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Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 112

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“Doctrine and Covenants 112,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 112,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 112

Revelation, 23 July 183

Source Note

Revelation, Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH, 23 July 1837. Featured version copied [ca. 30 Aug. 1838] in JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, pp. 72–74; handwriting of James Mulholland; CHL. For more information, see the source note for JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

On 23 July 1837, JS dictated the revelation featured here to Thomas B. Marsh, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It contained directions for Marsh personally as well as for the Twelve generally.

Apostles Marsh, David W. Patten, and William Smith traveled from Far West, Missouri, to Kirtland, Ohio, in the summer of 1837 to address quorum members’ dissent against JS and seek to unify the Twelve.1 To these ends, Marsh and Patten called for a council meeting of the entire Quorum of the Twelve on 24 July 1837.2 Marsh, Patten, and Smith arrived in Kirtland by 8 July, but they found that JS and the church presidency had sent two of the Twelve, Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde, to proselytize in England in mid-June.3 Marsh saw it as his responsibility to direct members of the Twelve to preach in foreign lands—he had corrected Parley P. Pratt for planning to undertake a mission to England in May—and he may have harbored some frustration that he was not consulted regarding the mission.4 The 23 July revelation assured Marsh that he was chosen to lead the Twelve and to spread the gospel “abroad among all nations” but made it clear that he should do so under the direction of the First Presidency.

The revelation also addressed dissent, which had intensified among some church members in mid-1837.5 It troubled Marsh that several of the Twelve had been involved in the discord. By early May, he and Patten had heard rumors in Far West that apostles John F. Boynton and Luke and Lyman Johnson were speaking out in opposition to JS and other leaders.6 Lyman Johnson, Orson Pratt, and Luke Johnson had preferred charges against JS and his father in late May.7 In June, Parley P. Pratt had preached against JS before leaving for Missouri.8 Reflecting in January 1838 on growing unrest, Vilate Murray Kimball wrote in a letter to her husband, Heber, that she felt the dissenters had valid reasons for their frustrations but that they had nonetheless pursued an improper course of action: “Now after all that I have said about this decenting party, there is some of them, that I love, and have great feeling, and pity for them; I know they have ben tryed to the very quick; and what greaves me the most of all is, that many things which they tell, I have no doubt but what are too true. Still I do not think they are justifyable in the course they have taken.”9

As they traveled to Kirtland, Marsh, Patten, and William Smith met Parley P. Pratt near Columbus, Ohio. Marsh convinced Pratt to return with them to Kirtland, and soon after they arrived, Marsh began working to reconcile the dissenting apostles. In an 8 July letter, Mary Fielding wrote that Marsh had told her he believed “the difficultys between the Presidency & the twelve will very shortly be settled.”10 Although several members of the Twelve were probably still disaffected from JS at the time of the 23 July revelation, other members of the quorum had begun to resolve their differences with him.11 In early June, when preparations were made for Heber C. Kimball to travel to England, Orson Hyde’s perspective changed; he acknowledged his faults and was set apart to accompany Kimball.12 In July, both Parley P. and Orson Pratt made public confessions before leaving Kirtland to preach in the eastern United States.13 After his return to Kirtland from Missouri, William Smith “made a confession for past sins and expressed a determination to pursue a different course.”14 Marsh appears to have been influential in bringing about at least Parley P. Pratt’s confession, and the 23 July revelation directed Marsh to continue his efforts to admonish the Twelve and instruct them to “rebel not against my servant Joseph.”

The original manuscript of the revelation, as written by Marsh, has not been found, but several copies are extant. The earliest extant version was copied by Vilate Kimball into a 6 September letter she sent to her husband, Heber. Vilate wrote that she had copied the revelation from “Elder Marshs book as he wrote it from Josephs mouth.” She also provided additional details regarding the revelation, which Marsh had discussed with her. According to Vilate, JS had told Marsh at the time of the revelation that “the do[o]r of proclamation could not be effectually opened” until Marsh went to England or sent someone he had ordained for that purpose, but JS had instructed him not to include this in his transcript of the 23 July revelation.15 Heber, who was now in England proselytizing, responded to Marsh’s claims by telling Vilate that JS had told him it was “all right to prepare the way for brother Marsh, as john was the fore Runner of Christ to prepare before him and to baptise,” and that despite what Marsh thought—that the missionaries would have little success without his direction—those preaching in England had already baptized many people in their short time there.16 Unfortunately, a page has been lost from Vilate’s 6 September letter and her copy of the revelation is incomplete.

The copy of the revelation featured here is another of the earliest complete copies. It was recorded in JS’s journal by James Mulholland between August and September 1838 in Missouri and is preceded by a notation that reads, “The above revelation was given in Kirtland, and was not here in time to insert in its proper sequence.”17 Another early copy is held by the Community of Christ Library-Archives and was written by an unidentified scribe between 1837 and 1838. Although it may be an earlier text than the copy in JS’s 1838 journal, this version has no verifiable provenance.18 A third copy, written by Frederick G. Williams, has textual indicators that suggest it too was one of the earlier versions and was copied by 1838.19 Significant differences between the early versions are noted below.

