AFTER the events heretofore recorded the instruction given seems to be by way of preparation for the grand event of setting up or organizing the Church of God upon earth. This marks another important epoch in the history of this generation. What strikes the reader with peculiar emphasis is that notwithstanding the events and experiences related are of thrilling interest and importance, Joseph makes no effort at display or embellishment, but relates his narrative in a plain, unvarnished way, as though conscious of the strength of his position, and recognizing no need of a special effort to bolster it up.
"In this manner did the Lord continue to give us instructions from time to time, concerning the duties which now devolved upon us, and among many other things of the kind, we obtained of him the following, by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation; which not only gave us much information, but also pointed out to us the precise day upon which, according to his will and commandment, we should proceed to organize his church once again here upon the earth:-
"The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days,
being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeably to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God in the fourth month and on the sixth day of the month called April; which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jr., who was called of God and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the first elder of this church; and to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the second elder of this church, and ordained under his hand: and this according to the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be all the glory both now and forever. Amen.
"After it was truly manifested unto this first elder that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world; but after repenting, and humbling himself, sincerely, through faith, God ministered unto him by an holy angel whose countenance was as lightning, and whose garments were pure and white above all other whiteness, and gave unto him commandments which inspired him, and gave him power from on high, by the means which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon, which contains a record of a fallen people, and the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, and to the Jews also, which was given by inspiration, and is confirmed to others by the ministering of angels, and is declared unto the world by them, proving to the world that the Holy Scriptures are true, and that God does inspire men and call them to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old, thereby showing that he is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.
"Therefore, having so great witnesses, by them shall the world be judged, even as many as shall hereafter come to a knowledge of this work; and those who receive it in faith and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life; but those who harden their hearts in unbelief and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation, for the Lord God has spoken it; and we, the elders of the church,
have heard and bear witness to the words of the glorious Majesty on high, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
"By these things we know that there is a God in heaven who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth and all things which are in them, and that he created man male and female; after his own image and in his own likeness created he them, and gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship. But by the transgression of these holy laws, man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man.
"Wherefore the almighty God gave his only begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him: he suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them; he was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; and ascended into heaven to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father, that as many as would believe and be baptized, in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved: not only those who believed after he came in the meridian of time in the flesh, but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost, who truly testified of him in all things, should have eternal life, as well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father, and of the Son, which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.
"And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they, cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is just and true; and we know, also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all
their mights, minds, and strength: but there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God. Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptations; yea, and even let those who are sanctified, take heed also. And we know that these things are true and according to the revelations of John, neither adding to, nor diminishing from the prophecy of his book, the Holy Scriptures, or the revelations of God which shall come hereafter by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, the voice of God, or the ministering of angels: and the Lord God has spoken it; and honor, power, and glory, be rendered to his holy name, both now and ever. Amen.
"And again by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism:-
"All those who humble themselves before God and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.
"The duty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the Church of Christ.-
"An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize, and to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons, and to administer bread and wine-the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ-and to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures; and to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church; and to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost, and to take the lead of all meetings.
"The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God.
"The priest's duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize. and administer the sacrament, and visit the
house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret, and attend to all family duties: and he may also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons; and he is to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present, but when there is an elder present he is only to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret, and attend to all family duties. In all these duties the priest is to assist the elder if occasion requires.
"The teacher's duty is to watch over the church always, and be with, and strengthen them, and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other; neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty, and he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest, and is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the deacons, if occasion requires; but neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament, or lay on hands; they are, however, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ.
"Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon, is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost which is in the one who ordains him.
"The several elders composing this Church of Christ are to meet in conference once in three months, or from time to time, as said conferences shall direct or appoint; and said conferences are to do whatever church business is necessary, to be done at the time.
"The elders are to receive their licenses from other elders, by vote of the church to which they belong, or from the conferences.
"Each priest, teacher, or deacon, who is ordained by a priest, may take a certificate from him at the time, which certificate, when presented to an elder, shall entitle him to a license, which shall authorize him to perform the duties of his calling; or he may receive it from a conference
"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; but the presiding elders, traveling bishops, high counselors, high priests, and elders, may have the privilege of ordaining, where there is no branch of the church, that a vote may be called.
