Section 53

DC 53 Biographical Sketch: Algernon Sidney Gilbert

"Algernon Sidney Gilbert... was in the Church for only four years. He became a member in the year 1830 and died June 1834. Before he joined the Church he was a merchant in Painesville, Ohio, but later in Kirtland, he was the business partner of Newel K. Whitney. It was into their store that the Prophet Joseph Smith entered and introduced himself to Brother Whitney.

"A few months after the arrival of the Prophet and his party in Ohio, Brother Gilbert requested that the Prophet inquire of the Lord concerning his place in the kingdom. Section 53 was received in reply to this request. After this revelation was received, in which Brother Gilbert was commanded to accompany the Prophet and others to Missouri, these brethren left Kirtland on June 19, 1831, for the west. By this same revelation Brother Gilbert was appointed keeper of the Lord's storehouse. Later this call was to receive 'moneys, to be an agent unto the Church, to buy land in all the regions about . . . in righteousness and . . . wisdom.' (D&C 57:6.) In addition, he was to establish a store, the profits of which were to be used for the building up of Zion. (Ibid., v. 8.)

"In July 1833, a mob of about five hundred threatened the Saints of Independence, Missouri, with whippings, the same cruel treatment which they had administered to a number of the brethren not long before this. Six of the leading brethren, including Algernon S. Gilbert and William W. Phelps, offered themselves as a ransom for the Church, even to allow themselves to be whipped to death, if necessary. These six brethren agreed that they would arrange for the Saints to leave Jackson County as soon as possible. In this transaction, Brother Gilbert and John Corrill were to remain longer than the rest of the Saints to finish the business of the Church in that area." (Roy W. Doxey, The Doctrine and Covenants Speaks [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 1: 387-388.)

B. H. Roberts

The New Dispensation has had few men more devoted to its interests than Algernon Sidney Gilbert; and few men of keener intellect and larger capacity. He was a man of rare good sense, conservative and of sound judgment. All of which appears in the many communications drawn up in Missouri by him during the troublous times through which the church passed in those days. Much of the correspondence between the Missouri brethren and Governor Dunklin was the work of Elder Gilbert, and it bears witness to the truth of what is here said of him... Such a character and such a career as that of Algernon Sidney Gilbert dignifies the cause to which he devoted the energies of his manhood, and is worthy of honorable mention in the pages of its history. (A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], vol. 1, chap. XXIX, footnote 7)

DC 53:1 calling and election in the church

If one has his calling and election made sure, then certainly another can be unsure about his calling and election. If one can speak by the more sure word of prophecy, then certainly another can speak by the less sure word of prophecy. Like all of us, Sidney Gilbert had received his calling and election in the church. He had been both called and chosen to serve in the Church. However, at this stage of his discipleship, that calling and election would have been unsure-meaning that his receipt of the promised reward still depended upon his faithfulness.

Bruce R. McConkie

When a man lives the law that qualifies him for eternal life, the Lord is bound by his own law to confer that greatest of all gifts upon him. And if by a long course of trial and obedience, while yet in this life, a man proves to the Lord that he has and will abide in the truth, the Lord accepts the exhibited devotion and issues his decree that the promised blessings shall be received. The calling, which up to that time was provisional, is then made sure. The receipt of the promised blessings are no longer conditional; they are guaranteed. Announcement is made that every gospel blessing shall be inherited. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 330.)

DC 53:2 you shall forsake the world

Sheri L. Dew

Prophets have admonished us to forsake the world and turn our hearts to Jesus Christ, who promised us, "In this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full" (D&C 101:36; emphasis added). Said President Spencer W. Kimball, "If we insist on spending all our time and resources building up ... a worldly kingdom, that is exactly what we will inherit" ("The False Gods We Worship," Ensign, June 1976, 6). How often are we so focused on pursuing the so-called good life that we lose sight of eternal life? It is the fatal spiritual equivalent of selling our birthright for a mess of pottage. ("We Are Women of God," Ensign, Nov. 1999, 97-98)

Joseph F. Smith

It requires no especial bravery on the part of men to swim with the currents of the world. When a man makes up his mind to forsake the world and its follies and sins, and identify himself with God's people, who are everywhere spoken evil of it takes courage, manhood, independence of character, superior intelligence, and a determination that is not common among men; for men shrink from that which is unpopular, from that which will not bring them praise and adulation, from that which will in any degree tarnish that which they call honor or a good name.

The Latter-day Saints are a people who have been and are still familiar  with the ways of the world... [Yet] they have had the courage, in the face of all the opposition that they have had to meet, and the contumely that has been heaped upon them, to forsake their former creeds, to sever their former ties and relationships, and to forsake their kindred, their homes, and everything that they have held dear, for the Gospel's sake; and they are not cowards; they are not slaves; they are not bondsmen, but they are freemen, because the Gospel has made them free. (Conference Report, October 1903, 97.)

