DC 24 Historical Background
In The History of the Church, the Prophet describes in detail some of the early persecutions of 1830. This account, although lengthy, is particularly useful because it was written by the Prophet himself describing the trials so typical of the persecutions which plagued him until his death. He would later comment, "As for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life" (DC 127:2).
The Book of Mormon (the stick of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim,) had now been published for some time, and as the ancient prophet had predicted of it, "it was accounted as a strange thing." No small stir was created by its appearance. Great opposition and much persecution followed the believers of its authenticity. But it had now come to pass that truth had sprung out of the earth, and righteousness had looked down from heaven, so we feared not our opponents, knowing that we had both truth and righteousness on our side...
...Immediately after [the June 1830] conference I returned to my own house, and from thence, accompanied by my wife, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer and David Whitmer, went again on a visit to Mr. Knight, of Colesville, Broome county. We found a number in the neighborhood still believing, and now anxious to be baptized. We appointed a meeting for the Sabbath, and on the afternoon of Saturday we erected a dam across a stream of water, which was convenient, for the purpose of there attending to the ordinance of baptism; but during the night a mob collected and tore down our dam, which hindered us from attending to the baptism on the Sabbath. We after ward found out that this mob had been instigated to this act of molestation by certain sectarian priests of the neighborhood, who began to consider their craft in danger, and took this plan to stop the progress of the truth; and the sequel will show how determinedly they prosecuted their opposition, as well as to how little purpose in the end. The Sabbath arrived, and we held our meeting. Oliver Cowdery preached, and others of us bore testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, the doctrine of repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, etc. Amongst our audience were those who had torn down our dam, and who seemed desirous to give us trouble, but did not until after the meeting was dismissed, when they immediately commenced talking to those whom they considered our friends, and tried to turn them against us and our doctrines.
...Early on Monday morning we were on the alert, and before our enemies were aware of our proceedings, we had repaired the dam, and the following thirteen persons baptized, by Oliver Cowdery; viz., Emma Smith, Hezekiah Peck and wife, Joseph Knight, Sen., and wife, William Stringham and wife, Joseph Knight, Jun., Aaron Culver and wife, Levi Hale, Polly Knight, and Julia Stringham.
Before the baptizing was entirely finished, the mob began again to collect, and shortly after we had retired, they amounted to about fifty men. They surrounded the house of Mr. Knight-whither we had retired-raging with anger, and apparently determined to commit violence upon us. Some asked us questions, others threatened us, so that we thought it wisdom to leave and go to the house of Newel Knight. There also they followed us, and it was only by the exercise of great prudence on our part, and reliance in our heavenly Father, that they were kept from laying violent hands upon us; and so long as they chose to stay, we were obliged to answer them various unprofitable questions, and bear with insults and threatenings without number.
We had appointed a meeting for this evening, for the purpose of attending to the confirmation of those who had been the same morning baptized. The time appointed had arrived and our friends had nearly all collected together, when to my surprise, I was visited by a constable, and arrested by him on a warrant, on the charge of being a disorderly person, of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon, etc. The constable informed me, soon after I had been arrested, that the plan of those who had got out the warrant was to get me into the hands of the mob, who were now lying in ambush for me; but that he was determined to save me from them, as he had found me to be a different sort of person from what I had been represented to him. I soon found that he had told me the truth in this matter, for not far from Mr. Knight's house, the wagon in which we had set out was surrounded by a mob, who seemed only to await some signal from the constable; but to their great disappointment, he gave the horse the whip, and drove me out of their reach.
Whilst driving in great haste one of the wagon wheels came off, which left us once more very nearly surrounded by them, as they had come on in close pursuit. However, we managed to replace the wheel and again left them behind us. He drove on to the town of South Bainbridge, Chenango county, where he lodged me for the time being in an upper room of a tavern; and in order that all might be right with himself and with me also, he slept during the night with his feet against the door, and a loaded musket by his side, whilst I occupied a bed which was in the room; he having declared that if we were interrupted unlawfully, he would fight for me, and defend me as far as it was in his power.
