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by Charles W. Penrose

Pamphlet published by
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Printed by Deseret News Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, n.d.:16 pages

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Priesthood and Presidency

By Charles W. Penrose

On the 6th of April, 1860, a meeting was held at Amboy, Illinois, composed of a small number of persons most, if not all of whom had seceded from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They had assembled at the call of Zenos H. Gurley and Reuben Newkirk, and came from Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan.  At this so-called "Conference" Joseph Smith (son of the martyred Prophet who was slain at Carthage, June 27, 1844) presented himself and expressed his willingness to accept the position of their leader.  He had been several times invited to assume that position and now complied with the request.  He was received with great joy, and after making a brief address, in which he pledged himself to promulgate no doctrine that should not be approved by them, the people assembled accepted him as a Prophet and the successor of his deceased father; the President of the assembly, William Marks, saying, "Brother Joseph, I present this Church to you in the name of Jesus Christ." Mr. Smith took the present thus tendered and he was ordained President of the High Priesthood and President of the Church by William Marks, Zenos H. Gurley, Samuel Powers, and W. W. Blair.  The religious society of which the late Joseph Smith, son of the Prophet, was thus made President claims to be "The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

The term "Reorganized implies and is a confession that the society which invented and adopted it is not the original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That


was organized April 6th, 1830, at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York, afterwards had its headquarters at Kirtland, Ohio, then at Independence, Missouri, next at Far West, Missouri, following that at Nauvoo, Illinois, and subsequently at Salt Lake City, Utah, where it still remains.

But it is claimed that the original Church established by revelation from God through Joseph Smith the Martyr became disorganized at his death.  Also that it was rejected by the Almighty with its dead.  And further, that on the decease of the first President of the Church no one could legally succeed him in that office but his eldest son.  Therefore that which was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints on June 27th, 1844, was not the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 28th, 1844!  By what process an organization so perfect in all its departments and offices and councils and quorums, with branches in various parts of the United States, and also in Europe and on the Isles of the Sea, could become disorganized because its chief presiding officer was slain, has not been made to appear.  Certainly there have been from that day to the present time no signs or evidences of disorganization in that religious body.  It has been preserved intact, with its name, doctrines, ordinances, priesthood, vital force, mission work, unity, gifts, powers, spirit and growth, and is today recognized as the most splendid and perfect ecclesiastical organization on the face of the earth.

Consideration of the singular claims set up by the disciples of the "Reorganization" would be superfluous in view of their absurdity, were it not for the fact that a number of worthy men and women have been deceived by the sophistry and perversions resorted to by advocates of "Reorganism."  Many of its leading spirits are persons who have been excommunicated from the Church of Christ


for apostasy and other offenses.  It would be labor in vain to point out to them their inconsistencies and egregious errors.  But people who have been led into acceptance of their foolish theories by the advancement of some principles which are true, scriptural and essential, and have thus been drawn by a glimmering of light into mists and darkness, may be rescued and guided into the straight and narrow way where the sun shines in its fulness, by a plain presentation of simple truths and a refutation of cunning falsehoods.  It is for their benefit that these lines are written.

First, let us examine the grounds on which it is asserted that the Church established by the Prophet Joseph has been disorganized and rejected.  For, if they are untenable, the claims of the "Reorganization" have no basis.  If there has been no disorganization, there can be no valid reason for a reorganization.  At the death of Joseph Smith the First Presidency of the Church consisted of Joseph Smith, President: Sidney Rigdon, Counselor.  William Law, the other Counselor, had been excommunicated.  The martyrdom disorganized that council or quorum, but did that disorganize the Church?  If so, then the Church will be disorganized whenever its President shall be removed by death or otherwise. There is nothing in the revelations of God or the order of the priesthood which justifies such a palpable absurdity.  On that hypothesis, when Jesus Christ was slain his Church was disorganized.  Also if the "Reorganized" Church shall lose its present President it will become disorganized.  An institution which would be subject to dissolution in such a manner would have no claim to divine origin, and would be a most miserable kind of human establishment, more like the


product of lunacy than the result of ordinary reason, to say nothing of divine revelation.

The Church organized April 6th, 1830, continued after the death of its first President under the direction of the Twelve Apostles for about three and a half years, when the First Presidency was reorganized.  This procedure has been repeated at the decease of each of the first Presidents who have succeeded each other, and the Church has moved forward along the lines marked out by revelation, without interruption, and without a sign or symptom of disorganization.

