“Doctrine and Covenants 104,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 104,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH, 23 Apr. 1834. Featured version copied [between 23 Apr. and 18 Aug. 1834] in Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt, Notebook of Revelations, pp. –; handwriting of Orson Pratt; Revelations Collection, CHL. For more information, see the source note for Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt, Notebook of Revelations, on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
This 23 April 1834 revelation contains instructions for the reorganization of the United Firm, which was formed in April 1832 to manage the church’s mercantile and publishing endeavors and had served as an important administrative structure since that time.1 The firm consisted of three components. The first was N. K. Whitney & Co., a company originally formed in 1826 by Newel K. Whitney and Sidney Gilbert in Kirtland, Ohio; it functioned as the firm’s mercantile branch in Kirtland. The second was Gilbert, Whitney & Co., a company formed by Gilbert and Whitney after Gilbert moved to Missouri in early 1832; it served as the firm’s mercantile branch in Missouri and operated Gilbert’s store in Independence. The third component was the Literary Firm, an organization of six men who managed church publications.2 The Literary Firm supervised W. W. Phelps & Co., the organization responsible for the church’s printing operations in Missouri, and F. G. Williams & Co., the company in charge of the church’s printing efforts in Kirtland.3 Members of the United Firm—JS, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps, Martin Harris, Edward Partridge, Newel K. Whitney, Sidney Gilbert, Frederick G. Williams, and John Johnson4—consecrated property to the church, but these properties were still held in the names of the individual members. Profits from the different enterprises were to fund their individual endeavors and provide income to the firm’s members.5
By 1834, the firm faced several significant issues. Because of the violence that drove church members from Jackson County, Missouri, in summer and fall 1833, William W. Phelps’s printing office and Gilbert’s store were no longer in operation.6 Yet the firm was still responsible for debts incurred to supply these establishments.7 In Ohio, firm members became increasingly indebted to N. K. Whitney & Co., which was in turn indebted to New York companies for store goods.8 Besides these financial difficulties, some of the firm’s members, especially Phelps and Gilbert in Missouri, were accused of manifesting a covetous spirit toward the firm’s property for which they were responsible. Church leaders in Kirtland chastised Gilbert for refusing to provide goods to some of the “poor brethren that are pure in heart” in Jackson County, warning that this “uneasy covetous disposition” would result in “poverty shame, and disgrace” if it were not corrected.9 JS also reprimanded Phelps for referring to “my press” and “my types” when talking about the Missouri printing operation. “Where, our brethren ask, did you get them, & how came they to be ‘yours?’” JS inquired, adding, “You know, that it is, We, not I, and all things are the Lord’s, and he opened the hearts of his church to furnish these things, or we should not have been privileged with using them.”10 According to the 23 April 1834 revelation featured here, such covetous attitudes effectively broke the covenant and bond that members were required to take upon joining the firm.11
In the midst of these concerns, JS was making plans in April 1834 to lead an expedition to Missouri to help the Saints who had been driven from Jackson County reclaim their lands. However, JS believed that without financial help, he would be unable to travel to Missouri.12 This concern may have been connected to the indebtedness of the United Firm since it appears that all firm members shared its debts equally.13 These financial issues troubled JS as early as January 1834, when he and other firm members petitioned the Lord to provide the “means sufficient to discharge every debt that the Firm owes.”14 In March, he instructed several church members in New York to try to raise two thousand dollars “for the relief of the brethren in Kirtland,” but by 7 April, the necessary funds were still lacking.15 JS may have been concerned that the firm’s indebtedness needed to be settled before he could leave Ohio.
Facing such problems, members of the Kirtland branch of the United Firm met on 10 April 1834 and decided “that the firm should be desolvd and each one” receive a stewardship, or property, to manage.16 This 23 April revelation provided firm members in Kirtland with these stewardships and declared that all things were God’s and that the members of the firm needed to manage their stewardships wisely. The property granted in the stewardships came from the holdings of Newel K. Whitney, Frederick G. Williams, and John Johnson; much of it had been their own personal property or had been purchased with funds from the sale of their personal property. Despite the earlier decision to dissolve the firm, the revelation directed that it instead be reorganized and that the Missouri and Ohio branches be separated. The revelation called for the establishment of two treasuries in Ohio. One treasury was to house “sacred things” that were to be published and the “avails,” or profits, from the sale of those publications. Members of the firm were to deposit money gained from the management of their individual stewardships into a second treasury and then draw on these funds to carry out their stewardships. In addition, the revelation authorized members of the firm “this once” to use their stewardships as collateral for obtaining loans to pay their existing creditors.
