Minutes, 16 September 1835

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  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Minutes of a held in Sept. 16th 1835
, , &
Giles Cook
Counsellors.
Council sit in order and opened by prayer by the presidency. Complaint preferred by President J. Smith Jr. against Brother Henry Green, for accusing President Joseph Smith Junr of rebuking Brother Aldridge [Andrew Aldrich] wrongfully & under the influence of an evil spirit. Brother Greene being absent, The presiding President, , arose & said, that it was the decision of the Presidency, that the [p. 108] proceed to examine the charge preferred, because brother Green had been regularly summoned by himself.
The council appointed that one should speak on each side of the council. After which testimony was examind as follows, testified that brother Green (on monday morning last) said that brother Aldridge was justified in what he said, and that President Joseph & were wrong in abusing the old man, and after explained the matter to him, said that if any man should do so by him, he should call him a scoundrel, and that he should say that any man who should talk as Joseph did must have the Devil in him. Elder Lorin Bab[b]it said he was present when the above conversation took place & heard a considerable part of it and fully concurred in the statement of . And he heard brother Green say previous to the above talk that although they accused brother Aldridge of having an evil Spirit, yet if the truth was known the Devil was in them. (Viz.) Joseph & : for if any man should ask my opinion and then abuse me in this way, I should call him a scoundrel or a knave[.] President said before the council that brother Aldridge was not called upon to give his opinion concerning the Book but said what he did without being called upon to speak, for the book was only handed to him and others, to look at, that they might see its quality and goodness. President Joseph S. arose and stated that knew brother Aldridge was under the influence of an evil spirit and had been for a long time. And Counsellor also said that he knew that this thing was so. by what he had seen and learned, & that he had heard from credible Authority that the old man had been in the habit for a long time of neglecting prayer & family worship. [p. 109]
then arose and spoke of the Doctrine of Christ and the duty of the Servants of God in preaching the gospel, & building upon the , to reprove error and wickedness whenever they should see them, especially in the church, and that President Smith was in the lines of his duty when he reproved <​bro​> Aldridge for his evil, and consequently brother Green must have been wrong in opposing him, and saying that he acted like a scoundrel and that the Devil was in him.
Counsellor arose and said, that he conceived that brother Green could not be justified in opposing the servant of the Lord, while in the actual discharge of his duty, and that it is evident that Satan hath sought to make divisions in the church and hath taken the advantage of the occasion of presenting the Book to do this.
arose & said, that he was disposed to exercise all the charity for brethren that he could, yet at the same time he did not feel willing to justify wickedness nor cover or hide iniquity in the church but rather to expose it and rebuke it. that it may be brought to light: And that the wickedness of brother Green in condemning President Smith is evident from the testimony, and that brother Aldridge also did act foolishly and by the influence of a wrong Spirit in questioning the integrity of the heads of the Church in the purchase of the Book, &, that President Smith was and, is, justifiable in doing as he has done, in this matter, & should not be censured as has been done in this matter by brother Green.
President then arose and showed, by a few very plain remarks, how Satan, had sought from the beginning to destroy the book of Mormon, and in order to do this, had been continually leveling his shafts [p. 110] against the Servants of God who were called to bring it forth, and bear testimony of it to the world, And now hast sought occasion against the Servants in tempting brethren to say they had [e]quivocated in the price of the record book, which was presented last sabbath and that brother Aldridge & perhaps others fell under this evil— influence, & brother Green justifies them in this thing & condemns, President Smith and is not and ought not to be justified in so doing. He went on further to show that the Book was purchased as cheap as it could be and was actually worth what was given for it, (Id.) $.12. requested leave to interrupt a moment to inform the council, that a moment before, that brother Green had passed the house and when he told him the council was considering his case and requested him to come in, he said that he should go about his own business, and so went on his way regardless of the council. continued showing still further that the design of brother Aldridge or at least of the Spirit that was in him, was to destroy the character of the heads of the church, & showed that we intended to speculate out of the brethren. & extort from them more than the cost of the Book. And now instead of regarding our feelings, he disregards us alltogether, and shows that he has no faith in the . Soon after brother Green came in and said that he had been detained longer than he intended, having been to on business & had to deliver the horse and harness to the owner before he could attend to the council,
then arose and decided that brother Green should not have been hindred from being here by any other business, and if so, he should have notified the council and requested an adjournment [p. 111]
then observed that he thought the case sufficiently brought before the council, and would say no more.
And , proceeded to give his decision as follows. That brother Green should, (if he were aggrieved with President Smith) have gone and told him of his difficulty and not have said any thing about it to his neighbor. And again, that Mr. Aldridge as has been shown, has been guilty of neglecting his prayers before God, & therefore, has not had the spirit of God, to preserve him from the temptation of Satan, & has fallen into evil, and actually did do wrong in raising objections to the price of the book; presented last sabbath, and was under the influence of an evil spirit. Brother Green fellowships the evil spirit in Br. Aldridge and says he is justifiable in what he has done & therefore it is evident that an evil spirit is reigning in the heart <​breast​> of brother Green, And it is also <​as​> evident that President Joseph Smith Junr. was justified in rebuking that evil spirit & it was not only justifiable in President Smith, to rebuke that evil Spirit but also his duty as President and first in the appointed of God to lead the same into all righteousness; The decision then of the of the is in short that brother Green be & is now excluded from this church, and shall be a member no more until he come in by the of , as appointed by the Gospel, to be done in the church. This was agreed to by all the counsellors except , whether Mr. Green should not have the privilege of confessing his faults and still be retained in the Church. He, therefore, thought it was the privilege of brother Green, to have a reorganization of the council and a rehearing. This was about to be [p. 112] granted, and the council to be adjourned till tomorrow but requested some explanation from the President, and was instructed as follows. When a heinous crime is committed & indignity offered to the then it is the privilege of the of the High council to stamp it with indignation under foot & cut off the offender as in the case just decided.
, then withdrew his objection to the decision of the Presidency, which was acknowledged by the whole house.
After prayer By President council adjourned
Clerk [p. 113]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    This body represents members from the Kirtland and Missouri high councils. David Whitmer, John Whitmer, and William W. Phelps were presidents of the latter. Newel Knight and Levi Jackman were also members of the Missouri high council. (Minutes, 3 July 1834; Minutes and Discourse, ca. 7 July 1834.)  