"Every president of the high priesthood (or presiding elder), bishop, high counselor, and high priest, is to be ordained by the direction of a high council, or general conference.
"The duty of the members after they are received by baptism:-
"The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the Church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the sacrament, and being confirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders; so that all things may be done in order. And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by godly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, walking in holiness before the Lord
"Every member of the Church of Christ having children, is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name.
"No one can be received into the Church of Christ unless he has arrived unto the years of accountability before God, and is capable of repentance.
"Baptism is to be administered in the following manner unto all those who repent: The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented him or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water.
"It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus; and the elder or priest shall administer it; and after this manner he administer it: He shall kneel with the
church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer, saying, O God, the eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
"The manner of administering the wine: He shall take the cup also, and say: O God, the eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son which was shed for them, that they may witness unto thee, O God, the eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
"Any member of the Church of Christ transgressing, or being overtaken in a fault, shall be dealt with as the scriptures direct.
"It shall be the duty of the several churches composing the Church of Christ to send one or more of their teachers to attend the several conferences, held by the elders of the church, with a list of the names of the several members uniting themselves with the church since the last conference, or send by the hand of some priest, so that a regular list of all the names of the whole church may be kept in a book, by one of the elders, whoever the other elders shall appoint from time to time, and also if any have been expelled from the church, so that their names may be blotted out of the general church record of names.
"All members removing from the church where they reside, if going to a church where they are not known, may take a letter certifying that they are regular members and in good standing, which certificate may be signed by any elder or priest, if the member receiving the letter is personally acquainted with the elder or priest, or it may be signed the teachers or deacons of the church.
"Meantime our translation drawing to a close, we went to
Palmyra, Wayne County, New York, secured the copyright, and agreed with Mr. Egbert Grandin to print five thousand copies, for the sum of three thousand dollars.
"I wish also to mention here, that the title page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated; the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that said title page is not by any means a modern composition either of mine or of any other man's who has lived or does live in this generation. Therefore, in order to correct an error which generally exists concerning it, I give below that part of the title page of the English version of the Book of Mormon, which is a genuine and literal translation of the title page of the original Book of Mormon, as recorded on the plates.
"'THE BOOK OF MORMON.
"'An account written by the hand of Mormon, upon plates, taken from the plates of Nephi.
"'Wherefore it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile: written by way of commandment, and also by the Spirit of prophecy and of revelation.
"'Written, and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed: to come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof: sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God.
"'An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether, also; which is a record of the people of Jared: who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people when they were building a tower to get to heaven: which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever; and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile
that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations. And now if there are faults, they are the mistakes of men; therefore condemn not the thing of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ.'
"The remainder of the title page is, of course, modern."
-Times and Seasons
, vol. 3, pp. 928-931, 943.
About this time a revelation to Martin Harris was received. 1
Joseph resumes his narrative as follows:-
"Whilst the Book of Mormon was in the hands of the printer, we still continued to bear testimony and give information, as far as we had opportunity; and also made known to our brethren that we had received commandment to organize the church, and accordingly we met together for that purpose, at the house of the above mentioned Mr. Whitmer (being six in number) on Tuesday, the sixth day of April, A. D. one thousand eight and thirty. [Lev23:5
Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our heavenly Father we proceeded (according to previous commandment
to call on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the kingdom of God, and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a church according to said commandment which we had received. To these they consented by a unanimous vote. I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery and ordained him an elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,' after which he ordained me also to the office of an elder of said church. We then took bread, blessed it, and brake it with them, also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them. We then laid our hands on each individual member of the church present that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree. Some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord and rejoiced exceedingly."-Times and Seasons, vol. 3, pp. 944, 945.
