“Doctrine and Covenants 68,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 68,” 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 “70 A Revelation to Orson Luke Lyman & William,” copied [ca. Nov. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 113–114; handwriting of Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
On 1–2 November 1831, ten elders convened a conference in Hiram, Ohio, to discuss the publication of the Book of Commandments, a compilation of JS’s revelations.1 According to a later JS history, four of the conference attendees—Orson Hyde, Luke Johnson, Lyman Johnson, and William E. McLellin—approached JS during the conference and requested to know the Lord’s will concerning them.2 This revelation came in response to their inquiry.3 The revelation provided more information about the evangelizing duties of the four men specifically and of elders in general. While Hyde, McLellin, and Luke Johnson were all ordained to the high priesthood at a conference held in Orange, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, a week earlier, Lyman Johnson was ordained to the high priesthood at the Hiram conference on 2 November.4
After closing the portion of the revelation addressed specifically to the four men with an “Amen,” the document shifts its audience to the church in general and gives additional information about the office of bishop, as well as counsel to members of the church “in Zion” about teaching and baptizing their children and avoiding idleness and greed. The text may originally have been dictated as two discrete revelations, which, like some other revelations closely related in time or content, were then copied together and presented as a single, unified text. All extant copies of the text—whether in manuscript or published form—present both parts as one revelation.
The original manuscript of the revelation is not extant, and the conference minutes do not mention the revelation.5 However, the copy in Revelation Book 1 is dated 1 November 1831 and a heading states that it was “given in Hiram Nov. 1. 1831.”6 John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1, probably soon after its dictation.7
/8given in Hiram Nov. 1. 1831
The mind & will of the Lord as made known by the voice of the spirit
made < known to> a confrence held November first 1831 concerning certain Elders who requested of the Lord to kno◊ his will concerning them & also certain items as made known in addition to the Laws & commandments which have been given to the church11 firstly my servant Orson was called by his ordinance12 to proclaim the everlasting Gospel by the spirit of the living God from people to people & from land to land from <in the> congregtions of the wicked in their Synagogues13 reas[o]ning with & expounding all scriptures <un>to them14 & behold & lo this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth & this is the ensample unto them that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost & whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be Scripture15 shall be the will of the Lord shall be the mind of the Lord shall be the voice of the Lord & shall be the power of God unto Salvation16 behold this is the promise of the Lord unto you o ye my servants wherefore be of good cheer & do not fear for I the Lord am with you & will stand by you & you <ye> shall bear record of me even Jesus christ that I am the Son of God that I was that I am & that I am to come this is the word of the Lord unto you my Servant Orson & also to my servant Luke & unto my servant Lyman & unto my servant William & unto all the faithful Elders of my church go ye unto all the world preach the gospel to every creature acting in the authority which I have given you baptising in the name of the Father & of the Son & of <of the> Holy Ghost & he that believeth & is baptised shall be saved & he that believeth not shall be damned & he that believeth shall be blessed with signs following even as it is written17 & unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times & the signs of the coming of the Son of man18 & of as many as the Father shall bear record to you it shall be given to seal them up unto Eternal life19 Amen—
And now conc[e]rning the items in addition to the Laws & commandments20 they are these there rema[i]neth hereafter in the due [p. 113] time of the Lord other Bishops to be set apart unto the church to minister even according to the first21 wherefore it shall be an high priest who is worthy & he shall be appointed by a confrenc of high priests22 And again no Bishop or judge23 which shall be set apart for this ministry shall be tried or condemned for any crime save it be before a confrence of high priests & inasmuch as he is found guilty before a confrenc of high priests by testimony that cannot be impeached he shall be condemned or forgiven according to the Laws of the church24 And again inasmuch as parents have children in Zion that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance faith in Christ the Son of the living God & of baptism & the gift of the Holy Spirit by the laying <on> of the hands when eight years old the sin be upon the head of the parents for this shall be a Law unto the inhabitants of Zion & their children shall be baptised for the remission of their sins when eight years old & receive the laying on of the hands25 & they also shall teach their children to pray & to walk uprightly before the Lord & the inhabitants of Zion shall also observe
