As you begin this week’s reading assignment, and you don’t skip over the headnotes in Section 111, you realize this revelation was given in Salem, Massachusetts. Isn’t the central leadership of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio? What is the First Presidency doing in Salem nearly 650 miles to the east and a whopping 1,500 miles from Western Missouri?
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As you begin this week’s reading assignment, and you don’t skip over the headnotes in Section 111, you realize this revelation was given in Salem, Massachusetts. Isn’t the central leadership of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio? What is the First Presidency doing in Salem nearly 650 miles to the east and a whopping 1,500 miles from Western Missouri? Isn’t this the same city of the famous Salem Witch Trials 144 years before in 1692? This will all make sense as we study together this week.
Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me Podcast. We are Scot and Maurine Proctor and this week we have been reading section 111 through 114 of the Doctrine and Covenants with the lesson entitled “I Will Order All Things for Your Good.” Just a quick reminder, the 2022 Old Testament Come Follow Me Calendar has just arrived and we are thrilled. The photography is gorgeous and the aids to your Come Follow Me studies this next year will be wonderful. This is a beautiful, full-color wall calendar with images from Egypt, Israel, Jordan and other places. This will help bring the Old Testament to life for you, your family, your friends, your ministering families and your Christmas gift-giving list. Order yours today at latterdaysaintmag.com/2022 That’s latterdaysaintmag.com/2022. You’ll love having this hanging in your home or office.
Before we answer the questions about Salem, Massachusetts, Maurine, there are two very important events we have to talk about that happened in February 1835 in Kirtland. You remember Zion’s Camp March with its 202 men, 11 women and 7 children? Well, after the horrible attack of the cholera where 68 were afflicted and 14 passed away (including one of the women) the main body returned to Ohio. This had been a great test of their faith, some were disappointed in the whole thing. They didn’t get it. Sometime later the Prophet Joseph said: “Brethren, some of you are angry with me, because you did not fight in Missouri; but let me tell you, God did not want you to fight. He could not organize His kingdom with twelve men to open the Gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men under their direction to follow in their tracks, unless He took them from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham. Now the Lord has got His Twelve and His Seventy.” (From Elder Joseph Young’s Account, History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 182, footnote 4)
Eight of the original twelve apostles were with Zion’s Camp March and all of the Seventy were chosen from that company!
On Saturday, February 14, 1835 in the Printing Office located just adjacent to and behind the construction site of the Kirtland Temple, the First Presidency and the Three Witnesses and some select men from Zion’s Camp gathered. Though the charge to find the Twelve had been given to the Three Witnesses in 1829, the Prophet Joseph had consistently said that the time was not right yet. Now, he said, the time had come and the callings were to be made. The Twelve who were chosen, in order of their appointments were: Lyman Johnson, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, David W. Patten, Luke Johnson, William McLellin, John F. Boynton, Orson Pratt, William Smith, Thomas B. Marsh and lastly, Parley P. Pratt. The average age of the Twelve was 28! And how did they determine seniority in the Twelve since they were all called at the same time? It was by age. David Patten wasn’t sure whether he was born in 1799 or 1800—but he knew the date was November 14. That was common in those days. He thought he was 34 or 35 years old. This did make a difference because Thomas B. Marsh’s birthdate was 13 days earlier but he knew his was in the year 1800. Thomas became the senior member of the Twelve, therefore, the President of the Quorum—although later it was discovered that David was actually 13 days older.
And Oliver Cowdery gave the Twelve a solemn charge. Here is a portion of that charge:
“You have been ordained to this holy Priesthood, you have received it from those who have the power and authority from an angel; you are to preach the Gospel to every nation… Let your ministry be first. Remember, the souls of men are committed to your charge; and if you mind your calling, you shall always prosper… it is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God… Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face… You are as one; you are equal in bearing the keys of the Kingdom to all nations. You are called to preach the Gospel of the Son of God to the nations of the earth; it is the will of your heavenly Father, that you proclaim His Gospel to the ends of the earth and the islands of the sea…Be zealous to save souls. The soul of one man is as precious as the soul of another…[Oliver] then took them separately by the hand, and said, “Do you with full purpose of heart take part in this ministry, to proclaim the Gospel with all diligence, with these your brethren, according to the tenor and intent of the charge you have received?” Each of them answered in the affirmative.” (See History of the Church, Vol. 2, pp. 194-980)
That is quite the charge. And you have to remember again, these were very young men for such a task! Four of the Twelve were only 23 years old! And the First Quorum of the Seventy was organized exactly two weeks later, on Saturday, February 28, 1835. Out of small things proceedeth that which is great! And we see it here. I was especially moved by the Twelve bearing the keys of the Kingdom to all nations. That reminded me of Elder Russell M. Nelson when, as a young apostle, he was given the charge over Eastern Europe. And this was when most of those countries were in the Soviet Bloc! Biographer Sheri Dew wrote:
“For the better part of five years, Elder Nelson traipsed back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean seeking meetings with government officials and trying to further the Church’s interests in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Turkey, Estonia, Ukraine, and the Soviet Union. And that didn’t count the trips to Washington, DC, to meet with ambassadors and other dignitaries from the countries he supervised.
