Sidney Rigdon (?)
Book of Commandments
(Independence, Missouri: 1833)
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
61 62 63 64 65
( Copy Right Secured according to Law. )
[ 3 ]
1 A Preface or instruction unto the Book of Commandments, which were given of the Lord unto his church, through him whom he appointed to this work, by the voice
of his saints through the prayer of faith: This church being organized according to the will of him, who rules all things, on the sixth day of April, in the
year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty:
And verily, I say unto you, that they who go forth, bearing these things unto the inhabitants of the earth, to them is power given, to seal both on earth and
in heaven, the unbelieving and rebellious; yea, verily, to seal them up unto the day when the wrath of God shall be poured out upon the wicked, without measure,
unto the day when the Lord shall come to recompence unto every man according to his work, and measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured
to his fellow man.
should proclaim these things unto the world, and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets: The weak things of the world should
come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones; that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh, but that every man might
speak in name of God, the Lord, even the Savior of the world; the faith also might increase in the earth; that mine everlasting covenant might be established;
that the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple, unto the ends of the world; and before kings and rulers.
with the least degree of allowance: Nevertheless, he that repenteth and doeth the commandments of the Lord, shall be forgiven, and he that repenteth not
from him shall be taken even the light which he hath received, for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of hosts.
1 A Revelation given to Joseph, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, July, 1828, after Martin had lost the Manuscript of the forepart of the book of Mormon, translated
from the book of Lehi, which was abridged by the hand of Mormon saying:
4 Behold thou art Joseph, and thou was chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall, but remember
God is merciful: Therefore, repent of that which thou hast done, and he will only cause thee to be afflicted for a season, and thou art still chosen, and
wilt again be called to the work: and except thou do this, thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men, and have no more gift.
that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name; and that through their repentance they might be saved: Amen.
1 A Revelation given to Joseph, the father of Joseph, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, February 1829. saying:
1 A Revelation given to Joseph and Martin, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, March, 1829, when Martin desired of the Lord to know whether Joseph had in his
possession, the record of the Nephites.
of three of my servants shall go forth with my words unto this generation; yea, three shall know of a surety that these things are true, for I will give
them power, that they may behold and view these things as they are, and to none else will I grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this
generation. And the testimony of three witnesses will I send forth and my word, and behold, whosoever believeth in my word, them will I visit with the
manifestation of my Spirit, and they shall be born of me, and their testimony shall also go forth.
firm in keeping the commandments wherewith I have commanded him; and if he doeth this, behold I grant unto him eternal life, even if he should be slain.
thou shalt stop for a season, even until I command thee again: then thou mayest translate again. And except thou do thou do this, behold thou shalt have
no more gift, and I will take away the things which I have intrusted with thee.
1 A Revelation to Oliver, given in Harmony, Pennsylvania, April, 1829, when employed a scribe for Joseph, while translating the book of Mormon.
5 Behold thou hast a gift, and blessed art thou because of thy gift. Remember it is sacred and cometh from above; and if thou will inquire, thou shalt know
mysteries which are great and marvelous: therefore thou shalt exercise thy gift, that thou mayest find out mysteries, that thou mayest bring many to the
knowledge of the truth; yea, convince them of the error of their ways. Make not thy gift known unto any, save it be those which are of thy faith. -- Trifle
not with sacred things. If thou wilt do good, yea and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all
the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.
9 Behold thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires, therefore, treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful, and diligent
in keeping the commandments of God, and I will incircle thee in the arms of my love.
are ye, for they can do no more unto you than unto me; and if they do unto you, even as they have done unto me, blessed are ye, for you shall dwell with me
in glory: but if they reject not my words, which will be established by the testimony which shall be given, blessed are they; and then shall ye have joy in
the fruit of your labors.
1 A Revelation given to Oliver, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, April, 1829, when they desired to know whether John, the beloved disciple, tarried on earth.
Translated from parchment, written and hid up by himself.
1 A Revelation given to Oliver, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, April, 1829.
Trifle not with these things. Do not ask for that which you ought not. Ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate all those
ancient records, which have been hid up, which are sacred, and according to your faith shall it be done unto you.
1 A Revelation given to Oliver, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, April, 1829.
no thought, save it was to ask me; but behold I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right,
I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you: therefore, you shall feel that it is right; but if it be not right, you shall have no such feelings, but you
shall have a stupor of thought, that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong: therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred, save it be given
you from me.
