Volume 3 Chapter 3 | BYU Studies

Volume 3 Chapter 3

 

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Chapter 3

Readjustment And Settlement Of Affairs At Far West.

April 17.—I received the following:

Revelation Given at Far West. 1

1. Verily thus saith the Lord, it is wisdom in my servant David W. Patten, that he settle up all his business as soon as he possibly can, and make a disposition of his merchandise, that he may perform a mission unto me next spring, in company with others, even twelve, including himself, to testify of my name, and bear glad tidings unto all the world;

2. For verily thus saith the Lord, that inasmuch as there are those among you who deny my name, others shall be planted in their stead, and receive their bishopric. Amen.

I also received the following:

Revelation Given to Brigham Young at Far West.

Verily thus saith the Lord, let my servant Brigham Young go unto the place which he has bought, on Mill Creek, and there provide for his family until an effectual door is opened for the support of his family, until I shall command him to go hence, and not to leave his family until they are amply provided for. Amen.

April 26.—I received the following:

Revelation Given at Far West making known the will of God concerning the building up of that place, and of the Lord's House. 2

1. Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and also my servant Sidney Rigdon, and also my servant Hyrum Smith, and your counselors who are and shall be appointed hereafter;

2. And also unto you my servant Edward Partridge, and his counselors;

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3. And also unto my faithful 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 in all the world;

4. For thus shall my Church be called in the last days, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

5. Verily I say unto you all, Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations,

6. And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.

7. 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 holy;

8. Therefore I command you to build an house unto me, for the gathering together of my Saints, that they may worship me;

9. And let there be a beginning of this work, and a foundation, and a preparatory work, this following summer;

10. And let the beginning be made on the 4th day of July next, and from that time forth let my people labor diligently to build an house unto my name,

11. And in one year from this day let them re-commence laying the foundation of my house:

12. Thus let them from that time forth labor diligently until it shall be finished, from the corner stone thereof unto the top thereof, until there shall not any thing remain that is not finished.

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13. Verily 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;

14. But let an house be built unto my name according to the pattern which I will show unto them.

15. And if my people shall build it not according to the pattern which I shall show unto their Presidency, I will not accept it at their hands.

16. But if my people do build it according to the pattern which I shall show unto their Presidency, even my servant Joseph and his counselors, then I will accept it at the hands of my people.

17. And again, verily I say unto you, it is my will that the city of Far West should be built up speedily by the gathering of my Saints,

18. And also that other places should be appointed for stakes in the region round about, as they shall be manifested unto my servant Joseph, from time to time;

19. 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 ministry. Even so. Amen.

The Teachers' quorum voted today [April 26th] not to hold any member of the quorum in fellowship, who would not settle his own difficulties in the Church, and show himself approved in all things; and that they would not hold any member of the quorum in fellowship who would take unlawful interest.

April 27.—This day I chiefly spent in writing a history of the Church from the earliest period of its existence, up to this date.

Minutes of the High Council.

Saturday, April 28, 1838. This morning Presidents Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon attended the High Council, by invitation.

The business before the Council was an appeal case, from the branch of the Church near Guymon's Mill. A Brother Jackson was accuser, and Aaron Lyon accused. Thomas B. Marsh and David W. Patten presiding.

It appeared, in calling the Council to order, that some of the seats were vacant, which the Council proceeded to fill, but as there were not a sufficient number present who were eligible for the station, Presidents Smith and Rigdon were strongly solicited to act as Councilors, or to preside and let the presiding officers act as Councilors.

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They accepted the former proposal, and President Smith was chosen to act on the part of the defense, and to speak upon the case, together with George W. Harris.

President Rigdon was chosen to speak on the part of the prosecution, together with George M. Hinkle.

After some discussion as to whether witnesses should be admitted to testify against Aaron Lyon, or whether he should have the privilege of confessing his own sins, it was decided that witnesses should be admitted, and also the written testimony of the wife of a brother of the name of Jackson.

[This trial is written up at great length in the minutes of the Far West Record, and also in G. W. Robinson's summary of the proceedings heretofore printed. Condensed, the account of the fault of Brother Aaron Lyon was this: He claimed to have had a revelation that a Sister Jackson, who was a married woman, and whose husband was still living, was to become his wife. Lyon claimed that it had been revealed to him that the woman's husband was dead. He exerted undue influence in persuading her of these things, and she consented to be his wife; but before they were married the woman's husband appeared on the scene, with the result, of course, that the prospective marriage did not take place. The witnesses were permitted to testify, although Brother Lyon confessed the facts and admitted his error. The conclusion of the matter follows as stated by G. W. Robinson, clerk of the Council].

