For a full, complete version of the Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book (1843), visit the Joseph Smith Papers.
Prest. Smith, & Elders Taylor & Richards return’d and the meeting was address’d by Prest. Smith, to illustrate the object of the Society— that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor— searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants— to assist; by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community, and save the Elders the trouble of rebuking; that they may give their time to other duties &c. in their public teaching.
Prest. Smith further remark’d that an organization to show them how to go to work would be sufficient. He propos’d that the Sisters elect a presiding officer to preside over them, and let that presiding officer choose two Counsellors to assist in the duties of her Office— that he would ordain them to preside over the Society— and let them preside just as the Presidency, preside over the church; and if [p. 7] they need his instruction— ask him, he will give it from time to time.
Let this Presidency serve as a constitution— all their decisions be considered law; and acted upon as such.
If any Officers are wanted to carry out the designs of the Institution, let them be appointed and set apart, as Deacons, Teachers &c. are among us.
The minutes of your meetings will be precedents for you to act upon— your Constitutio[n] and law.
He then suggested the propriety of electing a Presidency to continue in office during good behavior, or so long as they shall continue to fill the office with dignity &c. like the first Presidency of the church.—
. . .
Mov’d by Prest. Smith, that Mrs. Smith proceed to choose her Counsellors, that they may be ordain’d to preside over this Society, in taking care of the poor— administering to their wants, and attending to the various affairs of this Institution.
The Presidentess Elect, then made choice of Mrs. Sarah M. Cleveland and Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Whitney for Counsellors—
President Smith read the Revelation to Emma Smith, from the book of Doctrine and Covenants; and stated that she was ordain’d at the time, the Revelation was given, to expound the scriptures to all; and to teach the female part of community; and that not she alone, but others, may attain to the same blessings.— [p. 8]
The 2d Epistle of John, 1st verse, was then read to show that respect was then had to the same thing; and that why she was called an Elect lady is because, elected to preside.
Elder Taylor was then appointed to ordain the Counsellors— he laid his hands on the head of Mrs Cleveland and ordain’d her to be a Counsellor to the Elect Lady, even Mrs. Emma Smith, to counsel, and assist her in all things pertaining to her office &c.
Elder T. then laid his hands on the head of Mrs. Whitney and ordain’d her to be a Counsellor to Mrs. Smith, the Prest. of the Institutio[n]— with all the privileges pertaining to the office &c.
He then laid his hands on the head of Mrs. Smith and blessed her, and confirm’d upon her all the blessings which have been confer’d on her, that she might be a mother in Israel and look to the wants of the needy, and be a pattern of virtue; and possess all the qualifications necessary for her to stand and preside and dignify her Office, to teach the females those principles requisite for their future usefulness.
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Prest. Smith then resumed his remarks and gave instruction how to govern themselves in their meetings— when one wishes to speak, address the chair— and the chairman responds to the address.
Should two speak at once, the Chair shall decide who speaks first, if any one is dissatisfied, she appeals to the house—
When one has the floor, occupies as long as she pleases.
Proper manner of address is Mrs. Chairman [p. 9] or President and not Mr. Chairman &c.
A question can never be put until it has a second
When the subject for discussion has been fairly investigated; the Chairman will say, are you ready for the question? &c.
Whatever the majority of the house decide upon becomes a law to the Society.
Prest. Smith proceeded to give counsel— do not injure the character of any one— if members of the Society shall conduct improperly, deal with them, and keep all your doings within your own bosoms, and hold all characters sacred—
. . .
Elder Taylor offered an amendment, that it be called The Nauvoo Female Benevolent Society which would give a more definite and extended idea of the Institution— that Relief be struck out and Benevolent inserted.
Prest. Smith offer’d instruction on votes— [p. 10]
The motion was seconded by Counsellor Cleveland and unanimously carried, on the amendment by Elder Taylor.
The Prest. then suggested that she would like an argument with Elder Taylor on the words Relief and Benevolence.
Prest. J. Smith mov’d that the vote for amendment, be rescinded, which was carried—
Motion for adjournment by Elder Richards and objected by Prest. J. Smith.—
Prest. J. Smith— Benevolent is a popular term— and the term Relief is not known among popular Societies— Relief is more extended in its signification than Benevolent and might extend to the liberation of the culprit— and might be wrongly construed by our enemies to say that the Society was to relieve criminals from punishment &c. &c— to relieve a murderer, which would not be a benevolent act—
Prest. Emma Smith, said the popularity of the word benevolent is one great objection— no person can think of the word as associated with public Institutions, without thinking of the Washingtonian Benevolent Society which was one of the most corrupt Institutions of the day— do not wish to have it call’d after other Societies in the world—
Prest. J. Smith arose to state that he had no objection to the word Relief— that on question they ought to deliberate candidly and investigate all subjects.
