So shall it be with my father: he shall be
called a prince over his posterity, holding
the keys of the patriarchal priesthood over the kingdom of God on earth, even the Church
of the Latter Day Saints, and he shall sit in the general assembly of patriarchs, even in
council with the Ancient of Days when he shall sit and all the patriarchs with him and shall
enjoy his right and authority under the direction of the Ancient of Days.
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Article on William Smith, Patriarch

Times & Seasons article



JUNE 1, 1845.


Since the publication of the last Times and Seasons, we have frequently been interrogated about the meaning of some remarks made by Eld. Wm. Smith in an article headed patriarchal, and also concerning some expressions in the editorial connected therewith; and as the nature of the office of Patriarch, does not seem to be fully understood, we thought a little explanation on this point might not be amiss.

So far as the editorial is concerned it was written rather hastily by our junior editor, W. W. Phelps, and did not come under our notice until after it was published. There are some expressions contained in it, which might have been worded better and have rendered it less subject to criticism; but he assures us that no such intention was intended to be conveyed as that which is conceived by some. And concerning Brother Wm. Smith, we are better acquainted with him, and with his views, than to believe that he intended to convey any such idea as the one which some persons would put upon, or gather from his sayings.


 In regard to the office of Patriarch, William Smith has been ordained Patriarch to the church; but he is not the only Patriarch, but would act as a senior patriarch, holding the keys of that priesthood; and his labors would be more especially connected with the church in Zion; and he would take the lead, priority, or presidency of the Patriarchal office in this place; and in this capacity if there should be a council of Patriarchs, he as a matter of course would preside by right of office-But every legally ordained Patriarch has the same right to bless that he has, and their administrations are just as legal as his are. Every ordinance that is administered by a legal administrator, is legal. A priest has just as much right to baptize a person for the remission of sins as an elder, a high priest, or an apostle; but he cannot lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, because he does not posses the authority to do it; but an elder does, and an elder's administration would be just as legal as the administration of any of the before mentioned persons, or as that of the president of the church.

Every father, after he has received his patriarchal blessing, is a Patriarch to his own family; and has the right to confer patriarchal blessings upon his family; which blessing will be just as legal as those conferred by any Patriarch of the church: in fact it is his right; and a Patriarch in blessing his children, can only bless as his mouth-piece.

A Patriarch to the church is appointed to bless those who are orphans, or have no father in the church to bless them. Not as stated inadvertently, in the editorial above alluded to "to bless all, and such as have not a father to do it," for this he could not do, where the church is so extensive; the burden would be too onerous; hence other Patriarchs have been ordained, both in this country, an in England, to assist the Patriarch to the church, and hence the provision made in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants: "It is the duty of the Twelve, in all large branches of the church, to ordain evangelical ministers, Patriarchs as they shall be designated unto them by revelation." Page 104. And should any of those Patriarchs remove here, they have just as much right to administer in their patriarchal office under the direction of the patriarch to the church, as an elder or priest would, who should remove from one of the branches to this place, under the direction of the presidency. Brother Wm. Smith however, "holds the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people," and would of necessity have the seniority, and of course the priority and presidency; yet it would be left for those who wished to be administered to, to make their choice; just as much as it would for a candidate for baptism to choose who should administer to him.

The above is the true doctrine of the church in regard to this matter, and we speak of it for the information of the brethren at large, lest those who may have received their patriarchal blessing from other sources, or from their fathers, might be tempted to think they were of no avail, and also, to set at rest this agitated question.

We now proceed to answer some of the remarks which we have heard:

We have been asked, "Does not patriarch over the whole church" place Brother William Smith at the head of the whole church as president?

Ans. No. Brother William is not patriarch over the whole church; but patriarch TO the church, and as such he was ordained. The expression "over the whole church," is a mistake made by W. W. Phelps. He is patriarch TO the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Twelve are commanded to ordain evangelical ministers in all large branches of the church abroad, and who has charge over them, the patriarch? No. Those who ordained them, and to whom is committed the power and authority to regulate all the affairs of the churches abroad. And who has the charge of the whole priesthood here? Ans. The presidency of the church; and not the patriarch.

But does not the Book of Doctrine and Covenants say,

"First, I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a Patriarch unto you to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption, that ye may not fall."

