The Lectures On Faith—Twelve Apostles Chosen and Ordained.
The Lectures on Theology. 1.
January, 1835.—During the month of January, I was engaged in the school of the Elders, and in preparing the lectures on theology for publication in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, which the committee appointed last September were now compiling.
Brethren Moving West Halted at Kirtland.
Certain brethren from Bolton, New York, came for counsel, relative to their proceeding to the West; and the High Council assembled on the 18th. After a long investigation I decided that Elder Tanner assist with his might to build up the cause by tarrying in Kirtland; which decision received the unanimous vote of the council.
The school of the Elders will continue, and arrangements were also made, according to the revelation of June, 1829, 1 for choosing “the Twelve Apostles” to be especial messengers to bear the Gospel among the nations.
On the Sabbath previous to the 14th of February, (February 8th) Brothers Joseph and Brigham Young came to my house after meeting, and sung for me; the Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon us, and I told them I wanted to see those brethren together, who went up to Zion in the camp, the previous summer, for I had a blessing for them; and a meeting was appointed of which the following are the minutes: 2.
Minutes of the Meetings at which the Twelve Apostles were Chosen, Ordained and Instructed.
Kirtland, February 14, 1835.—This day, a meeting was called of those who journeyed last season to Zion for the purpose of laying the foundation of its redemption, together with as many other of the brethren and sisters as were disposed to attend.
President Joseph Smith, Jun., presiding, read the 15th chapter of John, and said: Let us endeavor to solemnize our minds that we may receive a blessing, by calling on the Lord. After an appropriate and affecting prayer, the brethren who went to Zion [ in Zion’s camp ] were requested to take their seats together in a part of the house by themselves.
President Smith then stated that the meeting had been called, because God had commanded it; and it was made known to him by vision 3 and by the Holy Spirit. He then gave a relation of some of the circumstances attending while journeying to Zion—our trials, sufferings; and said God had not designed all this for nothing, but He had it in remembrance yet; 4 and it was the will of God that those who went Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh—even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.
The president also said many things; such as the weak things, even the smallest and weakest among us, shall be powerful and mighty, and great things shall be accomplished by you from this hour; and you shall begin to feel the whisperings of the Spirit of God; and the work of God shall begin to break forth from this time; and you shall be endowed with power from on high.
President then called up all those who went to Zion, if they were agreed with him in the statement which he had made, to arise; and they all arose and stood upon their feet.
He then called upon the remainder of the congregation, to know if they also sanctioned the move, and they all raised their right hand.
The names of those who went to Zion in the camp are as follows: 5
Hazen Aldrich, Alonzo Champlin, Joseph S. Allen, Jacob Chapman, Isaac Allred, William Cherry, James Allred, John M. Chidester, Martin Allred, Alden Childs, Milo Andrus, Nathaniel Childs, Solomon Angel, Stephen Childs, Allen A. Avery, Albert Clements, Almon W. Babbitt, Thomas Colborn, Alexander Badlam, Alanson Colby, Samuel Baker, Zera S. Cole, Nathan Bennett Baldwin, Zebedee Coltrin, Elam Barber, Libeus T. Coon, Israel Barlow, Horace Cowan, Lorenzo D. Barnes, Lyman Curtis, Edson Barney, Mecham Curtis, Royal Barney, Solomon W. Denton, Henry Benner, Peter Doff, Samuel Bent, David D. Dort, Hiram Backman, John Duncan, Lorenzo Booth, James Dunn, George W. Brooks, Philemon Duzette, Albert Brown, Philip Effleman, Harry Brown, Bradford W. Elliot, Samuel Brown, David Elliot, John Brownell, David Evans, Peter Buchanan, Asa Field, Alden Burdick, Edmund Fisher, Harrison Burgess, Alfred Fisk, David Byur, Hezekiah Fisk, William F. Cahoon, Elijah Fordham, John Carpenter, George Fordham, John S. Carter, Frederick Forney, Daniel Cathcart, John Fossett, Solon Foster, James Foster, Jacob Gates, William S. Ivie, Benjamin Gifford, William Jessop,
Levi Gifford, Luke S. Johnson, Sherman Gilbert, Lyman E. Johnson, Tru Glidden, Noah Johnson, Dean C. Gould, Seth Johnson, Jedediah M. Grant, Isaac Jones, Addison Green, Levi Jones, Michael Griffith, Charles Kelley, Everett Griswold, Heber C. Kimball, Elisha Groves, Samuel Kingsley, Joseph Hancock, Dennis Lake, Levi W. Hancock, Jesse B. Lawson, Joseph Harmon, L. S. Lewis, Henry Herriman, Josiah Littlefield, Martin Harris, Lyman O. Littlefield, Joseph Hartshorn, Waldo Littlefield, Thomas Hayes, Amasa M. Lyman, Nelson Higgins, Moses Martin, Seth Hitchcock, Edward W. Marvin, Amos Hogers, Reuben McBride, Chandler Holbrook, Robert McCord, Joseph Holbrook, Eleazer Miller, Milton Holmes, John Miller, Osmon Houghton, Justin Morse, Marshal Hubbard, John Murdock, Solomon Humphrey, Freeman Nickerson, Joseph Huntsman, Levi S. Nickerson, John Hustin, Uriah C. Nickerson, Elias Hutchins, Joseph Nicholas, Heman T. Hyde, Joseph B. Noble, Orson Hyde, Ur. North, Warren S. Ingalls, Roger Orton, Edward Ivie, John D. Parker, James R. Ivie, Warren Parrish, John A. Ivie, Orson Pratt, William D. Pratt, Charles C. Rich, Leonard Rich, Samuel Thompson, Darwin Richardson, Wm. P. Tippetts, Burr Riggs, Tinney Thomas, Harpin Riggs, Nelson Tribbs, Nathaniel Riggs, Joel Vaughn, Milcher Riley, Salmon Warner, Alanson Ripley, William Weden,
Lewis Robbins, Elias Strong, Erastus Rudd, John Joshua Tanner, William Henry Sagers, Ezra Thayer, Wilkins Jenkins Salisbury, Nathan Tanner, Henry Sherman, James L. Thompson, Lyman Sherman, Elias Wells, Henry Shibley, Alexander Whitesides, Cyrus Smalling, Andrew W. Whitlock, Avery Smith, Lyman Wight, George A. Smith, Eber Wilcox, Hyrum Smith, Sylvester B. Wilkinson, Jackson Smith, Frederick G. Williams, Zechariah B. Smith, Alonzo Winchester, Joseph Smith, Benjamin Winchester, Lyman Smith, Lupton Winchester, Sylvester Smith, Alvin Winegar, William Smith, Samuel Winegar, Willard Snow, Hiram Winter, Harvey Stanley, Henry Wissmiller, Hyrum Stratton, Wilford Woodruff, Zerubbabel Snow, Brigham Young, Daniel Stephens, Joseph Young.
