Conference moments: With Spirit and power

In the month prior to the April 1898 general conference, President Wilford Woodruff had been feeling weak and sick. Not until the day before the conference convened in the Salt Lake Tabernacle did the 91-year-old leader feel he would be well enough to attend and preside.

Now, at the close of the conference, the venerable prophet addressed the congregation with power and authority as he recalled the last speech the Prophet Joseph Smith ever made to the Quorum of the Twelve. It was in a building in Nauvoo, and he - President Woodruff - had been present on the occasion."He was clothed upon with the Spirit and power of God," President Woodruff remembered about Joseph. "His face was clear as amber. The room was filled as with consuming fire. He stood three hours upon his feet.

"Said he: `You Apostles of the Lamb of God have been chosen to carry out the purposes of the Lord on the earth. Now, I have received, as the Prophet, seer and revelator, standing at the head of this dispensation, every key, every ordinance, every principle and every Priesthood that belongs to the last dispensation and fulness of times. And I have sealed all these things upon your heads. . . .'

"I am the only witness left on earth that can bear witness of this, and I am thankful that I have lived to see the day in which I stand. I am thankful to see the sons of these prophets and apostles holding the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation."

President Woodruff's testimony was a denunciation, in effect, of all false claims to authority that had been made since the death of Joseph Smith. It also affirmed the validity of the Restored Church under its then-current leadership, an affirmation that extends 100 years later to this day, in accordance with the principle of succession in the Church.

Clothed with the same Spirit and power of God that had attended the Prophet Joseph Smith on the occasion described, President Woodruff gave what would be his last general conference address. He died five months later, on Sept. 2, 1898.

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