1844 September 8 Remarks at the Trial of Sidney Rigdon


1844 September 8 Remarks at the Trial of Sidney Rigdon



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At the trial of Sidney Rigdon (first address)

I will call the attention of the congregation to the subject which is designed to be laid before you to-day. But I will first make a request that the police will attend to the instructions given them by the Mayor this morning, and that is, to see that there is perfect order on the outside of the congregation. We are not afraid of disturbance here, but there is generally some disposed to talk on the outside, which prevents those from hearing who are near them, and we wish all to hear what is said from the stand.
I have frequently thought lately of Paul's words when he said "much every way," "some for Paul, some for Appollos, some for Cephus and some for Christ;" and I believe there are a great many here for Christ. I will make the application of Paul's words to us: "Much every way," Some for Joseph and Hyrum, the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, the Temple and Joseph's measures; and some for Lyman Wight, some for James Emmett and some for Sidney Rigdon, and I suppose some for the Twelve.
The business of the day will result in this thing: all those who are for Joseph and Hyrum, the Book of Mormon, book of Doctrine and Covenants, the Temple and Joseph's measures, and for the Twelve; they being one party; will be called upon to manifest their principles openly and boldly. Then we wish all who are of the opposite parties to enjoy the same liberty, and to be as decided and bold, and to show their principles as boldly, and be as decided as they are in their secret meetings and private councils. If they are for Sidney Rigdon; and believe he is the man to be the first president and the leader of this people, we wish them to manifest it as freely as they do in other places; because this will form another party.
We want all those who are for Lyman Wight and his measures, to show themselves openly and boldly; and all those for James Emmett and his measures, to show themselves.-- We wish them to withdraw to day without fear and to be as bold here as they are in other places. They may as well show themselves boldly, for I know where they live, and I know their names: I can point them out if necessary. Those who wish to tarry and build up the city and build the Temple, and carry out the measures and revelations of our martyred prophet, we wish to know who they are. Now all those who decline going either way, but secretly slander the character of Joseph Smith and the Twelve, my fellowship will be withdrawn from them without any further ceremony. If there are not more than ten men who hang on to the truth, and to Joseph and the Temple, and are willing to do right in all things, let me be one of that number. If there should be but ten left, and their lives should be threatened; threatened with destruction by mobs, the Temple not be built, &c., because they are determined to do right, let me be one that is martyred for the truth. I have travelled these many years in the midst of poverty and tribulation, and that too with blood in my shoes, month after month, to sustain and to preach this gospel and build up this kingdom; and God forbid that I should now turn round and seek to destroy that which I have been laboring to build up.
It is written in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, that the president can be tried before a bishop and twelve high priests, or the high council of the church. There are many present this morning who were present at the organization of that quorum in Kirtland. We have here before us this morning, the high council, and bishop Whitney at their head, and we will try Sidney Rigdon before this council and let them take an action on his case this morning; and then we will present it to the church, and let the church also take an action upon it. I am willing that you should know that my feelings for Sidney Rigdon as a man, as a private citizen, are of the best kind. I have loved that man and always had the very best feelings for him; I have stood in defence of his life and his house in Kirtland, and have lain on the floor, night after night, and week after week, to defend him. There are those who are following Sidney for whom my heart is grieved, I esteem them as good citizens. But when it touches the salvation of the people, I am the man that walks to the line.
I am informed that elder Rigdon is sick; I am also informed that he and his party have had a council this morning, and have concluded not to say any thing in their own defence, thinking that would be best for them. I have no idea that elder Rigdon is any more sick than I am: any how, we have a right to try his case, for he had sufficient notice to prepare himself if he had been disposed. We gave him notice last Tuesday evening, and had it published in the Neighbor, and was he sick he could have sent us word to have the case deferred. I heard elder Rigdon's discourse last Sunday, myself; I heard him pour blessings upon this people in an unbounded degree; I heard him encourage the building up of this city and the Temple; he said he was one with us, and left his blessing upon the congregation. The congregation says to him: "go in peace." I said upon the back of his statements, you see that brother Rigdon is with us. I have not seen that brother Rigdon has been with us since he returned from Pittsburgh; I have known that he was not with us in spirit, but I took him at his word. The spirit reveals many things which it would not do to tell the public, until it can be proved. But to come to the point. On Tuesday last, I heard that elder Rigdon had a meeting the night previous, and had ordained men to be prophets, priests and kings. I concluded to go and see elder Rigdon, and asked elder Hyde to go with me. We went into his house, and after the usual compliments, I set down directly opposite him, and took hold of his hand. I looked him right in the face and asked him if he had a meeting last night, here, in which men were ordained to be prophets, priests and kings? He replied no, we had no meeting here; had we brother Soby?
"Well, did you have a meeting any where, brother Rigdon, in which men were ordained to be prophets, priests and kings?"
"Well, I don't know; did we have a meeting last night, brother Soby? Yes, I believe there was one last night; wasn't (sic) there brother Soby, up at your house?"
I saw the disposition of elder Rigdon to conceal the truth and equivocate, and I determined to know the whole secret. I said to him again, "Elder Rigdon, did you not ordain these men at that meeting last night?"
He replied, "yes, I suppose I did."
I then asked brother Rigdon, by what authority he ordained prophets, priests and kings? With a very significant air he replied "oh, I know all about that!" I will not attempt to describe the feelings I had, nor the look of his countenance, but he equivocated very much. He said there was no meeting here last night, and then finally said, I believe there was a meeting at brother Soby's. I questioned him till he acknowledged that they ordained men to be prophets, priests and kings.
I then asked brother Rigdon; "do you not think, really, that you hold keys and authority above any man, or set of men in this church, even the Twelve?"
Says he, "I never taught any such doctrine, did I, brother Soby?"
Says I, "brother Rigdon, tell me the truth, do you not think so?"
He replied, "Yes I do."
Says I, "that tells the whole story. Brother Joseph never undertook such important business as you are engaged in, without consulting his brethren, and especially the Twelve, if they were present." I felt delicate in asking elder Rigdon these questions, but I knew it was my duty to find out the secret of the whole matter. To evade answering the questions put to him, he finally said don't crowd upon my feelings too much; my feelings are tender, and I don't wish to be crowded. I then proposed to him, that myself and the brethren of the Twelve would call in the evening and converse with him further on the subject, to which he agreed. In the evening eight of the Twelve together with bishop Whitney, went to elder Rigdon's and conversed a-while; and finding matters as before stated, we concluded we would go over to Dr. Richards' and there council together what was best to do on the subject. In our council we deemed it necessary to demand his license, and say to him he could not hold it any longer, unless he retracted from his present course and repent of his wickedness. A committee of three was chosen, who went over and demanded his license, but he refused to give it up, at the same time saying, "I did not receive it from you, neither shall I give it up to you." On the strength of this, we published a notice in the Neighbor that there would be an action on his case before the church to-day.
We have now the quorum before us, before which he will be tried, with the oldest bishop at their head; and I shall leave the subject for the brethren to take it up, and it is left for us to decide whether we are Latter Day Saints or not.
President Young said further that the Twelve are to be regarded as witnesses in this trial, and not judges. We present ourselves before the High Council as witnesses, and we are prepared to bring other testimony forward if necessary. There may be some who will say that this is not a fair trial, because the opposite party are not here. They have had sufficient notice and time to make their objections, and if they don't appear to make their defence it will prove to me that they are guilty. Elder Rigdon has not conducted himself like a man of God, he has not conducted like a prophet of God, nor a counsellor to the first president, since he came here. We prefer these charges against him, and the High Council will be obliged to act.
At the trial of Sidney Rigdon (second address)