Women in Zion’s Camp. Charlotte Alvord, Mary Chidester, Sophronia Curtis, Diana Drake, Mary Snow Gates, Eunice Holbrook, Nancy Lambson Holbrook, Mrs. Houghton, Betsy Parrish, ————Ripley. Ada Clements,
Children in Zion’s Camp Diana Holbrook, daughter of Chandler Holbrook, Sarah Lucretia Holbrook, daughter of Joseph Holbrook, Charlotte Holbrook, daughter of Joseph Holbrook, ——————————, daughter of Alvin Winegar, Sarah Pulsipher, daughterh of Zera Pulsipher, John P. Chidester, son of John M. Chidester, Eunice Chidester, daughter of John M. Chidester.
President Joseph Smith, Jun., after making many remarks on the subject of choosing the Twelve, wanted an expression from the brethren, if they would be satisfied to have the Spirit of the Lord dictate in the choice of the Elders to be Apostles; whereupon all the Elders present expressed their anxious desire to have it so.
A hymn was then sung, “Hark, listen to the trumpeters.” 6 President Hyrum Smith prayed, and meeting was dismissed for one hour.
Assembled pursuant to adjournment, and commenced with prayer.
President Joseph Smith, Jun., said that the first business of the meeting was, for the Three Witnesses 7 of the Book of Mormon, to pray each one, and then proceed to choose twelve men from the Church, as Apostles, to go to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.
The Three Witnesses, viz., Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, united in prayer.
These Three Witnesses were then blessed by the laying on of the hands of the Presidency.
The Witnesses then, according to a former commandment, proceeded to make choice of the Twelve. Their names are as follows:
1. Lyman E. Johnson,
2. Brigham Young,
3. Heber C. Kimball,
4. Orson Hyde,
5. David W. Patten,
6. Luke S. Johnson,
7. William E. M’Lellin,
8. John F. Boynton,
9. Orson Pratt,
10. William Smith,
11. Thomas P. Marsh,
12. Parley P. Pratt,
Lyman E. Johnson, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball came forward; and the Three Witnesses laid their hands upon each one’s head and prayed, separately. 8
The blessing of Lyman E. Johnson was, in the name of Jesus Christ, that he should bear the tidings of salvation to nations, tongues, and people, until the utmost corners of the earth shall hear the tidings; and that he shall be a witness of the things of God to nations and tongues, and that holy angels shall administer to him occasionally; and that no power of the enemy shall prevent him from going forth and doing the work of the Lord; and that he shall live until the gathering is accomplished, according to the holy prophets; and he shall be like unto Enoch; and his faith shall be like unto his; and he shall be called great among all the living; and Satan shall tremble before him; and he shall see the Savior come and stand upon the earth with power and great glory.
The blessing of Brigham Young was that he should be strong in body, that he might go forth and gather the elect, preparatory to the great day of the coming of the Lord; and that he might be strong and mighty, declaring the tidings to nations that know not God; that he may add ten talents; that he may come to Zion with many sheaves. He shall go forth from land and from sea to sea; and shall behold heavenly messengers going forth; and his life shall be prolonged; and the Holy Priesthood is conferred on him, that he may do wonders in the name of Jesus; that he may cast out devils, heal the sick, raise the dead, open the eyes of the blind, go forth from land to land and from sea to sea; and that heathen nations shall even call him God himself, if he do not rebuke them.
Heber C. Kimball’s fnblessing was, in substance, that he shall be made like unto those who have been blessed before him; and be favored with the same blessing. That he might receive visions; the ministration of angels, and hear their voice; and even come into the presence of God; that many millions may be converted by his instrumentality; that angels may waft him from place to place, and that he may stand unto the coming of our Lord, and receive a crown in the Kingdom of our God; that he be made acquainted with the day when Christ shall come; that he shall be made perfect in faith; and that the deaf shall hear, the lame shall walk, the blind shall see, and greater things than these shall he do; that he shall have boldness of speech before the nations, and great power.
