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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1894

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1894.” You can view other years here.

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1894:  4 Jan.:  What to do with aged 70’s.

[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12] “After dressing the matter of ordaining Seventies was considered.  The First Seven Presidents desire the privilege of removing aged and infirmed men, who do not desire to be ordained High Priests, into a Quorum by themselves, as they cannot be used for active service.  After some little talk about this matter it was voted that the aged brethren be not forced into positions which will not be congenial to them, and that no Seventies be ordained in the future, except in an emergency, unless the candidates have been or are going on missions.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 4 Jan., 1894)

16 Jan.:  What to do with aged 70’s.

“At 2:30 o’clock I went to my Quorum meeting in the Temple.  Present:  Lorenzo Snow, F. D. Richards, Francis M. Lyman, John H. Smith, Heber J. Grant and myself.  Also of the First Seven Presidents of the Seventies: S. B. Young, John Morgan, B. H. Roberts, Geo. Reynolds and Rulon S. Wells.  After singing John H. Smith offered prayer.  President Snow then explained to the brethren present the wishes of the Presidency in regard to the ordination of Seventies, and told them not to crowd aged men from their positions, but allow them to remain as they are unless the desire to change.  We were also told to only ordain to the offices of Seventy such as are worthy, and have proved themselves so by either going on missions, or by preparing themselves to respond to any such call.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 16 Jan., 1894)

1 Feb.:  Adam, Antediluvians, Hebrews were baptized.

“The gospel, like its Author, is unchangeable and everlasting; it is the same in time and eternity.  So, necessarily, are its laws and ordinances.  The gospel was preached to Adam, and he was baptized.  The results of baptism were then, as they have ever since been and are now, admission into the Church of Christ and the remission of sins.  Baptism was recognized as an ordinance in the service of the true God by the Antediluvians, the Hebrews, the Nephites, and by all who worshiped Him correctly, as much so before the advent of the Savior in the flesh as in these latter days.  Those who, in those earlier years, sincerely repented and were baptized by one having authority received the remission of their sins, equally with ourselves who accept that ordinance in this dispensation.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(3):78, 1 Feb., 1894)

15 Feb.:  Priesthood:  conferring vs. ordaining.

“We have been asked by several different persons whether in ordaining a brother, it is right to confer the Priesthood first and then ordain him to the particular office to which he is called, or to directly ordain him to that office in the Priesthood.  That is, in ordaining a man an Elder, should the one officiating say:  I confer upon you the Melchisedek Priesthood and ordain you an Elder, or, I ordain you an Elder in the Melchisedek Priesthood, or whatever the office conferred may be?

So far as we know, the Lord has revealed no particular form, or words to be used in the ceremony of ordination to the Priesthood, as He has done in the rite of baptism, neither has He given any direct instructions on the point presented by the enquirers.  Certain it is that both forms have been and are being used by those officiating, and it is equally certain that the Lord recognizes and honors those ordained in either way.  Consequently, we are of the opinion that both are acceptable to Him, and will be until it pleases Him to give the Church further light on the subject, either by direct revelation or by inspiring His servants of the First Presidency of the Church to direct exactly what shall be said.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(4):114, 15 Feb., 1894)

22 Feb.:  Reference to “Standing High Council.”

“[Geo. Q. Cannon speaking] The standing High Council, to which reference is made in the Doctrine and Covenants, referes to the men who were chosen when there was only one Stake of Zion, and is not applicable to the present time.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 22 Feb., 1894) 

1 Mar.:  Administering to non-members.

“We are asked:

Is it proper for an Elder, when requested, to anoint with oil the sick who do not belong to the Church?  An Elder from the Southern States mission says he was instructed not to do so, while one from Europe says he was instructed to do so when requested.

It is always lawful to do good.  We say this on the authority of the Savior of mankind.  If a person has faith to seek health through the ministrations of the Elders in the name of Jesus, even though he have not the greater faith to accept and obey the fullness of the everlasting gospel, he should not be deprived of the lesser blessing of bodily soundness by any lack of willingness on our part to magnify the name of God.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(5):144, 1 Mar., 1894)

1 Mar.:  Authority of Ward Teachers to investigate.

“A correspondent wishes to know if the Teachers in a ward have the authority to investigate a case wherein the official acts of a president of an Elders’ quorum are in question; and

Have Bishops’ Courts the authority to hear and render judgment upon the official acts of a president of an Elders’ quorum? 

Elders’ quorums are Stake organizations and directly under the control and direction of the Presidency of the Stake; consequently the official acts of a president of an Elders’ quorum should be considered, when investigation is necessary, by the Presidency and High Council of the Stake.  The ward Teachers, as such, have not the authority to investigate the official actions of the president or officers of any quorum of the Priesthood.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(5):145, 1 Mar., 1894)

15 Mar.:  Blessing of children.

“Inquiry is made of us:

In the blessing of children is it proper to bless them in the name of Jesus Christ, or in the name of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?  We answer:

All ordinances in the Church of Jesus Christ are performed in the name of Diety [sic], never of man, and with few exceptions in the name of the Savior only.  If it were not so the Church would be man’s Church not God’s Church.  In the blessing of male infants, it is not inconsistent to pronounce upon them the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, when the Spirit so inspires; but that is an entirely different thing to blessing them in the name of those patriarchs instead of in the name of Jesus Christ.  That there may be no difference of opinion on this point the Lord has expressly revealed:

‘Every member of the Church of Christ having children, is to bring them unto the Elders before the Church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name.’–(Doc. & Cov., Sec. xx, 70.)”

