DC 101 Historical Background
The Prophet Joseph carefully chronicled the persecution suffered by his beloved Missouri saints. They had been sent by him, according to his inspiration to establish a new community based on new ideas. One of the great ideas of his early ministry was the idea of Zion, the location of Zion, the establishment of Zion, the redemption of Zion, the temple of Zion. The Prophet knew that the redemption of Zion must precede the Second Coming; the saints knew that they were the Lord's servants to prepare the earth for this apocalyptic event. Zion became the hope, the dream, the aspiration of the righteous.
Unfortunately, things began to fall apart rather quickly. In July of 1833, the mob threatened the Mormon leaders, destroyed the printing press, tarred and feathered others, and demanded the Mormons leave or be killed. A contract was drawn up between the mob and the Mormons which agreed to a cessation of violence if the saints would leave-most by Jan. 1, 1834 and the rest by April of the same year. The Prophet was consulted. The saints were to seek redress at the hands of government authorities. Letters were written to state authorities. The saints were advised to sue for redress in local courts-sound advice until one realizes that the local judges were part of the mob. Still, the saints sought legal counsel and began the process. When the rumor of the saints' legal intentions spread through the mob, it was like taking a match to a keg of gun powder.
The mob assembled; they declared war, thus breaking the July agreement to leave the saints alone until they had time to move. The expulsion and extermination were on! The Prophet Joseph was careful to record the events:
Thursday night, the 31st of October, gave the Saints in Zion abundant proof that no pledge on the part of their enemies, written or verbal, was longer to be regarded; for on that night, between forty and fifty persons in number, many of whom were armed with guns, proceeded against a branch of the Church, west of the Big Blue, and unroofed and partly demolished ten dwelling houses; and amid the shrieks and screams of the women and children, whipped and beat in a savage and brutal manner, several of the men: while their horrid threats frightened women and children into the wilderness. Such of the men as could escape fled for their lives; for very few of them had arms, neither were they organized; and they were threatened with death if they made any resistance; such therefore as could not escape by flight, received a pelting with stones and a beating with guns and whips. On Friday, the first of November, women and children sallied forth from their gloomy retreats, to contemplate with heartrending anguish the ravages of a ruthless mob, in the lacerated and bruised bodies of their husbands, and in the destruction of their houses, and their furniture. Houseless and unprotected by the arm of the civil law in Jackson county, the dreary month of November staring them in the face and loudly proclaiming an inclement season at hand; the continual threats of the mob that they would drive every "Mormon" from the county; and the inability of many to move, because of their poverty, caused an anguish of heart indescribable.
On Friday night, the 1st of November, a party of the mob proceeded to attack a branch of the Church settled on the prairie, about twelve or fourteen miles from the town of Independence. Two of their number were sent in advance, as spies, viz., Robert Johnson, and---Harris, armed with two guns and three pistols. They were discovered by some of the Saints, and without the least injury being done to them, said mobber Robert Johnson struck Parley P. Pratt over the head with the breech of his gun, after which they were taken and detained till morning; which action, it was believed, prevented a general attack of the mob that night. In the morning the two prisoners, notwithstanding their attack upon Parley P. Pratt the evening previous, were liberated without receiving the least injury.
The same night, (Friday), another party in Independence commenced stoning houses, breaking down doors and windows and destroying furniture. This night the brick part attached to the dwelling house of A. S. Gilbert, was partly pulled down, and the windows of his dwelling broken in with brickbats and rocks, while a gentleman, a stranger, lay sick with fever in his house. The same night three doors of the store of Messrs. Gilbert & Whitney were split open, and after midnight the goods, such as calicos, handkerchiefs, shawls, cambrics, lay scattered in the streets. An express came from Independence after midnight to a party of the brethren who had organized about half a mile from the town for the safety of their lives, and brought the information that the mob were tearing down houses, and scattering goods of the store in the streets. Upon receiving this information the company of brethren referred to marched into Independence, but the main body of the mob fled at their approach. One Richard McCarty, however, was caught in the act of throwing rocks and brickbats into the doors, while the goods lay scattered around him in the streets. He was immediately taken before Samuel Weston, Esq., justice of the peace, and complaint was then made to said Weston, and a warrant requested, that McCarty might be secured; but Weston refused to do anything in the case at that time, and McCarty was liberated.
The same night some of the houses of the Saints in Independence had long poles thrust through the shutters and sash into the rooms of defenseless women and children, from whence their husbands and fathers had been driven by the dastardly attacks of the mob, which were made by ten, fifteen, or twenty men upon a house at a time. Saturday, the 2nd of November, all the families of the Saints in Independence moved with their goods about half a mile out of town and organized to the number of thirty, for the preservation of life and personal effects. The same night a party from Independence met a party from west of the Blue, and made an attack upon a branch of the Church located at the Blue, about six miles from the village of Independence. Here they tore the roof from one dwelling and broke open another house; they found the owner, David Bennett, sick in bed, and beat him most inhumanly, swearing they would blow out his brains. They discharged a pistol at him, and the ball cut a deep gash across the top of his head. In this skirmish a young man of the mob, was shot in the thigh; but by which party the shot was fired is not known.
The next day, Sunday, November 3rd, four of the brethren, viz., Joshua Lewis, Hiram Page, and two others, were dispatched for Lexington to see the circuit judge, and obtain a peace warrant. Two other brethren called on Esquire Silvers, in Independence, and asked him for a peace warrant, but he refused to issue one on account, as he afterwards declared, of his fears of the mob. This day many of the citizens, professing friendship, advised the Saints to leave the county as speedily as possible; for the Saturday night affray had enraged the whole county, and the people were determined to come out on Monday and massacre indiscriminately; and, in short, it was commonly declared among the mob, that "Monday would be a bloody day."
Monday came, and a large party of the mob gathered at the Blue, took the Ferry boat belonging to the Church, threatened lives, etc. But they soon abandoned the ferry, and went to Wilson's store, about one mile west of the Blue. Word had been previously sent to a branch of the Church, several miles west of the Blue, that the mob were destroying property on the east side of the river, and the sufferers there wanted help to preserve lives and property. Nineteen men volunteered, and started to their assistance; but discovering that fifty or sixty of the mob had gathered at said Wilson's they turned back. At this time two small boys passed on their way to Wilson's who gave information to the mob, that the "Mormons" were on the road west of them. Between forty and fifty of the mob armed with guns, immediately started on horseback and on foot in pursuit; after riding about two or two and a half miles, they discovered them, when the said company of nineteen brethren immediately dispersed, and fled in different directions. The mob hunted them, turning their horses meantime into a corn field belonging to the Saints. Corn fields and houses were searched, the mob at the same time threatening women and children that they would pull down their houses and kill them if they did not tell where the men had fled. Thus they were employed in hunting the men and threatening the women, when a company of thirty of the brethren from the prairie, armed with seventeen guns, made their appearance.
The former company of nineteen had dispersed, and fled, and but one or two of them returned in the subsequent battle. On the approach of the latter company of thirty men, some of the mob Cried, "Fire, G-d-ye, fire." Two or three guns were then fired by the mob, which fire was returned by the other party without loss of time. This company is the same that is represented by the mob as having gone forth in the evening of the above incident bearing the olive branch of peace. The mob retreated immediately after the first fire, leaving some of their horses in Whitmer's corn field, and two of their number, Hugh L. Brazeale and Thomas Linvill dead on the ground. Thus fell Hugh L. Brazeale, who had been heard to say, "With ten fellows, I will wade to my knees in blood, but that I will drive the "Mormons" from Jackson county." The next morning the corpse of Brazeale was discovered on the battle ground with a gun by his side. Several were wounded on both sides, but none mortally among the brethren except Andrew Barber, who expired the next day. This attack of the mob was made about sunset, Monday, November the 4th; and the same night, runners were dispatched in every direction under pretense of calling out the militia; spreading every rumor calculated to alarm and excite the uninformed as they went; such as that the "Mormons" had taken Independence, and that the Indians had surrounded it, the "Mormons" and Indians being colleagued together.
The same evening, November 4th-not being satisfied with breaking open the store of Gilbert & Whitney, and demolishing a part of the dwelling house of said Gilbert the Friday night previous-the mob permitted the said McCarty, who was detected on Friday night as one of the breakers of the store doors, to take out a warrant, and arrest the said Gilbert and others of the Church, for a pretended assault, and false imprisonment of said McCarty. Late in the evening, while the court was proceeding with their trial in the court house, a gentleman unconnected with the court, as was believed, perceiving the prisoners to be without counsel and in imminent danger, advised brother Gilbert and his brethren, to go to jail as the only alternative to save life; for the north door of the court house was already barred, and an infuriated mob thronged the house, with a determination to beat and kill; but through the interposition of this gentleman (Samuel C. Owens, clerk of the county court, so it was afterwards learned), said Gilbert and four of his brethren were committed to the county jail of Jackson county, the dungeon of which must have been a palace compared with a court room where dignity and mercy were strangers, and naught but the wrath of man as manifested in horrid threats shocked the ears of the prisoners.
The same night, the prisoners, Gilbert, Morley, and Corrill, were liberated from the jail, that they might have an interview with their brethren, and try to negotiate some measures for peace; and on their return to jail about 2 o'clock, Tuesday morning, in the custody of the deputy sheriff, an armed force of six or seven men stood near the jail and hailed them. They were answered by the sheriff, who gave his name and the names of the prisoners, crying, "Don't fire, don't fire, the prisoners are in my charge." They, however, fired one or two guns, when Morley and Corrill retreated; but Gilbert stood, firmly held by the sheriff, while several guns were presented at him. Two, more desperate than the rest, attempted to shoot, but one of their guns flashed, and the other missed fire. Gilbert was then knocked down by Thomas Wilson, who was a grocer living at Independence. About this time a few of the inhabitants of the town arrived, and Gilbert again entered the jail, from which he, with three of his brethren, were liberated about sunrise, without further prosecution of the trial. William E. M'Lellin was one of the prisoners.
