Lorenzo Snow Preaches the Law of Tithing

Following the April 1899 sessions of general conference, President Snow felt impelled to again seek the Lord in earnest prayer for wisdom in solving the Church’s financial problems. He received no immediate answer. He was nevertheless impressed that he and other General Authorities should visit St. George and other settlements in southern Utah. At least sixteen of the Brethren, including President Joseph F. Smith, and their wives accompanied him. At the time of their visit the settlements of southern Utah were experiencing a severe drought.

St. George Tabernacle
The St. George Tabernacle was the site of President Snow’s revelation and sermon reemphasizing the payment of tithing as the way for the Church to achieve stability.

The tabernacle’s foundation stones were laid June 1863, and the building was completed in 1875. On 7 May 1876, Brigham Young, Jr., offered the dedicatory prayer.

On Wednesday, 17 May 1899, at the opening session of the conference in the St. George Tabernacle, President Snow told the Saints that “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.” 10

LeRoi C. Snow, son of the President, who was reporting the conference for the Deseret News, recalled what happened: “All at once father paused in his discourse. Complete stillness filled the room. I shall never forget the thrill as long as I live. When he commenced to speak again his voice strengthened and the inspiration of God seemed to come over him, as well as over the entire assembly. His eyes seemed to brighten and his countenance to shine. He was filled with unusual power. Then he revealed to the Latter-day Saints the vision that was before him.” 11

President Snow told the Saints that he could see that the people had neglected the law of tithing and that the Church would be relieved of debt if members would pay a full and honest tithing. He then said that the Lord was displeased with the Saints for failing to pay their tithing and promised them that if they would pay their tithes the drought would be removed and they would have a bounteous harvest.

Following the conference session, President Snow was again impressed that the solution to the Church’s financial problems lay in the payment of tithing. In meetings held at Leeds, Cedar City, Beaver, and Juab, other southern Utah communities, he delivered powerful discourses relative to this gospel principle. In Nephi, in central Utah, a remarkable meeting was held where President Snow mentioned the revelation he had received on the law of tithing and “commissioned every one present to be his special witness to the fact that the Lord had given this revelation to him.” 12

At Church headquarters, President Snow again spoke powerfully about tithing at the Mutual Improvement Association conference in June. Elder B. H. Roberts then made a motion, which was unanimously adopted, that the Saints accept the doctrine of tithing now presented. Visibly moved, President Snow stood up and declared, “Every man who is here, who has made this promise, will be saved in the Celestial Kingdom.” 13

Tithing was preached in all the stake conferences, and a year later President Snow reported that the Saints had contributed twice as much tithing during the past year as they had paid the previous two years. Under inspiration, he had set in motion the program that would, by 1907, completely free the Church from debt. Many Saints testified that not only were the windows of heaven opened to save the Church, but those who followed this divine law were spiritually and temporally blessed as well.

11. LeRoi C. Snow, “The Lord’s Way out of Bondage Was Not the Way of Men,” Improvement Era, July 1938, p. 439.

12. Snow, “The Lord’s Way out of Bondage,” p. 440.

13. In Snow, “The Lord’s Way out of Bondage,” p. 442.

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The Grand Destiny of Man by Lorenzo Snow

Only five feet six inches tall, and weighing barely 130 pounds at the time he became President of the Church, Lorenzo Snow was the last of the General Authorities to have been personally acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. In a November 1900 discourse delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, President Snow told the Saints that he had often visited the Prophet Joseph and his family, dined at his table, had private interviews with him, and knew that he was an honorable, moral man who was greatly respected. He feelingly declared that “the Lord has shown me most clearly and completely that he was a Prophet of God.” 1

One of Lorenzo Snow’s great contributions was his elucidation of the doctrine that man might one day become like God. As President of the Church he gave a discourse entitled “The Grand Destiny of Man.” He related how as a young man he had been inspired by one of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s sermons about the manifestations of God and Jesus Christ to him. Two and one-half years later, after a patriarchal blessing meeting, Joseph Smith, Sr., had promised Lorenzo that he could become as great as God himself. Two and one-half years after that, while Lorenzo listened to an explanation of the scriptures, the Lord inspired him to compose this couplet: “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.” President Snow stated, “Nothing was ever revealed more distinctly than that was to me.” 3 Shortly before Joseph Smith’s death, Lorenzo heard him teach the same doctrine. Thereafter Elder Snow made this doctrine one of the subjects of his own discourses.

