Instruction on Priesthood, circa 5 October 1840

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

In order to investigate the subject <​of the ​> so important to this as well as every succeeding generation, I shall proceed to trace the subject as far as I possibly can from the Old and new Testaments.
There are two priesthoods spoken of in the scriptures, viz, the Melchisadeck and the Altho there are two priesthoods, yet the Melchisadeck priesthood comprehends the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood and is the Grand head and holds the hig[h]est Authority which pertains to the priesthood— the of the Kingdom of God in all ages of the world to the latest posterity on the earth— and is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation and every important matter truth is revealed from heaven. Its institution was prior to “the foundation of this earth or the morning stars sang together or the sons of God shouted for joy,” and it is the highest and holiest priesthood and is after the order of the Son [of] God, and all other priesthoods are only parts, ramifications, powers and blessings belonging to the same and are held controlled and directed by it. It is the Channel through which the Almighty commenced revealing his glory at the beginning of the creation of this earth and through which he has continued to reveal himself to the children of men and to the present time and through which he will make known his purposes to the end of time— [p. 1]
Commencing with Adam who was the first man of whom it is spoken of in Daniel as being “the Antient of days” or in other words the first and oldest of all, the great grand progenitor of whom it is said in another place he is michael because he was the first and father of all, not only by progeny, but he was the first to hold the spiritual blessings, the plan to whom was made known the plan of for the Salvation of his posterity unto the end, and to whom Christ was first revealed, and through whom christ has been revealed from heaven and will continue to be revealed from henceforth. Adam holds the of the , i.e. the dispensation of all the times have been and will be revealed through him from the beginning to Christ and from Christ to the end of ◊◊ all world the dispensations that have to be reveald
Ephesians 1st. chap 9 & 10 verses. [“]Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he has purposed in himself that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might together in one all things in Christ both which are in heaven and which are on earth in him” Now the purpose in himself in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is, that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceeding dispensations, And again, God purposed in himself that there should not be an eternal fulness until every dispensation should be fulfilled and gathered together in one [p. 2]
and that all things whatsoever that should be gathered together in one in those , unto the same fulness and eternal glory should be in Christ Jesus; therefore he set the to be the same for Ever and ever and set Adam to watch over them to reveal them from heaven to man or to send Angels to reveal them Heb 1 Chap. 16 verse. [“]Are they not all ministring spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation.” These angels are under the direction of Michael or Adam who acts under the direction of Christ
From the above quotation we learn that Paul perfectly understood the purpose of God in relation <​to​> his connexion with man, and that glorious and perfect order which he established in himself whereby he sent forth power revelations and glory. God will not acknowledge that which he has not called, ordained, and chosen.
In the beginning God called Adam by his own voice See Genesis 3 Chap 9 & 10 verses. [“]And the Lord called unto Adam and said unto him where art thou, and he said I heard thy voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and hid myself.[”] Adam received commandments and instruction from God, this was the order from the begining: that he received revelations, Commandments, and ordinances at the begining is beyond the power of controversy, else, how did they begin to to offer sacrifices to God in an acceptable manner? [p. 3]
And if they offered sacrifices they must be authorized by . We read in Gen 4th chap. V.4 that [“]Abel brought of the firstlings of the flock and the fat thereof and the Lord had respect to Abel and to his offring.[”] And again Heb 11 chap 4 verse. [“]By Faith abel offered unto God a more excellent Sacrifice than Cain by which he obtained witness that he was righteous God testifying of his gifts and by it he being dead yet speaketh.[”] How doth he yet speak? Why he magnified the which was confired [conferred] upon him and died a righteous man, and therefore has become a righteous man an angel of God by receiving his [p. 4]
body from the dead, therefore holding still the of held his and was sent down from heaven unto paul to minister consoleing words & to comnin [communicate?] unto him a knowledge of the mysteries of Godliness and if this was not the case I would ask how did paul know so much about able Abel and why should he talk about his speaking after he was dead. now that he spoke after he was dead must be, by being sent down out of heaven, to administer. This then is the nature of the , every man holding the of his dispensation and one man holding the presidency of them all even Adam. and Adam receiving his Presidency and Authority from Christ, but cannot receive a fulness, untill Christ shall present, the Kingdom to the Father which shall be at the end of the last dispensation—
The power, Glory, and blessings of the Priesthood could not continue with those who received only as their righteousness continued, for Cain also being Authorized to offer sacrifice but not offering it in righteousness, therefore he was cursed. It signifies then, that the must be kept in the very way God has appointed, otherwise their priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing. If Cain had fulfilled the law of righteousness as did Enoch he could have walked with God all the days of his life and never faild of a blessing. Gen [blank] [“]And Enoch walked with God after he begat Mathusalah 300 years and begat [p. 5]
Sons and Daughters and all the days of Enoch were 365 years and Enoch walked with God and he was not for God took him.[”] Now this Enoch God reserved unto himself that he should not die <​at​> and that time and appointed unto him a ministry unto bodies of whom there has been but little revealed, He is reserved also unto a the of a of and more shall be said of him and terrestrial bodies in another treaties [treatise]
He is a ministring Angel to minister for to those who shall be heirs of salvation and appered unto Jude as Abel did unto paul. therefore Jude spoke of him 14 & 15 verses in Jude. [“]and Enoch the Seventh revealed these sayings. Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints[”] Paul was also aquainted with this Character and received instructions from him. Heb 11 Chap. 5 ver. [“]By Faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found because God had translated him for before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a revealer to those who diligently seek him,[”]——
