53991746

Minutes, 12 February 1834

Thursday Evening, February 12. 1834. This evening the high Priests

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. Christ and many ancient prophets, including Abraham, were described as being high priests. The Book of Mormon used the term high priest to denote one appointed to lead the church. However, the Book of Mormon also discussed...

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and Elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
of the Church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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at the house of bro. Joseph Smith Jun. in Council

A gathering of church leaders assembled “for consultation, deliberation and advice”; also a body responsible for governance or administration. As early as 9 February 1831, a revelation instructed that “the Elders & Bishop shall Council together & they shall...

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for Church business. The Council was organized, and opened by bro. Joseph Smith Junior in prayer. Bro. Joseph then rose and said: I shall now endeavour to set forth before this Council, the dignity of the office which has been conferred upon me by the ministering of the Angel of God, by his own voice and by the voice of this Church.1

JS was ordained and sustained as “President of the High Priesthood” in early 1832. He had previously been upheld by vote, or designated and accepted, as the “first Elder” in the church. In addition to referring to JS as an elder in the church, a revelation dated 6 April 1830—the day the church was organized—also identified him as a seer, translator, prophet, and apostle of Jesus Christ. In a brief history of his ministry written in the summer of 1832, JS referred to his receiving “the holy Priesthood by the ministring of— Aangels to adminster the letter of the Gospel” and the “confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God . . . in the administration and demonstration of the spirit the Kees of the Kingdom of God.” Later records, including a revelation published in 1835, identify John the Baptist; New Testament apostles Peter, James, and John; and other “divers angels, from Michael or Adam, down to the present time” as angels involved in restoring to the earth various “rights,” “keys,” “honors,” and priesthood powers. (Minutes, 26–27 Apr. 1832; Revelation, 6 Apr. 1830 [D&C 21:1]; JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 1; Revelation, ca. Aug. 1830, in Doctrine and Covenants 50:2–3, 1835 ed. [D&C 27:8–13]; JS to “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” 7 Sept. 1842 [D&C 128:20–21].)  


I have never set before any council in all the order in which a Council ought to be conducted, which, prehaps, has deprived the Councils of some, or many blessings.2

According to known records, earlier instructions about conducting meetings focused on faith, unity, and the importance of following the guidance of the Holy Ghost. (See, for example, Minutes, 11 Oct. 1831; Minutes, 25–26 Oct. 1831; and Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–A [D&C 46:2].)  


He said, that no man was capable of judging a matter in council without his own heart was pure; and that we frequently, are so filled with prejudice, or have a beam in our own eye,3

See Matthew 7:3–5.  


that we are not capable of passing right descissions, &c.
But to return to the subject of the order: In ancient days councils were conducted with such strict propriety, that no one was allowed to whisper, be weary, leave the room, or get uneasy in the least, until the voice of the Lord, by revelation, or by the voice of the Council by the spirit was obtained: which has not been [p. 27]
Thursday Evening, February 12. 1834. This evening the  high Priests

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. Christ and many ancient prophets, including Abraham, were described as being high priests. The Book of Mormon used the term high priest to denote one appointed to lead the church. However, the Book of Mormon also discussed...

View Glossary
and Elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
of the Church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
at the  house of bro. Joseph Smith Jun. in Council

A gathering of church leaders assembled “for consultation, deliberation and advice”; also a body responsible for governance or administration. As early as 9 February 1831, a revelation instructed that “the Elders & Bishop shall Council together & they shall...

View Glossary
for Church business.  The Council was opened organized, and opened by bro. Joseph Smith Ju[nior]  in prayer. Bro. Joseph then rose and said: I shall now endeavour to set  forth before this Council, the dignity of the office which has been confer red upon me by the ministering of the Angel of God, by his own voice  and by the voice of this Church.1

JS was ordained and sustained as “President of the High Priesthood” in early 1832. He had previously been upheld by vote, or designated and accepted, as the “first Elder” in the church. In addition to referring to JS as an elder in the church, a revelation dated 6 April 1830—the day the church was organized—also identified him as a seer, translator, prophet, and apostle of Jesus Christ. In a brief history of his ministry written in the summer of 1832, JS referred to his receiving “the holy Priesthood by the ministring of— Aangels to adminster the letter of the Gospel” and the “confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God . . . in the administration and demonstration of the spirit the Kees of the Kingdom of God.” Later records, including a revelation published in 1835, identify John the Baptist; New Testament apostles Peter, James, and John; and other “divers angels, from Michael or Adam, down to the present time” as angels involved in restoring to the earth various “rights,” “keys,” “honors,” and priesthood powers. (Minutes, 26–27 Apr. 1832; Revelation, 6 Apr. 1830 [D&C 21:1]; JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 1; Revelation, ca. Aug. 1830, in Doctrine and Covenants 50:2–3, 1835 ed. [D&C 27:8–13]; JS to “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” 7 Sept. 1842 [D&C 128:20–21].)  


I have never set before any council  in all the order in which a Council ought to be conducted, which,  prehaps, has deprived the Councils of some, or many blessings.2

According to known records, earlier instructions about conducting meetings focused on faith, unity, and the importance of following the guidance of the Holy Ghost. (See, for example, Minutes, 11 Oct. 1831; Minutes, 25–26 Oct. 1831; and Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–A [D&C 46:2].)  


