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Restoration of the Priesthoods


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David Whitmer, interview by Zenas H. Gurley Jr., 14 Jan. 1885, typescript, LDS archives.
David Whitmer Interview by Zenas Gurley
Zenas H. Gurley
14 Jan, 1885
   13 Q.-- Were you present when Joseph Smith received the revelation commanding him and Oliver Cowdery to ordain each other to the Melchisedek Priesthood, if so, where was it and how?
   Ans -- No I was not -- neither did I ever hear of such a thing as an angel ordaining them until I got into Ohio about the year 1834 -- or later.

   14. Q. Can you tell why that Joseph and Oliver were ordained to the lesser Priesthood by the hand of an Angel but in receiving the Higher they ordained each other?
   Ans -- I moved Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to my fathers house in Fayette Seneca County New York, from Harmony, Penn. in the year 1829, on our way I conversed freely with them upon this great work they were bringing about, and Oliver stated to me in Josephs presence that they had baptized each other seeking by that to fulfill the command -- And after our arrival at fathers sometime in June 1829, Joseph ordained Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder, and Oliver ordained Joseph to be an Elder in the church of Christ and during that year Joseph both baptized and ordained me an elder in the church of Christ. Also, during this year the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished, and we preached preached, baptized and ordained some as Elders, And upon the Sixth day of April 1830, six Elders together with some fifty or sixty (as near as I recollect) of the members met together to effect an organization.
   I never heard that an Angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood until the year 1834 5. or 6 -- in Ohio. My information from Joseph and Oliver upon this matter being as I have stated, and that they were commanded so to do by revealment through Joseph. I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver as stated and believed by some, I regard that as an error, a misconception.
(Note:  This comes from a typescript of the personal notes of Zenas Gurley taken in Richmond, Missouri in 1885 as part of the Gurley Collection in the LDS archives. An image of the typescript is not available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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Letter from Edward Stevenson to Apostle Franklin D. Richards, February 12, 1886
Edward Stevenson Letter
Edward Stevenson
12 Feb, 1886
   I enquired of David and young David; also of Philander A. Page, aged fifty-four, son of Hiram Page, one of the eight witnesses; also John, in whose hands the records are; all (and separately) who say that they do not have any knowledge of, neither do the records show, concerning Peter, James, and John's coming to the Prophet Joseph. On this and also on John the Baptist's mission, they seem, all of them, very ignorant. David said the Prophet of God received the command from God, and that [that] was sufficient authority. He did not seem to understand the necessity of the connecting link of ordinations.
(Note:  This letter is on file in the Church Historian's Office, Salt Lake City, and is cited in "Stevenson family history," 1955, by Joseph Grant Stevenson, pgs 177-78, which can be read here. No images of the original letter are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