Now the doctrine of translation is a power which belongs to this , there are many things which belong to the powers of the priesthood and the thereof that have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world. they are hid from the wise and prudent to be revealed in the last times. many may have supposed, that the— [p. 6]
doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God and into an Eternal fulness but this is a mistaken idea. There place of habitation is that of the order and a place prepared for such characters, he held in reserve to be ministring Angels Unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fulness as those who are resurrected from the dead, See Heb 11 Chap part of the 35 verse “others were tortured not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection[”] Now it was evident, that there was a better resurrection or else God would not have revealed it unto paul wherein then can it be said a better ressurrection? This distinction is made between the doctrine of the actual ressurrection and the doctrine of translation, the doctrine of translation obtains deliverance from the tortures and sufferings of the body but their existance will prolong as to their labors and toils of the ministry before they can enter in to so great a rest and glory, but on the other hand those who were tortured not accepting deliverance received an immediate rest from their labors, See Rev [blank] [“]And I heard a voice from heaven saying blessed are the dead who die in the Lord for from henceforth they do rest from their labors and their works do follow them[”]— They rest from their labors for a long time and yet their work is held in reserve for them, that they are permitted to do the same works after they receive a ressurection [p. 7]
for their bodies, but we shall leave this subject and the subject of the terrestial bodies for another time in order to treat upon them more fully
The next great grand patriarch who held the of the was Lamech See Gen 5 Chap 28 & 29 verses— [“]And Lamech lived 182 years and begat a Son and he called his name Noah saying this same shall comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands because of the ground which the Lord has Curst.[”] The priesthood continued from Lamech to Noah Gen 6 Chap 13 verse. [“]And God said unto Noah the end of all flesh is before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them, and behold I will destroy them with the earth,” thus we behold the keys of this priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that he talked with him in a familiare and friendly manner, that he continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory with which he blessed Adam at the beginning and the offring of sacrifice which also shall be continued at the last time. for all the and duties that ever have been required by the priesthood under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in the last dispensation at the end thereof in any of the , shall all be had in the last dispensations— Therefore all things had under the Authority of the Priesthood At any former period shall be had again— bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy prophets— then <​Malach 3— 3​> shall the Sons of Levi offer unto the Lord an acceptable offering” [p. 8]
then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord Se[e] Malichi 3 Chap— 3 & 4 [“]And he shall sit as a refiners fire and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord[”]
It will be necessary here to make a few observations on the doctrine, set forth in the above quotation, As it is generally supposed that sacrifice was entirely done away, <​when the great sacrif[ic]e was offered up—​> and that there will be no necessity for the of sacrifice in future; but those who assert this, are certainly not aquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the . <​or with the prophets​> The offering of sacrifice is has ever been connected, and forms a part of the <​duties of the​> priesthood. It began which with the priesthood and will be continued untill after the coming of christ from generation to generation——
We frequently have mention made of the offering of Sacrifice by the servants of the most high in antient days prior to the law of moses, See [blank] which ordinances will be continued when the priesthood is restored with all its Authority power and blessings. Elijah was the last Prophet that held the of this priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the Authority and delive[r] the keys of this priesthood in order that all the ordinan[c]es may be attended to in righteousness. <​It is true that the Savior had authority and power to bestow this blessing <​but the sons of Levi were too predjudi[ced]​>​>
And I will send Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord &c &c.
Why send Elijah because he holds the keys of the Authority to administer in all the ordinances of the priesthood and without the Authority is given the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness. [p. 9]
It is a very prevalent opinion that in the sacrifices <​sacrifices​> of <​which​> were offered were entirely consumed, this was not the case if you read Leviticus [blank] Chap [blank] Verses you will observe that the priests took a part as a memorial and offered it up before the Lord, while the remainder was kept for the benefit <​maintenance​> of the priests— So that the offerings and sacrifices are not all consumed upon the Alter, but the blood is sprinkled and the fat and certain other portions are consumed These sacrifices as well as every belonging to the will when the temple of the Lord shall be built <​and the sons [of] Levi be purified​> be fully restored and attended to then the Sons of Levi shall be purified. all their powers raniffications [ramifications], and blessings— this ever was did and will be exist when the powers of the Melchisadc Priesthood are sufficiently manifest. else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by all the Holy prophets be brought to pass be brought to pass, It is not to be understood that, the law of Moses will be fully established again with all its rights and <​variety of ceremonies​> ceremonies <​this has never been spoken off by the prophets​> but those things which existed prior to Mose’s day viz sacrifice, will be continued— It may be asked by some what necesssity for Sacrifice since the great Sacrifice was offered? In answer to which if Repentance and faith were neccessary to Salvation <​existed​> prior to the days of christ what necessity for them since that time——
The priesthood has descended in a regular line from Father to Son through their succeeding generations
See Book of Doctrine & Covenants [p. 10]


