OneWhoIsWatching continues his previous study:
In part one of this article we reviewed corroborating accounts of the calling of Lyman Wight and others to the High Priesthood of Melchizedek and his testimony of the Father and the Son.
He was the first Elder in this dispensation to be given the Holy Priesthood after the order of the Son of God, which has been named after Melchizedek, a great High Priest who established Zion and translated his people.
As we saw from the testimony provided, the spirit in Joseph would reveal who God wanted to ordain and then the spirit within Lyman would ordain that person. Lyman ordained 16 people including Joseph and Sidney. Joseph ordained Lyman and the remaining elders of the 23 who were ordained. Some were called by the voice of the Lord out of heaven and others were chosen by the voice of the Lord out of heaven.
The Man of Sin is Revealed
Shortly after Lyman Wight was filled with the Spirit and had the heavens opened to him, bearing witness of the Father and the Son, the spirit of Satan entered the room and possessed several of the brethren.
Interestingly, according to some of the testimony given, various people at the conference struggled with possession and evil spirits for the next two days!
“Joseph put his hands on Harvey Whitlock and Ordained him to the high Priesthood he turned as black as Lyman was white his fingers was set like Claws he went round the Room and showed his hands and tried to speak his eyes was in the shape of Ovil Oes. [Spelling?]
Hyrum Smith said Joseph that is not of God Joseph said do not speak against this I will not believe said Hyrum unless you inquire if God owns it Joseph bowed his head a short time got up and Commanded Satan to leave Harvey laying his hands upon his head at the same time.
At that very instant an Old man said to way two hundread and fourteen pounds sitting in the window turned a complete summersett in the house and came his back across a bench and lay helpless Joseph told Lyman to cast Satan out he did.
The man’s name was Leman Copley formaly a Shaker The evil spirit left him and as quick as lightning Harvey Green fell bound and screamed like a Panther.
Satan was cast out of him but imediately entered so I heared it continued all day and the greater part of the knight“. (Levi Handcock)
Here is the recollection of Ezra Booth;
“Another Elder, who had been ordained to the same office as Wight, at the bidding of Smith, stepped upon the floor. Then ensued a scene, of which you can form no adequate conception; and which, I would forbear relating, did not the truth require it.
The Elder moved upon the floor, his legs inclining to a bend; one shoulder elevated above the other, upon which the head seemed disposed to recline, his arms partly extended; his hands partly clenched; his mouth partly open, and contracted in the shape of an italic O;
his eyes assumed a wild ferocious cast, and his whole appearance presented a frightful object to the view of the beholder.— “Speak, Brother Harvey” said Smith. But Harvey intimated by signs, that his power of articulation was in a state of suspense, and that he was unable to speak.
Some conjectured that Harvey was possessed of the devil, but Smith said, “the Lord binds in order to set at liberty.“
After different opinions had been given, and there had been much confusion, Smith learnt by the spirit, that Harvey was under a diabolical influence, and that Satan had bound him; and he commanded the unclean spirit to come out of him.
It now became clearly manifest, that “the man of sin was revealed,” for the express purpose that the elders should become acquainted with the devices of Satan; and after that they would possess knowledge sufficient to manage him. This, Smith declared to be a miracle, and his success in this case, encouraged him to work other and different miracles.” (Ezra Booth)
John Whitmer’s recollection is consistent with the others;
“While the Lord poured out his spirit upon his servants, the Devil took occation to make known his power. He bound Harvey Whitlock <and John Murdock> > so that he could not speak and others were affected, but the Lord showed to Joseph the Seer the design of this thing, he commanded the devil in the name of Christ and he departed to our joy and comfort“
Zebedee Coltrin recalled;
“Harvey Whitlock was ordained next with the same promise but after his ordination, when standing on his feet, he seemed paralyzed. His mouth was drawn into the shape of an italic O, and his arm was stretched out as if nailed to a cross. Joseph rebuked the power that had seized him, and it left him”
Philo Dibble recalled;
“Then Harvey Whitlock stepped into the middle of the room with his arms crossed, bound by the power of Satan, and his mouth twisted unshapely. Hyrum Smith arose and declared that there was an evil spirit in the room. Joseph said, “Don’t be too hasty,” and Hyrum sat down.