  2. 2

    According to guidelines established in 1834, the fact that only two counselors were chosen to speak indicates that the council did not deem this a difficult case. (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:13].)  

  3. 3

    14 September 1835.  

  4. 4

    A June 1831 revelation instructed elders to watch over the church and “labour with their own hands that there be no Idolitry nor wickedness practiced.” The “articles and covenants of the Church of Christ” gave teachers the duty of ensuring there was no “iniquity in the church, nor no hardness with each other, nor no lying, nor backbiting, nor no evil speaking” and further instructed that disciplinary measures should be taken against “any member of this church of Christ transgressing, or being overtaken in a fault.” Samuel Smith could be interpreting JS’s actions as fulfilling such duties. (Revelation, 6 June 1831 [D&C 52:39]; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:54, 80].)  

  5. 5

    13 September 1835.  

  6. 6

    That is, the presiding high priest. JS was ordained as the president of the high priesthood in January 1832. (Minutes, 26–27 Apr. 1832; see also Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 107:65]; and “History of Orson Pratt,” 11, Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861, CHL.)  

    Historian’s Office. Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861. CHL. CR 100 93.

  7. 7

    Various scriptural passages could have influenced Coe’s interest in allowing Green to confess and retain good standing in the church. There are also examples of others who were accused of offenses and then allowed to confess and show penitence. However, given the disrespect shown for JS, the council may have sought to make an example of Green. (See Minutes, 28–29 Aug. 1834; Revelation, 23 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:88–93]; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 210–211 [Mosiah 26:29–30]; Galatians 6:1; Minutes, 14 July 1835; and Minutes, 28–29 Sept. 1835.)  

  8. 8

    Rigdon clearly believed that Green’s late arrival at the meeting constituted a willful disregard for the council. Perhaps Rigdon had in mind a New Testament precedent to support the subsequent sentencing of Green. Matthew records that if a man found in fault refuses to “hear” the witnesses against him, then the case should be brought before the church. And “if he neglect to hear the church,” he should be cast out. Green had been confronted privately by witnesses and now publicly before the church. In both cases, a pattern of disrespect or contempt was evident. (Matthew 18:15–17.)