Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #27 "They Must Be Chastened and Tried"


"The Prophet Joseph and those who accompanied him to Missouri in the summer of 1831 were joyful to learn that Jackson County was the location of the latter-day Zion.  They did not realize that within two years the Saints would be driven from their homes in western Missouri...

"The year 1833 was one of tribulation for the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri.  Irreconcilable conflicts developed with their neighbors over several issues...

"By the end of 1832 there were 800 Saints gathered into five branches in Jackson County.  New people were arriving almost every week..."

Although there was Church leadership set up in Jackson County by the Prophet, "Some members, however, tried to circumvent the Church leaders in Missouri by ignoring their authority to preside...

"Other difficulties arose in Zion.  Petty jealousies, covetousness, light-mindedness, unbelief, and general neglect in keeping the commandments of God came to the attention of the Prophet.  Some people in Zion even charged Joseph Smith with 'seeking after monarchical power and authority' and said that he was purposely putting off settling in Zion...

"The Prophet wrote back in the spirit of peace and sent a copy of the 'Olive Leaf' (D&C 88)...

"Following receipt of the Olive Leaf revelation, a council of high priests met on 26 February 1833 and called for solemn assemblies to be held in each of the branches (see D&C 88:70).  David Pettigrew wrote in his journal that Bishop Partridge appointed them 'as a day of confession and repentance.'"...The Lord was pleased with this new spirit...(D&C 90:34)

Peace began to prevail.  A "school of elders," like the Kirtland "school of prophets" was organized.  Prophecies were being publicized in the Church newspapers and The Book of Commandments was being printed.  The plan for the City of Zion was drawn up, which included dwellings for 15,000-20,000 people in 1 square mile with a complex of 24 temples (probably more like the Kirtland Temple--meetinghouses/temples--as the fulness of temple worship wasn't instituted until the Nauvoo Temple).  Farmers and merchants alike would live "in town," the farmers commuting to work outside town each day.

"The happy and favorable circumstances of the Saints in Jackson County ended suddenly in July of 1833.  The original inhabitants of the area became increasingly suspicious as the number of Church members in Jackson County grew rapidly...

"Jackson County's residents were a rough-and-ready group who had come from the mountainous regions of several southern states to the western edge of the United States to find freedom from societal restraints...Many of them indulged in profanity, Sabbath-breaking, horse-racing, cock-fighting, idleness, drunkenness, gambling, and violence...

"By July 1833 the Mormon population in the county was almost 1,200 with more arriving each month.  Some members boasted that thousands more were coming to live in the county...

"Protestant ministers...resented the Mormon intrusion" into their territory.  "In addition, Mormon merchants and tradesmen successfully took over a portion of the lucrative Santa Fe Trail trade previously dominated by the Missourians...

"The Missouri frontiersmen feared and hated the [Native Americans]" who were being settled nearby by the government.  "The first Mormon missionaries came into this tense atmosphere declaring the prophetic destiny of the native Americans.  The old settlers were afraid the Saints would use the [Native Americans] to help them conquer the area for their New Jerusalem...

"The conflict between the Saints and the old settlers came to a head over the slavery issue.  Missouri had come into the Union as a slave state...Some of the Saints brought abolitionist sentiments from the North and East...Missourians were highly aroused early in 1832 by rumors that the Saints were trying to persuade slaves to disobey their masters or run away."  (Quotes are all from Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 127-132)


Refer to the pdfs in Lesson #28 if you want to see detail on the persecutions of Missouri.  The information is a little more applicable to that lesson, so I put it there.


Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight took an arduous journey from Jackson to Kirtland to report the persecutions to Joseph Smith, arriving on February 22, 1834.  The Prophet said he would go to redeem Zion and the High Council ratified this decision.  30-40 of the men present volunteered.  "That same day Joseph Smith received a revelation concerning the recruitment and size of this army...They were to recruit a company of 500 men if possible--but no fewer than 100...(see D&C 103:11,15,22,29-40)"  Pairs of missionaries headed off to the branches in the eastern states to recruit.  The result was not favorable.  Joseph was displeased.  Better success was found in Kirtland.  On the appointed day, May 1, only 20 people were ready to go on the 1,000-mile march.  They started off.  May 5, over 80 joined them with Joseph Smith as commander.  They mustered a few more recruits on the way, and by the time the various camps joined on June 8th, there was a total of 207 men, 11 women, 11 children and 25 baggage wagons.

The march was as challenging as most army marches:  The men walked beside the wagons carrying packs and guns.  They often marched 35 miles a day in the oppressive heat and humidity.  They suffered hunger, thirst and blisters.  They woke at 4:00 a.m. to the bugle call.  Feeding and watering the group was very challenging.  Sometimes the best they had was rancid butter, maggot-infested bacon, rotten ham, cornmeal mush...Sometimes they had to drive swamp water full of mosquito larvae, which they strained with their teeth.  (Ewww!)  Although they drank milk while marching through an area that was infected with "milk sickness" and "puking fever," the Prophet promised they would not get the sicknesses and they didn't.

Often they were frightened by the threats of enemies around them.  They tried to keep their identity and purpose a secret.  When marching through Indianapolis under great threat, the Prophet promised they would be safe.  They divided into small groups and all got through the city undetected.

