The Gift of Tongues

Ogden Kraut

[7]                               Chapter 1


In the beginning of man’s history, Adam spoke the language of God. It was a pure, unadulterated language without profanity, obscenities, or corrupt expressions. (See Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6:6). The language of God is simple, illustrative, and pleasing to the ear and the soul.  As in all of the handiworks of God, it is beautiful to perfection.  Conversing in the language of God can overpower the feelings as it touches the heart, stirs the emotions, and moves the soul.

The tongue is a useful and powerful blessing–a most unique member of the body–for it can bless or curse, pray or profane.  The tongue is often the means of moving a man for good or bad, exalting or damning him. It can convey knowledge, wisdom, and expression; or it can persuade man to change the whole course of his life.

Conversation can communicate information for edification, or it can be spiritual in its nature by encouraging, uplifting, and stirring men to repentance.  It is often the means of making a complete change of heart, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17)

In hours of sorrow the tongue may bring comfort to someone, and in hours of darkness it can be their shining light. And again, through days of despair, it may be the means of bringing faith to another’s soul. Although the tongue is but [8] a small member of the body, it is capable of accomplishing many great things–both good and bad.

The Apostle James elaborates on this phenomenon in these terms:

For in many things we offend all.  If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.  Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. (James 3:2-13)


[9]           Men have been tortured, flogged, and beaten to death, but some have remained steadfast to their moral convictions. However, through the subtle use of words, many a strong man has been persuaded and enticed away from those convictions.

In the story of the harlot, Solomon said:

…with her much fair speech she caused him to yield; with the flattering of her lips she forced him. ***She hath cast down many wounded; yea, many strong men have been slain by her. (Proverbs 7:21, 26)

If, then, the tongue can become a force in breaking many strong men, then it also can be a device used to make many weak men strong.  The tongue can be a useful and righteous tool when directed by the Spirit of God.

How soothing and pleasing are the words sung from the heart by a melodious voice. How mellow and sweet to the ear are the words of a child spoken in innocence. And, how reverent and uplifting are the words of good men as they speak of truth, righteousness, and Deity.

Few ears and hearts have ever been touched as those who heard Jesus speak and pray.

And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father. (3 Nephi 17:17)

And from the Book of Proverbs, the voice of wisdom spoke and said:

Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination [10] to my lips. Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies and all things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. (Proverbs 8:6,7,10,11)

Governing the tongue between nations can prevent wars; and many national and international contentions have resulted from the misuse and abuse of the tongue. Despots and dictators have gained political positions by their cunning and deceptive use of words. Unkind and spiteful words have disrupted towns and many a home, for occasionally some retaliation or occasional vengeance towards a friend or spouse may seem justified, yet in the end may cause regret and sorrow.

Govern the tongue right in our own families.  I know it is sometimes the case that a person will see a chance to slip a word in that will cut like a razor. “Oh, that is too good a chance to let slip; therefore, I will let fly a word,” and it sets all hell on fire. I speak particularly in relation to some women; but I do not know that it is any more in relation to them than to the men.  The woman sees the chance to give the man a keen word that will make him feel; but she sours her own dish by so doing. She turns the sweet into gall, and then is compelled to eat it. What is the better way? If she sees a chance to inflict a wound by a word that will cut, and she thinks her husband really deserves it, which is the sure way to get a victory? Never say a word! Say the women, “If we can have no protection, shall we say nothing at all?” Let it pass, I tell you; take it mildly, and by-and-by, says the husband, “I grieved my wife, and gave her just cause of offense. I am sorry for it; she has taken it so meekly, and never has harassed my feelings.  Now, this cuts me ten times worse than if she had said something to balance the matter; then I should not have had this sting in my heart.  But to see her take it so mildly without offering one reproach, O my God, how can I forgive myself?” (Orson Hyde, Elders Journal, 10:837)


[11]         We are living in perilous times. The Prophet Joseph Smith said this generation is as corrupt as any generation before us.  Jesus spoke of it as being as wicked as the generation of Noah. What is happening to our civilization when men speak of wickedness more than righteousness?  Why are the principles of virtue, purity, and holiness so seldom mentioned in our common conversations? It is the smut, profanity, and contentions that daily greet our ears from nearly every avenue.

We have listened to the language of men in the armed services–men who at any time might be cut down to the grave–yet their language befouls the air and becomes disgusting to the ears of any conscientious soul.

From the motion picture screen and the home television set the sounds of profanity and obscenity degrade our language. Lustful and bawdy stories and jests of vulgarity are the night club lures for men to take to their home and work.

Until the last few decades our streets were free from shouting mobs and screaming picketers who cry for destruction and violence. Since the “hippie” movement and “rock” culture of the 60’s, colloquialisms, slang and sub-cultural jargon have conveyed a degraded, sordid love of passion and amoral appetites.

What then shall become of our civilization because men’s tongues speak so often of the vile, laugh at the vulgar, and make a mockery of dignity? We stand near the brink of the Almighty’s vengeance; and only by turning from the sordid pitfalls of the tower of Babel, can we avoid a worse disaster.

One of the most beneficial attributes of language is that it conveys knowledge and intelligence, but beyond the [12] conveyance of information is a more important fruit of language–the building of faith. The Prophet Joseph Smith expounded on this by saying:

Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servants of God; that testimony is always attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation.

Tongues were given for the purpose of preaching among those whose language is not understood; as on the day of Pentecost, etc., and it is not necessary for tongues to be taught to the Church particularly, for any man that has the Holy Ghost, can speak of the things of God in his own tongue as well as to speak in another; for faith comes not by signs, but by hearing the word of God. (DHC 3:379)

Hearing the word of God will do more to change man and the world he lives in than any other influence. It is through the word of God that souls can be saved, nations can learn peace, and the kingdom of God can be established among nations.



[13]                              Chapter 2



The language of God was the first language spoken upon the earth. Then as men became sinful in their lives, their language also became corrupted and foul. Wicked men could no longer speak a pure language. The first major catastrophe to the Adamic language occurred at the tower of Babel.

The government and people of Nimrod (the grandson of Ham) had turned from the teachings and truths of God. Even though the Lord had warned them to repent of their wickedness, they still persisted in their degraded and rebellious course. The great city of Babel was about to receive a curse which would afflict all mankind for many thousands of years. The confusion and dispersion of this great city caused the birth of a multitude of nations and languages.

From amidst the great city of Babel were two noble men of God-Jared and his brother. Because of a special petition to heaven, the “Lord had compassion upon Jared; therefore He did not confound the language of Jared . . . and his brother . . . and their friends and families.”  (Ether 1:34)  Therefore, with one exception, the curse of confusion, scattering, and the loss of the pure language of God fell upon all men.

The pure language of God suffered first at the tower of Babel because they turned away from God:


[14]         Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. (Gen. 11:9)

This was one of the first curses of God upon mankind. And since this curse of confusion and scattering was caused by wickedness, it will require righteousness and the Spirit of God to bring men and their languages together again.

That same Being that destroyed the memory of the people at the building of the tower, so that they could not remember their own mother tongue, and the same Being that gave to them new languages and tongues, will operate again by His power to do away with this curse, for I consider it a curse, and the blessing will be as great and as extensive as the curse, in destroying it from the face of the earth. (Orson Pratt, Masterful Discourses, p. 498)

Other nations and people have continued to suffer with language changes.  One of the more recent changes was among the Lamanite (Indian) people.

(They) did murder the chief judge of the land and the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land.  And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes. (3 Nephi 7:3-4)

The Indian nations exist today as tribes with a chief to rule each tribe. They suffered the curse of Babel with each tribe adopting a different language.


[15]         Similarly the whole world suffers, as multitudes of nations gather, as it were, at the tower of Babel–the United Nations–attempting to reach agreements and peace! With all of the interpreters, radio communication systems and policy makers, language is still a barrier, and peace has never been less secure. Theologians of all denominations have studied the problem of “glossalalia”, but have been able to contribute little or nothing for its solution.

Languages and dialects have continually been a barrier between people and nations.  In a few instances these barriers provide the means of detecting an enemy or a friend.

One of these lamentable circumstances happened at the River Jordan.  It occurred through the inability of the Ephraimites to pronounce the Hebrew word Shibboleth (a stream).  This language and dialect barrier was the reason for 42,000 of the Ephraimites to lose their lives.

And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites:  and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth; and he said Sibboleth:  for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan:  and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand. (Judges 12:5-6)

The curse of Babel has reached proportions of over 3,000 different languages upon the earth today. Many nations have desired that their own native tongue become a universal language; however, this has only caused jealousies and barriers and inevitable failure. Artificial languages have been created with the hope that they would become a universal means of communication between nations. Through the years more than [16] 600 languages have been created for this purpose, meeting with little success. The most successful, the Esperanto language, was developed by a Polish man who published his first Esperanto book in 1887. Today there are nearly eight million people who speak or read this language, but it is not meeting with the success for which it was created.

The difficulty of establishing one common language was explained in an interesting editorial entitled “Other Tongues”:

Mankind has long desired the establishment of a universal language, by means of which nations could understand each other without the necessity of spending so much time in the study of foreign tongues.  The diversity of speech existing at present is frequently referred to as the “curse of Babel”.  Many serious attempts have been made to construct an artificial language and to secure its adoption by the world in general. The nations today are in constant communication with one another, and a common medium of speech would seem to be in every way desirable. Perhaps the most important effect of the kind was that which resulted in the publication of the Volapuk, a so-called language, in fact rather a skeleton plan for a language, arranged upon the simplest and most consistent rules of grammar and construction as understood by man. The great obstacle in the way of adopting such a man-made speech is the fact that it possesses no literature of its own; it is newly-born, and with no history; while one of the chief incentives to the study of foreign language is the hope of reaching the written treasures of the nations with whom that language is common. There appears to be little promise that the confusion of tongues will be removed in any such way as that proposed. At the present time, English, German, and French are the most widely used of the modern classical tongues; and a person possessing a reading and speaking knowledge of these may make his way with but little difficulty among all civilized nations.

[17]         In this connection it should be remembered by the Latter-day Saints that perhaps no other people have better reason than have we for pursuing the study of foreign languages. We ought to be distinguished for our ability as linguists. Our communities consist of representatives from many countries; and the sure word of prophecy teaches us that this composite condition will continue and increase amongst us. Many of our people are versed in other tongues than the English. Some of them have come here while entirely ignorant of the common language of our country, and in their laudable efforts to acquire our speech they often neglect their own. It would be easy for them to give their children a knowledge of the language which is so familiar to themselves. Linguistic ability is in demand; it has indeed an actual money value; but an incentive to such study greater by far than any hope of pecuniary gain exists among the Latter-day Saints. The cause of God has need of worthy men and women versed in the languages of the world; men who can go abroad and carry the message of salvation into the houses of those who know not our speech. Yet in common with our fellow Americans we are behind many of the other nations in our devotion to the study of languages. (Juv. Instr. 3:214, March 15, 1898)


The variety of languages on the earth is the result of wickedness, so the question now is:  “Will the earth ever receive a common language among the nations?” The Apostle Orson Pratt spoke on this subject and explained the promise of a universal language:

Let us now compare our present means of obtaining knowledge with the facilities which are, no doubt, in store for the people of God. Will there be a pure language restored? There will; through the testimony of the prophets. We are also told that tongues shall cease. We are to understand by this that the great varieties of languages and tongues that have existed on the earth for many ages, are to be done [18] away; they are to cease; now something must take the place of those imperfect, confused languages and tongues. What is that something? It is a language that is spoken by higher orders of beings than ourselves; that is, beings that have progressed further than ourselves; it is that same language that was spoken for nearly two thousand years after the creation; that was spoken by Adam and by his children, from generation to generation that came down to the flood, and was taught extensively among the children of Noah until the Lord by a direct miracle caused the people to forget their own mother tongue, and gave them a variety of new tongues that they had no knowledge of, and by this means scattered them abroad upon the face of the whole earth; and now that same Being that destroyed the memory of the people at the building of the tower, so that they could not remember their own mother tongue, and the same Being that gave to them new languages and tongues, will operate again by His power to do away this curse, for I consider it a curse, and the blessing will be as great and as extensive as the curse, in destroying it from the face of the earth. (Orson Pratt, JD 3:100)

The promise has been made by the Lord that someday we would have a common language and a peaceful earth. Now we shall look at the evidences of that promise being fulfilled and how man will be able to achieve that blessed condition.



[19]                              Chapter 3



It is assumed that no one can speak a foreign language until he has first learned it. However, in the New Testament, such an event occurred. The first written account of such a miracle is recorded by the Apostles on the day of Pentecost.  It is written:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?

And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

[20]         Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh:  and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:1-18)

This is probably the first success story of God lifting that language barrier curse. Although only a few ever experience it, it is one of the gifts of God.

…it is given to some to speak with tongues; and to another is given the interpretation of tongues.  And all these gifts come from God for the benefit of the children of God. (D &C 46:24)

Paul the Apostle had the gift of tongues and said, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.” (I Cor. 14:18)  Yet he continued to say he would “rather speak five words with my understanding … than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” (1 Cor. 14:19)


[21]         There is a great blessing that can be enjoyed by the gift of tongues, but there are many other gifts of the Spirit, too. They are all a part of the work of God, as Orson Pratt explains:

We find a great many gifts besides those I have mentioned. The gift of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, the discerning of spirits, and the beholding of angels, were all given in ancient times by the Spirit, and the Church possessing them was compared to the body of Christ; and the Apostle Paul, in order to show the necessity of all these gifts, when comparing them to the body of a man, says, the whole system is necessary, the eye cannot say to the hand “I have no need of you” in the body, for it is absolutely necessary there; neither can the head say to the feet “I have no need of you,” no, the feet are necessary; and even the most imperfect, or simplest member of the human system could not be dispensed with without making a schism in the body.  Says Paul, speaking to the Church–“You are the body of Christ, and members in particular. God has set in the church, first apostles, second prophets, after that teachers, workers of miracles, speakers with tongues, interpreters of tongues.” All these different ones are members of the body of Christ. Now, have we any right to say to the lowest of these members, “We have no need of you in the body?” Supposing the teacher should say to the speaker in tongues–“I have no need of you, now in the body, the Lord has a different kind of a body on the earth from what he had eighteen hundred years ago, and we do not need you now.” Another says to the interpreter of tongues–“We have persons who have studied all these languages, and we do not need a person to interpret tongues, by the Spirit, now; we can dispense with this principle from the body of Christ.” (JD 16:191)

It is essential that men look to God to overcome their own transgressions and the failings of their forefathers. By learning how to use the gifts of God, men can overcome many other failings just as they do the language problem.


[22]         The gift of tongues was a miracle, and many were converted because of the great power of God which was manifest on that day of Pentecost. However, the miracle of the gift of tongues is not as important as many other gifts; indeed it has often proven to be a snare. The Prophet Joseph Smith gives a beautiful discourse on these manifestations of the Spirit.

The Lord cannot always be known by the thunder of His voice, by the display of His glory or by the manifestation of His power; and those that are the most anxious to see these things, are the least prepared to meet them, and were the Lord to manifest His power as He did to the children of Israel, such characters would be the first to say, “Let not the Lord speak anymore, lest we His people die.”

We would say to the brethren, seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields.  Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over and for your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and everything that you engage in. Be virtuous and pure; be men of integrity and truth; keep the commandments of God; and then you will be able more perfectly to understand the difference between right and wrong–between the things of God and the things of men; and your path will be like that of the just, which shineth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.

Be not so curious about tongues; do not speak in tongues except there be an interpreter present; the ultimate design of tongues is to speak to foreigners, and if persons are very anxious to display their intelligence, let them speak to such in their own tongues.  The gifts of God are all useful in their place, but when they are applied to that which God does not intend, they prove an injury, a snare and a curse instead of a blessing.  We may some future time enter more fully into this subject, but shall let this suffice for the present.  (DHC 5:31)


[23]         These gifts are blessings given for a specific purpose-not particularly to be a “show and tell” miracle to prove that it is the only place where God is working.  Many men may be inspired, but will not demonstrate any show of miracles. The Prophet elaborates on this doctrine, too:

There is a difference between the kingdom of God and the fruits and blessings that flow from the kingdom; because there were more miracles, gifts, visions, healings, tongues, etc., in the days of Jesus Christ and His apostles, and on the day of Pentecost, than under John’s administration, it does not prove by any means that John had not the kingdom of God, any more than it would that a woman had not a milk pan because she had not a pan of milk, for while the pan might be compared to the kingdom, the milk might be compared to the blessings of the kingdom.  (DHC 5:258)



[24]                              Chapter 4



The gift of tongues is only one of many gifts that God has given to His people. Paul the Apostle listed it along with eight other spiritual gifts and powers (See 1 Cor. 12:8-10). The ancient prophet Moroni mentioned ten in his list of spiritual gifts (See Moroni 10:9-16.) Through a revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord listed 14 different gifts that could be enjoyed by His people:

  1. To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
  2.   To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
  3.   And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.
  4.   And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.
  5.   And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.
  6.   To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge.

[25]         19.  And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;

  1.   And to others it is given to have faith to heal.
  2.   And again, to some is given the working of miracles;
  3.   And to others it is given to prophesy;
  4.   And to others the discerning of spirits.
  5.   And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues;
  6.   And to another is given the interpretation of tongues.
  7.   And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.
  8.   And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.  (D.&C. 46:13-27)

The Lord gives the reason and purpose for these gifts:

  1. Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
  2.   For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts.
  3.   And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church.
  4.   For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
  5.   To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby. (D &C 46:8-12)


[26]         These spiritual gifts are bestowed by the Lord where they will serve His purposes and strengthen His cause in the gospel. It is essentially one of the means of edifying, instructing, comforting, and building faith. But the primary purpose of tongues is to convey intelligence–the words and the will of God.

It is a gift which accompanies the true gospel. It is, therefore, an evidence or a sign which follows the true believers of Christ.

The sects of Christendom claim to believe in the word of wisdom and of knowledge by that Spirit; but farther they will not go.  No healing, no tongues, no prophecy for them.  This is one of the things in which the “Mormons” believe too much in the Bible for the majority of professed Christians. The latter tells us that the Holy Ghost does not do these things now, but that it comes to us powerless, dead, as far as its action on the human family is concerned. Suppose you were to go to a hotel for dinner, and you were to be presented with a bill of fare on which you could read of the delicious viands, and after you had read it you were told that that was all you could have to satisfy your hunger. Would you think such a proceeding consistent? And yet today the Christian world is just as unreasonable in their demands upon the Latter-day Saints. They ask that we be satisfied with the spiritual bill of fare. But this is not in accordance with God’s law. His Gospel always has the same power and efficacy. (Life and Ministry of John Morgan, p. 461, 1888)

The gifts of God are blessings bestowed upon the people who honor God’s laws and commandments. They seem to be an evidence of His approval upon those who accept the words and ordinances of His true servants.


[27]         …and when Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them and they spake with tongues and prophesied.  (Acts 19:6)

However, it should be remembered that all gifts are not visible demonstrations of the power of God. Many gifts are not noticeable except to those who receive them. The Prophet Joseph Smith explains:

The Church is a compact body composed of different members, and is strictly analogous to the human system, and Paul, after speaking of the different gifts, says, “Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular; and God hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily Prophets, thirdly Teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all Teachers? Are all workers of miracles?  Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” It is evident that they do not; yet are they all members of one body. All members of the natural body are not the eye, the ear, the head or the hand–yet the eye cannot say to the ear I have no need of thee, nor the head to the foot, I have no need of thee; they are all so many component parts in the perfect machine–the one body; and if one member suffer, the whole of the members suffer with it:  and if one member rejoice, all the rest are honored with it.

These, then are all gifts; they come from God; they are of God; they are all the gifts of the Holy Ghost; they are what Christ ascended into heaven to impart; and yet how few of them could be known by the generality of men. * * *

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given unto every man to profit withal. For to one is given, by the Spirit, the word of wisdom, to another, the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the [28] interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self same spirit, dividing to each man severally as he will.

There are several gifts mentioned here, yet which of them all could be known by an observer at the imposition of hands? The word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge, are as much gifts as any other, yet if a person possessed both of these gifts, or received them by the imposition of hands, who would know it? Another might receive the gift of faith, and they would be as ignorant of it.  Or suppose a man had the gift of healing or power to work miracles, that would not then be known; it would require time and circumstances to call these gifts into operation. Suppose a man had the discerning of spirits, who would be the wiser for it? Or if he had the interpretation of tongues, unless someone spoke in an unknown tongue, he of course would have to be silent; there are only two gifts that could be made visible–the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy. These are things that are the most talked about, and yet if a person spoke in an unknown tongue, according to Paul’s testimony, he would be a barbarian to those present. They would say that it was gibberish; and if he prophesied they would call it nonsense. The gift of tongues is the smallest gift perhaps of the whole, and yet it is one that is the most sought after. (DHC 5:28-30)

There are many reasons for these gifts–one of which, according to Orson Pratt, is that they are essential to the Church:

And they now say–“Give us all these gifts. If we have a Church, let us have inspired Apostles and Prophets in that Church, for without them the Saints cannot be made perfect.”

They are given, also says Paul, not only for the perfecting of the Saints, but for the work of the ministry. How can the work of the ministry proceed without Apostles and Prophets?  It cannot proceed. They are given for the edifying of the body of Christ, [29] says the Apostle. How can the body of Christ be edified without Apostles and Prophets, and the gifts mentioned?  And again, he says, They are given in order that the Church may become perfect, that is, that its members may grow up into perfect men, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  Without these gifts the Church never can grow up; it has nothing to edify or perfect it, nothing to do the Saints any good, but with these gifts they may be perfected, and grow to the stature of the fulness of Christ. (JD 16:296)

Elder Pratt elaborated on the reasons and blessings that result from the gifts of the Spirit:

Now then, if I receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, or if my brethren receive it, I should expect that we would receive the manifestations of these gifts, one receiving one gift and another another, according to the Bible pattern. If we did not receive these gifts, then we might doubt that we had received the Holy Spirit. * * *

If we have them, we may be assured that the Holy Ghost has been given to us. For instance, if a person receives the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, and the heavens are opened to him he is not mistaken. If the Lord inspires him to lay hands upon a sick child or a sick person, and he commands the disease to be removed, he knows that God is with him, and that he hearkens to the supplications and prayers which he offers in the name of Jesus in behalf of the sick. If a person has the vision of his mind opened to behold the future and to know that which will shortly come to pass, and he sees things fulfilled, from time to time, he has every reason to believe that he has really received the Holy Ghost. So in regard to speaking in tongues. If an illiterate, uneducated man, who never understood any language but his mother tongue, is inspired at the very moment to rise and testify in an unknown tongue and to  proclaim the wonderful works of God, he knows whether his tongue has been used by a supernatural power, or whether it is merely gibberish out of his own [30] heart. He knows it very well for himself; and so we might continue throughout all the gifts mentioned in the Bible. (JD 16:216)

There are many blessings to be enjoyed by the Lord’s people through these gifts of God. They should be expected and then magnified when received, without doubt or rejection. With them the Church can be edified and strengthened, but without them it will wander in darkness.



[31]                              Chapter 5



In some modern Pentecostal churches the mumbling or speaking in some unknown tongue is their claim to having the Holy Ghost. In the Catholic Church the priest speaks Latin which is supposed to be evidence of using tongues in the church.

But the real object of talking in a foreign tongue is to speak to the understanding of people of another nationality. The Prophet Joseph said:

Tongues were given for the purpose of preaching among those whose language is not understood; as on the Day of Pentecost, etc., and it is not necessary for tongues to be taught to the Church particularly, for any man that has the Holy Ghost, can speak of the things of God in his own tongue as well as to speak in another; for faith comes not by signs, but by the hearing the word of God.  (TPJS, p. 149)

The gift of tongues is not expressly given for signs or qualifications, but rather to help the servants of God convey an important message to foreigners. Orson Pratt elaborates:

…The benefit of this miraculous sign is obvious to everyone. If a servant of God were under the necessity of acquiring in the ordinary way a knowledge of languages, a large portion of his time would be unprofitably occupied.  While he was spending  years to [32] learn the language of a people sufficiently accurately to preach the glad tidings of salvation unto them, thousands would be perishing for the want of the knowledge.  If he could be endowed immediately by the power of the Holy Ghost to speak in any language necessary, how much laborious study would be avoided!  How much time would be saved that could be occupied more usefully in the spread of the gospel!  How much more accurately would principles be expressed, when, not only ideas, but the language itself is given by the Holy Ghost!  How vastly superior is God’s plan of qualifying His servants to preach in different languages and tongues, to the plans adopted by modern divines! The servant of God is qualified in a moment, as it were, to preach by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the language of any people to whom he may be sent; while modern divines will throw away years in acquiring the knowledge of a language; and when they have acquired it, they cannot preach in it by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, but are still dependent upon their own learning and wisdom.

In one day the unlearned fishermen of Galilee acquired a more extensive qualification for preaching in the different languages of the earth, than all the various grades and ranks of clergymen who have disgraced the name of Christianity on the eastern hemisphere for the last seventeen centuries.  The gift of tongues was not confined to the ministers of Christ alone, but it was bestowed liberally upon the private members of the Church.  Indeed, it was one of the signs promised to believers throughout all the world.  (Orson Pratt’s Works, p. 84)

For a true servant of the Lord, the gift of tongues requires faith and the Spirit of God. The more diligent, humble, and faithful that servant becomes, the more qualified he is to receive that and other spiritual gifts. Orson Pratt explained:

…This gift, like all other gifts of the spirit, is obtained by faith. When a servant of God is called to go to a foreign nation, he is not only to exercise faith [33] enough to perform the journey, but when he arrives he is also to exercise faith to speak in a foreign tongue. Without faith and exertion, he could not properly obtain the gift of preaching, by the power of the Holy Ghost, even in his own tongue; much less, without mighty faith and great exertion or works could he expect to speak by the inspiration of the Comforter in a foreign language.  (Mill. Star, 28:516)

The Prophet Joseph Smith once saw Brigham Young in a vision talking to the Indians in their own tongue.  This was literally fulfilled when the Saints came west and made settlements throughout the southern parts of Utah.  Brigham Young’s gift of tongues may have saved many Indian uprisings, and perhaps much bloodshed, as described in the following letter:


Brigham Young and the Gift of Tongues.

