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THE year 1861 was bright with promise, and glad hearts in many places were receiving the message of joy as it passed from friend to friend and from place to place. "Young Joseph has come," was often the first greeting when friends met. Then with sober thought and anxious countenance they would canvass his claims, comparing them with the revelations of God, while praying for light to decide wisely. Some were slow to act, remembering how often they had been betrayed, their hopes blasted, and their confidence misplaced.
Prior to the time when Joseph Smith took his place as President of the Church, no claim had been made by the people in the West that Brigham Young had been specially called as President of the High Priesthood, but they were content to have it appear that he was elevated to that position by virtue of his calling as President of the Quorum of the Twelve. But on October 7, 1860, Orson Hyde, then recognized by them as President of the Twelve, made the startling announcement that Brigham Young had, by a special revelation, accompanied by a wonderful manifestation, been called to occupy this position. He said:-
"First and foremost, I will briefly allude to some aspirants to office and honors in the church of which we are members. There have been aspirants to the Presidency of this church ever since the death of Joseph Smith, and even before. It may be regarded as lost time to allude to these things at all by which any portion of the day is consumed. But, brethren
bear with me. I have read the writings of every aspirant to the presiding priesthood in this church since the days of Joseph. I have marked their cold, dry, technical, husky, and spiritless reasonings from the Book of Mormon, from the Doctrine and Covenants, Bible, etc., quite voluminous, resembling the bile ejected from a disordered stomach. I have never discovered one burst of the Spirit of God in all their claims or publications.
"Who has ever read Brigham Young's writings in which he has labored to establish his right and claim to the Presidency of the Church? No one. God pleads his own cause through Brigham, because he obeys him; but man has to plead the cause of man who is sordid, illiberal, murmuring, and corrupt.
"In the month of February, 1848, the Twelve Apostles met at Hyde Park, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, where a small branch of the church was established; and I must say that I feel not a little proud of the circumstance, and also very thankful, on account of its happening in my own little retired and sequestered hamlet, bearing my own name. We were in prayer and council, communing together; and what took place on that occasion? The voice of God came from on high, and spake to the council. Every latent feeling was aroused, and every heart melted. What did it say unto us? 'Let my servant Brigham step forth and receive the full power of the presiding priesthood in my church and kingdom.' This was the voice of the Almighty unto us at Council Bluffs, before I removed to what was called Kanesville.
"It has been said by some that Brigham was appointed by the people, and not by the voice of God. I do not know that this testimony has often, if ever, been given to the masses of the people before; but I am one that was present, and there are others here that were also present on that occasion, and did hear and feel the voice from heaven, and we were filled with the power of God. This is my testimony; these are my declarations unto the saints-unto the members of the kingdom of God in the last days, and to all people.
"We said nothing about the matter in those times, but kept it still. [After seating myself in the stand, I was reminded of one circumstance that occurred, which I omitted in my discourse. Men, women, and children came running together where we were, and asked us what was the matter. They said that their houses shook, and the ground trembled, and they did not know but that there was an earthquake. We told them that there was nothing the matter-not to be alarmed; the Lord was only whispering to us a little, and that he was probably not very far off. We felt no shaking of the earth or of the house, but were filled with the exceeding power and goodness of God.] We knew and realized that we had the testimony of God with us. On the sixth day of April following, at our Annual Conference, held in the Log Tabernacle at Kanesville, the propriety of choosing a man to preside over the church was investigated. In a very few minutes it was agreed to, and Brigham Young was chosen to fill that place without a dissenting voice, the people not knowing that there had been any revelation touching the matter. They ignorantly seconded the voice of the Lord from on high in his appointment. (Voice from the stand: 'That is Vox Dei, vox populi.') Yes, the voice of God was the voice of the people. Brigham went right ahead, silently, to do the work of the Lord, and to feed his sheep, and take care of them like a faithful shepherd, leaving all vain aspirants to quarrel and contend about lineal descent, right, power, and authority."-Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, pp. 233, 234.