President Young arose again and said he wanted to read some testimony which had been presented to him relative to this case, but did not wish to mention the names of the individuals at the present time, if it could be dispensed with. He continued: honest men may be deceived for a time, but they will generally see their error and turn about. There are some who are trolling off and wanting to make divisions amongst us. Brother Sidney says, "if we go to opposing him he will tell all of our secrets!" but I would say, oh don't, Brother Sidney! don't tell our secrets, oh don't! But if he tells of our secrets, we will tell of his--tit for tat. He has had long visions in Pittsburgh revealing to him wonderful iniquity amongst the saints. Now, if he knows of so much iniquity, and has got such wonderful power, why don't he purge it out? He professes to have got "the keys of David." Wonderful power, and revelations, and he will publish our iniquity! Oh dear, Brother Sidney, don't publish our iniquity! Now don't! John C. Bennett said in his exposure, he knew all of Brother Joseph's secrets, and he would publish them. Joseph H. Jackson, says he has published all Joseph's secrets, but nobody believes their tales, because they lie! and if Sidney Rigdon undertakes to publish all of our secrets, as he says, he will lie the first jump he takes. If Sidney Rigdon knew of all this iniquity why did he not publish it sooner? If there is so much iniquity in this church, as you talk of, Elder Rigdon, and you have known of it so long, you are a black hearted wretch because you have not published it sooner. If there is not this iniquity you talk of, you are a black hearted wretch, for endeavoring to bring a mob upon us and murder innocent men, women and children! Any man that says the Twelve are bogus makers, or adulterers, or wicked men, is a liar; and all who say such things shall have the fate of liars, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Who is there that has seen us do such things? No man. The spirit that I am of tramples such slanderous wickedness under my feet. And if they take my life I will go where they cannot hurt me.
Brother Joseph did cast of[f] Sidney, and his power and authority was taken from him, and put upon Amasa Lyman. We told Brother Sidney to come along with us, and if he will do this we will build him up. Let him do as Elder Amasa Lyman has done. Now we don't expect ever to move without revelation and they that have the keys of the kingdom can get revelation. If any thing would make me fight it would be to hear any one heap charges on Brother Joseph who is dead. They cannot let the dead alone so great is their corruption and wickedness.
Here is another secret leaked out of their secret meetings. They say the man of sin spoken of in the revelations, is the Twelve. A pretty large man I should say. Now this is the testimony we present before this council to know if we are to fellowship Elder Rigdon any longer.
I shall now wait and see if there is any one to produce testimony in favor of the opposite side of the question.
At the trial of Sidney Rigdon (third address)