Editor, Improvement Era, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Dear Sir:

I am writing to you in relation to an incident that happened in the life of President Brigham Young, in the early settlement of Utah; and of which I find no mention in Church history.  Along about 1890, Jesse W. Fox, Sr., who was in early days the principal surveyor of Utah’s settlements, both North and South, accompanied President Young on his trips and laid out the principal towns of our state. Brother Fox related to me about the time above mentioned, that he had heard President Young on two or three occasions talk to the Indians in their own tongue.

The Indians were at different times quite opposed to the Mormons settling Southern Utah. President Young often said, “It is better to feed the Indians, than to fight them.” And in order to carry out this policy a number of talks were had with the Indian Chiefs. It was in these talks that President Young had the “Gift of Tongues” made manifest.

The conversations I had with Jesse W. Fox were at the old County Court House, corner 2nd South and 1st [34] West. At that time I was County Collector for Salt Lake County. Brother Fox often came in my office and related to me many incidents of the early settlement of Utah.

Some ten or twelve years ago these conversations were brought forcibly to my mind while reading the Church History by Roberts. In Volume 2, page 381, I find the following: The Prophet Joseph Smith says, “I saw Brigham Young standing in a strange land in the far South and West in a desert place in the midst of about a dozen men of color who appeared angry.  Brother Young spoke to them in their own tongue.” In reading this vision of the Prophet, the incidents of our early history, as related to me by Brother Fox, were brought to my mind quite forcibly. Also, Jesse W. Fox, Jr., stated to me when I asked him if he had ever heard his father mention hearing of Brigham Young talk in tongues to the Indians, that he had heard his father mention that he had on several occasions.

About a year ago I got in conversation with an old-timer who was in the southern part of our state in 1870 as a missionary. This man was Caleb D. Brinton, now in his 84th year.  He was at the town of Kanab. After talking with Elder Brinton about Indian affairs at that time, and finding that he was quite well-posted, I obtained the following affidavit from him; of which this is a copy:

September 15th, 1932

Salt Lake City.

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to certify that the undersigned, in connection with Jacob Hamblin and Ammon Tenney, were located at Kanab, Utah, as missionaries, when President Brigham Young, in connection with Jesse W. Fox, Sr., visited the town.

Black Hawk, an Indian Chief, also some other chiefs were camped near there.  Black Hawk and his followers had been on the “warpath” for some time, and President Young was desirous of meeting him with a view of coming to some understanding as to peaceful settling of the south part of the state.

[35]         Jacob Hamblin, an Indian interpreter, was with the party, and while they were trying to parley with the chiefs, President Young commenced to talk to them in their own tongue, and continued to do so for a period of time estimated by me to be 20 or 30 minutes.  This incident was quite a surprise to all of us, as we knew that President Young did not know their language.

At the beginning of this talk, the Indians manifested considerable anger. However, at the conclusion of this parley, the Indians seemed to be appeased; for shortly after this incident, the Black Hawk War, as it was termed, ended.



L.G. Hardy

Caleb D. Brinton

Resident – No. 5, Bodell Apts.

155 North Main Street

Salt Lake City, Utah

The foregoing narration seems to me to be of sufficient interest to publish as a faith-promoting incident, as it verifies the vision the Prophet Joseph Smith had in relation to the “gift of tongues” being used by Brigham Young to appease the anger of men of color (the Indians) in the far south and west.

This vision was given to the Prophet in Kirtland, Ohio.  Kanab would correspond to the place described.

Yours truly,

L.G. Hardy

1984 South 7th East

Salt Lake City, Utah

(Imp. Era 37:432)

Promises regarding the gift of tongues are made throughout the scriptures. It is an evidence of the gifts and powers of the Spirit of God; and when the people of the Church live so as to qualify themselves to receive the Holy Spirit, then those gifts will accompany them. In 1900 Anthon H. Lund said:


[36]         …These gifts which the book mentions should be found in the Church; my testimony to you is that they are found in the Church. Talking in tongues has been very common in the Church. Nearly all the members have at some time or another heard this gift, as well as the interpretation of tongues. Some may say, but how can we judge whether this is a true tongue or not? You can judge by the Holy Spirit whether it is prompted by that Spirit or not. There have been times when the proof of the tongue spoken has been overwhelming. When President Peterson of the Sanpete Stake was a young man he attended a meeting in Illinois. There were many present, and the Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon the Saints in a great measure.  He felt urged by the Spirit to talk in tongues. When he sat down a young girl arose and interpreted it. She was but seventeen years of age, perhaps younger, and she interpreted what Brother Peterson had spoken. Some of the brethren there, in good standing but who afterwards left the Church, were told that if they did not take heed they would apostatize, and that the balance of the branch should emigrate to the West and travel in wagons like houses, across large plains.  This was the interpretation of the tongue.  They did not then know that there would come a time when they should travel in covered wagons and go to the west. But a remarkable thing happened at that meeting. Two young girls that had been stolen while children, by the Indians, and had been brought back by the government, were present. They heard Brother Peterson speak in tongues, and they declared that he spoke in an Indian tongue, which they had heard before, and they understood most of it, though they said he spoke it better than they ever heard the chiefs speak it, and the young girl, they said, had translated what they understood correctly. This is a great testimony of the truth of that gift, and many other instances could be mentioned, showing that this gift is in the Church. The gift of prophecy we know is in the Church.  How many of the prophecies of our beloved Prophet Joseph Smith have not been fulfilled to the very letter? You take the book of Doctrine and Covenants, and you will find [37] there many prophecies that have been fulfilled already, and many relating to time yet to come, which we believe will be fulfilled just as literally as have those that have already been fulfilled. Let me read a few words of a revelation given March, 1831, some eleven months after the Church was organized. In talking about what should come to pass, the Lord revealed to Joseph:

“But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.

Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed.”

This was many years before the Latter-day Saints were driven from the States, and it talks in such plain terms concerning the gathering.  The gathering is a unique principle in this Church, one that is not found in other churches.  It is referred to in the Book of Mormon, and in the early revelations to the Church it is given to the people in great plainness.  We are told in some of the revelations that the people should be gathered from all nations unto this land, which should be the land of Zion When we now read about this, it may not seem so remarkable. But let us put ourselves back to the time when the Church numbered but a few members and was hardly known outside of a few counties, and remember that then the Lord told the Prophet that the work should be known in other lands and that the people should be gathered from all nations, and it becomes, indeed, marvelous unto us.  Gradually our missionaries are reaching the different nations of the earth, if not yet from every nation. Our missionaries are going in faith, proclaiming the truth.  They are reaching one people after another. Nearly every nation in Europe has had the Gospel offered to them.  I was reading a letter last night which Brother Hintze had received from Athens, Greece, a country where we have not yet done much missionary labor. Brother Hintze went there and preached the Gospel and the seed sown is germinating, and they want to be informed concerning the truth. Certain principles have [38] struck them as true; others they do not understand yet. In the Donau principalities we have a man laboring, who has already baptized several persons, and it will not be long before it can be said that all nations in Europe have been informed concerning the Gospel. And the myriads in Asia and Africa will yet have to hear the Gospel.  The Lord is in His marvelous way preparing a way for the Gospel to be taught to men. I rejoice in contemplating the dealings of the Lord with this work of His, and my testimony to you is that God has established this work, and that He will see that it shall triumph in the earth. God bless you all, Amen. (Conf. Rept, April, 1900, pp. 32-34)

When God wishes to convey a message to a people with a different language, He gives His servants the power to convey that information without wasting their time in language schools.  God caused the division of languages, so He can cause them to be mended as well. God’s bestowal of a particular spiritual gift to His chosen people is predicated upon the mission or work that needs to be accomplished at the time.



[39]                              Chapter 6



Within the Articles of Faith of the Mormon Church is the statement indicating a belief in spiritual gifts. Article 7 states, “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.” Thus with the restoration of the Gospel, the same gifts and powers were restored with it.

The Prophet Joseph Smith commented on these gifts in a clear and decisive manner, explaining the nature and need for them:


We believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost being enjoyed now, as much as it was in the Apostles’ days; we believe now that it [the gift of the Holy Ghost] is necessary to make and to organize the Priesthood, that no man can be called to fill any office in the ministry without it; we also believe in prophecy, in tongues, in visions, and in revelations, in gifts, and in healings; and that these things cannot be enjoyed without the gift of the Holy Ghost. We believe that the holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and that holy men in these days speak by the same principle; we believe in its being a comforter and a witness bearer, that it brings things past to our remembrance, leads us into all truth, and shows us of things to come; we believe that “no man can know that Jesus is the Christ, but by the Holy Ghost.” We believe in it [the gift of the Holy Ghost] in all its fulness, and [40] power, and greatness, and glory; but whilst we do this, we believe in it rationally, consistently, and scripturally, and not according to the wild vagaries, foolish notions and traditions of men.

The human family are very apt to run to extremes, especially in religious matters, and hence people in general either want some miraculous display, or they will not believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost at all. If an Elder lays his hands upon a person, it is thought by many that the person must immediately rise and speak in tongues and prophesy; this idea is gathered from the circumstance of Paul laying his hands upon certain individuals who had been previously (as they stated) baptized unto John’s baptism; which when he had done, they “spake in tongues and prophesied.” Philip also, when he had preached the Gospel to the inhabitants of the city of Samaria, sent for Peter and John, who when they came laid their hands upon them for the gift of the Holy Ghost; for as yet he was fallen upon none of them; and when Simon Magus saw that through the laying on of the Apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money that he might possess the same power (Acts viii). These passages are considered by many as affording sufficient evidence for some miraculous, visible manifestation, whenever hands are laid on for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

We believe that the Holy Ghost is imparted by the laying on of hands of those in authority, and that the gift of tongues, and also the gift of prophecy are gifts of the Spirit, and are obtained through that medium; but then to say that men always prophesied and spoke in tongues when they had the imposition of hands, would be to state that which is untrue, contrary to the practice of the Apostles, and at variance with holy writ; for Paul says, “To one is given the gift of tongues, to another the gift of prophecy, and to another the gift of healing,” and again:  “Do all prophesy? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” evidently showing that all did not possess these several gifts; but that one received one gift, and another received another gift–all did not prophesy, all did not speak in tongues, all [41] did not work miracles; but all did receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; sometimes they spake in tongues and prophesied in the Apostles’ days, and sometimes they did not. The same is the case with us also in our administrations, while more frequently there is no manifestation at all; that is visible to the surrounding multitude; this will appear plain when we consult the writings of the Apostles, and notice their proceedings in relation to this matter. Paul, in 1st Cor. xii, says, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant,” it is evident from this, that some of them were ignorant in relation to these matters, or they would not need instruction.”  (D.H.C. 5:27-28)

One of the first recorded accounts of speaking in tongues in this dispensation occurred with the conversion of Brigham Young. He heard the story of the restoration of the gospel from Mormon Elders and believed their testimony.  This was in the fall of 1831 at Mendon, New York, a few miles from Rochester. In April of 1832, Brigham Young was baptized by Eleazer Miller.  In September his wife Miriam died; so he made his home with Heber C. Kimball.  In that same month Brigham Young, his brother Joseph, and Heber C. Kimball left for Kirtland to meet the Prophet Joseph Smith. In his own history Brigham Young records the events of that occasion:

A few weeks after my baptism I was at Brother Kimball’s house one morning, and while family prayer was being offered up, Brother Alpheus Gifford commenced speaking in tongues. Soon the Spirit came on me, and I spoke in tongues, and we thought only of the day of Pentecost, when the Apostles were clothed upon with cloven tongues of fire.

In September, 1832, Brother Heber C. Kimball took his horse and wagon, Brother Joseph Young and myself accompanying him, and started for Kirtland to see the Prophet Joseph.  We visited many friends on the way, and some branches of the Church. We exhorted them and prayed with them, and I spoke in tongues. [42] Some pronounced it genuine and from the Lord, and others pronounced it of the Devil.

We proceeded to Kirtland and stopped at John P. Greene’s, who had just arrived there with his family.  We rested a few minutes, took some refreshment, and started to see the Prophet. We went to his father’s house and learned that he was in the woods, chopping. We immediately repaired to the woods, where we found the Prophet, and two or three of his brothers, chopping and hauling wood.  Here my joy was full at the privilege of shaking the hand of the Prophet of God, and I received the sure testimony, by the Spirit of prophecy, that he was all that any man could believe him to be, as a true Prophet.  He was happy to see us, and bid us welcome. We soon returned to his house, he accompanying us.

In the evening a few of the brethren came in, and we conversed together upon the things of the kingdom. He called upon me to pray; in my prayer I spoke in tongues. As soon as we arose from our knees the brethren flocked around him, and asked his opinion concerning the gift of tongues that was upon me. He told them it was the pure Adamic language.  Some said to him they expected he would condemn the gift Brother Brigham had, but he said, “No, it is of God, and the time will come when Brother Brigham Young will preside over this Church.” The latter part of this conversation was in my absence. (Mill. Star 25:439)

The Prophet Joseph wrote of this incident:

At one of our interviews, Brother Brigham Young and John P. Greene spoke in tongues, which was the first time I had heard this gift among the brethren; others also spoke, and I received the gift myself. (D.H.C I:296)

Heber C. Kimball at a later date told the same story:


[43]         In the month of April, 1832, we were all baptized. That church in Pennsylvania was the first that received the gift of tongues. We received them next and carried them to Kirtland, and it was then the Prophet heard the tongues for the first time. He acknowledged the gift to be of God. (Remarks made by Heber C. Kimball, Nauvoo, Ill., Jan. 8, 1845. The Utah Gen. and Hist. Mag., July 1920, p. 113)

Brigham Young’s brother related the same incident:

The congregation was at the time in a kneeling posture.  As soon as Brother Brigham had concluded his prayer, the Prophet rose to his feet and invited them to rise and be seated. Joseph then addressed them, and said:

“Brethren, this tongue that was heard is the gift of God, for He has made it known unto me, and I shall never oppose anything that comes from Him. I feel the spirit that Brother Brigham has manifested in this gift of tongues, and I wish to speak myself in the tongue that it will please the Lord to give me.” He accordingly spoke in what may be called an open and fluent language; more so than was commonly heard. He occupied some minutes in the exercise of the gift. After he had concluded he said, “Brethren, this is the language of our Father Adam while he dwelt in Eden; and the time will again come, that when the Lord brings again Zion, the Zion of Enoch, this people will then all speak the language which I have just spoken.” (Joseph Young, Historical Items, Nov. 1, 1878)

Jedediah Grant mentions the impact of these experiences by  stating:

I remember well, when a boy, of hearing Brother Brigham speak in tongues, and the effect it produced I shall never forget; I could feel the spirit, although I did [44] not fully understand the tongue. I have heard others speak in tongues, but it had not the same effect, and I have marked the different impressions received under different individuals. (JD 3:8)


The gift of tongues was quite commonly bestowed upon many members of the Church, and along with other spiritual gifts, was a great blessing for the Saints. Sarah Leavitt recorded how that gift was enjoyed in their meetings:

We never had lived where there was a branch of the church, but we got together every week and had prayer meetings and the Lord was with us and poured out His spirit upon us in so much that they spoke in tongues and prophesied.  The children took an active part in these meetings.  They would talk in tongues and prophecy and it was interpreted.  We depended on no leader but the Lord, and He led us into all truth; the sick were healed as often as any were taken sick. (Sarah Leavitt Journal, p. 18)

George A. Smith mentioned that the gift of tongues was present while the Saints anticipated preaching to the Lamanites:

In the early years of the church, there was a great anxiety among the brethren to travel and preach the Gospel among the Lamanites, but the rigid laws of the United States at that time, prevented any intercourse with them. The brethren used to feel animated upon the subject; they would speak in tongues and prophesy, and rejoice exceedingly in the things that were about to transpire, or that they believed would transpire when they should be permitted to go and preach the Gospel to the Lamanites. (JD 3:23)

A few of many other interesting accounts of the gift of tongues recorded in Church history are included here:


[45]         Tuesday, October 29, 1833–After preaching at 10 o’clock a.m., I baptized two, and confirmed them at the water’s side.  Last evening we ordained F.A. Nickerson an Elder;  and one of the sisters received the gift of tongues, which made the Saints rejoice exceedingly. (D.H.C. 1:422)

* * *

While the press and many of the public were breathing the spirit of bitterness against the work of God, I received letters from many of our friends, which gave us occasion for rejoicing: amongst them, I extract from Brother Moses Chapman Nickerson’s letter of December 20, 1833:

“Your labors in Canada have been the beginning of a good work; there are thirty-four members attached to the Church at Mount Pleasant, all of whom appear to live up to their profession, five of whom have spoken in tongues, and three have sung in tongues; and we live at the top of the mountain.” (Feb. 1834, D.H.C. 2:40)

* * *

Luke S. Johnson’s Blessing:–Our Father in heaven, look down in mercy upon us, and upon this Thy servant, whom we ordain to the ministry of the Twelve.  He shall be prepared and preserved, and be like those we have blessed before him. The nations shall tremble before him. He shall hear the voice of God; he shall comfort the hearts of the Saints always. The angels shall bear him up till he shall finish his ministry.  He shall be delivered, and come forth with Israel.  He shall bear testimony to the kings of the earth, and hold communion with the Father, with the Son, and with the general assembly and Church of the first-born.  If cast into prison, he shall be able to comfort the hearts of his comrades. His tongue shall be loosed, and he shall have power to lead many to Zion, and sit down with them; the Ancient of Days shall pronounce this blessing, that he has been faithful; he shall have strength, wisdom, and power; he shall go among the covenant people and speak all their tongues where he shall [46] go. All these blessings we confirm upon him in the name of Jesus.  Amen.  (Feb. 1835, D.H.C. 2:190)


* * *

The Twelve then proceeded to anoint and bless the Presidency of the Seventy and seal upon their heads power and authority to anoint their brethren.

The heavens were opened unto Elder Sylvester Smith, and he, leaping up, exclaimed: “The horsemen of Israel and the chariots thereof.”

Brother Don C. Smith was also anointed blessed to preside over the High Priest’s quorum.

President Rigdon arose to conclude the services of the evening by invoking the blessing of heaven upon the Lord’s anointed, which he did in an eloquent manner; the congregation shouted a long hosanna:  the gift of tongues fell upon us in mighty power, angels mingled their voices with ours, while their presence was in our midst, and unceasing praises swelled our bosoms for the space of half-an-hour. (Jan. 1836, D.H.C. 2:383)


* * *

Alpheus Gifford in 1831, heard of the doctrines of Joseph Smith and–

…made diligent inquiry and found they were scriptural and was baptized and ordained a priest; he brought home five books of Mormon which he distributed among his friends; he was then living in Tioga County, Pennsylvania.  Soon after he went to Kirtland, Ohio, to see the Prophet Joseph Smith and the brethren, when he was ordained an elder; he was accompanied by his brother Levi, Elial Strong, Eleazer Miller, Eos Curtis, and Abraham Brown, who were baptized.  On returning to Pennsylvania he preached and baptized many, among whom was Heber C. Kimball.  The gifts of the Gospel were enjoyed by many; signs followed those who believed; devils were cast out; the sick were healed; many prophesied; some spake [47] with new tongues; while others interpreted the same. Mr. Calvin Gilmour, with whom Brother Gifford had previously been associated in preaching, heard him speak in tongues and interpret. Gilmour declared he understood the languages and that they were interpreted correctly, and that he knew Gifford had no classical learning; but that he would rather be damned than believe in Mormonism. (D.H.C. 4:110, footnote)

* * *

… notwithstanding all my labor, while I was in the east room with the Bishops’ quorum, I felt, by the Spirit, that something was wrong in the quorum of Elders in the west room, and I immediately requested Presidents Oliver Cowdery and Hyrum Smith to go in and see what was the matter. The quorum of Elders had not observed the order which I had given them, and were reminded of it by President Don Carlos Smith, and mildly requested to preserve order, and continue in prayer. Some of them replied that they had a teacher of their own, and did not wish to be troubled by others. This caused the Spirit of the Lord to withdraw; this interrupted the meeting, and this quorum lost their blessing in a great measure.

The other quorums were more careful, and the quorum of the Seventy enjoyed a great flow of the Holy Spirit. Many arose and spoke, testifying that they were filled with the Holy Ghost, which was like fire in their bones, so that they could not hold their peace, but were constrained to cry hosanna to God and the Lamb, and glory in the highest.

President William Smith, one of the Twelve, saw a vision of the Twelve, and Seven in council together, in old England, and prophesied that a great work would be done by them in the old countries, and God was already beginning to work in the hearts of the people.

President Zebedee Coltrin, one of the Seven, saw a visit of the Lord’s host.  And others were filled with the Spirit, and spake with tongues and prophesied. This was a time of rejoicing long to be remembered. (Feb. 1836, D.H.C. 2:392)


[48]                                * * *

I met the quorums in the evening and instructed them respecting the ordinance of washing of feet, which they were to attend to on Wednesday following; and gave them instructions in relation to the spirit of prophecy, and called upon the congregation to speak, and not to fear to prophesy good concerning the Saints, for if you prophesy the falling of these hills and the rising of the kingdom of God, it shall come to pass.  Do not quench the Spirit, for the first one that opens his mouth shall receive the Spirit of prophecy.

Brother George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation.  The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place.  This continued until the meeting closed at eleven p.m.

The number of official members present on this occasion was four hundred and sixteen, being a greater number than ever assembled on any former occasion.  (March 1836, D.H.C. 2:428)

Part of the prayer that Joseph Smith received by revelation and offered during the Kirtland Temple dedication was as follows:

Jehovah, have mercy upon this people, and as all men sin, forgive the transgressions of Thy people, and let them be blotted out forever.

Let the anointing of Thy ministers be sealed upon them with power from on high;

Let it be fulfilled upon them, as upon those on the [49] day of Pentecost; let the gift of tongues be poured out upon Thy people, even cloven tongues as of fire, and the interpretation thereof,

And let Thy house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind, with Thy glory. (March 27, 1836, D.H.C. 2:422)

The prayer was heard and accepted because two days later the prophet recorded:

I left the meeting in the charge of the Twelve, and retired about nine o’clock in the evening.  The brethren continued exhorting, prophesying, and speaking in tongues until five o’clock in the morning. The Savior made His appearance to some, while angels ministered to others, and it was a Pentecost and an endowment indeed, long to be remembered, for the sound shall go forth from this place into all the world, and the occurrences of this day shall be handed down upon the pages of sacred history, to all generations; as the day of Pentecost, so shall this day be numbered and celebrated as a year of jubilee, and time of rejoicing to the Saints of the Most High God. (March 29, 1836, D.H.C. 2:432-433)

* * *

Many are baptized every week, although the ice has to yield its natural claims, and be put aside. The gift of healing is manifested to quite an extent in this region. The gift of tongues is received in most of the branches where I am acquainted. (Feb. 1841, D.H.C. 4:297)

The gift of tongues was one of the gifts that gave Heber C. Kimball the confidence he needed to serve in this gospel.  He said:

I remember the time when I was baptized into the church, and how after I was baptized, Alpheus Gifford said he felt impressed to ordain me an elder. I was on [50] my knees and jumped up and told him to hold on; that I was not a learned man, and I thought that my ordination would injure the work. But presently the Holy Ghost came upon me till I thought that I should be burnt up.  I could speak in tongues and prophesy, and I understood the scriptures. (JD 12:191)

Although the gift of tongues and the interpretation thereof was a great blessing and comfort to the Saints, it also created problems for them. For those who despised Mormonism, it provided another reason to find fault with the relatively new church. According to Orson Pratt–

Inquires one–“Why were you driven from that land?” I might answer you by repeating the words of our enemies, for they have published their reasons for driving us from our homes. One reason was that we pretended to speak in tongues, which was considered a mortal offence against the religionists.  This was one accusation that they brought against us, as you will find in their published declarations, in which they pledged their lives, their property and their sacred honor to dispossess us of our homes.

Another accusation was that we professed to heal the sick. What a terrible crime it was for a man to lay his hands on sick persons and ask the Lord to heal them, and then if the Lord healed the sick they should not be worthy to keep their land, but should be driven from their homes and be deprived of their property!

Another reason was that, besides believing in the gifts of speaking in tongues and healing the sick, we assumed to foretell future events.  They did not like that at all.  To think that people should believe in that part of the gospel in the 19th century was too much for our enemies, and they said–“We cannot have such people in our midst, to corrupt our morals, and to introduce the old-fashioned religion that is taught in the New Testament.” (JD 17:293)


[51]         Although the Saints were driven into the wilderness, the gift of tongues faithfully followed them. Many Saints around the world were given that gift and it brought them into the Church. In their travels out west an interesting episode occurred with the Indians, near Council Bluffs, as written by a 17-year-old girl by the name of Jane Grover. She wrote in her journal:

One morning we thought we would go and gather gooseberries. Father Tanner (as we familiarly called the good patriarchal Elder Nathan Tanner), harnessed a span of horses to a light wagon, and, with two sisters by the name of Lyman, his little granddaughter, and me, started out. When we reached the woods we told the old gentleman to go to a house in sight and rest himself while we picked the berries.

