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Sorting Things Out, Part 2

This incident was to have occurred on September 27th of 1886, and L. John Nuttal was in attendance. He was the Secretary to the First Presidency at the time. His journal records the following for that date:

President Cannon still improving in his health. The rest of the party all well.
President Taylor signed several recommends. A letter was received from Elder F. D. Richards, enclosing one from Bro. E. W. Davis of the 17th Ward, in regard to his call as a missionary and needing help.
A letter was received from Bro. A. Miner dated Sept. 20th stating that he had perfected the reincorporation of Toole Stake Corporation.
A letter was received from Bro. Wm. M. Palmer at Council Bluffs September 22, 1886, giving an account of his labors to that time.
A letter was received from Sister Ellen Norwood Billingsley of Orderville.
A letter was written to Elder Enoch Farr, President, Sandwich Islands Mission, in answer to his letter received September 7th.
A letter was also sent to Bro. Thos. G. Webber of Z.C.M.I.
A leter was written to President W. Woodruff in reply to his letter received September 25th.
President Taylor pitched quoits a while this morning, also in the afternoon.
President Cannon in the home most all day; he sat out of doors awhile in the after part of the day.
Brother S. Bateman carried in our mail matter.

The reference to “pitching quoits” means a game. The game was much like horseshoes, where you throw a ring made of rope or metal trying to ring it around a stake. In other words, the purported meeting on this day, if it happened at the times reported in the Woolley interview, would have been outdoors, and would have included both morning and afternoon games played by president Taylor. There is no real harmony between the account retold in the Woolley interview and the Nuttal record for that date. The hours’ long meeting in the one and the morning and afternoon games in the other are not describing the same day.

George Q. Cannon’s diary for the same day likewise makes no mention of the purported meeting which Lorin Woolley describes.

On the chance the meeting occurred the day before and was misremembered, again, the diary of L. John Nuttal is void of any reference. The meeting that day is referred to as “our usual meeting” and did not begin until 2:30 in the afternoon. Thus the dating cannot be correct. Both George Q. Cannon and L. John Nuttal were faithful reporters, and would have taken note of anything like the incident which is described by Lorin Woolley.

What that means is the account in the interview has at least one error. When relying on something for so important a matter as holding “authority” to proceed with plural marriages, these details matter a great deal. So, it appears to me the memory of Lorin Woolley is not altogether reliable, but that is a small matter. An event absent from the records of the faithful recorders (First Presidency Secretary and Councilor) does not prove that nothing happened. To be clear, I do think something happened, but what happened was far less than the event as reported by Lorin C. Woolley.

The next matter I think inaccurate in the account is the “light appearing under the door leading to president Taylor’s room.” This is contrary to the way these things happen.

First, from scripture, the presence of a heavenly light is not visible to unintended third-parties. An audience with one man will leave another man standing right next to him without any notice or visible exposure to the heavenly light. This is true of Daniel, who alone saw the vision and his companions did not: Daniel 10: 7. It is true of the vision in Joseph Smith’s childhood bedroom, where others were also sleeping when the angel Moroni appeared. See JS-H 1: 30.

Second, this is not how the Vision of the Three Degrees of Glory was received. Section 76 was an open vision to Joseph and Sidney Rigdon, seen in the same room where about a dozen visitors were present. They did not see any light, or any portion of what Joseph and Sidney saw. The best account was given by Philo Dibble, reproduced in the Juvenile Instructor 27 (May 15, 1892) 303-04, which states in relevant part:

The vision which is recorded in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants [D&C 76] was given at the house of “Father Johnson,” in Hiram, Ohio, and during the time that Joseph and Sidney were in the spirit and saw the heavens open, there were other men in the room, perhaps twelve, among whom I was one during a part of the time– probably two-thirds of the time,–I saw the glory and felt the power, but did not see the vision.
The events and conversation, while they were seeing what is written (and many things were seen and related that are not written,) I will relate as minutely as is necessary.
Joseph would, at intervals, say: “What do I see?” as one might say while looking out the window and beholding what all in the room could not see. Then he would relate what he had seen or what he was looking at. Then Sidney replied, “I see the same.” Presently Sidney would say “what do I see?” and would repeat what he had seen or was seeing, and Joseph would reply, “I see the same.”
This manner of conversation was repeated at short intervals to the end of the vision, and during the whole time not a word was spoken by any other person. Not a sound nor motion made by anyone but Joseph and Sidney, and it seemed to me that they never moved a joint or limb during the time I was there, which I think was over an hour, and to the end of the vision.

