D&C/CHURCH HISTORY - LESSON 49
- Introductory Comments.
- Successors to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
- The Lord raised up Joseph Smith as an instrument to restore the fullness
of the gospel to the earth in the last days.
- He spoke with God the Father & his son, Jesus Christ.
- Priesthood powers and keys were restored through him by angelic messengers.
- The Book of Mormon was translated by him through the power of God.
- Additional scripture was revealed to him.
- He laid the foundations for the kingdom of God. The Church grew from
a handful of believers to many thousands of stalwart Saints.
- His life was given as a testimony of all that he lived for.
- According to John Taylor, "Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer
of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in
this world, than any other man that ever lived in it." (D&C
- Many thought that the Church would collapse with the death of Joseph
Smith. Such was not to be the case, as Brigham Young assumed the leadership
of the Church.
- He led the Church through the succession crisis and paved the way for
the smooth transition of leadership in the future.
- This was the powerful leader who turned Nauvoo into a factory in preparation
for the move west.
- Like a Joshua or a Moses, Brigham Young guided the single largest migration
in the history of the continent.
- He guided the establishment of a new and better civilization in the
- He did more to organize the structure of the Church than any other
- He was a man recognized by the world. His statue stands in the Hall
of Statues in our national capital.
- Brigham Young set many of the stakes of Zion in order. Some 20 were
organized or reorganized by President Young that summer.
- He released all the Twelve from presiding over stakes. The Twelve were
told that their mission had a larger field than a stake of Zion.
- He set the priesthood in order.
- The duties of all priesthood offices were defined from the apostles
down to those offices of the Aaronic Priesthood.
- President Young presided over the organization of the Box Elder stake
on August 19 and then returned to his home.
- On August 23 he was seized with an illness that proved fatal within
6 days. At the age of 76, on August 29, President Young died surround by
his family and friends. The last words he uttered were "Joseph, Joseph,
- Wilford Woodruff said at President Young's funeral: "I do not
suppose there was ever a man breathed the breath of life who, in the short
space of forty-five years, has done so much towards the establishment of
the government and kingdom of God, as our beloved president [Brigham Young]."
- With the death of Brigham Young, many once again felt that the Church
would not survive.
- One of the great testimonies of this Church is that the Lord continues
to raise up prophet after prophet. Men who lead the Church and Kingdom
- Said John Taylor at President Young's funeral: "The work we
are engaged in is not the work of man. Joseph Smith did not originate it,
neither did Brigham Young, nor the twelve nor any mortal man. It emanated
from God, he is its author, his eye is over us, he is watching every movement
and every transaction that transpires now, and that has transpired ever
since the commencement, and will continue so to do. It is he that has been
our Grand Leader, these others now departed have been our brethren, appointed
to lead and guide us, under his direction, in the paths of life. And although
we mourn the loss of our departed friend, a brother and a president, and
although the feelings of our hearts sympathize with his family and friends
yet at the same time there are principles greater and grander than any
personal interest, or any individuality associated with these matters.
It is a heavenly interest, the building up of Zion, the establishment of
the Kingdom of God and the rolling forth of his purposes upon the earth."
- Every prophet from Joseph Smith to Gordon B. Hinckley had led the Church
forward. What other organization in the history of the world has had such
an incredible string of men as leaders.
- Consider the United States, arguably the greatest nation in the history
of the world. We began with a remarkable string of men to lead this country,
beginning in 1789 with ascendancy of George Washington to the presidency.
He was followed by John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James
Monroe. Even John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson might be considered OK
presidents. But consider the caliber of so many who have filled that office
since. Men like Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Warren
G. Harding, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon and others whom we could
- And yet, the Church has traveled through that same time period, minus
a few years, with the most remarkable men leading the Church. What a testimony!
- We will attempt over the next two to three weeks to touch upon the
lives of these great men.
- John Taylor.
- Life Summary.
- The only president of the Church not to be born in the United States.
- He was born in 1808 in Milnthorpe, England, as one of ten children.
- He worked on the family farm and later learned the woodturner's trade.
- As a teenager he jointed the Methodist church. He labored actively
with his friends and was appointed a lay preacher at age 17.
- B.H. Roberts wrote that when John Taylor was "but a small boy
he saw, in vision, an angel in the heavens, holding a trumpet to his mouth,
sounding a message to the nations."
- President Taylor said that at one time he was overcome by a powerful
influence. He said to his companion, "I have a strong impression on
my mind, that I have to go to America to preach the gospel!"
- In 1832, John left England and sailed to America where he settled in
- He aligned himself with the local Methodist church. He discovered in
studying the scriptures with a few close friends, that there were doctrines
taught by the Lord and his apostles which were not being taught by the
churches of the day. He joined his friends in fasting and prayer hoping
to obtain answers to their questions.
- In May 1836, John was visited in Canada by Parley P. Pratt. Wrote President
Taylor: "About this time Parley P. Pratt called on me with a letter
of introduction from a merchant of my acquaintance. I had peculiar feelings
on seeing him. I had heard a great many stories of a similar kind to those
that you have heard, and I must say that I thought my friend had imposed
on me a little in sending a man of this persuasion to me. I, however, received
him courteously.... I told him, however, plainly, my feelings, and that
in our researches I wanted no fables; I wished him to confine himself to
the scriptures. We talked for three hours or upwards, and he bound me as
close to the scriptures as I desired, proving everything he said therefrom.