It was not long before the little girl and I strayed some distance from

the rest, when suddenly we heard shouts.  The little girl thought it was her grandfather, and was about to answer, but I restrained her, thinking it might be Indians. We walked forward until within sight of Father Tanner, when we saw he was running his team around.  We thought nothing strange at first, but as we approached we saw Indians gathering around the wagon, whooping and yelling as others came and joined them. We got into the wagon to start when four of the Indians took hold of the wagon wheels to stop the wagon, and two others held the horses by the bits, and another came to take me out of the wagon.  I then began to be afraid as well as vexed, and asked Father Tanner to let me get out of the wagon and run for assistance. He said, “No, poor child; it is too late!”  I told him they should not take me alive.  His face was as white as a sheet. The Indians had commenced to strip him–had taken his watch and handkerchief–and while stripping him, were trying to pull me out of the wagon. I began silently to appeal to my Heavenly Father.  While praying and struggling, the spirit of the Almighty fell upon me and I arose with great power; and no tongue can tell my feelings. I was [52] happy as I could be.  A few moments before I saw worse than death staring me in the face, and now my hand was raised by the power of God, and I talked to those Indians in their own language. They let go the horses and wagon, and all stood in front of me while I talked to them by the power of God.  They bowed their heads and answered, `yes’, in a way that made me know what they meant. The little girl and Father Tanner looked on in speechless amazement. I realized our situation; their calculation was to kill Father Tanner, burn the wagon, and take us women prisoners.  This was plainly shown me. When I stopped talking they shook hands with all three of us, and returned all they had taken from Father Tanner, who gave them back the handkerchief, and I gave them berries and crackers. By this time the other two women came up, and we hastened home.

The Lord gave me a portion of the interpretation of what I had said, which was as follows:

“I suppose you Indian warriors think you are going to kill us?  Don’t you know the Great Spirit is watching you and knows everything in your heart?  We have come out here to gather some of our Father’s fruit.  We have not come to injure you; and if you harm us, or injure one hair of our heads, the Great Spirit shall smite you to the earth, and you shall not have power to breathe another breath.  We have been driven from our homes, and so have you; we have come out here to do you good, and not to injure you.  We are the Lord’s people and so are you; but you must cease your murders and wickedness; the Lord is displeased with it and will not prosper you if you continue in it.  You think you own all this land, this timber, this water, all the horses:  Why, you do not own one thing on earth, not even the air you breathe–it all belongs to the Great Spirit.” (Truth 10:138)

The gift of tongues has been manifested many times and for many reasons in this dispensation. It was indeed a beneficial gift that helped provide a strong spiritual foundation.



[53]                              Chapter 7



In the early rise of the Church, the gift of tongues was so commonplace that some were indulging in that gift too frequently.  Many Saints could speak with that gift at any time they chose.  Heber C. Kimball said that he and “Brother Brigham” could “speak the language” any time they desired, and that gift would never leave them as long as they lived worthy of the Spirit of God.  However, they did not often use this gift.

From the wise counsel of the Prophet Joseph, we may better understand the dangers and limitations of the gift of tongues:

If you have a matter to reveal, let it be in your own tongue; do not indulge too much in the exercise of the gift of tongues, or the devil will take advantage of the innocent and unwary. You may speak in tongues for your own comfort, but I lay this down for a rule, that if anything is taught by the gift of tongues, it is not to be received for doctrine. (TPJS, p. 229)

Speaking in tongues gives comfort to the person speaking. He is enjoying a gift of God and therefore feels blessed and is comforted to know that God has an interest and concern for him. Those who hear the gift exercised also feel a comfort in knowing that God is manifesting a special gift for their benefit. As one speaks with this gift, God will often [54] deliver a gospel message or some special instruction for those who hear. As with all of the gifts of God, the gift of tongues is attended with the Holy Spirit of God.

Early in Church history there occurred an example of the Spirit of God attending the Twelve in which the gift of tongues was manifest. Under the date of January 17, 1836, Joseph wrote:

Attended meeting at the school house at the usual hour; a large congregation assembled.  I proceeded to arrange the several quorums present, first the Presidency, then the Twelve, and the Seventy, who were present, also the councilors of Kirtland and Zion.

President Rigdon then arose and observed that instead of preaching, the time would be occupied by the Presidency and the Twelve, in speaking each in turn, until they had all spoken. The Lord poured out his Spirit upon us, and the brethren began to confess their faults one to the other, and the congregation was soon overwhelmed in tears, and some of our hearts were too big for utterance.  The gift of tongues came on us also, like the rushing of a mighty wind, and my soul was filled with the glory of God. (D H.C. 2:375-376)

On another occasion when the Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon the people, the gift of tongues accompanied it:

…in conference, on the 22nd day of January, I (Joseph Smith) spoke to the conference in another tongue, and was followed in the same gift by Brother Zebedee Coltrin, and he by Brother William Smith, after which the Lord poured out His Spirit in a miraculous manner, until all the Elders spake in tongues, and several members, both male and female, exercised the same gift. Great and glorious were the divine manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Praises were sung to God and the Lamb; speaking and praying, all [55] in tongues, occupied the conference until a late hour at night, so rejoiced were we at the return of these long absent blessings.

On the 23rd of January, we again assembled in conference; when, after much speaking, singing, praying, and praising God, all in tongues, we proceeded to the washing of feet (according to the practice recorded in the 13th Chapter of John’s Gospel), as commanded of the Lord.  (D.H.C. 1:323)

Again Joseph writes:

This winter (1832-1833) was spent in translating the Scriptures, in the School of the Prophets, and sitting in conferences, I had many glorious seasons of refreshing. The gifts which follow them that believe and obey the Gospel, as tokens that the Lord is ever the same in his dealings with the humble lovers and followers of truth, began to be poured out among us, as in ancient days. (D.H.C. 1:322)

When the gift of tongues comes to an individual, he usually feels reluctant to manifest it, yet he feels the desire to do as acted upon lest he grieve the Holy Spirit.

Grieve not the Holy Spirit. When the spirit of prophecy, revelation, visions, tongues, interpretation, healing, etc., is made manifest among the brethren, and especially on the first reception of these gifts by an individual, or any particular branch of the Church, and the souls of the Saints are expanded by the spirit of these gifts, and their hearts almost ready to burst with gratitude for the blessings they enjoy, and they are anxiously desiring that all should become partakers of the same blessings which they possess; it is very easy for them to give some sign or token of the power of God to those around them; and they feel that it is the Spirit of God moving them thus to act, and if they keep silence, they fear they grieve the Spirit. * * *

[56]         In no one thing, perhaps, are the Saints more afraid of grieving the Spirit than in keeping silence when the spirit of tongues is upon them, and especially when they have recently received this gift; and, as this gift is now becoming common in the church in England; and, as the Saints, many times, are so fearful of grieving the Spirit by refraining from speaking, we would recommend them to give heed to the admonitions written by Paul concerning this matter, so that their understandings may become enlightened, and thus, acting in wisdom, they may be delivered from this fear.  1 Cor. 14 ch. 14 v.  “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” 19 v. “I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” 27 v. “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let one interpret” 28 v. “And if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak unto himself, and unto God.” 23 v. “If the church be come together, and all speak with tongues, will not the unlearned, or unbelievers say ye are mad.” 27 v.  “Tongues are for a sign to them that believe not.” True, but to whom is the sign; to those of their own tongue or nation, or of some other nation?  In the 21st v. of the same chapter the law is quoted, “with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people,” by foreigners or those of other languages; and this is the great and important use of tongues, that the elders of Israel may preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, so that all men may hear in their own tongue or language of the wonderful works of God, as some few did on the day of Pentecost. But will all believe the sign?  Let the Lord answer, for he saith, in the same verse, “for all that, they will not hear me,” and this agrees with what Abraham told the rich man in torment, “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead,” and no one will suppose the speaking in tongues a greater miracle, or more likely to convince the unbeliever, than the resurrection of a dead man.

[57]         With these few hints, we counsel the Saints to strive earnestly for the best gifts – the gifts of charity, wisdom, and knowledge–and seek to edify and comfort each other in your own tongue generally; and if you speak at all in an unknown tongue, pray for the interpretation thereof, that all things may be done to edification; but never give out appointments for speaking in tongues, for the purpose of calling the people together; neither speak in tongues to an assembly who have come together for the purpose of hearing you thus speak; neither speak to any one for a sign, on any occasion, for this is not pleasing in the sight of heaven. But let the sign remain with those to whom it belongs–to yourselves alone before God, and to the nations of other languages; and by so doing, whatever may be your feelings, you will not quench the Spirit of the Lord, but the spirit of the Devil; and in this we will rejoice, and God will bless you. (Mill. Star 1:127)

One lady, a Mrs. Letty Dudley, had received this gift but also entertained doubts as to its genuineness. An elder laboring near her home was a witness to a remarkable manifestation which convinced her that her gift was true and genuine.

In the summer of 1842, I was a traveling Elder in North Wales preaching the gospel. My labors extended through Denhighshire, Flintshire and Montgomeryshire. In the course of my travels I was frequently entertained with food and lodging at the home of a Brother John Dudley, who lived some three miles from Welspool, Montgomeryshire. His wife, Sister Letty Dudley, in fulfillment of the promise of the Lord, that those who believe the gospel shall receive certain spiritual gifts (Mark XVI:17,18), had received the gift of tongues, and frequently exercised herself therein.  She, however, had some doubts in her own mind as to the genuineness of the tongue she had received, that is, as to its being a gift to speak a language, which, while [58] unknown to her could still be understood by others. An incident happened, however, of which I was a personal witness, which set all her doubts at rest.

One day as I sat in the house of Brother Dudley conversing with him, the front door overlooking the turnpike road being open, I saw three men, apparently sailors, walking down the road; when they reached Brother Dudley’s gate, perhaps some twenty rods from the house, two of them entered and approached the house, while the third, whom now I could see was a black man while his companions were white, remained at the gate. The two who came to the house represented that they were shipwrecked sailors, and were begging their way to some town, the name of which I do not now remember.  Sister Dudley, at their request, gave them something to eat; and while they were eating I asked them who their black companion was at the gate, and they replied that he was a native of the Caribbean Islands. “Does he speak English?” I inquired.  “Not a word,” they answered. “When you go to the gate,” I said, “tell him to come to the house.”  I had received an impression that Sister Dudley, through him, would be able to receive an assurance that the tongue she had received was genuine. When the Caribbean came to the house, Sister Dudley gave him some bread and milk, and as he ate it she stood leaning against the doorpost regarding him very intently.  When the man finished eating I said to Sister Dudley, “Now is your chance to test your new tongue.” She replied, “I do not like to try it.”  But I urged her to put it to the test, and presently she began to speak in the tongue that had been given her.  When she began to speak, the black man arose from his chair with the most profound astonishment I ever saw on a man’s face.  He listened to her in silence for a while, and then he commenced to talk in his native language. When he stopped Sister Dudley began again, and thus they continued to converse with each other for some fifteen minutes. At last the Caribbean shook hands with her and joined his companions.

As the black man left the house, Brother Dudley turned to his wife and said, “Letty, I hope you will never [59] doubt again.” She replied, “No, I never shall, John.” (St. Geo., 6/21/1898; Charles S.Smith, Imp. Era, 1:725)

The many accounts of the gift of tongues giving instruction and comfort are too numerous to mention. However, we have a few recorded instances which illustrate the beautiful promises fulfilled in the manifestation of this gift.

Although born and reared in the Church, I had never had the privilege of hearing the gift of tongues manifested prior to my missionary call. On one occasion while in the field, I felt a peculiar desire to hear the gift. Six of the Elders were holding a Priesthood meeting. Before the meeting opened I had besought the Lord to bless a certain Elder (naming him) with the gift of tongues during the meeting we were about to hold. In the meeting, while addressing the brethren on the gifts and blessings promised to the Saints, I offered a silent prayer that the Lord would bless this particular Elder with the gift of tongues. Almost instantly he was raised to his feet by the power of God and spoke in an unknown tongue, even before I had taken my seat. Very vividly do I recall with what unspeakable joy I realized that before me stood a servant of God clothed upon with the Holy Ghost, speaking as did the apostles of old upon the day of Pentecost. Tears of joy sprang to our eyes and we felt that we were indeed baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. And, when the interpretation was given by the same power in answer to our humble petitions, we felt we could go forth and testify that we knew of a surety that the gifts and blessings of old were restored, for we had tasted of the heavenly gift.

My mind reverted back a year and a half when the Lord had blessed me with the spirit of prophecy and before thirty-six elders of our conference I had prophesied that we would yet go forth and speak with tongues and prophesy, and heal the sick by the power of God, and build branches of the Church in many parts of that land, I realized that here was at least a partial fulfillment.

[60]         Afterwards I witnessed these blessings poured out in abundance, and I wish to bear my humble testimony to the youth of Israel that I know that the signs do follow the believers in this age and that the God of Heaven has restored the Holy Priesthood to earth again, and that the Gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation. (Manitoba, Canada, Ezra C. Robinson, Imp. Era 3:30)

* * *

January 1, 1899:  I went to Farmington to fast meeting. The house was crowded. Five patriarchs were present, also Apostle John W. Taylor, three of the patriarchs, John Kynaston, Edwin Pace, Jared Tolman, all of Bountiful, also Thomas Steed, spoke in tongues and the interpretation was given to all by John Kynaston and Mrs. Nellie Taylor. Many powerful testimonies were borne to the truth of the Gospel.

January 18, 1899:  In the evening had a meeting here for the purpose of dedicating my house and receiving our patriarchal blessings. Apostle John W. Taylor was present, also three patriarchs.  Afterwards a testimony meeting was held for two hours. Many powerful testimonies were born to the truth of the gospel and to the powers and blessings attending the same.  Patriarch Kynaston spoke in tongues and Sister Nellie Taylor, wife of the apostle, gave the interpretation. Patriarch Thomas Steed also spoke in tongues and said, as was interpreted by Sister Taylor, in speaking of my two brothers and myself: “Oh, ye sons, know ye that you have mighty work to perform in God’s Holy Temple, both for this important labor, for if you do, you will come under condemnation and God will be displeased with you. Know ye that His coming is nigh at your door?” Apostle Taylor then dedicated our home and E.T. Clark pronounced the benediction. After this a fine lunch was served. We adjourned at mid-night. (Record of Alley Stephen Rose, 1841-1914)

* * *

And it came to pass that in the spring of 1841 as I was visiting with a Brother Charles H. Dany and [61] family that he requested me to bless him before I left him in the morning; we had had a very interesting visit.  I laid my hands upon his head in the name of the Lord and began to bless him in my mother tongue–had said a few words and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me to talk in tongues.  I broke out in an unknown tongue which I spoke to some length, and then before I took my hands from his head I gave the interpretation of that tongue in English.  There were many good things said but among others a prophecy was uttered.  We said to him that the Lord should open up the way for him and family that they should go up to Zion that season as all the saints that could, expected to go that season. As he was a poor man with a wife and several helpless children, he had nothing else–not so much as one cow. And it came to pass that I went up to Nauvoo that summer, took my family and three other families; also, namely Brother Vosburg and family, and Brother Thomas L. Johnson and family and a widow Lincoln and two children. Some of these I had baptized, but I could have taken Brother Dany and so fulfilled that prophecy, but I knew the Lord had promised him and I was confident that he was able and that he was faithful to do all that he had promised, and it came to pass that the company in the Branch where Elder Dany lived was making preparations to start. The time had arrived within one or two days and as yet there was no prospect for him, but behold the Lord remembers His promises and is faithful to perform. He sent Father Thayr to inform him–Brother Dany that he had a good team of horses and a wagon well covered in readiness for a move–that he could have the team to move his family to Zion. He thanked him very much but said, `You will have to lend me some money to bear my expenses,’ which he did. And it came to pass that Elder Dany loaded his family and goods in the wagon and was ready to move with the company. He came up all right in the fall of 1841 to Nauvoo. He was a happy man. (Joseph Lee Robinson Journal, p. 9)

* * *


[62]         Sunday, March 11, 1855 … When the Choir was singing at the close of the meeting Brother Wm. Young, overcome by the power of the Spirit and being unwilling to quench it, arose and spoke in a mellifluous unknown tongue, much resembling the Greek in its terminations–“on”, etc., apoliston, espiton, etc., and afterwards interpreted it: “Wake up, oh my people, purify yourselves and prepare for coming events,” for which interruption he was rebuked by John D. Lee–“God’s house is a house of order.” (Thomas D. Brown Journal, p. 107, Recorder for the Southern Indian Mission).

* * *

Being fast day, Feb. 1st [1883], I went to meeting. Considerable prophesying. Bro. L. N. Scovil was told in tongues that he should be prompted by the spirit to call his children together and bless them as the patriarchs of old; and tell them what should come to them if they would listen to his council. (Oliver B. Huntington, 2:198)

* * *

Speaking in Tongues. About the middle of the school year, the institution met with a serious calamity. During the night the building took fire and became almost a total wreck. But Dr. Maeser was equal to even this emergency. He found quarters for the students in store buildings newly erected by S.S. Jones and other merchants. It was in the Jones’ Building during general assembly that I first heard the  “Speaking in Tongues and the Interpretation.” Sr. Zina Young was the one favored with the gift. This left upon my mind a convincing testimony of the reality and divinity of the Latter-day Saint religion.

The message given in tongues was to the effect that “Angels were present with us, and many of the departed, whose children were in school, were also present and rejoiced over the course their sons and daughters were taking.” (Auto. of Joseph G. Nelson, edited March 1965, p. 23)

* * *


[63]         Friday _____ 18, 1881:  At night I went to prayer meeting at Father Perkins…. one of the brethren spoke in a Nephite tongue, which was interpreted saying that the Saints had naught to fear from their enemies, but from themselves and their own sins, etc.  (Diary of Charles Walker, p. 685)

* * *

The 23rd, 1889, was set apart for a day of fasting and prayer, and we prayed that the Lord would soften the hearts of the judges and all who had authority in the nation. They are trying to pass laws to disfranchise us of the right to vote, so that they will be able to control all the affairs of the territory, and take everything away belonging to the church, but we hope that the Lord will say, “So far you can go, but no further.” In a meeting which we held, Sister Lucina Sessions spoke in tongues, and Brother Anson Call was the interpreter. It was that the Lord had heard our prayers, and all would be well with us. This made our hearts rejoice, to think that all our prayers had not been in vain.

On the last Sunday in the year [1906] … took the 2 p.m. train to Farmington, to attend a cottage meeting there.  There were five patriarchs present, Bros. Judson Tolman, Edwin Pace, Thomas Stead, Thomas Briggs and Bro. Robinson, and a total attendance of 97 in the meeting, and we had a time of rejoicing. Bro. Pace spoke in tongues, and the substance of it was that the Lord was not pleased with us, only when we obey his commandments, and he was about to visit the nations of the earth, with disease and destruction, and that there was desolation and famine about to cover the land, and it was nigh to our doors, and we had a time of rejoicing, until about 11 p.m. (History of Thomas Briggs, pp. 129, 149)


The gift of tongues has been the means of adding comfort, power, and instruction to members of the Church. It has been a marvelous blessing to those who have received or witnessed the manifestation of this spiritual gift.



[64]                              Chapter 8



The Prophet Joseph Smith said the gift of tongues was for comfort and instruction, but not the channel or the means by which doctrine for the Church was established. However, a great deal of prophecy has often accompanied this gift. Prophecy can be the means of giving comfort and instruction; therefore, for this reason prophecy has often been manifest through the gift of tongues.

On the first acquaintance of Joseph Smith with Brigham Young, the gift of tongues was manifest: Brigham Young spoke in tongues and the Prophet received the interpretation.

With Elder Kimball and Joseph Young, Brigham Young visited Kirtland, Ohio, in the fall of 1832, and for the first time in life saw and became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. In the evening of the day they first met, the Prophet called upon Brother Brigham to pray. While praying he spoke in tongues. The Prophet received the interpretation and said it was the pure language spoken by Adam in the Garden of Eden.  After Brigham had left the room, Joseph Smith uttered the prophecy, “The time will come when Brother Brigham will preside over this Church.” (LDS Bio. Enc., Jensen, 1:9)

An unusual prophecy in tongues was interpreted by a lame elder who received comfort and encouragement through that gift:


[65]         After the meeting was opened, Sister More arose and began to speak in tongues. She addressed her remarks to me, and I understood her as well as though she had spoken the English language. She said, “Your leg will be healed, and you will go on a foreign mission and preach the gospel in foreign lands. No harm shall befall you, and you shall return safely, having great joy in your labors.”

This was the substance of the prophecy.  It was so different from my own belief and the fears of many others that I was tempted not to give the interpretation, lest it should fail to come to pass. The Spirit, however, impressed me and I arose, leaning upon my crutches, and gave the interpretation.

Not long afterwards I was told in a dream what to do to strengthen my fractured limb, and it began to receive strength immediately, and in the short space of about one week I dispensed with my crutches and walked with a cane. (Daniel Tyler, Scraps of Biography, p. 41)

A year later Brother Tyler went to serve a mission in Switzerland.

The power and influence of the Spirit of God will often burst forth into prophecy and tongues. Thomas Steed, as many others have, felt his inadequacy at this power:

Jan. 1841. I met with the Saints at 10 a.m. at Jonathan Lucy’s home in Colwall; there were two rooms full. When the presiding Elder, my Uncle William Steed, was preaching with much power, he stopped all at once saying, “The Spirit has left me, and rests upon some one in the room. Will they please get up. If they will we will have one of the greatest manifestations of the power of God that we ever had in this branch.”

The Spirit said to me, “It is you, get up.” But I hesitated as I was a very bashful boy. I thought: “What can I say?”

[66]         The Elder stood pleading, “Will they please get up?”

All at once a power put me on my feet, the Spirit of prophecy rested upon me and I foretold the gathering of the Saints of that Branch with the body of the Church then in Nauvoo, Ill., and many things that the Lord was about to do in this land of England to gather up the honest in heart and the judgments that would follow the testimony of the Elders…. When I thought I could sit down, I could not and suddenly the gift of tongues rested upon me. Then the interpretation was given (by Joseph Williams, said Aunt Sarah). Then I spoke again two or three times and the house was filled with the Spirit and power of God–my whole system (felt) like fire shut up in my bones. (Life of Thomas Steed, p. 5-6)

Two ladies had the gift of tongues in association with a most unusual occurrence; they made a prophecy in tongues concerning the future of Heber J. Grant.

Testimony of Prophecy Through the Gift of Tongues.

When I <H.J.G.> was a child, in a Relief Society Meeting, Eliza R. Snow, by the gift of tongues, and Zina D. Young, by the interpretation thereof, promised that child playing on the floor–in the home where Grandma Whitney, my mother, Eliza R. Snow, Zina D. Young, Clara Kimball and other leading Relief Society Sisters in early days were meeting–that that child should grow to manhood and become an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. My mother often said to me: “Heber, behave yourself, and you will some day be one of the apostles in the Church.” I always laughed at her and said:  “Get it out of your head. Every mother thinks her son will be the president of the United States or something wonderful. I have no ambitions in that regard.”

When I was called to be one of the apostles, she asked me if I remembered that meeting in the home of the late William C. Staines on the corner of South Temple and Fifth East. I told her I did. “Do you [67] remember anything that was said?” I replied: “No.” “Well,” she said, “do you remember Aunt Eliza talking to you on the floor?” I said, “Yes, but I did not understand it.”

“Of course, you did not, because she spoke the gift of tongues.” Then she said: “Do you remember anything that Aunt Zina said?”  “Yes, I do, mother. I remember that she lifted her hand and said that I would become a great big man.”

So when I became tall I used to think of it occasionally, that Aunt Zina said I would be a big man. My mother responded:  “She said nothing of the kind; she said you would be a great big man in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that you would be an apostle.” That is why I have told you, knowing that the gift of tongues was in the Church.

I wish to say to you that my wife, who is dead, promised me, by the gift of tongues, that I should live to proclaim the gospel in many lands and in many climes, and after she passed away, and at a time when eight doctors out of nine said I had to die, I had not then proclaimed this gospel “in many lands and in many climes,” but I recovered, and since then I have lifted up my voice in the far-off land of Japan, in the Hawaiian Islands, in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and Mexico, bearing witness that I know that God lives, that I know that Jesus is the Christ, that I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the true and the living God, and that every gift, every grace, every power that this man says should be in the true Church of Christ, is in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have the Pearl of Great Price, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Heber J. Grant, Conf. Rept., 97:18-29)

Another old prophecy concerning the end of Babylon was given over a hundred years ago:

April 1st was fast day. My wife, Jane, and I went to fast meeting… .At the meeting the gift of tongues [68] was used wherein the Lord said that when the destroyer should leave the realms above upon his work to lay waste the earth, it will be communicated and made known to him that stands at the head of the Church. (History of the Life of Oliver B. Huntington, 2:145)

A special blessing pronounced by the gift of tongues through Patriarch Hennison was literally fulfilled upon Hyrum G. Grant:

Well, on the first Sunday of January, 1900 (that would be the first Sunday of this century) there was a Priesthood meeting held in Farmington in the Davis Stake. John M. Hess was the President of the Stake at that time. Now at this Priesthood meeting on a Sunday morning, all six patriarchs of the stake were present there. John W. Taylor spoke at this meeting, and he said “I want to address a few words to these six brethren who hold the office of patriarch. I want to tell them that the Lord is displeased with the way they are discharging the high calling of their offices.” He went on to say, “You have become as rusty clocks; you must repent and get the spirit of your calling, as the Lord is displeased with your attitude.” Well, that was quite a chastisement!