1 A Revelation given to Joseph, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, May, 1829, informing him of the manuscript of the fore part of the book of Mormon.
plan, that he may destroy this work; for he has put it into their hearts to do this, that by lying they may say they have caught you in the words which
you have pretended to translate.
5 Verily, verily I say unto you, wo be unto him that lieth to deceive, because he supposeth that another lieth to deceive, for such are not exempt from
the justice of God.
gone out of your hands, are engraven upon the plates of Nephi; yea, and you remember, it was said in those writings, that a more particular account was given
of these things upon the plates of Nephi.
12 Now this is not all, their faith in their prayers were, that this gospel should be made known also, if it were possible that other nations should possess
this land; and thus they did leave a blessing upon this land in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in this gospel, in this land, might have eternal
life, yea, that it might be free unto all whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people, they may be.
other sheep, and that they were a branch of the house of Jacob; and I will bring to light their marvelous works, which they did in my name; yea, and I will
also bring to light my gospel, which was ministered unto them, and behold they shall not deny that which you have received, but they shall build it up, and
shall bring to light the true points of my doctrine: Yea, and the only doctrine which is in me; and this I do, that I may establish my gospel, that there may
not be so much contention: Yea, Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention, concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do
err, for they do wrest the scriptures, and do not understand them: therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery, for behold I will gather them as a
hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts: Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely.
1 A Revelation given to Hyrum, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, May, 1829.
heart, believing in the power of Jesus Christ, or in my power which speaketh unto thee: for behold it is I that speaketh: behold I am the light which shineth
in darkness, and by my power I give these words unto thee.
convincing of men: but now hold your peace, study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men; and also study my word which shall come forth among
the children of men; or that which you are translating: Yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation; and
then shall all things be added thereunto.
1 A Revelation given to Joseph (K.,) in Harmony, Pennsylvania, May, 1829, informing him how he must do, to be worthy to assist in the work of the Lord.
1 A Revelation given to David, in Fayette, New York, June, 1829.
Gentiles unto the house of Israel. And behold thou art David, and thou art called to assist: Which thing if ye do, and are faithful, ye shall be blessed both spiritually and temporally, and great shall be your reward: Amen.
1 A Revelation given to John, in Fayette, New York, June, 1829.
1 A Revelation given to Peter, in Fayette, New York, June, 1829.
1 A Revelation to Joseph, Oliver and David, making known the calling of twelve disciples in these last days, and also instructions relative to building up
the church of Christ, according to the fulness of the gospel: Given in Fayette, New-York, June, 1829.
Spirit in many instances, that the things which you have written are true:
in the flesh: wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
25 Wherefore all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father, for in that name shall they be called at the last day:
38 Wherefore you shall testify they are of me, and not of man; for it is my voice which speaketh them unto you:
in the kingdom of my Father. Behold I Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, and your Redeemer, by the power of my Spirit, have spoken it: Amen.
1 A commandment of God and not of man to you, Martin, given (Manchester, New York, March, 1830,) by him who is eternal:
might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name's glory:
power, 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.
32 And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior and remission of sins by baptism and by fire; yea, even the Holy Ghost.
1 A Revelation to Oliver, given in Manchester, New-York, April 6, 1830.
1 A Revelation to Hyrum, given in Manchester, New-York, April 6, 1830.
1 A Revelation to Samuel, given in Manchester, New-York, April 6,1830.
1 A Revelation to Joseph, the father of Joseph, given in Manchester, New-York, April 6, 1830.
CHAPTER XXI.1 A Revelation to Joseph (K.,) given in Manchester, New-York, April 6, 1830.
Behold I manifest unto you 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.
1 A Revelation to Joseph given in Manchester, New-York, April 6, 1830.
heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory.
1 A Commandment unto the church of Christ, which was established in these last days, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty; Given
in Fayette, New-York, April, 1830, in consequence of some desiring to unite with the church without re-baptism, who had previously been baptized.
1 The Articles and Covenants of the church of Christ, given in Fayette, New-York, June, 1830;
2 It being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God in the fourth month and on the sixth
day of the month, which is called April:
others by the ministering of angels, and declared unto the world by them:
18 Yea, even as many as were before he came in the flesh, from the beginning, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who were inspired by the
gift of the Holy Ghost, which truly testified of him in all things, as well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings
of God, by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son, which Father and Son and Holy Ghost, is one God, infinite and eternal,
without end. Amen.
