DC 112 Historical Background
The spiritual highlight of the Kirtland period was undoubtedly the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. Unfortunately, the manifestation of the Lord in the temple was followed almost immediately with the manifestation of Satan's hard work among the saints. Church debt was plaguing the elders of the Church and Satan knew that the love of money is the root of all evil.
The solution, thought the Brethren, was that converted saints would move to Kirtland and bring their wealth to help relieve the burden. Church-owned lands could be sold to them as well. In August 1836, the Brethren travelled to Massachusetts in search of a rumored treasure there (see D&C 111). In spite of debt, the Prophet continued to think big; city building and kingdom building were still underway in Kirtland. In this environment of financial need, the elders of the church came up with the idea to establish their own banking institution. It would turn out to be one of the worst decisions they ever made.
Through the month of October (1836)... my attention was particularly directed to the building up of Kirtland, and the spiritual interests of the Church.
On the 2nd of November the brethren at Kirtland drew up certain articles of agreement, preparatory to the organization of a banking institution, to be called the "Kirtland Safety Society." President Oliver Cowdery was delegated to Philadelphia to procure plates for the institution; and Elder Orson Hyde to repair to Columbus with a petition to the legislature of Ohio, for an act of incorporation, which was presented at an early period of their session, but because we were "Mormons" the legislature raised some frivolous excuse on which they refused to grant us those banking privileges they so freely granted to others. Thus Elder Hyde was compelled to return without accomplishing the object of his mission, while Elder Cowdery succeeded at a great expense in procuring the plates, and bringing them to Kirtland. (History of the Church, 2:467-468)
In retrospect, without a charter from the legislature, the Brethren should not have proceeded in organizing the bank. The venture suffered legitimacy issues almost immediately.
"Like stores and mills, banks were multiplying in the 1830's. Twenty banks had been chartered in Ohio since 1830. In November 1836, Church leaders dispatched Cowdery to New York to purchase plates for printing currency, and Orson Hyde was sent to the state capitol in Columbus to apply for a charter. On November 2, the Kirtland Safety Society bank was organized and began selling stock. As usual, Joseph thought big. Capital stock was set at $4 million, though the roughly 200 stock purchasers put up only about $21,000 in cash. Heber C. Kimball subscribed for $50,000 in shares for only $15. The rest of the issue was secured by land. In actuality, the Safety Society was a partial 'land bank,' a device New Englanders had once resorted to in their cash-poor, land-rich society. Land bank notes, secured by the farms of participants, gave landowners liquidity to initiate commercial ventures when capital was lacking. Unfortunately, the hybrid Kirtland bank-based partly on land and partly on specie-set up expectations for redeeming notes in hard money.
"The disappointments began almost immediately. Cowdery brought back the plates and printed notes, but Hyde failed to obtain the charter from the Ohio legislature, which knew the pitfalls of underfunded banks. Hard-money Democrats saw the weakness in the Kirtland operation immediately. The Mormons adjusted by organizing themselves into an 'anti-banking company and spiting the legislature, stamped the word 'anti' before the word 'banking,' and began issuing notes.
"...In Kirtland, the bank failed within a month. Business started on January 2, 1837. Three weeks later, the bank was floundering. Skeptical (and perhaps mean-spirited) customers presented their notes for redemption, and the bank's pitiful supply of liquid capital was exhausted within days. On January 23, payment stopped. From then on, the value of the notes plummeted, falling to one-eighth of their face value by February. All the investors lost their capital, Joseph as much as anyone. He had bought more stock than eighty-five percent of the investors. As treasurer and secretary and signers of the notes, Joseph and Rigdon begged the note holders to keep them, promising that the economy would benefit. In June, faced with complete collapse, both resigned. In August, Joseph publicly disavowed the Kirtland notes in the Church newspaper. The bank staggered on until November (1837), long since moribund.
"...Everyone who accepted Safety Society notes at face value suffered from the collapse. Losses are estimated at $40,000, about the cost of the Kirtland temple. Mormons, who invested in the bank and trusted the notes, suffered most... Widespread apostasy resulted. The volatility in prices, the pressure to collect debts, the implication of bad faith were too much for some of the sturdiest believers. The stalwarts Parley and Orson Pratt faltered for a few months. David Patten, a leading apostle, raised so many insulting questions Joseph 'slapped him in the face & kicked him out of the yard.' Joseph's counselor Frederick G. Williams was alienated and removed from office. One of the Prophet's favorites, his clerk Warren Parrish, tried to depose him. Heber C. Kimball claimed that by June 1837 not twenty men in Kirtland believed Joseph was a prophet." (Richard Lyman Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, [New York: Random House, 2005], 329-332)
At this time the spirit of speculation in lands and property of all kinds, which was so prevalent throughout the whole nation, was taking deep root in the Church. As the fruits of this spirit, evil surmisings, fault-finding, disunion, dissension, and apostasy followed in quick succession, and it seemed as though all the powers of earth and hell were combining their influence in an especial manner to overthrow the Church at once, and make a final end. Other banking institutions refused the "Kirtland Safety Society's" notes. The enemy abroad, and apostates in our midst, united in their schemes, flour and provisions were turned towards other markets, and many became disaffected toward me as though I were the sole cause of those very evils I was most strenuously striving against, and which were actually brought upon us by the brethren not giving heed to my counsel.
No quorum in the Church was entirely exempt from the influence of those false spirits who are striving against me for the mastery; even some of the Twelve were so far lost to their high and responsible calling, as to begin to take sides, secretly, with the enemy. (History of the Church, 2:487-488)
Among those who were embittered against the Prophet at this time was Elder Parley P. Pratt, and of this incident in his experience he says: "About this time, (summer of 1837) after I had returned from Canada, there were jarrings and discords in the Church at Kirtland, and many fell away and became enemies and apostates. There were also envyings, lyings, strifes and divisions, which caused much trouble and sorrow. By such spirits I was also accused, misrepresented and abused. And at one time, I also was overcome by the same spirit in a great measure, and it seemed as if the very powers of darkness which war against the Saints were let loose upon me. But the Lord knew my faith, my zeal, my integrity of purpose, and He gave me the victory. I went to Brother Joseph Smith in tears, and, with a broken heart and contrite spirit, confessed wherein I had erred in spirit, murmured, or done or said amiss. He frankly forgave me, prayed for me and blessed me. Thus, by experience, I learned more fully to discern and to contrast the two spirits, and to resist the one and cleave to the other. And, being tempted in all points, even as others, I learned how to bear with, and excuse, and succor those who are tempted."-(Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 183-4). (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], 2:488)
Crucial to the background of D&C 112 is the understanding that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had not yet realized its full potential. None of the saints thought of the Twelve Apostles as a powerful governing quorum of authority, second only to the First Presidency. The Quorum was not well organized; its mission recently revealed and yet poorly understood. In the spring of 1837, the two most senior apostles, Thomas B. Marsh and David W. Patten resided in Missouri. The other 10 were in Kirtland amidst the financial debacle. With dissent and apostasy among the apostles, Elders Marsh and Patten came back to Kirtland for a meeting of the Quorum.