Council decided that, inasmuch as this man had confessed his sins, and asked forgiveness, and promised to make well the paths of his feet, and do, as much as lies in his power, what God should require at his hands, he should give up his license as High Priest, and stand as a member in the Church; and this in consequence of his being considered incapable of magnifying that office.

G. W. Robinson.

Sundry Employments of the Prophet.

Sunday, 29.—I spent the day chiefly in meeting with the Saints, ministering the words of life.

Monday 30.—The First Presidency were engaged in writing the Church history and in recitation of grammar lessons, which recitations at this period were usually attended each morning before writing.

May 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.—The First Presidency were engaged in writing Church history and administering to the sick. Received a letter from John E. Page on the 4th.

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Saturday, 5.—The Presidency wrote for the Elders' Journal; also received intelligence from Canada by Brother Bailey, that two hundred wagons, with families, would probably be here in three weeks; also listened to an address on political matters delivered by General Wilson, Federal candidate for Congress.

The Prophet's Discourse on Evils of Hasty Judgment.

Sunday, May 6.—I preached to the Saints, setting forth the evils that existed, and that would exist, by reason of hasty judgment, or decisions upon any subject given by any people, or in judging before they had heard both sides of a question. I also cautioned the Saints against men who came amongst them whining and growling about their money, because they had kept the Saints, and borne some of the burden with others, and thus thinking that others, who are still poorer, and have borne greater burdens than they themselves, ought to make up their losses. I cautioned the Saints to beware of such, for they were throwing out insinuations here and there, to level a dart at the best interests of the Church, and if possible destroy the character of its Presidency. I also gave some instructions in the mysteries of the kingdom of God; such as the history of the planets, Abraham's writings upon the planetary systems, etc.

In the afternoon I spoke again on different subjects: the principle of wisdom, and the Word of Wisdom.

The Teachers' quorum at Far West numbered twenty-four members.

Monday, 7.—I spent the day in company with Judge Morain, one of our neighboring county judges, and Democratic candidate for the state senate.

Arrival of Elder Parley P. Pratt at Far West.

I also visited with Elders Reynolds Cahoon and Parley P. Pratt, who had this day arrived in Far West, the former from Kirtland, the latter from New York City where he had been preaching for some time; and our hearts were made glad with the pleasing intelligence of the gathering of the Saints from all parts of the earth to this place, to avoid the destructions which are coming upon this generation, is spoken by all the holy prophets since the world began.

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Death of Jas. G. Marsh.

James G. Marsh, son of Thomas B. Marsh, aged fourteen years, eleven months, and seven days, died this day, in the full triumph of the everlasting Gospel.

The Prophet's Answers to Sundry Questions.

Tuesday, 8.—I spent the day with Elder Rigdon in visiting Elder Cahoon at the place he had selected for his residence, and in attending to some of our private, personal affairs; also in the afternoon I answered the questions which were frequently asked me, while on my last journey but one from Kirtland to Missouri, as printed in the Elders' Journal, vol. I, Number 2, pages 28 and 29, as follows:

First—"Do you believe the Bible?"

If we do, we are the only people under heaven that does, for there are none of the religious sects of the day that do.

Second—"Wherein do you differ from other sects?"

In that we believe the Bible, and all other sects profess to believe their interpretations of the Bible, and their creeds.

Third—"Will everybody be damned, but Mormons?"

Yes, and a great portion of them, unless they repent, and work righteousness.

Fourth—"How and where did you obtain the Book of Mormon?"

Moroni, who deposited the plates in a hill in Manchester, Ontario county, New York, being dead and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and told me where they were, and gave me directions how to obtain them. I obtained them, and the Urim and Thummim with them, by the means of which I translated the plates; and thus came the Book of Mormon.

Fifth—"Do you believe Joseph Smith, Jun., to be a Prophet?"

Yes, and every other man who has the testimony of Jesus. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.—Revelation, 19:10th verse.

Sixth—"Do the Mormons believe in having all things in common?"

