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ELDER Z. H. GURLEY, SEN., in his plain unvarnished way, relates some of the difficulties under which they labored, and in connection with these, records some wonderful manifestations and experiences, particularly the results of a meeting held early in January, 1853, in which he speaks of certain questions being presented to the Lord in prayer, and of answers received. He writes as follows:-
"Accordingly the subject was presented as follows:-
"First. Is polygamy of God?
"Second. Is any addition necessary to the pamphlet before its publication?
"Before opening the meeting we made the church acquainted with our design, and while singing the opening hymn, the Holy Spirit was sensibly felt. Several sung in tongues, and while engaged in prayer, the veil was at least partly rent, and the manifestation of the Spirit was such as was seldom witnessed by mortals on earth. I have been a member of the church some twenty-three years, and in the course of my ministry have witnessed the manifestation of the Spirit in many of the branches, but never had witnessed what I did that evening. God was truly with us, and many felt to say with the poet, 'Angels are now hovering o'er us.' This was on the eve of the 9th of January, 1853, ever
memorable with the saints of God. About half an hour afterwards we received through the Spirit the following, as nearly as we could write it:-
"'Polygamy is an abomination in the sight of the Lord God: it is not of me; I abhor it. I abhor it, as also the doctrines of the Nicolaitans, and the men or set of men who practice it. I judge them not, I judge not those who practice it. Their works shall judge them at the last day. Be ye strong; ye shall contend against this doctrine; many will be led into it honestly, for the Devil will seek to establish it, and roll it forth to deceive.
"'They seek to build up their own kingdoms, to suit their own pleasures, but I countenance it not, saith God. I have given my law: I shrink not from my word. My law is given in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, but they have disregarded my law and trampled upon it, and counted it a light thing, and obeyed it not; but my word is the same yesterday as to-day, and forever.
"'As you have desired to know of me concerning the pamphlet, it is written in part, but not in plainness. It requires three more pages to be written, for it shall go forth in great plainness, combating this doctrine, and all who receive it not, it shall judge at the last day. Let this be the voice of the Lord in the pamphlet, for it shall go forth in great plainness, and many will obey it and turn unto me, saith the Lord.'
"This accounts for the last three pages in our first pamphlet, and we most earnestly commend that article to the careful reading of all that have ever known the latter-day work, and pray God our heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ his Son, to break every band that binds them, that they may be enabled to turn to the law from which they have strayed.
"Shortly after this communication was given, it was intimated by the Spirit that we must organize. This was strange teaching to me. I replied, It is impossible for us to organize farther than we have. I knew that we could not create a priesthood. I conversed with several of the brethren on the subject and we set it down as a mistake. It
was now March. Our April conference was near at hand, and we were unable to decide on the validity of the ordinations of our brethren, who were present at the fall conference, and as we all felt satisfied with the answer to our inquiry concerning polygamy, we thought the most proper course for us was to make this also a subject of prayer. Accordingly we presented a question something like this: 'Were those ordained apostles by William Smith recognized by God?'
"The manifestation of the Spirit was fully equal to any on former occasions, and perhaps it is well to say that this was the first time that the angels of God were seen present in our meetings. I did not see them, but before they were seen the Spirit declared through me that they were near, and immediately after several were transfixed as it were, by the power of God, as were many in the days of King Benjamin.
"Some little time elapsed, nearly an hour I judge, before we received an answer to our inquiry. We were then told that those ordinations were not acceptable,-were not of God,-and near the close of the communication we were told expressly to organize ourselves, 'for ere long, saith the Lord, I will require the prophet at your hand.' Such was the manifestation of the power of God, that not a doubt was left on our minds concerning the source from which the commandment came. We all knew it was from God, but how to organize was the question. We knew we could not create priesthood, we had two high priests, and one Senior President of the Seventies; but how could these men organize the church? It was impossible, utterly impossible. We counseled upon it, and concluded that possibly under the present circumstances, it might be right for high priests to ordain high priests, and for the Senior President of Seventies to ordain seventies, but when done what would it accomplish? Nothing-just nothing. We were in trouble-deep trouble. To refuse to organize was disobedience; to go forward in the attempt was darkness. There was but one alternative, and that was to seek wisdom from above.
