History of the Church, Vol. 1 Chapter 16. [Aug. 1831 - Sept. 1831]
The Founding of Zion.
[For an explanation of abbreviations used see vol. 1 chapter 1.]
[Copyright © 1998 BOAP. All rights reserved.]
On the second day of August, I assisted the Colesville branch of the Church(1) to lay the first log, for a house, as a foundation of Zion in Kaw(2) township, twelve miles west of Independence. The log was carried and placed by twelve men, in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel. At the same time, through prayer, the land of Zion was consecrated and dedicated by Elder Sidney Rigdon for the gathering of the Saints.(3) It was a season of joy to those present, and afforded a glimpse of the future, which time will yet unfold to the satisfaction of the faithful.
As we had received a commandment for Elder Rigdon to write a description of the land of Zion, we sought for all the information necessary to accomplish so desirable an object.(4) The country is unlike the timbered states of the East. As far as the eye can reach the beautiful rolling prairies lie spread out like a sea of meadows; and are decorated with a growth of flowers so gorgeous and grand as to exceed description; and nothing is more fruitful, or a richer stockholder in the blooming prairie than the honey bee. Only on the water courses is timber to be found. There in strips from one to three miles in width, and following faithfully the meanderings of the streams, it grows in luxuriant forests. The forests are a mixture of oak, hickory, black walnut, elm, ash, cherry, honey locust, mulberry, coffee bean, hackberry, boxelder, and bass wood; with the addition of cottonwood, butterwood, pecan, and soft and hard maple upon the bottoms. The shrubbery is beautiful, and consists in part of plums, grapes, crab apple, and persimmons.
The soil is rich and fertile; from three to ten feet deep, and generally composed of a rich black mold, intermingled with clay and sand. It yields in abundance, wheat, corn, sweet potatoes, cotton and many other common agricultural products. Horses, cattle and hogs, though of an inferior breed, are tolerably plentiful and seem nearly to raise themselves by grazing in the vast prairie range in summer, and feeding upon the bottoms in winter. The wild game is less plentiful of course where man has commenced the cultivation of the soil, than in the wild prairies. Buffalo, elk, deer, bear, wolves, beaver and many smaller animals here roam at pleasure. Turkeys, geese, swans, ducks, yea a variety of the feathered tribe, are among the rich abundance that grace the delightful regions of this goodly land--the heritage of the children of God.(5)
The season is mild and delightful nearly three quarters of the year, and as the land of Zion, situated at about equal distances from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as from the Alleghany and Rocky mountains, in the thirty-ninth degree of north latitude, and between the sixteenth and seventeenth degrees of west longitude(6), it bids fair--when the curse is taken from the land--to become one of the most blessed places on the globe. The winters are milder than the Atlantic states of the same parallel of latitude, and the weather is more agreeable; so that were the virtues of the inhabitants only equal to the blessings of the Lord which He permits to crown the industry of those inhabitants, there would be a measure of the good things of life for the benefit of the Saints, full, pressed down, and running over, even an hundred-fold. The disadvantages here, as in all new countries, are self-evident--lack of mills and schools; together with the natural privations and inconveniences which the hand of industry, the refinement of society, and the polish of science, overcome.
But all these impediments vanish when it is recollected what the Prophets have said concerning Zion in the last days; how the glory of Lebanon is to come upon her; the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box tree together, to beautify the place of His sanctuary, that He may make the place of His feet glorious. Where for brass, He will bring gold; and for iron, He will bring silver; and for wood, brass; and for stones, iron; and where the feast of fat things will be given to the just; yea, when the splendor of the Lord is brought to our consideration for the good of His people, the calculations of men and the vain glory of the world vanish, and we exclaim, "Out of Zion the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." (7)
On the third day of August, I proceeded to dedicate the spot for the Temple(8), a little west of Independence, and there were also present Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge, W. W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and Joseph Coe. (9)
The 87th Psalm was read:--
His foundation is in the holy mountains.
The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.
I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me;
behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.
And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the Highest Himself shall establish her.
The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.
As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.
The scene was solemn and impressive.
On the 4th I attended the first conference in the land of Zion. It was held at the house of Brother Joshua Lewis (10) , in Kaw township, in the presence of the Colesville branch of the Church. The Spirit of the Lord was there.(11)
On the 7th, I attended the funeral of Sister Polly Knight (12), the wife of Joseph Knight, Sen. This was the first death in the Church in this land, and I can say, a worthy member sleeps in Jesus till the resurrection. (13)
I also received the following:
Revelation, given in Zion, August 7th, 1831. [D&C 59](14)
1. Behold, blessed, saith the Lord, are they who have come up unto this land with an eye single to my glory, according to my commandments.
2. For those that live shall inherit the earth, and those that die shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them; and they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father, which I have prepared for them.(15)
3. Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength.
4. And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time--they that are faithful and diligent before me.
5. Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, saying thus; Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.
6. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.
7. Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.
8. Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
9. And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
10. For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
11. Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;
12. But remember that on this, the Lord's day (16), thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
13. And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
14. Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words rejoicing and prayer.
15. And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance--
16. Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
17. Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
18. Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19. Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
20. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man, for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.
21. And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.
22. Behold, this is according to the law and the prophets; wherefore, trouble me no more concerning this matter.
23. But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come.
24. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and the Spirit beareth record. Amen.
On the 8th, as there had been some inquiry among the Elders what they were to do, I received the following:
Revelation, given August, 1831. [D&C 60](17) [August 8, 1831]
1. Behold, thus saith the Lord unto the elders of his church, who are to return speedily to the land from whence they came; Behold, it pleaseth me, that you have come up hither;
2. But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.
3. And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have.(18)
4. For I, the Lord, rule in the heavens above, and among the armies of the earth; and in the day when I shall make up my jewels, all men shall know what it is that bespeaketh the power of God.
5. But, verily, I will speak unto you concerning your journey unto the land from whence you came. Let there be a craft made, or bought, as seemeth you good, it mattereth not unto me, and take your journey speedily for the place which is called St. Louis.
6. And from thence let my servants, Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, take their journey for Cincinnati;
7. And in this place let them lift up their voice and declare my word with loud voices, without wrath or doubting, lifting up holy hands upon them. For I am able to make you holy, and your sins are forgiven you.
8. And let the residue take their journey from St. Louis, two by two, and preach the word, not in haste, among the congregations of the wicked, until they return to the churches from whence they came.(19)
9. And all this for the good of the churches; for this intent have I sent them.
10. And let my servant Edward Partridge impart of the money which I have given him, a portion unto mine elders who are commanded to return,
11. And he that is able, let him return it by the way of the agent; and he that is not, of him it is not required.
12. And now I speak of the residue who are to come unto this land.
13. Behold, they have been sent to preach my gospel among the congregations of the wicked; wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, thus; Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known.
14. And after thou hast come up unto the land of Zion, and hast proclaimed my word, thou shalt speedily return, proclaiming my word among the congregations of the wicked, not in haste, neither in wrath nor with strife.
15. And shake off the dust of thy feet against those who receive thee not, not in their presence, lest thou provoke them; but in secret and wash thy feet, as a testimony against them in the day of judgment.
16. Behold, this is sufficient for you, and the will of him who hath sent you.
17. And by the mouth of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., it shall be made known concerning Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery. The residue hereafter. Even so. Amen.
On the 9th, in company with ten Elders(20), I left Independence landing for Kirtland. We started down the river in canoes(21), and went the first way as far as Fort Osage, where we had an excellent wild turkey for supper. Nothing very important occurred till the third day(22), when many of the dangers so common upon the western waters, manifested themselves; and after we had encamped upon the bank of the river, at McIlwaine's Bend,(23) Brother Phelps, in open vision by daylight, saw the destroyer in his most horrible power, ride upon the face of the waters; others heard the noise, but saw not the vision.
The next morning after prayer, I received the following:
Revelation, given August, 1831. [D&C 61](24) [August 12, 1831]
1. Behold, and hearken unto the voice of him who has all power, who is from everlasting to everlasting, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
2. Behold, verily thus saith the Lord unto you, O ye elders of my church, who are assembled upon this spot, whose sins are now forgiven you, for I, the Lord, forgive sins, and am merciful unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts;
3. But verily I say unto you, that it is not needful for this whole company of mine elders to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief.
