Doctrine and Covenants Study
Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 123

Hide Footnotes


“Doctrine and Covenants 123,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 123,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 123

[This section contains passages from a longer letter. Portions of the text not found in Doctrine and Covenants 123 are grayed out.]

Letter to Edward Partridge and the Church, circa 22 March 1839

Source Note

JS, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McRae, Letter, [Liberty, Clay Co., MO], to Edward Partridge and the church, Quincy, Adams Co., IL, [ca. 22 Mar. 1839]; handwriting of Alexander McRae, with insertion by JS; signatures of JS, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McRae; nine pages; Revelations Collection, CHL. Includes address and dockets, with a redaction in graphite. For more information, see the source note on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

Doctrine and Covenants 122 and 123 comprise excerpts from JS’s circa 22 March 1839 letter, which is also excerpted in Doctrine and Covenants 121. See the introduction in Doctrine and Covenants 121.

Continued to the church of Latter-day-saints.

We continue to offer further reflections to Bishop [Edward] Partridge and to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints whom we love with a fervent love and do always bear them in mind in all our prayers to the throne of God. It still seems to bear heavy heavily in our minds that the church would do will well to secure to themselves the contract of the Land which is proposed to them by Mr. Isaac Galland and to cultivate the friendly feelings of that gentleman in as much shall as he shall prove himself to be a man of honor humanity and a friend to humanity. We really think that his letter breaths that kind of spirit if we can judge correctly.1 And Isaac Van Allen Esqr. the attorney Genl. of Iawa Territory that peradventure such men may be wrought upon by the providence of God to do good unto his people.2 Governer [Robert] Lucas also. We suggest the ideah of praying fervantly for all men who manifest any degree of sympathy for the suffering children of God. We think that peradventure the united States survayor of the Iowa Territory may be of grate benefeit to the church3 if it be the will of God to this end4 if ritiousness shall should be manifested as the girdle of our loins.5 It seems to be deeply impresed upon our minds that the saints ought to lay hold of evry door shall that shall seem to be opened for unto them6 to obtain foot hold on the Earth and be a make making all the preparation<s> that is within the power of posibles for the terible storms that are now gethering in the heavens with darkness and gloominess and thick darkness as spoken of by the prophets7 which cannot be now of a long time lingering for there seems to be a whispering that the angels of heaven8 who have been intrusted with the council counsel of these matters for the last days have taken council counsel together: and among the rest of the general affairs that have to be transacted in their honorable council counsel they have taken cognisance of the testimony of those who were murdered at Hawns Mills and also those who were martered with D[avid] W. Patten. and else where and9 have passed some [p. 1] decisions peradventure in favour of the saints and10 those who were called to suffer without cause these decisions will be made known in there time and they will take into concideration all those things that offend. We have a fervant desire that in your general conferences that evry thing should be discused with a grate deal of care and propriety lest you grieve the Holy Spirit11 which shall be poured out at all times upon your heads12 when you are exercised with those principals of ritiousness that are agreeable to the mind of God and are properly affected one toward an other and are carefull by all means to remember those <who> are in bondage and in heaviness and in deep affliction for your sakes and if there are any among you who aspire after their own aggrandisement and seek their own oppulance while thier brethren are groaning in poverty and are under sore trials and temptations they can not be benefeited by the intersesion of the Holy Spirit <which> maketh intersesion for us daily day and knight with groning that cannot be uttered.13 We ought at all times to be verry carefull that such high mindedness never have place in our hearts but condesend to men of low estate and with all long suffering bear the infermities of the weak. Behold there are ma[n]y called but few are chosen.14 And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world and aspire to the honors of men that they do not learn this one lesson that the rights of priesthood are inseperably connected with the powers of heaven and that the powers of heaven connot be controled nor handled only upon the principals of rightiousness. That they may be confered upon us it is true but when we undertake to cover our sins15 or to gratify our pride or vain ambition or to exercise controle or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men in any degree of unritiousness behold the heavens withdraw themselves the spirit of the Lord is grieved [p. 2] and when it has withdrawn Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man behold ere he is aware he is left unto himself to kicken against the pricks to persecute the saints and to fight against God.16 We have learned by sad experiance that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men as soon as they get a little authority as they suppose they will imediately begin to [e]xercise17 unritious dominion. hence ma[n]y18 [are]19 called but few are ch[osen.]20 [No power or in]f[luence]21 can or ought to be maintained by <[vi]rt[ue]>22 of the Priesthood only by persuasion by long suffering by gentleness and meekness and by love unfaigned23 by kindness by pure knowledge which shall greatly enlarge the soul24 without hypocrisy and without guile reproving be-times with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost and then showing forth afterwords an increas of love toward him whom thou hast reproved lest he esteem the[e] to be his enimy that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death thy bowells also being full of charity towards all men and to the household of faith25 and virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presants of