It is evident from the revelations of God in former and latter times in reference to his Church and Kingdom to be set up in the last days that it was to be perpetuated, and in that respect to be different from his work in previous dispensations.  Through the wickedness of mankind the authority of the Holy Priesthood was repeatedly taken from the earth, but God's crowning work for the redemption of the earth was to be "The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times," in which all things in Christ both in heaven and on earth were to be gathered in one. (Eph. 1:10.)  The kingdom which God was to set up in the latter days was not to be "left to other people."  It was never to be destroyed. (Daniel 2:44.)  This assurance the Lord has frequently given to his Church and Kingdom established by his authority on April 6th, 1830.  In a revelation given in September, 1830, he said:

"Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom and a dispensation of the Gospel for the last times and for the fulness of times," etc. (Doc. & Cov. Section 27:13.)

On December, 1830, he said:

"Fear not, little flock, the kingdom is yours until I come." (Doc & Cov. Sec. 35:27.)


On January 2, 1831, he said:

"Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome." (Doc. & Cov. Sec. 38:9.)

On July 23, 1837, the Lord said concerning his servants:

"For unto you (the Twelve) and those (the First Presidency) who are appointed with you, to be your counselors and your leaders, is the power of this Priesthood given, for the last days and for the last time, in the which is the dispensation of the fulness of times." (Doc. & Cov. Section 112:30.)

The disorganization of the Church would be a virtual contradiction of God's own promises and predictions.  It is clear that he did not intend to permit his Church to be thrown down, destroyed, overcome, disorganized or left to other people.  It was to "stand forever."  A reorganization therefore would be superfluous and indeed an absurdity.

It is contended that the expulsion from Illinois and the privations and sufferings endured by the Saints in their journey to the Rocky Mountains are evidence that the Church was rejected of the Lord.  On that hypothesis the Church must have been rejected of God at a very early date.  What about the persecutions in Ohio, the drivings and plunderings and butcheries in Missouri?  Were they proofs that the Lord had rejected his people?  By that kind of reasoning Christ was rejected of God when he hung upon the cross; the Apostles and Saints of the first century of the Christian era and the prophets of old who were "stoned, sawn asunder, slain with the sword, afflicted, tormented, wandering in deserts, in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth," were rejected of God.  Those who indulge in such contentions forget the Apostle's declaration: "They that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."


In a pamphlet published by the so-called "Reorganized" church on the subject of the rejection, it is argued that the Lord "rejected Judah for their sins," but that he "did not cast them off forever nor destroy their kingdom, nor take from them the Priesthood."  And it announces, "We hold that he has so rejected his Church."  On that reasoning, then, the Church has not been disorganized, therefore it could not be reorganized.  If it has been rejected for the sins of many of its people when they repent and turn to the Lord it is that people, that Church they who bear that Holy Priesthood that will be received again to the Lord's favor, as it was with Judah of old.  It will not be another church, another people, a new organization, but the same Church, the same people, the same Priesthood, the same Kingdom which God set up for the last days and for the last time, and which he declared should not be overcome of the world.  On their own reasoning, therefore, the "Reorganizers" have no status as the Church of Christ.

In meeting this alleged argument, it is not admitted for a moment that the Lord rejected the Church which he established with a promise of its perpetuity, nor that any but a minority of its members went into transgression, nor that the authority and keys of the Holy Priesthood were taken away, nor that the Lord in permitting his people to be removed to the "tops of the mountains," designed any affliction to come upon his people except for their benefit and the magnifying of his Church in the eyes of the nations.  He has fulfilled in their history in the Vales of Utah the sayings of the prophets concerning Zion:  "The wilderness and the solitary place have been made glad for them."  "Springs have burst forth and waters in the desert."  "The branch of the Lord is made beautiful and glorious,


and the fruit of the earth is excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel."  "The Spirit has been poured out from on high;" "The work of righteousness is peace;" God's people "dwell in sure dwellings and quiet resting places, they sow beside all waters."  "The eyes of the blind have been opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped."  "The lame leap as the hart: the tongue of the dumb is made to sing."  The Lord has lifted up "An ensign on the mountains" where the house of the Lord is reared, and people from all nations are flowing unto it.  "Zion that brought good tidings has gone up into the high mountain," and "the time to favor her, yea, the set time is come."  These are the sayings of ancient seers, notably of Isaiah the Prophet, and they are being fulfilled in the Zion of the Lord of the latter days, the Church which he established in 1830, and which has never been disorganized or rejected or overcome.  There is and can be but one Church of the true and living God on earth, and in that alone is full and complete salvation, exaltation and eternal life.

Let us now consider the claim that at the death of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, Seer and Revelator, no one could legally succeed him but his oldest son.  This is based first on the alleged doctrine of lienage in the Priesthood; second, on a revelation given January 19, 1841, in reference to a blessing upon Joseph Smith and his posterity; third, on a revelation given in February, 1831, in reference to the power of appointment given to the Prophet Joseph; fourth on reported statements that Joseph the Prophet "appointed' or 'ordained" or "promised" that his son Joseph should succeed him as President.