Thus in a few plain, simple words is chronicled the history of the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ, at Fayette, Seneca County, New York, on Tuesday, April 6, 1830, with only six members; a partial organization to be sure, but provision had already been made for a complete organization. Revelation had been given providing for a quorum of apostles, for elders, priests, teachers, and deacons, and the duties of each defined. Provision had been made for a president of the high priesthood, bishop, high counselor, high priest, and general church recorder. Provision had been made for local churches; the transferring of membership from one church to another; for the holding of conferences. Instruction was given regarding ordination, the granting of licenses, the instruction of those baptized, the blessing of children, manner of baptism, administering the sacrament, and other essential features of church government. This appears from the fact that the revelation (section 17) was given some time before the organization effected April 6, 1830; for by it, according to the foregoing history, they learned the exact day on which the organization was to take place. Was Joseph Smith making
provision for all this stupendous organization and its practical workings by his own wisdom and cunning? If so, he was taking desperate chances on being able to find the requisite material-the men to fill the places provided for them. Yet as time moved on, men who had not known of the existence of Joseph Smith when the provision was made, came forward one by one, dropped into line, took the positions provided for them, subscribed to the fraud, if fraud it was, and cheerfully suffered persecution, violence, and death for the cause. And still, after more than half a century has elapsed, men of talent and moral influence are leaving positions of wealth and honor to accept positions in the ranks of that great army, provision for which was made ere the material for its organization was found.
Reader, you have your choice between believing that such a series of events could have been provided for by the sagacity of Joseph Smith, or of believing his claim that he was inspired of God to lay the foundation and provide for the unfolding of God's plan and the development of his church. As historians we do no more than to record these facts for your consideration.
Joseph continues as follows:-
"We now proceeded to call out and ordain some others of the brethren to different offices of the priesthood, according as the Spirit manifested unto us; and after a happy time spent in witnessing and feeling for ourselves the powers and the blessings of the Holy Ghost, through the grace of God bestowed upon us, we dismissed with the pleasing knowledge that we were now individually members of, and acknowledged of God, 'The Church of Jesus Christ,' organized in accordance with commandments and revelations given by him to ourselves in the last days, as well as according to the order of the church as recorded in the New Testament.
"Several persons who had attended the above meeting and got convinced of the truth, came forward shortly after, and were received into the church, among the rest, my own father and mother were baptized to my great joy and consolation,
and about the same time Martin Harris and A. Rockwell."-Times and Seasons
, vol. 4, p. 12.
Before separating on this memorable sixth of April further revelation was received. 2
Soon after instruction was given concerning those who wished to unite with the church on baptisms received in other churches. 3
During the same month was also received a revelation to Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel E. Smith, Joseph Smith, Sr., and Joseph Knight, Sr., in answer to their
request to know their respective duties in relation to the work. 4
A few facts regarding the publication of the Book of Mormon may be of value. Joseph Smith does not state in his history what day the translation was finished. We learn from the certificate of the clerk of the court that the title page was deposited in his office on June 11, 1829.
Here is the certificate as published in the first edition:-
"Northern District of New-York, to wit:
"BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the eleventh day of June, in the fifty-third year of the Independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1829, JOSEPH SMITH, JUN. of the said District, hath deposited in this office the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as author, in the words following, to wit: 'The Book of Mormon: an account written by the hand of Mormon, upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi. Wherefore it is an abridgment of the Record of the People of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile;
written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of Prophecy and of Revelation. Written, and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of God, unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God; an abridgment taken from the Book of Ether. Also, which is a Record of the People of Jared, which were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people when they were building a tower to get to Heaven: which is to shew unto the remnant of the House of Israel, how great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever: and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile, that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting Himself unto all nations. And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men; wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ.-By Joseph Smith, Jun. Author and Proprietor.'
"In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, 'An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned;' and also the act, entitled, 'An act supplementary to an act, entitled, "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.'
R. R. LANSING,
"Clerk of the Northern District of New-York."
Mr. John H. Gilbert, of Palmyra, New York, who claims to have set the type for the Book of Mormon, was interviewed at his residence by Elders W. H and E. L. Kelley, on March 5,1881. To them he said:-
"The manuscript was put in our hands in August, 1829, and all printed by March, 1830."-Saints' Herald
, vol. 28, .p. 166
From the best information we can obtain we are confident that these dates are approximately if not exactly correct.
As will be seen in the foregoing extracts, Joseph Smith tells us how much of the title page was taken from the plates, and how much is modern. We here insert the title page of the Palmyra edition, which please read in connection with Joseph Smith's description heretofore given:-
BOOK OF MORMON:
AN ACCOUNT WRITTEN BY THE HAND OF MOR-
MON, UPON PLATES TAKEN FROM
THE PLATES OF NEPHI.