God, and the doctrins of the Priesthood shall destill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion and thy septer an unchanging septer of ritiousness26 and truth and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion27 and without compulsory means it shall flow [un]to28 thee for ever and ever. The ends of the Earth29 shall [enq]uire30 after thy na[me]31 and fools shall have thee in deri[s]ion32 and hell shall rage against thee while the pure in heart33 and the wise and the noble and the virtious shall seek council counsel and authority and blessings constantly from under thy hand and thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors34 and although their influenance shall cast the[e] into trouble and into bars and walls thou shalt be had in honor and but for a small moment and thy voice shall be more terable in the midst of thine enemies than the fierce Lion because of thy ritiousness and [p. 3] thy God shall stand by the[e] for ever and ever. If thou art called to pass through tribulation. If thou art in perals among fals brethren. If thou art in perals amongst robbers. If thou art in perals by land or by sea.35 If thou art accused with all maner of fals accusations. If thine enimies fall upon the[e]. If they tear the[e] from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and Sisters.36 And if with a drawn sword thine enimies tear the[e] from the bosome of thy Wife and of thine offsprings and thine El[d]er son37 although but six years of age shall cling to thy garments and shall say my Father my Father why cant you stay with us Oh my Father what are the men going to do with you. And if then he shall be thrust from the[e] by the sword38 and thou be draged to prison and thine enimies prowl around the[e] like wolves for blood of the Lamb and if thou shouldest be cast into the pit39 or into the hands of murderers and the sentantce of death pased upon thee.40 If thou be cast into the deep. If the billowing surge conspire against thee.41 If fierce wind become thine enimy. If the heavens gether blackness and all the elements combine to hedge up the way and above all if the verry jaws of hell shall gap open her mouth wide after <thee> know thou my son that all these things shall give thee experiance and shall be for thy good.42 The son of man hath desended below them all art thou greater than he? Therefore hold on thy way and the priesthood shall remain with thee for their bounds are set they cannot pass. Thee Thy days are known and thy years shall not be numbered less. therefore fear not what man can do43 for God shall be with you44 for ever and ever. Now brethren I would suggest for the concidereration of the confererence of its being carefully and wisely understood by the <counsel> or conferences that our brethren scattered abroad45 who understand the spirit of the gethering that [p. 4] they fall into the places of refuge and saf[e]ty that God shall open unto them betwean Kirtland and Far West. Those from the East and from the West and from far country countries let them fall in some where betwean those two boundries in the most safe and quiet places they can find and let this be the presant understanding untill God shall open a more effectual door for us for further conciderations.46 And again we further suggest for the concideration of the counsel that there be no organizations of large bodies upon common stock principals in property47 or of large companies of firms48 untill the Lord shall signify it in a proper manner as it opens such a dreafull [dreadful] field for the averishous and the indolent and corrupt hearted to pray upon the inocent and virtious and honist49 We have reason to believe that many things were introduced among the saints before God had signified the times and not withstanding the principles and plans may have <been> good yet aspiring men or in other word men <who> had not the substance of Godliness50 about them perhaps undertook to handle edg tools children you know are fond of tools while they are not yet able to use them. Time and experiance however is the only safe remidy against such evils there are many teachers but perhaps not many Fathers.51 There are times comming when God will signify many things which are expediant for the well being of the saints but the times have not yet come but will come as fast as there can be found place and reseptions for them. [1]And again we would suggest for your concideration the propriety of all the saints gethering up the <a> knowledge of <all> the facts and suffering and abuses put upon them by the people of this state [2]and also of all the property and amount of damages which they have sustained both of character and personal <Injuries as will as real property> property [3]and also the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions as far as they can get hold of them and find them out. [4]and perhaps a committe can be appointed to find out these [p. 5] things and to take statements and affidafets and also to gether up the libilous publications that are afloat [5]and all that are in the magazines and in the Insiclopedias [encyclopedias] and all the libillious history histories that are published and that <are> writing and by whom and present the whole concatination of diabolical rascality and nefarious and murderous impositions that have been practised upon this people [6]that we may not only publish to all the world but present them to the heads of the government in all there dark and hellish52 hugh [hue?] as the last effort which is injoined on us by our heavenly. Father before we can fully and completely claim that promise which shall call him forth from his hiding place and also the whole nation may be left without excuse53 before he can send forth the power of his mighty arm.54 [7]It is an imperious duty that we owe to God to angels with whom we shall be brought to stand and also to ourselves to our wives and our children who have been made to bow down with grief sorrow and care under the most damning hand of murder tyranny and oppression supported and urged on and upheld by the influance of that spirit which hath so strongly rivited the creeds of the fathers55 who have inherited lies56 upon the harts of the children57 and filled the world with confusion and has been growing stronger and stronger and is now the verry mein main spring of all corruption and the whole Earth grones under the wait of its iniquity.58 [8]it is an iron yoke59 it is a strong