“Doctrine and Covenants 98,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 98,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Kirtland Township, OH, 6 Aug. 1833. Featured version copied [ca. 6 Aug. 1833] in Revelation Book 2, pp. 66–71; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams and JS; Revelations Collection, CHL.For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 2 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
JS dictated this 6 August 1833 revelation, which encouraged peace amid escalating violence, approximately two weeks after a church leader and another member were tarred and feathered and the church printing press was destroyed in Jackson County, Missouri. Though he may have known about increasing tensions in Missouri, at this time JS had no knowledge of these specific events. In surviving documents, JS neither explained the immediate background of this revelation nor offered any interpretation of its text. On the same day JS dictated the revelation, the presidency copied it into a letter that they sent to church leaders in Jackson County, noting simply, “Here follows another revelation received to day.” In the letter, following the transcription of this and two other revelations, the presidency commented briefly about the revelations’ contents, but nothing pertained to the 6 August revelation in particular.1
Though contemporary sources provide little information as to what prompted the revelation, it may have come in response to the growing opposition against the church. On 9 July 1833, Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter, no longer extant, to Kirtland, Ohio. That letter and another, also not extant, from participants in the Missouri school of the prophets prompted JS and the presidency of the high priesthood to respond to Missouri leaders in the aforementioned 6 August letter.2 When Cowdery wrote to Kirtland, he may have expressed concern about the sporadic violence against church members in Jackson County and sought guidance from JS and the presidency of the high priesthood on how to respond to the problem.3 On 15 July, only days after Cowdery wrote his letter, an influential faction in Jackson County issued a manifesto declaring their intent “to rid our society” of Latter-day Saints “peacably if we can, forcibly if we must.”4 A later article printed in Kirtland in an extra to The Evening and the Morning Star noted that some Jackson County residents had long made “every effort to fan the flames” of opposition “till this demoniac spirit became general.”5 Cowdery left Jackson County sometime in late July, just after violence had erupted, and arrived in Kirtland on 9 August 1833, three days after JS dictated the 6 August revelation. In a letter to church leaders in Missouri that he wrote on 10 August, Cowdery mentioned the presidency’s 6 August letter and described its contents as “three revelations concerning Zion.”6 Yet the revelation featured here never specifically mentions Jackson County or the circumstances there.
Since this revelation is addressed to the presidency of the high priesthood, who were in Kirtland, it may also reflect concerns about circumstances in Ohio. Although a 2 July letter written from Kirtland indicated that “the spirit of bitterness among the people is fast subsiding and a spirit of enquiry is taking its place,” and an area newspaper suggested that the church in Kirtland was “far removed from danger,” some evidence indicates that opposition against the church in Kirtland had been intensifying.7 In late June 1833, a bishop’s court excommunicated Doctor Philastus Hurlbut, and following a brief reinstatement by JS, a general council excommunicated Hurlbut again. JS recorded that after being cut off from the church, Hurlbut “then saught the distruction of the sainst [Saints] in this place and more particularly myself and family.”8 Less than two weeks after this revelation was dictated, JS wrote to Edward Partridge and other church leaders that church members in Kirtland suffered “great persicution on account of” Hurlbut, who lied “in a wonderful manner and the peapl [people] are running after him and giveing him mony to b[r]ake down mormanism which much endangers our lives.” In the same letter, JS declared, “We are no safer here in Kirtland then you are in Zion the cloud is gethering arou[nd] us with great fury and all pharohs host or in other words all hell and the com[bined] powrs of Earth are Marsheling their forces to overthrow us.”9 Thus, this revelation may be related to aggression and escalating tension in one or both of the church centers.
This revelation counseled church members to remain temperate in their reactions to violent confrontation. It advocated following constitutional law and supporting civil authority, though it says nothing explicit about using the laws of the land to respond to the violence perpetrated by enemies of the church. Rather, it advised church members to patiently bear their afflictions, to “renounce war and proclaim peace,” and to offer forgiveness to wrongdoers. At the same time, this revelation explained in detail the conditions under which self-defense was permissible.
Though this revelation proved to have great relevance for church members in their coming trials, it was rarely mentioned in contemporary sources. One possible contemporary allusion to this revelation appears in a letter written by an unidentified church member on 30 October 1833 in Independence, Missouri. The letter echoed the instructions of the revelation, reporting that when “the mob, or at least some of the leaders began to move; strict orders were given with us not to be the aggressors—but to warn them not to come upon us.”10
Several versions of this revelation exist. Two versions are contemporaneous: one was written in a letter sent to Missouri on 6 August 1833 and the second appears in Revelation Book 2.11 Insufficient evidence exists to determine which is the earliest extant copy. Since the 6 August letter is published in its entirety elsewhere in this volume, the version featured here is from the manuscript revelation book. Significant differences between the two versions are noted.