Counsellor Cleveland arose to remark concerning the question before the house, that we should not regard [p. 11] the idle speech of our enemies— we design to act in the name of the Lord— to relieve the wants of the distressed, and do all the good we can.—
Eliza R. Snow arose and said that she felt to concur with the President, with regard to the word Benevolent, that many Societies with which it had been associated, were corrupt,— that the popular Institutions of the day should not be our guide— that as daughters of Zion, we should set an example for all the world, rather than confine ourselves to the course which had been heretofore pursued— one objection to the word Relief is, that the idea associated with it is that of some great calamity— that we intend appropriating on some extraordinary occasions instead of meeting the common occurrences—
Prest. Emma Smith remark’d— we are going to do something extraordinary— when a boat is stuck on the rapids with a multitude of Mormons on board we shall consider that a loud call for relief— we expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls—
Elder Taylor arose and said— I shall have to concede the point— your arguments are so potent I cannot stand before them— I shall have to give way—
Prest. J. S. said I also shall have to concede the point, all I shall have to give to the poor, I shall give to this Society—
Counsellor Whitney mov’d, that this Society be call’d The Nauvoo Female Relief Society— second. by Counsellor Cleveland—
E. R. Snow offer’d an amendment by way of transposition of words, instead of The Nauvoo Female Relief Society, it shall be call’d The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo— Seconded by Prest. J. Smith and carried— [p. 12]
The previous question was then put— Shall this Society be call’d The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo?— carried unanimously.—
Prest. J. Smith— I now declare this Society organiz’d with President and Counsellors &c. according to Parliamentary usages— and all who shall hereafter be admitted into this Society must be free from censure and receiv’d by vote—
. . .
Prest. E. Smith then arose and proceeded to make appropriate remarks on the object of the Society— its duties to others also its relative duties to each other Viz. to seek out and relieve the distressed— that each member should be ambitious to do good— that the members should deal frankly with each other— to watch over the morals— and be very careful <of> the character and reputation— of the members of the Institution &c.
. . .
Prest. E. Smith said that Mrs. Merrick is a widow— is industrious— performs her work well, therefore recommend her to the patronage of such as wish to hire needlework— those who hire widows must be prompt to pay and inasmuch as some have defrauded the laboring widow of her wages, we must be upright and deal justly—
. . .
Elder T. then arose and address’d the Society by saying that he is much gratified in seeing a meeting of this kind in Nauvoo— his heart rejoices when he sees the most distinguished characters, stepping forth in such a cause, which is calculated to bring into exercise every virtue and give scope to the benevolent feelings of the female heart— he rejoices to see this Institution organiz’d according to the law of Heaven— according to a revelation previously given to Mrs E. Smith appointing her to this important calling— and to see all things moving forward in such a glorious manner— his prayer is that the blessings of God and the peace of heaven may rest on this Institution henceforth——
. . .
Prest. E. Smith then rose and said that measures to promote union in this Society must be carefully attended to— that every member should be held in full fellowship— as a society, hop’d they would divest themselves of every jealousy and evil feeling toward each other, if any such existed— that we should bring our conduct into respectability, here & eveery where else— said she rejoic’d in the prospect before her——.
. . .
Mrs. Mary Smith then rose and said the Institutution had her hearty concurrence— that nothing was more laudable than feeding the hungry, clothing the naked &c.— that she desired to aid in accomplishing objects so generous.
Mrs. Vilote Kimball said she had not fully understood what were the objects of the Institution but desired to be found aiding in every benevolent cause [p. 16]
Prest. E. Smith said, no one need feel delicate in reference to inquiries about this Society— there is nothing private— its objects are purely benevolent.
Mother Lucy Smith arose and said she rejoic’d in view of what was doing— as she came in and look’d upon the sisters, it gave her feelings of deep interest— Wept— said she was advanc’d in years and could not stay long— hop’d the Lord would bless and aid the Society in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked— that her work was nearly done— felt to pray that the blessings of heaven might rest upon the Society.
Prest. E. Smith rose and read from the Book of records, the proceedings of the first meeting of the Society— She then proceeded to read to the honorable body, a report, wherein Clarissa Marvel was accus’d of scandalous falsehoods on the character of Prest. Joseph Smith, without the least provocation, praying that they would in wisdom adopt some plan to bring her to repentance— said she presum’d that most of the Society knew more about Clarissa Marvel than herself——
Mrs. Agnes Smith said Clarissa Marvel had liv’d with her nearly a year— she had seen nothing amiss of her—
Councillor [Elizabeth Ann] Whitney propos’d that some one be appointed to go and labor with her and if possible reform her——
Mov’d and carried that Mrs. Markam be one to go and converse with C. Marvel.
Mrs. Markam objected on the ground that she was unacquainted with the circumstances. [p. 17]
Prest. Smith said that would make no difference— she could attend to it— that it should be be done in a private manner, with great prudence—
Mrs. Prest. continued, by saying that we intend to look into the morals of each other and watch over each other— that she intended to walk circumspectly and to shun the appearance of evil— all are required to be very careful in their words and actions at all times— said she believed Clarissa Marvel might be reform’d.
Mrs. Billings inquired if C. M. had parents.
Prest. Smith said she has no parents— she is under our care and observation— she needs friends——
Mrs. [Elizabeth] Jones enquired if the proceedings of this Society should be divulged out of the Society
Prest. Smith said all proceedings that regard difficulties should be kept among the members— as to the Institution, its objects are charitable— none can object to telling the good— the evil withhold— hoped all would feel themselves bound to observe this rule.