On the day following, a court was convened for the purpose of investigating those charges which had been preferred against me. A great excitement prevailed on account of the scandalous falsehoods which had been circulated, the nature of which will appear in the sequel. In the meantime, my friend, Joseph Knight, had repaired to two of his neighbors, viz., James Davidson and John Reid, Esqrs., respectable farmers, men renowned for their integrity, and well versed in the laws of their country; and retained them on my behalf during my trial.
At length the trial commenced amidst a multitude of spectators, who in general evinced a belief that I was guilty of all that had been reported concerning me, and of course were very zealous that I should be punished according to my crimes...[At length, when the proffered charges were proven to be false,] several other attempts were made to prove something against me, and even circumstances which were alleged to have taken place in Broome county, were brought forward, but these my lawyers would not admit of as testimony against me; in consequence of which my persecutors managed to detain the court until they had succeeded in obtaining a warrant from Broome county, which warrant they served upon me at the very moment that I was acquitted by this court.
The constable who served this second warrant upon me had no sooner arrested me than he began to abuse and insult me; and so unfeeling was he with me, that although I had been kept all the day in court without anything to eat since the morning, yet he hurried me off to Broome county, a distance of about fifteen miles, before he allowed me any kind of food whatever. He took me to a tavern, and gathered in a number of men, who used every means to abuse, ridicule and insult me. They spit up on me, pointed their fingers at me, saying, "Prophesy, prophesy!" and thus did they imitate those who crucified the Savior of mankind, not knowing what they did.
We were at this time not far distant from my own house. I wished to be allowed the privilege of spending the night with my wife at home, offering any wished for security for my appearance; but this was denied me. I applied for something to eat. The constable ordered me some crusts of bread and water, which was the only food I that night received. At length we retired to bed. The constable made me lie next the wall. He then laid himself down by me and put his arm around me, and upon my moving in the least, would clench me fast, fearing that I intended to escape from him; and in this very disagreeable manner did we pass the night.
Next day I was brought before the magistrate's court at Colesville, Broome county, and put upon my trial. My former faithful friends and lawyers were again at my side; my former persecutors were arrayed against me. Many witnesses were again called forward and examined, some of whom swore to the most palpable falsehoods, and like the false witnesses which had appeared against me the day previous, they contradicted themselves so plainly that the court would not admit their testimony. Others were called, who showed by their zeal that they were willing enough to prove something against me, but all they could do was to tell something which somebody else had told them.
In this frivolous and vexatious manner did they proceed for a considerable time, when, finally, Newel Knight was called up and examined by Lawyer Seymour, who had been especially sent for on this occasion. One Lawyer Burch, also, was on the side of the prosecution; but Mr. Seymour seemed to be a more zealous Presbyterian, and appeared very anxious and determined that the people should not be deluded by any one professing the power of godliness, and not "denying the power thereof."
Mr. Knight was sworn, and Mr. Seymour interrogated him as follows:
"Did the prisoner, Joseph Smith, Jun., cast the devil out of you?"
"Why, have not you had the devil cast out of you?"
"And had not Joe Smith some hand in its being done?"
"And did not he cast him out of you?"
"No, sir; it was done by the power of God, and Joseph Smith was the instrument in the hands of God, on the occasion. He commanded him to come out of me in the name of Jesus Christ."
"And are you sure that it was the devil?"
"Yes, sir. "
"Did you see him after he was cast out of you?"
"Yes sir! I saw him."
"Pray, what did he look like?"
[Here one of my lawyers informed the witness that he need not answer the question.] The witness replied:
"I believe I need not answer your last question, but I will do it, provided I be allowed to ask you one question first, and you answer me, viz., Do you, Mr. Seymour, understand the things of the spirit?
"No," answered Mr. Seymour, "I do not pretend to such big things."
"Well, then," replied Knight, "it would be of no use to tell you what the devil looked like, for it was a spiritual sight, and spiritually discerned; and of course you would not understand it were I to tell you of it.
The lawyer dropped his head, whilst the loud laugh of the audience proclaimed his discomfiture.
Mr. Seymour now addressed the court, and in a long and violent harangue endeavored to blacken my character and bring me in guilt of the charges which had been brought against me. Among other things, he brought up the story of my having been a money-digger; and in this manner proceeded, hoping evidently to influence the court and the people against me.