to the Sabath day to keep it holy26 & the inhabitants of Zion also shall remember their labors inasmuch as they are appointed to labor in all faithfulness for the idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord now I the Lord am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion for there are idlers among them27 & their children also are growing up in wickedness they also seek not earnestly the riches of Eternity28 but their eyes are full of greediness29 these things ought not to be & must be done away from among them wherefore let my servant Oliver [Cowdery] cary these sayings unto the land of Zion30 & a commandment I give unto them that he that obse[r]veth <not> his prayers before the Lord in the season thereof let them be had in remembrance before the judge of my people these sayings are true & faithful31 wherefore transgress them not neither take therefrom behold I am Alpha & Omega32 & I come quickly Amen
a in Hiram November first 1831 by Joseph the Seer
Revelation, Hiram Township, Portage Co., OH, 1 Nov. 1831; substantial revisions, Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH, ca. June 1835. Featured version published in Evening and Morning Star, Oct. 1832 [June 1835], pp. 73–74. For more information, see the source note for the Evening and Morning Star on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
In June 1835, as part of a larger project commenced in November 1834, F. G. Williams & Co. reprinted the October 1832 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star, the church newspaper published from June 1832 to September 1834.33 The issue included the text of a 1 November 1831 revelation that Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer had recorded in Revelation Book 1 soon after its dictation by JS.34 In its reprinted form, featured here, the revelation has several significant additions and changes not present in either the 1831 Revelation Book 1 version or the October 1832 publication.
The original November 1831 revelation addressed some of the responsibilities of elders and high priests in the church and provided additional instructions for church members in Missouri.35 The version in the reprinted Evening and Morning Star contained substantial additions, including new passages about who could serve as a bishop and how bishops were to be appointed. Extant records are silent on how or when the additions were made, but JS was undoubtedly involved in the process. In November 1831, a conference resolved that JS should review his revelations and provide corrections to them as instructed “by the holy Spirit.”36 That same process was likely used with this revelation. As new offices developed in the church, and as JS’s understanding of these offices increased, he likely reviewed the revelation and made the additions. Some of the additions—such as the information about literal descendants of Aaron holding a right to the office of bishop—originated (and in places are nearly verbatim) with the Instruction on Priesthood that JS presented to the Twelve Apostles sometime in spring 1835.37 Other additions first appeared in the Evening and Morning Star reprint of the revelation featured here.38 With the Instruction on Priesthood and the additional information included in this revelation, church members had a significant body of instructions about the roles and responsibilities of church officers, as well as important information about the priesthood governing the church.
In addition to the doctrinal additions, some typographical changes were made to the revelation. These resulted from the process of reprinting The Evening and the Morning Star. In September 1834, Oliver Cowdery announced that F. G. Williams & Co. would be reprinting the Star, partly to present it in a smaller, more convenient size and partly to correct typographical and other errors in the original publication. Cowdery was especially interested in correcting the “many errors, typographical, and others,” in the published revelations. These mistakes, “occasioned by transcribing manuscript[s],” were to be corrected by comparing the printed material to the original manuscripts.39 When the first issue of the Star was reprinted in January 1835, Cowdery noted that he and others were “not a little surprised to find the previous print so different from the original.” However, Cowdery wrote, he and others “whose known integrity and ability is uncensurable” were able to make the necessary corrections.40 Since JS, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams had been appointed, along with Cowdery, as a committee “to arrange the items of the doctrine of Jesus Christ for the government of the church of Latter-Day Saints,” they may have assisted Cowdery in this effort. John Whitmer and William W. Phelps, who began working in the Kirtland printing office in May 1835, may have helped as well.41
This revelation was included in the church’s Doctrine and Covenants, which was available by September 1835.42 The version in that publication is almost exactly the same as the reprinted version here. Differences between the featured version and the versions in Revelation Book 1 and the 1832 publication are noted herein.