"Of the Twelve, Lyman Johnson and John Boynton came out in open rebellion, Luke Johnson and William McLellin became disaffected, and Orson Hyde and the Pratt brothers were temporarily estranged from the Prophet after publicly criticizing his leadership. When news of the problems reached the two senior apostles in Missouri, they hastened to Ohio, hoping to unite the Twelve behind the Prophet." (James B. Allen, Ronald K. Esplin, and David J. Whittaker, Men with a Mission, 1837-1841: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 22)
In this state of things, and but a few weeks before the Twelve were expecting to meet in full quorum (some of them having been absent for some time), God revealed to me that something new must be done for the salvation of His Church. And on or about the first of June, 1837, Heber C. Kimball, one of the Twelve, was set apart by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, prayer and laying on of hands, of the First Presidency, to preside over a mission to England, to be the first foreign mission of the Church of Christ in the last days. While we were about ordaining him, Orson Hyde, another of the Twelve, came in, and upon listening to what was passing, his heart melted within him, (for he had begun to drink of the cup filled with the overflowings of speculation), he acknowledged all his faults, asked forgiveness, and offered to accompany President Kimball on his mission to England. His offer was accepted, and he was set apart for that purpose. (History of the Church, 2:489)
When Thomas B. Marsh arrives in Kirtland, he finds out that the Prophet has called Heber C. Kimball on a mission to England. In fact, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Willard Richard, and Joseph Fielding left Kirtland June 13 and had arrived in Liverpool July 20th. Rather than rejoice at this news, Elder Marsh was offended. He presumed that as the senior apostle, he should be the one to go-or at least he should be the one to extend the calling to another quorum member. To his credit, Elder Marsh did not fall into apostasy regarding either financial matters or this moment of personal disappointment. He remained true to his purpose to unite the quorum. However, his personal concerns and misgivings are important in understanding the tone of the Lord's response to him in D&C 112.
"In the spring of 1837, while residing in Missouri, Marsh was experiencing frustration relative to his position as president of his quorum. Although an 1835 revelation (section 107) seemed to place his quorum next to the First Presidency in the Church government, in reality, the Presidency of the Church in Missouri (David Whitmer, William W. Phelps, and John Whitmer) and the two church high councils had retained their supremacy (having been organized before the Twelve) next to the First Presidency. Furthermore, Thomas lamented that his quorum had not maintained close contact since their 1835 mission to the Eastern States, nor had they been unified in fulfilling their divine calling as special missionaries. Of a more serious nature was news which had reached Marsh that members of his quorum had fallen into apostasy, and he was likewise mortified upon learning that Parley P. Pratt, one of his quorum, was planning a mission to England.
"On 10 May 1837, Marsh and David W. Patten, first and second respectively in seniority among the Twelve, and both residing in Missouri, dispatched word to Parley requesting him to defer his mission across the Atlantic until the quorum could convene. Marsh considered taking the gospel abroad an act of such magnitude that no one of the quorum should attempt such an action independently. In the letter Marsh called a meeting of the entire quorum for 24 July 1837 in Kirtland. Marsh and Patten left for Ohio sometime the following month.
"In the meantime, however, Joseph Smith had directed Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde of the Twelve to travel to England to introduce the gospel. It is not known when Marsh and Patten learned of the departure of these missionaries, but it seems clear that the news angered them and shattered their hopes of unifying the quorum. Brigham Young, remembering their arrival in Kirtland, said, 'As soon as they came I got Marsh to go to Joseph But Patten would [not]. . . . He got his mind prejudiced & when He went to see Joseph David insulted Joseph & Joseph slaped him in the face & kicked him out of the yard this done David good.' It appears that Marsh himself desired to introduce the gospel abroad." (Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 222 - 224)
DC 112:1 thy brethren... ordained through the instrumentality of my servants
With "thy brethren," the Lord is referring to the Twelve Apostles who were ordained by His servants, the three witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris.
"The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles held a unique place in the developing Church organization. A revelation the month after their ordination described them as a quorum 'equal in authority and power' to the Presidency of the Church, though they would not function in that capacity until later. They were also designated 'traveling councilors' and 'special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world.' The restored gospel was to be taken to the world, and the Twelve, as their central assignment, held the keys to lead the way.
"At first the Twelve were not prepared to fill these roles. Though they shared important experiences on a mission in the East in 1835 and, after some difficulties, pulled themselves together to receive vital blessings in the Kirtland Temple in 1836, the Quorum seldom functioned unitedly. Relatively young and inexperienced as leaders, some had difficulty reconciling differences between the revealed promise of prominent position and the reality of their role in Kirtland. Their president, Thomas B. Marsh, an officious leader overly concerned with prerogative, set a tone that made it difficult for the Twelve to grow easily into their new roles. (James B. Allen, Ronald K. Esplin, and David J. Whittaker, Men with a Mission, 1837-1841: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 22)
DC 112:4 bear record of my name, not only unto the Gentiles, but also unto the Jews
As the Lord has told us in these revelations, we are called upon to warn the world.
We have been laboring now for forty-five years in preaching the Gospel of Christ throughout the Gentile nations. We say Gentiles, because the Gospel goes to the Gentiles first, that the first may be last and the last first. Anciently the Jews were first in having the Gospel sent unto them, but they rejected it, and they were broken off through unbelief, and hence the Gospel turned to the Gentiles; and, as Paul says-"Ye Gentiles, take heed and fear, lest ye fall through the same example of unbelief, for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed also lest he spare not ye." The Gentiles are fallen through the same example of unbelief as did the Jews. They have put to death every Prophet, Apostle, and inspired man since the days of Jesus Christ, and the Church went into the wilderness, and the face of a Prophet, Apostle, or inspired man, called of God to administer the ordinances of the Gospel, had not been seen for some eighteen hundred years, until the Lord raised up a Prophet in the day and age in which we live. Therefore the Gospel brought forth in the last days has to go to the Gentiles first.
Sometimes our neighbors and friends think hard of us because we call them Gentiles; but, bless your souls, we are all Gentiles. The Latter-day Saints are all Gentiles in a national capacity. The Gospel came to us among the Gentiles. We are not Jews, and the Gentile nations have got to hear the Gospel first. The whole Christian world have got to hear the Gospel, and when they reject it, the law will be bound and the testimony sealed, and it will turn to the house of Israel. (Sep. 1875, Journal of Discourses, 18:112)
DC 112:4 send forth my word unto the ends of the earth
"To Thomas B. Marsh in 1837, the Lord said:
'Let thy heart be of good cheer before my face; and thou shalt bear record of my name, not only unto the Gentiles, but also unto the Jews; and thou shalt send forth my word unto the ends of the earth.' (D&C 112:4; italics added.)
"We see these prophecies being fulfilled through the translation of Latter-day Saint scriptures and instructional materials into many languages, and through the thousands of missionaries the Church continues to send to much of the world. Another way the gospel message is being given to people in their own language is through Church magazines.
"Our current English language magazines, the Ensign, New Era, and Friend, are available to all English-speaking members and people throughout the world. Using material from these three magazines, the Church also publishes additional magazines, each with their own distinctive names, in sixteen other languages." (Verl F. Scott, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Aug. 1984, 50-51)
Spencer W. Kimball
Surely there is significance in the words of the Lord: "all nations," "every nation," "every land," "uttermost part of the earth," "every tongue," "every people," "the ends of the earth." There was and is a universal need; there must be universal coverage. Mankind is the universal family of our Heavenly Father, and we have received a universal command to take the gospel to the members of this family.