Mr. Davidson and Mr. Reid followed on my behalf. They held forth in true colors the nature of the prosecution, the malignancy of intention, and the apparent disposition to persecute their client, rather than to afford him justice. They took up the different arguments which had been brought by the lawyers for the prosecution, and having shown their utter futility and misapplication, then proceeded to scrutinize the evidence which had been adduced, and each, in his turn, thanked God that he had been engaged in so good a cause as that of defending a man whose character stood so well the test of such a strict investigation. In fact, these men, although not regular lawyers, were upon this occasion able to put to silence their opponents, and convince the court that I was innocent. They spoke like men inspired of God, whilst those who were arrayed against me trembled under the sound of their voices, and quailed before them like criminals before a bar of justice.
The majority of the assembled multitude had now begun to find that nothing could be sustained against me. Even the constable who arrested me, and treated me so badly, now came and apologized to me and asked my forgiveness for his behavior towards me; and so far was he changed, that he informed me that the mob were determined, if the court acquitted me, that they would have me, and rail-ride me, and tar and feather me; and further, that he was willing to favor me and lead me out in safety by a private way.
The court found the charges against me not sustained; I was accordingly acquitted, to the great satisfaction of my friends and vexation of my enemies, who were still determined upon molesting me. But through the instrumentality of my new friend the constable, I was enabled to escape them and make my way in safety to my wife's sister's house, where I found my wife awaiting with much anxiety the issue of those ungodly proceedings, and in company with her I arrived next day in safety at my own house.
After a few days I returned to Colesville, in company with Oliver Cowdery, for the purpose of confirming those whom we had been forced to leave for a time. We had scarcely arrived at Mr. Knight's, when the mob was seen collecting together to oppose us, and we considered it wisdom to leave for home, which we did, without even waiting for any refreshments. Our enemies pursued us, and it was oftentimes as much as we could do to elude them. However, we managed to get home, after having traveled all night, except a short time, during which we were forced to rest ourselves under a large tree by the wayside, sleeping and watching alternately.
Thus were we persecuted on account of our religious faith-in a country the Constitution of which guarantees to every man the indefeasible right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience-and by men, too, who were professors of religion, and who were not backward to maintain the right of religious liberty for themselves, though they could thus wantonly deny it to us. For instance, Cyrus McMaster, a Presbyterian of high standing in his church, was one of the chief instigators of these persecutions; and he at one time told me personally that he considered me guilty without judge or jury. The celebrated Dr. Boyington, also a Presbyterian, was another instigator of these deeds of outrage; whilst a young man named Benton, of the same religious faith, swore out the first warrant against me. I could mention many others also, but for brevity's sake, will make these suffice for the present. (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], 1:84-98)
DC 24:2 thou art not excusable in thy transgressions
George Q. Cannon
Instead of being lifted up by the favor which had been shown to him, Joseph was made to feel his own weaknesses. Chosen to be a prophet and the leader of God's people, he was conscious that he was only human, subject to human temptations and human frailties. Having the honesty and courage inspired by the Spirit of the Lord, he dared to confess this openly; and, under the same inspiration, acknowledge his transgression and make his contrition known. He was not above any law which applied to his fellow-man. (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 1: 269 - 270.)
DC 24:3 Magnify thine office
Gordon B. Hinckley
Magnificent and moving is the promise to every man and boy who magnifies his calling as a holder of the priesthood. Said the Lord concerning you, they are to be "sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God." (D&C 84:33-34.)
Further, all that the Father hath shall be given unto them.
There is no greater promise than this. I have seen and known such men. I met some such the other day when I was at the St. George Temple. I have known and watched these brethren for many years. Their hair is now white, and they do not walk with that vitality which was once their characteristic. Those of whom I speak have never had much of wealth. But they have had much of wisdom, and they have had much of faith. They are men who since the days of their youth have held the priesthood of God, have walked in its light, and have magnified their callings. They have left home at personal sacrifice to serve as missionaries and as mission presidents. They have served as bishops and presidents of stakes. Wherever they have gone, whether in their vocational or ecclesiastical callings, they have touched a candle with the flame of their own faith and brought light where before there was darkness.
In season and out of season, in sunshine and in storm, in defeat as well as in victory, they have kept their eyes at the right end of the lens, magnifying their callings and bringing closer, as it were, the sacred and eternal things of God.