On the morning of the 5th of November, Independence began to be crowded with individuals from different parts of the county armed with guns and other weapons; and report said the militia had been called out under the sanction or at the instigation of Lieutenant Governor Boggs; and that one Colonel Pitcher had the command. Among this militia (so-called) were included the most conspicuous characters of the mob; and it may truly be said that the appearance of the ranks of this body was well calculated to excite suspicion of their horrible designs.
Very early on the same morning, several branches of the Church received intelligence that a number of their brethren were in prison, and the determination of the mob was to kill them; and that the branch of the Church near the town of Independence was in imminent danger, as the main body of the mob was gathered at that place. In this critical situation, about one hundred of the Saints, from different branches, volunteered for the protection of their brethren near Independence, and proceeded on the road towards Independence, and halted about one mile west of the town, where they awaited further information concerning the movements of the mob. They soon learned that the prisoners were not massacred, and that the mob had not fallen upon the branch of the Church near Independence, as had been reported. They were also informed, that the militia had been called out for their protection; but in this they placed little confidence, for the body congregated had every appearance of a mob; and subsequent events fully verified their suspicions.
On application to Colonel Pitcher, it was found that there was no alternative, but for the Church to leave the county forthwith, and deliver into his hands certain men to be tried for murder, said to have been committed by them in the battle, as he called it, of the previous evening. The arms of the Saints were also demanded by Colonel Pitcher. Among the committee appointed to receive the arms of the brethren were several of the most unrelenting of the old July mob committee, who had directed in the demolishing of the printing office, and the personal injuries inflicted on brethren that day, viz., Henry Chiles, Abner Staples, and Lewis Franklin, who had not ceased to pursue the Saints, from the first to the last, with feelings the most hostile.
These unexpected requisitions of the Colonel, made him appear like one standing at the head of both civil and military law, stretching his authority beyond the constitutional limits that regulate both civil and military power in our Republic. Rather than to have submitted to these unreasonable requirements, the Saints would have cheerfully shed their blood in defense of their rights, the liberties of their country and of their wives and children; but the fear of violating law, in resisting this pretended militia, and the flattering assurance of protection and honorable usage promised by Lieutenant Governor Boggs, in whom, up to this time, they had reposed confidence, induced the Saints to submit, believing that he did not tolerate so gross a violation of all law, as had been practiced in Jackson county. But as so glaringly exposed in the sequel, it was the design and craft of this man to rob an innocent people of their arms by stratagem, and leave more than one thousand defenseless men, women and children to be driven from their homes among strangers in a strange land to seek shelter from the stormy blast of winter. All earth and hell cannot deny that a baser knave, a greater traitor, and a more wholesale butcher, or murderer of mankind ever went untried, unpunished, and unhung-since hanging is the popular method of execution among the Gentiles in all countries professing Christianity, instead of blood for blood, according to the law of heaven. The conduct of Colonels Lucas and Pitcher, had long proven them to be open and avowed enemies of the Saints. Both of these men had their names attached to the mob circular, as early as the July previous, the object of which was to drive the Saints from Jackson county. But with assurances from the Lieutenant Governor and others that the object was to disarm the combatants on both sides, and that peace would be the result, the brethren surrendered their arms to the number of fifty or upwards.
The men present, who were accused of being in the battle the evening before, also gave themselves up for trial; but after detaining them one day and a night on a pretended trial for murder, in which time they were threatened and brick-batted, Colonel Pitcher, after receiving a watch of one of the prisoners to satisfy "costs of court," took them into a corn field, and said to them, "Clear!" [Meaning, of course, clear out, leave.]
After the Saints had surrendered their arms, which had been used only in self-defense, the tribes of Indians in time of war let loose upon women and children, could not have appeared more hideous and terrific, than did the companies of ruffians who went in various directions, well armed, on foot and on horseback, bursting into houses without fear, knowing the arms were secured; frightening distracted women with what they would do to their husbands if they could catch them; warning women and children to flee immediately, or they would tear their houses down over their heads, and massacre them before night. At the head of these companies appeared the Reverend Isaac McCoy, with a gun upon his shoulder, ordering the Saints to leave the county forthwith, and surrender what arms they had. Other pretended preachers of the Gospel took a conspicuous part in the persecution, calling the "Mormons" the "common enemy of mankind," and exulting in their afflictions.
On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the 5th and 6th of November, women and children fled in every direction before the merciless mob. One party of about one hundred and fifty women and children fled to the prairie, where they wandered for several days with only about six men to protect them. Other parties fled to the Missouri river, and took lodging for the night where they could find it. One Mr. Barnet opened his house for a night's shelter to a wandering company of distressed women and children, who were fleeing to the river. During this dispersion of the women and children, parties of the mob were hunting the men, firing upon some, tying up and whipping others, and pursuing others with horses for several miles.
Thursday, November 7th, the shores of the Missouri river began to be lined on both sides of the ferry, with men, women and children; goods, wagons, boxes, chests, and provisions; while the ferrymen were busily employed in crossing them over. When night again closed upon the Saints, the wilderness had much the appearance of a camp meeting. Hundreds of people were seen in every direction; some in tents, and some in the open air, around their fires, while the rain descended in torrents. Husbands were inquiring for their wives, and women for their husbands; parents for children, and children for parents. Some had the good fortune to escape with their families, household goods, and some provisions; while others knew not the fate of their friends, and had lost all their effects. The scene was indescribable, and would have melted the hearts of any people upon earth, except the blind oppressor, and the prejudiced and ignorant bigot. Next day the company increased, and they were chiefly engaged in felling small cottonwood trees, and erecting them into temporary cabins, so that when night came on, they had the appearance of a village of wigwams, and the night being clear, the occupants began to enjoy some degree of comfort.
Lieutenant Governor Boggs has been represented as merely a curious and disinterested observer of these events; yet he was evidently the head and front of the mob; for as may easily be seen by what follows, no important move was made without his sanction. He certainly was the secret mover in the affairs of the 20th and 23rd of July; and, as will appear in the sequel, by his authority the mob was converted into militia, to effect by stratagem what he knew, as well as his hellish host, could not be done by legal force. As Lieutenant Governor, he had only to wink, and the mob went from maltreatment to murder. The horrible calculations of this second Nero were often developed in a way that could not be mistaken. Early on the morning of the 5th, say at 1 o'clock a. m., he came to Phelps, Gilbert, and Partridge, and told them to flee for their lives. Now, unless he had given the order to murder no one would have attempted it, after the Church had agreed to go away. His conscience, however, seemed to vacillate at its moorings, and led him to give the secret alarm to these men.
The Saints who fled from Jackson county, took refuge in the neighboring counties, chiefly in Clay county, the inhabitants of which received them with some degree of kindness. Those who fled to the county of Van Buren were again driven, and compelled to flee, and these who fled to Lafayette county, were soon expelled, or the most of them, and had to move wherever they could find protection. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 1: 426 - 438)
DC 101:2 I, the lord, have suffered affliction to come upon them... in consequence of their transgressions
The Lord has told us in this book that he would scourge this people, and would not suffer them to go on in wickedness as he does the world. He will make a difference in this respect between those who profess his name and the world. The world may prosper. They have not the religion of Heaven among them; they have no revelators and prophets among them; they have not the baptism of the Holy Ghost, nor the gifts and blessings of God among them, and consequently though they transgress the revealed word of God, he suffers them to go on, apparently without checking them, until they are fully ripened in iniquity, then he sends forth judgment and cuts them off, instead of chastening them from time to time. Not so with the Saints. God has decreed, from the early rise of the Church, that we should be afflicted by our enemies, and by various afflictions, and he would contend with this people and chasten them from time to time until Zion should be clean before him. He has done this, and more especially while we were in the States. We were inexperienced, and did not then understand the necessity of strictly obeying every word spoken by the mouth of God, and we had to suffer because of this. (Journal of Discourses, 15:335)
DC 101:4 they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham
Abraham abhorred the idolatry of his youth. Some traditions tell how Terah, Abraham's father, would make idols and then force Abraham to sell them (Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham, 53). One of the most abhorrent practices of the time was the sacrifice of virgins to these dumb idols. Abraham himself almost fell prey to this wicked practice (Abr. 1:11-12). Never up to that time had the true God ever required human sacrifice. A loving, merciful God would have no reason to. Such was a practice of evil idol worshippers. Yet, of all the tests that Abraham was given, the Lord gave him the one test that must have been the most challenging-sacrificing his only son, a son by whom the promises were to be fulfilled, to the one true God. Abraham and Sarah had waited and hoped so long for a son. They gave God the credit for the child, but now God would require the unthinkable! He was to be sacrificed in his innocence and his youth, like the virgins at the hands of Pharaoh's priest!
When we think about what challenges we may face, we must realize that our chastening and our trial may be specifically designed to be the most difficult thing for us to do. We should expect no less. We might be surprised to find that no one else has ever been given that exact trial, yet if we are "tried, even as Abraham," we should expect a heart-wrenching, tailored trial.