4. Nevertheless, I suffered it that ye might bear record; behold, there are many dangers upon the waters, and more especially hereafter;
5. For I, the Lord, have decreed in mine anger many destructions upon the waters; yea, and especially upon these waters.
6. Nevertheless, all flesh is in mine hand, and he that is faithful among you shall not perish by the waters.
7. Wherefore, it is expedient that my servant Sidney Gilbert and my servant William W. Phelps, be in haste upon their errand and mission.
8. Nevertheless, I would not suffer that ye should part until you were chastened for all your sins, that you might be one, that you might not perish in wickedness,
9. But now, verily I say, it behooveth me that ye should part. Wherefore let my servants Sidney Gilbert and William W. Phelps take their former company, and let them take their journey in haste that they may fill their mission, and through faith they shall overcome;
10. And inasmuch as they are faithful they shall be preserved, and I, the Lord, will be with them.
11. And let the residue take that which is needful for clothing.
12. Let my servant Sidney Gilbert take that which is not needful with him, as you shall agree.
13. And now, behold, for your good I gave unto you a commandment concerning these things; and I, the Lord, will reason with you as with men in days of old.
14. Behold, I, the Lord, in the beginning blessed the waters, but in the last days, by the mouth of my servant John, I cursed the waters;
15. Wherefore, the days will come that no flesh shall be safe upon the waters.
16. And it shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land of Zion upon the waters, but he that is upright in heart.
17. And, as I, the Lord, in the beginning cursed the land, even so in the last days have I blessed it, in its time, for the use of my Saints, that they may partake the fatness thereof.
18. And now I give unto you a commandment that what I say unto one I say unto all, that you shall forewarn your brethren concerning these waters, that they come not in journeying upon them, lest their faith fail and they are caught in snares;
19. I the Lord, have decreed, and the destroyer rideth upon the face thereof, and I revoke not the decree;
20. I, the Lord, was angry with you yesterday, but today mine anger is turned away.
21. Wherefore, let those concerning whom I have spoken, that should take their journey in haste--again I say unto you, let them take their journey in haste.
22. And it mattereth not unto me, after a little, if it so be that they fill their mission, whether they go by water or by land; let this be as it is made known unto them according to their judgments hereafter.
23. And now, concerning my servants Sidney Rigdon, and Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, let them come not again upon the waters, save it be upon the canal, while journeying unto their homes, or in other words they shall not come upon the waters to journey, save upon the canal.
24. Behold, I, the Lord, have appointed a way for the journeying of my Saints; and behold this is the way--that after they leave the canal, they shall journey by land, inasmuch as they are commanded to journey and go up unto the land of Zion;
25. And they shall do like unto the children of Israel, pitching their tents by the way.
26. And, behold, this commandment you shall give unto all your brethren.
27. Nevertheless, unto whom it is given power to command the waters, unto him it is given by the Spirit to know all his ways;
28. Wherefore, let him do as the Spirit of the living God commandeth him, whether upon the land or upon the waters, as it remaineth with me to do hereafter.
29. And unto you it is given the course for the saints, or the way for the saints of the camp of the Lord, to journey.
30. And again, verily I say unto you, my servants, Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, shall not open their mouths in the congregations of the wicked, until they arrive at Cincinnati;
31. And in that place they shall lift up their voices unto God against that people; yea unto him whose anger is kindled against their wickedness, a people who are well-nigh ripened for destruction.
32. And from thence let them journey for the congregations of their brethren, for their labors even now are wanted more abundantly among them than among the congregations of the wicked.
33. And now, concerning the residue, let them journey and declare the word among the congregations of the wicked, inasmuch as it is given;
34. And inasmuch as they do this they shall rid their garments, and they shall be spotless before me.
35. And let them journey together, or two by two, as seemeth them good, only let my servant Reynolds Cahoon, and my servant Samuel H. Smith, with whom I am well pleased, be not separated until they return to their homes, and this for a wise purpose in me.
36. And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children, for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you;
37. And inasmuch as you have humbled yourselves before me, the blessings of the kingdom are yours.
38. Gird up your loins and be watchful and be sober, looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, for he cometh in an hour you think not.
39. Pray always that you enter not into temptation, that you may abide the day of his coming, whether in life or in death. Even so. Amen.
On the 13th [August] I met several of the Elders on their way to the land of Zion, and after the joyful salutations with which brethren meet each other, who are actually "contending for the faith once delivered to the Saints,"(25) I received the following:
Revelation, given August, 1831. [D&C 62](26) [August 13, 1831]
1. Behold, and hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, your advocate, who knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted.
2. And verily mine eyes are upon those who have not as yet gone up unto the land of Zion; wherefore your mission is not yet full.
3. Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon, and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you.
4. And now continue your journey. Assemble yourselves upon the land of Zion; and hold a meeting and rejoice together, and offer a sacrament unto the Most High.(27)
5. And then you may return to bear record, yea, even all together, or two by two as seemeth you good, it mattereth not unto me; only be faithful and declare glad tidings unto the inhabitants of the earth, or among the congregations of the wicked.
6. Behold, I, the Lord, have brought you together that the promise might be fulfilled, that the faithful among you should be preserved and rejoice together in the land of Missouri. I, the Lord, promised the faithful and cannot lie.
7. I, the Lord, am willing, if any among you desire to ride upon horses, or upon mules, or in chariots, he shall receive this blessing, if he receive it from the hand of the Lord, with a thankful heart in all things.
8. These things remain with you to do according to judgment and the directions of the Spirit.
9. Behold, the kingdom is yours. And behold, and lo, I am with the faithful always. Even so. Amen.
After this meeting with the Elders, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and myself, continued our journey by land to St. Louis, where we overtook brothers Phelps and Gilbert(28). From this place we took stage, and they went by water to Kirtland, where we arrived safe and well on the 27th [August]. Many things transpired upon this journey to strengthen our faith, and which displayed the goodness of God in such a marvelous manner, that we could not help beholding the exertions of Satan to blind the eyes of the people, so as to hide the true light that lights every man that comes into the world.(29)
In these infant days of the Church, there was a great anxiety to obtain the word of the Lord upon every subject that in any way concerned our salvation; and as the land of Zion was now the most important temporal object in view, I enquired of the Lord for further information upon the gathering of the Saints, and the purchase of the land, and other matters, and received the following:
Revelation, given in Kirtland, August, 1831. [D&C 63](30) [August 31, 1831]
1. Hearken, O ye people, and open your hearts and give ear from afar; and listen, you that call yourselves the people of the Lord, and hear the word of the Lord and his will concerning you.
2. Yea, verily, I say, hear the word of him whose anger is kindled against the wicked and rebellious;
3. Who willeth to take even them whom he will take, and preserveth in life them whom he will preserve;
4. Who buildeth up at his own will and pleasure; and destroyeth when he pleases, and is able to cast the soul down to hell.
5. Behold, I, the Lord, utter my voice, and it shall be obeyed.
6. Wherefore, verily I say, let the wicked take heed, and let the rebellious fear and tremble; and let the unbelieving hold their lips, for the day of wrath shall come upon them as a whirlwind, and all flesh shall know that I am God.
7. And he that seeketh signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation.
8. Verily, I say unto you, there are those among you who seek signs, and there have been such even from the beginning;
9. But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.
10. Yea, signs come by faith, not by the will of men, nor as they please, but by the will of God.
11. Yea, signs come by faith, unto mighty works, for without faith no man pleaseth God; and with whom God is angry he is not well pleased; wherefore, unto such he showeth no sign, only in wrath unto their condemnation.
12. Wherefore, I, the Lord, am not pleased with those among you who have sought after signs and wonders for faith, and not for the good of men unto my glory,
13. Nevertheless, I gave commandments, and many have turned away from my commandments and have not kept them.
14. There were among you adulterers and adulteresses; some of whom have turned away from you, and others remain with you that hereafter shall be revealed.
15. Let such beware and repent speedily, lest judgment shall come upon them as a snare, and their folly shall be made manifest, and their works shall follow them in the eyes of the people.