A hymn was then sung, “Glorious things of thee are spoken,” etc.; and the congreagation was dismissed by President Joseph Smith, Jun.
Sunday, February 15.—The congregation again assembled.
President Cowdery made some observations upon the nature of the meeting, calling upon the Lord for his assistance; after which a number of certificates from brethren that had recently returned from Zion were read and accepted.
President Cowdery then called forward Orson Hyde, David W. Patten and Luke Johnson, and proceeded to their ordinations and blessings.
Orson Hyde’s Blessing:—Oliver Cowdery called upon the Lord to smile upon him; that his faith be made perfect, and that the blessings pronounced may be realized; that he be made mighty, and be endued with powers from on high, and go forth to the nations of the earth to proclaim the Gospel, that he may escape all the pollutions of the world; that the angels shall uphold him; and that he shall go forth according to the commandment, both to Jew and Gentile, and to all nations, kingdoms and tongues; that all who hear his voice shall acknowledge him to be a servant of God; that he shall be equal with his brethren in holding the keys of the kingdom; that he may stand on the earth and bring souls till Christ comes. We know that he loves Thee, O, Lord, and may this Thy servant be able to walk through pestilence and not be harmed; and the powers of darkness have no ascendency over him; may he have power to smite the earth with pestilence; to divide waters, and lead through the Saints; may he go from land to land and from sea to sea, and may he be like one of the three Nephites.
David W. Patten’s blessing:—O God, give this Thy servant, a knowledge of Thy will; may he be like one of old, who bore testimony of Jesus; may he be a new man from this day forth. He shall be equal with his brethren, the Twelve, and have the qualifications of the prophets before him. May his body be strong and never be weary; may he walk and not faint. May he have power over all diseases, and faith according to his desires; may the heavens be opened upon him speedily; that he may bear testimony from knowledge; that he may go to nations and isles afar off. May he have a knowledge of the things of the Kingdom, from the beginning, and be able to tear down priestcraft like a lion. May he have power to smite his enemies before him, with utter destruction. May he continue till the Lord comes. O Father, we seal these blessings upon him. Even so. Amen.
Luke S. Johnson’s Blessing:—Our Father in heaven, look down in mercy upon us, and upon this Thy servant, whom we ordain to the ministry of the Twelve. He shall be prepared and preserved, and be like those we have blessed before him. The nations shall tremble before him. He shall hear the voice of God; he shall comfort the hearts of the Saints always. The angels shall bear him up till he shall finish his ministry. He shall be delivered, and come forth with Israel. He shall bear testimony to the kings of the earth, and hold communion with the Father, with the Son, and with the general assembly and Church of the first-born. If cast into prison, he shall be able to comfort the hearts of his comrades. His tongue shall be loosed, and he shall have power to lead many to Zion, and sit down with them; the Ancient of Days shall pronounce this blessing, that he has been faithful; he shall have strength, wisdom, and power; he shall go among the covenant people and speak all their tongues where he shall go. All these blessings we confirm upon him in the name of Jesus. Amen.
William E. M’Lellin’s Blessing:—In the name of the Lord, wisdom and intelligence shall be poured out upon him, to enable him to perform the great work that is incumbent upon him: that he may be spared until the Saints are gathered; that he may stand before kings and rulers to bear testimony, and be upheld by holy angels; and the nations of the earth shall acknowledge that God has sent him; he shall have power to overcome his enemies; and his life shall be spared in the midst of pestilence and destruction, and in the midst of his enemies. He shall be a prince and savior to God’s people. The tempter shall not overcome him, nor his enemies prevail against him; the heavens shall be opened unto him, as unto men in days of old. He shall be mighty in the hands of God, and shall convince thousands that God has sent him; and his days may be prolonged until the coming of the Son of Man. He shall be wafted as on eagles’ wings, from country to country, and from people to people; and be able to do wonders in the midst of this generation. Even so. Amen.
John F. Boynton’s Blessing:—Thou hast prevailed and thou shalt prevail, and thou shalt declare the Gospel unto many nations. Thou shalt be made mighty before God; and although thou shalt be cast out from the face of men, yet thou shalt have power to prevail. Thou shalt lead the elect triumphantly to the places of refuge; thou shalt be like the brethren who have been blessed before thee. Thou shalt stand in that day of calamity when the wicked shall be consumed, and present unto the Father, spotless, the fruits of thy labor. Thou shalt overcome all the evils that are in the world; thou shalt have wisdom to put to silence all the wisdom of the wise; and thou shalt see the face of thy Redeemer in the flesh. These blessings are pronounced and sealed upon thee. Even so. Amen.
William Smith’s Blessing:—We pray that he may be purified in heart; that he may have communion with God; that he may be equal with his brethren in holding the keys of this ministry; that he may be kept and be instrumental in leading Israel forth, that he may be delivered from the hands of those who seek to destroy him; that he may be enabled to bear testimony to the nations that Jesus lives; that he may stand in the midst of pestilence and destruction. He shall be mighty in the hands of God, in bringing about the restoration of Israel. The nations shall rejoice at the greatness of the gifts which God has bestowed upon him: that his tongue shall be loosed; he shall have power to do great things in the name of Jesus. He shall be preserved and remain on the earth, until Christ shall come to take vengeance on the wicked. Adjourned.
