“Doctrine and Covenants 1,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 1,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Hiram Township, OH, 1 Nov. 1831. Featured version, titled “77 Revelation Given in Hiram Novm. 1st. 1831,” copied [ca. between 12 and 20 Nov. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 125–127; handwriting of John Whitmer; CHL. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
At a conference of elders in Hiram, Ohio, on 1 November 1831, JS dictated a revelation designated as a preface for the Book of Commandments, a proposed compilation of JS’s revelations.1 According to the minutes of the 1 November conference, this revelatory preface was “received by inspiration” during a recess between the morning and afternoon sessions.2 William E. McLellin, one of the conference participants, gave a more detailed account of the production of the preface fifty years later to William Kelley, an elder in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. According to Kelley’s account of the conversation, McLellin said that he, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery had been given the assignment to write the preface to the Book of Commandments, but when they presented their draft to the conference, the “Conference picked it all to pieces” and requested that JS petition the Lord for a preface. After JS and the elders bowed in prayer, JS, who was “sitting by a window,” dictated the preface “by the Spirit,” while Rigdon served as scribe. “Joseph would deliver a few sentences and Sydney would write them down,” McLellin told Kelley, “then read them aloud, and if correct, then Joseph would proceed and deliver more.” In this way, “the preface was given.”3
As with prefaces to other published works, this revelation informed readers of the subject and purpose of the volume. Speaking in the voice of Deity, it told both the church and the world why God revealed these commandments to JS and painted an apocalyptic picture of the wrath that God would unleash against the wicked unless they responded to the new revelations by repenting. The revelations were thus a “voice of warning” to the world to prepare them for Jesus Christ’s second coming.
The original manuscript of the preface is no longer extant. John Whitmer copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1 likely between 12 November 1831, the date of the revelation that precedes it in the revelation book, and 20 November, the date that he and Cowdery left for Missouri with the revelation book.4 The revelation was printed as the preface to the Book of Commandments about a year later.5
Given in Hiram Novm. 1st. 1831
A Preface or instructions upon the Book of Commandments which were given of the Lord unto his Church through him whom he appointed to this work by the voice of his Saints through the prayer of faith7 this church being organized according to the will of him who rules all things on the Sixth day of April in the year of our Lord 18308
Hearken O ye People of my Church saith the voice of him who dwells on high & whose eyes are upon all men yea verily I say hearken ye People from afar & ye9 that are upon the Islands of the sea listen to gether for verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men & there is none to escape & there is no eye that shall not see neither ear that shall not hear neither heart that shall not be penetrated & the rebelious shall be pierced with much sorrow for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the house tops & their seceret acts shall be revealed & the voice of warning shall be unto all people by the mouth of my Deciples whom I have chosen in these last days they shall go forth & none shall stay them for I the Lord have commanded them Behold this is mine authority & the authority of my servents & my preface unto the Book of my Commandments which I have given them to Publish unto you O Inhabitants of the Earth wherefore fear & tremble O ye People for what I the Lord have decreed in them shall be fulfilled & verily I say unto you that they who go forth bearing these tidings unto the Inhabitants of the Earth to them is power given to seal both on Earth & in Heaven the unbelieveing & rebelious10 yea verily to seal them up unto the day when the wrath of God shall be poured out upon the wicked without measure11 unto the day when the Lord shall come to recompence unto every man according to his works & measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured to his fellow man wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto
his fellow man unto the end of the Earth that all that will [p. 125] hear may hear prepare ye prepare ye for that which is to come for the Lord is nigh & the anger of the Lord is kindled & his sword is bathed in heaven12 & it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the Earth & the arm of the Lord shall be revealled13 & the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord neither his servants neith[er] give heed to the words of the Prophets & Apostles shall be cut off from among the People14 for they have strayed from mine ordinances & have broken mine everlasting Covenant15 they seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness but every man walketh in his own way & after the Image of his own God whose Image is in the likeness of the world & whose substance is that of an Idol which waxeth old & shall perish in Babylon even Babylon the great, which shall fall16 wherefore I the Lord knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the Earth called upon my Servent s Joseph & spake17 unto him from heaven & gave him commandment & also & gave commandments to others that they should proclaim these things unto the world & all this that it might be fulfilled which was written by the Prophets the weak things of the world should come forth & break down the mighty & strong ones that men <man> should not council his fellow man neither trust in the arm of flesh18 but that every man might Speak in the name of God the Lord even the Saveiour of the world that faith also might increase in the Earth that mine everlasting Covenant might be established19 that the fullness of my Gospel might be proclaimed by the weak & the Simple unto the ends of the world & before kings & Rulers Behold I am God & have spoken it these are commandments are of me & were given unto my Servents in their weakness after the manner of their Language that they might come to understanding20 & in as much as they erred it might be made known & in as much as they sought wisdom it might be made known instructed & in as much as they sinned they might be chastened that they might repent21 & in as much as they were humble they might be made strong22 & blessed from on high & receive knowledge from time to time After they having received the record of the Nephites23 yea even my Servant Joseph might have power to translate through the mercy of God by the power of [God]24 the Book of Mormon & also those to whom these commandments were given might have power to lay the foundation of this Church & to bring it forth out of obscurity & out of darkness the only true & living Church upon the face of the whole Earth with which I [p. 126] the Lord am well pleased speaking unto the Church collectively & not individually for I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance25 nevertheless he that repenteth & doeth the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven & he that repenteth not from him shall be taken even the light which he has received for my spirit shall not always strive with man saith the Lord of hosts26 & again verily I say unto you O inhabitants of the Earth for I the Lord am willing to make these things known unto all flesh for I am no respector to persons27 & willeth that all men shall know that the day speedily cometh the hour is not yet but is nigh at hand when peace shall be taken from the Earth28 & the Devil shall have power over his own dominion & also the Lord shall have power over his saints & shall reign in their midst & shall come down in Judgement upon Idumea (or the World)29 search these commandments for they are true & faithfull & the Prophecies & promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled what I the Lord have spoken I have spoken & I excuse not myself & though the Heaven & <the> Earth pass away my word shall not pass away30 but shall all be fulfilled whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my Servants it is the same31 for Behold & Lo the Lord is God & the Spirit beareth record & the [record]32 is true & the truth abideth for ever & ever Amen [p. 127]