16. And verily I say unto you, as I have said before, he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear.
17. Wherefore I, the Lord, have said that the fearful, and the unbelieving, and all liars, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
18. Verily I say, that they shall not have part in the first resurrection.
19. And now behold, I, the Lord, say unto you that ye are not justified because these things are among you.
20. Nevertheless, he that endureth in faith and doeth my will, the same shall overcome, and shall receive an inheritance upon the earth when the day of transfiguration shall come;
21. When the earth shall be transfigured, even according to the pattern which was shown unto mine apostles upon the mount; of which account the fulness ye have not yet received.
22. And now, verily I say unto you, that as I said that I would make known my will unto you, behold I will make it known unto you, not by the way of commandment, for there are many who observe not to keep my commandments.
23. But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.
24. And now, behold, this is the will of the Lord your God concerning his saints, that they should assemble themselves together unto the land of Zion, not in haste, lest there should be confusion, which bringeth pestilence.
25. Behold, the land of Zion, I, the Lord, hold it in mine own hands;
26. Nevertheless, I, the Lord, render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's.
27. Wherefore, I the Lord will that you should purchase the lands, that you may have advantage of the world, that you may have claim on the world, that they may not be stirred up unto anger.
28. For Satan putteth it into their hearts to anger against you, and to the shedding of blood.
29. Wherefore, the land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood, otherwise there is none inheritance for you.
30. And if by purchase, behold you are blessed;
31. And if by blood, as you are forbidden to shed blood, lo, your enemies are upon you, and ye shall be scourged from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue, and but few shall stand to receive an inheritance.
32. I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked; I am holding my Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth.
33. I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man;
34. And the Saints also shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord, am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Father and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire.
35. And behold, this is not yet, but by and by.
36. Wherefore, seeing that I, the Lord, have decreed all these things upon the face of the earth, I will that my Saints should be assembled upon the land of Zion;
37. And that every man should take righteousness in his hands and faithfulness upon his loins, and lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth; and declare both by word and by flight, that desolation shall come upon the wicked.
38. Wherefore, let my disciples in Kirtland arrange their temporal concerns, who dwell upon this farm.(31)
39. Let my servant Titus Billings(32), who has the care thereof, dispose of the land, that he may be prepared in the coming spring to take his journey up unto the land of Zion, with those that dwell upon the face thereof, excepting those whom I shall reserve unto myself, that shall not go until I shall command them.
40. And let all the monies which can be spared, it mattereth not unto me whether it be little or much, be sent up unto the land of Zion, unto them whom I have appointed to receive.
41. Behold, I, the Lord, will give unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., power that he shall be enabled to discern by the Spirit those who shall go up unto the land of Zion, and those of my disciples who shall tarry.
42. Let my servant Newel K. Whitney retain his store(33), or in other words, the store, yet for a little season.
43. Nevertheless, let him impart all the money which he can impart, to be sent up unto the land of Zion.
44. Behold, these things are in his own hands, let him do according to wisdom.
45. Verily I say, let him be ordained as an agent unto the disciples that shall tarry, and let him be ordained unto this power;
46. And now speedily visit the churches, expounding these things unto them, with my servant Oliver Cowdery. Behold, this is my will, obtaining moneys even as I have directed.(34)
47. He that is faithful and endureth shall overcome the world.
48. He that sendeth up treasures unto the land of Zion shall receive an inheritance in this world, and his works shall follow him, and also a reward in the world to come.
49. Yea, and blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth, when the Lord shall come, and old things shall pass away, and all things become new, they shall rise from the dead and shall not die after, and shall receive an inheritance before the Lord, in the holy city.
50. And he that liveth when the Lord shall come, and hath kept the faith, blessed is he; nevertheless, it is appointed to him to die at the age of man.
51. Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye.
52. Wherefore, for this cause preached the apostles unto the world the resurrection of the dead.
53. These things are the things that ye must look for; and, speaking after the manner of the Lord, they are now nigh at hand, and in a time to come, even in the day of the coming of the Son of Man.
54. And until that hour there will be foolish virgins among the wise; and at that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked; and in that day will I send mine angels to pluck out the wicked and cast them into unquenchable fire.
55. And now behold, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, am not pleased with my servant Sidney Rigdon; he exalted himself in his heart, and received not counsel, but grieved the Spirit;
56. Wherefore his writing is not acceptable unto the Lord, and he shall make another(35); and if the Lord receive it not, behold he standeth no longer in the office to which I have appointed him.
57. And again, verily I say unto you, those who desire in their hearts, in meekness, to warn sinners to repentance, let them be ordained unto this power.
58. For this is a day of warning, and not a day of many words. For I, the Lord, am not to be mocked in the last days.
59. Behold, I am from above, and my power lieth beneath. I am over all and in all, and through all, and search all things, and the day cometh that all things shall be subject unto me--
60. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ.
61. Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips--
62. For behold, verily I say, that many there be who are under this condemnation, who use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority.
63. Wherefore, let the church repent of their sins, and I, the Lord, will own them otherwise they shall be cut off.
64. Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit; and in this there is no condemnation, and ye receive the Spirit through prayer; wherefore, without this there remaineth condemnation.
65. Let my servants, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, seek them a home, as they are taught through prayer by the Spirit.
66. These things remain to overcome through patience that such may receive a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, otherwise, a greater condemnation. Amen.
The early part of September was spent in making preparations to remove to the town of Hiram(36), and renew our work on the translation of the Bible. The brethren who were commanded to go up to Zion were earnestly engaged in getting ready to start in the coming October. On the 11th of September I received the following:
Revelation, given in Kirtland. [D&C 64](37) [September 11, 1831]
1. Behold, thus saith the Lord your God unto you, O ye elders of my church, hearken ye and hear, and receive my will concerning you.
2. For verily I say unto you, I will that ye should overcome the world; wherefore I will have compassion upon you.
3. There are those among you who have sinned; but verily I say, for this once, for mine own glory, and for the salvation of souls, I have forgiven you your sins.
4. I will be merciful unto you, for I have given unto you the kingdom.
5. And the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom shall not be taken from my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., through the means I have appointed, while he liveth, inasmuch as he obeyeth mine ordinances.(38)
6. There are those who have sought occasion against him without cause;
7. Nevertheless, he has sinned; but verily I say unto you, I, the Lord forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me and ask forgiveness, who have not sinned unto death.
8. My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.
9. Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
10. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
11. And ye ought to say in your hearts--let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.
12. And him that repenteth not of his sins, and confesseth them not, ye shall bring before the church, and do with him as the scripture saith unto you, either by commandment or by revelation.
13. And this ye shall do that God may be glorified--not because ye forgive not, having not compassion, but that ye may be justified in the eyes of the law, that ye may not offend him who is your lawgiver--
14. Verily I say, for this cause ye shall do these things.
15. Behold, I, the Lord, was angry with him who was my servant Ezra Booth, and also my servant Isaac Morley, for they kept not the law, neither the commandment;
16. They sought evil in their hearts, and I, the Lord, withheld my Spirit. They condemned for evil that thing in which there was no evil; nevertheless I have forgiven my servant Isaac Morley.
17. And also my servant Edward Partridge, behold, he hath sinned, and Satan seeketh to destroy his soul; but when these things are made known unto them and they repent of the evil, they shall be forgiven.(39)
18. And now, verily I say that it is expedient in me that my servant Sidney Gilbert, after a few weeks, shall return upon his business and to his agency in the land of Zion;
19. And that which he hath seen and heard may be made known unto my disciples, that they perish not. And for this cause have I spoken these things.
20. And again, I say unto you, that my servant Isaac Morley may not be tempted above that which he is able to bear, and counsel wrongfully to your hurt, I gave commandment that his farm should be sold.(40)
21. I will not that my servant Frederick G. Williams should sell his farm, for I, the Lord, will to retain a strong hold in the land of Kirtland, for the space of five years, in the which I will not overthrow the wicked, that thereby I may save some.(41)
22. And after that day, I, the Lord, will not hold any guilty that shall go with an open heart up to the land of Zion; for I, the Lord, require the hearts of the children of men.
23. Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.