3. “The Grand Destiny of Man,” Millennial Star, 22 Aug. 1901, p. 547; see also “The Grand Destiny of Man,” 15 Aug. 1901, pp. 541–42; LeRoi C. Snow, “Devotion to a Divine Inspiration,” Improvement Era, June 1919, p. 656.

Jesus Christ Appears to Lorenzo Snow

In 1933, LeRoi C. Snow wrote about the Savior’s appearance to his father, Lorenzo Snow, within the confines of the Salt Lake Temple in 1898. At this time, Lorenzo Snow was the President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and next in line to succeed Wilford Woodruff as Prophet, Seer and Revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He relates:

Salt Lake Temple Corridor For some time President Woodruff’s health had been failing. Nearly every evening President Lorenzo Snow visited him at his home. This particular evening the doctors said that President Woodruff could not live much longer, that he was becoming weaker every day. President Snow was greatly worried. We cannot realize today what a terrible financial condition the Church was in at that time—owing millions of dollars and not being able to pay even the interest on its indebtedness.

LeRoi went on to relate that his father repaired to the Salt Lake Temple and,

. . . there plead to the Lord to spare President Woodruff’s life, that President Woodruff might outlive him and that the great responsibility of Church leadership would not fall upon his shoulders. Yet he promised the Lord that he would devotedly perform any duty required at his hands. . . .

. . . [On 2 September 1898, after receiving word of the death of Wilford Woodruff, President Snow] went to his private room in the Salt Lake Temple.

While in the temple, President Snow

. . . poured out his heart to the Lord. He reminded the Lord how he plead for President Woodruff’s life to be spared, that President Woodruff’s days would be lengthened beyond his own; that he might never be called upon to bear the heavy burdens and responsibilities of the Church. “Nevertheless,” he said, “Thy will be done. I have not sought this responsibility but if it be Thy will, I now present myself before Thee for Thy guidance and instruction. I ask that Thou show me what Thou wouldst have me do.”

After finishing his prayer he expected a reply, some special manifestation from the Lord. So he waited,—and waited—and waited. There was no reply, no voice, no visitation, no manifestation. He left the . . . room in great disappointment. As he was walking through one of the temple hallways, he saw before him, standing above the floor, the Savior of the world. He was told that he was to be President Woodruff’s successor. He was again instructed “to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents.” 5 Passing through the Celestial room and out into the large corridor this glorious manifestation was given President Snow which I relate in the words of his grand-daughter, Allie Young Pond. . . .

According to President Lorenzo Snow’s granddaughter:

Alice Armeda Snow Young Pond One evening while I was visiting grandpa Snow in his room in the Salt Lake Temple, I remained until the door keepers had gone and the night-watchmen had not yet come in, so grand-pa said he would take me to the main front entrance and let me out that way. He got his bunch of keys from his dresser. After we left his room and while we were still in the large corridor leading into the celestial room, I was walking several steps ahead of grand-pa when he stopped me and said: “Wait a moment, Allie, I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.”

Then grandpa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: “He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold.” Grand-pa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance and beautiful white robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him.

Then he came another step nearer and put his right hand on my head and said: “Now, grand-daughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grand-father, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior, here in the Temple, and talked with Him face to face.”1

Sources:

  1. Snow, LeRoi C. “An Experience of My Father’s.” The Improvement Era, Sep 1933. 677. See also “Lorenzo Snow – Fifth President of the Church”. Presidents of the Church – Student Manual. 2003. Church Educational System. 18 Aug 2009.

Here is the full article from the September 1933 Improvement Era:

An Experience of My Father’s
By LeROI C. SNOW

FOR some time President Woodruff’s health had been failing. Nearly every evening President Lorenzo Snow visited him at his home. This particular evening the doctors said that President Wood ruff could not live much longer, that he was becoming weaker every day. President Snow was greatly worried. We cannot realize today what a terrible financial condition the Church was in at that time—owing millions of dollars and not being able to pay even the interest on its indebtedness.

My father went to his room in the Salt Lake Temple, dressed in his robes of the Priesthood, knelt at the sacred altar in the Holy of Holies in the House of the Lord and there plead to the Lord to spare President Woodruff’s life, that President Woodruff might outlive him and that the great responsibility of Church leadership would not fall upon his shoulders. Yet he promised the Lord that he would devotedly perform any duty required at his hands. At this time he was in his eighty-sixth year.

