Page images
PDF
EPUB

of equality. Joseph Smith, the chairman and remaining new member, had exercised general direction of the Order from the beginning; but he had done so in the capacity of president of the Church, and not through holding any office in the Order. Froin now on, as chairman of the Central Board, he not only came to hold an office in the Order but was, henceforth, its head.

As an important human movement the Independence effort fell short in leadership.

We may be assured that incident to, and an essential part of, every genuine movement is the leader who emerges out of it. Parliamentary government must needs produce its Cromwell, the American revolution its Washington, the slavery struggle its Lincoln, the trust movement its Roosevelt. Matching new forces whose strength overcomes the old is the strength of the man who assumes to direct the troubled times of change. Insight, courage and strength are qualities he draws upon continuously.

From the standpoint of executive direction Zion did not produce a single real leader. Joseph Smith, who was the spiritual originator of the effort, lived a long way from Independence. In 1830 the river-boat and the stage coach were the principal means of travel between Kirtland and Independence. After the first preliminary visit, Joseph Smith came to Independence only once. Purposely it seems, he kept himself away and endeavored to leave the organization of the community in a somewhat open condition, thus making it easy for a natural leader to arise. This is evident from the fact that neither Bishop Partridge, who presided over the bishopric, nor Oliver Cowdery, who was the first named of the council of Seven High Priests, were given full local directive authority. A leader suited to the movement and to the times would have forged to the front. No such positive character appeared.

A great natural leader emerged out of the ranks of Mormonism a few years later, when the exodus was made into Illinois while Joseph Smith and a number of others were imprisoned in Liberty Jail, Missouri. This man was Brigham Young. The terrible conditions which surrounded the Mormons during the winter of 1838-39, when their enforced removal from Upper Mississippi was in progress, demanded prompt measures and efficient direction. In the absence of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young stepped into the breach and conducted the impoverished and scattered fugitives to a safe harbor in Illinois, and did so in a manner which gave distinct evidence of the possession of superb qualities of executive leadership. But it was under a capitalistic regime in which private initiative and strong inducement to action were paramount characteristics that Brigham Young found the conditions favorable to his genius as a leader. It was not as an apostle of economic equality, therefore, that he left his impress on Mormon history, but rather as an organizer, a colonizer, and an administrator whose task it was to lead men who were unequal in physical and mental endowments and who secured unequal returns from their efforts.

Disappointed that a great leader suited to the times, and equal to the task was slow in making his appearance, Joseph Smith nevertheless recognized clearly that such leadership was necessary for the success of the United Order movement. On November 27, 1832, he made a prediction that the needed leader would appear. His language conveys a general idea of the qualities he seems to have considered essential to such a man:

Yea, thus saith the still, small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things and often times it maketh my bones to quake while it maketh manifest, saying:

And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the sceptre of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints, whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God:

While that man, who was called of God and appointed, that putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God, shall fall by the shaft of death, like a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightning;

And all they who are not found written in the book of remembrance, shall find none inheritance in that day, but they shall be cut asunder, and their portion shall be appointed them among unbelievers, where are wailing and gnashing of teeth.

These things I say not of myself; therefore, as the Lord speaketh, he will also fulfill.

The expected leader, it is clear, was to be known by his "might,” “strength” and “power.” He was to conduct his administration of public affairs in the open light of day, keeping nothing hid for he "clothed himself with light for a covering. Furthermore, by reason of a superior intellect he was to be informed not only concerning the fundamental, underlying principles of economic relationship, but he was to be acquainted also with the mainsprings of human association for “his mouth shall utter eternal words while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth.” Power he was to possess, but he was to consider it a sacred trust to be used to equalize opportunity for all rather than to perpetuate the dominance of the few for he was to “wield the sceptre of power," "set in order the house of God," and "arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints.”

Good men of substantial worth, were to be found in early Independence, but the kind of leader Joseph Smith sought for diil not come to the front during the Missouri sojourn. In fact, the United Order yet awaits its leader.

