[Joseph Smith said] I shall now endeavor to set forth before this council, the dignity of the office which has been conferred upon me by the ministering of the Angel of God, by His own will and by the voice of this Church. I have never set before any council in all the order in which a council ought to be conducted, which, perhaps, has deprived the council of some, or many blessings.
¶ He said that no man was capable of judging a matter in council without his own heart was pure, and that we frequently are so filled with prejudice, or have a beam in our own eye, that we are not capable of passing right decissions, &c.
¶ But to return to the subject of the order. In ancient days councils were conducted with such strict propriety, that no one was allowed to whisper, be weary, leave the room, or get uneasy in the least, until the voice of the Lord, by revelation, or by the voice of the council by the spirit was obtained: which has not been observed in this Church to the present. It was understood in ancient days, that if one man could stay in council, another could, and if the president could spend his time, the members could also. But in our councils, generally, one would be uneasy, another asleep, one praying, another not; one's mind on the business of the council and another thinking on something else &c. 1
Our acts are recorded, and at a furture day they will be laid before us, and if we should fail to judge right and injure our fellow beings, thay may there perhaps condemn us; then they are of great consequence: and to me the consequence appears to be of force beyond anything which I am able to express &c. Ask yourselves, brethren, how much you have exercised yourselves in prayer since you heard of this council; and if you are now prepared to sit in judgment upon the soul of your brother.
- Bro Joseph then went on to give us a relation of his situation at the time he obtained the record, the persecution he met with &c. He also told us of his transgression at the time he was translating the Book of Mormon.2 He also prophesied that he should stand and shine like the sun in the firmament when his enemies and the gainsayers of his testimony should be put down and cut off and their names blotted out from among men.
1. Church business conducted by councils evolved over time from meetings of Church elders or course-like groups of high priests to the "high council" system shortly to be introduced and later to general councils like the First Presidency, Twelve Apostles and others. The modern LDS view of Church councils is suggested by M. Russell Ballard, "Strength in Counsel," Ensign Magazine, November 1993, 76.
2. Undoubtedly a reference to the loss of the 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon translation. See HC 1:21.