No.

Seventh—"Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?"

"No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again. But we do disapprove of the custom, which has gained in the world, and has been practiced among us, to our great mortification, in marrying in five or six weeks, or even in two or three months, after the death of their companion. We believe that due respect ought to be had to the memory of the dead, and the feelings of both friends and children.

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Eighth—"Can they [the Mormons] raise the dead?"

No, nor can any other people that now lives, or ever did live. But God can raise the dead, through man as an instrument.

Ninth—"What signs does Joseph Smith give of his divine mission?"

The signs which God is pleased to let him give, according as His wisdom thinks best, in order that He may judge the world agreeably to His own plan.

Tenth—"Was not Joseph Smith a money digger?"

Yes, but it was never a very profitable job for him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.

Eleventh—"Did not Joseph Smith steal his wife?"

Ask her, she was of age, she can answer for herself.

Twelfth—"Do the people have to give up their money when they join his Church?"

No other requirement than to bear their proportion of the expenses of the Church, and support the poor.

Thirteenth—"Are the Mormons abolitionists?"

No, unless delivering the people from priestcraft, and the priests from the power of Satan, should be considered abolition. But we do not believe in setting the negroes free.

Fourteenth—"Do they not stir up the Indians to war, and to commit depredations?"

No, and they who reported the story knew it was false when they put it in circulation. These and similar reports are palmed upon the people by the priests, and this is the only reason why we ever thought of answering them.

Fifteenth—"Do the Mormons baptize in the name of 'Joe' Smith?"

No, but if they did, it would be as valid as the baptism administered by the sectarian priests.

Sixteenth—"If the Mormon doctrine is true, what has become of all those who died since the days of the Apostles?"

All those who have not had an opportunity of hearing the Gospel, and being administered unto by an inspired man in the flesh, must have it hereafter, before they can be finally judged.

Seventeenth—"Does not 'Joe' Smith profess to be Jesus Christ?"

No, but he professes to be His brother, as all other Saints have done and now do: Matt., 12:49, 50, "And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples and said, Behold my mother and my brethren; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

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Eighteenth—"Is there anything in the Bible which licenses you to believe in revelation now-a-days?"

Is there anything that does not authorize us to believe so? If there is, we have, as yet, not been able to find it.

Nineteenth—"Is not the canon of the Scriptures full?"

If it is, there is a great defect in the book, or else it would have said so.

Twentieth—"What are the fundamental principles of your religion?"

The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth.

I published the foregoing answers to save myself the trouble of repeating the same a thousand times over and over again.

Wednesday, 9.—I attended the funeral of James G. Marsh, and complied with the request that I should preach on the occasion.

Elder Rigdon's Political Address.

Thursday, 10.—I listened to an address on the political policy of our nation, delivered by President Rigdon, at the school house, in the southwest quarter of the city, to a large concourse of people from all sections of the county, and from other counties also. Although President Rigdon was suffering under a severe cold and great hoarseness, yet being assisted by the Spirit of God, he was enabled clearly to elucidate the policy of the Federal and Democratic parties from their rise in our country to the present time, to the understanding of all present, giving an impartial review to both sides of the question. This address was delivered in consequence of a partial electioneering Federal speech of General Wilson at the same place a short time previously, and the politics of the Church of Latter-day Saints, generally being Democratic 3 it seemed desirable to hear an elucidation of the principles of both parties, with which I was highly edified.

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Trial of Wm. E. McLellin and Dr. McCord.

Friday, 11.—I attended the trial of William E. McLellin and Dr. McCord, for transgression, before the Bishop's court.

McCord said he was sorry to trouble the Council on his account, for he had intended to withdraw from the Church before he left the place; that he had no confidence in the work of God, or His Prophet, and should go his way. He gave up his license and departed.

William E. McLellin stated about the same as McCord, and that he had no confidence in the heads of the Church, believing they had transgressed, and had got out of the way, consequently he quit praying and keeping the commandments of God, and indulged himself in his lustful desires, but when he heard that the First Presidency had made a general settlement, and acknowledged their sins, he began to pray again. When I interrogated him, he said he had seen nothing out of the way himself, but he judged from hearsay. 4

Remuneration of the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon for Temporal Labors in the Church.

Saturday, 12.—President Rigdon and myself attended the High Council for the purpose of presenting for their consideration some business relating to our pecuniary concerns.

