man living who heard that declaration.  He told the truth, too; for would not any of the men who have held the keys of the kingdom of God or an apostleship in this Church have been under condemnation, and would not the wrath of God have rested upon them if they had deserted these principles or denied and turned from them and undertaken to serve themselves instead of the work of the Lord which was committed to their hands?

When the Lord gave the keys of the kingdom of God, the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, of the apostleship, and sealed them upon the head of Joseph Smith, He sealed them upon his head to stay here uopn the earth until the coming of the Son of Man.  Well might Brigham Young say ‘The keys of the kingdom of God are here.’  They were with him to the day of his death.  They then rested upon the head of another man–President John Taylor.  He held those keys to the hour of his death.  They then fell by turn, or in the providence of God, upon Wilford Woodruff.

I say to the Latter-day Saints, the keys of the kingdom of God are here, and they are going to stay here, too, until the coming of the Son of Man.  Let all Israel understand that.  They may not rest upon my head but a short time, but they will then rest on the head of another apostle, and another after him, and so continue until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds of heaven to ‘reward every man according to the deeds done in the body.'”  (Wilford Woodruff, “The Keys of the Kingdom–The Martyrdom of the Prophet and Patriarch–The Prophet’s Last Instructions to the Quorum of Apostles.  Remarks Made at Young Men’s Improvement Conference, Sunday, June 2, 1889,” Contributor 10(10):380-382, Aug., 1889)

6 Jun.:  Alternate High Councilors.

“Apostles F D Richards reported the labors of himself & Bro H J. Grant while attending the Utah Stake Conference June 1st 2 & 3rd/89 and gave the names of the High Council as reorganized as follows.

[names 12 High Councilors]


     Abraham Halladay.

     Samuel Liddiard

     Jacob F. Gates

     Jos. B. Keeler

     Josiah W. Cluff

     James W. Bean”

(L. John Nuttall diary, 6 Jun., 1889)

9 Jun.:  Dead Elder had been promised otherwise.

“I dedicated the grave after some singing, and the large company dispersed.–The parents of Elder [Alma] R[ichards]. are quite aged, and his mother is an invalid.  He is the only son, there being in the family two sisters.  His father has murmured some little that his only son should be sent on a mission, and has been in constant fear of his death, though he clung tenaciously to the hope that his son was still alive because of a blessing he had received in which it was said that he should return home and fill another mission.  He has returned and another mission has been assigned him.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 9 Jun., 1889)

26 Jun.:  Disfellowshipment from 70’s quorum.

“At 1 p.m. I attended my Council meeting where I assisted with the business.  Bros. W. W. Willey and John Woolley of the 70th Quorum were told to cite negligent and sinful members to appear before the quorum and show cause why they should not be disfellowshipped, and if they did not repent they should be dropped.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 26 Jun., 1889)

12 Jul.:  The Priesthood will rule over us forever.

“I see difficulty before this people if they do not acknowledge the Lord and His Priesthood.  We must not be divided or we will be chastized.  We have a class of men among us who are laboring for our overthrow and distinction [sic].  We need to counsel with one another and take counsel from the Lord.  The Priesthood will rule over us forever, for it is the rule & government of God and will continue through all eternity.”  (Wilford Woodruff, in L. John Nuttall diary, 12 Jul., 1889)

2 Sep.:  Salt Lake Stake priesthood #s.

“Counselor Charles W. Penrose read the half yearly statistical report of the Salt Lake Stake, showing 8 Apostles, 14 Patriarchs, 1250 Seventies, 391 High Priests, 2027 Elders, 418 Priests, 382 Teachers, 1290 Deacons, 14,783 members–a total of 20,563 officers and members; children under eight years of age 6710; grand total, 27,273; number of families, 4721; baptisms, 297; excommunications, 7; individuals drawing support, 916.”  (Salt Lake Stake Conference minutes, 2 Sep., 1889; DW 39(11):337, 7 Sep., 1889)

2 Sep.:  Only 1 ward in SL Stake had full priests quorum.

“Brother [Angus M.]Cannon then referred to the progress in organization made in the past few years.  As yet there was but one ward–Draper–[out of 43 Wards in the Stake] that had a full quorum of Priests.”  (Salt Lake Stake Conference minutes, 2 Sep., 1889; DW 39(11):337, 7 Sep., 1889)

