The Church Historian's Press The Church Historian's Press


April 28, 1842 • Thursday

See images of the original document at

Minutes of the Proceedings

of the

Fifth Sixth Meeting of the Society.1

Lodge Room, April 28,th 1842.

The Meeting meet met according to adjournment, present Prest. Joseph Smith and Elder W. [Willard] Richards—

President Smith arose and said that the purport of his being present on the occasion was, to make observations respecting the Priesthood, and give instructions for the benefit of the Society2 That as his instructions were intended only for the Society; he requested that a vote should be taken on those present who were not members, to ascertain whether they should be admitted— he exhorted the meeting to act honestly and uprightly in all their proceedings— inasmuch as they would be call’d to give an account to Jehovah. All hearts must repent— be pure and God will regard them and bless them in a manner that they could not be bless’d in any other way—

A vote was then taken on the following names, to wit,

Hannah Dibble


Elizabeth Sprague


Sally Angell


Mary Mc.Carle [McCarroll]

Mary Ann Man[s]field

do [ditto]

Marianne Chase

Lydia A. Taylor


Elizabeth Music

Harriet P. Decker


Olive Chase

Sarah D. Rich


Phebe Woodruff

Philote Pack

Abigail Tippetts

Julia Pack

Catharine Petty

Sarah Foster

Charity Stoddard

Sarah Boyce [Boice]

Elizabeth Rolfe

Catharine Head

Jane Judd

Lury3 [Lucy] Scovill

Emerett L. Randall

Emily Partridge

Emily Spencer

Louisa Knight

Anna Cleveland

[p. [34]]

Tryphena Crandall—


Rachel Drollinger—


C [blank] Wood


Mary H. Palmer—

Elizabeth H. Barlow


Lucinda A Hartwell

Charlotte Higbee

Amida [Amanda Barnes] Smith

Lucinda A. Hartwell

Elizabeth Edwards

Caroline Butler

Roxena Repsher

Mary Ann Badlam

Ruth Curtis

Maria Gribble—

Lydia Knights [Knight]

Ann Montague

A [blank] Clements

Sarah Ann Whitney

Susan McArthur

Almeda Snider [Snyder]

Angeline E. Robinson


A Committee was then appointed to inquire into the cases of those persons to whom objections were made

Councillors [Elizabeth Ann] Whitney and [Sarah] Cleveland, Mrs. Allred, [Elizabeth Davis] Durfee [Vilate] Kimball and [Charlotte] Hawes to be the committee.

Committee retir’d— and Prest. J. Smith arose and call’d the attention of the meeting to the 12th Chap. of 1st Cor. “Now concerning spiritual gifts” &c.— Said that the passage which reads “no man can say that Jesus is the the Christ 〈Lord〉 but by the holy ghost,” should be translated, no man can know &c4

He continued to read the Chap. and give instructions respecting the different offices, and the necessity of every individual acting in the sphere allotted him or her; and filling the several offices to which they were appointed—5 Spoke of the disposition of man, to consider the lower offices in the church dishonorable and to look with jealous eyes upon the standing of others— that it was the nonsense of the human heart, for a person to be aspiring to other stations than appointed of God— that it was better for individuals to magnify their respective callings, and wait patiently till God shall say to them come up higher. He said the reason of these remarks being made, was, that some little thing was circulating in the Society, that some persons [p. [35]] were not going right in laying hands on the sick &c.6 Said if he had common sympathies, would rejoice that the sick could be heal’d: that the time had not been before, that these things could be in their proper order— that the church is not now organiz’d in its proper order, and cannot be until the Temple is completed7—— Prest. Smith continued the subject by adverting to the commission given to the ancient apostles “Go ye into all the world” &c.— no matter who believeth; these signs, such as healing the sick, casting out devils &c. should follow all that believe whether male or female.8 He ask’d the Society if they could not see by this sweeping stroke, that wherein they are ordaind, it is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority which is confer’d on them—9 and if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let every thing roll on.

He said, if God has appointed him, and chosen him as an instrument to lead the church, why not let him lead it through? Why stand in the way, when he is appointed to do a thing? Who knows the mind of God? Does he not reveal things differently from what we expect?— He remark’d that he was continually rising— altho’ he had every thing bearing him down— standing in his way and opposing— after all he always comes out right in the end.

Respecting the female laying on hands, he further remark’d, there could be no devil in it if God gave his sanction by healing— that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water— that it is no sin for any body to do it that has faith, or if the sick has faith to be heal’d by the administration.

He reprov’d those that were dispos’d to find fault with the management of concerns— saying if he undertook to lead the church he would lead it right— that he calculates to organize the church in proper order &c. [p. [36]]

President Smith continued by speaking of the difficulties he had to surmount ever since the commencement of the work in consequence of aspiring men, “great big Elders” as he call’d them, who had caused him much trouble, whom he had taught in the private counsel; and they would go forth into the world and ploclaim [proclaim] the things he had taught them; as their own revelations— said the same aspiring disposition will be in this Society, and must be guarded against— that every person should stand and act in the place appointed, and thus sanctify the Society and get it pure—

He said he had been trampled underfoot by aspiring Elders, for all were infected with that spirit, for instance P. [Parley P.] Pratt O. [Orson] Pratt, O. [Orson] Hyde and J. [John E.] Page had been aspiring— they could not be exalted but must run away as tho’ the care and authority of the church were vested with them—10 he said we had a subtle devil to deal with, and could only curb him by being humble.

He said as he had this opportunity, he was going to instruct the Society and point out the way for them to conduct, that they might act according to the will of God— that he did not know as he should have many opportunities of teaching them— that they were going to be left to themselves,— they would not long have him to instruct them— that the church would not have his instruction long, and the world would not be troubled with him a great while, and would not have his teachings— He spoke of delivering the keys to this Society and to the church— that according to his prayers God had appointed him elsewhere11

He exhorted the sisters always to concentrate their faith and prayers for, and place confidence, in those whom God has appointed to honor, whom God has plac’d at the head to lead— that we should arm them with our prayers.—[p. [37]] that the keys of the kingdom are about to be given to them, that they may be able to detect every thing false— as well as to the Elders12

He said if one member becomes corrupt and you know it; you must immediately put it away. The sympathies of the heads of the church have induc’d them to bear with those that were corrupt; in consequence of which all become contaminated— you must put down iniquity and by your good example provoke the Elders to good works— if you do right, no danger of going too fast: he said he did not care how fast we run in the path of virtue. Resist evil and there is no danger. God, men, angels, and devils can’t condemn those that resist every thing that is evil— as well might the devil seek to dethrone Jehovah, as that soul that resists every thing that is evil.

The charitable Society— this is according to your natures— it is natural for females to have feelings of charity— you are now plac’d in a situatio[n] where you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms. If you live up to these principles how great and glorious!— if you live up to your privilege, the angels cannot be restrain’d from being your associates— females, if they are pure and innocent can come into the presence of God;13 for what is more pleasing to God than innocence; you must be innocent or you cannot come up before God. If ye 〈we〉 would come before God let us be pure ourselves. The devil has great power— he will so transform things14 as to make one gape at those who are doing the will of God— You need not be tearing men for their deeds, but let the weight of innocence be felt; which is more mighty than a millstone hung about the neck. Not war, not jangle, not contradiction, but meekness, love, purity, these are the things that should magnify us.— Achan15 must be brought to light— iniquity must be purged out— then the vail will be rent and the blessings of heaven will flow down [p. [38]]— they will roll down like the Missisippi river. This Society shall have power to command Queens in their midst— I now deliver it as a prophecy that before ten years shall roll round, the queens of the earth shall come and pay their respects to this Society— they shall come with their millions and shall contribute of their abundance for the relief of the poor— If you will be pure, nothing can hinder.

After this instruction, you will be responsible for your own sins. It is an honor to save yourself yourselves— all are responsible to save themselves.

Prest. Smith, after reading from the above mentioned Chapter, continued to give instruction respecting the order of God, as established in the church; saying every one should aspire only to magnify his own office &c.——

He then commenc’d reading the 13th chapter, “Though I speak with the tongues of men” &c; and said don’t be limited in your views with regard to your neighbors’ virtues, but be limited towards your own virtues; and not think yourselves more righteous than others; you must enlarge your souls toward others if yould [you would?] do like Jesus, and carry your fellow creatures to Abram’s bosom.

He said he had manifested long suffering and we must do so too—— Prest. Smith then read, “Though I have the gift of prophecy” &c. He then said, though one should become mighty— do great things— overturn mountains &c and should then turn to eat and drink with the drunken; all former deeds would not save him— but he would go to destruction!

