Section 34

DC 34 Biographical Sketch: Orson Pratt

"ORSON PRATT, fifth child of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson, was born September 19, 1811, in Hartford, Washington County, New York. He descended from early New England Pilgrims. He was of the 7th generation of Pratts in America, his first Pratt ancestor being Lieut. William Pratt, who in 1639 received a portion of land in Hartford, Connecticut...Orson lived with his parents until the Spring of 1822 attending school a few months each year, after which (at the age of 10 1/2 years), he was employed as a farm boy for 18 months, attending school a few months in the winter.

'From the age of 10 to 19 I saw much of the world and was tossed about without any permanent abiding place, but through the grace of God, I was kept from many of the evils to which young people are exposed. The early impressions of morality and religion, instilled into my mind by my parents, always remained with me; and I often felt a great anxiety to be prepared for a future state, but never commenced in real earnest, to seek after the Lord until the autumn of 1829. I then began to pray very fervently, repenting of every sin. In the silent shades of night, while others were slumbering upon their pillows, I often retired to some secret place in the lonely fields or solitary wilderness, and bowed before the Lord and prayed for hours with a broken heart and contrite spirit; this was my comfort and delight. The greatest desire of my heart was for the Lord to manifest His will concerning me. I continued to pray in this fervent manner until September 1830, at which time two Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came into the neighborhood, one of which was my brother, Parley. They held several meetings which I attended.'" (Orson Pratt's Works [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], xi-xii.)

Parley P. Pratt

I addressed crowded audiences almost every day, and the people, who had known me from a child, seemed astonished-knowing that I had had but little opportunity of acquiring knowledge by study; and while many were interested in the truth, some began to be filled with envy, and with a lying, persecuting spirit. My father, mother, aunt Van Cott, and many others, believed the truth in part; but my brother Orson, a youth of nineteen years, received it with all his heart, and was baptized at that time, and has ever since spent his days in the ministry. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1980], 43)

Orson Pratt

...two Elders of this Church came into the neighborhood (one of which was his brother Parley). I heard their doctrine, and believed it to be the ancient Gospel; and as soon as the sound penetrated my ears, I knew that if the Bible was true, their doctrine was true. They taught not only the ordinances, but the gifts and blessings promised the believers, and the authority necessary in the Church in order to administer the ordinances. All these things I received with gladness. Instead of feeling, as many do, a hatred against the principles, hoping they were not true, fearing and trembling lest they were, I rejoiced with great joy, believing that the ancient principles of the Gospel were restored to the earth-that the authority to preach it was also restored. I rejoiced that my ears were saluted with these good tidings while I was yet a youth, and in the day, too, of the early rising of the kingdom of God. I went forward and was baptized. I was the only individual baptized in that country for many years afterward. I immediately arranged my business and started off on a journey of two hundred and thirty miles to see the Prophet. I found him in the house of old father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca County, State of New York,-the house where this Church was first organized, consisting of only six members. I also found David Whitmer, then one of the three witnesses who saw the angel and the plates. . . .

I called upon the Lord with more faith than before, for I had then received the first principles of the Gospel. The gift of the Holy Ghost was given to me; and when it was shed forth upon me, it gave me a testimony concerning the truth of this work that no man can ever take from me. (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 1: 363, taken from JD, 7:177-78.)

DC 34 Introduction

"Little did nineteen-year-old Orson Pratt know when he was baptized less than six months after the April 1830 organization of the Church that he was to become as devoted a student and proponent of the Book of Mormon as any in Church history. Through his spoken and written defenses of the doctrines of the Church, particularly of the Book of Mormon, many other converts would subsequently come into the Church. And later, as an Apostle, he would have responsibility in preparing new editions of the book he defended so tirelessly.

"Shortly after his baptism, young Orson Pratt met Joseph Smith, who, under the Lord's direction, called him to the ministry and 'to lift up [his] voice as with the sound of a trump, both long and loud, and cry repentance.' (D&C 34:6.) Orson immediately accepted the first of his many mission calls, not at all confident that his testimony was sufficient:

'I felt as though I was not qualified to stand before the people, and tell them that the Book of Mormon was divine revelation, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, unless I had a stronger testimony than that afforded by ancient prophets. However great my assurance might be, it seemed to me, that to know for myself, it required a witness independent of the testimony of others.'

