Account of Meetings, Revelation, and Blessing, 5–6 December 1834

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Chapter 1.
Friday Evening, December 5, 1834. According to the direction of the Holy Spirit, Pr[e]sident Smith, , and , assembled for the purpose of <​first​> High Counsellor to the office of assistant President of the in the .
It is necessary, for the special benefit of the reader, that he be instructed <​into, or​> concerning the power and authority of the above named .
First. The office of the President is to preside over the whole Chu[r]ch; to be considered as at the head; to receive revelations for the Church; to be a , and Revelator <​and Prophet—​> having all the gifts of God:— having taking <​Moses​> for an ensample. Which is
Second. the office and station of the above President Smith, according to the calling of God, and the ordination which he has received.
Second. The office of Assistant President is to assist in presiding over the whole chu[r]ch, and to officiate in the abscence of the President, according to their <​his​> rank and appointment, viz: , first; Second, and Third, as they <​were​> are severally called. The office of this Priesthood is also to act as Spokesman—taking Aaron for an ensample.
The virtue of this the <​above​> Priesthood is to hold the of the kingdom of heaven, or the Church militant.
The reader may further understand, that Presidents <​the​> reason why President <​High Counsellor​> was not previously ordained <​to the Presidency,​> was, in consequence of his necessary attendance in , to assist in conducting the printing business; but that this promise was made by the angel while in company with President Smith, at the time they recievd the office of the . And further: The circumstances and situation of the Church requiring, Presidents and were previously ordained, to assist the President Smith.
After this short explination, we now proceed to give an account of the acts, promises, and blessings of this memorable Evening:
First. After assembling, we received a rebuke for our former low, uncultivated, and disrespectful manner of communication, and salutation, with, and unto each other, by the voice of the Spirit, saying unto us:
Verily, condemnation resteth upon you, who are appointed to lead my Chu[r]ch, and to be saviors of men: and also upon the church: And there must needs be a repentance and a refor[m]ation among you, in all things, in your ensamples before the Chuch, and before the world, in all your manners, habits and customs, and salutations one toward another—rendering unto every man the respect due the office, and calling, and priesthood, whereunto I the Lord have appointed and ordained you. Amen. [p. 17]
It is only necessary to say, relative to the foregoing reproof and instruction, that, though it was given in sharpness, it occasioned gladness and joy, and we were willing to repent and reform, in every particular, according to the instruction given. It is also proper to remark, that after the reproof was given, we all confessed, voluntarily, that such had been the manifestations of the Spirit a long times since; in consequence of which the rebuke came with greater sharpness.
Not thinking to evade the truth, or excuse, in order to escape censure, but to give proper information, a few remarks relative to the situation of the previous to this date, is necessary. Many, on hearing the fulness of the gospel, embraced it with eagerness; <​yet,​> at the same time were unwilling to forego their former opinions and notions relative to church government, and the rules and habits proper for the good order, harmony, peace, and beauty of a people destined, with the protecting care of the Lord, to be an ensample and light of the world. They did not dispise government; but there was a disposition to organize that government according to their own notions, or feelings. For example: Every man must be subjected <​to​> wear a particular fashioned coat, hat, or other garment, or else an accusation was brought that we were fashioning after the world. Every one must be called by their given name, without respecting the office or to which they had been called: Thus, President Smith was called Joseph, or brother Joseph; , , or , &c. This manner of address gave occasion to the enemies of the truth, and was a means of bringing reproach upon the Cause of God. But in consequence of former prejudices, the church, many of them, would not submit to proper and