DC 58 Historical Background
"On 19 June, Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge, Martin Harris, Joseph Coe, William W. Phelps, and Sidney Gilbert and his wife Elizabeth finally began their nearly nine-hundred-mile journey from Kirtland to the western border of Missouri. At last they were fulfilling their long-awaited hope and were bound for the land of Zion, although they did not know at this point exactly where it was located. Journeying to Cincinnati, the Prophet's company booked passage on a steamer headed down the Ohio River to its junction with the Mississippi and then on up into St. Louis. En route, they were joined by the Colesville branch under the direction of Newel Knight.
"The journey to Missouri was not an easy one. This was particularly true for the Colesville Saints who left Thompson, Ohio, carrying their belongings and provisions in twenty-four wagons. At Wellsville, Ohio, they left the wagons and traveled by steamboat down the Ohio River to the junction of the Mississippi River. They then traveled up the Mississippi River to St. Louis. At St. Louis, Newel Knight and his company and some of the Prophet's companions elected to journey by steamboat on the Missouri River. This necessitated a wait of several days before passage could be secured. The Prophet and the others set out on foot and arrived in Independence about the middle of July, approximately ten days before those on the steamer arrived. Joseph described the journey as 'long and tedious' and said they arrived only after 'suffering many privations and hardhips.' Newel Knight said the task of leading the Colesville Saints 'required all the wisdom' he possessed." (Church History in the Fulness of Times, 1989 Institute Manual, p. 103-104)
The first Sabbath after our arrival in Jackson county, Brother W. W. Phelps preached to a western audience over the boundary of the United States, wherein were present specimens of all the families of the earth; Shem, Ham and Japheth; several of the Lamanites or Indians-representative of Shem; quite a respectable number of negroes-descendants of Ham; and the balance was made up of citizens of the surrounding country, and fully represented themselves as pioneers of the West. At this meeting two were baptized, who had previously believed in the fulness of the Gospel.
During this week the Colesville branch, referred to in the latter part of the last revelation [D&C 57], and Sidney Rigdon, Sidney Gilbert and wife and Elders Morley and Booth, arrived. (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: 191.)
DC 58:3 ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God
Gerald N. Lund
D&C 58 was given while the Prophet and others were in Zion on 1 August 1831. Now knowing what lay ahead of the Saints, with our perspective of history, these verses become very significant.
Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.
Remember this, which I tell you before, that you may lay it to heart, and receive that which is to follow (D&C 58:3-5).
That which was to follow included being mobbed, persecuted, and eventually driven out. That is the beginning message.
Keeping that in mind, let us look at D&C 101, where the Lord gives another message as the Jackson County history has unfolded. The Lord said simply:
And they that have been scattered shall be gathered. . .
And all they who have given their lives for my name shall be crowned.
Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God (D&C 101:13, 15-16; emphasis added).
What an interesting message to start and end with-one given as the Saints arrived in Zion, the other as they were driven out. If I could combine those, they would read something like this: "You cannot behold with your natural eyes the design of your God concerning you. Be still and know that I am God."
...When we talk about divine tutorials, consider Joseph Smith, Sr., who moved ten times in twenty years. He invested in the ginseng root, which looked for all purposes like an excellent investment; and his business partner absconded with the funds. He moved to another area, and they had the worst winter in many years and three successive crop failures. I am sure there were times when Joseph Smith, Sr., felt like crying out, "What am I doing wrong?" And the Lord's answer may well be summed up as "You cannot behold with your natural eyes. Be still and know that I need you in western New York so your son can be close to a hill called Cumorah."
In recent years I have gained a greater appreciation for Emma Smith than I have ever had before. I would not want to whitewash Emma. I think she made some foolish choices, but then I think about the constant ridicule she had to endure, the constant terror of being mobbed. She saw her husband dragged out by angry men in the night, not knowing if he would come back alive. She saw her first three children die and one of the adopted twins die. She went through incredible challenges.
There is a family story about Joseph's arrival in Kirtland. He drove up to the Newel K. Whitney Store and said, "Newel K. Whitney! Thou art the man! . . . You've prayed me here, now what do you want of me?" In one little line that I had missed before, he mentioned that they had traveled from New York by sleigh, and Emma was seven months pregnant with twins. That is over two hundred miles in the winter by sleigh when you are seven months pregnant with twins. Talk about divine tutorials. Did Emma pass the tests? I do not know, but I know this: I have a new and deeper appreciation for Emma.
Speaking of divine tutorials for Emma, remember what the Lord said to her in D&C 25. It is great counsel to an elect lady: "Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come" (v. 4).
I have tried to put myself in Emma's place and wonder if I could say, "Okay, I understand why I cannot see the pages. It is because you are not going to allow Joseph to show them to anyone." But then they move to David Whitmer's home in Fayette, and a few nights later Mary Whitmer comes back into the house to report that she has had the most incredible experience. Moroni appeared to her and told her that bringing three more adults into the home was quite a load. So to strengthen her, he showed Mary Whitmer the pages.
How would you feel if you were Emma as Mary Whitmer came back into the cabin and told the story of seeing the plates? Talk about sacrifice. Did Emma not have a heavy load too-her parents angry, taking all the ridicule that came with marrying Joseph, acting as scribe, seeing her firstborn die shortly after birth? Talk about somebody who deserved to see the plates! But the Lord said, "You cannot behold with your natural eyes. Be still. Murmur not."