band60 they are the verry hand cuffs and chains and shackles and fetters of hell [9]Therefore it is an imperious duty that we owe not only to our own wives and children but to the widdows and fatherless whose husbands and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand [10]which dark and blackning deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder and to stand aghast and pale and the hands of the verry devil tremble and palsy [11]and also it is an imper[p. 6]ious duty that we owe to all the rising generation and to all the pure in heart [12]which there <are> many yet on the Earth among all sects parties and de[no]minations who are blinded by the suttle craftiness of men whereby they ly in wait to decieve61 and only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it [13]therefore that we should waist and ware out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness62 wherein we know them and they are truly manifest from heaven. [14]These should then be attended to with greate earnestness [15]let no man counts them as small things for there is much which lieth in futurity pertaining to the saint which depends upon these things [16]you know brethren that a verry large ship is benefeited verry much by a verry small helm in the time of a storm by being kept work ways with the wind and the waves [17]Therefore dearly beloved beloved brethren let us cheerfully do all things <that> lieth in our power and then may we stand still with the utmost asurance to see the salvation of God63 and for his arm to be revealed.64 And again I would further suggest the impropriety of the organization of bands or companies by covenant or oaths by penalties <or secrecy secrecies> but let the time past of our experiance and sufferings by the wickedness of Doctor [Sampson] Avard suffise65 and let our covenant be that of the everlasting covenant as is contained in the Holy writ66 and the things that God hath revealed unto us. Pure friendship always becomes weakened the verry moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy. Your humble servant or servants intend from henceforth to disapprobate every thing that is not in accordance with the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ67 and is not of a bold and frank and an upright nature they will not hold their peace as in times past when they see iniquity begining to rear its head for fear of traitors or the concequences that shall flow <follow>68 by reproving those who creap in unawares that they may get something to distroy the flock. We believe that the experiance of the saints in times past has been sufficient that they will from [p. 7] henceforth be always ready to obey the truth without having mens persons in admiration because of advantage it is expediant that we should be aware of such things. And we should ought always to be aware of those prejudices which sometimes so strangly presented themselves and are so congenial to human nature against our nieghbors friends and brethren of the world who choose to differ with us in opinion and in matters of faith. Our religeon is betwean us and our God. Their religeon is betwean them and their God. There is a ty69 from God that should be exercised towards those of our faith who walk uprightly which is peculiar to itself but it is without prejudice but gives scope to the mind which inables us to conduct ourselves with grater liberality to-wards all others that are not of our faith70 than what they exercise towards one another these principals approximate nearer to the mind of God because it is like God or God like. There is a principal also which we are bound to be exercised with that is in common with all men such as governments and laws and regulations in the civil conserns of life This principal guarentees to all parties sects and denominations and classes of religeon equal coherant and indefeasible rights they are things that pertain to this life therefore all are alike interested they make our responcibilities one towards another in matters of corruptible things while the former principals do not distroy the latter but bind us stronger and make our responcibilities not only one to another but unto God71 also hence we say that the constitution of the unitid States is a glorious standard it is founded in the wisdom of God.72 it is a heavenly banner it is to all those who are privilaged with the sweats of its liberty like the cooling shades and refreshing watters of a greate rock in a thirsty and a weary land73 it is like a greate [p. 8] tree under whose branches men from evry clime can be shielded from the burning rays of an inclemant sun. We bretheren are deprived of the protection of this glorious principal by the cruelty of the cruel by those who only look for the time being for pasterage like the beasts of the field only to fill themselves and forget that the mormons as well as the presbitarians and those of evry other class and description have equal rights to partake of the fruite of the greate tree of our national liberty74 but notwithstanding we see what we see and we feel what we feel and know what we know. Yet that fruite is no less presious and delisious to our taist we cannot be weaned from the milk neither can we be drawn from the breast neither will we deny our religeon because of the hand of oppresion but we will hold on untill death we say say that God is true that the constitution of the united States is true that the bible is true that the book of mormon is true <that> the book <of> covenants75 are true that Christ is true that the ministering angels sent forth from God are true and that we know that we have an house not made with hands eternal in the heavens76 whose building builder and maker is God77 a consolation which our oppressors cannot feel when fortune or fate shall lay its iron hand on them as it has on us. Now we ask what is man?78 Remember brethren that time <and> chance hapeneth to all men.79 We shall continue our reflections in our next.80 We subscribe ourselves your sinsear [sincere] friends and brethe[r]en81 in the bonds of the everlasting gospel82 prisoners of Jesus Christ83 for the sake of the gospel84 and the saints. We pronounce the blessing of heaven85 upon the heads of the saints who seek to serve God with an undevided hearts86 in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

87Joseph Smith Jr

Hyrum Smith

Lyman Wight

Caleb Baldwin

Alexander. Mc.Rae. [p. 9]


Mrs. Emma Smith

Quincy Ill. [p. [10]]