President Young arose and replied -- I feel it a duty to make some remarks in reply to what Brother Marks has said with regard to Brother Rigdon's character. I have not been beyond the last fall conference to fetch evidence. - There was enough brought forward at the conference, and abundance more could have been presented, but Brother Hyrum plead so hard it was kept back. Brother Rigdon did enough when he came from Missouri, to cut him off from the priesthood. He said he never would follow Brother Joseph's revelations any more, contrary to his own convenience. He said Jesus Christ was a fool to him in sufferings; was this not enough to cut him off? There was enough to cut him off long ago, but Bro. Marks has endeavored to soft soap the people. I have known that Brother Marks "had no evidence but the written word;" But if this people have no evidence but the written word, it is quite time to go to the river and be baptized for the remission of their sins. Who cannot see that Elder Rigdon would sacrifice this people? Brother Marks says, if there are any ordained to offices equal with Elder Rigdon he don't know it. He don't know all the ordinations, nor he wont till he knows something more than the written word.
I know the reason why Brother Joseph said all was right between him and Elder Rigdon; he (Rigdon) was whining all the while because of his sufferings. He wanted to go back to Kirtland. Brother Hyrum went to Brother Joseph and plead with him again, and begged of Joseph to "bless him -- hold on to him, for I believe he will yet straighten out," and he finally got him ordained. But did he help Brother Joseph after this? No. There was then another revelation given for him to move his family near to Brother Joseph. He finally did, but did he then go to Brother Joseph and assist him in his councils? He did not.
If I had the same feelings towards this people that Elder Rigdon and some others have I should hope you would cast us off to-day. Elder Rigdon is now preaching secretly to the people, to have them go back to Pittsburgh -- go back to the "leeks and onions." He has prophesied in the name of God that we wont build this temple. As has been previously stated, Elder Rigdon was not in our councils before he went away. But, Brother Hyrum used to go and see him, and labor with him, and Sidney would make great promises, which would cause Hyrum to come and plead with Joseph again, and say, Brother Joseph bless him, he will come back &c. He is going contrary to Joseph's instructions, and he shall not lead the innocent to destruction; I say it in the name of Israel's God. His orders was to go to Pittsburgh and build up a kingdom, but he was positively prohibited from taking any one with him from this place, but, now he wants to divide the people and take them somewhere, to the mountains near Pittsburgh. Elder Rigdon can go to Carthage, and to Warsaw, and he is in no danger from the mob; but can a prophet of God go there with safety? No, he cannot. -- If I was to lay down my authority in this church, they would soon say, Mr. Young how do you do, I approve of your course. As to Elder Rigdon's revelations, they are from the same source as Oliver Olney's, Gladden Bishop, Mr. Strang's, &c. They are from the Devil. John C. Bennett passed up the river last Tuesday, and called at the upper landing. He sent a messenger to Elder Rigdon and wished to see him, and Elder Rigdon would have gone had not a Mr. Lawrence, (who professes no kind of religion) rebuked him. If you make Sidney Rigdon your president and leader, you will soon have John C. Bennett here, with the Laws and Fosters and all the murderous clan. Elder Rigdon was the prime cause of our troubles in Missouri, by his fourth of July oration. He is liable to be deceived, and has already been deceived. As to a person not knowing more than the written word, let me tell you that there are keys that the written word never spoke of, nor never will.
All I ask of men or women to do, is, if they believe in Sidney Rigdon and want him to lead them, I want they should be bold enough to go with him, and not say they want to tarry with the church. They say they believe in Joseph Smith, and at the same time all their operations are to destroy and tear down what he has built up.
Elder W. W. Phelps arose and offered a motion, that Elder Sidney Rigdon be cut off from the church, and delivered over to the buffetings of satan until he repents.
Bishop Whitney then presented the motion to the High Council, and the vote was unanimous in the affirmative.
Elder W. W. Phelps then offered the same motion to the church, upon which]

President Young arose and requested the congregation to place themselves so that they could see all who voted. We want to know who goes for Sidney and who are for the Twelve. He then called upon the church to signify whether they was in favor of the motion. The vote was unanimous, excepting a few of Elder Rigdon's party, numbering about ten.

Elder Phelps then motioned, that all who have voted to follow Elder Rigdon should be suspended until they can have a trial before the High Council.
An amendment was offered, as follows: "or shall hereafter be found advocating his principles."
The vote was unanimous in the affirmative.

Elder Young arose and delivered Sidney Rigdon over to the buffetings of Satan, in the name of the Lord, and all the people said, amen.