Councillor Whitney said she felt deeply interested— thought we could not take too much pains in this matter— to avoid all evil— We must avoid the appearance of evil— we must pray much for each other that we may succeed in the work before us and have wisdom given us in all our pursuits.——
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Mother Lucy Smith said— this Institution is a good one— we must watch over ourselves— that she came into the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to do good— to get good, and to get into the celestial kingdom. She said we must [p. 18] cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together.
Mrs. Hillman rose and said she was contemplating the blessings with which we were surrounded— the privileges of this Society— said she desir’d to be watch’d over and aided in the better performance of her duty.—
Prest. Smith said all who wish’d should have informatio[n] respecting this Society; as they would be published.— She hinted the propriety of having Auxiliary Societies form’d in other parts of the City— any one who felt dispos’d might send in a request to this effect— said it was the duty of every person to inquire into the condition of the poor and represent their true state.
. . .
Mrs Markam exprest her satisfaction in being in a situation to bring her abilities into action— said it was her aim to walk humbly before God. desired the prayers of the Society that she might be enabled to do whatever the Lord should require at her hands—
. . .
Prest. J. Smith arose— spoke of the organization of the Society— said he was deeply interested that it might be built up to the Most High in an acceptable manner— that its rules must be observed— that none should be received into the Society but those who were worthy— propos’d that the Society go into a close examination of every candidate— that they were going too fast— that the Society should grow up by degrees— should commence with a few individuals— thus have a select Society of the virtuous and those who will walk circumspectly— commended them for their zeal but said sometimes their zeal was not according to knowledge— One principal object of the Institution, was to purge out iniquity— said they must be extremely careful in all their examinations or the consequences would be serious
Said all difficulties which might & would cross our way must be surmounted, though the soul be tried, the heart faint, and hands hang down— must not retrace our steps— that there must be decision of character aside from sympathy— that when instructed we must obey that voice, observe the Constitution that the blessings of heaven may rest down upon us— all must act in concert or nothing can be done— that the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood, hence there should be a select Society separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuou[s] and holy— Said he was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests an in Enoch’s day— as in Pauls day— that it is the privilege of each member to live long [p. 22] and enjoy health— Prest. Smith propos’d that the ladies [gentlemen] withdraw, that the Society might proceed to business— that those wishing to join should have their names presented at the next meeting.——
. . .
Mother [Lucy Mack] Smith rose and said she was glad the time had come that iniquity could be detected and reproach thrown off from the heads of the church— We come into the church to be sav’d— that we may live in peace and sit down in the kingdom of heaven— If we listen to, and circulate every evil report we shall idly spend the time which should be appropriated to the reading the Scriptures, the Book of Mormon— we must remember the words of Alma— pray much at morning, noon and night— feed the poor &c.— She said she was old— could not meet with the Society but few times more— and wish’d to leave her testimony that the Book of Mormon is the book of God— that Joseph is a man of God, a prophet of the Lord set apart to lead the people— If we observe his words it will be well with us; if we live righteously on earth, it will be well with us in Eternity——
Councillor Cleveland arose and address’d mother Smith, returning thanks for her testimony, and counsel— express’d many good wishes; that she [p. 24] might receive much comfort and consolation in this Society— that the Lord would lengthen her days— that she may cheer the Society with her presence, aid it by her counsels and prayrs long before she shall take her departure to sit down by the side of her beloved Partner.
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Prayer by Prest. Emma Smith— after which Councillor [Sarah] Cleveland arose and address’d the meeting, informing them that the case of Clarissa M[arvel] had been satisfactorily settled she having testified in her own hand writing that she had said no wrong &c. Mrs. C. continued by cautioning the Society against speaking evil of Prest. J. Smith and his companion— that it would not be a light thing in the sight of God— that they had prov’d themselves; and the case of C. M. should be a warning, how we hear and how we speak— express’d her fears that the Lord would cut off those who will not take counsel &c.
. . .
Prest. E. Smith arose and address’d the meeting by saying that the disagreeable busines of searching out those that were iniquitous, seem’d to fall on her— [p. 26] said it was an unpleasant task, but her desire was to do good— wish’d all the members of this Society to assist her— said it was necessary to begin at home— to eradicate all evil from our own hearts— and warn those who wish to join, with us, to come calculating to divest themselves of every thing wrong and unite to expose iniquity, to search it out and put it away— She said the Society had other duties to attend to than seeing to the wants of the poor. Exhorted the members so to conduct as to have the honor of commencing a good work and of carrying it out— enforc’d the necessity of walking in a manner that would be approbated of God.
. . .
