(Click on the image below to enlarge a map of the LDS settlements in the Kirtland area. Then right-click to save it and print it, if you are interested in doing so.)
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Before class begins, hand out placards with Parley P. Pratt, Officer Peabody, Judge, and Ziba Petersen printed on them to four class members who would be willing to act in a skit. Also give them copies of the script to quickly read through.
Kirtland Timeline Game
Make large cards with the years of the Kirtland Era (below) on them, and print up separately the major events that took place in Kirtland. Distribute all to class members. Have those with the year cards come up front. Have those with events read the events (in any order) and have the class try to match up the right events to each year. Put them all on the board after they are correctly matched.
Gospel first preached in Kirtland
(Note: The missionaries were Olivery Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Parley P. Pratt & Ziba Peterson. Among the first converts were Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge & Frederick G. Williams.)
Joseph Smith moves to Kirtland
The first bishop is called (Edward Partridge)
The Law of the Church revealed (D&C 41)
Vision of the 3 Degrees of Glory (D&C 76)
Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood (D&C 84)
School of the Prophets begun
Word of Wisdom revealed (D&C 89)
First Presidency Organized
Zion’s Camp leaves Kirtland to aid Missouri Saints
Quorum of Twelve organized
Quorum of Seventy organized
Kirtland Temple Dedicated (D&C 109) and priesthood keys restored
Heber C. Kimball called to lead the new British Mission
Parley P. Pratt
“Parley’s Creative Preaching” Skit
Characters: Parley P. Pratt, a missionary; Ziba Petersen, his companion; Officer Peabody, and a Judge
(Parley and Brother Petersen stand as if preaching to the audience, Parley holding a Book of Mormon.)
Parley: (to class) While doing missionary work 50 miles from Kirtland, my companions and I stopped for the night at the house of Simeon Carter. While we were reading and explaining the Book of Mormon to him, there came a knock at the door.
Officer Peabody: (Knocks at the door loudly, then enters the classroom) Mr. Pratt! Here is a warrant for your arrest. You must come with me.
Parley: (to class) I dropped the Book of Mormon at Carter’s house, and went with him some two miles, in a dark, muddy road until we arrived at the place of trial late at night. Brother Petersen accompanied me.
(All three mime walking.)
Judge: Mr. Pratt! I intend to throw you in jail. I want to see if you really have the powers of apostleship as you claim! I have witnesses here who will help me to prove you guilty of a crime and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Parley: (to class) Well, I wasn’t an apostle, just an elder, but because the judge was boasting thus, and the witnesses were liars, I stayed quiet and made no defense.
Judge: Mr. Pratt! Do you hear these charges? Why do you not make a defense? Well, I am ordering you to prison, or to pay a large fine.
Parley: (to class) I wouldn’t reply. This greatly exhausted their patience. Finally, about midnight, I asked Brother Petersen to sing a hymn.
Ziba: (singing, or doing something similar to singing)
O, how happy are they
Who the Savior obey
And have laid up their treasure above!
Tongue can never express
The sweet comfort and peace
Of a soul in its earliest love.
O, the rapturous height
Of that holy delight
Which I felt in the life-giving blood!
By my Savior possessed.
I was perfect, bless’d
As if filled with the fullness of God.*
Parley: (to class) This exasperated them still more, and they pressed us greatly to settle the business by paying the money. I then observed as follows (speaking to judge), May it please the court, I have one proposal to make for a final settlement of the things that seem to trouble you. It is this: if the witnesses who have given testimony in the case will repent of their false swearing, and the blackguardism and abuse, and all kneel down together, we will pray for you, that God might forgive you in these matters.
Judge: My big bull dog [would better] pray for me [than you]!
Parley: (to class) The court adjourned and I was taken to a nearby pub and locked in till morning as the prison was some miles distant. In the morning, the officer appeared and took me to breakfast. Then we waited for my journey to prison. I whispered to Brother Petersen to join the other elders and continue on their way, and I would join them later.
Parley: (to class) After waiting a while, I requested of the officer that I might step outside. I walked out into the public square accompanied by him. Said I (speaking to Officer Peabody), Mr. Peabody, are you good at a race?
Officer Peabody: No, but my big bull dog is! (Pats imaginary dog) And he has been trained to assist me in my office these several years. He will take any man down at my bidding.
Parley: (cheerfully) Well, Mr. Peabody, you compelled me to go a mile; I have gone with you two miles. You have given me an opportunity to preach, sing, and have also entertained me with lodging and breakfast. I must now go on my journey. If you are good at a race you can accompany me. I thank you for all your kindness. Good day, sir. (Runs across the classroom, while Officer Peabody stares with mouth wide open.)
Parley: (stopping and turning to Officer Peabody) Wouldn’t you like to race with me, officer?
(Peabody still stares, frozen, while Parley mimes running.)
Parley: (to class) He did not awake from his astonishment sufficiently to start in pursuit till I had gained, perhaps, two hundred yards. I had already leaped a fence, and was making my way through a field to the forest on the right of the road.
Officer Peabody: (Suddenly coming to senses. Pointing and ordering imaginary dog) Ho! Stu-Boy, seize him! Take him down! (Running after Parley and pointing) Stu-Boy, lay hold of him, I say! Down with him!
Parley: (to audience) The dog was fast overtaking me, and in the act of leaping upon me, when, quick as lightning, the thought struck me to assist the officer in sending the dog. I pointed my finger in the direction of the forest, clapped my hands and shouted, Stu-Boy! Take him down! Get him, Boy! The dog hastened past me with redoubled speed towards the forest, being urged by the officer and myself, and both of us running in the same direction. I soon lost sight of the officer and the dog and have not seen them since.
Parley: The officer kept the Book of Mormon I had dropped at the house of Simeon Carter and read it with attention. It wrought deeply upon his mind, and he went 50 miles to the church in Kirtland, and was there baptized and ordained an elder. He then returned to his home and commenced to preach and baptize. A branch of about sixty members was soon organized in the place where I had played such a trick on a dog.
