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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1896

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1896.” You can view other years here.

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1896:  10 Jan.:  1st Pres. Minutes OKed for Journal History.

“In the afternoon Church Historians F. D. Richards and C. W. Penrose met with the First Presidency, and conferred in relation to the keeping and compiling of Church History.  Instructions were given that a Journal of daily events should be commenced from January 1st. 1896, as a basis for current Church history; access to be had to the President’s Office Journal and correspondence.  It was understood that past Church history was to be taken up as opportunity made possible.”  (JH 10 Jan., 1896)

14 Jan.:  No stand by 1st Pres. on running for Senate.

“The name of President George Q. Cannon having been prominently and favorably mentioned as a U. S. Senator from Utah by persons of all political parties, he was urged to make a public announcement declaring his political views, and to accept the nomination if it should be tendered him.  The friends of F. J. Cannon on the other hand represented that a large number of the members of the Legislature on the Republican side were pledged to his support, and that they could not consistently recede from their obligations.  After the matter had been well weighed by the Presidency and some members of the Twelve, President George Q. Cannon was left to his own decision on the subject, whereupon, with the approval of Presidents Woodruff and Smith he prepared the following, which was published in the D. E. News:

An Open Letter.

Salt Lake City, January 14, 1896.

My name has been freely used of late in connection with the office of United States Senator for the new State of Utah; but my position on this subject has been so well understood by my intimate friends, I have not thought it necessary to say anything concerning it to the public.  Now, however, I learn that in consequence of the activity of some of my friends urging my qualifications as entitling me to electino for that high office, there is much uncertainty prevailing as to my attitude, and that this uncertainty may lead to divisions in the party ranks.  This, in my view, would be most unfortunate; for the Republicans of this State, after a well-fought contest, which was fairly and honorably won, carried the State, and are fully entitled to the fruits of their great victory.  That party, according to all the rules of honorable political usages, ought to elect the men of its choice to represent it in the Senate of the United States, and any division that would prevent this would be deplorable.  I cannot, therefore, in the remotest degree contribute to division by allowing my name to appear as a candidate for United States Senator.  I have stated this repeatedly to my friends, and I now state it to the public, that there may be no longer any uncertainty upon the question.  I desire in this public manner to say to all my friends, and especially to those who have been so kind as to express themselves in favor of my being elected to the United States Senate, that I am not a candidate for Senator and could not accept that office.

George Q. Cannon

This settled the matter so far as the candidacy of Prest. Cannon was concerned.  The Republican members of the Legislature met in caucus in the evening and nominated F. J. Cannon for United States Senator, unanimously, by acclamation.”  (JH 14 Jan., 1896)

22 Jan.:  Set apart as Senator.

“U. S. Senator Frank J. Cannon requested the blessing of the First Presidency on his departure for Washington, D.C. to enter upon his Senatorial labors.  President Wilford Woodruff and George Q. Cannon, with Apostles George Teasdale and Abraham H. Cannon laid their hands upon him and set him apart, President Cannon being mouth under the direction of President Woodruff.”  (JH 22 Jan., 1896)

30 Jan.:  Can sisters hold prayer circles?

“Prests. W. Woodruff and G. Q. Cannon met at the Temple with Prest. L. Snow, and Elders F. D. Richards, B. Young, F. M. Lyman, J. H. Smith, H. J. Grant, J. W. Taylor and A. H. Cannon of the Apostles.  The subject of permission to the sisters to meet in prayer circle was discussed, as the question had been asked whether it would be right or whether they could be permitted to meet with their husbands in a prayer circle, seeing that sisters had been admitted to prayer circles in the Nauvoo Temple.  It was shown, however, that on such occasions it was for the purpose of teaching the order of prayer as is now the custom in the Temples.  It was decided that if the sisters desired to meet for prayer they couild do so as members and officers of Relief Societies in their regular places of meeting, but that it would not be advisable for them to meet as circles or to participate in prayer-circle meetings.”  (JH 30 Jan., 1896)

31 Jan.:  Brethren not consulted prior to birthday party.

“The 75th birthday of sister Zina D. H. Young was celebrated by the Relief Societies throughout the world, of which she is the President.  The arrangement was made entirely by the leading ladies of the Society without informing sister Zina.  Some objections were raised to this because the Presiding Authorities of the Church nor of the different Stakes of Zion had been consulted in regard to the matter.  It was considered that this ought not to be taken as a precedent; for, while it is right to pay respect to both brethren and sisters of prominence and faithfulness while living, it is not wise to canonize them, or to go to extremes in any of these things.  However, no censure was passed upon the sisters for this celebration, but they were permitted to proceed with their entertainments.”  (JH 31 Jan., 1896)

6 Feb.:  Leniency towards sinners.

“A meeting in the Temple at 11 o’clock was attended by Prests. W. Woodruff, G. Q. Cannon and L. Snow, with Elders F. D. Richards, B. Young, F. M. Lyman, J. H. Smith, Geo. Teasdale, J. W. Taylor and A. M. Cannon.  The subject of members of the Church who paid no tithing, seldom if ever attended meetings, and used tobacco and intoxicants and were yet continued in fellowship, was discussed.  It was decided that while men in authority in the Church must lead exemplary lives, wisdom would suggest that care should be exercised and leniency shown in reference to such persons while there was a possibility of their reform; that it was better to bear with them, than to cut them off and risk the loss of their families who might go with them, and all become enemies instead of friends to the Church.  ‘The Lord is longsuffering with his erring children, and this is a pattern for his servants.’  While such persons did not openly violate the law of the Lord, patience and kindly efforts for their reform by wise men acting as teachers, was considered the proper course to pursue in relation to them.”  (JH 6 Feb., 1896)

13 Feb.:  Censure of B. H. Roberts for political activity.

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  The [First] Presidency then withdrew, and the following brethren met to consider the case of Elder B. H. Roberts, viz, President Lorenzo Snow, F. D. Richards, B. Young, F. M. Lyman, Heber J. Grant, John W. Taylor, M. W. Merrill, and A. H. Cannon of the Twelve; of the First Council of Seventies S. B. Young (President), B. H. Roberts, George Reynolds, J. G. Kimball, R. S. Wells and Edward Stevenson.  The position taken by Elder Roberts during the late political campaign in reference to the authority of the Presiding Priesthood, was considered for several hours, Elder Roberts maintaining that he had done nothing but what he considered was his right, and the other brethren holding that he had acted without the advice and counsel of the Presiding Authorities, and had taken a course to belittle their authority and weaken it in the minds of a great many people.  When the meeting adjourned in the evening, after all had spoken, no conclusion had been arrived at, but further consideration was deferred to give Brother Roberts time to consider the matter in all its bearings.”  (JH 13 Feb., 1896)

14 Feb.:  B. H. Roberts.

“Elder Joseph H. Felt called on the First Presidency in relation to some appointments for Elder B. H. Roberts to lecture under the auspices of the Y. M. M. I. A.  Prest. Woodruff decided that until Brother Roberts’ case was concluded the appointments had better be cancelled.”  (JH 14 Feb., 1896)

15 Feb.:  Angels restored Melchizedek Priesthood.

“Angels were sent from heaven who held the keys of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, and they ministered unto man.  In this manner the Priesthood was restored once more to the earth.  The result is that the Church of Jesus Christ has been reestablished upon the earth, with all its officers and its ordinances, and the ancient gospel in its purity, with the gifts thereof.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 31(4):100, 15 Feb., 1896)

17 Feb.:  B. H. Roberts.

“Prest. Woodruff received a letter from Elder B. H. Roberts, dated Feb. 17th, in which he stated that he had cancelled his appointments for speaking in public, believing that under present circumstances that would be in accordance with the President’s desires, not, however, wishing to shrink from any duty or to abstain from laboring in the ministry, but simply out of regard for what he believed to be the mind of Prest. Woodruff.”  (JH 17 Feb., 1896)

20 Feb.:  B. H. Roberts.

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  The case of Elder B. H. Roberts was further considered, and it was decided that some definite action should be taken before the approaching Conference.”  (JH 20 Feb., 1896)

20 Feb.:  Change in Stake Conferences.

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  Elder John W. Taylor suggested that great good would be accomplished by holding Quarterly Conferences at different places in the various Stakes, instead of always holding them at one place, and that it would be well for the brethren of the Twelve in attending those Conferences to hold meetings in the different settlements before returning home.  This view was endorsed by the Council.”  (JH 20 Feb., 1896)

26 Feb.:  Elias/Elijah.

“On this date (Feb. 26th) H. S. Tanner wrote the following to Pres. Jos. F. Smith:

Dear Brother:

Please find inclosed a clipping from the Sacramento Record Union of yesterday, which speaks for itself.  If you haven’t time to look it over and answer two or three questions for me please have some one else attend to it for me and return clipping and answers at your earliest possible convenience, as they are sure to come on to me for an answer.  What was the object of S. Brannan & Co. coming around in the vessel? and Did Pres. B. Young agree to meet Brannan in Cal.?

What it the nature of the question he refers to, ‘that 56 years should wind up the scene.’

I would also like your views on the Elija and Elisha business.  I realize that the whole thing is a rehash, but I haven’t the books to refer to, to see just how some of those things are. . . .”

(JH 26 Feb., 1896)

Note:  See JH entry of 4 Mar., 1896 for the answer.

Feb.:  Concerning the mode of blessing children.

“[Describing a Testimony Meeting in Santa Maria.]  The Bishop invites the mothers having children to be blessed to take seats in front of the stand, and, while the exchange of seats is being made, an old German–a new immigrant, just from the ‘Fatherland’–starts one of the old, familiar songs of Zion, in his own native tongue; and it was grand to hear the deep bass voices of the men as they joined in the refrain.

And now the blessing of the children proceeds.  Several elders are administering in turn, under the direction of the bishop.  The children of several matrons, who now present their fourth or fifth child on this occasion, are blessed and named.

And now a young mother, with her first-born babe, who has attracted a great deal of attention from both maid and matron on account of her youth, surrenders her smiling little cherub into the strong arms of the bishop, with the request for Elder _____ to bless the child.

The request was heard by some of the Elders officiating and many of the audience near by.  The Elder whose turn it would have been to officiate according to the succession of the little circle, did not hear the request; he would have proceeded with the ceremony, and had proffered to take the child from the Bishop.

An awkward pause ensued before the choice of the young mother possessed himself of the babe; but the blessing was pronounced, and the child named with a name whereby it should be known in Israel.

The young mother was very much annoyed at the slight confusion she had occasioned; her quick intelligence grasped the situation of the mistake ere the Bishop arose and spoke upon the subject, which he did in the following kind, fatherly manner:

My brethren, and particularly my sisters, it should be understood by us all, that when a child is brought to the fast meeting of the Saints to be blessed, the proceedings should be left entirely to the responsibility of those who preside.  True, we might, at the suggestion of the parents, made by them prior to the commencement of the meeting, so order it, that the father or grandfather should be among the Elders called to officiate.

But the selection of any Elder, especially one not related to the child, by a father or mother, to bless their child here, at this meeting, when the ceremony of the blessing of children is in progress, is out of place.

Now Brother _____, whose turn it would have been to have officiated in the blessing of Sister _____’s little one, was expectant of this duty, and possibly, in his heart, sought the assistance of the Good Spirit, to discharge his duty in this respect aright, according to the dignity of his priesthood–and a disappointment ensues; but Bro. _____ has enough good common sense to not be offended at this, yet, notwithstanding that, offense might be given.

It would be perfectly right for the parents to make their selection, and have their child privately blessed when eight days old, at their own house, if they soo choose.  But when brought here (which they should be, notwithstanding they may have been blessed privately by their father or other Elder of the parents’ choice at the home,) they should be surrendered to the authority here presiding, that the spirit of order, and consequent good feeling, may be maintained.”

(Albert Jones, “Theological Department:  At Fast Meeting,” YWJ 7(5):237-238, Feb., 1896)

1 Mar.:  Manner of ordaining priests and teachers.

“We are informed that some question has arisen in some of the Stakes as to the proper manner of ordaining priests or teachers.  Some have referred to the manner of ordination which ‘the disciples who were called the elders of the church ordained priests and teachers’ among the Nephites, as given in the Book of Mormon, and think that the form there given is not applicable to this dispensation, but that they should be ordained with greater fullness of language.

There certainly would be no harm in adopting the form that is given in the Book of Mormon; neither would there be any harm, if the Spirit so led, in using greater fullness of language.  If, however, the language used in the Book of Mormon was sufficient to ordain priests and teachers, and they were ordained ‘according to the gifts and callings of God unto men’ and ‘by the power of the Holy Ghost which was in’ the men who ordained them, in the days when the Lord had a church on the earth before, that language is certainly sufficient to convey the same authority at the present time.

Our readers will notice that the form which is given in administering the sacrament, in blessing the bread and in blessing the wine, is exactly the same that has been given to us by revelation in our day; and while we are not told that this form of ordination is to be followed by us in ordaining priests and teachers, the object in it being recorded as it is in the Book of Mormon was for our benefit, that we might see the manner in which ordinations were attended to in that day.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 31(5):139, 1 Mar., 1896)

1 Mar.:  An Elder set apart to preside over Deacons.

“In the evening Henry S. Christiansen was ordained an Elder and set apart to preside over the Deacons, I mouth.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 1 Mar., 1896)

4 Mar.:  1st Pres. appeals of High Council Courts.

“The First Presidency were engaged today in reviewing cases of appeal from High Councils.  The decisions of the following were confirmed:  High Council of Weber Stake against Melvern Attwood for entertaining and teaching false doctrine; High Council of Sevier Stake in the case of Joseph Bland vs. A. S. Rasmussen Sr.  The case of Sarah Monk vs. Charles and Emma Monk was under consideration but not acted upon, as further information than that contained in the minutes of the trial was desired, and was written for.”  (JH 4 Mar., 1896)

4 Mar.:  Elijah/Elias; Timing of Millennium.

“Prest. Jos. F. Smith having received a letter of enquiry from Elder Henry S. Tanner, President of the California Mission [see entry of 26 Feb., 1896], turned the matter over to brother C. W. Penrose, of the Historian’s Office, and following is the correspondence:

Elder Henry S. Tanner.

In response to your letter of February 26th, addressed to President Joseph F. Smith, by his request I send you the following to aid you in meeting the fallacies of C. E. Malmstrom in the Sacramento Record Union of February 25th. . . .

In reference to what Joseph said concerning the word of the Lord to him about the Coming of the Son of Man, the objector gives only a partial quotation.  He says further:

I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the Millennium or to some previous coming, or whether I should die and thus see his face.  I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.

It is not true that the remark of the Prophet Joseph on Feb. 14, 1835, is ‘dropped out’ either of Church history or Church works, as stated by Malmstrom.  It is in the public history and also in a foot-note in the Doctrine and Covenants.  What was meant by ‘Even fifty six years should wind up the scene,’ was not understood by the early Elders and in the foot-note here mentioned, the following comment is made: 

Whether this had reference to the coming of Christ or to the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles is unknown.

In any case, it was simply a remark made by Joseph Smith, when speaking to a number of missionaries who were to go out and labor in the field.  There is no proof that either prediction cited by Malmstrom related to the Second Advent of Christ.

As to Elijah and Elias, while every well informed student of the Scriptures is aware that Elijah in Hebrew is Elias in Greek, it does not follow that Joseph Smith did not see two different personages in the Kirtland Temple,–one bearing the name of Elijah and the other the title of Elias.  The meaning of the latter name in the theology of the Latter Day Saints is a Restorer.  In Matthew 17, where we read that Moses and Elias appeared to Christ in the Mount of Transfiguration, it says in verses 11-13, that ‘Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.  Then the disciples understood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist.’  Here are two different persons, each called Elias.  In Matthew 11:14, Christ says, ‘And if you will receive it this is Elias which was to come.’

In the Key to the Revelation of St. John, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 77, verse 9, we read,

We are to understand that the Angel ascending from the East is he to whom is given the seal of the Living God over the Twelve Tribes of Israel, wherefore he cried unto the four angels having the everlasting Gospel, saying, ‘hurt not the earth, neither the sea nor the trees till we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads;’ and if you will receive it, ‘this is Elias which was to come to gather the Tribes of Israel and restore all things.’

In Doctrine and Covenants, section 27, verse 6, mention is also made of Elias, and the special keys committed to him and in verse 7, of his visit to the father of John the Baptist saying that he should have a son who should be filled with the spirit of Elias.  Elijah is mentioned in verse 9, as a different person with a different mission.

From all this it is evident that Elijah and Elias are two different persons with two different missions, and that each prophet who comes as a restorer in the spirit and power of Elias, is himself called by the title of an Elias.

It is also possible for the same prophet to hold the keys of two different missions.  For instance, John the Baptist could come as a messenger holding the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood as he appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, he could also come at another time as an Elias, in the spirit and power of a restorer.  Whoever the personage was that appeared to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple, with the keys of the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham, he was not the same as the personage who appeared as Elijah, holding the keys of the ordinances for the redemption of the dead in the turning of the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers.

It is very easy for one who desires to mystify and confuse the public to select here and there a half saying or part revelation, and so mix and mingle them as to obscure the truth.