“He was never wanted and rarely welcome. Many government leaders wouldn’t even give appointments to a man who professed faith in God. Over time, he was both thwarted in his efforts and helped along the way; treated poorly in some circumstances and graciously in others; spied on by secret police and later greeted as friends by officials who got to know him; and treated suspiciously in some corners while being sought for medical consultation by others. Some trips seemed utterly futile, while on others, doors opened he could never have predicted or planned for. Each of these countries was different,” Elder Nelson later reflected. “But the message to me was the same: ‘Work your heart out, Russ. Take the risks. Then when you can’t go any further, I’ll help you.’”
“The message in Bulgaria as well as every other country was the same: “We are not here to do anything but bless the lives of your people,” Elder Nelson summarized. “Our missionaries look at themselves as young and inexperienced in the ways of the world, and of course, initially they are. When they finally realize how helpful they can be, they become an entirely different brand of missionary. The gospel has the power to help people progress, grow, and deal with whatever challenges they’re facing.” Elder Nelson delivered this truth over and over again between 1985 and the early 1990s. During a six-year period he went to the former USSR twenty-seven times and to other eastern bloc countries several dozen times.”
“When later asked what he learned from the assignment to open the countries in Eastern Europe for the preaching of the gospel, particularly in light of the many stops and starts, failed meetings, and ups and downs, Elder Nelson replied simply: “The Lord likes effort. He could have said to Moses, ‘I’ll meet you halfway.’ But Moses had to go all the way to the top of Mount Sinai. He required effort from Moses and Joshua and Joseph Smith and from all of the subsequent Presidents of the Church. He requires effort from bishops and stake Relief Society presidents and elders quorum presidents. There is always a test. Are you willing to do really hard things? Once you’ve shown you’re willing to do your part, He will help you.”” (Insights from a Prophet’s Life, Russell M. Nelson, by Sheri Dew, Chapter 40)
And here are these young apostles in the early days of the Church: 27-year-old Parley P. Pratt opened Canada to the Gospel—with apostolic keys, and Heber C. Kimball with Orson Hyde opened the British Isles, again, with apostolic keys.
Maurine, every time we visit the Latter-day Saints in various nations, as you know, these precious ones are aware of the apostles visits to their countries. Many of them know the very place where their country was dedicated by an apostle. They know many of the miraculous stories of the apostles’ visits. This has become part of their spiritual heritage and foundation.
Now, before we talk more about the mission of the Twelve, it’s important to answer that question about what the First Presidency was doing in Salem, Massachusetts. Look at the date of Section 111—August 6, 1836. This is just over four months after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. This was indeed a miracle to get this temple completed, but it didn’t come without a heavy price. The cost by most accounts was over $40,000 which, with inflation, would be an equivalent worth of at least $1.2 million dollars in our day’s money. This left the Church in extreme debt. The brethren had heard from one member of the Church that a widow who lived in Salem, had a large amount of treasure hidden in her basement and it would be available to the church. The hope for financial relief was powerful and the brethren thought they would give this venture a try.
Salem was an extremely prosperous port city. It had been 14 decades since the Salem Witch Trials where 200 were accused, 30 were found guilty and 19 were executed–14 women and 5 men—including John Proctor. On a personal note, I thought it was funny, Scot, because people ask you all the time if you are related to the famous John Proctor of the Salem Witch Trials and you did the research and you are related to him—but only because you are married to me! That made us both laugh so much.
But, again, Salem had a huge trade in tea, silks, spices, porcelain, ivory and gold dust with China, India and Malaysia. One historian wrote, “Boston was the Spain, Salem the Portugal, in the race for Oriental opulence.” Salem’s hugely profitable trade transformed this New England seaport into a global powerhouse and by this time, the wealthiest city per capita in the United States. (see Stewart, Doug, Smithsonian Magazine, June 2004, Salem Sets Sail). All of this certainly attracted the interest of the brethren in coming here to seek for financial relief.