Well, a thousand such questions come out of Church history. Why Haun's Mill? Why is the way so hard? Why does the Lord let those things happen? And very often the only answer is that "you cannot behold with your natural eyes the design of your God concerning you. Be still and know that I am God and that I care for you and that my hand is in your life." (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 403-405)
DC 58:4 the hour is not yet, but is night at hand
While the Lord revealed where Zion would be built, he did not reveal when it would be built. Obviously, the saints in 1831 thought that the redemption of Zion was imminent. The Lord knew that the great city would only be built "after much tribulation." (v. 3) Some of the meridian saints expected that the Second Coming would occur in their day, not understanding the timetable of the Lord(see 1 Jn 2:18). As this dispensation opened, the same conjecture led to misunderstanding regarding the timing of the redemption of Zion.
Since we don't know when the Lord will command the building of this great city, we are to perform our duty, follow the Brethren, and patiently await the redemption of Zion, figuratively building up Zion in our families, wards, and communities.
Spencer W. Kimball
I should like to talk about the building of Zion through sacrifice and consecration. For many years we have been taught that one important end result of our labors, hopes, and aspirations is the building of a Latter-day Zion, a Zion characterized by love, harmony, and peace-a Zion in which the Lord's children are as one.
The vision of what we are about and what should come of our labors must be kept uppermost in our minds as we learn and do our duty in all aspects of gospel living and Church activities. In the fifty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord shares with us a glimpse of this Latter-day Zion: (quotes D&C 58:3-12.)
This day will come; it is our destiny to help bring it about! Doesn't it motivate you to lengthen your stride and quicken your pace as you do your part in the great sanctifying work of the kingdom? It does me. It causes me to rejoice over the many opportunities for service and sacrifice afforded me and my family as we seek to do our part in establishing Zion.
In the earliest years of this dispensation the people faltered in attempting to live the full plan of Zion. Because of their transgressions, the Lord chastened them in these words:
Behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;
And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;
And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself. (D&C 105:3-5.)
The Lord further counsels that we must learn obedience and be developed in character before he can redeem Zion. (See D&C 105:9-10.) ("Becoming the Pure in Heart," Ensign, Mar. 1985, 3-4)
DC 58:8 that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail
Joseph Fielding Smith
Nearly 100 years have passed since the site of Zion was dedicated and the spot for the temple was chosen, and some of the members of the Church seem to be fearful lest the word of the Lord shall fail. Others have tried to convince themselves that the original plan has been changed and that the Lord does not require at our hands this mighty work which has been predicted by the prophets of ancient times. We have not been released from this responsibility, nor shall we be. The word of the Lord will not fail.
If we look back and examine his word carefully, we will discover that nothing has failed of all that he has predicted, neither shall one jot or tittle pass away unfulfilled. It is true that the Lord commanded the saints to build to his name a temple in Zion. This they attempted to do, but were prevented by their enemies, so the Lord did not require the work at their hands at that time. The release from the building of the temple did not, however, cancel the responsibility of building the City and the House of the Lord, at some future time. When the Lord gets ready for it to be accomplished, he will command his people, and the work will be done. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 3: 79.)
DC 58:10-11 First, the rich and...after that cometh the day of my power
The scriptures speak of three different groups who are invited to the supper of the Lamb. The first are the rich, learned, wise, and noble. These are those who should accept the invitation. However, they reject the servants because they are more concerned with the things of this world. Their excuses, "I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it,"..."I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them"..."I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come" (Lu. 14:18-20). As a group, "they made light of" the invitation, preferring to go their way, "one to his farm, another to his merchandise." (Matt. 22:5) Some of them actually get abusive, treating the servants spitefully and killing them. (Matt. 22:6)
The Lord becomes angry with them, determining to send forth his armies to destroy those who have killed his servants and burn up their cities (Matt. 22:7). This is what is meant by the phrase in DC 58:11, "And after that cometh the day of my power." To paraphrase, "after the world has rejected the message of my servants, after my servants have been abused and rejected, I will come down with vengeance in the day of my power to punish those who have rejected the invitation."
After the destruction of the worldly wicked, the second group invited are the poor, lame, blind, and deaf. Their physical ailments are both literal and figurative. They are the downtrodden, but they are also those who have been humble followers of Christ, those who have never rejected any of his invitations, those who always honor his servants. They are the poor in spirit to whom the kingdom belongs. They will sit at the table of the Lord, for he has promised, "I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth and with Moroni...and also with Elias...and also John...And also Elijah...and also with Joseph and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham..." (D&C 27:5-12)
The third group is not listed in D&C 58. They are those in "the highways and hedges," (Lu. 14:23) meaning that they are homeless, the outcasts of society. Spiritually speaking, they are the least likely to attend such a glorious feast. They may be the last to get an invitation but they are invited nonetheless, for all nations are to be invited to the feast and the heathen nations are to be redeemed (D&C 45:54).
DC 58:11 come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord
Those who keep the commandments of the Lord and walk in His statutes to the end, are the only individuals permitted to sit at this glorious feast... Reflect for a moment, brethren, and enquire, whether you would consider yourselves worthy a seat at the marriage feast with Paul and others like him, if you had been unfaithful? Had you not fought the good fight, and kept the faith, could you expect to receive? Have you a promise of receiving a crown of righteousness from the hand of the Lord, with the Church of the Firstborn? (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 63.)