"We sought, and in answer were told to appoint a day
and come together fasting and praying, and the Lord would show us how to organize. We therefore appointed the day, dismissed the meeting, and went home rejoicing. Immediately after our meeting we discovered that the 'Prince of Darkness' was fully bent on preventing us from receiving the communication. We came together on the day appointed, and found that some had not fasted as commanded, and as several were present who did not belong to the church, it was thought best to omit our prayer meeting till evening, and spend the day in preaching. Before evening the way was made clear, and at night all came together in good faith, rejoicing that we had the opportunity of seeking for the information we needed; viz., how to organize the church.
"We then presented the following question:-
"First. Will the Lord please to tell us how to organize, that what we do may be acceptable unto him, and who among us will he acknowledge as the representative of the 'legal heir' to the Presidency of the Church?
"There was not so much of the manifestation of the Spirit at this time as upon former occasions, nevertheless a good feeling and influence prevailed. After the meeting had continued about one hour, a man belonging to the Brighamites, about half drunk, came in, and took a seat among us. Shortly after this a brother came to me and asked if I had received any answer to our question. I said 'no.' He said 'I have.' At my request he sat down and wrote it. It read as follows:-
"'Verily, thus saith the Lord, as I said unto my servant Moses, "See thou do all things according to the pattern," so say I unto you. Behold, the pattern is before you. It is my will that you respect authority in my church; therefore let the greatest among you preside at your conference. Let three men be appointed by the conference to select seven men from among you, who shall compose a majority of the Twelve Apostles; for it is my will that that quorum should not be filled up at present. Let the President of the Conference, assisted by two others, ordain them. (The senior of them shall preside.) Let them select twelve men
from among you, and ordain them to compose my High Council. Behold, ye understand the order of the Bishopric, the Seventy, the Elders, the Priests, Teachers, and Deacons. These organize according to the pattern. Behold, I will be with you unto the end; even so. Amen.'"-True Latter Day Saints' Herald, vol. 1, pp. 53-55. 1
On April 6,1853, conference assembled at Zarahemla, Wisconsin, and continued in session three days, J. W. Briggs presiding, H. H. Deam clerk; during which the following important business was done, as well as some local and some routine business. Ethan Griffiths, William Cline, and Cyrus Newkirk were chosen a committee, according to former commandment, to select seven men for ordination to the office of apostle. They selected Zenos H. Gurley, Sen., Henry H. Deam, Jason W. Briggs; Daniel B. Rasey, John Cunningham, George White, and Reuben Newkirk, who were ordained according to the commandment.
Samuel Blair was sustained as Recorder; Jason W. Briggs was appointed Church Historian.
A Stake of Zion was appointed at Argyle, Wisconsin, to be known as the Zarahemla stake, over which William Cline was appointed to preside, with Cyrus Newkirk and Isaac Butterfield as his counselors.
The following were ordained seventies: David Newkirk, William Newkirk, Ira Guilford, William Cline, Jr., George Godfrey, William Smith, William Hartshorn, Horace H. Ovitt, William White, Edwin Wildermuth, Benjamin R. Tatum, John S. Newberry, Ethan Griffith, Major Godfrey, Samuel Blair, William Griffith, George W. Harlow, John Butterfield, Isaiah Harlow, and William Harlow.
Of the events in connection with this conference and the trials incident to its organization, Elder Gurley wrote as follows:-
"The 6th of April finally came, and nearly all the church
1This revelation is quoted from the Herald, but corrected to read with the revelation as written by J. W. Briggs, Church Historian. (See Messenger, vol. 2, p. 21.)
came together. On the 5th, as we had been commanded to organize, we thought it advisable to seek for instructions. We accordingly called a prayer meeting, and as we did not get the desired instruction, we continued it on the 6th. We were then told to organize by what was written. We supposed this referred to the books, of course. Our next step was to organize the conference. This was now a difficult matter. As I have said, it had become a law to us that the one holding the highest priesthood should preside. There were present two high priests, and one Senior President of the Seventies. The question now arose, Whose priesthood is the highest? The subject was discussed at length, and what was strange to us all, a good deal of ill feeling was manifest.