28 Neither by the ministering of angels, and the Lord God hath spoken it; and honor, power, and glory, be rendered to his holy name both now and ever. Amen.
and to take the lead of meetings; but none of these offices is he to do when there is an elder present, but in all cases is to assist the elder.
time to expound all things concerning this church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the sacrament, and being confirmed by
the laying hands of the elders;
the church, and call upon the Father in mighty prayer, saying:
62 Whomsoever the other elders shall appoint from time to time:
1 A Revelation to Joseph, and also to Oliver, given in Harmony, Pennsylvania, July, 1830.
support thee; and I will bless them both spiritually and temporally;
open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night.
1 A Revelation to Emma, given in Harmony, Pennsylvania, July, 1830.
which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church:
1 A Revelation to Joseph, Oliver and John, given in Harmony, Pennsylvania, July, 1830.
1 A Commandment to the church of Christ, given in Harmony, Pennsylvania, September 4, 1830,
1 A Revelation to the church of Christ, given in the presence of six elders, in Fayette, New-York, September, 1830.
10 For the hour is nigh, and the day soon at hand, when the earth is ripe:
above and in the earth beneath; and there shall be weeping and wailing among the hosts of men;
earth and all the fullness thereof, both men and beasts;
understand, but unto myself my works have no end, neither beginning; but it is given unto you. that ye may understand, because ye have asked it of me
and are agreed.
49 Wherefore, I the Lord God caused that he should be cast out from the garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression;
to do according as it is written. And now, I declare no more unto you at this time. Amen.
1 A Revelation to Oliver, given in Fayette, New-York, September, 1830.
them. And thou shalt have revelations but write them not by way of commandment.
 A Revelation to David, given in Fayette, New-York, September, 1830.
A Revelation to Peter, given in Fayette, New-York, September, 1830.
3 And be you afflicted in all his afflictions, ever lifting up your heart unto me in prayer, and faith, for his and your deliverance:
A Revelation to John, given in Fayette, New-York, September, 1830.
A Revelation to Thomas, given in Fayette, New-York, September, 1830.
12 Govern your house in meekness, and be steadfast.
A Revelation to Ezra, and Northrop, given in Fayette, New-York, October, 1830.
that I shall call laborers into my vineyard. And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit; and there is none which doeth good save it be a few; and they err
in many instances, because of priestcrafts, all having corrupt minds.
the church articles and covenants to keep them:
A Revelation to Orson, (P.) given in Fayette, New-York, November, 1830.
the way of the Lord for his second coming: for behold, verily, verily I say unto you, the time is soon at hand, that I shall come in a cloud with power and
great glory, and it shall be a great day at the time of my coming, for all nations shall tremble.
A Revelation to Joseph, and Sidney, given in Fayette, New-York, December, 1830.
3 Behold, verily, verily I say unto you my servant Sidney, I have looked upon thee and thy works.
14 Wherefore, I have called upon the weak things of the world, those who are unclean and despised, to thresh the nations by the power of my Spirit:
pure. And now I say unto you, tarry with him and he shall journey with you; forsake him not and surely these things shall be fulfilled.
A Revelation to Edward, given in Fayette, New-York, December, 1830.
even the comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom:
A Revelation to Joseph and Sidney, given in Canandaigua, New- York, December, 1830.
it is found, and more especially in Colesville;
A Revelation to the churches in New-York, commanding them to remove to Ohio, given in Fayette, New-York, January, 1831.
will not hear my voice but harden their hearts, and wo, wo, wo is their doom.
to persons. And I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool: again I will stand upon it:
and if ye are not one, ye are not mine. And again I say unto you, that the enemy in the secret chambers, seeketh your lives:
property of this church. And they that have farms, that can not be sold, let them be left or rented as seemeth good.
A Revelation to James (C.,) given in Fayette, New-York, January, 1831.
known. And if thou do this, I have prepared thee for a greater work.
20 Go forth baptizing with water, preparing the way before my face, for the time of my coming; for the time is at hand:
A Revelation to Joseph, and Sidney, given in Fayette, New-York, January, 1831, explaining why James (C.,) obeyed not the revelation which was given unto him.
A Revelation to the church in Kirtland, Ohio, and also calling of Edward to the office of bishop, given February, 1831.
11 And again, I have called my servant Edward, and give a commandment, that he should be appointed by the voice of the church, and ordained a bishop unto
the church, to leave his merchandise and to spend all his time in the labors of the church; to see to all things as it shall be appointed unto him, in my
laws in the day that I shall give them.
