“Doctrine and Covenants 115,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 115,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Far West, Caldwell Co., MO, 26 Apr. 1838. Featured version copied [ca. 26 Apr. 1838] in JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, pp. 32–34; handwriting of George W. Robinson; CHL. Includes use marks. For more information, see the source note for JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
JS dictated a revelation on 26 April 1838 stating that the city of Far West, Missouri, “should be built up” by the gathering of the Saints and that they should build a temple there. Since the creation of Caldwell County in 1836, Latter-day Saints in Missouri and elsewhere had been gathering in Far West, the county’s principal Latter-day Saint community, and in surrounding settlements. In early 1837, about a year before JS’s arrival, Zion presidency members William W. Phelps and John Whitmer drew a plan for a temple and appointed a committee to superintend construction of the temple in Far West’s central lot. In April 1837, the high council questioned the Zion presidency’s authority to appoint such a committee and even to select the site for the city.1 This problem was somewhat resolved, and several hundred Saints assembled to begin excavating for the temple foundation in July.2 When JS and Sidney Rigdon visited Far West in November, they participated in a council meeting wherein the members resolved to expand the size of the existing city plat. This resolution suggests that JS and the other council members approved the location of the city and its central lot. Moreover, the council members apparently authorized the plan to build a temple and approved the location, but it was decided to suspend any construction work “till the Lord shall reveal it to be his will to be commenced.”3
After JS moved to Caldwell County in March 1838 and helped root dissension out of the church, he and the high council turned their attention to developing Far West as the church’s gathering center. On 21 April, they passed several resolutions to build the community, including improving the schoolhouse used for community meetings, building one or more storehouses, and reestablishing the church press.4 By this time, thousands of Saints were living in Far West and its vicinity and hundreds more were expected from Kirtland within the next few months.5 The gathering of the Saints, especially with heavy migration from Ohio, would eventually require settlement beyond the bounds of Far West, and church leaders had already begun efforts to locate other sites for settlement.
JS’s revelation of 26 April 1838 spoke to these recent developments. The revelation was addressed to JS, other church leaders, and all other members of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”—which the revelation specified was the new official name of the church. The revelation enjoined the church’s leaders and members to continue gathering to Far West, to sanctify the city through consecrated living, and to build the temple. The Saints were instructed to begin work on the temple on 4 July and to build it according to a pattern that would be revealed to the First Presidency. When church members resided in Clay County earlier in the 1830s, no revelations had instructed the Saints to establish a city of gathering or to construct a temple there. The plan for the Saints in Missouri up until this time had been one of temporary settlement while waiting for a return to the “centre place” of Zion in Jackson County. The 26 April 1838 revelation marked a change in Latter-day Saint plans in Missouri. Though the Latter-day Saints were not in Zion’s “centre place” at Independence and were not building “the City of Zion,” they were commanded to build up a city of Zion with a temple.6 The revelation concluded with a commandment to the Saints to build up Far West and to establish other communities “in the regions round about” as directed by their prophet.
The revelation was probably dictated orally and written down by a scribe, as was typical with JS’s revelations.7 George W. Robinson copied the revelation into JS’s “Scriptory Book,” apparently around the time JS dictated the revelation.8 The Latter-day Saints followed the direction of the revelation by laying the cornerstones of the temple on 4 July 1838, whereupon Rigdon gave a speech in which he vigorously asserted the rights of the Latter-day Saints to settle wherever they pleased.9
Revelation given in Far West, April 26<th>, 1838, Making known the will of God, concerning the building up of this place and of the Lord’s house &c.
Verrily thus Saith the Lord unto you my Servant Joseph Smith Jr. and also my Servant Sidney Rigdon, and also my Servant Hyrum Smith, and your counselors who are and who shall be hereafter appointed,10 and also unto my Servant Edward Partridge and his Councilors,11 and also unto my faithfull Servants, who are of the High Council of my Church in zion (for thus it shall be called) and unto all the Elders and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Scattered abroad [p. 32] in all the world,12 For thus shall my Church be called in the Last days even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,13 Verrily I say unto you all; arise and shine forth
forth14 that thy light may be a standard for the nations15 and that thy gathering to-gether upon the land of zion and upon her stakes16 may be for a defence and for a reffuge17 from the storm18 and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole Earth,19 Let the City Far West, be a holy and consecrated land unto me, and <it shall> be called <most> holy for the ground upon which thou standest is holy20 Therefore I command you to build an house unto me for the gathering together ing of my Saints that they may worship me,21 and let there be a begining of this work; and a foundation and a preparatory work, this following Summer; and let the begining be made on the 4th day of July next;22 and from that time forth let my people labour diligently to build an house, unto my name,23 and in one year from this day, let them recommence laying the foundation of my house; thus let them from that time forth laibour diligently untill it shall be finished, from the Corner Stone thereof unto the top thereof, untill there shall not any thing remain that is not finished.
Verrily I say unto you let not my servant Joseph neither my Servant Sidney, neither my Servant Hyrum, get in debt any more for the building of an house unto my name.24 But let my house be built unto my name according to the pattern which I will shew unto them,25 and if my people build it not according to the pattern which I Shall shew unto their presidency, I will not accept it at their hands, But if my people do build it according to the pattern which I shall shew unto their presidency, even my servant Joseph and his Councilors; then I will accept it at [p. 33] the hands of my people,26 And again; Verrily I say unto you it is my will, that the City Far West should be built up spedily,27 by the gathering of my Saints, and also that other places should be appointed for stakes in the regions round about as they shall be manifested unto my Servant Joseph from time to time.28 For behold I will be with him and I will Sanctify him before the people for unto him have I given the Keys of this Kingdom and ministry29 even so— Amen.