"I have often thought of it. It seemed as though each one thought that the salvation of the church depended on the decision being made according to their respective views, so we argued, so we debated, till the close of the second day, when we began to think the work was lost; and would to God that all Latter Day Saints could know the situation of the church at this time; our feelings; our deep distress; our great anxiety. I considered all was lost-lost-lost! We could not organize. Oh, the bitterness of that moment! We could not see 'eye to eye.' God had commanded us to do what we absolutely could not do. To my mind, and to the mind of others, our effort was a failure. Kind reader, when your eye falls upon these lines, know that at that time the one who is now penning this asked God to remove him from the earth. Men who hitherto had been united, had seen 'eye to eye,' had labored together as one man for the cause of truth, were now opposed to each other, and after a discussion of two days, learned to their mortification and sorrow, that they, to all human appearances, were forever separate. The Spirit the night before had told a few in a prayer meeting that to-morrow they should see 'eye to eye.' But the day closed, and we were farther apart than on the former evening. Our attempts were a failure. I repeat, Oh, the bitterness of that moment! Never, never can I forget it. Although since that time, darkness, like Egyptian
night, has at times seemed to shut out all light and exclude all hope, yet the recollection of that event has enabled me to rest satisfied that he who delivered us then still holds the reins in his own hands, and will bring his work to a glorious consummation, in his own way and in his own time.
"The conference adjourned for prayer meeting in the evening. We accordingly came together at early candlelight, and commenced the meeting as is usual on such occasions. For a short time it seemed as though the 'Prince of Darkness' triumphed. After a little, one of the brethren arose and rebuked the Devil. Shortly after some sprang to their feet saying, 'Angels, angels, brethren, are near us!' and in a moment our darkness was turned into light. The transition was instantaneous. The glory of God, such as I never witnessed before, was manifest. The Spirit seemed to rest upon all in the house. Three were in vision, the Spirit testifying through others at the same time that the recording angel was present. And as we afterwards learned, two of the three who were in vision saw the roll, while the third saw the angel and the roll. Just before this manifestation, the brother through whom the revelation had come on the 20th of March, directing us how to organize, arose to his feet and said, 'Brethren, some kind of a Spirit tells me that I have the commandment written that we need.' He then said, 'I will read it, and I wish the church to pray, that we may know whether it is from God or not.' He then took out and read the revelation that was given us on the 20th of March, remarking that he was not positive that the 'senior' should preside. It was then submitted to the church. I was not aware until then that anyone but myself had this revelation. In reply to the inquiry as to whether the revelation was of God, the Spirit through a number answered that it was. We were then told that the Lord had withheld his Spirit from his elders to show them that they had not sufficient wisdom in and of themselves to organize. He said, 'If I had shown you at first, all would apostatize; as it is, many of you will apostatize; but some will remain, and they shall be a means
in my hands of bringing back others.' We were then commanded to organize according to the revelation given the 20th of March, with the assurance that the Lord would be with us to the end.
"The congregation that evening was large. The schoolhouse was filled literally full of saints, and I believe that every one was satisfied that that revelation was from God, and that the angel that keeps the record of the Lord's work in every dispensation was in our midst."-The True Latter Day Saints' Herald, vol. 1, pp. 56, 57.
Of their experience after the close of the conference Elder Gurley states:-
"The next evening after the close of this conference we had a joyful time. The Lord told us the acts of this conference were recorded in heaven; and to the seven apostles he said:-
"'I give unto you the care of my flock on earth; take the oversight of them, as you shall give an account unto me in the day of judgment.'
"I will here add a word for the benefit of others. When the commandment to organize first came we thought it impossible for us to obey, not having authority to ordain apostles, etc.; but we learned what every Latter Day Saint must learn, that a command from God is authority to do all that he requires, be it more or less."-The True Latter Day Saints' Herald, vol. 1, p. 58.