If there were no converts, the Church would shrivel and die. But perhaps the greatest reason for missionary work is to give the world its chance to hear and accept the gospel. The scriptures are replete with commands and promises and calls and rewards for teaching the gospel. I use the word command advisedly, for it seems to be an insistent directive from which we, singly and collectively, cannot escape. Furthermore, the command is clear that not only must all members of His church give missionary service, but we must take the gospel to all the children of our Heavenly Father on this earth. ("It Becometh Every Man," Ensign, Oct. 1977, 4)
DC 112:5 day after day let thy warning voice go forth
Gordon B. Hinckley
Following the organization of the first Quorum of the Twelve in 1835, Oliver Cowdery, counselor in the First Presidency, delivered a charge to these men. That statement has become something of a charter for all members of the Twelve who have succeeded that first group. In that charge is the following counsel: "Be zealous to save souls. The soul of one man is as precious as the soul of another. . . . The Gospel must roll forth, and it will until it fills the whole earth. . . . You have a work to do that no other men can do; you must proclaim the Gospel in its simplicity and purity; and we commend you to God and the word of His grace." (History of the Church 2:196-98.)
Subsequent to that counsel, the Lord gave the revelation known as section 112 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which was directed to the Twelve. In it are these words: "Contend thou, therefore, morning by morning; and day after day let thy warning voice go forth; and when the night cometh let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber, because of thy speech. . . . And I will be with you; and in whatsoever place ye shall proclaim my name an effectual door shall be opened unto you, that they may receive my word." (D&C 112:5, 19)
At the outset, missionaries were sent into the surrounding areas, into Canada, and in 1837 across the sea to England. It was in the Kirtland Temple that the Prophet Joseph Smith spoke to Elder Heber C. Kimball: "Brother Heber, the spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: 'Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my gospel and open the door of salvation to that nation.' "
Then came Elder Kimball's acknowledgment of his fear. Exclaiming in self-humiliation, he said: "O, Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge and piety; the nursery of religion; and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial!" (Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1945], p. 104)
But Elder Kimball and his associates went to England. While the language they found was essentially the same as their own, many of the customs they met were different. However, they paid little attention to these. Their message was the gospel of salvation. They spoke of little else. And history bears remarkable testimony to the success of their labors. In the years that immediately followed, the message of the restored gospel was taken to the isles of the sea, where entirely new and unique cultures were encountered. It was so in the lands of Europe, with new languages to be learned and new customs to be confronted. (Faith: The Essence of True Religion [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 52)
DC 112:6 Let thy habitation be known in Zion, and remove not thy house
"In 1832, Thomas B. Marsh received an inheritance-about thirty acres-on the Big Blue river, Missouri, and there he built a comfortable log house. When the Saints were driven from Jackson County, he went to Lafayette County, while most of the exiles sought refuge in Clay County. In 1834, he, too, went to Clay County. After an extended visit to Kirtland, he returned to his home on Fishing River, Clay County. In 1836, he built a house in Far West. In June 1837, he again visited Kirtland. It was necessary, for the success of his mission, that his residence in Zion should be known." (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 733)
"Since 1832 Thomas Marsh had moved his residence at least four times, not counting extended visits to Kirtland. As president of the Quorum of the Twelve, it was important for him to maintain a more or less permanent address from which he could always be reached. It was natural that Elder Marsh might be tempted at this time to move yet again, from Missouri to Kirtland, to give greater support to the Prophet and be closer to quorum members. Yet, the Church was soon going to move to Missouri, and Elder Marsh's home in Far West would be at its center." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 4:83)
DC 112:7-9 thy path lieth among the mountains, and among many nations
Because of apostasy, many of the promised blessings originally designated for Thomas B. Marsh were taken from him and placed on the head of another. The blessings pertained, it would seem, to the senior Apostle among the Twelve, for "in case of transgression... an unfaithful and an unwise steward... shall be subject to the council and voice of the order, and shall be removed out of his place, and another shall be appointed in his stead." (D&C 104:76-77) By leaving the church, Thomas forfeited the great blessings promised him in D&C 112. Next in seniority among the Twelve was David W. Patten, but he would not hold this position for long. In a battle with a mob at Crooked River, October 25, 1838, he was shot. Before he died, he remarked: "I feel that I have kept the faith, I have finished my course, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me... Whatever you do else, O do not deny the faith." (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 219 - 220.)
"Orson Hyde described an incident that had occurred during the time when he and Marsh opposed the Prophet. In a letter to Robert Pierce in Philadelphia on 30 May 1844, Hyde encouraged him [Pierce] to support the Prophet:
"During our temptation, David W. Patten, was shot by the enemy, and several days afterwards, while Thos. B. and myself were sitting in a log cabin together in silent meditation, some being smote him on the shoulder, and said, with a countenance full of the deepest anxiety and solicitude, 'Thomas! Thomas! why have you so soon forgotten?' Thomas told me it was David W. Patten, with whom, he not long before, had made a covenant to remain true and faithful until the end. (Arnold K. Garr and Clark V. Johnson, eds., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: Missouri [Provo: Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1994], 23)
While many of the other Apostles found fault, Brigham Young was remarkable because of his stalwart support of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He then became the most senior apostle and seemed to receive the blessings promised originally to Elder Marsh.
"It will be seen that this singular revelation was addressed to the president of the 'Twelve Apostles of the Lamb.' Thomas B. Marsh, through the order of seniority, is filling that position; but mark what follows. The man whom the revelation is addressed to has a 'path' which 'lieth among the mountains.' At that moment Brigham Young came forward, and in all his actions seemed decidedly to affirm, 'Joseph, I am that man, not Thomas. Give me the keys which have come down from the fathers, for they belong to me.' Joseph knew his St. Peter then; and he gave him the keys. The marked fact of that period is that Brigham revealed himself, and wrested the keys of the presidency of the Twelve from the hands of Thomas B. Marsh, and fulfilled that revelation to the letter. Take from that revelation the points concerning the personality of Thomas B. Marsh, and see how exactly does the remainder apply to the character, mission, and life of Brigham Young. (Edward W. Tullidge, Life of Joseph the Prophet [New York: Tullidge & Crandall, 1878], 236-237, emphasis added)
DC 112:10 Be thou humble; and thy Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand...
Gordon B. Hinckley
People ask me what my favorite scripture is. I say, "Well, I have several of them. One of them is this: 'Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers' (D&C 112:10)." There is no room for arrogance in our lives. There is no room for conceit in our lives. There is no room for egotism in our lives. We must be humble before the Lord. He has so declared, and if we will do it, He will hear our prayers and answer them with a blessing upon our heads. (Ensign, Mar. 1999, 73)
Dallin H. Oaks
Those who engage in self-congratulation over a supposed strength have lost the protection of humility and are vulnerable to Satan's using that strength to produce their downfall. In contrast, if we are humble and teachable, hearkening to the commandments of God, the counsel of his leaders, and the promptings of his Spirit, we can be guided in how to use our spiritual gifts, our accomplishments, and all of our other strengths for righteousness. And we can be guided in how to avoid Satan's efforts to use our strengths to cause our downfall. ("Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall," Ensign, Oct. 1994, 19)
Ezra Taft Benson
Pride is characterized by "What do I want out of life?" rather than by "What would God have me do with my life?" It is self-will as opposed to God's will. It is the fear of man over the fear of God.
Humility responds to God's will-to the fear of His judgments and the needs of those around us. To the proud, the applause of the world rings in their ears; to the humble, the applause of heaven warms their hearts.