Yes. But that is in regard to seniority not in regard to authority in priesthood, for it immediately follows, "I give unto you my servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church," In page 110, D. C. we read "the duty of president of the office of the high priesthood, is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses." And from this it is evident that the president of the church, not the patriarch, is appointed by God to preside.

But does not the Patriarch stand in the same relationship to the church, as Adam did to his family, and as Abraham and Jacob did to theirs? No. This is another mistake which is made by our junior, and one that may be very easily made inadvertently. Adam was the natural father of his posterity, who were his family and over whom he presided as patriarch, prophet, priest, and king. Both Abraham and Jacob stood in the same relationship to their families. But not so with Father Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, or William Smith. They were not the natural fathers of the church, and could not stand in the same capacity as Adam, Abraham, or Jacob; but inasmuch as there had been none to bless for generations past, according to the ancient order, they were ordained and set apart for the purpose of conferring patriarchal blessings, to hold the keys of this priesthood, and unlock the door, that had long been closed upon the human family: that blessings might again be conferred according to the ancient order, and those who were orphans, or had no father to bless them, might receive it through a patriarch who should act as proxy for their father, and that fathers might again be enabled to act as patriarchs to their families, and bless their children. For like all other ordinances in the church, this had been neglected; and must needs be restored. But Father Joseph Smith was not president of the church, nor the president's counsel. Nor was Hyrum Smith either president of president's counsel. He was once counsel but when he was ordained patriarch he gave it up and another was ordained in his stead, (Wm. Law) and in all probability if Br. William magnifies his calling he will not be able henceforth to attend to the duties of an apostle; but officiate in the same capacity in regard to blessing as his brother Hyrum did. Not as president of the church; but as patriarch to it.

The president of the church presides over all patriarchs, presidents, and councils of the church; and this presidency does not depend so much upon genealogy as upon calling, order, and seniority. James and Joses were the brothers of Jesus, and John was his beloved disciple, yet Peter held the keys and presided over all the church. Br. William was in the Quorum of the Twelve yet he was not president of the Twelve during his brother's lifetime, nor since; and if being ordained a patriarch would make him president of the church, it would have made Father Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith, presidents over the church instead of Joseph.

Br. William understands the matter, and were it not for the folly of some men there would be no necessity for these remarks.

A Patriarch is what is termed in scripture an evangelist, and Br. William acts in that capacity, and God placed in the church "first apostles," not first evangelists, but the president stands in the same relationship to the church as Moses did to the children of Israel, according to the revelations.

Again, who ordained Father Smith to the office of patriarch? His son Joseph: and Father Smith ordained Hyrum, and the Twelve (of whom Br. William is one) ordained him.-Who are appointed to ordain evangelical ministers? (See page 104 D. C.) Can a stream rise higher than its fountain? No. Says Paul, "verily the less is blessed of the better."

We think that every one will see that Br. William Smith's patriarchal office will not exalt him higher in regard to priesthood than he was before, as one of the Twelve; but will rather change the nature of his office.

But will it take any thing from his priesthood? it may be asked. No. You cannot take any man's priesthood away without transgression. Br. William will still retain the same power, priesthood and authority that he did before, and yet will hold in connection with that the patriarchal office and the keys of that priesthood, and as one of the Twelve must maintain his dignity as one of the presidents of the church, of whom President Brigham Young is the president and head, and presides over all patriarchs, presidents and councils of the church.


That the saints at home and abroad may fully understand how the name of the church came into being, as we now call it, we have thought it advisable to copy from the record of the church, or law of the Lord, the following extract of a Revelation, given at Far West, Mo., in April, 1838, through Joseph Smith, the prophet and seer of said church, whose blood has sealed the truth of what he revealed. It reads as follows:-

"Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph Smith jr., and also, my servant Sidney Rigdon, and also, my servant Hyrum Smith and your counselors who are, and who shall be hereafter appointed; and also unto my servant Edward Partridge and his counselors, and also, unto my faithful servants who are of the High Council of my church in Zion, (for thus it shall be called) and unto all the elders and people of my church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, scatter abroad in all the world: FOR THUS SHALL MY CHURCH BE CALLED IN THE LAST DAYS, EVEN THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS."

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