Elder Briggs commenting upon the revelation given through Elder Deam, and upon the conference following, states:-
"This . . . seemed to give sufficient light to move understandingly. Upon the assembling of the conference of April 6,1853, it was found that we were not yet prepared, for it was not determined who was the greatest, that the conference might be organized; and, moreover, few could appreciate the instruction given, and still more knew nothing of it till then, and their minds were turned towards the books to ascertain the manner to proceed. The choice of a presiding officer lay between high priests and seventies, (President of Seventy,) and upon
this, and questions relating to organization, two whole days were spent in continuous discussion, in council, with a temporary president; at the close of which a final vote was called to determine between a high priest and a seventy to preside over the conference, with the following result: Nine to nine, there being present nineteen elders, including two high priests. J. W. Briggs, one of them, was finally chosen President of the Conference, and an appeal to heaven was agreed upon in solemn prayer on the evening of April 7. This meeting is memorable in the history of the Reorganization. It was at this meeting that [there was] an exhibition of power, light, and unity of spirit, above any ever before witnessed among us. Tongues were spoken and interpreted; hymns sung in tongues and the interpretation sung; prophecy and visions were exercised here for the first time to the writer. Many sang in tongues in perfect harmony at once, as though they constituted a well practiced choir. Angels appeared and were seen by some, and a testimony of their presence given by others affirming one of them to be the recording angel, who exhibited a partially unrolled parchment as an unfinished record upon which we were assured should be recorded the act we were called to perform in the reorganization of the church, confirmation of the foregoing revelation of the 20th of March, given, enjoining obedience to the same. The evident proofs of divine direction were so strong, that doubt disappeared, while the light was so clear to all that diversity of opinion ceased, and the whole people were truly of one heart and one soul. And on the next morning, at the opening of the session, the revelation of March 20 was presented to the conference, and accepted as such by unanimous voice; after which the following persons were chosen as the three to select the seven to be ordained into the Quorum of Twelve Apostles: Cyrus Newkirk, Ethan Griffith, and William Cline, who selected the following seven persons, who were accepted by the conference, and ordained according to the instructions previously given; viz., Zenos H. Gurley [Sen.], Jason W. Briggs, Henry H. Deam, Reuben Newkirk, John Cunningham, George White, and Daniel B. Rasey. The ordinations took place in the
afternoon session, on the 8th, in the following order: Henry H. Deam was first ordained by Jason W. Briggs, (the President of the Conference,) assisted by Zenos H. Gurley and Reuben Newkirk; then Henry H. Deam, assisted by Zenos H. Gurley and Reuben Newkirk, ordained Jason W. Briggs; then Jason W. Briggs, assisted by Henry H. Deam and Reuben Newkirk, ordained Zenos H. Gurley; and then Jason W. Briggs, assisted by Henry E. Deam and Zenos H. Gurley, ordained the other four of the seven chosen."-The Messenger, vol. 2, pp. 21, 22.
The following additional items of history and logical argument in favor of the Reorganization are from the pen of Elder J. W. Briggs:-
"The closing of this conference was by a general testimony meeting, in which the various gifts were abundantly poured out; and a special charge given the seven who had been ordained into the Quorum of the Twelve, to take the oversight of the flock in the fear of the Lord, and an impressive warning against becoming heady, with an emphatic reinforcement of the precept, 'He that exalteth himself shall be abased.' That false spirits, false prophets and false christs were in the world, and should come among us to deceive, and some should follow them; but that the organization should remain. That the acts of the conference were recorded in heaven, and the faithful should realize all the promises that had been made from the beginning.
"On the last day of this conference the seven who had been ordained apostles met to choose a president of the quorum. It was proposed by J. W. Briggs, that the rule of courtesy should govern our choice; that is, that the oldest man among them should preside. Zenos H. Gurley [Sen.] being the oldest man, refused. It was then proposed (by the same) that the next oldest should preside, to which E. H. Deam being that one, refused, and both alleging that the rule of courtesy should only apply to pro tem. presidents, in the absence of the permanent one, and not to an original choice, it was then moved by them both that J. W. Briggs be the President of the Quorum, which was so voted. The
attendance at this conference was large, and deep interest prevailed throughout.
"It had been declared through the gifts that the various organizations of Latter Day Saints, under the lead of J. J. Strang, J. C. Brewster, Baneemy, Alpheus Cutler, Lyman Wight, Sidney Rigdon, Brigham Young, and others, together with some yet to arise, should one after another come to naught, and cease to be. And during the summer the elders came in contact with many of them, which served to put to the test their foundations and our own also.
"Having stated the facts relative to the first acts, thus far in reorganizing the church, it is proper to give the ideal or theory upon which these acts were justified in the minds of those who performed them; for they were none of them accidents, but deliberative, and it must be conceded, were consistent with themselves.