24. For after today cometh the burning--this is speaking after the manner of the Lord--for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.
25. Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.
26. And it is not meet that my servants, Newel K. Whitney and Sidney Gilbert, should sell their store and their possessions here; for this is not wisdom until the residue of the church, which remaineth in this place, shall go up unto the land of Zion.
27. Behold, it is said in my laws, or forbidden, to get in debt to thine enemies;
28. But behold, it is not said at any time that the Lord should not take when he please, and pay as seemeth him good.(42)
29. Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord's errand; and whatever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord's business.
30. And he hath set you to provide for his saints in these last days, that they may obtain an inheritance in the land of Zion.
31. And behold, I, the Lord, declare unto you, and my words are sure and shall not fail, that they shall obtain it.
32. But all things must come to pass in their time.
33. Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
34. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.
35. And the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion, and shall be sent away, and shall not inherit the land.
36. For, verily I say that the rebellious are not of the blood of Ephraim, wherefore they shall be plucked out.
37. Behold, I, the Lord, have made my church in these last days like unto a judge sitting on a hill or in a high place, to judge the nations.
38. For it shall come to pass that the inhabitants of Zion shall judge all things pertaining to Zion.
39. And liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known.
40. And even the bishop, who is a judge, and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned, and others shall be planted in their stead.
41. For, behold, I say unto you that Zion shall flourish, and the glory of the Lord shall be upon her;
42. And she shall be an ensign unto the people, and there shall come unto her out of every nation under heaven.
43. And the day shall come when the nations of the earth shall tremble because of her, and shall fear because of her terrible ones. The Lord hath spoken it. Amen.
Back to History page.
Notes Chapter 16
1. The Colesville branch of the Church numbered about sixty souls.--Statement made by Oliver Cowdery in John Whitmer's History of the Church, ch. ix.(BHR) [See note 11.]
2. Kaw township is located in present day Kansas City. "Kaw" was the name of a local Indian tribe.
3. Speaking of this second of August meeting addition to what the Prophet relates in his narrative. John Whitmer, in his History of the Church, (ch. ix) gives the following interesting details from a statement of Oliver Cowdery:On the second day of August, 1831, Rigdon stood up and asked, saying,
Do you receive this land for the land of your inheritance with thankful hearts from the Lord?'
Answer from all: "We do."
Do you pledge yourselves to keep the law of God in this land which you never have kept in your own lands?
Do you pledge yourselves to see that others of your brethren who shall come hither do keep the laws of God?'
After prayer, he arose and said: "I now pronounce this land consecrated and dedicated unto the Lord for a possession and inheritance for the saints, and for all the faithful servants of the Lord to the remotest ages of time. In the name of Jesus Christ, having authority from Him. Amen."(BHR)
4. The text that follows describing the "land of Zion" is not Rigdon's description, it is Phelps'. [R. L. Anderson, "New data for revising the Missouri documentary history," BYUS 14 (Summer 1974), 497f; Cf. MA 1:22-24. This last is a longer (written by Phelps) but essentially a superset of the version here in HC.] Rigdon's description is found in John Whitmer's history and in Rigdon's papers in HDC. His first description which was declared unsatifactory (D&C 63:55-56) is not recorded by Whitmer. Rigdon's (accepted) description is quoted in full in a note below.
5. Even before Missouri became one of the United States the land west of the Mississippi tempted settlers. Pioneers began occupying central Missouri before the war of 1812. John Peck visited the aging Daniel Boone in the interior in 1818 where many place names honor the hero. Peck wrote that "the immigrants came like an avalanche." "It seemed as though Kentucky and Tennessee were breaking up and moving [there]." European Gottfried Duden visited the state in 1823 and his reports invited many of his countrymen to immigrate the following two decades. The soil was the primary attraction for these new residents. The western edge of the state where the Missouri enters was most valued. Indeed, the Mormons found that, although the population was less civilized than their contemporaries in Ohio, the land in their Zion location had to purchased, just as they had had to do in Ohio.
Called the "Garden of Missouri," the U.S. government eventually prevailed on Indian tribes to cede the Independence region to the United States in 1825. Naturalist Charles Latrobe gathered more flowers in western Missouri in a week than in the rest of America in five months. Others proclaimed it Adam's paradise. But for the Mormons the strong attraction to the region lay in its spiritual significance. Church leaders' injunctions not to go there until fully prepared financially were often ignored. [Max H. Parkin, A History of the Latter-day Saints in Clay County, Missouri From 1833 to 1837, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1976, pp. 8-11.]
6. This is the Washington longitude. It is between ninety-five and ninety-six degrees west longitude from Greenwich.(BHR)
7. Phelps' quotes Ps. 50:2.
8. William E. McLellin, sincerely touched by one group of missionaries traveling to Jackson County, followed them there and while he missed seeing Joseph Smith who left Aug. 9, he visited with Hyrum Smith in a four hour interview. McLellin visited the temple site about Aug. 18, and stated that it was "covered with young poplars, thickly standing." According to McLellin, the Prophet had to "cut his way in through this thick growth of trees, brush and saplings," to mark the spot, "setting up a small stone that had been picked up in the ravine below. This was all the corner stone that was ever laid upon it, and it only to mark the place of the corner." [Saints' Herald 29 (January 16, 1882), 67; McLellin journal Aug. 18.]
9. John Whitmer's complete account of this and related matters (copied from Oliver Cowdery's record) given in part by B. H. Roberts above is given here in full:After many struggles and afflictions, being persecuted by our enemies, we received intelligence by letter from our brethren; who were at the east. That Brother Joseph and Sidney, and many other elders, were commanded to take their journey to this land, the land of Missouri. Which was promised unto us should be the land of the inheritance of the Saints, and the place of the gathering in these last days. Which intelligence cheered our hearts, and caused us to rejoice exceedingly. And by the special protection of the Lord, Brother Joseph Smith, Jr., and Sidney Rigdon, in company with eight other elders, with the Church from Colesville, New York, consisting of about sixty souls, arrived in the month of July and by revelation the place was made known where the temple shall stand, and the city should commence. And by commandment twelve of us assembled ourselves together, viz., Elder Joseph Smith, Jr., the Seer, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Newel Knight, William W. Phelps, and Ezra Booth who denied the faith.
On the 2nd day of August 1831, Brother Sidney Rigdon stood up and asked saying: Do you receive this land for the land of your inheritance with thankful hearts from the Lord? answer from all, we do. Do you pledge yourselves to keep the laws of God on this land, which you never have kept in your own lands? we do. Do you pledge yourselves to see that others of your brethren who shall come hither do keep the laws of God? we do. After prayer he arose and said, I now pronounce this land consecrated and dedicated to the Lord for a possession and inheritance for the Saints (in the name of Jesus Christ having authority from him.) And for all the faithful servants of the Lord to the remotest ages of time. Amen.
The day following, eight elders, viz., Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Frederick G. Williams, Wm. W. Phelps, Martin Harris, and Joseph Coe, assembled together where the Temple is to be erected. Sidney Rigdon dedicated the ground where the city is to stand: and Joseph Smith, Jr., laid a stone at the northeast corner of the contemplated temple in the name of the Lord Jesus of Nazareth. After all present had rendered thanks to the great ruler of the universe, Sidney Rigdon pronounced this spot of ground wholly dedicated [fulfilling the injunction of D&C 58:57] unto the Lord forever: Amen. [Book of John Whitmer, p.11]
It is clear that many of the elders who were coming to Jackson county had not arrived. Some (Orson Pratt, John Murdock) were detained by sickness. Others had considerable success in preaching by the way (Solomon Hancock and Simeon Carter for example).[Journal History, June 14, June 19, 1831]
Murdock gives this account of his journey:
Agreeably to this revelation we, Hyrum Smith and Lyman Wright [Wight], John Corrill and myself, took our journey from Kirtland June 14th and went on board the steamer Wm. [William] Penn at Fairport and arrived at Detroit Wednesday, 15th, 11 o'clock at night. Left the boat and took lodging in a tavern. We were accompanied by Mother Smith and Sister Alvira Mack to this place. We breakfasted and dined freely with a merchant's wife, sister to Alvira, and we first labored from morning till noon to get a chance to preach, but could not. I was turned out-of-doors for calling on the Wool Carver [Carder] to repent. After dinner, we took leave on the two females and the family with whom we had dined and upon our feet as a testimony against that city, Brother Lyman and John took the North Route through Oakland County, Brother Hyrum and myself took the Chicago Road through White Pigeon Prairie. We journeyed 12 miles to Pekin, Thursday 16th.
