DC 121 Historical Background
JULY 4, 1838
The story of Liberty Jail begins remarkably on Independence Day, 1838. The irony of a jail called Liberty was not lost on the Prophet Joseph who wrote, "Thus, in a land of liberty, in the town of Liberty, Clay county, Missouri, my fellow prisoners and I in chains, and dungeons, saw the close of 1838." (History of the Church, 3:244, emphasis added) The whirlwind of oppression which began in July 1838 would not end for a full year. Arrested at the same time as the Prophet but imprisoned elsewhere, Parley Pratt, King Follett, and Morris Phelps would not escape from jail until exactly one year later, July 4, 1839.
Many historians indicate that the story begins with a speech by Mormon orator, Sidney Rigdon. Fed up with tribulation, his speech mirrored the views of the saints-that a free country could not allow religious persecution. The patience of the saints amidst a five year history of Missouri persecution began to give way. The Rigdon speech made a "'Declaration of Independence' from all mobs and persecutions which have been inflicted upon them, time after time, until they could bear it no longer." (History of the Church, 3:41) This speech was well received by the Mormons but inflamed the Missourians to renewed prejudice.
AUGUST 6, 1838-VIOLENCE AT THE POLLS
[Late July 1838], Judge Morin, who lived at Mill Port, informed John D. Lee and Levi Stewart, that it was determined by the mob to prevent the "Mormons" from voting at the election on the sixth day of August, and thereby elect Colonel William P. Peniston, who led the mob in Clay county. He also advised them to go prepared for an attack, to stand their ground, and have their rights.
The brethren, hoping better things, gave little heed to Judge Morin's friendly counsel, and repaired to the polls at Gallatin, the shire town of Daviess county, without weapons.
About eleven o'clock a. m., William P. Peniston mounted a barrel, and harangued the electors for the purpose of exciting them against the "Mormons" saying "The Mormon leaders are a set of horse thieves, liars, counterfeiters, and you know they profess to heal the sick, and cast out devils, and you all know that is a lie." He further said that the members of the Church were dupes, and not too good to take a false oath on any common occasion; that they would steal, and he did not consider property safe where they were; that he was opposed to their settling in Daviess county; and if they suffered the "Mormons" to vote, the people would soon lose their suffrage; "and," said he, addressing the Saints, "I headed a mob to drive you out of Clay county, and would not prevent your being mobbed now."
Richard (called Dick) Welding, the mob bully, just drunk enough for the occasion, began a discussion with Brother Samuel Brown, by saying, "The Mormons were not allowed to vote in Clay county no more than the negroes," and attempted to strike Brown, who gradually retreated, parrying the blow with his umbrella, while Welding continued to press upon him, calling him a liar, etc., and meanwhile trying to repeat the blow on Brown. Perry Durphy sought to suppress the difficulty by holding Welding's arm, when five or six of the mobbers seized Durphy and commenced beating him with clubs, boards, and crying, "Kill him, kill him, when a general scuffle commenced with fists and clubs, the mobbers being about ten to one of the brethren. Abraham Nelson was knocked down, and had his clothes torn off, and while trying to get up was attacked again, when his brother, Hyrum Nelson, ran in amongst them, and knocked the mobbers down with the butt of his whip. Riley Stewart struck Welding on the head, which brought him to the ground. The mob cried out, "Dick Weldin's dead; who killed Dick?" And they fell upon Riley, knocked him down, kicked him, crying, "Kill him, kill him; shoot him," and they would have killed him, had not John L. Butler sprung in amongst them and knocked them down. During about five minutes it was one succession of knock downs, when the mob dispersed to get fire arms.
Very few of the brethren voted. Riley, escaping across the river, had his wounds dressed, and returned home. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:56-58)
AUGUST 7, 1838-VISIT TO JUDGE ADAM BLACK
The next day, the Prophet received report that "two or three of our brethren were killed by the Missourians, and left upon the ground, and not suffered to be interred; that the brethren were prevented from voting." (History of the Church, 3:58) Joseph then left with a group of men to investigate. They called upon a Daviess County judge, Adam Black and requested his impartiality in dealing with the Saints. He wrote the men a statement declaring his neutrality. The Prophet stated, we "politely requested him to sign an agreement of peace" and when he did, "we left him in peace."
This rather inconsequential incident became the source of dire consequences. Mobster William Peniston declared by affidavit that the Mormons had "committed violence against Adam Black, by surrounding his house and taking him in a violent manner... forcing him, under threats of immediate death, to sign a paper." Judge Black also construed this incident so as to inflame the mob, declaring that the Mormons would "not submit to the laws." (History of the Church, 3:61, 64) This incident, or rather the misrepresentation of this incident, led to several attempts to arrest the Prophet Joseph Smith.
SEPTEMBER 7-12, 1838-STATE MILITIA CALLED OUT
Upon news that the mob intended to attack the saints at Adam-ondi-Ahman, Mormon "captain William Allred took a company of ten mounted men and went to intercept a team with guns and ammunition, sent from Richmond to the mob in Daviess County." (History of the Church, 3:74) A small group of mobbers with their ammunition were arrested and taken to Far West. The saints then queried Judge King as to what they should do with their prisoners. He responded that they should "turn the prisoners loose, and let them receive kind treatment." Judge King immediately called General Atchison "to send two hundred or more men, and dispel the forces in Daviess county and all the assembled armed forces in Caldwell, and cause those 'Mormons'... to surrender" (History of the Church, 3:75)
"[August 12, 1838] This day also a communication was sent to Governor Boggs, dated Daviess county, containing all the falsehoods and lies that the evil genius of mobocrats, villains, and murderers could invent, charging the 'Mormons' with every crime they themselves had been guilty of, and calling the 'Mormons' impostors, rebels, Canadian refugees, emissaries of the prince of darkness, and signed, 'The Citizens of Daviess and Livingston Counties.'" (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:75)
SEPTEMBER 12 - OCTOBER 12, 1838-SAINTS DRIVEN FROM DEWITT
About this time [September 12th] sixty or more mobbers entered De Witt and warned the brethren to leave that place. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:77)
Their threats continue, warning the saints to leave the county by October 1st or suffer the consequences. The saints in De Witt wrote to Governor Boggs asking for protection from the mob. October 2-5, the mob starts firing on the inhabitants of De Witt. The saints return fire as well. When the Prophet Joseph heard of this conflict, he "made preparations to go to that place, and endeavor, if possible, to allay the feelings of the citizens, and save the lives of my brethren who were thus exposed to their wrath.
"Saturday, October 6.-I arrived at De Witt, and found that the accounts of the situation of that place were correct, for it was with much difficulty, and by traveling unfrequented roads, that I was able to get there, all the principal roads being strongly guarded by the mob, who refused all ingress as well as egress. I found my brethren, who were only a handful in comparison to the mob by which they were surrounded, in this situation, and their provisions nearly exhausted, and no prospect of obtaining any more. We thought it necessary to send immediately to the governor, to inform him of the circumstances, hoping to receive from the executive the protection which we needed...
"Under the same date, [October 6th] from the mob camp near De Witt, eleven blood-thirsty fellows, viz., Congrave Jackson, Larkin H. Woods, Thomas Jackson, Rolla M. Daviess, James Jackson, Jun., Johnson Jackson, John L. Tomlin, Sidney S. Woods, Geo. Crigler, William L. Banks, and Whitfield Dicken, wrote a most inflammatory, lying and murderous communication to the citizens of Howard county, calling upon them as friends and fellow citizens, to come to their immediate rescue, as the 'Mormons' were then firing upon them and they would have to act on the defensive until they could procure more assistance.
"The messenger, Mr. Caldwell, who had been dispatched to the governor for assistance, returned, but instead of receiving any aid or even sympathy from his Excellency, we were told that 'the quarrel was between the Mormons and the mob,' and that 'we might fight it out.'
"About this time a mob, commanded by Hyrum Standly, took Smith Humphrey's goods out of his house, and said Standly set fire to Humphrey's house and burned it before his eyes, and ordered him to leave the place forthwith, which he did by fleeing from De Witt to Caldwell county. The mob had sent to Jackson county and got a cannon, powder and balls, and bodies of armed men had gathered in, to aid them, from Ray, Saline, Howard, Livingston, Clinton, Clay, Platte counties and other parts of the state, and a man by the name of Jackson, from Howard county, was appointed their leader.
"The Saints were forbidden to go out of the town under pain of death, and were shot at when they attempted to go out to get food, of which they were destitute. As fast as their cattle or horses got where the mob could get hold of them, they were taken as spoil, as also other kinds of property. By these outrages the brethren were obliged, most of them, to live in wagons or tents.
"...General Parks informed us that a greater part of his men under Captain Bogart had mutinied, and... consequently he could offer us no assistance.
"We had now no hopes whatever of successfully resisting the mob, who kept constantly increasing; our provisions were entirely exhausted, and we were worn out by continually standing on guard, and watching the movements of our enemies, who, during the time I was there, fired at us a great many times. Some of the brethren perished from starvation; and for once in my life, I had the pain of beholding some of my fellow creatures fall victims to the spirit of persecution, which did then, and has since, prevailed to such an extent in Upper Missouri. They were men, too, who were virtuous and against whom no legal process could for one moment be sustained, but who, in consequence of their love of God, attachment to His cause, and their determination to keep the faith, were thus brought to an untimely grave.
"In the meantime Henry Root and David Thomas, who had been the soul cause of the settlement of our people in De Witt, solicited the Saints to leave the place. Thomas said he had assurances from the mob, that if they would leave the place they would not be hurt... When the people came to start, many of their horses, oxen and cows were gone, and could not be found. It was known at the time, and the mob boasted of it, that they had killed the oxen and lived on them. Many houses belonging to my brethren were burned, their cattle driven away, and a great quantity of their property was destroyed by the mob. The people of De Witt utterly failed to fulfill their pledge to pay the Saints for the losses they sustained. The governor having turned a deaf ear to our entreaties, the militia having mutinied, the greater part of them being ready to join the mob, the brethren, seeing no prospect of relief, came to the conclusion to leave that place, and seek a shelter elsewhere. Gathering up as many wagons as could be got ready, which was about seventy, with a remnant of the property they had been able to save from their ruthless foes, they left De Witt and started for Caldwell county on the afternoon of Thursday, October 11, 1838. They traveled that day about twelve miles, and encamped in a grove of timber near the road.
"That evening a woman, of the name of Jensen, who had some short time before given birth to a child, died in consequence of the exposure occasioned by the operations of the mob, and having to move before her strength would properly admit of it. She was buried in the grove, without a coffin.