A Revelation, given November, 1831, to Orson Hyde, Luke Johnson, Lyman Johnson and William E. McLel[l]in.43 The mind and will of the Lord, as made known by the voice of the Spirit to a conference44 concerning certain elders:45 and also certain items, as made known, in addition to the covenants46 and commandments:—47
48My servant, Orson Hyde, was called, by his ordinance,49 to proclaim the everlasting gospel, by the spirit of the living God, from people to people, and from land to land, in the congregations of the wicked, in their synagogues, reasoning with and expounding all scriptures unto them: And behold and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth: And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and whatsoever they shall speak, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, shall be scripture; shall be the will of the Lord; shall be the mind of the Lord; shall be the word of the Lord;50 shall be the voice of the Lord, and 51the power of God unto salvation; Behold this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants: wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living52 God; that I was; that I am; and that I am to come. This is the word of the Lord unto you my servant, Orson Hyde; and also unto my servant, Luke Johnson, and unto my servant, Lyman Johnson, and unto my servant William E. McLelin; and unto all the faithful elders of my church: Go ye into all the world; preach the gospel to every creature; acting in the authority which I have given you; baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned; and he that believeth shall be blessed with signs following,53 even as it is written: And unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of man; and of as many as the Father shall bear record, to you it shall be given power54 to seal them up unto eternal life:55 Amen.
And now concerning the items in addition to the covenants56 and commandments, they are these; there remaineth hereafter, in the due time of the Lord, other bishops to be set apart unto the church to minister even according to the first:57 Wherefore they shall be high priests who are worthy, and they shall be appointed by the first presidency of the Melchisedek priesthood,58 except they be literal descendants of Aaron; and if they be literal descendants of Aaron, they have a legal right to the bishopric, if they are the first born among the sons of Aaron: for the first born holds the right of presidency over this priesthood, and the keys or authority of the same.59 No man has a legal right to this office, to hold the keys of this priesthood, except he be a literal descendant and the first born of Aaron:60 but as a high priest of the Melchizedek priesthood, has authority to officiate in all the lesser offices,61 he may officiate in the office of bishop when no literal descendant of Aaron can be found; provided he is called and set apart, and ordained unto this power under the hands of the first presidency of the Melchizedek priesthood.62 And a literal descendant of Aaron, also, must be designated by this presidency, and found worthy, and annointed, and ordained under the hands of this presidency, otherwise they are not legally authorized to officiate in their priesthood: but by virtue of the decree concerning their right of the priesthood descending from father to son,63 they may claim their annointing, if at any time they can prove their lineage, or do ascertain it by revelation from the Lord under the hands of the above named presidency.64
And again, no bishop or high priest,65 who shall be set apart for this ministry, shall be tried or condemned for any crime save it be before the first presidency of the church;66 and inasmuch as he is found guilty before this presidency,67 by testimony that cannot be impeached, he shall be condemned,68 and if he repents he shall be forgiven, according to the covenants and commandments of the church.
And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized,69 that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance; faith in Christ the Son of the living God; and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old: the sin be upon the head of the parents, for this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized,70 and their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands:71 and they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord. And the inhabitants of Zion shall also observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy.72 And the inhabitants of Zion, also, shall remember their labors, inasmuch as they are appointed to labor, in all faithfulness, for the idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord. Now I the Lord am not well pleased [p. 73] with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them;73 and their children are also growing up in wickedness: They also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness. These things ought not to be, and must be done away from among them: wherefore let my servant Oliver Cowdery, carry these sayings unto the land of Zion.74 And a commandment I give unto them, that he that observeth not his prayers before the Lord in the season thereof, let him be had in remembrance before the judge of my people. These sayings are true and faithful: wherefore transgress them not, neither take therefrom. Behold I am Alpha and Omega, and I come quickly: Amen.