We continued in that neighborhood till Monday the 20th and preached at times. 22nd, we preached according to a former appointment. A Methodist Circuit Preacher challenged us to prove from the scriptures that baptism by immersion was true. We, accordingly, took up the subject, proved it from the scriptures and he left the house angry. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we preached one discourse and travelled 76 miles. Sunday we preached one discourse. Monday travelled 30 miles wading large streams. Tuesday preached in the evening. Wednesday preached and travelled nine miles. Thursday preached another discourse at 2 o'clock, at Pigeon Prairie one hundred and fifty miles southwest of Detroit. July 1st left Pigeon Prairie, travelled 20 miles and lodged with the Potawatamie Indians. Received supper and breakfast from them and gave them some articles we had for their kindness. Saturday, 6 miles and took breakfast and 5 more to Elk Hart Prairie. Sunday 3rd, preached one discourse. 4th travelled 12 miles. On Thursday the 7th we were at Logan's Port on the Wabash River, 115 miles S. S. West [south southwest] from White Pigeon Prairie.
Sunday 10th, preached twice Monday. 11th read and expounded the scriptures all day and preached in the evening. 12th travelled to Laffayette [Lafayette] and preached in the evening, 11 miles. Wednesday 13th, travelled 25 miles and passed through where Brother Solomon Hancock and Simeon Carter built a church and arrived at Attica on the Wabash River 70 miles S.W. [southwest] of Lozar's Port. 14th preached twice--16th preached once. Sunday 17th, preached twice, 18th once. 19th once. 20th passed through Dansville 30 m. s. w. [miles southwest] of Attica. Thursday preached once. 21st preached once and on the 23rd arrived at the old trading house on Sagamon River 47 m. s. w. [miles southwest] from Dansvill [Dansville]. 24th preached once. 25th preached at Decator [Decatur?] the seat of Sagamon C[ounty]. W[ednesday]. 27th preached once. 28th and 29th preached twice. 30th travelled 20 miles, preached in the evening. Barton Stone, New Light Preacher, present.
31st same preacher visited us early in the morning and tried to put us down by his learning, but we told him we did not understand other languages and we believed there was sufficient in the English scriptures, if a man would obey them, to secure his salvation. Therefore, we would confine ourselves to them only and on these premises we were ready to meet him and investigate the Plan of Salvation. We shut his mouth, he could not get round it. We preached at 9 o'clock and as we had the evening before shown the first principles of the gospel--repentance and baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of the hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. We set forth the promises of the Saviour to the Apostles. Then alleged that the same promises were to all who believed, and showed the same blessings were obtained by the same obedience, for the gospel of salvation is the same in all generations. And then bore testimony that all must repent, both professor and nonprofessor, both priests and people, and we had great liberty by the spirit. Priest Store [Stone] trembled, but would not yield. We travelled 2 miles and filled another appointment.
August 1st travelled 28 miles and crossed the Illinois River. 2nd, 30 miles to Mississippi River Louise-Ana [Louisiana] Ferry and got my feet wet by which I took a violent cold by which I suffered near unto death. 3rd, crossed the river into Missouri. Travelled 25 miles to New London, found it a very wicked place.
As we slept in a tavern, in the night Brother Hyrum lay on the far side of the bed with his hand out on our clothes, which hung on a chair by the bedside, and a person seized his wrist. Brother H. [Hyrum] cried out, "Who is there," and at the same time broke his hold, which awoke me. We heard the bedstead in the other room creak which notified us that he had gone to bed. Thursday 4th, arrived at Salt River where we preached next day, but I was sick and went to bed, and we continued there near one week and then I gave my watch in pay to Wm. [William] Ivy to carry me in a wagon to Charidon 70 miles. We stayed there 2 days.
Met Brother J. [Joseph] Smith, Jr., S. [Sidney] Rigdon and others, and received the revelation recorded in the Book of Covenants [D&C] on page 202 or 308. We also fell in company with Brother Harvey Whitlock and David Whitmore [Whitmer], and we four put our money together and bought a pony. I rode him to Lexington, 60 miles, and on the way we four slept one night in a chamber where one half of the floor was laid, and the other not and a window being open, on the opposite side of the chamber from me, and I had a raging fever and had occasion to go to the window; it being dark, I stepped off the floor and fell across the joints.
The next day when I rode into Lexington, I was so weak I fell from the horse and lay till the brethren came and picked me up. They took me into a house and left me there four days and travelled on. After which, Brother Lyman Wight and Solomon Hancock came with a horse and carried me to Thomas Hopper, where I remained in a few days and was then carried in a wagon to Brother Joshua Louis [Lewis], in Jackson County, where I lay sick two or three months, so much so that 2 or 3 days was lost time to me. Although I was so very sick that I could not pray vocally, yet my belief was so firm that it could not be moved. I believe[d] that I could not die because my work was not yet done. After I had a little recovered, went to Brother Newel Knight awhile and thence to Lyman Wight's and so remained with the brethren till the 24th and 25th of January 1832, which 2 days we held a conference. Brother Partrige [Partridge] presided and on the 26th Brother L. [Lyman] Wight, P. [Parley] P. Pratt, Levi Hancock and myself had just recovered from sickness. We four travelled in nearly the same places till we passed the black water and so into Seline [Saline?] County. [John Murdock Journal, typescript, pp. 9-11]
10. Joshua Lewis, b. 1795 was among the early settlers of Jackson County, MO. Converted by the Lamanite missionaries, he died in Clay County, 1835. [PJS 1:497.] See Joseph Knight's description of Lewis below.
11. The Far West Record contains minutes of this conference:
Minutes of a special Conference held in Kaw township Jackson County Missouri by special commandment of the Lord August 4, 1831.
Joseph Smith, jr.
William W. Phelps
Frederick G. Williams
Ezra Booth (denied the faith)
The conference opened by singing "Glorious things &c Prayer by br. Edward Partridge, Exhortation to obedience to the requisition of Heaven by delivering a charge in the name of Christ to the Bishop, Rulers & Members of the Church planted in their inheritances in the land of Zion, by br. Sidney Rigdon.
Confession of br. Ziba Peterson of his transgressions which was satisfactory to the Church as approved by unanimous vote. [D&C 58:60]
Exhortation by br. Joseph Smith jr. to acts of righteousness and keeping the commandments of the Lord with promise of blessings.
Thirty-one members present [Thompson (Colesville) Saints], who with the Elders partook of the sacrament.
Closed by prayer of Oliver Cowdery. Oliver Cowdery, Clerk.
12. Biographical note in chapter 9. Polly's husband, Joseph Knight, Sr. wrote regarding the trip west and her death:Now this Spring Joseph received anumber of Revelation. One was to purchase a thousand acres of Land which was Claimed by Leman Copley and not paid for. He had a little Before Come into the Church and apeard to Be Zelaus and faithful. We all went to work and made fence and planted and sowed the fields. About this time we ware Cald upon to Consecrate our properties. But Brother Copley would not Consecrate his property therefore he was Cut of[f] from the Church. Then we was Commanded to take up our Jorney to the Regions westward to the Boarders of the Lamanites. And we sold out what we Could But Copley took the advantege of us and we Could not git any thing for what we had done. So we left Copleys in June and moved our things to wellsvill on the ohio river which was about ninety miles. Then we went on Board the Steamer the third day of July and we landed in uper Misouria the 26th of the same Month. We found our selves among strangers But the people seamed to Be frindley with us. And we found the Country to be Butiful rich and plesent and we made our selves as Comfortable as we Could. And in a few Day Joseph and Sidney and a number of Brotherin came and they looked out and Enterd a Considrible of Land, for the People to Settle on. We found it a new Country with some settlrs on it.
