Minutes and Discourse, 1–5 October 1841

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MINUTES OF A CONFERENCE OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS, HELD IN , ILL., COMMENCING OCT. 1ST, 1841.
Friday, Oct. 1st. In consequence of the inclemency of the weather, the congregation were prevented from assembling, and conference, from business.
Saturday, 2nd, A. M. The conference assembled on the meeting ground; but as the Presidency were absent laying the corner stone of the , business was delayed, and the conference organised themselves in their several quorums in order. Br. opened divine service, and Br. closed. The conference then made choice of Br. Joseph Smith to Preside in conference, and appointed and as Secretaries.
P. M. Pres. Joseph Smith opened by calling on the choir to sing a Hymn—sung 18th Hymn. The President then read a letter from Br. giving an account of his journeys and success in [p. 576] his mission, which was listened to with intense interest; and the cenference, by vote, expressed their approbation of the style and spirit of said letter. The President then made remarks on the inclemency of the weather and the uncomfortable situation of the saints with regard to a place of worship, and a place of public entertainment.
The conference was then called upon by the President, to elect a general church Clerk in place of deceased. Conference made choice of . Br. then called upon the conference to elect a President of the High Priest’s quorum, in place of , deceased. Br. was nominated and duly elected.
Br. then presented to the notice of the conference, the business commenced at a late special conference, with regard to the appointment of suitable and faithful men to the several important stations of labor in this and other countries.
Br. then addressed the conference on the importance of order and uniformity of instruction, and, of a unanimity of effort to spread the work of the kingdom. Pres. Joseph Smith then made some corrections of doctrine in quoting a passage from 1 Cor. 12, 28, showing it to be a principle of order or gradation in rising from one office to another in the Priesthood.
Br. made remarks disapprobatory of the course pursued by some Elders, in withstanding the efforts of the Presidency to gather the saints, and in enticing them to stop in places not appointed for the gathering; particularly the conduct of Elder of . Brs. and having travelled in places where Br. had been in his journeying eastward from his visit to , testified that he had in many places taught doctrine contrary to the revelations of God and detrimental to the interest of the church.
Moved, seconded and carried that Elder be disfellowshiped by the conference as an Elder till such time as he shall make satisfaction.
Closed with singing by the choir, Hymn 124—and prayer by Br. .
Conference adjourned till to-morrow morning, 9 o’clock.
Sunday 3rd, A. M. Conference assembled and was called to order by , and divine service commenced by the choir singing Hymn 274 and prayer by Br. .
President Joseph Smith, by request of some of the Twelve, gave instructions on the doctrine of Baptism for the Dead; which was listened to with intense interest by the large assembly. The speaker presented “Baptism for the Dead” as the only way that men can appear as saviors on mount Zion. The proclamation of the first principles of the gospel was a means of salvatien to men individually, and it was the truth, not men that saved them; but men, by actively engaging in rites of salvation substitutionally, became instrumental in bringing multitudes of their kin into the kingdom of God. He explained a difference between an angel and a ministering spirit; the one a resurrected or translated body, with its spirit, ministering to embodied spirits—the other a disembodied spirit, visiting and ministering to disembodied spirits. Jesus Christ became a minestering spirit, while his body laying in the sepulchre, to the spirits in prison; to fulfil an important part of his mission, without which he could not have perfected his work or entered into his rest. After his resurrection, he appeared as an angel to his disciples &c. Translated bodies cannot enter into rest until they have undergone a change equivalent to death. Translated bodies are designed for future missions. The angel that appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos was a translated or resurrected body.— Jesus Christ went in body, after his resurrection, to minister to translated and resurrected bodies. There has been a chain of authority and power from Adam down to the present time. The only way to obtain truth and wisdom, is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer and obtain divine teaching. It is no more incredible that God should save the dead, than that he should raise the dead. There is never a time when the spirit is too old to approach God. All are within the reach of pardoning mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, which hath no forgiveness, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. There is a way to release the spirit of the dead; that is, by the power and authority of the Priest[h]ood—by binding and loosing on earth [p. 577]
This doctrine appears glorious, inasmuch as it exhibits the greatness of divine compassion and benevolence in the extent of the plan of human salvation. This glorious truth is well calculated to enlarge the understanding, and to sustain the soul under troubles, difficulties, and distresses.
For illustration the speaker presented, by supposition, the case of too men, brothers, equally intelligent, learned, virtuous and lovely, walking in uprightness and in all good conscience, so far as they had been able to discern duty from the muddy stream of tradition, or from the blotted page of the book of nature. One dies, and is buried, having never heard the gospel of reconciliation; to the other the message of salvation is sent, he hears and embraces it, and is made the heir of eternal life. Shall the one become a partaker of glory, and the other be consigned to hopeless perdition? Is there no chance for his escape? Sectarianism answers, “none! none!! none!!!” Such an idea is worse than atheism. The truth shall break down and dash in pieces all such bigoted Pharisaism; the sects shall be sifted, the honest in heart brought out and their priests left in the midst of their corruption. The speaker then answered the objections urged against the Latter Day Saints for not admitting the validity of sectarian baptism, and for withholding fellowship from sectarian churches[.] It was like putting new wine into old bottles and putting old wine into new bottles. What, new revelations in the old churches! New revelatiens knock out the bottom of their bottomless pit. New wine into old bottles!—the bottles burst and the wine runs out. What, Sadducees in the new church! Old wine in new leathern bottles will leak through the pores and escape; so the Saddacee saints mock at authority, kick out of the traces, and run to the mountains of perdition, leaving the long echo of their braying behind them.