George Q. Cannon
We are in an excellent position today, as we have been at many times in the past, to have our faith tested to the proof, to see whether we really have faith in God or not... From the beginning we have been taught to expect that our adherence to this Gospel might cost us everything that was near and dear to us upon the earth; that God designed to have a tried people, a people that should be tested to the very utmost, that should be felt after in the most trying manner, a people that would be willing to pass through and endure faithfully the most severe ordeals. And up to the present time those who have entered this Church, who have espoused the doctrines taught by the servants of God, have not been disappointed. (Journal of Discourses, 24:99-100)
This people will be tried more or less while they remain in the flesh; they may even be called as Abraham of old was to offer up that which is the most dear to them of all earthly objects for the Gospel's sake. Some have already forsaken all and followed Christ; they have left their children, their husbands, their wives, their brothers and sisters and dear friends, some hoping again to see them, and many never expecting to see them again in this life. We shall be tried in all things, and the Lord is now disposed to try us by calling upon us to be of one heart and of one mind, to submit to be guided and dictated, governed and controlled by Him through the constituted authorities of His kingdom. We should not consider this a trial above what we can bear. (Journal of Discourses, 12:164)
DC 101:5 all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified
Neal A. Maxwell
A basic purpose of chastening is to learn obedience. "And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer." (D&C 105:6.) We learn obedience by being obedient. In a revelation given through Brigham Young in 1847 we read, "My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom." (D&C 136:31.)
More hard doctrines! But they are given to us that we might know, obey, and endure.
We are told not to despise or resent, therefore, the chastening of the Lord. Paul said, "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him." (Hebrews 12:5.) He further observed, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12:11.) No wonder we must have eternal perspective to endure chastening, because there would seem to be little pleasure or joy in it and sometimes virtually no immediate understanding of why. But later! Later! For we so often get our witness only after the trial of our faith. (See Ether 12:6.) (Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 56)
Jeffrey R. Holland
No, it is not without a recognition of life's tempests but fully and directly because of them that I testify of God's love and the Savior's power to calm the storm. Always remember in that biblical story that He was out there on the water also, that He faced the worst of it right along with the newest and youngest and most fearful. Only one who has fought against those ominous waves is justified in telling us-as well as the sea-to "be still." Only one who has taken the full brunt of such adversity could ever be justified in telling us in such times to "be of good cheer." Such counsel is not a jaunty pep talk about the power of positive thinking, though positive thinking is much needed in the world. No, Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them. But even as the Lord avoids sugary rhetoric, He rebukes faithlessness and He deplores pessimism. He expects us to believe! ("An High Priest of Good Things to Come," Ensign, Nov. 1999, 36-37)
DC 101:6 there were... lustful and covetous desires among them
George A. Smith
There were... at that period, professed Latter-day Saints, who did not see proper to abide by [the] law of consecration; they thought it was their privilege to look after "number one," and some of them, believing that Zion was to become a very great city, and that being the Center Stake of it, they purchased tracts of land in the vicinity with the intention of keeping them until Zion became the beauty and joy of the whole earth, when they thought they could sell their lands and make themselves very rich. It was probably owing to this, in part, that the Lord suffered the enemies of Zion to rise against her. (Journal of Discourses, 17:59)
Did the people carry out this law (the law of consecration)? No. Why? Because they had imbibed the notions which had prevailed among the people of the whole earth, and these notions were in direct opposition to the order of heaven. The notions and traditions of the world were that every man must be for himself, every family for themselves, and they must labor with their might, mind and strength to gain all they possibly could gain, and use it only for themselves and their generations after them, caring nothing at all about their neighbors. These traditions had been instilled into our minds, and we were too full of covetousness and of false notions about property to carry out the law of God, and hence many, when they came up to Zion, looked abroad upon that beautiful, rich soil, and the excellent groves of timber, and the fine prairies and meadows, with springs breaking forth in numerous places, as they do in Jackson County, and their souls lusted after these things, and the rich man said, "No, I will not consecrate all my property, I will go to the General Land Office and purchase for myself, and I will buy largely in order that I may sell to my poor brethren when they come up here. I will buy land and speculate upon it, and make my fortune." That was the feeling which existed in the hearts of some of the Latter-day Saints. God saw this, and reproved us by revelation, and he said to the people in Jackson County, by the mouth of his servant Joseph, that if they did not repent of this covetousness he would pluck them up and send them out of Zion. (Journal of Discourses, 16:5)
Joseph Fielding Smith
Are we free from all covetousness? Do we refrain from desiring to possess unjustly the property of others? Have we permitted the lusts of the flesh and the desire to possess that which is not our honest due, to canker our souls? (Conference Report, April 1943, First Day-Morning Meeting 14.)
DC 101:7 In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel
"The Apostle Paul taught that 'the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.' (Gal. 5:22-23.)
"Not surprisingly, all of these delicious fruits were notably missing from my life. In fact, I was starving for them. An important reason was that I was not faithfully seeking the Spirit day by day, and the price I paid was constant turmoil and frustration.
"Another clue came one morning when I was having a 'bad day.' By 11:00 A.M., I still hadn't completed the basic household chores. In frustration, I went to my room to ask for Heavenly Father's help. As I knelt down beside my unmade bed, cynical thoughts came into my mind: 'Why am I praying? He never answers my prayers when I'm having troubled days. It doesn't seem to make a bit of difference.'
"I felt like giving up. I got up, then lay down on the bed in total discouragement. Without thinking, I reached for the scriptures, which were lying on the headboard. My mind retorted, 'Oh, yes, now read the scriptures. As if you don't have anything else to do.'
"My fingers turned the pages to section 101 of the Doctrine and Covenants. My eyes dropped to the seventh verse:
They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.
In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me. (D&C 101:7-8.)
"As I read those verses, my heart rejoiced that the Lord would give me this insight. Perhaps he could not help me on the bad days because I was not also praying on the good days.
"It was true. I sought his help only when I thought I needed his intervention, when in reality I needed his Spirit every day!
"For me, the most important insight in overcoming depression was this. When I have the Lord's Spirit with me, I have greater joy in my heart, whatever drudgeries and difficulties life may bring. And praying faithfully-on good days and bad is a key to making the blessings of the Spirit a more consistent part of my life." (Mollie H. Sorensen, "My Battle with Depression," Ensign, Feb. 1984, 14)
DC 101:8 in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me
James E. Talmage
The Latter-day Saints are largely a highly educated people, in the things of the Lord; nevertheless, we are not as well educated as we ought to be. We do not read enough, we do not study enough; we do not pray enough: or we would know more of the word of God and of his will concerning the people.
When trouble comes upon us, I admit that then we seek after him; and I think we are very much like the Saints in the early days of the Church; those who were persecuted in Missouri, while yet the Church had a center in Ohio. The Lord was telling the people in Ohio concerning his people in Missouri, their brethren, their brothers, members of their own households in many cases. He was telling them why the Saints in Zion or Missouri, had suffered as they had suffered: (quotes D&C 101: 2-8).
Many of us can't stand prosperity. We forget the Lord until we find ourselves in distress, and thereby we demonstrate that we are yet not wholly what we profess to be. (Conference Report, October 1921, Closing Session 189-190)
DC 101:10 I have sworn...that I would let fall the sword of mine indignation in behalf of my people
I have heard a great many tell about what they have suffered for Christ's sake. I am happy to say I never had occasion to. I have enjoyed a great deal; but so far as suffering goes I have compared it a great many times, in my feelings and before congregations, to a man wearing an old, worn-out, tattered and dirty coat, and somebody comes along and gives him one that is new, whole, and beautiful...
I never attributed the driving of the Saints from Jackson County to anything but that it was necessary to chasten them and prepare them to build up Zion. They were driven from Ohio to Missouri, from Missouri to Illinois, and from Illinois here, only for the advancement of Zion and the work of God on the earth. I do not complain of persecution. I have left a great deal of property in different States, considerable in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Do I care anything about it? No, we have more land here than we can occupy. God led us from a sickly to a healthy country, and I thank him for it. Were the Latter-day Saints driven time after time on account of their sins? One of the first revelations that God gave to Joseph Smith was for the gathering of Israel, and when the people came to Jackson County, Missouri, they were as far from believing and obeying that revelation as the east is from the west, and a great deal further, for the east joins the west; but the people were so far from obeying that revelation that they scarcely complied with it in one instance. They were ignorant and had neither eyes to see, ears to hear, nor hearts to understand, and God suffered their enemies to drive them. What were we driven for? Was it because of polygamy? No... The accusation brought against the Latter-day Saints was that they tampered with the slaves in Missouri, with the design of setting them free, and because of this the people were driven, and the Lord suffered it. But I ask did the Latter-day Saints ever suffer in Missouri as the Missourians did in the late struggle (The Civil War)? No, not a drop in a bucket compared with it. The Missourians have been driven from their houses and hung up, their property confiscated, their women and children murdered, and every conceivable evil has been heaped upon them. Did we ever suffer like that? In very few instances; and it is a shame for the Latter-day Saints ever to talk about suffering. (Journal of Discourses, 13:147-148)
DC 101:15 all they who have given their lives for my name shall be crowned
The First Presidency
In the midst of the troublous times in Missouri, Edward Partridge acted a most noble, and self-sacrificing part, and bore many indignities with the greatest patience. He was taken to the public square of Independence, partly stripped of his clothing, and bedaubed with tar and feathers, amid the jeers of the mob. He neither complained nor murmured at this treatment, but bore it well, with meekness and dignity. He was one with five others to offer himself as a ransom for the Church "Willing to be scourged or even put to death," if that would but satisfy the tormentors of the Saints, and stop the inhuman cruelties practiced towards them by the Missourians. He was also active in settling the Saints in upper Missouri, in 1836-8. He shared in all the labors and hardships incident to the settlement of a new country, and subsequently passed through the trials attendant upon the exodus of the Saints from Missouri. Who shall say that his repentance, his sacrifices, his sufferings and faithfulness did not procure for him a mitigation of the severe judgment decreed against him in the revelation contained in the eighty-fifth section of the Doctrine and Covenants? At any rate, the Lord said, some three years later, that he was well pleased with Edward Partridge. The word of the Lord came to the Prophet to this effect, on the 7th of November, 1835:
Behold, I am well pleased with my servant Isaac Morley, and my servant Edward Partridge, because of the integrity of their hearts in laboring in my vineyard, for the salvation of the souls of men. Verify I say unto you, their sins are forgiven them, therefore, say unto them in my name, that it is my will that they should tarry for a little season, (in Kirtland) and attend the school and also the solemn assembly, for a wise purpose in me. Even so. Amen. (History of the Church, Vol. II, pp. 302-3.)