After the meeting these men (the patriarchs, stake presidency, and others) had dinner at Aunt Nellie’s home. After the dinner, all these brethren were sitting around the room in a sort of social gathering.  Uncle John and Aunt Nellie were sitting at the south end of the room.  A man by the name of John Hennison, who gave me my first patriarchal blessing when I was 11 years old, was sitting on the west side of the room, and Hyrum G. Grant, a brother to Heber J. Grant, and who at that time was serving as a counselor to President Hess of the Davis Stake, was sitting on the east side of the room.  They had a very remarkable meeting. I suppose all of these patriarchs spoke, and they all expressed their feelings and how very just they felt the rebuke had been–how much they wanted to [69] repent and do as the Lord wanted them to do. John Hennison, Patriarch, got up and walked across the room and put his hands on the head of Hyrum G. Grant and gave him a blessing, speaking in tongues; and when the blessing was concluded, he resumed his seat. And there was a moment or two of silence in the room, and then John W. Taylor nudged Aunt Nellie with his elbow and said, “Nellie, you have the interpretation.” She whispered back and said, “Yes, I know, John, but I’m just frightened to death.”  And he said, “You stand on your feet, and as soon as you start to speak that fear will leave you.”  So she stood up and she said (I can’t remember all that she told me), “Brother Grant has received a very remarkable blessing.  The Lord has told him that He had a work for him to do–that he’s called to do–and that if he would live true and faithful to the gospel, that the Lord would preserve him and he would be able to fulfill this calling that was for him.” She said that the evil one would seek to destroy him, and that his protection would come about by living the principles of the gospel. I don’t remember any other points more than that.

Some years later, after they had established a colony in Canada, John W. Taylor had taken Aunt Nellie up there, and he took at least two of his wives down to Mexico. I was living in West Bountiful in the same ward where Hyrum G. Grant lived at that time.  He had a very serious sickness–in those days it was called yellow jaundice. His body turned almost completely black. And I remember going down there and saw that they had scattered straw for about a quarter a mile on the dirt road in front of his house so that the wagons would make less noise going back and forth.  He was very dangerously ill.  Finally the sickness reached a point where they thought that it would be impossible for him to recover. So the family sent wires out to such members as were absent. One of his brothers, Frank Grant, was up in Canada.  He received the wire and had to ride a considerable distance to take the train. He thought, well, I’ll ride around by Aunt Nellie’s and see if she has any word to send down to the folks in Utah. So he went by her place and when [70] he spoke to her, she said, “Yes, Frank, I do have something. I want you to go to your mother as soon as you arrive and tell her that her son is not going to die, but to remember the blessing that was given to him on this occasion as mentioned.” So he went to the old home; and when he arrived, all the family were there (including Heber J. Grant, who later became president), the wives, and the doctor. Frank stepped up behind his mother and put his arms around her and said, “Mother, I have a message for you from Aunt Nellie. She said to tell you that your son is not going to die, but to remember the blessing that he was given on the occasion mentioned.” About this time, the doctor who had been kneeling at the head of the bed, arose and he thought Hyrum G. Grant had expired. He got up to turn to the mother and wives that were there, but as he looked back on Hyrum G. Grant, he noticed just a little flicker of his eyelid; so he knew from that, that the spirit had not left his body. President Grant was conscious of that (this comes from the notes of Frank Ottestrum, who was a long-time secretary to President Grant).  He had to correct me on this part of the story, because I had it wrong.  But it was President Grant, who said let’s administer to him, which they did; and from that very low spark of life (the doctor had actually thought the spirit had left), he returned–he regained his health and strength.  And as a boy, I lived there and knew him as the stake president. So he fulfilled that mission that was given to him by Patriarch Hennison in tongues and interpreted by Nellie E. Taylor. (Douglas Todd, Jr., Interview, Nov. 1969)


Another prophecy delivered in tongues, at the home of Joseph Lee Robinson, has a most unique and detailed account of the mission and work of the Latter-day Saints. Part of the prophecy has taken place; the rest of the prophecy has yet to be fulfilled:

We will now mention one exhortation of prophecy given in tongues one Sunday evening in my house. [71] Brother Archibald Patten gave us a very lengthy and spirited lecture in tongues. E.T. Benson wished someone to give the interpretation.  Brother Patten said, “Brother Robinson could give it, if he will.” I immediately rose to my feet and commenced by saying, “The Saints should continue their labors in building the Temple of God in that place to completion so far that they could receive their endowments in the same, and after, the Lord should remove the Saints west out from these United States into a goodly land among the Lamanites in the midst of the Rocky Mountains and that they should preach the Gospel to the house of Joseph and that many of them would be baptized and that the elders should go to the nations of the earth and preach the gospel to the house of Joseph and that many of them would be baptized and that the Elders should go to the nations of the earth and preach the Gospel to them and gather out many of the honest in heart and gather them out that the work of the Lord should be preached with mighty power and that He would establish His Saints and increase them and bless them abundantly and that he would raise a mighty army of the Lamanites and that they should come forth in the mountains and that they should fall upon the Gentiles with mighty power and that a trembling and fear should fall upon these Gentiles that they should have no power to resist them, that as well might the puny arm of man be raised to stop the mighty Northwest winds, as for the Gentiles to stop this mighty army, and at that time which I was saying these words I could see them coming over the hills across the rivers west of Nauvoo. They looked terrible as a dark cloud. They, I said, should avenge the blood of the Prophets that was shed in Carthage Jail, and that Governor Ford would not execute one man (as Governor Ford at this time with an armed force was in pursuit of these murderers saying he would bring them to justice), but that this army of Lamanites should avenge the blood of the Prophets, yea that they should make a clean job of it.” This is only a synopsis of the prophecy, but it gives some of the particular parts of the prophecy. We consider it a very interesting prophecy that would be [72] literally fulfilled. (Joseph Lee Robinson Journal, pp. 17-18)

As the Spirit of God is given to man, he may expect to receive the gifts which accompany it. The gift of prophecy is one of the greatest of all the gifts of God, and it often attends the gift of tongues. Thus, when the gift of tongues is made manifest, and prophecy is made through that medium, the people may be assured that the prophecy will be fulfilled.



[73]                              Chapter 9



Faith has been wanting, not only among the heathen, but in professed Christendom also, so that tongues, healings, prophecy, and prophets and apostles, and all the gifts and blessings have been wanting. (TPJS, p. 270)

Spiritual gifts are blessings from God, and those who are obedient to God’s commandments should receive those gifts. As they become more prevalent in the Church, it becomes apparent that God is bestowing His favor upon the Saints. But spiritual gifts are not just favors and blessings; they are a necessity to the true Saints of God. Joseph Smith explained:

What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world. But, said Mr. Sollars, “May I not repent and be baptized, and not pay any attention to dreams, visions, and other gifts of the Spirit?” I replied: “Suppose I am traveling and am hungry, and meet with a man and tell him I am hungry, and he tells me to go yonder, there is a house of entertainment, go and knock, and you must conform to all the rules of the house, or you cannot satisfy your hunger; knock, call for food, sit down and eat;–and I go and knock, and ask for food, and sit down to the table, but do not eat, shall I satisfy my hunger? No. I must eat. The gifts are the food; and the graces of the Spirit are the gifts of the Spirit.” (D.H.C. 5:218-219)


[74]         In the early period of the Church, the Lord bestowed many gifts upon His people, and the following stories are testimonials to the blessings of the gift of tongues.

Elder Ebenezer Robinson brought the news of the restored gospel to his brother, Joseph Lee Robinson, in August of 1835. He was converted and baptized, and the gift of tongues was an evidence of the authority of his brother’s new found faith:

He brought to me the Holy Gospel. He was an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He opened up the Holy Scriptures to me as I had never seen them before. I saw the light of truth. I received it readily. I believed every word he said. I received it with great joy and in a few days I was baptized and confirmed a member in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in the name of Jesus Christ he gave to me the gift of the Holy Ghost, for he had said to me as Peter said, “Repent and be baptized and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost that ye shall know of the doctrine that it is of God.”

I believed his testimony and took him at his word and in a few days I did receive the Holy Ghost. I spoke in tongues and prophesied all of which proved to me that he was called of God as was Aaron, that he had authority to preach this Gospel. I also saw that none of the sects of that day had authority to preach the gospel, to give the power of the Holy Ghost. (Joseph Lee Robinson Journal, p. 2)

In 1855, a Polysophical Society was organized with speeches, songs, readings and recitations, and instrumental music rendered by the members of the Society. Each person was allowed up to 15 minutes for his own contribution.

Eliza R. spoke further of the elevating and refining influence which characterized the gatherings at all times. She relates that “Mother Whitney” was so [75] inspired by the Holy Spirit upon one occasion that she arose and spoke in tongues, “while her face glowed with supernatural brightness.” So popular did these gatherings become throughout the city that many applications for admission had to be refused for lack of room.” (Life of Lorenzo Snow, T. C. Romney, p. 164)

Matthew Cowley relates several incidents in which the gift of tongues was manifest. He explains the reasons for the bestowal and the absence of many of these special gifts of God among the people:

Not long since the writer attended a religious meeting at a private residence in East Bountiful.  The gathering was attended by a considerable number of neighbors, old and young, including both sexes. Three of the patriarchs of the Davis Stake were present and presided over the services. This meeting was but one of a great many of similar character held by the patriarchs of the Davis Stake. This particular occasion was not only as a testimony and fellowship meeting, but for the dedication of the home in which it was held. The usual opening exercises of singing and prayer being over, a few remarks were made by the presiding Patriarch of the meeting, followed by a brief talk and the dedicatory prayer by one of the Elders present. The spirit of the Lord was poured out upon the little assembly in a marked degree.

While one of the Patriarchs was speaking, the gift of tongues came upon him and he sang in, to us, an unknown tongue. The language was sweet to one’s ears, the tune was melodious and the influence which accompanied the manifestation was heavenly. When the speaker concluded, another of the Patriarchs arose and gave the interpretation.  In substance the song dwelt upon the redemption of Zion, the blessings that would come to the faithful, and their posterity to the latest generation. Like the sweet psalms of David, it was truly a song of praise, containing prophecies of the future. Following this manifestation still another bearing the sacred offices of the Patriarchal Priesthood [76] arose, and while talking in a calm manner expressing his faith in the Lord, and his gratitude in being numbered with the Saints, the gift of tongues came to him, and he spoke for some length of time in another tongue and with great influence and power, not loud and boisterous, yet with that power which is not easily described, but which carries conviction to the human heart. While this brother was speaking I felt impressed that the tongue by which he spoke was Lamanitish. One of the brethren gave the interpretation, which referred to the preaching of the Gospel, the redemption of Zion, and particularly the preaching of the Gospel to the Lamanites. The tongue also named one of the brethren present who should declare the Gospel to the Lamanites. Afterward I asked the brother who rendered the interpretation if the tongue was not Lamanitish. He said it was and that a short time previous the same Elder had spoken in an Indian tongue in a most remarkable manner, so much so that the people present recognized the voice, gestures and intonation characteristic of the Indian race.

On this occasion one of the sisters also spoke in tongues, which was interpreted by a brother. The substance of what she said was an exhortation to the sisters to praise the Lord, and be devoted to his cause. Before the meeting concluded several who were afflicted in body came forward and received the ordinance for the healing of the sick and were benefitted thereby. Those who listened to the manifestations on this occasion, I believe without exception, felt convinced that the same were prompted by the gift and power of God, and greatly rejoiced in the testimony of having the favor and the approval of the Almighty in their efforts to serve Him and keep His commandments.

I have recited the incidents of this little gathering as a testimony to our young men, that the gifts of the Spirit are enjoyed by the Saints and not merely in isolated cases, but wherever the Saints are united; live in harmony with the spirit and precepts of the Gospel. For the occasion referred to is only one out of many which could be cited. A circumstance of recent date is related to have occurred in a ward, where the gift of [77] tongues and the interpretation was given, in the presence of two young men who were skeptical. In consequence of which they had been indifferent to the requirements of the Gospel. These young men were well educated, and were much astonished that the interpretation, being given by an Elder without education, was perfectly grammatical in every sentence, They went so far as to say that the most expert grammarian could not pick a flaw in any sentence uttered by the speaker from beginning to end, although the speaker was not capable of himself to use the language given in the interpretation, nor to construct the speech in the form in which it was presented. We do not offer this as an argument that language to be prompted by inspiration must always and in all respects be grammatical, any more than a man to have emanated from Deity must, physically, be free from every defect and deformity. But this circumstance coupled with the heavenly influence which accompanied the gift, made an impression upon these young men of a very deep character. They were convinced that the gift had come indeed from the Almighty.

It may be said truly that wherever pure faith, unity, and zealous devotion exist, there is no dearth of the gifts of the Gospel.  They are of frequent occurrence in the missionfields abroad. One instance came to my personal attention in East Kentucky last winter.  While Elder Francis M. Lyman and myself were attending conference in Vanceburg, a young man by the name of Brannan came to be administered to for the restoration of his health. He had been sorely afflicted for many years with convulsions.  The cords of his neck would draw up, and twist his head in various directions. Whenever he attempted to speak there would be such contortions of the face and mouth that it was difficult for him to express clearly the shortest sentence.  In this terrible condition of suffering and humiliation, he besought us to pray for him and apply in his behalf the sacred ordinance for the healing of the sick. Elders Francis M. Lyman, Newton Woodruff, myself and Geo. A. Lyman officiated in the name of the Lord, and almost immediately a striking change took place. The [78] contortions were immediately diminished, and the next morning entirely gone. When he returned home, some miles from Vanceburg, he was a restored man. His case excited much comment among his acquaintances, and was looked upon as a remarkable miracle. More so from the fact that medical skill had utterly failed to remove the affliction.

This circumstance was only one of many reported by Elders in almost every field of labor in the Southern States, nonetheless true of the other missions in the United States, Great Britain and throughout the world. These manifestations are outward evidences to those who see and hear them, but who are not personal recipients of the same. To those who receive them, they are more than the hearing of the ear and the seeing of the eye.  They are to the souls of men and women who exercise these gifts. What a shock of electricity is to the physical man, who holds in his hands the poles of the battery while the operator turns on the current. They feel and know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that some power is there over which they have no absolute control and which is not a part of their own being. Others may look on and see some outward demonstration, which carries conviction of a limited character, but no one can tell of the current, either with tongue or pen, so that another will feel and understand the operation of electricity applied to the human body.

The same is true respecting the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Men may say they enjoy it and have exercised the gifts thereof, but they never fully know until they apply to their own lives the commandments of the Lord–do his will, and the promise is that then they “shall know of the doctrine.” (St. John vii:17) This proposition of the Savior is plain, and no sane person could ask a fairer one: It places the opportunity of knowing, not merely believing, the truth of the Gospel, on a platform as tenable and tangible as any problem in mathematics.  But we must apply the rules.  If we say to a young man that he may ascertain the length of either side of a right angle triangle by having the length of the other two sides given, that young man [79] would expect to take our word on that proposition, apply the rules and prove it for himself. Why should he not be equally sensible and consistent respecting the Gospel of our Lord and Savior? Many of our young men say they don’t know of its truth. Some even enter upon the duties of a missionary abroad with no witness of the truth. Why should we expect a testimony when we are intellectually and spiritually idle?  Have we placed ourselves in a position to receive the witness? The Book of Mormon states that “ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Many of our young men are not intensely prayerful. They are not punctual in the performance of religious duties. They are not supporters of their own institution, the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association. They are careless in their habits. They have not studied the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, nor given a listening ear and a willing heart to the testimony and counsel of their parents and the Elders of Israel. Why should we expect evidence, testimony, conviction, and conversion, if we thus conduct ourselves, and maintain an attitude toward the Gospel which is inconsistent and unbecoming in almost every respect? (Matthew Cowley, Imp. Era 2:447-451)

During a testimony meeting in Wales in 1847, at the home of Sarah Williams, the gift of tongues was the means through which a man was converted to the Church.

At one time an East Indian called at the house as a testimony meeting was about to begin. She spoke inquiringly to Captain Dan Jones, who presided, about the strange caller, and was told to invite him in. During the meeting, the spiritual gifts were exercised and one man, by the gift of tongues, spoke in the native language of the East Indian, telling him he ought to be baptized. The stranger asked to have the ordinance performed at once, but was persuaded to wait till the close of the meeting, when it was attended to. (LDS Bio. Enc., Jensen, 2:535)


[80]         Many such incidents and testimonies have occurred throughout Church history.  A few of these manifestations are as follows:

There were others also who received the gifts of the gospel in Michigan (1833). I will mention Brother Elijah Fordham, as his case was one of a peculiar nature. I remember at one of our meetings, and it was a testimony meeting, Brother Fordham was speaking in tongues when two Frenchmen were coming up the turnpike road which passed close by the schoolhouse. By some means, perhaps by hearing their own language spoken, they were attracted to the window, where they asked a boy who was outside if he knew what that man said. Of course the boy did not know any more about French than he did about Greek, for it was a spiritual gift he was then exercising. The Frenchman testified that Brother Fordham was preaching the gospel to them. (Auto. of Edward Stevenson, p. 21)

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England–1854 …Many of the members of the Whitechapel Branch of the Church enjoyed the gifts of the Spirit–the gift of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, visions, healings, and prophecy.  Notably among these was the wife of a poor collier. This lady was uneducated and uncultured as to worldly learning; consequently her speech was ungrammatical and faulty, but when speaking under the inspiration of God, her language was lucid and elegant.  One sabbath day the members of the Whitechapel Branch were surprised to see a neatly dressed gentleman, a stranger, take a seat in the congregation. After the customary devotional exercises, the sacrament was administered and then the services were given over to testimony bearing.

Among those who arose to speak was the collier’s wife referred to. As she began to speak, the stranger listened with wrapt attention. Following this speaker, another member arose and gave the interpretation in [81] English. When the services were concluded, the gentleman approached the collier’s wife and addressed her in an unknown tongue. In blank amazement the poor woman shook her head and informed the visitor that she could not understand what he said.  It was now his turn to show amazement. “What!” said he, “You do not understand me. I am a Hebrew scholar, and an officer in the British Army stationed in India. I have just listened to you speak the most perfect Hebrew I ever heard spoken, and now when I ask you a simple question in that tongue, you pretend not to understand me.” “Oh,” she said, “I was speaking by the gift of tongues and do not understand what I said.” The Hebrew scholar departed without further word, imagining he was being duped…. The import of the message as given in tongues lay bare a plot then brewing among the natives of India against the British Indian government, and was no doubt given for the express benefit of the officer. (Memoirs of Henry Savage and Family, written by his son, Nephi Miles Savage, 1810-1886, pp.17-18)

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Karl G. Maeser’s Conversion.

Karl G. Maeser was born in Germany. In his youth he was very studious, and while still a young man, became a very successful teacher.

When he was a boy he heard something about the people known as “Mormons,” which made him very anxious to learn more about them, and as he grew to manhood he often wished that he might meet a member of this peculiar Church.

One day he heard that there were “Mormon” missionaries in the town. Mr. Maeser was delighted at the news, and finding out where these men were staying, went to see them. He found Apostle Franklin D. Richards, President William Budget, and Elder William H. Kimball.  Mr. Maeser made himself acquainted with the ministers of this new and wonderful religion and invited them to come to his home and tell him about “Mormonism.”

[82]         The invitation was accepted, and our missionaries were soon explaining the beauties of the Gospel to this earnest young teacher, who accepted their teachings with the eagerness of a mind hungry for the truth.

Soon afterwards Mr. Maeser was baptized and all three of the missionaries with some others were present to see the ceremony performed. After the baptism the party started back to the Maeser home.  As they walked along, Apostle Richards wished to carry on a conversation with Brother Maeser. Apostle Richards could talk only in the English language, and Brother Maeser only in the German, so President Budge, who understood both, acted as interpreter. They had not been talking very long when Apostle Richards told President Budge that it was not necessary for him to help them any more, because they understood each other perfectly. It was a very dark evening, and when some others in the party realized that the two men, who each spoke a different language, were able to converse without any help, their feelings were indescribable and they knew it was a divine manifestation.

Brother Maeser told afterwards that when he came up out of the water, he prayed for some manifestation from heaven to strengthen his faith, feeling sure that God would answer his prayer, and how soon and in what a wonderful manner his petition was granted.

Whatever Brother Maeser undertook to do, he would put his whole heart and energy into, and now he was a member of the Church he worked faithfully and earnestly for its promotion. While he remained in the old world he helped in every way possible, and when he came to the West he still continued the good work.

When he reached Utah he naturally turned to school work and as long as he lived he labored for the benefit of the children, and young men and women of the Church.  Brother Maeser was indeed a friend to the children. Wherever and whenever there were children needing help, there was Brother Maeser ready and willing to assist them. He devoted a great deal of his time to the Sunday School and Religion Class work, and there are not many stakes in the Church which [83] have not been visited and benefited by the wise instructions of Brother Karl G. Maeser–Children’s Friend. (Liahona, the Elders Journal, Vol. 8:276)

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(About 1895)  I was called to go to the Samoan Islands on a mission. Samuel Woolley gave me a Patriarchal blessing saying I would be given the gift of the Samoan Language. Then when I went to Salt Lake City to start on the mission, Heber J. Grant set me apart and he said, “You will receive the gift of the Samoan Language.” Well, when I landed in Samoa, Pres. Browning had me painting the mission house and the meeting house for nearly three months, and then he sent me to Tutuila where I was to labor with Elder Frank Vancott in the Pago Pago District.

A few days after arriving, Elder Vancott held a meeting one Thurs. evening and it was a testimony meeting in Pago Pago. After singing and prayer, Elder Vancott arose and said something to the fifteen or twenty saints who had assembled, and as they started getting up and bearing their testimonies, I supposed that was what he had told them to do, but I did not understand what they said, or what he said, until finally I arose to my feet and started to talk to them in their own language.  I quoted from John the Revelator, 14th Chap., 6th verse, and I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on earth, etc. This all came to me in Samoan, and I told them still speaking in Samoan, that this angel had come to the earth and visited Joseph Smith, a young man in America, and had restored the Gospel to the earth and the angel said his name was Moroni, and that I had come down there, 5,000 miles, to tell them about it. I spoke to them for about 15 minutes in their own language and then sat down. Elder Vancott who had been there about 3 years and knew the language well then arose and said Elder Barrus had spoken to them in tongues. Said he, “This is the same gift that was enjoyed on the day of Pentecost when Peter arose and talked to the multitude [84] and they all understood in their own language,” etc. I could understand Bro. Vancott’s Samoan talk now and in the beginning of the meeting I could not. And the natives came around me at the close of the meeting and said I talked their language fine, and I could understand them and conversed with them in their language from then on until now and its been 50 years.  The following Sunday I occupied all of the time in the Sacrament Meeting and just 2 or 3 years ago, Bro. Quinny let me take his Samoan Book of Mormon (the Book of Mormon was not translated when I was in Samoa) and I read it through and enjoyed it and understood it after 50 years.  When I came home I told Pres. Grant that his promise that I should receive the gift of the language was surely fulfilled and this testimony I bear humbly to all the world.

I am your Brother in the Gospel, O. Orlando Barrus, 275 Blvd., Logan, Utah.

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Missionary Experience of Alonzo A. Hinckley – 1897.

I had never sought for a sign because I was fearful of them, but I did seek the Spirit of the Lord to help me touch the hearts of men. I not only prayed to the Lord to assist me to learn the Dutch language, but I also studied it as faithfully as I could. I succeeded in learning two or three sentences which enabled me to deliver my literature from door to door.

One day, when I was alone, visiting among the people at Rotterdam, it was my duty to go back to the homes in which I had left tracts and take up the literature. As I went to gather the booklets, some power, that I cannot understand, possessed me until I quaked and trembled.  I stood and looked at the house at which I was to call and felt as if I could not go to the door. But I knew my duty and so, with fortitude and determination I went to the house, raised the knocker and dropped it. Almost instantly, the door opened and an irate woman stepped out and closed it behind her. She talked in a very loud, shrill voice, berating me most severely.

[85]         I did not realize for a moment, that I was understanding Dutch as clearly as though she had been speaking English.  I felt no supernatural power, or influence, or feeling. I just knew every word she was saying. She spoke so loudly that a carpenter, who was working across the street, building a porch on a little store, heard her, and, I suppose, thought I was abusing the woman, for he came over to where we stood and brought his son with him and greatly to my alarm, he carried a broad ax. The man took his position near me and listened to the woman, who continued her tirade against me in a shouting voice.

I did not grow angry because of the woman’s abuse, but to the contrary, my soul was filled with a burning desire to speak her language and to testify of the divinity of the Gospel and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I thought if I could only explain to her the importance of my message and the good it would do her, she would not berate me as she does now.

In a few moments she ceased her abuse and I began speaking. And I spoke the Dutch language, I defended the Truth and bore testimony of the restoration of the Gospel.

I had forgotten the large man who stood near me with his ax, and, as I looked at the woman and delivered my message of truth, he put his arms across my shoulders and, looking the woman in the face said, “The Mormon Church may have its black sheep, but this is a man of God.”

Her bitterness now gone, the woman replied, “I know it.”

After the conversation, I went back home, hardly touching the ground. It dawned upon me that the prayers I had offered–and perhaps as a result in part, of the hard study I had made–and the prayers of those at home, had been answered in a moment, for I had spoken the Dutch language intelligently for the first time in my life.

In ecstasy, I rushed home to tell Brother Thatcher in the office, and to tell the President of the mission; but when I attempted to speak to my dismay, I was the [86] same as before, I could not understand nor speak the language.

President Farrell asked me if I would go to meeting that night.

“Yes, President Farrell,” I answered, “after a man has been blessed of the Lord as I have been, I will gladly go. But I beg of you not to call upon me to speak even if you call upon someone to interpret what I say.”

“Very well,” he agreed, “I promise you, Brother Hinckley, that if you go you will not be asked to speak.”

