DC 62 Historical Background
"After receiving section 61 at their encampment on McIlwaine's Bend, Joseph Smith and his ten companions crossed to the north side of the Missouri River and stopped at Chariton. Here they were happily surprised to find Hyrum Smith, John Murdock, David Whitmer, and Harvey Whitlock bound for Independence, Missouri. In this joyous setting section 62 was received." (Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 97.)
The elders mentioned, Hyrum Smith, John Murdock, David Whitmer, and Harvey Whitlock, had been called in D&C 52: 8, 25. These two companionships had been preaching the gospel on their way to Independence. Because the companionships traveled separately, they did not all arrive at the same time. Some elders, who had preached along the way, arrived so late that they missed the dedication of the land of Zion. Parley P. Pratt lamented, "We arrived in upper Missouri in late September, having baptized many people...I felt somewhat disappointed in not meeting with the brethren; but was consoled with the reflection that I had been diligent in preaching the gospel on my journey." (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 69) While Hyrum and his companions also missed the dedication proceedings, they at least were able to meet with the Prophet and elders-even though the meeting came by chance.
"Hyrum Smith and John Murdock had been instructed to travel to Missouri by way of Detroit, so they naturally would be expected to arrive later than Joseph and his party. Brother Murdock later provided an additional reason why his group may have been late: 'We preached next day, but I was sick and went to bed, and we continued there near one week and I gave my watch in pay to Wm. Ivy to carry me in a wagon to Chariton 70 miles. We stayed there two days. Met Bro. J. Smith Jr., S. Rigdon and others, and received the Revelation recorded in the book of Covenants...'" (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 2:183-184)
On the 13th [August] I met several of the Elders on their way to the land of Zion, and after the joyful salutations with which brethren meet each other, who are actually "contending for the faith once delivered to the Saints," I received the following: [D&C 62]
After this meeting with the Elders, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and myself, continued our journey by land to St. Louis, where we overtook brothers Phelps and Gilbert. From this place we took stage, and they went by water to Kirtland, where we arrived safe and well on the 27th [August]. Many things transpired upon this journey to strengthen our faith, and which displayed the goodness of God in such a marvelous manner, that we could not help beholding the exertions of Satan to blind the eyes of the people, so as to hide the true light that lights every man that comes into the world. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., 1: 206.)
DC 62:1 the Lord...knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted
Jeffrey R. Holland
Alma says in the Book of Mormon, because He has suffered "pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind ... , that he may know ... how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:11-12) To succor means to "run to." I testify that in my fears and in my infirmities the Savior has surely run to me. I will never be able to thank Him enough for such personal kindness and such loving care.
President George Q. Cannon said once: "No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is [against] His character [to do so]. He is an unchangeable being. ... He will stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and the purer for them, if we only trust in our God and keep His commandments."
Those who will receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the source of their salvation will always lie down in green pastures, no matter how barren and bleak the winter has been. And the waters of their refreshment will always be still waters, no matter how turbulent the storms of life. ("He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things," Ensign, Nov. 1997, 66)
Neal A. Maxwell
Jesus' perfect empathy was ensured when, along with His Atonement for our sins, He took upon Himself our sicknesses, sorrows, griefs, and infirmities and came to know these "according to the flesh" (Alma 7:11-12). He did this in order that He might be filled with perfect, personal mercy and empathy and thereby know how to succor us in our infirmities. He thus fully comprehends human suffering. Truly Christ "descended below all things, in that He comprehended all things" (D&C 88:6). ("Enduring Well," Ensign, Apr. 1997, 7)
Neal A. Maxwell
Can we, even in the depths of disease, tell Him anything at all about suffering? In ways we cannot comprehend, our sicknesses and infirmities were borne by Him even before they were borne by us. The very weight of our combined sins caused Him to descend below all. We have never been, nor will we be, in depths such as He has known. Thus His atonement made perfect His empathy and His mercy and His capacity to succor us, for which we can be everlastingly grateful as He tutors us in our trials. (Even As I Am, 116)
