“Doctrine and Covenants 71,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 71,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Hiram Township, OH, 1 Dec. 1831. Featured version copied [ca. 4 Dec. 1831]; handwriting of Sidney Rigdon; one page; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. For more information, see the source note on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
After holding several conferences early in November regarding the publication of the revelations, JS dictated a revelation on 1 December 1831 directing the Lord’s “Servents” to proclaim the gospel “in the regions round about … for the space of a season.” Later copies of this revelation identified the “Servents” as JS and Sidney Rigdon.1 This revelation directed JS and Rigdon to pave the way for the publication of the revelations through preaching. The need to preach seems to have grown more urgent because of the actions of Ezra Booth and Symonds Rider, who had begun to antagonize the church. A conference of elders including JS disciplined Booth on 6 September 1831, and in October the Ravenna, Ohio, newspaper Ohio Star began publishing Booth’s letters criticizing JS and the Church of Christ.2 The issue of the Ohio Star published shortly before this revelation was dictated printed Booth’s seventh letter, which included a message to Edward Partridge. Booth counseled Partridge to “place yourself from under the influence of the men who have deceived you” and to “fly from the habitations haunted by impostors.”3
A couple of months earlier, Rider, who had also become disaffected, provided a copy of the February 1831 revelation titled “Laws of the Church of Christ” to the Western Courier, another Ravenna newspaper, stating that “the Prophets or Preachers, declare it to be a Law revealed to them from heaven.” Rider requested that the newspaper publish the revelation, noting that church leaders “were commanded not to communicate it to the world, nor even to their followers, until they become strong in the faith.”4 Rider later declared that new converts could learn from these materials “that a plot was laid to take their property from them and place it under the control of Joseph Smith the prophet.”5 This 1 December revelation instructed JS and Rigdon to counteract the work of such “enemies.”
In response to these criticisms and prompted by the revelation, Rigdon invited Booth to a lecture in Ravenna on 25 December, where he would “review” Booth’s letters and show them to be “an unfair and false representation of the subjects on which they treat.” Rigdon also challenged Rider to a public debate on the Book of Mormon.6 Both men declined Rigdon’s invitations.7 Rigdon still lectured in Ravenna against Booth’s letters, and he and JS preached in Shalersville “and other places, setting forth the truth.”8
JS probably dictated this revelation in the upstairs bedroom of the John and Alice (Elsa) Johnson home in Hiram, Ohio. Rigdon, who was then serving as JS’s scribe on the Bible revision, likely wrote the revelation as JS dictated it. The original manuscript is apparently not extant. The copy featured here, which is in Rigdon’s handwriting, later came into the possession of Newel K. Whitney in Kirtland, Ohio. But because Rigdon wrote this copy of the 1 December revelation on the same sheet of paper as a 4 December 1831 revelation—with the 4 December revelation coming first—it is unlikely that Whitney’s copy is the original inscription.
Hiram Portage county Ohio Dec. 1– 1831
this thus saith the Lord unto you my Servents that the time has verily come that it is necessary and expedient in me that you should open your mouths in proclaiming my gospel9 the things of the kingdom expounding the misteries thereof out of the Schriptures10 according to that portion of spirit and power which shall be given unto you even as I will verily I say unto you proclaim unto the world in the regions round about11 and in the church also for the space of a season even untill it shall be made known unto you verily this is a mission for a season which I give unto you wherefore labour ye in my vinyard call upon the inhabitants of the earth12 and bear record and prepare the way for the revelations commandments and <the> revelations which are to come Now behold this is wisdom whoso readeth let him understand13 and receive also for unto him who receiveth it shall be given more abundantly even power wherefore confound your enemies Call upon them to meet you <both in> at publick both in publick and in private and inasmuch as ye are faithfull their shame shall be made manifest wherefore let them bring forth their strong reasons14 against the Lord verily thus saith the Lord unto you there is no weapon15 that <is> formed against you shall prosper16 and if any man lift his voice against you he shall be confounded in mine own due time wherefore keep these commandments for they are true and faithfull17 even so amen [rest of page blank]