/12Kirtland 6th of August 1833—
Verily I say unto you my friends fear not let your hearts be comforted yea rejoice ever more and in evry thing give thanks waiting patiently on the Lord for your prayers have entered into the ears of the of the Lord of sabbaoth13 and are recorded with this seal and testament the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted therefore he giveth this promise unto you with an immutable covenant [p. 66] that they shall be fulfilled and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good and to my names glory saith the Lord14 and now verely I say unto you concerning the Laws of the land it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them15 and that Law of the land which is constitutonal suporting the principles of freedom in maintaning rights and privealiges belonging to all mankind16 is justifyable before me therefore I the [Lord]17 justify18 you and your Brotheren of my Chirch in befriending that Law which [is]19 the constitutoonal Law of the land20 /21and as pertaining to law of man whatsoever is more or less then this cometh of evil22 I the Lord your God maketh you free therefore ye are free indeed and the law also maketh you free— nevertheless when the wicked rule the people mourn23 wherefore honest men and wise men should be sought for dilligently and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold24 otherwise whatsoever is less then these cometh of evil25 and I give unto you a commandment that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good that ye shall live by evry word that procedeth forth out of the mouth of God26 for he will give unto the faithful
line <line> upon line precept upon precept27 and I will try you and prove you herewith28 and whoso layeth down his life in my cause for my name sake shall find it again even life eternal29 therefore be not afraid of your enemies for I have decreed in my heart saith the Lord that I will prove you in all things whether you will abide in my covenant even unto death that ye may be found worthy for if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are [p. 67] not worthy of me30 therefore renounce war and proclaim peace and seek dilligently to turn the hearts of the Children to their fathers and the hearts of the father to the Children and the hearts of the father to the Children, and again the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets and the prophets unto the Jews lest I come and smite the whole earth with a curse <and> all all flesh be consumed before me31 let not your hearts be troubled for in my father[’s] house is are many mansions and I have prepared a place for <you> and where my father and I am there ye shall be also32 behold I the Lord am not well pleased with many who are in the church at Kirtland for they do not forsake their sins and their wicked ways the pride of their hearts and their covetiousness and all their detestable things and the observe the words of wisdom and eternal Life which I have given unto them verily I say unto you that I the Lord will chasten them verily and will do whatsoever I List if they do not repent and observe all things whatsoever I have said unto you them33 and again I say unto you if ye observe to do whatsoevr I command you I the Lord will turn34 all wrath and indignation from you and the gates of hell shall not prevail against you,35 Now I speak unto you concerning your families, if men will smite you or your families36 once and ye bear it patiently and revile not against them neither revile seek revenge ye shall be rewarded but if ye bear it not patiently it shall be accounted unto them as being meeted out a just measure unto you and [p. 68] again if your enemies shall smite you a seccond time and you revile not against your enemies enemy & bear it patiently your reward shall be an hundred fold and again if he shall smite you a third time and ye bear it patiently your reward shall be doubled unto you four fold37 and these three testamonies shall stand against your enemy if he repent not and shall not be blotted out, and now verily I say unto you if that enemy shall escape my vengence that he be not brought into judgment before me then ye shall see to it that ye warn him in my name that he come no more upon you neither38 upon your families even39 your children nor your childrens Children unto the third and fourth generation and then if he shall come upon you or your Children or your childrens Children unto the third and forth generation40 nevertheless thine enemy is in thine hands and and if thou reward him according to his works thou art Justified if he has saugh [sought] thy life and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified behold this is the Law I gave unto my servant Nephi and thy father Joseph and Jacob Isaac and Abraham and all mine ancient s prophets and Apostles and again this is the Law that I gave unto mine ancients that they should not go out unto battle against any Nation Kindred Tongue or people save I the Lord commanded them and if any Nation Tongue or people should proclaim war against them they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people Nation or tongue and if that people did not accept the offering of [p. 69] peace neithr the seccond nor third time they should bring their testamonies before the Lord then the Lord would give unto them a commandment and justify them in going out to battle against that Nation Tongue or people41 and I the Lord would fight their battles42 and their childrens battles and their children[’s] children[’s] until they had avenged themselves of upon all their enemies unto the third and forth generation, behold this is an ensample unto all people saith the Lord your God for justification befor me and again verely I say unto you if after thine enemy has come upon thee the first time and he repent and come unto thee praying thy forgivness thou shalt forgive him and shall hold it no more as a testamony against thine enemy and so on unto the seccond and third time and as oft as thine enemy repenteth of the trespass wherewith he has trespassed— against thee thou shalt forgive him until seventy times seven43 and if he trespass against thee and repent not the first time nevertheless thou shalt forgive him and if he trespass against thee seccond time and repent not never theless thou shalt forgive him and if he tresspass against thee the third time and repent not thou shalt also forgive him but if he trespass against him the forth time thou shalt not forgive him but shall bring these testamones[testimonies] before the Lord and they shall not be blotted out untill he repent and rewards them thee four fold in all things wherewith he has trespased against them [thee]44 and if and if he do this thou shalt forgive him [p. 70] with all thine heart and if he do not this I the Lord will avenge thee of thine enemies enemy and [an] hundred fold and upon his children and upon his childrens children of all them that hate me unto the third and forth generation45 but if the children shall repent or the childrens children and turn unto the Lord their God with all their heart with all their might mind and strenght and restore four fould for all their trespasses wherewith they have trespassed or wherewith their fathers have trespassed or their fathers fathers then thine indignation shall be turned away and vengence shall no more come upon them saith the Lord your God and their trespasses shall neve[r] be brought any more as a testamony before the Lord against them Amen——