“Doctrine and Covenants 58,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 58,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, “Zion” [Jackson Co., MO], 1 Aug. 1831. Featured version, titled “61 Commandment August 1st. 1831,” copied [ca. Sept. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 94–98; handwriting of John Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
On 1 August 1831, JS dictated this revelation to the elders of the church who had joined him in western Missouri. Just a few days earlier, a revelation had designated Jackson County, Missouri, as the location at which to build the “City of Zion.”1 Upon arriving in Jackson County, however, some of the elders expressed disappointment with what they found. Oliver Cowdery, Ziba Peterson, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Frederick G. Williams had been preaching to white settlers in Independence and the vicinity since they were ejected from Indian Territory west of Missouri by February 1831.2 Despite their efforts, those arriving in Missouri in July found fewer than ten converts, whereas some had expected a burgeoning community of believers and perhaps a settlement that would soon be able to accommonnnate the migration of church members.3 Meanwhile, tension arose between Bishop Edward Partridge and JS. The revelation of 20 July called Partridge to manage the properties of the church and “see to all things as it shall be appointed” by God’s “Laws,” with the assistance of Sidney Gilbert, who had been appointed “an agent unto the church to buy lands.”4 According to one observer, Partridge argued with JS about the quality of the land selected for purchase. The disagreement apparently generated hard feelings on both sides. Partridge considered JS abusive, while Sidney Rigdon accused Partridge of “having insulted the Lord’s prophet.”5
In the wake of this incident and faced with the daunting prospect of actually building the city of Zion, JS dictated this 1 August revelation, probably at Independence.6 After addressing the “unbelief & blindness of heart” of Partridge and others, the revelation gave “further directions” for the establishment of Zion, as had been promised in the 20 July revelation.7 The revelation instructed JS to return to Ohio, directed those appointed to build up Zion to take the initiative in moving their families to Missouri, and encouraged the elders to look beyond the land’s undeveloped condition and focus on its prophesied glory. The revelation also anticipated a major migration to Jackson County and provided information about the key roles that the bishop and the agent would play in regulating that migration by making known “from time to time” the “priveliges of the lands,” or the number of individuals that the church community could accommodate. Conferences of elders were to help control the migration as well, providing counsel on who should move.
The original manuscript of this revelation is not extant. John Whitmer later copied the version featured here into Revelation Book 1, the revelation book he was keeping in Ohio. Several copies were made in addition to Whitmer’s; Partridge, for example, indicated in a 5 August letter to his wife that copies of this and other Missouri revelations were to be carried to Ohio by “our brethren” returning from Missouri, and Elizabeth Van Benthusen Gilbert later showed a copy to Levi Hancock after Hancock arrived in Jackson County.8 Ezra Booth also had a copy of the revelation, and it is likely that others made personal copies.9
Eber D. Howe, editor of the Painesville Telegraph, denounced JS and the church in his 1834 book Mormonism Unvailed, which published a version of the revelation “as a specimen of the manner in which the Prophet governs and rebukes his dupes.”10 Howe’s copy differs somewhat from Whitmer’s copy in Revelation Book 1: several phrases included in Whitmer’s copy do not appear in Howe’s, suggesting that Howe’s copy may be derived from an earlier text. Howe also dated the revelation 3 August 1831, which differs from Whitmer’s date of 1 August. Whitmer’s copy, however, was inscribed much earlier than Howe’s copy was published, and it is not known when or from whom Howe obtained a copy of the revelation, nor is it known what textual changes may have been made to Howe’s copy, whether intentional or unintentional. Because Howe’s version may have been copied from an earlier text than the Whitmer version, significant differences between the versions are noted in the annotation that follows.