DC 58:15 his sins... are unbelief and blindness of heart
In section 58, the Lord refers to the sins of four of his servants: Edward Partridge (v. 15), Martin Harris (v. 39), William W. Phelps (v. 41), and Ziba Peterson (v. 60). What is interesting is to examine what the Lord considers sin. For instance, most of the time latter-day saints define sin in terms of violating some commandment such as the Word of Wisdom or the Law of Chastity. The Lord, however, is concerned with the heart-not so much the outward sins but the inward ones.
For instance Edward Partridge is guilty of "unbelief and blindness of heart." Do we consider those things sins? Martin Harris is condemned for seeking "the praise of the world." Do we consider ourselves sinners when we do the same? William W. Phelps was reprimanded because he "seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek." Do we consider our own ambitions in this light?
With this in mind, we would all do well to take another look at ourselves, "for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." (1 Sam 16:7) We might even paraphrase this as follows, "the Lord seeth sin not as man seeth sin; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Perhaps we should be less concerned with outward sins and more concerned with our inward ones. Besides, repenting of the sins of the heart naturally prevents the outward expression of evil. For example, we should be less concerned with our swearing, and more concerned with the anger and jealousy which prompt them. Can we congratulate ourselves on keeping the 7th commandment while we continue to harbor lust in our hearts? Or perhaps we are "faithful saints" who are guilty of unbelief, blindness of heart, pride, willfulness, seeking the praise of the world, lack of meekness, etc. If so, can we stand before the Lord without shame? Will he be pleased with our performance if our heart has not been right? The lesson of section 58 is that we must repent of those invisible things which are seen only by the all-seeing eye of the Lord.
The First Presidency
On the occasion of the Prophet's first visit to Independence Missouri-Edward Partridge accompanied him-in the meetings and conferences held upon the land of Zion, Bishop Partridge several times strenuously opposed the measures of the Prophet, and was sharply reproved by the latter for his unbelief and hardness of heart. Indeed, the apostate, Ezra Booth, who was present, made the scene between the bishop and the Prophet one of the items that justified to him his apostasy. He refers to the circumstance in a letter, addressed to Bishop Partridge, which has been several times published in anti-"Mormon" literature. The Bishop, moreover, was reproved for his "blindness of heart and unbelief," and warned of the danger of falling from his high station. (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 4: 113.)
DC 58:21 Let no man break the laws of the land
Marion G. Romney
"The law of Christ" is all-inclusive. It concerns not only rules that shall govern beyond the grave, but also the law of nature here and now-local, national, and international.
Latter-day Saints should strictly obey the laws of the government in which they live. By our own declaration of faith we are committed to do so, for we declare to the world that "we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." (A of F 1:12.)
This we do in harmony with the Lord's command:
Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.
Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet. (D&C 58:21-22.)
"Civil authority is of divine origin. It may be more or less adapted to the needs of man; more or less just and benevolent, but, even at its worst, it is better than anarchy. Revolutionary movements that aim at the abolition of government itself are contrary to the law of God. ..." (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary [Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 339.)
When the "rule of law" breaks down in a family, a community, a state, or a nation, chaos reigns.
The kingdoms of heaven are to be free from chaos, because no one will be in any one of them who does not by his own free will obey the laws thereof.
A Latter-day Saint should strictly obey every law of God, including the constitutional laws of the land in which he lives, and do it with a good and honest heart. ("The Rule of Law," Ensign, Feb. 1973, 3)
DC 58:24 concerning my servant Edward Partridge, this land is the land of his residence
"Edward Partridge had previously been called as bishop of the Church (see D&C 41:9)...[He] was the bishop in Zion. Newel K. Whitney would preside as the bishop in Kirtland (see D&C 72:2-8). Neither presided over the other, and neither was a Presiding Bishop in the modern sense, which office was not created until later (see D&C 124:41). Bishop Partridge was also the acknowledged leader of the Church in Missouri until 1834, when a presidency of local high priests was appointed." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 2:152-153)
DC 58:26 it is not meet that I should command in all things
Boyd K. Packer
We are following the admonition of the Prophet Joseph Smith: "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves." (Messages of the First Presidency, comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75, 3:54.) We should not, according to the scriptures, need to be commanded in all things. (See D&C 58:26.) ("Teach Them Correct Principles," Ensign, May 1990, 89)
Boyd K. Packer
Members write in asking if this thing or that is against the Word of Wisdom. It's well known that tea, coffee, liquor, and tobacco are against it. It has not been spelled out in more detail. Rather, we teach the principle together with the promised blessings. There are many habit-forming, addictive things that one can drink or chew or inhale or inject which injure both body and spirit which are not mentioned in the revelation.
Everything harmful is not specifically listed; arsenic, for instance-certainly bad, but not habit-forming! He who must be commanded in all things, the Lord said, "is a slothful and not a wise servant" (D&C 58:26).
In some cultures, native drinks are claimed to be harmless because they are not specifically mentioned in the revelation. Yet they draw members, particularly men, away [page 18] from their families to parties which certainly offend the principle. Promises made in the revelation will be denied to the careless or the reckless.