2 Oct.:  Lifting of ban on forming new 70’s quorums.

“Two weeks later Abraham attended what would turn out to be his last meeting as one of the First Seven Presidents.  The principle matter to be considered was the lifting of the March 21, 1888 ban on forming new quorums or ordaining additional seventies.  The Council was given permission by the Twelve to fill up quorums already organized.  (xi:122)”  (William C. Seifrit, “Introduction to Abraham H. Cannon Journal Index”) 

“I was busy at the office till 1 p.m. reading copy, working on the books, etc.  I then attended my Council meeting and assisted the brethren with the business.  We received word from the First Presidency today granting us permission to fill up the already organized quorums of Seventies after consulting with the Stake Presidents and Elder’s Quorum Presidents in regard to our selections.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 2 Oct., 1889)

5 Oct.:  Revelation to the whole Church.

“Returned to the Priesthood meeting at 7:30 and listened to good discours from Father [Geo. Q. Cannon] and Pres. Woodruff.  The former told the brethren how revelation from God to the Church would be imparted–through Pres. Woodruff or his successor.  If any apostle or other person should receive a revelation concerning new doctrine he had no right to preach or teach it until it had been submitted to and passed upon by the First Presidency or Twelve.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 5 Oct., 1889)

6 Oct.:  Calling of new Apostles.

“At 9 a.m. I went to the Gardo House where myself and Bro. Anthon H. Lund of Ephraim, Sanpete Co., were summoned into the presence of the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles.  Pres. Woodruff then stated that Bro. Marriner W. Merrill and ourselves had been selected to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve.  Our selection occurred in this way:  The apostles were asked to make suggestions to the Presidency in regard to this matter.  Lists were prepared and submitted and among the names were ours.  The subject was made a matter of prayer and the result was that we were unanimously chosen.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 6 Apr., 1889)   

“Prest Woodruff announced that the three vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles would be filled.  The Apostles had selected and submitted a list of names to the First Presidency who had made the matter a subject of fervent prayer, and the Lord had manifested to him that the three brethren whose names would be presented to the Conference were accepted of Him.”  (L. John Nuttall diary, 6 Oct., 1889) 

7 Oct.:  Abraham Cannon set apart as Apostle.   

“At 3 p.m. I attended a meeting of the Twelve at the Gardo House where Bros. Merrill, Lund and myself were set apart as Apostles in the order named.  Pres. Woodruff set apart the first, Father the second, and Bro. Joseph F. myself.  Our charge was first given us by Father at Pres. W’s instance.  The importance of our callings was portrayed, and our privileges were named.  Among these were the privileges of having the ministration of angels, and of seeing the Savior Himself; or hearing the voice of God as audibly as we hear a man’s voice; of continually being under the direction of the Holy Ghost; of being prophets and revelators; and of many other things of which I have a verbatim copy, as also of my blessing and ordination, in which I was promised everything my heart desired in righteousness if faithful.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 7 Oct., 1889)  

6 Oct.:  Mina Cannon’s feelings about Abraham’s calling.

“I took supper at Aunt Amanda Cannon’s where Mina was.  She felt quite bad about my appointment because she said she knew it would separate us, for in her opinion the Twelve never cared for their families but merely for the welfare of the Church.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 6 Oct., 1889)

7 Oct.:  Privileges of the Apostleship.

“At 3 p.m. I attended a meeting of the Twelve at the Gardo House where Bros. Merrill, Lund and myself were set apart tas Apostles in the order named.  Pres. Woodruff set apart the first, Father the second and Bro. Joseph F. myself.  Our charge was first given us by Father at Pres. W.’s instance.  The importance of our callings was portrayed, and our privileges were named.  Among these were the privileges of having the ministration of angels, and of seeing the Savior Himself; of hearing the voice of God as audibly as we hear a man’s voice; of continually being under the direction of the Holy Ghost; of being prophets and revelators; and of many other things of which I have a verbatim copy, and also of my blessing and ordination, in which I was promised everything my heart desired in righteousness if faithful.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 7 Oct., 1889)