  1. 1

    See Job 38:6–7.  

  2. 2

    This wording borrows in part from a document titled “On Priesthood” that was published as section 3 of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. (Instruction on Priesthood, between ca. 1 Mar. and ca. 4 May 1835 [D&C 107:1–6].)  

  3. 3

    See Daniel 7:13; see also Revelation, ca. Aug. 1835 [D&C 27:11].  

  4. 4

    See Instruction on Priesthood, between ca. 1 Mar. and ca. 4 May 1835 [D&C 107:54].  

  5. 5

    See Old Testament Revision 1, pp. 13–14 [Moses 6:51–53].  

  6. 6

    In summer 1839, JS explained, “The Priesthood is an everlasting principle & Existed with God from Eternity & will to Eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. The Keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent.— When they are revealed from Heaven it is by Adams Authority.” (Discourse, between ca. 26 June and ca. 4 Aug. 1839–A.)  

  7. 7

    According to apostle David W. Patten, a dispensation is “power and authorty to dispense the word of God, and to administer in all the ordinances thereof.” He also stated that “the dispensation of the fullness of times is made up of all the dispensations that ever have been given since the world began until this time.” (David W. Patten, “To the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 40–41.)  

  8. 8

    This is actually Hebrews 1:14, rather than 1:16.  

  9. 9

    Both the Old and New Testaments portrayed Michael as an angel with governing authority. The book of Daniel refers to him as “the great prince,” and the Epistle of Jude calls him “the archangel.” In an instruction on priesthood given sometime around spring 1835, Michael was identified as “the Prince, the Archangel,” and as the biblical figure Adam. In summer 1839, JS explained that “the Priesthood was. first given To Adam: he obtained the first Presidency & held the Keys of it, from genration to Generation; he obtained it in the creation before the world was formed as in Gen. 1, 26:28,— he had dominion given him over every living Creature. He is Michael, the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures.” (Daniel 12:1; Jude 1:9; Instruction on Priesthood, between ca. 1 Mar. and ca. 4 May 1835 [D&C 107:54]; Discourse, between ca. 26 June and ca. 4 Aug. 1839–A, underlining in original.)  

  10. 10

    A year earlier, JS taught that “Christ is the Great High priest; Adam next.” (Discourse, between ca. 26 June and ca. 4 Aug. 1839–A.)  

  11. 11

    See Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:33].  

  12. 12

    See 1 Timothy 3:16.  

  13. 13

    See 1 Corinthians 15:24.  

  14. 14

    See Genesis 4:11; Malachi 3:3; and Old Testament Revision 1, p. 9 [Moses 5:19–37].  

  15. 15

    Genesis 5:22–24.  

  16. 16

    See Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76:71–80].  

  17. 17

    If JS produced a further treatise on these subjects, it is apparently not extant. JS’s revision of the Bible provided additional information about Enoch. While Genesis merely states that “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him,” JS’s revisions explained that Enoch was the leader of a large city, Zion, which was “translated” and collectively “taken up into heaven.” The Saints’ interest in Enoch may have been newly heightened by news of the recent republication of Richard Laurence’s English translation of the apocryphal book of Enoch. The June 1840 issue of the Times and Seasons republished an article from the New York Star that briefly referred to the publication. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, having obtained a copy of the volume in England, reviewed it in the July 1840 Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. However, there is no evidence that copies of this issue had crossed the Atlantic by the October conference. (Genesis 5:24; Old Testament Revision 1, pp. 16, 34 [Moses 7:21; JS Translation, Genesis 14:32]; “The Book of Jasher,” Times and Seasons, June 1840, 1:127; [Parley P. Pratt], “The Apocryphal Book of Enoch,” LDS Millennial Star, July 1840, 1:61–63.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  18. 18

    See Hebrews 1:14.  

