Volume 1 Chapter 8 | BYU Studies

Volume 1 Chapter 8


Chapter 8

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The Book of Mormon Published—the Church Organized.

Price for Publishing Book of Mormon.

Meantime, our translation drawing to a close, we went to Palmyra, Wayne county, New York, secured the copyright, and agreed with Mr. Egbert B. Grandin to print five thousand copies for the sum of three thousand dollars.

The Title Page.

I wish to mention here that the title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; 1 and that said title page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation. Therefore, in order to correct an error, which generally exists concerning it, I give below that part of the title-page of the English version of the Book of Mormon, which is a genuine and literal translation of the title-page of the original Book of Mormon as recorded on the plates:

The Book of Mormon.

An account written by the hand of Mormon, upon Plates, taken from the Plates of Nephi.

Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel, and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

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An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

The remainder of the title-page is, of course, modern.

A Commandment of God and not of man, to Martin Harris, given (Manchester, New York, March, 1830,) by Him who is Eternal. 2

1. I am Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord; yea, even I am he, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world.

2. I, having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am, even the Father, concerning me—having done this that I might subdue all things unto myself—

3. Retaining all power, even to the destroying of Satan and his works at the end of the world, and the last great day of judgment, which I shall pass upon the inhabitants thereof, judging every man according to his works and the deeds which he hath done.

4. And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.

5. Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand.

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6. Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.

7. Again, it is written eternal damnation, 8. Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.

9. I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.

10. For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name, wherefore—

11. Eternal punishment is God's punishment.

12. Endless punishment is God's punishment.

13. Wherefore, I command you to repent, and keep the commandments which you have received by the hand of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., in my name;

14. And it is by my almighty power that you have received them;

15. Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

16. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

17. But if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I;

18. Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

19. Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

20. Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit.

21. And I command you, that you preach naught but repentance and show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me.

22. For they cannot bear meat now, but milk they must receive; wherefore, they must not know these things lest they perish.

23. Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.

24. I am Jesus Christ; I came by the will of the Father, and I do his will,

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25. And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife; nor seek thy neighbor's life.

26. And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon, which contains the truth and the word of God—

27. Which is my word to the Gentile, that soon it may go to the Jew, of whom the Lamanites are a remnant, that they may believe the gospel, and look not for a Messiah to come who has already come.

28. And again, I command thee that thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private.

29. And thou shalt declare glad tidings, yea, publish it upon the mountains, and upon every high place, and among every people that thou shalt be permitted to see.

30. And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers.

31. And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.

32. Behold, this is a great and the last commandment which I shall give unto you concerning this matter; for this shall suffice for thy daily walk, even unto the end of thy life.

33. And misery thou shalt receive if thou wilt slight these counsels, yea, even the destruction of thyself and property.

34. Impart a portion of thy property, yea, even part of thy lands, and all save the support of thy family.

35. Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage.

36. Leave thy house and home, except when thou shalt desire to see thy family;

37. And speak freely to all; yea, preach, exhort, declare the truth, even with a loud voice, with a sound of rejoicing, crying—Hosanna, hosanna, blessed be the name of the Lord God!

38. Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof.

39. Behold, canst thou read this without rejoicing and lifting up thy heart for gladness?

40. Or canst thou run about longer as a blind guide?

41. Or canst thou be humble and meek, and conduct thyself wisely before me? yea, come unto me thy Savior. Amen.

Procedure in the Organization of the Church; Joseph Smith, Jun., Appointed a Prophet, Seer and Revelator to the Church.

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Whilst the Book of Mormon was in the hands of the printer, 3 we still continued to bear testimony and give information, as far as we had opportunity; and also made known to our brethren that we had received a commandment to organize the Church; and accordingly we met together for that purpose, at the house of Mr. Peter Whitmer, Sen., (being six in number,) 4 on Tuesday, the sixth day of April, A. D., one thousand eight hundred and thirty. Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our Heavenly Father, we proceeded, according to previous commandment, to call on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the Kingdom of God, and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a Church according to said commandment which we had received. To these several propositions they consented by a unanimous vote. I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery, and ordained him an Elder of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;" after which, he ordained me also to the office of an Elder of said Church. We then took bread, blessed it, and brake it with them; also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them. We then laid our hands on each individual member of the Church present, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree—some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord, and rejoiced exceedingly. Whilst yet together, I received the following commandment:

Revelation to Joseph Smith, Jun., given at Fayette, Seneca County, New York, April 6th, 1830. 5

1. Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shall be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,

2. Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith,

3. Which church was organized and established in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month, which is called April.

4. Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

5. For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

6. For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory.

7. For thus saith the Lord God, him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard.

8. Yea, his weeping for Zion I have seen, and I will cause that he shall mourn for her no longer; for his days of rejoicing are come unto the remission of his sins, and the manifestations of my blessings upon his works.

9. For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard with a mighty blessing, and they shall believe on his words, which are given him through me by the Comforter, which manifesteth that Jesus was crucified by sinful men for the sins of the world, yea, for the remission of sins unto the contrite heart.

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10. Wherefore it behooveth me that he should be ordained by you, Oliver Cowdery, mine apostle;

11. This being an ordinance unto you, that you are an elder under his hand, he being the first unto you, that you might be an elder unto this church of Christ, bearing my name—

12. And the first preacher of this church unto the church, and before the world, yea, before the Gentiles; yea, and thus saith the Lord God, lo, lo! to the Jews also. Amen.

The Church of Jesus Christ Begins its Career.

We now proceeded to call out and ordain some others of the brethren to different offices of the Priesthood, according as the Spirit manifested unto us: and after a happy time spent in witnessing and feeling for ourselves the powers and blessings of the Holy Ghost, through the grace of God bestowed upon us, we dismissed with the pleasing knowledge that we were now individually members of, and acknowledged of God, "The Church of Jesus Christ," organized in accordance with commandments and revelations given by Him to ourselves in these last days, as well as according to the order of the Church as recorded in the New Testament. Several persons who had attended the above meeting, became convinced of the truth and came forward shortly after, and were received into the Church; among the rest, my own father and mother were baptized, to my great joy and consolation; and about the same time, Martin Harris and Orrin Porter Rockwell.

Revelation to the Church of Christ which was established in these last days, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty. Given at Manchester, New York, April, 1830, in consequence of some desiring to unite with the Church without rebaptism, who had previously been baptized. 6

1. Behold, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.

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2. Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times it availeth him nothing, for you cannot enter in at the strait gate by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works.

3. For it is because of your dead works, that I have caused this last covenant and this church to be built up unto me, even as in days of old.

4. Wherefore, enter ye in at the gate, as I have commanded, and seek not to counsel your God. Amen.

Word of the Lord to Several Persons.

The following persons being anxious to know of the Lord what might be their respective duties relation to this word, I enquired of the Lord, and received for them the following:

Revelation to Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, Joseph Smith, Sen., and Joseph Knight, Sen. Given at Manchester, New York, April 1830. 7

1. Behold, I speak unto you, Oliver, a few words. Behold, thou art blessed, and art under no condemnation. But beware of pride, lest thou shouldst enter into temptation.

2. Make known thy calling unto the church, and also before the world, and thy heart shall be opened to preach the truth from henceforth and forever. Amen.

3. Behold, I speak unto you, Hyrum, a few words; for thou also art under no condemnation, and thy heart is opened, and thy tongue loosed; and thy calling is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church continually. Wherefore thy duty is unto the church forever, and this because of thy family. Amen.

4. Behold, I speak a few words unto you, Samuel; for thou also art under no condemnation, and thy calling is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church, and thou art not as yet called to preach before the world. Amen.

5. Behold, I speak a few words unto you, Joseph; for thou also art under no condemnation, and thy calling also is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church; and this is thy duty from henceforth and forever. Amen.

6. Behold, I manifest unto you, Joseph Knight, by these words, that you must take up your cross, in the which you must pray vocally before the world as well as in secret, and in your family, and among your friends, and in all places.

7. And, behold, it is your duty to unite with the true church, and give your language to exhortation continually, that you may receive the reward of the laborer. Amen.