Miss [Eliza R.] Snow after making observations with regard to the Society— the importance of acting in wisdom & walking humbly before God &c. said she had a blessing for Mrs. Buel, that inasmuch as she had become a member of [p. ] this Society, as the spirit of a person pervades every member of the body, so shall the Spirit of the Lord which pervades this Society be with her— she shall feel it and rejoice— she shall be blest whereever she is, and the Lord shall open the way and she shall be instrumental in doing much,— thro’ her own exertions by the instrumentality of others, she shall be enabled to contribute much to the fund of the Society— she shall warm up the hearts of those who are cold and dormant, and shall be instrumental in doing much good—
Mrs. [Abigail] Leonard, Councillor W. and Councillor C. bore testimony to the truth of what Miss Snow had said to Mrs. Buel—
Councillor Cleveland stated that she many times felt in her heart, what she could not express it in our own language, and as the Prophet had given us liberty to improve the gifts of the gospel in our meetings, and feelings the power resting upon, desired to speak in the gift of tongues; which she did in a powerful manner.
Mrs. Sessions arose and gave the interpretation of what Councillor C. had spoken in an unknown tongue, and said that God was well pleas’d with this Society, that if we would be humble and faithful the Lord would pour out upon the members generally the gift of prophecy— that when the speaker laid her hand on the head of Sister Snow, she said that not only she should have the spirit but that all should have it also— that the speaker then address’d herself to Mother Smith saying that the prayers of father Smith were now answered upon the members of the Society— that the days of Mother S. should be prolong’d and she should meet many times with the Society, should enjoy much in the society of the [p. ] sisters & shall hereafter be crown’d a mother of those that shall prove faithful &c.
The meeting was very interesting, nearly all present arose & spoke, and the spirit of the Lord like a purifying stream, refreshed every heart.
. . .
President Smith arose and said that the purport of his being present on the occasion was, to make observations respecting the Priesthood, and give instructions for the benefit of the Society That as his instructions were intended only for the Society; he requested that a vote should be taken on those present who were not members, to ascertain whether they should be admitted— he exhorted the meeting to act honestly and uprightly in all their proceedings— inasmuch as they would be call’d to give an account to Jehovah. All hearts must repent— be pure and God will regard them and bless them in a manner that they could not be bless’d in any other way—
. . .
Committee retir’d— and Prest. J. Smith arose and call’d the attention of the meeting to the 12th Chap. of 1st Cor. “Now concerning spiritual gifts” &c.— Said that the passage which reads “no man can say that Jesus is the the Christ <Lord> but by the holy ghost,” should be translated, no man can know &c
He continued to read the Chap. and give instructions respecting the different offices, and the necessity of every individual acting in the sphere allotted him or her; and filling the several offices to which they were appointed— Spoke of the disposition of man, to consider the lower offices in the church dishonorable and to look with jealous eyes upon the standing of others— that it was the nonsense of the human heart, for a person to be aspiring to other stations than appointed of God— that it was better for individuals to magnify their respective callings, and wait patiently till God shall say to them come up higher. He said the reason of these remarks being made, was, that some little thing was circulating in the Society, that some persons [p. ] were not going right in laying hands on the sick &c. Said if he had common sympathies, would rejoice that the sick could be heal’d: that the time had not been before, that these things could be in their proper order— that the church is not now organiz’d in its proper order, and cannot be until the Temple is completed—— Prest. Smith continued the subject by adverting to the commission given to the ancient apostles “Go ye into all the world” &c.— no matter who believeth; these signs, such as healing the sick, casting out devils &c. should follow all that believe whether male or female. He ask’d the Society if they could not see by this sweeping stroke, that wherein they are ordaind, it is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority which is confer’d on them— and if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let every thing roll on.
He said, if God has appointed him, and chosen him as an instrument to lead the church, why not let him lead it through? Why stand in the way, when he is appointed to do a thing? Who knows the mind of God? Does he not reveal things differently from what we expect?— He remark’d that he was continually rising— altho’ he had every thing bearing him down— standing in his way and opposing— after all he always comes out right in the end.
Respecting the female laying on hands, he further remark’d, there could be no devil in it if God gave his sanction by healing— that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water— that it is no sin for any body to do it that has faith, or if the sick has faith to be heal’d by the administration.
He reprov’d those that were dispos’d to find fault with the management of concerns— saying if he undertook to lead the church he would lead it right— that he calculates to organize the church in proper order &c. [p. ]
President Smith continued by speaking of the difficulties he had to surmount ever since the commencement of the work in consequence of aspiring men, “great big Elders” as he call’d them, who had caused him much trouble, whom he had taught in the private counsel; and they would go forth into the world and ploclaim [proclaim] the things he had taught them; as their own revelations— said the same aspiring disposition will be in this Society, and must be guarded against— that every person should stand and act in the place appointed, and thus sanctify the Society and get it pure—
He said he had been trampled underfoot by aspiring Elders, for all were infected with that spirit, for instance P[arley P.] Pratt O[rson] Pratt, O[rson] Hyde and J[ohn E.] Page had been aspiring— they could not be exalted but must run away as tho’ the care and authority of the church were vested with them— he said we had a subtle devil to deal with, and could only curb him by being humble.