"First. It was affirmed that the church had been disorganized, or rejected as a church, but not as individuals.
"Second. That those individuals not rejected were entitled to ask and receive what related to them as their duty.
"Third. That these individuals, among whom were many elders, in seeking to know their duty were taught of the Lord and commanded to reorganize, or begin to set in order the church.
"Fourth. That in the discharging this duty the Presidency was left to be filled as provided by the law in the case out of our reach, to be filled by calling one forth to whom the promise pertained.
"Fifth. That as a preparation to that, the calling into power those whose duty it should be to ordain him.
"Sixth. The highest authority for the time presiding and representing the Presidency of the Church.
"And in justification of the course taken, and the principles involved, on 'the question of authority,' we have ever courted, and still do, investigation in the rigid character of the facts in the first organization. Here they are: Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ordained to the lesser priesthood by an angel; then by this authority and a commandment, they on the sixth day of April ordained each
other elders, and this eldership ordained high priests and apostles, and this high priesthood ordained, by commandment, the President of the High Priesthood, the highest office in the church; so that the alleged lesser ordained the greater, is common to both the first organization and the Reorganization alike. The same class of facts justify both or condemn both.
"But this stream, rising higher than its fountain, is only seeming, not real. By what authority, according to the law of the church, is anyone ordained? Answer, 'By the power of the Holy Ghost which is in the one who ordains him.' Instead of this then being the stream, it is the fountain itself, from which flows the stream or authority of both priesthoods, from its highest to its lowest offices. Moreover, all ordinations are performed in the name and authority of the church, and is therefore the act of 'the Spirit and the Bride.' So that in addition to the authority which its adherence to truth guarantees, the Reorganization is technically right, and on legal grounds invulnerable; before which all the factions have melted away save the one -and they dare not assail it, but always 'decline,'"-The Messenger, vol. 2, pp. 26, 27.
It has been thought that there was an irregularity in the selection of Jason W. Briggs to preside, as he held no higher office in the days of Joseph Smith than that of elder, while others held the office of President of Seventy, and that of high priest; but it will be observed that, according to the instruction given, the presiding officer was not to preside by virtue of priesthood formerly held, but by virtue of his apostleship, and of his being the senior in the quorum. Senior does not necessarily mean the one most advanced in age, but will apply to the one highest in authority, so that when Elder Briggs was elected president of the quorum he was in fact "the senior of them," and as such entitled to preside. However, preference was shown to the oldest in years, and the honor was declined, first by Elder Gurley, and then by Elder Deam.
On October 6-8, 1853, a General Conference was in session at Zarahemla, Wisconsin. Elder Jason W. Briggs presided,
and Elder Samuel Blair acted as clerk. The seven apostles were sustained, and the majority of seventy before-named were sustained.
The following missions were appointed: Ethan Griffith and Samuel Blair, Pennsylvania; Alfred White, Henry B. Lowe, George Godfrey, Wisconsin; Benjamin R. Tatum, Ohio; Ephraim Demming, New York.
Thomas Carrico, was received on his original baptism, and his former ordination as an high priest was indorsed [endorsed]. He was appointed to labor in Jo Daviess County, Illinois. Henry B. Lowe was ordained a seventy.
Jason W. Briggs was authorized to publish a pamphlet to be entitled, "The voice of the captives assembled at Zarahemla to their brethren scattered abroad."
"Elder Samuel Blair was appointed to select hymns and to publish a hymn book.
During the autumn and winter after this conference some strange spiritual manifestations were witnessed, which threatened to destroy the good work done. Of these manifestations and the division resulting therefrom Elder Briggs writes as follows:-
"During the autumn and winter there were some strange manifestations of a spirit hitherto but little known among us, and caused no little trouble. It was in prophecy and tongues. Sometimes boisterous, and accusation began to be made against different persons through the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and interpretation; and this in public meeting. At this many were terrified, not knowing what moment they might be publicly accused by the Holy Ghost; while some who had thus been accused protested in the most solemn manner their innocence. These things occurred mainly in the Zarahemla branch. There was much discord and differences of opinion respecting these manifestations, some of which were as follows: When the spirit moved to speak by way of rebuke, accusation, or chastisement of a brother or sister, the speaker would not only name the accused and point to them, but would frequently while speaking approach and cuff them over the head and various
parts of the body, castigating them in the name of God. Those cases, however, generally occurred in special meetings appointed through the zeal of those so gifted, and not in the regular meetings.