The Twelve had it in contemplation to reorganize the church before the date fixed by Mr. Hyde for this wonderful manifestation, as will appear from an epistle written by them on December 23, 1847, and published in Millennial Star for March 15, 1848. (See this work, vol. 3, p. 20.) And according to a letter written by Brigham Young on January 23, 1848, and published in Millennial Star for April 15, 1848. The church at Winter Quarters had received Brigham Young as President about two months before this purported revelation was received. (See this work, vol. 3, p. 22.)
Mr. Young had also mentioned this movement while on his way back to Winter Quarters from Salt Lake Valley, as he indicates in sermon preached in Salt Lake, October 7, 1860:-
"Bro. Hyde, in his remarks, spoke about the voice of God at a certain time. I could tell many incidents relating to that circumstance, which he did not take time to relate.
"We were in his house, which was some ten or twelve feet square. The houses in the neighborhood shook, or, if they did not, the people thought they did, for they ran together and inquired whether there had been an earthquake. We told them that the voice of God had reached the earth-that they need not be afraid; it was the power of God. This and other events have transpired to satisfy the people-you, and all who belong to the church and kingdom of God upon the earth.
"When I met Sidney Rigdon, east of the temple in Nauvoo, I knew then what I now know concerning the organization of the church, though I had told no man of it. I revealed it to no living being, until the pioneers to this valley were returning to Winter Quarters. Brother Wilford Woodruff was the first man I ever spoke to about it. Said he, 'It is right; I believe it, and think a great deal of it, for it is from the Lord; the church must be organized.' It then went to others, and from them to others; but it was no news to me, for I understood it then as I understand it now."- Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, pp. 197, 198.
The evidence further shows that as early as December 5, 1847, the Twelve had taken steps to have Mr. Young "step forward." So if such manifestation was received in February, 1848, it was not the cause that prompted the elevation of Elder Young.
In this connection we cite the statements of Mr. Edward W. Tullidge:-
"Here the author, for the first time, must come personally into his history as a witness to testify in this grave affair; for the testament thus made by Apostle Orson Hyde is too solemn a matter to be passed over with indifference as to whether it was true or false. Nineteen years have come
and gone since its utterance, yet no other apostle's voice to this day has dared, in public, to confirm or deny what the president of their quorum proclaimed in their name to the 'saints of God in the last days and to all people. 1 It is the historian's duty now to speak and declare the truth.
"Before leaving England, and while filling the office of Managing Editor of the Latter Day Saints' Millennial Star, I resolved to write and publish the history of the Prophet Joseph. Hence as soon as I arrived in Salt Lake City, in 1861, I sought labor on the personal journals of Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith, boldly and frankly telling these two official historians that I should write and publish the history of the church, for the Lord had called me to this work. For this I needed their private journals and professional employment on Wilford Woodruff's history. Wilford gave me employment and trusted me with the wonderful journals of his own ministry and the latter day work. For eighteen months I daily labored on those journals, transforming them into a regular 'Autobiography of Wilford Woodruff.' I had come to the close of the year 1847, recording the very minutes of the Quorum of the Twelve, of those identical Grand Councils in which the choosing of the First Presidency was broached, and in which the Twelve did actually, by all the forms of motion and vote, set up the First Presidency, in the persons of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards.
"I knew Wilford would speak the truth. A lie is not in the man's nature. I knew he would tell me the truth if interrogated on the witness of his journals, however much he might desire to cover the solemn falsehood of the president of his quorum.
"We were together. I was reading from his Autobiography. Apostle Woodruff was, with his journal in hand, checking my transcript. Suddenly I stopped, and with impetuous indignation said:-
"'Wilford, I always believed Orson Hyde bore a false testimony, and now I know he did!'
1Mr. Tullidge evidently overlooked the statement of Brigham Young, just quoted.
