Ein Ruf aus der Wüste 4.6: Orson Hyde on confirmation

What is a priesthood ordinance’s method of action? What Hyde describes in this short article seems to be both less direct, and to emphasize the mediation of the priesthood and the priest conducting an ordinance, more than we typically would today. The gift of the Holy Ghost also seems conspicuously absent.

Article 6.

On confirmation after baptism by the laying on of hands.

This is an ordinance that is carefully observed in our church, and no one can be regarded as a member of it unless he has been confirmed by the laying on of hands of the elders. After the candidate has been baptized, it is the duty of the priest exercising his office to explain to him the benefit and the specific nature of this ordinance, and to make it understandable to his intellect. After this happens, he must proceed to turn to Almighty God in solemn prayer and lay hands on the candidate in the name of Jesus so that he may thus dedicate him to the service of the Lord and confirm upon him the blessings of the Holy Ghost.

Now if everything has been done in a sober, clear, and reverent way, then we have cause to expect the approval of Heaven, which will graciously preserve the fruits of our labor for us for eternal life after we have been faithful devotees of virtue and righteousness. Since those who exercise the office of priesthood comprise the connecting link, so to speak, between Christ and his people, then by the laying on of their hands, we are given a part of that spirit that flows from the bosom of the most high God. And just as the branches of the vine draw their nourishment from the sap that rises from the roots and brings life and vigor to their farthest ends, so also the Spirit of God, which flows from the eternal source, conducts life, health and joy to all members via the channel of the priesthood and imparts to them those feelings that create a glorious and heavenly bond among them and with their eternal Head, where they in this way become one with Christ, just as Christ is one with the Father. For when one member suffers, they all suffer, and when one member is honored, they rejoice together. About this, Christ says to his disciples: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the Father who sent me. And those who despise you despise me, and in despising me they also despise Him who sent me.” And again he said: “Whatever you have done to one of the least of my brothers, you have done it to me.” —

4 comments for “Ein Ruf aus der Wüste 4.6: Orson Hyde on confirmation

  1. Jonathan, I read it a little differently than your introductory paragraph suggests you did.
    I see the gift of the Holy Ghost as clearly present in Hyde’s first paragraph as it is in the ordinance itself. (Per current Church instructions, the one confirming “Uses the words “Receive the Holy Ghost” (not “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”).) I see it in Hyde’s second paragraph as the “Spirit of God,” a phrase we use in many ways at least sometimes referring to guidance through the Holy Ghost. I am not familiar enough with historical church teachings to be sure whether Hyde would have had in mind the distinction between Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit (of Spirit of God) that Widtsoe, for example, propounded later. Maybe my seeing the gift of the Holy Ghost in Hyde’s second paragraph is an erroneous reading.
    What did surprise me was the emphasis on teaching the meaning of baptism after rather than before baptism and the emphasis on “priesthood” being the “channel” between members and God. Maybe I’ve misunderstood that as well, though there was once among several times I confirmed someone a member of the Church, that I could tell I was used as a channel for a power that passed through me into that new member. I’m not convinced there was any necessary priesthood channeling of the spirit for her thereafter.
    What have I misread?

  2. Wondering, yeah, I think I put it badly in my post. I’ll edit that. I think I was expecting to hear more about what the Holy Ghost would do for the confirmed individual, and Hyde doesn’t say much about that, but the gift of the Holy Ghost is definitely mentioned.

    With explaining the ordinance, though, I think “this ordinance” refers to confirmation rather than baptism. So I read it as: After the person is baptized, the priest explains the ordinance of confirmation. But I had the same reaction you did the first time I read it.

  3. Thanks, Jonathan. Not the first time, and won’t be the last, that I’ve misidentified an antecedent.

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