Wherefore it is an abridgment of the Record of the People of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites written to the Lamanites which are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile; written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of Prophecy and of Revelation. Written, and sealed up, and hid up unto the LORD, that they might not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of GOD unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the LORD, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of GOD; an abridgment taken from the Book of Ether.
Also, which is a Record of the People of Jared, which were scattered at the time the LORD confounded the language of the people when they were building a tower to get to Heaven: which is to shew unto the remnant of the House of Israel how great things the LORD hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the LORD, that they are not cast off forever; and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting Himself unto all nations. And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men; wherefore condemn not the things of GOD, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of CHRIST.
BY JOSEPH SMITH, JUNIOR,
AUTHOR AND PROPRIETOR.
PRINTED BY E. B. GRANDIN, FOR THE AUTHOR.
It will be seen that the words, of which so much has been said by critics; viz., "By Joseph Smith, Junior, Author and Proprietor," are not a part of the record found on the plates, but are a modern addition.
The reason he is called the "author" is, doubtless, as set forth in the clerk's certificate quoted above, that he might be entitled to the rights of an author under the law.
Observe the words of the clerk: "Be it remembered, That on the eleventh day of June, in the fifty-third year of the Independence of the United States of America, A D. 1829, Joseph Smith, Jun. of the said District, hath deposited in this office the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as author," etc.
This was his protection under the law, and by being known in law as the author, he was entitled to the rights of an author; and yet there was no deception, for in his "preface" to the book, which is given below, he fully explains what the work was and his relation to it. No one who reads should misunderstand his claim:-
"TO THE READER-
"As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by evil designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon; which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again-and being commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over again, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation,
that they might not receive this work: but behold, the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing: therefore thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated, which ye have retained; and behold ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words. I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will shew unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the Devil. Wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, I have, through his grace and mercy, accomplished that which he hath commanded me respecting this thing. I would also inform you that the plates of which hath been spoken, were found in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, New York.
The work was zealously and vigorously pushed by its adherents. Accessions were constantly being made. With confidence in final triumph they met every species of opposition, including slander, personal violence, and abuse, but were cheered, comforted, and strengthened by manifestations of power not known or comprehended by the religious world. Since the very hour of its introduction to the public "Mormonism" (so-called) has presented a problem to the world which has not yet been solved to the satisfaction of all. Each writer and speaker has his theory, but the only ones whose solution seems to satisfy even themselves are those who accept its claims as being true. In every place where it has been promulgated these testify with calm yet earnest conviction of complete satisfaction.
Let us hear the statement of the prophet concerning the preaching and baptisms, also of the first miracle performed in the church:-
"On Sunday, April 11, 1830, Oliver Cowdery preached the first public discourse that was delivered by any of our number. Our meeting was held by previous appointment at the house of Mr. Whitmer, [in] Fayette. Large numbers of people attended, and the same day the following were baptized; viz.: Hyrum Page, Katharine Page, Christian Whitmer, Anne Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Elizabeth Whitmer;
and on the 18th day Peter Whitmer, Sr., Mary Whitmer, William Jolly, Elizabeth Jolly, Vincent Jolly, Richard Z. Peterson, and Elizabeth Anne Whitmer, all by Oliver Cowdery in Seneca Lake.
"During this month of April I went on a visit to the residence of Mr. Joseph Knight, of Colesville, Broome County, New York, with whom and his family I had been previously acquainted, and of whose name I have above mentioned as having been so kind and thoughtful towards us, while translating the Book of Mormon. Mr. Knight and his family were Universalists, but were willing to reason with me upon my religious views, and were as usual friendly and hospitable. We held several meetings in the neighborhood; we had many friends, and some enemies. Our meetings were well attended, and many began to pray fervently to Almighty God, that he would give them wisdom to understand the truth. Amongst those who attended our meetings regularly was Newel Knight, son to Joseph Knight. He and I had many and serious conversations on the important subject of man's eternal salvation: we had got into the habit of praying much at our meetings and Newel had said that he would try and take up his cross, and pray vocally during meeting; but when we again met together he rather excused himself; I tried to prevail upon him making use of the figure, supposing that he should get into a mudhole would he not try to help himself out? and that we were willing now to help him out of the mudhole. He replied that provided he had got into a mudhole through carelessness, he would rather wait and get out himself than have others to help him, and so he would wait until he should get into the woods by himself, and there he would pray. Accordingly he deferred praying until next morning, when he retired into the woods; where (according to his own account afterwards) he made several attempts to pray but could scarcely do so, feeling that he had not done his duty, but that he should have prayed in the presence of others. He began to feel uneasy, and continued to feel worse both in mind and body, until upon reaching his own house, his appearance was such as to alarm his wife very much. He requested her to go and bring me to him. I
went and found him suffering very much in his mind, and his body acted upon in a very strange manner. His visage and limbs distorted and twisted in every shape and appearance possible to imagine; and finally he was caught up off the floor of the apartment and tossed about most fearfully. His situation was soon made known to his neighbors and relatives, and in a short time as many as eight or nine grown persons had got together to witness the scene. After he had thus suffered for a time, I succeeded in getting hold of him by the hand, when almost immediately he spoke to me, and with great earnestness requested of me that I should cast the devil out of him, saying that he knew he was in him, and that he also knew that I could cast him out. I replied, 'If you know that I can it shall be done,' and then almost unconsciously I rebuked the devil; and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to depart from him; when immediately Newel spoke out and said that he saw the devil leave him and vanish from his sight.