"So sudden was the outburst that it was followed with speechless wonderment from historian Woodruff, rather than quick reproof. In an instant he comprehended the whole case. There, resting on my knees, with my hand in wrath smiting its pages, was the witness that could not lie-Wilford Woodruff's history. I continued to pour out indignant speech:-
"'Here, in your journals, sir, is the detailed record of those times. This is the very council of the Twelve in which President Young and his counselors were elected by your quorum. Orson Hyde bore false witness in the name of the Lord. The voice of God was not heard in any of these councils, saying, 'Let my servant Brigham step forth and receive the full power of the presiding priesthood of my church and kingdom." Men, women, and children, did not come running to the house where you were holding council, saying their houses shook and the ground trembled. Neither did you apostles tell the people not to be alarmed; "the Lord was only whispering to us a little, and that probably he was not far off." There is nothing of all this in Wilford Woodruff's journals, not a word, not a trace anywhere, for I have carefully examined. You know, Wilford, it is impossible that this should have occurred in your presence and not to be found in your journals. It is a solemn falsehood in the name of the Lord. There is the proof, Wilford-your journal!'
"'Edward,' he answered, with a deep blush on his honest face, 'It was not true!
"These were his first words. He had not blushed for himself; no need that Wilford Woodruff do this: his shame was for others, and doubtless from a realizing sense that his quorum had to bear the lie of their president in silence.
"In my secret thoughts at that Moment I exclaimed, 'Thank God! Wilford has borne the test. He has redeemed his apostolic honor. And now for Orson Pratt. I think Orson will be also true. We shall see.'
"It was in the Liverpool office, in 1860-61, while preparing these Tabernacle Sermons for the Journal of Discourses, and reading their proofs, that I had determined to sound
this testimony of Orson Hyde to the bottom. I had labored in that office in 1856-57 under Orson Pratt, so he was originally the one selected from whom to obtain the initial evidence; but my subsequent labors on church history had improved the design in making Wilford Woodruff and his journals the sure basis of testimony.
"Orson Pratt was at the bar. He knew not, however, it meant as much. I was boarding with him in Williamsburg, at the house of old Sister Lloyd. He had just returned from a mission to Europe; I had been two years in New York, writing for the Galaxy and other magazines, on Mormonism and numerous historical subjects. This was in 1868.
"One evening in conversation I cautiously approached this testimony of Orson Hyde. Brother Pratt, though a very exact apostle in God's affairs, is Jesuitically suspicious and jealous of his order; so I approached him with method. I first mentioned to him a rumor out west, that President Young had ordained his three eldest sons, designing Brigham, Jun., to succeed him at his death.
"'I guess,' replied Orson, with exceeding quietude, 'the Twelve will choose their own president at the death of President Young.'
"I perceived that already had the Twelve resolved to overthrow Brigham's dynasty; but that was not my business of the moment; yet, of course, thus prepared, the subject led easily to Winter Quarters and the reorganization of the First Presidency. At last came my direct questions:-
"'Brother Pratt, did the voice of God come from heaven and speak to your council, as testified by Orson Hyde? Was the Lord himself present? Did the voice of the Almighty declare to your brethren in council, "Let my servant, Brigham, step forth and take the Presidency of the Church!" or in language to that effect? You were present, Orson, in all those councils: Did the Lord himself speak to you?'
"'If he did, I did not hear him!'
These are Orson Pratt's exact words. It was a bare reply. I appreciated the delicacy of the case between us.
I had venerated Orson Pratt from my boyhood, esteeming him in those days as my intellectual tutor. I had labored under him as an assistant editor; I did not wish to humble these apostles, much less Orson Pratt. It was enough. I was relieved of an anxiety for his sake; for it was not in the power of these apostles to escape the judgment of history. Orson's testimony was not needed, excepting for his own honor.
"Review, for example, the record itself. Here is a page from the Life of Brigham Young, summarized from Wilford Woodruff's journals, and passed upon as authentic by Brigham Young himself.
"'The pioneers returned to Winter Quarters, October 31, 1847. During the month of November, much important business came before the Twelve; and on the last of the month, the subject of reorganizing the First Presidency, which had been vacant since the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, was considered.
