Volume 2 Chapter 14

Chapter 14

The Great Revelation On Priesthood.

[Page 209]

Minutes of Meetings of the Twelve.

Kirtland March 12, 1835.—This evening the twelve assembled, and the Council was opened by President Joseph Smith, Jun., and he proposed we take our first mission through the Eastern States, to the Atlantic Ocean, and hold conferences in the vicinity of the several branches of the Church for the purpose of regulating all things necessary for their welfare.

It was proposed that the Twelve leave Kirtland on the 4th day of May, which was unanimously agreed to.

It was then proposed that during their present mission, Elder Brigham Young should open the door of the Gospel to the remnants of Joseph, who dwell among the Gentiles, which was carried.

It was voted that the Twelve should hold their first conference in Kirtland, May 2nd; in Westfield, New York, May 9th; in Freedom, N.Y., May 22nd; in Lyonstown. N.Y., June 5th; at Pillow Point, June 10th; in West Loboro’, Upper Canada, June 29th; in Johnsbury, Vermont, July 17th; in Bradford, Massachusetts, August 7th; in Dover, New Hampshire, September 4th; in Saco, Maine, September 18th; Farmington, Maine, October 2nd.

Orson Hyde,

Wm. E. M’Lellin, Clerks.

Kirtland, March 28th.

This afternoon the Twelve met in council, and had a time of general confession. On reviewing our past course we are satisfied, and feel to confess also, that we have not realized the importance of our calling to that degree that we ought; we have been light-minded and vain, and in many things have done wrong. For all these things we have asked the forgiveness of our heavenly Father; and wherein we have grieved or wounded the feelings of the Presidency, we ask their forgiveness. The time when we are about to separate is near; and when we shall meet again, God only knows; we therefore feel to ask of him whom we have acknowledged to be our Prophet and Seer, that he inquire of God for us, and obtain a revelation, (if consistent) that we may look upon it when we are separated, that our hearts may be comforted. Our worthiness has not inspired us to make this request, but our unworthiness. We have unitedly asked God our heavenly Father to grant unto us through His Seer, a revelation of His mind and will concerning our duty the coming season, even a great revelation, that will enlarge our hearts, comfort us in adversity, and brighten our hopes amidst the powers of darkness.

Orson Hyde,

Wm. E. M’Lellin, Clerks.

[Page 210]

To President Joseph Smith, Jun., Kirtland, Ohio.

In compliance with the above request, 1 I inquired of the Lord, and received for answer the following:

Revelation on Priesthood. 2

1. There are in the Church two Priesthoods, namely, the Melchisedek and the Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood.

2. Why the first is called the Melchisedek Priesthood, is because Melchisedek was such a great High Priest;

3. Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God.

4. But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of His name, they, the Church in ancient days, called that Priesthood after Melchisedek, or the Melchisedek Priesthood.

5. All other authorities or offices in the Church are appendages to this Priesthood;

6. But there are two divisions, or grand heads; one is the Melchisedek Priesthood, and the other is the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood.

7. The office of an Elder comes under the Priesthood of Melchisedek.

8. The Melchisedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices in the Church, in all ages of the world, to administer in spiritual things.

9. The Presidency of the High Priesthood, after the Order of Melchisedek, have a right to officiate in all the offices in the Church.

10. High Priests after the Order of the Melchisedek Priesthood, have a right to officiate in their own standing, under the direction of the Presidency, in administering spiritual things, and also in the office of an Elder, Priest (of the Levitical order), Teacher, Deacon and member.

11. An Elder has a right to officiate in his stead, when the High Priest is not present.

12. The High Priest and Elder are to administer in spiritual things, agreeable to the covenants and commandments of the Church; and they have a right to officiate in all these offices of the Church, when there are no higher authorities present.

13. The second Priesthood is called the Priesthood of Aaron, because it was conferred upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations.

14. Why it is called the lesser Priesthood, is because it is an appendage to the greater, or the Melchisedek Priesthood, and has power in administering outward ordinances.

15. The Bishopric is the Presidency of this Priesthood, and holds the keys or authority of the same.

16. No man has a legal right to this office, to hold the keys of this Priesthood, except he be a literal descendant of Aaron.

17. But as a High Priest of the Melchisedek Priesthood has authority to officiate in all the lesser offices, he may officiate in the office of Bishop, when no literal descendant of Aaron can be found, provided he is called, and set apart, and ordained unto this power, by the hands of the Presidency of the Melchisedek Priesthood.

18. The power and authority of the higher, or Melchisedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church.

19. To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and Church of the first-born, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant.

20. The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the Gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

21. Of necessity there are Presidents, or presiding officers, growing out of, or appointed of, or from among those who are ordained to the several offices in these two Priesthoods.

22. Of the Melchisedek Priesthood three presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the Church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.

