Early Scenes in Church History online

. (page 4 of 8)
Online LibraryVariousEarly Scenes in Church History → online text (page 4 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

"I want each of you Elders, who feels that his conscience is clear
before God, who has committed no sin to debar him from the enjoyment of
the Holy Spirit, and who has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ sufficient
to call upon the Almighty in His name and claim the desired blessing,
to wash his hands in that basin!" Three of the Elders stepped forward
and did so; the fourth could not - his conscience smote him. He was
therefore asked kindly to retire, and the four others joined in earnest
prayer before the Lord and rebuked the disease by which the people were
afflicted. The result was that the epidemic ceased its ravages and the
sick recovered from that very hour, much to the surprise of the ship's
officers and others on board who knew nothing of the power by which
such a happy result was accomplished.

In the winter of 1850, Elder Abel Evans lived at Council Bluffs, on the
eastern bank of the Missouri river. A great many of the Saints were
there at the time working for an outfit for their overland journey or
awaiting the return of fine weather before starting across the plains.
That locality was somewhat noted for its insalubriety, but during that
winter an unusually large amount of sickness prevailed. Some of the
more prominent Elders were kept quite busy going about from house to
house administering to the sick among the Saints, and scores, perhaps
hundreds of cases of healing occurred under their hands, many of
which were quite remarkable. Sister Ashton, now of Salt Lake City,
relates how she was healed there when near death's door, and under
circumstances the memory of which even now causes her to shed tears.
She had been sick for a considerable length of time and so bad for two
weeks that she had not been able to take a mouthful of food, when she
heard of the death of her father.

In her weak condition this intelligence was a heavy blow to her. Her
mother had died previously and been buried without her having the
privilege of being with her during her sickness or even seeing her
face when dead, and the thought of being deprived of this privilege in
the case of her father also, almost overcame her. She had during her
sickness felt a strong desire to live, and now in addition to that she
was anxious to see her dead father before he was buried, and attend
his funeral. Some of the Elders came and administered to her, but they
were not men in whom she had a great deal of faith, and she failed to
receive any benefit from their administration. After awhile, however,
Brother Evans called to see her, and, on learning of her desire to
attend her father's funeral, he promised her without any hesitation
that she would do so. Placing his hands upon her head, he rebuked the
sickness with which she was prostrated and pronounced the blessing of
health upon her. She arose immediately from her bed, and rode six miles
that same day, and saw her father buried.



Elder John Parry, who was master-mason on the Logan Temple up to the
time of his death, which occurred in July last, left a manuscript
journal in which a number of very interesting incidents are recorded.

His brother, Bernard Parry, died on the 12th of November, 1841, while
a member of the Campbellite church, and without having heard of the
gospel as revealed through Joseph Smith. While upon his death bed,
however, his mind was illumined by the Spirit of God and he had the
gift of prophecy. He said that the Lord had shown him many great and
marvelous things which were to come to pass in this age, but that he
would not live to see them, for he was about to die. "But," said he,
addressing his father, "the Lord is going to do a great work and a
wonder upon the earth, and you shall be called to take part in it,
father; and you shall yet preach the everlasting gospel to thousands in

Then turning to his brother John, he said, "And you also, John, shall
be called to it, and shall preach the gospel to tens of thousands, and
shall baptize many, and my body shall not altogether rot before the
Savior will stand upon the earth."

The night before he died, he inquired of his brother John if he would
be willing to do just as he requested him. John replied that he would,
when he asked him to remove the things, one by one, that stood upon a
table near by, into another room. His brother complied without saying
a word, and was then requested to return them and arrange them as
they were before upon the table. This John also did without asking
a question, whereupon Bernard said, "Well done; now I wish you to
remember that that is the way to serve the Lord! whatever He commands
you to do, do it without asking questions."

After impressing this lesson upon his brother's mind, he lay back upon
his pillow and never spoke again.

Elder Parry never heard the gospel preached until five years after his
brother's death, but the prediction in regard to his preaching and
baptizing was literally fulfilled.

A sister of his also had peculiar impressions before her death, which
occurred about five years later. She had, while living in Cheltenham
some time previously, met some Latter-day Saints, and become somewhat
acquainted with the doctrines which they preached. On returning to the
parental home she frequently referred to these doctrines, and urged her
relatives to investigate them, but her father and her brother John, who
were zealous Campbellites, were prejudiced against the "Mormons" by
the false reports which they had heard about them and opposed her and
persuaded her to have nothing to do with them.

She was taken sick with a fever, and when about to die she called her
relatives around her and said to her father, "Your religion is worth
nothing in the hour of death. I have lived it as faithfully as mortal
could do, and it is of no good to me now. I am going to utter darkness,
therefore look to yourselves and seek a religion that will support you
and enable you to face death fearlessly - the one that you have is of no

Then turning to her brother John, she reproached him with having
hindered and persuaded her from embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This was too much for him to bear, for he loved his sister dearly, and
he fainted and fell to the floor. When he regained his consciousness
his sister had ceased speaking and soon died.