Yours in the Gospel,

C. W. Penrose.”

(JH 4 Mar., 1896)

5 Mar.:  Censure of B. H. Roberts.

“Thursday.  Attended meeting with ten of the Apostles and the First Presidency, Thatcher and Lund not being present, Apostle Lund in England and Apostle Thatcher sick.  Met at 11 a.m. in our room in the Temple.  Brother B. H. Roberts’ case was before the meeting again.  Al of the Seven Presidents of Seventies were also present.  After 5 hours’ labor with Brother Roberts he was dropped from his Quorum for 3 weeks and suspended from the exercise of the Priesthood for that time, and if no repentance is shown in that time then the action of the Presidency and Apostles and the six Presidents is to be final in his case.”  (Marriner Wood Merrill diary, 5 Mar., 1896)

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  The First Council of Seventies were invited to join the Presidency and Apostles in considering the case of Elder B. H. Roberts.  They were:  Elders Seymour B. Young, C. D. Fjelsted, B. H. Roberts, J. G. Kimball, R. S. Wells, Geo. Reynolds, and Edward Stevenson.  A report of the former proceedings was made by Prest. Snow, and brother Roberts was requested to state his present feelings, to which he replied that his feelings had undergone no change since the last meeting.  Remarks made at previous meetings on this case were read, after which the Elders who had not spoken on the subject before, each made some remarks and the First Presidency all addressed the meeting.  The authority of the Presiding Priesthood was set forth plainly and fully, all present being in complete harmony in relation to it, with the exception of Elder Roberts, who after the meeting had been long protracted, was given three weeks in which to consider the matter, with the hope that he might place himself in complete harmony with the Council.”  (JH 5 Mar., 1896)

12 Mar.:  B. H. Roberts.

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  The question of the position taken by Elders Moses Thatcher and B. H. Roberts was considered, and it was decided to prepare a document setting forth the order and discipline of the Church, to be signed by the General Church Authorities, giving those brethren an opportunity also to sign it, and thus show whether they were in harmony with their brethren.  This was considered to be necessary at once, in view of the precarious condition of Elder Thatcher’s health, and the importance of having the questions involved understood and settled for all time to come.”  (JH 12 Mar., 1896)

13 Mar.:  B. H. Roberts.

“Elders F. M. Lyman and H. J. Grant who had been appointed a Committee to wait on Elder B. H. Roberts to ascertain definitely whether he would place himself in harmony with the First Presidency, reported to Presidents Woodruff and Cannon at their office, that they had conversed with brother Roberts on the previous evening, and after two hours conversation, perceived that there was a change in his mind, and he had requested until this morning time to decide on the subject.  They had received the following letter:

March 13, 1896.

Elders Lyman and Grant:

My Dear Brethren:  I submit to the authority of God in the brethren.  While I cannot for the life of me think of anything in which I have not acted in all good conscience, and with an honest heart, since they think I am in the wrong, I will bow to them, and place myself in their hands as the servants of God.  This day thirty-nine years ago I first saw the light, and now after this trouble, I feel lighter.  I thank you for your goodness to me.

Truly your brother,

B. H. Roberts.

This communication afforded the greatest delight to the brethren, as it placed brother Roberts in a right position with the Church and its Authorities.”  (JH 13 Mar., 1896)

14 Mar.:  Concerning Aaronic Priesthood.

“Bro. H. S. Tanner [President of the California Mission] wrote to Bro. Chas. W. Penrose as follows:

Dear Brother Penrose:

I received your answer to the letter I sent Bro. Joseph F. Smith, which answers are satisfactory, and I take the opportunity of thanking you for your trouble and the good ideas you presented.

Bro. Penrose there is an idea advanced by some of the sectarian world that the Aaronic Priesthood was done away by Jesus Christ, or ‘that the priesthood was changed’ or ‘disannulled’ and they base their argument on Paul’s epistle [to] the Hebrews.  They also refer to the ‘Deacons being the husbands of one wife.’  No doubt you have had to meet the questions many times, and if it isn’t too much of a burden I should like your ideas on the questions.  I have always been able to satisfy those who have sprung the questions on me, but if there is anything definite given, I would like to get it. . . .”

(JH 14 Mar., 1896)

Note:  See 19 Mar. entry for reply.

15 Mar.:  Child ordination.

“A case is submitted to us of this character:  It seems that a child was ordained when he was four days old to the office of an Elder.  On the strength of this ordination, when grown up, he connected himself with a quorum of Elders, and has recently applied for a recommendation to another quorum.  Objection is made to this recommendation being given on the ground that it may not be proper to recognize that ordination at that early age as binding; and this questions is propounded:

First.–Is an ordination to any office in the Priesthood valid before a person has become a member by baptism?

Second.–Must a person so ordained by re-ordained before officiating in any of the duties pertaining to that office or calling?

Third.–Can we as a quorum refuse rightfully to grant a recommendation to such person, he being in all other respects worthy of such recommendation?

The ordination of a child under such circumstances would not empower him when grown up to act in the office to which he is ordained without further ordination.  He would necessarily, in order to make his standing entirely valid, have to be ordained again.

This answers the first and second questions.

The third question depends upon the answer already given, and, of course, it follows that if re-ordination is necessary, and that has not been attended to, the quorum can rightfully refuse to grant a recommendation to such a person, whatever his worthiness may be in other respects.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 31(6):174, 15 Mar., 1896)

15 Mar.:  Forms of ordination.

“We receive communications from time to time, from theological classes and from others, making enquiries concerning the language to be used in ordaining different officers in the Church.  On this and many other points there is a very manifest disposition to be technical and to attach importance to certain phraseology.  Of course, no one can object to the exercise of proper care in administering the different ordinances of the gospel, whether the ordinance of baptism, laying on of hands, administering to the sick, or the ordaining of men to various offices in the Priesthood.  But while this is right, and there should be no looseness about this, people should not become too great sticklers for words, and become too critical and technical.  The form which is given us by the Lord for the administration of the ordinance of baptism is exceedingly simple and to the point.  Undoubtedly the Lord knew better than anyone else whether it was proper and covered the ground or not.  It would be very presumptuous in any man to think that he could improve on that which the Lord has given; though there have ben times when the President of the Church has suggested language to be used in administering the ordinance of baptism that was appropriate to the then existing circumstances surrounding the candidates.  This, of course, he had the right to do, as the man holding the keys.  But for the administration of the ordinance of baptism under ordinary circumstances the form prescribed by the Lord in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is the form that should be always followed.  The same may be said concerning the form given by the Lord touching the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  We have, on page 609 in the Book of Mormon, described to us the manner in which Priests and Teachers were ordained in that day.  It is very simple, and without doubt it was effective in conveying to those ordained the necessary authority to act as Priests and Teachers.  In section 13 of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is described the manner in which John, who was known as John the Baptist, ordained Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  It is simple and to the point, and contains not an unnecessary word.  Of course, in all ordinations care should be taken to bestow the authority, and this should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, and, as the Book of Mormon says, by the power of the Holy Ghost which is in the men who ordain.

One fault that is sometimes noticed is that when some men ordain others they go to some length in blessing, and it would almost seem as though they were bestowing a patriarchal blessing.  Of course, by calling attention to this we would not convey the idea that men should not speak and make promises under the influence of the Spirit of God when they are led to do so; but as a rule such lengthy ceremonies are not necessary.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 31(6):174-175, 15 Mar., 1896)

16 Mar.:  B. H. Roberts.

“President Woodruff, who was alone at the office, (Prest. Cannon being at Malad, and Prest. Smith at Ogden) had an interview with Elder B. H. Roberts, and expressed great pleasure at the result.  In the afternoon Prest. Woodruff drove to the residence of Elder Moses Thatcher where he visited and conversed with him.”  (JH 16 Mar., 1896)

19 Mar.:  B. H. Roberts.

“The First Presidency and Apostles met at the Temple at 11 a.m.  There were present, Presidents Woodruff, Cannon, Smith and Snow, and Elders F. D. Richards, B. Young, F. M. Lyman, J. H. Smith, G. Teasdale, H. J. Grant, J. W. Taylor and A. H. Cannon.  The letter written by Elder B. H. Roberts was read, and considered, and it was decided that brother Roberts, having conveyed the impression that there had been an attempt by the First Presidency to unite Church and State, and not having carried out the counsel of the First Presidency in other matters, be required to make a full and ample acknowledgement of these wrongs to the united Council of the First Presidency, Twelve Apostles and the Presidency of the Seventies.  Also that a document be prepared setting forth the views of the Presidency and Apostles in regard to Church discipline, to be signed by the First Presidency, the Twelve, First Seven Presidents of Seventies, and the Presiding Bishopric.  This would give an opportunity for Elder Moses Thatcher, as well as Elder B. H. Roberts to show whether they were in accord with their brethren. . . . It was resolved that the Seven Presidents of Seventies, including Elder B. H. Roberts, be invited to meet with the Council of the Twelve Apostles at their next regular meeting.”  (JH 19 Mar., 1896)

19 Mar.:  Secret societies.

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  Elder M. W. Merrill reported that two brethren who had been selected as Counsellors to a Bishop in the Oneida Stake, had acknowledged, when about to be ordained that they were members of a Secret Society.  He had therefore deferred their ordination until the First Presidency could be consulted on the matter.  After the subject of Secret Societies had been discussed, it was decided that a letter be written to Geo. C. Parkinson, President of the Oneida Stake, authorizing him to ordain those brethren, with the understanding that they be advised to withdraw from that Secret Organization as soon as wisdom should dictate.”  (JH 19 Mar., 1896)

19 Mar.:  Concerning Aaronic Priesthood.

“Elder H. S. Tanner.

Dear Brother:

In reply to your questions of the 14th inst. I submit the following:

The modern Christian idea that the Aaronic Priesthood was ‘done away with’ when Christ came as a High Priest after the order of Melchisedek is fallacious for these reasons:

The sons of Aaron received it for a ‘perpetual statute’ (Exodus 29, 9), for ‘an everlasting priesthood’ (Exodus 49, 15).  The sons of Levi are to officiate even after the second coming of Messiah, when they shall ‘offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness’ (Malachi 3, 1-4).  There are to be priests of God and of Christ after the first resurrection and in the millennium (Rev. 20, 6).  Paul did not say the priesthood was abolished, but that it was ‘changed’.  So it was, in that others than the ‘sons of Aaron’ and the Levites could hold it, and that the Melchisedek priesthood was restored in the person and authority of Jesus Christ (Heb. 6, 1-6, also 7, 5-17).  Jesus was called of God a High Priest after the order of Melchisedek.  He conferred similar authority on His apostles.  While praying to the Father he said concerning them: ‘As thou hast sent me into the world so also have I sent them into the world.’  ‘And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them that they may be one even as we are one’  (John 17, 18-22).  He told them: ‘As my father hath sent me, even so send I you’ (John 20, 21-23).  Again: ‘Ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you and ordained you,’ etc. (John 15, 16).  This higher or Melchisedek priesthood was before and over and greater than the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood.  The greater includes the lesser.  Moses held it because he ordained Aaron and his sons, and Moses was faithful in it even as Jesus was (Heb. 3, 1-3).  ‘And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better’ (Heb. 7, 7).  Melchisedek the King of Salem held it many years before Moses (Genesis 14, 18-20).  The priesthood is authority to administer for and in behalf of Deity.  While such administrations are rightfully performed the priesthood is a necessity.  God has the right to conver it upon whom he will: ‘And no man taketh this honor unto himself but that he that is called of God as was Aaron’ (Heb. 5,4).  Christ is a priest ‘forever’ after the order of Melchisedek, and those whom he calls to the same priesthood are also priests ‘forever,’ in this world and in the world to come.

There are two interpretations by readers of the instructions concerning deacons and bishops given by Paul, that they should be ‘the husband of one wife.’  One is that they should be married men, that is having at least one wife, the other that they should have only one wife.  The former does not convey the idea of prohibition of plural marriage to bishops and deacons; the latter does, but in that very prohibition to those classes there is conveyed the intimation that others in the church who were not bishops and deacons, had and might have more than one wife.

The rule of the apostle that deacons must be married men was doubtless considered proper under the circumstances then existing.  In these times the same apostolic authority which established that rule may require another and different rule, the circumstances being different.  It does not affect the authority held by the deacons nor the doctrine of the church.  It is a matter of discipline to be regulated by the presiding authority in any age or dispensation.

Hoping the above will be of service and with kind regards to you and your father,

Your brother in the Gospel,

Chas. W. Penrose.”

(JH 19 Mar., 1896)

20 Mar.:  Selection of Bishopric left to Stake Presidency.

“Angus M. Cannon, President of the Salt Lake Stake, conferred with the First Presidency in regard to the proposed division of Draper Ward.  It was decided that the Southern part of the Ward now organized as a Branch be made into a Ward, and called the Crescent Ward.  The selection of a Bishopric was considered and left to the Presidency of the Stake when they should attend to the Ward organization.”  (JH 20 Mar., 1896)

26 Mar.:  B. H. Roberts.

“The First Presidency and Apostles met at the Temple at 11 a.m.  There were present: Prests. Woodruff, Cannon, Smith and Snow, and Elders F. D. Richards, B. Young, F. M. Lyman, J. H. Smith, Geo. Teasdale, H. J. Grant, M. W. Merrill and A. H. Cannon of the Twelve.  Elder John W. Taylor had been excused, to attend to other important business.  The Council consulted in reference to the case of Elder B. H. Roberts, and it was decided that the time had come for him to satisfy the Council that he possessed a contrite spirit by acknowledging his wrong, and his willingness to do what shall be required.  The Council of Seventies were then invited to meet with the Brethren.  Elders S. B. Young, C. D. Fjelsted, B. H. Roberts, Geo. Reynolds, J. G. Kimball, Rulon S. Wells, and Edward Stevenson joined the Council.

President Woodruff not feeling well, requested Prest. Geo. Q. Cannon to conduct the meeting, who presented the subject to be considered, and called upon brother Roberts to express his feelings.

Elder B. H. Roberts responded by relating the circumstances that led to a change of feeling on his part, and stated that he was now convinced that it was his duty to submit to the authorities of the Church.  He admitted that it was his duty to have done this before, and while he had acted in political affairs with all good conscience and honesty of mind, he wished to declare, candidly, that he was there to submit himself completely to the brethren and to try to make whatever satisfaction they might require at his hands.  Brother Roberts did this in the true spirit of humility and obedience, and Prest. Cannon expressed the joy and satisfaction he felt, in common with all the brethren at the spirit now manifested by brother Roberts.

President Woodruff made some remarks in reference to the document setting forth the views of the Presidency and Apostles in relation to Church and State, and showed that in signing it with the others, brother Roberts would not be humiliated.

Brother Roberts then made a further acknowledgement that he had been in error and ought not to have accepted a political nomination without seeking counsel in erelation to it.  He frankly accepted the reproof of his brethren, and said he would do anything necessary to correct any wrong impressions that had been the result of his language and actions.  He was sincerely sorry that he had done anything to cause his brethren distress or pain.  He was willing to sign the document, and to do anything further necessary to repair the wrong.

The brethren then, with great feeling, extended to brother Roberts the hand of fellowship, and it was unanimously resolved that the Council accept of his confession as full satisfaction.

President Joseph F. Smith and brother Roberts personally forgave each other for everything which either had in his heart against the other, and there was a complete reconciliation of brother Roberts and his brethren of the Council.”  (JH 26 Mar., 1896)

2 Apr.:  Should the Twelve serve foreign missions?

“The First Presidency and Apostles met in the Temple at 11 A.M.  There were present: Presidents Woodruff, Cannon, and Smith, and all the Apostles except Elder Moses Thatcher, who was sick, and Elder Anthon H. Lund who was absent presiding over the European Mission.  The Apostles, through President Lorenzo Snow, informed the First Presidency that each one of them was ready and willing to go on missions wherever it might be thought proper to send them, whether to Turkey, Russia, China, Japan, South America, or any where else.  For some years past the labors of the Twelve had been chiefly among the various Stakes of Zion at home, attending to various Quarterly Conference, etc., but they had agreed among themselves that perhaps they ought to be more in touch personally with the Foreign Missions, and that the First Council of Seventies should be used as aids to the Apostles in opening up new fields of labor abroad.  President Woodruff expressed his approval of these sentiments, but postponed further immediate consideration of this matter, in view of other business to be brought before the Council.”  (JH 2 Apr., 1896)

2 Apr.:  Trustee-in-Trust/Salaries.

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  President George Q. Cannon spoke at some length upon the functions of the office of Trustee-in-trust for the Church, showing that after the death of Prest. John Taylor, the Trustee-in-trust handled and was responsible for all the funds of the Church.  After that event, the Presiding Bishop of the Church was entrusted with the control of the funds of the Church.  This left the President of the Church in the position that if he needed any funds for Church purposes, he had to apply to the Bishop, and there was nothing in the office of the Trustee-in-trust to show what was done with the Church funds except as it was reported by the Presiding Bishop.  This was contrary to the custom in the Church from the beginning, and it placed the President of the Church in a fettered and limited position.  He thought this was wrong, and that the matter should be set right during the life-time of President Woodruff, so that no precedent should be drawn from the present condition by the Church in future times.

Connected with this subject, President Cannon said, is the question of salaries to the officers of the Church.  It had always been a pleasure to him to know and say that there was no salary attached to an office in this Church.  Prest. John Taylor, in consequence of excessive drafts upon the Church by some of the brethren, established a fixed allowance to the Apostles, which was subsequently increased, and the principle was extended to other officers in the Church.  This had grown into a system by which a large amount of tithing was consumed in what appeared to be fixed salaries, attached to the several offices.  This President Cannon considered improper.  There were some of the brethren whose time was given to the Church who should be permitted and were entitled to receive support for themselves and families, while others were in good circumstances, and had little or no need for such assistance.  He thought no more should be drawn from the Church by the brethren than was actually necessary, and that the amount should be regulated by their needs, and that should not be in the nature of a fixed salary.

President Woodruff endorsed the remarks of President Cannon, and referred to the time when the change was introduced by a number of the Apostles.  He had always felt that it was wrong to transfer the powers of the Trustee-in-trust to the Bishopric, and thought it was like ‘putting the cart before the horse.’  It was time that the error was corrected.  He said further that he had traveled nearly all his life and preached without money and without price; he had never drawn anything from the Church until after the death of Prest. Young.  Since then he had received means from the Church, and the brethren had been very kind to him, but he did not believe in the system of stated salaries, and that we ought to go back to the early order of the Church.