23. The Twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or especial witnesses of the name of Christ, in all the world, thus differing from other officers in the Church, in the duties of their calling;

24. And they form a quorum equal in authority and power to the three Presidents previously mentioned.

25. The Seventy are also called to preach the Gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world; thus differing from other officers in the Church in the duties of their calling;

26. And they form a quorum equal in authority to that of the Twelve especial witnesses or Apostles, just named.

27. And every decision made by either of these quorums, must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other.

28. (A majority may form a quorum when circumstances render it impossible to be otherwise.)

29. Unless this is the case, their decisions are not entitled to the same blessings which the decisions of a quorum of three Presidents were anciently, who were ordained after the order of Melchisedek, and were righteous and holy men.

30. The decisions of these quorums or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity;

31. Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord.

32. And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the Church, otherwise there can be no appeal from their decision.

33. The Twelve are a traveling, presiding High Council, to officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, agreeable to the institution of heaven, to build up the Church, and regulate all the affairs of the same, in all nations, first unto the Gentiles, and secondly unto the Jews.

34. The Seventy are to act in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Twelve, or the Traveling High Council, in building up the Church, and regulating all the affairs of the same in all nations; first unto the Gentiles, and then to the Jews;

35. The Twelve being sent out, holding the keys to open the door by the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and first unto the Gentiles and then unto the Jews.

36. The standing High Councils at the Stakes of Zion form a quorum equal in authority, in the affairs of the Church, in all their decisions, to the quorum of the Presidency, or to the traveling High Council.

37. The High Council in Zion form a quorum equal in authority, in the affairs of the Church, in all their decisions, to the councils of the Twelve at the Stakes of Zion.

38. It is the duty of the traveling High Council, to call upon the Seventy, when they need assistance, to fill the several calls for preaching and administering the Gospel, instead of any others,

39. It is the duty of the Twelve, in all large branches of the Church, to ordain evangelical ministers, as they shall be designated unto them by revelation.

40. The order of this Priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son. and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.

41. This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:

42. From Adam to Seth, who was ordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years, and was blessed by him three years previous to his (Adam’s) death, and received the promise of God, by his father, that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth.

43. Because he (Seth) was a perfect man, and his likeness was the express likeness of his father insomuch that he seemed to be like unto his father in all things, and could be distinguished from him only by his age.

44. Enos was ordained at the age of an hundred and thirty-four years and four months, by the hand of Adam.

45. God called upon Cainan in the wilderness, in the fortieth year of his age, and he met Adam in journeying to the place Shedolamak; he was eighty-seven years old when he received his ordination.

46. Mahalaleel was four hundred and ninety-six years and seven days old, when he was ordained by the hand of Adam, who also blessed him.

47. Jared was two hundred years old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam, who also blessed him.

45. Enoch was twenty-five year old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam, and he was sixty-five when Adam blessed him.

49. And he saw the Lord, and he walked with Him, and was before His face continually; and he walked with God three hundred and sixty-five years, making him four hundred and thirty year old when he was translated.

50. Methuselah was one hundred years old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam.

51. Lamech was thirty-two years old when he was ordained under the hand of Seth.

52. Noah was ten years old when he was ordained under the hand of Methuselah.

53. Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all High Priests, with the residue of his posterity, who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing.

54. And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael the Prince, the Archangel.

55. And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him, I have set thee to be at the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee; and thou art a prince over them for ever.

56. And Adam stood up in the midst of the congregation, and notwithstanding he was bowed down with age, being full of the Holy Ghost, predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation.

57. These things were all written in the Book of Enoch, and are to be testified of in due time.

58. It is the duty of the Twelve, also, to ordain and set in order all the other officers of the Church agreeable to the revelation which says:

59. To the Church of Christ in the land of Zion, in addition to the Church laws, respecting Church business.

60. Verily, I say unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts, there must needs be presiding Elders, to preside over those who are of the office of an Elder;

61. And also Priests to preside over those who are of the office of a Priest;

62. And also Teachers to preside over those who are of the office of a Teacher, in like manner; and also the Deacons;

63. Wherefore from Deacon to Teacher, and from Teacher to Priest, and from Priest to Elder, severally as they are appointed, according to the covenants and commandments of the Church;

64. Then comes the High Priesthood, which is the greatest of all.

65. Wherefore, it must needs be that one be appointed, of the High Priesthood, to preside over the Priesthood; and he shall be called President of the High Priesthood of the Church,

66. Or in other words, the presiding High Priest over the High Priesthood of the Church.

67. From the same comes the administering of ordinances, and blessings upon the Church, by the laying on of the hands.

68. Wherefore, the office of a Bishop is not equal unto it; for the office of a Bishop is in administering all temporal things;

69. Nevertheless, a Bishop must be chosen from the High Priesthood unless he is a literal descendant of Aaron;

70. For unless he is a literal descendant of Aaron he cannot hold the keys of that Priesthood;

71. Nevertheless, a High Priest, that is, after the order of Melchisedek, may be set apart unto the ministering of temporal things, having a knowledge of them by the Spirit of truth,

72. And also to be a judge in Israel, to do the business of the Church, to sit in judgment upon transgressors, upon testimony, as it shall be laid before him, according to the laws, by the assistance of his counselors, whom he has chosen, or will choose among the Elders of the Church;

73. This is the duty of a Bishop who is not a literal descendent of Aaron, but has been ordained to the High Priesthood after the order of Melchisedek.

