“Doctrine and Covenants 100,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 100,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Perrysburg, NY, 12 Oct. 1833; handwriting of Sidney Rigdon; two pages; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes docket and archival marking. For more information, see the source note on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
Among the most fruitful areas for proselytizing in the early years of the Church of Christ were the regions around eastern Lake Erie and southwestern Lake Ontario. In the words of the 12 October 1833 revelation featured here and the minutes from a church conference, that region was primed for the “salvation of souls.” In March 1833, several men left Kirtland, Ohio, to go eastward to this region and “preach by the way.”1 That summer, The Evening and the Morning Star published letters from various missionaries that described their successful conversion efforts. Gideon Carter wrote that “in all the regions round about, especially east, much addition is made to several churches, and new ones are springing up.” Sylvester Smith reported on fifteen churches established between Kirtland and Chenango, New York, some of which were composed of almost one hundred members, and “in nearly all of them, the work is still going on.”2 Missionaries were also successfully proselytizing in western New York. In an early September 1833 letter, JS mentioned the proselytizing work of David W. Patten in New York, near the Upper Canadian border along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, that brought about eighty members into the church.3 In 1833, Amasa Lyman also traveled to nearby Cattaraugus County, New York, and other areas where he “held one hundred and fifty-two meetings, and saw one hundred souls added to the church.”4 JS and Sidney Rigdon also experienced a successful missionary journey in this region. In October 1833, they traveled to Upper Canada at the request of new converts Freeman and Huldah Nickerson.
In April 1833, Zerubbabel Snow had baptized Freeman Nickerson, who lived in Perrysburg, Cattaraugus County, New York.5 Moses Nickerson, who lived in Upper Canada, visited his parents, Freeman and Huldah, in Perrysburg in June 1833 and, according to his later autobiography, “heard for the first time what was then known as Mormonism.” He recalled being “favorably inclined towards the doctrine preached” and requested his parents to “have some of the elders visit us in Canada if they could make it convenient.” In September, Freeman and Huldah visited Kirtland and requested that JS and Sidney Rigdon preach to others in the Nickerson family in New York and Upper Canada.6 On 5 October 1833, JS and Rigdon left Kirtland to go east with Freeman and Huldah Nickerson. Before JS left, David Elliott also requested that JS and Rigdon “call on his Brother in Law” in Upper Canada, and JS’s uncle John Smith asked him to call on Richard Lyman, John’s brother-in-law, in the same region.7 In a letter written five days after JS, Rigdon, and the Nickersons left Kirtland, Frederick G. Williams explained that they had gone on a proselytizing mission through northwestern Pennsylvania, southwestern New York, and a portion of Upper Canada near the northeastern shore of Lake Erie and the southwestern shore of Lake Ontario.8
On 12 October 1833, a week after their departure, the party reached the Nickerson home in Perrysburg. Upon arriving, JS wrote in his diary, “I feel very well in my mind the Lord is with us but have much anxiety about my family.”9 The revelation featured here, recorded the same day, assured both JS and Rigdon that their families were well and would remain so. The main thrust of the revelation, however, was to encourage both men to preach according to the thoughts that would be given to them, assuring them that the Holy Spirit would confirm their message to many individuals in the region who were prepared to receive it. In addition, this revelation called Rigdon to act as a “spokesman” for JS and offered comfort concerning the hardships of church members in Jackson County, Missouri, who were currently facing expulsion.
No doubt encouraged by this revelation, JS and Rigdon proceeded north from Perrysburg and Lodi, New York, and then west across the Niagara River into Upper Canada. On 18 October 1833 they reached the village of Mount Pleasant, near Brantford, and were “kindly received” by Freeman Nickerson’s sons Eleazer Freeman Nickerson and Moses Nickerson. On Sunday, 20 October, they held a morning meeting at Brantford and an evening meeting at Mount Pleasant, at which “a very large” congregation “gave good heed to the things which were spoken.”10 After preaching in the area the next week, the two missionaries baptized twelve people on Sunday, 27 October, and two more on Monday, 28 October; those baptized included Moses and Eleazer Freeman Nickerson, as well as Lydia Goldthwaite Bailey. JS and Rigdon also conferred the gift of the Holy Ghost on those recently baptized and ordained Eleazer Freeman Nickerson an elder. The two missionaries departed for their homes in Kirtland on 29 October and arrived on 4 November. JS wrote in his journal that he found his family “all well according to the promise of the Lord. for which blessings I feel to thank his holy name; Amen.”11
After JS and Rigdon’s preaching efforts, the church began to grow in the Mount Pleasant area; by late December 1833 another twenty people had joined the Mount Pleasant branch of the Church of Christ. Moses Nickerson wrote to Sidney Rigdon on 29 December, informing him that “your labors while in Canada have been the beginning of a good work: there are 34 members attached to the church at Mount Pleasent.”12
Saturday October 12th 1833
Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my friends Sidney [Rigdon] & Joseph your families are well they <are> in mine hands and I will do with them as seemeth me good for in me there is all power therefore follow me and listen to the council which I shall give unto you behold and lo I have much people in this place in the regeons round about and an effectual door shall be opened in the regeons round about in this eastern land therefore I the Lord have suffired you to come unto this place for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls15 therefore verely I say unto you lift up your voices unto this people speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts and ye shall not be confounded before men for it shall be given you in the very hour yea in the very moment what ye shall say16 but a commandment I give unto you that ye shall declare whatsoever things ye declare in my name in solemnity of heart in the spirit of meekness in all things and I give unto you this promise that inasmuch as ye do this the holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say17 and it is expedient in me that you Sidney should be spokesman unto this people yea verily I will ordain you [p. ] unto this calling even to be a spokesman unto my servant Joseph and I will give unto him power to be mighty in testimony and I will give unto the<e> power to be mighty in expounding all schriptures that thou mayest be a spokesman unto him and he shall be a revelator unto thee that thou mayest know the certanty of all things pertaining to the things of my kingdom on the earth18 Therefore continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice for behold and lo I am with you even unto the end19
And now I give unto you a word concerning Zion Zion shall be redeemed altho she is chasened for a little season20 thy breatheren my servents Orson [Hyde] and John [Gould] are in my hands and inasmuch as they keep my commandments they shall be saved21 therefore let your hearts be comforted22 for all things shall work together for good23 to them that walk uprightly and to the sactifycation [sanctification] of the church for I will raise up unto myself a pure people that will serve me in righteousness and all that call on the name of the Lord and keep his commandments shall be saved even so Amen [p. ]