Kirtland, February 21st, 1835
I am aware, dear Brother, that the mind naturally claims something new; but the same thing rehearsed frequently profits us. You will have the same difficulties to encounter in fulfilling this ministry, that the ancient Apostle had. You have enlisted in a cause that requires your whole attention; you ought, therefore, to count the cost; and to become a polished shaft, you must be sensible, requires the labor of years; and your station requires a perfect polish. It is required of you not merely to travel a few miles in the country, but in distant countries: you must endure much labor, much toil, and many privations, to become perfectly polished. Your calling is not like that of the husbandman, to cultivate a stinted portion of the planet on which we dwell, and when heaven has given the former and the latter rain, and mellow autumn ripened his fruit, gathers it in, and congratulates himself for a season in the intermission of his toils, while he anticipates his winter evenings of relaxation and fire-side enjoyments. But, dear Brother, it is far otherwise with you. Your labor must be incessant, and your toil great; you must go forth and labor till the great work is done. It will require a series of years to accomplish it; but you will have this pleasing consolation, that your heavenly Father requires it; the field is His; the work is His; and He will not only cheer you, animate you, and buoy you up in your pilgrimage, in your arduous toils; but when your work is done, and your labor over, He will take you unto Himself. But before this consummation of your felicity, bring your mind to bear upon what will be imperiously required of you to accomplish, viz., the great work that lies before you. Count well the cost. You have read of the persecutions and trials of ancient days. Has not bitter experience taught you that they are the same now? You will be dragged before the authorities for the religion you profess; and it were better not to set out, than to start and look back, or shrink when dangers thicken around you, or appalling death stares you in the face. I have spoken these things, dear brother, because I have seen them in visions. There are strong dungeons and gloomy prisons for you. These should not appall you. You must be called a good or a bad man. The ancients passed through the same experience. They had this testimony—that they had seen the Savior after He rose from the dead. You must bear the same testimony; or your mission, your labor, your toil, will be in vain. You must bear the same testimony, that there is but one God, one Mediator; he that hath seen Him, will know Him, and testify of Him. Beware of pride; beware of evil; shun the very appearance of it; for the time is coming when, if you do not give heed to these things, you will have a fall. Among your many afflictions, you will have many blessings also; but you must pass through many afflictions, in order to receive the glory that is in reserve for you. You will meet thousands, who, when they first see you, will know nothing about salvation by Jesus Christ; you shall see a nation born in a day. A great work lies before you, and the time is near when you must bid farewell to your native land, cross the mighty deep, and sound the tocsin of alarm to other nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. Remember that all your hopes of deliverance from danger and from death, will rest upon your faithfulness to God; in His cause, you must necessarily serve Him with a perfect heart and a willing mind. Avoid strife and vain glory; think not yourself better than your brethren, but pray for them, as well as for yourself; and if you are faithful, great will be your blessings; but if you are not, your stewardship will be taken from you, and another appointed in your stead.
Elder Pratt gave his hand to President Oliver Cowdrey, and said he had received ordination, and should fulfill the ministry according to the grace given him; to which the President replied, Go forth, and angels shall bear thee up; and thou shalt come forth at the last day, bringing many with thee.
Tomas B. Marsh and Orson Pratt were absent on a mission.
Elder Marsh returned to Kirtland on the 25th of April, and Elder Orson Pratt on the 26th, and received their ordinations and blessings, which are recorded in this place, in connection with the ordinations and blessings of their brethren. 9
Thomas B. Marsh’s Blessing by President Oliver Cowdery.—Dear Brother—You are to be a minister of righteousness, and to this ministry and apostleship you are now to be ordained; and may all temporal and spiritual blessings attend you. Your sins are forgiven you, and you are to go forth and preach the everlasting Gospel. You shall travel from kingdom to kingdom and from nation to nation. Angels shall bear thee up, and thou shalt be instrumental in bringing thousands of the redeemed of the Lord to Zion. Sealed by President David Whitmer. Even so. Amen
Orson Pratt’s Blessing.—Dear Brother—You are chosen and set apart, to be ordained to this apostleship and this ministry; you shall go forth and preach the Gospel, and do a mighty work. You shall be sustained; the Holy Spirit shall enlighten thy mind; thou shalt travel from nation to nation; the Lord God shall preserve thee, and return thee safe, with songs of everlasting joy upon thy head. Confirmed by President David Whitmer.
General Charge to the Twelve.
The following general charge was given to the Twelve by President Oliver Cowdery:—Dear Brethren—Previous to delivering the charge, I shall read a part of a revelation. It is known to you, that previous to the organization of this Church in 1830, the Lord gave revelations, or the Church could not have been organized. The people of this Church were weak in faith compared with the ancients. Those who embarked in this cause were desirous to know how the work was to be conducted. They read many things in the Book of Mormon concerning their duty, and the way the great work ought to be done; but the mind of men are so constructed that they will not believe, without a testimony of seeing or hearing. The Lord gave us a revelation that, in process of time, there should be twelve men chosen to preach His Gospel to Jew and Gentile. Our minds have been on a constant stretch, to find who these twelve were; when the time should come we could not tell; but we sought the Lord by fasting and prayer to have our lives prolonged to see this day, to see you, and to take a retrospect of the difficulties through which we have passed; but having seen the day, it becomes my duty to deliver to you a charge; and first, a few remarks respecting your ministry. You have many revelations put into your hands—revelation to make you acquainted with the nature of your mission; you will have difficulties by reason of your visiting all the nations of the world. You will need wisdom in a tenfold proportion to what you have ever had; you will have to combat all the prejudices of all nations.