74. Thus shall he be a judge, even a common judge among the inhabitants of Zion, or in a Stake of Zion, or in any branch of the Church where he shall be set apart unto this ministry, until the borders of Zion are enlarged, and it becomes necessary to have other Bishops or judges in Zion, or elsewhere;

75. And inasmuch as there are other Bishops appointed, they shall act in the same office.

76. But a literal descendant of Aaron has a legal right to the Presidency of this Priesthood, to the keys of this ministry, to act in the office of Bishop independently, without counselors, except in a case where the President of the High Priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, is tried; to sit as a judge in Israel:

77. And the decision of either of these councils. agreeable to the commandment, which says:

78. Again, verily I say unto you, the most important business of the Church, and the most difficult cases of the Church, inasmuch as there is not satisfaction upon the decision of the Bishop, or judges, it shall be handed over and carried up unto the Council of the Church, before the Presidency of the High Priesthood;

79. And the Presidency of the Council of the High Priesthood, shall have power to call other High Priests, even twelve, to assist as counselors; and thus the Presidency of the High Priesthood, and its counselors, shall have power to decide upon testimony, according to the laws of the Church;

80. And after this decision, it shall be had in remembrance no more before the Lord; for this is the highest Council of the Church of God; and a final decision upon controversies in spiritual matters.

81. There is not any person belonging to the Church who is exempt from this Council of the Church.

82. And inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the Church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood,

83. And their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him.

84. Thus none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God; that all things may be done in order and in solemnity before him, according to truth and righteousness.

85. And again, verily I say unto you, the duty of a president over the office of a Deacon, is to preside over twelve Deacons, to sit in council with them, and to teach them their duty, edifying one another, as it is given according to the covenants.

86. And also the duty of the president over the office of the Teachers, is to preside over twenty-four of the Teachers, and to sit in council with them, teaching them the duties of their office as given in the covenants.

87. Also the duty of the president over the Priesthood of Aaron, is to preside over forty-eight Priests, and sit in council with them, to teach them the duties of their office, as it is given in the covenants;

85. This president is to be a Bishop; for this is one of the duties of this Priesthood.

89. Again, the duty of the president over the office of Elders, is to preside over ninety-six Elders, and to sit in council with them, and to teach them according to the covenants.

90. This presidency is a distinct one from that of the Seventy, and is designed for those who do not travel into all the world.

91. And again, the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood, is to preside over the whole Church, and to be like unto Moses.

92. Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a Seer, a Revelator, a Translator, and a Prophet, having all the gifts of God which He bestows upon the head of the Church.

93. 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;

94. And the seventh president of these presidents is to preside over the six;

95. And these seven presidents are to choose other seventy beside the first seventy, to whom they belong; and are to preside over them;

96. And also other seventy, till seven times seventy, if the labor in the vineyard of necessity requires it;

97. And these seventy are to be traveling ministers unto the Gentiles first, and also unto the Jews;

98. Where as other officers of the Church, who belong not unto the Twelve, neither to the Seventy, are not under the responsibility to travel among all nations, but are to travel as their circumstances shall allow; notwithstanding, they may hold as high and responsible offices in the Church.

99. Wherefore, now, let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.

100. He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved, shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.

Chapter 14

1. At this point it may be well to note a singular thing with reference to nearly all the revelations that have been received in this dispensation; they came in response to enquiry, in response to prayer. “Ask and ye shall receive;” “Seek and ye shall find,” seems to have been the principle on which the Lord has acted with reference to giving revelations. For instance, the Lord revealed Himself and His son Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph in answer to the latter’s earnest prayer to know the truth respecting the various religions; Moroni came three years later in response to the young Prophet’s earnest prayer to know his standing before the Lord; nearly all the early revelations to individuals in the Church, to Joseph Smith, Sen., Hyrum Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Knight, David, Peter, John and Christian Whitmer were given in answer to the enquiry of these men to know their duty in respect of the work of the Lord then coming forth; the revelation on Church Organization and Government (D&C 20), was given in response to Joseph and Oliver’s prayers and enquiries concerning those things; so with reference to the revelations given to the Witnesses to the Book of Mormon; and in fact throughout the whole course of the work’s development. This great revelation on Priesthood and the relations of the quorums to each other in the Church is also given in response to a most humble petition to the Prophet on the part of the Twelve; and, the Prophet says: “I inquired of the Lord, and received for answer the following revelation,” then follows the revelation.

2. According to the explanatory note in the D&C 107, the fore part of this revelation, the first fifty-eight verses, was given March 28th, the same day the Twelve ask the Prophet to enquire of the Lord for them, the other items were revealed at sundry times.