"During our journey we were continually harassed and threatened by the mob, who shot at us several times, whilst several of our brethren died from the fatigue and privation which they had to endure, and we had to inter them by the wayside, without a coffin, and under circumstances the most distressing. We arrived in Caldwell on the twelfth of October." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:150-160)
OCTOBER 24-25, 1838-BATTLE OF CROOKED RIVER
Joseph Fielding Smith
Captain Bogart, although a member of the state militia, continued his depredations against the Saints. On the night of the 24th of October, 1838, this reverend captain with his force went to the home of Nathan Pinkham and took him and two other brethren prisoners, together with some horses and arms. The word reached Far West, and Judge Elias Higbee, the first judge of the County of Caldwell, ordered Lieutenant Colonel Hinkle, the highest officer in the militia at Far West, to send out a company to disperse the mobbers and release the prisoners. The trumpet sounded in the public square about midnight and the brethren assembled. Captain David W. Patten was given command of a company and ordered to go on horseback to the scene of the difficulty. The history of what occurred is given as follows:
"Fifteen of the company were detached from the main body while sixty continued their march till they arrived near the ford of Crooked River, where they dismounted, tied their horses and leaving four or five men to guard them, proceeded towards the ford, not knowing the location of the encampment. It was just at the dawning of light in the east, when they were marching quietly along the road, and near the top of the hill which descends to the river, that the report of a gun was heard, and young Patrick O'Banion reeled out of the ranks and fell mortally wounded. Thus the work of death commenced, when Captain Patten ordered a charge and rushed down the hill on a fast trot, and when within about fifty yards of the camp formed a line. The mob formed a line under the bank of the river, below their tents. It was yet so dark that little could be seen by looking at the west, while the mob looking towards the dawning light, could see Patten and his men, when they fired a broadside, and three or four of the brethren fell. Captain Patten ordered the fire returned, which was instantly obeyed, to great disadvantage in the darkness which yet continued. The fire was repeated by the mob, and returned by Captain Patten's company, who gave the watchword, 'God and Liberty.' Captain Patten then ordered a charge, which was instantly obeyed. The parties immediately came in contact, with their swords, and the mob were soon put to flight, crossing the river at the ford, and such places as they could get a chance. In the pursuit, one of the mob fled from behind a tree, wheeled and shot Captain Patten who instantly fell, mortally wounded, having received a large ball in his bowels.
"The ground was soon cleared, and the brethren gathered up a wagon or two, and making beds therein of tents, etc., took their wounded and retreated towards Far West. Three brethren were wounded in the bowels, one in the neck, one in the shoulder, one through the hips, one through both thighs, one in the arm, all by musket shot. One had his arm broken by a sword. Brother Gideon Carter was shot in the head, and left dead on the ground so defaced that the brethren did not know him. Bogart reported that he had lost one man. The three prisoners were released and returned with the brethren to Far West. Captain Patten was carried some of the way in a litter, but it caused so much distress that he begged to be left by the wayside. He was carried into Brother Winchester's, three miles from the city of Far West, where he died that night. Patrick O'Banion died soon after, and Brother Carter's body was also brought from Crooked River, when it was discovered who he was."
The result of this conflict brought sorrow to the Church at Far West. Joseph and Hyrum Smith and Lyman Wight met the brethren on their return, at Log Creek, where they did all that could be done for Captain Patten before his death. "Brother Patten," said the Prophet "was a very worthy man, beloved by all good men who knew him. He was one of the Twelve Apostles, and died as he had lived, a man of God, and strong in the faith of a glorious resurrection, in a world where mobs will have no power or place. One of his last expressions to his wife was-'whatever you do else, O do not deny the faith.' How different his fate to that of the apostate, Thomas B. Marsh, who this day vented all the lying spleen and malice of his heart towards the work of God, in a letter to Brother and Sister Abbot, to which was annexed an addendum by Orson Hyde." The funeral of Brothers Patten and O'Banion was held at Far West Saturday, October 27, 1838. On that occasion the Prophet said of Elder Patten: "There lies a man that has done just as he said he would-he has laid down his life for his friends." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 223-225)
OCTOBER 27, 1838-EXTERMINATION ORDER OF GOVERNOR BOGGS
Joseph Fielding Smith
Governor Boggs preferred to believe-or more correctly, accepted contrary to his knowledge-the evil reports which flooded his office from the enemies of the Saints. In reporting to the governor the siege of De Witt, General Samuel D. Lucas, referred to the Saints as "base and degraded beings," who would be exterminated if they dared to kill one of the mobbers besieging them; for such was the hatred of the people. Lucas was one of the most bitter of the enemies of the Church. Reverend Sashiel Woods and Joseph Dickson, October 24, 1838, reported to the governor that "Captain Bogart and all his company, amounting to between fifty and sixty men, were massacred by the 'Mormons' at Buncombe, twelve miles north of Richmond, except three." This false report was made about the time of the battle of Crooked River; and they added that it might be relied on as being true that the "Mormons" expected to lay Richmond in ashes that very morning. Their fiendish appeal ended with these words: "We know not the hour or minute we will be laid in ashes-our country is ruined-for God's sake give us assistance as quick as possible!"...The Saints had no thought of making any attack on Richmond or any other place.
...the report of the battle of Crooked River... reached the ear of the governor. When he discovered that the "Mormons" were attempting to "fight it out," he had a great change of heart and issued his disgraceful "exterminating order," the greatest blot on the escutcheon of the state of Missouri. Others among the mob, and even officers of lesser dignity, had hinted at such a thing, but it remained for Lilburn W. Boggs, governor of the state of Missouri, without provocation or due investigation, to issue by authority of the great office which he held, to the militia of that commonwealth, an order to exterminate or drive from Missouri twelve thousand defenseless citizens who had done no wrong. And the execution of this shameful and wicked order was to be carried out in the dead of winter, which would bring to pass exposure and death of delicate women and innocent children, against whom there could have been no charge (Essentials in Church History [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 228-231)
Governor Boggs, in his extermination order, authorizes General John B. Clark to use whatever force necessary to drive the saints from the state.
Headquarters Militia, City Of Jefferson,
October 27, 1838.
Sir,-Since the order of the morning to you, directing you to cause four hundred mounted men to be raised within your division, I have received by Amos Rees, Esq., and Wiley C. Williams, Esq., one of my aids, information of the most appalling character, which changes the whole face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made open war upon the people of this state. Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operations and endeavor to reach Richmond, in Ray county, with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state, if necessary for the public good. Their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so, to any extent you may think necessary... The whole force will be placed under your command.
L. W. Boggs,
Governor and Commander-in-Chief. (History of the Church, 3:173)
(On June 25, 1976, Governor Christopher S. Bond issued an executive order rescinding the Extermination Order, recognizing its legal invalidity and formally apologizing in behalf of the state of Missouri for the suffering it had caused the Latter-day Saints. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 480) This order implies that it was technically legal to kill Mormons in Missouri from 1838 to 1976)
OCTOBER 30, 1838-HAUN'S MILL MASSACRE
On Sunday, twenty-eighth October, we arrived about twelve o'clock, at Haun's Mills, where we found a number of our friends collected together, who were holding a council, and deliberating on the best course for them to pursue, to defend themselves against the mob, who were collecting in the neighborhood under the command of Colonel Jennings of Livingston county, and threatening them with house burning and killing. The decision of the council was, that our friends there should place themselves in an attitude of self defense. Accordingly about twenty-eight of our men armed themselves, and were in constant readiness for an attack of any small body of men that might come down upon them...
Monday passed away without molestation from any quarter.
On Tuesday, the 30th, that bloody tragedy was acted, the scene of which I shall never forget. More than three-fourths of the day had passed in tranquility, as smiling as the preceding one. I think there was no individual of our company that was apprised of the sudden and awful fate that hung over our heads like an overwhelming torrent, which was to change the prospects, the feelings and the circumstances of about thirty families. The banks of Shoal creek on either side teemed with children sporting and playing, while their mothers were engaged in domestic employments, and their fathers employed in guarding the mills and other property, while others were engaged in gathering in their crops for their winter consumption. The weather was very pleasant, the sun shone clear, all was tranquil, and no one expressed any apprehension of the awful crisis that was near us-even at our doors.
It was about four o'clock, while sitting in my cabin with my babe in my arms, and my wife standing by my side, the door being open, I cast my eyes on the opposite bank of Shoal creek and saw a large company of armed men, on horses, directing their course towards the mills with all possible speed. As they advanced through the scattering trees that stood on the edge of the prairie they seemed to form themselves into a three square position, forming a vanguard in front.
At this moment, David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers, (there being two hundred and forty of them, according to their own account), swung his hat, and cried for peace. This not being heeded, they continued to advance, and their leader, Mr. Nehemiah Comstock, fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten or twelve seconds, when, all at once, they discharged about one hundred rifles, aiming at a blacksmith shop into which our friends had fled for safety; and charged up to the shop, the cracks of which between the logs were sufficiently large to enable them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers. There were several families tented in the rear of the shop, whose lives were exposed, and amidst a shower of bullets fled to the woods in different directions.
After standing and gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, and finding myself in the uttermost danger, the bullets having reached the house where I was living, I committed my family to the protection of heaven, and leaving the house on the opposite side, I took a path which led up the hill, following in the trail of three of my brethren that had fled from the shop. While ascending the hill we were discovered by the mob, who immediately fired at us, and continued so to do till we reached the summit. In descending the hill, I secreted myself in a thicket of bushes, where I lay till eight o'clock in the evening, at which time I heard a female voice calling my name in an under tone, telling me that the mob had gone and there was no danger. I immediately left the thicket, and went to the house of Benjamin Lewis, where I found my family (who had fled there) in safety, and two of my friends mortally wounded, one of whom died before morning. Here we passed the painful night in deep and awful reflections on the scenes of the preceding evening.
After daylight appeared, some four or five men, who with myself, had escaped with our lives from the horrid massacre, and who repaired as soon as possible to the mills, to learn the condition of our friends, whose fate we had but too truly anticipated. When we arrived at the house of Mr. Haun, we found Mr. Merrick's body lying in the rear of the house, Mr. McBride's in front, literally mangled from head to foot. We were informed by Miss Rebecca Judd, who was an eye witness, that he was shot with his own gun, after he had given it up, and then cut to pieces with a corn cutter by a Mr. Rogers of Daviess county, who keeps a ferry on Grand river, and who has since repeatedly boasted of this act of savage barbarity. Mr. York's body we found in the house, and after viewing these corpses, we immediately went to the blacksmith's shop, where we found nine of our friends, eight of whom were already dead; the other, Mr. Cox, of Indiana, struggling in the agonies of death and soon expired. We immediately prepared and carried them to the place of interment. The last office of kindness due to the remains of departed friends, was not attended with the customary ceremonies or decency, for we were in jeopardy, every moment expecting to be fired upon by the mob, who, we supposed, were lying in ambush, waiting for the first opportunity to despatch the remaining few who were providentially preserved from the slaughter of the preceding day. However, we accomplished without molestation this painful task. The place of burying was a vault in the ground, formerly intended for a well, into which we threw the bodies of our friends promiscuously. Among those slain I will mention Sardius Smith, son of Warren Smith, about nine years old, who, through fear, had crawled under the bellows in the shop, where he remained till the massacre was over, when he was discovered by a Mr. Glaze, of Carroll county, who presented his rifle near the boy's head, and literally blowed off the upper part of it. Mr. Stanley, of Carroll, told me afterwards that Glaze boasted of this fiend-like murder and heroic deed all over the country.
The number killed and mortally wounded in this wanton slaughter was eighteen or nineteen, whose names as far as I recollect were as follows: Thomas McBride, Levi N. Merrick, Elias Benner, Josiah Fuller, Benjamin Lewis, Alexander Campbell, Warren Smith, Sardius Smith, George S. Richards, Mr. William Napier, Augustine Harmer, Simon Cox, Mr. [Hiram] Abbott, John York, Charles Merrick, (a boy eight or nine nears old), [John Lee, John Byers], and three or four others, whose names I do not recollect, as they were strangers, to me. Among the wounded who recovered were Isaac Laney, Nathan K. Knight, Mr. [William] Yokum, two brothers by the name of [Jacob and George] Myers, Tarlton Lewis, Mr. [Jacob] Haun, and several others, [Jacob Foutz, Jacob Potts, Charles Jimison, John Walker, Alma Smith, aged about nine years]. Miss Mary Stedwell, while fleeing, was shot through the hand, and, fainting, fell over a log, into which they shot upwards of twenty balls.
