Parley P. Pratt uses an Old Trick

Fifty miles west of Kirtland, in Amherst, Ohio, Parley was arrested on a frivolous charge, tried, found guilty, and ordered to pay a fine. Because he could not pay, Parley spent the night locked in a public inn. The next morning, he was visited briefly by his companions and urged them to move ahead on their journey, promising to soon rejoin them. Parley reported: “After sitting awhile by the fire in charge of the officer, I requested to step out. I walked out into the public square accompanied by him. Said I, ‘Mr. Peabody, are you good at a race?’ ‘No,’ said he, ‘but my big bull dog is, and he has been trained to assist me in my office these several years; he will take any man down at my bidding.’ ‘Well, Mr. Peabody, you compelled me to go a mile, I have gone with you two miles. You have given me an opportunity to preach, sing, and have also entertained me with lodging and breakfast. I must now go on my journey; if you are good at a race you can accompany me. I thank you for all your kindness—good day, sir.’

“I then started on my journey, while he stood amazed and not able to step one foot before the other. . . . He did not awake from his astonishment sufficiently to start in pursuit till I had gained, perhaps, two hundred yards. . . . He now came hallooing after me, and shouting to his dog to seize me. The dog, being one of the largest I ever saw, came close on my footsteps with all his fury; the officer behind still in pursuit, clapping his hands and hallooing, ‘stu-boy, stu-boy—take him—watch—lay hold of him, I say—down with him,’ and pointing his finger in the direction I was running. The dog was fast overtaking me, and in the act of leaping upon me, when, quick as lightning, the thought struck me, to assist the officer, in sending the dog with all fury to the forest a little distance before me. I pointed my finger in that direction, clapped my hands, and shouted in imitation of the officer. The dog hastened past me with redoubled speed towards the forest; being urged by the officer and myself, and both of us running in the same direction.”

14. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 36, 38–39.

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A Witness of the Holy Ghost

Another early Ohio convert, Philo Dibble, who lived about five miles east of Kirtland, was told of a “golden Bible.” Curious, he sought out the missionaries and, after hearing Oliver Cowdery speak, believed and presented himself for baptism. His description of the spiritual power attending his reception of the Holy Ghost may be a clue to why so many early Saints found joy in the Restoration:

“When I came out of the water, I knew that I had been born of water and of the spirit, for my mind was illuminated with the Holy Ghost.

“. . . While in bed that night I felt what appeared to be a hand upon my left shoulder and a sensation like fibers of fire immediately enveloped my body. . . . I was enveloped in a heavenly influence, and could not sleep for joy.” 6

6. Philo Dibble, “Philo Dibble’s Narrative,” Early Scenes in Church History (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1882), pp. 75–76.

Newel Knight Has His Calling and Election Made Sure

First Conference of the Church

By June 1830 the Saints in New York were located primarily in Manchester, Fayette, and Colesville. The membership of the Church at this point was about thirty people. Following revealed instructions (see D&C 20:75 ), the Prophet called them together for the first conference of the Church on 9 June, at Fayette. Many people attended who already believed or were eager to learn. Those assembled partook of the sacrament, and several recent converts were confirmed. Samuel H. Smith was ordained an elder, and Joseph Smith, Sr., and Hyrum were ordained priests. Ten brethren received “licenses,” which were small documents certifying they were authorized to represent the Church (see D&C 20:64–65 ). Oliver Cowdery kept the minutes of this meeting and was appointed by the conference to keep the official Church records.

map of New York and Pennsylvania
The three centers of the Church in New York in June of 1830: (1) Manchester township, (2) Fayette township, and (3) the Colesville area

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Joseph Smith read to the congregation the “Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ” (most of sections 20 and 22 of the Doctrine and Covenants ), which contain significant instructions pertaining to the order of the Church. 11

Joseph Smith wrote, “Much exhortation and instruction was given, and the Holy Ghost was poured out upon us in a miraculous manner—many of our number prophesied, whilst others had the heavens opened to their view.” Newel Knight was filled with unspeakable love and peace. He saw a vision of the Savior and learned that he would someday be admitted into the presence of the Lord.

“Such scenes as these were calculated to inspire our hearts with joy unspeakable, and fill us with awe and reverence for that Almighty Being. . . . To find ourselves engaged in the very same order of things as observed by the holy Apostles of old; to realize the importance and solemnity of such proceedings; and to witness and feel with our own natural senses, the like glorious manifestations of the powers of the Priesthood, the gifts and blessings of the Holy Ghost, and the goodness and condescension of a merciful God unto such as obey the everlasting Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, combined to create within us sensations of rapturous gratitude, and inspire us with fresh zeal and energy in the cause of truth.” 12

handwritten certificate
Joseph Smith, Sr., certificate of ordination as a priest signed by Joseph Smith, Jr., and Oliver Cowdery.

Shortly after this conference twelve people were baptized in Seneca Lake by David Whitmer. They included Joseph Smith’s sister Katherine and his brothers William and Don Carlos.

12. History of the Church, 1:84–86.