"'On the 3d of December a conference was held on the east side of the river; but after having resolved to build immediately a large tabernacle for the congregation, it adjourned for three weeks.
"'There was a feast and a grand council, December 5, at the house of Elder Hyde, who had been in charge at Winter Quarters during the absence of the pioneers.
"'In this council of the Twelve Apostles, their President (Brigham Young) first expressed his views concerning the reorganization of the Quorum of the First Presidency, and wished those present to do the same in their order; when Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, George A. Smith, Amasa Lyman, and Ezra T. Benson spoke to the question. President Young closed.
"'Orson Hyde then moved that Brigham Young be President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that he nominate his two counselors to form the First Presidency. Wilford Woodruff seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.
"'President Young then nominated Heber C. Kimball as
his first counselor, and Willard Richards as his second counselor, which was seconded and carried unanimously.
"'The Twelve again met the next day, and appointed Father John Smith Presiding Patriarch of the whole church.
"'The conference reassembled on the 24th of December, and lasted four days. In the Log Tabernacle one thousand persons assembled, and chose Brigham Young "President of the Church of Jesus Christ in all the world."'"-Life of Joseph the Prophet, pp. 618-623.
This testimony is secondhand, hence not what would be called the best evidence; yet it should be considered that it has been published to the world ever since 1880, by the Reorganization, and that it harmonizes with the published records of the time.
Orson Pratt lived over one year after its publication and made no denial. Wilford Woodruff lived over eighteen years after its publication, but made no protest. If either of them has ever denied these alleged facts to anyone, we have no information of such denial. Mr. Tullidge then stands unimpeached and undisputed on this point, and his testimony must be taken into the consideration.
The Annual Conference of 1861 was held at Amboy, Lee County, Illinois, April 6-8, Joseph Smith presiding, Isaac Sheen and W. W. Blair clerks. The following were received on evidence of membership: Walter Ostrander, John Gaylord, Briggs Alden, Betsey Fairbanks, Betsey Stone, Ebenezer Page, A. B. Manchester, George Kerr, O. W. Burns, Lucy Hodges, Sarah Waite, and Abiah Cook.
The following branches reported: Crescent City, Galland's Grove, North Star, Round Lake, Nephi, Mills, Franklin, Farm Creek, Boyer, Boomer, Union Grove, Belvidere, Montrose, Council Bluffs, Nashville, and String Prairie, Iowa; Etna branch, Missouri; Sandwich, Henderson Grove, Batavia, Amboy, Illinois; Syracuse, Ohio; Whitestown, Indiana; Burlington, Wisconsin; Galien, Michigan.
The following were ordained seventies: George Kerr, Walter Ostrander, and W. J. Ruby.
Twenty-three persons were baptized, eleven of whom were new members, and twelve had formerly been connected with the church.
On April 8,1861, the Twelve met and resolved to appoint Apostles Jason W. Briggs and Samuel Powers on a mission to England; and Elders Henry Green, Jeremiah Jeremiah, and George Rosser on a mission to Wales.
A special conference was held at Council Bluffs, Iowa, June 7-9,1861; Elder William W. Blair presided, and Dexter P. Hartwell was clerk.
North Star, Little Sioux, and Franklin branches were reported.
A committee on missions was appointed, consisting of J. A. McIntosh, Calvin Beebe, S. W. Condit, Rufus Pack, and W. W. Blair, who were also empowered to appoint two-days, meetings, and to select a place for the succeeding conference.
George Medlock and Caroline Ellison were baptized by Elder Charles Derry. Alexander McCord was ordained a seventy; James Williams, B. S. Parker, Wilson Sellers, Francis Reynolds, and Rees Price were ordained elders.
On July 19, 1861, President Joseph Smith issued his first General Epistle; which we here present:-
"THE FIRST GENERAL EPISTLE OF THE PRESIDENT OF
THE REORGANIZED CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF
LATTER DAY SAINTS.