10 Oct.:  Who should administer operating expenses?

“Between 9 and 10 a.m. was looking after work in the office.  At the latter time I went to a Council meeting of my Quorum in the Gardo House.  Bros. Thatcher, Teasdale and Merrill were the only members absent.  Pres. Woodruff desired the opinion of each member present as to whether we were suited with the present arrangement in regard to finances, and as to whether or not he should have an office with clerks and books for the transaction of Church business.  The present arrangement, which was adopted some time since on recommendation of a committee of the Apostles, places all funds in the care of Bp. Wm. B. Preston and they are to be expended only on an order from President Woodruff.  Yet within the last month he had paid out several thousand dollars without any order.  Of course these amounts were perfectly legitimate, and yet they were paid irregularly.  The result of the present plan is that the Bishop has forbidden his agents to pay out anything except on a written order from his office, so that an Apostle in traveling through the country could not be allowed a feed of grain from tithing oats without an order from Bp. Preston.  On the other hand the Bishop expends money on repairs and alterations at his office, while anything done for Pres. W. would only be paid for on an order to Bp. Preston.  Each of the brethren gave expression to his views and they were unanimous in feeling that the funds should only be expended on order from Pres. W., and wherein the Bp. had done otherwise he should be reprimanded.  Opinion, however, was divided as to whether the funds should remain in Bp. Preston’s care or be in the charge of Pres. W. in his private office.  I felt that the latter would be proper, and Father’s view agreed with mine.  The First Presidency took the matter under advisement.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 10 Oct., 1889)

15 Oct.:  Excommunication notice.


To whom it may concern:

This certifies that on the fifteenth day of October, 1889, Elder John B. Milner, was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the HIgh Council of St. John’s Stake, for not complying with a decision of this High Council rendered June 8, 1888.

Samuel D. Moore,

Clerk of High Council.”

(DW 29(23):735, 30 Nov., 1889)

17 Oct.:  Prayer circle of 1st Pres. and 12.

“In went to the office for dinner and to look after the work, returning to the Gardo at 2 p.m. to our Council meeting.  Pres. W., Father, H. J. Grant, John W. Taylor and myself dressed in our robes, and President Woodruff prayed to open and Father in the circle.  This is my first meeting with a prayer circle, and I felt the solemnity of the occasion.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 17 Oct., 1889)

18 Nov.:  Duties of Home Missionaries.

“The quarterly conference of the Bannock Stake convened in Rexburg First Ward on Sunday and Monday, Nov. 17 and 18.  President Thomas E. Ricks presiding. . . .

On Monday forenoon several of the leading brethren addressed the Conference.  Sixteen home missionaries were called and set apart to travel throughout the Stake from house to house during the winter, preaching the gospel without purse or scrip.”  (Deseret Evening News, 22 Nov., 1889; in JH 18 Nov., 1889)

26 Nov.:  How to select a bishop.

[Meadow, Utah]  “At 10.15 a priesthood meeting was held in the Relief Society Hall at which 48 of the Ward brethren were present.  Bro. [Francis M.] Lyman asked the brethren to carefully think of those whom they thought would make good Bishops and suggest from six to a dozen men, and we would then nominate from among these or some others the person whom we thought capable of presiding.  They were told, however, to suggest only such brethren as were hospitable, kind, sober and loving, and who could be a father to the Ward.  Bro. Jesse Hopkinson was suggested and received 24 votes; C. F. Christensen received 15, and Bro. Gardner 2 votes.  Seven of those present did not vote at all.  George Crane was suggested but he withdrew his name, which was quite proper as he is an alternate High Councillor and we could not in any event have made him Bishop without first getting Pres. Woodruff’s permission.  Bro. Hopkinson was then placed in nomination as Bishop and received a unanimous vote.  He chose as his counselors Bros. Christensen and Gardner who were also unanimously sustained.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 26 Nov., 1889)

26 Nov.:  Restoration of blessings by vote of congregation

[Meadow, Utah]  “The people voted that B. H. Watts, who was out of the Church for some time but has been rebaptized, should have his Priesthood and former blessings conferred upon him, and that his son Charles should be ordained an Elder.  Bro. Lyman then set apart Bros. Hopkinson and Gardner, and gave to Bro. Watts his former blessings.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 26 Nov., 1889)

27 Nov.:  Bishop’s counselor cannot try cases.

[Fillmore, Utah]  “Bro. [Francis M.] Lyman explained that a Bishop’s Counselor cannot try cases in the absence of his leader, but when a Bishop is absent and a case is pressing, the Pres. of the Stake with the consent of the people can then appoint any other ordained Bishop to sit and try the case.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 27 Nov., 1889)