A Revelation given to twelve elders assembled in Kirtland, Ohio; and also the law for the government of the church, given in the presence of the same, February, 1831.
this one thing, and have asked the Father in my name, even so ye shall receive.
that he has authority, and has been regularly ordained by the hands of the church.
committeth adultery and repenteth not, shall be cast out; and he that committeth adultery and repenteth with all his heart, and forsaketh and doeth it
no more, thou shalt forgive him; but if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.
30 And this I do for the salvation of my people.
39 He who has faith to see, shall see; he who has faith to hear, shall hear; the lame who hath faith to leap; shall leap; and they who have not faith to do
these things, but believe in me, have power to become my sons, and inasmuch as they break not my laws, thou shalt bear their infirmities.
you in my own due time where the New Jerusalem shall be built.
needs be necessary to assist the bishop in obtaining places for the brethren from New York, that they may be together as much as can be, and as they are directed by the Holy Spirit; and every family shall have a place, that they may live by themselves. -- And every church shall be organized in as close bodies as they can be; and this for a wise purpose: -- even so. Amen.
A Revelation to the elders of the church in Kirtland, Ohio, given February, 1831.
deceived; that you may know they are not of me.
your hands by the power of my Spirit: and ye are to be taught from on high.
28 Hearken, O ye nations of the earth, and hear the words of that God who made you.
39 And the earth shall pass away so as by fire;
A Revelation to Joseph, and Sidney, given in Kirtland, Ohio, February, 1831.
6 That you may be enabled to keep my laws, that every band may be broken wherewith the enemy seeketh to destroy my people.
A Revelation to seven elders of the church, assembled in Kirtland, Ohio, February 1831.
is present also. And thus ye shall do in all cases which shall come before you.
heart, that this is the case, ye shall not cast them out from among you:
A Revelation to the church, given in Kirtland, Ohio, March, 1831.
might be glorified: wherefore Father spare these brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.
15 But obtained a promise that they should find it, and see it in their flesh.
25 And this I have told you concerning Jerusalem, and when that day shall come, shall a remnant be scattered among all nations, but they shall be gathered
again; but they shall remain until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
things shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you, shall be fulfilled:
are you, for as you now behold me and know that I am, even so shall ye come unto me and your souls shall live, and your redemption shall be perfected, and
the saints shall come forth from the four quarters of the earth.
50 And at that day when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins:
that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you, and it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of
refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the most high God;
tremble: and all the nations shall be afraid because of the terror of the Lord, and the power of his might; even so: Amen
A Revelation to the church, given in Kirtland, Ohio, March, 1831.
9 But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God who giveth liberally, and that which the Spirit testifieth unto you, so I would that ye should do in
all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not
be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men, for some are men, and others devils.
as the Lord will, suiting his mercies, according to the conditions of the children of men.
to the will of God, wherefore it is done as he asketh.
A Revelation to Joseph and John, given in Kirtland, Ohio, March, 1831.
A Revelation to the bishop, and the church in Kirtland, Ohio, March, 1831.
A Revelation to Sidney, Parley, and Lemon, given in Kirtland, Ohio, March, 1831.
neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he come:
18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meat, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;
and I will be in your midst, and you shall not be confounded:
A Revelation to the elders of the church assembled at Kirtland, Ohio, May, 1831.
8 But the hypocrite shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will, and wo unto them who are cut off from my church,
for the same are overcome of the world:
19 Therefore, why is it that ye can not understand and know that he that receiveth the word by the spirit of truth, receiveth it as it is preached by
the spirit of truth?
not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not God:
38 Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;
A Revelation to the elders of the church in Kirtland, Ohio, given June, 1831.
shall be made known unto them what they shall do:
the same is accepted of me, if he obey mine ordinances:
also take their journey unto this same land, and preach by the way.
there be no idolatry nor wickedness practiced. And remember in all things, the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these
things, the same is not my disciple.
A Revelation to Sidney (G.,) given in Kirtland, Ohio, June, 1831.
3 Take upon you mine ordinances, even that of and elder, to preach faith and repentance, and remission of sins, according to my word, and the reception of the
Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands.
A Revelation to Newel (K.,) and the church in Thompson, given in Kirtland, Ohio, June, 1831.
