Jedediah M. Grant
Collection of Facts Relative to the
Course Taken by Elder Sidney Rigdon
(Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking, & Guilbert, 1844)
C O L L E C T I O N O F F A C T S
RELATIVE TO THE
COURSE TAKEN BY ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON.
IN THE STATES OF
OHIO, MISSOURI, ILLINOIS
P E N N S Y L V A N I A.
B Y J E D E D I A H M. G R A N T.
ONE OF THE QUORUM OF SEVENTIES.
P H I L A D E L P H I A:
BROWN, BICKING, & GUILBERT, PRINTERS, NO. 56 NORTH THIRD STREET.
TO THE READER.
PLEASE read this before you proceed; by so doing you will save time, and comprehend more perfectly the contents of the following pages.
PART I contains some facts which did not come under my observation, as they occurred before my acquaintance with Elder Rigdon; you will therefore understand that men of the strictest veracity have written and related the same to me, as they witnessed them when they transpired.
After the summer of 1833, you will please consider me a witness, with others, of the course taken by Elder Rigdon, in Ohio. All the circumstances in PART II that I did not witness, have been related to me by those whose words I rely on with the same confidence that I rely on the uniformity of the course of nature.
In the same light you may read PART III.
PART IV contains a collection of important facts, taken from the statements of men whose words may be relied on with the most implicit confidence. I have before me the testimony of a highly respectable gentleman of the State of Delaware, who was taken into one of the secret meetings held in the city of Nauvoo, at which time four men were ordained, under the hands of Elder Rigdon, to be Prophets, Priests and Kings unto the Gentiles, the same witness relates the titles claimed by Elder Rigdon, also the facts relating to the Army, Officers, &c. In the testimony given at the trial you will find the same subject carried out.
PART V. shows the disordered state of Mr. Rigdon's mind, his course, &c. It will be for the candid reader to judge, whether the facts collected justify the conclusion or not.
J. M. G.
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In order to show Elder Sidney Rigdon's connexion with the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," it will be necessary to give a short sketch of the rise of said church, which was organized in the town of Manchester, Ontario county, State of New York, on the 6th day of April, A. D., 1830, by Elder Joseph Smith, (late Martyr of Jesus Christ, in the Republic of North America, under the protection of His Excellency Thomas Ford, Governor of the State of Illinois.) After he had obtained and translated the ancient American Records, (commonly called the Book of Mormon,) and had received authority from the Legates of Heaven, delegated and sent unto him by the Lord to ordain him to the Holy Priesthood, giving him the right to ordain others, that the Gospel might be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations -- Elder Smith ordained, among others, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and Parley P. Pratt, who were appointed on a mission to the Western Country. Soon after they arrived in the State of Ohio, as Elder Pratt had been previously acquainted with Elder Rigdon, he proposed calling to see him, to "teach him the way of the Lord more perfectly," as Elder R. was at the time a Campbellite, or reformed Baptist. They called accordingly, Elder Pratt presented to him "The Book of Mormon," which at first he was not disposed to read, but they reasoned with him until he consented to read it. It was however, after much prayer and reading that he became convinced of its truth. He made known his conviction to his friends and neighbors, which caused considerable excitement
6 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
among them. He received baptism, confirmation and ordination under the hands of Elder O. Cowdery, assisted by Elders Pratt and Whitmer. In December following, Elder Rigdon paid Elder J. Smith a visit, in the State of New York, where they met for the first time. Early in the spring of 1831, Elder Smith moved to the state of Ohio, where he became more familiarly acquainted with Elder Rigdon, who was truly a man of talents, possessing a gift for speaking seldom surpassed by men of this age. But unfortunately, there was in Elder Rigdon's composition, some peculiar characteristics which have marked his career on the stage of action, from the days of his youth until the present time. Mr. A. Campbell alludes to one of the distinguishing traits of Elder Rigdon's character. He calls it a yawning disposition after imaginary things, he said "that he had discovered this disposition in Rigdon, some time previous to his joining the Mormons." The above characteristic, combined with great ambition, and over anxiety to be leader, has had a tendency to lead Elder Rigdon into many serious difficulties, causing himself, as well as others, much trouble. One of the first dilemmas into which he plunged himself, and others, (for a time,) was caused by a peculiar revelation, which he professed to have received from the Lord, not many months after he united with the saints, in Kirtland, Ohio. In the absence of Elder J. Smith, the Saints did not act to please him, therefore he proclaimed his revelation, which was, that the Kingdom was rent from them, because of their transgression. His revelation, though short, was truly alarming to the Saints, and threw them into a state of indescribable confusion; when they sought for an explanation, he told them they might all go home, for the Kingdom was surely rent from them. Before the excitement and confusion had subsided, Elder J. Smith arrived, he called the Saints together, and soon convinced them of the incorrectness of Elder Rigdon's revelation, (said he,) fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."
Elder Smith's presence and words calmed the stormy feelings of the Saints, and caused joy to spring up in their hearts, but Elder Rigdon felt bad, he had spoken falsely, in the name of the Lord. Elder Smith advised him to give up his license, for said he, the Lord will leave you, for your transgressions in the hands of Satan, who will handle you as one man handles another, he gave up his license, and according to his own confession, he suffered as predicted by Elder Smith, after which he was again restored to the fellowship of the Church.
In the year of our Lord 1831, Elder Rigdon in company with
IN OHIO. 7
others fulfilled a Revelation, given through Elder Joseph Smith, by going to Upper Missouri to consecrate a place for the gathering of the Saints in the last days, and for the building of a Temple to the Lord. Elder R. was chosen to write a description of the country which was to be sent to the saints in the eastern States. Having a fruitful imagination he became very extravagant in his description of the upper country. He expatiated on the beauties of Jackson county in such a profuse manner, that fears were entertained by the brethren that it would cause the saints from the east to apostatize, as soon as they should arrive, not finding things as set forth by Elder R. Elder Smith laid the subject before the Lord, and obtained the following concerning R.'s writing. Book of Doctrine and Covenants, sec. 20, p. 14th, 2nd. ed.
"And now behold verily I say unto you, I the Lord am not pleased with my servant Sidney Rigdon, he exalted himself in his heart and received not counsel, but grieved the Spirit, wherefore his writing is not acceptable unto the Lord and he shall make another, and if the Lord receive it not behold he standeth no longer in the office which I have appointed him."In compliance with the foregoing Revelation he made another writing which was received.
The facts as stated had the effect of humbling Elder R., yet he was prone to follow his flights of imagination whenever the sun of prosperity would shine upon his pathway. At times Elder Smith would gently pluck a quill or two from his broad spread pinions, and lower him to his proper sphere of action, throwing the mantle of charity over all his imperfections; Elder R. would not only soar as it were to the highest Heaven in raptures of delight, but when dark clouds overspread his horizon he would also sink into the lowest state of despondency. These conflicting characteristics so often at war with each other caused Elder Smith some uneasiness of mind, not knowing how matters would terminate with Elder R., he therefore inquired of the Lord, Nov. 19th, 1833, and received among other things the following relative to Elder R.
"And again blessed be brother Sidney also, notwithstanding he shall be high and lifted up, yet he shall bow down under the yoke like unto an ass that croucheth beneath his burden, that learneth his master's will by the strokes of the rod. Thus saith the Lord. Yet the Lord will have mercy on him and he shall bring forth much fruit even as the vine of the choice grape, when her clusters are ripe before the time of the gleaning of the vintage, and the Lord shall make his heart merry as with sweet wine because of him who putteth forth his hand and lifteth him up out of deep mire and pointeth him out the way, and guideth his feet when he stumbles and humbleth
8 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
him in his pride. Blessed are his generations nevertheless, one shall hunt after them as a man hunteth after an ass that hath strayed in the wilderness, and straightway findeth him and bringeth him unto the fold, thus shall the Lord watch over his generation that they may be saved; even so Amen." (Times and Seasons, page 662.)From the above Revelation we may learn the two grand governing characteristics of Elder R., neither of which could possibly make him a competent leader of the Church of Christ, or of his own household. It will be seen that they as well as himself would wander far away from the fold, and if saved would have to be brought back by a close search for them in the wilderness. He was to learn his master's will by the strokes of the rod, be humbled in his pride, and lifted by a friendly hand out of deep mire. His way was to be pointed out and his feet guided in the right path, he has been very fruitful, according to the Revelation. As one part has been fulfilled we may reasonably infer that the other will also be fulfilled.
Elder Smith, having learned from the Lord the destiny of Elder Rigdon, watched over him as a mother watches over the steps of her inexperienced offspring. In the mean time a dark cloud arose from the west, threatening destruction to the whole Church. The Saints in Jackson county, Mo., were bleeding at every pore, their houses were burned, their goods confiscated, and they compelled to leave the county amidst showers of rain and snow, in the cold month of November, 1833.
At the same time the saints in Kirtland, Ohio, were actively engaged in building a Temple to the Lord. The branches of the Church in the east were doing all they could to assist them to build and prepare for the day of Pentecost. The news from the west caused sorrow and lamentation, it was a day never to be forgotten. In the spring following, Elders Joseph and Hyrum Smith, in company with two hundred male members of the Church, went up to Missouri, for the purpose of rendering all the assistance they could to the afflicted saints. The dark clouds seemed to break away, the spirit of mobocracy was checked for a short time, and the beams of light once more dawned on the afflicted. After they had done all in their power to do at that time, Elders J. and H. Smith and many others, returned to Kirtland, Ohio. The same fall and winter a large school convened for instruction, composed of Elders, and members of the Church. Elders Smith, Rigdon, and others, acted as teachers. In the course of the winter the Quorum of the Twelve was chosen and ordained, also one Quorum of the Seventies. The next spring many of the Elders went forth to preach the word,
IN OHIO. 9
to prove themselves worthy of the blessings expected at the day of Pentecost. In the spring of 1836, the lower room of the Temple being finished, some three hundred or over of the official members of the Church, assembled for the purpose of attending to the ordinances of washing and anointing, and the sacraments, that they might be sanctified before the Lord, and prepared for the reception of the Holy Spirit from on High. Prayer and fasting were attended to, the ordinations and anointings were sealed with great solemnity. The Holy Spirit descended in power as in bye-gone days, when it rested on the disciples at Jerusalem, some spoke with tongues and others prophesied -- the visions of Heaven were also opened to some, intelligence burst upon their understanding, enabling them to comprehend things past, present and future. Prosperity again shone on the Church, but not without its usual effect upon Elder R. In the summer and autumn of the same year, his imagination, which had been checked by the before named circumstances of the Church in the East and West, seemed only to have slumbered to increase in strength, it awoke with renewed vigour, reigning predominant over all his other faculties, -- carrying him into the unbounded field of conjecture, where he seemed to wander unchecked by reason and unbridled by desire. He commenced lecturing the saints on the subject of getting rich. His flights were so rapid that Elder Smith was unable to keep him within the bounds of reason, many others, also, protested against his course, Elder R. in order to convince the multitude that he was right, expatiated in the most extravagant manner on the following texts of Scripture, applying them to the saints.
"Thou shalt lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks. Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence and thou shalt have plenty of silver," Job, 22nd chapter, 24, 25 v. "That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth, that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a Palace. That our garners may be full affording all manner of store, that our sheep may bring forth thousands and tens of thousands in our streets," Psalm, cxliv. "The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary and I will make the place of my feet glorious. The sons of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee, and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet, and they shall call thee the City of the Lord. The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Whereas thou hast been hated and forsaken so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breasts of Kings, and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer, the Mighty one of Jacob. For brass I will bring gold and
10 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass and for stones iron, I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors, righteousness." (Isaiah, 60th chapter from 13th to 17th v.) "But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord, men shall call you the ministers of our God, ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves," Isa. 61c., 6v. "Then Peter began to say unto him, lo we have left all and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said verily I say unto you. There is no man that has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake and the Gospels, but he shall receive a hundred fold, now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecution, and in the world to come eternal life." (Mark, 10. c., 28, 29, 30 v.) "But seek ye first, the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew, 6th, 33v.)His lectures, directed to the passions of the people, caused many in indigent circumstances to imagine themselves rich. His analogies, resemblances, illustrations, paintings, and figures, were superlatively brilliant, and captivating in the extreme, but alas! when a few months had passed away, they found that their riches were like Jonah's gourd, they had sprung up in a night, and perished in a day.