Certainly in the face of this plain statement of the Lord's that the sins of Edward Partridge were forgiven him, we do not feel that his sad and early death was [a tragedy]. (JOSEPH F. SMITH, JOHN R. WINDER, ANTHON H. LUND, Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols., comp. by James R. Clark, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 4: 117.)
DC 101:16 be still and know that I am God
Gordon B. Hinckley
Recently while wrestling in my mind with a problem I thought to be of serious consequence I went to my knees in prayer. There came into my mind a feeling of peace and the words of the Lord, "Be still and know that I am God." I turned to the scripture and read this reassuring statement spoken to the Prophet Joseph Smith 150 years ago: "Let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God." (D&C 101:16.)
God is weaving his tapestry according to his own grand design. All flesh is in his hands. It is not our prerogative to counsel him. It is our responsibility and our opportunity to be at peace in our minds and in our hearts, and to know that he is God, that this is his work, and that he will not permit it to fail.
We have no need to fear. We have no need to worry. We have no need to speculate. Our imperative need is to be found doing our duty individually in the callings which have come to us. And because, for the most part, the Latter-day Saints are walking in faith and working with conviction, the Church is consistently growing ever stronger. ("He Slumbers Not, nor Sleeps," Ensign, May 1983, 6)
Jeffrey R. Holland
Things will work out. Keep trying. Be believing. Be happy. Don't get discouraged. Things will work out. ("President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands," Ensign, June 1995, 12)
DC 101:17-18 Zion shall not be moved out of her place... [the] pure in heart, shall return
Mark E. Petersen
The Saints were forced to leave their Zion. Were the plans of the Lord then to be frustrated? No! They never are! But in this, as in other instances where the people have disobeyed, he simply postponed his plans. And so he said: "Therefore, in consequence of the transgressions of my people, it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion." (D&C 105:9.)
So all was postponed: the building of the city, the construction of the great temple, the gathering of the people to that place. The promises that had been made were for the time being suspended.
But all this was only a postponement. Otherwise, plans were not changed. "Zion shall not be moved out of her place," the Lord promised; the Saints will yet return "to build up the waste places of Zion-And all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled. And, behold, there is none other place appointed; neither shall there be any other place appointed. . . ." (D&C 101:17-20.)
So in the Lord's own time the city will yet rise in its glory. In the Lord's own time his temple will yet be erected. A new generation will be allowed to carry on instead of those who began it, but who, "because of transgression," were not permitted to continue it. Transgressors cannot build the city of Zion nor its temple, for "Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself." (D&C 105:5. Italics added.)
But Jackson County-in the United States-is still the place for it, and its development will be a part of the future destiny of America. (The Great Prologue [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975], 110)
George A. Smith
From that hour [when the saints were driven out of Jackson County] the heart of every Latter-day Saint has been occasionally warmed with the feeling-may I be permitted to live until the day when the Saints shall again go to Jackson County, when they shall build the Temple, the ground for which was dedicated, and when the Order of Zion, as it was then revealed, shall be carried out! And it has been generally understood among us that the redemption of Zion would not occur upon any other principle than upon that of the law of consecration. (Journal of Discourses, 17:59)
DC 101:21 then I have other places... and they shall be called stakes
"Yet even before the Saints were expelled from Missouri, the Lord provided through the Prophet Joseph Smith an even broader vision of Zion. In 1832 the Prophet was told, 'Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged' (D&C 82:14; emphasis added). Then in 1844, while the Saints were living in Illinois, the Prophet Joseph Smith boldly declared: 'You know there has been great discussion in relation to Zion-where it is, and where the gathering of the dispensation is, and which I am now going to tell you. ... The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south.'
"When the Prophet announced this remarkable view, it must have been stirring to the Saints. It foreshadowed the most expansive concept of Zion: many stakes spreading over the earth as multiple gathering places for faithful Church members. In 1833, during the time that the Saints were being expelled from Jackson County, Missouri, the Lord offered a glimpse of this broad vision of Zion. He revealed to the Prophet Joseph that the day would come when there would be 'no more room' for the Saints in Missouri; 'and then I have other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion' (D&C 101:21; emphasis added). In the dedicatory prayer on the Kirtland Temple in 1836, there was a plea that new converts to the Church 'may come forth to Zion, or to her stakes' (D&C 109:39; emphasis added). Two years later, another revelation taught 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' (D&C 115:6; emphasis added).
"More recently, President Spencer W. Kimball underscored this important doctrine: 'The First Presidency and the Twelve see great wisdom in the multiple Zions, many gathering places where the Saints within their own culture and nation can act as a leaven in the building of the kingdom.'
"What, then, do we know relative to the future of Zion? Elder McConkie taught: 'Let Israel gather to the stakes of Zion in all nations. Let every land be a Zion to those appointed to dwell there. ... But still there is a center place, a place where the chief temple shall stand. ... And that center place is what men now call Independence in Jackson County, Missouri.' On another occasion he wrote: 'The return to Jackson County will be by delegates, as it were. Those whose services are needed there will assemble as appointed. The rest of Israel will remain in their appointed places.'" (Arnold K. Garr, "Growing with a Living Church," Ensign, Oct. 1996, 29-30)
DC 101:22 gather together, and stand in holy places
Harold B. Lee
Thus, the Lord has clearly placed the responsibility for directing the work of gathering in the hands of the leaders of the Church, to whom He will reveal His will where and when such gatherings would take place in the future. It would be well, before the frightening events concerning the fulfillment of all God's promises and predictions are upon us, that the Saints in every land prepare themselves and look forward to the instruction that shall come to them from the First Presidency of this church as to where they shall be gathered. They should not be disturbed in their feelings until such instruction is given to them as it is revealed by the Lord to the proper authority. (Ye Are the Light of the World: Selected Sermons and Writings of Harold B. Lee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974], chap. 20)
DC 101:23 prepare for the revelation which is to come...and all flesh shall see me together
Regarding the Second Coming, the Master warned, "if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not" (Matt. 24:23). Yet, many religious sects have claimed that the Second Coming has already occurred. The most prominent today is the Jehovah's Witnesses. They teach that the manifestation of Christ may not be visible, but he has returned. The transition to a millennial paradise will occur-the transition will be gradual. What do the scriptures say about such a doctrine? They say that "all flesh shall see me together." This is a Biblical doctrine as well (see Isa. 40:5, Acts 1:11). The change to a millennial condition will not be gradual but quick, dramatic, and apocalyptic. After the Second Coming, all will know that something amazing has happened.
Jesus will come in a cloud, or as is expressed here in the 40th chapter of Isaiah-"The glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.'' It is also expressed in the revelations of St. John, that when he comes in a cloud every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him. [Rev. 1:7.] It seems then that the second advent of the Son of God is to be something . . . accompanied with great power and glory, something that will not be done in a small portion of the earth like Palestine, and seen only by a few; but it will be an event that will be seen by all-all flesh shall see the glory of the Lord; when he reveals himself the second time, every eye, not only those living at that time in the flesh, in mortality on the earth, but also the very dead themselves, they also who pierced him, those who lived eighteen hundred years ago, who were engaged in the cruel act of piercing his hands and his feet and his side, will also see him at that time. (Journal of Discourses, March 26, 1876, 18:170)
DC 101:24 every corruptible thing... shall be consumed
"As I understand this scripture, it means that the elements of corruption that have come into the world because of the Fall of Adam-these corrupt elements that bring decay, disintegration and death-will be purged and destroyed by the manifestation of Christ's glory, when He comes. Hence, there will be no death, in the sense of the body's disintegration. Men will not grow old so as to become bent and broken in body, but they will blossom in perpetual youth. There will, however, be a transition in which the person who is old in years will be changed from the millennial state to the state of resurrected life, where the fuller powers of celestial glory are organized into man." (Hyrum L. Andrus, The Glory of God and Man's Relation to Deity [Provo: BYU Extension Publications, 1964], 16)
DC 101:25 that of element shall melt with fervent heat; and all things shall become new
"This consuming fire will come by the manifestation of Christ's glory. When the veil is taken away, the powers of intelligence that center in Him will be manifest to such extent that the elements will melt with fervent heat and the mountains will flow down at his presence. This has no reference to thermonuclear bombs, but the revelation of Christ's glory. The Doctrine and Covenants continues:
And also that of element shall melt with fervent heat; and all things shall become new, that my knowledge and glory may dwell upon all the earth. (D&C 101:25.)