Someone has said, "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man." Of one brother, the Lord said, "I, the Lord, am not well pleased with him, for he seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek before me." (D&C 58:41.)
The two groups in the Book of Mormon that seemed to have the greatest difficulty with pride are the "learned, and the rich." (2 Ne. 28:15.) But the word of God can pull down pride. (See Alma 4:19.)
With pride, there are many curses. With humility, there come many blessings. For example, "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers." (D&C 112:10.) The humble will "be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge." (D&C 1:28.) The Lord is "merciful unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts." (D&C 61:2.) Humility can turn away God's anger. (See Hel. 11:11.)
My beloved brethren and sisters, as we cleanse the inner vessel, there will have to be changes made in our own personal lives, in our families, and in the Church. The proud do not change to improve, but defend their position by rationalizing. Repentance means change, and it takes a humble person to change. But we can do it. ("Cleansing the Inner Vessel," Ensign, May 1986, 7)
DC 112:11 Be not partial towards them in love... let thy love abound unto all men
There is a love from God that should be exercised toward those of our faith, who walk uprightly, which is peculiar to itself, but it is without prejudice; it also gives scope to the mind, which enables us to conduct ourselves with greater liberality towards all that are not of our faith, than what they exercise towards one another. These principles approximate nearer to the mind of God, because it is like God, or Godlike. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 147)
DC 112:12 Admonish them sharply for my name's sake, and let them be admonished for all their sins
Joseph Fielding Smith
At the time this revelation was given some of the members of the council of the apostles were in open rebellion and had displayed a very bitter spirit towards the Prophet. The Lord endeavored to impress upon them the fact that the Prophet was the one who held the keys of this dispensation and that he would hold them constantly until the Lord should come. In a former revelation (D&C 43:4-7) the Lord had said that the keys were in the hands of Joseph Smith and that if he should transgress and lose them they would be given to another. At that day the Prophet had not been tested and proved by tribulation and suffering, but now in July 1837, the Prophet having shown his integrity in all kinds of difficulties and tribulation the Lord declared that the keys shall never be taken from him. The Lord wished to impress upon the apostles and others in the councils of the Church that he had not forsaken his prophet and would be with him to the end. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 3: 102)
DC 112:13 after their temptations, and much tribulation
"To Peter, who was destined to stand at the head of the meridian Church, the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat' (Luke 22:31). Again, to the first Quorum of the Twelve of our day, the Lord directed Thomas B. Marsh, their president, to pray for them and to 'admonish them sharply for my name's sake, and let them be admonished for all their sins, and be ye faithful before me unto my name'-this with the promise that 'after their temptations, and much tribulation, behold, I, the Lord, will feel after them, and if they harden not their hearts, and stiffen not their necks against me, they shall be converted, and I will heal them' (D&C 112:12-13).
"Well might we say that the best of temptations are reserved for the best of men. There is no immunity to the frailties of the flesh in offices or position. All must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (see Philip. 2:12). Thus we make no claim that our prophets are infallible in behavior or in doctrine. We do claim, however, that they are among the best men living on the earth and that they teach the best doctrine the world has ever heard." (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Answers: Straightforward Answers to Tough Gospel Questions [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 52)
DC 112:15 Exalt not yourselves; rebel not against my servant Joseph
Again, let the Twelve and all Saints be willing to confess all their sins, and not keep back a part; and let the Twelve be humble, and not be exalted, and beware of pride, and not seek to excel one above another, but act for each other's good, and pray for one another, and honor our brother or make honorable mention of his name, and not backbite and devour our brother. Why will not man learn wisdom by precept at this late age of the world, when we have such a cloud of witnesses and examples before us, and not be obliged to learn by sad experience everything we know. Must the new ones that are chosen to fill the places of those that are fallen, of the quorum of the Twelve, begin to exalt themselves, until they exalt themselves so high that they will soon tumble over and have a great fall, and go wallowing through the mud and mire and darkness, Judas-like, to the buffetings of Satan, as several of the quorum have done, or will they learn wisdom and be wise? O God! give them wisdom, and keep them humble, I pray. (July 2, 1839, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 155)
George Q. Cannon
This was a commandment given through Joseph Smith unto Thomas B. Marsh, at Kirtland, on the 23rd day of July, 1837, concerning the twelve apostles of the Lamb. It was necessary; for pride and disunion and the ambitions of the world were doing their work among some of their number, and they would heed neither the counsels of Joseph nor the direct behest of the Almighty.
Not for many generations had men been favored of the Lord as they had been. They had received heavenly manifestations sufficient, one would think, to keep them from ever turning away from the truth. But after receiving these glorious evidences of divine favor, like their master, Jesus, they were "tempted of the devil"; yet not like their Lord, some of these men yielded to temptation and fell from their high estate. They did not resist the allurements of Satan. The desire for the glory of the world, the wealth of the world, the vain things of the world, overcame them. A mania to speculate, to make money, became almost universally prevalent. It was a general tendency in the United States, and especially in the west, at the time of which we write. Forgetting the visions of eternity they had beheld; forgetting the holy anointing they had received; forgetting their high callings and their dedication to the ministry of the Son of God, leading men became real estate dealers merchants, organizers of "wildcat" schemes, and eventually deadly enemies of the work of God and of him whom He had chosen as His Prophet. Simultaneously with this spirit of speculation, came the spirit of apostasy and rebellion against the authority of heaven. So rife did this spirit become that those who rebelled were applauded, and men were glad to find excuse in the example of the twelve and other leading men for their own wrongdoing. The few of the apostles who were willing to fulfil the requirements of the gospel in all things were ridiculed and every effort was made to dissuade them from the course they were pursuing. Jealousy and hatred of the Prophet cropped out on every hand. Those who disobeyed were called wise by all the disaffected spirits; and those who made every required sacrifice in humility were called foolish. But the generation had not passed away before the Lord repaid according to His promise. The men who had exalted themselves were abased into nothingness; while those who had bowed their heads in humility were exalted. Today the names of the proud and the vain of that time are almost forgotten, while the names of the apostles who endured all things faithfully are held in most solemn and sacred remembrance by the congregation of Israel. (The Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 222 - 223)
DC 112:16 Thomas, thou art the man whom I have chosen to hold the keys of my kingdom
Gordon B. Hinckley
In September of 1857... Brigham Young was conducting a meeting and introduced to the congregation a man who appeared to be old and infirm and weary of life.
Said President Brigham Young to the congregation:
"Brother Thomas B. Marsh, formerly the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has now come to us, after an absence of nearly nineteen years. He is on the stand to-day, and wishes to make a few remarks to the congregation. ...
"He came into my office and wished to know whether I could be reconciled to him, and whether there could be a reconciliation between himself and the Church of the living God. He reflected for a moment and said, I am reconciled to the Church, but I want to know whether the Church can be reconciled to me.
"He is here," said President Young, "and I want him to say what he may wish to. ... Brethren and sisters, I now introduce to you Brother Thomas B. Marsh. When the Quorum of the Twelve was first organized, he was appointed to be their President."
Brother Marsh rose to the pulpit. This man, who was named the first President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles and to whom the Lord had spoken in so marvelous a manner, as recorded in section 112 of the Doctrine and Covenants-which I wish you would read-said to the people:
"I do not know that I can make all this vast congregation hear and understand me. My voice never was very strong, but it has been very much weakened of late years by the afflicting rod of Jehovah. He loved me too much to let me go without whipping. I have seen the hand of the Lord in the chastisement which I have received. I have seen and known that it has proved he loved me; for if he had not cared anything about me, he would not have taken me by the arm and given me such a shaking.
