Doctrine and Covenants Study
Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 3

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Doctrine and Covenants 3

Revelation, July 1828

Source Note

Revelation, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA, to JS, July 1828. Featured version copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 1–2; handwriting of John Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

This is the first JS revelation for which a text has survived.1 According to JS’s history, it was obtained using the Urim and Thummim after Martin Harris lost the earliest Book of Mormon manuscript. Working in Harmony, Pennsylvania, from mid-April to mid-June 1828, JS dictated and Harris wrote what JS later called “the Book of Lehi,” translated from the gold plates.2 Facing ongoing opposition from his wife, Harris pressed JS to “enquire of the Lord through the Urim and Thummin” whether Harris could take the translation to his home in Palmyra, New York, to “read to his friends that peradventur he might convince them of the truth.”3 JS’s history said that he “inquired of the Lord and the Lord said unto me that he [Harris] must not take” the manuscript.4 Dissatisfied with the answer, Harris made a second request, resulting in a similar inquiry and answer. Finally, “after much solicitation” from Harris, JS “again enquired of the Lord, and permission was granted him [Harris] to have the writings on certain conditions,” which included showing them only to specified family members.5

With the manuscript in hand, Harris left for New York, apparently on 14 June. On 15 June, Emma Smith gave birth to a son who was either stillborn or died shortly after birth.6 For nearly three weeks JS cared for Emma, who in Lucy Mack Smith’s words felt “to tremble upon the verge of the silent home of her infant.”7 As Emma began to recover in early July, she encouraged JS to “repair to Palmira, for the purpose of learning the cause of Mr. Harris absence, as well as silence.”8 Shortly after JS arrived at his parents’ home near Palmyra, he learned that Harris had lost the manuscript. Lucy Mack Smith wrote that “sobs and groans . . . filled the house,” with JS “weeping and grieving like a tender infant.” He and his family soon “parted with heavy hearts,” and JS returned to Pennsylvania.9

JS’s history described the historical setting for the revelation: “Immediately after my return home [to Harmony] I was walking out a little distance, when Behold the former heavenly messenger appeared and handed to me the Urim and Thummin again (for it had been taken from me in consequence of my having wearied the Lord in asking for the privilege of letting Martin Harris take the writings which he lost by transgression) and I enquired of the Lord through them and obtained the folowing revelation.”10 It is not known when or how the text was committed to paper. Although JS may have written it himself, he dictated later revelations to scribes and may have dictated this one to either Emma or her brother Reuben Hale, both of whom served as scribes to JS during this time.11 The earliest extant version of the revelation, featured here, was copied into Revelation Book 1 by John Whitmer, likely in early 1831.

The revelation rebuked JS for allowing Harris to take the manuscript and commanded him to repent before he could resume the translation. According to Lucy Smith, the angel told JS that because he “had sinned in that he had delivered the manuscript into the hands of a wicked man . . . he would of necessity suffer the consquence’s of his indiscretion.” However, after losing the plates and the spectacles, JS continued his “suplications to God without cessation” until he “had the joy and satisfaction of again receiving the urim and Thummim.”12

July one Thousand Eight hundred & Twenty Eight Given to Joseph the Seer after he had lost certan writings which he had Translated by the gift & Power of God13

Saying [1]the words <works> of & designs & the Purposes of God cannot be frustrated neither can they come to naught ground14  [2]for God doth not wa[l]k in crooked Paths neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left neither doth vary from that which he hath said therefore his paths are strait & his course is one eternal round [3]Remember Remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated but the works of men [4]for although a man may have many Revelations & have power to do many Mighty works yet if he boast in his own strength & Sets at naught the councils of God & follows after the dictates of his will & carnal desires he must fall to the Earth & incur the vengence of a Just God upon him [5]behold you have been intrusted with those things but strict was your commandment & Remember also the Promises which were made to you if you transgressed them [6]& behold how oft you have transgressed them Laws of God & have gone on in the Persuasions of men [7]for behold you should not have feared men more then God although men set at naught the councils of God & dispise his words [8]yet you should have been faithful & he would have extended his arm & supported you against all the firey darts of the advisary & he would have been with you in evry time of trouble [9]behold thou art Joseph & thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord but because of transgression thou mayest fall [10]but remember God is merciful therefore repent of that which thou hast done & he will only cause thee to be afflicted for a season15 & thou art still chosen & will & will again be called to the work & [11]except [p. 1]

Thou do this thou shalt be delivered up & become as other men & have no more gift [12]& when thou deliveredst up that Which that which God had given thee right to Translate thou deliveredest up that which was Sacred into the hands of a wicked man [13]who has Set at naught the Councils of God & hath broken the most Sacred promises which was made before God16 & hath depended upon his own Judgement & boasted in his own arm wisdom [14]& this is the reason that thou hast lost thy Privileges for a Season [15]for thou hast suffered that the council of thy directors to be trampeled upon from the begining [16]for as the knowledge of a Saveiour hath come to the world so shall the knowledge of my People [17]the Nephities & the Jacobites & the Josephites & the Lamanites [18]come to the Lamanites knowledge of the Lamanites & the Lamanites & the Ishmaelites17 which dwindeled in unbelief because of the iniquities of their Fathers who hath been suffered to destroy their Brethren because of their iniquities & their Abominations [19]& for this very Purpose are these Plates prepared which contain these Records that the Promises of the Lord might be fulfilled which he made to his People [20]& that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their Fathers18 & that they may know the Promises of the Lord that they may believe the Gospel & rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ & that they might be glorified through faith in his name & that they might repent & be Saved Amen Received in Harmony Susquehannah Penn19