Brother Parry gives an account of the manner in which he became
acquainted with the Latter-day Saints and embraced the gospel.

In 1844, a friend of his told him that Joseph Smith, the Prophet had
been killed. As soon as he heard this, something whispered to him:
"He was a servant of God." From that moment his prejudice against the
Latter-day Saints was removed.

He heard but little of "Mormonism" after that until he removed to
Birkenhead, in 1846. While going from there to Liverpool in company
with some of his relatives and friends, he met a "Mormon" Elder, who
invited him to attend one of their meetings to be held in the last
named place. He persuaded his companions to accompany him, and they
all attended the meeting. While listening to the Elders bear their
testimony to the great latter-day work, he felt convinced that they
spoke the truth, and believed them with all his heart.

At the close of the meeting, he asked one of his friends, a Campbellite
preacher, what he thought of the "Mormons" and their doctrines. The
preacher replied that their doctrines were a "damnable heresy."

"Well," said Mr. Parry, "one of the sayings of Paul has been fulfilled
with you and me to-day."

"What is that?" asked the preacher.

"When he said the gospel would be unto one 'the savor of death unto
death: and to the other the savor of life unto life.' It has been life
unto life to me, and I shall be a Latter-day Saint," was the response.

He attended another meeting in the evening of the same day, and at the
close he and his father handed in their names for baptism.

Shortly after he was baptized Brother Parry was ordained an Elder and
was appointed to preside over the Birkenhead branch of the Church.
While praying subsequently for a testimony of the truth, a voice spoke
to him and said: "The gift of healing shall follow thee to a great

This was literally fulfilled.

After joining the Church Elder Parry was often troubled in his sleep
by evil spirits. Upon one occasion he inquired of the president of the
Liverpool branch why it was that he was thus annoyed. The Elder replied
that some persons were troubled more than others, and told him to use
the following words in his prayers before retiring to rest: "O God, the
Eternal Father, I ask Thee in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, to
give Thine angels charge concerning me this night, and allow not the
powers of darkness to molest my spirit nor body."

He did this, and was troubled with evil spirits no more, until one
night, feeling very sleepy, he uttered a hasty, formal prayer and
went to bed. During the night he was almost overcome by the power of
evil spirits, which were visible. Unable to utter a word, he prayed
fervently in his mind to the Lord to release him. In an instant the
heavens appeared to him to open, and he saw an angel descend towards
him. The personage took hold of him and raised him up a little, and
immediately the powers of darkness disappeared.

Elder Parry asked the angel why it was that the Lord permitted the evil
one to abuse him in such a manner, to which he replied: "Because thou
didst not pray from the heart, but with thy lips."

At one time Elder Orson Spencer came from Liverpool to spend a few days
at a place where Elder Parry was living. While there he was taken very
sick. Elder Parry anointed him and he soon recovered.

A short time after this the Birkenhead branch of the Church was
disorganized, and Elder Parry was sent to Wales to preach. He was
soon out of money, and being without a place to stop, he and his
fellow-laborer took lodgings in a small store. They called for food
on credit, trusting the Lord would provide means to enable them to
pay their way. The next day they held two meetings, and enough money
was given them to pay for their board and some to help them in their

Upon another occasion, he was obliged to put up at a boarding house, as
he was a stranger in the place, and there were none who would entertain
him. He had no money with which to pay his board when he went there,
but after holding a meeting and telling the people that he was a
stranger, without money, and was sent to preach without purse or scrip,
several of the congregation donated small sums to help him. While on
his way to the house where he was stopping, a child came to him from
the opposite side of the street and placed in his hand a half-penny.
When he went to settle for his board and lodgings he found that he had
just the exact amount with which he was charged.

While holding a meeting in the open air, at one time, Elder Parry and
another traveling Elder were disturbed by a ruffian who challenged
them to fight, and they were obliged to dismiss the meeting. They went
to a public house to take lodgings, and were followed by a mob. Being
impressed that they were evil disposed, Elder Parry told the landlady,
in the presence of the gang of ruffians, that he and his companion
would take a walk before retiring for the night. He did not intend to
return again, but said this to avoid being followed by the mob. After
leaving the house he and his companion cast lots in the name of the
Lord to know whether they should stay in that place for the night or
go to another town near by. The lot fell for them to leave the place,
and they did so. They arrived in the next town about midnight, and got
lodgings at a public house, Elder Parry sleeping with a drunken fellow
and his friend with a man that had fits several times during the night.