4 And as the covenant which they made unto me, has been broken, even so it has become void and of none effect;
A Revelation to William, given in Kirtland, Ohio, June, 1831.
been baptized by water, which if you do with an eye single to my glory, you shall have a remission of your sins, a reception of the Holy Spirit,
by the laying on of hands:
A Revelation to the church, and certain elders, given in Kirtland, Ohio, June, 1831.
shall know my arm and mine indignation in the day of visitation and of wrath upon the nations.
has paid, and shall leave the place, and shall be cut off out of my church, saith the Lord God of hosts:
for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance:
A Revelation to the elders of the church, assembled on the land of Zion, given August, 1831.
follow. Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony
of the things which are to come;
days, to divide the lands of the heritage of God unto his children; and to judge his people by the testimony of the just, and by the assistance of
his counsellors, according to the laws of the kingdom which are given by the prophets of God:
in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness:
50 And other directions, concerning my servant Martin, shall be given him of the Spirit, that he may receive his inheritance as seemeth him good. And let
him repent of his sins, for he seeketh the praise of the world.
voice of the church, unto the church in Ohio, to receive moneys to purchase lands in Zion.
and also Oliver with them, to accomplish the residue of the work, which I have appointed unto them in their own land:
A Revelation to the church, given in Zion, August, 1831.
17 Even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
the season thereof, is made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye, and to gladden the heart:
A Revelation to the church, given in Zion, August, 1831.
will not open their mouths, but hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man.
which are commanded to return: and he that is able, let him return it by the way of the agent, and he that is not, of him it is not required.
A Revelation to eleven elders, given upon the bank of the Missouri river, August, 1831.
should part: wherefore let my servants Sidney and William, take their former company, and let them take their journey in haste that they may fill their
mission, and through faith they shall overcome;
21 I the Lord was angry with you yesterday, but today my anger is turned away:
31 And again, verily I say unto you, my servants Sidney, and Joseph, and Oliver. shall not open their mouths in the congregations of the wicked, until they
arrive in Cincinnati;
A Revelation to certain elders, while journeying to the land of Zion, given on the bank of the Missouri river, August, 1831.
from the hand of the Lord, with a thankful heart in all things.
A Revelation given in Kirtland, Ohio, August, 1831.
9 Verily I say unto you, there are those among you, who seeketh signs; and there have been such even from the beginning.
the sorcerer, should have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
purchase the lands, that you may have advantage of the world, that you may have claim on the world, that they may not be stirred up unto anger:
41 Wherefore let my disciples in Kirtland, arrange their temporal concerns, which dwell upon this farm.
his works shall follow him; and also a reward in the world to come:
63 And if the Lord received it not, behold he standeth no longer in the office which I have appointed him.
a home as they are taught through prayer, by the Spirit.
A Revelation to the elders of the church, given in Kirtland, Ohio, September, 1831.
against one another, and forgave not one another in their hearts, and for this evil they were afflicted, and sorely chastened:
them, they repent of the evil, and they shall be forgiven.
35 Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.
(view high resolution scan of title page)
The 1833 Book of Commandments From William H. Whitsitt's Biography of Sidney Rigdon:
The first book of the work in hand being now copied in the best style be could control, Harris could conceive of nothing that would be so potent to hush the complaints of his wife Lucy, as a sight of its contents. To enter his house empty-handed was to a man in his situation a truly irksome affair; he wanted something to show for himself.
Accordingly he importuned young Smith most ardently for permission to carry to Palmyra for exhibition the manuscript of the Book of Lehi, which was comprised in a hundred and sixteen pages of his own character. The request was not well received; Lucy Smith says it was three several times proposed, and all but the last time refused. At length, however, Joseph yielded the point, after the exaction of a binding written obligation from Mr. Harris, which contained the injunction that none but the five members of the Harris household in New York should be admitted to view it (Joseph Smith, pp. 124-5).
Though the promises that had been required of him were of the most explicit conditions and very sacred, Mr. Harris was so proud of his treasure that it was out of his power to keep them. He exhibited the manuscript first to one person and afterwards to another outside the limits of the prescribed circle. Curiosity regarding it must have been brought to a high state; it was duly gratified in every case where the person who made application "was regarded as prudent enough to keep the secret," except in the case of the Smith family, who it is complained were "not allowed to set their eyes upon it" (Joseph Smith, p. 130).
The manuscript was kept by Harris under lock and key; its receptacle was a bureau which stood in the parlor, and he was in strict possession both of the key to the drawer and also of the key to the parlor door, but by some means which he was never able to explain the document was abstracted from its place while he was asleep.