To finish their work of destruction, this band of murderers, composed of men from Daviess, Livingston, Ray, Carroll, and Chariton counties, led by some of the principal men of that section of the upper country, (among whom I am informed were Mr. Ashby, of Chariton, member of the state legislature; Colonel Jennings, of Livingston county, Thomas O. Bryon, clerk of Livingston county; Mr. Whitney, Dr. Randall, and many others), proceeded to rob the houses, wagons, and tents, of bedding and clothing; drove off horses and wagons, leaving widows and orphans destitute of the necessaries of life; and even stripped the clothing from the bodies of the slain. According to their own account, they fired seven rounds in this awful butchery, making upwards of sixteen hundred shots at a little company of men, about thirty in number. I hereby certify the above to be a true statement of facts, according to the best of my knowledge. (History of the Church, 3:183-186)
OCTOBER 31, 1838-SEIGE OF FAR WEST, ARREST OF PROPHET AND BRETHREN
On the 30th of October a large company of armed soldiers were seen approaching Far West. They came up near to the town, and then drew back about a mile, and encamped for the night. We were informed that they were militia, ordered out by the governor for the purpose of stopping our proceedings, it having been represented to his excellency, by wicked and designing men from Daviess that we were the aggressors, and had committed outrages in Daviess county. They had not yet got the governor's order of extermination, which I believe did not arrive till the next day.
Wednesday, October 31.-The militia of Far West guarded the city the past night, and arranged a temporary fortification of wagons, timber, etc., on the south. The sisters, many of them, were engaged in gathering up their most valuable effects, fearing a terrible battle in the morning, and that the houses might be fired and they obliged to flee. The enemy was five to one against us.
About eight o'clock a flag of truce was sent from the enemy, which was met by several of our people, and it was hoped that matters would be satisfactorily arranged after the officers had heard a true statement of all the circumstances. Colonel Hinkle went to meet the flag, and secretly made the following engagement: First, to give up their [the Church's] leaders to be tried and punished; second, to make an appropriation of the property of all who had taken up arms, for the payment of their debts, and indemnify for the damage done by them; third, that the remainder of the Saints should leave the state, and be protected while doing so by the militia; but they were to be permitted to remain under protection until further orders were received from the commander-in-chief; fourth, to give up their arms of every description, which would be receipted for.
The enemy was reinforced by about one thousand five hundred men today, and news of the destruction of property by the mob reached us from every quarter.
Towards evening I was waited upon by Colonel Hinkle, who stated that the officers of the militia desired to have an interview with me and some others, hoping that the difficulties might be settled without having occasion to carry into effect the exterminating orders which they had received from the governor. I immediately complied with the request, and in company with Elders Sidney Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt, Colonel Wight and George W. Robinson, went into the camp of the militia. But judge of my surprise, when, instead of being treated with that respect which is due from one citizen to another, we were taken as prisoners of war, and treated with the utmost contempt. The officers would not converse with us, and the soldiers, almost to a man, insulted us as much as they felt disposed, breathing out threats against me and my companions. I cannot begin to tell the scene which I there witnessed. The loud cries and yells of more than one thousand voices, which rent the air and could be heard for miles, and the horrid and blasphemous threats and curses which were poured upon us in torrents, were enough to appall the stoutest heart. In the evening we had to lie down on the cold ground, surrounded by a strong guard, who were only kept back by the power of God from depriving us of life. We petitioned the officers to know why we were thus treated, but they utterly refused to give us any answer, or to converse with us. (History of the Church, 3:187-190)
Over the next month, the Prophet and fellow prisoners were ushered first to Independence, then to Richmond-most of the time receiving harsh and deplorable treatment. November 30, 1838, they were taken to Liberty Jail, where they stayed in a "cell, which had two small grated windows on the south and the north, was a dirt-floored dungeon accessible only by a ladder lowered through the floor of the room above." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 4:34)
Cutaway of a recreation of the Liberty jail. Note that the men would not be able to stand up straight.
A photograph of the actual jail. There would have been stairs leading up to the door.
Sections 121, 122, and 123 were taken from a rather lengthy epistle that Joseph Smith and his fellow prisoners sent to the saints from Liberty Jail. It may be read in its entirety in The History of the Church, vol. 3. The epistle took the Prophet six days to write, it being composed between March 20th and March 25th. His greeting is reminiscent of Paul's epistles:
Your humble servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., prisoner for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the Saints, taken and held by the power of mobocracy, under the exterminating reign of his excellency, the governor, Lilburn W. Boggs, in company with his fellow prisoners and beloved brethren, Caleb Baldwin, Lyman Wight, Hyrum Smith, and Alexander McRae, send unto you all greeting. May the grace of God the Father, and of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, rest upon you all, and abide with you forever. May knowledge be multiplied unto you by the mercy of God. And may faith and virtue, and knowledge and temperance, and patience and godliness, and brotherly kindness and charity be in you and abound, that you may not be barren in anything, nor unfruitful. (Epistle to the Saints, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3: 290)
James E. Faust
Perhaps in all literature, sacred or profane, there is nothing more eloquent than sections 121, 122, and 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants, received and written by Joseph Smith the Prophet while in the Liberty Jail in the spring of 1839. (Ensign, Feb. 1998, 4)
Heber J. Grant
Placing the Prophet in a jail did not stop communication between God, our Heavenly Father, and his chosen instrument here upon the earth. (Conference Report, October 1919, 11)
B. H. Roberts
The eyes of the saints were turned to it (Liberty Jail) as the place whence would come encouragement, counsel-the word of the Lord. It was more temple than prison, so long as the Prophet was there. It was a place of meditation and prayer. A temple, first of all, is a place of prayer; and prayer is communion with God. It is the "infinite in man seeking the infinite in God." Where they find each other, there is holy sanctuary-a temple. Joseph Smith sought God in this rude prison, and found him. Out of the midst of his tribulations he called upon God in passionate earnestness. (Franklin D. Richards, "The Purpose of Life: To Be Proved," Ensign, Dec. 1971, 51-52)
DC 121:1 O God, where art thou?
Ezra Taft Benson
I often think of the Prophet Joseph-to me the greatest prophet who has ever lived upon the face of the earth, save Jesus only, whom he represented and served. I think of his trials and tribulations. I thought of them as I once stood in Liberty Jail. He was in that filthy jail, surrounded by vile men, not for a period of days or weeks, but months. And finally, when it seemed as though he could stand it no longer, Joseph cried out and asked Heavenly Father why He would not intervene. ("All This and the Gospel Too," New Era, Nov. 1991, 7)
Marvin J. Ashton
It is expedient for all of us, particularly those who may be weighed down by grief because of acts of misconduct or misfortune, to recall that even the Prophet Joseph Smith had hours of despair because of his very trying experiences in the Liberty Jail. Perhaps he too was entitled to question, "What did I do wrong? What have I done to displease Thee, O Lord? Where have I failed? Why are the answers to my prayers and pleas withheld?" In response to the feelings of his heart and mind he cried out: O God, where art thou? ("If Thou Endure It Well," Ensign, Nov. 1984, 20)
Marvin J. Ashton
God was there, and He heard. But His purposes and timetables were, and are, eternal. Often we mortals misunderstand; instead of answers there are sometimes delays, tests, and a trying by fire. ("Know He Is There," Ensign, Feb. 1994, 50-51)
Marvin J. Ashton
What a blessing it is to know that when we have special challenges, heartbreaks, unusual experiences, or disappointments, He is there, and we can cry unto Him in faith and complete trust.
Very often over the years, I have had peace and patience knowing that He was there and would not forsake me, even though some prayers seemed unanswered. What a joy and strength it would be in all of our lives to have the childlike faith and complete trust to know that He is there and we can cry out unto Him under all circumstances. Thank God for a wise mission president who taught me to know God is there.
Perhaps it would be good for our souls to build the understanding that He is there, even our loving and eternal Father, and that oftentimes, delays to our urgent pleas can be best for us. Who is to say it isn't more important to know He is there than to receive immediate answers? Oftentimes I think of the conditions under which Joseph Smith pled within the confines of the horrible prison. It appeared that his needs and pleas were justified, as he was confined and separated from his family, Church, and friends. He undoubtedly suffered intense mental as well as physical anguish. Giving answers appeared to be not the Lord's way at that time. Nevertheless, the Prophet seemed to be sustained by the overruling knowledge that God was there, knew him, and loved him. While answers to his pleading and prayers were delayed, God was building a stronger prophet. ("Know He Is There," Ensign, Feb. 1994, 50)
DC 121:2-4 Poetic language of the scriptures
At times, poetic styles are attributed to cultural influences. Chiasmus has been associated with ancient Jewish texts. When found in the Book of Mormon, it is felt to represent Jewish influence on the Book of Mormon writers. These styles are "examples of passages in the Book of Mormon which bear the distinct stamp of an ancient Hebraic literary form." ("Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon by John W. Welch", BYU Studies, vol. 10 (1969-1970), Number 1 - Autumn 1969, 69)
Furthermore, we find parallelism, metaphors, allegories, parables, and figures in the Bible. All would seem to be devices used consciously by the prophet-author to illustrate divine principles. However, these devices are not always the product of a cultural literary tradition. What if we find chiasmus in the Doctrine and Covenants? Is that evidence of a Hebraic literary form? Or is that evidence of a common thread run through the tapestry of God's revealed word to man? These elements may be more accurately seen as literary devices of the Spirit, as poetic styles of the scriptures, or as the essential ingredients of inspired texts.
The Prophet Joseph Smith used the same sort of "Biblical" language when he wrote a letter to his friends and family abroad. Readers with a mustard seed of the spirit of prophecy can recognize the inspired nature of his plea. They will also see common literary forms-independent of any culture but the culture of the Spirit. Hence, the Prophet references God's hand, his eye, his ear, his heart, and his bowels:
How long shall thy hand be stayed,
and thine eye... behold... the wrongs...
and thine ear be penetrated...
before thine heart shall be softened...
and thy bowels be moved with compassion...?
However, the language sounds like it belongs in the Old Testament. Psalms 34 reads:
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,
And his ears are open unto their cry.
The face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (Ps 34:15-16)
The Prophet was not copying the pattern of the psalmist. This was the style of the Spirit and the language of the Lord. Speaking of section 121, Mark E. Petersen wrote, "Not even Shakespeare could write like that!" (Joseph of Egypt [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 143)
DC 121:5 Let thine anger be kindled against our enemies; and... avenge us of our wrongs
Most of you are well acquainted with the wrongs and the high-handed injustice and cruelty that are practiced upon us; whereas we have been taken prisoners charged falsely with every kind of evil, and thrown into prison, enclosed with strong walls, surrounded with a strong guard, who continually watch day and night as indefatigable as the devil does in tempting and laying snares for the people of God:
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, we are the more ready and willing to lay claim to your fellowship and love. For our circumstances are calculated to awaken our spirits to a sacred remembrance of everything, and we think that yours are also, and that nothing therefore can separate us from the love of God and fellowship one with another; and that every species of wickedness and cruelty practiced upon us will only tend to bind our hearts together and seal them together in love. We have no need to say to you that we are held in bonds without cause, neither is it needful that you say unto us, We are driven from our homes and smitten without cause. We mutually understand that if the inhabitants of the state of Missouri had let the Saints alone, and had been as desirable of peace as they were, there would have been nothing but peace and quietude in the state unto this day; we should not have been in this hell, surrounded with demons (if not those who are damned, they are those who shall be damned) and where we are compelled to hear nothing but blasphemous oaths, and witness a scene of blasphemy, and drunkenness and hypocrisy, and debaucheries of every description.