Hyrum rose the second time, saying,
“I know my duty and will do it,” and stepping to Harvey, commanded the evil spirits to leave him, but the spirits did not obey, Joseph then approached Harvey and asked him if he believed in God. Then we saw a change in Harvey“
The above accounts of this event seem to highlight both the powers of light and darkness that were manifest during the first bestowal of this highest priesthood.
Great miracles and the opening of the heavens and the testimony of Jesus Christ took place.
Conversely, as promised, the “man of sin” was revealed. The power of Satan was revealed in great power and those who had been given the priesthood and were faithful, now had power to discern and overcome evil spirits.
The Dynamics of Ego
Statements from leaders of the church in later years would indicate that jealousies and contentions would eventually evolve and manifest themselves as a result of this event. One can only imagine the amount of pressure everyone felt, realizing that those who were “worthy” would receive the endowment of the highest priesthood while everyone else watched.
Additionally, some of the Elders had a hard time accepting the experience as being from God and “some doubting took place“.
John Corrill makes reference of this in his reminiscence of the event;
“… there was a revelation received, requiring the prophet to call the elders together, that they might receive an endowment. This was done, and the meeting took place some time in June.
About fifty elders met, which was about all the elders that then belonged to the church. The meeting was conducted by Smith. Some curious things took place. The same visionary and marvellous spirits spoken of before, got hold of some of the elders;
it threw one from his seat to the floor; it bound another, so that for some time he could not use his limbs nor speak; and some other curious effects were experienced, but, by a mighty exertion, in the name of the Lord, it was exposed and shown to be from an evil source.
The Melchizedek priesthood was then for the first time introduced, and conferred on several of the elders. In this chiefly consisted the endowment—it being a new order—and bestowed authority.
However, some doubting took place among the elders, and considerable conversation was held on the subject. The elders not fairly understanding the nature of the endowments, it took some time to reconcile all their feelings.”
Doubts about the High Priesthood
Some characterized this holy event as not being of God, claiming that the New Testament and Book of Mormon Churches never had High Priests in them.
Oliver Cowdery and his brother in law David Whitmer became very jealous of Sidney Rigdon when he joined the Church and became so influential. They felt he had undue influence over Joseph Smith and that he was the instigator of this event.
Below are the remarks of David Whitmer after he left the church. He is among those who eventually rejected the introduction of the Highest Priesthood;
“The next grievous error which crept into the church was in ordaining high priests in June, 1831. This error was introduced at the instigation of Sydney Rigdon. The office of high priests was never spoken of, a revelation would always come just as they desired it. Rigdon finally persuaded Brother Joseph and never thought of being established in the church until Rigdon came in.
Remember that we had been preaching from August 1829, until June, 1831—almost two years—and had baptized about 2,000 members into the Church of Christ, and had not one high priest. During 1829, several times we were told by Brother Joseph that an elder was the highest office in the church….
In Kirkland, Ohio, in 1831, Rigdon would expound the Old Testament scriptures of the Bible and Book of Mormon (in his way) to Joseph, concerning the priesthood, high priests, etc., and would persuade Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord about this doctrine, and of course to believe that the high priests which had such great power in ancient times, should be in the Church of Christ to-day. He had Brother Joseph inquire of the Lord about it, and they received an answer according to their erring desires..
High Priests were only in the church before Christ; and to have this office in the “Church of Christ” is not according to the teachings of Christ in either of the sacred books: Christ himself is our great and last High Priest.
Brethren—I will tell you one thing which alone should settle this matter in your minds; it is this: you cannot find in the New Testament part of the Bible or Book of Mormon where one single high priest was ever in the Church of Christ. It is a grievous sin to have such an office in the church. As well might you add to the teachings of Christ—circumcision—offering up the sacrifice of animals—or break the ordinances of Christ in any other way by going back to the old law of Moses..
In Kirtland, Ohio, in June, 1831,… the first High Priests were ordained…. When they were ordained, right there at the time, the devil caught and bound Harvey Whitlock so he could not speak, his face twisted into demon-like shape. Also John Murdock and others were caught by the devil in a similar manner. Now brethren, do you not see that the displeasure of the Lord was upon their proceedings, in ordaining High Priests? Of course it was” (An address to All Believers in Christ)
Whitmer brings up a great point about no High Priests being present in the New Testament Church. However what he didn’t grasp is that Joseph Smith was not just restoring the New Testament Church of Christ.