"When he sought this sure witness, he did not receive it immediately. 'But,' he records, 'when the Lord saw the integrity of my heart and the anxiety of my mind-when He saw that I was willing to travel hundreds of miles for the sake of learning the principles of the truth, He gave me a testimony for myself, which conferred upon me the most perfect knowledge that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and that ... the Book of Mormon, was in reality a Divine revelation, and that God had once more, in reality, spoken to the human family. What joy this knowledge gave me!'" (David J. Whittaker, "Orson Pratt: Early Advocate of the Book of Mormon," Ensign, Apr. 1984, 55)

DC 34:3 Who so loved the world that he gave his own life

How much love would it take to give one's life for the world? Answering that question is like trying to quantify the infinite. The Savior said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) The greatest love that a man can have is to lay down his life for his friends. But the Savior had an even greater love, for he would lay down his life even for his enemies. When the Savior said "Greater love hath no man than this," he was excluding himself, for of course he did have a greater love-a love beyond the scope of mortal man.

How much love would it take to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," right after these men have driven nails through your hands, wrists, and feet? How much love would it take to have the power to destroy one's enemies and yet not use it in spite of cruel abuse and persecution? How much love would it take to stay upon the cross while possessing the power to get down? An infinite love brought about an infinite Atonement to save a world of infinite iniquity.

The only other being in the universe who had such great love was the Father, who "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Jeffrey R. Holland

"I am a father, inadequate to be sure, but I cannot comprehend the burden it must have been for God in His heaven to witness the deep suffering and Crucifixion of His Beloved Son in such a manner. His every impulse and instinct must have been to stop it, to send angels to intervene-but He did not intervene. He endured what He saw because it was the only way that a saving, vicarious payment could be made for the sins of all His other children from Adam and Eve to the end of the world. I am eternally grateful for a perfect Father and His perfect Son, neither of whom shrank from the bitter cup nor forsook the rest of us who are imperfect, who fall short and stumble, who too often miss the mark." ("The Hands of the Fathers," Ensign, May 1999, 14-15)

DC 34:3 Wherefore you are my son

When an individual believes enough to make a covenant to follow Christ to the end, he or she becomes a son or daughter of Christ. In this process of being born again, the individual gets a new father-Jesus Christ, "your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters" (Mosiah 5:7). For the Savior to declare that Orson Pratt is his son is important.

As long as Orson stays faithful, he is entitled to the inheritance of a son of God. Paul saw the relationship between being children and receiving an inheritance, "if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." (Rom 8:17) What is the inheritance? "He that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father's kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given him." (DC 84:36-38). That's a pretty big inheritance!

DC 34:6 lift up your voice as with the sound of a trump

"Brother Pratt's missionary work included at least eleven missions to the eastern part of the United States, with seven different missions to Great Britain and Europe. Hundreds of people came into the fold of Christ through these efforts. One of his difficult missionary assignments was in Scotland where he labored for nine months raising up a branch of more than two hundred members. True to the call which came in 1830 by this revelation (Section 34), he knew that he was preparing the way for the Lord for his second coming. His literary works, which were many, emphasized the need for preparing oneself for the glorious coming of the Savior." (Roy W. Doxey, The Doctrine and Covenants Speaks [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 1: 202.)

DC 34:6 preparing the way of the Lord

Ezra Taft Benson

The Lord made it plain to these humble ambassadors that they were "preparing the way of the Lord for his second coming." (D&C 34:6.) They were promised that their words would be prompted by the power of the Holy Ghost and would be the will of the Lord and scripture unto the people, inasmuch as they were faithful. They were told in no uncertain terms that they were being sent "out to prove the world," that they should "not be weary in mind, neither darkened," and a hair of their head should "not fall to the ground unnoticed." (D&C 84:79-80.)

Is it any wonder, then, that with their personal testimonies that a new dispensation of the gospel was being opened; coupled with these stirring promises of the Lord, that they went forth in power and at great personal sacrifice, without monetary reward, even though their numbers were few and their circumstances poor. Add to this the fact that the heavenly pronouncements emphasized that this was the last time the gospel should be given to men as a witness in preparation for Christ's second coming and the end of the world-the end of wickedness. Theirs was the responsibility of warning the world of impending judgments, as it is ours today. ("Missionary Work: A Major Responsibility," Ensign, May 1974, 106)

DC 34:6 The Second Coming

Only once in the scriptures does the term, second coming, appear. Often, we use phrases which are either rarely used or absent in the scriptures. The term second coming is one of those terms.