IN MISSOURI. 11
preached what he called his "Salt Sermon," in which he called the dissenters the salt that had lost its savor, hence, said he, "they are good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot." The dissenters made capital of his sermon, using it to prejudice the people in the adjoining counties against the saints; but to put the veto on them, and all others, he delivered an oration at Far West, on the 4th of July, in which he said many things which were good, and patriotic, but as he proceeded, his imagination carried him (not "beyond the bounds of time and space," but beyond the bounds of reason,) into his often frequented field of fancy, where he uttered the following sayings:
"Our cheeks have been given to the smiters -- our heads to those who have plucked off the hair. We have not only, when smitten on one cheek, turned the other, but we have done it again and again, until we are wearied of being smitten, and tired of being trampled upon. We have proved the world with kindness, we have suffered their abuse, without cause, with patience and have endured without resentment until this day, and still their persecutions and violence do not cease. But from this day and this hour we will suffer it no more. We take God, and all the holy Angels to witness this day, that we warn all men, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever, for from this hour we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled upon with impunity, the man, or the set of men, who attempt it, do it at the expense of their lives.The foregoing extract from his oration, as anticipated by the judicious, was the main auxiliary that fanned into a flame the burning wrath of the mobocratic portion of the Missourians. They now had an excuse, their former threats were renewed,
12 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
and soon executed, we were then, as we are now, (by many,) all made accountable for the acts of one man; death and carnage, marched through the land, in their most terrific forms. The following from the 1st Volume of the Times and Seasons, by Miss E. R. Snow, will give the reader some idea of the heart rending scene.
Far from the influence of Papal Rome;
Yes, in a mild and tolerating age
The saints have fallen beneath the barb'rous rage
Of men inspired by that misguiding hate,
Which ignorance and prejudice create.
Ill fated men, whose minds would hardly grace
The most ferocious of the brutal race.
Men, without hearts, else would their bosoms bleed
At the commission of so foul a deed
As that when they at Shoal Creek, in Caldwell,
Upon an unresisting people fell,
Whose only crime was DARING TO PROFESS
THE ETERNAL PRINCIPLES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!
'T was not enough for that unfeeling crew
To murder men -- they shot them through and through,
Frantic with rage, they poured their molten lead
Profusely on the dying and the dead,
For mercy's claim, which Heaven delights to hear,
Fell disregarded, on relentless ears.
Long o'er the scene of that unhappy eve
Will the lone widow and the orphan grieve.
Their savage foes with greedy avarice fir'd,
Plundered their murder'd victims and retir'd,
And at the shadowy close of parting day
In slaughter'd heaps husbands and fathers lay,
There lay the dead and there the dying ones,
The air reverberating with their groans;
Night's sable sadness mingled with the sound,
Spread a terrific hideousness around.
Ye wives and mothers think of woman then,
Left in a group of dead and dying men,
Her hopes were blasted, all her prospects riv'n
Save one, she trusted in the God of Heaven;
Long for the dead her widow'd heart will crave
A last kind office, yes -- a decent grave.
Description fails -- Tho' language is too mean
To paint the horrors of that dreadful scene.
All things are present to His searching eye
Whose ears are open to the raven's cry."
Men and children were murdered and robbed, women were insulted and wounded, the dead left without a decent burial,
IN ILLINOIS. 13
houses were burned, and property confiscated, and many noble men torn from their almost distracted wives and children, and locked in a gloomy prison for months, to satisfy the insatiate wrath of man. After the whole society had suffered innumerable hardships, and bathed the earth with their tears and blood, they were, by the edict of a second Nero, banished en masse from the State in the drear months of winter, which caused the frosty grave to be opened, to receive fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, and the helpless infant, overcome by cold, hunger, and fatigue.
Elders J. and H. Smith and Elder R., with the exiled saints, located themselves in the spring of 1839, in the village of Commerce, afterwards called Nauvoo. The saints in America and Europe soon began to gather by hundreds and thousands to the selected place, which increased with a rapidity truly astonishing; many hundred houses were soon erected, large farms enclosed, on the hitherto uncultivated prairie. But the ray of hope had scarcely beamed on the Church, before it was discovered that the scenes in Ohio and Missouri, had not extinguished or abated the strength of Elder R's imagination. He began to say that it was now his privilege to get rich, he went so far as to say "that he never would follow Elder J. Smith's revelations any more, contrary to his own convenience, he also said that Jesus Christ was a fool to him, in sufferings." Elder Smith watched over him, determined to keep him where the effects of his imagination could not prove so disastrous to the saints as heretofore, hoping at the same time, that he would see his error and reform.
14 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
At the Conference held in Commerce, October 5th, '39, Elders J. Smith, S. Rigdon, and E. Higbee, were delegated to go to the city of Washington to lay before the authorities of our nation, the sufferings and persecutions of the saints, while in Missouri. It was thought that a trip to the Eastern cities would be beneficial to Elder R., and so it proved, for his mind for several months after he returned, seemed more calm and consistent than it had for a long time previous.
But Elder R. paid very little attention to the affairs of the Church, or the counsels of Elder Smith, he seemed to amuse himself with his own waking dreams, until sickness seized upon him and his family, he would then murmur and threaten to leave Nauvoo and go to the east. The Elders would visit him and pray for his recovery, and comfort him all they could, knowing he had suffered many afflictions. At times he would say, (as he did in this city near five years ago,) the Lord suffers me to be afflicted because I aspire to get ahead of Br. Joseph, thinking myself more capable to lead the Church than he is. But the Lord (said Elder R.,) don't think so. The following from the Book of Cov., page 408, given January 19th, 1841, will show Elder R's standing far better than I can tell it.
"And again verily I say unto you, if my servant Sidney will serve me and be counsellor unto my servant Joseph, let him arise and come up and stand in the office of his calling and humble himself before me, and if he will offer unto me an acceptable offering and acknowledgements, and remain with my people, behold I the Lord your God will heal him that he shall be healed, and he shall lift up his voice again on the mountains and be a spokesman before my face. Let him come and locate his family in the neighborhood in which my servant Joseph resides, and in all his journeyings let him lift up his voice, as with the sound of a trumpet and warn the inhabitants of the earth to flee the wrath to come. Let him assist my servant Joseph, and also let my servant William Law, assist my servant Joseph, in making a solemn proclamation unto the kings of the earth, even as I have before said unto you. If my servant Sidney will do my will, let him not remove his family unto the eastern lands, but let him change their habitation even as I have said. Behold it is not my will that he should seek to find safety and refuge out of the city which I have appointed unto you, even the city of Nauvoo. Verily I say unto you even now if he will hearken to my voice it shall be well with him even so. Amen."Elder R. complied with part of the above revelation, he located his family as directed, but continued as inactive as before, until Elder Smith was under the necessity of bringing his case before the Conference, Elder R. plead for his standing in the Church, and promised to do better, until he touched Elder Smith's sympathy, he then done by him as he had often done by others wept over him and forgave him. Elder Hyrum Smith whose
IN ILLINOIS. 15
charity never failed in one instance, was determined to hold on to him; in his meditations about him, he thought, perhaps, that he felt himself slighted, because Elder Joseph Smith had not ordained him to be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, as he had some others; he therefore went to his Br. and told him his thoughts, (said he,) Br. Joseph, you have ordained me and Br. Don Carlos and others, to be Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, but you have not ordained Br. Sidney, and I have thought that he feels that you have slighted him, I want you to go, continued H., and ordain him to the same office.
He talked with his Br. until he consented to ordain him. At the time of ordination Elder J. Smith done all he could to cheer up Elder R., who was at the time labouring under indisposition.
But revelations, ordinations, prayers and intercessions proved insufficient to move Elder R. to act up to his duty -- again and again he was arraigned before the Conference for his inactivity and improper course. The last time he was brought before the Conference, previous to the death of Elders J. and H. Smith, Elder J. Smith stated to the many thousands assembled on the occasion, that he had to announce to them, that after mature deliberation, he had come to the conclusion that it was no longer his duty to hold on to, and consider Elder S. Rigdon as one of his counsellors, for, (said he,) time after time he has promised to do better, but in every instance he has failed to comply with his most solemn promises; I do therefore reject and cast him off as a man unworthy of the high office to which he has been ordained and appointed, I can no longer sustain him; if the church is disposed to take the responsibility upon itself of sustaining him, it may, but I shall do it no longer.
Elder Hyrum Smith plead with the church, with great earnestness and sympathy, to try Brother Sidney another year; he alluded to the many trying scenes he had passed through with the church and with his brother Joseph; said he, I know that Brother Sidney has not done as he should, but let us forgive him once more, and try him again. His warm appeal to the church caused many a tear to fall, Elder Rigdon made his confession and plead with the church to sustain him, after which Elder H. Smith called on the church to vote, they lifted their hands to try Elder Rigdon another year. Yet Elder J. Smith was so sure that Elder Rigdon would again break his promise and go astray, that he went and ordained Elder Amasa Lyman to succeed him. Some of the Elders did not understand how Elder Lyman could be ordained to succeed Elder Rigdon, as the church had voted to try him another year. Elder J. Smith was requested to give and explanation; "Why, (said he,) by the same rule that Samuel
16 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
anointed David to be King over Israel while Saul was yet crowned," please read the 16th chapter of I. Samuel. Elder Smith's explanation, though short, proved a quietus to all their rising conjectures.
Last Spring, Elder W. W. Phelps, prevailed on Elder Rigdon, to go with him and attend the councils of Elder J. Smith, he went, and after listening to the instructions and viewing the order of the council, and the manifestations of the power of God through Elder J. Smith, he leaped for joy, and walked the room as sprightly as a boy in his gayest frolics. Exclaiming, "Joseph! Joseph! Thou servant of the most High God, I will never leave nor forsake thee, for mine eyes now see what Kings and Prophets desired to see and hear. But they fell asleep to rest in hope of what mine ears hear and mine eyes see. Brother Joseph you have tried to shake me off for several years, but you cannot do it, I will hold on to the skirts of your garment, I am now determined never to let you go." His visits to the councils revived him up so much, that he spoke at the April Conference, several times, with considerable spirit and energy.
He finally concluded to take a mission to the City of Pittsburgh. Elder J. Smith counselled him to go and take his family, and write, and preach, and build up the church in that City. He gave Elder Rigdon the same counsel that he gave the other Elders who went to different parts of the "United States," at or near the same time.
