Classic Truth: Administering the Form Without the Power

The following is a story from the life of the pioneer saint, Joseph Bates Noble:

By request, I shall attempt to refer to some things, of which I have been an eyewitness, for the benefit of the numerous readers of the Instructor.

The first matter that impresses itself upon my mind is an incident that occurred directly after the expulsion of the Saints from the state of Missouri. We found shelter in and about Quincy, Illinois. Soon after this, President Joseph Smith and his fellow prisoners in Liberty Jail found more liberty outside than they had for five months inside. I may tell you at some future time about certain things that happened at Liberty that came under my observation.

About this time a general conference was held at Quincy, at which some six or eight persons were called to go on missions, and I was one of the number.

We soon commenced to move our families up the river about fifty miles, to a place called Commerce, afterwards Nauvoo. Quite a number of us crossed the Mississippi River, to the Iowa side, to avail ourselves of some log cabins that had formerly been used as barracks for soldiers, at a place called Montrose.

Our exposure during the previous winter caused a great deal of sickness. I and some of my family were attacked with bilious fever. I think I can safely say that one half of the families of the whole people had more or less sickness, and many died. Two of my children were buried; and I was nigh unto death. So low was I that my wife asked me, in tears, if I was dying.

At this time Brother Elijah Fordham, a next-door neighbor to me, was very sick; indeed they were preparing clothes for his burial. In this trying hour the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Prophet Joseph Smith, and he, with Brothers Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt and others, came to Brother Fordham’s house and commanded him, in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and walk. He immediately jumped from his dying bed, kicked off the drafts from his feet, and came into my house, following the brethren, and shouting, leaping, and praising God with all his might.

President Smith, while leading the way to my bed, made this remark: “Brother Noble, you have been too long with me to lie here.” As soon as I saw him the tears of joy burst from my eyes. In a moment he was by my bedside, and took my by the hand. Without waiting for the other brethren to get to my bed, he commanded me, in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and walk. I arose, and while putting on my clothes I fainted. When I regained consciousness I was on the bed, and Joseph was standing close to me.

As soon as my eyes met his he said, “Wherefore didst thou doubt?” and again commanded me to arise.

While he was speaking I felt the healing virtue flowing through every part of my system. I immediately arose and walked, rejoicing and praising the Lord with all my heart, for His blessing resting upon me, by which I was made whole.

Brother Fordham was more active and stronger than I was. He never sat down in my house, but as soon as Brother Joseph had given directions to my wife concerning some nourishment for me, he left with the rest of the brethren. They went and administered to others who were sick, and called them up in a similar manner.

Joseph, at this time, rebuked the Elders for administering the form without the power. Said he, “Let the Elders either obtain the power of God to heal the sick, or let them cease to administer the form without the power.”

Source: Joseph B. Noble, “Early Scenes in Church History,” Juvenile Instructor 15 (March 15, 1880):112. Bolded portions added for thematic emphasis.

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