And again, the cries of orphans and widows would not have ascended up to God against them. Nor would innocent blood have stained the soil of Missouri. But oh! the unrelenting hand! The inhumanity and murderous disposition of this people! It shocks all nature; it beggars and defies all description; it is a tale of woe; a lamentable tale; yea a sorrowful tale; too much to tell; too much for contemplation; too much for human beings; it cannot be found among the heathens; it cannot be found among the nations where kings and tyrants are enthroned; it cannot be found among the savages of the wilderness; yea, and I think it cannot be found among the wild and ferocious beasts of the forest-that a man should be mangled for sport! women be robbed of all that they have-their last morsel for subsistence, and then be violated to gratify the hellish desires of the mob, and finally left to perish with their helpless offspring clinging around their necks.
But this is not all. After a man is dead, he must be dug up from his grave and mangled to pieces, for no other purpose than to gratify their spleen against the religion of God.
They practice these things upon the Saints, who have done them no wrong, who are innocent and virtuous; who loved the Lord their God, and were willing to forsake all things for Christ's sake. These things are awful to relate, but they are verily true. It must needs be that offenses come, but woe unto them by whom they come. (Epistle to the Saints, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3: 290-291)
DC 121:6 Remember thy suffering saints
And now, beloved brethren, we say unto you, that inasmuch as God hath said that He would have a tried people, that He would purge them as gold, now we think that this time He has chosen His own crucible, wherein we have been tried; and we think if we get through with any degree of safety, and shall have kept the faith, that it will be a sign to this generation, altogether sufficient to leave them without excuse; and we think also, it will be a trial of our faith equal to that of Abraham, and that the ancients will not have whereof to boast over us in the day of judgment, as being called to pass through heavier afflictions; that we may hold an even weight in the balance with them; but now, after having suffered so great sacrifice and having passed through so great a season of sorrow, we trust that a ram may be caught in the thicket speedily, to relieve the sons and daughters of Abraham from their great anxiety, and to light up the lamp of salvation upon their countenances, that they may hold on now, after having gone so far unto everlasting life. (Epistle to the Saints, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3: 294-295)
DC 121:7 My son, peace be unto thy soul
James E. Faust
During the years of my life, I have gone to my knees with a humble spirit to the only place I could for help. I often went in agony of spirit, earnestly pleading with God to sustain me in the work I have come to appreciate more than life itself. I have, on occasion, felt the terrible aloneness of the wounds of the heart, of the sweet agony, the buffetings of Satan, and the encircling warm comfort of the Spirit of the Master.
I have also felt the crushing burden, the self-doubts of inadequacy and unworthiness, the fleeting feeling of being forsaken, then of being reinforced an hundredfold. I have climbed a spiritual Mount Sinai dozens of times seeking to communicate and to receive instructions. It has been as though I have struggled up an almost real Mount of Transfiguration and upon occasion felt great strength and power in the presence of the Divine. A special, sacred feeling has been a sustaining influence and often a close companion.
It is my testimony that we are facing difficult times. We must be courageously obedient. My witness is that we will be called upon to prove our spiritual stamina, for the days ahead will be filled with affliction and difficulty. But with the assuring comfort of a personal relationship with God, we will be given a calming courage. From the Divine so near we will receive the quiet assurance:
"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;" ("That We Might Know Thee," Ensign, Jan. 1999, 4-5)
Robert D. Hales
The Lord is the ultimate caregiver. We must surrender ourselves to the Lord. In doing so, we give up whatever is causing our pain and turn everything over to Him. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee" (Ps. 55:22). "And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son" (Alma 33:23). Through faith and trust in the Lord and obedience to His counsel, we make ourselves eligible to be partakers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ so that one day we may return to live with Him.
As we put our faith and trust in the Lord, we must battle our pain day by day and sometimes hour by hour, even moment by moment; but in the end, we understand that marvelous counsel given to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he struggled with his pain of feeling forgotten and isolated in Liberty Jail:
My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes (D&C 121:7-8).
("Healing Soul and Body," Ensign, Nov. 1998, 16-17)
DC 121:7 Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment
How would you define "a small moment"? For me, that is about 2-3 minutes. By the Lord's timetable, "a small moment" may last for 4 months. "It appears that the actual confinement in the jail at Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, started on Saturday, December 1, 1838, and lasted until Saturday, April 6, 1839, when the brethren were removed to be taken to Daviess County. Their stay in Liberty Jail, then, lasted 127 days." (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, Revised and Enhanced, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chapter 48, footnote 24)
DC 121:8 if thou endure it well
Marvin J. Ashton
It can be declared accurately and without hesitation that Joseph Smith's noble character and stature were shaped and achieved by constant victories over his afflictions. Jesus, too, developed unique balance mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially as he labored and served under all types of trying circumstances:
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Heb. 5:8-9).
Difficulties can be a valuable tool in our pursuit for perfection. Adversity need have no necessary connection with failure. Proper self-management and self-discipline in all of our trials brings strength. If we are prepared, we can meet life's challenges victoriously. We become His disciples when we continue faithfully under all circumstances-including suffering and tragedy.
C. S. Lewis shared a meaningful observation when he said, "I have seen great beauty of spirit in some who were great sufferers. I have seen men, for the most part, grow better not worse with advancing years, and I have seen the last illness produce treasures of fortitude and meekness from most unpromising subjects." ("Adversity and You," Ensign, Nov. 1980, 60)
James E. Faust
Why is adversity often such a good schoolmaster? Is it because it teaches so many things? Through difficult circumstances we are often forced to learn discipline and how to work. In often unpleasant circumstances we may also be subjected to a buffeting, a honing, and a polishing that can come no other way. (Ensign, Feb. 1998, 5)
Howard W. Hunter
As we look back in retrospect, we see that it was because of the opposition encountered in our early history that our progress today has been made possible. Out of that caldron of persecution and heartache, the Lord answered the soul-cry of the Prophet Joseph Smith in these words:
Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high (D&C 121:7-8).
If thou art called to pass through tribulation, ... know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good (D&C 122:5, 7).
By the tribulation well endured by numerous of our progenitors, a desert blossomed as a rose (see Isa. 35:1), a tried and persecuted people provided a heritage of faith, and Zion put on her beautiful garments for all to see (see D&C 82:14).
One hundred fifty years of Church history provide us with a lesson that when resistance and opposition are greatest, our faith, commitment, and growth have the greatest opportunity for advancement; when opposition is least, the tendency is to be complacent and lose faith. President Brigham Young said: "Let any people enjoy peace and quietness, unmolested, undisturbed,-never be persecuted for their religion, and they are very likely to neglect their duty, to become cold and indifferent, and lose their faith" (in Journal of Discourses, 7:42). This lesson, which applies to the Church collectively, also applies to individuals. ("God Will Have a Tried People," Ensign, May 1980, 24)
DC 121:8 God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes
See how quickly the Lord answered [Brother Joseph's] prayer offered up while a prisoner in Liberty Jail... Joseph had no sooner called upon God than he was liberated; and his prayer answered to the very letter. The voice of the Spirit again spoke to him, speaking peace to his soul, and telling him that his troubles should be of short duration. It was but a few days when he had the pleasure of shaking hands with his brethren, and enjoying the society of his family and friends. Joseph lived to accomplish the work that was required of him notwithstanding the persistent and determined opposition that he had to contend against. And after his death the work still went on, God and His angels all the while guiding and sustaining by His Spirit the Prophet Brigham. And He will continue to sustain His servants, and through them and His people Israel He will bring to pass the greatest and grandest work that the world has ever known. (Journal of Discourses, 24:55-56)
Henry D. Taylor
Joseph Smith was true, faithful, and unwavering to the trust placed in him. His associates were proud to declare to the world: "Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. ... He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord's anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood. ..." (D&C 135:3.)
Joseph Smith truly was tested, tried, and not found wanting. He measured up to every requirement expected of him. ("A Time of Testing," Ensign, Dec. 1971, 44)
DC 121:9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and the shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands
We received some letters last evening-one from Emma, one from Don C. Smith, and one from Bishop Partridge-all breathing a kind and consoling spirit. We were much gratified with their contents. We had been a long time without information; and when we read those letters they were to our souls as the gentle air is refreshing, but our joy was mingled with grief, because of the sufferings of the poor and much injured Saints. And we need not say to you that the floodgates of our hearts were lifted and our eyes were a fountain of tears, but those who have not been enclosed in the walls of prison without cause or provocation, can have but little idea how sweet the voice of a friend is; one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling; it brings up in an instant everything that is passed; it seizes the present with the avidity of lightning; it grasps after the future with the fierceness of a tiger; it moves the mind backward and forward, from one thing to another, until finally all enmity, malice and hatred, and past differences, misunderstandings and mismanagements are slain victorious at the feet of hope; and when the heart is sufficiently contrite, then the voice of inspiration steals along and whispers, My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment... (Epistle to the Saints, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3: 293)
Marvin J. Ashton
Joseph Smith was enduring much, for God's own purposes, but he was rich because his friends were standing by him.
A person is poor when he is friendless, but even poorer when he ceases being a friend. No matter what the conduct or negligence of others may be, we cannot afford to yield in our sincere efforts to be a friend. ("It's No Fun Being Poor," Ensign, Sept. 1982, 73)
DC 121:10 Thou art not yet as Job
You never want to compare your sufferings to Job's. That is, unless, you have lost all 10 of your children in a tornado, all your wealth to robbers and marauders including 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 each of oxen and asses. The richest man of the east was immediately poor (Job 1:3). Next, he was afflicted with painful boils from head to foot. If that wasn't enough, his wife and his three closest friends questioned his goodness and integrity. Initially, the friends had come "to mourn with him and to comfort him." (Job 2:11) Instead, they found fault-arguing that such tragedy must certainly be punishment for sin. Biblical evidence suggests that his friends' response was a particularly difficult trial for Job. He mourned:
To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend...
And ye dig a pit for your friend. (Job 6:14,27)
...my familiar friends have forgotten me...
All my [closest] friends abhorred me; and they whom I loved are turned against me. (Job 19:14, 19)
"Then the Lord says, 'Thou art not yet as Job.' Here we have the 'It could be worse' appeal. Always it could be. Says a Persian legend, 'I complained that I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.' A little bit of chiding comes through in the Lord's reminder and promise that, unlike the situation of Job, 'Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.' (Vv. 9, 10.) Some friends are the wrong kind and add to our burden. They come in and say: 'All right, Job. Let's have it! What have you done wrong?' 'Job's comforters,' they're called. No comfort. Job didn't have the memory of awful transgressions. The roof fell in on a loving, righteous man. That was redramatized in MacLeish's modern play JB. A literary critic said, 'The thing that amazed me was to see JB, after it's all over, say, `All right, let's start again,' not knowing but what the whole roof would fall in again.' That is the tingle and threat of Job's life. And of ours. But those of us with faithful friends are always better off than he." (Truman G. Madsen, The Radiant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 63)
DC 121:14 That they may be disappointed also, and their hopes may be cut off
We were told this morning by Brother Woodruff-quoting the word of the Lord given through the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the promises He has made to His people-that inasmuch as we will be true to ourselves, true to God, true to our covenants and to our holy religion, that He will fight our battles, defend and maintain our cause, make it triumph and flourish, so that the wicked shall have no power to prevail against us. These promises have often been repeated to us, and last October we had a renewal of this assurance and this promise in the word of the Lord given unto us through His servant President John Taylor, and at a time and period, too, when many in our midst were weakening and their knees were beginning to tremble a little, and there were others who were inclined to falter and doubt, and fear was upon some. Our enemies-especially the bigot, the hypocrite, the demagogue, the political quacks of the country-rejoiced, thinking that they were succeeding in their efforts to weave webs around us, to forge fetters for our feet and yokes to place upon our necks, and to lash us into obedience to them. But the great majority of the Latter-day Saints were calm in their feelings as a summer's morning, trusting as they have ever done in the promises of God, inspired with faith and hope in his overruling providence; and while we were doing what we might do properly under the Constitution and institutions of our country for the maintenance of our freedom and liberty, leaving the rest with God, exercising faith in His promises, continuing to pray for His blessing to attend our efforts and to hedge up the ways of our enemies, yet we have waited calmly for the result of the promises of God, and the answer to our prayers and the fulfillment of those things that have been spoken to us; and how signally have we seen them fulfilled. We have seen the very means which the enemies of this people have devised and intended for their enslavement become before us as chaff, as thorns crackling under the pot, as a broken yoke to be used to kindle the fires of freedom and liberty. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 24: 69)
DC 121:16 Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed
Glenn L. Pace
[Another] category of critics is former members who have become disenchanted with the Church but who are obsessed with making vicious and vile attacks upon it. Most members and nonmembers alike see these attacks for what they really are. What credibility can possibly be given to a person who mocks beliefs held sacred by another? Anyone who would resort to these attacks unwittingly discloses his or her true character-or lack of the same. As members of the Church, we are appalled by such attacks. Hopefully, however, they make us more sensitive and extra careful not to make light of the sacred beliefs of other denominations.
