Organization of the church.
By this time many people came to Joseph, some out of curiosity, some to be taught of the wonderful truths which he had received, and some, I am sorry to say, came to do him harm. As Joseph and Oliver now had power to baptize, a number of those who believed were baptized by them.
The time had now come to organize the Church and the Lord revealed to Joseph that it should be done on the 6th day of April, 1830. Accordingly on that day six men who had been baptized met at the house of Peter Whitmer, Sen., at Fayette, Seneca county, state of New York. Their names were Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Samuel H. Smith, and David Whitmer.
Joseph tells us what was done at this meeting as follows:
“Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our Heavenly Father, we proceeded to call on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the kingdom of God and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a Church according to the commandments we had received. To this they all consented. I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery and ordained him an elder of the Church of Jesus Christ; after which he ordained me also to the office of an elder of said Church. We then took bread, blessed it, and broke it with them; also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them. We then laid our hands on each member of the Church present, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree—some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord and rejoiced exceedingly.”
Thus was the true Church of Christ again on the earth. During the hundreds of years when the world had lain in darkness, not a man could have been found who had the authority to confirm a member of the church; but now there was a beginning, a very small beginning it is true, but the promise is that it will grow and increase until it shall fill the whole earth.
The first public meeting after the Church was organized was held five days later at the same place. At this meeting Oliver Cowdery preached the first public discourse. He explained the principles of the gospel, and quite a number believed and were baptized.
Shortly after this time Joseph went to a town called Colesville, in Broome county, N.Y., not far from Pennsylvania to visit his friend Joseph Knight who had aided him when he was at work on the Book of Mormon. Joseph held a number of meetings in this place and made some friends. Among those who attended these meetings was Newel Knight, son of Joseph Knight. This young man had many talks with Joseph about the gospel, but still he kept putting off doing his duty in being baptized. Because of this the evil one got power over him and treated him so badly that the prophet was sent for. When Joseph arrived he found his friend Newel acting strangely. His face and body twisted in an awful manner and at last he was actually caught up from the floor and tossed about. Many of the neighbors now came in, but they could do nothing to help the suffering man.