Questions answered by George Q. Cannon as editor of the Juvenile Instructor —
Questions are asked concerning the administering of the sacrament in the Sunday Schools, as to when those who bless the bread and those who distribute it to the people should partake of it – whether before serving anyone else or after they have served all.
There is no general rule concerning the manner in which these brethren shall partake of the bread and the contents of the cup. We should avoid being technical and stiff on these points. Those who bless and those who administer can partake at any time while the ordinance is being administered; though we understand that a rule has been established in at least one of the Stakes, to the effect that none of those who bless and administer the sacrament shall partake of it until after it has been passed around the congregation, and then one of their number shall serve it to them. The important thing, however, is that when they do partake of it, whether first or last, they shall partake of it in the spirit which the Lord quires.
An esteemed correspondent wrote us some time since concerning the propriety of ordaining a child who was sick to the Melchisedek Priesthood. He states that the mother called himself and another elder in to administer to the child, and asked if it would not be well for them to ordain her boy to the Priesthood, so that in the event of his passing away he would be a holder of the Priesthood. Her anxiety appeared to be that he should receive the Priesthood, lest, not having it, he might be at a disadvantage. Our correspondent gave her his views upon the subject, to the effect that as a rule it is not expedient to ordain a boy to be an Elder because he is sick, especially when he had not held any of the lesser offices. Then the mother informed him that one of the patriarchs, in bestowing a patriarchal blessing, had ordained a brother of this sick boy to be an Elder, and the child was only five months old at the time. Afterwards, as this boy grew up, he was ordained to the office of a Deacon, the local authorities being ignorant at the time that he had been ordained an Elder.
There is a manifest impropriety in such action as seems to have been taken by this patriarch. He exhibited more zeal than discretion. We know that such things have been done by Elders when they thought children were likely to die. They have felt as though the children would lose something and would be at a disadvantage if they were not ordained. There is certainly no good ground for entertaining such views. It has the appearance of distrusting the providence of God and the salvation that He has provided for His children. If such ideas were to become prevalent in the Church, what a strange result would follow! Parents who had lost their children in infancy or early life and who had not had them ordained, would feel to mourn, either at their neglect or that they had allowed their children to pass away without receiving ordination; and were such an idea not checked, it would no be long until some members of the Church might fall into the errors of certain sects concerning the baptism of infants – that those who were not baptized in infancy would not receive the joys of heaven.
Our correspondent states some of the conclusions that he had reached, and asks if they are correct. He says:
First – I do not think any male person who may be taken sick should be ordained to any calling he would not or could not be ordained unto were he in good health.
Second – That if a faithful member of the Church should be suddenly called hence, the fact that he had not been ordained would not deprive him of the reward to which he is entitled.
Third – That in the absence of a special command it is not according to the order and the revelations to the Church of Christ to ordain an infant to the Priesthood.
These conclusions, as they appear to us, are certainly safe, and it is not proper that any practice should arise among us of such a character as this referred to, as it would surely lead to confusion.
The question is asked, “where is the authority, if any, to require persons guilty of profanity to be re-baptized and renew their covenants?”
There is no authority given in writing upon this subject. But there have been many occasions in the Church when the Prophet of God who held the keys has counseled the Saints to renew their covenants by baptism. This was the case when the pioneers came to this valley, and the people of the companies who came in the same year all renewed their covenants in the waters of baptism. They had been traveling in the wilderness for a long time, subjected to many trials and temptations, and Brigham Young was led to counsel them to go forth and be baptized and renew their covenants with the Lord. Since that time, we believe, it has been a custom for all members of the Church who come here as emigrants to go forth and be re-baptized. On another occasion, at the time that is now called the Reformation, the Saints again renewed their covenants by baptism; and there have been times since that they have obeyed the same ordinance.
It is not necessary for men and women who transgress to always be re-baptized. A transgressor should make a confession of his sins as publicly as they are known; that is, to use the language of the Lord, in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, “If thy brother or sister offend many, he or she shall be chastened before many. And if any one offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly, that he or she may be ashamed.”
It is the privilege of the members of a Ward, upon hearing a confession of sin, to say whether they will take the sinner into fellowship again. Whether he should be baptized again or not depends upon circumstances, and of these the authorities in the Ward are in a position to judge. But if any one entertains the idea that by baptism alone he can obtain forgiveness and be restored to the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, he is much mistaken. Repentance and the confession of sin are necessary in the case of a man who violates the law of God; and no matter how often he may be baptized without these conditions being observed, he is not promised that his sins will be forgiven.
A correspondent asks a question concerning the right of the sisters of the Relief Society to fast and hold meetings and pray over those who are sick who hold the Priesthood.
There can be no question upon a point of this kind. Sisters have the right as well as the brethren to pray to the Lord, and to fast also, and to offer their petitions in favor of every righteous object, and the Lord has promised to hear and answer them.
A friend wrote us some time ago concerning an occurrence that happened in the Sabbath School of the Stake in which he resides in the administration of the sacrament. One of the brethren who was carrying the bread around refused to permit a child twelve years of age who had not been baptized to partake of that ordinance with the other children. Our friend informs us that the child was born in the covenant and had been faithful so far as taught, but through her father’s neglect she had not been baptized. This action on the part of the brother who carried the bread around created feelings, and a discussion, disagreeable in some points, followed, there being a division of feeling upon the subject. The question was afterwards submitted to the Presidency of the Stake, and the view they took was that the Elder was right so far as doctrine was concerned, but was wrong in pursuing the course he did without first submitting the matter to the Bishop and explaining the cause of the action to the little girl in a manner not to hurt her feelings or expose her before the school.
This is undoubtedly the correct view to take of this affair. It has been wisely said of one of old that the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. The strict letter would exclude from this ordinance all persons who had reached the proper age for baptism who had not been baptized. But in this case this child had partaken of this ordinance without any remark being made to her upon the subject, and to refuse it to her before the whole school, without explanation, was likely to be attended with painful consequences. Her spirit was probably grieved, and she doubtless felt ashamed, and all who sympathized with her were, perhaps, more or less offended. It should be the aim of all to do all in their power to save the people, to draw them to the truth and to the ordinances of the gospel, and not by a want of wisdom to drive them away, or grieve or offend them.
It is proper to say that the practice of carrying deadly weapons is one that should be frowned upon among our people.
There was a time in our country when it seemed necessary for men to go armed because then people traveled long distances, and they were liable to meet either prowling Indians or wild beasts, and therefore they needed to be prepared to protect themselves. It may still be necessary in some parts of our country. But for men to go armed with deadly weapons while at home and following ordinary pursuits is dangerous, and it should not be permitted; for when a man is armed, he might in the heat of passion use a deadly weapon, whereas if he had to take time to find some weapon, his anger might pass away before he used it.
There is a great tendency at the present time among the rising generation to indulge in slang and in phrases that are rude and uncouth. By this practice the purity of the English language is being injured.
Care should be taken by public men, teachers and parents to correct this tendency, and children should be taught to speak correctly and to pronounce their words with the best accent.
As it is expected that our boys who behave themselves will receive the Priesthood, and very likely be called to fill missions among the nations abroad, there are stronger reasons why they should learn to speak correctly than in the case of other young men in the Republic. In the different communities of the United States there are comparatively few who expect to travel beyond their own neighborhood or State. But not so with the boys among the Latter-day Saints. They may be called to go to the remotest parts of the earth, and to mingle with the educated of all lands. How necessary it is, therefore, that they should be qualified in their childhood and youth to mingle upon the best possible terms with the peoples of the various lands to which they may be sent.