On his wife being asked where it might be she solemnly averred that she did not know anything about it. Diligent search was made throughout the house; beds and pillows were incontinently ripped open, and every exertion that desperation could suggest was made, but to no purpose at all (Joseph Smith, p. 131 and p. 129).
The day when the loss occurred was marked by a considerable calamity to the wheat of Mr. Harris: the crop being at the moment in blossom, a dense fog spread itself over the fields and blighted it with mildew. This note of time as recorded by Lucy Smith would fix the date of the loss in the first days of July 1828, since this cereal is in blossom about that period in the latitude of Palmyra.
Joseph would speedily obtain tidings of the disaster in Pennsylvania, but it is not likely that he took any steps in the affair until there was space allowed for communication with Mr. Rigdon in Ohio. Finally when Rigdon reached Harmony a council seems to have been held that resulted in a journey to Palmyra in which it is competent to suspect that he accompanied Joseph. At least this is the most natural inference to be derived from Lucy Smith's account of a mysterious stranger who was present with her son all the way in the mail coach, and when the young man alighted, though a foot journey of twenty miles through a dense forest by night was in front of him this gentleman was so deeply interested in his welfare as to break his own journey and to traverse the entire distance with a man who was completely unknown to him. Arrived at the hovel of the Smiths the kind stranger was so eager to continue his journey as to obtain his breakfast and take his leave about the dawn of day (Joseph Smith, pp. 126-7).
It was apparently sometime before setting forth from Harmony on this occasion that young Smith was favored with his first revelation from the Lord. It bears date Harmony, Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, July 1828, and foreshadows the admirable powers which he afterwards displayed in the matter of always falling on his feet (D&C, Section 3).
The reason for placing this particular revelation at the head of the list may be seen in the fact that it was set down there in the early editions of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. In the edition of Orson Pratt, Sr., it is given the third position in the order of number, but the two which come before it were both of later origin. Section 1, which was originally designated as "the Lord's Preface to this Book," was produced for a special occasion at Kirtland Ohio on the first of November 1831 (Book of Doctrine and Covenants, Fourth European edition, Liverpool 1854, p. ix), but Mr. Pratt has concealed that fact. The second revelation in Mr. Pratt's edition (Section 2), is nothing more than a passage copied from the Autobiography of Joseph Smith, which was not composed until the year 1838, when Smith was engaged in the task of reconstructing his early history upon pictorial and marvelous principles (Pearl of Great Price, p. 63).
The substance of this initial revelation was with a great deal of very human shrewdness adapted to the exigencies of the disaster in which Joseph now found himself involved; announcing that the work which had come to naught in the way above indicated was not the work of the Lord, but rather the work of man; rebuking Smith for his weakness in the point that he had "gone on in the persuasions" of Harris: promising in case of more prudent circumspection that his honors should be restored, and assuring him and all that the designs of the Lord in this concern should finally triumph above every sort of opposition.
It is also to be observed that his suspicions induced him to perpetrate an act of injustice against poor Martin Harris, by calling him "a wicked man" but it was not to be anticipated that a person in his present state of excitement should be wholly just towards one who had experienced a misfortune that was felt so keenly by all who were well disposed towards the enterprise. Martin was to be pitied; he did not deserve to be blamed for purfidy.
It was to this unexpected casualty that the first opening of the life of the prophet is due. Hitherto it was not in the calculation that Joseph should play any other role than that of a simple translator (Omni 1:11); but the existing emergency could not in his judgment be fairly surmounted without resort to the more sure word of immediate revelation, and hence through it his future career, he was always ready to assume in addition to the original scheme, the title and the functions of a "Revelator."
It would be a point of interesting speculation to inquire whether this new prophetical function was undertaken at the suggestion or with the consent of Mr. Rigdon. The demand for some such bold stroke was imperative, but in case Rigdon had any hand in helping to deliver it he was beyond dispute unwise, since he thereby placed in the way of his subaltern a ready means of rising above the principal figure in the movement. On the contrary, if the first revelation was exclusively a conceit of Joseph's it must have been already apparent to his partner that he had formed an alliance with a character who was more powerful and adroit than would in all relations be desirable, however convenient such qualities might be regarded in seasons of embarrassment or of danger.
