Meetings of the Quorums of Priesthood in the Kirtland Temple—The Prophet’s Instructions On Priesthood.
The Arrangements for Classes and Meetings in Kirtland Temple.
During the winter, the House of the Lord at Kirtland was filled to overflowing with attentive hearers, mostly communicants; and in the evenings the singers met under the direction of Elders Luman Carter and Jonathan Crosby, Jun., who gave instruction in the principles of vocal music. On Monday evenings the quorum of High Priests meet in the west room of the attic story, where they transact the business of their particular quorum. On Tuesday evenings the Seventies occupy the same room. On Wednesday evenings the rooms are occupied by the quorum of Elders. And on Thursday evening a prayer meeting is held in the lower part of the house, free to all, though generally conducted by Patriarch Joseph Smith, Sen. The Twelve, the High Council and other quorums, generally meet each week to transact business, and during the week the “Kirtland High School is taught in the attic story, by H. M. Hawes, Esq., professor of the Greek and Latin languages. The school numbers from one hundred and thirty-five to one hundred and forty students, divided into three departments—the classic, where the languages only are taught; the English department, where mathematics, common arithmetic, geography, English grammar, writing, and reading are taught; and the Juvenile department, the last two having each an assistant instructor. The school commenced in November, and on the first Wednesday in January the several classes passed a public examination in presence of the trustees of the school, parents and guardians, and their progress in study was found of the highest order.
Owing to the multiplicity of letters with which I was crowded from almost every quarter, I was compelled to decline all not postpaid, and gave notice of the same in the Messenger and Advocate.
Gathering of the Saints in Missouri.
The brethren in Missouri were very busy in gathering into Caldwell county, entering United States land, building houses, and preparing to put in crops in the spring.
Firm of Cowdery & Co. Dissolved.
On the first of February, 1837, the firm of Oliver Cowdery & Co. was dissolved by mutual consent, and the entire establishment was transferred to Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon; and Warren A. Cowdery acted as their agent in the printing office and bookbindery, and editor of the Messenger and Advocate.
During the quarter ending March the 3rd, thirty-two Elders’, seven Priests’, three Teachers’, and two Deacons’ licenses were recorded in the license records in Kirtland, by Thomas Burdick.
Notice of a Solemn Assembly.
A brief notice only was given, that a solemn assembly would be called, of the official members of the Church, on the 6th of April, for the purpose of washing, anointing, washing of feet, receiving instructions, and the further organization of the ministry. Meetings were held by the different quorums on Monday, 3rd, Tuesday, 4th, and Wednesday, 5th, to anoint such of their respective members as had not been washed and anointed, that all might be prepared for the meeting on the 6th.
Washing of Feet.
At an early hour on Thursday, the 6th of April, the official members assembled in the House of the Lord, when the time for the first two or three hours was spent by the different quorums in washing of feet, singing, praying and preparing to receive instructions from the Presidency. The Presidents, together with the Seventies and their presidents, repaired to the west room in the attic story, where, for want of time the preceding evening, it became necessary to seal the anointing of those who had recently been anointed and not sealed.
Regulation of the Seventies.
Another subject of vital importance to the Church, was the establishing of the grades of the different quorums. It was ascertained that all but one or two of the presidents of the Seventies were High Priests, and when they had ordained and set apart any from the quorums of Elders, into the quorum of Seventies, they had conferred upon them the High Priesthood, also. 1 This was declared to be wrong, and not according to the order of heaven. New Presidents of the Seventies were accordingly ordained to fill the places of such of them as were High Priests, 2 and the ex-officio presidents, and such of the Seventies as had been legally ordained to be High Priests, were directed to unite with the High Priests’ quorum. All the quorums then assembled in the lower room of the Lord’s House, where they were addressed by the presidents from the stand. The following, in substance, is what was said:
The Prophet on the Subject of Priesthood.
President Joseph Smith, Jun., addressed the assembly and said, the Melchizedek High Priesthood was no other than the Priesthood of the Son of God; that there are certain ordinances which belong to the Priesthood from which flow certain results; and the Presidents or Presidency are over the Church; and revelations of the mind and will of God to the Church, are to come through the Presidency. This is the order of heaven, and the power and privilege of this Priesthood. It is also the privilege of any officer in this Church to obtain revelations, so far as relates to his particular calling and duty in the Church. All are bound by the principles of virtue and happiness, but one great privilege of the Priesthood is to obtain revelations of the mind and will of God. It is also the privilege of the Melchizedek Priesthood, to reprove, rebuke, and admonish, as well as to receive revelation. If the Church knew all the commandments, one half they would condemn through prejudice and ignorance.
The High Priests.
A High Priest, is a member of the same Melchizedek Priesthood with the Presidency, but not of the same power or authority in the Church. The Seventies are also members of the same Priesthood, [i. e. the High Priesthood], are a sort of traveling council or Priesthood, and may preside over a church or churches, until a High Priest can be had. The Seventies are to be taken from the quorum of Elders, and are not to be High Priests. They are subject to the direction and dictation of the Twelve, who have the keys of the ministry. All are to preach the Gospel, by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost; and no man can preach the Gospel without the Holy Ghost.
The Bishop is a High Priest, and necessarily so, because he is to preside over that particular branch of Church affairs, that is denominated the Lesser Priesthood, and because we have no direct lineal descendant of Aaron, to whom it would of right belong. This is the same, or a branch of the same, Priesthood, which may be illustrated by the figure of the human body, which has different members, which have different offices to perform; all are necessary in their place, and the body is not complete without all the members.