Joseph sat firmly and calmly all the time in the midst of a magnificent glory, but Sidney sat limp and pale, apparently as limber as a rag, observing which, Joseph remarked, smilingly, “Sidney is not used to it as I am.”

If Woolley was not invited into the vision (and his account makes clear he was not invited to participate), then this detail of seeing the heavenly light does not belong in an authentic narrative. It is a detail that, in my view, has been added to embellish the account and make it seem more believable. However, to me it makes the account less believable.

My own experience also tells me it is not trustworthy. The Lord was with me in the Draper Temple recently, and no one present had any idea what transpired nor beheld a thing of what happened there. An interloper does not behold glory, nor participate in such things. The retelling by Woolley, however, makes the mistake of embellishing with the very kind of detail that is incorrect.

This detail, therefore, makes the account less authentic to me, not more. Whatever happened with president Taylor involving the claim he gave the power to seal plural marriages to the “five men” did not, could not, have involved an interloper beholding a heavenly light shining under a closed door. The light of heaven is not natural, coarse or physical. To behold it you must be invited in, and if not invited in you are left without any vision, or knowledge of its presence.

Be careful what tales you trust. There are more problems with Lorin Woolley’s account, which we will continue to discuss…

Sorting Things Out

We should be more interested in the truth than in just inspiring one another with stories that flatter us, or make us feel we are better than others. We cannot afford the luxury of thinking ourselves right when we believe an error. Promoting “faith” in errors is what the Book of Mormon calls “unbelief.” When we prize our errors and hold them as true when they are not, we dwindle in unbelief. This is a frequent occurance throughout the Book of Mormon, and results in the inability to understand God’s word. (Mosiah 26: 1-3.)

We cannot afford to be popular. The price is too high. We cannot turn away from truth even when it causes us painful and difficult repentance. We must not shrink away from what is required to remove the scales from our eyes.

I thought I had said all I needed on the topic of plural marriage, but a friend has loaned me a copy of the multi-volume work of Arnold Boss on the history of plural marriage. It is apparent more needs to be said to make the matter clear. Therefore, I am going to return to the subject and history to clarify some things.

As far as I can determine, Arnold Boss is an honest man. I do not question his ability to record and report what he has recorded in his account. I accept his account of the interview in 1929 of Lorin C. Woolley, meaning that I trust the interview took place and that Arnold Boss accurately reported the contents of that interview. The defect does not lie with Arnold Boss, but in the account told by Lorin C. Woolley.

Assuming they are interested in the truth, I will lay this matter out in a series of posts that I think will be helpful to the Fundamentalist community. I have been acquainted with this event for over twenty years. 


Here is the account given by Woolley in the interview recorded by Arnold Boss on September 22, 1929. I leave the punctuation and spellings as in the original. The “guard” speaking in the narrative is Lorin C. Woolley. He is relating to Arnold Boss the events that took place on the night of September 26-27, 1886 involving church president John Taylor. This is what purportedly occurred during the night of September 26-27, 1886:

That evening I was called to act as guard during the first part of the night, notwithstanding the fact that I was greatly fatigued on account of the three days trip I had just completed.
The brethren retired to bed soon after nine o’clock. The sleeping rooms were inspected by the guard as was the custom. President Taylor’s room had no outside door. The windows were heavily screened.
Sometime after the brethren retired and while I was reading the Doctrine and Covenants, I was suddenly attracted to a light appearing under the door leading to President Taylor’s room, and was at once startled to hear the voices of men talking there. There were three distince voices. I was bewildered because it was my duty to keep people out of that room and evidently some one had entered without my knowing it. I made a hasty examination and found the door leading to the room bolted as usual. I then examined the outside of the house and found all the window screens were intact. While examining the last window, and feeling greatly agitated, a voice spoke to me, saying, “Can’t you feel the spirit? Why should you worry?”
At this I returned to my post and continued to hear the voices in the room. They were so audible that although I did not see the parties I could place their positions in the room from the sound of the voices. The three voices continued until about midnight, when one of them left, and the other two continued. One of them I recognized as President Taylor’s voice. I called Charles Birrell and we both sat up until eight o’clock the next morning.
When President Taylor came out of his room about eight o’clock of the morning of September 27, 1886, we could scarcely look at him on account of the brightness of his appearance.
He stated, “brethren, I have had a very pleasant conversation all night with brother Joseph.” (Joseph Smith) I said, “Boss, who is the man that was there until midnight?” He asked, “what do you know about it Lorin?” I told him all about my experience. He said, Brother Lorin, that was your Lord.”
We had no breakfast, but assembled ourselves in a meeting. I forgot who opened the meeting. I was called to offer benediction. I think, my father John W. Woolley, offered the opening prayer. There were present at this meeting, In addition to President Taylor, George Q. Cannon, L. John Nuttal, John W. Wooley, Samuel Bateman, Charles H. Wilkins, Charles Birrell, Daniel R. Bateman, bishop Samual Sedden, George Earl, My mother Julia E. Woolley, my sister, Amy Woolley, and myself. The meeting was held from about nine o’clock in the morning until five in the afternoon without intermission, being about eight hours in all.
President Taylor called the meeting to order. He had the manifesto, that had been prepared under direction of George Q. Cannon, read again. Then he put each person under covenant that he or she would defend the principle of Celestial or Plural marriage, and that they would consecrate their lives, liberty and property to this end, and that they personally would sustain and uphold that principle.

