DC 30 Historical Background
The second official general conference of the church commenced in the end of September 1830. The most notable event surrounding this conference was the confusion engendered by Hiram Page. Through a stone, Hiram proclaimed to receive revelations about the governance of the church. He had been successful in persuading Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmer family that there was some truth to his revelations (See Historical Background for D&C 28). Fortunately, the Prophet arrived and was able to prevail in reestablishing unity among the saints.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this event for the Prophet was that those who should have known better, particularly Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmer family, were influenced by a false spirit (History of the Church 1:110). The Prophet inquired of the Lord and received a revelation (D&C 28) instructing Oliver Cowdery as to the proper line of authority in such cases. Now the Lord has a few things to say to the Whitmer brothers. As one of the three witnesses, David seems to have been held to a higher standard. The Lord chastens him while his brothers, Peter and John, are given encouragement and direction.
DC 30:1 you have feared man and have not relied on me for strength
"The five mistakes David Whitmer had made are not difficult to translate into today's environment, almost without modification. They were (1) you have feared man (wanted to be socially acceptable); (2) you have not relied on the Lord for strength as you should have (strength received from peers is not nearly as effective as support from God); (3) your mind has been focused on the things of this world rather than on the eternal verities including your present Church calling; (4) you have not listened to the Spirit and those leaders whom the Lord has chosen to guide you; and (5) you have been persuaded by those who seem to know much but have no authority to receive revelations from the Lord for you." (Leon R. Hartshorn, Dennis A. Wright, and Craig J. Ostler, eds., The Doctrine and Covenants, a Book of Answers: The 25th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996], 45.)
DC 30:2 your mind has been on the things of the earth more than on the things of me, your Maker
Do we get consumed with the menial things of mortality? Are we guilty as Martha of preparing leavened bread while the Bread of Life is providing necessary spiritual food? Have we let the busyness of now crowd out the business of eternity? Then we are as guilty as David Whitmer. If we persist, we will certainly miss the messages of the Spirit and find ourselves persuaded by those whom the Lord has not commanded.
Dallin H. Oaks
The early leaders of the restored church had to learn that mortal reasoning was secondary to the revelations of God. On several occasions the Lord rebuked Joseph Smith, David Whitmer, and others for not having their minds on the things of God, for yielding to "the persuasions of men" (D&C 3:6; 5:21), and for being "persuaded by those whom [the Lord had] not commanded" (D&C 30:2). Like some members of today, these early leaders had to learn that the gospel includes "many great things . . . which [are] hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord." (1 Ne. 15:3.)
In the acquisition of sacred knowledge, reason must yield to revelation. (The Lord's Way, p.21)
Ezra Taft Benson
The proud stand more in fear of men's judgment than of God's judgment. (See D&C 3:6-7; D&C 30:1-2; D&C 60:2.) "What will men think of me?" weighs heavier than "What will God think of me?" ("Beware of Pride," Ensign, May 1989, 5)
DC 30:3 ponder upon the things you have received
Robert D. Hales
Pondering takes our thoughts from the trivial things of this world and brings us closer to the gentle, guiding hand of our Maker as we heed the "still small voice" of the Holy Ghost (see 1 Kgs. 19:12; 1 Ne. 17:45; D&C 85:6). In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord spoke to David Whitmer: "Your mind has been on the things of the earth more than on the things of ... your Maker ... ; you have not given heed unto my Spirit" (D&C 30:2).
Pondering the things of the Lord-His word, His teachings, His commandments, His life, His love, the gifts He has given us, His Atonement for us-brings about a tremendous feeling of gratitude for our Savior and for the life and blessings He has given us. ("Healing Soul and Body," Ensign, Nov. 1998, 15)
DC 30:5 Biographical Sketch: Peter Whitmer, Jr.
"Peter Whitmer, Jr., was one of the six original members of the Church when it was organized on April 6, 1830, at his father's house. And like the other five he had to be baptized as a new member.