I went to meeting, and everything progressed nicely, as I thought, until Brother DeBry, the Branch President arose and, contrary to Brother Farrell’s promise, announced, “We shall now hear from Elder Hinckley.”

President Farrell stepped forward, greatly embarrassed, and, addressing me, asked, “Brother Hinckley, shall I interpret for you?”

I felt a power I cannot describe. “Wait, President Farrell,” I said as I stood upon my feet. And then I began to speak, not in my native tongue, but in the Dutch language. And, then and there, I delivered the first discourse in my life in the tongue of that mission. (Faith of Our Pioneer Fathers, Hinckley, p. 231-233)

Gearsen S. Bastian was called to the Danish Mission in 1888, and had this gift bestowed upon him:

He had much difficulty in acquiring the language, and after a few weeks he became discouraged, and thought it impossible for him to learn the language. But the Lord gave him a marvelous manifestation of his power.  His missionary companion was released to return home, and Elder Bastian was left in charge of the Randers Branch. Only once had he attempted to speak before the public and he was not able to say but a few words. Sunday came, and at the appointed time for worship the meeting hall was well filled. After the opening exercises he called upon one of the native elders to speak, but he had only occupied a few minutes, when a burning desire to speak filled the soul of Elder [87] Bastian. He arose, and under the influence and power of God he preached the gospel with much plainness in the Danish language for an hour and twenty minutes.  At the close of the meeting the native brethren and sisters all flocked around him to congratulate him; and they claimed that he had spoken the language with as much plainness as they could have spoken; and they rejoiced greatly. But as yet he could not converse with them; nevertheless, the Lord had given to him a testimony that he should henceforth have freedom and power in preaching the gospel. (LDS Bio. Enc., Jensen,1:345)

For those ministers of the gospel who have been called to preach to “all nations, kindreds, and tongues” the blessing of this gift has proved invaluable.

Joseph F. Smith was sent to the Sandwich Islands <Hawaii> when he was 15 years of age.  Orson Pratt, in setting him apart for his mission, pronounced a prophecy upon him saying that he would receive the knowledge of the Hawaiian language “by the gift of God as well as by study.” Within four months after his arrival, he was able to make a tour of the island of Maui, to preach, baptize and administer the Sacrament, etc., all in the native language.


What the Gift of Tongues is for:

Let me tell you when the gift of tongues was very profitable.  It was on the day of Pentecost, when the apostles of Christ stood up before the people who had assembled there from all the lands around about, talking a multitude of languages, and Peter stood up in the midst of them and declared Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead, the very Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. They all heard, every one in his own tongue. God gave them the gift of understanding, and they understood, every man in his own tongue. The apostles spoke in their own Hebrew tongue; they did not talk a multitude of languages, but the ears [88] and understanding of the multitude were opened and they heard the voice of the apostles and understood what they said. At that time the gift of tongues was made manifest most perfectly. When our boys are called on foreign missions–to Germany, Holland, Norway and Sweden and to France and other foreign countries, where they have to learn a foreign language–let them seek for the gift of tongues. Let them pray to God to give them the knowledge of those languages by the gift of His Holy Spirit, as well as by study. There is where the gift of tongues comes in, and where it is useful. Our boys go to foreign lands and in the space of a few months they can pick up the language of a foreign people and commence to preach the first principles of the Gospel without any trouble.

I went on a mission at one time to a foreign land. I was sick two weeks with a fever upon my first landing on that island. Notwithstanding that setback, on the one hundredth day after I landed upon those islands, I commenced my ministry, speaking in the language of the natives.  I commenced to baptize and to administer the sacrament. I blessed a child and bore my testimony all in the same day. One of my brethren was there and when he saw that I could preach he said, “Look here, you have been preaching?” “Why no,” I said, “I have just been here an even one hundred days.” “Well,” he said, “I have been here two years and you can talk the language better than I can, and I have been preaching it for the last year and a half.” I learned the language by the gift of God as well as by study. I studied, it is true, but it was the gift of tongues to me, and I learned to speak that language as well as the people themselves, and sometimes a little better. Now, if you want the gift of tongues, go out on a foreign mission and pick up the language and ask the Lord to give you the gift of tongues. But seek the spirit of humility, the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of meekness and submission unto the Father and live humble lives before Him and all will be well with you, my brethren and sisters. (Joseph F. Smith, Sept. 2, 1906, Liahona, 12:776)


* * *


[89]         My brothers and sisters, it is good to be back from wandering to and fro in the earth. I have long needed the inspiration of a general conference, and I have not been disappointed.

When we sustained this day, as the custodians of the kingdom, the men and women whose names were read, I was convinced within my heart that as long as men and women such as these are the custodians of the kingdom, the ordinances will never be changed, and the everlasting covenants will never be broken. It is my privilege to serve as a missionary in some of the far-flung areas of the earth and in the islands of the sea. I am reminded of the last commission which the Master gave to his disciples and said unto them:

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15)

Signs to follow Believers. And certain signs were to follow those who believed.  Among those signs were these, that they should speak with new tongues, that they would lay their hands upon the sick and they would be healed.  About these two signs I would like to speak for just a moment while I visit with you.

On Friday evening I attended the reunion of the New Zealand missionary society, and as I stood before that group I could see more men who could speak the Maori language of New Zealand than there are among the million and a half white people residing in New Zealand who can speak the native language of their native people.

I attended a Tahitian missionary reunion, and I am sure that the same could be said of those men at that reunion.  I believe there are here in this city more white men who can speak the Hawaiian language than there are in all the islands of Hawaii.  I am sure that there are more white people here who speak the Samoan language than there are among the white residents of Samoa, and the same is true of the other islands of the Pacific.

[90]         They do speak with new languages, my brothers and sisters, when they accept the call to go into the world to preach the gospel to all creatures.

Missionary Labors in New Zealand. I am reminded of President McKay’s beautiful tribute to youth, the confidence he has in youth. I am personally grateful for the confidence this Church had in me in my extreme youth. I was just turning seventeen when I was called to go to New Zealand as a missionary. My first appointment there was to a little place called Judea, a wonderful place to go, for a young missionary. At the first meeting I attended in Judea, I could not understand the words that were being said, and after the meeting a sister who could speak English said to me: “Do you know what they said in there, and what they did?”  I said: “I could not understand a word.”

She said:  “Well, you were called and sustained as the secretary of the Relief Society of the Judea Branch.”

I made up my mind right there and then that the Relief Society was not going to take any liberty with my time as a missionary, without my knowing something about it; and so I determined to get the gift of the Maori language, even if I had to work for it, and I did have to work for it.

Gift of Tongues. I studied eleven hours every day for several weeks. I read the Book of Mormon in Maori, and my studies were punctuated with fasting and with prayer; and on my twelfth Sunday I delivered my first sermon in the Maori language  They do speak with new tongues, those who accept the call to the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I have seen young missionaries in Samoa and in Tonga and in New Zealand and in Hawaii who, within six months’ time, could deliver sermons in the languages of the people among whom they were laboring–young men and women who did not have much scholastic training before they were called into the mission fields, but these young men and women, placed in the hands of God, and molded like clay in the [91] hands of the potter, received the gifts which they had been promised.

I had a shoemaker on one occasion down in New Zealand say to me, “Oh, you Mormon missionaries think you are smart. You come out here and learn to speak the Maori language in two or three years.” He said: “I was here only six weeks, and I could say `Kaore au moriorio ki te korio Maori,’ which means absolutely nothing in the Maori language.” What he was trying to say was that he did not know how to speak the Maori language, and he did not. I saw him three or four years later, and he was still trying to say he did not know how to speak the Maori language.

I have seen our young men in Hawaii, in the Central Pacific Mission, learn to teach the gospel in Japanese. (Matthew Cowley, Conf. Rept. Oct. 1948, 155-157)

The Prophet Joseph Smith also spoke briefly on the remarks of Paul concerning tongues.

Sunday, December 26, 1841.  The public meeting of the Saints was at my house this evening, and after Patriarch Hyrum Smith and Elder Brigham Young had spoken on the principles of faith, and the gifts of the Spirit, I read the 13th Chapter of First Corinthians, also a part of the 14th Chapter, and remarked that the gift of tongues was necessary in the Church; but that if Satan could not speak in tongues, he could not tempt a Dutchman, or any other nation, but the English, for he can tempt the Englishmen, for he has tempted me, and I am an Englishman; but the gift of tongues by the power of the Holy Ghost in the Church, is for the benefit of the servants of God to preach to unbelievers, as on the day of Pentecost.  When devout men from every nation shall assemble to hear the things of God, let the Elders preach to them in their own mother tongue, whether it is German, French, Spanish, or Irish, or any other, and let those interpret who understand the language spoken, in their own mother tongue, and this is what the Apostle meant in First Corinthians 14:27. (Joseph Smith, D.H.C. 4:486)


[92]         Jesus said “These signs shall follow them that believe,” and for many years after the Restoration they did. However after the turn of the century they began to disappear, indicating that the Saints no longer “believed” as they once did. These gifts are evidence of the presence of the Spirit of the Lord. However, if the Saints lose that spirit. they also lose those gifts.



[93]                              Chapter 10



Speak not in the gift of tongues without understanding it, or without interpretation. The Devil can speak in tongues: the Adversary will come with his work. He can tempt all classes–can speak in English or Dutch. Let no one speak in tongues, unless he interpret, except by the consent of the one who is placed to preside; then he may discern or interpret, or another may.  (Joseph Smith, JD 6:240, 1834)

The present Christian world does not really understand the gift of tongues, nor any of the other gifts of the spirit–, hence they are deceived. There are specific purposes for these gifts, and there are proper rules of order that govern the exercise thereof–otherwise deception will follow.

The Prophet Joseph Smith gives the following story of deceptions occurring among the Christians in those early days of the LDS Church:

The Irvingites, are a people that have counterfeited the truth, perhaps the nearest of any of our modern sectarians. They commenced about ten years ago in the city of London, in England; they have churches formed in various parts of England and Scotland, and some few in Upper Canada. Mr. Irving, their founder, was a learned and talented minister of the Church of Scotland; he was a great logician, and a powerful orator, but withal wild and enthusiastic in his [94] views. Moving in the higher circles, and possessing talent and zeal, placed him in a situation to become a conspicuous character, and to raise up a society similar to that which is called after his name.

The Irvingites have apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and angels.  They profess to have the gift of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, and, in some few instances, to have the gift of healing.

The first prophetic spirit that was manifested was in some Misses Campbell that Mr. Irving met with, while on a journey in Scotland; they had (what is termed among their sect) “utterances,” which were evidently of a supernatural agency. Mr. Irving, falling into the common error of considering all supernatural manifestations to be of God, took them to London with him, and introduced them into his church.

They were there honored as the prophetesses of God, and when they spoke, Mr. Irving or any of his ministers had to keep silence. They were peculiarly wrought upon before the congregation, and had strange utterances, uttered with an unnatural, shrill voice, and with thrilling intonations they frequently made use of a few broken, unconnected sentences, that were ambiguous, incoherent, and incomprehensible; at other times they were more clearly understood.  They would frequently cry out, “There is iniquity!  There is iniquity!” And Mr. Irving has been led, under the influence of this charge, to fall down upon his knees before the public congregation, and to confess his sin, not knowing whether he had sinned, nor wherein, nor whether the thing referred to him, or somebody else. During these operations, the bodies of the persons speaking were powerfully wrought upon, their countenances were distorted, they had frequent twitchings in their hands, and the whole system was powerfully convulsed at intervals: they sometimes, however, (it is supposed) spoke in correct tongues, and had true interpretations.

Under the influence of this spirit the church was organized by these women; apostles, prophets, &c. were soon called, and a systematic order of things introduced, as above mentioned. (DHC 4:577)


[95]         Some of the present-day Christian churches still exhibit the same “mutterings” and “twitchings” described by the Prophet Joseph Smith.  If they understood the nature of these gifts they would not be given over to such strange, incoherent and misunderstood influences. The Prophet Joseph gave the following warning:

If you have a matter to reveal, let it be in your own tongue; do not indulge too much in the exercise of the gift of tongues, or the devil will take advantage of the innocent and unwary. You may speak in tongues for your own comfort, but I lay this down for a rule, that if anything is taught by the gift of tongues, it is not to be received for doctrine.  (Apr. 1842, DHC 4:607)

These gifts and related deceptions occur all over the world as the Prophet explained:

Again it may be asked, how it was that they could speak in tongues if they were of the devil!  We would answer that they could be made to speak in another tongue, as well as their own, as they were under the control of that spirit, and the devil can tempt the Hottentot, the Turk, the Jew, or any other nation; and if these men were under the influence of his spirit, they of course could speak Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Italian, Dutch, or any other language that the devil knew. (DHC 4:479)

Many people from around the world, and from many different Christian churches, joined Mormonism and brought their customs, philosophies and religious ideas with them.  This caused considerable problems for the Church as Joseph wrote of it:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has also had its false spirits; and as it is made up of [96] all those different sects professing every variety of opinion, and having been under the influence of so many kinds of spirits, it is not to be wondered at if there should be found among us false spirits.

Soon after the Gospel was established in Kirtland, and during the absence of the authorities of the Church, many false spirits were introduced, many strange visions were seen, and wild, enthusiastic notions were entertained; men ran out of doors under the influence of this spirit, and some of them got upon the stumps of trees and shouted, and all kinds of extravagances were entered into by them; one man pursued a ball that he said he saw flying in the air, until he came to a precipice, when he jumped into the top of a tree, which saved his life; and many ridiculous things were entered into, calculated to bring disgrace upon the Church of God, to cause the Spirit of God to be withdrawn, and to uproot and destroy those glorious principles which had been developed for the salvation of the human family. But when the authorities returned, the spirit was made manifest, those members that were exercised with it were tried for their fellowship, and those that would not repent and forsake it were cut off.

At a subsequent period a Shaker spirit was on the point of being introduced, and at another time the Methodist and Presbyterian falling down power, but the spirit was rebuked and put down, and those who would not submit to rule and good order were disfellowshipped.  We have also had brethren and sisters who have had the gift of tongues falsely; they would speak in a muttering unnatural voice, and their bodies be distorted like the Irvingites before alluded to; whereas there is nothing unnatural in the Spirit of God. (DHC 4:580)

There are many blessings that came from the gift of tongues, but there were also many problems and deceptions. Three years after the organization of the Church, the Prophet gave this warning:


[97]         As to the gift of tongues, all we can say is, that in this place, we have received it as the ancients did:  we wish you, however, to be careful lest in this you be deceived.  Guard against evils which may arise from any accounts given by women, or otherwise; be careful in all things lest any root of bitterness spring up among you, and thereby many be defiled.  Satan will no doubt trouble you about the gift of tongues, unless you are careful; you cannot watch him too closely, nor pray too much.  May the Lord give you wisdom in all things. (1833, DHC 1:409)

In a letter written by Frederick G. Williams he indicated many of these problems that were occurring in the Church:

We have seen a letter, written to Sister Whitney, in Nelson, that has a great deal to say about the gift of tongues, and the interpretation which was given by way of prophecy, namely, “that Zion would be delivered by judgments” and that certain ones named, would go to such and such places among the Lamanites, and “great things would be done by them” and also, that two Lamanites were at a meeting, and the following prophecy was delivered to them:–“That they were our friends, and that the Lord had sent them there; and the time would soon come, when they would embrace the Gospel” and, also, “that if we will not fight for ourselves, the Indians will fight for us.” Though all this may be true, yet, it is not needful that it should be spoken, for it is of no service to the Saints, and has a tendency to stir up the people to anger.

No prophecy spoken in tongues should be made public for this reason:–Many who pretend to have the gift of interpretation are liable to be mistaken, and do not give the true interpretation of what is spoken; therefore, great care should be taken as respects this thing, but, if any speak in tongues a word of exhortation, or doctrine, or the principles of the Gospel, etc., let it be interpreted for the edification of the Church.  (DHC 1:419)


[98]         Joseph gives a key to help in discerning these errors:

Could any one tell the length, breadth or height of a building without a rule?  Test the quality of metals without a criterion, or point out the movements of the planetary systems, without a knowledge of astronomy?  Certainly not; and if such ignorance as this is manifested about a spirit of this kind, who can describe an angel of light?  If Satan should appear as one in glory, who can tell his color, his signs, his appearance, his glory?–Or what is the manner of his manifestation? Who can detect the spirit of the French prophets with their revelations and their visions, and power of manifestations?  Or who can point out the spirit of the Irvingites, with their apostles and prophets, and visions and tongues, and interpretations, &c., &c. Or who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints? We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed; for as “no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God,” so no man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysterious operations of his devices; without knowing the angelic form, the sanctified look and gesture, and the zeal that is frequently manifested by him for the glory of God, together with the prophetic spirit, the gracious influence, the godly appearance, and the holy garb, which are so characteristic of his proceedings and his mysterious windings.

A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God.  (DHC 4:573)


[99]         One such problem arose in Jackson County and had to be corrected by the Prophet and others:

Charles English testified that the Hulet Branch believed that they received the word of the Lord by the gift of tongues, and would not proceed to their temporal business without receiving the word of the Lord.  Sylvester Hulet would speak, and Sally Crandall interpret.  Said they would not receive the teachings of ordained members, even Brother Joseph Smith, Jun., himself, unless it agreed with their gifts. Said they received the word of the Lord while they were in Jackson County, that they were to be persecuted by their brethren in Clay County, and now it had come.  Also said that the heads of the Church would have to come down and receive the gifts as they did. Said that they, the Hulet Branch, had come up to their privileges more than the rest of the Church. They thought they were right; but if they could be convinced that they were wrong, they would retract.  Sister Crandall professed to know and see men’s hearts.

Daniel Stanton testified that Sally Crandall said she saw his heart and saw two books in it, and that there was a Nephite standing behind him to push him into his duty; also that Sylvester Hulet spoke in tongues in meeting, and Sally Crandall interpreted thus:  Verily, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, little band, ye must beware, for there are many who are seeking to pry into your privileges.

Absalom Critchfield testified that when he was in Jackson County last spring, the Hulet Branch said, in tongues, that they would be safe, during the night, from any interruption by the mob, but, before morning, Lyman Leonard and Josiah Sumner were whipped; they also said that they saw my heart, and three young women in it.

After councilors had spoken, the president said: “As for the gift of tongues in the manner it was used in the Hulet Branch, the devil deceived them, and they obtained not the word of the Lord, as they supposed, but were deceived; and as for the gift of `seeing’, as [100] held by the Hulet Branch, it is of the devil, saith the Lord God.”

The council were unanimous in sanctioning the decision, and appointed Amasa Lyman and Simeon Carter to go and labor with Brother Hulet and Sister Crandall, and others of like faith, and set the truth in order before them.

I have been thus particular in given the history of this council, as the gift of tongues is so often made use of by Satan to deceive the Saints. (Aug. 1834, DHC 2:141)

The editor of the Liahona, or Elders Journal, gave a rather extensive, but important, explanation of the L.D.S. views of the gift of tongues:

Speaking in Tongues. Some stir has been occasioned in religious circles in this country by reports from India to the effect that the miraculous gift of tongues has been manifested lately among Hindu Christians. The principal authority for the report seems to be Mr. W.T. Ellis, a religious worker who recently “made a world-tour of inspection of the various missionary enterprises of the church,” and whose past labors are warmly commended by the Presbyterian Standard of Charlotte, S.C.  That paper quotes from an address by Mr. Ellis, delivered last July, the following passage:

“These girls were pleading for a visitation of the Spirit of God for India–the Spirit of God had come to them and endued them with the spirit of intercessory prayer, and some of these girls who did not understand English were praying in English; some of the girls who did not understand Greek were praying in Greek; some of them were praying in Hebrew; some of them were praying in tongues that no man can interpret.  I do not know what it means–the facts are there–I testify to them.”

Mr. Ellis, as quoted by the Standard, further suggested that God is “revealing himself to the poor and the ignorant and the heathen as he revealed [101] himself on the day of Pentecost.” The Standard, while speaking in terms of the highest praise of Mr. Ellis’ services to the missionary cause, wants to have his testimony corroborated before accepting it.  It says:

“We do not wish to discredit Mr. Ellis; we prize too highly the magnificent contributions which he has made to the rising tide of missionary interest.  Our hearts have rejoiced, and thanked God for such a voice, as we have read his thrilling appeals to the Christian manhood of the church…. His addresses are as the clarion note of the trumpet, and seem to be rousing the strongholds of heathenism.  We would not abate one jot of the enthusiasm which they are evoking.

At the same time can we permit his deliberate testimony to that which is manifestly miraculous, and which he himself parallels to Pentecost, to pass unchallenged?  From the days of Montanus in the second century down to our own day there have been, from time to time, sects of enthusiasts claiming the `gift of tongues’. At this very hour there are, in more than one State of our Union, earnest souls who make this claim. But all the while, that which passes for conservative orthodoxy has branded this claim an evidence of fanaticism. Are we now to revise our judgment in deference to Mr. W.T. Ellis?  If so, are we going to give these earnest souls in our land the benefit of this revision?  Or shall we rest our faith only on the testimony of Mr. Ellis, and grant that alone in far-distant India God has been graciously pleased to duplicate Pentecost?

We may say for ourselves that we have no zeal in the behalf of skepticism. The idea of genuine Pentecostal miracles is not in the least repellent to us. But `out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.’  It would seem to be only fair in a case of this kind to have confirmatory testimony from some of our numerous missionaries in India.”

The foregoing quotations are given by the Literary Digest of February 1, and a correspondent in Lehi, Utah, referring to that publication, requests Liahona, The Elders’ Journal, to give an opinion as [102] to whether this gift of tongues, exercised by these Hindu girls, comes from the Spirit of the Lord, or from some other source. We do not hesitate to express the belief that it does not come by the power of the Holy Ghost, as the genuine gift of tongues always does, but that it is produced by an entirely different agency.

This is said on the assumption that the Hindu girls actually spoke in unknown tongues, as described by Mr. Ellis.  We are not undertaking to pass upon his veracity, but would be willing to accept reasonable proof of the phenomena of which he speaks. We regard them as in line with what may be looked for in various parts of the world, from now on until the coming of the Son of Man.

Benighted fanatics in heathen countries are not the only persons who are being deluded by a “gift of tongues” emanating from a wrong source.  Here in the United States, during recent years, in the full blaze of a much boasted Christian enlightenment, scholarship and civilization, many pious and educated persons have been carried away by the same delusion. The persons here referred to, filled with missionary zeal, and claiming to be possessed of “the gift of tongues,” by which they were able to “preach the gospel” to the inhabitants of such heathen countries as China, Japan, India, etc., have gone to those remote parts of the earth expecting to preach to the natives, without study or other effort to acquire the language, and dismal failure has been the result in every case, so far as we have yet learned.  We quote from an article headed “Tongue-Deluded Missionaries”, in the Literary Digest of Feb. 8:

“The movement known as the `Gift of Tongues’ seems to prove a curious delusion to those who attempt to test it practically.  Missionary S.C. Todd, of the Bible Missionary Society, writes from Macao, China, of investigations he has made in the three great missionfields of the world, China, Japan, and India, concerning `four different groups of workers who have come out thinking that their gift of tongues was a language with which they could speak to the people.’ He adds that all of these when arriving on the field `found they were [103] mistaken, and that they could not preach to the people any more than other missionaries who never heard of the power to speak in tongues.’ Some of the deluded ones have found means to get to the East only to meet disaster and poverty there. `Many who speak in tongues and feel they are called to the missionfield are wholly unprepared by nature or training to be missionaries, and yet are starting for the field.’ One woman in the United States wrote to the missionary that `her fourteen year-old daughter has the gift of tongues and can speak in some dozen or more languages.’ This child feels called to China.”

Mr. Todd gives, in the Baptist Argus of Louisville, Ky., a number of specific cases, as follows:

“I have been asked about a certain Mr. McIntosh, Notwithstanding his statements that he expected to preach at once to the people, he has been wholly unable to do so. He must not only have an interpreter in preaching, but also in the simplest affairs of every-day life. From the day of his arrival in China until now neither he nor his wife has been able to speak a single sentence in Chinese. I do not speak from rumor, but from personal knowledge, and the personal admission of failure by Mr. McIntosh himself.

As to Japan. While there I met a party of about a dozen missionaries who had come out from the State of Washington, on the Pacific Coast.  I visited them in their home and attended one of their services.  They, too, expected to speak at once to the people, but on reaching Japan they were powerless to do so. They admitted to me their inability, and I saw it with my own eyes.

As to India. You remember that Rev. A.G. Garr and wife went there, also expecting to speak to the people in this supernatural way. But did they? They have now left India and are in Hong Kong. I have attended two of their services. Mr. Garr, in reply to a personal question of mine as to whether either he or his wife had been able to talk in the native language of India, said that they had been unable to do so.

Again, two ladies came on from the Japan party to Hong Kong because they felt they had the gift of the [104] `Hong Kong dialect’. I have seen them, inquired of their power to talk in Chinese, and they too are unable to speak.”

Mr. Todd sagely remarks that there is “need of a sober looking at things in America by the leaders of this movement, or these foreign lands will be the scene of many a wrecked life and wasted service,” and speaks also of the “serious situation” brought to light by “the failure of these honest but mistaken people”. He lays down these two propositions:

“The tongue which is being given to so many in America and other lands at this time is not a tongue with which a heathen can be evangelized. None who have this tongue should for a moment think that they are thus qualified to preach to the heathen. By no means let any come to the foreign field until they have had their `tongue’ tested by some one actually from that field, otherwise they will certainly meet with disappointment on arrival at their destination.