Later, in connection with their mission to Britain, several church apostles also made personal copies of this revelation. Wilford Woodruff inscribed the revelation into his “Book of Revelations” before leaving Illinois in August 1839, Willard Richards copied it into his “Pocket Companion” between 13 January 1840 and 20 April 1841, Brigham Young wrote a copy in his journal between April and September 1839, and Heber C. Kimball copied it from Vilate Kimball’s 6 September 1837 letter into his journal between March 1841 and March 1842.20 Other extant copies include one by William W. Phelps, who wrote a copy on loose-leaf pages, likely after November 1842.21 Willard Richards copied the revelation into JS’s history between January and March 1844, and the revelation was included in the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants as section 104.22

Vilate Murray Kimball. 1866. A resident of Kirtland, Ohio, since 1833, Vilate Kimball participated in, observed, and recorded events pertinent to the church’s early history. In 1837 and early 1838, Vilate wrote a series of letters to her husband, Heber C. Kimball, describing the difficulties taking place within the church in Kirtland while he was traveling to and proselytizing in England. Her letters provide a window to better understand dissent against Joseph Smith. Though partially missing and therefore not featured in this volume, the earliest extant copy of Joseph Smith’s 23 July 1837 revelation is in Vilate Kimball’s handwriting. (Church History Library, Salt Lake City. Photograph by studio of Savage and Ottinger.)

A Revelation given Kirtland July 23rd. 1837.

The word of the Lord unto Thomas, B. Marsh concerning the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.23

[1]Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Thomas, I have heard thy prayers and thine alms have come up as a memorial before me24 in behalf of those thy brethren who were chosen to bear testimony of my name and to send it abroad among all nations, kindreds, tongues and people and ordained through the instrumentality of my servants.25

[2]Verily I say unto you there have been some few things in thine heart and with thee, with which I the Lord was not well pleased; [3]nevertheless inasmuch as thou hast abased thyself thou shalt be exalted:26 therefore all thy sins are forgiven thee. [4]Let thy heart be of good cheer27 before my face, and thou shalt bear record of my name, not only unto the Gentiles, but also unto the Jews; and thou shalt send forth my word unto the ends of the earth.

[5]Contend thou therefore morning by morning, and day after day let thy warning voice go forth;28 and when the night cometh let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber because of thy speech. [6]Let thy habitation be known in Zion, and remove not thy house, for I the Lord have a great work for you <thee> to do, in publishing my name among the children of men, [7]therefore gird up your loins for the work. Let your feet be shod29 also for thou art chosen, and thy path lyeth among the mountains and among many nations, [8]and by thy word many high ones shall be brought low; and by thy word many low ones shall be exalted,30 [9]thy voice shall be a rebuke31 unto the transgressor, and at thy rebuke let the tongue of the slanderer cease its perverseness. [10]Be thou humble and the Lord thy God shall lead thee32 by the hand and give thee an answer to thy prayers, [11]I know thy heart and have heard thy prayers concerning thy brethren. Be not partial towards them in love above many others, but let your love33 be for them as for yourself, and let your love abound unto all men and unto all who love my name. [12]And pray for your brethren of the twelve. Admonish34 them sharply for my name’s sake, and let them be admonished35 for all their sins, and be ye faithful before me unto my name; [13]and after their temptations and much tribulation36 behold I the Lord will feel after them, and if they harden not their hearts and stiffen not their necks against me they shall be converted and I will heal them.37

[14]Now I say unto you, and what I say [p. 72] unto you, I say unto all the twelve. Arise and gird up your loins, take up your cross,38 follow me, and feed my sheep.39 [15]Exalt not yourselves; rebel not against my servant Joseph for Verily I say unto you I am with him and my hand shall be over him; and the keys40 which I have given him, and also to youward shall not be taken from him untill I come.

[16]Verily I say unto you my servant Thomas, thou art the man whom I have chosen to hold the keys of my kingdom (as pertaining to the twelve) abroad among all nations, [17]that thou mayest be thy my servant to unlock the door of the kingdom in all places where my servant Joseph, and my servant Sidney [Rigdon], and my servant Hyrum [Smith], cannot come, [18]for on them have I laid the burden of all the Churches for a little season: [19]wherefore whithersoever they shall send you, go ye, and I will be with you and in whatsoever place ye shall proclaim my name an effectual door shall be opened unto you41 that they may receive my word. [20]Whosoever receiveth my word receiveth me, and whosoever receiveth me receiveth those (the first presidency) whom I have sent, whom I have made counsellors for my name’s sake unto you. [21]And again I say unto you, that whosoever ye shall send in my name, by the voice of your brethren the twelve, duly recommended and authorized by you, shall have power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation whithersoever ye shall send them, [22]inasmuch as they shall42 humble themselves before me and abide in my word, and hearken to the voice of my spirit.

[23]Verily verily! I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth and gross darkness the people minds of the people,43 and all flesh has become corrupt before my face!44 [24]Behold vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth. A day of wrath! A day of burning! A day of desolation! Of weeping! Of mourning and of lamentation! And as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth saith the Lord. [25]And upon my house shall it begin and from my house shall it go forth saith the Lord. [26]First among45 those among you saith the Lord; who have professed to know my name and have not known me46 and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house saith the Lord47

[27]Therefore see to it that you trouble not yourselves concerning the affairs of my Church in this place saith the Lord, [28]but purify your hearts before me, and then go ye into48 all the world and preach my gospel unto every creature who have not49 received it [29]and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not, and is not baptized [p. 73] shall be damned.50 [30]For unto you (the twelve) and those (the first presidency) who are appointed with you to be your counsellors and your leaders,51 is the power52 of this priesthood given for the last days and for the last time, in the which is the dispensation of the fulness of times:53 [31]which power you hold in connection with all those who have received a dispensation at any time from the beginning of the creation, [32]for verily I say unto you the keys of the dispensation which ye have received have came down from the fathers;54 and last of all being sent down from heaven unto you. [33]Verily I say unto you, Behold how great is your calling.

Cleanse your hearts and your garments, lest the blood of this generation55 be required at your hands. [34]Be faithful untill I come for I come quickly and my reward is with me to recompense every man according as his work shall be!56 I am Alpha and Omega. Amen.