Chapter 8 - Notes

1. That is, from right to left.

2. D&C 19. No words of the Prophet introduce this revelation in his History. Nothing is known of the circumstances which called it forth. And yet there are few revelations that have been given in the present dispensation of the Gospel more important than this one. The doctrine of the atonement of the Lord Jesus, as directly applying to the individual, and God's exposition of "Eternal Punishment," as here set forth, give it a place of first importance in the doctrinal development of the Church.

3. Nothing is said by the Prophet in his History of the difficulties that arose "whilst the Book of Mormon was in the hands of the printer;" nor of the care that was taken to prevent the manuscript falling into the hands of enemies of the work. It is proper, however, that these matters should be stated at this point. It appears that when the arrangements was completed with Mr. Grandin for printing the Book of Mormon, the Prophet went down to Harmony, in Pennsylvania. Before taking his departure, however, it was arranged:

First: that Oliver Cowdery transcribe the whole manuscript; hence it came about that there were two manuscript copies of the Book of Mormon, the original, which was taken in charge by the Prophet after the publication of the book, and the copy made by Oliver Cowdery for the printer's use, and which finally was given by him into the custody of David Whitmer, with whose family it remains to this day (1901).

Second: that the copy made by Oliver Cowdery from the original manuscript only should be taken to the printers, so that if that should be destroyed the original would remain in the hands of the Prophet and his associates from which it could be replaced; and even this copy was supplied the printer in small quantities at a time, usually enough only for a single day's work of the printer.

Third: that in going to and from the office whoever carried the manuscript—usually it was Oliver Cowdery—should always have a guard to attend him.

Fourth: that a guard should be kept constantly upon the watch, both night and day, about the house, to protect the manuscript from malicious persons, who might seek to destroy it. (The authorities for the above are: Lucy Smith's History of the Prophet Joseph, ch 31; the statements of Stephen S. Harding, who a number of times visited Grandin's establishment while the Book of Mormon was being printed; His statement is published in The Prophet of Palmyra, by Thomas Gregg, pg. 34-56—this is that same Stephen S. Harding who was governor of Utah Territory from July, 1862 to July, 1863; also the statement of J. H. Gilbert, the principal compositor on the Book of Mormon. The extreme care in allowing the printer to have but a small amount of copy at a time is subject of ridicule in nearly all anti-"Mormon" books that treat of this period. In addition to all this is the evidence of the manuscript in the hands of the Whitmer family, nearly every page of which is in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, and by being divided into "takes" clearly bears evidence of having passed through the printers hands. The evidence also in the existence of portions of the original manuscript, now in the possession of President Joseph F. Smith, which was taken from its depository in one of the corner stones of the Nauvoo House, where it was placed by the hands of Joseph the Prophet, with other relics, on the occasion of laying the corner stone of that building on the 2nd of October, 1841. Unfortunately a great part of the manuscript was destroyed by dampness, but enough is preserved to establish the fact that it is the original).

Notwithstanding all the precautions taken by the little group of brethren engaged in publishing the book, the Nephite record, mutilated by interlineations of human invention, omissions, and added vulgarisms intended to destroy the work, came nearly being given to the world before the Book of Mormon itself was published. This was the work of one Esquire Cole, ex-justice of the peace, who undertook to publish the Book of Mormon, in instalments, in a weekly periodical called Dogberry Paper on Winter Hill. He obtained the use of Grandin's press nights and on Sundays, and surely must have obtained the advance sheets of the printed forms of the Book of Mormon, which he was using, with the knowledge of Mr. Grandin; at least it is difficult to conceive how he could obtain and use them without his knowledge. Hyrum Smith, feeling uneasy concerning the security of that part of the Book of Mormon in the hands of the printer, induced Oliver Cowdery one Sunday to go with him to the printer's to see if all was well, and there they found Squire Cole at work on his Dogberry Paper, and publishing mutilated extracts from the Book of Mormon. He refused to desist from his unlawful course; but Joseph was sent for and came up during the week from Harmony, and by firmly asserting his rights under the copyright law and by threatening to prosecute those who infringed them, Cole was induced to abandon his intention of publishing the Book of Mormon in his paper.

