D&C/CHURCH HISTORY - LESSON 50
LATTER-DAY PROPHETS - II
- Introductory Comments.
- The Presidents.
- Wilford Woodruff.
- Fourth president of the Church.
- Born in 1807 in Farmington, Connecticut.
- As a child an avid student of the scriptures and often pondered their
- When he heard the gospel from two missionaries in 1832, he quickly
recognized the truth and was baptized two days later.
- At the age of 27 he participated in Zion's Camp.
- He filled his first mission in 1834 to the southern states.
- 1838: He was called to the apostleship and served in that special calling
for a half century.
- 1839: Wilford joined the mission of the Twelve to England where he
brought thousands of souls into the gospel. Heber J. Grant said that "no
other man who ever walked the face of the earth was a greater converter
of souls to the gospel."
- 1847: Wilford was in the first company of Saints to enter the Salt
- 1856: He became the official Church Historian.
- One of the hallmarks of President Woodruff was his extensive journals
which became the basis for much of the early Church history.
- He recorded 7,000 pages which are now part of the archives in the Church
- President Woodruff: "I have never spent any of my time more
profitably for the benefit of mankind than in my journal writing."
- President Woodruff: "The devil as sought to take away my life
from the day I was born until now, more so even than the lives of other
men. I seem to be a marked victim of the adversary. I can find but one
reason for this: the devil knew if I got into the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints, I would write the history of that Church and leave
on record the works and teachings of the prophets, of the apostles and
- President Woodruff became the first president of the St. George Temple.
- AN INCIDENT AT ST. GEORGE TEMPLE: "I will here say that two
weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around
me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, 'You have had
the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has
ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now
enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and
were faithful to God.' These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence,
and they waited on me for two days and two nights. I thought it very singular,
that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been
done for them. The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose,
that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends
and relatives. I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon
Brother McAllister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of
Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including
John Wesley, Columbus, and others. I then baptized him for every President
of the United States, except three; and when their cause is just, somebody
will do the work for them." (JD 19:229)
- He served as General Superintendent of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement
- April 7, 1889: At the age of 82, Wilford Woodruff became president
of the Church.
- He guided the Church through the last, difficult days of the polygamy
- When President Woodruff took over the reigns of leadership, the Church
was disincorporated, tithing funds were seized, Temple Square and other
properties were transferred to the U.S. government.
- The work of salvation for both the living and the dead was threatened.
- He issued the Manifesto that ended the practice of plural marriage
in the Church.
- Journal entry for September 25, 1890: "I have arrived at a
point in the history of my life as the president of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints where I am under the necessity of acting for
the temporal salvation of the church. The United States government has
taken a stand and passed laws to destroy the Latter-day Saints on the subject
of polygamy, or patriarchal order of marriage; and after praying to the
Lord and feeling inspired, I have issued the following proclamation which
is sustained by my counselors and the twelve apostles."
- 1894: The Genealogical Society was organized under President Woodruff's
- There was confusion about the sealing process which was clarified.
Many had been having themselves sealed to prominent Church leaders such
as Joseph Smith or Wilford Woodruff himself.
- Taught President Woodruff: "We want the Latter-day Saints from
this time to trace their genealogies as far as they can, and to be sealed
to their fathers and mothers. Have children sealed to their parents, and
run this chain through as far as you can get it. "
- 1896: The Salt Lake Temple was completed and dedicated.
- 1896: The "fast day" was changed from the first Thursday
of the month to the first Sunday of the month. The principle of donating
the cost of the two meals missed was reemphasized at this time.
- 1897: President Woodruff turned 90. On the occasion of his birthday,
thousands of Saints gathered in the Tabernacle to honor him.
- September 2, 1898: President Woodruff passes away.
- Lorenzo Snow.
- He was born April 30, 1814 in Mantua, Portage County, Ohio.
- Lorenzo was the 5th child, but oldest son.
- His parents were educated people from New England and encouraged their
children in the pursuit of intellectual honor and social accomplishment.
