Sermons and Instructions of Joseph Smith During the Year 1843

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The year 1843 finds Joseph Smith free from pursuit by Missouri law officers and this will be his most prolific year (in terms of extant records) for teaching the Saints. During 1843, Joseph will continue to privately teach polygamy and to complete the introduction of the temple ordinances that fall. His sermons reflect these doctrinal undercurrents and are dominated by temple themes. While his concern for the speedy completion of the temple is clear, we still see familiar doctrinal seams running through his sermons, such as "eternal judgement" and the nature of man and God. One of the interesting items for this year is his teachings at Nauvoo and Ramus, Illinois from which Orson Pratt eventually extracted the material for sections 129, 130 and 131 of the current edition of the Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While some of this material was not taught in public meetings, we have included the journal entries on which these items are based with the D&C versions in parallel to show how Elder Pratt edited the material.

Book of Abraham themes continue to play a role in the 1843 sermons as do topics related to chapter 14 of St. John.

One of the more interesting developments for 1843 is the increased number of multiple records for a given sermon. In a number of instances this helps us to get a more accurate picture of the actual words used during portions of a discourse. It allows us to make some educated guesses with regard to which parts of a given record are the authors' summary of what was said and which parts are actual quotes. On the other hand the need for stenographic reports is never more apparent than with some of these remarks. Clearly what has often been quoted as the words of Joseph Smith are recorder digests of much longer explanations and teachings. One other advantage to having multiple accounts shows up in some records: only one recorder catches what is apparently a statement that was either familiar to other listeners and so not written down or simply recorded by luck or inspiration. 1 In any case it is not just the fact of multiple witnesses for a given statement to which we may attach importance.

The sources for many of the public teachings include the Times and Seasons, the Journal of Wilford Woodruff, William Clayton's diary and reports, the Coray notebook, the Joseph Smith diary (kept by Willard Richards), James Burgess' notebook, Franklin D. Richards' record he called "Scriptural Items" and the Levi Richards diary among others. Most sources have been published in WJS.

As usual, sermon records are placed in parallel when multiple records exist and sermons are referred to by date (e.g., 13Aug43 for August 13, 1843). Again, the material in brackets [ ] is modern as are the footnotes.


1. It may be true that in some cases a recorder expands on what was actually said, possibly adding familiar passages of scripture, etc. to his private notes.

*Sermon checked for fidelity to source document(s).
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