The next morning they returned for their valises, and met a man, who
informed them that their enemies had been hunting for them during the
night until seven o'clock in the morning. They had searched every part
of the town, even among the tombstones, in the churchyard, and vowed
that if they found the Elders they would kill them.

While preaching in a town in Wales, Elder Parry prophesied that before
the end of that year (and it was then the month of September) there
would be a branch of the Church of Jesus Christ raised up in that
village. At that time there was but one member of the Church residing
there; but before the year closed a branch with fourteen or fifteen
members was organized.

Elder Parry relates some remarkable instances of healing by the power
of God which he witnessed.

One was in the case of the sister who was afflicted with a cancer in
her face, an account of which has already been given. He assisted
Elder Abel Evans in administering to her, and testifies to her entire

Another case of miraculous healing was that of his brother-in-law, John
Williams, who now resides in this Territory, and who was not a member
of the Church at the time this occurred. He was also afflicted with a
cancer which had completely taken away his lower lip and part of his
chin and tongue. After trying in vain to get relief through the skill
of physicians, he applied to the Elders of the Church to administer to
him. They did so twice, and shortly after he received a new tongue, lip
and chin.

Two children who were stricken with fever and ague and one with
cancer, belonging to the same family, were also healed through the
administration of the Elders.

Elder Parry testifies that many times while fulfilling his duties as
an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ he was attacked by mobs, who
threw stones at him; and although at times the stones flew past him
in showers, he was never injured by them. Upon several occasions his
enemies attempted to inflict upon him bodily injury, but they were
frustrated in all their plans. At one time they secured another man,
thinking it to be Elder Parry, and maltreated him in a shameful manner.

Several of the most bitter enemies of the Church in those days died an
unnatural death. One man, who was a sectarian minister, and one of the
worst opposers to the work of God to be found in that vicinity, became
ferocious like a mad dog, and had to be chained up for quite a while
before his death.

Brother Parry was released from his labors as a traveling Elder in the
Welsh conference, in the early part of the year 1856, and immediately
prepared to emigrate to this country. Upon reaching Iowa City, on
his journey westward, he was appointed captain of a company of one
hundred persons. Provisions became scarce among the emigrants, and
their rations were reduced to one-half pound of flour per day for each
person. On account of this, some of the company on arriving at Council
Bluffs concluded to remain there and work, and therefore left the camp.
Upon learning this Brother Parry went back for them, and prevailed upon
them to continue their journey. While trying to overtake the company,
which was a considerable distance ahead, he was surrounded by a number
of men who were very anxious that the emigrants who were with him
should stay and work for them, and were angry at him for persuading
them to leave. Some of the pursuing party were sent to procure tar and
feathers to cover him with, while the others were guarding him. Their
attention was attracted for a moment in another direction, when Elder
Parry took advantage of the opportunity to escape by running towards
the camp of the Saints. He was overtaken, however, before he reached
it by two of the gang, who seized him by the collar, but he made some
threats which frightened them and they let him go. After reaching camp
he was still pursued by others who were mounted on horseback, and
armed with revolvers, clubs, etc., but he escaped their recognition by
changing his clothing. The mobocrats finally returned to Council Bluffs
without having accomplished their object, for Elder Parry's influence
over the discouraged men prevailed, and they decided to continue their



Elder John T. Evans, now of Salt Lake City, spent about eight years
when a young man in preaching the gospel in his native country - Wales.
During about five years of this time he labored as a traveling Elder
in North Wales, one of the very hardest of missionary fields, where
he traveled and preached without purse or scrip. Much of the time he
labored alone, for, although many different Elders were sent at various
times by the president of the mission to assist him, they generally
became discouraged on account of the persecution and hardships they
were forced to endure and soon abandoned their labors.

The interesting incidents connected with his labors in that land which
Elder Evans can relate would fill a volume.

Upon one occasion he and four other Elders were sent to an iron
manufacturing district about seven miles from Neath to introduce the
gospel. Among their first converts were a man by the name of William
Howells and his family. This man on embracing the gospel received a
strong testimony of its divinity and was fearless in declaring it unto
others. He had a sister who had been so sick and helpless as to be
bed-ridden for three-and-a-half years. She was a member of the Baptist
church, but on hearing the doctrines of the Latter-day Saints explained
she soon became dissatisfied with her religion; and when her brother
testified to her that the gospel had been restored to the earth through
the Prophet Joseph Smith, with all its former gifts and blessings,
she declared her intention to be baptized. Her husband was bitterly
opposed to the gospel, but all the reason, ridicule and persuasion that
he could use failed to turn her from her purpose. She was resolute,
and so zealous withal that she made a special request to be baptized
on Sunday, between eleven and twelve o'clock, that the people of the
whole neighborhood might see the ceremony, and had word circulated to
that effect. It was a novel thing in that region to see Latter-day
Saints baptizing, and the result was, that about three thousand persons
assembled on the bank of the stream to witness it. She was carried from
the house to the stream, the distance of about half a mile in a chair,
and there Elder Evans, assisted by a man named David Matthews, carried
her into the water and baptized her.

