In the previous part I introduced John Pack and his dilemma. Briefly, John Pack was in the presidency of the 8th quorum of Seventy in 1879 when his quorum asked the apostles to move him out for a couple of reasons. The apostles, then the presiding quorum in the church (no First Presidency at this time between Brigham Young’s death and John Taylor becoming church president in 1880) voted to move Pack out of the seventies quorum and make him a high priest. Pack agreed after some convincing but then reneged (more details in the previous part).
In this segment I just want to let you read the whole letter–only an excerpt appears in part 1. In the next installment, I’ll comment on the issues raised by Joseph F. Smith.
Salt Lake City
June 18th 1880.
Elder John Pack_
Salt Lake City
Your letter of the 8th inst. came duly to hand. I caused it to be read to President John Taylor and shall now answer you as directed by him and I trust it will be satisfactory.
I was directed by Pres. Taylor to send you the following minutes taken at the time of our interview with him at his office
May 24th 1880. “Elders John and Ward E. Pack called and read, also obtained a copy of the petition of Elder ——— and members of the 8th Quorum of Seventies in regard to Elder John Pack. Also the action of the Apostles in regard thereto. After which Pres. Taylor and Elder Jos. F. Smith talked with bro. John Pack on this matter upon which he said he did not wish to have any thing more to do with that Quorum and would fully carry out the desires of the Apostles so far as the (8th) Quorum (of 70) was concerned but did not wish to join himself with the High Priests Quorum. Elder Smith explained to bro. Pack why he should join the High Priests. Also Pres. Taylor in speaking his mind suggested that bro. Pack carry out fully the mind of the council and that he associate himself with the High Priests Quorum, and thus put himself beyond all contention in the matter. Bro. Pack said he was willing to do so and would let the matter drop.” With the foregoing fresh on my mind you may imagine my surprise at the contents of your letter of the 8th inst. to which this is a reply. My own judgement is that you are very impudent in attempting to agitate this matter again and I advise you, as a friend and a brother it cannot possibly result in any good to you, but may result in much injury. I advise you therefore, most seriously, to stop this matter short where it is, and carry out your promise as made before Pres. Taylor-myself-your son Ward and bro Nuttall- on May 24th. This will be for your best good. You lose nothing by joining the High Priest Quo. now, but actually gain the right and Keys of Presidency- (by appointment) (or if appointed) and that is more than you hold as a Seventy, except to presided over a quorum when appointed. For you to persist any further in your course in opposition to the decision of the Council of Apostles, could be considered no less than obstinate rebellion against [this?] will in the matter, which would be foolish in the extreme. Therefore I exhort you to be advised and begin to act with more moderation and greater wisdom or you will precipitate yourself into a vortex of trouble and dishonor far greater than now and from which you and your friends will be powerless to relieve you.
I have no doubt you have labored long and honorably in the Kingdom for the good of yourself, your family and others, and therefore what strikes me as most strange is, why, at your time of life, and with the vast experience you claim to have had, you are not more confiding in the providences of God, why you are not more humble, why you are so persistant against the will of your brethren and the decisions of their councils. Experience has taught me, to use the means God has provided me with for the redress of my real or supposed injuries or wrongs. And where, as it may seem those means fail, then to leave my cause in the hands of God, and await calmly His final decision. I am not afraid to risk the consequences when my case is appealed and submitted to the Great and righteous Judge. If you still feel as you expressed yourself in your letter you had better appeal, silently and peaceibly, to God and with him leave the whole matter, for there is no higher tribunal on earth, on spiritual matters- or in your case than the Council of Apostles and they have rendered their decision and are not likely to reconsider it at the present.
Your own conduct is against you. Your own course more than anything else, had injured your cause, and the longer and stronger your persistancy, you must see, the more disasterous the results will be for you.
Now. As you have said, “my mission is to save” and the object of this writing is to assist and save you from greater troubles. Nowithstanding I have spoken plainly, my rebukes, to you, should be better than the kisses of an enemy.
I tell you candidly- were I of your age, and a Seventy, if the offer of the office of High Priest were made me I would joyfully accept it, as a greater gift than that I possessed, and yet I would not be considered as seeking office, but in the language of Joseph Smith the Prophet “The melchisedec High Priesthood,” (i.e. the office of High Priest in the Melchisedec Priesthood) “is no other than the Priesthood of the Son of God.” This office hold the Keys of Presidency over the Melshisedec Priesthood, and also over the Lesser Priesthood” and over the whole church. However the power and right of Presidency depend upon appointment by the proper authority.
With kind regards I am your bro in the gospel. Jos. F. Smith