Obedience to counsel will keep you on the safe side of life. ("The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises," Ensign, May 1996, 17-18)
Marvin J. Ashton
Instead of our being commanded in all things, we are given a pattern in all things. The choice to use these safe paths is ours. ("A Pattern in All Things," Ensign, Nov. 1990, 22)
DC 58:26 he that is compelled in all things...is a slothful and not a wise servant
"The scriptural contrast between 'slothful' and 'anxiously engaged' is particularly vivid. The adjective 'slothful' is derived from the slow movements of the South American sloth, an odd animal about two feet long that hangs upside down from hooklike claws on tree limbs. It feeds slowly on leaves and buds. The sloth may fall asleep in its upside down position, and can continue to hang in this position for some time after it dies. Scientists say the sloth moves so slowly because of its extremely low body temperature." (Early Saints Were Eager To See Site of 'city of Zion' , LDS Church News, 1993, 04/17/93)
Ezra Taft Benson
Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things. Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act-without having to be commanded "in all things." This attitude prepares men for godhood...
Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail. Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward. (Conference Report, April 1965, Afternoon Meeting 121.)
DC 58:27 men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause
Neal A. Maxwell
The scriptural advice, "Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength" (D&C 10:4) suggests paced progress... There is a difference, therefore, between being "anxiously engaged" and being over-anxious and thus underengaged. ("Notwithstanding My Weakness," Ensign, Nov. 1976, 12-13)
Neal A. Maxwell
Eighteen years ago from this same pulpit, I pled with those who stood indecisively on the "porch" of the Church to come fully inside. (See Ensign, Nov. 1974, pp. 12-13.) Today my plea is to those members already inside but whose discipleship is casual, individuals whom we love, whose gifts and talents are much needed in building the kingdom!
Any call for greater consecration is, of course, really a call to all of us. But these remarks are not primarily for those who are steadily striving and who genuinely seek to keep God's commandments and yet sometimes fall short. (See D&C 46:9.) Nor is this primarily for those few in deliberate noncompliance, including some who cast off on intellectual and behavioral bungee cords in search of new sensations, only to be jerked about by the old heresies and the old sins.
Instead, these comments are for the essentially "honorable" members who are skimming over the surface instead of deepening their discipleship and who are casually engaged rather than "anxiously engaged." (D&C 76:75; D&C 58:27.) Though nominal in their participation, their reservations and hesitations inevitably show through. They may even pass through our holy temples, but, alas, they do not let the holy temples pass through them.
Such members accept callings but not all of the accompanying responsibilities; hence, their Church chores must often be done by those already "anxiously engaged." Some regard themselves as merely "resting" in between Church callings. But we are never in between as to this soaring call from Jesus: "What manner of men [and women] ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." (3 Ne. 27:27; see Matt. 5:48; 3 Ne. 12:48.) It is never safe to rest regarding that calling! In fact, being "valiant" in one's testimony of Jesus includes striving to become more like Him in mind, heart, and attributes. (D&C 76:79.) Becoming this manner of men and women is the ultimate expression of orthodoxy! ("Settle This in Your Hearts," Ensign, Nov. 1992, 65)
Spencer W. Kimball
As Latter-day Saints we must ever be vigilant. The way for each person and each family to guard against the slings and arrows of the Adversary and to prepare for the great day of the Lord is to hold fast to the iron rod, to exercise greater faith, to repent of our sins and shortcomings, and to be anxiously engaged in the work of His kingdom on earth, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Herein lies the only true happiness for all our Father's children. We invite all men and women of good will everywhere to join in this divine and redeeming latter-day work. ("The Lord Expects Righteousness," Ensign, Nov. 1982, 5)
DC 58:28 they are agents unto themselves
Notice that the scriptures speak of the "agency of man" and they speak of "free will," but they do not ever use the term "free agency." The term "free agency" is an unfortunate term which is not scriptural. The agency of man did not come free; it came as a result of the Fall. It comes with a responsibility to use it wisely. Besides, as soon as an individual uses his agency to violate the commandments of God, he is no longer free. Agency makes you free only if you use it wisely. The term "free agency" implies that you can act however you want and you will always be free. This is just not the case.
Boyd K. Packer
Life is meant to be a test to see if we will keep the commandments of God. (See 2 Ne. 2:5.) We are free to obey or to ignore the spirit and the letter of the law. But the agency granted to man is a moral agency. (See D&C 101:78.) We are not free to break our covenants and escape the consequences. ("Covenants," Ensign, Nov. 1990, 84)
DC 58:28 For the power is in them
Gordon B. Hinckley
The power is in us, in each of us, my dear brethren and sisters-the power to do significant acts of service on our own initiative if we will become anxiously engaged. ("Whosoever Will Save His Life," Ensign, Aug. 1982, 5)
Chieko N. Okazaki
You are powerful! Where does that power come from to "do many things of [our] own free will"? It comes from the Savior himself. Feel that desire to serve in your own heart. Sense within yourself that strength to choose! ("Spit and Mud and Kigatsuku," Ensign, May 1992, 96)
DC 58:32-33 I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing...
A man would command his son to dig potatoes and saddle his horse, but before he had done either he would tell him to do something else. This is all considered right; but as soon as the Lord gives a commandment and revokes that decree and commands something else, then the Prophet is considered fallen. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 194.)