"The whole branch was in doubt what to do. Many believed the spirit was false, but many others thought it the Holy Ghost. The resident elders were mainly young members, hence the timidity in meeting the case. But a solution came in due time and doubt respecting its real character was entirely removed, by the spirit itself, in the following manner. One speaking by it, accusing another in the severest language, and demanding instant confession, which was at once proffered, though the offense complained of was trivial, but the speaker by the spirit commanded the confessing one, to get upon their knees to them, while another one was by the spirit moved to bark like a wolf.
"The spirit was rebuked, and all were satisfied and peace restored. And from that time the spirit that became a public accuser of individual members, has been generally regarded as a false spirit. And that tongues spoken were not necessarily the word of the Lord as had been largely believed; but that though the gift was of God, but might be exercised either under the influence of the Holy Spirit, by one's own spirit, or a false spirit. Hence the sentiments spoken would be, of God, of themselves, speaking out of their own hearts, or false, by a false spirit. Thus the admonition, 'Try the spirits,' was pressed upon us.
"About this time another cause of trouble showed itself; which subsequently was believed to be due to a similar spirit to the one above referred to. Bro. H. E. Deam conceived the idea that the expected son of Joseph had neglected to comply with the will of God, and had forfeited the right, and that it was our privilege and duty to go forward and fully organize. Such was the force of his reasoning that numbers were inclined to the same view, while others were in doubt, and all were disturbed. About the middle of January (1854), Bro. Deam went to see J. W. Briggs, at Beloit, to confer upon the subject. The consultation lasted two days, during which he urged his views at length, and
late at night of the second day he proposed that he (J. W. Briggs) should be sustained by himself and all who he had influence with, as the president, who, with his two counselors would constitute the legitimate Presidency of the Church. 'Let this position be taken,' he said, 'and we will carry the whole church, except Bro. Gurley and a few of his personal friends, and they will soon fall in too.'
"Whether this was a temptation, or how strong it was, matters very little except to the one tempted, so we pass it, and state the conclusion of this council, which was, that Elder Deam should not teach, or take any step looking to any change in the organization, only in concert with the brethren of the Quorum of the Twelve, and especially with Elder J. W. Briggs. This was urged by the latter and agreed to, and Elder Deam returned to Zarahemla.
"Considerable uneasiness was felt by the saints over this disunion in sentiment developed by the agitation by Elder Deam, though he for awhile conformed to the agreement referred to above. Others helped it on, and his claiming to receive manifestations of the Spirit favoring his views, it resulted in developing what was known as the 'Deam party.' Meanwhile the following testimony was received and sent to Zarahemla by the President of the Twelve:-
"'A testimony of the Holy Spirit, given at Beloit, Wisconsin, January 29, 1854, concerning the saints at Zarahemla: Ye ask truly, but ye ask amiss; cleanse ye yourselves of all bitterness and come before me as one man, and prove me hereby, saith the Lord, by the voice of his Spirit; and lo! I will scatter the darkness, and thy watchmen, oh! mine Israel, shall see eye to eye, and this remnant shall arise out of obscurity and out of darkness. Uphold the first elder, or senior, by your faith and prayers, and I will give you knowledge and strength, even hidden wisdom, concerning this remnant, of whom I have spoken in days of old, whom I have appointed to speak comfortably unto the captives, and give them bread and water in their journey. Therefore seek the preparation, for that which I have promised, even power over false spirits and disease; and if you seek it in unity, with all your hearts, I will bless the sacrifice, and you
shall have peace and joy, beyond that which you have before tasted in Zarahemla.'
"At the April conference following, it was resolved, unanimously, after some discussion, that manifestations of the Spirit, in anywise relating to the church as a body, should be written and submitted to a body of high priests before circulating or teaching them to the church, and only then on their being approved. . . .