Prest. Jos. F. Smith said he did not approve of the new order of things, by which the functions of the Trustee-in-trust were transferred to the Presiding Bishopric, nor of the custom of Church salaries.  The Church however ought to support the families of men who devote their entire time to the ministry and need that support; any more than this cometh of evil.  If he could get along without drawing a dollar from the Church he certainly would.  He did not desire to see changes that would work hardships upon any of the brethren who devoted themselves to the ministry, but he was satisfied that it was wrong to fix salaries to any of the offices of the Church.  He believed that the President of the Church should be at the head financially as well as spiritually, at the same time he felt it was right and proper and strictly in accordance with the order of the Priesthood that he and all of the authorities should act together by common consent in the management of Church affairs, not that any one man should act in such matters without the cooperation of the brethren.  He thought the hands of the Presidency would be stronger in the management of Church funds with the assistance and cooperation of the brethren of the Twelve, or at least a majority of them (President Woodruff endorsed this opinion).  President Smith said he had perfect confidence in the Trustee-in-trust, and believed he would have the support of his brethren.  He considered that all should be economical and prudent, without extravagance, and so set an example for others to follow.

President Lorenzo Snow said, he had failed to find anything in the Doctrine and Covenants touching on the question of salaries.  He had traveled and labored upwards of 40 years without receiving a single cent from the Church, and had supported his family without taking advantage of any individual.  He did not know for some time after Prest. Taylor had made an allowance to the Apostles, that there was a sum credited to him.  Latterly it had been necessary for him to draw on that credit for the support of his family.  He would prefer to be entirely independent of the Church in that respect, and felt sorry to say that he was not.  He believed however, that all the brethren would see the propriety and advantage of carrying out the suggestion that salaries should not be established.  As to the other question, it was the right and duty of the First Presidency to have the control of everything pertaining to the Church, whether spiritual or temporal.  As to the present system, he thought the Presidency had only to express their wishes in order to have them carried out.  If that was so now, and the system worked satisfactorily to them, it would give them more time to attend to spiritual affairs.

Elder F. D. Richards, expressed himself as being in entire accord with the First Presidency on both questions.  He explained the reasons which prevailed at the time when the changes in policy were made, and thought that it was only necessary for the Presidency to indicate that a return to the former practice was desirable, for he could not conceive of anything that pertained to the interest of the Church that did not come under the immediate control of the First Presidency.

Elder John Henry Smith, felt that his time belonged absolutely to the Church on receiving the amount which he had been allowed to draw.  He was not in a position to devote all his time and talents to the work of the ministry without some assistance for the support of his family, and he would not like to be put into a position to ask for help as if he were seeking alms.  He would like such aid as he received to come to him freely, yet the very idea of the Twelve drawing salaries would have a tendency to weaken their influence, and he would welcome a motion to do away with salaries.

Elder Heber J. Grant spoke of the greater prestige acquired by the Presiding Bishopric than by the First Presidency in financial circles through the working of the present system, and although he was one of the Committee which instituted the change, he felt now, that the First Presidency should be placed in their proper position at the head of all the affairs of the Church.

The brethren of the Council then partook of the Sacrament, after which Elder Brigham Young expressed himself strongly in favor of the giving up of salaries, and also of those who should draw from the Church not exceeding the amount that had already been allowed.  He had felt vexed at the position occupied by the President of the Church in relations to its finances, and rejoiced now that the time had come for the authority to be restored where it belongs.

Elder F. M. Lyman said he was one of the Committee which directed the change now complained of, but had no idea when it was made that it would in any wise humiliate the Presidency.  His idea then was that the Presiding Bishopric, standing at the head of the lesser Priesthood, who are essentially ministers in temporal affairs, would carry out the regulations as to the gathering of the tithes, the expenditure of which would be under the direction and counsel of the First Presidency.  If that idea has not been carried out, he was ready to help his brethren correct the matter thoroughly, that everything in the Church should be under the direction of the Trustee-in-trust as to financial things, and the President of the Church in spiritual things.  The idea of salaries to the Twelve had always been to him very disagreeable.  He was perfectly willing to trust the Lord and his brethren, and would endeavor to live as moderately as possible and have his family do the same.

The committee of which he was a member that had brought about the change, acted in good faith, and were sustained by the Council, but he was now heartily in favor of placing the matter as it ought to be.

Elder Geo. Teasdale remarked that he always understood the President of the Church was sustained as Trustee-in-trust and that as such all Church means were under his direction.  He united with his brethren in the movement to place this thing where the Presidency wanted it.  He wondered that the word salary had ever been used in connection with a Church Office.  He had drawn as little cash as possible, and when he had need to ask brother Jack for $10, had felt as though he were about to have a tooth drawn.  He could therefore appreciate the feelings of brother John Henry Smith on this subject.  He felt it was the duty of the leading authorities to set an example of moderation and of plainness in dress and manners, and also to teach their children to work.

Elder Heber J. Grant said that at the time the Committee made their report as to the Bishop handling the funds, it was not expected that the matter would work as it had turned out.  He had always felt that he was not entitled to the amount credited to him.  He had kept a strict account of his affairs, and had paid his tithing from the amount allowed him and distributed the rest as donations.  He was very hopeful that the Lord would open his way so that he might not have to draw anything at all from the Church, and he believed that was the feeling of all the rest of the Twelve.

Elder John W. Taylor felt that what he received he would like to get like a man and not like a beggar.  He had a great ambition to pay back to the Church every cent he had received from it, but did not know whether he would be able to gratify that desire.  He was ready to make the change suggested in reference to the Trustee-in-trust and the Bishopric.

Elder M. W. Merrill said he was not a member of the Quorum when the salary question was decided upon.  A check had been sent to him monthly for some time, which was afterwards stopped, and he asked no questions in either case, and was surprised to learn that there was a large credit standing to his name on the books of the Church.  He was ready to vote in favor of the propositions as to salaries and as to the Trustee-in-trust.

Elder Abraham H. Cannon said he had used the amount credited to him in the payment of tithing and donations.  He agreed with the brethren that the custom of fixed salaries should be done away, and also that the funds of the Church should be under the control of the Trustee-in-trust.  He regarded the Bishop’s office as merely a department of the Church.

President Woodruff announced that as there was a unanimity of feeling in the Council, the brethren were no doubt ready for a motion.  President Geo. Q. Cannon then offered the following:

I move, President Woodruff and the Brethren of the Council, that there be no credits hereafter placed on the books to any Church official for services rendered in the Church, and that no man in the Church holding official position shall hereafter consider himself entitled to any remuneration for his services as a Church official.  I mean all who act in a Church capacity, including Presidents of Stakes and others.

Seconded by Elder H. J. Grant and carried unanimously.

President Cannon also offered the following motion, which was seconded by Elder Lyman and carried unanimously:

I move President and Brethren of the Council, that the brethren who have been heretofore in the habit of drawing funds from the Church, or to whom allowances have been made for the sustenance of their families, be entitled hereafter to draw to the same extent as before, and that in the event of their needing anything more at any time, their necessities compelling them to ask for more, that it be done by application to the Trustee-in-trust.

Elder John Henry Smith enquired whether this action was to convey the idea that the Apostles were at liberty to go into business for themselves, and Prest. Jos. F. Smith replied, ‘Unless we as a body of men act in some concerted movement, I don’t consider that any member of this Council has the right to engage in occupations that will absorb his time or take him away from the performance of his duties.'”  (JH 2 Apr., 1896)

5 Apr.:  Statement on business and politics by Church Leaders.

“Previous to the convening of the Priesthood meeting [of General Conference] the First Presidency with Apostles L. Snow, F. D. Richards, B. Young, F. M. Lyman, J. H. Smith, G. Teasdale, H. J. Grant, J. W. Taylor, M. W. Merrill, and A. H. Cannon, met at the President’s Office.  A paper prepared by President George Q. Cannon defining the position of the Church in regard to its officials, their obligations and their engaging in business and politics was considered.  The meeting then adjourned until 8:30 A.M. next day, when the First Seven Presidents of Seventies and the Presiding Bishopric were to be invited to attend.”  (JH 5 Apr., 1896)

6 Apr.:  Trustee-in-trust/salaries/Moses Thatcher.

“The First Presidency and Apostles met, as per adjournment, at the President’s Office.  After come consultation, the First Presidency and those Apostles who were present, signed the document in their order.  The Seven Presidents of Seventies and the Presiding Bishops were then invited in.  The address was read to this united Council.  It was suggested by President Smith that the brethren who had not signed the document have the privilege of talking the matter over among themselves, but the brethren designated were ready at once to subscribe to the address.  After being given an opportunity to make any suggestions for the modification or correction of the language, no change being suggested, all the brethren present signed the document in their order.  A space was left for the signatures of Moses Thatcher and Anthon H. Lund, also for John Smith, Patriarch.

President Woodruff expressed his gratification at the union manifested and said the day had gone by for division of feeling and sentiment among the Presiding Councils of the Church.

The other brethren having withdrawn, the Presidency and Apostles consulted in reference to Elder Moses Thatcher.  It was resolved that President L. Snow and Elder B. Young be appointed to wait on brother Moses Thatcher, who was too sick to attend Conference, at his residence to present to him the address for his signature.  Those brethren went to the residence of brother Thatcher, while the others went to the Tabernacle to attend the Conference. . . .

At 1 o’clock P.M., Elders L. Snow and B. Young met the First Presidency at the President’s Office and reported that after a pleasant conversation with Elder Moses Thatcher, they presented to him the address, offering to read it to him, but he preferred to read it himself.  After doing so, he said there were some grave points embodied in it, and he would like time for further reflection before deciding whether he would sign it or not.  They therefore left the document with him on his promise to send it to the President’s Office by a safe messenger by half past one o’clock.  The brethren expressed their opinion that, much to their regret, Elder Thatcher would return the document unsigned.

At 1:40 P.M. the following communication was received from brother Thatcher:

April 6, 1896.

President Lorenzo Snow and Apostle Brigham Young.

Dear Brethren:

Having carefully read the document left with me for consideration, I herewith return it as per promise.

There is much of its contents that I could conscientiously endorse by signing it, but there are other portions which I cannot endorse without stultification.

If I was well I might view this most serious matter in another light; or I might do so had I more time to consider it; but as it is, it seems that I must determine now, though I fully realize how sadly long illness has weakened me in every way.  In the future the Lord may enable me to define my views and acts as running along those of honor, integrity and truth.

Now I can only humbly ask that you act according to the Holy Spirit’s dictation as prompted by justice and brotherly love towards your fellow laborer in the cause of our Savior.

Moses Thatcher.

The Presidency and Brothers Snow and Young went to the Tabernacle, and called together the Apostles to consider what should be done in reference to presenting the name of Moses Thatcher to the Conference with the rest of the Twelve.  It was decided not to present his name to be sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles.”  (JH 6 Apr., 1896)

6 Apr.:  Official statement on political activity.

[Text of the signed statement:]  The following is the address presented at the General Conference, and adopted by unanimous vote of the Congregation:


To the officers and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in General Conference assembled:

Dear Brethren and Sisters–Every Latter-day Saint will recognize the value of union, not only in action but in matters of faith and discipline.  As to the rights and authority of the Priesthood of the Son of God, it is of the highest importance that there should be no difference of opinion among the officers and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Feeling the necessity of a correct understanding of this principle, we deem it proper at this sixty-sixty anniversary of the organization of the Church in these last days, to prepare and present a statement on the subject, embodying the doctrine which has always prevailed in the Church, and our views upon it.  We are prompted to adopt this course at the present time because of events which have happened during the late political contest.  A great diversity of opinion on the subject has been expressed, and even by leading Elders in the Church, which latter fact has naturally led in some instances to considerable division of sentiment.

It is of great importance that we understand each other and that there be harmony in our teachings.  It is especially important that these teachings shall be in accordance with the rules and regulations and doctrines which have been taught and which have prevailed from the beginning until the present time, having not only the sanction of undisputed usage, but the approval of all faithful leaders in the Church and of Him in whose name and by whose authority they act.

In the late exciting contest, to which reference has been made, the presiding authorities in some instances have been misunderstood.  In other instances they have been misrepresented, which has led to a wrongful conception of their real views.  It has been asserted too freely, and without foundation, that there has been a disposition on their part to interfere with individual liberty and to rebuke in some men a course which was applauded in others.  In a word, that they have appeared to desire to assert and maintain an unjust and oppressive control over the actions of the members of the Church, and in thus doing have endeavored to effect a union of Church and State.  In the heat of political discussion, assertions have been made and arguments used conveying to the public mind a false idea concerning the position of the officers of the Church, and leaving the impression that there has been and was now being made an attempt to accomplish the union above referred to.  Now that the excitement has passed, and calmer reason has resumed its sway, we think it prudent to set forth, so that all may understand, the exact position occupied by the leading authorities of the Church.

In the first place we wish to state in the most positive and emphatic language that at no time has there ever been any attempt or even desire on the part of the leading authorities referred to to have the Church in any manner encroach upon the rights of the State, or to unite in any degree the functions of the one with those of the other.

Peculiar circumstances have surrounded the people of Utah.  For many years a majority of them in evern portion of the Territory belonged to one Church, every reputable member of which was entitled to hold and did hold some ecclesiastical office.  It is easy to see how, to the casual observer, it might appear singular that so many officers of the Church were also officers of the State; but while this was in fact the case, the distinction between the Church and the State throughout those years was carefully maintained.  The President of the Church held for eight years the highest civil office in the community, having been appointed by the national administration governor of the Territory.  The first secretary of the Territory was a prominent Church official.  An Apostle represented the Territory in Congress as a delegate during ten years.  The members of the Legislature held also offices in the Church.  This was unavoidable; for the most suitable men were elected by the votes of the people, and, as we have stated, every reputable man in the entire community held some Church position, the most energetic and capable holding leading positions.  This is all natural and plain enough to those who consider the circumstances; but it furnished opportunity for those who were disposed to assail the people of the Territory to charge them with attempting to unite Church and State.  A fair investigation of the conditions will abundantly disprove the charge and show its utter falsity.

On behalf of the Church of which we are leading officers, we desire again to state to the members and also to the public generally, that there has not been, nor is there, the remotest desire on our part or on the part of our co-religionists to do anything looking to a union of Church and State.

We declare that there has never been any attempt to curtail individual liberty–the personal liberty of any of the officers or members of the Church.  The First Presidency and other leading officers did make certain suggestions to the people when the division on party lines took place.  That movement was an entirely new departure, and it was necessary, in order that the full benefit should not be lost which was hoped to result from this new political division, that people who were inexperienced should be warned against hasty and ill-considered action.  In some cases they were counseled to be wise and prudent in the political steps they were about to take, and this with no idea of winning them against their will to either side.  To this extent, and no further, was anything said or done upon this question, and at no time and under no circumstances was any attempt made to say to voters how they should cast their ballots.  Any charge that has been made to the contrary is utterly false.

Concerning officers of the Church themselves, the feeling was generally expressed in the beginning of the political division spoken of that it would be prudent for leading men not to accept of office at the hands of the political party to which they might belong.  This counsel was given to men of both parties alike–not because it was thoguht that there was any impropriety in religious men holding civil office, not to deprive them of any of the rights of citizenship, but because of the feeling that it would be better under the circumstances which had now arisen to avoid any action that would be likely to create jealousy and ill-feeling.  An era of peace and good-will seemed to be dawning upon the people, and it was deemed good to shun everything that could have the least tendency to prevent the consummation of this happy prospect.  In many instances, however, the pressure brought to bear upon efficient and popular men by the members of the parties to which they belonged was of such a character that they had to yield to the solicitation to accept nomination to office, or subject themselves to the suspicion of bad faith in their party affiliations.  In some cases they did this without consulting the authorities of the Church; but where important positions were held, and where the duties were of a responsible and exacting character, some did seek the counsel and advice of the leading Church authorities before accepting the political honors tendered them.  Because some others did not seek this counsel and advice, ill-feeling was engendered, and undue and painful sensitivenes was stimulated; misunderstanding readily followed, and as a result the authorities of the Church were accused of bad faith and made the subjects of bitter reproach.  We have mentioned that in the case of men who hold high positions in the Church, whose duties are well defined, and whose ecclesiastical labors are understood to be continuous and necessary, it would be an improper thing to accept political office or enter into any vocation that would distract or remove them from the religious duties resting upon them, without first consulting and obtaining the approval of their associates and those who preside over them.  It has been understood from the very beginning of the Church that no officer whose duties are of the character referred to, has the right to engage in any pursuit, political or otherwise, that will divide his time and remove his attention from the calling already accepted.  It has been the constant practice with officers of the Church to consult–or, to use our language, to ‘counsel’–with their brethren concerning all questions of this kind.  They have not felt that they were sacrificing their manhood in doing so, nor that they were submitting to improper dictation, nor that in soliciting and acting upon the advice of those over them, they were in any manner doing away with their individual rights and agency, nor that to any improper degree were their rights and duties as American citizens being abridged or interfered with.  They realized that in accepting ecclesiastical office they assumed certain obligations; that among these was the obligation to magnify the office which they held, to attend to its duties in preference to every other labor, and to devote themselves exclusively to it with all the zeal, industry and strength they possessed, unless released in part or for a time by those who preside over them.  Our view, and it has been the view of all our predecessors, is that no officer of our Church, especially those in high standing, should take a course to violate this long-established practice.  Rather than disobey it, and declare himself by his actions defiantly independent of his associates and his file leaders, it has always been held that it would be better for a man to resign the duties of his Priesthood; and we entertain the same view today.