"If there are any among this people who should ever apostatize and do as I have done, prepare your backs for a good whipping, if you are such as the Lord loves. But if you will take my advice, you will stand by the authorities; but if you go away and the Lord loves you as much as he did me, he will whip you back again.
"Many have said to me," he continued, " 'How is it that a man like you, who understood so much of the revelations of God as recorded in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, should fall away?' I told them not to feel too secure, but to take heed lest they also should fall; for I had no scruples in my mind as to the possibility of men falling away."
"I can say, in reference to the Quorum of the Twelve, to which I belonged, that I did not consider myself a whit behind any of them, and I suppose that others had the same opinion; but, let no one feel too secure; for, before you think of it, your steps will slide. You will not then think nor feel for a moment as you did before you lost the Spirit of Christ; for when men apostatize, they are left to grovel in the dark." (Journal of Discourses, 5:206.)
Speaking in a voice that was difficult to hear, and appearing as an old man when he was actually only fifty-seven years of age, he spoke of the travails through which he had passed before he had finally made his way to the valley of the Great Salt Lake and asked that he might be baptized again into the Church.
I wondered, as I read that story so filled with pathos, what had brought him to this sorry state. I discovered it, in the Journal of Discourses, in a talk given to the Saints in this same bowery the year before by George A. Smith. I think, if you'll bear with me for a minute or two, it is worth the telling to illustrate to all of us the need to be careful in dealing with small matters which can lead to great consequences.
According to the account given by George A. Smith, while the Saints were in Far West, Missouri, "the wife of Thomas B. Marsh, who was then President of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Harris concluded they would exchange milk, in order to make a little larger cheese than they otherwise could. To be sure to have justice done, it was agreed that they should not save the strippings (to themselves), but that the milk and strippings should all go together.
Now for you who have never been around a cow, I should say that the strippings came at the end of the milking and were richer in cream.
"Mrs. Harris, it appeared, was faithful to the agreement and carried to Mrs. Marsh the milk and strippings, but Mrs. Marsh, wishing to make some extra good cheese, saved a pint of strippings from each cow and sent Mrs. Harris the milk without the strippings."
A quarrel arose, and the matter was referred to the home teachers. They found Mrs. Marsh guilty of failure to keep her agreement. She and her husband were upset and, "an appeal was taken from the teacher to the bishop, and a regular Church trial was had." President Marsh did not consider that the bishop had done him and his lady justice for they (that is, the bishop's court) decided that the strippings were wrongfully saved, and that the woman had violated her covenant.
"Marsh immediately took an appeal to the High Council, who investigated the question with much patience, and," says George A. Smith, "I assure you they were a grave body. Marsh being extremely anxious to maintain the character of his wife, ... made a desperate defence, but the High Council finally confirmed the bishop's decision.
"Marsh, not being satisfied, took an appeal to the First Presidency of the Church, and Joseph and his counselors had to sit upon the case, and they approved the decision of the High Council.
"This little affair," Brother Smith continues, "kicked up a considerable breeze, and Thomas B. Marsh then declared that he would sustain the character of his wife even if he had to go to hell for it.
"The then President of the Twelve Apostles, the man who should have been the first to do justice and cause reparation to be made for wrong, committed by any member of the family, took that position, and what next? He went before a magistrate and swore that the 'Mormons' were hostile towards the state of Missouri.
"That affidavit brought from the government of Missouri an exterminating order, which drove some 15,000 Saints from their homes and habitations, and some thousands perished through suffering the exposure consequent on this state of affairs." (Journal of Discourses, 3:283-84.) Such is George A. Smith's account.
What a very small and trivial thing-a little cream over which two women quarreled. But it led to, or at least was a factor in, Governor Boggs' cruel exterminating order which drove the Saints from the state of Missouri, with all of the terrible suffering and consequent death that followed. The man who should have settled this little quarrel, but who, rather, pursued it, troubling the officers of the Church, right up to the Presidency, literally went through hell for it. He lost his standing in the Church. He lost his testimony of the gospel. For nineteen years he walked in poverty and darkness and bitterness, experiencing illness, and loneliness. He grew old before his time. Finally, like the prodigal son in the parable of the Savior (see Luke 15:11-32), he recognized his foolishness and painfully made his way to this valley, and asked Brigham Young to forgive him and permit his rebaptism into the Church. He had been the first President of the Council of the Twelve, loved, respected, and honored in the days of Kirtland, and the early days of Far West. Now he asked only that he might be ordained a deacon and become a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.
We have all seen cases somewhat similar in our own time. I mention the matter only as a reminder to each of us that as we leave this great and inspirational conference we go with resolution in our hearts to live the gospel, to be faithful and true, to have the strength to look above small things that could lead to argument and trouble, to be forgiving one to another, to "look to God and live." (Alma 37:47.)
It is so easy to stumble. It is sometimes so hard to keep our voices low when small things provoke us. ("Small Acts Lead to Great Consequences," Ensign, May 1984, 81)
"On 11 March 1859, Thomas B. Marsh was re-ordained an elder, and by November 1861 he had been ordained a high priest. In the Endowment House on 1 November 1862, he received his endowment and was sealed to his wife, Hannah. It was about this same time that the couple opted to settle near Ogden. Thomas was placed in the care of David M. Stuart, Ogden First Ward. Though almost wholly supported by the Church until his death in January 1866 at Ogden, Thomas Baldwin Marsh 'died in good faith,' having once again accepted the principles he had espoused nearly thirty-six years earlier in Fayette, New York. He had learned by sad experience the hazards of aspiring to the honors of men, the dangers of exercising unrighteous dominion, and the consequences of uncontrolled criticism of those in authority." (Lyndon W. Cook, BYU Studies, vol. 20 (1979-1980), Number 4: p. 399-400)
DC 112:17-19 thou mayest be my servant to unlock the door of the kingdom in all places where my servant Joseph... cannot come
"Verses 16 and 17 are at the heart of what weighed heavily on President Marsh's mind when he approached the Prophet seeking the word of the Lord: 'Verily I say unto you, my servant Thomas, thou art the man whom I have chosen to hold the keys of my kingdom, as pertaining to the Twelve [still, despite the difficulties], abroad among all nations' (even in England!) and 'to unlock the door of the kingdom in all places.'
"Unfortunately, instead of humbly accepting this assurance as a renewed opportunity, Thomas immediately visited Vilate Kimball and, backed by this affirmation, told her that Heber could not open an 'effectual door' in England because he, Thomas, had not sent him! The Prophet had assured him, Marsh explained, that since proclaiming the gospel abroad was his special responsibility, the door could not be 'effectually' opened until he sent someone or went himself.
"In pressing this point, Thomas Marsh once again missed the mark, as the revelation itself makes clear. That very verse continued: Marsh held the keys 'to unlock the door of the kingdom in all places where my servant Joseph' and his counselors, i.e., the First Presidency, 'cannot come'; and, said verse 18, 'On them have I laid the burden of all the churches for a little season.' 'Wherefore, whithersoever they shall send you [or Heber Kimball and Orson Hyde or whomever], go ye, and I will be with you; and in whatsoever place ye shall proclaim my name an effectual door shall be opened unto you, that they may receive my word' (v. 19; emphasis added). Stated again: the Prophet's keys held precedence even over those of the president of the Quorum of the Twelve.