The Dignity of the Lesser Officers.
From a retrospect of the requirements of the servants of God to preach the Gospel, we find few qualified even to be Priests, and if a Priest understands his duty, his calling, and ministry, and preaches by the Holy Ghost, his enjoyment is as great as if he were one of the Presidency; and his services are necessary in the body, as are also those of Teachers and Deacons. Therefore, in viewing the Church as a whole, we may strictly denominate it one Priesthood. President Smith also said:
Necessity for Occasional Reproofs.
“I frequently rebuke and admonish my brethren, and that because I love them, not because I wish to incur their displeasure, or mar their happiness. Such a course of conduct is not calculated to gain the good will of all, but rather the ill will of many; therefore, the situation in which I stand is an important one; so, you see, brethren, the higher the authority, the greater the difficulty of the station; but these rebukes and admonitions become necessary, from the perverseness of the brethren, for their temporal as well as spiritual welfare. They actually constitute a part of the duties of my station and calling. Others have other duties to perform, that are important, and far more enviable, and may be just as good, like the feet and hands, in their relation to the human body—neither can claim priority, or say to the other, I have no need of you. After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.
Pecuniary Embarrassments of the Presidency.
“There are many causes of embarrassment, of a pecuniary nature now pressing upon the heads of the Church. They began poor; were needy, destitute, and were truly afflicted by their enemies; yet the Lord commanded them to go forth and preach the Gospel, to sacrifice their time, their talents, their good name, and jeopardize their lives; and in addition to this, they were to build a house for the Lord, and prepare for the gathering of the Saints. Thus it is easy to see this must [have] involved them [in financial difficulties]. They had no temporal means in the beginning commensurate with such an undertaking; but this work must be done; this place [Kirtland] had to be built up. Large contracts have been entered into for lands on all sides, where our enemies have signed away their rights. We are indebted to them, but our brethren from abroad have only to come with their money, take these contracts, relieve their brethren from the pecuniary embarrassments under which they now labor, and procure for themselves a peaceable place of rest among us. This place must and will be built up, and every brother that will take hold and help secure and discharge those contracts that have been made, shall be rich.”
Remarks of Hyrum Smith.
At 4 p. m. President Hyrum Smith addressed the assembly, principally in relation to the temporal affairs of the Church, and censured those who counseled such brethren as moved to this place, when they were not authorized to give advice. He also alluded, in terms of disapprobation, to the practice of some individuals, in getting money from brethren that come in, when it ought to be appropriated to the discharge of heavy debts that are now hanging over the heads of the Church, or for the payments of the land contracts which had been made for the benefit of the Saints in this place.
Twenty-five minutes before five, President Oliver Cowdery spoke, opposing the idea of Elders attempting to preach or teach that which they did not know, etc.
Sidney Rigdon’s Remarks on Church Debts.
President Sidney Rigdon rose a little before 5 p.m., and after referring to the gathering, and the preaching of the Gospel, as the first things, alluded to the debt which had been contracted for building the Lord’s House, and other purposes, and stated three principal items that constituted nearly the aggregate of debt that now remained unliquidated.
First a charge of six thousand dollars which was appropriated and expended in consequence of the brethren being driven by a lawless mob from their possessions in Jackson county. The second was the building of the Lord’s House, the unliquidated debt of which was rising of thirteen thousand dollars. The third item of debt was for the purchase of land, that there might be a place of rest, a place of safety, a place that the Saints might lawfully call their own. All this is to lay a foundation for the gathering of Israel, and when the Elders go abroad they can speak understandingly, and urge the necessity and propriety of the gathering, from the fact that we have a place for them, and it is the will of God they should come. Prey not one upon another, brethren, and for the time being say not, Pay me what thou owest; but contribute all in your power to discharge the great debts that now hang over the Church.
The Sacrament—Use of Water.
At half-past five, bread and water 3 were distributed liberally among the quorums, and it was truly a refreshing season to spirit and body. Many brethren and sisters assembled in the evening for prayer and exhortation, and some tarried nearly all night.
1. That is they ordained them High Priests. Since they were Elders, however, they already possessed the High Priesthood, and hence it was only necessary to ordain them to the office of Seventy in that Priesthood; but the brethren who had immediate charge of ordaining Seventies (the first presidents of Seventies) seemed to have thought it necessary to ordain them High Priests in order for them to hold the High Priesthood, hence the correction made by the Prophet.
2. In the selection and ordination of the council composed of the first seven presidents of Seventy, it bad been overlooked, evidently, that the revelation on Priesthood, given March 28, 1835, specifically stated: “And it is according to the vision, showing the order of the Seventy, that they should have seven presidents to preside over them, chosen out of the number of the Seventy.”—(Doc. and Cov., sec. 107, verse 93). Five of those chosen to make up the first council were High Priests; therefore to make the action of the Church conform to the word of God, these High Priests were invited by the Prophet to take their place in the High Priests’ quorum, that the first council might be made up of men “chosen out of the number of the Seventy” as provided by the law of God.
3. In the revelation given in August 1830 (sec. 27) the Lord said “it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the Sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory” etc. This is the first occasion on record where water was used instead of wine, but it is possible that water may have been used in the Sacrament before this time.