DC 58:35 Martin Harris should be an example unto the church, in laying his moneys before the bishop
Dallin H. Oaks
[Martin Harris] was called to journey to Missouri with Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Edward Partridge (see D&C 52:24). In Missouri that year-1831-he was commanded to "be an example unto the church, in laying his moneys before the bishop of the church" (D&C 58:35), thus becoming the first man the Lord called by name to consecrate his property in Zion. Two months later he was named with Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and others to be "stewards over the revelations and commandments" (D&C 70:3; see also D&C 70:1), a direction to publish and circulate what later became the Doctrine and Covenants. ("The Witness: Martin Harris," Ensign, May 1999, 36-37)
DC 58:39 he seeketh the praise of the world
L. Tom Perry
I guess one of the greatest mysteries of mortality is why mankind fails to learn from history. Why do those who profess to be true followers of Christ so often become victims of the enticements of the world? The evidence is so strong regarding the blessings which accrue to those who trust in and follow the ways the Lord has prescribed for us. ("Behold, the Lord Hath Shown unto Me Great and Marvelous Things," Ensign, Nov. 1992, 16)
Marlin K. Jensen
Latter-day Saints whose eyes are single to God's glory see life from a vastly different perspective than those whose attention is directed elsewhere. Such members, for instance, care little about receiving credit or recognition for their good deeds. They are more interested in feeding the Lord's sheep than in counting them. In fact, they frequently find their greatest happiness in serving anonymously, thereby leaving the beneficiaries of their kindness with no one to thank or praise except the Lord. ("An Eye Single to the Glory of God," Ensign, Nov. 1989, 27)
Marvin J. Ashton
Praise of the world can be a heavy cross. Over the years I have often heard it said that this person or that one was "great until he became successful, and then he couldn't handle it." I'm not talking about money or position; I'm talking about recognition. We should honor callings and responsibilities. But I pray that we would avoid being carried away by praise, success, or even achieving goals that we have set for ourselves. ("Carry Your Cross," Ensign, Feb. 1988, 71)
DC 58:41 he is not sufficiently meek before me
Theodore M. Burton
When a man is not humble and seeks to excel and outdo others, he is in a very dangerous position. I feel such a spirit is born of selfishness and a lack of the true spirit of Jesus Christ.
An example of such a spirit is evident in the case of William Phelps. Brother Phelps was a good man and a capable man, but he became too ambitious, letting pride move him to seek honors to which he was not entitled. The Prophet Joseph loved that good man, as did the Lord also. As a result, he was given a warning against this fault in his character. The Lord warned him:
And also let my servant William W. Phelps stand in the office to which I have appointed him, and receive his inheritance in the land;
And also he hath need to repent, for I, the Lord, am not well pleased with him, for he seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek before me. (D&C 58:40-41.)
Elder Phelps failed to heed the warning, and one thing led to another until he actually rebelled against the Prophet Joseph. When he found himself kicking against the pricks of conscience, he repented, humbled himself, and apologized for his conduct. He was forgiven and brought back into full church fellowship. In my opinion he was a great man of courage who was not ashamed to acknowledge a fault and had the strength to overcome it. Not all men have the greatness of character that William W. Phelps had. Too many who seek to excel lack humility, and if they do not curb this fault they will lose their inheritance in the Lord's kingdom. (Conference Report, October 1969, Afternoon Meeting 34.)
Ezra Taft Benson
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.)
...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 58:42 he who has repented of his sins...is forgiven, and I the Lord, remember them no more
Neal A. Maxwell
Where would we be, in fact, without God's long-suffering? Given the divine sorrow each of us has caused our God and our Savior, what a divine comfort to know that "he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more" (D&C 58:42). No more reassuring and important words could be said to any of us.
What ineffable love! What stunning patience! How wrenching it would otherwise be to be resurrected and forever wincing over having displeased Him. Oh, the marvel of His divine mercy and His plan of happiness! ("Becoming a Disciple," Ensign, June 1996, 17-18)
Thomas S. Monson
Early in my ministry as a member of the Council of the Twelve, I took to President Hugh B. Brown the experience of a fine person who could not serve in a ward position because he could not show mercy to [page 60] himself. He could forgive others but not himself; mercy was seemingly beyond his grasp. President Brown suggested that I visit with that individual and counsel him along these lines: "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." (D&C 64:10) Then, from Isaiah and the Doctrine and Covenants: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isa 1:18) "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more." (D&C 58:42)
With a pensive expression on his face, President Brown added: "Tell that man that he should not persist in remembering that which the Lord has said He is willing to forget." Such counsel will help to cleanse the soul and renew the spirit of any who applies it. ("Mercy-The Divine Gift," Ensign, May 1995, 60)
Richard G. Scott
Can't you see that to continue to suffer for sins, when there has been proper repentance and forgiveness of the Lord, is not prompted by the Savior but by the master of deceit, whose goal has always been to bind and enslave the children of our Father in Heaven? Satan would encourage you to continue to relive the details of past mistakes, knowing that such thoughts make progress, growth, and service difficult to attain. It is as though Satan ties strings to the mind and body so that he can manipulate one like a puppet, discouraging personal achievement.
I testify that Jesus Christ paid the price and satisfied the demands of justice for all who are obedient to His teachings. Thus, full forgiveness is granted, and the distressing effects of sin need no longer persist in one's life. Indeed, they cannot persist if one truly understands the meaning of Christ's Atonement. ("We Love You-Please Come Back," Ensign, May 1986, 11)
DC 58:43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins-behold he will confess them and forsake them
Imagine the responsibility of bishops and stake presidents. Members come to them seeking counsel after serious transgressions. The priesthood leader must determine when the individual has repented sufficiently. How can that be determined? What criteria should be used?