"A degree of peace and harmony followed this conference and the elders did considerable labor, which was blessed with numerous additions to the church. Among these was Bro. Samuel Powers, who for some years had been an outside believer. In July, of this year, Aaron Smith, the first convert to James J. Strang, and one of his chief witnesses and counselor, came to Zarahemla and united with the church by baptism, at which time the question of rebaptism was first prominently brought forward. It happened that a very general attendance of the church at Zarahemla and the surrounding branches were present, among whom were Brn. Z. E. Gurley [Sen.], Deam, Cunningham, and J. W. Briggs, of the Twelve, and Ethan Griffith. . . . It was urged by some that we should begin anew, and all be baptized, and thenceforward make it a test of fellowship. Elders Deam, Cunningham, and Griffith favored this, and the latter, together with Bro. Aaron Smith, just received, urged it with great vehemence. On the other hand, Elders Z. E. Gurley and J. W. Briggs took the ground that where the evidence of a legal baptism once having been received, and in the absence of evidence of expulsion or apostasy, it was not admissible to require a rebaptism, to be identified with the Reorganization; but that in such cases it was optional with the persons themselves-a matter of conscience with them alone. This latter view had been acted upon generally up to this time, but now it was affirmed; and became a ruling precedent thenceforward. But from this day, it became the occasion of schism.
"At this point the divergence began, which developed the 'Deam party.' For between this and the October conference, they had taken steps to organize according to the
plan proposed by H. E. Deam, in the January previous. . . . Their platform, so to speak, had but two planks in it,-'rebaptism' and a 'perfect organization' of the First Presidency. The former they made a test, and accomplished the latter by making E. H. Deam president, and Aaron Smith the first of two counselors; and they held a separate conference on the 6th of October.
"This was the darkest time that had arisen since the restoration had commenced, and threatened its progress, if not its ruin. Under these auspices the October conference of 1854 met, was very well attended, at which the position occupied upon those points was reëxamined and reaffirmed, and the schismatics disfellowshiped as a body, and E. H. Deam and J. Cunningham were expelled from the Quorum of the Twelve.
"Numerous manifestations of the Spirit were received, approving the work, and testifying that this last schismatic organization, together with the others that had arisen elsewhere, should 'cease to exist,' should 'utterly dissolve,' etc. At this conference an individual presented himself for baptism, stating that he came to us as Jesus went to John,-the greater to the lesser,-that he was 'the second coming of Christ,'-the Elijah of scripture, and Gabriel. He wore a 'leather girdle,' and carried in his hand an 'iron rod;' with the latter he was going to 'break in pieces the nations."'-The Messenger, vol. 2, pp. 29, 30, 37.
The Annual Conference for 1854 met April 6, at Zarahemla, Wisconsin. At this conference some significant business was done. The following resolution was doubtless prompted by the manifestations mentioned in the foregoing quotation from Elder Briggs:-
"Resolved, that this conference authorize the Twelve holding the highest authority in the priesthood, assembled at Zarahemla, as a council to try and examine all revelations and manifestations, that have been or may be given through any member of this church, male or female, and that such revelations or manifestations, after having been examined by this council and declared to be the
word of God, may be taught as such until the next General Conference shall reject or receive it as the law. And if any member of the church assumes to teach, as law or doctrine, any revelation or manifestation before being presented to this council, shall be considered a transgressor of the law, and proceeded against as such."
"That this council send copies of all revelations and manifestations to the several branches."
J. W. Briggs was sustained as President of the Twelve and legal representative. The Twelve were separately sustained. The president of the stake and council were sustained; also the Seventy as a quorum.
There being no regular publication issued by the church during this period, many of the details of history are no doubt lost, but a fair idea of the business done and the positions taken can be obtained from the minutes of conferences which have been carefully preserved.
The Semiannual Conference for 1854 met October 6, at Zarahemla, Wisconsin, J. W. Briggs presiding, Z. H. Gurley, Sen., acting as clerk. At this conference two of the Twelve were expelled from the church for "apostasy and an assumption of authority;" namely, Henry H. Deam and John Cunningham, and an investigation ordered in the case of George White, of the same quorum.
Jason W. Briggs was sustained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve and representative of the legal heir to the Presidency; and George White, Reuben Newkirk, Daniel B. Rasey, and Z. H. Gurley, Sen., were sustained as apostles.
The disaffected ones at Zarahemla were disfellowshiped "until they return and make satisfaction." The ordination of William Day and William White to the office of seventy was ordered.