*O, How Happy Are They, by Charles Wesley, first and last verses
(This script adapted from Parley P. Pratt’s autobiography, with most of the words direct quotes.)
Principles and methods used in early missionary work, besides Elder Pratt's entertaining dog-evasion, included:
1) Teaching strictly the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith's revelations and the principles of the Gospel contained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. From these foundations, however, the elders were free to teach "as they shall be directed by the Spirit." (History of the Church 1:148-54) We have just returned to this method with our new Preach My Gospel method.
2) Preaching to large groups. This was a popular form of entertainment among the people of the time. "With no trouble raising an audience, an interesting or inspiring preacher could smartly influence public opinion and sell his spiritual wares with considerable skill." Usually a preacher spoke for at least an hour, often two. Ask any prospective missionary if he'd like to try this one out!
3) Publishing periodicals. "Virtually nonexistent in 1800...religious periodicals had, by 1830, become the grand engine of a burgeoning religious culture, the primary means of promotion for, and bonds within, competing religious groups"..."Joseph Smith's revelations appeared in Mormon periodicals before publication in book form." The newspapers at this time were The Evening and the Morning Star (Independence), The Messenger and Advocate (Kirtland), and The Elder's Journal (Far West). Adding to our printed periodicals today, we have the worldwide reach of the internet, television and radio.
4) Debates with other clergy. Almost every missionary journal of the day recorded confrontations with other ministers. Thankfully, we no longer do this, since it is ineffective and stifles the Spirit. Now we focus on our similarities in belief and then offer to add to it, as President Hinckley frequently advised.
5) Focusing on the basic principles and ordinances of the gospel and challenging investigators to commit to try them. Elders boldly preached the first principles or "'five points' as some called them: faith in Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, receiving the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, and then living a life of devout obedience to divine commandments, reinforced by challenging their listeners to 'prove all things'" through personal revelation and acting in faith.
(This information from Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 9, 12, 17-18, 24, 26 respectively)
Revelations Received in Kirtland
How many of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants were received in the Kirtland area? (The answer is 37, or approximately 25% of the sections.) In addition, most of the Joseph Smith Translation was done during this era.
If you like, have class members look refer to the chronology table in the front of the Doctrine and Covenants to see which sections were revealed here, then look at the section headings to itemize doctrines of importance that were revealed here. These will include the Law of Tithing, the Law of Consecration, The Kingdoms of Glory, the Word of Wisdom, Revelations on the Second Coming, Priesthood, and many more.
(Click on the image below to enlarge a map of the LDS settlements in the Kirtland area. Then right-click to save it and print it, if you are interested in doing so.)
(Click on the image below to enlarge a map of the LDS settlements in the Kirtland area. Then right-click to save it and print it, if you are interested in doing so.)
Ask class members for reasons why they are grateful to be members of the Church.
Ask, which of these things would be possible without priesthood? The answer, of course, is none.
Today we discuss the oath and covenant of the priesthood and the principles for exercising priesthood power. Why is this lesson given in Sunday School and not Priesthood Meeting? Because it is applicable to both men and women – men as active priesthood holders, responsible for the administration of ordinances and governance of the Church; women in a passive priesthood role, all of their good works being done through the power of godliness, or the priesthood. The roles are different, but all are members of the same team. Therefore all the principles for exercise of the priesthood must also be applied by women as they carry out their roles as family members, teachers, and sisters in Zion.
Order of the Restoration of the Priesthood and its Offices
Bill Beardall’s excellent "Gospel Doctrine Class" website (which saved me many times many years ago when I began teaching) has great detail on this so I won't add anything here.
The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood
Elder Carlos E. Asay: “Of all the holy agreements pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ, few, if any, would transcend in importance the oath and covenant of the priesthood." (General Conference, Oct. 1985)
For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.
But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.
And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.
And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.
Principles for Using the Priesthood Using The Example of John Murdock
(All page references are to John Murdock: His Life and Legacy, by S. Reed Murdock.)
I enjoy hearing about some of the unsung heroes of the Restoration. Although most of us know that Joseph and Emma Smith adopted twin babies whose mother had died, very few of us know much about their birth father, what he did, how he felt, whether he was faithful. I felt sympathetic enough toward him to read his biography, and found his life very inspiring. From his journals, I find an example of a man who, through troubles and trials, magnified his priesthood.
D&C 84:45-48: For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.
Brother Murdock searched for and recognized the true Church:
Through considerable religious exploration, John had developed some essential points to which a religion must subscribe: First, Baptism must be by immersion and a proper candidate for baptism must be one who has faith that Jesus Christ died for our sins—therefore infant baptism was not proper; second, because current churches had lost all authority, “the Lord must either send an angel to baptize the first man, or he must give special command to some one man to baptize another;” third, the Holy Spirit must attend the “ministration” of the ordinances. (JMLL pg. 54)
“I read [the Book of Mormon] till it was late and went into father Morley’s chamber to bed and had not been long in bed, before [the family] returned [from a meeting confirming new members], and some half dozen or more came into the same house, and as soon as they came into the house, although I was in bed…the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, witnessing to me the truth of the work.” (JMLL pg. 58)
John and his wife (Julia Clapp) had three small children, and had endured the death of an infant, when their twins were born and his wife died.
Late in his life, John revealed his real feelings in a letter to his daughter Julia: “The anguish of soul that I felt at this time you may try to imagine. I was bereft of a tender companion, a feeling mother, a good housekeeper and one that I love and yet love the memory of her.” John’s letter describes that the twins were born without any “great agony or pain to the mother” and all appeared to be in order when Julia called for John and told him she was going. She shook hands with John and all in the room and then quietly died. “She took me by the hand and bid me farewell and also all in the room and folded her arms acrost her breast peacably and sweetly went to sleep in Jesus in hope of a glorius resurrection.” (JMLL pg. 68)Of necessity, children in such situations in those days were often placed in other families since there was no such thing as daycare. The newborns, of course, needed a lactating mother. So the twins were placed with the Smiths, and Orrice, 7, John R., 5, and Phebe, 3 with other families. Brother Murdock paid for their keep as he left on the mission he was called to in D&C 52.