"This burning is not just a bonfire, but a purifying fire. It will purify the earth, says the Lord, 'that my knowledge and glory may dwell upon all the earth.' His glory will then be visibly manifest during the millennial reign. This is a real fulfillment of Joel's prophecy, where the Spirit of the Lord is poured out upon all flesh. As of end result the Lord says, 'And in that day the enmity of man and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh shall cease from before my face.' (D&C 101:26.) These things will be realized as the result of the influence of God's pure intelligence or glory, manifesting the attributes of love, peace, calmness and serenity; and under its influence enmity will be taken from the face of the earth." (Hyrum L. Andrus, Distinct Doctrines and Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price , 79)
DC 101:28 Satan shall not have power to tempt any man
Joseph Fielding Smith
It will make a great difference when Satan will have his power taken away during that period, but the inhabitants of the earth will still have their agency. We are taught that during that thousand years, men will not be compelled to believe and that there will be many, at least in the beginning, who will belong to the Protestant and Catholic churches. The Lord will not take away from them their right to believe as they will. However, if they persist in their unbelief under the conditions which will prevail, they will be condemned. Before that period is over all will have received the truth. We read again from Isaiah: They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11: 9.) (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 5: 144)
George Q. Cannon
We must take a course that will result in the binding of Satan; for God will bind him, and he will not have power in the earth. And those who seek for and cultivated that spirit will live to see that day and be participators therein; if not in the flesh, they will in the spirit; and their children after them. But men and women who give way to the spirit of Satan will not be permitted to dwell on this earth when it is a heaven-at least, not where Christ is. Our wish is to make the earth a heaven. Satan has made it almost a hell for hundreds and thousands of years. He has succeeded in carrying his operations into effect until he has killed off everyone that would oppose him. Every man that had revelation from God he destroyed. And he would kill us, too. He has shed the blood of Prophets and Apostles and righteous men in this generation; and he would continue to do it until he wiped the whole Church of Christ and every element opposed to him from the face of the earth; but God has made promises to this people, and those promises will be fulfilled. He has promised that Satan shall not have power to destroy this people, and all heaven is bound by that promise and is laboring to that end. Therefore, let us do our part to make this earth a heaven, and to seek to prepare it for the coming of the Lord Jesus, who will certainly come. The heavens cannot hold Him, because it has been decreed that He shall come. Then destruction will be meted out to the wicked and the ungodly; but the righteous will be preserved. That is the promise of God, and it will be fulfilled. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 5, Dec. 12, 1897)
DC 101:31 when he dies he shall not sleep... but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye
"In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord has revealed... important truths about the resurrection of mankind. First, those who live during the Millennium will not die as we know death now; they will be changed from mortality to immortality in the "twinkling of an eye." This transformation is millennial or paradisiacal life followed by an instantaneous resurrection. They will not spend even a moment in a grave." (Robert J. Woodford, "The Remarkable Doctrine and Covenants," Ensign, Jan. 1997, 46)
Joseph Fielding Smith
So during the Millennium there will be no death. Children will not die. Disease will be banished. This is part of the restoration. But that child, when it has reached a certain age, the age of a tree, a hundred years we read in Isaiah, will be changed like that. It will die when it is old. It will pass from the mortal to the immortal state, suddenly and so they will not need to make graves, and that is bringing us back again to that original condition just as near as we can. Of course, the Lord could not at that time do away with mortality. We have got to have mortals upon the earth. All during the Millennium we have got to have mortals here to do the work for those who have passed on because they cannot do the work for themselves in the Temple. All these ordinances pertain to the mortal life. (Signs of the Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1952], 37)
Bruce R. McConkie
It is from the Book of Mormon account relative to the Three Nephites that we gain our greatest scriptural knowledge about translated beings. Jesus told them: "Ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven. And ye shall never endure the pains of death; but when I shall come in my glory ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality; and then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father." Similarly, the faithful saints who are alive when the Lord comes, and who are caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven, shall be quickened. Their bodies shall be changed from mortality as we know it to a millennial-type mortality, to the type of mortality possessed by translated beings. Those who are born during the Millennium will enjoy this same quickened state, and all of them, each in his order, will be changed in the twinkling of an eye to his resurrected and immortal state when he becomes one hundred years of age.
"And again, ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh," the Lord Jesus promised them, "neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world." (3 Ne. 28:7-9) Similarly, pain and sorrow, tears and weeping, and the anguish and sadness of our day-all these shall cease in the millennial day. Our revelation says simply: "And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death." (D&C 101:29.) Isaiah promised: "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces." (Isa. 25:8.) And to Isaiah the Lord said: "Be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying." (Isa. 65:18-19.) And from the pen of the Revelator we learn: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Rev. 21:4.) (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 648)
DC 101:32-34 when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things... hidden things... Things most precious
What mystery would you like solved? Personally, I would like to know what really killed off the dinosaurs. When did they live on the earth? Was Tyrannosaurus Rex really an aggressive predator? And who conspired to kill John F. Kennedy? How many times have aliens actually visited our earth and what were they here for?
What have the three Nephites been doing for the last 2000 years? What was Judas Iscariot thinking on the fateful night of the Last Supper? Why do some individuals suffer so much more than others? Other than the Council in Heaven, what else happened in the pre-mortal sphere?
All these questions and a thousand more will be revealed to the faithful in the Millennium. Indeed, there is:
A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.
All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars-
All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months, and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times- (D&C 121:28-31)
Bruce R. McConkie
Our knowledge about the Creation is limited. We do not know the how and why and when of all things. Our finite limitations are such that we could not comprehend them if they were revealed to us in all their glory, fulness, and perfection. What has been revealed is that portion of the Lord's eternal word which we must believe and understand if we are to envision the truth about the Fall and the Atonement and thus become heirs of salvation. This is all we are obligated to know in our day.
In a future day the Lord will expect more of his Saints in this regard than he does of us. "When the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things," our latter-day revelations tell us-"Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof." (D&C 101:32-33.) Pending that Millennial day it is our responsibility to believe and accept that portion of the truth about the Creation that has been dispensed to us in our dispensation. ("Christ and the Creation," Ensign, June 1982, 10)
Bruce R. McConkie
We have not received, by any means, all of the word of the Lord. I think we have received most of the word of the Lord that is required until the Second Coming. The Lord has given all that people in the world have the spiritual capacity to receive at this time. There is going to be another great dispensation, that is, another great period of enlightenment, when he comes; and at that time he will reveal all things, such as the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. But he will not reveal the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon now, and let us publish it to the world, because what it contains is so far beyond the spiritual capacity of men that it would drive people away from the truth rather than lead them to the truth. Actually, it is an act of mercy for the Lord to limit, to a particular people, the amount of revelation they receive. ("This Generation Shall Have My Word through You," Ensign, June 1980, 58)
DC 101:37 care not for the body
Our culture is probably more body conscious than any preceding generation. We are a society of image where looking good is the currency. I have often wondered how well the words of Paul would be received in the local gym. How about placing a large sign above all the mirrors which reads, "bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things" (1 Tim. 4:8)? The overemphasis of the physical occurs commonly among the Latter-day Saints. Apparently, we are not free from vanity-just ask the plastic surgeons who practice among us.
What is the body compared with the mind? Just nothing at all comparatively speaking. Hence the Savior says, in one of the new revelations, "Care not for the body, nor for the life of the body, but care for the soul, and the life of the soul." Again, the Savior says to his Apostles, Why take ye thought for raiment, what ye shall eat, what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." The body is of but little worth compared with that being which dwells within the body... it is the spirit, then, that possesses all... feelings and sensations of joy; happiness, pain, or misery. And when we speak about the dissolution, and death of the body, it is only the crumbling back of these coarser materials of earth, but the intellectual being lives, and will enjoy happiness to a greater extent. It is only our transition state, as it were, like some worms that creep out of their shells in the form of a butterfly; instead of crawling around like a snail, they burst their shells, they take the wings of the morning, and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth; not only their sphere of knowledge is extended, but their power of locomotion; so it will be when we burst these mortal shells. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 3: 104)
Instead of exercising so great an anxiety as to where we shall get a little flour, a little corn meal, a few potatoes, or a little beef with which to nourish these bodies, our enquiries should be, are our hearts right before the Lord our God, are we keeping His commandments, are we living up to our privileges, do we esteem all the words of the Lord as we ought, or are we a little careless and indifferent?
Every person ought to have those ideas foremost in their minds, for the Lord has told us that it is His business to provide for His Saints. At the same time it is necessary that we should be diligent, and endeavour to do our best to do His will in all things, and to find out what His will is concerning us, that we may be able to do it. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 3: 292.)
DC 101:37 care for the soul, and for the life of the soul
Robert D. Hales
While I was lying in my hospital bed and for several weeks at home, my physical activity was severely restricted by intense pain which disabled my weakened body, but I learned the joy of freeing my mind to ponder the meaning of life and the eternities. Since my calendar was wiped clean of meetings, tasks, and appointments, for a number of weeks I was able to turn my attention away from matters of administration to matters of the eternities. The Lord has told us, "Let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds" (D&C 43:34). I discovered that if I dwelt only upon my pain, it inhibited the healing process. I found that pondering was a very important element in the healing process for both soul and body. Pain brings you to a humility that allows you to ponder. It is an experience I am grateful to have endured.
I pondered deeply the purpose of pain and studied in my mind what I could learn from my experience and began to comprehend pain a little better. I learned that the physical pain and the healing of the body after major surgery are remarkably similar to the spiritual pain and the healing of the soul in the process of repentance. "Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul" (D&C 101:37).
I have come to understand how useless it is to dwell on the whys, what ifs, and if onlys for which there likely will be given no answers in mortality. To receive the Lord's comfort, we must exercise faith. The questions Why me? Why our family? Why now? are usually unanswerable questions. These questions detract from our spirituality and can destroy our faith. We need to spend our time and energy building our faith by turning to the Lord and asking for strength to overcome the pains and trials of this world and to endure to the end for greater understanding. ("Healing Soul and Body," Ensign, Nov. 1998, 14-15)
DC 101:38 seek the face of the Lord always
Bruce R. McConkie
It is his will that we gain testimonies, that we seek revelation, that we covet to prophesy, that we desire spiritual gifts, and that we seek the face of the Lord.
The Lord wants all his children to gain light and truth and knowledge from on high. It is his will that we pierce the veil and rend the heavens and see the visions of eternity.
By his own mouth he has given us this promise: "It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am" (D&C 93:1).
Such is his promise to us here and now while we yet dwell as mortals in a world of sorrow and sin. It is our privilege even now-the privilege of all who hold the holy priesthood-if we will strip ourselves from jealousies and fears and humble ourselves before him, as he has said, to have the veil rent and see him and know that he is. (See D&C 67:10.) ("Thou Shalt Receive Revelation," Ensign, Nov. 1978, 61)
DC 101:39 the salt of the earth and the savor of men
Carlos E. Asay
In 1833 Joseph Smith received a revelation which included these instructions: "When men are called into mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;
"They are called to be the savor of men" (D&C 101:39-40; italics added).