(George Q. Cannon, JI 29(6):194-195, 15 Mar., 1894)

28 Mar.:  Nepotism among General Authorities.

“Heber J. Grant said it was revealed to him as he was traveling among the Moquis that he was called to be an apostle because his father according to the flesh, J. M. Grant, and the prophet Joseph, to whom he rightfully belonged, had requested it.  Seymour B. Young was made one of the First Seven Presidents of the Seventies because his father had requested it.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, 28 Mar., 1894)

9 Apr.:  Ordination to HP without prior priesthood office.

[Meeting of GA’s, Stake Pres. & Bishops] “A certain Bishop came to the Presidency at one time, and wanted to be ordained a deacon, teacher, priest, and elder because he had not held these offices before being made a Bishop.  He was told that the Melchisedek Priesthood which was conferred upon him when he was ordained a Bishop embraced all the lesser offices.  He was finally satisfied with this explanation, though he had been very unsettled before.  While it is advisable for men to be trained in the lesser offices, it is not necessary for them to receive these ordinations if they are called to labor in the more advanced positions.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 9 Apr., 1894)

9 Apr.:  Restrictions placed on High Councilors.

[Meeting of GA’s, Stake Pres. & Bishops] “F. M. Lyman:  ‘Because the Stake High Councillors are called upon to sustain the decision of the Stake President, some of them seem to think they are at liberty to criticise the decision rendered, and to call to account this presiding officer.  Apostles are authorized by the Presidency to regulate all the Stakes of Zion, but High Councillors do not possess this authority.  They are not even empowered to travel in the Stakes and regulate matters there, except as they are called to do so by the Stake Presidency.  When the Presidency of a Stake formulate a decision it must be sustained by the High Council of a Stake, in which case it becomes a High Council decision, and a President has no right to change it in an of himself.  Superior courts should always try to sustain the decisions of the lower courts unless there is something radically wrong with the decision already rendered.  Presidents of Stakes should always consult with their counselors in making up their decisions.  Where the majority of the High Councillors are opposed to the decision, a re-hearing must be had.  Thereafter, if not decided, the case should be sent to the Presidency of the Church.’  Question by Anthony Ivins:  ‘Should High Councils try property rights?’  Answer by Father:  ‘Where legal rights are involved it should be determined by the courts of the land, but equitable rights may be considered by the Church tribunals.’  In answer to another question it was said that where the two counselors to a Bishop disagree with him, it does not become a decision.  Uncle Angus Cannon referred to a ruling of Pres. Taylor to the effect that the decision of a Bishop was superior to the objections of both of his counselors.  Father said that the Question had not been submitted by Pres. Taylor to his counselors, or they would have opposed such a conclusion.  Pres. Woodruff upheld the view first mentioned.”  (Abraham H. Cannon diary, ca. 9 Apr., 1894)

9 Apr.:  Protocol for blessing people.

[Meeting of GA’s, Stake Pres. & Bishops] “In blessing people only the one who is mouth should speak aloud, and the others should not mumble his words, but should repeat them mentally.  P. P. Pratt says the first confirmations of the Church were performed mentally and not orally.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 9 Apr., 1894)

9 Apr.:  Rebaptism for emigrants no longer mandatory.

[Meeting of GA’s, Stake Pres. & Bishops] “It is improper and unnecessary for all Saints coming to Utah from abroad to be baptized.  This ordinance should not be made too common.  It should only be administered when the candidate is cut off from the Church or disfellowshipped.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 9 Apr., 1894)

9 Apr.:  Rebaptism no mandatory prior to endowments.

[Meeting of GA’s, Stake Pres. & Bishops] “It is not always necessary for those who go to the temple to be re-baptized.  Sometimes where people have not known the date of their first baptism, they have been re-baptizd so as to get the record complete.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 9 Apr., 1894)

9 Apr.:  2 Counselors cannot make decision w/o Bishop.

[Meeting of GA’s, Stake Pres. & Bishops] “A Bishop and one counselor can make a decision, but not two counselors alone.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 9 Apr., 1894)

9 Apr.:  Boys should be called early to the Priesthood.

[Meeting of GA’s, Stake Pres. & Bishops] “Pres. WOODRUFF: ‘I traveled thousands of miles as a priest and baptized people I had not the authority to confirm.  Boys should be called early to the Priesthood, so that they may become acquainted with its duties.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 9 Apr., 1894)

12 Apr.:  Circular concerning baptism.

[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12] “The circular concerning baptism was read and considered, but as there was some difference of opinion concerning the wording of it, the subject was laid aside for future consideration.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 12 Apr., 1894)

15 Apr.:  Guidelines for Ward Teachers’ Meetings.

“We are asked: ‘If a member of the Church is brought before a ward Teachers’ meeting to make acknowledgment for having done wrong, should a record be kept of the same?’