He said as he had this opportunity, he was going to instruct the Society and point out the way for them to conduct, that they might act according to the will of God— that he did not know as he should have many opportunities of teaching them— that they were going to be left to themselves,— they would not long have him to instruct them— that the church would not have his instruction long, and the world would not be troubled with him a great while, and would not have his teachings— He spoke of delivering the keys to this Society and to the church— that according to his prayers God had appointed him elsewhere
He exhorted the sisters always to concentrate their faith and prayers for, and place confidence, in those whom God has appointed to honor, whom God has plac’d at the head to lead— that we should arm them with our prayers.— [p. ] that the keys of the kingdom are about to be given to them, that they may be able to detect every thing false— as well as to the Elders
He said if one member becomes corrupt and you know it; you must immediately put it away. The sympathies of the heads of the church have induc’d them to bear with those that were corrupt; in consequence of which all become contaminated— you must put down iniquity and by your good example provoke the Elders to good works— if you do right, no danger of going too fast: he said he did not care how fast we run in the path of virtue. Resist evil and there is no danger. God, men, angels, and devils can’t condemn those that resist every thing that is evil— as well might the devil seek to dethrone Jehovah, as that soul that resists every thing that is evil.
The charitable Society— this is according to your natures— it is natural for females to have feelings of charity— you are now plac’d in a situatio[n] where you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms. If you live up to these principles how great and glorious!— if you live up to your privilege, the angels cannot be restrain’d from being your associates— females, if they are pure and innocent can come into the presence of God; for what is more pleasing to God than innocence; you must be innocent or you cannot come up before God. If ye <we> would come before God let us be pure ourselves. The devil has great power— he will so transform things as to make one gape at those who are doing the will of God— You need not be tearing men for their deeds, but let the weight of innocence be felt; which is more mighty than a millstone hung about the neck. Not war, not jangle, not contradiction, but meekness, love, purity, these are the things that should magnify us.— Achan must be brought to light— iniquity must be purged out— then the vail will be rent and the blessings of heaven will flow down [p. ]— they will roll down like the Missisippi river. This Society shall have power to command Queens in their midst— I now deliver it as a prophecy that before ten years shall roll round, the queens of the earth shall come and pay their respects to this Society— they shall come with their millions and shall contribute of their abundance for the relief of the poor— If you will be pure, nothing can hinder.
After this instruction, you will be responsible for your own sins. It is an honor to save yourself yourselves— all are responsible to save themselves.
Prest. Smith, after reading from the above mentioned Chapter, continued to give instruction respecting the order of God, as established in the church; saying every one should aspire only to magnify his own office &c.——
He then commenc’d reading the 13th chapter, “Though I speak with the tongues of men” &c; and said don’t be limited in your views with regard to your neighbors’ virtues, but be limited towards your own virtues; and not think yourselves more righteous than others; you must enlarge your souls toward others if yould [you would?] do like Jesus, and carry your fellow creatures to Abram’s bosom.
He said he had manifested long suffering and we must do so too—— Prest. Smith then read, “Though I have the gift of prophecy” &c. He then said, though one should become mighty— do great things— overturn mountains &c and should then turn to eat and drink with the drunken; all former deeds would not save him— but he would go to destruction!
As you increase in innocence and virtue, as you increase in goodness, let your hearts expand— let them be enlarged towards others— you must be longsuff’ring and bear with the faults and errors of mankind. How precious are the souls of men!— The female part of community are apt to be [p. ] contracted in their views. You must not be contracted, but you must be liberal in your feelings.
Let this Society teach how to act towards husbands to treat them with mildness and affection. When a man is borne down with trouble— when he is perplex’d; if he can meet a smile, an argument— if he can meet with mildness, it will calm down his soul and soothe his feelings. When the mind is going to despair, it needs a solace.
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This Society is to get instruction thro’ the order which God has established— thro’ the medium of those appointed to lead— and I now turn the key to you in the name of God and this Society shall rejoice and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time— this is the beginning of better days, to this Society
When you go home never give a cross word, but let kindness, charity and love, crown your works henceforward. Don’t envy sinners— have mercy on them, God will destroy them.— Let your labors be confin’d mostly to those around you in your own circle; as far as knowledge is concerned, it may extend to all the world, but your administrations, should be confin’d to the circle of your immediate acquaintance, and more especially to the members of the Society.
Those ordain’d to lead the Society, are authoriz’d to appoint to different offices as the circumstances shall require.
If any have a matter to reveal, let it be in your own tongue. Do not indulge too much in the gift of tongues, or the devil will take advantage of the innocent. You may speak in tongues for your comfort but I lay this down for a rule that if any thing is [p. ] is taught by the gift of tongues, it is not to be received for doctrine.
Prest. S. then offered instruction respecting the propriety of females administering to the sick by the laying on of hands— said it was according to revelation &c. said he never was plac’d in similar circumstances, and never had given the same instruction.
He clos’d his instructions by expressing his satisfaction in improving the opportunity.
The spirit of the Lord was pour’d out in a very powerful manner, never to be forgotten by those present on that interesting occasion.
. . .
Prest. J. Smith said that in his opinion, all men now considered in good standing, holding notes [p. ] against <whom> widows, hold notes; if they will not pay them, ought to be discountenanc’d by the Relief Society—
. . .