The word savor (s-a-v-o-r) denotes taste, pleasing flavor, interesting quality, and high repute.
The salt in container A, which I am holding in my right hand, has savor. That is, it is clean, pure, uncontaminated, and useful. In this state or condition, salt will preserve, flavor, heal, and perform other useful functions.
The salt in container B, however, is salt that has lost its savor. It has lost its savor because it has been mixed with things of bad taste. In fact, it has taken on some of the color and appearance of other substances.
When the Lord used the expression "savor of men," he was speaking of those who represent him. He was referring to those who have repented, who have been washed clean in the waters of baptism, and who have covenanted to take upon them his name and his cause. Moreover, he was speaking of those who would share by covenant his priesthood power. He was speaking of you and me.
A world-renowned chemist told me that salt will not lose its savor with age. Savor is lost through mixture and contamination. Similarly, priesthood power does not dissipate with age; it, too, is lost through mixture and contamination. ("Salt of the Earth: Savor of Men and Saviors of Men," Ensign, May 1980, 42)
Dallin H. Oaks
To perform our covenant duty as the salt of the earth, we must be different from those around us.
As Jesus taught: "I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men" (3 Ne. 12:13; see also Matt. 5:13; D&C 101:40).
This requires us to make some changes from our family culture, our ethnic culture, or our national culture. We must change all elements of our behavior that are in conflict with gospel commandments, covenants, and culture. ("Repentance and Change," Ensign, Nov 2003, 37)
DC 101:43-62 The Parable of the Nobleman and his Vineyard
This parable is given to explain why the saints in Jackson County suffered persecution and affliction. Interestingly, the Lord is speaking to his faithful saints and still uses parables to illustrate his point.
Choice spot of land
Land of Zion
12 olive trees
12 tribes of Israel to be established in Zion
Leadership and saints called to settle Zion
Planting the vineyard
Building a Tower
Building a temple
Build a hedge round about
Obedience to leadership
Servant spoken of (D&C 101:55)
DC 101:44 upon this very choice piece of land... plant twelve olive-trees
The fruit of the olive tree is the righteousness of the saints. Olive trees always represent the House of Israel. How will olive trees be planted in this choice land? Although Zion is to be the special gathering place for the descendants of Joseph, New Jerusalem will also be the gathering place of faithful saints from all 12 tribes of the house of Israel. To this city, will the lost 10 tribes come (D&C 42:9; 133:26-32). Then, the Lord will glean natural fruit from his vineyard according to his word (Jacob 5:74-75).
DC 101:47-50 what need hath my lord of this tower?
The saints in Zion did not understand the significance of the Lord's command to build a temple (D&C 97:10). In 1833, they really had no conception of the importance of temple work in this dispensation. They questioned the judgment of the Nobleman. They began to murmur.
H. Ross Workman
Why did the servants fail to build the tower? The seeds of the disaster were planted by murmuring.
According to the Lord's parable, murmuring consists of three steps, each leading to the next in a descending path to disobedience.
First, the servants began to question. They felt to exercise their own judgment upon the instruction given by their master. "What need hath my lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace?" they said (D&C 101:48). They questioned first in their own minds and then planted questions in the minds of others. Questioning came first.
Second, they began to rationalize and excuse themselves from doing what they had been instructed to do. They said: "Might not this money be given to the exchangers? For there is no need of these things" (D&C 101:49). Thus, they made an excuse for disobedience.
The third step inevitably follows: slothfulness in following the commandment of the Master. The parable says, "They became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord" (D&C 101:50). Thus, the stage was set for disaster.
God has blessed His children with prophets to instruct them in His ways and prepare them for eternal life. The ways of God are not easily understood by man. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord" (Isa. 55:8). Obedience is essential to realize the blessings of the Lord, even if the purpose of the commandment is not understood.
The adversary whispers the deceptive invitation to murmur to thus destroy the power that comes from obedience. (H. Ross Workman, "Beware of Murmuring," Ensign, Nov 2001, 85)
Mark E. Petersen
And always when the servants in the vineyard begin to say that the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard are unnecessary, that there is no need for these things, then they become slothful and they hearken not unto the commandments of the Lord, their God. (Conference Report, October 1953, pp. 74-77)
DC 101:51 the enemy came by night and broke down the hedge... and... destroyed their works
"The temple... site had been dedicated more than two years earlier... Beyond laying out stones and logs to mark the foundation site, however, the saints in Zion made no effort to build the temple that would have protected them in times of trial. Instead, they attempted to establish Zion without building a temple, and they put their resources into other enterprises instead. This led first to arguing, then to laziness, and then to breaking the commandments (see v. 50). At that point, the Lord allowed the mobs to descend upon them, first in July and then again in November 1833, and the Missouri Saints, whose watchmen were seemingly asleep on duty (see v. 53), found themselves defenseless and unprepared. (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 3:277)
DC 101:53 Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you?
"The result of disobedience, disharmony, and consulting among themselves (or heeding their own counsel) was the loss of the choice piece of land and the olive trees, when 'the enemy [Satan]' came. The lesson the Lord drew from this parable is plainly explained in verses 53 and 54. The Lord asked of his Saints a question and then supplied the answer. 'Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you?' (D&C 101:53.) If they had followed his counsel, 'the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer.' (D&C 101:54; italics added.)
"Even at this point the Lord held out hope for the Saints. Zion could still be redeemed, if they had finally learned the lesson of obedience. Counsel was again given. The Saints were to gather together all the means they could and continue to purchase lands in Jackson County. The persecution of the Saints made this counsel appear unwise. Nevertheless, it was given. A command was also given to the Church members in the east. They were to gather funds for the redemption of Zion. The Lord instructed his Saints that 'there is even now already in store sufficient, yea, even an abundance, to redeem Zion, and establish her waste places, no more to be thrown down, were the churches, who call themselves after my name, willing to hearken to my voice.' ("D&C 101:75.) A hint of the attitude of many of the Saints toward obeying the Lord's counsel through his prophet is easily seen in the last words of this verse. (S. Michael Wilcox in Doctrines for Exaltation: The 1989 Sperry Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants, ed. by Susan Easton Black et al., [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 258-259.)
DC 101:55-56 Go and gather together the residue of my servants... And go ye straightway unto the land
Certainly, Joseph Smith understood this parable as he received it. Certainly, he understood that he was the servant spoken of in verse 55. Certainly, he understood the commandment to gather men to redeem Zion. The Prophet's obedience to this command took the form of Zion's Camp.
DC 101:58 avenge me of mine enemies, that by and by I may come with the residue of mine house
.Joseph Fielding Smith
In this instruction the Lord gave them the opportunity to obtain the redemption of Zion and for the exiles to be reinstated in their possessions. Had they remained faithful he would have fulfilled his promise to them. They understood the warnings and that through their continued unfaithfulness the redemption would have to be postponed and they themselves would be thrown down. There have been some who have criticized this, and other revelations, claiming that the word of the Lord failed for He promised them that if they would gather their forces and go to Zion, he would fight their battles and they would be reinstated and the redemption would immediately come. This promise is not found in any of these revelations. To the contrary, the promise is made that they would have to be obedient in all things and keep inviolate their covenants, or these blessings would be indefinitely postponed. The fact that the Lord declared here once again, that the redemption was not to come until after much tribulation indicates that he was fully aware that the time for Zion's redemption had not come, although it could have come if the commandments were fulfilled. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 3: 19)
DC 101:62 after many days all things were fulfilled
We shall build the Zion of the Lord in peace until the servants of that Lord shall begin to lay the foundation of a great and high watch Tower... Even this Nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground and when the constitution is upon the brink of ruin this people will be the Staff upon which the Nation shall lean and they shall bear away the constitution away from the very verge of destruction-Then shall the Lord say, "go tell all my servants who are the strength of mine house my young men and middle aged & come to the Land of my vineyard and fight the battle of the Lord"-Then the Kings & Queens shall come then the rulers of the Earth shall come then shall all saints come; yea the Foreign saints shall come to fight for the Land of my vineyard... Brethren, come ye, yea come all of you who can come and go to with your mights and build up the cities of the Lord... for Zion and Jerusalem... must both be built up before the coming of Christ... How long will it take to do this? 10 years? Yes, more than 40 years will pass before this work will be accomplished and when these cities are built, then shall the coming of the Son of man be. (The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], 416 - 417.)
