On 12 November 1835, JS met with nine of the and counseled them to prepare for the to be held in the , when complete, and for the of divine power that had been promised in earlier revelations. The discourse he delivered that day, featured here, presented a more detailed description of the purposes for the House of the Lord and of the long-anticipated events that were to take place there.
Since the Twelve’s return to , Ohio, in late September 1835 from a mission to the eastern , JS had instructed them several times regarding the solemn assembly and the endowment of power they were to receive in the . On 5 October, he told them that they should “attend this fall the solemn assembly of the first for the organization of the , and attend to the of the and to prepare their hearts in all humility for an endowment with power from on high.” The apostles “all agreed with one accord” to follow this instruction. About a month later, JS dictated a revelation that chastised the Twelve for being insufficiently humble and reminded them “they must all humble themselves before Me, before they will be accounted worthy to receive an endowment to go forth in my name unto all nations.” The revelation encouraged the apostles to “repent speedily and prepare their hearts for the solem assembly and for the great day which is to come.” In the discourse featured here, JS continued to urge the Twelve to repent and prepare for the endowment of power, with the promise that “all who are prepared and are sufficiently pure to abide the presence of the Saviour will see him in the solem assembly.”
In this 12 November discourse, JS gave, perhaps for the first time, specific details and instruction on what was to occur at the solemn assembly. He called particular attention to the purification ritual of foot washing. While other contemporary religious denominations viewed foot washing as an act of humility or as preparatory to receiving , JS and the Latter-day Saints focused on purification, understanding the washing of feet as a ritual to liberate recipients from the sins of the world. In January 1833, at the formation of the School of the Prophets, JS formally received elders into the school by washing their feet. According to , JS performed the ritual, or the “washing of the deciples feet,” on each attendee of the inaugural class, following the precedent set by Jesus at the Last Supper. Performance of foot washing ceased, however, after the initial term of the school. As demonstrated in the discourse featured here, JS was preparing to reintroduce the practice in the . Three days after the dedication of the House of the Lord on 27 March 1836, the long-awaited solemn assembly was held, and it included the washing of the feet of priesthood officers.
JS’s meeting with the apostles began at six o’clock in the evening and opened with singing and prayer before JS’s discourse. Nine of the apostles attended, though which nine goes unspecified. Following JS’s remarks, “the brethren expressed their gratifycation for the instruction [he] had given them.”
Esplin, Ronald K. “The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841.” PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1981. Also available as The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841, Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2006).
Grow, Matthew J. “‘Clean from the Blood of This Generation’: The Washing of Feet and the Latter-day Saints.” In Archive of Restoration Culture Summer Fellows’ Papers, 2000– 2002, edited by Richard Lyman Bushman, 131–138. Provo, UT : Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, 2005.
great things that God is about to bring to pass; but there is on[e] great deficiency or obstruction, in the way that deprives us of the greater blessings, and in order to make the foundation of this complete and permanent, we must remove this obstruction, which is to attend to certain duties that we have not as yet attended to; I supposed I had established this church on a permanent foundation when I went to the and indeed I did so, for if I had been taken away it would have been enough, but I yet live, and therefore God requires more at my hands:— The item to which I wish the more particularly to call your attention to night is the of , this we have not done as yet but it is necessary now as much as it was in the days of the Saviour, and we must have a place prepared, that we may attend to this ordinance, aside from the world; we have not desired much from the hand of the Lord, with that faith and obediance that we ought, yet we have enjoyed great blessings, and we are not so sensible of this as we should be; When or wher has God suffered one of the witnesses or of this church <to> fall? never nor nowhere amidst all the calamities and judgments that have befallen the inhabitants of the earth his almighty arm has sustained us, men and Devils have raged and spent the malice in vain. [p. 32]