We answer, No; a meeting of the ward Teachers is not in any sense of the word a court or Church tribunal, nor can it properly try a case.  Neither, on the other hand, is it a meeting of a quorum of the Priesthood.  The ward Teachers are helps to the Bishop in the performance of his duties, and, as at present organized, are composed, not only of those belonging to the Teachers’ quorum, but others who, holding higher offices in the Priesthood, have the right and authority to perform the duty of a Teacher.  But that does not make the High Priests, Seventies and Elders so acting members of a Teachers’ quorum; any more than when such brethren perform the duties of a Deacon, does such action relegate them to the Deacons’ quorum.  We mention this point, as a confusion has apparently arisen in the minds of a few of the brethren, growing out of the identity of name and duties, and, as one result, it has been asked:

‘Should not a man who has been appointed by the Bishop of the ward to preside at the Teachers’ meetings have counselors ordained or set apart to assist him?’

The person so asking evidently holds the erroneous idea that the ward Teachers form a quorum of the Priesthood, to be presided over by three of their number.  We are of the opinion that, in the present state of the organization of the wards, the appointment of a president of the ward Teachers is undesirable.  There may possibly be a few wards where perhaps it is necessary, but as a general rule the duties performed by that officer can be better done by the Bishop himself than when delegated to another.  Indeed we have heard of one case in which a conflict of authority arose, the presiding Teacher having assumed the position that rightly belonged to the Bishop, and ignored the latter in dealing with the standing of members of the ward.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(8):241, 15 Apr., 1894)

May:  We used to consult the Priesthood before moving.

“There has been a disposition of late, which seems to be growing among some portions of the community, to move away from this Territory and other settled portions of these mountains where the Saints are located, to find new places for occupation.  The excuse has been used that the Stakes of Zion are becoming so crowded that it is necessary for those who desire to procure homes to move where the land is unoccupied.  It is because of this feeling that we made the inquiries of the Presidents of Stakes concerning the inducements offered to settlers in the places under their supervision.  A perusal of the replies received, and which are herewith printed, will convince the Latter-day Saints that the argument concerning the overcrowding of the Stakes of Zion has no foundation in fact.  On the contrary, it is clearly indicated that most of the Stakes need strengthening by an influx of population, instead of being weakened by the removal of any of the present residents.

A few years ago it was very unusual for Latter-day Saints to change their places of residence, or to uhunt out new locations with a view to settlement, except as they were counseled to do so by the Priesthood of the Church.  In those times when it was thought advisable to establish new settlements and form new Stakes, missionaries were frequently called to perform this labor, and they took with them their families and effects in the same spirit that the Elders go abroad to preach the Gospel.  Under such conditions the leading authorities of the Church kept advised of the movements of the people, and were able to counsel them in regard to their temporal affairs, and also to look after their spiritual necessities.  Thus Zion extended her borders and the people were blessed and prospered in their labors.  This same condition of things should exist at the present time.  If any of the members of the Church have found good locations, they should make it known to those who preside over them, and seek counsel of wise men as to the advisability of their making locations in such places.  Thus the brethren will have the general supervision of all matters which pertain to the building up of the Church and Kingdom of God here upon the earth.  Acting thus, the authorities would feel more inclined to aid settlements established under direct counsel in cases of distress or affliction, than they would do if advice concerning locations were not sought.  As it now is, appeals to the Presidency are not infrequent from people who have undertaken some enterprise without first seeking counsel, and having got into financial distress or other troubles, are then ready to turn their eyes to the Presidency of the Church for advice as to how to relieve themselves.  Even this is better than to avoid seeking counsel altogether, but it would be much better to make inquiries in the beginning of the undertaking.

Every young man in Zion should feel it a privilege to be accepted joyfully to seek counsel of men of God.  He should try to obtain the benefit of the wisdom of the brethren who bear the Priesthood, as well as to seek the inspiration of the Lord in all his labors, of whatever character they may be.  Indeed, the young men of Zion should never do anything but that which both the Lord and His servants will approve.  Any work that cannot bear the investigation of honorable men, or which its promoters desire to have conducted in the dark, should not engage the attention, under any circumstances, of the young men of this Church.  All may be assured that in the abundance of counsel there is safety, and the Lord desires the Saints to seek and follow the counsels of his Priesthood.”  (“Homes in Zion,” Contributor 15(7):421, May, 1894)

15 May:  Rights of the Aaronic Priesthood.

“The following questions have been propounded by an esteemed correspondent:

I.  Who has the authority to excommunicate members from the Aaronic Priesthood?  Does this come under the jurisdiction of the Bishopric or not?

II.  How far can members of the Aaronic Priesthood, who are transgressors, be handled by their respective quorums?

III.  Would it be right for a member of the Melchisedek Priesthood and one of the Aaronic Priesthood to take part in administering to the sick?

First:  The Bishopric has authority to excommunicate from the Church lay members, or those who have received only the Aaronic Priesthood.

