After the company were assembled, and the meeting opened by prayer of President J. Smith Junr., he (President Smith) arose and said, he had something to lay before the Council, and he thought if he were heard patiently, he could lay before the Council an item which they would to be of importance. He had for himself, learned a fact, by experience, which on reflection, always gave him a deep sorrow. It is a fact (said President Smith) that if I now had in my possession every decision which has been had upon important items of doctrine and duties which have been given since the commencement of this work, I would not part with it for any sum of money, but we have neglicted to take minutes of such things, thinking, perhaps, that they would never benefit us afterwards, which, had we now, would decide almost any point of doctrine, which might be agitated. but this has been neglicted and now we cannot bear record to the Church, and to the world, of the great and glorious manifestations which have been made to us, with that degree of power and authority we otherwise could, if we now had these things to publish abroad. Since the Twelve are now chosen, I wish to tell them a course^ which they may pursue and be benefitted hereafter, in a point of light of which they are not now aware. If they will, on every time they assemble, appoint a person to preside over them during the meeting and one or more to keep a record of their proceedings, and on the decision of every question or item, let it be what it may, let such decision be noted down, such decison will forever remain upon record, and appear an item of covenent or doctrine.1 An item thus decided may appear at the time of little or no worth, but should it be published, and one of you lay hands on it after, you will find of infinite worth, no only to your brethren, but it will be a feast to your own soul.
¶ Here is another important item. If you assemble from time to time and proceed to discuss important questions, and pass decisions upon the same, and fail to note them down, by & by you will be driven to straits, from which, you will not be able to extricate yourselves, because you may be in a situation not to bring your faith to bear with sufficient perfection or power to obtain the desired information, or perhaps, for neglecting to write these things, when God revealed them, not esteeming them of sufficient worth, the Spirit may withdraw and God may be angry, and here is or was a vast knowledge of infinite importance which is now lost. What was the cause of this? It came in consequence of slothfulness or a neglect to appoint a man to occupy a few moments in writing all these decisions.
Here let me prophesy. The time will come, when, if you neglect to do this thing, you will fall by the hands of unrighteous men. Were you to be brought before the authorities, and, be accused of any crime or misdemeanor, and be as innocent as the angels of God, unless you can prove yourselves to have been somewhere else, your enemies will prevail over you: but if you can bring twelve men to testify that you were in a certain place at that time, you will escape their hands. Now, if you will be careful to keep minutes of these things, as I have said, it will be one of the most important records ever seen, for every such decision will, ever after remain as items of doctrine and covenants. I have now placed before you these items, for you consideration and you are left to act according to your own judgements.
The council then expressed their approbation concerning the foregoing remarks of president Smith and proceeded to appoint elders Orson Hyde & Wm. E. McLellin to serve as clerks for the meeting. After which the following quotation was prepared by president Smith (viz.) What importance is there attached to the calling of these twelve apostles different from the other callings or offices of the Church? After some discussion by elders, Patten Young, Wm. Smith & McLelin, President Smith gave the following decision. They are the twelve apostles, who are called to the office of traveling high council, who are to preside over all the churches of the Saints among the Gentiles, where there is no presidency established, and they are to travel and preach among the Gentiles, until the Lord shall command them to go to the Jews. 2 They are to hold the keys of this ministry, to unlock the door of the kingdom of heaven unto all nations, and to preach the Gospel to every creature. This is the power, authority and virtue of their apostleship. The meeting close by president J. Smith Junr in prayer.
1. The later established office of "President" of the Twelve Apostles did not exist at this time.
2. The apostles were to perform the function of a "high council" for those regions where one was not yet appointed. The role of the Twelve would be expanded considerably in the Nauvoo period following their mission to the British Isles. Joseph would there place them in their defined position (D&C 107) next to the First Presidency both at home and abroad, giving them a strong policy making role as well as including them in the inner circle of temple ordinance instruction and administration. See 18Jun42 for example.