[I skip several pages to get to the part most important to the Fundamentalist movement:]

John Taylor set five apart and gave them authority to perform marriage ceremonies, and also to set others apart to do the same thing as long as they remeined on earth; and while doing so the prophet Joseph Smith stoood by directing the proceedings. Two of us had not met the prophet Joseph Smith in theis mortal life, and we, Charles H. Wilkins and myself, were introduce to him and shook hands with him.

Because of what I know and what the scriptures relate, this account, though I believe faithfully recorded by Arnold Boss, is riddled with errors. Lorin C. Woolley has embellished the account, and his additions reveal the fraud. We will go through some of the many errors in a series of posts to show why it is false.

There is a principle important and binding on all of us: The things given us by the Lord should never be overstated. They should be given without embellishment, additions, or interpolations. They are not ours, but the Lord’s. When He entrusts us with something (or anything), then it is our duty to faithfully perform and to keep everything within the bounds the Lord set. Our additions detract from the Lord’s work. Joseph constantly understated his experiences. This is one of the signs he is telling us truth.
It is in the embellishment that Lorin C. Woolley reveals this is a dishonest account. And this event is critical for those who want to claim they can still practice plural marriage, because the authority has remained in the Fundamentalist groups.

Responses and Response

Just because I respond to a question does not mean I associate importance with the topic. Those who were unaware of the “Davidic king” topic needn’t trouble themselves to read about it. For the most part those who claim to understand the topic are not going to help you. I would leave it alone.
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For the woman who has become ostracized because she has “read my books” I would suggest that reading them does not require you to talk about them. No one needs to be told what they aren’t willing to hear. I stay on-topic in church meetings and discussions. I teach from the church provided materials, and participate by contributing in the context of lessons being taught by others. I do not impose my views on someone else. They either must search for it independent of the church’s programs, or buy the books and read them for themselves. Until asked a question, I leave others alone. Those who want to know more are actively searching and can be assisted. Those who are completely content would not be interested in anything contrary to their understanding, and you invite arguments when you try to “convert” them.
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As I said, the church IS the current program of the Lord. The broad net is spreading worldwide and gathering all manner of fish. Angels will one day sort through them. But for now, we should all work with this organization to fulfill the Lord’s assignment.
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The “awful situation” among us Latter-day Saints IS the primary topic I discuss.
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The specifics of what one person does/did will never apply to what another must do. This is individual. There are no rules. What will break your heart is different from what broke Abraham’s, which in turn was different from what broke the Lord’s, and what broke Joseph’s. Therefore the examples we have in scripture are all you need study.

Miscellaneous

In response to comments:
The deaths of Joseph and Hyrum were necessary. The older brother as prophet-priest died first, and the younger brother as priest-king died second. The prophecies, including many of Jesus’ parables about the end times, lay out two incompatible processes that were to happen.

In one, the gospel “net” extends to catch anything it can. This requires an aggressively marketed latter-day church whose sweep is non-exclusive and non-exclusionary. It must gather into itself “all manner of fish,” some are good and some are bad.

In the other, the angels will pick through the “net” and gather out of it “the good” fish to be kept. It is exclusive and it is exclusionary. It comes only after the widely cast net has first gathered.

