Orson Pratt teaches that an individual does not have the right to make the final decision about the meaning of Scripture or receive revelation for the Church; that is the duty of the President of the Church alone.

Speech / Court Transcript
Orson Pratt
Scribed Verbatim

Orson Pratt, "Union of Spirit and Sentiment—Submission to the Living Oracles of the Church—a Confession, &c.," January 29, 1860, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool: Amasa Lyman, 1860), 7:374-75

Amasa Mason Lyman
Orson Pratt
Reading Public, Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Have we not a right to make up our minds in relation to the things recorded in the word of God, and speak about them, whether the living oracles believe our views or not? We have not the right. Why? Because the mind of man is weak: one man may make up his mind in this way, and another man may make up his mind in another way, and a third individual may have his views; and thus every man is left to be his own authority, and is governed by his own judgment, which he takes as his standard.

Do you not perceive that this would, in a short time, cause a complete disunion and division of sentiment throughout the whole Church? That would never fulfil the words of my text—would never bring to pass the sayings of Isaiah, that their watchmen should lift up their voice, &c.

In this thing I have sinned; and for this I am willing to make my confession to the Saints. I ought to have yielded to the views of my brethren. I ought to have said, as Jesus did to his Father on a certain occasion, "Father, thy will be done."

"You have made this confession," says one; "and now we want to ask you a question on the subject: What do you believe concerning those points now?"

I will answer in the words of Paul—"I know nothing of myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. So far as revelation from the heavens is concerned, I have had none in relation to those points of doctrine.

I will tell you what I have had revealed to me: I have had revealed to me that the Book of Mormon is from God; I have had revealed to me that the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is also from God; I have had revealed to me that this is the Church and kingdom of God; I have had revealed to me that this is the last dispensation of the fulness of times. These things are matters of knowledge with me: I know them to be true, and I do know about many things in relation to God and to future events. But, when I reflect upon the subject, I have very little knowledge concerning many things. What do I know, for instance, about much of what is revealed in the last book of the New Testament, called John's Revelations? What do I know about much written in the book of Daniel? Some few things are quite plain: but what do I understand in relation to some few of the predictions in the 11th chapter of Daniel? I doubt whether there is a person, unless he has been favoured with direct revelation from heaven, who knows but little about John's Revelations. What do I know about many things in relation to the celestial kingdom? Has the celestial kingdom been opened to my mind? No. Have I gazed upon it in vision? No. Have I seen God sitting on his throne, surrounded by his holy angels? No. Have I knowledge of the laws and order and government and rule which regulate that kingdom? No. if the revelations seem to apparently convey this or that idea, still I may be entirely mistaken in regard to the meaning of those revelations.

There is one thing I will assure you of—God will never reveal anything to me, or to any other man, which will come in contact with the views and revelations which he gives to the man who holds the keys. We never need expect such a thing.

"But," inquires one, "have you not felt anxious that the Church should follow your ideas as laid down in the Seer?" I have not. If I had, I should have preached them; I should have tried to reason with you to convince you of their apparent truth.

I have always been anxious the Church should be governed by him who has the right to govern it, to receive revelations, and to give counsel for its guidance, through whom correct doctrine comes and is unfolded to the children of men.

God placed Joseph Smith at the head of this Church; God has likewise placed Brigham Young at the head of this Church; and he has required you and me, male and female, to sustain those authorities thus placed over us in their position; and that authority is binding on all Quorums and individuals of Quorums. He has never released you nor me from those obligations. We are commanded to, give heed to their words in all things, and receive their words as from the mouth of God, in all patience and faith. When we do not this, we get into darkness. God has placed them where they are, and requires you and me to continue in our faith and patience to receive the truth at their hands. I am going to do it. I am going to repent. I arose this morning to unburden my feelings in regard to these matters.

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