This difficulty past, another arose. The people of Palmyra and vicinity held a mass meeting and passed a resolution pledging themselves not to purchase the Book of Mormon when published, and to use their influence to prevent others from purchasing it. This had the effect of causing Mr. Grandin to suspend printing until he could obtain renewed assurance of receiving the amount agreed upon for printing the edition of five thousand. Again the Prophet was sent for, and again he made the journey from Harmony to Palmyra, quieted the fears of Mr. Grandin by renewed assurance on the part of himself and Martin Harris that the amount agreed upon would be paid. The work proceeded, and at last issued from the press, notwithstanding all the difficulties it had encountered (see Lucy Smith's History of the Prophet Joseph, ch. 33).

4. The following statement is interesting as furnishing the names of these six:

Names of the six members of the Church as they were organized April 6, 1830—
Oliver Cowdery,
Joseph Smith, Jun.,
Hyrum Smith,
Peter Whitmer, Jun.,
Samuel H. Smith,
David Whitmer.

Some of these had been baptized previously; but were all baptized on the day of organization.

These names were given to Joseph Knight by Oliver Cowdery.
(signed) Joseph Knight.
G. S. L. City
Aug. 11th, 1862.
Witnesses
G. A. Smith,
Robt. L. Campbell,
Thos. Bullock,
John V. Long.
(Copy)

There has been some question as to the number that had been baptized previous to the organization of the Church on the 6th day of April, 1830. David Whitmer in his "Address to All Believers in Christ," a pamphlet of seventy-five pages, published in 1887, says that there were six Elders and about seventy members before April 6th, 1830. Others have estimated the number at thirty, thirty-five, and forty. These estimates, however, are beyond all question too large. In the minutes of the second conference of the Church, held at Fayette, New York, on the 26th of September, 1830, this statement is made: "Number of the several members uniting to this Church, since the last conference, thirty-five: making in whole now belonging to this Church, sixty-two." "The last conference," referred to was one held on the 9th of June, 1830. If there were but sixty-two members in September, 1830, and thirty-five of them were added since the conference of the Church held on the 9th of June of that year, then there were but twenty-seven in the Church on the said 9th of June. In the last week of May, 1830, Newel Knight was baptized—one; on the 18th of April, 1830, Oliver Cowdery baptized seven, (the names are given on p. 81), on the 11th of April, Oliver baptized six persons (their names are also given on p. 81); on the 6th of April, 1830, the same day that the Church was organized, there were four persons baptized, two of whom were the father and mother of the Prophet (see p. 79). This makes a total of eighteen baptized between the 9th of June conference and the 6th of April meeting; and as there were but twenty-seven in the Church on the 9th of June, the number that had been baptized up to the 6th of April, 1830, must have been but nine. The Far West Record, containing the minutes of the conferences of the 9th of June, and the 26th of September, was kept by the clerks of the High Council in Missouri, and the minutes of the two conferences above referred to, and which give the information here set forth, occupy pages one and two of that record. The accuracy of the minutes of the conference of the 26th of September, 1830, which fix the membership of the Church at that time at sixty-two, is confirmed by the following remark of the Prophet, to be found in his history in December of that same year, which remark immediately precedes extracts from the prophecy of Enoch in this volume (ch. 12): "To the joy of the little flock, which in all, from Colesville to Canandaigua, New York, numbered about seventy members, did the Lord reveal the following," etc. When it is remembered that the Prophet is here speaking of conditions existing in December, 1830, and the figures given are exclusive of the additions which had been made in Kirtland, Ohio, it strongly sustains the correctness of the minutes of the conference of September 26th, which record the membership of the Church at that time to be but sixty-two. The correctness of this number is also still further confirmed by a brief historical sketch of "The Rise and Progress of the Church of Christ," published in the Evening and Morning Star under date of April, 1833, where it is said: "In October 1830, the number of disciples had increased to between seventy and eighty." (p.169.)

5. D&C 21.

6. D&C 22.

7. D&C 23.