I was present when the Prophet gave his last charge to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was in Nauvoo early in 1844, in the meeting of a council of the Prophet’s most trusted friends, including the Twelve, but not all of the constituted authorities of the Church. The Prophet stood before that association, and with great feeling and animation he graphically reviewed his life of persecution, labor and sacrifice for the Church and the kingdom of God, both of which he declared were now organized upon the earth, the burden of which had become too great for him longer to carry, that he was weary and tired with the weight he had so long borne. He then said, with great vehemence: “And in the name of the Lord, I now shake from my shoulders the responsibility of bearing off the kingdom of God to all the world, and here and now I place that responsibility, with all the keys, powers and privileges pertaining thereto, upon the shoulders of you, the Twelve Apostles, in connection with this council; and if you will accept this, to do it, God shall bless you mightily and shall open your way; and if you do it not, you will be damned. I am henceforth free from the blood of this generation and of all men.” 1
The journal of Benjamin F. Johnson, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; “An Interesting Letter,” from Patriarch Benjamin F. Johnson to George S. Gibbs, 1903; Benjamin F. Johnson file, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.