IN PENNSYLVANIA AND ILLINOIS. 17
at his house and related to him all the particulars as far as I had witnessed them. He spoke in the highest terms of the martyred Prophet and Patriarch, indeed he had held up the Prophet Joseph as a man not only worthy of the confidence of all the saints, but worthy also of the confidence of all the free born sons of Columbia, worthy to stand at the head of the free and the brave. Being desirous to go on my journey as fast as possible, I informed Elder Rigdon that the next morning I should take the Packet for Philadelphia. He requested me to say to the Elders composing the Quorum of the Twelve, if I met with any of them, that it was his wish and desire that they should come to Pittsburgh before going to Nauvoo, and hold a council; said he, they can make my house their home while here, in the meantime speaking highly of the Quorum. Oh! said he, how bad they will feel when they hear of the death of Brothers Joseph and Hyrum. The twelve sent him a friendly letter, informing him that their friends at the West thought it safer for them to return by the way of the Lakes, requesting at the same time, that he would meet them in Nauvoo, where they would council together. Elder Rigdon received their letter and proceeded immediately to Nauvoo, arriving several days in advance of the Quorum. He commenced holding forth to the Saints on the propriety and necessity of their choosing a Guardian, telling them they had a right to do so, as the Church was now fourteen years of age. He related, on several occasions, that he had received a revelation before leaving Pittsburgh, directing him to come to Nauvoo to see that the teachings and measures of Elder J. Smith were carried out to the letter, which said he, cannot be done until you choose a guardian; therefore he appointed a day when the Saints were to meet for that purpose. Those of the Twelve at Nauvoo, protested against his course as being premature in the extreme; Elder P. P. Pratt, in particular, insisted with great earnestness that no action of the kind ought to be taken before the Church until a majority of the Twelve could be present. Elder Rigdon promised that the meeting should be turned into a prayer meeting, but not long after he rescinded his promise to Elder P. and told the people it was a business meeting. However, we read that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Before the time of meeting the absent members of the Quorum arrived, and attended to hear what Elder Rigdon had to say; he spoke in the forepart of the day to the saints on the necessity of choosing a Guardian, or spokesman, or head, telling them that Brother Joseph held the keys of the kingdom in this world, and still held them on the other side of the vail; that
18 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
the kingdom must be built up to Joseph, &c. In the afternoon, Elder Brigham Young made a few remarks in his usual plain and forcible style, throwing considerable light upon the subject handled by Elder Rigdon, after which he submitted it to the assembled thousands; a vote was then taken. (Elder Rigdon refused to have his name put to the congregation,) all in favour of choosing a Guardian, or Spokesman, or Head, manifest it by raising the right HAND; not a hand was lifted in the vast assembly. The question was then put, all in favour of upholding the Quorum of the Twelve in their calling, as counsellors and leaders of the church, manifest it by the same sign; a sea of hands arose in an instant, when the opposite vote was called there was not a hand lifted, all things passed off in the most perfect order, Elder Rigdon spoke not a word against the proceedings of the meeting, all appeared quiet and calm.
The Sabbath following, Elder R. spoke a long time to the Saints, and blessed them in the name of the Lord; telling them emphatically that he was with the twelve. He wished to know the mind of the Church in relation to his returning to Pittsburgh, they all said go in peace. Elder B. Young, to impress on the minds of the people what Elder R. had said, arose and said: -- Brethren and Sisters, you see that Brother Sidney is with us, &c. But reader believe me, for it is as true as it is strange, the next Monday night, not thirty-six hours from the time Elder R. stated to over seven thousand people that he was with the twelve, he went and held a secret meeting in a private house, in which he proclaimed himself to be the stone that the Prophet Isaiah said the builders rejected; he professed to have received the keys of David, which gave him power to shut and no man openeth, and to open and no man shutteth; another passage in the 11th chapter of Isaiah he applied to himself, saying that he was the branch mentioned in said chapter. He informed the meeting that he had received authority from the Lord to organize the kingdom spoken of by the prophet Daniel -- that he had received higher keys than Joseph Smith ever held, therefore he proceeded to ordain men to be Prophets, Priests, and Kings unto the Gentiles. He informed those present that the Kingdom, as it rolled forth, would meet with opposition, making it necessary for them to raise an army to fight the battles of the great God. He proceeded to choose and appoint several persons to take command in the army, when it should be collected, which he said would be before long. In the meantime, he began to talk of the existence of great iniquity in the church; throwing out oblique hints against the martyred Prophet and Patriarch, and the Quorum of the Twelve. He soon professed that the Lord had given him a revelation before he left Pittsburgh, showing him that the Church would reject him, &c.
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It will be remembered, that up to the time of taking the vote, Elder R. had spoken favourably of Elders Joseph and Hyrum Smith -- he had not intimated that there was any iniquity in the church, or that the twelve were bad men. He had repeatedly blessed the saints, calling them a blessed people, pointing them to the time when they would meet with their martyred Prophet and Patriarch -- whose blood had not only sprinkled the jail and ground at Carthage, but the crimson current continued flowing while their lifeless bodies were conveyed over the lonely Prairie, followed by a few dear friends, whose tears mingled with the drops of blood that gushed from deep and mortal wounds, to leave a crimsoned hue for the eyes of angels and man to gaze upon and wonder!!
As soon as the Quorum of the Twelve heard of the proceedings of Elder R., they called on him to know by what authority he held secret meetings, and ordained men to the before mentioned offices. At first he undertook to evade their questions; but Elder B. Young being a man of firmness and quick perception, was determined to learn the whole matter, which he did, after several fruitless attempts on the part of Elder R. to evade his questions; after the confession of Elder R. to the Quorum, they endeavored to convince him of his error, but without effect; he gave them to understand that his course was marked out, that he knew all these things before he left Pittsburgh. The Quorum, with the Bishop of the Church, met, and held a Council on the case of Elder R.; in their deliberations they came to the conclusion to demand Elder R's License. When the committee waited on him for that purpose he refused to give it up, saying he had not received it from the Quorum, and he should not give it up to them, &c. He was then cited to appear before the Common Council of the Church, assisted by twelve High Priests after the order of Melchizedek. He refused to appear before said Council, thereby manifesting his unwillingness to comply with the rules of the Church. We will next give the Trial of Elder R., Testimony, &c., as taken from the Journals of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
TRIAL OF ELDER RIGDON.Minutes of a meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, held on the meeting ground in the City of Nauvoo, on Sunday, September 8, 1844.
"Present of the Quorum of the Twelve: President Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, P. P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, George A. Smith, John Taylor and Amasa Lyman.
20 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
"The High Council organized themselves with Bishop Newel K. Whitney at their head, as follows: William Marks, President of the Stake, and Charles C. Rich, Counsellor; Samuel Bent, James Alrad, Lewis D. Wilson, Alpheus Cutler, David Fullmer, George W. Harris, Thomas Grover, Aaron Johnson and Henry G. Sherwood; also, Reynolds Cahoon, Asahel Smith and Ezra T. Benson, in the place of three absent members.
"At 10 minutes after 10 o'clock, President Young requested the choir to sing a Hymn, which was done, and the services opened by prayer from Elder Orson Hyde, after which the choir sung another hymn. President Young then arose and addressed the people, in substance, as follows: -- I will call the attention of the congregation to the subject which is designed to be laid before you today -- but I will first make a request that the police will attend to the instructions given them by the Mayor this morning, and that is to see that there is perfect order on the outside of the congregation. We are not afraid of disturbance here, but there is generally some on the outside disposed to talk, which prevents those who are near them from hearing, and we wish all to hear what is said from the stand.
"Elder Young continued: I have travelled [sic] these many years in the midst of poverty and tribulation, and that too with blood in my shoes, month after month, to sustain and to preach this gospel and build up this kingdom; and God forbid that I should now turn round and seek to destroy that which I have been laboring to build up.
"It is written in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, that the president can be tried before a bishop and twelve high priests, or the high council of the church. There are many present this morning who were present at the organization of that quorum in Kirtland. We have here before us this morning, the high council, and bishop Whitney at their head, and we will try Sidney Rigdon before this council! and let them take an action on his case this morning; and then we will present it to the church, and let the church also take an action upon it. I am willing that you should know that my feelings for Sidney Rigdon as a man, as a private citizen are of the best kind. I have loved that man and always had the very best feelings for him; I have stood in defence of his life and his house in Kirtland, and have lain on the floor, night after night, and week after week, to defend him. There are those who are following Sidney for whom my heart is grieved, I esteem them as good citizens. But when it touches the salvation of the people, I am the man that walks to the line.
"I am informed that Elder Rigdon is sick; I am also informed that he and his party have had a council this morning, and have concluded not to say any thing in their own defence, thinking that would be best for them. I have no idea that Elder Rigdon is any more sick than I am; any how, we have a right to try his case, for he had sufficient notice to prepare himself if he had been disposed. We gave him notice last Tuesday evening, and had it published in the Neighbor, and was he sick he could have sent us word to have the case deferred. I heard Elder Rigdon's discourse last Sunday, myself; I heard him pour blessings upon this people in an unbounded degree; I heard him encourage the building up of this city and the Temple; he said he was one with us, and left his blessing upon the congregation. The congregation says to him; 'go in peace'. I said upon the back of his statements, you see that brother Rigdon is with us. I have not seen that brother Rigdon has been with us since he returned from Pittsburgh; I have
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known that he was not with us in spirit, but I took him at his word. The spirit reveals many things which it would not do to tell the public, until it can be proved. But to come to the point. On Tuesday last, I heard that Elder Rigdon had a meeting the night previous, and had ordained men to be prophets, priests and kings. I concluded to go and see Elder Rigdon, and asked Elder Hyde to go with me. We went into his house, and after the usual compliments, I sat down directly opposite him, and took hold of his hand. I looked him right in the face and asked him if he had a meeting last night, here, in which men were ordained to be prophets, priests and kings? He replied no, we had no meeting here; had we brother Soby?
"'Well, did you have a meeting any where, brother Rigdon, in which men were ordained to be prophets, priests and kings?'"Says I, 'that tells the whole story. Brother Joseph never undertook such important business as you are engaged in, without consulting his brethren, and especially the Twelve, if they were present.' I felt delicate in asking Elder Rigdon these questions, but I knew it was my duty to find out the secret of the whole matter. To evade answering the questions I put to him, he finally said don't crowd upon my feelings too much; my feelings are tender, and I don't wish to be crowded. I then proposed to him, that myself and the brethren of the Twelve would call in the evening and converse with him further on the subject, to which he agreed. In the evening eight of the Twelve together with bishop Whitney, went to Elder Rigdon's and conversed a while, and finding matters as before stated, we concluded we would go over to Dr. Richards' and there council together what was best to do on the subject. In our council we deemed it necessary to demand his license, and say to him he could not hold it any longer, unless he retracted from his present course and repented of his wickedness. A committee of three was chosen, who went over and demanded his license, but he refused to give it up, at the same time saying, 'I did not receive it from you neither shall I give it up to you.' On the strength of this, we published a
22 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
notice in the Neighbor that there would be an action on his case before the church today.
We have now the quorum before us, before which he will be tried, with the oldest bishop at their head; and I shall leave the subject for the brethren to take it up, and it is left for us to decide whether we are Latter-Day Saints or not.
"President Young said further that the Twelve are to be regarded as witnesses in this trial, and not judges. We present ourselves before the High Council as witnesses, and we are prepared to bring other testimony forward if necessary. There may be some who will say that this is not a fair trial because the opposite party are not here. They have had sufficient notice and time to make their objections, and if they don't appear to make their defence it will prove to me that they are guilty. Elder Rigdon has not conducted himself like a man of God, he has not conducted like a prophet of God, nor a counsellor to the first president, since he came here. We prefer these charges against him, and the High Council will be obliged to act.
"Elder Orson Hyde arose and said as follows: I thought I would present to your view some things which have transpired since the death of our beloved Prophet and Patriarch, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, who were murdered by the mob. I was in New Haven when I first heard the news, but hardly crediting the report; I went from thence to New York, where I learned the same things, I then concluded I would start to Boston. When I arrived at Boston I met with President Young and one or two others of the Twelve. We held a council together and it was decided to write to Elder Rigdon at Pittsburgh. I was appointed to write the letter. I informed Elder Rigdon of our conclusions, and stated to him that we had decided to return immediately to Nauvoo, and that we should go by the lakes, inasmuch as we deemed it safer and quicker to go that way, that to go through Pittsburgh. I stated also that it was the desire of the Twelve, that Elder Rigdon and Elder Page should meet us at Nauvoo, and after we had rested and mourned for our martyred brethren, we would sit down together and hold a council on the very ground where sleeps the ashes of our deceased friends.