Doesn’t matter if you read the parable of the Ten Virgins, or the vineyard, the theme is the same: There are two latter-day processes. If you didn’t kill Joseph and Hyrum, and you left intact the process which would have created Zion, then the larger, public outreach seeking to gather anyone into the “net” would have ended. The smaller, more restrictive gathering by the angels of only “the good” would have been confined to so small a sample of humanity that the world could complain there wasn’t enough of an opportunity given them.

The world was not ready for Zion. The angels were willing to begin the harvest, but then again, they would have been willing to do that in the New Testament times. (Matt. 13: 28.)
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The reason for the “offer” put up yesterday is to disabuse the notion I am an enemy to the church. I am not. I am its greatest friend. But the “Sunday School” educated saints, who long ago surrendered their minds to others to be controlled, find any effort to deal with the depth, height, width and breadth of the gospel to be frightening. These insecure folks want to complain, rather than stretch or stress themselves by searching into the things required to understand our faith and our faith’s history. Church leaders are very understanding –  until they get alarming reports about people losing faith because of something someone has said or written.

I’ve thought about publishing a sample of the comments that come to me from those whose faith and church activity have been strengthened by what I’ve done, but that seems self-serving and offensive even to me; so I won’t do that. Far, far more people have been helped than harmed by what I’ve written. But even if there is one, I’m willing to help to assist them in their crisis of faith. They deserve to be helped, and if I can help I’m willing to do so.

I got several reports about some of the “often in error but never in doubt” crowd of ‘Mormon experts’ who think I need to be “handled” by the church. At least one with a name you’d all recognize. The offer to meet with others was made to leave no doubt about my sincerity, faithfulness and willingness to do what I can to help keep people active, and inside the church.

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The “awful situation” in Ether 8: 24 certainly has a political, governmental and economic component. But these are all Babylon. They will fail. Fixing them is temporary. Focusing on them can be distracting. What will endure are the souls of men. They need to be reclaimed. That happens through repentance. If they will repent, then as a natural result they will end their involvement with the many political and economic conspiracies presently underway. Attacking them without saving men’s souls is an exercise in futility. This is why I do not bother spending any time writing about them.

God sees their doings. Their secrets are not hidden from Him. To the extent that they revel in their great gains and well laid plans, they are destined for disappointment. We should not be trying to join them, nor to become part of their great system of benefits. Too much of that has distracted the church and its members already.

The cure lies in repentance. Not in politics. We aren’t going to legislate or regulate salvation. The coming violence and captivity will help save men’s souls.

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Prophecies are not given to enable us to understand details of the Lord’s plans in advance. They are not designed to allow you to parse apart God’s plans and know what He plans beforehand. They are only meant to be understood after they have happened. Then, when they have happened, you will understand what God was saying and that He was in control all along.

You should be very careful about settling on a final interpretation of any prophecy because they were not given with that in mind.

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Mortal man is responsible for fulfilling the Gospel. Until they rise up, everything remains unfulfilled. The “Davidic King” is not an identifiable person, nor will he be, until he has accomplished the tasks assigned to the role. Whether anyone will ever rise up to accomplish that is not a matter of destiny, but it is rather a matter of finally accepting and acting consistent with the Lord’s will.

Every dispensation of the Gospel is the “last Dispensation” until it fails. Then another is sent and it is the “last” until it fails. This will continue for so long as man continues to fail. God is in no hurry. Apparently we are not either.

Standing Offer

I have made this offer on several occasions through the church leaders, but will repeat it again here:

If there is someone who claims they have become dissatisfied with the church because of something I have written, I am willing to meet with them to discuss why they should remain faithful and active in the church. I would want to meet with them in the following setting:

First, their Bishop and Stake President would need to be present. If one or the other could not attend, then I would meet with the person and their Bishop or their Stake President, but I would prefer to meet with both present.

Second, I would want it to be in the church office of either the Bishop or the Stake President, and not in a home.

Third, I can only make this offer for those living in Utah, and I could travel within reason. (I will decide what is reasonable.)

Fourth, all arrangements need to be made by email communication through this email address dssnuffer@gmail.com.

This is a matter I mean sincerely. If there is someone you know who would benefit from this offer, talk to the Bishop and Stake President and if they want to have me come and have that discussion I would willingly do so. I can come most any evening of the week and could even meet on Sunday. These local leaders need to be present so they will know what I say, what I stand for, and that any suggestion that I want people leaving the church is exactly opposite of my intention.