In view of all the occurrences to which reference has been made, and to the diversity of views that have arisen among the people in consequence, we feel it to be our duty to clearly define our position, so there may be no cause hereafter for dispute or controversy upon the subject:

First–We unanimously agree to and promulgate as a rule that should always be observed in the Church and by every leading official thereof, that before accepting any position, political or otherwise, which would interfere with the proper and complete discharge of his ecclesiastical duties, and before accepting a nomination or entering into engagements to perform new duties, said official should apply to the proper authorities and learn from then whether he can, consistently with the obligations already entered into with the Church upon assuming his office, take upon himself the added duties and labors and responsibilities of the new position.  To maintain proper discipline and order in the Church, we deem this absolutely necessary; and in asserting this rule, we do not consider that we are infringing in the least degree upon the individual rights of the citizen.  Our position is that a man having accepted the honors and obligations of ecclesiastical office in the Church cannot properly of his own volition make those honors subordinate to or even co-ordinate with new ones of an entirely different character; we hold that unless he is willing to counsel with and obtain the consent of his fellow-laborers and presiding officers in the Priesthood, he should be released from all obligations associated with the latter, before accepting any new position.

Second–We declare that in making these requirements of ourselves and our brethren in the ministry, we do not in the least desire to dictate to them concerning their duties as American citizens, or to interfere with the affairs of the State; neither do we consider that in the remotest degree we are seeking the union of Church and State.  We once more here repudiate the insinuation that thre is or ever has been an attempt by our leading men to trespass upon the ground occupied by the State, or that there has been or is the wish to curtail in any manner any of its functions.

Your brethren,

Wilford Woodruff,

Geo. Q. Cannon,

Jos. F. Smith, First Presidency.

Lorenzo Snow,

F. D. Richards,

Brigham Young,

Francis M. Lyman,

John Henry Smith,

George Teasdale,

Heber J. Grant,

John W. Taylor,

Marriner W. Merrill,

Abraham H. Cannon, Apostles.

John Smith, Patriarch.

Seymour B. Young,

C. D. Fjelsted,

B. H. Roberts,

George Reynolds,

Jonathan G. Kimball,

Rulon S. Wells,

Edward Stevenson, First Council of Seventies.

Wm. B. Preston,

R. T. Burton,

John R. Winder, Presiding Bishopric.

Salt Lake City, April 6th, 1896.

Note–The reason the signature of Apostle Anton H. Lund does not appear in connection with those of his quorum is because he is absent, presiding over the European mission.  He, however, will be given the opportunity of appending his signature when he returns home.”

(JH 6 Apr., 1896)

7 Apr.:  No salaried officers.

“I attended Priesthood Meeting at 10 a.m.  Presidency and ten of the Apostles were present with Presidents of Stakes, Priesthood, Bishops, and Counselors. . . . Many instructions were given and a vote taken that no official shall have a salary from the Church, which was unanimous.”  (Marriner Wood Merrill diary, 7 Apr., 1896)  

  7 Apr.:  Meeting w/local leaders over various issues, including clothing of dead in Temple robes.

“A meeting of the First Presidency, Apostles, First Council of Seventies, Presiding Bishopric, Presidents of Stakes and Counselors, High Councilors, and Bishops and Counselors, was held in the Assembly Hall at 10 A.M.  After the opening exercises, President Joseph F. Smith addressed the Assembly which filled the body of the hall.  He dwelt on the importance of every officer of the Church being united in spirit and in harmony with the First Presidency and the Twelve.  He thought it would be much better for such officers as were unable to be in harmony to ask to be released from their official positions, than to continue in office while entertaining feelings of hostility to those whom God had placed to lead and direct the Church.  He expressed regret that he could not speak with that freedom which he desired in consequence of the feeling that there were some present in whom his confidence was not very strong.  He did not know that his words would be carried to the Gentiles as soon as the meeting was over.  There was nothing in his heart but what might be proclaimed to the whole world, and yet it was a matter of regret that what was said in a meeting specially designed for the Priesthood alone, was liable to be carried to the enemies of Zion.  Prest. Smith cautioned the brethren against betraying any trust reposed in them.  He took up the subject of the burial of our dead, and spoke against the custom which had grown up amongst us of taking our dead to the meeting houses clothed in the robes of the Priesthood, and exhibiting them to the gaze of the public.  He asked would we think of dressing ourselves in our Temple clothing, and inviting people not of our faith to come and look upon us?  If we would not do that while living, what propriety was there in exposing such clothing on the bodies of the dead?  He announced that the First Presidency and Apostles had decided that coffins should not be opened at the meeting houses, or wherever public services were held, for the purpose of exhibiting the remains of the dead, but that friends of the deceased and others who may have a right to look upon the faces of the dead, should do so at the family residences, and thus keep as private and as sacred as possible the robes of the Holy Priesthood.

President Lorenzo Snow gave some instruction in regard to Temple work, and requested the brethren present to keep the subject of the work in behalf of the dead prominently before the Latter Day Saints.

Elder F. D. Richards emphasized and endorsed the remarks of Prest. Snow, and spoke on the organization of the Genealogical Society, of which he is President, and invited the brethren to become members.

Elder Brigham Young spoke on the importance and benefits of Church schools, and also on the importance of securing the natural reservoir sites, and all sources of water supply in the interests of the people throughout the State.

President Geo. Q. Cannon alluded to the matter of exposing to the public, proceedings and remarks in meetings of this kind.  While there was nothing in such meetings that any one need to be ashamed of, they were convened in order that the leading brethren might be talked to on things pertaining to their positions and calling, which might not be applicable to the people generally.  Men who would make public what was said in these meetings were not the kind in whom the Lord could repose confidence.  President Cannon took up the subject of securing the natural facilities and resources of our country, quoting the language of Prest. Young, who used to ask the Lord to make our feet fast in these mountains; he said this could be done by our occupation of the land, and securing the water supplies.  There was danger, he said, of our losing our footing in these valleys through strangers coming here and laying claim to these facilities.  He gave some counsel on the subject of recommendations for second annointings.  Worthy old people should be selected as a rule, and Bishops should select faithful persons and confer with their Stake Presidents before recommending them for that blessing.  He also advised that as far as possible each Stake of Zion should sustain its own poor.

President Cannon explained the subject of Church salaries.  He read the resolutions adopted by the First Presidency and Apostles, showed the wrong of establishing a system by which fixed salaries would be come attached to Church offices, and this would be a departure from the order of heaven and the rule that had been in the Church from the beginning.  He said that men who labored in the ministry and who needed help should receive necessary assistance, but not in the shape of a salary.  The resolutions referred to were read again, and unanimously adopted by the meeting.

The declaration or address of the authorities of the Church was considered, and it was resolved, that it should be read in the various Stakes and Wards of the Church, as the local authorities might arrange.”  (JH 7 Apr., 1896)

10 Apr.:  Doctrinal questions answered in the Deseret News.

“The [Deseret] News editorially answers some questions in reference to prophesying and ordinations.  In answer to the question:

Has any person present in a fast meeting, when moved upon by the spirit of prophecy a right to do it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ?

The News answers to the effect that if an individual is in reality moved upon by the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, the prophecy will be in his name whether so stated or not, and the Doc. & Cov. Section 46:22 and 31, says:

And to others is given to prophesy. . . . And again I say unto you, all things must be done in the name of Christ, whatsoever you do in the Spirit.

But the presiding officer of the meeting has the right to judge of the spirit of such utterances, and to forbid them when they are not by the spirit of truth.

Presiding officers who have the spirit of their calling do not forbid the exercise of the gifts of the spirit, but they must guard against people being led away by an enthusiasm which sometimes goes beyond intelligent inspiration.

In answer to the question, [the clipping containing the question is missing]

The News replies:

The essential features are that the person or persons performing the ordination, do so, first, by virtue of the authority they possess to make the ordination; second, in the name of the Lord; third, by ordaining to the office intended.  This done and the work is complete.

The News further calls attention to the proceedings of an Elders’ Conference in the Salt Lake Stake, Jan. 19, 1895, when several questions of this kind were answered, one of which was this:

In ordaining brethren should we say: ‘Receive ye all the power of the Melchisedek Priesthood,’ or simply say: ‘We ordain you an Elder?’  Does he receive a fulness of authority and Priesthood when ordained an Elder?

To this the folloing reply was made by the presidency of the Stake:

In ordaining Elders say after this manner: ‘In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the authority of the holy Priesthood vested in me (or us), I (or we) ordain you an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and seal upon you every key, power, right and privilege pertaining to this high and holy calling.  Amen.’  If you have the proper authority, such a man is ordained an Elder.  Never mind considering the question as to whether he is more than an Elder.  Let him magnify this calling or office, and there is ample scope for the exercise of all his talents and ability, and if he will faithfully perform his duty he will thus qualify himself to act in other offices of the Priesthood to which he may hereafter be called and ordained.”

(JH 10 Apr., 1896)

1 May:  Continued agitation over Church statement on politics.

“The subject of the Address promulgated by the Presidency and Apostles at the last General Conference is still agitated by the newspapers, and there appears to be a concerted effort among ex-Liberals, aided by a few unwise brethren, to create division in the Church on this simple matter.  The Deseret News of this date editorially makes a plain statement of the case, showing that the Address simply enunciates an old established doctrine of the Church, and does not in any way encroach upon the personal or political liberty of any individual.”  (JH 1 May, 1896)

2 May:  Church statement on politics.

“At the Monthly Priesthood Meeting of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion held in the Assembly Hall today, the Address of the General Authorities of the Church was read by Elder C. W. Penrose, who made some explanatory remarks and answered several questions in reference to its scope and application, after which the report was adopted unanimously.  There was one hand raised in opposition, but subsequent investigation proved that it was by mistake.”  (JH 2 May, 1896)

3 May:  Church statement on politics.

“The Cache Stake Conference was held at Logan today.  Prest. Joseph F. Smith was present as well as Elders John Henry Smith, Heber J. Grant and M. W. Merrill of the Twelve.  Before the afternoon meeting they met with the High Council for the purpose of promoting harmony among the leading men of the Stake in reference to the Address on Church discipline.  The Address was accepted by all present with the exception of Geo. W. Thatcher, Aaron Farr, Jun., and Seth A. Langton of the High Council.  The last named voted squarely against it, while the other two refrained from voting either way.  At the afternoon meeting of the Conference, the Address was read and voted upon, the people being exhorted to act freely in relation to it.  The Address was adopted with a very few disseients [sic]. . . .

The Wasatch Stake Conference was held today as well as on Saturday, at Heber City. . . . The Address of the General Church Authorities was read and adopted with but one contrary vote.

The Juab Stake Conference was held today and Monday . . . The Address of the General Church Authorities, which had been unanimously adopted at the Preisthood meeting held on Saturday, was presented to the Conference on Sunday morning, and adopted with but one contrary vote.”  (JH 3 May, 1896)

7 May:  12 not to preside over missions.

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  The question of a successor to Elder Anthon H. Lund as President of the European Mission was considered, and on motion of Prest. Geo. Q. Cannon, Elder Rulon S. Wells of the First Council of Seventies, was selected and appointed to succeed Elder Lund in that position.

President Cannon thought that the Twelve who were able to travel could be sent from time to time to visit the various missions, instead of being tied down to preside over either of such missions. . . .

President Cannon further suggested that one of the Apostles should visit the Southern States Mission, the Northern and Eastern States Mission, and perhaps the same Apostle might visit the European Mission.  This would be in accordance with the decision that the Apostles should be brought into closer touch with the various missions.”  (JH 7 May, 1896)

8 May:  Letter concerning form of various types of baptism.

“The following letter prepared by President Geo. Q. Cannon to carry into effect the action of the Council of the First Presidency and Apostles, on May 7, was addressed today to the Presidents of the Temples:

In baptizing for the dead in the Temples we understand that the form of words used is as follows:

Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize _____, for an in behalf of _____ for the remission of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, amen.

We might go into explanation as to the reasons which have caused this form of baptism to be adopted; but it is not necessary, further than to say that baptisms for health and baptisms for the renewal of covenants, etc., have led doubtless to the adoption of this form of ceremony to distinguish it from others.

We have had this matter under consideration from time to time, and supposed that our views had been made known to the Presidents of the Temples; but we understand that they have not been informed upon this point, and that the form above given is still the one used in administering baptisms for the dead.

The form that we think proper, and that we desire to have used hereafter in administering the ordinance of baptism for the dead, is as follows:

Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you _____ for and in behalf of _____, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

We understand that in some instances baptisms have been administered in the Temples with something like the following ceremony:

Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for the remission of sins, for the renewal of your covenant, and for the restoration of your health, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

We do not know upon what authority this form of administering baptism has been adopted, but we think it improper.  There have been times in the Church when the First Presidency have felt it necessary to call upon all members of the Church to renew their covenants, and at such times it was suggested that the words ‘for the renewal of your covenants’ be used in the ceremony; but it does not follow that at other times, and in individual cases, that form should be used.

We think it improper, speaking generally, for the words ‘for the remission of sins’ or ‘for the renewal of your covenant’, to be used in administering the ordinance of baptism.

Where it may be necessary to baptize a person who is already a member of the Church, the form of ceremony which the Lord revealed to the Nephites, and which has also been revealed to us in our day, is sufficient.  It is sufficient for a sinner who joins the Church, for through that ordinance and the words of the ceremony which the Lord has given, his sins are remitted, and it certainly is for a man who is already a member of the Church, if it should be deemed necessary to administer the ordinance of baptism to him.  The practice which has prevailed in some instances where members of the Church are baptized of using the words ‘re-baptism’ and ‘re-confirmation’ we think unnecessary.  When we strictly follow the form the Lord has given us we are sure to be right.

In cases where people are baptized for their health, we see no impropriety in using the words ‘for the restoration of your health’ in the ceremony.  There is a difference between baptism for such a purpose and baptism for admission into the Church.  One is an ordinance of salvation–the door provided by the Lord through which his children must enter into his Church, and become entitled to the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant; the other, while it may be termed in some respects an ordinance, is not imperative upon the members of the Church.  If they have faith and believe, when they have some ailment, that the administration of baptism in that form will be beneficial to them, the privilege is granted to them.  But there is a clear distinction between that form of baptism and the form of baptism which the Lord requires His children to obey to become members of His Church.

Signed by the First Presidency.”

(JH 8 May, 1896)

May:  6 Alternate High Councilors in each stake.

“The needs of the Church at present for High Priests are as follows:

. . . .

Officers of forty stakes.–The Presidencies, 120; High Councils, 480; Alternates, 240; Patriarchs, 150; Bishops and Counselors, 1800; Presidency of Temples, 12.”

(Albert Jones, “Theological Department: High Priests,” YWJ 7(8):372, May, 1896)

6 Jun.:  Various priesthood matters at SL Stake Conference.

“The Quarterly Conference of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion convened in the Assembly Hall at 10 A.M.  This being the time for the regular monthly Priesthood meeting, the usual business of that meeting was attended to.  In addition to the Stake Presidency and other local authorities, Elder F. M. Lyman of the Council of the Apostles, was present.  After the business had been presented, he addressed the meeting, principally on the power, authority and rights of the Apostleship.  He claimed that the Apostles held the keys of the Kingdom, with power to regulate and set in order all the affairs of the Church; that the people should heed and obey the instructions of the Apostles and if they accepted what an Apostle taught, he, and not the people, would be responsible for the error.  He disapproved of the custom in the Salt Lake Stake of Zion, in presenting the names of persons holding the Lesser Priesthood, who were recommended to be ordained Elders, for the vote of the Conference.  He urged that this should be done in the Ward meetings, wherever there is an organized branch, that, he said, was the proper place for such vote to be taken.  Where there was no organized branch of the Church, ordinations might be attended to by the proper persons, without such vote.  High Priests and High Counselors, were to be ordained by direction of a High Council or Conference.  Ward officers should be sustained in Ward Gatherings, Stake Officers in Stake gatherings.  He gave directions that this rule should be observed in future.  At the afternoon session President Angus M. Cannon gave instructions in reference to adhering to the written form in baptism . . . 

Elder F. M. Lyman spoke on the duty of the Patriarchs, and said the Presiding Patriarch could spend much of his time to advantage in teaching the other Patriarchs their duties.”  (JH 6 Jun., 1896)

17 Jun.:  Reversal of Lyman statement on ordination of Elders.

“The [First] Presidency also considered a resolution of the High Council of Salt Lake Stake of Zion in reference to the action of Apostle F. M. Lyman at the first meeting of the Stake Conference, June 7th, which was the Priesthood Meeting of the Stake.  He criticised the reading of minutes of the last month’s Priesthood meeting, and also the practice of passing upon members of the Lesser Priesthood who came there recommended by their respective Bishops to be ordained Elders.  He directed that this should not be done at the Stake Priesthood meetings, but in the Wards where they reside.  The High Council resolved that it did not recognize the right of an Apostle, of his own volition, to come into an organized Stake of Zion and abrogate a rule established by the President of the Church and endorsed by the High Council.  They did recognize the right of the First Presidency, either in person or by sending a representative, to change and set aside any rule or regulation that may have been established.  The First Presidency referred the communication to President Lorenzo Snow, to be acted upon by the Quorum of the Twelve.”  (JH 17 Jun., 1896)

“[22 Jun.]  President Lorenzo Snow called on the First Presidency and reported that he and a number of the Twelve had conversed with Elder F. M. Lyman in relation to the communication from the High Council of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion, and showed him that it was not the province of an Apostle to set aside usages established in an organized Stake, which was under the direction of the Stake Presidency.  Elder Snow stated further that the matter would be considered at the next quarterly meeting of the Apostles.  Elder Lyman, he said, expressed his perfect willingness to do anything in the matter that might be required of him.”  (JH 22 Jun., 1896)

Jun.:  Why ordain boys to the office of deacon?

“Again the question is asked as follows: ‘Paul says a deacon shall be a husband of one wife.  Why do we ordain boys?’

I Tim. iii:12, reads thus:

Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own house well.

