Volume 2 Chapter 20 | BYU Studies

Volume 2 Chapter 20

 

Chapter 20

Sundry Affairs at Kirtland—The Pledge To Redeem Zion.

[Page 273]

Conference at New Portage.

I went to New Portage on the 2nd of September, in company with Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon, to attend a conference; and returned on the 8th. I was engaged in various spiritual and temporal matters for several days.

Provision Made for Remunerating the Patriarch; Oliver Cowdery Appointed Church Recorder.

September 14.—In a meeting of a High Council and the Presidency at Kirtland, it was decided that, as the laborer is worthy of his hire, whenever President Joseph Smith, Sen., is called upon to pronounce Patriarchal blessings upon the Church, he be paid for his services at the rate of ten dollars per week and his expenses. It was further decided that President Frederick G. Williams be appointed and hereafter serve as scribe, to attend blessing meetings, and that he receive for his services, at the same ratio, having his expenses borne also. It was further decided that President Oliver Cowdery be appointed, and that he act hereafter as Recorder for the Church. It was further decided that Sister Emma Smith proceed to make a selection of Sacred Hymns, according to the revelation; 1 and that President W. W. Phelps be appointed to revise and arrange them for printing.

Agents for the "Literary Firm" of the Church Appointed.

September 16.—The Presidency of the Church assembled and appointed David Whitmer and Samuel H. Smith a committee and general agents to act in the name of, and for, the "Literary Firm."

[Page 274]

Minutes of a High Council Held in Kirtland, September 16th, 1835.

The trial of Elder Henry Green—Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery and Frederick G. Williams presiding.

A complaint was preferred by President Joseph Smith, Jun., against Brother Henry Green, for accusing President Joseph Smith, Jun., "of rebuking Brother Aldridge wrongfully, and under the influence of an evil spirit."

Brother Green being absent, President Rigdon arose and said, that it was the decision of the Presidency, that the Council proceed to examine the charge preferred, because Brother Green had been regularly summoned by himself.

The Council appointed one to speak on each side; after which the following testimony was heard:

Elder Sylvester Smith testified that Brother Green, on Monday morning last, said that Brother Aldridge was justified in what he said, and that Presidents Joseph and Hyrum Smith were wrong in abusing the old man; and after Elder Smith explained the matter to him, said, that if any man should do so by him, he should call him a scoundrel; and that he should say that any man who would talk as Joseph did, must have the devil in him.

Elder Lorin Babbitt said he was present when the above conversation took place, and heard a considerable part of it, and fully concurred in the statement of Elder Smith; and he heard Brother Green say, previous to the above talk, that although they accused Brother Aldridge of having an evil spirit, yet, if the truth were known, the devil was in them, (namely, Presidents Joseph and Hyrum); for if any man should ask my opinion, and then abuse me in that way, I should call him a scoundrel or a knave.

President Cowdery stated to the Council, that Brother Aldridge was not called upon to give his opinion concerning the book, but said what he did without being called upon to speak; for the book was only handed to him and others to look at, that they might see the quality and goodness.

President Joseph Smith arose and stated that he knew that Brother Aldridge was under the influence of an evil spirit, and had been for a long time.

Councilor Orson Johnson also said that he knew that this was so, by what he had seen and learned, and that he had heard from credible authority, that the old gentleman had been in the habit, for a long time, of neglecting prayer and family worship.

Councilor Samuel H. Smith said, that President Joseph Smith was in the line of his duty when he reproved Brother Aldridge for his evil; and, consequently, Brother Green must have been wrong in opposing him, and saying he [Joseph] acted like a scoundrel, and that the devil was in him.

[Page 275]

Councilor Levi Jackman said that Brother Green could not be justified in opposing the servant of the Lord, while in the actual discharge of his duty, and that it was evident that Satan hath sought to make divisions in the Church, and had taken advantage of the occasion of presenting the book, to do this.

The book referred to, was purchased for recording "The Patriarchal Blessings."

President Frederick G. Williams said, that the wickedness of Brother Green in condemning President Smith is evident from the testimony; and that Brother Aldridge also did act foolishly, and by the influence of a wrong spirit, in questioning the integrity of the head of the Church, in the purchase of the book, and that President Smith was and is justifiable in doing as he has done in the matter, and should not be censured, as he has been by Brother Green.