DC 101:65 I must gather together my people, according to the parable of the wheat and the tares
The end of the world is the destruction of the wicked, the harvest and the end of the world have an allusion directly to the human family in the last days, instead of the earth, as many have imagined; and that which shall precede the coming of the Son of Man, and the restitution of all things spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began; and the angels are to have something to do in this great work, for they are the reapers. As, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world; that is, as the servants of God go forth warning the nations, both priests and people, and as they harden their hearts and reject the light of truth, these first being delivered over to the buffetings of Satan, and the law and the testimony being closed up, as it was in the case of the Jews, they are left in darkness, and delivered over unto the day of burning; thus being bound up by their creeds, and their bands being made strong by their priests, are prepared for the fulfilment of the saying of the Savior-"The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." We understand that the work of gathering together of the wheat into barns, or garners, is to take place while the tares are being bound over, and preparing for the day of burning; that after the day of burnings, the righteous shall shine forth like the sun, in the Kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 100)
DC 101:65 I shall come in the kingdom of my Father to reward every man according as his work shall be
Who but those who have duly considered the condescension of the Father of our spirits, in providing a sacrifice for His creatures, a plan of redemption, a power of atonement, a scheme of salvation, having as its great objects, the bringing of men back into the presence of the King of heaven, crowning them in the celestial glory, and making them heirs with the Son to that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away-who but such can realize the importance of a perfect walk before all men, and a diligence in calling upon all men to partake of these blessings? How indescribably glorious are these things to mankind! Of a truth they may be considered tidings of great joy to all people; and tidings, too, that ought to fill the earth and cheer the heart of every one when sounded in his ears. The reflection that everyone is to receive according to his own diligence and perseverance while in the vineyard, ought to inspire everyone who is called to be a minister of these glad tidings, to so improve his talent that he may gain other talents, that when the Master sits down to take an account of the conduct of His servants, it may be said, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will now make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 47)
DC 101:70 purchase all the lands with money, which can be purchased
Our eyes are fixed upon a land on the western boundaries of the State of Missouri and the boundaries of the State of Kansas. We expect to go there just as much as we expect the sun will rise and set. We have no other expectation... We expect to own the land, too. How? By purchase. We expect to purchase the land that we have not already purchased. We have already purchased a great deal of land in Jackson County and Clay County, Missouri, and our purchases are on record if they have not destroyed the record; but we were driven from that land, from our farms and homes; our houses were burned down, our merchandise that we had in our store was taken and strewn through the street; our printing office-one of the most distant western offices in the Union-was also destroyed; the type was taken out and scattered through the streets; our hay stacks were burned, our cattle were shot down, and we were driven in the cold month of November from our houses and lands purchased of the general Government, and we fled before our enemies. "Well," says one, "are you not afraid to go back again to purchase land in that country when you were thus treated in the early settlement in 1833, when you were driven from your homes, some of you massacred, your property destroyed-are you not afraid to return?" O, I expect they are more civilized now. Do you think civilized people would murder now? Do you think they would drive people from their homes now? We may give them a chance to see. At any rate we shall fulfill our part, purchase the land, gather together upon our own purchased land, and we calculate to obey all the laws of the State of Missouri, and all the laws of the State of Kansas that are constitutional in their nature. But, says one, suppose the people should rise up and say you should not possess the land, what would you do? We would leave the matter in the hands of the Lord, just the same as we did at first when He led us by revelation to where the great central stake of Zion should be built. We went there because the Lord told us to go. We settled upon the very spot where the Lord commanded us... There... we expect to build a temple different from all other temples in some respects. It will be built much larger, cover a larger area of ground, far larger than this Tabernacle covers. (Journal of Discourses, October 26, 1879, 24:23-24)
DC 101:75 there is even now already in store sufficient... to redeem Zion
The Missouri saints were not well to do. They had barely the means to establish themselves in the frontier of Missouri. The Lord still commanded them to build a temple as if they had the money. It must have seemed impossible to them. Yet the Lord had money and resources at his disposal that could have redeemed Zion-clear back in 1833. He is a lot richer than we give him credit for. The lesson is that if the Lord asks us to do something, we should do it-even if we don't have the money. Why? Because he has the money! He has the wealth of many worlds at his disposal and can take care of our monetary needs if we have the faith.
The Latter-day Saints will see Zion when they stop seeking after Babylon. (Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], Introduction)
There are many causes of embarrassment, of a pecuniary nature now pressing upon the heads of the Church. They began poor; were needy, destitute, and were truly afflicted by their enemies; yet the Lord commanded them to go forth and preach the Gospel, to sacrifice their time, their talents, their good name, and jeopardize their lives; and in addition to this, they were to build a house for the Lord, and prepare for the gathering of the Saints. Thus it is easy to see this must [have] involved them [in financial difficulties]. They had no temporal means in the beginning commensurate with such an undertaking; but this work must be done; this place [Kirtland] had to be built up. Large contracts have been entered into for lands on all sides, where our enemies have signed away their rights. We are indebted to them, but our brethren from abroad have only to come with their money, take these contracts, relieve their brethren from the pecuniary embarrassments under which they now labor, and procure for themselves a peaceable place of rest among us. This place must and will be built up, and every brother that will take hold and help secure and discharge those contracts that have been made, shall be rich. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 2: 478 - 479)
We have to go forth with our hands and build up Zion. Zion will be built up; Zion will be redeemed, and she will arise and shine and put on her beautiful garments; she will break from off her neck her yoke, and she will be clothed with the glory of our God. (Journal of Discourses, April 6, 1878, 19:298)
DC 101:77 the laws and constitution of the people... I have suffered to be established
Joseph F. Smith
The Lord Almighty has prepared the way for the coming forth of the kingdom of God in this dispensation by establishing the republican government of the United States; a government affording the widest liberty and the greatest freedom to man that has ever been known to exist among men, outside of those governed by the direct communication of heaven. It was part of the design of the Almighty when He influenced our fathers to leave the old world and come to this continent; He had a hand in the establishment of this government; He inspired the framers of the Constitution and the fathers of this nation to contend for their liberties; and He did this upon natural principles, that the way might be prepared, and that it might be possible for Him to establish His kingdom upon the earth, no more to be thrown down. (Journal of Discourses, Feb. 6, 1881, 22:44-45)
DC 101:77 the laws... should be maintained... according to just and holy principles
Dean L. Larsen
By our very endowment as children of an Eternal Father, we have had implanted within our souls the urgency to be free. It is natural for us to want to be accountable for our own fates, because there is a whispering within us confirming that this accountability is absolutely essential to the attainment of our eternal destiny.
The existence of laws, regulations, and procedures has never been sufficient to compel men to obedience. Productive obedience comes through the exercise of free will. Elder Albert E. Bowen of the Quorum of the Twelve once said: "It is a truism that no law is any better than the people who administer it. Howsoever well framed a law may be or however worthy its purpose, it can degenerate into utter futility unless wisely administered by those sympathetic with its purposes" (The Church Welfare Plan, Sunday School manual, 1946, p. 115). ("Self-Accountability and Human Progress," Ensign, May 1980, 76)
DC 101:78 Moral agency
Semantic arguments tire some people. What does it matter? If you are one of those individuals, then you will not like this commentary. Nevertheless, many important principles can be gleaned from this discussion.
What are we getting at? The scriptures never use the term, "free agency." Never! Search the topical guide, scour the index, search a gospel library-the term is never used in the LDS cannon of scripture. The General Authorities used to use it because it became part of the vernacular of Mormonism, but they almost never use it now. It should lose its place in our language. Why?
The term, free agency, is an unfortunate combination of the philosophical idea of free will and the scriptural term of moral agency. Why can't we say free agency? Well, because our agency did not come free. The price was costly-a war in heaven was fought for agency and the price was a third of the host. Secondly, the term is incorrect because none of us are really free when we use our agency unwisely. When we exercise our agency and violate God's commandments, we are bound by the consequence of our sin. Therefore, we are only free if we always use our agency wisely. The truth can make us free only if we exercise our agency according to the truth. Otherwise we are in prison. Elder Russell M. Nelson said, "Freedom of choice cannot be exercised without accountability for choices made." ("Constancy amid Change," Ensign, Nov 1993, 33)
Boyd K. Packer
The phrase "free agency" does not appear in scripture. The only agency spoken of there is moral agency, "which," the Lord said, "I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment." ("Our Moral Environment," Ensign, May 1992, 66)
Boyd K. Packer
The agency granted to man is a moral agency. (See D&C 101:78.) We are not free to break our covenants and escape the consequences. ("Covenants," Ensign, Nov 1990, 84)
DC 101:80 for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land
"Washington firmly believed that God controlled human events. In both his public and private writings, he repeatedly discussed how God providentially helped the United States win its independence against incredible odds, create a unified country out of diverse and competing interests, establish a remarkable constitution, and avoid war with European powers that still had territorial ambitions in North America. Because God created and actively ruled the universe, Washington insisted, people must revere, worship, and obey him." (Dr. Gary Smith, http://www.linkedtopolitics.com/blog/4008/the_faith_of_george_washington.html)
The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations. (August 20, 1778) (http://www.nationalcenter.org/2003/12/hand-of-providence.html)
No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. (Washington's First Inaugural Address 30 April 1789, http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/inaugural/final.html)
[Remarks at the Constitutional Convention, June 1787] In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of dangers, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance?
I have lived, sir, a long time, and, the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth--that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." (Ps. 127:1) I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed, in this political building, no better than the builders of Babel. We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and by-word down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business. (The Records of the Federal Constitution, Farrand, 334-521)
Ezra Taft Benson
The Constitutional Convention gave birth to the document that Gladstone said is "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man." I heartily endorse this assessment. I would like to pay honor-honor to the document itself, honor to the men who framed it, and honor to the God who inspired it and made possible its coming forth. God Himself has borne witness to the fact that He is pleased with the final product of the work of these great patriots. (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 593)
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
What a group of men of surpassing abilities, attainments, experience, and achievements! There has not been another such group of men in all the one hundred seventy years of our history, no group that even challenged the supremacy of this group. (Conference Report, April 1957, Second Day-Morning Meeting 47)
Those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord. (Conference Report, April 1898, Afternoon Session)
The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun.
We, brethren, are deprived of the protection of its glorious principles, by the cruelty of the cruel, by those who only look for the time being, for pasturage like the beasts of the field, only to fill themselves; and forget that the "Mormons," as well as the Presbyterians, and those of every other class and description, have equal rights to partake of the fruits of the great tree of our national liberty. But notwithstanding we see what we see, and feel what we feel, and know what we know, yet that fruit is no less precious and delicious to our taste; we cannot be weaned from the milk, neither can we be driven from the breast; neither will we deny our religion because of the hand of oppression; but we will hold on until death.