He then read the revelation, 10 and said: Have you desired this ministry with all our hearts? If you have desired it you are called of God, not of man, to go into the world.
He then read again, from the revelation, what the Lord said unto the Twelve. Brethren, you have had your duty presented in this revelation. You have been ordained to this holy Priesthood, you have received it from those who have the power and authority from an angel; you are to preach the Gospel to every nation. Should you in the least degree come short of your duty, great will be your condemnation; for the greater the calling the greater the transgression. I therefore warn you to cultivate great humility; for I know the pride of the human heart. Beware, lest the flatterers of the world lift you up; beware, lest your affections be captivated by worldly objects. Let your ministry be first. Remember, the souls of men are committed to your charge; and if you mind your calling, you shall always prosper.
You have been indebted to other men, in the first instance, for evidence; on that you have acted; but it is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven.
Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off you doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in latter days?
With regard to superiority, I must make a few remarks. The ancient apostles sought to be great; but lest the seeds of discord be sown in this matter; understand particularly the voice of the Spirit on this occasion. God does not love you better or more than others. You are to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. Jacob, you know, wrestled till he had obtained. It was by fervent prayer and diligent search that you have obtained the testimony you are now able to bear. You are as one; you are equal in bearing the keys of the Kingdom to all nations. You are called to preach the Gospel of the Son of God to the nations of the earth; it is the will of your heavenly Father, that you proclaim His Gospel to the ends of the earth and the islands of the sea.
Be zealous to save souls. The soul of one man is as precious as the soul of another. You are to bear this message to those who consider themselves wise; and such may persecute you—they may seek your life. The adversary has always sought the life of the servants of God; you are therefore to be prepared at all times to make a sacrifice of your lives, should God require them in the advancement and building up of His cause. Murmur not at God. Be always prayerful; be always watchful. You will bear with me while I relieve the feelings of my heart. We shall not see another day like this; the time has fully come—the voice of the Spirit has come—to set these men apart.
You will see the time when you will desire to see such a day as this, and you will not see it. Every heart wishes you peace and prosperity, but the scene with you will inevitably change. Let no man take your bishopric, and beware that you lose not your crowns. It will require your whole souls, it will require courage like Enoch’s.
The time is near when you will be in the midst of congregations who will gnash their teeth upon you. The Gospel must roll forth, and it will until it fills the whole earth. Did I say congregations would gnash their teeth at you? Yea, I say, nations will oppose you—you will be considered the worst of men. Be not discouraged at this. When God pours out His Spirit, the enemy will rage; but God, remember, is on your right hand, and on your left. A man, though he be considered the worst, has joy, who is conscious that he pleases God.
The lives of those who proclaim the true Gospel will be in danger; this has been the case ever since the days of righteous Abel. The same opposition has been manifest whenever man came forward to publish the Gospel. The time is coming when you will be considered the worst of men by many, and by some the best. The time is coming when you will be perfectly familiar with the things of God. This testimony will make those who do not believe your testimony, seek your lives; but there are whole nations who will receive your testimony. They will call you good men. Be not lifted up when ye are called good men. Remember you are young men, and ye shall be spared. I include the other three. Bear them in mind in your prayers—carry their cases to the throne of grace; although they are not present, yet you and they are equal. This appointment is calculated to create for you an affection for each other, stronger than death. You will travel to other nations; bear each other in mind. If one or more be cast into prisons, let the others pray for them, and deliver them by their prayers. Your lives shall be in great jeopardy; but the promise of God is, that you shall be delivered.
Remember, you are not to go to their nations till you receive your endowments. Tarry at Kirtland until you are endowed with power from on high. You need a fountain of wisdom, knowledge and intelligence such as you never had. Relative to the endowment, I make a remark or two, that there may be no mistake. The world cannot receive the things of God. He can endow you without worldly pomp or great parade. He can give you that wisdom, that intelligence, and that power, which characterized the ancient saints, and now characterizes the inhabitants of the upper world.
The greatness of your commission consists in this: you are to hold the keys of this ministry; your are to go to the nations afar off—nations that sit in darkness. The day is coming when the work of God must be done. Israel shall be gathered: the seed of Jacob shall be gathered from their long dispersion. There will be a feast to Israel, the elect of God. It is a sorrowful tale, but the Gospel must be preached, and God’s ministers rejected: but where can Israel be found and receive your testimony, and not rejoice? Nowhere! The prophecies are full of great things that are to take place in the last days. After the elect are gathered out, destructions shall come on the inhabitants of the earth; all nations shall feel the wrath of God, after they have been warned by the Saints of the Most High. If you will not warn them, others will, and you will lose your crowns.
You must prepare your minds to bid a long farewell to Kirtland, even till the great day come. You will see what you never expected to see; you will need the mind of Enoch or Elijah, and the faith of the brother of Jared; you must be prepared to walk by faith, however appalling the prospect to human view; you, and each of you, should feel the force of the imperious mandate, Son, go labor in my vineyard, and cheerfully receive what comes; but in the end you will stand while others will fall. You have read in the revelation concerning ordination: Beware how you ordain, for all nations are not like this nation; they will willingly receive the ordinances at your hands to put you out of the way. There will be times when nothing but the angels of God can deliver you out of their hands.
We appeal to your intelligence, we appeal to your understanding, that we have so far discharged our duty to you. We consider it one of the greatest condescensions of our heavenly Father, in pointing you out to us; you will be stewards over this ministry; you have a work to do that no other men can do; you must proclaim the Gospel in its simplicity and purity; and we commend you to God and the word of His grace. You have our best wishes, you have our most fervent prayers, that you may be able to bear this testimony, that you have seen the face of God. Therefore call upon Him in faith in mighty prayer till you prevail, for it is your duty and your privilege to bear such testimony for yourselves. We now exhort you to be faithful to fulfill your calling; there must be no lack here; you must fulfill in all things; and permit us to repeat, all nations have a claim on you; you are bound together as the Three Witnesses were; notwithstanding you can part and meet, and meet and part again, till your heads are silvered over with age.
He then took them separately by the hand, and said, “Do you with full purpose of heart take part in this ministry, to proclaim the Gospel with all diligence, with these your brethren, according to the tenor and intent of the charge you have received?” Each of them answered in the affirmative. 11
Important Items of Instructions to the Twelve.
Kirtland, February 27.
This evening, nine of the Twelve, viz., Lyman Johnson, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, David W. Patten, Luke Johnson, William E. M’Lellin, John F. Boynton, and William Smith, assembled at the house of President Joseph Smith, Jun., who was present, with Frederick G. Williams, Sidney Rigdon, Bishop Whitney, and three elders. Parley P. Pratt had gone to New Partage, and Orson Pratt and Thomas B. Marsh had not yet arrived to receive their ordination.
After prayer by President Joseph Smith, Jun., he said, if we heard patiently, he could lay before the council an item which would be of importance. He had for himself, learned a fact by experience, which, on recollection, always gave him deep sorrow. It is a fact, if I now had in my possession, every decision which had been had upon important items of doctrine and duties since the commencement of this work, I would not part with them for any sum of money; but we have neglected to take minutes of such things, thinking, perhaps, that they would never benefit us afterwards; which, if we had them now, would decide almost every point of doctrine which might be agitated. But this has been neglected, and now we cannot bear record to the Church and to the world, of the great and glorious manifestations which have been made to us with that degree of power and authority we otherwise could, if we now had these things to publish abroad.
Since the Twelve are now chosen, I wish to tell them a course which they may pursue, and be benefited thereafter, in a point of light of which they are not now aware. If they will, every time they assemble, appoint a person to preside over them during the meeting, and one or more to keep a record of their proceedings, and on the decision of every question or item, be it what it may, let such decision be written, and such decision will forever remain upon record, and appear an item of covenant or doctrine. An item thus decided may appear, at the time, of little or no worth, but should it be published, and one of you lay hands on it after, you will find it of infinite worth, not only to your brethren, but it will be a feast to your own souls.
Here is another important item. If you assemble from time to time, and proceed to discuss important questions, and pass decisions upon the same, and fail to note them down, by and by you will be driven to straits from which you will not be able to extricate yourselves, because you may be in a situation not to bring your faith to bear with sufficient perfection or power to obtain the desired information; or, perhaps, for neglecting to write these things when God had revealed them, not esteeming them of sufficient worth, the Spirit may withdraw and God may be angry; and there is, or was, a vast knowledge, of infinite importance, which is now lost. What was the cause of this? It came in consequence of slothfulness, or a neglect to appoint a man to occupy a few moments in writing all these decisions.
Here let me prophesy. The time will come, when, if you neglect to do this thing, you will fall by the hands of unrighteous men. Were you to be brought before the authorities, and be accused of any crime or misdemeanor, and be as innocent as the angels of God, unless you can prove yourselves to have been somewhere else, your enemies will prevail against you; but if you can bring twelve men to testify that you were in a certain place, at that time, you will escape their hand. Now, if you will be careful to keep minutes of these things, as I have said, it will be one of the most important records ever seen; for all such decisions will ever after remain as items of doctrine and covenants.
The council then expressed their approbation concerning the foregoing remarks of President Smith, and appointed Orson Hyde and William E. M’Lellin clerks of the meeting.
President Smith proposed the following question: What importance is there attached to the calling of these Twelve Apostles, different from the other callings or officers of the Church?
After the question was discussed by Councilors Patten, Young, Smith, and M’Lellin, President Joseph Smith, Jun., gave the following decision:
They are the Twelve Apostles, who are called to the office of the Traveling High Council, who are to preside over the churches of the Saints, among the Gentiles, where there is a presidency established; and they are to travel and preach among the Gentiles, until the Lord shall command them to go to the Jews. They are to hold the keys of this ministry, to unlock the door of the Kingdom of heaven unto all nations, and to preach the Gospel to every creature. This is the power, authority, and virtue of their apostleship.
Oliver Cowdery, Clerk.
Report of the Kirtland School.
Kirtland, Ohio, February 27, 1835.
Having been requested by the trustees of the “Kirtland School” to give a sketch of the number of students who have attended the institution, and of their progress in the different sciences, I cheerfully comply with the request, having been an instructor therein from its commencement in December last.