President Oliver Cowdery then arose, and showed, by a few plain remarks who Satan had sought, from the beginning, to destroy the Book of Mormon; and in order to do this, had been actually levelling his shafts against the servants of God, who were called to bring it forth and bear testimony of it to the world; and now had sought occasion against the servants of God, in tempting brethren to say they had equivocated in the price of the record book, which was presented last Sabbath; and that Brother Aldridge, and perhaps others, fell under this evil influence, and Brother Green justifies them in this thing, and condemns President Smith, and is not, and ought not to be justified in so doing.

President Cowdery went on to show that the book was purchased as cheap as it could be, and was actually worth what was given for it, namely, twelve dollars.

Elder Cahoon requested leave to interrupt President Cowdery a moment, to inform the Council that, a moment before, Brother Green passed the house, and when the speaker told him the Council was considering his case, and requested him to come in, he said he should go about his own business, so went on his way regardless of the Council.

President Cowdery resumed, showing that the design of Brother Aldridge, or at least of the spirit that was in him, was to destroy the character of the heads of the Church, by charging that we intended to speculate out of the brethren, and extort from them more than the cost of the book; and now, instead of regarding our feeling, he disregards us altogether, and shows that he has no faith in the High Council.

[Page 276]

Soon afterwards Brother Green came in, and said that he had been detained longer than he intended, having been to Chagrin on business, and had to deliver the horse and harness to the owner before he could attend the Council.

President Rigdon then arose and decided that Brother Green should not have been hindered from being here, by any other business; and if so, he should have notified the Council, and requested an adjournment.

President Cowdery then observed, that he thought the case sufficiently brought before the Council, and would say no more. And President Rigdon proceeded to give his decision—that Brother Green should have gone, if he were grieved with President Smith, and told him of his difficulty, and should not have said anything about it to his neighbor. And again, that Mr. Aldridge, as has been shown, has been guilty of neglecting his prayers before God, and therefore has not had the Spirit of God to preserve him from the temptations of Satan, and has fallen into evil, and actually did do wrong in raising objections to the price of the book presented last Sabbath, and was under the influence of an evil spirit.

Brother Green fellowships the evil spirit in Brother Aldridge, and says he is justified in what he has done, and therefore it is evident that an evil spirit is reigning in the breast of Brother Green. And it is also as evident, that President Joseph Smith, Jun., was justified in rebuking that evil spirit, and it was not only justifiable in President Smith to rebuke that evil spirit, but it was also his duty as President and First High Priest in the Church of Christ, appointed of God to lead the same in all righteousness.

The decision, then, of the Presidency of the High Council is, in short, that Brother Green be and is now, excluded from this Church, and shall be a member no more, until he comes in by the ordinance of baptism, as appointed by the Gospel, to be done in the Church.

This was agreed to by all the Councilors except Joseph Coe, who queried whether Mr. Green should not have the privilege of confessing his faults, and still be retained in the Church. He therefore thought that it was the privilege of Brother Green to have a reorganization of the Council, and a rehearing. This was about to be granted and the council to be adjourned till tomorrow, but Councilor Coe requested some explanation from the President, and was instructed as follows:—

"When a serious offense is committed, and indignity offered to the High Council, then it is the privilege of the Presidency of the High Council to stamp it with indignation under foot, and cut off the offender as in the case just decided."

Councilor Coe then withdrew his objection to the decision of the Presidency, which was acknowledged by the whole house, and council adjourned.

[Page 277]

Sylvester Smith, Clerk.

Minutes of a High Council held in Kirtland, September 19, 1835. The trial of Elder Jared Carter. President Joseph Smith, Jun., Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Frederick G. Williams, Sidney Rigdon and W. W. Phelps, present.

Councilors.

John Smith, Joseph Smith, Sen.,
Orson Johnson, Joseph Coe,
Newel Knight, Hyrum Smith,
John Whitmer, Levi Jackman,
Samuel H. Smith, Noah Packard,
John Johnson, Roger Orton,

The object of the Council was stated by President Joseph Smith, Jun., as follows: "Some weeks since Elder Jared Carter preached on the Sabbath in the Church, and some of the brethren found fault with his teachings; and this Council is called upon to decide this matter, and to see who was in fault."

Six were appointed to speak.

Elder Jared Carter proceeded to speak largely, and explain his designs in teaching as he did, saying he believed God directed him by His Spirit, and afterwards being rebuked by Presidents Cowdery, Rigdon and Phelps, he called upon the Lord, and received again a witness of the Spirit that he was right, and the Presidents were wrong. Elder Carter taught in his concluding remarks, that God had shown him by laying His hand upon him in judgment, and delivering him therefrom, that he was thus rebuked by heaven for his iniquity, and that be was made an example to the whole Church, and God would curse them if they did not hold up the committee, 2 for he was made an example in this thing.