The church deserves our gratitude and our faithful service. It is not perfect, but it is the best venue for coming to know God existing in any organized body on the earth today. You will only do yourself a disservice by walking away from the church.

I love my ward. Presently, I help the priests getting ready for their missions prepare for their endowment. This is the same group of priests I used to teach. The work used to be done by a member of the Draper Temple Presidency living in my ward. He and I have spoken several times about this calling. It is a wonderful opportunity. I serve in this capacity with the best efforts I can. I do my best to serve in all my callings. Church service is important and we should all render that service willingly and to the best of our abilities.

We all struggle to understand the restoration. This is a work of patience and devotion. It requires us to carefully study all the revelations, the Book of Mormon, and our history. It should be a labor of love. As we work to find truth while preserving faith, we must have the maturity and patience to allow the truth of our situation to unfold before us in humility and gratitude. The work of God is greater than we can grasp with haste. Time, and patient and ponderous thoughts are required if we are going to obtain the promises offered us. Haste and impatience will cause us only regret.

There are those who are quick to judge. They are fools. Deciding you are discouraged by some of the things men have done or failed to do makes you no better than their worst failure. Even with their shortcomings, men have rendered devoted service. If you think you see a matter more clearly, then rejoice and thank God for that clarity, but do not condemn their failure or mistakes. Studying errors should be with an eye toward avoiding them. We learn to do better, to become better, to reach higher by looking at the mistakes of the past. This should be a journey of discovery solely for the purpose of improving your own relationship with God, not to let you lose faith, become embittered, or harshly judge others.

Recognizing mistakes is only useful if it improves your understanding of, and relationship with God. If you cannot do that, then leave it alone and do something else.

Two quick asides:
First, if Hyrum’s letter to the church (posted yesterday) had been followed, Parley Pratt would not have been killed. He never would have given assistance to Eleanor McLean, which motivated her husband Hector to kill Parley.
Second, don’t substitute one idol for another. I’m not going to save you. Just like no other man will. That is the role of the Lord, and the Lord alone. Follow Him.

Posted Essays

We have had continued requests for the essays Denver has written. The requests have increased since he mentioned “The First Three Words of the Endowment” in a recent post. Here are the links:

“The First Three Words”

“Elijah Talk”

These links will take you to the Scribd website. You don’t need a Facebook account to access Scribd, but you do need a Scribd account. They are free and registering is simple and doesn’t obligate you to anything.

Scribd –The World’s Largest Online Library.  Read, Publish, and Share Documents and Written Works.
 

Hyrum Smith, Part 3

In November 1842, Hyrum Smith wrote the following letter to the church. I reprint it in whole, without comment. Joseph was irritated because the church did not seem to realize Hyrum was entitled to lead the church. William Clayton’s Journal records on July 16, 1843 that Joseph said the following: “Hyrum held the office of prophet to the church by birthright… the Saints must regard Hyrum for he has authority.”

The letter (reproduced below) probably should have been included in the D&C. It tells a great deal about the kind of leader Hyrum Smith would have made had he survived Joseph’s death:

To our well beloved brother Parley P. Pratt, and to the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England, and scattered abroad throughout all Europe, and to the Saints—Greeting:

Whereas, in times past persons have been permitted to gather with the Saints at Nauvoo, in North America—such as husbands leaving their wives and children behind; also, such as wives leaving their husbands, and such as husbands leaving their wives who have no children, and some because their companions are unbelievers. All this kind of proceedings we consider to be erroneous and for want of proper information. And the same should be taught to all the Saints, and not suffer families to be broken up on any account whatever if it be possible to avoid it. Suffer no man to leave his wife because she is an unbeliever. These things are an evil and must be forbidden by the authorities of the church or they will come under condemnation; for the gathering is not in hast nor by flight, but to prepare all things before you, and you know not but the unbeliever may be converted and the Lord heal him; but let the believers exercise faith in God, and the unbelieving husband shall be sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife by the believing husband, and families are preserved and saved from a great evil which we have seen verified before our eyes. Behold this is a wicked generation, full of lyings, and deceit, and craftiness; and the children of the wicked are wiser than the children of light; that is, they are more crafty; and it seems that it has been the case in all ages of the world.
And the man who leaves his wife and travels to a foreign nation, has his mind overpowered with darkness, and Satan deceived him and flatters him with the graces of the harlot, and before he is aware he is disgraced forever; and greater is the danger for the woman that leaves her husband. The evils resulting from such proceedings are of such a nature as to oblige us to cut them off from the church.
And we also forbid that a woman leave her husband because he is an unbeliever. We also forbid that a man shall leave his wife because she is an unbeliever. If he be a bad man (i.e., the believer) there is a law to remedy that evil. And if the law divorce them, then they are at liberty; otherwise they are bound as long as they two shall live, and it is not our prerogative to go beyond this; if we do it, it will be at the expense of our reputation.
These things we have written in plainness and we desire that they should be publicly known, and request this to be published in the STAR.
May the Lord bestow his blessings upon all the Saints richly, and hasten the gathering, and bring about the fullness of the everlasting covenant are the prayers of your brethren.
Written by Hyrum Smith, patriarch.

