Monday, June 8, 2015

Mormon(ish) Religious Enthusiasm in Ante Bellum Tennessee. Part 3

[This is a continuation of parts one and two.]

Billy and Alfred learned that Elder Lee was accusing them of teaching false doctrine and being responsible for the apostasy at the Putnam County Branch in Tennessee. They insisted on a hearing before the High Council. But it didn't go as planned. Alfred was quite ill, and had to leave the the defense entirely up to his brother. Billy explained that if there were errors they were done in ignorance, yet they had a testimony of the Book of Mormon. The decision was close but a narrow majority voted against them.

On their way home each brother met a prominent church leader, one met Brigham Young and the other Hyrum Smith. They each pleaded their case before them and were told all would be alright. Ultimately the matter was dropped, and their names were cleared.

“It seemed very severe on us as we had preached the gospel in all sincerity of heart, and in our simplicity had believed in the gifts of the Gospel as promised to the Saints in all ages. Whatever we had done we did it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ never failing to give him the glory. We at once demanded a hearing before the High Council, expecting that must be made up of men who believed in the gifts of the Spirit as we did. It soon commenced to hear our case. The charges were prepared by John D. Lee. They accused us of teaching false doctrine, of doing miracles under false pretenses and of depreciating the Book of Mormon as of Divine origin. At the time we believed the book according to our knowledge, but at that early period we had but little knowledge of it ourselves nor were we prepared to make much use of it. The Bible we, like other sectarian Christians, had studied and been traditionated in and we used what was in our hands and what was evidently at that time, the most effective weapon for the defence of truth, yet we had a testimony that the Book of Mormon was of God and ever bore that testimony when there was any occasion.”
“On account of feeble health I was barely able to attend the Council and it devolved on my brother (William) to do the talking necessary in our defence. After he was done I simply bore testimony to the truth of what he had said. The Council was much divided but finally decided by a majority vote that we should acknowledge that our labors in Tennessee were not of God, but of the devil, that we had been deceived and had acted under evil influences. I got on to my feet and said that I came there expecting to abide their decision, but I regretted that I could not do it. I bore my testimony to them that the gospel had been preached, the blind had received their sight, the lame had walked, devils had been cast out, and the dead raised in the name of Jesus. That I knew these things, and could not deny them, for to do so would be to deny Christ. The Council took no further action on the case at that time, neither were we ever again called before it.” 
“My brother and I parted as we left the house, and being feeble I took the nearest way home. On the way I met Elder Brigham Young, at that time President of the Quorum of the Twelve. I requested the privilege of talking with him and gave him a general account of the affair. He placed his hand on my shoulder and said, Brother Young let your heart be comforted and go your way, and it will be all right. We want such men as you in the church. Men of faith in the gospel. My brother (William) afterwards said that after parting with me he met brother Hyrum Smith (brother of Joseph Smith). After telling him of our case he said, Brother Young the things you have related in your labors are of God and I will go to the printing office and have your names published to the world as in full fellowship with the church. Such notice was afterwards published in the Times and Seasons but not until seven months afterwards (on) January 16, 1843:

'Notice -- Whereas fellowship has been withdrawn from Brothers William and Alfred for teaching false and erroneous doctrine etc, in Tennessee as published in the Times and Seasons of June 15, 1842. This is to inform the Saints abroad that they have made satisfaction to the High Council of the Church of Jesus Christ at Nauvoo and are restored to their former standing and fellowship in the Church, and we recommend them to all with their lot may be cast. 
Signed, Hosea Stout, Clerk of the High Council.’”

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