This letter was received by Elder Rigdon as we have since learned. Well, what does he do? He comes directly to Nauvoo. -- He arrived before the Twelve could get there. He immediately entered into measures to call the church together to appoint a Guardian, and was very anxious to crowd an action before the Twelve arrived, when he knew it was the request of the Twelve to sit in council together with him before any action was taken before the public. He represented to the congregation that it was necessary that he should return home immediately on account of the situation of his family. Providentially the Twelve came before he had accomplished his designs, and an action was then taken before the public, and he was defeated. The church unanimously voted to sustain the Twelve in their office as appointed by President Joseph Smith and the church -- since that action was taken Elder Rigdon has shown no more anxiety to return to Pittsburgh. Now I would ask this congregation, if Elder Rigdon had known that he was commanded to take the lead of this people, would he have had any reason to fear his success, if he had been sure God had appointed him? Were the Twelve jealous that they should not stand in their place? I heard no such thing. We wanted to sit in council together and felt that whatever the spirit dictated that should be our course. There is a way by which all revelations
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purporting to be from God through any man can be tested. Brother Joseph gave us the plan, says he, when all the quorums are assembled and organized in order, let the revelation be presented to the quorums, if it pass one let it go to another, and if it pass that, to another, and so on until it has passed all the quorums; and if it pass the whole without running against a snag, you may know it is of God. But if it runs against a snag, then says he, it wants enquiring into; you must see to it. It is known to some who are present that there is a quorum organized where revelations can be tested. Brother Joseph said, let no revelation go to the people until it has been tested here.
"Now I would ask, did Elder Rigdon call the quorum together and there lay his revelation before it, to have it tested? No, he did not wait to call the quorum; neither did he call the authorities together that were here. -- He endeavoured to ensnare the people and allure their minds by his flowery eloquence; but the plan was defeated. The voice of the people was in favor of sustaining the Twelve to be their leaders. I tell you it is no enviable place for one of that quorum to stand in, and act as the leaders of this people. The shafts of the enemy are always aimed at the head first. -- Brother Joseph said some time before he was murdered. "If I am taken away, upon you, the Twelve, will rest the responsibility of leading this people, and do not be bluffed off by any man. Go forward in the path of your duty though you walk into death. If you will be bold and maintain your ground the great God will sustain you." And now inasmuch as a charge has been laid upon us, it will be inquired in a day to come if we have been faithful to the charge, and we are responsible for what has been laid upon us.
"After the Twelve returned I went to see Elder Rigdon and requested him to meet us in council; I invited him to attend but he said he was sick; well, I don't know but he was sick, but I am informed he went the same day and held a meeting somewhere outside the city. -- Today, there is an excuse. He says he is sick, perhaps it is so. In our conversation on Tuesday evening, when he said he had the keys and power, he said he did not claim jurisdiction over the Twelve, he claimed jurisdiction over no man. Says I Elder Rigdon, if the Twelve were to transgress would you call them to account? He replied no, I have no jurisdiction over them. But was Brother Joseph here and he was to see the Twelve do wrong, we would not have time to wink more than twice, before he would be upon us with a rod and drive us back to the path of duty again. Elder Rigdon says he claims no jurisdiction over the Twelve, nor the Twelve over him. Says I, Elder Rigdon, such a course as this will lead to a division of the church. He replied there will be a good many churches built up all over the world, I asked if all these churches would be subject to one common head. He answered they would not. Elder Young replied, then there will be many bodies. He replied, Oh no! I then said where there are many heads there is no head at all; and a thing that has got many heads must be a hydra, -- a monster: a house divided against itself cannot stand. Elder Rigdon is now going to work to make a division, and yet he said on the stand, he did not want to make a division. When any man comes here with a revelation purporting to be from God, we feel in duty bound to question its validity. This is a kind of furnace to prove all things, and Elder Rigdon don't like to come into the furnace.
"I will now give some testimony which has been handed to me concerning
24 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
what Elder Rigdon has said. Those who have testified here are ready to testify to the same before the congregation if it is necessary.
"I shall omit names unless called upon, and then they shall be forthcoming. One of Mr. Rigdon's party said to this brother, you are a pretty strong Twelve man I believe: are you not? He answered: I am no party man -- but I am desirous to obtain the truth. Mr. Rigdon's friend then said, if you will not tell it to the twelve, I will tell you our plans. He then communicated unto me their designs. The substance of which was as follows: that Elder Rigdon was going to feel the minds of the branches, and then of the people of Nauvoo, until he got strong enough to make a party, and if he found that he could raise influence to divide the people he would do so, and let the remainder, follow the Twelve.
"Elder Hyde continued and said: this was said previous to his discourse at La Harpe; then, he comes here and says I have no authority, I have no jurisdiction over this people whatever. We knew by the spirit that this was in Elder Rigdon's heart before, and we wanted to bring it out. This shows that the whole plan was matured at the time he said he did not want to divide the church -- he had no jurisdiction, &c., and he let out the roots of it on Tuesday evening, when we conversed with him. When we demanded his license, he said, "I did not receive it from you, neither shall I give it up to you." He then threatened to turn traitor. His own language was, inasmuch as you have demanded my license, I shall feel it my duty to publish all your secret meetings, and all the history of the secret works of this church, in the public journals. He intimated that it would bring a mob upon us, says he, I know what effect it will have; there is a rod and a scourge awaits this people. Says I, Elder Rigdon, if you want the honor of bringing distress upon this people, you may have it, you may have the honor of it here, and you may have the honor of it in eternity; and every effort you make to bring distress upon this people, will recoil back upon your own head. I have been told since, he was angry and did not mean to do as he said; but I would ask this congregation, can a man say what is not in his heart? I say he cannot, for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Elder Young says he can prove that Elder Rigdon made use of the same expression previous to our visiting him last Tuesday.) I replied to him and said, we have counted the cost and it can't cost us more than our lives, and we have got them ready to pay. Now what was the idea conveyed by Elder Rigdon's expressions, it was this, if you will let me alone, and not oppose me in my measures, although you are a wicked and iniquitous people, we will be hail fellows well met, and all fellowship together; but if you oppose me, I will expose all your secret wickedness, I will expose all your iniquity. Now I don't know of any man in this church that has gone deeper into matters than he did in Far West in his oration on the 4th of July. He was the cause of our troubles in Missouri, and although Brother Joseph tried to restrain him, he would take his own course, and if he goes to exposing the secrets of this church, as he says, the world will throw him down and trample him under their feet.
"Before I went East on the 4th of April last we were in council with Brother Joseph almost every day for weeks, says Brother Joseph in one of these councils there is something going to happen; I don't know what it is, but the Lord bids me to hasten and give you your endowment before the temple is finished. He conducted us through every ordinance of the holy
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priesthood, and when he had gone through with all the ordinances he rejoiced very much, and says, now if they kill me you have got all the keys, and all the ordinances and you can confer them upon others, and the hosts of Satan will not be able to tear down the kingdom, as fast as you will be able to build it up; and now says he on your shoulders will the responsibility of leading this people right, for the Lord is going to let me rest a while. Now why did he say to the Twelve on YOUR shoulders will this responsibility rest, why did he not mention Brother Hyrum? The spirit knew that Hyrum would be taken with him, and hence he did not mention his name; Elder Rigdon's name was not mentioned, although he was here all the time, but he did not attend our councils.
"When we were coming away last Tuesday evening, Elder Rigdon said you are not led by the Lord, and I have known it for a long time that you were not led by the Lord. In his discourse before the people the first Sunday after he came here, he stated that Joseph Smith yet holds the keys of this kingdom, for he had seen it since he was dead. When Elder Rigdon made this remark, says I to him, I defy any man to show that we have adopted any measure, only what Joseph has directed us. We have all the while sought to carry out those measures which he has laboured at such pains to establish. Now if Brother Joseph yet holds the keys of this kingdom, I would ask how is any man going to get by Joseph into the celestial kingdom of God, if they oppose and seek to destroy the principles laid down by Brother Joseph. They can't get over it neither can they get by him. I will now leave the subject with Brother Parley for he is a witness in the matter.
"Elder Parley P. Pratt arose to give his testimony concerning this case. He said in the first place I will say that there is no man present, save one, who has been acquainted with Elder Rigdon longer than I have. Elder Hyde knew him before I did. I have been in church fellowship with him for 15 or 16 years. I was a member of the same church with him before we heard this gospel; I was the first man who presented the Book of Mormon to him, and bore testimony to him concerning the gospel. I witnessed his coming into this church, I have feelings for him as a friend of the strongest kind, and ever have felt an interest for him, I would be amongst the first to rejoice to see him walk up as a counsellor with us. I have no feelings but in his favor. But the salvation of this church is of far more importance than any thing else, and we are determined to walk up to our duty, let it come against whom it may. After Brother Rigdon came from Pittsburgh, I waited on him to bid him welcome, but he was so crowded with friends shaking hands and welcoming him back that I said to him Elder Rigdon, you are busy today, we will not interrupt you today, but tomorrow morning the few of the Twelve who are here will want to meet with you, and sit down in council together. We expect to hear you preach. In the morning I called upon him to go with me to Brother Taylor's, as we had to hold our councils at Elder Taylor's, he being confined to his bed, by the wounds he received from the mob. He made an excuse, saying that he was engaged with a strange gentleman, and could not leave him then, but would come when he got through. We waited until it was almost meeting time, and instead of coming to meet with us, he went directly to the meeting. He came here and preached, and related his vision or revelation to appoint a guardian. We still deferred and waited to meet with him in council, until, to
26 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
our astonishment, without our knowledge he caused an appointment to be made for the next Thursday for the church to choose their guardian; and this too in the absence of the most part of the quorum of the Twelve, and even without consulting the high council of the church. I knew such a course would divide the church, and I protested against it, and determined to come to the stand if the motion was to proceed and dismiss the meeting. It fortunately happened that the Twelve came in time to attend the meeting which was changed by them into a special conference. We made another effort to get Elder Rigdon to sit in council with the quorum of the Twelve. We met at the time appointed and waited something like three hours before he came. He finally came and we then asked him to give us the relation of his vision or revelation, which he did. He said it was shown to him that there were no authorities left in the church who could act. When Joseph was alive the people had confidence in the quorums, but now they had not that confidence; the people must choose some man they can have confidence in, to act. Said I to him, Elder Rigdon, there never was a time when the people were more willing to hearken to council and be agreed, than they are now. Said I, has not the Almighty God established authorities in this church by Joseph Smith, such as the quorum of the Twelve, the high council and other quorums, and have they not power to act, and will they not be damned if they do not act; and will the people not be damned if they do not give heed to these authorities? He answered, yes; when not twenty minutes before he said there was no authorities in the church! Said I, Elder Rigdon, I object to that meeting you got up, in the name of the Twelve. It is got up without the consent or advice of those of the Twelve who are here, at present we don't need to adopt any new measures, we only need to carry out the measures which God has revealed, and when we have done this, God will give us more; and on these grounds, I object to the meeting. Says he, there is no need to appoint another officer. We have only to sustain the officers, as they are already organized; and I pledge myself there shall be no other business brought up on Thursday, only the regular prayer meeting. When I had got the pledge from him I told the people that Thursday's meeting would only be a prayer meeting. But after this some of the people went to him and he turned round again, and said it was a business meeting. I know that he said no business should be done at that meeting, and afterwards said it should be a business meeting. I then saw that this was a deep and a cunning plan laid to divide the best people that ever lived.
"On last Sunday we heard preaching all day about things a long way ahead -- terrible battles to be fought somewhere by the brook Kedron. Their preaching gave me a text which I want to preach from, it is somewhere in Webster's Spelling Book, and I suppose the little boys can tell me where. However it is a story of a "country maid and her milk pail," &c. The moral was that when men suffer their imaginations to be amused with things a long way ahead, they suffer loss by neglecting those things which immediately concern them. The great God said through Joseph -- build this temple; I give you a sufficient time to build it, and if you do not build it by the appointed time, you shall be rejected as a people with your dead. I thought we were concerned in building up this place and defending it, and while we were immediately concerned in all these important matters, the day was spent in talking about Queen Victoria, battles, &c., and things which were calculated to draw our minds away from those things wherein our eternal
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interest is at stake. When he blessed the people I said amen, and when he said our persecutions were about over, and cried peace, peace, I hoped it would be so, if we could get it. He did, by hard straining get it out that we might go on and build the temple and build up the city.