Lucy Smith professedly employing the very words of her son, supplies the following account of this transaction:
As I was pouring out my soul in supplication to God that if possible I might obtain mercy at his hands, and be forgiven of all that, I had done contrary to his will, an angel stood before me and answered saying that I had sinned in delivering the manuscript into the hands of a wicked man, and as I had ventured to become responsible for his faithfulness, I would of necessity have to suffer the consequences of his indiscretion, and I must now give up the Urim and Thummim into his (the angel's) hands. This I did as I was directed, and as I handed them to him he remarked 'If you are very humble, and penitent, it may be you will receive them again; if so it will be on the 22nd of next September' (Joseph Smith, pp.132-3).
When shortly after that date young Smith's father and mother contrived to obtain passage to Pennsylvania, the "first thing which attracted her attention on entering; the house was a red morocco trunk, lying on Emma's bureau, which Joseph shortly informed her contained the Urim and Thummim and the plates." These dates and facts indeed are given from the memory of an aged person who set them down about fifteen years after the occurrences were enacted; but while there may be room enough to question their accuracy in detail, they are yet sufficient to indicate the correctness of the conclusion drawn from other sources that the manuscript of Rigdon
The treasure being again restored to Joseph he preceded in a feeble way to prosecute the work before him. His wife Emma wrote for him as her domestic occasions would offer a few moments of leisure, but no great amount of progress would be accomplished this way. Joseph had now become aware of the benefit derived from the presence of a scribe, who might serve to keep him to his task, and he had received a promise from the angel of the Lord that one should be given him (Joseph Smith, p. 134).
Emma Smith herself refers to the aid she bestowed upon her husband: "In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us." The above is perhaps in one or two points a fancy sketch; it was drawn at the distance of 51 years from the events, and there was ample time for the memory to become a trifle hazy. It leaves no great room to doubt however, that Smith's wife was induced to lend a hand to the business of transcription.
Into this period of depression and partial idleness may with some degree of likelihood be placed the faults of dissipation which Joseph was charged with while he resided in Pennsylvania. Mr. Levi Lewis of Harmony testifies that "he saw him intoxicated at three different times while he was composing the Book of Mormon" (Howe p. 268).
The winter of 1828-9 was wearing drearily away In the month of February of the latter year the father of Smith was once again enabled to pay a visit to Pennsylvania, where the old gentleman was rewarded and delighted by another revelation which conveyed to himself a call to the ministry of the gospel (D&C Sect. 4). This was the second revelation and the first call to the sacred office given in the new movement. This call was perhaps (set forth) in the words of a formula that Mr. Rigdon may have considerately provided for the use of Joseph under necessities of this kind. It was conceived in strict terms of Disciple orthodoxy, and expressly disclaims the evangelical notion of a divine call to the ministry. Their position and the hand of Rigdon are particularly apparent in the following provisions: "Therefore if ye have desire to serve God ye are called to the work, for behold the field is ripe white already to harvest, and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perish not, but bringeth salvation to his soul" (D&C 4:3-4).
This idea regarding the nature of the call to the sacred office was at that time strenuously insisted upon by the theologians of Rigdon's communion, and is still maintained by them; but there was a palpable impropriety in the conduct of Smith who presented the formula in the [shape] of a divine call when the words of it themselves indicate that nothing more than a simple desire to serve God might constitute a sufficient call to the work. Most of the earlier proclaimers of Mormonism were honored with a copy of this Disciple formula. The call of Oliver Cowdery was conveyed in these terms of spotless Disciple orthodoxy: "Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God" (D&C, 6:4). The call of Hyrum Smith is given in the very same words (D&C, 11:4), as also that of Joseph Knight, Sr. (D&C, 12:4), and of David Whitmer (D&C, 14:4). The general principle of procedure in such cases is thus summed up in another place, "And if they desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart they are called to go into all the world to preach my gospel to every creature (D&C, 18:23).
The wound which had been inflicted upon poor Martin Harris hurt him sorely throughout the summer and winter of the year 1828; it was clear to his mind that to neglect the opportunity for a speculation in the precious metals like that afforded by the "Golden Bible" would be an act of pecuniary madness.
Hence in the month of March 1829, about a month after the visit of Joseph Smith, Sr., he sets out once more to inspect the condition of affairs at Harmony, Pennsylvania.