D&C 84:65-68 “And these signs shall follow them that believe— In my name they shall do many wonderful works; In my name they shall cast out devils; In my name they shall heal the sick.”
John Murdock and Parley P. Pratt were mission companions.
After Parley and John left St. Louis, they experienced sore trials. Parley was so sick he could not go on; he lay down in the prairie. John spoke to Parley: "I said Bro. P. Can you travel any further, said ‘he could not.’ I asked ‘Do you believe the Son will heal you. He said the Son would heal him according to his Faith but my faith is small. I said do you want me to lay hands on you. He said, ‘yes.’ I fell on my knees and with many tears laid my hands on him in the name of the Lord Jesus, and prayed for him and we both arose and traveled and gave glory to God for his goodness and Bro. P. gained health and strength from that time.” (JMLL pg. 87)
While on the mission, baby Joseph died. Between missions Brother Murdock boarded (probably) with one of the families keeping his children. He also boarded with the Smiths (who had Julia, not yet 2) for a short time, while attending the School of the Prophets. He did not reveal his identity to Julia. She was not told until she was 5 that she was adopted.
D&C 99:6-7: And now, verily I say unto you, that it is not expedient that you should go until your children are provided for, and sent up kindly unto the bishop of Zion. And after a few years, if thou desirest of me, thou mayest go up also unto the goodly land, to possess thine inheritance; Otherwise thou shalt continue proclaiming my gospel until thou be taken. Amen.
He was called on another mission, but first “kindly placed” his children.
March 18, 1833
D&C 107:18-19: The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church— 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 Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.
Brother Murdock was privileged to see a vision of the Heavens while at the School of the Prophets. “We had a number of prayer meetings in the Prophet’s chamber, in which we obtained great blessings. In one of these meetings the Prophet told us if we cold humble ourselves before God, and exercise strong faith, we should see the face of the Lord. And about midday the visions of my mind were opened, and the eyes of my understanding were enlightened, and I saw the form of a man, most lovely, the visage of his face was sound and fair as the sun. His hair a great silver grey, curled in most majestic form. His eyes a keen penetrating blue, and the skin of his neck a most beautiful white and he was covered from the neck to the feel with a loose garment, pure white, whiter than any garment I have ever before seen. His countenance was most penetrating, and yet most lovely. And while I was endeavoring to comprehend the whole personage from head to feet it slipped from me and the vision was closed up. But it left on my mind the impression of love for months, that I never felt before to the degree.” (JMLL, pgs. 96-97)
Brother Murdock paid a church member $10 each to deliver his children to Bishop Partridge in Zion, who placed each in a different home.
D&C 107:30-31: 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; Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord.
While on his second mission, Brother Murdock had to stand for what was right and correct a priesthood leader, Ezra Landon.
“Landon was invited to meet with four of the high priests privately [concerning the Vision of the Heavens]. The meeting was commenced with prayer. Orson Pratt opened the conference, by stating that Brother Landon had said, “The vision was of the Devil.” Landon responded by saying that he would not have the revelation taught in the church “for one thousand dollars.” Landon then rose and stressed the sacrifices he had made for the church and the good he had done for the cause. John reminded Brother Landon that there were many who had similarly sacrificed including Ezra Booth, who had suffered privations and hardship, traveled to Missouri and had afterward denied the revelations. Brother Landon was encouraged to repent: “Bro. Orson led in explanation of the vision…Myself and Bro. Lyman followed….Bro. Landen confessed that he had talked hard to the brethren, asked them for forgiveness, said that he heartily received all that he taught and would teach it to the church, and said he would not for two thousand dollars be set back where he was when we came to him. We allowed him to stand in his office and a good portion of the church met that afternoon and we taught the same things to the church….”
John Murdock joined with Zion’s Camp from the mission field. Upon arriving in Jackson County, cholera broke out among the camp. The members in the two homes nearest the camps took in the sick, although the disease was extremely contagious. One of those homes was Sidney Gilbert’s. Sidney Gilbert was one of the few men in the Church older than John Murdock, Sidney being 43 and John 40. Sidney and his wife were childless, but had taken in three children: Mary Elizabeth and Catherine Rollins, their nieces, the same girls who saved the Book of Commandments. The other child was John’s own little girl, Phebe, now 6. Both Sidney and Phebe got the disease, and Phebe died. Fortunately, her father was there to sit with her through the end.
John Murdock took to Phebe and attended her night and day for the next six days until early morning on July 6th: “when the Spirit left the body at the break of day…Two young brethren namely Reid Peck & Henry C. Rawlings assisted me and we buried her by little after sun rise in the morning. She was decently laid out, and they dug a grace and we laid 2 split shakes in the bottom and each size and laid in some straw, and laid the corpse on it, laid to sticks across and covered it over, and that was her coffin.” Phebe was 6 years old. (JMLL pg. 126) She was buried quickly at night to avoid alarm among the Clay County citizens.
John remarried (Amoranda Turner) and gathered his two boys home again. They had been so lovingly cared for, John in particular, that they didn’t really want to leave the homes they had been placed in for the past several years. Orrice was 12; John was 10. Amoranda died after only 1 year of marriage.
Remarried (Electa Allen). Three more children, two boys, Gideon and Hyrum, and a baby girl who died.
D&C 121:45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
John Murdock’s courage and peaceable demeaner ended a confrontation with a mob near Adam-Ondi-Ahman.