"This was the first miracle which was done in this church or by any member of it, and it was done not by man nor by the power of man, but it was done by God, and by the power of godliness: therefore let the honor and the praise, the dominion and the glory be ascribed to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
"The scene was now entirely changed, for as soon as the devil had departed from our friend, his countenance became natural, his distortions of body ceased, and almost immediately the Spirit of the Lord descended upon him, and the visions of eternity were opened to his view. He afterwards related his experience as follows: 'I now began to feel a most pleasing sensation resting upon me, and immediately the visions of heaven were opened to my view. I felt myself attracted upward, and remained for some time enwrapt in contemplation, insomuch that I knew not what was going on in the room. By and by I felt some weight pressing upon my shoulder and the side of my head; which served to recall me to a sense of my situation, and I found that the Spirit of the Lord had actually caught me up off the floor, and that my shoulder and head were pressing against the beams.'
"All this was witnessed by many, to their great astonishment and satisfaction, when they saw the devil thus cast out; and the power of God and his Holy Spirit thus made manifest. So soon as consciousness returned, his bodily weakness was such that we were obliged to lay him upon his bed and wait upon him for some time. As may be expected, such a scene as this contributed much to make believers of those who witnessed it, and finally, the greater part of them became members of the church.
"Soon after this occurrence I returned to Fayette, Seneca County. The Book of Mormon ('The stick of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim') had now been published for some time, and as the ancient prophet had predicted of it, 'It was accounted as a strange thing.' No small stir was created by its appearance; great opposition and much persecution followed the believers of its authenticity; but it had now come to pass that truth had sprung out of the earth, and righteousness had looked down from heaven; so we feared not our opponents, knowing that we had both truth and righteousness on our side; that we had both the Father and the Son, because we had the doctrines of Christ, and abided in them; and therefore we continued to preach, and to give information to all who were willing to hear.
"During the last week in May, the above-mentioned Newel Knight came to visit us, at Fayette, and was baptized by David Whitmer.
"On the first day of June, 1830, we held our first conference as an organized church. Our numbers were about thirty, besides whom many assembled with us, who were either believers, or anxious to learn.
"Having opened by singing and prayer, we partook together of the emblems of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We then proceeded to confirm several who had lately been baptized, after which we called out and ordained several to the various offices of the priesthood. Much exhortation and instruction was given, and the Holy Ghost was poured out upon us in a miraculous manner:-many of our number prophesied, whilst others had the heavens opened to their view, and were so overcome that we had to lay them on
beds, or other convenient places. Among the rest was brother Newel Knight, who had to be placed on a bed, being unable to help himself. By his own account of the transaction he could not understand why we should lay him on the bed, as he felt no sensibility of weakness. He felt his heart filled with love, with glory and pleasure unspeakable, and could discern all that was going on in the room; when, all of a sudden, a vision of futurity burst upon him. He saw there represented the great work which through my instrumentality was yet to be accomplished. He saw heaven opened, and beheld the Lord Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and had it made plain to his understanding that the time would come when he would be admitted into his presence, to enjoy his society forever and ever. When their bodily strength was restored to these brethren, they shouted 'Hosannas to God and the Lamb,' and rehearsed the glorious things which they had seen and felt, whilst they were yet in the Spirit.