"In September, 1830, he was called by revelation to preach the gospel, together with Oliver Cowdery (D&C 30:5-8), and in the following month he was chosen by revelation to accompany Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, and Ziba Peterson on a mission to the Lamanites (D&C 30). They started for the West soon afterwards and had an arduous journey, fraught with hardship and much suffering. They raised up a large branch of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio, after which they traveled nearly one thousand miles through mud and snow, mostly on foot, to Jackson County, Missouri, where they arrived in the early part of 1831. While Parley P. Pratt and Oliver Cowdery were beginning their mission among the Lamanites across the borders, Peter Whitmer, Jr., and a missionary companion found employment as tailors in the town of Independence, Missouri. They remained there until the arrival of Joseph Smith and a member of the brethren the following July. Subsequently Peter took an active part with the Saints in Jackson County, where he was ordained a High Priest October 25, 1831, by Oliver Cowdery. He suffered together with the rest of the Saints during the Jackson County persecutions in 1833, and was among those who found a temporary home in Clay County.
"Ill for a number of years, Peter Whitmer took a turn for the worse and died on a farm about two miles from Liberty, Clay County, on September 22, 1836. He was buried by the side of his brother, Christian, who had died November 27, 1835. Peter left a wife and three children, all daughters, one of them being born after his death. Like all the other witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Peter Whitmer, Jr., remained faithful to his original testimony concerning it." (Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium, p.68)
DC 30:5-6 take your journey with your brother Oliver
"Oliver (D&C 28), Peter Whitmer, Jr. (D&C 30), and then Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson (D&C 32) were called in October 1830 to go to Missouri as special missionaries to the Lamanite nations.
"Their knapsacks and satchels loaded with copies of the Book of Mormon, the quartet headed west. After a stop at the Cattaragus Indian reservation in western New York, they made a second proselyting stop at the door of Parley's former pastor, Reverend Sidney Rigdon, at Mentor, Ohio. Sidney listened, let them preach to his congregation, and two weeks later became a Latter-day Saint. His conversion was considered the most effective advertising received by the Church since its inception; and it triggered a chain reaction which resulted in 130 baptisms before the missionaries departed, and hundreds of others later as the new Ohio converts themselves turned into missionaries. (Porter, "A Study of the Origins of the Church," p. 281-84; Journal History, Oct. 1830.) On the Missouri frontier, however, government agents refused to allow Indian tribes to listen to the missionaries.
"While the Lamanite missionaries worked in the west, new converts Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge traveled east in December, met Joseph Smith, and added their labors to the New York missionary work. Sidney, probably the most culturally eloquent speaker the young Church had, drew crowds in many important towns before he and Joseph journeyed to Kirtland in January.
"Because of the work of these first missionaries, and others whom records do not identify, the six-month-old Church by December 1830 had about 190 members in New York and hundreds more in the Kirtland area. The white field was being harvested, and the Church stepped unhesitatingly into the role it has never since relinquished, that of a missionary Church committed to preaching the gospel to every nation, tongue, and people." (William G. Hartley, "Every Member WAS a Missionary," Ensign, Sept. 1978, 24)
Peter Whitmer Jr.
We came to Independence on the twelfth month on the 13th day of the month. On the 14th day of the month I began to labor with mine own hands. Brother Oliver and Parley and Frederick started to see the Delaware tribe. In a few days they came to see me and Brother Ziba and they declared that the Lamanites received them with great joy. My brethren started again to the Delawares and also to the Cheyennes, but to our sorrow there came a man whose name was Gumoran and told us that he was a man under authority. He told us that he would apprehend us to the garrison. We then resorted among the gentiles and declared the word and baptized 7. We started for the state of Ohio. (Keith W. Perkins, "True to the Book of Mormon-The Whitmers," Ensign, Feb. 1989, 38)
DC 30:7 none have I appointed to be his counselor over him in the church... except... Joseph Smith Jr.