Councillor Whitney then rose and said, she was burthened in mind in thinking of existing evils in the church— was desirous that this Society become more obedient to the gospel in keeping all the commandments— exhorted them to humility and watchfulness— said the more she had heard and seen of corrupt members, the more she was stimulated to faithfulness— that the gifts and blessings of the gospel were ours, if found faithful and pure before God &c.
Mrs. Prest. said this day was an evil day— that [p. ] there is as much evil in this as in any other place— said she would that this Society were pure before God— that she was afraid that under existing circumstances, the sisters were not careful enough to expose iniquity— the time had been when charity had covered a multitude of sins— but now it is necessary that sin should be expos’d— that heinous sins were among us— that much of this iniquity was practiced by some in authority, pretending to be sanction’d by Prest. Smith.
Mrs. Prest. continued by exhorting all who had err’d to repent and forsake their sins— said that satan’s forces were against this church— that every saint should be at the post
Councillor [Sarah] Cleveland said the same stratagems were now employ’d, as anciently in Balaam’s time, when he was required to curse Israel and could not— yet they were drawn into sin thro’ the propensities of their natures— so with this people the gentiles cannot curse them— but can draw them into iniquity.
. . .
Prest. J. Smith rose, read the 14th Chap. of Ezekiel— said the Lord had declar’d by the prophet that the people should each one stand for himself and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church— that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls— app[l]ied it to the present state of the church of Latter-Day Saints— said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall— that they were depending on the prophet hence were darkened in their minds from neglect of themselves— envious toward the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy.
There is another error which opens a door for the adversary to enter. As females possess refin’d feelings and sensitivenes[s], they are also subject to an overmuch zeal which must ever prove dangerous, and cause them to be rigid in a religious capacity— should be arm’d with mercy notwithstanding the iniquity among us. Said he had been instrumental in bringing it to light— melancholy and awful that so many are under the condemnation of the devil & going to perdition.
With deep feeling said that they are our fellows— we lov’d them once. Shall we not encourage them to reformation?
We have not forgivn them seventy times— perhaps we have not forgiven them once. There is now a day of salvation to such as repent and reform— they should be cast out from this Society, yet we should woo them to return to God lest they escape not the damnation of hell!
When there is a mountain top there also is a vally— we should act in all things an a proper medium— to every immortal spirit. Notwithstanding the unworthy are among us, the virtuous should not from self-importance grieve and oppress needlessly those unfortunate ones, even [p. ] these should be encourag’d to hereafter live to be honored by this Society who are the best portions of community. Said he had two things to recommend to the Society, to put a double watch over the tongue. No organiz’d body can exist without this at all. All organiz’d bodies have their peculiar evils, weaknesses and difficulties— the object is to make those not so good, equal with the good and ever hold the keys of pow’r which will influence to virtue and goodness. Should chasten and reprove and keep in it all in silence, not even mention them again, then you will be established in power, virtue and holiness and the wrath of God will be turn’d away. One request to the Prest. and Society, that you search yourselves— the tongue is an unruly member— hold your tongues about things of no moment,— a little tale will set the world on fire. At this time the truth on the guilty should not be told openly— Strange as this may seem, yet this is policy. We must use precaution in bringing sinners to justice lest in exposing these heinous sins, we draw the indignation of a gentile world upon us (and to their imaginatio[n] justly too)
It is necessary to hold an influence in the world and thus spare ourselves an extermination; and also accomplish our end in spreading the gospel or holiness in the earth.
If we were brought to desolation, the disobedient would find no help. There are some who are obedient yet men cannot steady the ark— my arm can not do it— God must steady it. To the iniquitous show yourselves merciful. I am advis’d by some of the heads of the church to tell the Relief Society to be virtuous— but to save the church from desolation and the sword beware, be still, be prudent. Repent, reform but do it in a way to not destroy all around you. I do not want to cloak iniquity— all things contrary to the will [p. ] of God, should be cast from us, but dont do more hurt than good with your tongues— be pure in heart— Jesus designs to save the people out of their sins. Said Jesus ye shall do the work which ye see me do— These are the grand key words for the Society to act upon.
If I were not in your midst to aid and council you, the devil would overcome you. I want the innocent to go free— rather spare ten iniquitous among you than than condemn one innocent one. “Fret not thyself because of evil doers.” God will see to it.
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Mrs. Prest. rose and said all idle rumor and idle talk must be laid aside yet sin must not be covered, especially those sins which are against the law of God and the laws of the country— all who walk disorderly must reform, and any knowing of heinous sins against the law of God, and refuse to expose them, becomes the offender— said she wanted none in this Society who had violated the laws of virtue.
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Bishop Whitney arose and after some preliminary remarks, proceeded to address the congregation by saying that he rejoic’d and did rejoice at the formation of the Society that we might improve upon our talents and to prepare for those blessings which God is soon to bestow upon us.