DC 62:3 the testimony ye have borne is recorded in heaven
We wish we had a complete earthly record of the testimony borne by these faithful missionaries. William E. McClellin heard the preaching of David Whitmer and Harvey Whitlock and was deeply affected:
"Mr. Whitlock arose and gave some particulars respecting the book and some reasons why he believes it to be a divine revelation... Then he expounded the gospel with more plainness than I ever heard in my life, which astonished me. David Whitmer then arose and bore testimony to having seen an Holy Angel who had made known the truth of the record to him. All these strange things I pondered in my heart... And from the solemnity which attended these men in giving their testimony and the plainness of the truths which they declared I was induced to believe something in their mission. People seemed to be anxious for them to stay longer. They told me that Joseph Smith, the man who translated the book, and a number of others had gone to Jackson Co. Mo. and if I would go there I could see them. They said also that Smith was a prophet. Finally I told them if they would stay one week longer that I would go with them. They agreed to stay. Then Harvey Whitlock arose and spoke about three hours. I never heard such preaching in all my life. The glory of God seemed to encircle the man and the wisdom of God to be displayed in his discourse. Some of the people seemed to be much affected. The meeting was closed by a few observations of David Whitmer [who bore] a solemn testimony also of the truths which they had just heard. (Excerpts from Journal and Writings of William E. Mclellin, Early , LDS Church News, 1992, 10/24/92)
"The book of life is the record which is kept in heaven." (D&C 128:7) Apparently, the angels really are "silent notes taking" (Hymn no. 237). How much of our lives are recorded in that book? What would be worth writing down? Have our testimonies been noticed and recorded by the angels? What a privilege it would be to have our testimonies in the same book with the likes of David Whitmer, Harvey Whitlock, or perhaps Abinadi as he stood before king Noah, Paul as he stood before Agrippa, or Benjamin as he testified from the tower!
The books that men keep on earth are matched by books kept in heaven: Adam's heavenly Book of Remembrance is duplicated on earth by a Book of Life, "the record which is kept in heaven ... or, in other words ... whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven. ... It may seem ... a very bold doctrine that we talk of-a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood ... this power has always been given." (D&C 128:7-9.) What is above is projected and recorded below: "Thou [the scribe] shalt write for him [the prophet]; and the scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own bosom." (D&C 35:20.) And what is below is projected above and recorded there: "The alms of your prayers have come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded in the book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world." (D&C 88:2.) ("A Strange Thing in the Land: The Return of the Book of Enoch, Part 5," Ensign, Apr. 1976, 60)
DC 62:3 and your sins are forgiven you
"That is a glorious promise. By testifying of the Lord and His gospel, we facilitate our own forgiveness. The adversary's power is thus curtailed. Our hands and hearts are cleansed, and we are helped toward exaltation." (James T. Johnson, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Dec. 1999, 61)
Spencer W. Kimball
The Lord has told us that our sins will be forgiven more readily as we bring souls unto Christ and remain steadfast in bearing testimony to the world, and surely every one of us is looking for additional help in being forgiven of our sins. (Ensign, Oct. 1977, p. 5.)
Spencer W. Kimball
Here (D&C 62:2) he promises a forgiveness of sins to those elders who had been valiant in proselyting and bearing testimony. The angels as well as the Father in heaven would certainly rejoice over those members who with great sincerity would overcome their sins and receive remission of them, partly through their efforts to raise the spiritual standard of their fellow creatures by bearing testimony of the restored gospel.
Another statement of the Lord-this one through James-reinforces the value of the testimony in overcoming sins. The testimony comes from study, prayer, and living the commandments, and the repetition of the testimony builds and stabilizes it. James says that through this missionary work of saving souls of others, one comes to the point of bringing salvation and sanctification to himself.
Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (Jas. 5:19-20.)
Every person who is beginning the long journey of emancipating himself from the thralldom of sin and evil will find comfort in the thought expressed by James. We could expand it somewhat and remind the transgressor that every testimony he bears, every prayer he offers, every sermon he preaches, every scripture he reads, every help he gives to stimulate and raise others-all these strengthen him and raise him to higher levels.