In April 1838, when the Far West High Council censured Oliver Cowdery for certain actions and feelings, Oliver was struck with a near-fatal case of pride. As one reads the events surrounding his excommunication (History of the Church, 3:16-18), it becomes apparent that Oliver didn't recognize the authority of the Far West High Council. He felt that if he could only discuss the matter with the Prophet the whole thing could have been settled, declaring, " I could have wished that those charges might have been deferred until after my interview with President Smith." (History of the Church, 3:17, footnotes) Perhaps some of Oliver's misdirected self-assurance came from the passage in question in which he is told that none shall be his counselor "concerning church matters" except Joseph Smith, Jr.
Truthfully, in 1830, no body of men could claim ecclesiastical authority over Oliver Cowdery. At the time, he was the second elder in the church and no one except Joseph had any more authority than he did. However, by 1838, Oliver was indeed subject to the Far West authorities. He was not a member of the First Presidency but seemed to think he still deserved special consideration and a higher court. His excommunication was truly tragic but teaches us important lessons. Hereby we see the problem of supporting the Prophet but rejecting local leadership.
DC 30:9 my servant John
For biographical information on John Whitmer, see commentary for DC 15 &16.
DC 30:9 proclaim my gospel as with the voice of a trump
"[John Whitmer] did as directed by divine revelation: 'Let your time be devoted to the studying of the scriptures, and to preaching, and to confirming the church at Colesville' (D&C 26:1). He strengthened the Colesville Saints and acted as a scribe for the Bible translation in its early stages. Following the September 1830 Church conference in Fayette he was told, 'My servant John, ... thou shalt commence from this time forth to proclaim my gospel, as with the voice of a trump' (D&C 30:9).
From Fayette, New York, to Kirtland, Ohio, John shared news of the Restoration, but not all were pleased with his message. 'A young man by the name of Whitmer arrived here last week ... with a new batch of revelations from God, as he pretended, which have just been communicated to Joseph Smith,' announced the Painesville Telegraph. Undaunted by mockery, John unflinchingly asserted the truthfulness of the gospel." (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 332.)
DC 30:10 Biographical Sketch: Philip Burroughs
"Birth: 1795, New Hampshire. Son of Jonathan Burroughs.
"Before becoming a gentry farmer in Fayette, Seneca County, New York, Philip Burroughs fought in the War of 1812 with the New York militia and was elected 'overseer of the highways and fence viewer' for Junius, Seneca County, New York, in April 1819.
"In September 1830 his neighbor, twenty-eight-year-old John Whitmer, was directed by the Lord to 'proclaim my gospel, as with the voice of a trump. And your labor shall be at your brother Philip Burroughs', and in that region round about.' (D&C 30:9-10.) A Church meeting was held at the Burroughs's home on 5 September 1830. Parley P. Pratt, ordained an elder only a few days before, addressed a large audience at the home. 'The Holy Ghost came upon me mightily,' penned Parley. 'I spoke the word of God with power, reasoning out of the Scriptures and the Book of Mormon. The people were convinced, overwhelmed in tears, and four heads of families came forward expressing their faith, and were baptized.' A record of John Whitmer's preaching at the home has not been found.
"Whether Philip Burroughs was converted remains a mystery. The Honorable Diedrich Willers, writer and Seneca County historian, believed that Philip was 'at one time, attracted to the LDS Church, but did not become a member.' Samuel Smith and Orson Hyde may not have concurred. In 1832 they visited with the Burroughs family, and Samuel wrote, 'He was glad to see us & Sister Buroughs was strong in the faith held a meeting in the school house a considerable number of people came to hear & paid good attention.' Orson Hyde noted, 'Brother B. [was] rather low, but left him about persuaded to go to Zion.'
"In June 1860 Philip was still residing in New York with his wife, Anna, and five other family members. He was a farmer by trade, owning acreage valued at five thousand dollars." (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 41-42.)