In addition to attacking our sacred beliefs, some former members speak evil of the Brethren. Joseph Smith received his share of this criticism from the dissidents of his day. The Lord's revelation to him is applicable to us today:
Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.
But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. (D&C 121:16-17.)
It seems that history continues to teach us: You can leave the Church, but you can't leave it alone. The basic reason for this is simple. Once someone has received a witness of the Spirit and accepted it, he leaves neutral ground. One loses his testimony only by listening to the promptings of the evil one, and Satan's goal is not complete when a person leaves the Church, but when he comes out in open rebellion against it. ("Follow the Prophet," Ensign, May 1989, 26)
Dallin H. Oaks
The counsel against speaking evil of Church leaders is not so much for the benefit of the leaders as it is for the spiritual well-being of members who are prone to murmur and find fault. The Church leaders I know are durable people. They made their way successfully in a world of unrestrained criticism before they received their current callings. They have no personal need for protection; they seek no personal immunities from criticism-constructive or destructive. They only seek to declare what they understand to be the word of the Lord to his people.
President David O. McKay said this about what he called "murmurers" and "faultfinders":
" 'Speak not against the authorities.' What does it mean? Be not a murmurer; that is what it means. It is one of the most poisonous things that can be introduced into the home of a Latter-day Saint-this murmuring against presidents of stakes, high councilors, Sunday School superintendents, etc. ...
"Better stop murmuring and build. Remember that one of the worst means of tearing down an individual is slander. It is one of the most poisonous weapons that the evil one uses. Backbiting and evil speaking throw us into the class of malefactors rather than the class of benefactors." (Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953, pp. 142-43) ("Criticism," Ensign, Feb. 1987, 70)
George Q. Cannon
I cannot lift my hand against this people and be prospered in it, nor can any other man. No man can join with the enemies of this people and hope to succeed; for God will desert him, no matter how high his standing may be, and all who follow in his footsteps will find themselves dreadfully deceived. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 5, April 5, 1897)
J. Golden Kimball
There was a very prominent citizen that had an intelligent monkey. He was a mischievous fellow, and he just went around the house knocking everything down that he could get hold of. He knocked over everything that he came to; he discovered that the things he knocked over did not get up again... Finally, this good citizen took the image of a little man, made of some kind of material, and placed it on a very strong base. It was so arranged that when you knocked it over it would come up again. So he set this little man in the room. The monkey came around, took his right hand and cuffed it over. To his surprise it wobbled a little and staggered, and then rose up and seemingly looked at him. Then he took his other hand and cuffed it again, and it came up again. Then he took the hand of his right leg and knocked it again, and then with his left hind leg; then he got on it with all four hands and took one hand up at a time. To his surprise, the little man rose up. The intelligent monkey almost became a monkey maniac. He kept at it and kept at it until he hated and despised the little man; and whenever they would move the little man near the monkey, he would get off in the corner and chatter and become angry. He wouldn't have anything to do with the little man. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is similar, or like that little man. You can knock it down one hundred times; you can knock it down one thousand times; it may wobble, but it will rise up again, and it will keep rising up until God has accomplished His work. This is God's work, and I look in sympathy upon men who oppose it. I stood on the street last night-something I hardly ever do-and listened to a man abuse the Church; and I had to laugh... I would say to these kind of men: You had better let the Church alone; you had better let the people alone; because you can't destroy the Church. (Conference Report, October 1910, Afternoon Session. 34 - 35)
DC 121:16 they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes
Delbert L. Stapley
I testify to you, my brothers and sisters, that your leaders are doing that which is meet in the eyes of God. They may have their faults and their failings, but when it comes to devotion to their high calling in this Church and kingdom, there is no question but what they are doing all within their power to set forward the interests of the Church, and the interests of the people of the Church. (Conference Report, April 1952, Second Day-Morning Meeting 51)
Joseph F. Smith
Again I repeat that it is a serious thing for a man holding a membership in this Church to say in his heart, or openly, that these men holding the keys of the kingdom have sinned, when they have not sinned, and cause dissension, if it is in his power to do so among his brethren. The judgments of the Lord will overtake him. He will be brought in question before the Lord, and shall be cast out and find his place among the unbelievers; and those who flattered him and encouraged him to raise up his heel against his brethren will turn from him and leave him to his shame. I wish to testify that God has called these men, that He has appointed them, that He has given unto them the revelations of His mind and will; that they have the inspiration of His Spirit; that they are teaching and leading this people in truth. That is the conviction of every Latter-day Saint who has the gospel at heart. (Conference Report, October 1910, Second Day-Morning Session 40)
DC 121:17 those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin
J. Golden Kimball
I have noticed in associating among the Latter-day Saints, and it has been my happy privilege to come in close contact with very many of our young people, and older ones for that matter. They explain to me some of the things they are worried about, and quite frequently it is discovered that they are most concerned about matters that they have absolutely no faith in. For example: A person that pays no tithing is continually laying awake for fear it will not be properly used, and this kind of people finally wind up by apostatizing because of fancied and oftentimes imaginary wrongs their brethren have done them. The Lord has said, in the Doctrine & Covenants, page 421, "But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin and are the children of disobedience themselves." (Conference Report, October 1901, Overflow Meeting 55)
The enemies of this people will never get weary of their persecution against the Church, until they are overcome. I expect they will array everything against me that is in their power to control, and that we shall have a long and tremendous warfare. He that will war the true Christian warfare against the corruptions of these last days will have wicked men and angels of devils, and all the infernal powers of darkness continually arrayed against him. When wicked and corrupt men oppose, it is a criterion to judge if a man is warring the Christian warfare. When all men speak evil of you falsely, blessed are ye. Shall a man be considered bad, when men speak evil of him? No. If a man stands and opposes the world of sin, he may expect to have all wicked and corrupt spirits arrayed against him. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 259)
Joseph F. Smith
It is not necessary, perhaps, for me to say that there never was a time since the organization of the Church when it was more necessary than it is at present for all the Latter-day Saints to live their religion and to keep the commandments of the Lord, to purge from their midst iniquity, folly and sin and the transgression of the commandments of the laws of God unto them. I may add to this that perhaps there never was a time when the work of the Lord in the earth was in greater earnest or reality than it is today. As a proof of this, we need only to open our eyes and see the energy and activity of the enemies of this people at the present time. When the wicked rage and the heathen imagine a vain thing relative to this people, we may set it down as a fact that the devil is not dead, and that the work of the Lord is not dead, either. (Conference Report, April 1903, 97)
DC 121:18 those who swear falsely against my servants that they might bring them into bondage
The persecution which ultimately placed the Brethren in Liberty Jail came about in large part because of the false testimony of mob members and apostates. These men would go before a judge, swearing before God to tell the truth, and sign affidavits describing imagined atrocities of the Mormons. Many of these affidavits are preserved in The History of the Church, vol. 3.
Wednesday 8, 1838, the Prophet Joseph, with a small group of men, visited the justice of the peace in Daviess County. The man's name was Adam Black. He had sold part of a farm to one of the members but later joined the mob. The purpose of meeting with Judge Black was to ascertain whether the saints could expect to be treated fairly by him. They asked him to sign a written statement that he was not a mob member and would treat the saints fairly, which he did.
This event became the grounds for grandiose claims against the Prophet and the Mormons. False affidavits became the rule in Missouri. On the 10th of August, William Peniston made an oath that the Mormons "are of highly insurrectionary and unlawful character; that they consist of about five hundred men, and... have committed violence against Adam Black, by surrounding his house, and taking him in a violent manner, and subjecting him to great indignities by forcing him, under threats of immediate death, to sign a paper... and that they have, as a collected body and armed body, threatened to put to instant death this affiant (William Peniston) on sight." (History of the Church, 3:61)
Judge Black himself made an affidavit saying that the Mormon visitors numbered "one hundred and fifty-four... and threatened him with instant death if he did not sign a certain instrument of writing... not to molest the people called Mormons." (History of the Church, 3:64)
As if false affidavits from the mob weren't bad enough, Thomas B. Marsh, then the President of the Twelve, decided to apostatize. He swore as follows:
"I am informed by the Mormons, that they had a meeting at Far West, at which they appointed a company of twelve, by the name of the 'Destruction Company,' for the purpose of burning and destroying, and that if the people of Buncombe came to do mischief upon the people of Caldwell, and committed depredations upon the Mormons, they were to burn Buncombe, and if the people of Clay and Ray made any movement against them, this destroying company were to burn Liberty and Richmond. * * * * The Prophet inculcates the notion, and it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith's prophecies are superior to the laws of the land. I have heard the Prophet say that he would yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; and if he was not let alone, he would be a second Mohammed to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic ocean." (History of the Church, 3:167)
The next mob trick was to destroy their own property, by burning empty barns, etc. and then blame it on the Mormons.
About this time (October, 1838) William Morgan, sheriff of Daviess county, Samuel Bogart, Colonel William P. Penniston, Doctor Samuel Venable, Jonathan J. Dryden, James Stone and Thomas J. Martin, made communications or affidavits of the most inflammatory kind, charging upon the "Mormons" those depredations which had been committed by the mob, endeavoring thereby to raise the anger of those in authority, rallying a sufficient force around their standard, and produce a total overthrow, massacre, or banishment of the "Mormons" from the state. These and their associates were the ones who fired their own houses and then fled the country crying "fire and murder." (History of the Church, 3:167)
So it is that when men's hearts become hardened and corrupt, they will more readily swear to lies than speak the truth. (History of the Church, 3:61)
DC 121:20 their houses and their barns shall perish
B. H. Roberts
But what of Missouri? Did she pay any penalty for her wrong-doing? Are states such entities as may be held to an accounting for breaches of public faith and public morals-constitutional immoralities? Is there within the state a public conscience to which an appeal can be made; and in the event of the public conscience failing to respond to appeals for justice, and persisting in unrighteousness is there retribution?
I answer these questions in the affirmative; and hold that Missouri paid dearly for the violations of her guarantees of religious freedom, and for her many acts of lawlessness and her cruelties practiced towards the Latter-day Saints. That is to say, the vicious tendencies in lawlessness engendered by the acts of mobs and by the state's course towards the saints, established such precedents, and begot such a disregard for law that the events to be related in the experience of Missouri as establishing retribution for violation of the plain dictates of justice, became possible...