The Prophet sought revelation on where they should stay while they were in Salem and if their journey was pleasing to the Lord. They had not found the treasure and were quite disappointed. Look at Section 111, verse 8:
8 And the place where it is my will that you should tarry, for the main, shall be signalized unto you by the peace and power of my Spirit, that shall flow unto you.
I love that verse because we learn so much about the workings of the Spirit of the Lord. I love the word “signalized”—signalized unto you by the peace and power of my Spirit, that shall flow unto you. Those are all very descriptive. Have you ever been in a fast and testimony meeting and you had no plans to bear your testimony and then you get the signal from the Spirit? You hear it all the time from fellow ward members, “I wasn’t planning on bearing my testimony, but I feel like my heart is going to burst and I just had to get up and testify…you know the routine. It happens all the time. And that word flow certainly speaks to my heart.
The brethren found lodgings on Union Street, which is a short street, about 750 feet long, in the heart of Salem. It was only a five-minute walk from there to the East India Marine Society Museum. The brethren did go there and learned more about the ancient inhabitants of the area. This museum, established in 1799, is now the Peabody Essex Museum, the oldest continuously operated museum in the United States. In Joseph’s day it had more than 4,000 curios collected by world-traveling sea captains and traders. Now it contains more than one million works of art in 24 historic buildings and a library of 1.4 million books.
In verse 9 of Section 111 we read:
And inquire diligently concerning the more ancient inhabitants and founders of this city;
10 For there are more treasures than one for you in this city. (D&C 111:9-10)
The brethren did not find the money they were looking for to help alleviate the debt pain they were feeling, but Joseph was able to seek more information about his own family lines who had come here—and perhaps this helped lay the foundation, in Joseph’s mind, for future revelations on the great work for the dead. Some may look at this venture as a failure, but the Lord assured them:
I, the Lord your God, am not displeased with your coming this journey, notwithstanding your follies. (D&C 111:1)
Now, you remember that the Prophet Joseph called Heber C. Kimball to open Great Britain to the preaching of the Gospel. When Heber left for that first mission, he would be leaving his family destitute. Robert B. Thompson, who happened by the Kimballs’ partly opened door described the scene of their parting:
Heber “was pouring out his soul [to God] that he would…make him useful wherever his lot should be cast…that He…would supply the wants of his wife and little ones in his absence…He then…laid his hands upon their heads individually, leaving a father’s blessing upon them and…which thus engaged his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around, who tried in vain to suppress them. The idea of being separated from their protector and father for so long a time was indeed painful. He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly. His emotions were great, and he was obliged to stop at intervals, while the big tears rolled down his cheeks.” (Proctor, Maurine Jensen and Proctor, Scot Facer, The Gathering, Mormon Pioneers on the Trail to Zion, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1996, p. 17)
Heber was joined on this mission by fellow apostle Orson Hyde, and friends Willard Richards, Joseph Fielding, and three other converts from Parley Pratt’s mission to Canada, John Goodson, Isaac Russell and John Snider. All of these latter five missionaries had British roots. They made the crossing to England under July’s fair skies in a quick eighteen days on the packet ship Garrick, perhaps not aware that the mission they undertook would turn a throng of people with British accents into American pioneers. When the missionaries came up the River Mersey and were let down on a small boat from the Garrick due to the tide, they were within six or seven feet of the shore and Heber, feeling the joy and urgency of his mission, leaped onto the pier. The missionaries were overcome by the great contrast in Liverpool of wealth and poverty. They would look one way and see how wealth and luxury abounded and the other way with penury and want.
The elders joined in prayer to seek the guidance of their Heavenly Father in how to start so great a task as to open the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to so great a nation. They felt inspired and directed by the Spirit to begin thirty-one miles to the north in Preston, Lancashire, England, where Joseph Fielding’s brother, James lived and preached. Now, you have to remember, young, eighteen-year-old Queen Victoria had just been crowned on June 20, 1837, just a month before the missionaries reached that Liverpool dock. The missionaries arrived in Preston, on Saturday, July 22, the holiday before a Monday parliamentary election. Released from labor at the textile mills and breweries for the day, people crowded the streets, bearing the colorful ribbons of the candidates they supported. Bands played, and political banners flew with an air of gaiety. Just as the missionaries’ coach arrived, a flag was, I believe, Providentially unfurled over their heads reading “Truth Will Prevail” in large, gilt letters. Seeing this, the missionaries cried aloud as if with one voice, “Amen! Thanks be to God. Truth will prevail!” Joseph Fielding went to stay with his brother, James and the other missionaries took lodgings at a flat on the corner of Fox and St. Wilfrid Streets. The next day would be Sunday, July 23, 1837—and Heber would preach the first sermon at the Obelisk in the Marketplace in Preston. On this same day, in Kirtland, Joseph Smith received Section 112 of the Doctrine and Covenants—a revelation directed to Thomas B. Marsh and the twelve.