The school has been conducted under the immediate care and inspection of Joseph Smith, Jun., Frederick G. Williams, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery, trustees. When the school first commenced, we received into it both large and small, but in about three weeks the classes became so large and the house so crowded, that it was thought advisable to dismiss all the small students, and continue those only who wished to study penmanship, arithmetic, English grammar, and geography. Before we dismissed the small pupils, there were in all about one hundred and thirty who attended; since that time there have been upon an average about one hundred; the most of whom have received lectures upon English grammar; and for the last four weeks about seventy have been studying geography one-half the day, and grammar and writing the other part. Burdick’s Arithmetic, Kirkham’s Grammar, and Olney’s Geography have been used, and Noah Webster’s Dictionary as standard. Since the year 1827, I have taught school in five different states, and visited many schools in which I was not engaged as teacher; in none, I can say, with certainty, I have seen students make more rapid progress than in this.
William E. M’Lellin.
1. D&C 18.
2. Elder Joseph Young gives the following interesting account of the above meeting mentioned by the Prophet: “On the 8th day of February, in the year of our Lord 1835, the Prophet Joseph Smith called Elders Brigham and Joseph Young to the chamber of his residence, in Kirtland, Ohio, it being on the Sabbath day. After they were seated and he had made some preliminaries, he proceeded to relate a vision to these brethren, of the state and condition of those men who died in Zion’s Camp, in Missouri. He said, ‘Brethren, I have seen those men who died of the cholera in our camp; and the Lord knows, if I get a mansion as bright as theirs, I ask no more.’ At this relation he wept, and for some time could not speak. When he had relieved himself of his feelings, in describing the vision, he resumed the conversation, and addressed himself to Brother Brigham Young. He said to him, ‘I wish you to notify all the brethren living in the branches, within a reasonable distance from this place, to meet at a general conference on Saturday next. I shall then and there appoint twelve Special Witnesses, to open the door of the Gospel to foreign nations, and you,’ said he (speaking to Brother Brigham), ‘will be one of them.’ He then proceeded to enlarge upon the duties of their calling. The interest that was taken on the occasion of this announcement, produced in the minds of the two Elders present a great sensation and many reflections; having previously notified Brother Brigham Young that he would be one of the Witnesses, but said nothing to Joseph, until he had exhausted much of his feelings in regard to the Twelve, which took up some little time. He then turned to Elder Joseph Young with quite an earnestness, as though the vision of his mind was extended still further, and addressing him, said, ‘Brother Joseph, the Lord has made you President of the Seventies.’ They had heard of Moses and seventy Elders of Israel, and of Jesus appointing ‘other Seventies,’ but had never heard of Twelve Apostles and of Seventies being called in this Church before. It was strange saying, ‘The Lord has made you President of the Seventies,’ as though it had already taken place, and it caused these brethren to marvel. The Prophet did not say that any others would be called to be the bearers of this message abroad, but the inference might be clearly drawn, that this was his meaning, from the language he used at the time. Agreeable to his request to Elder Brigham Young, the branches were all notified, and a meeting of the brethren in general conference was held in Kirtland, in the new school house under the printing office, on the following Saturday, February 14th, when the Twelve were appointed and ordained, and the conference adjourned for two weeks.”—”History of the organization of the Seventies,” by Joseph Young, Sen. (1878) pp. 1, 2.
3. This vision, in which the Prophet evidently saw the order of the Church organization, is several times alluded to by him. By reference to the note on page 181 it will be observed that President Smith there refers to the vision in such a manner as to lead one to believe that he saw that Brigham Young would be one of the Twelve, and Joseph Young President of the Seventies. He also refers to this vision in the revelation which appears in chapter 14; (D&C 107, 93). Describing the order of the Seventies, he says: “And it is according to the vision, showing the order of the Seventy, that there shall be seven Presidents to preside over them, chosen out of the number of the Seventy.” It was doubtless in this vision also that the Prophet saw the manner in which the Twelve should be chosen.
4. Elder Joseph Young in his “History of the Organization of the Seventies,” (page 14) says that the following sentiment was delivered by the prophet Joseph Smith in an address to the Elders assembled in Kirtland soon after the Seventies were organized: “Brethren, some of you are angry with me, because you did not fight in Missouri; but let me tell you, God did not want you to fight. He could not organize His kingdom with twelve men to open the Gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men under their direction to follow in their tracks, unless He took them from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham. Now the Lord has got His Twelve and His Seventy, and there will be other quorums of Seventies called, who will make the sacrifice, and those who have not made their sacrifices and their offerings now, will make them hereafter.”
5. A full list of those who sent up to Zion, including women and children, is here published in place of the partial list heretofore published in the History of Joseph Smith in the Millennial Star, volume 15, page 205.
“Hark! listen to the trumpeters!
They sound for volunteers;
On Zion’s bright and flowery mount
Behold the officers.
“Their horses white, their armor bright,
With courage bold they stand,
Enlisting soldiers for their king,
To march to Zion’s land.
We want no cowards in our bands,
Who will our colors fly:
We call for valiant-hearted men,
Who’re not afraid to die.
“To see our armies on parade,
How martial they appear!
All armed and dressed in uniform,
They look like men of war.
“They follow their great General.
The great Eternal Lamb—
His garments stained in his own blood—
King Jesus is His name.”