"To all the Scattered Saints:-In view of the many reports now in circulation, and to show to all the scattered Latter Day Saints that I am a true son of a true father, I, Joseph Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, this, my first General Epistle to the members of said church scattered in all the land, send greeting.
"In the days of trouble, when darkness fell over all the church, in consequence of the death of the President and
Patriarch, many sought, out of the chaos of confusion that ensued, to erect fabrics of spiritual and temporal power, relying on the shrewd acumen of men skillful to deceive, aided by the fears of a desolate people, a flock without a shepherd, and the sure assistance of the prince and power of evil, who, delighted at the fall of just men, took advantage of the breach, fired their minds with visions of power and opportunity to work out the convenient measures of their own sordid passions.
"In almost every one of these fragmentary dispensations, the commencement was marked by an attempt to steer for a time by the old landmarks, yet each failed in each attempt; for, finding that the 'law and the testimony' came in conflict with their projects of power and convenient sin, they cast them aside as garments for the church in its infancy, and claimed other laws, more suited to their ends than those pure principles of the gospel upon which the church was founded.
"Almost every one of them, too, knowing the true order of the law, claimed respectability, sanction, guardianship, regency, or a holding of the rule subject to, and looking for, a coming forth of one of the true descent, to take a place in authority. Claims were made, in almost every instance, that sooner or later, one of Joseph's sons would come forth and unite his destiny with that particular faction.
"Some acted, as they declared, with my knowledge and sanction; some took upon themselves by right a guardianship over my spiritual welfare, and dared to say with my approval; and still another, more bold but scarcely less honest, claimed to receive letters from me, saying that my mother's influence kept me from their midst-that I was with them in faith, etc.
"Now, be it known, that up to the spring of 1860, no faction of the church, no claimant to the honors of leadership, no party or sect ever received indorsement [endorsement], sanction, or authority from me. I never selected a spiritual guardian, or appointed an agent, nor recognized any regency or guardianship whatever; and that, at that time, I only acted as I was impelled; that I acted by dictation, and that of no man;
that I have kept my own counsel, although my opinions, when asked for, in regard to various doctrines extant, under the guise of so-called Mormonism, have been known by friend or foe, who chose to ask.
"I have deeply settled views of policy connected with the church, that, in the present unconnected state of the church at large, must needs remain with me; for having thus far taken the guidance of the Spirit, as the man of my counsel, I shall still endeavor to do so.
"There having been endeavors made, and reports circulated, with a view to prejudice the minds of saints as yet unconnected with the church as now organized, to the effect that I had not come out and taken a stand in connection therewith: Now, be it also known, that on the sixth day of April, A. D. 1860, I was duly received by the church, in conference assembled, at Amboy, in Lee County, in the State of Illinois, as President and Prophet, and successor of my father, in strict pursuance of my right, as the son of my father, Joseph Smith, Jr., and in due accordance with the voice of the Spirit, as has been partly shown, and as shall, at some more fitting time, be made public by me.
"I did not take that step without a due knowledge of what I was doing, not without a perception of all the difficulties of the position; but with a firm reliance on the sustaining power of the Almighty God, whose arm is mighty to save, and who will not break a bruised reed, I assumed the position.
"Since then the leaven has begun to work, and with the good has come the evil. Designing men have told all manner of stories, charging inaction, want of sincerity, lies, subterfuge, speculation, etc.; and fearful saints who have ere now listened to siren songs of deceitful spirits, dulcet notes of mysterious power and might, supernatural agency and subtle grace, taught wisdom by their own varying race, careful lest another will o'-the-wisp of aspiring ambition should charm their ears, and lead captive their hearts and better judgments, and lure them once more to hope-to hope, to be again cast down, have believed and echoed them. It is better so, and I feel thankful that it is so. Men who
hastily reach forth their hands, and take hold upon an earthly reed, must needs be tumbled in the ditch, till they learn to examine for themselves, and when they trust in man, to be sure that the man in whom they trust is worthy.