The following prophetic incident is given upon the authority of Mr. Leonidas M. Lawson, now of New York City, formerly a resident of Clay county, Missouri, and a brother-in-law of General Doniphan's. "In the year 1863," says Mr. Lawson, "I visited General A. W. Doniphan at his home in Liberty, Clay county, Missouri. This was soon after the devastation of Jackson county, Missouri, [during the Civil War]. This devastation was complete. Farms were everywhere destroyed, and the farm houses were burned. During this visit General Doniphan related the following historical facts and personal incidents." ...the following incident occurred during the Prophet's imprisonment in Liberty jail:
"On one occasion General Doniphan caused the sheriff of the county to bring Joseph Smith from the prison to his law office, for the purpose of consultation about his defense. During Smith's presence in the office, a resident of Jackson county, Missouri, came in for the purpose of paying a fee which was due by him to the firm of Doniphan & Baldwin, and offered in payment a tract of land in Jackson county.
"Doniphan told him that his partner, Mr. Baldwin, was absent at the moment, but as soon as he had an opportunity he would consult him and decide about the matter. When the Jackson county man retired, Joseph Smith, who had overheard the conversation, addressed General Doniphan about as follows:
'Doniphan, I advise you not to take Jackson county land in payment of the debt. God's wrath hangs over Jackson county. God's people have been ruthlessly driven from it, and you will live to see the day when it will be visited by fire and sword. The Lord of Hosts will sweep it with the besom of destruction. The fields and farms and houses will be destroyed, and only the chimneys will be left to mark the desolation.'
"General Doniphan said to me that the [Civil War] devastation of Jackson county forcibly reminded him of this remarkable prediction of the 'Mormon' Prophet...
"[During the Civil War] the people in the districts named (Jackson County, Cass County, Bass County) 'were driven from their homes, their dwellings burned, their farms laid waste, and the great bulk of their movable property handed over, without let or hindrance, to the Kansas jayhawkers. It was a brutal order, ruthlessly enforced...'
"Between the 'jayhawkers' of Kansas and the 'bushwackers' of Missouri some whole counties were plundered, some were desolated by fire and sword, and some were almost depopulated. Widows' homes were pillaged and burned, delicate mothers and daughters were captured, taken to camp and compelled to cook and wash for ruffian bands of armed men, to say nothing of nameless indignities and the most horrible crimes. Churches and dwellings were seized, converted into barracks for soldiers, stables for horses, and often burned to the ground in wanton destruction." (A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 1:536-548)
DC 121:19-22 they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house... They shall not have right to the priesthood
"Being cut off from the blessings of the temple and the priesthood, losing the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit, suffering feelings of insecurity and disappointment, and forfeiting the prosperity of the Lord are among those curses that can follow murmuring and criticism of the living prophets. Who among us would not choose to have the physical malady of leprosy or the wounds inflicted by wild animals that heal in time, rather than experience those irreversible, eternal spiritual consequences? It is against these latter judgments that the Lord lovingly seeks to shield us. President George Q. Cannon taught:
"'If any of you have indulged in the spirit of murmuring and fault-finding and have allowed your tongues to give utterance to thoughts and words that were wrong and not in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel, ... you ought to repent of it with all your hearts and get down into the depths of humility and implore Him for the forgiveness of that sin-for it is a most deadly sin.'" (Brent L. Top, Larry E. Dahl, and Walter D. Bowen, Follow the Living Prophets [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993], 173 - 174)
If we neglect that Gospel and our duties to God and to one another and become servants to sin, we may expect... to be deprived of the right of ruling over a single person, and possess no territory, not even six feet by three. Those who violate their claims to the blessings of the Gospel never will have the privilege of ruling over their families; they will not have a dollar of money. They may get all the gold there is in the mountains now, but when they die and go to their own place they will not find gold, nor bread to eat, nor water to drink, nor the sweet strains of music to cheer their hearts; but they will be made servants to drudge out their weary existence as long as the Lord shall please to let them. This is a little of what the wicked will suffer in their place in the next existence. (Journal of Discourses, 10:288)
DC 121:23 Wo unto all those that discomfort my people, and drive, and murder, and testify against them
Spencer W. Kimball
The Caesars burned the early Saints as torches, subjected them to the claws of wild beasts in the coliseums, drove them underground into the catacombs, confiscated their property, and snuffed out their lives, but all to no avail, for the fires of devotion and sacrifice were only intensified thereby.
The persecutors decapitated John the Baptist, ran a lance through the Apostle James, and according to tradition martyred the missionary, Paul, and crucified the mighty Simon Barjona. They failed of purpose. Where a relatively few contemporaries ever heard them, hundreds of millions have since been enlightened by their doctrines and inspired by their testimonies.
"Mormonism will fail if we kill their prophet," they said a century ago as they murdered Joseph Smith in cold blood. Undoubtedly their fiendish grins of satisfaction at such a foul deed changed to perturbed grimaces when they came to realize that they had been but kicking against sharp points, injuring only themselves. Mormonism was not destroyed by the cruel martyrdom, but here was its vitality. The bullet-torn flesh fertilized the soil; the blood they shed moistened the seed; and the spirits they sent heavenward will testify against them throughout eternities. The cause persists and grows. (Conference Report, April 1955, Fourth Day-Morning Meeting 96)
DC 121:26 God shall give unto you knowledge... that has not been revealed since the world was until now
How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations-too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of His will, from before the foundation of the world! We are called to hold the keys of the mysteries of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation of the world until now. Some have tasted a little of these things, many of which are to be poured down from heaven upon the heads of babes; yea, upon the weak, obscure and despised ones of the earth. Therefore we beseech of you, brethren, that you bear with those who do not feel themselves more worthy than yourselves, while we exhort one another to a reformation with one and all, both old and young, teachers and taught, both high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female; let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile or hypocrisy.
And now, brethren, after your tribulations, if you do these things, and exercise fervent prayer and faith in the sight of God always, He shall give unto you knowledge by His Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now... (Epistle to the Saints, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3: 295-296)
Bruce R. McConkie
This is the day of which Joseph Smith said: "God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them" (Teachings, p. 149).
And we look forward to that glorious millennial day when "they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord" (Jer. 31:34).
But even now there is no end to the revelations we may receive. "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (A of F 1:9). ("Thou Shalt Receive Revelation," Ensign, Nov. 1978, 61)
DC 121:26 the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost
There is a difference between 'the gift of the Holy Ghost' (DC 33:15) and 'the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost' (DC 121:26). The gift of the Holy Ghost is administered by the laying on of hands to those who have been baptized. It teaches the individual spiritual knowledge. By this Spirit we understand that Jesus is the Christ; we learn that the Book of Mormon is the word of God; we are taught to pray and do good. While the joy we feel from this Spirit may be inexpressible, the doctrines are not unspeakable. We may freely speak of them to anyone who understands the things of the Spirit.
The unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost is different. All those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost are entitled to the gifts of the Spirit, one of which is the unspeakable gift. It is a gift of revelation, prophecy, and knowledge whereby an individual is taught about things that 'cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man' (3 Ne 19:34). This knowledge is so sacred that it is unlawful to speak of it. It is knowledge 'which has not been revealed since the world was until know' (DC 121:26). By this unspeakable gift, Paul ascended to the third heaven and 'heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter' (2 Cor. 12:4). By this unspeakable gift, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw 'great and marvelous' things which God commanded them not to write because it was 'not lawful for man to utter; Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit' (DC 76:114-116). By this unspeakable gift, the Nephites were taught great and marvelous things, declaring 'eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father' (3 Ne. 17:15-18). By this unspeakable gift, those who have purified themselves and 'endured valiantly for the gospel of Christ' will someday have all things revealed unto them. This is the time when 'nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest. All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth' (DC 121:28-29). All of this and more will be revealed and understood by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost. 'Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.' (D&C 121:26)
This distinction is rarely made-and perhaps matters only to the doctrinal purist. This verse is quoted almost universally when speaking of the usual "gift of the Holy Ghost."
Gordon B. Hinckley
Of course we believe in the cultivation of the mind, but the intellect is not the only source of knowledge. There is a promise, given under inspiration from the Almighty, set forth in these beautiful words: "God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost." (D&C 121:26.)
The humanists who criticize the Lord's work, the so-called intellectualists who demean, speak only from ignorance of spiritual manifestation. They have not heard the voice of the Spirit. They have not heard it because they have not sought after it and prepared themselves to be worthy of it. Then, supposing that knowledge comes only of reasoning and of the workings of the mind, they deny that which comes by the power of the Holy Ghost.
The things of God are understood by the Spirit of God. That Spirit is real. To those who have experienced its workings, the knowledge so gained is as real as that which is acquired through the operation of the five senses. I testify of this. And I am confident that most members of the Church can so testify. I urge each of us to continue to cultivate a heart in tune with the Spirit. If we will do so, our lives will be enriched. We will feel a kinship with God our Eternal Father. We will taste a sweetness of joy that can be had in no other way. ("The Continuing Pursuit of Truth," Ensign, Apr. 1986, 6)
Bruce R. McConkie
I know people who can talk endlessly about religion but who have never had a religious experience. I know people who have written books about religion but who have about as much spirituality as a cedar post. Their interest in gospel doctrine is to defend their own speculative views rather than to find out what the Lord thinks about whatever is involved. Their conversations and their writings are in the realm of reason and the intellect; the Spirit of God has not touched their souls; they have not been born again and become new creatures of the Holy Ghost; they have not received revelation. ("The Lord's People Receive Revelation," Ensign, June 1971, 78)
This gift of the Holy Ghost is a different principle from anything that we see manifested in the sectarian world. It is a principle of intelligence, and revelation. It is a principle that reveals things past, present, and to come, and these gifts of the Holy Ghost were to be received through obedience to the requirements of the gospel as proclaimed by the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in these days. (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984], 107)
You may have the administration of angels, you may see many miracles; you may see many wonders in the earth; but I claim that the gift of the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon man. (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 5.)
DC 121:27-32 our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation
Neal A. Maxwell
Our forefathers "awaited with anxious expectation" for these things-to be had only in the very last times. This remarkable array of things yet to come will, of course, include the fulness of John the Baptist's record: "And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John" (D&C 93:18).
But John's record was had once before, and the things being discussed now apparently have never been fully revealed, from the beginning of the world.
When the time comes the Lord will "set forth" further things we need to know about "thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers." Will the faithful then know what ancient Abraham earlier knew? Yes, but also more! Some promised knowledge concerns the astro-physical order of the cosmos, its appointed days and years, the set times, glories, and laws that pertain to the sun, the moon, the stars, and the heavens. Perhaps even more important, we will then learn about matters "according to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods" before the world was.
We are enclosed in the midst of effulgent, everlasting meaning.
