George Q. Cannon is the author of the answers to these questions, asked in 1896:
One of our correspondents, in a letter recently received, asks some questions concerning the article which appeared in the Juvenile Instructor of January 15th last, in which a distinction was made between rebuking disease in the name of Jesus and in the authority of the Priesthood. Our correspondent states that he does not understand the difference between rebuking in Jesus’ name and in the authority of the Priesthood. He understands that women, and even children, may pray to the Father in the name of Jesus in behalf of their sick and afflicted, and their prayers be answered; but he understands that to rebuke or to command in the name of Jesus requires the exercise of authority from Him, or, in other words, the authority of the Priesthood.
The point in his mind seems to be whether the word “rebuke” can be properly used by a member of the Church who has not the Priesthood.
Now, while there may be, and doubtless is, some force in the point which our correspondent makes respecting the use of the word “rebuke,” we nevertheless think that a member of the Church, if led by the Spirit so to do, might use the name of Jesus and rebuke a disease or the power of the destroyer. Certainly it could do no harm to administer and use this word if so led; though to satisfy those who might have scruples upon this point, it would be better for members of the Church who do not have the Priesthood to ask the Father in the name of Jesus to rebuke the sickness.
There is great efficacy in the use of the name of Jesus, and every faithful member of the Church, in times of distress, sickness and peril can appeal to it for help and deliverance. An illustration of the power of the name of Jesus, the Son of God, to help and save when called upon, even in moments of despair and intense anguish, is given in Alma’s recital of his experience, as recorded in the 36th chapter of the Book of Alma, from the 17th to the 23rd verse.
In treating upon this subject we must not be understood as saying that a member of the Church, whether man or woman, has the right to rebuke disease in the sense and with the same authority that those do who bear the Holy Priesthood.
We receive communications from time to time, from theological classes and from others, making enquiries concerning the language to be used in ordaining different officers in the Church.
On this and many other points there is a very manifest disposition to be technical and to attach importance to certain phraseology. Of course, no one can object to the excise of proper care in administering the different ordinances of the gospel, whether the ordinance of baptism, laying on of hands, administering to the sick, or the ordaining of men to various offices in the Priesthood. But while this is right, and there should be no looseness about this, people should not become too great sticklers for word, and become too critical and technical. The form which is given us by the Lord for the administration of the ordinance of baptism as exceedingly simple and to the point. Undoubtedly the Lord knew better than anyone else whether it was proper and covered the ground or not. It would be very presumptuous in any man to think that he could improve on that which the Lord has given; though there have been times when the President of the Church has suggested language to be used in administering the ordinance of baptism that was appropriate to the then existing circumstances surrounding the candidates. This, of course, he had the right to do, as the man holding the keys. But for the administration of the ordinance of baptism under ordinary circumstances the form prescribed by the Lord in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is the form that should be always followed. The same may be said concerning the form given by the Lord touching the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. …
One fault that is sometimes noticed is that when some men ordain others they go to some length in blessing, and it would almost seem as though they were bestowing a patriarchal blessing. Of course, by calling attention to this we would not convey the idea that men should not speak and make promises under the influence of the Spirit of God when they are led to do so; but as a rule such lengthy ceremonies are not necessary.
We have received from a valued correspondent a question which, he states, has come up in the Theological Class in their Sunday school. The question is: “Was the sword of Laban found in the stone box in the Hill Cumorah at the time Joseph obtained the first view of the plates; if not, where was it discovered and when?”
The Prophet Joseph in relating and describing the first visitation of the Angel Moroni to him uses the following language: “He (the angel) said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants; also, that there were two stones in silver bows – and these stones, fastened to a breast-plate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim – deposited with the plates.”
And, in describing his first visit to the Hill Cumorah, Joseph says:
“Having removed the earth and obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up, I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay, was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box there were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and other things with them.”
Four years from this time Joseph was permitted to obtain possession of “the plates, Urim and Thummim and breastplate”; no mention whatever is made of the sword of Laban.
The first reference tot he sword of Laban that we find made in the present dispensation is found in the following revelation to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, given at Fayette, Seneca County, New York, June, 1829, just previous to their viewing the plates:
“Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi.”
In pursuance of this revelation, Joseph, Martin Harris, David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery retired into the woods to obtain by fervent and humble prayer the fulfillment of this promise. Failing to receive the desired manifestation, Martin Harris withdrew, leaving the others to continue in supplication,. In answer to their prayer an angel stood before them with the plates in his hands. The following language by the Prophet Joseph goes to show that the burden of their prayer was to obtain a view of the plates for the benefit of those who had not already seen them:
“An angel stood before us; in his hands he held the plates which we had been praying for, these (David Whitmer and Martin Harris) to have a view of; and he turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, etc.”
The following from a sermon delivered by the late President Brigham Young at Farmington, June 17, 1877, furnishes the most authentic information we have in answer to the question of our correspondent.
“I believe I will take the liberty to tell you of another circumstance that will be as marvelous as anything can be. This is an incident in the life of Oliver Cowdery, but he did not take the liberty of telling such things in meeting as I take. I tell these things to you, and I have a motive for doing so. I want you to carry them to the ears of my brethren and sisters and to the children also, that they may grow to an understanding of some things that seem to be entirely hidden from the human family. Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there were a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the Hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there the hill opened and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think at the time whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light, but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table was a pile of plates as much as two feet high; and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: ‘This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.’ I tell you this as coming not only from Oliver cowdery, but others who are familiar with it, and who understood it just as well as we understand coming to this meeting, enjoying the day, and by and by separate and go away, forgetting most of what was said, but remembering some things. So it is with other circumstances in life. I relate this to you and I want you to understand it. I take this liberty of referring to those things so that they will not be forgotten and lost.”