6111 Commandment August 1st. 1831
Hearken oh ye Elders of my Church & give ear to my word & learn of me what I will concerning you & also concerning this land unto which I have sent you14 for verily I say unto you blessed is he that keepeth my commandments whether in life or in death & he that is faithfull in tribulation the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven15 ye cannot behold with your natural eyes for the present time the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter & the glory which shall follow after much tribulation16 for after much tribulation cometh the blessings Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory the hour is not yet but is nigh at hand remember this which I tell you before that you [p. 94] may lay it to heart & receive that which shall follow behold verily I say unto you for this cause I have sent you that you might be obedient & that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come & also that you might be honoured of laying the foundation & of bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand & also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor yea a feast of fat things of wine on the lees well refined17 that the earth may know that the mouths of the Prophets shall not fail yea a supper of the house of the Lord well prepared unto which all nations shall be invited firstly the rich & the learned the wise & the Noble & after that cometh the day of my Power then shall the poor the lame and the blind & the deaf come in unto the marriage of the lamb & partake of the supper of the Lord18 prepared for the great day to come19 Behold I the Lord have spoken it & that the testimony might go forth from Zion yea from the mouth of the City of the heritage of God yea for this cause I have Sent you hither & have Selected20 my Servent Edward [Partridge] & appointed him his mission in this land but if he repent not of his sins which is unbelief & blindness of heart let him take heed lest he fall21 behold his mission is given unto him & it shall not be given again & whoso standeth in that mission is appointed to be a Judge in Israel like as it was in ancient days to divide the lands of the heritage of God unto his children & to Judge his people by the testimony of the Just & by the assistance of his councillors22 according to the laws of the kingdom which are given by the Prophets of God for verily I say unto you my laws shall be kept on this land23 let no man think that he is ruler but let god rule him that Judgeth according to the council of his own will (or in other words) him that councileth or seteth24 upon the Judgement Seat let no man break the laws of the land for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land25 Wherefore be subject to the powers that be untill he reigns whose right it is to reign & subdues all enemies under his feet26 behold the laws which ye have received from my hand are the laws of the Church & in this light ye shall hold them forth behold here is wisdom & now as I spoke concerning my [p. 95] Servent Edward this land is the land of his residence27 & those whom he has appointed for his councillors & also the land of the residence of him whom I have appointed to keep my storehouse28 Wherefore let them bring their families to this land as they shall council between them & me for behold it is not meet that I should command in all things for he that is compelled in all things the same29 is a slothfull & not a wise Servent30 Wherefore he receiveth no reward verily I say men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will, & bring to pass much righteousness for the power is in them wherein they are agents unto themselves31 & in-as-much as men are good they shall in no wise loose their reward32 but he that doeth not any thing untill he is commanded & receiveth a commandment with a doubtfull heart & keepeth it with slothfullness the same is damned Who am I that made man saith the Lord that will hold him guilty that obey not my commandments who am I saith the Lord that have promised33 & have not fulfilled I command & a man obeys not I revoke & they receive not the blessing then they say in their hearts this is not the work of the Lord for his promises are not fulfilled but wo unto such for their reward lurketh beneath & not from above & now I give unto you further directions concerning this Land it is wisdom in me that my servent Martin [Harris] should be an example unto the church in laying his money before the bishop of the Church34 & also this is a law unto every man that cometh unto the Land to receive an inheritance and he shall do with his moneys according as the law directs35 & it is wisdom also that
it there should be lands purchased in Independence for the place of the storehouse & also for the house of the Printing36 & other directions concerning my servent Martin shall be given him37 of the spirit that he may receive his inheritance as seemeth him good & let him repent of his sins for he seeketh the praise of the world38 & also let my servent William [W. Phelps] stand in the office which I have appointed him39 & receive his inheritance in the Land & also he hath need to repent for I the lord am not pleased with him for he seeketh to excell & he is not sufficiently humble meek in his heart behold he that hath repented of his sins the [p. 96] same is forgiven & I the Lord remembereth them no more40 by this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins behold he will confess them & forsake them & now verily I say concerning the residue of the Elders of my Church the time has not yet come for many years for them to receive their inheritance in this land except they desire it through prayer only as they it shall be appointed unto them41 for Behold they shall push the people together from the ends of the Earth42 wherefore assemble yourselves together & he that is not appointed to stay in this land let them preach the gospel in the regions round about & after that let them return to their homes let them preach by the way43 & bear testimony of the truth in all places & call upon the rich the high & the low & the poor to repent & let them build up churches in-as-much as the inhabitants of the Earth will repent44 & let there be an agent appointed by the voice of the Church45 & I give unto my servent Sidney [Rigdon] a commandment that he shall write a discription of the Land of Zion & a statement of the will of God as it shall be made known by the spirit unto him46 and an Epistle & subscription to be presented47 unto all the Churches to obtain money to be put into the hands of the Bishop to purchase lands for an inheritance for the children of God of himself or the agent as seemeth him good or as he shall direct for behold verily I say unto you48 the Lord willeth that the deciples & the children of men should open their hearts even to purchase this whole region of country as soon as time will permit49 behold here is wisdom let them do this50 lest they reserve none inheritance save it be by the sheding of blood51 & again in as much as there is lands obtained let there be workmen sent forth of all kinds unto this land to labour for the saints of God let all these things be done in order & let the priveliges of the lands be made known from time to time by the Bishop or the agent of the Church52 & let the work of the gethering be not in haste nor by flight53 but let it be done as it shall be councelied by the Elders of the Church at the conferences according to the knoweledge which they receive54 from time to time & let my servent Sidney consecrate & dedicate this land & the spot of the temple unto the Lord55 & let a conference meeting be called56 & after that let my servent Sidney & Joseph return & also Oliver57 [Cowdery] with them to [p. 97] accomplish the residue of the work which I have appointed unto them in their own land58 & the residue as shall be ruled by the conference59 & let no man return from this land except he bear record by the way of that which he knows & most assuredly believes let that which has been bestowed upon60 Ziba [Peterson] be taken from him & let him stand as a member in the Church & labour with his own hands with the brethren untill he is sufficiently chastened for all his sins for he confeseth them not & he thinketh to hide them61 let the residue of the Elders of this church which are coming to this land62 some of whom are exceedingly blessed even above measure63 also hold a conference64 which shall be held by them & let them also return preaching the gospel by the way bearing record of the things which are revealed unto them for verily the sound must go forth from this place into all the world & unto the uttermost parts of the Earth the gospel must be preached unto every creature with signs following them that believe65 & behold the son of man cometh66 Amen