Therefore, while Liberty Jail had only two small windows out of which Joseph could look when permitted, the widest window in Liberty Jail was that through which the Prophet received a tremendous amount that mattered, including the promises of revelation to come to the Church much later, having been "reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof" (D&C 121:32). (But for a Small Moment [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1986], 113)
DC 121:28 A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld
Bruce R. McConkie
How soul-satisfying it is to know that we stand on the threshold of the house of revelation and that that which is yet to come will know no bounds. It will include the restoration of all that has ever been revealed in any dispensation of the past and also "knowledge . . . that has not been revealed since the world was until now; which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory." All of the hopes and yearnings and desires of all the holy prophets will find fruition in the coming day; all of their prophecies will be fulfilled, and they will join with mortals in the great winding-up scenes yet to be enacted. (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 485)
DC 121:29 All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed
Joseph Fielding Smith
The promise was made that knowledge by the Holy Spirit would be given to the Prophet, even the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, and things would be made known that had not been revealed since the world was until now... Much of this information was revealed to the Prophet in the following years in Nauvoo and pertained to the eternal salvation of mankind both living and dead. Much of it still awaits fulfillment, so far as the saints are concerned. How much the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith we do not know, but it was far more than he was permitted to reveal to his fellows. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 3: 197 - 198)
DC 121:30-31 if there be bounds set to the heavens... or to the sun, moon, or stars
The Lord says in this revelation that whether there be one God or many Gods, they shall be revealed; and all kingdoms, thrones, principalities and powers shall be revealed unto those who keep His commandments. Can we comprehend this? Why, there is not an astronomer that can tell us scarcely one thing that is done in Mars, or Venus, or Jupiter, or in any of the planets, aside from the earth. Here are worlds upon worlds-millions of them-and what do we know about them? Our own little planet, upon which we live, is about as much as we can comprehend. Look at the extent of the blessings that are promised us! These blessings and these revelations are worthy the attention of the Latter-day Saints. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 2, August 10, 1891)
Today we are in this little world, surrounded with a great many planets that are at present unknown to us. We scarcely know what is on this world. We know less about Mars, or Venus, or Jupiter, or these worlds that are neighbors to us. But here we are given to understand that all these worlds will be revealed. A man's mind must become immortal, and must stretch as wide as eternity and be filled with the glory of God, to ever comprehend these great blessings which are promised unto His people. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 4, January 14, 1894)
DC 121:32 that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God
Spencer W. Kimball
Before this earth was created the Lord made a blueprint, as any great contractor will do before constructing. He drew up the plans, wrote the specifications, and presented them. He outlined it and we were associated with him. This was probably when, according to the scientist, this earth was just a nebulous mass in space. Our Father called us all together as explained in the scripture, and plans were perfected now for forming an earth. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 29)
Joseph Fielding Smith
In the far distant past before the foundations of this earth were laid, a grand council was held in heaven. At that council plans were perfected and an organization formed for the government of this earth during its mortal probation. Our Eternal Father, knowing the end from the beginning, chose from among the spirits those to be his rulers and prophets to assist in carrying through his eternal purposes on this earth in relation to the final destiny of men... Joseph Smith was chosen to stand at the head of the work of the Lord in the last days, and his work was assigned to him through the fore-knowledge of our Eternal Father in the eternities before he was born. He came in the spirit of Elias to prepare the way for the coming of our Lord. No prophet since the days of Adam, save, of course, our Redeemer, has been given a greater mission. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 1: 184)
DC 121:33 How long can rolling waters remain impure?
I beg leave to say unto you, brethren, that ignorance, superstition and bigotry placing itself where it ought not, is oftentimes in the way of the prosperity of this Church; like the torrent of rain from the mountains, that floods the most pure and crystal stream with mire, and dirt, and filthiness, and obscures everything that was clear before, and all rushes along in one general deluge; but time weathers tide; and notwithstanding we are rolled in the mire of the flood for the time being, the next surge peradventure, as time rolls on, may bring to us the fountain as clear as crystal, and as pure as snow; while the filthiness, floodwood and rubbish is left and purged out by the way.
How long can rolling water remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven, upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.
What is Boggs or his murderous party, but wimbling willows upon the shore to catch the flood-wood? As well might we argue that water is not water, because the mountain torrents send down mire and roil the crystal stream, although afterwards render it more pure than before; or that fire is not fire, because it is of a quenchable nature, by pouring on the flood; as to say that our cause is down because renegades, liars, priests, thieves and murderers, who are all alike tenacious of their crafts and creeds, have poured down, from their spiritual wickedness in high places, and from their strongholds of the devil, a flood of dirt and mire and filthiness and vomit upon our heads.
No! God forbid. Hell may pour forth its rage like the burning lava of mount Vesuvius, or of Etna, or of the most terrible of the burning mountains; and yet shall "Mormonism" stand. Water, fire, truth and God are all realities. Truth is "Mormonism." God is the author of it. He is our shield. (Epistle to the Saints, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3: 296-297)
DC 121:34 there are many called, but few are chosen
Joseph Fielding Smith
Now who are those who are called? I take it that every man who is ordained to an office in the priesthood has been called. (Conference Report, October 1945, Afternoon Meeting 97.)
James E. Faust
One who is chosen is one who is the object of divine favor. Brethren, how may we be chosen? We may be chosen only when we are chosen by God. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it [to] you." [John 15:16] This happens only when the heart and soul are transformed, when we have striven with all our heart, might, mind, and soul to keep all of the commandments of God. It happens when we have kept "the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood." [D&C 84:39] ("Power of the Priesthood," Ensign, May 1997, 41)
N. Eldon Tanner
The Lord speaks of the chosen few, and he means those who are fully dependable. Let us determine now to be some of those few. Let us often ask ourselves: Am I ashamed of the gospel of Christ, or do I apologize for being a member of his Church and for being different?... Can I take the criticism and ridicule and stand up for what I know to be right, even if I have to stand alone? Can the Lord depend on me to defend his Church and his prophets, and to acknowledge and be worthy of his great sacrifice for me?
Stand up and be counted! Say with Joshua of old: "... as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Josh. 24:15.) Be on the Lord's side! ("Dependability," Ensign, Apr. 1974, 5)
DC 121:34-35 And why are they not chosen? Because... [they] aspire to the honors of men
If there are any among you who aspire after their own aggrandizement, and seek their own opulence, while their brethren are groaning in poverty, and are under sore trials and temptations, they cannot be benefited by the intercession of the Holy Spirit...
We ought at all times to be very careful that such high-mindedness shall never have place in our hearts; but condescend to men of low estate, and with all long-suffering bear the infirmities of the weak. Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen... (Epistle to the Saints, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3: 299)
N. Eldon Tanner
We just cannot imagine or calculate in any way what a great influence for good we would have in the world if every holder of the priesthood would magnify his calling, and how much happier and more successful each individual would be if he would always choose the right. How sad it is to see one who would rather be popular than do what he knows is right. I have in mind and remember so well a good member of the Church who was elected to the legislature but who wanted to be a good fellow, popular with everyone. He, wanting to be popular, let down his standards and took one drink at a social and then another. It happened again and again. He began drinking with the fellows at lunch and at dinner. And then, unintentionally I am sure, and contrary to his greatest desire, he became an alcoholic and lost the support of his constituency and the respect of his friends and family who loved him and sorrowed for him. He died an early death as an alcoholic. What a sad situation-all because he sought the praise of men more than the praise of God.
This is not a single case. We have examples of congressmen and senators who have lost their positions and self-respect and the respect of others because they wanted to be popular or didn't have the strength to resist the temptations. We have the promise of the Lord that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these things will be added unto us, meaning, of course, the things that are for our good. ("For They Loved the Praise of Men More Than the Praise of God," Ensign, Nov. 1975, 75)
DC 121:36 the rights of the priesthood are inseparable connected with the powers of heaven
Spencer W. Kimball
There is no limit to the power of the priesthood which you hold. The limit comes in you if you do not live in harmony with the Spirit of the Lord and you limit yourselves in the power you exert (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 498).
John H. Groberg
Thus, we see that while the power of the priesthood is unlimited, our individual power in the priesthood is limited by our degree of righteousness or purity.
Just as clean wires, properly connected, are required to carry electrical power, so clean hands and pure hearts are required to carry priesthood power. Filth and grime slow or prevent the flow of electrical power. Unclean thoughts and actions interfere with individual priesthood power. When we are humble, clean, and pure of hand, heart, and mind, nothing righteous is impossible. An ancient Oriental saying declares, "If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him." [Attributed to Buddha] ("Priesthood Power," Ensign, May 2001, 43)
DC 121:36 the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness
H. Burke Peterson
From this I understand that there is a difference between priesthood authority and priesthood power. Power and authority in the priesthood are not necessarily synonymous. All of us who hold the priesthood have the authority to act for the Lord, but the effectiveness of our authority-or if you please, the power that comes through that authority-depends on the pattern of our lives; it depends on our righteousness. Note again, "The powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness."
May I suggest that many of us have lost sight of one of the most important reasons for our holding the priesthood. To be an effective teachers quorum president, elders quorum president, bishop, or counselor is important-we spend many hours in training these officers. To perform the vital priesthood ordinances is essential. But even more important than all these is the need to learn how to use the priesthood to bless our families and homes.
If we live for it, ours can be a power given us from our Heavenly Father that will bring peace to a troubled household. Ours can be a power that will bless and comfort little children, that will bring sleep to tear-stained eyes in the wee hours of the morning. Ours can be the power that will bring happiness to a family home evening, the power to calm the unsettled nerves of a tired wife. Ours can be the power that will give direction to a confused and vulnerable teenager. Ours, the power to bless a daughter before she goes on her first date or before her temple marriage, or to bless a son before his departure for a mission or college. Ours, my young brethren, can be the power to stop evil thoughts of a group of boys gathered together in vulgar conversation. Ours can be the power to heal the sick and comfort the lonely. These are some of the important purposes of the priesthood. ("Priesthood-Authority and Power," Ensign, May 1976, 33)
DC 121:37 the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man
Gordon B. Hinckley
I wish to emphasize, brethren, that although we may continue to hold the office, we may lose the power. Many men seem to think that because they have been ordained, the priesthood is theirs in perpetuity to exercise as they choose. They feel they can break a covenant and a commandment here and there, and sin in this way or that, and yet still have within themselves the power of the priesthood and that God will ratify that which they speak in His holy name and in the name of the Redeemer. This becomes mockery, and I believe that in such an exercise, they take the name of God in vain. They profane the name of His Beloved Son. They desecrate the sacred gift which came through ordination, and the authority which they have lost because of transgression.
It is the Lord who said that it will be "Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man" who indulges in sin, who walks with pride, whose demeanor is one of vain ambition, or who seeks to exercise control in any degree of unrighteousness. ("Only upon Principles of Righteousness," Ensign, Sept. 1992, 69-70)
Gordon B. Hinckley
Strong words, those-but as true as the sunlight in the morning. I have seen such men. I have seen them fall and shrivel until today they wallow in a slough of misery and evil with hate-filled hearts. ("Magnify Your Calling," Ensign, May 1989, 46)
DC 121:38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God
About this time (Sep. 1831) Ezra Booth came out as an apostate. He came into the Church upon seeing a person healed of an infirmity of many years standing. He had been a Methodist priest for some time previous to his embracing the fulness of the Gospel, as developed in the Book of Mormon; and upon his admission into the Church he was ordained an Elder... [At length] he went up to Missouri as a companion of Elder Morley; but when he actually learned that faith, humility, patience, and tribulation go before blessing, and that God brings low before He exalts; that instead of the "Savior's granting him power to smite men and make them believe," (as he said he wanted God to do in his own case)-when he found he must become all things to all men, that he might peradventure save some; and that, too, by all diligence, by perils by sea and land, as was the case in the days of Jesus-then he was disappointed... and, as said before, became an apostate, and wrote a series of letters, which, by their coloring, falsity, and vain calculations to overthrow the work of the Lord, exposed his weakness, wickedness and folly, and left him a monument of his own shame, for the world to wonder at. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 215-216)
Can [apostates] thwart the purposes of God? No. They are as harmless as babies. He that sits in the heavens laughs at them, and all men holding the Priesthood of the Son of God, care nothing about their fulminations and the efforts they make to hinder the progress of truth in the earth, for all they can do, we know, will be overruled for our good. They are going the downward road that leads to death, and by and by they will have their reward. (Journal of Discourses, 21:366)
DC 121:39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men... to exercise unrighteous dominion
There is no priesthood of the Son of God that authorizes one man to oppress another or to intrude upon his rights in any way. There is no such thing in the category; it does not exist. (Journal of Discourses, 20:262)
Neal A. Maxwell
How much human suffering there has been, is, and still will be because of the usual worldly way of exercising power! Each of us has experienced, in one degree or another, the world's way. Compared with that way, we have now received the heavenly manner in which priesthood power should be exercised. And why not all forms of dominion and power? How many forgetful or unappreciative Pharaohs have come along who knew not the Josephs? (See Exodus 1:8; Acts 7:18.)
