Volume 4 Chapter 34 | BYU Studies

Volume 4 Chapter 34

 

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Chapter 34

Special Conference of the Church at Nauvoo—The Prophet's Reproof of the Wicked—Epistle of the Twelve to the Saints in Kirtland—Status of the Church.

Saturday, April 2.—I paid Hugh Rhodes $1,150 for a farm.

The fourth regiment of the second cohort of the Nauvoo Legion, consisting of four companies, was organized, Jonathan Dunham was elected colonel, James Brown, lieutenant-colonel, and Jesse P. Harmon, major of the same.

Monday, 4.—Transacted business at my house with Josiah Butterfield, concerning the Lawrence estates; and closed a settlement with William Marks in the counting room, and paid him off, principal and interest to the last farthing, for all that myself or the Church had had of him.

Tuesday, 5.—Settled with Brother Niswanger.

The Thirteenth Anniversary of the Organization of the Church.

Wednesday, 6.—The first day of the thirteenth year of the rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A special conference had been appointed at the city of Nauvoo, but it was so wet and cold, that it was not prudent for me to go out, as my health was not good, and I spent the day with my family. Brother Hyrum and Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards called on me in the morning, and I gave them instructions how to organize and adjourn the conference. Before they left, Brother Hyrum and the Twelve present bore testimony that they had never heard me teach any principles but those of the strictest virtue, either in public or private.

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Conference Minutes.

Special Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

City of Nauvoo, April 6, 1842.

The day being wet, the First Presidency did not attend, and Elder Page addressed those present upon the subject of the charges against him, and said he "would be happy to have an opportunity of laying his statement before the conference at a convenient time. President William Law, General Bennett, president pro tem, and President Hyrum Smith all spoke upon the subject of military affairs, showing the necessity of a well organized and efficient force; that as we were bound to serve our country, if required, in common with all good citizens, we ought not to be behind any of our neighbors in point of good order, neat uniforms and equipments, and a well organized and thoroughly disciplined legion.

Thursday, April 7.—Conference met. President Joseph Smith had the several quorums put in order and seated. He then made some very appropriate remarks concerning the duties of the Church, the necessity of unity of purpose in regard to the building of the houses, and the blessings connected with doing the will of God, and the inconsistency, folly, and danger of murmuring against the dispensations of Jehovah.

He said that the principal object of the meeting was, to bring the case of Elder Page before them; and that another object was, to choose young men and ordain them, and send them out to preach, that they may have an opportunity of proving themselves, and of enduring the tarring and feathering, and such things as those of us who have gone before them have had to endure.

Elder Page, having arrived, was called upon, and addressed the congregation in relation to the non-performance of his mission to Jerusalem. He said that when he started with Elder Hyde, joy filled their hearts, and they were aware of the responsibility of their mission. Elder Hyde's vision was that he should be in Jerusalem alone, Elder Page considered Elder Hyde to be his father and guide in the mission, and felt it his duty to submit to Elder Hyde's opinion in all things; no Elders ever were more in concert on a mission than they were while together. They made a covenant in Quincy to stand by each other while on the mission, and if they were insulted or imposed upon they would stand by each other, even unto death, and not separate unless to go a few miles to preach a sermon, that all moneys should go into one purse, and it did so.

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Elder Hyde, in Indiana, first said he would go to visit Brother Knight, and that Elder Page should stay and preach; he assented, and went and returned to Indianapolis. Elder Page had a mare given him on account of both. Elder Hyde then took the mare, went on, left his luggage with Elder Page; while away he sold the mare for $40, and received $60 more as a donation from the man to whom he had sold the mare; he returned, they preached at Dayton and received a handsome contribution. Elder Page preached sixteen miles off, and raised a branch. Elder Hyde went to Cincinnati, revised the "Missouri Persecutions," got 2,000 copies printed, paid for them, and took part of them with him, and left a large box full, and about 150 loose copies with Elder Page. Elder Hyde started for Philadelphia, purposing to visit churches on the way; he left Elder Page $23.31. Elder Page returned to Dayton and Milton, and sold books, with the intention of following Elder Hyde as soon as practicable; but he stayed a day or two too long, and the river closed by the frost, from one to two weeks earlier than usual. Elder Hyde told him that it was possible they might be from one to two years before they would leave America, as it would take upwards of $1,000 each to take them to Jerusalem and back, that it would be slow gleaning in England, and assigned this as a reason for not immediately following Elder Hyde, thinking that he would be sure of seeing him in the spring. Elder Page accused himself of not using better economy in proceeding on his journey.