“…when we were there [at Adam-Ondi-Ahman] 3 men, armed with rifles, came on horseback into the road forward of us, and cocked their rifles…the forward one whose name was Elijah Frost, cried out ‘Damn you who are you and where are you going?’ Said I ‘Who are you and where are you going?’ And I discovered they were Ruffians and as there was three of them and two of us, I thought we would not give up so easy and put my hand to my pistol, but at the same time discovered more of the same company, coming over the ridge. I did not draw my pistol, and they soon were all round the wagon, and I felt very safe, for the Lord took all fear from me. …I said to them ‘gentlemen show me two men among you that shall be traveling the road peaceably on their own business as we were doing, and let them be attacked by 3 ruffians, as we supposed we were and if they will not defend themselves, I will show you two cowards and scoundrels’…I asked him if we could pass peaceable without being ill treated. He said we should. I told him our brethren had the same promise in Jackson Co. and then were driven out the next day at the point of the sword and bayonet. They then with one consent cried out ‘Damn you’ and cocked their rifles…I surrendered my pistol and Bro. Rufus his rifle and Frost wished us well & wanted to shake hands with me. I did so, and told him before he could do well, he must repent…”
D&C 84:76: But, verily I say unto all those to whom the kingdom has been given—from you it must be preached unto them, that they shall repent of their former evil works; for they are to be upbraided for their evil hearts of unbelief, and your brethren in Zion for their rebellion against you at the time I sent you.
"...They again cried out ‘damn you’ we do not repent, again cocked their rifles, but after a little uncocked them, and I said to them gentlemen if you are done with me, and have no further business with me, I want you to open up right and left, and give me room to drive for I will neither drive through you, or around you. And they opened up right and left and I drove off on a walk…”
John endured the death of his third wife!
Remarried (Sarah Zufelt) and adopted her little boy, George. Called as Bishop in Nauvoo.
September 19, 1846
While at Winter Quarters, little 2-year-old Hyrum died and was buried in a cottonwood log for a coffin. The Murdocks took in 2 little orphan girls whose parents also had died there.
John R. and Orrice both joined the Mormon Battalion. Rest of the family traveled to Salt Lake Valley in the 2nd wagon train, 6-year-old Gideon driving the family’s second wagon the entire way. (This same little boy was assigned to stand guard against Indians in Utah when he was 13, armed with a very heavily loaded musket. He said, “I did not know which I was most afraid of: the gun or the Indians.” Pg. 324) 19 wards were established upon arrival at the Valley; John was Bishop of the 14th.
As John R. and Orrice both married, John & his fourth wife Sarah had a new baby, Brigham Young Murdock. This numbered 13 children for John: 10 biological, two adopted (Sarah’s George and a little girl named Mary Cooper) and one foster child (Martha Henderson). Orrice, John, Julia-now-Smith, Gideon, and George are the only ones known to survive childhood. George only lived to be 35.
D&C 84:33: For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
On February 20, 1835 he had received his Patriarchal Blessing at the hands of Joseph Smith, Sr. “…thy Children shall be blessed of the Lord, and the Holy Priesthood, after the holy order of God shall be established with thy children, and thy children’s children unto the end of the earth…thou shalt have power to bring souls unto Jesus, by proclaiming the gospel till the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, in power and glory…” (JMLL pg. 135)
John Murdock magnified his callings outlined in the blessing. He always desired to be a missionary and requested a call to serve once again before he was too old and infirm (he’d had bad health his whole adult life). He was called as one of the first full-time missionaries to Australia, and president of the mission there. His Letter of Recommendation from Brigham Young reads: “We invite all saints & honorable men of the earth to receive this our beloved brother as a servant of the living God—listen to his counsel & believe & practice his words & inasmuch as you do these things ministering to his temporal necessities with joyful hearts, you shall be blessed in time & in eternity.”
A month after his return, he was called as a patriarch, in which capacity he served for 13 years.
He tried to live polygamy, but the 2nd wife hated being in their household and would never move in, although she would come over and help. After 2-1/2 years, the marriage was dissolved. John never stated any animosity whatsoever toward this wife.
Reunited through letter with Julia. After all those years, what did John relate to her? His conversion story and testimony of the gospel, as well as his reason for placing her with the Smiths (none of his family were members).
John Murdock died at age 79, two days before Christmas. “John’s life became the gospel of Jesus Christ and if there were a single word to capture the core of his relationship to the gospel, it would be ‘constant.’ From start to finish, John stayed true to the faith, he persevered to the end of his mortal ability to do so." (JMLL pg. 329). Hundreds of thousands of members of the Church are the result of his missionary labors.
In the posterity of John Murdock, we see the blessing fulfilled which the Lord promised to those who honor their priesthood.
Very few details are available about his three adopted/foster children, and Julia, of course, left the church with her mother Emma Smith, but his three biological sons were great contributors to the building of the Kingdom. Besides serving in the Mormon Battalion, John R. helped rescue the Martin and Willie handcart companies and became a great philanthropist when he became wealthy. Orrice and John R. both sheltered and raised others’ children during times of trial, as had been done for them. They shared a great brotherhood their entire lives. When John R. died at age 87, Orrice, then 89, held his hand in his casket, with tears running down his face. He died within two years.
The younger son, Gideon, who was only six when his brothers joined the Mormon Battalion, became a bishop and a sheriff and a temple worker. He was well-known for his lengthy prayers. “When Uncle Gideon would come for dinner, the hostess would not put the potatoes on to cook until it was time for Gideon to say the blessing on the food. When Gideon was through with the blessing, the potatoes would be done as well.”
These three sons stood by their father and helped him all his life, taking him into their homes in his old age. On the day of his death, Orrice wrote in his journal, “My father departed this life. He had born the heat and burden of the day. He has gone to reap the reward of a righteous man.” May we keep the oath and covenant of the Priesthood, and bear the heat and burden of the day to remain constant to the Gospel cause as did John Murdock.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Our lesson today is on PERSONAL APOSTASY. Of course, by studying this, we are also going to learn the opposite, which is even more useful: HOW TO ENDURE FAITHFULLY TO THE END.