How do we do this? How do we enlarge the power of the priesthood with which we have been endowed? We do it when we teach true and sound doctrine. ("Magnify Your Calling," Ensign, May 1989, 48)
DC 24:6 it shall be given thee in the very moment what thou shalt speak and write
"Since Joseph Smith almost always spoke extemporaneously, without a prepared text, there are no drafts to help document his discourses. In 1843 he told an audience, 'I am not like other men, my mind is continually occupied with the business of the day, and I have to depend entirely upon the living God for everything I say on such occasions as these.' This was his common practice, a practice suggested by revelation in 1830: 'It shall be given thee in the very moment what thou shall speak and write.' Occasionally the theme of his address suggested itself as he faced his audience. In March 1842 the Prophet approached a Nauvoo congregation to deliver a discourse on the subject of baptism, 'but as a young child was dead & his Corpes [sic] presented in the assembly,' he changed his remarks to the topic of death and the resurrection. The following year he told a gathering of Saints in the temple that the subject of his discourse had presented itself after he came to the stand." (Dean C. Jessee, "Priceless Words and Fallible Memories: Joseph Smith as Seen in the Effort to Preserve His Discourses", BYU Studies, vol. 31 (1991), Number 2 - Spring 1991 26.)
F. Burton Howard
As I have better understood my relationship with the Holy Ghost, I have come to know:
...What it is to begin a missionary interview with the question, never asked before or since, "Elder, who have you been fighting with?"-and to hear the astonished reply, "President, how did you know?"
What it is to pay a surprise visit to a distant city only to hear someone say, "I have been praying for days that you would come."
Occasionally, I have had time to pray and ponder before acting on the promptings of the Comforter. More often, I have found myself as Nephi, "led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do." (1 Ne. 4:6.)
The Lord told Joseph and Oliver, "It shall be given thee in the very moment what thou shalt speak and write." (D&C 24:6.)
To Thomas B. Marsh he said, "Go your way whithersoever I will, and it shall be given you by the Comforter what ye shall do and whither you shall go." (D&C 31:11.)
What to say! What to write! Where to go! What to do! Such guidance, if given infrequently for only some of life's decisions, would be priceless. But the broader promise given to the Prophet Joseph, at Salem, Massachusetts was that "for the main," (or for the most part) the place he should tarry would be revealed to him by the peace and power of the Spirit. (See D&C 111:8.) And the Three Witnesses were told that the Holy Ghost would manifest "all things which are expedient unto the children of men." (D&C 18:18.)
This is of monumental significance. It is then easier to understand why President Marion G. Romney in the April 1974 general conference said, "The importance of receiving the Holy Ghost is beyond expression." (In Conference Report, April 1974, p. 134.) ("The Gift of Knowing," Ensign, Sept. 1983, 33)
DC 24:8 Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many
Marion D. Hanks
God does not deny us the experience we came here to have. He does not insulate us from tribulation or guarantee immunity from trouble. ("A Loving, Communicating God," Ensign, Nov. 1992, 64)
Tribulation, afflictions, and trials will constantly be with us in our sojourn here in this segment of eternity, just as the Savior said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation." (John 16:33.) Therefore, the great challenge in this earthly life is not to determine how to escape the afflictions and problems, but rather to carefully prepare ourselves to meet them.
I say prepare ourselves because it demands persistent effort to develop patience as a personal attribute. In practicing patience, one comes to understand it and to acquire it.
From Liberty Jail, in a time of anguish and deep suffering for the gospel's sake, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote the following message to the Saints: "Dear brethren, do not think that our hearts faint, as though some strange thing had happened unto us, for we have seen and been assured of all these things beforehand, and have an assurance of a better hope than that of our persecutors. Therefore God hath made broad our shoulders for the burden. We glory in our tribulation, because we know that God is with us, that He is our friend, and that He will save our souls." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 123.)