   In no place in the word of God does it say that an Elder is after the order of Melchisedec, or after the order of the Melchisedec Priesthood. An Elder is after the order of Christ. This matter of “priesthood,” since the days of Sydney Rigdon, has been the great hobby and stumbling-block of the Latter Day Saints. Priesthood means authority; and authority is the word we should use. I do not think the word priesthood is mentioned in the New Covenant of the Book of Mormon. Authority is the word we used for the first two years in the church—until Sydney Rigdon's days in Ohio. This matter of the two orders of priesthood in the Church of Christ, and lineal priesthood of the old law being in the church, all originated in the mind of Sydney Rigdon. He explained these things to Brother Joseph in his way, out of the old Scriptures, and got Brother Joseph to inquire, etc. He would inquire, and as mouthpiece speak out the revelations just as they had it fixed up in their hearts. As I have said before, according to the desires of the heart, the inspiration comes, but it may be the spirit of man that gives it. How easily a man can receive some other spirit, appearing as an Angel of Light, believing at the time that he is giving the revealed will of God; a doubt never entering his mind but what he is doing God's will.  Of course I believe that Brother Joseph gave every revelation - including the one on polygamy - in all good conscience before God. This is the way the High Priests and the “priesthood” as you have it, was introduced into the Church of Christ almost two years after its beginning—and after we had baptized and confirmed about two thousand souls into the church.
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An Address To All Believers in Christ, 1887, pg 64
Address to All Believers in Christ
David Whitmer
1887
   In no place in the word of God does it say that an Elder is after the order of Melchisedec, or after the order of the Melchisedec Priesthood. An Elder is after the order of Christ. This matter of “priesthood,” since the days of Sydney Rigdon, has been the great hobby and stumbling-block of the Latter Day Saints. Priesthood means authority; and authority is the word we should use. I do not think the word priesthood is mentioned in the New Covenant of the Book of Mormon. Authority is the word we used for the first two years in the church—until Sydney Rigdon's days in Ohio. This matter of the two orders of priesthood in the Church of Christ, and lineal priesthood of the old law being in the church, all originated in the mind of Sydney Rigdon. He explained these things to Brother Joseph in his way, out of the old Scriptures, and got Brother Joseph to inquire, etc. He would inquire, and as mouthpiece speak out the revelations just as they had it fixed up in their hearts. As I have said before, according to the desires of the heart, the inspiration comes, but it may be the spirit of man that gives it. How easily a man can receive some other spirit, appearing as an Angel of Light, believing at the time that he is giving the revealed will of God; a doubt never entering his mind but what he is doing God's will. Of course I believe that Brother Joseph gave every revelation - including the one on polygamy - in all good conscience before God. This is the way the High Priests and the “priesthood” as you have it, was introduced into the Church of Christ almost two years after its beginning—and after we had baptized and confirmed about two thousand souls into the church.

   I am well aware that the history of Joseph does say he was ordained to the Aaronic priesthood by John the Baptist; I don't believe it. Don't startle! I'll tell you why. No angel or spirit ever ordained a man to any office since the world began! Search the Bible and Book of Mormon. I heard Joseph tell his experience of his ordination and the organization of the church, probably, more than twenty times, to persons who, near the rise of the church, wished to know and hear about it. I never heard of Moroni, John, or Peter, James and John. It was after he fell from God that these things were put in, in order to sustain the falsehood of these two priesthoods. I do not say but angels conversed with him, and gave him much instruction how to proceed. But that they ever ordained him I deny. His history was gotten up after he fell from God!
Full Source
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The Church Rejected! The Saints' Herald, Vol 17, Pg 556
William E. McLellin letter to Davis Bays
William E. McLellin
24 May, 1870
   I am well aware that the history of Joseph does say he was ordained to the Aaronic priesthood by John the Baptist; I don't believe it. Don't startle! I'll tell you why. No angel or spirit ever ordained a man to any office since the world began! Search the Bible and Book of Mormon. I heard Joseph tell his experience of his ordination and the organization of the church, probably, more than twenty times, to persons who, near the rise of the church, wished to know and hear about it. I never heard of Moroni, John, or Peter, James and John. It was after he fell from God that these things were put in, in order to sustain the falsehood of these two priesthoods. I do not say but angels conversed with him, and gave him much instruction how to proceed. But that they ever ordained him I deny. His history was gotten up after he fell from God!

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William E. McLellin to Joseph Smith III, July 1872, RLDS church archives, Independence, Missouri
William E. McLellin letter to Joseph Smith III
William E. McLellin
July, 1872
   But as to the story of John, the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver on the day they were baptized; I never heard of it in the church for years, altho I carefully noticed things that were said. And today I do not believe the story.
(Note:  No images of this letter are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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J. L. Traughber Collection, 1446/2, Manuscripts Division, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City
William E. McLellin Letter to J. L. Traughber
William E. McLellin
25 Aug, 1877
   I joined the church in 1831. For years I never heard of John the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver. I heard not of James, Peter, and John doing so. These things were gotten up in after years in order to sustain them in their false priesthoods.
(Note:  No images of this manuscript are available. Please contact me if you have any information regarding it.)