Biographical sketches of the lives of Joseph Smith, Oliver

Cowdery, and Edward Partridge who were the respective heads of the Central Board, the Council of Seven High Priests and The Bishopric, will be found in the notes at the close of this chapter.

event

was

NOTES

JOSEPH SMITH Joseph Smith was born December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont. As a boy of fourteen he proclaimed his first vision—a remarkable occurrence in a life which was crowded with most unusual happenings. By the time he had grown to manhood the Book of Mormon was ready for publication, and at the age of twenty-five he established or re-established, as he termed it, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During the next few years Mormon philosophy and the Mormon system of organization gradually unfolded itself by means of a considerable number of revelations, which he announced from time to time. He proclaimed a new gospel dispensation, called the “Dispensation of the Fullness of Times," in which was to be gathered together all previous dispensations, and the purpose of which was to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ, which

to be a part of, and become the culmination of this final dispensation. As a preparation, the Gospel (Mormonism) was to be preached by an authorized ministry holding the holy priesthood,” to “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.” The “honest in heart” were to be gathered together. A new Holy City“Zion” was to be built and the Stakes of Zion were to be established in the surrounding country. All of North and South America were designated “the promised land” or Zion, but the City of Zion was to be located at Independence, Missouri. It was to be established under a United Order plan, embodying high principles of industrial equality and brotherly consideration. As this plan developed, the organization of the Mormon system also slowly took form. A First Presidency, a Bishopric, a High Council, the quorum of Twelve Apostles, quorums of Seventies, of Elders, of Priests, of Teachers, and of Deacons were organized. Wards began to be established, and stakes formed. Auxiliary organizations, such as the Relief Society, sprang into being. Mormon philosophy, largely determined in the first vision, came slowly to receive definiteness of outline : The human family are the children of God, and are like Him in stature and form, as well as in thought, feeling and action. All the qualities and talents which man possesses, in a poorly developed state, God has perfected. Christ is of man's “kith and kin," an elder Brother who has set the example and pointed out the way.

Man had a pre-existence. He will live after death. The essential 1 The material for the sketches of the lives of the three chief leaders of the United Order Movement, has been drawn from the following works:

Jensen, Latter-day Saints Biographical Encyclopedia (Sat Lake City, 1901).
Roberts, History of the Mormon Churclı" --Americana (New York, 1909-15).

vols. 4-10.
Joseph Smith, History of the Church. Period I. 6 volumes.
Joseph and Heman Smith, Church History (Reorganized) 2 volumes.
The Evening and Morning Star (Independence, 1832-34).
The Messenger and Adtocate (Kirtland) 1834-37.
The Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, 1840-46).
The Millenial Star (Liverpool, 1840), also
Linn, The Story of the Mormons (New York, 1902).
Martin, The Mystery of Mormonism (London, 1920)
Caswell, The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century (London, 1843)
Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism (New York, 1888)
Gregg, The Prophet of Palmyra (New York, 1890)
McKay, The Mormons (London, 1851)
Riley, The Founder of Mormonism (New York, 1902)

part of him is immortal. He, therefore, belongs to the race of the Gods. In due time, with particular dependence on this earth life, he will, as the eons of years roll on, gradually attain to the rank of Godship through eternal progression. God's chief interest and glory is to bring about the gradual ascent of man.

While these things were developing, Joseph Smith had a very unsettled life. Until 1831, he resided in New York and Pennsylvania. In that year he moved to Kirtland, Ohio. Here and in neighboring towns he resided for seven years. It was here that Mormonism was largely unfolded. The effort to establish “Zion” was made at Independence, Mo. Insurmountable opposition prevailed against it. For a short time he resided in Upper Missouri, where healthy, thriving Mormon communities were rapidly developing, but opposition again drove them from their holdings. Kindly received in Illinois, they gathered at Nauvoo, and built a beautiful and prosperous city. But the persecutions which caused Joseph Smith to be tried before courts numerous times, to spend many months in unhealthy jails, to be tarred and feathered, to suffer almost every indignity, and to be deprived of any feeling of bodily security, finally triumphed, and his life paid forfeit at the hands of a mob in June, 1844, for the things he had attempted to do.