He said, that no man was capable of judging a matter in cou ncil without his own heart was pure; and that we frequently, are  so filled with prejudice, or have a beam in our own eye,3

See Matthew 7:3–5.  


that  we are not capable of passing right descissions, &c.
But to return to the subject of the order: In ancient days  councils were conducted with such strict propriety, that no one  was allowed to whisper, be weary, leave the room, or get uneasy in  the least, until the voice of the Lord, by revelation, or by the  voice of the Council by the spirit was obtained: which has not been [p. 27]
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Following instructions outlined in the “Articles and Covenants” of the church, in June 1830 JS began conducting church business with other church officials in what were called “conferences

A meeting where ecclesiastical officers and other church members could conduct church business. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church directed the elders to hold conferences to perform “Church business.” The first of these conferences was held on 9 June...

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.” Over time, these fairly large gatherings were supplemented by smaller conferences, or “councils,” of priesthood

Power or authority of God. The priesthood was conferred through the laying on of hands upon adult male members of the church in good standing; no specialized training was required. Priesthood officers held responsibility for administering the sacrament of...

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holders and leaders.1 Those attending these meetings were instructed to seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost as they transacted the business at hand,2 and some felt they were successfully determining God’s will in the course of their deliberations.3 At a meeting held on 12 February 1834, however, JS expressed dissatisfaction with the way many attending the councils were conducting themselves. JS was particularly concerned about council members’ insufficient preparation and attentiveness during disciplinary hearings that had taken place in various councils in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio, over the preceding year.4
At this 12 February meeting JS also recounted some of the conditions and difficulties—including persecution and his own transgressions—he faced at the time he obtained and translated

To produce a text from one written in another language; in JS’s usage, most often through divine means. JS considered the ability to translate to be a gift of the spirit, like the gift of interpreting tongues. He recounted that he translated “reformed Egyptian...

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the Book of Mormon. The council then judged two cases. One case involved Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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, who was charged with telling Alpheus C. Russell

7 Apr. 1795–21 Oct. 1861. Farmer, teacher, justice of the peace. Born in Middlefield, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Alpheus Russell and Rebekah Clark. Married Elizabeth Conant, 28 May 1818, in Becket, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Congregationalist...

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“that Joseph drank too much liquor when he was translating the Book of Mormon” and that JS “wrestled with many men and threw them.” Harris was also charged with saying that he knew the contents of the Book of Mormon before it was translated, whereas JS did not. Harris’s conversation with Russell, who lived in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
, probably took place after 23 March 1833, as Harris had not returned to Kirtland from a proselytizing mission by that date.5

On 23 March 1833, Sylvester Smith and Harpin Riggs were assigned to “journey eastward to Palmyra and find Martin Harris.” Harris spent at least part of this mission preaching with his brother Emer Harris. (Minutes, 23 Mar. 1833–B; Emer Harris, Springville, PA, to “Dearly Beloved Brethren,” Brownhelm, OH, 7 May 1833, Harris Family Papers, BYU.)  


After passing judgment on Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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’s case, the council considered charges against “Bro Rich”—probably Leonard Rich

1800–1868. Farmer. Born in New York. Married first Keziah. Lived at Warsaw, Genesee Co., New York, 1830. Participated in Camp of Israel expedition to Missouri, 1834. Served as a president of First Quorum of the Seventy, 1835–1837. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga...

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—who was accused of disobeying the Word of Wisdom and selling JS’s revelations at an “extortionary” price. Rich appears to have been the first person formally charged with disobeying the Word of Wisdom, several facets of which had been in question since JS dictated it a year earlier.6

See Revelation, 27 Feb. 1833 [D&C 89].  


In what way Rich disobeyed the Word of Wisdom is unclear, and the second charge against Rich is also somewhat ambiguous as it is not clear which revelations Rich was selling. In 1833, the Book of Commandments—a compilation of JS revelations—had been printed in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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, some pages of which survived the mobbing of the print office

JS revelations, dated 20 July and 1 Aug. 1831, directed establishment of LDS church’s first printing office in Independence, Missouri. Dedicated by Bishop Edward Partridge, 29 May 1832. Located on Lot 76, on Liberty Street just south of courthouse square....

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and were later bound into books and sold by John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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for twenty-five cents each.7

Whitmer, Daybook, 6 and 13 July 1834; 3 and 12 Aug. 1834; 16 Sept. 1834.  


Rich may have been selling copies of the Book of Commandments at higher prices, or he may have been selling copies of revelations that he had personally made before going east. Another possibility is that Rich was selling copies of a revelation dated 16–17 December 1833 that the Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
printing office

Following destruction of church printing office in Independence, Missouri, July 1833, JS and other church leaders determined to set up new printing office in Kirtland under firm name F. G. Williams & Co. Oliver Cowdery purchased new printing press in New ...

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had printed as a broadsheet.8

See Historical Introduction to Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101].  


According to Eber D. Howe

9 June 1798–10 Nov. 1885. Newspaper editor and publisher, farmer, wool manufacturer. Born at Clifton Park, Saratoga Co., New York. Son of Samuel William Howe and Mabel Dudley. Moved with family to Ovid, Seneca Co., New York, 1804. Located at Niagara District...

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’s 1834 statement, after this broadsheet was printed, “it was taken up by all their priests

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. In the Book of Mormon, priests were described as those who baptized, administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church,” and taught “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” A June 1829 revelation directed...

View Glossary
and carried to all their congregations, some of which were actually sold for one dollar per copy.”9

Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 155.  


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