I wrote down eight sermons that he preached, in order that I might compare
them with the word of God. I found nothing contrary.... A number of others
and myself were baptized [on May 9, 1836]."
- John became the presiding elder of the Church in Canada at the age
of 28. A year later he was called by the Prophet to join the Saints in
Missouri. No sooner had he arrived, after a journey of 2,000 miles, he
along with the Saints were driven out of the state.
- Elder Taylor was ordained an apostle at Far West in December 1838.
He then assisted Brigham Young in settling the exiled Saints in Illinois.
- Elder Taylor was part of the important mission of the Twelve to England.
Upon his return to Nauvoo he:
- Petitioned Congress for redress of the wrongs heaped upon the Church.
- He was judge advocate and colonel in the Nauvoo Legion.
- Member of the Nauvoo city council.
- A regent of the University of Nauvoo.
- Editor of the Times and Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor.
- John was present in Carthage Jail when Joseph and Hyrum were gunned
down. John was wounded, taking four shots, but surviving.
- He sustained Brigham Young as the leader of the Church and assisted
him with the exodus to the west.
- He assisted with the organization of the Mormon Battalion.
- Served another mission to England.
- Lead a large company of pioneers west to Salt Lake.
- Served as an associate justice in the Supreme Court of the provisional
state of Deseret.
- He served additional missions to France and Germany.
- Served briefly in the territorial legislature.
- Plural marriage.
- John Taylor, like other members of the Twelve, were taught the principle
of plural marriage upon their return from England. He wrote: "I
had always entertained strict ideas of virtue, and I felt as a married
man that this was to me, outside of this principle, an appalling thing
to do. The idea of my going and asking a young lady to be married to me,
when I had already a wife! It was a thing calculated to stir up feelings
from the innermost depth of the human soul. I had always entertained the
strictest regard for chastity....Hence, with the feelings I had entertained,
nothing but a knowledge of God, and the revelations of God, and the truth
of them, could have induced me to embrace such a principle as this."
- John Taylor became, perhaps, the staunchest defender of this principle
in the latter-day.
- The Presidency.
- With the death of President Young on August 26, 1877, the quorum of
the Twelve again assumed the leadership of the Church, with John Taylor
as president of the quorum. The First Presidency was not reorganized until
October 10, 1880, with John Taylor ordained President of the Church.
- In 1880, President Taylor presided over the 50th anniversary of the
restoration of the Church.
- He felt that they ought to do as ancient Israel, something to relieve
those that were oppressed with debt and help the needy. He wanted it to
be a time of rejoicing.
- President Taylor canceled the debts of many who had received money
from the Perpetual Emigration Fund. He also requested that the better to
do Saints cancel the debts of those who were poor. "If you have
mortgages upon the homes of your brethren and sisters who are poor, worthy
and honest, and who desire to pay you but cannot, free them in whole or
in part. Extend to them a jubilee..."
- March 1882: The Edmunds Bill was signed into law.
- At the October Conference, President Taylor spoke to the Saints about
the oppressive measures of the law: "We do not wish to place ourselves
in a state of antagonism, nor to act defiantly, towards this government.
We will fulfil the letter, so far as practicable, of that unjust, inhuman,
oppressive and unconstitutional law, so far as we can without violating
principle; but we cannot sacrifice every principle of human right at the
behest of corrupt, unreasoning and unprincipled men; we cannot violate
the highest and noblest principles of human nature and make pariahs and
outcasts of highminded, virtuous and honorable women, nor sacrifice at
the shrine of popular clamor the highest and noblest principles of humanity!
We shall abide all constitutional law, as we always have done; but while
we are Godfearing and law-abiding, and respect all honorable men and officers,
we are no craven serfs, and have not learned to lick the feet of oppressors,
nor to bow in base submission to unreasoning clamor. We will contend, inch
by inch, legally and constitutionally, for our rights as American citizens,
and for the universal rights of universal man." (JD 23:67)
- Persecution began once again.
- Homes were broken into and ransacked.
- Men were fined and hounded beyond the legal limits.
- In the south, missionaries were mobbed, beaten, and killed.
- It was bad enough in Arizona, that President Taylor visited the Saints
there and suggested that they establish temporary homes in Mexico. The
Mormon colonies of Colonia Juarez, Colonia Dublan, and Colonia Diaz were
- A similar recommendation was made to the Saints in Cache Valley. Many
migrated to Alberta to escape the raids and persecution.
- As the persecution continued, many of the General Authorities went
underground to escape prosecution and to continue the work of the Church.
- President Taylor made his last public address to the Church in the
Tabernacle on February 1, 1885. He then went underground.
- He died while in hiding at the home of Thomas F. Rouche, at Kaysville,
- He was joined at his bedside by his two counselors, George Q. Cannon
and Joseph F. Smith, both who had also been in hiding. This was the first
time the quorum of the First Presidency had been together in over 2 and
- Said B.H. Roberts: "His blood was then mingled with the blood
of the martyred Prophet and Patriarch [Joseph and Hyrum Smith]. He has
stood since then as a living martyr for the truth. But today he occupies
the place of a double martyr. President John Taylor has been killed by
the cruelty of officials who have, in this territory, misrepresented the
government of the United States. There is no room to doubt that if he had
been permitted to enjoy the comforts of home, the ministrations of his
family, the exercise to which he had been accustomed, but of which he was
deprived, he might have lived for many years yet. His blood stains the
clothes of men, who with insensate hate have offered rewards for his arrest
and have hounded him to the grave. History will yet call their deeds by
their right names." (CHC 6:188)