Section 48

DC 48 Historical Background

"Although Joseph Smith and a few other Saints settled in Kirtland in February, most of the members from New York were not prepared to migrate until the canal system was opened in the spring. The majority of these members immigrated to Ohio in one of two main bodies. In April 1831, approximately sixty members of the Colesville branch, representing about fifteen families, traveled [together]...When they reached Kirtland, they were instructed to settle in Thompson, about sixteen miles northeast of Kirtland, on land owned by Leman Copley, a recent convert.

"While the Colesville Saints were migrating from eastern New York to the Western Reserve, other members residing in the area of Fayette gathered at Kingdon, near the Seneca River, at the home where Lucy Mack Smith was living. This group then boarded two canal boats, with Lucy Smith directing the activities of about fifty individuals (twenty adults and thirty children, according to her account) on the first boat, and Thomas B. Marsh leading about thirty others on the second barge. After traversing the Cayuga and Seneca canals, these Saints continued along the Erie Canal toward Lake Erie. When they arrived in Buffalo, they met the Colesville Saints, who had been there about a week. Sister Smith's group boarded a different ship from that chartered by the Colesville members. While waiting for the ice to thaw, she asked the Saints to exercise their faith, that they might continue their journey. After the group petitioned God to break the twenty-foot clogs of ice that were jamming the harbor, she testified, 'a noise was heard, like bursting thunder. The captain cried, `Every man to his post.` The ice parted, leaving barely a passage for the boat, and so narrow that as the boat passed through the buckets of the waterwheel were born off with a crash. . . . We had barely passed through the avenue when the ice closed again, and the Colesville brethren were left in Buffalo, unable to follow us.'

"One contemporary who described the movement of Saints into Geauga County in 1831 wrote that it seemed that the 'whole world' was centering in Kirtland. 'They came,' he continued, 'men, women, and children, in every conceivable manner, some with horses, oxen, and vehicles rough and rude, while others had walked all or part of the distance. The future `City of the Saints` appeared like one besieged. Every available house, shop, hut, or barn was filled to its utmost capacity. Even boxes were roughly extemporized and used for shelter until something more permanent could be secured.'

"Both companies of New York Saints arrived in the Western Reserve during the middle of May... Commenting on this relocation of people at the call of a prophet, the Painesville Telegraph reported on May 17, 1831, that during the preceding week, some two hundred men, women, and children from New York had settled in Geauga County... this estimate of two hundred was probably high, but it is a fairly accurate count of the total number of Latter-day Saints who emigrated from New York to Ohio between the middle of January and early June of 1831." (Milton V. Backman, The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830-1838 [Salt Lake City: Desert Book Co., 1983], 47 - 49.)

DC 48:2 inasmuch as ye have lands, ye shall impart to the eastern brethren

For the Prophet, the obvious problem was where to put all these people. To solve the land shortage, the Lord required those saints with large tracts of land to consecrate it to the Church for their brethren. Individual property ownership is not as important to the Lord as is to us selfish mortals. As the Prophet once said: 

"When we consecrate our property to the Lord it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy, for this is the law of God; it is not for the benefit of the rich, those who have no need. . . . Now for a man to consecrate his property . . . to the Lord is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the widow and fatherless, the sick and afflicted, and do all he can to administer to their relief in their afflictions, and for him and his house to serve the Lord. In order to do this, he and all his house must be virtuous, and must shun the very appearance of evil." (History of the Church 3:230-31.)

Two brethren in particular agreed to provide land for the settlement of the New York saints. They were Leman Copley and Ezra Thayre. Leman Copley had been a Shaker and was a recent convert. He held "759 acres in Thompson, Ohio, about sixteen miles northeast of Kirtland." (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 68) The Colesville branch of saints, led by Newel Knight, settled on his land, but conflict soon developed between Leman and the Colesville saints.