The insensitivities, the short memories, the transitions of mortal power, often ugly and violent, amply attest to the substance and style that so often accompany the misuse and play of mortal power. But the true Christian is told plainly that his style and substance must become different.
Indeed, in modern scriptures when the Lord describes the desired attributes (persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, and pure knowledge), are not these the very virtues of God Himself? the style and substance of His leadership? No wonder God desires His priesthood power to be used in those ways, for His power must be used in His way. (Plain and Precious Things [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 51)
L. Tom Perry
Husbands, are your actions at all times a reflection of your love for wife?... She must be allowed to fulfill her role as the Lord intended it for her...
She is not your chattel. She does not have to follow you in unrighteousness. She is your wife, your companion, your best friend, your full partner. The Lord has blessed her with great potential, talent, and ability. She, too, must be given the opportunity for self-expression and development. Her happiness should be your greatest concern. Learn how to magnify both your roles in order that the husband and wife can be found having fulfilling and happy lives together.
Brethren, your first and most responsible role in life and in the eternities is to be a righteous husband. ("Father-Your Role, Your Responsibility," Ensign, Nov. 1977, 63)
DC 121:41-42 no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion...
Stephen L. Richards
Here is the genius of the government of Christ. No compulsion, just persuasion; no unrighteousness or autocracy, goodness and love. Here is the answer to the religious intolerance and crimes of the centuries; the complete refutation of the alleged injustice of God. (Conference Report, October 1936, Afternoon Meeting 29)
David O. McKay
If the world would be at peace it must supplant the rule of force by the rule of love. The scriptures tell us that in the beginning Satan proffered to force all men into subjection to the will of God. By compulsion he would save every person, and for so doing he asked that the honor and the glory that are the Lord's should be his.
There is an example of dictatorship supreme!
In contrast to this, Christ's plan was to give men their free agency. (Conference Report, October 1938, Afternoon Meeting 134.)
Franklin D. Richards
On one occasion the Prophet Joseph Smith was asked how he governed his people. His reply was, "I teach the people correct principles and they govern themselves." (Recalled by John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, pp. 57-58.) The doctrine of righteous dominion so beautifully described in the 121st section of the Doctrine and Covenants is a good example of how the members of the Church are taught correct principles that enable them to govern themselves. ("The Purpose of Life: To Be Proved," Ensign, Dec. 1971, 52)
There is no authority associated with the Holy Priesthood except on the principle of persuasion, and no man has a right to plume himself upon any position he occupies in this Church, for he is simply a servant of God, and a servant of the people, and if any man attempts to use any kind of arbitrary authority, and act with any degree of unrighteousness, God will hold that man to an account for it, and we all of us have to be judged according to the deeds done in the body. We are here as saviors of men, and not as tyrants and oppressors. (Journal of Discourses, 24:268)
DC 121:41 by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned
Vaughn J. Featherstone
Gentleness is a word the Lord uses to describe a necessary trait for one who would use the priesthood. Usually we think of gentleness as a womanly trait. Gentleness is inoffensive, is kind, and has a softening way about it. Think of a gentle touch until you can almost feel it. In leadership, often a gentle touch creates discipleship whereas an iron hand creates rebellion. When we perform the ordinances of the priesthood-such as administering to the sick, giving blessings, ordaining or setting apart, baptizing, or preparing the sacrament-physical and spiritual gentleness is always called for.
Meekness is equally necessary. Those who are meek are absolutely submissive to God. They are teachable and have humble hearts. They are modest in their dress, speech, and service. The meek readily take on the servant-leader role. Righteousness and wisdom may come from any source, even from the lowliest among those whom they lead, and the meek acknowledge and accept it. Meekness causes us to focus on principles, that is, what is right and not who is most influential. The meek feel no need to receive credit; rather they desire to give it to those who may need it.
Love unfeigned suggests genuineness. There is no deceit, ploy, self-serving, spurious attitude in the person whose love is unfeigned. This is the type of love leaders must have. Those who exercise unfeigned love are authentic, genuine, natural, sincere, and honest. They do not flatter, nor do they distort. They are, as someone has said, "all wool and a yard wide."
To be a leader with unfeigned love has such great consequences that becoming one is in itself a supreme motivator. The Savior represented this principle in every act. Such love is a rare quality even in the Church, but it is indispensable to righteously functioning in the priesthood. (The Incomparable Christ: Our Master and Model [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 127)
DC 121:42 By kindness, and pure knowledge... without hypocrisy and without guile
Gordon B. Hinckley
How magnificent a figure, how royal a character is a man who has been ordained to that priesthood which is called Melchizedek after the great high priest of Salem, who walks with dignity and yet with humility before his God, who lives with respect and appreciation for his associates, who turns his back upon the temptations of the adversary, who becomes a true patriarch in his home, a man of kindness and love, who recognizes his wife as his companion and a daughter of God and his children as those for whom he has a God-given responsibility to nurture and lead in righteousness and truth. Such a man need never hang his head in shame. He lives without regret. Men may speak of him as they will, but he knows that God knows his heart and that it is pure and unsullied.
I would hope that every man and boy who is in this vast congregation tonight will leave this meeting, wherever you may be, with a firm resolve to live more worthy of membership in this great royal society. ("Only upon Principles of Righteousness," Ensign, Sept. 1992, 70)
DC 121:43 reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost
James E. Faust
In my experience, the Holy Ghost moves to reprove with sharpness only very rarely. Any reproving should be done gently in an effort to convince the one being reproved that it is done in his own interest. ("These I Will Make My Leaders," Ensign, Nov. 1980, 35)
H. Burke Peterson
Perhaps we should consider what it means to reprove with sharpness. Reproving with sharpness means reproving with clarity, with loving firmness, with serious intent. It does not mean reproving with sarcasm, or with bitterness, or with clenched teeth and raised voice. One who reproves as the Lord has directed deals in principles, not personalities. He does not attack character or demean an individual.
In almost every situation in which correction is required, private reproof is superior to public reproof. Unless the whole ward is in need of a reprimand, it is better for a bishop to speak to the individual rather than to use the collective approach. Similarly, a child or spouse has the right to be told privately of mistakes. Public correction is often cruel or, at the least, misguided.
Brigham Young gave us a key to making righteous reproof possible:
"If you are ever called to chasten a person, never chasten beyond the balm you have within you to bind up. ... When you have the chastening rod in your hands, ask God to give you wisdom to use it, that you may not use it to the destruction of an individual, but to his salvation." (In Journal of Discourses, 9:124-25) ("Unrighteous Dominion," Ensign, July 1989, 10)
I frequently rebuke and admonish my brethren, and that because I love them, not because I wish to incur their displeasure, or mar their happiness... the situation in which I stand is an important one; so, you see, brethren, the higher the authority, the greater the difficulty of the station; but these rebukes and admonitions become necessary, from the perverseness of the brethren, for their temporal as well as spiritual welfare. They actually constitute a part of the duties of my station and calling. (Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith's Teachings, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q.Cannon [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 112)
If I reprove a man, and he hates me, he is a fool; for I love all men, especially these my brethren and sisters. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:317)
Gordon B. Hinckley
[Quotes D&C 121:43-44] This, my brethren and sisters who stand at the head of families, is the key to government in the home directed by the Holy Spirit. I commend those words to every parent and do not hesitate to promise that if you will govern your families in the spirit of those words, which have come from the Lord, you will have cause to rejoice, as will those for whom you are responsible. ("Feed the Spirit, Nourish the Soul," Ensign, Oct. 1998, 5)
DC 121:45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith
Craig A. Cardon
It is significant that after inviting us to have charity toward "all men," the Lord added the phrase "and to the household of faith." Why? Doesn't "all men" include the household of faith? Consider the implications when this added phrase is understood to mean more specifically "your very own household of faith." Unfortunately, there are a few within the Church who exhibit greater charity toward nonfamily members than toward their own spouses and children, siblings and parents. They may show feigned kindness publicly while privately sowing and cultivating seeds of contention, demeaning those who should be closest to them. These things should not be.
The Lord then spoke of thoughts that are garnished-embellished and guarded-by virtue unceasingly. Such thoughts abhor sin. [See Alma 13:12] They allow our communications to be "Yea, yea; Nay, nay," [Matthew 5:37] unencumbered by guile. They see the good and the potential in others, undeterred by the inevitable imperfections in others.
...Qualities that greatly enlarge the soul; charity toward others, especially our families; and thoughts garnished with virtue adjust our spiritual temperatures to allow the doctrine of the priesthood to distil upon our souls. ("Moving Closer to Him," Ensign, Nov 2006, 94-96)
DC 121:45 let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly
Heber J. Grant
What a marvelous revelation! What a wonderful word from God to us through His prophet! How I wish that the Priesthood were always exercised with love. How I wish that virtue garnished our thoughts unceasingly. How I wish that no man holding the Priesthood of the living God was ever guilty of allowing any words to fall from his lips that he could not repeat in the presence of his mother. Then he would be, to a very great extent, in that straight and narrow path that leads to life eternal. (Conference Report, April 1937, First Day-Morning Meeting 12)
Boyd K. Packer
The scriptures are full of help on how good can influence your mind and evil control you, if you let it. That struggle will never end. But remember this:
All the water in the world,
However hard it tried,
Could never sink the smallest ship
Unless it [gets] inside.
And all the evil in the world,
The blackest kind of sin,
Can never hurt you the least bit
Unless you let it in.
When you learn to control your thoughts, you will be safe. ("The Spirit of Revelation," Ensign, Nov. 1999, 24)
Gordon B. Hinckley
There is nothing more precious in all this world than virtue... Be clean. There is nothing more beautiful in this world than a beautiful young woman who is clean in thought and word and deed, nor anything more handsome or attractive than a young man of similar character. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 383 - 384)
DC 121:46 the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion
After baptism, hands are laid on our heads, and we hear the words, "Receive the Holy Ghost." We are not told, "I give you the gift of the Holy Ghost." We are commanded to "receive the Holy Ghost." If we don't accept the gift, then we cannot have access to the Spirit. "For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift." (D&C 88:33) The realization of that blessing-the privilege of having the Holy Ghost as our constant companion-requires continued faith and diligence. It is not automatic once we are confirmed a member of the Church.
"We must continually work to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, for its presence depends on our righteousness. The Holy Ghost can influence us only as we are humble, faithful, and obedient. We must strive to keep the commandments so that we may be sensitive to the whisperings of the still, small voice." ("The Gift of the Holy Ghost," Ensign, Mar. 1994, 38)
Joseph B. Wirthlin
We should seek the Holy Ghost, who can be the constant companion of all members of the Church who are obedient and righteous. He can reveal all truth to us in our minds and in our hearts, comfort us in times of distress, prompt us in making correct choices and decisions, and help purify ourselves from sin. I know of no greater blessing that can come to us in mortality than the companionship of the Holy Ghost. ("Seeking the Good," Ensign, May 1992, 88)