President Rigdon arose and said that he attended the meeting in which Elder Carter spoke, and was certain, and is certain, that he did not have the spirit of wisdom to direct; and after he had sat down, and Elder Samuel H. Smith had occupied some half an hour, filled with the Spirit, he arose again and said, that if any man spoke against the committee, God would curse him, and set the committee away above the common brethren, and said that God would take care of the committee, and the brethren had nothing to do with them, for their station was appointed them of God, and not of man; therefore God will curse any man or woman in the Church who shall speak evil of the committee. He told Elder Carter at the time, in private, that he did wrong; and in company with other of the Presidents, advised him after he should fill a certain mission to the east, that he should make a confession to the Church, in order to satisfy many of the brethren who were aggrieved with him.

[Page 278]

President Phelps then arose, and said President Rigdon had truly related the matter, as far as he had gone; but one thing more—Elder Carter commanded the brethren to pray for the committee, and demanded it in the name of the Lord, with an authoritative voice and gesticulation, which are not according to the meekness of the spirit of Jesus.

President Oliver Cowdery arose and said: I do not intend to occupy much time in speaking for those who have spoken have expressed pretty much my mind and feelings on the subject; that in the advice which he and the other two Presidents had given Elder Carter, in the talk they had with him, they did have the spirit of meekness, and only desired to do him good, and had no personal feelings against him, and did not express any, but to the contrary.

President John Whitmer concurred in the statements of the above brethren, and said that he did not believe that God had made an example of Elder Carter, for he was not before the Church as such; and God had not so revealed it to the Saints; and again, it is vain that Elder Carter should command the Saints to pray for the committee, for in so doing, if they did not fellowship him, they must pray for his removal, and so all his designs would be frustrated.

Several others were called upon, and all testified that these things which have been expressed above were true and as they understood them; and one thing further, Elder Carter did say that even the faults of the committee might be charged back upon the brethren if they neglected to pray for them.

After hearing the testimony, the six Councilors spoke, and the sum of their conviction upon the matter was as follows:

Councilor John Smith said he thought that Elder Carter did not express the feelings of his heart, so as to be understood, and perhaps his heart was not so hard as his words.

Father Joseph Smith said that Elder Carter was exalted, and did not receive the admonitions of the Presidents, and in consequence lost the true spirit, and so has erred since the time of his discourse, and needs admonishing.

Councilor Orson Johnson agreed with the above.

Councilor Joseph Coe said that Elder Carter had a small degree of the Spirit in his discourse, and a greater degree in his remarks afterwards, but was awkward in expressing his views, not having much of the Spirit, and that the feelings of his heart were not as expressed by his words.

[Page 279]

An inquiry was made of the Court whether this Councilor [Joseph Coe] was correct in appealing to the feelings of men's hearts, and not to the words and actions, as they appeared.

The Court decided that the Council must be confined to facts, words, and actions; and not go into feelings and designs which were not expressed.

The other Councilors concurred in the above.

Councilor Hyrum Smith said that Elder Carter had been blessed of God, and by the prayer of faith the sick had been healed under his administration; yet he does not always have the gift of God and wisdom to direct; so in the case before the Council. Pride had engendered in Elder Carter's heart a desire to excel, and the spirit of meekness was withdrawn, and he was left to err, as has been shown by the testimony, because he is not yet perfect. But he erred in understanding, and his words were wrong; yet the spirit of his heart, or the integrity of the same, might be good in the main.

Elder Carter then arose and said that he was willing to acknowledge his faults, and that he lacked wisdom. He went on to explain how he had erred, and why—being seized with the cholera while at the east, he called upon God for deliverance, and finally received the Spirit of God which healed him, and he then thought it was the same spirit which he had when preaching in Kirtland.

When he was through, President Oliver Cowdery arose, and said that Presidents Rigdon and Phelps had requested him to speak, and they would say nothing as it was getting late, and the case was already plain before the Court. He showed that a man might be highly excited and yet neither have the Spirit of God nor the spirit of Satan; but it came by his own spirit and judgment; therefore some things may be of God, others of men, and others from the adversary; and Elder Carter had in his sermon some of the Spirit of God, but in his last remarks he had it not, but his own spirit of justification and pride, commanding in the name of Jesus, and not by the spirit of Jesus or of meekness, and was very wrong in this thing, also in exalting the committee above the brethren, as if they might not be touched by the brethren; and again, when Elder Carter was healed, it came in answer to his earnest prayer before God; but his impressions about being made an example to the Church were not an answer to prayer, and might be wrong.