"Just what happened at Thompson has not been preserved, but it would seem there was pettiness and selfishness. The Lord gave insight into the problem when he rebuked these Saints saying, 'You seek to counsel in your own ways. And your hearts are not satisfied. And ye obey not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.' He then condemned both the wealthy for not sharing of their substance and the poor for not curbing their greed (D&C 56:14-17).

"Leman Copley and Ezra Thayre partook of, and perhaps even generated, this spirit of contention. The result was that Copley took back his land. This threw the Church members in that area into disorder. There was a good deal of antagonism against the Saints already from nonmembers in the area. One of the consequences of the action by Leman Copley was that the Saints were placed in a position where they were dependent upon those who were less than friendly toward them. So they appointed Newel Knight to seek counsel from Joseph Smith. In order to protect them the Lord commanded them to once again move-but this time to Missouri (D&C 54:8). Here they were no longer to practice the law of consecration and stewardship but to support themselves like other people (D&C 54:9).

"The Lord revealed his anger toward those who had broken the covenant and gave a strong warning not only to those who did so but also to all those who would do so (D&C 54:4-5)." (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 230.)

DC 48:4 save all the money that ye can

While the Lord's instruction to save money was intended to allow the saints to buy land as an inheritance in Zion, the advice is timeless and applicable to us all. We should "save all the money that [we] can."

Gordon B. Hinckley

We teach self-reliance as a principle of life, that we ought to provide for ourselves and take care of our own needs. And so we encourage our people to have something, to plan ahead, keep ... food on hand, to establish a savings account, if possible, against a rainy day. Catastrophes come to people sometimes when least expected-unemployment, sickness, things of that kind. The individual, as we teach, ought to do for himself all that he can. ("This Thing Was Not Done in a Corner," Ensign, Nov. 1996, 50)

L. Tom Perry

Live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements. ("If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 36)

James E. Faust

There is a wise old saying: "Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." Thrift is a practice of not wasting anything. Some people are able to get by because of the absence of expense. They have their shoes resoled, they patch, they mend, they sew, and they save money. They avoid installment buying, and make purchases only after saving enough to pay cash, thus avoiding interest charges. Frugality means to practice careful economy. (See Webster's New World Dictionary, 2d. college edition.)

The old couplet "Waste not, want not" still has much merit. Frugality requires that we live within our income and save a little for a rainy day, which always seems to come. It means avoiding debt and carefully limiting credit purchasing. It is important to learn to distinguish between wants and needs. It takes self-discipline to avoid the "buy now, pay later" philosophy and to adopt the "save now and buy later" practice. ("Responsibility for Welfare Rests with Me and My Family," Ensign, May 1986, 20)

N. Eldon Tanner

President Grant once said: "If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means. And if there is any one thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet." (Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941, p. 111.)

The key to spending less than we earn is simple-it is called discipline. Whether early in life or late, we must all eventually learn to discipline ourselves, our appetites, and our economic desires. How blessed is he who learns to spend less than he earns and puts something away for a rainy day. ("Constancy amid Change," Ensign, June 1982, 4-5)

DC 48:4-5 the city...The place is not yet to be revealed

"The city is the New Jerusalem, which is to be built through the sacrifice and consecration of the Saints. The Church had first learned about the city from Ether 13:3-8 and two previous revelations to Joseph Smith (see D&C 28:9; 42:6-9).  The exact location of the city had not been revealed at this point in the history of the Church (see D&C 48:5). Three months after section 48 was given, however, the Lord indicated that Missouri was the place for the gathering (see D&C 52:2-3), but he did not reveal the specific location as being Jackson County until July 1831 (see D&C 57:1-3)." (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981], 104)

DC 48:5 there are to be certain men appointed, and to them it shall be given to know the place

Joseph Smith

On the 19th of June [1831], in company with Sidney Rigdon, Martin Harris, Edward Partridge, William W. Phelps, Joseph Coe, Algernon S. Gilbert and his wife, I started from Kirtland, Ohio, for the land of Missouri, agreeable to the commandment before received, wherein it was promised that if we were faithful, the land of our inheritance, even the place for the city of the New Jerusalem, should be revealed. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 188)