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Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 54

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“Doctrine and Covenants 54,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 54,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 54

Revelation, 10 June 1831

Source Note

Revelation, [Kirtland Township, OH], to Newel Knight, 10 June 1831. Featured version, titled “57th. Commandment June 10th. 1831,” copied [ca. June 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 90–91; 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 revelation provided instructions to the church members from Colesville, New York, after they encountered difficulties settling in Thompson, Ohio. In May 1831, shortly after they arrived in Ohio in compliance with revelations directing all New York members to gather there,1 JS instructed Bishop Edward Partridge to settle the Colesville members in Thompson on land offered by convert Leman Copley, a former Shaker.2

When JS moved to Ohio in early February, Copley had invited JS and Sidney Rigdon to live with him at Thompson, offering to “furnish them houses & provisions &c.”3 While both JS and Rigdon made other living arrangements for their families, Joseph Knight Sr., who accompanied JS to Ohio, recalled that in March he and JS went to Thompson, presumably to see about settling the soon-to-be-emigrating Colesville congregation on Copley’s property.4 Once the Colesville members arrived in Ohio, JS sent them to Thompson to live on Copley’s extensive landholdings.5

The arrangement with Copley apparently granted the Colesville members the privilege to live on the property in return for making improvements upon it, and according to Joseph Knight Sr., they “all went to work and made fence and planted and sowed the fields.”6 On 7 May Copley was called to preach, along with Sidney Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt, to the Shaker settlement in nearby North Union, Ohio.7 However, the missionary expedition failed to convert any of the Shakers, and the resulting confrontation between the Latter-day Saint elders and the Shakers apparently disturbed Copley. He soon went back to North Union, where he apparently reconciled with the Shaker community, and he then returned to Thompson with Shaker leader Ashbel Kitchell, perhaps intending to evict the Saints.8 During his visit to Thompson, Kitchell held a meeting with the Saints on Copley’s farm, was involved in a contentious altercation, and initiated efforts to remove them.9 Joseph Knight Jr. recalled, “We had to leave his [Copley’s] farm and pay sixty dollars damage,” adding bitterly that the payment was for “fitting up his houses and planting his ground.”10

Because of the difficulties with Copley, Newel Knight, the presiding elder over the Colesville group, went to Kirtland to consult with JS before the conference held in early June. Knight later explained that as a result of a revelation on 6 June,11 the last day of that conference, “we now understood that this [Ohio] was not the land of our inheritance—the land of promise, for it was made known in a revelation, that Missouri was the place chosen for the gathering of the Church, and several were called to lead the way to that state.”12 Though that 6 June revelation addressed the church generally, the 10 June revelation responded specifically to the concerns of the Colesville members living in Thompson. Knight later introduced the revelation with these words: “As I had come to see brother Joseph concerning our position in Thompson, he enquired of the Lord and received the following revelation.”13 John Whitmer similarly recalled, “At this time the Church at Thompson Ohio was involved in difficulty, becaus of the rebellion of Leman Copley. Who would not do as he had previously agreed. Which thing confused the whole church and finally the Lord spake unto Joseph Smith Jr the prophit.”14

57th. Commandment June 10th. 1831

A Revelation to the Church at Thompson giving them Directions what to do &c15

[1]Behold thus saith the Lord even Alpha & Omega the begining & the end even him that was crusified for the sins of the World [2]Behold verily verily I say unto you my servent Newel [Knight] you shall stand fast in the office wherewith I have appointed you16 [3]& if your Brethren desire to escape their enemies let them repent of all their sins & become truly humble before me & contrite [4]& as the covenant which they make unto me has been broken even so it hath become void & of none affect [5]& wo to him by whom this offence cometh for it had been better for him that he had been drownded in the depth of the sea17 [6]but blessed are they who have kept the covenant & observed the commandment for they shall obtain mercy [7]wherefore go to now & flee the land lest your enemies come upon you18 And take your Journey & appoint whom you will to be your leader19 & to pay moneyes for you [8]& thus you shall take your Journeys into the regions westward unto Missorie20 unto the borders of the Lamanites [9]& after you have done Journeying Behold I say unto you seek ye a living like unto men untill I prepare a place for you [10]& again be patient in tribulation21 untill I come & Behold I come quickly & my reward is with me [p. 90] & he that hath sought me early shall find rest to their Souls22 even So amen ——