The missionaries found great success this first week especially preaching to the congregation of James Fielding in his Vauxall Chapel that very Sabbath day. They told the Brits of the Restoration of the Gospel in America and the return of priesthood keys from the heavens and the reception of the Book of Mormon. Many in the crowds of listeners were overcome with excitement and joy. By that next Sunday, July 30, 1837, nine candidates were prepared for baptism.
Now, you know that the Adversary, Satan, was not going to let this group get away without some major opposition. He, the devil, could see what would happen if he did not stop this great work and the preaching of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of England. So, just as there had been an outpouring of light, so the forces of darkness conspired against the work. That early Sunday morning, the day those first baptisms would be performed, Isaac Russell came upstairs from his room to ask for a blessing from Heber because he was tormented by devils. Heber knew Russell had complained of such troubles before and was not certain he fully believed him, yet he began to give a blessing.
Heber later wrote: “I was struck with a great force by some invisible power and fell senseless on the floor as if I had been shot, and the first thing that I recollected was, that I was supported by Brothers Hyde and Russell, who were beseeching the throne of grace in my behalf. They then laid me on the bed, but my agony was so great that I could not endure, and I was obliged to get out, and fell on my knees and began to pray. I then sat on the bed and could distinctly see the evil spirits, who foamed and gnashed their teeth upon us. We gazed upon them about an hour and a half by Willard’s watch. We saw the devils coming in legions, [thousands of them] with their leaders…They came towards us like armies rushing to battle.”
“They appeared to be men of full stature, possessing every form and feature of men in the flesh, who were angry and desperate; and I shall never forget the vindicative malignity depicted on their countenances as they looked me in the eye…I felt excessive pain, and was in the greatest distress for some time. I cannot even look back on the scene without feelings of horror; yet by it I learned the power of the adversary, his enmity against the servants of God, and got some understanding of the invisible world. We distinctly heard those spirits talk and express their wrath and hellish designs against us.”
Orson Hyde later wrote a letter to Heber of this experience: “After you were overcome by them and had fallen, their awful rush upon me with knives, threats, imprecations and hellish grins, amply convinced me that they were no friends of mine…I stood between you and the devils and fought them and contended with them face to face, until they began to diminish in number to retreat from the room. The last imp that left turned round to me as he was going out and said, as if to apologize, and appease my determined opposition to them, ‘I never said anything against you!’ I replied to him thus: ‘It matters not to me whether you have or have not; you are a liar from the beginning! In the name of Jesus Christ, depart!” He immediately left, and the room was clear.” (Whitney, Orson F., Life of Heber C. Kimball, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1945, pp. 129-31)
Now, we have been to those First Lodgings in Preston many times, Scot, and we even take our groups there and tell them this story while gazing up at the very windows of the room where this horrible experience took place. But why would we want to give you all these details? Why the description of this scene of darkness?
I like what Heber said about this, “yet by [this experience] I learned the power of the adversary.” The Prophet Joseph was shown the same thing in his training sessions with the Angel Moroni. “Now I will show you,” Moroni taught Joseph, “the distance between light and darkness, and the operation of a good spirit and an evil one. An evil spirit will try to crowd your mind with every evil and wicked thing to keep every good thought and feeling out of your mind, but you must keep your mind always staid upon God, that no evil may come into your heart.”
“The angel showed him, by contrast, the difference between good and evil, and likewise the consequences of both obedience and disobedience to the commandments of God, in such a striking manner, that the impression was always vivid in his memory until the very end of his days; and in giving a relation of this circumstance, not long prior to his death, he remarked that ever afterwards he was willing to keep the commandments of God.” (Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, Proctor and Proctor, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1996, p. 109)
Heber Kimball was concerned about this experience with darkness and years later was talking to the Prophet Joseph about that day in Preston. “Was there anything wrong with me that I should have such a manifestation?” he asked Joseph.
“No, Brother Heber,” he replied, “at that time you were nigh unto the Lord; there was only a veil between you and Him, but you could not see Him. When I heard of [this experience in Preston], it gave me great joy, for I then knew that the work of God had taken root in that land. It was this that caused the devil to make a struggle to kill you.”