"On Tuesday as has been stated we went to Elder Rigdon's house, when I had heard that he had been ordaining men to unheard of offices. These men were in no quorum, and under nobody's direction, nor authority, but Elder Rigdon's own revelations. We protested against it. He claimed he had authority and keys over any one else. By and bye we had more of his revelations. Says he, I saw all this before I left Pittsburgh. I then charged him with endeavoring to palm upon the people, false revelations and lies in the name of the Lord. He then gave us another slice of his revelation, in addition to what he had already told us. It was that he was to help to fight a bloody battle in some appointed place, the particulars of which had been revealed to him. This battle was not to be a war of words, not a battle with the tongue, but says he, "with the 'sword,' and it will be a bloody battle; the great God has revealed it to me, and no one shall beat me out of it!" Says I to him, if you build up churches and ordain men to preach who are not subject to the Twelve, how are they to be governed. Suppose the twelve, having authority to regulate all the churches in all the world according to the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, should publish an epistle to the churches, they will say, who are the Twelve? We are not under the authority of the Twelve. Will not this be the result?
"I asked the question to one of his new prophets, do you consider yourself under the direction of the Twelve? He hesitated a while and replied, "I hope Elder Rigdon and the Twelve will be united and walk together, if not I shall not be under the direction of the Twelve, only so far as they agree with Elder Rigdon. I shall be under the directions of the revelations as given to Elder Rigdon, I regard him as my prophet, seer, and revelator." The old revelations require us to build this temple, that we may receive our endowment, and all the ordinances and priesthood, whereby we may save ourselves and our dead. The new revelation is to draw the people to Pittsburgh, and scatter them abroad; and do any thing and every thing but that which the old revelations bid us do. Some of the brethren, Elders Young, and Orson Pratt, and others then said to him that the matter must be settled before he went away to Pittsburgh, either one way or the other. We labored with him till near twelve o'clock, but the split seemed only to grow wider and wider. Says I, Elder Rigdon, if the God of heaven has sent me to tell what will be, you will never fulfil your revelation; I have no more confidence in your revelations than I have in Gladden Bishop's. One said he would marry the Queen of England, and the other said he would take her by the nose. Now brethren it was for this ordaining men to unheard of offices in an illegal manner, and the proceedings of their secret meetings, that the fellowship of the Twelve was withdrawn from Elder Rigdon. -- I was one of the committee who went to demand his license, and acted as spokesman. I made the demand in a respectful manner, taking care not to do anything intentionally to wound his feelings. When I demanded his license he refused to give it up as has already been observed, and says he, I shall now take the liberty to publish to the world, all the secret works of this church, and stir up the world against you, and says he, I know the result both on you and the church, and myself, this was letting out a little
28 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
more of his revelation. He then said, I have sat and laughed in my sleeve at the proceedings of the Twelve this evening, for they have been fulfilling in this last act, the vision I had at Pittsburgh. I knew you would withdraw fellowship from me, I knew you would oppose me, in all my movements. It was all shown to me in the vision before I left Pittsburgh. Thought I to myself. O consistency, where hast thou fled? Here are revelations manufactured as fast as they are needed to suit the circumstances.
"Last Sunday Elder Rigdon said we were a blessed people. Now he says he has known ever since before he left Pittsburgh, that this same blessed people would cut him off before he left them.
"He further said, 'I am not going to injure this people; I don't want to make a division,' and soon after said, 'I know this people have not been led by the Lord for a long time.' He was talking about exposing our secrets; Elder Hyde then said he was glad he had got at the roots of his feelings; Elder Rigdon replied, 'I don't do it with a design to injure this people, as before stated.'
"Now the quorum of the Twelve have not offered a new revelation from the time of the massacre of our beloved brethren, Joseph and Hyrum, but we have spent all our time, early and late, to do the things the God of heaven commanded us to do through brother Joseph. Here are the principles of brother Joseph, our prophet, who laid the foundation of this work, and the Twelve have labored to carry them out. We have not said, go to Black river, nor to Prairie du Chien, nor to Pittsburgh, but we have said take the sword of the spirit, and do the things commanded and enjoined by brother Joseph. Only think of the idea, after blessing the congregation in the manner he did last Sabbath, in two days after he says this people have not been led by the Lord for a long time, and I have known it: And why? Because we fulfilled his own revelation by cutting him off from the church; but if we had not cut him off nor opposed him in his secret corner of treachery and apostasy, we should have been a very good people, and we would all fellowship together.
"I will here read from the book of Doctrine and Covenants, page 102, new edition, paragraph 11, to show concerning the legal authorities of this church: (See D. C.)
"Now you ask where is the proper authority and power for us to look to? We answer here is a power and authority equal to the first presidency; equal and nothing more. But suppose you uphold Elder Rigdon's theory, what have you got? You have got one of the quorum which does not even form a majority, and consequently has no power to act. But if it would make no odds who you look to for your leaders, if they are not chosen and upheld by the faith and prayer of the church, and then they must walk according to the revelations, or there is no power in their appointment. I say and bear testimony that the things revealed to Sidney Rigdon touching the great battles to be fought somewhere; the secret meetings; the ordination of officers, and the government of this church, is a revelation of falsehood and delusion, calculated to lead the people astray. It will result in open apostasy, and is designed to bring destruction upon us, or else it will result in speedy repentance and a turning round to the principles and revelations laid down by our martyred prophet.
"Elder Amasa Lyman said, so far as I am acquainted with what has been said, it is correct, and the most of it has been under my own observation.
IN PENNSYLVANIA AND ILLINOIS. 29
It would therefore be useless to recapitulate. But there are some things connected with the history of this event that should speak to the understanding of the individuals to whom this case is to be submitted. The Twelve have already told their mind on the subject and have acted upon it. There is a curiosity connected with the revelation of this individual, who is so favored of heaven as to have gathered the rays of light from the upper world; intelligence and wonderful things, that other men never thought of. Even Gladden Bishop never thought of such wonderful things. Now where has this individual been for these years past? Has he been laboring to support and uphold the man whom God has appointed to bring forth this work? Has he been endeavoring for the last four or five years to build up the principles taught and laid down by the man of God? Here are men present who have travelled through the length and breadth of these United States, and to Europe, and some who have travelled as far as Palestine to carry out and establish the principles which have been laid down by our deceased prophet, and yet the great God has not made known to say of these men the wonderful things made known in this revelation. Neither has Elder Marks or the Twelve received any such wonderful revelation. But this man who has been asleep all the while, when he was not sick, to sleep and smoke his pipe, and take his drink; correspond with John C. Bennet, and other mean, corrupt men. This is the character of the man on whom shines the light of revelation; this is the man who says the Twelve have gone astray and this church is not led by the Lord. This man is made generalissimo of all the armies of the Gentiles, on both sides I suppose; this is the man who is to fight these wonderful battles till the blood of the slain flow as high as the horse's bridles in the brook Kedron. Elder Brigham, nor any of the Twelve did not get this wonderful power; they have not got the same spirit. But these men who obtain these great revelations carry the spirit about with them; you can smell it as soon as you come near enough to feel their breath. Elder Rigdon's plan is to divide the church, although he claims no jurisdiction.
"This wonderful spirit of revelation has fallen on a great many. Here is a revelation come from Michigan, which points out a Mr. Strang, as the one to take the lead of this people. So brother Sidney is not the only man who proposes to have been appointed to lead this church. The devil seems to have set a good many hooks and baited them very nice, that some may be sure to catch. Here is another revelation come from the wonderful town of Appanooce; but the Twelve are so wicked they cannot get it. The great John C. Bennet said at the conference when he first came here, that he sustained the same position to the first presidency, as the Holy Ghost does to the Father and Son. He now says that Rigdon is to take the presidency, and he is appointed to Elder Rigdon's place. Now you see it is impossible for this people to go after them all. When Elder Rigdon was in Pittsburgh he saw a great many things, and I dare venture to say, that when the news reaches him of your action today, it will bring another slice of his revelation; he no doubt saw it before he left Pittsburgh. It is plain beyond a doubt that Elder Rigdon came here with a spirit as corrupt as hell; because the effects produced by all his movements are as corrupt as can be. He first told the people he came here to do one thing, afterwards he said he would do another quite opposite. He said God had sent him here to see that the church was built up to Joseph, and the least departure from this, he said, was sure to result
30 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
in the destruction of the church. He said wo, wo, wo unto this people if they do not make a right choice. Again he says he saw that the people would reject him. He said there was an important passage in the scriptures which had to be fulfilled. He did not tell us what it was, but we learned that it was that part of Isaiah's prophecy where he says, 'the stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner.' Now it appears that Isaiah's prophecy must be proved true, if it has to ruin the whole church to do it. The Temple must be forsaken and not be finished, and all that Joseph has done must be rejected, to carry out his notion that he (Sidney) was some great one. For the last four or five years we have never heard of Sidney's getting a revelation, but as soon as brother Joseph is out of the way, he can manufacture one to allure the people and destroy them. Now after he has given his testimony to the world; after finding fault with God because he happened to get into jail in Missouri; and because he was poor: yet this is the man that can get such wonderful revelations. Brother Parley and Brigham suffered in Missouri, but did not find fault with God; they don't get such wonderful things. Now this is the man who has got the keys of conquest; the keys of David, keys which the Twelve never heard was to be given to man, who had, in a manner, cursed God to his face. It may be said that Sidney Rigdon may be mistaken. If he should, it is not the first time that he has been mistaken in his revelations. But Joseph Smith never was mistaken in his revelations. He never commenced to do a thing and when he had got it half done, turn round and quit it.
"Sidney's first revelation in Kirtland was telling the people that the Kingdom was rent from them, and they might as well all go home for they were rejected. The saints felt very bad and were almost distracted. When brother Joseph (who was absent at the time) came home, he called Sidney into council and there told him he had lied in the name of the Lord; and says he, 'you had better give up your license and divest yourself of all the authority you can, for you will go into the hands of satan, and he will handle you as one man handleth another, and the less authority you have the better for you.' Sidney gave up two licenses to brother Whitney, (who has got them at this day) and according to his own testimony, he was handled by satan just as brother Joseph said, and weltered in the most extreme agony for about two or three months, and then brother Joseph seeing that he had repented, said that he had suffered enough and restored him again. He made a tremendous blunder at the first revelation, but we would hardly suppose that a man who has been in the church so long as Sidney has, would make such a monstrous blunder as he has made this time. The object of Sidney's revelation was to divide the church and scatter it. Brother Joseph has said at different times, that if Elder Rigdon was to lead the church twelve months, he would lead them to the devil. When he attempted to lead the people in Kirtland, it was to lead them to the devil, and when he made the attempt this time, it was for the same purpose. When he was making his flowery sermon and endeavoring to captivate the people by his eloquence, they looked, and when he had got through, behold they had seen nothing; and when he found that there were those who were on the alert, and that there were men in whose ears the God of heaven would whisper, and they would discover his principles, he could not stand it; he was going to run; he was in a wonderful hurry to get back to Pittsburgh. He was determined not to let Brother Young pull the things out of him. I presume the atmosphere did
IN PENNSYLVANIA AND ILLINOIS. 31
not feel very congenial to his spirit. After we had been and spent the evening with him last Tuesday and had concluded to demand his license, he then said he was going to publish the history of all the secrets of this church. I think if he don't give a straighter history than he has given in his revelation, we shall not need to be at the trouble to go abroad and contradict it, for he will contradict himself. He took a position when he first came here, but since that he has left the ground entirely. If he talks with one of brother Joseph's friends, he will say, 'I admit that Joseph held the keys of the kingdom at his death,' but if he talks with those who are not Joseph's friends, he will say, 'I knew he was not led of God for a long time.' In our council in the Seventies' Hall, he said that this vision was a continuation of the vision recorded in the book of Doctrine and Covenants. There was however this difference, the one in the Doctrine and Covenants was an open vision but the vision he received in Pittsburgh was a mental vision, a vision presented to the mind. Now it seems very likely that while brother Sidney was maturing his plans in Pittsburgh, and laying his schemes as to what course he would pursue, it was very natural to see that the church would cut him off. There are many who seem to be in difficulty concerning Sidney Rigdon's standing in the church during the time he has been wallowing in his filth and corruption for four or five years past. I know how he has stood, but I rather some one else would tell it, and I shall therefore leave the subject.