Soon after this President Woodruff was taken to California where he died Friday morning at 6:40 o’clock September 2nd, 1898. President George Q. Cannon at once wired the information to the President’s office in Salt Lake City. Word was forwarded to President Snow who was in Brigham City. The telegram was delivered to him on the street in Brigham. He read it to President Rudger Clawson, then President of Boxelder Stake, who was with him, went to the telegraph office and replied that he would leave on the train about 5:30 that evening. He reached Salt Lake City about 7:15, proceeded to the President’s office, gave some instructions and then went to his private room in the Salt Lake Temple.

President Snow put on his holy temple robes, repaired again to the same sacred altar, offered up the signs of the Priesthood and poured out his heart to the Lord. He reminded the Lord how he plead for President Woodruff’s life to be spared, that President Woodruff’s days would be lengthened beyond his own; that he might never be called upon to bear the heavy burdens and responsibilities of the Church. “Nevertheless,” he said, “Thy will be done. I have not sought this responsibility but if it be Thy will, I now present myself before Thee for Thy guidance and instruction. I ask that Thou show me what Thou wouldst have me do.”

After finishing his prayer he expected a reply, some special manifestation from the Lord. So he waited,—and waited—and waited. There was no reply, no voice, no visitation, no manifestation. He left the altar and the room in great disappointment. Passing through the Celestial room and out into the large corridor a glorious manifestation was given President Snow which I relate in the words of his grand-daughter, Allie Young Pond, now the wife of Elder Noah S. Pond, recently president of the Northern States Mission:

“One evening while I was visiting grandpa Snow in his room in the Salt Lake Temple, I remained until the door keepers had gone and the night-watchmen had not yet come in, so grand-pa said he would take me to the main front entrance and let me out that way. He got his bunch of keys from his dresser. After we left his room and while we were still in the large corridor leading into the celestial room, I was walking several steps ahead of grand-pa when he stopped me and said: ‘Wait a moment, Allie, I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.’

“Then grand-pa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: ‘He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold.’

“Grand-pa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance and beautiful white robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him.

“Then he came another step nearer and put his right hand on my head and said: ‘Now, grand-daughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grand-father, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior, here in the Temple, and talked with Him face to face.'”

During the June conference in 1919 at an M. I. A. officers’ meeting in the Assembly Hall I related the above testimony. President Heber J. Grant immediately arose and said:

In confirmation of the testimony given by Brother LeRoi C. Snow quoting the grand-daughter of Lorenzo Snow, I want to call attention to the fact that several years elapsed after the death of the Prophet Joseph before President Young was sustained as the president of the Church; after the death of President Young, several years elapsed again before President Taylor was sustained, and again when he died several years elapsed before President Woodruff was sustained.

After the funeral of President Wilford Woodruff, the apostles met in the office of the First Presidency and brother Francis M. Lyman said: “I feel impressed, although one of the younger members of the quorum, to say that I believe it would be pleasing in the sight of the Lord if the First Presidency of the Church was reorganized right here and right now. If I am in error regarding this impression, President Snow and the senior members of the council can correct me.”

President Snow said that he would be pleased to hear from all the brethren upon this question, and each and all of us expressed ourselves as believing it would be pleasing to the Lord and that it would be the proper thing to have the Presidency organized at once.

When we had finished, then and not till then, did Brother Snow tell us that he was instructed of the Lord in the temple the night after President Woodruff died, to organize the Presidency of the Church at once. President Anthon H. Lund and myself are the only men now living who were present at that meeting.

May the Lord bless and guide us by his spirit continually and may the testimony that we possess of the divinity of the work ever abide with us and our faithfulness be an inspiration to lead others to a knowledge of the gospel, is my prayer and I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

A few days after the M. I. A. conference, in an interview with President Lund in his office, he retold the incident to me as given by President Grant regarding the meeting in the office of the First Presidency on Tuesday morning, September 13th, 1898, at which Lorenzo Snow was chosen President of the Church. He also said that he heard father tell a number of times of the Savior’s appearance to him after he had dressed in his temple robes, presented himself before the Lord and offered up the signs of the Priesthood.

I related this experience in the Eighteenth ward sacramental service. After the meeting Elder Arthur Winter told me he also had heard my father tell of the Savior’s appearance to him in the Temple instructing him not only to reorganize the First Presidency at once but also to select the same counselors that President Woodrutt had, Presidents George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith.