Q. Has an Elder the right to call on a Priest to lay hands with him on the sick, the Elder being mouth or leading in prayer? Has a Priest the right to administer to the sick, there being no Elder present?
A. There ought to be no question on this point. A Priest holds the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood, and while that Priesthood does not give him the power to lay hands on baptized believers for the reception of the Holy Ghost, it undoubtedly gives him authority to lay hands on the sick, if it be necessary. Indeed, members of the Church can lay hands on the sick and pray for their recovery, though they have no right, if they rebuke the disease in the name of Jesus, to say they do so by the authority of the Priesthood.
Q. Does a man become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after he has been baptized and confirmed by those having authority, though his heart be not right, or he has not repented?
A. In reply, we may ask, who is to know that his heart is not right, or that he has not repented? if he has not repented of his sins, and continues to practice iniquity, he can soon be dealt with; and his membership in the Church can be tested, either by his repentance or by his severance from the Church. But if his heart be not right, the Lord is his judge, and not man. He is a member of the Church until, by his works and the spirit he manifests, he puts himself in a position to be dealt with.
Q. There are 168 hours in the week. Sunday Schools are held once a week, and the time occupied in teaching the children is about one hour and a half … a very small portion of time for religious teachings. This being the case, … what should be the character of the studies in our Sunday Schools?
A. Of course the smaller children should have teachings adapted to their understanding. the teachers should select the most interesting and instructive subjects which are adapted to the capacity of the little ones, and these should be taught with the utmost simplicity. …
But in all the classes where the children are capable of reading and understanding the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price, they should be used to the exclusion of every other book. We cannot impress this too strongly upon the minds of teachers and superintendents. …
We hear of theological classes, and perhaps other classes, studying other works than the word of God, spending the time in the Sunday Schools in discussing questions which are outside of these sacred books to which we refer. We think this practice wrong … In organizing Sunday Schools the object in view was to make the children Latter-day Saints, to fill their minds with knowledge concerning the principles of the Gospel, to make them thoroughly familiar with the word of God. What better training can we give our children than this? …
The boy or the girl who has had opportunity of reading these books and becoming familiar with them is well prepared to preach the Gospel and to teach others its heavenly principles. During the 166-1/2 hours each week which are spent outside the Sunday School, general reading and the study of other subjects can be indulged in; but we must beg our superintendents and teachers to give the children this little space of time – one hour and a half – for the reading and study of the word of God in its purity.
Q. Can a person have a knowledge that God lives without seeing Him?
A. We say, Certainly, Thousands testify, by the revelation which they have received from the Lord, through the Holy Ghost, who is one of the Godhead, that they know that God lives. The Spirit of God bears this testimony to their souls, and they are able to say – the Holy Ghost speaking through them – that God lives. …
Peter knew that Christ was the Son of the Living God, and the Savior said that flesh and blood had not revealed that to him, but His Father in heaven had done so. It required this revelation to constitute the knowledge that Peter had obtained, though he associated daily with the Lord in the flesh.
Q. Can an Elder take the name of Deity in vain and obtain forgiveness therefor by sincere repentance and prayer?
A. It is a most fearful sin for a man who has been taught the principles of righteousness, and who has made covenants with the Lord, to take his name in vain. If the extreme penalty were inflicted, the consequences might be exceedingly serious. There have been men whom we have reason to believe have met with violent deaths because of their profanity – men who knew better, but who broke this command and covenant. yet where there is sincere repentance and prayer unto the Lord, the Lord is merciful and does pardon sin.
Q. We are asked, “Who are the Gentiles, and from what tribe or race have they sprung?”
A. In the sense in which the word “Gentile” is used in the Bible, it appears clear that all are called Gentiles who are not of the House of Israel. The House of Israel is known as the children of the covenant. Their fathers, through faith, prevailed with the Lord and obtained promises from Him, and their descendants profited by those promises so far as to be called the covenant people of the Lord. The Gentiles were not of the seed of those who obtained these promises.
Q. An inquiry has been addressed to us from Arizona respecting the Priesthood that a Superintendent of a Sunday School should hold. Our friend who writes upon this subject is himself a Stake Superintendent of Sunday Schools, and is also one of the presidents of a quorum of Seventies. He says he should regret very much to leave that quorum, if it be necessary that one holding his position should be ordained a High Priest.