DC 34:7 the time is soon at hand

Bruce R. McConkie

Many scriptures attest that "the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors." (D&C 110:16.) In our revelations the Lord says, "The time is soon at hand that I shall come in a cloud with power and great glory" (D&C 34:7), and that "the great day of the Lord is nigh at hand. . . . For in mine own due time will I come upon the earth in judgment" (D&C 43:17, 29). Speaking of his coming, the Lord says in one revelation that it shall be "not many days hence" (D&C 88:87), and in another, that the wars to precede it are "not yet, but by and by" (D&C 63:35). These and like sayings fall into perspective when we hear him say: "These are the things that ye must look for; and, speaking after the manner of the Lord, they are now nigh at hand, and in a time to come, even in the day of the coming of the Son of Man." (D&C 63:53.) We conclude that in the eternal perspective the coming of the Lord is nigh, but that from man's viewpoint many years may yet pass away before that awesome and dreadful day. And we must remind ourselves that he will not come until all that is promised has come to pass. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 30.)

Gordon B. Hinckley

Certainly there is no point in speculating concerning the day and the hour. Let us rather live each day so that if the Lord does come while we yet are upon the earth we shall be worthy...The God of heaven has ordained that day. The prophets of all dispensations have spoken of it. We know not when it will come, but its dawning is certain. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 577.)

DC 34:7-8 I shall come in a cloud with power and great glory

Orson Pratt

...just before being taken up into heaven [Jesus] said..."Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." And while he was giving them their commission and instructions and blessing them he was taken up into heaven, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And two angels stood by them on that occasion, and they said-"This same Jesus whom ye have seen taken up into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." That is, he was received into a cloud, taken up in a cloud, and when he comes the second time he will come in a cloud, personally, with his resurrected body, the same as he ascended in the cloud. This was the testimony of these two angels who stood by on that occasion. It is of this second advent, and the preparations therefore, that I desire to speak this afternoon.

Jesus will come in a cloud, or as is expressed here in the 40th chapter of Isaiah-"The glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh shall see it together." It is also expressed in the revelations of St. John, that when he comes in a cloud every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him. It seems then that the second advent of the Son of God is to be something altogether of a different nature from anything that has hitherto transpired on the face of the earth, accompanied with great power and glory, something that will not be done in a small portion of the earth like Palestine, and seen only by a few; but it will be an event that will be seen by all-all flesh shall see the glory of the Lord; when he reveals himself the second time, every eye, not only those living at that time in the flesh, in mortality on the earth, but also the very dead themselves, they also who pierced him, those who lived eighteen hundred years ago, who were engaged in the cruel act of piercing his hands and his feet and his side, will also see him at that time. Now an event of so great a character as the one of which I am speaking must necessarily have a preparation. If the Lord would prepare the way for the first coming, when he came apparently as a man, like other men; if he considered it important on that occasion to send one of the greatest Prophets that ever lived among men, why not also send Prophets or inspired men before the face of his second coming, to warn the inhabitants of the earth and prepare them for so great an event? (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 18: 171.)

DC 34:9 before that great day shall come, the sun shall be darkened...

One of the most often repeated signs of the Lord's Second Coming is this one. It will certainly be dramatic, much more dramatic than some of us imagine. Furthermore, this sign will be shown more than once. Several passages declare that before that great day shall come, the sun will be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and the stars shall fall from the heavens (DC 29:14; 34:9; 45:42). From D&C 133, we learn that this sign will also be given at the time of the Second Coming, "the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat. And so great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame, and the moon shall withhold its light, and the stars shall be hurled from their places." (D&C 133:48-49)

DC 34:10 Wherefore, lift up your voice and spare not

Orson Pratt

On the 1st day of December, 1830, I was confirmed and in accordance with the word of the Lord, I was ordained an Elder under the hands of the Prophet Joseph Smith. My first mission was to Colesville, Broome County, N.Y., where I commenced to open my mouth in public meetings, and teach the things of God, as the Holy Ghost gave me utterance. (Orson Pratt's Works [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], xiii.)