27 Nov.:  Public confession; rebaptism w/o excommunication

“A son of Bro. Aldridge and daughter of Sam’l. Western have committed fornication.  Both were unmarried and had not been through the Temple.  In her efforts to conceal her shame the girl laced so tightly as to deform her offspring that it died several days after birth.  The couple have since married, and two Sundays ago the boy confessed his sin before the people and asked forgiveness.  Some of the people favored it, while others thought he should first be cut off and thereafter received into the Church.  As a result of the division the matter has been held in a abeyance.  Bro. Kelly was told that on asking forgiveness they should be permitted to receive re-baptism and not be cut off; but where persons thus sin who have received their endowments, they must be excommunicated.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 27 Nov., 1889)

30 Nov.:  Wards and Stakes in the Church.

The report lists the stakes and wards, with the names of presiding officers of each.  Of interest is the number of wards in each stake:

Bannock Stake:  19 wards

Bear Lake Stake:  26

Box Elder Stake:  13

Beaver Stake:  6

Cache Stake: 23

Cassia Stake: 6

Davis Stake: 7

Emery Stake: 12

Juab Stake: 6

Kanab Stake: 11

Maricopa Stake: 5

Millard Stake: 8

Malad Stake: 9

Morgan Stake: 9

Oneida Stake: 16

Panguitch Stake: 6

Parowan Stake: 7

Salt Lake Stake: 42

San Luis Stake: 6

Sanpete Stake: 17

San Juan Stake: 7

St. Joseph Stake: 8

Snowflake Stake: 8

Sevier Stake: 20

St. George Stake: 36

St. Johns Stake: 7

Summit Stake: 15

Tooele Stake: 8

Uintah Stake: 6

Utah Stake: 22

Wasatch Stake: 9

Weber Stake: 21

(Deseret Evening News, 30 Nov., 1889; in JH 30 Nov., 1889)

1 Dec.:  General instructions to Seventies Quorums.

Salt Lake City, Utah, December 1, 1889.

To the Presidents and Members of the Seventies:

“Dear Brethren.–It being impossible for us to visit all the quorums of Seventies as often as we would like to do, we take this opportunity of addressing you by letter, reminding you of a few items of importance pertaining to your calling in the Priesthood.

Those Seventies whose names have been dropped form the quorum records, because of failure to furnish the Bishop’s recommend, should under no circumstances be admitted to any quorum, without first having obtained permission from this Council.  An application to us of such delinquents, will be carefully considered, on representation of the facts.  It is not only the privilege but the duty of the presidents, to see that their quorums are kept in good working order.  Men who persist in dishonoring their Priesthood and will not repent should be removed form their positions.  Otherwise, the growth of this important organization will be retarded.  Great care, however, should be exercised to avoid injustice to anyone.  And a member should not be removed without first being visited by the quorum Teachers.  Habitual absence from quorum meetings, for a considerable length of time without some reasonable excuse, we consider a sufficient cause for removal from the quorum.  Drunkenness, dishonesty, and many other evils cannot be tolerated among the Seventies, if they desire, as a body, to enjoy the favor of the Lord, and the fellowship of their brethren.

In recommending brethren to use for missionary labor, we suggest that the names of such persons be sent whose physical condition is good, who are active and faithful at home, and who have the love of the work in their hearts; besides whose financial circumstances are such as will prevent their families becoming a burden to the Church or Ward in which they reside. [page 2] For only in rare instances is it now necessary for men in destitute circumstances to go abroad on missions.  We advise our brethren to avoid debt and every embarrassment that would prevent their going upon missions at any time their services may be required.  It is our duty at any moment to sustain and assist the Twelve Apostles in carrying the Gospel to the nations of the earth.

The following questions have been propounded, which have elicited the following answers:

1.–If a man is dropped from his quorum,, does it take his Priesthood from him? Ans. No.

2.– If a member is disfellowshiped from his quorum, to what authority should his case be reported?  Ans. The High Council of that Stake.

3.–Can his Priesthood be taken from him, and by what authority?  Ans. Yes, by the High Council.

4.–If his Priesthood is taken from him as a Seventy, can he fall back into the Elders’ Quorum?  Ans. No.  His Priesthood can only be taken from him by severing him from the Church.  This not only deprives him of all Priesthood and takes away his calling as a Seventy or Elder, but also deprives him of membership in the Church.  And should he ever have a desire to again join the Church, he would have to be baptized again for the remission of sins, with the consent of the President of the High Council which excommunicated him.

