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Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 31

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“Doctrine and Covenants 31,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 31,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 31

Revelation, September 1830–F

Source Note

Revelation, Fayette Township, Seneca Co., NY, to Thomas B. Marsh, [Sept.] 1830. Featured version, titled “34th Commandment AD 1830,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 43–44; 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

According to his history, JS dictated this revelation for Thomas B. Marsh during the 26 September 1830 conference.1 Marsh, a resident of Charlestown, Massachusetts,2 who had earlier been affiliated with the Methodist church, first learned of JS and his activities when he visited Palmyra, New York, in 1829. He later recounted that in the summer of that year, “I thought the Spirit required me to make a journey West. I started in co[mpan]y. with on[e] Benj. Hall, who was also led by the Spirit. We went to Lima Livingston Co N. Y. where we stayed some 3 mos. and then left for home.” Before returning home, however, he stopped in Lyons, just fifteen miles east of Palmyra, where he learned of the printing of the Book of Mormon. He then traveled on to Palmyra, where he met Martin Harris, saw proof sheets of the first pages of the Book of Mormon, and spoke with Oliver Cowdery, who, according to Marsh, “gave me all the information concer[n]ing the Book I wanted.” Marsh returned to his home interested in what he had learned and carrying the first sixteen printed pages of the book.3 On 25 October, Marsh wrote to Cowdery to express his interest in the little band of believers and to inquire about their welfare. Cowdery reported to JS that although Marsh had found some unwilling to listen, he had talked “to Some respecting our work.”4 The correspondence continued, but the letters are no longer extant. After learning by letter of the April organization of the Church of Christ, Marsh and his family moved to Palmyra in September 1830. Shortly before the second conference of the church in late September, David Whitmer baptized Marsh and Oliver Cowdery ordained him an elder, most likely shortly before JS dictated this revelation.5

Echoing revelations from April and June of 1829 that called for the formation of a church and the gathering of believers, this text emphasized the urgency of the work and admonished Marsh to “thrust in thy Sickle with all thy Soul.” Like Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, and others before him, as well as Ezra Thayer and Northrop Sweet soon after, Marsh was reminded that the “harvest” was near; in vivid apocalyptic language, the revelation warned that the field was “already to be burned.”6

The revelation also addressed Marsh’s understandable concerns about his family’s welfare as he traveled and preached, promising him that his family would be blessed during his absence. Though the revelation does not indicate where he was to preach, he remained in New York until the spring of 1831 and corresponded with relatives in Massachusetts, urging them to join the believers.7 In June 1831 he was called to travel to Missouri and preach along the way.8

34th Commandment AD 1830

A Revelation to Thomas [B. Marsh] his call to the ministiry &c gaven at Fayette Seneca County State of New York9

[1]Thomas my Son Blessed art thou Be[c]ause of thy faith in my words [2]Behold thou hast had many afflictions because of thy family Nevertheless I will bless thee & thy family yea thy little ones & the day cometh that they will believe & know the truth & be one with thee10 in my Church11 [3]lift up your heart & rejoice for the hour of your Mishion mission is come & thy tongue shall be loosed & thou shalt declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation [4]thou shalt declare the things which have been revealed unto my Servent Joseph thou shalt begin to preach from this time forth yea to Reap in the field which is white already to be burned12 [5]Therefore thrust in thy Sickle with all thy Soul13 & thy sins are forgiven thee & thou shalt be laden with sheaves upon thy Back14 for the labourer is worthy of his hire Wherefore thy family shall live [6]Behold Verily I say unto you go from them only for a little time & declare my word & I will prepare a place for them [7]yea I will open the hearts of the People & they will Receive thee & I will establish a church by thy hand [8]& thou shalt strengthen them & prepare them against the time when the gethering15 shall be[.] [9]be patient in afflictions & sufferings revile not against [p. 43] Those that revile16 govern thy house in meekness & be steadfast [10]Behold I say unto you that thou shalt be a P[h]ysician unto the Church but not unto the World for they will not receive thee17 [11]go thy way whithersoever I will & it shall be given thee by the Comforter what thou shalt do & whither thou shalt go [12]pray always lest ye enter into temptation & loose thy reward [13]be faithful unto the end & Lo! I am with you these words are not of man neither of men but of me even Jesus Christ your Redeemer by the will of the father even so amen