In June of 1831, a church conference was held in Kirtland, Ohio. Just prior to that conference, Section 50 of the D&C was given. The reason this revelation was given is stated right in the beginning. First, verse one tells us that the brethren had asked for guidance from the Lord in discerning spiritual manifestations.
“Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world. And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you.” (D&C 50:2-3)
Why is Satan so interested in deceiving us?
“And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind…” (2 Nephi 2:18)
“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life through the great mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:27)
The revelation of May 1831 told the brethren how to choose:
“And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”
This counsel is very important in preventing apostasy, today as well as in the 1830s. It was prophecied that Satan would deceive the very elect if possible, and he did. Within two years after the marvelous spiritual manifestations occurred in relation to the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, all of the Three Witnesses, three of the Eight Witnesses, and one-third of the General Authorities, including three Apostles, left the Church. Interestingly, apostasy was more prevalent among the leadership than among the “average” members. As near as can be determined, 87 percent of the Kirtland Saints continued in the faith, including most of those who lost a lot of money due to stock held in the Church bank, the Kirtland Safety Society. (Milton V. Backman, Jr., Ensign, April 1989, p. 30)
We can hopefully learn from the errors of the early church apostates, and avoid some of these problems ourselves. (Double-click on the chart to enlarge it.)
Our inner attitudes are very important when it comes to following the guidance of the Spirit, our leaders and the doctrine that we know. Wrong attitudes can keep us from truth and freedom, and can deceive us as surely as if we were blindfolded. All of these wrong attitudes are based upon pride. A study of how some of the early Saints were deceived can help us see how we can avoid those same pitfalls. (Just choose some of them.) (Information is from Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, unless otherwise noted.)
Thomas B. Marsh. The cream incident with his wife… A mountain out of a molehill. He declared that he would “sustain the character of his wife if he had to go to hell to do it.” President Gordon B. Hinckley said of this incident: “What a very small and trivial thing—a little cream over which two women quarreled. But it led to, or at least was a factor in, Governor Bogg’s cruel exterminating order…”
Joseph Wakefield. In obedience to the revelation, went on a mission with Parley P. Pratt, wherein they “visited the several branches of the Church, rebuking the wrong spirits which had crept in among them, setting in order things that were wanting…” (PPP, quoted in WW p. 324) Joseph baptized George A. Smith, who later became an apostle. George A. Smith was very distressed when his missionary joined with Mormon apostates in criticizing and tormenting Joseph Smith. The reason? Joseph Smith played with the children immediately after translating. “This convinced him that the Prophet was not a man of God, and that the work was false, which, to me and hundreds of others, he had testified that he knew came from God.” (George A. Smith Autobiography, quoted in WW, p. 324)
Frazier Eaton. (Not mentioned in D&C) He had given $700 to the building of the Kirtland Temple, but he arrived late to the dedication and couldn’t get in because every seat was taken. He dedication was being repeated the following day for those who couldn’t get in the first day, but Brother Eaton thought that he should get in on Day One, and so he apostatized. (George A Smith, Journal of Discourses.)
Oliver Cowdery. Oliver Cowdrey was with Joseph from the very first. He received the Priesthood with him, was baptized with him, saw great and glorious visions with him, and received the keys of the Priesthood with him from Elijah, Elias, and Moses. Pride in his education, however, led to his downfall. He commanded Joseph Smith in the name of God to change the words of D&C 20:37. He also said that he told the Church leaders about his land in Jackson County, “…while I lived and was sane, I would not be dictated, influenced, or controlled, by any man or any set of men by no tribunal of ecclesiastical practices whatever.” At the encouragement of Brigham Young, 11 years after leaving the Church, he finally returned.
William Carter. Also called on a mission in D&C 52 although he was blind. He refused to go and his priesthood was taken from him. His uncle tried to bring him back to the faith and immediately afterwards wrote the conversation: “He said he was convinced that it was the work of the Lord but he did not as yet feel prepared to obey the work…I…felt with my own soul as though his situation was very dangerous for he had some time grieved the Spirit by his disobedience and I having a sense felt to cry mightily to my Heavenly Father for him. I, at length, felt the power of prophecy to him and expressed to him that this was the very day he would obey the commends if ever…Soon after this, he knelt down with me and entreated the Lord to have mercy on him.” He did help to build the Kirtland Temple, but there is not any information about him after that to show whether he stayed faithful. Since there isn’t any information, I think it’s unlikely; Mormons keep much better records than apostates.
John Whitmer. For many years, John Whitmer was a stalwart in the Church. He was a scribe, a historian, and a member of the First Presidency, as well as one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. At one time in Jackson County, he offered himself as a ransom to the mob to prevent further violence. He purchased land in Far West for the saints, but there were some allegations about how he handled the finances. He was angered when asked to account for his use of Church funds, and declined to disclose the records. He was excommunicated. To quote Susan Black, “John remained in Missouri during the atrocities arising from the Extermination Order of 1838, free from persecution because [he was no longer a Mormon]. When the Saints fled from their homes and property in Far West, he returned and took advantage of cheap prices for land…” He lived there the rest of his life.
Jared Carter. The uncle of William Carter. D&C 79:2 says, “I will send upon him the Comforter, which shall teach him the truth and the way wither he shall go.” Although Jared Carter was a great missionary for a time, later he wavered back and forth in church activity, joining the Danites, conspiring against the Prophet, and not following counsel. He repented and promised faithfulness, but did not keep the promise. When the saints went west, he stayed behind.
Selah Griffin. He lost a lot of property to the mobs in both Jackson County and in Caldwell County. To quote Susan Black, “Angered by the governmental affront and by the persecution he had suffered for his religious conviction, Selah weighed the cost and concluded that the price of faithfulness was too great.” He gave up Church Activity for an easier life.
Outer Deceptions vs. True Outer Guide. Hiram Page was one of the 8 witnesses to the Book of Mormon. He joined the church in 1830, and shortly thereafter found a stone five by three inches, and one-half inch thick with two holes in it. He thought he received some revelations by looking through the stone. These included the location of the “New Jerusalem” and the proper governing process of the Church. Newel Knight said, “He had quite a roll of papers full of these revelations, and many in the Church were led astray by them…although they were in contradiction to the New Testament and the revelations of these last days. [The Prophet] Joseph Smith was perplexed and scarcely knew how to meet this new exigency. That night I occupied the same room that he did, and the greater part of the night was spent in prayer and supplication.” As a result, D&C 28 was received, which states that only the prophet has the keys to revelation for the entire church. In that revelation, Oliver Cowdery (one of those who had been deceived) was told to advise Hiram that the source of his revelations was false. Hiram Page and those who had followed him took that counsel and renounced the stone and its revelations. Elder Knight commented on the situation that “…it was wonderful to witness the wisdom that Joseph displayed on this occasion, for truly God gave unto him great wisdom and power, and it seems to me that none who saw him administer righteousness under such trying circumstances could doubt that the Lord was with him. He acted not with the wisdom of man, but with the wisdom of God.” How could it be that these people all believed Joseph’s revelations over Hiram’s revelations with no more than Joseph’s word about it?
Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit if truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together. (D&C 50:21-22)
The reason they believed it was because they had more than Joseph’s word, they had the manifestation of the Holy Ghost to go with it. With the revelation, Brother Knight said, “The Holy Ghost came upon us and filled our hearts with unspeakable joy.” (Andrus, They Knew the Prophey, quoted in LDH, p. 65)
What outer guides do you see in our world today that might deceive us if we are not careful? (Class ideas.) Do you agree that the outer guides to truth are the same for us today as they were in 1831?
The Holy Ghost is truly the most powerful of the guides available to us, and testifies of the truth of the others. It’s like the final word and it can be trusted. It is vital that we learn to hear and understand the Holy Ghost.
At the conference in 1831, the following month, a pattern was given for discerning whether a man was speaking the word of God or not, in D&C 52:14-18. In that same revelation with this advice, 34 men were called as missionaries. Do you ever wonder who all these people are who are mentioned in the D&C, and whether they followed the counsel given them? Of those 34 in Section 52, how many do you think followed the counsel on how to avoid deception? I wondered, and so I researched them (very sketchily) and discovered that although most of them went on the missions they were called to in this revelation, just 13 remained faithful to the Church their entire lives, no matter what the cost. Three more left fellowship for a period of time but later returned (Orson Pratt for just a few months, Thomas B. Marsh for 19 years, and Martin Harris for 32 years.) (Brief sketches on each of these faithful men are included at the end of this post. You may want to print them up as handouts for class members to read later on their own.)
One of these men who avoided deception and continued faithful to the end was Parley P. Pratt. He spent his 50th year on a mission, away from his large family. He wrote to them, “The whole country is being overwhelmed with the most abominable lying, mockery, and hatred of the Saints, and with all manner of corruption. The legions of spirits are let loose and are working wonders.” A little later in the letter, he says, “I hope you will not be cast down or borrow any trouble about me because I admit an if as to my safe return. I have no doubt but that I shall return in safety and live to a good old age. But still I must acknowledge that I do anticipate with a great deal of pleasure the change of worlds. And, every day that I work on my history, I naturally think that the word finis will soon be added to the end.”
Elder Pratt was shortly thereafter accused of some false charges by three men who had sworn to kill him. He was honorably released from the court with the charges dismissed. The three men followed him twelve miles, until he was utterly alone and defenseless, and then shot him. He had 11 living wives, and 21-22 living children, ranging in age from 20 years to 10 months. Among his children are found many Book of Mormon names: Moroni, Heleman, Alma, Nephi, Abinadi, Lehi, Teancum, Mosiah, Omner, Ether, and Moroni. John Taylor wrote of him, “…his name is revered by thousands and tens of thousands, and will be honored by millions yet unborn; while that of his cowardly assassins…will be loathsome, and a stink in the nostrils of God and good men.” (The Mormon, published in New York, May 30)
I am fifty years old! I have lived to see
Seven times seven and a Jubilee.
That period fames in the days of yore
As a grand release for the humble poor;
When the pledg’d estate was again restor’d
And the bondman free’d from his tyrant lord.
When man his fellow was bound to forgive, and begin anew to think and to live. . . .
All these are facts; but of little worth,
Compared with a Prophet restored to earth.
I have seen his day and have heard his voice,
Which enraged a world, while the meek rejoice.
I have read the fate of all earthly things:
The end of thrones, and the end of kings.
I have learned that truth alone shall stand,
And the Kingdom of God fill every land.
I have seen that Kingdom rolling along,
And taking its seat ‘mid the mountains strong;
While the nations wondered but could not tell
To what these wondrous things would swell.
I have wandered far, over land and sea,
To proclaim to the world its destiny—
To cry to the nations, repent and live,
And be ready the bridegroom to receive. . . .
I have toiled with the great in freedom’s cause,
And assisted to give to a State its laws.
I have lain in a dungeon, bound in chains,
And been honored in Courts where Justice reigns.
In a thousand joys, and a thousand fears
I have struggled on through my fifty years.
And now, by the law of God, I am free;
I will seek to enjoy my Jubilee.
I will hie me home to my mountain dell,
And will say to the “Christian” world—farewell!
I have served ye long--; ‘twas a thankless task,
To retire in peace is all I ask.
Another fifty years will fully prove
Our message true, and all our motives love.
Then shall an humble world in reverence bow,
And hail the Prophets so rejected now.
Kings shall revere, and nations incense bring
To Zion’s temple and to Zion’s King.
I shall be there and celebrate the day
‘Till twice ten fifties shall have passed away.
