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Testament of the Twelve Apostles Being Assigned the Authority to Lead the Church of Jesus Christ

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Below was written in the hand of Orson Hyde, March 1844:

We, the undersigned, do hereby solemnly, sincerely, and truly testify before God, Angels, and men, unto all people unto whom this certificate may come, that we were present at a Council in the latter part of the Month of March last, held in the City of Nauvoo in the upper part of the brick building situate upon Water Street, commonly known here as “Joseph’s Store,” in which Council Joseph Smith did preside; and the greater part of the Twelve Apostles were present. Namely, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Parley P Pratt, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, Amasa Lyman, Willard Richards, and Wilford Woodruff.  These we feel confident were all present on that occasion, besides many others who were of the quorum of High Priests to which we ourselves belong.

In this Council, Joseph Smith seemed somewhat depressed in Spirit, and took the liberty to open his heart to us, concerning his presentiments of the future. His own language to us on that occasion, as nearly as we can recollect, was as follows. “Brethren, the Lord bids me hasten the work in which we are engaged. He will not suffer that you should wait for your endowments until the Temple is done. Some important Scene is near to take place. It may be that my enemies will kill me, and in case they should, and the Keys and power which rest on me not be imparted to you, they will be lost from the Earth; but if I can only succeed in placing them upon your heads, then let me fall a victim to murderous hands if God will suffer it, and I can go with all pleasure and satisfaction, knowing that my work is done, and the foundation laid on which the kingdom of God is to be reared in this dispensation of the fullness of times. Upon the shoulders of the Twelve must the responsibility of leading this Church hence forth rest until you shall appoint others to succeed you. Your enemies cannot kill you all at once, and should any of you be killed, you can lay your hands upon others and fill up your quorum. Thus can this power and these Keys be perpetuated in the Earth. Brethren, you have many storms to pass through, and many sore trials await you. You will know what it is to be bound with chains and with fetters for this cause sake. God knows I pity you and feel for you; but if you are called to lay down your lives, die like men, and pass immediately beyond your the reach of your enemies. After they have killed you, they can harm you no more. Should you have to walk right into danger and the jaws of death, fear no evil; Jesus Christ has died before you.”

After this appointment was made, and The Twelve received confirmed by the holy anointing under the hands of Joseph and Hyrum, Joseph continued his speech unto them, saying, while he walked the floor and throw back the collar of his coat upon his shoulders, “I roll the burden and responsibility of leading this Church off from my shoulders on to yours. Now, round up your shoulders and stand under it like men; for the Lord is going to let me rest an a while.” Never shall we forget his feelings or his words on this occasion. After he had thus spoken, he continued to walk the floor, saying: “Since I have rolled the burden off from my shoulders, I feel as light as a cork I feel that I am free. I thank my God for this deliverance.”

We gave our testimony on the 8th of September last before a special Conference in this City, at which Sidney Rigdon was tried and excommunicated from the Church; and altho’ we declared it then in the presence of many thousand people, we now feel it a pleasure in reducing it to writing, and freely give our names to the world in confirmation of the above statements; and further, that Joseph Smith did declare that he had conferred upon the Twelve every key and every power that he ever held himself before God. This our testimony we expect to meet in a coming day when all parties will know that we have told the truth and have not lied, so help us God.