Second:  The quorums of the Aaronic Priesthood can only deal with their members who are in transgression to the extent of withdrawing from such transgressors the fellowship of the quorum.  The quorums have no authority to deprive them of their membership in the Church.

Third:  Any member in the Church would be committing no sin to lay his or her hands upon the head of one who is sick, and bless or pray for the individual.  Members of the Aaronic Priesthood may act in this way under the direction of and in connection with the Melchisedek Priesthood when called upon to do so by those holding the Melchisedek Priesthood.

It is, however, perfectly proper and advisable for the sick to use oil for their afflictions, and God will sanctify the anointing to their good.  All the Saints should be careful, however, to not overstep the rights which belong to them as members of the Church, or members of the priesthood.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(10):318, 15 May, 1894)

15 May:  Baptisms by Elders and Seventies.

“There seems to have been a discussion among members of a Theological class in one of our Sunday schools concerning the right of an Elder of Seventy to baptize members into the Church.  There was some question as to whether a man holding this priesthood was authorized to exercise it in this direction unless he was set apart for a mission.  It is certainly the right of either Elders or Seventies to baptize and confirm members into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but they should not do so in any regularly organized branch or Ward of the Church without first consulting with and obtaining the permission of the presiding authorities in said branch or Ward.  There is order in the Church which every man should strictly observe.  This requires that Saints be amenable and labor under the direction of the general or local authorities.  Therefore, whatever rights a man may possess through receiving the priesthood, should be exercised only in consonance with the feelings and wishes of those in whose care the various portions of the vineyard are placed.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(10):318, 15 May, 1894) 

Jun.:  Form of ordinances prescribed in No. States Mission

“3. In baptizing, call the candidate by name, and use the following words:  ‘Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.’

4. In confirming, call the candidate by name, and use the following words:  ‘In the name of Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood conferred upon us, we lay our hands upon your head and confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and say unto you: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.  Amen.’

5. In ordaining, call the candidate by name and use the following words:  ‘In the name of Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood conferred upon us, we lay our hands upon your head, and ordain you to the office of an Elder after the order of Melchisedec,’ (or a priest after the order of Aaron, as the case may be).  Always specify the office in the Priesthood that you are bestowing.  Ordinations must be first authorized by the president of the conference on the action of a priesthood meeting, or the counsel of the president of the mission.”

(Charles W. Stayner, Mission President, “Rules of the Northern States Mission,” Contributor 15(8):480, Jun., 1894)

Jun.:  Washing of feet against non-believers unacceptable.

“10. Elders are not permitted to excommunicate without instructions from the president of the mission.  No cursings or ‘washings of feet’ against the wicked, are at present advisable, and none should appear in the reports.  Bless the people and pray for all, that they may repent of their sins and be forgiven by the Lord.”  (Charles W. Stayner, Mission President, “Rules of the Northern States Mission,” Contributor 15(8):481, Jun., 1894)

15 Jul.:  Spokesman in a church court.

“We are asked a question by one of the brethren to this effect:

If an aged man is brought up before the Bishop and his council to be tried, and he is a man that is not fully capable of explaining his own position, is there anything in the laws of the Church to prevent his having a man belonging to the Church act as his spokesman at the trial?

There is nothing in the laws of the Church against one of the brethren acting as spokesman for another in a case of this kind.  But, of course, there would have to be gret care taken in granting permission of this character, for the reason that there are so many would be lawyers who would like to get an opportunity to argue cases before the Bishops’ Courts, and make themselves disagreeable, and perhaps offensive.  But for one man to speak for another in the spirit of the Gospel and in a way to explain fully to the Bishop’s Court the position of the other man who is up for trial, there can be no objection to it–that is, if the accused is a man not fully capable of explaining his own case.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(14):450, 15 Jul., 1894)

1 Aug.:  Must baptism be done under explicit covenant?

“A friend makes the following inquiry:

‘Is it a requirement of the Church that new members presenting themselves for baptism must be placed under a covenant by the Elder or person officiating?  In some of our foreign missions the practice seems to be to thus place the candidates for baptism under a covenant at the water’s edge, while in other parts of the world, where our Elders are laboring, this custom has never been introduced.’

The practice generally has been to ask the candidates for baptism, before administering the ordinance to them, concerning their willingness to repent of their sins, to take upon themselves the name of Jesus, and to serve Him to the end of their lives.  This is in conformity with the 37th paragraph of the 20th Section of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(15):466, 1 Aug., 1894)

3 Aug.:  Reinstalled on a technicality.

“[High Council meeting] Thus by a trifling technicality, R. H. Jones, who is in every way unworthy, was re-instated in the church. . . . In an interview with the Presidency of the Stake some weeks ago, Pres. Geo. Q. Cannon stated that he was fully satisfied.  R. H. Jones was not entitled to a standing in the church, but that in the case alluded to above, the technicality must govern.”  (Rudger Clawson diary, 3 Aug., 1894)

Oct.:  Guidelines for confessions.