There came out a piece in the paper, stating the displeasure of the Lord respecting Elder Hyde and Elder Page, he sat down and wrote a piece to put in the paper, acknowledging the justice of the charge, but wisdom prevented its being published; preached about Washington, &c., gathered funds for the mission in Westchester and in Philadelphia.

Elder Hyde raised funds on behalf of the mission, by applauding Elder Page's talents, wisdom, &c., but they were disappointed in him when they saw him; he raised funds for the mission, the most liberal was in Philadelphia. He intended to sail on the 25th of July, but the brethren said that if he would remain two weeks, they would raise funds for him; they found that it would take longer, and he decided to stay a month, he then received a command through a letter from President Hyrum Smith to an official character in Philadelphia, requesting him to return; he wrote to ascertain the reason but did not get an answer, he was then called in by President Joseph Smith and Elder Brigham Young.

Elder Hyde would often renew the covenant between them to never part with each other in that mission. Elder Page had no blame to attach to Elder Hyde; he supposed he had done right, but if he had been in his place, he would have tarried for him until the spring. The reports of his having apostatized, &c., returned even from this place to New York. Many reproved him for leaving Cincinnati for Dayton.

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President Joseph Smith then arose and stated that it was wrong to make the covenant referred to by him; that it created a lack of confidence for two men to covenant to reveal all acts of secrecy or otherwise, to each other, and Elder Page showed a little grannyism. He said that no two men, when they agreed to go together ought to separate, that the Prophets of old would not, and quoted the circumstance of Elijah and Elisha, 2 Kings 2, when about to go to Gilgal, also when about to go to Jericho, and to Jordan, that Elisha could not get clear of Elijah, that he clung to his garment until he was taken to heaven; and that Elder Page should have stuck by Elder Hyde, and he might have gone to Jerusalem, that there is nothing very bad in it, but by the experience let us profit; again the Lord made use of Elder Page as a scapegoat to procure funds for Elder Hyde. When Elder Hyde returns, we will reconsider the matter, and perhaps send them back to Jerusalem; we will fellowship Elder Page until Elder Hyde comes, and we will then weld them together and make them one. A vote was then put and carried that we hold Elder Page in full fellowship.

Voted that Elder Page be sent to Pittsburgh.

Sung a hymn—adjourned for one hour and a half, at one o'clock.

Met agreeable to adjournment—choir sung a hymn—prayer by Elder H. C. Kimball.

Elder Lyman Wight called to know if there were any present of the rough and weak things, who wished to be ordained, and go and preach, who have not been before ordained. Elder Lyman Wight then addressed those who intended to be ordained, on the subject of their duty and requirements to go and preach.

President Hyrum Smith spoke concerning the Elders who went forth to preach from Kirtland, and were afterwards called in for the washing and anointing at the dedication of the House, and those who go now will be called in also, when this Temple is about to be dedicated, and will then be endowed to go forth with mighty power, having the same anointing, that all may go forth and have the same power, the first, second, and so on, of the Seventies, and all those formerly ordained. This will be an important and beneficial mission, and not many years until those now sent will be called in again. He then spoke in contradiction of a report in circulation about Elders Heber C. Kimball, Brigham Young, himself, and others of the Twelve, alleging that a sister had been shut in a room for several days, and that they had endeavored to induce her to believe in having two wives. Also cautioned the sisters against going to the steamboats.

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President Joseph Smith spoke upon the subject of the stories respecting Elders Kimball and others, showing the folly and inconsistency of spending any time in conversing about such stories, or hearkening to them, for there is no person that is acquainted with our principles who would believe such lies, except Sharp, the editor of the Warsaw Signal.

Baptisms for the dead, and for the healing of the body must be in the font, those coming into the Church, and those re-baptized may be baptized in the river. A box should be prepared for the use of the font, that the clerk may be paid, and a book procured by the moneys to be put therein, by those baptized, the remainder to go to the use of the Temple.

Sung a hymn.

Ordinations to take place tomorrow morning. Baptisms in the font also.

There were 275 ordained to the office of Elder, under the hands of the Twelve, during the Conference.

Friday 8. Conference assembled. Sung a hymn. Prayer by Elder Heber C. Kimball.

Elder Page then addressed the assembly upon several subjects; made many interesting remarks concerning being called to the ministry, labor in the vineyard, &c. Spoke of his own travels and the fruits of his labors as an encouragement to the young Elders who were going into the vineyard.

President Joseph Smith said the baptisms would be attended to, also the ordinations.

Sung a hymn.

Elder John Taylor preached a sermon while the ordinations and baptisms were going on, on the subject of infidelity, showing that the arguments used against the Bible were rationally, scientifically, and philosophically false.