"Heber understood that principle. When he learned in England of Marsh's claim, he was philosophical, allowing that 'Brother Joseph said it was all right to prepare the way . . . so we have come to prepare the way before Brother Thomas. And we have baptised a good lot of them.' Even so, he added, Brother Marsh would have to do some of the work himself if he intended to claim some of the credit.
"As if that were not clear enough, and apparently it was not for Marsh, verse 20 tries still again to clarify: who receives my word receives me, who receives me receives the First Presidency, 'whom I have sent, whom I have made counselors . . . unto you.' Others also have power-especially the Twelve with their special calling and responsibility to take the gospel abroad-but it is all under the Presidency." (Ronald K. Esplin, The Heavens Are Open: The 1992 Sperry Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History, complied by Byron R. Merrill et al., [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 121-122)
DC 112:21 you, shall have power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation
Spencer W. Kimball
There are no impenetrable "iron curtains" or "bamboo curtains" or national curtains or neighborhood curtains so far as teaching the gospel is concerned. I see no good reason why the Lord should open doors we are not prepared to enter, but I believe he will open every missionary door we are prepared to enter. And if we do not enter, then the responsibility will be upon us. If we do not do our duty in regard to missionary service, then I am convinced that God will hold us responsible for the people we might have saved had we done our duty. ("It Becometh Every Man," Ensign, Oct. 1977, 5)
Spencer W. Kimball
When I read Church history, I am amazed at the boldness of the early brethren as they went out into the world. They seemed to find a way. Even in persecution and hardship, they went and opened doors which evidently have been allowed to sag on their hinges and many of them to close. I remember that these fearless men were teaching the gospel in Indian lands before the Church was even fully organized. As nearly as 1837 the Twelve were in England fighting Satan, in Tahiti in 1844, Australia in 1851, Iceland 1853, Italy 1850, and also in Switzerland, Germany, Tonga, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, China, Samoa, New Zealand, South America, France, and Hawaii in 1850. When you look at the progress we have made in some countries, with no progress in many of their nearby countries, it makes us wonder. Much of this early proselyting was done while the leaders were climbing the Rockies and planting the sod and starting their homes. It is faith and super faith.
These men of valor began to walk the earth with dignity and honor, with mantles on their shoulders and keys in their hands and love in their hearts. ("When the World Will Be Converted," Ensign, Oct. 1974, 6)
M. Russell Ballard
The Lord said to Thomas B. Marsh, the President of the Council of the Twelve:
Now, I say unto you, and what I say unto you, I say unto all the Twelve: Arise and gird up your loins, take up your cross, follow me, and feed my sheep.
And again, I say unto you, that whosoever ye shall send in my name, by the voice of your brethren, the Twelve, duly recommended and authorized by you, shall have power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation whithersoever ye shall send them. (D&C 112:14, 21)
Twelve days ago I returned from South America, where I had visited the people of Uruguay, Argentina, and Colombia. Last December, I visited Peru and Brazil. Reflecting upon these two recent assignments, I observed the dramatic growth of the Church among these people.
Elder Parley P. Pratt visited South America in 1851. The work was attempted again in 1925. On Christmas Day of 1925, in the park of Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires, Argentina, my grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, dedicated South America for the preaching of the gospel. I quote from the dedicatory prayer:
"Bless the presidents, governors, and the leading officials of these South American countries, that they may kindly receive us and give us permission to open the doors of salvation to the people of these lands. ...
"And now, oh, Father, by authority of the blessing and appointment by the President of the Church, and by the authority of the holy apostleship which I have, I turn the key, unlock, and open the door for the preaching of the Gospel in all these South American nations, and do rebuke and command to be stayed every power that would oppose the preaching of the Gospel in these lands; and we do bless and dedicate these nations of this land for the preaching of thy Gospel. And we do all this that salvation may come to all men, and that thy name may be honored and glorified in this part of the land of Zion." (Melvin J. Ballard, Crusader for Righteousness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 81; italics added)
The words "by the authority of the holy apostleship" have special meaning to me now as my ministry bears that same authority to accomplish the purposes of our Heavenly Father.
The original recorded history of the three General Authority missionaries who visited Buenos Aires in 1925 was found there a few days before my arrival this last March 14. I read with great interest of the extreme difficulties that they encountered. The trip from Salt Lake City to Buenos Aires for Elders Melvin J. Ballard, Rey L. Pratt, and Rulon S. Wells was by land and sea, taking thirty-four days. In comparison, my recent trip covering the same distance took twenty-one hours.
There were only four members of the Church in South America in 1925; they greeted the missionaries upon their arrival. To conserve resources, the missionaries rented one hotel room to house all three of them. They moved several times until they finally located a low-cost apartment in which the three of them could live.
Efforts to advertise the first public meetings in the Buenos Aires newspapers were fruitless. The newspapers refused to print an ad. Elder Pratt prepared a handbill in Spanish. Elder Ballard, who spoke only English, distributed these handbills each day. Elder Pratt spent most of his time translating doctrine and hymns into Spanish. Elder Wells, who spoke German, became ill and returned to Church headquarters shortly after his arrival in Argentina.
My brothers and sisters, it is difficult to express my feelings as I read of the early beginnings of missionary work in South America. I am deeply touched to realize that for nearly eight months my grandfather walked the streets of Buenos Aires giving out two hundred to five hundred handbills every day but Sunday, inviting the people to learn the message of the Restoration.
The work among the native Argentines was very difficult. Only one was baptized during the first eight months. On 4 July 1926, Grandfather said:
"The work of the Lord will grow slowly for a time here just as an oak grows slowly from an acorn. It will not shoot up in a day as does the sunflower that grows quickly and then dies. But thousands will join the Church here. It will be divided into more than one mission and will be one of the strongest in the Church. The work here is the smallest that it will ever be. The day will come when the Lamanites in this land will be given a chance. The South American Mission will be a power in the Church." (Vernon Sharp diary, in Melvin J. Ballard, p. 84.)
Sixty years later, the Church in South America has 30 missions, with 5,140 full-time missionaries, of which approximately 60 percent are natives of South America. One hundred eighty-six stakes cover the land, with 2,148 wards and branches dotting the countryside. Approximately 776,000 members of the Church are an evidence of the fulfillment of the dedicatory prayer. ("The Kingdom Rolls Forth in South America," Ensign, May 1986, 12)
DC 112:23 darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people
I need not stop to tell you that we live in a day of darkness, wickedness, unbelief, and transgressions of every kind; I need not tell you this; the heavens know it, the earth knows it, the devils know it, all men know it who are acquainted with the human family in the day and age in which we live. The Lord told us fifty years ago, that "Darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face." But He has sent forth the warning voice to them. He has called upon all men to repent and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that they may be counted worthy to escape the judgments of God. (Journal of Discourses, 22:206-207)
Charles W. Penrose
Well, what condition has the Christian world been in for centuries? Just the same in a great many respects as the heathen world. The people have been in the depths of error. Darkness has covered the earth and gross darkness the people. 'Stay yourselves and wonder,' says the Prophet Isaiah, speaking of the latter times, 'cry ye out and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine: they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.' And the Lord said that in that very time, when the people should be in this condition, when they should draw near unto him with their mouth, and honor him with their lips, while their hearts were far from him, 'I will proceed to do a marvelous work among the people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of the wise men shall perish and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. * * * And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.' Just as the prophet predicted so it has been in the age in which we live. Out of darkness has come forth light. God, from his holy dwelling place, looked down upon the world and beheld that all had gone astray, that none were doing good, no not one. They were divided and contentious, jangling and quarrelling about creeds. Men were crying lo! here, and lo! there; in fact the blind were leading the blind and both were falling into the ditch together. The Lord beheld this from his holy habitation and again restored the truth from the eternal world. He sent his holy angels and revealed anew the everlasting Gospel. Truth came out of the earth, and righteousness looked down from heaven and both joined in one, gave joy to the meek, and became a power among men in the earth. (Journal of Discourses, 21:88)
DC 112:24 vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth
Gordon B. Hinckley
I am familiar, as are you, with the declarations of modern revelation that the time will come when the earth will be cleansed and there will be indescribable distress, with weeping and mourning and lamentation (see D&C 112:24).