There was one Joshua Lewis that had Come into the Church the winter Before, he and his wife. And they ware faithful and good to us and took us in to their house, my wife Being sick as before stated. She Died the Seventh Day of August and Joseph and Sidney attended her funeral on the Eighth. She was Burried in the woods a spot Chosen out By our selves. I was along By where she was Buried a few Days after and I found the hogs had Began to root whare she was Buried. I being verry unwell But I took my ax the nex Day and went and Bilt a pen round it. It was the Last I done for her. [Dean Jessee, Joseph Knight's Recollection of Early Mormon History, BYUS, vol. 17, no. 1, p. 39]
13. Polly Knight's health had been failing for some time, according to a statement made by her son, Newel, she was very ill during her journey from Kirtland to Missouri. "Yet," says her son, "she would not consent to stop traveling; her only, or her greatest desire was to set her feet upon the land of Zion, and to have her body interred in that land I went on shore and bought lumber to make a coffin in case she should die before we arrived at our place of destination--so fast did she fail. But the Lord gave her the desire of her heart, and she lived to stand upon that land. (Scraps of Biography, p. 70.)(BHR) [See William G. Hartley, They Are My Friends: A History of the Joseph Knight Family, 1825-1850, (Provo: Grandin, 1986), 80-81.]
14. Unlike many of the revelations, a ms exists for this one which may be the original. It is in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery (located at BYU.) Another ms exists, dated November 16, 1832 in the hand of Samuel H. Smith who states that he copied from the original in the hand of Cowdery. [A notation in both cases is "A revelation . . . given by Joseph the translator."] In verse 13, the word "thing" is changed to "work" in one published source (ES). First published February 1832 in ES.
15. No doubt a reference to Polly Knight.
16. This revelation was received on a Sunday. In addition to its reference to Polly Knight's death, its instructions pertain to actions appropriate to Sunday [Independence was a place where "Christian Sabbath observance appeared to be unknown. It was a day for merchandising, jollity, drinking, gambling, and general anti-Christian conduct."] and it reiterates the Decalogue. The "uncivilized" behavior of the inhabitants, particularly the Sunday brawls and wagon races in the muddy town square with inebriated drivers often resulting in death or injury undoubtedly prompted some contemplation of acceptable conduct for the Saints. See Phelps' characterization of the old settlers on p. 189 above and also see note 37 chapter 15, vol. 1.
B. H. Roberts wrote: "Independence in 1831 . . . was a frontier town with all the disadvantages implied by that term. It had a mixed population of white men from many sections of the Union, chiefly, however, from the south, some of whom had moved into the western wilderness to escape the consequences of unlawful deeds committed elsewhere; vagabond Indians and renegades who had mingled with them; besides a number of negro slaves. Society was as varied as the character of the population, but on the whole may be described as being without stability, regard for law, or religion." [Roberts, Missouri Persecutions, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965), 50]
17. The earliest copy known appears in the 1835 edition of the D&C. No significant variations exist among extant texts of D&C 60. The date of the revelation is given in the ms history as August 8, 1831. [Woodford]
18. Some of the Elders who journeyed to Missouri were not faithful to the commission given in D&C 58. Among them was Ezra Booth, who was reluctant to make the journey under the prescribed conditions which he felt were unduly restrictive. He delayed starting to Missouri because he could not believe that he would be asked to go essentially as a pauper, while others (Joseph Smith) traveled in greater comfort. He also failed to preach on the return trip.
19. Plans outlined in this revelation were changed because of difficulties encountered in the journey: conflicts among the travelers, water hazards on the Missouri and the necessity of a speedy return. The following revelation (D&C 61:7-8) gave alternate instructions.
20. The others who went with Joseph Smith were, Samuel H. Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, William W. Phelps, Frederick G. Williams, Reynolds Cahoon, A. Sidney Gilbert, Joseph Coe, Ezra Booth and Peter Whitmer, Jr. [PJS 1:361, n5]
21. Times and Seasons (March 15, 1844) publication of the history has "16" canoes here. Possibly some were used for baggage.
22. Ezra Booth related that on the morning of the departure from Independence, there was animosity and discord among the travelers. On the third day, some of the men became so disgruntled that they refused to use the paddles and some of the canoes nearly capsized. Joseph and Sydney's canoe hit a snag and turned over, nearly drowning the two men. Booth claimed the Smith and Rigdon were then very timid about entering the water again. Some of the other elders chastised Joseph and Sydney about their "cowardice" according to Booth. That Joseph was not putting words in Phelps' mouth about his vision of Satan is evidenced by the fact that Phelps actually wrote the narrative himself. [See for example Parkin, Conflict, appendix C. RJS, 96.]
23. The following map locates the place where this revelation was given (see RJS):
24. "After receiving the revelation at McIlwaine's Bend, Reynolds Cahoon wrote that the eleven men "then left the water [and] crosed the Misorie at Chariton." A. Sidney Gilbert, also traveling east with the group, prefaced a copy of section 61 with the words: "A Commandment recd the 12th Augt 1831 on the Banks of the Missouri about 40 miles above Chariton on our return from Zion." These references, seen together, assist greatly in locating McIlwaine's Bend, and suggest that the group left the Missouri River at or near the Miami Bend [McIlwaine's Bend], traveled several miles cross-country on the south side of the river, and then crossed the river and entered Chariton, Missouri."[RJS, 96]
The earliest extant copy is found in ES, December 1832. A ms exists in A. S. Gilbert's hand, copied before June 12, 1833. No textual variations of consequence are known. [Woodford]
25. Jude 1:3.
26. The earliest known copy is BC chapter 63 (1833). No textual variations of significance are known. [Woodford] Received a Chariton, Mo. August 13, 1831.
27. The minutes of this meeting are found in the Far West Record:
Minutes of a Conference held in Kaw, Jackson County Missouri, August 2, 1831 [correct date is August 24].
Opened by singing & prayer by br. Hyrum Smith. Br. Edward Partridge made certain remarks from the 3rd Chapter of Malichi. Br. Whitlock made remarks upon the second coming of Christ, br. Hyrum Smith gave an exhortation spoke of Zion & the gathering of the saints into her. &c. & read a part of the 102 Psalm. Br. John Corrill & David Whitmer exhorted to acts of righteousness & sacrifice all for Christ. Br. Isaac Morley exhorted to prayer for Joseph Smith jr. and Sidney Rigdon for the Bishop Edward Partridge and himself &c.
A move was then made by br. Edward Partridge to have Selah J. Griffin tarry a while after arriving in this land if the Spirit so direct him, which was agreed to be the Elders present. Br. William E. Mclellin was admited to be ordained an Elder by the voice of the conference. Glorious things was then sung.
Closing prayer by Br Edward Partridge.
John Corrill, Clerk of Conference.
William E. McLellin recorded his experience in relation to this conference:
The Elders and brethren met to-day to hold a conference and offer a sacrament to the Most High to fill the commandment which they received at Charatin. And for the first time I went to the grove and made it [the Mormon movement and his place in it] a subject of solemn Prayr respecting my ordination to the ministry. When I arose from prayr this question suggested itself to my mind "What is your motive?" And this answer seemed to be whispered into my heart. (viz) The glory of God, The Salvation of my own soul, and The welfare of the human family. I returned to the house perfectly resigned to the will of God and seated myself in conference with my brethren, which was opened by prayr, and after doing some church business and partaking of the Lords Supper, they called on me to know if I had any thing to offer. I arose and told them that I was resigned to the will of God in the matter and I believed that God would make my duty known to them if they would inquire. I then sat down - Brother H[yrum] S[mith] immediately arose & said he had recd a witness of the Spirit that I should be ordained an Elder. This agreed with the minds of all present and Elder H. Smith and Bishop E. Partridge ordained me to be an Elder in the Church of Christ. I felt very solemn while taking this charge upon me. Yet I was willing to proclaim, in my weakness, the glorious Gospel of the great Redeemer which I had received and I trust in an honest heart. [FWR, Journals of Willaim E. McLellin, Aug. 24, 1831.]]
