I Have a Question, 1891

These questions and answers are from the Juvenile Instructor of 1891. Some of them appear in columns headed “Editorial Thoughts,” some of which are explicitly signed The Editor, marking them as the work of George Q. Cannon.

One of our correspondents informs us that an Elder, preaching to the people in the place where he lived, stated that the cause of so much sickness and death among the little ones of that settlement last fall and spring was the non-observance by the people of the Word of Wisdom. Our correspondent states that he had been called upon to part with three of his children, and he asks if the doctrine which the elder taught is correct, as it causes him to feel very badly, because he has not been a strict observer, he admits, of the Word of Wisdom.

It is a simple but correct answer to this enquiry to say, that parents who have not been strict in observing the Word of Wisdom are not the only ones who have had to part with their children, but parents who have observed that Word with some degree of strictness have also been compelled to follow their children to the tomb.

It is not wise to generalize in the way this Elder is reported to have done, because, as we all know, children do get sick and die in families where the Word of Wisdom is observed with some care.

We trust our views respecting the benefits of observing the Word of Wisdom are known; at least, we have endeavored to make them known through these columns. We firmly believe that where parents observe the Word of Wisdom, they have a stronger claim on the promises of the Lord and can exercise more faith than they can who neglect the counsel given in that Word. But it is entirely too sweeping to say that the cause of sickness and death in a settlement where the little ones are taken off is due to the non-observance of the Word of Wisdom.

In some wards when a person presents himself for baptism, whether a first baptism or a re-baptism, immediately before being baptized he is required to raise his right arm to the square and covenant before God, angels and witnesses present, that he will keep the commandments of the Lord as they are made known to him. In other wards there is no such covenant required. Which is proper?

We should say that the proper course to be taken with candidates for baptism is to ask them to covenant that they will keep the commandments of the Lord. This is a custom that has prevailed in the Church always, and it is in accordance with the requirements of the Lord in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.

All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.

Of course, if candidates for baptism have witnessed before the Church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ and to serve Him to the end, etc., before they come to the water to be baptized, there would be no necessity to ask them to do so then; but if not, they should do so there.

Is it proper to use the words ‘for remission of sins’ in baptizing either in a first baptism or a rebaptism?

It is safe, in first baptisms, to follow the language given to the Church in the revelations. In the form which is there given, the words “for the remission of sins” are not used. As we have explained before in these columns, the man holding the keys has the right to instruct the Elders to modify or change that form, according to circumstances which may arise from time to time in the Church; but where no such modification is given, the safe and proper course for the Elders and priests in baptizing is to follow the words which the Lord has given.

What is the proper attitude to be assumed by the person asking a blessing upon the bread or water in administering the sacrament?

If convenient, it is proper for the person asking a blessing upon the bread and the water to kneel with the Church. But it is not always convenient to do this.

Should the person passing the sacrament single out the Priesthood in the stand, administering to those highest in authority first, when they are not so seated as to take it in proper order?

There is no rule requiring those who are passing the sacrament to hand it to any one person before another. As an act of courtesy, however, when convenient, we notice that it is a general practice throughout the Stakes to present the bread or cup to the President of the Stake first, or if any of the First Presidency or Twelve are there, to pass it to them first. But we have thought that this might be carried too far; for we are all brethren and sisters alike in partaking of the sacrament; and one man is not to be preferred before another, though the natural disposition among the Saints is to honor age or men presiding in the priesthood. At some Stake conferences we have noticed that in passing the sacrament the brethren carry it first to the man holding the highest office in the Priesthood; in others they offer the bread and cup to the first person they come to. So that there is no fixed rule in the Church concerning this.

If a man should be ordained to an office of the Melchisedek Priesthood by an apostle who is corrupt and deep in sin, but who has never been convicted of this sin, will this ordination hold good after the apostle has been convicted and cut off from the Church, or will the one whom he ordained have to receive a second ordination?

A man holding the Priesthood and in good standing in the Church may nevertheless be a sinner and a violator of the laws of God. there have been such cases in the Church; yet while they held the Priesthood and performed acts such as the ordination of men under proper circumstances, those ordinations have not been void. A man properly ordained by another who is in this condition would receive the Priesthood conferred upon him, although it might be subsequently discovered that he who did the ordaining was in transgression at the time. that would not invalidate that ordination, neither would it be necessary for the person thus ordained to be ordained a second time.

To deprive a man legally of his Priesthood, there must be action on the part of proper authority. There have been apostles who have fallen into sin, but they held their apostleship until they were legally deprived of it by action of their own council, or the action of the Church. when they were excommunicated by the council, they lost all the authority which had been conferred upon them; and so also, when excommunicated by the Church, they lost the fellowship of the Saints and all the promises which had been made unto them as members of the Church.

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