   The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days being one Thousand eight Hundred & thirty years since the coming of our Lord & Saveiour Jesus Christ in the flesh it being regularly organized & established agreeable to the Laws of our Country by the will & commandments of God in the fourth Month & on the Sixth day of the Month which is called April. Commandments were given to Joseph the seer who was called of God & ordained an Apostle of Jesus Christ an Elder of the Church & also to Oliver who was also called of God & ordained an Apostle of Jesus Christ an Elders of the Church & ordained under his hand & this according to the grace of our Lord & saveiour Jesus Christ to whom be all glory both now and forever amen
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelation Book 1, pg 53
Ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery
Joseph Smith Jr.
1830-1831
   The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days being one Thousand eight Hundred & thirty years since the coming of our Lord & Saveiour Jesus Christ in the flesh it being regularly organized & established agreeable to the Laws of our Country by the will & commandments of God in the fourth Month & on the Sixth day of the Month which is called April. Commandments were given to Joseph the seer who was called of God & ordained an Apostle of Jesus Christ an Elder of the Church & also to Oliver who was also called of God & ordained an Apostle of Jesus Christ an Elders of the Church & ordained under his hand & this according to the grace of our Lord & saveiour Jesus Christ to whom be all glory both now and forever amen

   6 Wherefore as thou hast been baptized by the hand of my servant, according to that which I have commanded him:<br>
   7 Wherefore he hath fulfilled the thing which I commanded him.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Book of Commandments, 1833, pg 35
Baptism of Oliver Cowdery
Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery
1833
   6 Wherefore as thou hast been baptized by the hand of my servant, according to that which I have commanded him:
   7 Wherefore he hath fulfilled the thing which I commanded him.
(Note:  A handwritten copy is purported to be extant. Please contact me if you have any information regarding this source.)

   The council was organized, and opened by bro. Joseph Smith Jun in prayer. Bro. Joseph then rose and said: I shall now endeavour to set forth before this council, the dignity of the office which has been conferred upon me by the ministring of the Angel of God, by his own voice and by the voice of this church.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Minute Book 1, pg 27
Council Meeting of Feb, 1834
Minute Book 1
12 Feb, 1834
   The council was organized, and opened by bro. Joseph Smith Jun in prayer. Bro. Joseph then rose and said: I shall now endeavour to set forth before this council, the dignity of the office which has been conferred upon me by the ministring of the Angel of God, by his own voice and by the voice of this church.

   After writing the account given of the Savior’s ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent, it was easy to be seen, as the prophet said it would be, that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people. On reflecting further it was as easy to be seen that amid the great strife and noise concerning religion, none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the Gospel. For the question might be asked, have men authority to administer in the name of Christ, who deny revelations, when His testimony is no less than the spirit of prophecy, and His religion based, built, and sustained by immediate revelations, in all ages of the world when He has had a people on earth? If these facts were buried, and carefully concealed by men whose craft would have been in danger if once permitted to shine in the faces of men, they were no longer to us; and we only waited for the commandment to be given Arise and be baptized.<br>
   This was not long desired before it was realized. The Lord, who is rich in mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon Him in a fervent manner, aside from the abodes of men, condescended to manifest to us His will. On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the veil was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance. What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world was racked and distracted—while millions were groping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld, our ears heard, as in the blaze of day; yes, more—above the glitter of the May sunbeam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, I am thy fellow-servant, dispelled every fear. We listened, we gazed, we admired! ’Twas the voice of an angel from glory, ’twas a message from the Most High! And as we heard we rejoiced, while His love enkindled upon our souls, and we were wrapped in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? Nowhere; uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!<br>
   But, dear brother, think, further think for a moment, what joy filled our hearts, and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hand the Holy Priesthood as he said, Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!
Full Source
External Link
Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, Vol 1, No 1, pgs 15-16
Oliver Cowdery in the Messenger and Advocate
Oliver Cowdery
October, 1834
   After writing the account given of the Savior’s ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent, it was easy to be seen, as the prophet said it would be, that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people. On reflecting further it was as easy to be seen that amid the great strife and noise concerning religion, none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the Gospel. For the question might be asked, have men authority to administer in the name of Christ, who deny revelations, when His testimony is no less than the spirit of prophecy, and His religion based, built, and sustained by immediate revelations, in all ages of the world when He has had a people on earth? If these facts were buried, and carefully concealed by men whose craft would have been in danger if once permitted to shine in the faces of men, they were no longer to us; and we only waited for the commandment to be given "Arise and be baptized."
   This was not long desired before it was realized. The Lord, who is rich in mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon Him in a fervent manner, aside from the abodes of men, condescended to manifest to us His will. On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the veil was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance. What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world was racked and distracted—while millions were groping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld, our ears heard, as in the "blaze of day"; yes, more—above the glitter of the May sunbeam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, "I am thy fellow-servant," dispelled every fear. We listened, we gazed, we admired! ’Twas the voice of an angel from glory, ’twas a message from the Most High! And as we heard we rejoiced, while His love enkindled upon our souls, and we were wrapped in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? Nowhere; uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!
   But, dear brother, think, further think for a moment, what joy filled our hearts, and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hand the Holy Priesthood as he said, "Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!"