“Questions concerning the handling of sexual misconduct among the Saints periodically came before the Twelve.  In earlier times confession before the entire congregation had been the custom.  On this occasion the Twelve recommended a narrower, more focused forum:  ‘It was decided in answer to a question which was asked that where persons are guilty of sexual sin, they are to be made to confess before as few as are absolutely necessary in order to make the plaster fit the sore.’  (xix:156)”  (William C. Seifrit, “Introduction to Abraham H. Cannon Journal Index)

1 Nov.:  Irreverence for priesthood: symptom of apostacy.

“Following up my article of last number, the Latter-day Saints should be impressed with the importance of teaching their children to have reverence for and to treat as a sacred thing the Priesthood of the Son of God.  It is true that earthly vessels bear this sacred charge–men who are fallible, who are liable to weaknesses, and who have the infirmities common to humanity.  But they are entrusted with a divine power by the Lord Himself.  If they desecrate or in any manner make improper use of this power which is so sacred, so holy, and which is designed for man’s salvation, the Giver of the power will hold them responsible–He is their Judge.  But it is not for everyone to judge and condemn God’s servants.  It is against such a feeling that the warning is given.  ‘Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm.’

We have been taught from the beginning that one of the most dangerous symptoms of apostasy from the Church is speaking evil of the Lord’s servants; that whenever a spirit of this kind takes possession of one who is called a Latter-day Saint it is sure to grieve the Spirit of God; it invites darkness to enter the mind, and, unless it is sincerely repented of, it causes apostasy to follow.  For this reason, if for no other, our children should be taught from the time they are old enough to comprehend, that they are treading upon slippery ground whenever they venture to criticise, censure or condemn those whom the Lord has chosen to be His servants.  Many think it is part of their privilege in the exercise of free speech to do this, and that it is a sign of independence.  But there is none of the true liberty of free speech in it; it becomes license, and is offensive to the Lord.  We are all aware that the leading men of the Church have been compelled to live in seclusion for a number of years.  It is probably in consequence of this that there has grown up in many quarters a carelessness and indifference concerning the Priesthood and its authority–it may even be said a spirit of irreverence–which sometimes manifests itself in a way that produces painful feelings to men and women of experience in the Church.  Such a spirit is full of danger, and every tendency towards it should be promptly and effectively counteracted.  Respect for authority should be constantly taught.  Not that it is necessary to indulge in man-worship or any felling akin to that; there is a very great difference between proper respect for authority and the other extreme where men become sycophants and worshipers, or pretended worshipers, of their fellow men.  One frequently sees this latter feeling manifested towards men who are rich, or who stand in places where they can confer favors.  It is the mark of the courtier to flatter and cringe and tody to persons of rank and fortune, and no true Latter-day Saint will be guilty of such a thing.  But the Saints honor God; they honor the authority which He bestows; and in honoring that authority they honor those who bear it.  This is the spirit of true independence, and it does not take away the least particle from the true dignity of manhood and womanhood.  The Lord says:  ‘They that honor me I will honor; and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.'”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(21):668-669, 1 Nov., 1894)

8 Nov.:  Proposed Priesthood training school.

“[8 Nov.] I went to the Temple at 10 o’clock in answer to a call from Pres. Snow, and met with Pres. Snow, F. D. Richards, F. M. Lyman, J. H. Smith, and H. J. Grant.  The object of our meeting was to consider the advisability of having a class organized in the Provo Academy for the instruction of our young men in the duties of the Priesthood, as also the advisability of having our missionaries before leaving home attend a school of instruction in their duties before going abroad.  Three letters had been received on this subject–ne from john W. Young, another from Prof. Benj. Cluff, Jr., and the third from Bro. Miller of Nephi.  The latter, however, only tendered his services as an instructor in German, which he said he could do by correspondence.  We considered these matters for about two hours, and then adjourned to meet next Wednesday to again talk about them when most of the Quorum can be present.  The fear we have is that we will learn too much of methods, and too little of the workings of the Spirit of God. . . .

[14 Nov.–Meeting of the 12] The subject we considered was the letters concerning the education of our missionaries previous to sending them out to preach, as suggested in letters received from John W. Young, B. Cluff, Jr., and John T. Miller.  All of the brethren excepting myself made some remarks, with the result that we felt it proper for our young men to study the language of the people among whom they expect to labor previous to their starting out.  We also felt that the Professors of the B. Y. Academy are not competent to teach the youth their duties in the Priesthood, but need very much to get the spirit of the Gospel themselves, which some of the brethren say they do not now possess.  Indeed Bro. Cluff is said to have opposed some advice on the Word of Wisdom, which has been given by Bros. Lyman and Grant.  I have myself felt for some time that the B. Y. Academy was drifting away from the real spirit of the work of God, and the teachers pay too much attention to psychology, and too little to the truth as found in the scriptures.  The feeling is to call Bro. Cluff and his assistants to an account on these matters.  We do not see any way in which to pay money in large sums to rent a hall in London, as suggested by John W. Young, though we all felt it would be a good plan to have a missionary fund from which to obtain funds with which to pay for various tracts and other things which would help the work along.  It is felt that all we now desire done can be accomplished with the organizations now formed in the Priesthood, and that to go ahead and form new ones would be a detriment to the cause.  We decided to present our views to the Presidency tomorrow in five minute speeches by each of the brethren. . . .