Many in the home land who are thus speaking in tongues and looking to the foreign field are not counting the cost.  Their supposed power of at once preaching to the people throws an unhealthy charm about `being a missionary’.  They come out but to find they are as helpless as new-born babies; their `tongue’ proves in actual contact with the native population to be nothing more than `an unknown tongue’.  This is quite a different condition of affairs to that which they expected, and in the sudden reversal of their expectations they are faced with a new situation, and one that many are not prepared for, viz., to buckle down to hard study, like all other missionaries have done, and acquire by hard and long work the language.  This knocks the wind out of their sails, and at one blow a large part of the glow surrounding their supposed call to the heathen is gone. Unless they have `grit as well as grace’, and a goodly supply of both, they are likely to settle down to a life of revulsion to all the supernatural in religion, or to idleness, or, worse still, drift into sin.”

We have here a record of the fruits of a power or spirit which seeks to counterfeit some of the genuine fruits of the true gospel of Christ, as taught and [105] practiced by the Latter-day Saints; and it is easy to perceive the helplessness of the average sectarian minister to protect himself or his flock, at home or abroad, against being imposed upon by such agencies of darkness. He has not the necessary “key of knowledge” to do this, as have the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a noteworthy fact that all this “speaking in tongues” among sectarian zealots and missionaries or would-be missionaries, has proven a complete failure so far as glorifying the God of heaven, or conferring permanent and tangible benefits upon any of His human children, is concerned.

This fact alone proves the source of the wonder-exciting phenomenon to be evil, for when the gift of tongues is exercised by the power of the Holy Ghost, those who have it and those who witness it are blessed, edified and strengthened, and the Almighty is glorified, and when the gift is employed for the purpose for which it is chiefly designed, namely, to enable the servants of the Lord to preach the gospel to peoples whose languages they have not had an opportunity of learning in the usual ways, the kingdom of Heaven is extended and precious souls are saved.  No fiasco attends this gift when it emanates from the right source. By the fruits of any supernatural manifestations its source may be known.

– – – – –

Only persons who have obeyed the first principles of the gospel of Christ by believing and repenting, and by being baptized and confirmed members of His Church are, as a matter of right under divine law, entitled to the Holy Ghost, one of the gifts of which is the power to speak in unknown tongues.  It is true that there is one instance recorded in the New Testament wherein unbaptized persons received the Holy Ghost in such power and abundance that they were enabled to speak in tongues by it, and there was no question as to the source of the miraculous gift, for Peter, who held the keys of the kingdom of God, and was a prophet, seer and revelator, declared that those who exercised it had received the Holy Ghost.  But it is easy to show that this case was an unusual one, given for a special [106] purpose, and an exception to the terms upon which the Holy Ghost was promised.

Reference is here made to the case of Cornelius of Caesarea, set forth in the tenth chapter of Acts.  Though a devout and most worthy man, he was a Roman military officer and of course a Gentile, and under the traditions of the Jews was not entitled to the blessings of the gospel.  It was necessary to remove this tradition from the primitive church, and the Lord adopted an effectual way to do this. An angel appeared to Cornelius and told him to send to Joppa for Peter, who, the angel said, would tell him what he ought to do. Next day, while the messengers of Cornelius were on their way to the house where Peter lodged, the latter had a vision, thrice repeated, the lesson of which was that he must not call common or unclean that which God had cleansed. The application of this lesson was at hand, for while Peter was wondering what the vision meant, the messengers of Cornelius arrived.

Being commanded so to do by the Spirit of revelation, Peter and a number of his brethren accompanied them to the home of Cornelius, where an assemblage had gathered. It was an epoch-making occasion. Peter spoke of the law forbidding association between a Jew and those of other nations, but said: “God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”  Cornelius recited the visitation to him of the angel, and Peter preached a powerful gospel sermon. What followed is thus told:

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.  Then answered Peter,

Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”

– – – – –

[107] The promise made in many passages of scripture, and particularly in the last chapter of Mark, is that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, shall “follow them that believe.” Believe what? The gospel of Christ as taught by his authorized servants. In other words, faith in the truth is the principle of power by which the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost are acquired and exercised. It was the faith of Cornelius and those assembled in his house that caused the Holy Ghost to be poured out upon them, and that enabled some of them to speak in tongues. Faith in what? In the pure and genuine gospel of Christ as taught to them by His authorized servant and representative, Peter.

The doctrine which the Gentiles on this occasion believed was a true doctrine, the authority by which it was presented to them was a true authority, and the faith they possessed was a true faith. Consequently the fruits of that faith were the true fruits of the Holy Ghost; and by demonstrating to Peter and his brethren that they had actually received the Holy Ghost, and were actually exercising some of its miraculous gifts, they showed that they were entitled to be baptized, notwithstanding that they were Gentiles. And this accounts for the bestowal upon them of a miraculous gift by the power of the Holy Ghost before baptism, whereas the promise of such a blessing applies only to those who have been baptized. Thus Peter on the day of Pentecost said: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

– – – – –

Hundreds of elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have been sent into strange and distant countries as missionaries, with no knowledge of any language except their mother tongue, and sometimes with scant education in that, have, by the power of God, obtained a knowledge of the language of the people to whom they were sent. In some cases ability to speak the native tongue has come suddenly, but usually it has been acquired by faith, prayer and [108] diligent study, supplemented by the aid of the Spirit of God.  In every such instance the elder himself has been blessed beyond measure. He has praised and glorified his Heavenly Father, while his usefulness and success as a messenger of salvation have been vastly increased. Honest souls among whom he has labored, seeing the power of God thus made manifest in him, and hearing his teachings and testimony thus imparted to them by divine aid and inspiration, have also been led to glorify the Lord and obey His commandments. Good and not evil has thus resulted to all concerned.

Why is it that such beneficent results flow from the exercise of the gift of tongues by missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while failure, chagrin and distress attend attempts to employ it made by missionaries of other denominations? Because that Church is the only one in the world which possesses divine authority to confer upon converts the Holy Ghost, of which the genuine gift of tongues is at once a fruit and a proof.

– – – – –

How can missionaries who represent the different jarring, conflicting sects of Christendom, ascertain whether the gift of tongues displayed by or among them, is a genuine manifestation of the Holy Ghost? The exercise of a little sound common sense would be a great aid in reaching a correct conclusion. Take for example a party of missionaries in Japan, representing a dozen different sects. Let us suppose–a far-fetched supposition, by the way–that each missionary received, in a miraculous manner, power to speak the native tongue, and each proceeds to preach his own doctrine. One teaches that baptism is necessary, another that it is not; a third proclaims sprinkling to be the proper form of the ordinance, while a fourth declares that converts must be immersed; a fifth baptizes infants, a sixth limits the rite to persons who have reached an age of discretion; a seventh preaches “election and foreordination”, while an eighth teaches “free will,” and so on.

Is it to be for an instant believed that the Holy Ghost, by its immediate and miraculous manifest-[109]ations, would be the author of such confusion? Certainly not. Whence then such a display of the gift of tongues? All persons witnessing it would be perfectly safe in attributing it to the mischievous and malicious powers of darkness that are incessantly at war with mankind, and constantly seek to deceive and entrap all who come within their influence. The beholders of such a display would further be abundantly justified in concluding that the missionaries through whom it was made were not duly authorized servants of the true and living God, and that He had no part nor lot in their labors, and would refuse to sanction or ratify anything they might assume to do in His name.

– – – – –

What protection have the inhabitants of the earth against being ensnared by the speaking in tongues, and other miraculous manifestations, that emanate from sources of darkness and evil? There is no protection for the children of men against such snares of the adversary, except in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and in the Church which he, under the direction of the Almighty, organized and established. None of the many different gospels taught by the many different clashing sects of Christendom, afford protection against such delusions.  Priests and people are alike helpless to detect or guard against them.

Children of light are in the world. They are weak and their numbers are few. They are showing their light to the children of men, and it is attracting those who love it. In order to confuse and deceive the masses, the adversary is setting up false beacons, which are followed by vast multitudes. A great spiritual conflict is thus being waged. The light is gaining upon the darkness. As the conflict progresses it will take on physical as well as spiritual features, the wicked will be destroyed and the earth will be prepared for the millennial reign of righteousness of which the scriptures speak. The Latter-day Saints walk in the light, and they are laboring with great diligence to extend it abroad in the world. (Liahona, the Elders Journal, Vol. 5:954-959)


[110] The Church had many experiences with the gift of tongues–some good, some bad. It took many years for the Saints to understand the nature of this gift and to use it in the manner that God intended.

Another detriment to the Church arose when people apostatized, and spiritual gifts seemed to continue with them, but from another source. Brigham Young explained:

Take, for instance, the gift of tongues; years ago in this Church you could find men of age, and seemingly of experience, who would preach and raise up branches, and when quite young boys or girls would get up and speak in tongues, and others interpret, and perhaps that interpretation instructing the Elders who brought them into the Church, they would turn round and say, “I know my duty, this is the word of the Lord to me and I must do as these boys or girls have spoken in tongues.”

You ask one of the Elders if they understand things so now, and they will say, “No, the gifts are from the Lord, and we are agents to use them as we please.”

If a man is called to be a Prophet, and the gift of prophecy is poured upon him, though he afterwards actually defies the power of God and turns away from the holy commandments, that man will continue in his gift and will prophesy lies.

He will make false prophecies, yet he will do it by the spirit of prophecy; he will feel that he is a prophet and can prophecy, but he does it by another spirit and power than that which was given him of the Lord.  He uses the gift as much as you and I use ours. (JD 3:364)

The restoration of the Gospel brought a significant new chapter in understanding. With the Priesthood and the attending powers and gifts, the Saints could learn about the nature of spirits, detecting them, and thereby learning how to develop the gift of discernment to keep from being deceived.



[111]                             Chapter 11



My soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads. (D.&C. 25:12)

No one can deny the beauty and soul satisfaction that comes from good music. The Lord surely has a special interest in the gift and influence of this precious expression. Yet as strange as singing in an unknown tongue may seem, it has often occurred and can be reasonably understood.

God’s purposes and means are not always known, yet He may choose ways “which are not man’s ways” to fulfill His purposes. The experience of singing in an unknown tongue, when actuated by the gift and power of God ,must surely be a marvelous manifestation not easily forgotten!

In his journal Elder Woodruff writes of a visit to his home of Ann Whitney and Eliza R. Snow: “I read over several of the old sermons of Joseph that were not recorded anywhere except in my journal. We passed a pleasant evening together, and before they left, they sang in tongues in the pure language which Adam and Eve spoke in the Garden of Eden. This gift was obtained in the Kirtland Temple through a promise of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He told Sister Whitney if she would rise upon her feet she should have the pure language. She did so, and immediately began to sing in [112] tongues. It was nearer to heavenly music than anything I ever heard.” This beautiful gift Sister Whitney retained throughout her life time, and upon appropriate occasions exercised it to the edification and joy of the Saints. (Life of Wilford Woodruff, Cowley, p. 355)

Others wrote about this gift of singing in tongues that was given to Ann Whitney:

She was among the first members of the Church to receive the gift of tongues, which she always exercised in singing. The Prophet said that the language was the pure Adamic tongue, the same that was used in the Garden of Eden, and he promised that if she kept the faith, the gift would never leave her. It never did, and many who heard her sing never forgot the sweet and holy influence that accompanied her exercise of this heavenly gift.  The last time she sang in tongues was on the day she was 81 years old. It was at the home of Sister Emmeline B. Wells, the latter having arranged a party, in honor of Mother Whitney’s birthday. At a meeting held in the Kirtland Temple, Sister Whitney sang in tongues and Parley P. Pratt interpreted, the result being a beautiful hymn descriptive of the different dispensations from Adam to the present age. (LDS Biog. Enc., Jensen, 3:563)


* * *

After I had been deprived the privilege of attending public worship for about eight months, I at length was permitted to go. It seemed to me the heavens were smiling upon me! One afternoon I attended a prayer meeting. The sisters laid their hands upon my head and blessed me in a strange language. It was a prophetic song. Mrs. E. B. Whitney was interpreter. She sang that I should have health, and go to the valleys of the mountains, and there meet my companion and be joyful. I was then fully expecting him to come to that [113] place, before I could, with my family, undertake such a journey. I still desired to hold that belief, but was admonished by those who heard the prophecy to accept the contrary, and strive to be reconciled. (Journal of Louisa B. Pratt, from Heart Throbs of the West, 8:243)

At the General Conference of the British Mission held in Manchester, May 5, 1842, the gift of singing in tongues was given to Lorenzo Snow for the testimony of the restored Gospel:

At the conclusion of a spirited address, President Snow was blessed with the gift of tongues expressed in the singing of a beautiful sacred hymn. This miraculous manifestation of the Spirit thrilled the large congregation and was a striking testimony of the restoration of the ancient faith with its gifts and blessings following the baptized believers. (Life of Lorenzo Snow, Thomas C. Romney, p. 59)

The power and influence of this gift has caused a deep and impressive feeling upon all who have heard it. Perhaps no other gift or medium of expressing the Holy Spirit could have so great an effect as this manifestation on special occasions:

Fall and Winter, 1839. Soon there was a small branch organized in the neighborhood where I resided and presently he ordained me an Elder and at his request the Saints there in our neighborhood chose myself to preside over them, which office and appointment I received very reluctantly for I felt my weakness. It was so great I felt it was almost more than I could bear, but the Lord strengthened me, the Holy Ghost helped me so that the burden was lightened and the task made easier. Now I realized and saw the spirit of God poured out upon the people. The reformation which I had so anxiously prayed for and received a testimony that I should soon see in my neighborhood, for that was the kind of reformation that the Lord would get up [114] that will count, the gospel in its purity preached by man or men having authority, people believing their testimony and yielding obedience by going down into the waters and being baptized for the remission of their sins and their receiving the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, which we did certainly receive, for some received the gift of tongues and some prophesied, for I your humble servant did receive the gift of tongues which I covet very much, particularly the gift to sing in tongues which I did receive in a remarkable manner. We many times sang in our congregations for the Lord did pour out his spirit abundantly upon me not only in singing in tongues for we have seen strong men sit and tremble like poppy leaf to the great edification and comforting of the Saints not only that but we’ve seen the sick healed in preaching the gospel, expounding the scriptures, in bearing our testimony and in prophesying as well as the healing of the sick and casting out devils and also of visions and dreams and seeing also all which blessings we testify in the name and in the fear of God was poured out upon and enjoyed by the Latter-day Saints or Mormons, in that neighborhood which proves to us without a shadow of doubt the truth of God and His power attending His Gospel and His servants on the earth. (Joseph Lee Robinson Journal, pp. 4-5)

Joseph Lee Robinson enjoyed this gift for many years and recorded this unusual incident of singing in tongues later in his journal:

We rolled out from Pisga my sick day we crossed Grand River.  I crawled off my wagon and saw with others Brother Balding (which I saw at Kirtland), and at the house of Oliver Granger’s I sang in tongues and Brother Balding interpreted it.  I said to him, I am sick with ague and fever and I want you to lay hands on me and heal me. I sat in a chair. He blessed me and sure enough, I had no more of that. (Joseph Lee Robinson Journal, p. 28)


[115] Elder Benjamin Brown had the gift of tongues given to him, but he refused to speak in them.  The gift left him and was given to another who spoke and then sang in tongues.

One Sunday morning, while opening the meeting with prayer, the gift of tongues came upon me, but thinking of Paul’s words, that it is sometimes wisdom not to speak in tongues unless one is present who can interpret, and forgetting that a sister possessing the gift of interpretation was present, I quenched the Spirit, and it left me.

Immediately after, another brother spoke in tongues, the interpretation of which was that “The Lord knew we were anxious to learn of the affairs of our brethren in Missouri, and that if we would humble ourselves before Him, and ask, He would reveal unto us the desires of our hearts.”

Missouri was some thousand miles from Portland. We accordingly bowed again in supplication before the Lord, and, after rising from our knees and re-seating ourselves, the same brother broke out singing in tongues in a low, mournful strain.

But judge our feeling when the interpretation was given, and was found to be some thirteen or fourteen verses of poetry, descriptive of affairs in Missouri, and the murder of our brethren there, telling us that just at that time–

“Our brethren lay bleeding on the ground,

With their wives and children weeping around.”

We had so often proved the truth of similar communications, that we felt as assured of the truth of this shocking news as though our eyes actually beheld the horrid sight.  Our hearts were filled with sorrow.

In a fortnight afterward we received a letter from John P. Greene, a faithful Elder of the Church in Missouri, who was, at the time he managed to write, secreted in the woods. The letter detailed and confirmed all the events previously revealed in tongues, proving that on the very day we had been informed of the transactions occurring a thousand miles off, the bleeding corpses of our brethren lay stretched on the [116] ground after the slaughter.  It was either at or about this time, that the massacre at Haun’s Mill took place. (Gems for the Young Folks, pp. 67-68)

Another purpose for this unusual gift was to reveal incidents in history. One example pertained to the Nephites:

A hymn, concerning the travels, toils, troubles, and tribulations of the Nephites, was sung in tongues by Elder W.W. Phelps, interpreted by Elder Lyman Wight.  (1833, D.H.C. 1:409)

On one occasion in Kirtland, a heavenly choir sang while Zina Huntington received the interpretation:

The Huntingtons embraced the fulness of the gospel at Watertown, New York, and Zina D. Huntington, when only fifteen years old, was baptized by the Patriarch Hyrum Smith, Aug. 1, 1835, and soon after went to Kirtland with her father’s family. In this year she received the gift of tongues. On one occasion in the Kirtland Temple, she heard a whole invisible choir of angels singing, till the house seemed filled with numberless voices. At Kirtland she received the gift of interpretation. (LDS Biog. Enc., Jensen, 1:697)

What rapture must thrill the souls of those who hear the angels sing! The language and the music of heaven must be beyond expression! The choirs of heaven represent the ultimate in beauty and harmony of the gift of singing in tongues which few mortals have been privileged to experience. Perhaps we should look with great anticipation to the time when “all shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and shall see eye to eye, and shall lift up their voice, and with the voice together sing this new song….” (D.&C. 84:98)



[117]                             Chapter 12



We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc. (7th Article of Faith)

Closely associated with, but distinctive from the gift of tongues, is the interpretation of tongues.  This gift is essential when someone speaks an unknown tongue.

Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.  (Paul, I Cor. 12:10)

Be not so curious about tongues; do not speak in tongues except there be an interpreter present. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 248)

Interpreting is the prime purpose for the speaking of a language. When someone cannot speak another person’s tongue, either by the learning of that language or by the gift of tongues, it is possible for another to receive the gift of interpretation and thereby understand the alien language.

One example of the gift of interpretation occurred when two Danes had just arrived in the Salt Lake Valley from Denmark. They attended the Mormon Conference with another Dane who could speak both English and Danish. When President Young had finished speaking, the two Danes were overjoyed at hearing Brigham Young speak. However, they [118] were curious about his manner of speaking and asked the third Dane, “Why was Brigham Young speaking the Danish language?” The two Danes who could understand no English heard President Young speaking the Danish language; therefore they had received the interpretation of tongues.

In this illustration the gift of interpretation of tongues was given for a purpose.  A spiritual message was conveyed through that gift for the benefit of the Danish men.

Many “Holy Roller,” “Pentecostal,” and similar spirited meetings claim the gift of tongues and the power of the Holy Ghost. However, in these manifestations, the interpretation of tongues or the communication of some intelligence is seldom displayed. Ten or fifteen persons can be seen lying and rolling across the floor while in a state of babbling, jibbering, or mumbling some unintelligible and uninspiring sounds.  This garbled display or demonstration, is not even closely associated with any language, much less the Spirit of God. The Prophet Joseph instructed:

One great evil is, that men are ignorant of the nature of spirits; their power, laws, government, intelligence, etc., and imagine that when there is anything like power, revelation, or vision manifested, that it must be of God. Hence the Methodists, Presbyterians, and others frequently possess a spirit that will cause them to lie down, and during its operation, animation is frequently entirely suspended; they consider it to be the power of God, and a glorious manifestation from God–a manifestation of what? Is there any intelligence communicated? Are the curtains of heaven withdrawn, or the purposes of God developed? Have they seen and conversed with an angel–or have the glories of futurity burst upon their view? No! but their body has been inanimate, the operation of their spirit suspended, and all the intelligence that can be obtained from them when they arise, is a shout of [119] “glory,” or “Hallelujah,” or some incoherent expression; but they have had “the power.”

The Shaker will whirl around on his heel, impelled by a supernatural agency or spirit, and think that he is governed by the Spirit of God; and the Jumper will jump and enter into all kinds of extravagances. A Primitive Methodist will shout under the influence of what spirit until he will rend the heavens with his cries; while the Quakers (or Friends) moved as they think, by the Spirit of God, will sit still and say nothing.  Is God the author of all this?  If not of all of it, which does He recognize? Surely, such a heterogeneous mass of confusion never can enter into the kingdom of heaven. (TPJS, pp. 203-4)

An excellent account of the gift of interpretation occurred in ancient Book of Mormon times. In this setting the people had suffered destruction of their cities, and many people had been killed. The few remaining souls were in an attitude of prayer and humility. God heard their prayers and answered:

And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn. And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not. And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came. And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them; behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name–hear ye him. (3 Nephi 11:3-7)


[120] The interpretation of tongues was the most important manifestation and blessing given on the Day of Pentecost.  Although there was some speaking in tongues, it was the “interpretation of tongues” that allowed the messages of the Apostles to be understood by the nations and people who were there. While the grand sound as of a “rushing mighty wind” and the appearing of “cloven tongues as of fire” might indeed be a miraculous power to behold, they are not in and of themselves the means nor the methods used to convert souls to the Gospel. Exhibitionism, signs, and miracles may persuade the unwary, but they only persuade men to a belief in the power–they do not convert the man. It is the words of truth, accompanied by the Holy Ghost, which change men’s hearts and set the course of their souls. For this reason “ALL were filled with the Holy Ghost” on that eventful day!

That day of Pentecost is perhaps one of the most misunderstood and misconstrued Biblical events in modern Christian thinking. It was not the miracles that day that were so important; it was not the miracles of the loaves and fish, nor the miraculous healings in the ministry of the Savior, which were the most important–it was the truths of the gospel which He taught. This is the labor and the desire of the ministry. The word and will of God holds no second place in God’s dealings with man.

On the day of Pentecost there were men from many nations assembled at Jerusalem. These were “devout men out of every nation under heaven. There were Parthinians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Asians, and those from Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Cyrene, Rome, Crates, Arabia, and other proselytes.” (Acts 2:9-11)

The apostles were teaching the Gospel and “every man heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:6). This is the [121] gift of interpretation of tongues. So amazed were they that they said, “Are not all these which speak Galileans? and how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:8)  Then again they remarked, “We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Each apostle that arose to speak did not speak in 15 or more languages–they spoke their own Galilean and “all were filled with the Holy Ghost” and received the gift of interpretation. Although many did speak in tongues, yet the masses all heard in their own tongue and while Peter was speaking to these many nations, “the Holy Ghost fell on all them which hear the word” and “on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  (Acts 10:44-45)

This view was substantiated in an early Church periodical, The Liahona:

Gift of Tongues. In the Question Box in our issue of July 6 appeared this query:

“When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, did each man understand the one sermon in his own language, or did it require a separate sermon for each nationality?”

The answer was as follows:

“It required a sermon or part of a sermon in the tongue of each nation.

Every man heard them speak in his own language.

The multitude had not received that gift by the `laying on of hands,’ therefore it is very improbable that they could receive the interpretation of an unknown tongue.”

This answer was written by an elder to whom the question was referred, and was passed by the editor without sufficient consideration. In a discourse delivered in Blackburn, England, Sept. 2, 1906, President Joseph F. Smith made the following explanation of the wonderful occurrence that took place on the day of Pentecost:

[122] “What is the gift of tongues for? Let me tell you when the gift of tongues was very profitable. It was on the day of Pentecost, when the apostles of Christ stood up before the people who had assembled there from all the lands around about, talking a multitude of languages, and Peter stood up in the midst of them and declared Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead, the very Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. They all heard, every one in his own tongue. God gave them the gift of understanding and they understood, every man in his own tongue.  The apostles spoke in their own Hebrew tongue; they did not talk a multitude of languages, but the ears and understanding of the multitude were opened and they heard the voice of the apostles and understood what they said.” (Liahona 5:120)

The gift of interpretation may be acquired by the Spirit or by the natural method of learning a language.

It is related that in one of the gatherings of the Saints in Preston at this time, Alexander Neibaur heard the gift of tongues exercised. He arose and interpreted the tongue, telling the congregation afterwards that he did not do this by the gift of the Spirit, but naturally, as the former speaker had used the Hebrew tongue, which was, of course, the language of his birth. (Utah Gen. & Hist. Mag.  5:55-67)

Many missionaries who have traversed the earth in search of the honest in heart, have been witnesses to the interpretation of tongues. On some occasions the missionary has received the gift, while in other instances the people have been blessed with that peculiar gift of the spirit.

Sometimes this gift is given to a missionary first to aid him in speaking the foreign language. Elder George Q. Cannon testified to this:


[123] My desire to learn to speak was very strong; it was present with me night and day, and I never permitted an opportunity of talking with the natives to pass without improving it.  I also tried to exercise faith before the Lord to obtain the gift of talking and understanding the language. One evening, while sitting on the mats conversing with some neighbors who had dropped in, I felt an uncommonly great desire to understand what they said. All at once, I felt a peculiar sensation in  my ears; I jumped to my feet, with my hands at the sides of my head, and exclaimed to Elders Bigler and Keeler who sat at the table, that I believed I had received the gift of interpretation!  And it was so.

From that time forward I had but little, if any difficulty in understanding what the people said. I might not be able at once to separate every word which they spoke from every other word in the sentence; but I could tell the general meaning of the whole.  This was a great aid to me in learning to speak the language, and I felt very thankful for this gift from the Lord.

