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Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter II

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CHAPTER II.

A Blessing Meeting.—Lorenzo's Opinion of the Patriarch.—The Patriarch's Marvelous Prediction.—Lorenzo is Puzzled.—Explained to him by Revelation.—Lorenzo in Kirtland.—Fast-day Meetings.—Outpouring of the Spirit.—Gifts Manifested.—Lorenzo's First Speech from the Pulpit.—Description of the Temple.—Fast Meetings.—A Striking Incident.— Effect of the Meetings on Lorenzo's Mind.—Wants to Preach.—Is Ordained an Elder.

BEING present at a "Blessing Meeting," in the Temple, previous to his baptism into the Church; after listening to several patriarchal blessings pronounced upon the heads of different individuals with whose history he was acquainted, and of whom he knew the Patriarch was entirely ignorant; he was struck with astonishment to hear the peculiarities of those persons positively and plainly referred to in their blessings. And, as he afterwards expressed, he was convinced that an influence, superior to human prescience, dictated the words of the one who officiated. The Patriarch was the father of Joseph, the Prophet. That was the first time Lorenzo had met him. After the services, they were introduced, and Father Smith said to my brother that he would soon be convinced of the truth of the latter-day work, and be baptized; and he said: "You will become as great as you can possibly wish—even as great as God, and you cannot wish to be greater."

Unenlightened as his mind was at the time, the foregoing saying of the Patriarch was a puzzle which my brother could not comprehend, as will be seen by the following expression from his journal:

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. And why not? After years of study and diligent search after knowledge, in that which most intimately concerned me—"From whence came I?" "Why am I here?" "What is my future destiny?" In all this, I was profoundly ignorant. As yet I had received no key that could unlock those mysteries—that could make known, to my satisfaction, my relationship to Him who controls the universe.

I looked at Father Smith, and silently asked myself the question: Can that man be a deceiver? His every appearance answered in the negative. At first sight, his presence impressed me with feelings of love and reverence. I had never seen age so prepossessing. Father Joseph Smith, the Patriarch, was indeed a noble specimen of aged manhood.

But with all my favorable impressions of the Patriarch, that big saying was a dark parable. The prediction that I should soon be baptized was fulfilled in two weeks from the time it was spoken, and in about four years from that time I was reminded of the foregoing prediction by a very wonderful revelation on the subject in which the principle, as well as the promise, was made clear to my understanding as the sun at noonday.

My brother spent most of the winter of 1837-8 in Kirtland, where he witnessed many marvelous manifestations of the power of God; also exhibitions of the power and opposition of the adversary. During the time he became intimately acquainted with Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and with his father, the Patriarch with the Twelve Apostles and other leading men in the Church. In his journal he speaks of the fast meetings, prayer and testimony meetings in the Temple, as follows:

There we had the gift of prophecy—the gift of tongues—the interpretation of tongues—visions and marvelous dreams were related—the singing of heavenly choirs was heard, and wonderful manifestations of the healing power, through the administrations of the Elders, were witnessed. The sick were healed—the deaf made to hear—the blind to see and the lame to walk, in very many instances. It was plainly manifest that a sacred and divine influence—a spiritual atmosphere pervaded that holy edifice. Yes, indeed, for the Son of God, in His glory, had honored it with His royal presence. His voice, like the sound of many waters, was heard, saying:

I am the first and the last, I am he who liveth, I am he that was slain, I am your advocate with the Father. * * * Let the hearts of your brethren rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice, who have, with their might, built this house to my name.

For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here, and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house, etc. (See Doctrine and Covenants.)

No language can describe my feelings when, for the first time, I stood up in one of those pulpits to address an audience—a pulpit on the breastwork of which, only a short time before, this holy Personage stood—"his hair as white as pure snow, his eyes as a flame of fire"—where also Moses, Elias and Elijah came and committed the keys of their dispensations to Joseph Smith. (Here the journal closes for the present.)