"Such scenes as these were calculated to inspire our hearts with joy unspeakable, and fill us with awe and reverence for that almighty Being by whose grace we had been called to be instrumental in bringing about for the children of men the enjoyment of such glorious blessings as were now poured out upon us. To find ourselves engaged in the very same order of things as observed by the holy apostles of old; to realize the importance and solemnity of such proceedings, and to witness and feel with our own natural senses the like glorious manifestations of the power of the priesthood; the gifts and blessings of the Holy Ghost; and the goodness and condescension of a merciful God, unto such as obey the everlasting gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; combined to create within us sensations of rapturous gratitude, and inspire us with fresh zeal and energy in the cause of truth.
"Shortly after this conference David Whitmer baptized the following persons in Seneca Lake; viz.: John Poorman, John Jolly, Jerusha Smith, Katharine Smith, William Smith, Don C. Smith, Peter Rockwell, Caroline Rockwell, and Electa Rockwell.
"Immediately after this conference I returned to my own
house, and from thence (accompanied by my wife, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, and David Whitmer) journeyed again on a visit to Mr. Knight's, of Colesville, Broome County. We found a number in the neighborhood still believing and anxious to be baptized.
"We appointed a meeting for the Sabbath, and on the afternoon of Saturday we erected a dam across a stream of water which was convenient, for the purpose of there attending to the ordinance; but during the night a mob collected and tore down our dam, which hindered us of attending to the baptism on the Sabbath.
"We afterward found out that this mob had been instigated to this act of molestation by certain sectarian priests of the neighborhood, who began to consider their craft in danger, and took this plan to stop the progress of the truth, and the sequel will show how determinedly they prosecuted their opposition, as well as to how little purpose in the end.
"The Sabbath arrived and we held our meeting. Oliver Cowdery preached, and others of us bore testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, the doctrine of repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, etc., etc. Amongst our audience were those who had torn down our dam, and who seemed wishful to give us trouble, but did not until after the meeting was dismissed, when they immediately commenced talking to those whom they considered our friends, to try to turn them against us and our doctrines."-Times and Seasons, vol 4, pp. 12, 13, 22, 23.
These blessings and manifestations were strange in those days, for most Christians had concluded that since the apostles fell asleep revelations and miracles had ceased. They are yet esteemed by many to be unworthy of credence, yet some noted men of the past have understood that Christians were entitled to them if worthy. John Wesley says, in regard to their ceasing to be enjoyed, "The cause of this was not, (as has been vulgarly supposed,) 'because there was no more occasion for them,' because all the world was become Christians. This is a miserable mistake:
not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christians. The real cause was, 'the love of many,' almost of all Christians, so-called, was 'waxed cold.' The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ, than the other heathens. The Son of man, when he came to examine his church, could hardly 'find faith upon earth.' This was the real cause, why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian church; because the Christians were turned heathens again, and had only a dead form left."-Wesley's Sermons, vol. 2, ser. 94.
Alexander Campbell wrote:-
"We want the old gospel back, and sustained by the ancient order of things: and this alone, by the blessing of the Divine Spirit, is all that we do want, or can expect, to reform and save the world. And if this gospel, as proclaimed and enforced on Pentecost, cannot do this, vain are the hopes, and disappointed must be the expectations, of the so-called Christian world."-Christian System, pp. 234, 235; (also St. Louis edition of 1890, p. 250.
Joseph Smith, then, was not alone in seeing the necessity and in recognizing the possibility of a restoration of the gospel, "sustained by the ancient order of things," the enjoyment of the Holy Spirit, together with its extraordinary gifts. History records the fact, as we have seen, that others held similar views on this subject. However, he did claim more than they, so far as realization is concerned, as in the instance of the healing of Mr. Knight, as recorded above. If in this claim he bore false witness, he should be condemned and the fraud exposed. His claim seems to be remarkably verified, however, by creditable witnesses not of his religious faith.