The speaker then contrasted the charity of the sects, in denouncing all who disagree with them in opinion, and in joining in persecuting t[h]e saints, with the faith of the saints, who believe that even such may be saved in this world and in the world to come, (murderers and apostates excepted.)
This doctrine, he said, presented in a clear light, the wisdom and mercy of God, in preparing an ordinance for the salvation of the dead, being baptised by proxy, their names recorded in heaven, and they judged according to the deeds done in the body. This doctrine was the burden of the scriptures. Those saints who neglect it, in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation.
The dispensation of the fulness of times will bring to light the things that have been revealed in all former dispensations, also other things that have not been before revealed. He shall send Elijah the prophe[t] &c., and restore all things in Christ.
The speaker then announced, “There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the font of the and the church shall not hold another general conference, until they can meet in said . For thus saith the Lord!
Closed by prayer by Pres. —adjourned for one hour.
P. M. Conference opened by the choir singing Hymn 105, and prayer by Br. .
Br. addressed the Elders at some length, on the importance of teaching abroad the first principles of the gospel, leaving the mysteries of the kingdom to be taught among the saints.
Also, on the propriety of the Elders, many of them, remaining at home, and working on the ; and that their labors will be as acceptable to the Lord as their going abroad, and more profitable for the church—that those who go abroad must take a recommend from the proper authorities, without which they will not be fellowshiped—and that those who go and those who remain make consecrations more abundantly than heretofore.
Br. , followed with remarks of a similar purport; resigning his mission of gathering means for the buildings.
Br. called upon the conference to appoint a committee to petition Congress for redress of wrongs and injuries received in .
On Motion—, , and , were appointed said committee.
On Motion—Elder was appointed to present said petition at the city of .
Closed by the choir singing hymn 125 and prayer by Elder . [p. 578]
Monday 4th A. M. Conference opened by the choir singing hymn 183 and prayer by Bro. .
Pres’t. Joseph Smith made a lengthy exposition of the condition of the temporal affairs of the church, the agency of which had been committed to him at a general conference in —explaining the manner that he had discharged the duties involved in that agency, and the condition of the lands and other property of the church.
On Motion, resolved—That Elder be vested with power of attorney to go, settle, and if possible close a business concern left in an uncertain condition by Elder deceased.
Prayer by Bro. —Adjourned for one hour.
P. M. Conference opened by the choir singing hymn 88 and prayer by Elder .
Bro. spoke at some length on the subject introduced in the former part of the day, and on the old debts and obligations that are freqently brought up from and ; one of which, in the form of a $50 note, he held in his hand and proclaimed as his text.
On Motion, Voted viva voce unanime That the trustee in trust of church property here, be instructed not to appropriate church property to liquidate old claims that may be brought forward either from or .
Pres presented to the notice of conference some embarassment growing out of his signing as security, a certain obligation in in favor of Mr Eaton.
On motion, Voted that church property here shall not be appropriated to liquidate said claim.
Bro. made some appropriate and weighty remarks on the importance of more liberal consecrations and more energetic efforts to forward the work of building &c. After purchasing Bro. ’s text by paying him fifty cents, he tore it in pieces and gave it to the winds, saying “go ye and do likewise.” Choir sung hymn 104 and Pres’t. closed by prayer. Conference adjourned to meet tomorrow morning 9 o’clock.
Tuesday 5th A. M. Conference opened by the choir singing hymn 274 and prayer by Bro. .
Bro. , by request of Pres’t. Joseph Smith, presented and read to the conference a recent letter from Esq, one of the proprietors of the , in reference to some misunderstanding in the adjustment of their claims, and conciliatory of any hard feelings growing out of such misunderstanding.
Bro. spoke on the contents of the letter and express[e]d his earnest desire that that business might be speedily adjusted, and a proper title obtained by the church. Bro’s. and followed with appropriate remarks.
On motion, Voted that Pres’t. Joseph Smith write an answer to on the subject of his claim.
On Motion—by Pres’t. Joseph Smith—Voted that the Twelve write an epistle to the saints abroad to use their influence and exertions to secure, by exchange, purchase, donation &c., a title to the .
Bro. presented an appeal from the Elder’s Quorum against Elder charging him with a breach of the ordinances of the , and of the peace with falsehood and with scismatical conversation and behavior—signed by . After hearing suffic[i]ent testimony in his case.
On Motion Conference Voted that Elder be cut off from the church.
Closed by the choir singing 275 hymn, prayer by . Adjourned for one hour.
P. M. Conference opened by the choir singing hymn 104, and prayer by Bro. .
Bro. read to the conference, the minutes of a special conference held in the city of Aug. 16th 1841.
Pres’t. Joseph Smith made remarks explanatory of the importance of the resolutions and votes passed at that time.
On Motion, Voted, that this conference sanction the doings of said special conference.
Bro. proposed to the congregation, that those who would take laborers on the into their houses to board with them while thus laboring should manifest their willingness by ri [p. 579]sing and giving their names,—about sixty persons arose.
Conference closed by the choir singing Hymn 284 and prayer by Bro. .
Conference adjourned sine die.
Although conference commenced under discouraging circumstances owing to the inclemency of the weather, yet a vast number of brethren and visitors from abroad were present; and on Saturday and Sunday, the weather having become favorable, the congregation was immense. The graatest unanimity prevailed; business was conducted with the most perfect harmony and good feelings; and the assembly dispersed with new confidence in the great work of the Last Days.
JOSEPH SMITH, Pres’t.
,) clerks.
,)
[p. 580]