Joseph then related some of his own experience, in many contests he had had with the evil one, and said, “The nearer a person approached the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes.” (Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp. 131-32)
I do think, Scot, this is something we all need to be aware of. Let me be clear, the adversary, Satan, Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, hates and spurns this work. He hates Jesus Christ. He hates the work of salvation. He hates families and women and babies. He hates holders of the priesthood. He hates marriage. He hates the scriptures. He hates the prophets. He hates the temple. He will do anything to thwart us from this work.
And we must shore ourselves up by staying as close to the Lord and to His Church and His prophets as we possibly can. President Nelson said, “But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” (Nelson, Russell M., Revelation for the Church, Revelation for our Lives, General Conference, April 2018) Oh, how we all need this in our lives. And back to that Sunday morning, July 30, 1837 in Preston, England: The missionaries had nine people ready for baptism. And because of the holiday and the Sabbath, hundreds, if not thousands, by some accounts, were gathered at Avenham Park along the banks of the River Ribble when the missionaries came for the baptisms. Two of the converts, George D. Watt and Henry Clegg raced to the river, by tradition, across the bridge there, to see who would be first to be baptized.
The exuberant run was a moment in history not lost on its participants. They ran because the silence of centuries when humanity concocted their own religions had ended and God had spoken again. They ran because the priesthood and power and pattern of the ancient church had been restored. They ran because even if their ministers scowled, they had felt the Spirit whispering to them that God knew them intimately and loved them. George Watt, who was twenty-two years younger than Clegg and had youth on his side, won the race. Imagine that scene as those American missionaries entered the waters of the River Ribble with George Watt and Henry Clegg and seven others and raised their arms one by one to the square and boldly baptized them with power and authority from heaven. Hundreds looked on. It was a scene never to be forgotten.
And I know you remember, Maurine, when I, too, had my own race across that same bridge at the River Ribble there in Preston. I raced our daughter, Michaela, age 12. She had the advantage of youth and well, I had the advantage of age. Youth won out that day, but I loved the experience and the memory. On the same day that the missionaries began preaching in England, Joseph received a revelation concerning the Twelve Apostles. The Lord said in verse 10 of Section 112:
10 Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.
This is given to the Twelve but is said unto us all. Spencer W. Kimball taught:
“When one becomes conscious of his great humility, he’s already lost it. When one begins boasting of his humility, it has already become pride, the antithesis of humility. Humility is repentant and seeks not to justify its follies. It is forgiving of others… Let us not forget to be humble, to remember where our blessings, gifts, and accomplishments really come from. Humility will bring us closer to Christ.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Humility, BYU Speeches, January 16, 1963)
And further counsel is given to the Twelve in verse 14:
14 Now, I say unto you, and what I say unto you, I say unto all the Twelve [and this is also unto us all]: Arise and gird up your loins, take up your cross, follow me, and feed my sheep.
Now, first of all, the term “girt up your loins” is so common to us as Latter-day Saints because we sing it in one of our favorite hymns: “Gird up your loins, fresh courage take, Our God will never us forsake.”
But what does it really mean? In ancient times men and women wore long tunics and if they were worn regularly, the person would not be able to do any heavy labor or fight in battle. If you were told to ‘gird up your loins’ you would tuck up the traditional long robe into a girdle, or a belt, so that it would not hamper you from physical activity. The term was a way of saying: “Get ready for hard work and be ready for battle.”
That’s right. And what does it mean to “take up your cross”? The Prophet Joseph gives the answer in the revealed translation of Matthew 16:24: “And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.” (JST Matt. 16:26)
The Book of Mormon expands this doctrine even further in Moroni 10: 32:
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
Then Moroni goes on in verse 33, of chapter 10:
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
The Lord is asking us to get ready to work and to work hard and to get ready for battle, because, as we saw in Preston, England at the First Lodgings, it IS a battle. And He then asks us to take up our cross—meaning to deny ourselves of all the things of this world. We are truly not to incorporate Babylon or Babylonian thinking into our souls, whatsoever. We are to keep all His commandments and then we come unto Christ and love Him with all our might, mind and strength. And it is through the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ, and by His grace that we are not only saved, but we are perfected in Him and sanctified in Him. And we, through Him, can become Holy, without spot. That is not only the charge to the Twelve, it is the charge to us all.
That’s all for today. We’ve loved being with you. What an amazing General Conference we have been able to experience this particular weekend. It all fits together, doesn’t it? Next week our lesson will cover Doctrine and Covenants, Sections 115-120 and is entitled: “His Sacrifice Shall Be More Sacred unto Me Than His Increase.” May the Lord’s choicest blessings be upon you this very week. Our thanks, as always, to Paul Cardall, for the music and to our producer, Michaela Proctor Hutchins. See you next time.