The influence of his wife Lucy Harris however, was now beginning to be apparent in the attitude which Martin was assuming towards the project. Mrs. Harris could have no objections to investing her money in the way her husband suggested, provided that Smith would give a plain and indisputable demonstration that he had in his possession the treasure of which he so often prated. This sensible precaution of his better half did not at present seem so unreasonable in the estimation of Harris. Accordingly when he arrived at the residence of Joseph his temper of mind was almost as critical and inquiring as that of his wife had been the year before. He informed Joseph that he could not help him any further in the speculation except he should be favored with a "greater witness." This demand implied a sight of the "plates," and permission to handle and to inspect them until he might be convinced that they were just (what he claimed them to be).
Of course it was impossible for Joseph to accede to that condition; but in order to evade the issue he proposed to "go into the woods where the Book of Plates was, and after he came back that Harris should follow his track in the snow, and find the book and examine it for himself." The purpose of this arrangement was to cast the blame upon the Lord who could, it might be affirmed, (have) been at pains to remove the book in the interval that should elapse between the moment when young Smith retired, and that in which Mr. Harris approached the spot where it was concealed.But this skillful conceit was not satisfactory to Martin; he "followed Smith's directions and could not find the plates and was still dissatisfied" (Howe, p.261-5).
In such an emergency Joseph was again constrained to have recourse to visions of the Lord; he got a revelation for Martin's especial behoof, in which the whole question was treated from the standing-point of the heavenly chancery. This revelation is marked Section 5 in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants and is dated "in Harmony, Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, March 1, 1829."
An important change of policy is announced in that communication. Mr. Harris had succeeded in convincing Joseph that it was indispensable there should be eye-witnesses of the existence and the character of the "plates," if it were expected that people should believe what he asserted. Smith offered as a pretext against this the fact that the Lord had commanded himself "to stand as witness of these things" (D.&C., 5, 2); but with as good grace as he could command he yet acceded to what was clearly a dangerous requirement. Accordingly he caused the Lord to specify as follows: "But this generation shall have my word through you, and in addition to your testimony, the testimony of three of my servants, whom I shall call and ordain, unto whom I will show these things, and they shall go forth with my words that are given through you" (D.&C., 5:10-11). This concession must have occasioned a deal of disquiet on the part of Mr. Rigdon, but his colleague had enjoyed such exceptional privileges in the art of jugglery that there was reason to anticipate that he would come through the questionable ordeal with distinction.
A second demand of Mr. Harris is believed to have referred to the performance of a miracle by the hand of young Smith in order to demonstrate the truth of his claims and assertions; but Joseph was easily made to extricate himself from an embarrassment like that. His method was as follows: "And you have a gift to "translate the plates, and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you, and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift, until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant you no other gift until it is finished" (D&C, 5:4).
Nevertheless it was not desirable to Harris to take leave without making an effort to bind him further. To accomplish that design it was conceived to be important for Martin to be made aware that his individual doings had been mentioned in the prophecies of Nephi several centuries prior to the coming of our Savior. To bring this result about it was decided to cause him to write a few pages for the Book of Mormon, in the course of which Smith would pretend that the ancient prophet had predicted his journey to visit Prof. Anthon. Revelation enjoined that special scheme in the following terms: "And if this be the case, behold I say unto thee Joseph, when thou hast translated a few more pages thou shalt stop for a season, even until I command thee again; then thou mayest translate again" (D&C 5:30).
Inasmuch as he was only a few pages in the calculation, Mr. Harris could hardly refuse to lend his aid to the young man for that amount, and there is reason to conclude that the 27th Chapter of 2nd Nephi was at this time written down by Martin at his friend's dictation. The chapter in question contains a prediction concerning the three witnesses that had just now been mentioned in the revelation for Martin's behoof, besides relation of the recent conversation held by Mr. Harris with the man of linguistic lore in the city of New York, both of which points it was conceived ought to be of advantage to wavering faith. Indeed it is difficult to understand why a character like Martin should have failed to yield on the spot to the arts of his young friend; Joseph was certainly skillful in setting his springs on this occasion.
But the warnings and wisdom of his spouse would be still ringing in the ears of Mr. Harris. Contrary to the expectations of Smith he persisted in his demands regarding a sight of the "plates" and as that was entirely out of the question, Harris took up his luggage and returned to his place in New York.
When after all these efforts to capture him, he yet succeeded in effecting his escape, there must have been small hope in the mind of Smith that Mr. Harris would ever stand among his followers. Almost any other person would have been lost to the cause from that instant; but Martin was a weakling both in respect to his superstitious credulity and also in respect to his passion for gain. Mr. Smith was meanwhile obliged to search elsewhere for a secretary.