Bruce R. McConkie
My brethren of the priesthood: To all of you, to all holders of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, I issue this challenge: Come, learn the doctrine of the priesthood; come, live as befits one who is a servant of the Lord.
This doctrine, this doctrine of the priesthood—unknown in the world and but little known even in the Church—cannot be learned out of the scriptures alone. It is not set forth in the sermons and teachings of the prophets and Apostles, except in small measure.
The doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation. It comes, line upon line and precept upon precept, by the power of the Holy Ghost to those who love and serve God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. (See D&C 98:12.)
We have the revealed promise that if our souls are ‘full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith’ and if we ‘let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly; then shall [our] confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven’ (D&C 121:45). (“The Doctrine of the Priesthood,” General Conference, April 1982).
Now we are sometimes fond, that is, some of us are, of talking about our authority. It is a thing I care very little about. I tell you what I want to do if I can. I want to know the will of God so that I may do it; and I do not want to dictate or domineer or exercise arbitrary control. Then again, all men ought to be under proper control to the Presidency and Priesthood presiding over them. If I were a Bishop I should want to know what the President of my Stake desired, and I should confer with him: and if there was anything in which Bishop Hunter [the Presiding Bishop at the time] was interested, I should want to know his mind (Journal of Discourses, volume 21, 8 August 1880).
We have here our Relief Societies, and they have done a good work. And people are desirous to know something of these organizations. I was in Nauvoo at the time the Relief Society was organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and I was present on the occasion. At a late meeting of the Society held in Salt Lake City I was present, and I read from a record called the Book of the Law of the Lord, the minutes of that meeting. At that meeting the Prophet called Sister Emma to be an elect lady. That means that she was called to a certain work; and that was in fulfilment of a certain revelation concerning her. She was elected to preside over the Relief Society, and she was ordained to expound the Scriptures. In compliance with Brother Joseph’s request I set her apart, and also ordained Sister Whitney, wife of Bishop Newel K. Whitney, and Sister Cleveland, wife of Judge Cleveland, to be her counselors. Some of the sisters have thought that these sisters mentioned were, in this ordination, ordained to the priesthood. And for the information of all interested in this subject I will say, it is not the calling of these sisters to hold the Priesthood, only in connection with their husbands, they being one with their husbands. Sister Emma was elected to expound the Scriptures, and to preside over the Relief Society; then Sisters Whitney and Cleveland were ordained to the same office, and I think Sister Eliza R. Snow to be secretary. A short time ago I attended a meeting in Salt Lake City, where Sister Snow and Sister Whitney were set apart. I happened to be the only member of the Twelve in town at the time, the other members of the Quorum being unavoidably absent. I went to this meeting and set apart Sister Whitney and Sister Snow who were two of those I set apart some forty years ago, in Nauvoo. And after I had done so, they reminded me of the coincidence. At this meeting, however, Sister Snow was set apart to preside over the Relief Societies in the land of Zion, and Sister Whitney her counselor, with Sister Zina D. Young, her other counselor. I speak of this for the information of the Sisters, although I presume they may have read of it in their paper, the Exponent (Journal of Discourses, volume 21, 8 August 1880).
Heber C. Kimball
In each of these rooms [in the Kirtland temple] were built two pulpits, one in each end. Each pulpit consisted of four different apartments; the fourth standing on a platform raised a suitable height above the floor; the third stood directly behind and elevated a little above the fourth; the second in rear of and elevated above the third; and in like manner the first above the second. Each of these apartments was just large enough and rightly calculated to seat three persons, and the breastwork in front of each of these three last mentioned was constituted of three semi-circles joining each other, and finished in good style. The fourth or lower one, was straight in front, and had an elegant table leaf attached to it, that could be raised at pleasure for the convenience of administering the sacrament, etc. These pulpits were alike in each end of the house. One was for the use of the Melchizedek or High Priesthood, and the other for the Aaronic or lesser Priesthood. The first or highest apartment was occupied by the First Presidency over the whole Church; the second apartment by the Melchizedek High Priesthood; the third by the President of the High Priests’ Quorum; and the fourth by the President of the Elders and his two counselors. The highest apartment of the other pulpit was occupied by the Bishop of the Church and his two counselors; the next by the President of the Priests and his two counselors; the third by the President of the Teachers and his two counselors; and the fourth by the President of the Deacons and his two counselors. (Heber Kimball Autobiography, Journal excerpts, p.88 – p.89)
Joseph Fielding Smith
Now, brethren, I think there is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord.
An individual may fall by the wayside, or have views, or give counsel which falls short of what the Lord intends. But the voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be. (April 1972 General Conference.)