In this verse, the Lord gives his two-step process for identifying the truly repentant. They will confess and forsake their sins. Those who forsake but don't confess them, have not truly repented; those who confess them but don't forsake them, have not repented either. "It would be much easier to simply cease doing the wrong, in the case of serious sin, and say nothing to anyone. But to humble himself to confess it to the ones offended and to the bishop is a more sobering matter and takes real humility." (James A. Cullimore, "Confession and Forsaking: Elements of Genuine Repentance," Ensign, Dec. 1971, 87)
James A. Cullimore
How may the judge know when repentance is adequate? The individual might become impatient as he demonstrates his repentance. But it has been said that "sufficient time [should] elapse to permit a period of probation for the one seeking forgiveness. This probation serves a double purpose: First, ... it enables the offender to determine for himself whether he has been able to so master himself as to trust himself in the face of ever-recurring temptation; and secondly, to enable the judges to make a more reliable appraisement of the genuineness of repentance and worthiness for restored confidence." ("Justice and Mercy," Ensign, May 1974, 30-31)
Harold B. Lee
That confession must be made first to the person who has been most wronged by your acts. A sincere confession is not merely admitting guilt after the proof is already in evidence. If you have offended many persons openly, your acknowledgment is to be made openly and before those whom you have offended that you might show your shame and humility and willingness to receive a merited rebuke. If your act is secret and has resulted in injury to no one but yourself, your confession should be in secret, that your Heavenly Father who hears in secret may reward you openly. Acts that may affect your standing in the Church, or your right to privileges or advancement in the Church, are to be promptly confessed to the bishop whom the Lord has appointed as a shepherd over every flock and whom the Lord has commissioned to be a common judge in Israel. ("'Successful' Sinners," Ensign, July 1971, 3)
DC 58:44 the time has not yet come, for many years
When [the Lord] commanded his people to build the New Jerusalem, he knew how much, or how little, they were capable of accomplishing in that direction-knew it just as well before as he did after... The All-knowing One knew in advance what those Zion-builders would do, or leave undone, and he shaped his plans accordingly. Evidently the time was not ripe for Zion's redemption. The proof is in the trespasses committed by them against the divine laws ordained for their government.
A Season of Waiting.-"In consequence of the transgression of my people, it is expedient in me that mine Elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion." So came the voice of the Lord to Zion's Camp, on Fishing River, Missouri. (Saturday Night Thoughts [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1921], 187 - 188.)
DC 58:45 they shall push the people together from the ends of the earth
Let us refer to Moses' promise to Joseph:
His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh. (Deuteronomy 33:17.)
Moses' promise has been undergoing its fulfillment since the restoration of the church of Christ in 1830. The seed of Joseph, under a new commitment of the priesthood of God, has been gathering or pushing "the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh." It will be noted, therefore, that this contemplates a great missionary program. We wonder if, at the time Moses made this prediction, there could have been a place in all the world that would have seemed to be nearer "the ends of the earth" than was found in Ephraim's mountains-the valleys of the Rocky Mountains.
In our discussion of the gathering of Israel, reference was made to the prophecy of Jeremiah wherein he indicated that the latter-day gathering of Israel should far overshadow in magnitude the leading of the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt. This could only be accomplished through a great missionary program:
Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. (Jeremiah 16:16.)
When the Lord calls his servants and makes them "fishers" and "hunters," he really does something for them that no mortal man can do of his own power. They are called to go forth "in the spirit and power of Elias," as was John the Baptist of old, for they are sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 250.)
DC 58:50 Sidney Rigdon... shall write a description of the land of Zion
As we had received a commandment for Elder Rigdon to write a description of the land of Zion, we sought for all the information necessary to accomplish so desirable an object. The country is unlike the timbered states of the East. As far as the eye can reach the beautiful rolling prairies lie spread out like a sea of meadows; and are decorated with a growth of flowers so gorgeous and grand as to exceed description; and nothing is more fruitful, or a richer stockholder in the blooming prairie than the honey bee. Only on the water courses is timber to be found. There in strips from one to three miles in width, and following faithfully the meanderings of the streams, it grows in luxuriant forests. The forests are a mixture of oak, hickory, black walnut, elm, ash, cherry, honey locust, mulberry, coffee bean, hackberry, boxelder, and bass wood; with the addition of cottonwood, butterwood, pecan, and soft and hard maple upon the bottoms. The shrubbery is beautiful, and consists in part of plums, grapes, crab apple, and persimmons.
The soil is rich and fertile; from three to ten feet deep, and generally composed of a rich black mold, intermingled with clay and sand. It yields in abundance, wheat, corn, sweet potatoes, cotton and many other common agricultural products. Horses, cattle and hogs, though of an inferior breed, are tolerably plentiful and seem nearly to raise themselves by grazing in the vast prairie range in summer, and feeding upon the bottoms in winter. The wild game is less plentiful of course where man has commenced the cultivation of the soil, than in the wild prairies. Buffalo, elk, deer, bear, wolves, beaver and many smaller animals here roam at pleasure. Turkeys, geese, swans, ducks, yea a variety of the feathered tribe, are among the rich abundance that grace the delightful regions of this goodly land-the heritage of the children of God.