We give a few out of the many on record as examples of this testimony:-
"Whatever we may say of the moral character of the author of Mormonism, it cannot be denied that Joseph Smith was a man of remarkable power-over others. Added testimony to the stupendous claim of supernatural power, conferred by the direct gift of God, he exercised an almost magnetic
power-an irresistible fascination-over those with whom he came in contact. Ezra Booth, of Mantua, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture, and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of this place, visited Smith at his home in Kirtland, in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afflicted for some time with a lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Smith partly out of curiosity, and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview, the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said, 'Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men now on earth to cure her?' A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith rose, and walking across the room, taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: 'Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole,' and immediately left the room.
"The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock-I know not how better to explain the well-attested fact-electrified the rheumatic arm-Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it up with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain."-Hayden's History of The Western Reserve," pp. 249, 250.
"In the San Francisco Weekly Chronicle, November 23, 1882, in an article entitled 'Stalwarts Rebuked,' signed 'Gath,' he in treating of the late President Garfield relates that the latter said to him, 'There is a corner in my character which makes everything of a supernatural or mystical sort, very fascinating to me.' Gath further says: 'He then told me a number of tales, all original and peculiar. For instance, he related that in his district, at a place called Kirtland, Joseph Smith, the Mormon, had gathered his first congregation, and there was a person brought to Smith, apparently possessed of a devil, with
something that made the man froth, or bark. Smith, whom General Garfield described to be a fine man physically, with abundant magnetism, put the subject under his control, and finally raising his hands, shouted with a powerful voice, "I command that you come out of him!" And the General said that it was in testimony that the man behaved like one in his right mind after that.'"-Saints' Herald, vol. 35, p. 779.
"The testimony of Mr. Garfield is surprising only in the fact that it came from him. That Joseph Smith did, by the power of God, cast out devils, is a matter well authenticated and thoroughly believed in by the saints, though stoutly denied by his enemies, and imputed by Mr. Garfield to magnetism. Magnetism is one thing, and the Holy Spirit is another and very different thing. Joseph Smith wrought by the latter, which is the highest and greatest of all powers." (Saints' Herald. Editorial comment.
We have selected these two out of many hundreds because of the prominence of the persons. Mr. A. S. Hayden was a prominent minister and author in the "Christian Church." Of the lamented President James A. Garfield, we need say nothing. The facts are clearly stated and, in one case at least, said to be well attested. True, both Mr. Garfield and Mr. Hayden seek to attribute these results to the effect of magnetism, but this is rather a hasty way of disposing of a "well attested fact." Similar Bible facts could be disposed of in a similar way, but Christians would not be satisfied, they would demand a closer investigation. Why not give these well-attested facts a fuller consideration?
Joseph Smith not only claimed to receive the power of God, as in the case of Mr. Knight, given above, but as early as December, 1830, the promise was given through him that all who believed should receive blessings wrought by the power of God. He states:-
"And it shall come to pass, that there shall be a great work in the land, even among the Gentiles, for their folly and their abominations shall be made manifest, in the eyes of all people; for I am God, and mine arm is not shortened, and I will show miracles, signs and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name. And whoso shall ask it in my
name, in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk: and the time speedily cometh that great things are to be shown forth unto the children of men; but without faith shall not anything be shown forth except desolations upon Babylon, the same which has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And there are none that doeth good except those who are ready to receive the fullness of my gospel, which I have sent forth unto this generation."-Doctrine and Covenants 34:3
These promises have been so generally fulfilled and these blessings so universally enjoyed that wherever the reader may find a representative of the work a witness will be found; and so we refer you to them wherever found for further evidence on this great and important subject.
(from page 75
1. I am Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord; yea, even I am He, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world: I having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am, even the Father, concerning me; having done this, that I might subdue all things unto myself; retaining all power, even to the destroying of Satan and his works at the end of the world, and the last great day of judgment, which I shall pass upon the inhabitants thereof, judging every man according to his works, and the deeds which he has done. And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I God am endless; wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth; yea, to those who are found on my left hand nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment; but it is written endless torment.
2. Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name's glory; wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles. I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest, for behold, the mystery of Godliness, how great is it? For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name; wherefore-
Eternal punishment is God's punishment.
Endless punishment is God's punishment.
Wherefore, I command you to repent, and keep the commandments which you have received by the hand of my servant Joseph Smith, Jr., in my name; and it is by my almighty power that you have received them therefore I command you to repent-repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore-how sore you know not how exquisite you know not! yea, how hard to bear you know not! For, behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer, if they would repent; but if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit, and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink; nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men; wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea even in the least degree, you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit. And I command you that you preach naught but repentance, and show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me; for they cannot bear meat now but milk they must receive: wherefore, they
(from page 76
must not know these things, lest they perish. Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit and you shall have peace in me. I am Jesus Christ; I came by the will of the Father, and I do his will.