We stated to the Council our situation, as to maintaining our families, and the relation we now stand in to the Church, spending as we have for eight years, our time, talents, and property, in the service of the Church: and being reduced as it were to beggary, and being still detained in the business and service of the Church, it appears necessary that something should be done for the support of our families by the Church, or else we must do it by our own labors; and if the Church say to us, "Help yourselves," we will thank them and immediately do so; but if the Church say, "Serve us," some provision must be made for our sustenance.

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The Council investigated the matter, and instructed the Bishop to make over to President Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, each an eighty-acre lot of land from the property of the Church, situated adjacent to the city corporation; also appointed three of their number, viz., George W. Harris, Elias Higbee and Simeon Carter, a committee to confer with said Presidency, and satisfy them for their services the present year; not for preaching, or for receiving the word of God by revelation, neither for instructing the Saints in righteousness, but for services rendered in the printing establishment, in translating the ancient records, etc., etc. Said committee agreed that Presidents Smith and Rigdon should receive $1,100 each as a just remuneration for their services this year.

Sunday, 13.—Elder Reynolds Cahoon preached in the forenoon. In the afternoon President Rigdon preached a funeral sermon on the death of Swain Williams, son of Frederick G. Williams.

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Monday, 14.—I spent in plowing my garden, while Elder Rigdon was preparing and correcting some matter for the press. Elder Harlow Redfield arrived from Kirtland, Ohio.

Chapter 3 Notes

1. D&C 114.

2. D&C 115. It will be observed that in verses three and four of this revelation the Lord gives to the Church its official name, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Previous to this the Church had been called "The Church of Christ," "The Church of Jesus Christ," "The Church of God," and by a conference of Elders held at Kirtland in May, 1834, (see Church History, vol. 2, pp. 62-3), it was given the name "The Church of the Latter-day Saints." All these names, however, were by this revelation brushed aside, and since then the official name given in this revelation has been recognized as the true title of the Church, though often spoken of as "The Mormon Church," the "Church of Christ," etc. The appropriateness of this title is self evident, and in it there is a beautiful recognition of the relationship both of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Saints to the organization. It is "The Church of Jesus Christ." It is the Lord's; He owns it, He organized it. It is the Sacred Depository of His truth. It is His instrumentality for promulgating all those spiritual truths with which He would have mankind acquainted. It is also His instrumentality for the perfecting of the Saints, as well as for the work of the ministry. It is His in all these respects; but it is an institution which also belongs to the Saints. It is their refuge from the confusion and religious doubt of the world. It is their instructor in principle, doctrine, and righteousness. It is their guide in matters of faith and morals. They have a conjoint ownership in it with Jesus Christ, which ownership is beautifully recognized in the latter part of the title. "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints," is equivalent to "The Church of Jesus Christ," and "The Church of the Latter-day Saints."

3. Of course what is meant by this statement is that the individuals composing the Church were quite generally Democrats, not that the Church as an organization was democratic or had any politics.

4. It will be observed that the text is silent in relation to what action was taken respecting William E. McLellin, and the Far West Record is silent upon the subject also. In fact the minutes of the trial before the Bishop are not written in that record at all. It is known, however, from other sources that William E. McLellin was finally excommunicated from the Church at Far West. Thence forward he took an active part in the persecution of the Saints in Missouri, and at one time expressed the desire to do violence to the person of Joseph Smith, while the latter was confined in Liberty prison. Subsequently he attempted what he called a reorganization of the Church, and called upon David Whitmer to take the presidency thereof, claiming that he was ordained by Joseph Smith on the 8th of July, 1834, as his (the Prophet Joseph's) successor. The Prophet himself, according to the minutes of the High Council held in Far West, on the 15th of March, 1838, referred to his ordaining of David Whitmer in July, 1834, and this is the account of what he said:

"President Joseph Smith, Jun., gave a history of the ordination of David Whitmer which (ordination) was on conditions that he (Joseph Smith, Jun.,) did not live to God himself. President Joseph Smith, Jun., approved of the proceedings of the High Council after hearing the minutes of the former councils."—Far West Record, page 108.

The minutes of the councils here referred to, and which the Prophet approved, gave account of deposing David Whitmer from the local Presidency of the Church in Missouri.