"Now I have not a word to say in advocacy of my right, or my calling. I ask none to believe upon my say so; let each and all examine carefully and without prejudice, asking his God for wisdom to judge aright, and as I have said, so say I now, I have no fears as to the result.
"I would not that men should hastily run without tidings, nor do I ask that any should place the stake of their salvation upon an earthly arm. 'Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, and maketh flesh his arm.' I ask and desire that all may place their stake of salvation upon the author and finisher of our faith-upon the promises and principles of the gospel, pure as preached from the Savior's lips, for in him was no guile, and in his teachings there was no deceit.
"In the name of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, I now call upon all the scattered saints, upon all the broad earth, to arise and shake off the sleep that hath bound them these many years, take on the armor of the just, calling on the name of the Lord for help, and unite once more for the emancipation of the honest in heart from the power of false doctrines and the shackles of sin.
"In the name of bleeding Zion, I call upon all those who have been wandering in by and forbidden paths, and have been led astray by wicked and designing men, to turn from their scenes of wickedness and sins of convenience, to turn from their servitude to Satan, in all his seductive devices; from vice in every phase, and from the labor of sin, the wages whereof are ever death, unto their true and delightsome allegiance to the principles of the gospel of peace, to the paths of wisdom, to the homage of that God that brought the children of Israel out of bondage; to turn and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon; to lay hold anew upon the rod of iron which surely leads to the tree of life; to remember that those who live to the Lord
keep his commandments, and that the promises are unto the faithful, and the reward unto those that endure unto the end.
"And in the name of the Lord of hosts, I call upon all the inhabitants of the earth to repent, believe, and be baptized, for the time cometh when the judgments of God are to be poured out upon all nations, and the besom of God's wrath shall smoke through the land; when men shall know that there is a God in Israel, and he is mighty to punish or to save; that the prayers of those under the altar have been heard, and a swift retribution is to come, when the despoiler will be despoiled; when those who denied justice shall be judged, and the measure meted unto others shall be meted unto them; when the prisoner shall go free, the oppressed be redeemed, and all Israel shall cry, 'Glory to God in the highest be given, for he that is long-suffering and slow to anger, has arisen, and shall bring again Zion.' Amen and amen.
"President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"NAUVOO, Ill., JULY 19, 1861."
-True Latter Day Saints' Herald, vol. 2, pp. 121--124.
Those who have watched anxiously the progress of the work can but admit that the young prophet had grasped the situation. More than thirty-five years of severe test against an opposition bold and unscrupulous has but demonstrated the wisdom of his position regarding both doctrine and practice. Of those who heard that rallying cry, sounding in no uncertain tones out of the chaos of confusion into which latter-day Israel had plunged, some recognized in it an element of danger to their own ambitions and institutions, and set about at once to impede its progress, by slandering its adherents and hurling at them the unsavory epithet of "apostate." Others treated it with indifference and scorn, impressed with the conviction that "Mormonism" was a demonstrated failure; others, honest and humble but who had been deceived often, received it with hesitancy and suspicion, and hence were not hearty in its support. And, as might have been expected, this movement gathered an element of malcontents, whose normal condition was that of
discontent; and who being dissatisfied elsewhere, had flocked to the Reorganization. In addition to this, sectarian influence fortified by the immoral record of many so-called Latter Day Saints was urged against the success of the movement. With these elements at work without and within, the reader can imagine that all was not sunshine, but that dark clouds, sufficient to appall the stoutest heart, hovered over the horizon of this movement to reorganize the church and redeem its honored name. But there was a brighter side; men of unswerving honesty, intrepid courage, and sincere devotion rallied around the banner borne by the young prophet, some of whom had carried it before he came and placed it unsullied in his hands. It required wisdom, discretion, and valor to meet the situation; but these men, with a courage born of an assurance and conviction that their cause was the cause of truth and right, and that God would aid the right, met the situation, nor faltered in the face of danger.