He was restoring many of the Old Testament priesthood gifts and preparing the Saints to establish Zion, just as it had been prophesied in the book of Mormon. He was doing just as the High Priest Enoch did with his people, just as the High Priest Melchizedek did with his people, just as the High Priest Jesus Christ did with the Nephites.
In order for the Church of Christ to establish Zion, the office of high Priest needed to be restored.
Brigham Young, like David Whitmer is another that struggled with the concept of a third and “highest” priesthood.
He had been comfortable with the first two priesthoods that had been restored in 1829. He was in a dubious position 3 ½ years after the martyrdom when he and the twelve created a first Presidency, having himself never been ordained a High Priest!
Undoubtedly, he was under intense pressure to explain how he could claim to be president over the Church and the High Priesthood when in fact, he had never been ordained a high priest.
He made the following statement;
“Now will it cause some of you to marvel that I was not ordained a High Priest before I was ordained an apostle? It was William McLellin who told Joseph that I and Heber were not ordained High Priests, and wanted to know if it should not be done.
Said Joseph, “Will you insult the priesthood? Is that all the knowledge you have of the office of an Apostle? Do you not know that the man who receives the apostleship receives all the keys that ever were, or that can be conferred upon mortal man?
When a man is ordained to be an Apostle, his Priesthood is without beginning of days, or end of life, like the Priesthood of Melchizedek; for it was his Priesthood that was spoken of in this language, and not the man. Ref Here
Brigham Young’s reminiscence that Joseph smith made the above remark and the claim that the Apostleship holds all the keys that ever were, is not consistent with the events that transpired in the history of the church or the teachings of Joseph Smith, or the scriptures.
Of course, it was not Joseph’s perogative to give the highest priesthood to Brigham or any other man. That priesthood is not given on the basis of lineage or according to “the will of man”. God alone determines who he wants to give that priesthood to.
Brigham makes it sound like an amazing thing that he could be ordained an apostle first, and therefore have no need to be ordained a high priest, priesthood, however, the simple fact of the matter is the Joseph Smith was an apostle in 1829 BEFORE the highest priesthood was conferred in 1831, yet God still saw a need to call Joseph Smith to be ordained a high priest, proving that there is more priesthood authority than that of the apostleship.
Joseph Smith made it clear that the office of High Priest indeed held a greater priesthood than that of a prophet or Apostle;
“That of Melchizedek who had still greater power even power of an endless life of which was our Lord Jesus Christ which also Abraham obtained by the offering of his son Isaac which was not the power of a Prophet nor apostle nor patriarch only, but of King & Priest to God to open the windows of heaven and pour out the peace & Law of endless Life to man &No man can attain to the Joint heirship with Jesus Christ with out being administered to by one having the same power and authority of Melchizedek.” Words of Joseph Smith 245
Clearly, what Brigham Young taught about the priesthood was not accurate or congruent with what the Prophet Joseph Smith had revealed. Although the Apostolic Priesthood holds all the keys necessary to govern the Church and dispense the ordinances of salvation, it is not as great as the priesthood that Melchizedek held.
This event that took place at the first conference held in Kirtland Ohio was very disruptive. Not only did it demonstrate the literal power of the the man of sin, it challenged the existing doctrine of the priesthood.
Additionally, one can only imagine the dynamics that took place between so many strong personalities and the egos involved in experiencing this amazing event.
Keep in mind that the promise had been made that those who were worthy would be given the high priesthood.
What kind of pressure would that put on those attending?
How would you feel if you were one of the ones attending that got passed over for the endowment of High Priesthood? Would that mean that you were not worthy?
What if you were one of the ones that became possessed? Does that mean you are less righteous than others? Or was that experience an endowment in and of itself that gifts a person with discernment?
Lots of questions come to mind as one reviews the listing of those who are present and who were called to the High Priesthood and what transpired that day.
Why does this event create indigestion for many LDS scholars, authors and members?
One possible reason is that it contradicts our current two levels of priesthood belief system that has been perpetuated in the Church down to this very day.