We must have patience in order to withstand pain and grief without complaint or discouragement, which detract from the Spirit. It's necessary to have patience in the face of tribulation and persecution for the cause of truth, which sets an example because the manner in which we bear our cross will be an influence to others to help lighten their load. ("Patience in Affliction," Ensign, May 1992, 25)
James E. Faust
Let us not presume that because the way is at times difficult and challenging, our Heavenly Father is not mindful of us. He is rubbing off our rough edges and sensitizing us for our great responsibilities ahead. May His blessings be upon us spiritually, that we may have a sweet companionship with the Holy Ghost, and that our footsteps might be guided along paths of truth and righteousness. And may each of us follow the Lord's comforting counsel: "Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days." ("The Blessings of Adversity," Ensign, Feb. 1998, 7)
George Q. Cannon
The Lord said to Joseph in the beginning, "Be patient in afflictions; for thou shalt have many." (D&C 24:8.) So it is with all of us. We have great afflictions from time to time. It seems to be necessary that we should be tried and proved to see whether we are full of integrity or not. In this way we get to know ourselves and our own weaknesses; and the Lord knows us, and our brethren and sisters know us.
Therefore, it is a precious gift to have the gift of patience, to be good-tempered, to be cheerful, to not be depressed, to not give way to wrong feelings and become impatient and irritable. It is a blessed gift for all to possess. (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 156.)
DC 24:8 thou shalt have many
By most estimates, the Prophet was arrested and acquitted some thirty-nine times. Imagine all that young Joseph has been through-just to get the Book of Mormon printed and the Church established! Then he is told that the trouble is just beginning! There is hardly an individual, save Jesus and perhaps Paul, who suffered as much in the cause of truth.
Deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it. (DC 127:2)
Marvin J. Ashton
The words "For, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days" were the Lord's voice of gladness to His beloved Prophet. His message to Joseph Smith and to us is "You can do it, and I will help you." ("A Voice of Gladness," Ensign, May 1991, 18)
DC 24:8 For lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days
"The pressure of trying to do a million things right and feeling like a failure was beginning to weigh me down...Then one Sunday in Laurel class something happened that gave me the comfort and assurance I had been seeking. Our lesson for that particular Sunday was on pressures. How appropriate, I thought. The lesson did offer some helpful hints, but it was a scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants that seemed directed specifically at me.
"'Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days' (D&C 24:8).
"How could I have been so forgetful? I was never alone. My Heavenly Father was beside me the whole way. In the face of my trials and pressures, I had simply forgotten. As I looked back, I realized that the trials I had been through had made me stronger. Through opposition, I had grown. I felt ready to face future obstacles, knowing that my Heavenly Father would be right beside me, helping me to overcome them. (Arianna Devite, "Lo, I Am with Thee," New Era, Feb. 1998, 19)
DC 24:9 in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength
Dallin H. Oaks
Joseph was attacked physically on many occasions. He was often hounded by false charges. He was almost continually on the edge of financial distress. In the midst of trying to fulfill the staggering responsibilities of his sacred calling, he had to labor as a farmer or merchant to provide a living for his family. He did this without the remarkable spiritual gifts that sustained him in his prophetic calling. The Lord had advised him that "in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling" (D&C 24:9). ("Joseph, the Man and the Prophet," Ensign, May 1996, 71)
DC 24:9 continue in laying on of the hands and confirming the churches
Many of the Colesville branch had recently been baptized in a stream by a makeshift dam. However, the Prophet was arrested prior to confirming them members of the church. The Lord now instructs Joseph to attend to unfinished business "in laying on of the hands and confirming the churches." Satan was not to succeed in keeping the members from enjoying the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Joseph Knight, Jr.
Joseph and Oliver came to Colesville, in May, 1830, where we lived, and Oliver baptized my father's family, and a few of my relatives. When we were going from the water, we were met by many of our neighbors, who pointed at us and asked if we had been washing our sheep. Before Joseph could confirm us, he was taken by the officers to Chenango County for trial, for saying that the Book of Mormon was a revelation from God.
My father employed two lawyers to plead for him, and they cleared him. That night our wagons were turned over and wood piled on them, and some sunk in the water. Rails were piled against our doors, and chains sunk in the stream, and a great deal of mischief done. Before Joseph got to my father's house, he was taken again to be tried in Broome County. Father employed the same lawyers, who cleared him there.
Four weeks passed before Joseph could get a chance to confirm us. Then we had the greatest time I ever saw. The house was filled with the Holy Ghost, which rested upon us.
(Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 6.)
DC 24:10-12 I will give him strength such as is not known among men
Gordon B. Hinckley
Every officer has the responsibility to magnify his calling in teaching the order of God.