On April 6, 1855, the Annual Conference met, (place not given-probably Zarahemla,) J. W. Briggs presiding, Z. H. Gurley, Sen., clerk. At this conference the same members of the quorum were sustained as at the last, also other quorums.
Samuel Powers and David Newkirk were ordained apostles to fill the places made vacant by the expulsion of H. H. Deam and John Cunningham. They were selected by a committee appointed by the conference, composed of William Cline, Cyrus Newkirk, and Daniel B. Rasey.
On motion the following proclamation was adopted and ordered sent abroad: "That all apostles, high priests, seventies, elders, priests, deacons, and teachers, whose hearts the Lord has touched, for the work of the preparation, for the restoration of the captives of Zion, be requested to report themselves in person or otherwise at the next conference."
Zenos H. Gurley, Sen., was appointed Church Recorder.
The Semiannual Conference for this year met at Zarahemla, October 6, 1855, and continued two days; J. W. Briggs president, H. B. Lowe clerk. The general officers were sustained as at the preceding conference.
Samuel H. Gurley, Eli M. Wildermuth, Isaac Newkirk, David Cline, William White, and William Day were ordained seventies.
Mrs. Polly Briggs, mother of Jason W. and Edmund C. Briggs, was received into the church.
John Cunningham, one of the expelled apostles, made application to be received back into the church. The conference decided by vote that he could be reinstated by baptism.
Upon motion it was resolved to reaffirm the "resolution adopted at a conference held at Beloit, June 12 and 13, 1852, affirming that the successor of Joseph Smith must come from his seed."
The General Annual Conference for 1856 convened at the usual time, at Zarahemla, and continued two days. The general authorities were sustained, excepting William Day, of the Seventy, who was subsequently expelled in May, 1856, after trial and investigation, on the charges of apostasy and unchristianlike conduct.
The Semiannual Conference of 1856 was held at the usual time and place, J. W. Briggs presiding, Z. H. Gurley, Sen., clerk, but outside of the regular routine no important business was done.
The Annual General Conference of 1857 was held at Zarahemla, April 6, 1857, J. W. Briggs presiding, W. W. Blair clerk. Upon motion the first five resolutions passed at Beloit, in June, 1852, were reaffirmed.
Edwin Cadwell was received into full fellowship and sustained as an elder.
Jason W. Briggs was sustained as President of the Twelve and representative of the legal heir.
Reuben Newkirk, David Newkirk, Z. H. Gurley, Sen., and George White were sustained as apostles, the latter upon conditions that he accept the admonition which had been sent to him by letter, and his being more punctual. The motion to sustain Daniel B. Rasey as an apostle was lost. We find no mention in the minutes of Samuel Powers, the other apostle.
William W. Blair was ordained a high priest, and E. C. Briggs sustained in his mission, but what his mission was is not stated.
The following resolution was adopted:-
"Resolved, that it shall be the duty of all who are connected with us holding priesthood to report themselves personally or by letter once in six months, showing their faith and labor in this work."
The Semiannual Conference of this year was held at Blanchardville or Zarahemla, Wisconsin, October 6, 1857, Zenos H. Gurley, Sen., presiding, William W. Blair acting as clerk. The following resolutions were adopted on separate motions:-
"Brn. [Jedediah] Owens and [Granville] Hedrick were received as the representatives of the saints in Woodford County, Illinois, and vicinity, and the right hand of fellowship was given them."
"Resolved, that this conference raise funds for printing purposes, and the work of the ministry; said fund to be at the disposal of the church and under its control."
"On motion J. W. Briggs was appointed to coöperate with Bro. Hedrick in writing a pamphlet setting forth the true position of our doctrine."
"Resolved, that in case either of the persons named in the second [third] resolution shall find it necessary, they may choose one to act in their place, and assist in carrying out the resolution according to the intent thereof."
"Resolved, that the President of this conference appoint persons to circulate a subscription, and solicit aid to carry out the design of these resolutions." (The following persons were named: J. W. Briggs, Samuel Powers, Edwin Cadwell, and William W. Blair.)
"Resolved, that all the officers of this church who are living in the faithful discharge of their duty be sustained in their offices and upheld by the prayer of the church."
"Resolved, that the church meet in conference at Crow Creek, Woodford County, Illinois, on Christmas next."
The minutes of this conference on Crow Creek are not on the record.
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