Hyrum Smith, Part 2

In order to have a meaningful discussion about Hyrum, it is necessary to provide background information that may seem strange to most modern Latter-day Saints. We have a much different story today than the story told in the beginning. To communicate across the barrier of mistaken and incomplete understanding, there are some ideas that seem strange that are required as background to begin to explain why Hyrum was so significant.

Hyrum was given the calling of “Priesthood and Patriarch” in a revelation in January, 1841. (D&C 124: 91.) That seems a curious statement to us, since everyone is presumed to have held the “priesthood” as soon as they were “elders” in the church. In the beginning, however, it was not understood the same way it is now. The offices of “elder,” like other offices, (priests, deacons, teachers) were offices in the church. (D&C 20: 38.) They were not coincidental to having priesthood. They were “offices… in the church of Christ.” (This was the original name of the church.) These offices were elected, approved by common consent, and then filled by those elected. After Section 107, the two things (church office and priesthood) were conflated to mean the same thing. The office belongs to the church, and whether there is priesthood present or not, the right to preach, teach, expound, exhort, baptize, lay on hands for the Holy Ghost, bless and pass the sacrament, are all things which the Lord commissioned the church to perform. This is also why, at the time Joseph and Oliver received only the Aaronic Priesthood, (JS-H 1: 69) they began to call one another the First and Second “elder of the church.” (JS-H 1: 72.) This is also why Joseph and Oliver received the Holy Ghost when baptized (JS-H 1: 73) even though the angel said the priesthood given did not have “the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (JS-H 1: 70.) They had the right to baptize, they were called the “First and Second elders of the church,” but they did not have the “power of laying on hands” for the Holy Ghost. This is not inconsistent, but it is different from what we now overlay onto the idea of priesthood. Today we are more confused than ever even when we think ourselves in possession of the truth.

In any event, when the January 1841 revelation came, Hyrum had already proven valiant. The time arrived when the Lord wanted Hyrum to be ordained to “Priesthood” and “Patriarch” so that he might “hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people.” (D&C 124: 93.) This same revelation appointed another “prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto [the Lord’s] church.” (D&C 124: 94.) This was the word of the Lord establishing this status and entitling Hyrum to claim this position.

He was then to “act in concert also with my servant Joseph” as co-president of the church. (D&C 124: 95.) Joseph had restored to him “all things” and could ask and the Lord would “make all things known unto” him (D&C 132: 45). Hyrum was likewise able to “ask and receive” answers from the Lord. (D&C 124: 95.)

Because of this ordination by the word of the Lord, Hyrum was given the power to seal: “Whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (D&C 124: 93.) These rights made him co-equal with Joseph, though Hyrum always acted only in concert with Joseph. He was meek, like Moses (Numbers 12: 3) and like Nephi, son of Helaman (Helaman 10: 5). They could be trusted by the Lord because they would do what the Lord wanted, not what they wanted. (See also Alma 14: 10-11.)

This is the  kind of man Hyrum was. He was trusted by the Lord, and chose to die with his brother. Had he lived,  He would have been Joseph’s successor. Brigham Young said this during the debates over who should succeed Joseph as the president: “Did Joseph Smith ordain any man to take his place? He did. Who was it? It was Hyrum…” (Times & Seasons, October 15, 1844, Vol. 5, p. 683.)

This is an interesting fact because Hyrum was not a member of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time he was killed. However, even Brigham Young, who won the initial debate having argued that the twelve should lead, and then ultimately won an election in December 1847 to become the president of the church, acknowledged it was Hyrum’s right to succeed Joseph. With Hyrum gone, and without any clear direction to follow, the church elected first the twelve, and then Brigham Young.