28. Reynolds Cahoon wrote: "We left Independence Aug. 9, 1831, and traveled by water about one hundred miles, when we left the water. We crossed the Missouri river at Chariton, where we on August 13th found Brother Hyrum Smith and John Murdock, Harvey Whitlock and David Whitmer. Thence we traveled to Fayette, Howard county, Mo. where Brothers Joseph Smith, jun. Oliver Cowdery and myself journeyed by land by way of Columbia . . . "[JH, Aug. 13, 1831]
29. The day after Joseph and his companions arrived in Kirtland, a conference was held. Oliver Cowdery had been in Missouri since the brief stop of the Lamanite missionaries Kirtland in the fall of 1830. Consequently, he was not part of the priesthood developments in Ohio and was not ordained a high priest. This was corrected August 28, 1831 when a revelation was received directing Cowdery to be ordained. Sydney Rigdon performed this ordination. [FWR]
While the elders were gone, the Church in Ohio experienced some problems with a number of the new flock drifting away. In addition, Ezra Booth would cause some difficulties with a series of letters published in the Ohio Star. Sydney Rigdon, Joseph Smith and others spent considerable time reclaiming some members and combating the falsehoods and sinister interpretations of events given by Booth and others. The Campbellites were a continual irritation to Church members. See notes at chapter 14 this volume. John Whitmer's history records:Some of the elders who traveled to the land of Missouri and preached by the way, tarried here in this land, among whom is the Bishop E. [Edward] Partridge, Isaac Morley and John Corrill. Some were sick on their way to the land, but all were restored to health. Among those who were sick were John Murdock, Parley P. Pratt and Thomas B. Marsh--They all tarried until after they attended a conference in this land. They have since all gone to preach the gospel and call sinners to repentance.
There were some Churches built by the way as they journeyed to this land (Missouri) and the people were warned of the danger they were in, if they did not repent.
And now when the elders had returned to their homes in Ohio, the churches needed much exhortation in the absence of the elders many apostatized: but many have returned again to the fold from whence they had strayed--And many mighty miracles were wrought by the elders--one in particular which I shall here notice--which was wrought by elders Emer Harris, Joseph Brackenberry and Wheeler Baldwin. Is an infirmity in an old lady who had been helpless for the space of eight years confined to her bed. She did not belong to this church, but sent her request to the elders--who immediately attended to her call, and after their arrival prayed for her, and laid their hands on her, and she was immediately made whole and magnified and praised God, and is now enjoying perfect health.
And thus the churches again prospered and the work of the Lord spread. [Book of John Whitmer, 11-12.]
30. This revelation was widely circulated in ms form. One ms (located at BYU) is in the hand of Oliver Cowdery and could be the original. At the end of this ms are the words "Given by Joseph the Seer in Kirtland August 31, 1831 and written by Oliver." The revelation was first published in ES, February 1833. There is some variation among copies of this revelation. In two mss (the one above and a copy in BLC bk. B the word "not" is missing from the phrase "observe not to keep my commandments." This certainly changes the meaning, but the context clearly suggests that the current reading is correct. In vss 56, 64 some words vary in some copies. Various copies are dated August 31, 30 or 13. Since Joseph returned to Kirtland August 27, the 13th could not be the correct date.
31. This farm was Isaac Morley's farm, in the charge of Titus Billings, the same farm where the "family" resided when the Lamanite missionaries arrived in Kirtland. The circumstance is mentioned in the next revelation (D&C 64).
32. Titus Billings was the second person baptized by the Lamanite missionaries in Kirtland. B. March 25, 1793, to Ebenezer Billings and Esther Joyce in Greenfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts. M. Diantha Morley in Geauga County, Ohio, February 16, 1817. Nine children: Samuel Dwight, Thomas, Ebenezer, Emily, Martha, Alfred Nelson, George Pierce, Eunice, and Titus, Jr. Baptized in Kirtland, Ohio, about November 15, 1830. Ordained deacon by October 1831. Ordained elder March 10, 1832 by Thomas B. Marsh. Appointed by revelation August 1831 to move to Missouri in spring of 1832. Left for Independence, Missouri, early 1832, arriving before 26 May. Expelled from Jackson County, Missouri, 1833. Settled in Clay County, Missouri, 1833. Ordained high priest and counselor in bishopric in Missouri August 1, 1837. Participated in Battle of Crooked River October 1838. Located in Lima, Adams County, Illinois, after Mormon expulsion from Missouri 1839. Member of Nauvoo Legion February 4, 1841. Moved to Nauvoo 1845. Received endowment December 13, 1845. Sealed in Nauvoo Temple to Diantha Morley January 30, 1846. Moved to Salt Lake Valley 1848. Appointed to settle Sanpete Valley in fall of 1849. One of first settlers of Manti, Utah. M. Mary Ann Tuttle January 20, 1854. Four children: Emily, Titus, Theressa, and Alonzo. Located in Provo, Utah, about 1863. D. in Provo, Utah County, Utah, February 6, 1866. [RJS, 102]
33. Cf. D&C 64:26.
34. Cf. D&C 58:51. John Whitmer related the result of the assignment in this verse: "Shortly after Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon returned Sidney wrote a description and an epistle [see below for Rigdon's letter] according to commandment. And Oliver Cowdery and Newel K. Whitney--were commanded to go and visit the Churches speedily--as you will see by reading the revelation given August thirty at Kirtland . . . Immediately after the commandment was given and the epistle written, Oliver Cowdery and N. [Newell] K. Whitney went from place to place and from Church to Church preaching and expounding the scriptures and commandments, and obtaining moneys of the disciples for the purpose of buying lands for the Saints according to commandments; and the disciples truly opened their hearts, and thus there have been lands purchased for the inheritance of the Saints."[Book of John Whitmer, 12]
35. Sydney's next attempt was evidently successful:
Sidney Rigdon's (second) Epistle, August 31, 1831, Kirtland, OhioI Sidney a servant of Jesus Christ by the will of God the Father and through the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ unto the Saints which are scattered abroad in these last days May grace mercy & peace rest upon you from God the Father & from our Lord Jesus Christ who is greatly to be feared among his saints & to be had in reverence of all them who obey him--
Beloved brethren it has pleased God even the Father to make known unto us in these last days the good pleasure of his will concerning his saints & to make known unto us the things which he has decreed upon the nations even wasting and destruction until they are utterly destroyed & the earth made desolate by reason of the wickedness of its inhabitants according as he has made known in times past by the prophets & apostles that such calamities should befal the inhabitants of the earth in the last days unless they should repent & turn to the living God And as the time is now near at hand for the accomplishment of his purposes & the fulfilment of the prophecies which have been spoken by all the holy prophets ever since the world began he has sent & signified unto us by the mouth of his holy prophet that he has raised up in these last days the speedy accomplishment of his purposes which shall be accomplished on the heads of the rebellious of this generation among whom he has been pleased in much mercy & goodness to send forth the fulness of his gospel in order that they might repent & turn to the living God & be made partakers of his holy Spirit but by reason of their wickedness & rebellion against him & stubborn & rebellious hearts the Lord withdraws his spirit from them & gives them up to work all uncleanness with greadiness & to bring swift destruction on themselves & through their wickedness it hastens the day of their calamity that they may be left without excuse in the day of vengenance
But it has pleased our Heavenly Father to make known some better things concerning his saints & those who serve him in fear & rejoice in meekness before him even things which pertain to life everlasting for godliness has the promise of the life that now is & that which is to come even so it has pleased our Heavenly Father to make provision for his saints in these days of tribulation that they through faith & patience & by continuing in well doing may preserve their lives before him & attain unto rest & endless felicity but by no other means than that of a strict observance of his commandments & teachings in all things as there is nor can be no ruler nor lawgiver in the Kingdom of God save it be God even our Savior himself & before him he requires that all his saints & those who have named the name of Jesus should be careful to depart from iniquity & serve him with fear & rejoice with trembling lest he be angry & they perish from the way According to the predictions of the ancient prophets that the Lord would send his messengers in the last days & gather together his elect (which are the elect according to the covenant namely those who like Abraham are faithful to God & the word of his grace) from the four winds even from one end of Heaven to the other as testified of by the Savior himself So in these last days he has commenced to gather them unto a place provided before of God & had in reserve from days of old being kept by the power & providence of God for this purpose & which he now holds in his own hands that they through faith & patience may inherit the promises a land which God by his own commandment has consecrated to himself where he has said that his laws shall be kept & where his saints can dwell in safty through their perservance in well doing & their unfeigned repentance of all their sins our Heavenly Father has provided this land himself because it was the one which was best adapted for his children where Jew & Gentile might dwell together for God has the same respect to all them that call upon him in truth & righteousness whether they be Jew or whether they be gentile for there is no respect of persons with him. This land being sittuated in the centre of the continent on which we dwell with an exceeding fertile soil & cleared ready for the hand of the cultivator bespeaks the goodness of our God in providing so goodly a heritage & its climate suited to persons from every quarter of this continent whether east west north or south yea I think I may say for all consitutions from every part of the world & its productions nearly all the varieties of both grain & vegetables which are common to this country together with the means of cloathing in addition to this it abounds with fountains of pure water the soil climate & surface all adapted to health indeed I may say that the whole properties of the country invite the saints to come & partake in their blessings but what more need I say about a country which our Heavenly Father holds in his hands for if it were unhealthy he could make it healthy & if barren he can make it fruitful Such is the land which God has provided for us in these last days for an inheritance & truly it is a goodly land & none other so well suited for all the saints as this & all those who have faith & confidence in God who has ever seen this land will bear the same testimony. In order that you may understand the will of God respecting this land & the way & means of possessing it I can only refer you to commandments which the Lord has delivered by the mouth of his prophet which will be read to you by our brethren Oliver & Newel whom the Lord has appointed to visit the churches & obtain means for purchasing this the land of our inheritance that we may escape in the day of tribulation which is coming on the earth.