Public meetings were regularly held in the Temple, after its dedication, on Sundays; and on the first Thursday in each month a fast meeting, commencing at or before 10 a.m., and closing at 4 p.m. The Temple was so constructed, that with white canvas curtains, which could be dropped and raised at pleasure, the lower story was, whenever occasion required, divided into four sections or apartments. This was invariably done at those fast meetiugs. The two sets of pulpits, one on the east and the other on the west end of the building, were intersected by the curtain extending from east to west, so as to leave half their lengths in each apartment, and they were occupied by the presiding officers who directed the services. Thus four separate meetings were in session at the same time, without, in the least, interfering with each other—giving opportunity for four to exercise instead of one.

On the aforementioned days, Father Smith (the Prophet's father) was in the habit of entering the Temple very early in the morning, and there offering up his prayers to God, in that holy place, before the rising of the sun, after having told the Saints, publicly, that they were welcome to come as early as they pleased. The result was that many assembled before the hour of 10 a.m., and did not leave till after 4 p.m.

Father Smith, in the capacity of his calling as President, gave general counsel and instructions on fast day; recommending that the greater portion of the forenoon should be spent in prayer, with testimonies of manifestations of the power of God, and with exhortations to faithfulness. At about 3 p.m. he would order the curtains to be drawn up—bringing the four congregations into one, over which he then presided until the close of the meeting.

The Saints were humble, and through our united faith, the Spirit of God was poured out in copious effusion, and, for one hour, we enjoyed pentecostal refreshings from on high. On these occasions the gifts of the Gospel were powerfully manifest—speaking and singing in tongues, the interpretation of tongues, the gift of healing and of prophecy, were freely exercised. These monthly fast meetings were so interesting, and so very enjoyable, that people came long distances to attend them.

At one of these meetings, an insane woman came into the quarter of the house where I had convened; she came before the opening services, and her tongue ran incessantly, making so much confusion as to render it improper, if not impossible, for the presiding Elder to commence religious services. The more she was coaxed and supplicated to be silent the more impetuous she became. At length, Elder John P. Greene, who was appointed to preside in that department, requested the congregation to kneel down and all simultaneously pray to God, vocally, that the evil spirit which was actuating that woman might be bound. The request was immediately complied with, and when we arose from our kneeling position Brother Greene, addressing the unfortunate woman (who was then silent), said: "Sister, you may now speak, for thou wilt not speak unless thou shalt speak by the Spirit of God." She instantly arose to her feet, and, in a sputtering, stammering manner, tried to speak but could not, and flew out of the Temple like a dart, and we saw no more of her that day.

I will relate one more remarkable circumstance which transpired in that interesting season—a circumstance which was not confined to either section of the Temple, but was witnessed by the many who were congregated on that day; and certainly all now living who were present on that occasion will remember. It is a testimony of answer to prayer that never can be forgotten. Father Smith presided over the meeting in the northwest section of the Temple, and after the meeting was opened by singing, he [opened his] mouth[1] in prayer, and in course of supplication he very earnestly prayed that the Spirit of God might be poured out as on the day of Pentecost—that it might come "as a rushing mighty wind." Some time after, in the midst of the exercises of the forenoon, it did come; and whether Father Smith had forgotten what he had prayed for, or whether in the fervency of his heart, when praying he did not realize what he prayed for, I never ascertained; but when the sound came and filled the house, with an expression of great astonishment he raised his eyes, exclaiming, "What! Is the house on fire?" But presently he comprehended the cause of his alarm, and was filled with unspeakable joy.

In attending these meetings, and listening to the young Elders as they bore testimonies of their marvelous experiences in the work of God, my brother became inspired with a strong desire to engage at once in the labors of the ministry. On this subject he says:

The testimonies of young missionaries as they rehearsed their experiences as laborers in the vineyard, proclaiming the joyful news that God was again speaking to His children on the earth; that He had raised up a Prophet through whom He was communicating His will, and calling on all the inhabitants of the earth to "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," stirred within me an irresistible desire to join in the glorious enterprise.

About this time a proclamation of the First Presidency was given from the stand, inviting those who wished to become members of the Elders' Quorum to present their names, and if accounted worthy by the Presidency, they should be ordained. With many others, I submitted my name for approval or otherwise, which is the only time in my life that I have offered my name for or solicited an office or calling.

  1. The text here read “he was mouth in prayer”; most likely a printing mistake. The substitution “opened his” conforms with the intended meaning even if it is not what Eliza R. Snow wrote.