All Seventies are expected to pay their tithes and offerings, and to understand that the law of tithing is a standing law unto the Church of Christ forever.

Another question is asked:  What rule should be followed in the enrollment of presidents and members?  Ans. Their names should appear on the records in the order of their ordination.

[page 3] In selecting names from your quorum, to be submitted to the First Council of Seventies for missionaries, no consultation need be had with the Bishops of the Wards on this selection, as after they are corresponded with from this Council and they send their written answer, THAT answer should be endorsed by the Bishop of the Ward and the President of the Stake.

After they have replied to the correspondence from this Council stating their readiness and willingness to go, then, if they hear no more from us, they may be assured that their names have been sent to the Council of Apostles, and they will doubtless hear from the Apostles, or First Presidency of the Church, sooner or later.  But when excused, for either a longer or shorter time, a letter form this Council will so inform them.

Many of the quorums are delinquent in sending their payments to the Seventies’ General Fund.  Not over one-half of the quorums have paid up in the past, while some have paid nothing.  This is a very small requirement made upon each member, and where so small an amount of that requirement is paid, constantly leaves this Council in an embarrassed financial condition.  Whereas, if all responded readily to this call and paid this small due, we would have funds on hand all the time to meet current expenses.

All dues for the current year should be paid as early as Dec. 31st, 1889, so that we can close our accounts and begin anew with the new year.  We are not yet ready to forward you our Financial Report as there are so many delinquents in payment of this fund.  We trust that those quorums who have not in the past met this requirement, will as far as they are able, pay up all past dues by the end of this year.

Genealogical blanks which we furnished you, should be filled out as your quorum stands today, and forwarded to us immediately from all quorums who have not yet done so, and any changes made after forwarding said report should be furnished us immediately after such changes.

[page 4] In regard to ordaining Seventies and filling up depleted quorums: We have a letter form the First Presidency giving us permission to select form the Elders’ Quorums, good and responsible men, to be ordained into the Seventies’ Quorums, by and with the consent of the Presidency of the Stake and the Presidents of the Elders’ Quorums in the districts in which such selections are made.  There a large number of elderly Seventies in nearly all of the quorums who are not physically able to do active duty in the missionary field.  all such have the consent of the First Presidency of the Church to be recommended to the High Priests’ Quorum, and we have also their consent to choose men from the Elders’ Quorums to ordain and fill up any place made vacant by their transfer to the High Priests’ Quorum.  These will readily perceive that able bodied men are needed in all quorums of Seventies, and in order that this Council may be able to supply any demand made upon them for a large number of able bodied missionaries to spread the Gospel throughout the nations of the earth.

You Theological Classes should be organized at once in every district and division thereof, and put in through working order.

The name of your Corresponding Secretary, or the one you want your letters sent to, should be [f]orwarded to the General Secretary of this Council.

We trust that union will be a marked characteristic of all your actions and that each man will strive to learn his duty, and then do it.  And thus we will attain to those blessings which it is our privilege to enjoy in the great Latter-day Dispensation and perform our part in the marvelous work of the Lord.

Your Brethren and Fellow Laborers in the Gospel,







P.S. Address all communications to this Council to John M. Whitaker, General Secretary, No. 47 South, First West Street, Salt Lake City, Utah.”  (Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 8, Fd 12, Ltr to Seventies, 1 Dec 1889, Pgs 1-4)

5 Dec.:  Teachers to seek out delinquent tithepayers.

“If any members should fail to appear [for tithing settlement], a Teacher should visit them and ascertain the reason.  At the close of the settlement, the Bishop and Counselors should carefully examine the amount paid by each person, and if in their judgment there are members who have not paid a full Tithing, said members should be visited by the Teacher and an opportunity be given them to be heard, before the judgment of the Bishop and Council is entered on the Record as to the per cent of tithing paid by such person.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 5 Dec., 1889.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 3:182)

Dec.:  Excommunication.


To whom it may concern:

This certifies that Orson P. Snow was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by the High Council of Beaver Stake of Zion, February 6, 1889, for un-Christianlike conduct and immoral acts.

John R. Murdock, President.

W. G. Nowers, Clerk.

Beaver City, Utah, December, 1889.”

(DW 40(4):136, 18 Jan., 1890)