   He was ministered unto by the angel, and by his direction he obtained the records of the Nephites, and translated by the gift and power of God. He was ordained by the angel John, unto the lesser or Aaronic priesthood, in company with myself, in the town of Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, on Friday, the 15th day of May, 1829; after which we repaired to the water, even to the Susquehanna River, and were baptized; he first administering unto me, and after, I to him. But before baptism our souls were drawn out in mighty prayer, to know how we might obtain the blessings of baptism and of the Holy Spirit according to the order of God; and we diligently sought for the right of the fathers, and the authority of the holy priesthood, and the power to administer the same; for we desired to be followers of righteousness, and in the possession of greater knowledge, even the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God.<br>
   Therefore we repaired to the woods, even as our father Joseph said we should, that is, to the bush, and called upon the name of the Lord, and he answered us out of the heavens. And while we were in the heavenly vision, the angel came down an bestowed upon us this priesthood; and then, as I have said, we repaired to the water and were baptized. After this, we received the high and holy priesthood; but an account of this will be given elsewhere, or in another place.
Full Source
External Link
The Improvement Era, 1904, Vol 7, Pg 942
Oliver Cowdery Statement
Oliver Cowdery
September, 1835
   He was ministered unto by the angel, and by his direction he obtained the records of the Nephites, and translated by the gift and power of God. He was ordained by the angel John, unto the lesser or Aaronic priesthood, in company with myself, in the town of Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, on Friday, the 15th day of May, 1829; after which we repaired to the water, even to the Susquehanna River, and were baptized; he first administering unto me, and after, I to him. But before baptism our souls were drawn out in mighty prayer, to know how we might obtain the blessings of baptism and of the Holy Spirit according to the order of God; and we diligently sought for the right of the fathers, and the authority of the holy priesthood, and the power to administer the same; for we desired to be followers of righteousness, and in the possession of greater knowledge, even the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God.
   Therefore we repaired to the woods, even as our father Joseph said we should, that is, to the bush, and called upon the name of the Lord, and he answered us out of the heavens. And while we were in the heavenly vision, the angel came down an bestowed upon us this priesthood; and then, as I have said, we repaired to the water and were baptized. After this, we received the high and holy priesthood; but an account of this will be given elsewhere, or in another place.

   2 And for this cause the Lord said unto Peter, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?  For he desiredst of me that he might bring souls unto me; but thou desiredst that thou might speedily come unto me in my kingdom.  I say unto thee, Peter, this was a good desire, but my beloved has desired that he might do more, or a greater work, yet among men than what he has before done; yea, he has undertaken a greater work; therefore, I will make him as flaming fire and a ministering angel: he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth; and I will make thee to minister for him and for thy brother James: and unto you three I will give this power and the keys of this ministry until I come.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Doctrine and Covenants, 1835, pg 161
Revelation on John the Beloved
Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery
1835
   2 And for this cause the Lord said unto Peter, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? For he desiredst of me that he might bring souls unto me; but thou desiredst that thou might speedily come unto me in my kingdom. I say unto thee, Peter, this was a good desire, but my beloved has desired that he might do more, or a greater work, yet among men than what he has before done; yea, he has undertaken a greater work; therefore, I will make him as flaming fire and a ministering angel: he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth; and I will make thee to minister for him and for thy brother James: and unto you three I will give this power and the keys of this ministry until I come.
(Note:  The second half of this verse was not present in the original 1829 revelation or the copy in the 1833 Book of Commandments.)