wholesome order. This proceeded from a spirit of enthusiasm, and vain ambition—a desire to compel others to come to certain rules, not dictated by the will of the Lord; or a jealous fear, that, were men called by thier respective titles, and the ordinance of heaven honored in a proper manner, some were in a way to be exalted above others, and their form of government disregarded. In fact, the true principle of honor in the church of the saints, that the more a man is exalted, the more humble he will be, if actuated by the Spirit of the Lord, seemed to have been overlooked; and the fact, that the greatest is least and servant of all; as said our Savior, never to have been thought of, by numbers. These facts, for such they were, when viewed in their proper light, were sufficient, of themselves to cause men to humble themselves before the Lord; but when communicated by the Spirit, made an impression upon our hearts not to be forgotten. [p. 18]
Perhaps, an arrangement of this kind in a former day would have occasioned some unpleasant reflections, in the minds of many, and at an early <​earlier​> period, in this , others to have forsaken the cause, in consequence of weakness, and unfaithfulness; but that the leaders of the church should wait so long before stepping forward according <​to​> the manifestation of the Spirit, deserved a reproof. And that the church should be chastened, for their uncultivated manner of salutation, is also just. But to proceed with the account of the interview.
After addressing the throne of mercy, President Smith laid hands upon High Counsellor , and him to the in the Church, saying:
Brother, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was crucified for the sins of the world, that we through the virtue of his blood might come to the Father, I lay my hands upon thy head, and ordain thee a President of the high and holy priesthood, to assist in presiding over the Chu[r]ch, and bearing the of this kingdom—which priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek—which is after the order of the Son of God— And now, O Father, wilt thou bless this thy servant with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding— give him, by the Holy Spirit, a correct understanding of thy doctrine, laws, and will— commune with him from on high— let him hear thy voice, and recieve the ministries ministring of the holy angels— deliver him from temptation, and the power of darkness— deliver him from evil, and from those who may seek his destruction,— be his shield, his buckler, and his great reward— endow him with power from on high, that he may write, preach, and proclaim the gospel to his fellowmen in demonstration of the Spirit and of power— may his feet never slide— may his heart never feint— may his faith never fail. Bestow upon him the blessings of his fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and of Joseph— Prolong his life to a good old age, and bring him in peace to his end, and to rejoice with thy saints, even the sanctified, in the celestial kingdom; for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Presidents and , confirmed the ordinance and blessings by the laying on of hands and prayer, after which each were blessed with the same blessings and prayer.
Much light was communicated to our minds, and we were instructed into the order of the church of the saints, and how they ought to conduct in respecting and reverencing each other. The praise of men, or the honor of this world, is of no benefit; but if a man is respected in his calling, and considered to be a man of righteousness, the truth may have an influence, many times, by which means they may teach the gospel with success, and lead men into the kingdom of heaven. [p. 19]
On Saturday, December 6, Smith, , and assembled with , and , in company with , to the , , and <​​> .
The meeting was opened by prayer, and a lengthy conversation held upon the subject of introducing a more refined order into the . On further reflection, the propriety of others to the office of Presidency of the high priesthood was also discussed, after which High Counsellor was ordained <​to​> the Presidency under the hands of President Smith, and High Counsellor under the hands of . The others present were blessed under the hands of Presidents J. Smith jr. , and , and the meeting closed, after a happy season, of and a social intercourse upon the great subject of the gospel and the work of the Lord in this day. [p. 20]