(Excerpts from Parlet’s poem My Fiftieth Year, p. 410-412 of Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt.)
At Parley’s death, his brother Orson wrote, “O how pleasant is the death of a righteous person! He lays down his body with a sure and certain hope of coming forth from the tomb in the morning of the first resurrection, to reign as a mighty King and Priest of the Most High God, to sit enthroned in eternal glory, ruling with power and dominion for ever and ever.” (PPP, p. 419)
In the first edition of the British church magazine, the Millennial Star, a hymn written by Parley P. Pratt was published: “The Morning Breaks.” It is not Hymn #1 in our hymnbook. As the first two verses elaborate on Darkness vs. Light, you may want to sing it as the conclusion to the lesson.
President Harold B. Lee: “I want to bear you my testimony that the experience I have had has taught me that those who criticize the leaders of this Church are showing signs of a spiritual sickness which, unless curbed, will bring about eventually spiritual death. I want to bear my testimony as well that those who in public seek by their criticism to belittle our leaders or bring them into disrepute, will bring upon themselves more hurt than upon those whom they seek thus to malign. I have watched over the years, and I have read of the history of many of those who fell away from this Church, and I want to bear testimony that no apostate who ever left this Church ever prospered as an influence in his community thereafter.” (Conference Report, Oct 1947, p. 67)
Elder Dallin H. Oaks: “The counsel against speaking evil of Church leaders is not so much for the benefit of the leaders as it is for the spiritual well-being of members who are prone to murmur and find fault. The Church leaders that I know are durable people. They made their way successfully in a world of unrestrained criticism before they received their current callings. They have no personal need for protection; they seek no personal immunities from criticism – constructive or destructive. They only seek to declare what they understand to be the word of the Lord to his people.” (Ensign, Feb 1987, p. 70)
Elder Melvin J. Ballard: “No man goes away from this church and becomes an apostate in a week, nor in a month. It is a slow process. The one thing that makes for the safety of every man and woman would be to appear at the sacrament table every Sabbath day. We would not get very far in a week – not so away that, by the process of self-investigation, we could not rectify the wrongs we may have done. If we should refrain from partaking of the condemned by ourselves as unworthy to receive these emblems, we could not endure that long, and we would soon, I am sure, have the spirit of repentance. The road to the sacrament table is the path of safety for Latter-day Saints.” (quoted in Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4:121)
President Spencer W. Kimball: “In my experience, few people have ever lost their peace, their spirituality, their testimony when they kept close to the Lord in their prayers, to the Church in their activities, to the people of the Church in their fellowship. Seldom does one become seriously doubtful or faithless who continues to read the Holy Scriptures and keep his life clean. ‘Put on the whole armor of God,’ as Paul admonished. With this divine influence and protection, we may be able to discern the adversary’s deceptions in whatever appealing words and rationalizations and we may be ‘able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand.’” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, pg. 218)
“BLESSED ARE THEY WHO ARE FAITHFUL AND ENDURE”
Of the 34 brethren called to service in D&C 52, only 14 remained faithful their entire lives, and 3 more left Church fellowship but returned repentant at a later date. The other 17 all left the Church, never to return in this life. Here is a little bit about each of those men who remained faithful or returned to faithfulness.
Reynolds Cahoon—He served in a bishopric and a stake presidency and on the temple building committees in both Kirtland and Nauvoo. Of the latter call, he said, “I think I was never placed in so critical a position since I was born.” His seventh child was blessed and named by the Prophet Joseph, Mahonri Moriancumer, the name of the Brother of Jared. His obituary in the Deseret News read, “…a true friend to the prophet of God while he was living, full of integrity and love for the truth and always acted cheerfully the part assigned him in the great work of the last Days.” He died at age 73.
Simeon Carter—He brought 60 converts into the church with him when he was baptized. That was the beginning of his missionary labors, which were much celebrated as he baptized large numbers of people wherever he served. He marched in Zion’s Camp and was wounded at the Battle of Crooked River. After trekking west to Utah, he was called to settle Brigham City, and died there at the age of 74, still true to the faith, although his brother Jared had left the Church years previously.
Zebedee Coltrin—He saw several glorious visions of God, Christ, and the angels of Heaven, including on the evening he had resolved to be baptized. He was a President of the Seventy in Kirtland. Later, in Utah, he was a Patriarch for 14 years, giving over one thousand patriarchal blessings, including blessings to Melvin J. Ballard and George Albert Smith. He offered the benediction at the dedication of the Logan Temple. He was a popular speaker about pioneers and was scheduled to speak at the July 24th celebration in 1887, but died a few days previous; his funeral was held that day instead. His tombstone in Spanish Fork reads: “A friend of Joseph Smith lies here\A patriarch and pioneer\His life was marked by faith and zeal\His mission was to bless and heal.” He was 82.
Levi Hancock—Of the Prophet Joseph, he said, “I did all I could to hold up that good man. My heart would ache for him. He had to stand against thousands of his pretended friends seeking to overthrow him. It was terrible the abuse he suffered.” Levi made the banner for the march of Zion’s Camp, white, with an eagle and the word Peace. He was a President of the Seventy for 47 years, a fife major in the Nauvoo Legion, and a police officer in Nauvoo. As a general Authority, he was a leader and father figure in the Mormon Battalion. Later, in Utah, he was ordained a Patriarch. He died in Washington County at age 79.
Soloman Hancock—The brother of Levi Hancock, he protected 120 women and children for 10 days from the mobs of Jackson County, and later, with his brothers, guarded and fed 600 men, women, and children who had been driven from their homes and were camped in the woods. He was a member of the High Council and had a beautiful singing voice. In remembrance of his baptism, he wrote this cute little verse: “Once I was a Methodist, Glory Hallelujah\Then I thought it was best, Glory Hallelujah\But when I read my Bible right, Glory Hallelujah\I found myself a Mormonite, Glory Hallelujah.” Although his “greatest desire” was to go west with the Saints, he died in 1847 at Council Bluffs at the age of 54.
Martin Harris—One of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Martin gave much of his material goods to the Church. He marched with Zion’s Camp and served several highly successful missions. In Kirtland, however, he spoke out against the Prophet, and estranged himself from the church for 32 years. During that time, however, he cared for the deserted Kirtland Temple. When Brigham Young heard that he would like to return to fellowships and join the Saints in Utah but lacked the funds, he said, “Send for him! Yes, even if it were to take the last dollar of my own.” And so, at age 88, Martin moved to the west, having been given new clothes by the saints in Iowa on the way. He traveled throughout Utah, bearing testimony every chance he got, and died in Clarkston, Utah at age 92.
Soloman Humphrey—After his baptism, he returned to his hometown of Stockholm, New York to share the truth with family and friends. His mission was very discouraging, as the ministers and citizens constantly “hissed” at him. He migrated to Kirtland to be with the Saints, and was called in D&C 52:35-36 to return again to Stockholm on another mission. He obediently did so and was able to help convert several family members, including John Smith, a future Patriarch, and George A. Smith, a future Apostle. As one of the older members of Zion’s Camp, he fell asleep exhausted on the prairie and awoke with a rattlesnake curled up between his head and his hat, which was in his hand. He, however, forbade the elders from killing it, saying, “I’ll protect him; you shan’t hurt him, for he and I had a good nap together.” He died before completing his final mission in Clay County, Missouri, at the age of 59.
Newel Knight—The Prophet Joseph Smith cast the devil out of him before he was baptized. The following month, during the first conference of the Church, he saw the heavens opened and beheld Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of his Father. He did not serve the mission he was called to in D&C 52 because he was branch president and difficulties arose there that required his attention. He also did not make it to Utah, but died in Iowa Territory in 1847 from lung inflammation. He was only 46. After his death, he appeared to his young wife Lydia, headed west alone with 7 little children, and said, “…dry up your tears. Be patient, and I will go before you and protect you in your journeyings. And you and your little ones shall never perish for lack of food.”
Thomas Marsh—While a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, he was involved in a dispute between his wife and a neighbor which escalated out of control. He declared that “he would sustain the character of his wife, even if he had to go to hell for it.” Apparently he suffered that fate for many tears, as a vile apostate, slandering and lying against the Church leaders. He was excommunicated in 1839. 18 years later, he greatly sorrowed for his errors: “I want to die in the Church. Oh, if I could see Joseph, and talk with him and acknowledge my faults to him, and get his forgiveness from him…then I would die happy.” He further stated that Jehovah “loved me too much to let me go without whipping…For if he had not cared anything about me, he would not have taken me by the arm and given me such a shaking…I have learned to understand what David said when he exclaimed, ‘I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.’” He was rebaptized in 1857, and died in Ogden 9 years later at the age of 66 as a pauper and an invalid.
Isaac Morley—He housed the Prophet and Emma at his large and prosperous farm. When commanded by the Lord, he sold the farm and gave the money to the Church. He was tried for treason and sentenced to be shot, but rather than faltering in his faith, offered himself as a ransom for the relief of the Saints. When the Saints fled to Illinois, one of their communities was named for Brother Morley, “Yelrome,” the backwards spelling of his name. He was a High Priest, Counselor to Bishop Partridge, Patriarch in Far West and later in Utah. He settled in Manti. He died at age 79 in Fairview.
John Murdock—His newborn twins were given to Joseph and Emma at the death of their mother, and his other three little children housed with other saints so that he could serve as a missionary. After his mission, he saw the Savior in a glorious vision. He served many more missions, including one to Australia. He was a bishop in Nauvoo and Salt Lake City; Stake President in Lima, Illinois; and Patriarch in Utah County. He died at age 79.
Edward Partridge—He was called as the presiding Bishop for the Church and wrote to his wife, “You know I stand in an important station, and as I am occasionally chastened I sometimes feel my station is above what I can perform to the acceptance of my Heavenly Father.” He took care of the poor so well, that he became destitute himself. He said in 1839, “I have not at this time two dollars in the world, one dollar and forty-four cents is all. I owe for my rent, and for making clothes for some of the poor, and some other things…What is best for me to do, I hardly know.” He died of exhaustion in Nauvoo at age 46, completely worn out by his tireless service.
Orson Pratt—He was baptized by his brother, Parley, on his nineteenth birthday. He was the first Elder’s Quorum President, and an Apostle. His high degree of education as a professor at the University of Nauvoo caused him to temporarily waver in the faith. He was excommunicated in 1842, but rebaptized within the year. He helped Brigham Young lay out the city of Salt Lake, was editor of the Millennial Star in England, did an incredible amount of temple work for his ancestors, and was historian of the Church. Wilford Woodruff said of him, “I never saw a man in my life that I know of that has spent as few moments idly as he has….He has improved his time.” In October of 1881, after telling Joseph F. Smith the inscription he wanted on his tombstone—“My body sleeps for a moment, but my testimony lives and shall endure forever”—he died at age 70.
Parley P. Pratt—“…I always loved a book. If I worked hard, a book was in my hand in the morning…a book at evening…a book at every leisure moment of my life.” Parley was a member of Zion’s Camp, ordained an Apostle. He served missions to England, the South Seas, and to South America, in addition to the United States and the American Indians. He edited the Millennial Star in England, and the first edition contained his hymn “The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee.” In 1857, shortly after serving his final mission to the States, he was murdered in Arkansas. He was 50.
Hyrum Smith—He was a Patriarch and member of the First Presidency. His counsel to the brethren in Nauvoo was, “Never trifle and take lightly your office and calling and hold strictly to the importance of your mission. At all times remember your position before the Lord and hold in high esteem and respect the priesthood that you bear.” He died at age 44 as a martyr at Carthage Jail, having been shot four times.