Now, I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us. I earnestly pray that it may not. There is so much of the Lord's work yet to be done. We, and our children after us, must do it. ("The Times in Which We Live," Ensign, Nov 2001, 72)
I have frequently thought upon the preparation that is necessary. Suppose the word should come, "Return and build up the Center Stake of Zion," are we ready for it? No. I have often alluded to our mechanics. We have not a mechanic that would know how to lay the first stone for the foundation of the wall around the New Jerusalem, to say nothing about the temples of our God. Are you prepared for the day of vengeance to come, when the Lord will consume the wicked by the brightness of his coming? No. Then do not be too anxious for the Lord to hasten his work. Let our anxiety be centered upon this one thing, the sanctification of our own hearts, the purifying of our own affections, the preparing of ourselves for the approach of the events that are hastening upon us. This should be our concern, this should be our study, this should be our daily prayer, and not to be in a hurry to see the overthrow of the wicked. Be careful; for if they were all to be overthrown at once, how many would there be left that are called Saints? Not as many as I would have remain... let us then prepare ourselves for the presence of our Master-for the coming of the Son of Man. (Journal of Discourses, 9:3)
DC 112:25 upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth
"As I read the scriptures, I often reflect upon the chilling implications of what the Apostle Peter meant when he said, 'Judgment must begin at the house of God.' (1 Pet. 4:17.) In our own day, the Lord has said, 'Vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth. ... And upon my house shall it begin.' (D&C 112:24-25; italics added.) What kind of judgments does the Lord have in mind? Why do the scriptures say that the cleansing will begin with the Church, rather than with the wicked?
"The scriptures reveal that the Lord will save his greatest wrath and condemnation for those who outwardly appear religious but who are actually full of evil within. Speaking to Jewish religious leaders, the Savior said, 'Cleanse first that which is within the cup. ... Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.' (Matt. 23:26-27.) Similarly, the great Book of Mormon leader, Moroni, wrote, 'God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first.' (Alma 60:23.)
"President Ezra Taft Benson left little room for doubt that these warnings apply to us. He declared, 'All is not well in Zion. ... We must cleanse the inner vessel, beginning first with ourselves, then with our families, and finally with the Church.' (Ensign, May 1986, p. 4)
"There are two methods of cleansing the inner vessel. The first is repentance. But if we do not repent, the Lord will invoke the second method of cleansing-from without. One way or another, the vessel will be cleansed." (Larry Tippetts, "Cleansing the Inner Vessel: The Process of Repentance," Ensign, Oct. 1992, 21)
Neal A. Maxwell
Brothers and sisters... the Lord has clearly indicated that His purifying and sifting judgment would begin first at the house of God and then proceed outward to the world. (See 1 Pet. 4:17; D&C 112:25.) Just what this sifting will consist of is not now clear, what special pressures-combined with the ongoing and demanding rigors of "taking up the cross daily"-we know not. (See Luke 9:23.) We do know that the tempter's triad of tools, identified by Jesus as temptation, persecution, and tribulation, will be relentlessly used. (See Matt. 13:21; Luke 8:13.)
And if the heat from the sun of such circumstances will scorch even a green tree, this heat will be very real. (See Luke 23:31; D&C 135:6; Alma 32:38.)
Much sifting will occur because of lapses in righteous behavior which go unrepented of. A few will give up instead of holding out to the end. A few will be deceived by defectors. Likewise, others will be offended, for sufficient unto each dispensation are the stumbling blocks thereof! A few will stumble because, in their preoccupation with the cares of the world, they do not have oil in their lamps. And, again and again, those who refuse to eat their spiritual spinach will come off second when they wrestle with the world. Some, because of the scorn of the world, will grow ashamed and let go of the iron rod. (See 1 Ne. 8:28.) A few who have not been Saints, but merely tourists passing through, will depart from the path. A few, failing to be of good cheer, will even charge God foolishly. (See Job 1:22.)
Surely, brothers and sisters, already too many Church members have broken hearts and broken homes because of broken covenants and broken promises. Society's increasing slide toward pleasure seeking brings our so-called civilization comparatively closer to Sodom than to Eden.
In our striving to be prepared, therefore, let us be careful to rely on parents, priesthood, and principles-and on scriptures, and temples, and leaders who lead-to see us through. ("Be of Good Cheer," Ensign, Nov. 1982, 68)
Gerald N. Lund
It seems to be a natural human tendency to avoid painful and unpleasant images about one's own self. No one likes to think that they are actually part of that group defined by the Lord as "the wicked." But the Lord makes it clear that some of those so defined are found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
...So it is evident that the members of the Church who are not observing the commandments of the Lord in this day will likewise experience the wrath of God. This chastening will serve a valuable purpose in helping the Church prepare the world for the coming of the Lord. Many great tasks await the Lord's people if the world is to be ready for the return of the Savior. These chastening judgments will tend to weed out the wicked and unfaithful membership of the Church so that the Lord will have a people who will carry out his will in all things.
Many of the prophets have testified that the judgments of God would come upon the Church because some of its members do not keep their covenants. Joseph F. Smith, who later became sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, bore witness to this fact in a general conference address in 1880.
. . . I further testify, that unless the Latter-day Saints will live their religion, keep their covenants with God and their brethren, honor the Priesthood which they bear, and try faithfully to bring themselves into subjection to the laws of God, they will be the first to fall beneath the judgments of the Almighty, for his judgment will begin at his own house...
In 1879 President John Taylor spoke of the judgments coming upon the house of God.
But the judgments will begin at the house of God. We have to pass through some of these things, but it will only be a very little compared with the terrible destruction, the misery, and suffering that will overtake the world who are doomed to suffer the wrath of God. It behooves us, as the saints of God, to stand firm and faithful in the observance of his laws, that we may be worthy of his preserving care and blessing.
President Daniel H. Wells, second counselor to Brigham Young, explained that the saints had been gathered out from the midst of the wicked so they could better keep the commandments of God.
Now, we are here in obedience to a great command, a command given by the Almighty to his Saints to gather out from Babylon, lest they be partakers of her sins and receive of her plagues. But if we are going to partake of her sins in Zion, and to nourish and cherish the wicked and ungodly, what better shall we be for gathering? Shall we escape her plagues by so doing? No, there is no promise to that effect, but if we practice the sins and iniquities of Babylon here in Zion, we may expect to receive of her plagues and to be destroyed.