Five days after this revelation, another revelation provided more instructions for “the division and settlement of the United Firm” and declared the Kirtland branch of the firm “free from the Firm of Zion.”17 However, there is no evidence that firm members followed the instructions to establish treasuries and mortgage their stewardships. Instead, it appears that after an initial period in which members of the firm executed deeds for the stewardships, no other action was taken. It may be that the expedition to Missouri—which resulted in JS’s absence from Kirtland from early May to late July 183418—distracted church leaders from implementing the instructions immediately. Alternatively, leaders may have decided to transfer much of the responsibility for the church’s temporal endeavors to other administrative bodies, such as the Kirtland high council.19 Whatever the case, the United Firm effectively ceased to exist soon after this revelation was dictated.
The revelation may have been dictated at a council held on 23 April, which was attended by JS, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, Newel K. Whitney, John Johnson, and Oliver Cowdery, all members of the United Firm in Kirtland.20 The original inscription of the revelation has not been located. Orson Pratt copied the featured version of the revelation from the original into a notebook of revelations that Orson Hyde was keeping in Kirtland.21 Probably after Pratt had made his copy, Hyde copied the revelation into Revelation Book 2 on 18 August 1834 and included the subtitle “appointing to each member of the united firm their Stewardship.”22 The revelation was later published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, replacing the names of the members of the United Firm with pseudonyms and calling the firm the “United Order.”23
April 23, 1834
Verily, I say unto you my friends, I give unto you counsel & a commandment concerning all the properties which belong to the Firm, which I commanded to be organized & established to be
a a United Firm, & an everlasting Firm, for the benifit of my church, & for the salvation of men until I come, with promise immutible & unchangeable, that inasmuch as those whom I commanded were faithful, they should be blessed with multiplicity of blessings; but inasmuch as they were not faithful, they were nigh unto cursing. Therefore [p. ] inasmuch as some of my servants have not kept the commandment but have broken the covenant, by coveteousness & with feigned words, I have cursed them with a verry sore & grievous curse; for I the Lord have decreed in my heart, that inasmuch as any <man> belonging to the Firm, shall be found a transgressor, or in other words, shall break brake the covenant with which ye are bound, he shall be cursed in his life & shall be trodden down by whom I will;24 for I the Lord am not to be mocked in these things; & all this that the inocent among you may not be condemned with the unjust, & that the guilty among you may not escape because I the [p. ] Lord have promised unto you a crown of glory at my right hand.25 Therefore, inasmuch as ye are found transgressors, ye cannot escape my wrath in your lives; & inasmuch as ye are cut off by transgression ye cannot escape the buffetings of Satan unto the day of Redemption.26 And I now give unto you power from this verry hour, that if any man among you, of the Firm, is found a transgressor, & repenteth not of the evil, that ye shall deliver him over unto the buffetings of Satan, & he shall have no more power to bring evil upon you; but as long as ye hold communion with transgressors, behold, they [p. ] bring evil upon you. It is wisdom in me, therefore, a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall organize yourselves, & appoint every man his stewardship, that every man may give an account unto me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him;27 for it is exped[i]ent, that I the Lord, should make every man accountable, as stewards over earthly Blessings, which I have made & prepared for my creatures, I the Lord stretched out the heavens, & builded the earth as a verry handy work, & all things therein are mine, & it is my business to provide for my saints, for all things are mine; but it must needs be done in mine [p. ] own way: & behold, this is the way that I the Lord hath decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted in that the rich are made low; for the earth is full, & there is enough & to spare; yea, I have prepared all things, & have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.28 Therefore if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, & impart not his portion according to the law of my gospel unto the poor & the needy,29 he shall with Dives es30 lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment. And now verily, I say unto you concerning the properties of the Firm, Let my servant [p. ] Sidney [Rigdon] have appointed unto him the place where he now resides,31 & the lot of the Tanery for his stewardship