Said the Lord in this dispensation to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, "Magnify thine office." (D&C 24:3.)
Further, "Attend to thy calling and thou shalt have wherewith to magnify thine office." (D&C 24:9.).
In that same revelation the Lord said concerning Oliver Cowdery some interesting and remarkable things: "In me he shall have glory, and not of himself, whether in weakness or in strength, whether in bonds or free; And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men." (D&C 24:11-12.)
Oliver, with Joseph Smith, received the Aaronic Priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist, and subsequently the Melchizedek Priesthood under the hands of Peter, James, and John. He magnified that priesthood as a witness to the Book of Mormon, as a Counselor to the Prophet, as one to select the Twelve Apostles and to instruct them, as a missionary in moving the Church across the frontiers of the western territories, and as a teacher and speaker whose voice rang with great and persuasive power.
But he turned and began to look through the wrong end of the lens. He found fault. He complained. His calling shrank, he diminished his priesthood, he distanced himself from those in authority in the Church.
Gone was the voice of persuasion, gone was the power of the priesthood of God which he once held and magnified. For eleven years, he walked almost alone, without friends. He walked in poverty and in sickness.
Then in the fall of 1848, he and his family made their way to Council Bluffs and found themselves again among many of the Saints who at that time were moving to the West. At a conference held in Kanesville on the 24th of October, 1848, he stood and said:
"Friends and Brethren:
"My name is Cowdery-Oliver Cowdery. In the history of the Church I stood ... in her councils. Not because I was better than other men was I called ... to fill the purposes of God. He called me to a high and holy calling. I wrote with my own pen the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and he translated it by the power and gift of God, by means of the Urim and Thummim, or as it is called by that book, 'Holy Interpreter.'
"I beheld with my eyes and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was translated. ... That book is true, Sidney Rigdon did not write it; Mr. Spaulding did not write it; I wrote it myself as it fell from the lips of the Prophet. ...
"I was present with Joseph when an Holy Angel from Heaven came down and conferred upon us ... the Aaronic Priesthood, and said to us, at the same time, that it should remain on earth while the earth stands. I was also present with Joseph when the Higher or Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred by the Holy Angels from on high. ...
"Brethren, for a number of years, I have been separated from you. I now desire to come back. I wish to come humble and be one in your midst. I seek no station. I only wish to be identified with you. I am out of the Church, but I wish to become a member. I wish to come in at the door: I know the door, I have not come here to seek precedence. I come humbly and throw myself upon the decision of the body, knowing as I do, that its decisions are right." (Stanley R. Gunn, Oliver Cowdery, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1962, pp. 203-4.)
He was accepted. He was baptized again. He longed to gather with the Saints in the valleys of the mountains, but he died March 3, 1850, without ever realizing that dream.
His is one of the most touching, pathetic stories in the history of this great work. So long as he magnified his calling, he was magnified. When he diminished that calling, he shrank to oblivion and poverty. He came back, but he never regained his previous stature. He never regained the incomparable promise given him by the Lord that, conditioned upon his faithfulness, he should have glory and be given "strength such as is not known among men." (D&C 24:12.) ("Magnify Your Calling," Ensign, May 1989, 47-48)
DC 24:13 require not miracles
Chieko N. Okazaki
It's as if the Lord were saying, "I want people to develop faith in me by the Holy Ghost, so I want you to go out and preach the gospel, Oliver, but don't do any miracles-I mean, any miracles except just those simple, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill miracles, of course. I mean, it's okay to cast out devils, heal the sick, be protected against poisons and snakes-but nothing flashy, you understand. Nothing spectacular that will compel belief." I think most of us would willingly settle for those miracles in our lives. (Disciples [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 231.)
Dallin H. Oaks
The true church does not convert by signs and wonders, but by the testimony of the Holy Ghost. The Lord's way of teaching religious truths is not by a public miracle or sign, but by a personal testimony. (The Lord's Way, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991, p. 88)
DC 24:13 against poisonous serpents
"My 11-year-old son, Matthew, was a new Scout, and his Scout troop planned a hike along the Las Cruces Trail [in Panama]...