She was rewarded for her faith by being entirely restored to health,
and that too, instantaneously, for she walked out of the water and to
her home.

This public manifestation of the power of God seemed to be the signal
for commencing a perfect storm of opposition against the Saints.
Through the influence of sectarian ministers with the proprietors
of the iron works a great pressure was brought to bear against the
Saints. It was claimed that they were Chartists, that is, members of
a political organization which had caused a great deal of trouble
throughout the kingdom a short time previously, and other lies equally
unreasonable were circulated about them to make them odious and

The five Elders who had been doing the preaching and baptizing, and who
were dependent upon their labor in the iron works for their living,
were informed by their employers that they must renounce the "heresy"
which they taught as religion, or lose their positions. They chose the

About two hundred of their converts were also employed in the iron
works. They were given one month's time to renounce their religion
or likewise lose their situations. All efforts to obtain employment
elsewhere without a recommendation from their last employers proved
unavailing, on account of the rumors against their characters, and
finally, when they were brought to the test, about half of them chose
to renounce their religion rather than lose their work. The others were
discharged and scattered to different parts in search of employment.
Many of them suffered severely for want of the necessaries of life,
and were only kept from starving by the collections taken up for their
benefit among the more fortunate Saints in other parts of the mission.

Among others who yielded to the pressure which the enemies of the
Saints brought to bear against them, was the sister who had been healed
on being baptized. Notwithstanding her former zeal and resolution, and
the miraculous power of God which she had experienced, she abandoned
the faith. She perhaps thought she had no further need of God's mercy,
but if so, the sequel proved how sadly she was mistaken, for she was
soon prostrated as before and lingered in that condition until she died.

In the summer of 1849 the cholera prevailed throughout Wales to an
alarming extent. The mortality was so great in some places that a
perfect panic ensued. The Elders, however, continued their labors,
undaunted by the disease, administering to the sick day and night,
and the faith of the Saints was so great that they almost invariably
recovered. A local Elder by the name of Thomas Jones, who was a man
of some property, and not obliged to work for his living, spent his
whole time while the disease prevailed in visiting among the sick. He
carried a bottle of consecrated oil about in his pocket to anoint them
with, and administered to all whom he found afflicted, and out of the
whole number only one died, and he was the only one who had taken the
medicine prescribed by a doctor. The town regulations required the sick
to have a doctor, but as a rule his medicine was thrown into the fire
instead of being taken by the patients who belonged to the Church.

One of the preachers who had violently opposed the Saints became
alarmed at the spread of the epidemic and attempted to flee and escape
from it, but it overtook him and after three days of terrible agony he

Another preacher by the name of Jenkins, who had been an enemy to the
Saints, was stricken with the cholera and sent for Elder Evans to
administer to him. That he should do so will be considered all the more
remarkable when the history of their early acquaintance is known:

Elder Evans, while laboring in Pembrokeshire, obtained the use of the
town hall, in a place called Fishguard, to hold meeting in and lighted
it at his own expense. When the meeting had fairly commenced and he was
in the act of preaching to a rather large audience, the whole of the
lights in the room were extinguished simultaneously, according to a
preconcerted plan, and a rush was made by the rabble towards the end of
the room where the Elder stood. A tall man, who happened to be standing
near Elder Evans, immediately placed his hand on the latter's shoulder,
and said, "Young man, come out of here, or you will be hurt!" and
leading the way, proceeded with him around one side of the room and out
through the door, leaving the crowd rushing and jamming and shrieking
to get at the Elder, whom they still supposed to be at the farther end
of the hall.

The stranger took Elder Evans to a public house, saying that he
would like to have a talk with him, and on arriving there sent for
Mr. Jenkins, the Baptist preacher of the place, who had been at the
meeting, and probably engaged in urging the rabble on, to come there
and have a private discussion. He came, and his principal argument
consisted of abuse and the rehearsal of all the absurd stories which
he had ever heard about the Saints. Although an educated man he seemed
unable to cope with Elder Evans in the discussion of religion from a
Bible standpoint.

The friend who had delivered Brother Evans from the mob finally
interrupted them by exclaiming, "Mr. Jenkins, you are no match for this
young man in discussing from the Bible; you had better go to college

Mr. Jenkins seemed considerably chagrined at this, and gave it up.

The next time Elder Evans met this preacher it was some months later,
and, probably remembering the discussion, Mr. Jenkins then treated
him with some degree of respect. It was that very night that he was

1 2 4 6 7 8

Online LibraryVariousEarly Scenes in Church History → online text (page 4 of 8)