The proper motivation for missionary work of any kind, as for all Church service, is of course love for fellowmen, but always such work has its by-product effect on one's own life. Thus as we become instruments in God's hands in changing the lives of others our own lives cannot help being lifted. One can hardly help another to the top of the hill without climbing there himself. (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], chap. 15)
DC 62:4-6 hold a meeting and rejoice together
The Lord is sensitive to the fact that these Brethren had missed the dedication of Zion and the temple site. The Lord felt to make it up to them. He wanted them to continue on to Zion and hold a sacrament meeting there. Then would he pour out his Spirit upon them also-that they might rejoice as had the Prophet's company. This was according to a promise of the Lord (see D&C 52:42-43) whereby he had promised that the "faithful...should be preserved and rejoice together in the land of Missouri. I, the Lord, promise the faithful and cannot lie." (v. 6)
DC 62:5 it mattereth not unto me
See commentary for D&C 60:5.
Neal A. Maxwell
There are probably some situations in which we are struggling over something that is a matter of preference rather than principle, or situations in which more than one alternative is acceptable and, as the Lord said on one occasion, "it mattereth not unto me." (Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 120.)
DC 62:7 ride upon horses, or upon mules, or in chariots
Brother John Murdock had been quite ill during the journey, so much so that he could no longer travel by foot.
We four (H. Smith, D. Whitmer, H. Whitlock, J. Murdock) put our money together and bought a pony. I rode him to Lexington, 60 miles, and on the way we four slept one night in a chamber where one half of the floor was laid, and the other not and a window being open, on the opposite side of the chamber from me, and I had a raging fever and had occasion to go to the window; it being dark, I stepped off the floor and fell across the joints.
The next day when I rode into Lexington, I was so weak I fell from the horse and lay till the brethren came and picked me up. They took me into a house and left me there four days and travelled on. After which, Brother Lyman Wight and Solomon Hancock came with a horse and carried me to Thomas Hopper, where I remained in a few days and was then carried in a wagon to Brother Joshua Louis, in Jackson County, where I lay sick two or three months, so much so that 2 or 3 days was lost time to me. Although I was so very sick that I could not pray vocally, yet my belief was so firm that it could not be moved. I believe[d] that I could not die because my work was not yet done. (Journal, BYU Archive and Manuscripts, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints 10.)
DC 62:7 receive this blessing...with a thankful heart in all things
Gordon B. Hinckley
Cultivate a thankful heart, a heart that reaches out with appreciation and respect and gratitude. (Colorado Springs Young Adult Meeting, April 14, 1996.)
Be grateful. How thankful we ought to be. How comfortably we live. How very easy is life compared to what it once was. . . . We have it so easy, so pleasant, so delightful. We ride in cars that are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. What a great season in the history of the world this is in which to be alive and in which to be young. Sometimes I wish that I were as young as you are-and then when I think of what I have been through I am glad I am not. But what a wonderful season to be alive. . . . [We have] the miracles of medicine, the miracles of science, the miracles of communication, transportation, education-what a wonderful time in which to live. Of all of these wondrous, challenging things with which we live, I hope you regard it a blessing to be alive in this great age of the world. . . . I hope you walk with gratitude in your hearts, really. Grateful people are respectful people. Grateful people are courteous people. Grateful people are kindly people. Be grateful. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 250.)
Gratitude is an attitude. Sometimes we don't feel particularly grateful. Often this is because of our circumstances, but I truly testify that circumstances are less important than attitudes. I once read an allegory by Henry Ward Beecher that I used to put in the school newsletter each November for the other teachers and administrators. He wrote: "If one should give me a dish of sand, and tell me there were particles of iron in it, I might look for them with my eyes, and search for them with my clumsy fingers, and be unable to detect them; but let me take a magnet and sweep through it, and how it will draw to itself the almost invisible particles by the mere power of attraction. The thankless heart, like my finger in the sand, discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day; and as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings."
I think what he's saying is that thankfulness is an attitude that depends, to a great extent, on our ability to look at our days with the eyes of thankfulness and to remember God in our daily activities. (Sanctuary [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 118 - 119.)