The enquirer will probably observe that there is some difference between the words ‘shall be,’ which he uses, and the word ‘let,’ which is contained in the text.  I mention this in the hope that he and others will be more careful to put their questions in accordance with the text, and the facts referred to.  If then it is not absolutely commanded that a deacon ‘shall be the husband of one wife,’ but that he might or might not be, even though it would be better under some circumstances that he should be, the question assumes a more simple form.  The fact is that both Bishops and Deacons, as well as all other officers in the Church, would be much better fitted for their offices if all of them possessed the noble qualifications laid down by the Apostle Paul, for Bishops and Deacons.  But unfortunately they do not always possess, by a great deal, all of them.  And therefore young and inexperienced men, and even ‘boys’ are sometimes called to these positions, that they might be taught, educated and prepared for the responsible duties involved.  In the Apostle Paul’s day, the condition of the Church at Ephesus, where Timothy then presided, may have been such as to require a man of experience and wisdom to fill the office of a Deacon.  If so, the Apostle did well in admonishing Timothy to choose such men for the office.  He certainly held the authority, with his associates, to so direct, if conditions required.

Those who hold the keys of the Priesthood now also have the right to direct as Paul did, or to make any changes from the counsel he gave, which in their judgment might be necessary or proper.

But there is an interesting feature of these scriptures which I desire to mention.  In the literal translation of the Testament, I Tim., iii:1, the words ‘office of a Bishop’ in the orthodox version, are rendered, ‘overseership’ in the Greek, and the word ‘Bishop,’ second verse, ‘Overseer.’  And in the twelfth verse, the word Deacon is rendered, ‘those who serve,’ and in the thirteenth verse, ‘For they that have used the office of Deacon well,’ etc., are rendered, ‘For those well having served a degree for themselves good acquire,’ etc.

So that the duties assigned by Paul to the ‘overseers’ in the Church at Ephesus, have by modern translators been assigned to ‘Bishops,’ and the duties and positions of those who ‘served’ in Paul’s day have been applied to the office of the Deacon in more modern times.

That the duties to be performed by ‘those who served’–Deacons–at Ephesus, were of a character that men of experience and mature judgment were required to perform them, is evident from the strictness with which Paul enjoined it upon Timothy to select such men.  It is in our day very necessary at times to select wise, judicious, experienced and sober men to fill the office of Deacon in the Church, but it is not always necessary to do so; and, therefore, young men and even boys of tender years may be and often are chosen, ordained and set apart as Deacons, to act with and under the guidance of men of riper years and experience, thereby to fit them for the practical duties of the office.”  (Joseph F. Smith, “Important Questions Answered,” Contributor 17(8):471-472, Jun., 1896)

Jun.:  The form of baptism.

“Some of our young men who have recently been upon missions have taken the liberty, either through mis-information, or otherwise, to change the form of baptism in administering the ordinances to candidates.  Some years ago there were certain forms published in some of our Church papers which were a little different to that provided in the Doctrine and Covenants, and this doubtless is one cause of the variation in the form as provided by the Lord in His revelations.

This subject has recently been considered by the general authorities of the Church with the result that instructions are given to the Elders to strictly follow that which is given in the Doctrine and Covenants, addint nothing thereto and taking nothing therefrom.  Should occasion ever arise in the temple or in other places for any change it will be duly authorized of the Lord through His mouthpiece here upon the earth; otherwise, there is to be absolutely no variation from that which is written.

In confirming members in the Church, the Elder should also be very particular to seal upon the convert the Holy Ghost, and the Lord will distribute to the members of the Church such gifts as are most suited to them in their condition.  It is the privilege of all, however, to have the Holy Ghost, which is to be a constant source of strength and light to them so long as they are faithful in keeping their covenants.  We make note of these things, as many of the young men of the M.I.A. are now being sent upon missions, and while it is not the desire of the Lord or His servants to confine the Elders within rigid bounds in the performance of their duties, there are, nevertheless, certain ordinances and forms which must be strictly observed for the sake of order and righteousness.”  (Editorial, Contributor 17(8):516, Jun., 1896)

3 Jul.:  Where did Jesus get the Melchizedek Priesthood?

“The Deseret News editorially answers the question whether there is any authority in Scripture for the claim that Jesus Christ received the Melchisedek Priesthood from Moses and Elias at the time of the transfiguration, and says there is no such authority; that previous to that time he had called and ordained Peter, James and John as Apostles, that the date of the transfiguration, as it appears in the New Testament, was in the third year of the Savior’s ministry, and that the Apostles had been selected two years prior to that time.  The only intimation given as to the purpose of the visit is that Moses and Elias spoke to the Savior, ‘of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.'”  (JH 3 Jul., 1896)

9 Jul.:  Clarification of Declaration of Principles.

“Brother James H. Moyle, accompanied by Bishop H. B. Clawson of the 12th Ward, Salt Lake City, waited on the First Presidency in regard to the meaning of the Declaration of Principles enunciated by the Church at the April Conference.  There was a diversity of opinion in regard to its application.  Brother Moyle said he thought he understood it, but some Elders seemed to take the ground that it applied to every person in the Church.  President Woodruff explained that it applied to every man who held a presiding position in the Church, but was not intended to apply to lay members.  President Smith explained further that the reason for its promulgation was the position taken by some leading officials that they had the right to act politically without consultation with their brethren and the Presiding Authorities.  Brother Moyle said he felt perfectly satisfied with the explanation, and that he considered it a high privilege to be able to obtain the counsel of the servants of the Lord in matters of importance of every kind.”  (JH 9 Jul., 1896)

30 Jul.:  GA’s and business ventures.

“The First Presidency and Apostles met at the Temple, at 11 A.M.  There were present, Prests. Woodruff, Cannon, Smith and Snow; Elders B. Young, F. M. Lyman, J. H. Smith, Geo. Teasdale, H. J. Grant and J. W. Taylor.  The complaint of Mrs. Everard of London, England, was considered.  She had lent John W. Young money, and at the solicitation of Brother Alonzo E. Hyde, who was in London on business, had further advanced Brother Young $00 [$100?] pounds.  She could not obtain payment of these obligations, and considered she had been deceived by Brother Hyde, as well as Brother Young.  The Council decided that the Church could not become responsible for acts of this kind by its members; but the Presidency agreed to write to the President of the European Mission in regard to the matter.

Brother Alonzo E. Hyde being in London for the purpose of disposing of about 600,000 acres of land in Canada, contiguous to the settlements of the Saints, Elder John W. Taylor, who was about to start to London, being interested personally in this venture, he was called upon to explain the nature of the scheme.  Elder Taylor made a long explanation of his financial affairs, and stated that what he was doing to extricate himself from financial difficulties was by an understanding he had with his quorum.  It was the sense of the Council that Elder Taylor, before entering into such a gigantic scheme, should have consulted with the First Presidency, and that hereafter it should be understood by members of the Quorum of the Twelve that they cannot enter into business engagements which would take them away from the performance of their duties as Apostles, without first consulting and obtaining the permission of that quorum or of the First Presidency.”  (JH 30 Jul., 1896)

12 Aug.:  Rebaptism of a 16 year-old.

“John Ezra [Jacob] was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints when 8 years old Aug. 6 1888 by Tho. Bingham Jr. confirmed by his father Ordained a Deacon Mar. 16 1895 by R. Bodily [?] Rebaptized Aug. 12 1896 by Geo D. Merkley confirmed by G. R. Bennion.”  (Record of Norton Jacob, p. 12)

10 Sep.:  What efforts to reclaim inactive members?

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  President [Geo. Q.] Cannon related some of the experiences of the brethren on their visit to California.  He feared that the Elders were wasting valuable time in their efforts to reclaim members of the Church who had separated from the body of the Church, and had lost the spirit of the Gospel.”  (JH 10 Sep., 1896)

11 Sep.:  Church in dire financial straits.

“The First Presidency were all at their office today, and were much perplexed on monetary affairs, creditors of the Church pressing for payment and means not being at hand to meet those obligations.”  (JH 11 Sep., 1896)

15 Sep.:  Nephi couldn’t confer Holy Ghost.

“In the days of Nephi, long before Christ was born, the people were baptized by Nephi for the forgiveness of their sins.  Nephi did not have power to confer the Holy Ghost upon those who were baptized.  The Lord had told Nephi that Christ would come to the earth and would be baptized.  The Lord also told Nephi of the manner of Christ’s baptism.”  (“Our Little Folks,” JI 31(18):563, 15 Sep., 1896)

18 Sep.:  Talmage theological classes.

“Dr. James E. Talmage waited on the First Presidency today, and spoke of the series of theological lectures which he had delivered some time ago in the Assembly Hall, and stated that they were discontinued for fear that his position as President of the State University might be considered by non-Mormons incompatible with active duties as an Elder in the Church.  Many pershos had recently expressed a desire that he should reopen his theological class, and he was perfectly willing to do so irrespective of what might be said on the subject by outside parties.  The matter was discussed, and the subject postponed for the present until Conference with the Stake Presidency could be had.  Prest. G. Q. Cannon expressed the fear that advantage might be taken of Brother Talmage’s position if he recommenced this work, and efforts would be made looking to his removal from the University.  The matter was laid over for the present.”  (JH 18 Sep., 1896)

24 Sep.:  Can a murderer be rebaptized?

“The meeting of the First Presidency and Apostles at the Temple at 11 A.M.  Present:  Presidents W. Woodruff, G. Q. Cannon and L. Snow; Elders F. D. Richards, B. Young, F. M. Lyman, J. H. Smith, G. Teasdale and J. W. Taylor.  The case of a member of the Church who had killed a man, had suffered the penalty of imprisonment for the crime, and who now desired readmission to the Church by baptism, was presented by Elder F. M. Lyman.  His son had spoken impudently to a man, who slapped him in return.  A quarrel ensued between the two men, resulting in a struggle, when a pistol which the father had on his person, exploded accidentally, doing no damage.  But in the struggle the father of the boy killed his antagonist by shooting him more than once.  President Woodruff thought it too serious a thing to allow a man to be restored to the fellowship of the Saints who had been guilty of such a crime, and the subject was left without any formal action upon it.  President Cannon expressed his opinion that under the circumstances narrated, the first thing the criminal ought to do was to seek out the family of the man he had killed, and do all that he possibly could for that family.  Failing to do that he thought the repentance of the murderer would avail him little.  This view was endorsed by the Council.”  (JH 24 Sep., 1896)

24 Sep.:  Blessing of children.

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  Prest. G. Q. Cannon stated that the question had been asked him whether in blessing children a distinction should be made between those born in the covenant and those not born in the covenant.  He answered no.  He learned that the answer had created some feeling, as it had been the custom on the ward where the questioner lived, to pronounce the blessing of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob on children born in the covenant, but not on the others.  President Cannon asked the brethren of the Council whether they had heard of this distinction.  The answer was no.”  (JH 24 Sep., 1896)

29 Sep.:  Only GA’s should stay out of politics.

“President Angus M. Cannon of the Salt Lake Stake informed the First Presidency that he had been requested by leaders of the Republican Party to accept a nomination for the Legislature; but he did not wish to do so on account of his church position.  President Woodruff expressed his opinion that if all except the First Presidency, the Apostles, and the First Council of Seventies were left free to participate in politics and accept public office, it would have the effect of placing better men in public positions.  This was endorsed by President Cannon.  Brother Angus M. Cannon said he was willing to run for the office, if counseled to do so, but the Presidency declined to advise him, but left him free to do so, with the undestanding that he would not go on the stump in his own Stake.”  (JH 29 Sep., 1896)

30 Sep.:  1st Pres. statement on Sunday Schools:  CORRELATION.

“To the Presidents of Stakes and Bishops of Wards:

The question of conducting Sunday schools without interruption by General and Stake conference, Mutual Improvement associations, Relief Societies and Primary associations, has been brought to our attention several times, and some general counsel has been given, but not in such a form as to receive the attention it deserves.

Again the subject has been brought before us by the brethren who have spent years of their lives in the Sunday school cause and who are actively engaged in the management of the affairs of the Sabbath schools, and after due consideration we have decided that it should be understood throughout all the wards and Stakes of Zion that each Sunday morning shall be held exclusively for the Sabbath schools, and that no organization shall consider itself at liberty to use that part of the Sabbath to the prevention of Sabbath schools being held.

The general concensus of opinion among leading officers of the Church who have given this subject attentino is to the effect that the breaking up of the Sunday schools even for one Sunday has an injurious effect; and these schools are so imporrtant and they are doing so great an amount of good that we feel convinced that it is unwise to permit them to be suspended.  We have, therefore, concluded that this request which has been made upon us by the Deseret Sunday School Union is consistent and proper, and take this method to make it known throughout the Church.

It is our desire that the superintendents of Sunday schools be permitted to conduct their schools every Sunday morning without any interruption whatever, even on the Sabbath days when general or quarterly conferences may be held.  This is not intended to prevent other organizations holding conferences, provided that in so doing the Sunday schools are not stopped.

Wilford Woodruff,

George Q. Cannon,

Joseph F. Smith, First Presidency.”

(JH 30 Sep., 1896)

1 Oct.:  Financial condition of the Church.

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  President Woodruff expressed his feeling in regards to the burden of indebtedness which he was carrying as Trustee-in-Trust for the Church, and which had borne very heavily upon him of late.

President Cannon referring to the financial condition of the Church, remarked that if the ‘dedicated stock’ of the Bullion-Beck Company had been held according to agreement, the Church would have been in a financial position it never occupied before.  Three-fifths of the Bullion-Beck stock was in his hands at the death of President Taylor as a result of a solemn covenant entered into between President Taylor, John Beck and himself, to hold it for sacred purposes, and if this had been kept, the Church today would have been financially strong, and able to do anything it wanted to do.  President Cannon went on to explain that when he was in the penitentiary, he was informed by Brother F. S. Richards that it was the intention to sue him if he did not surrender the ‘dedicated stock’.  He replied that they might sue, and thereby let the Church and the world know who the covenant breakers were.  He perceived however, that it was a matter he could not allow to go into court, and he told Brother Moses Thatcher that his self respect would not permit him to hold this stock after what had occurred.  President Cannon said that if Brothers Moses Thatcher and John W. Taylor had united with him in preserving intact that solemn covenant which had been entered into, the Church would be in possession of ample means.  But in consequence of their receiving back that dedicated stock, John Beck on his return from Germany, demanded his stock also, which President Cannon returned, the amount being $50,000.

Elder John W. Taylor stated that so far as he was concerned he had never authorized Brother F. S. Richards to say anything to President Cannon in regard to a suit at law, nor did he know anything about ‘dedicated stock.’  It had always been represented as pooled stock.  He and his brother Geo. J. Taylor had handled the stock for his father’s family, and it would not have been sold by him to John Beck, if the Taylor family had not been accorded representation on the Board of Directors.  Up to the time of the sale to John Beck, the stock had always been represented to him as pooled stock, and he had never heard there was such a thing as revelation in regard to it.

President Cannon said Brother John W. Taylor must have known of the document signed by his father.  It was not a revelation.  President Taylor felt deeply impressed to enter into an agreement to buy the property of John Beck, if he would dedicate three-fifths of it to the Lord.  This was done, and three-fifths of the stock was placed in President Taylor’s hands and was held by him until his death.  When Brother John Beck came home and demanded his stock, President Cannon reminded him of the covenant which had been entered into.  His reply was that President Taylor’s family and Brother Moses Thatcher had got theirs and he wanted his, and Brother Cannon surrendered the Taylor family’s, Thatcher’s and Beck’s stock, and had kept a strict account with his own.

Elder John W. Taylor said a document was shown to him signed by his father in June, a month before his father’s death, and at that time his father was not in a condition to do business.

President Geo. Q. Cannonsaid though President Taylor was failing then he did not look upon him as incapable of doing business, and if Moses Thatcher and John W. Taylor had not broken up the dedicated stock, and had been disposed to carry out President Taylor’s wishes in regard to it, the stock would now have been in possession of the Church.  He had spoken with great freedom to Brother John W. Taylor, because he was the son of the dearest friend he ever had.  Brother Cannon did not believe that Brother John W. Taylor had intentionally done wrong, he believed that he had been misguided, and that if he could have discerned the influences that were operating at the time he would have acted differently in regard to this matter.  If he had hurt Brother Taylor’s feelings he would willingly ask his forgiveness.

Brother John W. Taylor said it would be a humiliation for himself to have Brother Cannon ask his pardon, but he nevertheless felt to ask President Cannon’s pardon, and said further Brother Thatcher had informed him that the stock was ‘pooled stock’, but that after President Taylor’s death it was called dedicated stock.  Brother Taylor said his brother George at one time came to him with a letter from Brother Thatcher, the tenor of which went to show Moses Thatcher in the light of a hero fighting for the interest of the Taylor family, and he John W. was asked to attest the truth of it by appending his signature.  This he refused to do, remarking at the time, that Moses Thatcher had never done anything in the matter excepting in his own interest.  He told his brother George to tell Moses what he had said, and he never heard any more of the document.

President Cannon and Brother Taylor were both pleased that they had arrived at a mutual understanding on this matter, and united with the very best of feelings.

During the consideration of this matter, President Woodruff stated that Brother Moses Thatcher came to him while Prest. G. Q. Cannon was in prison, and told him that he was going to sue President Cannon because he held stock and means which belonged to him.  President Woodruff said he told Bro. Thatcher if he did this it would be the worst move he had ever made.”  (JH 1 Oct., 1896)

[2 Oct.]  “Elder F. S. Richards called on the First Presidency at their office this morning, and after transacting some business, President Geo. Q. Cannon asked him if he remembered calling on him in the Penitentiary on business connected with the Bullion-Beck Company, and telling him that if the ‘dedicated stock’ belonging to the Taylor heirs, was not surrendered to them, suit would be entered for its recovery.  Brother Franklin S. Richards remembered it, and said it was perfectly true.  Elder Brigham Young, who was pressent this morning, asked Brother Richards if he conveyed that message by authority.  The answer was in the affirmative.”  (JH 2 Oct., 1896)

“SALT LAKE CITY, OCT. 1st, 1896.