In the beginning God created man male and female and bestow’d upon man certain blessings peculiar to a man of God, of which woman partook, so that without the female all things cannot be restor’d to the earth it takes all to restore the Priesthood. It is the intent of the Society, by humility and faithfulness; in connexion with those husbands that are found worthy. Rejoice while contemplating the blessings which will be pour’d out on the heads of the saints. God has many precious things to bestow, even to our astonishment if we are faithful. I say again I rejoice in the prospect of what lays before. It becomes us to prepare by striving for union one with another, that we may be prepar’d for the day of choosing— man will not choose but God will say who is and who is not worthy.
We must humble ourselves and live by the rule given for our practice— we must lose sight of vain things and remember that the eye of God is upon us. If we are striving to do right, altho’ we may err in judgment many times yet we are justified in the sight of God if we do the best we can according to our judgment. We need not go astray [p. ] if we will strive in all the energy of our souls to do right.
I rejoice that God has given us means whereby we may get intelligence and instruction. It is our privilege to stand in an attitude to get testimony for ourselves— it is as much our privilege as that of the ancients saints. We must prove all things and hold fast that which is good. There are blessings lying before which are worth striving to obtain. It is our duty to humble ourselves— it is our most reasonable service to do it— must proceed to receive grace for grace, light and intelligence— if we have intelligence we have pow’r— knowledge is power: if we understand all things we shall not be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of God. I desire all evil things may be done away; but far as possible throw the vail of charity over failings— when we see one out of the way, we ought in humility to go to, and counsel, and strive to bring back those who have stray’d from the holy principles— we must do as we would wish to be done by, this is the way to win souls and bring them back. There are many things to be taken into consideration. Far be it from me to harbor iniquity and outbreaking sins. We may have different views of things, still there is some criterion which all may come to, and by bringing our minds and wills into subjection to the law of the Lord, may come to unity.
It is impossible while finding fault with one another to be united. Would to God I had pow’r to bridle my tongue—We are <am> too apt when I hear anything, to make remarks, but of late have decreed to set a double watch on my tongue and not offend one of the little ones. I wish nobody harm— wish it were in my pow’r to save all within the reach of mercy— would glory in it. Perhaps some would say from my past life that I had not been so faithful as I might have heen, or my voice would [p. ] oftener have been heard in the congregation of the saints, but I rejoice in God that it is as well with me as it is. I assure you there are great blessings before, that would astonish you if you could behold them. I came here for the purpose of hearing Prest. Smith and of being instructed by him. I wish to encourage you to persevere in the ways of righteousness. I tell you there are blessings before to be confer’d as soon as our hearts are prepar’d to receive them.— you have my heart’s desire for the prosperity of the Society and pray my heav’nly Father that you may go on and glorify your profession.
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Prest J. Smith opened the meeting by pray’r and proceeded to address the congregation on the design of the Institution— said it is no matter how fast the Society increases if all are virtuous— that we must be as particular with regard to the character of members, as when the Society first started— that sometimes persons wish to put themselves into a Society of this kind, when they do not intend to pursue the ways of purity and righteousness, as if the Society would be a shelter to them in their iniquity.
Prest. S. said that henceforth no person shall be admitted but by presenting regular petition signed by two or three members in good standing in the Society— whoever comes in must be of good report.
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Objections previously made against Mahala Overton were remov’d— after which Prest Smith continued his address— said he was going to preach mercy Supposing that Jesus Christ and angels should object to us on frivolous things, what would become of us? We must be merciful and overlook small things.
Respecting the reception of Sis. Overton, Prest. Smith It grieves me that there is no fuller fellowship— if one member suffer all feel it— by union of feeling we obtain pow’r with God. Christ said he came to call sinners to repentance and save them. Christ was condemn’d by the righteous jews because he took sinners into his society— he took them <up> on the principle that they [p. ] repented of their sins. It is the object of this Society to reform persons, not to take those that are corrupt, but if they repent we are bound to take them and by kindness sanctify and cleanse from all unrighteousness, by our influence in watching over them— nothing will have such influence over people, as the fear of being disfellowship’d by so goodly a Society as this. Then take Sis. O. as Jesus received sinners into his bosom.
Sis. O. In the name of the Lord I now make you free, and from this hour if any thing should be found against you
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Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what pow’r it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind.
It is one evidence that men are unacquainted with the principle of godliness, to behold the contraction of feeling and lack of charity. The pow’r and glory of Godliness is spread out on a broad principle to throw out the mantle of charity. God does not look on sin with allowance, but when men have sin’d there must be allowance made for them.
All the religious world is boasting of righteousness— tis the doctrine of the devil to retard the human mind and retard our progress, by filling us with selfrighteousness— The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more are we dispos’d to look with compassion on perishing souls— to take them upon our shoulders and cast their sins behind our back. [blank] I am going to talk to all this Society— if you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another.
Prest. S. then refer’d them to the conduct of the Savior when he was taken and crucified &c.
