When new convert Leman Copley asked Joseph Smith if particular teachings of the Shakers were correct, Joseph Smith asked the Lord and received section 49 in answer. Later, a similar question about enthusiastic spiritual behavior led to section 50.
“A Shaker View of a Mormon Mission,” Lawrence R. Flake, BYU Studies 20, no. 1 (1979)
This short article presents a record of Latter-day Saints visiting a Shaker community near Kirtland: Oliver Cowdery’s visit in 1830, when he left copies of the Book of Mormon with the group, and a visit by Sidney Rigdon, Parley Pratt, and Leman Copley, as instructed in D&C 49. The group rejected their message. Read the account of these visits written by Ashbel Kitchell, the Shaker leader.
“Historical Context and Background of D&C 49,” by Steven C. Harper, Doctrine and Covenants Central
A short explanation of the Saints’ mission to the Shakers, along with a note about the use of first-person voice of Heavenly Father in D&C 49.
“Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 49,” Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Central
“D&C 49 shows no hesitation in addressing the most important teaching of the Church: the mission of Jesus Christ to redeem the world.”
“Leman Copley and the Shakers,” Matthew McBride, Revelations in Context
An overview of preaching to the Shakers at North Union, Ohio, and the aftermath: when Leman Copley’s hopes that his Shaker friends could be converted failed, Copley backed out of an agreement he had made to let Saints in Kirtland live on his large farm.
“Historical Context and Background of D&C 50,” by Steven C. Harper, Doctrine and Covenants Central
“Discerning spirits takes a sound mind, but it is a spiritual, not primarily an intellectual, process.”
“Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 50,” Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Central
“Through the priesthood, the influence of the Holy Ghost, and a knowledge of the laws of God, we can identify and counter the deceptions of the adversary.”
Read chapter VI, pages 26-27, of John Whitmer’s history, which provides a background for D&C 50. Some converts at Kirtland “had visions and could not tell what they saw, Some would fancy to themselves that they had the sword of Laban, and would wield it as expert as a light dragon… These things grieved the servants of the Lord, and some conversed together on this subject, and others came in and we were at Joseph Smith Jr. The seers, and made it a matter of consultation, for many would not turn from their folly, unless God would give a revelation, therefore the Lord spake to Joseph.”