"Potential enemies notwithstanding, quarreling and contention within the camp became its most vexing problem..."  (Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 141-145)

The following are some notes on the bickering and fighting that occurred within the camp:

"Sylvester [Smith] is remembered for his quarrelsome spirit on the march with Zion’s Camp. His criticism of camp leaders for the way in which they prepared for the journey, and his complaints about the strain on the men and teams pulling the heavy wagons, sparked dissension."  (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, Sylvester Smith entry.)

Levi Hancock, Wilford Woodruff: The Prophet confronted him about it…[and] Sylvester defiantly replied that “even if Joseph Smith was a prophet he was not afraid and would contradict him in the face of all present.” (Autobiography of Levi Hancock, and journal of Wilford Woodruff, quoted in Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, p. 298)

George A. Smith: On Wednesday, 14th of May, we had been unable to obtain sufficient baking and cooking utensils, and as our commissary had been disappointed in getting a supply of bread…we began to be straitened for the staff of life. Men were sent on to Bellefontaine to have a supply baked by the time we should arrive, and although every measure practicable had been taken, Sylvester Smith  murmured against the Prophet because the Camp was not supplied with bread…

May 16th: During the day being very much fatigued with carrying my musket I put it into the baggage wagon, which was customary, and when I arrived at camp in the evening my gun could not be found. This circumstance was exceedingly mortifying to me and many of the brethren accused me of carelessness, and ridiculed me about loading my gun. Jenkins Salisbury took the most pleasure in ridiculing me for my carelessness. I afterwards learned…that the gun was pawned for whiskey by one of our company, and have always believed that Jenkins Salisbury, who was very fond of the good creature, disposed of it in that way. (George A. Smith, “My Journal,” The Instructor, 81, [1946] 78, 95)

Wilford Woodruff: We were followed by spies hundreds of miles to find out the object of our mission. We had some boys in the camp. George A. Smith was among the youngest. When they could get him alone they would question him, thinking that he looked green enough for them to get what they wanted out of him. (Smith, History of the Church, 2:67)

Joseph Smith: The 17th of May we crossed the state line of Ohio, and encamped for the Sabbath just within the limits of Indiana, having traveled about forty miles that day…We had our sentinels posted every night, on account of spies who were continually striving to harass us, steal our horses, etc.

This evening there was a difficulty between some of the brethren and Sylvester Smith…Finding a rebellious spirit in Sylvester Smith, and to some extent in others, I told them they would meet with misfortunes, difficulties and hindrances and said, “and you will know it before you leave this place,” exhorting them to humble themselves before the Lord and become united, that they might not be scourged… On Sunday morning [the following], when we arose, we found almost every horse in the camp so badly foundered that we could scarcely lead them a few rods to the water. The brethren then deeply realized the effects of discord. When I learned the fact, I exclaimed to the brethren, that for a witness that God overruled and had His eye upon them, all those who would humble themselves before the Lord should know that the hand of God was in this misfortune, and their horses would be restored to health immediately; and by twelve o’clock the same day the horses were as nimble as ever, with the exception of one of Sylvester Smith’s, which soon afterwards died. (HC 2:68-69)

George A. Smith: The Prophet Joseph took a full share of the fatigues of the entire journey…While most of the men in the camp complained to him of sore toes, blistered feet, long drives, scanty supply and provisions, poor quality of bread, bad corndodger, frozen butter, strong honey, maggoty bacon and cheese, etc., even a dog could not bark at some men without their murmuring at Joseph. If they had to camp with bad water, it would nearly cause a rebellion, yet we were in the Camp of Zion, and many of us were prayerless, thoughtless, careless, heedless, foolish or devilish, and yet we did not know it. Joseph had to bear with us, and tutor us, his children. (Memoirs of George A. Smith, p. 25)

Heber C. Kimball: June 3rd: While we were refreshing ourselves and teams, about the middle of the day, Brother Joseph got up in a wagon and said that he would deliver a prophecy…the Lord had told him that there would be a scourge come upon the camp in consequence of the fractious and unruly spirits that appeared among them, and they would die like sheep with the rot; still if they would repent and humble themselves before the Lord, the scourge in a great measure might be turned away, “but, as the Lord lives, this camp will suffer for giving way to their unruly temper. (Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, p. 47-48)

Joseph Smith: At the commencement [of the cholera attack], I attempted to lay on hands for their recovery, but I quickly learned by painful experience, that when the great Jehovah decrees destruction on any people, and makes known His determination, man must not attempt to stay His hand. The moment I attempted to rebuke the disease I was attacked, and had I not desisted in my attempt to save the life of a brother, I would have sacrificed my own. (HC 2:114)


Although Zion was not redeemed, because the Saints clearly were not ready, and Zion's Camp returned home apparently unsuccessful, the future leadership of the Church was refined and purified through the march.  Nine of the Twelve Apostles and all of the Seventy were chosen from Zion's Camp.

As Joseph Smith said, "Brethren, some of you are angry with me, because you did not fight in Missouri; but let me tell you, God did not want you to fight.  He could not organize His kingdom with twelve men to open the Gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men under the direction to follow in their tracks, unless He took them from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham"  (HC 2:182)

1 comment:

Indra Burgess said...

Thank you so much for the posting, has giving me so much insight about the situation to better understand and explain the lesson , I appreciate it very much. thanks for your efforts.!!