We feel constrained to ask the brethren who compose the Councils of the various quorums of Seventies if they accept fully and unreservedly the article on Church discipline (by some miscalled a Manifesto) read and adopted at the last Annual General Conference of the Church.  Please let us know i[f] any of your number do not, that we may labor with them in the spirit of brethren and friends, for it is not consistent that we should pass this subject lightly by without proper investigation, while the leading quorums of the Priesthood of the Church are taking action with their members.  That you may KNOW each other, as well as be acquainted with the condition of the Quorum, we say do not neglect to hold your council meetings regularly and frequently.

We are also pained to learn that some few of the Presidents of Quorums neglect to pay their tithing, are careless about the observance of the Word of Wisdom, or to speak more plainly, indulge in the use of strong drinks and tobacco, and are very inattentive to their duties as Seventies.  Brethren, come into line, see that there are none such in your Council.  If there are, call upon them to repent, for it is useless for us to expect healthy, vigorous quorums when the members of the Council are setting an improper example.  When the head is sick the whole body suffers.

Again, kindly favor us by remitting at your earliest convenience the amount due from your Quorum on Seventies’ General Fund.  Promptness on this matter will be appreciated, for we are entirely without means.  Let us hear from you promptly on all these points.

Your Brother in the Gospel,


In behalf of the First Council of Seventies.”  (Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 10, Fd 1, Seymour B. Young to Presidents of Various Quorums of Seventies, 1 Oct 1896)

7 Oct.:  Financial condition of the Church.

“A meeting was held in the Assembly Hall at 10 A.M. of the General Authorities of the Church, Presidents of Stakes and their counselors, High Councilors, Bishops and their counselors.  It was a large gathering. . . .

President Woodruff then spoke on the financial condition of the Church, its liabilities and the need of money which he as trustee-in-trust, would be glad to borrow for the Church if any of the brethren would like to loan it.

President Joseph F. Smith spoke on this financial question, and also on the duty of the Elders to extend a saving influence as far as possible over their children, and spoke of the course that was being pursued by many of the sons and daughters of Zion, which was not commendable.”  (JH 7 Oct., 1896)

15 Oct.:  Succession of Priesthood.

“The religious world has always been greatly divided upon the question of authority to officiate in the ordinances of the Gospel.  Some of the churches have deemed it very important to be able to trace a succession of priesthood from the days of the Apostles until the present time.  This is notable the case with the Church of Rome.  The Lutheran Church, and what is known as the Church of England, have also attached considerable importance to the succession of authority.  There has been an attempt made recently by the Church of England to obtain recognition from Rome of its orders as being valid; but the commission that was appointed to enquire into this question reported adversely to its claims. . . .

These discussions and contentions in the religious world ought to make the Latter-day Saints exceedingly thankful for that which they have received.  There are hundreds of churches which profess to be of Christ, and yet they differ very widely in their teachings and in their religious practices.  They cannot, in the very nature of things, all be right; in fact, it is contrary to the whole spirit of the Savior’s teachings to imagine that there can be more than one church which He would call His.  It is simply ridiculous to suppose that the Savior, who prayed so earnestly to His Father for union among His disciples, would fail to desire and to command that His people should be one, or that the Holy Ghost would rest upon thousands of people of different denominations and teach them to be divided and disunited.  Nothing more clearly sustains the position that the Latter-day Saints take and the testimony they bear concerning the establishment of the Lord’s church in these last days than the diversity of sects and of doctrines that are taught in the so-called Christian world.  What possible hope could any earnest seeker after truth receive from these different denominations when the lack of authority is so apparent?  It is not to be wondered at that sincere Protestants turn their eyes toward Rome and many of them take refuge in that church, because there is a consistency in the claims of the Church of Rome to Apostolic succession.  But those claims are not supported by the facts of history.  That church lost the authority of the Priesthood through transgression.  The Priesthood was undoubtedly taken back to God.  The men who bore it were slain, and none were left to continue its succession.

Hence the position that our Church occupies is the only logical position.  The Prophet Joseph Smith testified that he and Oliver Cowdery were ordained by men who once held the Priesthood on the earth.  John the Baptist, who held the authority to baptize, and who did baptize the Son of God himself, came and laid his hands on the heads of Joseph and Oliver, and restored to men on the earth the authority which he held while in the flesh.  In like manner the Apostles Peter, James and John appeared unto them and ordained them to the Apostleship and Priesthood which they held.  By means of these ordinations the authority was once more rstored which was necessary for the organization of the Church and for the administration of the saving ordinances of the Gospel.

We are relieved, therefore, as a people, from the necessity of discussing Apostolic succession and from contentions whether it is necessary for men to be ordained by proper authority in order to become ministers of Jesus Christ.  All doubt and uncertainty concerning these points were swept away by the knowledge that the Apostleship has been restored to the earth from a source which leaves its validity without question.  The position of this Church on these points is impregnable.  The proofs of what the Lord has done in restoring the authority to man on the earth again are found in the fruits which have followed its restoration.  All the evidences of God’s favor which attended the Church in ancient days under the administration of the Apostles of the Lord Jesus are to be found in and accompanying the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  That church is distinguished from all other churches on the earth, in that it possesses in fullness the gifts and graces and the divine manifestations of favor which the Church of Jesus Christ of Former-day Saints possessed.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 31(20):609-610, 15 Oct., 1896)

Oct.:  Items on Aaronic Priesthood.

“Boys should be ordained Deacons at 12 yrs. & serve 3 yrs. & then be ordained teachers & serve three years, & then be ordained priests 3 yrs. by which time they will have graduated.  (Bro. Lyman)

Men should not be ordained Elders simply because they marry.

The bishop is president of the teachers quorum & no other president is needed.

Q quorum of 24 teachers may have a president & councellors but the acting teachers need no president except B[isho]p.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, inside cover of diary for October, 1896)

5 Nov.:  Change in Fast Day.

“[Meeting of 1st Pres. and 12 in the Temple]  President J. F. Smith introduced the subject of fast meetings, suggesting that a change of the time from the first Thursday to the first Sunday in each month would probably be beneficial.  This was endorsed by President Cannon, and after other brethren had spoken on the subject, it was decided that the Tabernacle services be dispensed with on the first Sunday of each month, and that the Saints in this City, as well as in the country wards, should have the privilege of meeting in their ward meeting houses at 2 o’clock P.M. to observe fast day.”  (JH 5 Nov., 1896)

7 Nov.:  Public notice of change in Fast Meetings.

“The following card from the First Presidency in relation to fast meetings, was published in the Deseret News this evening:


To the officers and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Dear Brethren and Sisters–It has been a practice in the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, sanctioned by the word of the Lord, to fast and pray, and in this manner to seek for that faith which Saints should possess, and obtain that spirit of humility which we are commanded to cultivate.

Shortly after the arrival of the people in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, the first Thursday in each month was set apart as a day of fasting and prayer.  The members of the Church were enjoined to bring on that day their contributions for the relief and sustenance of the poor, and hand them to the Bishop of the ward.

At the time of the adoption of this regulation it was very convenient for the people generally to meet together in their places of worship on that day.  The conditions were such that they, being of one faith, employers and employed, could leave their labor and devote a few hours to the worship of the Lord.  For many years these meetings were well attended, and they were of a most interesting character, and were a comfort and a strength to all who shared in them, as it was the practice for persons of both sexes to bear their testimony and take active part in them in each ward under the direction of the bishopric.

As the years rolled by, conditions changed, and it became more difficult for the people generally, and especially those in steady employment, to attend these meetings, until at the present time they have dwindled to such an extent that comparatively few have the opportunity of attending them.  Thursday as a day of fasting and prayer in the Church no longer serves the object for which it was intended.

Our attention has been called to this subject, and after mature deliberation, it has been decided to change the day that has heretofore been devoted to this purpose.  Instead of the customary assemblages in the various wards throughout Zion on the first Thursday in each month, we have concluded to set apart the first Sunday in every month as the day for the regular fast meeting.

Hereafter, therefore, we desire the Latter-day Saints, under the direction of the Presidents of Stakes and the Bishops, to meet in their several places of worship on the afternoon of the first Sunday in each month, whenever it can be done conveniently, and devote the meeting to the administration of the Sacrament, to the bearing of testimony by the members of the Church, to the blessing of children and the confirming of members in the Church, and to such other services as have usually been attended to at such meetings.  We feel assured that excellent results will follow the giving of members of the Church an opportunity to bear their testimony to each other and to seek for the gifts which the Lord has promised those who keep His commandments.

Care should also be taken on such occasions to see that the wants of the poor are relieved by the contributions of the Saints in their behalf, that no cry of the indigent or suffering shall arise from our land in the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

In Salt Lake City, instead of the people meeting in the Tabernacle on the afternoon of the first Sunday in each month, we have concluded that it will be better for that service to be dispensed with, and for the Latter-day Saints to meet in their several wards on that afternoon, so as to give all the members of the ward, including the aged and infirm, and others who are unable to go to the Tabernacle, an opportunity to participate in the fast meeting and share in the blessings of the occasion.  In other Stakes where general meetings are held as in this city, we suggest that they also be dispensed with on the first Sunday of each month, and that the Saints meet in their places of worship in the several wards.

In some places the custom has arisen to consider it a fast to omit eating breakfast.  this is not in accordance with the views and practices of the past.  When fasts were observed in the early days, it was the rule to not partake of food from the previous day until after the meeting in the afternoon of the fast day.  In making donations to the poor also it has been the understanding that the food that would be necessary for the two meals should be donated to the poor, and as much more as to those who are liberally inclined and have the means may feel disposed to give.

In giving this counsel to the Church upon this subject, we include all the missions where the Elders are laboring, either in the United States or in foreign lands.  We think this arrangement will suit the convenience and circumstances of all the Latter-day Saints throughout the world, and we would like it to be observed by all the organized branches of the Church in every land, so that our fasting and praying may be uniform and the time be understood by all.

Before closing this address to the Saints, we feel led to say that if there should be sickness or any evil resting upon or threatening the people, these meetings furnish an excellent opportunity to bring such afflictions and troubles before the Lord.  By approaching Him in the spirit of humility and union, we can supplicate Him to remove these afflictions or evils from the individuals or from the people.  Our past experience has proved to us how willing our Father in Heaven is to hear our cries in the hours of extremity and difficulty, when we approach Him in a proper spirit and with proper faith.  He is quick to hear the cries of His people, and He has promised us that if we will draw near unto Him, He will draw near unto us.  Such occasions as these, therefore, ought to be taken advantage of by the afflicted, whether in an individuial or in a collective capacity.

We are your brethren,

Wilford Woodruff,

George Q. Cannon,

Joseph F. Smith, First Presidency.”

(JH 7 Nov., 1896)

15 Nov.:  Secret Orders.

“The power of secret organizations which exist in Utah, as elsewhere, has been exhibited largely in political matters, and lately in Municipal affairs, and the indications are that elections for city officers are largely under the control of these organizations.  The subject is agitated through the press, and while strong assertions are made supported by apparent evidence, the fact is denied by those who ought to know, and no means appears to be available to substantiate what is alleged.  It is believed, however, that the secret orders which have obtained a foothold in the chief cities of Utah, are able to exercise much more power than appears upon the surface.  The Deseret News denounces the influence of those orders in politics.”  (JH 15 Nov., 1896)

19 Nov.:  Moses Thatcher censure.

“The quorum met in the Historian’s Office to consider the case of Moses Thatcher.  He had been notified that a meeting would be held there to consider and take action on his case.  He sent a letter pretending that he did not know if he were wanted.  This is plainly a trifling with his brethren.  We met according to his request a week ago and he srote us he would not meet with us but wanted a public investigation.  He was answered by Prest. L. Snow that it was a matter only between him and his quorum and that no witnesses were necessary it was for him to come and make himself one with his quorum.  He could not help knowing that when we notified him of the time and place of meeting it was for his benefit that he might meet.  All the brethren expressed themselves in regard to him, and though all felt sympathy with him and would have done anything to keep him, they felt that in spirit he was opposed to the rest of his brethren.  He has expressed himself that he would fight the encroachments of the Church and protect the youth from its tyranny.  What influence can he have to inspire its young men with faith in divine institutions?  He professes to believe in the divinity of hte Church and then pours into doubting minds the suspicion that the prophets of God would be tyrants and abusers of power. It was unanimously resolved that his priesthood and apostleship be taken from him.  This was sent to the news and published.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 19 Nov., 1896; LDS Archives)

21 Nov.:  Can a man be deprived of priesthood and remain member

“[Conference in Nephi] Between meetings we met in the Stake office and ordained Theodore Anderson to be High priest and set him apart to be counselor to Bishop Bagley of the ____ ward.  The question came up: Can a man be deprived of his priesthood and keep his standing as a member?  It used to be said if a man was not worthy to keep his priesthood he was not worthy to remain in the Church.  An Epistle from the Seventies was referred to in this regard.  I told them if I remember it rightly, it instructed the quorum to deal with such persons and disfellowship them in their quorum capacity and then turn them over to the high council.  This position would rather be in the affirmative of the question.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 21 Nov., 1896; LDS Archives)

21 Dec.:  Common consent vs. dissent.

“The Deseret News of Jan. 8, 1897 publishes the following correspondence between Elder C. A. Smuirthwaite of Ogden City and Elder B. H. Roberts of the First Council of Seventies.  The letter from Brother Smuirthwaite was not written apparently for publication, but in view of its importance to the public, and more particularly to the Latter Day Saints, it was deemed advisable by the authorities of the Church to print both letters, as it was necessary that Brother Roberts’ explanations should be given publication, and this could not be fairly done without publishing in extense the letter from Brother Smuirthwaite, to which it was an answer:


Ogden, Utah, Dec. 21st, 1896.

Elder B. H. Roberts, Centerville, Utah:

Dear Brother:

There seems to be a well defined and growing idea among an important portion of the thinkers of our Church that the leaders are saddling the Lord with some things for which He is not responsible.  The feeling exists that the name of the Lord is used too freely, when pertaining to matters upon which there ought to be charity.  The admitted truism for unity in things essential, liberty in things non-essential, but in all things charity, seems to have been abrogated; at any rate, that is what a great many are thinking, because it appears to be impossible for any man to express an opinion dissenting from the views of the leaders without being threatened with the loss of his ecclesiastical position, and with the fear of concomitant complications in his political or commercial fortunes.

These things are fast destroying the faith of the people, especially of the younger classes, and if their faith is once shaken they will have to live infidel, and will, in all human probability, reach the final resting place believing that God’s authority on the earth has been a phantom–the cloak of designing men.

The true, and best, and only loyalty to the Church in the present unfortunate crisis seems to me to defend the right of free speech wheich, wnatever denial may be attempted, is not a fact in Utah at the present time.  Free speech may exist theoretically but not in fact to all intents and purposes.

I have reason to believe that you stand in the front rank of the nobler thought in Utah, and because of your exceptional mental and physical qualifications ought to be the foremose champion of the people in their ability to govern their Church instead of permitting its affairs to be entirely dominated, as at present by a few.

A series of leading articles in the DESERET NEWS published at various times in November sets up the right of the Church leaders, specifying the First Presidency, to ‘make, alter, change or revoke the laws’ of the Church.  Confirmatory of this view, (revoking it is to be reasonably assumed the laws of the Church with reference to the attitude of the First Presidency towards civil affairs), the DESERET NEWS presumes to voice the sentiments of the body of the Church in the declaration (see editorial of Nov. 17th last) that the election of a certain man (referring to Moses Thatcher) to tue United States Senate by the coming Utah Legislature would be an ‘insult’ to the body of the Church.  I say ‘presumes’ because it is impossible that the NEWS can have any means of knowing the sentiments of the body of the Church, although doubtless fully and officially representing the view of one or two leaders.

The Doctrine and Covenants distinctly lays down the principle of Church government by ‘common consent,’ a principle which concedes the right of discussion and of dissent.  There can be no common consent if the people cannot dissent without incurring the displeasure of the authorities.  That dissenters do incur this displeasure if they presume to dissent from the mere whim of certain leaders you are probably as well able to testify to as any man in Utah; the Philistines have been after you more than once.

If the First Presidency has the right to ‘change, alter, or revoke, or make laws’ for the Church, common consent is obsolete, as there can never exist two supreme law making powers in any organization at one and the same time.

If the doctrine of common consent is true, and God has so declared it, and nothing can be done in the Church without it, it is only reasonable to imply that, if the common consent is withheld, there rests no authority in the First Presidency to ‘make, alter, change, or revoke the laws.’

I am one of those who believe every man holding the Priesthood is responsible to God for the conduct of the affairs of the Church, and for its purity.  Believing thus it becomes my duty to use whatever ability and influence I may have in the suppression of wrong-doing in the Church regardless by whom done, realizing that the liability to err is as great in the presiding quorum of the Church as in the lowest.  Infallibility is the Gibraltar upon which absolutism is safe, but before which the pillars of liberty crumble to dust.

It is with prof[o]und regret that I find myself unable to accept the so-called manifesto as the word of the Lord, or the policy that it is the duty of every member of the church to carry out.  On the other hand, I believe it is the duty of every man, viewing the subject as I view it, to do all he can towards its repeal.

That you once held a similar position, whatever change your views may have undergone since, I have every reason to believe, because I was present on April 7th last (the day after the manifesto was read and adopted at general conference, and after it had obtained your signature) at the residence of Moses Thatcher in Salt Lake when you, in connection with some others, administered the ordinance of the sick to Brother Thatcher.  You will remember you were mouth.  I reported the blessing in short hand, sitting by the side of Brother Thatcher, and you then made use of the following language:

And now, O God the Eternal Father, in all humility we appeal unto Thee in behalf of this brother; and we uphold him before Thee in our heart’s best love.  We ask Thee, Our Father, to remember all his faithfulness and devotion unto Thee and to Thy great cause in the earth; to have respect unto this Thy servant and to give unto us the life of this man, and to the Church of Christ and this man a life of usefulness in the future.