7. It was made known to the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery as early as June, 1829, that there would be Twelve Apostles chosen in this dispensation. In that revelation (D&C 18:37) the Lord, addressing Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, said: “And now, behold, I give unto you Oliver Cowdery, and also unto David Whitmer, that you shall search out the Twelve, who shall have the desires of which I have spoken.” That is, desires to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ with full purpose of heart. It will be observed that in this revelation only two of the Three Witnesses are named, yet Martin Harris was associated with his fellow Witnesses in choosing and ordaining the Twelve Apostles. I think it was designed from the first that the Three Witnesses should choose the Twelve Special Witnesses of the name and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ—the Twelve Apostles; but at the time the revelation of June, 1829, was given, making known that Twelve Apostles would be called, and designating Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer as the ones to choose them, Martin Harris was out of favor with the Lord, and I suggest that it was for that reason doubtless that his name was omitted at that time. The evidence that Martin Harris was wavering about that time in his adherence to the Prophet and the work of God is found in D&C 19, given in the month of June, 1829; in which revelation Martin Harris is sharply reproved for such wavering; for his covetousness; for hesitating to dispose of his land to meet the obligations entered into with the printer. He is commanded to repent of all these things, which, happily he did; but evidently not before the revelation concerning the choosing of the Twelve (D&C 17) was given, for which reason doubtless his name is not there associated with those of his fellow Witnesses when they were designated to choose the Twelve Apostles. As already stated, however, in the vision in which the Prophet Joseph saw more perfectly the organization of the Church, and the manner in which the Twelve were to be chosen, he undoubtedly learned that it was in harmony with the order of things that the Three Witnesses should choose the Twelve Special Witnesses, and hence appointed Martin Harris to assist Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer in choosing the Apostles.
A word, by the way, in relation to the appropriateness of the Three Witnesses choosing the Twelve. In the revelation defining the special calling of the Twelve Apostles it is written: “The Twelve traveling counselors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world; thus differing from other officers in the Church in the duties of their calling. (D&C 107:23). From this it appears that the special calling of the Twelve is to be Witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ in all the world; hence it was preeminently proper that these Twelve Witnesses should be chosen by the Three very special Witnesses—witnesses of the Book of Mormon in particular, and of God’s marvelous work in general.
8. Much interest has been manifested in the Church concerning who was mouth in ordaining respectively the brethren of the first Twelve. Most likely the Three Witnesses who ordained the Apostles were mouth in the order in which they have always stood as Witnesses, viz., Oliver Cowdery first, David Whitmer second, and Martin Harris third. If they officiated in this order then Oliver Cowdery ordained Lyman E. Johnson; David Whitmer, Brigham Young; and Martin Harris, Heber C. Kimball. It has been suggested by some that the Prophet Joseph may have joined the Three Witnesses in ordaining the Twelve, and in that event would be mouth first, and therefore ordained Lyman E. Johnson, leaving Oliver Cowdery to ordain Brigham Young, David Whitmer, Heber C. Kimball. This, however, is not likely since but three of those who had been chosen were called up at the above meeting to be ordained, one for each Witness. Besides, the express language of the minutes of the proceedings is, “The Three Witnesses laid their hands upon each one’s head and prayed separately; that is each ordained his man. The statement of Heber C. Kimball in the published extracts of his journal, also confirms this view of the matter. After giving the names of the Twelve men chosen he says: “After having expressed our feeling on this occasion, we were severally called into the stand, and there received our ordinations, under the hand of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. These brethren ordained us to the Apostleship, and predicted many things which should come to pass, that we should have power to heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead, give sight to the blind, have power to remove mountains, and all things should be subject to us through the name of Jesus Christ, and angels should minister unto us, and many more things, too numerous to mention.” He also adds the following interesting item with reference to the ordinations of that day: “After we [referring to the first three called up to receive ordination] had been thus ordained by these brethren, the First Presidency laid their hands on us and confirmed these blessings and ordinations, and likewise predicted many things which should come to pass.” (Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 868). While these statements make it very clear that the Prophet Joseph did not join with the Three Witnesses in ordaining the Apostles—except in the way of confirming the ordination they received from the Witnesses, as described by Elder Kimball—the minutes of the meeting held February 21st, at which Parley P. Pratt was ordained, state that he was “ordained one of the Twelve by President Joseph Smith, Jun., David Whitmer, and Oliver Cowdery.” Martin Harris must have been absent, and the Prophet evidently joined Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer on that occasion because of the absence of Harris; but whether or not the Prophet was mouth on that occasion does not appear in the minutes or in Elder Pratt’s autobiography.
9. According to Heber C. Kimball’s Journal, Orson Pratt’s ordination took place on the 5th of April, 1835, under the following circumstances: “Sunday morning, April 5, 1835.—The Twelve had not all as yet been together, for the last three mentioned [ Orson Pratt, Thomas B. Marsh and Parley P. Pratt ] were not present at the time of choosing, and as the time drew near that we should travel to the east, we appointed this day to bear our testimony unto our brethren and friends. We were all assembled together, with the exception of Brother Orson Pratt, who had not yet been with us. At this time, while we were praying, and wishing for his arrival, while opening the meeting, he entered the house. We rejoiced at his presence, and thanked the Lord for it. He was then ordained and we proceeded to speak according to our ages, the eldest speaking first. This day Brother Thomas B. Marsh, Brigham Young, David W. Patten, and myself spake.” (Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 869.) The incident is given as Elder Kimball relates it because of its interest, but he is in error as to the date of the occurrence, since Elder Pratt himself, as well as the Prophet, gives the date of the former’s ordination 26th of April, 1835. Elder Pratt also makes this entry in his journal: “April 24—Took the stage, and arrived in Kirtland on the 26th, about ten o’clock in the forenoon; walked into the meeting and learned that they had been prophesying that I would arrive there, so as to attend that meeting, although not one of them knew where I was. I was much rejoiced at meeting with the Saints.”
10. D&C 18.