He then made a promise in the name of the [p. ] Lord saying, that soul that has righteousness enough to ask God in the secret place for life, every day of their lives shall live to three score years & ten— We must walk uprightly all day long— How glorious are the principles of righteousness! We are full of selfishness— the devil flatters us that we are very righteous, while we are feeding on the faults of others— We can only live by worshipping our God— all must do it for themselves— none can do it for another. How mild the Savior dealt with Peter, saying “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”— at an other time he said to him “lovest thou me? “Feed my sheep”.— If the sisters love the Lord let them feed the sheep and not destroy them. How oft have wise men & women sought to dictate br. Joseph by saying “O if I were br. Joseph I would do this and that.” But if they were in br. Joseph’s shoes, they would find that men could not be compel’d into the kingdom of God, but must be dealt with in long suff’ring— and at last we shall save them. The way to keep all the saints together and keep the work rolling, is to wait with all long suff’ring till God shall bring such character to justice. There should be no license for sin, but mercy should go hand in hand with reproof.
Sisters of this Society, shall there be strife among you? I will not have it— you must repent and get the love of God. Away with selfrighteousness. The best measure or principle to bring the poor to repentance is to administer to their wants— the Society is not only to relieve the poor, but to save souls.
Prest. S. then said that he would give a lot of land to the Society by deeding it to the Treasurer, that the Society may build houses for the poor. He also said he would give a house— frame not finished— said that br. [p. ] [Reynolds] Cahoon will move it on to the aforesaid lot, and the Society can pay him by giving Orders on the Store— that it was a good plan to set those to work who are owing widows and thus make an offsett &c. &c.
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Prest. Joseph Smith opened the meeting by addressing the Society. He commenced by expressing his happiness and thankfulness for the privilege of being present on the occasion. He said that great exertions had been made on the part of our enemies, but they had not accomplished their purpose— God had enabled him to keep out of their hands— he had war’d a good warfare inasmuch as he had whip’d out all of [John C.] Bennett’s host— his feelings at the present time were, that inasmuch as the Lord Almighty had preserv’d him today. He said it reminded him of the Savior, when he said to the pharisees, “Go ye and tell that fox, Behold I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” &c.
He said he expected the heavenly Father had decreed that the Missourians shall not get him— if they do, it will be because he does not keep out of the way.
Prest. S. continued by saying, I shall triumph over my enemies— I have begun to triumph over them at home and I shall do it abroad— all those that rise up against me will feel the weight of their iniquity upon their own heads— those that speak evil are abominable characters— and full of iniquity— All the fuss and all the stir against me, is like the jack in the lantern, it cannot be found. Altho’ I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charg’d with doing— the wrong that I do is thro’ the frailty of human nature like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if he were here would be without fault in your eyes? Th[e]y said all manner of [p. ] evil against him— they all watch’d for iniquity.
How easy it was for Jesus to call out all the iniquity of the hearts of those whom he was among? The servants of the Lord are required to guard against those thing[s] that are calculated to do the most evil— the little foxes spoil the vines— little evils do the most injury to the church. If you have evil feelings and speak of them to one an other, it has a tendency to do mischief— these things result in those evils which are calculated to cut the throats of the heads of the church.
When I do the best I can— when I am accomplishing the greatest good, then the most evils are got up against me. I would to God that you would be wise. I now counsel you, if you know any thing, hold your tongues, and the least harm will be done.
The Female Relief Society has taken the the most active part in my welfare— against my enemies— in petitioning to the Governor— These measures were all necessary— Do you not see that I foresaw what was coming beforehand, by the spirit of prophesy?— All had an influence in my redemption from the hand of my enemies.
If these measures had not been taken, more serious consequences would have resulted.
I have come here to bless you. The Society has done well— their principles are to practice holiness— God loves you and your prayers in my behalf shall avail much— Let them not cease to ascend to God in my behalf. The enemy will never get weary— I expect he will array every thing against me— I expect a tremendous warfare. He that will war the christian warfare will have the angels of devils and all the infernal powers of darkness continually array’d against [p. ] him. When wicked and corrupt men oppose, it is a criterion to judge if a man is warring the christian warfare. When all men speak evil of you, blessed are ye &c. Shall a man be considered bad, when men speak evil of him? No: If a man stands and opposes the world of sin, he may expect all things array’d against him.
But it will be but a little season and all these afflictions will be turn’d away from us inasmuch as we are faithful and are not overcome by these evils. By seeing the blessings of the endowment rolling on, and the kingdom increasing and spreading from sea to sea; we will rejoice that we were not overcome by these foolish things.
Prest. S. then remark’d that a few things had been manifested to him in his absence, respecting the baptisms for the dead, which he should communicate next sabbath if nothing should occur to prevent.
Prest. S. then address’d the throne of Grace.
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Prest. J. S. remark’d that sis. Repshar had long since been advised to return to her husband— has been ascertain’d by good evidence that she left her husband without cause— that he is a moral man and a gentleman— she has got into a way of having revelations, but not the rev. of God— if she will go home we will pray for her, but if not our prayers will do no good.
Prest. S. said he had one remark to make respecting the baptism for the dead— to suffice for the time being, until he has opportunity to discuss the subject to greater length— that is, all persons baptiz’d for the dead must have a Recorder present, that he may be an eye-witness to testify of it. It will be necessary in the grand Council, that these things be testified— let it be attended to from this time, but if there is any lack it may be at the expense of our friends— they may not come forth &c.