I mention this that my readers may know how willing God is to bestow gifts upon his children. If they should be called to go as missionaries to a foreign nation, whose language they do not understand, it is their privilege to exercise faith for the gifts of speaking and interpreting that language, and also for every other gift which they may need.

I had become so accustomed to talking in the Sandwich Island language that it was hard for me to speak in my mother tongue. I well remember how difficult it was for me to pray in English, when called upon to do so, in the family circle, the evening after I got to Lahaina.

I had been so anxious to learn the language that I would not read any book in English excepting the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, and had even trained myself to think in that language. I did this so that I might be thoroughly familiar with it for I was anxious to preach the gospel in exceeding plainness unto the people.

[124] Of course it required an effort on my part to thus train myself; but I was paid for it all, in the fluency with which I used the language. I was able to speak and write it and with greater ease and correctness than my mother tongue. (My First Mission, Cannon, p. 47)

Interpretation of tongues occurred with the conversion of Karl G. Maeser. As a spiritual and intellectual man, it was the gift of interpretation which was the needed manifestation and witness for him, by which he knew that God had restored the gospel again upon the earth: (This is a more detailed account than that mentioned in a previous chapter of this publication.)

Holy men and holy women have spoken with other tongues, as the spirit has given them utterance.  One of our Articles of Faith reads: “We believe in the gift of tongues,” and in the interpretation thereof.

Karl G. Maeser–than whom no more devoted Latter-day Saint ever lived–told me with his own lips of such an incident as I took a trip with him to Baker City. He said:  “Brother Grant, the night that I was baptized I looked up into heaven and said: O, God, I have found, as I believe, the gospel of thy Son Jesus Christ.  I have rendered obedience to it by going down into the waters of baptism. Give me a manifestation, give to me an absolute witness of the spirit that I have found the truth, and I pledge to you if necessary my life for the advancement of this cause.”

At that time Brother Franklin D. Richards was President of the European Mission, with headquarters at Liverpool. He went over to Germany to be present at the baptism of the first converts to the gospel in that great empire. Walking from the place where he was baptized to his home, a distance of several miles, Brother Maeser expressed a desire to converse upon different principles of the gospel, through an interpreter.  That interpreter was Brother William Budge, afterwards president of Bear Lake Stake, and finally [125] president of the Logan Temple. Brother Maeser, who understood no English, asked questions in German, and Brother Richards, who understood no German, answered them in English; Brother Budge interpreting the questions and answers. After a few questions had been asked and answered through the interpreter, Brother Richards said: “Do not interpret those questions, I understand them,” then Brother Maeser said: “Do not interpret those answers, I understand them.” They conversed for miles, the questions in German, the answers in English; neither man understanding the language of the other. They arrived at the River Elbe and while crossing the bridge they were separated; when they reached the other side Brother Maeser asked another question, and Brother Richards said: “interpret it, Brother Budge”. When the answer came, Brother Maeser said: “Interpret it”. His next question was:  “How was it, Apostle Richards, that we understood each other, and now we cannot understand?” Brother Richards told him that one of the fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ was the gift of tongues and the interpretation. Then he said: “God has given to you and to me this night the privilege of partaking of one of the fruits of the gospel by having the interpretation of tongues. Brother Maeser, you have received a witness from God that you found the truth.”

Brother Maeser told me: “I trembled like a leaf, and I again raised my eyes to heaven and said: O, God, I have received the witness that I asked for, and I pledge to you my life, if need be, for this cause.”

Every Latter-day Saint knows that Karl G. Maeser did give his life; that he labored without ceasing, without any thought of personal advancement, personal honor or credit, but he labored untiringly for the advancement of God’s kingdom at home and abroad, as a missionary in his native land, and at the head of our great educational system. (Heber J. Grant, Conf. Rept, 97:16-17)


[126] In cases of emergency and necessity, God will intervene with a manifestation of His miraculous gifts and powers. As men pursue a course which pleases God, He can and will aid them in accomplishing His divine purposes. Early pioneers had great difficulties emigrating in the grand gathering of Israel.  Poverty, persecution and prejudice were the common plight of the Mormons. Added to these was the difficult barrier of mixed languages. However, God who can move mountains, has also broken this barrier on many occasions. Again from the Liahona:

The writer once heard from the lips of an experienced elder an account of an incident that occurred in New York City in the early years of the emigration of European Saints to Utah, which confirms the views of President Smith. This elder was a very intellectual man, a natural orator of rare power, and possessed great faith. He was in charge of a company of Saints which had just landed in New York, and which included several different nationalities, who could not speak English nor understand each other.

It was of the utmost importance that the members of this company, which numbered, according to present memory, about 200 souls, receive certain instructions concerning their journey westward, but the elder in charge of them spoke no language other than English, and no interpreter was at hand. The circumstances were so urgent that he determined to call the company together and do his utmost to make them understand what he desired to say to them. He caused them to assemble around him and commenced to talk to them. In a few moments, to his great joy, he beheld in the faces of his auditors proof that they understood what he was saying to them.

It was a great emergency. The elder bearing the responsibility of leading the company had an unspeakable desire to instruct and encourage them relative to the long and hard overland journey upon which they were about to start; and the Saints had also an intense anxiety to be instructed. When they gathered [127] around their leader to listen to him, they were humble and eager to learn. The faith of speaker and hearers prevailed, the Spirit of the Lord rested down upon all, and the Saints of the different nationalities understood what the president of their company was saying to them, although he spoke in English. In narrating the incident to the present writer, the elder emphasized the fact that he knew he spoke in no other language than English while he was addressing the company. It follows that they must have had “the gift of understanding” a language that was new to them. (Liahona 5:121)

* * *

It occurred in far distant South Africa, among the Boers. You have heard of the Boers; you will remember the strong defense they made in the Boer war, against the English; and surely we must concede that they are an intrepid people, a people of courage and fortitude; and we believe that among them will be found the seed of Israel. Two young elders were laboring among the Boers. They came into a home where the wife could speak English, but the husband could not speak it, so these young men engaged in conversation with the wife. All at once the husband spoke up; he spoke in Dutch, and addressed his remarks to the elders, who were unacquainted with the language, and they both clearly understood what he said; and when they answered him in English, although he was not familiar with the English language, he understood them. But the remarkable thing about it was that when the Boer addressed the first elder in Dutch, the second elder could not understand him, but the first elder understood; and when the Boer addressed the second elder and asked him a question, he understood him, but the first elder could not understand it. This was a very remarkable manifestation of the power of God in tongues, one of the signs that follow the preaching of the Gospel. (Rudger Clawson, Conf. Rept., April 1909, pp. 94-95)


[128] Lorenzo D. Young, while on his mission, had experienced both the gift of speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Remarkably, they both occurred on the same occasion:

I visited the town of Hector, where, by my preaching, as before stated, a Campbellite church had been organized.  I preached in the same house that I had occupied on the previous occasion. Soon after I commenced to talk, such a spirit of darkness and opposition prevailed in the house, that for the first and only time in my life, I was entirely bound. I stood speechless. The congregation looked at me as if wondering what could be the matter.  A sensation such as I had never felt before came over me. My tongue seemed numb or paralyzed. In a short time I commenced to speak in an unknown tongue. I probably spoke about fifteen minutes. Soon after ceasing to talk, the interpretation came clear and distinct to my mind. I at once gave it to the congregation.

I had not further difficulty; I talked about an hour. My old friend, Squire Chase arose and testified that what he had heard was the truth, and that the power of God had been made manifest. He and several others shed tears. Their hearts were softened by the influence of the good spirit. (Lorenzo D. Young, 1832 Mission, New York, Fragments of Experience, p. 39)

In a most unusual dream, an unknown tongue was spoken to Elder Joseph Orton.  In this same dream he received the gift of interpretation which was a powerful and convincing influence for him to do God’s will.

(1870’s) The United Order was sought to be established by President B. Young. An evening meeting was called to consider the matter and organize. Anxious to be in harmony with its spirit, yet not feeling its inspiration, on the evening previous to time set for its organization, kneeling in secret I made my wish known. I slept. Just before arising in the morning a [129] voice was heard in a tongue unknown to me. Given apparently in poetry about the same as in common metre stanza. Asking for the interpretation of the tongue, it came instantly and ran thus: “Without the United Order we cannot become one; without the United Order, angels cannot hold communion with us as a people. The dead cannot be raised nor Jesus come to dwell with his people.” I said, “it is enough; I am prepared to give my name as a member of the United Order tonight.” (Auto. of Joseph Orton, p. 22)

Other dreams received interpretation through the gift of tongues:

Sunday, April 12th, 1846, worked at the temple in the forenoon and in the afternoon attended the Quorum Meeting in the temple–the sacrament was administered, and several dreams were told, and the interpretations given in tongues, wherein some of the principles of the resurrection were explained and much good instruction given. (Journal of Samuel W. Richards, 1:18)

Benjamin Brown ridiculed the gift of tongues among the Mormon people, and the devil gave him a similar power. After a visitation by two of the Three Nephites, he was rebuked in the Nephite language; but he interpreted the language and repented of his sins:

I had experienced the Spirit of the Lord in a similar way elsewhere, so that when the Elder of the Church, at this meeting, urged upon me to yield obedience to the gospel they preached, which possessed such evidences as the manifestations of the ancient gifts, I treated the Elders very lightly, and replied, that as for the gift of tongues, I could speak in tongues as well as any of them. So I could, for directly one of them manifested this gift, the gift of tongues rested upon me, and gave me the same power.

[130] Thus did the devil seek to blind me, and turn that testimony which the Lord had given me, for the truth, almost into an evidence against it.

Here my mind half yielded to the belief which arose within me, that perhaps it might be true; whereupon I took the book and laid it before the Lord, and pleaded with Him in prayer for a testimony whether it was true or false, and, as I found it stated that the three Nephites had power to show themselves to any person they might wish to, Jew or Gentile, I asked the Lord to allow me to see them for a witness and testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon and I covenanted with Him, if He complied with my request, that I would preach it, even at the expense of my life, should it be necessary.

The Lord heard my prayer, and, about five days afterwards, two of the three visited me in my bedroom. I did not see them come, but I found them there.

One spoke to me for some time, and reproved me sharply on account of my behavior at the time when I first attended the meeting of the Saints, and treated so lightly the gift of tongues.  He told me never, as long as I lived, to do so again, for I had grieved the Spirit of the Lord, by whose power that gift had been given.

This personage spoke in the Nephite language, but I understood, by the Spirit which accompanied him, every word as plainly as if he had spoken in English. I recognized the language to be the same as that in which I heard Father Fisher speak at the meeting.

Such a rebuke, with such power, I never had in my life, before nor since, and never wish to have again.  I was dumb before my rebuker, for I knew what he said was right and I felt deserving of it.

How these men went, I do not know, but directly they were gone, the Spirit of the Lord said to me, “Now, you know for yourself! You have seen and heard! If you now fall away, there is no forgiveness for you.” (Benjamin Brown, Gems for the Young Folks, p. 59)

The gift of tongues may be given to some elder to speak the language of foreigners so they may understand the [131] message of the gospel. Again the foreigners may receive the gift of interpretation to understand an elder who speaks only his native tongue. On other occasions someone may receive the gift of tongues and speak an unknown tongue–and then there must be someone who should receive the gift of interpretation. In all of these circumstances it is the conveyance of information which is the prime force behind the gift–it is not the manifestation or the power alone which should influence those who hear or see these gifts of God.



[132]                             Chapter 13



Guard well the tongue–say only truth;

Speak well of others, else not at all.

No deadlier poison has yet been found

Than slanderous words, beyond recall.


As with all of the gifts of God, they can be and often are counterfeited by the devil. The work of the master deceiver is to thwart the works of God through lies, deception, and misrepresentations. The gift of tongues is perhaps one of the most powerful influences by which men have been deceived.

There were risks and perils for those who could speak in tongues. Many people, both in the Church and out of it, concluded that when someone spoke in tongues, and even when it was interpreted, that it was automatically of God. But there were many evils wrought by those who spoke in tongues. The Prophet warned the Saints of these things, as he recorded in his history:

Dec. 26, 1841, Sunday–The public meeting of the Saints was at my house this evening, and after Patriarch Hyrum Smith and Elder Brigham Young had spoken on the principles of faith, and the gifts of the Spirit, I read the 13th chapter of First Corinthians, also a part of the 14th chapter, and remarked that the gift of tongues was necessary in the Church; but that if Satan could not speak in tongues, he could not tempt a [133] Dutchman, or any other nation, but the English, for he can tempt the Englishman, for he has tempted me, and I am an Englishman; but the gift of tongues by the power of the Holy Ghost in the Church, is for the benefit of the servants of God to preach to unbelievers, as on the day of Pentecost. When devout men from every nation shall assemble to hear the things of God, let the Elders preach to them in their own mother tongue, whether it is German, French, Spanish or “Irish,” or any other, and let those interpret who understand the language spoken, in their own mother tongue, and this is what the Apostle meant in First Corinthians xiv: 27, “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, at the most by three, and that by course, and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the Church; and let him speak to himself and to God.” (D.H.C. 4:485-486)

The Prophet gave another warning by saying:

As to the gift of tongues, all we can say is, that in this place we have received it as the ancients did; we wish you, however, to be careful, lest in this you be deceived. Guard against evils which may arise from any accounts given by women, or otherwise; be careful in all things lest any root of bitterness spring up among you, and thereby many be defiled. Satan will no doubt trouble you about the gift of tongues, unless you are careful; you cannot watch him too closely, nor pray too much. May the Lord give you wisdom in all things. (TPJS, p. 25)

While the compiler of this book was on his mission in California he met a minister who told the following story.

A fellow minister of our church (Protestant) had just returned from a foreign mission. While we were talking about some of the other churches, we decided to go to a pentecostal type church nearby. We knew they were professing “the gift of tongues” as an [134] evidence of the spirit of God. That night we attended one of their meetings, and during the services a man got up and began to speak in a sing-songy kind of chant. From all around him were shouts of “Hallelujah, he’s got the spirit!” When the services were over, my friend marched up to the man who had so influenced everyone by his “gift” and said, “Do you know what language you were speaking or what you said?”  The man said he didn’t, but he certainly felt the “spirit.” My friend answered and said, “Well, I know what language it was–I spent eleven years in China, and that was Chinese. I also know what you said.  I will say that in all my time in China, I believe you spoke the most foul-mouthed, filthy language I ever heard!

These influences and powers can and have been found within the Church of God. For these reasons precaution and care must be exercised with the gifts which the Lord may bestow upon His people.

On a few occasions when the wrong spirit has been manifest, it was detected by those who had the gift of discernment. The manner of detection is by the “spirit,” which is felt through the gift. If the interpretation and influence of tongues is not known, then the devil may cause an influence and power over those who are unaware.

Thurs., Dec. 27, 1855. This evening I attended a prayer meeting in the council house (at San Bernardino, CA). I think there was a wrong spirit exhibited in the singing and speaking in  “tongues”.

Thurs., Jan. 3, 1856. Last night attended a prayer meeting in the council house. There was a wrong spirit made manifest in speaking and singing in tongues. This is the second and third time there has been a bad spirit exhibited at our prayer meetings. (Diary of Henry G. Boyle, Vol. 1, pp. 50, 52)


[135] In some cases, individuals may know and understand truths and the spiritual gifts of God, but they themselves have such a bad spirit about them that they refuse to accept them.

On returning to Pennsylvania he preached and baptized many, among whom was Heber C. Kimball. The gifts of the Gospel were enjoyed by many; signs following those that believed, devils were cast out; the sick were healed; many prophesied; some spake with new tongues; while others interpreted the same  Mr. Calvin Gilmour, with whom Brother Gifford had previously been associated in preaching, heard him speak in tongues and interpret. Gilmour declared he understood the languages and that they were interpreted correctly, but that he would rather be damned than believe in Mormonism. (D.H.C. 4:485)


Note the difference in the spirit of Parley P. Pratt, who accepted the gospel:

I did not feel any particular grief before, or any sudden joy after I was baptized, for I had been walking uprightly before God and man; but I soon felt within me such a peace and an increase of joy, and such light as I had never felt before, and this has continued to increase hitherto. Soon Brother Taylor began to speak in tongues, then Sister Taylor, then my sister; the sick were healed, and the Saints began to prophesy, etc. What could I wish for more as evidence that it was the pure Gospel of God. (Mill. Star 2:52)

The nature and feeling of these two opposite spirits can attend the gift of tongues. In order to identify the source of the gift, we must discern the spirit which actuates it. Apostle Pratt continues his narration to explain the differences in the source of the gift.

About the same time some gentlemen came over from England to establish Mr. Irving’s principles, which [136] they did in Toronto, and many of our old friends joined them, and there was this difference between the two spirits–we felt humble and full of love, and simple as little children, free to all men, friends or foes, but when we met them in the street who had been our brethren, they would not speak to us; at this we would smile, and be sorry. We were open to speak of those things we had received, and wished to speak upon them, but they would not give an answer to any question about their principles, and they lifted themselves up in pride. When the Saints began to speak in tongues, it filled the soul with joy and sweetness, but the others (for they had what they called utterances) filled one with horror.  Many embraced the gospel in that part, and many more would have done but for the priests, by whom they were led. (Mill. Star 2:52)

The presiding elder should have the gift of discernment when the gift of tongues is manifest, thereby knowing which agency that gift comes from.

Every spirit, or vision, or singing, is not of God.  The devil is an orator; he is powerful; he took our Savior on to a pinnacle of the Temple, and kept Him in the wilderness for forty days. The gift of discerning spirits will be given to the Presiding Elder.  Pray for him that he may have this gift. Speak not in the gift of tongues without understanding it, or without interpretation. The devil can speak in tongues; the adversary will come with this work; he can tempt all classes; can speak in English, or Dutch. Let no one speak in tongues unless he interpret, except by the consent of the one who is placed to preside; then he may discern or interpret, or another may. Let us seek for the glory of Abraham, Noah, Adam, the Apostles, who have communion with (knowledge of) these things, and then we shall be among that number when Christ comes  (D.H.C. 3:392)


[137] There have been times when the gift of tongues from the Lord and the gift of tongues by the devil have occurred at the same meeting:

Nellie Taylor was the first polygamist wife of John W. Taylor, and she was the most spiritual person I have ever known in my life. I could tell you story after story of the spiritual experiences that came to her–some of them in my presence. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I’ve heard her speak in tongues and interpret tongues. I’ve heard her interpret prophecy spoken in tongues that came true, and many such wonderful things. And then she has told me many things that were to occur in their family. She was told she would have the visitation of angels who would come to her bedside and converse with her. The most wonderful spiritual sayings that I have ever know of occurred to Aunt Nellie.

One such occasion took place in the old West Bountiful meeting house when she and her husband were present. There was no rostrum in this building–just a row of chairs in front which faced east. Her husband was sitting up in front. Now, this occurred before I was 9 years old, and I was sitting with Aunt Nellie. She arose and spoke in tongues, which were interpreted by another person. In that same meeting she interpreted tongues that were spoken by someone else.

We were in the center tier (section) of seats–and on the same row of seats, but across the aisle on the north side of the building, there was a dark-haired, strongly built man, who arose and spoke in tongues from the devil. That’s something I guess very, very few people have ever experienced. Even as a child, I felt as though the room had been filled as with a dark cloud.  It was just an appalling experience. I looked up at Uncle John, as we called him, sitting up in front and he looked down at that man, and just pointed his finger–didn’t say a word. That man didn’t sit in his seat; he just wilted into his seat–just like a limp rag. The meeting, after that, returned to its former high peak in [138] spirituality; and other people spoke in tongues, and there was an interpretation of tongues. (Douglas Todd Jr., Interview, November 1969)

In early times there were instances of attempts to regulate the Church through the use of tongues. The Prophet Joseph corrected one particular case:

President Joseph Smith then made remarks upon the subject of false spirits.

Elder Ambrose Palmer presented his case, which had previously occasioned some difficulty in the Church; which was, that Brother Carpenter had been tried for a fault before the Church, and the Church gave him a certain time to reflect whether he would acknowledge or not.  Brother Gordon, at the time, spoke in tongues, and declared that Brother Carpenter should not have any leniency. Elder Palmer wished instruction on this point, whether they had proceeded right or not, as Brother Carpenter was dissatisfied, etc.

President Joseph Smith then gave an explanation of the gift of tongues; that it was particularly instituted for the preaching of the Gospel to other nations and languages, but it was not given for the government of the Church.

He further said, if Brother Gordon introduced the gift of tongues as a testimony against Brother Carpenter, it was contrary to the rules and regulations of the Church; because in all our decisions, we must judge from actual testimony.

Elder Gordon said, the testimony was had, and the decision given before the gift of tongues was manifested.

President Smith advised, that we speak in our own language, in all such matters, and then the adversary cannot lead our minds astray.

Elder Palmer stated, that when he was presiding in a Conference, several of the brethren spoke out of order, and Elder J. B. Bosworth refused to submit to order according to his request; and he wished instructions on this point, whether he, or someone else [139] should preside over this Branch of the Church; and also whether such conduct could be approbated in Conferences.

Brother Gordon made some remarks on the same subject.

President Smith said, relative to the first question, that Brother Gordon’s tongues in the end did operate as testimony, as, by his remarks in tongues, the former decision was set aside, and his taken; that it was his decision, that Brother Gordon’s manifestation was incorrect, and from a suspicious heart. He approved the first decision, but discarded the second.

Brother Joseph Keeler acknowledged that in the former decision he had acted hastily himself, in urging Brother Carpenter to make acknowledgement without having time to reflect; and asked forgiveness where he had erred.

Brother Gordon said he discovered that he was in error, and was satisfied with the Council, and was willing to ask forgiveness of the brethren and of the Lord.

Decision was then given on the second question, that Elder Bosworth was out of his place, in opposing Elder Palmer when he presided in the Council.

The two decisions were confirmed by unanimous vote of the Conference.

A motion was then made and passed by unanimous vote, that a letter be written to Brother J.B. Bosworth, informing him of the last decision–that he has acted out of place in opposing Elder Palmer in a former Council, when requested to take his seat, that the business might proceed according to order; and that such letter be signed by the clerk of this Conference. (Mill. Star, 15:182)

Other strange influences came into play as the gift of tongues and other gifts of the Holy Ghost were manifested. As the powers of God were restored with the Gospel, it seemed that the powers of Satan were equally manifest. Strange and extraordinary influences diverted many Saints and non-members away from the Church of God:


[140] Again it may be asked, how it was that they could speak in tongues if they were of the devil? We would answer that they could be made to speak in another tongue, as well as their own, as they were under the control of that spirit, and the devil can tempt the Hottentot, the Turk, the Jew, or any other nation; and if these men were under the influence of his spirit, they of course, could speak Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Italian, Dutch, or any other language that the devil knew.

Some will say, “try the spirits” by the word. “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God.” (John 4:2-3)

No man nor set of men without the regular constituted authorities, the priesthood and discerning of spirits, can tell true from false spirits. This power they possessed in the Apostles’ day, but it has departed from the world for ages.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have also had their false spirits; and as it is made up of all those different sects professing every variety of opinion, and having been under the influence of so many kinds of spirits it is not to be wondered at if there should be found amongst us false spirits.

Soon after the gospel was established in Kirtland, and during the absence of the authorities of the Church, many false spirits were introduced, many strange visions were seen, and wild, enthusiastic notions were entertained. Men ran out of doors under the influence of this spirit, and some of them got upon stumps of trees and shouted, and all kinds of extravagances were entered into by them. One man pursued a ball that he said he saw flying in the air, until he came to a precipice, when he jumped into the top of a tree, which saved his life; and many ridiculous things were entered into, calculated to bring disgrace upon the Church of God, to cause the Spirit of God to be withdrawn, and to uproot and destroy. (Liahona, 6:1177)


[141] Heber C. Kimball explained the nature of the apostates who had many powerful gifts and revelations given to them.  The devil was able to take advantage of many Saints and lead them on to destruction. Why and how were they deceived and thwarted from the grand gifts and influences of the Gospel?  Apostasy can only be the result of sin. Only through transgression can the Spirit of God and the testimony of the truths of Jesus be destroyed.

… A spirit would come on those individuals, and they would begin to run around the house, and be thrown into all manner of shapes and convulsions, saying it was the operation of the Holy Ghost.  If you do not look out, you will get such spirits as those here. I merely speak of them to give you a check, that you may be aware of the course you are taking.

I will tell you what kind of characters will have those kinds of revelations; they will be men who have committed whoredom in our midst, and women who have played the whore. Good, virtuous men and  women are not actuated by those spirits, because they ask the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, to give them His Spirit, and not those wild, enthusiastic spirits manifested by some. How was it with those men in Kirtland? Almost every one of them denied the faith and went over the board, and afterwards we found out that they were adulterous persons.

As for the gift of tongues, I do not speak in tongues often. Can I speak in tongues? Yes, I can speak in a good, beautiful language to this people at any time Why? Because God gave me the gift, and He does not give gifts to men and then take them away again, so long as those men are doing their duty. They are gifts, and God gives them to men and women; and so long as they improve upon them they do not forfeit them. If they do not improve upon them, the devil takes the advantage and will make it appear like the gifts of God which they have possessed, as nearly as possible, and thus they go overboard.