DC 53:3 take upon you mine preach faith and repentance and remission of sins

"I come from a small city in eastern Colombia. It was there that I was taught about the Church and was baptized, and it was also there that the desire to go on a mission was born. I was the only member of my family to accept the gospel.

"I remember going out with the missionaries almost every night to help them in the work and at the same time to gain experience in the field. When the missionaries asked me where I wanted to serve my mission, I told them, "Anywhere but Venezuela." My response was such because this was a time of great tension between my country and Venezuela, and I had little love or appreciation for the Venezuelan people...

"Finally the day arrived when the mailman brought the large white envelope containing my mission call. I opened it. I was called to serve in the Venezuela Mission. That night I knelt and asked the Lord not to make me go to that country. After talking to him for some time, I said that I needed his help. I got up, turned on the light, and began to leaf through the Doctrine and Covenants. I stopped in the 53rd section. There was the answer from the Lord to me:

   Behold ... I have heard your prayers; and you have called upon me that it should be made known unto you, of the Lord your God, concerning your calling. ...

   Take upon you my ordination, even that of an elder, to preach faith and repentance and remission of sins, according to my word, and the reception of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands;

   And also to be an agent unto this Church in the place which shall be appointed by the bishop. ...

   And again, I would that ye should learn that he only is saved who endureth unto the end. (D&C 53:1, 3-4, 7.)

"I closed the book and knelt once again, this time in the spirit of humility. The tears burned my cheeks, and in my prayer I asked the Lord to forgive me for telling him his will.

"Now I was ready to head for Venezuela, this time in a white shirt and tie. I met many people who needed to be saved, and I had to fight for them. I learned to love them with all my heart, persons who today have gone to the temple, who are the leaders of the Church in Venezuela, and others who are missionaries themselves.

"I received a great deal of love and satisfaction from the Venezuelan people, and I came to learn why I was sent to that part of the Lord's vineyard." (Mario G. Echeverri, "Anywhere But," New Era, Jan.-Feb. 1982, 26)

DC 53:4 to be an agent unto this church in the place...which shall be given hereafter

"When Joseph Smith departed for Missouri, Sidney Gilbert, with his wife and five others, went with him and labored in that land as an agent assisting the bishop." (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 229.)

"Sidney Gilbert was called to serve as a land agent for the Saints; he was to establish a merchandising store in that community and use the profits from this business to purchase land upon which the Saints could settle." (Milton V. Backman, Jr., The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830-1838 [Salt Lake City: Desert Book Co., 1983], 67 - 69.)

DC 53:7 he only is saved who endureth unto the end

"Although Sidney Gilbert was faithful in many things (at one point he, along with Isaac Morley, offered his life as a ransom for his fellow Saints), he lacked confidence in his ability to preach the gospel and died soon after turning down a mission call. The Lord had previously counseled Brother Gilbert, 'Ye should learn that he only is saved who endureth unto the end.' (D&C 53:7.) The Prophet Joseph commented on Brother Gilbert's turning down his mission call and on his subsequent death by saying, 'He had been called to preach the Gospel, but had been known to say that he `would rather die than go forth to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.` ' Elder Heber C. Kimball remarked, 'The Lord took him [Sidney Gilbert] at his word.'"(Daniel K. Judd in Doctrines for Exaltation: The 1989 Sperry Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants, Susan Easton Black et al., [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 118.)

B. H. Roberts

Yet Elder Gilbert's remark did not arise out of any lack of faith in the truth of God's great latter-day work, but from a native diffidence and lack of confidence in his ability to preach the gospel; and, of course, a dread of the hardness of heart and the unbelieving minds of those to whom he would be sent. (A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], vol. 1, chap. XXIX, footnote 7)

George Q. Cannon

It was about the 22nd day of June, 1834, when the cholera appeared in Zion's Camp at Fishing River. During the next week it raged in the midst of the party. Sixty-eight of the Saints were attacked and thirteen of them died. Among the fatal cases was that of Algernon Sidney Gilbert, a man of talent and many good works, though not always able to subdue self. Just before the destroyer seized him, the Prophet called him to journey to Kirtland to receive there his endowments and from there to proclaim the everlasting gospel of redemption. Elder Gilbert's answer was: "I would rather die than go forth to preach the gospel to the Gentiles." When he thus answered the Prophet of God he was full of strength and health; but in a few hours after the scourge had breathed upon him he was dead. (The Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 182 - 183.)