Joseph Smith possessed leadership of high order. Evidence of this is found in a large following who were willing to do practically anything for him. He was resourceful. He possessed a broad grasp, which enabled him to apprehend quickly the fundamentals of almost anything he turned his attention upon. Community building, slavery, politics, industrial organization, education, literary pursuits, etc., received his attention, and a surprisingly keen insight was exhibited. In many ways he was what some would call an "opportunist”, for he was willing to try almost anything from cashier to president, outside of his position as president of the church. He was too liberal to be a good business man, and too hopeful to guard properly against the risks and dangers incident to the ups and downs of business life.

In an age when scientific progress was considerable, Joseph Smith came forward with claims which rested entirely on a supernatural basis. the appeal was to faith. Few items of material evidence were presented for general inspection. A few only saw the plates, a few only saw heavenly messengers. As to whether this is God's way of dealing with the human family and if so, whether he made use of Joseph Smith for this purpose, constitute questions which the individual must decide. This modern prophetic claimant projected large designs with strong religious appeal. In the enthusiasm of the thing being done, the individual member tended to lose himself, and to lose sight of questions of control. From revelation there was little or no appeal to those who believed in the principle. The power which such a system gave to one who received revelations on so wide a range of subjects as did he, was great. Joseph Smith did not seek riches. From time to time he let excellent opportunities slip by in order to assist the poor and take care of those who were in need. Either he was a chosen messenger with a precious message, and in that case a much maligned and grossly mistreated man, or else he was an unscrupulous seeker after power, who used the most adroit means to obtain dominion over the minds of meni There is no half way place for Joseph Smith.

1 In view of this general analysis, one of the revelations of Joseph Smith has peculiar significance; “Behold, there are many called, but few chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson

“That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the power of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true;

OLIVER COWDERY

Oliver Cowdery, who was born on October 3, 1806, at Wells, Rutland County, Vermont, spent his boyhood and youth in that county, mainly in the town of Poutney. About 1825, he moved to western ew York, where he served as a blacksmith, a clerk in a store, and later as a school teacher. In 1828-29, while teaching school in Manchester, he made the acquaintance of the Smith family through boarding with them, according to the usual custom of boarding around among the patrons of the school. Becoming convinced of the genuineness of Joseph Smith's claim of having possession of the “Golden Plates”, he accepted the task of acting as scribe while the translation was in progress. Later, he became one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and was the first named elder of the group who comprised the Lamanite mission. Likewise, although his particular task in Zion was to be assistant printer, his name first among the seven who were "to build up Zion”; and for at least part of the time he was regarded first among the leaders. As the writer of nearly all of the first Book of Mormon manuscript, as one of the three witnesses of that book, as a member of the first extensive mission in the church, and as a leader in the effort to establish Zion, Oliver Cowdery occupied a most prominent place in the early history of Mormonism. After the printing office was destroyed at Independence, he became the Editor of the Evening and Morning Star while it was published at Kirtland, and afterwards conducted the Messenger and Advocate at the same place. He became a member of the first High Council in the church, February 17, 1834, acting for a time as its clerk and later as its president. In February, 1835, he and the other two witnesses to the Book of Mormon chose and ordained the first Mormon quorum of Twelve Apostles. He became the first General Church Recorder September 4, 1835. On September 3, 1837, he was made Assistant Counselor to the First Presidency. Dissatisfied largely because of his heavy losses in Jackson County, he became somewhat embittered against Joseph Smith, and adopted some questionable methods of recouping himself. He was rejected as Clerk of the High Council, by the church at Far West, February 10, 1838, and on April 11, 1838, was tried before Bishop Partridge's court and expelled from the church. He lived for a time in Michigan, practicing law for a livelihood. While separated from the church he remained faithful to his Book of Mormon testimony. When the church was driven into the desert after the long series of drivings and losses of property, and when the prospect for Mormonism looked the worst, Oliver Cowdery came back and humbly sought re-admission into the church, in October, 1848, at Kanesville, Iowa. He was accepted. While getting ready to move to the West, he died at Richmond, Ray County, Missouri, on March 3, 1850.

comes

but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion, upon the souls of the children of men,

in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the Priesthood, only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness, and meekness, and by love unfeigned, by kindness, and pure knowiedge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy and without guiie Let thy bowels also be full of charity toward all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly, then shall thy confidence wax 'strong in the presence of God, and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth. And thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee for ever and ever."-Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 121:34-et.seq.

« PreviousContinue »