for his support while he is labouring in my vinyard,32 even as I will, when I shall command him; & let all things be done according to counsel of the Firm, & united consent, or voice of the Firm which dwells in the land of Kirtland. And this stewardship & blessing, I the Lord confer upon my servant Sidney for a blessing upon him, & upon his seed after him, & I will multiply blessings upon him & upon his seed after him inasmuch as he shall be humble [p. ] before me. And again let my servant Martin [Harris] have appointed unto him for his stewardship the lot of land which my servant John [Johnson] obtained in exchange for his farm, for him & his seed after him;33 & inasmuch as he is faithful I will multiply blessings upon him & his seed after him. And let my servant Martin devote his moneys for the printing of my word, according as my servant Joseph shall direct.34
And again let my servant Frederick [G. Williams] have the place upon which he now dwells;35 & let my servant Oliver [Cowdery] have the lot which is set off joining the house which [p. ] is to be for the printing office which is lot number one;36 & also the lot upon which his father resides;37 & let my servants Frederick & Oliver have the printing office & all things that pertain unto it; & this shall be their stewardship which shall be appointed unto them;38 & inasmuch as they are faithful, behold, I will bless them, & multiply blessings upon them, & this is the beginning of the stewardship which I have appointed unto them, for them & their seed after them; & inasmuch as they are faithful I will multiply blessings upon them & their seed after them, even a multiplicity of blessings. [p. ]
And again, let my servant John have the house in which he lives, & the farm, all, save the ground which has been reserved for the building of my houses, which pertains to that farm, & those lots which have been named for my servant Oliver;39 & inasmuch as he is faithful I will multiply blessings upon him. And it is my will that he should sell the lots that are laid off for the building up of the city of my saints, inasmuch as it shall be made known to him by the voice of the spirit & according to the counsel of the Firm, & by the voice of the Firm,40 & this is the beginning of the stewardship [p. ] which I have appointed unto him, for a blessing unto him & his seed after him;41 & inasmuch as he is faithful I will multiply a multiplicity of blessings upon him.
And again, let my servant Newel [K. Whitney] have appointed unto him the houses & lot where he now resides,42 & the lot & building on which the store stands,43 & the lot also which is on the corner south of the store, & also the lot on which the Ashery is situated.44 And all this I have appointed unto my servant Newel for his stewardship, for a blessing upon him & his seed after him, for the benefit of the mercantile establishment of my Firm, which [p. ] I have established for my Stake in the land of Kirtland;45 yea, verily, this is the stewardship which I have appointed unto my servant Newel, even this whole mercantile establishment, him & his agent,46 & his seed after him, & inasmuch as he is faithful in keeping the commandments which I have given unto him, I will multiply blessings upon him, & his seed after him, even a multiplicity of blessings.
And again let my servant Joseph have appointed unto him the lot which is laid off for the building of my houses,47 which is forty rods long and [p. ] twelve wide,48 & also the farm upon which his father now resides,49 & this is the beginning of the Stewardship which I have appointed unto him, for a blessing upon him & upon his father; for behold, I have reserved an inheritance for his father, for his support; therefore he shall be reckoned in the house of my servant Joseph: & I will multiply blessings upon the house of my servant Joseph inasmuch as he is faithful, even a multiplicity of blessings.
And now a commandment I give unto you concerning Zion, that you shall no longer be [p. ] bound as a United Firm, to your brethren of Zion, only on this wise: after you are organized, you shall be called, The United Firm of the Stake of Zion, the city of Kirtland, among yourselves. And your brethren, after they are organized, shall be called The United Firm of the City of Zion, & they shall be organized in their own names, & in their own name; & they shall do their business in their own name, & in their own names; & you shall do your business in your own name, & in your own names—50 And this I have commanded to [p. ] be done for your salvation, as also for their salvation, in consequence of their being driven out, and that which is to come. The covenant being broken through transgression, by coveteousness & feigned words, therefore, you are dissolved as a United Firm with your brethren, that you are not bound only up to this hour unto them, only on this wise, as I said, By loan, as shall be agreed by this Firm in counsel as your circumstances will admit, & the voice of the council direct.