"Young Joseph" submitted his cause to the arbitrament of time, and right well has time vindicated the wisdom of the position occupied by the organization with which he was connected. While other factions have gone down under their own weight, or have had to change their policy to save themselves from merited retribution, the Reorganization has moved steadily onward. While progress has been slow, much slower than some had hoped or believed it would be, yet the church occupied safe ground, and can yet maintain the ground upon which it rested.
Almost every copy of the Herald during the summer brought good tidings from the elders in the field, of which the following, from the August number, are fair illustrations:-
"The news from the elders which we have received is very encouraging. In Western Iowa, Brn. W. W. Blair and E. C. Briggs have baptized a large number since the last April Conference. Bro. Charles Derry, Bro. McIntosh, and many other elders are also preaching with success in that region.
"Bro. Samuel Powers baptized five in Caral, Illinois, and fourteen in Whitestown, Indiana.
"Bro. James Blakeslee has been preaching in several counties in Indiana, and has been hunting up many old saints, who have thereby aroused from their lethargy.
"Bro. Z. H. Gurley writes that he is preaching in his vicinity, and has baptized some, and that they have good meetings.
"Brn. John Shippy and H. N. Wright organized a church in Plano, Illinois, where they baptized five. At the Norwegian settlement in La Salle county, Bro. Shippy preached, and baptized fifteen, and organized a church with twenty-three members."-True Latter Day Saints' Herald, vol. 2, p. 143.
There was a special conference held at Little Sioux, Iowa, August 30 to September 1, 1861. Though it was a success spiritually, there was no business of special historic importance done, except the ordination of Elder Charles Derry to the office of seventy.
The Semiannual Conference was held at Sandwich, Illinois, October 6-9,1861. President Joseph Smith presided; Isaac Sheen and W. W. Blair secretaries. The following-named elders reported: J. W. Briggs, James Blakeslee, W. W. Blair, John Shippy, Z. H. Gurley, Sen., Samuel Powers, E. C. Briggs, George Rarick, C. G. Lanphear, I. L. Rogers, Walter Ostrander, and Ebenezer Page.
The following persons were baptized: Austin Howard, Ruby Sutton, Eunice Butler, Alva Smith, and J. M. Wait.
The following were received into fellowship upon evidence of former baptism: Lorin Babbitt (seventy), Jonathan Delap (deacon), J. W. Cooper (elder), and James Burgess (elder).
J. M. Wait, Ebenezer Page, and Jonathan Delap were ordained seventies.
Joseph Robinson, Alva Smith, and Charles Williams were ordained elders.
The following resolutions were adopted:-
"That traveling elders, who may be in need, shall call on the presidents of branches for assistance, and not on the members.
"That the Bishop be instructed to call on the presidents of the different branches for the necessary means to carry on the work."
It was stated in the conference that the Quorum of the Twelve had "resolved that President Joseph Smith, with others whom he may call to his aid, have the examination and supervision of the matter going into the Herald."
Elders Briggs and Powers reported that they had found it impracticable to fill their mission to England, hence had labored elsewhere. The following missions were appointed to members of the Quorum of the Twelve: J. W. Briggs and Samuel Powers, England; W. W. Blair, Western Iowa; Z. H. Gurley, Sen., Illinois; James Blakeslee, Ohio and Indiana; John Shippy, Michigan and Canada; E. C. Briggs, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
October 25,1861, the first General Epistle of the Twelve, under the presidency of Joseph Smith, son of the Martyr, was issued, as follows:-
"To all the Saints scattered abroad, Greeting; Brethren:- Since it has pleased God to call forth the true successor in the Presidency of the church, in the person of Joseph, the son of Joseph, the Martyr, in fulfillment of the promises made to his people, we, in obedience to the injunctions of the Holy Spirit, call upon you to give ear to the voice of the Good Shepherd, and return to the whole law, and to the covenants, as that form of doctrine which being obeyed from the heart maketh you free from sin and servants of righteousness. The Bible, Book of Mormon, and Book of Doctrine and Covenants, contain that law, and those covenants or form of doctrine, to which we point you, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it and find rest to your souls. Mark all who corrupt or pervert it, and avoid them. The perilous times, shown to the ancient apostle, are upon us, and our refuge is in the Lord, who, thanks be to his name, 'holds the reins in his own hands,' and to the obedient
alone are the promises. We beseech you, therefore, brethren, give no heed to the subtle influences of those seducing spirits which were to characterize the departing from the faith in the latter times, but proving them by the plain word of God, resist them, with all those new, fanciful, and strange doctrines, convenient, truly, for such as have turned the grace of God into lasciviousness. But ye have not so learned Christ; having begun in the Spirit, are ye to be perfected through the flesh? Be it known unto all saints that in this the reorganization of the latter-day work, we point only to the old paths from which so many have turned aside in the dark and cloudy day.