Our Father, we will not let him go, and we ask Thee to have respect unto the Priesthood and authority which thou hast given unto us.  We ask Thee to hear our petition in his behalf.  And, O Father, do thou bless him, as in the name of Jesus Christ we bless him, and may health and strength be given unto him from this time henceforth, that he may begin to mend, and that Thy power may rest upon him, that he may become powerful and strong to plead for the rights and liberties of Thy people.  To this end we petition Thee, and ask Thee to bless this Thy servant.  And, Brother Moses, in the name of the Lord we say unto thee, ‘Be thou made whole,’ that thy recovery may begin from this hour, and we command it, in all humility; but in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

It is evident that, at this time, your opinion was that the liberties of the people were jeopardized, and in view of the controversy then existing it is but fair to assume that these liberties were placed in jeopardy, in your judgment, by the manifesto which, for reasons best known to you, you had been led unconscientiously to sign.

It is probably true that there exists in Utah today a condition which makes it necessary, or in your opinion advisable, for you to hold in abeyance the opinions you honestly entertain on this subject, and the object of this letter is not in any wise to influence you to reverse yourself.  My design is rather to point out the evil which cannot fail to develop to the people of Utah and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the continuance of a policy, the tendency of which is so wantonly in the direction of the destruction of the faith of the young people in God.

The conditions heretofore dwelt upon make it almost impossible for this question to be fought out and settled in the Church, because the DESERET NEWS, apparently voicing the sentiments of the First Presidency, has laid down the principle that, in them, rests the authority to ‘make, alter, change, or revoke the laws.’  It is self-evident that this is subversive of the rights of every member of the Church, annihilating the doctrine of ‘common consent,’ and reducing our membership to the position of mere automatons.

Permit me, however, to suggest that the question may be determined quite effectively by the election of Brother Moses Thatcher to the United States Senate, believing, as I do, that the great body of the Church would feel honored rather than insulted at such a happy consummation.  Your powers of body, heart and intellect cannot better be utilized for the welfare of the young State of Utah than in championing this cause before the Legislature.  His election ould be accepted by the self-sufficient leader whose personal ambition to become the dictator of the Church is widely believed, as a warning of the people that, although their voice is now impotent in the councils of the Church, in the affairs of State it is omnipotent.

Wishing you the compliments of the season, and with sentiments of high personal esteem, I am

Your Brother in the Gospel,


Salt Lake City, Utah,

December 22nd, 1896.

Elder —–, Ogden, Utah.

Dear Brother–What I must consider as your very extraordinary communication of the 21st inst. to hand this evening.  My first thought was to excuse myself from making any reply to it, on the ground of being hurried, first with my preparations for returning to my missionary labors in the east; second, of being harassed with business cares at present; and, third, a desire to spend the few remaining days between this and my departure for the east, quietly with my family, without being drawn into the consideration of those matters to which your letter invites my attention.

On second thought, however, it occurred to me that the matters of which your letter treat are of such importance, that if I could throw any light upon the subject, it was my duty to do so, even though it should be at the sacrifice of my personal convenience and desire to escape from entering into any controversy concerning the question involved.

You inform me that the faith of the people in the Gospel, ‘especially the younger classes’ is being destroyed by the things referred to in your letter; and if that be true, or if the faith of one even is being destroyed it is cause enough to make one set aside mere considerations of convenience and do what he can to stay the destruction of faith in God’s great work.  Hence I attempt an answer to your communication.

For convenience I have grouped the leading topics of your letter under what appears to me to be appropriate headings, and shall offer such remarks upon each as the state of the facts and the principles involved seem to warrant.  In said grouping, I may not have followed your letter strictly as to the order in which you have set down the several items, but I have done so as nearly as I could, and preserve the relation of the items to each other.





You begin by saying that ‘the admitted trueism for unity in things essential, liberty in things nonessential, but in all things charity, seems to be abrogated,’ meaning of course, in the present policy of the Church.  You claim that the right of dissent from the views of the leaders of the Church is infringed, and that ‘whatever denial may be attempted,’ the right of free speech is not a fact in Utah at the present time.  To say that I was somewhat more than mildly surprised at this statement, is speaking within bounds.  For a moment I was tempted to inquire what change had taken place in our young and, I hope, thriving State, during the six months of my absence on missionary labors.  But of course, I knew no change had come in that time; that nothing had occurred to destroy the right guaranteed in the young state’s constitution concerning religious freedom, or the liberty of the individual, or of the press, to say whatever it was thought necessary for the individual or press to say, each being responsible of course, for any abuse of that liberty.  But I think I see how anxious you are at this point to say you did not mean that any restriction had been put on free speech, or the freedom of the press by act of the state, but only that one cannot dissent from the opinions of the leaders of the Church, or indulge in what you would call ‘free speech’ without incurring the displeasure of the Church leaders, ‘without,’ in fact, ‘being threatened with the loss of his ecclesiastical position, and with the fear of concomitant complications in his political or commercial fortunes.’  In thinking of free speech and the right to dissent from the opinion of those in authority I never did so without taking into account the responsibility and consequences attendant upon the exercise of that liberty.

We are free, thank God, but we must be ready in the exercise of that freedom to accept without murmuring its responsibilities, and the consequences attendant upon its exercise.  To put an extreme case:  You and I believe that a man is at liberty to reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ; but we also believe that if one so exercises his liberty to reject it, he will be under condemnation; and if he persists in it he will go to hell.  But because of this, can we say that the liberty of man does not exist?  Certainly not.  If a man elects to make such use of his freedom as to bring upon himself condemnation and sorrow, he ought not on that account to charge it to the want of liberty.  If he deliberately chooses to take that course which leads to hell, he ought not to complain when he gets there because he does not find the joys of heaven.  And this principle here presented by an extreme case may be seen operating variously modified all along the line of human experience.  The blatant atheist can, if he chooses, deride the faith of the christian, and turn to ridicule what to that Christian is the sublimest thing under the sun; and atheists often do that; but it is not to be supposed that the blatant infidel can take that course and retain the respect and friendship of the Christian.  But because the atheist loses the confidence and esteem of his Christian fellow citizen by this exercise of his right to free speech, can we say that freedom of speech does not exist?  The atheist exercises his liberty, but he loses the esteem of the Christian.  That is the price he pays for the exercise of his liberty.  It is for him to determine whether it pays or not.  A man dissents from the opinions of our Church leaders; he is at liberty to do that, he is at liberty even to oppose a policy they may determine upon, but if so, in the nature of things, can he hope to have his course approved by them?  And if he, himself, is holding an official position that gives great weight to his opposition, can it be expected that they will sustain him in that position?  If these questions were put in relation to a matter deemed by you essential or vital to the Church, you yourself would not hesitate to say that such an officer ought to be deposed.  But you will say that you are only pleading for ‘liberty in things non-essential.’  But who is to judge of what is vital and essential, and what is not?  I grant you it is not always easy to determine on which particular side of the line a given action may fall, whether on the side of the essential or non-essential; but clearly in a matter affecting the government of the Church the constituted authority of that Church, whether considered as consisting of its great presiding councils, or the body of the Church, or both of these combined, is the proper authority to decide what is vital and essential and what non-essential.  If individuals disagree with that conclusion and rebel against it, they have no just cause of complaint if they lose somewhat the fellowship of those who acquiesce in the conclusion that the matter is vital and essential.  In the matter of the ‘manifesto,’ to which your letter refers, it was adjudged by the brethren constituting the general authorities of the Church whose signatures were attached to it, to involve a principle vital in the government of the Church, and that conclusion was confirmed by the action of the general Conference of the Church, and subsequently by the action of the conferences at the Stakes, so that the Church has passed upon that matter, it is the law of the Church, and those who now undertake to overthrow it, are guilty, in my judgment, of seeking to destroy a Church regulation, decided by the proper authority within the Church to be vital and essential to its government.  If there are individuals who refuse to accept this conclusion of the Church, that is their right, that is, they are at liberty to take that course, and there is no power in the Church, or out of it, to prevent them; they can speak against it, or write against it, denounce it and refuse to be governed by it.  They have full liberty to do all this, and so long as this is possible, the freedom of speech is maintained; but they have no just cause to complain that the freedom of speech is infringed if their co-religionists refust to fellowship them in such a course.  The situation helps to illustrate that while liberty is a glorious thing, it is also a solemn thing attended by grave responsibilities, and, if a wrong use is made of it, followed by serious consequences from which there is no escaping.





On this head you say that ‘these things are fast destroying the faith of the people, especially of the younger classes, and if their faith is once shaken, they will have to live infidel, and will, in all human probability, reach the final resting place believing that God’s authority on the earth has been a phantom–the cloak of designing men.’  You are mistaken, my friend.  Not even the faith of the younger classes is of such a sickly hue as this paragraph of your letter paints it.  In my judgment, the faith of our people will not wither into a belief that ‘God’s authority on earth has been a phantom,’ even if it should ever happen that the chief authorities of the Church shoud make serious mistakes, or be guilty of doing positive injustice to individuals.  Though the Presidency of the Church should violate every principle of the Gospel, and outrage every sense of justice and humanity, it would still remain true that God revealed Himself to Joseph Smith, gave him power to bring forth the Book of Mormon, and through the ministry of angels did restore the holy Priesthood and gave him a commandment to organize the Church of Christ on earth.  The action of the First Presidency, or of the Twelve, however unjust, cannot affect these truths; and I must give the Saints, both the old and the young, more credit for clearheadedness than your views would accord to them, when you say that the denial of the right of dissent, and of the freedom of speech (even if it were true, which I do not allow), is destroying the faith of the people in the great work of God.  I must think that the faith of the people is better founded than that view would represent it to be.  If in the future the time should ever come that the high offices of the Church should fall into the hands of corrupt and designing men, I can not believe that the Saints would forsake the truths of which the Spirit of God has borne record to them, and conclude that they are myths, because of the actions of men; on the contrary, I should look to see the Saints, true to their sublime faith, arise under the power of the living God and by the means appointed in the Church, reject such men, and make way for the appointment of others who would not abuse the power of the Priesthood.



After paying me what you mean to be, a personal compliment, you say I ‘ought to be the foremost champion of the people in their ability to govern their Church, instead of permitting its affairs to be entirely dominated, as at present, by a few.’  I merely refer to this in passing, in order to say, first; that you seem to take no account of the fact that the Church is the Church of Jesus Christ, as well as the Church of the Latter-day Saints.  And that the Lord Jesus has retained some rights in the matter of its government, as well as having conferred some rights in the Church government upon the Saints, and of which more will be said under the next heading; second, to say that so far as I am able to judge, the people now have their full share of power in the affairs of the Church.  The officers of the Church are presented to them in their Stakes four times a year, and in the General Conferences twice a year, and if the conduct of any one, or all of them, is insufferable, they can be rejected, or if any one of them is guilty of gross sin, no matter how high in authority he may be, there exist tribunals before which he may be accused, and if guilty, condemned, and if unrepentant, he can be cast out.  As long as these conditions exist, I cannot see that the people stand in need of any champion as against the Church authorities.




Your communication emphasizes the doctrine of common consent to the exclusion, as I think, of other considerations, chiefly the right of the voice of the Lord to a place in the government of the Church.  I would not for the world be understood as saying anything in disparagement of the great doctrine of common consent.  It appeals too strongly to my disposition for me to do that.  It is a principle that challenges at once my admiration and approval.  When I read the fact that previous to the organization of the Church the Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph, before attempting such an organization, to call together his brethren, and ascertain if they were willing that he should proceed to organize the Church, and if they would sustain Joseph Smith as the first and Oliver Cowdery as the second Elders, that is, presiding Elders in the Church, I great marveled at the condescension of God.  The Lord had called Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and had given them the holy Apostleship before this.  He gives His authority, which is His Priesthood, to whom He will; but when they are to exercise that authority over others, it can only be done by the consent of those to be governed, and hence the law of the Church subsequently formulated: ‘No person is to be ordained to any office in this Church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that Church.’  Thus from the beginning the government of the Church has been established on the consent of the governed, and I especially call your attention to the fact that no step of importance in respect to the affairs of the Church has ever been taken, but what the matter has been submitted for the approval of the people.  The action of President Woodruff in the discontinuance of plural marriages, and the adoption of this late rule in respect to politics, are recent illustrations and proofs of my statement.  Of course, in the routine of administration of affairs in the Church it is not practical or necessary to submit every movement made to the people.  But the rightfulness and grandeur of the principle of common consent conceded, and ample provision made against the abuse of authority byi providing for frequent elections on the principle of acceptance, there yet remains something else to consider in church government.

At the very meeting at which the Church was organized in 1830, and before the session which witnessed the organization was adjourned, the Prophet received a revelation, in which occurs this passage: ‘Behold, there shall be a record kept among you, and in it thou (meaning Joseph) shall be called a Seer, a translator, a Prophet, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, an Elder of the Church through the will of God the Father and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. * * * Weherefore, meaning the Church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me.  For his words ye shall receive as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith; for by doing these things the gats of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness, and cause the heavens to shake for your good and His name’s glory.’  This same power inheres in all succeeding presidencies of the Church, and applies to President Woodruff today as it did to the Prophet Joseph Smith in his day, and to this fact I do not think you have attached sufficient importance, elese you would not take such earnest exceptions to what you call the DESERET NEWS setting up the right of the First Presidency ‘to make, alter, change, or revoke the laws’ of the Church.  I have not read the editorials of the DESERET NEWS to which you allude, but certainly the NEWS did not set up that doctrine; that doctrine is as old as the Church itself.  The very day and hour the Church was organized the Lord constituted the President of the Church its Prophet, Seer and law-giver, strictly commanding the Church to give heed ‘to all His words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them. * * * for his words’ said the Lord ‘ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.’  (Doc. & Cov. xxi.)  I do not think the DESERET NEWS put it stronger than that.  It is the President of the Church that receives the revelations of God and announces the law to the Church.  This is the law-making power of the Church; there is no other.  The people do not legislate for the Church.  The voice of the people is not the voice of the Lord, only as their voice is united with and becomes the same as the voice of God.  It is from this source–the revelations of God through the Prophet–President of the Church–that the Church has received its knowledge of the Gospel and the power of the Priesthood.  It is true that these revelations, as they have been received from time to time, have been presented to the members of the Church for their acceptance, and up to the present there always has been an overwhelming majority of the Saints who have been sufficiently enlightened by the Spirit of God to accept the word of the Lord through His Prophet and carry it out, and my faith is that it will always be so in this dispensation, for the reason that God has promised us that He will consummate His work in this dispensation.  Of course, if it should transpire that the Church should reject the word of the Lord through His Prophet, as they have the liberty to do if they so elect, then they would not change the truth or the law, but would in effect say: ‘We will not accept the law of God;’ and if that unhappy time ever comes, they must assume the full responsibility of the act which rejects the counsels of God.  You will perhaps remember the fact that ancient Israel once did this in a very remarkable manner when they rejected the mild government of the judges and clamored for a king, that they might be like other nations; and when Samuel took the matter to the Lord, he was commanded to let them have their way, to give them a king, and apparently for the encouragement of Samuel, the Lord said: ‘They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should reign over them.’  (I Samuel, viii.)  All of which the Prophet did, but without avail, and Israel by a sad experience through long periods of tyranny by reason of kingly rule learned how solemn a thing it was to reject the word of God.

But you seem to think that the power above referred to as lodged in the President of the Church is destructive of the principle of common consent, and on that head say: ‘If the First Presidency has the right to ‘change, alter, or make laws’ for the Church, common consent is obsolete and there can never exist two supreme law-making powers in any organization at one and the same time.’  The mistake you make is in considering the members of the Church, through the operation of the doctrine of ‘common consent,’ as the one supreme law-making power in the Church, whereas, in reality, it is not the law-making power at all.  The Church of Christ is governed by the laws of God, which laws He reveals to the Church through him who is the President thereof, and if the Church should reject that law, they reject the law of God and would be under condemnation and under God’s displeasure; for it cannot be that He would be well pleased with those who reject His counsels.  You are right in saying ‘there can never exist two supreme law-making powers in any organization at one and the same time.’  Nor has God appinted ‘two supreme law-making powers’ in His Church. He has appointed but one, and that one the President of the Church.  And I apprehend that a very great amount of the difficulty encountered by yourself and others who may take the same view of matters as you do, arises from the fact that you attempt to displace the law-making power, or what would be more accurate to say, the law announcing power–for the laws are the laws of God–which God has appointed in the Church, with anothe, and that other the members of the Church, through the operation of the doctrine of ‘common consent.’  The Church of Christ subsists byi reason of a voluntary acceptance of its doctrines and willing submission to its laws and discipline on the part of its members.  People are converted to the truth it teaches and of their own free will submit to its regulations; and as the Church begins in a voluntary acceptance of its doctrines, so it continues; and as new truths are revealed, and changing conditions require new regulations, or irregularities call for the reaffirmation of existing laws, these measures are submitted to the members of the Church that they may accept them, that they may assert their harmony with the laws of God; and when the Church doctrines and regulations are thus accepted, they are, of course, in force.  Only so far does the doctrine of ‘common consent’ enter into the making of laws for the Church.