"Leaving early in the morning, my husband, Dave, and two other leaders accompanied my son and five other Boy Scouts on the hike. After they traveled about two and a half miles, the trail became hard to follow. Dave began leading the way single file through the undergrowth by going ahead a little way and then calling for the others to follow. Matthew, second in line, was hiking toward his father when suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his calf. He assumed he had been pricked by a thorn bush until, behind him, one of the Scouts yelled, 'Snake!' There in the middle of the overgrown trail was a fer-de-lance, one of Panama's most common and deadly poisonous snakes, known locally as an 'x' for the x-shaped pattern on its skin. My husband quickly checked Matthew's leg and discovered puncture marks on his calf. The Scoutmaster killed the snake so he could take it back for positive identification.
"The boys gathered around. They had been hiking nearly three hours over a sometimes steep trail and wondered how they could get Matthew back to a doctor in time. Before leaving, the men gave Matthew a priesthood blessing. In the blessing my husband felt impressed to say that the snake had not been permitted to inject much poison into the leg, which helped everyone feel more calm and peaceful. To keep Matthew from walking and spreading poison through his blood, the leaders took turns carrying Matthew on their backs, and it was 12:30 P.M. when they finally arrived at the hospital-three hours after the bite.
"Doctors examining the leg were astonished to find Matthew had no symptoms of poisoning-no swelling, no sickness, no fever, and no sign of venom in his blood. This was unusual since victims often die within an hour or, if they live, at least lose a limb. The doctors kept Matthew for observation for 24 hours, but no sign of illness appeared, and they sent him home.
"In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord revealed to Oliver Cowdery that he should 'require not miracles, except I shall command you, ... and [except] against poisonous serpents' (D&C 24:13). The Scouts learned a great lesson that day about the power of the priesthood to preserve life. And when Matthew was ordained a deacon a few months later, he deeply respected the privilege he was given to be one of those who hold the priesthood." (Jerri Diane Scott, "Danger on the Las Cruces Trail," Ensign, Oct. 1998, 62)
DC 24:14 these things ye shall not do, except it be required of you by them who desire it
James A. Cullimore
Administration to the sick should be done at the request of the sick persons or someone close to them who is concerned about them, that it might be done through their faith. The Lord said, "And these things ye shall not do, except it be required of you by them who desire it, that the scriptures might be fulfilled; for ye shall do according to that which is written." (D&C 24:14.) ("Gifts of the Spirit," Ensign, Nov. 1974, 28)
Gene R. Cook
Some people have misinterpreted those verses, I think, to mean that we shouldn't give a blessing unless asked to do so. Let me give you an example. A serious earthquake occurred in a Central American country where I was serving as the area president. Nearly ten thousand people were killed, including several members of the Church.
On the first evening after the earthquake, I went into a chapel where we were housing some of the injured. The electricity was out, and the church was dark. People were suffering, and they had no medical supplies. The first three people I came upon had serious injuries-one had a broken hip, another had a broken arm, and the third had serious internal injuries. I asked each one, "Have you had a priesthood blessing?" Each said no.
I was quite surprised at this. I took the bishop into the hall and asked, "Bishop, why haven't these people had blessings?"
He answered, "No one has asked for one, Elder Cook. I couldn't give a blessing unless I was asked, could I?" Well, that wasn't too wise, was it?
When people seem to need a blessing but have not asked for one, we might review with them the counsel found in James 5:14-16: "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Then we might bear testimony to the healing power of the priesthood and say something like, "You know, Sister Brown, I wonder if you would like to have a blessing. You don't have to have one, of course. But if you would like one, I would be pleased to give it to you." When I have used such an approach, no one has ever said no.
We walk a fine line in such matters. The Lord wants people to ask for a blessing as a measure of their faith. But many people don't even know a blessing is available. Others are not sensitive enough to ask, or they may have forgotten about the possibility and need a gentle reminder. We can at least set the stage and then hope they will ask. (Raising Up a Family to the Lord [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 68-69.)