The season is mild and delightful nearly three quarters of the year, and as the land of Zion, situated at about equal distances from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as from the Alleghany and Rocky mountains, in the thirty-ninth degree of north latitude, and between the sixteenth and seventeenth degrees of west longitude, it bids fair-when the curse is taken from the land-to become one of the most blessed places on the globe. The winters are milder than the Atlantic states of the same parallel of latitude, and the weather is more agreeable; so that were the virtues of the inhabitants only equal to the blessings of the Lord which He permits to crown the industry of those inhabitants, there would be a measure of the good things of life for the benefit of the Saints, full, pressed down, and running over, even an hundred-fold. The disadvantages here, as in all new countries, are self-evident-lack of mills and schools; together with the natural privations and inconveniences which the hand of industry, the refinement of society, and the polish of science, overcome.
But all these impediments vanish when it is recollected what the Prophets have said concerning Zion in the last days; how the glory of Lebanon is to come upon her; the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box tree together, to beautify the place of His sanctuary, that He may make the place of His feet glorious. Where for brass, He will bring gold; and for iron, He will bring silver; and for wood, brass; and for stones, iron; and where the feast of fat things will be given to the just; yea, when the splendor of the Lord is brought to our consideration for the good of His people, the calculations of men and the vain glory of the world vanish, and we exclaim, "Out of Zion the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." (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: 197-198.)
B. H. Roberts
It was a new world into which these New England and eastern people had come, when they reached western Missouri. It was to them like some limitless paradise, these immense alternating stretches of open, rolling prairie and densely wooded water courses, as compared with the closed-in, heavily wooded hill country from which they had come. It would not be difficult to regard western Missouri in 1831 as a promised land, fit to be the inheritance of the saints of the Most High, the site of the new world's New Jerusalem-Zion, the capital to be of the Christ-empire in the western world. It was a fitting environment for such a conception. (A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 1: 259 - 260.)
DC 58:52 purchase this whole region of country, as soon as time will permit
"In 1830 fewer than six hundred lived in Missouri, and none in Jackson County. Rumors early in 1832 accused the Saints of attempting to persuade slaves to disobey their masters, rebel, or run away. The issue of free blacks soon triggered a confrontation that had been brewing for months in an atmosphere of religious intolerance.
"The Saints themselves may not have been totally without blame in the matter. The feelings of the Missourians, even though misplaced, were undoubtedly intensified by the rhetoric of the gathering itself. They were quick to listen to the boasting of a few overly zealous Saints who loudly declared a divine right to the land. As enthusiastic millennialists, they also proclaimed that the time of the gentiles was short, and they were perhaps too quick to quote the revelation that said 'the Lord willeth that the disciples and the children of men should open their hearts, even to purchase this whole region of country, as soon as time will permit.' (D&C 58:52.) Though the Saints were specifically and repeatedly commanded to be peaceful and to never shed blood, some seemed unwisely to threaten warfare if they could not fulfill the commandment peacefully. In July 1833 Church leaders reemphasized the importance of legally purchasing land, but by then a combination of factors was leading to confrontation." (James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed., rev. and enl. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 94.)
DC 58:57 let my servant Sidney Rigdon consecrate and dedicate this land, and the spot for the temple
On the second day of August, I assisted the Colesville branch of the Church to lay the first log, for a house, as a foundation of Zion in Kaw township, twelve miles west of Independence. The log was carried and placed by twelve men, in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel. At the same time, through prayer, the land of Zion was consecrated and dedicated by Elder Sidney Rigdon for the gathering of the Saints. It was a season of joy to those present, and afforded a glimpse of the future, which time will yet unfold to the satisfaction of the faithful...
On the third day of August, I proceeded to dedicate the spot for the Temple, a little west of Independence, and there were also present Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge, W. W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and Joseph Coe.
The 87th Psalm was read:-
His foundation is in the holy mountains.
The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.
I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.
And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her; and the Highest Himself shall establish her.
The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.
As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.
The scene was solemn and impressive. (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: 196,199.)
By commandment twelve of us assembled ourselves together, viz., Elder Joseph Smith, Jr., the Seer, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Newel Knight, William W. Phelps, and Ezra Booth who denied the faith.
On the 2nd day of August 1831, Brother Sidney Rigdon stood up and asked saying: Do you receive this land for the land of your inheritance with thankful hearts from the Lord? answer from all, we do. Do you pledge yourselves to keep the laws of God on this land, which you never have kept in your own lands? we do. Do you pledge yourselves to see that others of your brethren who shall come hither do keep the laws of God? we do. After prayer he arose and said, I now pronounce this land consecrated and dedicated to the Lord for a possession and inheritance for the Saints (in the name of Jesus Christ having authority from him.) And for all the faithful servants of the Lord to the remotest ages of time. Amen. The day following, eight elders, viz., Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Frederick G. Williams, Wm. W. Phelps, Martin Harris, and Joseph Coe, assembled together where the Temple is to be erected. Sidney Rigdon dedicated the ground where the city is to stand: and Joseph Smith, Jr., laid a stone at the northeast corner of the contemplated temple in the name of the Lord Jesus of Nazareth. After all present had rendered thanks to the great ruler of the universe, Sidney Rigdon pronounced this spot of ground wholly dedicated unto the Lord forever: Amen. (John Whitmer, The Book of John Whitmer, typescript, [Provo: BYU Archives and Manuscripts], Chap. 9)
George Q. Cannon
These events which we have described-the selection and dedication of the center place of Zion and the spot upon which the temple was to be erected, the formal laying of a foundation for the first building, the holding of a conference, and the establishment of some of the Saints in the land-attracted but slight attention at the time outside of the little circle of God's people. To merely human eyes, and viewed from the standpoint of men who had no faith in the promises of God, these must have seemed insignificant and, perhaps, contemptible proceedings to be the beginning of such great works as were predicted. But from the day that land was thus dedicated, unshaken confidence in the perfect fulfilment of every promise made concerning it, has filled the heart of every faithful member of the Church. Towards it the eyes of thousands upon thousands have been directed, around it their dearest hopes for themselves and their posterity have clustered, and their daily prayer has been that the Lord would hasten the redemption of Zion and build up the center stake thereof. (The Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 122 - 123.)