[15 Nov.–Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12] At two o’clock I was at my Quorum meeting, where all of the Presidency were present, as well as L. Snow, F. D. Richards, B. Young, J. H. Smith, Geo. Teasdale, H. J. Grant and myself; Geo. F. Gibbs, clerk.  F. D. Richards opened with prayer, and Geo. Teasdale was mouth at the altar.  Thereafter each of the Twelve, beginning with myself, expressed his views concerning the letters which we considered in our Council meeting held yesterday.  We were united in the feeling that we cannot establish schools in which to prepare Elders for missionary labor, nor can we recommend the establishment of Priesthood classes in the Provo B. Y. Academy.  We do advise those young men who are called to foreign missions to study the language for a time before leaving.  We were requested to place our decision in writing, and I was appointed to assist Bro. F. D. Richards to prepare it.”  (A. H. Cannon diary, 8, 14, 15 Nov., 1894)

15 Nov.:  Approved form for ordinances.

“We have been asked, in substance, 

‘If, where the Lord has revealed the exact words to be used in the performance of an ordinance, the Elder or Priest officiating departs therefrom, either from ignorance, a slip of the tongue, or other cause, does such departure invalidate the ordinance?’

We answer, As a rule, certainly not; that is, when the spirit and meaning of the words given are not palpably departed from.  If awkwardness of expression would invalidate an ordinance administered by a man of God then inextricable confusion would be wrought in the Church.  No man’s standing would be safe; for possibly every one of us has received ordinances–baptisms, confirmations or ordinations–under the hands of men who have not strictly adhered to the given form.  Or, if no such mistake happened in our individual cases, who can say it did not previously occur in the confirmation or ordination of some one or more of those who have been mouth over our heads?  In eitehr case we should not receive the blessing or the authority that was supposedly conferred upon us.  Again, how many of our brethren perform ordinances in the Church in languages with which they are far from thoroughly familiar–Elders who have gathered to Zion from continental Europe and the islands of the sea, who do not understand English; missionaries to lands where other tongues are spoken, into many of which, indeed, the exact formula of these ordinances have never been translated.  Shall the Elders not administer until they are perfect in a tongue?  Will the Lord ignore their ministrations because they speak in faltering tones, in ungrammatical phrases or in confused rhetoric?  It were folly to so imagine.  It would place in many regions almost insurmountable barriers to the progress of the work of the Lord.  Our Heavenly Father is aware of our insufficiency; that we are finite, that we cannot reach everything at once, and accepts us as we are when we do our best.  But this best should be constantly improving, we should all the time be drawing nearer to the perfect, making fewer mistakes and more completely observing the requirements of the Lord.

None of the foregoing thoughts are intended to encourage slovenliness in the performance of any ordinance.  When we set out to do a thing we should make sure that we do it; and do it as it should be done.  If it be our intention to ordain a man to an office in the Priesthood, let us be sure that we ordain him, and always in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Let that holy and all-saving name never be forgotten.  It is a far more serious matter to omit the name of our Savior in the performance of the ordinances of His Church, than to insert sentences that do not appear in the form the Lord has given us, or to say, as is too often done, ‘I lay my hands upon your head to confirm or ordain you,’ and then only by indirection do it.

While it should be the aim of the Elders to conform strictly to the revealed word in the administration of ordinances, they should not permit themselves to become too technical, and to look so carefully at the word that the spirit is lost sight of.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(22):697-698, 15 Nov., 1894)

15 Nov.:  The priesthood of Alma.

“Our attention is called to the account given in chapter 18, of the Book of Mosiah, and found on page 201 of the Book of Mormon, of Alma preaching the Gospel to the people and inviting them to be baptized in the waters of Mormon, a fountain of pure water, which was in the place where he secretly taught the people.  We are asked, where did Alma get the authority to baptize?

In reply, we say there is nothing written that we now recall that states where he obtained this authority.  But that he did have authority to baptize is clearly shown by the words which he used in baptizing those who believed.  He said, ‘I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God,‘ etc.  The fact that he used these words also proves that he considered it necessary to have authority from God to baptize.  that he held the Priesthood is demonstrated by the 18th verse of this chapter, which states that Alma, ‘having authority from God, ordained priests.’

Alma was one of the priests of King Noah, and was a man evidently of good standing in that body, he being a descendant of the Prophet Nephi.

Concerning these priests it is said they were consecrated by King Noah in the stead of those who had been consecrated by his father Zeniff.  Undoubtedly the priests that his father had consecrated were men who held the priesthood, and Noah, in displacing them, most likely selected others who had also been ordained to the priesthood.  No doubt they were men who were disposed to look lightly upon the conduct of the king and to take the same views of life that he did; but we think that they had the true priesthood, though they abused their offices and became very wicked, sustaining the king in his unrighteousness and teaching the people false doctrine.