"To further this object, faithful elders will be sent as speedily as possible to all quarters, including California, Utah, England, Scotland, and Wales; and to enable us to do this, and to carry on the work of building up the kingdom of God, and to redeem the scattered saints from thraldom [thralldom] through false guides, we appeal to all saints whom the Lord hath made stewards, to aid the same by tithing themselves according to the law of God, and place it in the hands of the Bishop of the Church for these purposes. The most convenient method for doing this at present appears to us to be as follows: Let all presidents of branches act as agents of the Bishop, and receive all means set apart under the law of tithing, keeping a faithful record of all receipts and from whom received, holding the same subject to the order of the Bishop. If paid over in person, a receipt should be taken. All orders from the Bishop, and such receipts should be preserved, and an exhibit thereof, and all means on hand made to each General Conference, that no ground of suspicion as to the application of such means may exist. We are aware that this law has been appealed to as a warrant for acts manifestly oppressive, and that the means obtained by such oppression have been and are as a weapon of power to still further oppress the zealous and devoted. But the perversion, not the law, have been the instruments of this wrong. 'My ways are equal and your ways are unequal, applies to the execution of this law. Obeying it in its spirit, is equal; submitting to its perversion, is unequal and
oppressive. To such as are willing to live by every word of God, and inquire, what is required by this law? we point to the law itself. Firstly, your surplus is required. Secondly, after this, one tenth of your interest or gains from time to time. You are all stewards of the great Master, and what is needed to prosecute your own stewardship is not required, but above this is your surplus; that is required, and of this you, and each of you, are to judge, and be your own exactors, and Israel's exactors are to be all righteous. It is for all that have surnamed themselves Israel, to see that they deal righteously in this matter, as between themselves and Him that seeth the hearts as well as the acts of men. It is but a systematic freewill offering, gathered where it is not needed and placed where it is, for the general weal.
"Finally, brethren, be of good cheer, for the light of truth shines with renewed brilliancy upon the pathway that saints are called to walk. Zion, the pure in heart, must be redeemed by righteousness, but the land of Zion by power. The first we may, by the grace of God, work out; the second, we leave in the hands of him that hath power and that doeth all things well.
"Commending all saints to the mercy of God, and fellowship of his Spirit, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
"By order of the quorum.
"JASON W. BRIGGS, President.
"October 25, 1861."
-True Latter Day Saints' Herald, vol. 2, pp. 155-157.
To this Epistle of the Twelve an "appendix" was subsequently added in the language of President Joseph Smith, partaking of the nature and authority of a revelation from God. It is as follows:-
"APPENDIX TO THE EPISTLE OF THE TWELVE.
"In order to place the church in a position to carry on the promulgation of the gospel, and as a means of fulfilling the law, the Twelve will take measures in connection with the Bishop, to execute the law of tithing; and let them before God see to it, that the temporal means so obtained is truly
used for the purposes of the church, and not as a weapon of power in the hands of one man for the oppression of others, or for the purposes of self-aggrandizement by anyone, be he whomsoever he may be.
"As I live, saith the Lord, in the manner ye execute this matter, so shall ye be judged in the day of judgment.
"President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. SANDWICH, Illinois, October 7, 1861."
-True Latter Day Saints' Herald, vol 2, p. 162.
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