A. In reply, we say there is no necessity for him to be ordained a High Priest. He can act as Stake Superintendent of Sunday Schools with the utmost propriety while holding his present Priesthood.
Q. A correspondent asks the question whether it is not a serious sin for a widow, who has been sealed to her husband for time and eternity, to marry a man in any other place than in a temple of the Lord.
A. This depends upon circumstances. Such a marriage would be for time alone; and it might not be convenient for the couple, even though they were in full fellowship in the Church and able to get a recommend to the House of the Lord, to go to the temple, as it might be a long distance from their place of residence. Being a marriage for time alone, there would be no wrong committed in their being married by an officer in the Church who has the authority to marry.
Q. We are asked the question, “Will the seeing of the sick healed or hearing anyone speak in tongues, and these manifestations alone, give a testimony of the truth of the gospel?”
A. The healing of the sick and the speaking in tongues are two of the gifts which the Lord has promised to those who obey His gospel. Where these gifts exist in the Church, they are, as far as they go, evidences of the true gospel. But while that is so, there have been cases of the sick being healed by those who were not members of the Church of Jesus Christ; and there have been cases in our own church where persons have spoken in tongues under a wrong influence and spirit.
Therefore these signs alone do not give a testimony of the truth of the Gospel; neither are they a testimony that the person or persons who do these things are true servants of God. …
The reliable testimony must come from within – that is, the Saint should have the testimony of the Holy Ghost within. Outward signs and evidences go to corroborate and strengthen the inward testimony.
Q. We have been asked which is the better or most proper way for the children in Sunday School – to sit or stand while the opening prayer is offered?
A. We are of the opinion that it is better for the children to be seated during the opening prayer than that they should be required to stand. This opinion is based on several reasons, among which are:
It is too fatiguing on the little folks comprising the primary, infant and kindergarten classes for them to have to stand during the opening hymn, the succeeding prayer and the second hymn; and, as fatigue induces inattention and restlessness, it is desirable that they be permitted to sit during the prayer.
The officers and department teachers cannot observe the conduct of the pupils as well when they are standing up as when they are sitting down. when standing, the persons of the children in the front rows impede the view, and those in the back seats cannot be so closely watched.
There is also a tendency among the boys when standing at prayers to lounge, to lean on the seats, and when the teachers cannot so well observe what they are doing, to talk and play.
It is also well for the sake of good discipline that a uniform rule be observed in matters of this kind, that children moving from one school to another be not confused by differing practices.
We think that the children should be taught to sit reverentially, with hands folded, heads bowed and eyes shut during prayer; and on the other hand that those who pray should do so with distinct and sufficiently loud voices to be heard by all, and that the prayers should be brief and direct, so that the children can understand and remember them.
Q. The question is asked by a subscriber, “How long was our Lord on the cross, and also how long did he remain after He gave up the ghost?”
A. These questions cannot be answered. None of the four evangelists give exact statements with regard to time. Where they do mention hours they do not always agree. Writers on the life of Christ acknowledge the difficulty and present suggestions, or give their individual ideas. It is one of the points on which the Scriptures are not clear.
Q. A correspondent asks for some forms giving the exact words that should be used in ordaining men to certain offices in the Priesthood.
A. Our answer is, where the Lord has condescended to reveal the exact words to be used in the performance of any ordinance of the Church, these words should be used without change or deviation, but where the Lord has not done so it is improper, not to say impious, for men to trench upon the authority of the Holy Ghost and undertake to write or dictate forms when the Lord Himself has not thought it well so to do. It is the privilege of every man who is called to officiate in the ordinances of the Church to enjoy a portion of the Spirit of the Lord. On that spirit he should rely when called upon to administer as a servant of the lord, and we look with great disfavor on the tendency shown by some to have set forms prepared and used whenever there is an ordinance to be performed. We regard it as a dangerous departure from the Lord’s way, one that is likely to result in grievous errors. if a man holding the holy Priesthood is called upon to officiate in any of the duties of his calling he should be sure that he does that which he intends, and if the Lord has given no exact formula, let him trust to the Spirit of the Lord to fill his heart and inspire his tongue, and if he is doing his duty he will not go far wrong. Our Heavenly Father will not hold him a transgressor for a slip of the tongue or a verbal inaccuracy caused by nervousness or misapprehension; on the other hand every officer should do his very best when ministering in the things of God; carelessness or slovenliness in the handling of holy things or the performance of sacred rites is very displeasing to Him in whose name we are officiating.