David Whitmer brings up a very important point when he said; “During 1829, several times we were told by Brother Joseph that an elder was the highest priesthood office in the church..“
That statement was true at the time Joseph made it prior to the restoration of the Highest Priesthood at the Morley Farm. Things changed when the highest priesthood was restored. Yet even today it is taught in the Church that the Apostolic Priesthood is the greatest priesthood there is.
Another possible reason that the restoration of the highest priesthood causes indigestion is that several of the elders ordained to the High Priesthood almost immediately rejected the fulness of the gospel and the priesthood they had been given, and became critics of Joseph Smith and the Church. Others fell away later.
That is disturbing.
Yet, as we are told in the Book of Mormon, there must be opposition in all things.
The falling away of some who were called to the high priesthood gives greater insight into the Lords declaration that some were called and some were chosen.
Lyman Wight, however, had the heavens opened to him, testifies of God the Father and his Son and then spends the remainder of Joseph Smiths ministry as one of Joseph’s most loyal associates and passionate witnesses of Christ and the LDS restoration movement. With that resume, he then rejects Brigham Young’s leadership.
It is surprising that he was not considered an obvious candidate to lead the church during the succession crisis.
The fact that Lyman had been ordained to the Highest Priesthood and had seen the Father and the Son, while Brigham had not been so privileged seemed to be lost upon the majority of the Saints at the time of the succession issue. It did however, apparently seem significant to Lyman, who seems to have had very little regard for Brigham.
That reason alone would cause some to want to downplay the significance of this event and the role that Lyman Wight played in the work of the Lord up to the time of the Martyrdom.
But there are other issues pertaining to the restoration of the office of the High Priest that are curious as well.
What about high profile Elders who played such an important role in very early stages of the restoration such as William Smith, Levi Hancock, Orson Pratt, Zebedee Coltrin and Newel Knight that were present but passed over for the Highest Priesthood?
What about Zebedee Coltrin, who would eventually see God and Christ while attending the school of the prophets, why was he passed over? Was he later born of due time like Paul? BTW, the school of the prophets was not introduced until AFTER the HIGH PRIESTHOOD was introduced! Indeed these men were the designated prophets for which the school was instituted.
Apparently, Oliver Cowdery, one of the three witnesses and co-presidents of the Church, was not even present at this meeting, how odd it that? (was he to be the 24th High Priest to complete the quorum?)
How is it possible that word went out about this meeting enabling elders from the east, south, north and west to gather, yet Oliver could not be there?
Although the Far West Record records David Whitmer as being present, he apparently denies having been present in one of his later writings. Is his name in the Far West Record just a mistake made by some of the clerks, including his own brother who was the conference historian? If so, it is very strange that his name is listed in the Far West Record and stranger still that he is called as one of the Elders who is to travel to Missouri in section 52, the day after the conference is completed.
Curiously, Martin Harris, another of the three witnesses, who the Lord had previously referred to as a “wicked man” in one of the revelations, is the only one of the three witnesses that was ordained a High Priest on that occasion!
Of the 23 that were ordained High Priests, all had previously been ordained Elders except for Martin Harris who had been ordained a Priest… this takes on even greater significance when one remembers that his two brethren of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon, Oliver and David had previously been called by revelation to choose and ordain the 12 apostles.
Was there a reason why Oliver and David should not have the highest priesthood in their stewardship in calling the Twelve Apostles? Since the quorum of the Twelve were going to take the preparatory gospel to the dispersed of Judah, one has to wonder.
How strange that Martin is ordained a High Priest, yet is not invited to participate with Oliver and David who were not High Priests, in choosing the Twelve Apostles!
What about Brigham Young?
Why was he missing when the Highest Priesthood was revealed at the Morley Farm?
It is interesting to note that Brigham Young learned about the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the Church of Christ and the fulness of the gospel in 1830, about the same time that Lyman Wight did. Yet Brigham Young did not participate in this great event at the Morley Farm because it took him two years to think things over before joining the church.
Young was eventually drawn to Mormonism after reading the Book of Mormon shortly after its publication in 1830. Samuel Smith, brother to the Prophet Joseph, tracted through the area where the Young family lived with a knapsack of the newly printed scripture.