Brigham Young was never ordained to be church president. He was elected. The initial offices of Elder, Priest, Teacher, Deacon were elected positions. Brigham Young viewed the office of church president as similarly elected.

He explained how he thought this should operate. Anyone could lead the church. All that was required was an election, then the prayers of the members. Here is the system: “Take any man in this kingdom, and if the people say that they will make him a President, or a Bishop, or elect him to fill any other office, and the faith of the people is concentrated to receive light through that officer or pipe laid by the power of the Priesthood from the throne of God, you might as well try to move the heavens as to receive anything wrong through that conductor. No matter whom you elect for an officer, if your faith is concentrated in him through whom to receive the things which he is appointed to administer in, light will come to you. Let a presiding officer or a Bishop turn away from righteousness, and the Lord Almighty would give him the lock-jaw, if he could not stop his mouth in any other way, or send a fit of numb palsy on him, so that he could not act, as sure as the people over whom he presided were right, that they might not be led astray.” (Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 3, p. 1379, November 29, 1857; the talk can also found at JD Vol. 6 beginning on p. 93.) In this system, the power of being elected coupled with the members’ prayers were enough to always insure the answers you got through that leader were exactly perfect.

This was in the early days when church leaders were elected to office. Church authorities may offer names, but the congregation, stake, or church members elected them to office.

With Hyrum’s death, we lost something of great value. If he had outlived Joseph, he would have been the unchallenged church president. His succession would have set the pattern for later church presidents. They each would have chosen their own successors before they died. (See D&C 43: 2-5.)

By the time Brigham Young established the twelve as the seat of power, the pattern was set. Instead of the replacement being chosen by the sitting president through revelation, the senior apostle was presumed to be the next in line. Today’s legal structure using the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the succession is automatic. The corporation’s sole member is the longest tenured apostle. This is in place because Hyrum did not outlive Joseph. So we are all affected by the loss of Joseph’s brother.

Hyrum Smith

Hyrum Smith would eventually replace Joseph Smith as the prophet of the church. However, in 1829 he was given a revelation through his younger brother, Joseph. This was given before the Book of Mormon was published, before a church was organized, and while the work of the new Dispensation was in its very first stages. The content, however, is important. Not just for Hyrum, but for all of us.

Just like others, Hyrum was reminded of what it took to be called to the work: “whosoever will thrust in his sicle and reap, the same is called of God.” (D&C 11: 4, see 3 also.) It wasn’t an extensive application and approval process, but it was based on the willingness to do what God wanted that created “the call of God” to the laborer. Without ordination, or setting apart, the relationship was between the individual and God. It is an interesting series of revelations at the beginning of the work which uniformly leave God’s calling to the individual, based on their desire. (See, e.g., D&C 4: 3; D&C 12: 4; among others.)

The first stage, however, was limited to crying repentance. Hyrum was to “say nothing but reptentance unto this generation.” (D&C 11: 9.) The potential for Hyrum doing more later was certain, provided he would follow the Lord’s counsel. (D&C 11: 10.)

Hyrum was instructed on how to know he was proceeding in the right way: “put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good–yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.” (D&C 11: 12.)

Then, despite his desire and the call, Hyrum was told to temporarily stand down. The Lord instructs him: “Behold, I command you that you need not suppose that you are called to preach until you are called. Wait a little longer, until you shall have my word, my rock, my church, and my gospel, that you may know of a surety my doctrine.” (D&C 11: 15-16.)

The Lord told Hyrum essentially to ‘stand down’ and not do anything, even if he were “called” to the work. There was more needed before he could be of use to the Lord. He needed to accomplish one work: “Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.” (D&C 11: 20.)

Then, one of the great voices of the Restoration was told: “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and they shall your tongue be loosed.” (D&C 11: 21.) Hyrum needed to study. He needed to fill himself with information before he began his work. “Hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto.” (D&C 11: 22.) Hyrum had homework to do. He needed to “study” things.

Hyrum would become the church prophet and Patriarch. He would be co-president and co-testator with his younger brother, Joseph. Joseph had several other brothers, but it was Hyrum who followed the forumla given him by the Lord. It was Hyrum who qualified himself to the work by his diligence and heed.

Hyrum was the designated successor to Joseph as the head of the church. But Hyrum fell first, and he and his younger brother died martyrs.