The stand was occupied in the afternoon by Elder Amasa M. Lyman, who was followed by Elder William Smith; then the Conference closed by the benediction of President Joseph Smith.

James Sloan, Clerk.

Saturday, 9.—In the morning I attended the funeral of Brother Ephraim Marks, and in the evening attended city council.

[The following brief synopsis of President Smith's remarks is from Elder Wilford Woodruff's journal:]

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Remarks of the Prophet at the Funeral of Ephraim Marks.

The Saints in Nauvoo assembled at the house of President Marks, at an early hour in the morning, to pay their last respects to the body of Ephraim Marks, son of President William Marks, who died on the evening of the 7th. A large procession formed and walked to the Grove, where a numerous congregation had assembled. President Joseph Smith spoke upon the occasion with much feeling and interest. Among his remarks he said, "It is a very solemn and awful time. I never felt more solemn; it calls to mind the death of my oldest brother, Alvin, who died in New York, and my youngest brother, Don Carlos Smith, who died in Nauvoo. It has been hard for me to live on earth and see these young men upon whom we have leaned for support and comfort taken from us in the midst of their youth. Yes, it has been hard to be reconciled to these things. I have sometimes thought that I should have felt more reconciled to have been called away myself if it had been the will of God; yet I know we ought to be still and know it is of God, and be reconciled to His will; all is right. It will be but a short time before we shall all in like manner be called: it may be the case with me as well as you. Some have supposed that Brother Joseph could not die; but this is a mistake: it is true there have been times when I have had the promise of my life to accomplish such and such things, but, having now accomplished those things, I have not at present any lease of my life, I am as liable to die as other men.

I can say in my heart, that I have not done anything against Ephraim Marks that I am sorry for, and I would ask any of his companions if they have done anything against him that they are sorry for, or that they would not like to meet and answer for at the bar of God, if so, let it prove as a warning to all to deal justly before God, and with all mankind, then we shall be clear in the day of judgment.

When we lose a near and dear friend, upon whom we have set our hearts, it should be a caution unto us not to set our affections too firmly upon others; knowing that they may in like manner be taken from us. Our affections should be placed upon God and His work, more intensely than upon our fellow beings.

Sunday, April 10.—I preached in the Grove, and pronounced a curse upon all adulterers, and fornicators, and unvirtuous persons, and those who have made use of my name to carry on their iniquitous designs.

[The following brief synopsis of the Prophet's remarks is from the journal of Elder Wilford Woodruff:]

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Synopsis of Remarks of the Prophet—Reproof of all Wickedness.

Joseph the Seer arose in the power of God; reproved and rebuked wickedness before the people, in the name of the Lord God. He wished to say a few words to suit the condition of the general mass, and then said: I shall speak with authority of the Priesthood in the name of the Lord God, which shall prove a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. Notwithstanding this congregation profess to be Saints, yet I stand in the midst of all [kinds of] characters and classes of men. If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses, for if we are not drawing towards God in principle, we are going from Him and drawing towards the devil. Yes, I am standing in the midst of all kinds of people.

Search your hearts, and see if you are like God. I have searched mine, and feel to repent of all my sins.

We have thieves among us, adulterers, liars, hypocrites. If God should speak from heaven, he would command you not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to covet, nor deceive, but be faithful over a few things. As far as we degenerate from God, we descend to the devil and lose knowledge, and without knowledge we cannot be saved, and while our hearts are filled with evil, and we are studying evil, there is no room in our hearts for good, or studying good. Is not God good? Then you be good; if He is faithful, then you be faithful. Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, and seek for every good thing.

The Church must be cleansed, and I proclaim against all iniquity. A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.

What is the reason that the Priests of the day do not get revelation? They ask only to consume it upon their lust. Their hearts are corrupt, and they cloak their iniquity by saying there are no more revelations. But if any revelations are given of God, they are universally opposed by the priests and Christendom at large; for they reveal their wickedness and abominations.

Many other remarks of interest were made.

Monday, 11.—I was at the lodge and at home.

The following is from the West Messenger.

A Meteor Falls.

Mr. Horace Palmer who was on his way from Dunkirk to Westfield, about three o'clock this morning, states that when about three miles from Dunkirk, he was suddenly surrounded by a painful vivid light proceeding from a quantity of jelly-like substance, which fell on and about him, producing a sulphurous smell, a difficulty of breathing and a severe sensation of heat. As soon as he could so far recover from his astonishment as to look up, he saw the body of a terrific meteor passing above him, and appearing to be about a mile high. Its size appeared to be three or four feet in diameter, and nearly a mile in length. Its dimensions soon varied, becoming at first broader, and then diminishing to one fourth less than its former size, when it apparently separated in pieces, and fell to the earth; and immediately after he heard the explosion, which he says was tremendous.

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When Mr. Palmer arrived at Westfield, his face had the appearance of being severely scorched, and his eyes were much affected, and he did not recover for two or three days. Mr. Palmer is reputed to be a man of integrity and temperate habits; and his story, though marvelous, is generally believed.

The meteor was seen by several other people, who speak of luminous bodies being detached from it. Its progress was attended by a noise similar to that of a train of cars on a railroad.

A man who saw it from Salem represents it to have been of dimensions much larger than described by Mr. Palmer. The report of the explosion was heard also at Buffalo.

Council Meeting with the Twelve.

Tuesday, 12.—I attended the meeting of the lodge. The Twelve, namely Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, William Smith, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, John E. Page, and Willard Richards, clerk, assembled in the lodge room at four o'clock p.m., and appointed John Taylor, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball a committee to make arrangements for the payments due from President Smith as Trustee in Trust, to Mr. Wilkie, and voted that Randolph Alexander go on a mission south to preach the Gospel. Also voted that the Twelve unite their influence to persuade the brethren to consecrate all the old notes, deeds, and obligations which they hold against each other to the building of the Temple in Nauvoo, and that Willard Richards write an epistle in the name of the Twelve on that subject, and publish it in the Times and Seasons, which he did as follows:

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An Epistle of the Twelve to the Saints in America, Greeting.

Beloved Brethren: We have whereof to congratulate you at the present time, as we have the opportunity from day to day to witness the progress of the building of the Temple of the Lord in this city, and which is and must be accomplished by the united exertions of the labors of the brethren who reside here, and the tithings and contributions of those who are scattered abroad in the different states.

In this glorious object the hearts of all the faithful are united, the hands of the laborer are made strong continually, and the purse strings of the more opulent are unloosed from time to time, to supply those things which are necessary for upraising the stones of this noble edifice; and it may truly be said that the blessing of the Lord is upon His people; we have peace without and love within the borders of our beautiful city; beautiful, indeed, for situation is Nauvoo: the crown of the great valley of the Mississippi, the joy of every honest heart.

Although all things are more prosperous concerning the Temple than at any former period, yet the Saints must not suppose that all is done, or that they can relax their exertions and the work go on. It is a great work that God has required of His people, and it will require long and unwearied diligence to accomplish it; and redoubled diligence will be necessary with all, to get the building enclosed before another winter, so that the joiner can be employed during the cold weather; and we would again call upon all the Saints abroad to unite in making their deposits in banks known to be good and safe, and forward their certificate to the Trustee in Trust, as speedily as possible; when trusty men are not coming immediately to this place who can bring your offerings. All will want the privileges and blessings of the sanctuary, when it is completed; and all can have their wishes; but they can obtain them only by faithfulness and diligence in striving to build.

We praise our God for the liberality that has hitherto been manifested; many have given more than was required of them, many have given their all, but they have done it cheerfully; they have done it voluntarily; and they shall have a great reward; for the blessings of heaven and earth shall be multiplied unto such; even the blessings of that Priesthood which hath neither beginning of days nor end of life.

While there are those who of their abundance have built unto themselves fine houses, and who ride in fine carriages and on horseback, and regale themselves with the good things of the land, and at the same time they have left the Lord's house untouched, or, if touched at all, have touched it so lightly as scarce to leave the print of their little finger: their reward will be according to their deeds, and unless they speedily repent, and come up with their abundance to the help of the Lord, they will find in the end that they have no part nor lot in this matter; their gold and silver will become cankered, their garments moth eaten, and they will perish in their own slothfulness and idolatry, leaving none to mourn their absence.

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But, brethren, the Temple will be built. There are hundreds and thousands who stand ready to sacrifice the last farthing they possess on the earth rather than have the building of the Lord's house delayed, all while this spirit prevails no power beneath the heavens can hinder its progress: but we desire you all to help with the ability which God has given you; that you may all share the blessings which will distil from heaven to earth through this consecrated channel.

This is not all. It will be in vain for us to build a place where the Son of Man may lay his head, and leave the cries of the widow and the fatherless, unheard by us, ascending up to the orphan's God and widow's Friend. It is in vain, we cry Lord, Lord. and do not the things our Lord hath commanded; to visit the widow, the fatherless, the sick, the lame, the blind, the destitute, and minister to their necessities; and it is but reasonable that such cases should be found among a people who have but recently escaped the fury of a relentless mob on the one hand, and gathered from the half-starved population of the scattered nations on the other.