It does not appear plain from the record what priesthood the Nephites had.  Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh and was not of the line of Aaron or Levi.  Yet we are told that he offered sacrifices and burnt offerings unto the Lord.  It is reasonable, therefore to suppose that he had received the Melchisedek Priesthood; and there can be no doubt that Nephi held that priesthood also, and from him it was transmitted to his descendants.  Alma, being among them, doubtless received the priesthood in regular succession, and by that authority baptized the people in the waters of Mormon, afterwards organized the Church among the Nephites, and presided over the Church as high priest.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(22):698, 15 Nov., 1894)

20 Nov.:  Formal instruction of priesthood members.

“We have received a letter from B. Cluff, Jr., principal of the Brigham Young Academy at Provo making some suggestions in regard to increasing the efficiency of members of the different quorums of Priesthood, so that they might conduct meetings and be made more 

familiar with their duties, powers and responsibilities of their various offices.

A letter has also been received from Bro. John W. Young upon the same subject although written from a different standpoint in which he makes some analogous suggestions concerning increasing the efficiency and capabilities of the missionaries who go abroad to preach the Gospel.

These letters have received our careful consideration; and they have also been submitted to the general board of education.  There are many features in both letters that impress us favorably.  You will no doubt agree with us in saying, that any plan that can be adopted that will make our elders more capable and efficient as preachers of the Gospel at home and abroad, that will increase their usefulness and make them more enlightened in setting forth the truth, ought to be adopted by us.  It is known to all of us who have had experience in the missionary field that there are very many, in fact a great proportion of those who go out, who do not do justice to the message of which they are the bearers, and do not display that knowledge of the truth and of the character of the great work of the last days that one would naturally expect them to possess in view of their high calling and of the exalted origin of the Priesthood which they bear.

It is very desirable that something be done, if possible, to make a better impression upon the world through the medium of our elders.  The work of God is attracting wide-spread attention, and a different class of people manifest an interest in our doctrines than formerly.  The world is also progressing in matters of education.  There was a time when elders were taken from the plow, the anvil, the shoemaker’s shop and carpenter’s bench, or any other pursuit, and sent out as missionaries, and were very successful in reaching the people; in fact, some of the most successful of our missionaries have been men who could scarcely read or write.  But since those days a great change has taken place in America as well as in European lands.  Education has become very general, and in many countries compulsory.  There is no reason now why any one should be ignorant of book learning, and it seems necessary that our elders should keep pace in this respect with the rest of the world.  But you will perceive the danger there is of our people falling into the old ruts in which sectarians have been running for a long period of time, and adopting those spirit-killing systems which have prevailed in theological seminaries and other places where men in the sectarian world have been qualified for what they are pleased to call the ministry.

In considering these two letters which we herewith enclose, it will be necessary to guard against this evil in any plan which may be decided upon: so that in adopting a system that will afford our elders such a training as is herein indicated, it should be entirely free from any tendency likely to check the Spirit of the Lord or cause men to depend upon their own learning instead of the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

Trusting you will find time to give the enclosed communications your attention and to reach conclusions concerning the subject of which they treat, we remain with sentiments of esteem.”  (First Presidency to Quorum of the Twelve, 20 Oct., 1894.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 3:265-266)

Nov.:  Missionary instruction classes not approved.

“In November, 1894, Abraham and five other Apostles met with Lorenzo Snow to consider the wisdom of establishing classes at the Provo B. Y. Academy for instructing young men in the duties of missionaries prior to their departure.  These proposals had come from several different sources.  Abraham’s initial reaction apparently reflected the attitude of the others in the meeting:  ‘The fear we have is that we will learn too much of methods and too little of the workings of the spirit of God.’ (xviii:176)  A decision on the matter was postponed for a week so that more of the Twelve could be involved in the discussion. 

When the Apostles met again to consider the question of establishing missionary training classes in the B. Y. Academy, Abraham voiced the majority’s opinion:  ‘We felt it proper for our young men to study the languages of the people among whom they expect to labor previous to their starting out.  We also felt that the Professors of the B. Y. Academy are not competent to teach the youth their duties in the Priesthood, but need very much to get the spirit of the Gospel themselves.  (xviii:180)”  (William C. Seifrit, “Introduction to Abraham H. Cannon Journal Index”)

13 Nov.:  Stake High Council procedure.

“The following items on procedure, except the paragraph headings, are taken from a very helpful and thoughtful article on ‘Stake high councils,’ by Elder John Nicholson, published in the Weekly Deseret News, December, 1894, vol. 50, page 57:

Jurisdiction of the Council.–The tribunal has appellate as well as original jurisdiction.  The appeal cases originate in the Bishops’ Courts.  When either of the principals in a trial before one of the latter courts is dissatisfied with the Bishop’s decision and desires to appeal to the High Council of the Stake, he must show proper grounds as a reason for the appeal, and if they are deemed sufficient the minutes of the proceedings are sent up to the appellate court.  Unless the reasons given for the action of appeal are trivial or frivolous, the request is granted.  Should the Bishop, however, refuse to grant an appeal, the applicant may complain to the President of the Stake, by whom it will be submitted to the High Council.  If that body decides that an appeal should be granted, the President will direct the Bishop to show cause why he should not be required to grant it and to send up the minutes of the proceedings had before him in the case.