We say that God is true; that the Constitution of the United States is true; that the Bible is true; that the Book of Mormon is true; that the Book of Covenants is true; that Christ is true; that the ministering angels sent forth from God are true, and that we know that we have an house not made with hands eternal in the heavens, whose builder and maker is God; a consolation which our oppressors cannot feel, when fortune, or fate, shall lay its iron hand on them as it has on us. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 147-148)
Ezra Taft Benson
It was His latter-day purpose to bring forth His gospel in America, not in any other place. It was in America where the Book of Mormon plates were deposited. That was no accident. It was His design. It was in this same America where they were brought to light by angelic ministry. It was here where He organized His modern Church, where He, Himself, made a modern personal appearance (see D&C 20:1; Joseph Smith-History 1:17).
It was here under a free government and a strong nation that protection was provided for His restored Church. (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 571)
DC 101:81 the parable of the woman and the unjust judge
This parable teaches an interesting lesson. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease," as the saying goes. The key element of this parable is that the judge has no regard for God or man. He is not judging on righteous principles. He doesn't care about doing the right thing. He doesn't care about the widow. The only reason he grants the widow's wish is because she keeps bothering him about the issue. If an apathetic judge grants the request of a wearying widow, then will not a merciful and loving Father in Heaven answer the prayers of his faithful saints?
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:10-13)
DC 101:86-88 Let them importune at the feet of the judge
This is my counsel, that you retain your lands, even unto the uttermost, and employ every lawful means to seek redress of your enemies; and pray to God, day and night, to return you in peace and in safety to the lands of your inheritance: and when the judge fail you, appeal unto the executive; and when the executive fail you, appeal unto the president; and when the president fail you, and all laws fail you, and the humanity of the people fail you, and all things else fail you but God alone, and you continue to weary Him with your importunings, as the poor woman did the unjust judge, He will not fail to execute judgment upon your enemies, and to avenge His own elect that cry unto Him day and night.
Behold, He will not fail you! He will come with ten thousand of His Saints, and all His adversaries shall be destroyed with the breath of His lips! All those who keep their inheritances, notwithstanding they should be beaten and driven, shall be likened unto the wise virgins who took oil in their lamps. But all those who are unbelieving and fearful, will be likened unto the foolish virgins, who took no oil in their lamps: and when they shall return and say unto the Saints, Give us of your lands-behold, there will be no room found for them. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 36)
"Did the Saints importune at the feet of the Judge and of the Governor? Yes, they did, in all humility and sincerity. What was the result? About the same as if you were to importune with the thief and robber to protect you from abuse and restore to you the stolen treasure. They heeded not the petition. Then importunity was made at the feet of the President, not only in writing, but also by the Prophet Joseph in person; and what did this avail? It elicited this answer:-'Your cause is just, but we can do nothing for you.' Sovereignties must manage their own affairs. Congress nor the Executive can interfere. So the President heeded them not." (Journal of Discourses, 5:141)
DC 101:89-91 then will the Lord arise... and in his fury vex the nation
"After the Mormons were driven from Jackson County, Missouri, Joseph Smith petitioned Governor Daniel Dunklin for redress. With the petition he sent a copy of a revelation that referred to anticipated consequences, should justice fail to be administered. Like documents were sent to the President of the United States, explained the Prophet, that the nation's leaders might 'read their destiny if they do not lend a helping hand.' The revelation admonished the Saints to appeal at the feet of the judge, of the governor, and, if necessary, of the President, concluding: 'And if the president heed them not, then will the Lord arise and come forth out of his hiding place, and in his fury vex the nation.'
"...With specific reference to Missouri's lot in the coming judgments, Joseph Smith declared, 'She shall drink out of the same cup, the same bitter dregs we have drunk, poured out, out, out! and that by the hand of an enemy-a race meaner than themselves.' From whence these troubles would come he could not say. They would not come from the Negroes or the Indians, he asserted, 'but as sure as God ever spoke by me that shall come to pass.' An associate who heard the prophecy accredited its fulfillment to 'the Bush-whackers or Guerrillas under Quantrill-a generation of vipers raised up mostly after that prophecy was uttered.'
"In a way the Mormons were caught in a dilemma. Their repeated petitions to state and federal authorities failed, due largely to widespread prejudice in Missouri and because the federal government was popularly considered by those who held the States' rights doctrine to be one of limited and specific powers. When the Saints wrote of their plight to the aspirants to the Presidency of the United States, in the campaign of 1844, not one would commit himself to uphold justice on its own merits. But if justice was not upheld, the nation would 'drink a drink offering, the bitterest dreg,' the Prophet commented. He then added, 'The States' rights doctrines are what feed mobs. They are a dead carcass-a stink, and they shall ascend up as a stink offering in the nose of the Almighty.'
"To John C. Calhoun, the Mormon leader directed a master treatise on the 'specific and not very limited powers' of the federal government. 'The powers not delegated to the United States and the States belong to the people,' he argued, 'and Congress sent to do the people's business have all power.' Again, Congress has power to protect the nation against foreign invasion and internal broil; and whenever that body passes an act to maintain right with any power, or to restore right to any portion of her citizens, it is the supreme law of the land; and should a state refuse submission, that state is guilty of insurrection or rebellion, and the President has as much power to repel it as Washington had to march against the whiskey boys at Pittsburgh [the Whiskey Rebellion], or General Jackson had to send an armed force to suppress the rebellion of South Carolina.
"In citing these and other powers reserved by the Constitution to the federal government, Joseph Smith, as Seitz later observed, 'laid down a dictum upon which Abraham Lincoln had to rest his cause sixteen years later.' Finally, the Mormon Prophet confronted Calhoun with the real issue, declaring:
...if the Latter-day Saints are not restored to all their rights and paid for all their losses, according to the known rules of justice and judgment, reciprocation and common honesty among men,... God will come out of His hiding place, and vex this nation with a sore vexation: yea, the consuming wrath of an offended God shall smoke through the nation with as much distress and woe as independence has blazed through with pleasure and delight. Where is the strength of Government? Where is the patriotism of a Washington, a Warren, and Adams? And where is a spark from the watch-fire of '76, by which one candle might be lit that would glimmer upon the confines of Democracy?"
(Hyrum L. Andrus, Anticipations of the Civil War in Mormon Thought [Provo: BYU Extension Publications, 1966], 10 - 11)
Brethren, the heavens are full of judgment. And as the Lord told the people at the commencement of this work, "If the nation will repent, if they will obey my law and keep my commandments, I, the Lord, will save these judgments; otherwise they shall be poured out, as I, the Lord, have spoken." These things are true. The judgments of God will increase from this hour, until the land is deluged in blood. War will overtake our nation. The civil war, the war between the North and the South, which laid in the dust nearly a million of men and cost the nation many hundred millions of dollars, was only the beginning of suffering. Had this nation listened to the counsels of Joseph Smith and heeded them, this war and the terrible suffering which it entailed would have been avoided. But the judgments of the Lord are not yet ended. He is going to fulfill His work. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 1, March 3rd, 1889)
DC 101:95 That I may proceed to bring to pass my act, my strange act, and perform my work, my strange work
Many have thought that the Book of Mormon is the "marvelous work and a wonder" mentioned in the scriptures. While it certainly is a marvelous work and a wonder, it is just the introduction of the Lord's plans for his earthly kingdom. The Lord will plead the case of the saints. He will increase his kingdom in power and glory. Already, we are beginning to see some of this happen. The Latter-day Saints are a powerful influence for good throughout the world. In disasters, the LDS frequently respond faster and more effectively than government institutions. As a church, our unity and financial resources make many people nervous.
The reputation of the church will increase in the world according to the Lord's plan to bring to pass his strange act. "That the kingdoms of this world may be constrained to acknowledge that the kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of our God and his Christ." (D&C 105:32) "For I, the Lord, have put forth my hand to exert the powers of heaven; ye cannot see it now, yet a little while and ye shall see it." (D&C 84:119)
We are God's people, God is our Father... we mean to go forward, and we will go on and on, for our motto is eternal progress. This kingdom will advance, the purposes of God will roll forward, and no power on this side of hell, or the other either, can stop it. God will sustain his people, and Israel will rejoice and be triumphant. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 15: 176 - 177)
DC 101:96 it is contrary to my commandment and my will that my servant Sidney Gilbert should sell my storehouse
If Sidney sold the storehouse by a legal transaction, the Lord could not hold accountable those who pillaged His storehouse. Sometimes the purpose of the Lord is to allow wickedness, "that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day" (Alma 14:11).
"As contention increased among Church members, the mobs in Jackson County gained power by playing upon the disunity among the Saints, finally driving them from their homes and the land of their inheritance. A mob that broke into the storehouse managed by A. S. Gilbert destroyed and threw much of the merchandise in the street. Gilbert was forced to abandon the storehouse as he fled from Jackson County. When the question arose as to the sale of the store, the Lord commanded Sidney Gilbert not to sell it. (D&C 101:96.) During the months that followed, Gilbert engineered a correspondence with Governor Dunklin of Missouri. He tried to secure the Saints' rights to the property they had previously owned in Jackson County. On 29 June 1834 he was attacked by cholera and died." (Clark V. Johnson, Doctrines for Exaltation: The 1989 Sperry Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 109 - 110)
DC 101:101 they shall plant vineyards, and they shall eat the fruit thereof
Heber C. Kimball
Brethren, I am telling the truth... It is the first time we ever eat peaches-that is, of our own raising, since we came into this Church; and it is the first time we ever eat apples; and it is the first time we ever were a free people.
Now we are living under the blessings the Prophets foretold. They said the time would come when we would sit under our own vine and fig trees, and our own peach trees and apple trees, and would eat; and that we should build, and another should not inhabit.
Brethren, our enemies never will inhabit these valleys if we do just as we are told from this time forth; and we will inhabit these valleys and will have power and victory over our enemies from this time henceforth and forever. (Journal of Discourses, October 18, 1857, 5:344)