Compare the story of James Talmage (some molten metal splashed into his eye, and his eye eventually healed after doctors removed all the slag—his sight was “preserved”) with his brother Albert who lost one eye completely (removed) and was blinded by a pitchfork and, despite many blessing from Apostles and Prophets, never had his sight restored.
…As a scientist, James ran the risks of laboratory experimentation in a day when safety was not yet the priority it has since become. He recorded a harrowing episode in his journal: “While pouring molten slag from an Assay Crucible into the Mould, or rather after such had poured, an explosion occurred, by which some of the fused material was thrown into my left eye. My first impression was that the eye was entirely ruined; the pain of course was intense.” He received aid and also a priesthood administration from some of his fellow teachers. The blessing had the effect of temporarily causing the pain to cease long enough for the eye to be examined. The lids were severely burned and the eyeball itself sustained a half-inch gash. Soon the pain returned in force, and “the only relief I experienced from the excruciating pain was by anointing and administration of the priesthood; and that never failed!”
Several days passed, during which Brother Talmage suffered considerably, unable to sleep, but receiving periodic administrations from friends and associates. “The Priesthood promised me recovery, and also that the sight should be preserved; and I felt faith in the assurance.”
After suffering another day of intense pain he wrote, “How I can sympathetically feel for the blind—and my brother Albert especially. He has been blind now over fourteen years; and yet he has learned the lesson of contentment and resignation. This night was the worst—the eye ball throbbing so violently as to be observed in motion through thick bandages; and it bled profusely.” Two days later, unable to lie down or sleep, he noted: “Inflammation apparently subsiding though the eye bleeds and discharges profusely.”
He continued to receive blessings from friends and associates. Two more days passed and then his eye began to heal. “The doctors pronounce the improvement miraculous. I feel it so. I am a believer in Faith; but I think it should be accompanied by works also. For this reason I submit to [medical treatements]. My eye had to be freed from the foreign bodies [slag]—and this required works. I beleive in doing all I can to help myself, by my own labors as well as by the aid of others; and then ask the Lord to accept of and recognize the endeavor.” A week later, Brothet Talmage was able to return to his teaching duties at the academy, though with the left eye still bandaged. The experience had been long and difficult, but also one that gave him deeper understanding of the mysterious methods employed by the Lord in the lives of his children. Of special note, James wrote:
“My greatest thanks are due for the clear way in which the benefit of this accident has been shown me. I cannot describe in detail even here in my private journal; but I have been made to know that if this mishap had not befallen me, a more terrible thing might have happened.” Several days later he wrote that he was “Able to be in my office all day, attending to work; and so, in spite of the doctors’ prophecies I am nearing perfect recovery. For it thanks are due the Giver of Good and to Him I render them.”
From “To Whom Shall We Go?” Historical Patterns of Restoration Believers with Serious Doubts, pg 30, right column:
When he was eleven years old, James E. Talmage accidentally blinded his younger brother Albert with a pitchfork. At age thirty-one, while writing the first draft of The Articles of Faith, James asked members of the First Presidency and Twelve to administer to his brother. They inquired if he had the faith to be healed after twenty years of blindness, and Albert said, “Yes.” In the priesthood ordinance of healing, they promised him a complete restoration of his sight. James recorded his equally unconditional expectation for the fulfillment of this apostolic blessing. Days passed, then weeks, then months, and Albert remained blind. Years passed, and Albert received equally emphatic promises of restored sight from other apostles and prophets. He remained blind the rest of his life. Did either brother experience religious doubts as a consequence? The diaries of James E. Talmage do not say so specifically, but they do indicate his own bewilderment and ultimate resignation about the non-fulfillment of priesthood blessings given and received in absolute faith.