- His father was frequently away from home on business. Lorenzo would
be left in charge of the large and prosperous farm. As he grew older, he
managed the shipment of produce downriver to New Orleans. It appears the
Lorenzo was always equal to the task.
- His parents were Baptists. Lorenzo's sister, Eliza, says that they
were "Not of the rigid iron-bedstead order". Open and honest
discussion of ideas was encouraged. They were never allowed to become bigoted
- Lorenzo loved books. When his attention was not needed elsewhere, he
would take a book and go off where he would not be disturbed.
- Eventually, Lorenzo went off to college at Oberlin, Ohio, to attend
the Presbyterian run college.
- Lorenzo was not attracted to institutionalized religion. Near the end
of his term he said, "If there is nothing better than is to be
found here in Oberlin College, goodbye to all religions."
- Lorenzo's mother and a sister joined the Church. Then his sister Eliza
joined the Church.
- Lorenzo had tremendous respect for Eliza. He wrote and asked her many
questions about this new religion. She wrote back and encouraged Lorenzo
to come to Kirtland and study with Professor Seixas, who had been commissioned
to teach Hebrew to the School of the Prophets.
- 1836: After spending time with the Saints in Kirtland and comparing
the Mormon religion to the New Testament, he was convinced of its validity
and was baptized.
- A spiritual testimony did not come until a few weeks after his baptism,
when he retired in private prayer and received a powerful witness of the
- Said Lorenzo: "I had no sooner opened my lips in an effort
to pray than I heard a sound, just above my head, like the rustling of
silken robes, and immediately the Spirit of God descended upon me, completely
enveloping my whole person, filling me, from the crown of my head to the
soles of my feet, and O, the joy and happiness I felt! No language can
describe the almost instantaneous transition from a dense cloud of mental
and spiritual darkness into a refulgence of light and knowledge, as it
was at that time imparted to my understanding. I then received a perfect
knowledge that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and of the
restoration of the Holy Priesthood, and the fulness of the Gospel.... That
night as I retired to rest the same wonderful manifestations were repeated,
and continued to be for several successive nights. The sweet remembrance
of those glorious experiences from that time to the present, bring them
fresh before me, imparting an inspiring influence which pervades my whole
being, and I trust will to the close of my earthly existence."
- His first mission was in his home state of Ohio. Later he served a
mission to Italy. It was a difficult mission. There were laws against proselyting
throughout this heavily Catholic land. Said Lorenzo: "Amid the
loveliness of nature, I found the soul of man like a wilderness. From the
palace of the king to the lone cottage on the mountains, all was shrouded
in spiritual darkness. Protestant and Papist looked upon each other as
outcasts from the hopes of eternity, but regarded themselves as the favorites
of heaven. And thus they had done from time immemorial."
- On February 12, 1849, Lorenzo Snow was ordained a member of the Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles.
- While presiding in Brigham City, he oversaw the organization and operation
of the highly successful co-operative.
- During the period of the raid, Lorenzo was arrested for and convicted
of unlawful cohabitation. He served 11 months in jail without complaint.
- In the period prior to the issuance of the Manifesto, many members
neglected to pay their tithing. They felt that the donations, which would
then be confiscated by the government, would be used to further the aims
of the enemies of the Church. After the Manifesto, as the Church tried
to get back on its feet, President Woodruff struggled with the financial
condition of the Church. Wrote President Woodruff in 1894: "There
is a heavy load resting upon us in church affairs, our debts are very heavy."
- In September 1898, President Woodruff died, leaving for his successor,
Lorenzo Snow, at the age of 84, the heavy financial burden that rested
upon the Church. President Snow continued to struggle with this great difficulty.
- In May 1899, President Snow felt impressed to make a trip to St. George
and conduct a conference there and hold additional conferences in the settlements
as he returned to Salt Lake. He did not know the purpose of the trip, only
that he should go.
- Even as he spoke to the Saints in St. George he said, "My brethren
and sisters, we are in your midst because the Lord directed me to come;
but the purpose of our coming is not clearly known at the present, but
this will be made known to me during our sojourn among you."
- During a later session his son reported: "It was during one
of these meetings that my father received the renewed revelation on tithing.
I was sitting at a table reporting the proceedings, when all at once father
paused in his discourse, complete stillness filled the room. When he commenced
to speak again his voice strengthened and the inspiration of God seemed
suddenly to come over him, as well as over the entire assembly. Then he
revealed to the Latter-day Saints the vision that was before him. God manifested
to him there and then the purpose of the call to visit the Saints in the
south. He told them that he could see, as he had never realized before,
how the law of tithing had been neglected by the people."
- Taught President Snow in St. George and to the Church: "The
time has now come for every Latter-day Saint, who calculates to be prepared
for the future and to hold his feet strong upon a proper foundation, to
do the will of the Lord and to pay his tithing in full. That is the word
of the Lord to you, and it will be the word of the Lord to every settlement
throughout the land of Zion."
- This was the turning for the financial affairs of the Church. We have
all been blessed by the tithes given to the Church in the building of chapels,
temples, and allowing the work of the Lord to go forth in a powerful way.
- The party of Church leaders continued their journey back to Salt Lake.
On one day they were traveling between Cove Fort and Fillmore. President
Snow's buggy led the party. They were traveling along at a comfortable
- President Joseph F. Smith, second in line, pulled his carriage along
President Snow's and suggested, "Perhaps it would be well to go
a trifle fast over these good roads, President Snow."
- President Snow replied, "Very well, just follow us."
President Snow gave his teamster a nudge and his team dashed off with President
Smith following. The two carriages left the rest of the group seeing only
a cloud of dust.
- After two miles the carriages were running neck and neck. Said President
Snow to his teamster, "Go on, go on! "Never mind the ruts.
We'll get beat. Go!" President Snow's carriage took the lead.
The race continued for 15 miles. President Snow liked to relate how his
team came out victorious, though the honors were disputed by President
- Prior to joining the Church, while Lorenzo was living in Kirtland,
he attended a meeting where Joseph Smith, Sr. was giving patriarchal blessings.
Lorenzo was impressed with the blessings and asked to be introduced to
Father Smith. When he was introduced Father Smith said to him, "You
will soon be convinced of the truth of the latter-day work, and be baptized.
And you will become as great as you can possibly wish--even as great as
God, and your cannot wish to be greater."
- Lorenzo said, "The old gentleman's prediction, that I should
ere long be baptized, was strange to me, for I had not cherished a thought
of becoming a member of the 'Mormon' Church; but when he uttered the last
clause, I was confounded. That, to me, was a big saying, and, I then thought,
approaching almost to blasphemy.... But with all my favorable impressions
of the Patriarch, that big saying was a dark parable."
- About four years later, Lorenzo was in Nauvoo after having served missions
in several states. He had accepted an invitation to spend an evening in
the home of his friend Henry G. Sherwood. They were discussing the parable
of the Husbandman in Matthew 22. Said Lorenzo: "While attentively
listening to his explanation, the Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon
me-the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the
sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the path way of God and man.
I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was
shown me, and explains Father Smith's dark saying to me at a blessing meeting
in the Kirtland Temple, prior to my baptism, as previously mentioned in
my first interview with the Patriarch: As man now is, God once was:
As God now is, man may be. I felt this to be a sacred communication,
which I related to no one except my sister Eliza, until I reached England,
when in a confidential private conversation with President Brigham Young,
in Manchester, I related to him this extraordinary manifestation."
- They years later, Lorenzo was visiting with the Prophet after his mission
to England and told Joseph of this incident. Said the Prophet: "Brother
Snow, this is true doctrine, and it is a revelation from God to You."
- Suffering from declining health, President Snow died of pneumonia in
the Beehive House, the residence of the President, on October 10, 1901.