The order of the Priesthood and the governing authority in the Church are set forth in Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  The powers of the Melchizedek or


High Priesthood and of the Aaronic or Lesser Priesthood are therein defined.  The order of Presidency is also explained, and it is shown that:

"Of necessity there are presidents or presiding officers growing out of or appointed of or from among those who are ordained to the several offices in these two Priesthoods.  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.  The Twelve Traveling Counselors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world, thus differing from other officers in the Church in the duties of their calling.  And they form a quorum, equal in authority and power to the three Presidents previously mentioned."

From this it will be seen that three persons who have been appointed and ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood and are Presiding High Priests, when chosen by the body and upheld by the confidence, faith and prayer of the Church constitute the Presidency of the Church.  Joseph the Prophet was an Apostle and was therefore a Presiding High Priest.  His counselors were also men appointed and ordained to the same calling.  But each of them had to be chosen and upheld by the body in order that they might together preside over the Church.  The Twelve Apostles, also Presiding High Priests, forming a Traveling Presiding High Council (verse 33) held authority "to build up the Church and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations, under the direction of the First Presidency."  Apostles are God's High Priests ( Sec. 84:63 ).  When there is no First Presidency of three, the Twelve constitute a Council or Quorum "equal in authority and power to the three Presidents previously mentioned," and when so upheld by the Church can preside over it, regulate all its affairs, ordain and set in order all the other offices of the Church (verse 58 ), and thus the Church can be continued


and perpetuated, suffering no disorder, but carrying on the work under Jesus Christ who is its living head on high.

Previous to the death of Joseph the Prophet the Lord gave to the Church, by revelation, all the leading officers belonging to the Priesthood; providing, however, that they should be presented at the General Conference of the Church for approval or disapproval.  After nominating the Patriarch, the President, and his two counselors, he named the Twelve Apostles, with Brigham Young as their President: also the High Council for the "cornerstone" or Stake of Zion at Nauvoo, and the various minor officers in the Priesthood.  Doc. & Cov. 124:123-145.  The Prophet and Patriarch were martyred, one of Joseph's counselors had been excommunicated, the other had so far gone astray that the Prophet had endeavored to repudiate him, and there was no First Presidency of three to stand at the head of the Church. But the Twelve, with President Brigham Young at their head, as a Traveling High Council, according to the word of the Lord, stepped forward as a quorum equal in authority and power to the Quorum of Three which had been dissolved, and presided over the Church by its vote, confidence, faith, prayer and fellowship.  Thus all things were done in order and by "common consent."  When the First Presidency of three High Priests was reorganized, December 5th, 1847, under and according to the duty of the Twelve, and subsequently upheld and sustained by the Church in General Conference, the revelation was fulfilled, as quoted above, namely:  "Of necessity there are Presidents or Presiding Officers growing out of or appointed of or from among those who are ordained to the several offices in these two Priesthoods."  Similar proceedings have followed at each dissolution of the First


Presidency of Three, occasioned by the death of the President.  Thus the design and purpose of the Lord, repeatedly made known, that His Church and Kingdom should continue and never be destroyed, given to other people, or be overcome of the world, have been maintained, and the power and authority of the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthoods, with the presiding offices growing out of or from among them, have been magnified and blessed of the Almighty, and the fruits thereof bear evidence of their divinity.

The keys of the Kingdom are and have been with the Apostleship.  No man has taken or aspired to the place of Joseph the Prophet.  His position was assured to him by the Lord in this world and in the world to come.  As with David Patten:  "His Priesthood no man taketh from him," though the Lord had taken David unto himself, but another could be "appointed to the same calling." (Section 124: 130.)  Joseph had prepared the Apostles for the burden that awaited them, by conferring upon them every key, power, gift, anointing and blessing which had been placed upon his head, so that the oracles might be given to the Church when he was taken away.  The testimonies to this fact are numerous and incontrovertible.  They were given in Nauvoo when Sidney Rigdon put forth his feeble claim to be "Guardian" of the Church.  They are matters of history.  The late President Wilford Woodruff repeatedly related the circumstances which occurred when Joseph conferred those powers upon the Twelve.  No one who knew Wilford Woodruff questions his truthfulness, honor and integrity.  His word was as good as his bond, his simple statement as valid as his oath.  The following is his latest testimony on this matter.  It was given in the presence of ten or twelve thousand people at the General Conference of


the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Sunday afternoon, April 10, 1898:

"I feel thankful today that Joseph F. Smith is with us as a son of Hyrum Smith.  He bears a true and faithful testimony of his father.  I would to God that Joseph Smith had a son in the flesh who would do as Joseph F. Smith does here--bear a testimony to the truth of his father.  The Prophet Joseph Smith has no son that stands in the midst of the Church of God and bears record of his father.  He never has had; possibly never will have.  I will give you a testimony here that will show you where I stand with regard to this matter.  Joseph Smith never ordained his son Joseph, never blessed him nor set him apart to lead this Church and Kingdom on the face of the earth.  When he or any other man says he did, they state that which is false before high heaven.  The last speech that Joseph Smith ever made to the Quorum of the Apostles was in a building in Nauvoo, and it was such a speech as I never heard from mortal man before or since.  He was clothed upon with the Spirit and power of God.  His face was clear as amber.  The room was filled as with consuming fire.  He stood three hours upon his feet.  Said he:  You Apostles of the Lamb of God have been chosen to carry out the purposes of the Lord upon the earth.  Now, I have received, as the Prophet, Seer and Revelator, standing at the head of this dispensation, every key, every ordinance, every principle and every Priesthood that belongs to the last dispensation and fulness of times.  And I have sealed all these things upon your heads.  Now, you Apostles, if you do not rise up and bear off this kingdom, as I have given it to you, you will be damned."

In the Church thus perpetuated, the Apostleship and the keys and authority hereof have been continued in direct line without a break, through Joseph the Prophet, from Peter, James and John. In the so-called "Reorganization" there is no real Apostleship at all.  The men who ordained the son of Joseph Smith were not even members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and when they were, they were not Apostles and never had been.  They could not confer that which they never possessed. In the true Church there are the keys to administer the sacred ordinances for the living and for the


dead, in the "Reorganized" Church there is no such power, and no ordinances for the dead are administered.  Yet those ordinances are declared by the Prophet Joseph to be essential, not only for the salvation of the fathers, but also for our salvation, as neither can be made perfect without the other. (Doc. & Cov. Sec. 128 verse 15.)  In the continued Church, Temples have been built and dedicated on the plan revealed to the Prophet Joseph, being made perfect in every particular, in the "Reorganized" Church there is no such Temple, no such plan, no knowledge how to erect a Temple, no understanding of what is to be done in it even if erected.  The Kirtland edifice, of which the "Reorganization" has laid hold, is not used for a Temple, but as a common meeting house.  In the true Church there are order and discipline under competent authority, in the "Reorganizers" society there are disorder, confusion and continual contention, which Christ says is of the devil.  (III Nephi 11:29.)  In Christ's Church the-head directs by divine authority, the Church being commanded to "receive and give heed unto all his words as if from the Lord's own mouth, in all patience and faith" (Sec. 21:5): in the "Reorganized" Church the head is under obligations not to teach anything except that which the members approve. In the Church established by the Lord through Joseph the Prophet, revelations are to be continuously given for the guidance of the Church, and as late as January 19, 1841, the Lord said that one of the purposes of building the Temple that he always commanded his people to erect, was that he might reveal his ordinances therein, for he said, "I design to reveal unto my Church things which have been kept hid from before the foundations of the world:" in the "Reorganizers' " organization a limit is placed upon the revelations of God, and


at body in Conference assembled, passed this act of limitation:

"Resolved, that the whole law of the Church of Jesus Christ is contained in the Bible, Book of Mormon and Book of Doctrine and Covenants."

It will be observed that even the revelations which are contained in the book called the "Pearl of Great Price ' are shut out by this cast-iron creed, and they were all given through Joseph the Seer long before his martyrdom.

The various and numerous objections, pretensions, disputations and contentions of the so-called "Reorganized" people might all be met and shown to have no more foundation in truth, reason and revelation than the claims touched upon in this exposition, but as they all turn on and depend upon this question of succession, they are not herein examined.  If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has continued, according to revelations and promises of the Almighty, from its organization to the present time, all that is alleged against it will amount to nothing.  For, it contains within itself the power, authority and ability to rectify any wrong that may creep into it, to expunge any impurity that may arise within it, to cast off effete matter, if any there should be, to regulate all its own affairs, so that out of itself shall grow all offices or quorums which may be removed by death or transgression, to become independent of all other creatures beneath the celestial world, to carry on the work of redemption for the living and the dead, to fulfill all the prophecies concerning it and prepare a people for the coming and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, who established it and has watched over it and guided it and has been with it in spirit from the beginning.  Not one key, or ordinance, or gift, or principle which he bestowed upon it through Joseph the


Prophet has been lost or taken away.  The oracles are in it today and will remain while revelation is needed for the consummation of the great work comprehended in the dispensation of the fulness of times.  Let those who have been deceived by the sophistry and errors of misguided men, come out from the mists and fogs and contentious spirit of the so-called "Reorganization, come to the clear light of Zion and receive the fulness of the blessings of the Gospel of peace!