Two of these copies made their way into the hands of Brigham’s siblings and began to circulate through the family.
Brigham Young later reminisced his lengthy conversion process;
“When the [B]ook of Mormon was first printed, it came to my hands in two or three weeks afterwards. Did I believe, on the first intimation of it? . . . ‘Hold on,’ says I. . . . ‘Wait a little while; what is the doctrine of the book, and of the revelations the Lord has given? Let me apply my heart to them. . . . I considered it to be my right to know for myself, as much as any man on earth. I examined the matter studiously for two years before I made up my mind to receive that book. . . . I wished time sufficient to prove all things for myself.” He later recalled: “I was not baptized on hearing the first sermon, nor the second, nor during the first year of my acquaintance with this work.”
Besides studying the Book of Mormon, Brigham wanted to learn the character of those who professed to believe in it. He apparently found it important to judge the messengers as well as the message;
“I watched to see whether good common sense was manifest; and if they had that, I wanted them to present it in accordance with the Scriptures. . . . [W]hen I had ripened everything in my mind, I drank it in, and not till then.”
We can only assume that Brigham’s absence at the special conference and God’s unwillingness to have him ordained to the highest priesthood in later years was all part of Gods plan for him.
Perhaps one of the most curious things about this event is the order in which people were called and ordained to the High Priesthood. We know that God is a God of order. The very first man ordained obviously had a very significant position in this newly ordained quorum of High Priests. It seems probably that he would be the president of the quorum.
The fact that Lyman Wight was the first to be ordained to the High Priesthood and the first to have the heavens parted and to testify of seeing the Father and the Son after his ordination, instead of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery or Sidney Rigdon is very, very significant!
Here is Lyman’s reminiscence of the event;
“On the 4th of June 1831, a conference was held at Kirtland, <Ohio> represented by all the above mamed [named] branches; Joseph Smith our modern Prophet presided; and here I again saw the visible manifestations of the power of God as plain as could have been on the day of pentecost and here for the first time I saw the Melchisedec priesthood introduced into the church of Jesus Christ as anciently; whereunto I was ordained under the hands of Joseph Smith, and I then ordainded Joseph and Sidney and sixteen others such as he chose unto the same priesthood. The spirit of God was made manifest to the heeling of the sick, cast<ing> out devils, speaking in unknown tongues, discerning of spirits, and prophesying with mighty power, After the two days the conference broke up receiving the revelation which appointed 28 elders their Mission to Missouri“
Lyman Wight is one of the best kept secrets of the restoration movement.
Few members of the Church have any comprehension of who he was and the sacrifices he made for the kingdom.
If you have not taken the time to familiarize yourself this amazing disciple of Christ who became known as the “Wild Ram of the Mountains” and who was given the cryptic title and military/priesthood title of “baneemy” in one of the revelations, please click here. He is among the first laborers of the last kingdom that will be returning soon. I strongly suggest you get to know him.
He probably expended more energy in trying to live the law of consecration for the duration of his life than any other personality in the movement. In a revelation given after his ordination as a high Priest the Lord said;
“And again, I say unto you that it is my will that my servant Lyman Wight should continue in preaching for Zion, in the spirit of meekness, confessing me before the world; and I will bear him up as on eagles’ wings; and he shall beget glory and honor to himself and unto my name.” Doctrine and Covenants 84: 21-26)
This revelation reminds us that the high priests were called to “preach for Zion”
If there is one major theme interwoven throughout Wight’s life-long ministry, it was his continual personal attempt to live consecration and facilitate others to do it.
He was passionate about living it and was quite critical of other leaders growing out of the succession debate such as Strang, Thompson and Young for their inability to personally live consecration, as well as their acquisition of wealth which he felt was extracted from their followers.
One writer made the following observation about Wight;
“There is one significant thing about Lyman Wight’s community efforts, which deserves attention because of its extreme rarity in Utopian experiments. Wight, as acknowledged leader, never desired or sought temporal or spiritual advantage over his fellows.
When he received letters from Strang, “King James I, president of the church”; from Brigham Young, telling of ecclesiastical honors acquired since the death of Joseph, and Thompson with his many titles, he was wont to sign his answer with profound sarcasm, “Lyman Wight, and nothing else.”