   and also John the son of Zacharias, which Zacharias he (Elias) visited and gave promise that he should have a son, and his name should be John, and he should be filled with the spirit of Elias; which John I have sent unto you, my servants, Joseph Smith, jr. and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto this first priesthood which you have received, that you might be called and ordained even as Aaron:<br>
...<br>
   And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry: and of the same things which I revealed unto them, unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times: and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things both which are in heaven and which are on earth:
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Doctrine and Covenants, 1835, pg 180
Revelation in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants
Joseph Smith Jr.
1835
   and also John the son of Zacharias, which Zacharias he (Elias) visited and gave promise that he should have a son, and his name should be John, and he should be filled with the spirit of Elias; which John I have sent unto you, my servants, Joseph Smith, jr. and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto this first priesthood which you have received, that you might be called and ordained even as Aaron:
...
   And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry: and of the same things which I revealed unto them, unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times: and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things both which are in heaven and which are on earth:
(Note:  This text does not appear in the original Aug 1830 revelation, the March 1833 issue of "The Evening and the Morning Star," or the copy of the revelation in the 1833 Book of Commandments. It does appear in the May 1836 issue of "The Evening and the Morning Star.")

   We still continued the translation, when in the ensuing month (May, Eighteen hundred and twenty nine) we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting  baptism for the remission of sins as we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed praying and calling upon the Lord, a Messenger from heaven, descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying unto us; Upon you my fellow servants in the name of Messiah I confer the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministring of angels and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and this shall never be taken again from the earth, untill the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. He said this Aaronic priesthood had not the power of laying on of hands, for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and afterward that he should baptize me. and that I should be called the first elder of the Church and he the second.<br>
   Accordingly we went and were baptized, I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me, after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronick priesthood, and afterward he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same priesthood, for so we were commanded.<br>
   The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this priesthood upon us  said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the new Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of the priesthood of Melchisedeck, whih priesthood he said should in due time  be conferred on us. And that I should be called the first Elder of the Church and  he the second.<br>
   It was on the fifteenth day of May, Eighteen hundred and twenty nine that we were baptized; under and ordained under the hand of that Messenger.<br>
   Immediately upon our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father.<br>
   No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery than the Holy Ghost fell upon him and he stood up and prophecied many things which should shortly come to pass: And again so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the Spirit of Prophecy, when standing up I prophecied concerning the rise of this church, and many other things connected with the Church and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our Salvation.<br>
   Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the Scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us, in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of our having been baptized, and having received this priesthood; owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood. We had been threatened with being mobbed, from time to time, and this too by professors of religion, and their intentions of mobbing us, were only counteracted by the influence of my wife’s father’s family (under Divine Providence) who had became very friendly to me and were opposed to mobs; and were willing that I should be allowed to continue the work of translation without interruption: And therefore offered and promised us protection from all unlawful proceedings as far as in them lay.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], pgs 17-18
Canonized Account
Joseph Smith Jr.
1838
   We still continued the translation, when in the ensuing month (May, Eighteen hundred and twenty nine) we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins as we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed praying and calling upon the Lord, a Messenger from heaven, descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying unto us; "Upon you my fellow servants in the name of Messiah I confer the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministring of angels and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and this shall never be taken again from the earth, untill the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness." He said this Aaronic priesthood had not the power of laying on of hands, for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and afterward that he should baptize me. and that I should be called the first elder of the Church and he the second.
   Accordingly we went and were baptized, I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me, after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronick priesthood, and afterward he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same priesthood, for so we were commanded.
   The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this priesthood upon us said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the new Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of the priesthood of Melchisedeck, whih priesthood he said should in due time be conferred on us. And that I should be called the first Elder of the Church and he the second.
   It was on the fifteenth day of May, Eighteen hundred and twenty nine that we were baptized; under and ordained under the hand of that Messenger.
   Immediately upon our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father.
   No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery than the Holy Ghost fell upon him and he stood up and prophecied many things which should shortly come to pass: And again so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the Spirit of Prophecy, when standing up I prophecied concerning the rise of this church, and many other things connected with the Church and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our Salvation.
   Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the Scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us, in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of our having been baptized, and having received this priesthood; owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood. We had been threatened with being mobbed, from time to time, and this too by professors of religion, and their intentions of mobbing us, were only counteracted by the influence of my wife’s father’s family (under Divine Providence) who had became very friendly to me and were opposed to mobs; and were willing that I should be allowed to continue the work of translation without interruption: And therefore offered and promised us protection from all unlawful proceedings as far as in them lay.