  1. 1

    This opening paragraph is similar to Cowdery’s entry in JS’s journal: “Friday Evening, December 5, 1834. According to the directions of the Holy Spirit breth[r]en Joseph Smith jr. Sidney [Rigdon], Frederick G. Williams, and Oliver Cowdery, assembled to converse upon the welfare of the church, when brother Oliver Cowdery was ordained an assistant President of the High and Holy Priesthood under the hands of brother Joseph Smith jr.” (JS, Journal, 5 Dec. 1834.)  

  2. 2

    For information on the power and authority of the office of president in the “High and Holy Priesthood,” see Historical Introduction to Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90].  

  3. 3

    When the church was organized, a revelation designated JS as “a seer & Translater & Prop[h]et an Apostle of Jesus Christ an Elder of the Church.” On 25 January 1832, JS was ordained as the “President of the high Priesthood.” (Revelation, 6 Apr. 1830 [D&C 21:1]; Historical Introduction to Revelation, 25 Jan. 1832–A [D&C 75:1–22]; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 66–68 [2 Nephi 3:6–24]; Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28:2–7]; Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 107:65–67, 91–92]; and Revelation, 24 Feb. 1834 [D&C 103:16].)  

    The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palmyra, NY: E. B. Grandin, 1830.

  4. 4

    This designation was comparable to Cowdery’s position as second elder to JS’s first elder. The alignment with Cowdery next to JS was soon reflected in various sources, including the preface of the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is also reflected in a statement Oliver Cowdery wrote in September 1835 while recording a blessing given in 1833: “Joseph Smith, sen. was ordained a president and patriarch, under the hands of his son Joseph, myself, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, presidents of the church.” (Preface to Doctrine and Covenants, 17 Feb. 1835; Patriarchal Blessings, 1:9.)  

    Patriarchal Blessings, 1833–. CHL. CR 500 2.

  5. 5

    See Exodus 4:14–16; Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28:3]; and Revelation, 12 Oct. 1833 [D&C 100:9].  

  6. 6

    On 18 March 1833, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams were made equal to JS in holding the keys of the kingdom. “Church militant” is a term commonly used in Christianity to describe the church on earth at war against evil. (Minutes, 18 Mar. 1833; “Church militant,” in Oxford English Dictionary, 2:404.)  

    Oxford English Dictionary. Compact ed. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

  7. 7

    According to a later JS history, on 15 May 1829 John the Baptist conferred upon JS and Oliver Cowdery “the priesthood of Aaron.” In his account of John the Baptist’s visit, Cowdery wrote, “On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the vail was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the gospel of repentance! . . . Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, ‘I am thy fellow-servant,’ dispelled every fear. We listened—we gazed—we admired! ’Twas the voice of the angel.” This narrative was written and published by Cowdery, editor of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, as the first of eight letters to William W. Phelps to help provide “a full history of the rise of the church of the Latter Day Saints.” For the complete texts of the eight letters, see JS History, 1834–1836, 46–102. (JS History, vol. A-1, 17–18; Editorial, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:13; see also Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:2–3].)  

    JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). Historian’s Office, History of the Church, 1839–ca. 1882. CHL. CR 100 102, boxes 1–7. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

  8. 8

    See Revelation, 24 Feb. 1834 [D&C 103:9].  

  9. 9

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 98 [2 Nephi 21:10–12]; and Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–A [D&C 68:2–6].  

  10. 10

    See Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:117–126]; Revelation, 3 Jan. 1833 [D&C 88:127–133]; and Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:16–18].  

  11. 11

    See Matthew 18:4; 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; and Isaiah 57:15.  

  12. 12

    See Matthew 20:26–27; and Revelation, 9 May 1831 [D&C 50:26].  

  13. 13

    According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, one definition of interview was “a formal meeting for some conference on an important subject.” (“Interview,” in American Dictionary.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  14. 14

    See Hebrews 4:16.  

  15. 15

    See Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:4].  

  16. 16

    JS’s journal states “ordain thee an assistant President.” (JS, Journal, 5 Dec. 1834.)  

  17. 17

    See Matthew 16:19; Revelation, 15 Mar. 1832 [D&C 81:2]; and Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:1–6]. A revelation published in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835 states that Peter, James, and John conveyed upon JS and Cowdery “the keys of my [God’s] kingdom.” (Revelation, ca. Aug. 1835 [D&C 27:12–13].)  

  18. 18

    See Psalm 110:4; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 260 [Alma 13:18]; and Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76:57].  

  19. 19

    See Matthew 6:13.  

  20. 20

    See Genesis 15:1; and Revelation, 7 Dec. 1830 [D&C 35:14].  

  21. 21

    See Luke 24:49; Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:32]; Revelation, Feb. 1831–A [D&C 43:15–16]; and Revelation, 22 June 1834 [D&C 105:33].  

  22. 22

    For more on Cowdery’s calling to preach and teach in the church, see Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28:1–4].  

  23. 23

    See 1 Corinthians 15:40–41; Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76:50–70]; and Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:17–22].  

  24. 24

    See Matthew 6:13. JS’s journal for 5 December 1834 states, “Oliver Cowdery was ordained an assistant President of the High and Holy Priesthood under the hands of brother Joseph Smith jr. Saying, ‘My brother, in the name of Jesus Christ who was crucified for the sins of the world, I lay my hands upon thee, and ordain thee an assistant President of the high and holy p[r]iesthood in the church of the Latter Day Saints.[’]” (JS, Journal, 5 Dec. 1834.)  

  25. 25

    Joseph Smith Sr. and Samuel Smith were original members of the Kirtland high council. Hyrum Smith replaced Sylvester Smith on the council in September 1834. (Minutes, 17 Feb. 1834; Minutes, 24 Sept. 1834.)