In scathing denunciation of those who he thought were acquiring wealth at the expense of their brethren, he wrote of the Melchisedec priesthood:
‘But those who aspire after this priesthood, and seek to obtain it while rolling in luxuries, and seeking the applause of men, I would simply ask them these questions, Have you drunk of the cup whereof Christ drank, and have you been baptized with the baptism wherewith he was baptized?
Have you followed the commandment that he gave to the young man and sold all that thou hadst, and give it to the poor?
Have you sold the last coat you had, and traveled in your shirt sleeves sooner than you would see the poor left to the ravages of a ruthless mob?
Have you traveled on foot hundreds and hundreds of miles and sought a place for the Saints to camp at, night after night, that they might seclude themselves from the hands of wicked and evil designing men, and then roll yourself in a blanket, and lay yourself in an open prairie, under the open canopy of heaven, in the cold night dews?
If you have not done all these, you have not yet fulfilled the saying of the Saviour where he says, If you would be greatest you must first become the least and servant of all….I again ask, when did the church flourish?
When the Nephites that dwelt upon this land did not call “aught they possessed their own; but it all belonged to the Lord.”
When did the people mourn and lament, and howl and weep?
I answer, when their priests were lifted up in the pride of their hearts, to the wearing of fine apparel and oppressing the poor and the hireling in his wages, riding in fine carriages, with cushioned seats, bristled carpets, leaving the poor to work out their own salvation among those who are their vital enemies; while the rich and opulent were permitted to increase in opulence by tithing and wringing from the hands of the peasant his hard-earnings.”
Lyman Wight was one of the few personalities that practiced what he preached… and one of the few that other leaders with strong personalities could not intimidate or control. His boss was a Jewish Carpenter!
The timing of the special conference at the Morley Farm is very significant. We must remember that it was the first conference of the church in Kirtland. The church was in its infancy and had just migrated to Kirtland as a result of the Lord’s admonition to gather there so that he could give them the law of consecration and an endowment which would enable them to escape the power of the enemy;
“And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless— Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high“
It is amazing to realize that today the Saints are in a scattered condition among the gentiles and are now at the mercy of secret combinations because we failed back then to live consecration and enjoy the protective priesthood hedge that was being offered.
The LAW of consecration was given to the Saints shortly after they arrived in Kirtland on January 2nd 1831. This law is what will enable the Saints to establish Zion once they are endowed again with the highest priesthood. That is why it is called the law of the celestial kingdom and it is the law upon which Zion is built;
“And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” D&C 105: 5, 32, 34
Now, in this first conference of the Church held just two months after the law of the Gospel was given, the Lord was restoring the priesthood that Enoch and Melchizedek held. Why? So that the Saints could be gathered, sanctified and establish Zion just as the people of Enoch and Melchizedek did.
Having detailed what happened at the special conference having to do with the restoration of the Highest Priesthood and the revealing of the “man of sin“, we need to review the content in sections 52 through 65 now that we have the proper context for these revelations.
Amazingly, section 52 which is given the day after the conference ended, and was specifically addressing the conference attendees, begins by saying;
“Behold, thus saith the Lord unto the elders whom he hath called and chosen in these last days, by the voice of his spirit- saying: I, the Lord, will make known unto you what I will that ye shall do from this time until the next conference, which shall be held in Missouri, upon the land which I will consecrate unto my people, which are a remnant of Jacob, and those who are heirs according to the covenant“
How many times have you read section 52 without realizing that those elders who had just been called and chosen were the 23 High Priests that had just receive the Melchizedek Priesthood?
Context is critical. Read this section now with the information you have just read about this amazing conference at the Morley Farm and it will become much more meaningfully to you!
In part three we will briefly review sections 52-65 in the context of what had just happened at that conference.
Following that, we will address the seriousness of the failure on the part of the Saints to successfully consecrate and establish Zion.
We, Latter day Saints, have been lulled into a sleepy state of believing that our inability to ultimately live the law of consecration back at that period of time was unfortunate, but not really that big of a deal.
We just assume that things moved forward without any significant consequences. I even had a visitor to one of my blogs postulate that the law of consecration is optional. He opined that one can still repent and be baptized and make it into the celestial kingdom without choosing to live the higher law of consecration.