DC 24:15 in whatsoever place… they receive you not… ye shall leave a cursing instead of a blessing
“On the 30th of June… [1830, Joseph Smith’s younger brother Samuel H. Smith] took some copies of the Book of Mormon and started out on his mission, to which he had been set apart by his brother Joseph and on traveling twenty-five miles, which was his first day’s journey, he stopped at a number of places in order to sell his books, but was turned out of doors as soon as he declared his principles. When evening came on, he was faint and almost discouraged, but coming to an inn, which was surrounded with every appearance of plenty, he called to see if the landlord would buy one of his books. On going in, Samuel inquired of him, if he did not wish to purchase a history of the origin of the Indians. ‘I do not know,’ replied the host, ‘how did you get hold of it?’ ‘It was translated,’ rejoined Samuel, ‘by my brother from some gold plates that he found buried in the earth.’ ‘You d—d liar,’ cried the landlord, ‘get out of my house—you shant stay one minute with your books.’ Samuel was sick at heart for this was the fifth time he had been turned out of doors that day. He left the house, and traveled a short distance, and washed his feet in a small brook, as a testimony against the man. He then proceeded five miles further on his journey, and seeing an apple tree a short distance from the road, he concluded to pass the night under it; and here he lay all night upon the cold damp ground.
“…[returning to the area 2 weeks later with his parents], it was their intention to have passed near the tavern, where Samuel was so abusively treated a fortnight previous, but just before they came to the house, a sign of smallpox intercepted them. They turned aside, and meeting a citizen of the place, they inquired of him to what extent this disease prevailed. He answered, that the tavern-keeper and two of his family had died with it not long since… that it was brought into the neighborhood by a traveler who stopped at the tavern over night.” (Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, [Americana, 1901] 279)
DC 24:16 whosoever shall lay their hands upon you by violence...behold, I will smite them according to your words
The Lord once told me that what I asked for I should have. I have been afraid to ask God to kill my enemies, lest some of them should, peradventure, repent.
I asked a short time since for the Lord to deliver me out of the hands of the Governor of Missouri, and if it needs must be to accomplish it, to take him away; and the next news that came pouring down from there was, that Governor Reynolds had shot himself. And I would now say, Beware, O earth, how you fight against the Saints of God and shed innocent blood; for in the days of Elijah, his enemies came upon him, and fire was called down from heaven and destroyed them. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 340.)
DC 24:17 whosoever shall go to law with thee shall be cursed by the law
Gordon B. Hinckley
We see the need for [repentance] in the homes of the people, where tiny molehills of misunderstanding are fanned into mountains of argument. We see it among neighbors, where insignificant differences lead to undying bitterness. We see it in business associates who quarrel and refuse to compromise and forgive when, in most instances, if there were a willingness to sit down together and speak quietly one to another, the matter could be resolved to the blessing of all. Rather, they spend their days nurturing grudges and planning retribution.
In that first year of the organization of the Church, when the Prophet Joseph Smith was repeatedly arrested and tried on false charges by those who sought to injure him, the Lord said to him through revelation, "Whosoever shall go to law with thee shall be cursed by the law." (D&C 24:17.) I have seen that in our time among some of those who have vindictively pursued their nurtured grudges. Even among some of those who win their contests there appears to be little peace of mind, and while they may have gained dollars, they have lost something more precious. ("Of You It Is Required to Forgive," Ensign, June 1991, 2)
DC 24:18 thou shalt take no purse, nor scrip
"There are many references to scrip in the Bible: 1 Sam. 17:40, Matt. 10:10, Mark 6:8, Luke 9:3, Luke 10:4, Luke 22:35-36.
"Without exception these references are to a bag used to carry provisions, a sack in which clothing and/or food was carried. In no case do they refer to money. The 'purse' in these scriptures is a money bag. The reference in Mark clearly distinguishes between 'money in their purse' and 'scrip,' neither of which was to be taken by missionaries.
"William Smith's Dictionary of the Bible clarifies that 'scrip' was a bag in which Palestinian shepherds carried their food or other necessities. The connotation here is a stronger injunction than 'don't take money.' The Savior required that more faith be exercised: do not take money or food or extra clothing. Trust in God to provide all that you need, through the kindness of those whom you meet.
"Three references in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 24:18, D&C 84:78, 86) suggest that those who go out to preach the gospel leave money, extra clothing, food, and luggage behind. The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary discusses scrip as a knapsack or satchel (p. 171).
"The phrase 'without purse or scrip' takes on special meaning to those who receive the priesthood call to so go. Scholarly definitions pale next to the legitimate experience of relying on the Lord for physical as well as spiritual sustenance." (Blaine Lee, "Comment," Ensign, July 1979, 75)