Ein Ruf aus der Wüste 4.11: Orson Hyde on lay clergy

If I were writing about the benefits of lay clergy in a missionary tract, I would probably spend less time on dusting one’s feet.

Article 11.

On the maintenance and way of life of our priests.

In our church there is no priest who receives a salary for his preaching. Instead they are all dependent on the generosity of the people among whom they work.(1) We do not wear our clothing in a certain style or with the intention of being thus distinguished from other fellow citizens. Instead we only provide ourselves with such clothing as is good and decent and least distinguished from the people.(2)

We also believe that it is lawful and just if a priest decides to take a wife; however, he cannot choose a second for himself as long as the first is alive. If she is dead, however, he has complete freedom to remarry. We regard this as honorable and praiseworthy before God and man, for it seems to us that the man might one day be accountable for this great and special purpose of his creation.(3)

The use of tobacco is not allowed in our church, especially not by priests. Although this custom is prevalent almost everywhere, we can only regard it as a very filthy one that uses a plant for a purpose for which it was truly not created.(4)

One will recall that a previous article spoke of the various revelations and commands that the Lord has given us since the organization of our church.(5) And in order to show more clearly the nature of our maintenance, I will here insert a few excerpts from them.(6)

“And again I say unto you, my friends (for from now on I will call you my friends), it is also expedient that I give you this command so that you may become as my friends in the days when I journeyed with them to preach the gospel in my strength. I did not suffer them to carry a bag or bundle or even just two garments with them. Behold! I am sending you out to test the world, and every laborer is worthy of his payment. And each one who goes forth to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and who will not fail to proceed faithfully in all things shall not become darkened or weary in spirit, body or limbs, and no hair of his head will fall to Earth unheeded.”

“Therefore let none among you from this hour on take bag or bundle with him when he goes forth to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God.(7) For behold! I am sending you to rebuke the world for its unjust deeds and to proclaim to it a judgment that will come over it. And whoever receives you, I will be there also” — for:

“I will be at your right hand, and at your left, and my spirit will dwell in your hearts, and my angels will be around you to support you.

“Whoever receives you, receives me, and he who nourishes or clothes you or provides money will in no way lose his reward. But he who does not do these things cannot be my disciple; for only in this will you recognize my disciples. If anyone gives you a cloak or an entire garment, take the old one and cast it among the poor, and continue on your way in gladness. If someone does not receive you, then depart from him alone with yourselves and wash your feet, even with water, with pure water, in heat or in cold, and give testimony against him to your Heavenly Father and return no more to him. And in whatever village, or in whatever city you enter, do the same. Regardless of this, seek diligently and do not hesitate; and woe to the house, the village or the city that casts you out, or your words or my testimony. Yea, woe upon the city, the village and the house that casts out you or your words or my testimony, for I the Almighty have stretched out my hands over the nations to scourge them for their ungodliness.”

* * *

(1) This isn’t the same definition of lay clergy that we use today. What worked for Hyde probably wouldn’t work for us, but we share his preference for lay clergy.

(2) I wonder what counter-examples Hyde had in mind: only priestly vestments or clerical collars, or was he thinking of clothing styles preferred by other religious movements?

(3) I feel like Hyde may have missed a memo or two. In any case, his argument in favor of married priests is about to be overtaken by events in 3…2…1…

(4) I was surprised by how strongly Hyde rejects tobacco use. “The Word of Wisdom was just advice and not mandatory until the early 20th century,” people say, and I have my own stories of pipe-smoking pioneer forbears. But judging by Hyde, at least tobacco seems to be moving toward strict prohibition much earlier.

(5) That would be Article 10, so the reader hasn’t even turned the page yet.

(6) What follows is D&C 84:77-80, 86-94, with slight omissions at the end of some citations (although I’d have to look at what D&C 84 looked like in 1842 to be sure the omissions are Hyde’s). Just in case there are any interesting comparisons, I haven’t copied the text from today’s D&C or tried to follow its language. Instead, I’m trying to translate the quotation as neutrally as possible.

(7) If it were me writing about lay clergy, I would probably have ended the quotation here. That he doesn’t suggests that Hyde may have seen the rest of the verses as significant for the topic. Considering that Hyde was writing while serving abroad as an itinerant missionary, he may have felt more strongly about the material support he received from the people he preached among. That is, he may not have distinguished rejecting the Book of Mormon from failure to provide frequent dinner appointments as clearly as we do.

1 comment for “Ein Ruf aus der Wüste 4.11: Orson Hyde on lay clergy

  1. It’s interesting that the pamphlet was so emphatic about tobacco. If I remember correctly, it was that same year (1842) that Hyrum Smith gave a pretty strong sermon in Nauvoo about the Word of Wisdom where he was against tobacco as well. I wonder if there’s a connection.

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