And again, a commandment I give unto you concerning your Stewardship which I have appo[p. ]inted unto you, behold, all these properties are mine, or else, your faith is vain, & ye are found hypocrites, & the covenants which you have made unto me are broken, & if these properties are mine, then, ye are stewards, otherwise ye are no stewards. But, verily, I say unto you, I have appointed unto you to be Stewards over mine house, even stewards indeed, & for this purpose have I commanded you to organize yourselves, even to print my word, the fulness of my scriptures, the revelations which I have given unto you, [p. ] & which I shall hereafter <from> time to time give unto you,51 for the purpose of building up my church & kingdom on the earth, & to prepare my people for the time of my coming which is nigh at hand. Therefore a commandment I give unto you that ye shall take the books of Mormon, & also the copy-right, & also the copy-right which shall be secured of the articles & covenants, in which covenants, all my commandments, which it is my will should be printed,52 shall be printed, as it shall be made known unto you; & also the [p. ] copy-right to the new translation of the scriptures;53 & this I say that others may not take the blessings away from you which I have conferred upon you. And ye shall prepare for yourselves a place for a Treasury, & consecrate it unto my name, & ye shall appoint one among you to keep the treasury & he shall be ordained unto this blessing; & there shall be a seal upon the Treasury, & all these sacred things shall be delivered into the Treasury, & no man among you shall call it his own or any part of it; for it shall belong to you all with [p. ] one accord, & I give it unto you from this very hour; & now see to it, that ye go to & make use of the stewardship which I have appointed unto you, exclusive of these sacred things, for the purpose of printing these sacred things, according as I have said; & the avails of these sacred things shall be had in the Treasury, & a seal shall be upon it, & it shall not be used or taken out of the Treasury by any one, neither shall the seal be loosed which shall be placed upon it only by the voice of the Firm, or by commandment. And thus shall ye preserve [p. ] all the avails of these sacred things in the Treasury, for sacred & holy purposes, & this shall be called, The Sacred Treasury of the Lord, & a seal shall be kept upon it, that it may be holy & consecrated unto the Lord.54
And again, there shall be another Treasury prepared & a Treasurer appointed to keep the Treasury, & a seal shall be placed upon it, & all monies that you receive in your stewardships by improving upon the properties which I have appointed unto you, in houses, or in lands, [p. ] or in cattle, & in all things save it be the holy & sacred writings, which I have reserved unto myself for holy & sacred purposes, shall be cast into the Treasury as fast as you receive monies, by hundreds, or by fifties, or by twenties, or by tens, or by fives, or in other words, if any man among you, obtain five dollars, let him cast it into the Treasury, or if he obtain ten, or twenty, or fifty or a hundred, let him do likewise; & let not any man among you say that it is his own; for it shall not be called his, nor any part of it, & there [p. ] shall not any part of it be ussed, or taken out of the Treasury only by the voice & common consent of the Firm.
And this shall be the voice & common consent of the Firm. that any man among you, say unto the Treasurer, I have need of this to help me in my stewardship, if it be five dollars, or if it be ten dollars, or twenty, or fifty, or a hundred. The Treasurer shall give unto him the sum which he requires, to help him in his stewardship, until he be found a transgressor, & it is manifest before the counsel of the Firm, [p. ] plainly that he is an unfaithful & an unwise steward; but so long as he <is> in full fellowship & is faithful & wise in his stewardship, this shall be his token unto the Treasurer, that the Treasurer shall not withhold; but in case of transgression the Treasurer shall be subject unto the counsel & voice of the Firm, & in case the Treasurer is found an unfaithful & an unwise steward, he shall be subject to the counsel & voice of the Firm, & shall be removed out of his place & another shall be appointed in his stead.55 And again, verily I say unto you concerning [p. ] your debts, behold, it is my will that you should pay all your debts; & it is my will that you should humble yourselves before me, & obtain this blessing by your diligence, & humility & the prayer of faith; & inasmuch as you are diligent & humble, & exercise the prayer of faith, behold, I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt, until I shall send means unto you for your deliverance. Therefore, write speedily unto New York,56 & write according to that which shall be dictated by my Spirit, & I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt, that [p. ] it shall be taken away out of their minds to bring affliction upon you. And inasmuch as ye are humble & faithful & call on my name, behold, I will give you the victory; I give unto you a promise, that you shall be delivered this once, out of your bondage. Inasmuch as you obtain a chance to loan money by hundreds, or by thousands, even until you shall loan enough57 to deliver yourselves from bondage, it is your privilege, & pledge the properties which I have put into your hands this once by giving your names by common consent, or otherwise as it shall [p. ] seem good unto you, I give unto you the privilege this once, & behold, if you proceed to do the things which I have laid before you, according to my commandment, all these things are mine, & ye are my stewards, & the Master will not suffer his house to be broken up; even so, Amen.58
copied from the original by O[rson] Pratt [8 blank lines] [p. ]