Elder Orson Pratt, of the Quorum of the Twelve, often spoke of the judgments upon the house of God and explained that the Latter-day Saints will escape them only if they keep the commandments.
If we will not keep the commandments of God, and if our rising generations will not give heed to the law of God and to the great light which has shone from Heaven in these latter days, but turn their hearts from the Lord their God and from the counsels of His priesthood, then we shall be visited like the wicked, then we shall have the hand of the Lord upon us in judgment; then that saying that the Lord has delivered in the Book of Doctrines and Covenants will be fulfilled upon us, "that I will visit Zion, if she does not do right, with sore afflictions, with pestilence, with sword, with famine and with the flame of devouring fire." (The Coming of the Lord [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971], 70-73)
DC 112:26 those among you... who have professed to know my name and have not known me
Boyd K. Packer
The Lord warned us of those few in the Church "who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house."
"Thy voice," the Lord commanded the Twelve, "shall be a rebuke unto the transgressor; and at thy rebuke let the tongue of the slanderer cease its perverseness." (D&C 112:9)
Some few within the Church openly, or perhaps far worse, in the darkness of anonymity, reproach their leaders in the wards and stakes and in the Church, seeking to make them "an offender for a word," as Isaiah said. To them the Lord said:
Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned ... but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.
But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. ...
... because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house.
Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them.
They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation. (D&C 121:16-21)
That terrible penalty will not apply to those who try as best they can to live the gospel and sustain their leaders. Nor need it apply to those who in the past have been guilty of indifference or even opposition, if they will repent, confess their transgressions, and forsake them. ("The Twelve Apostles," Ensign, Nov. 1996, 7)
DC 112:26 those among you... have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house
"To promote the work and probably to escape trouble, on July 26, 1837, Joseph left Kirtland with Hyrum, Rigdon, David Patten, and Thomas Marsh, headed for Canada... His absence gave the dissenters free rein in Kirtland, shattering the calm of the past month. Eliza Snow, who was there, later said that the dissenters 'claimed that the Temple belonged to them.' Headed by Warren Parrish, the ringleader, and 'armed with pistols and bowie-knives,' they occupied the east pulpits on Sunday morning when Joseph Sr. was conducting. One usurper started heckling the speaker, and Father Smith told him to wait his turn. At this, Parrish, Apostle John Boynton, and others drew their pistols and knives. Boynton threatened to 'blow out the brains of the first man who dared to lay hands on him.' Amid the shrieks, women and children tried to jump out the window. Constables carried off the troublemakers, who, as a countermeasure, charged Joseph Sr. and eighteen others with assault, battery and riot.
"The violent outburst seemed like a complete collapse. Snow herself said that 'nearly, if not every quorum was more or less infected.' And yet, after his return from Canada, Joseph held a conference where the Church leaders were presented for a sustaining vote, and Joseph put himself before the membership. He and the First Presidency were sustained unanimously, and three dissidents were excluded from the Twelve. The next Sunday, the three spoke in meeting, confessed their sins, and were forgiven. They were restored to full fellowship and reappointed to their former positions. Joseph did not fear them and was quick to forgive. The three brethren administered the sacrament to the congregation." (Richard Lyman Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, [New York: Random House, 2005], 339)
DC 112:30-32 For unto you, the Twelve, and... the First Presidency... is the power of this priesthood given
Bruce R. McConkie
In the winter of 1844... the Prophet says to the Twelve: "I have sealed upon your heads all the keys of the kingdom of God. I have sealed upon you every key, power, [and] principle that the God of heaven has revealed to me. Now, no matter where I may go or what I may do, the kingdom rests upon you. But, ye apostles of the Lamb of God, my brethren, upon your shoulders this kingdom rests; now you have got to round up your shoulders and bear off the kingdom. If you do not do it you will be damned." (See the Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], p. 72.)
And thus is fulfilled the divine word in which the Lord had said aforetime to the Twelve:
For unto you, the Twelve, and those, the First Presidency, who are appointed with you to be your counselors and your leaders, is the power of this priesthood given, for the last days and for the last time, in the which is the dispensation of the fulness of times.
Which power you hold, in connection with all those who have received a dispensation at any time from the beginning of the creation;
For verily I say unto you, the keys of the dispensation, which ye have received, have come down from the fathers, and last of all, being sent down from heaven unto you. (D&C 112:30-32.)
And thus also is established the Lord's system for succession in the Presidency. The keys of the kingdom of God-the right and power of eternal presidency by which the earthly kingdom is governed-these keys, having first been revealed from heaven, are given by the spirit of revelation to each man who is both ordained an Apostle and set apart as a member of the Council of the Twelve.
But since keys are the right of presidency, they can only be exercised in their fulness by one man on earth at a time. He is always the senior Apostle, the presiding Apostle, the presiding high priest, the presiding elder. He alone can give direction to all others, direction from which none is exempt.
Thus, the keys, though vested in all of the Twelve, are used by any one of them to a limited degree only, unless and until one of them attains that seniority which makes him the Lord's anointed on earth.
It follows that when Joseph Smith-sent to a martyr's death by evil and murderous men-gasps his last breath, Brigham Young, being the next senior officer in the earthly kingdom, automatically becomes its presiding officer. ("The Keys of the Kingdom," Ensign, May 1983, 22-23)
David B. Haight
These same keys of the kingdom held by Peter, James, and John, who served in the First Presidency in the dispensation of the meridian of time, and conferred upon Joseph Smith and all subsequent Presidents of the Church, are now held by President Spencer W. Kimball today. He holds this supreme authority. He holds the right of revelation and decision for the priesthood and for the Church.
In President Kimball is concentrated the governing power of the priesthood. He possesses the keys pertaining to the dispensation of the fulness of times, including all the keys of former dispensations (see D&C 112:30-32). There is never but one on the earth at a time on whom these keys and powers are conferred. ("The Keys of the Kingdom," Ensign, Nov. 1980, 74)
DC 112:33 Cleanse your hearts and your garments, lest the blood of this generation be required at your hands
Brother Taylor, Brother Brigham, myself and others, had to go our ways sick with fever, ague, and the power of death surrounding us; had to leave our wives and children without food, without raiment, and go without purse and scrip to preach the Gospel. We were commanded of God to do it, and if we had not done it we should not have been here today. But having done these things, God has blessed us. He has sustained the faithful elders of this Church and kingdom, and he will continue to do so until we get through.
I wanted to express my feelings in relation to these matters. I reflect upon our position. I realize that we have a testimony to bear, and that we shall be held responsible for the manner in which we perform our duties. As apostles, seventies, elders, priests, etc., we are accountable to the Most High God. If we do our duty, then our skirts will be clean. We are watchmen upon the walls of Zion. It is our duty to warn the inhabitants of the earth of the things that are to come, and if they reject our testimony, then their blood will be upon their own heads. When the judgments of God overtake the wicked they cannot say they have not been warned. My garments, and the garments of thousands of others, are clean of the people of this generation, as also the garments of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and those of the elders of Israel who have died in the faith. We have borne our testimony, and when the judgments of God come, men cannot say they have not been warned. I consider our position before this generation is of vast importance to us and them. I do not want, when I go into the spirit world, to have this generation rise up and condemn me, and say I have not done my duty. (Journal of Discourses, 21:283-384)