"Elder John Taylor arose and said, I wish to make a few remarks, and to give in my testimony in this case. There has already been much said, sufficient to criminate Elder Rigdon, and to prove satisfactorily to the minds of every unprejudiced person, that he is unworthy of the confidence we have reposed in him; that he has dishonored his high and holy calling, and has in every way disqualified himself to act in that relationship to the church, which he has heretofore sustained. We did not investigate his conduct or character previous to the conference before alluded to, in order to prove this; his own acts and deeds since his return from Pittsburgh, as they have been set forth before this conference, are sufficient to establish that fact. It may be supposed by some that the Twelve are enemies to Elder Rigdon. So far from this, they have courted his company. They invited him frequently to their councils, and have shown every mark of esteem, deference and respect, which his long standing in the church, his years, his talent and his calling would entitle him to. They have been extremely solicitous to cultivate a friendly feeling, and not till they were forced with overwhelming testimony, have they taken steps in the matter; but they have a duty to God and to this church to perform: and whatever may be their personal predilections, prejudices or feelings; they feel bound by the relationship they sustain to this church and to God, to lay aside all private feelings and secondary considerations in the fulfillment of the great work that they are called upon to perform.
"Elder Rigdon was appointed by President Smith to go to Pittsburgh and build up the church; but he was expressly forbid to take any one with him. Now I would ask, has Elder Rigdon accomplished his mission? Has he sought to build up the church according to President Smith's order? No, he has been holding secret meetings; he has ordained men illegally, and contrary to the order of the priesthood; he has been ordaining men to the offices of prophets, priests and kings; whereas he does not hold that office himself; who does not know that this is wrong? There is not an officer belonging
32 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
to the church but what is acquainted with this fact. Can a teacher ordain a priest? Can a priest ordain an elder? Can an elder ordain a high priest, or any of the former ordain an apostle? You all know they could not, it is contrary to the order of God; and yet we find that President Rigdon, a man who ought to know better -- who does know better -- has been ordaining men to office that he does not hold himself: and yet he has come to us with a revelation to lead this church to the Celestial kingdom of God; and even if he had the authority to ordain these men, he could not do it in and of himself without the accompanying ordinances, and under the circumstances which he did. There are numbers here who can bear witness to the truth of what I now say. These things go plainly to show that his mind is enveloped in darkness, that he is ignorant and blinded by the devil, and incompetent to fulfil the work which he has undertaken.
"There are some who would insinuate that we should be merciful; we have been as merciful as we could be in the fulfillment of our official duties. But if we pass over such gross violations of the ordinances of God's house, and such departures from the revelations of God; if such ordinations and organizations are suffered to proceed, we shall, as a people, soon be destroyed. I see men in this congregation who have received illegal ordinations, ordinations imparted through a perversion of the priesthood, and through the influence of an improper spirit. Who wants to see their friends destroyed in this way? A man may receive a spirit in a few minutes, the which it will take him years to get entirely rid of. I don't want any man with such a spirit to put his hands on my head, or on the head of any of my brethren.
"Some people talk as though they considered these things very little matters; but it was for a transgression of this kind that satan and his angels were cast out of heaven, and it is those very principles that have destroyed the church in every age of the world. It was not for drunkenness, theft nor any other act of immorality that satan was hurled from heaven, but for resisting authority, and trying to subvert the order of God. And this is the thing that Elder Rigdon is guilty of; which is calculated to lead men to destruction. I consider that this conference has had evidence enough before it in relation to the matter. We have tried him who said he was a prophet, and sent of God with revelations to this church, and found him a liar. I feel sorry for him as a man, but I also feel sorry for others whom he is leading astray. What has been the cause of all our difficulties? Why, a little difference of feeling, a little difference of opinion, a little difference of spirit and this little difference has finally ended in bloodshed and murder. I do not blame those men who shot our beloved brethren, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, one hundredth part as much as William and Wilson Law, the Fosters and the Higbees; it is true they are murderers, but I consider that those men who pointed their guns at me, are not so steeped in crime, nor half so guilty before God, as those men who were their instigators, their aids and abettors. They are the men who are the most guilty before God, and of them will their blood be required.
"Elder W. W. Phelps said, it becomes necessary on this occasion that you should be acquainted with all the facts in the case. I am knowing myself to most of the facts. Perhaps I have taken a greater interest, and have been better disposed towards Sidney Rigdon than many would suppose under existing circumstances. I have endeavored to be his friend in every situation I could. When I learned he had arrived from Pittsburgh I went to see him
IN PENNSYLVANIA AND ILLINOIS. 33
and tried to find out his views and calculations on the subject, but in all his conduct there appeared to be something wrong, a reluctance to communicate. I have had as good a privilege of knowing the whole of Joseph Smith's revelations as any other man, and I know that the Twelve are the first in authority after the first presidency. Secondly, the Twelve are the travelling high council, to regulate all the affairs of all the churches in all the world. Now I would ask this congregation, are you willing to throw away this authority for one man? What have you gathered here for? You have gathered here to build up a city; to build up the kingdom, and shall we come up to this time, and then throw away the revelations and all the measures laid down by Brother Joseph? No! verily no!
"I think enough has been said to make the matter plain to the minds of the people. He has come and lied in the name of the Lord. He has told me two stories. He said he wanted to form an intimacy with the Twelve, but he has never taken one step to do it, but has in every instance, endeavored to shun them. The devil has blinded his eyes, and he has endeavored to blind the minds of the people against those revelations that have been our guide since we came into this church. Those revelations that said we should build the Temple, in order to save ourselves and our dead, and bring to pass those keys and blessings which will secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings which all since the days of Adam, had lived and died for. The Lord has said that the church would be able to judge those who were prophets and those who were not. The first thing Elder Rigdon endeavored to press upon the minds of the people, was the idea that it belonged to some person to rise up and build up the church to Joseph Smith, but there is no such thing written in the Bible, or the Book of Mormon, or the book of Doctrine and Covenants. This church has been built up to Jesus Christ, and Joseph Smith always taught us that there is no other name whereby we can be saved but in and through the name of Jesus Christ.
"It is one part of the portion of this people to be tried to the centre, and you will learn to judge men when they come before you. There will be men who cannot endure a celestial law, and consequently, they cannot obtain a celestial glory. Brother Sidney is endeavoring to draw off a party, and he will be like those who are spoken of in the vision: some for Paul, some for Apollos, some for Cephas, &c., and many will have to go to outer darkness and there tarry till they have paid the uttermost farthing. Is there on person here who wishes to barter away a certainty for an uncertainty and go to perdition? If any man comes to you to lay on hands suddenly, don't suffer them to do it, lest ye be deceived. Recollect this -- "an apostle is an elder" and he has authority to ordain elders, priests, &c. Be wise and lay hands suddenly on no man; neither suffer any one to lay hands suddenly on you. It takes a majority of any quorum, according to the order of God, as declared in the Doctrine and Covenants, which I hold in my hand, and the common consent of the whole church, to make any act valid; every ordination therefore, made by Sidney Rigdon, he being one only out of a quorum of three, even if he had not otherwise transgressed, is illegal. I therefore, in the authority of the holy priesthood, and as one who cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance, declare his late revelations, and his extraordinary ordinations of prophets, priests and kings among the Gentiles, holding the keys of David, -- of the devil; and let all the people say: Amen.
"Elder Heber C. Kimball arose and said he was sick and could scarcely
34 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
speak, but he could not forbear to offer his testimony on this subject. You have already had the testimony of my brethren, and I feel disposed to offer my testimony. I have been in all their councils since they returned home, I was with the brethren at Elder Rigdon's last Tuesday, but I don't know that I can do any thing more than confirm what they have said. They have related things as they transpired, as near as I can recollect, and I cannot do more than confirm their testimony. As to Elder Rigdon's course there is scarce any one that can give a relation of it. Elder Rigdon is a man I have always respected as a man, but I have not respected his course for more than five years past. -- Brethren, I have known his course and was aware of it all the while. When I have gone abroad to preach and have returned again, I would not have the privilege of sleeping, before Brother Joseph would call us to council; and there is not a thing of importance which was ever done, but Brother Joseph counselled with us. Elder Rigdon after he came from Pittsburgh never attended council only when he could not avoid it. He has no authority only what he receives from the church, if he was one with us, why was he not in our councils? He was not in the council pertaining to the High Priesthood until just before he started for Pittsburgh. Brother Phelps was the means of bringing him in, but he has not got the same authority as others; there are more than thirty men who have got higher authority than he has. Elder Rigdon has intimated that if we opposed him we should have a mob on us. Brethren, if I have to be martyred for the truth, amen to it! If I have to go as Joseph and Hyrum did, it will be a short work. Elder Rigdon has not been in good standing as a counsellor to Brother Joseph for some years. Brother Joseph shook him off at the conference a year ago, he said he would carry him no more; if the church wanted to carry him they might, but he should not. Joseph said, he had no more authority in his office as counsellor. Elder Amasa Lyman was appointed in his stead, and all the power and authority and blessings which Elder Rigdon ever had, was put on the head of Brother Amasa. Brother Hyrum plead to have Elder Rigdon restored, he said try him a little longer, try him another year; Brother Joseph would not receive him again but shook him off. The church voted to try him again, and it was the church that received him and not Brother Joseph. If Elder Rigdon was in good standing, why has he not been with Brother Joseph in all his councils? He has not acted as a councillor in Brother Joseph's councils for five years, but the Twelve have, they have never forsaken him. Now when Brother Joseph is gone, he comes and sets us aside. I have handled with my hands, and heard with my ears, the things of eternal reality, but I never betrayed Brother Joseph.
"Brethren, as it was in the days of Moses, so it is now. When Moses went into the Holy of Holies, he pulled off his shoes; Brother Joseph has passed behind the vail and he pulled off his shoes, and some one else puts them on, until he passes the vail to Brother Joseph. President Young is our President, and our head, and he puts the shoes on first. If Brother Hyrum had remained here, he would have put them on. -- Hyrum is gone with Joseph and is still his counsellor. The Twelve have received the keys of the kingdom and as long as there is one of them left, he will hold them in preference to any one else. I wish the people would hear and be wise, and those who have been upholding Brother Sidney, would turn about before they go into everlasting despair. Here is John C. Bennett, and Wm. and Wilson Law. Robert D. Foster and the Higbees are all the while seeking
IN PENNSYLVANIA AND ILLINOIS. 35
to come back and if they cannot accomplish their purposes they will seek to take our lives. We stand forth as the shepherds of the sheep, and we want to lead you into green pastures, that you may be healthy and strong. There are men here brethren who have got authority, but we don't want to mention their names, for the enemy will try to kill them.
"President Young arose again and said he wanted to read some testimony which had been presented to him relative to this case, but did not wish to mention the names of the individuals at the present time, if it could be dispensed with. He continued: honest men may be deceived for a time, but they will generally see their error and turn about. There are some who are strolling off and wanting to make divisions amongst us. Brother Sidney says, "if we go to opposing him he will tell all of our secrets!" But I would say, oh don't, Brother Sidney! don't tell our secrets, oh don't! But if he tells of our secrets, we will tell of his -- tit for tat. He has had long visions in Pittsburgh revealing to him wonderful iniquity amongst the saints. Now if he knows of so much iniquity, and has got such wonderful power, why don't he purge it out? He professes to have got "the keys of David." Wonderful power, and revelations, and he will publish our iniquity! Oh dear, Brother Sidney, don't publish our iniquity! Now don't! John C. Bennett said in his exposure, he knew all of Brother Joseph's secrets, and he would publish them. Joseph H. Jackson, says he has published all Joseph's secrets, but nobody believes their tales, because they lie! and if Sidney Rigdon undertakes to publish all our secrets, as he says, he will lie the first jump he takes. If Sidney Rigdon knew of all this iniquity why did he not publish it sooner? If there is so much iniquity in this church as you talk of, Elder Rigdon, and you have known of it so long, you are a black hearted wretch because you have not published it sooner. If there is not this iniquity you speak of, you are a black hearted wretch for endeavoring to bring a mob upon us and murder innocent men, women and children! Any man that says the twelve are bogus makers, or adulterers, or wicked men, is a liar, and all who say such things shall have the fate of liars, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Who is there that has seen us do such things? No man. The spirit that I am of tramples such slanderous wickedness under my feet. And if they take my life I will go where they cannot hurt me.
"Brother Joseph did cast off Sidney, and his power and authority was taken from him, and put upon Amasa Lyman. We told Brother Sidney to come along with us, and if he will do this we will build him up. Let him do as Elder Amasa Lyman has done. Now we don't expect ever to move without revelation and they that have the keys of the kingdom can get revelation. If any thing would make me fight, it would be to hear any one heap charges on Brother Joseph who is dead. They cannot let the dead alone, so great is their corruption and wickedness.
"Here is another secret leaked out of their secret meetings. They say the man of sin spoken of in the Revelations, is the Twelve. A pretty large man I should say. Now this is the testimony we present before this council to know if we are to fellowship Elder Rigdon any longer.
"The Bishop gave a privilege to the High Council to offer any remarks they thought proper; but, no one attempting to speak, he said he might give a relation of Elder Rigdon's history for near twenty years past, but I deem it unnecessary. I have had some conversation with Elder Rigdon since he
36 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
returned from Pittsburgh. I have also been present when others conversed with him; but I am to decide on the testimony as it has been presented. I was well acquainted with Elder Rigdon a number of years before he came into this church. I never had any confidence in Brother Sidney as a revelator, and why? Because I have so repeatedly heard Brother Joseph rebuke him for speaking in the name of the Lord, what was not so. He was always either in the bottom of the cellar or up in the garret window. At the time his license was taken in Kirtland he was more sanguine than he is now. The people were excited very much at that time, Brother Joseph was away, and when he returned and learned what Sidney had been doing, he took him into council, told him to give up his license to the bishop, and divest himself of all the authority he could, for, said he, the less authority you have the better it will be for you. It has been repeatedly the case when he has been speaking to the church that Joseph has rebuked him for it. The bishop then briefly referred to Elder Mark's objection to our fetching testimony beyond the conference, &c., and then continued: I feel that Brother Rigdon came here with a bad spirit, and has delivered a revelation. If such things as are contained in his revelation, have been revealed to him, it is from a source with which we want nothing to do. When he first came here I thought he was deceived, but since last Tuesday evening I have been convinced that he is dishonest. He made many evasive replies to the interrogatories of the Twelve and I think his calculation is to scatter this people, because his theory comes in opposition to President Joseph Smith's revelations. It has been proved that he prophesied that we should not build this Temple, I believe he is an evil designing man. He is dishonest, and he has lied to carry out his theory. He preached one thing one day and the contrary another. He did not reconcile his preaching to me. I asked him to reconcile it, but he did not do it. I feel to sustain the Twelve in withdrawing their fellowship, and I think the High Council and the church ought to sustain the decision of the Twelve. He concluded by calling upon the High Council to manifest if they were satisfied with his decision, and the vote was unanimous in the affirmative.
"Elder Hyde arose and said he was not satisfied with the motion; it is not explicit enough.
"Elder W. W. Phelps arose and offered a motion, that Elder Sidney Rigdon be cut off from the church, and delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until he repents.
"Bishop Whitney then presented the motion to the High Council, and the vote was unanimous in the affirmative.
"Elder W. W. Phelps then offered the same motion to the church, upon which President Young arose and requested the congregation to place themselves so that they could see all who voted. We want to know who goes for Sidney and who are for the Twelve. He then called upon the church to signify whether they were in favor of the motion. The vote was unanimous, excepting a few of Elder Rigdon's party, numbering about ten."
To satisfy all concerning the trial of Elder Rigdon, it will be necessary to show that he was tried according to the Book of Covenants, as referred to by Elder Young. On page 109 of
AFTER HIS EXCOMMUNICATION. 37
said Book you will find the passage alluded to, which we will copy.
"And inasmuch as a President of the high priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counsellors of the high priesthood; and their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him. Thus none shall be exempted from the justice and the Laws of God, that all things may be done in order and solemnity before him, according to truth and righteousness."
"Elder Rigdon and his friends would now claim, before the church and the world, that he holds the keys of the kingdom of God, of the last dispensation, above the Twelve, the church, &c. I am ready to admit before the whole church and the world, that he does hold one key beyond the Twelve; one, that they do not hold -- one, that God never held, nor Jesus Christ, nor any true prophet, patriarch, or apostle; Joseph and Hyrum Smith were utter strangers to it. And if we can judge from his own mouth, according to the testimony given on his trial, we would suppose that Lucifer, who made war in heaven, was its author; and that it had been handed down unto the present day, and with it Elder Rigdon has unlocked his heart, and portrayed before our eyes what was in it. What was it? Hear it, all ye Latter-day Saints! Listen O earth! and judge the fruits of this key. He threatens to turn traitor, publish against the church in public journals, intimating that he would bring a mob upon the church, stir up the world against the saints, and bring distress upon them, &c. Times and Seasons, Vol. v. p. 650 -- 653. This ought to be a sufficient reason for any true-hearted Latter-day Saint to turn away from him with disgust, and treat all such men and principles according to their desert, which is, to let them entirely alone; for there is not a more despicable principle ever existed in heaven, earth, or hell, than to
38 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
prove a traitor to our God, our cause, and our friends, and bring distress upon the innocent, and that too by turning against the very cause that a man has spent a portion of his life to build up, and declared, while in the faith, that it was true and righteous; for in all such cases there is entirely a misrepresentation of truth and facts, in order to accomplish the intended evil, while a true statement of facts would advance the cause. This same principle was manifest in the case of Lucifer, Judas, Arnold, and many apostates in this church, who, when they could not get their own ends answered, would threaten to bring mobs upon the church, and in some instances, have done so. I would ask, has Joseph or Hyrum Smith ever held such a key as this, or manifested such a spirit as this? No, never; but have despised it in their hearts. President Smith seemed to be sensible that such fruit was growing in the breast of Elder Rigdon; and if he had accomplished what duty appeared to present to his mind upon that subject, that branch would have been severed from the tree before his death; but through mercy it was spared until it has produced fruit which is evil in its tendency, and dangerous to the welfare and prosperity of the church and kingdom of God.
Mr. Rigdon, while on his journey from Nauvoo to Pittsburgh, stopped at St. Louis, and published, in the "People's Organ," a letter containing the reason of his expulsion from the Church, which was, as he said, for the crime of wishing to go to Pittsburgh and live; but soon after he arrived in Pittsburgh, his imagination furnished him with other reasons -- evil, after evil presented themselves to his longing vision; he saw why the Smiths were killed, and the reason of the church rejecting him. He saw himself leading on a victorious army conquering and to conquer.
I cannot describe the state of Mr. Rigdon's mind clearer, than to give the following quotations, from the pen of an eminent writer.
"Imagination may be employed for calling into being evils which have no existence, or for exaggerating those which are real; for fostering malevolent feelings, and for imputing to those with whom we are connected motives and intentions which have no foundation in truth. Finally, an ill regulated imagination may be employed in occupying the mind with waking dreams and vain delusions, to the exclusion of all those high pursuits which ought to employ the faculties of a rational being. To indulge the power of fiction and send imagination out upon the wing, is often the sport of those who delight in too much silent speculation. He who has nothing external that can divert him, must find pleasure in his own thoughts, and must conceive himself what he is not, -- for who is pleased with what he is. He then expatiates in boundless futurity, and calls from all imaginable conditions, that for the present moment he should most desire; amuses his desires with impossible
AFTER HIS EXCOMMUNICATION. 39
enjoyments and confers upon his pride unattainable dominion. The mind dances from scene to scene, unites all pleasures with all combinations, and riots in delights which nature and fortune, with all their bounty, cannot bestow. In time, some particular train of ideas fix the attention, all other intellectual gratifications are rejected; the mind in weariness or leisure, recurs constantly to the favorite conception, and feasts on the luscious falsehood, whenever she is offended with the bitterness of truth. By degrees the reign of fancy is confirmed, she grows, first imperious and in time despotic. Then fictions begin to operate as realities -- false opinions fasten upon the mind, and life passes in dreams of rapture or of anguish."
On the 8th November, Mr. Rigdon delivered a lecture in this city, in which he referred to a conversation between himself and Elder Orson Hyde, on board the Steam Boat "May Flower," at St. Louis. He stated that Hyde requested him not to write any thing for the present. His request said Mr. R., "was made I suppose, because he was fearful I would expose his abominations."
I will now give Elder Hyde's edition of the conversation referred to.
"It is true that I went to see Mr. Rigdon on board the steamer "May Flower," and I took him aside as a friend, and told him I considered his case a critical one, yet I indulged the hope that he would see the error into which he had fallen, and ere long retrace his steps. Now, said I to him, be careful how you put pen to paper in this time of your excitement, but wait a few months and then see how you will feel -- should you write in the present state of your feelings, you may commit yourself and lay the foundation for a more bitter repentance at some future period. He said that his course was marked out before him, and that he should pursue it. I replied, I have come to you, Mr. Rigdon, in a spirit of friendship and good will, because I feel it my duty so to do, and drop you this word of caution -- but if your course is marked out, and you are resolved to pursue it, you certainly are of age and must act for yourself, and I shall not try to prevent you. Thus were my most kind and friendly feelings transformed in his dark imagination into a disposition on my part to conceal my own scheme.
40 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
met together in council and agreed that Mr. Rigdon should make no defence and that his health was quite as good as usual.
As Mr. R. proceeded, he made use of the following passages of Scripture: Isa. 3rd Chap. from the 16th verse to the end of the 4th Chapter; most of his quotations from the 3rd Chap. he applied to the females at Nauvoo, in their rich and ornamental attire, walking and mincing as they go and making a tinkling with their feet. Part of the 4th chap. he said had also been fulfilled in Nauvoo.
The next quotation given was from the 3rd chap. II Timothy, which he applied to those who had rejected him, in the same manner as he had in by-gone days applied it to all the sectarian preachers and churches. He had assumed a mild appearance at the commencement, but occasionally, "from the abundance of the heart the mouth would speak." After considerable ranting and pounding of the desk, with wild looks, and many vehement gestures, he lowered his voice and commenced commenting upon the parables in the 13th chap. of Matthew; he said there was to be a division of the wheat and tares, after the wheat was gathered from the tares, the Kingdom of Heaven would be like a grain of mustard seed. He endeavored, with great emphasis, to impress the above idea on the minds of his hearers, said he, "when the wheat and tares grew together, the kingdom looked large -- but after the wheat was gathered out it looked like a grain of mustard seed, very small indeed." But alas, said he, I have the most painful part yet to relate; he then read the latter part of the 24th chap. of Matthew, the sayings of the Saviour where he speaks of the wicked servant, at the time of his coming. He (R.) applied the same in the most sympathetic manner to the death of Elder Joseph Smith saying, he was cut off in an hour when he looked not for it, breaking out into a half crying tone, exclaiming, "Oh, Joseph! Joseph! Joseph! Where art thou! Oh, Joseph! thou wicked servant, thou hast fallen because of thy transgression! Thou hadst the promise that thou shouldst live if thou wert faithful until the coming of the
Saviour! Thou didst have the promise of translating more of the sacred Records! Oh Joseph! if thou hadst not sinned thou mightest have been here, to have thundered forth Heaven's Eternal truth! Oh Joseph, Joseph, I shall not see thee till I meet thee in the Eternal World!"
After the foregoing sympathetic compound had been poured out to blacken the character of the Martyred Prophet, he gave a quotation from the 25th chap. of Matthew, concerning the Ten Virgins. "Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven be likened unto ten Virgins which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. And five of them were wise and five were foolish. Then," said R., "shall the Kingdom of Heaven be likened unto Ten Virgins. That is," said he, "after the wicked servant should be cut off, and not before, that was to be accomplished first."
42 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
even as Aaron was with Moses, if so, what would it prove? The sequel will show that both Prophets failed to make competent leaders of their spokesmen, although they spared no pains to instruct them in the things of the kingdom. Aaron had witnessed the plagues of Egypt, his rod was turned into a serpent and greedily devoured that of the Magicians; he saw the sea divided and the mountains skipping like rams, and the little hills like lambs, the earth itself trembled beneath his feet at the presence of the mighty God of Jacob. He had seen the food of Angels dropping from the bright clouds of Heaven; and showers of feathered fowls covered the landscape before him as dust, HE went up with Moses, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the Elders of Israel, where he was permitted to gaze on the God of Israel, under whose feet there was a paved work as it were of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. Aaron was spoken of as the first to put on the sacerdotal robe, of purple, blue and scarlet, ornamented with a breast plate of gold in which was placed the Urim and Thummim; with the mitre upon his head and the holy crown upon the mitre, with the golden bells and pomegranates about his person, that his sound might be heard as he went into and returned from the holy place. He had listened to the roaring peals of thunder; that rent the clouds on Sinai's lofty summit, HE saw the concave of Heaven illuminated with the blazing lightning, while his brother was on the Mount receiving the law, from the finger of the great I AM, in the midst of overpowering grandeur. If seeing miracles or wonders, would have qualified a man to be a leader, Aaron would have been second to but few. When Moses parted with Aaron, to go up into the Mount of God, he said unto the Elders "tarry ye here for us until we come again unto you, and behold Aaron and Hur, are with you, if any man have any matters to do let him come unto them." Thinking no doubt that the experience of Aaron, with the assistance of Hur, would be amply sufficient to adjust all matters that might be brought before him, while he (Moses) was receiving the law, in the midst of the burning elements. But the terrific appearance on Sinai's burning height, failed to supply the place of Moses, for when the people saw that he delayed coming down from the Mount, they besought Aaron to make them Gods to go before them, for they wot not what had become of the man Moses. Aaron not only consented, but proposed what the god should be made out of, he was the head workman that fashioned the golden ornaments into the calf god; the people when they saw it said these be thy gods, O! Israel, that brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and Aaron built an altar and made proclamation and
said, to-morrow is a feast to the Lord, and they rose up early on the morrow and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. Notwithstanding Aaron was a leader with Moses, yet in the absence of Moses he proved himself capable of making a calf, and leading the people from the true God, to worship an idol -- all the wonders that he had seen and heard, were not enough to influence him to lead the people to the living God of WONDERS! The anger of the Lord waxed hot, and had it not been for the intercessions of Moses; Aaron and Israel would have shared the same fate that the calf met with shortly after. Well might Hosea say, "by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt and by a prophet was he preserved." If more proof was wanting we might add the murmuring of Aaron and Miriam, when they daringly spake against Moses, and were again saved by the entreaties of a dear brother, whose soul was often vexed by the rebellion and murmuring of the people. From the facts relating to Aaron, we come to the conclusion that he was incompetent to be at the head of Israel, as their leader. In the station held by Mr. Rigdon, as well as in his course of life, may be seen a striking analogy, (if not a resemblance) to the station and course of Aaron. Mr. Rigdon acted as spokesman and leader with Elder J. Smith; he with him, gazed on things beyond the vail, the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms, all passed before them in their beauty and glory, the dark regions of Hades, he also viewed while wrapped in the visions of the Almighty; HE saw and felt the glory of the Lord, when the Spirit rested upon the Elders of Israel, he saw convoy after convoy of Angels, the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof; he has seen the sick recover in answer to the prayer of faith, when they were near dropping into the tomb, when clothed with the spirit of his office, as spokesman for the Prophet Joseph, he has literally astonished the wise and noble of the age, and caused them to tremble like Belteshazzar of old, but what he saw, heard and felt, combined with his eloquence, did not prepare him to be leader in the absence of Joseph. From the facts collected, it will be seen, that he has made in every attempt a signal failure. Though I do not pretend to say that Mr. R. has at any time made a golden calf for the people to worship, yet his course if it could have been carried out in Ohio, would have fallen but little, if any, short of idolatry. Carry out his sentiments advanced in Missouri, and democracy sinks under the power of anarchy. Let the Elders of Israel take the course that Mr. R. has pursued for the last five years, and what would become of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It would certainly soon be
44 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
in a very bad condition, if not entirely broken up. Add to the above fact, that he has rivalled Aaron, in every sense of the word pertaining to murmuring, and complaining, until Elder Smith was compelled to reject him in his office, and actually ordain another in his place, leaving Mr. R. in the hands of the church, on trial for one year. In this situation we find him, when the unexpected news reached him, of the death of the Prophet, and Patriarch, the sound had scarcely reached his ears before he claimed the Prophetic mantle; the next day after he had read the Nauvoo papers, he said to me in the presence of several others, that he should now take his place, at the head of the church, in spite of men or devils, at the risk of his life. With this determination he evidently went to Nauvoo. But we will see that there is something about this mantle, so often spoken of, as peculiar in its nature as the sacerdotal robe of Aaron, and there is but one way to put it on, the Prophet Joseph, and Patriarch Hyrum, wore it at least until the day of their death, more anon -- they wear it yet, forsooth, they never lost it. But if Mr. Rigdon has wore it for the last five years, it has been on him, (what it was not on Joseph and Hyrum) invisible altogether; one would need the Urim and Thummim, out of the breast plate of Aaron to look through, in order to see it on Mr. R., yet it has been visible, and is now on many of the servants of the Lord, you could see it ready to fall on the Prophet Joseph, in every state of the Union, and in Europe, and on the Islands of the sea, in the groves, on the mountains, hills and plains, among the saints, scattered or gathered, in the pulpit, or at prayer meeting, or at the family altar, in the mouths of old and young, down to the prattling child. The reader may want to know what this wonderful mantle is composed of, I will give you the Lord's description, as being preferable to any other. "Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three presiding high priests, chosen by the body appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the church." That the Prophet and Patriarch wore the mantle no one can in justice deny; and I presume no one will claim, that the same mantle, fell on Mr. Rigdon after their death. The trial shows where the mantle fell, and places it beyond controversy. Remember the materials of which it is composed. The choice of the body, was one indispensable component part, upholding was another of the same importance, not to be dispensed with, without destroying the garment. Confidence was the main material; if taken away, the robe would be rent in twain. The faith and prayer of the church adorned it with celestial beauty, wreathing the brow of the wearer with
unfading and immortal laurels. Will any one pretend to say that Mr. Rigdon is now clothed with it, can any one in justice say the Twelve have disrobed him. No, verily no, for he has been disrobed for nearly five years. Brothers Joseph and Hyrum, and the Twelve, have endeavored with all their might to keep the robe from departing beyond his reach, that he might not lose it forever, but their endeavors proved abortive. Where is his mantle? gone, forever gone. The choice, confidence, faith, and prayer, of the church, falls no more on him, as one of their leaders; they pray for him, as they pray for a prodigal sunk in deep mire, or hastening with great velocity to the same.
If Mr. Rigdon's inexplicable course at Nauvoo, was not a transgression, I confess myself unable to give it a name. But it is evidently plain, that he did transgress in various ways, also that the same was proven to an ocular demonstration before the council. Said council constitutes a lawful ecclesiastical court, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; the Lord said, that their decision on the head of a president of the high priesthood, should be an end of controversy concerning him. From the facts relating to Mr. Rigdon, the conclusion is irresistible, namely, that he was incompetent to stand at the head of the saints, as their leader, also, that he was lawfully rejected and excommunicated from the church, for propagating false revelations, and for holding secret meetings, and ordaining men, contrary to the order of the priesthood, as written in the Book of Covenants, and for trying to divide the church, by speaking against the living and the dead.
Let us view Mr. Rigdon's course after the trial. While on his way to Pittsburgh, he published in the "People's Organ," at St. Louis, the reason of his expulsion, stating definitely, that he was turned out of the church, for the notorious crime of wishing to go and live in Pennsylvania; in the same communication, he says: "On hearing of the murder of the two Smiths, I returned to Nauvoo, without any intention however of making Nauvoo my place of residence." The subject is beyond controversy, that he went to Nauvoo, and told the saints, again and again, that the Lord had directed him to see that the views and measures of Brother Joseph were carried out to the letter, yet his language shows that he had concocted a plan, before leaving Pittsburgh, of removing the seat of the first Presidency and the church, to Pennsylvania; such a course if he had succeeded, would have been carrying out the views of Elder Smith with a vengeance. He would have by one fell stroke, completely revolutionized all that the Prophet aimed at, pertaining to the gathering.
46 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.
A moment's reflection will be sufficient to convince the judicious that such a plan must have been the fruit of a disordered imagination, acting as the ruling principle in the whole character. We are led to the same conclusion from the facts that show the desires cherished, and mental habits acquired, by which the indications of conscience have been repeatedly violated, and the most sacred promises broken with impunity; Elder Woodruff might with propriety say that Mr. Rigdon holds one key above the Twelve, and I think his argument is logically conclusive that Mr. Rigdon received it from a different source, and from another apartment of the great house, as well as from another personage. Mr. R's key, however, will undoubtedly be needed in his Kingdom; "For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom, cannot abide a celestial glory; and he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom, cannot abide a terrestrial glory; he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom, cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore, he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore, he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory." The elements which compose Mr. R's kingdom, or church, have been rejected by the kingdom and church of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as hay, wood and stubble, -- a heterogeneous mass, that has been collecting for several years, as a meteor collects in the air to explode, when it loses the power of adhesion. That Mr. R's mental economy has become greatly impaired, is evident from the many contradictory statements he has made within the last six months; think, for a moment, on what he said in Pittsburgh, and in Nauvoo, about Elders J. and H. Smith, when he lauded them to the heavens. Then view his lecture which he delivered in this city, his wild interpretations of the word of the living God, as given through his servants, the prophets and apostles, in by-gone generations; look at his application of the Saviour's words, as recorded by Matthew, his allusion to the conversation in relation to brother Hyde; his manner, &c. Is not the conclusion irresistible with you, as well as with me, that the mental harmony of Mr. R's mind, is greatly impaired, I cannot reason otherwise. I would not, however, have any one pluck a laurel from his brow, that in justice belongs to him; I know he has been a tall cedar in Israel; his eloquence has often captivated the multitude, enlisting the feelings of many in his favour; I have watched over him and his family in the days of my boyhood, when mobs were threatening their destruction, and even now I would travel over hill and dale to bring them back to the fold from which they have strayed.
But, can any of the Elders of Israel set calmly down and
hear Mr. Rigdon belch forth his abuse, like the burning lava from Mount Vesuvius, with the avowed design to blacken the character and reputation of the martyred prophet, who has honourably won a fame more lasting than the monuments of Greece or Rome, or the Pyramids of Egypt, that have for centuries lifted the same point to heaven, amidst the sands and whirlwinds of the Desert. Elder Smith proved himself to be, what but few have been in any age, namely, a competent Leader of the Church of Christ. From the page of history, we learn that every age has produced its Orators, Philosophers and Statesmen. Yet all admit that judicious leaders have been scarce in every age of the world. Can we then, without a reply, bear to have the tombs of the virtuous dead desecrated by the fruits of a disordered imagination. Is it not our duty to rise up and defend, by all honourable means, bleeding innocence; if we do it not, will not their blood cry against us; we owe it to their bereaved families, the widows and the orphans, the hoary locks of the aged mother and lonely Brother and weeping sisters. We owe it to the church of God, to ourselves, our wives and children to the latest generation; by every tie that binds us to our religion, by the sacred covenants made to the fathers on this land, or in Asia; by every noble feeling of our natures; by the memory of the past and the hope of the future. May we remember to do justice to the martyred Prophet and Patriarch, lest our right hands forget their cunning, and our tongues cleave to the roof of our mouths.
We will conclude the subject in our next number.
48 ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON'S COURSE.