Procedure in Appeal Cases.–In a case which comes up in the Council on appeal, the minutes of the trial before the court in which it originated are read.  (1)  If it appears to the court that the papers are insufficient to give a full and clear understanding of the matter, it may decide to investigate the case on its merits, but no witnesses who were not examined before the Bishop’s Court are allowed to be introduced, the object of the appellate proceedings being to determine whether or not the decision of the original court ought to be sustained or otherwise.  (2)  If during the investigation it should appear that either of the parties can and desires to introduce new witnesses who can give additional and vital testimony, the case may be sent back to the Bishop’s Court in order to give that tribunal an opportunity to determine whether or not the new evidence would cause him to change or alter his decision.

Organization for Trial.–Before entering upon the trial of a case, the Council is duly organized.  The twelve High Councilors are arranged in two semicircles, each composed of six members.  In this shape one-half the Councilors face the other half.  Each regular member has a permanent number–from one to twelve–and he occupies a position according to it.  The six odd numbers comprise one half-circle and the even the other.  There is a space between the ends of the two semicircles, and the Presidency of the Stake are seated at the upper opening, while the lower one is reserved for the witnesses while they are engaged in giving testimony.  After the work of organization is completed, the proceedings are opened with prayer.

The Complaint Read.–The President asks each of the parties to the case if he is ready to proceed to trial.  When the answer is affirmative, as it usually is, the complaint, or charge, which is in writing and has been previously placed in the hands of the clerk of the Council, is read.

Speakers Chosen.–It is decided by vote of the Council how many speakers there shall be on a side.  When the case is important, it is usual to have two.  The speakers are selected in rotation, according to number.  The accuser takes a position in the odd number semicircle, between his speakers, while the accused is similarly situated on the even number side.

The duty of the speakers is to advise the respective parties as to their rights and privileges, and to protect them against irregularities and injustice.

Accuser and Accused Speak.–The accuser is given the privilege of making a general statement of his case, and the defendant is accorded an opportunity to speak on his own behalf in reply in case he does not admit the correctness of the charge.  Then follows the examination of witnesses, first for the accuser and then for the accused.

Examination of Witnesses.–Each witness is subjected to such interrogation as may be necessary, by the party introducing him, and may be cross-examined by the other side uon any matter adduced in the course of the examination-in-chief.  These proceedings are participated in by the respective speakers, and also, under proper rules, by other members of the Council and by the Presidency, the object being to obtain a clear understanding of the case, that the decision may be according to equity and justice.

Review of Case by Speakers.–After all testimony is in, the President announces that the Council is ready to hear the speakers.  It is deemed improper and inconsistent with the genius of the tribunal for the speakers to strain after points in favor of the particular side of the case represented by them, the central object being the ultimate arrival at a just conclusion as to the merits of the matter in dispute.  They are expected, however, to briefly review the evidence and fairly explain points that are favorable to the side of the controversy with which they are for the time being associated.

Summary.–When the speakers conclud their remarks the President informs the accuser that he has the privilege of presenting his own case, in a brief summary of the testimony.  The accused is then accorded a similar opportunity.

Decision of the President.–It is the duty of the President to formulate and announce the decision, which must be justified by the evidence.  Without sufficient proofs–no matter what may be the private opinions of the members of the court as to the guilt or innocence of the accused–no man can be properly condemned.  When the decision is announced, it is determined by the vote of the Council whether it shall be sustained.  When a majority vote is in favor of it, it stands.

(Joseph B. Keeler, The Lesser Priesthood and Notes on Church Government, 1904 edition, Jun., 1904; pp. 129-130; from DN 13 Nov., 1894)

14 Nov.:  Formal training for priesthood rejected.

“Wednesday.  I went to Salt Lake today and returned in the evening.  Met with the Apostles in our room in the Temple at 10:30 a.m.  Discussed the propriety of educating our Elders before sending them on missions, as suggested by John W. Young, who has lived in London the last 3 years.  The suggestion was repudiated; it was decided to select the best Elders we could and let them depend on the Lord as formerly.  We also had suggestions from Professor Ben Cluff of the B. Y. at Provo offering to educate the Priesthood and make them proficient to preside over Wards, Stakes, and the Saints in general; this was also repudiated.”  (Marriner Wood Merrill diary, 14 Nov., 1894)

Notes on Bishops’ Counselors/High Councils.

“Prest [George Q.] Cannon 1894 . . .

A bishop & one counsellor can render a decision but 2 counsellors cannot.  Bishops & their coun. must be agreed or there is no decision.(?) [Question mark in parentheses is Ivins’.]

Members gathering with the Church brom abroad should be required to give satisfactory proof of good character or be baptized.

Bro. Lyman:  No president of a Stake is competent to render a decision without consulting with his counsellors.

If seven member of the High Council sustain a decission it stands.  If a majority or six vote against a decision the case should have a rehearing. . . .

High Councils form a superior court and have both original and appellate jurisdiction but they have no right to criticise or dictate the Presidency of the Stake, nor to travel and regulate the affairs of the stake unless by instructions from the stake presidency.”  (Anthony W. Ivins, Notebook #10)