You further say that ‘if the common consent is withheld, there rests no authority in the First Presidency ‘to make, alter, change or revoke the laws.’  If the Church should reject the word of the President of the Church which the Saints are commanded to receive as the very word of God, then of course it may be said that things would come to a standstill, for, as already pointed out, the Church can only exist as its members voluntarily accept its doctrines and submit to its regulations.  But this phase of the question need not detain us longer, as it does not represent an issue in the present condition of affairs.  ‘Common consent’ is not withheld from the declaration of rules in relation to political affairs as affecting its high Church officials.  On the contrary, it is accepted by the Saints, and is in force as a Church regulation, by the will of the presiding quorums and the consent of the Church members.  It follows, let me remind you, that those who are opposing it, and seeking to destroy it, are opposing and seeking the destruction of a rule regularly introduced by the presiding authorities and accepted by the Church members; and therefore such parties are making war upon the Church.

You will understand the above remarks on the doctrine of common consent as applying alone to its place in the making of laws, and not as related to acts of administration of affairs and the election by vote of acceptance of officers.  In the latter relations it doubtless would have a somewhat wider scope than in relation to law-making for the Church, but it is not necessary to discuss that here.



You say you cannot accept the so-called ‘Manifesto’ as ‘the word of the Lord, or the policy that it is the duty of every member of the Church to carry out.’  On the contrary, you believe it to be the duty of every man who views the subject as you do to do all he can towards its repeal.  Before a measure is adopted, when it is in the stage of formation, and under discussion, I believe it to be the right of every man honestly to express his views upon it, and if it does not seem to him to be right or fails to appeal to his judgment as a wise policy, it is his right, in a proper spirit, to oppose it.  But when by action or those to whom it is submitted, and who have a right to decide, the decision goes against judgment and conviction, and the question has passed from the field of discussion to the realm of accomplished fact, then I think that that law is as binding upon the minority as upon the majority, and that it should be as loyally supported by those who opposed it, as those who advocated it, until its wisdom is vindicated, or its folly made manifest and the way prepared for its repeal.  Of course, if a policy is so utterly bad in one’s judgment that one’s conscience cannot become reconciled to it, he has the alternative of leaving the society enacting it, but it is a solecism to think one can consistently stay within an organization and yet make war upon its laws and regulations.  I have been particular thus to state my views upon what I think should be the conduct of minorities, because you confidently declare the belief that I once held views similar to your own on this point.  I disclaim that, however, and that most emphatically; and say that at no time have I entertained the views avowed by you.  You cite as evidence of my entertaining such views the language used by me in administering to Brother Moses Thatcher.  The expression seized upon by you as such evidence is the one asking that Brother Moses ‘may become powerful and strong to plead for the rights and liberties of the people.’  ‘It is evident,’ you say, ‘that at this time your opinion was that the liberties of the people were jeopardized, and in view of the controversy then existing, it is but fair to assume that these liberties were placed in jeopardy, in your judgment, by the manifesto, which, for reasons best known to you, you had been led unconscientiously to sign.’  To say the least of it, you have here hung a very heavy weight upon a very slender thread.  You certainly had to raise the phrase with which you began your calculation to its tenth power in order to arrive at your conclusion.  Of course, I cannot remember the language I used on the occasion referred to; you may have reported it accurately for all I know.  It may have been as fervent and earnest as your report makes it, for I was anxious for the recovery of Brother Moses and always felt in administering to him that if I could have imparted to him a portion of my own physical strength, or could have shared my own health with him, I would have done it without hesitation; for he was and is dear to me.  But know, Brother —–, once for all, that the manifesto was not in my mind any moment while administering to Moses on that occasion.  Nor did I think then, any more than I do now, that there was any necessity for Moses Thatcher to be strong and powerful to plead for the rights and liberties of God’s people against supposed assaults made upon those rights by the First Presidency, or by the manifesto.  I had no thought of what you call ‘the controversy then existing’ while administering to Moses Thatcher, and the phrase you select as justifying your conclusion could otherwise easily be accounted for.  We have not yet seen the last assault made upon the rights and liberties of the Saints.  I fear, and in my judgment, in the future as in the past there will be a necessity for strong and powerful men to plead for the rights and liberties of the Saints.  Then see what an unworthy thing your theory would make me!  You believe that, well nigh before the ink was dry which marks my signature to the ‘manifesto,’ the day following its acceptance by the general Conference, I was expressly asking God that Moses Thatcher might be raised up to overthrow it!  You say that I ‘had been led unconscientiously to sign it!’  I suppose you mean that I signed it without conscience, that is, without my conscience going with my act; and that, in your opinion, perhaps, justifies you in saying, as you do in the very next paragraph, ‘there exists in Utah today a condition which makes it necessary, or in your opinion advisable for you (me) to hold in abeyance the opinions you (I) honestly entertain on this subject.’  Surely, if one were seeking occasion for offence, he would find it here; for, taking it all in all, a worse case of cowardly double-dealing and despicable hypocrisy could not easily be conjured up.  Judging from the whole tone of your letter, so far as it refers to me personally, rather than from this particular part of it, you do not intend to give offence, and where such intention is absent, I do not believe in making one an offender for a word.  But I would have you distinctly understand that my conscience went with my signature in the matter of signing the ‘manifesto,’ and that no condition exists in Utah today which makes it necessary or advisable to hold in abeyance any opinions I hold on this or any other subject; and the only thing lacking to make your language grossly insulting is the evident absence of such an intention.  I stand squarely with the other general authorities of the Church in connection with whose signatures my own appears on the so-called ‘manifesto,’ and with them stand responsible for its promulgation.  If that act appears in the estimation of some of my friends to be inconsistent with positions I have formerly assumed, the change arises from a more perfect understanding of the facts and principles involved.  I do not have so exalted an opinion of the extent of my information or the infallibility of my weak, human judgment, as to expect to be able to be found at all times in the present strictely consistent with conduct that is past, only in so far as consistency is to be found in acting day by day in strict accord with the light and convictions possessed at the time.  But today, if I see the occasion for it, I shall revise the opinions and as far as possible correct the conduct of yesterday, and tomorrow do the same with the opinions and conduct of today, and so on to the end of life.

You say you are ‘one of those who believe every man holding the Priesthood is responsible to God for the conduct of the affairs of the Church, and for its purity.’  ‘Believing thus,’ you continue, ‘it becomes my duty to use whatever ability and influence I may have in the suppression of wrongdoing in the Church, regardless by whom done.’  So far, if you will limit your doctrine by saying within the scope and legitimate sphere of the Priesthood and office therein which you hold, and the correction is made through the means appointed in the Church, I agree with that view; but when you add ‘that the liability to err is as great in the presiding quorum of the Church as in the lowest,’ than I must dissent from that part of your doctrine.  I think that ordination to a presiding position amounts to something.  I read in my Bible that ‘Joshus, the son of Nun, was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands upon him.’  (Deut. chap. 34).  And so now, when men are ordained to fill responsible presiding positions, I believe that increased wisdom is given, and that they are not as liable to commit errors as those filling less responsible positions.  Moreover, the Preisdency of the Church occupy a more commanding position than an inferior quorum, have better opportunity for obtaining information concerning the work of God, than others; they are sustained by the daily faith and prayers of all the faithful Saints, and are more abundantly entitled to inspiration of the Holy Ghost and the direct revelation of God than others.  Do all these things count for nothing in your judgment?  Were you not a little thoughtless when you made the remark here animadverted upon?

Your remark about infallibility being the Gibraltar of absolutism may be dismissed by reminding you of the fact that nobody claims infallibility for the men constituting the First Presidency of the Church.  No claim of infallibility is set up for anything but the word of God, the law of God.  But that is infallible.



And now, just a word on the document that has come to be called the ‘manifesto.’  The rule of conduct prescribed for the leading Church officials in relation to seeking counsel before accepting nominations for political office, etc., was proposed and accepted for the purpose of maintaining discipline in the Church; for the purpose of preserving order in the Church and guarding its interests from neglect by preventing them from becoming subordinated to other and less important interests.  It was and is a Church regulation purely.  This has been affirmed by the Church authorities repeatedly, and yet with a persistency that, to say the least of it, is astonishing, and which, in my judgment, amounts to wanton perversity, there having been parties, even within the Church, who set aside the word of the general authorities and say that the ‘manifesto’ foreshadows and intends political interference and the domination of State politics by Church officials.  To the fearful eyes of these parties there appears coiled within it the serpentine chain that is to bind lasting fetters of slavery upon the limbs of ‘young Utah,’ unless a kind Providence shall raise up some man to break its links asunder.  Others more moderate say that whatever the intentions of its authors and those who have accepted it in its practical working, it will result in Church domination, etc.  The first class mentioned above, of whom I take it from the tone of your letter you are one, flatly refuse to believe the word of the twenty-four men whose signatures are attached to the document, who constitute the general authorities of the Church.  To that class these men–the authorities of the Church–are designing knaves intent upon a sly game at politics, or out-and-out liars and scoundrels; or the great part of them are weakling fools, the mere puppets of one or two dominating minds that are scneming, ambitious, self-seeking scoundrels.  There is no escaping this conclusion for those who persist in saying that the manifesto means politics, when the authorities of the Church positively affirm that it was intended alone for the regulation and preservation of order in the Church.  For some unbelievers among us to take that position, would not, of course, be very surprising; but what do you think, Brother —–, of members of the Church who take that position?  How long can they retain the fellowship of the Saints, or their standing in the Church?

To the second class, who way that the practical workings of the regulation will be to bring to pass Church interference in politics, I would say that they should be willing to accord some honesty to the gentlemen who promulgated what they assert is a Church regulation merely, and wait until it is demonstrated that in its operations it interferes with the political rights and liberties of the citizens.  Meantime, let me say that you and others may continue to say this ‘manifesto’ means politics, that is, that it is a device by which high Church officials mean to control the politics of the State; [illegible] now that it was and is meant to be a Church regulation for the good order of the Church alone, and intended to establish a proper understanding among the officers of the Church and to correct wrong impressions that had obtained concerning the atttitude of high Church officials to politics.  Men in the future may continue to assert that this announced rule of the Church means politics, as explained in the foregoing, but that will not alter its character any more than calling truth falsehood will make it so.




You express the opinion that it is almost impossible to settle this question brought up by the ‘manifesto,’ and involving, as you suppose, the principle of common consent within the Church.  As a matter of fact there is no such issue to settle.  The principle of common consent as a factor of Church government has not been violated.  The rule of conduct in question, after being formulated by the general Church authorities, and proposed to the members of the Church, was accepted by them, they gave their assent to it, and it is regularly established as a rule of the Church by the announcement of the law to the people and their acceptance of it.  Is it you idea that common consent means unanimous consent?  If so, you are wrong.  Government by unanimous consent is out of the question, utterly impracticable.  There is no issue that can arise in the Church but what can be settled within the Church.  To go ooutside the Church to settle any difficulty that has arisen within the Church means war upon the Church–an utter lack of confidence in the institution which you and I believe God has founded!  I pray you no longer entertain that thought.

Your proposition for the settlement of the supposed difficulty is a novel one, viz., the election of Moses Thatcher to the United States Senate, which event, you say, ‘would be accepted by the self-sufficient leader whose personal ambition to become the dictator of the Church is widely believed, as a warning of {from} the people, that alghouth their value is now impotent in the councils of the Church, in the affairs of the State, it is omnipotent.’

I was extremely sorry when I read that remark, and I wondered what cloud of darkness could possibly have come over your mind; and in charity I must think you wrote that passage without thought.  I pass over the injustice you do the member of the First Presidency to whom you refer, and come directly to the consideration of your proposed settlement of the supposed difficulty, by the election of Brother Moses Thatcher to the Senate.  You complain of the NEWS having said that his election to the U.S. Senate by the coming Utah Legislature would be an ‘insult’ to the Church; whereas in your judgment his election would be a settlement of the questions that have arisen through the ‘manifesto,’ and that ‘the great body of the Church would feel honored rather than insulted at such a happy consummation.’

Let us see:  1–The general Church authorities formulated a rule to be followed by the leading Church officials in respect to politics, which obtained the approval of all the general authorities of the Church, except one of the Apostles, who was absent on a mission, and another Apostle who refuses to accept it because, as he alleges, and that in the face of the protest of his brethren to the contrary, it is intended to be and will result in the domination of politics in the State by the Church, and is, in fact, the forging of chains for the enslavement of the people.

2–The aforesaid Apostle refused to sign it, but it went before the general Conference of the Church and was upheld by the common consent of the Church then assembled; and the Apostle who refused to sign the document embodying the rule is not presented before the conference for acceptance as an officer of the Church; that the rule promulgated by the authorities and accepted by the general Conference might be more widely accepted by the Church members, and out of respect for the very principle of common consent (which you seem to think is abrogated by the policy of the Church in this matter), the document is presented to the Stake conferences and, I think, even to the ward conferences of the Church, so that no rule ever promulgated before by the Church has been more widely accepted by the Saints than this one, nor was the principle of common consent ever more thoroughly respected.  Six months passed, and another general Conference of the Church is held; no action is taken in the case of the suspended Apostle, but extended explanations are made as to why he is suspended.  Meantime, a political campaign is fought out.  In the past the suspended Apostle has been prominently in politics, and the year before was his party’s candidate for United States Senator.  But in the campaign of last fall he is not made a candidate for the senate, though a senator is to be chosen by the legislature elected.  Nothing is said of him in his party’s platform, or the principle he is supposed in some way to represent by his opposition to his brethren.  This campaign was at its height when the October Conference was held, at which the reasons why the Apostle was suspended from office were given.  Still there was no exception taken by the political party of which he was a member.  No voice even from the stump was heard in protest, so far as I have learned,–nothing from the editorial columns of his party’s press appeared.  But after the election is over, and is won by the Democratic party, not on the issue, however, of exception being taken to the course the Church had pursued with reference to Moses Thatcher, but on quite different issues,–then Brother Thatcher steps forward and springs upon the members-elect to the Legislature an issue upon which they were not elected, and asks them for their support.  In his interview published in the Salt Lake Tribune, in which he announces his willingness to become a candidate for the Senate, he is quoted as saying: ‘I prefer private to public life, and the peace of the social circle to the strife of politics.  If I had not been placed in a position involving a great principle, I could not be tempted to accept even the high office of United States senator.  But if Utahk, if young Utah feels that my selection would be a vindication of that for which I have contended and would aid in preventing the forging of chains upon the people of this State, I should accept the office of senator should it be tendered me.’  Brother Thatcher does not ask to be elected on any issue of the campaign or because of any peculiar fitness of qualification he possesses above other candidates, (though, in my judgment, he does posses some qualifications superior to those of the other candidates) but solely because of the attitude he has assumed towards the so-called ‘manifesto.’  Remember, that the overwhelming majority of the Democratic party are of the Mormon faith.  Remember that the Mormon people have almost unanimously adopted the so-called ‘manifesto’ as a Church regulation; and Moses Thatcher and his friends ask the members-elect to the Legislature to send him to the Senate because of his opposition to a rule of the Church which they themselves assented to.  Under these circumstances I do not hesitate to say that his election to the United States Senate would be a gross insult to the members of the Mormon Church, for he is virtually asking their representatives to elect him to the Senate because he is still opposed to a rule which they in their capacity as Church members have accepted by a free vote as a rule of their Church.

If he thinks that they have accepted that rule under duress, or yielded to it because of their weakness, or the overbearing tyranny of their leaders, then he insults their manhood and their intelligence.  But should he succeed in being elected because of his opposition to this Church regulation, let no one suppose that it would be a vindication of Brother Thatcher’s course, for the members-elect of the coming Legislature are not elected with reference to that question.

If that question had been before the people of Utah in the last election and the Democratic party had championed the cause represented by Moses Thatcher, viz; opposition to the Church rule in question, favorable as were all other conditions for Democratic success, there is not a man of sense but that knows there would have been no Democratic victory in Utah this year.  The issue he asks to be elected on is an improper one in and of itself, because he asks to be elected for his opposition to a church.  It is doubly an improper one because it was not an issue of the campaign which resulted in a Democratic victory.  It is, in addition, impolitic for the Democratic party, as it would be in the nature of a direct and positive insult to the great majority of that party, and would not augur well for future Democratic control of the State of Utah.  Were I an enemy to Democracy, instead of now and always an ardent supporter of it, I might urge the Democratic legislators-elect to take the course now urged upon them by the chief organ of Republicanism; but as I desire to see the ground gained by the Democratic party of Utah maintained, I would to the best of my poor ability dissuade them from following the course you propose.  The great principle of separation of church and state is in no danger; nor is there any forging of chains for either the limbs or minds of young Utah.  Let us as soon as possible have peace.

Very truly yours,

B. H. Roberts.

Commenting upon this correspondence the Deseret News of Jan. 8, 1897 has the following editorial:

The NEWS presents to its readers a most interesting correspondence between an Ogden gentleman and Elder B. H. Roberts, of the First Council of Seventies.  The subject matter is of special importance to the Saints, and as such we commend it to their careful consideration.  The Ogden gentleman is a member of the Church, and wrote to one of the general authorities of the Church, upon a topic that is the general business of the Church, as well as upon other public concerns.  His letter, therefore, cannot be regarded as a private communication, but a document public to Church members at least, should the authority to whom it is addressed deem such publicity advisable.  But in order that no one’s feelings might be regarded as in the slightest degree unconsidered, the writer of the Ogden letter was asked for permission to publish his name in connection with his communication and that of the reply of Elder Roberts.  No response came to this request; hence the name of the Ogden writer is withheld, but his communication, together with Elder Roberts’s response, are given space in the NEWS, the subject matter being considered of sufficient interest to the Saints generally to place the whole correspondence before them, with a request that they give it thoughtful attention.  So far as concerns the NEWS’ attitude as stated in the Ogden gentleman’s opening reference to this paper, we will state that the NEWS is not correctly represented on that subject; whether the misrepresentation was unintentional or not we cannot say, but assume that probably it was.  Our position on the particular point involved is in perfect accord with the view expressed by Elder Roberts on the same subject.  With this statement and explanation we leave the matter for the present.”

(JH 21 Dec., 1896)