DC 58:60 Let that which has been bestowed upon Ziba Peterson be taken from him
Along with Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, and Peter Whitmer, Jr., Ziba Peterson had been one of the early missionaries who preached to the Lamanites and the early converts of Kirtland. While the nature of his sins is not clear, the Lord was certainly not happy with him. His discipleship would be short-lived.
"It is believed that Ziba Peterson was in his late teens or early twenties at the time of his baptism on 18 April 1830... Ziba left for the mission from Fayette, New York, on 17 October 1830. He and his companions began their fifteen-hundred-mile journey on foot preaching to the Catteraugus Indians near Buffalo, New York; the Wyandots in Sandusky, Ohio; and settlers in the Kirtland area.
Fifty miles west of Kirtland the missionaries visited the home of Simeon Carter. When a warrant was served against Elder Pratt in the Carter home, Ziba accompanied him to the courtroom. Near midnight Parley invited Ziba to sing the hymn 'Oh How Happy Are They' with him to the judge. The exasperated judge jailed Parley but allowed Ziba to rejoin the other missionaries.
The missionaries continued their journey to the western frontier and arrived in Independence, Missouri, in December 1830. Ziba and Peter Whitmer preached to the Indians across the Missouri River on 8 April 1831. Ziba preached with Oliver Cowdery in Lafayette County, where Ziba met and may have converted his future wife, Rebecca Hooper. In the summer of 1831 he also preached in Lone Jack, a frontier community in southeastern Missouri.
On 1 August 1831 the Lord chastened him for trying to hide his sins: 'Let that which has been bestowed upon Ziba Peterson be taken from him; and let him stand as a member in the church, and labor with his own hands, with the brethren, until he is sufficiently chastened for all his sins; for he confesseth them not, and he thinketh to hide them' (D&C 58:60). Three days later he confessed his faults, 'which was satisfactory to the Church.' However, in May 1833 he withdrew from Church fellowship and on 25 June 1833 was excommunicated and delivered 'over to the buffetings of Satan.'
Ziba continued to reside in the Independence area after the expulsion of the Saints from Jackson County. By 1833 he was teaching school in Lone Jack and by 1840 was residing in Lafayette County, next door to his father-in-law, Thomas Hooper.
In May 1848 Ziba journeyed with his family to California... He gained prominence among the miners and was elected sheriff. The Alta California carried an account of his apprehension and hanging of three desperadoes who had stolen six hundred dollars and threatened to kill the proprietor of a gambling house. Their hanging, the first 'legal' hanging in California, led to renaming Dry Diggins 'Hangtown.'
Ziba died soon after the hangings." (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 222 - 223.)
DC 58:60 Ziba Peterson tries to hide his sins
It has been the doctrine of some Elders in this Church (whence they got it I do not know, without they got it from the Devil,) that all the sin you can hide from your brethren and sisters, no matter what its nature and magnitude, will not be brought against you in the day of judgment. Such persons are greatly mistaken. For the sins you commit against yourselves and your God, unless repented of and forgiven, the Lord will hold his private council and judge you according to the degree of guilt that is upon you; and if you sin against others, he will make that public, and you will have to hear it. You need not think that you can hide your sins. Confess your secret sins to your God, and forsake them, and he will forgive them; confess to your brethren your sins against them, and make all right, and they will forgive, and all will be right. The doctrine of hiding sin is a false doctrine. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 8: 362.)
Spencer W. Kimball
There comes a time when the fornicator, like the murderer, wishes he could hide-hide from all the world, from all the ghosts, and especially his own, but there is no place to hide. There are dark corners and hidden spots and closed cars in which the transgression can be committed, but to totally conceal it is impossible. There is no night so dark, no room so tightly locked, no canyon so closed in, no desert so totally uninhabited that one can find a place to hide from his sins, from himself, or from the Lord. Eventually, one must face the great Maker. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], pp. 265-66.)
DC 58:64 unto the uttermost parts of the earth-the gospel must be preached
Spencer W. Kimball
What is the significance of the phrase "uttermost part of the earth"?... Where were the "uttermost parts of the earth"? Did [the Lord] mean the millions in what is now America? Did he include the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, in Greece, Italy, around the Mediterranean, the inhabitants of central Europe? What did he mean? Or did he mean all the living people of all the world and those spirits assigned to this world to come in centuries ahead? Have we underestimated his language or its meaning? How can we be satisfied with 100,000 converts out of nearly four billion people in the world who need the gospel? ("When the World Will Be Converted," Ensign, Oct. 1974, 4)
The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4: 540.)