   I have cherished a hope, and that one of my fondest, that I might leave such a character, as those who might believe in my testimony, after I should be called hence, might do so, not only for the sake of the truth, but might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony. I have been sensitive on this subject, I admit; but I ought to be so—you would be, under the circumstances, had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed Brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater, and looked down through time, and witnessed the effects these two must produce,—you would feel what you have never felt, were wicked men conspiring to lessen the effects of your testimony on man, after you should have gone to your long sought rest.
External Link
Oliver Cowdery to Phineas Young, 23 March 1846
Oliver Cowdery Letter to Phineas Young
Oliver Cowdery
23 Mar, 1846
   I have cherished a hope, and that one of my fondest, that I might leave such a character, as those who might believe in my testimony, after I should be called hence, might do so, not only for the sake of the truth, but might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony. I have been sensitive on this subject, I admit; but I ought to be so—you would be, under the circumstances, had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed Brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater, and looked down through time, and witnessed the effects these two must produce,—you would feel what you have never felt, were wicked men conspiring to lessen the effects of your testimony on man, after you should have gone to your long sought rest.

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External Link
Letter of Hiram Page to William E. McLellin March 4, 1848, RLDS Archives, Independence, Missouri
Hiram Page Letter to William E McLellin
Hiram Page
4 Mar, 1848
   in the beginning we find the first ordinations were by Peter James and John they ordained Joseph and Oliver; to what priesthood were they ordained; the answer must be to the Holy priesthood or the office of an elder or an apostle which is an additional grace added to the office of an elder these offices Oliver received from those holy messengers before the 6th of April 1830;
(Note:  No image of the original letter is available online. Please contact me if you have any information regarding this source.)

   The holy Priesthood is here. I was present with Joseph when an holy angel from God came down from heaven and conferred on us or restored the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood, and said to us, at the same time, that it should remain upon the earth while the earth stands. I was also present with Joseph when the higher or Melchisedek Priesthood was conferred by the holy angel from on high. This Priesthood was then conferred on each other, by the will and commandment of God. This Priesthood, as was then declared, is also to remain upon the earth until the last remnant of time. This holy Priesthood or authority we then conferred upon many, and is just as good and valid as though God had done it in person.
External Link
Reuben Miller Journal, Oct. 21, 1848, Church History Library, pgs 17-18
Oliver Cowdery according to Reuben Miller journal
Reuben Miller
21 Oct, 1848
   The holy Priesthood is here. I was present with Joseph when an holy angel from God came down from heaven and conferred on us or restored the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood, and said to us, at the same time, that it should remain upon the earth while the earth stands. I was also present with Joseph when the higher or Melchisedek Priesthood was conferred by the holy angel from on high. This Priesthood was then conferred on each other, by the will and commandment of God. This Priesthood, as was then declared, is also to remain upon the earth until the last remnant of time. This holy Priesthood or authority we then conferred upon many, and is just as good and valid as though God had done it in person.

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