As you increase in innocence and virtue, as you increase in goodness, let your hearts expand— let them be enlarged towards others— you must be longsuff’ring and bear with the faults and errors of mankind. How precious are the souls of men!— The female part of community are apt to be [p. [39]] contracted in their views. You must not be contracted, but you must be liberal in your feelings.

Let this Society teach how to act towards husbands to treat them with mildness and affection. When a man is borne down with trouble— when he is perplex’d; if he can meet a smile, an argument— if he can meet with mildness, it will calm down his soul and soothe his feelings. When the mind is going to despair, it needs a solace.

This Society is to get instruction thro’ the order which God has established— thro’ the medium of those appointed to lead— and I now turn the key to you in the name of God and this Society shall rejoice and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time—16 this is the beginning of better days, to this Society

When you go home never give a cross word, but let kindness, charity and love, crown your works henceforward. Don’t envy sinners— have mercy on them, God will destroy them.— Let your labors be confin’d mostly to those around you in your own circle; as far as knowledge is concerned, it may extend to all the world, but your administrations, should be confin’d to the circle of your immediate acquaintance, and more especially to the members of the Society.

Those ordain’d to lead the Society, are authoriz’d to appoint to different offices as the circumstances shall require.

If any have a matter to reveal, let it be in your own tongue. Do not indulge too much in the gift of tongues, or the devil will take advantage of the innocent. You may speak in tongues for your comfort but I lay this down for a rule that if any thing is [p. [40]] is taught by the gift of tongues, it is not to be received for doctrine.17

Prest. S. then offered instruction respecting the propriety of females administering to the sick by the laying on of hands— said it was according to revelation &c. said he never was plac’d in similar circumstances, and never had given the same instruction.

He clos’d his instructions by expressing his satisfaction in improving the opportunity.

Record of Joseph Smith Sermon

Record of Joseph Smith sermon. The minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society record six addresses by Joseph Smith, all in 1842. The page shown here reports part of Smith’s April 28 address, in which he told the members, “I now turn the key to you in the name of God and this Society shall rejoice and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time.” The handwriting on this page is that of Eliza R. Snow. (Church History Library, Salt Lake City. Photograph by Welden C. Andersen.)

The spirit of the Lord was pour’d out in a very powerful manner, never to be forgotten by those present on that interesting occasion.

The Committee appointed to investigate into the cases of individuals, returned & reported that the objections against A. E. Robi[n]son were remov’d; and accordingly she was received by a unanimous vote.

The following pers♢ns 〈names〉 were also read and voted as follows

Lydia Knight


Hannah A. Dibble


Rebecca Reed


Polly Sherwood

Amy Clothier


Mary C. Miller

Mary Smith


Laura Russ

Aphia Yale

Jane Miller

Anna Jones

aye no

Hannah Whitlock

Elizabeth Eaton


Eliza Moses18

Lydia M. Smith


Abigail Works

Rosetta L. Snow

[blank] Johnson

Nancy King

The gentlemen withdrew and the sisters proceeded to business, concerning the poor &c. [p. [41]]

Councillor Whitney call’d on those who could represent the poor, to do so.

The family by the name of Drury was represented as being very needy.

Prest E. Smith said there was some provision in the treasury— and call’d for a vote whether some should be appropriated for the above object.

Carried in the affirmative.

Mrs. Nighman [Jane Neyman] was represented as being destitute

Prest. S. recommended that the widow Nighman should be visited to inquire if she was dispos’d to reform the order of her house.19

After several exhortations by individuals and many comforting words &c., it was motioned, secon[d]ed and carried that we adjourn until next thursday, 2 o.clock.

The meeting arose and was dismiss’d by Councillor Whitney.

The following donations were made20

to wit.


Sally Angell



Lydia Anderson


Elizabeth Allred


Abigail Leonard


Eliza Green[e]


—— [Melissa] Bird


Nancy Winchester


Olive Farr


Kuhamath Derby—



[blank] Wight— appropriates



2 dollars of which to the schooling of widow [Prudence] Barkdall’s children and 3, to widow [Cynthia] Baggs’ for schooling her children

Magdalene Moesser donates pr. week out of the store



[p. [42]]


  1. [1]Extracts from the minutes of this meeting were published with significant modifications in the September 19, 1855, issue of the Deseret News. (See Document 2.2.)

  2. [2]The April 28, 1842, entry in Joseph Smith’s 1841–1842 journal, written by his scribe Willard Richards, reads: “at Two o’clock after-noon met the members of the ‘Female relief Society’ and after presiding at the admission of many new members. Gave a lecture on the pries[t]hood shewing how the Sisters would come in possession of the priviliges & blesings & gifts of the priesthood— & that the signs should follow them. such as healing the sick casting out devils &c. & that they might attain unto. these blessings. by a virtuous life & conversation & diligence in keeping all the commandments.” (Joseph Smith, Journal, Apr. 28, 1842, in JSP, J2:52.)

  3. [3]text: Possibly “Lucy”.

  4. [4]1 Corinthians 12:3. Joseph Smith had not altered this verse as part of his earlier revision of the King James Bible. (See Scott H. Faulring et al., eds., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts [Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004], 507.)

  5. [5]Joseph Smith’s 1832 revelation on priesthood included similar instructions: “Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling.” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:109.)

  6. [6]At the April 19, 1842, meeting of the society, “Mrs. Leonard was administered to for the restoration of health,” and Mrs. Durfee “bore testimony to the great blessing” of healing she had received when Emma Smith and her counselors administered to her at a previous meeting. (Document 1.2, entry for Apr. 19, 1842.)

  7. [7]See Doctrine and Covenants 124:28, 39. At a Relief Society meeting on August 13, 1843, Nauvoo temple building committee member Reynolds Cahoon said: “there are many Benevolent Societies abroad designd to do good but not as this ours is according to the order of God connected with the priesthood according to the same good principals & knowledge will grow out of it … you kneed not doubt but this Society is raisd by the Lord to prepare us for the great blessings which are for us in the House of the Lord in the Temple.” (Document 1.2, entry for Aug. 13, 1843.)

  8. [8]Mark 16:17, 18. Joseph Smith’s 1832 revelation on priesthood emphasized that “every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost,” with signs and “many wonderful works” following “them that believe.” Latter-day Saint women had begun performing healing blessings in the 1830s. (Doctrine and Covenants 84:64–66; Jonathan A. Stapley and Kristine Wright, “Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism,” Journal of Mormon History 37, no. 1 [Winter 2011]: 1–11.)

  9. [9]Counselor Elizabeth Ann Whitney remembered that she was “ordained and set apart under the hand of Joseph Smith the Prophet to administer to the sick and comfort the sorrowful.” Diantha Morley Billings, who joined the Relief Society on March 24, 1842, “was blessed and set apart to administer to the sick.” (Elizabeth Ann Whitney, “A Leaf from an Autobiography,” Woman’s Exponent, Nov. 15, 1878, 7:91; “In Memoriam,” Woman’s Exponent, June 1, 1879, 8:251.)

  10. [10]Joseph Smith appears to be criticizing Parley P. Pratt (1807–1857), Orson Pratt (1811–1881), Orson Hyde (1805–1878), and John E. Page (1799–1867), all members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, for two issues: for earlier public conflicts between each man and Smith; and for publicly teaching things Smith had shared privately. In 1837, financial disputes—precipitated by the national panic of 1837 and the local failure of the Kirtland Safety Society, a banking institution of which Joseph Smith was president—led to the temporary disaffection of the Pratt brothers. Orson Hyde publicly criticized Smith’s leadership the following year during conflict between Mormons and Missourians and was disfellowshipped from the church and removed from the apostolic quorum; he was restored to fellowship within the church and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1839. Page failed to fill a mission with other members of the Twelve to England in 1839, as well as a mission to accompany Orson Hyde to Jerusalem in 1841. Smith chided Page at the April 1842 church conference. It is more difficult to pinpoint instances when, without Smith’s authorization, these apostles publicly preached information that Smith had taught them in private. By this time, Parley Pratt was a prolific writer who had published some theological ideas, such as the doctrine of theosis (humanity’s potential for divinization), that Smith did not teach publicly until later. (Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow, Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism [New York: Oxford University Press, 2011], 96–102, 125–126; Wilford Woodruff, Journals, 1833–1898, Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898, CHL, May 29 and June 27, 1839; JSP, J1:343n38; “Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, Apr. 15, 1842, 3:762; John Quist, “John E. Page: An Apostle of Uncertainty,” Journal of Mormon History 12 [1985]: 53–56.)

  11. [11]On many occasions between 1838 and 1844, Joseph Smith expressed premonitions of his death. While imprisoned in Liberty, Missouri, in 1838 and 1839, Smith told Lyman Wight that “he should not live to see forty years, but told him [Wight] not to reveal it untill he was dead.” In addition, at a young boy’s funeral on April 9, 1842, Joseph Smith stated, “Some has supposed that Br Joseph could not die but this is a mistake it is true their has been times when I have had the promise of my life to accomplish such & such things, but having accomplish those things I have not at present any lease of my life & am as liable to die as other men.” (Woodruff, Journal, Apr. 9, 1842, and July 28, 1844.)

  12. [12]The term “keys” had multiple meanings for Latter-day Saints in the 1840s. On May 1, 1842, three days after this address to the Relief Society, Joseph Smith preached in a public gathering in Nauvoo “on the keys of the kingdom” and stated, “The keys are certain signs & words by which false spirits & personages may be detected from true.— which cannot be revealed to the Elders till the Temple is completed.”a On other occasions, Smith employed the terms “keys” and “keys of the kingdom” with reference to both knowledge and authority. Scriptural passages refer to “the key of knowledge” or “the key of the knowledge of God,” which Latter-day Saints associate with the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood, including temple ordinances.b For Latter-day Saints, as for Catholics, keys also denote the authority of ecclesiastical office.c Both ancient and modern scriptures assign the governing and sealing “keys of the kingdom” to the apostles or “the Presidency of the High Priesthood.”d (a. Joseph Smith, Journal, May 1, 1842, in JSP, J2:53. b. See Luke 11:52; and Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–23. c. “Keys,” in The Oxford English Dictionary, ed. J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner, 2nd ed., 20 vols. [Oxford: Clarendon, 1989], 8:405. d. See Matthew 16:19; and Doctrine and Covenants 27:12–13; 81:2; see also “Keys,” in JSP, J1:468; Doctrine and Covenants 107:18–19; 124:95, 97; and Jared Lindquist, “‘Unlocking the Door of the Gospel’: The Concept of ‘Keys’ in Mormonism and Early American Culture,” Archive of Restoration Culture: Summer Fellows’ Papers, 1997–1999 [Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, 2000], 29–41.)

  13. [13]Joseph Smith’s 1832 revelation on priesthood states that the “power of godliness” cannot be manifest to mankind without priesthood authority and ordinances. It also explains that Moses taught this and “sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God.” The Book of Mormon refers to the righteous coming into or dwelling in the presence of God. (Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–23; see also 2 Nephi 2:8; and Mormon 7:7; 9:13.)

  14. [14]text: “things” written over a knife-erased illegible word.

  15. [15]Joshua 7 recounts Achan’s disobedience and deception.

  16. [16]Joseph Smith used similar wording on February 6, 1836, when, with reference to missionary work, he declared to the Kirtland elders quorum: “this night the key is turned to the nations.” Parallel language appears in a published letter from Hyrum Smith inviting the Saints to come to Nauvoo to build the temple “in this place, wherein their dead may be redeemed, and the key of knowledge that unfolds the dispensation of the fullness of times may be turned, and the mysteries of God be unfolded.” (Kirtland Elders Quorum, “A Record of the First Quorumum of Elders Belonging to the Church of Christ: In Kirtland Geauga Co. Ohio,” 1836–1838, 1840–1841, Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, MO, Feb. 6, 1836; Letter from Hyrum Smith, Times and Seasons, Nov. 1, 1841, 3:589; see also Woodruff, Journal, June 27, 1839.)

  17. [17]At the April 19, 1842, meeting of the society, Sarah M. Cleveland spoke “in the gift of tongues” and Mrs. Sessions “gave the interpretation.” (Document 1.2, entry for Apr. 19, 1842.)

  18. [18]text: Possibly “Mores”.

  19. [19]The moral conduct of the daughters of “the widow Nighman” prompted the question regarding the “order of her house.” (See Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845, CHL, May 24 and 25, 1842; and “Chauncey L. Higbee,” Nauvoo Neighbor, May 29, 1844, [3]; see also 67n175 herein.)

  20. [20]text: Six pinholes in paper, as if something was attached at one point.