  19. 19

    See Book of Mormon, 1837 ed., 577 [Ether 4:15].  

  20. 20

    See Matthew 11:25.  

  21. 21

    When writing of the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, Methodist theologian Adam Clarke professed his belief that “Elijah came from heaven in the same body which he had upon earth, for he was translated, and did not see death. . . . And the body of Moses was probably raised again, as a pledge of the resurrection.” Nevertheless, “both their bodies exhibit the same appearance, to show that the bodies of glorified saints are the same, whether the person had been translated, or whether he had died.” (Clarke, New Testament, 83, italics in original.)  

    Clarke, Adam. The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Text Carefully Printed from the Most Correct Copies of the Present Authorised Version, Including the Marginal Readings and Parallel Texts, with a Commentary and Critical Notes. . . . Vol. 1. New York: B. Waugh and T. Mason, for the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1833.

  22. 22

    Translated beings are mentioned in the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and JS’s revision of the Bible. (See Book of Mormon, 1837 ed., 369, 537–539 [Alma 45:18–19; 3 Nephi 28:4–23]; Account of John, Apr. 1829–C [D&C 7]; and Old Testament Revision 1, p. 16 [Moses 7:18–21].)  

  23. 23

    Revelation 14:13.  

  24. 24

    In instruction he gave about the priesthood in summer 1839, JS stated: “Then to Noah who is Gabriel, he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office & was the Father of all living in his day.” (Discourse, between ca. 26 June and ca. 4 Aug. 1839–A.)  

  25. 25

    Earlier, Oliver Cowdery and JS reported that John the Baptist referred to this prophecy when he conferred on them the authority to baptize in May 1829. (JS History, vol. A-1, 17–18; Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, in LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:16.)  

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

  26. 26

    See Book of Mormon, 1837 ed., 338 [Alma 34:10–14].  

  27. 27

    Church members Wandle Mace and Oliver B. Huntington later recalled hearing JS teach about the restoration of animal sacrifice around this same time. (Mace, Autobiography, 37; Oliver B. Huntington, “Sayings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Young Women’s Journal, Mar. 1893, 275.)  

    Mace, Wandle. Autobiography, ca. 1890. CHL. MS 1924.

    Huntington, Oliver B. “Sayings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.” Young Woman’s Journal: Organ of the Y. L. M. I. Associations 4, no. 6 (Mar. 1893): 274–275.

  28. 28

    JS’s journal reports that on 3 April 1836, the Old Testament–era prophets Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared to JS and Oliver Cowdery in the House of the Lord in Kirtland and imparted various keys, or authority, to them. This experience was not publicized to the Saints until 1852, which may explain why JS presented the appearance of Elijah as an apparently future expectation rather than something that had already occurred. It is also possible that JS was paraphrasing the prophecy in Malachi 4:5 in which the coming of Elijah is yet in the future. (Visions, 3 Apr. 1836 [D&C 110:11–16]; “Life of Joseph Smith,” Deseret News [Salt Lake City], 6 Nov. 1852, [1].)  

  29. 29

    See Malachi 4:5; and Book of Mormon, 1837 ed., 531–532 [3 Nephi 24:1; 25:5]. JS’s 1838 history recalled that the angel Moroni used language similar to that in Malachi 4 when he spoke to JS in 1823: “Behold I will reveal unto you the Priesthood by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 5.)  

  30. 30

    See Leviticus 2:2–3, 9–10; 5:12–13.  

  31. 31

    See Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:20].  

  32. 32

    See Acts 3:21.  

  33. 33

    The Gospels refer to baptisms that John the Baptist performed before the ministry of Christ. The Book of Mormon includes numerous references to baptisms before Christ’s birth, and JS’s revision of the book of Genesis describes the baptism of Adam. (Matthew 3:4–6; John 1:25–26; see also, for example, Book of Mormon, 1837 ed., 127, 205 [2 Nephi 31:14; Mosiah 18:21]; and Old Testament Revision 1, pp. 14–15 [Moses 6:64–65].)  

  34. 34

    An instruction on priesthood, published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, contained information about the priesthood descending through patriarchal lines. (Instruction on Priesthood, between ca. 1 Mar. and ca. 4 May 1835 [D&C 107:40–52].)