[142] I do not know why it is that I am led to speak so today, but I am led as I am, and you may judge whether it is right or wrong. Can I interpret tongues?  Yes, because that gift is in me, and I have not forfeited it. Is it in Brother Brigham? Yes, and so is every gift that God ever gave to His ancient Apostles. God has given them to Brother Brigham, and He will never take them away from him. He has the Spirit in him, and so have his counsellors, that can discern your spirits and gifts, whether they are of God or of the devil. When any of you get up to speak in tongues, whether you do so by the power of God or of the devil, I can tell you which source that tongue came from, and if it is from the Lord I can interpret it. (JD 4:170)

However great or small a manifestation may be, people should be very cautious in the discernment of its source. Giving the Lord honor for the devil’s manifestation is a sure snare. By the same rule, a gift or manifestation from God should never be branded as the workmanship of the devil. Thus, whenever a supernatural power or influence is made known–by God or the devil–the danger or blessing rests with those who witness it. It is the spirit of God, through the spirit of discernment, which is of greatest importance to every saint.



[143]                             Chapter 14



The gifts of the gospel are not just given to anyone, nor even to just anyone who is seeking for them. The Lord offers blessings which are predicated upon certain laws and principles, and to obtain any blessings we must obey the law or principle upon which it is based. The Apostle George A. Smith explained:

Many of these blessings descend on the children of men in numerous instances regardless of their conduct, and apparently independent of their actions. But there are blessings which mankind cannot receive, only through obedience to the commandments of God, our heavenly Father; there are privileges and gifts which cannot be enjoyed, only through the diligence of those upon whom they are bestowed. The gifts that pertain to the gospel of Jesus Christ can only be obtained by obedience to the truth; and can only be retained by a faithful adherence to the commandments of God; and in order that these may be multiplied upon the people, they must be appreciated by those upon whom they are bestowed. When our hearts are filled with thanksgiving, gratitude, and praise to God, we are in a fit condition to receive additional blessings, and to have more of the outpouring of His Holy Spirit. (JD 11:330)

President Brigham Young gave similar advice:


[144] My brethren and sisters, answer this question in your own minds.  Are we entitled to the blessings of the holy gospel unless we obey the ordinances thereof, and all the commandments and laws and requirements that are laid down for us to obey? Now I know that every Latter-day Saint will come to the same conclusion that I do–that if we did not obey, we would not be entitled to any of these blessings from our Father. There is not a Latter-day Saint but who comes to the same conclusion as myself–that we would not merit, we would not be entitled to, we could not claim at the hand of our God those blessings that he has promised through obedience to his Word. Could we be called the people of God? We would be in the path of disobedience.  We would be in the path that leads to death. We would be in the broad road that millions are walking in to death. Now, every one of us comes to this conclusion. (JD 16:165)

Many people were converted to the gospel because they saw miracles, yet many of them later apostatized because they fell into sin. In most cases this type of people must continue to see such miracles or manifestations to keep them active. George Q. Cannon explained:

The man or the woman who is convinced of the truth of the gospel by seeing the ears of the deaf unstopped, or the tongue of the dumb unloosed, or by dreams or visions, as a general thing, requires a continuation of these manifestations from that time forward to keep them in the faith of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This our experience confirms. There is another class who obey the truth because it is the truth, and receive the testimony of the Spirit without any particular manifestations, but in whose hearts the Spirit of God continues to burn and increase, imparting to them all its gifts and filling them with joy and peace unspeakable. They retain their faith in the work of God, and as days, weeks, months, and years pass over their heads, their faith and confidence increase. (JD 11:331)


[145] As the blessings and gifts of the gospel can be lost by an individual through his disobedience and sinfulness, so, too, can the Church as a body also lose those gifts. That is what happened to the early Christian Church through their apostasy:

Now if you will preach the same gospel, you will preach the same principles precisely that were taught not only by Paul, Peter, James, and John, but by all the rest of their fellow servants. And when men received the Holy Ghost, they spake with other tongues, and prophesied. In order to tell whether people have embraced the true gospel or not, we need only to look at their fruits, for by their fruits shall ye know them, says the Savior.

Now some suppose there was necessity for this display of the power of God to establish the gospel, and that when it was established the gifts would be done away. I recollect reading, in the ninety-fourth sermon of John Wesley, in commenting upon this subject, he says, “It has been vulgarly supposed that after the gospel was established the spiritual gifts were no longer needed; but this is a gross error. To be sure we seldom hear of them after that fatal period that Constantine called himself a Christian. Scarcely an instance of the manifestation of these spiritual gifts can be found in the second century, the reason is not that they were done away by the will of the Almighty, but Christians had apostatized, and become heathen, and had nothing but a dead form of religion left, and this is the grand reason the gifts have not continued in the Church.” This is the idea Wesley gives in the sermon I have alluded to, if not the exact language. That is “Mormonism.” In the second century the Church apostatized and became heathen, and men could not speak by the gift of the Holy Ghost, and with other tongues, and prophesy, and obtain visions, and the gift of healing.  (J.M. Grant, JD 2:231)

When men apostatize, they even deny the truth and spirit they once possessed. Jedediah Grant also witnessed this:


[146] In relation to men’s apostatizing, I recollect in the upper room of the Temple in Kirtland, Ohio, when we were assembled there, a very noted man, by the name of Sylvester Smith, bore testimony of what he had seen of the Prophet of God, of angels, etc.  He said he wanted to bear testimony, and continued to say, “I have spoken by what you call the Holy Ghost; the eyes of my understanding have been touched, and I have seen convoy after convoy of angels; I have laid hands on the lame, and they have leaped like an hart; I have spoken with tongues and had the interpretation thereof; I have seen the sick healed time after time;–but let me tell you, everything I have seen and everything you have seen is the height of idiotism.” This was Sylvester Smith, after he apostatized.

This was the testimony of an apostate, which is conclusive proof to me that a man may see the hosts of heaven the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof, and gaze on the glory of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost; and unless he retains the Spirit of God, he will apostatize. (JD 6:254)

It should be remembered that not only sin will prevent people from enjoying gifts and blessings from God, but traditions, peer groups, and worldly customs also can prevent us from receiving and enjoying these gifts. When something clashes with our worldly traditions, we immediately think it must be wrong. This happened at the Kirtland Temple dedication,as George A. Smith relates:

On the evening after the dedication of the Temple, hundreds of the brethren received the ministering of angels, saw the light and personages of angels, and bore testimony of it. They spake in new tongues, and had a greater manifestation of the power of God than that described by Luke on the day of Pentecost. Yet a great portion of the persons who saw these manifestations, in a few years, and some of them in a few weeks, apostatized. If the Lord had on that occasion revealed one single sentiment more, or went one step [147] further to reveal more fully the law of redemption, I believe He would have upset the whole of us. The fact was, He dare not, on that very account, reveal to us a single principle further than He had done, for He had tried, over and over again, to do it. (JD 2:215)

Erastus Snow warned the Saints that they must struggle to keep those gifts:

If they then begin to say in their hearts, “I have served the Lord for a little season; I have been baptized; I have received the Holy Ghost, and have become some great one; I have received the gift of tongues, and have prophesied; I have received the power of healing the sick, and other manifestations of the power and mercies of the Almighty; I think I can remain where I am and do well in disregarding the counsels of the Almighty respecting gathering together and dividing my substance for the gathering of the poor and building up of Zion.” It will be said to them who speak and act thus, as it was said to Nebuchadnezzar of old.  If they cling to that which is given, and set their hearts upon them more than they do the kingdom of our God, those blessings will be withdrawn, the Holy Ghost will be taken from them, and that light received through obedience to the first principles of the gospel will flee away, that love which they possessed will leave them, and they will become weak as before and darker than ever, unless they speedily repent and turn unto the Lord with all their hearts.

This lesson we have all got to learn–that we and all that we possess are the Lord’s, and that continually, and that we must forever hold ourselves subject to his counsels and ready to obey His will. (JD 8:219)



[148]                             Chapter 15




Wherever the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost are enjoyed, there the kingdom of God exists; wherever these gifts are not enjoyed, there the kingdom does not exist. (Orson Pratt’s Works, p. 76)

The Protestant and Catholic churches say the gifts, powers and miracles of the church which Christ established were done away because they were no longer needed. But Apostle Orson Pratt denounced that idea:

Now let us see if we can ascertain from the following verses how long these gifts were to continue in the Christian Church. That will settle the question. They were given, said he, for the perfecting of the Saints. Before we proceed to the other reasons for which they were given, let us examine this first for a moment: “They were given for the perfecting of the Saints.” * * *

Very well, these gifts were given for the perfecting of the Saints, and if you are Saints, where are your gifts? For does it not follow that if you have no gifts you are either perfect Saints or not Saints at all? For if you are not perfect Saints, these gifts must be among you. Do you know any way to perfect Saints independent of these gifts? I do not. If the Bible has taught any other way I have never happened to find it. I know of no way in which Saints can be  perfected without [149] inspired apostles and prophets, and the gifts here named. (JD 14:180)

Brigham Young agreed with this concept:

We are asked if signs follow the believer in our day as in days of old. We answer, they do. The blind see, the lame leap, the deaf hear, the gift of prophecy is manifest, also the gift of healing, the gift of revelation, the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Jesus said that these signs should follow them that believe. His Church and Kingdom always have these signs which follow the believer in all ages when the true Church is in existence. Do they follow any but believers? They do not. The gift and power of the Holy Ghost, as enjoyed by the ancient saints, and its various manifestations, are not received in the faith of modern Christian sects. (JD 12:208)

Apostle Orson Pratt elaborated on the necessity of these gifts to accompany the true Church:

The Protestants denounce the Catholics as the mother of harlots–the most wicked and corrupt power on earth. The Catholics denounce the Protestants as heretics and apostates from the true church. The word of God denounces them both as unbelievers, because they lack the signs. The infidel world denounces the word of God, because miraculous signs follow neither Catholics nor Protestants, who pretend to be believers.  The sincere inquirer is almost distracted, because he is in greater doubt whether to believe in Catholics, Protestants, infidelity, or the word of God.  If signs then were given to distinguish the ministers of Christ from impostors, surely the present generation need them if ever they were needed.

In the midst of all these conflicting opinions, the humble servant of God comes forth and boldly declares that no church can be the true church, unless they obey the words of Christ and enjoy the signs of believers. He [150] testifies with authority that all the promises of Jesus will be fulfilled while there is one believer upon the face of the earth to be perfected and saved. He testifies that all who deny that signs will follow them that believe, are unbelievers, who, according to the words of Christ, must be damned. (Orson Pratt’s Works, p. 82)

As a gift from God, the gift of tongues will remain with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a sign which will always attend the true believers of the Lord until “we all come to a unity of the faith.”

Merely claiming to possess a record of those gifts is not sufficient justification for obtaining salvation, nor is it evidence of true faith. Orson Pratt explains:

We and our forefathers have had a record of that gospel from ancient times unto the present; but a record is one thing and the power and authority to administer it is another. They are entirely distinct, as much so as the history of a good dinner enjoyed in ancient days is distinct from the partaking of that dinner in our day. The history of such an event will not satisfy a man’s hunger, any more than the mere record of what the everlasting gospel is will confer the authority to administer its ordinances. We may read, when we are very hungry, about the three or five thousand eating the loaves and fishes; but our appetite would still remain unsatisfied. It is very good to think that somebody else was fed and had their hunger satisfied; but it does us no good, so far as satisfying the cravings of our own appetites is concerned. So with regard to the New Testament containing the everlasting gospel. * * *

But if these gifts are part of the gospel, you do them away and you do away with the gospel. (JD 14:290, 293)

These gifts were very common in the early days of the Gospel restoration, as President Brigham Young testified:


[151] The gifts of the gospel are given to strengthen the faith of the believer;– “They shall speak with new tongues,” saith Jesus.  The stranger who is ignorant of our history inquires:–“Have you the gift of tongues in your Church?” Yes, and were I to permit it now, hundreds of the Elders and the sisters would rise up in this congregation and speak in new tongues, and interpret as well as the learned of the age; but I do not permit it. Does the gift of prophesy exist with us? This fact is so evident and plain that it appears to us almost a loss of time to talk about it. (JD 10:324)

The reason they abound is explained by Matthew Cowley:

The gifts of the Spirit are enjoyed by the Saints, not merely in isolated cases, but wherever the Saints are united; live in harmony with the spirit and precepts of the gospel. *** It may be said truly that wherever pure faith, unity, and zealous devotion exist, there is no dearth of the gifts of the gospel. (Imp. Era, 2:448, 449)

Spiritual gifts must exist in the true Church of Christ. Their absence is an indication of unbelief, as Anthon H. Lund explained:

This morning, when Brother John W. Taylor read the testimony of the Prophet Moroni to us, I was much struck with some of the words he read. We were told there that the spiritual gifts should always be found in the Church, and that if there ever came a time when these gifts were not in the Church, it would be on account of unbelief; and a woe was pronounced upon the inhabitants of the earth if such should be the case. I thought how clear the Prophet Moroni made this; that the Church whenever it is upon the earth must have the Holy Spirit within it; the members of the Church must have this Spirit, and the spiritual gifts must be manifested; otherwise it would be a dead Church. These words are recorded in the Book of Mormon–this wonderful book that has been brought forth by the [152] power of God in our age. This book was printed before there was a church organized, and yet we find these remarkable words in it, which at once furnish the world with a test whereby they can judge if this is the Church of Christ or not. It says that in the Church there must be found these gifts. Now, if Joseph Smith had not been an inspired man; if the Book of Mormon was not the word of God, but written by man, how careful such a man would have been not to furnish the world with a test like this whereby they could at once detect whether it was the Church of Christ or not. A man who should fraudulently give himself out to be an inspired man, would be careful that such words should not be given to the world. But these were the words of a Prophet that lived some fourteen hundred years before, and one who understood the Church of Christ.

When we look back upon the history of the Church we find that the spiritual gifts were very abundant in the original Church, and that whenever the Saints met they were much blessed with the power of the spirit. They were so eager to attend their meetings and to speak, prophesy, and talk in tongues, that the Apostle Paul had to regulate their meetings and give them counsel in regard to the manner of conducting them, that order might prevail. The Saints were abundantly blessed with these manifestations of the Spirit. But when the apostasy took place, the spirit of the Lord departed, its manifestations were fewer, and at last they were not known in the Church. Then it was very convenient to teach the people that revelations were no longer needed, that prophets were not needed; that these spiritual gifts were given only in the beginning of the Church, to convert men; but that they were not to continue with the members of the Church, and therefore they were done away. When Jesus appeared to the Nephites, upon this continent, He taught them the pure gospel and organized His church. He left this power of the Priesthood with His servants here, the same as He had with His servants upon the Eastern continent, and the spiritual blessings were enjoyed as long as the Church was in existence upon this continent. Moroni understood this so well that he said these gifts must [153] always be found in the Church, and if not it would be a sign of unbelief. (Anthon H. Lund, Conf. Repts. p. 32)

An elder by the name of James Allen had experienced the gift of tongues and noticed that this gift was diminishing in the Church. He wrote an article for the Improvement Era on this subject:


Passing of the Gift of Tongues:

I was somewhat startled a few days ago, while in conversation with a young brother who had just returned from a mission to Scandinavia, by hearing him remark that he had never in his life heard anyone speak in tongues. This same young brother was reared in Utah.  His father and mother, as also he himself, are good Latter-day Saints. He has filled an honorable mission, and is today strong in the faith, and yet, he has never heard and experienced one of the most common gifts of the gospel, as enjoyed years ago.

The remark was somewhat of a shock to me; because in the early days of the Church–where I was reared–there were so many of the Saints who enjoyed the gifts, and there were none among my acquaintances who had not heard the sweet sound of the gift of tongues.  Many times there would be both speaking and singing in tongues, in the same sacrament meeting. The interpretation of tongues was equally as common as the tongues themselves. In fact, we were wont to regard the speaking in tongues, the interpretation of tongues, the relating of dreams and prophesying, as an essential part of the latter-day gospel.  These gifts were a great comfort to the new converts. They strengthened our faith, and served as abiding testimonies to many of us. Sometimes we were taken aback a little by them, as I have on several occasions known parties to confess faults in their tongue that they were ashamed to confess openly in their natural tongue.

One remarkable case of the kind occurred with myself. At the time, I was about twelve years of age, and living seven miles from the meeting house, to which I walked every Sunday. My custom was to be at the [154] meeting at 10 o’clock in the morning. Some brother would ask me home to dinner. The afternoon meetings were sacrament and testimony meetings. I would, after this meeting, go with some brother to tea–the evening meal being called by that name; and after night meeting I would walk home.

On this special occasion, I refrained from partaking of the sacrament, as also from bearing my testimony, as was my habit. During the meeting, I sat in misery. I felt that I had sinned, but thought as no one present was cognizant of my fault, I considered it useless to enlighten them as to my fall from grace.  However, while sitting quietly at the back end of the hall, my body began to swell, so that I feared for the buttons on my clothes. Great drops of sweat stood on my face, and I was thoroughly miserable. The next thing that happened was that I was standing on the floor and talking away, as fast as my tongue could wag.  There was no volition in my rising. It seemed as though someone lifted me off my seat, and stood me on my feet. I tried not to talk, but I could not, until the power upon me let me stop.  I did not know what I was saying, as the language was strange to me. When through with the tongue; I sat down exhausted. But now came another trouble. It was the custom, when anyone spake in tongues, that some brother or sister would arise and give the interpretation, but in this case no interpretation was given.

After the close of the meeting, a brother asked me to go home to tea with him. On the way to his house, he asked me: Did I know the reason why my tongue was not interpreted? No! He said that I had been dancing.  Yes! I had been dancing in a public house? Yes! In fact, I had made a full and contrite confession, and begged the forgiveness of the Saints, promising never to do the like again.

He told me that three of the brethren sitting together each had the interpretation, and each had the same interpretation; and the question was, who should arise and give it?  No one of them was willing to give it in the meeting. They argued that I was so truly repentant and humble that they thought my punishment [155] was enough. They argued that one of them should take me home to tea and talk to me.

At that time I had a companion some years older than myself, who was a great clog dancer. I became infatuated with the dancing.  But my dancing would be done on the sidewalk, while Harry would occasionally step into a public house (saloon) and dance for money. I was too pious to dance for money, but not too pious to take a full share of what Harry earned. On the occasion of my fall from grace, Harry had remained in the public house so long that I got tired of waiting for him, and stepped in to see if he was not coming. When I got in, Harry was just coming off the floor, and one of the beer drinkers remarked: “Here’s a little devil that can dance; get on the floor and give us a step.” I declared that I could not dance; when the man said:  “You lying little rascal! I’ve seen you dance many a time!”

I was about to turn around and leave the house, when Harry looked at me as much as to say, “Now, Jim, thou gets half” The reproof in his eyes was too much for me, and I danced. But, oh! how wretched I was all that week! I never danced in such a place again.

This was a testimony that has never left me, of the power and discernment of the Spirit of God. Many times when assailed by doubts–who has not been so assailed?–the recollection of that circumstance has come to my aid, and I thank God for a never-dying testimony.

The first person that I ever heard speak in tongues was Lorenzo D. Barnes, in the year 1842. He died the same year, in England–one of the first, if not the first, American elders to die in a foreign country.

I fear that I have made this narrative too long. But I could relate other interesting incidents with regard to the blessed gifts of the gospel. But I fear to be troublesome.

There is a question that comes into my mind: If men now think they can get along without the gifts of the gospel, may not the time come when they may believe they can get along without its [156] ordinances? (Dr. James Allen, Ogden, Utah, Imp. Era, 8:109-111)

Orson Pratt also recognized the need for the gifts of the spirit to attend the true gospel. In 1870 he warned the Saints to wake up to the power of God, that these gifts were not to be done away.

Is the Holy Ghost given?  If it is, all these gifts are given; and if the Latter-day Saints are not in possession of these gifts, they are not in possession of the gospel and are no better off than the Baptists, Methodists, or Presbyterians, and we all know they have not the gospel; we all know they have not the power of God among them. They do not believe in it; they say it is done away.  We all understand this. Well, Latter-day Saints, you are no better if you have not these gifts.  But you have had 41 years experience and I think you know whether you have them or not.  If you have, blessed are ye; but if you have them not, it is time you wake up and began to hunt around for the gospel if it can be found on the earth. (JD 14:185)

It is a dangerous time to live when God ceases to bless His people with these precious gifts of the Gospel.

This faithless scientific age in which we live exhibits but few of the gifts and powers of God. At a time when the works and purposes of God should be the most manifest, it appears that very few of God’s blessings are acknowledged or observed.  As faith in God dwindles, so do His gifts and powers among men.

And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way and know not the God in whom they should trust. (Mormon 9:20)


[157] In the early days of both the Christian Church and the LDS Church, the gifts and powers of God were abundant.  Gradually, they began to decline. As faith and righteousness decreased, so did the gifts. Moroni warned:

And I would exhort you my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men. ***

And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth–that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief. And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.

And wo unto them who shall do these things away and die, for they die in their sins, and they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God, and I speak it according to the words of Christ; and I lie not.  (Moroni 10:19, 24-26)

As faith in God has decreased in the Church, so have the gifts and power of God. The decline in the gifts of the spirit indicates a mark of apostasy. We are treading in the footsteps of the former Christians, who thought “all is well.” It is a day of warning–and we ourselves have need to take heed of that warning!



[158]                             Chapter 16



We stand at a critical juncture in the destiny of this wicked generation. We may have already fallen into enough wickedness to prove our apostasy and suffer our deserved destruction with the rest of the world. Or, we may heed the warnings of the prophets to repent, and get back to living the original and eternal principles of the gospel. But that will take an about face, which would be too difficult for most people. Mormonism has become a world church, with worldly ways.

By showing God our faith and repentance, God may restore those gifts to us. We may again receive revelation, prophecy and even the gift of tongues to guide us through the coming catastrophes.

There is hope for a few faithful souls because some prophecies indicate that a few people will prove true to God and will help usher in the great promised Millennium. According to scripture the time is coming when there will be many grand gifts and powerful blessings given to these few faithful Saints. Orson Pratt referred to these prophecies when he said:

The missionaries who are sent with this great latter-day message, are destined to “go forth unto the ends of the earth, unto the Gentiles first, and then behold, and lo, they shall turn unto the Jews; and then [159] cometh the day when the arm of the Lord shall be revealed in power in convincing the nations, the heathen nations, the house of Joseph, of the gospel of their salvation. For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ.” By this extract from modern revelation, it will be perceived that we do not look for the full manifestations of the Lord’s power, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Although we now look for the blessings and signs promised to believers, yet we know that there will be a manifold increase of these precious gifts and powers, when the day alluded to shall arrive. We are thankful to obtain blessings even in a small degree; and when we see these blessings increasing from year to year, in proportion to our faith and diligence, we are still more encouraged to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints, believing that as gifts ceased gradually, and not all at once, in proportion to the decrease of faith, so they will be restored gradually in proportion to the increase of faith. (Mill. Star 28:516)

* * *

The Prophet Joseph also spoke of this future time:

One of the most important points in the faith of the Church of the Latter-day Saints, through the fulness of the everlasting gospel is the gathering of Israel; that happy time when Jacob shall go up to the house of the Lord, to worship Him in spirit and in truth, to live in holiness; when the Lord will restore His judges as at the first, and His counselors as at the beginning; when every man may sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to molest or make afraid; when He will turn to them a pure language, and the earth will be filled with sacred knowledge, as the waters cover the great deep; when it shall no longer be said, the Lord lives that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but the Lord lives that [160] brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He has driven them. That day is one, all important to all men. (TPJS, p. 93)

Men shall develop and progress in knowledge and understanding until they shall all learn the pure language of God.

Will there be a pure language restored? There will, through the testimony of the prophets. We are also told that tongues shall cease. We’re to understand by this that the great varieties of languages and tongues that have existed on the earth for many ages are to be done away; they are to cease; now something must take the place of those imperfect, confused languages and tongues. What is that something? It is a language that is spoken by higher orders of beings than ourselves; that is, beings that have progressed further then ourselves. It is that same language that was spoken for nearly two thousand years after the creation; that was spoken by Adam and by his children, from generation to generation that came down to the flood, and was taught extensively among the children of Noah until the Lord by a direct miracle caused the people to forget their own mother tongue, and gave them a variety of new tongues of which they had no knowledge, and by this means scattered them abroad upon the face of the whole earth. (Orson Pratt, Masterful Discourses, p. 497)

As man’s mind expands and his desires are for truth and righteousness, he begins to expand in his views and comprehends things faster.  As man continues to progress, both in this life and in the life to come, he will develop new faculties and powers in his ability to communicate intelligence.

For instance, how do you suppose that spirits, after they leave these bodies, communicate one with another? Do they communicate their ideas by the [161] actual vibrations of the atmosphere the same as we do? I think not. I think if we could be made acquainted with the kind of language by which spirits converse with spirits, we would find that they do not communicate their ideas in this manner; they have a more refined way; I mean that portion of them that are in the school of progress; they have undoubtedly a more refined system among them of communicating their ideas.  This system will be so constructed that they cannot only communicate at the same moment upon one subject, as we have to do by making sounds in the atmosphere, but communicate vast numbers of ideas, all at the same time, on a great variety of subjects; and the mind will be capable of perceiving them. (Orson Pratt, Masterful Discourses, p. 498)

The prophets of God spoke as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost. So, too, should men learn that speaking in a native language or in an unknown tongue ought to be done by the power and influence of the Spirit of God, or else the communication is of little avail. The purpose of the tongue is that it be controlled and directed in its power to do good. A man’s sanctification is commensurate with his ability to speak the mind and will of God–to edify and to bless, for faith cometh by the hearing of the word of God. One of the most important duties of man is to teach the gospel. Only through the medium of the Spirit of God shall men and nations achieve unity in language and in peace.

Words are used in healing the sick; they confirm every gospel ordinance; through words we speak to and for God. Hearing the word of God will do more to change mankind than any other influence. It is through speaking that souls can be saved, nations can be brought to learn peace, and the kingdom of God can be established among nations. The greatest single effect from speaking will come from words which will increase faith and cause men to repent and to serve God.