Neither is this all. It is not sufficient that the poor be fed and clothed, the sick ministered unto, the Temple built—no, when all this is accomplished, there must be a year of Jubilee: there must be a day of rejoicing, there must be a time of release to Zion's sons, or our offerings, our exertions, our hopes, and our prayers will be in vain, and God will not accept of the doings of His people.

On these days of darkness which overspread our horizon; when the Wolf was howling for his prey around the streets of Kirtland; when the burglar was committing his midnight and midday depredations in Jackson county; when the heartless politician was thrusting his envious darts in Clay county—and when the savage war whoop, echoed and re-echoed through Far West, and Zion's noblest sons were chained in dungeons, and her defenseless daughters driven by a horde of savages, from their once peaceful homes, to seek a shelter in a far distant land—many of the brethren stepped forward to their rescue, and not only expended all they possessed for the relief of suffering innocence, but gave their notes and bonds to "obtain more means, with which to help those who could not escape the overwhelming surge of banishment from all that they possessed on earth."

Death, wounds, and sickness, from the mob, and the cold and shelterless situation of the brethren, followed in quick succession; and all the means which could possibly be obtained from each other, in addition to the noble charities of the citizens of Illinois, were brought into requisition to sustain a remnant of the Saints, who now mostly inhabit this place.

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To accomplish this, the President and Bishops loaned money and such things as could be obtained, and gave their obligations in good faith for the payment of the same; and many of the brethren signed with them at different times and in different places, to strengthen their hands and help them carry out their designs; fully expecting, that, at some future day, they would be enabled to liquidate all such claims, to the satisfaction of all parties.

Many of these claims have already been settled; many have been given up as cancelled by those who held them, and many yet remain unsettled. The Saints have had many difficulties to encounter since they arrived at this place. In a new country, destitute of houses, food, clothing, and nearly all the necessaries of life, which were rent from them by an unfeeling mob—having to encounter disease and difficulties unnumbered, it is not surprising that the Church has not been able to liquidate all such claims, or that many individuals should yet remain involved, from the foregoing circumstances; and while things remain as they are, and men remain subject to the temptations of evil as they now are, the day of release, and year of jubilee cannot be; and we write you especially at this time, brethren, for the purpose of making a final settlement of all such claims, of brother against brother; of the brethren against the Presidency and Bishops, &c.; claims which have originated out of the difficulties and calamities the Church has had to encounter, and which are of long standing, so that when the Temple is completed, there will be nothing from this source to produce jars, and discords, strifes and animosities, so as to prevent the blessings of heaven descending upon us as a people.

To accomplish this most desirable object, we call on all the brethren who hold such claims, to bring them forward for a final settlement; and also those brethren who have individual claims against each other, of long standing, and the property of the debtor has been wrested from him by violence, or he has been unfortunate, and languished on a bed of sickness till his means are exhausted; and all claims whatsoever between brother and brother, where there is no reasonable prospect of a just and equitable settlement possible, that they also by some means, either by giving up their obligations, or destroying them, see that all such old affairs be adjusted, so that it shall not give occasion for difficulties to arise hereafter. Yes, brethren, bring all such old accounts, notes, bonds, etc., and make a consecration of them to the building of the Temple, and if anything can be obtained on them, it will be obtained; and if nothing can be obtained, when the Temple is completed, we will make a burnt-offering of them, even a peace-offering, which shall bind the brethren together in the bonds of eternal peace, and love and union; and joy and salvation shall flow forth into your souls, and you shall rejoice and say it is good that we have harkened unto counsel, and set our brethren free, for God hath blessed us.

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How can we prosper while the Church, while the Presidency, while the Bishops, while those who have sacrificed everything but life, in this thing, for our salvation, are thus encumbered? It cannot be. Arise, then, brethren, set them free, and set each other free, and we will all be free together, we will be free indeed.

Let nothing in this epistle be so construed as to destroy the validity of contracts, or give any one license not to pay his debts. The commandment is to pay every man his dues, and no man can get to heaven who justly owes his brother or his neighbor, who has or can get the means and will not pay it; it is dishonest, and no dishonest man can enter where God is.

We remain, your brethren in the Gospel of Peace,

Brigham Young, President,

Heber C. Kimball,

Orson Pratt,

William Smith,

John E. Page,

Lyman Wight,

Wilford Woodruff,

John Taylor,

Geo. A. Smith,

Willard Richards, Clerk.

Military Appointments.

James Arlington Bennett, of Arlington House, Long Island, is hereby appointed Inspector-General of the Nauvoo-Legion, with the rank and title of Major-General; his place to be supplied when absent, by the Major-General of the Legion.

Joseph Smith, Lieutenant-General.

City of Nauvoo, Illinois, April 12th, A. D. 1842.