I conclude by exhorting you to hear the voice of the Lord your God who is speaking to you, in much mercy & and who is sending forth his word & his revelations in these last days in order that we may escape impending vengance & the judgements which await this generation & which will speedily overtake them. Brethren pray for me that I may be counted worthy to obtain an inheritance in the land of Zion & to overcome the world through faith & dwell with the sanctified forever & ever Amen. [Ridgon papers, HDC; RJS, 99-101.]
36. In D&C 63, Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon were commanded to find a place to live where they could work on the Bible translation. Joseph Smith and his family would stay in the home of John Johnson in Hiram for almost one year.
The township of Hiram was named in commemoration of the ancient King of Tyre, friend of King David and King Solomon (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:10). The name was chosen by the original land owners who were devout Masons. Hiram began as a township in Portage County with a group of farmers in 1804.
By 1831, Hiram consisted of families from New England and Pennsylvania. Among Hiram's citizens in the 1830s were John Johnson (then in his fifties) and Symonds Ryder who we have already met. Both owned about three hundred acres of land and were respected leaders in the community. Church meetings and five conferences were held in the Johnson farmhouse and Hiram eventually had a strong branch of the LDS Church.
This healing of Elsa Johnson was followed by the baptism of Elsa and John Johnson and Ezra Booth in the spring of 1831. After baptism, John and Elsa returned to their farmhouse in Hiram. Booth accompanied them, for he had been called to serve a mission there where Booth converted Ryder.
Ryder accepted baptism in early June of 1831, was ordained an elder on June 6th by Joseph Smith, Sr., and on June 8th was called as a missionary (D&C 52:37). However, because Ryder did not believe that he was called by the Spirit of God, he did not serve. (See notes in chapter 14 this volume.)
In "translating" the Bible, Joseph read from a large edition of the King James Bible published in 1828 in Cooperstown, New York.
Joseph received sixteen revelations in Hiram, which are recorded as sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelations include sections 1, 65, 67, 68, 69, 71, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 99, part of 107 and 133. [Susan Easton Black, Regional Studies, Ohio.]
37. The three month trip to Missouri caused Joseph Smith to halt his work on the Bible. Section 64 of the D&C was received the day before Smith left Kirtland for Hiram, Ohio to continue this work. A portion of the printer's ms of this section in the BC has survived. It is in the hand of John Whitmer. A second complete Whitmer ms has this notation at the end: "Hiram, To Newel K. Whitney To Whitney & Gilbert Relative to their Store 11 Sept. 1831." [This refers to verse 26.] Another ms in BLC Bk. A is in the hands of Samuel H. Smith and Orson Hyde. BLC Bk. B contains yet another John Whitmer ms. The printed BC version ends in the middle of verse 36. Printing of the BC was interrupted by a mob who destroyed the Church printing press in July 1833, just as the typesetting was completed except the last seven verses of what is now D&C 64. Hence, salvaged copies of this first compilation of revelations (roughly sections 1-64) did not contain a complete text of section 64. Wilford Woodruff penciled in the rest of section 64 in his BC. His penciled version is identical to the current version. Eight different mss of this revelation exist and there are a number of textual variations among these copies as might be expected for reasons already given. Some of these changes could reflect new revelation given as the Church grew and a more finely structured organization became necessary but nearly all are simply spelling variations. In verse 23 the words "at his coming" do not appear until the 1835 edition of the D&C. In verse 30 the words "he hath set you to" now substitute for the pre 1835 phrase "it is the Lord's business" reinforcing the bishop's temporal role. In verse 38 the words "pertaining to Zion" do not appear in early mss. In verse 40, in later copies of the revelation, "the bishop" in Zion is called the "judge" (in property stewardship matters). Earlier versions did not mention the bishop specifically at this point. [Woodford] See the final note of chapter 3 volume 1.
38. D&C 43:2-4 gave some security to the Church in case Joseph Smith lost his place by transgression. He would be able (forced?) only to appoint his successor. In this revelation (D&C 64) Smith is told roughly the same thing. His position is assured unless he falls. This is not a tautology. There is no "living" succession unless Smith transgresses (and only he can appoint the successor even in that case). This left his contemporary critics with no choice but to believe Smith lied in D&C 43. Indeed this is precisely what David Whitmer and others claimed late in life, i.e., that Smith had already gone astray and lost his prophetic mantle. But for the believers, the provision provided in these scriptures leaves the problem of what happens in case Smith dies (but note the concept in D&C 122:9). Probably at this point Oliver Cowdery would be successor. In D&C 90:3-4 Joseph is told that his position won't be taken from him in life. The Church will be able to appoint a successor after his death (but the method for doing this is not given there.)
[For a more complete explanation of succession in the Presidency of the LDS Church see Reed C. Durham, Jr. and Steven H. Heath, Succession in the Church, (Bookcraft: Salt Lake City, 1970).]
39. Vss. 6-17 address the criticisms against Joseph Smith for his actions during this first Missouri trip. Joseph is not perfect the revelation says. No excuses are made for any of his sinful actions, but the revelation cautions his critics to be careful to forgive. To be unforgiving is a greater transgression. The Lord is to be the judge of Joseph as indicated in the verses previous to these. On the other hand many of his critics have no basis for their criticisms and they must repent. Bishop Partridge needs to repent of his criticisms and lack of faith. When Joseph's critics repent they are promised forgiveness. Additionally, the reference to forgiveness and the ancient disciples may also refer to continued bad feeling between Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge. As noted elsewhere, Rigdon blamed Partridge for his near drowning on the return trip from Missouri (note 22 above and note 58 chapter 15 of this volume) and felt Partridge had shown such disrepect to Joseph Smith that his Church affiliation should be called into question. This difficulty continued for almost another year. (See notes at chapters 19 and 20 of this volume.)
40. Morley sold the farm October 12, 1831.
41. By the fall of 1836 the apostate movement in Kirtland began to cause instability in the Church there. Eighteen months later (January 1838) Joseph Smith had to leave for his personal safety.
42. One of the complaints of Ezra Booth involved incurring debt in Missouri to buy property around Independence. Booth felt that Missouri properties were to be purchased by the donations of members (D&C 42:31-35; 54) and perhaps felt that Partridge and Smith had violated this instruction which the revelation here acknowledges as correct. But the present revelation explains the policy more fully. Booth seemed to have great difficulty accepting the principle of active revelation in the Church. He had great difficulty with the notion that God might alter specific immediate instructions when circumstances change. He therefore ascribed any such changes to Smith.