3. And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife nor seek thy neighbor's life. And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon, which contains the truth and the word of God, which is my word to the Gentile, that soon it may go to the Jew, of whom the Lamanites are a remnant, that they may believe the gospel, and look not for a Messiah to come who has already come.
4. And again, I command thee that thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret; in public as well as in private. And thou shalt declare glad tidings; yea, publish it upon the mountains, and upon every high place, and among every people that thou shalt be permitted to see. And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers. And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of, sins by baptism and by fire; yea, even the Holy Ghost.
5. Behold, this is a great, and the last commandment which I shall give unto you concerning this matter; for this shall suffice for thy daily walk even unto the end of thy life. And misery thou shalt receive, if thou wilt slight these counsels; yea, even the destruction of thyself and property. Impart a portion of thy property; yea, even part of thy lands, and all save the support of thy family. Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage. Leave thy house and home, except when thou shalt desire to see thy family; and speak freely to all; yea, preach, exhort, declare the truth, even with aloud voice; with a sound of rejoicing, crying Hosanna! hosanna! blessed be the name of the Lord God.
6. Pray always and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing; yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof. Behold, canst thou read this without rejoicing and lifting up thy heart for gladness; or canst thou run about longer as a blind guide; or canst thou be humble and meek and conduct thyself wisely before me; yea, come unto me thy Savior. Amen.
(from page 79
l. Behold, there shall be a record kept among you, and in it thou shalt 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 your Lord Jesus Christ being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith; which church was organized and established, in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month, which is called April.
2. Wherefore, 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 word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth in all patience and faith, for by doing these things, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you, yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory. For thus saith the Lord God, him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good; and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard yea, his weeping for Zion I have seen, and I will cause that he shall mourn for her no longer, for his days of rejoicing are come unto the remission of his sins, and the manifestations of my blessings upon his works.
3. For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard, with a mighty blessing, and they shall believe on his words, which are given him through me, by the Comforter, which manifesteth that Jesus was crucified by sinful men for the sins of the world; yea, for the remission of sins unto the contrite heart. Wherefore, it behooveth me, that he should be ordained by you, Oliver Cowdery, mine apostle, this being an ordinance unto you, that you are an elder under his hand, he being the first unto you, that you might be an elder unto this Church of Christ, bearing my name; and the first preacher of this church, unto the church, and before the world; yea, before the gentiles, yea, and thus saith the Lord God, lo, lo! to the Jews, also. Amen.
3 1. Behold, I say unto you, that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing, and this is a new and an everlasting covenant; even that which was from the beginning. Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times, it availeth him nothing; for you cannot enter in at the straight gate by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works; for it is because of your dead works, that I have caused this last covenant, and this church to be built up unto me; even as in days of old. Wherefore, enter ye in at the gate, as I have commanded and seek not to council your God. Amen
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1. Behold, I speak unto you, Oliver, a few words. Behold, thou art blessed, and art under no condemnation. But beware of pride, lest thou shouldst enter into temptation. Make known thy calling unto the church, and also before the world; and thy heart shall be opened to preach the truth from henceforth and forever. Amen.
2. Behold, I speak unto you, Hyrum, a few words, for thou also art under no condemnation, and thy heart is opened, and thy tongue loosed; and thy calling is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church continually. Wherefore thy duty is unto the church forever; and this because of thy family. Amen.
3. Behold, I speak a few words unto you, Samuel, for thou also art under no condemnation, and thy calling is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church. And thou art not as yet called to preach before the world. Amen.
4. Behold, I speak a few words unto you, Joseph; for thou also art under no condemnation and thy calling also is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church. And this is thy duty from henceforth and forever. Amen.
5. Behold, I manifest unto you, Joseph Knight, by these words, that you must take up your cross, in the which you must pray vocally before the world, as well as in secret, and in your family, and among your friends, and in all places. And, behold, it is your duty to unite with the true church, and give your language to exhortation continually, that you may receive the reward of the laborer. Amen.