[Page 280]

President Frederick G. Williams gave his decision, that Brother Carter did err with his lips in speaking, and also erred in understanding the Presidents who labored with him for it, and misinterpreted their admonitions, which led him into what followed, and finally has brought him before this Council.

President David Whitmer said, that according to the testimony it is plain that Elder Carter has lacked in humility, and also in confidence in his brethren, and erred as expressed by President Williams.

President Joseph Smith, Jun., arose, and said, that the decision of his mind was, that Brother Jared Carter erred in judgment in not understanding what the brethren desired of him when they labored with him; and he erred in spirit when he taught in the Church the things testified of here; and that the hand of the destroyer was laid upon him because he had a rebellious spirit from the beginning; and the word of the Lord has been spoken by my mouth, that it should come upon him, and this Council should see it, and now that he has been seized by the destroyer comes in fulfillment of His [the Lord's] word; and God requires him to bear testimony of it before the Church, and warn them to be careful, and not to do as he had done. But instead of doing this, he said he would prove the Book of Mormon, and one thing or another, not being sufficiently humble to deliver just the message that was required, and so he stumbled and could not get the Spirit, and the brethren were not edified, and he did not do the thing that God required, but erred in choosing words to communicate his thoughts; such as commanding the prayers of the Church instead of soliciting them, and also of making himself an example for the Church, when it was only the things that he suffered which were to be as a check upon transgression.

His rebelling against the advice and counsel of the Presidents was the cause of his falling into the hands of the destroyer again, as he had done before when he rebelled against the counsel that had been given him by the authorities of the Church; and that in all this, Elder Carter has not designed to do wickedly, but he erred in judgment, and deserves reproof, and the decision is that he shall acknowledge his errors on the morrow, before the congregation, and say, Brethren, I am fully convinced that I have erred in spirit, in my remarks before you, when I spoke here a few Sabbaths since; and now I ask your forgiveness. And if he do this in full faith, and is truly humble before God, God will bless him abundantly as He hath been wont to do.

Elder Carter arose, and justified the decision of the Court, and promised to comply.

Sylvester Smith, Clerk.

[Page 281]

The Prophet Seeks for Blessings.

I labored in obtaining blessings, which were written by Oliver Cowdery. We were thronged with company, so that our labor in this thing was hindered; but we obtained many precious things, and our souls were blessed. O Lord, may Thy Holy Spirit be with Thy servants forever. Amen.

Delight of the Prophet in Being Honest.

September 23.—I was at home writing blessings for my most beloved brethren, but was hindered by a multitude of visitors. The Lord has blessed our souls this day, and may God grant to continue His mercies unto my house this night, for Christ's sake. This day my soul has desired the salvation of Brother Ezra Thayer. Also Brother Noah Packard came to my house and loaned the committee one thousand dollars to assist building the house of the Lord. Oh! may God bless him a hundred fold, even of the things of the earth, for this righteous act. My heart is full of desire today, to be blessed of the God of Abraham with prosperity, until I shall be able to pay all my debts, for it is the delight of my soul to be honest. O Lord, that thou knowest right well. Help me, and I will give to the poor.

Rejoicing with Brethren Bound for Zion.

Brothers William, John and Joseph Tippits started for Missouri, the place designated for Zion, or the Saints' gathering place. They came to bid us farewell. The brethren came in to pray with them, and Brother David Whitmer acted as spokesman. He prayed in the spirit, and a glorious time succeeded his prayer; joy filled our hearts and we blessed them and bid them God speed, and promised them a safe journey, and took them by the hand and bid them farewell for a season. May God grant them long life and good days. These blessings I ask upon them for Christ's sake. Amen.

The Covenant to Work for the Redemption of Zion.

The High Council met at my house on the 24th to take into consideration the redemption of Zion. And it was the voice of the Spirit of the Lord that we petition the Governor, that is, those who have been driven out, shall petition to be set back on their own lands next spring, and that we go next season, to live or die on our own lands, which we have purchased in Jackson County, Missouri. We truly had a good time, and covenanted to struggle for this thing, until death shall dissolve the union; and if one falls, that the remainder be not discouraged, but pursue this object until it be accomplished; which may God grant unto us in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Also, this day drew up a subscription for enrolling the names of those who are willing to go up to Missouri next spring and settle; and I ask God in the name of Jesus that we may obtain eight hundred or one thousand emigrants.

[Page 282]

I spent the 25th of September at home.

Chapter 20

1. See Vol. I, p. 104. D&C 25

2. This was the temple building committee.